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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 61 means he soon waxed warm, and by degrees his imagination became dreadfully excited. Before leaving Edinburgh, he was so miserably reduced in his circumstances as to be committed to prison for debt, where his pupils attended his lectures. His liberation from jail was principally attributable to the exertions of the eccentric but amiable Lord Gardenstone. Shortly after his arrival in London, the peculiarity of his appearance as he moved along-a short, square figure-with an air of dignity, in a black suit, which made the scarlet of his cheeks and nose the more resplendent-attracted the notice of certain '' Chevaliers d'lndustrie," on the look-out for spoil in the street. They addressed him in the dialect of his country: his heart, heavy as it must have been from the precariousness of his situation and distance from his native land, expanded to these agreeable sounds. A conversation ensued, and the parties by common consent adjourned to a tavern. Here the stranger was kindly welcomed to town, and, after the glass had circuIated for a time, something was proposed .by way of amusement-a game at cards or whatever the Doctor might prefer. The Doctor had been too civilly treated to demur ; but his purse was scantily furnished, and it was necessary to quit his new friends in search of a supply. Fortunately he applied to Mr. Murray the bookseller, who speedily enlightened him as to the quality of his companions. A London sharper, of another denomination, afterwards tried to take advantage of the Doctor. This was an ingenious speculator in quack medicines, He thought a composition of the most powerful st,imulants might have a run under the title of " Dr. Brown's Exciting Pill ;" and, for the privilege of the name, offered him a sum in hand, by no means contemptible, as well as a share of the contemplated profits. Poor Brown, needy as he was, to his honour indignantly rejected the proposal, By his sojourn in London Brown did not improve his circumstances : he persisted in his old irregularities, projecting at the same time 'great designs, and entertaining sanguine expectations of success ; but on the 7th of October 1788, when he was about fifty-two years of age, he was seized with a fit of apoplexy, and died in the course of the night. No. XXVII. DR. BROWN IN HIS STUDY, Writing, we have little doubt, his " Elements of Medicine," a new edition of which, revised and corrected by Dr. Beddoes, was printed in two vols. 8v0, in 1793.
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62 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. XXVITI. SIR JAMES HUNTER BLAIR, BART., LATE LORD PROVOST OF EDINBURGH, Is here represented in his robes, and holding a plan of the South Bridge in his hand. From Kay’s own authority we learn, that “he etched this Print by express commission, for which he received a guinea for the first impression and at the rate of half-a-guinea for another dozen.” Sir James was the second son of Mr. John Hunter, merchant in Ayr, and was born in that town on the 21st day of February 1741. His father acquired considerable property in land and money, and left his children, who were still young at his death, in easy circumstances. In the year 1756, Sir James was placed as an apprentice in the house of the brothers Coutts, bankers in Edinburgh. It was at this time that his friendship commenced with Sir William Forbes, who was then a fellow-clerk in the Bank. Sir William, in a letter written after the death of Sir James, observes, “Our friendship terminated only with his life, after an intimacy which few brothers can boast of, during thirty-one years, in which long period we never had a difference, nor a separation of interest.’’ After the death of Mr. John Coutts, the principal partner of the house, Sir William and Mr. Hunter were admitted to a share of the business in 1763,’ and gradually rose to the head of the copartnery. In December 1770, he married Jane, eldest daughter of John Blair, Esq. of Dunskey, in the county of Wigton. This lady’s father, at his death, left no fewer than six sons, four of whom were alive at the time of their sister’s marriage, but all having died, she succeeded, in 1777, to the family estate. Sir James on this occasion assumed the name of Elair, and was afterwards, in the year 1786, created a Baronet of Great Britain. On the estate which had thus unexpectedly devolved to him he commenced a plan of most extensive and judicious improvements. He nearly rebuilt the town of Portpatrick ; he repaired and greatly improved the harbour ; established packet-boats of a larger size on the much-frequented passage to Donaghadee in Ireland ; and lastly, while the farmers in that part of Scotland were not very well acquainted with the most approved modes of farming, he set before them a successful example of the best modes of a,giculture, perhaps the greatest service to his country which can be performed by a man in private life. In September 1781, he was called, without any solicitation on his part, to represent the city of Edinburgh in Parliament ; and at the general election in summer 1784, he received the same honour; but before the end of the first About this time Sir James fimt became a member of the Town-Council.
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