Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 579
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 417 “ Johnnie M‘Gowan,” as he was.familiarly called, was well known, and generally esteemed as a good-natured, inoffensive sort of man, with a considerable penchant for talking on subjects not usually considered of much moment. He was fond of antiquarian pursuits, and possessed a good library, besides a pretty extensive private museum of curiosities and antiquities. He was the correspondent of Buffon, to whom he sent a yearly present of an Edinburgh Almanack. He was famed for his conviviality and skill in the manufacture of rum-punch -qualifications which not unfrequently called him to the head of the table, where he uniformly displayed a great degree of scientific nicety in preparing the flowing bowl. Johnnie could afford ample leisure for indulgence, whether in the gratification of his taste for antiquarian lore, or of rum-punch, He lived a bachelor ; and was, moreover, in easy circumstances, following the profession of a writer rather for recreation than from necessity. He died in 1805. After his death his books and curiosities were sold; and many of the articles brought large prices. Amongst other rare articles in his possession was an imperfect copy of the “ Complaynt of Scot1and”l -of which no perfect copy is known. He was a member of the Society of Antiquaries. BYRNE, the centre figure, as well as little GEORDIE CRANSTOW, have been elsewhere noticed. The remaining individual of the group, ALEXANDER WATSON, Esq. of Glenturkie, Fifeshire, was a Writer to the Signet, and a gentleman of much respectability-a jolly, social, good-fellow of the old school. He resided in Craig’s Close, first stair, left hand, immediately above where the Caledonian Mercury Office now is. At the same period (1780), Lady Betty Anstruther, Mr. MLeod Bannatyne (afterwards Lord Bannatyne), and Mr. Smellie, printer, occupied the fourth and fifth stories. Beside his business as a W.S.,w hich was considerable, Mr. Watson held a situation in the Chancery Office. He lived and died a bachelor. This curious work is referred to by Jonathan Oldbuck, in the inimitable novel of the Antiquary ; and he recounts, with the true gustu of a book-collector, the devices he WBS obliged to have recourse to in order to get possession of it. A reprint, with a singularly valuable introduction by Dr. Leyden, was published in 1801, 8vo.
Volume 8 Page 580
  Enlarge Enlarge