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leading counsel. In replying to an im- pun, he began : " Maclean and Donald, passioned appeal of this powerful oppo- the defendants ; Tickle, the plaintiff, my nent, he summed up an ironical picture of lord !” “Tickle her yourself, Harry, you Mr. Lockhart's eloquence in these sarcas. can do it as well as 1,'' was the retort of tic terms: “Nay, my lords, if tears could the presiding judge. Like his brother, he have moved your lordships, tears, sure I was extremely popular with the juniors of am, would not have been wanting." The the bar, and never failed to throw his lord president immediately interrupted broad shield over them when, with or the young counsel, and told him he was without reason, they had fallen under the pursuing a very indecorous course of ob- displeasure of the bench. A young counservation. Wedderburn maintained with sel, who was with him in an important spirit that he had said nothing he was not cause, had ventured to say that he was well entitled to say, and would have no surprised to hear what had just fallen hesitation in saying again. The lord from their lordships. This called forth a president, irritated at so bold an answer sharp reproof, to the confusion of the from a junior, rejoined in a manner, the junior and the probable prejudice of the personality of which provoked the advo: client, when Erskine gallantly came to cate to tell his lordship that he had said the rescue by expressing the fullest con. as a judge what he dared not justify as a currence in the contrition felt by his gentleman. The president invoked the young friend at an imprudence which was protection of his brother judges, and entirely owing to inexperience, “ for when Wedderburn was ordered by the unani. he has practised as long, or half as long, mous voice of the court to make a most at this bar as I have, I can safely assure abject apology, on pain of deprivation. your lordships that he will be surprised He refused, and threw off his gown.* at nothing your lordships may say.”
It was not long, we are told, before even with some of their lordships it must have the law lords, who were most antiquated been no easy matter to be grave. in their ideas, began to acknowledge the case where Erskine, David Cathcart superiority of the new style, introduced (afterwards Lord Alloway), and John by Erskine, to the dry and somniferous Clerk (afterwards Lord Eldin), were enprosing of the old. Having to address gaged, the judge, Lord Polkemmet, thus “the fifteen ”in a case which presented addressed the ocates : no difficulty, he began : “My lords, the
Weel, Maister Askine, I hae heard you, an' facts of the case are so exceedingly simple, and the evidence that I shall adduce Dauvid, an' I thocht ye were richt; and noo I
I thocht ye were richt; syne I heard you, so perfectly conclusive, that I am happy hae heard Maister Clerk, an' I think he's the to say I shall not need to take up much richtest amang ye. That bauthers me, ye see! of your lordships' time. I shall be very Sae I maun e’en tak hame the process and brief.” This exordium did not at all fall / whamble't i' my wame a wee, ower my toddy — in with the expectations or wishes of their and syne ye’se hae an Interlocitor. lordships, who either had more time on
A similar story is told of an English their hands than they knew what to do with, or bad settled themselves down for baron of the Exchequer who complained an intellectual treat, and the general senti of the difficulty of deciding after hearing ment was expressed by one of them who both sides, and begged the counsel to called out: “ Hoots, Maister Harry, dinna come to an understanding amongst thembe brief, dinna be brief."
selves. Lord Braxfield freely indulged on “ His wit,” says Lord Brougham,
the bench the coarse humor for which he renowned and, as it made him the life of was famous in private life. A sample of society, placed him as the first favorite of the kind of colloquy that took place the courts; but it was also used in ex. amongst their lordships is given in “Red. cess, partly owing to the audience whom gauntlet: be addressed, the fifteen judges, who re. “What's the matter with the auld bitch quired to be relieved in their dull work, next?” said an acute metaphysical judge (Lord and as soon as he began, expected to be Kames) aside to his brethren. “ This is a daft made gay.”
They gladly caught up and cause, , Bladderskate. What say ye tillit, ye threw back the ball which be fung to bitch?” “Nothing, my Lord,” answered Blad.
derskate. them. Opening the case of a venerable
" I say nothing, but pray to Heaven
to keep our own wits." " Amen, amen," anspinster with a name provocative of a
swered his learned brother, for some of us • The Lives of Twelve Eminent Judges. By W. C. have but few to spare.” 'Townsend, Esq., M.A. London. 1846. In two volVol. i., p. 167.
