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hence. On the receipt of your analysis, I forwarded your paper to the gentleman here alluded to; who, to my great loss, and that of the public, is now no more! You may, perhaps, have seen the character of this learned and excellent person in some of the newspapers, where he is stiled the Philosopher of Massingham : His name was Bewly; but all that has been said in his praise falls short of his extraordinary merit. Yesterday I received information that all the books and papers which my late worthy friend had, in connexion with the Monthly Review, will soon be returned by his widow. When they arrive at this place, I shall possibly know what has been the fate of your paper. It is possible he may have marked it for insertion, with or without alteration; or he might have prepared some account of his own. I have said possibly, because the acceptance of communications is by no means a usual thing with the Monthly Reviewers ; never, indeed, but where they truly convey the reviewers sentiments. But, concerning this matter, I shall probably be enabled to give you farther intelligence in a short time hence. Meanwhile, I remain, &c.
The first copartnery into which Mr SmelLIE had entered with the Messrs Aulds, as already mentioned, was dissolved in less than two years, in consequence of Mr ROBERT Auld withdrawing from the concern.
But a new company was immediately formed, by the accession of Mr John Balfour, late bookseller in Edinburgh, who had formerly belonged to the firm of Hamilton, Balfour, and Neil, with whom Mr SMELLIE had served his apprenticeship. The new copartnership consisted of Mr John Balfour, Mr WILLIAM Auld, and Mr WILLIAM Smellie, and commenced business on the 22d December 1766. Mr BALFOUR appears to have brought along with him, into this new concern, the newspaper or Journal which had formerly been carried on by Messrs HamilTON, BALFOUR, and Neil; or at least this new company certainly did publish a newspaper. This circumstance is ascertained by the following letter from Mr SMELLIES partner Mr WILLIAM AULD, who seems to have then been at some distance from Edinburgh.
Mr WILLIAM AULD to Mr WILLIAM SMELLÍE.
30th April 1768. I have just read your paragraph in the Journal concerning Bowed Joseph and his procession ; which is indeed diverting enough, if it bring no reflections. But no doubt you are acquainted with the facts, and can best judge upon what grounds they are founded. If there was a real procession, what meanness not to take notice of it! If it is altogether imaginary, I hope you will be answerable for the paragraph.
IF BALTIMORes trial is finished, send me a copy by the post. I am, &c.
The person named Bowed or crooked Joseph, in this letter, was a low blackguard cobler ; who, by dint of fearless effrontery, long led the Edinburgh mobs ; and frequent
ly excited or directed lawless excesses which would not now be tolerated, and were then a disgrace to the want of energy in the Magistrates. In those days, as hinted at in this letter, the Scots printers trembled to venture upon the slightest allusion that might be construed into the smallest offence by those who held themselves to be of the higher orders ; yet mobs were then almost permitted to do as they pleased. In our more modern days of various improvement, those matters are fortunately reversed: The scandalous excesses of mobs are either not heard of, or are repressed by the firm and temperate determination and exertion of well regulated civil authority; and the Scots press is fast approximating to a full participation of the liberties enjoyed in the sister kingdom of England. The entire abolition of the undefined and undefinable nobile officium, and the full introduction of jury trials for all alleged misdemeanors or libels, would consolidate the political independence of Scotland upon a footing equal to that enjoyed in England : For the time is now happily gone bye, when the frown of the sub-deputy-agent of a party could controul the freedom of literary or Vol. I.
constitutional discussion, and blast the sale of the efforts of genius.—Requiescat in pace!
It is told of Bowed Joseph, that when leader of a numerous mob occasioned by the scarcity and dearness of oat-meal, after a bad harvest, their indignation was chiefly levelled against the dealers in that necessary article of subsistence, then called Meal-mongers, under the vulgar notion that they held back the meal from market, and artificially enhanced its price, by a fancied crime, still remaining on our statute book, called forestalling. The mob proceeded to assail the houses of these dealers, and to seize and distribute their stores of meal among themselves: But Joseph, their ruler, affixed what he
presumed to be a just and moderate price, which he took care should be paid into his own hands for every particle of meal carried away, and which he honestly delivered to the proprietors, who would otherwise have lost all. In this part of his conduct, however justly reprehensible on the whole, though he acted as leader of the mob, he was in some measure the moderator likewise.