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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


. B I 0 GRAPH I CA L SKETCHES. 9 No. 111. FRANCIS WNAB, ESQ. OF M'NAB. SCOTLANaDbo, ut the close of the eighteenth century, contained few men of greater local notoriety than the herculean Highlander, whom Mr. Kay has here represented in the act of reeling along the North Bridge, a little declined from the perpendicular. " The Laird of M'Nab," as he was commonly called, represented his clan at a time when the ancient peculiarities of the manners and ideas of a Highland chief were melting into a union with those of a Lowland gentleman. A strong dash of the primitive character, joined to much natural eccentricity, tended to make him a wonder in the midst of the cultivated society of his day. To complete the effect of his singular manners, his person was cast in one of nature's most gigantic moulds. A volume, and that not a small one, might be filled with the curious sayings and doings of this singular gentleman ; but unfortunately the greater part of them, for reasons which may be guessed, could not, with any degree of propriety, be laid before the public. The Laird was remarkable, above all things, for his notions of the dignity of his chieftainship. A gentleman, who had come from a great distance to pay him a visit, either ignorant of or forgetting the etiquette to be observed in speaking to or of a Highland chieftain, inquired if Nr. M' Nab was within ?-" Mr." being a contemptible Saxon prefix, applied to every one who wears a passable coat, and well enough probably in the case of those ignoble persons who earn their bread by a profession, but not at all fit to be attached to the name of a Highland chief. The consequence Of this error of the Laird's visitor was, that he was refused admittance-a fact the more astonishing to himself, as he distinctly heard the Laird's voice in the lobby. In explanation of his blunder, he was told by a friend that he should have inquired, not for MY. MNab, but for the Laird of M'Nab, or simply M'Nab, by way of 'eminence. Acting on this hint, he called on the following day, and was not only admitted, but received with a most cordial and hearty welcome. Of the Laird's literary attainments some anecdotes have found their way into the jest-books. In one of these he is represented as laying the blame of certain orthographical errors with which he was charged on one occasior, to the badness of his pen, triumphantly asking his accuser, " Wha could spell with sic a pen 0 '' Of a piece with this, and indicating a somewhat similar degree of intellectual culture, was his going to L jeweller to bespeak a ring, similar to one worn by a friend of his which had taken his fancy, and which was set either with the hair of Charles Edward, or some other member of his family, the latter circumstance of course constituting its chief value. " But how soon,11 said the jeweller, whom C
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