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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


36 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Hill, Sir John had a lodger who incurred no small degree of notoriety in the city. He was a sportihg Cockney, of the name of Ludborough, who gave himself out to be the son of the then Lord Mayor of London. His fashionable eccentricities and excessive extravagance attracted general notice ; and, it is said although he expended little short of thirty thousand pounds during his limited residence in Edinburgh, he became so deeply involved that, latterly, he was compelled to take shelter from his creditors in the Abbey. The honours of knighthood were borne very meekly by the titular Sir John ; so much so, that he did not at times disdain to be the purveyor of water for the family, which he carried in “ stoups ’) as they were denominated by the progenitors of the Modern Athenians, from the Calton well. In those days there were no pipes to convey the water into the houses ; numerous individuals, principally women, consequently found employment in supplying the citizens, which they did in barrels slung across their soulders.’ Standing at his own door in Shakspeare Square of a summer evening, it was no uncommon thing to find Sir John unbending in conversation with these worthies, and occasionally patronising them so far as to join in a social glass of “purl” at a neighbouring alehouse. The dreadful earthquake at Lisbon was a favourite topic with Sir John. He used to mention that Lord Charles was in the act of writing a letter when the first shock occurred : that the houses were for a moment seen to undulate like the waves of the sea-then, falling in one vast ruin, the smoke and dust so darkened the atmosphere, that, although broad day, the city was almost wholly enveloped in midnight gloom. The miraculous preservation of Lord Charles, with his own hairbreadth escapes over heaps of ruins-through narrow lanes, and yawning apertures, where tlie mangled dead and dying were scattered in hundreds-furnished him with many appalling stories. When inclined to be facetious, the grotesque appearance of groups of flying citizens, many of whom had been surprised in bed, afforded ‘abundant scope for humorous delineation. Another point, on which Sir John used to dilate, was the fact of the dreadful event having occurred on All-Saints-Day-one of the principal Popish festivals- when all the churches were filled with worshippers, the altars lighted up, and the priests in the act of celebrating high mass ; and that, although hundreds of Papists were killed, scarcely a single Protestant foreigner perished.‘ Sit John lived to a good old age, and died at his house in Shakspeare Square about the beginning of this century. His daughter, who survived, was respectably married. The last instance of a “water-man ” plying his avocation, a8 in days of yore, was I‘ Water Willie.” 9 Portuguese priesthood attributed the dreadful visitation to Divine displeasure on account of 80 many heretics and foreignera being allowed to reside in the capital ; and did not fail to remonstrate with the King on the subject. The palace was totally destroyed; but the Royal family had fortunately gone to Belem a few days previous.
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