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from the roof, while the odour was enough to perfume the whole parish. We (the boys), were called in and made to partake, and were very kindly used, particularly by my uncle Harry Dundas. How they did joke and laugh! with songs and toasts, and disputation, and no want of practical fun. I do not remember anything that was said, and probably did not understand it. But the noise and the heat, and the uproarious mirth, I think I hear and feel them yet.” It was in such convivilia that the evenings and the holidays of many of our statesmen of the last age, Judges of Session and Counsel, were passed. Lord Newton, an eminent judge of those days, participated deeply in the bacchanalian propensities of the period, and was held to be one of the profoundest drinkers of the period. Simond, the French traveller, relates that he was quite surprised on stepping into the Parliament House, to find in the judge the very man whom he had just parted with two hours before, after spending a night of debauch, when both were excessively intoxicated. Cockburn relates of this judge that he was the modern king of the Ante Manum Club, a jovial institution which contained and helped to kill most of the eminent topers of Edinburgh, for about sixty years preceding 1818. When Lord Newton died, the members dined in solemn mourning, and hung up his portrait in the tavern which had been the field of his fame. On Lord Hermand's invitation, Jeffrey, Moncrieff, Keay, Murray, and Cockburn, with some other of the younger spirits, joined the society, to have a glimpse of the symposium of a past age. The Club had got old and had no head for talk, while the young comers had no head for wine. Hermand, true to his custom, went often to his court on Saturday direct from the Club room, where he had sat down the night before.
He had no sympathy with the degenerate youth of the time. When some of them protested against more wine, he said sadly, “What shall we come to at last? I believe I shall be left alone on the face of the earth drinking claret.”
The men of those days were not so much afraid as the men of our more sober and correct times, to exhibit their tendencies. Hence society held in solution more odd characters. “The Memorials” are filled with sketches of oddities, none of whom could exist now. Lord Justice-Clerk Eskgrove, formerly mentioned, the head of the High Criminal Court, was one of those whose absurdities afforded pabulum to the jokers in the Parliament House for many years. “Whenever a knot of persons was seen listening in the Outer House to one who was talking slowly, with a low muttering voice and a projected chin, and then the listeners burst asunder in roars of laughter, nobody thought of asking what the joke was; they were sure that it was a successful imitation of Esky, and this was enough.” And if all the stories told of this judge be true, his peculiarities must have been of a most racy description. It was his custom to show the aggravated nature of the panel's guilt in a most ludicrous fashion. In pronouncing sentence of death on a tailor, for murdering a soldier by stabbing him, he said with great judicial solemnity, "and not only
you murder him whereby he was bearea-ved of his life, but you did thrust, or push, or project, or propel the leth-al weapon through the bellyband of his regimen-tall breeches, wbich were His Majesty's." His adjuration to a female witness was not less ludicrous. In the trial of Glengaty for murder in a duel, a lady of great beauty was called as a witness. She came into court veiled. Before administering the oath, Eskgrove admonished her of ber duty in this fashion: “Young woman! you will now consider yourself in the presence of Almighty God, and of this High Court. Lift up your veil, throw off all modesty, and look me in the face."
But Cockburn's reminiscences are not confined to the court in which he practised. He gives us some excellent portraits of Scotch gentlewomen of the last century. “They were a delightful setstrong-headed, warm-hearted, and high-spirited—the fire of their temper not always latent—merry even in solitude, very resolute, indifferent about the modes and habits of the modern world, and adhering to their own ways, so as to stand out like primitive rocks above ordinary society. Their prominent qualities of sense, humour, affection, and spirit, were embodied in curious outsides; for they were all dressed, and spoke, and did exactly as they chose—their language like their habits entirely Scotch, but without any other vulgarity than what perfect naturalness is sometimes mistaken for.”
