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« sensible of the candour with which he stated them, and “ of the personal respect with which they were treated " by him. And though the concessions which he was « always ready to make to them when they did not affect “ the substance of his own argument, might be imputed « to political sagacity as well as to candour, there was “ uniformly an appearance of candour in his manner, by “ which he preserved their good opinion, and which “ greatly contributed to extend his influence among his “ own friends. Like all popular meetings, the General “ Assembly sometimes contains individuals, who have

more acuteness than delicacy, and who allow themselves “ tu eke out their arguments by rude and personal invec« tives. Dr. Robertson had a superior address in reply“ ing to men of this cast, without adopting their asperity, « and often made them feel the absurdity of the personal “ attack, by the attention which he seemed to bestow on + their argument.

“ It should be mentioned also, that Dr. Robertson's " early example, and his influence in more advanced life, “ chiefly contributed to render the debates in the Assembly “ interesting and respectable, by bringing forward all the

of abilities to their natural share of the public busi“ ness. Before his time, this had been almost entirely in " the hands of the older members of the church, who were “ the only persons that were thought entitled to deliver “ their opinions, and whose influence was often derived “ more from their age than from their judgment or their


" I do not know whether the reasons, which led Dr. Ro. « bertson to retire from the assemby after 1780, have “ ever been thoroughly understood. They were not sug“ gested by his age, for he was then only fifty-nine; nor “ by any diminution of his influence, for, in the appre“ hension of the public, it was at that time as great as it “ had ever been. It is very probable that he anticipated plagued with letters of reproach and remonstrance on a variety of subjects, and he complained of the petulance “ and acrimony with which they were written. But there



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time when a new leader might come forward ; and thought it better to retire while his influence was undi“ minished, than to run the risque, in the end of his life, “ of a struggle with younger men, who might be as suc“ cessful as he had been.-But I recollect distinctly, what “ he once said to myself on the subject, which I am per“ suaded he repeated to many others. He had been often “ reproached by the more violent men of his party for not " adopting stronger measures than he thought either right " or wise. He had yielded to them many points against “ his own judgment; but they were not satisfied: he was

was one subject, which, for some years before he re« tired, had become particularly uneasy to him, and on “ which he said he had been more urged and fretted than “ on all the other subjects of contention in the church; the “ scheme into which many of his friends entered zealously for abolishing subscription to the confession of Faith and “ Formula. This he expressly declared his resolution to 66 resist in every forin.--. But he was so much teased witlr

remonstrances on the subject, that he mentioned them as “ having at least confirmed his resolution to retire. He u claimed to himself the merit of having prevented this “ controversy from being agitated in the assemblies; bat warned me as a young man that it would become the “ chief controversy of my time, and stated to me the rea

sons which had determined his opinion on the subject. The conversation was probably about 1782 or 1783.“ I have a distinct recollection of it; though I have no “ idea that his prediction will be verified, as the contro

versy seems to be more asleep now than it was a few 4 years ago."

NOTE O. p. 128. The active part which Dr. Robertson took in the foundation of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, is so well known to all the members, that it did not appear necessary to recall it to their recollection. For the information of others, however, it may be proper to observe here, that the first idea of this establishment, and of the plan adopted in its formation, was suggested by him; and that, without his powerful co-operation, there is little probability that the design would ever have been carried into effect.

The zeal with which he promoted the execution of the statistical accounts of Scotland has been publicly acknowledged by Sir John Sinclair; and, on the other hand, I have frequently heard Dr. Robertson express, in the strongest terms, his sense of the obligations which the country lay under to the projector and conductor of that great national work; and the pride with which he reflected on tlie monument which was thus raised to the information and liberality of the Scottish clergy.

From the following letters it would appear, that he had contributed some aid to the exertions of those who so honourably distinguished themselves a few years ago in the parliamentary discussions about the African trade. His own sentiments on that subject were eloquently stated thirty years before, in the only sermon which he ever published.



London, 25th January, 1783. I SHALL not begin by apologizing to you for now presuming to intrude inyself on you without introduction, but with condemning myself for not having done it sooner. The subject which is the occasion of my troubling you with this letter, that of the Slave Trade, is one on which I am persuaded our sentiments coincide; and in calling

forth your good offices in such a cause, I trust you will think that whilst I incur I also bestow an obligation.What I have to request is, that you will have the goodness to communicate to me such facts and observations as may be useful to me in the important task I have undertaken of bringing forward into parliamentary discussion, the situa. tion of that much-injured part of the species, the poor negroes : in common with the rest of

my countrymen, I have to complain, that I am under the necessity of betaking myself directly to you for the information I solicit: an application to my bookseller ought to have supplied it: but if there be some ground of charge against you for having failed in your engagements to the public in this particular, it is the rather incumbent on you to attend to the claim of an individual; consider it as a sort of expiation for your offence, and rejoice if so weighty a crime comes off with so light a punishment.—Though the main object I have in view is the prevention of all further exports of slaves from Africa, yet their state in the West Indies, and the most practicable mode of meliorating it, the effects that might follow from this change of system in all its extended and complicated connections and relations, both in Africa and the Western World, and this not only in our own case but in those of other European nations, who might be induced to follow our example; all these come into question, and constitute a burden too heavy for one of powers like mine to bear, without my calling for help where it may be so abundantly afforded: let me add also, that I should be extremely thankful for any intelligence respecting the institutions of the Jesuits in Paraguay, which, it has long struck me, might prove a most useful subject of investigation to any one who would form a plan for the civilization of Africa.-Allow me to add, that I shall wait to hear from you with anxiety, because the business must be brought into the House soon after the meeting.-I will not waste your valuable time by excuses for


this letter, if they are necessary, but once more I will venture to assure myself that you will not think them so.

I have the honour to be, &c.




Hampstead, 20th February, 1788. I HAVE been honoured with your packets by the post, as well as with your Sermon, and return you my sincerest thanks for your very obliging attention to my request; I am fully sensible to the value of the favourable sentiments you express concerning me, and as one concession always produces a new demand, perhaps you will not be surprised at my now taking the liberty of intimating a hope that I may consider what has passed as constituting a sort of acquaintance between us, which it will give me particular pleasure to indulge an expectation of cultivating, when any opportunity shall allow. I remain, with great respect and esteem, &c.


NOTE P. p. 132. Dr. Robertson's second son is now Lieutenant-Colonel of the 92d regiment. His name is repeatedly mentioned with distinction in the History of Lord Cornwallis's Military Operations in India; particularly in the general orders after the siege of Nundydroog, where he commanded in the European flank company that led the assault. The following paragraph from Colonel Dirom’s Narrative contains a testimony to his conduct on this occasion, which would have been grateful to the feelings of his father had he survived to peruse it.

“ The carnage which must have ensued in clearing the fort of the enemy, was prevented partly by a number of “ the garrison escaping by ropes and ladders over a low

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