Imagens da página

nature, extent, and objects of this compound literary, and laborious engagement, in which Mr Smellie was employed when only nineteen years of age, will best appear from the following letter from his respectable employers, here copied from the original in the possession of his eldest son and successor.

No. I.

To Mr William Smellie, Printer in Edin


Sir, Edinburgh, 6th September 1759.

You and we have lately come to the following agreement : viz. You engage to employ your time in correcting for us and partners, printers in Edinburgh; in collecting such articles for our Magazine as we shall direct ; in making abstracts, extracts, or transcripts of such pieces as we may have occasion for ; or in writing accounts; and, in cases of hurry of printing, in composing, or case work; for which we hereby agree to pay you sixteen shillings Sterling weekly. This agreement to last for a whole year,


from and after the twenty-second day of September current, and thereafter till you or we chuse to discontinue it, of which the party desirous to discontinue the agreement shall give the other three months premonition or previous notice. As this letter is binding on us for the performance of our part of the agreement, we desire that you will write us an answer that may be equally binding on you for your part of the same.

We are, Sir,
Your well-wishers and humble servants,

James Cochrane.

· As the engagement with Messrs Murray & Cochrane began in the end of September 1759, and continued till the end of March 1765, when Mr Smellie first settled in business as a master printer, he must have been engaged in the conduct of the Scots Magazine for the five entire years or volumes, 1760, 1, 2, 3, and 4, besides three numbers or months of 1759, and three months of 1765. But no memorial remains of the precise extent of his labours in this literary and miscellaneous journal; though, from the tenor of the letter of engagement with his masters, he probably had nearly the entire charge of its compilation. The actual firm of this copartnery was Sands, MURRAY, & Cochrane, Mr Sands was a respectable bookseller in Edinburgh, who was succeeded in business by the late Mr CHARLES Elliot, who was remarkably liberal in his payments to authors, and who, as will be more particularly mentioned hereafter, gave to Mr Smellie the largest sum ever paid in Edinburgh, åt and before that time, for literary property, being one thousand guineas, besides other contingent advantages, for a single quarto volume, not one sentence of which was composed at the time the bargain was concluded.

Mr Smellie had very early qualified himself for thus rising beyond the mere servile and mechanical part of his profession, by carefully preserving and extending the education which had been bestowed upon him by his father. Although not mentioned in the foregoing letter of agreement with Messrs MurRAY & COCHRANE, it will be seen in some of the letters in his subsequent correspondence, that they indulged him, whether from stipulation, or from voluntarily noticing his strong propensity for improvement in science and literature, does not certainly appear, with the allowance of three hours a day for the prosecution of his studies. This valuable privilege he eagerly availed himself of, by devoting that time to the acquisition of knowledge; for which purpose he sedulously attended the various courses of lectures then delivered in the University, and profited by the instruction of several eminent teachers in various branches of knowledge. We have no distinct account now remaining of the precise course of his studies; but, from circumstances which will be found in that portion of his correspondence which we have deemed of sufficient interest to be inserted in these Memoirs, it is quite certain that he went through a regular series of those academical exercises which are prescribed as the necessary preparations for entering upon the study of theology. These, besides the Humanity and Greek classes, are the lectures upon Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, with Logic, Rhetoric, or Belles Lettres, Metaphysics, or Moral Philosophy, and Hebrew. We know likewise, from the sources of information above referred to, that he carefully attended all the medical lectures of the University, including Botany, for which he had a decid

ed taste, and that he retained during his whole life a peculiar preference for Natural History

In proof of his early and sedulous application to various studies, the following extract of a letter from the Rev. Dr THOMAS MilLER, minister of Cumnock, to the present Mr ALEXANDER Smellie, is adduced.

No. II.


Smellie. SIR,

Cumnock, 11th July 1810. So long ago as the year 1758, your worthy father and I were fellow students at the Hebrew class, which he attended for the sake of enabling him to superintend the printing of a Hebrew Grammar edited by our then teacher, Professor Robertson. From this casual acquaintance between us, a more intimate intercourse ensued, which subsisted for several years, and which only ceased by my leaving town in 1764, and thereafter residing in the country. We never corresponded by letters; nor do I recollect that any passed between us but at the time of publishing his Philosophy of Natural History, which, for his

« AnteriorContinuar »