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to believe that it could reform the The facts themselves are altogether world. In a land where the tenden- singular, arguing a depravity quite cy to the romantic and the mysterious unexampled in all the votaries of illuseems so general, that even philosophy mination. From the perusal of the and science have not escaped the whole, it is impossible not to con. infection, and in states where there, clude, that the alarm excited by the is much that requires amendment, it French Revolution had produced in is not wonderful if associations have Mr Robison a degree of credulity been formed for redressing grievances, which was not natural to him, The and reforming both religion and go- suspicion with which he seems to view vernment. Some men, truly philan- every person on the continent, to thropic, and others, merely profligate, whom the name of a philosopher can may have joined in this combination; be applied, and the terms of reproach the former, very erroneously, suppo- and contempt to which, whether as sing, that the interests of truth and of individuals or as bodies, they are al. mankind may be advanced by cabal ways subjected, make it evident that and intrigue; and the latter more the narrative is not impartial, and that wisely concluding, that these are en- the author was prepared, in certain gines well adapted to promote the dis- cases, to admit the slightest presumpsemination of error, and the schemes tion as clear and irrefragable evidence. of private aggrandizement. An ex- When, indeed, he speaks of such oo. Jesuit may have been the author of scure men as composed the greater this plan, and whether he belonged part of the supposed conspirators, we to the former or the latter class, may have no direct means of determining have chosen for the model of the new in what degree he has been misled. arrangement, those institutions which But when we see the same sort of he knew from experience to be well suspicion and abuse directed against adapted for exercising a strong but the best known and most justly celesecret influence in the direction of brated characters of the age, we canhuman affairs.
not but lament the prejudices which In all this there is nothing incre- had taken possession of an understanddible; but the same, I think, cannot ing in other matters so acute and pebe asserted, when the particulars are netrating.' examined in detail. It is extremely difficult, as has already been remark Mr Robison's last undertaking was ed, for a foreigner, in such circum- that of editing the Lectures of Di stances as Mr Robison's, to avoid de. Black, a philosopher who, while he lusion, or to determine between the had advanced the science of chemistry different kinds of testimony of which in the most remarkable manner, had he must make use. With me, who never communicaled, even his most have no access to the orignal docu- favourite discoveries, through the ments, and, if I had, who have neither medium of the press. It was a very leisure nor inclination to examine difficult task to prepare for publica. them, an opinion can only be formed tion mere notes which had been thrown from the internal evidence, that is, together with the sole view to oral from the nature of the facts, and the delivery. This difficulty was increased style in which they are recorded. by the complete revolution which had The style of the works from which taken place in the science of chemisMr Robison composed his narrative, try, the very language of which, in is not such as to inspire confidence; the hands of Lavoisier, had undergone for, wherever it is quoted, it is that an entire change.' Dr Black had of an angry and inflated invective. adopted the new nomenclature, but
kad not incorporated it into his notes. his life, it is impossible not to see in Unfortunately Mr Robison entertain him a man of extraordinary powers, ed a strong prejudice against this no- who had enjoyed great opportunities menclature. He considered it as part for improvement, and had never failof the French revolutionary system:, ed to turn them to the best account. and viewed it with similar abhorrence He possessed many accomplishments as the guillotine and the conscription. rarely to be met with in a scholar, or He then made no attempt to remedy a man of science. He had great skill this defect in Dr Black's lectures, and taste in music, and was a perwhich served, in consequence, to shew former on several instruments. He the progress of the writer's discoveries, was an excellent draughtsman, and but did not exhibit the existing state could make his pencil a valuable inof the science of chemistry.
strument either of record or inven. Mr Robison's last work was one on tion. When a young man, he was which he had bestowed peculiar atten- gay, convivial, and facetious, and his tion, and which contained the substance vers de société flowed, I have been of all his observations and inquiries; it told, easily, and with great effect. His is entitled, “ Elements of Mechanical appearance and manner were in a Philosophy, being the Substance of a high degree favourable and imposing; course of Lectures on that Science." his figure handsome, and his face exThe first volume only was published, pressive of talent, thought, gentle. and contained Aynamics and Astro ness, and good temper. When I had nomy. Though held in the highest first the pleasure to become acquaintestimation by men of science, it has ed with him, the youthful turn of his not been a popular work with the countenance and manners was begin. public-a circumstance not very cre- ning to give place to the grave and ditable to the scientific character of serious cast, which he early assumed; the present age.
