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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


74 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. tions, and being withal a man of strong sense, and of a frank and social humour- an easy landlord-a reasonable master1-a skilful farmer-and very intelligent in country affairs, he was much liked and respected in his rural circle ; and was often resorted to by his neighbours of all ranks, as a safe and a fair referee, for the settlement of such controversies as occasionally arose among them. He was, moreover, a correct and careful man of business-understood figures well-and seemed indeed to find a pleasure in arithmetical operations ; insomuch, that he never engaged in any material undertaking, of which he had not. previously calculated, as far as possible, the utmost cost of the ultimate result. In allusion to this habit of his, his brother the historian expresses himself thus, in a letter (19th March 1751) written to his relation, Mrs. Sandilands Dysert, on the eve of John’s marriage-“ Dear Madam,-Our friend, at last, plucked up a resolution, and has ventured on that dangerous encounter. He went off on Monday morning ; and this is the first action in his life, wherein he has engaged himself, without being able to compute exactly the consequences. But what arithmetic can serve to fix the proportion between good and bad wives, and rate the different classes of each? Sir Isaac Newton himself, who could measure the courses of the planets, and weigh the earth as in a pair of scales, even he had not algebra enough to reduce that amiable part of our species to a just equation ; and they are the only heavenly bodies whose orbits are as yet uncertain.” Though not to be termed a scholar (in the English sense of the word), John Home was, however, not without a fair tincture of literature, classic as well as modern, especially history and belles lettres ; and ordinarily enjoyed the evening over a book, Latin or French, as ofte,n as English. He was about the middle stature-not much under six feet-and of a: stout and muscular, but not a fleshy frame. To this he did not spare to give ample exercise on all occasions j by which means, joined to the most temperate habits, he maintained uniform good health till towards the close of a life of seventy-seven years,* He was of a keen and animated countenance, with a florid complexion, a clear grey eye, and well formed features, which were set off to some advantage in his old age, by his grey locks, which fell in full curls (though these are not given in the Print) on , 1 “Add Patie Johnston,” tenant of Ninewells’ mill, used to allege that he and his forefathers had held the mill as tenants for at least as many generations as the Homes had held the property. They certainly had possessed the mill for a very long period of time. Joseph Watson, the gardener, had never been in any other service ; and he died at the age of ninety, in the gardener’s house at Ninewells. He had long been relieved of the labours of the garden by a worthy and ingenious young man, his son Thomas. a He never followed the hounds, or used the fowling-piece ; but he was a keen and a deadly hand with the leister or salmon spear. The Whitadder runs along the lands of Ninewells ; and the clear waters of that pleasant stream were often stained with the bloody tokens of his prowm in that joyous and manly sport Occasionally, on an emergency, in the cloae of 8 wet and broken harvest, the old gentleman did not think it unsuitable to join his servants for some hours in their exertions to save the crop, and was seen to follow the loading wain along the ridge, and deliver the sheaves (which he did with much euergy and rapidity) from the pitch-fork in his own hand into the wain. David Waite, John Home’s house-servant, held that station for sixty yean or thereby.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 75 his neck. He had, however, contracted (which the Print does give) an inveterate habit of stooping, which was rather injurious to his general aspect. In convivial society, especially when at the head of his own hospitable table, he was much disposed to be jocular, and was liberal of his store of pithy sayings and droll stories. In particular, he highly enjoyed the meetings of the well-known Poker Club, of which he was a member, along with his brother, and to which belonged at that time, Patrick Lord Elibank, Lord Ellioch, Dr. Adam Smith, Drs. Cullen, Black, and Gregory, Dr. Adam Fergusson, Old Ambassador Keith, Sir Gilbert Elliot, and many others ; some of them men of letters, others, persons of high birth, or eminent in public life. John Home was extremely regular and methodical in all his habits, punctual to his time in whatever he had to do, and not very tolerant with those who failed in this (as he rightly thought it) important article. It could not be truly affirmed that he was of an equally calm and placid temperament as his brother, the philosopher ; but the brothers entertained the most cordial affection for each other, and continued in constant habits of kind intercourse and mutual good offices to the end of their lives. Under the historian's will, the principal part of his effects went to his brother, who survived him. John Home died at Ninewells, on the 14th of November 1786, after a short illness, and in great composure of mind. He was interred in the family vault, under his parish church at Chirnside. He had always been on friendly terms with the good and worthy pastor of that parish, Dr. Walter Anderson, whom indeed no one could dislike, who valued simplicity and mildness of character, or felt the importance of the due discharge of all the duties of that holy office. By his marriage to Agnes Carre, John Home, who survived her, had eight children, of whom three sons, .Joseph, David, and John, and two daughters, Catherine and Agnes, survived him.' Joseph, when a young man, served as Captain in the Queen's Bays or 2d Dragoon Guards. He afterwards resided as a country gentleman, at Ninewells, where he died on the 14th of February 1832, unmarried, and at the advanced age of eighty-one. David was an advocate at the Scottish bar, and held successively the offices of Sheriff-Depute of Berwickshire, Sheriff-Depute of West Lothian, Professor of the Law of Scotland in the University of Edinburgh, one of the Principal Clerks to the Court of Session, and one of the Barons of the Court of Exchequer for Scotland; from which office he retired, on the statutory allowance, in February 1834. John was a man of great worth and good parts j and nature had gifted him with no small share of genuine pleasantry and humour, which were combined with a generous and an affectionate disposition. In the earlier part of his life, he did business with much credit, in Edinburgh, as a Writer to the Signet. In his latter years he gave up practice there, and took up his residence at Ninewells, with his eldest brother, the laird, who committed to him the chief or rather the entire charge of the management of his affairs, and the improvement of his estate. They carried into execution sundry judicious projects of draining, enclosure, and "he other three children, namely, Robed, Helen, and Agatha, died in infancy or early youth.
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