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Memories of his Time
Chapter III


The Bar, upon which the condition of Scotland has always so much depended, was rich in talent, and its public lines were deeply marked. It was divided into Whigs and Tories, with an overwhelming numerical majority in favor of the latter. The seniors— meaning by this term those who had secured, or had begun to secure, practice prior to the decided outbreak of the French revolution in 1790—could not be then turned off the professional course by politics. The public favor was strongly with the Tories; who had also the much more valuable advantage of the very undisguised favor of the Bench. But still the Whigs, having started, could not be prevented going on with the race. But all hope of official preferment, and even of any professional countenance that power could shew them, was sternly and ostentatiously closed against them. A sacrifice of principle would have relaxed the interdiction; but in no one instance was the sacrifice made or imagined.

Of the juniors—by whom I mean those who came to the Bar between 1790 and 1804, the hot stage of our political fever, which our second war cooled—very nearly the whole junior practice, and absolutely the whole of everything else that patronage could confer, was engrossed by the Tories. Their Whig brethren were, practically, proscribed. They liberated themselves ultimately, and vindicated their proper places; but it was under proscription, with all its privations and bitterness, that their course began.

This single, and most blessed, fact explains important distant results. Certainty of easy success, paraded, not too modestly, as triumphant evidence of superior merit, deeply and irrecoverably injured the Government juniors, on whom, far more than on the seniors, the coming times were to depend. There was such a crowd of candidates for favor, that the eager mendicants had no such obvious way of pushing their claim as by excess of party zeal and party service. This is common in all parties. But it was unfortunate for these men that the policy of the party which they had to promote was not connected with enlightened objects or principles. The only duty presented to them was one, which, the better they practised it, was the worse for themselves. All they had to do was u to maintain the cause of good order,” which meant to resist change, to uphold whatever was, and to abuse as democrats all who differed from them; a task not calculated to liberalize the mind. Their worst qualities were most fostered. The consequence scarcely requires to be stated. They produced several most excellent men and very respectable lawyers, but not one person, except Walter Scott, who rose to distinction in literature,' and not one who was looked up to by the country as its guide or instructor in public affairs or in any branch of political philosophy. There never was a period during which in these fields the Tory side of the Bar was so barren.

Those on the opposite side, who saw themselves excluded from everything that power could keep from them, reaped the natural advantages of this position. It gave them leisure: persecution cherished elevation of character and habits of self-dependence. Being all branded with the same mark, and put under the same ban, they were separated into a sect of their own, within which there was mirth and friendship, study and hope, ambition and visions. There was a particular place at the north end of the Outer House which was the known haunt of these doomed youths. And there did they lounge session after session, and year after year, employed sufficiently now and then by a friendly agent to shew what was in them, but never enough to make them feel that they were engaged in a fair professional competition: reconciled however to their fate; and not at all depressed by their bad character. The most important among them (besides other meritorious, though humbler, names) were John Macfarlan, Archibald Fletcher, James Grahame, George Joseph Bell, Thomas Thomson, Francis Jeffrey, James Moncreiff, Henry Brougham, George Cranstoun, and Francis Horner. These names indicate a greater amount of accomplished talent, and greater public service in literature, in policy, and in law, than has ever distinguished any era of the Scotch Bar.

This was the general condition of the Bar. The individuals most remarkable on account of their professional eminence, and their public importance, were—on the popular side, Erskine, Clerk, and Gillies; on the Government side, Blair, Hope, and Dundas. The three last, though followed by a large shoal of younger fry, had no leviathans in their party greater than themselves. The three first had several persons in their wake not at all inferior to themselves in solidity and spirit, and their superiors at last in general reputation but these three were the leaders in the meantime.

Robert Blair, the son of the reverend author of "The Grave,” was a species of man not very common in Scotland. He had a fine manly countenance, a gentleman-like portly figure, a .slow dignified gait, and a general air of thought and power. Too solid for ingenuity, and too plain for fancy, soundness of understanding was his peculiar intellectual quality. Within his range nobody doubted, or could doubt, Blair’s wisdom. Nor did it ever occur to any one to question his probity. He. was all honesty. The sudden opening of the whole secrets of his heart would not have disclosed a single speck of dishonor. And all his affections, personal and domestic, were excellent and steady.

He had one quality, or rather habit, so marked that it was the only one by which some people knew him, and which affected all his proceedings. It was generally called laziness, but was perfectly distinct from the ignoble sloth and the apathetic indifference which this term is meant to describe. He was strong in principle, and grudged no exertion that principle required; and his feelings were warm, and his temper hot. These are not the attributes of laziness. But he had certainly a great taste for contemplative repose, and a magnificent disdain of the paltry distractions and low pursuits by which the self-possession of repose is so commonly disturbed. This of course implied a considerable extinction of vulgar labour, and a great aversion to many of the efforts that public men are often required to make, £ind to many of the occupations in which they are often expected to engage. Instead of impairing Blair’s usefulness, as it used to be said to do, this dislike of disturbance greatly promoted it. It disinclined him from meddling with the thousand little teazing and degrading affairs in which men of influence get involved, and tended to secure his purity and independence. Hence he never stooped to act in scenes unworthy of him, and passed through a life beset by competitions, without being ever drawn, so much as for a moment, from his high even path by any contemptible object. In dignity, sense, honesty, and, when not excited, in repose he was an absolute rock.

But he was very apt to be excited. And I have 110 doubt that he took refuge in repose in order to keep down the tendency ; though its having this effect may be questioned. His temperament was inflammable. The great check to such a constitution arises out of the suppression produced by the necessities of human intercourse. But Blair’s indolence avoided these. He exposed himself so seldom to opposition, that, instead of being practised into coolness by it, its friction made him blaze. It is rare to And a fiery disposition and a strong love of ease combined. In Blair each promoted the other. The interruption of the ease raised the fire; the irritation of the fire made a relapse into ease delicious.

Amidst almost boundless general admiration, persons who thought themselves more discriminating used to underrate his learning and his speaking; but this depreciation was almost always provoked by the exaggeration of injudicious friends. The exact truth admits of no doubt. He was very learned as a lawyer, and respectably learned as a practical gentleman. Science, as such, either moral or physical, he had never studied. But besides English literature, he read French, Greek, and Latin; and on the whole was a liberally intelligent man.5 The merit of his speaking lay in two things —in luminous exposition of legal views, and in the effect with which his warmth, manliness, and sincerity enabled him to express moral emotion, chiefly indignation. Neither his position nor his taste had ever required him to cultivate the higher and more general habits of language and of thought that can only be generated in spheres superior to courts of law. There is therefore no sense in describing him as a great orator, for his circumstances did not admit of his being so. It is surely enough to say, and it is true, that though his diction was poor, and though his voice, which was good when he was calm, got sputtering and screechy when he became excited, he was, within the line of the forensic walk to which he confined himself, as good a speaker as that line requires in a man whose principal weapon is his wisdom. His true eloquence was in the dignity of his look and manner, and the weight of his reputation.

Nothing could be more characteristic than his progress. Beginning with the advantage of a respectable but not a high origin, he devoted himself quietly and steadily for rising, by merit alone, in the vocation he had chosen. He did rise at last, by legal force and good character, to the highest and best sort of practice; and having reached this eminence, he maintained it easily. No other counsel in my time has had a more universal or just reputation as a safe legal guide; nor does the life of any other barrister exhibit a more striking example of the value of character on the exertions of this profession. He might have had any promotion that he chose; but I have heard his friend the first Lord Melville say, that George the Third used to speak of him as the u man who would not go up.” His noble indifference about office, and his abhorrence of the intrigues by which office is too frequently obtained, made him prefer the independence of his excellent practice, which he kept as if by right. While others were pushing and jostling for those things, which he was glad to be quit of, he held to his comfortable Solicitorship and to his own way so steadily, that there was a line along the floor of the Outer House where he generally walked, and which everybody else kept off when he was there, respecting it as his quarter-deck. His very superiors, both at the Bar and on the Bench, stood in awe of him. For example, in a' criminal trial when the Lord Advocate is present, his Lordship, after having seen to the business part of it, generally leaves his representatives to hear the address to the jury of the prisoner’s counsel, to endure the summing up, and to weary for the verdict. I doubt if Blair ever remained once. He withdrew, and left his chief and .the case to their fate. His rising and moving off, which was done slowly and openly, always caused a smile; contrasted as it was with the visible desire of the colonel to go also, if he could only get the major to stay—a proposal, however, impossible to be made.

Yet, as 1 well know, he was most kind to young men ; who, especially when they saw him at Avon-ton, his country place near Linlithgow, were always charmed with his attentions, and struck with his dignified but friendly style. His conversation, when he chose to indulge in it, was excellent, being intelligent, natural, and quiet. But he certainly had no objection to silence. Many were the jokes, even to himself, about his taciturnity. I have seen him play a long round game with a dozen of people, without uttering a single word. But in this chattering world, one sensible man out of a million may well be allowed to be sometimes voluntarily dumb.

