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68

BEATTIE'S. ESSAY ON TRUTH.

joined with a degree of cheerfulness, affability, and ease that was to me surprising, and soon dissipated · the embarrassment which I felt at the beginning of the conference. They both complimented me in the highest terms possible on my Essay, which they said was a book they always kept by them; and the king said he had orie copy of it at Kew and another in town, and immediately went and took it down from a shelf. I found it was the second edition. I never stole a book but once,' said his Majesty, and that was yours ! speaking to me; ' I stole it from the

queen

to give it Lord Hertford to read.' He had heard that the sale of Hume's Essays had failed since

my

book was published, and I told him what Mr. Strahan had told me in regard to that matter. He had even heard of iny being at Edinburgh last summer, and how Mr. Hume was offended on the score of my book. He asked many questions about the second part of 'my Essay, and when it would be ready for the press. I gave him in a short speech an account of the plan of it, and said my health was so precarious I could not tell when it might be ready, as I had many books to consult before I could finish it, but that if my health were good I thought I might bring it to a conclusion in two or three years. He asked how long I had been composing my Essay, praised the caution with which it was written, and said he did not wonder that it had employed five or six years. He asked about my poems. I said there was only one poem of my own on which I set any value, (meaning the Minstrel) and

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that it was first published about the same time with the Essay. My other poems, I said, were incorrect, being but juvenile pieces, and of little consequence even in my own opinion,

“¢ We had much conversation on moral subjects, from which both their Majesties let it appear that they were warm friends to Christianity, and so little inclined to infidelity, that they could hardly believe that any thinking man could really be an Atheist unless he could bring himself to believe that he made himself, a thought which pleased the king exceedingly, and he repeated it several times to the queen. He asked whether any thing had been written against me. I spoke of a late pamphlet, and of which I gave an account, telling him that I had never met with any man who had read it except one Quaker. This brought on some discourse about the Quakers, whose moderation and mild behaviour the king and queen commended. I was asked many questions about the Scotch aniversities, the revenues of the Scotch clergy, their mode of praying and preaching; the medical college of Edinburgh; Dr. Gregory (of whom I gave a particnlar character), and Dr. Cullen; the length of our vacationi at Aberdeen, and the closeness of our attendance during winter; the number of students thati attend my lectures ;' my mode of lecturing, whether from notes or completely written lectures ; about Mr. Hume and Dr. Robertson, and Lord Kin-i nonl and the Archbishop of York, &c. &c. &c. His Majesty asked what I thought of my new acquainta

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70

KING'S OPINION OF THE LITURGY.

ance Lord Dartmouth. I said there was something in his air and manner which I thought not only agreeable but enchanting, and that he seemed to me to be one of the best of men; a sentiment in which both their Majesties heartily joined. “They say that Lord Dartmouth is an enthusiast,' said the king, but surely he says nothing on the subject of religion but what every Christian may and ought to say. He asked whether I did not think the English language on the decline at present. I answered in the affirmative, and the king agreed, and named the Spectator as one of the best standards of the language. When I told him that the Scotch clergy sometimes prayed a quarter or even half an hour at a time, he asked, whether that did not lead. often into repetitions. I said, it often did. That,' said he, • I don't like in prayers, and excellent as our liturgy is, I think it somewhat faulty in that respect. Your Majesty knows,' said I, that three services are joined in one in the ordinary church service, which is one cause of those repetitions.' " True,' he replied, and that circumstance makes the service too long. From this he took occasion to speak of the composition of the church liturgy, on which he very justly bestowed the highest commendation. Observe,' his Majesty said, • how flat those occasional prayers are that are now composed in comparison with the old ones.' When I mentioned the smallness of the church livings in Scotland, he said, '' he wondered how men of liberal education would choose to become clergymen threre;'

CLOSE OF INTERVIEW.

and asked, whether in the remote parts of the country the clergy in general were not very ignorant.' I answered, “No; for that education was very cheap in Scotland, and that the clergy in general were men of good seuse and competent learning. He asked,

whether we had any good preachers at Aberdeen.' I said, 'Yes,' and named Campbell and Gerard, with whose names, however, I did not find he was acquainted. Dr. Majendie mentioned Dr. Oswald's appeal with commendation; I praised it too; and the queen took down the name with a view to send for it. I was asked whether I knew Dr. Oswald; I answered I did not, and said that my book was published before I read his; that Dr. O, was well known to Lord Kinnoul, who had often proposed to make us acquainted. We discussed a great many other topics, for the conversation, as was before observed, lasted for upwards of an hour without any intermission. The queen bore a large share in it. Both the king and her majesty shewed a great deal of good sense, acuteness and knowledge, as well as of good nature and affability. At last the king took out his watch (for it was now almost three o'clock, his hour of dinner, which Dr. Majendie and I took as a signal to withdraw. We accordingly bowed to their Majesties, and I addressed the king in these words, I hope, Sir, your Majesty will pardon me if I take the opportunity to return you my hum. ble and most grateful acknowledgements for the honour you have been pleased to confer upon me.' He immediately answered, I think I could do no less

72

QUEEN'S ELEGANT MANNERS.

for a man who has done so much service to the cause of Christianity. I shall always be glad of an oppore turity to shew the good opinion I have of you.' The queen sate all the wbile, and the king stood, sometimes walking about a little. Her Majesty speaks the English language with surprising elegance, and little or nothing of a foreign accent. There is something wonderfully captivating in her manners, so that if she were only of the rank of a private gentlewoman one could not help taking notice of her as one of the most agreeable women in the world. Her face is much more pleasing than any of her pictures, and in the expression of her eyes and in her smile there is something peculiarly engaging. When the doctor and I came out, pray,' said I, how did I behave ? Tell me honestly, for I am not accustomed to conversations of this kind.' Why, perfectly well,' answered he, “and just as you ought to do.' Are

you sure of that?" said 1.

• As sure,' he replied, my own existence, and you may be assured of it too when I tell you, that if there had been any thing in your manners or conversation which was not perfectly agreeable, your conference would have been at an end in eight or ten minutes at most.? The doctor afterwards told me that it was a most uncommon thing for a private man, and a commoner, to be honoured with so long an audience. I dined with Dr. and Mrs. Majendie and their family, and returned to town in the evening very much pleased with the occurrences of the day.”

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