Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


4 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. treat to see his formality in drawing the cork, his precision in filling the glasses, his regularity in drinking the healths of a!1 present in the first glass (which he always did, and at every successive bottle), and then his douce civility in withdrawing.” The peculiar suavity of welcome which he invariably extended to his friends was no less effective. “Walk in, gentlemen,” he would say ; “there’s plenty 0’ corn in Egypt.” The ale for which John obtained so much celebrity was the production of Mr. Archibald Younger, whose brewery was situated in Croft-an-reigh. “ That brewer,” say the Truditim, “ together with John Gray, City-Clerk of Edinburgh ; Mr. John Buchan, W.S. ; Martin, the celebrated portrait-painter,l (the master of Sir Henry Raeburn); and some others, instituted a club here, which, by way of a pun upon the name of the landlord, they called the College of Dowie. Younger’s ale alone was always sold in the house, as it also was at Muut Ha‘- a snug old tavern, kept by one Pringle, in the Playhouse Close, Canongate ; and it was owing to the celebrity which it acquired in these two establishments that ‘ Edinburgh Ale ’ attained its present high character.”, “ Dowie’s Tavern ” was a house of much respectability. He was himself a conscientious, worthy man ; and the majority of his customers were social, but neither intemperate nor debauched in their enjoyments. The moment twelve o’clock struck in St. Giles’s, not another cork would the landlord draw. In answer to the demand for-“ another bottle, John !” his reply invariable was- “Gentlemen, ’tis past twelve: and time to go home.” The following anecdote of ‘‘ Honest John ” is also recorded in the Traditions :-“ David Herd was one night prevented by illness from joining in the malt potations of his friends. He called for first one and then another glass of spirits, which he diluted, more Scotico, in warm water and sugar. When the reckoning came to be paid, the antiquary was suryrised to find the second glass charged a fraction higher than the first, as if John had been resolved to impose a tax upon excess. On inquiring the reason, however, honest John explained it thus :-‘ Whe, sir, ye see the first glass was out 0’ the auld barrel, and the second one was out 0’ the new ; and as the whisky in the new barrel cost me mair than the ither, whe, sir, I’ve just charged a wee mair for’t.’ ” In each of Johnnie’s rooms was a small shelf, whereon he placed the bottles as he emptied them, to enable him to make up the reckoning. When asked This, we suspect, is a mistake. The penon meant is more likely to have been Martin, a writer, already alluded to. At this period it would not have been very safe to have left the tavern between the hours of ten and eleven ; for the moment the clock struck ten the passage of the citizens was impeded, and their garmenta endangered, by certain domestic proceedings, the nature of which has been minutely and graphically described in one of the epistles of Mrs. Winifred Jenkins. As the tenements in the High Street, Lawnmarket, and Parliament Square were of considerable height, and as two or perhaps three families lived in each story, the fire from the windows was exceedingly brisk. The night “ flowers of Edinburgh,” when wafted by the breeze, were somewhat different in their perfume from the Sabaean odours recorded by Milton ; and the worthy inhabitants endeavoured, by burning pieces of brown paper-for smoking waa not then in very general use-to counteract the overpowering exhalations from the streets. It is said that many of the denlen in brown paper realised very considerable sums by the sale only of this useful article. . Martin the painter was a claret drinker. L
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