General politics he had never considered. His opinions were those of his party. Speculation indeed was not the habit of his mind; and innovation, besides being connected with outrage, disturbed his tranquillity, and excited him. But though devoid of political philosophy, and acting with a domineering party, his steady head, aided powerfully by a distaste of practical faction, saved his conduct from imputation, and his mind from harshness.

Robert Dundas of Arniston, the son of one Lord President, and the grandson of another, was, in public affairs, the most important person in this country. For he was Lord Advocate in the most alarming times, and at a period when extravagant and arbitrary powers were ascribed to that office. I knew him well; and lived many autumns with him, at Arniston, in my youth.

His abilities and acquirements were both moderate; and owing to the accident of his birth, which placed him above all risk of failure in life, he was never in a situation where he was compelled to improve either. Hence with all the advantages of his position, all the favor of agents, and all the partiality of courts, he never commanded any independent private practice. His speaking, which was curiously bad, injured the effect of his better powers. For he had two qualifications which suited his position, and made him not merely the best Lord Advocate that his party could have supplied, but really a most excellent one. These consisted in his manner, and in his moderation. He was a little, alert, handsome, gentleman-like man, with a countenance and air beaming with sprightliness and gaiety, and dignified by considerable fire; altogether inexpressibly pleasing. It was impossible not to like the owner of that look. No one could contemplate his animated and elegant briskness, or his lively benignity, without feeling that these were the reflections of an ardent and amiable heart. His want of intellectual depth and force seemed to make people like him the better. And his manner was worthy of his appearance. It was kind, polite, and gay; and if the fire did happen to break out, it was but a passing flash, and left nothing painful after it was gone.

Resistance of revolution, which he deemed his main public duty, implied the maintenance of his party, and of the Scotch supremacy of his family; and these accordingly were his direct objects, as the means of attaining the end. But though obliged to cultivate a very intemperate faction, he had the prudence to be less violent than his followers, and gained and deserved a character for moderation as the public accuser, which peculiarly fitted him for his place. It is true that it was on his motion that many of the iniquities of the Court of Justiciary were committed; but then he moved for nothing beyond what that Court held him to be legally entitled to, or beyond what the public approved of.

I consider it as quite certain that he might have got every political opponent transported that he had chosen to indict. But the fewness of his victims is the most honourable fact by which the proceedings of any Lord Advocate could then be distinguished. That he had Blair and Hume at hand for aid in law, or that he was assisted or controlled in his measures by his sagacious uncle, Lord Melville, are no deductions from his merits. His being so counselled was a proof of his sense. Nor can his success be explained, as has been attempted, by the power of his office, the devotion of the party he led, the hereditary greatness, or the hereditary hospitality, of the House of Arniston. These things might all have concurred # in a man of violence, and only made his offensiveness the greater. They would have availed nothing to Dundas, if he had been vindictive as public prosecutor, or shabby in his conduct, or sour in his looks.

Charles Hope, who succeeded Dundas as Lord Advocate in 1803, and was afterwards Justice-Clerk and Lord President, was the tongue of the party, and in the van of all its battles. He was tall and well set up, and had a most admirable voice — full, deep, and distinct, its very whisper heard along a line of a thousand men. Kind, friendly, and honourable, private life could neither enjoy nor desire a character more excellent. The vehemence of his politics, combined with his power of speaking, made him the usual organ of his political friends, in so much that, I believe, it was he who was put forward to move Henry Erskine’s dismissal from the Deanship. Yet even this unfavourable position never alienated his heart from an adversary personally. He would have gone, and indeed did go, as far as anybody to tread down his opposites politically ; but without ill-nature, or personal hostility, or even absence of candour. It is needless to say that the motion never cooled Erskine’s affection for Hope, and neither did it Hope’s for Erskine. No breast indeed could be more clear than Hope’s of everything paltry or malevolent. And indirectness was so entirely foreign to his manly nature,

healthy expression. If Chantrey ever saw him, it must have been when he was dying, a state which lasted some years; and accordingly the statue expresses thoughtful languor, not amiable alacrity, which was the outward character of the original.

that even in liis plainest errors liis adversaries liad always whatever advantage wras to be gained from an honest disclosure of his principles and objects. In short, it is not easy to estimate his moral nature too highly.

The possession of considerable ability is implied in his extensive professional practice, and in the well performed duties of his high judicial appointments. There is no peculiar faculty by which his intellect can be individualized. His were the ordinary powers of a well-educated gentleman, whose vocation was in practical law. It was not by superiority of talent that he was distinguished, but by his power of public speaking, for which he had many of the qualifications in a very remarkable degree. His language was full and appropriate; his manner natural and commanding ; and his voice was surpassed by that of the great Mrs. Siddons alone, which, drawn direct from heaven and worthy to be heard there, was the noblest that ever struck the human ear. Within the range of luminous statement and manly sentiment he rarely failed to be effective and pleasing.

His great defect, both as a speaker and as a public man, consisted in a want of tact; and this arose from the warmth, or rather the heat of his temperament. It might have been supposed that one whose feelings were so good, and who was so constantly evoking the good feelings of others, could, under this star, scarcely go off the right path. And lie never would, had he not been too often under the influence of a star of his own. Declamation was his weapon, and it is one that is seldom sheathed in correct wisdom. The very act of declaiming inflamed him: this elevated him, needlessly, into the region of thunder; and then there was generally a blaze, with which nobody could sympathise. This infirmity wag apt sometimes to come over him even in council. The result was that, though possessed of superior abilities and every virtue, he was often felt to be unsafe; and his vehemence made him enemies who, hurt by his strong language, represented him as harsh. He may have been occasionally overbearing and provoking; but I am certain that this never proceeded from any bad passion, or even unkind feeling, but was solely the consequence of honest though erroneous emotion, and of over-animated mental nerves. Had he been acting in a higher sphere, and trained earlier under the discipline of a more formidable audience, with the elements of eloquence which he so largely possessed, I cannot doubt that he would have proved a great speaker and a more sound adviser.

It is a pleasure to me to think of him. He was my first—I might almost say my only, professional patron, and used to take me with him on his circuits; and in spite of my obstinate and active Whiggery has been kind to me through life. When his son, who was Solicitor-General in 1830, lost that office by the elevation of the Beform Ministry, and I succeeded him, his father shook me warmly by the hand, and said "Well, Harry, I wish you joy. Since my son was to lose it, I am glad that your father’s son has got it.” It was always so with him. Less enlightened than confident in his public opinions, his feelings towards his adversaries, even when ardently denouncing their principles, were liberalized by the native humanity and fairness of his dispositions.

The name of Charles Hope, the Lieutenant-Colonel of our First or Gentlemen Regiment of Volunteers, is associated with our recollections of these establishments. He entered into their business, as indeed into all his pursuits, with his whole heart, and persevered to the end. The judge’s wig was by no means incompatible, in his sight, with the colonel’s cocked hat. The occupation had strong attractions for him, and he was an excellent officer.

Two great legal works appeared about this time —the Mercantile Commentaries of Bell, and the Criminal Commentaries of Hume; works that will ever hold their places in our system. Bell’s is the greatest work on Scotch Jurisprudence that has appeared since tlie publication of Lord Stair’s Institute. Its authority has helped to decide probably eighty out of every hundred mercantile questions that have been settled since it began to illuminate our courts; and it has done, and will do, more for the fame of the law of Scotland in foreign countries than has been done by all our other law books put together.

Hume’s work was composed in a great measure for the purpose of vindicating the proceedings of the Criminal Court in the recent cases of sedition, and was therefore hailed with the loudest acclamations by the friends of those whose proceedings stood so much in need of defence. But we are far enough now from the passions of those days to enable us to appreciate its merits more candidly. And the judgment of the public is right in having decided that, for ordinary practice, it is a most useful work, the importance of which can scarcely be understood by those who have never had to grope their way amidst the darkness which he removed, and that there its merits end. But his admirers disdain this praise, and maintain it to be a great work of original thought, and the model of a criminal system, the supposed imperfections of which the author has shewn not to exist. They will not allow his style to be heavy and affected, his delineation of principle superficial, his views on all matters of expediency or reason narrow, indeed monastic, The proceedings of the savage old Scotch Privy Council are held up by him as judicial precedents, even in political cases, at the end of the eighteenth century. The impeachable domineering of Braxfield in 1794 is just as commendable in his pages, as if the times had been moderate, and the judge impartial. As an institutional writer he certainly could not exclude either ancient or modern proceedings from his view; and he was perfectly entitled to put his own value on them. So was any mere chronicler of legal events. But before any one can deserve the praise of being an enlightened expounder of a system of law not previously explained or methodised, and of first delivering to the people the rules which they must obey, and ought to admire, the past actings of courts ought not to be merely stated, but to be criticised and appreciated, so that future tribunals may be guided, and the public instructed, on defects and remedies. On such matters there is no book that has worse stood the test of time. There is scarcely one of his favourite points that the legislature, with the cordial assent of the public and of lawyers, has not put down.*

There were no judicial reporters or 44 collectors of decisions formerly, except two advocates, who were appointed and paid by the Faculty for doing this work. Right reporting was attended then with some risk. It had never been the practice to give any full and exact account of what passed on the Bench, but only results. The public, or at least the independent portion of the legal profession, had begun to require something more, and their Lordships were very jealous of this pretension. They considered it as a contempt; and the contempt was held to be aggravated by the accuracy of the report. Mr. Robert Bell, afterwards lecturer on conveyancing to the Society of Writers to the Signet, was the first who adventured on independence in this^matter; and he announced that he meant to report without any official appointment, and to give the opinions of the judges. This design was no sooner disclosed than he met with many threatening hints, and as much obstruction as could be given in an open court. The hated but excellent volume at last appeared; and though the judges were only denoted by letters, he was actually called into the robing room, and admonished to beware. Eskgrove’s objection was u the fellow taks doon ma’ very words”— a great injury to his Lordship, certainly. More than ten years passed before it was acknowledged by rational judges that the offensiveness of publishing each opinion was no inconsiderable proof of its utility. Fear lest the Faculty should assert its right generally disposed the court in favor of submissive and unambitious collectors ; and this, it was thought, operated against Jeffrey, who, in 1801, dared to aspire to the office.

