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eneral View of the Political State of Scotland - The Scottish Bar- Ascendency of the Whigs—State Trials-Debates in Parliament on the subjectBurgh Reform - Montrose - Aberdeen-Dundee-Ferment in the NationMeetings at Edinburgh-Attempts to reduce the Charter of that City.
Cue present year may justly be con- strong influence in this direction was idered as forming a memorable era in doubtless produced by the energy, adhe annals of Scotland, less from any dress, and popular manners of the late rominent events that occurred, than Lord Melville. The national pride rom the great change which was was flattered by seeing a Scotchman vrought, or at least disclosed, in its hold so high a place in the public volitical mind. This change, unless councils; his attention to its interests n a few of its detached symptoms, was unremitting ; and there remained nay probably have escaped the notice always in his whole character and of our southern readers; and to them, deportment something so decidedly herefore, it may not be unacceptable Scotch, that this people never ceased to receive the observations of those fully to consider him as a Scotchman, who could mark on the spot the steps In short, during this whole period, of this revolution, and the secret cau. the great mass of the landed proprieses by which it was prepared. tors, all that high nobility whose for
For a very long period preceding, tunes enabled them to emulate regal the current of public opinion had been pomp, even the bulk of the middling observed, in Scotland, to run very and trading classes, stood firmly arstrongly in favour of prerogative. The rayed on the side of administration. French Revolution, indeed, excited a The party of opposition was supported somewhat brisk ebullition, the ele- rather by a few clever and zealous dements of which, however, were rather tached individuals, than by any reguactive than widely diffused; but when lar or established body. Yet, amid it subsided, the principles of loyalty, this smooth outward appearance, the and of acquiescence in the established seeds of an active democracy were seorder of things, seemed to derive only cretly ripening. The revolutionary new strength from the efforts neces. spirit, during its prevalence, had acted sary to suppress their opposites. A powerfully on the youthful votaries of
learning, of whom the University of most monastic seclusion, poring ore 2.5 Edinburgh was then rearing many, the pandects and the digests, and is destined to act a distinguished part in mersed in the routine of daily practice
, the intellectual professions and literary are in a great degree estranged from history of their country. Talent is the circles both of literary and fastios. naturally democratic, spurning at all able life. In Edinburgh, on the condistinctions not founded on itself. At trary, the title of Advocate is an isthe private debating societies, into troduction equally into the gay as inte which the students of the Scottish the busy world; it is assumed eren a universities form themselves, political an ornament by young men of fortune, discussion became a prominent fea- who never mean to engage in practice. ture; and it was reported, that the In regard to intellectual culture, the most bold and perilous questions were Advocate of the old school was not 20 frequently agitated. The alarm hence customed to travel much beyond the felt by the votaries of established order record. His week was spent in close gave rise to a species of proscription, attendance on the Parliament house, which barred in some degree the first while the Saturday, and other octaefforts of these young men to bring sional intervals of relaxation, were de themselves into notice. The indigna- voted to loud mirth and ample pota. tion thus inspired failed not, even after tions. To indulge a taste, or emplos their first fervour had been tempered time, in any of the branches of literaby maturer judgment, to fix them ture or science, was considered a dasstrongly in an opposite interest. In gerous species of idleness, and as disScotland, abilities, unsupported by qualifying him for his main occupa; great wealth, can with difficulty ob- tion. The young practioners, nursed tain a public field for their display. in the school we have just described, Talent, however, must always find its introduced an entirely different train level; and its possessors were not long of ideas. The belles lettres, poetry, of discovering a theatre where they history, and antiquities, were now stvo could act a conspicuous part, in the died with the same zeal as the Instieye of their country, and even of the tutes and Decisions, and came to be world.
