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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
The Earl of Errol and the Principal of Glasgow University

WHEN the late Earl of Errol, was the Commissioner to the General Assembly, the University of Glasgow thought fit to send an address of congratulation to his lordship on his having obtained so high an office. Their envoy was their Principal, an eminent divine, who had been well used to assemblies and commissioners for more than half a century. On this occasion, however, his long experience seems to have been of little use to him, for he committed a sad blunder in the mode of delivering his address, or rather by pouring forth his oratory at the wrong shrine.

The gorgeous array of bailies, it is to be supposed, caught his eye on first entering the presence-room, and dazzled it so much that it would have required some time for him to recover his power of discrimination. Of this gorgeous array the centre star was one Bailie Anderson, powdered with a particular display of splendour; and the Principal, never doubting that he was the Commissioner, stepped close to him, and rolled out the well-poised periods of his address with an air of unquestioning submission that quite convulsed the whole of those who were up to the joke.

The bailie himself, however, was too much thunderstruck to be able to stop him, and the true dignitary enjoyed the humour of the thing too much to deprive his double of any part of the compliment. In a word, it was not till the doctor had made an end of speaking, and stood in smiling anticipation of his grace’s reply, that some kind friend whispered to him he was in the wrong box, and had made a mistake in identity. The Principal then looked around and saw in an opposite position a personage, not indeed so fat, and perhaps not quite so fine looking as his bailie, but possessing a native grace and majesty of port and lineament which spoke but too plainly where the incense should have been offered.

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