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of his youth, that Jeffrey extended his acquaintance with the romantic scenery of his native country--and cherished and improved that love of nature, which, with him, was truly a passion, the gratification of which was, in some measure, necessary to his very existence. With their knapsacks on their backs, and their staff in their hands, these two remarkable youths traversed most of the hills and vallies of our Highland districts-not only Loch Lomond, but Loch Katrine-and all the other most romantic lochs of the western and central portions of our alpine districts were familiar to them-and so deep was the impression made on Jeffrey's mind by these excursions, that, throughout all his life, whenever he had opportunity, he hastened, even though it should be in the depth of winter, to renew the impressions of his early visits, and to imbibe from such scenery the pure and romantic feelings which Nature, in her more august and touching aspects, never wants the power of renewing, and varying, and extending, in her sincere admirers.
Their lonely walks by the loch sides, and through the secluded vallies, were cheered and enlivened by conversation on their favourite studiespoetical or intellectual-and, certainly, of all the countless multitudes of similar explorers, there have not been other two, of whose society and conversation we should have been more desirous of having been partakers. We may add, that eventually Mr Morehead and his friend were married
to two sisters.
It may not be out of place to notice, at this stage of our review, that, privately, Jeffrey had certain peculiarities, which, to those who knew him only by his public appearances, and by the obvious elasticity of both his corporeal and intellectual part, would not have seemed likely to have made part of his entire composition. He was invincibly awkward at all mechanical movements and accomplishments-an intractable dancer-an almost ridiculous rider-an ill accoutred volunteer-an impatient wigwearer and an execrable penman-he seemed to have no idea of paragraphing his compositions-even whole plays were written by him "without a separate line,”—and yet he prided himself greatly, at least in advanced life, on his proficiency as a marker of commas and colonsand half seriously said, that he considered that to be the department of literature in which he most excelled, and on which he was most willing to stake his reputation ;-so much for his awkwardness.
Then he had whims or peculiarities, which were equally unlikely to have been anticipated. He abhorred, even despised the sea-and pretended to see no beauty in it. Yet he had no fear of rain-and would submit to be thoroughly drenched without any abatement of his mental composure. Now we think most other people like the sea, but hate rain. He had, moreover, a favourite little dog, and a talkative parrot, both of whom he actually carried in the carriage with him, while traversing England in all the dignity of Lord Advocate of Scotland-the little dog being accommodated with a well lined fur basket, and the parrot with a cage of dimensions suited to the habits of such a prisoner. Moreover, he delighted to unbend his mind in the enjoyment of the simplest games which either social life, or the company of children, might suggest to him-he romped or played at bowls with as much zest
as if all his glory and honour had been connected with these achievements—and was never happier than when, lying on his back upon a sofa, he allowed his grandchildren to tear his hair, wander with their little fingers around his eyes, his nose, and his ears-and even put their tiny fists into his mouth, and withdraw them, laughing at having eluded the bite which they thought he had it in his power to have made of
But with all these awkwardnesses and whims, he had also great amiabilities. He loved quiet-was passionately fond of all his relations -thought lightly and unaffectedly of all his own efforts, whether as a speaker or a writer-was captivated with all the aspects of the earth and the air—was ready to forgive any person, however much he might have done to provoke him-became a great friend of Byron-spoke of Moore as one of the most amiable and delightful of persons—and last of all, could enjoy the company and conversation of anybody-and thanked God that he had never lost his relish of even ordinary or stupid people.
There were three things, which, at this particular period of his career, it was desirable that Jeffrey should obtain. Hitherto he had been a great reader and most diligent composer-but except in the debating societies of the Glasgow College, he had enjoyed scarcely any opportunities of manifesting or cultivating these powers of speaking which he possessed in so marvellous a degree-and of the existence of which, as his peculiar property and privilege, he could not be ignorant. Again, he was in a condition of comparative loneliness, and stood greatly in need of a more extended fellowship of congenial minds than he had hitherto been able to obtain. And lastly, he was not only without fortune, but very much without family connections or interest of any assignable kind -and it was most desirous that he should be brought under the notice of persons, who, by their rank in life, and by their social influence, were likely to advance his interests, and to make him favourably known, as one of the most promising young persons that had ever appeared as a candidate for forensic distinction.
