Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


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.”
Volume 8 Page 550
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print