considered almost as essential to their Edinburgh, though it possesses credit and place in society. Such much of the brilliant and polished so. train of pursuit, among a number of ciety, wants many of the usual ac- young men of splendid and highly cul. companiments, of a metropolitan city. tivated talents, soon placed this body It is neither the residence of a court, at the head of the literature of Scot. nor the resort of the high nobility, land. Their wits, indeed, must be nor the theatre of any grand political greatly sharpened by constant collision
. deliberations. In the absence of these, Every morning their whole number the lead is taken by the inferior gentry, repairs to what is called the Outer and more particularly by the intellec. House, a magnificent hall, not rivalling tual professions. Among these last, indeed the forensic dimensions of West. the most brilliant class, beyond com- minster-hall, but serving for more dig. parison, is that of the practitioners at nified uses. This hall forms a vast the bar, or, as they are here called, coffee-house, in which all things con, Advocates. This class, be it observed, nected with business, literature,
different train of life from the world, are daily debated. Espe. the lawyers of the English metropo- cial regard is, indeed, had to whatever lis; who, shut up in their inns in al. conduces to the production of mirth;
follow a very
vut this does not supersede many grave transference of an adherent from the nd serious discussions. Great benefit habits of an active and zealous law. nust also accrue from the extensive yer, to the tranquil and routine life of observation of human nature, and the a judge, is very disadvantageous to the affairs of life, which is afforded upon interests of administration. From one he continually varying theatre of civil cause or another, so it happened, that ind criminal proceedings. This body at the period now under consideration, have thus completely given the tone all the most eminent and illustrious o Scottish literature. They have in characters at the bar stood in direct used into it a very different character opposition to the ruling powers. It from that which rendered it illustrious would be difficult, amid all the shift. in the former age. The tone was then ing scenes which Scottish society has given by the presbyterian church of presented, to select a more brilliant Scotland, and produced a grave and groupe. We need only mention Clerk, highly respectable literature, which the son of an illustrious father, whom busied itself little with ephemeral to- he surpassed, at least as to public life; pics, but was chiefly employed upon whose age, long established practice, immutable truths, and the permanent and thorough legal knowledge, placed interests of society. The literature of him at the head of his party, and of the present day is gay, busy, alive to the bar. This gentleman belonged, the present scene; - periodical criti- indeed, rather to the old school, being cism, popular political discussion, and more distinguished for deep law and the painting of manners, form its rule forcible pleading, than for general ing themes. The knowledge of the knowledge. Some eccentricities of world, the gaiety, and the business- manner, and effusions of humorous like style, conspicuous in its produc- spleen, by the repetition of which sotions, have rendered them the most ciety was amused, aided in rendering extensively popular of any in the pre. him a conspicuous personage in the sent, or perhaps any former age. city. Cranston presented a quite dif.
We have already hinted at the cau. ferent personage, marked by a deses which directed towards the popu. portment eminently correct, polished, lar side a large proportion of the rising and dignified—the model of a lawyer Scottish talent. From other causes and a gentleman; and, in short, one of connected with the observations now the most accomplished characters of stated, the great mass of it directed which any bar can boast. Here, by itself to the bar. This profession, the way, we cannot help remarking from the ample share of government how slowly these high qualities are patronage included within its limits, recognized, when not rendered piquant might have seemed calculated to turn by some admixture of weakness and the views of some into a new channel. eccentricity. Mr Cranston remained Principle, however, and the pride of long without any employment whatindependence, was more powerful than ever ; insomuch, that at one time he interest : and the emoluments of a quitted the bar in despair, and for sehighly employed advocate are such as veral years employed his splendid tato render a seat on the bench eligible lents in marshalling a troop. of draonly in the decline of life. Meantime, goons. Jeffrey, whose fame in letters the very circumstance of the great admits only of one rival, is also the proportional number of the Scottish most popular speaker in the Scottish judges causes a continual drain upon courts ; involving his auditors in a the loyal part of the bar; and the thread of lively, delicate, rapid, and
varied illustration, till they are entan. the kingdom, began to be felt in full gled, and cannot escape. In every force in the western manufacturing criminal trial, and, since the introduce districts. The elements now began tion of the Jury Court, in every jury to ferment, which afterwards burst trial, his presence is considered indis- forth in such rash and violent attempts pensable; and these being the only law to subvert the established authorities proceedings which excite a popular Information being received of despe. interest, Mr Jeffrey makes thus, in the rate designs in agitation, a consideraeye of the public, the most conspicu. ble number of arrests took place in ous figure at the Scottish bar. Op Glasgow, and some other towns in the posite to him is usually stationed Cock. counties of Ayr and Dunbarton. Ak burn, producing similar effects by a ter due precognitions, a certain nuaquite opposite strain of oratory-plain, ber were selected to stand trial for sehomely, downright, full of clear and ditious practices, and to deter others