The Speculative Society was exactly the theatre by his connection with which all these wants were to be supplied. He there had far higher opportunities of cultivating his powers of debate than he had ever previously possessed-he was there introduced to a host of new acquaintances, many of them persons of high rank and influence, and all of them men of far more than ordinary mental accomplishment-and there, lastly, his marvellous powers became apparent, and enabled his associates to point him out as a person, who, though still very young, (he was then only in his 19th year,) gave every indication of being destined for great celebrity in that peculiar sphere of exertion and of study to which he seemed to have devoted his talents. Lord Cockburn's observations on this subject are exactly in unison with those we have now stated.
"On the 11th of December 1792, Jeffrey entered the Speculative Society. Insignificant as this may seem, it did more for him than any other event in the whole course of his education. Literary and scientific, and especially debating societies have long existed in connection with the College of Edinburgh, as they have occasionally in all the other colleges in Scotland; and
so beneficial are these institutions, when properly used, so encouraging both for study and for discussion, and so well-timed in reference to the condition of young minds, that it is not easy to understand how any college can succeed without them. The Speculative had been instituted in 1764, and had raised itself above all similar establishments in this country. Fifty-eight years more have passed since Jeffrey joined it, and it still flourishes, and can never expire now, except by the unworthiness of the youths in whose days it shall sink. Jeffrey scarcely required it for improvement in composition; but though he had occasionally tried his speaking powers in one or two obscure and casual associations, he had never been a regular working member of a society like this, on which age and reputation conferred importance, where the awe of order was aided by hereditary respect for not very flexible rules, and superiority was difficult, and every effort to attain it formidable. It was exactly what he required, and he gave himself to it with his whole heart. The period for regular attendance was three years; but his voluntary and very frequent visits were continued for six or seven years more. In the course of these nine or ten years, he had a succession, and sometimes a cluster, of powerful competitors. It is sufficient to mention Sir Walter Scott, with whom he first became acquainted here; Dr. John Thomson; John Allen; David Boyle, now Lord President of the Court of Session; the Rev. Dr. Brunton; the Marquis of Lansdowne; the late Charles Lord Kinnaird; Dr, Headlam; Francis Horner; the late William Adam, accountant-general in the Court of Chancery; John A. Murray, and James Moncreiff, both afterwards judges; Henry Brougham; Lord Glenelg, and his late brother Robert Grant; James Loch, the Honourable Charles Stuart, and William Scarlett. The political sensitiveness of the day at one time obtruded itself rather violently into this hall of philosophical orators, but it soon passed away, and while it lasted, it only animated their debates, and, by connecting them with public principles and parties, gave a practical interest to their proceedings. The brightest period in the progress of the society was during the political storm that crossed it in 1799."
"But it was the debates that he chiefly shone in. He took a zealous part in every discussion. I doubt if he was ever once silent throughout a whole meeting. The Tuesday evenings were the most enthusiastic and valuable of his week. It is easy to suppose what sort of an evening it was to Jeffrey when he had to straggle in debate with Lansdowne, Brougham, Kinnaird, and Horner, who, with other worthy competitors, were all in the society at the same time. It has scarcely ever fallen to my lot to hear three better speeches than three I heard in that place-one on National Character by Jeffrey, one on the Immortality of the Soul by Horner, and one on the Power of Russia by Brougham.
"It was here that his feeling about the fewness of his friends ceased. His first acquaintance with the persons I have named, and many others of the best friendships of his life arose in this society."
The situation of a young person, placed as Jeffrey then was-looking, though not decidedly, yet with every probability of its being his destination, to the bar as his means of distinction, or even of maintenance, in life, being utterly without fortune, and having but few friends to whose patronage or aid he could look for assistance-relying, in a word, solely upon his own powers as a speaker, and his capability of making himself master of any cases that might be entrusted to his management-the situation of a person so placed, and so furnished for the
struggles of life, could not but be full of anxiety and distrust. At times, under the operation of this spirit of fear and apprehension, he had thoughts of going into some mercantile line,-sometimes he looked to India as a theatre of exertion-more commonly he believed himself destined to be a mere literary adventurer, and actually made some earnest attempts at getting himself established in that very poor and uncertain career. For the mere technicalities of law, he had no peculiar liking; he was also afflicted with a constitutional tendency to see the worst side of any adventure in which he might happen to be engaged-and considering, to use his own words, "that there was such a shoal of candidates for the honours of the bar, and that so much diligence, and genius, and interest, was everywhere to be seen neglected and cast aside," he could scarcely be blamed for believing "that there would be insolence in reckoning upon success."
