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PREFACE AND DEDICATION.
THIS Book has been written for the Working Classes. Why so? At the age of twelve I was one of themselves. I wrought on iron, steel, and brass, and also engraved on stone. My father and his brother were seal engravers to the king. My predecessor was Greville Ewing. I sat on his vacant stool. He had broken his indenture that he might study divinity. My father refused to discharge him, but did not exact the penalty. He became an Evangelical Dissenter, and was held in high repute in Glasgow (see Kay's Caricatures). But why should I, in a Preface to Philosophy, refer to my early history? My answer is, that my readers may know whether it is worth their while to believe me, seeing I have nothing else to recommend me. Hence I shall proceed. May be what I am about to relate will at least amuse, or at best beguile, an otherwise idle hour. At the age of fourteen, I was bound apprentice to a lawyer-our City's Fiscal. This change was highly beneficial. Our first clerk, M'Queen, was a philosopher. On his right hand lay Locke's Essays, on his left Euclid's Elements. He taught me mathematics, and puzzled us with hard questions, which none of us could solve. I, however, for once succeeded, and my success pleased him. The question was, How many spirits of devils can dance on the point of a needle ? I solved it thus: Describe a circle round a given point; next, draw five radii—we were five-hence we called ourselves devils, and by our wild conduct we certainly deserved that name. (Our old woman, when excited, used to say, "It is a wonder that the heavens did not fall down and smoor us.") Well, said I, a radius is a straight line, and, according to Euclid, it has length without breadth ; hence five devils, as spirits, may locate on one central point. Again, the radii of a circle are in number infinite, hence if we could see them we would see them all resting on the same central point. But what is a point? It is sharper than our office needle, for it has position without magnitude. Hence I gained applause. This opened to me the first gate of Philosophy. Scepticism! One of the city officers had lodged a report; there is a secret meeting, said he, held in the Pleasance by men called atheists. My master held a consultation with the Lord Advocate. I was present, and his lordship seemed pleased when he was informed that their number was not more than five. Ah! said he, all this is the fruit of David Hume and Hugo Arnot's atheistical philosophy; but my advice
is, "Let them alone." To punish them would only give them greater notoriety.* We had no police in those days. The city was in charge of a company of soldiers-old fogies-who were also named town rats. This name was derived from the locality of their guard-house, beneath which was the Black-hole-a dark, doleful, and disgustful keep. We used to "keek through the keyhole," and run away from very fright. The influence which these old soldiers had over all youngsters was so great, that the first appearance of one often put a hundred boys to flight. Boys will be boys," but our game was often rather serious. It was called a bicker, i. e. a regular fight. Betwixt the Herioties (Heriot's boys) and the Watsons there had for long existed a deadly feud, but why so not one could tell the cause. They fought with sticks and stones. The High School boys sided with the Watsons, who were all merchants' sons. The Cowgate boys sided with the Herioties, for they were all sons of tradesmen. The rich and the poor form two classes all the world over. They envy each other, hence their mutual jealousy and strife-they never peacefully unite. I could tell many stories by which I could exemplify acts of individual daring, exhibiting, not mean cunning, but true and courageous generalship, with noble generosity to boot. The same kind of feuds existed in the north, i. e. at the west end of Queen Street. One party consisted of the sons of the gentry, the others were carters' and millers' sons, belonging to the Water of Leith and Canonmills. Wylie, afterwards a W.S., was a first-rate general. Heroism was the pre-requisite for this no mean office. He had one tree leg, but that was no impediment to him, for, with a stick in his left hand, and his tree leg (unscrewed) in the other, five dozen of the enemy dared not stand before him. Stand! stand! was all their cry, but few even dared to stand. Anon an old fogie appeared in sight, hence in a moment all and all were put to flight! The Black-hole was our horror. My father knew not that my brother and I took part in these amusements. On one occasion my brother received a severe contusion. As we were leading him out of the fray we met one Captain Dickson. "Ho!" said he, "blood and wounds! Hurrah! You have at least the glory!" He, like a good Samaritan, took us in. "I must take you to the cockpit" (kitchen). Water, Jenny, water." The wound was deep; it bled profusely, but after two hours it stopped of itself; the water seemed rather to encourage it. Still, he beguiled the time by telling us old stories. He fought all his battles over again, and ended each by repeating the old phrase, You see, my lads, we cared not for "blood and wounds; our only cry was Death or victory." On returning home, my father was wroth, and made us pledge never to do the like again. We both loved and feared our
* Hugo Arnot was a walking skeleton. One day he was in W. Creech's shop, High Street. A poor woman came in to buy a Bible. What! said he, would you buy such a worthless book? The poor woman turned on her heel, exclaiming, "And he's an anatomy too! I'll no be sic a fool to buy a Bible here; may be it will not be a true ane." Creech said to Hugo, You have lost me one customer, that's clear.
