網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

THE SELFISHNESS OF GENEROSITY.

THE BYSTANDER.

and thus strengthen his resolution to pursue it; but this

new motive, coming to the support of the other, can in no No. VI.

ways affect its original character. And in like manner, although the man of extended views and acquaintance

with the world, must be aware, from his past experience, We have no intention to give into that silly paradox that self-denial is the source of the purest and most lasting which seeks to prove that all our actions are dictated by happiness, this does not interfere with or destroy the selfish motives a fallacy which the mind can much principle of his constitution, which renders it easy and more easily detect than expose. As it is not our purpose pleasant for him to practise that virtue. The person who to enter into the discussion at present, we merely remark, is naturally generous, and he who is of close and selfish that its supposed proof rests upon an exclusive attention habits, may occasionally act in the same manner ; but, to the logical forms of demonstration, and a neglect of while the conduct of the one will have the free, buoyant, that observation or experiment which ought to afford and spontaneous beauty of one discharging a natural them matter. The general tendency of the time is in a function, the constrained and hesitating gait of the other, different direction—to sacrifice every thing to mere will betray that he is acting in accordance with his reaobservation and experiment. Either extreme is bad : son, but against his inclinations, 6 the first mentioned leads to positive error, the latter pre Again, by the selfishness of generosity, we do not mean vents the attainment of truth.

any taint inhering in the impulse itself, but its tendency, But to come to our subject. When we speak of the when indulged in to an undue extent, and not sufficiently selfishness of generosity, we do not mean thereby that regulated by reflection, to superinduce a morbid state of calculating spirit which estimates its bounty at the highest mind, characterised by the most engrossing selfishness. rate, and exacts, sooner or later, a return in full. There There is nothing uncominon in this fact, of an emotion is no generosity in this; it is a mere mercantile specula- beautiful and pure in itself, fading into one which is just As little do we mean the profusion with which the reverse.**

Our emotions are either amiable or unami. tbe fond parent, the lover, and the husband, heap presents able; none of them are, properly speaking, either virtuous upon the object of their affections. It is, in their case, or vicious. Virtue is that well-balanced state of mind, but an attempt to give utterance to a devotedness which that reflective and habitual bravery, which is produced words are too feeble to express. It is akin to the feel. by the control exercised over our emotions by our reasoning which prompts the Catholic devotee to adorn the ing faculty. A virtuous mind is not the gift of nature image of his favourite saint. They gaze with an idola. (though an innocept and an amiable are), but of habit trous affection upon the beloved object, and seek to en and training. It is produced by the mutual reaction of hance her charms by decking her with ornaments, or our sentiments and reason. When uncontrolled by the conveying to her mind some new pleasure that may last-mentioned ingredient of our constitution, the mind heighten the charm of her expressive countenance. They passes from one emotion to another, in virtue of the most act under the impulse of a mental intoxication-a mix- strange and arbitrary associations. Most men must have ture of love and vanity. There can be no generosity experienced the instantaneous revulsion by which the where there is not some sense of the worth of the sacrifice; most ardent and engrossing love can, by, a check from the and to them nothing has any value but the object which coldness or caprice of its object, be made to pass

into

rage. they doat upon.

He who the moment before felt it happiness but to sit by By generosity, we mean the power of cheerfully obey- the side of the woman he loved, and to gaze upon hering the mandate"do as you would be done by”--to its who would gladly have kept “the winds of heaven from full extent. We mean that active quality of the mind visiting her face too roughly," would have esteemed an which enables a man to postpone, on all occasions, the arduous task imposed upon him a favour, and who drank consideration of self,—which no sooner sees pain and increase of love even from a sportive trick,—the sa me distress, than it seeks, without any reference to who may person may be driven by a jealous suggestion to address be the sufferer, to relieve them, which feels a proud her in the language of hatred and insult, and to feel all consciousness of power in relinquishing, even at the that he so violently utters. In the first state of mind he hazard of self-impoverishment, some just right which was eminently amiable; in the other, to which he bas might interfere with the happiness or comfort of others. passed at one sudden bound, he gives all the brutality of

