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Before he left college, and when already a full-grown man, he was seized with the hooping-cough and suffered severely. He has told me that at this time, he got on horseback and rode several miles every day, and to this salutary measure he attributed the preservation of his life.

Early in the memorable year 1745, he passed as a probationer of the Church of Scotland and was licensed to preach, and in the following year, when twenty-three years of age, was settled as minister of Athelstaneford, in East Lothian, where he resided for nearly twelve years. From the time of his being licensed to preach, to that of his leaving Athelstaneford, may be reckoned an eventful period in his life.

In the summer of 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart, son of the pretender to the British crown, landed in the Highlands of Scotland, with the intention of overthrowing the government and restoring his father. This unexpected occurrence no doubt arrested study and every peaceful pursuit.

John Home, with many others, now took up arms to oppose Prince Charles and his Highlanders. A band of volunteers, consisting of students and others, inhabitants of Edinburgh, was quickly raised, and in this corps he was chosen lieutenant, In that capacity he waited on General Hawley, who commanded the cavalry, requesting permission for the volunteers to march with the king's troops to Falkirk, where the rebel army lay, which the general readily granted. This is mentioned by himself in his History of the Rebellion.

But it was not collegians and burghers of Edinburgh city, nor even the king's troops that were able to stand against the fury of the bold Highlanders.

Prince Charles swept every thing before him, and at the battle of Falkirk the royalist army, with the volunteers, was completely routed.

General Hawley fled from the field, and with his scattered force betook himself to the old Palace of Linlithgow, from which it is said he was driven in scorn by the spirited matron, the keeper of the palace, who to his face upbraided him with running away.

John Home was supposed to have fallen in the battle. He was taken prisoner by the Highlanders, and along with Barrow and Bartlet, his fellow-collegians, was sent captive to the castle of Doune, in Perthshire, from which they contrived to make their escape in the following m ner. During the night, when the prisoners were not very rigidly watched, they tied their bedclothes together, and by the precarious line thus formed, descended one after another from the window of the prison Barrow, his favourite companion, was the last to commit himself to the rope, which gave way with him, and he was precipitated to the earth and very seriously injured. John Home, stout and able, took Barrow on his back, as did each of his companions by turns, until they reached a place of safety.

Of the discipline and effective state of the Edinburgh volunteers at the battle of Falkirk, we may have some idea from the following anecdote, given by John Home:

During the battle one of the volunteers of his company found that, in the confusion, he had continued to load his musket without knowing that it had never been fired off.

The volunteer hesitated at discharging the now overloaded piece, and spoke of drawing the shot. John Home presented his shoulder, and


desired him to place his musket there and fire it. The volunteer obeyed, and the explosion was tremendous, but no harm was done.

The spectacle of a young prince attempting to regain a kingdom at the point of the sword, was well suited to inspire a chivalrous spirit like Home’s, and I should not have been surprised to learn that his enthusiasm had prompted him to espouse the cause of the adventurer. Loyalty, however, fortunately directed him into the safer and more prudent course.

In the following year, as I have said, he entered upon his clerical duties at Athelstaneford, under the patronage of Sir David Kinloch, then Mr. Kinloch, of Gilmerton, and with him and Sir David's family an intimacy commenced, which lasted all his life.

He was still occupied with making alterations in his tragedy of “ Agis ;” and, after revising it, in the year 1749 he went to London, and offered it to Garrick for representation. But Garrick, who was then manager of Covent-garden Theatre, declined receiving " Agis."

Feeling this disappointment very keenly, he repaired to Westminster Abbey, the place of all others in London most dear to him, and there, viewing the statue of Shakspeare, gave utterance to his feelings in the following elegant lines :

“ Image of Shakspeare! to this place I come

To ease my bursting bosom at thy tomb :
For neither Greek nor Roman story fired
My fancy first. Thee chiefly I admired ;
And day and night, revolving still thy page,
I hoped, like thee, to shake the British stage.
But cold neglect is now my only meed,
And heavy falls it on so proud a head.
If Powers above now listen to thy lyre,
Charm them to grant indulgent my desire,
Let petrifaction stop this falling tear,

And fix my form for ever marble here." The poetic image, the fine prophetic allusion conveyed in the last couplet of these lines, I sometimes think will be one day realized, when the statue of Home may indeed stand by the side of Shakspeare.

