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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Mr. David Dale's grand dinner under difficulties


THIS celebrity of old Glasgow, who was yarn merchant, cotton spinner, banker, and pastor to "The Old Independent" congregation, had his city residence in Charlotte Street, and to it he had invited a large party of wealthy guests to dinner on the 18th day of November, 1795.

Among those expected were William Simpson, cashier of the Royal Bank; Gilbert Innes of Stowe, the great millionaire; and the whole posse of the Royal Bank Directory from Edinburgh to meet with Scott Moncrieff, George MacIntosh, and other Glasgow magnates. On the morning of that important and memorable day, all was bustle and hurry-burry in preparation for the sumptuous feast.

All went on as well as could be wished until near the appointed hour; when lo! the waters of the Clyde began to ooze slowly but surely through the chinks of the kitchen floor, and ere long the servants were wading about with the water above their ankles. At length the Monkland Canal burst its banks, and like a mighty avalanche the waters came thundering down by the Molendinar Burn, carrying all before it, and filling the low-lying districts of the city in Gallowgate, Saltmarket, Bridgegate, and under portions of St. Andrew’s Square with a muddy stream. The Camlachie Burn also, which ran close by Mr. Dale’s house, rose to an unusual height, and burst with a fearful crash into Mr. Dale’s kitchen, putting out all the fires, and forcing the servants to run for their lives.

Then came the question—What could or should be done in this unhappy dilemma? The dinner hour was fast approaching, and the invited guests would soon be there! In this distressing predicament, Mr. Dale applied to his opposite neighbour, William Wardlaw, Esq. (father of Rev. Dr. Ralph Wardla*), and to Mr. Archibald Patterson, another neighbour, for the loan of their respective kitchens, both of whom not only granted the use of their kitchens, but also the help of their servants. But here the further question arose—-How were the wines, spirits, and ales to be got from the cellar, which now stood four feet deep in water?

After some cogitation, a porter was hired, and, being suitably attired for the occasion, he received instructions to go down into the deep and bring up the drinkables required. Here again another problem had now to be met and solved—How was the porter to distinguish the respective bins of port, sherry, and Madeira from those of the rum, brandy, porter, and ale? This difficulty was got over by Miss Dale then sixteen years of age, perching on the porter’s back and acting as his spiritual guide and director. After he received his instructions, the porter returned with his fair burden to the lobby of the house; and then went back for the various liquors, which he brought up and delivered to Mr. Dale in good order and condition.

All things then went on in a satisfactory manner. The dinner was cooked, placed on the table, and served in the best style, to the great gratification of the Edinburgh visitors and Glasgow magnates, who passed the evening with much mirth and hilarity, which received fresh zest from the peculiar and unforeseen circumstances which had arisen.


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