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Memories of his Time
Chapter IV


In 1806 the Whigs were surprised to find themselves in power. This was an unnatural result of mere accident; for there was no real foundation for the official rise of this party at that period, nor at any period during the life of George the Third. But it was a most salutary event for Scotland. It convinced the Tories that they were not positively immortal. It told the Whigs, and all that liberal population which was growing in silence, not to despair utterly. The tendencies of both parties, of the one towards hereditary insolence, and of the other towards confirmed despondency, were corrected in some degree by the mere fact of a change.

John Clerk was appointed Solicitor-General ; Henry Erskine was replaced as Lord Advocate; and the Earl of Lauderdale became the real Scotch minister. It was very unfortunate for the progress of sound opinions that Scotland was unavoidably put under the charge of persons not well qualified to turn the power thus given to them to the best advantage. Personally, Erskine was excellent; liberal, judicious, and beloved. But he was married to Clerk, who personally was also excellent, but officially he was crotchety, positive, and wild; and domineered over the softer nature of Erskine. The younger Whigs, several of whom were far before these official persons, both in general knowledge and in present public affairs, were not taken into council at all. Even the spirit and wisdom of their Whig articles in the Review never made Jeffrey, Horner, or Brougham be consulted or considered. The truth is, that the senior Whigs had at this time considerable jealousy of the higher class of their juniors; especially after it became manifest that the younger men saw the imperfections of their leaders, and could not be relied upon as followers, except in so far as they were satisfied that the measures they were required to support were right.

Among the proceedings particularly affecting Scotland which occurred during this short administration, the provision made for Dugald Stewart is worthy of notice only because both it and he were much abused. In itself it is now utterly insignificant. A new office, called the Printer of the Edinburgh Gazette, was created, and given to Stewart, with a salary of (I believe) £300 and some emoluments arising from the sale of the paper. Because this was done by the Whigs, it was declaimed against by the opposition. And it was unquestionably wrong. It always is wrong to make a new office merely as a form for satisfying a just claim, especially if the office, publicly, is useless. Stewart had done far more than enough to entitle him, a poor man, to be provided for directly as a distinguished moral teacher and a great philosophical writer. There were two occurrences more important —the impeachment of Lord Melville; and the proposed reform of the Court of Session.

The charges against Lord Melville were groundless, and were at last reduced to insignificancy. To those who knew the pecuniary indifference of the man, and who think of the comparative facility of peculation in those irregular days, the mere smallness of the sums which he was said to have improperly touched, is of itself almost sufficient evidence of his innocence. If he had been disposed to peculate, it would not have been for farthings. Nevertheless, his impeachment did more to emancipate Scotland than even the exclusion of his party from power. His political omnipotence, which without any illiberality on his part implied, at that time, the suppression of all opposition, had lasted so long and so steadily, that in despair the discontented concurred in the general impression that, happen what might, Harry the ninth would always be uppermost. When he was not only deprived of power, but subjected to trial, people could scarcely believe their senses. The triumphant anticipations of his enemies, many of whom exulted with premature and disgusting joy over the ruin of the man, were as absurd as the rage of his friends who railed, with vain malignity, at his accusers and the Constitution. Between the two, the progress of independence was materially advanced. A blow had been struck which, notwithstanding his acquittal, relaxed our local fetters. Our little great men felt the precariousness of their power; and even the mildest friends of improvement—those who, though opposed to him, deplored the fall of a distinguished countryman more than they valued any political benefit involved in his misfortune, were relieved by seeing that the main spring of the Scotch pro-consular system was weakened.

It was at a public dinner in honor of the acquittal (27th June 1806) that Scott produced, and his friend James Ballantyne sang, that unfortunate song so often brought against him afterwards, in which, Fox being then in his last illness, there is a line cheering u Tally-ho to the Fox!” If, as was said, Scott really intended this as a shout of triumph over the expiring orator, it was an indecency which no fair license of party zeal can palliate. But I am inclined to believe that nothing was meant beyond one of the jocular, and not unnatural, exultations over the defeated leaders of the impeachment, of which the song is composed. There were some important persons, however, whose good opinion by this indiscretion was lost to Scott for ever.

There was an illumination on the acquittal, which, in the absence of the Lord Advocate, gave John Clerk, the Solicitor-General, an opportunity of exhibiting his notion of the proper method of dealing with a city and his political opposites. Nothing could be more natural than for the friends of an acquitted man to rejoice, nor anything more unhandsome than for their opponents to mar their joy; especially as there was no symptom or probability of any disturbance. Yet Clerk was wrong-headed enough to obstruct the intended demonstration by writing officially to the Lord Provost that, if it took place, it would in his opinion lead to a popular outbreak, for which his Lordship and the Town-Council, who permitted the display, would be held responsible. This judicious epistle was instantly put to its proper use, by being sent through the town with tuck of drum, and read aloud by an officer who proclaimed that, in consequence of this objection, the magistrates trusted that the earnest and universal desire of the public to testify its delight at the late glorious event would be repressed. This probably did not save a single candle, but as the illumination was partial, its shabbiness was ascribed, plausibly enough, to the illiberality of the Whigs. .

The details of the scheme for reforming the Court of Session are to be found in the Parliamentary Proceedings, in the debates in the Faculty of Advocates, in an article by Jeffrey in the eighteenth number of the Review, and in clouds of pamphlets.

This was the first modern attempt to improve an ancient judicial establishment. Everything of the kind was so adverse to the spirit of the age that the idea of correcting judicial defects, on their own account, had no chance of being encouraged by any government, and indeed could only enter into very speculative private heads. But there were two collateral purposes to be served here : several new and high offices were to be created, and the troublesome flow of Scotch appeals into the House of Lords was expected to be dammed back, to the great comfort of the Lord Chancellor. But for these personal considerations, “The Auld Fifteen” would have gone on undisturbed for a long while.

What was proposed was—1st, to divide the existing single Court of fifteen judges into three separate Courts, each of five judges 5 2d, to make at least one of these try causes by juries, which were not then employed in the decision of civil questions; 3d, to introduce an intermediate Court of Appeal between these and the House of Lords, with a sort of Scotch Chancellor at its head. These changes implied the creation of two new Heads and a Chancellor.

There were almost as many opinions as thinkers upon every part of each of these proposals. The Court was fierce at the imagination of any change, especially of Whig conception. So were the country gentlemen, the absorbents of every prejudice. The towns interfered very little. They were crushed. The lawyers were divided into three parties. 1. Those who considered the matter only politically, and wishing chiefly to concur with the existing Government, defended the whole measure, in all its parts. The whole, or nearly the whole, senior Whigs, led by John Clerk and the other political office-holders, took this view. 2. Their political opponents, who were equally decided against all change. David Hume headed this section, and made a mournful oration over the death of any portion of the ancient system. So did even the practical Walter Scott, who after one of the Faculty meetings positively shed real tears over the threatened alteration of the old shape of the Court of Session. But in his case it was not the Court alone that moved him, hut the probable decline of Scotch character and habits, of which this legal change was only a beginning. Properly applied, this was a sentiment with which I cordially sympathised. But it was misapplied by Scott, who was thinking of feudal poetry, not of modern business. 3. A class composed of the more moderate of all parties, who were neither sworn against the whole measure, nor in favor of it, but were for rejecting what in it they thought bad, and for adopting what they thought good. This section contained almost all the younger Whigs, and was headed by Jeffrey.

On the general merits of the measure the minds of good thinkers had come to nearly the result which, after more discussion and delay, was at last actually adopted by Parliament. The erection of an intermediate Court of Review would have failed in its chief object of relieving the House of Lords, and would only have made the access to it more slow and expensive. It is very difficult for a small country, divided into strongly opposed parties, to administer law to itself, solely by native courts especially after the people have been trained to expect purer justice from a higher and more distant tribunal. Much may be done for the protection of this tribunal by improving the native judicial system; but devices to obstruct tbe access to the great controlling power, though they may irritate, seldom satisfy. There are some who still think that a great error was committed in our not eagerly accepting the offer to revive our Lord Chancellor. All that I have seen convinces me that the rejection of this scheme was wise. We have no sufficient employment for such an officer; and no idle judge, or judge on whom unworthy work is thrown in order to give him an appearance of business, can ever be exhibited without disparagement to judicial respectability. The mere circumstance of his judgments not being final, would of itself have been inconsistent with the reverence necessary for the due weight of such a judge. The separation of the Court into three chambers virtually took place, with general approbation, by its division into two, and the temporary erection of the Jury Court. Trial by jury has been actually established.

