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Memories of his Time
Chapter VII


Matthew Ross, a very distinguished person, and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, died in October 1823. As it is not the custom for our Deans to die, it having never happened before (as was said), we ran little risk from the precedent of an official funeral, with which therefore he was honoured. He was a most curious creature. A worthy innocent man, and a very great chamber counsel, but with not a particle of worldly knowledge except what he got from law cases, and from novels, of which he was a great devourer. He had very extensive practice with the pen and the head, which brought him a respectable fortune. His tongue never produced a guinea, for he equalled his blushing brother Holland in bashfulness. Learned in every department of the law, a clear and rather elegant legal writer, and of the deepest and most inventive ingenuity, our judicial records contain no arguments more deserving of study by any one who is anxious to instruct his understanding, or to improve his taste, from the fountains of a great master. He was one of the Pundits who cannot be pushed forward. Office, even on the bench, had no attractions for a legal monk, who dined in solitude at least 360 times a year, and who could not be looked at without his face becoming pink. He was so distressingly shy and awkward, that, when George the Fourth was here, he had to be deposed for the nonce from the Dean-ship in favor of Lord Lauderdale, because the attempt to deliver an address from the Faculty must have killed him. The rough and changing world got tired of his timidity, and his practice left, him while his powers were still entire. His glory and his luxury was in a legal doubt. Sir Harry Mon-creiff once made him give two opposite opinions in one day, on the same case, by changing the names, and hinting a difficulty. Matthew instantly followed the false scent, and without seeing that the cases were identical, hunted himself down. How often have I seen the little short body, with his thin powdered hair, his silk-clad bits of legs and silver-buckled toes, sitting in his evening chair, in his little room in Queen Street, with his blushing cheeks and cunning eyes, reasoning himself into no result except that the matter on which he was consulted was all doubts, on each of which he would have a still finer and deeper doubt, till at last he would good-naturedly acquiesce in some practical man’s proposal that we should all keep our thumbs on these doubts, and that neither the Court nor the opposite party would dream of them — which they very rarely did.

In 1823 Lord Bannatyne resigned his seat on the bench, and John Clerk was announced as his successor. With his crotchets, and his tendency to torpidity when not excited, Clerk could not perhaps have made a safe judge at any time ; but it was a severe trial to be promoted in his sixty-fifth year, and when his vigour had begun to ebb. He had drawn more money than any man had ever done at the Scotch bar, probably not under £100,000 in the last twenty years of his energy. But pictures, books, hospitality, charity, and general bad management left him a poor man after all. People could not believe their ears when they heard that John4 Clerk was to go, or was to get, upon the bench. They could not think of him except as a man who was born to tear and snarl at judges. In the wiry uncombed locks, breaking out from below the wig, and the shrewd sensible face, the contracted limb, and the strong arms, they saw the traces of a thousand tough battles; and could not believe that these were all over, and that John was henceforth only to be seen seated, decorously, on a high place. The Court was unusually crowded when he took his seat. As he was limping from the floor to the bench, an old agent, who remembered other days, was overheard ejaculating to himself—“Eh! is he gaain’ up amang them!” He expected a worry the instant that the wolf got among the lambs. Clerk was a warning to all counsel to beware of leaning on violent energy as their permanent staff. It is attractive to clients, and therefore does vulgarly well for a certain time. But, among other misfortunes, it is necessarily temporary. It does not become grey hairs ; and though it did, old blood can’t keep it up. Clerk did not increase, as Blair did, in awfulness and weight with age. This is the ripening of wisdom. He let himself settle into the habit of having little intellect except under excitement; and this age must always chill. Energy of thought may last as long as the lamp burns : but fierce vehemence dies out, and the lamp is quenched before its time.

The Court of Session was now doomed to stand its trial again, for the third or fourth time within twenty years. The object in view in 1807, and effected, was to cut the old court into two- divisions. The introduction of civil juries was the problem of 1815. And now came the examination of its forms of proceeding. Each of these was a natural and necessary step in the process of fitting the tribunal to modern circumstances.

This last inquiry was by sixteen Eoyal Commissioners; including our four heads—namely Hope Lord President, Boyle Justice-Clerk, Shepherd Chief Baron, and Adam Chief Commissioner, with the Dean, the Lord Advocate, and the Solicitor-General, Baron Hume, the Depute-Keeper of the Signet, and four English lawyers. These four were Tindal afterwards Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, William Alexander afterwards Chief Baron of England, Littledale afterwards a judge, and Courtenay afterwards Earl of Devon. They began work in 1823, and the invaluable statute of 1825 was the result of their labours, These were two years of as great excitement, and as keen discussion, as legal reform ever produces. The great points considered and resolved upon in the Commission were—1. The introduction of a system of pleading, particularly by Becords; 2. The diminution of writing, and the consequent extension of oral debate; 3. The earlier finality of judgments; 4. The maintenance of civil juries.

What was called the country, that is, the country as represented by town councils and lairds was nearly unanimous against this reform. These persons never exhibited themselves more discreditably. They knew nothing, and indeed were incapable of being made to know anything, of the subject; but being at all times saturated with aversion to innovation they gave their voices to certain professional persons who misled them. These persons had the usual professional addiction to the things they had lived by and their zeal was most extraordinary. Thus instructed, resolutions against trial by jury, and in favor of the system under which all evidence was taken on commission, records were unknown, no single judgment, however solemn, was final, and all statements and arguments were in writing, were passed by almost every burgh and every county in Scotland! All this ignorant hubbub was met, on the part of Government, by the single fact, that every Commissioner had set his hand to the Report. Of all the flights of pamphlets with which the air, throughout these two years, was darkened, there were only two, or rather only one, now worth being looked at. This was an "Explanation" addressed by George Joseph Bell to the Lords Committee— an admirable sketch, containing a clear exposition of our old forms, and a powerful defence of the proposed new ones. The other consisted of two letters, published anonymously, but understood to be written by Lord Rosslyn. These judicial shakes remind one of James the Fifth’s letter to the judges about a fortnight after the institution of the Court ending, "And we’ll be at ye, peradventure, sum day whan ye nocht think."

It was in 1823, I think, that the last fragment of our Royal Botanical Garden was removed from its situation on the west side of Leith Walk, and that the transplantation of the whole to its present site at Inverleith was completed. No garden could he made to walk a mile with less injury to its health. Scarcely a single plant or tree was lost, and after recovering from their first sickness, they looked fresher and prouder than ever. Dr. Graham, the Professor, was a respectable botanist, and a good teacher, and in his first lieutenant, Macnab, he had a most admirable practical man. That chair is one of the best botanical prizes in Britain. Few things of the kind are more enviable than a taste for that science, with such a garden, such funds, and such a class. It was nearly about the same time that "The
Horticultural Society,” which had been set up in 1809, opened its kindred and adjoining “Experimental Garden.” Conducted, as it was at first, by such men as Ellis and Neill it could scarcely fail, and has always done as well as low funds allow. But Flora and poverty make but a bad match.

Recent events provoked me to write an article in the Edinburgh Beview on the nature of the office of Lord Advocate and this, in about a year, forced me in self defence to answer a plausible pamphlet ascribed to one of the Lord Advocate’s deputes. The institution of a public prosecutor is certainly a very valuable part of our system, and the duties of the office cannot be better performed than they have long been in Scotland, in ordinary cases. But this is surely quite consistent with its being a dangerous office, when its holder is employed as a political agent. My object was to explain the causes and temptations which may make his position injurious to his purely accusative virtues. Yet I now see that, under the feelings of the period, I stated the expediency of keeping the Lord Advocate to the public prosecutor’s desk far too strongly. His being in Parliament, and considered as a high public officer, and intrusted with a liberal direction of all matters connected with our legal polity, is essential both to the dignity and to the practical usefulness of his place. I am also wrong—grossly wrong, in saying a word in favor of grand juries. The disclosure of an inclination to tolerate such an incumbrance in a country with a public accuser, shews the desperate remedies that the misconduct of these days had driven us in quest of.

The Fox dinner was held on the 26th of January 1824, under the presidency of Lord Archibald Hamilton and Mr. Ferguson of Raith, with about 300 present. Jeffrey made one of his noblest bursts in admiration of the good parts of the constitution of America.

