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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


372 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. Council agreeing to pay eleven hundred pounds of law expenses, all further proceedings terminated. Having obtained some reputation as a zealous friend to popular measures, the Deacon of the Tailors was chosen one of the Committee for managing the contest with the city; and, at next election (5th October ISIS), was triumphantly returned a member of the Council. The Scotsman, then a young journal, delighted with the spirit displayed by the trades, gave vent to its joy in the following strain .- “ We confess we have done wrong in omitting to express our approbation of the spirited and prudent conduct of the Incorporation of Tailors, during the late struggle for the independence of the trades. The members of this Incorporation were resolved not to be foiled by the minions of the Council ; they calmly formed their plan, and resolutely carried it into execution, by sending to the c,ouncil a list of six staunch friends to a moderate and practical reform. Our wise councillors and liberal magistrates, as usual, struck off the names of those most hostile to self-election ; but in this case they could not succeed, for all the six were right truly and well-beloved by the Corporation, and they could not prevent the return of an independent Tepresentative in the person of DEACONR oss.” The popularity of the Deacon was short-lived At the first meeting of Council following the election, Deacon Paterson:-a zealous practical reformerbrought forward a motion, the nature of which he fully explained in his remarks: -(‘ It appeared to him that the leading duty of the Council, either as individuals or as a body, was to manage well the city funds ; bnt he was, at the same time, at a loss to understand how any man, or set of men, could manage properly a fund of which they were ignorant-ignorant of its nature-ignorant of its extent-and ignorant of a thousand circumstances with which it might be connected or involved. He therefore begged leave to move-that the proper person or persons be directed to lay before the Council a state of the debt due by the city, stating to whom such debts are due ; the periods at which they were contracted, and whether they are for moneys lent, or for services done to the city.” This motion, seconded by Deacon Gillespie,’ was opposed by the Lord Provost (Kincaid Mackenzie, Esq.), who asserted that the funds of the city were in a flourishing condition ; and that there was no necessity for the state demanded, as the books were daily open for inspection in the Chamberlain’s Office.4 On this understanding Deacon Paterson consented for the time to withdraw his motion. On Wednesday the 4th of Xovember, however, he again pressed the subject on the attention of the Council. He said that, in going to the Chamberlain’s office, he well knew he had been sent a “wild goose chase,” the voluminous According to the old system of electing trades’ councillops, each Incorporation sent a list containing the names of six individuals. The Magistrates and Councillon had the privilege of what waa called “ shortening the leet,” by cutting off three of the most objectionable candidatea ; and from the remainder the Corporation chose their representative. Mr. Jams Paterson, katahmaker, High Street. Mr. Alexander Gillespie, Deacon of the Incorporation of Surgeons. It is due to Provost Mackenzie to state, that he waa the h t who proposed to publish, for the He waa then Deacon of the Hammermen. use of the public in general, a full statement of the city’s affairs.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 373 nature of the accounts rendering it impossible for any one, whose time was limited, to obtain the satisfaction desired. He therefore resumed his former motion, that a clear and succinct statement of the city’s affairs should be produced. On this occasion he was seconded by Deacon Lawrie,’ but opposed as formerly by the Lord Provost, on the ground of inexpediency, as “ he had pledged himself elsewhere [at a meeting of the Merchant Company], that, if he was in office at the usual season of making out the city’s accounts, he would give a full and explicit statement; and [in conclusion] offered every facility to any person wishing information on the subject.” This, however, would not satisfy the uncompromisihg Deacon of the Hammermen, who, though certain of defeat, resolved to press his motion to a division ; but what was his astonishment to find an opponent in the “represen€ativeof the tailors f ” “Deacon ROSS,” says the report of the Council proceedings given in the Scotman, after what the Provost had promised to do, and after what he had said in another place [Merchant Company Meeting], thought the motion unnecessay; and seeing no necessity for it at present, would vote against it. L‘ The vote was then put : twenty-three voted against the motion, and three for it ; the mpposed independent Deacon of the Tailors voting with the majority f ’I At that period reporters ’were not admitted to the Council sittings ; but the Scotsman generally found means to give publicity to the proceedings. The Deacon, conceiving himself to have been misrepresented, sent the following letter to the Editor, which appeared in next publication :- “ TO THE EDITOR OF TEE SCOTSMAN. Sq-In the report given in your paper of Saturday last, of the proceedings of the Town Council of Edinburgh on the Wednesday preceding on the motion of Deacon Paterson, you have not been correctly informed of what I said upon that occasion ; and as it is unpleasant to be misrepresented, I have annexed a copy of what I thought it my duty to state in Council upon that occasion, which, along with this letter,,I request you may insert in Saturday’s SwWn. I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, Edis. 12th Nov. 1818.” (‘ W. M, Ross. “ MY LORD,-It certainly would be very satisfactory to have before us a state of the city’s affairs, and to know how they stand ; but from what your lordship has just now said, and from the pledge which you gave in another meeting, namely, the Merchant Company, I have no objection to wait for this state till the usual time. Were it really the caae that the city’s affairs were in a bad state, and the demands upon it not regularly paid, I should think the sooner the motion was gone into the better ; but I suppose this is not the case, as I understand every claim hitherto made against the city has been immediately settled I shall therefore at present vote against the motion.” This vote of Deacon Ross gave great offence to the party to which he waa supposed to be attached, and subjected him to the charge of deserting the popular cause. Hence the caricature of ‘( The Laird of Denholme Breaking his Beast.” Mr. Alexander Lawrie. Deacon of the Bonnetmakers.
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