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been, indefatigable in their exertions the proceeding, viz. their application for this purpose. Witness the jobbery in form to the Town Council, that they about the Lord-Rectorships at Glas- express themselves plainly, proposing gow and Aberdeen, and Jeffrey's grand that Mr Macvey Napier, the present humbug speech at the former Univer- lecturer, shall be the first professor. sity; witness the late affair of the My principal object in addressing Edinburgh Academy, which every bo- you, is to submit the reasons which I dy sees is just a plan to make the To- did not dare, from the fear of starvaries do the Whigs' work. The Sena- tion, to utter in the Faculty, but which tus Academicus of Edinburgh, by the induced me to vote with the majority constant and unremitting exertions of against Mr Cranstoun's motion; and this indefatigable party, is now nearly this I do, because my reasons differ esequally divided, and the importance of sentially from those given by the pera thrusting in one oppositionist can only sons who spoke on the question. Bebe thoroughly known to those who an- fore proceeding, however, I think it ticipate the effects of this great scheme, right to mention, that the Lord Prewhich, next to ministerial power, is sident informed these ambitious genthe main object of the Whigs.
tlemen, that he did not conceive the I need not tell you that, with their matter was one in which the Court usual cunning, the Whigs kept this was called upon to give an opinion. out of view, and gave the glory of the When the proposal was first laid beproposal entirely to their cat's paws, fore the Faculty, they were of opinion The Tory commissioners...
that a report of the committee appointAccordingly, a proposal was drawn ed to consider a former proposal of the up, and submitted to the Court of Sese same sort, made in 1796, should be resion and the Faculty of Advocates. It is printed. This report contained many important to observe what this proposal solid objections against the erection of was. It was not a request that these such a professorship at all. It was held bodies should give the sanction of their that there was no occasion for a divia approbation generally to the utility of a sion of the subjects of law and conveycourse of lectures on conveyancing, or ancing; that the lectures on the feuto the advantage to be gained by such dal law, the most important branch of course being delivered in the Univer- the course of municipal law already sity. No doubt the application was so established in the University, must worded as to lead at first sight to a be- necessarily embrace the leading doclief that this was all that was asked ; trines of conveyancing ; while lecand due pains were taken both in the tures on conveyancing would sink into outset, and in the after proceedings in a mere dead letter, unless a complete the Faculty, to keep out of view the course of feudal law were delivered by real nature of the demand. It peeps the lecturer-so that the one chair out, however, even in the very first must necessarily interfere with the application to the Court and Faculty, other. This is a proposition which it and it is truly this: That their chair is impossible to deny; and when it is of conveyancing as at present existing, stated, that it was maintained by Dean together with the gentleman who at of Faculty Henry Erskine, * Mr Ada present sits in it, should forthwith beam Rolland, Mr John Pringle, Mr A. transferred to the University. With- Balfour, Mr Solicitor-General (Blair), out this stipulation the Whigs would Mr G. Fergusson (Lord Hermand,) never have been satisfied, well know- Mr C. Boswell (Lord Balmuto,) Mr ing that if the proposal had been mere- A. F. Tytler (Lord Woodhouselee,) ly prospective, the object of a Whig Mr W. (now Lord) Robertson, and vote in the University would have been Mr D. (now Baron) Hume, I should at best but problematical. According- humbly suppose it was entitled to ly the committee state, that they have some respect, especially as it was unagain resolved to solicit the boon of a animously adopted by the Faculty. University chair for their lectureship. At length, on a reconsideration of this But it is not until the very last step of report, which is a most able one, toge
It is curious that Mr Erskine's name is kept out of vicw, and only his title, Dean of Faculty, given in the printed papers. While Mr Blair's name is given, as well as his title. There is a reason for this.
