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these add inexhaustible interest to the country, quite apart from the allied branches of research in the lithology and mineralogy of the Alps. It is indeed remarkable that this romantic region, wherein for many thousands of years no human voice was heard and no human footprints seen; wherein only the drone of beetles and the hum of swarming insects, and the harsh cries of great and small vertebrates resounded; wherein for long ages strange plants and trees, arborescent ferns and bamboo-like reeds, stood erect out of still lakes and silent swamps, and there perished and formed the materials for thick beds of black slaty rocks and carbonaceous strata,-it is indeed remarkable that upon these very places and over the relics of an incalculably ancient world, there stand to-day populous villages, busy and prosperous towns and cities, the railroad, the manufactory, and the hotel. Those lakes that were once ice-fields and glacial deserts are now deep in water, bordered with villas and towns, and ploughed daily by steamboats freighted with men and women of all civilised nations. Mountains of buried life are ascended by crowds of visitors; and a railway runs up and down the inclines of an agglomeration of old sea-shore rocks. In fine, Man has arrived, and he only of all the living creatures of the long past geological epochs is qualified to disinter, observe, and reason about them. Endowed with faculties totally distinct from, and superior to, the living beings which preceded him, he patiently labours in interpreting the past; and out of neglected stones, and gravel beds, and mire and slates and rocks, and glaciers and moraines, elicits a history as interesting as any that has passed within his own period, restores the strangest tableaux to the curious eye, reanimates the life of ages compared with which his own is as brief as that of a gnat in a sunbeam, and verifies the whole by a science which year by year is becoming still more accurate, still better founded, and more comprehensive than any other science which relates to the earth on which we dwell.
Art. VII.-1. Life and Correspondence of Gilbert Elliot,
First Earl of Minto. By the Countess of Minto. 3 vols.
London : 1874. 2. A Memoir of the Right Hon. Hugh Elliot. By the
Countess of Minto. Edinburgh: 1868. There is not a fairer tract in Scotland than that which 1 stretches along the pleasant banks of Teviotdale from Hawick to Ancrum bridge. Famous in Border story and in Border song, as the cradle of the strong races of the Scotts, the Kerrs, and the Elliots—not less renowned in our own times for the beauty of its scenery, the serenity of its climate, the perfection of its agriculture, and the genial character of its people—this valley offers a striking picture of the transformation which has made Scotland what she is, and planted in her rugged soil the graces and the culture of modern life. The Border chieftains have grown into the soldiers, the statesmen, the ambassadors, and the judges of a great empire; : but whilst they display in wider fields their hereditary energy and ability, they retain an unwavering affection and allegiance to that corner of the earth which is peculiarly their home. Here beneath those crags on which William of Deloraine saw “the moonbeams glint' as he rode from Branksome to Melrose
*Cliffs, doubling on their echoes borne
The terrors of the robber's horn;
The warbling Doric reed shall hear,' lies that old house of Minto, which has sent forth so many generations of brave and upright men, of high-principled and sensible women, to the battle of life. Its history is the history of a family, ever faithful to the cause of liberty, at home and abroad, ever active in the discharge of public and of private duties. Its annals are overflowing with the records of illustrious friendships, of strong domestic affections, and of the adventures and services of the children of that house in all parts of the globe. Modern curiosity exults to find in such collections as the Paston or the Trevelyan Letters a picture of English life in ages long gone by. The family papers at Minto afford similar materials for the history of society at periods much less remote from our own. Had three or four centuries elapsed, every line in these genuine memorials of the past would be scanned with inexhaustible interest. To us, the contents of these volume is less strange,
accident from a marriage, and
birth the present an old na to
but not on that account less valuable. They speak to us like the portraits of Sir Joshua or Gainsborough, or rather they supply to those portraits the only thing that is wanting to them—speech and action. While searching their writings,' says their biographer, we have grown into intimacy with themselves; they have passed from the world of shadows into corporeal substance; we have walked, talked, and eaten with them; and it becomes hard to part with their bright and gracious images, and to hand them down to posterity in a condition as impersonal as that of an old newspaper.'
By a fortunate accident, the present Countess of Minto, herself descended by birth from a younger branch of the family to which she is allied by her marriage, and in which she now fills the most conspicuous position, has all the qualities which enable her to turn these literary heirlooms of the House to the best advantage. We are already indebted to her for the memoir of her grandfather, Hugh Elliot, one of the most agreeable specimens we possess of a class of literature in which the French are much richer than ourselves—a family memoir, written with a lightness of touch and gaiety, not unworthy of the very amusing and wayward individual to whose memory it is dedicated. But the present undertaking required far greater perseverance to master the eighty or ninety volumes of old letters and manuscripts, which relate in detail the public and private life of the elder brother and head of the family, Sir Gilbert Elliot. These researches involved a minute and exact acquaintance with the state of parties and the state of society during the reign of George III. ; for there is scarcely a person or an important event of those times, with which Sir Gilbert was not brought into some sort of contact. From muniments so vast, the task of selection was one of no small difficulty, for family history in its perfection must neither aspire too high nor sink too low into domestic detail. We wish to know enough about the subjects of it to be taken into their personal confidence, but we use the knowledge we have thus acquired of them to throw light on general society and on public events. Lady Minto appears to us to have hit the just mean. Her narrative is always lively and agreeable, and the instinct of literary taste, which cannot be acquired where it does not exist by nature, has allied itself in her to the ease of high cultivation and the fruit of extensive reading. These volumes, were they even less agreeable in point of form, would be a valuable addition to the history of the times, because they bring before us in the most vivid manner, and indeed in their
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Elliot of Steleuch, was was still
own language and habiliments, the men of an illustrious generation. But in point of form, and in the spirit with which the narrative is sustained, they are to us delightful; and we cannot better show the high opinion we have formed of them than by retiring ourselves behind the curtain, leaving the accomplished authoress in possession of the audience.
