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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


240 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHEd. Such is a sketch of the first era of the Royal Edinburgh Volunteers. They were not, however, allowed to remain long unembodied. The peace which had been proclaimed with great ceremony at the cross of Edinburgh on the 4th of May 1802 lasted something less than a year, when the threatening aspect of affairs again roused the scarcely tranquil feelings of the country. The great preparations made by the Emperor Napoleon to invade this country were met by a corresponding effort on the part of the British Government, which was supported bp the united energies of the whole people. In few places was the spirit of the country more signally displayed than in Edinburgh. Upwards of four thousand volunteers were enrolled ; and notwithstanding the great sacrifice of time which the proper training to arms required, all men seemed actuated with one spirit, and cheerfully and without complaint submitted to the tedious process of military instruction, aware of the importance of order and discipline against an enemy whose bravery was unquestioned, and who had given so many proofs of great military skill and enterprise. On the 30th September 1803 the Royal Edinburgh Volunteers resumed their warlike banners. On this occasion the regiment was augmented to a thousand rank and file; and, in conformity with the general orders previously issued, their dress was changed to scarlet with blue facings. Notwithstanding the " mighty note of preparation," the military operations which followed this new enrolment were happily not of a more sanguinary nature than those of the former. With the exception of forming guard occasionally when a fire occurred in the city, the duties of the Volunteers were confined to the usual routine of drills, field-days, and reviews-and these they continued to perform year after year with unabating zeal. In 1806, when new regulations urere issued limiting the allowance to volunteer corps, the First Regiment stood unaffected by them. The circumstance seemed rather to stimulate their patriotism. " I wish to remind you," said their Lieut.-Colonel, addressing them one day while on parade, " that we did not take up arms to please any minister, or set of ministers, but to defend our land from foreign and domestic enemies." One of their great field-days occurred on his Majesty's birth-day, 1807, when the Lieutenant-Colonel, the Right Honourable Charles Hope (then Lord Justice Clerk), was presented with a valuable sabre, of superb and exquisite workmanship, in testimony of their regard for him as an officer and a gentleman. The sword was presented by Thomas Martin, Esq., sergeant of grenadiers, in name of the noncommissioned officers and 'privates. In the year 1820, during the disturbances of the west, the Edinburgh Volunteers garrisoned the Castle, to enable the regular troops stationed there to proceed to G1asgow.l It was then, aa many professional gentlemen were w a ~pr eached by the Rev. Principal Baird (their chaplain), from Isaiah ii. 3, 4. "he Lord Provost and the Magistratea were present in their robes, and the congregation was very respectahla and genteeL A liberal collection, amounting to upwards of $111, was made for the industrious poor and destitute sick." The c o y volunteered, if necessary, to leave Edinburgh, and co-operate with the regular troops, and one night remained actually under marching orders.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 241 enrolled as privates, no unfrequent occurrence to find barristers pleading in the Parliament House, attired in warlike guise, with their gowns hastily thrown over their red coats. A short time afterwards the corps was somewhat unceremoniously disbanded. MR. ARCHIBALD GILCHRIST, whose well-proportioned figure has been so aptly selected by the artist as a specimen of the Edinburgh Volunteers, is represented in the old or blue uniform, having been an original member of the corps. His father, who was a native of Lanarkshire, came to Edinburgh about the middle of last century, and commenced business as a haberdasher in a “land” at the back of the Old City Guard. His shop, or warehouse, was one stair up, and on the same flat with that of Mr. John Neil, also a haberdasher. These establishments were at that time the only two of the kind of any extent in the city. Mr. Gilchrist having assumed as partners two of his nephews of the name of Mackinlay, the business was subsequently carried on under the designation of Archibald Gilchrist and Co.’ Shortly after the death of his father, the firm being dissolved, Mr. Archibald Gilchrist opened a new establishment on the South Bridge, about 1785, when he became ‘‘ Haberdasher to the Prince of Wales ;” and in accordance with the prosperity of the times, carried on a more fashionable and extensive business than had previously been attempted in Edinburgh. He subsequently removed to that shop in the High Street, at the corner of Hunter Square-which property he purchased in 1792. Mr. Gilchrist was in every respect a worthy citizen-eminent as a trader-and highly esteemed both in public and private life. He was elected a member of the Town Council in 1796, held the office of Treasurer in 1797-8, and was chosen one of the Magistrates in 1801. In person he was remarkably handsome, and always exhibited the nicest attention to neatness and propriety in his dress. He was social in dispositionfree without levity ; and, although by no means given to indulgence, possessed so much of the civic taste attributed to a past era, as to make him a very suitable participator in the luxuries of a civic banquet. Indeed, prior to the introduction of the present “ baw-bone ” system, the science of good eating is allowed to have been admirably understood by the corporation. It is told of Mr. Gilchrist, that while engaged on one occasion with his brother‘ councillors in discussing the dishes of a well-replenished table, and observing the last cut of a superior haunch of venison just in the act of being appropriated by the dexterous hand of the town-clerk-‘‘ Hold,” cried he, willing to test the oflcid estimate of the precious morsel, “ I’ll give ye half-a-crown for the plate.” ‘‘ Done,” said Mr. Gray, at the same time making the transfer-“down with your money.” Mr. Gilchrist at once tabled the amount, and thus had his joke and his venison. 1 Lord Provost Spittal was for many years in this establiihment. * It i R in allusion to this that the artiit has placed the Prince of Wales’ coronet at the foot of the eqmving. 2 1
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