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FOR SEPTEMBER, 1816.
THOMAS, LORD ERSKINE.
OF THE CHARTER-HOUSE, K. T. F. R. 9. ETC. ETC. ETC. (WITI A PORTRAIT, ENGRAVED T. BLOOD, FROM AN ORIGINAL
BY SANUEL DRUMMOND, ESQ. A.R.A.] - By the rare union of all that was learned in law, with all that was lucid in elo. quence,-by the singular combination of all that was pure in morals, with all that was profound in wisdom, - he has stamped upon every action of his life the blended authority of a great mind, and an unquestionable conviction.
Phillips » Specch, -Guthrie v. Sterne. no the preceding outline character and was not more than twenty-six when memoir, it would be as impossible, as it as a fellow-commoner of Trinity.college, would be useless, for us to add a single Cambridge, and, at the same time, enfeature; and in detailing, therefore, a tered his name as a student on the looks few facts of his past life, we shall en- of Lincoln's-Ion. One of his college deavour to keep in view this elegant declamations is still extant, as it was eulogium and deserved praise.
delivered in Trinity Chapel, when the Although it is not above four hund- thesis was the glorious Revolution of red years since the Erskines had any 1688. With a display of extraordinary title to the rarldom of Mar, yet this powers of language, it is easy to disillustrious family is eminent in itself, cover, in some of its passages, the ele** if we respect either its antiguity, or the ments, as it were, of that forensic elomany great employments with which quence in which he afterwards acquired they have been distinguished ; and such a decisive pre-eminepce; and it is though we are not aware of the precise not too high a praise to say, that it time when, or by whom, the nanie was bears very striking features of superifirst assumed, yet it appears certain, that ority over the declamations which are it was originally derived from a barony usually produced on these occasions. in the shire of Renfrew, and being It gained the first prize, which he, howa local surname, is, of consequence, ex- ever, honourably declined to accept, not tremnely ancieot.
attending Canıbridge as a student, and The Right Honourable Thomas Lord only declaiming in conformity to the Erskine is the third and youngest son rules of the College. of Heary David, tenth Earl of Bucuan, An ode written by Mr. Erskine abont (who died in the year 1767, leaving two this time, in imitation of Gray's Bard, sons and two daughters beside the sub- is also worthy of notice, as a sportive ject of this brief notice), was born about production of fancy: it has been pubthe year 1750, and received bis early lished in the Monthly Magazine, and education partly in the high school of originated in an incident truly humourEdioburgh, and partly at the college of ous: the author had been disappointed St. Andrews. After originally entering by his barber, who neglected his usual both the paval and military services of attendance, and prevented bim from his country, he quitted each while young, dining in the college hall. In the mo
ment of disappointment, of hunger, and part sustained by the late Mrs. Erskine impatience, he poured forth this male. (who died December 26, 1805), before diction against the whole race of hair- the cloud Chat overhung their first en. dressers, with a denunciation, prophetic trance ivto life was dissipated, is highly of a future taste for cropping and un- honourable to her feelings. She accome powdered hair.
panied ber husband to Minorca, followed As Mr. Erskine did not enter the uni- bis fortunes with the most cheerful conversity for any academical purpose, but stancy, and, while he was engaged in merely to obtain a degree to which he the pursuits of a laborious profession, was entitled as the son of a nobleman, never suffered any pleasure or amusehe by this means saved two years and ment to interrupt her in the assiduous ! a half in his passage to the bar. His discharge of her domestic duties. education had been previously com• It would be impossible, within the pleted in Scotland, under the guidance limited space of this memoir, to give of his father, one of the most accom- any account of the many celebrated plished of men of his time, who, having causes pleaded by Mr. Erskine, his exuniforinly felt an extraordinary solici. ertions being, for the post part, abtude as to the instruction of his children, sorbed in the transactions of those daily had actually removed from his family occurrences which are discussed in our estate for the purpose of residing near courts of justice, and of most of these: St. Andrews college, where he continued there are no other documents than the for many years. During this time, he journal of the day, from which entire provided for theni a private tutor, one fidelity of statement cannot be exof the most elegant scholars of that part pected. of the island, to assist their studies at Fron no part of his professional en. the school and university, Il was here gagements bas he deserved or acquired that Mr. Erskine pursued the study of an higher reputation, than in bis mode the belles lettres with unremitting ar- of conducting trials for Crim. Con. It dour, and thus had the advantage of ime has frequently fallen to his lot to be bibing from the most eminent professors concerned in behalf of plaintiffs in these of the day, that various and extenderi actions, a circumstance which has given knowledge wbich can never be derived him considerable advantage ; for, be. from books or solitary application. In sides the altention which is sure to be order to acquire a necessary idea of the offered to accusing eloquence, the syin. more mechanical parts of his future pathies of mankiod are naturally in al profession, he was also persuaded, by the liance with him who burls his invective judicious counsels of his friends, to en- against the disturber of domestic peace, ter as a pupil into the office of Judge and the invader of conjugal felicity : Buller, who was then an eininent special and alarming as the frequency of these pleader at the bar.
