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out intending the least offence, that as the glass circulates at your lordship's table, this topic of conversation will sometimes steal in, provided always there be no ministers present. And even some of these reverend gentlemen I have seen not to dislike the subject. I hope your lordship will excuse this freedom, and believe me to be, with great regard, my lord, your lordship’s most obedient and most humble servant,
David Houe, Whether the Lord Advocate was, or was not, actually opposed to the retention of the three objectionable volumes does not appear for certain; but in a case which shortly thereafter stirred the ecclesiastical courts of Scotland to unwonted excitement, the part which he took favoured the illiberal side of things, and rendered him for the remainder of his life unpopular with the Moderate or intellectual party in the Scottish Church. The case we refer to was that which arose out of the first representation in public of John Home's tragedy of Douglas'-a tragedy usually denominated celebrated,' but this, we may now infer, not so much from any permanent literary quality which it possesses, as from the extraordinary furore which its appearance in Edinburgh created, and the eminent names which were mixed up in the dispute. A number of ministers of the Church witnessed its first representation on the stage; and out of these, Dr. Carlyle of Inveresk was singled for prosecution by the Church courts. Among those who strongly supported Home was Lord Milton, and possibly the mere fact of that - puppy' being prominent on one side decided Dundas to place himself on the other. The Lord Advocate not only joined with those who abused Home for writing the play, but he refused also to use his influence with the Presbytery of Dalkeith to get them to withdraw the invidious prosecution against Dr. Carlyle for his support of Home. This was felt by Carlyle keenly when, referring to Dundas in his * Autobiography,' he says, "a word from him would have
done.' When the case reached the General Assembly, however, there was a vast majority in favour of Carlyle, showing, as he himself remarks, that the opposition to Home was more the result of local illwill and rancour than of any general feeling against him throughout the Church. Home, at the same time, to avoid the risk of deposition, had to resign his living. Notwithstanding all this perhaps somewhat on account of it—the tragedy was listened to and applauded by an appreciative public. The play,' says Carlyle, “had un• bounded success for a great many nights in Edinburgh, ' and was attended by all the literati and most of the
‘judges. There were a few opposers, however, among those who pretended to taste and literature, who endeavoured to
cry down the performance in libellous pamphlets and ballads • (for they durst not attempt to oppose it in the theatre
itself), and were openly countenanced by Robert Dundas of * Arniston, at that time Lord Advocate, and all his minions • and expectants.' Carlyle adds, that the part taken by the Lord Advocate in this affair was not only the cause of the animosity which continued to be felt towards him by the Moderates, but accounted also for the success of certain satirical ballads and pamphlets directed against Dundas some years afterwards.
In 1760 Lord President Craigie died, and the Lord Advocate at once proceeded to London to press upon ministers his claim to the vacant chair, in which mission he was successful, and thus became the second Lord President in the family. His younger brother, Henry Dundas, afterwards Lord Melville, in whose career the power of the family was destined to reach its culminating point, shortly thereafter began to come to the front, and in 1766, at the early age of twenty-four, and when he had been but three years at the bar, was appointed to the important office of Solicitor-General. It can readily be conceived that such appointments as this, and others which we have already mentioned in connexion with the Dundas family, must have awakened no little astonishment and resentment among the older members of the Scottish bar. It is always a disappointing thing for a man of ability and experience to see himself, with hair grown grey in his profession, set aside, even in favour of men of his own grade, on other grounds than that of merit; but when he feels himself compelled to give way to youths whose chins have scarcely yet felt a razor's edge, the disappointment becomes humiliating. And looking back upon the nepotism of the Dundases, we are forced to the conclusion that nothing but the extraordinary ability and talents which had become for a series of generations hereditary in the family, and which enabled them to exercise their office in a way honourable to themselves, and undoubtedly in the end serviceable to the nation--nothing but this, we say, renders contemplation of that systein of nepotism bearable with patience. The second Lord President himself was intensely alive, as his father had been before him, to every influence which could lead to the aggrandisement of his family or the advancement of its members; but he was at the same time a man eminently qualified to be at the head of public affairs. Mr. Omond probably does not overestimate his abilities when he says that
· The second President was probably the greatest judge who ever presided in the Court of Session; certainly as the head of the Supreme Court he was regarded by his compeers as without a rival. He cleared the rolls of court of a vast accumulation of arrears. He paid the most minute attention to the duties of his office. “ For many years," it has been said, “ after he was promoted to be President, I have “ heard it observed by those who attended the House, that he seldom “ or never was mistaken in any fact or circumstance relating to any “ cause." His regard for the honour of the Bench was such that he gained for it fresh dignity in the eyes of the nation. ... The office which he held was always one of great dignity and influence; but during the eighteenth century the President of the Court of Session occupied a position of peculiar power. . . . He was not only a judge, but also one of the regular advisers of Government in matters both of policy and patronage. . . . In this difficult position, combining the functions of the politician and the judge, Dundas succeeded in securing the confidence and admiration of the country.' (Pp. 200, 201.) The first President Dundas occupied the chair of the Court of Session from 1748 to 1753; and the second President Dundas from 1760 to 1787, in which year the latter died, aged seventy-four. The father and son had thus, except for six years, presided continuously over the Supreme Court of Scotland for the long term of forty years.
