Murray was the author of the Literary History of Galloway. His biographical notes were published by DGNH&AS in 1910 and give a fascinating insight into life here in the late 18th & early 19th centuries.
by Thomas Murray, author of The Literary History of Galloway, &c., &c.,
with further notes by Mr John A. Fairley, Davidson's Mains, Midlothian.
The autobiographical notes here printed for the first time are contained in a MS. volume in my possession, which once belonged to Mr Murray, and they are in his holograph. They are dated Edinburgh, 8th April, 1849, and seem to me to picture the manners and life of his early days in a fashion so pleasing and so interesting as to be well worthy of a wider circle of readers than his own family, for whom they were intended. It must be a matter of great regret that Mr Murray never completed his notes, but stopped short at a time before he quitted the University of Edinburgh, which he entered in 1810, and would probably leave about the end of 1817. As he outlived Edinburgh's greatest literary period, the days of Scott, Lockhart, Jeffrey, De Quincey, and others of the stalwarts, and spent the better part of his life within the precincts of the city, he must have had a great deal to tell that would have been delightful to listen to. For some reason or other, however, Mr Murray stayed his hand just when we would have had him continue. His own notes appear in Part I. Part II. contains such facts as I have been able to ascertain regarding him from the date when his notes cease, also a bibliography of his separately published works.
The following brief narrative, often urgently requested by my daughters, may eventually not prove uninteresting to my own children, or descendants; at all events had such a document been handed down by one of my progenitors it would have been most gratifying to me.
I was born at Bush (a hamlet obliterated to make way for a public road, about 300 yards south of the manse), parish of Girthon, half a mile from Gatehouse-of-Fleet, in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.
Every Scotsman, says Sir Walter Scott, has his pedigree, and, though my progenitors were humble but creditable people, I have a species of claim to some degree of antiquity. From vague tradition my family on both sides is venerable; but, setting tradition aside, I can count back for at least two centuries. My paternal great-grandfather, John Murray, a small farmer, died at Killigown, parish of Anwoth, in 1760, aged 96, so that he was born within four years of the Restoration; and I remember one of his daughters, Sarah, a spinster who attained to a venerable age, four score at least. She visited my father about the year 1800, and was hale and strong. This John Murray, my great-grandfather, was a crofter, and lived as a small agriculturist. None of my progenitors were tradesmen; they all rented land. My father and grandfather were in a similar condition, only they had some charge on the estate of the Murrays of Broughton, an old family who were the sole proprietors, as they still are, of the entire parish of Girthon. My father, William Murray, for example, was employed partly as wood forester and in other capacities, while he possessed land and had two cows. He had little or no capital, but he was in comfortable circumstances. He displayed a tablecloth on Sundays, and had a tea breakfast on that day, a thing then uncommon, and what was more uncommon in his rank of life, though his tablespoons were of horn, he had silver teaspoons. My father lived from 1790 till his death in a neat cottage built for himself in the village or clachan at Old Kirk of Girthon. His money wages were extremely small, about £6 a year, but he paid no rent for his cottage, to which a garden of nearly half an acre was attached. He had, besides, the privilege of casting as many peats as he required in the Crawhill moss, and when ultimately peat was laid aside as fuel he got an equivalent in coal. He received also a monthly allowance of meal — two stones. But what was of perhaps greater importance where a family was concerned, he was allowed grass for a cow gratis; so that he had the command, if not of any of the luxuries, at least of most of the necessaries of life. Nor was this all. He had for the last ten years of his life an allowance of an additional cow's grass and of a separate modicum of meal, two stones monthly, with some other small perquisites, in return for his keeping my two paternal uncles, Thomas and John Murray, both deaf and dumb, and both ultimately blind. These two persons had lived under the roof of their widowed mother, Anne Coughtrie, till her death in 1798, after which time they were transferred to my father's care. But they were at all times supported by the liberality of Mr Murray of Broughton. One of them predeceased my father, at whose death the other was removed to the house of my paternal aunt, Mary Murray, wife of James Porter, who lived at Cally stables, and was an attaché of the Broughton family.
