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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


12 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, ‘ These wonderful Irish giants are but twenty-three yeark of age, and measure very near eight feet high. These extraordinary young men have had the honour to be seen by their Majesties and Royal Family at Windsor, in November 1783, with great applause; and likewise by Gentlemen of the Faculty, Royal Society, and other admirers of natural curiosity, who allow them to surpass any thing of the same kind ever offered to the public, Their address is singular and pleasing : their persons truly shaped and proportioned to their height, and affords an agreeable surprise. They excel the famous Maximilian Miller, born in 1674, shown in London in 17333 ;’ and the late Swedish Giant will scarce admit of comparison. To enumerate every particular would be too tedious ; let it suffice to say, that they are beyond what is set forth in ancient or modern history. The ingenious and judicious who have honoured them with their company have bestowed the most lavish encomiums ; and, on their departure, have expressed their approbation and satisfaction. In short, the sight of them is more than the mind can conoeive, the tongue express, or pencil delineate, and stands without a parallel in this or in any other country. ‘ Take them for all in all, we shall scarce Look on their like again.’ Ladies and Gentlemen are respectfully informed, that their hours of admittance are from ten in the morning to three in the afternoon, and from four to nine in the evening, every day (Sundays excepted). “Price of admittance, One Shilling-July 27th, 1784.” These “ interesting ” youths left Edinburgh for Aberdeen in the month of August following, proposing “ to stop in a few towns on their way,” to astonish the natives. Whether they ever again visited Edinburgh has not been ascertained. BAILIE JOHNKY D, a bachelor, who once made no small noise in the city, especially at the time the Print of the U Kid and the Goat ” was done, was a wine-merchant in that large land at the head of the Cowgate, opposite the Candlemaker Row, first door up stairs, in the flat immediately below Mrs. Sym, grandmother to Lord Brougham-he was third bailie in 1769, first bailie in 1772, and Dean of Guild in 1774 and 1775. He died, it is understood, early in the year 1810. WILLIAM RICHARDSOsNo,l icitor-at-l&w, the gentleman in the background on the left, was in his time eminent in his profession; and much respected as Preses of the Society of Solicitors, which office he held. He died, the oldest member of that society, at Edinburgh, on the 6th of July 1801, being seventyeight years of age. “Dec. 12, 1734.-This day died the tall Saxon, being about seven feet ten inches high.”
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 13 ANDREWB ELL,th e very odd-looking gentleman on the left, was an engraver ; and however little flattering this representation of his person may be considered, it is nevertheless perfectly correct-his nose to a hair's-breadth, and the angle of his legs to a point. Mr. Bell began his professional career in the humble employment of engraving letters, names, and crests on gentlemen's plates, dog's collars, and so forth, but subsequently rose to be the first in his line in Edinburgh. His success, however, can scarcely be attributed to any excellence he ever attained as an engraver, but rather to the result of a fortunate professional speculation in which he engaged. This was the publication of the Ewcyclopcediu Britunnica, of which he was proprietor to the amount of a half; and to which he furnished the plates. By one edition of this work he is said to have realised twenty thousand pounds. Mr. Bell did not possess the advantage of a liberal education, but this deficiency he in some measure compensated in after life by extensive reading, and by keeping the society of men of letters, of which aids to intellectual improvement he made so good a use that he became remarkable for the extent of his information, and so agreeable a companion that his company was in great request. A b . Bell was a true philosopher : so far from being ashamed of the unnecessary liberality of nature in the article of nose, he was in the habit of making it the groundwork of an amusing practical joke. He carried abaut with him a still larger artificial nose, which, when any merry party he happened to be with had got in their cups, he used to slip on, unseen, above his own immense proboscis, to the inexpressible horror and amazement of those who were not aware of the trick. They had observed of course, at the fist, that Mr. Bell's nose was rather a striking feature of his face, but they could not conceive how it had so suddenly acquired the utterly hideous magnitude which it latterly presented to them. . Mr. Bell was also remarkable for the deformity of his legs, upon which, however, he was the first person to jest. Once in a large company, when some jokes had passed on the subject, he said, pushing out one of them, that he would wager there was in the room a leg still more crooked. The company denied his assertion and accepted the challenge, whereupon he very coolly thrust out his other leg, which was still worse than its neighbour, and thus gained his bet. Mr. Bell acknowledged he was but a very indifferent engraver himself, yet he reared some first-rate artists in that profession. He died much regretted, at his own house in Lauriston Lane, at the advanced age of eighty-three, on the 10th of May 1809.
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