Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/103

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SIR GEORGE LOCKHART. 473

king, that he, having been bedrid of a broken leg when the rest were debarr'd, shunn'd to have himself debarr'd, or publicly to own the appeal ; though to se- cure such as had, he declared that he would not return to his employment without them. Which not satisfying Sir George Lockhart, who pressed still that Sir George Mackenzie should be debarr'd, lie was content, in a letter un- der his hand, to oblige himself in those terms ; but this letter not having satis- fied, and he being prest, merely to satisfy Sir George Lockhart's private humour, he called for his former letter, and wrote in a postscript these words t ' But if I enter, and put myself in the same condition with the rest, I do de- clare this letter, and all the obligations therein, to be void and not obligatory. 1 And having owned the appeal with a very undaunted courage, did from that hour despise that party which had jealous'd him, after so many proofs of his courage and fidelity, to please a little creature, who had never follow'd them, but his own passion, to which he and they were become such slaves, that they had thereby lost the glory and reputation of impartial reformers, which had so much recommended them at first, while they followed Sir George Mackenzie's disin- terested advices." Mackenzie then adds a circumstance, which will hardly diminish the suspicion of his tortuous conduct in the business, although it may shed a ray of additional light on the causes of his rancour towards Lockhart. This is the letter from which the party concluded Sir George Mackenzie to be guilty of per- jury, in having entered before the rest ; dispersing copies of the letter, without the postscript, because they knew the postscript destroyed their malicious pre- tences. Before the day which the court had named as the last for receiving the submission of the recusant advocates, a document, couched in the form of a petition, but steadily vindicating the right of appeal for remeid of law, was presented to the privy council. This very valuable paper, which has been pre- served at full length by Mackenzie, is full of legal knowledge, and clear concise reasoning ; it had, however, to strive, not only against power, but also against precedent ; no clear established law could be found on which to rest the right of appeal, and a course of ingenious special pleading had to be derived from implication, and the plea that the court of session was a distinct body from the daily session of old, which, being a committee of parliament set apart for the purpose of saving the time and trouble of the main body, would have defeated its end by the admission of appeals. The grand constitutional argument of a check on the venality of judges, could only be hinted at under the cloak of de- ference and submission to the royal authority ; and the petitioners thought it prudent to terminate their certainly firm and manly statement of their rights, with the concession, that " as the petitioners acknowledge there are eminent lawyers upon the session, of deserved reputation ; so if the lords of session, by an act of sederunt, or otherwise, will plainly and clearly declare that protesta- tions for remeid of law, to his majesty and estates of parliament, were and are in themselves unlawful, and that the parliament cannot thereupon review and rescind their decreets, if they find just cause ; the petitioners will so far defer to their authority, as to be concluded thereby, and satisfy what was prescribed and required by the lords of session as to that point." Mackenzie was induced to sign this petition : he says, " Sir George Lockhart's love of money making him weary of that love to revenge, he persuaded the appealers (for so all the adherers were called) to give in an address to the privy council ; but so bitter and humorous, that Sir George Mackenzie though he had concur'd in furnishing materials and argument, did with some others dissent from it ; till they were again conjur'd, by some of their comrades, not to make a rupture, at a time wherein their fixt adherence to one another was their only security." 3 The

3 With the petulant remarks on Lockhart, so plentifully scattered through the above in. s o