My father's death was lamentable. The late Alexander Murray of Broughton came of age on the 11th September, 1810, and the rejoicings on the occasion were immoderate and cordial. A small cannon, for example, was fired from the lawn opposite the dining-room at Cally, at short intervals in the evening, in honour of the toasts which were supposed to be given. My father had been in Kirkcudbright, eight miles distant, on some business. He was reluctantly absent, and immediately on his return he insisted on the pleasure of firing the next shot. His wish was at once complied with. The cannon, having been overcharged, burst, with the result that he was seriously wounded. He was taken into the mansion house (Cally), and medical aid from the neighbourhood, including Kirkcudbright, was at once called into requisition; but after great suffering he died that day week, at the age of 48, much and justly lamented. He was interred in the family burial ground, and his funeral was attended by the proprietor of Broughton, by all his guests, and by an immense concourse of people. I acted as chief mourner. My father was a man of warm feelings, and was altogether of a generous nature, with a bearing far above his station. He made, I may mention, a great effort to give a superior education to his children. The school wages were very low, but the money he expended on books for me when attending the classes was most honourable to him, and, at this distant period, I cannot sufficiently appreciate the discomfort he must have himself submitted to, in order to promote the best interests of his children.
My mother was Margaret Grierson, daughter of Thomas Grierson, farmer in Holeburn, vulgarly called Burniehole, a small farm now incorporated with Townhead and with the pleasure grounds of Cally. This worthy old man died in 1807, aged 77. He was well descended, and was a relative of the best families of that name in the Glenkens, a district in the same county, where the name has for centuries been common. I knew many respectable persons with whom I counted kindred, but yet I neglected to ascertain the exact descent and parentage of my respected paternal grandfather. The lease of Holeburn went to the elder of the two daughters of his only son deceased; and, besides providing for his younger daughter, he left a pound to each of his grandchildren, in number about thirty; so that the venerable man, whom I remember intimately, had been in good circumstances for the time. His name is still remembered, and has always been mentioned to me with respect and esteem. His wife, who predeceased him a year or two, was Mary Porter, of an old family at Seggie-nook in the same parish. My mother, whom I have the pleasure of remembering, died in 1798. My father entered into a second marriage, and my stepmother, Janet Robertson, was sufficiently kind. She predeceased her husband in 1809.
The date of my birth was 16th February, 1792. I had three brothers and two sisters. My eldest brother, Alexander, who was mainly brought up by his grandfather at Burniehole, was taught no trade or calling, but wrought generally under his venerable relative, and died in 1810. Andrew, my second brother, served an apprenticeship to a shopkeeper in Gatehouse, named William McClure, who afterwards removed to Kirkcudbright, whither my brother accompanied him. After being four years so employed, Andrew went to Liverpool, and was for three years in a merchant's house there. He thereafter (November, 1817) emigrated to Jamaica with only a few pounds in his pocket, but with strong letters of recommendation. He soon got employment, and ultimately rose to be not only a respectable attorney, extensively employed, but a considerable planter on his own account. In short, he was a very clever, energetic, and good-hearted man, of strict business habits, of undoubted integrity, and was much liked by a wide circle of friends. He married, and became the father of eight children, six sons and two daughters, of whom the younger daughter and one son are dead. He and I agreed in our tastes, predilections, and principles. He paid a visit to this country in the summer of 1839, and never could two brothers, though long placed under opposite circumstances, be supposed to be more harmonious in all their feelings and sentiments. In personal appearance we were also alike; five feet six or seven inches in height, massive countenance, but given to merriment and laughter, of stout but well-knit, energetic figure, and of firm and healthy tread. He meant in a few years to have returned to this country, and to have settled in Liverpool as a merchant in connection with Jamaica. But this he did not realise. He died of intermittent fever on 18th December, 1841, aged 47. Some time previous to his visit to this country he had at different dates sent his eldest son, William, and his eldest daughter, Jessie, to live under my roof for the benefit of their education. After his return he sent his two next sons, George and Thomas, and after his death, Alexander, at my request, joined them. To these, my nephews and nieces, I have always felt the same attachment a parent has for his own children, and I have taken the same care with their education — the same interest in their welfare. They are most promising young people, and I trust they will yet be an honour to their father's name and to my affectionate efforts for their welfare.
