Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


,314 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. and an Advocate-depute. In 1789 he was appointed Solicitor-General for Scotland; and in 1801 was unanimously elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.' No. CXXVIII. ROBERT BLAIR, ESQ., SOLICITOR-GENERAL THIS Print of MR. BLAIR was done in 1799, and represents him nearly in a similar position to the former. It seems to have been executed with the view of completing a series of Portraits of those gentlemen who filled the bench at the close of last century. On the change of ministry which took place in 1806, Mr. Blair was removed from the solicitorship ; on which event he received a polite apology from the new minister, stating the necessity he was under of promoting his own party. This communication-no doubt dictated by good feeling-was perfectly unnecessary, in so far as the feelings of the ex-solicitor were concerned. Then, as now, a change in the crown officers invariably succeeded a change in the cabinet. The friends of either party were therefore prepared to rise or fall as the scale preponderated. Far from being out of temper with this turn of the political wheel, Mr. Blair showed his magnanimity by proffering to his successor-John Clerk, afterwards Lord Eldin-the use of his gown, until the latter should get one prepared for himself. On the return of his friends to power next year, Mr. Blair was offered the restoration of his former honour ; but he declined not only this, but also the higher office of Lord Advocate. In 1808, on the resignation of Sir Ilay Campbell, he was raised to the Presidency of the College of Justice-a choice which gave satisfaction to all parties. During the short period that his lordship discharged the duties of this high trust, his conduct as a judge realised the expectations formed from a knowledge of his abilities at the bar. In his character were not only blended those native qualities of mind which, aided by the acquirements of studyl combine to constitute superior talent, but he brought with him to the bench that " innate love of justice and abhorrence of iniquity, without which, as he himself emphati- , cally declared, when he took the chair of the Court, all other qualities avail nothing, or rather are worse than nothing." ' His election of Dean was without a single dissentient voice, save that of Mr. Wilde, who cried out-"Hav Enkine for ever ! " When the intelligence was communicated to Mr. Blair, his own words were-"Nothing gives me more pleasure than the fact that thove opposed to me in politics were the first to vote in my favour. '
Volume 8 Page 440
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