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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 57 ’ Several highly respectable literary gentlemen proposed to hold a convivial meeting once a week, and deputed two of their number, Doctors Black and Hutton, to look out for a suitable house of entertainment to meet in. The two accordingly sallied out for this purpose, and seeing on the South Bridge a sign with the words, “ Stewart, vintner, down stairs,” they immediately went into the house and demanded a sight of their best room, which was accordingly shown to them, and which pleased them much. Without further inquiry, the meetings were fixed by them to be held in this house ; and the club assembled there during the greater part of the winter, till one evening Dr. Hutton, being rather late, was surprised, when going in, to see a whole bevy of well-dressed but somewhat brazen faced young ladies brush past him, and take refuge in an adjoining apartment. He then, for the first time, began to think that all was not right, and communicated his suspicions to the rest of the company. Next morning the notable discovery was made, that our amiable philosophers had introduced their friends to one of the most noted houses of bad fame in the city ! These attached friends agreed in their opposition to the usual vulgar prejudices, and frequently discoursed together upon the absurdity of many generally received opinions, especially in regard to diet. On one occasion they had a disquisition upon the inconsistency of abstaining from feeding on the testaceous creatures of the land, while those of the sea were considered as delicacies. Snails, for instance-why not use them as articles of food ? They were well known to be nutritious and wholesome-even sanative in some cases, The epicures in olden time esteemed as a most delicious treat the snails fed in the marble-quarries of Lucca. The Italians still hold them in esteem. The two philosophers, perfectly satisfied that their countrymen were acting most absurdly in not making snails an ordinary article of food, resolved themselves to set an example; and accordingly, having procured a number, caused them to be stewed for dinner. No guests were invited to the banquet. The snails were in due season served up; but, alas! great is the difference between theory and practice-so far from exciting the appetite, the smoking dish acted in a diametrically opposite manner, and neither party felt much inclination to partake of its contents ; nevertheless, if they looked on the snails with disgust, they retained their awe for each other; so that each, conceiving the symptoms of internal revolt peculiar to himself, began with infinite exertion to swallow, in very small quantities, the mess which he internally loathed. Dr. Black at length broke the ice, but in a delicate manner, as if to sound the opinion of his messmate:-“Doctor,” he said in his precise and quiet manner, “Doctor, do you not think that they taste a little-a very little queer 1” ‘‘ D- queer ! d- queer, indeed !-tak them awa’ I tak them awa ’!” vociferated Dr. Hutton, starting up from the table, and giving full vent to his feelings of abhorrence. I
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‘58 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES; No. XXVI. DR. JOHN BROWN, AUTHOR OF ‘‘ THE BRUNONIAN SYSTEM OF MEDICINE,” IS represented with the ensign of the Roman Eagle Lodge, which used to be carried at public processions before the Master, a situation which he long held. The miniature scene in the background describes what had frequently happened, namely, the Doctor at a bowl of punch, with Mr. Little of Libberton, hlr. John Lamont, surgeon, and Lord Bellenden, heir to his Grace the Duke of Roxburghe, playing on the fiddle-an accomplishment in which he excelledfor the entertainment of the company. His Lordship, who was remarkable for his free, generous, and hospitable disposition, in 1787 married Miss Sarah Cumming of Jamaica, a lady paternally of Scottish, but maternally of Afrimn descent. The other two gentlemen in conversation at the back of this convivial group, are Dr. William Cullen and Dr, Alexander Hamilton, Professor of Midwifery; the gentleman in light clothes, to the left, is Dr. James Graham, already described in No. XI. DR. JOHNB ROWNw as born in the parish of Buncle, in the county of Berwick, of parents more respectable for decency of character than dignity of rank. Discovering early markq of uncommon talents, his parents were induced, after having fruitlessly bound him as an apprentice to a weaver, to change his destination. He was accordingly sent to the grammar-school of Dunse, where, under Mr. Cruickshanks, an able teacher, he studied with great ardour and success. His application, indeed, was so intense, that he was seldom without a book in his hand. It is said that Erown submitted, in his youth, to be a reaper of corn, to procure for himself the means of improvement. With the price of such labour he put himself to school, where his abilities attracted the attention of his master, and procured him the place of assistant. His revolt from the loom, according to this account, must have been attended with highly honourable circumstances. The years of Brown’s grammar education appear to have been, in no common degree, well spent and happy ; and he continued at school until he had nearly attained the age of twenty. In the summer of 1775, his reputation as a scholar procured him the appointment of tutor to a family of some distinction in the neighbourhood of Dunse, where, however, .he did not long continue an inmate. Upon relinquishing this situation he repaired to the University of Edinburgh, where, after going through the iisual course of philosophy, he entered upon his theological studies : he attended the lectures of the professors, diligently applied to the study of the authors recommended by them, and proceeded so far as to
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