The party that would not let Jeffrey subside into a reporter were soon rewarded in a way they little thought of. His failure in this competition was one of the proximate causes of the appearance of the Edinburgh Review,'0 of which the first number was published on the 10th of October 1802. It elevated the public and the literary position of Edinburgh to an extent which no one not living intelligently then can be made to comprehend.

On looking back at those times, it is impossible not to be struck with the apparent absence of enlightened public views and capacities all over the community. I do not recollect a single Scotch work of any permanent, or almost of any respectable temporary, value, which even the excitement of that age produced. When the Edinburgh Review appeared it received no published opposition, and no material aid on public questions, from any person at that time in public life. Even at the bar, which had always contained the best educated and the ablest of the middle and upper ranks, and been in advance of all other classes, Horner, Brougham, or Jeffrey, at the age of twenty-five, or perhaps of twenty-one, were better prepared to instruct and direct the public than all the other counsel, either Whig or Tory, in practice when they came forward. Indeed the suppression of independent talent or ambition was the tendency of the times. Every Tory principle being-absorbed in the horror of innovation, and that party casting all its cares upon Henry Dundas, no one could, without renouncing all his hopes, commit the treason of dreaming an independent thought. There was little genuine attraction for real talent, knowledge, or eloquence on that side; because these qualities can seldom exist in combination with abject submission. And indeed there was not much attraction for them among the senior and dominant Whigs, among whom there was a corresponding loyalty to the Earl of Lauderdale. The adherents of both parties were saved the trouble of qualifying themselves is taking any charge of public matters ; the one by knowing that, in so far as their aid implied any independence, it would be offensive, and that, if they would only obey, their champion would be sure to carry them through ; the other by despair of being either allowed to co-operate, or able to resist.

To Archibald Constable, the publisher of the Edinburgh Review, the literature of Scotland has been more indebted than to any other bookseller. Till he appeared, our publishing trade was at nearly the lowest ebb; partly because there was neither population nor independence to produce or to require a vigorous publisher ; and partly, because the publishers we had were too spiritless even for their position. Our principal booksellers were Bell and Bradfute, and Manners and Miller, in the Parliament Close; Elphinstone Balfour, Peter Hill, and William Creech, in the High Street; and William Laing in the Canongate. Laing was a good collector of good books, chiefly old ones, but did not publish much. Creech was connected with the publication of the works of Robertson and other respectable authors. All the rest were unimportant. Constable began as a lad in Hill's shop, and had hardly set up for himself when he reached the summit of his business. He rushed out, and took possession of the open field, as if he had been aware from the first of the existence of the latent spirits, which a skilful conjurer might call from the depths of the population to the service of literature. Abandoning the old timid and grudging system, he stood out as the general patron and payer of all promising publications, and confounded not merely his rivals in trade, but his very authors, by his unheard-of prices. Ten, even twenty, guineas a sheet for a review, £2000 or £3000 for a single poem, and £1000 each for two philosophical dissertations,0 drew authors from dens where they would otherwise have starved, and made Edinburgh a literary mart, famous with strangers, and the pride of its own citizens.

Creech was one of the founders of the Speculative Society, and a person of some local celebrity. He owed a good deal to the position of his shop, which formed the eastmost point of a long thin range of building that stood to the north of St. Giles’ Cathedral, its length running from west to east parallel to the Cathedral, and about twenty feet from it. Consequently the street north of the Cathedral was not one half of its present width. His windows looked down the High Street; so that his sign, "Creech,” above his door was visible down to the head of the Canongate. The best thing he did was to make a curious and valuable collection illustrative of the modern changes of Edinburgh manners and habits. In spite of its absurd' title,"Fugitive Pieces,” it is very interesting, and, in so far as one who knew only one end of the period can judge, generally correct. The position of his shop in the very tideway of all our business made it the natural resort of lawyers, authors, and all sorts of literary idlers, who ’ were always buzzing about the convenient hive. All who wished to see a poet or a stranger, or to hear the public news, the last joke by Erskine, or yesterday’s occurrence in the Parliament House, or to get the publication of the day or newspapers—all congregated there ; lawyers, doctors, clergymen, and authors. I attended the writing school of William Swanson, the great handspoiler of the time, whose crowded classroom was on the south side of the High Street, close by the Cross and I always tried to get a seat next a window, that I might see the men I heard so much talked of moving into and out of this bower of the muses, or loitering about its entrance.

There was no class of the community so little thought of at this time as the mercantile. Their municipal councils, and chambers of commerce, and guilds, and all their public associations were recognized, because they had some power, however little. But individually, or merely as numbers of merchants, they were entirely disregarded. They had no direct political power; no votes; and were far too subservient to be feared. The lairds were not merely more deferred to, but were in the height of their influence. They returned thirty members to Parliament, and had themselves and their connections in all public positions of honor or of pay. But our Scotch commerce was only dawning; and no merchants, great by the mere force of their wealth, had made either themselves or their calling formidable. Still less had they risen to importance as liberal patrons of liberal pursuits. This indeed is a character which has not arisen in Scotland even yet. Academies have been founded by the aristocratic merchants of Italy, and galleries filled with art by the republican burgomasters of Holland, and colleges founded, or splendidly aided, by the munificence of traders in monarchical England; but nothing is so rare in Scotland as a merchant uniting wealth with liberal taste, and the patronage of art or science with the prosecution of private concerns. All Edinburgh attests that they have been profuse in the erection of charities that were to bear the names of the founders; and neither political nor ecclesiastical parties can justly charge them with shabbiness. But what have they done for learning, or art, or science ? We are neither rich enough, nor old enough, for the rise of merchants princely in their tastes.

No part of the home scenery of Edinburgh was more beautiful than Bellevue, the villa of General Scott. It seemed to consist of nearly all the land between York Place and Canonmills—a space now almost covered by streets and houses. The mansion-house stood near the eastern side of the central enclosure of what is now Drummond Place; and a luxurious house it was. The whole place waved with wood, and was diversified by undulations of surface, and adorned by seats and bowers and summer houses. Queen Street, from which there was then an open prospect over the Frith to the northwestern mountains, was the favourite Mall. Nothing certainly, within a town, could be more delightful than the sea of the Bellevue foliage gilded by the evening sun, or the tumult of blackbirds and thrushes sending their notes into all the adjoining houses in the blue of a summer morning. We clung long to the hope that, though the city might in time surround them, Bellevue at the east, and Drumsheugh (Lord Moray’s place) at the west, end of Queen Street might be spared. But in 1802 Bellevue was sold. The magistrates, I believe, bought it; and the whole trees were instantly cut down. They could not all have been permanently spared; but many of them might, to the comfort and adornment of the future buildings. But the mere beauty of the town was no more thought of at that time by anybody than electric telegraphs and railways; and perpendicular trees, with leaves and branches, never find favor in the sight of any Scotch mason. But indeed in Scotland almost every one seems to be a u foe to the Dryads of the borough groves.” It is partly owing to our climate, which rarely needs shade; but more to hereditary bad taste. Yet, though standing passive, I remember people shuddering when they heard the axes busy

\in the woods of Bellevue, and furious when they saw the bare ground. But the axes, as usual, triumphed; and all that art and nature had done to prepare the place for foliaged compartments of town architecture, if being built upon should prove inevitable, was carefully obliterated; so that at last the whole spot was made as bare and as dull as if the designer of the New Town himself had presided over the operation.