In this motive to action, there is no selfishness. Sel- his nature to the light. For what can be more revolting fishness implies a direct and conscious reference to our than to see one of the stronger sex outraging the delicacy own advantage. It can only admingle with those ac of a woman upon a groundless suspicion? Yet the emotions which are dictated by reflection, which have been tional part of our mind is capable of assuming alike the deliberately weighed and argued beforehand. But gene- lovely and the hideous character. It is only the reflectrosity is an impulse, an unreflective, elementary emotion ive faculty within us, conscious of the repulsive aspect of of our being, as much as love or aversion. The man who the latter, that induces us to struggle against its return, acts in accordance to its dictates, acts thus, simply because and it is only after many unsuccessful contests, that we it is his nature to do so. In the course of time, reflection acquire the power of doing so successfully. may show him that an enlightened regard to his own But there is also a way in which indulgence even bappiness recommends exactly the same line of conduct, in the most amiable emotions, has a detrimental influence

ance.

upon the character. By yielding ourselves up to their any emotion that may counteract the desire of present unchecked control, we enervate ourselves and become gain. Their crime does not consist in spurning the preeffemipate. Unaccustomed to allow relection any influ- cepts of virtue, but in not being sufficiently susceptible to ence over our indulgence in pleasing senations, we become them. intellectual voluptuaries. We acquire, as all voluptuaries These reflections, although they do not pretend to fur. do, habits of irritability and impatience, when all things nish any adequate test for determining, in every individo not concur to fill up the measure of our enjoyment. dual case of a dispute between the giver and receiver of It was such a state of mind as this, that we had in view a favour, which is in fault, may, nevertheless, be of use when we used the expression, “ the selfishness of gene-in serving to direct those who are called upon to deterrosity.” We have met with people in the world who mine between them, and to moderate their own harsh were capable of the most heroic self-devotion, but who judgments of each other. In regard to the parties, they exacted in return an expression of gratitude as fervent enforce in a striking manner the observance of the most and enthusiastic as their own feelings. They did not important precept of practical ethics—mutual forbearconfer their benefits with a consciousness that it was for

The benefactor ought to probe well the motives such a return. For the moment, they were under the which have actuated him. If he find that his supposed influence of pure and unalloyed beneficence. But they generosity has been in part a veiled ambition of men's were persons of an enthusiastic and imaginative--of what gratitude and admiration, he should remember that bis is termed in society a romantic turn of mind. This dis- disappointment is but a just reward for his questionable position many of them had cultivated by the study of benevolence—that perhaps what he calls ingratitude appoetry and romance. In yielding to the impulse of their pears to him as such, merely because, over-rating his sernatural generosity, they were buoyed up by a full con vices, he has expected a warmer return than was really sciousness of the elevated character which the postpone due to him. On the other hand, the person who has ment of selfish considerations gives to a man. Accus received the favour will struggle against the tendency of tomed to indulge in and prolong every luxurious throb our nature to forget, and if at times his patron seem to of feeling, they expected to see, in the conduct of the vic exact too much, will learn to discriminate between a digtims of their beneficence, the expression of an overpower- nified refusal to yield to undue exactions of homage, and ing sense of their superiority, mingled with a passionate a pettish denial of all merit to one who is merely, like all excess of gratitude. If their advice was not deferred to human beings, not perfect, and who has a sacred and un. on all occasions—if a nature, which, while it feels deeply, alienable hold upon his affection and reverence. has an awkwardness in expressing itself, gave an appear.

L. ance of coldness to the thanks they received, they instantly suspected the presence of ingratitude, and by their peevishness and continued complaints exacted a terrible

LITERARY CRITICISM, return for the favour they had conferred.

It is more the existence of tempers such as we have Archæologia Scotica ; or Transactions of the Society of been describing, than of such as are actuated on all occasions by a cool calculating selfishness, that renders it such

Antiquaries of Scotland. Vol. III., Part II., and Vol. a delicate and dangerous matter to accept of a favour at

IV., Part I. 4to. Edinburgh : William Tait. Lonthe hands of any one. When we know that a favour has

don : Longman and Co. 1831. been conferred upon a principle of cold worldly policy,

Account of the Institution and Progress of the Society of we feel nothing more than the decency of encountering

the Antiquaries of Scotland, Part III. 1781–1830. the bestower with an expression of respectful deference

