Scotland became thereby free. " Dear Lord Hailes was on the side of liberty," Johnson wrote to Boswell. 1 He would have loved him still more for the tenderness of heart which, unlike so many of his brethren, he showed on the Bench. " When called to pass sentence of death he addressed the unfortunate convicts in a pathetic, dignified strain of piety and commiseration that made a deep impression on the audience." : Many of the old judges, as is shown by the stories recorded of them, were in criminal trials little better than ruffians in ermine. If " robes and furred gowns hide all," in many a case they had far more cruelty to cover than the un- fortunate prisoner had been guilty of who was sent to the gallows. Lord Hailes, with all his kindness, was by no means faultless as a judge. He too often allowed his pedantry to override his good sense. This failing in his friend, Boswell took off in his comic poem The Court of Session Garland :
" ' This cause,' cries Hailes, ' to judge I can't pretend, for justice, I perceive, wants an e at the end.' "
According to Dr. Robert Chambers " a story was told of his once making a serious objection to a law-paper, and in consequence Lord Braxfield, one of the ruffian judges, but a man of strong mind, "hearing him praised as a good judge, said, in his vulgar way, ' Him ! he knows nothing but the nooks of a cause.' He was not without his crotchets. One day when he sat as President, he reprimanded a lawyer very sharply for making a ludicrous applica- tion of some text in the Gospels or Epistles. ' Sir,' said he, ' you may take liberties with the Old Testament, but I will not suffer you
As an historian he had considerable merits. Johnson revised the proof-sheets of his Annals of Scotland, and found them "a new mode of history in our language." "They are very exact," he added, " but they contain mere dry particulars. They are to be considered as a Dictionary. You know such things are there, and may be looked at when you please." 5 Gibbon praised him as "a diligent collector, and an accurate critic ; " but he complained that when he came to criticise "the two invidious chapters" in the Decline and Pall, " he scrutinized each separate passage with the
��, iii. 212, 216. 4 Scotland and Scotsmen, &c., i. 397, 407.
'* Scotland and Scotsmen, &c. , i. 398. 5 BoswelVsfofinson, ii. 383, iii. 404.
3 Traditions of Edinburgh, ed. 1825, ii. 161.