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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 267 misfortune, after a sharp combat of an hour and a half, to have expended every shot that we had of our artillery. Under such circumstances we were of course compelled to surrender.” According to his own account, Colonel Campbell at first experienced most honourable and humane treatment from the authorities at Boston. A sudden change, however, followed. In a letter addressed to General Howe, and forwarded to him through the hands of the Council at Boston, Colonel Campbell thus describes his situation :- . I Concord Gaol, February 14, 1777. * * “ I am lodged in a dungeon of twelve or thirteen feet square, whose sides are black with the grease and litter of successive criminals. Two doors, with double locks and bolts, shut me up from the yard, with an express prohibition to enter it, either for my health or the necessary calls of nature. “ Two small windows, strongly grated with iron, introduce a gloomy light to the apartment, and these are at this hour without a single pane of glass, although the season, for frost and snow, is actually in the extreme. In the corner of the cell, boxed up with the partition, stands a * which does not seem to have been cleared since its first appropriation to this convenience of malefactors. A loathsome black-hole, decorated with a pair of fixed chains, is granted me for my inner apartment, from whence a felon was but the moment before removed, to make way for your humble servant, and in which his litter to this hour remains. The attendance of a single servant on my person is also denied me, and every visit from a friend positively refused.” I . * * It was in this loathsome dwelling that Colonel Campbell pencilled the sketch of ‘‘ General Buttons Marching to Saratoga with Plunder.” During the Colonel’s confinement, a variety of events had occurred unfavourable to the British interest, -among others, the surrender of General Burgoyne and his small army, at the heights of Saratoga, on the 17th October 1777. General Buttons is accordingly represented on his march from the “field of spoil;” and, it must be granted, he has contrived to make the most of his limited means of conveyance. The cruel treatment of Colonel Campbell and other British officers by the Americans originated in the law of retaliation, which they considered themselves warranted in adopting by the conduct of the British towards Colonel Ethen Allan and General Lee, in treating them not as prisoners of war but as criminals. As soon as the Congress was informed of the capture of General Lee, they offered six field-officers-of whom Colonel Campbell was one-in exchange. This the British General (Howe) refused. It was contended in Findication of the British, however, that even waiving the peculiar relation in which the prisoners stood, as having violated their allegiance, they had proper attendants, and were comfortably lodged. The imprisonment of Colonel Campbell continued till the exchange of prisoners was effected in the month of February following-the capture of General Burgoyne having led to a speedy and amicable arrangement.
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268 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. KO. CVIII. MR. JOHN WRIGHT, LECTURER ON LAW. MR. WRIGHT was the son of a poor cottar in Argyleshire,' who, by smuggling between that coast and the Isle of Man, was enabled to maintain his family for many years in comparative comfort ; but, finding his " occupation gone," in consequence of the strict prohibitory measures enforced by Government, a short time prior to the transfer of the sovereignty of that island in 1768, he left the Highlands and settled in Greenock. Here the future " lecturer on law," who had been bred to the humble occupation of a shoemaker, manifested an uncommon desire for knowledge. Whilst employed at his laborious avocation, his mind was generally engaged in study. It is told of him, that to aid his memory in acquiring a knowledge of the Latin language, and not having the command of writing materials, he used to conjugate the verbs on the wall of his work-room with the point of his awl. Having mastered the rudiments of the Latin tongue, he removed to Glasgow, where, with no other assistance than the proceeds of his labour, he entered a student at the University ; and, notwithstanding the manifest disadvantages under which he laboured, made rapid progress in his studies. Indeed, so decided was his success that he soon found himself almost wholly relieved from the drudgery of shoemaking, by giving private lessons to his less assiduous class-fellows-many of whom, being the sons of noblemen and wealthy commoners, remunerated him liberally for his instructions. The views of our scholastic aspirant being directed towards the Church, he was in due course of time licensed to preach ; but finding himself destitute of patronage-and perhaps aware, from a deficiency in oratorical powers, that he might never become popular in the pulpit-he yielded to the advice of several of the professors, whose friendship his talents had secured, and set about attaining a more thorough knowledge of the higher branches of mathematics, which at that period were not considered so essential as they now are to the student of divinity. After having attained, if not the reality, but what was in his case much better, the reputation of knowledge in this new study, Mr. Wright removed to Edinburgh, where he commenced teaching mathematics and the science of military architecture. This proved a very lucrative speculation, a great number of young men about Edinburgh being at the time preparing to go out to India. With the view of ultimately pushing himself forward to the bar, Mr. Wright 1 In the minutes of the Faculty of Advocates, Mr. Wright is described-"eldest son of the deceased Mr. John Wright, of the parish of Kilfinnan, in Argyleshire."
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