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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 211 No. LXXXVII. THE RIGHT HONOURABLE DAVID EARL OF LEVEN AND MELVILLE. DAVID, sixth EARL of LEVEN and fifth of MELVILLE, was the only son of Alexander, fifth Earl of Leven, by Mary, daughter of Colonel Erskine of Carnock, and was born in 1722. His lordship entered the army in 1744, and held a company in the 16th Regiment of Foot ; but he left the military service on succeeding to the family titles and estates, by the demise of his father, in 1751. For a series of years his lordship seems to have interfered little in public matters. In 1773 he was appointed one of the Lords of Police-an office which he held till the abolition of that Board in 1782. In the following year he became Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly. In those days the “pomp and circumstance” of the Commissioner’s office were matters of much greater moment than they are at present. The levees ’ were then numerously attended by the nobility ; and the opening procession to the Assembly, in particular, created feelings of great excitement : the streets were thronged with people, and the windows crowded with all the beauty and fashion of the town, while the retinue of the Commissioner was generally numerous and imposing. The Sunday processions to church were also very attractive. In addition to the usual attendance of the military on such occasions, bands of music were in requisition, which, to the great annoyance of many a sturdy Presbyterian, struck up the moment the procession issued from the place where his Grace held his levee, and while it proceeded towards the High Church. The Commissioner was always preceded by the heralds, and followed by a long train of noblemen and gentlemen, both lay and clerical, besides ladies in full court dress.’ The Earl continued to act as Commissioner for nearly twenty years, and took much pleasure in the annual display of official greatness. The leader of the Assembly, during the greater part of that time, was the celebrated Principal Robertson, on the moderate side; his opponent being his own colleague in the Old Greyfriars’ Church, Dr. John Erskine of Carnock (cousin to the Earl), who led what was then called the dZd party. In 1801, the Earl (then in his 80th year) was succeeded in the Commissionership by Lord Napier ; and it may be mentioned, as an instance of the enthu- They were held in Fortune’s Tavern, Old Stamp-Office Close ; and when Fortune removed to . Princes Street, the levees took place in the King’s Arms Tavern, New Assembly Close, where the public dancing assemblies were held-afterwards the site of the Commercial Bank. The old Town Guard, who were always furnished with new unifoims for the occaaion, were allowed the honour of precedency, by takiug the right-hand side of the procession, in preference to the military.
Volume 8 Page 297
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