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co-operation they would have sought. But I think I have heard that they were afraid both of his extreme good nature, and his extreme artlessness; that, from the one, their criticisms would have been weakened, or suppressed, and, from the other, their secret discovered. The merits of the work strongly attracted his attention, and he expressed his surprise, to some of the gentlemen concerned in it, with whom he was daily in the habit of meeting, at the excellence of a performance written, as he presumed, from his ignorance on the subject, by some persons out of their own literary circle. It was agreed to communicate the secret to him at a dinner, which was shortly after given by one of their number. At that dinner he repeated his wonder on the subject of the Edinburgh Review. One of the company said he knew the authors, and would tell them to Mr Hume upon his giving an oath of secrecy. "How is the oath to be taken," said David, with his usual pleasantry, "of a man accused of so much scepticism as I am? You would not trust my Bible Oath; but I will swear by the To xaXoi/ and the To wptrov never to reveal your secret." He was then told the names of the authors and the plan of the work, but it was not continued long enough to allow of his contributing any articles. Of another work, and one of much humour, written by Adam Ferguson, in ridicule of the opposers of a Scots militia, " The History of Sister Peg," David Hume was also kept in ignorance, from similar motives, by his literary friends. By way of a pleasant revenge for their want of confidence, David Hume wrote a letter to the publisher, assuming the work to himself, and accounting for his having till that time declined avowing it. I have seen this letter, and it is written in such a style, as, to a man not informed of the real circumstances of the case, would leave no doubt of Mr Hume's being the author of the book. I could not read this letter without being confirmed in an observation which I have often ventured to make, on the uncertainty of the evidence arising from letters, when the writers are dead, and the motives of their correspondence cannot be known.
The mention of Sister Peg leads me to take notice of another literary association, considerably later than the Select Society, established under the auspices of some of Mr Home's above-mentioned companions, and in conformity to his own sanguine ideas of national pride and heroism; this was the Poker Club, instituted in 1762, at a time when Scotland was refused a militia, and thought herself affronted by the refusal; a refusal which many sensible and moderate men thought for her advantage, as she was just then beginning that course of improvement in industry, and particularly in agriculture, which she has since so successfully prosecuted; but, perhaps, chiefly caused by that jealousy, which fifteen years had not yet extinguished, of a disaffected spirit of Jacobitism, which made it unsafe to trust the people of Scotland, or at least a great part of them, with arms. The name of this club, the Poker, was chosen from a quaint sort of allusion to the principles it was originally meant to excite, as a club to stir up the fire and spirit of the country. It was afterwards extended as to members, though less definite in its objects, by the admission of a number of gentlemen of this country, and chiefly resident in Edinburgh, considerable either in rank and station, or eminent for talents. At its first institution, Mr Johnston, afterwards Sir William Pulteney, was chosen Secretary, with two assistants, for the revisal of any publications that might be thought necessary; and, in a playful moment, Mr Andrew Crosbie, the celebrated barrister, (one of the most zealous advocates for the people, and one of the warmest asserters of their freedom, but the best-natured and gentlest man possible in private life,) was chosen Assassin, in case that office should be found necessary, with another more celebrated man, equally remarkable for the mildness of his disposition, Mr David Hume, for his assistant. I see among these careless scraps of his earlier writings, which Mr Hume had preserved, the beginning of a warm paper addressed to the landed gentlemen of Scotland, on the subject of the militia, ascribing to the want of it the early misfortunes of the Seven Years' War, to which the subsequent successes, unparalleled in British history, afforded a sufficient answer. The club flourished till 1784, when its members, according to a list I have seen, were in number sixtysix, consisting, among other literary men, of several whom I have mentioned above, of Patrick Lord Elibank, Sir John Dalrymple, Sir James Stewart, Dr Adam Smith, Drs Cullen, Black, and Gregory, and Professor James Russel. Of men that were afterwards eminent in public life, were Lord Melville, Sir Gilbert Elliot, his brother Admiral Elliot, and Sir Robert Murray Keith. Of men of fashion, who, in those days, were proud of connection and acquaintance with men of letters, were the Duke of Buccleuch, the Marquis of Grahame, afterwards Duke of Montrose, Lord Mountstewart, afterwards Earl of Bute, the Earls of Haddington, Glencairn, and Glasgow, Lord Binning, Sir Adam Ferguson, and Sir John Halkett.
Excellent as, from the above enumeration, the Society of Edinburgh will be allowed, at that period, to have been, yet old Ambassador Keith, who returned to his native city after an absence of twenty-two years, complained (perhaps with an old man's partiality) that it had lost some of that high polish and general information of which he remembered it possessed. In his younger days, he said, every Scots gentleman, of L.300 a-year, made it a necessary part of education to travel for two or three years abroad, when, having previously acquired sufficient learning and information to point out their objects of inquiry, and to lay the foundation for future acquirements, and not being rich enough for the indulgence of the idlenessj the follies, or the profligacy which are often produced or fostered by wealth, the gentlemen of Scotland improved in manners and in fashion, and gained that knowledge of the world and enlargement of mind, which made their society afterwards so delightful at home. "They were qualified," says my authority, "for conversation and study, while they cultivated their paternal fields. Sportsmen and farmers, without being able to talk of nothing else than the pedigree of horses, the breed of bullocks, or the qualities of manure." The elder Keith, whose opinion I have just quoted, became, at that advanced age, a member of the Poker Club, with which he frequently associated. Lord Elliock was a constant attendant; an excellent scholar, of the most singularly retentive memory, particularly for anecdotes, with a great store of which his long residence abroad had furnished him. When in Holland, he had the good fortune to be intimately known, and often in the society of Frederick the Great, whom the jealousy of his father, then King of Prussia, had banished at that time from his native country.