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The Character Statues

Bailie Nicol Jarvie

Found on the lower tier of the South-West buttress of the Scott Monument.

Bailie Nicol Jarvie, the Glasgow magistrate (from the novel 'Rob Roy', 1817), is shown with his cocked hat stuck well back on his upturned head, which exposes a well-satisfied face, full of humour and character. With one hand in the pocket of his deep waistcoat and the other fumbling at his cravat as he confronts some object of wonder, he seems to have all the impervious consciousness of magisterial-dignity, which, trampled on in the wilds of Aberfoyle, led to the characteristic exclamation - ‘Ma conscience!’

A Glasgow merchant and magistrate with a good conceit of himself, Jarvie is related to Rob Roy, and thrills to hear tales of his exploits: "Whiles I like better to hear them, than a word o' profit, gude forgie me! - But they are vanities - sinfu' vanities - and, moreover, again the statute law - again the statute and gospel law."

Jarvie befriends Frank Osbaldistone and journeys with him into the Highlands, even though he would rather stay in Glasgow making money: "Honour is a homicide and a bloodspiller, that gangs about making frays in the street; but Credit is a decent honest man, that sits at hame, and makes the pat play."

Although a thoroughly patriotic Scot, Jarvie is in favour of the Treaty of Union, which he thinks has greatly benefited Scottish trade, and hence himself:

"There's naething sae gude on this side o' time, but it might hae been better, and that may be said o' the Union. Nane were keener against it than the Glasgow folk, wi' their rabblings and their risings, and their mobs, as they ca' them nowadays. But's it's an ill wind blaws naebody gude…Now, since St. Mungo catched herrings in the Clyde, what was ever like to gar us flourish like the sugar and tobacco trade? Will onybody tell me that, and grumble at the treaty that opened us a road west-awa' yonder?"

About the Sculptor

George A. Lawson (1832 to 1904)

Lawson was born in Edinburgh and died in Richmond, Surrey. He studied at the Trustees Academy under RS Lauder and became a pupil of Alexander Handyside Ritchie. He specialized in portrait busts in bronze, terracotta and marble and exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1860, and elected as HRSA (Honorary Member of the Royal Scottish Academy) in 1884.

He also sculpted Diana Vernon on the Scott Monument, the frieze on Glasgow City Chambers depicting the countries of the World paying homage to Great Britain and Queen Victoria (1888), and the Wellington Monument in Liverpool.

A bronze figure of a boy ‘Summer’ is in the George Watsons College, Edinburgh.

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