My third brother, William, was brought up as a saddler in Edinburgh, but his health becoming infirm, he resolved to emigrate to the milder climate of Australia, but died on his passage when within a fortnight's sail of Sydney, November, 1826, aged 22.
My eldest sister, Anne, was married to Samuel Reid, Minnihive, Dumfriesshire, but died in 1824, aged 35, leaving four daughters behind her.
My youngest sister, Mary, was married in 1810 to Samuel Kelly, now tenant of the farm of Townhead of Culloch, parish of Urr, and is still living, having a family of nine children.
There was always in the parish of Girthon a vague but, I believe, an unfounded opinion that the obscure family to which I belong was related to the Murrays of Broughton. Certain it is, however, that at my mother's death, in 1798, the mother of the late Alexander Murray of Broughton, then a minor, and who died in July, 1845 — the last of one of the oldest families in Scotland — took my youngest brother, William, to Cally House, and my sister, Mary, to take charge of him. Neither of them returned to their father's roof, but received their education and were altogether supported by the kind and generous lady to whom I have referred. This lady was Grace Johnston, sister of Peter Johnston of Carnsalloch. James Murray of Broughton, who had married Lady Catherine Stewart, of the noble house of Galloway, separated from that lady, and cohabited with Miss Johnston, by whom he had three daughters and two sons, all now dead without leaving issue. Mrs Johnston, for she assumed that designation after the death of James Murray, lived much at Cally, which was bequeathed to her during the minority of her son. She was extremely kind and beneficent, and was as much an object of respect and regard as if she had been the widow of the late proprietor. The people in the parish and throughout the Broughton estate called her Mrs Murray, but among her dependants and in the neighbourhood of Cally she went by the name of "The Lady." She visited even the lowest hovels, was kind to children as well as to all others, and was in all respects a blessing to the place. My brother might have chosen any profession, however high, that attracted his taste, but being much in the company of servants and much about the stables, he preferred the trade of a saddler. When Mr Murray came of age he adopted his mother's protege as his own; at least so far as my brother was concerned, my sister having previously left Cally and gone to London with Mrs Johnston, in the capacity of lady's maid. William was sent to Edinburgh, and maintained there at the expense of Mr Murray, who also advanced about £500 for his outfit to Australia, and for a large supply of saddlery goods for commercial purposes on his arrival; acts of kindness quite princely, and which we all duly appreciated.
So much for my unlettered and humble ancestors. In a remote parish persons of their rank of life, with nothing higher than an ordinary education, seldom emigrate. This is particularly true of the period prior to my birth. They lived generation after generation in the same locality, and hence it was that in my youth I lived as it were among my own people, being acquainted not only with grandfathers and grandmothers, but with grand-uncles and grand-aunts, and abundance of other relatives. I had, for example, above twenty cousins or other more distant relatives who attended the same school as myself. Most of these, like their forefathers, settled in the neighbourhood where they were born; a few others, like my two brothers and myself, left their native spot and pushed their fortune, with different degrees of success, at a distance from home. Of my own relatives I can most truly say that none of them ever disappointed his parents' hopes, or ever deviated from the path of virtue and integrity. This remark, which embraces a period of sixty years, admits of no modification, and is correct to the very letter.
I well remember the dear years of 1799-1801. That my father suffered much from the famine is not likely, as he had his four stones of meal monthly, and besides had a large kitchen garden, which generally supplied sufficient vegetables, including potatoes, for the family. But the poor people lived on Indian meal or flour, also on "reduced meal," or, in other words, on meal reduced in price by the kindness of the Broughton family. It was supplied at a very low figure to those recommended by the parochial minister and his session.
