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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 197
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 139 Penny-post as being a very lucrative business, bringing him in ready money every hour of the day, and employing four men to distribute the letters at four shillings and sixpence weekly each. In his replies Williamson alleges that hi0 income was but trifling ; that his Directory paid him very poorly j and that his wife robbed him of three-fourths of the profit of the post. In corroboration of this state of his finances, he pursued the divorce, as a litigant, on the poors’ roll. It may be added that the opposing party hinted at Peter’s having acquired tippling habits ; but it is impossible to attach any credit to a statement evidently made for the purpose of creating a prejudice in the minds of the judges against him.’ The following notice of his death occurs in a newspaper of the period, 19th January 1799 :- “ At Edinburgh, Mr. Peter Williamson, well known for his various adventures through life. He was kidnapped when a boy at Aberdeen, and sent to America, for which he afterwards recovered damages. He passed a considerable time among the Cherokees, and on his return to Edinburgh amused the public with a description of their manners and customs, and his adventures among them, assuming the dress of one of their chiefs, imitating the war-whoop, etc. He had the merit of first instituting a Penny-post in Edinburgh, for which, when it was assumed by Government, he received a pension. He also was the fist , who published a Directory, so essentially useful in a large city.” From the intimation that he received a pension from Government, we should hope the latter days of this very enterprising and singular person were not embittered by penury. b No. LX. C 0 URT S H I P. THISP rint is probably a fancy piece, yet there are some circumstances connected with it which might induce a different belief. Kay at the time was courting his second wife, to whom he presented a copy of the caricature, which she rejected with displeasure, although, as has been naively remarked, “ she afterwards accepted a more valuable one” in the person of the limner himself. The gentleman with the singularly open countenance does possess in a slight degree the wntour of the artist ; but the ‘( charming creature,” with whom he seems so much captivated, cannot be considered as approaching even to a caricature of the late Mrs. Kay. A friend informs us that the female figure very strongly resembles an old woman who lived at the head of the Canongate. Williamson was very polite. A correapondent mentions “that when a letter waa taken to his house to be delivered by his Penny-post runners, he dWap made a most obsequious bow, adding, ‘ Many thanks to you, Si.’ ”
Volume 8 Page 198
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