Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


228 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. he would walk about the streets of Dunfermline, declaring that he was sent to “rule the nations with a rod of iron.” Abhorring every one who had even the appearance of making “gain of godliness,” he one day, in his magisterial wanderings, observed a “ causeway preacher ” in the act of sermonising for the sake of the few halfpence which might be thrown into his hat, which, for the purpose of receiving the gifts, lay open before him. Andrew’s ire was kindled at the exhibition ; he stepped forward, repeating in a solemn tone-“ Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel ; ” and, suiting the action to the words, with one blow of his iron Tod he felled the unlucky propounder of the Gospel to the ground. For this breach of the peace, the only one he was ever known to commit, Andrew was imprisoned in the jail of the burgh, from which he was in a short time liberated on bail. In after life he often referred to his incarceration, remarking, in ridicule of the circumstance, that ‘I such a place was more likely to make a wise man mad, than to cure the frenzy of a madman, which the magistrates in error thought he was.” Andrew was undoubtedly an excellent scholar ; and, on relinquishing the Grammar School of Dunfermline, he came to Edinburgh, giving himself out as a private teacher of Greek and Hebrew. Although well qualified to act in this capacity, it was not to be supposed, from the state of his mind, that his employment would be extensive, or that he was capable of pursuing any vocation with the necessary application and perseverance. A small circle of friends-of whom the late Mr. William Anderson, ironmonger, foot of West Bow, was one-who were pleased with the simplicity of his manners, contributed the moderate sum required for his subsistence.‘ But acting upon the Scripture injunction, that “if any would not work, neither should he eat,” Andrew, with honourable independence of mind, refused all gratuitous aid. Either professionally as a teacher, or in any other way he could be serviceable, he always insisted on rendering an equivalent , His peculiarly conscientious idea of independence occasionally placed him in circumstances somewhat ridiculous ; and his scruples against eating when he did not work were frequently carried so far as to threaten starvation. His objections were only to be overcome by his friends suggesting the performance of some trifling piece of labour, such as bringing a “rake ” or two of water from the well, or arranging the goods on the shelves of the sale shop, Having applied a salve to his conscience in this way, he would then sit down to dinner, But even this device ceased to be effective, some of the young wags persuading him that such labour was unprofitable, and tended only to indulge the indolence of the housemaid or shopboy. Thus driven to extremities, and effectually to appease the phantom by which he was pursued, Andrew at one time hired himself as a labourer to a master builder ; and what further proved the disinterested nature and purity of his motives, as he had q competency, his revibnt in England. Latterly he was chiefly supported by the remittances of a distant relative, a medical gentleman
Volume 9 Page 304
  Enlarge Enlarge  
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 229 wages were to be given away in charity. One day, while engaged with his fellowbarrowman in carrying up stones to the masons, as might have been expected he felt much fatigued; and a passage of Scripture-“Do thyself no harm’- coming opportunely to his recollection, he at once laid down his portion of the barrow. His companion behind, still holding the shafts, and provoked by the untimely delay, broke out into a volley of dreadful oaths and imprecations ; to prevent which Andrew resumed the burden sooner than he intended. When the labours of the day were over, he was asked by a friend, to whom he repeated the occurrence, if he had forgot the sum of the second table of the law, which says, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself 1” Andrew replied that it did not occur to him at the time. On his friend reminding him that, had he been the undermost bearer of the barrow, his own safety would have dictated a different course, he cordially assented--“ You say right ; that is very true.’’ His opposition to the prevailing customs of society arose from an indiscriminate and rigid interpretation of particular portions of the Sacred Writings ; and probably the same cause led to his dissent from the ordinary modes of public worship. He used to say that he had read of a church in Ethiopia, where the service chiefly consisted in reading the Scriptures. ‘‘ That,” said he, “ is the church I would have attended.” He preferred reading the Bible in the original ; and to his extreme fondness for expounding the Scriptures, the attitude in which he is portrayed in the Print evidently refers. At the time the building of the South Bridge was in progress, Andrew has been often seen at a very early hour on the Sabbath morning-long before his fellow-citizens were roused from their slumbers-seated in the fresh air to the south of the Tron Church, with hie Hebrew Psalter in his hand.’ He frequented those churches where the greatest portion of Scripture were read, and generally visited more than one place of worship in the course of a forenoon. He repaired first to the Glassites, who met in Chalmers’ Closethen to the Baptists, in Niddry Street, or to the Old Independent Church in the Candlemaker Row, The former he preferred for their Scripture reading, and the latter for the doctrines taught. In short, the Bible was the standard to which he seemed desirous of assimilating himself, not more in faith than in manners ; and his language formed on the same model, abounded in Scripture phrases and quotations, applicable to almost every circumstance in life, Mistaken he might be in some of his views, and over rigid in others; but in 1 On the fint leaf of a Hebrew Grammar, which he occasionally used, he had inscribed two lines “ I rise each day from my bed with the impression that it may be, and with the purpose of spendof classical Latin, copied from Melancthon, somewhat to the following effect :- ing it aa if it were to be, my last.” After which was mitten, as under :- ‘‘ Nothing but GOD, and GOD done you’ll find, Can fill a boundless and immortal mind.”
Volume 9 Page 305
  Enlarge Enlarge