Some of the judges were ordered to attend the House of Lords to give explanations. Very sulky at being obliged to obey a mandate meant to promote their own reform, they were fretted into something like contempt by the rejection of a claim which they made to be allowed to sit within the bar. This decision was described as a piece of Whig insolence, and as intended to degrade judges.

But the very same thing was done when the Scotch judges were ordered to attend the Peers about the Porteous mob. If a more honourable seat is given, as was asserted, in modern times to the English judges, the Scotch and Irish ought clearly to be treated in the same way. However, both the offended Lords and the Tories were unexpectedly relieved by the Whigs being suddenly dismissed from power in April 1807, before any scheme was carried.

The Whigs had only one opportunity of making a Scotch judge ; and they made Charles Hay, a man famous for law, paunch, whist, claret, and worth. His judicial title was Newton, but in private life he was chiefly known as The Mighty. He was a bulky man with short legs, twinkling eyes, and a large purple visage; no speaker, but an excellent legal writer and adviser; deep and accurate in his law, in which he had had extensive employment. Honest, warmhearted, and considerate, he was always true to his principles and his friends. But these and other good qualities were all apt to be lost sight of in people's admiration of his drinking. His daily and flowing cups raised him far above the evil days of sobriety on which he had fallen, and made him worthy of having quaffed with the Scandinavian heroes. But there was no noise in his libations, no boisterousness, no wrangling, not even disputation. The kindly stillness of his ordinary manner, instead of being disturbed, was deepened by potation; and a cask so well seasoned was not liable to be inflamed by any thing so feeble as intoxication. His delight was to sit smiling, quiet, and listening; saying little, but that little always sensible—for he used to hold that conversation, at least when it was of the sort that excites admiration, spoiled good company; sated apparently with enjoyment, and only disturbed when he observed some unfortunate creature at table not taking as many or as full bumpers as himself.

He was the modern king of the Ante Manum Club — a jovial institution which contained, and helped to kill, most of the eminent topers of Edinburgh for about sixty years preceding the year 1818, when the degenerate temperance of the age at last destroyed it. When The Mighty died, the members dined, and did not fail to drown their sorrow in solemn mourning, each drinking a full glass to the memory of their departed chief, and bowing reverently to his portrait, which they had hung up in the tavern which had long been his field of fame. Jeffrey, Moncreiff, Keay, Murray, I and some other of the younger and less worthy spirits, joined this once famous association, a few years before it expired, merely to have a glimpse of the last age. It was curious, but to us dull. Few of them had heads for talk, and none of us for much wine: we had to get the established jokes and other humours explained; and they were not quite at ease under our intrusion. There were no High Jinks, or sprightly sayings, or songs; but a good deal of kindly personal bantering, laughing at nothing or at very little, and steady quiet draughts of claret. But I believe there was a great deal of wild animation in the youth of the club, when its pulse was quicker. Hermand’s star blazed in this hemisphere for at least half a century, when the meetings were every Friday for about six or seven months yearly. He used very often to go direct from the club to the Court on the Saturday mornings. When some of us degenerate youths were once protesting against more wine, he exclaimed mournfully—u What shall we come to at last! I believe I shall be left alone on the face of the earth—drinking claret!”

Newton’s potations and bulk made him slumberous both in society and in Court; and his management of this judicial inconvenience was very curious. In Court his head generally rested either on his heaving chest, or on his hands crossed on the bench, while, after getting a grip of the case, his eyes were locked in genuine sleep. Yet, from practice and a remarkably quick ear and intellect, nobody could say anything worth hearing without his instantly raising his huge eyelid, and keeping it open, and directing his powerful knowing eye, like a mortar, # at the speaker, till he got what was necessary; after which, when the babbling began, down sunk the eyelid again, till lighted up by the next shot. The only way to waken him was to say something good, and this never failed. Accordingly no judge ever knew his cases better. Strangers wondered, but they seldom saw him rouse himself and deliver his opinion, which he was always ready to do on the spot, without being inclined, by his accuracy of statement and luminousness of view, to despise the judges whose eyes had been open all the while. I never heard this able, kind, and honest man mentioned by anybody but with respect and affection.

On the 13th of November 1806 a murder was committed in Edinburgh, which made a greater impression than any committed in our day, except the systematic murders of Burke. James Begbie, porter to the British Linen Company’s Bank, was going down the close in which the bank then was, on the south side of the Canongate, carrying a parcel of bank-notes of the value of four or five thousand pounds, when he was struck dead, by a single stab, given by a single person who had gone into the close after him, and who carried off the parcel.

This was done in the heart of the city, about five in the evening, and within a few yards of a military sentinel who was always on guard there, though not exactly at this spot, and at the moment possibly not in view of it. Yet the murderer was never heard of. The soldier saw and heard nothing. AH' that was observed was by some boys who were playing at hand ball in the close; and all that they saw was that two men entered the close as if together, the one behind the other, and that the front man fell, and lay still; and they, ascribing this to his being drunk, let him lie, and played on. It was only on the entrance of another person that he was found to be dead, with a knife in his heart, and a piece of paper, through which it had been thrust, interposed between the murderer’s hand and the blood. The skill, boldness, and success of the deed produced deep and universal horror. People trembled at the possibility of such a murderer being in the midst of them, and taking any life that he chose. But the wretch’s own terror may be inferred from the fact, that in a few months the large notes, of which most of the booty was composed, were found hidden in the grounds of Bellevue. Some persons were suspected, but none on any satisfactory ground; and, according to a strange craze or ambition not unusual in such cases, several charged themselves with the crime who, to an absolute certainty, had nothing to do with it. About twenty years after this a police officer, called Denovan, an old High School fellow of mine and a clever man, published the life of James Moffat or Maccoul, a famous villain, who in 1820 was condemned to be hanged for robbing a bank, but died in prison. In this work the author tries to shew that his hero was Begbie’s murderer. Many curious and plausible circumstances are gathered together in support of this opinion; but the defect is that the reality of these circumstances themselves is as uncertain as that of the fact they are brought to establish. It is easy to make almost any hypothesis have an appearance of soundness when there is no contradictor. Moffat was a very peculiar looking scoundrel, both in face and figure ; and had certainly a very strong personal resemblance to the murderer as described by the boys ; but, if I recollect right, this circumstance is not much founded on by Denovan.

When the Tories returned to power they made Archibald Campbell of Clathick (who afterwards became Colquhoun of Killermont) their Lord Advocate, and David Boyle (afterwards Lord Justice-Clerk), their Solicitor-General. The Lord Advocate’s Deputes were William Erskine (Scott’s friend, afterwards Lord Kinedder), Alexander Maconochie (afterwards Lord Meadowbank, the second), and myself! I happened to be in London when, most unexpectedly, the change of administration took place. I was sent for by Lord Melville and his nephew Robert Dundas the Lord Chief Baron. On going to them, I was surprised to be offered one of the Advocate-Deputeships, and objected to take it, on the ground that my opinions were not those of the Government. To this it was answered that the place was offered, and its acceptance urged upon me, solely from family connection, and without the understanding of any political tie; and this additional proof of the offer proceeding from them, and not from the Lord Advocate, was given, that Mr. Campbell did not then know of his own appointment. On saying this, the Chief Baron pointed to a letter addressed to Campbell that was lying on the table, and said, u There’s his own letter, not yet gone.” I took a day to consider; and consulted Francis Horner. He saw no good likely to come of it, but no decent ground on which I could quarrel with my kindred, since they gave the place on such terms. After some more kindly expostulation, I yielded; though in doing so I had considerable misgiving as to the result.