In the year 1794, he was admitted to practise at the bar-he being then in his twenty-first year-but, for several years, his success was extremely limited;-his biographer says,
"His talents and his reputation, which among young men was very considerable, were his only grounds of hope in his first public scene. These were counteracted by his public opinions, and by an unpopularity of manner which it is somewhat difficult to explain. People did not like his English, nor his style of smart sarcastic disputation, nor his loquacity, nor what they supposed to be an air of affectation. These peculiarities gradually faded, and people got accustomed to them, but they operated against him throughout several of his early years. He himself was aware of this, and felt it. He writes to his brother (27th June 1796), of the few to whom I am dear;' and envies John, who had gained so many friends, and seen so much of the world, while I have been languishing within my island limits, scarcely known to anybody, and not much liked by those who do know ́me.'
His professional exertions during the six first years of his appearance as an advocate never brought him above £100 per annum; he was often sick of the profession, and again seriously applied to the London booksellers for employment in the capacity of "a grub ;" but there, too, his applications were unsuccessful; yet love, even in a mind so much given to distrust as his, exercised, even at this period, and amidst so many dispiriting circumstances, his usual uncontrollable influence-Jeffrey married, and was extremely happy in his union; and when his partner died, gave utterance to his grief-almost his despair-in one of the most beautiful and uneffected tributes of affectionate recollection that the experience of any similar privation has ever called forth. The letter is now almost universally known and admired. We need not, therefore, reprint it in this place.
It is generally understood that, among the first things that brought him into more general practice, was a speech made by him in the General Assembly, 1802, he having been at that time eight years at the bar. His biographer has thus recorded the fact.
"His first professional speech that I remember, was made that month in the General Assembly. It was in a cause which, however important to the parties and the church courts, was in itself paltry. But it made a little
noise in its hour, chiefly from Jeffrey's appearance in it. 'My professional employment is increasing, too, a little, I think, and I rather believe that my reputation as a man of business stands somewhat higher than it used to do. I have made a speech in the General Assembly about six weeks ago that has done me some good, I believe. The speech seemed to me at the time to be very middling, and certainly cost me no exertion whatsoever; but I find it spoken of in many quarters, and have received congratulations from my friends as if it was to make me very advantageously known.'"
The following account of the General Assembly-of its former place of meeting, and of the habits and appearance of the varied throng that crowded its seats-is so graphic, and at the same time so severely true, that it cannot be supposed to give offence to the most sensitive of clerical readers; and with it, and a passage descriptive of the character of the late Sir Henry Moncreiff, we shall close this portion of our extracts. "It was," says his biographer,
"It was in May 1807 that I first encountered him in the General Assembly, where, for the next twenty years, he had an unchallenged monopoly on one side. A seat, as a member in that house, the only established popular assembly then in Scotland, was a common ambition with such lawyers, whether at the bar or on the bench, as were anxious about a certain description of party affairs, and had no aversion to opportunities of display. It was often wondered how Jeffrey could resist being a member. But he was indifferent about its ordinary business, and thought that the possession of its bar, though its emoluments were scarcely visible, improved his general professional position. He was always interested, moreover, in that singular place.
"It is a sort of Presbyterian convocation, which meets, along with a commissioner representing the Crown, for about twelve days yearly. It consists of about 200 clergymen, and about 150 lay elders, presided over by a reverend president called the moderator, who is elected by the Assembly annually, and very seldom more than once. Its jurisdiction is both judicial and legislative. As an ecclesiastic parliament, it exercises, subject to very ill defined limitations, a censorian and corrective authority over all the evils, and all the affairs of the church. As a court, it deals out what appears to it to be justice upon all ecclesiastical delinquencies and disputes. Its substance survives, but, in its air and tone, it has every year been degrading more and more into the likeness of common things, till at last the primitive features which, half a century ago, distinguished it from every other meeting of men in this country, have greatly faded. Yet how picturesque it still is! The royal commissioner and his attendants, all stiff, brilliant, and grotesque, in court attire. The members gathered from every part of the country-from growing cities, lonely glens, distant islands, agricultural districts, universities, and fallen burghs-the varieties of dialect and tone, uncorrupted fifty years ago by English-the kindly greetings-the social arrangements-the party plots-the strangeness of the subjects-partly theological, partly judicial, partly political, often all mixed-of the deepest apparent importance to the house, however insignificant or incomprehensible to others the awkwardness of their forms, and the irregularity of their application-their ignorance of business-the conscientious intolerance of the rival sects-the helplessness, when the storm of disorder arises, of the poor shortlived inexperienced moderator-the mixture of clergy and laity, of nobility and commoners, civilians and soldiers-the curious efforts of oratory-the ready laughter even among the grim-and consequently the easy jokes. Higher associations