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Kay's Edinburgh Portraits
Dr. Glen, Edinburgh


Dr. Glen was a gentleman who enjoyed considerable celebrity in his day, at once for the amount of his wealth and the tenacity with which he held it. He had made a fortune abroad in the practice of his profession ; and, in his latter years, returned to his native country —not to enjoy it. He was twice married. On the second occasion he had attained the discreet age of seventy; and it is said that, amongst the other soft and captivating things which the venerable lover whispered into the ear of the young lady on whom his choice had fallen, to induce her to receive his addresses, was the promise of a carriage. To this promise the Doctor was faithful. The carriage was got—but no horses. "That's more than I bargained for," said the Doctor; "I promised a carriage, and there it is; but I promised no horses, neither shall yon have them." And here again the Doctor was as good as his word. The consequence was a quarrel with his young wife, aggravated by certain attempts, on her part, to revolutionize his house. The result may be anticipated—three weeks after the marriage a separation took place by mutual consent, the husband settling a sufficient aliment on his affectionate spouse.

There is another anecdote of the Doctor's happy talent for saving, but of so incredible and absurd a character, that, assured as we are of its truth, we have some hesitation in mentioning it. It is said that, on the death of his wife—the first, we presume—he adopted the ingenious expedient of attempting to procure a second-hand coffin to hold her remains, for lessening the funeral expenses on this melancholy occasion.

At a very advanced period of life, the Doctor was prevailed upon by a friend, but by what process of reasoning is not known, nor can be conjectured, to enter the society of Freemasons—a step which not a little surprised every one who knew him, or was aware of his penurious habits. How much was their surprise increased, when they found the Doctor entering, as he did, into all the spirit of the association, whether in its business or its pleasures, with an ardour and enthusiasm , unequalled by the youngest member! The Doctor became, in truth, in so far at least as the circumstance of his connection with the brethren was concerned, a totally changed man. He headed deputations, presided at lodges, and became, in short, the leading spirit of the fraternity. The members of the Lodge of St. Andrew's, to which he belonged, and which was at this juncture rather barren of funds, early saw, in the Doctor's new-born passion, a very pleasant and rational prospect of effecting an improvement in their exchequer. "Without loss of time they flattered the Doctor's vanity by electing him their Master, and ere long they succeeded in obtaining from him no less a sum, it is said, than one hundred pounds sterling.

The Doctor was a regular attendant at church, and always contributed to the plate. That his charity on such occasions might be duly appreciated hy those who were in attendance, instead of throwing in his halfpence in the usual careless way, he piled them up into one solid massive column of copper, and gently placing the pillar down, left it, a conspicuous monument of his benevolence.

One act of public spirit, however, does mark the Doctor's life, and if his motive in performing it, as was uncharitably reported at the time, was vanity, one cannot help being struck with the ingenuity which directed him on the occasion. He presented the governors of the Orphan Hospital with a bell! His fame was thus literally sounded throughout the city; yet, lest any should have been ignorant of the gift, he took care when in company, on hearing it ring, to advert to its fine tone, and thus lead the way to a narrative of his generosity.

Being once troubled with sore eyes, after in vain trying the prescriptions of several physicians, he applied to Dr. Graham, who cured him in a very short time, for which he expressed great gratitude. Wishing to make him some remuneration, he consulted some of the young members of the Faculty; and, as the most genteel way of doing what he wished, they recommended him to invite the Doctor and a few of his own friends to dinner in Fortune's (the most fashionable tavern at that time), and provide himself with a handsome purse, containing thirty guineas or so, and offer it to the Doctor, which they assured him he would not accept. They accordingly met, and after a few bottles of wine had been drunk, the old Doctor called Dr. Graham to the window, and offered him the purse, which he at once accepted, and, with a veiy low bow, thanked him kindly for it. The Doctor was so chagrined that he soon left the company, who continued till a pretty early hour enjoying themselves at his expense.

The father of Dr. Glen was a native of the west of Scotland, and had three sons, all of whom were prosperous in the world. One of these gentlemen was appointed governor of one of the West India Islands, where he amassed a large fortune, of which he left £80,000 to his niece, the daughter of the third brother, who ultimately succeeded to the reversion of the Doctor's property. This amiable lady was subsequently married to the late Earl of Dalhousie, father to the present noble Earl.

Dr. Glen enjoyed, by purchase, an annuity from the city of Edinburgh, of which he lived so long to reap the benefit, that the magistrates gave up all hopes of his ever dying at all, and began to consider him as one of the perpetual burdens of the city. He, however, died in 1786.


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