vol II date / index
St. Ischyrion, A. D. 253. Sts. Cyril and Methodius, A. D. 881.
Clark, the Miser of Dundee.
On the 22d of December, 1817, died, at Dundee, aged sixty-six, Thomas Clark, a labouring man, who, by dint of parsimony and saving, had accumulated property to the amount of from 800l. to 1000l. before his death. There are perhaps few authenticated instances of endurance which this person did not voluntarily submit to, in order to gratify his ruling passion. He lived by himself, in a small garret, in a filthy lane, called Tyndal's Wynd. His diet consisted of a little oatmeal, stirred into hot water, which he begged from some one or other of the neighbours every morning, to save the expense of fuel. For many years he had laboured under a painful disorder, but would not put himself under the care of a surgeon, fearful of the cost. Driven at last to desperation by the intenseness of his sufferings, about twelve months previous to his decease, he sent for Mr. Crichton, who found him lying, in the most inclement season of the year, barely covered by an old tattered blanket. The furniture of the apartment consisted of about a dozen pair of old shoes, some old tattered clothes, a plough-share, a wooden dish, and horn spoon, a pair of scales and weights, a tub for holding meal, and an old crazy chair. Clark's disorder having been ascertained to be stone in the bladder, he was told that a surgical operation would be necessary for his relief. This he expressed the utmost willingness to undergo; but when informed it would also be necessary to have him removed to a comfortable room, &c. his heart died within him, and he said he must continue as he was, until death relieved him. In vain was he told that every thing needful would be provided. He still persevered in his determination. Leaving a trifle with him to procure necessaries, Mr. Crichton descended from the garret, and made inquiry of the neighbours concerning this miserable object; from whom he received the account narrated. Possessed of this information he returned and rated the wretch for his miserable disposition; but all that could be obtained, was a promise to procure some bed-clothes, and to allow the operation to be performed in a room belonging to one of the neighbours, and immediately to be hoisted back to his own roost. The first morning after the operation he was found quarreling and abusing the old woman left in charge of him, for her extravagance in making use of soap to wash the cloths that were occasionally taken from under him; and he expressed great exultation when she was given to understand that soap was not absolutely necessary for the purpose. A dose of castor oil that had been prescribed for him, he would not allow to be sent for; but in its place swallowed a piece of soap, which, he said, would equally answer the purpose, and at much less cost. The cure going on well, he was ordered some beef tea. The parting with threepence every morning to purchase half a pound of meat, was perfect torture, and recollecting a piece of old rusty bacon, when he had formerly picked up somewhere in his travels, he tried the expedient of converting part of it into beef tea, and drank it with seeming relish. Next morning, however, the old woman, alarmed for the consequences, insisted peremptorily for money to purchase fresh meat, at the same time acquainting him that a supply of coals was necessary. "The coals consumed already! Impossible! They should have served him for the winter! She must have carried off some of them! Threepence for meat and eighteen-pence for coals! It's ruination! She must pack off immediately! But before she goes she must account for the two shillings received on the day of the operation!" The poor woman being somewhat confused could not bring to her recollection the disposal of more than 1s. 10d. It was then perfectly plain she was robbing his room, and ruining him by her extravagance, and she must go to prison! The garret was filled with the neighbours, alarmed by his noisy vociferation; and nothing they could say having pacified him, they sent for Mr. Crichton, who thought it might be a wise plan to leave him alone, and let him manage and feed himself in his own way. By the help of a good constitution, he soon recovered his health, but never could forget the expenses he had been put to during his confinement. The failure also of some people holding money of his in their hands, tended much to embitter the remainder of his life: and he was often observed lamenting his misfortunes; frequently saying aloud, "all bankrupts should be hanged!" There would be no end to the detail of this miserable creature's miserable eccentricities. On a bitter cold day, he went into one of the neighbour's rooms to warm himself, before ascending to his comfortless loft. The next morning he was found almost stiff with cold, and unable to move—the bed clothes, which he had been made to provide himself with the year before, were lying folded up in a corner; he had not the heart to use them. On Sunday he lost the use of his faculties; and on Monday he breathed his last. His only surviving sister, a poor old woman, living somewhere in Strathmore, inherited his property.
Pellucid Heath. Erica pellucida.
Dedicated to St. Cyril.