Page images

--[shut that door there]—but he adds the epithet of Egyptian ; and I well know what he means by that epithet. He means, my lords, a louse that has fastened on the head of a gipsy 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 seeks redress for an injury so atrocious and so aggravated, and, so far as my voice goes, he shall not ask in vain.” Balmuto_" Awm for refusin' the petition. There is more lice than beetles in Fife. What they ca' a beetle is a thing as lang's ma airm, thick at the ae end and sma' at the ither. I thocht when I read the petition that the beetle, or bitill, had been a thing that women ha'e when they are washing towels or naipery, a thing for dadding them wi'; and as the petitioner is a jeweler to his trade, I thocht he had ane o' the beetles, and set a' roun' wi' diamonds; and I thocht that a fuilish and extravagant idea; and I saw nae resemblance it could ha'e to a louse. But I find I was mistaken, my Lord ; that now the beetle clock the petitioner has, but in my opinion it's the same as it was before, and I am, my Lord, for refusing the petition; and I say,” - Polkemmet—" It should be proved, my Lord, that what is called a beetle is a reptile well known in this country. I ha'e seen mony o them on Drumshorling Muir. It is a little black beastie about the size o' my thoomb nail. The country folk ca' them cloks, and I believe they ca' them also · Maggie wi’ the mony feet,' but it is not a bit like ony loose I ever saw; so that in my opinion though the defender may have made a blunder through ignorance in comparin' them, there does not seem to have been any animus injuriandi. Therefore I am for referrin' the petition.” Among the greatest speeches of Cranstoun at the Bar, prominence has generally been given to that on behalf of Edgar, a Glasgow teacher tried with another (1817) before the High Court of Justiciary for administering unlawful oaths to members joining a Parliamentary Reform Society, in so far as it implied a design to upset the Constitution by either physical or moral force, as the case might require. In addition to certain technical objections as to the form of the libel, Mr. Cranstoun contended specifically that even on the

supposition that the oath purported what the public prosecutor said it did, still it would not imply an obligation on the part of the prisoner to commit treason. It must be proved, he held, in such treason cases that there was an expressed intention to accomplish the King's death or to levy war against him, and in the latter case the possession of arms must be proved, as well as meetings for drill. Twenty or thirty individuals doing particular things by force was not a levying of war; and though they were doing what would constitute treason if they were armed, still it would not be treason if they were not. The Lord-Advocate (Colquhoun) withdrew the indictment. The opinion of Lord Corehouse, delivered from the bench, on academical subscriptions was worthy of his judicious forethought and enlightened liberality of spirit. "I dissent,” he said, “from that resolution, that all professors shall be required to subscribe the Confession of Faith of the Church of Scotland. It is proper and necessary that the Theological Faculty should belong to the Church established in this part of the kingdom; but to extend the same rule to the other Faculties by which not only dissenters of every denomination, but members of the Church of England, are excluded from teaching science and literature, appears an inexpedient restriction in the choice of professors. It is true that subscription is enjoined by the Act of Parliament cited in the Report, but the circumstances and opinions of the country have materially changed since that period ; and, in particular, the number of Episcopalians has increased among the best educated classes in the community. Accordingly, the practice of subscription has, for a long time, been generally discontinued in the Universities; and I am of opinion that those statutes, now fallen into disuse, instead of being enforced should be repealed.” Cranstoun's practice at the bar became in a few years steady and lucrative, while his official promotion was reasonably rapid. He was appointed a Depute-Advocate during the short Grenville Administration of 1806; chosen Dean of Faculty in room of Matthew Ross, of Candie, 1823, and in 1826 elevated to the bench on the death of George Fergusson, Lord Hermand, when he took the title of Lord Corehouse from his estate situate amid the Falls of Clyde, a few miles south of Lanark, but in the east of Lesmahagow parish. The

beautiful mansion of the name, in the manorial style of Queen Elizabeth's reign, was begun in 1824 from designs by Blore, and the grounds afterwards laid out in a style so exquisite as to make it difficult to say whether the tasteful fittings of the house corresponds more with the fabric than the winding walks and flowery parterres do with the exquisite scenery bordering them on every hand. Here Lord Corehouse was visited by Sir Walter Scott in 1827, the friendship between the two dating as far back as the College class days of 1788. They had also been associated together on a committee appointed to make inquiry concerning the method and expense of transplanting trees practised by Sir Henry Stewart of Allanton. Bowed down as he was by the death of Lady Scott in the summer of the preceding year, pleasing reference is made in “The Diary” regarding this visit to his old friend at Corehouse. The ruined tower, originally the fortified residence of the proprietors, stands a few hundred feet from the present mansion, and, though often looking as if it would topple over with some heavy spate in Clyde, it is thought the foundations are not greatly weakened since its erection, many centuries since.

