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Into my brain! Yet fo I fear 'twould split My head, as air fhut up does water bubbles. Titus. Thou haft fpoke wittier, Brute, than thou'rt aware. Aruns. But what wilt give me now for a recipe To make a wit? I had it from the Sibyl,
Her thou faw'ft t'other day, who fold to th' king
Afk the king my cousin :
He knows full well: I thank him, he's my fleward,
Who told thee fo?
Brutus. The king himself.-Now twenty years are past, And more, when he sent for me from the farm Where I had liv'd fome time studying philofophy, And fuch like serious matters.
Yes, yes, all men
These thy qualities,
And art thou not
Will I forget it! 'tis my conftant prayer
To heaven, that I may one day have the power
told me of.
Oh-take it gratis
Firft then; attend with caution-But the message
That I fhould loiter thús! Why would you keep me
If thou wilt, good Brutus ;
Of dull ftupidity, which I have worn
T' avenge my father's and my brother's murder!
We confefs ourselves to be in the number of those, who wish that the lefs ftudied diction, and more, plain and level metre of the school of that immortal poet (which feems to have ended with Southern) had been continued to the prefent time.' And as far as our Author has adopted the diction of the school of Shakespeare, we approve of his dialogue, which is often flowing, eafy, nervous, and characteriftic; but it cannot be denied that it often finks into grofs familiarity and meanness, and fometimes goes in fuch a hobbling pace, and falls into fuch low expreffions, that it cannot with juftice be termed even meafured profe.'
A diverfification of character' hath not only been attempted in this play, but in many inftances fuccefsfully executed : nor can we think with the Writer, that his piece is, on that account, lefs proper for the ftage, or lefs adapted to the multitude. The ftage and the multitude are equally favourable to pieces of character, and receive, with equal coldness, such dramas as are void of that ingredient; which is the chief reason why fo many tragedies (ince the days of Southern) have ftrutted and fretted their fhort hour upon the ftage, and then been heard no more!"
It is a very unfortunate circumstance for an Author to indulge his felf-complacency fo far, as to take it for granted that his tafte and abilities are fuperior to the age in which his works are published. This idea is the parent of flovenlinefs and inaccuracy; and there is in the piece before us, if we may hazard the expreffion, a kind of laboured incorrectnefs; the Author feeming to difdain the trouble of giving the neceffary compactness to his fable, or the last polifh to his ftyle.
Notwithstanding thefe defects, which it was our duty to obferve, this hiftorical tragedy abounds with uncommon beauties of language and fituation, and much exquifite delineation of character; all which excellencies would be ftill heightened, if the Author would vouchlafe to amend the irregularities, and fupply the deficiencies, which would, in its present state, prove the only obftacles to its fuccefs in theatrical reprefentation. Such corrections would also render it still more pleasing in the closet.
ART. VIII. The Hiftory of Edinburgh. By Hugo Arnot, Efq; Advocate. 4to. 11. 5 s. Boards. Edinburgh printed; fold by Murray in London. 1779.
N the viciffitudes and accidents which characterife the hiftory of towns, we find, in general, many important objects of research and curiofity; but when the towns described have the peculiarity of being the capitals of a nation, 'the inftruction communicated is of the greater moment, and the materials
of the author are the more connected with great events. The plan of the work before us was originally of a limited nature; and we are informed, by Mr. Arnot, that it grew into its prefent magnitude from his attention to a variety of matter which tended to illuftrate the state of manners in Scotland, and to throw a new light upon its public tranfactions. There is nothing, indeed, which appears more certain, than that the affairs of a kingdom and its capital are deeply interwoven. To give a wide range to inquiry and inveftigation is, of confequence, the most instructive method which can be adopted in works of this kind.
The minuteness of this Hiftorian will, perhaps, be confidered, by fome readers, as a merit. The fearch which he acknowledges was made by him into moft of the public records of Scotland, was highly proper. The colleges of St. Andrews, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh confented to afford him the aids he required; and to feveral private gentlemen he returns his acknowledgments for the politeness of their communications.
Whatever has a particular relation to the city of Edinburgh, in the civil and ecclefiaftical hiftory of Scotland, is detailed by this laborious Inquirer, and furnishes fuch materials as are the most capable of compofition and ornament. The manners of the Scottish nation, the prices of provifrons, and the value of money, engage his attention. He describes the public buildings of Edinburgh, its religious houses, its population, and its amufements. He treats of the legislative and the judicial affemblies; and, on this fubject, he advances the evidence of many improper acts of magiftrates. His freedom and fpirit, in this particular, are worthy of praife, as they have in view the promotion of the interefts of liberty and mankind.
