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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 27 they succeeded in obtaining from him no less a sum, it is said, than one hundred pounds sterling. The Doctor was a regular attendant at church, and always contributed to the plate. That his charity on such occasions might be duly appreciated by those who were in attendance, instead of throwing in his halfpence in the usual careless way, he piled them up into one solid massive column of copper, and gently placing the pillar down, left it, a conspicuous monument of his benevolence. One act of public spirit, however, does mark the Doctor’s-life, and if his motive in performing it, as was uncharitably reported at the time, was vanity, one cannot help being struck with the ingenuity which directed him on the occasion. He presented the governors of the Orphan Hospital with a bell! His fame was thus literally sounded throughout the city ; yet, lest any should have been ignorant of the gift, he took care when in company, on hearing it ring, to advert to its fine tone, and thus lead the way to a narrative of his generosity. The other figure in the Print represents Laird Robertson holding up one of his sticks ; the nndermost figure represents Principal Robertson ; the one on tlie top the eccentric Dr. James Graham, no great favourite of Dr. Glen’s. Eeing once troubled with sore eyes, after in vain trying the prescriptions of several physicians, he applied to Dr. Graham, who cured him in a very short time, for which he expressed great gratitude. Wishing to make him some remuneration, he consulted some of the young members of the Faculty ; and, as the most genteel way of doing what he wished, they recommended him to invite the Doctor and a few of his own friends to dinner in Fortune’s (the most fashionable tavern at that time), and provide himself with a hltndsome purse, containing thirty guineas or so, and offer it to the Doctor, which they assured him he would not accept. They accordingly met, and after a few bottles of wine had been drunk, the old Doctor called Dr, Graham to the window, and offered him the purse, which he at once accepted, and, with a very low bow, thanked him kindly for it. The Doctor was so chagrined that he soon left the company, who continued till a pretty early hour enjoying themselves at his expense. The father of Dr. Glen was a native of the west of Scotland, and had three sons, all of whom were prosperous in the world. One of these gentlemen was appointed governor of one of the 7Qest India Islands, where he amassed a large fortune, of which he left $30,000 to his niece, the daughter of the third brother, who ultimately succeeded to the reversion of the Doctor’s property. This amiable lady was subsequently married to the late Earl of Dalhousie, father to the present noble Earl. Dr. Glen enjoyed, by purchase, an annuity from the city of Edinburgh, of which he lived so long to reap the benefit, that the magistrates gave up all hopes of his ever dying at all, and began to consider him as one of the perpetual burdens of the city. He, however, died in 1786.
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28 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. x. A SLEEPY CONGREGATION. THE wit of this Print consists in representing a set of citizens, well known as little addicted to church-going, listening to a discourse from the most evangelical clergyman in the city, in a place of worship whose ordinary congregation was noted above all others for their ultra-Presbyterianism. The clergyman is the celebrated Dr. Webster, the precentor John Campbell, the place of worship the Tolbooth Church, being that in which Dr. Webster was the stated clergyman. The church was the south-west portion of St. Giles’s, and was so designated from its having been used in the reign of James VI. as a town-house, the supreme civil court being usually, and the Parliament occasionally, held in it. The congregation in Dr. Webster’s time were known by the appellation of ‘‘ the Tolbooth Whigs,” as making the nearest approach in practice and doctrine to the severe spirits of the days of Cameron and Cagill. It may well be supposed with what mirth the wit of Mr. Kay would be hailed by those to whom the character of both the real and the imaginary congregation was familiar. Dr. Alexander Webster was the son of an equally distinguished preacher, who had suffered in the persecuting times, and was afterwards clergyman in this very church.l Born in 1707, and educated to his father’s profession, he was, at an early age, ordained to the charge of Culross in Fife, where he made himself so remarkable for his eloquence, his piety, and generally for the fidelity, activity and diligence, with which he discharged the duties of the pastoral office, that he received a unanimous call, four years after his first ordination, from the congregation of the Tolbooth Church, to which charge he was inducted on the 2d June 1737. In this situation, which he held for the long period of forty-seven years, Dr. Webster continued to practise, on a scale extending with his opportunities, all those useful and amiable qualities which had distinguished him at the outset of The elder Webster was asserted by the Jacobite8 to be mad. There is a curious “Godlie Ballad,” lately privately printed from a MS. in the Advocates’ Library, of which he is the subject, and in which he is most severely handled. It commences- ‘( Great Meldrum is gone, let Webster succeed, A rare expounder of Scripture and creed, Who’s learning is nonsense, who’a temper is bad, It’s predestination that made him so mad By algebra he makes it appear to be true, Three deils and a half possest e-verie sow. Though his head be light, hia carcass is heavy, His bellie a midden of sack, flesh, and gravie,” etc. etc. etc. He died May 17, 1720.
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