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It is somewhere said by Goldsmith, that the life of a literary man seldom abounds with adventure. His fame is acquired in solitude; and the historian, who only views him from a distance, must be content with a dry detail of actions by which he is hardly distinguished from the rest of mankind. Though embodying a general truth, the observation we have quoted does not exactly sum up the life we have chosen to illustrate. Its even tenor was, indeed, not much disturbed by adventure, but it can scarcely be said of Hugh Miller his fame was acquired in solitude, or that his actions were not in a very marked degree distinguished from the actions of the mass of mankind. On the contrary, the more closely his life and writings are scanned, the more clearly will Scotchmen begin to discover that, amongst the men of genius these latter times have produced, Hugh Miller is Scotland's representative man. This statement is made with a full appreciation of its import, and with a perfect knowledge that names will instantly rise in many minds, disputing the pedestal on which we seek to place the Cromarty stone-mason. It may, therefore, be well the reader should distinctly understand that, in claiming for Hugh Miller this representative character, no comparison is instituted, and no superiority is asserted for him over guch men as Burns and Scott, either of whom may be supposed, by a large class of admirers, to possess superior claims to the position we seek to assign the late editor of the Witness. It may even be acknowledged that, in native intellectual force, Scott and Burns equalled-nay, in certain special mental attributes, excelled-Hugh Miller; while yet it is asserted, that neither so fully gathered up into himself the ideas, sentiments, and passions, that mark the representative man.
Notwithstanding his geniality and breadth of character, Sir Walter Scott was rather a relic of feudalism than a representative of modern times. Without the conscious and pronounced loathing of the present, everywhere to be met with in the writings of another great countryman, Scott turned instinctively to the golden glories of the past-his spirit revelled in the jousts and tournaments of the age of chivalry; but for all that had been done in Scotland subsequent to the Reformation era he had little sympathy, and certainly no enthusiasm. It was this chasm of centuries-lying a great gulf between Sir Walter and the ideas and sentiments of his countrymen —which, though coloured with the exaggeration of controversy, gave a tone of truth to the elder M'Crie's assertion, that his characters were for the most part mosstroopers and Border reivers, rather than genuinely Scottish. The laureate of chivalry fallen upon an age from which chivalry was gone-whelmed in the wideweltering chaos French democracy had created-Scott's mission was to gather up that minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, and in those metrical and prose romances with which his name is now so indissolubly and so gloriously associated—the image of the vanished age-bequeathing to democracy a mirror in which it might evermore behold a faithful portrait of the glories laid in the dust in its march to universal dominion. That mission accomplished ---the literature of chivalry carried to the ends of the earth-Scott's work was done. “No sky-born messenger, heaven looking through his eyes," was the Lord of Abbotsford ; and no voice from the celestial land did the literary Vandyke of a demi-savage age bring near to the children of men. A couple of trivial and seemingly unimportant facts brought together, will better illustrate the antithesis, on the spiritual side, between the characters of Scott and Miller than a whole chapter of dissertation. If we recollect aright, it is the Ettrick Shepherd who relates how charmed Scott had been with the conversation of an intelligent mechanic, whose acquaintance he