†These feuds at last became so alarming, that a regular police force was often thought of. This ultimately became a matter of necessity, for the throwing of squibs and crackers in honour of his majesty always ended in an irregular fight. The many were too many for the few on every king's birthnight. On these occasions the mobocracy were privileged to take possession of the High Street entirely; meanwhile the magistrates were indulging themselves and their friends the gentry, in drinking "healths" in bumpers to the king, queen, and royal family, to the army and navy, glorious victory!" The Parliament House was the usual scene of all their hilarity. The time of dismissal was the signal for a row, all things had till then gone on most peacefully. The mob, however, all in a
father, hence we obeyed him. You see, said he, all this has come out of the French Revolution! In my young days, he often said, the rich and the poor lived under one roof happily together, the poor were contented with their garrets, the rich with the best flats; but now no servant keeps his place, they are all so fond of changes. Indeed, said he, they know not what they would be at. "Tom Payne," he said, had overturned their reason, for, as the Bible truly said, godliness with contentment is great gain; therefore even soldiers should be content with their wages. Ah, said he, the Bible always gives its reason! He kept Tom Payne's "Rights of Man" locked up in his private library; and yet, after all, he stuck to the good old rule, i. e. he paid all his workers, not as now,
moment, seemed to think that they had as good a right as the gentry had to drink at the expense of the city's exchequer, hence they freely abused and knocked down many of the inebriated gentry. The High Constables, as conservators of the peace, were on these occasions always upon duty, hence when they, from the Royal Exchange, observed any unfair fight, they rushed out in full fury-pell mell and helter skelter followed. "Stand! stand!" was still the cry, and many a brick-bat was let fly, and by which the High Constables were not a little admonished. We youngsters, at windows or in common stairs, as lookers-on, enjoyed the fray, and were no less astonished. The Constables were afterwards taught the true value of discipline. They then formed into line, and after flourishing their batons, charged the mob, who instantly fled as before an avalanche. All this to us youngsters was glorious fun, for the High Constables had gained the victory. For a week we talked of nothing else, saying such and such a one had done his irksome duty nobly. The risk, however, was seen to be greater than what seemed necessary. Hence a regular police was instituted. You now, my young friends, must see at a glance that the vox populi (voice of the people) is nothing else than vox diaboli (voice of the devil, sheer wickedness), rather than vox Dei (the voice of God). Why so? All men have not faith in the word of God, as contained in the Holy Bible. The plain fact is, that the many, for their own sakes, must either elect one of themselves, or else some other, to preserve ORDER, without which no man could possibly enjoy social peace, i. e. his life would not to him be worth the having. Hence the question is, which of all governments is the best? Aristotle and Cicero answered, having judged by Grecian and Roman experience, that a threefold mixture is the best, viz., the union of kingly power with that of the aristocracy, not forgetting or leaving out that of the ochlocracy. The best example in the world has long been and still is that of the British and Irish Constitution! Herce, my young friends, fear God and you will next honour the king, as well as respect all in lawful anthority. Yea, "order" is so essential to social peace, that even by itself it is sometimes without liberty-a Napoleonic necessity. Hence, all my young friends, take my advice. Have no grudge at, but rather support our city's police, as well as that of the whole nation. Hence, also, the primary use of a standing army is to back all civil functionaries. No working man, without a police, on pay day, could possibly go to his home in safety. Such is the depraved character of modern society, and yet how often do we see ignorant men not only siding with culprits, but crying out "Maul the police, and let us attempt a rescue!" What is bred in the bone always appears in the flesh, according to my philosophy. Having been one who helped at the institution of the School of Arts Friendly Society, I said at their first meeting (Lord Murray in the chair) that friendly societies, which were unknown to the ancients, were, along with savings banks, in two respects beneficial-first, to the working man himself, and secondly, to the nation, -seeing that the investment of a society's funds in public securities made it the interest of every working man not to injure but support every national institution, and this accords even with secular philosophy.
