Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 429 booty. “DO ye no see what I’m about 1’’ answered the fellow with the utmost assurance : “ nae doubt ye’ll be some o1 the understrappers frae the big house!” Amused at the surpassing nonchalance of the rustic, “What if Maule were to come upon you 1” said his lordship, with difficulty maintaining a sufficient gravity of countenance. “Hout, man, he ,wadna say a wordthere’s no a bet,ter hearted gentleman in a’ the country ; but as I’m in a hurry, I wish you would lend me a hand, man.” To this Panmure good-humouredly agreed ; and when the tree had been securely placed on the cart, the jolly peasant proposed rewarding his assistant with a dram in a neighbouring alehouse. To this his lordship would not accede, but invited the youth to call next day at the Castle, where, by asking for Jamie the footman, he would be sure to find him, and be treated to a glass out of his own bottle. The countryman called according to promise ; but his confusion and astonishment may be guessed, when, instead of meeting Jamie the footman, he was ushered, with great ceremony, into the presence of Lord Panmure and a company of gentlemen. “My man,” said his lordship, walking up to him, “next time you go to cut wood, I would advise you first to ask Illaule’s permission.” With this gentle reprimand he dismissed the terrified depredator, though not without having given instructions that he should be well entertained in the hall. In imitation of some of our Scottish Kings, Maule occasionally amused himself by visiting his tenantry in the character of a mendicant, so disguised that it was impossible they could recognise him. He thus became minutely acquainted with the character and habits of a class of people in whom he was deeply interested. Entering a hamlet, in the course of his excursions, on the borders of Forfarshire, one very cold and wet evening, he sought shelter in the house of an old woman, who was busy at her wheel, for the spinning-jenny had not then entirely expelled that useful instrument of industry from the cottage ingle. With the accustomed hospitality of our rural population, the “ Gaberlunzie- man” was welcomed to a share of the hearth; but he was no sooner seated than he began to grumble at the small fire that burned slowly in the halfempty grate. The woman assured him there was no more fuel in the house ; and as she marvelled at the impertinent manner of the sturdy-looking beggar, her terror and amazement may be conceived, when starting to his feet, and exclaiming--“ I’ll’soon make a fire,” he laid hold of the wheel ; and, in spite of threats, remonstrances, and the personal opposition which a sense of wrong inspired her with strength and courage to offer, first the rock, with the ‘‘wee pickle tow ”-next the wheel-and lastly, the whole body of the frame-at once her pride and her means of livelihood-were crackling in the flames, and spreading a light and a warmth unknown to the cottage. Having thoroughly warmed himself, and when the rage and imprecations of the old woman were nearly spent with their own violence, Maule took his departure, but not without leaving a benison, in the shape of a well-filled purse, which amply reconciled her to the destruction of her property. The liberality of his disposition frequently relieved the “ Generous Sports
Volume 9 Page 574
  Enlarge Enlarge  
430 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. man ” from many an awkward scrape. On one occasion he and two or three others happened to dine at an inn in Perth, and as usual sallied out after nightfall in quest of adventures. The street-lamps having attracted their notice, they began smashing them with sticks, till in a short time the whole city was in total darkness. Next morning, on learning that the Magistrates were met in full conclave to discuss the serious outrage that had been committed overnight, Maule very calmly repaired to the Council Chamber, and a,ddressing the Lord Provost, said, ‘‘ My lord, having just recently come to visit your city, I was quite ashamed last night to see the shabby-looking lamps in your streets, which are quite a disgrace to so fine a town, I therefore demolished the whole, with the view of presenting, at my own expense, a new and handsome set of lamps.” The astonished Magistrates of course accepted the apology,’ His excesses in this way, more characteristic of a love of fun, than of any ignoble quality of the mind, are not the only instances of that liberality for which the Generous Sportsman was distinguished. Others more akin to native goodness of heart deserve to be recorded. We allude, ip particular, to the sum of X50 annually given by his lordship (then Mr. Maule) to the widow of Burns, and which was continued until the eldest son of the poet, by his exertions in India, was enabled to provide for his mother ; when, with a laudable spirit of independence, the farther aid of their benefactor was respectfully declined. To this genuine display of generosity, which at once testified his respect for the Bard and his sympathy for the widow and her children, it remains in justice to his lordship, to be added, that advancing years tended not to contract, but rather to widen the channel of his munificence. As an instance, we observe in a local journal that Lord “Panmure has laid before the Council of Brechin plans for enlarging the building of the Public Schools, and for erecting a hall, with library, apparatus-room, etc., for the Mechanics’ Institution, above the schools. The nobleness of the gift is only equalled by the beauty of the proposed structure, which will be of Gothic architecture, with a handsome tower in the centre.” An unquestionable proof of the estimation in which Lord Panmure was held in his neighbourhood, particularly by his tenantry, was the handsome column erected in his honour, as a lasting memorial of their respect for his character as a landlord. The monument was designed by an Edinburgh artist : and on its completion in 1839, Lord Panmure presented each of the subscribers with his portrait. Lord Panmure married, 1st December 1794, Patricia Heron Gordon, daughter of Gilbert Gordon, Esq., of Halleaths, near Lochmaben, by whom he His lordship offers to be at the sole expense of these buildings. Being in London, Made happened on one occasion to meet a Scottish barrister, well known in the Parliament House of Edinburgh for his earcastic tongue ; and, having an invitation to an evening party, he (Scotchman like) took his friend with him, who began to display his talent in his usual insolent manner : but however much hia rudeness was tolerated by the natives of “Add Reekie,” the Cackneys entertained a very different opinion of his attempts at wit ; and Made h‘d the mortification of seeing his friend, the Scottish barrister, actually kicked down stairs.
Volume 9 Page 575
  Enlarge Enlarge