Gillespie’s Hospital, for the shrouding of aged indigence, was commenced about this time, and completed in 1805. If I recollect right, this was the first of the public charities of this century by which Edinburgh has been blessed, or cursed. The founder was a snuff-seller who brought up an excellent young man as his heir, and then left death to disclose that, for the vanity of being remembered by a thing called after himself, he had all the while had a deed executed by which this, his nearest, relation was disinherited. Another fact distinguished the rise of this institution. A very curious edifice stood on the very spot where the modern building is erected. It was called Wryttes-Houses, and belonged anciently to a branch of the family of Napier.1 It was a keep, presiding over a group of inferior buildings, most of it as old as the middle of the fourteenth century, all covered with heraldic and other devices, and all delightfully picturesque. Nothing could be more striking when seen against the evening sky. Many a feudal gathering did that tower see on the

Borough Moor, and many a time did the inventor of logarithms, whose castle of Merchiston was near, enter it. Yet was it brutishly obliterated, without one public murmur. A single individual whose name, were it known, ought to be honored, but who chose to conceal himself under the signature of Cadmon, proclaimed and denounced the outrage, in a communication in July 1800 to the Edinburgh Magazine 5 but the idiot public looked on in silence. How severely has Edinburgh suffered by similar proceedings, adventured upon by barbarians, knowing the apathetic nature, in these matters, of the people they have had to deal with. All our beauty might have been preserved, without the extinction of innumerable antiquities conferring interest and dignity. But reverence for mere antiquity, and even for modern beauty, on their own account, is scarcely a Scotch passion.

I had attended Dugald Stewart’s first course of Political Economy, but not very steadily; and therefore I attended the second, which was given during the winter of 1801-1802. His hour was now three, but it was formerly seven in the evening, the lamps of which hour set off his bald sage-like head. The opening of these classes made a great sensation. The economical writings of Hume and Smith, though familiar with the liberal youth, had so little impregnated the public mind, that no ordinary audience could be collected to whom the elements and phraseology of the science were not matters of surprise. The mere term "Political Economy” made most people start. They thought that it included questions touching the constitution of governments; and not a few hoped to catch Stewart in dangerous propositions. It was not unusual to see a smile on the faces of some when they heard subjects discoursed upon, seemingly beneath the dignity of the Academical Chair. The word Corn sounded strangely in the moral class, and Drawbacks seemed a profanation of Stewart’s voice.

These lectures were distinguished by the acknowledged excellences, and the supposed defects, of his ordinary course. Some called them superficial; a worse imperfection in. Political Economy, an exact science, than in Moral Philosophy, a more diffuse one. He certainly did not involve his hearers in its intricacies; and there were dull heads to whom the absence of arithmetical columns and statistical details was as grievous a blank in the one class, as that of metaphysical subtilties was in the other. But adherence to the exposition of general principles was equally judicious in both. By chiefly exposing the edges of the veins, and directing his pupils how to explore the treasures of the mine, he at once heightened the beauty of his discourses, and awakened the ambition of his students. The result, accordingly, was the best evidence of the soundness of this plan. He supplied both young and old with philosophical ideas on what they had scarcely been accustomed to think philosophical subjects, unfolded the elements and the ends of that noble science, and so recommended it by the graces of his eloquence that even his idler hearers retained a permanent taste for it.

Edinburgh had never contained such a concentration of young men as now inspired it, of whose presence the Review was only one of the results. They formed a band of friends all attached to each other, all full of hope and ambition and gaiety? and all strengthened in their mutual connection by the politics of most of them separating the whole class from the ordinary society of the city. It was a most delightful brotherhood. But about the end of 1802 it began to be thinned by emigration, and this process went on till 1806. Within two years (1802-1803) Sydney Smith, Francis Horner, Thomas Campbell, John Allen, and John Leyden, all fell off.

Smith’s reputation here then was the same as it has been throughout his life, that of a wise wit. Was there ever more sense combined with more hilarious jocularity? But he has been lost by being placed within the pale of holy orders. He has done his duty there decently well, and is an admirable preacher. But he ought to have been in some freer sphere; especially since wit and independence do not make bishops. .

Allen was medical, but prosecuted medicine rather as a science than as a profession. He was the very first of our private lecturers; physiology being his favourite department. I have heard Doctor John Gordon, a judge on such a matter of the highest authority, say that Allen’s single lecture on the circulation of the blood contained as much truth and view as could be extracted by an intelligent reader from all the books in Europe on that subject: Had not his political opinions made it prudent for him to despair of being ever allowed to adorn our College, he would probably have remained here, where he was much beloved by all who knew him, and had a great reputation. But, in his circumstances, an invitation to live with Lord Holland was, irresistible. This alliance has shown him most of Europe well; and introduced him, confidentially, to the best society in England. The transition from this to the private political line was natural; and in this line there is 110 one man whose talent and learning is of so much use to his party. But all this latent importance, dignified luxury, and indirect usefulness was obtained (as it always has seemed to me) at far too high a price when it lost him the glory of being the first medical teacher in Europe. His historical publications, chiefly though not entirely in the Edinburgh Review, especially those on the constitution and progress of England, are of the very highest value. Indeed it makes us almost regret the existence of a publication which enables such men to throw in their detached contributions to the treasury of knowledge, to think that if it had not been for such an opportunity, instead of evaporating in unconnected and anonymous discussions, they might have earned a more visible and permanent reputation by complete and original works.

John Leyden has said of himself, "I often verge so nearly on absurdity, that I know it is perfectly easy to misconceive me, as well as misrepresent me.”

This was quite true; especially the vergency on absurdity. He cannot be understood till the peculiarities to which he alludes are cleared away, and the better man is made to appear. His conspicuous defect used to be called affectation, but in reality it was pretension. A pretension however of a very innocent kind, which, without derogating in the least from the claim of any other, merely exaggerated not his own merits, nor what he had done, but his capacity and ambition to do more. Ever in a state of excitement, ever ardent, ever panting for things unattainable by ordinary mortals, and successful to an extent sufficient to rouse the hopes of a young man ignorant of life, there was nothing that he thought beyond his reach ; and not knowing what insincerity was, he spoke of his powers and his visions as openly as if he had been expounding what might be expected of another person. According to himself, John Leyden could easily in a few months have been a great physician, or surpassed Sir William Jones in Oriental literature, or Milton in poetry. Yet at the very time he was thus exposing himself, he was not only simple, but generous and humble. He was a wild-looking, thin, Roxburghshire man, with sandy hair, a screech voice, and staring eyes—exactly as he came from his native village of Denholm; and not one of these not very attractive personal qualities would he have exchanged for all the graces of

Apollo. By the time I knew him he had made himself one of our social shows, and could and did say whatever he chose. His delight lay in an argument about the Scotch Church, or Oriental literature, or Scotch poetry, or odd customs, or scenery, always conducted on his part in a high shrill voice, with great intensity, and an utter unconsciousness of the amazement, or even the aversion, of strangers. His daily extravagances, especially mixed up, as they always were, with exhibitions of his own ambition and confidence, made him be much laughed at even by his friends. Sir John Malcolm’s account* of his Indian deportment agrees exactly with the accounts given by Scott of his Scotch one. Sir James Mackintosh calls him his a wild friend,” and laughs at his professing to know “only seventy languages.”

Notwithstanding these ridiculous or offensive habits, he had considerable talent and great excellences. There is no walk in life, depending on ability, where Leyden could not have shone. Unwearying industry was sustained and inspired by burning enthusiasm. Whatever he did, his whole soul was in it. His heart was warm and true. No distance, or interest, or novelty could make him forget an absent friend or his poor relations. His physical energy was as vigorous as his mental, so 'that it would not be easy to say whether he would have engaged with a new-found eastern manuscript, or in battle, with the more cordial alacrity. His love of Scotland was delightful. It breathes through all his writings and all his proceedings, and imparts to his poetry its most attractive charm. The affection borne him by many distinguished friends, and their deep sorrow for his early extinction, is the best evidence of his talent and worth. Indeed, his premature death was deplored by all who delight to observe the elevation of merit, by its own force and through personal defects, from obscurity to fame. He died in Batavia at the age of thirty-six. Had he been spared, he would have been a star in the East of the first magnitude.

John Richardson was the last of the association who was devoured by hungry London. This was in 1806. But he has been incorporated, privately and publicly, with all that is worthy in Edinburgh, and much that is worthy in London, throughout his whole life. No Scotchman in London ever stood higher in professional and personal character. The few verses he has published, like almost all he has written, are in the style of simple and pensive elegance. His early and steady addiction to literary subjects and men would certainly have made literature his vocation, had he not foreseen its tortures and precariousness when relied on for subsistence. But, though drudging in the depths of the law, this toil has always been graced by the cultivation of letters, and by the cordial friendship of the most distinguished literary men of the age. He was the last of the old Edinburgh emigrants. A cold cloud came over many a heart at each of their departures; and happy and brilliant as our society was afterwards, we never ceased to miss them, to mark the vacant places, and to remember that they were once of ourselves.

