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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


146 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. the present system unavoidably produces.-To the various duties of my office I shall pay unremitting attention. And trusting in a conscious desire to discharge my duty in an upright manner ; trusting to the support of those around me ; and trusting, above all, in the direction and support of that Power which has been so fervently invoked, I now take that seat, to which I have been so honourably appointed, and so honourably introduced.’ “Mr. Sheriff Clerk’ then addressed the Judge of Police in a very sensible and appropriate speech, pointing out the arduous duties of his office (which his experience as Chief Magistrate of the county for twelve years enabled him with propriety to do), and expressing his satisfaction that it was filled by a gentleman of so much ability and integrity. “ The Judge of Police then returned thanks to the Commissioners, particularly to Sir William Forbes, by whose unremitting attention this institution, calculated to promote virtue and happiness, has been fostered, from the first proposal of the plan, and brought at last to its present honourable state of maturity. ‘‘ The different officers were then sworn in by the Judge of Police, -rho gave them a very proper exhortation respecting the duties of their office. “The Court of Police waa accordingly opened the same day (July 15) at the Office of Police, in Riddell’s Close, Lawnmarket, where apartments have been commodiously fitted up for the purpose.” Whether from a too exalted idea entertained of the trust reposed in him, or from a dislike on the part of the public to the new system of police-or probably from a combination of both-certain it is “ Judge Tait ” was not among the most popular of the civic rulers. Hence the satire of the artist-“An Eminent Judge of-broom-besoms ! ” Mr. Tait was, notwithst,anding, a man of talent, as well as of considerable literary attainments ;’ and his speech above quoted is highly creditable to him. “I am bound,” is his declaration, “ by the sacred oath which I have taken, to discharge my duty as my conscience dictates; and that conscience tells me that I am not to look to persons but to crimes.” That this was not mere idle declamation on the part of Mr. Tait very speedily appeared by his decisions. On the 13th of August following, two gentlemen having been brought before him, charged with giving and accepting a challenge -which they admitted-he caused them to be fined, and bound over in heavy penalties to keep the peace. At the same time, while he delivered his sentiments, in a forcible manner, on “ challenging and duelling, as crimes against the laws of the land,” he expressed his determination strictly to enforce the authority with which he was invested, for the peace of society :-“ Hereafter, if persons are brought before me, and convicted of having given or accepted a challenge, I shall consider it my duty to send such persons to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, for a certain period by way of punishment, besides binding them over to keep the peace ; and if persons are brought before me, and convicted of having fought a duel, I shall equally consider it my duty to send them to Bridewell. Because all respect of persons must be attached to their strict observance of the laws of their country ; and those who bid defiance to the laws, in whatever situation they may otherwise be placed, are equal in that respect, and ought equally to feel the force of those laws which they contemn.” That the situation to which Mr. Tait had been appointed was no sinecure, Aftenvards one of the Barons of Exchequer. e In his early years he had cultivated the Muses. He published. two or three thin quarto volumes of poetry. Amongst his poems is an elegy on Goldsmith.
Volume 9 Page 195
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