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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 37
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 29 his career. He soon became one of the most popular men of his day in the city-esteemed for the generosity and benevolence of his disposition, respected for his worth, and admired for his genius and talents. Amongst the innumerable schemes for the benefit of the destitute, and of suffering humanity in all its forms of misery, which this excellent man either suggested or promoted, the most conspicuous was the establishment of a fund for the widows of the clergy of the Church of Scotland ; an institution which owes its existence chiefly to his benevolence, and its admirable system to his singular powers of arithmetical calculation, a department of intellectual labour in which he greatly excelled. With all his other popular qualities, Dr. Webster possessed a great degree of firmness and intrepidity of character, of which he exhibited a very striking instance when the rebels were in possession of Edinburgh. At that crisis, when most other men of his political sentiments and notoriety would have sought safety in silence or retirement, he, boldly mounted his pulpit, and employed his eloquence in denouncing the cause of the Chevalier, and in urging his hearers to retain their fidelity to the House of Hanover. Nor was his genius, sound judgment, and excellent taste, recognised only in matters connected with his clerical capacity. They were so well known, and so highly appreciated, that he was uniformly consulted by the magistrates of Edinburgh in all public undertakings. Dr. Webster was married to Miss Mary Erskine, a young lady of fortune, daughter of Colonel John Erskine (brother of Sir Charles Erskine of Alva, Bart.), by Euphemia, daughter of William Cochrane, Esq., of Ochiltree. She was nearly related to the family of Dundonald, and was courted by some of the first Peers of the realm. This connexion originated in a somewhat curious manner, During his residence at Culross, Mr. Webster was employed by a friend to procure for him the good graces of Miss Erskine, who then resided at Valleyfield, in the neighbourhood. This duty he faithfully performed, and urged his friend‘s suit with all the eloquence he was master of, but to no purpose. At length, wearied with his importunities in the cause of another, and at the same time prepossessed by his own figure and accomplishments, both of which were eminently attractive, Miss Erskine plumply remarked to him, ‘I You would come better speed, Sandy, if you would speak for yourself;” and on this hint Mr. Webster did indeed speak, and to such purpose, that they were shortly afterwards married. This union, though thus brought about by a circumstance somewhat out of rule on the lady’s part, was a happy one-Dr. Webster’s affection for his wife never suffering the slightest abatement of that ardour so forcibly expressed in the following stanza, addressed to her soon after their marriage :- “ When I see thee I love thee, but hearing adore, I wonder, and think you a woman no more, Till, mad with admiring, I cannot contain, And, kissing those lips, find you woman again.” I
Volume 8 Page 38
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