Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


ROBERT BURNS, 107 in the rooms of Stewart, Blair, or Robertson. . , . But Edinburgh offered tables and entertainers of a less staid character, when the glass circulated with greater rapidity, when wit flowed more freely, and when there were neither high-bred ladies to charm conversation within the bounds of modesty, nor serious philosophers nor grave divines to set a limit to the licence of speech or the hours of enjoyment. To those companions, who were all of the better classes, the levities of the rustic poet?s wit and humour were as welcome as were the tenderest of his narratives to the accomplished Duchess of Gordon or the beautiful Miss Burnet of Monboddo ; theyraised a social roar not at all classic, and demanded and provoked his sallies of wild humour, or indecorous mirth, with as much delight as he had witnessed among the lads of Kyle, when, at mill or forge, his humorous sallies abounded as the ale flowed.? While in Edinburgh Bums was the frequent and welcome guest ot John Campbell, Precentor of the Canongate Church, a famous amateur vocalist in his time, though forgotten now ; and to him Bums applied for an introduction to Bailie Gentle, After a stay of six months in Edinburgh, Burns ? set out on a tour to the south of Scotland, accompanied by Robert Ainslie, W.S. ; but elsewhere we shall meet him again. Opposite the house in which he dwelt is one with a very ancient legend, BZissit. be. th. bra. in, aZZ. His .gz)Xs. nm. and. euir. In 1746 this was the inheritance of Martha White, only child of a wealthy burgess who became a banker in London. She? became the wife of to the end that he might accord his tribute to the memory of the poet, poor Robert Fergusson, whose grave lay in the adjacent churchyard, without a stone to mark it. Bailie Gentle expressed his entire concurrence with the wish of Bums, but said that ?he had no power to grant permission without the consent of the managers of the Kirk funds.? ?Tell them,? said Burns, ?it is the Ayrshire ploughman who makes the request.? The authority was obtained, and a promise given, which we believe has been sacredly kept, that the grave should remain inviolate. 2s CLOSE* Charles niIlth Earl of Kincardine, and afterwards Earl of Elgin, ?? undoubted heir male and chief of d l the Bruces in Scotland,? as Douglas records. The countess, who died in 1810, filled, with honour to herself, the office of governess to the unfortunate Princess Charlotte of Wales. One of the early breaches made in the vicinity of the central thoroughfare of the city was Bank Street, on tlie north (the site of Lower Baxter?s Close), wherein was the shop of two eminent cloth merchants, David Bridges and Son, which became the usual resort of the whole Ziteraii of the city in its day. David Bridges junior had a strongly developed bias towards literary studies, and, according to the memoirs of Professor WiE son, was dubbed by the Blackwood nits, (? Director- General of the Fine Arts.? His love for these and the drama was not to be controlled by his connection with mercantile business ; and while the sefiior partner devoted himself to the avocations of trade in one part of their well-known premises, the younger was employed in adorning a sort of sanctum, where one might daily meet Sir Walter Scott and his friend Sir Adam Ferguson (who, as a boy, had often sat on the knee of David Hume), Professor Tradition points to the window on the immediate right (marked *) as that of the mom occupied by Burns.
Volume 1 Page 107
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