In the following month, Abercromby moved for leave to introduce a bill for reforming the representation of Edinburgh. He was defeated of course; but only by 99 against 75. The amount of the minority, and the admission of the majority that, taken by itself.’ the Scotch representation was indefensible, but that we were under the shelter of the representation of England, confirmed us in our resolution to persevere. He renewed his motion on 13th April 1826. It was then supported by 97, but opposed by 122. The increase on the vote was good: but the admission by Canning that, if any change had been expedient, the idea that articles of Union could be held up as an insuperable obstacle, as had been urged, ought to be u scouted ”was still better."

Leonard Horner and I had often discussed the causes, and the remedies, of the decline of classical education in Scotland; and we were at last satisfied that no adequate improvement could be effected so long as there was only one great classical school in Edinburgh, and this one placed under the town council, and lowered, perhaps necessarily, so as to suit the wants of a class of boys to more than two-thirds of whom classical accomplishment is foreseen to be useless. So one day on the top of one of the Pentlands—emblematic of the solidity of our foundation and of the extent of our prospects—we two resolved to set about the establishment of a new school. On taking others into council we found that the conviction of the inadequacy of the High School was far more general than we supposed. Scott took it up eagerly. The sum of £10,000 was subscribed immediately; and soon afterwards about £2000 more. We were fiercely opposed, as we expected, by the town council; and, but not fiercely, by a few of the friends of the institution we were going to encroach upon. But, after due discussion and plotting, our contributors finally resolved to proceed, and in 1823 the building was begun. It was opened, under the title of "The Edinburgh Academy,” on the 1st of October 1824, amidst a great assemblage of proprietors, pupils, and the public. We had a good prayer by Sir Harry Moncreiff, and speeches by Scott and old Henry Mackenzie, and an important day for education in Scotland, in reference to the middle and upper classes. Mackenzie’s vigour was delightful. Though about eighty he made an animated address, exulting in the rise of a new school upon a reformed system. About a month before this he one day appeared at Bonaly to breakfast, played bowls most part of the forenoon, had a party at dinner in his own house, where Richardson and I left him predominating in full talk to a larger party at eleven. He almost admitted that a report of his being under temptation by a bookseller to write a volume of his personal reminiscences was correct. I hoped the temptation would prevail; for he has seen all the curious men of a bye-gone age. Yet it is nearly impossible for an old good man to remember truly. Whatever it is amiable to soften or to forget, is forgotten or softened, the angularities of nature are smoothed down, and everything is coloured by the haze of tenderness. He told us many interesting anecdotes that day 5 but on our hoping to see them in the book, we got a shake of the head. I suspect there was a good deal of prosaic truth in the account which a Highland gentleman, who had marched all the way to Derby with the Pretender, gave him of that romantic adventure. Mackenzie asked him whether he did not always think the idea of dethroning the House of Hanover absurd? "Na, Sir! I ne’er thoeht aboot it. I just ay’ thoeht hoopleesant it wad be to see Donald riflin’ Lon’on.”

Another luminary, which for several years had been attracting notice, was now fixed in our Scottish sky—I mean Thomas Chalmers. I have known him long, and pretty well. There can scarcely be a more curious man. When I first became acquainted with him, he used to leave his parish of Kilmany twice or thrice a week to lecture in St. Andrews on chemistry. And not confining himself to physical science, he stored his mind during this first stage of his course by a general study of the principles of moral and political philosophy. In this position, of an indifferent minister, and a lecturer rather ardent than exact, he produced a strong impression of his energy and ability on all who were within his range. But it was only on being elevated by the deep religious feelings which afterwards took possession of him that his powers were developed in their full -force. From that moment he was a new creature; and devoted himself, as if with new faculties, to the moral and religious improvement of his countrymen. The high station which he soon attained wakened his ambition, and has dignified his powers. Of the result, in so far as it is contained in a constant and copious stream of published composition and of public exertion, any one can judge. But eloquence records its character feebly. He is awkward, and has a low rough husky voice, a guttural articulation, a whitish eye, and a large dingy countenance. In point of mere feature, it would not be difficult to think him ugly. But he is saved from this, and made interesting and loveable, by singular modesty, kindness, and simplicity of manner, a strong expression of calm thought and benevolence, a forehead so broad that it seems to proclaim itself the seat of a great intellect, a love of humour, and an indescribable look of drollery when anything ludicrous comes over him.

In spite of the external disadvantages of a bad figure, voice, gesture, and look, and an unusual plainness of Scotch accent, he is a great orator; for effect indeed, at the moment of speaking, unapproached in our day. Yet he seldom utters an extemporaneous word. His habit is to have every thing written, to the very letter. The success of the very few attempts at unprepared speaking which he has ever been obliged to make removes all doubt of his power, if he had chosen to practise it. But it is not his way. He feels stronger in building up before hand, and giving the public the mere recitation. But then he premeditates and composes with an exact anticipation of his speaking position; and, neither in recollecting nor in reading, could any one unacquainted with his system discover that his memory or his eye were particularly engaged ; and he does truly glow with the warmth of present conception. Still, the habit impairs his power of reply. But it does not impair his general impressiveness. On the contrary, by withdrawing him from the temptations of personality, and the little tricks and idle flashes of what is commonly called debate, it leaves him freer for his own loftier range, into which he rarely fails to put views and statements, which, in truth though not in form, are answers to all that can be said on the opposite side. But neither devotional fervour, nor enlightened philosophy, nor vivid language, nor luminous exposition could produce the effect he does, without the aid of his manner. I have often hung upon his words with a beating heart and a tearful eye, without being brought to my senses till I read, next day, the very syllables that had moved me to such admiration, but which then seemed cold. The magic lies in the concentrated intensity which agitates every fibre of the man, and brings out his meaning by words and emphasis of significant force, and rolls his magnificent periods clearly and irresistibly along, and kindles the whole composition with living fire. He no sooner approaches the edge of his high region, than his animation makes the commencing awkwardness be forgotten, and then converts his external defects into positive advantages, by shewing the intellectual power that overcomes them; and getting us at last within the flames of his enthusiasm, Jeffrey’s description, that she buried his adversaries under the fragments of burning mountains, is the only image that suggests an idea of his eloquent imagination and terrible energy. Personally, he appears to me to be simple, affectionate, and true, devoted to useful objects, and utterly unspoiled by applause. I was so much struck with the wisdom and energy of his system for the management of the poor, that I wrote an article in explanation and defence of it

In June 1824 a noble range of houses, forming the upper end of the south side of the High Street, and the north-eastern corner of the Parliament Close, was burnt to the ground. This was talked of at the time as the most extensive conflagration remembered in this stony city. But it was soon eclipsed by what have ever since been referred to as "The Great Fires.”

These fires broke out on the evening of Monday the 15th of November 1824, on the south side of the High Street about half way between the Tron Church and St. Giles’ Cathedral; and before morning a range of houses six or seven stories high, with fifteen windows in front, and extending back almost to the Cowgate—as dense a mass of buildings as was perhaps in the world, was a burnt shell. People thought this bad enough *, especially as the adjoining ruins of the June fire were still untouched. But about noon next day an alarm was given that the Tron Church was on fire. We ran out from the Court, gowned and wigged, and saw that it was the steeple, an old Dutch thing, composed of wood, iron, and lead, and edged all the way up with bits of ornament. Some of the sparks of the preceding night had nestled in it, and had at last blown its dry bones into flame. There could not be a more beautiful firework; only it was wasted on the day-light. It was one hour’s brilliant blaze. The spire was too high and too combustible to admit of any attempt to save it, so that we had nothing to do but to admire. And it was certainly beautiful. The fire seized on every projecting point, and played with the fretwork, as if it had been all an exhibition. The outer covering boards were soon consumed, and the lead dissolved. This made the strong upright and crossbeams visible; and these stood, with the flame lessened, but with the red fire increased, as if it had been a great burning toy. The conflagration was long presided over by a calm and triumphant gilded cock on the top of the spire, which seemed to look on the people, and to listen to the crackling, in disdain. But it was undermined at last, and dived down into the burning gulf, followed by the upper half of the steeple. The lower half held out a little longer; till, the very bell being melted, this half came down also, with a world of sparks. There was one occurrence which made the gazers start. It was at a quarter before twelve, when the minute hand of the clock stood horizontally. The internal heat—for the clock was untouched outwardly— cracked the machinery, and the hand dropped suddenly and silently down to the perpendicular. When the old time-keeper’s function was done, there was an audible sigh over the spectators. When it was all over, and we were beginning to move back to our clients, Scott, whose father’s pew had been in the Tron Church, lingered a moment, and said, with a profound heave, “Eh Sirs! mony a weary, weary sermon hae I heard beneath that steeple! ”

About nine that evening I went over to the old town to see what was going on. There were a good many people on the street, but no appearance of any new danger. I had not been home again above half an hour, when it was supposed that the sky was unnaturally red. In spite of Hermand’s remonstrances, whose first tumbler was nearly ready, I hurried back, and found the south-east angle of the Parliament Close burning violently. This was in the centre of the same thick-set population and buildings; but the property was far more valuable. It was almost touching Sir William Forbes’ bank, the Libraries of the Advocates and of the Writers to the Signet, the Cathedral, and the Courts. Of course the alarm was very great; but this seemed only to increase the confusion. No fire ever got fairer play. Judges, magistrates, officers of state, dragoons, librarians, people described as heads of bodies were all mixed with the mob, all giving peremptory and inconsistent directions, and all, with angry and provoking folly, claiming paramount authority.

