Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle of Inveresk
Chapter VII - 1753-1756 AGE, 31-34

IT was this year [1753] that the 1st Regiment of dragoons lay at Musselburgh, with some of the officers of which I was very intimate, particularly with Charles Lyon, the surgeon, who was a very sensible, handsome, and agreeable young man. He afterwards became an officer, and rose to the rank of a lieutenant-general. He was at York when Captain Burton and Wind fought a duel, in which the first was run through the lungs, and recovered. Lyon wrote to me twice a week, as I had a great regard for Burton, and had foretold the duel. He was afterwards well known by the name of General Philipson. The celebrated Major Johnstone, so much admired for his beauty and for his many duels, was of this regiment, and one of the best-natured men in the intercourse of friends that ever I met with. George ii. had put a cross at his name on his behaving very insolently at one of the theatres to a country gentleman, and afterwards wounding him in a duel. In George III.'s time John Home got the star taken off, and he was promoted. He was of the family of Hilton, which is descended from that of Westerhall; and Hew Bannatine had been his travelling tutor when abroad.

The parish of Inveresk this year lost a very agreeable member ; for the estate of Carberry being sold to a Mr. Fullerton, who came to live at it, Lord Elchies left the place and went to Inch, where he died soon after. His place was in some respects filled by his son, Mr. John Grant, afterwards Baron Grant, [Eldest son of Patrick Grant, Lord Elchies. See p. 220.] who bought Castle Steads. Mr. Grant was a good worthy man of considerable parts, but of a weak, whimsical mind. He was at this time chief commissioner for the Duke of Buccleuch, and much improved the family gallery in the church, where he attended regularly. He married Miss Fletcher, the eldest daughter of Lord Milton, who received the marriage company at Carberry. I was frequently asked to dine while she stayed there, and by that means became well acquainted with the Fletchers, whom I had not visited before, for their house was not in my parish, and I was not forward in pushing myself into acquaintance elsewhere without some proper introduction. From this period I became intimate with that family, of which Lord Milton himself and his youngest daughter Betty, afterwards Mrs. Wedderburn of Gosford, were my much valued friends. Lord Milton was nephew of the famous patriot, Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, and the successor to his estate. He had been Lord Justice-Clerk and political manager of this country under Lord Islay; and now that his lordship had been Duke of Argyle since 1744, when his brother John died, their influence was completely established. The Duke had early made choice of Fletcher for his coadjutor, and had proved his sagacity by making so good a choice; ["I have heard Sir Hugh Paterson say, who knew Saltoun well, that he early predicted his nephew would turn out a corrupt fellow, and a perfect courtier. Saltoun, however, hated all kings and Ministers of State."—Ramsay's Scotland and Scotsmen.] for Lord Milton was a man of great ability in business, a man of good sense, and of excellent talents for managing men; and though his conversation was on a limited scale, because his knowledge was very much so, yet being possessed of indefeasible power at that time in Scotland, and keeping an excellent table, his defects were overlooked, and he was held to be as agreeable as he was able. [Lord Milton built Milton I-louse in the Canongate, Edinburgh, which he occupied till his death in 1766. He had the walls finely decorated with landscapes by an Italian artist.]

His talents had been illustrated by the incapacity of the Tweeddale Ministry, who were in power during the Rebellion, and who had been obliged to resort to Milton for intelligence and advice. When the Rebellion was suppressed, and the Duke of Argyle brought again into power, he and Fletcher very wisely gained the hearts of the Jacobites, who were still very numerous, by adopting the most lenient measures, and taking the distressed families under their protection, while the Squadrone party continued as violent against them as ever. This made them almost universally successful in the parliamentary election which followed the Rebellion, and established their power till the death of the Duke, which happened in 1761.

His [Lord Milton's] youngest daughter, afterwards Mrs. Wedderburn, was one of the first females in point of understanding as well as heart that ever fell in my way to be intimately acquainted with. As there was much weakness and intrigue in the mother and some other branches of the family, she had a difficult part to act, but she performed it with much address ; for while she preserved her father's predilection and confidence, she remained well with the rest of the family. The eldest brother, Andrew, lived for most part with the Duke of Argyle, at London, as his private secretary, and was M.P. for East Lothian ; and though not a man who produced himself in public life, was sufficiently knowing and accomplished to be a very amiable member of society. After the death of the Duke of Argyle in 1761, and of his father in 1767, he lived for most part at his seat at Saltoun, in East Lothian. He was succeeded as member of Parliament for that county by Sir George Suttie, who had been a lieutenant-colonel in the army, and who, with many others, left the service in disgust with the Duke of Cumberland, who, though he had always been beat in Flanders, had disobliged sundry officers of good promise. This Sir George, however, was much overrated. He was held to be a great officer, because he had a way of thinking of his own, and had learned from his kinsman, Marshal Stair, to draw the plan of a campaign. He was held to be a great patriot, because he wore a coarse coat and unpowdered hair, while he was looking for a post with the utmost anxiety. He was reckoned a man of much sense because he said so himself, and had such an embarrassed stuttering elocution that one was not sure but it was true. He was understood to be a great improver of land, because he was always talking of farming, and had invented a cheap method of fencing his fields by combining a low stone wall and a hedge together, which, on experiment, did not answer. For all those qualities he got credit for some time ; but nobody ever mentioned the real strength of his character, which was that of an uncommonly kind and indulgent brother to a large family of brothers and sisters, whom he allowed, during his absence in a five years' war, to dilapidate his estate, and leave him less than half his income. Lord Stair had been caught by the boldness of his cousin in attempting to make the plan of a campaign, which had given the young man a false measure of his own ability.

For two summers, about this time, I went for some weeks to Dunse Well, which was in high vogue at this period, when I was often at Polwarth Manse, the dwelling of Mr. and Mrs. Home, the last of whom was aunt of Mary Roddam, the young lady whom I afterwards married, and who had lived there since the death of her father and mother in the years 1744 and 1745. John Home passed half his time in this house, Mr. William Home, a brother of the Laird of Bassendean, being his cousin, and Mrs. Home (Mary Rod-dam) a superior woman. By frequenting this house I was introduced to the Earl of Marchmont, whose seat was hard by. His second lady, who was young and handsome, but a simple and quiet woman, and three daughters he had by his former lady, were all under due subjection, for his lordship kept a high command at home. The daughters were all clever, particularly Lady Margaret, and stood less in awe than the Countess, who, had it not been for her only child, Lord Polwarth, then an infant, would have led but an uncomfortable life. ["Lord Marchmont has had the most extraordinary adventure in the world. About three weeks ago he was at the play when he espied in one of the boxes a fair virgin, whose looks, airs and manners, had such a powerful and undisguised effect on him as was visible by every bystander. . . . He soon was told that her name was Crompton, a linen draper's daughter, that had been bankrupt last year and had not been able to pay above five shillings in the pound. The fair nymph herself was about sixteen or seventeen, and, being supported by some relations, appeared in every public place, and had fatigued every eye but that of his Lordship, which being entirely employed in severer studies, had never till that fatal moment opened upon her charms. . . . He wrote next morning to her father desiring to visit his daughter on honourable terms; and in a few days she will be the Countess of Marchmont."—David Hume to Oswald of Dunnikier in Oswald's Correspondence.] The family of Marchmont—which rose to the peerage at the Revolution, and to the ascendant in the country, through the weakness and Jacobitism of the more ancient Earls of Home, from whom they were descended—to preserve their superiority, paid great court to the county, and particularly to the clergy, because they were the only stanch friends to Government. Marchmont was lively and eloquent in conversation, with a tincture of classical learning, and some knowledge of the constitution, especially of the forms of the House of Peers; but his wit appeared to me to be petulant, and his understanding shallow. His twin-brother, Hume Campbell, [Alexander Hume Campbell, M.P. for Berwickshire from 1734 till his death, was, in 1756, appointed Lord Clerk Register for life. He died in 1760.] then Lord-Register for Scotland, and one of the most eloquent lawyers in the House of Commons, seemed to me to be a man of sounder judgment than his brother ; his want of manhood, however, had been disclosed by his receiving an insult from William Pitt, the father, which he had probably been tempted to inflict on his having heard what had happened to him in Edinburgh in his youthful days.

