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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


B I0 GR AP II I C AL S KETCH E S. lost. In 1773 he was presented with the freedom of the burgh of Kirkcudbright, for his active exertions in cmducting certain transactions for the interest of that community. Finding himself unsuccessful at Borrowstounness, he proceeded to Ireland; but after a stay of little more than two years there he returned to Leith, where he was again doomed to misfortune through unlucky speculations. Instead, however, of indulging in unavailing regrets, he quickly set about repairing his broken fortune, by commencing the world anew as a broker and merchant. In this line his exertions were crowned with such a measure of success, that he was latterly enabled to retire altogether from business. Mr. Grinly was short in stature, but active-always well dressed, and particularly smart in his appearance. From a peculiar rotundity of body, and a strange habit of throwing out his legs and arms in walking, he obtained the soubriquet of the Spread Eagle.”’ Notwithstanding his somewhat grotesque rotundity of shape, it was a weakness of Mr. Grinly to believe himself possessed of a handsome figure. His vanity in this respect almost exceeds credulity. It is said that on a particular occasion he was seen elevated on some logs of wood at the shore of Leith, surrounded by a band of porters, whose adulation the broker’s patronage in the way of employment was sufficient to insure. One of them, however, had independence enough to declare his opinion, that ‘‘ the Doctor ”’ was at least nearly as handsome ’as himself. “ If I thought there was a better made man in Leith,” said Grinly, apparently highly offended, ‘‘ I would go hang myself ! ” The consequential manner of Mr. Grinly, as well as his attempts at wit, afforded much amusement to his friends. Having been cited to give evidence in an action against the Hull Shipping Company, for non-delivery of goods, it is said he took his place in the witnesses-box with, an air as if about to bring the whole bench to the hammer ! After the customary forms, the usual questions were put to him :-“Your name is William Grinly 1’’ “It is, my Lord.” “You are a merchant in Leith?” “I am not, my Lord”-in a tone and gesture that attracted all eyes. “YOU are here set down merchant in Leith.” “My Lord,” said Grinly, archly smiling as he made use of the legal phrase, “ that is quite a misnomer !” The involuntary peal of laughter which followed, and in which the Court heartily joined, Grinly politely acknowledged by a low obeisance, and complacently resumed his position, The auctioneer was at no loss for invention when hard pressed by circumstances. He had been summoned to serve as a juryman, but unfortunately on a day fixed for a very extensive sale of sugars by the Messrs. Sibbald, at which he was to be professionally engaged. Grinly felt awkwardly situated-to lose the This name wai given him by a merchant in Leith, who had similar appellations for a great many of his neighbours. The affairs of this person getting into disorder, the creditors, on examining his books, were puzzled what to make of them, several entries appearing against “Spice-box,” “ Clock-case,” “ Sow’s-tail ” and other ridiculous designations. The title of “The Doctor,” we believe, WBS applied to this gentleman in consequence of his having attended medical classes in his youth, and giving gratis advice to the poor, accompanied frequently with money to purchase medicines.
Volume 9 Page 102
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78 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. sale, or pay the juror’s fine, were the alternatives. He resolved that he should do neither. Shortly after the roll had been called over, he went forward to the bench, and, w-ith a wo-begone countenance, begged that he might be allowed ta retire, having been suddenly seized with an urgent illness. ‘‘ 0, most certainlygo away 1 go away !” said the presiding Judge. Mr. Grinly left the Court amid the sympathy of his friends-was at Leith in due time for the sale-and, it is said, displayed more than usual vigour in the discharge of his duty. He was hear4 frequently afterwards to boast how he had once proved a match for the law. Like many other citizens who were smitten with the military mania. Mr. Grinly was fond of exhibiting himself in his warlike apparel, and it is said that hc used to repair to Edinburgh regularly every Wednesday, dressed in his volunteer uniform, “ showing off ” among the merchants and country people, who usually assembled at the Cross, opposite the Royal Exchange, on that day. Having rendered himself somewhat notorious by this pratice, Kay embraced the advantage of his weekly exhibitions to produce the excellent representation of the “ Spread Eagle.” Mr. Grinly was twice married ; and, by his first wife, had a large family. For several years before his death he became entirely blind, and had to be led when he went out. He died in 1827, in the eightieth year of his age, and was buried in the South Leith Parish Churchyard. No. CXCVII. THE HON. ALEXANDER LESLIE, LIEUT.-GENERAL AND COLONEL OF THE NINTH REGIMENT OF FOOT, GENERALL ESLIEb, rother to the sixth Earl of Leven and Melville, was born in 1731, and commenced his military life as an ensign in the third Foot Guards in 1753. He subsequently held appointments in various regiments, and was promoted to the rank of Major-General in 1779. In America he eqerienced much hard service during the War of Independence. He was second in command ‘at the battle of Guildford, fought on the 15th March 2781, in which the Americans, under General Green, were defeated. The action was commenced by the division led on by General Leslie, and proved successful on every point. His intrepidity and skill were warmly acknowledged by Lord Cornwallis, whb, in one of his despatches, says-“ I have been particularly indebted to Major-General Leslie for his gallantry and exertion, as well as his assistance in every other part of the service.” He was appointed to the command of the 9th Foot in 1782 ; and from that period held the rank of Lieut.-General in the army.
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