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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


234 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. ~~ ~~ ~~~ ~ the evil passions indulged in by many, Hamilton draws the contrast thus :- U Unlike, 0 Eglintoun ! thy happy breast, Calm and serene, enjoys the heavenly guest ; From the tumultuous rule of passions freed, Pure in thy thought and spotless in thy deed ; In virtues rich, in goodness unconfined, Thou shin?st a fair example to thy kind ; Sincere and equal to thy neighbour?s name, How switl to praise ! how guiltless to defame ! Bold in thy presence bashfulness appears, And backward merit loses all its fears. Supremely blest by Heaven-Heaven?s richest grace Confest is thine, an early blooming race ; Whose pleasing smiles shall guardian wisdom arm, Divine instruction ! taught of thee to charm ; What transports shall they to thy soul impart (The conscious transports of a parent?s heart), When thou behold?st them of each grace possest, And sighing youths imploring to be blest ; After thy image formed, with charms like thine, Or in the visit, or the dance to shine! Thrice happy who succeed their mother?s praise, The lovely Eglintounes of other days.? Save Lady Frances, all her daughters were well married; but her eldest son, Earl Alexander, was her especial favourite. In his youth, she said, she preserved the goodness of his nature by keeping his mind pure and untainted, and giving him just ideas of moral life. She is said never to have refused him a request but once. On the accession of George 111. to the throne, the young earl was appointed one of the lords of the bedchamber. Proud of his stately mother and of her noble figure, he begged that she would walk in the procession zt his Majesty?s coronation ; but the Countess-a true Jacobite-excused herself, that she was too old to wear robes now. His melancholy death at the hands of Mungo Campbell, in 1769, well nigh overwhelmed her. Indeed, she never entirely recovered from the shock of seeing her beloved son borne home mortally wounded. During Dr. Johnson?s visit to her, it came out that she was mamed before he was born ; upon which she smartly and graciously said to him that she might have been his mother, and now adopted him ; and at parting she embraced him, a mark of affection and condescension which made a lasting impression upon the mind of the great literary bear. In 1780 she died at Auchans, at the age of ninety-one, preserving to the last her grandeur of mien and her marvellous purity of complexion, a mystery to all the women of her time, and the secret of which was said to be that she periodically bathed her face with sow?s milk/ ?? I have seen a portrait,? says Chambers, ?(taken in her eighty-first year, in which it is observable that her skin is of exquisite delicacy and tint. Altogether the Countess was a woman of ten thousand! . . . . One last trait maynow be recorded : in her ladyship?s bedroom was hung a portrait of her sovereign de jure, the ill-starred Charles Edward, so situated as to be the first object which met her sight on awaking in the morning.? With the state leve?es of the old Earl of Leven as High Commissioner at Fortune?s tavern the ancient glories of the Stamp Office Close faded away; but an unwonted spectacle was exhibited at the head thereof in 1812-a public execution. On the night of the 31st December, 1811, a band of young artisans and idlers, most of them under twenty years of age, but so numerous and so well organised as to set the regular police of the city at defiance, sallied forth, about eleven o?clock, into the streets, then crowded as usual at that festive season, and proceeded with bludgeons to knock down and rob every person of decent appearance who fell in their way-the least symptom on the part of the victims to resist, or protect their property, proving only a provocation to fresh outrages. These desperadoes had full possession of the streets till two in the morning, for the police, who at that period were wretchedly insufficient, w-ere rquted and dispersed from the commencement of the murderous riot. One watchman, who did his duty in a resolute manner, was killed on the spot ; a great number of persons were robbed, and a greater number dangerously, some mortally, wounded. When the police recovered from their surprise, assisted by several gentlemen, a number of the rioters were arrested, some with stolen articles in their possession, and the chief ringleaders were soon after discovered and taken into custody. Four were tried and convicted; and three of these young lads were sentenced to be hanged. The magistrates had them executed on the zznd of April, 181 2, on a gallows erected at the head of the Stamp Office Close, in order to mark more impressively the detestation of their crimes, and because that place had been the chief scene of the bloodshed during the riot. A small work entitled ?? Notes of Conversations,? with these young desperadoes, was afterwards published by the Reverend W. Innes. In 1821 the Stamp Office was removed from this close to the new buildings erected at Waterloo Place.
Volume 2 Page 234
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