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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


166 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Parliient House. plead in any court in Scotland, and in all Scottish appeals before the House of Lords-is a body, of course, inseparably connected, as yet, with the old Parliament House. From among that body the judges of the supreme courts and sheriffs of the various counties are selected. It is the most distinguished corporate body in Scotland, and of old, especially, was composed of the representatives alike of the landed aristocracy, the rank and intellect of Scotland ; and for more than three centuries the dignity of the Scottish bench and bar has been maintained by a succession of distinguished men, illustrious, not only in their own peculiar department of legal knowledge, but in most branches of literature and science ; and it has produced some men whose worksare read and whose influence is felt wherever the language of Great Britain is known. The whole internal economy of the legal bodies, and of the courts of law, is governed by the Acts wildest imagery, have foreseen the Edinburgh and the Scotland of to-day ! Till so lately as 1779 the Parliament House, retained the divisions, furnishing, and-save the royal portraits-other features, which it had borne in the days when Scotland had a national legislature. Since that time the associations of this hall-the Westminster Hall of Edinburgh-are only such as relate to men eminent in the College of Justice, for learning or great legal lore, among whom we may note Duncan Forbes, Lords Monboddo and Kames, Hume, Erskine, and Mackenzie, and, indeed, nearly all the men of note in past Scottish literature. ?? Our own generation has witnessed there Cockbum, Brougham, Horner, Jeffrey, and Scott, sharing in the grave offices of the court, or takinga part in the broad humour and wit for which the members of ? the Faculty ? are so celebrated ; and still the visitor to ,this learned and literary lounge cannot fail to be gratified in a high degree, while watching the different groups who gather in the Hall, and noting the lines of thought or humour, and the infinite variety of physiognomy for which the wigged and gowned loiterers of the Law Courts are peculiarly famed.? consequence of a difikrence having arisen between the Facultyand the Lords of Session, banished the whole of the former twelve miles from Edinburgh. The subject in dispute was whether any appeal lay from the Court of Session to the Parliament. It is obvious that in this contest between the bench and the bar, law and the practice of the court,. independent of expediency, could alone be con-- sidered, and the Faculty remained banished until the unlimited supremacy of the Court should be acknowledged; but what would those sturdy advocates of the seventeenth century have thought of appeals to a Parliament sitting at Westminster ? In 1702 the Faculty became again embroiled. Upon the accession of Queen Anne a new Parliament was not summoned, that which sat during the reign of her predecessor being reassembled. The Duke of Hamilton and seventy-nine members protested against this as being illegal, and withdrew from the House. The Faculty of Advocates passed - The Hall is now open from where the throne stood to the great south window. Once it was divided into two portions-the southern separated from the rest by a screen, accommodated the Court of Session ; the northern, comprising a subsection used for the Sheriff Court, was chiefly a kind of lobby, and was degraded by a set of little booths,. occupied as taverns, booksellers? shops, and toy-- shops, like those in the Krames. Among others, .Creech had a stall ; and such was once the conditioe of Westminster Hall. Spottiswoode of that ilk, who published a work on ?Forms of Process,? in I 7 I 8, records that there were then ? two keepers of the session-house, who had small salaries to de the menial offices there, and that no small part of their annual perquisites came from the kramrrs in the outer hall.? The great Hall is now used as a promenade and waiting-room by the advocates and other practitioners connected with the supreme courts, and during the sitting of these presents a very animated scene ; and there George IV. was received in kingly state at a grand banquet, on his visit to the city in 1822.
