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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


B I0 G RAP HIC AL SKETCH E S. 57 Islands ; but this situation he held only for a limited period, in consequence of some misunderstanding. He returned to the Continenti and died there in 1795. He married a French ladyone of the Protestant refugees ‘-whose sister was a well-known novel writer of the ‘‘ Minerva Press.” He had two sons, who were educated at the High School. The eldest, George, was unfortunate. He entered the army; but, having formed some indifferent connections, he retired from the service, and died in Switzerland. Augustus, the youngest, became a distinguished officer of artillery. He commanded the horse-brigade during the whole of the war in Spain, and was repeatedly thanked in public orders by the Duke of Wellington. He was created a Baronet and K.C.B., and died at Woolwich. The Major resided in No. 5 George Street. The Hon. ANDREW ERSKINE was a younger brother of the “ musical Earl of Kellie.” He held a lieutenant’s commission in the 71st Regiment of Foot, which corps being reduced in 1763, he exchanged from half-pay to the 24th, then stationed at Gibraltar. Erskine had little genius or inclination for a military life ; his habits and tastes were decidedly of a literary character. He was one of the contributors to Donaldson’s “ Collection of Original Poems by Scottish Gentlemen.” He is chiefly known, however, for his correspondence with Boswell (the biographer of Johnson), printed at Edinburgh in 1763. These letters, the legitimate offspring of “hours of idleness,” consist of a mixture of prose and verse; and are remarkable for the spirit of extravagance which pervades them. Those of Boswell are characteristic of the writer, and his pen might be traced in every line ; but it would be difficult to discover in the letters of Erskine any marks of the dull, reserved disposition which was natural to him. His manner was unobtrusive and bashful in the extreme. He indeed occasionally alludes to this ; and, in one of his poetical epistles to Boswell, says- “ You kindly took me up an awhard cub, And introduced me to the soaping club.”’ The following notice of the “French Refugees,” we find in the London Nmhg Post of September 18, 1792 :-‘‘The subscriptions for those unfortunate people do honour to the generosity of the nation. It is expected that iu the course of a few days it will be very considerable, as there has been upwards of Five Thousand Pounds already subscribed. It is rather strange that the piety of our English Bishops did not induce them to anticzpate the good iutentions‘of the lady. The mitred brotherhood should have been the first to have felt for the forlorn sitnation of the emigrant priests ; but their doors seem shut against the voice of distress, and their hearts appear callous to the calls of humanity. It is the object of the managers of the subscriptions to supply those refugees with money, who are desirous to emigrate to other countries, where their talents and abilities may be exercised for their own emolument, and the benefit of the state. Their next objects of relief are those who, from affluence, have been reduced to extreme poverty, and whose pride still prevents them from solicitiug alms. To alleviate their misfortunes, every man must administer his mite with cheerfulness ; but those French paupers who have been long before the Revolution in this country, and are common mendicants, it is not the intention of the subscription to embrace.” So called from their motto, which was, “Every man soap his own beard; or every man indulge his own humour.” This club met erery “Tuesday eve,” and their favourite game was the facetious one of snip snap snmm. VOL. 11. I
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58 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Some idea of Erskine’s appearance may be gathered from his friend$ reply : ‘‘ Now, my lieutenant with the dwky face; For though you’re clothed in scarlet and in lace, The gorgeous glare of which to art you owe, Yet nature gave you not my snowy brow.’’1 As a specimen of the Lieutenant’s style and humour, we may quote the following from one of his letters, dated from New Tarbat, where he appears to have resided principally during the epistolary intercourse, and where Boswell paid him a visit-the friends having previously met at Glasgow by appointment :- “ I have often wondered, Boswell, that a man of your taste in music cannot play upon the Jew’s harp ; there are some of us here that can touch it very melodiously, I can tell you. Corelli’s solo of Maggie Lauder, and Pergolesi’s sonata of the Curle he cum o’er the craft, are excellently adapted to that instrument. The first cost is but three-halfpence, and they last a long time. I have composed the following ode upon it, which exceeds Pindar as much as the Jew’s harp does the organ.” Let me advise you to learn it. [We quote the last verse.] “ Roused by the magic of the charming wire, The yawning dogs forego their heavy slumbers ; The ladies listen on the narrow stair, And Captain Andrew straight forgets his numbers. Cats and mice give o’er their battling, Pewter plates on shelves are rattling ; But falling down, the noise my lady hears, Whose scolding drowns the trump more tuneful than the spheres.” ‘( Captain Andrew,” however, could ‘(touch it very melodiously” on other instruments than the Jew’s harp. He was an excellent musician-little inferior to the (‘ musical Earl ” himself-and composed several much-admired airs. To Thomson’s Collection of Scottish Songs he contributed, among others, the delightful air and words of “ See the moon on the still lake is sleeping,” etc. The Captain was an admirer of the drama, and wrote one or two pieces for the Edinburgh stage. One of these, by no means deficient in spirit, published in 1764 (Gd.), bears the title of ((She’s not Him, and He’s not Her-a farce, in two acts, as it is performed in the Theatre in Canongate.” Although a poet, Erskine does not appear to have been influenced by any romantic adoration of the fair sex. On the subject of matrimony his notions were very different from those of Boswell ; ’ and he remained all his life a bachelor. On the death of Vice-Admiral Lord Colville, in 1790, he resided chiefly thereafter with his sister Lady Colville, at Drumsheugh, near the Dean Bridge, The fact was, they were both tinged with the complexion ascribed to the “daughters of Jerusalem. ” a In one of hia letters to Boswell, he says-“ When you and I walked twice round the Meadows upon the subject of matrimony, I little thought that my difference of opinion from you would have brought on your marriage so soon ”
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