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guessed to be Jeffrey's favourite. It is impossible to conceive of him as being a lover of the genuine old black-strap, or even of the quiet balminess of Burgundy. The true reviewing diet is certainly Champaigne, and devilled biscuit. Had there been any blue stocking lady present, she would have been sadly shocked with the material cast of the conversation during dinner—not a single word about
" The sweet new poern!" Most of the company, though all men of literary habits, seemed to be as alive to the delights of the table as if they had been “ let in,” (to use Dandie's phrase,) by Mons. Viard;—knowing in sauces, and delightfully reviewing every glass before they would suffer it to go down.
“The introduction of the claret and desert, made, for a long time, very little alteration in the subject matter of the discourse; but by degrees, the natural feelings and interests the company did begin to shine through the cloud of babillage; and various matters, in which I was much better pleased to hear their opinions were successively tabled-none of them, however, with the least appearance of what the Scotch very expressively forethought. Every thing went on with the utmost possible facility, and, in general, with a very graceful kind of lightness. The whole tone of Mr. J's own conversation, indeed, was so pitched, that a proser, or a person at all ambitious, in the green-room phrase, to make an effect, would undoubtedly have found himself most grievously out of place. Amidst all this absence of “preparation," however, (for it is impossible to talk of conversation without using French words)— I have never, I believe, heard so many ideas thrown out by any man in so short a space of time, and apparently with such entire negation of exertion. His conversation acted upon me like the first delightful hour after taking opium. The thoughts he scattered so readily about him (his words, rapid, and wonderfully rapid as they are, appearing to be continually panting after his conceptions)—his thoughts, I say, were at once so striking, and so just, that they took, in succession, entire possession of my imagination, and yet with so felicitous a tact did he forbear from ex. pressing any one of these too fully, that the reason was always kept in a pleasing kind of excitement, by the endeavour, more thoroughly to examine their bearings. It is quite impossible to listen to him for a moment, without recalling all the best qualities of his composition and yet I suspect his conversation is calculated to leave one with even a higher idea of his mind, at least of his fertility, than the best of his writings. I have heard some men display more profoundness of reflection, and others a much greater command of the conversational picturesque-but I never before witnessed any thing to be compared with the blending together of apparently little consistent powers in the whole strain of his discoursel. Such a power, in the first place, of throwing away at once
every useless part of the idea to be discussed, and then such a happy redundancy of imagination, to present the essential and reserved part in its every possible relation, and point of view; and all this, connected with so much of the plain sçavoir vivre of actual existence, and such a thorough scorn of mystification, it is really a very wonderful intellectual coalition. The largeness of the views suggested by his speculative understanding, and the shrewdness with which his sound'and close judgment seems to scrutinize them after they are suggested-these alone would be sufficient to make his conversation one of the most remarkable things in the world. But then he invests all this ground-work with such a play of fancy, wit, sarcasm, persiflage, every thing except humour-which again, were they united in any person entirely devoid either of the depth or the justness of J-'s intellect, would unquestionably render that person one of the most fascinating of all possible companions. The stagyrite, who places his summum bonum in having one's faculties kept at work, would certainly have thought himself in Elysium, had he been so fortunate as to discuss a flask of Chian in company with Mr. J
The mere animal spirits of the man, are absolutely miraculous. When one considers what a life of exertion he has led for these last twenty years, how his powers have been kept on the rack such a length of time, with writing, and concocting, and editing reviews on the one hand, and briefs, and speeches, and journeys, and trials, and cross-questionings, and the whole labyrinth of barristership on the other, one cannot help being quite thunderstruck on finding that he has still reserved such a large fund of energy which he can afford and delight to lavish, when even the comparative repose of his mind would be more than enough to please and satisfy every one. His vigour seems to be a perfect widow's cruise, bubbling for ever upwards, and refusing to be exhausted-swelling and spreading-till all the vessels of the neighbourhood are saturated, and more than saturated with the endless, unwearied irrigation of its superfluous richness.'
There is a very minute and lively description of the triennial dinner in honour of the memory of Burns; how much of it is fiction, and how much is fact, we cannot, at this distance, decide; but the following anecdote, one cannot help hoping is true.
A gentleman who proposed one of these toasts, mentioned a little anecdote, which gave infinite delight to all present, and which will do so to you. After the last of these triennial meetings, a pension of 50l. per annum was settled on Mrs. Burns, by a Scotish gentleman of large fortune, Mr. Maule of Panmure. 'One of the sons of the poet, however, has since that time gone out to India in a medical capacity; and being fortunate enough to obtain a situation of some little emolument, the first use he made of his success was to provide for his mother, in such a way as enabled her to de
cline any farther continuance of Mr. Maule's bounty--conduct, as was well said, “worthy of the wife and son of the high-souled Burns"-one who, in spite of all his faults, and all his difficulties, contrived, in the true spirit of proud independence, to owe no mun any thing when he died.'
Peter's account of the university, accords with the reports of some of our countrymen who have visited Edinburgh; it is certainly all sober truth, and is not a little remarkable, considering the high claims of the Scotch to superiority in literature of every
In the society among which I have lived since my arrival here, (and I assure you its circle has been by no means a very confined one,) I am convinced there are very few subjects about which so little is said or thought, as the university of Edinburgh. I rather think that a well educated stranger, who had no previous knowledge that an university had its seat in this place, (if we can suppose the existence of such a person,) might sojourn in Edinburgh for many weeks without making the discovery for himself. And yet, from all that I can hear, the number of resident members of this university, is seldom below two thousand, and among those by whom their education is conducted, there are unquestionably some, whose names, in whatever European university they might be placed, could not fail to be regarded as among the most illustrious of its ornaments.