When in London, he was advised to show his tragedy of “ Agis” to Mr. Lyttleton, at that time a distinguished political character, and afterwards Lord Lyttleton. The following letter to a friend in Scotland, gives an account of the manner in which he was treated by Lyttleton, and of a conversation with a brother of that gentleman.

“ Know, then, that as to myself, I have met with one disappointment. After having made some alterations, and turned out some Scotticisms, or vulgarities as they were termed, Mr. Lyttleton refused to read it; because, if he did not approve of it, he would be pained in saying so; and if he did, he would be put to as much trouble in supporting it, as he was last year in carrying through Coriolanus,' which, with all his interest, he hardly could make run for eight nights ; for which reason he would not read a tragedy as a judge, nor engage in it as a patron if it were writ by his own brother.

A brother of Lyttleton's, a dignified clergyman, told me all this pleasing matter. I was told that it was not to be expected that any young man could write a tragedy better than Mr. Thomson, who was the greatest poet of the age. I bowed, and answered, that Mr. Thomson was a descriptive poet.' I thanked the gentleman for his civilities, and walked off with less appearance of chagrin than you will think possible.

" I thought at first that Lyttleton had read the play, and took this gentle way of dismissing me; but upon putting that, and desiring to know the worst, the

parson assured me most solemnly, that Mr. Lyttleton had not read it: and that he himself did not pretend to be a judge in these matters, having addicted himself to the study of natural history; however, that he would have read it for all that, it it had not been his extraordinary business in attending on the king as chaplain.

" You see what people I have to deal with. I am only vexed that I applied to them. I could divide my body in two, and go to buffets with myself for having solicited a dish of skimmed milk,' as Hotspur says, in such an honourable action.

"I cannot help telling you that an Englishman, after extolling the genius of the piece, added, “That the author had formed himself too much on Thomson's Seasons and Lee's Plays.' I could not have been more astonished if he had said, that I had formed myself upon

Euclid's Elements, and Maclaurin's Fluxions. However, I have met with some charming fellows amongst them : Oxonians that are republicans, and citizens that are patterns of taste.”

The same indignant spirit that dictated the foregoing letter, appears to have roused John Home to a second effort of his muse.

He now set about writing his tragedy of “Douglas.”

When occupied with this work, and not unlikely, when himself struck with this great success in it, he addresses some verses in a pleasing strain to his friend Barrow, who, as I have said, was his fellow-prisoner in Doune Castle in 1745.

At the time he wrote the lines alluded to, it is pretty evident that he anticipated some important change in his condition; and we are warranted in believing, that when that change did take place, which was in a year or two after, it was an event not unwelcome to himself.

It was at Athelstaneford that he applied himself to the composition of the tragedy of Douglas;" and by the time he was thirty, or perhaps earlier, this great masterpiece of his genius was in the hands of his friends. A considerable time elapsed bef he would consent to offer it to the stage. At last he resolved to apply again to Garrick, and in the beginning of 1755 he went to London expressly for this purpose; and, strange to say, Garrick also returned this tragedy as unfit for the stage.

His friends, however, dissatisfied with the verdict of the Covent Garden manager, combined to bring forward“ Douglas” on the Edinburgh stage. Some of them attended its rehearsals at the theatre, which at that time was in the Canongate, the old court end of Edinburgh, and there “ Douglas" was performed, and received with such fervour of applause, that the whole country echoed with the notes of its success.

It was also brought forward in Dublin, and the manager of the theatre there, as a token of his approbation of the piece, sent a handsome medal to the author.

The noise of a new and popular tragedy soon spread over London, and without delay, “Douglas” was brought on the stage there, but not in Garrick's theatre. In London, however, it had a serious difficulty to

contend with. The whole of this tragedy is Scottish. The storyevery allusion-every feature, “ The Grampian hills,” “ Carron water,” “ Edina's lofty towers,” “ East Lothian,”

“Where the sea rock immense

Amazing Bass looks o'er a fertile land.” The garb even-all is Scottish together; and, at the time “ Douglas" appeared, “Scotch and English" were epithets of a striking national distinction, by no means the epithets of brotherly love.

Nowhere did this ungenerous sentiment display itself more openly than in London, and there is not a shadow of doubt now that the consideration of this state of things alone had swayed Garrick's mind when he declined receiving “ Douglas.”

But the genius of the author surmounted all obstacles, and made illiberality ashamed of itself: the reputation of his work grew every day, and soon the tragedy of “ Douglas” became as the adopted child of the whole kingdom.

