Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


ORIGINAL PORTRAITS, ETC. ETC. No. I. MR. JOHN KAY. CARICATURIST, ENGRAVER, AND MINIATURE PAINTER. DRAWN BY HIMSELF, 1786. THE following sketch of the life of John Eay was written by himself, with the view, it is believed, of being prefixed to a collection of his works which he had projected :- "JOHNK AY, the author of these Prints, was born in April 1742, in a small house a little south from Dalkeith, commonly called Gibraltar. His father, Mr, John Kay, was a mason in Dalkeith, as well as his two paternal uncles, James and Norman Kay. His mother, Helen Alexander, was heiress to many tenements in Edinburgh and Canongate, out of which she was tricked by the circumvention of some of her own relations. " She had still so much confidence in those relations, however, that upon the death of her husband in 1748, she boarded her only son John, then only six years of age, with one of them, who used him extremely ill, and not only neglected but beat and starved him. While he lived with these savages in Leith, he ran various risks of his life from accidents without doors, as well as from bad usage within ; and there is every reason to believe that they really wished his death, and took every method to accomplish it except downright murder. On one occasion he was blown into the sea from the Ferry-boat Stairs, and on another he fell into the water on stepping across the joists below the Wooden Pier, but recovered himself both times, by grasping the steps on the one occasion, and the joists on the other. But he ran a still greater risk of drowning upon a third occasion, when, happening to be seated on the side of a ship in the harbour, he was accidentally pushed overboard, and being taken up for dead, remained in that condition for some time, till one of the sailors, anxious to see him, in his hurry trampled upon his belly, which immediately excited a groan, B
Volume 8 Page 1
  Enlarge Enlarge  
Volume 8 Page 2
  Enlarge Enlarge