A stranger came among us while these men were still here. This was Lord Webb Seymour, brother of the Duke of Somerset. He had left his own country, and renounced all the ordinary uses of rank and fortune, for study; and never abandoned the place he had selected for its prosecution, but continued here during the rest of his life, with his books and literary friends, universally respected and beloved. Slow, thoughtful, reserved, and very gentle, he promoted the philosophical taste even of Horner, and enjoyed quietly the jocularity of Smith, and tried gravely to refute the argumentative levities of Jeffrey. His special associate was Playfair. They used to be called husband and wife; and in congeniality and affection no union could be more complete. Geology was their favourite pursuit.

Before I got acquainted with them, I used to envy their Walks in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, and their scientific excursions to the recesses of the Highland glens, and to the summits of the Highland mountains. Two men more amiable, more philosophical, and more agreeable there could not be.

Sir James Montgomery, the Lord Chief Baron, resigned in 1801. This made Robert Dundas Lord Chief Baron, Charles Hope Lord Advocate, and Blair Dean of the Faculty in Dundas’ stead.

Montgomery, the author of the Entail Act which bears his name, was a most excellent and venerable old gentleman. He lived in Queensberry House in the Canongate, and I believe was the last gentleman who resided in that historical mansion, which, though now one of the asylums of destitution, was once the brilliant abode of rank and fashion and political intrigue. I wish the Canongate could be refreshed again by the habitual sight of the Lord Chief Baron’s family and company, and the gorgeous carriage, and the tall and well dressed figure, in the old style, of his Lordship himself. He was much in our house, my father being one of his Puisnes. Though a remarkably kind landlord, he thought it his duty to proceed sometimes with apparent severity against poachers, smugglers, and other rural corrupters; but as it generally ended in his paying the fine himself, in order to save the family, his benevolence was supposed to do more harm than his justice did good. He died in 1803.

Not long after Hope’s appointment he got into difficulty. The occasion was one very likely to hit his fiery fancy. A Banffshire farmer, named Mori-son, chose to exercise his undoubted right of dismissing a servant for absenting himself without leave from work, in order to attend a volunteer drill. In consequence of this offence, the Lord Advocate issued a rescript to the Sheriff-Substitute of the county of Banff, in which the farmer’s conduct is said to have been u atrocious,” and u could only have arisen from a secret spirit of disaffection and disloyalty; ”and therefore an official order is given to the Sheriff-Substitute, that u on the first Frenchman landing in Scotland, you do immediately apprehend and secure Morison as a suspected person, and you will not liberate him without communication with me ; and you may inform him of these my orders; and, further, that I shall do all I can to prevent him from receiving any compensation for any part of his property which may either be destroyed by the enemy, or by the king’s troops to prevent it from falling into the enemy’s hands.” This was brought before the House of Commons by Mr. Whitbread, on the 22d of June 1804, on a motion for a vote of censure. The Lord Advocate’s defence was more unfortunate than his original error, because it justified it. Pie maintained that, considering the situation of the country, what he had done was right; and that if wrong, it was an error of discretion in a matter as to which his official discretion was boundless. The Lord Advocate, he said, was vested with the whole powers, both civil and military, of the state, and of all its officers, most of which, as centring in himself, he specified.# Nevertheless a motion for the previous question was carried; and its success stands as a striking example of the difference .between a parliament of that time and any that could be assembled now. No one who knew him could impute cruelty or injustice to Charles Hope. This act was entirely owing to a hot temperament not cooled by a sound head. In spite of all his talent and all his worth, had he continued in the very delicate position of Lord Advocate, his infirmity might have again brought him into some similar trouble.

It was fortunate therefore that the gods, envying mortals the longer possession of Eskgrove, took him to themselves ; and Hope reigned in his stead. He was made Lord Justice-Clerk in December 1804. It has been often said, and often denied, that before taking this place to himself, he offered it to Henry Erskine, and urged Erskine to take it. There can be no doubt with me of his having made this very handsome proposal, because he told me himself that he had done so, and that Erskine after consulting his friends declined.

The only important legislative measure that Hope had an opportunity of officially promoting was the Schoolmaster’s Act of 1803, which has been in force since that time. This is the statute which compels heritors to build what are there called Houses for the schoolmasters; but prescribes that the house need not contain more than two rooms including the kitchen. This shabbiness was abused at the time, and seems incredible now. But Hope told me that he had considerable difficulty in getting even the two rooms, and that a great majority of the lairds and Scotch members were indignant at being obliged to u erect palaces for dominies.

The armed truce—for it was rather this than peace—in 1802 made very little direct change in our habits or feelings. But, upon the whole, events were bringing people into better humour. Somewhat less was said about Jacobinism, though still too much and sedition had gone out. Napoleon’s obvious progress towards military despotism opened the eyes of those who used to see nothing but liberty in the French revolution ; and the threat of invasion, while it combined all parties in defence of the country, raised the confidence of the people in those who trusted them with arms, and gave them the pleasure of playing at soldiers. Instead of Jacobinism, Invasion became the word.

After the war broke out again in 1803 Edinburgh, like every other place, became a camp, and continued so till the peace in 1814. We were all soldiers, one way or other. Professors wheeled in the College area; the side arms and the uniform peeped from behind the gown at the bar, and even on the bench; and the parade and the review formed the staple of men’s talk and thoughts. Hope, who had kept his Lieutenant-Colonelcy when he was Lord Advocate, adhered to it, and did all its duties after he became Lord Justice-Clerk. This was thought unconstitutional by some; but the spirit of the day applauded it. His famous u Regimental orders of the l&th of October 1803 were as follows :—

"1st Regt. R. E. Y. Regimental Orders.

“Edinburgh, 18 Oct. 1803.

“Lieutenant-Colonel Hope congratulates the gentlemen of the Regiment on the distinguished appearance which they made yesterday, and on the marked approbation which was bestowed on them by Lieutenant-General Vyse, commanding his Majesty’s forces in Scotland.

“The Lieutenant-Colonel has also the pleasure of assuring the of artillery with Playfair. James Moncreiff, John Richardson, James Grahame (the Sabbath) Thomas Regiment that their appearance and discipline received the unanimous approbation of the other General Officers present, and likewise of His Grace the Lord-Lieutenant of the County, himself an excellent judge of military duty.

"The Lieutenant-Colonel, however, trusts the Regiment will consider, that the object of all their labour is not the parade, of an Inspection and Review, but the serious and important duty of qualifying themselves to defend all that is dear to them, against an implacable enemy whose avowed intention is the utter ruin and extirpation of the people of this country. He trusts, therefore, that the gentlemen of the Regiment will not allow their zeal to abate, but will persevere in such attendance during the winter months as shall, at least, prevent them from forgetting what they have already attained; for nothing could be so absurd, as to acquire such a state of discipline as they have done, only to lose it as fast as possible. When all the Gentlemen of the Regiment are returned to town for the winter, the Lieutenant-Colonel will make such an arrangement for Exercise, as may enable every Gentleman to attend at least once a week, which cannot be a hardship or inconvenience to any one. In the meantime, the Lieutenant-Colonel earnestly exhorts them still to examine and keep their firelocks in the very best order; and all of them, but especially such of the Regiment as have not been much accustomed to firearms, to form themselves into small Squads for Ball Practice. The Lieutenant-Colonel intends to institute prizes for firing at a Target, to be shot for by such gentlemen of each Company only, as shall declare upon honour that they have fired Forty rounds of ball between 24fh October and the 19th November. Four prizes will be given to each Company :—One for the best shot:—one for the second best shot:—one for the greatest number of balls through the Target:—one for the next number.

“In other respects, the Regiment may have a better opportunity of improving their discipline than by private drills of their own, as Lieutenant-General Vyse has signified to the Lieutenant-Colonel his intention of Brigading the Volunteers, and of having-several Field-days with the troops in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. For this reason, although the Lieutenant-Colonel never wishes the duty of the Regiment to interfere with real business, yet, on the other hand, and considering the state of the times, he hopes that no gentleman, officer or private, will leave quarters except on particular business. .

"In the view of the Regiment being called into actual service, the Lieutenant-Colonel thinks it necessary to issue orders applicable to that event.—As it is the first duty of a Commanding Officer to attend to the health of those under his charge, the Lieutenant-Colonel assures the Regiment that he will not permit a single gentleman, officer or private, to march out of Edinburgh on service, unless he is provided with a flannel under-dress. This is at all times the best clothing for a soldier; but for a Winter Campaign, in such a climate as this, and with constitutions not accustomed to hardships, it is essentially necessary, and on no account will be dispensed with.

"In this Regiment, the Officers cannot be permitted to have any indulgences or accommodation beyond the privates. They must therefore march with their whole baggage on their backs, of which the Lieutenant-Colonel shall set the example, never mounting his horse, but for the purpose of command. In camp or quarters no distinction of tents or rooms will be permitted. Officers and privates must fare alike, but the officers will mess together, as it will give opportunities, not otherwise to be easily obtained, of conversing on many points of regimental duty.

“The horses, which by the King's regulations are allowed to the streets with a musket, being a private in the Gentlemen Regiment. Dr. Gregory was a soldier, and officers, will be appropriated to general purposes. % The only exception to this is to be in favour of the Chaplain, Adjutant, and Surgeons.