It was said to have been mooted, and rather sternly discussed, on the street—whether the Lord Provost could order the Justice-Clerk to prison, or the Justice the Provost, and whether George Cranstoun, the Dean of the Faculty, was bound to work at an engine, when commanded by John Hope the Solicitor-General to do so, or vice versa. Then the firemen were few and awkward, and the engines out of order; so that while torrents of water were running down the street, nobody could use it. Amidst this confusion, inefficiency, and squabble for dignity, the fire held on till next morning; by which time the whole private buildings in tbe Parliament Close, including the whole east side, and about half of the south side, were consumed.

On going to Court that morning, I found that an adjournment had taken place; and that the College, Arthur Seat, and all the southern and eastern objects which had been screened for ages were now seen over the fallen ruins. The only remaining danger was from two walls, standing alone, which it was thought a breeze might make smother everything near them. Both were brought down on the Saturday (20th Nov. 1824), one by ropes, and one by powder. The one that was subdued by ropes was near the east end of the south side of the square. It was part of the tallest house in Edinburgh, and was then probably the tallest self-standing wall in

Europe—being, from tlie Cowgate, about 130 feet high. It was pulled down by a party of sailors from a frigate in Leith Eoads, who required two days to get it within their toils.

The dissolution of the other was a grand thing. It had formed nearly the whole east side of the square, and was steadied by a piece of wall standing at a right angle to it, which acted like a buttress. Five holes, or mines, were sunk in this buttress, into each of which a pound of powder was put. Two of these failed to explode, and two exploded too late, so that one shot did the business. In going off this made a dull noise like a thump—as if to warn the spectators, on the house tops, that the time was come. In a second or two, during which hardly a breath was drawn, the buttress fell across the main wall, which stood alone, staring with its windows. But seeing its old associate down, it bent slowly and slightly forward, as if turned on a hinge at the ground, bringing with it its windows and grates, and other vestiges of recent order and comfort, without the least noise, or any visible fracture, but with awful steadiness and tenacity. This scarcely lasted above a second or two when every stone dropped from its place, and falling straight down, the whole mass disappeared in a shower of fragments, which after dashing themselves on the ground sent up a thick fog of lime dust, that powdered every coat on the top of the Outer House, where I stood; while the shout of the people was heard through the white gloom. It was sublime. I can never forget the emotion when the large scorched screen, beholding all its old companions gone, and not another stone in its place on that side of the square, bent forward, and laid itself in chaos on the ground.

Jeffrey presided at the Fox dinner on the 24th of January 1825 ; Moncreiff was croupier. It was a new position for Jeffrey; but he adorned it by great thought, and great beauty of diction. This, I think, was the last of these festivals. They were never meant to be perpetual; but were only resorted to for political union and excitement during the stage that we had now passed through. Public meetings of all kinds soon became so common that, as substantive events, they are not worth recording. These Fox dinners did incalculable good. They animated, and instructed, and consolidated the Whig party with less trouble and more effect than anything else that could have been devised. A kindred gathering upon a larger scale was held on the 5th of April 1825, when a public dinner was given to Brougham upon his first return to Edinburgh. About 850 were present; being more, I believe, than had ever attended a public political dinner in Scotland. Of these about fifty were known, and other fifty understood, to dissent from the political creed of the meeting, and to have been attracted by curiosity, or by personal regard to Brougham. But there certainly were 750 persons there openly professing Whiggism. I had the misfortune to be in the chair. When the waiters were clearing the tables, and the talking time was approaching, Brougham told me that he thought the most alarming moment of life was, when the Speaker, after settling himself into his chair for an important debate, paused for an instant before calling up the mover; but that he would rather endure that a hundred times than rise and address the audience before him, which, he said, was the largest he had ever spoken to under a roof. If this was the feeling of that practised orator, I need not be ashamed to confess that I felt very uneasy. However it was, on the whole, a successful and impressive meeting.

We were now in a pretty keen conflict about the Edinburgh Improvements, a subject which blazed for a good many years after this. It all related to the creation of the new southern access by George the Fourth's Bridge, and of the new western access by the west approach along the Castle Hill. There were three parties—1st. Those who would be taxed for nothing. 2d. Those who, being personally interested, insisted to have themselves and everybody else taxed to any extent. 3d. Those (of whom I took the lead) who were willing to be taxed, provided new statutory securities were given for the perpetual openness of Princes Street and the Mound. This last party finally prevailed: and had it not been for its efforts, Edinburgh would have been destroyed. These statutory precautions may possibly be all disregarded hereafter. This will be the loss and the disgrace of the people themselves, of whom, from their ordinary apathy about the beauty of their city, I certainly forebode no good. But meanwhile we did our duty, by both giving them the means of new improvement, and of saving what excellence they already have. Some people let their picturesque taste get so sickly that they sigh over the destruction of every old nuisance or incumbrance. But they never try to live among these fragments, nor think of the human animals who burrow there. Everything that has an old history, or an old ornament, or an old peculiarity, if it can be preserved, ought to be preserved in spite of all living inconvenience. In these matters mere anti* Scott’s Monument has since been erected on Princes Street; and the Art Galleries are rising on the Mound; and a railway pollutes the valley. But the last of these perfidies was irresistible; and the other two abatements of the strict exemption that was obtained were consented to, and were quite right.

Quity is better entitled to be respected than existing comfort. It is not once in a thousand times that the two are really incompatible. But it does not follow that present necessities and tastes are to be sacrificed for the preservation of every tottering gable that would look well in one of Weirrotter's etchings. That the new approaches are immense improvements cannot be doubted. That the assessment was too high, and that there was jobbing, and mismanagement, and trick, and ill humour, and folly, is true. But this bad was temporary, and the good is permanent. And it is also true that the south approach might have been joined to the New Town at a better level, and in a far more handsome manner. But still what we got was better than nothing.

There was at this period, and for some years both before and after, a very pretty quarrel between the people of Leith and the town council of Edinburgh. The council was the proprietor of the harbour, and superior of the town of Leith; and, as such, had the entire mismanagement of that place. The result consequently was that the docks were bankrupt, and that though Leith was then even baser in its politics than its masters, the masters had scarcely a friend in that town. At last, after a long, and now incomprehensible, but most rancorous jumble which, whatever its details, was in principle a struggle for liberation on the one side, and for power on the other, Edinburgh fell into a pit dug by itself. It proposed to sell the harbour and the docks to a joint-stock company, which was to pay the debt, and to make money by imposing higher rates. The shares were speedily sold, and a bill to legalize the transaction was brought into Parliament. But the opposition to it was made irresistible by the discovery that several of the town council were shareholders; that is, that the public trustees had sold the subject of the trust to themselves for individual profit. After this truth had transpired, Abercromby had little difficulty in getting this municipal job quashed. The merchant company of Leith, a strongly Tory body, thanked him and their other parliamentary supporters—almost all Whigs, for u defending the rights of an unrepresented trading port against the influence of a great city having powerful parliamentary friends.” The expression of this truth, that Leith had suffered from want of representation, was worth the whole struggle. The conflict raged for a long time: but its result was that, bit by bit, Leith was successful; till at last, though not a royal burgh, it, like some other places, was included in the general measures that were adopted in a few years after this for the cleansing of those chartered abominations. Throughout the course of the dispute, the parties were fairly enough matched in point of intemperance and unreasonableness; and if Leith had the advantage in coarse violence, Edinburgh was compensated by its superiority in disdainful insolence. In the eyes of quiet observers, the true value of the affair lay in its aiding the growth of independence in Leith. The town council actually succeeded in creating a public spirit in that prostrate place.