The Scotch Tory party thought that the failure of the effort to keep them out returned them to power stronger than they had been before. Even they however did not dream of the twenty years of office that followed; nor were they aware that time, instead of consolidating their authority, was steadily though silently undermining it. The country was getting further removed every hour from the terror, or the bugbear, of the French revolution. The prescriptive dominion of the old faction was interrupted. A generation not soured and darkened by the horrors which had fixed, and seemed to justify, the intolerant prejudices of its predecessors was rising. And, above all, the restored party returned with no reformation of its feelings or objects. The Scotch managers were in general excellent men personally. The rise of Robert Dundas, Lord Melville’s son, was an important event for his party; for, without his father’s force, or power of debate, or commanding station, he had fully as much good sense, excellent business habits, great moderation, and as much candour as, I suppose, a party leader can practise. The defect of the whole of them was that they had no taste for good internal measures, on their own account. So as their party could have kept their places for ever, then for ever there would have been no change of policy in this country.

In May 1807 I pleaded my first case in the General Assembly ; and from that time I have been intimately acquainted with, or rather personally concerned in, all its judicial proceedings. The annual meeting of this convocation was one of the most curious spectacles in Scotland.0 It gave us the only local images of royalty we had, and carried the imagination far back. The old primitive raciness of the place had not been much destroyed when I first knew it. The civilized eloquence of Robertson had guided its councils, but had left the manners and appearance of the great majority of his brethren untouched; and the strictness with which Lord Leven and Lord Napier, as His Majesty’s Commissioners, adhered, and made every one who came within the royal circle adhere, to court dress and etiquette, seemed like a hint to every fragment of the olden time to remain.

In 1807 Principal George Hill, of St. Andrews, who had succeeded Robertson as the leader of the General Assembly, was in the fulness of his sway. As he ruled the public proceedings of this ecclesiastical parliament for about thirty years, he must have been a person of considerable talent. But his influence depended on a single power—that of public speaking. Though he was the spokesman of his party, he was not its oracle. Finlay son, with his silence, had a deeper brain, and was a more important man in the real management of the church. And even Hill’s speaking was of rather a limited range. Elegant and luminous in exposition, he was very defective as a debater. The art of replying, indeed, was an art which he rarely even attempted. His almost invariable course was, either .to speak first, when he professed to foresee no difficulty, and merely unfolded to his well-drilled followers what they ought to do; or to speak last, when, overlooking all the perplexities and personalities and obstacles of the discussion, he recalled his adherents to some simple general view, which he illustrated clearly, and then relieved them of all further anxiety, by bringing the matter to a distinct point, in a skilful motion. Thus, without force, elevation, or much argument, pleasing distinctness and persuasive evasiveness was liis line ; and whenever he ventured out of it into the warfare of true debate he was more easily unhorsed than any leader I ever saw. But within this line he was certainly a great artist. His voice was clear and agreeable, his gesture simple, and, though didactic, natural and elegant; his visage dark; his eyes shaded by heavy black eye-brows; his whole manner and expression rather Jesuitical.

The installed rulers of the Assembly after Hill were Dr. Nicoll—a plain, good-natured man, with the appearance and manner of a jolly farmer, and an attractive air of candour and simplicity ; and Dr. John Inglis, who, notwithstanding the sad blot of Leslie’s persecution—his only stain, is a powerful and excellent man. He had two enemies to overcome, in his look and his voice, both of which are unfortunate. It is an evidence of his intellectual power that he has triumphed over these obstacles. But a strong and acute understanding, general intelligence, deep and ready reasoning, clear diction, and the manners of a gentleman, make him a vigorous writer when he chooses to write, and always an admirable' debater. No strong adversary ever measured mind against him without feeling his force. In point of power, he could at any moment have puffed Hill out, and crushed him beneath his feet. He is one of the many men who have been wasted and lowered by being cast on an unworthy scene. The powerful qualities which he has thrown away on the ignoble task of attempting to repress the popular spirit of our church would have raised him high and on firm ground in any department of public life. Deducting eloquence and the graces, he is a first-rate preacher. The fanatical taste of the age, however, has gone on diminishing his hearers, till at last his church is nearly empty. Yet his almost bare walls hear as good, if not better, every-day sermons, than are preached in any church in Scotland except by Chalmers. Nor is it any slight mark of his judgment and worth*, that though confined to one very limited set of objects, and to one way of dealing with them, his opinions have advanced in liberality and mildness with the advance of his years. His party has sometimes blamed him for intractableness; but when he and they differ I do not observe that he is always wrong. A leader generally sees further round him than his followers do, and seldom differs from them but on strong grounds.

Except Sir Harry Monereiff, the Wild (as the Evangelical party is called) have never had an established head. Andrew Thomson and Chalmers have occasionally blazed for them but the Moderate being the majority in every presbytery, college, and burgh, the Wild never have commanded fixed seats in the Assembly; and this single circumstance has dislocated their force, and prevented their being regularly represented and led publicly by their own chiefs. Thomson moreover is too self-willed, personal, and impetuous to have led his party long even though he had always been a member; and Chalmers, though he has ardently maintained its principles and objects, has been absorbed in achievements so much more splendid, that his exertions in the Assembly,, however powerful, form but bright specks in his history; and he has scarcely troubled himself with the private management of the Church's little affairs: But Sir Harry, throughout most of his life, was the oracle of the whole Church in matters not factious, and the steady champion of the popular side. In comparison with him every other Churchman who has appeared since I knew the world must withdraw. Nothing that I could say would express one-half of my affectionate and reverential admiration of this great man.°

Throughout nearly the whole of the seventeenth century the Church was the greatest field which our poor country contained for native talent and influence. The highest places in the state and in the law were open to its professional members ; and it was our great asylum of learning. The success of Presbytery, and the consequent extinction of ecclesiastical dignities and wealth, would have soon sunk it in public importance had it been let alone. But it was persecuted; and persecution soon raised it to a greater and better height than it had ever attained in either its Episcopal or its Popish days. Under the Stuarts it combined the clergy and the laity into one brave and animated mass, where it was deemed an honor for the .best of the gentry either to lead or to follow. The long and noble struggles of this party, which in truth formed the nation, its cruel sufferings, and its splendid triumph stamped a spirit and a reputation upon our clergy, who had been the principal martyrs and heroes, which a century more could not efface. The Revolution composed these troubles, and clergymen were left to pursue their naturally peaceful callings, with no public interest or influence but what belonged to their obscure avocations. Without professional rank, or political contention, or anything like wealth, and all the rest of the community rising rapidly around them, they kept a high position by being favourably associated in the public mind with the recollection of their history, by the respectability of their characters, and by the best of them always supporting the people in their fixed hatred of patronage. These circumstances sustained them throughout the fifty years or more that followed the Union. A minister was still reverenced in his parish, and was still welcome in all good society.

But the elevation of all other classes, which was the principal cause of the depression of this one fixed class, went on; and at length even patronage, which was the last struggle of popularity, was settled against them. From that day the clergy began to go down. Principal Robertson’s ecclesiastical policy tended to divide our ministers into two classes; one, and by far the largest, of which had no principle superior to that of obsequious allegiance to patrons ; the other, devoting itself entirely to the religion of the lower orders, had no taste or ambition for anything higher than what that religion required, or could, to ordinary minds, suggest. The old historical glory had faded; and, under the insignificance of repose, it was chiefly a lower description of men who were tempted to enlist in the ecclesiastical service. The humbleness of their livings, and even the well-meant cheapness of their education vulgarized them still more: so that learning and refinement, being scarcely attainable, ceased to be expected; and, with too few exceptions, vegetating in the manse, and the formal performance of the parochial duties, came to be the ultimate object of clerical ambition. A church that is poor, resident, and working is the best of all churches, both for the state and for the people: but it is not one that, in peaceable unpersecuting times, can sustain an elevated clergy.

Accordingly, the descent of the Scotch clergy throughout the last half of the eighteenth century was steady and marked. Not that there were no distinguished men among them; but there were not many, and they were always decreasing. Mouldering in their parishes was their general doom. And the descent proceeded with always increasing velocity. Take the case of Edinburgh, to which the best clergymen may be supposed to have been allured. About the year 1790 we had Blair, Henry the historian, Hardy the eloquent Professor of Church History, Principal Robertson, Dr. Erskine, and Sir Harry Moncreiff; all literary and agreeable gentlemen, the delights of all society. But twenty years shewed the change that was proceeding. Sir Harry alone remained, and not one other person had arisen to fill up the sad vacancies. I do not recollect a single work of any importance, which any one of our Established clergy during this time contributed to learning, or to science, or even to theology; and in Edinburgh at least, but I believe everywhere, they had fallen almost entirely out of good lay society.

