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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


202 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. his history, that Andrew Murray, an aged Presbyterian minister, when he beheld the ferocious Sir Thomas Dalzell of Binns in his rusted headpiece, with his long white vow-beard which had never been profaned by steel since the execution of Charles I., riding at the head of his cavalier squadrons, who, flushed with recent victory, surrounded the prisoners with drawn rapiers and matches lighted; and when he heard the shouts of acclamation from the changeful mob, became so overpowered with grief at what he deemed the downfall for ever of ?the covenanted Kirk ol God,? that he became ill, and expired. In 1678 we find a glimpse of modern civilisation, when it was ordained that a passenger stage between Leith and Edinburgh should have a fixed place for receiving complaints, and for departure, between the heads of Niddry?s and the Blackfriars Wynds, in the High Street. The fare to Leith for two or three persons, in summer, was to be IS. sterling, or four persons IS. qd., the fare to the Palace gd., and the same returning. Carriages had been proposed for this route as early as 1610, when Henry Anderson, a Pomeranian, contracted to run them at the charge of 2s. a head; but they seem to have been abandoned soon after. Hackney camages, which had been adopted in London in the time of Charles I., did not become common in Scotland till after the Restoration,and almost the first use we hear of one being put to was when a duel took place, in 1667, between William Douglas of Whittingham and Sir John Home of Eccles, who was killed. With their seconds they proceeded in a hackney coach from the city to a lonely spot on the shore near Leith, where, after a few passes, Home was run through the body by Douglas, who was beheaded therefor. The year 1678 saw the first attempt to start a .stage from the High Street to Glasgow, when on the 6th of August a contract was entered into between the magistrates of that city and a merchant of Edinburgh, by which it was agreed that ?the said William Hume shall have in readiness one sufficient strong coach, to run betwixt Edinburgh and Glasgow, to be drawn by six able horses ; to leave Edinburgh ilk Monday morning, and return again-God willing-ilk Saturday night ; the burgesses of Glasgow always to have a preference in the coach.? As the undertaking was deemed arduous, and not to be accomplished without assistance, the said magistrates agreed to give Hume two hundred merks yearly for five years, whether passengers went or not, in consideration of his having actually received two years? premium in advance. Even with this pecuniary aid the speculation proved unprofitable, and was abandoned, so little was the intercourse between place and place in those days. In the end of the 17th century-and for long after-it was necessary for persons desirous of proceeding from.Edinburgh to London by land, to club for the use of a conveyance; and about the year 1686, Sir Robert Sibbald, His Majesty?s physician, relates, that ?? he was forced to come by sea, for he could not ride, by reason that the fluxion had fallen on his arme, and that he could not get companie to come in a coach.? And people, before their departure, always made their wills,? took solemn farewell of their friends, and asked to be prayed for in the churches. The Edinburgh of 1687, the year before the Revolution, actually witnessed the sale of a dancinggirl, a transaction which ended in a debate before the Lords of the Privy Council. On the 13th of January, in that year, as reported by Lord Fountainhall, Reid, a mountebank prosecuted Scott of Harden and his lady, ?for stealing away from him a little girl called The TumbZing Lam+ that danced upon a stage, and produced a contract by which he had bought her from her mother for thirty pounds Scots (about Az 10s. sterling). But we have no slaves in Scotland,? adds his lordship, ?and mothers cannot sell their bairns; and physicians attested that the employment of tumbling would kill her, her joints were even now growing stiff, and she declined to return, though she was an apprentice, and could not run away from her master.? Then some of the Privy Council in the canting spirit of the age, ?? quoted Moses? Law, that if a servant shelter himself with thee, against his master?s cruelty, thou shalt not deliver him up.? The Lords therefore assoilzied (i.e., acquitted) Harden, who had doubtless been moved only by humanity and compassion. By the year 1700 the use of privatecarriages in the streets had increased so much that when the principal citizens went forth to meet the King?s Commissioner, there were forty coaches, with 1,200 gentlemen on horseback, with their mounted lackeys. In 1702, at 10 o?clock on the evening of the I zth March, Colonel Archibald Row of the Royal Scots Fusileers (now zIst Foot), arrived express in Edinburgh, to announce the death of William of Orange, at Kensington Palace, on the 8th of the same month. It consequently took three days and a half for this express to reach the Scottish capital, a day more than that required by Robert Cary, to bring intelligence of the death of Elizabeth, ninetynine years before. Monteith in his ?Theatre of