The opening of the year 1826 will ever be sad to those who remember the thunderbolt which then fell on Edinburgh in the utterly unexpected bankruptcy of Scott, implying the ruin of Constable the bookseller, and of Ballantyne the printer. If an earthquake had swallowed half the town, it would not have produced greater astonishment, sorrow, and dismay. Ballantyne and Constable were merchants, and their fall, had it reached no further, might have been lamented merely as the casualty of commerce. But Sir Walter! The idea that his practical sense had so far left him as to have permitted him to dabble in trade, had never crossed our imagination. How humbled we felt when we saw him—the pride of us all, dashed from his lofty and honourable station, and all the fruits of his well-worked talents gone. He had not then even a political enemy. There was not one of those whom his thoughtlessness had so sorely provoked, who would not have given every spare farthing he possessed to retrieve Sir Walter. Well do I remember his first appearance after this calamity was divulged, when he walked into Court one day in January 1826. There was no affectation, and no reality, of facing it; no look of indifference or defiance; but the manly and modest air of a gentleman conscious of some folly, but of perfect rectitude, and of most heroic and honourable resolutions. It was on that very day, I believe, that he said a very fine thing. Some of his friends offered him, or rather proposed to offer him, enough of money, as was supposed, to enable him to arrange with his creditors. He paused for a moment; and then, recollecting his powers, said proudly—“No! this right hand shall work it all off! ” His friend William Clerk supped with him one night after his ruin was declared. They discussed the whole affair, its causes and probable consequences, openly and playfully; till at last they laughed over their noggins at the change, and Sir Walter observed that he felt u something like Lambert and the other Regicides, who, Pepys says when he saw them going to be hanged and quartered, were as cheerful and comfortable as any gentlemen could be in that situation.”

*Scott says in his Diary, 17th January 826, “I felt rather sneaking as I came home from the Parliament House—felt as if I were liable monstrari digito in no very pleasant way,” etc. (Lockhart’s Life, c. 66). Very natural for him to feel so; but it was the feeling of nobody else.

In spite of great mercantile depression, this was the period of the most violent Joint-Stock mania that ever seized this kingdom. I conld not have conceived that madness could he so universal. There was no peculiar temptation, from high profits, for men not regular merchants to adventure in trade; nor were purses too heavy with unemployed guineas nor was any new field suddenly discovered. It was a mere Joint-Stock epidemic. Wofully were those who relied on the prudence of the Scotch deceived. Neither the Parisians during the Mississippi insanity, nor the English under the South Sea delusion, exceeded the folly, or the knavery, of the cautious and moral Scot under his excitement of 1825 and 1826. The newspapers of the day contain little else than advertisements and recommendations of Joint-Stock Associations, in not one out of five hundred of which was there either plausibility or honesty. Everything unattainable, or useless if attained, was to be made easy and valuable, provided people would only take shares; which the ignorant, the excited, and the deceived by gambling directors or by paid secretaries and agents, took—to no other effect than enabling fraudulent speculators to make gain in the market by crazy prices, paid by fools, for what did not exist. The schemes were so numerous, that after exhausting every subject to which they could be applied, there was actually a joint-stock company instituted for the purpose of projecting and organising joint-stock companies. The fever lasted about a year. Not one honest penny was made out of all this villainy and folly. The loss was enormous.

Among other remedies for the prevailing commercial distress, Government proposed to check the unlimited circulation of small notes by the Scotch banks. Whether this was wise or not, there can be no doubt that the matter was taken up by the ministry in a narrow, ignorant, and exclusively English spirit. This country was instantly in a blaze from one end to the other, I never saw Scotland unanimous before. It was really refreshing to see the spirit with which the whole land rose as one man. Even the Tories were for a season reconciled to resistance and public meetings. The Lord Provost of Edinburgh presided at an assemblage of the lieges, where there was more violence, though the meeting was composed solely of what are technically called respectable persons, than in all the past gatherings of the Whigs put together. Scott, tempted by the bankers, came forward, under the name of Malachi Malagrowther, in the new character of a political pamphleteer. Poets may be excused for being bad political economists. If a nice question of monetary or commercial policy could be settled by jokes, Malachi would be a better economist than Adam Smith. His lamentations over tlie loss of Scotch sinecures was very injudicious, and did neither him nor such of these things as remained any good. He was mentioned in Parliament by his own friends with less respect than one would ever wish to be shewn him.

The opening in 1826 of an establishment called the New Town Markets at Stockbridge recalled some curious, though not distant, recollections of Edinburgh. It was only about fifteen or twenty years before that our only fish market was in the Fish Market Close, a steep, narrow, stinking ravine. The fish were generally thrown out on the street at the head of the close, whence they were dragged down by dirty boys or dirtier women; and then sold unwashed—for there was not a drop of water in the place —from old, rickety, scaly, wooden tables, exposed to nil the rain, dust, and filth; an abomination the recollection of which greatly impaired the pleasantness of the fish at a later hour of the day. Yet when the market was removed to its present situation below the North Bridge, there was an outcry as if hereditary nastiness, like other abuses, had been made, by time, necessary for comfort. I doubt if there was a single fish shop in Edinburgh so early as the year 1822. Our vegetables had to pass through as bad a process. They were entirely in the hands of a college of old gin-drinking women who congregated witli stools and tables round the Tron Church. A few of the aristocracy of these ladies—the burgo-mistresses, who had established a superior business—the heads of old booths—marked their dignity by an awning of dirty canvas or tattered carpet; and every table had its tallow candle and paper lantern at night. There was no water here either, except what flowed down the gutter, which however was plentifully used. Fruit had a place on the table, but kitchen vegetables lay bruised on the ground. I doubt if there was a fruit shop in Edinburgh in 1815. All shops indeed meant for the sale of any article, on which there was a local tax or market-custom, were discouraged by the magistrates or their tacksman as interfering with the collection of the dues. The growth of shops of all kinds in the New Town is remarkable. I believe there were not half a dozen of them in the whole New Town, west of St. Andrew Street, in 1810. The dislike to them was so great, that any proprietor who allowed one was abused as an unneighbourly fellow.

At the east end of what was formerly u The Physic Garden”—the low flat ground between the North Bridge and Leith Wynd, stand two venerable relics—Trinity Church, the best, and almost the only, ancient Gothic edifice in Edinburgh; and Trinity Hospital, a very curious place.

More than fifty years ago, this Garden was the favourite open-day haunt of the literature and polite flirtation of Edinburgh. But, in those days the Assembly-room was in a close (still called the Assembly Close) in the High Street; St. Cecilia’s Hall was in the Cowgate; the Canongate was occupied by the nobility and gentry; the ploughed fields now covered by the New Town were no more thought of than the fields of Fife. Ever since the Physic Garden was removed to Leith Walk—where it was called the Botanical, and from whence it has made another move to its present situation at Inverleith, the old place has been gradually falling every year into a more neglected and squalid condition. Although probably the North Loch, with its bad drainage and burghal sediments, was seldom an inoffensive neighbour, yet in spite of its lowness this must have been rather a good site originally, when there were no buildings to the north or east. The Calton Hill, with its rockiest face, stood right in front on the north; the sea must have been visible on the east; the Castle rose on the west; and the ridge of the Old Town bristled up to the south. Holyrood had not a better position.

The Hospital is for the benefit, not of common paupers, but of old men and women once in the prospect of a better fate. A few of them are presented by the heirs of donors. All the rest must be burgesses of Edinburgh, or of burgesses’ families; and they are selected by the Town Council. There are generally about thirty-five or forty in the house, and many more out, of it. The institution was founded in 1462 by Mary of Gueldres; but the building underwent considerable alteration about 1587. It would not be easy to produce anything meaner than its outside. It consists merely of a respectable common-place house, at right angles to which there runs a long, thin, two-storied building like a long granary—all cased in dingy rough-cast, without any attempt at ornament or proportion. There is a bit of garden about a hundred feet square; but it is only turf, surrounded by a gravel walk. An old thorn and an old elm, destined never to be in leaf again, tell of old springs and of old care. And there is a wooden summer-house, which has heard many an old man’s crack, and seen the sun soften many an old man’s wrinkles.

But the door is no sooner opened, than antiquity is seen standing within it. Narrow stone stairs, helped out by awkward bits of wooden ones; oak tables of immoveable massiveness high-backed carved chairs with faded tapestry on their seats and elbows; a few strong heavy cabinets; drawers, and leaves, and bolts, and locks, and hinges, once the pride of their inventors, and now exciting a smile at ancient carpentry; passages on miscalculated levels ; long narrow halls, and little inaccessible odd-shaped rooms; these and other vestiges of the primary formation arrest and delight the visitor. All the apartments except four are very small.