In one of the summers in which I was in that part of the country, the Lord-Register gave a ball and supper in the town-hall of Greenlaw, which I mention because I had there an opportunity of conversing with Lady Murray and her friend Lady Hervey, who was understood to be one of the most accomplished and witty ladies in England. There were in this neighbourhood several very agreeable clergymen : Chatto was very acute and sensible—Ridpath judicious and learned—Dickson an able ecclesiastic, and master of agriculture.

In one of those years it was, when Dunse Well was most frequented, that the Marchmont family for several weeks attended, and came to Dunse, and breakfasted at a small tavern by the bowling-green. We generally sat down twenty-four or twenty-five to breakfast in a very small room. Marchmont and his brother behaved with great courtesy, seldom sitting down, but aiding the servants. Francis Garden [Lord Gardenstone.] was there, and increased the mirth of the company. Most of the company remained all the forenoon at the bowling-green, where we had very agreeable parties.

It was also in one of those years that Smollett visited Scotland for the first time, after having left Glasgow immediately after his education was finished, and his engaging as a surgeon's mate on board a man-of-war, which gave him an opportunity of witnessing the siege of Carthagena, which he has so minutely described in his Roderick Random. He came out to Musselburgh and passed a day and a night with me, and went to church and heard me preach. I introduced him to Cardonnel the Commissioner, with whom he supped, and they were much pleased with each other. Smollett has reversed this in his Humphrey Clinker, where he makes the Commissioner his old acquaintance. [But on naming the far more distinguished men seen by him in the "hotbead of genius," Bramble says, "These acquaintances I owe to the friendship of Dr. Carlyle, who wants nothing but inclination to figure with the rest on paper."—J. H. B.] He went next to Glasgow and that neighbourhood to visit his friends, and returned again to Edinburgh in October, when I had frequent meetings with him—one in particular, in a tavern, where there supped with him Commissioner Cardonnel, Mr. Hepburn of Keith, John Home, and one or two more. Hepburn was so much pleased with Cardonnel, that he said that if he went into rebellion again, it should be for the grandson of the Duke of Monmouth. Cardonnel and I went with Smollett to Sir David Kinloch's, and passed the day, when John Home and Logan and I conducted him to Dunbar, where we stayed together all night.

Smollett was a man of very agreeable conversation and of much genuine humour; and, though not a profound scholar, possessed a philosophical mind, and was capable of making the soundest observations on human life, and of discerning the excellence or seeing the ridicule of every character he met with. Fielding only excelled him in giving a dramatic story to his novels, but, in my opinion, was inferior to him in the true comic vein. He was one of the many very pleasant men with whom it was my good fortune to be intimately acquainted. Mr. Cardonnel, whom I have mentioned, was another who excelled, like Smollett, in a great variety of pleasant stories. Sir Hew Dalrymple, [Second baronet of North Berwick and grandson of Sir Hew, Lord President of the Court of Session. He was M.P. for Haddingtonshire and King's Remembrancer for Scotland.] North Berwick, had as much conversation and wit as any man of his time, having been long an M.P. David Hume and Dr. John Jardine were likewise both admirable, and had the peculiar talent of rallying their companions on their good qualities. Dr. William Wight and Thomas Hepburn were also remarkable—the one for brilliancy, vivacity, and smartness; the other for the shrewdness of his remarks and irresistible repartees. The Right Honourable Charles Townshend and Patrick Lord Elibank were likewise admirable ; for though the first was inferior in knowledge to the second, yet he had such flowing eloquence, so fine a voice, and such richness of expression, joined to brilliant wit and a fine vein of mimicry, as made him shine in every company. Eli-bank was more enlightened and more profound, and had a mind that embraced the greatest variety of topics, and produced the most original remarks. He was rather a humorist than a man of humour; but that bias of his temper led him to defend paradoxes and uncommon opinions with a copiousness and ingenuity that was surprising. He had been a lieutenant-colonel in the army, and was at the siege of Carthagena, of which he left an elegant and Xenophon-like account (which I'm afraid is lost). He was a Jacobite, and a member of the famous Cocoa-tree Club, [The "Cocoa-tree" chocolate house famous in the reign of Queen Anne at the headquarters of the Tory party. It was removed from Pall Mall to St. James's Street, where in Walpole's time it was the rendezvous of the Jacobites and acquired a reputation for the high play carried on under its roof.] and resigned his commission on some disgust. Soon after the Rebellion of 1745 he took up his residence in Scotland, and his seat being between Dr. Robertson's church and John Home's, he became intimately acquainted with them, who cured him of his contempt for the Presbyterian clergy, made him change or soften down many of his original opinions, and prepared him for becoming a most agreeable member of the Literary Society of Edinburgh, among whom he lived during the remainder of his life admiring and admired. We used to say of Elibank, that were we to plead for our lives, he was the man with whom we would wish to converse for at least one whole day before we made our defence.

Dr. M'Cormick, who died Principal of St. Andrews, was rather a merry-andrew than a wit; but he left as many good sayings behind him, which are remembered, as any man of his time. Andrew Gray, [See page 211.] minister of Abernethy, was a man of wit and humour, which had the greater effect that his person was diminutive, and his voice of the smallest treble.

Lindsay was a hussar in raillery, who had no mercy, and whose object was to display himself and to humble the man he played on. Monteath was more than his match, for he lay by, and took his opportunity of giving him such southboards as silenced him for the whole evening. [Lindsay was minister of the parish of Kirkliston, and Monteath of the parish of Longformacus.—J. H. B.] Happily for conversation, this horse-play raillery has been left off for more than thirty years among the clergy and other liberals. Drummore—of the class of lawyers who got the epithet of Monk from Quin, at Bath, on account of his pleasing countenance and bland manners—was a first-rate at the science of defence in raillery : he was too good-natured to attack. He had the knack, not only of pleasing fools with themselves, but of making them tolerable to the company. There were two men, however, whose coming into a convivial company pleased more than anybody I ever knew: the one was Dr. George Kay, a minister of Edinburgh, who, to a charming vivacity when he was in good spirits, added the talent of ballad-singing better than anybody ever I knew; the other was John Home.

I should not omit Lord Cullen here, though he was much my junior, who in his youth possessed the talent of mimicry beyond all mankind; for his was not merely an exact imitation of voice and manner of speaking, but a perfect exhibition of every man's manner of thinking on every subject. I shall mention two or three instances, lest his wonderful powers should fall into oblivion.

When the Honourable James Stuart Wortley lived with Dr. Robertson, the Doctor had sometimes, though rarely, to remonstrate and admonish the young gentleman on some parts of his conduct. He came into the room between ten and eleven in the morning, when Mr. Stuart was still in bed, with the windows shut and the curtains drawn close, when he took the opportunity, in his mild and rational manner (for he could not chide), to give him a lecture on the manner of life he was leading. When he was done, "This is rather too much, my dear Doctor," said James; "for you told me all this not above an hour ago." The case was, that Cullen had been beforehand with the Doctor, and seizing the opportunity, read his friend such a lecture as he thought the Doctor might probably do that morning. It was so very like in thought and in words, that Stuart took it for a visitation from the Doctor.

I was witness to another exhibition similar to this. It was one day in the General Assembly 1765, when there happened to be a student of physic who was seized with a convulsion fit, which occasioned much commotion in the house, and drew a score of other English students around him. When the Assembly adjourned, about a dozen of us went to dine in the Poker club-room at Nicholson's, when Dr. Robertson came and told us he must dine with the Commissioner, but would join us soon. Immediately after we dined, somebody wished to hear from Cullen what Robertson would say about the incident that had taken place, which he did immediately, lest the Principal should come in. He had hardly finished when he arrived. After the company had drank his health, Jardine said slyly, "Principal, was it not a strange accident that happened to-day in the Assembly?" Robertson's answer was exactly in the strain, and almost in the very words, of Cullen. This raised a very loud laugh in the company, when the Doctor, more ruffled than I ever almost saw him, said, with a severe look at Cullen, "I perceive somebody has been ploughing with my heifer before I came in."

On another occasion he was asked to exhibit, when he answered that his subjects were so much hackneyed that he could not go over them with spirit ; but if any of them would mention a new subject, he would try to please them. One of the company mentioned the wild beast in the Gevaudan, when, after laying his head on the table, not for more than two or three minutes, he lifted himself up and said, "Now I have it," and immediately gave us the thoughts of the Judges Auchinleck, Karnes, and Nonboddo, and Dr. Robertson, with a characteristical exactness of sentiment, as well as words, tone, and manner, as astonished the company. This happened at Dr. Blair's, who then lived in James's Square. [The sanguinary feats attributed to "the great beast of the Gevaudan" excited all Europe in 1764, and there was much astonishment when, being at last killed, it was found to be only a large wolf. Horace Walpole saw its carcass in the Queen's antechamber at Versailles.—J. H. B.]