(Ordered to be printed, at a meeting of the Council, there may even exist between us the complacent feeling

held on the 14th March, 1831.) Edinburgh. 1831. which exists between those who, without any decided Arten an interval of several years, our Antiquarian attachment, feel that they have been, or may be, mutually Society again appears before the public, like a giant reserviceable to each other. But when warm and sincere freshed by slumber. It has brought up its lee-way, by gratitude is met by peevishness and suspicion, because it publishing at the same time the concluding part of its is not reiterated as incessantly as a parrot's chatter, or third, and the first fasciculus of its fourth volume. Along expressed in a slavish deference, the yoke becomes galling with these appears a continuation of Mr Smellie's account and insupportable. The ceaseless persecution of discon- of the institution and progress of the Society, bringing tented egoism frets away atfection : while a truly gene- down its history to the close of the session preceding that rous mind (the word is used here with a somewhat dif- which has just terminated. After a careful perusal of ferent meaning—as nearly synonymous with noble) is these volumes, we feel ourselves entitled to compliment racked by the tormenting consciousness, that a feeling is the Society, not only upon the vigorous exertion by which dying away, to which the conduct of its object at first this has been accomplished, but upon the decidedly more richly entitled it. Add to this the minor but teasing elevated intellectual character which marks this its last consideration, that the world, which judges by outward publication, when compared with all the volumes which show alone, will infallibly sympathize with the patron- have preceded it. The office of the antiquarian is, by the fear of misapprehension.

puzzling out every relic of the olden time, to accumuIt is not our intention to deny the existence of ingra- late by degrees materials for the historian, To the distitude, or to palliate the conduct of the ungrateful man. charge of this task, he ought to bring habits of clear logiThere is a natural tendency in the minds of most men to cal arrangement, an acute discernment of the value of ingratitude. There are few possessed of that rich and evidence, and a knack at distinguishing between what is retentive character, which receives impressions deep and relevant and what irrelevant to his subject. Now, in the for eternity. In most men, the remembrance of past earlier volumes of the Society's Transactions with all events, however warmly cherished for the moment, is reverence for that illustrious body do we speak—there gradually and insensibly effaced. They are not like seemed to be an extreme scarcity of these qualifications stucco, which hardens around its mould, but like the among its members. Their subjects of discussion were moist sand of the sea-shore, from the elastic surface of frequently puerile or old wifish (for by some strange which we see our foot-prints as it were gradually arising, jumbling of our ideas, these words have come to bear an or like the water which closes behind the ship's wake. identical meaning), and in treating them, they were apt, The present maintains with them an undue preponde as the Germans call it, “to talk in the blue distance, ** rance over the past. They are not consciously and re i. e. discuss “the general question," The treatises in the solvedly ungrateful, but the memory of past benefits has Parts now lying on our table are of a very different chafaded from their minds its traces are too faint to exciteracter.

BEFORE A POEME OF IRENE.

First, as bearing upon the history of Scotland, we My foes strong are, and I a fragill glasse, have a learned and judicious essay on the battle of Mons Howres charged with cares consume my life's small Grampius, and the campaigns whiệh led to it, by Colonel sparke; Millar; infinitely the most satisfactory treatise concern Yet, of thy goodness, if I grace obtaine, ing our vitrified forts that has yet appeared, by Dr Hib My life shall be no losse, my death great gaine," bert ; an essay by Mr Anderson, W.S., on the site of Macbeth's castle, which throws much incidental light on the history of that monarch; and a number of interest

“Mourne not, faire Greece, the ruine of thy kings, ing notices, serving to elucidate the connexion between Norway and the Northern and Western coasts of Scot. Thy temples razed, thy forts with flames deuour'd, land. Coming nearer to our own times, we have the Nor all those greifes which sterne Bellona brings!

