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Lord Monboddo, who gave suppers after one Sunday, was surprised by the entry the manner of the ancients, with the table into her room of a man with a crape over strewn with flowers and the flasks gar. his face, who quietly took her keys from landed with roses. It was the same kind their accustomed place, opened a bureau, patron whom the poet consulted as to the took out a considerable sum of money, prudence or policy of including in an edi- and, having replaced the keys on the tion of his works the fragment of a “ Bal- lady's table, retired “with a low bow.” lad on the American War;” and there is The lady, speechless till her visitor bad extant a letter obviously addressed to withdrawn, in amazement exclaimed, him, beginning : “ There are two things “Surely that was Deacon Brodie!" Subwhich, I believe, the blow that terminates sequent events showed that she was probmy existence alone can destroy, my ably right in the surmise. attachment and proponsity to poesy, and
Á friend of the councillor at supper my sense of what I owe to your good- mentioned to him casually that he was
going to the country for a few days on a Burns was accidentally present when certain day. Something occurred to deErskine and the then lord advocate (Ilay tain bim in town. In the dead of the Campbell) were opposed to each other in night he was disturbed by a creaking in an important cause, and he immediately the floor. A light glanced across the wall pencilled down his impressions in two of his bedroom. Through a window stanzas, headed “ Extempore in the Court which looked into another room he obof Session." The lord advocate comes served his friend the deacon, in a mask, first:
calmly at work by the help of a dark lanHe clenched his pamphlets in his fist,
tern, making a selection from amongst
his valuables. It has been noted, remarks He quoted and he hinted, Till in a declaination mist
Colonel Fergusson, as characteristic of His argument he tint it;
the town's manners, that this little epiHe gaped for’t, he graped for't,
sode should have been quietly tided over, He faud it was awa, man :
apparently, with little or no unpleasant But what his common sense came short remark. He eked it out wi' law, man.
Up to the hour of his detection Brodie
was frequently employed in the way of Collected, Harry stood a wee,
his trade by the Erskines, and their son Then open'd out his arm, man; (Lord Buchan) mentions in proof of his His Lordship sat wi’ ruefu'e'e
mother's insight into character that she And eyed the gathering storm, man. had an instinctive distrust of the deacon, Like wind-driven hail it did asail,
and never could endure his presence with Or torrents ower a lin', man; The Bench sae wise, lift up their eyes,
complacency. The trial took place at the Half-wauken'd wi' the din, man.
High Court of Justiciary on August 29,
1788. Brodie had retained Erskine, reThis was very far from Erskine's ordi- marking that “however the matter might nary style and manner, which were re. go, he had pitted the best cock what ever markable for grace and polish.
sought." The lord advocate led for the One morning in the summer of 1788 the prosecution. The only plausible plea was good citizens of Edinburgh were startled an alibi, and when this broke down, Ers: by the announcement that Deacon Brodie, kine's case was hopeless, for the facts of a member of the Town Council, had been the robbery were clearly proved, and the apprehended on a charge of burglary, for line of defence to which he was driven having (with others) broken into the Ex- was irreconcilable with the now notorious cise Office and carried off whatever fell antecedents of the prisoner. According within their reach ; which, however, turned to the printed report, the dean of faculty out not to exceed 141. in value. The dea- rose at three in the morning to address con, a cabinet-maker by trade, was the the jury: son and grandson of burgesses of good repute, and his hereditary claims to re
He observed, that the situation of his unspectability, combined with his social fortunate client presented to the world a most qualities, had enabled him to laugh off, as astonishing moral phenomenon! That a man invented pleasantries, some stories which I descended from an ancient and respectable sound as if the famous pickpocket, Bar- family
, who, from the state of his affairs, made
up by himself, was in opulent circumstances, rington, had been the hero of them. How, and infinitely removed from indigence and for example, as Colonel Fergusson relates, temptation; who for a long series of years had an invalid lady, unable to go to church | maintained an irreproachable character in so.