This was a very pleasing but dangerous talent, for it led to dissipation. When he had left off his usual mode of exhibition when called upon, yet he could not restrain himself from displaying in his common conversation, in which he intermingled specimens of his superlative art as the characters came in his way, which to me was much more agreeable than the professed exhibition. As he was more knowing and accomplished than almost any judge in his time, had all other qualities been of a piece, his company would very long have been courted. In giving some account of those very pleasant characters which it was my good fortune to know, I have anticipated several years; for Mr. Robert Cullen, for instance, did not begin to be known till after 176o. But I shall now return to my narrative.

It was in the General Assembly 1753, as I have before mentioned, that Dr. Webster being Moderator, he put an end to the ancient mode of calling up Principals, and Professors, and Judges, etc., to give their opinion on cases which came before the Assembly, by declaring that he would call upon no person, but would expect that every member should freely deliver his opinion when he had any to offer. This brought on the junior members, and much animated and improved the debates. The old gentlemen at first were sulky and held their tongues, but in two or three days they found them again, lest they should lose their ascendant. I never afterwards saw the practice revived of calling upon members to speak, except once or twice when Principal Tullidelph attended, whom everybody wished to hear, but who would not rise without having that piece of respect paid to him.

At this Assembly it was that an attempt was made to have Gillespie, the deposed minister, restored ; but as he had not taken the proper steps to conciliate the Church, but, on the contrary, had continued to preach, and had set up a separate congregation, the application by his friends was refused by a great majority, and was never repeated.

At this time David Hume was living in Edinburgh and composing his History of Great Britain. He was a man of great knowledge, and of a social and benevolent temper, and truly the best-natured man in the world. He was branded with the title of Atheist, on account of the many attacks on revealed religion ["Dr. Jardine and Hume were attached friends, and though they might argue about the necessity of revealed religion, it was always in good humour. One night Hume, having declined to be lighted down the turnpike stair from his friend's lodging, fell in the darkness. Jardine rushed for a candle, and as he lifted the bulky body of his guest slyly said, 'Davie, I have often tell't ye that ''natural lieht " is no' sufficient.' "—Graham's Men of Letters o/ the Eighteenth Century.] that are to be found in his philosophical works, and in many places of his History—the last of which are still more objectionable than the first, which a friendly critic might call only sceptical. Apropos of this, when Mr. Robert Adam, the celebrated architect, and his brother, lived in Edinburgh with their mother, an aunt of Dr. Robertson's, and a very respectable woman, she said to her son, "I shall be glad to see any of your companions to dinner, but I hope you will never bring the Atheist here to disturb my peace." But Robert soon fell on a method to reconcile her to him, for he introduced him under another name, or concealed it carefully from her. When the company parted she said to her son, "I must confess that you bring very agreeable companions about you, but the large jolly man who sat next me is the most agreeable of them all." " This as the very Atheist," said he, " mother, that you was so much afraid of." "Well," says she, "you may bring him here as much as you please, for he's the most innocent, agreeable, facetious man I ever met with." This was truly the case with him ; for though he had much learning and a fine taste, and was professedly a sceptic, though by no means an atheist, he had the greatest simplicity of mind and manners with the utmost facility and benevolence of temper of any man I ever knew. His conversation was truly irresistible, for while it was enlightened, it was naive almost to puerility.

I was one of those who never believed that David Hume's sceptical principles had laid fast hold on his mind, but thought that his books proceeded rather from affectation of superiority and pride of understanding and love of vainglory. I was confirmed in this opinion, after his death, by what the Honourable Patrick Boyle, [The Hon. Patrick Boyle, second son of John, second Earl of Glasgow, was minister of Irvine, Ayrshire.] one of his most intimate friends, told me many years ago at my house in Musselburgh, where he used to come and dine the first Sunday of every General Assembly, after his brother, Lord Glasgow, ceased to be Lord High Commissioner. When we were talking of David, Mrs. Carlyle asked Mr. Boyle if he thought David Hume was as great an unbeliever as the world took him to be? He answered, that the world judged from his books, as they had a right to do; but he thought otherwise, who had known him all his life, and mentioned the following incident: When David and he were both in London, at the period when David's mother died, Mr. Boyle, hearing of it, soon after went into his apartment—for they lodged in the same house—when he found him in the deepest affliction and in a flood of tears. After the usual topics of condolence, Mr. Boyle said to him, "My friend, you owe this uncommon grief to your having thrown off the principles of religion; for if you had not, you would have been consoled by the firm belief that the good lady, who was not only the best of mothers, but the most pious of Christians, was now completely happy in the realms of the just." To which David replied, "Though I threw out my speculations to entertain and employ the learned and metaphysical world, yet in other things I do not think so differently from the rest of mankind as you may imagine." To this my wife was a witness. This conversation took place the year after David died, when Dr. Hill, who was to preach, had gone to a room to look over his notes.

At this period, when he first lived in Edinburgh, and was writing his History of England, his circumstances were narrow, and he accepted the office of Librarian to the Faculty of Advocates, worth £40 per annum. But it was not for the salary that he accepted this employment, but that he might have easy access to the books in that celebrated library; for, to my certain knowledge, he gave every farthing of the salary to families in distress. Of a piece with this temper was his curiosity and credulity, which were without bounds, a specimen of which shall be afterwards given when I come down to Militia and the Poker. His economy was strict, as he loved independency ; and yet he was able at that time to give suppers to his friends in his small lodging in the Canongate. He took much to the company of the younger clergy, not from a wish to bring them over to his opinions, for he never attempted to overturn any man's principles, but they best understood his notions, and could furnish him with literary conversation. Robertson and John Home and Bannatine and I lived all in the country, and came only periodically to the town. Blair and Jardine both lived in it, and suppers being the only fashionable meal at that time, we dined where we best could, and by cadies assembled our friends to meet us in a tavern by nine o'clock; and a fine time it was when we could collect David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, Lord Elibank, and Drs. Blair and Jardine, on an hour's warning. I remember one night that David Hume, who, having dined abroad, came rather late to us, and directly pulled a large key from his pocket, which he laid on the table. This he said was given him by his maid Peggy (much more like a man than a woman) that she might not sit up for him, for she said when the honest fellows came in from the country, he never returned home till after one o'clock. This intimacy of the young clergy with David Hume enraged the zealots on the opposite side, who little knew how impossible it was for him, had he been willing, to shake their principles.

As I11r. Hume's circumstances improved he enlarged his mode of living, and instead of the roasted lien and minced collops, and a bottle of punch, he gave both elegant dinners and suppers, and the best claret, and, which was best of all, he furnished the entertainment with the most instructive and pleasing conversation, for he assembled whosoever were most knowing and agreeable among either the laity or clergy. This he always did, but still more unsparingly when he became what he called rich. For innocent mirth and agreeable raillery I never knew his match. Jardine, who sometimes bore hard upon him—for he had much drollery and wit, though but little learning — never could overturn his temper. Lord Elibank resembled David in his talent for collecting agreeable companions together, and had a house in town for several winters chiefly for that purpose.

David, who delighted in what the French call plaisantcrie, with the aid of Miss Nancy Ord, one of the Chief Baron's daughters, contrived and executed one that gave him very great delight. As the New Town was making its progress westward, he built a house in the south-west corner of St. Andrew Square. The street leading south to Princes Street had not yet got its name affixed, but they got a workman early one morning to paint on the corner stone of David's house "St. David's Street," where it remains to this day. [Sir Daniel Wilson in his Reminiscences of Old Edinburgh gives another version of this story—or it may be the sequel to it. David Hume's housekeeper one morning noticed "St. David Street" painted on the corner of the building in which he lived. Taking this as an insult to her master, she rushed into his room exclaiming, "What d'ye think the ne'er-do-weels hae gave and painted on oor house front?" When she had explained matters, the philosopher quietly replied, "Tut, Jenny! is that all? Many a better man than me has been called a saint."]

