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manners may be explained, there can be no doubt, that they were intimately connected with the genuine artlessness of his mind. In this amiable quality, he often recalled to his friends, the accounts that are given of good La Fontaine ; a quality which in him derived a peculiar grace from the singularity of its combination with those powers of reason and of eloquence which, in his political and moral writings, have long engaged the admiration of Europe.
In his external form and appearance, there was nothing uncommon. When perfectly at ease, and when warmed with conversation, his gestures were animated, and not ungraceful; and, in the society of those he loved, his features were often brightened with a smile of inexpressible benignity. In the company of strangers, his tendency to absence, and perhaps still more his consciousness of this tendency, rendered his manner somewhat embarrassed; an effect which was probably not a little heightened by those speculative ideas of propriety, which his recluse habits tended at once to perfect in his conception, and to diminish his power of realizing. He never sat for his picture; but the medallion of Tassie conveys an exact idea of his profile, and of the general expression of his countenance.
The valuable library that he had collected he bequeathed, together with the rest of his property, to his cousin, Mr. David Douglas, Advocate. În the education of this young gentleman, he had employed much of his leisure; and it was only two years before his death, (at a time when he could ill spare the pleasure of his society,) that he had sent him to study law at Glasgow, under the care of Mr. Millar ;—the strongest proof he could give of his disinterested zeal for the improvement of his friend, as well as of the esteem in which he held the abilities of that eminent Professor.
The executors of his will were Dr. Black and Dr. Hutton ; with whom he had long lived in habits of the most intimate and cordial friendship; and who, to the
; many other testimonies which they had given him of their affection, added the mournful office of witnessing his last moments.
The principal authorities for the biographical details in the following pages were communicated to me by Dr. Robertson's eldest son, Mr. William Robertson, Advocate. To him I am indebted, not only for the original letters with which he has enabled me to gratify the curiosity of my readers, but for every other aid which he could be prompted to contribute, either by regard for his father's memory, or by friendship for myself.
My information with respect to the earlier part of Dr. Robertson’s life was derived almost entirely from one of his oldest and most valued friends, the Rev. Dr. Carlyle of Inveresk.
It is proper for me to add, that this memoir was read at different meetings of the. Royal Society of Edinburgh.
During the long interval which has elapsed since it was composed, a few sentences have been occasionally inserted, in which a reference is made to later criticisms on Dr. Robertson's writings. I mention this circumstance, in order to account for some slight anachronisms.
16th May, 1801.