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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 31 man who sat next him, chose to be very severe on Pitt’s Administration, and the volunteer system. Coke, whose politics were decidedly of the Pitt school, could ill brook such reflections; and during the conversation-or rather altercation-which ensued, he had much diEEculty in restraining his indignation within the bounds of civility. When at any time the dispute seemed about to moderate, another of the travellers-afterwards an eminent publisher in Edinburgh4ontrived so to “ blow the coal,” that a fresh irruption waa invariably the consequence, till at length his opponent venturing on some expression still more severe than what had preceded, Mr. coke turned round in a violent passion, and seizing him by the breast, exclaimed-“ Let me see your face, sir, that I may know, and be able to recognise you wherever I find you ! ” One day Mr. Coke had overheated himself so much in walking from Leith to Edinburgh, that on arriving at his friend Bailie Creech, the publisher‘s shop, he sent for a small quantity of whisky to bathe his forehead, as the fatigue had produced a very severe headache. Creech, who entered whilst the remedy was being applied, exclaimed-“ Bless me J what’s that you are doing, Mr. Coke 1” “ Rubbing my head with whisky,” was the reply. “ No wonder,” rejoined the civic Joe Miller, ‘‘ that you are so very hot-headed I” He was married and had a family. Three of his daughters, we understand, resided in Edinburgh. His death was thus noticed in the journals of the day :-“At Leith, on the 18th May, Mr. William Coke, bookseller, who carried on business in the same premises, for the long period of fifty-five years, and was the father of the bookselling profession of Scotland.” Mr. Coke died in 1819, above eighty years of age. His son went to sea, and was never heard of. The other figure presents an accurate portrait of old JOHN GUTHRIE, latterly of the firm of Guthrie and Tait, Nicolson Street. Mr. Guthrie generally paid as he bought ;l and, like his Leith contemporary, brought home his own purchases. He was a native of the parish of Botriphnie, in Aberdeenshire, and was born about the year 1748. Having lost his parents when very young, he was left to the protection of an uncle, who, before he attained his twelfth year, abandoned him to his own resources. In this forlorn situation he scraped together as many pence as procured a small stock of needles, pins, etc., with which he commenced travelling as a pedlar. His boyish years were passed in this manner, his pack gradually extending as his capital increased. After giving up the laborious occupation of travelling merchant, he settled in Edinburgh, and commenced a book-stall at the Linen Hall, Canongate, which became the resort of many of the book collectors of that time. Unlike our modern open-air merchnts, who pace the length of their stalls from morning till night, making idle time doubly tedious, he was constantly engaged in some useful employment-Kitting stockings, working onion nets, or in some way or other having his hands busy, to keep, as he used to say, “the which he is represented with a purse in hia hand. 1 Among some of the trade he obtained the cognomen of ‘‘ My-money John,” in allusion to
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34 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. devil out of his heart.” Here he continued until he removed to the shop in Nicolson Street, afterwards occupied by his successor Mr. Tait, with whom he entered into partnership. The business was afterwards carried on under the firm of Guthrie and Tait. Few men were more universally benevolent. Never forgetting the hardships and struggles of early life, his hand was open to the truly necessitous ; and, as far as his circumstances mould permit, he promoted, both by advice and assistance, the endeavours of the industrious poor to earn an honest livelihood. He was also a constant, and frequently a liberal, contributor to the religious and philanthropic institutions of the city. Mr. Guthrie was an Episcopalian when that form of worship was at a low ebb, but lived long enough to witness its gradual revival and increase. His primitive mode of transacting business was the effect of early habit, and could not easily be laid aside by change of circumstances. He died on the 10th May 1824. He next opened a shop at the Nether Bow. Mr. Guthrie was a very inoffensive, worthy person. He was married, but had no children. No. CLXXXIII. WILLIAN BUTTER, ESQ., AND SIR JOHN MORRISON. THE figure to the left represents MR. BUTTER in the attitude of applying a ‘‘ social pinch,” and engaged in an ‘‘ accidental crack ” with his friend Sir John Morrison. The father of Mr. Butter originally belonged to Peterhead, but came in early life to Edinburgh, where he successfully carried on the business of a might and cabinetmaker ; and at his death left his son, the subject of the Print, in possession of considerable property.’ His workshop was at the foot of Carrubber’s Close, where he also resided ; and it is yet told, as illustrative of the old man’s mechahical genius, and as a matter of wonder in those days, that he built an additional story to his dwelling-house without taking down the roof. This he accomplished-as has been frequently done more recently-by means of screws. After the death of his father, Mr. William Butter continued to carry on business in:the same premises, but on a more extensive scale. He was Carpenter to his Majesty j and, among other extensive buildings in which he was engaged, Mr. Butter senior ww a member of the Town Council in 1749 and 1750.
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