Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 289 Besides the voluminous correspondence which he almost constantly maintained with men of literature of all nations, and the incessant exertions into which his active mind betrayed him, the Earl was not insensible to the softer wooings of the Muses, to whom his leisure moments were sometimes devoted. Only a very few of these productions, however, have been given to the public ; but we have been informed that he excelled in a “light, elegant, extemporaneous style of poetry.” The Earl of Buchan married, on the 15th October 1771, Margaret, eldest daughter of William Fraser, Esq. of Fraserfield, but had no issue. His lordship died in 1829,’ and was succeeded by his nephew, Henry David, eldest son of his brother, the Hon. Henry Erskine. No. CXVII. HENRY D UNDAS, VIS COUNT MELVILLE, IN THE UNIFORM OF THE ROYAL EDINBURGH VOLUNTEERS. As we have previously mentioned, MR. SECRETARDYU NDAbSe came a member of the “Royal Edinburgh Volunteers” on the 6th July 1795. He was immediately requested to accept the station of Captain-Lieutenant-an honour which he declined. In his letter of reply, addressed to Lord Provost Stirling, after acknowledging in handsome terms the mark of respect paid to him, he says-“ I shall always recollect the proposition with the sentiments I ought. But it is my sincere conviction that the precedent of filling any commission with the name of a person whose other avocations may prevent him from exercising the duties of it, may ultimately prove detrimental to the principle of the establishment; and I trust, therefore, my declining to accept of it will be received as an additional proof of the sense I entertain of the incalculable utility of the corps, established and acting upon the principles which have contributed to bring them to that perfection which cannot but secure to them the,admiration of every lover of his country.” At the “grand field day of the whole brigade of Edinburgh and Leith Volunteers,” which took place at Drylaw Mains, on the 16th October 1798, Mr. Secretary Dundas was present. Sir Ralph Abercromby was then Commanderin- Chief in Scotland. The following particulars from the Courant of that period, relative to the review, may be deemed interesting :- “ The different corps paraded in the New Town at ten o’clock, and marched There are numerous portraits and busts of his lordship. An excellent paiuting (from Sir Joshua Reynolds) adorna the hall of the Scottish Antiquaries. Another, by Alexander Runciman, is in the Museum of the Perth Antiquarian Society. He also presented to the Faculty of Advocates a portrait in crayons, with an inscription written by himself, and highly complimentary to the donor. 2 P
Volume 8 Page 405
  Enlarge Enlarge  
290 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. in sub-divisions to Drylaw Mains, about three miles from town, in the following order :-Light Horse, Royal Edinburgh Artillery, First Regiment, first battalion of the Second Regiment, Royal Edinburgh Highlanders, second battalion of the Second Regiment, Leith Volunteers, Mid-Lothian Artillery. After arriving on the ground, the brigade drew up in a line, which extended a great length. A salute mas then fired by the Artillery on each flank; and his Excellency Sir Ralph Abercromby, Commander-in-Chief, attended by General Vyse, the North British staff, several other officers, and the Right Hon. Secretary Dundas, entered from the right, and rode along the whole line. Mr, Dundas was dressed in the uniform of the First Regiment, of which he is a private. In passing the line both times he rode with his hat off. The appearance and discipline of the different corps gave general satisfaction to the military gentlemen and a numerous body of spectators. A party of the Norfolk Cavalry and Shropshire Militia attended to keep the ground clear.” Lord Melville at one time proposed that a certain allowance weekly should be given to the members of the First Regiment of Edinburgh Volunteers, but the offer was declined. No. CXVIII. ANDREW NICOL, WITH A PLAN OF HIS MIDDENSTEAD. THIS is one of the “ Parliament House worthies ” mentioned in the Traditions of Edinburgh, where, he is described as “ a sensible-looking man, with a large blue bonnet, in which guise Kay has a very good portrait of him, displaying, with chuckling pride, a plan of his precious middenstead.” MUCKA NDREWa,s he was familiarly termed, was a native of the ancient burgh of Kinross. He was a linen-weaver to trade ; and, if,not in affluent circumstances, could at all events boast an honest independence, in the possession of a house and a kail-yard, which had descended to him through a long line of forefathers. About the beginning of this century it was esteemed quite an unfashionable thing for a gentleman of property not to have a law-suit. Poor Andrew unluckily fell a victim to the mania. Some misunderstanding having arisen between him and a neighbour proprietor about the situation or boundary of a dunghill, nothing less could adjust matters than an appeal to a court of law. Andrew seems to have been successful in the inferior courts; but his opponent, having a longer purse, carried the case to the Court of Session, and by one expedient or other, protracted a decision until he compelled poor Andrew to litigate in forma pauperis. The whole affair was certainly a satire on judicial proceedings j but it took such possession of the simpleton’s mind as to engross
Volume 8 Page 406
  Enlarge Enlarge