Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 137 the Life and various vicissitudes of Fortune of the said Peter Williamson, who was carried off from Aberdeen in his infancy, and sold as a Slave in Pennsylvania. Containing the History of the Author’s Adventures in North America; his Captivity among the Indians, etc. To which is added, an Account of the Proceedings of ,the Magistrates of Aberdeen against him, on his return to Scotland : a brief History of the Process against them before the Court of Session ; and a short Dissertation on Kidnapping. Sold by the Author, at his shop in the Parliament House, and the other Booksellers in town and country, price Is. 6d. sewed, and 2s. bound. This book is illustrated with a new and correct whole sheet Map of America ; likewise adorned with a fine copperplate frontispiece, representing the Author in the habit of a Delaware Indian.’ Commissions from the country will be punctually answered for this and all other sorts of books ; as also stationery ware of all sorts. Where is likewise to be had, a ‘General View of the whole World; containing the names of the principal Countries, Kingdoms, States, and Islands ; their Length, Breadth, and Capital Cities, with the Longitude and Latitude ; also, the Produce, Revenue, Strength, and Religion of each Country, price 6d.”’ An engraving of this “ machine ” is given in one of the magazines of the day. It is now in use under the name of a basket scythe. The following advertisement by Peter (April 9, 1772), is amusing enough : “ This day was published, price one shilling the pack, and sold by Peter Williamson, printer, in the head of Forrester‘s Wynd, Edinburgh, the IMPENETRABLE SECRETwS,h ich is called the PROVERCBA RDS; containing excellent Sentiment, and are so composed that they discover the thoughts of one’s mind in a very curious and extraordinary manner. The explanation of the secret is given gratis with the pack : each set consists of twenty cards, and ten lines upon each card.” He at same time announces his “new invented portable printing-presses,” by which two folio pages may be printed with the greatest expedition and exactness. Next follow his stamps, and liquid for marking linen, books, etc.; “ which stands washing, boiling, and bleaching, and is more regular and beautiful than any needle.” He concludes by intimating that he has a large and commodious tavern to let. In the year 1776 Williamson engaged in a periodical work, after the manner of the Tatler and Spectator, called The Scots Spy, M Critical Observer, published every Friday. Complete copies of this curious production, which forms a volume of upwards of three hundred pages, are now very rare. It is chiefly valuable for local information, although some of the papers are by no means deficient in merit. It commences on the 8th of March 1776 and terminates on the 30th August following. In 1777 (August 29), he began The New Scots Spy, or Critical Observer, which, having met with less patronage than its predecessor, was abandoned on the 14th November following. This latter volume is also very scarce.’ which he valued at five guineas ! The late Mr. Archibald Constable, who thought all “his geese were swans,” had both works, T
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138 B I 0 GRAPH I C AL S KE T C 11 E S. In the month of November 1777 he married Jean Wilson, daughter of John Wilson, bookseller in Edinburgh, a connection which, as will immediately be seen, turned out to be a very unfortunate one. Williamson had the merit of establishing the first Penny-Post in Edinburgh. He also published a Directory, “which he sold at his General Penny-Post Office, Luckenbooths.” The copy before us, for 1788, is dedicated to the Lord Provost and Magistrates of Edinburgh ; and the following dedicatory epistle is prefixed :- “MY LORDS AND GENTLmEN-At the earnest request of a respectable part of the inhabitants of Edinburgh, I have been induced once more to make an actual survey of the city and its much-extended suburbs, and to publish a Directory for the present year, ‘‘ The patronage I have always received from the Magistrates of Edinburgh I acknowledge with gratitude j and I flatter myself they will approve of the present publication. “ That the city may flourish to the remotest ages-that the noble efforts made by the present Chief Magistrate for its embellishment, the convenience of its inhabitants, and for the desirable object of making the port and harbour of Leith (so intimately connected with the city) more extensive and commodious for trade, may be crowned with success-is the sincere wish of, My LORDS and GENTLEMEN, “ Your most obedient humble servant, (‘ P. WILLIAMSON.” At this period his wife and daughter appear to have contributed their assistance to the maintenance of the family, as the following notice is printed on the cover of the Directory :- “ MRS. WILLIAMSON AND DAUGHTER, at their House, first fore stair above the head of Byres’s Close, Luckenbooths, Engraft Silk, Cotton, Thread, and Worsted Stockings, make Silk Gloves, and every article in the engrafting branch, in the neatest manner, and on the most reasonable terms ; likewise Silk Stockings washed in the most approved stile ; also Grave Cloaths made on the shortest notice. Orders given in at P. Williamson’s General Penny-Post Office, Luckenbooths, will be punctually attended to.’) “N.B.-Mantua-Making carried on in all its branches as formerly. From a process of divorce which he instituted in the year 1789 against his wife, and in which he was successful, it appears that but for the gross misbehaviour of the former, he might have attained pretty easy circumstances. The F’rocurator for the defender, in the case just alluded to, represents his
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