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tical way, is unsupported by evidence. We should not like to dogmatise about love' among Scottish politicians of that time; but so far from not having been trusted, it was the trust so often and so long reposed in the Dalrymples which excited the enmity against them. To infer extreme depravity on the part of the Dalrymples because of the hatred they inspired shows utter ignorance of the period. The only 'exceptional ' reason for that hatred was their growing greatness,' and their zeal for the true interests of the country. They were hated by a proud, poor, greedy aristocracy; despising them as new men, unable to estimate their services, envious of the knowledge and capacity which had raised them to the level of Hamilton and Athole. They were the first in Scotland who had so raised themselves; and the whole body of the secondary nobility, who regarded the conduct of political affairs as their exclusive right, and in such a rise not only felt their own immediate defeat in the race for place and power, but foresaw the permanent weakening of their order, hated them accordingly. Supple politicians as they were, treachery was never brought home to them. Of the father it may especially be said that, while he served many masters, he was faithful to them all. We do not ascribe to him the lofty integrity of Nottingham or Somers; but fidelity even such as his was then rare in England, and unknown among the false, shameless leaders of Scottish political parties in an age when, for the first and last time, freason to the cause of Protestantism and freedom stained the honoured name of Argyle.
On the other hand, it is impossible to accept Mr. Mackay's estimate of his hero. The praises of Wodrow, and a few clerical admirers of Stair's shining piety, cannot outweigh the all but unanimous verdict of contemporaries; the deliberate judgments of Burnet, Scott, and Woodhouslee.* The actions of his life, indeed, describe him best-even as stated and defended by himself. A cruel or vindictive man he was not. But he was subtle and crafty; greedy of place—though there were lengths to which, even for the sake of place, he would not go. It is difficult to acquit him of servility to Lauderdale; and when he describes his patron as most zealous for his country,' and as having come to be in difficulties on
account of his favouring the phanatics,' he wrote what he must have known to be untrue. In his “ Apology' he boasts
* Burnet calls him 'a cunning man ; ' Scott doubts his integrity; Woodhouslee imputes turbulent ambition and crafty policy 'both to father and son.
that he never took a bribe-a height of judicial rectitude to which there is reason to believe he really attained. In his reports of two cases, Fountainhall insinuates that the President was thought to have been actuated by improper influences. The authority of Fountainhall is deservedly high; but he does not state the charge as matter of his own belief, still less of his own knowledge; and, on the whole, not in such a way as to force a conviction of the guilt of Stair. He did much to reform procedure, especially during his first tenure of the Presidency; but towards the end of his life, there arose on all sides violent outcries against his conduct of the business of the Court; and it has been made matter of reproach against him that Acts of Parliament were required to set right abuses -such as altering judgments, hearing cases with closed doors, &c.—which should have been put an end to by the Court itself. It is very probable that Stair had not sufficient strength of character to effect, by his own influence, the required changes. Down to the present day the Court of Session has been too chary about reforming itself; too prone to wait for the interference of the Legislature. Whether this strange timidity has arisen from ignorance of the evils, or from that contentment with things as they are which naturally steals over the judicial mind, we cannot say ; but it has often brought the Court into great unpopularity with the country, and then some reckless Government forces on hasty, ill-considered changes in obedience to popular clamour. There are many who allege that such is the state of matters at this very time. But for Stair's weakness there was much excuse. The root of the evils with which he had to deal was judicial corruption; and that was, in his day, so widespread that he may reasonably have believed it incapable of cure otherwise than by legislative enactment. And the fact that, even after Parliamentary interference, the taint of corruption clung to the Scottish Bench for upwards of a century, goes far to establish the correctness of such a belief. As a law-maker Stair did little. The one important measure connected with his name is the Act regulating the mode of executing deeds—an Act which, at least as interpreted by subsequent decisions, grievously needs amendment. The legal achievement which principally marks his epoch was the Entail Act of 1685. From any share in the discredit of having imposed entails on Scotland exactly 400 years after the English nobles had inflicted this evil on their country, and more than 200 years after the boldness of the English judges had found out a remedy, Stair must be acquitted. He was in Holland when the Act was passed ; and he has left on record his strong dis
e from cut Institutional part is wa the
approval of its policy. That responsibility must be borne by Sir George Mackenzie; who, had he also realised his endeavours to abolish juries in criminal cases, would have left behind him a work of mischief, worthy, in its completeness and far-reaching power for evil, even of his reputation.
