Among those welcomed to the house was a young artist, Alex. Lightbody, barely making a living, Well, Johnnie, as was his wont, immediately began to concern himself with this honest, transparent and obviously talented youth. I can barely remember a tall figure with small moustache and sensitive features. Finally Johnnie thought of a scheme.
Now, this happened in late 1893 and early ’94, and it is here and now described as far as the record and later hearsay confirms. There lived in retirement in his native village, Braidwood. about one mile south of Hillhead Cottage on the Lanark highway, a world famous anatomist of the time, Dr. John R. S. Hunter, formerly of London. Through ]ohnnie’s importunities Dr. Hunter was persuaded to sit for his portrait to Alex. Lightbody, who seems in the process to have made himself agreeable. Like most men of eminence, it would appear that the Doctor had not used his great knowledge to enrich himself, so this was merely a courteous gesture, in response to ]ohnnie’s entreaty many months previously.
The portrait, when in its final stage, met with the approval of the subject, and then, the first step was taken in the scheme Johnnie had in mind from the start. This was to raise by public subscription both locally and nationally a sum as large as possible to reimburse the artist. As a climax it was planned to hold a public dinner and meeting at which the portrait would be formally presented to the Doctor. All of this involved an enormous correspondence, all hand-written for there was no secretary. He wrote not only to known acquaintances of the Doctor but to learned and scientific societies, affiliated medical authorities and to prominent citizens in the county and immediate community.
The first procedure was to obtain the approval, and permission to use the name of the local magnate and landowner, Sir Wm. Hozier of Mauldslie Castle, Carluke. This was obtained on 6th April 1894, in a letter surviving. With this same letter came another from his son, James Hozier, M.P., Member of Parliament for the County of Lanark, asking that his name be also associated with the proposal. With this auspicious beginning other landowners and notables in the County and neighborhood quickly fell into line.
A letter received at this time from Dr. Hunter follows:
9th April, 1894
My dear Sir,
I can assure you that I cannot express words to convey what I think of what you are doing in my behalf - the tenor of your letter expresses my feeling - I will not accept a Portrait from anyone except it is done by my friend, Mr. Lightbody. I have seen the portrait. It is magnificent and does great credit to the artist.
It will simply put him on his feet, and be in a position to do good work.
Thanking you for your kindness,
I am, my Dear Sir,
Yours very truly,
]. R. S. Hunter. ·