Page images


Sir Hew Dalrymple

after its production in several periodical publications, entirely unknown, however, to the present generation. The writer of the letter in question was Sir Hew Dalrymple, M.P. for the county of Haddington, grandson of the Lord President of the Court of Session, and great-grandfather of the present Baronet of North Berwick. It is addressed to Sir Laurence Dundas, ancestor of the present Earl of Zetland; and it is gratifying to know that although it failed in regard to the particular living applied for, it was the happy means of ultimately procuring a parish for the eloquent minister in whose behalf it was penned.


DEAR SIR,-Having spent a long life in pursuit of pleasure and health, I am now retired from the world in poverty and with the gout; so, joining with Solomon, that, 'all is vanity and vexation of spirit,' I go to church and say my prayers.

I assure you that most of us religious people reap some little satisfaction, in hoping that you wealthy voluptuaries have a fair chance of being damned to all eternity; and that Dives shall call out for a drop of water to Lazarus, one drop of which he seldom tasted, when he had the twelve Apostles1 in his cellar.

Now, sir, that doctrine being laid down, I wish to give

1 Twelve hogsheads of claret.

to Sir Laurence Dundas.


you, my friend, a loophole to creep through. Going to church last Sunday, as usual, I saw an unknown face in the pulpit, and rising up to prayers, as others do upon like occasions, I began to look around the church to find out if there were any pretty girls there, when my attention was attracted by the foreign accent of the parson. I gave him my attention, and had my devotion awakened by the most pathetic prayer I ever heard. This made me all attention to the sermon; a finer discourse never came from the lips of a man. I returned in the afternoon, and heard the same preacher exceed his morning work by the finest chain of reasoning, conveyed by the most eloquent expressions. I immediately thought of what Agrippa said to Paul, 'Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' I sent to ask the man of God to honour my roof, and dine with me. I asked him of his country, and what not; I even asked him if his sermons. were his own composition, which he affirmed they were ; I assured him I believed it, for never man had spoke or wrote so well. My name is Dishington,' said he. 'I am an assistant to an old minister in the Orkneys, who enjoys a fruitful benefice of £50 a year, out of which I am allowed £20 for preaching, and instructing 1200 people who live in two separate islands; out of which I pay £1, 5s. to the boatman who transports me from the one to the other. I should be happy could I continue in that terrestrial paradise; but we have a great Lord who has many little people soliciting him for many little things that he can do and that he cannot do; and if my minister dies, his succession is too great a prize not to raise up many powerful rivals to baulk my hopes of preferment.'

I asked him if he possessed any other wealth. 'Yes,' said he, 'I married the prettiest girl in the island; she has blessed me with three children, and as we are both young, we may expect more. Besides, I am so beloved


Highly-flavoured Language.

in the island, that I have all my peats brought home carriage free.'

This is my story,-now to the prayer of my petition. I never before envied you the possession of the Orkneys, which I now do only to provide for this eloquent innocent apostle. The sun has refused your barren isles his kindly influence, do not deprive them of so pleasant a preacher ; let not so great a treasure be for ever lost to that damned inhospitable country; for, I assure you, were the Archbishop of Canterbury to hear him, or hear of him, he would not do less than make him an archdeacon. The man has but one weakness, that of preferring the Orkneys to all the earth.

This way, and no other, you have a chance for salvation. Do this man good, and he will pray for you. This will be a better purchase than your Irish estate, or the Orkneys. I think it will help me forward too, since I am the man who told you of the man so worthy and deserving ; so pious, so eloquent, and whose prayers may do so much good.—Till I hear from you on this head, yours, in all meekness, love, and benevolence, H. D.

P.S.-Think what an unspeakable pleasure it will be, to look down from heaven, and see Rigby, Masterton, all the Campbells and Nabobs, swimming in fire and brimstone, while you are sitting with Whitefield and his old women, looking beautiful, frisking and singing; all which you may have by settling this man, after the death of the present incumbent.

Some of the more highly flavoured expressions in the preceding communication will probably remind the reader that even as late as the beginning of the present century the practice of swearing-now happily confined to a very

An Indignant Epistle.


limited section of the community—was by no means rare in the society of gentlemen. I have in my possession an irate letter, written in 1792, by a young military relative of my own, then residing in London, to his uncle in Scotland, wherein he gives the result of a court-martial at which he and two brother officers were most unjustly accused of various fraudulent transactions, by no less a personage than William Cobbett, who had formerly filled the office of sergeant-major in the regiment to which the three culprits' belonged. He thus proceeds :

[ocr errors]

'I can only now annex a copy of Sir Charles Gould's letter to me of the 2d inst., from which you will see that the three culprits have been most honourably acquitted, and which has since been approved by his Majesty. In my letter to P- of the 27th ult., I desired her to inform you that the villain who had exhibited the charges against us thought proper to disappear, though not till after he had put us to all the trouble and expense in his power. Report says he has gone to France, and I shall only add that I wish he was in hell, as he fully deserves a warm berth. He only gave in the names of forty-seven non-commissioned officers and privates of the regiment to Sir Charles Gould as his evidence to support him in the business, all of whom appeared at the Horse-Guards and before the court, not one of them having a word to say, nor did they know what brought them there. We were also obliged to have all or the greatest part of the officers here who came home with us, with upwards of


Published Correspondence.

twenty non-commissioned officers and privates; so you can easily judge what trouble the scoundrel has put us to on the occasion, for which I hope he will be damned.'

It must be acknowledged that the somewhat strong language of the indignant subaltern was, to a certain extent, justified by the utter falsity of the extraordinary charges-the motive for which I have been unable to discover.

Published Correspondence of Eminent

The published correspondence of eminent individuals holds a prominent place in modern literature.


Thus, in France, during the seventeenth century, we have the letters of Balzac, Voiture, and Madame de Sévigné; while in the following century in England, we can point to the correspondence of Pope, Swift, Addison, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Gray, Cowper, and Horace Walpole. To each of these distinguished letterwriters I propose to devote a few remarks.

Jean Louis Guez de Balzac (b. 1594, d. 1655) in his youth filled the office of secretary to Cardinal la Valette at Rome, where he sedulously cultivated his natural taste for elegant compo

« PreviousContinue »