Stair was a considerable author. His speculations on physics were behind his age. The Lord Chancellor,' said Harvey of Bacon,' writes on science like a Lord Chancellor;' and the sarcasm may be applied, with greater force, to the writings of Stair. His religious meditations will hardly now be read save from curiosity. But, as a jurist, he has left an illustrious name. His ‘Institutions of the Law of Scotland’is a remarkable work. The historical part is weak, especially as regards the old Common Law of Scotland, and the introduction of the civil jurisprudence; points full of interest, and in Stair's day possibly within reach of zealous inquiry. But the value of the historical method was not, in that age, understood. Again, he lends his authority to those extreme views of the royal prerogative, or more strictly, of the royal power, which were insisted on by the Scotch lawyers after the union of the crowns, at variance with the free spirit of Scottish Constitutional Law. His style has received an admiration which we cannot but think excessive. In his preface he warns his readers not to expect a ' quaint and gliding style, still less flourishes of • eloquence.' But he avoids, only too successfully, the error of that lucidity of diction, the charm of which, in some writers, lays such hold on the reader's mind, and so carries him along, as under a spell, that he sometimes fails to grasp the true reach of the thought. Stair's style has, no doubt, a force and dignity befitting his subject; but it is cumbrous, and often complicated, even to obscurity. The frequency of his allusions to the law of Moses, and to the Bible generally, are not edifying, and certainly not instructive; indeed his fondness for sacred sanctions has led him into a serious error of classification. Yet the scope and execution of the work entitle him to a high place among jurists. Scott expresses regret that his powerful mind was unhappily exercised • on so limited a subject as Scottish jurisprudence. The limits of a subject, however, depend not a little on the mode of treatment. Stair's work is not a mere compendium of Scotch law. As such, indeed, it stands high, even after the lapse of nearly two centuries; but a large portion of the work may be truly described as a Treatise on Jurisprudence generally, illustrated by reference to the law of Scotland and other systems. It has been compared, and not unreasonably, by one of his editors to 'a Treatise of Universal *Grammar, where the author, keeping in view chiefly one language, and drawing most of his illustrations from it, enables the student not only more thoroughly to understand all the 'rules and principles upon which the grammar of this language
depends, but also to apply this knowledge, with advantage and • facility, to every other language to which he may turn his
attention. He himself claims that a great part of what is here offered is common to most civil nations, and is not like "to be displeasing to the judicious and sober anywhere, who doat not so much upon their own customs as to think that none else are worthy of their notice. This comprehensive survey of legal relations common to all systems, the constant search after principle, the philosophical analysis, and the thorough technical knowledge, have given to a large part of his treatise a vitality and width of application unexampled, we think, among works of the same class. To this day • Stair' is constantly quoted in the every-day work of the Scotch Courts; and we have been assured by an eminent politician and lawyer that in his chapter on Reprisals was found the strongest authority for the position taken up by Great Britain in the affair of the · Trent. Mr. Mackay seems to us to institute not a flattering or even a reasonable comparison when he compares Lord Stair's Institutions with the practical labours of Coke, or the easy commentaries of Blackstone. They are all law books certainly ; but they have no other point of resemblance. Stair's comprehensive and philosophic treatise differs. in its conception from the former, and stands altogether on a higher level than the latter. "I did write,' he says with a not ungraceful consciousness of desert, ‘ the Institutions of the Law of Scotland, and did derive it from that common law that rules the world, and compared it with the laws civil and canon, and with the customs of the neighbouring nations, which hath been so acceptable that few considerable families in the nation wanted the same, and I have seen them avend*ing both in England and Holland.'
Inferior to his father in legal acquirement, Sir John Dalrymple was, in many respects, a more remarkable man. Macaulay estimates him as one of the first men of his time. His knowledge was great, and in him it was not the knowledge of a pedant, but of a thorough man of the world. As a statesman he was profound and far-seeing; as a debater he had no equal. His letters show a love of reality, an impatience of pretence, an insight into character, a contempt for national prejudices, rare among Scotchmen of any time, hardly known
VOL. CXLIII, No. CCXCI.
among Scotchmen in his day. His character was altogether a stronger one than his father's. Quite as unscrupulous, even more impenetrable, he was yet simpler and bolder. Hence, while hated with especial hatred by his rivals in the Parliament House,* he does not seem to have incurred the general unpopularity of his father. Nor is this surprising. The never-failing caution of the President; his astute devices, on occasions of difficulty, to save his reputation--such as the verbal qualification with which he took the Deelaration; his intense respectability; his profuse piety; his forgiveness of enemies, almost Pecksniffian ; † and his general success in life; were more calculated to arouse animosity than the franker tergiversations and bolder courses of the son, who, if he did some wrong, at least never made profession of exceeding virtue. He was,' says De Foe, justly reputed the greatest “man of counsel in the kingdom of Scotland ;' and we are told by the same authority that he died to the general grief
of the whole island, being universally lamented.' This grief was not without good cause. Those who hated Sir John Dalrymple most hated him because of services which constitute an enduring title to the gratitude of his countrymen, and which must have been widely appreciated even in his lifetime. For some years after the Revolution Scotland was exposed to a danger the character and extent of which has hardly been appreciated by historians. A band of politicians, powerful from social position, strong in persistency of purpose, were bent upon establishing a narrow oligarchy. They sought to deprive the Crown of all authority; they were prepared to reduce the people to serfdom; the country was to be delivered over to a poor, greedy, unprincipled aristocracy. Had they prevailed, the future of Scotland would have been little better than the long misery of Ireland from the Revolution to the Union. Religious hatreds might not have flamed so high ; but in Scotland, not less than in Ireland, the domination of a small privileged class would have brought with it poverty, backwardness, and national degradation. To frustrate these pernicious designs was the
* Thus Lockhart: "The Master (of Stair) is among the worst men ' in this age; and what has been said of him may serve for a character
of his two brothers, yea, the whole name; only with this difference, " that, tho' they were all equally willing, yet not equally capable of • doing so much evil as his Lordship.
† • Most men thought this equality of spirit a mere hypocrisy in him,' says Sir George Mackenzie.