Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


300 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. eminent occupants of Queensberry House are Charles, the third Duke, who was born there in 1698, and his celebrated Duchess, Lady Catherine Hyde, the patroness of the poet Gay, and the beauty of the court of George I., whose sprightliness and wit have been commemorated in the numbers of Pope, Swift, and Prior ; and whom Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, celebrated in her old age as- Prior's Kitty, ever fair ! The eccentric beauty espoused the cause of Gay with such warmth, that on the Lord Chamberlain refusing to 'sanction the representatiod of PO&, a piece intended as a continuation of the Beggar's Opera, she received the poet into her house as her private secretary, and both she and the Duke withdrew in high dudgeon from court. Gay accompanied his fair patroness to Edinburgh, and resided some time at Queensberry House. !ilk hl!..? L. h . /;2-': His intercourse with the author of "the Gentle Shepherd," has already been referred to, as well as his frequent visits to the poet's shop at the cross.' We furnish a view of another .and much humbler haunt of the i poet during his residence in Edinburgh. It is a small lath and plaster edifice of 1 considerable antiquity, which still stands directly opposite Queensberry House, and is said to have been a much frequented tavern in Gay's time, kept by an hospitable old dame, called Janet Hall; and, if tradition is to be believed, Jenny Ha's changehouse was a frequent scene of the poet's relaxations with the congenial wits of the Scottish capital.'' The huge dimensions of Queensberry House are best estimated from the fact of its having been subsequently converted into barracks and an hospital. The latest purpose to which this once magnificent ducal residence has been applied, as a House of Refuge for the Destitute," seems to complete its descent in the scale of degradation. Little idea, however, can now be formed, from the vast and unadorned proportions which the ungaiuly edifice presents both externally and internally, of its appearance while occupied by its original owners. "he wings were surmounted with neat ogee roofs. The centre had a French roof, with storm windows, in the style of the Palace of Versailles, and the chimney stalks were sufficiently ornamental to add to the general effect of the building, so that the whole appearance of the mansion, though plain, was perfectly in keeping with the residence of a nobleman and the representative of majedy. The internal decorations were of the most costly description, including very richly carved marble chimney pieces. On the house being dismantled, many of these were purchased by the Earl of Wemyss, for completing his new mansion IIl,ii~~~,,,~_~--i,- l ,~y<I~z~- I~. J' / . L ~ ~ - - - !\i,llAl' ~c l<-. $ &+I /--L \ i "&A J,, ;I -=- ' The whole building was then a story lower than it is at present. . Ante, p. 199. a Traditions, vol. i p. 291.
Volume 10 Page 327
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print   Pictures Pictures