Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, 341 and Francis for years puzzled his brains in vain to find out the cause of his extraordinary ill luck in the piscatorial exploits of that eventful day. He was married, but had no family. He resided in a house at the Calton Hill, where he died in 1818, his widow surviving him only a few years. The most of his property was bequeathed in various sums to the different charities of the city. Mr. Ronaldson w&s a native of Edinburgh No. CXXXIX. REV. ROBERT WALKER, ONE OF THE MINISTERS OF THE HIGH CHURCH, EDINBURGH. THIS much esteemed clergyman was for upwards of twenty years a colleague of the celebrated Dr. Blair, whose memoir has already been given. MR. WALKERw as born in the Canongate of Edinburgh in 1716, his father being minister of that parish.' He studied at the University of Edinburgh, and in 1737 was licensed by the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright. In 1738 he received a unanimous call to the parish of Straiton, situated within the bounds of the Presbytery of Ayr, to which he was ordained; and for nearly eight years continued zealously to discharge the duties of the pastoral office among the parishioners, by whom he was much beloved and respected. He has been frequently heard to declare in after life, that he looked back upon the years passed at Straiton as the most satisfactory period of his life. From Straiton, in 1746, he was called to the second charge in South Leith. Being then in the prime of life he appeared in the pulpit to great advantage, and became very popular. Here he remained till 1754, when he was appointed to one of the, collegiate charges in the High Church, where he continued during the remainder of his life. Mr. Walker maintained a high character, both as a man and as a preacher. He published two volumes of Sermons,2 which long retained their popularity, and are yet so much admired by preachers, that, with a few alterations, they are frequently adopted by some in the pulpit as their own ! With his colleague Dr. Elair, notwithstanding a difference of opinion on some minor points, he lived on terms of the closest friendship and intimacy; and although he did not aspire to the literary fame of that divine, his eloquence as a preacher was not He was uncle of the late Robert Walker of Canongate. A new edition, accompanied by a third volume, with an account of his life by h. Blair, wae published after his death.
Volume 8 Page 485
  Enlarge Enlarge  
348 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. less commanding, nor his local popularity inferior. The celebrity of the one existed principally among the higher classes in the city ; while the more evangelical discourses of the other endeared him to the less opulent, yet equally, if not more, devout portion of the community. The congregations of the two incumbents were thus very dissimilar in character. Dr. Blair's was less numerous than that of Mr. Walker, but the church-door collections of the former were much greater. Hence the elders were wont to remark, that it took tumty-four of Mr. Walker's hearers to equal one of Dr. Blair's. In private life, Mr. Walker was certainly more generdly esteemed than his colleague. This probably arose from a familiarity on the part of the one which was in some measure foreign to the character and manners of the other ; and there was at least one virtue-liberality in money matters-which he possessed to a greater extent than his literary colleague. One day during the repairs of the High Church, while the two ministers were looking on, the workmen importuned Mr. Walker for some money to drink their healths. To this Mr. Walker jocularly replied-" Apply to my colleague," whom they knew to be not remarkably generoueat the same time quietly giving them five shillings. Mr. Walker was highly Calvinistic in his religious views ; and, where he conceived it to be his duty, no man could be more firm in denouncing any derelictions of a public or private nature. He was an enemy to many public amusements. During the early part of his incumbency in the High Church the celebrated case of Home, the author of Douglas, called in an especial manner the attention of the clergy to the stage, and brought down their severest denouncements. On reading the admonition of the Presbytery of Edinburgh from the pulpit, on the 30th of January 1757, he entered warmly and fearlessly upon the subject of theatrical representations. On another occasion, which caused no inconsiderable degree of excitement in the city, some thirteen years afterwards, he spoke out with equal boldness ; and, although at the present day there may not be many who will coincide to the full in his opinions with respect to the stage, all must admire the manly tone of his sentiments, and the eloquence with which they were expressed. The circumstance to which we allude occurred in 1770, when the comedy of the Minor, under the management of Mr. Foote,l was performed on the Saturday evening. The occurrence gave rise to severe remarks in the periodical works of the time ; and called forth a sermon from the Rev. Mr. Baine (whose Portrait will be found in a subsequent part of this work), which he published and dedicated to Mr. Foote, The following account of the affair is from one of the London journals-the article having been forwarded from Edioburgh :- Mr. Ross, Mr. Foote is manager of the Edinburgh Theatre this winter. of the Theatres in London. the winter with the Com?niam?y-a comedy written by Mr. Foote. splendid, and the performance highly relished. Wednesday, and Saturday."-Theatrical Notice, Nov. 1770. t " By an agreement between Mr. Foote, patentee of the Theatre in the Haymarket, London, and Mr. Ross is returned to one On Saturday, November 17th, the Edinburgh Theatre was opened for The audience was numerous and The playa are regularly continued every Monday,
Volume 8 Page 486
  Enlarge Enlarge