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died hard and made a mighty commotion in its death-throes. Sydney Smith was neither joking nor exaggerating when he wrote that his chief desire to know Horner proceeded from a caution given him by some excellent but feeble people who represented him as a person of violent political opinions. “I interpreted this to mean a person who thought for himself, who had firmness to take his own line in life, and who loved truth better than he loved Dundas.” Tyrant as he was in all things political, Henry Dundas was personally and socially one of the most delightful men of his time, and we cease to wonder that his power became all but irresistible when he had practically unlimited power of patronage in almost every department of His Majesty's service-patronage in the army and navy, in the Customs, and in the Post Office, at home and in India—places suited for everybody, from a tide-waiter to a colonial governor. Representative freedom Scotland had none. Dundas named the sixteen peers, and forty-three out of forty-five commoners sent by counties and burghs to Parliament. The county voters or freeholders, few in number, were generally managed by some intriguing local magnate, while the burgh members were chosen by a self-elected council, generally steeped in servility and jobbing corruption. In this way the party of progress came to be not only avoided in society, but were rudely treated by the bench, and, indeed, for the most part, by those holding other official stations. Second son of George of Longwarton, who was in turn seventh son of the fifth Lord Cranstoun, George passed as advocate in 1793, the year after Scott, and one year before Jeffrey ; so that he may be said to have entered on professional life when Pitt and the Dundas dynasty lay heaviest on Scotland. Pitt had been ten years First Lord of the Treasury; his friend, Henry Dundas (afterwards Viscount Melville) was leaving the Home Office to take up the duties of War Secretary, which he held for seven eventful years ; a nephew, Robert of Arniston, before referred to, was Lord-Advocate, anxious, it may be, concerning the trial of Muir of Huntershill for alleged seditious practices, which took place in August. George Cranstoun was originally intended for the army, and during his first year or two at the bar was so annoyed with the bitterness of party feeling that he had serious thoughts of carrying out the earlier determination. The story goes, whether true or only meant to torment the decorous young advocate it is neither easy to say nor necessary to inquire, but it runs that he intended to enter the Austrian army, and consulted his friend Lord Swinton as to the propriety of joining a service in which it was said officers were liable to be logged. His Lordship, who had a sound horror of a Jacobin, replied—“'Deed, Mr. George, ye wad be muckle the better of being whuppit.” But, truth or jest, the step indicated was never taken. Solicitors and clients began to feel confidence in the abilities of the young advocate who had spurned the written “test” proposed by David, afterwards Baron Hume, nephew of the historian ; and the whip, instead of being applied to his own back, was laid with inimitable cleverness on the shoulders of most of the grave “Fifteen,” who then looked down on the bar from the bench. Mr. Cranstoun was generally credited with the authorship of the famous “Diamond Beetle Case,” being an imaginary report of a preposterous action given out as raised by a well-known Edinburgh jeweller for having had his Diamond Beetle described as only an Egyptian Louse. The involved style of Bannatyne, the predilection for Latin quotation of Meadowbank, the brisk manner of Lord Hermand, the anti-Gallic feeling of Lord Craig, the broad dialect of Polkemmet and Balmuto, and the hesitating manner of Lord Methven, are all playfully but admirably caricatured. There is room for only a few sentences here. Craig—“By an Egyptian louse I understand one that 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 an abyss of depravity in consequence of having been subjected for a time by the French. I do not find that Turgot or Condorcet or the rest of the economists ever reckoned the combing of the head a species of productive labour, and I conclude therefore that wherever French principles have been propagated, lice grew 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.” Hermand—"I should have thought the defender would have gratified his spite to the full by comparing the beetle to a common louse, an animal certainly vile enough for purpose of defamation --[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