Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, 303 of Feeling,” was the only individual whose name was made public at the time.’ The origin and progress of the club is related in the concluding number of the Mirror. The object at first contemplated by the contributors was simply that of relaxation from severer studies; and, by committing their thoughts to writing, to improve and extend their tastes on various subjects connected with the belles lettres. Their essays were read at weekly meetings held for the purpose ; and for some time no farther extent of publicity was given to the transactions of this club, which generally met in a tavern.’ Lord Craig (then an advocate) was one of the most zealous members ; and with him originated the idea of publishing the essays. Next to those of Mackenzie, the contributions of his lordship were the most numerous; and are distinguished for a chaste and elegant style of composition. The Mirror commenced in January 1779 and terminated in May 1780. It was published weekly ; and each number formed a small folio sheet, which was sold at three half-pence. The thirty-sixth number of this work, written by Lord Craig, “ contributed,” says Dr. Anderson (Lives of the Poets, vol. ii., p. 273), ‘‘ in no inconsiderable degree to rescue from oblivion the name and writings of the ingenious and amiable young poet, Michael Bruce.” The Lounger,’ to which Lord Craig also contributed largely, was commenced several years afterwards by the same club of gentlemen ; and both periodical works have passed through numerous editions, and become standard British classics. In private life Lord Craig was much esteemed for his gentle and courteous manners, and the benevolence and hospitality of his disposition. In person he might be reckoned handsome, and was rather above the middle size. A fine portrait of him, in his later years, by Sir Henry Raeburn, long graced the walls of the house occupied by the late Robert Sym, Esq., in George Square. Besides Mackenzie and Lord Craig, the gentlemen connected with the Club were, Mr. Alexander Abercromby, afterwards Lord Abercromby (uncle of the Speaker) ; Mr. Robed Cullen, afterwards Lord Cullen ; Mr. Macleod Bannatyne, afterwards Lord Bannatyne ; Mr. George Home (by a strange mistake, in the new edition of Scotl’s Works this gentleman has been seated on the bench aa Lord Wedderburn), afterwards a Principal Clerk of Session ; Mr. William Gordon of Newhall ; and Mr. George Ogilvie. The association wm at first termed the Tabernacle; but when the resolution of publishing was adopted, it assumed the name of the Mirror CZub. To the ninth edition of the Mirror, publiihed in 1792, and the sixth of the Lounger, in 1794, are prefixed the names of the authors. Among the correspondents were-Lord Hailes, Mr. Baron Hume, Mr. Tytler and his Son (Lord Woodhouselee), Professor Richardson, Dr. Beattie, Dr. Henry, and other eminent literary persons. a The club met sometimes in CZmihugh’s, Writers’ Court ; sometimes in Somers’, opposite the Guard-House in the High Street ; sometimes in Stewart’s oyster house, Old Fishmarket Close ; and fully as often, perhaps, in Lucky Dunbar’s-a moderate and obscure house, situated in an alley leading betwixt Forrester’s and Libberton’s Wynd. * In one of the numbers of this periodical work appeared a short review of the first (or Kilmarnock) edition of the poems of Burns. The notice was written by Henry Mackenzie ; and it may be said, with some truth, that this production of the “ Man of Feeling” proved the means of deciding the fate, and probably the fame of the bard. He was an unknown wight, and on the eve of bidding farewell to hia native country, when the Lmmgw, and the kind exertions of Dr. Blacklock the poet, happily brought him into notice, and procured for him the patronage of the learned and fashionable circles of Ediiburgh.
Volume 8 Page 424
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