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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 137 Miss Burnett frequently accompanied her father on his visits to London, and it is supposed that too much exercise on horseback proved injurious to her health. She died of consumption at Braid farm, in the neighbourhood of E h - burgh, in 1790. After her funeral, Mr. Williamson (Lord Monboddo’s sonin- law) covered her portrait with a cloth, in order to save his lordship’s feelings. It is told, as illustrative of the old judge’s excessive fondness of ancient literature, that, on looking up and seeing the picture covered, he said--“Right, Williamson ; now let us turn up Herodotus.” This being immediately done, his grief apparently subsided. Much as his philosophy might teach him to bear such an event with fortitude, it was nevertheless evident that he was greatly affected by her death ; and his health and spirits, it is believed, never properly recovered t,he shock. No. CCXVIII. OLD GEORDIE SYME, A FAMOUS PIPER IN HIS TIME. THEE tching of OLD GEORDIES YNEp,i per, Dalkeith, appears to have been one of the earliest efforts of Kay’s pencil. The exact period of time when Geordie flourished at Dalkeith cannot be ascertained. He must have been far advanced in life when the likeness was taken ; for though he was a person who cannot by any means be said to have kept “ the noiseless tenor of his way” through life’s pilgrimage, little is known of him from tradition, and nothing in the recollection of the oldest persons now living in Dalkeith. The Piper of Dalkeith is a retainer of the noble house of Buccleuch ; and there is a small salary attached to the office, for which, in the days of old Geordie, he had to attend the family on all particular occasions, and make the round of the town twice daily, at eight o’clock evening, and five in the morning. Besides his salary, he had a suit of clothes allowed him annually. It consisted of a long yellow coat, lined with red j red plush breeches ; white stockings, and buckles in his shoes. Geordie was much taken notice of by the nobility and gentry of his time as well for his skill in bagpipe music as his powerful and peculiar execution of it ; and his presence was considered indispensable at all their entertainments. Among his particular patrons were Lord Drummore,’ and the Earl of Wemyss, 1 Hugh Dalrpmple of Drummore, a Lord of Session, elevated to the bench 29th December 1726, and died on the 18th June 1755. “When the Prince of Hesse wan in Scotland in 1745-6, his Highness and several of the nobility were elegantly entertained by Lord Drummore, then governor VOL. 11. T
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138 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. then Mr. Charteris of Amisfield. Lord Drummore is said to have been so fond of the bagpipe, that he used to go about the country like a common piper. Once, on a frolic of this kind, he was met on the way by a glazier belonging to Dalkeith, who had been engaged to clean his lordship’s windows. Taking him for a common piper, the friendly tradesman offered him a dram, which he readily accepted ; and in the course of discussing it, the glazier was loud in applauding his performances: “Foul fa’ me, man,” gin ye dinna play amaist as wee1 as our ain Geordie Syme.” The glazier’s surprise may easily be conceived, when, on their arrival at the mansion-house, he was treated with wine in return for his dram. It is not known when Geordie died. His successor in office was Jamie Reid, who lived long to enjoy its honours and emoluments ; and who is still remembered by a few old people in Dalkeith. He seems to have been a man of sagacity and worldly prudence. It is reported of him that, when he understood the late benevolent and still much revered Duchess, widow of Henry Duke of Buccleuch, to be on her return to Dalkeith, he would go a mile or two out of town to meet her-place himself in some conspicuous situation-and the moment she came in view he would blow up-“ Dalkeith has got a rare thing :” and, in like manner, when she left Dalkeith for any of her other residences, he would escort her out of town playing “ Go to Berwick, Johnnie.” These two tunes he invariably played on such occasions, and never failed to receive a reward for his attention. “ Losh keep me, man,” said Jamie, one day, to a neighbour, “ I wonder how it is, for it’s like the Duchess maun aye carry siller in her hand ; for she nae sooner sees me than out paps my five shillings, without ony ane seeing . her hand gang to her pouch.” Jamie had a son called Tom, of so forward and frolicsome a disposition, that he was continually falling into one scrape or another, which sorely grieved his father, who tried both entreaty and punishment to reclaim him, but in vain. At length he adopted a singular expedient. Having a turn for mechanics, amongst other tools for aiding him in his pursuits, he had a vice, into which, whenever the boy would commit a trespass, he would fix him by the tails of the coat, so that he could not move ; and then, placing the drone of his pipes to his ear, would blow till poor Tom became quite subdued and senseless. A neighbour once remonstrated with him on the cruelty of such a punishment, and observed it would be better if he would apply a rod to his back. “A rod to his back !” answered Jamie ; “ haith ye little ken him. Ye may break a’ the hazels in the Duke’s wood owre him, an’ he’ll no be ae bit better. Na, na ! I hae tried a’ that ; but ye see this mak‘s the callant as quiet as poussie ; and besides dings the music into his head; an’ I hae great hopes he will ae day mak‘ a grand piper, for by this way he has amaist learned a’ the tunes already.” Jamie Reid was succeeded by Robert Lorimer, who acted as town piper for On the The company of the musical society, and the gentlemen of the catch-club.”-Amol’s Hid. of Edim. death of his lordship the Society held a grand concert, in honour of his memory. was numerous, and all were dresaed in deep mourning.
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