Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 501
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
BIOGRAPHIUAL SKETCHBS. 35 9 for the time being ; and it was the wish of the volunteers that the commissions should, as far as possible, be held by gentlemen who had served with reputation in his Majesty's regular forces. An exception, however, which at once testified their estimation of his character, was made in the case of Provost Elder, for the volunteers unanimously recommended him to his Ma,jesty to be their First Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1P97 the Principal and Professors of the University requested him to sit for his portrait, to be preserved in the University library. Mr. Elder accordingly sat to the late Sir Henry Raeliurn, who finished an excellent likeness in his best style-from which a mezzotinto engraving was afterwards published. Provost Elder merited this compliment, which had previously only been conferred on men eminent for learning or science, by being, in addition to his general usefulness as a magistrate and citizen, prominelitly instrumental in maturing the design of rebuilding the College, which probably would have been finished during his lifetime, had it not been for the exigencies of the war. In 1795 Mr. Elder was appointed Postmaster-General for Scotland--an honour which testified that his services had been highly appreciated by his Majesty, and which was considered by his fellow-citizens as ho more than a proper reward. Throughout the whole course of his life, both in public and private business, Mr. Elder displayed " great and persevering activity in all his undertakings, inflexible integrity in his conduct, and perfect firmness in what he judged to be right. These talents and virtues were exerted without pomp or aflectation ; on the contrary, with the utmost openness and simplicity of manners ; and it was often remarked of him that he could refuse with a better grace than many others could confer a favour." Under his guidance the political measures of the city were regulated with much tact and propriety ; and the interest of the rdin,a party was never more firmly or honourably maintained. Mr. Elder's acceptance of the provostship the third time, was looked upon with a degree of uneasiness by his friends. His health had been visibly impaired by the harassing nature of his duties while formerly in ofice ; and they were afraid a renewal of the anxiety and fatigue inseparable from the situation of Chief Magistrate, even in the quietest times, would prove too much for his weakened constitution. Mr. Elder was himself aware of the danger, but he could not " decline the task consistently with his strict notions of public duty." His strength continued gradually to decline, and before the end of 1798 his health was altogether in a hopeless state. Mr. Elder was the eldest son of Mr. William Elder of Loaning, and married in 1765 Emilia Husband, eldest daughter of Mr. Paul Husband of Logie, merchant in Edinburgh, by whom he left a son and four daughters.' He carried on business as a wine merchant in the premises opposite the Tron The fears of his friends were too well founded. He died at Forneth on the 29th May 1799, aged sixty-two. 1 The eldesB was married to the Rev. Principal Baird ; the second to the late John M'Ritchie Esq. of Craigton.
Volume 8 Page 502
  Enlarge Enlarge