ciety, and had often filled offices of honor and This town is now very quiet after the great trust among his fellow-citizens, the duties of bustle of the General Assembly, and a sad which he had discharged with attention and one it has been too for such a trifle as 84 pound fidelity; that such a person should even be a year, but it came quite to be a political suspected of the crime charged in the indict. affair, and Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox combatants. ment was a inost extraordinary fact. If it was The latter, however, carried it merely by the true, he allowed that he was of all men the great abilities and exertion of our friend Harry most culpable. But who could give credit to Erskine. Some people say it is to come on such a charge as was here exhibited ? for as an again, but I don't believe that will answer. eminent poet of our own country, who was still alive, had expressed himself:
In his capacity of lord advocate to the The needy man who has known better days, Prince of Wales, Erskine was bidden to One whom distress has spited all the world, all the formal gatherings of the prince's Is he whom tempting fiends would pitch upon To do such deeds, as make the prosperous men
friends, and Lord Buchan (the son) states Lift up their hands, and wonder who could do them. that whenever his father was in London, It being therefore highly incredible that Mr. the prince “appropriated” him, and deBrodie would have all at once departed from sired he should be invited wherever his integrity, and dashed into such guilty and H.R.H. went. His conversational powers atrocious crimes as now were charged against were particularly in request, and taxed to him, it would require a very strong and unsus. the uttermost, to entertain the Stadtholder picious proof indeed to fix the guilt upon him; when on a visit to this country; "the and if parts of Mr. Brodie's conduct which appeared to infer suspicions against him could sleepiest prince in Europe," as the Prince be ascribed to any other cause, the gentlemen of Wales described him to Erskine in of the jury would lay these appearances alto- an aside at the presentation. !le slept gether out of their view in judging of the im- through performance after performance at port of the evidence.
the theatre, and gave audible evidence of
heavy slumber during the greater part of The jury were unanimous in the verdict a State ball. There were occasions, howof guilty, and Brodie was sentenced to be ever, when he was wide awake, to the hanged on the ist of October following confusion of those who mistook his sleepCreech, the publisher of the trial, who iness for stupidity. When he was at was on the jury, states that he applied for Cambridge, he was taken to divine sera report or notes of the speech, but was vice at one of the college chapels. On informed that it was extempore; that there coming out attended by the vice-chancel, had not been a syllable in writing, and lor and some heads of houses, he turned that the dean was too much immersed in to them and asked where the text of the business to attempt setting down anything sermon was taken from, as he had not from memory.
heard it distinctly. None of them knew. The nomination to the clerkship of the At length, risking a haphazard answer, General Assembly, which lay with the Dr. B- named the Second Epistle of members, becoming vacant in 1789, was Jude. “There is but one epistle of Jude," contested with as much eagerness as if said the Stadtholder. “Oh, yes, I meant everything valuable in Church and State of course the second chapter."
6. There was involved in the issue, although the is but one chapter.” salary was only 841. a year. “ Jupiter It was about 1790 that Erskine pure Carlyle was the candidate of the Moder- chased an estate in the Valley of the Al. ates; Dr. Dalzell, professor of Greek in mond, which he christened 'Ammondell. the university, of the Highflyers. Ers. The situation he chose for the house was kine was manager and leader for the one low, and his elder brother, Lord Buchan, party; his old and constant antagonist, who had a fancy for living upon a hill, exHenry Dundas, for the other. Erskine claimed on being taken to it, “Why there opened the campaign by proposing and is actually no prospect whatever!” “ You carrying a resolution that it should be forget, my dear David,” was the laughing competent to any elector to demand a reply, “ that I have always the prospect of scrutiny, which was opposed, not without your estate.” He was already a Fifeshire reason, by Dundas; for although in the laird in right of his wife, and in 1790 he first instance a majority of three (145 to was looking to the representation of the 142) was declared for Carlyle, he eventu- Fiseshire District of Burghs.
On the ally retired from the contest rather than 30th of March the Duke of Portland await the result of a scrutiny. The im writes : portance attached to this affair may be collected from a letter addressed to Lady The prospect you give us of your success in Betty Cunningham by Mrs. Mure: - Fifeshire is highly gratifying to the wishes of
all your friends, and especially so to myself, | tage: you have the advantage of the panic, who look to it with the interested view of its the infatuation, and the contrition of both.* furnishing me with the means which I have long wished for, of knowing you personally, The biographer states that Erskine It is perfectly true that no new or additional only appeared in one of the State trials, motive was wanting to call forth the question one in which the prosecution was withof my best endeavors in promoting any object drawn upon a point of law. This is the you have at heart; but I am ingenuous enough more remarkable, because his readiness not to attempt to deny the force of that which to take up the cause of the oppressed had I have just stated and to be proud of the avowal.
grown into an article of popular belief.