cases may be, yet the torrent of public During this, and some subsequent pe- licentiousness has received no 'slight riods of his life, Mr. Erskine experienced check from the indignant feelings of the all the difficulties arising out of a very li- world, and the exemplarydamages award. mited income. On March 29, 1770, he exl by juries. To this honourable and had married Frances, dauglicr of Daniel useful end,the eloquence of the advocate Moore, Esq. M.P. and was consequently is greatly subservient. He calls forla obliged to adhere to a most rigid fruga. every slumbering emotion, and every lity of expenditure. On these circum. virtuous sensibility into an active league stances of his history, many of the par, against the crime which he denounces, ticulars have, with great ingenuousness, and Mr. Erskine's speech, in the mebeen mentioned to his friends by Mr. morable causc of Sykes v. Parstor, is Erskine bimself. In reviewing howe still remembered by all who heard it, as ever, the struggles which be has en. an uncommon effori of rhetorical ability. countered, and in contrasting them with He has, however, also been concerned the brilliant prosperity of his later years, in some of these remarkable causes on he must now feel a peculiar gratifica- behail of the defendants. His cxertions tion: because, to an almost in voluntary are well known in the memorable cases impulse, he can alone attribute his ex- of Buldwin against Oliver, tried at York, traordinary, elevation ; owing it rather and the more recent one of Sir Henry to the endowments allotted to him Vane Tempest, ja both of wbich there by nature, tban to the favourable ca- was awarded but onc skilling damages : price or partialitics of fortuge. The aod, on each of these occasions, MA
Erskine did equal service to the cause cedency; and in the same year was of morality aud virtue, by pointing named Attorney-General to the Prince out the infamy of unyoking the fe- of Wales, on his Royal Highness assummale passions from the restraints of ing his establishment on coming of age. conjugal protection, and the ties of do- About this time Mr. Erskine was elected mestic attachment. His speech in the Representative for the borough of Portscause of Howard versus Bingham will mouth; for which he was also unanibe long remembered at the bar, as con- mously re-chosen in every succeeding taining, a most affecting apology for the Parliainent, until raised to the dignity lady, who was married against her con- of a peerage. sent; when her affections had long been In 1802, his Royal Highness the bestowed upon another ; it depicted in Prince of Wales, who some years before the most pathetic eloquence the harsh- had been advised to remove Mr. Erskine Dess and cruelty of chaining to the unc from the office of his Attorney-General yielding disposition of a man whom she for refusing to give up a professional hated, a young and beautiful woman, and retainer at the bar, on the trial of Thofor purposes of family arrangement or mas Paine, not only restored him to the parental ambition, dedicating her life to office, but revived that of Chancellor, a reluctant discharge of duties, the obli- which had been dormant from the degation of which she conld not perceive, cease of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and the conditions of which she could and appointed him by patent to the of. not sustaio. In this speech there is no fice, at the same time also making him apology for vice, but an excuse for Keeper of the Seals of the Duchy of frailty, which is pleaded with great Cornwall. He continued Chancellor to warmth of eloquence, and much energy the Prince of Wales until the 8th of of expression.
February, 1896, when he was appointed For a sketch of the royal and noble Lord High Chanceller of Great Britain, ancestry of Lord Erskine, we must refer and soon afterwards presided in Westour readers to the peerage of Scotland, minster Hall as the Speaker of the House and to the pages of Scottish and English of Lords, on the memorable trial of history, for å record of those elevated Viscount Melville. It ought not to be situations of public trust, which his omitted, that, in 1804, when the ruler Lordship's forefathers have filled in the of the French threatened England with confidence of their respective sovereigns invasion, bis Lordship feeling (to use his as priry councillors and ambassadors- owo words in a reply to the vote of as their guardians during minority, thanks of the Laro Association) “ a just and as Regents of the kingdom of Scot- reverence and affection for the institu. land. The present is not a restoration of tions of our ancestors, and a proper zeal the extinct barony, which, with the to defend them against the invaders of carldom of Mar, was forfeited in 1716; our colatry," was, with one voice, at and of which even, if restored, another its first formation, invited to commaud Branch of the same family, the Erskines that hig'ly respectable corps, and conof Mar, would be the rightful heirs, al- tinued Colonel-Commandant until dithough Lord Erskine is also lincally de- rected by his Majesty to resign bis comseended from the Erskines of Scotland: mission on becoming Chancellor. but was conferred upon his Lordship in On the death of the Marquis of Loconsequence of the high office he was thian, in the spring of 1815, the Prince called upon to fill in the councils of Regent invested Lord Erskine with the his Sovereign, and in the government Most Noble Order of the 'Thistle, a high of the country, in February. 1806. mark of his Royal Highness's regard, His Lordship retains, however, the ori- the other eleven Knights being all Dukes ginal designation of his fainily: a name and Earls of Great Britain. which he has himself ennobled by great No less than five volumes of his talents, sedulously employed in the Lordship's admirable speeches, while courts of judicature, and, above all, by at the bar, have been collected and pubuoshaken fidelity and undeviating at. lished; but, though unquestionably autachment, during all the political storms thentie, they can scarcely be considered of the present era to the cause of con- as a work of which his Lordship may be stitutional liberty.
