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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


208 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. In these nine volumes he comprehended all that was contained in the original, which consisted of sixteen large quarto volumes. The method he pursued of rendering it into the English language was somewhat unusual. Instead of translating literally, paragraph by paragraph, and sentence by sentence, he deliberately read over six or eight pages at a time, making himself perfectly master of their substance, and then wrote down the whole in English, in his own words and arrangement. The greater part of this task he performed in a small correctingroom connected with his printing-office, amidst the continual interruption farising from the introduction of proof-sheets of other works for his professional revisal, and the almost perpetual calls of customers, authors, and idle acquaintances. Yet kuch was his self-possession, that, as usual with almost everything he wrote, he gave it out to his compositors page by page, as fast as it was written, and hardly ever found it necessary to alter a single word after the types were set up from his first uncorrected manuscript. In'Aupst 1781, Mr. Smellie drew up the first regular plan for procuring a statistical account of the parishes of Scotland. This plan was printed and distributed by order of the Society of Antiquaries ; and although no other result followed at the time than a st,atistical report, by the Earl of Buchan, of the parish of Uphall, in which his lordship then resided, along with three or four others, which were printed in the Society's Transactions, yet it is proper to mention the circumstance, as it was the precursor of the scheme which the late Sir John Sinclair afterwards brought to maturity. On the death of Dr. Ramsay in 1775, Mr. Smellie became a candidate for the Chair of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh. The patronage being in the gift of the Crown, his friends made strong and ardent applications in his favour to Lord Suffolk ; but from the superior political influence of his opponent, Dr. Walker, these exertions were unsuccessful, Mr. Smellie was one of the original founders of the Society of Antiquaries. In 1781 he was appointed Superintendent of its Museum of Natural History ; and in 1793 he was elected Secretary. It is not intended here to give a history of that Society ; yet, as a considerable portion of the strange and inexplicable opposition which that Association encountered, in their application for a royal charter, from two highly respectable public bodies, originated out of circuinstances intimately connected With Mr. Smellie's history, a short account of these transactions may be given. Mr. Smellie having announced his intention of giving a course of lectures, at the request of the 'Society, on the Philosophy of Natural History, to be delivered in their hall, this proposal gave great dissatisfaction to Dr. Walker, the recently elected Professor of Natural History, already mentioned ; although every attempt was made by the Earl of Enchan to satisfy him that Mr. Smellie's lectures would not interfere with those of the University, and although Dr, Walker had not given even L single lecture for nearly seven years after his appointment. Nothing, however, would satisfy him ; and his answer to the Earl's pacific endeavours was-'' In the professorship P am soon to undertake I have foreseen many difficulties, which I yet hope to surmount ;
Volume 8 Page 293
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