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in Scots law proceedings, originated during the usurpation of Oliver Cromwell, who supplied the Scots bench with English judges. The spoken language of Scotland at that period, even among men of education, seems to have been considerably more dissimilar to English than it now is, as the English judges were utterly unable to comprehend the language used in argument before them at the Scots bar; and gave orders, therefore, that the arguments on both sides should be printed for their deliberate consideration; and the practice has been continued ever since. It is said that there are every year printed at Edinburgh for this sole purpose, 90,000 full quarto pages, equal to 150 well-sized quarto volumes. What adds very considerably to this voluminous mass of printed law is, that, instead of witnesses being examined viva voce before the Court, their depositions are taken down separately by commissioners especially appointed for the purpose, and are all printed before they are submitted to the consideration of the Judges: And, besides, all written documents founded upon as evidence, or adminicles of proof, on both sides, are likewise printed.
Even within memory, some of the best educated Scots men, and gentlemen of most respectable rank, continued to use the unadulterated broad Scots dialect. The late ROBERT MacQueen of Braxfield, an eminent lawyer and judge, and Lord Justice-Clerk, or chief Judge of the Supreme Criminal Court, and the late pious, learned, and eloquent minister of the gospel, Dr John ERSKINE, both rigidly adhered to this dialect in all their public appearances. In the present day, however, young gentlemen, who are studying for the pulpit and the bar, uniformly make English elocution a part of their education ; and the language of Scots people of family and education is fast assimịlating to that of England.
From similar circumstances with those already mentioned, in respect to the date of Mr Smellies birth, it has not been possible to discover the name of his mother, who died when he was extremely young, as we learn from a letter in his correspondence with one of the early friends of his youth, which will be found in an after part of these Memoirs. He likewise soon lost his respectable father, who left him no inheritance, saving the exemplary memorial of a well spent, religious,
and strictly moral life, and the inestimable advantage of a good fundamental education. Besides William, who was his youngest son, ALEXANDER SMEllie left one other son and three daughters. John, the oldest son, was bred to the profession of a mason, and married Agnes Ferrier, sister to the present James Ferrier, Esq. Clerk of Session, and grand-daughter of Sir William Hamilton, Bart. of Westport, near Linlithgow. Anne, the eldest daughter, married a Mr Mabon, shipmaster belonging to the port of Leith, Helen, the second daughter, died unmarried. Elizabeth, the youngest, married a Mr Duff, merchant in London. Such is the account of this family as recollected by Mr Smellies widow.
During his apprenticeship, the exemplary diligence and regular conduct of our young printer, and his early indication of superior intelligence, may be appreciated by the following extracts from two recent letters to his son, Mr ALEXANDER SMELLIE. Dr RoBERT HAMILTON, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Aberdeen, the son of one of his masters, writes thus. 6 Your father was considered as a capital and steady
compositor, and was employed in every
work that required particular accuracy.” On the same subject, the worthy, respectable, and Reverend Dr SAMUEL CHARTERS, minister of the parish of Wilton near Hawick, in the county of Roxburgh, who was an early and longcontinued friend of Mr Smellie, writes as follows. 66 When I resided with your father, his manner of living was uniform and regular. He was constantly employed in the printingoffice during the day, and occupied all his evenings in study or in literary pursuits.”
The estimation in which his conduct and abilities were held by his masters may easily be judged of from this circumstance; that, two years before the expiration of his apprenticeship, they appointed him to the important employment of corrector of their press, with a weekly allowance of ten shillings. This certainly was a large salary in those days, for a young man in the situation of an apprentice, and to whom they were only bound by the indentures to pay three shillings a week; and the circumstance reflects honour both on the masters and their youthful corrector of the press ; on the former, for their
liberality and discernment ; on the latter, for his abilities and meritorious conduct. The comparatively equivalent wages between 1756 or 1757, when this arrangement took place, and the present year 1810, at the distance of rather more than half a century, cannot be now satisfactorily ascertained ; but from an attentive consideration of the change in the prices of every necessary of life since that time, ten shillings would then have procured as much essential comfort and accommodation in Edinburgh, as thirty shillings will now.
The nephew of one of his masters, Mr PATRICK Neil, formerly mentioned, reports, that young Smellie, when an apprentice, was remarkable for being what is technically called a clean setter ; that is, his work was uncommonly neat and accurate, and required exceedingly few corrections. likewise uncommonly diligent and quick in his work, and might have vied with the celebrated FRANKLIN, likewise a printer, in the quantity of matter which he composed ; in ordinary language, in the quantity of work which he executed.