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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


Volume 9 Page 210
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 157 irksome and disadvantageous. In order to rid themselves of the grievance, they went to law with the Magistrates in lSOS, and again in 1810; but in both instances they were defeated. In l S l l , however, determined to be no longer held in bondage, they sold the property of the Society-made a division of the proceeds-and broke up the union. The city being then provided with an efficient fire establishment, and deeming it useless to contend with them, the Magistrates tacitly sanctioned the dispersion of the Tron-men, by refraining from all attempts to compel their attendance. No. CCXXV, WILLIAM CUMMING, ESQ. THE old gentleman represented in this Etching was a person of eccentric habits. He was immensely rich, and carried on a very extensive and lucrative business as a private banker-at one time in the Parliament Close, and latterly, under the firm of Camming and Son, in the Royal Exchange. He died in 1790. His demise was thus announced in the periodicals of the day:-“March 27, at Edinburgh, in an advanced age, William Cumming, Esq., many years an eminent banker.” He was reputed to be extremely penurious. When walking on the streets, he used constantly to keep his arms spread out to prevent the people from rubbing against his coat, and thereby injuring it. Under a similar apprehension he never allowed his servant to brush his clothes, lest the process should wear off the pile ; but made him place them on the back of a chair, and blow the dust off with a pair of bellows. He not unfrequently wore a scarlet cloak over his suit of sables. The artist, for an obvious reason, has dispensed with this ornament in the portraiture. He was generally known by the soubriquet of “ the Crow.” His manner of walking, with outstretched arms, and the unique appearance of his whole figure, especially at a distance, presented a striking resemblance to that bird. A few days previous to one of the drawings, he had returned all his unsold tickets except one, in the confident hope that even at the eleventh hour a stray purchaser might be found. He for once miscalculated : the decisive day arrived, and the ticket still remained unsold Deeply grieved, and blaming himself for his imprudence, he at last made up his mind to sacrifice a trifle, and actually went out amongst his acquaintances- the shopkeepers of the Lawnmarket offering the ticket at half price I But, with characteristic caution, not one of them could be prevailed on to adventure. Much mortified, the banker felt he had no other resource than quietly to suffer the anticipated loss. His triumph, Mr. Curnming was for some time an agent of the State lotteries.
Volume 9 Page 211
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