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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
A Glasgow manufacturer's benevolent diplomacy

ROBERT, or Robin Carrick, who went as a boy to, and rose to be manager and cashier of the Ship Bank of Glasgow, (afterwards merged into the Union Bank of Scotland), had the reputation of being a close-fisted old screw.

A good story is told of how he was sweated on one occasion for the benefit of the Royal Infirmary.

Two or three respectable citizens collecting subscriptions for that benevolent institution, knowing Mr. Carrick’s great wealth, honoured him with their first call, expecting their list to be headed with a good round sum, which would have a good effect on those who were called on afterwards. To their surprise and mortification, Robin simply put down his name for two guineas. There next call was on old Mr. John M’Illquham, manufacturer, who on seeing the list so headed, exclaimed:

"Bless me! has Mr. Carrick only given you twa guineas for such a benevolent purpose?"

"No more," was the reply, "he said he could not afford to give any more."

"What’s that you say?" said the manufacturer; "bide a wee," and so saying, he rose from his stool and bade his faithful cash-keeper and confidant, Mr. Davidson, afterwards of Ruchill, to go with a cheque for £10,000 or more, the amount at his credit in the Ship Bank. When the cheque was presented for payment, Robin the banker stared and looked quite dumfoundered

"Go back," said he, "young man, to Mr. M’Illquham with my compliments, and tell him he has surely committed some mistake." Mr. Davidson returned with the message, but was sent back to demand payment in the most peremptory manner. The niggardly banker on this became rather shaky, and thought it best to go and have a personal interview with the manufacturer. Upon entering he said to his customer:

"What’s wrong wi’ ye the day, Mr. M’Illquham?" to which the instant reply was:

"Nothing in the least wrong wi’ me, praise be blessed! but I fear there’s something very far wrong wi’ you and your bank, for my friends here have just assured me that you could only afford twa guines in aid of the worthy charity they represent, and so I thought it high time to shift my money to some safer quarter."

This led to the desired result, as Robin, although with great reluctance, put down his name for fifty guineas; whereon Mr. M’Illquham cancelled his cheque, and the deputation from the Royal Infirmary went off perfectly delighted.

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