Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. by comparing the Beetle to a common Louse-an animal sufficiently vile and abominable for the purpose of defamation-[Shut that door therel-but he adds the epithet Epjptian, and I know . well what he means by that epithet. He means, my Lord, a Louse that has been fattened in the head of a C y p q or Tinker, undisturbed by the comb, and unmolested in the enjoyment of its native filth. He means a Louse ten times larger, and ten times more abominable than those with which your Lordship and I are familiar. The petitioner asks redress for the injury, so atrocious and 80 aggravated ; and, as far as my voice goes, he shall not ask it in vain. It appears to me to be slanderous and calumnious to compare a Diamond Beetle to the filthy and mischievous animal libelled. By an Egyptian Louse, I understand one which has been formed in the head of a native Egyptian-a race of men who, after degenerating for many centuries, have sunk at last into the abyss of depravity, in consequence of having been subjugated for a time by the French. I do not find that Turgot, or Condorcet, or the rest of the economists, ever reckoned the comhing of the head a species’of productive labour ; and I conclude, therefore, that wherever French principles have been propagated, Lice grow to an immoderate size, especially in a warm climate like that of Egypt. I shall only add, that we ought to be sensible of the blessings we enjoy under a free and happy Constitution, where Lice and men live under the restraint of equal laws-the only equality that can exist in a well-regulated state. “ LORD PoLmixixET.-It should be observed, my Lord, that what is called a Beetle is a reptile well known in this country. I have seen mony ane 0’ them in Drumshorliu Muir ; it is a little black beastie, about the size of my thoom nail. The country people ea’ them Clocks ; and, I believe, they ca’ them also Maggy-wi’-the-mony-feet ; but this is not a beast like any Louse that ever I mw ; so that, in my opinion, though the defender may have made a blunder through ignorance, in comparing them, there does not seem to have been any animw injuriundi; therefore I am for refusing the petition, my Lords. There’s more Lice than Beetles in Fife. They ca’ them Beetle-clocks there. What they ca’ a Beetle, is a thing as lang as my arm ; thick at the one end and small at the other. I thought, when I read the petition, that the Beetle or Bittle had been the thing that the women have when they are washing towels or napery withthings for dadding them with ; and I see the petitioner is a jeweller till his trade ; and I thought he had ane 0’ thae Beetles, and set it all round with diamonds ; and I thought it a foolish and extravagant idea ; and I saw no resemblance it could have to a Louse. But I find I was mistaken, my Lord ; and I find it only a Beetle-clock the petitioner has ; but my opinion’s the same it was before. “ LORD WOODHousELEE.-~bere is a case abridged in the third volume of the Dictionary of Decisions, Chalmers v. Douglas, in which it was found, that vetitas conwicii emmat, which may be rendered not l i t e d y , but in a free and spirited manner, according to the most approved principles of translation, ‘the truth of calumny affords a relevant defence.’ If, therefore, it be the law of Scotland (which I am clearly of opinion it is), that the truth of the calumny affords a relevant defence-and if it be likewise true, that the Diamond Beetle is really an Egyptian Louse -1 am inclined to conclude (though certainly the case is attended with difficulty) that the defender ought to be assoilzied.--Refuse. ‘‘ LORDJ USTICCEL ERK( RAE).-I am very well acquainted with the defender in this action, and have respect for him-and esteem him likewise. I know him to be a skilful and expert surgeon, and also a good man ; and I would go a great length to serve him, if I had it in my power to do so. But I think on this occasion he has spoken rashly, and I fear foolishly and improperly. But the petitioner (for whom I have likewise a great respect, because 1 knew his father, who was a very respectable baker in Edinburgh, and supplied my family with bread, and very good bread it was, and for which his accounts were regularly discharged), it aeems has a Clock or a Beetle, I think it is called a Diamond Beetle, which he is very fond of, and has a fancy for, and the defender has compared it to a Louse, or a Bug, or a Flea, or something of that kind, with a view to render it despicable or ridiculous, and the petitioner 80 likewise, as the proprietor or owner thereof. It “LORD CRAICL-I am of the opinion last delivered. “LORD BALMuTo.--’Aml for refusing the petition. I say, my Lords, ’Am for refusing the petition, I say- I hope he had no bad intention-I am sure he had not. His Lordship usually pronounced I am-dum.
Volume 9 Page 515
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print