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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 89 XO. ccrr. SIR ILAY CAMPBELL, BART., LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF SESSION. THOSEw ho recollect the late SIR ILAYCA MPBELLw ill at once recognise an excellent likeness in this etching. He is represented as proceeding to the Parliament House, a partial view of which, prior to the late extensive alterations, is afforded in the background. It was then the custom of the senators to walk to Court in the mornings with nicely powdered wigs, and a small cocked hat in their hands. Mr. Campbell was the eldest son of Archibald Campbell, Esq., of Succoth, W.S.;’ his mother, Helen Wallace, was the daughter and representative of Wallace of Ellerslie. He was born at Edinburgh in 1734, and admitted to the bar in 1757. He early acquired extensive practice, and was one of the counsel for the defender in the great Douglas Cause. He entered warmly into the spirit of this important contest, which for a time engossed the whole of public attention. As an instance of his enthusiasm, it may be mentioned, that immediately after the decision in the House of Lords, he posted without delay to Edinburgh, where, arriving before the despatch, he was the first to announce the intelligence to the assembled crowds on the streets. At the Cross the young lawyer took off his hat, and waving it in the air, exclaimed-“ Douglas for ever !”’ He was responded to by a joyous shout from the assembled multitude, who, unyoking the horses from his carriage, drew him in triumph to his house in James’s Court.a During the long period Mr. Campbell remained at the bar, he enjoyed a continued increase of business ; and there was almost no case of any importance in which he was not engaged or consulted. His written pleadings are remarkable for their excellence; “many of them are perfect modeIs of perspicuity, force, and elegance.” In 1783 he was appointed Solicitor-General; in 1784, Lord Advocate; and the same year was returned Member of Parliament for the Glasgow district of The following notice of this gentleman’s demise occum in the Edinburgh Magazine for 1790 :- “Mr. Archibald Campbell of Snccoth, father to the Lord President, and the oldest Clerk to His Majesty’s Signet, being admitted in 1728.” g The popular feeling waa strong in favour of the ultimately successful claimant, about whose case there was a eufficient degree of romance to create extreme interest. At the present date, when the whole facta and circumstances are fairly weighed, it may be doubted whether the original decision ought to have been reversed. His father, who then held the situation of one of the Principal Clerks of Session, resided in James’s Court. VOL. 11. N His father was a writer in Edinburgh.
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90 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. burghs. The University of that city at the same time conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws. He also held for some time the office of Lord Rector. In politics he was warmly attached to the administration of Pitt, and proved himself an active and efficient representative. On ‘the death of Sir Thomas Miller he was promoted to the Presidentship of the Court of Session;’ and placed, in 1794, at the head of the commission of Oyer and Terminer, issued for the trial of those accused of high treason. In these responsible departments he acquitted himself in a manner which commanded the respect of all parties ; and the soundness of his recorded opinions on the bench is attested by the fact that they are still held in high estimation among the profession. While yet in the possession of all his faculties, he resigned the presidency in 1 The following account of his induction to this high office is not without interest, especially the address of his lordship :- “Nov. 13, 1789.-Yesterday the Court of Session met for the despatch of business, when, on account of the death of Sir Thomas Miller, late Lord President, Lord Hailea was elected to 611 the chair ; upon which his lordship addressed the Court in the following words :- ‘ I ‘MY LORDS,-~ am called upon to intimate officially to your lordships, that Sir Thomas Miller, the President of this Court, is dead. ‘f 6 Long did I know him, and well ; and I could descant largely in his commendation. 4‘ 6 But, sitting where I now do, I am not at liberty to speak aught which might have the appearance of the partialities of private friendship. ‘6 6 This much, however, I must be allowed to say-for in this your lordship8 will add your united testiniony to mine-that, in the discharge of his duty, he was assiduous and patient; that he treated the bench with becoming respect, and the gentlemen at the bar with that civility which is their due. 6‘ 6 His Majesty, I hope, provides a fit successor to him whom we have lost-one who, by his assiduity and patience, by respect to the bench and civility to the bar, will imitate so worthy an example. ‘6 May he enjoy health of body and mind, and wheu the nation shall be deprived of his services, may he, like President Miller, leave not one enerny behind him ! ’ After this, the King’s letter, appointing Ilay Campbell, Esq., to be Lord President of the Court of Session, was read, the Judges standing uncovered. Mr. Campbell way then appointed to undergo the usual trials, and, as Lord Probationer, went to the Outer-Kouse with Lord Benderland, the Ordinary, where a cause was pled, which Mr. Campbell reported to the Court this day. “On Saturday the llth, Ilay Camphell, Esq., Lord Probationer, after the usual trials were gone through, having taken the oaths, was called to the chair as Lord President ; upon which he addressed the Court in the following words :- “ ‘ MY LoRDs,-Before we proceed to business, it may be expected that I should say a few words. -No one can doubt that he who has the honour of being placed in this chair, must feel the importance of his situation, and of course the obligation which he indupensahly comes under, to employ whatever exertions he may be capable of, in a faithful and couscientious discharge of his duty. I have every motive to bestow unremitting attention. The fame of my immediate predecessors in ofice, whom we all knew, and who have passed much too quickly in succession before us, will long survive them, and cannot fail to be an incitement to anyone who Aucceeda to the place which they once filled. If I can attain to any portion of merit similar to theirs, my wishes will be so far satisfied. If I prove deficient, the puhlic has a good security in the tried abilities and known experience of those who are to be my assistants, that no consequence mateiially bad can ensue. “ ‘Although the department to which I am now called is new to me, I cannot plead youth or inexperience as a member of the Court. It is now almost thirty-three yeam since my attendance at that bar, aa an advocate, commenced. During so long a period of time, and while extensively engaged in practice, I must have acquired aome knowledge of the profession to which I belonged, and some acquaintance with the Court, and with the individuals who compose it. If I might be allowed to say one word for them, and particularly for my hrethren of a learned and respectable Society which I have just left, it would be this,-That no point cau be of more essential importance to them, no object to which
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