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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 385 rank of Captain in the 44th, or Lee’s Regiment of Foot. With this corps he was present at the affair of Prestonpans in 1745 ; and was captured by the forces of the Chevalier. Along with the other prisoners of war, he was carried to Edinburgh, where the officers were liberated on parole not to depart from the city nor correspond with the enemies of the Prince. After the suppression of the Rebellion, Mr. Cochrane for some time held the office of Deputy-Governor of the Isle of Man, under the Duke of Atholl. On the resignation of his brother in 1761, he was appointed one of the Commissioners of Excise; and, three years subsequently, was advanced to the Eoard of Customs. Mr. Cochrane resided at Dalry, a small property to the west of Edinburgh, where he died unmarried, on the 2d October 1788. The etching of him in the Print is very characteristic. He always walked with his gold-headed staff in his hand-his head inclining a little downwards ; and he wore black silk-velvet straps, instead of garters, which added very much to his military appearance. He was greatly respected by the other members of the Board, as well as by all who knew him. The centre figure, COMMISSIONER EDGAR, from whom a beggar is soliciting alms, was another old bachelor, but of habits very different from the former. His rumoured parsimony induced Ray to give the stern expression of countenance with which he is portrayed in the etching. This charge was probably greatly exaggerated, as the erection of a spire to the church of Lasswade, entirely from his own funds, was certainly no indication of miserly feeling; yet he was at no pains to discountenance the general opinion. Indeed, he rather seemed to delight in keeping up the impression; and, as if more thoroughly to manifest his unsociable disposition to all the world, he had a carriage built with only one seat, in which he used to drive to and from the city. This vehicle he was pleased to denominate his “ sulky.” great Whig ancestors, being the grandson of Sir John Cochrane of Ochiltree, second son of the first Earl, who, having fled to Holland froin the tyranny of Charles II., came over with Argyll in 1686, and waa subsequently taken and brought to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, ignominiously conducted by the common hangman, but eventually parzoned by James VII. His grandmother was a daughter of Sir William Strickland of Boynton, who had been one of Cromwell’s Lords of Parliament. It is therefore little to be wondered at that he was himself a Whig, and zealously attached to the house of Hanover. We have derived some traditions respecting his family in 1745 from the daughter of one who was then his lady’s waiting-maid. On the Highlanders approaching the city, Mr. Cochrane thought proper to remove to the country, and his lady (the celebrated and lovely Jean Stewart of Tononce) was just preparing to follow him, when the Prince’s army unexpectedly took possession of the capitaL Our venerable authority has ‘full many a time and oft’ heard her mother describe how she and her lady looked over one of these ten windows, and saw the detachment of Cameron’s Highlanders, who rushed in at the Nether Bow, marching up the High Street, while two ba,Tipers played, in spirit-stirring tones, ‘We’ll awa’ to Shirra-muir, to haud the Whigs in order.’ She has also heard her mother descant with much delight upon the ball given to the ladies of the city of Edinburgh, by the Duke of Cumberland, after his return from Culloden. Mrs. Cochrane and her maid walked down the Canongate to Holyrood House, where they were received by his Royal Highness and some of his Hessian ofticers ; and it is reported that the Duke, after saluting the lady, went up to her attendant, and, either because he liked her best, or because he could use the.most freedom with her, favoured her with double the compliment.” 3 D
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386 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Mr. Edgar had‘been in his youth a Captain of Marines, and had seen much of foreign countries. Prior to his appointment as a Commissioner, he held the situation of Collector of Customs at Leith. Before he met the accident by which he was rendered lame, though rather hard-featured, he was decidedly handsome. He. walked erect, without stiffness, and with considerable rapidity. His enunciat,ion was remarkably distinct, and his phraseology correct. He was an excellent classical scholar ;1 and, in fine, a thorough gentleman of the old school. Although quite a man of the world, he possessed a degree of practical philosophy which enabled him not only to relish the varied enjoyments of life, but to bear its ills with tranquillity. Where regret was unavailing, he frequently made jest of the most serious disasters. One of his limbs was shorter than the other, in consequence of having had his thigh-bone broken at Leith races, by an accident arising from the carelessness of the postillion. “ D-n th‘e fellow !” said the Captain, “ he has spoiled one of the handsomest legs in Christendom.” On his way home, after the occurrence, perceiving he had to pass it friend on the road, he moved himself slightly forward in the carriage, at the same time staring and making strange contortions, as if in the last extremity. “ Ah, poor Edgar ! ” said his friend to every acquaintance he met, “ we shall never see him more-he was just expiring as I got a peep into the carriage ! ” He spent a gay life while in town ; associating with the best company, and frequenting the public places, particularly the concerts in St. CeciIia’s Hall, in the Cowgate. Before dinner, he usually took a few rounds at golf in the Links, always playing by himself; and, on fine evenings, he might be seen seated, in full dress, in the most crowded part of the Meadows, then a fashionable promenade. In the summer months he preferred the retirement of Pendreich Cottage at Lasswade. Here his amusements were singularly characteristic ; and all his domestic arrangements were admirably in keeping with his peculiarities. His invariable practice in the morning, on getting out of bed, was to walk down, encumbered with little save a towel, to bathe in the river; after which he returned to his toilette, and then sat down with a keen appetite to breakfast. Prior to his lameness, Mr. Edgar was a devoted lover of field-sports ; and with the gun few sportsmen could bag as many birds. As it was he still kept a few dogs; and, in one of his fields, had a target erected, that he might enjoy an occasional shot without the fatigue of pursuing game. He had an eagle too, which he tamed, and took much pleasure in feeding. Another favourite amusement was the school-boy practice of flying a kite. By some, who naturally conceived such a pastime to be childish, he was called Mr. Edgar and the celebrated Adam Smith, who waa alao a commissioner, used, when at the board, to amuse themselves by reciting passagea from the ancient Greek authors. Neither of the two gentlemen were men of business, though, in justice to the latter, it may be mentioned, that, from an anxious desire to be useful, when h t appointed to the Customs, he put himself under the instruction of Mr. Reid, then Inspector-General ; but his mind continually turned to his favourite theories ; and, after vain efforts, he was obliged to give up the attempt. There could hardly be a more conscientious, kind-hearted man than Adam Smith. With the wisdom of a savant, he had all the simplicity of a child. Mr. Edgar’s housc was in Teviot Row, adjoining the Meadows.
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