ther with an answer by the Knights braical forinula, which, when known, Commissioners, the Faculty met to enables the calculator to answer proexpress their opinion on this matter. blems beyond the reach of the ordiThe real proposition before them was nary arithmetician; (but he did not this, That the Society of Writers to say why this trick, which, when known, the Signet should have the exclusive makes the matter so plain, could not patronage of a professorship of law in be taught by the lecturer on Scots law the University ; that the professor as well as by a separate professor). should be eligible only from the body Then he gave us a fine tirade upon of Writers to the Signet; and that the baseness and degradation of allowthe present lecturer should be the first ing politics to interfere with the matprofessor. This, I say, was the real ter, and concluded with moving the proposal. Mr Cranstoun was the per- two propositions already quoted, in the son selected to support it; and surely following words :no one could have come forward for “1. That the Institution of a course of the purpose with so good a chance of Lectures on Conveyancing, is calculated to success. The high estimation in which improve the system of Legal Education in he is so justly held by all his brethren, this country, and thereby to produce recreated a prepossession in his favour. sults beneficial to the community. His mild, and yet manly eloquence,
“ 2. That the benefits of such a Course had its due effect, and, I doubt not,
would be more extensive, if a Chair in the blinded many of his hearers to the real
University were obtained for the Lecturer." object in view, and increased the num Then we had an assertion from the bers of the minority. But his motion professor of Scots law, that he would was of a very different nature from the not lose a shilling by the affair. Whereal proposal of the Writers. He mo ther he meant by this, that he was not ved, that a set of lectures on convey afraid of interference of the courses, or ancing is a very good and useful thing, that he was undaunted by the talents and that it might be still more bene- of the intended lecturer, I know not. ficial if a chair in the University were Perhaps he wishes to be relieved of the obtained for the lecturer. This, you trouble of delivering the feudal lecsee, is quite safe and general. Many tures, or perhaps he thinks that many a one inight agree in these proposi- students, upon measuring the talents tions, who would deny the propriety of the two professors, will not be drawn of giving the Writers the exclusive from his class by the delivery of anelection and eligibility, and who might other set of lectures on the same subhave still stronger objections to the ap- ject. pointment of any man already elected. The Tories who spoke, stuck fast
But I wish to give you an idea of to the reasons given in the old report, some of the reasons urged by Mr Cran- with one exception. One gentleman stoun in defence of his motion. I do declared, that he never would consent not pretend to give you his words, to yield the right of the Faculty to which were certainly, to my mind, the patronage of all professorships of much more effective than his argu law, which were or might be estaments. In the first place, he made some blished. Here I agree with him. The most unnecessary observations on the Faculty were the original and only importance of conveyancing as a branch authorized teachers of law. Every of law, and upon the advantages to be one acquainted with the early history derived from methodical study of it. of our courts, knows that these WriNobody disputes that it is a useful ters to the Signet were not originally branch of legal knowledge. But the even practitioners in our courts, exquestion is, whether it cannot be taught cept in so far as their signature was by the professor of law already appoint- required to those judicial steps which ed? Mr Cranstoun went on to tell us, necessarily pass the King's Signet. The that no lawyer of ten years standing was original agents were the servants (as fit to understand a progress of titles. they were termed) of Advocates; young That he himself, when a progress was men destined for the bar, whose legal sent to him for an opinion, used to education consisted in attendance in feel a cold sweat break out upon him; the chambers of some counsel, and but then he informed us, that the se- who derived their right of agenting cret of unravelling such a progress is all causes, as it is now termed, from the a knack. He compared it to an alge- necessity of waiting upon their instructors in the courts—a privilege may be, no erample of a separate chair still retained by their representatives, for that extremely subordinate branch the Advocates' first clerks. This admi- of legal knowledge which goes by the rable system of tuition, (which might, name of Conveyancing. I say, thereI think, be restored with great advan- fore, before I agree with these people, tage in our own days) having been drop- I must see better grounds. ped, the Faculty, to supply its place, ob- And truly some of the grounds statained chairs in the University, for the ted by the commissioners are odd instruction of youth in civil and muni- enough. One of the strongest depends cipal law. And, as these two chairs upon the success the scheme has met embrace the whole law, it would mani. with as it now exists.