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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


6 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. porch of the Parliament House, '' for she has stood lang i' the outside, and it mad be a treat for her to see the inside, like other strangers !'I He was of a kindly and inoffensive disposition, and, in keeping with this character, was extremely fond of children, and of those young persons generally who treated him with becoming respect. For these he always carried about with him in his pocket a large supply of tops, peerks, and tee-totums, of his own manufacture, which he distributed liberally amongst them ; while to adults he was equally generous in the articles of snuff and tobacco, giving these freely to all who chose to enter into conversation with him. The Laird was thus a general favourite with both young and old. He resided on the Castlehill, and was most frequently to be seen there, and in the Grassmarket, Lawnmarket, and Bow-head. He wore a cocked Highland bonnet, as represented in the picture, which is an admirable likeness, was handsome in person, and possessed of great bodily strength. He retained to his dying hour his allegiance to the House of St,uart ; and, about two years before his demise, gave a decisive instance of it, by creating a disturbance at Bishop Abernethy Drummond's chapel, in consequence of the reverend gentleman and his congregation, who had previously been Nonjurants, praying for King George 111, He died in J d y 1790. JOHN DHU, the centre figure on the Print,'was, in the days of Mr. Kay, a distinguished member of the Town-Guard, a band of civic militia, or armed police, which existed in Edinburgh till 1817, and of which some notice will be subsequently presented. John, a Highlander by birth, was conspicuous for his peculiarly robust and rough appearance, which was of itself as effectual in keeping the younger and more mischievous part of the population in awe, as any ten Lochaber axes in the corps. The Author of Waverley speaks of him somewhere as one of the fiercest-looking fellows he had ever seen. In facihg the unruly mobs of those days, John had shown such a degree of valour as to impress the Magistrates with a high sense of his utility as a public servant. That such an image of military violence should have been necessary at the close of the eighteenth century, to protect the peace of a British city, presents us with a singular contrast of what we lately were, and what we have now become. On one occasion, about the time of the French Revolution, when the Town-Guard had been signalising the King's birthday by firing in the Parliament Square, being unusually pressed and insulted by the populace, this undaunted warrior turned upon one peculiarly outrageous member of the democracy, and, with one blow of his battle-axe, laid him lifeless on the causeway. With all this vigour in the execution of his duty, John Dhu is represented as having been, in reality, a kind-hearted man, exceedingly gentle and affectionate to his wife, and of so obliging a disposition, that he often did the duty of lis brethren as well as his own, thereby frequently exposing himself to an amount of fatigue that few men could have borne.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, 7 JAMIE DUFF, the third figure in the Print, was long conspicuous upon the streets of Edinburgh as a person of weak intellects, and of many grotesque peculiarities. He was the child of a poor &dow who dwelt in the Cowgate, and was chiefly indebted for subsistence to the charity of those who were amused by his odd but harmless manners, This poor Freature had a passion for attending funerals, and no solemnity of that kind could take place in the city without being graced by his presence. He usually took his place in front of the sauZiQs or ushers, or, if they were wanting, at the head of the ordinary company ; thus forming a kind of practical burlesque upon the whole ceremony, the toleration of which it is now difficult to account for. To Jamie himself, it must be allowed, it was as serious a matter as to any of the parties more immediately concerned. He was most scrupulous both as to costume and countenance, never appearing without crape, cravat, and weepers, and a look of downcast woe in the highest degree edifying. It is true the weepers were but of paper, and the cravat, as well as the general attire, in no very fair condition. He had all the merit, nevertheless, of good intention, which he displayed more particularly on the occurrence of funerals of unusual dignity, by going previously to a most respectable hatter, and getting his hat newly tinctured with the dye of sorrow, and the crape arranged so as to hang a little lower down his back. By keeping a sharp look-out after prospective funerals, Jamie succeeded in securing nearly all the enjoyment which the mortality of the city was capable of affording. It nevertheless chanced that one of some consequence escaped his vigilance. He was standing at the well drawing water, when, lo! a funeral procession, and a very stately one, appeared. What was to be done ? He was wholly unprepared : he had neither crape nor weepers, and there was now no time to assume them; and moreover, and worse than all this, he was encumbered with a pair of “stoups/” It was a trying case; but Jamie’s enthusiasm in the good cause overcame all difficulties. He stepped out, took his usual place in advance of the company, stoups and all, and, with one of these graceful appendages in each hand moved on as chief usher of the procession. The funeral party did not proceed in the direction of any of the usual places of interment. It left the town ; this was odd ! It held on its way : odder still ! Mile after mile passed away, and still there was no appearance of a consummation. On and on the procession went, but Jamie, however surprised he might be at the unusual circumstance, manfully kept his post, and with indefatigable perseverance continued to lead on. In short, the procession never halted till it reached the seaside at Queensferry, a distance of about nine miles, where the party composing it embarked, c o f i and all, leaving the poor fool on the shore, gazing after them with a most ludicrous stare of disappointment and amazement. Such a thing had never occurred to him before in the whole course of his experience. Jamie’s attendance at funerals, however, though unquestionably proceeding from a pure and disinterested passion for such ceremonies, was also a source of considerable emolument to him, as his spontaneous services were as regularly It took quite a contrary direction.
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