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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Street Successful beyond expectation, he shortly afterwards added to his good fortune by an alliance with a daughter of Mr. James Fergusson,’ coppersmith, one of the “well-to-do” lairds of the West Bow. She lived only to be the mother of one son. Grieved as he might be at this event, Mr. Cooper did not long remain a widower. He was then a handsome man, and found little difficulty in gaining the affections of Miss Marion Scott,’ one of three sisters who were left, with considerable fortunes, under guardians so scrupulous in the selection of suitors, that the ladies were fain to consult their own judgment, by eloping with the objects of their choice. Shortly after his second marriage, Mr. Cooper took two brothers of the name of Bruce into partnership, This arrangement, as frequently happens in similar cases, gave rise to much annoyance. The young men had formed an intimacy with Deacon Brodie, who, though then moving in a respectable sphere, was known to be a person of irregular habits ; and entertaining an aversion towards him, for which he could not well account, Mr. Cooper was resolved not to tolerate his frequent visits to the shop. An opportunity was not long sought for to lecture his young friends on their want of attention and the impropriety of their intercourse with Brodie. This brought matters to a crisis : the Bruces were not to be dictated to, and equally resolute, Mr. Cooper avowed his determination that the copartnery should cease, According to the terms of contract, the stock, which was extensive and valuable, was put up to the highest bidder, who was to find “ caution,” or surety for the price to be paid-the purchaser to retain possession of the shop. On the morning of sale Mr. Cooper found himself deserted by his proposed cautioner- the whole fell into the hands of the Messrs. Bruce-and thus he was compelled reluctantly to abandon an establishment of which he had been the originator. Fatally for themselves, the Bruces continued their intimacy with the Deacon, who, it is said, taking impressions of their keys, effected their ruin by the midnight plunder of their premises.’ When the aon and successor of this gentleman died, he left about eighteen thousand pounds to distant relatives ; which sum would have fallen to Mrs. Cooper’s son had he survived his uncle. -a The eldest sister was married to a Mr. Miller, gunsmith, with whom originated, we believe, the idea of employing mounted artillery-men in the management of field ordnance. His suggestions were first tendered (through the medium of a friend) to the British Government, but being treated with contempt, they were next communicated to the French executive, by whom the plan was at once appreciated, and instantly carried into effect. After witnessing the success of the scheme in the hands of their enemies, the British army was not allowed to remain long without the advantage of a well-disciplined corps of “flyipg artillery.” Miller did not live to tiee the triumph of hi8 project. The friend to whom he had entrusted his various plans and models, failing to interest the Government in the matter, passed over to France, where he appropriated the credit, and no doubt the profit, of the design to himself. He never retuimed to this country ; and rumour asserts that he w8s guillotined. Although it may have been projected by Brodie, the robbery was committed by his accomplice, Smith, alone, the former having refused to go at the time appointed, as he was busily engaged at play. There was no evidence of this robbery except the roluntary declaration of Smith. Sea Mernoir of Deaeon Brodie in the first volume.
Volume 9 Page 380
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 287 Though hia friend had proved slippery at the critical moment, Mr. Cooper was not without funds, He built the first property erected on the South Bridge, the house (No. 1) forming the corner building at the junction with the High Street. Here he opened with an entire new stock of goods, and continued to prosecute business with his usual success. Strictly attentive in the management of his affairs, Mr. Cooper was by no means insensible to the relaxations and pleasures of social life. With 8 few friends he was in the habit of unbending occasionally, even beyond the rules of strict decorum, though quite in keeping with the indulgences of the times.’ There was one crony in particular, Mr. Weddell, confectioner, with whom he was on terms of more than common intimacy. Both originally from Lanarkshire, their ‘‘ calf-country ” afforded them many interesting reminiscences. Weddell in some measure owed his advance in life to the kind offices of his friend the jeweller ; the latter having recommended him to Mrs. Finch: the widow of an extensive confectioner in Edinburgh, as a person well qualified to wind up her husband‘s affairs. In this task he acquitted himself so much to the satisfaction of his employer, that she speedily doffed the symbols of her widowhood and became Mrs. Weddell. Among other methods of enjoying themselves, Cooper and Weddell made frequent country excursions, rising early and breakfasting at some known resort in the suburbs.’ Occasionally they devoted a summer afternoon to their walks, seldom failing to regale themselves plentifully by the way. It at length OCcurred to the friends that they might lighten the toil, and add to the pleasure of their rambles, by keeping a riding-horae betwixt them. One to each would One of his principal companions was the late Mr. Henderson, Russia-merchant, also a native of the west country. Their favonrite evening walk was to Inglis Green, where, with Mr. M‘Whirter of the Bleachfield, they formed a social party sometimes rather tedious in their sittings. On one occasion they tarried so long and so effectually at the bowl, that it was found necessary to convey the friends to town in the Bleachfield cart. At that time Archie Camphell, afterwards city-officer, acted as porter to Mr. Cooper, and was luckily in attendance when the load arrived. Archie could not imagine what “the Bleachfield cart could be wanting at that time 0’ nicht ;” and the driver, no less puzzled how he would get quit of his charge, stood irresolute. Archie, at last comprehending the natnre of the dilemma, suggested what “ she’ll do.” Unyoking the hone, he poised the cart 80 as gently to upset the insensible wassailers on the pavement, and shouldering hia master, carried him upstairs to his bedroom. The other two were picked up by their attendant porters, and disposed of in a similar manner. Finch wa8 at one time in partnership with Steele, whose widow, as already mentioned, married Mr. Innes. The former, a native of London, accompanied the latter to Edinburgh, and commencing business as confectioners, their house may be said to have been the origii of all the confectionery establishments now in the city. A well-known story, usually attributed to an Englishman, originated, we believe, with Mr. Cooper on one of these occasions. The butter happening to be by no means to their liking, by way of quizzing the good dame, they said to the girl, “ Go, tell your mistreas that we want to have the butter on one plate and the hairs on another I ” Not comprehending exactly the bent of their humour, the girl did eo desired. Immediately the hostess, flushed with the insult, entered the room, and clutching the two friends in her “wally nieves,” knocked their heads together, exclaiming 89 she repeated the violence, ‘‘ An‘ ye want the butter on ae plate an’ the hairs on anither !-tak’ that for your impudence.” Many a time Mr. Cooper used to laugh at the remembrance of this ncident.
Volume 9 Page 381
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