Having to be examined as a witness in
a consistorial court before Mr. Commis- ' I suppose, my lord,” was the reply, sary Balfour, a pompous, absurd person, they are like ourselves, confined to port.” Erskine so framed his answers as to turn The dearth of claret at a judicial table the whole proceedings into ridicule: seems to have been a standing grievance, It was only when everybody in Court was remembered claret, fresh from the cask,
although “Jupiter" Carlyle states that he shaking with laughter that a suspicion of the truth dawned upon the judge ; when he, in being hawked round Edinburgh at eightvain, tried to resto order. With even super- pence a quart. Erskine was dining with added dignity of utterance he, at last, was Lord Ariadale when, being confined to driven to pronounce the words: “At this port, he addressed the host in parody of shameful point in the proceedings of this Court, an old song: it grieves me to have to say that the intimacy
Kind sir, it's for your courtesie, of the friend must yield to the severity of the
When I come here to dine, sir, judge. Macer, - forthwith conduct Mr. Ers. kine to the Tolbooth !” To the increased
For the love you bear to me,
Give me the claret wine, sir. amusement of the audience, the only notice of this awful mandate that the macer deigned to To which Mrs. Honeyman, the hostess, take was to reply, with ill-concealed disgust, retorted readily:"Hoots! Mr. Ba'four !”
Drink the port, the claret's dear, Meeting Balfour, who was suffering
Erskine, Erskine; from lameness, he asked what had hap- Ye'll get fou on't, never fear, pened, and was informed in labored and
My Jo, Erskine. tortuous phraseology that Balfour had
Henry Erskine warmly co-operated with fallen in getting over a stile on his broth- his brother, Lord Buchan, in the foundaer's property. Well, Balfour, it was a tion of the Scotch Society of Antiquamercy it was not your own stile (style) or ries, and his name heads the list of ordiyou would certainly have broken your nary meinbers, dating from the first formal neck."
meeting on Nov. 14, 1782. His subseThe Scotch bench and bar were then quent attendance was irregular, and he principally filled and recruited from the was accused of not having made a donalanded aristocracy, and did their best to tion to the society, upon which he wrote be as exclusive in their way as the old to the secretary, regretting that he had French nobility. Thus an influential been unable to attend their meetings for section of them opposed a steady resist, some time past, at the same time stating ance to the claim of a gentleman named that he enclosed "a donation which, if Wright to be admitted of the faculty on you keep it long enough, will be the greatthe ground of low birth, and it was only est curiosity you have.” This through the strenuous exertions of Ers: guinea of George III. kine ibat the opposition was overcome. Amongst the most remarkable memHis protégé got little or no practice, and bers of this society was Hugo Arnot of died in embarrassed circumstances. His
Balcormo, advocate, author of the “ His. death was announced to Erskine by Sher. tory of Edinburgh.” It was to him, on iff Anstruther, who added: “They say his assuming the title of fellow, that Lord he has left no effects.". "That is not Buchan happily applied Pope's couplet: surprising," was the rejoinder, “as he had no causes, he could have no effects.” | Worth makes the man, and want of it the fel
low, This is not the only instance in which what was a good joke at the time, and has The rest is all but leather or prunello. since become a hackneyed one with many Arnot was a lantern-faced, lean and at. reputed fathers, has been traced to Henry tenuated figure of a man, of avowedly Erskine. The punning inscription Tie sceptical opinions. The white horse he Doces on a tea-chest has been claimed for ordinarily bestrode was as lanky and him. At a circuit dinner to the bar, Lord sepulchral-looking as the rider. ReturnKames had directed that port wine only ing from a Sunday-afternoon ride, he met should be placed upon the table, and Erskine coming from divine service, and turned a deaf ear to the many audible called out to him, " Where have you been, hints for claret. At length when hard Harry? What has a man of your sense pressed, in the hope of producing a di- to do consorting with a parcel of old version, he turned io Erskine and asked : women? I protest you could expect to " What can have become of the Dutch, hear nothing new;” adding, with an extra who only the other day were drubbed off sneer, “Wiat, now,
text? the Dorserbank by Admiral Parker?" Our text,” replied Harry, with a voice of
impressive solemity, his eye sternly fixed, I expect soon to see the time when two Ersthe while, on the white horse and bis kines, in two different climates practising, are rider, was from the 6th chapter of the to be at the head of the profession in the dif. Book of Revelation and the 8th verse: ferent countries, where, unlike Castor and . And I looked, and behold a Pale Horse : Pollux of old, the one will not be in the shades and his name that sat on him was DEATH, once lords of the ascendant in their respective
below when the other is in heaven, but both at and Hell followed with him.'"