The first school I attended was at Girthon Kirk. A small farmer named Mr John McGeoch employed a teacher for his family, and in order to meet the expense permitted the children of the neighbourhood to attend at a certain rate of wages. In this way the farmer got his own large family educated at a comparatively low rate. Such expedients in favour of education are resorted to in a country where the value of knowledge obtains. When this small school had answered its purpose I was transferred to a private seminary, taught by Mr Hugh Nae, in Fleet Street, Gatehouse-of-Fleet, a distance of about three miles, which my brother Andrew and I regarded as an easy concern if not a positive pleasure. Mr Nae, who soon afterwards died, removed to a side-school, or school partly endowed, in the parish of Buittle, and I was then put under the charge of a man who was far superior to his position in life, John Armstrong, schoolmaster of my native parish. This John Armstrong was an eminent linguist and a respectable mathematician, and was remarkable for the extent of his information. He was besides the model of a gentleman both in sentiment and manner, and altogether was beloved and admired by his numerous scholars. Nor were these feelings on their part affected, or affected much, by one unfortunate weakness which attached to him — an occasional love of the bottle. He retained his situation as parochial schoolmaster for about forty years previously, I think, to 1829, after which period till his death in 1842 Mr Murray of Broughton allowed him a very competent annuity. I shall never forget Mr Armstrong, whom I admired equally as a teacher and as a man. When I was in the habit of visiting Gatehouse in after years my first call was almost without any exception paid to my worthy friend and preceptor, Mr Armstrong.
I attended his school regularly for four or five years previous to 1807, when I opened in the neighbourhood of Cally a small school in order to support myself, and to save if possible to get to college. For three years before this date I attended, in addition to his day school, Mr Armstrong's evening classes from 6 to 9 o'clock. My object in going to the evening school was to acquire a knowledge of arithmetic; and, while I was fair in all the other branches which I learned, I was perhaps the most expert arithmetician in the whole seminary, and this latter species of knowledge has given me great pleasure to the present day.
I have often wondered in after life to what extent a stout, healthy lad can bear abstinence or hunger with impunity. I left home each morning about 9 o'clock with a supply of milk in a tin flask and of dry bread to do me for the day. But to carry these was a trouble; besides, if so encumbered, I could not trundle my hoop or otherwise enjoy myself. The result was I ate my bread and drank my milk before I had travelled half-a-mile, hiding the tin flask till my return, and this amount of food sufficed me till my arrival home at about 10 o'clock in the evening. No bad consequences, even no inconvenience, followed from this thoughtless boyish practice, for I have up to this moment been about the healthiest person I have ever known. Nor were my father and stepmother aware, so far as I now remember, of this voluntary exposure to hunger on my part.
On the 7th of July, 1807, I was invited to open a small school in a private house near Cally. I got some scholars. I afterwards transferred my little seminary to a room in my father's domicile, teaching there in winter, and getting the privilege of the parish church in summer. This latter plan is now unknown so far as I am aware; it was not uncommon in my early days and previously.
A small subscription school was set on foot at the village of Tongland, eight miles from Girthon, in the spring of 1809. I was elected to be the teacher, and I entered on my charge, then most important in my eyes, at Whitsunday of that year. I was guaranteed £20 with a free room for my classes. I made £23, and was very happy, and was regarded as successful. My lodgings cost me 1s 3d per week, and I saved some money at the end of the year At Whitsunday, 1810, I removed to the parish of Buittle, four farmers having combined to hire a teacher among them: a small room was rented nearly equi-distant from their respective houses, and I lived for four weeks at a time in each of their houses successively. A condition of my accepting this joint engagement was that, if I could procure means, I should be allowed to go to College and on my return from Edinburgh in spring to resume my engagement. I accordingly went to College in 1810, arriving in Edinburgh on the 3rd of November in company with a schoolfellow from my native parish. This individual did not do well, therefore I shall not give his name.
I was at this time an orphan, my father having died in the previous month of September. Though Mr Murray knew that I was about to start for College he shewed me no kindness, either by word or deed. One thing is certain, I made no application, neither did any of my family. And so much the better. Let every man depend on himself. Self-reliance, combined with integrity and perseverance, is independent of all patronage, and is the most secure foundation of respectability and happiness.
