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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


364 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. CXLVII. LORD HAILES, ONE OF THE JUDGES OF THE COURT OF SESSION, SIRD AVIDD ALRYMPLLEO, RDH AILES, was born at Edinburgh in 1726. He was descended from the family of Stair ; his grandfather, who was Lord Advocate for Scotland during the reign of George I., being the youngest son of the first Viscount Stair. His father, who held the office of auditor in the Court of Exchequer, was Sir James Dalrymple, Bart. of Hailes, and his mother, Lady Christian Hamilton, a daughter of Thomas, sixth Earl of Haddington. Young Dalrymple entered upon his studies at Eton, where he acquired a considerable knowledge of the classics, and was distinguished by a uniform propriety and rectitude of conduct. He next revisited his native city, and attended the University. From thence he repaired to Utrecht, where he studied civil law ; and he finally returned to Edinburgh in 1746. It is not certain whether he originally contemplated following the law as a profession-his genius having manifested a decided bias for the prosecution of general literature, and an ardent predilection for antiquarian inquiry. The death of his father, however, who left his estate heavily encumbered, and a large family to provide for, speedily determined Sir David in his choice ; and he became a member of the Faculty of Advocates in 1748. His success at the bar was by no means so decisive as those who knew the extent of his acquirements either could have wished or expected. A peculiar diffidence of manner-a scrupulously nice estimate of propriety-and a too rigid attention to formality, tended materially to limit his practice. His pleadings were always distinguished by a comprehensive view of the subject ; yet, being addressed more to the understanding than the feelings, they frequently fell short of producing the effect accomplished by the more flowery, impassioned, and not unfrequently unfair appeals of even his less talented contemporaries. Notwithstanding this defect-if defect it may be called-Sir David practised at the bar with much reputation for eighteen years ; and was elevated to the bench on the death of Lord Nisbet, in 1766, when he assumed the title of Lord Hailes. As a judge, he was distinguished for his critical acumenunwearied diligence-unswerving integrhy-and a chaste and concise manner of expression, which, although not the most useful qualification in a pleader, adds peculiar dignity to the bearing of a judge, It has been remarked, however, that the 6ame attention to minutis which adhered to him while at the bar, continued to mar, in some degree, his usefulness ofi the bench, and detracted from that veneration which his other judicial excellences would have commanded. .
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