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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


Parlirmcnt House.] LORDS MONBODDO, KAMES, AND HAILES 171 ministration of certain medicines ; but the famer went beyond these, and mixed in it a considerable quantity of treacle. As the horse died next morning, Lord Monboddo raised a prosecution for its value, and pleaded his own cause at the Bar. He lost the case, and was so enraged against his brother judges that he never afterwards sat with them on the Bench, but underneath, among the clerks. This case was both a remarkable and illl amusing one, from the mass of Roman law quoted on the occasion. Though hated and despised by his brethren for his oddities, Lord Monboddo was one of the most learned and upright judges of his time. ?His philosophy,? says Sir Walter Scott, ?as is well known, was of a fanciful and somewhat fantastic character ; but his learning was deep, and he possessed a singular power of eloquence, which re- ,,mhded the hearer of the os ro&ndum of the Grove or Academe. Enthusiastically partial to classical habits, his entertainments were always given in the evening, when there was a circulation of excellent Bordeaux, in flasks garlanded with roses, which were also strewed on the table, after the manner Qf Horace.? The best society in Edinburgh was always ?ta be found at his house, St John?s Street, Canongate. His youngest daughter, a lady of amiable disposition and of surpassing beauty, which Burns panegyrised, is praised in one of the papers of the Mirror as, rejecting the most flattering and advantageous opportunities of Settlement in marriage, that she might amuse her father?s loneliness and nurse his old age. He was the earliest patron of one of the best scholars of his time, Professor John Hunter, who was for many years his secretary, and wrote the first and best volume of his lordship?s ? Treatise on the Origin of Languages.? When Lord Monboddo travelled to London he? always did so on hoeeback. On his last journey thither he ?got no farther than Dunbar. His nephew inquiring the Teason of this, ?.?Oh, George,? said he, ? I find I am noo aughty-four,? The manners of Lord Monboddo were as?odd as his personal appearance. He has been described as looking ?more like an .old stuffed monkey dressed in judge?s robes than anything else;? and so convinced is he said to have been of his fantastic theory of human tails that, when a child was born in his house he would watch at the chamber door, in order to see it in its first state, as he had an idea that midwives cut the tails off! He never recoveied the shock of his beautiful in 1790. He kept her portrait covered with black cloth; at this he would often look sadly, without lifting it, and then turn to his volume of Herodotus. He died in 1799. The other eccentric we have referred to was Henry Home, Lord Kames, who was equally distinguished for his literary abilities, his metaphysical subtlety, and wonderful powers of conversation j yet he was strangely accustomed to apply towards his intimates a coarse term which he invariably used, and this peculiarity is well noted by Sir Walter Scott in ?Redgauntlet.? He was raised to the Bench in 1752, and afterwards lived in New Street, in a house then ranking as one of the first in the city, The catalogue of his printed works is a very long one. On retiring from the Bench he took a public farewell of. his brother judges. After a solemn and pathetic speech, and shaking hands all round, as he was quitting the Court, he turned round, and exclaimed, in his familiar manner, ?Fare ye a? weel, ye auld -? here using his customary expression. A day or two b.efore his death he told Dr. Cullen that he earnestly wished to be away,?as he was exceedingly curious to learn the manners of another world ; adding, ? Doctor, as I never could be idle in this world, I shall gladly perform any task that may be imposed upon me in the next? He died in December, 1782, in his 87th year. Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, the annalist of Scotland, was raised to the Bench in 1766. He had studied law at Utrecht, and was distinguished for his strict integrity, unwearied diiigence, and dignity of manner, but he was more conspicuous as a scholar and author than as a senator. His researches were chiefly directed t9 the history and antiquities of his native country; and his literary labours extended over a period of close on forty years. .4t his death, in 1792, an able funeral sermon was preached by the well-known b r . Alexander Carlyle of Inveresk; and, as no will could be found, the heir-male was about to take possession of his estates, to the exclusion of his daughter, but some months after, when she was about to give up Ne% Hailes, and quit the house in New Street, one was found behind a windowshutter, in the latter place, and it secured her iu the possession of all, till her own death, which took place forty years after. Francis Gardner, Lord Gardenstone, appointed in 1764, was one of those ancient heroes of the Bar, who, after a night of hard drinking, would, without having been in bed, or studying a case,
Volume 1 Page 171
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