But though I did not approach the Laird of Broughton, I knew a man whose kindness was as warm as it was unostentatious, and from whom I had received on former occasions words of encouragement. I refer to Mr Alexander Craig, factor on the Broughton estates, and son of the then deceased Rev. Mr Craig, minister of Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire. To Mr Craig I made application for a loan to assist me, along with my own small funds, to enter the University of Edinburgh. A hint was sufficient for this worthy man. He gave me handsomely what I wanted without a written receipt and without security, and when I afterwards repaid him he refused to accept anything in the shape of interest, though it was strongly pressed on him. Mr Craig has been ever since my most intimate and affectionate friend and companion.
On my way to Edinburgh on my first visit, my companion and myself met at Moffat with three young men who, like ourselves, were going to College, with one of whom, indeed with all more or less, I formed an acquaintance which became very intimate and confidential. I refer to Thomas Carlyle, then on his way to the University for the second time, having attended the Latin and Greek classes in 1809. His father was a master mason at Ecclefechan, parish of Hoddam, but afterwards, having been an industrious, judicious, and saving man, he rented the farm of Mainhill, in the same neighbourhood. He is now long dead: his widow still survives. Young Carlyle was distinguished at that time by the same peculiarities that still mark his character — sarcasm, irony, extravagance of sentiment, and a strong tendency to undervalue others, combined, however, with great kindness of heart and great simplicity of manner. His external figure, though then only about fifteen years of age, was similar to what it now is — tall, slender, awkward, not apparently very vigorous. His provincial intonation was then very remarkable, and it still remains so; his speech was copious and bizarre. With this gifted and ingenious person I lived on terms of affection so long as he remained in Scotland; since he left Edinburgh and settled first in Dumfriesshire and latterly in London, though our feelings remain the same, our intercourse, even that of an epistolary kind, has been much interrupted.
On my arrival in Edinburgh my companion and I took joint lodgings, consisting of a single bedroom, and the character of the accommodation may be inferred when I mention that the rental was 4s 6d per week, coals included. I joined the Latin and Greek classes, the former taught by Mr Christison, the latter by Mr Dunbar. I also attended for three months a class for English reading taught by William Scott, then a venerable man, author of an English dictionary that bears his name, also of various school books now little used.
My attention to my studies was assiduous and my progress proportionate. My whole funds, which were to keep me during the session and provide for class fees, amounted to £16. I economised them well. Butcher meat I never tasted. As I could not well afford candles, I often stretched myself on the floor and turned up my dictionary by the light of the fire. Early in March my resources became about exhausted, and I waited on the two learned Professors whom I have named to ascertain if the time I had attended might be allowed to pass for a session. I told them at the same time the cause of my making the enquiry. They both agreed to my request considering the circumstances, and considering that I had been invariably regular in my attendance, and they granted me certificates accordingly.