“Every officer and private therefore will immediately provide himself with the following articles, and keep them constantly packed up in the neatest and most compact manner:—

“1 Worsted or flannel night-cap to tie under the chin.

“2 Flannel underwaistcoats, with sleeves, or at least half-sleeves to the elbows, and to eome down over the loins.

One of these to be on the body, and the other in the knapsack.

“2 Pair of flannel Drawers.
“2 Pair thick worsted Stockings, or ankle Socks.
“2 Pair of strong Shoes.
“1 Pair of worsted Gloves.
“I Good warm Blanket—one Blanket easily covers two men, and to be so used, if the cold requires it.
“Comb—Brush—and implements for shaving,—but as few as possible.—A piece of pipe clay, and Blacking Ball.—A few needles, and worsted, and thread.

“Each gentleman mayalso bring with him his ordinary GreatCoat, as the Blanket renders it less necessary to have proper Watch Coats.

“Each officer and private will also provide himself, and repair to the Alarm Post (on the North side of St. Andrew Square, unless differently ordered) with 4½ lib. of Biscuit, or Bread. Haversacks, Canteens, Camp-kettles, and Bill-hooks, are to be issued to the Regiment from the King's stores. Knapsacks will be furnished out of the Regiment Fund.

“On halting for the day or night, the Lieutenant-Colonel earnestly recommends that no gentleman shall lye down to sleep while warm, or with wet feet,—but, however fatigued, always to take time to Thomas Brown the moralist, Jeffrey, and many another since famous in more intellectual warfare.

“As to the Field, the Lieutenant-Colonel has little to say.— Much will be expected by their country from such a Regiment.— The Lieutenant-Colonel has no anxiety on the subject, except from its impetuosity. If the Regiment were acting singly against another small body, this might produce no bad effect. But acting in combination with other troops, perhaps in the centre of a line or chain of posts, all movements must be relative, and by rushing forward prematurely the line may be broken,—other Regiments or posts exposed to be taken in flank, and the whole plans of the Commander disconcerted, by the necessity of supporting a body which has improperly pushed forward, or reinforcing the post it has quitted. The Regiment therefore will recollect, that true courage consists as much in suffering as in acting;—as much, or more, in coolly facing danger, as in furiously rushing on it. There is little probability, that the General will allow young and high-spirited Troops to be long galled by distant fire. The Regiment may be assured that they will be allowed to close with the Enemy, whenever it can be done to advantage.

“When that moment comes, the Lieutenant-Colonel reminds the Regiment of the Instructions he has been inculcating on them at Drill, to make their charge with the utmost steadiness and precision, so that all parts of the line, by coming in contact with the Enemy, at the same instant, may support one another. The leading Company will take care not to hurry too much, but to carry on the Line, so that each individual may preserve the entire command of his person ; that he may be able freely to use his bayonet, not only to thrust but to parry. If the charge is made with too great rapidity, the Line will be broke—one part of the Regiment will be cut to pieces before another comes up, and the whole will rush on certain destruction ; whereas, if the charge is made steadily and correctly, the superior strength and impetus of this Regiment must bear down whatever is in its way.

“If the force of the enemy, in immediate contact with this Regiment, be broken, the pursuit is by no means to be made without orders. It may be necessary to wheel to the right or left to support other parts of the Line.

“In firing, the Regiment will see the folly and danger of firing at random. If their fire is ineffectual, they may as well stand to be shot at with ordered arms. Every individual must take a steady aim; so as to be certain that his shot will take place in some part of the platoon opposite to him. If the smoke prevents the Regiment from seeing the Enemy’s line distinctly, they will always see the flash from the muzzles of their musquets, by which the Regiment can direct its own fire. In short, let the object rather be to keep up a well directed, than a quick fire,—always remembering that as little time be lost in loading as possible. It will be the business of the supernumerary rank in the rear, to look over the shoulders of the ranks iu front, and to correct any error in the aim.

“When Prisoners are taken, they are to be immediately disarmed and passed to the rear.

“If the Regiment (which is not likely), should be charged in front by Cavalry, they will on no account fire till ordered—and then only the two front ranks; the front rank taking aim at the horses, the centre rank at the men. If the fire is reserved, and then given, within a few yards, in the faces of the Cavalry—one half will drop, course of that war. Eighty private soldiers, two officers, four serjeants, four corporals, and a trumpeter, all trembled (or at. least were bound to and the horses, in all probability, will carry the other half to the right about j—and, at all events, if the Regiment will only receive them steadily, without breaking, though the whole may be overthrown, very few will be killed or hurt. Receiving a charge from Cavalry, each rank will charge their bayonets, one over the other. The supernumerary rank to close well up to the rear, so that the Cavalry may have no time to make a cut at them.

Should the Regiment be drawn up on a beach to oppose the landing of the Enemy, it will probably be ordered to reserve its fire —as the horizontal fire of musquetry against men well covered in boats must be very ineffectual. In such cases, it is only cannon which can play on the Enemy with effect. The Battalion therefore will reserve its fire till the boats take the ground, when each Officer commanding a platoon will pour in his fire on the boat opposite to him, at the instant the Enemy expose themselves, by rising up in the boat in order to leap on shore—a well directed fire against men so huddled together, must be destructive, and the Battalion will instantly give them the bayonet, before they have time to form and recover from their confusion. It is hardly possible that any Troops can withstand this mode of attack ; whereas, if met only by a distant fire from the heights, they will suffer little—will infallibly land and form, and press on with all the spirit and advantage which usually attend the assailants. This was precisely; the error which the French committed, when opposing the landing of our Troops in Egypt.

“Should the Boats of the Enemy be fitted with guns in their bows, the Battalion will endeavour to shelter itself behind sandhills, walls, or broken ground, while the Enemy pull for the shore; and it will not be advanced to the beach, till the Boats are nearly aground, when, of course, the Enemy cannot give above - one discharge of their guns, which becoming useless the moment tremble when I spoke. Mine was the left flank company of the “Western Battalion of Midlothian Volunteers.” John A. Murray’s company was the right flank one; and as these two were both from the parish of St. Cuthberts, the rest being scattered over the county, we always drilled together. When we first began, being resolved that we townsmen should outshine the rustics, we actually drilled our two companies almost every night during the four winter months of 1804 and 1805, by torch light, in the ground flat of the George Street Assembly Rooms, which was then all one earthen-floored apartment. This was over and above our day proceedings in Heriot’s Green and Bruntsfield Links, or with the collected regiment. The parades, the reviews, the four or six yearly inspections at Dalmahoy, the billettings for a fortnight or three weeks they attempt to land, the Regiment will attack them as already directed.

“Adhering to these hints—steadily obeying orders—restraining their impetuosity—and fighting with the cool determined courage of their native minds, instead of imitating the intoxicated and blind fury of their enemy, and above all, calling on the God of Battles to aid them in the preservation of those blessings which He has conferred upon them, this Regiment may hope to render essential service, and to merit a large share of that glory which shall be acquired by all the forces of their country, in repelling the threatened invasion.

“By order of the Commanding Officer,

“Bain Whyt,

“Capt. and Adj. 1st Regt. R. E. V.”

when on “ ermanent duty” at Leith or Haddington, the mock battles, the marches, the messes—what scenes they were! And similar scenes were familiar in every town and in every shire in the kingdom. The terror of the ballot for the regular militia, which made those it hit soldiers during the war, filled the ranks; while duty, necessity, and especially the contagion of the times, supplied officers. The result was that we became a military population. Any able-bodied man, of whatever rank, who was not a volunteer, or a local militiaman, had to explain or apologize for his singularity.

Walter Scott’s zeal in the cause was very curious. He was the soul of the Edinburgh troop of Midlothian Yeomanry Cavalry. It was not a duty with him, or a necessity, or a pastime, but an absolute passion, indulgence in which gratified his feudal taste for war, and his jovial sociableness. He drilled, and drank, and made songs, with a hearty conscientious earnestness which inspired or shamed every body within the attraction. I do not know if it is usual, but his troop used to practise, individually, with the sabre at a turnip, which was stuck on the top of a staff, to represent a Frenchman, in front of the line. Every other trooper, when he set forward in his turn, was far less concerned about the success of his aim at the turnip, than about how he was to tumble. But Walter pricked forward gallantly, saying to himself, u cut them down, the villains, cut them down!” and made his blow, which from his lameness was often an awkward one, cordially, muttering curses all the while at the detested enemy.

Notwithstanding all our soldiering, the prevailing feeling about invasion was that of indifference. I do not think that people brought its realities home to their conception. The utter security of this island, ever since the blowing back of the Armada, made the population treat actual invasion as a thing not to be seriously contemplated. But thinking men were in a great and genuine fright, which increased in proportion as they thought. The apparent magic of Napoleon’s Continental success confounded them: Ireland made them shudder; and they saw that a war in this thick set and complicated country, however short and triumphant for us it might be, must give a dreadful shock to our whole system.

