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not remarkable either for force of argument or display of eloquence, but were delivered in an easy and gentlemanlike style and manner; though, from his particular situation, an ex-churchman of the Presbyterian establishment, they were not popular with one side of the house, and sometimes called forth severe and sarcastic replies from some of the leading members sitting there.
The General Assembly had then to boast of some of the best public speaking that was to be heard in Britain, the House of Commons scarcely excepted. The great question which divided the speakers was that of patronage, (the right of nominating the minister by the proprietor of that right,) the exercise of which had separated a considerable number of the people from the Established Church, under the denomination of Seceders, and was not less productive of warm debates in this kind of ecclesiastical parliament. On one side were ranged Dr Robertson and his associates. Dr Robertson had a power of speaking in a manner admirably calculated for his situation as a leader of what was called the Moderate Party of the Church, temperate, conciliating, and candid; he generally wound up the debate with a concise and impartial view of the opposite arguments, and frequently brought the opposite parties to an amicable settlement, by proposing some resolution which allowed to both a portion of what they had contended for, and did not trench on any of the principles which they considered as fixed, and not to be departed from. On the other side was Dr Dick, one of the most powerful speakers, in point of eloquence and impression, that had ever appeared in that, or any other popular assembly; and another man, a plain country clergyman, but of infinite native humour,
Fairbairn, the minister of Dumbarton, whose
talent for enlivening a debate by pleasantry, or turning the laugh against his adversary by sarcasm, not rude, though keen, I have seldom heard equalled by any debater whomsoever.
In 1767» Mr Home got a long lease, on very favourable terms, of the farm of Kilduff, in EastLothian, from his former patron and friend, Sir David Kinloch. On this farm he built a house, where he lived, with only occasional interruptions, for the succeeding ten or 12 years of his life.
In 1769, his tragedy of The Fatal Discovery was brought out at Drury-Lane. Its original title was Rivine, from the name of the heroine of the story, which was taken from one of the fragments of Ossian. But Garrick, afraid of the prejudices then prevalent in London against Scotsmen, and Scots subjects, changed its name to that of The Fa^ tal Discovery; and, in order more effectually to disguise its origin, procured a young English gentleman, a student from Oxford, to attend the rehearsals, and personate the author. But the suecess of the play drew its real author from his covert; and, after some nights' representation, Mr Home declared himself the writer of the tragedy. The event verified the fears of Garrick; the succeeding representations were but indifferently attended, and the piece languished only for a few nights longer. The natural vanity of an author came in aid of this disappointment; Mr Home imputed the thinness of those houses to the circumstance of the public attention being entirely engrossed by the decision of the celebrated Douglas cause, which happened at that time.
In 1770, Mr Home was married to the daughter of his friend and relation, Mr Home, the minister of Foggo, formerly of Polwarth, who, notwithstanding her delicate frame, and constantly interrupted health, has outlived her husband, who watched her with a tenderness suitable to those amiable dispositions which formed so prominent a part of his character.
In the year 1773, his tragedy of Alonzo was performed at Drury-Lane, to which his friend Garrick contributed a justly celebrated epilogue, certainly one of the best which his genius, so prolific in that species of composition, ever produced. This play was the most popular of all Mr Home's tragedies, Douglas excepted, and met with great success in the representation. Mrs Barry's Ormisinda was one of the parts in which that celebrated actress exerted her powers, in displaying the vio-lence and energy of feeling, with striking effect.
In 1776, he was called suddenly from London, by accounts he received from Mr Ferguson, of the dangerous state of his celebrated friend, David Hume. He set off with all that warmth of affection which was natural to him, met his friend on the road, and accompanied him in his journey to London and Bath, which he took by medical advice, on account of his health. I am possessed of a journal of this expedition, which, as it contains some interesting particulars of the great philosopher's closing life, as well as of his confidential opinions, I may, perhaps, if the Society inclines, read, by way of appendix to this paper; meantime, I cannot resist submitting to its perusal one letter of Mr Hume's, to which, I am persuaded, it will listen with a considerable degree of interest; it is dated 6th August, 1776, not many weeks before that celebrated man's death :—
"Edinburgh, 6th August, 1776. "My Dkar John,
"I shall begin with telling you the only piece of good news of the family, which is, that my nephew, in no more than two days that he has staid here, has recovered so surprisingly, that he is scarcely knowable, or rather is perfectly knowable, for he was not so on his first arrival. [This relates to Mr Hume's eldest nephew, Joseph, at that time just returned from abroad, in very bad health.] Such are the advantages of youth! His uncle declines, if not with so great rapidity, yet pretty sensibly. Sunday, ill; half of yesterday the same; easy at present; prepared to suffer a little to-morrow; perhaps less the day after. Dr Black says I shall not die of a dropsy, as I imagined, but of inanition and weakness. He cannot^ however, fix, with any probability, the time, otherwise he would frankly tell me.
"Poor Edmonstone, [Col. Edmonstone of Newton] and I parted to-day, with a plentiful effusion of tears; all those SehebuUans * have not hearts of iron. I hope you met with every thing well at Foggo, and receive nothing but good news from Buxton. In spite of Dr Black's caution, I venture to foretel that I shall be yours cordially and sincerely till the month of October next.
(Signed) "David Hume."
In the beginning of the year 1778, the tragedy of Alfred was performed at Drury-Lane, but did not succeed. I do not mean in this place to enter
* Colonel Edmonstone was a member of what was called the Ruffian Club; men whose hearts were milder than their manners, and their principles more correct than their habits of life.