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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 421 When all danger had at last happily passed aw‘ay, Mr. Grant settled in Edinburgh as a Writer to the Signet, and succeeded well in business. He knew not only how to make money, but how to take care of it, and ultimately amassed a very considerable fortune. As illustrative of his character and the general wariness of his habits of business, we quote the following story from the Edinburgh Literary Journal :- “ Mr. Ross of Pitcalnie, representative of the ancient and noble family of Ross,’ h d , like Colquhoun Grant, been out in the forty-five, and consequently lived on terms of intimate friendship with that gentleman. Pitcalnie, however, had rat,her devoted himself to the dissipation than the aequisition of a fortune ; and, while Mr. Grant lived as a wealthy writer, he enjoyed little better than the character of a broken laird. This nnfortunate Jacobite was one day in great distress for want of the sum of forty pounds, which he could not prevail upon any of his friends to lend him, all of them being aware of his execrable character as a debtor. At length he informed some of his companions that he believed he should get what he wanted from Colquhonn Grant ; and he instantly proposed to make the attempt. All who heard him scoffed at the idea of his squeezing a subsidy from so closefisted a man ; and some even offered to lay bets against its possibility. Mr. Ross accepted the bets, and lost no time in applying to his old brother-in-arms, whom he found immured in his chambers, half-a-dozen flights of steps up Gavinloch’s Land, in the Lawnmarket. The conversation commenced with the regular commonplaces ; and for a long time Pitcalnie gave no hint that he was suing in forma pauperis. At length he slightly hinted the necessity under which he lay for a trifle of money, and made bold to ask if Mr. Grant could help him in a professional way. ‘ What a pity, Pitcalnie,’ replied the writer, ‘you did not apply yesterday ! I sent all the loose money I had to the bank just this forenoon. ‘ Oh, no matter,’ said Pitcalnie, and continued the conversation, as if no such request had been preferred. By and by, after some more topics of an ordinary sort had been discussed, he at length introduced the old subject of the forty-five, upon which both were alike well prepared to speak. A thousand delightful recollections then rushed upon the minds of the two friends, and, in the rising tide of ancient feeling, all distinction of borrower or lender was soon lost. Pitcalnie watched the time when Grant was fully mellowed by the conversation, to bring in a few compliments upon his (Grant’s) oxm particular achievements. He expatiated upon the bravery which his friend had shown at Preston, where he was the first man to go up to the cannon ; ou which account he made out that the whole victory, so influential to the Prince’s affairs, was owing to no other than Colquhoun Grant, now Writer to the Signet, Gavinloch’s Land, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh. He aho adverted to the boldness Mr. Grant had displayed in chasing a band of recreant draguons from the field of battle up to the very gates of Edinburgh Castle ; and farther, upon the dexterity which he subsequently displayed in making his escape from the town.. ‘Bide a wee,’ said Mr. Grant, at this stage of the conversation, ‘till I gang ben the house.’ He immediately returned with the sum Pitcalnie wanted, which he said he now recollected having left over for some time in the shuttle of his private desk. Pitcalnie took the money, continued the conversation for some time longer, and then took an opportunity of departing. When he came back to his friends, every one eagerly asked-‘ What success 2 ’ ‘Why there’s the money,’ said he. ‘ Where are my bets ! ’ ‘ How, in the name of wonder, did you get it out of him 1 Pitcalnie explained the plan he had taken with his friend, adding, with an expressive wink, ‘ This forty’s made out of the battle of Preston ; but stay a wee, lads ; I’ve Falkirk i’ my pouch yet-by my faith I wadna gie it for auchty.’ ” It is for the present quite beyond redemption.’ ‘ Incredible ! ’ every one exclaimed. Did you cast glamour in his een ?’ Mr. Grant used to pride himself on the purity and facility with which he could read and speak the English language. How far he was justified in so doing may be inferred from the following anecdote :-He had occasion to be in , London as agent in an appeal before the House of Lords ; and an opportunity occurring for the public display of his elocution and correctness of pronunciation, in consequence of a certain paper requiring to be read, Mr. Grant craved and , 1 This assertion seems to be very qnest.ionable. The representation of the Ross famiIy was in the Lords Ross-the last of whom died upon the 19th of August 1754, when the title became extinct.
