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ringer more punctual; for more than half a century Tom was at his post three times a day, without, we believe, a single omission, at the very minute required, whether the clock pointed right or no. The coldest morning, or the darkest night in winter, foul or fair, sunshine or storm, were all one to Tom, and though sluggards might excuse themselves on the score of the weather, his noisy clapper never failed to remind them that there was, at least, one man in the town up and at his duty. Indeed, such was his punctuality, that he was never known to commit a mistake except once, by ringing the bell at elever, instead of ten at night. A friend calculated, that he had rung the bell more than one hundred thousand times. The lapse of sixty years produces many changes on men and things, and it may be mentioned as a curious proof of the progressive rise of the wages of labour, that his salary at first was only thirty shillings yearly; it was then advanced to two pounds; from two to three, three to five, five to ten, and so on, till at last he received, what to him was a little independency, the high salary of twenty pounds per annum.
About fifteen years before his death, the mid-steeple was thoroughly repaired, and a splendid new weather cock substituted in the place of the former old and clumsy one. This was a great event to blind Tom; the steeple was, in a great measure, his domicile, and he who had so much to do with the base, could not be inattentive to the capital. Up, therefore, he would go to the top; and though repeatedly warned against the danger he would incur, he actually accomplished the perilous enterprize, threw his arms round the bonny
bird, and bestowed on him a benediction to this effect; that he might long, long continue to indicate as truly the four winds, as he himself indicated the time of day. On rejoicing days, during the war, the bell-man was ever forward to eyince his loyalty, by mounting the bastion of the steeple, and dischargeing an old rusty fowling piece which he kept for the purpose. During the life time of George III., Tom was a most loyal subject; every returning fourth of June, he made it his constant practice to ascend to what are called the high leads of the steeple, and there fired several rounds in honour of his Majesty's natal day; performing the operations of priming and loading with admirable precision.
The knowledge he possessed of every part of the town and neighbourhood of Dumfries was truly wonderful; he could walk to any quarter of the town, without ever deviating in the least from his route, and, indeed, has been known to take strangers to places they were in quest of, with the utmost exactness. Being much in the streets, he was often employed as a guide, and many laughable stories are told of the astonishment of persons whom be bas conducted to the very extremities of the town, or even a good way into the country, on discovering that they had been led by a blind man. His local knowledge was indeed very great, and his memory retentive to an uncommon degree. Once he had occasion to call at a shop, and in crossing the threshold, it was remarked that he paused, and lifted his foot very high. On this he was told there was no step, but the old man's memory was very faithful, and he immediately remarked,
“just four and twenty years ago, I was in this shop, and I am gye sure there was a step then.” At another time, returning home one evening, a little after ten o'clock, he heard a gentleman, who had just alighted from the mail, enquiring the way to Colin, and Tom instantly offered to conduct him thither. vices were gladly accepted, and he acted his part so well that, although Colin is three miles from Dumfries, the stranger did not discover his guide was blind, until they reached the end of their journey.
Tom was also as well acquainted with persons as with places; if he heard any one speak, although he might not have met the individual for some time, yet le soon recognized him by his voice, when his usual remark
was, “Eh! mon, 'tis lang sin I've seen ye.” If he was asked the hour, such was his fine sense of feeling that, on touching the hands of his watch, he could inform himself in a moment.
Tom Wilson and another blind man in Dumfries, in order to beguile their leisure hours, contrived to invent a game somewhat similar to draughts, with which they very often amused themselves; and it was quite a treat to hear them, in a dark corner, discussing the probable issue of the game, and sometimes detecting each other in a false move.
Blind Tom had a taste for music, and was particularly fond of attending concerts; for many years he was a member of a musical institution, where the innocent cheerfulness of his manners, and his hearty laugh when any thing arose to please him, rendered his presence always acceptable.
The death of this honest and really ingenious man happened in a very melancholy way, on the 12th of March, 1825. On that night being in the belfry, he was struck with something like an apoplectic fit, and staggering, as it was supposed, against an old chest which cut his head slightly, sunk on the floor, and remained all night in this forlorn and pitiable situation, without a friend to help him. For some time previously, a person had assisted him in ringing the bells on Sundays, and when this individual visited the steeple, at seven o'clock in the morning, he had to force the inner door of the belfry, before the fate of the deceased could be ascertained. Though he still breathed, he was unable to speak, and was immediately carried to his home, in a state of nitter insensibility. Thus died poor Thomas Wilson, the oldest bell ringer, we believe, in Scotland, and who, for the long period of sixty three years, summoned the lieges to labour and repose, with all the regularity of the clock itself.
THE BLIND MECHANIC OF TANDERAGEE.
“O’erwhelm'd in darkness, and depriv'd of sight.
We have now to record the powers of another of the blind, who, though he had no claim to the genius of poesy, nor ever expatiated in the regions of philosophy, yet by the delicacy of touch, arrived at unexampled perfection in the execution of various pieces of mechanism, which, in others, would require all the aid of sight. The best account of his extraordinary progress in mechanics, is to be found in his own simple narrative, which the author of this article procured from his dictation. “I was born near Banbridge, in the county of Down, in the year 1768, and lost my sight at the age of four years. Having no other amusement, (being deprived of such as children generally have,) my mind turned itself to mechanical pursuits; and I shortly be