Page images
PDF
EPUB

the ordinary intercourse of society. In writing, his style is pure, free from all affectation, yet in general not sufficiently concise. His reading has been extensive; he is well acquainted with modern, and moderately so with the ancient, languages. His professional writings contain a vast deal of information, but it is more as to what he has taken from other authors than as to the results of his own experience and observation. That he is thoroughly acquainted with his profession cannot be doubted, for it would not have been possible for him otherwise to retain for so long a period the high place which he has occupied.

If I had but few associates among my fellowstudents in the medical school, I was fortunate. in those whom I had at the same time out of it.

My elder brother was in London studying fo: the Bar, and he and I lodged together at a house in Carey Street, Lincoln's Inn. Denman, my first cousin, was studying the law also, and had chambers in Lincoln's Inn. Merivale, with whom I was acquainted as a friend of Denman, and as having been a visitor at my father's house in

Wiltshire, and who was afterwards well known for his literary acquirements, and especially as the author of the translations of the Greek Anthology, was engaged in the same pursuit, and residing also in Lincoln's Inn. Besides these, I was on intimate terms with other law students, among them Wray, with whom I had previously associated in Wiltshire; Stoddart, already mentioned as a former friend, who, after having been leading the life of a literary man, was then studying for the Bar of Doctors' Commons; Gifford (Lord Gifford afterwards), and one whose name was Barwis, who, not being very successful at the Bar, became afterwards the Marquis of Ormonde's agent in Ireland, and continued to be one of my best and kindest friends to the end of his days. To these I may add Dr. Maton, whom I had known in my earlier days, and whom, while I was a boy, I had sometimes accompanied in his botanical excursions. He had then lately begun to practise as a physician in London ; rising afterwards to be one of the principal physicians in the west end of the town. All of these whom I have mentioned were several years older than myself, and I hold it to be one of the greatest advantages which I have had in life, that I was thus at an early age thrown into the society of intelligent and well-conducted persons, whose minds were more matured than my own.

Dr. Maton and some of his friends, while at Oxford, had formed themselves into a society for the discussion of literary and other subjects. The objects of the society were innocent enough, and one of their rules was to exclude all questions connected with religion and politics. But in those days, when the French Revolution was going on, and parties were reckless and violent at home, it excited the jealousy of the authorities of the University, who insisted on it being put an end to. When several of the founders of it met afterwards in London, they agreed to re-establish it under the name of the Academical Society, and it accordingly assembled once in a week at apartments at a large house in Bell Yard, between Lincoln's Inn and the Temple. Dr. Maton was its president, and through his kindness, youngster as I was, I was elected a member of it. Here, besides some of my friends already mentioned, I met with several persons who have since become much distinguished in their several ways: Lord Glenelg, and his brother Robert, who died afterwards while Governor of Madras ; Bowdler, Francis Horner, Dr. Bateman (author of the work on Cutaneous Diseases '), Sir Henry Ellis, and others. Not long after I had joined the society, a young Scotchman of uncouth appearance was admitted into it, whom very few of us knew, who at that time, while a student of one of the Inns of Court, was maintaining himself, as I believe, by reporting for the newspapers. I remember that he read an essay, the object of which was to prove that war had been the great agent in civilising the world. He was an indifferent speaker, but what he said was always to the purpose. This unknown person became afterwards Attorney-General, then Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and is now the Lord Chief Justice Campbell. The three best speakers were the two Grants and Bowdler. The latter, if he had lived, would undoubtedly have occupied a considerable place in

society; but he had ill-health, and died a very few years after the period of which I am now speaking. I was too shy and too much awed by the society of persons generally a good deal older than myself to take any part in the debates, except when it was my turn to open the discussion, and on these occasions my speeches had little to recommend them, except their brevity. In the first year, however, I furnished an essay on the advantages which might be derived from metaphysical enquiries. I read other essays afterwards, one on the principles of science, and the mode of conducting scientific enquiries (which gained me some credit in the society), and another on what were supposed to be modern discoveries, which could be found in Pliny's

Natural History. I mention these trifling matters merely because they show that, although I was really studying hard in my profession, I nevertheless found some leisure to think of other things. Ellis and myself were for some time joint secretaries, or, as we were called, registrars of the society, and hence arose an intimacy between us, which has continued uninterrupted to

« PreviousContinue »