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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 169 distinguished by high moral courage, that of the prisoners implicated in these transactions, it cannot be denied, was marked by equal firmness. During the trial of Skirving, this person conceiving Braxfield was endeavouring by his gestures to intimidate him, boldly addressed him thus :-“ It is altogether unavailing for your lordship to menace me; for I have long learned to fear not the face af man.” As an instance of his great nerve, it may be mentioned that Lord Braxfield, after the trials were over, which was generally about midnight, always walked home to his house in George Square alone and unprotected. He was in the habit, too, of speaking his mind on the conduct of the Radicals of those days in the most open and fearless manner, when almost every other person wm afraid to open their lips, and used frequently to say, in his own blunt manner, ‘‘ They would a’ be muckle the better 0’ being hanged f ” When his lordship paid his addresses to his second wife, the courtship was carried on in the following characteristic manner. Instead of going about the bush, his lordship, without any preliminary overtures, deliberately called upon the lady, “and popped the question ” in words to this effect :-“Lissy, I am looking out for a wife, and I thought you just the person that would suit me. Let me have your answer, aff or on, the morn, and nae mair about it !” The lady, who understood his humour, returned a favourable answer next day, and the marriage was solemnised without loss of time. Lord Braxfield was a person of robust frame-of a warm or rather hasty temper-and, to “ ears polite,” might not have been considered very courteous in his manner. “ Notwithstanding, he possessed a benevolence of heart,” says a contemporary, ‘‘ which made him highly susceptible of friendship, and the company was always lively and happy of which he was a member.” His lordship was among the last of our judges who rigidly adhered to the broad Scotch dialect, ‘‘ Hae ye ony counsel, man P” said he to Maurice Margarot, when placed at the bar. “ No.”-“ Do you want to hae ony appointit P” continued the judge. ‘‘ No,” replied Margarot, “ I only want an interpreter to make me understand what your lordship says !” Of Lord Braxfield and his contempofaries there are innumerable anecdotes. When that well-known bacchanalian, Lord Newton, was an advocate, he happened one morning to be pleading before Braxfield, after a night of hard drinking. It so occurred that the opposing counsel, although a more refined devotee of the jolly god, was in no better condition. Lord Braxfield observing how matters stood on both &des of the question, addressed the counsel in his usual unceremonious manner-“ Gentlemen,” said he, “ ye may just pack up your papers and gang hame ; the tane 0’ ye’s rifting punch, and the ither’s belching claret-and there’ll be nae gude got out 0’ ye the day !” Being one day at an entertainment given by Lord Douglas to a few of his neighbours in the old Castle of Douglas, port was the only description of wine produced after dinner. The Lord Justice-clerk, with his usual frankness, demanded of his host if “ there was nae claret in the Castle !’-“ I believe there . z
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170 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. is," said Lord Douglas, " but my butler teIls me it is not good."-" Let's pree't," said Braxfield, in his favourite dialect. A bottle of the claret having been instantly produced and circulated, all present were unanimous in pronouncing it excellent. '' I propose," said the facetious old judge, addressing himself to Dr. M'Cubbin, the parish clergyman, who was present, "as a fama clanosa has gone forth against this wine, that you absolve it."--" I know," replied the Doctor, at once perceiving the allusion to Church-court phraseology, " that you are a very good judge in cases of civil and criminal law ; but I see you do not understand the laws of the Church. We Eever absolve till after three several appearances!" Nobody could relish better than Lord Braxfield the wit or the condition of absolution. After a laborious and very useful life, Lord Braxfield died on the 30th of May 1799, in the 78th year of his age. He was twice married. By his first wife, Miss Mary Agnew, niece of the late Sir Andrew Agnew, he had two sons and two daughters. By his second wife, Miss Elizabeth Ord, daughter of the late Lord Chief-Baron Ord, he had no children. His eldest son, Robert Dundas M'Queen, inherited the estate of Braxfield, and married Lady Lilias Montgomery, daughter of the late Earl of Eglinton. The second entered the army, and was latterly a Captain in the 18th Regiment of Foot. The eldest daughter, Mary, was married to William Honyman, Esq. of Graemsay, afterwarda elevated to the bench by the title of Lord Annandale, and created a Baronet in 1804. The second, Catherine, was married to John Macdonald, Esq. of Clanronald. No. LXXII. GEORGE PRATT (THE TOWN-CRIER). THIS person was Town-Crier of Edinburgh about the pear 1784, and made himself remarkable for the manner of his address in discharging the duties of his office. This singularity consisted in an extremely pompous delivery, which proceeded from the very high opinion he entertained of the importance and dignity of his situation as a public officer. Deeply imbued with this sentiment, George gave forth his intimations to the inhabitants-it might be to announce the arrival of a fresh supply of skate-with an air and manner at once extremely imposing and edifying. It is painful to add, however, that he utterly failed in impressing the boys of the town with the same respect for his person and his office that he entertained himself. So far from this, the irreverent young rogues took every opportunity of annoying him. They laughed at his dignity, and persecuted him with the cry of " Quack, quack !"-a monosyllable which was particularly offensive to his ears. This cry @as sometimes varied into " Swallow's nest, " a phrase which he also abominated, as it made an allusion to a personal deformity. Thia was a large excrescence, or wen, that grew beneath his chin. .
Volume 8 Page 240
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