, forcible reality. This gentleman had by their punishment, from following given the most unequivocal proof of this pernicious example. The Whig sincerity, when, the nephew of Lord phalanx deemed it now their part to Melville, he sacrificed in the cause of come forward and tender their volunWhiggism the highest legal honours tary aid to all who might stand indict. which government had to bestow, and ed for political offences. As the hour which would have courted his accep. of trial approached, the whole body tance. Space would fail us to com- appeared ostentatiously drawn up in memorate Moncrieff, the son of one battle array, and presenting a front of the most eminent clergymen in the that seemed sufficient to intimidate Scottish church, and himself already the boldest prosecutor. In disturbed rivalling the vigour and legal know- times, the most important person ledge of Clerk;—Murray, prompt, Scotland, and on whom the tracquilshewy, eloquent ;--and others who lity of the kingdom mainly depends
, might have been worthy of mention: is the Lord Advocate. The circumAll these, however, had remained for stances which we have mentioned as some time in a tolerably quiescent so materially affecting the loyalty of state, and opposed only a tranquil and the whole body, rendered it difficult passiye resistance to the measures of to find an individual possessed of those administration ; but the time was now high qualities which the exigency recome, when all their hostile energies quired. Maconochie, son to an able were to be roused into action. and distinguished judge, was consider:
It is worthy of remark, that the ed a young man of talent ; but he had separation so total, which we have ob- little experience, and could not be ex. served to take place in England be. pected to muster law sufficient to contween the Whig and the popular par. tend with all the first authorities at the ties, never could be said to have ex. bar. He was reckoned, moreover, tended to Edinburgh. The Whig precipitate, and liable to act without chiefs there continued always to es that caution and circumspection, so pouse
the side and cause of ihe peo. requisite in the presence of the mighty ple, so far as they could so with any host that stood arrayed against him. sort of propriety. Ample scope was The first prosecution, however, that afforded, when the distress, and conse- of M‘Laren and Baird, * was in so far quent discontent, prevalent throughout successful; though high admiration
* See Appendix, p. 24.
vas still commanded by the talents of tion in prison, one solitary confinehe Whig advocates who conducted ment, one period of painful suspense ; he defence. The case of Neil Dou. then came a second charge, a second zlas had not so fortunate an issue. imprisonment, a second period of sus. But the grand display of strength was pense, a second judgment,
and a se. nade in attacking the indictments cond indictment quashed. The crown aised against Edgar and Mackinlay, officers, not satisfied with this, were particularly the latter. The Whig now preparing a third torture for this phalanx, applying the whole power of unfortunate man. It was impossible heir ingenuity and legal knowledge to say what would now be the decision o sift these to the bottom, found out of the court, but no lawyer who read forms and expressions which they suc. the indictment could have any doubts ceeded in representing as irregular; as to its inefficacy. If the prosecu. and the crown officers were obliged to tors failed on this occasion, would they give up two of the indictments against commence a fourth time? Mackinlay, and to raise a third. This Mr Finlay felt disgusted and disapraising of three successive indictments pointed, as did the whole Scotch nafor the same offence, gave occasion to tion, that an individual should be conloud complaints, and the subject was fined to a solitary prison, and tried even introduced before the House of over and over again, merely because Commons. Lord A. Hamilton said the Lord Advocate was unable to the suspension of the habeas corpus draw an indictment. He complained had been productive of one of the most that the legal affairs of that country vexatious prosecutions
which had ever were placed in such hands, that it was come before a court of justice. The impossible such circumstances should case he alluded to had occurred in not frequently, recur. An indictment Scotland. The person who was con had been three times quashed, and cerned had been indicted once, and the might, perhaps, meet with the same indictment had been withdrawn; he fate a fourth time. Was it to be enhad been indicted a second time, and dured that his Majesty's ministers the indictment had been a second time should allow the law to be in the withdrawn; and he understood it was hands of a person who could not draw intended to indict him a third time. an indictment? while the consequence
Mr Brougham was surprised that might be, that, after all, the man his Majesty's ministers had given no would escape, whether innocent or answer to his noble friend ; no answer guilty? The law of Scotland was to an allegation, that a man had been right enough in itself—it allowed an put three times on his defence. (Hear, indictment to be repeatedly amended hear.) He knew, that by the Scotch in point of form and before trial; but law, most unhappily for Scotland, a who ever heard of an indictment being party might be tried a thousand times preferred three times for the same offor the same offence, if the law offi- fence, after the case had been argued? cers of the crown thought it advisable. On these grounds, he thought the The House had been informed, that thanks of the honourable gentlemen the first indictment against this unfor. were due to the noble lord who had tunate man, charged with high trea- brought the subject before the notice son, had been quashed by the court; of the House. there had been one trial, one eten Ministers declared that they could
* Appendix, p. 30.