Relatives of Lord Corehouse have been often referred to in records far removed from mere family or local history. His cousin James, eighth Lord Cranstoun, was a distinguished naval officer under Rodney and Cornwallis, came home with despatches announcing the great victory over De Grasse, 12th April, 1782, and three years later received the thanks of Parliament for his skilful handling of the “Bellerophon” in another action with the French fleet. One sister, Helen D'Arcy, author of “The tears I shed must ever fall,” became the second wife of Professor Dugald Stewart; another, Margaret, married William Cunningham of Lainshaw, Ayrshire; and a third, Jane Ann, one of the earliest friends and literary advisers of Scott, became Countess of Purgstall, Styria. After the death of her husband, and of a son, the hope of her life and the last of his illustrious line, the Countess shut herself up in a solitary mountain Schloss, and all but forsook intercourse with the world. Captain Basil Hall fared better than others who had sought refuge in these Styrian Valleys. He was warmly invited, hospitably

entertained by the somewhat eccentric lady, and not permitted to go back to the world beyond the valleys with either his wife or family, till he had fulfilled a promise, given under extreme pressure, of seeing her laid in the grave. Many interesting particulars of this visit, and of the Countess herself, will be found in that author's “Schloss Hainfield; or a Winter in Lower Styria.” The uncle of Lord Corehouse, then Captain W. H. Cranstoun, was mysteriously, but, as it turned out, innocently mixed up with the affairs of the notorious Mary Blandy, executed at York for poisoning her father-one of her allegations being that the captain sent her poison from Scotland, after an acquaintanceship made when recruiting with his regiment at Henley.

Stricken with paralysis, and otherwise in poor health, Lord Corehouse retired from the Bench in 1839, but survived in retirement, at his beautiful seat, till 26th June, 1850, when death removed the old Judge, whom it is difficult to over. estimate in his zeal as an advocate, for his impartiality as a judge, or even for his scholarship, so full, ready, and informing. Corehouse fell to be possessed by E. Cranstoun Charles Harris, fourth son of J. Cunningham of Lainshaw, who, in 1869, succeeded his aunt, under the entail. The present possessor of this historic seat is C. E. H. Edmonstoune-Cranstoun, Esq., born 1841, succeeded 1869.


EARLY in May, 1568, the news of Queen Mary's escape from Lochleven flashed through Scotland, and across the Borders to England and the Continent. On the evening of the end, through the connivance of a page known as “Little Douglas," the keys of her prison were abstracted from the castellan, and a boat being in readiness she was rowed across the Loch, with one of her young lady attendants, to the lands of Caldon, where she was received by Lord Seaton, John Beaton,

(brother of James, Archbishop of Glasgow), and other friends. Tytler writes of her as then taking horse to ride at full speed south to the Ferry, which she crossed, and held on her gallop, accompanied part of the way by Lord Claud Hamilton with fifty horse, till Niddry Castle was reached, where the royal fugitive passed her first night of freedom. Here a hurried despatch was sent to France, and Hepburn, of Riccarton, instructed to proceed in the first instance to Dunbar for the purpose of demanding delivery of the castle, and then to pass seaward to Denmark, that his master Bothwell might be made aware of her deliverance. Next day a south-western course was taken by way of Mid-Calder and Shotts, till Hamilton was reached, a distance somewhat over thirty miles. Here Mary felt herself in safety, and had hardly halted till plans were being devised for summoning friends to her assistance. The Earls of Argyll, Cassillis, Eglinton, and Rothes, the Lords Somerville, Yester, Livingstone, Herries, Fleming, Ross, Borthwick, and many others, all crowded into the camp at Hamilton with their followers.

Nor were the lesser barons overlooked, the Laird of Nether-Pollok (Sir John Maxwell), among the rest, being written to on the 5th :-“We dowt not bot ye know that God of his gudness has put us at libertie, quhome we thank maist heartlie. Quhairfore desires you wt all possible diligence fail not to be heir at us in Hamylton with all yor folks, friends and seruands bodin in feir of weir, as ye will do us acceptable service and pleasure. Because yor constance. We need not at this put to mak langer Lyr, but will byd you fairweill.-(Signed) Mary, R. Dated off Hamylton, ye v. of May, 1568.” Tradition, generally of a very loose kind, has connected many places with the presence of Mary during her few busy days in and around Hamilton — pre-eminently Castlemilk (Stuart) and Craignethan, then occupied by the infirm Earl of Arran, third of the name, whose reason had become affected by the Queen's refusal to accept him for a husband. Unlike most of the other members of his family, he was in early life actively inclined to favour the Reformers. It is on the whole difficult to see why Mary should for any purpose remove beyond the bounds of the protection afforded by her kinsmen

« PreviousContinue »