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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


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.?
Volume 2 Page 203
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