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A History of our Firm
Chapter XVI - Retrospective and Discursive
Instances of Long Service


SECTION V—INSTANCES OF LONG SERVICE

The firms had more instances of long service than I can call to mind. Mr. Daniel Carmichael entered the Glasgow office in 1817, and only retired therefrom in 1870. Most precise and pedantic of book-keepers, he might have been Dickens' study of Tim Linkinwater. Once he returned our Account- Current, at a cost of 4d, for an alleged error of id in interest calculation, thereby earning a severe rap over the knuckles. He aspired to partnership. The following copy of one of his letters would, I doubt, not aid him thereto. Note the fourth paragraph

'GLASGOW, 15 July, 1847.

DEAR SIR,— The reason of my absence from the countinghouse this day is to commemorate in private at my own house, the thirtieth year of my anniversary in your highly respectable establishment; an event which few at my age can boast of.

And when I think of the many eventful changes that have taken place in the circle of my friends and acquaintances during that long period of time it is eminently calculated to impress my mind with feelings of deepest responsibility as to the improvement I have myself made towards my everlasting rest.

For fifteen months past I have really had much to harass and perplex my mind, and I have painfully experienced in no ordinary degree the shallow friendships of the world during that time; but I hope in after years, if spared, to overcome the load of anxiety and vexation which, to a certain extent, still haunt my mind.

I am happy at the same time to remark that I never had the business brought up to a higher standard of perfection than it is at present, and it is only those who have beer similarly occupied can form a correct idea of the magnitude of transactions that pass through my hands, and perhaps my labours will not be adequately appreciated till my body is mouldering in the silent grave—"Where the weary be at rest."

Allow me to tender to you, Sir, and to the Messrs. Pollok my grateful acknowledgments for your kind consideration of my many deficiencies and wishing you all every comfort and happiness.

I am, Dear Sir,
Yours respectfully,
(Signed) DANIEL CARMICHAEL.
ALLAN GILMOUR, ESQ.'

His writing was that which used to be termed 'copper-plate,' and was, what astonishes me, accompanied by many flourishes.

There was Mr. John McAlister, who joined the Bathurst staff about 1846, who followed Francis Ferguson to St. John in 1856, and there remained till R. R. & Co. closed in 1876. He was, until the time of his death, in correspondence with the firm.

Mr. Charles Hill entered R., G. & Co.'s office in 1847 and practically retired in 1907. I say practically retired, for he continued to hold our per procuration, and to favour us with frequent visits and his services whenever required.

In his letter resigning he writes, under date 14 February, 1907:-

'I find my ill-health increasing—indeed, for all useful purposes of the business I am physically a wreck, though I have striven more and more to keep up appearances. My sleeplessness has been very deteriorating, violent headaches occurring at more frequent intervals. My memory from such cause, I suppose, is seriously affected the past two months, and any dose concentrated effort at work brings on what the doctor calls brain pressure and throbbing head.

'All this brings home to me the necessity of resigning my post in your service in order that for a year or two (probably all it will run to) I may obtain perfect rest, and dwell in the open air, free from any care.

'I am the last remnant of the "Old Guard," so to speak—am seventy-five years old, and have been sixty years in the service. My life's work, such as it has been, has been at No. 67, and even with your ever-ready sympathy and consideration, the breaking of that routine of my life will be a severe wrench, though I would like to have leave to come in and out the office occasionally to keep up an interest in things there.

'I write because I know I should break down if I attempted the task verbally. As you may imagine, the excitement and worry of dwelling on this, and gradually being forced to the only sane conclusion which I have come to, has been great, and when all is over it will be a great relief to me. Grateful I am for the firm's many past kindnesses.'

A pathetic letter!

His father had occupied the position of book keeper 1844-1860, and his grandson, Allan Young, now has held it for some years. During all these sixty years he made the interests of the firm his own; it is a fine record of fidelity and esprit de corps. In such long-continued relations as have existed between Mr. Hill and the firm both sides have the most legitimate ground for pride; for there is something in them that fat transcends the mere 'cash tie,' which is supposed to hold commercial men together.

Mr. Hill died 6 August, 1908. He was with us at the office the previous evening, and by the same hour next morning he had quietly passed away in his sleep. I believe he would have wished it so, and that his last steps were from the office to his home as they were.

Short in his temper always, and combative of disposition, he could upon slight grounds make himself extremely disagreeable to many, but to anyone who was down or in trouble Charles Hill would at once rally to his side, for he was in reality a most kind-hearted man. He gave devoted service and his best abilities to the firm with unflinching loyalty. From a sheet of foolscap which he treasured, and that has seen many years, I have in another place (Appendix IX) copied and appended some records.

Among the captains, of whom I have written elsewhere, Captains McArthur, Mitchell, Watson, Lawson, Crawford, Walker, Wyles, Davey, McPherson and Fitzgerald survived in, or were of, my own time; all had over forty years' service to their record, and now all gone before. I would mention, too, our strong man, boatswain O'Brien, who as a youngster stowed away in the La Plata about 1867. He was then so thin that, lying prone on the seat of an upturned boat, he had no difficulty in secreting himself. He did not afterwards leave the service, but died a few years ago at New York on the St. Bede. A parallel instance was that of Thos. Dingwall, for 46 years steward on one of the wooden ships, the Adept.


 


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