I started next day for home with three shillings and a few coppers in my pocket as my only remaining funds, and had little doubt that I would reach my destination, my sister Mrs Kelly's house in my native parish, 105 miles distant, at the end of the third day. My expectations were entirely frustrated. I had not left Edinburgh many minutes when such a torrent of rain commenced and continued that when I reached Noble House, sixteen miles from town, I felt physically exhausted, and could not proceed further. I therefore took refuge in the inn there. Having told the landlord, Mr Williamson, that I was a student returning from the University, he was very kind. I took a cup of tea and got to bed; expense, 1s 6d. Next morning, which was clear, but the roads very heavy, I started with a hopeful heart but a very weak purpose. I could not afford to breakfast at any inn — but inns were few and far between. I entered a cottage and got bread (oatcake) and milk, the charge sixpence. Without further rest or refreshment I reached Moffat, a distance of about thirty-four miles. Here I had to reckon with my host, for my funds were now reduced to 1s 8d. The result was I bargained in a thirdrate inn for refreshment and a bed for a shilling. I went out and bought a twopenny loaf, and got a glass of spirits, with which I soaked it, for provender for the next day's journey. This plan was recommended to me by Mr Gordon, then minister of my native parish, and was often practised by himself, as he was a great pedestrian. I went early to bed, resolved to start betimes next morning. After enjoying a sound sleep I was awakened by the blowing of a horn as if of a mail coach. Up I rose instanter, dressed, and sallied forth. I saw light in the house, as also in some neighbouring houses, when I got out, and though it was raining hard I congratulated myself on my early start. The night, or morning as I believed, was gloomy and dismal; the rain fell in torrents, and the road, which at some places I could scarcely discern, was overflown with water. I became anxious and nervous. At length, at a distance of three or four miles, I came to a hamlet consisting of a few houses. I stood to consider what was best to be done. I knocked at one of the doors, and after much delay a man's voice was heard demanding what I wanted. I ingenuously told him my simple story, that I was a student, and how on hearing a mail coach pass I had left my inn, thinking it was the Dumfries Mail at six o'clock in the morning. He pointed out my error to my dreadful mortification, and said it had been the Carlisle Mail on its way to Glasgow at eleven o'clock. I confessed my mistake and prayed him to give me shelter. I cared not for a bed. I wished a mere cover from the storm. The man was inexorable. He did not believe my story and ordered me off. I had not the moral courage after this heartless repulse to make another trial. To go back was absurd, and I might not be received, while to go forward was next to impossible. I did not know the way well, having only once travelled it, and the darkness of the night did not admit of its being always traceable. While in this quandary I descried at the end of a house where two roads met, and in the very vicinage of the hamlet, a small haystack. Here I resolved to take refuge for the remainder of the night. I scrambled over the wall, from which I took stones, and made a seat on the leeward side of the stack. There I took my rest, drawing the hay over my head. I could not sleep. I shivered in the cold till daylight appeared, when I resolved to start again. But my limbs were so benumbed that I could only walk with extreme difficulty. I got better, however, as I went on, but continued stiff and lame for days afterwards.
My loaf soaked with whisky now stood me in good stead. It served me for both meat and drink, and revived me unspeakably. I had twopence remaining in my pocket. I walked that day to the Old Bridge of Urr, 31 miles, where resided John McGowan, my father's cousin, who received me most hospitably. I spent three halfpence during the last day's journey, and on my arrival at my kind friend's house I had only a single halfpenny left. I stayed two days at the Old Bridge, then visited my sister and other relatives at my native place; and in the course of a week I returned to my labours at Buittle, where my welcome was most cordial.
Of the farmers in Buittle who were my employers, one of them, Mr John Grierson, Logan, was, though not traceable, a very distant and admitted relation of mine through my mother, Margaret Grierson. His wife, a most excellent woman, was through the Griersons his cousin german, so that I felt and was made to feel that here at Logan I was at home.
It was in the summer of 1811, after returning from College, that I had the privilege of becoming known to a very extraordinary man, the Rev. Alexander Murray, minister of the neighbouring parish of Urr, the great linguist, and a kind, hospitable, and most worthy man. He invited me to his house, treated me with kindness — nay, received me as if we had been of equal position — so that I felt quite easy in his company. His conversation delighted and improved me; his love of books and his strict literary habits and tastes made me look on him with reverence. His wife was simple in her manners, with frank native kindness, and altogether my visits to the manse of Urr made an impression on my mind which, at the end of forty years, I remember with equal gratification and intensity. He was, as a great writer said of an early patron, the first friend that literature procured me, and at least my gratitude made me worthy of his notice. We discussed Calvinistic points together, particularly the doctrine of predestination. Incidentally, he grew warm on literary subjects. He was also full of anecdote, so that a night at Urr manse was an occasion of which any man might be proud.
I have always liked to visit manses, and I have always cultivated the society of clergymen. They are a noble class of men, intelligent, liberal, and lively, given to hospitality, of independent mind, and of sound principles. They mix the gay and the grave most agreeably, preferring, on the whole, the former to the latter. That parish is blest that has a good and judicious clergyman. He forms a link between the high and the low under his professional care. He is an example to all parties, promotes proper sympathies and sentiments, and the beneficial influence of his character pervades the whole community.