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High Street.3 CHANGES IN THE HIGH STREET. 203 Mortality,? I 7041 gives us the long inscription on the tomb of the Colonel?s wife, in the Greyfriars, beginning :-? Nic $osita Rdiquire Lectissrna rnatronq Jeanne ]ohnsone, conizcgl?s Archibaldi Row, [email protected] Scloppetarz>rum, hpmzis,? &c. She died in 1702. On the 8th of March Anne was proclaimed Queen of Scotland, at the Cross, with all the usual solemnities. In January, 1703, George Young, merchant in the High Street, was appointed by the Provost, Si1 Hugh Cunningham, and the Council, to act a a constable, and along with several other citizen: of respectable position, ? oversee the manners and order of the burgh, and the inhabitants thereof, and on the evening of the 24th, being Sunday, he went through some parts of the city to see ?that the Lord?s day, and the laws made for the observance thereof, were not violated.? ? In the house of Marjory Thom, a vintner, this new official found, about 10 P.M., several companies in several rooms, and expostulated with her on the subject, aftei which, according to his own account, he quietly withdrew. As he proceeded up the close to the High Street, he and his comrades were followed by Mr. Archi. bald Campbell, son of the Lord Niel Campbell, who warned him that if he reported Marjory?s house to the magistrates, he would repent it. This affair ended in a kind of riot next day, in Young?: shop, opposite the Town Guard House, and Campbell would probably have slain Young, had not the latter contrived to get hold of his sword and keep it till the Guard came, and the matter was brought before the Privy Council, when such was the influence of family and position, that the luckless Mr. Young was fined 400 merks, to be paid to Campbell, and to be imprisoned till the money was forthcoming. On the 14th of February, 1705, appeared tlie first number of the Bdinbwgh Courant, a simple folio broadsheet, published by James Watson, in Craig?s Close. Its place was afterwards taken by MacEwen?s Rdifzburgh Evening Courant, in I 7 18, a permanent success to this day. It was a Whig print, and caused the starting of the now defunct Caledonkn Mercury, in the Jacobite interest, a little quarto of two leaves. According to the Courant of April gth, 1724 the denizens of the High Street, aud other greater thoroughfares, were startled by ?a bank ? of drums, beating up for recruits for the King of Prussia?s - gigantic regim?ent of Grenadiers. Two guineas as bounty were offered, and many tall fellows were enlisted. The same regiment was recruited for in Edinburgh in 1728. By the year 1730 great changes had been effected by the magistrates in enforcing cleanliness in the streets, and repressing the habit (accompanied by the temble cry of Gardezl?eau) of throwing slops and rubbish from the windows. Sir James Dick of Prestonfield, the wise provost of 1679, transported away by personal energy a vast stratum of the refuse of ages, through which people had to make literal lanes to their shops and house-doors and therewith enriched his lands by the margin of Duddingston Loch (Act of Parl. James VII., I., cap. IZ), till their fertility is proverbial to the present day. But still there was no regular system of cleaning, and though Sir Alexander Brand, a well-known magistrate and manufacturer of Spanish leather gilt hangings, made some vigorous proposals on the subject, they were not adopted, till in 1730 the magistrates endeavoured by the strong arm of the law to repress the obnoxious habit of throwing household litter from the windows, a habit amusingly described by Smollett forty years after in his ?? Humphrey Clinker.? On the 6th of September, 1751, the fall of a great stone tenement on the north of the High Street, near the Cross, six storeys in height, with attics, sinking at once from top to bottom, and occasioning some loss of life, caused a general alarm in the city concerning the probable state of many of the more ancient and crumbring houses. A general survey was made, and many were condemned, and orderec! to be taken down. But from 1707 Edinburgh stood singularly still till 1763, when the citizens seemed to wake fiom their apathetic lethargy. After that period the erection of adjuncts to the old city (tcr be referred to in their own localities) led to the general desertion of it by all people of position and wealth. Among the last who lingered there, and retained his mansion in the High Street, was James Fergusson of Pitfour, M.P., whose body was borne thence in October, 1820, for interment in the Greyfriars Churchyard. In the March of 1820 the High Street was iighted with gas for the first time. ? This has been done,? says a print of the day, ?by the introduction of a single cockspur light into each of the old globes, in which the old oil lamps were formerly suspended.?
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