A writer to the signet in the west of ScotErskine's moderate politics account in land, representing to a needy tacksman some measure for the difficulty he expe- a wealthy neighbor, was told: “We dinna
the futility of entering into a lawsuit with rienced in obtaining a seat in Parliament, and also for his not figuring as the cham- ken what ye say, maister; there's nae a pion of free discussion, like his brother puir man in Scotland need want a friend, Lord Erskine in England or Curran in or fear an enemy, whilst Harry Erskine Ireland. “What,” asks Lord Cockburn, himself something of an alarmist: in the
lives.” The truth is, Harry Erskine was “preserves the forensic glory of Thomas Erskine except the State Trials," which great Whig schism of 1792, he sided with gave subjects of permanent dignity to his Burke against Fox, and although he was genius, and which, thus sustained, his an active member of the convention for genius made immortal? Few such occa: the royal burghs, he threatened to withi.
reforming the internal administration of sions occur in England, and far fewer in draw from it if it meddled in any manner Scotland." There were enough and more with Parliamentary reform. In April, than enough of such occasions for any one willing and able to take advantage of 792, his younger brother, who had just them. It was a Scotch State trial of joined the "Society of Friends of the Muir in 1793) that Curran, in one of his People,” writes to the eldest, Lord Bufinest passages, adduced as an example become a member; I am quite sure noth
chan: “I have, after serious reflection, of the persecuting spirit generated by ing less will save the country. In com. fear:
pleting the original body, each member To what other cause, gentlemen, can you has leave to name two non-resident memascribe that in the wise, the reflecting, and the bers, and my wish is to name you and philosophic nation of Great Britain, a printer Henry; we have never yet come forward has been gravely found guilty of a libel, for together, and I like the • Tria juncta in publishing those resolutions to which the pres- uno’ in a good cause.” Lord Buchan ent minister of that kingdom had actually assented; Henry declined. In the June subscribed his name? To what other cause following he writes to Sir Gilbert Elliot: can you ascribe what in my mind is still more astonishing, that in such a country as Scot- For myself I have ever been of opinion, land – a nation cast in the happy medium that, however excellent the principles of our between the spiritless acquiescence of submis. Constitution may be, it certainly admits (parsive poverty and the sturdy credulity of pam-ticularly in respect to Parliamentary represenpered wealth ; cool and ardent, adventurous tation) of many very salutary amendments; and persevering; winging her eagle flight and whenever, at a proper time, and in a proper against the blaze of every science, with an eye mode, there shall be brought forward a plan of that never winks, and a wing that never tires ; reformation in that respect, it shall meet with crowned as she is with the spoils of every art my cordial support. But I am decidedly of and decked with the wealth of every Níuse, opinion that this is of all others the most iinfrom the deep and scrutinizing researches of her Hume, to the sweet and simpler, but not * "Speech in defence of Archibald Hamilton Row less sublime and pathetic morality of her Burns an,” Jan. 29, 1794. Thomas Muir, a member of the - how, from the bosom of a.country like that, Faculty of Advocates, was tried (Aug. 30, 1793) for
sedition, and sentenced to be transported for fourteen genius, and character, and talents should be years. Jeffrey and Romilly were present at the trial, banished to a distant barbarous soil, con- which (Lord Cockburn states) Jeffrey never mentioned demned to pine under the horrid communion without horror. Romilly writes to Dumont: "I am of vulgar vice and base-born profligacy, for not surprised that you have been shocked at the ac
. You would have twice the period that ordinary calculation gives been more shocked if you had been present at it as I to the continuance of human life? But I will was.' Palmer, a Dissenting minister who had been not press any idea that is painful to me and I educated at Eton and Cambridge where he graduated, am sure must be painful to you.
