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Kay's Originals Vol. 2

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106 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. contriver, after much waste of time and money, in 1785, obtained an Act of Parliament securing the patent of his invention to him and his heirs for twenty years. In the meantime, the idea of sheathing the bottom of vessels with copper beginning to be entertained, and a hint of the intention of Government having been privately communicated to Mr. Forbest he immediately speculated in the purchase of that article to ail immense extent. A great demand almost immediately followed, the Admiralty having resolved, instead of using the coal-tar of Lord Dundonald, to have the ships of the line sheathed with copper. In consequence of this, Mr. Forbes not only reaped the benefit of greatly increased prices, but was almost the only one able to undertake the orders of Government. Another unforeseen circumstance tended still farther to increase his good fortune. The copper having been fastened with iron nails, a speedy corrosion was the result ; and the whole expensive experiments being hurriedly abandoned, Mr. Forbes is understood to have purchased the copper, which he had previously furnished, for one farthing per Ib.! Soon after this, nails of the sitme material having been suggested, the project was resumed with greater energy than before. The workmen in the dockyards at first refused to go on, alleging that such nails would not drive ; but, by a little finesse and a liberal supply of porter, RSr. Forbes got over all difficulties, and ultimately obtained the exclusive right of coppering the royal navy and the East India Company's ships for twenty years. At this period the domestic establishment of Mr. Forbes was limited to one private room; and he is said to have frankly admitted, before the committee, that his cash did not exceed &1600! His securities, however, one of whom was his good friend Admiral Byron, were unexceptionable. Having realised a handsome fortune, Mr. Forbes began to look about him for an eligible landed investment; and by the sale of the Callendar estates, about 17 86, a favourable opportunity presented itself. This property, forfeited in 1715, was in the hands of the York Buildings Company, and let to the Earl of Errol, for the annual rent, we believe, of $870. Here the Earl of Kilmarnock resided till the fatal crisis of 174La His lady, who was a daughter of the His discovery, however, wailed him 'notEiing.1 Lord Dundonald was a most unfortunate speculator. The coal-tar, instead of enriching, completely ruined him ; and he was compelled to part with his estates, including Culross Abbey, which was bought by the late Sir Robert Preston. At one period he was offered, by an English company, an annuity of between tive and six thousand a year to surrender his patent to them ; but, unluckily for himself, he rejected the offer. communicated the information; and not only tendered him his advice, but enabled him in an effectual manner to complete his extensive purchases, On the testimony of one of the domestics, it is recorded that on the 17th of January 1746 (the day on which the battle of Falkirk waa fought), General Hawley was entertained at dinner by the Earl and Countess of Kilmarnock ; and that the Earl, leaving the dining-room on some slight excuse, put on hiu military dress, and mounting his horse, left the Conntess to do the honours of the table. The female upon whose authority this circumstance is related described the panic which seized her, when she saw the Earl put on his waistcoat of bull's hide, and grasp his sword. He left Callendar wood by the white yett, whence a gallop of a few hundred yards placed him on the field of battle. * Admiral Byron, who happened to be one of his employers, is Aaid to have been the person who ,
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