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.