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which might be supposed to have characterized an ancient native of the border. In his early days, also, he probably really felt the influence of those superstitious impressions, which at a later period he used sometimes to assume, to the great amusement of his friends, and astonishment of strangers. It was indeed somewhat singular, when he got upon this topic, to hear Leyden maintain powerfully, and with great learning, the exploded doctrines of dæmonology, and sometimes even affect to confirm the strange tales with which his memory abounded, by reference to the ghostly experiences of his childhood. Even to those most intimate with him, he would sometimes urge such topics, in a manner which made it impossible to determine whether he was serious or jocular; and most probably his fancy, though not his sober judgment, actually retained some impressions borrowed from the scenes he has himself described.
The woodland's sombre shade that peasants fear,
Scenes of Infancy.
But the romantic legend and heroic ballad did not satiate, though they fed, his youthful appetite for knowledge. The obscure shepherd boy never heard of any source of information within his reach, without straining every nerve to obtain access to it A companion, for example, had met with an odd volume of the Arabian Nights' Entertainments, and gave an account of its contents, which excited the curiosity of young Leyden. This precious book was in possession of a blacksmith's apprentice, who lived at several miles' distance from Denholm, and the season was winter. Leyden, however, waded through the snow, to present himself by day-break at the forge door, and request a perusal of this interesting book in presence of the owner, for an unlimited loan was scarcely to be hoped for. He was disappointed, was obliged to follow the blacksmith to a still greater distance, where he was employed on some temporary job, and when he found him, the son of Vulcan, with caprice worthy of a modern collector, was not disposed to impart his treasure, and put him off with some apology. Leyden remained stationary beside him the whole day, till the lad, softened, or wearied out by his pertinacity, actually made him a present of the volume, and he returned home by sun-set, exhausted by hunger and fatigue, but in triumphant possession of a treasure, for which he would have subjected himself to yet greater privations. This childish history took place when he was about eleven years old ; nor is there any great violence in conjecturing that these fascinating tales, obtained with so much difficulty, may have given his youthful mind that decided turn towards oriental learning which was displayed through his whole life, and illustrated by his regretted and too early decease. At least, the anecdote affords an early and striking illustration of the ardour of his literary curiosity, and the perseverance which marked his pursuit of the means for gratifying it.
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. From the new teacher at Kirktown, Leyden acquired some smattering of the Latin language ; but ere he could make any progress, the school became again vacant in the year 1786. Next year it was again opened by a third schoolmaster, named Andrew Scott, under whom Leyden gained some knowledge of arithmetic. Thus transferred from one teacher to another, snatching information at such times, and in such portions, as these precarious circumstances afforded, he continued not only to retain the elemental knowledge which he had acquired, but to struggle onward vigorously in the paths of learning. It seems probable that the disadvantage sustained from want of the usual assistances to early learning, may, in so energetic a mind as that of Leyden, be in many respects balanced by the habit of severe study, and painful investigation, which it was necessary to substitute for those adventitious aids. The mind becomes doubly familiar with that information which it has attained through its own laborious and determined perseverance, and acquires a readiness in encountering and overcoming difficulties of a similar nature, from the consciousness of those which it has already successfully surmounted. Accordingly, Leyden used often to impute the extraordinary facility which he possessed in the acquisition of languages to the unassisted exercises of his juvenile years.
About this period his predominant desire for learning had determined his parents to breed young Leyden up for the Church of Scotland, trusting for his success to those early talents which already displayed themselves so strongly. Mr Duncan, a Cameronian minister at Denholm, became now his
instructor in the Latin language. 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 exercise. 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 showing strong reasons, adapted to their comprehension and affecting their