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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
William Dunn's conquest over the greatest enemy


WILLIAM DUNN of Duntocher had an excessive liking for law pleas, and consequently he was constantly in the Court of Session with his neighbours, particularly the late Lord Blantyre and Mr. Hamilton of Cochno, either about some mill-dam or other, or the straightening of some march dyke, or the breadth and purity of some flowing water from the Cochno Glen at or near the possessions of Duntocher. He threw both of these gentlemen into great expense, some alleged, about the merest trifles; and he had this peculiar feature about him, that while he was strict and parsimonious in regard to many other matters, he was exceeding liberal to every one of his many law agents, and paid them every plack and penny of their accounts, whenever rendered, without the least grudge.

He made the rather sensible remark on this score, that if a man wanted to be successful in his law plea, even though it should run down his opponent, it was best to keep the wheels of the agent well greased for the work. Late in life he was laid up in his Glasgow house in St. Vincent Street, for the first time, by severe indisposition, and his life was despaired of. More than one or two ministers of the city paid the most marked attention to him in their oft repeated visits. We shall not upbraid them by any personal application of the text, that—Where the carcase is, there the eagles fly.

But one fine morning, when in bed, Mr. Dunn received an agreeable letter from his law agents, informing him that he had gained one of his cases with Lord Blantyre. So, when one of the clergymen in a few minutes afterwards entered the bedroom of the sick man, the latter stretched forth his hands to him, and said:

"Come away, reverend sir, I am glad to see you, for I have conquered my greatest enemy!"

The clergyman concluded that he had conquered the prince of the power of the air! as the arch-enemy of mankind is designated by the apostle; and he put up a suitable prayer in consequence.

On going forth, the divine met a civilian friend of Mr. Dunn, and in the fulness of his heart told what a blessed and happy state of mind he had just left Mr. Dunn in, as he was now quite prepared for his great approaching change, and had stated exultingly, that he had "at last conquered his greatest enemy."

"His greatest enemy!" quoth the civilian. "He has conquered Lord Blantyre and the Duntocher dam."

An interpretation of the words which opened the eyes of the clergyman to the true state of the matter, and caused him to depart a sadder, and in this particular at least, "a wiser man."


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