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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 209 but the lectures of Mr. Smellie, under the auspices of the Antiquarian Society, is a new discouragement which I did not expect.” This discontent was communicated to the Senatus Academicus, and, through that respectable body, an unexpected opposition arose when the Society of Antiquaries transmitted a petition to the King praying for a charter. The Curators of the Advocates’ Library likewise objected to the grant, under the idea that the institution of the Society might prove injurious to their magnificent Library, by intercepting ancient manuscripts and monuments illustrative of Scottish history and antiquities, which would be more useful if collected into one repository. All this opposition, however, proved of no avail. Much to the honour of the late Lord Melville-who was at that time Lord Advocate for Scotland-his lordship signified, by a note to the Secretary of the Society, that he saw no reason for refusing the prayer of the petition, and at the same time transmitted the draft of such a charter as he considered was proper to be granted. In consequence, therefore, of his lordship’s favourable interposition, the royal warrant, in which his Majesty was pleased voluntarily to declare himself patron of the Society, passed the Privy Seal next day. As soon as it was received in Edinburgh, a charter was extended under the Great Seal. The gentlemen of this public office, sensible of the many advantages likely to accrue from the establishment of the Society, generously refused to accept their accustomed fees; and the royal charter, which is dated the 29th March, was finally ratified, by passing through all the customary forms, on the 5th and 6th of May 1783. During the time Mr. Smellie attended the class of Botany in the University, the Professor, Dr. Hope, having met with an accident which confined him to the house for a long time, requested Mr. Smellie, of whose knowledge and abilities he was highly sensible, to carry on his lectures during his necessary absence. This was done by Mr. Smellie for a considerable time-(his widow has stated during six weeks)-to the entire satisfaction of his fellow-students. Mr. Smellie was about the middle size, and had been in his youth wellproportioned and active ; but, when rather past the middle of life, he acquired a sort of lounging gait, and had become careless and somewhat slovenly in his dress and appearance. These peculiarities are well described in the following lines, produced by Burns at the meeting of the Crochallan club alluded to in our notice of Lord Newton :- “ To Crochallan came, The old cocked hat, the brown surtout the aame : His bristling beard just rising in its might, ( ’Twsa four long nights and day8 to shaving-night) ; His uncombed grisly locks, wild-staring, thatched A head for thought profound and clear unmatched : And, though his caustic wit waa biting rude, His heart waa warm, benevolent, and good.” In grave and philosophical discourse Mr. Smellie was clear, candid, and communicative, as well as thoroughly informed, He never withheld his judg- 2E
Volume 8 Page 294
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