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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 121 On the way‘the prisoner behaved with much levity of manner, and Williamson used to tell several amusing stones respecting him. While at Amsterdam, Brodie met a Scots woman who asked him if he had been long from Scotland, adding, that one Brodie, a citizen of Edinburgh, was accused of robbing the Excise Office ; and that a great reward was offered for his apprehension. In the same city he became acquainted with the person who had committed a forgery on the Bank of Scotland. “He was a very clever fellow,” said Brodie, “ and had it not been for my apprehension, I could have mastered the process in a week.” Before arriving in Edinburgh, Brodie was anxious to have his beard cropped, an operation in which he had not indulged for several days. Afraid to trust the razor in the hands of a person in his circumstances, Mr. Williamson offered to act the part of tonsor, assuring the prisoner that he was well qualified for the task. Brodie patiently submitted to the process, which was awkwardly and very indifferently performed by thb man of captions and hornings. “ George,” said he, as the last polishing stroke had been given, “ if you are no better at your own business than you are at shaving, n person may employ you once, but I’ll be - if ever he does so again ! ” Williamson acquired considerable notoriety in his official capacity in 179 3 and subsequent years, among the “ Friends of the People,” to whom he became obnoxious for his activity as an emissary of the law. Muir of Huntershill and Palmer from Dundee were among the first and most distinguished of the Reformers whom he arrested; and when the late Mr. Hamilton Roman, accompanied by the Hon. Simon Butler, came from Dublin to challenge the Lord Advocate,’ Williamson was prepared to welcome them, on their arrival at Dumbreck‘s Hotel, with a’warrant for their apprehension. In the performance of his duty Mr. Williamson displayed considerable tact and address ; and, without rudeness, was firm and decided. He was a man of more gentleness and humanity than individuals of his profession are generally supposed to be. There are many instances in which he has been known, rather than resort to extreme measures, to have himself paid the debt of the unfortunate individual against whom he had diligence. Being Excise Constable, at that time all the decreets for arrears of licenses were put in force through his hands, under the direction of the late Mr. James Bremner, depute-solicitor of stamps, to whom he invariably reported all cases of distress. The reply of that goodhearted gentleman usually was-“I leave the matter to yourself, Mr. Williamson ; the Government do not wish to make beggars, though they may be fond of the revenue.” In extensive employment, T.7Tilliamson is understood to have at one time realised a considerable fortune. He lived in the Lord President’s Stairs, Parliament Square, but had a country house at Liberton, where he and his 1 Hamilton Rowan was then Secretary to the Society of United Irishmen j and some reflections in which the Lord Advocate had indulged at the trial of Mnir were the -use of offence, VOL. 11. R
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1 sa E I OG RAP H I GAL SI< ET C H ES. family resided during summer. Being a keen amateur horticulturist, he kept a gardener at Liberton ; and his garden, long known for the superior collection which it contained, was much frequented. Mr. Williamson died at Edinburgh on the 15th February 1823, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, and was buried at Newbattle. He was twice married, and by his first wife had two sons and a daughter. His second wife was a sister of the late Mr. Peacock of Stenhouse, from whom he held the house and ground at Liberton on very advantageous terms.’ His eldest son, David, was a writer to the Signet ; and James, a writer and messenger. No. CCXIII. AIR. FRANCIS BRAIDWOOD, CABINET-MAKER. THIS caricature of a respectable citizen was meant to satirise his somewhat extravagant and fastidious taste in matters of dress and fashion. According to Kay’s notes, he ‘‘ was among the first of the bucks who appeared with shoestrings instead of buckles.”’ In the Print it will be observed that these appendages are prominently displayed, especially on the “ cloots ” of one of the ‘‘ fellow bucks,” with whom the artist has thought proper to confront him, The engraving originally bore the inscription-“ I say, don’t laugh, for we are brothers.” Although by no means a fop, in the common meaning of the term, Mr. Braidwood was not insensible to the advantages he possessed in a tall, athletic frame, and commanding appearance ; but, much as the caricature was calculated to wound his feelings, he displayed his good sense by taking no other notice of it than to join heartily in the laugh which it produced. The father of Mr. Braidwood (7vVilliam) was a candlemaker at the head of the West Bow ; and so strictly Presbyterian and religious, that he obtained the soubripwt of the Bowhead Saint. In burlesque of his uncommon zeal, it is told that he once caused a bird, with its cage, to be placed in the City Guard for profaning the Sabbath by whistling “O’er the water to Charlie.” The real Williamson held the ground for about 20s. an acre ; and his brother-in-law became bound to reimburse him for any ameliorations or improvements he might make on the property. On the strength of this agreement, Williamson made out a claim for .€900, which Nr. Peacock refused to pay. On the demise of Mr. Williamson, his heirs carried the matter before the Sheriff, when a remit was made, and professional men appointed to inspect and report upon the extent and benefit of the improvements. His adoption of shoestrings, we believe, did not altogether arise from a desire to be at the top of the ton. Eaving for some time been much annoyed by an injury on the rise of his foot-upon which the buckle immediately pressed-he found great relief on abandoning the old fashion. The claim waa subsequently reduced to B O O .
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