2 FEBRUARY 1850, Page 14


Tees news of Francis leffiefs death carries the mind back to times from which we are separated by twenty years of bustling and -noisy if not creative agitation. Since he relinginished the task of editing the Edinburgh Review, in 1829, a.nd stall more since his promotion to the bench in Scotland as a "Senator of the College of Instice," a few years later, jeffiny had ceased to fill the space in the public eye which he formerly occupied. His faculties con- tinued clear and Vigorous to the last ; his opinions and the tone of his mind had acquired more of a cosmopolitan breadth and matured ripeness ; but the provincial judge did not attract the curious gaze to the same extent as the editor of the much-talked-of review, and the most vivacious and sparkling leader of the Edinburgh Whigs. Jeffrey belonged to a generation which has now nearly passed away, and to a circle of notorieties, possessed of high talents and accomplishments, and characterized by marked local peculiarities. The politico-literary society of which he was the most brilliant ornament was of a kind we are not likely to see again. The Re- form Bill and Railways, to say nothing of other influences, have gone far to assimilate Edinburgh society to that which is found South of the Tweed. The Parliament House aristocracy have ceased to give the tone to its manners, literature, and politics. It has gained in liberality, but it has lost in racy 'individuality of character. The vivacious fancy of Jeffrey, the classical taste and aristocratic bearing of Cranstoun, the crabbed half-affected coarse- ness and sagacity of Clerk, the unerring legal tact of Moncreiffe, the massy genius and unaffected cordiality of Scott, the eccentricity and acuteness of that -perfect gentleman of the old school Millar of Menke, the placid temper and subtile intellect of Hume,* the caustic shrewdness of Gillies, the ponderous and uncouth intellect of Forsyth, would now be sought for in vain. The quiet humour of Cockburn, the spotless integrity of Murray, and the top-boots of-Sir James Gibson Craig, whose indomitable will kept the liberal party of Scotland together when most of his colleagues were hope ess,—these are are almost all that now remain of the Jeffrey sera, and even of these lights some are ihtshing fitfully in the socket. They are passing or have passed away, with the dynasty of Divides, the Peninsular war' the trial of Queen Caroline, and other controverted topics which filled their minds and excited their passions. They who are old enough to remember, and who have at any time been brought into contact with them, will retain a pleasing impression of their racy and peculiar habits and turn of mind ; but a new generation has risen up, "which knew not Joseph," and is fast shouldering, the eontempormies of those now historical worthies from the bustli g scenes -of life.

Jeffiey, who as responsible editor of the Edinburgh Review was oftener named than his fellows beyond the immediate precincts of "Auld Reekie," was the most dazzling and attractive, and, not- withstanding the exaggerated notions long entertained of his cri- tical severity, the most loveable of the circle, with perhaps the ex- ceptions of Murray and Cockburn. If not exactly, a man of origi- nal genius, he approached more nearly than any of the rest to that character. He was not of the very highest order as a critic, a phi- losopher, a politician, or an orator; but in all these capacities he Stood far above the level of average men. The most distinguishing feature of Jeffiny's mind was his fertile and incessant play of fancy. This peculiarity is recognized even by literary men who knew him only through his brilliant articles in the Review; but to those who have heard him converse in private or address a general audience, the exuberant and incessant succession of similes and illustrations that flowed upon him was astonishing. They seemed to rise up in his mind simultaneously, like the stream of bubbles that rush up from the bottom of a glass of champagne ; and yet he exercised the most perfect mastery over them all, making each find its proper place in his sentences, and throw light upon and enhance the piquancy of the others. Next in importance among his endowments was the acuteness and impartial character of his judgment This was often beautifully exhibited in the pre- liminary investigations by which he prepared himself for his forensic displays as advocate; but it shone with full steady lustre after his advancement to the bench. The judicial portion of his career, though from his provincial position comparatively obscure, was perhaps the most truly meritorious. Few judges have dis- played such uniform freedom from bias of any kind, broad com- prehensiveness of induction, and clear sagacity-, in their decisions. Combined with his other fine qualities was a delicate susceptibility to the impressions of the beautiful, more especially of what may be called the beautiful in morals. And those high endowments were engrafted on a disposition of rare integrity, independence, benevo- lence, and generosity. Jeffrey was eminently a man of society. His playful and lively temperament, as it qualified him to excel in conversation, led him to seek in it the chief source of his enjoyment : even his literary efforts are rather conversations about literature than contributions to it. But over the wide circle with which he was connected by the ties of friendship and acquaintance, and the still wider circle which he addressed in his published writings, the influence gained by his fascina- tion of manner was rendered instructive and elevating by its penetrating inUll-gence and its generous sentiment Whatever of

provincial narrowness there in be in his views, and of youthful petulance and presumption in his expression of them in early life,

was sobered down and effaced by years and a wider them, of the world. There never was a man less spoiled by the idolatrous admiration of devoted friends.

Though lost sight of in a great meneure by the world elsewhere for the last twenty years, Jeffrey continued to the last the object of affectionate pride to the peopleof_Edinhurgh. To others the an- nouncement of his death. the - memory of an animated and stirring past ; but among those who were more intimately asso- ciated with him it has left a void which cannot be filled rip.

• David Filmic's nephew, the Professor of Scotch Law.