Thy championes slaine, thy virgines pure deflowred, earlier history of the Clan Gregor, investigated by the But mourne, fair Greece! Mourne that that sacred band Society's indefatigable secretary, Donald Gregory—the which made thee once so famous by their songs, first instance on record of a trustworthy history of a Highland clan resting upon contemporary evidence. The Forc't by outrageous fate, haue left thy land, same gentleman contributes some notices relative to the Mourne that those climates which to thee appeare

And left thee scarce a voice to plaine thy wrongs ! state of Archery in the Highlands, and the latest employment of Bowmen in the Scottish army. To him To saue thy deedes from death must lend thee layes,

Beyond both Phoebus and his sisteres wayes, also is the society indebted for the communication of a

And such as from Musæus thou didst heare! Highland obituary, compiled early in the sixteenth cen

For now Irene hath attain'd such fame, tury. Turning next to scratinize the Society's contributions

That Hero's ghost doth weepe to heare her name." to the literary history of our country, we find a notice of

It has been our endeavour for some time back, to give the life of Hamilton of Bangour, the friend of Ramsay, brief but faithful reports of this Society's proceedings. and author of “ Busk ye, busk ye, my bonnie, bonnie With the leading features of its most important papers, bride ;" together with a chronological list of his poems,

we may therefore presume that the majority of our readers published and unpublished. Mr D. Laing furnishes an

are acquainted. Selecting at present upon the principle of account of the Hawthornden MSS., and copious extracts choosing what is most likely to prove amusing to our from Drummond's unpublished correspondence and readers, we transfer to our pages a letter from the Rev. poems. John Gregorson, Esq. of Ardtornish, has allowed James Robertson of Callander, to the Hon. James Drumthe Society to publish some letters from James Gregorie, mond, giving an account of some Highland Superstitions professor of mathematics at St Andrew's about the end connected with Hallowe'en. Burns has made every one of the seventeenth century, to which some interesting familiar with the manner in which that festival was notes have been appended by Professor Wallace. John celebrated in his time in the Lowlands: the reverend auGregory, Esq., advocate, has permitted the publication thor of the following epistle has done the same good serof a commission, granted by the Senatus Academicus to vice to the Highlands: the same Mr James Gregorie, to purchase for them mathematical instruments in England. These, and a

Callander, 7th March, 1791. great variety of articles of minor importance, show the Sir,--A letter which I had the honour to receive diligence with which the Society has laboured to elucidate from Mrs Drummond, dated the 3d curt., conveyed your the history of our nation's literary and scientific exer- request, which to me is always a command, that I should tions.

write more fully concerning the superstitious customs of The name of Drummond of Hawthornden is classical, the Highlanders upon All-Hallow Eve.

I do not reand a sufficient warrant to cull from his poetry. The member what was in the small note I made at Drumlast of the sonnets, which we subjoin, has a stateliness of mond Castle; therefore this letter has a chance of being diction not unworthy of Milton, and preoccupies a theme only a repetition. which has in our day been frequently and successfully “ I. Upon the last day of Autumn, the people of a dwelt upon,

small village or hamlet cut down as many ferns as they

thought necessary for the fire, which they meant to EDINBURGH.

kindle in the evening. “ Installid on Hills, hir Head neare starrye bowres, “ In remote ages, it is probable that more people atShines Edinburgh, proud of protecting powers.

tended each tire than at present, the farm-houses being Justice defendes her heart ; Religion east

less scattered than now, They lived in groups of many With temples ; Mars with towres doth guard the west ; houses and families, for the purpose of mutual defence Fresh Nymphes and Ceres seruing, waite upon her, against wild beasts or bad people. Besides, that their atAnd Thetis, tributarie, doth her honour.

tendance at this grand anniversary was only possible once The sea doth Venice shake, Rome Tiber beates,

a-year, and recommended by a high degree of religious Whilst she bot scornes her vassall watteres threats. veneration, mixed with an eager desire of prying into For scepters no where standes a Towne more fitt, futurity, we may suppose that these festivals were well Nor place where Toune, World's Queene, may fairer sitt. attended. Bot this thy praise is, aboue all, most braue,

“ This custom seems also to have been more ancient No man did e're diffame thee bot a slave,"

than the introduction of agriculture, and points at ruder

ages for its origin, perhaps even more remote than the SONNET.

pastoral age, because no straw or any fuel was to be used

in the fires, except ferns alone; and the food was princi" Rise to my soule, bright Sunne of Grace, O rise! pally such fruits as the season and country could afford. Make mee the vigour of thy beams to proue ;

The young people collected the ferns; and no ferns were Dissolue the chilling frost which on mee lies,

to be taken but such as were cut down that very day, That makes mee lesse than looke-warm in thy loue. “ As soon as it began to be dark, even before daylight Grant mee a beamling of thy light aboue

was gone, the whole people who had an interest in the To know my foot-steps, in these tymes, too-wise ; bonfire assembled at a convenient and contiguous emiO guyde my course! and let mee no more moue

