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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


394 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. of parties married in England, was some years since handed about amongst the gentlemen of the long robe. It is a fair travesty of his style :- ‘I I am decidedly omhe opinion of Lord Meadowbank,’ and that the Commissaries were egregiously wrong. Will any man tell me that a stranger, without a domicile here, is to be refused justice for any guilt or crime done by him 0 Is a man who marries in England, and commits adultery in Scotland, to be out of the reach of the Scots law against adultery ? Such a man may turn his wife out of doors too-may even go farther against her and her children-and all with impunity, upon the feigned supremacy of the Zex loci contractus. In short, if a man comes to Scotland sine animo remanendi, and cum animo peccandi steals my horse, are we first to inquire into his domicile, and the laws of his country respecting theft ? Now, I am clearly of opinion that he ought to be hanged upon our own law ; and a decree of divorce, a vinculo matrimonii, ought equally to follow the commission of adultery here. “ But, secondly, should any of the English divorced parties be averse to our consistorial decree, he may, on his return to England, apply to a court of law, by recapitulating M ~ dTec ision, and get it altered to one a mensa et thoro; but when no such application has been made, the parties may truly marry without the risk of bigamy, or the insecurity of a new family, unless the English courts, of which I dinna know much, are senseless and absurd. Indeed, their decision a mensa et thoro is, like our Jack and the Bean, an absurd nothing, till Parliament, and 8 huge expense, commissary it (I may say) into our form, We must follow our own laws ; and should our southerns deem them improper, and have no remedy, let them procure an Act of Parliament, declaring that any person feeling hurt by the Scots decree may, within six weeks after his arrival in England, apply to a court of law there, and get the Scottish decree altered into an English one ; and should no application during that time be made, the party or parties may marry at pleasure, and their offspring be protected by law. If England requires much time and money to procure a parliamentary divorce, why should not our Scottish ‘good cheer and good cheap ca’ mony customers,’ as our proverb says ?” Of Lord Hermand‘s rather eccentric warmth on the bench, there are many anecdotes. The well-known but highly characteristic one of “ Keep him out,” and which has been retailed to the public in a variety of shapes, occurred in the Justiciary Court of Glasgow. The Court had been interrupted by a noise which annoyed him very much. “What is that noise 1” cried his lordship to one of the officers of the Court. “It’s a man, my lord.” “What does he want I” “ He wants in, my lord.” “Keep hirn out.’’ The man, it would appear, however, had got in: for in a short time the noise was renewed, when his lordship again demanded--“ What’s that noise there 2’’ ‘‘ It’s the same man, my lord.” “ What does he want now 2” “ Then keep hirn in- I say, keep him in!’” I‘ He wants out, my lord.” His lordship did not usually agree with his brother judge ; and many curious stories of his dislike to Lord Meadowbank used to be cumnt in the Parliament House. On another occasion, when presiding in a criminal court in the north, and the business of the trial, in which life and death were at stake, was proceeding with that solemnity which distinguishes our Justiciary Courts, a wag (for there are some characten who must have their joke, however solemn the occasion) entered the Court, and set a musical snuff-box a-playing Jack’s Alive upon one of the benches. In the silence of conducting the inquiry, the music struck the earn of the audience, and particularly the venerable judge, whose auricular organ was to the last most admirably acute ; and a pause to the business ww the immediate consequence. He stared for an instant on hearing a sound so unusual in a Court of Justice, and, with a frantic demeanour exclaimed, “Macer, what, in in the name of God, is that P” The officer looked around him in vain to answer the inquiry, when the wag exclaimed, “ It’s Jack’s Alive, my lord.” “Dead or alive, put him out this moment.” “We canna gmp him, my lord.” “If he has the art of hell, let every man assist to arraign him before me, that I may commit him for this outrage and contempt.” Every one endeavoured to discover the author of the annoyance, but he had put the check upon the box, when the sound for a
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 395 In private life, and especially at the convivial board, Lord Hermand was “ The prince of goad fellows and king of old men.” He possessed a rich store of amusing stories, and a vein of humour peculiar to himself, which never failed to render his company entertaining and much courted, especially by the junior members of the profession. His personal appearance was no less striking, particularly in his latter years. Age had rendered his features more attenuated ; but the vivacity of his countenance, and the expression of his powerful grey eyes, defied the insidious hand of time. His dress also partook of the peculiarities of his character ; and, on the streets of Edinburgh, it would have puzzled a stranger to decide whether the lawyer or farmer most predominated in his appearance. His deep “ rig-and-fur,” black-andwhite- striped woollen stockings, and stout shoes, at once denoted that he had other avocations than those of the Parliament House. Like most of the old lawyers, he was an enthusiastic agriculturist, and always spent his vacations among his fields at Hermand, which he improved with much skill and at considerable expense.‘ We have heard several anecdotes illustrative of his lordship’s rustic habits during the vacation. He had a large Newfoundland dog, named Dobhin, which used to accompany him on all his excursions-even to the church on Sundays. There the sagacious animal, seated beside his master, with his immense paws placed on the book-board, would rest his head as calmly and doucely as any sleepy farmer in the congregation. So much did this church-going propensity grow upon the animal, that, in the absence of his master, he regularly went himself; and what was still more extraordinary, if there happened to be no sermon in the parish church, he was liberal enough to attend the dissenting meeting-house. Lord Hermand generally walked with a cane in his hand, to which he had a kind of bill-hook affixed, for the purpose of switching down any obnoxious weed he might find in his rambles. One Sunday, as he and Dolphin were proceeding as usual to West Calder, his lordship found so many weeds to cut down on his way through the policies, that by the time he emerged from the avenue he found the people returning from church. “ Dear me ! is’t a’ ower time ceased, and the macer informed his lordship that the peixon had escaped, The Judge was indignant at this ; but not being able to make a better of it, the trial proceeded, when, in about halfau- hour, sounds of music again caught the ears of the Court. “ Is he there again ?” exclaimed his lordship “ By all that’s sacred, he ehall not escape me this time ; fence, bolt, bar the doors of the Court j and, at your peril, let a man, living or dead, escape.” All was now bustle, uproar, and confusion ; but the search was equally vain as before. His lordship, who had lived not long after the days of witchcraft, began to imagine that the sound was something more than earthly, and exclaimed, “This is a deceptio aud; it is absolute delusion, necromancy, phantasmagoria ;” and to the hour of hiu death, nwer understood what had occasioned the annoyance that day to the Court. His lordship was a keen adherent of the Pitt administration. When the “talents” were ejected, the news reached him on his way to the Parliament House ; and, whilst going along the Mound, which at the time had its usual array of caravans, containing wild beasts, he, totally forgetful of where he was, exclaimed aloud-“ They are o u b b y the L-d, they are all out, every mother’s son of them.” A lady who was passing at the time, thinking these ejaculations applicable to the wild beasts, to his utter amazement, seized him in her arms, screaming oud“Good God, we shall then be all devoured.”
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