He was at first quite delighted with Ossian's poems, and gloried in them; but on going to London he went over to the other side, and loudly affirmed them to be inventions of Macpherson. I happened to say one day, when he was declaiming against Macpherson, that I had met with nobody of his opinion but William Caddel of Cockenzie, and President Dundas, which he took ill, and was some time of forgetting. This is one instance of what Smellie says of him, that though of the best temper in the world, yet he could be touched by opposition or rudeness. This was the only time I had ever observed David's temper change. I can call to mind an instance or two of his good-natured pleasantry. Being at Gilmerton, where David Hume was on a visit, Sir David Kinloch made him go to Athlestaneford Church, where I preached for John Home. When we met before dinner, "What did you mean," says he to me, "by treating John's congregation to-day with one of Cicero's academics? I did not think that such heathen morality would have passed in East Lothian."

On Monday, when we were assembling to breakfast, David retired to the end of the dining-room, when Sir David entered: "What are you doing there, Davy? come to your breakfast." "Take away the enemy first," says David. The baronet, thinking it was the warm fire that kept David in the lower end of the room, rung the bell for a servant to carry some of it off. It was not the fire that scared David, but a large Bible that was left on a stand at the upper end of the room, a chapter of which had been read at the family prayers the night before, that good custom not being then out of use when clergymen were in the house. Add to this John Home saying to him at the Poker Club, when everybody wondered what could have made a clerk of Sir William Forbes run away with £900—"I know that very well," says John Home to David; "for when he was taken, there was found in his pocket your Philosophical Works and Boston's Fourfold State of Man."

David Hume, during all his life, had written the most pleasing and agreeable letters to his friends. I have preserved two of these. But I lately saw two of more early date in the hands of Mr. Sandiland Dysart, W.S., to his mother, who was a friend of David's and a very accomplished woman, one of them dated in 1751, on occasion of his brother Hume of Ninewell's marriage; and the other in 1754, with a present of the first volume of his History, both of which are written in a vein of pleasantry and playfulness which nothing can exceed, and which makes me think that a collection of his letters would be a valuable present to the world, and present throughout a very pleasing picture of his mind. [They will be found in The Life and Correspondence of David Hume, by John Hill Burton.]

I have heard him say that Baron Montesquieu, when he asked him if he did not think that there would soon be a revolution in France favourable to liberty, answered, " No, for their noblesse had all become poltroons." He said that the club in Paris (Baron Holbach's) to which he belonged, were of opinion that Christianity would be abolished in Europe by the end of the eighteenth century; and that they laughed at Andrew Stuart for making a battle in favour of a future state, and called him "L'ame Immortelle."

David Hume, like Smith, had no discernment at all of characters. The only two clergymen whose interests he espoused, and for one of whom he provided, were the two silliest fellows in the Church. With every opportunity, he was ridiculously shy of asking favours, on account of preserving his independence, which always appeared to me to be a very foolish kind of pride. His friend John Home, with not more benevolence, but with no scruples from a wish of independence, for which he was not born, availed himself of his influence and provided for hundreds, and yet he never asked anything for himself.

Adam Smith, though perhaps only second to David in learning and ingenuity, was far inferior to him in conversational talents. In that of public speaking they were equal—David never tried it, and I never heard Adam but once, which was at the first meeting of the Select Society, when be opened up the design of the meeting. His voice was harsh and enunciation thick, approaching to stammering. His conversation was not colloquial, but like lecturing, in which I have been told he was not deficient, especially when he grew warm. He was the most absent man in company that I ever saw, moving his lips, and talking to himself, and smiling, in the midst of large companies. If you awaked him from his reverie and made him attend to the subject of conversation, he immediately began a harangue, and never stopped till he told you all he knew about it, with the utmost philosophical ingenuity. He knew nothing of characters, and yet was ready to draw them on the slightest invitation. But when you checked him or doubted, he retracted with the utmost ease, and contradicted all he had been saying. His journey abroad with the Duke of Buccleuch cured him in part of those foibles; but still he appeared very unfit for the intercourse of the world as a travelling tutor. But the Duke was a character, both in point of heart and understanding, to surmount all disadvantages—he could learn nothing ill from a philosopher of the utmost probity and benevolence. If he [Smith] had been more a man of address and of the world, he might perhaps have given a ply to the Duke's fine mind, which was much better when left to its own energy. Charles Townshend had chosen Smith, not for his fitness for the purpose, but for his own glory in having sent an eminent Scottish philosopher to travel with the Duke.

Smith had from the Duke a bond for a life annuity of £300, till an office of equal value was obtained for him in Britain. When the Duke got him appointed a Commissioner of the Customs in Scotland, he went out to Dalkeith with the bond in his pocket, and, offering it to the Duke, told him that he thought himself bound in honour to surrender the bond, as his Grace had now got him a place of £500. The Duke answered that Mr. Smith seemed more careful of his own honour than of his, which lie found wounded by the proposal. Thus acted that good Duke, who, being entirely void of vanity, did not value himself on splendid generosities. He had acted in much the same manner to Dr. Hallam, [Dr. Hallam became Dean of Bristol and Canon of Windsor. Ramsay of Ochtertyre tells the following story of him when as a country lad he was a candidate for a scholarshipon the Foundation at Eton. He had gained the friendship of Sir David Dalrymple (Lord Hailes ), then an upper boy, and confided to him, after passing his Latinand Greek classics, he knew nothing of Latin verse, which would entitle him to a high place if successful. Young Dalrymple "bade him throw the theme or exercise assigned over the window in a quill and he should convey him the verses ere they were wanted." Later the doorkeeper was instructed to carry a pencase to the young examinee, who exhibited the theme and was elected. Dr. Hallam confessed many years afterwards that, next to the providence of God he owed all that lie had to the philanthropy of Sir David Dalrymple.] who had been his tutor at Eton; for when Mr. Townshend proposed giving Hallam an annuity of £zoo when the Duke was taken from him, "No," says he, "it is my desire that Hallam may have as much as Smith, it being a great mortification to him that he is not to travel with me."

Though Smith had some little jealousy in his temper, he had the most unbounded benevolence. His smile of approbation was truly captivating. His affectionate temper was proved by his dutiful attendance on his mother. One instance I remember which marked his character. John Home and he, travelling down from London together [in 1776], met David Hume going to Bath for the recovery of his health. He anxiously wished them both to return with him: John agreed, but Smith excused himself on account of the state of his mother's health, whom he needs must see. Smith's fine writing is chiefly displayed in his book on Moral Sentiment, which is the pleasantest and most eloquent book on the subject. His Wealth of Nations, from which he was judged to be an inventive genius of the first order, is tedious and full of repetition. His separate essays in the second volume have the air of being occasional pamphlets, without much force or determination. On political subjects his opinions were not very sound.

Dr. Adam Ferguson was a very different kind of man. He was the son of a Highland clergyman, who was much respected, and had good connections. He had the pride and high spirit of his countrymen. He was bred at St. Andrews University, and had gone early into the world; for being a favourite of a Duchess Dowager of Athole, and bred to the Church, she had him appointed chaplain to the 42nd regiment, then commanded by Lord John Murray, her son, when he was not more than twenty-two. The Duchess had imposed a very difficult task upon him, which was to be a kind of tutor or guardian to Lord John ; that is to say, to gain his confidence and keep him in peace with his officers, which it was difficult to do. This, however, he actually accomplished, by adding all the decorum belonging to the clerical character to the manners of a gentleman; the effect of which was, that he was highly respected by all the officers, and adored by his countrymen, the common soldiers. He remained chaplain to this regiment, and went about with them, till 1755, when they went to America, on which occasion he resigned, as it did not suit his views to attend them there. He was a year or two with them in Ireland, and likewise attended them on the expedition to Brittany under General Sinclair, where his friends David Hume and Colonel Edmonstone also were. This turned his mind to the study of war, which appears in his Roman History, where many of the battles are better described than by any historian but Polybius, who was an eyewitness to so many.

