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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


which is of great height, contains a large painting over the stone fireplace of the Adoration of the Vise Men. A few steps from this was the old Bank Close (so-called from the Bank of Scotland having been in it), a blind alley, composed wholly of solid, handsome, , and massive houses, some of which were of great antiquity, and of old named Hope?s Close, from the celebrated Sir Thomas Hope, King?s Advocate in the time of Charles I., prior to whom it had borne the name of Mauchine?s Close, about the year 151 I. Here, on the site of the present Melbourne Place, stood a famous old mansion, almost unique even in Edinburgh, named Robert Gourlay?s House, with the legend, above its door, ?0 Lord in fhe is a2 my fraift 1569?; and it is somewhat singular that the owner of this house was neither a man of rank nor of wealth, but simply a messenger- at-arms belonging to the Abbey of Holyrood, an office bestowed upon him by the Commendator, Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney. In I 5 74 Robert Gourlay was an elder of the kirk, and in that year had to do his public penance therein ?(for franqorfing wheat out of the counfrie.? In 1581, when the Regent Morton was about to suffer death, he was placed in Gourlay?s house for two days under a guard; and there it was that those remarkable conferences took place between him and certain clergymen, in which, while protesting his innocence of the murder of Darnley, he admitted his foreknowledge of it. Among many popular errors, is one that he invented the ? maiden? by which he suffered ; but it is now known to have been the common Scottish guillotine, since Thomas Scott was beheaded by it on the 3rd of April, 1566. On the 7th of January, 1582, Mopse tells us in his Memoirs, ?there came a French ambassador through England, named La Motte (Fenelon), he was lodged in Gourlay?s house near Tolbooth, and had an audience of his Majesty; with him there also came another ambassador from England, named Mr. Davidson, who got an audience also that same day in the king?s chamber of presence.? This was probably a kinsman of De la Motte, the French ambassador, who was slain at Flodden. He !eft Edinburgh on the 10th of February. Herein resided Sir William Drury during the siege of the Castle in 1573, and thither, on its surrender, was brought its gallant defender before death, with his brother Sir James Kirkaldy and others ; and it was here that in later years the great Argyle is said to . . DEACON BRODIE. (After Kay.) havhpassed his last hours in peaceful sleep before his execution. So Robert Gourlay?s old house had a terrible history. By this time the house had passed into the possession of Sir Thomas Hope. Hence it has been conjectured that Argyle?s last sleep took place in the high Council Room, whither, Wodrow says, he was brought before rxecutim. John Gourlay, son of Robert, erected a house at the foot of this ancient close. It bore the date I 588, with the motto, Spes aZtera vife. Herein was the Bank of Scotland first established in 1695, and there its business was conducted till 1805, when it was removed to their new office, that stupendous edifice . at the head of the entrance to the Earthen Mound. Latterly it was used as the University printing-office ; and therein, so latelyas 1824, was in use, as a proof press, the identical old wooden press which accompanied the Highland army, in 1745, for the publication of gazettes and manifestoes. Robert Gourlay?s house passed from the possession of Sir Thomas Hope and Lord Aberuchill into that of Sir George Lockhart (the great legal and political rival of Sir George Mackenzie), Lord President of the Session in 1685, and doomed to fall a victim to private revenge. Chiesly of Dalry, an unsuccessful litigant, enraged at the president for assigning a small aliment of A93 out of his estate-a fine one south-westward of the city-to his wife, from whom
Volume 1 Page 116
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