Of these four, one seems to be their academic grove. It is a long place, apparently for mere lounging, for it contains nothing except a large shelved press, which is the library. This library consists, so far as I can guess by the eye, of about 500 or 000 volumes. Many of them are suitable for the readers; many not. There are several beautiful books of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These, some think, it would be no disrespect to the ancient donors to sell for the purchase of more useful works. The chaplain, however, with a just pride in his antiquities, is shocked at the proposal; and he is right. There is sometimes a good deal of reading among these aged students; at present very little. It comes in fits like other fashions. A second of these long apartments is used as a chapel and banqueting room. There are two long tables, with chairs, and a passage between the tables. The pensioner’s position is the same, whether he is at dinner or at sermon. An old low pulpit stands at the end of the room; and before the pulpit there is a black article, said to be positively u John Knox’s sacramental table.” The third of these rooms seems to extend the whole length of the building. It is about ninety or a hundred feet long, and was originally about thirty or thirty-five feet wide. But its width has been contracted by operations, which have converted it into a city for human beavers. Along one side a range of ten wooden cabins projects into the room. It is just a range of wooden boxes, placed on the floor, along one side of the wall. Each box is about seven feet square, detached from its neighbour, and with its own door and window—all the windows looking into the room. These cabins, each of which houses a pensioner, narrow the room to the extent of their own depth, on the one side. On the opposite side, it is narrowed by a partition reaching from the floor to the ceiling. Between this partition and the outer wall there are two rows of cabins, one above the other. The lower row is entered by doors opening into the long room. The upper row is reached by neat wooden stairs. There are five of these stairs; and most picturesque they are. They project into the room, all to the same extent—probably three feet, and all with the same curve to the left, not unlike outer stairs to hay lofts. Each of the five leads to a small landing place, off which are two cabins.

There are thus thirty cabins in that room; ten in the form of boxes, on the floor, on one side; and twenty within the partition on the opposite side, ten of which are below and ten above; these last ten reached by the five outside wooden stairs. And between these lines of pigmy palaces there is a space of about fifteen or eighteen feet left free, along the whole length of the room. These human pigeonholes have immemorially been termed "arks”— a name which, holding ark to mean chest, describes them very correctly. Each ark contains the bed, chair, table, and little mirror, of its single inhabitant, and any other article of comfort or decoration that the occupier may happen to have. They are all neat and comfortable. Several contain chests of drawers; and some are gay with ornament. One duenna had her cupboard, with her own books, and her umbrella hanging from a brass hook, and every "coigne of vantage" graced by shells, and human figures, and trees, and animals—all cut by herself, out of pasteboard, and gloriously painted. Several others have carried with them into these sad though kindly retreats similar articles; plainly once the pride of their better days.

The fourth long apartment is lined on one side by another row of cabins; and there is space for an opposite row if required. Besides these roosts, which being both the parlour and the bed-chamber are truly the ark of each occupant, there are common rooms, with fires and carpets, where the inmates repair when they want talk, heat, or a social doze.

The walls of the chapel are entirely covered with wooden tablets, containing inscriptions in gilt letters on black grounds, immortalizing the memories of the various donors of merks or pounds Scots. The name of many a citizen, illustrious in his day, is there; the title of many a family, once green bay trees, now dead roots. I observe one donation in 1632; and, no doubt, there are some still older.

The community is presided over by a chaplain and a governess. The chaplain spends most of his day there, and may reside constantly if he pleases. However, he can never be long absent; for besides worship twice a day, he has to ask a blessing on all their meals. His drawing-room is scarcely ten feet square. But it is dignified by old chairs, an old table, an old desk, an old mirror, besides books and prints. The little cheerful round incumbent talks so happily of his own position, and so affectionately of every individual pensioner, that a bishopric, nay even a Scotch kirk, could scarcely increase his delight. The elysium of the queen is fully as tiny, and as old, and as nice. Besides being graced by various achievements of her own needle, it is enlivened by a blue parrot, on a bright perch, and a canary in a brass wire cage with doors and windows like a cathedral. On my last visit she insisted on my entering her bed-room—smaller than even the parlour; but what a coverlet of patch-work! Cheerfulness beamed from her face, and pride elated her heart. How cruel that, with such a pair, celibacy is the law of the place.

The subjects of these two sovereigns seem to be as happy as age, when combined with final destitution and with the recollection of more hopeful days, can probably ever be. They are decent in their apparel, clean in their domicile, and, so far as a stranger can discover, are kindly used, and kindly thought of. That they are followed into the last asylum that can ever shelter them bv grateful recollections, and even by some friendships, as well as by discontent, jealousy, quarrels, and all other passions that cling to the still beating heart, is certain. They are human. They doubtless have their magnates, their disputed principles, their wrongs, intrigues, and factions. The dulness of their day is, no doubt, relieved by occasional dissention and ingratitude. But there is as little of this, I understand, as generally enlivens hospitals. And certainly their bodies are not ill cared for. Every one seems proud of his own ark. They sit in these retreats, and come out, and go in—opening and shutting their own front doors, as if each felt that it was he who had got the state room.

One of the present female pensioners is ninety-six. She was sitting beside her own fire. The chaplain shook her kindly by the hand, and asked her how she was. u Very weel—-just in my creeping ordinary.” There is one Catholic there—a little merry woman; obviously with some gentle blood in her veins, and delighted to allude to it. This book she had got from Sir John Something; her great friend had been a Lady Something Cuningham; and her spinet was the oldest that had ever been made; to convince me of which she opened it, and pointed exultingly to the year 1776. Neither she, nor the ninety-six year old, was in an ark, but in an ordinary small room. On overhearing my name, she said that she was once at Miss Brandon’s boarding school in Bristo Street, with a Miss Matilda Cockburn, a 44 little pretty girl.” I told her that I remembered that school quite well, and that that girl was my sister; and then I added, as a joke, that all the girls at that school were said to have been pretty, but all light-headed and much given to flirtation. The tumult revived in the vestal’s veins. Delighted with the imputation, she rubbed her hands together, and giggled till she wept, and exclaimed, and pro-testedr and giggled more, and appeared to force back recollections that made her blush. She said she liked her fellow pensioners, “but no’ their religion; an’ they dinna like mine.” Of the last fact I had a tolerable proof, on going into a room where several of the women were. One of them asked me if I could tell them the name of a bird they had just got, and which was in a cage there. I told them it was a cardinal. On which the presbyterian sybils burst out into a jocular, but not ill-natured, roar—“A caardinal! hear that! a caardinal! od ou’ maun send it doon to the Caatholic!” This is Trinity Hospital. Time, in its course over Edinburgh, has left no other such picturesque deposit.

In a short time, the place shall know it no more! But the public will be gratified by a railway station. Trinity College Church too—the last and finest Gothic fragment in Edinburgh, though implored for by about four centuries, will disappear for the accommodation of a railway! An outrage by sordid traders, virtually consented to by a tasteless city, and sanctioned by an insensible Parliament. I scarcely know a more curious instance of ignorant insensibility than the apology that is made for this piece of desecration. It is said that the edifice is to be replaced, exactly as it is, in some better situation. And it is really thought that the Pyramids would remain the Pyramids, or Jerusalem Jerusalem, provided only their materials were replaced in London. Oxford would be Oxford, though in Manchester, if its stones were preserved. These people would remove Pompeii for a railway, and tell us they had applied it to a better purpose in Dundee.

Lord Hermand having retired, Cranstoun succeeded him, and took his seat on the bench in November 1826. His removal was a great loss to the bar, which he had long adorned, and where he had the entire confidence of the public. And though his judicial qualities, at least the most difficult ones, were of the highest order, it was seen that a long apprenticeship in the obscurity of the Outer House might prevent his real eminence from being soon felt. One of the great obstacles with which a Scotch judge has to contend is, that so little is done publicly, in open court, and on expositions of fact or of argument which the whole audience may understand. Everything, even talent and learning, is buried under perplexed incomprehensible written statements, through which the highest legal luminousness may often struggle in vain to shine with any splendour visible except to the few who know the case.