Had all this been compensated by higher professional eminence, it might have been said, that what this world had lost the other had gained. But at this period this could not be said with even a pretence of truth. It was the reverse. Until Chalmers and his consequences arose, the theological philosophy and eloquence of the Church seemed to be worn out. And no wonder. Nothing can inspire religious duty or animation but religion. Other causes may produce detached flashes, but nothing else can sustain general devotedness or enthusiasm. But a stern system of patronage, rendered more illiberal by its union with Toryism, tended to exclude all clergymen who were known to cherish a taste for the people and their piety; and to reserve pulpits for those whose ambition ended in pleasing their political masters. This system, though it gave us cauldrife preachers, might have had perhaps a tendency to supply society with well educated and agreeable gentlemen; but this consolatory tendency was defeated by the paltriness of the clerical position. A new presbyterian revolution was approaching, which brought out new men, and new dangers, and new popularity, with a necessary elevation of those who shone in it. But about this time the old thing was dead.

The first circumstance that afterwards tended to revive it was the poverty of town-councils. It was necessary to fill churches, for the sake of the seat rents; and churches could only be filled by putting in ministers for whom congregations would pay. This business principle operated seriously in Edinburgh, where the magistrates had laid out large sums in building and repairing kirks. This brought Andrew Thomson into this city; which was the opening of his career. His Whig reputation was so odious, that it rather seemed at one time as if civic beggary would be preferred to it; and most vehemently was his entrance into our untroubled fold opposed. But, after as much plotting ,as if it had been for the Popedom he got in, and in a few years rewarded his electors by drawing about £1800 a year for them; a fact which, of itself, loosened all the city churches from the dead sea in which they were standing.

Of our native presbyterian seceders, Struthers, who died in 1807, was the only one in Edinburgh who was entitled to the praise of eloquence. I know no other person of the class who attracted people of good taste, not of his community, to his church merely for the pleasure of hearing him preach. His last chapel was in College Street, but before it was built he preached in the Circus, a place of theatrical exhibition at the head of Leith Walk. It was strange to see the pit, boxes, and galleries filled with devout worshippers, and to detect the edges of the scenes and other vestiges of the Saturday night, while a pulpit was brought forward to the front of the stage on which there stood a tall, pale, well-dressed man, earnestly but gently alluring the audience to religion by elegant declamation. However, as my countrymen have no superstition about the stone and lime of the temple, it did very well. Struthers was not of any superior talent or learning, but as a pleasing and elegant preacher he was far above any presbyterian dissenter then in Edinburgh.

The year 1808 saw the commencement of our new jail on the Calton Hill. It was a piece of undoubted bad taste to give so glorious an eminence to a prison. It was one of our noblest sites, and would have been given by Pericles to one of his finest edifices. But in modern towns, though we may abuse and bemoan, we must take what we can get. Princes Street was then closed at its east end by a line of mean houses running north and south. All to the east of these houses was a burial ground, of which the southern portion still remains; and the way of reaching the Calton Hill was to go, by Leith Street, to its base (as may still be done), and then up the steep, narrow, stinking, spiral street which still remains, and was then the only approach. Scarcely any sacrifice could be too great that removed the houses from the end of Princes Street, and made a level road to the hill, or, in other words, produced Waterloo Bridge. The effect was like the drawing up of the curtain in a theatre. But the bridge would never have been where it is except for the jail. The lieges were taxed for the prison; and luckily few of them were aware that they were also taxed for the bridge as the prison’s access. In all this magnificent improvement, which in truth gave us the hill and all its decoration, there was scarcely one particle of prospective taste. The houses alongside the bridge were made handsome by the speculators for their own interest; but the general effect of the new level opening into Princes Street, and its consequences, were planned or foreseen by nobody.

The completion of the new jail implied the removal of the old one: and accordingly in a few years after this 44 the Heart of Midlothian” ceased to beat. A most atrocious jail it was, the very breath of which almost struck down any stranger who' entered its dismal door; and as ill placed as possible, without one inch of ground beyond its black and horrid walls. And these walls were very small: the entire hole being filled with little dark cells; heavy manacles the only security; airless, waterless, drainless; a living grave. One week of that dirty, fetid, cruel torture-house was a severer punishment than a year of our worst modern prison —more dreadful in its sufferings, more certain in its corruption, overwhelming the innocent with a more tremendous sense of despair, provoking the guilty to more audacious defiance. But yet I wish the building had been spared. It was of great age : it once held the Parliament (though how it could, I can’t conceive): it was incorporated with much curious history; and its outside was picturesque. Neither exposing St. Giles, nor widening the street, nor any other such object, ought to have been allowed to extinguish so interesting a relic.

But by far the most gratifying occurrence that distinguished this period was one which proclaimed the dawn of modern Scottish art. In 1808 our artists had a public Exhibition of their works— being, so far as I am aware, the first display of the kind that had ever been made in Scotland. We had then a few respectable artists. Raeburn was great in portrait, greater than any Scotch painter of his day; the elder Nasmyth had cultivated landscape with some success; and for many years we had had an academy of instruction, not ill conducted, under the Board of Trustees. But still Edinburgh had not then emerged as a seat of art. There was no public taste for art, and, except for Raeburn’s portraits, no market for its productions. Art was scarcely ever talked of. This Exhibition, however, shewed that there were more pencils at work, though obscurely, than was supposed. It was a subterranean stir that had moved the surface. In general the works were below what would now be admitted into any Exhibition in Edinburgh. The best were those of Nasmyth, John Thomson, and Carse. The first two rose to great eminence afterwards, but Carse soon died. Some pretended to call him the Teniers of Scotland; a title by the help of which he excited attention, and some hope. But, though he certainly had humour, I doubt if he would ever have got the better of his coarseness and bad training, both in drawing and in colouring. However, this Exhibition did incalculable good. It drew such artists as we had out of their obscurity: it shewed them their strength and their weakness: it excited public attention: it gave them importance.

Considering the rapid improvement which this experiment led to, we owe more than ought to be forgotten to a humble citizen called Core, who kept a stoneware shop in Nicolson Street. The admission money could not be depended upon to pay for the Exhibition room: the artists could not afford to make up the deficiency and a public subscription would have been hopeless. In this situation Core, without communicating with any one, either hastily built, or hired, but I rather think built, a place afterwards called the Lyceum, behind the houses on the east side of Nicolson Street, and gave the use of it to the surprised artists. The arts thus brought into the light, advanced systematically; and there were more and better, and better paid, artists in Edinburgh in the next ten or fifteen years, than there had been in all Scotland during the preceding century.

Though Lord Grenville’s Court of Session scheme had fallen with the Whigs, public attention had been excited, and the subject was revived by the new administration. This produced a new deluge of pamphlets, meetings, and reports, which ended in the adoption of the great and decisive measure of cutting our single Court into two—that is, of abolishing the old one. Accordingly, on the 11th of July 1808 that Court sat, as such, for the last time. Incorporated as it had been with the history of Scotland for about three centuries, it was a striking thing, to one who reflected, to see these fifteen judges rise that day, never to meet on the old footing again. Yet no monody was composed, no tear was shed, over its demise. I could not have conceived that anything so ancient could have gone out so quietly. It was the natural death of dotage. It disappeared, and was forgotten, as if nobody had known of its existence.