The fire was kindled with many expressions of On wings of sense, where wandring pleasure flyes. joy. Large fires are, among many nations, expressions I haue gone wrong and erred; but ah, alas !

of national rejoicings; and it is well known that in very What can I else doe in this dungeon dark ?

large tracts of Asia, fire was not only employed in reli

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

nence,

gious ceremonies, but was itself held in veneration, and “ From such a variety of charms, as were in use with obtained divine honours.

regard to the latter of these, I shall only mention two or “ But, that I may not digress from my subject, when three; for every person made choice of one or of another, the ancient Caledonians had, with many gesticulations according to their courage or inclination. and mirth, attended their fire till it was spent, every per “ One mode of knowing the appearance and figure of son in the company got a small stone, such as they could their future spouse was this. The person went to a barn, conveniently carry in one hand, and distinguishable by which must have two opposite doors. Both doors were some particular mark, that each stone might be easily opened. A riddle was taken, into which a piece of money known from every other stone. The oldest person laid was thrown; no matter whether a coin, or brooch, or down the first stone upon the very verge or circumfer piece of plate. The person began immediately to riddle ence of the ashes of their fire, saying to the rest that this the silver, in the name of the Evil Spirit, or of the Worst stone was his. All the rest were prepared to do the Man, as he is commonly called in Gaelic. During this same, and took precedency according to their seniority, transaction the figure of a person cáme in, and took the until the whole stones formed a circle round the spot on riddle from the person who was employed; and this which the fire had burnt. And if any person was ab vision was understood to have the exact figure, and stasent, the rest put in a stone for their absent friend. This ture, and appearance of the future spouse. was generally done by the nearest relation of the absentee. “ I am not very superstitious, nor much inclined to

“ Whether this circle of stones was in imitation of the give credit to tales about hobgoblins ; yet I cannot forcircles of stones at which they usually assembled for their bear to mention what a man of veracity told me not long ordinary and regular worship, or whether it was in imi ago, about this very charm, that had happened to people tation of the roundness of their fire, or out of respect to with whom he was intimate in his youth. the circular appearance of the sun, the great fountain of “ My author lived then in his grand-uncle's house. fire, I will not pretend to say. It is probable, that both His grand-uncle's servant went to the barn, to riddle the the circle of stones in their ordinary places of worship, silver, upon All-Hallow Even. There came in the figure and the circle of stones upon All-Hallow Eve, and many of a woman, who took a faint hold of the riddle, but not other circles they made, were with an allusion to the so as to take it out of his hand. He continued still to figure of the sun.

riddle, and there came another female apparition, and “ To this day, when the Highlanders go round any passed in the same manner. Immediately thereafter thing with a degree of religious veneration, they go round there came in four people, carrying a coffin on a bier, in in the same direction as the sun goes round the world on the ordinary way used at funerals, and passed through this side the equator, i. e. from east to west, by the south the barn. He was so terrified, that he started back till side. This is the direction in which a bride is placed by this procession passed away. But before he could make her bridegroom, when they stand up to be married ; the his escape, the figure of a third woman came in, and took direction in which the bridegroom turns round the bride the riddle from him. He left the barn instantly, and to give the first kiss after the nuptial ceremony; the di came to the dwelling-house in great terror and agitation. rection in which they go at least half round a grave be The person who told me was at that moment in the fore the coffin is deposited; the direction in which they house. The master of the family examined his servant go round any consecrated fountain, whose waters are sup- strictly, in the presence of all, where he had been—what posed to have some medicinal virtues, which they expect he had been about-and if he had seen any thing. The to receive by immersion or drinking. I have heard it servant told every circumstance as above narrated. The said that, in certain places of the Highlands, the people old man replied, “ You shall be three times married, and sometimes took off their bonnets to the sun when he ap- you have already seen the funeral of your two first peared first in the morning.

wives.' “I ask your pardon for leaving my subject for this The man was actually married three times buried custom, which they call the lucky or fortunate way of two of his wives--and died himself before the last wife. turning round, and the opposite direction, the ominous “ However incredible this story may appear, I see no or unfortunate way.

