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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


made answer in a true technico-Caledonian strain -?Oo, Doctor Morris, they are just a wheen Kts, and (added he, with a most knowing compression of his lips) let me tell you what, Doctor Moms, there?s some no that ill bits among them.? One proved to be an exquisitely finished sketch by Sir William Allan, ?Two Tartar robbers dividing their spoil.? This led to a proposal to visit the artist?s atelier, and we. had no great distance to walk, for Mr. Allan lives in the Parliament Close, not a gun-shot from where we were.? Mr. Bridges married Flora Macdonald of Scalpa (sister of the heroic Sir John Macdonald, whose powerful hand, with a few of the Scots Guards, closed the gates of Hougomont), and died in November, 1840. One of the finest specimens of the woodenfronted houses of 1540 was on the south side ol the Lawnmarket, and was standing all unchanged, after the lapse of more than 338 years, till its demolition in 1878-9 (see the engraving aftex Ewbank?s view of It, .p. rcq). ?As niay be ob served, its north front, each storey of which advances a little over that below, is not deficient in elegance, there being Doric pilasters of timber interspersed with the windows of one floor, and some decoration: on the gable presented to the street. The wed front is plaicer, in consequence apparently of re. pairs ; but we there see the covered space in fronl of the place for merchandise on the ground floor.? A little east of the building, in the first or smaller part of Riddell?s Close, which, like all others on the south side, ran down towards the Cowgate, a lofty tenement towers upward, with a turret stair, dated 1726. This was the first residence of David Hume, and there it was he mote the first pages of his History. In 1751 he came hither from his paternal place Ninewells, near Dunse, and soon after he wrote to Adam Smith :-cc Direct to me in Riddell?s Land, Lawnmarket. .? . . I have now at last, being turned forty, to my own honour, to that of learning, and to that of the present age, arrived at the dignity of being a householder! About seven months ago I got a house of my own, and completed a regular family, consisting of a head-myself-and two inferior members, a maid and a cat. My sister has just joined me, and keeps me company. With frugality, I can reach, I find, cleanliness, warmth, light, plenty, and contentment? In the following year he succeeded Ruddiman as Librarian to the Faculty of Advocates. On the opposite side of this small dark court is a more ancient house, having a curious wainscoted room, the ceiling, walls, and every panel of which are elaborately decorated in Norrie?s style of art; and therein abode Sir John Smith of Grothall (already mentioned), Provost of Edinburgh, and whose name was long borne by the alley. He? was one of the commissioners chosen, in 1650, to convey the loyal assurances of the realm to Charles 11. and Breda, and to have the Covenant duly subscribed by him. In the inner part of Riddell?s Close stands the house of Bailie John Macmorran, whose tragic death made a great stir at its time, threw the city into painful excitement, and tarnished the reputation of the famous old High School. The conduct of the scholars there had been bad and turbulent for some years, but it reached a climax on the 15th of September, 1595. On a week?s holiday being refused, the boys were so exasperated, being chiefly ? gentilmane?s bairnes,? that they formed a compact for vengeance in the true spirit of the age; and, armed with swords and pistols, took possession at midnight of the ancient school in the Blackfnars Gardens, and declining to admit the masters or any one else, made preparation to stand a siege, setting all authority at defiance. The doors were not only shut but bamcaded and strongly guarded within ; all attempts to storm the boy-garrison proved impracticable, and all efforts at reconciliation were unavailing. The Town Council lost patience, and sent Bailie John Macmorran, one of the wealthiest merchants in the city (though he had begun life as a servant to the Regent Morton), with a posse of city officers, to enforce the peace. On their appearance in the school-yard the boys became simply outrageous, and mocked them as buttery carles,? daring any one to approach at his peril. ?To the point likely to be first attacked,? says Steven, in his history of the school, they were observed to throng in a highly excited state, and each seemed to vie with his fellow in threatening instant death to the man who should forcibly attempt to displace them. William Sinclair, son of the Chancellor of Caithness, had taken a conspicuous share in this bamng out, and he now appeared foremost, encouraging his confederates,? and stood at a window overlooking one of the entrances which the Bailie ordered the officers to force, by using a long beam as a battering ram, and he had nearly accomplished his perilous purpose, when a ball in the forehead from Sinclair?s pistol slew him on the spot, and he fell on his back. Panic-stricken, the boys surrendered. Some effected their escape, and others, including Sinclair and the sons of Murray of Springiedale, and Pringle of Whitebank, were thrown into prison. Macmor
Volume 1 Page 110
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