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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


456 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. He is represented in the prosecution of a favourite walk in the Meadows ; and half a century after the execution of the Print, he might still be seen frequenting the accustomed promenade during the early morning hours, when most of the younger citizens of Edinburgh were still in bed. His step, though not so stately, nor his carriage so erect, yet the spirit of youth remained ; and it was impossible not to recognise in his general bearing and appearance the well-bred beau of fifty years back. The cocked hat, to be sure, was long before superseded by a more modern chapeau, but the coat, vest, and short inexpressibles (composed in summer of nankeen), are of the identical colour and fashion j and the stockings, too, are white, though no longer silk or cotton, as they used to be in the palmy days of his meridian. MR. SYMs,e cond son of a respectable merchant in Glasgow, was born in that city on the 29th of February 1’752. He came to Edinburgh when about fifteen years of age ; and, after serving his apprenticeship with an uncle of his own name, was admitted as a Writer to the Signet in 17’75, and lived to be the oldest member but one of that influential Society. He enjoyed a pretty fair share of business-which it is believed might have been increased to his own advantage, but for his high and punctilious sense of professional honour. He was indeed characterised by a great spirit of independence even in early life ; and he has been heard to say that he had never cost his father a shilling, nor received the slightest assistance from him, after leaving his birthplace at the boyish age above mentioned. He however succeeded to his share of a considerable fortune on the death of the old gentleman. Mr. Sym withdrew from all professional occupation while still in the vigour of life. He never held any public ofice, but he was appointed a member of the “ Judicature Commission,” composed of the highest legal functionaries, the English Master of the Rolls, etc., Sir Walter Scott being clerk. It is believed that the subject of our present notice and the late Mr. Mathew ROSS, then Dean of Faculty, were the only Commissioners whose services were strictly honorary-the others being all in the receipt of large allowances from Government. Among other legal subjects submitted for the opinion of the Commissioners was that of trial by jury in civil cases j and it is understood that bfr. Sym’s sentiments, in common with those of his friend Mr. Rose, were adverse to the introduction, in such cases, of that mode of trial into Scotland. While serving on this Commission, he drew up the various schedules still in use by the ‘(Extractors ” in giving out the interlocutors of the Court of Session ; and in so doing greatly shortened and simplified the form of these writings-reducing, at the same time, their expense to the parties concerned. Mr. Sym is understood to have devoted a great portion of his leisure hours to literary pursuits. He furnished anonymously many articles for the periodicals of the day, and is known to have been a man of very extensive reading and information, with no inconsiderable talent for poetical composition. “hough not unobservant of contemporaneous literature, he dwelt with far greater fondness on the remarkable works produced by the worthies of his own early days-the Humes, Robertsons, and Smiths ; and there were few of his contemporaries more conversant with the writings of these great authors.
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