Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Τ Η Ε S Α Β Β Α Τ Η,

[blocks in formation]

1342.2.29

EDINBURGH:
PRINTED BY W. AND R. CHAMBERS,

19, WATERLOO PLACE.

JAMES GRAHAME, author of "The Sabbath,” was born at, department of the legal profession would yield him Glasgow on the 22d of April 1765. His father followed greater leisure to indulge the literary propensities the profession of a writer or law-agent in that city, and which were in him already strong and unchangeable. held a most respectable position in society, being alike In March 1795, he became a member of the Scottish valued for his business talents and integrity, and bar. For upwards of twelve succeeding years he conesteemed for his private worth. The mother of the tinued to attend the Court of Session in his capacity subject of our notice is also represented as having been of advocate, and would probably have been a weil remarkable for the possession of many high qualities employed one, had not his health prevented him not both of mind and heart; and to the training derived only from engaging laboriously in the duties of the from such parents, James Grahame unquestionably profession, but even from desiring to attain a high owed much of the intellectual distinction which he degree of success. What business he did undertake afterwards attained, as well as that purity of principle was always well done, and his law papers, in particular, and moral rectitude by which he was equally charac. were drawn up with acknowledged ability and elegance; terised. His regular education commenced at the but, under all the circumstances, Grahame never begrammar-school of Glasgow, from which seminary he came famous as a practitioner at the bar of his native removed, at a fitting age, to the university of the same country. city. Here he spent five years in close and studious During his term of study at the University of Glasgow, attendance on the literary and philosophical lectures of James Grahame had given proof of his early poetical the college, and on those, in particular, of Professor tendencies, by collecting and publishing, at that time, Millar, whose prelections on law and government had a number of pieces which had been produced by him at an important influence in embuing the young student's various preceding periods. This little volume appears to mind with political opinions verging on extreme or be now lost to the world, a circumstance the less to be ultra-liberalism. These opinions caused him, on the regretted, however, since it is understood to have chiefly occurrence of the French Revolution, to give a warm contained the first rude draughts of pieces subsequently and perhaps imprudent approval of the principles which given to the public in an improved state. Passing over led to that event, and to anticipate great results there. this early production, we find Mr Grahame next prefrom. He, like others, was doomed in this to receive a senting himself in print in the columns of a Kelso newsdisappointment, as far as immediate consequences, at paper. The compositions which appeared here were lcast, were concerned.

afterwards published in a complete and amended shape, Though much of the youthful life of Grahame was under the collective denomination of the “ Rural necessarily passed in the crowded walks of his native Calendar.” No reputation, of course, resulted to the city, yet he was not deprived of those opportunities of author from these anonymous contributions to a proviewing nature in her rural garb, which seem of so vincial newspaper. In the year 1801, however, Mr much consequence to the early formation of a poetical Grahame appealed directly and openly to public favour. taste. The elder Grahame had a summer residence on He issued from the press a dramatic poem upon the the banks of the little stream called the Cart, and here popular subject, and with the popular title, of “ Mary James used to spend all the leisure time that could be Stewart, Queen of Scotland.” The best that can be spared from his town occupations. It was at this spot said of this production is, that it shows the author to that he pored over the works of Milton, Thomson, be a close observer of nature, and well read in the and others whose writings proved most congenial to knowledge of the human heart. To dramatic skill his taste. From these mental recreations, as well and power the poem has not the most slender preng from his graver academical studies, Grahame was tensions. called away at the age of nineteen, his father con Mr Grahame was married in the spring of 1802 to sidering that the fitting time had then arrived for his Miss Grahame, eldest daughter of a gentleman who entering on the profession the law, to which the filled the respectable situation of town-clerk of Annan, youth liad been long destined by his parent. Accord-in Dumfriesshire. This lady was in every respect an ingly, in the year 1784, James was bound apprentice eligible partner for the subject of our notice, as many to Mr Lawrence Hill, a Writer to the Signet in Edin- after years of mutual happiness satisfactorily proved; burgh, and a relative of the Grahame family. Though but her attachment to her husband, and her conscioushe permitted himself to be articled to the legal profes. ness of his talents, did not prevent her from at first sion without offering any opposition, the step was one taking part with those of his friends who counselled not at all in consonance with the young man's wishes, him to forsake poetry, as a field in which he was not nor agreeable to his peculiar tastes and sentiments. fitted to excel. A most pleasing incident relieved lle was naturally of gentle temperament and delicate Grahame from all domestic opposition, at least, on this physical organisation, and a violent stroke on the head, score. At the time of his marriage, he had projected which he received ere he left Glasgow, produced such the composition of “The Sabbath,” and he pursued the a lasting effect upon his constitution, as to render him task of writing it in secret, concealing the nature of his ever afterwards more unable than he might otherwise occupation from every one, his wife not excepted. The have been, to play an active part on so bustling a stage same concealment was observed when the poem was as that of the law. His father's slightest wish, how- finished. It was sent to the press in 1804, and was ever, had too much weight with the son to permit him published anonymously at the close of that year, the to disclose the adverse bent of his inclinations, even on printer and bookseller only being cognisant of the an occasion of such importance as the choice of a pro-author's name. Grahame took an early opportunity fession for life.

of bringing a copy of the completed work home with After concluding his appointed term of service in him, and left it upon his parlour table, as if for his own Edinburgh with Mr Hill, Grahame underwent the cus- leisure reading. Entering the room soon at tomary trials, and was formally enrolled in the Society he found his wife earnestly engaged in t? of Writers to the Signet. The influence of his family “The Sabbath ;' and burning with tremui and friends rendered his prospects of success in this to know her opinion, he walked up an: profession very flattering ; but the death of his father, time in almost breathless silence. At at the close of 1791, induced the subject of our memoir scious of the hopes and fears that agitai to enter the Faculty of Advocates, trusting that this modest bosom, Mrs Grahame broke fo

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]
« ForrigeFortsæt »