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422 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. obtained permission to relieve the Clerk of his usual duty. He commenced with great confidence, quite satisfied of the impression he would make upon the Peers assembled. His amazement and vexation may be imagined when the Chancellor (Thurlow), after endeavouring in vain to comprehend what he was uttering, exclaimed-‘‘ Mr. Col-co-hon, I will thank you to give that paper to t,he Clerk, as I do not understand Welsh.” The discomfited writer was thunderstruck- he could hardly believe his own ears; but, alas! there was no remedy. He reluctantly surrendered the paper to the Clerk ; and his feelings of mortification were not a little increased as he observed the opposite agent (who had come from Edinburgh with him) endeavouring with difficulty to suppress a strong inclination to laugh.’ He had several children, mostly daughters, whom he left well provided for, and who were all respectably married. The estates of Kincaird and Petnacree, in Perthshire, which he had purchased, were left to his son, Lieutenant Charles Grant, who, after his unfortunate duel in 1759; retired from the army, and became melancholy and unhappy. Having sat for his likeness, two excellent miniature Portraits of Mr. Colquhoun Grant were executed by Kay-one of which is possessed by Mr. Maclean, and the other by the Publisher of this work. ’&fr. Grant died at Edinburgh on the 2d December 1792. 1 During the discussion on the Scots Reform Bill in Parliament, a very eminent and accomplished Scots M.P., who, like Mr. Colquhoun Grant, had for a long series of years imagined he spoke the English language to perfection, addressed the House in a strain, as he conceived, of impassioned eloquence and convincing argument. What effect it produced upon the auditors we know not, but next day it was announced in some of the public journals that the “- - had addressed the House in a long and no doubt very able speech, which we regret we could not follow, as it was given in broad Scotch.” Itfr. Francis Foulke, of Dublin, the other party, was at the time a student in the University of Edinburgh, and one of the Presidents of the Natural History Society, aud of the Royal Medical Society of Edinburgh. The affair originated in a petty quarrel about a dog :- “.On Friday, December 18, Lieutenant Grant, with two companions, after having spent the evening together, were going home, when, meeting with Mr. Foulke and his party, a scuffle ensued, and next day Itfr. Foullie sent Lieutenant Grant a challenge by Mr. P--. Owing to certain reports relative to Mr. Fonlke, Lieutenant Grant did not think himself called upon to accept the challenge, but took the advice of other officers, who were of opinion that Lieutenant Grant ought not to give Mr. Foulke a meeting without satisfyiug himself of the truth of these reports. In the meantime Mr. P- had an interview with Lieuteuant Graut, who still declined to accept, on which Mr. Foulke posted him in the coffee-houses. Lieutenant Grant having upon inquiry found that Mr, Foulke’s character was eTery way unexceptionable, and that on a late occasion he had behaved with great honour, wm willing to give him every satisfaction, and was on his way for that purpose when he met Captain Lundie, who told him that a placard was posted up in the Exchange Coffee-house, couched in the following terms :-‘ That Charles Grant, of the 55th Regiment, has behaved unbecoming a man ’ of honour and a gentleman, is thus publicly asserted.-P.S. The person who makes this declaration has left his name at the bar.’ Along with this was left a slip of paper, on which was written ‘ FRANCFISO ULKE.’M r.. Grant that evening sent a message by Mr. M-, who understood that the parties were to meet on Tuesday morning at nine o’clock. From some misunderstanding, however, Mr. Foulke and his friend imagined that it wasMr. M- (who delivered the message), and not Mr. Grant, that he was to fight ; and when the gentlemen met in the King’s Park, Mr. Foulke expressed his surprise at seeing Mr. Grant, and said that he expected to meet Mr. M- (who attended as Lieutenant Grant’s second). Mr. M- expressed his willingness to meet Mr. Foulke, but thir a The following is an account of the duel.
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