He had the manners of a man of the world, and the demeanour of a high-bred gentleman, insomuch that his company was much sought after; for though he conversed with ease, it was with a dignified reserve. If he had any fault in conversation, it was of a piece with what I have said of his temper, for the elevation of his mind prompted him to such sudden transitions and dark allusions that it was not always easy to follow him, though he was a very good speaker. He had another talent, unknown to any but his intimates, which was a boundless vein of humour, which he indulged when there were none others present, and which flowed from his pen in every familiar letter he wrote. He had the faults, however, that belonged to that character, for he was apt to be jealous of his rivals, and indignant against assumed superiority. His wife used to say that it was very fortunate that I was so much in Edinburgh, as I was a great peacemaker among them. She did not perceive that her own husband was the most difficult of them all. But as they were all honourable men in the highest degree, John Home and I together kept them on very good terms: I mean by them, Smith and Ferguson and David Hume; for Robertson was very good-natured, and soon disarmed the failing of Ferguson, of whom he was afraid. With respect to taste, we held David Hume and Adam Smith inferior to the rest, for they were both prejudiced in favour of the French tragedies, and did not sufficiently appreciate Shakespeare and Milton. Their taste was a rational act, rather than the instantaneous effect of fine feeling. David Hume said Ferguson had more genius than any of them, as he had made himself so much master of a difficult science—viz., Natural Philosophy, which he had never studied but when at college — in three months, so as to be able to teach it.

The time came when those who were overawed by Ferguson repaid him for his haughtiness; for when his Roman History was published, at a period when he had lost his health, and had not been able to correct it diligently, by a certain propensity they had, unknown to themselves, acquired, to disparage everything that came from Ferguson, they did his book more hurt than they could have done by open criticism. It was provoking to hear those who were so ready to give loud praises to very shallow and imperfect English productions—to curry favour, as we supposed, with the booksellers and authors concerned—taking every opportunity to undermine the reputation of Ferguson's book. "It was not a Roman history," said they (which it did not say it was). "This delineation of the constitution of the republic is well sketched; but for the rest, it is anything but history, and then it is so incorrect that it is a perfect shame." All his other books met with the same treatment, while, at the same time, there were a few of us who could not refrain from saying that Ferguson's was the best history of Rome ; that what he had omitted was fabulous or insignificant, and what he had wrote was more profound in research into characters, and gave a more just delineation of them than any book now extant. The same thing we said of his book on Moral Philosophy, which we held to be the book that did the most honour of any to the Scotch philosophers, because it gave the most perfect picture of moral virtues, with all their irresistible attractions. His book on Civil Society ought only to be considered as a college exercise, and yet there is in it a turn of thought and a species of eloquence peculiar to Ferguson. Smith had been weak enough to accuse him of having borrowed some of his inventions without owning them. This Ferguson denied, but owned he derived many notions from a French author, and that Smith had been there before him. David Hume did not live to see Ferguson's History, otherwise his candid praise would have prevented all the subtle remarks of the jealous or resentful.

With respect to Robertson and Blair, their lives and characters have been fully laid before the public—by Professor Dugald Stewart in a long life of Robertson, where, though the picture is rather in disjointed members, yet there is hardly anything omitted that tends to make a judicious reader master of the character. Dr. Blair's character is more obvious in a short but very elegant and true account of him, drawn up by Dr. Finlayson. John Hill is writing a more diffuse account of the latter, which may not be so like. To the character of Robertson I have only to add here, that though he was truly a very great master of conversation, and in general perfectly agreeable, yet he appeared sometimes so very fond of talking, even when showing-off was out of the question, and so much addicted to the translation of other people's thoughts, that he sometimes appeared tedious to his best friends. Being on one occasion invited to dine with Patrick Robertson, his brother, I missed my friend, whom I had met there on all former occasions; "I have not invited him to-day," says Peter, "for I have a very good company, and he'll let nobody speak but himself." Once he was staying with me for a week, and I carried him to dine with our parish club, who were fully assembled to see and hear Dr. Robertson, but Dr. Finlay of Drummore took it in his head to come that day, where he had not been for a year before, who took the lead, being then rich and self-sufficient, though a great babbler, and entirely disappointed the company, and gave us all the headache. He [Robertson] was very much a master of conversation, and very desirous to lead it, and to make dissertations and raise theories that sometimes provoked the laugh against him. One instance of this was when he had gone a jaunt into England with some of Henry Dundas's (Lord Melville's) family. He [Dundas] and Mr. Baron Cockburn and Robert Sinclair were on horseback, and seeing a gallows on a neighbouring hillock, they rode round to have a nearer view of the felon on the gallows. When they met in the inn, Robertson immediately began a dissertation on the character of nations, and how much the English, like the Romans, were hardened by their cruel diversions of cock-fighting, bull-baiting, bruising, etc.; for had they not observed three Englishmen on horseback do what no Scotchman or-- Here Dundas, having compassion, interrupted him, and said, "What ! did you not know, Principal, that it was Cockburn and Sinclair and me?" [Baron Cockburn was the father of Lord Cockburn, author of Memorials of his Time.] This put an end to theories, etc., for that day. Robertson's translations and paraphrases on other people's thoughts were so beautiful and so harmless that I never saw anybody lay claim to their own; but it was not so when he forgot himself so far as to think he had been present where he had not been, and done what he had not the least hand in—one very singular instance of which I remember. Hugh Bannatine and some clergymen of Haddington Presbytery came to town in great haste, on their being threatened with having their goods distrained for payment of the window-tax. One of them called on me as he passed; but as I was abroad, he left a note (or told Mrs. C.), to come to them directly. I rode instantly to town and met them, and it was agreed on to send immediately to the solicitor, James Montgomery. A cady was despatched, but he could not be found, till I at last heard his voice as I passed the door of a neighbouring room. He came to us on being sent for, and he immediately granted the alarmed brethren a sist. Not a week after, three or four of the same clergymen, dining at the Doctor's house where I was, the business was talked of, when he said, "Was not I very fortunate in ferreting out the solicitor at Walker's, when no cady could find him?" "No, no," says I, "Principal; I had that good-luck, and you were not so much as at the meeting." We had sent to him, and he could not come. "Well, well," replied he, "I have heard so much about it that I thought I had been there." He was the best-tempered man in the world, and the young gentlemen who had lived for many years in his house declared they never saw him once ruffled. His table, which had always been hospitable, even when his income was small, became full and elegant when his situation was improved. As he loved a long repast, as he called it, he was as ready to give it at home as to receive it abroad. The softness of his temper, and his habits at the head of a party, led him to seem to promise what he was not able to perform, which weakness raised up to him some very inveterate enemies, while at the same time his true friends saw that those weaknesses were rather amiable than provoking. He was not so much beloved by women as by men, which we laughingly used to say was owing to their rivalship as talkers, but was much more owing to his having been very little in company with ladies in his youth. He was early married, though his wife (a very good one) was not his first choice, as Stewart in his Life would make us believe. Though not very complaisant to women, he was not beyond their regimen any more than Dr. George Wishart, for instances of both their frailties on that side could be quoted. 'Tis as well to mention them here. In the year '78, when Drs. Robertson and Drysdale had with much pains prepared an assembly to elect young Mr. Robertson [Son of Principal Robertson.] into the Procurator's chair, and to get Dr. Drysdale chosen Principal Clerk to the Assembly, as colleague and successor to Dr. George Wishart, it was necessary that Dr. Wishart should resign, in order to his being re-elected with Drysdale; but this, when first applied to, he positively refused to do, because he had given his word to Dr. Dick that he would give him a year's warning before he resigned. In spite of this declaration a siege was laid to the honest man by amazons. After several hearings, in which female eloquence was displayed in all its forms, and after many days, he yielded, as lie said himself, to the earnest and violent solicitations of Dr. Drysdale's family. He never after had any intercourse with that family, nor saw them more. Mr. James Lindsay told me this anecdote.

Dr. Robertson's weakness was as follows : He had engaged heartily with me, when in 1788 I stood candidate for the clerkship, Dr. Drysdale having shown evident marks of decline. In the year 1787 1 had a long evening's walk with the Procurator, when, after mentioning every candidate for that office we could think of, the Procurator at last said that nobody had such a good chance as myself. After a long discussion I yielded, and we in due form communicated this resolution to his father, who consented with all his heart, and gave us much advice and some aid. When the vacancy happened, in 1789, Robert Adam assisted his brother-in-law with all his interest, which was considerable. In the mean time the same influence was used with Dr. Robertson as had been with Dr. Wishart, in a still more formidable shape; for Mrs. Drysdale was his cousin-german, and threatened him with the eternal hate of all the family. He also yielded; and Robert Adam, when seriously pressed with a view to drop his canvass if Robertson advised to—" "No," Robertson said, "go on"; as he thought he had the best chance. Robert Adam told this to Professor Ferguson when he solicited his vote.

