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respect for him—and esteem him likewise. I know him to be a skilful and expert surgeon, and also a good man; and I would go a great length to serve him, if I had it in my power to do so. But I think on this occasion he has spoken rashly, and I fear foolishly and improperly; I hope he had no bad intention-I am sure he had not. But the petitioner (for whom I have likewise a great respect, because I knew his father, who was a very respectable baker in Edinburgh, and supplied my family with bread, and very good bread it was, and for which his aićcounts were regularly discharged), it seems has a Clock or a Beetle, I think it is called a Diamond Beetle, which he is very fond of, and has a fancy for, and the defender has compared it to a Louse, or a Bug, or a Flea, or something of that kind, with a view to render it despicable or ridiculous, and the petitioner so likewise, as the proprietor or owner thereof. It is said that this beast is a Louse in fact, and that the veritas convicii excusat ; and mention is made of a decision in the case of Chalmers against Douglas. I have always had a great veneration for the decisions of your Lordships, and I am sure will always continue to have while I sit here; but that case was determined by a very small majority, and I have heard your Lordships mention it on various occasions, and you have always desiderated the propriety of it, and I think have departed from it in some instances. I remember the circumstances of the case well. : Helen Chalmers lived in Mussel
burgh, and the defender, Mrs. Baillie, lived in Fisherrow, and at that time there was much intercourse between the genteel inhabitants of Fisherrow, and Musselburgh, and Inveresk, and likewise Newbigging, and there were balls, or dances, or assemblies, every fortnight or oftener, and also sometimes I believe every week, and there were card parties, assemblies once a fortnight, or oftener, and the young people danced there also, and others played at cards, and there were various refreshments, such as tea, and coffee, and butter and bread, and I believe, but I am not sure, porter and negus, and likewise small beer; and it was at one of these assemblies that Mrs.Baillie called Mrs. Chalmers a — , or an , and said she had been lying with Commissioner Cardonald, a gentleman whom I knew very well at one time, and had a great respect forhe is dead many years ago. And Mrs. Chalmers brought an action of defamation before the Commissaries, and it came by advocation into this Court, and your Lordships allowed a proof of the veritas convicii, and it lasted a very long time, and in the end answered no good purpose, even to the defender herself, while it did much hurt to the pursuer's character.
I am therefore for REFUSING a proof in this case, and I think the petitioner in this case and his Beetles have been slandered, and the petition ought to be seen.
Lord M-V-N.-If I understand this a-a
interlocutor, it is not said that the are a Egyptian Lice are Beetles, but that they may be, or ema-aa-resemble Beetles. - ós . :: I am therefore for sending the process to the Ordinary, to ascertain the fact, as I think it depends upon that whether there be a--- a-convicium or not. I think also the petitioner should be ordained to a---a--produce his Beetle, and the defender an Egyptian Louse for Pediculus, and that he should take a diligence ama- - to recover Lice of various kinds, and these may be remitted to Doctor Monro, or Mr. Playfair, or to some other naturalist, to report upon the subject.-_AGREED TO.
LETTERS FROM THE HONOURABLE ANDREW
ERSKINE TO JAMES BOSWELL, ESQ.
New Tarbat, Nov. 23, 1961. DEAR BOSWELL,As we never heard that Demosthenes could broil beef-steaks, or Cicero poach eggs, we may safely conclude that these gentlemen understood nothing of cookery. In like manner it may be concluded, that you, James Boswell, and I, Andrew Erskine, cannot write serious epistles. This, as Mr. Tristram saya, I deny; for this letter of mine shall contain the quintessence of solidity ; it shall be a piece of boiled beef and cabbage, a roasted goose,
and a boiled leg of pork and greens: in one word, it shall contain advice, sage and mature advice. Oh, James Boswell! take care and don't break your neck; pray don't fracture your skull, and be very cautious in your manner of tumbling down precipices; beware of falling into coal-pits, and don't drown yourself in every pool you meet with. Having thus warned you of the most material dangers which your youth and inexperience will be ready to lead you into, I now proceed to others, less momentary indeed, but very necessary to be strictly observed. Go not near the Soaping-Club, never mention Drury Lane playhouse; be attentive. to those pinchbeck buckles which fortune has so graciously given you, of which I am afraid you're hardly fond enough ; never wash your face, but above all forswear poetry : from experience I can assure you, and this letter may serve as a proof, that a man may be as dull in prose as in verse; and as dulness is what we aim at, prose is the easiest of the two. Oh, my friend ! profit by these my instructions ; think that you see me studying for your advantage, my reverend locks overshadowing my paper, my hands trembling, and my tongue hanging out, a figure of esteem, affection, and veneration. By heavens, Boswell! I love you more. But this, I think, may be more conveniently expressed in rhyme.
More than a herd of swine a kennel muddy,
More than fat Falstaff lov'd a cup of sack, .
I begin to be afraid that we shall not see you here this winter, which will be a great loss to you, If ever you travel into foreign parts, as Machiavel used to say, every body abroad wi!l require a description of New Tarbat * from you. That you may not appear totally ridiculous and absurd, I shall send you some little account of it. Imagine then to yourself what Thomson would call an interminable plain, interspersed in a lovely manner with beautiful green hills. The Seasons here are only shifted by Summer and Spring. Winter, with his fur cap and his cat-skin gloves, was never seen in this charming retreat. The castle is of Gothic structure, awful and lofty: there are fifty bed-chambers in it, with halls, saloons, and galleries without number. Mr. M 's father, who was a man of infinite humour, caused a magnificent. lake to be made just before the entry of the house. His diversion was to peep out of his window, and see the people who came to visit him skipping through it--for there was no other passage-then he used to put on such huge fires to dry their clothes, that there was no bearing them. He used to declare, that he never
* A wild seat in the Western Highlands of Scotland, surrounded with mountains.