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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


140 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. LXI. MR. WILLIAM MARTIN, BOOKSELLER AND AUCTIONEER IN EDINBURGH. MR. MARTIN, who was well known and extensively patronised in his profession, is here represented in the attitude of disposing of a picture, surrounded by an audience of literary gentlemen, connoisseurs in the fine arts. The heads are all likenesses of characters elsewhere sketched by Kay, and will be easily distinguished by the reader as the succeeding numbers of the Portraits appear, Martin, or " Bibles," as he was commonly called, is supposed to have been born at or near Airdrie, about the year 1744;' and like his contemporary, Lackington of London, was originally bred a shoemaker. For several years after he came to Edinburgh, Martin occupied a small shop in the High Street, near the head of the West Bow, where he combined the two very opposite professions of bookseller and cobbler. He also frequented the country towns around Edinburgh on fairs and other market-days, exposing his small stock of books for sale; and, by dint of great perseverance and industry, was soon able to 'withdraw his allegiance from Crispin altogether, and to devote the whole of his attention to the sale of books. His burgewticket is dated 1786-but he must have been well established in business many years previously. From a letter of condolence written by him to the widow of his brother, who died in America, he appears to have been in thriving circumstances so early as 1782. He says, " The awfully sudden and unfortunate death of my brother-the helpless situation in which you were left, and so many fatherless children-situate in a country surrounded with war and devastation, my thoughts thereupon may be more easily conceived than described. * * * My uneasiness has been much increased by the thoughts of the boy coming to me, that I might receive him safely, and that he might escape the dangers of so long a voyage. Indeed it has been the will of Providence to take all my children from me, and my intention is to adopt him (his nephew) as my own son. My situation in business I have no cause to complain of. I have a shop in the bookselling way in the Lawnmarket of Edinburgh, to which occupation I mean to put William, my namesake, and in which I hope he will do very well. I will give him the best education, and he shall be as well clothed as myself. * * * My wife has been very much indisposed for some time bypast, and is not yet much better. She is most anxious about William, and wishes much to see him, from which you may conclude his arrival would make us both very happy.'' It is uncertain at what period Martin came to Edinburgh. He used to boast that he was in arm during the Rebellion 1745.
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