1891 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Kames

George Birkbeck Hill, Note in Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791); ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 2:230n.



Lord Kames (Sketches of the History of Man, iv. 168) says: — "The undisciplined manners of our forefathers in Scotland made a law necessary, that whoever intermeddled irregularly with the goods of a deceased person should be subjected to pay all his debts, however extensive. A due submission to legal authority has in effect abrogated that severe law, and it is now [1774] scarce heard of." Scott introduces Lord Kames in Redgauntlet, at the end of chap. 1 of the Narrative: — "'What's the matter with the auld bitch next?' said an acute metaphysical judge, though somewhat coarse in his manner, aside to his brethren." In Boswell's poem The Court of Session Garland, where the Scotch judges each give judgment, we read:—

Alemore the judgment as illegal blames,
"'Tis equity, you bitch," replies my Lord Kames.

Chambers's Traditions of Edinburgh, ii. 161. Mr. Chambers adds (p. 171) that when Kames retired from the Bench, "after addressing his brethren in a solemn speech, in going out of the door of the court room, he turned about, and casting them a last look, cried, in his usual familiar tone, 'Fare ye a' weel, ye bitches.'"