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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


E1 0 GRAPH I C AL 8 RE T C I3 E S. 205 No. LXXXV. VOLTAIRE, THE FRENCH PHILOSOPHER, AND MR. WATSON, AN EDINBURGH MESSENGER. THE remarkable similarity of physiognomy existing between the Philosopher of Ferney and the humble Edinburgh Messenger was the cause of their heads being etched in the present form. About the period of the execution of this print, the Scottish capital was profuse in the display of odd characters j and living portraitures' of some of the greatest men of the age were to be found walking the streets of the city. In Miles M'Phail the caddy, Lord North the British Prime Minister, might daily be seen shouldering a load of beef or mutton; while, in the still more exact personification of old Watson the Messenger, the noted Philosopher of France became a petty process-server and a beagle of the law. The likeness of the famous VOLTAIEE was copied by Kay from a painting on the lid of a snuff-box belonging to John Davidson, Esq., Writer to the Signet: with which the head of Mr. Watson was placed in contrast, that the similarity, as well as any little difference of feature, might be more conspicuous. A yery striking instance of the similar structure of faces is recorded in the Gallic Reports, in the case of Martin Guerre and Arnauld de Filk. The latter, taking advantage of the absence of the former, and having made himself master of the most minute circumstances of his life, through this surprising resemblance, so imposed himself, not only on the relations of Martin Guerre, but even upon his wife, that he was not suspected for several years; and when at length, from some untoward circumstances, he fell under suspicion of being an impostor, he cheerfully submitted to a regular prosecution, in which he behaved with such address, that, of near 150 witnesses examined on the affair, between thirty and forty deposed that he was the true Martin Guerre, among whom were Martin's four sisters and two of their husbands ; and of the remainder of the witnesses, sixty and upwards declared the resemblance between the penons so strong that it was simply impossible to affirm with certainty whether the accused was the true Martim or not. In short, Ainauld de Filk for a long time puzzled the Parliament of Toulouse, even after the true Martin Guerre was returned, and they appeared together face to face. At the present day, almost 8 counterpart of Napoleon will be found in the penon of 8 celebrated foreign musician, presently resident in Edinburgh. He is distinguished by the same peculiarity in walking, his arms resting carelessly behind his back ; is of the same height, and the same cast of features. A few years ago, a young gentleman was taken up in London on about fourteen different charges of swindling, and was brought to trial on what we would here term separate indictments. On one of these he was convicted, but on the reat was acquitted ; having, although positively sworn to, proved satisfactorily alibis in each of them. It turned out that the delinquencies had been perpetrated by an individual, his complete counterpart. Of course he received 8 free pardon in the instance where he had been convicted, and where he had been unable to prove an alibi. Mr. Davidson obtained posseasion of the box while on a visit to Paris, where the likeness was considered remarkably f a i t h f a
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206 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Why two heads, apparently so nearly proportioned, should have been distinguished, in the one case, by so much genius, and, in the other, by so little, we leave the phrenologists to determine. We need not tire our readers by any of our lucubrations on the life and character of the “Little Philosopher,” whose writings and principles are so much interwoven with the late history of France. MR. WATSON, who is represented by the figure on the right, was a person little known beyond the sphere of his calling. He continued a bachelor, but is said to have had a particular affection for children. He formerly resided in the Covenant Close, but latterly removed to the Anchor Close, where he died not many years ago, leaving his property, which was considerable, to a nephew. No. LXXXVI. MR. WILLIAM SMELLIE, PRINTER, F.R.S. & F.A.S., AND MR. ANDREW BELL, ENGRAVER. THE figure on the right represents the late MR. WILLIAM SMELLIE, printer, the author of the Philosophy of Natural History, and translator of the works of Buffon. It is by no means one of Kay’s happiest efforts, as, instead of the vacant expression here delineated, the prevailing cast of Mr. Smellie’s features was grave and thoughtful; but this defect may have arisen in consequence of the figure being originally that of a Mr. Gavin, and afterwards changed to Mr. Smellie. He was born in the Pleasance of Edinburgh in 1740. Both his father and grandfather were architects, and were possessed of considerable property at St. Leonards, in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. He married, in March 1763, Miss Jane Robertson, daughter of an eminent army-agent in London. This lady was full cousin to Mrs. Oswald of Dunnikier, their mothers having been sisters. Mr. Smellie’s only brother, named John, married Miss Apes Ferrier, sister of the late James Ferrier, Esq., Principal Clerk of Session. Independently of his professional eminence-being the most learned printer of his day-Mr. Smellie’s talents procured him the constant society and friendship of nearly all the eminent literary characters who flourished towards the latter end of the last century. For his great convivial qualities and brilliant wit we have the testimony of many kindred spirits ; among whom may be mentioned the poet Burns, who thus describes him, in a letter to a venerable old gentleman, Mr. Peter Hill, late bookseller in Edinburgh :-‘‘ There in my eye is our friend Smellie, a man positively of the first abilities and greatest
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