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supply. The ardent and unutterable longing for information of every description, which characterised John Leyden as much as any man who ever lived, was now roused, and upon the watch. The rude traditionary tales and ballads of the once warlike district of Teviotdale were the readiest food which offered itself to this awakening appetite for knowledge. These songs and legends became rooted in his memory; and he so identified his feelings with the wild, adventurous and daring characters which they celebrate, that the associations thus formed in childhood, and cherished in youth, gave an eccentric and romantic tincture to his mind; and many, if not all, of the peculiarities of his manner and habits of thinking may be traced to his imitating the manners and assuming the tone of a Borderer of former times.
Other sources of information now began to offer themselves, scanty, indeed, compared to those which are accessible to thousands of a more limited capacity, but to Leyden as invaluable as an iron spike or a Birmingham knife would have been to Alexander Selkirk during his solitary residence on Juan Fernandez.
At a country school he acquired some smattering of the Latin language, principally through his own extraordinary efforts, for he had none to assist him in his juvenile exercises ; and to this early dependence on himself he imputed the wonderful facility which he afterwards possessed in the acquisition of languages. As is nearly always the case when an aptitude for learning is shewn by a boy in the ranks of the peasantry in Scotland, the parents of young Leyden determined to rear their son up to the Church of Scotland, though without any means whatever of pushing him forward. Mr Duncan, a Cameronian minister at Denholm, became now his instructor in Latin. It does not appear that he had any Greek tutor; nevertheless, he probably had acquired some knowledge of the elements of that language before he attended the college of Edinburgh in 1790, for the purpose of commencing his professional studies. The late worthy and learned professor, Andrew Dalzell, used to describe, with some humour, the astonishment and amusement excited in his class when John Leyden first stood up to recite his Greek exercises. The rustic, yet undaunted manner, the humble dress, the high harsh tone of his voice, joined to the broad provincial accent of Teviotdale, discomposed, on this first occasion, the gravity of the professor, and totally routed that of the students. But it was soon perceived that these uncouth attributes were joined to qualities which commanded respect and admiration. The rapid progress of the young rustic attracted the approbation and countenance of the professor, who was ever prompt to distinguish and encourage merit; and to those among the students who did not admit literary proficiency as a shelter for the ridicule due since the days of Juvenal to the scholar's torn coat and unfashionable demeanour, Leyden was in no respect averse from shewing strong reasons, adapted to their comprehension, and affecting their personal safety, for keeping their mirth within decent bounds.
Leyden was now at the fountain-head of knowledge, and avenged himself of former privations, by quaffing it in large draughts. He not only attended all the lectures usually connected with the study of theology, but several others, especially some of the medical classes-a circumstance which afterwards proved important to his outset in life, although at the time it could only be ascribed to his restless and impatient pursuit after science of every description. Admission to these lectures was easy, from the liberality of the professors, who throw their classes gratuitously open to young men educated for the church-a privilege of which Leyden availed himself to the utmost extent. There were, indeed, few branches of study in which he did not make some progress.
Besides the learned languages, he acquired French, Spanish, Italian, and German, was familiar with the ancient Icelandic, and studied Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian.
But though he soon became particularly distinguished by his talents as a linguist, few departments of science altogether escaped his notice. He investigated moral philosophy with the ardour common to all youths of talent who studied ethics under the auspices of Professor Dugald Stewart, with whose personal notice he was honoured. He became a respectable mathematician, and was at least superficially acquainted with natural philosophy, natural history, chemistry, botany, and mineralogy. These various sciences he acquired in different degrees, and at different times, during his residence at college. They were the fruit of no very regular plan of study. Whatever subject interested his mind at the time, attracted his principal attention till time and industry had overcome the difficulties which it presented, and was then exchanged for another pursuit.
