Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


272 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. His widow, as “ the most respectful tribute” she could pay to his memory, published a volume of his sermons in 1799. The volume contains twelve sermons-some of them on very interesting subjects-and all display comprehensiveness of idea, distinguished by considerable force and clearness of expression. No. CXI. JAMES MARSHALL, ESQ., WRITER TO THE SIGNET. THIS is a striking etching of a somewhat eccentric yet active man of business -one of the few specimens of the old school who survived the close of last century. The smart gait-the quick eye-aquiline nose-compressed lips-the silver spectacles, carelessly thrown upwards-the cocked hat firmly crowning the old black wig-and the robust appearance of the whole figure, at once bespeak the strong nerve and decisive character of the original. Almost every sexagenarian in Edinburgh must recollect JAMESM ARSHALL, Writer to the Signet. He was a native of Strathaven, in Lanarkshire, and made his debut upon the stage of life in the year 1731. From his having become a Writer to the Signet at a period when that society was more select than it is at present, we may fairly presume that his parents were respectable, and possessed of at least some portion of the good things of this world. Mr. Marshall was both an arduous and acute man of business ; but he possessed one accomplishment that might have been dispensed with, for he was one of the most profound swearers of his day; so much so, that few could possibly compete with him. Every sentence he uttered had its characteristic oath ; and, if there was any degree of wit at all in the numerous jokes which his exuberance of animal spirits suggested, it certainly lay in the peculiar magniloquent manner in which he displayed his “ flowers of eloquence.” As true chroniclers, however, we must not omit recording a circumstance which, notwithstanding this most reprehensible habit, does considerable credit to the heart of the heathen lawyer, One day the poor Washerwoman whom he employed appeared at his office in Milne’s Square with her head attired in a mourning coif, and her countenance unusually rueful. “ What-what is the matter, Janet 1” said the writer, in his usual quick manner. Janet replied, in faltering accents, that she had lost her gzldeman. ‘‘ Lost your man !” said Marshall ; at the same time throwing up his spectacles, as if to understand the matter more thoroughly, “How the d- did that happen!” Janet then stated the melancholy occurrence by which she had been bereaved. It seems that at that time extensive buildings were going on about the head of Leith Walk j and, from
Volume 8 Page 381
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