hemispheres. In order that that object may On another occasion, when Arnot, taken be attained with as little. delay as possible, I to task for his irregularities, was contend- wish you with all convenient speed to be among ing that a liberal allowance would be made us in the House of Commons; and if any by a gracious Deity for the errors and means occur by which I can tend to forward temptations of the fleshi, Erskine replied that object, you have only to desire me to be by an impromptu verse:
upon the watch. The Scriptures assure us that much is forgiven till many years afterwards, and he re
He did not succeed in obtaining a seat To flesh and to blood by the mercy of heaven But I've searched all the books, and texts i mained in Edinburgh as manager for the
Whig party during the whole of the strug. That extend such forgiveness to Skin and to gle which ended in the complete triumph Bone.
of Pitt. In addition to the office of lord
advocate, he was appointed advocate and With this may be coupled his better state counsellor to the Prince of Wales known epigram on Moore's translation of on his Royal Highness's establishment as Anacreon:
great steward of Scotland. His conti
dential communications with the Coalition Oh, mourn not for Anacreon dead Oh, weep not for Anacreon fled
were carried on through Sir Thomas The lyre still breathes he touched before,
Dundas, whose letters abound with proofs For we have one Anacreon Moore.
of the delusion under which the contest
was begun, and continued on their part, His own translation, or imitation, of the until the general election placed the state 33rd Ode of Anacreon is not unworthy of public opinion beyond a doubt. On to be placed alongside of Moore's, and December 18, 1783, Sir Thomas writes: his translations from Horace are marked by grace and vivacity; but the production Parliament will be dissolved on Saturday:it which won him a place amongst poets, therefore becomes necessary that every welland attained at one time an extraordinary wisher to the wellbeing and salvation of this amount of popularity, was “ The Emi.
Constitution should exert himself to the utmost
in forming the new Parliament properly. grant: an Eclogue, Occasioned by the
Report says Pitt is First Lord of the Treas. late numerous Emigrations from the
ury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Highlands of Scotland. Written in 1773.” Temple Secretary of State, etc., etc., etc. After going through several editions, it I think these new Ministers are so little was published, in 1793, as a “chap-book,” | known in our country, that those who are and sold by pedlars or chapmen as a part known, although not Ministers, may still have of their penny libraries. The verses are some weight. smooth and flowing, and that a sympa
Fox was with the King after Lord Temple thetic public was found for thein in the and his friends came out, and H. M. said nothpastoral districts of Scotland is intelligible ing to him out of the common road of business, enough, but they want the genuine poetic is little doubt of a dissolution.
which is rather extraordinary. However, there ring, and, so far as the higher class of From the nicest calculations of those who readers are concerned, they lie under the know all the connections of this country, it is very serious disadvantage of provoking a said with confidence that the new Administracomparison with “ The Deserted Village” tion will at the utmost gain twenty-four votes of Goldsmith.
from amongst our friends, whatever they may On the formation of the Coalition min- lose in the jumble from their own, which will istry, Erskine was appointed lord advo- secure to us a large majority in the new Par
liament. cate in the place of Henry Dundas, asterwards Lord Melville, his lifelong rival When the dissolution took place, no and competitor for place. The appoint- less than one hundred and fifty-eight supment was announced to him in a letter porters of the Coalition lost their seats. dated August 15, 1783, by the Duke. of On the 22nd of December, 1783, le Portland, the prime minister, and in a writes to say that Lord Temple bad recongratulatory letter of the 19th, Adam signed, and encloses the copy of an adwrites :
dress to the king, moved by Thomas
(Lord) Erskine and seconded by Colonell.escapade of the same sort, and, according Fitzpatrick:
to Sir Thomas Dundas, he (Sheridan) It needs no comment. In short, the disap
has had a compleat trimming both from pointment, distraction, confusion, and (I had the D. of P. and Fox, and promises to be almost said) shame of these our opponents, are
more cautious in future; that hobby-horse not to be described. The address is to be car- of his called Wit frequently runs away ried to the King by the whole House, and will with him.” He forgot that he was writ. probably be received on Wednesday.