Moncreiff was appointed Dean in place of Cranstoun; and at his election made a characteristic address, warm in heart, and solid in honesty. Cranstoun’s name had been placed after that of Hope, the Solicitor-General, in the Commission for the visitation of the Universities of Scotland issued in 1826. This induced Cranstoun to put a protest on the proceedings of the Commission, claiming precedence for the Dean of Faculty over the Solicitor-General. As soon as Moncreiff’s address was done, therefore, the Solicitor, to make all sure rose and stated that though, from courtesy, he intended to yield the professional precedency to the present, as lie had done to the last, Dean, he still claimed it as the right of his office, and meant to put his claim by protest on the Faculty records. This was irresistible to the combativeness of Moncreiff; who sprung on the point like a tiger, and said firmly— u And gentlemen, I shall certainly answer that protest. For I do solemnly aver and assert that your Dean has precedence over his Majesty’s Solicitor-General.” It was all a very gratifying scene; marked by much kindness and liberality on all sides. Everybody felt the justice of MoncreifFs triumph 5 a man who had fought his way, every inch, purely by his own exertions. I thought of the feelings of Sir Harry.

It was in April 1827 that the hearts of those who had been long labouring for the liberation of Scotland, and had watched and directed the course of improved public opinion, and had been sometimes encouraged by its progress to hope that their country might see better days, were at last cheered by the advance of the liberal party, under the administration of Canning. The retirement of Lord Melville from the government of Scotland was not an event for which, in itself any candid Scotch Whig could rejoice; because no man, individually, could have conducted the affairs of the country with greater good sense and fairness, or with less of party prejudice or bitterness. But, his ceasing to be in power was the mark of a change absolutely necessary for the elevation of this part of the kingdom; and accordingly it was viewed first with stupid dismay, and then with abuse of his want of skill, by those to whom the idea of this elevation was unbearable. Abercromby opened his mind fully to Canning on the state of Scotland; particularly on the necessity of letting it be governed by the ministry, or by some - known and responsible part of it, specially assigned to the duty by constitutional office, instead of handing us over as a province to some proconsul, and taking no more thought of us. Previous to this communication, Canning had, in his ignorance, proceeded on the notion that this was the established system for the government of Scotland, and had consented “to let Lord Binning have Scotland.” But the remonstrances of Abercromby, Kennedy, and other Scotch members, put an end to this, and the reign of the new vicegerent, which began upon Saturday, ended by a formal abdication on the following Tuesday.

But Canning’s death, which took place in the autumn of 1827, greatly alarmed us; the more so, from the undisguised expectation of those whom aversion to the liberality of his principles had half excluded from power, that they would be restored again to their ordinary omnipotence. But after a few weeks of fearful doubt, they were disappointed; and, in so far as regarded Scotland, matters were rather worse for them than before; because Lord Lansdowne, a steady Whig, and in the confidence of the leaders of that party in Scotland, became Home Secretary, with Abercromby and Kennedy as his chief Scotch advisers. The extent to which, so long as there was any doubt which party was to prevail, both seemed inclined to coalesce, afforded an example of the meaning of the policy, by which kings are said sometimes to play one faction off against another, by giving none any ground for despair. The Whigs, thankful for every approach towards a better system, and wisely considering that each step facilitated the next one, gave their aid, honestly, to the improved Government. The Tories, thankful for not being altogether excluded, but alarmed at every infusion of Whiggism, concurred, though with a deep inward grudge, in that apparent approbation which could not safely be withheld. And so, for a season both were amiable and reasonable; but always with the material difference that the one was gay and hopeful, the other gloomy and desponding. The result over the community, on the whole, was a very great rise of confidence in the ultimate, and not very distant, triumph of the principles, which it had for so long-been nearly the sole object of the Tory party to resist; and a consequent increase of the boldness and openness with which those principles were pushed, not merely by their known and established friends, but by many who had never come forward on such matters.

There could scarcely have been a better example of this than in a little bit of rebellion which broke out even in the peaceful and loyal Society of Writers to his Majesty’s Signet. Mr. Colin Mackenzie, the deputy-Keeper, having resigned, William Dundas, the principal Keeper, wished to appoint a son of the Lord President. It is said that the President objected to this on the ground of his son’s youth; he being, if major, not much more, and not yet a member of the Society. It was then resolved to associate him with my schoolfellow Kichard Mackenzie of Dolphinton, a sensible and honourable man; and a commission was issued in favor of them both. The Writers took this to be a mere veil, and not a thick one, for putting a boy over them, and got into a blaze, and expectorated in resolutions and protests; after which, obtaining no redress, they resolved (18tli January 1828) not to allow the offensive deputies to preside at their meetings. This brought the matter into Court, where, I believe, it was afterwards found that the Keeper, and in his absence the deputy-Keeper, was ex officio chairman of all meetings of the Society. This outbreak was after only a few months of an improved government. A similar impatience of domination was evinced in every town council, every corporation, every court of freeholders, and in general in all meetings over the country. The Faculty of Advocates would not have behaved with such vigour. But we have no pure corporation spirit; and the Writers are full of it. Our merit is personal, and we care little for the body. Their professional glory arises from that of their order, and it is the idol. And I doubt if the Writers, indignant as they were, would have been seized with so unusual a fit of virtue, if they had suspected what happened within one single week; which was, that the political scene was suddenly changed, and the old hands restored to their old work. Huskisson and the other friends of Canning who, on his death, had joined the Whigs to exclude the Tories, found it convenient to prove false to their dead master, and now joined the Tories to exclude the Whigs. Lansdowne and his party withdrew from the Government. The restored seemed to be perfectly aware of the increased strength given to any party by its return to power after a short and abortive exclusion. Our fears were not much less than their hopes. Neither of us saw with sufficient certainty liow strongly the course of public opinion was setting in towards reform.

When the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts was under discussion this spring, we had an excellent public meeting* in aid of the first great modern triumph. Sir John Dalrymple was in the chair; Sir James Moncreiff f and the Bev. Dr. McCrie were the principal speakers. Moncreiff's speech was most excellent; nervous, well informed, and breathing in every word his deep and pious honesty. The Assembly Boom was crowded by people of the middle ranks of all sects and parties—except one. I did not observe a single adherent of Government. Their absence said little for their discretion; the crowd little for the security of their power.

On the 11th of June 1828 Dugald Stewart died, at the age of about seventy-five. He was the last of his illustrious class. Though enfeebled for some years, the decline of his life, down almost to the very last day, was personally comfortable, and in reference to his philosophy splendid. His intellect continued so entirely unbroken, that the period between his first attack of palsy in 1821, and his last on the day before his death was employed in the revision and improvement of his works, which he could not touch without having the favourite occupations of his earlier days recalled to him in their original freshness. His two last volumes, of which he even corrected the press himself within a very few months of his death, are so tinged with his lectures, that I cannot read them without thinking I hear his pleasing voice. He was buried in the north-west angle of the Canongate churchyard. The magistrates and professors attended; but there was no attempt to make it a public funeral. 1 could not resist going to the Calton Hill, and contemplating a ceremony which awakened so many associations. The very Canongate has a sort of sacredness in it. Independently of more distant historical recollections, such as its once containing the residences of many of the nobility of Scotland, by whose titles its principal places are still marked, and its being the avenue to our Palace, Parliament House, and Castle, what an interest is imparted to its old ridgy back and smoky chimneys by the still unchanged houses of Smith, Karnes, Moriboddo, and of him whose ashes were that day committed to its soil!

A meeting of his friends was held on the 9 th of July; when it was resolved to erect a monument to his memory. The Lord Chief Commissioner (Adam), who was in the chair, stated that he himself was then the only person alive who had heard Stewart first read his essay u on Dreaming/' This was at a literary society when the author was under twenty. The prevailing, though not the unanimous, feeling was that the monument should be architectural, and placed on the Calton Hill; which was this very summer (1828) relieved of a horrid old rubble dike which used to surround the Observatory, and was adorned by a handsome wall, protecting, yet disclosing, the astronomical building and the monument of John Playfair. There has always been an opinion with some that nothing should have been built on the Calton Hill, and that it should have been left to what is called nature—that is, as a piece of waste ground for blackguards and washerwomen. Those who think so must of course have objected to the Temple of Minerva on the Acropolis of Athens. So as the prospects are preserved, it cannot be too much ornamented by handsome stairs, broad level walks, sculptured stone benches, and above all monumental buildings. The silent beauty of architecture, if consecrated to great names, would make that eminence the noblest cemetery of immortals in Europe. But no edifice connected with common habitation ought to be permitted. The nearest tolerated approach to the living ought to be the Observatory, holding communion with the heavens, and the Parthenon, used as a receptacle of art. And no building, not even a monument, ought to be tolerated, except at a price implying a high order of merit, and probably expressing the contributions of public gratitude. If anything under £2000 be admitted, we shall have the tombs of Provosts. The air of the place ought to be kept pure, and its associations inspiring.