Our space will not permit more than a reference to the fine full lengths of Dr Inglis, Principal Robertson the historian, Dr Adam Ferguson, and Sir Henry Moncrieff, whose Sunday suppers Cockburn celebrates, albeit he was a clergyman, living in what is now thought by those who know little of the time to have been a very strict was the custom in Sir Henry's family to dine on Sundays between sermons, probably without touching wine. Sir Henry then walked back in full costume, gown, cocked hat, bands, and tall cane, from his house to the church, preached or heard his colleagae preach, took tea at five, then spent some hours in his study. At nine had family worship, at which he was glad to see the friends of any of his sons; after which the whole party sat down to a supper of good things, with plenty of wine, and seasoned with the powerful talk of the old clergyman. “ These days are now past," sighs the narrator, “but the figure, the voice, the thoughts, and the kind and cheerful manliness of Sir Harry, as disclosed on these Sunday evenings, will be remembered with gratitude by some of the best intellects in Scotland."
These reminiscences of the old habits, and of the picturesque men and women who then lived and had soon after passed away, derive a deeper interest from the circumstance that such national peculiarities do not and cannot exist any longer. Edinburgh was then, to a great extent, the united resort of the best families of the Scotch nobility, and from the continent being shut, and the fame of the distinguished professors who then filled the chairs of the University, many scions of the best English families resided there for a period of their youth. At the time Cockburn entered into active life, the college contained Principal Robertson, Joseph Black the chemist, Hope, who
succeeded him, Munro, Gregory, Playfair, Dugald Stewart. The church was represented by Blair, Home, Sir Henry Moncrieff, Dr Webster, Carlisle.The Episcopal body gave Alison, the father of the historian, and author of the Essays on Taste. On the bench sat Lords Monboddo, Hailes, Glenlee, Meadowbank, and Woodhouselee all judges who had distingushed themselves. At the bar stood Blair, Dundas, and Harry Erskine among the seniors, and among the juniors as yet scarcely known to fame, were Scott, Jeffrey, Cranston, Forsyth, John Macfarlane, Keay, Moncrieff, John Clark, and for a time, Horner and Brougham. We question if London, great as it is, could at any given period show an equal galaxy of celebrated names.
And yet with all this talent, there was then in Scotland no freedom of opinion - no independent press—no public meetings. Few Dissenters, still fewer Episcopalians, and Roman Catholics were almost unknown. The whole political constituency of Scotland was in the hands of one man- -a member of the Government. In the hands of Henry Dundas was the whole power, patronage, place, and emolument in Scotland—from the fiscalship of an obscure burgh, to the presidency of the Court of Session. Woe to the youth who ventured to hold opinions different from the majority, political hostility and personal bitterness beset him on all sides. If he was a lawyer, judges frowned on him, clients avoided him. If in the church, he was held to be heterodox. If his livelihood depended on the upper classes, his starvation was certain. Year after year, while life wore away, men of liberal principles felt themselves under a tacit proscription, which every effort to remove made more certain and complete.
The first great step which tended to bring about a better order of things, was the establishment of the Edinburgh Review. The boldness of the experiment was a great element in its success. It ventilated opinions which were formerly believed to be held only by the ignorant and discontented. The talent it exhibited—the spirit it breathed -the independence it showed, were all new, and had the freshness of the morning of a better day. A few years of such writing threw down the old idols from their thrones and broke them across their own thresholds. It is to the everlasting credit of Cockburn, that notwithstanding the family influence he possessed, he took part from the first with the little band which was proscribed, and passed with them through the long and trying probation they had to endure. The first gleam of success the legal portion of these persons obtained, was in the introduction of jury trial. The establishment of this civil institution threw open the prizes at the bar to advocates who had braved the frown of judges, and whose talents were recognised by their countrymen despite the hostility of the Bench. In this arena Jeffrey and Cockburn shone conspicuous, and were rewarded for the courage they had shown in dark days passed away.
At length the change was effected. Scotland was admitted within the action of the Constitution, and bit by bit this was accomplished. Cockburn found his reward as Jeffrey did, in the respect of his
countrymen, and in being raised to the Bench after a long life of labour; and here, or about this period, his Memorials end. Never was there a more pleasing judge without being a profound lawyer. His manner to Counsel was kind in the extreme. To a jury he was invaluable-he directed them in such a common-sense homely way, and with such an evident desire that they should understand the whole matter, that he left them no difficulties to deal with. To the comparative leisure which the Bench afforded him, we owe much of the Memorials, and few men have left behind them a record so interesting to the lover of old Scotch ways and days, or that presents in the few glimpses given of the writer, a more strong assurance of a healthy, happy, and contented man, satisfied in the enjoyment of a highly respectable position, and a long life honourably spent among scenes endeared to him by early remembrances and among companions whom he loved.