Robertson's conversation was not always so prudent as his conduct, one instance of which was his always asserting that any minister of state who did not take care of himself when he had an opportunity was no very wise man. This maxim shocked most young people, who thought the Doctor's standard of public virtue was not very high. This manner of talking likewise seconded a notion that prevailed that he was a very selfish man. With all those defects, his domestic society was pleasing beyond measure; for his wife, though not a woman of parts, was well suited to him, who was more fitted to lead than to be led; and his sons and daughters led so happy a life that his guests, which we were often for a week together, met with nothing but welcome, and peace, and joy. This intercourse was not much diminished by his having not put any confidence in me when he left the business of the Church, further than saying that he intended to do it. Though he knew that I was much resorted to for advice when he retired, he never talked to me on the subject, at which I was somewhat indignant. His deviations in politics lessened the freedom of our conversation, though we still continued in good habits; but ever after he left the leading in Church affairs, he appeared to me to have lost his spirits; and still more, when the magistrates resorted to Dr. Blair, instead of him, for advice about their choice of professors and ministers. I had discovered his having sacrificed me to Mrs. Drysdale, in 1789, but was long acquainted with his weaknesses, and forgave him; nor did I ever upbraid him with it but in general terms, such as that I had lost the clerkship by the keenness of my opponents and the coldness of my friends. I had such a conscious superiority over him in that affair that I did not choose to put an old friend to the trial of making his fault greater by a lame excuse.

Dr. Blair was a different kind of man from Robertson, and his character is very justly delineated by Dr. Finlayson, so far as he goes. Robertson was most sagacious, Blair was most na~f. Neither of them could be said to have either wit or humour. Of the latter Robertson had a small tincture—Blair had hardly a relish for it. Robertson had a bold and ambitious mind, and a strong desire to make himself considerable; Blair was timid and unambitious, and withheld himself from public business of every kind, and seemed to have no wish but to be admired as a preacher, particularly by the ladies. His conversation was so infantine that many people thought it impossible, at first sight, that he could be a man of sense or genius. He was as eager about a new paper to his wife's drawing-room, or his own new wig, as about a new tragedy or a new epic poem. Not long before his death I called upon him, when I found him restless and fidgety. "What is the matter with you to-day," says I, "my good friend—are you well?" "Oh yes," says he, "but I must dress myself, for the Duchess of Leinster has ordered her granddaughters not to leave Scotland without seeing me." "Go and dress yourself, Doctor, and I shall read this novel ; for I am resolved to see the Duchess of Leinster's granddaughters, for I knew their father and grandfather." This being settled, the young ladies, with their governess, arrived at one, and turned out poor little girls of twelve and thirteen, who could hardly be supposed to carry a well-turned compliment which the Doctor gave them in charge to their grandmother.

Robertson had so great a desire to shine himself, that I hardly ever saw him patiently bear anybody else's showing-off but Dr. Johnson and Garrick. Blair, on the contrary, though capable of the most profound conversation, when circumstances led to it, had not the least desire to shine, but was delighted beyond measure to show other people in their best guise to his friends. " Did not I show you the lion well to-day?" used he to say after the exhibition of a remarkable stranger. For a vain man, he was the least envious I ever knew. He had truly a pure mind, in which there was not the least malignity; for though he was of a quick and lively temper, and apt to be warm and impatient about trifles, his wife, who was a superior woman, only laughed, and his friends joined her. Though Robertson was never ruffled, he had more animosity in his nature than Blair. They were both reckoned selfish by those who envied their prosperity, but on very unequal grounds; for though Blair talked selfishly enough sometimes, yet he never failed in generous actions. In one respect they were quite alike. Having been bred at a time when the common people thought to play with cards or dice was a sin, and everybody thought it an indecorum in clergymen, they could neither of them play at golf or bowls, and far less at cards or backgammon, and on that account were very unhappy when from home in friends' houses in the country in rainy weather. As I had set the first example of playing at cards at home with unlocked doors, and so relieved the clergy from ridicule on that side, they both learned to play at whist after they were sixty. Robertson did very well—Blair never shone. He had his country quarters for two summers in my parish, where he and his wife were quite happy. We were much together. Mrs. C., who had wit and humour in a high degree, and an acuteness and extent of mind that made her fit to converse with philosophers, and indeed a great favourite with them all, gained much upon Blair; and, as Mrs. B. alleged, could make him believe whatever she pleased. They took delight in raising the wonder of the sage Doctor. "Who told you that story, my dear Doctor?" "No," says he, "don't you doubt it, for it was Mrs. C. who told me." On my laughing —"and so, so," said he, "I must hereafter make allowance for her imagination."

Blair had lain under obligation to Lord Leven's family for his first church, which he left within the year ; but though that connection was so soon dissolved, and though Blair took a side in Church politics wholly opposite to Lord Leven's, the Doctor always behaved to the family with great respect, and kept up a visiting correspondence with them all his life. Not so Robertson with the Arniston family, who had got him the church of Gladsmuir. The first President failed and died—not, however, till he had marked his approbation of Robertson—in 1753. His manner had not been pleasing to him, so that he was alienated till Harry grew up; but him he deserted also, on the change in 1782, being dazzled with the prospect of his son's having charge of ecclesiastical affairs, as his cousin John Adam was to have of political, during Rockingham's new ministry. This threw a cloud on Robertson which was never dispelled. Blair had for a year been tutor to Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat's eldest son, whose steady friendship he preserved to the last, though the General was not remarkable for that amiable weakness ; witness the saying of a common soldier whom he had often promised to make a sergeant, but never performed, "Oh! Simon, Simon, as long as you continue to live, Lord Lovat is not dead."

Five or six days before he [Blair] died, finding him well and in good spirits, I said to him, "Since you don't choose to dine abroad in this season (December), you may at least let a friend or two dine with you." "Well, well, come you and dine with me to-morrow," looking earnestly at Miss Hunter, his niece. "I am engaged to-morrow, but I can return at four to-day." He looked more earnestly at his niece. "What's to hinder him?" said she, meaning to answer his look, which said, "Have you any dinner to-day, Betty?" I returned, accordingly, at four, and never passed four hours more agreeably with him, nor had more enlightened conversation. Nay more, three days before his death he sent to John Home a part of his History, with two or three pages of criticism on that part of it that relates to Provost Drummond, in which he and I thought John egregiously wrong.

It was long before Blair's circumstances were full, yet he lived handsomely, and had literary strangers at his house, as well as many friends. A task imposed on both Robertson and Blair was reading manuscript prepared for the press, of which Blair had the greatest share of the poetry, and Robertson of the other writings, and they were both kind encouragers of young men of merit.

In John Home's younger days he had a good share of wit, much sprightliness and vivacity, so that he infused joy and a social exhilaration wherever he came. His address was cordial and benevolent, which inspired his companions with similar sentiments. Superior knowledge and learning, except in the department of poetry, he had not, but such was the charm of his fine spirits in those days, that when he left the room prematurely, which was but seldom the case, the company grew dull, and soon dissolved. As John all his life had a thorough contempt for such as neglected or disapproved of his poetry, he treated all who approved of his works with a partiality which more than approached to flattery. The effect of this temper was, that all his opinions of men and things were prejudices, which, though it did not disqualify him for writing admirable poetry, yet made him unfit for writing history or other prose works. He was in no respect a man of business, though he now and then spoke with some energy and success in the General Assembly; but he had no turn for debate, which made me glad when he was disappointed in his wish of obtaining a seat in the House of Commons, which was owing to the good sense of Sir Gilbert Elliot and Sir William Pulteney.

This has been a long digression from my narration; but having noted down one character, I thought it best to go on with a few more, lest I should forget some particulars which then occurred to me.

It was in the year 1754 that my cousin, Captain Lyon, died at London, of a high fever. His wife, Lady Catherine Brydges, had conducted herself so very loosely and ill, that it was suspected that she wished for his death; but it was a brain fever of which he died; and as his wife had sent for Dr. Monro, the physician employed about the insane, his mother, in the rage of her grief, alleged that his wife had occasioned his death. Her two children died not long after. Lady Catherine confirmed all her mother-in-law's suspicions by marrying a Mr. Stanhope, one of her many lovers. By this time a large fortune had fallen to her. She was truly a worthless woman, to my knowledge. Lyon and his children were buried in the Duke of Chandos's vault at Canons, by His Grace's order.

