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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 95 might have ranked with the first names in the British Senate. He retired from the business of the Church Courts in 1780, but still continued his pastoral duties, preaching when his health permitted, till within a few months of his death, which took place at Grange House, near Edinburgh, on the 11th June 1793. His colleague Dr, John Erskine, in a sermon preached after his death, said, “ Few minds were naturally so large and capacious as Dr, Robertson’s, or stored by study, experience, and observation, with so rich furniture. His imagination was correct, his judgment sound, his memory tenacious, his temper agreeable, his knowledge extensive, and his acquaintance with the world and the heart of man very remarkable.” Dr. Robertson is said to have excited the enmity of Dr. Gilbert Stuart, in consequence of his assumed opposition to the appointment of that clever, but vindictive personage, to one of the Law chairs in the University. Whether the Principal really interfered is not certain, but Stuart believed he had done so, and that was quite sufficient to induce him to take every means in his power to annoy his imagined enemy. The “View of Society in Europe,” is in direct opposition to the luminous introduction to Dr. Robertson’s ‘‘ History of Charles V.,” and the ‘‘ History of Scotland, from the Reformation to the Death of Queen Mary,” is an undisguised and virulent hypercritical attack on the “History of Scotland ” by the same eminent writer, and does no great credit to the talents of Dr. Stuart. The Empress Catherine of Russia was so delighted with Dr. Robertson’s works, that she presented him with a handsome gold enamelled snuffbox, richly set with diamonds, through Dr. Rogerson, which is still in possession of the family. The eldest son, a Lord of Session, retired some years ago from the Bench ; he lived in Charlotte Square, and died only last year (1836). The next son, Lieutenant-General James, who distinguished himself under Lord Conmallis, still lives at Canaan Bank, near Edinburgh. The third son was also in the army, but, having ’married the heiress of Kinloch-Moidart, now (1837) resides almost entirely on his eshte. The eldest daughter married Patrick Brydone, Esq. of Lennel House, author of’ a “ Tour through Sicily and Malta,” one of whose daughters became Countess of Minto; and another, the wife of Admiral Sir Charles Adam, K.B. The youngest daughter married John Russell, Esq., Writer to the Signet. Dr. Robertson left three sons and two daughters. No. XIlIII. QUARTERMASTER TAYLOR. THIS gentleman was an officer in the 7th Regiment of Foot, and served under General Elliot, afterwards Lord Heathfield, during the memorable siege of Gibraltar by the Spaniards. While in Edinburgh, during the year 1788, his extreme corpulency rendered him very conspicuous, and induced Mr. Kay to make him the subject of the present etching. It is said that the night before his death he was offered €400 for his commission, which he refused
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96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. XLIV. COCK-FIGHTING MATCH BETWEEN THE COUNTIES OF LANARK AND HADDINGTON. THIS affair was decided in the unfinished kitchen of the Assembly Roams, in 1785 ; on which occasion the gentlemen cock-fighters of the county of East Lothian were the victors. Among the audience will be recognised likenesses of the principal individuals of this fancy at the time. Hay, in his MS. notes, particularly points out those of Sir James Baird of Newbyth, William Hamilton, Esq. of Wishaw (afterwards Lord Belhaven), - MacLeod, Esq. of Drimnin, Lord North the caddy, the noted Deacon Brodie, and several other eminent cockers. The two figures in the pit represent the persons employed by the different parties ; the one was an Edinburgh butcher, the other an Englishman. In allusion to this contest Kay observes, " It cannot but appear surprising that noblemen and gentlemen, who upon any other occasion will hardly show the smallest degree of condescension to their inferiors, will, in the prosecution of this barbarous amusement, demean themselves so far as to associate with the very lowest characters in society." Cock-fighting prevailed to a great extent among the Romans, who most likely adopted it, among other things, from the Greeks, with this addition, that they used quails as well as the common gamecock. With the Romans cockfighting is presumed to have been introduced into Britain, although the first notice me have of it is by Fitz-Stephen, in his Life of the famous Thomas a-Becket, in the reign of Henry 11. There were several enactments made against the practice in the reigns of Edward 111. and Henry VIII., but it is well known that the cock-pit at Whitehall was erected by royalty itself, for the more magnificent celebration of the sport : it was again prohibited during the . Protectorship of Cromwell in 1654, and afterwards by the Act 25th Geo. 111. Notwithstanding the efforts made to put it down, this disreputable amusement continued in all parts of England to be practised with the utmost wantonness almost to the present time. In Scotland, cock-fighting was for many years an ordinary recreation. In 1705 William Machrie, fencing-master in Edinburgh, published " An Essay upon the Royal Recreation and Art of Cocking. Edinburgh, printed by James Watson in Craig's Gloss. Sold by Mr. Robert Freebairn in the Parliament Closs, 1705." 12mo. This tract, which is now exceedingly scarce, is dedicated to the nobility and gentry of Scotland, who are told that "the sport of cockfighting is improv'd to a great height; 'tis as much an art as managing of horses for races or for the field of battle j and tho' it has been in vogue over all Europe, yet 'twas never esteem'd nor practis'd but by the nobility and gentry. It was kept up only by people of rank, and never sunk down to the hands of the commonality, where the art of managing this fierce and warlike bird had
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