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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


’I 80 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. LXXVI. SIR WILLIAM FORBES OF PITSLIGO, BANKER IN EDINBURGH. THE words of the engraving, ‘‘ The good shall mourn a brother-all a friend,” were never more appropriately applied than in allusion to the character of Sir William Forbes. In the language of the Rev. Mr. Alison, there was no person of the age “ who so fully united in himself the same assemblage of the most estimable qualities of our nature ; the same firmness of piety, with the same tenderness of charity; the same ardour of public spirit, with the same disdain of individual interest; the same activity in business, with the same generosity in its conduct ; the same independence towards the powerful, and the same humanity towards the lowly ; the same dignity in public life, with the same gentleness in private society.” SIR WILLIAMF ORBEwSa s born at Edinburgh on the 5th of April 1739. He was descended (both paternally and maternally) from the ancient family of Monymusk, and by his paternal grandmother from the Lords Pitsligo. His father, who was bred to the bar, died when Sir William was only four years of age. His mother, thus left with two infant sons, and very slender means of support, retired among her friends in Aberdeenshire. His younger brother did not long survive. Though nurtured in rather straitened circumstances, Sir William by no means lacked an excellent education, which he received under the superintendence of his guardians-Lord Forbes, his uncle; Lord Pitsligo, his maternal uncle; Mr. Morrison of Bogny, and Mr. Urquhart of Meldrum-among whom he was trained to the habits and ideas of good society; but it was principally to the sedulous care of his widowed mother, who instilled into his young mind the sentiments of rectitude and virtue, that, as he frequently in after life declared, he “owed every thing,” Both his parents belonged to the Scottish Episcopal Church, to which communion Sir William remained during his life a steady and liberal adherent. In 1753 Lady Forbes returned to Edinburgh, with the view of choosing some profession for her son, who had now attained his fourteenth year. Fortunately, through the influence of a friend, Mr. Farquharson of Haughton, he was taken into the banking-house of Messrs. Coutts, and bound apprentice to the business the following year. Sir William’s term of servitude lasted for seven years, on the expiry of which he acted for two years more in the capacity of a clerk in the establishment. During this time he continued to reside with his mother, and felt much satisfac
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