I will only
We cannot venture to print the retort of say that you have now an example of which Lord Braxfield to a person similarly accused, who justineither England nor Scotland had the advan- / fied being a reformer by divine example.
was tried for the same offence and underwent the same sentence.
proper time that such a plan could have been of the minority, and a subject of regret to suggested, and that the mode adopted is in have refrained from voting with them. the present conjuncture the most unfortunate Jeffrey was eager to be one of the chosen that could have been devised.
band, but was over-persuaded by his father At the same time he thought the coer- and Lord Glenlee to stay away.
16 He encive measures proposed by the govern- vied the thirty-eight, and always thought ment too strong; and at a public meeting less of himself from his not having been in Edinburgh, Nov. 20, 1795, he was the one of them.” Lord Buchan (the son) mover of resolutions condemnatory of says: “I believe this expulsion from the the Seditious Meetings and Writings Bill deanship was a great grief to my father; and strongly protesting against the con- though, according to his nature, he bore tinuation of the war. " Who is not with it with a sweetness and equanimity unus is against us,” was the motto of the changed. My mother controlled her feels anti-Gallican pariy, as indeed it is of most ings less." There were occasions when parties when what they think their vital his equanimity gave way, and the feeling interests are at stake, and Erskine's po- of irritation at the treatment he had re. litical opponents, finding that they could ceived from his professional brethren was command a majority amongst his profes- too strong for bim. As his biographer sional brethren, resolved on striking a suggests, he was but human. At some blow which turned out, as they meant it public Whig dinner at this time the should, the most mortifying that could be chairman proposed “the health of the inflicted on such a man. The office of gentlemen of the Faculty who had done dean of the faculty, as already men- themselves the honor of voting for Mr. tioned, was formally an annual one. Ers. Erskine's re-nomination to the deanship.” kine had held it for ten years, when a Mr. Erskine rose, and very quietly recircular signed by eight members was ad- marked, “Mr. President, would it not be dressed to the body at large, calling on sufficient to propose the health of the gerthem to show their disapproval of their tlemen of the Faculty ?” dean's conduct and principies by displac- Burns gave vent in verse to his indige ing him in favor of a candidate better nation at the affront put upon his distinfitted to, “represent them to the world, guished friend in “ The Dean of Faculty: and to sustain their character of attach: a New Ballad." It was not one of his ment to the laws and constitutions of their happiest effusions. The first verse decountry.”. This candidate was the lord scribes the heat of the contest: advocate, Robert Dundas of Arniston,
Dire was the hate at old Harlaw, who was chosen by a majority of 85, 123 That Scot to Scot did carry, to 38. Lord Cockburn, who condemns And dire the discord Langside saw, the proceeding, is obliged to admit that For beauteous, hapless Mary: the provocation was strong:
But Scot with Scot ne'er met so hot,
Or were more in fury seen, Sir, Considering the state of the times, the pro.
Than 'twixt Hal and Bob for the famous job priety of his presiding at a public meeting to
Who should be Faculty's Dean, Sir. petition against the war ,may be questioned. The official head of a public body should con- There appeared also amongst several sider what is due to the principles and the satirical pieces in verse and prose on this feelings of those he may be supposed to rep event, one entitled : “ The Telegraph: a resent; and to the great majority of the Facu Consolatory Epistle from Thomas Muir, ulty, Erskine's conduct must have been deeply offensive. Still the resolution to dismiss him Esq., of Botany Bay, to the Hon. Henry was utterly unjustifiable. It was nearly un.
Erskine, late Dean of Faculty.” It con. precedented, violent, and very ungrateful. He tains some spirited lines: had covered the Faculty with the lustre of his The vote is passed, and black balls fill the urn; character for several years ; and if wrong, had The silken gown is from thy shoulders torn been misled solely by a sense of duty. Nev. And all thy titles - all thy honors pass ertheless, on the 12th of January, 1796, he To deck the persen of abhorred Dundas. was turned out of office. Had he and the Come to the sacred shore, and with thee bring Faculty alone been concerned in this intem. All who have virtue to detest a king. perate proceeding, it would not have occurred. But it was meant, and was taken, as a warning One of the most remarkable cases in to all others to avoid the dangers of public which Erskine was engaged after his meetings on the wrong side.