termed the Author, as they were not Mr. Erskine was called to the bar in written by him, but delivered without 1778; in 1783, was appointed to theCourt having been previously composed. His of King's Beach, with a patent of pre- only avowed publication is a Pamphlet,
IONABLE WASTE OP T31E.
which had an almost unprecedented ternal form of things, por descend with sale, no less than Forly eight Editions our bodies to the tomb : but continue having been printed within a few with us while we exist, accompany as months after its first appearance. It is under all the vicissitudes, noi vols of entitled "A View of the Causes and our natural life, but of that which is to Consequences of the present War with come ; secure us in the darkness of the France," and was published in the year night, and compensate for all the mi1797.
series we are doomed to suffer. Few words are necessary to conclude; -Lord Erskine is a inan whose splendid career at the English bar, is familiar to CONSEQUENCE RESULTING FROM A FAST all ; but, though all may appreciate, it is difficult to describe, the grace, the
The legions of fantastic fashions to beauty, and the copiousness of his clo- which a nan of pleasure is obliged to quence, it was totally unlike any thing sacrifice his time, impair the rational in the same sphere, either before or
faculties of his mind, and destroy the since. The silver tones of his voice...the native energies of his soul. Forced conlightning of hiseye.-- the incessant blaze tinually to lend himself to the performof his imagery;-bis touching appeals ance of a thousand little trifles, a thouto the heart, and his profuse command sand mean absurdities; he becomes by of language, inspired every auditor with habit frivolous and absurd : the face of delight and rapture, or overwhelmed things no longer wears its true and gewith astonishment and terror. Nor was nuine aspect, and his depraved taste bis judgmentless correct than his talents loses all relish for rational entertaiowere brilliant. His prudence and saga. menis, or substantial pleasure : the 196 city, as an Advocate, were as decisive fatuation seizes on his brain, and his as his speeches were splendid. He could corrupted heart teems with idle fancies, discriminate with as much labour of in- and vain imaginations, tellect, as he could illumine by the stores of his inexhaustible fancy. Inclination, no doubt, led him to give full liberty to
ANECDOTE. the excursive powers of his inind; but he had also the rare ability of minute
Charles XIIth, whoni the Turks, when discernment, and profound investiga- incensed by his disobedience to the tion. In short, as an orator, he is a man Grand Seignior, called Head of Iron, formed in the “ prodigality of nature;” shewed early symptoms of his headand, to whomsoever honours may be strong nature : yet, in his childhood, if grudged, they cannot be said to have his preceptor na?ned but glory, any thing been unjustly conferred upon Lord could be obtained from Charles. He had ERSKINE,
C. a very greai aversion to learning Latin ;
but when he was told that the kings of
Poland and Denmark understood it, he THE HIVE.
began to study it in good earuest. No. XXI.
THE streans of inental pleasures, of It is recorded of this gentleman, who
was styled in his day the divine Herbert, take, flow from one to the other; and and who was celebrated for his picty that of which we have most frequently and his poetry, that, being prælector in tasted loses neither its lavour nor its the rhetoric school at Cainbridge, in the virture, but frequently acquires new year 1618, he thought proper to pass charms, and conveys additional pleasure byliie orators of Greece and Rome, and the oftener it is tasted. The subjecis chose to read upon an oration of King of these pleasures are as unbounded as James. In his lecture, he analysed the the reign of truth, as extensive as the parts of the royal speech; he sbewed world, as unlimited as the divise per- their connection, and he pointed out the fections Incorporeal pleasures, there. propriety of the language, and its power fore, are niuch more durable than all to move the affections. He also illas, others; they neither disappear with the trated the beauties of the style, wbich, light of the day, change with the ex- as lic very properly observed, was of a