and certainly I have never met with Mr Robison had long laboured un. any one whose appearance and conder a malady of a very severe and pe versation were more impressive than culiar nature, consisting in the most bis were at that period. intense pain ; situated in a quarter Indeed his powers of conversation where no medicine could act, and were very extraordinary, and when where it was impossible even to as. exerted, never failed of producing a certain the cause of the complaint. great effect. An extensive and acThis malady, which continued with. curate information of particular facts, out any complete intermission for and a facility of combining them innineteen years, made no abatement to general and original view's, were in his ardour for study, though it oc- united in a degree of which I casionally disqualified him from teach. am persuaded there have been few ing his class, when his place was ably examples. Accordingly, he would supplied by the Rev. Dr Macknight. go over the most difficult subjects, But at last his constitution entirely and bring out the most profound regave way, and after a short but vio- marks, with an ease and readiness lent illness of two days, he died on the which was quite sin, ular. The depth end of January 1803. Mr Playfair of his observations seemed to cost him concludes with the following inter. nothing; and when he said any thing esting view of his character both in particularly striking, you never could private life, and as a man of science. discover any appearance of the self
satisfaction so common on such occaOn reviewing the whole of his sions. He was disposed to pass quite character, and the circumstances of readily from one subject to another ;
the the transition was a matter of course, what is new becomes of course so and he had perfectly, and apparently mixed up with the old and the known, without seeking after it, that light that it is not easily distinguished.and easy turn of conversation, even Many of Mr Robison's articles in the on scientific and profound subjects, in E:2yclopædia Britannica are full of which we of this island are charged new and original views, which will by our neighbours with being so ex- only strike those who study them tremely deficient.
particularly, and have studied them • The same facility, and the same in other books. In Seamanship, for general tone, was to be seen in his example, there are many such re. lectures and his writings. He com- marks; the fruit of that knowledge posed with singular facility and cor- of principle which be combined with rectness, but was sometimes, when he so much experience and observation. had leisure to be so, very fastidious Carpentry, Ron, and many more, af. about his own compositions.
ford examples of the same kind. The In the intercourse of life, he was publication now under the manage. benevolent, disinterested, and friend. ment of Dr Brewster, will place his ly, and of sincere and unaffected scientific character higher than it has piety. In his interpretation of the ever been with any but those who conduct of others, he was fair and were personally acquainted with him. liberal, while his mind retained its With them, nothing can add to be natural tone, and had not yielded to esteem which they felt for his ir nits the alarms of the French Revolution, and worth, or to the respect in which and to the bias which it produced. they now hold his memory.
His range in science was most extensive; he was familiar with the whole circle of the accurate sciences, and there was no part of them on II. Guy Mannering; or the Astrolowhich, if you heard him speak or lec- ger. By the Author of IP averley. Iure, you would not have pronounced 3 vols. Svo. £.115. Couit to be his fort, or a subject which stable & Co. 1815. he had studied with more than ordi. nary attention. Indeed, the rapidity CIRCUMSTANCES have prevented us with which his understanding went
from noticing this work, till its to work, and the extent of ground he rapid circulation nust have made it seemed to have got over, while others pass through the hands perhaps of were only preparing to enter on it, every reader of this miscellany. We were the great features of bis intellec- could not, however, leave a work so tual character. In these he has rare. peculiarly and justly interesting to ly been exceeded. With such an Scottish readers, without some parti. assemblage of talents, with a mind so lar notice. This might seem indeed happily formed for science, one might the less necessary, as we examined at have expected to find in bis writings some length Waverley, to which this more of original investigation, more bears a character so completely simiworks of discovery and invention. I lar, as to render the annunciation on must remark, however, that from the the title page superfluous to prove turn his speculations and compositions the author's identity. The two works, took, or rather received from circum- however, are in some respects quite stances, we are apt to overlook what different. They relate to a different is new and original in a great part of region, to a somewhat different age, them. An article in a Dictionary of and to a race of mortals as completeScience must contain a system, and ly distinct, as if they had been placed
at the opposite extremities of the these opposite qualities blend so harglobe. The present relates not to moniously, as to produce a character the inhabitants of the mountain dis as natural as is striking and pecutricts of Scotland, but entirely to the liar. Next to Meg is Dominic Samplowlands, particularly their southern son—a character which, though cardivisions, as they existed thirty or ried a good deal beyond nature, afforty years ago, while subsiding from fords occasion for many ludicrous and the tumult of half - civilized times, several interesting scenes. To these and border warfare, into their pre we may add Dandy Dinmont, a borsent tranquil and orderly state. The der sheep-farmer, who admirably respectacle exhibited is not so striking, presents a numerous race, not wholly novel, or commanding. It partakes extinct; bold, frank, and rough ; more of the character of common na whose situation in a district still