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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, 375 obliged to retire again into the house ; Not content with this, they proceeded to the house of the Lord Advocate (Dundas of Amiston), whose windows they broke. It then became necessary to bring a party of the military from the Castle to prevent farther mischief. The Sheriff attended and read the riot act; but the mob not dispersing, after repeated intimation of the consequences, the military at last fired, when several persona were wounded, and some mortally. “On Wednesday, in the evening, the mob assembled in the New Town, with an htenfion of destroying the house of the Chief Magistrate.a A fire was lighted on the Castle, and two guns were fired, 89 a signal to the marines of the Bind frigate, stationed at Leith, and the dragoons quartered about a mile east of the town. and the mob began to break the windows. This put a period to the outrages for that night. On their appearance the mob finally separated.”3 During the prevalence of these riots, Provost Stirling prudently sought shelter in the Castle. In so doing he a‘cted wisely, as, if the mob had laid hands on him, there is no saying what might have followed. It was at this time that “Lang Sandy Wood,” whom the crowd mistook for the Provost, narrowly escaped being thrown over the North Bridge. The Magistrates, naturally alarmed at what had occurred, thought it best to lay the whole facts of the case before their fellow-citizens. With this view, a public meeting of the inhabitants was called, in the New Church aisle, on the Thursday forenoon following-the Lord Provost in the chair. Of this meeting the following account is given in the journals :- “ The Lord Advocate, Mr. Sheriff Pringle, the Lord-President, Lord Adam Gordon, Commanderin- Chief, &. Solicitor Blair, and several others, declared their sentiments. The meeting unanimously expressed their full approbation of the measures pimued by the Magistrates and the Sheriff, for suppressing the riots ; and publivhed resolutions to that effect. “A proclamation was issued the same evening, recommending to the people not to assemble in crowds, or remain longer on the streets than their lawful business required, as the most decisive measures had been resolved upon for quieting the least appearance of any farther disorder ; and offering a reward of one hundred guineas for discovery of the ringleaders. Fifty guinens were also offered by the Merchant Company, who, and all the incorporations, voted thanks to the hfagi8trates for the measures taken to suppress the riots. It is said that certain attempts to procure a vote of thanks to the Magistrates for introducing the military into the town,predozls to any riotous act, proved abortive.” Perhaps the zeal displayed by Provost Stirling, in support of the existing administration on this occasion, may have recommended him as a suitable object for ministerial favour; however this may be, on the 17th of July following, “the King was pleased to grant the dignity of a Baronet of the kingdom of Great Britain to the Right Hon. James Stirling, Lord Provost of the city of Edinburgh, and the heirs-male of his body lawfully begotten.” The gentlemen who made this hazardous attempt, we have been informed, were the late Lord Viscount Duncan, then Rear-Admiral of the White, and the late Sir Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre, then attending the law classes at the University. Duncan, although in his sixty-first year, was a strong athletic man. Armed with a crutch belonging to old Lady Dundas, which he seized on nwhing out of the house, he laid about him among the crowd with great vigour ; and even after the head of the crutch had been demolished, he continued to use the staff, until compelled to retreat by the overwhelming inequality of numbers. He then resided at the south-west corner of St. Andrew Square. a No damage was sustained upon the premises of the Lord Provost. The destruction was limited to two sentry-boxes placed near the door, it being then deemed an indispensable accessory to the dignily of Provost, that two of the city-guard should keep station before his house.
Volume 8 Page 523
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376 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. The irritation of the populace against Sir James gradually subsided ; and latterly vented itself entirely in pasquinadoes and lampoons, in which the humble origin of the Baronet was not spared. Kay contributed his quota to the general fund of amusement by producing the following caricature, which he entitled a “Patent for Knighthood ! ” No. CL. HENRY DUNDAS, AND SIR JAMES STIRLING, BART. THE satirical allusion of this Print will be best understood by reference to the debate in the House of Commons in the month of May prior to the disturbances. The subject of discussion was the King’s proclamation (already alluded to), which the Whigs opposed as tyrannical and unnecessary. After several speakers had delivered their sentiments, MT. Cowtenay said-“ The proclamation was a severe censure on ministers for not having discharged their dutyin not having prosecuted the libels, which they said had existence for several months. He declared his misbelief of the proclamation having been intended for insidious purposes by one of his‘ Majesty’s cabinet ministers, the Home Secretary (Mr. Dundas), whose good nature and civility had always induced him to accommodate himself to every minister; which good nature and civility called to his mind the old man in Edinburgh, who used to go about with a pail and great-coat, calling out-‘ Wha wants me P ’ The honourable Secretary, upon every change of administration, had imitated the old man, by calling out -‘ Wha wants me 3 ’ This readiness to oblige, therefore, did away with all suspicion of malice.” To this sally of humour, Dundas of course made no reply. He was impene- 1 A ballad, founded on this speech, entitled Wha wants n e 1 was sung for months in the streets of Edinburgh. Lord Melville was not unfrequently serenaded with it while there ; but he apparently felt so little annoyance, appeared so much amused, and laughed ao heartily, that the singing was soon stopped. It was sung to the tune of My Daddy is a CanJeer’d Carle, and commenced- The song waa printed and sold at the small charge of “one penny.” “ John Bull, he is a canker’d carle ; he’ll nae twin wi’ his gear ; And Sawney now is ten times waur, gin a’ be true I hear ; Bat let them say, or let them do, it’s 8’ ane to me ; I’ll never lay aside my cloak-my wha wunts me f 0, wha wants me, sin ? Wha wants me ? I’ll take my stand near Downing Street, with aye-Wha wants me 1”
Volume 8 Page 524
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