Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


High Street.] ANDRO HART. 229 caunt-a very common kind of ghost story-we are told, was related by the minister (of course) who was in the house on this occasion, to John Duke of Lauderdale (who died in 1682), in pre- .sence of many other nobles. After this the house was again deserted ; yet another attempt was made to inhabit it - probably rent-free -by .a courageous and drink-loving old soldier and his wife; but towards midnight the candle began to burn blue, and the grisly old head was seen to hover in mid-air, on which the terrified couple fled, and Mary Kings Close was finally aban- .doned to desolation and .decay. No record of its ,inmates in the flesh has .ever been handed down, .and thus the name of the place is associated with its goblins alone. Professor Sinclair, who wrote the history of these, was author of several very learned works on astronomy, navigation, mathematics, and so forth; but he also favoured the world with .a strange ?Dis- .course concerning Coal ? -a compound of science .and superstition, containing an account of the witches of Glenluce, Sinclair being, like many .other learned men of his time, a firm believer in the black art. Passing Writers? Court .and the Royal Exchange, both of which have been Meter,? and other works that issued from his press. He flourished in the reign of James VI., and previous to 1600 he was in the habit of importing books from the Continent ; but about 1601 he printed, at his own expense, several works in Holland ; and subsequently commenced business as a printer in those premises in the High Street which, two centuries after his death in 1621, became the residence of the great bibliopole, Pro- STAMP OFFICE CLOSE already described, we come to the once famous alley, Craig?s Close, the lower end of which, like the rest of such thoroughfares in this quarter, has been removed to make way for Cockburn Street. The old tenement which faces the High Street at the head of this close occupies the site of the open booth or shop of Andro Hart, the famous .old Scottish printer ; and therein was, of course, exposed for sale his well-known Bible, which has always been admired for its beautiful typography; h i s Barbour?s ?Bruce,? his ? Psalms in Scottish vost Creech, and of that still greater one, Archibald Constable. A little way down the close on the east side was the printing - house of Andro Hart, apicturesque and substantial stone tenement, with finely moulded windows divided by mullions, and having the Sinclair arms on the bed-corbel of the crow-stepped gable. Over the old doorway was the legend and date, My h i p is in Chrisf, A. S. M K., 1593,? under a label moulding. In 1828 there was presented to the Antiquarian Museum by Mr. Hutchison, printer, . a very fine Scottish spear, which had been preserved from time immemorial in the old printing-house of Andro Hart, and is confidently believed to have been his-perhaps the same weapon with which he sallied forth to take part in the great tumult of 1596, when the king was besieged in the Tolbooth ; for Caldenvood and others- distinctly tell us that the old printer was one of the foremost in the disturbance, and roused so much the indignation of the king, James VI., that he was sent prisoner to the Castle in February, 1597, together with two other booksellers, James and Edward Cathkin. In 1759 a dromedary and camel were exhibited at the head of Craig?s Close, where they seem to have been deemed two wonder9 of the world, and, according to the Edinbwgh NMaZd and ChronicZc for that year, itwas doubted whether there were other
Volume 2 Page 229
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