The Ayrshire Legatees (Chapter 9, page 1 of 11)

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Chapter 9


Mr. Snodgrass was obliged to walk into Irvine one evening, to get rid of
a raging tooth, which had tormented him for more than a week. The
operation was so delicately and cleverly performed by the surgeon to whom
he applied--one of those young medical gentlemen, who, after having been
educated for the army or navy, are obliged, in this weak piping time of
peace, to glean what practice they can amid their native shades--that the
amiable divine found himself in a condition to call on Miss Isabella Tod.

During this visit, Saunders Dickie, the postman, brought a London letter
to the door, for Miss Isabella; and Mr. Snodgrass having desired the
servant to inquire if there were any for him, had the good fortune to get
the following from Mr. Andrew Pringle:-


Andrew Pringle Esq., to the Rev. Mr. Charles Snodgrass

My Dear Friend--I never receive a letter from you without experiencing a
strong emotion of regret, that talents like yours should be wilfully
consigned to the sequestered vegetation of a country pastor's life. But
we have so often discussed this point, that I shall only offend your
delicacy if I now revert to it more particularly. I cannot, however, but
remark, that although a private station may be the happiest, a public is
the proper sphere of virtue and talent, so clear, superior, and decided
as yours. I say this with the more confidence, as I have really, from
your letter, obtained a better conception of the queen's case, than from
all that I have been able to read and hear upon the subject in London.
The rule you lay down is excellent. Public safety is certainly the only
principle which can justify mankind in agreeing to observe and enforce
penal statutes; and, therefore, I think with you, that unless it could be
proved in a very simple manner, that it was requisite for the public
safety to institute proceedings against the queen--her sins or
indiscretions should have been allowed to remain in the obscurity of her
private circle.

I have attended the trial several times. For a judicial proceeding, it
seems to me too long--and for a legislative, too technical. Brougham, it
is allowed, has displayed even greater talent than was expected; but he
is too sharp; he seems to me more anxious to gain a triumph, than to
establish truth. I do not like the tone of his proceedings, while I
cannot sufficiently admire his dexterity. The style of Denman is more
lofty, and impressed with stronger lineaments of sincerity. As for their
opponents, I really cannot endure the Attorney-General as an orator; his
whole mind consists, as it were, of a number of little hands and
claws--each of which holds some scrap or portion of his subject; but you
might as well expect to get an idea of the form and character of a tree,
by looking at the fallen leaves, the fruit, the seeds, and the blossoms,
as anything like a comprehensive view of a subject, from an intellect so
constituted as that of Sir Robert Gifford. He is a man of application,
but of meagre abilities, and seems never to have read a book of travels
in his life. The Solicitor-General is somewhat better; but he is one of
those who think a certain artificial gravity requisite to professional
consequence; and which renders him somewhat obtuse in the tact of

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