The old Court had, I suppose, done very well for the old time. It had produced many great lawyers, and a most admirable system of law, the best indeed in Europe. But it was extinguished at last by defects which no modern tribunal could survive. Its radical defect was its numerousness. A bench of fifteen judges can only be "a learned crowd.” Their number produced confusion, unseemly contention, prominence in the coarse, and shrinking by the gentle. These evils were greatly aggravated by the want of permanent Lords Ordinary. Except the Lord President, all the judges acted in separate Courts of their own, by a system so loose and complex that it left each to be nearly wherever he chose. There was always a judge, or several, wandering over the Outer House. One consequence of this was, that nobody could ever predict of whom the Court would be composed at any one moment. Hence it rarely happened that the successive parts of the same cause were decided by the same men. To force on his cause when he knew that certain judges would be out or in, was a great point with a cunning agent. Private consultation, public decorum, and a more deferential use of the President, though, they could not have reconciled reason to such a Court, might have veiled its defects. But Sir Hay Campbell had too little of their confidence, and they were too many to confer harmoniously together, even if he had had more of it. Hence when they assembled in public, they scarcely ever agreed. Each acting independently was tempted to stand up for every particle of his own notion; and a love of victory, display, and refutation was apt to supersede the calm feelings appropriate to the judgment seat. Plots and counterplots of management were occasionally irresistible, and this hubbub, jockeyship, and uncertainty had always to be settled by a vote; the putting and settling the result of which gave rise every hour to as keen conflicts as the original matter of the dispute. I cannot conceive that this system ever did well: but, at any rate, the growth of the population, the rise of an attentive public, and the increasing independence of counsel made it no longer tolerable. Yet the ancient pile would have withstood even these blasts, at least fbr a time, had its demolition not been thought convenient for the House of Lords, which expected never to be troubled by another Scotch appeal.

General Wyse, an English officer who commanded the forces in Scotland, told the Lieutenancy of Midlothian, with whom he was dining, that in courts-martial the youngest member always gave his opinion first, but that he could not discover that there was any particular rule in the Court of Session. "hy Sir,” said Hermand, “with us the most impatient speaks first, and you would observe that I always begin.”

President Campbell retired; and, to the delight of everybody, Blair was set to preside over the new scene. Mathew Eoss, the king of doubters, succeeded him as Dean of Faculty.

Sir Hay survived his retirement about fifteen years, having died in 1823, aged eighty-nine. He neither moped, nor grumbled, nor got idle; but gave his assistance, in a very liberal spirit, to all the many schemes for the improvement of the law which then began to sprout. He was the most active of the Commissioners on the Fees in Scotch Courts, or rather was the whole Commission ; whose elaborate and often learned reports were entirely his work. No sage’s opinion was ever more anxiously asked, or more freely given, on new legal projects. And, as if the guidance of Parliament and Government had not been enough for him, he performed all the duties of a Justice of the Peace, as patiently and zealously as if a cause was a novelty to him. The old gentleman combined this playing with judicial toys with the personal management of his estate of Garscube; and lived like a patriarch, in a house overflowing with company, beloved by troops of relations, and courted for his character and hospitality by many friends.

The Second Division of the Court sat for its first two years in what was then the Court of Exchequer. Its site does not exist and cannot be easily explained now. But it was up stairs, and a hole was cut high in the east wa<ll of the Outer House, through which the macer (or crier) called the causes and the counsel. This macer was an old, firm-set, hard, angular man, named Graham, who had long been in this vocation, and was the most official and picturesque person I have ever seen in it 5 large, square-faced, wooden-featured, grave, and formal ; with an amazing voice—loud, distinct, and swinging. The murmur of the Outer House used to be stilled when this image stuck its awful head through the lofty orifice, and sent its slow articulate tones into every corner and every ear below, calling people up to their tasks and dooms. He could speak in no other way. I once saw him during the long vacation at a little place he had in Ayrshire, when he hoped I was well, and pointed out his shrubs, and addressed his family, all in his own loud, calm, crier style. He must have flirted in that voice. He was the monarch of macers, the only one I ever saw who was dignified and awful. No doubt Bliadaman thus has him.

Two sad privations clouded the close of the year 1809. The High School lost Dr. Adam, and the College Dugald Stewart.

Adam died, after a few days illness, in December. His ruling passion, for teaching, was strong in death. It was in his bedchamber, and in the forenoon, that he died. Finding that he could not see, he uttered a few words, which have been variously given, but all the accounts of which mean—"It is getting dark, boys ; we must put off the rest till to-morrow.” It was the darkness of death. He was followed to the grave (in the Chapel of Ease near Windmill Street) by many eminent and grateful pupils. James Pillans, his successor, has given a good short sketch of him in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Mr. Pillans had been educated at the High School, and was then a private tutor at Eton. His friend and schoolfellow Francis Horner advised him to stand for the Rectorship. It seemed hopeless; but he tried, and his character carried him through. His superiority to the other candidates was never doubted ; but the black spot of Whiggism was upon him. This would certainly have been conclusive in the Town Council, had not some of his friends there proposed a reference to a few of the judges, including President Blair, who quashed his brethren and warmly recommended Pillans.

Nothing of the kind could be more important, or better timed, than this election. The modern improvements in education were just beginning to dawn, and it was very material to secure the services of a young man in whom their spirit was strong. Had a common-place choice been made, we would probably have lost Pillans permanently, the earliest and the best of our reformed practical teachers, and who has been of incalculable use throughout the whole modern progress of Scotch education.

Stewart’s health had made him nearly incapable of lecturing in the preceding session. Dr. Thomas Brown supplied his place; and did it so admirably that, when Stewart withdrew finally in 1810, he was appointed his successor. Stewart’s retirement made a deep and melancholy impression. We could scarcely bring ourselves to believe that that voice was to be heard no more. The going down of such a luminary cast a foreboding gloom over the friends of mental philosophy, and deprived the college it had so adorned of its purest light.

Brown, a profound metaphysician, an enthusiast in the science of mind, and, in a peculiar way, and

But “if,” said he, “the President takes the part which you expect, he will prove with great lustre, the superiority of his character.”— (Letter to Murray, 22d January 1810.—Horner’s Memoirs, vol. II. p. 23.) eloquent lecturer, was perhaps the only man in the empire, except Mackintosh, who was worthy of coming after Stewart. Yet as his public principles, though so gentle as scarcely to be perceptible to his friends, were not decidedly Tory, lie too was objected to on the ground of politics; and the warm recommendations of Stewart and Playfair would certainly have been disregarded, had he not been patronised by Dr. Gregory to whom he had for sometime been secretary, and by Lord Meadowbank who took metaphysics under his special charge.

Two still subsisting institutions arose in 1810 —the Horticultural Society, and the Commercial Bank.

The Horticultural Society was chiefly the work of Patrick Neill, a printer • a useful citizen, a most intelligent florist, author of an excellent Horticultural Tour in Flanders, of the article Gardening in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and of various other kindred works. The exotics in his little acre-garden at Canonmills put many a grander establishment to the blush. He was also an archaeologist, which made him one of the few defenders of our architectural relics. This Horticultural Society was one of the first buds of that extraordinary and delightful burst of floral taste which has since poured such botanical magnificence over our great places, and such varied and attainable beauty round our cottages. It is not in our public establishments, or in our great private collections, that its chief triumph is to be looked for; but in the moderate place, the villa, and especially in the poor man’s garden; in the prevalence of little flower societies; its interest as a subject of common conversation ; and the cheap, but beautiful and learned practical works that are to be found in the houses of the humblest of the people. I cannot doubt its proving a great civilizer. In innocence, purity, and simplicity, the florist—not the scientific botanist, but the florist of his own little borders, is the only rival of the angler. I wish we had a good Flowery Walton.

The rise of the Commercial Bank marks the growth of the public mind. It seems odd now that so slight an occurrence as the opening of a private association of money changers could do so. But the principle on which this one was erected must be considered. No men were more devoid of public spirit, and even of the proper spirit of their trade, than our old Edinburgh bankers. Respectable men they were : but, without talent, general knowledge, or any liberal objects, they were the conspicuous sycophants of existing power. What else could they have been ? All the Whig business of the country would not have kept them going for a week ; and Government dealt out its patronage in the reception and transmission of the public money only to its friends. So they all combined banking with politics. Not that they would discount a bad bill for a Tory, or refuse to discount a good one for a Whig 5 but their favors and their graciousness were all reserved for the right side. A demand for a bank founded on more liberal principles was the natural result of this state of things, as soon as these principles had worked their way into any considerable portion of the community. Hence the origin of the Commercial, professing to be the bank of the citizens. It was not meant, and has never acted, as a political engine ; nor were all even of its founders, and still less of its proprietors, of the popular party. But simply because it was understood to be erected on the principle of excluding politics from its trade, and tended consequently to emancipate the people, its announcement was a clap of thunder 5 and efforts, of which the virulence attested the necessity of the establishment, were made to crush it. It prevailed over these unworthy attempts, and was at the time, and until the other banks were tamed, of incalculable benefit. Moderating the illiberality of the other establishments, by freeing the citizens from their absolute control, it deeply and silently improved the condition of our middle classes, on whose rise its effects have been far more real than apparent.

