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MR. JAMES MEIKLE.
THERE are perhaps few persons who have perused an author's writings with much pleasure and advantage, who feel not a desire to know the character and history of one who has contributed so largely to their entertainment and instruction. The biography, therefore, of favourite authors, if not barren of incidents, or awkwardly executed, is a species of writing which will always be well received. It introduces us to familiarity with persons whom we are disposed to revere, and exhibits our instructors in the interesting light of acquaintances and friends. Besides, when we find, by authenticated records of their life, that they were good men, we sit down to the perusal of their writings with the most favourable dispositions for deriving benefit from what we read, and are edi. fied by the pleasing persuasion that they livecl as they wrote, and felt on their own hearts the inestimable value of that religion which they so clearly teach, and $0 Warmly recommend.
The writings of few men require information respecting their author more than those of Mr. Meikle. They consist chiefly of short, detached essays, written in haste, and commonly finished at one sitting; or are a record of the impressions made on bis mind at the instant by the objects with which he was surrounded, or the incidents which had occurred. They' seldom assume a didactic form, or professa regular discussion of any particular point: they rather express the author's own persuasion and feelings on the subject, the resolutions of duty which, under their influence, he formed, or the hopes by which he was animated. A knowledge of the man becomes necessary, therefore, not only to enable us to appreciate his merits as a writer, but to qualify us for understanding many passages of his writings, or at least for entering fully into his sentiments and feelings.
How far the following account of Mr. Meikle will contribute either to the entertainment or the edification of those who may be pleased to peruse it; the writer of it is unable to predict. He can say, however, with confidence, that he has not been deficient in his inquiries respecting his author, and that although in several instances his diligence has been unsuccessful, in others it has been rewarded by discoveries which he hopes have-not been unprofitable to himself, and which may, through the divine blessing, be useful to others. He has presumed to affirm nothing at ranclom, or on mere conjecture, and the principal source from which his information has been drawn, is a variety of memorandums and loose papers found in the author's own repositories.
MR.JAMES MEIKLE was born at Carnwath, a village in the upper part of Clydesdale, on the 19th of May, Q. S. 1730. It was his uniform custom, during at
least the last forty years of his life, to observe the anniversary of his birth ; and the 30th of May, N. S. appears frequently, both in his published and manuscript papers, as a season in which he sought retirement from thc world, and devoted the hours which he could command frorn business to grateful recollections of the care of Providence, to the review of his past Jifc, to meditation on death, and preparation for eternity. This method of commemorating the day of his entrance on life, he justly considers as more suited to the condition of a creature who is born to die, and who expects to live after death, than the methods which are more generally in use; and he recommeuds it to others, from the conviction that it had not been withiout profii to himself.
His father, Mr. George Meikle, appears to have been a very pious, but a very poor man. He practised at Carnwath as a surgeon and druggist ; but his business, at that period, in a poor and thinly-peopled country, cannot be supposed to have yielded such profits as to enable him with ease to support a family of ten children, the greater part of whom were delicate, and cut off before their aged parent. Besides, the small savings of a very insufficient income were unprofitably wasicd in honest, but unsuccessful attempts to obtain possession of a considerable property in the neighborhood of Hamilton, of which he appears to have been rightful heir; and debts were contracted which bore very heavy on him in the decline of life, when the necessities of his family increased, and, through his frequent incapacity to visit patients at a distance, his means of supplying them diminished. It cannot now serve any valuable purpose to be more particular on this subject. The estate is in the indisputable possession of another family, although the
greater part of the titles are still in the possession of Mr. Meikle's descendants. It is only proper to remark, that various attempts were made by his son to recover it, which excited hopes, and issued in disappointments, to which the accurate reader of his writings will observe many allusions; and to add, that the loss or abstraction of an essential paper defeated all his at, tempts, till it became too late to disturb the possessor by challenging his right.
James, the subject of this Memoir, was the fifth child of the family, three sons and a daughter having been born before him. When reviewing the care of Providence over hini, he remarks, that his life during infancy was often in jeopardy, and piously adopts the-Psalmist's words, “ I am as a wonder unto many; my, praise shall be continually of thee.” At the age of four, he narrowly escaped perishing in a deep well into which he had fallen; and besides, he suffered so severely, and was so enfeebled by the small.pox, measles, chincough, and other diseases incident to childhood, that it was not till the ninth year of his age that he could be sent to school. Of this early period of his life, he observes, in one of his papers, that he can recollect little, except that his parents had taught him to pray twice a day; that he thought even bis childish games would not go right with him, if he should neglect his prayers ; and that therefore, when it occurred to him at play that he had omitted them, be sometimes broke off from bis companions, and after having said them, returned with more confidence to his amusements. He expresses his gratitude to his parents for their instructions, and warmly recommends it to others to teach their children to pray; but not, withstanding this symptom, as some would style it, of qarly pięty, produced by their means, he states it as