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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 173
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B I 0 GRAPH I C -4 L S K E T C H E S. 119 as well as his r i s e in civic dignity, being almost totally uneducated-so much so, that on many occasions he displayed the most gross ignorance of his own language, by the ludicrous misapplication of words even in common conversation. He was nevertheless a very active and upright magistrate, “ although,” says Mr. Kay, ‘‘ there was always something in his manner that acted against his popularity;’’ and when city politics ran high, as they frequently did during his long connection with the civic government, the circumstance of his having been horsewhipped by some of the “Edinburgh bucks”-for having, while a constable, committed some females of equivocal repute to the Guard-house, under the protection of the famed Shon Dhu-was frequently commented upon by his opponents. For this assault they were apprehended, and, with great justice, severely fined. Mr. Grieve deserved some credit for his political or rather party consistency, a virtue, according to Mr. Kay, as rare in those days as it is now. His active support of Sir Laurence Dundas in 1780,’ seems to have been the means of facilitating his future rise. He was elected Lord Provost in 1782 ; and in 1788 he attained the acme of his ambition, by being appointed one of his Majesty’s Commissioners of Excise. Mr. Grieve resided for many years in Strichen’s Close, High Street, the house having an entrance also from Blackfriars’ Wynd. The premises were at a former period occupied by the Earl of Morton. He afterwards removed to a Sir Laurence Dundas had represented the city of Edinburgh from 1767 till 1780; but he had offended many of his constituents by voting in opposition to Lord North’s Administration, on Mr. Dunning’s motion (April 6) respecting the increasing influence of the Crown, which he did, it was stated, in revenge for having been refused a British Peerage. The candidate who was proposed in his stead was the present Sir William Miller, afterwards Lord Glenlee, a gentleman at that time young, but possessed of great abilities, and universally respected. The writs were issued in September, a short time prior to the annua! election of the Town Council ; and the friends of Sir Laurence, aware that they were in a minority, resorted to every expedient to postpone the election of the city member until the meeting of the new Council. The friends of Mr. Miller, on the other hand, were m determined not to delay the return of their representative. The Lord Provost (Walter Hamilton, Esq.) was at the time in bad health, and confined to his house-by Sir Lanrence’s friends he was represented as capable of doing his duty, while their opponents affirmed the contrary. Be that as it may, however, Sir Laurence’s party succeeded in withholding the Sheriffs precept. Mr. Miller’s friends contended that the circumstances of the Provost’s indisposition were such as to warraut the senior Bailie in assuming his functions. They accordingly, under authority of old Bailie Leslie, and furnished with a notarial copy of the precept, convened a meeting of the Council, and on the 16th September elected Mr. Miller member for the city. Mr. Grieve protested against the proceedings in name of his fellow-councillors, while Hugo h o t did the same thing for the Lord Provost. By the time, however, that the new leets of magistrata were made up, and five new councillors admitted, it waa found that Sir Laurence’s friends were in the majority. A new election wm the conuequence, under the sanction of the Lord Provost, which took place on the 9th September, and Sir Laurence of course returned amid the counter-protests of Mr. Miller’s friends. Thus there were two members elected for the city of Edinburgh. The circumstance, &s was to be expected, gave rise to various law proceedings, which were brought before the Court of Session ; while Sir Laurence petitioned Parliament against the return of Mr. Miller. A committee was accordingly appointed by the House of Commons, who set aside the then sitting member, by declaring the petitioner duly elected. The famous Deacon Brodie made a conspicuous figure in this election, by keeping back his promise to vote for either party. In consequence of this he made himself a man of great moment to both of the candidates, because on his vote the election rested.
Volume 8 Page 174
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