In July 1810 I had the honor of being dismissed by the Lord Advocate from being one of his Deputes. The grounds of divorce were, that I had never been adequately of his party, and that I had voted against him at a Faculty meeting a few days before. I told him that I had long expected to be turned out, and reminded him of the terms on which I had unwillingly accepted the office, and which implied no fealty to him. He said he knew this, but that he, and the relatives to whom I had owed it, had deemed my scruples u a mere youthful fervour which was expected to wear off. I might have told him truly that my fear that they might think so had only made the fervour warmer. I never felt more relieved than on getting rid of a connection which had all along § been more than half compulsory, and never comfortable. A hearty shake of Sir Harry’s hand, who called in a day or two to wish me joy of my liberation, was worth more than the three or four hundred pounds a year of the office.

In March 1811 I married, and set up my rural household gods at Bonaly in the parish of Colinton, close by the northern base of the Pentland Hills; and, unless some avenging angel shall expel me, I shall never leave that paradise. I began by an annual lease of a few square yards and a scarcely habitable farm house. But, realizing the profanations of Auburn, I have destroyed a village, and erected a tower, and reached the dignity of a twenty-acred laird. Everything except the two bums, the few old trees, and the mountains, are my own work, and to a great extent the work of my own hands. Human nature is incapable of enjoying more happiness than has been my lot here; where the glories of the prospects, and the luxury of the wild retirement, have been all enhanced by the progress of my improvements, of my children, and of myself. I have been too happy, and often tremble in the anticipation that the cloud must come at last. Warburton says that there was not a bush in his garden on which he had not hung a speculation. There is not a recess in the valleys of the Pentlands, nor an eminence on their summits, that is not familiar to my solitude. One summer I read every word of Tacitus in the sheltered crevice of a rock (called “My Seat”) about 800 feet above the level of the sea, with the most magnificent of scenes stretched out before me.

As I was going along Maitland Street on the evening of the 20th of May 1811 I met Sir Harry MoncreifF, who asked me with great agitation, if I had heard what had happened? He then told me that President Blair was dead. He had been in Court that day, apparently in good health, and had gone to take his usual walk from his house in George Square round by Bruntsfield Links and the Grange, where his solitary figure had long been a known and respected object, when he was struck with sudden illness, staggered home, and died.

It overwhelmed us all. Party made no division about Blair. All pleasure and all business were suspended. I saw Hermand that night. He despised Blair’s abstinence from the pollution of small politics, and did not know that he could love a man who neither eared for claret nor for whist but, at near seventy years of age, he was crying like a child. Next day the Court was silent, and adjourned. The Faculty of Advocates, hastily called together, resolved to attend him to his grave. Henry Erskine tried to say something, and because he could only try it, it was as good a speech as he ever made. The emotion, and the few and broken sentences made this artless tribute, by the greatest surviving member of the profession to the greatest dead one, striking and beautiful.

The day before the funeral, another unlooked for occurrence deepened the solemnity. The first Lord Melville had retired to rest in his usual health, but was found dead in bed next morning. These two early, attached, and illustrious friends were thus lying, suddenly dead, with but a wall between them. Their houses, on the north east side of George Square, were next each other.

The remains of Blair were taken to the grave with all the civic pomp that Edinburgh could supply. But the most striking homage was paid in the solemn and impressive silence and respectfulness of the people. There were no soldiers and scarcely a dozen of police officers. Yet the procession moved to the Greyfriars Church-yard through a mass of orderly populace, all as still as if they had been his family. When the sod was laid, his relations, as usual, took off their hats. So did the Judges who stood next: then the Magistrates: the Faculty and other legal bodies : the Clergy : and all the spectators in the church-yard; beyond whom it ran over the sky lines of people ridged on all the buildings, and on the southern edge of the Castlehill—all stood for a moment silent and uncovered.

His statue by Chantrey was obtained by public subscription. It is like both in the features and the figure, and gives an idea of his calm repose. But the portrait by Baeburn is a much truer representation.

During the two years and a half this distinguished and excellent man was at the head of the Court he performed the duties of the place most admirably. His associates being greatly inferior to him judicially, his eminence extinguished them all, and made himself the Court. He heard them and the counsel with apparent tranquillity, and then roused himself and began. And his style was so uniform that it almost seemed as if it had been the result of a rule. He first stated the leading facts and the exact point of the case, formally and clearly, and then either worked out the deciding principle gradually, or announcing it at once, proceeded to expound and apply it. The luminousness of this system gave his judgments an air of greater superiority than they sometimes really had, merely because everybody understood him. He did not dive into the middle of a cause by a first plunge, nor was he contented by a mere intimation of his result, nor did he peck at its crumbs, nor rest upon allusions, but always set forth his grounds satisfactorily. This made the delivery of his opinion not merely a decision of the cause, but an explanation of it to the audience, and a lesson in law to the bar.

Lord Melville was buried privately at Lasswade. It has always been said, arid never so far as I know contradicted, and I am inclined to believe it, that a letter written by him was found on his table or in a writing-case, giving a feeling account of his emotions at the President’s funeral. It was a fancy piece, addressed to a member of Government, with a view to obtain some public provision for Blair’s family ; and the author had not reckoned on the possibility of his own demise before his friend’s funeral took place. Such things are always awkward when detected; especially when done by a skilful politician. Nevertheless an honest and a true man might do this. It is easy to anticipate one’s feelings at a friend’s burial; and putting the description into the form of having returned from it is mere rhetoric.

In its preservation of this powerful Scotchman, history is aided by a column and a statue, both in Edinburgh. The statue is perhaps Chantrey’s worst. The column has received and deserves praise.

A change was now so far advanced as to be publicly visible, which was of great consequence to Scotland.

I have mentioned that Whig opinions were dangerous accompaniments for success in life, especially to the young, whose fresh minds, however, presented the soil most favourable for their growth. The fate of the junior Whig lawyers, therefore, was looked to, for encouragement or for despair, by all those, but chiefly by the young, who were cherishing liberal principles. And I have stated that these lawyers, though strongly united among themselves, were not only suppressed as much as they could be by the opposite party, but were for some years not very cordially received even by the seniors on their own side. They had now however got their feet fairly on the green sward. Their talents had worked them up into obviously coming power in their profession. Their virtues, better understood, had extended their friendships, and opened society to them. The Review, with which many of them were connected, fixed upon them a large portion of the general fame of the work. Their seniors saw themselves surpassed both in literary and in social influence, and did not now grudge to acknowledge it. Through their Edinburgh comrades who were rising into importance in England, a more lively and useful sympathy than had ever subsisted' between the friends of reform was established in the two British capitals. The people of Scotland gave importance, and consequently power, to the rising lights whose guidance they now began to acknowledge.

Besides other valuable names, there was George Cranstoun, firm in principle, and only too fastidious for practical work ; John Archibald Murray, reared in the very hotbed of Toryism, but transplanted, by his own spirit, and his great friend Francis Homer’s attraction, into the more congenial soil where through life he has flourished; Thomas Thomson, formidable in dignity and in antiquarian learning; George Joseph Bell, our greatest modern institutional writer; John Macfarlan, an apostle, and worthy of the best apostolic age; James Moncreiff, rivalling even his father in the energy of virtue ; and James Grahame, a child in simple poetry and amiable piety, and though shrinking from sensitiveness of nerve from all suffering, as ready for the flames, if his principles required it, as either Macfarlan or Moncreiff. These three, indeed, would have made the best martyrs I have ever known. Moncreiff would have gone to the stake refuting his persecutors’ errors; Macfarlan smiling inwardly, and speculating on the oddity of the proceeding as a method of convincing; and Grahame, roused into indignation, proclaiming the atrocity of the tyrant. And, above all and over all, there was Jeffrey, in brilliancy the star of the whole party.