Having resolved to return to College in November, 1811, I resigned my engagement in Buittle, trusting to succeed in Edinburgh. With this view I had letters of introduction from Mr Murray to Professor Christison, Professor David Ritchie (Logic), to Mr Crawford, chaplain, Edinburgh Castle; and to Mr Grierson, Writer to the Signet. To this last gentleman I had also a letter from his niece, Mrs Grierson of Logan, the wife of one of my constituents. By all these gentlemen I was well received, but by none so cordially as by Mr Grierson, who recognised me as a relative. He was a bachelor, and visits to him were therefore the more informal. He had been a friend of Robert Burns, and had, besides, mixed with the best society. Being from the Glenkens, he was fond of his native Galloway. I breakfasted with him every Sunday morning from the time I was made known to him till I left Edinburgh to become a family tutor in Wigtownshire, in May, 1815.
My first employment in Edinburgh was got through Mr Grierson. This was in January, 1812, when I was engaged to give lessons to the only son of William Hagart, wine merchant; my fee being £5 per two months, or £30 annually. This
engagement lasted till September of the same year, when my pupil was placed at Closeburn Academy. When I was informed that my services were to be no longer required I was thunderstruck and alarmed. Here I was in the midst of
strangers, without any spare cash and without a home, either in Edinburgh or elsewhere. I did not, however, despair, but hoped that something good might yet occur. The darkest hour is that before daybreak. The very week in which my connection, which had been a most happy one, with Mr Hagart terminated, I formed a similar connection with Mr Thomas Jameson, Leith, brother of Professor Jameson, which yielded me £4 monthly, a sum that appeared to me at the time to be inexhaustible. This place I also obtained through my friend, Mr Grierson. These two families, the Hagarts and the Jamesons, treated me with great kindness, asked me to their table, and made me forget while I was in their company that our positions were very dissimilar. I thus began to be introduced into society, and to learn some of the proprieties of social life.
Meanwhile I prosecuted my studies at College, read much, and became devoted to literary pursuits. I tried my hand at literary composition, contributed some articles to the Scots Magazine, also various articles, such as a life of Robert Heron, to the Dumfries Courier. My friend, Mr Carlyle, had, like myself, got employment in town as a private teacher, and he and I spent our leisure hours together. He literally devoured books. He read through Chalmers's edition of the British Essayists, forty-five volumes, without interruption, a herculean task. His reading was miscellaneous; but he preferred works of sentiment, such as the British Essayists, Shakespeare, the English poets, Burns, etc. He was not given to history or metaphysics. At College he excelled eminently in mathematics, and gained the friendship of Professor Leslie, who quotes his ingenious pupil in a note to his Elements of Mathematics. Mr Carlyle was, like myself, a frequent contributor to the Dumfries Courier. He removed from Edinburgh previously to my leaving it, as in 1814 he had been appointed to be teacher of mathematics in Annan Academy, which office he obtained as the result of comparative trial. His various letters addressed to me are minute on this and other kindred subjects.
Among other acquaintances which he and I formed there were two that cannot be omitted — namely, Stewart Lewis and William Scott Irving. Lewis's father was a Jacobite, and he called a boy born to him some time after the Rebellion of 1745 Stewart, in honour of the Pretender. Stewart was a wayward son of genius. He had been brought up to the humble trade of a tailor, became a soldier, and after the peace he resumed at irregular intervals his original occupation; dissipation, however, ruined him and kept him in the lowest state of misery and destitution. But he had no mean genius; his "Fair Helen of Kirkconnell Lee," "Annan's Winding Stream," " Elegaic Verses on the Death of an Only Son," and other productions, would do honour to a versifier of far greater pretensions, and will not allow the name of Stewart Lewis to die.
Part 2, being further notes by Mr Fairley, follow from here, but it is not transcribed. Click here to read the book.