degradation or (as his friends insisted in In times long after, when men's minds calling it) his elevation, was the trial of had calmed down, it was a subject of pride Macdonald of Glengarry for a duel which and self-congratulation to have been one I ended fatally. The victim of the duel
was Lieut. Macleod of the 42nd Highland. I and he seemed to do well at first; but he ers. The scene of the quarrel was the ball-gradually declined, and died on the 3d of room at Inverness, May ist, 1798. At June. Throughout the affair, adds Colonel a late hour, after supper, Glengarry came Fergusson, the prime idea in the poor up to a young lady, Miss Forbes of Cul- lad's mind seems to have been to bear loden, and claimed her promise to dance himself in a manly fashion, and to supthe last country dance with him. She port the dignity of the 42nd, under the disclaimed any such promise, and said gross insult that had been put upon him. she was engaged for the dance to Mr. When he shook hands with his adversary, Randal Macdonald, and on this gentle. his nnive remark was, “ You will allow, man's relinquishing his right in Glen Glengarry, that I stood your fire like a garry's favor, she refused to dance with man." either of them. On Glengarry's still in- Whilst an indictment for murder was sisting on his claim, Macleod, a mere preparing by the direction of the lord ad. youth, who was sitting by her, said: vocate, Erskine was consulted whether it “Why do you tease the lady? Can't you would be safe for Glengarry, who was still allow her to choose for herself? You are at large, to stand a trial. The reply was one of the stewards, and can command as that the case was a serious one, but that many dances as you please.” Glengarry be (Erskine) would do his best, and Glenreplied “ It is no business of yours; you garry at once determined to “stake his should not interfere.” Macleod explained chance on Henry Erskine." The facts that he only did it"in a friendly manner.” were proved as stated, and we can well After this, Miss Forbes danced a reel believe that the excitement was extreme with Macleod, and then left the room. when the principal witness presented her. This was the lady's account of the occur. self, - a handsome young woman, dressed
The gentlemen adjourned to the in a riding-habit, black hat, and green mess-room of the 79th Regiment. There veil, – to whom Lord Eskgrove, the prehigh words passed between Glengarry siding judge, addressed the remark, aster and Macleod, and Macdonald, it is said, she had been sworn,
“ Sit down, young struck the lieutenant over the bonnet with leddy, but ye maun pit up your veil, and his stick, and kicked him, with the re- let's see your face." mark, “ It is now daylight, and you know The court had sat nearly fourteen hours, the use of your pen and ink.” Macleod and it was close on midnight, when Ersdrew his cirk, but the company interposed kine began his speech for the defence, to prevent further mischief.
which occupied upwards of three hours. A hostile meeting was arranged, but No report of it is extant, but it consisted, was delayed by some mistake as to the we are told, of a powerful appeal to the locality: the magistrates interfered; and jury, on the point of honor, stress being a rumor had got abroad that Glengarry laid on the persistent efforts of Major was disposed to show the white feather. Macdonald and his principal, to offer When the meeting took place, Major every kind of apology consistent with Macdonald, Glengarry's second, endeav. their character as gentlemen. It was four ored to bring about an amicable arrange- o'clock in the morning when the jury were ment; but besides an apology in writing enclosed, and. appointed to give in their to be dictated by military men, Macleod verdict at twelve o'clock that day. Such required that the stick with which he had had been the effect of Erskine's appeal to been struck should be placed in his hands the jury, that it was felt that the matter to be used as he thought proper. This was as good as ended. So much was this was positively refused, and the parties the case, that a question arose as to the took their ground at eleven paces. Cap- necessity for Glengarry's returning to his tain Campbell (Macleod's second) had quarters in the Tolbooth. Coll Macdonproposed 'ten, and Major Macdonald ald, Glengarry's agent and kinsman, came twelve. The bullets for the pistols proved to consuli Mr. Erskine on the point, when to be too small, but Major Macdonald he said, “ If Glengarry is wise he will re. would not hear of their being wrapped in turn to the prison.” He deemed it impru. leather to make them fit. Macleod was dent at this stage to appear over-confident hit at the first fire, under the arm. At of the result. The jury accompanied their this stage the seconds induced the gentle. verdict of “not guilty ” with a statement men to shake hands. Macleod, it was of their reasons, which were essentially found, was badly wounded. He was the points urged by Erskine, disclaiming, taken by the surgeon in attendance to with doubtful consistency, the doctrine Fort George, when the ball was extracted, I that killing in a fair duel was any defence