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change of posture; to Lord Bute it was more than usually grateful, both from that monkish sort of austerity and reserve of which I have just taken notice, and from a tincture of family pride, which inclines a man to lean upon inferiors, rather than to hold himself in the attitude of equality. His original patronage of Mr Home was meritorious, from its benevolence and attention to the encouragement of letters. He was then the patron of the poet; it was afterwards somewhat of a more selfish cast, from the indulgence which he found in the society of the man—an indulgence which he sometimes gratified at the expence of persons of high rank, and great political influence, who saw, with indignation, those private interviews which were refused to them, granted to this obscure man of letters.
There was, I have been informed, the same sort of imprudence in the private life of the great Earl of Chatham, who, in the intervals of those paroxysms of the gout to which he was subject, was frequently peevish and inaccessible to men of high rank and high office, but indulged himself in the familiar society of very inferior dependents, much less recommended by talent or agreeable conversation than Mr Home; but, in Lord Chatham, these little infringements of politeness or etiquette were not felt nor resented. Amidst the splendour of his triumphant administration, those specks of a private kind were unnoticed or forgotten.
Mr Home has sometimes been accused of allowing his vanity of Lord Bute's friendship and familiarity to get the better of his prudence, or of the reserve which he ought to have maintained on account of his patron; and that he increased the unpopularity of the minister by displaying his disproportionate favour and familiarity to himself. If he shewed a certain degree of weakness and want of discretion in the vanity which he indulged from the favour and intimacy of the first Lord of the Treasury, he exhibited a degree of purity of mind and disinterestedness, much less common, in never turning this favour and intimacy to his own private advantage. He never asked, (and I cannot mention it without feeling equal surprise and displeasure,) he was never offered, aiiy office or appointment, so many of which Lord Bute had in his power to bestow. It was solely at the suggestion of some of his friends, without the most distant hint from himself, that Lord Bute at last bestowed on him the office of Conservator of Scots Privileges at Campvere, which Mr Home enjoyed for several years, till he resigned it in 1770, (retaining, I believe, the salary,) to Mr Crawford, of Rotterdam; to whom, as a merchant in Holland, it was important, from that sort of rank and station which in that country it conferred.
But though his self-love never took advantage of this intimacy to benefit himself, the warmth of his friendship sometimes exerted itself in recommending others to favourable situations, which, however, I believe were what their merits might have fairly claimed, though such, as without his commendation, they might have failed to obtain.
Had he been selfishly disposed, he had a golden opportunity of enriching himself. At the peace of Paris, in 1763, Mr Home was then living with Lord Bute in London, and in the intimate knowledge of the diplomatic proceedings which were carried on by our Ambassador in France. I believe there were not wanting men who were willing to suggest to him, as well as to share, the obvious advantage which such opportunities of intelligence, or even conjecture, might afford in the then fluctuating state of public expectation, and the consequent variations in the state of the funds. But Mr Home had a sense of honour and delicacy much above even the harbouring of any such thoughts of private emolument. His mind, indeed, had that heroic cast which I have formerly mentioned, as far removed as possible from avarice, or the love of gain. His inattention to money-matters went perhaps a blameable length, or at least was carried to a degree which his friends allowed to be imprudent. I well remember a saying of the witty Lord Elibank, when he was told that Dr Adam Ferguson had got a pension. "It is a very laudable grant," said he, "and I rejoice at it; but it is no more in the power of the King to make Adam Ferguson, or John Home rich, than to make me poor,"—alluding to the well-known economy, or parsimony, as it might fairly be termed, of his own disposition.
I am aware that I have trespassed both in point of difiuseness, and somewhat also against chronological arrangement, in thus giving all the particulars of Mr Home's life which stand in connexion with Lord Bute, instead of exactly following the order of events. But I was induced to give the above sketch of Mr Home's connexion with Lord Bute, and its results, as it marked the leading features of both their minds, and was much more honourable to Mr Home, than those who sometimes heard him talk of their familiarity were led to suppose. Among his weaknesses, (and it is one of that unpopular sort which men are apt to remark and to remember,) was a desire of egotism, which he was apt to indulge in recounting anecdotes of past times, and of eminent men. He had lived in a society of an excellence, and also of a rank, with which, from peculiar circumstances, he had been associated beyond what men in his situation of life commonly are. This (as is altogether in nature,) made that society a more leading object in his mind and his discourse, than in that of men whose original rank or situation entitles them to enjoy it. I have mentioned above, his remarkable memory for anecdotes, and his happy manner of relating them; those little narratives became naturally the chief materials of his conversation, and the openness and warmth of his temper never kept back his own share in the occurrences he was relating. In truth, a man never actually forgets himself in recounting such anecdotes ; it is the reserve of politeness only that makes him forbear talking in the first person; and reserve was a quality which, of all men, Mr Home possessed the least. This style of conversation is, however, very unpopular, except when sparingly introduced: Its hearers, who have not participated in such scenes or adventures, feel the details of them a sort of foreign language, by which they are cut off from a share in the conversation. Proud men feel resentment, humble ones an awkwardness, in being mere auditors on such occasions, and are apt to impute altogether to vanity or conceit, what the speaker is often in truth telling for their entertainment.
On this ground, there was a most intimate friend of our author's, who might have been a pattern for his imitation. I never knew a man of such pleasing talents for conversation as Dr Robertson: He spoke, as became him, a good deal; but there was nothing assuming or authoritative either in the manner or the matter of his discourse. He took