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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


184 .BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Sir John Stuart Forbes, who succeeded him in the title and estates, married a daughter of the late Marquis of Lothian; the second, Charles, was a banker in the firm of Sir William Forbes and Co. ; and the third, James David, was the distinguished Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh. The scene represented in the background of the Print is referable to the charity almost daily bestowed by Sir William on a number of “ pensioners,” who were in the habit of frequenting the Parliament Square at stated periods, where they were certain of meeting their benefactor as he entered or retired from the banking-house. No. LXXVII. THOMAS FRASER (A NATURAL). THIS is another of those “Characters” for which Edinburgh was so much famed some fifty or sixty years ago. Tom was a thorough mountaineer, and extremely fond of the “ dew.” He would do any thing for a sip of his favourite beverageAance, sing, run, fight, carry a load, or perform any thing at all, only promise him “ a dram and a sneeshin.” He is here represented as in possession of what seemed to him the very essence of human bliss-a glass of whiskybestowed by his kind hostess, to whom his attitude and eye are significant of the most heartfelt gratitude. Tom was employed as a sweeper about the stables of Mr. Peter Ramsay, vintner,’ at the Cowgate Port, where he constantly resided; and at night, a little straw in one of the stalls formed the shake-down of the poor natural. In short, the stable, as the song has it, “ Served him for kitchen, parlour, and hall.” He never partook of any thing in the house, except when called in for the entertainment of a company, to whom, for a glass of whisky, he would either exhibit himself in a Highland reel, or sing a song, in which he could ingeniously accompany himself with a very harmonious bass, produced by his fingers upon the table or pannel of the door. Thomas died in 1789. 1 Brother to William Ramsay, Esq., the fint proprietor of Barnton, and father of the late Williain Ramsay, Esq., banker. The “Traditions of Edinburgh” mention that “General Paoli was its guest, in 1773 ;” the same authority adds, as illustrative of the more homelymannera of former times, “that the sows upon which the late Duchess of Gordon and her witty sister (Lady Wallace) rode, when children, were not the common vagrants of the High Street, but belonged to Peter Ramsay, the celebrated stabler in St. Mary’s Wynd, ,and were permitted to roam abroad. The two romps used to watch the animals as they were let loose in the forenoon from the stable-yard, and get upon their backs the moment they issued from the ‘close. The late Mr. William Ramsay, of Charlotte Square, took great pleasure in talking of his father, and used to affirm that he was the best judge of horses and dogs in the kingdom. Ramsay’s Inn was an establishment of great respectability in its day.
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