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regular shape so as to prevent the discovery, to the general on-looker, of innate peculiarities or cherished fancies. The supreme judges of Scotland had amongst them, for example, previous to the last generation, men not only of superior mental powers and acquirements, but the bar held out a scope for the indulgence of singularities which no other profession furnished; and it was copiously used. Even at this day it is impossible to be for any considerable time in Edinburgh society without finding the dialogue enriched and set off by some anecdote or saying of judicial origin. We, ourselves, are old enough to have encountered more than one of the worthies referred to, and have found advantage in being able to interlard a speech or a piece of writing with some of their coinings. How much more numerously and richly must such a genius as that possessed by John Kay have enjoyed similar opportunities, may be understood even by entire strangers to Scotland, from what we are now to say and copy. Nor would it be just to neglect testifying that the "Biographical Sketches" and anecdotes here published, form a suitable accompaniment to the "Portraits;" for they contain a great extent and variety of local and provincial information as well as much that is curious and antiquarian, the whole conveyed in a manner that evinces no small share of acuteness and literary skill. Altogether, the records presented in these Portraits and Sketches are the most desirable and entertaining that we have ever known to be produced in connection with any one community in ancient or modern times. Edinburgh, during the latter half of the last century, will, so long as the publication before us exists, obtain a superior niche in the estimation of the civilized and contemplative world.
Kay's Portrait, drawn and engraved by himself in 1786, is the first which appears in this earliest Part. It is accompanied by a sketch of his life, written by himself, which, it is supposed, was intended by him to be prefixed to a collection of his works. He is represented in a sitting thoughtful posture," in an antiquated chair (whereby he means to represent his love of antiquities),"—as his autobiography states-" with his favourite cat (the largest it is believed in Scotland) sitting upon the back of it; several pictures hanging behind; a bust of Homer, with his painting utensils on the table before him, a scroll of paper in his hand, and a volume of his works upon his knee." He was born a few miles distant from Edinburgh, gave early proofs of a genius for drawing, "by sketching men, horses, cattle, houses, &c., with chalk, charcoal, or pieces of burnt wood, for want of pencils and crayons." Was bound apprentice to a barber, and after being a journeyman for several years, began business for himself, which he carried on with great success, "being employed by a number of the principal nobility and gentry in and about Edinburgh," one of whom, Nisbet of Dirleton, took an especial favour for him, having him almost constantly as a com
panion for several years, "by night and by day." He was twice married, and died in 1826, his second wife surviving him nine years. "Towards the close of the last century and the beginning of the present," says a notice of the present work, "there was a small print shop to be seen in the Parliament House Square (the building of which it formed a part was destroyed by the great fire in 1824,) usually surrounded by a crowd of gaping idlers. A slender straight old man of middle size, dressed in garb of antique cut, of quiet, unassuming manners, presided in the interior. The attractions which drew together the loiterers on the outside were a number of small prints, representing the public characters and oddities of the day. This was the shop of John Kay, the caricaturist."
Often have we ourselves been of the number of these entertained gapers, sometimes at the very moment having an opportunity to compare the portraits with the living originals. Kay was, we believe, a self-taught artist, improving himself in drawing during the leisure times in the course of his regular profession, which he at length dropped on finding an unexpected success attend his etchings in aquafortis, a branch which he came to practise. In this way he formed a collection altogether unique; for few persons of any notoriety figured in the Scottish capital, for a period of nearly half a century previous to 1817, escaped his powerfully expressed notice, and occasionally he indulged himself in caricaturing such local incidents as might amuse the public.
None but those of course who have the good fortune to behold his portraits, can possibly have an idea of their peculiar style and individuality. None but those who have seen the living originals can feel how perfectly the humble artist has caught all that was characteristic about the persons represented. We shall however, by copiously extracting from the biographical sketches that accompany the engravings, prove to our readers that even although nothing else was to be found in the publication, it contains a rich fund of local and traditionary information, transmitting more accurately the complexion of the age to which the work belongs, than any other sort of history can do; so that when completed (the work is to extend to two volumes quarto), it will be a chronicle of extraordinary value.