unture, and of such events as have fal- used to the restraints of law, calls for len under our own observation. From a portion of the prowess of his ances. this, hoivever, it derives a charm tors, which he not unwillingly exerwhich was wanting to its more digni- cises. The subordinate scenes fied predecessor. It recalls a state of filled up by others, often very successthings, objects, and personages, such fully; but it is by these that the aas have been familiar to us, at a pe- musement of the piece is mainly supriod which we always delight in re. ported. calling. The interest, though not so In making a few extracts, we shall clevated, appears to us to be better begin with the first introduction of supported throughoat; the manners are Meg Merrilies, which is on occasion touched with a deeper and truer of Mr Bertram, on whose property character of nature. The characters she and her party found a shelter, are certainly the most extraordinary. being about to receive an addition to that ever entered into a work of this his family. description. We do not speak of Mannering himself, or of some ocher "Her appearance made Mannering ostensible personages, who are nearly start. She was full six feet high, formed upon the usual model, and wore a man's great-coat over the rest serve to give the work somewhat the of her dress, had in her hand a goodly aspect of an ordinary novel. But sloe thorn cudgel, and in all points of there is nothing very original or hap- equipment, except her petticoats, py in their delineation; and the inter- seemed rather masculine than femiest of the reader is engrossed by beings nine. Her dark elf-locks shot out of a quite different stamp. Among like the snakes of the gorgon, between these, wonderful to tell, the decided an old-fashioned bonnet called a Bonlead is taken by Meg Merrilies, an grace, heightening the singular effect. aged member of the fraternity of of her strong and weather-beaten gypsies. The picture is most striking, features, which they partiy shadowed, both in its individual features, and as while her eye had a wild roll that inrepresenting the manners of a class of dicated something like real or affectpeople formerly so common in this ed insanity. country. All the habits of vulgar “ Aweel, Ellangowan,” she said, life, a disregard of the laws and rules is wad it no hae been a bonnie thing, of society, with every kind of humilia an the leddy had been brought-toting appendage, are combined with a bed, and me at the fair o' Drumshourwild and untamed loftiness of senti- loch, no kenning nor dreaming a word ment, and an enthusiastic tenderness of about it? Wha was to hae keepit awa affection, rarely to be met with; and the worriecows, I trow? Aye, and Aug. 1815.
the elves and gyre carlings frae the example thus reprobated, and to ba. bonny bairn, grace be wil it? Aye, nish from his grounds this train of va. or said Saint Colme's charm for its gabond dependents. Returning home, sake, the dear?” And without wait, he meets them setting out on their ing an answer she begun to sing emigration.
• Trefoil, vervain, John's-wort, dill, Hinders witches of their will;
" It was in a hollow way, near the Weel is them, that weel may
top of a steep ascent upon the verge Fasç upon St Andrew's day.
of the Ellangowan estate, that Mr Saint Bride and her brat,
Bertram met the gypsy procession, Saint Colme and her cat,
Four or five men formed the advanced Saint Michael and his spear,
guard, wrapped in long loose great. Keep the house frae reif and weir.
çoals, that hid their tall slender This charm she sung to a wild tune, figures, as the large slouched hats, in a high and shrill voice, and, cut. drawn over their brows, concealed ting three capers with such strength their will features, dark eyes, and and agility as almost to touch the swarthy faces. Two of them carried roof of the room, concluded, “ And long fowling-pieces, one wore a broad now, Laird, will ye no order me a tass sword without a sheath, and all had o' brandy ?"
the Highland dirk, though they did " That you shall have, Meg-Sit not wear that weapon openly or os. down yont there at the door, and tell tentatiously. Behind them followed us what news ye have heard at the the train of laden asses, and small fair o' Drumshourloch."
carts, or tumblers, as they were called " Troth, Laird, and there was in that country, on which were laid muckle want o' you, and the like o' the decrepid and the helpless, the aged you; for there was a whin bonnie las- and infant part of the exiled commuses there, forbye mysell, and deil ane nity. The women in their red cloaks to gie them hansels,"
and straw hats, the elder children “Weel, Meg, and how mony gyp- with bare heads, and bare feet, and alsies were sent to the tolbooth?” most naked bodies, had the immediate
“ Troih, but three, Laird, for there care of the little caravan. The road were nae mair in the fair, bye mysell, was narrow, running between two as I said before, and I e'en gae them broken banks of sand, and Mr Berleg bail, for there's nae ease in deal. tram's servant rode forward, smacking ing with quarrelsome, folk. And his whip with an air of authority, there's Dunbog has warned the Red and motioning to their drivers to al. Rotten and John Young aff his grounds low free passage to their betters. His - black be his cast! he's nae gentle signal was unattended to. He then man, nor drap's bluid o gentleman, called to the men who lounged idly wad grudge twa gangrel puir bodies on before, “ Stand to your beasts the shelter o’ a waste house, and the heads, and make room for the Laird thristies by the road side for a bit cud- to pass." dy, and the bits o' rotten birk to boil “ He shall have his share of the their drap parridge wi'. Weel, there's road,” answered a male gypsy from ane abune a'-but we'll see if the under his slouched and large brimmed red cock craw not in his bonnie barn- hat, and without raising his face, yard ae morning before day daw. " and he shall have no more; the ing."
highway is as free to our cuddies as
to his gelding.” Mr Bertram, however, is induced, As he was about to turn his horse's by different motives, to follow the head to pursue his journey, Meg Mer