When the second President Dundas died, he was succeeded in the estate by his son, afterwards known as Lord Chief Baron Dundas. According to Lord Cockburn, this son owed his promotion entirely to family influence, and was a man of inferior powers. But at this juncture a stronger than he took in hand the fortunes of the Arniston family. This was Henry Dundas, the late Lord President's brother, who had become Solicitor-General at the early age of twenty-four. Although his life is not given in detail in this volume, being reserved for a separate publication, it is impossible to pass him by in silence; for he is, after all, the prominent figure in the Dundas annals. He had been Solicitor-General and Lord Advocate in the Government of Lord North; and when he took his place in Parliament as representative of Midlothian, it was not long before he distinguished himself by his powers of debate and the intellectual resources which he had at command. He served also under Rockingham, and, after bim, under Shelburne, who gave him, in addition to the office of Lord Advocate, the Treasurership of the Navy and the whole patronage of Scotland. He ceased to hold office under the Coalition Government; but when, in 1783,
Pitt became Prime Minister, Dundas resumed the Treasurership of the Navy. During the next seventeen years he was at the pinnacle of power in Scotland. "Henry Dundas,' says Lord Cockburn, was the Pharos of Scotland. Who steered - upon him was safe; who disregarded his light was wrecked. • It was to his nod that every man owed what he had got, and
looked for what he wished. During the first half of the century, and later, the Dundases had been in the Whig interest, and for a time were the acknowledged leaders of that interest in Scotland. But in Henry Dundas's time theside of the Tories was espoused; and he, both before and after he became Lord Melville, opposed reform of all kinds, both burghal and parliamentary-became, indeed, the antagonist of every popular measure. He gathered unto himself the accumulated prestige of four generations of eminent and influential predecessors, and Scotland scarcely ever saw before, and has never seen since, any one man who held in his own hands such wealth of power and patronage. But in 1805 his political career was suddenly brought to a close. A Commission of the House of Commons, which had been appointed to inquire into certain frauds and abuses which were said to exist in the management of the affairs of the navy, issued a report in which were contained grave charges against Lord Melville. An impeachment was resolved upon, and in the following year Lord Melville was put on his trial before the House of Lords. On all the articles of the impeachment he was acquitted-on one unanimously, and on the others by majorities. But it was practically the end of his career. Sir Walter Scott, in a letter to Ellis before the trial, wrote: 'I own Lord Mel• ville's misfortune affects me deeply. ... I have seen when • the streets of Edinburgh were thought by the inhabitants . almost too vulgar for Lord Melville to walk upon; and now * I fear that, with his power and influence gone, his presence • would be accounted by many, from whom he has deserved
other thoughts, an embarrassment, if not something worse. • All this is very vile—it is one of the occasions when Pro
vidence, as it were, industriously turns the tapestry, to let 'us see the ragged ends of the worsted which compose its
most beautiful figures. When the hour of Lord Melville's acquittal came, Scott was among the foremost of those who celebrated his triumph by a great banquet in Edinburgh; but the song which he wrote for the occasion, and which was sung by his friend and printer, James Ballantyne, was VOL. CLXVI. NO. CCCXL.
too scornfully jubilant,' and brought no little ill will upon the poet's head.
Lord Chief Baron Dundas of Arniston had during the lifetime of his uncle been somewhat overshadowed by Lord Melville's greatness. After the death of the latter, however, and when the chair of the Presidentship of the Court of Session had been rendered vacant by the death of its possessor, the Prince Regent and the Ministry were, in 1811, most desirous that the Chief Baron should have the appointment. The second Lord Melville wrote a long letter in which he urged him to accept the higher office; but after some correspondence the matter fell through, and he continued in his office of Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer.
It is not necessary to follow the fortunes of the family through more recent times; but we cannot omit reference to an interesting correspondence which passed in 1826 between the second Lord Melville and Sir Robert Dundas. This bad reference to Sir Walter Scott's opposition, as · Malachi Mala'growther,' to the proposal at that time made by Government to abolish the one-pound note in Scotland. The papers which Malachi wrote on the subject had evidently given great offence to Lord Melville, who, by way of reply, writes a long letter to Dundas but at Sir Walter. He had heard with sincere regret that Malachi's letters were from the pen of Sir Walter Scott. He strongly condemns the “in
flammatory tendency' of the letters, and thinks it is impossible to regard their arguments as addressed to reason and common sense; they are directed to the passions of the ignorant and illiterate.' 'I little thought,' he continued, if Sir Walter Scott is really the author of these letters, that he would ever have been found to be dabbling in such an 'impure stream.' Dundas forwarded the letter to Sir Walter, who replies through the same channel. The reply is written with vigour and manly straightforwardness, while many happy turns are given to the charges made against him. * I am perfectly aware, Sir Walter says, 'that the pamphlet ' was warmly written, but its subject was warmly felt; and 'I would not call a blister inflammatory merely because it • awakened the patient.'
I own,' he goes on to say, my intention regarded the present question much less than to try if it were possible to raise Scotland a little to the scale of consideration from which she has greatly sunk. I think that John Hume mentions that Hepburn of Keith, a private gentleman of pleasant manners and high accomplishments, was regretted by the Whigs as having induced him to sacrifice himself to a