way to overturn it, unless we suppose that the whole “I at least gave time to the good people to return from family had conspired to tell a lie; and, even then, it is the bonfire to their houses, which they did with much still surprising that they could devise a lie which should anxiety. The person whose stone was turned out of its correspond exactly to all the circumstances of the man's place, and the tread of whose foot was to be found in the three marriages, and the two funerals, long before any of ashes next morning, was supposed to be doomed to die them took place. before the end of twelve months. No person went near “I have heard of other adventures of this nature, that haunted place all night; but by the break of day it where a woman went to riddle in the barn, and the was approached with awe, and every circumstance sup- apparitions of men came in, with the clothes wet or posed to be of importance relative to the stones and ashes bloody ; and these women's husbands are said to have examined with care.

been drowned or killed. But I never could trace infor. “All this I have seen myself; and there is not one mation, which appeared to be so suspicious, till it rested on particular omitted where the ceremony is understood to any thing like proper evidence of the fact. I have only be duly performed, or to have any efficacy in divination. / heard from those who had heard it from others.

“I have heard it supported by very respectable and “III. Another practice is, that a person goes to the repeated tradition, that this bonfire was the extinguish- fold upon that night, and takes some wool from a black ing of the old or unhallowed fire, upon All-Saints Eve, sheep. The wool is spun immediately by the person, in the times of the Druids; and that upon the next without speaking a word to any other. The person then morning the people applied to their priests for holy or goes to a common kiln for drying victual. The clew is consecrated fire, the virtues of which new fire were to thrown down, in the same name as before, into the pot last for one year and no longer.

of the kiln; and the person begins to wind up the yarn, “II. After the ceremony of the bonfire was over, and till the end below be held fast. Then the person asks, all the stones laid in the order mentioned, the young Who holds my clew? The answer, from below, an. people's next care was to use certain charms, and to in nounces the name and surname of the future spouse. dulge their curiosity in trying to know the persons or I have seen or heard of many other modes of trying to names of their future spouses. The whole of their divi- know future events upon All Hallow Evening, especially nations seem to refer to their deaths or marriages, which with regard to marriage ; such as a stone, taken from a are certainly two very important grounds of concern to rivulet making a boundary between two estates, and from people, in all ages, and in every stage of society.

a ford where living and dead do pass--gall cut with the

teeth by a person blind-fold and dumbấthe first egg of 1818, Dr Jamieson published the first part of the second a young hen, baked into a cake, with one shellful of soot, volume of the Society's Transactions. In 1819, Mr Skene another of meal, and a third of salt, all properly mixed of Rubislaw was requested to become curator of the together. This extraordinary cake must be dressed by a museum, and undertake its arrangement.

This duty fire made of straw taken from the cradle of a woman's cost him six months of daily attendance. By his indefirst son. Besides, I have heard of some other charms, fatigable exertions, a degree of interest was excited in which I forbear even to mention, as not worthy of your the members. Still the literary communications to the notice. I suspect that I have tired you sufficiently Society were comparatively few and uninteresting. In already, and must crave your forgiveness. Yet, however 1822, the late Mr Thomas Kinnear was appointed secreridiculous these may appear to us, they certainly were tary, to whom Dr Hibbert was soon after associated in instituted with very serious intentions at first, and were office. The doctor's duties were limited to the charge of invented from the keen desire that mankind have of pry- finding a supply of papers for every evening that the ing into futurity. And I do think that they are just as members sat. For two years this was no sinecure, but good, and were certainly as useful, as Virgil's Charm of at last the contagion of his example, and bis judicious knots and colours : Necte tribus nodis ternos, Amarylli, encouragement, encouraged some of the younger memcolores.'

bers to lend their aid. From that time no dearth of “In the Highlands of Perthshire, and no doubt in papers has been experienced, nor is it likely that, under many other inland parts of the country, these practices its present active and intelligent management, the Soprevailed much even since the middle of this century ; ciety will be allowed again to degenerate. Considerable but they are now wearing out of use.