The Elliots of Redheugh were settled on the Border as early as the fifteenth century and were held responsible men at that time for good rule' in Liddesdale. The lands still occupied by their descendants have been from time immemorial in the possession of the family; but in the seventeenth century the chieftainship had passed to the Elliots of Stobs, and from that branch the lines of Heathfield, the gallant defender of Gibraltar, and of Minto, took their common origin. When Sir Gilbert Elliot of Stobs, a son of Elliot of Larriston and of Mary Scott of Buccleuch, was born, towards the close of the sixteenth century, the Border was still the scene of rapine and perpetual warfare. The bride's portion consisted of half a Michaelmas moon'-that is of half the plunder that could be lifted on a September night; the bridegroom rejoiced in the name of Gibbie wi' the gowden 'garters, while the lady his wife was known, and is remembered to this day, as muckle-mou'd Meg.' These rough 'forbears' were the progenitors of the race. Their eldest son, William, sate in the great Scottish Parliament of 1641, and his son was knighted on the field of Largo by Charles II. and created a baronet in 1666; a second baronetcy was conferred in 1700 on Gilbert Elliot of Minto, descended from the younger branch. This Gilbert was the first of the family who turned to the profession of the law, and he lived to be Lord President of the Court of Session.
Born in 1651, his youth was passed under the worst Government that ever ruled Scotland, and the persecutions and oppressions suffered by his countrymen and kindred made a profound impression on a mind already strongly imbued with Presbyterian sympathies. At the Restoration, two of his uncles of the Stobs family had been subjected to heavy fines and forfeitures, under pain of exclusion from the Act of Indemnity; but after the attempt, no less foolish than wicked, to establish Prelacy by the Act of 1662, the whole of his connexion, male and female, seem warmly to have taken up the cause of the Nonconformists. Then again the harvest moon shone on armed bands travelling as unweariedly among the Border glens and hills to hear the Gospel from their fugitive preachers, as in former days they had ridden to chase an enemy or carry off the prey. Those who were forbidden to meet in temples made with hands, assembled on the hill-tops, while the glittering squadrons of Dalhousie and Airlie watched them from the vale below.'
The story of his rise in life is curious. One William Veitch, afterwards well known as a Scottish minister, had been driven by the persecution to the Border, where he was arrested by the Government upon an arbitrary sentence obtained against him twelve years before. Veitch choose the young writer Gilbert Elliot, then in Edinburgh, to go up to London to represent his case at Court.
* Elliot accordingly went up to London, where he was successful in enlisting on behalf of his client the ardent support and co-operation of Shaftesbury, Monmouth, and other leaders of the Whig party, by whom an amount of pressure was brought to bear upon the Government under which, though not at once, its obduracy gave way. A royal order, desiring that all further proceedings against Veitch should be stopped, was sent through Lord Stair to Gilbert Elliot. To this consummation the courage and ability of the young agent had materially contributed, and the notice thus drawn to him of the leaders of the Presbyterian party in Scotland and of the principal Whigs in England, laid the foundations of his future fortunes. Of this fact Veitch reminded him in after years by the playful remark, that, “ had it not been for him, the worthy judge might have been copying papers at a plack a page;" to whom his friend rejoined with at least equal point, “ that had it not been for him, the birds would long since have pecked another skull on the Nether Bow Port.” Not long after the satisfactory conclusion of these proceedings, Elliot had a share in the escape from prison and death of a more important person,'the Earl of Argyle, who, lying in Edinburgh Castle under a false charge of treason, had good reason to believe that his life was aimed at by the Privy Council.' *
These services endeared the young lawyer to the Whigs. He was driven from Scotland to take refuge in Holland, and in 1685 he was one of the twelve Scottish gentlemen who met at Rotterdam to determine upon a great undertaking
in defence of, and for the recovery of, the religious rights and • liberties of the people of Scotland.' He shared the disasters of the ill-fated expeditions of Argyle, but escaped back to Holland, though under sentence of death. In 1687 he obtained a reversal of his forfeiture in consideration of his father, Gavin Elliot's, sufferings in the Royal cause; and in the following year the Revolution brought his friends into power, and placed him in the Office of Clerk of the Council
* A sentence of death had, in fact, been passed on Argyle, though the partisans of the Stuarts declared it was not their intention to execute it. But it was under this sentence that Argyle was executed, after the failure of his expedition to the West of Scotland. He was not tried for the last act of rebellion. (See Macaulay's History, vol. i. pp. 550-57.)