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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 323 and, about the year 1776, was appointed one of the Judges of the Commissary Court, which office he resigned in 1 7 9 1. The Laird and his brother were men of primitive habits. From some unaccountable aversion to matrimony, neither of them ever married;’ and they both resided in the same house. Their domestic establishment was limited to one female and two men-servants; one of whom, Archibald Brown, butler and factotum, was considered the waiting-man of the Laird ; the other of the Commissary Judge. It does not appear that this retired mode of life resulted from parsimony of disposition. They were very wealthy; and their management of accounts exhibited the utmost liberality. To their domestics they were extremely kind, a new year’s gift of a hundred pounds being no unfrequent addition to the stated salary ; and several distant relatives, in circumstances not the most prosperous, were understood to participate largely in their munificence, often receiving sums of double that amount, in such a way as amply testsed the disinterested kindness of the donors. Both brothers were early risers, and it was no uncommon thing for them to walk the length of Dalkeith and back again before the servants were out of bed. As an instance of the active benevolence of the Laird, it is told that one morning meeting a person of abject appearance, with bruised feet and worn-out shoes, he instantly stripped off his own, and, causing him to sit down by the wayside, desired him to try whether they would fit. An exchange having been thus readily effected, the philanthropic Laird of Riccarton, putting on the shoes of the mendicant, proceeded on his walk. In stabure the Laird was somewhat shorter than the Commissary Judge. Totally indifferent to external appearance, almost no persuasion could reconcile him to any innovation in the fashion of his habiliments. Even a change of linen was reluctantly complied with ; and he was often observed greatly to lack some portion of that industry which gave to the stockings of Sir John Cutler so much celebrity for their durability. Those of the Laird were usually retained, without the application of soap or needle, until perfectly useless ; then, and then only, consigned to the flames, the old made way for the new, to be in turn subjected to similar treatment. A gentleman passing him one day, charitably slipped a sixpence into his hand. Not at all disconcerted, after examining it for some time, Mr. Craig coolly pocketed the donation. The death of the elder brother occurred on the 22d January 1814, when he was in the eighty-fifth year of his age. He succeeded his father in 1732, and had consequently been eighty-two years in possession of the estate. “During the whole course of his life he uniformly supported the character of an upright, honest man. He was a father to his tenants and servants, and a most liberal friend to the poor.” RoberGthe subject of the Print-survived till he attained the advanced age Notwithstanding the strong prejudice entertaiied against wedlock, neither the Laird nor his brother showed any dislike to children. On the contrary, the boys of the neighbourhood were often regaled in the kitchen with strawberrias and other fruits when in season.
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324 B I 0 G R AP H I C AL S KE T C HE S. of ninety-three. In his manner and habits he was scarcely less peculiar than the Laird, though somewhat more particular as to his dress. He wore a plain coat, without any collar ; a stock in place of a neckcloth ; knee breeches ; rough stockings ; and shoes ornamented with niassy buckles. At an early period of life he persisted in wearing (until so annoyed by the boys as he walked in the Meadows, that he judged it prudent to comply with the fashion of the times, ’) a hat of a conical shape, with a narrow brim, in form not unlike a helmet. At a later period he adopted the broad-rimmed description represented in the Print. When he had occasion to call any of his domestics, he rang no bell, but invariably made use of a whistle, which he carried in his pocket for the purpose. His indifference to money matters amounted even to carelessness. He kept no books with bankers ; a drawer, and that by no means well secured, in his own house, being the common depository of his cash, Though an ardent admirer of the British Constitution, yet not insensible to its abuses or defects, he was opposed to the foreign policy of Government at the era of the French Revolution. His opinions on this subject he embodied in an anonymous pamphlet, entitled “ An Inquiry into the Justice and Necessity of the Present War with France,” 8vo, Edin. 1795, of which a second and improved edition was published the following year. In this essay he contended for the right which every nation had to remodel its own institutions; referring, by way of precedent, to the various revolutions effected in Britain, without producing any attempt at interference on the part of other states. “If we consult the principles of natural law and equity,” says the writer, “ France must certainly have an equal right with any other European state to change and to frame her constitution to her own mind. She is as free and independent in this respect as Great Britain, or any other kingdom on the globe ; and there does not appear to be auy reason why she should be excluded from exercising this right, or why we should pretend to dictate to her with regard to the government she is to live under. When Louis XIV., on the death of James VI., thought proper to proclaim his son King of Great Britain, how did the Parliament here take it? Did they not address the King upon the throne, and represent it in their address as the highest strain of violence, and the greatest insult that could be offered to the British nation, to presume to declare any person to be their King, or as having a title to be so P What, therefore, should entitle us to take up arms in order to force them to submit to monarchical government I” Such is the style and spirit of the Inquiry. Pursuant to a deed of entail, Mr. James Gibson, W.S. (afterwards Sir James Gibson-Craig, Bart. of Riccarton and Ingliston) succeeded to the estate, and assumed the name and arms of Craig. The $Ouse in Princes Street, No. 91, now occupied as a hotel, was left to Colonel Gibson. In politics, Mr. Craig was decidedly liberal. Mr. Craig died on the 13th of March 1823. Cocked hats were then the rage.
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