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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 131 a raw beef-steak, peppered and salted in the Abyssinian fashion. “ You will be pleased to eat this,” he said, “or fight me.” The gentleman preferred the former alternative, and with no good grace contrived to swallow the proffered delicacy. When he had finished, Bruce calmly observed, “ Now, sir, you will never again say it is impossi61e.” Bruce was a man of uncommonly large stature, six feet four inches, and latterly very corpulent. With a turban on his head, and a long staff in his hand, he usually travelled about his grounds ; and his gigantic figure in these excursions is still remembered in the neighbourhood. On the 20th of May 1776, he took as his second wife, Mary, daughter of Thomas Dundas of Fingask, by Lady Janet Maitland, daughter of Charles sixth Earl of Lauderdale. On the 26th of April 1794, after entertaining a large party to dinner, as he was hurrying to assist a lady to her carriage, his foot slipped, and he fell headlong from the sixth or seventh step of the large staircase to the lobby. He was taken up in a state of insensibility, though without any visible contusion, and died early next morning, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. Thus he who had undergone such dangers, and was placed often in such imminent peril, lost his life by an accidental fall. He left, by his second marriage, a son and a daughter. His son succeeded him in his paternal estate, and died in 1810, leaving an only daughter, who married Charles Cumming of h ~ e i l s e , a younger son of the family of Altyre, who assumed the name of Bruce, and is presently (1 837) member of Parliament for the Inverness district of burghs. His daughter, who survived him many years, became the wife of John Jardine, Esq., advocate, sheriff of Ross and Cromarty. Bruce took with him in his travels a telescope so large that it required six men to carry it. He assigned the following reason to a friend by whom the anecdote was communicated :-“ That, exclusive of its utility, it inspired the nations through which he passed with great awe, as they thought he had some immediate connection with Heaven, and they paid more attention to it than they did to himself.” PETER WILLIAMSON, the second figure in this Print was born of poor parents at Hirnley, in the parish of Aboyne, county of Aberdeen, North Britain. When still very young he was sent to reside with an aunt in Aberdeen, as he tells us in his autobiography,’- “where, at eight years of age, playing one day on the quay with others of my companions, I was taken notice of by two fellows belonging to a vessel in the harbour, employed, as the trade then was, by some of the worthy merchants of the town, in that villanous and execrable practice called kidnapping, that is, stealing young children from their parents, and selling them as slaves in the plantations abroad. Being marked out by these monsters as their prey, I was cajoled on board the ship by them, where 1 Vide ‘‘ French and Indian Cruelty, exemplified in the Life and rarious Vicissitudes of Fortune of Peter Willismson, etc., dedicated to the Right Hon. William Pitt, Esq. Written by himself. Third edition, with considerable Impmvements. Glasgow : printed by J, Bryce and I). Pateraon, for the benefit of the unfortunate Author, 1758.”
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132 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. I was no sooner got than they conducted me between the decks to some others they had kidnapped in the same manner.” Neither Williamson nor any of his fellow-captives were permitted again to get on deck, and in about a month afterwards the ship sailed for America. On arriving on the coast of that country she was assailed by a storm, and driven in the middle of the night on a sand-bank off Cape May, near the Cape of Delaware, and in a short time filled with water. The ruffian crew, hoisting out their boats, made their escape to land, leaving the poor boys to their fate in the vessel. Fortunately, she held together till the following morning, when the Captain sent some of his men on board to bring the boys, and as much of the cargo as they could, on shore, where Williamson and his fellow-captives remained in a sort of camp for three weeks, when they were taken to Philadelphia, and there sold at about 31 6 per head. Williamson was separated from his companions, and from this time never heard any more of them. He was himself fortunate enough to fall into the hands of an excellent master, a humane and worthy man. This person was a countryman of his own of the name of Wilson, from Perth, who had himself been kidnapped in his youth. With this man Williamson lived very happily, and much at his ease, till the death of the former, which occurred a few years afterwards, when he was left by him, as a reward for his faithful services, the sum of $120 in money, his best horse, saddle, and all his wearing-apparel. Our hero, who was only in his seventeenth year, being now his own master, employed himself in such country work as offered for the succeeding seven years, when, thinking he had acquired sufficient means to enable him to settle respectably in life, he married a daughter of a substantial planter, and was presented by his father-in-law with a deed of gift of a tract of land, comprising about 200 acres, situated on the frontiers of the province of Pennsylvania. On this property there was a good house, which he furnished ; and having stocked his farm, he sat down with the prospect of leading a peaceable and happy life-but these prospects were soon destroyed. As Williamson was sitting up one night later than usual, expecting the return of his wife, who had gone on a visit to her relations, he was suddenly alarmed by hearing the well-known and fatal war-whoop of the Indians. These dreadful sounds proceeded from a party of savages, to the number of twelve, who had surrounded his house for the purpose of robbery and murder. On hearing the ominous cry, Williamson seized a loaded gun, and at first endeavoured to scare away his horrible assailants, who were now attempting to beat in the door, by threatening to fire on them. But heedless of his menaces, and in their turn threatening to set fire to his house and burn him alive if he did not instantly surrender, he at length yielded, and, on promise of having his life spared, came out as they desired. Having got the unfortunate man into their power, the savages bound him to a tree, near his own door, plundered his house, and then set it on fire, together with his outhouses, barns, and stables, consuming all his grain, cattle, horses, and sheep ; and thus, almost instantaneously, reducing him from a state of independence and comfort to one of beggary and misery. Having completed their diabolical work,
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