The plate which immediately follows that of Kay contains the portraits of the Daft (crazy) Highland Laird, John Dhu or Dow, alias Macdonald, and Jamie Duff, an idiot. The Daft Laird was a gentleman by birth, his proper name and title being James Robertson, of Kincraigie, in Perthshire.
"He was a determined Jacobite, and had been engaged in the Rebellion of 1745, for which he was confined in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. "It was during this incarceration that the Laird exhibited those symptoms of derangement which subsequently caused him to obtain the sobri
quet of the Daft Highland Laird.' His lunacy was first indicated by a series of splendid entertainments to all those who chose to come, no matter who they were.
"His insanity and harmlessness having become known to the authorities, they discharged him from the jail, from which, however, he was no sooner ejected than he was pounced upon by his friends, who having cognosced him in the usual manner, his younger brother was, it is understood, appointed his curator or guardian. By this prudent measure his property was preserved against any attempts which might be made by designing persons, and an adequate yearly allowance was provided for his support. A moderate income having in this way been secured to the Laird, he was enabled to maintain the character of a deranged gentleman with some degree of respectability, and he enjoyed, from this time forward, a total immunity from all the cares of life. When we say, however, that the Laird was freed from all care and anxiety, we hazarded something more than the facts warrant. There was one darling wish of his heart that clung to him for many a day, which certainly was not very easy to gratify. This was his extreme anxiety to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, as a rebel partisan of the house of Stuart, and a sworn and deadly foe to the reigning dynasty. He was sadly annoyed that nobody would put him in jail as a traitor, or attempt to bring him to trial. It would have been a partial alleviation of his grief, if he could have got any benevolent person to have accused him of treason. It was in vain that he drank healths to the Pretender-in vain that he bawled treason in the streets; there was not one who would lend a helping-hand to procure him the enjoyment of its pains and penalties.
The Laird, although he uniformly insisted on being a martyr to the cause of the Chevalier, seemed to feel that there was something wanted to complete his pretensions to that character-that it was hardly compatible with the unrestrained liberty he enjoyed, the ease and comfort in which he lived, and the total immunity from any kind of suffering which was permitted him; and hence his anxiety to bring down upon himself the vengeance of the law.
Failing, however, in every attempt to provoke the hostility of Govern ment, and thinking, in his despair of success, that if he could once again get within the walls of a jail, it would be at any rate something gained; and that his incarceration might lead to the result he was so desirous of obtaining, he fell on the ingenious expedient of running in debt to his landlady, whom, by a threat of non-payment, he induced to incarcerate him. This delightful consummation accordingly took place, and the Laird was made happy by having so far got, as he imagined, on the road to martyrdom.
"It was a very easy matter to get the Laird into jail, but it was by no means so easy a one to get him out again. Indeed, it was found next to impossible. No entreaties would prevail upon him to quit it, even after the debt for which he was imprisoned was paid. There he insisted on remaining until he should be regularly brought to trial for high treason. At last a stratagem was resorted to, to induce him to remove. One morning two soldiers of the Town-Guard appeared in his apartment in the prison, and informed him that they had come to escort him to the Justiciary
Court, where the Judges were assembled, and waiting for his presence, that they might proceed with his trial for high treason.
Overjoyed with the delightful intelligence, the Laird instantly accompanied the soldiers down stairs, when the latter having got him fairly outside of the jail, locked the door to prevent his re-entering, and deliberately walked off, leaving the amazed and disappointed candidate for a halter, to reflect on the slippery trick that had just been played him."