* Muir, Palmer, and Gerald were called "Friends of the People." Muir had been banished in 1793 for lending a copy of Payne's "Rights of Man." I have a copy of a long and beautiful poetical letter, which Muir sent from Sydney to his quondam friend Henry Erskine, which is well worth preserving, but having mislaid it, it is not in my power to print it.
alike, but according to their steadiness and ability. I, some years after this, heard an English demagogue address a meeting, called by written bills pasted on the walls. No public room was opened for him, hence the meeting was held in a tennis-ball back court in Rose Street! The audience consisted of a few tradesmen and a number of lads and boys. The Lord Advocate's clerk was present as a spy. The speaker stood on a chair, and seemed much disappointed, hence his speech was shorter than he had intended. He also seemed to supress or modify his
of course, a complete failure. After his low eloquence had spent its force, he ended with the following peroration :—“I would rather be banished to Inchkeith, to live there on crabs and mussels, than live under such a government!” The men were silent, but looked glum ; the boys laughed merrily, they then threw up their caps, and gave three loud huzzas. Why so ? They knew no better; they had often burned, on king's birthdays, a great reformer's effigy (Johnnie Wilkes). They would have laughed and huzzaed as loudly, yea, louder, if their only speaker had been the far-famed John Gilpin! How true it is that the American and French Revolution (its effect) had not even yet as causes spent their force, hence social reform is still gradually progressing. Physical force is power without reason; knowledge is power with reason, and its moral force is irresistible; it conquers all, hence more than war can do. So said the philosophic Philo. Hence the good of universal tuition. But what, after all, is mere secular education ? It is knowledge only as relative, i.e. without the absolute reason (see Mansell). Hence it sees neither a first nor a second cause (i. e. no causal power) in any thing (Hume). The Evangelicals of Edinburgh saw this at a glance. Hence old Johnstone, glazier, West Bow, was one of the originators of our Sabbath evening gratis schools. These served greatly to counteract that reckless spirit of innovation which seemed to be “coming in as a flood upon the nation, and spreading nought but general desolation. The moral influence of truth with reason annexed thus, began to leaven the “ three measures of meal” into one lump, so called English, Scotch, and Irish society. Hence the Tories, to a man, fled at the sight of one old fogie (Earl Grey). Why so ? Because he was a true branch of our glorious 1688 tree of civil and religious liberty! Hence our Parliamentary Reform of 1832 was soon followed by our Free Church Reform of 1843. Scotland had always been the first of nations (Hamilton); England has always followed in her wake, hence her good example may yet ere long point out to England the necessity of a similar disruption. Ireland, too, must necessarily follow, but not till then. Happy Scotland! happy England ! But what of Ireland ? Ireland is England's weak point! (Schlegel). And must she alone, and yet one of the three factors in our threefold notion of the body corporate, still remain poor, blind, naked, and hence miserable ? Impossible. Why so ? Because true philosophy ignores all Ferrier's barbarous neology. The fact is, that philosophers, statesmen, and divines as well, have formed their judgments—conceptions—of things not according to truth as absolute, but by what is called truth only as relative! Hence, by “comparing themselves only with themselves, they are not wise ; ” hence, also, said St Paul, “look not every man on his own things, but also on the things of others," i e. be not a mere party-man. Did not even Palmerston and Russell lately say that they heard no vox populi cry for the extension of the franchise, hence they ignored it. How, then, could we expect that they should hear vox Dei, i.e. the voice of the Absolute ? True, at the last, Gladstone spoke out boldly, i.e. to save