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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


THE HIGH STREET. 24 I. Not far from this, on the west side of the Old Stamp Office Close, stood a large, oldfashioned mansion, which formed above a century ago the residence of Alexander, ninth Earl of Eglinton, and his lovely Countess Susannah Kennedy-reputed the handsomest woman of her time-to whom the Gentle Shepherd is dedicated, both in Ramsay's most fluent prose, and in some of Hamilton of Bangour's flattering strains. She was brought to Edinburgh just about the time of the Union by her father, Sir Archibald Kennedy of Colzean--a rough old caqalier, who had borne a part in the best and worst achievements of Claverhouse--and her beauty speedily weaned the keenest devotees of politics from its engrossing attractions. The Earl of Eglinton was already provided with a Countess, whose protracted ill health had made him hopeless of an heir; and just when he had been smitten with the universal admiration of the lovely Susannah, and had exhibited some very unequivocal symptoms of the pangs of a despairing lover, his own Countess died, and the forlorn widower '' bore off the belle," to the infinite chagrin of many younger, but less attractive wooers.' The Countess was somewhat of a blue-stocking, and the most conspicuous patroness of the Scottish muses in her day. Her name appears on other dedication pages besides the honourable one of the Gentle Shepherd. Ramsay dedicated to her the music of his first Book of Songs-a little work now very rare-and at a later period he presented to her the original manuscript of his great pastoral poem, which she afterwards parted with to James Boswell. It is now preserved in the library at Auchinleck, along with the presentation letter of the poet. Euphemia, or Lady Effie, as she was more generally called, a daughter of the Earl by his first Countess, was married to the celebrated (' Union Lockhart," and proved an able auxiliary to him in many of his secret intrigues on behalf of the exiled Stuarts. When not engaged in attending parliament, he resided chiefly at his country seat of Dryden, while Lady Effie paid frequent visits to Edinburgh, disguised in male attire. She used to frequent the coffee-houses and other places of public resort, and joining freely in conversation with the Whig partizans, she oftep obtained important information for her husband. It chanced on one occasion, that 311' Forbes, a zealous Whig, but a man of profligate habits, had got hold of some important private papers, implicating Lockhart, and which he had engaged to forward to Government. Lady Euphemia Lockhart dressed her two sons-who were fair and somewhat effeminate looking, though handsome youths,-in negligee, fardingale, and masks; with patches, jewels, and all the finery of accomplished courtezans. Thus equipped, they sallied out to the Cross, and, watching for the Whig gallant, they speedily attracted his notice, and so won on him by their attentions that he was induced to accompany them to a neighbouring tavern, where the pseudo fair ones fairly drank him below the table, and then rifled him of the dangerous papers. This anecdote, which we have obtained from a grand-nephew of Lady Lockhart, furnishes, we think, a more graphic picture of the manners and notions of the age of Queen Anne than any incident we have met with. ' Sir John Clerk, Bart., as we have been told by a descendant of the Earl of Eglinton-after much coquetting and versifying, had actually made a declaration of his passion, which the father, at least, had 80 far under consideration aa to consult the Earl thereupon. His reply was-" Bide awee, Sir Archie, my wife's very aickly ! I' a hint sufficient to settle the hopes of the Baronet of Pennycuik. Sir J. Clerk was the author of the fine Scottish song2-'' Oh merry may the maid be that marries wi' the miller," with the exception of the first verse, which is ancient The Earl wan little more than forty when he married this, his third Countess. 2 H .
Volume 10 Page 262
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Volume 10 Page 263
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