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assembly, that the subjects were chiefly clerical, lying more within the range of their accustomed studies, as well as more within the reach of their particular information, than could be the case with the laymen who sat there along with them. The clergy of Edinburgh, coming thither thus prepared by education and habit, for filling a respectable place in society, found in that city a circle well adapted to perfect their knowledge, to enlarge their minds, and to foster their genius. They mixed more than, I think, they have done at any subsequent period, with the first and most distinguished persons of the place, distinguished, whether for science, literature, or polite manners, and even, as far as the clerical character might innocently allow, with the men of fashion conspicuous for wit and gaiety. In the inexpensive style of the Edinburgh society, at the period to which I allude, when tea was the meal of ceremony for general acquaintance, and a supper of a very moderate number that of more intimate society, there was much more intercourse of mind than in the large parties of modern times, which form, in truth, a sort of public place in a private house. In such places of numerous resort, even if other circumstances allowed, the clergy cannot so easily mix with those who are styled people of fashion. I regret the want of mixture of clerical and lay society for the sake of both parties. To the one it tended to add the graces of manner to the solid talents which at all times so many of them possess. To the other it tended to give that very solidity, soberness, and modesty of demeanour, so useful and so amiable in the young of either sex. It tended to give to wealth and rank, instead of the insolence and frivolity which often accompany them, the urbanity, the condescension, the chastened wit, the decent deportment, which are the great sweeteners, as well as ennoblers, of social life. It added respect and dignity to both parties, and mixed into a closer and more advantageous union, the different classes of men. It checked the petulance of the young, and smoothed the severity of the old; it added sentiment to the gaieties, and gave more winning features to the serious duties, of life.
There was, indeed, a high Calviaistic party in the church, whose rigid ideas of the clerical function were somewhat unfriendly to social intercourse, or the ease of social enjoyment. But they were often men of great learning and talents, and they had their reward in the authority and popular weight which they obtained among the bulk of their parishioners. The party opposite to them, who were less rigid and severe in their ideas of clerical manners and character, owed, perhaps, to that very distinction a politeness and suavity of deportment, and an attention to accomplishment and elegance in their studies, to which otherwise their si
tuation might not have led. They cultivated classical literature, and began that study of refined composition which some of them afterwards carried to such a degree of excellence in this country.
Of this party was Mr John Home, who was early associated with his coevals destined for the church, of similar inclinations and dispositions. Besides the eminent persons above-mentioned, Robertson, Hugh Blair, and Drysdale, he became intimately associated with others of his fellow-churchmen, whose disposition, as well as talents, were calculated to combine with and to foster his own. Among these were Drs Cleghorn, Carlyle, Adam Ferguson, Ballantyne, and Logan.* The last of these was peculiarly distinguished for learning and acuteness, and was generally allowed to be the first metaphysician of his time. This quality tended to draw upon him a certain suspicion of heterodoxy; and Dr Carlyle used to mention, that once having lent Dr Logan a sermon, when he was unexpectedly called to preach before the Presbytery of Dalkeith, that reverend body believing it to be Logan's own, found, or conceived themselves to find, so much sceptical metaphysics in it, as to be with difficulty prevented from instituting a prosecution against the preacher.
* Not the clergyman of that name, the poet of a later time, but another clergyman, coeval with Mr Home, who died before the younger Logan was known as an author.
I have prepared the Society for this paper being a paper of parentheses—a sort of literary gossip's story. Will they indulge me in a somewhat long, and, perhaps, it may be thought still more tedious than long, parenthesis on the situation and character of some of Mr Home's early companions, whose names and memories they may not be unwilling, however, to recal, as the fathers and fosterers of that literary and philosophical spirit to which this Society owes its origin and station?
It were impertinent in me to do any more than merely to name those illustrious men whose biography has been already in much abler hands, Drs Robertson and Blair, and David Hume, nor need I speak of our venerable colleague, Dr A. Ferguson, whose life, as well as his works, are so well known to the world. Others there were of less note, who have not been handed down by their literary labours to posterity, but who were, perhaps, little inferior either in genius or learning to their more celebrated companions, and to whom those companions were indebted, not only for a great part of the happiness of their lives, but more, perhaps, than can ever be known, for many suggestions, for the original germ of many ideas, which they afterwards expanded or adorned in the volumes which they gave to the world. At that
time the press was a vehicle not so immediately resorted to for the communication of opinion or of theory as it now is. Men were then shyer of coming forth to public notice as authors, and were apt to content themselves with the conscious possession of talents or of learning, or the participation of those endowments with the circle of such of their friends as were qualified to appreciate them.
Among these were the clergymen Ballantyne, Logan, Carlyle, and Drysdale, whom I have mentioned above; and, at a later period, General Fletcher, who was one of Mr Home's most intimate and constant companions, a man of a very elegant appearance, and a scholar more deeply read than men in his situation commonly are. Mr John Jardine, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, was another of that circle, the coeval and intimate companion of Mr Home, a man of infinite pleasantry as well as great talents, whose conversation, perhaps, beyond that of any other of the set, possessed the charm of easy natural attractive humour. His playful vivacity often amused itself in a sort of mock contest with the infantile (if I may use such a phrase when speaking of such a man) simplicity of David Hume, who himself enjoyed the discovery of the joke which had before excited the laugh of his companions around him. Another member of that society, while he lived in