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Parliament House.] THE COLLEGE OF JUSTICE. - a vote among themselves in favour of that protest, declaring it to be founded on the laws of the realm, for which they were prosecuted before Parliament, and sharply reprimanded, a circumstance which gave great offence to the nation.. The affairs ot the Faculty are managed by a Dean, or President, a Treasurer, Clerk, and selected Council ; and, besides the usual branches of a liberal education, those who are admitted .as advocates must have gone through a regular course of civil and Scottish law. Connected with the Court of Session is the Society of Clerks, or Writers to the Royal Signet, whose business it is to subscribe the writs that pass under that signet in Scotland, and practise as attorneys before the Courts of Session, Justiciary, and the Jury Court The office of Keeper of the Signet is a lucrative one, but is performed by a deputy. The qualifications for admission to this body are an apprenticeship for five years with one of the members, after two years? attendance at the University, and on a course of lectures on conveyancing given by a lecturer appointed by the Society, and also on the Scottish law class in the University. Besides these Writers to the Signet, who enjoy the right of conducting exclusively certain branches .of legal procedure, there is another, but? inferior, society of practitioners, who act as attorneys before the various Courts, in which they were of long standing, but were only incorporated in 1797, under the title of Solicitors before the Supreme Courts, The Judges of the Courts of Session and Justiciary, with members of these before-mentioned corporate bodies, and the officers of Court, form the College of Justice instituted by James V., and of which the Judges of the Court of Session enjoy the title of Senators. The halls for the administration of justice immediately adjoin the Parliament House. The Court af Session is divided into what are nanied the Outer and Inner Houses. The former consists of five judges, or Lords Ordinary, occupying separate Courts, where cases are heard for the first time; tbe latter comprises two Courts, technically known .as the First and Second Divisions. Four Judges sit in each of these, and it is before them that litigants, if dissatisfied with the Outer House decision, may bring their cases for final judgment, unless .afterwards they indulge in the expensive luxury of appealing to the House of Lords. The Courts of the Lords Ordinary enter from the corridor at the south end of the great hall, and Those of the Inner House from a long lobby on the east side of it. Although the .College of Justice was instituted by James V., and held its first sederunt in the old Tolbooth on the 27th of May, 1532, it was first projected by his uncle, the Regent- Duke of Albany. The Court originally consisted of the Lord Chancellor, the Lord President, fourteen Lords Ordinary, or Senators (one-half clergy and one-half laity), and afterwards an indefinite number of supernumerary judges, designated Extraordinary Lords. The annual expenses of this Court were defrayed from the revenues of the clergy, who bitterly, but vainly, remonstrated against this taxation. It may not be uninteresting to give here the names of the first members of the Supreme Judicature :- Alexander, Abbot of Cambuskenneth, Lord President ; Richard Bothwell, Rector of Askirk (whose father was Provost .of Edinburgh in the time of James 111,); John Dingwall, Provost of the Trinity Church; Henry White, Dean of Brechin ; William Gibson, Dean of Restalrig ; Thomas Hay, Dean of Dunbar; Robert Reid, Abbot of Kinloss ; George Kerr, Provost of Dunglass ; Sir William Scott of Balwearie ; Sir John Campbell of Lundie ; Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss; Sir Adam Otterburne of Auldhame ; Nicolas Crawford. of Oxengangs ; Sir Francis Bothwell (who was provost of the city in 1535); and James Lawson of the Highriggs. The memoirs which have been preserved of the administration of justice by the Court of Session in the olden time are not much to its honour. The arbitrary nature of it is referred to by Buchanan, and in the time of James VI. we find the Lord Chancellor, Sir Alexander Seaton (Lord Fyvie in 1598), superintending the lawsuits of a friend, and instructing him in the mode and manner in which they should be conducted. But Scott of Scotstarvit gives us a sorry account of this peer, who owed his preferment to Anne of Denmark. The strongest proof of the corrupt nature of the Court is given us by the -4ct passed by the sixth parliament of. James VI., in 1579, by which the Lords were prohibited, ? No uther be thamselves, or be their wives, or servantes, to take in ony times cumming, bud, bribe, gudes, or geir, fra quhat-sum-ever person or persones presently havand, or that hereafter sal1 happen to have ony actions or causes persewed before them,? under pain of confiscation (Glendoick?s Acts, fol.). The necessity for this law plainly evinws that the secret acceptance of bribes must have been common among the judges of the time; while, in other instances, the warlike spirit of the people paralysed the powers of the Court. When a noble, or chief of rank, was summoned tu
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