The volunteers tended to unsettle the minds of those who belonged to them for ordinary business; and hence they co-operated with the ballot in filling the ranks of the militia, which was the great nursery for the army. In this way the voluntary establishments were a very useful force; and if they had been called into active service, all the paid regiments, that is, all those composed of hardy ploughmen: and artizans, would have soon become good practical soldiers. But for immediate service, for which it was intended they should be prepared, they were totally disqualified. They had no field equipage, and were scarcely ever trained to march beyond their parade ground. Certainly no volunteer regiment in Scotland ever passed twenty-four hours at a time, in the open air, upon its own resources. And even their drilling was universally vitiated by the essential and obvious defect of their not being moved in large masses. There was nothing done, beyond the performance of ordinary regimental business, for the creation of field officers. It was all single battalion drilling and useless shows the work of each week being the same with that of the week before. Except as police the Foot Gentlemen were useless. The patrician blood is the best blood for soldiers, both for valour and for endurance; but it requires long and severe experience to subdue it to the details of the life of a private foot soldier.

We had hitherto been so innocent or so poor, and so long accustomed to undetected or irregularly detected crime, that the City Guard, composed of discharged soldiers, and whose youngest member was at the least threescore, was sufficient to keep us in what was then called order. But this drunken burgher force at last became too ludicrous; and its extinction (which however did not take place till 1817 was further recommended by its abridging the dark jurisdiction of the magistrates, and creating a new office. It was therefore resolved that the capital should have the honor of a civil police, which I think no other town in Scotland then had upon a regular system. Our first effort in this line forms rather a curious bit of local history. A person of harmless habits, correct principles, due poverty, and no head was set up to shew people what might be made of these institutions. In order to secure respect for his office he was invested with the double authority of Lord Advocate and Lord Justice-Clerk, being made both superintendent and judge, and thus first accusing, and then trying those he accused. For this he got £500 a year • and lest the people should not be impressed with due reverence, his body was arrayed in a black gown garnished with knots of gold thread, and was marched in grand procession to his Lawnmarket court, where Sir Harry Moncreiff was obliged to install him by prayer. The popular satisfaction at seeing the magistrates in some degree superseded was so general, that only a man dexterous in offence could have made the public doubt the wisdom of the new establishment. But he was not wise, and so ill tempered officially, that he soon raised a burgh rebellion, and nearly spoiled the whole experiment. Being prosecutor, his tendency was to suspect everybody and being judge, his glory required that he should never decide against himself; and the system being new, he was smitten with the usual weakness of absolute lawgivers, and introduced a code which at least was beautiful in his own sight. For example, it was his opinion that noisy mirth, especially at late hours, was a bad thing ; and therefore when Mr. George Thomson, the correspondent of Burns, gave a ball in his own house, the police officers, obeying their instructions for all such cases, having ascertained that- the neighbours had neither been invited nor consulted, entered and dispersed the illegal assembly; and his Honour decided next day that this was all quite right. This tyranny was bad enough for the rich, but it was far worse for the poor, whom the accusing spirit and recording angel tortured without pity or control; not from cruelty, for personally he was good natured, but from that love of vexatious petty regulation, and that impatience of check, which tempt weak heads. At last even our rulers admitted that he was intolerable; and this was the happiest event of his life, for he got £300 a year for getting out of the way. A better system was then introduced, and has in substance continued.

Nobody foresaw, and least of all its authors, the indirect consequences of this police establishment. So far as I am aware, it was the first example of popular election in Scotland. Aversion to be taxed was overcome by allowing the people to choose the Police Commissioners; a precedent always appealed to, till the Beform Act superseded the necessity of using it. The gradual extension of the police system over our towns trained the people to expect and to exercise the elective privilege; and the effect of this in exciting and organising public spirit was so great, that the rise of the Edinburgh establishment is one of our local eras. Dr. John Thomson was not extravagant when, in reference to our position, he used to call it a Divine Institution.

The memorable case of Professor Leslie began early in 1805, and though settled in the General Assembly in May of that year, the public discussion was prolonged till far 011 in 1806. It made a deep and universal impression. The substance of the case is this.—

The promotion of John Playfair to the chair of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, made a vacancy in Playfair’s chair of Mathematics. John Leslie, whose recent treatise on heat had placed him high in science, was the only well qualified candidate. He was patronised by Stewart, Playfair, and all good judges who had only superiority of fitness in view; and his subsequent eminence justified their recommendation. But the Moderate clergy, who had long encouraged pluralities, and wished to multiply clerical professorships, allotted the place to one of themselves. They probably cared little who the individual should be, but it was understood, and indeed never denied, that their favourite upon this occasion was the Reverend Dr. Thomas Mac-knight, the son of the Harmonist; a most excellent man, by no means devoid of science, but unheard of in the scientific world, and not capable of being named seriously as a worthy competitor of Leslie. However, any clergyman would have done: but the first thing was to exclude the layman. The reverend faction therefore began by proposing to put the College Test to Leslie; but this was defeated by his at once agreeing to take it. Not one of the Presbytery of Edinburgh except Macknight had read, or could understand, the work on heat; but somebody told them that that treatise contained a note with these words—"Mr. Hume is the first, as far as I know, who has treated of Causation in a truly philosophical manner. His Essay on Necessary Connexion seems a model of clear and accurate reasoning,” &c. This supplied them with the very thing they wanted—a personal exception to the candidate whose science was unassailable. The cry of atheism was raised; a cry seldom raised in vain in this country, and to which the very name of David Hume gave particular force. It was proclaimed that these words, though only applied to physical science, involved the adoption by Mr. Leslie of the whole of Hume’s doctrine of Cause and Effect, and of all the moral consequences which that cunning sceptic deduced from it. The course therefore was now clear. The Presbytery of Edinburgh announced first that, by the foundation of the University, the Town Council could only elect "cumavisamento eorum ministrorum,” which the clergy held to imply a veto in their favor; and then, that the note, being heretical, tainted the whole book, and the book the man; and lastly, that schools and colleges being subject to the presbytery of the bounds, it was both their right and their duty to have this philosopher excluded. The real value of this pretension was, that it would apply to every case in which the clergy could detect what they might think unsound doctrine; and therefore all the machinery, and all the rancour, of the ecclesiastical courts was put into activity to aid it. No wonder that dispassionate men were alarmed by a conspiracy of which the object was to entitle the Church to control every patron in the election of every professor, and indeed to subject learning once more to priestcraft.

The weight of metaphysical authority was on the side of the note, and Thomas Brown’s fine metaphysical spear shivered all the argumentative weapons by which, as applied to this point, it was assailed. Still the assailants may possibly have had trutli on their side, though they fought their battle ill. But metaphysics had nothing to do with the matter. They were the pretence; while a claim of clerical domination over seats of learning was the real subject.

The Town Council, jealous of the attempt to supersede them, and encouraged by the support of liberal and pious men, stood firm and elected Leslie. The Presbytery, relying on ecclesiastical sympathy, stood firm also; but, after much manoeuvring, it resolved to shew its candour by only Referring the matter to the Synod for advice. It is honourable to the Presbytery that this course was only carried by fourteen against thirteen. The thirteen were for quashing the whole affair. The inquisitors formed a majority of the Synod; but this body also thought it safest to preserve the outward appearance of impartiality by Referring to the General Assembly. Sir Harry Moncreiff instantly entered a Complaint against this Reference—a sagacious move; for it made the Synod a party at the bar of the Assembly, and consequently excluded the votes of its members, and thus ultimately saved the case.

The prevailing public feeling was strongly against the persecution, and its horrid principle. Toryism was rather in favor of the Church : Whiggism decidedly against it. The two proper Church parties were reversed. The Moderate clergy, more indifferent about scepticism than their opponents, yet liking power above all things, were nearly unanimous against Leslie. The Wild, cordial in their horror of heresy, almost all supported the supposed disciple of Hume. This singular position for them was not produced, as their enemies absurdly said, by their hating their ecclesiastical antagonists more than they hated infidelity, but by their honest incapacity, notwithstanding their jealousy of it, to discover any infidelity in the matter. There could not have been a stronger fact against the persecutors than that, on such a question, they were opposed by the whole evangelical clergy.

The debate in the Assembly wore out two long days. The result, in point of form, was that the Complaint against the Reference was sustained ; the meaning of which was that the conduct of the Presbytery and the Synod was condemned, and the opposition stopped. The respective votes were ninety-six to eighty-four. It is frightful to think that such a result as was implied in the Reference was within twelve of receiving all the support that the ecclesiastical tribunal could give it. The Church could not settle the civil rights of the patrons or the presentee; but if the ecclesiastical decision had been that the presentee was a heretic, he would have been a bold man who would have answered for the Civil Court not giving effect to this decision in those days, when to oppose the Church was to oppose good order and the Government. It was a small House for such a question; but many of the Moderate staid away from not liking the job, and some of the Wild from the words David Hume.