-" The Society festly be an encroachment upon the have the satisfaction of stating, that, rights of the Faculty to subdivide the to an increasing concourse of students, study, and take out of the bands of of various descriptions, that gentleman their professor any part of the subject (Mr Macvey Napier) has delivered sewhich is entrusted to him. If such a veral courses of lectures, in which he doctrine were admitted, the existing has shewn that his talents and acquirechair might be ruined, by turning ments have eminently qualified him over to new professors, first one branch, for the situation in which they have and then another, until nothing of had the good fortune to place him."his subject might be left. Why not It might be a curious subject of inhave a lecturer on teinds, on crimin quiry, whether this immense concourse nal law, on revenue law, on commer- of students was drawn together by the cial law, on consistorial law, &c. ? - talents of the lecturer, and the utility Somebody urged that this would be of the course, or by a certain regulaan advantage. No doubt each branch tion which compels each candidate for might be more fully taught, but how adınission to the Society of Writers to much would be left to the proper pro- the Signet, to take out one or more fessor ? I care not what the present tickets for the course. Be this as it Professor of Law thinks of it; I say that may; if the course is so eminently usesuch an arrangement was never heard ful, and so well attended, it does not of. The tuition of the whole law is clearly occur to me where the strong entrusted to one person. If he cannot necessity exists for making a profescomprize the whole subject in one sorship of it, unless it be for the agcourse of lectures, let him give two, grandizement of the Society of Writers three, or four; and if he does not teach to the Signet, which is, in truth, the it sufficiently in detail, let other lectu- object of the Tory friends of the mearers supply that in which he is defin sure, or for that of the present incumcient, but not as professors. There is bent, which is the aim of the Whigs. no reason why the teacher of a branch Mr Cranstoun told us that none but of a science should be a professor. In an experienced Writer to the Signet the medical and philosophical sciences, could teach this abstruse science, and there are innumerable independent and that no one could acquire it without separate lecturers, who may teach the such tuition, unless he should get a details, while the professors of those glimpse of the new algebraical light to sciences give merely the grand and ge- which he alluded. I have conversed neral outlines of the subject.- Thus with many Writers to the Signet upon you have lectures on diseases of the the subject, and am inclined to agree eye, the ear, &c.-lectures on galvan- with Mr Cranstoun, that a Writer to ism-electricity-dynamics, &c.; but the Signet has the best means of teaching surely it would be absurd to erect new conveyancing. But I have met with chairs in the Universities for such none who ever derived benefit from atcourses. There can then be no objec- tendance on public lectures on the subtion to the continuance of such a course ject ;-it is at the desk that it must be of lectures as the present in the Signet learned, or nowhere. But if it is to be Library. But I must see better grounds taught by a professor, I confess I do for placing it in the University; par- not see any good reason for excluding ticularly, seeing (what however was an Advocate from such a chair. I shall studiously kept out of view by Mr be told that his particular branch of Cranstoun and Mr Bell, that through- business is incompatible with a thoout the whole of the Universities of rough knowledge of deeds. But if conEUROPE, there is, whatever else there stant practice in conveyancing is essen
tial to a thorough knowledge of the view. And it was a complete piece of subject, I conceive a lawyer quite as humbug to pretend that politics were adequate to teach it, as a writer not in not to interfere in the question. constant practice. In fact, the last lec- Had the question been brought forturer on conveyancing thought it add- ward in a fair, manly, and open way, ed to his respectability to take the ad- the case would have been quite differvocate's gown; and when he was un ent. Had the proposal been, that, afable to lecture, the Society of Writers ter the present incumbency, the course to the Signet allowed another advocate should be transferred to the Universito teach in his place; and it is believed ty; or suppose Mr Napier had signi. better and more useful lectures never fied his resignation, in order that the were delivered than on this occasion. question might be discussed without But we may safely maintain, that an bias, I verily think it would not have advocate in practice may teach conveybeen fair to have allowed politics to ancing as well as a person who does interfere, although, in this latter case, not practise conveyancing at all ; nay, it is evident, from the high estimation the chief part of whose time is devo- in which we are told Mr Napier stands, ted, and usefully devoted, to the study that he would have been re-elected. of title pages rather than title deeds Still, this course would have been so to the distribution of books in the li- manly and honourable, that however brary of the Society of Writers to the much I dislike Mr Napier's politics, Signet-to the collection and arrange- and however aware of the danger which ment of materials for a supplement to I foresee from the projected monopoly a superannuated Encyclopædia—to cri- of education by his party, I should ticism-to the discovery of new in- have been much inclined to vote for formation as to the scope and tendency his re-election, But as the matter of Lord Bacon's Writings-a new tune stood, I saw no occasion, for one, to on the Novum Organum-and other give the sanction of my approbation to such employment.