Although these men were advancing into the front rank, there was no jealousy now on the part of those who were in that place. Erskine had retired. Gillies was scenting promotion. John Clerk was too self-willed and odd to act with anybody; but his strong party spirit and his respect for their talents made him favourable to his junior friends, who were not received with the less favor from the sociableness of their natures, and the impossibility of any competition interfering with his great practice. The pure and heroic Fletcher knew not what jealousy was, and would have cheered on a personal enemy if he had had one, provided he was going before him in the public cause. Malcolm Laing’s literature had withdrawn him from the law, but not from a deep interest in the proceedings of the lawyers whose politics he approved of.

A very inadequate idea will be formed of tbe effect of tbe rise of these men, if it be confined to the Parliament House. -The rising or the sinking of a few professional lawyers, as such, is seldom of much public importance. But these lawyers represented a class; and this class consisted of all the younger men in Scotland to whom the prevailing intolerance was distasteful, but who were hourly warned that submission to it was essential for worldly success, The disenthralment of those who had liberated themselves from it in Edinburgh was like liberty proclaimed to all slaves. And, accordingly, besides the more numerous and daring in towns, there was scarcely a considerable village which did not contain some one who breathed more freely from what he had heard of the success of those in the metropolis, who had been in a similar state of depression with himself. There was an elevation of the whole liberal surface. So true was the remark of the quiet and observant Playfair, that it seemed to him that the whole cause of independence in Scotland hung upon the characters and the exertions of about half a dozen young men in the Parliament House.

The anti-revolutionary formation kept its old hardness and its old level; just as it does now. It has come in time to contain a smaller amount of human matter, but in its nature it is unchanged, and unchangeable. It still suppressed independence among its adherents as strongly as ever. And lienee the otherwise incomprehensible fact of the still continuing deadness of all the classes which it could control. Individuals had emancipated themselves, but no masses. It is difficult to make a person accustomed to modern civic fermentations comprehend, or even believe, the utter political inanition which then silenced and awed our largest towns. The class called citizens—that is, the tradesmen, shopkeepers and merchants, even in Edinburgh, did not exist politically. They were ripening, for they soon produced fruit. But as yet they were so far back, that they were scarcely ever taken into account by the Whigs as political elements. To be sure, there were no political movements to excite them. Every public concern was superseded by volunteering and the war. But this was because the people were not then capable of being moved. If any of the measures, which twenty years afterwards agitated every political nerve in the kingdom, had been propounded, however attractively, they would have fallen to the ground cold. The total absence of public meetings exposes our whole condition.

Nor had the Whigs any particular hope, except the forlorn one of the Prince of Wales. Changes of ministry favourable to them were no more thought of while George the Third lived, than changes in the system of nature. They persevered, proclaiming their favourite objects; but merely that their colours might not be deemed struck. Even their Royal friend soon taught them the good sense of the advice which warns both Whigs and Tories not to put their trust in princes.

In 1811 our Edinburgh society still continued unchanged in its general character. Napoleon’s continental padlock still sent us good English youths and families: society and literature adorned each other: the war sparkled us with military gaiety and parade: London had not absorbed the whole of our aristocracy either of wealth or of rank; and, notwithstanding several important emigrations, we still retained far more native talent and reputation than could be found in any other town in the empire, except London.

No one who knew John Playfair can ever resist basking in his remembrance. The enlargement of his popularity after he began to verge towards age, was the natural result of the beautiful process by which that most delightful philosopher increased in moral youthfulness as he declined in years. Admired by all men, and beloved by all women, of whose virtues and intellect he was always the champion,0 society felt itself the happier and the more respectable from his presence. "Philandering at the Needles” was a phrase by which Jeffrey denoted his devotedness to ladies and to rocks.

Henry Mackenzie’s excellent conversation, agreeable family, good evening parties, and the interest attached to united age and reputation, made his house one of the pleasantest. One of the Arbitri Elegantiarum of old Edinburgh, he survived to flourish in a new scene. But though he survived the passing away of many a literary friend, and many a revolution of manners, he accommodated himself to unavoidable change with the cheerfulness of a man of sense, above the weakness of supposing that the world must have been in its prime only when he was in his. The title of “The Man of Feeling” adhered to him ever after the publication of that novel; and it was a good example of the difference there sometimes is between a man and his work. Strangers used to fancy that he must be a pensive sentimental Harley; whereas he was far better—a hard-headed practical man, as full of worldly wisdom as most of his fictitious characters are devoid of it; and this without in the least impairing the affectionate softness of his heart. In person he was thin, shrivelled and yellow, kiln-dried, with something, when seen in profile, of the clever wicked look of Voltaire.

Sir James Hall was a person of great intellectual vigour and considerable originality. In the then opening field of geology, and all its kindred subjects, be was profound; and whatever scientific object he took up he pursued with an energy before which obstacles that defied common minds disappeared. While the Neptunists were exulting-over the Vulcanists on the supposed impossibility of such things as limestone and granite being igneous productions, and the Vulcanists were defending themselves by arguments, Sir James after great forethought set to work, and by fire, pressure, and perseverance actually made the stones. This was but an example of his way. His theory of Gothic architecture is, I suppose, not truer than many others; but no one equals him in the ingenuity with which his fanciful principle is worked out, or in the beauty of the book by which it is illustrated. I regret that I never saw the little sylvan cathedral in the garden at Dunglass by which he shewed his theory in its actual growth. He was held in great admiration by all deep philosophers, and was the most scientific of our country gentlemen.

His only misfortune was a bad manner; at least if it be a misfortune for a clever man to be much laughed at. Neither obtrusive, nor dull, nor coarse, but rather kind, gentle, and cheerful, he said and did whatever occurred to him; and as he had the always diverting defect of absence of mind, there was seldom any saying what might occur to him. There was no intentional disregard of the ordinary ceremonies of politeness, but an unconsciousness of their existence. He made one speech in Parliament; and I have heard him say that he was not much discomposed by the laughter of the whole members, but that he began to suspect that he must be making a queer figure when he saw the Speaker laugh too. It was a doubt in the family, while he was a boy, whether he was to turn out a man of genius or an idiot; and being in London, he was taken to the top of St. Pauls, where some one on the hopeful side was certain he would disclose himself by some grand burst of wonder. It was long of coming ; but at last he screamed with delight, "Ee! there’s a cuddie!” What better could a sensible boy have observed? His large house, in George Street, was distinguished by its hospitality both to science and to fashion. And the interest of his many evening parties was not lessened by the stories of his oddities, which were sure to make the morning laugh.

People used to be divided at this time as to the superiority of Scott’s poetry or his talk. His novels had not yet begun to suggest another alternative. Scarcely however even in his novels was he more striking or delightful than in society; where the halting limb, the bur in the throat, the heavy cheeks, the high Goldsmith-forehead, the unkempt locks, and general plainness of appearance, with the Scotch accent and stories and sayings, all graced by gaiety, simplicity, and kindness, made a combination most worthy of being enjoyed. Jeffrey, his twin star, made a good contrast. He was sharp English; with few anecdotes, and no stories, delighting in the interchange of minds, bright in moral speculation, wit, and colloquial eloquence, and always beloved for the constant transpiration of an affectionate and cheerful heart.

For a small place, where literature sticks out, Edinburgh has never been much encumbered by professed literary ladies; and most of those we have had have been exotics. The two best about this time were Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton, the authoress of the Cottagers of Glenburnie, and Mrs. Grant, widow of a minister of Laggan, who had unfolded herself in the "Letters from the Mountains ”—an interesting treasury of good solitary thoughts. They were excellent women, and not too blue. Their sense covered the colour. I think it was to Mrs. Hamilton that Jeffrey said, in allusion to the good taste of never losing the feminine in the literary character, that there was no objection to the blue stocking, provided the petticoat came low enough down. One wonders why Mrs. Hamilton, with her good Scotch eye, did not put more Scotch among her cottagers than dirt, on which almost solely the hook lives. Mrs. Grant was a tall, dark woman, of very considerable intellect, great spirit, and the warmest benevolence. Her love of individual Whigs, particularly of Jeffrey, in spite of her amusing horror of their principles, was honourable to her heart. She was always under the influence of an affectionate and delightful enthusiasm, which, unquenched by time or sorrow, survived the wreck of many domestic attachments, and shed a glow over the close of a very protracted life. Both she and Mrs. Hamilton were remarkable for the success of their literary conversational gatherings. Their evening parties had the greater merit from the smallness of their houses, and of their means.