In September 1828, Richardson and I visited Scott for a few days at Abbotsford, and had the rare good fortune to find him nearly alone ; and nothing could be more delightful. His simplicity and naturalness after all his fame are absolutely incredible. I remember him when he was famous for almost nothing except imitating Eskgrove (a power which fortunately he has never lost), and his manners are the same now that they were then. No bad idea will be formed of Scott's conversation by supposing one of his Scotch novels to be cut into talk. It is not so much conversation as a joyous flow of anecdote, story, character, and scene, mostly humorous, always graphic, and never personal or ill natured. His habits at this time were these. He rose about six; wrote from about half-past six till nine—the second series of the Tales of a Grandfather being then the work; breakfasted and lounged from nine to eleven wrote from eleven till about two; walked till about four; dined at five, partaking freely, but far from immoderately, of various wines ; and then, as soon as the ladies withdrew, taking to cigars and hot whisky-toddy ; went to the drawingroom soon, where he inspired everybody with his passion for Scotch music, and, if anxiously asked, never refused to recite any old ballad or tell any old tale. The house was asleep by eleven. When fitted up for dinner, he was like any other comfortably ill-dressed gentleman. But in the morning, with the large coarse jacket, great stick, and leathern cap, he was Dandy Dinmont, or Dick Hattrick—a smuggler or a poacher. Would that his money and his care had' been given to a better subject than Abbotsford.

I was much amused by his account of an early anticipation of Cranstoun’s professional success. Within a few weeks after he, Scott, and William Erskine had put on the gown, being in Selkirkshire, they were all invited to dinner by an-old drunken Selkirk writer, who had—what was worth three young advocates’ attention—a great deal of bad business. Cranstoun, who was never any thing at a debauch, was driven off the field, with a squeamish stomach and a woful countenance, shamefully early.

Erskine, always ambitions, adhered to the bowl somewhat longer; but Scott who, as he told us, "was at home with the hills and the whisky punch,” not only triumphed over these two, but very nearly over the landlord. As they were mounting their horses to ride home, the entertainer let the other two go without speaking to them; but he embraced Scott, assuring him that he would rise high, "And I’ll tell ye what, Maister Walter—that lad Cranstoun may get to the tap o’ the bar if he can; but tak ma word for’t—it’s no be by drinking.”

A deep sensation of horror was excited at the end of the year by the exposure of what are called u The West-Port Murders.” It was only for a single murder that Burke and Macdougal were tried; but it was nearly certain that, within a year or two, Burke and Hare had murdered about sixteen people, for the sale of their bodies to anatomists; and after his conviction Burke confessed this. Mon-creiff and I were drawn into the case by the junior counsel. The evidence against Burke was far too clear to be shaken by even Moncreiff’s energy and talent; but the woman, who had been assigned to my care, escaped, because there were some material doubts in her favor.0 We carried two important points, after a battle with the Court, which would probably have been decided otherwise, if the leaning of their lordships had been feebly resisted. These were— our right to have each murder tried separately, and to impeach the credit of the accomplices by questioning them about their accession to other murders or crimes. No case ever struck the public heart or imagination with greater horror. And no wonder. For the regular demand for anatomical subjects, and the high prices given, held out a constant premium to murder; and when it was shewn to what danger this exposed the unprotected, every one felt himself living in the midst of persons to whom murder was a trade. All our anatomists incurred a most unjust, and a very alarming, though not an unnatural odium  Dr. Knox in particular, against whom not only the anger of the populace, but the condemnation of more intelligent persons, was specially directed. But tried in reference to the invariable, and the necessary practice of the profession, our anatomists hag!”—“the gudgeons swallow it!” and I suppose that a credulous quaker, whose work (on the principles of morality) was reviewed in that article, believes this, and, as I understand, comments upon it as a piece of professional fraud. It is utterly untrue. No one could be more honestly convinced of any thing than I was, and am, that there was not sufficient legal evidence to warrant a conviction of Helen Macdougal. Therefore, no such expressions or sentiment could be uttered. At any rate none such, and none of that tendency, were uttered.

Except that he murdered, Burke was a sensible, and what might be called a respectable, man ; not at all ferocious in his general manner, sober, correct in all his other habits, and kind to his relations. Though not regularly married, Helen Macdougal was his wife; and when the jury came in with the verdict convicting him, but acquitting her, his remark was—u Well! thank God you’re safe!”

In March 1829 we had a magnificent meeting in the Assembly Boom to assist Wellington and Peel, in their tardy and now awkward Emancipation necessity, by a petition in favor of the Catholics. A shilling a head was taken at the door, and about 1700 shillings were got. As from the confusion several passed untaxed, there must have been about 2000 present; and there were at the least double that number outside, who could not get in. It was a union of both the ordinary political parties. Sir William Arbuthnot, a strong Tory, and who had been Provost when George the Fourth was here^ was in the chair. The speakers were Moncreiff, Dr.Maclagan, Jeffrey, Murray, tlie Solicitor-General (Hope), Chalmers, and myself. No meeting could be more successful*, and the combination of persons in general so repugnant, gave it great weight over the country. It must have suggested a striking contrast to those who remembered that it was in this very city that, only about forty years ago, the law had not strength to save the houses and chapels of the Catholics from popular conflagration. There were, as there still are, some who, if they could have done it, would have thought the repetition of that violence a duty; and there were many even at this meeting who had no better reason for their support of emancipation than that it implied the support of ministry. Those, whose religious horror of Catholicism made them think the application of the principles of civil toleration to that faith a sin, did not appear; but procured signatures to an opposite petition by harangues and placards borrowed from Lord George Gordon. The petitions exhibited a striking proof of the strong Anti-Popish taste of the people of Scotland. The one in favor of toleration, notwithstanding every fair exertion, was only signed by about 8000 persons ; while the one to the Commons against it was signed by about 13,000, and the one to the Lords (which lay a little longer for signature) by about 18,000. The 8000 were a higher and more varied class than ever concurred in any political measure in Edinburgh.

Government had for some years been lopping our two Scotch Revenue Boards of Customs and Excise, and preparing for their final eradication; and all being ready, in 1829 the last vestige of them was obliterated. This was the first of a series of reductions, some of which more reasonable men than Malagrowther lament as hurtful and degrading to Scotland. No doubt, in point of respectability, we were much the better of all our ancient establishments—had there been any decent pretence of their still being of use. But simple uselessness was not their only defect. Very useful for corruption, they were systematically employed for that purpose. Considering how far beyond the successful applicant the influence of patronage reaches, the offices in these two Boards alone, skilfully distributed among our few freeholders, were sufficient to purchase a shamefully large extent of servility. Their being abolished notwithstanding this quality, was the strongest possible proof of their indefensibleness; and the preference of economy to such power of corruption was the true merit of Government.

The death of David Cathcart, Lord Alloway, in 1829, made two important changes in the local leaders of the Whig party, by the promotion of Moncreiff and Jeffrey.

Alloway was an excellent and most useful man; kind in private life, and honest in the discharge of his public duties. Without learning or talent, and awkward in expressing himself either orally or in writing, he was a good practical lawyer, and remarkably knowing in the management of the common business of life; and having more sense and modesty than to aim at objects he could not reach, experience and industry gave him no competitor within this not very high, but most useful, range. He was one of the many examples indeed of the moderate degree in which ability, learning, or accomplishments are necessary in the composition of a good practical puisne judge. Devotion to duty, zeal to be and to do right, blandness, industry, and practical skill made his want of the higher qualities of talent and general knowledge perfectly immaterial, and indeed scarcely observed. He was deeply involved in all the affairs of the Whig party during his whole life, till he became a judge; after this, his sole object was to justify his appointment.

