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THE SA B BATH,
THE REV. JAMES GRAHAME.
WITH A MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.
PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.
JAMES GRAHAME, author of "The Sabbath," was born at, Glasgow on the 22d of April 1765. His father followed the profession of a writer or law-agent in that city, and held a most respectable position in society, being alike valued for his business talents and integrity, and esteemed for his private worth. The mother of the subject of our notice is also represented as having been remarkable for the possession of many high qualities both of mind and heart; and to the training derived from such parents, James Grahame unquestionably owed much of the intellectual distinction which he afterwards attained, as well as that purity of principle and moral rectitude by which he was equally characterised. His regular education commenced at the grammar-school of Glasgow, from which seminary he removed, at a fitting age, to the university of the same city. Here he spent five years in close and studious attendance on the literary and philosophical lectures of the college, and on those, in particular, of Professor Millar, whose prelections on law and government had an important influence in embuing the young student's mind with political opinions verging on extreme or ultra-liberalism. These opinions caused him, on the Occurrence of the French Revolution, to give a warm and perhaps imprudent approval of the principles which led to that event, and to anticipate great results therefrom. He, like others, was doomed in this to receive a disappointment, as far as immediate consequences, at least, were concerned.
department of the legal profession would yield him greater leisure to indulge the literary propensities which were in him already strong and unchangeable. In March 1795, he became a member of the Scottish bar. For upwards of twelve succeeding years he continued to attend the Court of Session in his capacity of advocate, and would probably have been a well employed one, had not his health prevented him not only from engaging laboriously in the duties of the profession, but even from desiring to attain a high degree of success. What business he did undertake was always well done, and his law papers, in particular, were drawn up with acknowledged ability and elegance; but, under all the circumstances, Grahame never became famous as a practitioner at the bar of his native country.
During his term of study at the University of Glasgow, James Grahame had given proof of his early poetical tendencies, by collecting and publishing, at that time, a number of pieces which had been produced by him at various preceding periods. This little volume appears to be now lost to the world, a circumstance the less to be regretted, however, since it is understood to have chiefly contained the first rude draughts of pieces subsequently given to the public in an improved state. Passing over this early production, we find Mr Grahame next presenting himself in print in the columns of a Kelso newspaper. The compositions which appeared here were afterwards published in a complete and amended shape, under the collective denomination of the "Rural Calendar." No reputation, of course, resulted to the author from these anonymous contributions to a provincial newspaper. In the year 1801, however, Mr Grahame appealed directly and openly to public favour. He issued from the press a dramatic poem upon the popular subject, and with the popular title, of" Mary Stewart, Queen of Scotland." The best that can be said of this production is, that it shows the author to be a close observer of nature, and well read in the knowledge of the human heart. To dramatic skill and power the poem has not the most slender pretensions.
Mr Grahame was married in the spring of 1802 to Miss Grahame, eldest daughter of a gentleman who filled the respectable situation of town-clerk of Annan, Dumfriesshire. This lady was in every respect an eligible partner for the subject of our notice, as many after years of mutual happiness satisfactorily proved; but her attachment to her husband, and her consciousness of his talents, did not prevent her from at first taking part with those of his friends who counselled him to forsake poetry, as a field in which he was not fitted to excel. A most pleasing incident relieved Grahame from all domestic opposition, at least, on this score. At the time of his marriage, he had projected the composition of "The Sabbath," and he pursued the task of writing it in secret, concealing the nature of his occupation from every one, his wife not excepted. The same concealment was observed when the poem was finished. It was sent to the press in 1804, and was published anonymously at the close of that year, the printer and bookseller only being cognisant of the pro-author's name. Grahame took an early opportunity of bringing a copy of the completed work home with him, and left it upon his parlour table, as if for his own leisure reading. Entering the room soon af he found his wife earnestly engaged in th "The Sabbath ;" and burning with tremul to know her opinion, he walked up and time in almost breathless silence. At scious of the hopes and fears that agitat modest bosom, Mrs Grahame broke for
Though much of the youthful life of Grahame was necessarily passed in the crowded walks of his native city, yet he was not deprived of those opportunities of viewing nature in her rural garb, which seem of so much consequence to the early formation of a poetical taste. The elder Grahame had a summer residence on the banks of the little stream called the Cart, and here James used to spend all the leisure time that could be spared from his town occupations. It was at this spot that he pored over the works of Milton, Thomson, and others whose writings proved most congenial to his taste. From these mental recreations, as well ns from his graver academical studies, Grahame was called away at the age of nineteen, his father considering that the fitting time had then arrived for his entering on the profession of the law, to which the youth had been long destined by his parent. Accord-in ingly, in the year 1784, James was bound apprentice to Mr Lawrence Hill, a Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, and a relative of the Grahame family. Though he permitted himself to be articled to the legal profession without offering any opposition, the step was one not at all in consonance with the young man's wishes, nor agreeable to his peculiar tastes and sentiments. He was naturally of gentle temperament and delicate physical organisation, and a violent stroke on the head, which he received ere he left Glasgow, produced such a lasting effect upon his constitution, as to render him ever afterwards more unable than he might otherwise have been, to play an active part on so bustling a stage as that of the law. His father's slightest wish, however, had too much weight with the son to permit him to disclose the adverse bent of his inclinations, even on an occasion of such importance as the choice of a fession for life.
After concluding his appointed term of service in Edinburgh with Mr Hill, Grahame underwent the customary trials, and was formally enrolled in the Society of Writers to the Signet. The influence of his family and friends rendered his prospects of success in this profession very flattering; but the death of his father, at the close of 1791, induced the subject of our memoir to enter the Faculty of Advocates, trusting that this