Among the many amusing recollections of my father's life in London, there is one that I cannot resist narrating, because it shows his faculty of resourcefulness -- a faculty which served him very usefully during his course through life. He had made an engagement with a sweetheart to take her to Ranelagh, one of the most fashionable places of public amusement in London. Everybody went in full dress, and the bucks and swells wore long striped silk stockings. My father, on searching , found that he had only one pair of silk stockings left. He washed them himself in his lodging-room, and hung them up before the fire to dry. When he went to look at them, they were so singed and burnt that he could not put them on. They were totally useless. In this sad dilemma his resourcefulness came to his aid. The happy idea occurred to him of painting his legs so as to resemble stockings. He went to his water-colour box, and dexterously painted them with black and white stripes. When the paint dried, which it soon did, he completed his toilet, met his sweetheart and went to Ranelagh. No one observed the difference, except, indeed, that he was complimented on the perfection of the fit, and was asked "where he bought his stockings?" Of course he evaded the question, and left the gardens without any one discovering his artistic trick.

My father remained in Allan Ramsay's service until the end of 1778, when he returned to Edinburgh to practise on his own behalf the profession of portrait painter. He took with him the kindest good-wishes of his master, whose friendship he retained to the end of Ramsay's life. The artistic style of my father's portraits, and the excellent likenesses of his sitters, soon obtained for him ample employment. His portraits were for the most part full-lengths, but of a small or cabinet size. They generally consisted of family groups, with the figures about twelve to fourteen inches high. The groups were generally treated and arranged as if the personages were engaged in conversation with their children; and sometimes a favourite servant was introduced, so as to remove any formal aspect in the composition of the picture. In order to enliven the background, some favourite view from the garden or grounds, or a landscape, was given; which was painted with as much care as if it was the main feature of the picture. Many of these paintings are still to be found in the houses of the gentry in Scotland. Good examples of his art are to be seen at Minto House, the seat of the Earl of Minto, and at Dalmeny Park, the seat of the Earl of Rosebery.

Among my father's early employers was Patrick Miller, Esq., of Dalswinton, in Dumfriesshire. He painted Mr. Miller's portrait as well as those of several members of his family. This intercourse eventually led to the establishment of a very warm personal friendship between them. Miller had made a large fortune in Edinburgh as a banker; and after he had partially retired from business, he devoted much of his spare time to useful purposes. He was a man of great energy of character, and was never idle. At first he applied himself to the improvement of agriculture, which he did with great success on his estate of Dalswinton. Being one of the largest shareholders in the Carron Ironworks near Stirling, he also devoted much of his time to the improvement of guns for the Royal Navy. He was the inventor of that famous gun the Carronade. The handiness of these short and effective guns, which were capable of being loaded and fired nearly twice as quickly as the long small-bore guns, gave England the victory in many a naval battle, where the firing was close and quick, yardarm to yardarm.

But Mr. Miller's greatest claim to fame arises from his endeavours to introduce steam-power as an agent in the propulsion of ships at sea. Mr. Clerk of Eldin had already invented the system of "breaking the line" in naval engagements -- a system that was first practised with complete success by Lord Rodney in his engagement off Martinico in 1780. The subject interested Mr. Miller so much that he set himself to work to contrive some mechanical method by means of which ships of war might be set in motion, independently of wind, tide, or calms, so that Clerk's system of breaking the line might be carried into effect under all circumstances.

It was about this time that my father was often with Miller; and the mechanical devices by means of which the method of breaking the line could be best accomplished was the subject of many of their conversations. Miller found that my father's taste for mechanical contrivances, and his ready skill as a draughtsman, were likely to be of much use to him, and he constantly visited the studio. My father reduced Miller's ideas to a definite form, and prepared a series of drawings, which were afterwards engraved and published. Miller's favourite design was, to divide the vessel into twin or triple hulls, with paddles between them,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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