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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


222 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street On becoming provost, he was easily led by his religious persuasion to become a sort of voluntary exchequer for the friends of the National Covenant, and in 1641 he advanced to them IOO,OOO merks to save them from the necessity of disbanding their army; and when the Scottish Parliament in the same year levied 10,000 men for the protection of their colony in Ulster, they could not have embarked had they not been provisioned at the expense of Sir William Dick. Scott, in the ? Heart of Midlothian,? alludes to the loans of the Scottish Crcesus thus, when he makes Davie Deans say, ?My father saw them toom the sacks of dollars out 0? Provost Dick?s window intil the carts that carried them to the army at Dunse Law; and if ye winna believe his testimony, there is the window itself still standing in the Luckenbooths, five doors aboon the Advocates? Close-I think it is a claithmerchant?s the day.? And singular to say, a cloth merchant?s ?booth ? it continued long to be. ? In 1642 the Customs were let to Sir William Dick for zoz,ooo merks, and 5,000 merks of gassum, or ? entrense siller;? but, as he had a horror of Cromwell and the Independents, he advanced ~20,000 for the service of King Charlesa step by which he kindled the wrath of the prevailing party; and, after squandering his treasure in a failing cause, he was so heavily.mulcted by extortion of L65,ooo and other merciless penalties, that his vast fortune passed speedily away, and he died in 1655, a prisoner of Cromwell?s, in a gaol at Westminster, under something painfully like a want of the common necessaries of life. He and Sir William Gray were the first men of Edinburgh who really won the position of merchant princes. The changeful fortunes of the former are commemorated in a scarce folio pamphlet, entitled ?The Lamentable State of the Deceased Sir William Dick,? and containing .several engravings. One represents him on horseback, escorted by halberdiers, as Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and superintending the unloading of a great vessel at Leith ; a second represents him in the hands of bailiffs; and a third lying dead in prison. ?The tract is highly esteemed by collectors of prints,? says Sir Walter Scott, in a note to the ?Heart of Midlothian.? ?The only copy I ever saw upon sale was rated at L30.? Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees (a place now called Moredun, in the parish of Liberton) who was Lord Advocate of Scotland from 1692 until his death in 1713, a few months only excepted, gave a name to the next narrow and gloomy alley, Advocates? Close, which bounded on the east the venerable mansion of the Lords Holyroodhouse. His father was provost of the city when Cromwell paid his first peaceful visit thereto in 1648-9, and again in 1658-9, at the close of the Protectorate, The house in which he lived and died was at the foot of the close, on the west side, before descending a flight of steps that served te ; lessen the abruptness of the descent. He had returned from exile on the landing of the Prince of , Orange, and, as an active revolutionist, was detested by the Jacobites, who ridiculed him as /amc Wyhe in many a bitter pasquil. He died in 1713, and Wodrow records that ? so great was the crowd (at his funeral) that the magistrates were at the grave in the Greyfriars? Churchyard before the corpse was taken out of the house at the foot of the Advocates? Close.? In 1769 his grandson sold the house to David Dalrymple, afterwards Lord Westhall, who resided in it till nearly the time of his death in 1784. This close was a very fashionable one in the days of Queen Anne, and was ever a favourite locality with members of the bar. Among many others, there resided Andrew Crosbie, the famous original of Scott?s ?Counsellor Pleydell,? an old lawyer who was one of the few that was able to stand his. ground in any argument or war of words with Dr. Johnson during that visit when he made himself so obnoxious in Edinburgh. From this dark and steep alley, with its picturesque overhanging gables and timber projections, Mr. Crosbie afterwards removed to a handsome house erected by him in St. Andrew?s Square, ornamented with lofty, half-sunk Ionic columns and a most ornate attic storey (on the north side of the present Royal Bank), afterwards a fashionable hotel, long known as Douglas?s and then as Slaney?s, where even royalty has more than once found quarters. By the failure of the Ayr Bank he was compelled to leave his new habitation, and?died in 1784 in such poverty that his widow owed her whole support to a pension of A50 granted to her by the Faculty of Advocates. The house lowest down the close, and immediately opposite that of Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees, was the residence of an artist of some note in his time, John Scougal, who painted the well-known portrait of George Heriot, which hangs in the council room of the hospital. He was a cousin of that eminent divine Patrick Scougal, parson of Saltoun in East Lothian and Bishop of Aberdeen in 1664. John Scougall added an upper storey to the old land in the Advocates? Close, and fitted up one of
Volume 2 Page 222
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