The vacations which our student spent at home were employed in arranging, methodising, and enlarging the information which he acquired during his winter's attendance at college. His father's cottage affording him little opportunity for quiet and seclusion, he was obliged to look out for accommodations abroad, and some of his places of retreat were sufficiently extraordinary: In a wild recess, in the den or glen which gives name to the village of Denholm, he contrived a sort of furnace for the purpose of such chemical experiments as he was adequate to perform. But his chief place of retirement was the small parish church, a gloomy and ancient building. To this chosen place of study, usually locked during week-days, Leyden made entrance by means of a window, read there for many hours in the day, and deposited his books and specimens in a retired pew. It was a well-chosen spot of seclusion, for the kirk, excepting during divine service, is a place never intruded upon either by casual visitors or for any ecclesiastical purpose.
Books, as well as retirement, were necessary to the progress of Leyden's studies ; but these were of difficult attainment, and he subjected himself to the utmost privations to purchase those that could not be borrowed from his friends. The reputation of his prosperous career of learning, however, introduced him to the acquaintanceship of a number of persons of eminence in letters, both in Edinburgh and elsewhere, which tended to advance him in life. In the year 1796, after five or six years spent at the college of Edinburgh, the recommendation of Professor Dalzell procured him the situation of private tutor to the sons of Mr Campbell of Fairfield -a situation which he retained for two or three years. He attended the two young gentlemen under his charge to their studies at the college of St Andrews. Here he had the advantage of the acquaintance of Professor Hunter, an admirable classical scholar, and to whose kind instructions he professed much obligation.
On Leyden's return to Edinburgh from St Andrews, he resided with his pupils in the family of Mr Campbell, where he was treated with that respect and kindness which every careful father will pay to him whose lessons he expects his children to receive with attention and advantage. His hours, excepting those of tuition, were at his own uncontrolled disposal ; and such of his friends as chose to visit him at Mr Campbell's were sure of a hospitable reception. This class began now to extend itself among persons of an older standing than his contemporaries, and embraced several who had been placed by fortune, or had risen by exertions, to that fixed station in society to which his college intimates were as yet only looking forward. His acquaintance with Mr Richard Heber was the chief means of connecting him with several families of the former description. Among these may be reckoned the late Lord Woodhouselee, Mr Henry Mackenzie, the distinguished author of the Man of Feeling, and the Rev. Mr Sydney Smith, then residing in Edinburgh, from all of whom Leyden received flattering attention, and many important testimonies of the interest which they took in his success. By the same introduction he became intimate in the family of Mr Walter Scott, where a congenial taste for ballad romance and Border antiquities, as well as a sincere admiration of Leyden's high talents, extensive knowledge, and excellent heart, secured him a welcome reception; and by degrees his society extended itself still more widely, and comprehended almost every one who was distinguished for taste or talents in Edinburgh.
The manners of Leyden, when he first entered the higher ranks of society, were very peculiar. He possessed a large share of animal spirits, and he delighted to be accounted a master in out-of-door sports and athletic exertions, to which he was very partial.
In company, his manner was animated and unpolished, and he perhaps erred in reckoning at too low a value the forms of a well-bred community--a circumstance which often excited a prejudice against him
on his first appearance. This seems to have arisen from a false idea of sustaining his independence of feeling, and of marking the humility of his origin. He bore, however, with great good-humour all decent raillery on his rough manners, and was often ready to promote such pleasantry by his own example. His temper was, in reality, of an exceedingly gentle nature ; and to gratify the slightest wish of a friend, he would engage at once in the most toilsome and difficult researches. He also avoided the most fatal errors of men of genius. He was rigidly temperate, and the purity of his morals was attested by the most blameless line of conduct. His temperance even approached to abstinence; and although his pecuniary resources were exceedingly slender, he managed his funds so as to avoid all embarrassment.