The account he has given of the Court of Jufticiary in Scotland will afford entertainment to our Readers, and will be accepted as a specimen from which they may form a judgment of the abilities of the Author:
It has been already explained, that the Justice-ayre, or Court of Jufticiary, was the fupreme court, civil as well as criminal, over the barons, and thofe refiding within their domains. After the original Court of Seffion was inftituted, it ftill retained its civil jurifdiction; but, upon the erection of the College of Juftice, the authority of the Court of Jufticiary was reftricted to criminal affairs. The judges were the Lord Juftice General, Juftice Clerk, and certain affeffors added to them by the Privy Council, who were chofen from among perfons not verfant in the laws, and whofe commiffions only latted during the particular trials upon which they were appointed to prefide. A conftitution fo highly improper, was altered by Charles II. and the court modelled into its prefent form. It now confifts of the
Charles II. parl, 2. feff. 3. c. 16.'
Lord Juftice General, who is always a peer of the moft diftinguished rank or influence, the Lord Juftice Clerk, and five Commiffioners of Jufticiary, who are alfo Lords of Seffion. The office of Lord Juftice General bears a fimilar relation, in the Court of Jufticiary, to that of one of the extraordinary Lords formerly in the Court of Seffion, and, like these too, ought to be abolished +.
The Court of Justiciary has a fupreme jurifdiction in criminal affairs. The decrees of sheriffs, and other inferior criminal courts, as well as thofe of the Court of Admiralty, are liable to its review. It has been doubted, how far the decrees of the Court of Justiciary itself are fubject to the review of the Houfe of Lords. This is a matter of great importance; and, in fo far as may be confiftent with the deference due to the refpectable perfons who entertain oppofite notions, we deliver our opinion without diffidence or referve, "That an appeal lies from the Court of Jufticiary to the House of Lords."
The decrees of the ancient court of King's Julticiary, or Jufticeayre, from which the prefent court has, after feveral changes, been modelled, were fubject to the review of parliament. That court took cognizance of cauíes both civil and criminal, and these too by jury. After the inftitution of the College of Juftice, when the King's Justiciary no longer meddled with civil causes, we find * King James V. taking the opinion of parliament, upon a criminal trial depending before that judge. Even fince the erection of the court into its prefent form, frequent inftances of the reverfal of fentences of § forfeiture occur in the parliamentary proceedings. But further, an ap peal from the Court of Jufticiary was actually received by the House of Lords, A. D. 1713 1, and the judgment of that court reverfed. In a late cafe, where a petition of appeal, prefented from that court, was difmiffed, it was only found, "That the faid petition and appeal, was not properly brought;" nothing was decided refpecting the general point.
The ftrefs which is laid upon no inftances of appeal being to be found from the Court of Justiciary, as prefently modelled to the Scots parliament, is over-balanced by other considerations; befides, it is eafy to explain why there were none. Appeals from the fupreme civil court were not admitted after the inftitution of the College of Juftice, down till the revolution. In that period of a hundred
+ We apprehend there was no system of liberty in Scotland till the union. Since that, we know but of three trials in which the Lord Juftice General prefided. They were all political. In all of them, government exerted itfelf to make the prifoners objects of exemplary punishment. The first was that of the Glasgow rioters; and in it, the Lord Juftice General entered his diffent and protest against the opinion of the ordinary judges, in finding that the rioters were not subject to a capital punishment. The fecond was that of Provoft Stewart. The third was that of James Stewart of Aucharn, for the murder of Campbell of Glenure, the only trial that we know of, in which a Lord Juftice General, and Lord Advocate, condelcended to go upon a circuit, A trial, in which government was fuppofed to have exerted its utmost influence to procure a conviction of the prifoner; and in which, upon his conviction, the Lord Justice General addressed him in a moft infulting (peech; a speech, which, far from being expreffive of generofity and compaffion, breathed an ardent fpirit of political hatred and refentment. Rec. of Juft. 4th Oct. 1725; printed trial of James Stewart of Aucharn, A, D. 1753.'
James V. parl. 6. c. 69.'
Law Tracts, p. 276.'
i. e. conviction of high treason." Maclaurin's cales, p. 581,'