The Laird's portrait is remarkably expressive of inoffensiveness and good nature, which was really his character. A strong evidence of these qualities was his extreme fondness for children. He also felt keenly when treated with becoming respect by older persons. It may hence be presumed that when not duly honoured he understood the slight also. Accordingly from this and other causes he entertained dislikes, but his method of exhibiting such feelings was harmless though witty. Having abandoned all hope of being hanged, he betook himself to the carving in wood, for which he had a talent, the heads of the persons who happened to have excited his displeasure or satire, and on other occasions the images of those for whom he entertained directly opposite feelings; "thus, amongst his collection, were those of the Pretender, and several of his most noted adherents." In the case of the persons whom he chose to ridicule, these little figures were done " in a style of the most ludicrous caricature." His productions he mounted on the end of a staff, which, as he walked along, he held up to view, having a new one every day, so that it was a usual thing to ask him, "Wha hae ye up the day, laird?" He was a great artist in tops, teatotums, and such-like goods, which he carried about and distributed liberally, as well as a patron of tobacco and snuff, which he was equally lavish of. No wonder then that he was a general favourite of young and old, or that he attracted the pencil of John Kay.
John Dhu was one of the Town-Guard, or armed police, of whom Walter Scott makes some mention in one of his novels. Though a fierce-looking man, and a terror to those who were unruly, he is said to have been really affectionate and obliging.
All that we have ever seen or read of Edinburgh goes to prove that, as regards idiots, (and what town is there that cannot point out some such spectacle ?) nowhere else have there ever been more picturesque and eccentric specimens; although it is well remarked in the Scottish Monthly Magazine's notice of the present publication, the beggars and idiots of the days when Kay flourished had an originality of character and an independence of demeanour, which has vanished beneath the influence of mendicity societies." One of the originals referred to was Jamie Duff.
He was the child of a poor widow who dwelt in the Cowgate, and was chiefly indebted for subsistence to the charity of those who were amused by his odd but harmless manners. This poor creature had a passion for
attending funerals, and no solemnity of that kind could take place in the city without being graced by his presence. He usually took his place in front of the saulies or ushers, or, if they were wanting, at the head of the ordinary company; thus forming a kind of practical burlesque upon the whole ceremony, the toleration of which it is now difficult to account for. To Jamie himself, it must be allowed, it was as serious a matter as to any of the parties more immediately concerned. He was most scrupulous both as to costume and countenance, never appearing without crape, cravat, and weepers, and a look of downcast woe in the highest degree edifying. It is true the weepers were but of paper, and the cravat, as well as the general attire, in no very fair condition. He had all the merit, nevertheless, of good intention, which he displayed more particularly on the occurrence of funerals of unusual dignity, by going previously to a most respectable hatter, and getting his hat newly tinctured with the dye of sorrow, and the crape arranged so as to hang a little lower down his back.
By keeping a sharp look-out after prospective funerals, Jamie succeeded in securing nearly all the enjoyment which the mortality of the city was capable of affording. It nevertheless chanced that one of some consequence escaped his vigilance. He was standing at the well drawing water, when, lo! a funeral procession, and a very stately one, appeared. What was to be done? He was wholly unprepared: he had neither crape nor weepers, and there was now no time to assume them; and moreover, worse than all this, he was encumbered with a pair of stoups!' It was a trying case; but Jamie's enthusiasm in the good cause overcome all difficulties. He stepped out, took his usual place in advance of the company, stoups and all, and, with one of these graceful appendages in each hand, moved on as chief usher of the procession. The funeral party did not proceed in the direction of any of the usual places of interment. It took quite a contrary direction. It left the town: this was odd! It held on its way: odder still! Mile after mile passed away, and still there was no appearance of a consummation. On and on the procession went, but Jamie, however surprised he might be at the unusual circumstance, manfully kept his post, and with indefatigable perseverance continued to lead on. In short, the procession never halted till it reached the sea-side at Queensferry, a distance of about nine miles, where the party composing it embarked, coffin and all, leaving the poor fool on the shore, gazing after them with a most ludicrous stare of disappointment and amazement. Such a thing had never occurred to him before in the whole course of his experience.
"Jamie's attendance at funerals, however, though unquestionably proceeding from a pure and disinterested passion for such ceremonies, was also a source of considerable emolument to him, as his spontaneous services were as regularly paid for as those of the hired officials; a douceur of a shilling, or half-a-crown being generally given on such occasions."
Jamie was not only a general appendage at funerals, but he assumed a civic dignity, adorning himself with a brass medal and chain, in imitation of the gold insignia worn by the city magistrates, and hence obtained the title of Bailie, which was cheerfully ac