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Kay's Edinburgh Portraits
Lord Gardenstone, of the Court of Session


Mr. Francis Garden, judicially denominated Lord Gardenstone, was distinguished as a man of some talent and much eccentricity. Born in 1721, the second son of a Banffshire gentleman, he chose the profession of an advocate, and was admitted a member of Faculty upon the 14th of July, 1744. On the 3rd of July, 1764, he was raised to the Bench. He is here represented in the latter part of life, as he usually appeared in proceeding from his house at Morningside (the one next the Asylum), to attend his duties in the Court. Kay has endeavoured to represent him as, what he really was, a very timid horseman, mounted, moreover, on a jaded old hack, which he had selected for its want of spirit, preceded by his favourite dog Smash, and, followed by a Highland boy, whose duty it was to take charge of his Bosinante on arriving at the Parliament House.

In early life, Mr. Garden participated largely in the laxities of the times. He was one of those ancient heroes of the bar, who, after a night of hard drinking, without having been to bed, and without having studied their causes, would plead with great eloquence npon the mere strength of what they had picked up from the oratory of the opposite counsel. In 1745, being in arms as a loyal subject, he was despatched by Sir John Cope, with another gentleman, to reconnoitre the approach of the Highland army from Dunbar. As the two volunteers passed the bridge of Musselburgh, they recollected a house in that neighbourhood where they had often regaled themselves with oysters and sherry, and the opportunity of repeating the indulgence being too tempting to be resisted, they thought no more of their military duty till a straggling Highland recruit entered and took them both prisoners. John Roy Stuart made a motion to hang them as spies; but their drunkenness joined so effectually with their protestations in establishing their innocence, that they were soon after liberated on parole.

In his more mature years, Lord Gardenstone distinguished himself by a benevolent scheme of a somewhat unusual kind. Having, in 1762, purchased the estate of Johnstone, in Kincardineshire, he devoted himself for some years to the task of improving the condition of those who resided upon it. The village of Laurencekirk, then consisting of only a few houses, was taken under his especial patronage. He planned a new line of street, offered leases of small farms, and of ground for building on extremely advantageous terms, built a commodious inn for the reception of travellers, founded a library for the use of the villagers, and established manufactures of various kinds. By some of his operations he lost largely, but this did not in the least abate his philanthropy, or for a moment interrupt the career of his benevolence. The manufacture of a very elegant kind of snuff-box, the hinges of which are styled "invisible," such as those made in Cumnock, Ayrshire, is still carried on in the village to a considerable extent.

His lordship's labours in this good work were crowned with the success they merited. His village grew rapidly, and before his death had attained a degree of importance and prosperity that exceeded his most sanguine expectations. Of the delight which Lord Gardenstone took in this benevolent project, a singularly pleasing expression occurs in a letter which he addressed to the inhabitants of Laurencekirk. "I have tried," he says, "in some measure a variety of the pleasures which mankind pursue, but never relished anything so much as the pleasure arising from the progress of my village."

"In his lordship's anxiety to do everything in his power to invest his favourite village of Laurencekirk with attractions for strangers, he erected a handsome little building adjoining the inn as a museum, and filled it with fossils, rare shells, minerals, and other curiosities. Considering the facility of access, it is not surprising that these should from time to time disappear; not unfrequently the unsuspecting proprietor was imposed upon, by having his curiosities stolen, and sold over again to himself! In this building there was also kept an album, or commonplace book, in which visitors were invited to record whatever they thought fit, and, as might be expected, many of the entries were not of the choicest description. The apartment was likewise adorned by portraits of a number of the favourite original inhabitants of the village. The inn itself was kept by a favourite servant of his lordship's, who rejoiced in the refreshing patronymic of " Cream," a kind-hearted aud worthy man.

In the year 17S5, his lordship succeeded, by the death of his elder brother, Alexander Garden of Troup, to the possession of the family estates, which were considerable. His acquisition of this additional wealth, was marked by another circumstance, which strikingly evinces the natural generosity of his disposition. He remitted to the tenants all the debts due to him as heir to his brother.

On his accession to the family property, his lordship set out on a lour to the Continent, where he remained three years, traversing iu this time great part of France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy. The results of his observations during this tour (which was made in part with the view of gratifying curiosity, but chiefly with that of improving his health, which was much impaired), he gave to the world in two volumes, entitled, " Travelling Memorandums made in a Tour upon the Continent of Europe in the year 1792." A third volume of this work was published after his death. About the same time he published "Miscellanies in Prose and Verse," a collection of light fugitive pieces, partly of his own composition, and partly of others, the boon companions of his youth. The best of these, however, are attributed to Lord Gardenstone himself.

Among the eccentricities of Lord Gardenstone, was an attachment to the generation of pigs. He had reared one of these animals with so much affectionate care, that it followed him wherever he went like a dog. "While it was little, he allowed it even to share his bed during the night. As it grew up, however, which no doubt it would do rapidly under such patronage, this was found inconvenient; and it was discarded from the bed, but permitted still to sleep in the apartment, where his lordship accommodated it with a couch composed of his own clothes, which he said kept it in a state of comfortable warmth.

His lordship consumed immense quantities of snuff; requiring such a copious supply, that he carried it in a leathern waistcoat-pocket made for the purpose, and used to say that if he had a dozen noses he would give them all snuff. His use of this article was so liberal, that every fold in his waistcoat was filled with it; and it is said that from these repositories the villagers, when conversing with him, frequently helped themselves, without his knowledge, to a pinch.

In his dress his lordship was exceedingly plain, a circumstance which gave rise to an incident highly characteristic of him, which occurred at one time when he was returning from London.

Observing some young bucks taking inside tickets for the coach in which he was about to travel, he took his for the outside. On arriving at the end of the stage, where the passengers were to breakfast, his lordship, who had been shown into an inferior room, while his better-dressed fellow-travellers were conducted to the best, called the waiter, and desired him to carry his compliments to the young gentlemen, on whose philanthropy it was his object to make an experiment, and to request that they would permit him to have the honour of breakfasting with them. To this message precisely such an answer was returned as his lordship expected. It was that the gentlemen above stairs kept no company with outside passengers. Lord Garden stone made no reply, but desired the waiter to bring him a magnum bonum of claret, and to send the landlord to share it with him, concluding with an order to get a post-chaise and four ready for him immediately. These commands, which very much amazed both mine host and his man, having been in dne time complied with, his lordship paid his bill and departed, giving orders previously to his coachman so to manage as to arrive at the stage where his former fellow-travellers would dine, precisely at the same time with them, that they might witness the respect which should be paid to him by the landlord, to whom he was known. All this the young bucks accordingly saw, and having set on foot some inquiries on the subject, they soon discovered their mistake. With the view of atoning for their incivility, they now sent a polite card to Lord Gardenstone, begging his pardon for what had happened in the morning, which they attributed to their ignorance of his quality, and requesting it, as a particular favour, that he would honour them with his company to dinner. To this polite card his lordship returned a verbal answer, that "he kept no company with people whose pride would not permit them to use their fellow travellers with civility."

The latter years of this amiable man's life were spent in the discharge of the duties of his office of a judge ; and the very last act of his public beneficence was the erection of the ornamental building that encloses St. Bernard's Well, in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh.

His lordship died at Morningside, near Edinburgh, on the 22nd of July, 1793, in the 72nd year of his age.


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