His brethren of the church of Scotland, however, seem at this juncture, to have dissented from the general judgment; and, as a body at least, whatever was their individual sentiment, took arms against the author and his work.

The clergy of the church of Scotland, at no time friendly to theatrical exhibitions, distrustful it may be of a fictitious doctrine, now took alarm at one of their own body writing a stage-play; and, in the height of their zeal, took measures to prosecute-should I not write it persecute ?-not only the author, but all the other clergymen who had gone to the theatre, or countenanced the representation of the tragedy.

This harsh proceeding called forth, of course, an opposite hostility. The different parties in the church took opposite sides. A paper war commenced, and the contentious spirit, instigated no doubt by the intemperance of individuals, assumed all the appearances of a mean political squabble.

I remember long ago to have seen a burlesque writing, condemning the tragedy of Douglas” to be burnt by the hands of the hangman.

To assuage this contention or escape from it altogether, John Home, now in the flower of his age, for he was then thirty-four years old, resigned his clerical charge at Athelstaneford, and left the church.

But the voice of Fame had already reached the ears of the poet, and borne by its breath he resolved to embark on the wide elements of life, trusting all to fortune. He prepared to quit Scotland.

When at Athelstaneford, he was introduced to the Duke of Argyle, who was then far advanced in years, and the duke, like all other men, looked favourably on John Home, and took an interest in him. The poet has repaid this partiality of the noble duke, by a fine allusion to him and his son in his tragedy of “ Douglas."

“Ah! mine ancient guest! doth he the warriors lead,

Hath Denmark roused the brave old knight to arms ?
No, worn with warfare, he resigns the sword;
His eldest hope, the valiant John of Lorn
Now leads his kindred bands.
May victory sit on the warrior's plume-
Bravest of men !"

The Duke of Argyle now recommended John Home very particularly to his nephew, Lord Bute, who at this time was preceptor to the Prince of Wales, and afterwards his minister, when George III.; the poet therefore repaired to London, where he remained for several years. But in London all was changed: the clouds which, in former times dark and discouraging, overspread the sky, had passed away, and the sun of fortune was seen rapidly ascending.

Lord Bute, at all times the admirer, now became the patron of the poet, and placed him by his side; and Garrick, with fine speeches on his tongue, became of a sudden enthusiastically devoted to the poet and his works. He brought forward his tragedy of “ Agis," brought forward “ Douglas,” wrote prologues to some of his plays, called the poet himself his divinity, his genius, in fine, made the poet his idol.

But this may have been worldly wisdom in manager Garrick; for the plays of John Home always drew full houses, and the author himself was the protege of the prime minister of England.

It appears that the tragedy of “ Agis” was well received upon its representation. The following note from Garrick on the morning after its first performance, amply testifies this:

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My dear Friend!

Joy, joy, joy to you! My anxiety yesterday gave me a severe sickness, but our success has cured it. I am very happy, because I think you are so. The ode, as I foretold, is certainly too long. There were other little mistakes; but all shall be set right to-morrow. “Ever most affectionately, my Genius!

“ D. GARRICK. “Pray let me see you at twelve to-morrow.”

Garrick's great talents as a player, no doubt contributed materially to the success of “Agis ;" and though not generally well adapted to scenic representation, yet viewed as the first production of so youthful a writer, it seems a wonderful work; while, as a dramatic poem, it must ever hold a high place, and be considered a rare and beautiful production. There is a classic beauty pervading the whole piece, and the monologues or soliloquies which the author seems to have seized every opportunity of introducing in his tragedy, are most striking, and in every instance successful.

Garrick chose the character of Lysander, and his recital of one passage in particular, I have heard long ago, was splendid, and of itself sufficient to give celebrity to the piece. It was his soliloquy while in prison ; a very noble one certainly, but too long for insertion here.

With very little delay, the tragedy of " Douglas” was now produced at Covent-garden Theatre, and its reception there, as in all other quarters, was most flattering to the poet. For some time nothing was heard but its praises ; the author himself became the fashion, and his fame went abroad every where.

Amongst those who came forward at this time to express their admiration of the poet and his writings, was David Hume, the historian. He dedicated to him a volume of essays on various philosophical subjects, and eulogised him at all times in warm terms. The following letter of this eminent writer is quite a panegyric upon “ Douglas :"

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