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apprenticed to Mr Hill, a writer to the signet, and a cousin of his own.
Having accomplished his apprenticeship, Grahame passed the necessary trials, and commenced business. But business was not his element; and he seems at all times to have held too cheap the advantages which its successful prosecution can secure. Like his congenial spirit, Cowper, the dry details, bustle, and turmoil of law, accorded ill with his quiet and contemplative temper. He was better fitted to improve men by his example and his lessons, than to defend or to right them by habits of activity and power of intellect. He had entered upon the profession with repugnance, and appears to have been at all times glad to escape from its “ thorny walks into the primrose paths of poesy."
On the death of his father, when obedience was no longer duty, he again expressed his wish of devoting himself to the church : but many of the best years of his life had been spent ; and he was persuaded by his friends still to adhere to the profession in which he was established.
Grahame's success as a writer to the signet was probably not great ; for a man seldom makes much progress in a profession to which he is secretly disinclined; and after a few more years he passed as an advocate, the business of the bar being more congenial to his favourite studies than the routine of an agent's office. His literary attainments, amiable manners, and the propriety and gentleness of his character, must have made him respectable in any learned profession ; but these are not precisely the qualities which lead to distinction at the Scottish bar, where men are thrown together in closer contrast than in any other walk of professional life. Grahame had not that commanding force of character which compels every opposing obstacle to give way-for force of character and power of mind are very different things and he had too much of the delicacy and modesty ever inseparable from real genius, to succeed by bustle and pretence, even had such spurious qualities been available in the Scottish courts. There is, besides, a disposition among mere men of business to view the legal qualifications of a new practitioner, guilty of the sin of literature, with considerable suspicion, and, at any rate, to question his habits of diligence and application to business. Nor are these apprehensions altogether unreasonable. These gentlemen have more faith in supposed industry, united to perseverance and common-place talent, than in much higher powers. Of all trifling, literary trifling is to them the most obnoxious, as it is supposed to be the most seducing. It is much safer for a practitioner to stand clear of all imputation of ever having written, or of being capable of writing, any thing better than a memorial, than to be author of the liveliest jeu-d'esprit, or the most beautiful poem, unless he be already of established reputation; in which case the literary offence may not only be overlooked, but perhaps applauded. It is consistent with fact, that some of the most eminent and best employed practitioners now at the bar, walked the course of the Outer-house and Innerhouse many a year, without being once invited to start for the plate. If John Doe and the Edinburgh Review were believed incapable of any useful alliance, how could Richard Roe and the Muses ever be united ? There is no reason therefore to suppose, that, though the legal profession was uncongenial to the decided bent of the poetical and religious mind of Grahame, and in many of its obliquities revolting to the sanctity of his principles, he was neglectful of his professional duties. From a sense of what he owed to his family, he gave to these labours all the attention of which a mind devoted to higher purposes was capable; for he had now, in 1802, married Miss Grahame, daughter of Mr Richard Grahame, town-clerk of Annan. The union was in all respects happy, except, if it dare be so said, in the briefness of its duration.
Grahame had by this time composed his pictures of the months, which appeared originally in the Kelso Mail newspaper, under a feigned signature, and have since been often reprinted under the title of the RURAL CALENDAR. He had also written his tragedy of MARY STUART,-a subject to which every romantic Scottish youth is naturally attracted. But the genius of Grahame was neither dramatic nor impassioned. He was, however, by this time, known among his own immediate friends as a writer of poetry; and though Mrs Grahame was as capable of appreciating the poetical talents, as of loving the amiable qualities of her husband's mind, she, like a prudent wife, with justifiable regard to his professional interests, felt that his business was law_and not verse. It might be from a consciousness of her feelings, as well as from extreme natural diffidence, that he did not, even to her af. fectionate sympathy, confide the secret authorship of THE SABBATH, which was published about two years after their marriage.
On the publication of the anonymous poem, it was silently laid on his wife's table by the oversensitive author, trembling before his unconscious and beloved judge. It is related by one of his most intimate friends, that while he walked about the room in agitation, Mrs Grahame was led by curiosity to examine the new work. After a time, she burst into enthusiastic admiration of the performance, and well knowing her husband's weak side, very naturally added,—“Ah! James, if you could produce a poem like this !”—Longer concealment was not compatible with the warmth of affection and sympathy of tastes which form the charm of such a union. The author of the admired performance was revealed in the husband. The scene is worth preserving. These were of the golden moments with which poetry sometimes rewards the sacrifices of its simple votaries. Mrs Grahame, justly proud of her husband's genius, no longer checked its bent.
THE SABBATH was warmly received throughout Scotland. It came from the heart ; and it spoke to the heart of the nation. But, by some caprice, this work found no favour with the Edinburgh Review. That, however, was of small consequence. It was of God—and it stood. Upheld by the modest consciousness of genius, and the applause of his countrymen of all ranks, Grahame betrayed no resentment, and probably felt himself injured by the indignant zeal of some of his friends clamorous against this palpable injustice. Even then the author of THE SABBATH, had he been the most humble. minded man on earth, had a right to think that the ipse dixit of no reviewer, however gifted, could permanently affect his fame. Instead of repaying heedless injustice by immeasurable scorn and bitter contumely, as has been done by a more masculine, though worse-regulated spirit, Grahame rested the vindication of his literary merits on the only sure foundation of fame, and occupied himself in rendering his poem more perfect as a work of art. Besides adding to the early editions the pleasing picture of the Charity School Children, and the interesting ceremony of Public Infant Baptism, he separated the description of the lofty ritual worship of Episcopacy from the simple forms of his native land, which, in the first editions of the poem, had been rather awkwardly blended, by a mind too devoutly affected by the realities of religion to advert minutely to its varying forms. This error had been specially pointed out by his reviewer. It is, however, just to say,