Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


34 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. ‘‘ Ladies are requested to come early, in order to be agreeably accommodated with seats, as the Lecture will be$n exactly at Seven o’clock. “ N.B.-Dr. G. has not the least intention of lecturing any more for several years in Edinburgh than the above four nights; and if the Chapel is not pretty full the two first nights, he will not repeat the lecture as proposed the two last nights, viz. on Wednesday and Thursday ; and as the shilling paid for admission can only defray the various expenses, Dr. G. hopes that the inhabitants of Edinburgh will esteem these lectures as very great and important favours conferred upon them. “ December, 1 7 8 3. “All Dr. G.’s books and pamphlets are to be had at the Doctor’s house, and at Mr. Brown’s, bookseller, Bridge Street.” While his Temple of Health was in its glory, it cannot be doubted that such an exhibition, lauded as it was on all hands in the most extravagant terms, must have produced a great deal of money in such a city as London, where every species of quackery is sure to meet with support and ehcouragement ; but Doctor Graham, instead of realising a fortune, deeply involved himself by the great expense he was put to in maintaining the establishment in proper splendour. In his own expenditure he was very moderate ; for he not only abstained from wine, spirits, and all strong liquors, but even from animal food-and, consistently with this mode of life, he recommended the same practice to others ; and whilst confined in the Jail of Edinburgh, for his attack on the civic authorities, he preached-Sunday, August 17, 1783-a discourse upon Isaiah, XI. 6, “All flesh is grass;” in which he strongly inculcates the propriety of abstinence from animal food. In this odd production, of which two editions were afterwards published, he says, “ I bless God ! my friends ! that he has given me grace and resolution to abstain totally from flesh and blood-from all liquors but cold water and balsamic milk-and from all inordinate sensual indulgences. Thrice happy ! supremely blessed is the man who, through life, abstains from these things ; who, like me, washes his body and limbs every night and morning with pure cold water-who breathes continually, summer and winter, day and night, the free open cool air-and who, with unfeigned and active benevolence towards every thing that hath life, fears and worships God in sincerity and in truth.” In addition to the peculiarities pointed out by the Doctor in his discourse, he dissented in many other respects from the ordinary usages of mankind. He wore no woollen clothes ; he slept on a hair-mattress, without feather-bed or blankets, with all the windows open ; he said, and perhaps with some degree of truth, that most of our diseases are owing to too much heat :-and he carried his cool regimen to such an extent, that he was in terms with the tacksman of the King‘s Park, for liberty to build a house upon the top of Arthur’s Seat, in order to try how far he could bear the utmost degree of cold that the climate
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 35 of Edinburgh affords ; but, though the tacksman was willing, the noble proprietor would not listen to the project. Amongst other eccentric plans recommended to his patients was that of earthbathing,- which was neither more nor less than burying them alive up to the neck in the earth, in which position they were to remain for ten or twelve hours. He tried this extraordinary remedy upon himself and one of his daughters, and actually induced his brother-in-law to follow their example. Other persons were also found simple enough to submit to this new species of temporary sepulture. In 1787, this singular being appeared in a new character, as a special delegate from Heaven to announce the Millennium. He not only styled himself “ The Servant of the Lord, 0. W. L.” i.e. “ Oh, Wonderful Love,” but attempted to begin a new chronology-dating his bills such a day of the first month of the New Jerusalem Church ; but before the coming of the second month the prophet was, by order of the Magistrates, put under restraint, not indeed in prison, but in his own house, from whence he, some months afterwards, removed to the north of England. His religious frenzy appears to have lasted some time; and we learn from the following extract, copied from the Whitehawen Packet, that a year afterwards his mind still wandered :- “ JVHITEHAVEN-Tuesday morning’ Dr. James Graham was sent off to Edinburgh in the custody of two constables. This unfortunate man had, for some days past, discovered such marks of insanity as made it advisable to secure him.‘-August 22, 1788.“ His death took place somewhat suddenly, in his house, opposite to the Archers’ Hall, upon the 23d June 1794-it was occasioned by the bursting of a bloodvessel. He was buried in the Greyfriars’ churchyard, Edinburgh. His widow survived him about seven years, and died at Ardwick, near Manchester, in the year 1801. His circumstances during the latter period of his existence were far from affluent. To one of his publications, however, he was indebted for an annuity of fifty pounds for life j for it happened that a gentleman in Geneva, who had perused it, found his health so much improved by following the advice of its author, that, out of gratitude, he presented him with a bond for the yearly payment of that sum. With all his eccentricities, he had a benevolent and charitable disposition, and his conduct towards his parents was exemplary. Even when in his “ hi& and palmy state,” he paid them every attention. Whilst in Edinburgh, he took ’ Whether he ever got entirely quit of his religious fancies, is uncertain ; and in a very complete and curious collection of tracts, advertisements, etc., by, or relative to, Dr. Graham, occurring in the late Mr. John Stevenson’a sale catalogue for 1825, there is a “manuscript written expressly for Dr. Graham, regarding his religiow concerns, by Benjamin Dockray, a Quaker at Newtoun, near Carlisle, in 1790,” which would seem to indicate that hia mind, on that head, waa not at that date entirely settled.
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