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[280] the Earl of Wemyss among the fashionable people, and among the men of letters, Pillans, the schoolmaster,—‘the good old Dr. Anderson,’ as Southey calls him in the ‘Quarterly’; Jeffrey, who was everywhere, in all parties, dances, and routs, and yet found time for his great business, and was, on the whole, rather pleasant in his own house; Dr. Brown, Stewart's successor, an acute man, but foolishly affecting a dapper sort of elegance, and writing poetry just above thread-paper verses;1 Thomson, an elegant gentleman and scholar; and Morehead, at whose house I twice saw Dr. Alison, a dignified, mild, and gentlemanly man. Dugald Stewart was in Devonshire for his health, both mental and bodily; and, after him, I have but one person to mention, and him I must mention separately. I mean Walter Scott.

He is, indeed, the lord of the ascendant now in Edinburgh, and well deserves to be, for I look upon him to be quite as remarkable in intercourse and conversation, as he is in any of his writings, even in his novels. He is now about forty-eight, fully six feet high, stout and well made, except in his feet, stoops a little, and besides that his hairs are pretty gray, he carries in his countenance the marks of coming age and infirmity, which, I am told, have increased rapidly in the last two years. His countenance, when at rest, is dull and almost heavy, and even when in common conversation expresses only a high degree of good-nature; but when he is excited, and especially when he is repeating poetry that he likes, his whole expression is changed, and his features kindle into a brightness of which there were no traces before. His talent was developed late. Clerk, the advocate, told me that Scott hardly wrote poetry in his youth, and, in fact, could not easily do it, for, as they had early been schoolfellows, he knew this circumstance well; and even when he was past two-and-twenty, and they were going over to Fife one day in a boat together, and tried a long time to make some verses, Scott finally gave up in despair, saying, ‘Well, it is clear you and I were never made for poets.’


1 Dr. Brown sometimes in his lectures introduced passages of poetry, which he recited so beautifully that the students applauded, and this vexed him, because they did not equally applaud the lecture. In telling this, Mr. Ticknor would add, as another instance of students' whims, that, when Germany was impoverished by the wars with Napoleon, if a professor at Jena appeared in his lecture-room with a new waistcoat, the students applauded him; and the old professor at Gottingen, who spoke of this, on being asked by Mr. Ticknor what occurred if a new coat made its appearance, exclaimed, ‘Gott bewahre! such a thing never happened!’

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