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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


Volume 4 Page 192
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Drummond Place 1 LORD ROBERTSON. I93 antiquarian taste consorted with the musical skill ancl critical sagacity of the editor of the ? Minuets and Songs, by Thomas, sixth Earl of Kellie.?? At his death, in 1851, a desire was felt by many of his friends that his collection of antiquities should, like that of his friend Scott, be preserved as a memorial of him, but from circumstances over which his family had no control this was found to be impossible, so the vast assemblage of rare and curious objects which crowded every room in No. 28 was dispersed. The very catalogue of them, filling upwards of fifty pages, was in some of its features strongly indicative of the character of the man. Among them we find--? A smd box made from a leg of the table at which King James VIII. sat on his first landing here;? ?fragment of Queen Mary?s bed-curtains;? ?? hair of that true saint and martyr Charles I., taken from his coffin at Windsor, and given to me by the Hon. Peter Drummond Burrel at Edinburgh, December, 1813;? ?piece of the shroud of King Robert the Bruce i1 piece of a plaid worn by-Prince Charles in Scotland;? ?silk sash worn by the prince;? ?pair of gloves belonging to Mary Queen of Scots;? ?cap worn by her when escaping from Lochleven;? &c. He had a vast collection of coins, some of which were said to be discovered in consequence of a dream. I? The child of a Mr. Christison, in whose house his father was lodging in 1781, dreamt that a treasure was hid in the cellar. Her father had no faith in the dream, but Mr. Sharpe had the place dug up, and a copper pot full of coins was found.? One of the chief features of his drawing-room in Drummond Place was a .quaint monstrosity in bronze, now preserved in the British Museum. It was a ewer fashioned in the shape of a tailless lion, surmounted by an indescribable animal, half hound and half fish, found in a vault of his paternal castle of Hoddam, in Dumfries-shire. Charles Kirk patrick Sharpe was laid amid his forefathers in the family burial-place in Annandale. ?May the earth lie light on him,? writes one of his friends, ?and no plebeian dust invade the last resting-place of a thorough gentleman of the antique type, now wholly gone with other good things of the olden time !? Patrick Robertson, known as Lord Robertson by his judicial title, was long locally famous as ? I Peter,? one of the most brilliant wits and humorists about Parliament House, and a great friend of ?Christopher North.? They were called to the bar in the same year, 1815. Robertsonwas born in 1793. In 18qz he was Dean of Faculty, and 73 ,vas raised to the bench in the following year. He was famous for his mock heroic speeches on the :eneral question,? and his face, full of grotesque humour, and his rotund figure, of Johnson-like mplitude and cut, were long familiar to all habitues of the law courts. Of his speeches Lockhart gives a description in his account of a Burns dinner in 1818 :-? The last of these presidents (Mr. Patrick Robertson), a young counsellor 3f very rising reputation and most pleasant manner, made his approach to the chair amid such a thunder of acclamation as seems to issue from the cheeks of the Bacchantes when Silenus gets astride his ass, in the famous picture of Rubens. Once in the chair, there was no fear of his quitting it while any remained to pay homage to his authority. He made speeches, one chief merit of which consisted (unlike epic poems) in their having neither beginning, middle, nor end. He sang songs in which music was not. He proposed toasts in which meaning was not. But over everything that he said there was flung such a radiance of sheer mother wit, that there was no difficulty in seeing that the want of meaning was no involuntary want. By the perpetual dazzle of his wit, by the cordial flow of his good-humour, but, above all, by the cheering influence of his broad, happy face, seen through its halo of purest steam (for even the chair had by this time got enough of the juice of the grape), he contrived to diffuse over us all, for a long time, one genial atmosphere of unmingled mirth.? The wit and humour of Robertson were proverbial, and hundreds of anecdotes used to be current of his peculiar and invincible powet of closing all controversy, by the broadest form of reductio ad abszrrdurn. At a dinner party a learned and pedantic Oxonian was becoming very tiresome with his Greek erudition, which he insisted on pouring forth on a variety of topics xore or less recondite, At length, at a stage of the discussion on some historical point, Lord Robertson turned round, and, fixing his?large grey eyes upon the Englishman, said, with a solemn and judicial air, ?I rather think, sir, Dionysius of Halicamassus is against you there.? ?: I beg your pardon,? said the other, quickly; ?Dionysius did not flourish for ninety years after that period !? ?I Oh! ? rejoined Robertson, with an expression of face that must be imagined, ? I I made a mistake-I meant nludkeus of Warsaw.? After that the discussion flowed no longer in the Greek channg1.a He was author sf a large quarto volume of singu- -. W h d s ?? Memoirs,? rd ii
Volume 4 Page 193
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