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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


176 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. great excellence of his conversational powers, frequently led to social sittings not altogether in accordance with his clerical character. Like most other gzcdewives, Mrs. Webster did not silently succumb to his repeated infringements of domestic regularity; and, in answer to her close-questioning on these occasions, the minister used frequently to excuse himself by saying that he had “just been down calling for Dr. Erskine, and the Doctor had insisted on him staying to supper.” Dr. Erskine, at length coming to understand in what manner his good name was made the excuse of his friend’s derelictions, resolved in a goodhumoured way to put a stop to the deception. “ One night, therefore, when Dr., Webster was actually in his house, in an accidental way he made an excuse to retire, and, leaving Webster to sup with Mrs. Erskine, went up to the Castlehill to call for Mrs. Webster. Dropping in as if nothing unusual was in the wind, he consented to remain with Mrs. Webster to supper; and thus the two clergymen supped with each other’s wives, and in each other’s houses, neither of the said wives being aware of the fact, and Webster equally ignorant of the plot laid against his character for verity. Long before Webster’s usual hour for retiring, Dr. Erskine took leave of Mrs. Webster, and returned to his own house, where he found his friend as yet only, as it were, pushing off from the shore of sobriety. When his time was come, Webster went home, and being interrogated as usual, ‘Why,’ answered he, now at least speaking the truth, ‘I’ve just been down at Dr. Erskine’s.’ The reader may conceive the torrent of indignant reproof which, after having been restrained on a thousand occasions when it was deserved, burst forth upon the head of the unfortunate and for once innocent Doctor. When it had at length subsided, the Doctor discovered the hoax which had been played off’ upon him ; and the whole affair was explained satisfactorily to both parties next day, by Dr. Erskine’s confession. But Mrs. Webster declared that, from that time forth, for the security of both parties from such deceptions, she conceived it, would be as well, when Dr. Webster happened to be supping with Dr. Erskine, that he should bring home with him a written affidavit, under the hand of his host, testifying the fact.” Another anecdote, highly characteristic of his unbounded charity and extreme simplicity of manner, is told of the worthy and unostentatious old clergyman. For several Sabbaths Dr. Erskine had returned from Church minus his pockethandkerchief, and could not account for the loss. The circumstance attracted the particular notice of Mrs. Erskine, who had for some time past observed an elderly looking poor woman constantly occupy a seat on the stair leading to the pulpit. Suspicion could scarcely attach itself to so demure a looking Christian; but Mrs. Erskine resolved to unriddle the mysterious affair by sewing a handkerchief to the pocket of Mr. Erskine’s Sunday coat. Next Sabbath the old gentleman, thus “ armed against the spell,” was proceeding in his usual manner towards the pulpit, when, on passing the suspected demure-looking carline, he felt a gentle “ nibble ” from behind. The Doctor’s displeasure could not be roused, however ; he turned gently round, and clapping “ detected guilt ” on the head, merely remarked, “ No the day, honest woman ; no the day ! ” .
Volume 8 Page 249
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Volume 8 Page 250
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