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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 159 believed, were chiefly prosecuted at the University of Edinburgh. When about eighteen years of age, he obtained the appointment of Surgeon to the IsiS manof- war, in which situation he continued four years. “It was while in the Mediterranean,” says a Memoir by the venerable and Rev. Henry Moore of London, “ and off the Island of Malta, that he became decidedly religious. His faith was soon tried. The Isis fell in with a French man-of-war, of seventyfour guns, when a most desperate engagement ensued, in which Captain Wheeler was mortally,wounded.” The command then devolved upon the First Lieutenant, who succeeded in capturing the enemy. His case was hopeless. A cannon-ball had shattered his arm, and torn away part of the abdomen. He spoke solemnly and kindly to the Doctor, who in return pressed the great truths of religion on his dying Commander. The Captain was much affected, and repeatedly prayed God to bless him. The first Lieutenant was then sent for. Remember, his Majesty’s ship must not be given away. Fight her while she can swim.’ The Lieutenant took his leave, and the Doctor soon after descended to his dreadful duty. On the Lieutenant appearing on the deck, the officers cried out, ‘ Sir, shall we fire 4 ’ to which he replied, ‘ No, not a gun, till we brush his yards.’ These orders being punctually observed, the combat became so dreadful, the rigging of the ships being intermingled, that it was quickly over. The French Captain and his officers, being brought on board the Ish, requested to see the body of Captain Wheeler. They were accordingly introduced to the cabin, when, after looking in silence for some time at the appalling spectacle, the scene ended w-ith the usual French shrug, and an exclamation of ‘ Fortune de la guerre ! ’ On leaving the navy, which he did chiefly on account of ill health, Dr. Hamilton commenced practice as a surgeon and apothecary in Dunbar, where he soon attained celebrity, both professionally and as a gentleman of distin,@shed private worth. He became a member of the Methodist Society, and laboured with much zeal in the service of religion. In the course of long and extensive practice, the Doctor acquired a considerable extent of landed property in the neighbourhood of Dunbar, and had a pleasant residence at some distance from the town. Here he had a library, valued above five hundred pounds, always open to his friends ; many of whom, especially of the Connection, were in the habit of sojourning short seasons with him, profiting by his intelligence and friendly aid. “ In the year I spent at Dunbar,” says the Rev. Joseph Taylor, “ which was 1787, Mr. Wesley paid us a visit, and was gladly entertained at Mr. Hamilton’s country house. The love and intimacy subsisting between these two eminent men were unspeakable. Several of the preachers came from other circuits to .meet him there ; and it was a feast indeed to all present, to sit and hear these great men converse so freely and fully about the great things of God.’’ Dr. Hamilton left Dunbar for Leeds, Yorkshire, in 1789, or early in 1790. “Dr. Hamilton was called from the cock-pit to attend the Captain. ‘ Sir,’ said the Captain, ‘you now command. The French ship was carried triumphantly into Gibraltar.’’
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160 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Here he had a wider field for his exertions, both as a temporal and spiritual physician ; but although he readily acquired extensive practice, and was highly esteemed by all belonging to the Connection in that quarter, he remained amongst them only a very few years. Yielding to the repeated solicitations of his friends in London, Dr. Hamilton repaired to the metropolis about the year 1796. Soon after his arrival, he was elected Physician to the London Dispensary- a situation for which he was peculiarly adapted. The conscientious manner in which he discharged his duties, and the solicitude manifested by him for the meanest of his patients, at once endeared him to the Directors of the Institution, and to the poor, by whom his services were principally. required. An instance of the esteem in which he was held is thus related by his biographer :-“ He was mercifully preserved in the haunts of misery and crime. Going one day to visit a poor person in a place noted for both (Petticoat Lane), he was surrounded by a gang of thieves, but was wondrously delivered by a woman screaming from one of the upper windows, ‘ Don’t touch the gentleman ; that’s the good Doctor that saved the life of Mrs. Moses.’ The rogues slunk away in all directions.” Having been some years in London, Dr. Hamilton married for the third time.’ By this union it is understood he obtained a considerable addition to his fortune. His subsequent progress was eminently successful ; but uninterrupted as was his course of usefulness, he was not without his own share of the afflictions which less or more fall to the lot of every one. Several of his sons were in the army. Thomas and William held commissions in a Highland regiment. They served in Egypt, and were present at the unsuccessful attack on Rosetta in 1807. They survived the disaster, having been only slightly wounded ; but shortly after the return of the army to Alexandria, Thomas, the adjutant, was seized with fever, and died in a few days’ illness. The brother, Lieutenant William, returned with his regiment to England, and was for some time stationed in Scotland ; but having negotiated exchange for a Captaincy in the Buffs, then under Wellington in the Peninsula, he repaired thither ; and, after the French had been driven out of Spain, was unfortunately wounded in the south of France, on the 13th of November, when “ foremost of the. brave men who mre pursuing the enemy.” He died on the 29th of the same month. These bereavements were severely felt by Dr. Hamilton j yet he manifested in his conduct that steady bearing and submission to events, nobly characteristic of the Christian. Until extreme old age, he continued in the exercise of his professional and ministerial duties, “dispensing the word of life in several of the most respectable congregations (besides that to which he belonged) in the metropolis.” ‘In B letter to a lady in Scotland, writben in 1826, the Doctor During his residence in Dunbar he was twice married ; first, to a Miss Coutts ; and, secondly, What is perhaps a little singular, a brother of the latter afterwards a Dr. Hamilton’s eldest son, was Colonel James Hamilton, of the Colombian army, South to a Miss Amot from Alnwick. married a daugter of Dr. Haniilton by hia firvt wife. America. Another of his sons, Francis, resided in Kentish-town.
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