Some of the speeches, in this the most important Scotch debate I have ever known, were excellent. Sir Harry MoncreifFs, for practical effect, was the best. Avoiding the metaphysical slough into which it was the great object of the persecutors to lead their opponents, he was concise, vigorous, and contemptuous upon the common sense and truth of the case. It must have given the Lord President Campbell, who was a liberal man, some pain to quibble, and with little ,of his usual acuteness, in defence of a prosecution for which he could have no taste. He suffered severely for his imprudence from Lauderdale, whose appetite was evidently whetted by catching a judge rash enough to expose himself on equal terms in public debate. Adam Gillies and Henry Erskine were strong and useful on the just side ; but neither of them equal to James Moncreiff, who on this occasion displayed, for the first time, the vigorous argumentative powers which made him afterwards the most habitually useful layman in the Assembly. Dr. John Inglis, one of the deepest in the plot, was as good as ingenious metaphysics can ever be in a popular assembly. Principal Hill, the successor of Principal Robertson as the leader of the Church, was, as usual, plausible and elegant; and laid out his most dexterous and persuasive lures to fix every waverer, and to recal those who were inclined to forget their fidelity to the Moderate standard. Dugald Stewart closed the discussion by a speech which he meant to have been longer, but inexperience of such rough scenes made him too plain in his indignation, and he was called to order, and sat down; not however till he had delivered a few long-remembered sentences in a very fine spirit of scom and eloquence.

A curious error was committed by the Reverend Dr. Andrew Hunter, Professor of Divinity, a deeply religious gentleman, by whom the debate was opened in favour of the Complaint; an error very innocently fallen into, and very handsomely avowed, and which shews how much inaccuracy may sometimes pass undetected not merely in history, but in the discussions of living and intelligent men. Dr. Henry Hunter of London, a presbyterian minister of undoubted learning and piety, translated Euler’s Letters, and this translation contains a note on Hume’s doctrine of Causation the same in substance as the note objected to in Leslie’s book. Dr. Andrew Hunter quoted this note by his namesake; and no authority that was produced had greater effect on the Assembly. But just after closing his speech, the worthy Professor, with his usual candour and simplicity, explained that he had been informed that the note in Euler was not by Henry Hunter but by Condorcet. Of course the detection that Leslie’s doctrine was approved of, not by the presbyterian divine, but by the French atheist, raised a hearty laugh on one side of the House against honest Andrew, and produced many a sneer at Leslie for his ally. This was so important that James Moncreiff was at the pains to take it up next day, and to demonstrate, as he thought, that after all the first statement was correct, and that the note was by Henry Hunter himself. But the truth, then only known to Mr. Macvey Napier, was that both statements were inaccurate, and that the note in Euler was written neither by Henry Hunter nor by Condorcet, but by John Leslie! He had assisted anonymously in a translation of one of Condorcet’s works, and in doing so composed and inserted this note, which Henry Hunter, finding it in the English Condorcet, and never doubting that it formed part of the original work, quoted as Condorcet’s in his translation of Euler. All this used to be explained by Leslie afterwards. What an escape for him, and for his reverend champion in the Assembly, that no one there knew that he himself had been quoted as the strongest authority in his own support!

Hermand was in a glorious phrenzy. Spurning all unfairness, a religious doubt, entangled with mystical metaphysics, and countenanced by his party, had great attractions for his excitable head and presbyterian taste. What a figure! as he stood on the floor, declaiming and screaming, amidst the divines — the tall man, with his thin powdered locks and long pigtail, the long Court of Session cravat flaccid and streaming with the heat, and the obtrusive linen! The published report makes him declare that u the belief of the being and perfections of the Deity is the solace and delight of my life. It is a feeling which I sucked in with my mother’s milk. But this would not have been half intense for Hermand; and accordingly his words were—"Sir I sucked in the being and attributes of God with my mother's milk!” His constant and affectionate reverence for his mother exceeded the devotion of any Indian for his idol; and under this feeling he amazed the House by maintaining (which was his real opinion) that there was no apology for infidelity, or even for religious doubt, because no good or sensible man had anything to do except to be of the religion of his mother; which, be it what it might, was always the best. “A sceptic, Sir, I hate ! With my whole heart I detest him! But, Moderator, I love a Turk!°

It was not without reason that the liberal, all over the country, rejoiced. Those in Edinburgh celebrated their victory by a dinner at which Sir Harry presided admirably. The defeated leaders of the clergy never entirely recovered their reputation. Many of them were excellent, and some of them able, men; but their accession to this plot could never be forgotten. The defeat undoubtedly helped to kill Dr. Finlayson, who died in January 1808, without ever having resumed his habitual look of hard calm confidence. Though never exposing himself by a speech or a pamphlet, he was the underground soul of the dark confederacy. When sitting at the bar, pale with vexation, while they were taking the vote by calling the roll, and the issue became visible, Jeffrey, who was just behind, consoled him by saying in his sharp sarcastic style —"Take a little gingerbread, Doctor.” The laugh did not relieve him. Giving the critic a slap in the face would. Finlayson’s ecclesiastical life reminds one of Pascal’s saying of the Jesuits—"Les plus habiles d’entre eux sont ceux qui intriguent beaucoup, qui parlent peu, et qui n’ecrivent point.”

The controversy was distinguished by some publications of permanent value. Stewart contributed an “Explanation of Facts,” marked by his usual taste and judgment. Brown put forth the first draught of his inquiry into the nature of our idea of Causation; a work declared by Mackintosh to u entitle him to a place very, very near the first among the living metaphysicians of Great Britain.” °Playfair published "A Letter to one of the Ministers of Edinburgh”—one of the best controversial pamphlets in the English language. Francis Horner gave an admirable exposition of the whole contest in an article in the Edinburgh Review.* Dr. Inglis was the great writer and speaker on the other side. And he wrote and spoke well. So well that, until Brown appeared, he was thought to have the best of the metaphysical argument — the favourite bush into which he and his friends always pushed their heads. Chalmers came forward in his first publication, being u Observations on a Passage in Mr. Playfair’s Letter to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, relative to the mathematical pretensions of the Scottish Clergy.” This was the famous pamphlet in which he stated, on the authority of his own experience, that, u after the satisfactory discharge of his parish duties, a minister may enjoy five days in the week of uninterrupted leisure for the prosecution of any science in which his taste may dispose him to engage.” This was said before he became religious ; and a noble explanation did he give, when it was quoted against him in the Assembly many years after the acquisition of his new nature.*

A genius now appeared, who has immortalized Edinburgh, and will long delight the world. Walter Scott’s vivacity and force had been felt since his boyhood by his comrades, and he had disclosed his literary inclinations by some translations of German ballads, and a few slight pieces in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border; but his power of great original conception and execution was unknown both to his friends and himself. In 1805 he revealed his true self by the publication of the "Lay of the Last Minstrel.” The subject, from the principle of which he rarely afterwards deviated, was, for the period, singularly happy. It recalled scenes and times and characters so near as almost to linger in the memories of the old, and yet so remote that their revival, under poetical embellishment, imparted the double pleasure of invention and of history. The instant completeness of his success shewed him his region. The Lay was followed by a more impressive pause of wonder, and then by a louder shout of admiration, than even our previous Edinburgh poem —"The Pleasures of Hope.” But nobody, not even Scott, anticipated what was to follow. Nobody imagined the career that was before him; that the fertility of his genius was to be its most wonderful distinction ; that there was to be an unceasing recurrence of fresh delight, enhanced by surprise at his rapidity and richness. His advances were like the conquests of Napoleon: each new achievement overshadowing the last; till people half wearied of his very profusion. The quick succession of his original works, interspersed as they were with (for him rather unworthy) productions of a lower kind, threw a literary splendour over his native city, which had now the glory of being at once the seat of the most popular poetry, and the most powerful criticism of the age.

The society of Edinburgh has never been better, or indeed so good, since I knew it as it was about this time. It continued in a state of high animation till 1815, or perhaps till 1820. Its brilliancy was owing to a variety of peculiar circumstances which only operated during this period. The principal of these were—the survivance of several of the eminent men of the preceding age, and of curious old habits which the modern flood had not yet obliterated; the rise of a powerful community of young men of ability ; the exclusion of the British from the Continent, which made this place, both for education and for residence, a favourite resort of strangers; the war, which maintained a constant excitement of military preparation, and of military idleness; the blaze of that popular literature which made this the second city in the empire for learning and science; and the extent, and the ease, with which literature and society embellished each other, without rivalry, and without pedantry. The first abstraction from this composition was by the deaths of our interesting old. Then London drew away several of our best young. There was a gap in the production of fresh excellence. Peace in 1815 opened the long closed floodgates, and gave to the Continent most of the strangers we used to get. A new race of peace-formed native youths came on the stage, but with little literature, and a comfortless intensity of political zeal; so that by about the year 1820 the old thing was much worn out, and there was no new thing, of the same piece, to continue or replace it. Much undoubtedly remained to make Edinburgh still, to those who knew how to use it, a city of Goshen, and to set us above all other British cities except one, and in some things above even that one. But the exact old thing was not.


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