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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 117 key, and then the coat will fit to a certainty.’’ The servant kept his promise. In a day or two the t.ailor returned-found O’Brien in excellent humour ; and the greatcoat-“ 0, nothing in the world could be more completer 1” While in Edinburgh, O’Brien exhibited himself in the premises known as the “ Salamander Land,”l opposite the Royal Exchange. The following piece of bombast was a standing paragraph in his advertisements :- ‘I How fortunate for Mr. O’Brien that he holds such a situation in existence that no one can rival him in the public estimation. Kings may be dethroned-ministers dismissed-actors supplanted-tradesmen ruined-and every other situation experience a similar reverse of fortune, except the above gentleman, whose transcendent superiority is universally acknowledged ; and who would not be injured in the least if kings, ministers, actors, and tradesmen were to unite their efforts to produce a rival, since they would find themselves unequal to such magnanimous undertaking. ” Our giant was, in money matters, a very prudent person. He managed his receipts so well, “that,” as observes his biographer,’ “ at the moment he is distinguished as the largest, he is also known to be not the least independent man in the kingdom, having in the neighbourhood of his residence at Enfield several houses his own property ; which render his further exhibition unnecessary.” O’Brien died at the Hot-Wells, Bristol, upon the 8th of September 1806, and was interred at the Catholic Chapel, in Trenchard Street. His coffin was nine feet five inches, and so broad that five ordinary men could lie in it with ease. The brass plate contained the following inscription :-“ Patrick Cotter O’Brien, of Kinsale, Ireland, whose stature was eight feet one inch, died Sth September 1806, aged forty-six” AIR. WILLIAM RANKEN, although diminutive in contrast with the enormous bulk of the Irish Hercules, was of the middle size, and a man of goodly proportions. He was a native of the south side of Edinburgh, and the son of a respectable tailor. Having been brought up to his father’s profession, he commenced business on his own account about the year 1778, in one of the old houses’ opposite the City Guard. He afterwards moved to a house in the Lawnmarket ; and latterly resided in the land forming the north-east corner of the Parliament Square-with piazzas and a stone stair in frontdestroyed by the great f i e in 1524. This property he purchased from the heirs of the late Mr. Dempster, jeweller. Mr. Ranken was one of the most extensive and respectable clothiers in Edinburgh. He took an interest in city politics, and was first chosen Deacon of the Incorporation in 1791, and Deacon Convener in 1799 and 1800. These offices he filled repeatedly afterwards, and was for many years an influential 1 So called from its having escaped two great fires ; the lsst of which, in 1824, destroyed the “Extraordinary Characters of the Nineteenth Century,” London, 1805, 8vo ; a very rare and Parliament Square, and a portion of the south side of the High Street. curious work, which was never finished. The text and plates are both engraved on copper. a Since rebuilt.
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118 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. member of the Town Council. He was a warm supporter of Lord Melville. Among other things which distinguished Mr. Ranken’s career as a city ruler, was the construction of a chair for the Convener of the Trades, directly opposite and on a level with the seat of the Lord Provost. In the accomplishment of this most important affair he experienced considerable opposition, on the ground that it was absurd to elevate the Convener (whose only title to pre-eminence is the antiquity of the incorporation of which he is deacon or preses) to a level with the Chief Magistrate. The opponents of the attempt further declared, that it was most ridiculous to have apparently two presidents at the board. Ranken, however, carried his point; and the chair still remains an existing memorial of his perseverance. Mr. Ranken retired from business some years prior to his death, which occurred at his house, Melville Street, on the 15th June 1815. He was twice married, and had children by both unions. No. CCXI. FAITHFUL SERVICE REWARDED. THIS caricature refers to the unsuccessful issue of a bill proposed in 1793 for the “ Augmentation of Ministers’ Stipends ”-a subject which had engaged the attention of the General Assembly for some time prior, In 1788, the “Sket,ch of a Plan,”’ was drawn up and published by the late Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood, Bart., which met with the general approval of the clergy in so far that, the year following, a committee was appointed to inquire into the matter, and to report at next meeting of the Assembly. In 1790 the Report-founded on the suggestions of Sir Henry-was accordingly presented, recommending the following proposals :-“ That the fund for augmentation shall arise out of the unexhausted teinds of each parish : out of the produce arising from the bishops’ tithes ; out of the vacant stipends of the several parishes in Scotland j and that, in order to the accomplishment of this end, each parish shall remain vacant at least for one year after the death of the last incumbent, Application shall be made to the Crown for the above tithes ; and a bill brought into Parliament to enable the Lords of Session, as Commissioners of Teinds, to appropriate the same in terms of the act: the smallest stipends to be first augmented, and so on in regular order.” After the reading of this Report, a motion was made, and unanimously agreed to, ‘‘ that the Report be re-committed, with instructions to the committee to digest and Sketch of a Plan for Augmenting the Livings of the Ministers of the Established Church of Scotland, by means of the Vacant Stipends. By Sir K. Monmiff Wellwood, Bart., D.D. 4t0, 1s. 6d. Creech. With hbles and Illustrations.
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