ing to the most incorrigible wit in ScotThere is an end of all illusions respecting a land. dissolution. His Majesty's present Administration con- writes: “The present glorious ministers
On the 9th of February, Sir Thomas sists of Mr. William Pitt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Earl Gower, President of begin to droop most piteously; their fathe Council — no other person having as yet mous address from the House of Peers accepted, or now being likely to accept, of any is turned into such ridicule that they canoffice.
not bear it.” A month later, March 9, In short the game is up with them.
there is a perceptible change of tone: Fox says he hopes that you and Wight have “ You will probably be much surprised not wrote to resign your offices, and desires when you hear that we carried the quesyou may not think of doing so. For God's sake publish the address in every night only by one vote.”
tion of a representation to the king last paper, and also the account of the proceed
Not the least remarkable part of this ings of the present glorious and unparalleled Ministry, that it may be proclaimed to the re- correspondence is that relating to the motest corner of the country. I wish you may
“ Irish Resolutions," the object of which be able to make sense of this confused letter, was to mitigate the glaring injustice by for I am so hurried, and twenty people talking which Irish commerce and manufacture's to me, that I hardly know what I am writing. had been restricted or suppressed. Lord
Again, a week further on, in confident North declared that “they outdid everyanticipation of an assured victory:
thing that the wildest imagination could
suggest; "and Pitt's willingness to make LONDON, ist January, 1784.
equitable concessions, which, with Ireland MY DEAR HARRY, - I am delighted to find in arms and Grattan proclaiming her inby yours of the 26th December that my letters dependence, could be withheld no longer, of the 22nd, with the copy of the address, had a good effect. Believe me, the game
was represented by the Foxites through with this still-born Administration. They
the whole length and breadth of Enbegin to look upon it as all over theinselves; gland and Scotland as a base surrenand the K— has lately used expressions der of British interests and rights. On which are not very promising in their favor, - the 18th of February, 1785, Sir Thomas such as, “ He had no wish to turn out the late Dundas writes : “ This is a moment of Ministry;"and, “These gentlemen have taken the most anxious expectation that perhaps the Government upon themselves — they have ever occurred in this country; " and Ers themselves to blamc if they cannot carry it on.” kine is exhorted to strain every nerve to All this looks very much like preparing for a
procure petitions from all the principal change. Keep up your spirits, and do not Scottish towns, by assuring them that let them crow too much on their supposed Irish competition would be their ruin if victory.
it was set free. How zealously and effecImmediately before the decisive divis- tively he carried out the wishes of his ion in the Lords, when the India Bill was party and his political chiefs, may be colrejected in compliance with the king's lected from the letters of acknowledgment wishes conveyed through Lord Temple, addressed to him, e. g.:Adam is reported to have said : “ I wish
LONDON, Saturday, 7 May, 1785, I was as sure of the kingdom of heaven as I am of carrying our bill this even.
MY DEAR SIR, - The very extraordinary exing.”
ertions you have made in opposition to Mr. Next to the intemperance of Burke, Pitt's intended transfer of the commerce of nothing did the Coalition more harm with this kingdom and complete ruin of the landed the country than a rash expression of interest, insure me the most favorable contheir attorney general “ Jack Lee,” when, struction of the sentiments which such ser. making light of the chartered rights of vices must have occasioned in my mind, and the East India Company, he asked, "What therefore I shall not detain you with a repeti
tion of my thanks.