STATE OF PUBLIC BUSINESS IN THE MATTER OF
NATIONAL EDUCATION. Things remain as they were. The four Bills which still lingered to grace our table when we last discussed this subject have died, for the most part, an easy death. As we predicted, the Lord Advocate's Burgh School Bill (Scotland) was peacefully withdrawn from the parliamentary world of party strife and narrow-mindedness; and so noiselessly did Lord Kinnaird's two measures depart this life, that we had to arrive at the fact by deduction. The Lord Advocate's Parochial School Bill formed, however, what some will call an honourable exception to the general rule. Twice did the Commons say, “ Live;" twice did the Lords say, “ Die"a procedure, in our opinion, alike discreditable to “both your houses." Certainly they have both earned a character for bigoted adherence to unsound dogmas, and want of regard for any interests other than party. We say unsound dogmas, and would simply ask their Lordships whether they are prepared to defend the proposition that the Parochial Schools would be one whit deteriorated by the occasional appointment of Free Church teachers ? and Honourable Members of the Lower House, whether tests are such bugbears that a Bill throwing open the Parish Schools to all Protestants would be unworthy of their support, simply because it afforded a harmless and, as some think, a useful appliance for
a not merely excluding those who no one denies should be excluded, but for expelling any teachers who might, (and this is not impossible,) lapse into unorthodoxy subsequent to their appointment? If our questions should receive the answers we expect, then we would demand, why was not a middle ground between two indefensible extremes sought and found ?
Truth to say, however, the Commons' behaviour is of a piece with their treatment of all the other educational questions which have been submitted to their consideration. Party spirit and senseless bigotry have run high, to the exclusion of regard for principle, or for the common weal. Our space does not admit of our making good these charges in the present number, but next month we shall return to the subject, and in reviewing “the Spirit of the Debates on Education," hope to furnish a clue to the unravelling of the absence of progress, and to point the moral these debates may teach.
END OF VOL.
(Concluded from page 148.) In resuming our pen for the purpose of engrossing a few additional observations and reflective jottings on the “character and genius” of our immortal bard, we must in candour warn our readers, that our cogitations are about as rambling and desultory as the fanciful god of vagueness himself could possibly desire. Why should this be so you may very reasonably, perhaps indignantly ask. We can only reply that the “material,” such as it is, has increased itself to such voluminous bulk in our hands—and withal we would have you to believe, has evolved itself in such a perfectly connected form, that anything like an attempt at curtailment—which our space tyrannically compels—will infallibly disjoint the narrative, and mar the merit of the paper as a whole. One thing in particular we must premise and advert to. It was in our main plan to quote largely from that indisputably honest—it is abundantly self-castigating-and manly "confession” of the poet himself; we mean that noble “ fragment of autibiography” communicated in a letter to the celebrated Dr Moore; which, supplemented with his brother Gilbert's letter to Dr Currie, was to have furnished the great back-bone of our subject, from which our observations and reflections were to have diverged. This we may have an opportunity of doing more fully in our new and enlarged form. Meanwhile, we can only hint in the ear of our readers, that they can easily supply this desiderated “ back-bone” for themselves — and us—by reading and bearing in their memory what we have indicated. This preliminary ended, then, we resume.
If the leading-out of the young mind to thoughtful, self-relying effort, under a modest consciousness of its own powers—and that through the influence of good example and wise precept, coupled with the watchful observance and anxious care to superinduce useful and elevating habits—if such a leading-out be, as we affirm it is, alone entitled to the distinctive claim of imparting a truly sound and liberal education—then we say that ROBERT BURNs was essentially and potentially well-educated. Both the father and the tutor eminently did their duty in this respect. The fireside prelections of the