Moncreiff succeeded Alloway, and Jeffrey became Dean of Faculty instead of Moncreiff. This was not the first time that Peel had raised one of his opponents to the bench. No doubt Cranstoun, Fullerton, and Moncreiff could not have been passed over without flagrant injustice, and an obvious sacrifice of the public interest. But these considerations are not always conclusive on such occasions; and at any rate it is the highest praise of a minister that he prefers justice and the public to his party. There is no other person whose government of Scotland can be expounded by so honourable a fact as these four promotions. The advancement of Moncreiff and Jeffrey—the Preses of the Pantheon meeting, and the Editor of the Edinburgh Review—made those whose memories went back a few years feel as if they had got into a new world. Jeffrey expressed a wish that I should second his nomination as Dean; which I did. What a crowd of recollections and feelings did that scene awaken! In deference to others who might think that the Dean of Faculty should not conduct a party publication, he gracefully gave up the editorship of the Review, the ninety-eighth number of which was his last.

The Arts suffered their severest loss, in the summer of 1829, in the death of my friend Hugh Williams; by far the most beautiful painter in water colours that Scotland has yet produced. But, warm-hearted and honourable, of singular modesty, and almost feminine gentleness, our affection for the man exceeded even our admiration of the artist.

The heroic and gentle cheerfulness with which he endured several months of pain and weakness, under a certainly fatal disease, was a striking example of the power of a brave and gay spirit over the greatest bodily suffering. Speaking to me, within three days of his death, of the coming event, he lamented his separation from his living friends, but said it would be temporary, "and in the mean while, I shall see Gordon." Delighted with the splendid prospects of art which he thought he saw opening to Scotland, he urged me, nearly to the very last, never to relax till I had completed the reformation of the Academy, which was then in progress ; and which was effected shortly after his death.

The formation of the "Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture,” lately completed, was one of the most important occurrences in the progress of Scotland. There is an advanced state of art at which probably all artificial associations of artists are useless, if not hurtful. But in an infant stage, during which the public taste requires to be excited and educated, and artists need importance and protection by formal brotherhood, such unions are nearly indispensable. The only thing of the kind that existed in this country was the "Institution for the encouragement of the Fine Arts,” which had done little good. It excluded all artists from its management, without substituting more reasonable men in their room ; and this produced jealousies and dissensions ; which induced the artists to swarm off, and begin the Academy.

When it was first formed it consisted merely of the artists who were particularly displeased with the Institution for the Promotion of the Fine Arts; the majority, and the best, of their brethren still adhering to that body. After about two years’ more experience of the system of management in the Institution, it was found by the adherents that there could be no cordial union between them and it, and not even a comfortable endurance of each other. Each, as usual, blamed the other; and I, who know the whole facts, think that though there was unreasonableness on both sides, the artists had the least of it. It was plain however that they must part; but the original members of the academy objected to be swamped by a gush of so many acceders all at once. This for a while threatened to be insuperable; till the one party referred it all to the Solicitor-General (Hope), and the other party to me; and we married them in a week. This left the Institution without an artist, and united all the considerable ones, to the number of forty-two, in the Scottish Academy,*

The new building at the north end of the Mound was opened in 1826, under the title of "The Royal Institution.” The building, though pleasing, is not what it ought to have been. It should have been set on a higher table. But this was not allowed; and thus which, if not distracted by the jealousies of the profession itself, may render Scotland as illustrious in art as in other walks of genius.

Amidst many of the improvements under which Edinburgh was still growing in beauty, there was a scheme by my country neighbour Alexander Trotter of Dreghom, to which there was only one objection —that it was too magnificent for execution. Its object was to join the New Town to the Old, worthily. And this was to be done by sinking the upper end of the Mound to the level of Princes Street; and, avoiding Bank Street, to carry that end of the Mound eastward along the north of the Bank of Scotland, and then south to the High Street, by an opening right upon St. Giles’ Cathedral. He illustrated the general effect, and all the details, in captivating views, and working plans; and combined, as it was to be, with much subordinate decoration, it would have been a very handsome terrace. But we have no Pericles. The next best project—the object being to get from the one town to the other controlled, the architect, William Playfair, did all that taste and the funds admitted of. Strictly, it ought to have been named after the old historical Board of Trustees for the improvement of manufactures; because it was by their money, and for their accommodation chiefly, that it was made; and “The Trustees' Hall" had been the title, ever since the Union, of the place in the old town where they had met.

In January 1830, Sir Samuel Shepherd resigned his Chief-Baronship; and James Abercromby, to his amazement, was sent for by the Duke of Wellington, and offered the place; which, after great hesitation, he accepted. Nobody could dream of making judicial work out of our Exchequer sufficient to give occupation even to a single judge; and therefore all the good that Abercromby’s friends look for is the pleasure of his society. Publicly he is thrown away here. Soon after this the Lord Advocate explained to Parliament the measures which Government had extracted out of the report of the last Committee on the Scotch Courts. They all resolved into economy; and their result was to be a saving of about £23,000 yearly by the abolition of nineteen offices, including the Lord Chief Commissioner and the two jury judges—that Court ceasing ; two judges of the Court of Session; two Barons; the Judge Admiral; the four Consistorial judges; the Justice-General (at least his salary); and two Clerks •• of Session. Vigorous pruning; resorted to by Government from mere economy ; and submitted to by our judges, undoubtedly, in order to strengthen the claim for a rise of salary. But it was all right in itself; though if it had been suggested by any one a few years ago, he would have been treated as a lunatic or a rebel.

George the Fourth died in summer. The first important public occurrence in Edinburgh under his successor was a meeting (20th August 1830) of congratulation to the French on their revolution of u The Three Days,” which drove Charles the Tenth from his throne, and confirmed the principles of their constitutional charter. Whatever was afterwards thought of this successful outbreak, no similar event was ever so generally hailed in this country. Many even of the most sensitive Tories found it impossible to withhold their cheer from an act of popular resistance that was just, gallant, as bloodless as was possible, and completely effective. Their fright at the former revolution revived, and they were grateful to the Parisians for not repeating its horrors. The requisition for our meeting contained about a hundred names, of which about twenty were those of persons to whom not merely revolutions, but popular assemblies, were abhorrent. Even Sir Walter Scott said to John Richardson, u Confound these French Ministers! I can’t forgive them for making a Jacobin of an old Tory like me.” And the Lord Provost was so far seduced from the usual habit of his place and his party as to preside though it was known that Joseph Hume was to be present. Similar assemblages took place over all the country—assemblages, in Scotland, where a .revolution, which had just dethroned a monarch, was applauded, openly, and with no opposition or disapprobation ! Who could fail to see the indication of our own state which this fact implied?

On the 8th of October there was another public meeting about slaves. The Lord Provost was again in the chair. Jeffrey made a speech and moved certain resolutions. The Eev. Df. Andrew Thomson, very imprudently, opposed them, because they pointed at gradual, and not at immediate, emancipation. This produced an unexpected and awkward discussion, in the course of which a decent looking man, who agreed with Thomson, said u Fiat justitia, ruat coelum,” On this the chairman, anxious perhaps to repair the error of presiding at the “Three Days” meeting, started up and declared—“ as Provost of this city I cannot sit and hear such sentiments.” He then walked off; and nobody having sense to take the chair, the meeting broke up in disorder ; being the first accident of the kind in Edinburgh. On the 19th Thomson and his friends met again, and after a powerful speech from him, carried everything their own way. And after all, the whole difference was verbal; for immediate, as explained, meant only with all practicable speed, which was exactly what the cautious meant by gradual.

This autumn wrote an article on the Parliamentary Eepresentation of Scotland.* This was preparatory to a renewal of the subject in Parliament. I certainly did not imagine that we were within a few weeks of a great change. But innumerable and conclusive circumstances shewed that the public mind was advancing rapidly towards some important result. It was the certainty that, in reference to the state of public feeling, the discussion was well-timed that induced me to revive it.

And now the year 1830 is just closing in the *Edinburgh Review No. 103, art. 10.—Oct. 1830.

Midst of events which will perhaps affect all the future course of my life, and will certainly he deeply marked in the page of history. In the beginning of December, the Whigs came into power; avowedly on the great principle, and for the great object, of Parliamentary Reform. Their return has as yet been hailed with very general joy. The Tories, seem struck by a thunderbolt. They can ascribe what is going on to no political trick, court intrigue, or temporary accident; but reflect with alarm, that this is the third time within these two years that Whiggism has been recognised in the cabinet; and that its triumph now is the natural result of deep-seated causes.

I close this page by saying that Jeffrey has been made Lord Advocate, and I Solicitor-General, under the ministry of Earl Grey. We have come upon the public stage in a splendid, but perilous scene. I trust that we shall do our duty. If we do, we cannot fail to do some good to Scotland. In the abuses of our representative and municipal systems alone, our predecessors have left us fields in which patriotism may exhaust itself.


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