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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


EIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 111 assiduous in paying them, and never failed, when the judges were sitting, to exert his stentorian lungs under the windows of the Court-house. This he did with such success, that at length both judges and practitioners, having lost all patience, collected amongst themselves a sum of money, which they deemed sufficient to purchase an exemption in future from these provoking visitations. Lauchlan pocketed the fee, and promised faithfully not to let his voice come within hearing of the Court in future. He no doubt intended to keep religiously by the letter of his agreement, but at the same time mentally calculated upon the eclat, if not the profit, of outwitting a whole court of lawyers. Accordingly, next day he was seen at the usual spot with a huge bell, to which he gave full effect by a scientific movement of &he a m that would have done credit to the most experienced city bellman. Many wondered at the sudden change in Lauchlan’s mode of announcing hie presence; but he explained this by facetiously remarking, that “having sold his mun tongue to the judges, he was under the necessity of using another.”-The ingenuity of Lauchlan was rewarded by an additional douceur, coupled with the condition, which he scrupulously kept, that in future there was to be an absolute cessation of his visits in that quarter. In the course of his peregrinations, Lauchlan offended a well-known civic dignitary, Bailie Creech, one of the chief booksellers in Edinburgh, whose shop was in the centre of the Luckenbooths. The Bailie felt his dignity lessened by the contemptuous manner in which the Veteran of Culloden treated his instructions not to bawl so unharmoniously in front of his shop. At last resolving to compel obedience, he summoned Lauchlan to compear before the magistrates. On the day of trial the defender fearlessly entered the Council Chamber, where Creech sat in judgment. After the complaint had been preferred, and a volley of abuse discharged by the an,- bailie, old Lauchlan, with an air of wellassumed independence, produced his discharge, and asserted the right which it gave him to pursue his calling in any town or city in Great Britain, save Oxford or Cambridge. The northern Dogberry was dreadfully vexed that in this way his mighty preparation had come to nothing; and, after advising with the ordinary assessor in the Bailie Court, the well-known Jams Laing, he found himself compelled to dismiss the complaint. No fiooner had Lauchlan regained the “crown 0’ the causey,” than a universal shout from the “callants” announced the defeat of the Bailie ; while the victor, taking his station on the debateable ground in front of the shop, commenced with renewed vigour, the obnoxious cry of “R-r-r-roasting toasting jacks.” This was repeated so often that even the penurious Mr. Creech was compelled to purchase a cessation of hostilities. Notwithstanding all his popularity, however, poor Lauchlan found himself, at the long age of ninety-six, possessor of more fame than fortune. It is possible that his own tippling propensities, and consequent want of economy, may have had some share in producing this disastrous result. On one occasion the late Mr. Smith, lamp-contractor for the city of Edinburgh, was the means of saving ’
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112 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. the poor fellow’s life, having found him fast asleep, in a cold wintry night among the snow near the Meadow Cage. Finding old age and frailty stealing upon him, in 1805 Lauchlan made an unsuccessful application to the Marquis of Hastings, then Earl of Moira, who was at the time Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in Scotland, to obtain a pension in consequence of the long period of his service. Starvation or the workhouse were now the veteran’s only alternatives. His philosophy preferred the latter, and the interest of some friends procured him admission to the Charity Workhouse. One would have thought that his weatherbeaten hulk had at length found a quiet haven-but no ! genius, it has been remarked, is always young, and the adventurous spirit of the warlike son of Mars could not subside into inglorious quiescence. Old Lauchlan, at the age of ninety-six, was turned out of barracks for an amour! The tender-hearted old nurse of the establishment -some twenty years younger than himself-had shown him kindness during an illness, ministering to his wants, and sometimes sitting at his bedside, receiving with greedy ears his stories “ Of moving accidents by flood and field, Of hair-breadth ’scapes in the imminent deadly breach.” . . . . “His story being done, She gave him for his pains a world of sighs.” One day, one unpropitious day, an evil eye beheld the simple pair at their feast of sympathy, and such proceedings not being in accordance with the rules of the establishment, they were both expelled. What could a man of spirit do in such a dilemma ? Marriage could alone testify his gratitude to the gentle fair, and his resentment of a harsh world‘s cruelty, No. LIV. THIS is a second Print of LAUCHLAN M‘BAIN, done in 1815. The cont.rast in the “ altered gait ” of the two figures, is a striking illustration of the progress of time. He is here represented, after his dismissal from the Workhouse, as again employed in the disposal of his roasting-jacks ; but, alas ! the best of his days were over. Like other geniuses, he found he had outlived his reputation j and the useful implements in which he dealt, hardly enabled him to beat off the wolf from his door. His wife continued to cling to him through all his adversity, and it is said, helped to cheer the gloomy winter of his age and fortunes. Lauchlan died in 1818, aged 102.
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