In November 1811 we all started, and none in such a fright as the Tories, at the first instance that had probably ever occurred of the promotion to a seat on the Bench of a person opposed in his opinions to the Government that appointed him. This miraculous exception took place in the case of Adam Gillies, a Whig, who was made a judge in the place of Lord Newton. The honor of effecting this marked deviation from the established practice, was due to Charles Hope, the Lord President, who felt that his Court needed law, which it was expected that Gillies would supply.

Three useful associations—the Astronomical Institution, the Society for the Suppression of Public Begging, and the Lancastrian School, arose in 1812; each marking the advance of the place, and indeed of the age, and each followed by permanent effects. The Astronomical Institution, which now adorns the summit of the Calton Hill, was the work of Professor Playfair. He used to state, in order to shew its necessity, that a foreign vessel had been lately compelled to take refuge in Leith, and that before setting sail again, the master wished to adjust his time-piece, but found that he had come to a large and learned metropolis, where nobody could tell him what o’clock it was.

The "Society for the Suppression of Public Begging” was the first systematic modern attempt that had been made in Scotland to check public mendicity, and to avert charity from supporting it. The disclosures made, and the attention excited, by this early step in the philosophy of pauperism, materially promoted the subsequent institutions of Houses of Industry, Houses of Refuge, Savings Banks, and many others for preventing, methodising, and relieving necessary destitution. We owed it to two causes—the dangerous extent to which public begging had reached, and the judicious benevolence of John Forbes, Advocate, now Lord Medwyn. Let those who despair of eradicating mendicity from a spot on which it has fastened study the facts of this Edinburgh case, and be comforted. The swarm disappeared as soon as it was scared; and though it often returned, its settling or not settling just depended on the vigilance with which the flowers of bad charity it fed upon were crushed or fostered.

The Lancastrian School was a symptom and a cause of the advance of popular education, and was therefore a vital event, and a bold experiment at this time. It was the achievement of the Whigs and of the pious; and, though not openly opposed, was cordially hated by all true Tories, who for many years never ceased to sneer at and obstruct it. And when its success seemed certain, some of the established clergy disgraced themselves by trying to prevail on the Presbytery of Edinburgh to crush it indirectly ; and in aid of this presbyterian effort the Bishop of Meath, who happened to be residing here, was easily persuaded by the episcopalian illiberals to preach an ignorant and insolent sermon against it. On this we discharged Sir Harry at him who considerably improved the funds by a sermon which, as he spoke it, trampled on his lordship in a triumphant and contemptuous refutation. It was one of Sir Harry’s greatest practical shouts. The original school was a long, low, wood and brick erection, stretched on the very top of the Calton Hill where it was then the fashion to stow away everything that was too abominable to be tolerated elsewhere.

John Clerk of Eldin, the author of the work on naval tactics, died in May 1812. An interesting and delightful old man; full of the peculiarities that distinguished the whole family — talent, caprice, obstinacy, worth, kindness, and oddity. His claim to the merit of having first suggested the idea of breaking the enemy7 s line in naval war is now disputed on grounds which are at least plausible and formidable. It is possible that the same thought may have occurred to different men at the same time ; and my conviction of the honesty of Clerk is so complete, that I am certain he would have disdained to claim a discovery which he had not made. That conception however formed but a small part of his scientific merit; for though it is the matter with which his name happens to be chiefly connected in public talk, he was looked up to with deference by all the philosophers of his day, who were in the habit of constantly receiving hints and views from him, which they deemed of great value. He was a striking looking old gentleman with his grizzly hair, vigorous features, and Scotch speech. It would be difficult to say whether jokes or disputation pleased him most. I know no better account of the progress of a father and a son than what I once heard him give of himself and of his son John, in nearly these very words—u I remember the time when people, seeing John limping on the street, used to ask, what lame lad that was? and the answer would be, that’s the son of Clerk of Eldin. But now, when I myself am passing, I hear them saying, what auld greyheaded man is that? And the answer is, that’s the father of John Clerk.” He was much prouder of the last mark than of the first Sir John Dalrymple, a Baron of our Exchequer, and author of the Memoirs of Great Britain, had died in 1810. He was succeeded in his estates by his son, then called Sir John, whose energy and political independence have associated him with all the subsequent party struggles of Scotland. He began with the metropolitan county of Mid-Lothian, which made as shameful an exhibition of itself as any parliamentary reformer could desire. It had immemorially been a mere appendage of the house of Amiston, as completely as Edinburgh, or one of the Arniston farms. Not that there were not some independent seeds; but they never got above ground. No formed opposition divided the shire: no rebellious whispers disturbed it. The new Sir John, a soldier and almost a stranger, had scarcely succeeded when he announced himself a candidate, and on Whig principles. It would be vain to attempt to make any modern man comprehend the indignation excited by this first interference with the hereditary monopoly. The Whig seeds sprang, and multiplied. However, they would have been shaded to death by the old branches, but that fidelity to his friends was ascribed to the Prince of Wales, and that he was about to become Regent without restrictions. This mistake drew traitors off from the colours they had sworn to stand by, and without their perfidy pure principle would after all have mustered but a slender host. There perhaps was not a single one of those deserters who had not asked, and probably obtained, and were then enjoying, favors from the Dundases solely on a pledge of political support. But they betrayed their patrons, as they would have sold their country. The result was that, at the election on the 26th of October 1812, Sir John was within ten votes of being returned; and if it had not been known by this time that the Regent was to be false, he would certainly have been made the member. They soon crouched into their old yoke again. But their momentary pretence of independence proved permanently useful. It laid the foundation of a regular county opposition. It shewed the admirers of our representative system how little, without principle and without popularity, it could be depended upon, even for their ends. It shook the stability of all the shires, and directed their minorities to parliamentary reform as their only hope.

William Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, died in 1813. Though he continued Karnes's Dictionary of Decisions, he was no lawyer, and indeed except as a judge was scarcely considered as of the profession. It was as Professor of History that he was chiefly distinguished. His lectures were not marked either by originality of matter or by spirit; but, though cold and general, they were elegant and judicious. Having long held the now abolished office of Judge-Advocate in Scotland, he was naturally led into his Treatise on Military Law, which is a clear and sensible exposition of the principles by which the absolute will of the Sovereign over his army is supposed to be controlled and regulated. The Reverend Archibald Alison published a Life of his friend in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a performance which owes no inconsiderable part of its pleasingness to the impression it imparts of the amiableness of the biographer. It is a dream of recollections, in which realities are softened by the illusions of the author’s own tenderness. Tytler was unquestionably a person of correct taste, a cultivated mind, and literary liabits, and very amiable; which excellences graced, and were graced by, the mountain retreat whose name he transferred to the Bench. But there is no kindness in insinuating that he was a man of genius, and of public or even social influence, or in describing Woodhouselee as Tusculum.

Another amiable and celebrated person, Murray, commonly called the Orientalist, was withdrawn from us in 1813, very soon after reaching what to him was the great, and in the opinion of everybody else the merited, elevation of the Chair of Oriental Literature in the College of Edinburgh. Sir Harry Moncreiff has published an account of him, by far the best part of which is Murray’s own description of his early feelings and progress. Born a poor boy in the wilds of Galloway, an early thirst for knowledge, but particularly for languages, left him little rest by day or by night. I knew him at Dalzel’s class, a little shivering creature, gentle, studious, timid, and reserved. His academical chair was the just and appropriate reward of his long and silent enthusiasm, and was made the more honourable by the eminence of his competitors. But study had worn out a weak constitution, and he survived the attainment of his object only a few months. His work on general philology, however able, is not such high evidence of his depth in the philosophy of language, as was furnished by his shorter essays, or even by his conversation. A good man, however, and interesting from his mere studious recluseness, his fate affected even those who only knew him by reputation, and sympathized with the story of his meritorious rise and premature disappearance,


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