Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 441
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 315 . In Peter’s Letters to his Kinsfolk the character of the Lord President is thus sketched :-“ It would .appear as if the whole of his clear and commanding intellect had been framed and tempered in such a way as to qualify him peculiarly and expressly for being what the Stagyrite has finely called ‘a living equity’-one of the happiest, and perhaps one of the rarest, of all the combinations of mental powers. By all men of all parties the merits of this great man also were alike acknowledged ; and his memory is at this moment alike held in reverence by them all. Even the keenest of his now surviving political opponents (the late Lord E1din)-himself one of the greatest lawyers that Scotland ever has produced-is said to have contemplated the superior intellect of Blair with a feeling of respectfulness not much akin to the common cast of his disposition. After hearing the President overturn, without an effort, in the course of a few clear and short sentences, a whole mass of ingenious sophistry, which it had cost himself much labour to erect, and which appeared to be regarded as insurmountable by all the rest of his audience, this great barrister is said to have sat for a few seconds ruminating with much bitterness on the discomfiture of his cause, and then to have muttered between his teeth-‘ My man ! God Almighty spared nm pains when he made your &rains/’ Those that have seen Mr. Clerk, and know his peculiarities, appreciate the value of this compliment, and do not think the less of it because of its coarseness.” The Lord President did not long enjoy that dignity which he gave such promise of rendering equally honourable to himself and beneficial to his country, He died suddenly on the 20th May 1811, aged sixty-eight; and it is not a little remarkable, that the very same week terminated the life of his early and steady friend Lord Melville, who, as has been elsewhere mentioned, had come to Ediuburgh to the President’s funeral. The death of these two very eminent men, aa it were by one bIow, waa looked upon as a national calamity. Their early friendship-their dying almost at the same period ‘-and the high and important stations which they had occupied as public men, naturally created a more than ordinary interest on the occasion of their demise. In a Monody: by an anonymous author, who has drawn the characters of Lord Melville and President Blair with tolerable ability, their friendship and death are thus alluded to :- “ Two mighty oaks that, side by aide, For ages towered,the forest’s pride, And nourished in their shade, Sapliig and tree, and waping wood ; On whose broad braat October’s flood, And winter’s war, and whirlwind rude, . Their bded might essayed. ‘ Their houses being next to one another, with only a single wall between the b e d - m q whew the dead bodiaa of each were lying at the same time, made a deep impression on their friends. ’ This volame, published in 4to at 4s., is entitled ‘‘Monody on the Death of the Right Hon. Henry Lord Viscount Melville, and of the Right Hon. Robed Blair of Avontoun, Lord -Preaiient2f the College of Justice.” Edinburgh, 1811.
Volume 8 Page 442
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