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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


35 a BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Assembly Close. where he continued until his death. He subsequently removed to St John’s Street, Canongate, No. CXLI. MR. DAVID DOWNIE, GOLDSMITH IN EDINBURGH-TRIED FOR HIGH TREASON ALONG WITH ROBERT WATT IN 1794. TOWARDtSh e end of 1793, several meetings of the British Convention were held in Edinburgh. At one of them (5th December) the Magistrates interfered, dispersed the Convention, and apprehended ten or twelve of the members, among whom were several English delegates ; but who, after examination, were liberated on bail. The Magistrates at the same time issued a proclamation, prohibiting all such meetings in future j and giving notice to all persons “who shall permit the said meetings to be held in their houses, or other places belonging to them, that they will be prosecuted and punished with the utmost severity of law.” Notwithstanding this proclamation another meeting was summoned by the secretary, William Xkirving, to be held in the cock-pit, Grassmarket, on the 12th of December. On this occasion the Magistrates again interfered, and apprehended several of the members ; some of whom were served with indictments to take their trial before the High Court of Justiciary. It was about this time that Watt and Downie became deeply involved in those transactions for which they were condemned. After the dispersion of the British Convention, they became active members of a “ Committee of Union,” designed to collect the sense of the people, and to assemble another Convention. They were also members of a committee, called the “ Committee of Ways and Means ”---of which Downie was treasurer. In unison with the sentiments of the London Convention, it appears, the “Friends of the People” in Edinburgh had abandoned all hope of, or intention of further demanding, redress by constitutional means ; and the more resolute of them began to entertain designs of an impracticable and dangerous nature. Of these wild schemes Watt was a principal and active promoter. The first attempt of the Committee was to gain the co-operation of the military, or least to render them neutral ; for which purpose they printed an address, and circulated a number of copies among the Hopetoun Fencibles, then stationed at Dalkeith.1 A plan was also formed, by which it was The regiment was about to march for England. The object of the address was to excite the men to mutiny, by persuading them that they were sold to go abroad ; and that if they revolted, they would get thousands to assist them. John Geddes, a witness and one of the soldiers, said he read the address. 0 ! dear brothers, stay at home I ” Some of the words it contained were-“Stay at home !
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