In this year, 1754, I remember nothing remarkable in the General Assembly. But this was the year in which the Select Society was established, which improved and gave a name to the literati of this country, then beginning to distinguish themselves. I gave an account of this institution, and a list of the members, to Dugald Stewart, which he inserted in his Life of Robertson. But that list did not contain the whole of the members; some had died before the list was printed, and some were admitted after it was printed. Of the first were Lord Dalmeny, the elder brother of the present Lord Rosebery, who was a man of letters and an amateur, and, though he did not speak himself, generally carried home six or eight of those who did to sup with him. There was also a Peter Duff, a writer to the signet, who was a shrewd, sensible fellow, and pretending to be unlearned, surprised us with his observations in strong Buchan. [Viz., with the accent peculiar to the district of Buchan, in Aberdeenshire.----J. H. B.] The Duke of Hamilton of that period, aman of letters, could he have kept himself sober, was also a member, and spoke there one night. Lord Dalmeny died in 2755. Mr. Robert Alexander, [Henry Mackenzie mentions a Mr. Alexander, a member of the Select Society, who having been much abroad modelled his suppers on those of Paris. They were frequented by all the literary and most of the fashionable persons of the time.] wine merchant, a very worthy man, but a bad speaker, entertained us all with warm suppers and excellent claret, as a recompense for the patient hearing of his ineffectual attempts, when I often thought he would have beat out his brains on account of their constipation. The conversation at those convivial meetings frequently improved the members more by free conversation than the speeches in the Society. [The Select Society owed its existence chiefly to Allan Ramsay the painter. It met first in the Advocates' Library, when the membership was confined to thirty. Later, when its "select" character was departed from and the membership increased to three hundred, interest in the Society quickly declined.] It was those meetings in particular that rubbed off all corners, as we call it, by collision, and made the literati of Edinburgh less captious and pedantic than they were elsewhere.

The Earl of Hopetoun was Commissioner of the General Assembly. The Earl of Dumfries had wished for it; but some of the ministers, thinking that it would be proper to disappoint him, by a little intrigue contrived to get the King to nominate Hopetoun, who accepted it for one year, and entertained his company in a sumptuous manner. At his table I saw the Duchess of Hamilton (Mary Gunning), [Elizabeth Gunning was Duchess of Hamilton, and afterwards Duchess of Argyle. She was the mother of two Dukes of Hamilton and two Dukes of Argyle. Mary (Maria) Gunning was Countess of Coventry.] without doubt the most beautiful woman of her time.

In the end of summer, Lady Dalkeith, the Duke of Buccleuch's mother, who had been a widow since the year 1750, came to Dalkeith, and brought with her the Honourable Mr. Stuart M'Kenzie and his lady, the Countess's sister, and remained there for two months. They had public days twice in the week, and I frequently dined there. The Countess was well-bred and agreeable; and, acting plays being the rage at the time among people of quality, she proposed to act a tragedy at Dalkeith House, viz. The Fair Penitent, in which her ladyship and Mr. M'Kenzie were to have principal parts. Mr. John Grant, advocate, then chief manager of the Duke of Buccleuch's estates, and living at Castlesteads, was to play the part of the father, and it was requested of me to assist him in preparing his part. I found him a stiff, bad reader, of affected English, which we call napping, and tolerably obstinate. But luckily for both master and scholar, the humour was soon changed, by somebody representing to her ladyship that her acting plays would give offence. Mr. M` Kenzie was very agreeable, his vanity having carried him so far above his family pride as to make him wish to please his inferiors. I was simple enough then to think that my conversation and manners had not been disagreeable to him, so that when I was at London four years after, I attempted to avail myself of his acquaintance; but it would not do, for I was chilled to death on my first approach, so that all my intimacy vanished in a few jokes, which sometimes he condescended to make when he met me on the streets, and which I received with the coldness they were entitled to.

By this time John Home had almost finished his tragedy of Douglas; for on one of the days that I was at Dalkeith House I met Sir Gilbert Elliot, who, on my telling him that I had three acts of it written in my hand, came round with me to my house in Mussel-burgh, where I read them, to his great delight. This was in July or August 1754. I do not remember whether or not he saw the two last acts at this time. I should think not; for I remember that I wrote three acts of it a good many months afterwards, to be sent up suddenly to Sir Gilbert, while a writer's clerk wrote out fair the other two acts.

In February of this year Home and I suffered severely by the death of friends. George Logan, minister of Ormiston, was seized with a brain fever, of which he died in a few days. I was sent for by his wife, and remained by his bedside from five in the afternoon till one in the morning, when he expired. He raved the whole time, except during the few minutes in which I prayed with him. I am not sure that he knew, for he soon relapsed into his ravings again, and never ceased till the great silencer came. I have given the character of his mind before (p. 244). The grief of his wife, who never could be comforted, though she lived to an advanced age, was a proof of his kind and affectionate temper. They had no children.

After my friend's death I had returned home on Sunday morning to do duty in Inveresk church, and in the evening about six, John Home, to whom I had sent an express, arrived from Polwarth. On hearing the bad news, he had almost fainted, and threw himself on the bed, and sobbed and wept. After a while I raised him, by asking if he could think of no misfortune greater than the death of Logan? He started up, and cried, "Is my brother David gone?" I had received an express from his brother George, in Leith, that afternoon, to tell me of their brother David's death on the voyage. He was John's only uterine brother alive—had been at home the autumn before—and was truly a fine-spirited promising young man. He had gone out that fall first mate of an Indianian. After another short paroxysm of grief—for his stock was almost spent before—he rose and took his supper, and, insisting on my making a good bowl of punch, we talked over the perfections of the deceased, went to bed and slept sound. In the morning he was taken up with the suit of mourning he was going to order, and for which he went to Edinburgh on purpose. I mention these circumstances to show that there are very superior minds on which the loss of friends makes very little impression. He was not likely to feel more on any future occasion than on this; for as people grow older, not only experience hardens them to such events, but, growing daily more selfish, they feel 'less for other people.

In the month of February 1755, John Home's tragedy of Douglas was completely prepared for the stage, and had received all the corrections and improvements that it needed by many excellent critics, who were Mr. Home's friends, whom I have mentioned before, and with whom he daily lived. [He accordingly set out for London, and] were I to relate all the circumstances, serious and ludicrous, which attended the outset of this journey, I am persuaded they would not be exceeded by any novelist who has wrote since the days of the inimitable Don Quixote. Six or seven Merse ministers—the half of whom had slept at the manse of Polwarth, bad as it was, the night before—set out for Woolerhaughhead in a snowy morning in February. Before we had gone far we discovered that our bard had no mode of carrying his precious treasure, which we thought enough of, but hardly foresaw that it was to be pronounced a perfect tragedy by the best judges; for when David Hume gave it that praise, he spoke only the sentiment of the whole republic of belles-lettres. The tragedy in one pocket of his greatcoat, and his clean shirt and nightcap in the other, though they balanced each other, was thought an unsafe mode of conveyance ; and our friend—who, like most of his brother poets, was unapt to foresee difficulties and provide against them—had neglected to buy a pair of leather bags as he passed through Haddington. We bethought us that possibly James Landreth, minister of Simprin, and clerk of the Synod, would be provided with such a convenience for the carriage of his Synod records; and having no wife, no atya cura, to resist our request, we unanimously turned aside half a mile to call at James's ; and, concealing our intention at first, we easily persuaded the honest man to join us in this convoy to his friend Mr. Home, and then observing the danger the manuscript might run in a greatcoat-pocket on a journey of 400 miles, we inquired if he could lend Mr. Home his valise only as far as Wooler, where he would purchase a new pair for himself. This he very cheerfully granted. But while his pony was preparing, he had another trial to go through; for Cupples, who never had any money, though he was a bachelor too, and had twice the stipend of Landreth, took the latter into another room, where the conference lasted longer than we wished for, so that we had to bawl out for them to come away. We afterwards understood that Cuppies, having only four shillings, was pressing Landreth to lend him half-a-guinea, that he might be able to defray the expense of the journey. Honest James, who knew that John Home, if he did not return his own valise, which was very improbable, would provide him in a better pair, had frankly agreed to the first request ; but as he knew Cupples never paid anything, he was very reluctant to part with his half-guinea. However, having at last agreed, we at last set out, and I think gallant troops, but so-and-so accoutred, to make an inroad on the English border. By good luck the river Tweed was not come down, and we crossed it safely at the ford near Norham Castle; and, as the day mended, we got to Woolerhaughhead by four o'clock, where we got but an indifferent dinner, for it was but a miserable house in those days; but a happier or more jocose and merry company could hardly be assembled.

