Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


Volume 9 Page 220
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164 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. and whose memory he held in the highest respect. But not relishing the profession of the law, even although its elements were to be imbibed from 80 respectable a source, he turned his attention to the Church ; and his family being of the Scottish Episcopalian persuasion, he was some time after admitted to orders, and appointed curate, first at Long Houghton, and next at Long Horseley, in Northumberland, a living worth about S30 a year. He appears also to have officiated for a short time as a chaplain of a regiment. From his connections, and particularly from his relationship to Mr. Fox, he had a fair prospect of advancement in the Church j and, in point of fact, a rectory was at an early period within his reach. But it is to be presumed that some pecuniary consideration was exacted as the condition of this preferment. On repairing to London to make the necessary arrangements, being required prior to induction to take the customary oaths, he declined, from conscientious motives, and afterwards retired into private life. For a long time after the death of his father, Dr. Turnbull's income from his estates was of limited amount ; but, being a man of frugal and economical habits, his expenditure never exceeded his means : and with reference to this period of his life, he used jocularly to say, that he always took care to keep five pounds between him and the devil. Until latterly, his usual place of residence was London, where he passed the greater part of his time, living among his respectable relations, except when he visited his friends in Scotland, which he generally did once a year. In the metropolis he had ample opportunities of mixing in the best society, and of making the acquaintance of persons of distinction or celebrity ; among the most noted of whom we may mention Prince Talleyrand and Mr. Munro, President of the United States of America. Although his family were non-jurors, and as such friendly to the exiled house of Stuart, Dr. Turnbull, at an early period of life, attached himself to the party and the political principles of Mr. Fox, for whom he entertained the highest admiration, and continued throughout life a steadfast and uncompromising friend to the. liberty and improvement of mankind. Among men who consider lukewarmness a proof of wisdom, Dr. Turnbull may have been thought a violent politician ; and he was undoubtedly a warm admirer of the American and French revolutions-of the former absolutely, and of the latter until it degenerated into anarchy and military despotism ; but benevolence formed the basis of his political creed, as well as of his personal character; and hence, although many dissented from his opinions, none that knew disliked the man. In Edinburgh, where he was well known, his circle of acquaintance was most extensive j and few persons who have moved in general society were ever held in greater esteem. Among his friends and acquaintances in Scotland were Lord Panmure and Mr. Ferqsson of Raith j and to both he was warmly attached. For the last fifteen years of his life,' Dr. Turnbull resided at Alnwick, near to where he had, in early life, officiated as curate. Till age and infirmity prevented him,
Volume 9 Page 221
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