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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


242 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Mr. Gilchrist died upon the 10th September 1804, at the premature age of thirtyeight. He was succeeded in the business by his brother William, who also attained to the magistracy, and died in 1826. Of the two surviving brothers of the family, John and Edward, the former had a respectable appointment in the Custom-House ; and the latter, who was in bad health for several years, also held a situation in connection with the Port of Leith. John, who attained the age of seventy years, was yet “hale and hearty,” and an excellent representative of the old school. No one who ever met him at the social board, or experienced the kindness of his welcome, and the exhilarating effects of a glass and a song at his “ain fireside,” could fail to recognise in his robust person, and free and hospitable manners, a characteristic specimen of the last century inhabitants of Edinburgh.‘ He held his appointment in the Custom-House nearly twenty-seven years, and faithfully discharged the duties of the office during that long period. He was so universally esteemed, that, on retiring from office in 1827, he had the honour of being presented with a massive box from the “ Merchants and Officers of the Customs at the Port of Leith.” In the language of Mr. Cassels, who addressed Mr. Gilchrist on the occasion, it might well be said that, having during the long period of his official service “uniformly enjoyed, not only the approbation of his superiors and the friendship of his associates, but the unqualified opinion of the merchants and traders of the port, it must be allowed that he has conducted himself in every way becoming an officer and a gentleman.” Mr. Archibald Gilchrist married a Miss M‘Callum, daughter of a Glasgow merchant, and by her had seven children, most of whom died when young. Eliza, the eldest daughter, was married to a Dr. Carrick of London, and died there. Mr. Gilchrist is well known in Edinburgh as an amateur vocalist of no common excellence. He was one of the original members of the “ Harmonists’ Society,” instituted in 1826 by Mr. John Mather of Sheffield. To the last he attended their meetings, and took part in the perforniances with all the enthusiasm of his younger yearn. His range of songs embraced many of the most popular productions known to the musical world-whether of the grave or gay, the lively or severe. Indeed, it was astonishing to hear such songs as “The Sea”-“Black-Eyed Susan”-or “The Wolf,” sung by a septuagenarian with all the spirit and pathos of youth, and with a voice neither deficient in harmony nor power. The musical talents of Mr. Gilchrist have been repeatedly noticed in the public journals of this city. In reporting the annual dinner of the “ Harmonists’ Society,” in 1834, a writer in the Caledonian Mercury observes-“ Among other distinguished amateurs, we were happy to notice Mr. Gilchrist, the celebrated sexagenarian vocalist, flourishing in all the freshness of a green old age, and with a voice that appears to gather strength with his advancing years. We trust we shall not excite the jealousy of the professional gentlemen present, if WB state that Mr. Gilchrist’s singing of “ The Sea” w83 the most striking performance of the evening. To a voice of great natural power and compass, Mr. Gilchrist adds a highly finished execution, which he can only have attained by the most assiduous culture.” * * * The other newspapers alluded to Mr. Gilchrist in similar terms of approbation.
Volume 8 Page 339
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Volume 8 Page 340
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