John Home and I, who slept in one room, or perhaps in one bed, as was usual in those days, were disturbed by a noise in the night, which being in the next room, where Laurie and Monteith were, we found they had quarrelled and fought, and the former had pushed the latter out of bed. After having acted as mediators in this quarrel, we had sound sleep till morning. Having breakfasted as well as the house could afford, Cupples and I, who had agreed to go two days' journey further with Mr. Home, set off southwards with him, and the rest returned by the way they had come to Berwickshire again.

Mr. Home had by that time got a very fine galloway from his friend Robert Adam when he was setting out for Italy. John had called this horse Piercy, who, though only fourteen and a half hands high, was one of the best trotters ever seen, and having a good deal of blood in him, when he was well used, was indefatigable. He carried our bard for many years with much classical fame, and rose in reputation with
his master, but at last made an inglorious end. [Piercy's end.--Robert Adam, on his setting out for London to go to Italy, and some of his brothers, with John, and Commissioner Cardonnel, had dined with me one day. Cardonnel, while their horses were getting ready, insisted on our going to his garden to drink a couple of bottles of some French white wine, which he said was as good as champagne. We went with him, but when we sat down in his arbour we missed Bob Adam. We soon finished our wine, which we drank out of rummers, and returned to the manse, where we found Robert galloping round the green on Piercy like a madman, which he repeated, after seeing us, for at least ten times. Home stopped him, and had some talk with him; so the brothers at last went off quietly for Edinburgh, while Home remained to stay all night or go home. He told me what put Robert into such trim. He had been making love to my maid Jenny, who was a handsome lass, and had even gone the length of offering to carry her to London, and pension her there. All his offers were rejected, which had put him in a flurry. This happened in summer 1754. Many a time Piercy carried John to London, and once in six days. He sent him at last to Sir David Kinloch, that he might end his days in peace and ease in one of the parks of Gilmerton. Sir David tired of him in a few weeks, and sold him to an egg-carrier for twenty shillings!] I had a fine galloway too, though not more than thirteen and a half hands, which, though much slower than Piercy, easily went at the rate of fifty miles a-day, on the turnpike road, without being at all tired Cupples and I attended Home as far as Ferryhill, about six miles, where, after remaining all night with him, we parted next morning, he for London, and we on our return home. Poor Home had no better success on this occasion than before, with still greater mortification ; for Garrick, after reading the play, returned it with an opinion that it was totally unfit for the stage. On this occasion Home wrote a pathetic copy of verses, addressed to Shakespeare's image in Westminster Abbey.

Cupples and I had a diverting journey back; for as his money had failed, and I had not an overflow, we were obliged to feed our horses in Newcastle without dining, and to make the best of our way to Morpeth, where we got an excellent hot supper. Next day, staying too long in Alnwick to visit the castle, we lost our way in the night, and were in some hazard, and it was past twelve before we reached Berwick; but in those days nothing came wrong to us—youth and good spirits made us convert all maladventures into fun. The Virgin's Inn, as it was called, being at that time the best, and on the south side of the bridge, made us forget all our disasters.

It was in the time of the sitting of the General Assembly that Lord Drummore died, at the age of sixty-three. He had gone the Western Circuit; and by drying up an issue in his leg, being a corpulent man who needed such a drain, he contracted a gangrene, of which he died in a few weeks, very much regretted—more, indeed, than any man I ever knew. His having got a legacy from [Blank in MS.] the year before, and built himself a comfortable house on his small estate, where he only had a cottage before, and where he had slept only two or three nights for his illness, was a circumstance that made his family and friends feel it the more. He had been married to an advocate's daughter of Aberdeenshire, of the name of Horn, by whom a good estate came into his family. By her he had five sons and three daughters. Three of the sons in succession inherited the name and estate of Horn.

After Lord Drummore became a widower, he attached himself to a mistress, which, to do so openly as he did, was at that time reckoned a great indecorum, at least in one of his age and reverend office. This was all that could be laid to his charge, which, however, did not abate the universal concern of the city and county when he was dying. His cousin, Lord Cathcart, was Commissioner that year for the first time. His eldest son at his death was Lieutenant-General Horn Dalrymple; his second, David Dalrymple, some time afterwards Lord Westhall; his youngest, Campbell, who was distinguished afterwards in the West Indies, and was a lieutenant-colonel and Governor of Guadaloupe.

At my father's desire, who was minister of the parish where Drummore resided, I wrote a character of him, which he delivered from his pulpit the Sunday after his funeral. This was printed in the Scots Magazine for June 1755, and was commended by the publisher, and well received by the public. This was the first time I had seen my prose in print, and it gave me some confidence in my own talent.

In the year 1756 hostilities were begun between the French and British, after they had given us much provocation in America. Braddock, an officer of the Guards—very brave, though unfit for the business on which he was sent—having been defeated and slain at Fort Du Quesne (a misfortune afterwards repaired by General John Forbes), reprisals were made by the capture of French ships without a declaration of war. The French laid siege to Minorca, and Admiral Byng was sent with a fleet of thirteen ships of the line to throw in succours and raise the siege. The expectation of the country was raised very high on this occasion, and yet was disappointed.

Concerning this I remember a very singular anecdote. During the sitting of the General Assembly that year, by desire of James Lindsay, a company of seven or eight, all clergymen, supped at a punch-house in the Bow, kept by an old servant of his, who had also been with George Wishart. In that time of sanguine hopes of a complete victory, and the total defeat of the French fleet, all the company expressed their full belief that the next post would bring us great news, except John Home alone, who persisted in saying that there would be no battle at all, or, at the best, if there was a battle, it would be a drawn one. John's obstinacy provoked the company, insomuch that James Landreth, the person who had lent him the valise the year before, offered to lay a half-crown bowl of punch that the first mail from the Mediterranean would bring us news of a complete victory. John took this bet; and when he and I were walking to our lodging together, I asked what in the world had made him so positive. He answered that Byng was a man who would shun fighting if it were possible; and that his ground of knowledge was from Admiral Smith, who, a few years back, had commanded at Leith, who lodged with his friend Mr. Walter Scott, and who, when he was confined with the gout, used to have him to come and chat with him, or play at cards when he was able; and that, talking of the characters of different admirals, he had told him that Byng, though a much-admired commander and manceuvrer of a fleet, would shun fighting whenever he could. The Gazette soon cleared up to us the truth of this assertion, though the first accounts made it be believed that the French were defeated. A full confirmation of this anecdote I heard two years afterwards.

It was during this Assembly that the Carriers' Inn, in the lower end of the West Bow, got into some credit, and was called the Diversorium. Thomas Nicolson was the man's name, and his wife's Nelly Douglas. They had been servants of Lord Elliock's, and had taken up this small inn, in which there were three rooms, and a stable below for six or eight horses. Thomas was a confused, rattling, coarse fellow; Nelly was a comely woman, a person of good sense, and very worthy. Some of our companions frequented the house, and Home and I suspected it was the handsome landlady who had attracted their notice, but it was not so. Nelly was an honest woman, but she had prompted her husband to lend them two or three guineas on occasions, and did not suddenly demand repayment. Home and I followed Logan, James Craig, and William Gullen, and were pleased with the house. He and I happening to dine with Dr. Robertson at his uncle's, who lived in Pinkie House, a week before the General Assembly, some of us proposed to order Thomas Nicolson to lay in twelve dozen of the same claret, then i8s. per dozen, from Mr. Scott, wine merchant at Leith—for in his house we proposed to make our Assembly parties; for, being out of the way, we proposed to have snug parties of our own friends. This was accordingly executed, but we could not be concealed; for, as it happens in such cases, the out-of-the-way place and mean house, and the attempt to be private, made it the more frequented—and no wonder, when the company consisted of Robertson, Home, Ferguson, Jardine, and Wilkie, with the addition of David Hume and Lord Elibank, the Master of Ross, and Sir Gilbert Elliot.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus