Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


470 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. the head, and was styled the Provost's Officer, it being his chief duty to wait upon that civic dignitary. This with hini was truly a labour of love ; and indeed towards all the Magistrates his civility and attention were unremitting. Whatever occurred of a public nature, during their absence, was sure to be made known to them by a note in the hand-writing of this devoted servant, at all hours of the day, and frequently before they had risen out of bed. He was a steady advocate for giving honour to whom honour was due ; and whoever happened to be in office for the time was with him a most especial object of respect. In his eyes the reigning Lord Provost was the greatest man upon earth. Nor did this enthusiastic feeling originate in any slavish or mercenary motive-it owed its existence solely to his innate desire to fulfil to the uttermost his humble, but highly useful and honourable duties. If he happened to meet two of his mastcrs together, his salutation of " Gentlemen-both," with a strong emphasis on the latter word, seemed to imply that he reckoned no one but a Magistrate fully entitled to that appellation. The dialect of his native-mountains never entirely lcft poor Archie, who was a sad murderer of the King's English ; and his ludicrous mistakes and mispronunciations of words mere a source of infinite amusement at the Council Board. At the fencing of the Magistrates' Court, after -an election, when he had to repeat 'after the clerk certain Latin words, his mode of doing so was extremely characteristic and amusing. For instance, when he came to the legal phrase " in. statu quo," he pronounced it with a sonorous emphasis thus :-$' In stutter quoh."' When the Lord Provost or any of his brethren were called on public business to London, Archie, and none but he, was their faithful satellite ; and if any Scotsman happened to inquire at their hotel for admission to speak with these functionaries, Archie's kindly feelings towards his countrymen, rendered more acute by his distance from home, broke out into most exuberant welcome, while he 'would address the applicant thus :-" Ou ay, sir, walk in; ta Lord Provost and Bailies, and a' the Council's here. They'll be unco glad to see Besides his situation of City Officer, Archie held numerous subordinate appointments. He was officer to-the Society of High Constables, to the Convention of Royal Burghs, to the Highland Club, and latterly to the Dean of Guild Court. He was King's Beadle at the meetings of the General Assembly, etc.; also a Justice of Peace Constable, and officer to the Stent-masters of Edinburgh ; and, in short, he monopolised almost every office of a like nature in the city. At one time, as Officer to the Bailie Court, he had nearly the whole business of summoning parties and witnesses, and executing other matters of form before that Court. His duties in this department were so very The following specimen of Archie's &$ish was found among the papers of the late Dr. M'Cleish ; the manuscript in the Doctor's handwriting :-"The Mag. of Edinrs. Proclamation for an iluination on account of au aledgel victory in Rusia over the French Grand Army, 6th Nov. 1813, by Archd. Campbell, their Chief Officer.-'This days gud news caus lumination, but no till mouday, because the Lord's Supper is to be dispeilued-the moma night frae 7 OG to 10 luminate weel."' you."
Volume 9 Page 628
  Enlarge Enlarge  
BIOGRAPHICAL. SKETCHES. 471 considerable, that he used to boast of having had not less than four Writers to the Signed at one time employed as his clerks.‘ It is believed that at this period he had amassed several thousand pounds, the greater part of which, however, he subsequently lost in consequence of some private misfortunes. He was much employed in the recovery of small debts, for the proceeds of which he always acdounted in the most prompt and honourable manner; and it ought to be mentioned, as a circumstance highly creditable to his feelings, that he has been frequently known to advance the money out of his own pocket for some poor and unfortunate debtor (as we formerly had occasion to record of his countryman, William Macpherson), rather than adopt what in the nature of the case he considered to be harsh and vindictive proceedings. When he had fairly brought a prisoner to the jail-door, his parting valediction always was, “Walk up stairs, sir-I can dae nae mair for you.” It may be added, while on this subject, as a curious enough circumstance, that when a late well-known bookseller, celebrated for his social and convivial qualities, then high in office Archie actually did keep a clerk, and a queer mis-shapen little body John Dalrymple was. He had often to accompany his employer in the discharge of his multifarious duties ; and it WM not a little laughable to observe the dignity of the City Officer, aa he walked through the streets with his amanuensis following at a proper distance in the rear. If the latter happened to approach rather near, the angry frown of his master-“ I Ray, sir, keep a respectable distance ! ”--speedily reminded him of his inadvertence. A rather laughable anecdote is told of Archie and Mr. Black, surgeon of the Police Establishment, who had his shop at the time referred to in the High Street, a few steps up, in the premises east of those occupied by the Journal Office. Among other tax receipt.9 put into Archie’s hands to recover payment, there happened to be two against Mr. Black. Aa usual, the City Officer set out, accompanied by his clerk, whom he instructed to go up and inquire if the surgeon “ had any answer to the twa papers left on a former occasion ; for if he had not, he would come and carry off his Fakanany (ipecacuanha) pttlcsl” Having no particular favour for such customers, and being at the time engaged in adjusting a new patent electrifying machine with a battery of twelve bottles, the Doctor desired the messenger to return in the course of ten minutes, when he would endeavour to be prepared for him. Archie, in the meanwhile, amused himself by walking up and down at no great distance. Trne to his time, the clerk returned ; and just as he began to shake the handle of the door-which was fastened by a chain, and to which had been affixed a wire from the machin+off went the battery ; and the first landing of the unfortunate attendant was on the pavement. As he lay sprawling and gasping, Archie, assisted by Mr. Shade, seedsman (in the front of whose shop the affair occurred), came forward, and lifting up the clerk, began to abuse him for being ‘I trnnk like a peast at that time 0’ day.” Dalrymple soon recovered, and endeavonred to give some account of the curious sensation he felt ; but Archie stii persisted in maintaining that he was the worse of liquor. Rightly calculating on another visit, the Doctor again charged the machine ; and he had scarcely done so when Archie himself wav at the door. “ Come in, Mr. Campbell,” cried the Doctor ; and just as Archie applied to the handle, the unexpected shock of the electric battery sent him headlong down the steps, rolling on the pavement, where he lay for a few minutes quite insensible. Mr. Shade and the clerk speedily came to his assistance ; and as he began to recover from his stupor, the seedsman-who spoke with a horrid nasal twangcould not resist the opportunity of cracking a jest at his expense. “You sometimes accuse me of liking a glass, but I think the Doctor has given you a tzimblm- I ‘’ ‘‘ No, sir,” cried Archie, as soon as he had recovered his speech, “ He shoot me through the shoulder with a hone pistoL I heard the report, by -. Laddie, Dalrymple, do you see ony plood ? I take you both witness -.” The occurrence soon became known in the Council Chamber. Next day one of the clerks, with affected seriousness, requested him to call on Mr. Black about some trifling matter, “You and the Doctor may paith go to the tevil ; do you want me to be murdered, sir ? ’’ Never having heard of an electric battery at the hnnoch College, Archie waa hard to convince that he had been wailed by anything else than B horse pistol ; and he could never again be persuaded to enter the premkea of the Doctor.
Volume 9 Page 629
  Enlarge Enlarge