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Provost Drummond

Anecdotes Home

About the middle of last century, George Drummond was
provost or chief magistrate of Edinburgh, and renowned for his humane
disposition. He was one day coming into the town by the suburb called the
West Port, when he saw a funeral procession leaving the door of a humble
dwelling, and setting out for the churchyard. The only persons composing
the funeral company were four poor-looking old men, seemingly common
beggars, one at each end of a pole carrying the coffin, and none to relieve
them; there was not a single attendant. The provost at once saw that it
must be a beggar's funeral, and he went forward to the old men, saying to
them, "Since this poor creature now deceased has no friends to follow his
remains to the grave, I will perform that melancholy office myself." He
then took his place at the head of the coffin. They had not gone far, till
they met two gentlemen who were acquainted with the provost, and they asked
him what he was doing there. He told them that he was going to the
interment of a poor friendless mendicant, as there were none else to do it;
so they turned and accompanied him. Others joined in the same manner, and
at last there was a respectable company at the grave. "Now," said the
kind-hearted provost, "I will lay the old man's head in the grave," which
he accordingly did, and afterwards saw the burial completed in a decent
manner. When the solemnity was over, he asked if the deceased had left a
wife or family, and learned that he had left a wife, an old woman, in a
state of perfect destitution. "Well, then, gentlemen," said the provost,
addressing those around him, "we met in rather a singular manner, and we
cannot part without doing something creditable for the benefit of the
helpless widow; let each give a trifle, and I will take it upon me to see
it administered to the best advantage." All immediately contributed some
money, which made up a respectable sum, and was afterwards given in a
fitting way to the poor woman; the provost also afterwards placed her in an
industrious occupation, by which she was able to support herself without
depending on public relief.

Sir Philip Sidney was a gallant soldier, a poet, and the most accomplished
gentleman of his time. At the battle of Zutphen, in the Netherlands, after
having two horses killed under him, he received a wound while in the act of
mounting a third, and was carried bleeding, faint, and thirsty to the camp.
A small quantity of water was brought to allay the thirst of Sir Philip;
but as he was raising it to his lips, he observed that a poor wounded
soldier, who was carried past at the moment, looked at the cup with wistful
eyes. The generous Sidney instantly withdrew it untasted from his mouth,
and gave it to the soldier, saying, "Thy necessity is yet greater than
mine." He died of his wound, aged only thirty-three; but his kindness to
the poor soldier has caused his name to be remembered ever since with
admiration, and it will probably never be forgotten while humane and
generous actions are appreciated among men.

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