In 1800, Leyden was ordained a preacher ; but his pulpit appearances were more scholarly than evangelical, and it does not appear that he cared about pursuing the profession of a clergyman. He now engaged himself in procuring materials for the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, a task congenial to his poetic temperament. In 1802, he was engaged by Mr Constable to edit the Scots Magazine, which he did for five or six months; and this employment was followed by the writing of his Scenes of Infancy, a poem exhibiting his own early feelings and recollections, interwoven with the descriptive and traditional history of his native vale of Teviot. But all this was but a desultory mode of living. The writing of poetry yields no revenue, and barely furnishes bread to those whose talents are of the loftiest order. The friends of Leyden began now to be anxious for his permanent settlement in life, and he seconded their views. In 1802, he made some overtures to the African Society for undertaking a journey of discovery through the interior of Africa ; but from this rash enterprise he was turned by the prospect of promotion in another quarter. A representation was made to a member of the Board of Control, stating the talents and disposition of Leyden, and it was suggested that such a person might be usefully employed in investigating the language and learning of the Indian tribes. The only appointment that could be given in this quarter was, however, that of surgeon's assistant, which could be held by none but a person having a surgical degree, and who could sustain an examination before the Medical Board at the India House.
It was upon this occasion that Leyden shewed, in their utmost extent, his wonderful powers of application and comprehension. He at once intimated his readiness to accept the appointment under the conditions annexed to it; and availing himself of the superficial information he had formerly acquired by a casual attendance upon one or two of the medical classes, he gave his whole mind to the study of medicine and surgery, with the purpose of qualifying himself for his degree in the short space of five or six months. The labour which he underwent on this occasion was actually incredible; but with the powerful assistance of a gentleman of the highest eminence in his profession (the late Mr John Bell of Edinburgh), he succeeded in acquiring such a knowledge of this complicated and most difficult art, as enabled him to obtain his diploma as surgeon with credit, even in the city of Edinburgh, so long famed for its medical school, and for the wholesome rigour adopted in the distribution of degrees. Another Scottish university conferred the degree of M.D. upon him, and he immediately prepared to leave the country. It is not necessary in this sketch to detail the difficulties he encountered before his. ultimate departure for India. After some trouble, he procured a passage in the Hugh Inglis, in which vessel he sailed in the beginning of April 1803. Having arrived at Madras, he was transferred to the duties of his new profession; but it was speedily demonstrated that his constitution was unfitted for the climate. He was therefore obliged to leave the presidency of Madras, suffering an accumulation of diseases, and reached with difficulty Prince of Wales Island, situated on the coast of Malacca. In this more salubrious spot he resided some time, busily engaging himself in the pursuit of the languages and literature of the East, and in which he soon acquired an extraordinary degree of knowledge, calculated to be extensively beneficial to his countrymen. He also continued to indulge his poetic fancies, and kept up a constant intercourse by letters with a number of his old friends in Europe ; and some of his epistles furnish many amusing details of Oriental life and manners, as well as of his own arduous researches.
The health of Leyden being restored, in 1806 he took leave of Prince of Wales Island, regretted by many friends, whom his eccentricities amused, his talents enlightened, and his virtues conciliated. His reception at Calcutta, and the effect he produced upon society, were exceedingly flattering. The efficient and active patronage of Lord Minto-himself a man of letters, a poet, and a native of Teviotdale—was of most essential service to Leyden, and no less honourable to the governor-general. He was appointed a professor in the Bengal college, a promotion suited to his studies; and from this function he was subsequently transferred to fill the office of a judge of the twentyfour purgunnahs of Calcutta. In this capacity he had a charge of police, which jumped well with his odd humour; for the task of pursuing and dispersing the bands of robbers who infest Bengal had something of active and military duty. He also exercised a judicial capacity among the natives, to the discharge of which he was admirably fitted, by his knowledge of their language, manners, and customs. To this office a very considerable yearly income was annexed. This was neither expended in superfluities, nor even in those ordinary expenses which the fashion of the East has pronounced indispensable; for Dr Leyden kept no establishment, gave no entertainments, and was, with the receipt of this revenue, the very same simple, frugal, and temperate student which he had been