Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 37 No. XIIL JAMES MACRAE, ESQ. JAMESM ACRAE, Esq., of Holmains, had the misfortune to obtain a celebrity, by no means enviable, as a duellist. He was a capital shot, and, it was said, obtained his proficiency by firing at a barber's block, kept by him for that purpose. In April 1790, the event occurred which had the effect of exiling him from his native land. The following account of the affair is taken from the #cots Magazine :- " DUEL BETWIXT SIR GEORGE RAMSAY AND MR. MACRAE. " On Wednesday the 7th of April, Captain Macrae, thinking himself insulted by a footman of Lady Ramsay's at the theatre, beat him severely. Mr. Macrae the next day met Sir George Ramsay in the street, when he told him he was sorry to have been obliged to correct a servant of his last night at the playhouse. Sir G. answered, the servant had been a short time with him, was Lady Ramsay's footman, and that he did not consider himself to have any concern in the matter. Mr. Macrae then said he would go and make an apology to Lady Ramsay, which he did. On Monday the 12th, the footman commenced an action against Mr. Macrae. On Tuesday the 13th, Mr. Macrae sent the following letter to Sir G. Ramsay :- " ' Marionville, Tuesday, 2 o'clock. " ' SIR-I received last night a summons, at the instance of James Merry, your servant, whose insolent behaviour to me at the theatre on Wednesday last I was obliged to punish severely, which was the reason of my not insisting on your turning him off; but as he has chosen to prosecute me, I must now insist that he shall either drop the prosecution, or that you shall immediately turn him off. As to his being Lady Ramsay's servant, it is of no consequence to me ; I consider you as the master of your family, and expect what I have now demanded shall be complied with. I am, sir, your humble servant, " ' JAMESM ACRAE. " Addressed, ' Sir George Ramsay, St. Andrew Square.' " Sir George returned the following answer :- " ' SIR-~ am just now favoured with your letter. I was ignorant that my servant had commenced a prosecution until your letter informed me. He meets no encouragement from me ; and I hope, on considering the matter farther, you will not think it incumbent on me to interfere in any respect, especially as the man at present is far from being well. I am, sir, yours, etc. 6' 6 Tuesday, half past three. U 6 GEORGREA MSAY.'
Volume 8 Page 49
  Enlarge Enlarge  
38 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. “Mr. Macrae’s friend, Mr. Amory, called at Sir George’s house in the evening, and delivered the following letter :- (6 6 Marionville, Tuesday. “ ‘ SIR-I must now once more insist on your servant being turned off ; and have in consequence sent my friend, Mr. Amory, to know your final determination. In case you refuse to comply with what I have demanded of you, he will inform you of the opinion I entertain of your conduct. I am, sir, your humble servant, ‘‘ ‘ JAS. MACRAE.’ Addressed as before. “The following narrative, with the above letters, were delivered by Sir George Ramsay, on Tuesday night, to his friend, to be made public, in case any accident should happen the next morning, and is in his own handwriting :- ‘( Upon Sir George’s reading the above letter, he told Mr, Amory that no good reason had been assigned to him for turning off his servant ; and, unless that should be made appear, he certainly would not do so. Upon which Mr, Amory informed Sir George, that the message he was to deliver to him was, that Mr. Macrae looked upon him not as a gentleman, but, the contrary, as a scoundrel. Upon this Sir George said farther conversation was unnecessary with him; all that remained was to agree about a place of meeting; and he begged Mr. Amory to appoint a coffee-house to meet him at, rather than come to his own house. Sir George met Mr. Amory at Bayle’s at nine, and received the following message :- “ Sir George Ramsay met Mr. Amory at Bayle’s at the hour of nine, when he was informed by Mr. Amory, that Mr. Macrae desired Sir George to meet him at Ward‘s, Musselburgh, at the hour of twelve the following day, Wednesday the 14th. “Mr. Amory followed Sir George after he had left Bayle’s, and informed him that Mr. Macrae considered Sir George as the challenger ; that he, Mr. Amory, had made a mistake in fixing the place ; and that, upon consideration, he thought Sir George ought to have done so. Sir George answered, that it had nothing to do with the main point at present, the time and place were fixed. ‘( That evening, Mr. Macrae, understanding that high words had passed betwixt Sir George and Mr. Amory, applied to another gentleman to attend him the next day ; this he declined as a second ; but, at Mr. Macrae’s request, agreed to go with him to Musselburgh, in order, if possible, to accommodate matters. “ Wednesday the 14th.-On the parties meeting at Musselburgh, Mr. Macrae offered, if Sir George would dismiss his servant, he, Mr. Macrae, would then fully apologise for the expression and the message delivered by his friend to Sir George. This Sir George would not agree to; nor did his friend advise him to do so. This message is in Mr. Amory’s handwriting.
Volume 8 Page 50
  Enlarge Enlarge