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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


178 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. No. CCXXXII. REV. JOHN WALKER, D.D., PROFESSOR OF NATURAL HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH. JOHNWA LKERD, octor of Divinity, was born in the Canongate of Edinburgh. His father-Rector of the grammar school there-was an excellent classical scholar, and is said to have bestowed such attention to the education of his son, that when ten years of age he could read Homer with considerable fluency. At a proper age he entered the University, where he studied with merited approbation, and was in due course of time licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Edinburgh. Dr. Walker’s first presentation was to the parish of Glencorse, about seven miles to the south of Edinburgh, and whic4 includes part of the Pentland Hills within its range. Here an excellent opportunity presented itself to the young clergyman for improvement in his favourite study of botany-a scienceit0 which he had been early attached, and in which he had already made considerable progress, as well as in other branches of natural history. In this sequestered and romantic district Dr. Walker passed some of the pleasantest years of his life. Those hours which he could spare from his pastoral duties were generally spent in exploring the green hills of the Pentlands, and in making additions to his botanical specimens. This pleasing pursuit could of course only be prosecuted during the spring and summer months, but the winter was not without its amusements. The talents and acquirements of Dr. Walker were not allowed to remain unnoticed by the more distinguished of his neighbours and parishioners. Among these were, Twilliam Tytler, Esq., of Woodhouselee, well known for his historical researches, particularly into that portion of Scottish history which relates to Mary Queen of Scots ; James Philp, Esq., of Greenlaw, Judge of the High Court of Admiralty ; and Sir James Clerk, Bart., of Penicuik-a gentleman whose skill and taste in the fine arts was undisputed j and whose collections of paintings and memorials of antiquity have rendered the mansion-house of Penicuik a place of great interest to the cur ion^.^ By these gentlemen the company and conversation of Dr. Walker was greatly estimated : and a constant intercourse existed between them. In 1764, the General Assembly, in prosecution of a benevolent design Among other remains at Penicuik is the buff coat worn by the Viscount Dundee at the battle of Killiecrankie : the hole through which the fatal bullet passed is underneath the arm-pit. Sir George Clerk, late M.P. for Edinburghshire, vas the son of the late Sir James.
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