MR. FALCONER, partner of the firm of
Monteith & Falconer, and afterwards of the distinguished firm of Dalglish,
Falconer, & Co., was asked by his enterprising senior partner, Mr.
Monteith, during the French Revolutionary War, about 1805, to go over to
Germany, in order to extend the connections of the firm in that country.
Mr. Falconer, who had a knowledge of
the French language, and a smattering of the German, accordingly proceeded
to Holland, with the intention of getting into Germany by the most
favourable route he could find. But when he arrived in Holland, he found
it under the control of France, and that for entire safety he would
require to take a northern course, or risk a shorter route by the banks of
the Rhine. Mr. Falconer courageously chose the latter course; but he had
not gone far on his way when he was arrested by a French patrol under the
suspicion of being an English spy.
Mr. Falconer was at once taken to
the headquarters of the French General commanding in that part of the
country, to be interrogated as to who and what he was, and also as to his
object in travelling through the district in question during a time of
The General cross-questioned Mr.
Falconer with reference to his business, local places and persons, and in
reply, Mr. Falconer named Mr. David Dale and other well-known Glasgow
The General, interrupting him in his
course of enumeration, exclaimed:
"He’ bien! he’ bien!" And then with
a smile upon his countenance, and to the no small astonishment of Mr.
Falconer, said, in good broad Scotch:
"But, my fren’, do you ken auld
James Monteith o’ Anderston?"
Mr. Falconer, though thus taken by
surprise, answered the General in his own sprightly style, by saying:
"Ou ay, General, I ken him brawly,
for he’s my am pairtner’s faither."
The General, after a hearty laugh,
then spoke to Mr. Falconer in fluent English, and informed him that he had
spent three years of his life in Glasgow as a student at the University,
and was well acquainted with Mr. James Monteith, from whom he had received
much kindness and hospitality.
After making kindly inquiries
regarding Mr. Monteith, his family, and other old Glasgow friends, Marshal
Mortier, with a hearty shake of the hand, permitted Mr. Falconer to pass
on his way without further trouble.