Culture

Magnus Halcro: Episode III

Where our hero embraces celebrity….

Magnus Halcro obtained the civic chair; his influence predominated in the town council and through the whole burgh; ministerial and opposition candidates ‘waited’ upon the provost, and with problematical humility solicited the honour of his suffrage, with all the et ceteras which are resorted to on these occasions. But all this was nothing to the golden harvest that awaited him.

In the autumn of 17____ , a large vessel, very richly laden, sailed from a port in the Mediterranean for__________. Month after month elapsed, and no tidings reached her anxious proprietors, and still more anxious freighters. The vessel, in short, was given over for lost; and an enormous sum was paid at Lloyd’s to her owners, and to the house which the cargo belonged.

But in place of so much wealth being swallowed up by the devouring ocean, the vessel was stranded on one of the numerous holms, or islets, which skirt the northern extremity of_______; and such was her precarious situation, that a more prudent man would scarcely have risked twenty pounds on the speculation; but Mr Halcro combined enterprise with prudence, and honour with both. He instantly wrote to Lloyd’s, describing the true situation of the vessel, at the state of her valuable cargo, and the risk and expense of saving both, offering at the same time, either to purchase the whole concern, or to act as their agent.

The directors of the great insurance office preferred the former; and for a mere nominal sum, our fortunate speculator became possessed of this immense treasure. It was now that Providence smiled on his undertaking. Contrary to the experience of the oldest inhabitants of these dreary regions, the weather continued serene for three or four consecutive weeks, and by that time every fragment of the cargo was secured, and the vessel floated round to a place of safety, where she was repaired, and re-laden at a trifling expense.

Soon afterwards she arrived at her original port of destination; where, owing to her untoward passage, her cargo had risen in value at least 50%, which not only defrayed the expense of repairs, furnishings re-lading, insurance, and incidental sums, but actually left a huge profit.

Thus , by early industry, rigid attention to business, prudence, probity, and a concatenation of fortunate circumstances; the homeless orphan raised himself from the depths of poverty and obscurity, to the very apex of political and commercial greatness – became the founder of a family- and may be held up as a model to all the young aspirants to mercantile celebrity who may chance to read these pages.


Mind on David Vedder published this in Orcadian Sketches in 1832

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