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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


E1 0 GRAPH I C AL 8 RE T C I3 E S. 205 No. LXXXV. VOLTAIRE, THE FRENCH PHILOSOPHER, AND MR. WATSON, AN EDINBURGH MESSENGER. THE remarkable similarity of physiognomy existing between the Philosopher of Ferney and the humble Edinburgh Messenger was the cause of their heads being etched in the present form. About the period of the execution of this print, the Scottish capital was profuse in the display of odd characters j and living portraitures' of some of the greatest men of the age were to be found walking the streets of the city. In Miles M'Phail the caddy, Lord North the British Prime Minister, might daily be seen shouldering a load of beef or mutton; while, in the still more exact personification of old Watson the Messenger, the noted Philosopher of France became a petty process-server and a beagle of the law. The likeness of the famous VOLTAIEE was copied by Kay from a painting on the lid of a snuff-box belonging to John Davidson, Esq., Writer to the Signet: with which the head of Mr. Watson was placed in contrast, that the similarity, as well as any little difference of feature, might be more conspicuous. A yery striking instance of the similar structure of faces is recorded in the Gallic Reports, in the case of Martin Guerre and Arnauld de Filk. The latter, taking advantage of the absence of the former, and having made himself master of the most minute circumstances of his life, through this surprising resemblance, so imposed himself, not only on the relations of Martin Guerre, but even upon his wife, that he was not suspected for several years; and when at length, from some untoward circumstances, he fell under suspicion of being an impostor, he cheerfully submitted to a regular prosecution, in which he behaved with such address, that, of near 150 witnesses examined on the affair, between thirty and forty deposed that he was the true Martin Guerre, among whom were Martin's four sisters and two of their husbands ; and of the remainder of the witnesses, sixty and upwards declared the resemblance between the penons so strong that it was simply impossible to affirm with certainty whether the accused was the true Martim or not. In short, Ainauld de Filk for a long time puzzled the Parliament of Toulouse, even after the true Martin Guerre was returned, and they appeared together face to face. At the present day, almost 8 counterpart of Napoleon will be found in the penon of 8 celebrated foreign musician, presently resident in Edinburgh. He is distinguished by the same peculiarity in walking, his arms resting carelessly behind his back ; is of the same height, and the same cast of features. A few years ago, a young gentleman was taken up in London on about fourteen different charges of swindling, and was brought to trial on what we would here term separate indictments. On one of these he was convicted, but on the reat was acquitted ; having, although positively sworn to, proved satisfactorily alibis in each of them. It turned out that the delinquencies had been perpetrated by an individual, his complete counterpart. Of course he received 8 free pardon in the instance where he had been convicted, and where he had been unable to prove an alibi. Mr. Davidson obtained posseasion of the box while on a visit to Paris, where the likeness was considered remarkably f a i t h f a
Volume 8 Page 289
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Volume 8 Page 290
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