the Whig Mr Napier being made a And this leads me to my last and professor under the cover of two genestrongest ground of objection to this ral propositions, declaring simply that proposal, which, in spite of Mr Cran- conveyancing is a useful study, and stoun, I will confess is political. I ought to be taught by a professor rahave as great a respect for Mr Cran- ther than a lecturer. I confess I was stoun as any Whig at the bar, and a somewhat surprised that no one gave much greater respect for him than for this as the best and true reason for voany other Whig at the bar. But I was ting against Mr Cranstoun's propositruly sorry to hear him making a ha- tion. It is, I think, a reason of which rangue about the baseness of voting nobody needs to be ashamed. But I upon this measure from political mo- suppose they were all cowed by the tives. Did he not know that almost thunders of declamation against polievery one member of the Faculty who tics, which was as politic à device as voted with bim voted wholly and solely can well be conceived. However, nota from political motives? Did he not withstanding the absence of a great know, that if a Tory gentleman had number of those who expressed them. been lecturer on conveyancing, the sclves against the measure, and the whole measure would have been stige presence of every retainer of whigmatized as a dirty Tory job? Did he gery who could be laid hold of, a manot know that one-half of the persons, jority voted against Mr Cranstoun's who, along with him, appeared to be motion. so earnest and anxious for the honour This was communicated to the Writers and glory of the Society of Writers to by the Dean of Faculty, and a most exthe Signet, have upon other occasions traordinary application followed. The declaimed against the pushing and stri- Faculty were requested by the Writers ding system of that body-have come to the Signet to send them an extract plained of the privilege granted to of the minutes of their meeting on the then by the Court of having seats in subject, together with any reasons of the Inner-House set apart for thein, DISSENT which might be lodged against &c.? It is absurd to deny that this the resolution of the Faculty. The measure would have been scouted by Faculty were told it would be rude and the very men who supported it, if it impolite to refuse this most unheardhad not been for the political object in of request. The majority of a body reject a proposition ; a few of that body rity publish their reasons of dissent. differ with them, and have the privi- This story of the refusal of the Faculty, lege of recording their reasons. The and of the surreptitious proceeding rereasons of the majority are never en- lative to the reasons of dissent, was of tered upon their record. But it is mo- course concealed in the printed statedestly expected that the majority are ment laid before the Magistrates, and to furnish the persons whose proposi- circulated among the members of the tion is rejected, with the reasons against Society of Writers to the Signet, where their own resolution, in order to be these reasons of dissent first were pubprinted, published, and circulated. I lished. But, notwithstanding, I am need not tell you that such a proposal happy to say, the Town-Council were was rejected by a very large majority. not influenced by them, but gave its Somebody remarked, however, that it due effect to the opinion of the majowas competent to any member of the rity of the Faculty, by unanimously Faculty to get a copy of these reasons rejecting the application altogether; of dissent; and certainly some member and I shall not be much surprised to of the Faculty condescended to do that learn, that some of the worthy Tories, which was refused by the body at who lent the sanction of their names to large; and, still more extraordinary, the proposal, are not much distressed the Writers to the Signet did not he by the result. sitate to print and circulate that which There are some other subjects to they had thus clandestinely, and, I ra- which I shall from time to time draw ther think, improperly obtained. Had your attention, and which may be well they not taken this extraordinarycourse, and usefully classified under the head I should not have troubled you on this which I have adopted as the title of occasion. But I think I have a right this letter.- Believe me, ever yours, to give my reasons of adherence to the
FRANCISCULUS Funk.* opinion of the majority, if the mino- Shakeham, July 26.
TAIL-PIECE. [We owe some apology to our readers for taking up so much room with a subject which many of them will, of course, regard as very local and very trivial too. But the fact is, that we were pleased with the vein of this young contributor ; and it also is a fact, that this vile, pluckless system, has gone on much too long in Edinburgh. We flatter ourselves that we have done some good by our papers about the New High School ; and certain fine gentlemen may depend on it, these papers are not brought to a close yet. We also flatter ourselves that we shall hear no more of making Mr Macvey Napier a Professor in the University of Edinburgh. NE SUTOR ULTRA CREPIDAM.
Conveyancing, in England, is in the hands, not of the Solicitors, but of the Bar. Yet, what would even such men as Preston say, if they heard people talking of a Professorship (we believe they would laugh even to hear of a Lectureship) of Conveyancing ?-C. N.]
* I was christened after Mr Jeffrey, by my father, who was one of the Pluckless.