PORTLAND. is a charter but a piece of parchment with a lump of wax dangling to it?" The Scotch Pittites never lost beart, Sheridan was guilty of more than one and Henry Dundas instinctively divined
the long lease of power that was in store of a lawyer, that professional subjects are for them. On Erskine's playfully re- thrown into the background, and we bear marking, during a casual meeting in the more of the accomplished man of the Parliament House just after his appoint- world and leader of society than of the ment, that he was about to order his silk learned jurist or forensic orator. Thus gown, the official costume of the lord ad- we are told of Erskine's patronizing Luvocate, Dundas drily observed: “It is nardi, the Italian aeronaut, who became hardly worth while for the time you will the rage in Edinburgh and is immortalized want it: you had better borrow mine.” by Burns; and we learn how the second The biographer's version of the reply visit of Mrs. Siddons to the northero differs disadvantageously from the cur- Athens, in 1785, gave rise to a theatrical rent one: “ From the readiness with altercation in which the dean of faculty which you make the offer, Mr. Dundas, I was mixed up. He must have been have no doubt that the gown is a gown stage-struck or Siddons-struck, for, not made to fit any party; but however short content with heading a cabal against an my time in my office may be, it shall actor whom the playgoing public had pronever be said of Henry Erskine that lie scribed, he set on foot and exerted all his adopted the abandoned habits of his pred influence to promote a subscription of ecessor.” A gown cannot be made to fit the faculty to present “the admirable
party” except in the sense of “per- Mrs. Siddons” with a massive silver tea. son," a vulgar use of the term of recent tray, “in token of their appreciation of date; and the repartee is best in the more her many virtues as much as in gratitude concise form: “Thank you, but it never for the pleasure she had afforded them.” shall be said," etc.
Nor does bis connection with the stage When the Coalition ministry came to end here. In 1791 Stephen Kemble and an end, Erskine was succeeded by Mr. Jackson entered into an agreement to rent llay Campbell, a shorter man than him- the Edinburgh and Glasgow Theatre. self, and on offering to hand on the gown, They fell out, and referred the matter in he said, “ You must take nothing off it, dispute to Erskine, who after due deliber. for l’ll (sic) soon need it again.” “ It will ation issued what is called a decreet-arbi. be bare enough, Harry," retorted Camp: tral, which pleased neither party, and es. bell, “ before you get it again.” He did specially displeased Jackson, who picks it not get it again till after the lapse of to pieces, paragraph by paragraph, in his twenty-one years.
History of the Scottish Theatre.” Duro Towards the end of 1785, Erskine was ing one of the disturbances at the theatre consoled (or the loss of his official rank caused by the cabal, a man in the pit per: by being elected dean of the Faculty of severed in retaining a standing position Advocates. “ The deanship,” remarks in defiance of a clamorous call to him to Lord Cockburn, “is merely a station of sit down. Erskine came to the front of honor, but when not lowered by the inter- his box and appealed to the indulgence of ference of political, or other improper, the audience : * Pray excuse the gentle. considerations, it is the highest honor of man: don't you see it is only a tailor the kind that can be conferred in Scot. resting himself.” The man sank into his land. Each election is only for a single seat, and would gladly have sunk under year; but he who once succeeds is almost it. never dispossessed, so that it is the presi. The tragic muse was not the only one dency for lise, or during the holder's of the sisterhood which enjoyed the propleasure, of the most important public tection of the dean. Burns writes to his body in the country." The contest was friend Gavin Hamilton : December 7,
Sir Thomas Dundas writes, Dec. 1786, — My Lord Glencairn and the Dean 30, 1785:
of Faculty, Mr. Henry Erskine, have MY DEAR DEAN OF FACULTY,
taken me under their wing, and in all joice and am exceeding glad at your victory.
probability I shall soon be the tenth and a great victory it appears to me to be, be worthy, and the eighth wise man of the cause your opponents certainly stirr'd heaven world.” Again, December 13: “I have and earth, with all the hellish powers of ad been introduced to a good number of the ministration, to defeat you and the cause of noblesse, but my avowed patrons and pa. freedom at the Scots Bar. You have now, tronesses are the Duchess of Gordon, the thank God, got the command over our enemies, Countess of Glencairn, with my Lord and and I know you will make a good use of it.
Lady Betty, the Dean of Facuity, and Sir It is one almost inevitable disadvan- John Whitefoord.” It was Erskine whom tage of having a soldier for the biographer Burns had to thank for his introduction to