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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 397 No. CLVII. MR. JOHN SHIELLS, SURGEON. MR. SHIELLSw as a native of Peeblesshire ; and, prior to commencing business as a surgeon and apothecary, held a situation in connection with the Royal Infirmary. His first shop was in a land immediately above the Tron Kirkdemolished when Hunter Square was formed ; and from thence he moved to Nicolson Street. In his day few professional men possessed a carriage of any description ; and, finding himself incapable of making his visits on foot, I&. Shiells bethought himself that a horse might answer his purpose. To this the only objection was that he was no equestrian. It consequently became an object of primary importance to procure an animal sufficiently docile and sure-footed ; which qualities he at last found in the sagacious-looking grey pony,’ of mature years so correctly delineated by the artist in the etching. Mr. Shiells and the pony are proceeding leisurely on their rounds, apparently on the best understanding, and seemingly pleased with each other. The surgeon, with his broad half-cocked hat, and his lightly elevated whip, evidently has not attained the free attitude of an experienced rider ; yet the complacency of his jolly countenance is expressive of the great degree of confidence he reposes in the wisdom and fidelity of the animal. The figure behind represents the boy, Willie, who actedas groom. He always accompanied his master, for the purpose of carrying his walking-staff-to take care of the horse while he was detained in the house of a patient-and to aid him in again mounting his charger. This was a task which generally occupied nearly three minutes in accomplishing ; and it was truly amusing to witness the exertions of the boy to get his master’s leg over the saddle, while the struggle made by Mr. Shiells himself for that purpose was exceedingly grotesque. Among his patients at one period was a Mr. Ramage, who kept a shop in the Lawnmarket. This person was well known as a keen sportsman, and much famed for his excellence in breaking dogs. Having fallen into bad health, he was for some time daily visited by Mr. Shiells j but what was rather surprising for an invalid, the patient, with his head enveloped in a red nightcap, used regularly to accompany the doctor to the door, and, setting his shoulder to the seat of honour of the worthy son of Galen, assisted in reinstating him in hia saddle. He was short in stature, and latterly became very corpulent. # The scene represented in the Print is to the life. His fint charger waa a h z a pony.
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398 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES, Mr. Shiells was married, and had a daughter, who died young. He was much respected in his profession, and bore the character of a charitable and humane man. He died on the. 23d September 1798. The boy was subsequently for many years a porter in the Candlemaker Row. The charge made for a visit was only one shilling I-yet Mr. Shiells accumulated a good deal of money, the greater portion of which he left to his sister’s family. His niece, Miss Lawrie, kept the shop for many years after her uncle’s death, and was married to Mr. A. Henderson, jeweller. No. CLVIII. MR. ROBERT JOHNSTON, AND MISS SIBILLA HUTTON. Nb other reason has been assigned by the artist for grouping these two individuals together, than that they were the most corpulent shopkeepers in Edinburgh at the time, and had their places of business in the Royal Exchange buildings. MR. JOHNSTON was the son of the Rev. John Johnston, minister of Arngask,’ and brother-german to Dr. Johnston of North Leith. He carried on business for many years as a private banker, in company with Mr. Donald Smith, under the firm,of Johnston and Smith. This concern, however, proved unfortunate, having met with a series of losses-among the first of which was a robbery to a considerable amount, The particulars of this affair are fully given in the following advertisements from the Cowant of 1768 :- “On Friday evening last (the 12th August) the lock of the outer door of the compting-house of Johnston and Smith, bankers in the Exchange, was opened by some wicked persons, as snpposed by a counterfeit key, and eight hnndred pounds sterling stolen out of their drawers, in the following Bank notes, viz.- Of the Royal, and Bank of Scotland . E194 9 0 British Linen Company . 362 2 0 Dumfries Notes . 126 0 0 Glasgow Notes . . 64 10 0 General Bank of Perth . . 3 2 0 0 Dundee Notes (Jobson’s) . 4 0 0 0 Several small Notes and Silver . . 1 1 1 0 $830 2 0 The church at Arngask is called “the visible kirk,” from its great altitude.
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