advantage has been derived to the Institution from the “I forget how much or how little of this corresponds transference of its museum and meetings to the elegant with the hasty note I left at Drummond Castle, or whe- and commodious apartments it now occupies in the buildther any or all of it be the same. All I recollect about ing on the Mound. it is, that it related to Ballteen, which is the Fire of While on the subject of the Antiquarian Society, the Ball, and to Hallow-Evening; and that I took notice of mind is led by an easy transition to the state of our Edinsome of the allusions practised in the Highlands to the burgh literary and scientific societies in general, and to the sacrifices of the one, and to the divinations of the other, suggestion of the enquiry whether their union as classes of these two great Druidical festivals.--I have the honour of one great National Institute, might not be productive to be, &c.,

of the best consequences? The Antiquarian Society is,

JAMES ROBERTSON." as we have seen, highly active and efficacious. The WerThe historical sketch of the condition of the Society nerian is, we know, about to take a fresh start. The Royfrom the year 1784 to 1830, compiled, in conformity to

al Society, although its literary class has been allowed to an injunction of the council, by Dr Hibbert and Mr D. fall into utter abeyance, and although the whole of its Laing, reads an important lesson to literary Societies of proceedings have for some time back been characterised all kinds. In 1781, the prospects of the society were

by a degree of torpor and want of interest, includes among so promising, that the members thought themselves war

its members a strong host of talent. The Board of Trusranted to purchase a house. The old post-office in the tees, there is every reason to hope, will soon cease to exCowgate was accordingly bought for the sum of L. 1000. ist; but its collection of statues would, we have no doubt, So dilatory and reluctant, however, were the members to under necessary restrictions, be confided to the charge of come forward with their subscriptions, that after strug- the gentlemen of the Royal Institution, who might, by ingling for some years, the house was resold, as being the corporating them with their young picture gallery, ren

All these differcause of incurring expenses beyond what the Society's der the Academy yet more important. funds could bear, and the aspiring body was forced to

ent bodies united, upon some plan kindred in spirit, but retire to comparative obscurity in a land in the Canon not servilely copied from the Institute of France-instigate.

gating each other at once by co-operation and emulation, From this period down to the year 1811, the Society's might achieve much for science and literature. No one proceedings are a blank, or worse. A number of mem

who is acquainted with the history of literature and scibers had been admitted who were either unable or un

ence in Edinburgh, can be ignorant of the impulse given willing to take part in the literary business of the Insti. to them by the Royal Society when first instituted. The tution, and who gave no other indications of their con

rising talent of the country. would catch fresh vigour nexion with the Society, than by ebullitions of a trifling from this wider reunion. The fresh spring of mind and factious spirit in all discussions of its financial ar

which the whole land is taking, would display itself

also

This rangements. The museum of the society was also allowed

in the departments of art, science, and literature. to languish in neglect. There was not sufficient room

is a matter of no common concern at the present moment. for its arrangement in their hired apartments, and many

There can be no more unhealthy and feverish temper of articles were relegated to the abode of the Society's secre

the public mind than that in which its attention is extary, himself a collector. At his death, in 1793, it was clusively concentrated upon political discussion. The free found impossible to identify much of the Society's pro- conflict of opinion in such questions is necessary to the perty. Under the joint influence of languor and faction strengthening and invigorating of the public mind, but it

At such little was to be expected. Meetings were seldom held, is highly deleterious when administered alone. donations sparingly made---papers or communications

a crisis as the present, it is more than ever necessary rarely produced. From December 10th, 1810, to Decem- that every encouragement should be given to the apostles ber 14th, 1811, only five ineetings were held, at four of of science, and the national reward will be as its liberality which the only business transacted' was the reading of towards them in a tenfold proportion. the minutes, and 'a inotion for adjournment in conse

Returning to the more immediate subject of this artiquence of the small attendance of members, diversified on

cle, we have only to add that a reprint of the second part one occasion by the notification of the resignation of an

of the second volume of the Society's Transactions accomordinary member. At the other 'meeting, the secretary panies the present publication, and that the illustrations certified that no individual 'save himself had appeared. of the work are highly creditable. Amid all this inactivity, the anniversary meetings for the election of members and office-bearers continued to be Atherton ; a Tale of the Last Century. By the Author tolerably well attended.

of “ Rank and Talent,” &c. In three volumes. LonA reaction began to take place about the year 1814. don. Simpkin and Marshall. 1831. The chief agents were, Sir Henry Jardine, Sir George This is a story of the days of Wilkes and liberty. Mackenzie, Dr Jamieson, and Mr Thomas Allan. Ini The author does not show much either of power or depth

« 上一頁繼續 »