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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 135 sitting at Philadelphia discussing measures for checking the depredations of the savages, to communicate such intelligence regarding them as his experience had put him in possession of, and ultimately entered himself a volunteer in one of the regiments raised to serve against the French and Indians. In this service, during which he was engaged in numerous skirmishes, he remained three years, having previously obtained the rank of Lieutenant, when he was taken prisoner by the French on the surrender of Oswego, marched to Quebec with other prisoners, and there embarked, according to stipulation, on board the La Renomme, a French packet-boat, for Plymouth, where he arrived on the 6th of November 1756. In about five months after, Williamson, with a party who had been quartered with him at Kingsbridge, were ordered to Plymouth Dock to be drafted into other regiments, but on being inspected he was found unfit for service, in consequence of a wound he had received in one of his hands, and was discharged. On receiving his discharge, Williamson, who was now entirely destitute of means, being possessed of no more than six shillings, which had been allowed by Government to carry him home, proceeded to York. He there submitted the manuscript of his adventures amongst the Indians to some benevolent persons, who recommended its publication, and having by this means raised a little money, he set out for Aberdeen, where he arrived in June 1758. But although now in his native place, his misfortunes had not yet terminated. The little volume of his adventures, which he had published at York, contained some reflections on the characters of the merchants of Aberdeen, implicating them in the practice of kidnapping, of which Villiamson had himself been a victim. He had no sooner offered the work for sale in the traduced city, than he was called before the magistrates to answer to a complaint of libel on the character and reputation of the merchants of Aberdeen ; and he was ordered to sign a recantation of what they called his calumnies, on pain of imprisonment, and was appointed to find caution to stand trial on the oomplaint, at any time when called for, and to be confined in jail till performance. To this judgment was added an order that all his books should be forthwith lodged in the clerk’s chamber. His books were accordingly seized, the offensive leaves cut out and burned at the market-cross by the hands of the common hanagan. Williamson was subsequently amerced in the sum of ten shillings, and finally banished the city as a vagrant. By the advice and assistance of some friends, however, he afterwards raised a process of oppression and damages against the magistrates of Aberdeen before the Court of Session, and ultimately obtained damages to the amount of €100, with all the costs of process. Previously to his obtaining this judgment, Williamson had settled in Edinburgh, where he first kept a tavern,’ then became a bookseller, printer, publisher, and projector, He appears some time before this to have published in York, Peter’s tavern, or coffee-house, ww situated in the Old Parliament Close. On his sign-board he designated himself “from the other world.”
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136 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. ‘‘ Some Considerations on the present State of Affairs ; wherein the defenceless situation of Great Britain is pointed out, and an easy, rational, and just scheme for its security at this dangerous crisis proposed in a Militia, formed on an equal plan, that can neither be oppressive to the poor nor offensive to the rich, as practised by some of his Majesty’s colonies abroad, etc. York : printed for the author, and sold by all the booksellers in town, 1758 ;I’ 8vo. Pp. 56. In 17’62, he addressed the following letter to the Printers of the Edinburgh Evening Coward :- (( As the scarcity of hands on account of the present war, and, of consequence, the great increase of the price of labour, have been for some time a most general complaint in this much depopulated country, that person must surely deserve well of the public who shall discover a method to supply the one, and reduce the other. Now the season is approaching which is appointed by Providence to crown the labours of the year, and in which the industrious farmer hopes to reap the fruits of his toil. This penury of hands, in a climate so variable as Scotland, may soon be felt in the severest manner. The high prices of grain, and the prospect of a plentiful crop, are certainly very urgent motives for embracing every means that may facilitate the cutting down of the corns with speed and safety. It is with a view to remedy, in a great measure, this universal complaint that I communicate, through the channel of your paper, my having, at a considerable expense, invented a machine, which I am able to demonstrate will, in the hands of a single man, do more execution in a field of oats in one day, and to better purpose, than it is in the power of six shearers to do. This machine is now completed, and is constructed in such a manner, that where the corn is tolerably thick, it will cut down near a sheaf at a st.roke, and that without shaking the grain or disordering the straw, besides laying down the corn as regularly as the most expert shearer is capable to do. It is attended with another advantage, that the sun in a short time will so dry the grass and weeds, as well as win the straw and corn, that it may be fit either for putting into the stack or carrying into the barn. It is not from any principle of vanity or conceit that I have expatiated on the properties of this machine. My sole aim by this letter is to intimate my invention to the honourable society for the encouragement of arts, sciences, etc., to any of whom I am ready to show the machine; and, if they should think proper, give them ocular demonstrations of its answering the purposes intended, by my own hands. At the same time, if they shall approve of it, and be of opinion that it may in a great degree contribute to remove the grievance complained of, I have reason to hope that the Society will not withhold a suitable encouragement for the invention. In that event, I propose, for a moderate premium, to instruct any overseer, or principal servant on a farm, how to handle the machine, so that he may, with his own hands, cut down several acres of corn in a day, I am, Gentlemen, yours, etc. ((July 1762. (( PETERW IUWMSON, (( Author of a book entitled, ( French and Indian Cruelty, exemplified in
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