"The first and most obvious cause of the smallness of attention attracted to the university of Edinburgh, is evidently the want of any academical dress. There are no gownsmen here, and this circumstance is one which, with our Oxford ideas, would alone be almost sufficient to prove the non-existence of an university. This, however, is a small matter after all, and rather an effect than a cause. The members of the university do not reside, as ours do, within the walls of the colleges; they go once or twice, as it may happen, to hear a discourse pronounced by one of their professors; but beyond this, they have little connection of any kind with the locale of the academical buildings; and it follows very naturally, that they feel themselves to have, comparatively, a very slight connection with academical life. They live in their father's houses, (for a great proportion of them belong to the city itself,) or they inhabit in whatever part of the city they please; and they dine alone or together, just as it suits them; they are never compelled to think of each other beyond the brief space of the day in which they are seated in the same lecture room; in short, the whole course and tenor of their existence is unacademical; and by persons thinking and living in a way so independent of each other, and so dispersed among the crowds of a city such as Edinburgh, any such badges of perpetual distinction, as our cap and gown, could scarcely fail to be regarded as very absurd and disagreeable incumbrances. The want of these, however, has its disadvantages as well as its advantages, even in regard to their own individual comfort. So far as I comprehend the first part of the general system of university education in this place, it is as follows. The students enter at 14, 15, or even much earlier-exactly as used to be the case in our own universities two centuries ago; for I remember it is mentioned in lord Herbert, of Cherbury's Memoirs, (and that too, as a matter by no means out of the common course,) that he was not twelve years old when he came to reside at Oxford. When they enter, they are far less skilled in Latin, than boys of the same age at any of our great schools; and with the exception of those educated at one particular school in Edinburgh, they have no Greek. Their acquisition of these languages is not likely to be very rapid under the professors of Greek and Latin, to whose care the uni. versity entrusts them; for each of these gentlemen has to do with a class of at least two hundred pupils; and in such a class, it would be impossible to adopt, with the least effect, any other method of teaching than that by formal prælections. Now, of all ways, this is the least adapted for seizing and commanding the attention of a set of giddy urchins, who, although addressed by the name of “gentlemen," are, in fact, as full of the spirit of boyish romping, as at any previous period of their lives. A slight attempt is sometimes made to keep alive their attention, by examining them the one day, concerning what they had heard on the other; and this plan, I understand, begins to be carried into execution, in a more regular way than heretofore. But it is not possible to examine so great a number of boys, either very largely or very closely, and I should be very apprehensive, that their many temptations to idleness, must in general overcome, with little difficulty, this one slender stimulus to exertion.
"As for the professors of these languages, the nature of the duties which they perform, of course reduces them to something quite different from what we should understand by the name they bear. They are not employed in assisting young men to study, with greater facility or advantage, the poets, the historians, or the philosophers of antiquity; nay, it can scarcely be said, in any proper meaning of the term,
that they are employed in teaching the principles of language. They are schoolmasters, in the strictest sense of the word-for their time is spent in laying the very lowest part of the foundation, on which a superstructure of erudition must be reared. A profound and accomplished scholar may, at times, be found discharging these duties, but most assuredly there is no need either of depth or of elegance, to enable him to discharge them as well as the occasion requires. The truth is, however, that very few men give themselves the trouble to become fine scholars, without being pushed on by many kinds of stimulus, and I know of no very powerful stimulus, within the action of which these gentlemen are placed. They have not the ambition and delight of
making their pupils fine scholars,-feelings, which in England, are productive of so many admirable results—because the system of the university is such, that their pupils are hurried out of their hands long before they could hope to inspire them with any thing like a permanent love for studies attended with so many difficulties. Nay, they have not the ambition and delight of elevating themselves to a high and honourable rank in public estimation, by their own proficiency in classical lore; for this is the only country in civilized Europe, (whatever may be the cause of the phenomenon) wherein attainments of that kind are regarded with a very slender degree of admiration. How this may have happened, I know not; but the fact is certain, that for these two hundred years, Scotland has produced no man of high reputation, whose fame rested, or rests, upon what we call classical learning; nor, at the present day, does she possess any one who might be entitled to form an exception to this rule of barrenness.
* Before these boys, therefore, have learned Latin enough to be able to read any Latin author with facility, and before they have learned Greek enough to enable them to understand any one line in any one Greek book in existence, they are handed over to the professor of logic, rhetoric, and belles-lettres, quasi jam linguaram satis periti. You and I know well enough, that it is no trifling matter to acquire any thing like a mastery, a true and effectual command, over the great languages of antiquity; we well remember how many years of busy exertion it cost us in boy-hood, yes, and in manhood too, before we found ourselves in a condition to make any complete use of the treasures of wit and wisdom to which these glorious languages are the keys. When we then are told that the whole of the classical part of Scotish academical education is completed within the space of two years, and this with boys of the age I have mentioned, there is no occasion for saying one word more about the matter. We see and know, as well as if we had examined every lad in Edinburgh, that not one of them who has enjoyed no better means of instruction than these, can possibly know any thing more than the merest and narrowest rudiments of classical learning. This one simple fact is a sufficient explanation, not only of the small advances made by the individuals of this nation, in the paths of erudition, strictly so called—but of much that is peculiar, and if one may be permitted to say so, of much that is highly disagreeable too, in the general tone of the literature wherein the national mind is, and has been expressed. It shows, at once, the origin of much that distinguishes the authors of Scotland, not from those of England alone, but from those of all the other nations of Europe.- I do not mean that which honourably distinguishes them, (for of such distinction also they have much) but that which distinguishes them in a distressing and degrading manner—their ignorance of the great models of antiquity; nay, the irreverent spirit in which they have the audacity. to speak