B I0 GRAP HI C AL SKETCHES. 239 hands clasped ; tattered clothes ; and with expressive countenance bemoaning his forlorn and miserable situation ! This picture, when finished, reflected high honour on the painter, being much admired. It was sent to the Royal Exhibition in London, where it was also highly esteemed, and there purchased by a gentleman of taste and fortune at a considerable price. I have often expressed a wish to see a print from it, but never had that pleasure ; as it exhibited a portrait of my favourite bard, which, for likeness, colouring, and expression, might have done honour to the taste and pencil of Sir Joshua Reynolds.” In the Prodigal’s Return, however- another picture by Runciman-the likeness of the poet, though in a different attitude, is said to have been strictly adhered to. From this picture an engraving was prefixed to an edition of Fergusson’s Poems, published in 1821, with Preface and Life of the Author, by James Gray, then of the High School, Edinburgh. . Although the Life of Fergusson is almost the only production for which Mr. Sommers is known, his time was much occupied by literary pursuits ; and it is probable that the gratification of his taste in this way was inimical to the due prosecution of business. After giving up his shop in the Parliament Square, lie resided for some years in the land known by the name of the ‘‘ Clamshell Turnpike ;” and latterly in the Advocate’s Close. From the following draught of a letter in his own handwriting (found among his papers), some idea may be formed of the circumstances in which he was then placed, and the cause to which he attributed his want of success in trade. The paper is addressed to the Hon. Henry Erskine, who, during the brief administration of “ All the Talents,” held the office of Lord Advocate of Scotland :- This painting is now lost or unattainable. “MY LoRD,-Mthough I approach your lordship with some diffidence, yet it is at the same time mixed with a degree of confidence, while I humbly call on you to listen to the following short detail of facts. “In the year 1776 I was a member of the Council of Edinburgh-a period singularly marked for political bustle and contention, respecting the City’s then worthy representative in Parliament, Sir Laurence Dundas. I was one of his friends, and suffered much by the combined interest of the Duke of Buccleuch and the House of Arniston. Sir Laurence, however, justly prevailed in the contest, but soon after died ; previous to which he procured for me the appointment of His Majesty’s Glazier for Scotland ; but as Mr. Henry Dundas and his friends came into the political management of the city, my interest failed ; and to this day, now thirty years, no pecuniary advantage whatever has arisen to me from that commission (which I still hold), not even so much as to the value of the 05cial expenses in obtaining it ! My worthy friend, Lord Dundas, is well acquainted with these circumstances, to whom I wrote, upon the late change of administration, soliciting his lordship’s interest in a small Crown appointment, independent of the influence or control of the Town Council. I have not, however, been honoured with a return from his lordship, which may probably be owing to his attention having been engaged in business of higher importance. ‘‘My Lord, I am now sixty-four years of age ; notwithstanding of which, 1 have, from an attachment to my country, been a Field-Sergeant in the battalion (late Spearmen) of Edinburgh Volunteers, now commanded by my worthy friend, William Inglis, Esq., and in which corps, I hope I have, since it was first embodied at the instance of the trades, been a constant and active member. Although my age and state of health prevent me from being fit for active business The engraving was shown to t.he late Robert Pitcairn, Esq., Keeper of the Register of Probative Writs, who was well acquainted with Fegusson, but he could trace uo resemblance to the Poet.
240 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. as a glazier ; yet, if your lordship’s merited influence, in concert with that of my valuable friend Lord Dundas, would procure for me a renewal of my commission, connecting with me in said commission, an active and prospering young man, a freeman glazier of this city, it would prove the happy means of placing me in a situation truly comfortable in my advanced age, and tend not only to atone for past neglect, but soothe and render the closing scene of life tranquil and serene ! “ MY LORD, Your lordship favouring me with an answer will be highly esteemed by, “Edidurgh, 21st Feb. 1807. ‘‘Right Hon. HENRYE ESKINEM, .P. “ Your lordship’s truly devoted and very humble Servant, “T. S.” “ Lord Advocate of Scotland, LONDON.” Nothing beneficial appears to have resulted from this memorial, if indeed it ever was presented. Mr. Sommers latterly obtained a situation connected with the Convention of Royal Burghs, for which he had a salary of $40 a year. This small sum was his chief dependence. He was also Clerk to the Incorporation of Fleshers, for which he had a trifling allowance; and much of his time was occupied in drawing up petitions, and otherwise assisting those who sought the aid of his pen. Having no children, though twice married, his domestic establishment was limited ; and to the last he maintained a degree of respectability in his appearance. He always dressed in black ; and when his own hair failed, wore a neatly tied and powdered wig. His house in the Advocate’s Close contained a small apartment, lighted from above, where, even in advanced age, he used to sit for days together, occupied in some literary project-a species of amusement he has been often heard to declare essential to his happiness. He contemplated several extensive works. The last of these was a History of the Improvements of Edinburgh. Proposals for this work-of which the following is a copy-were issued in 18 16 :- “ Soon will be published, in one. Yolume Octavo, in hoards, Price 7s. THE RIGHT HON. WILLIAM SRBUTHNOT, LORD PROVOST, MAGISTRATES, AND COUNCIL, DEDICATED TO A RETROSPECT OF THE PUBLIC BUILDINGS, AND THE OTHER EXTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS, OF THE CITY OF EDINBURGH, From the 14th of Scptentber 1753, to the 9th July 1816, inclusive; SIXTY-THREE YEARS PERSONAL OBSERVATION : RELIGIOUS, MORAL, AND POLITICAL CHARACTER OF ITS INHABITANTS ; A VIEW OF THEIR MANNERS DURING THAT PERIOD. ADDRESS TO THE CITIZENS AT LARGE. THOMAS SOMMERS, Bwrgess ami Fretmum of Edinburgh, and dIis Maje-sty78 Glmier for Xcotland.” BEING THE RESULT OF WITE OCCASIOKAL REMARKS, NOT ONLY ON THESE IMPROVEMENTS, BUT ON THE AND CONCLUDING WITH A WARM, SEASONABLE, ARD AFFECTIONATE BY