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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


High Street.] CARRUBBER?S CLOSE. 239 the name of ? the Hanoverian usurpers ? from all their devotions. But the humble chapels with which these old Scottish Episcopalians contented themselves in Carrubber?s Close, Skinner?s Close, and elsewhere, present a wonderful contrast? to their St. Paul?s and St. Mary?s in the Edinburgh of to-day. In this close was the house of Robert Ainslie?s master, during Burns?s visit to Edinburgh, Mr. Samuel Mitchelson, a great musical amateur ; and here it was that occurred the famous ?Haggis Scene,?described by Smollett in ?Humphrey Clinker.? At the table of Mitchelson the poet was a frequent guest, while on another floor of the old Clam Shell Land, as it was named, dwelt another friend of Burns?s, the elder Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, prior to his removal to the New Town. On the second floor of an ancient stone land at the head .of the close dwelt Captain Matthew Henderson, a well-known antiquary, a gentleman of agreeable and dignified manners, who was a hero of Minden, and .a member of the Crochallan Club, and dined constactly at Fortune?s tavern. He died in 1789, and Bums wrote a powerful elegy on him as ? a gentleman who held the patent for his honours immediately from Almighty God.? ? I loved the man much, and have not flattered his memory,? said Burns in a note to the elegy, which contains sixteen verses. The old captain was one whom all men liked. ? In our travelling party,? says Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglas in his (suppressed) Memoirs, ? was Matthew Henderson, then (I 759) and afterwards well known and much esteemed in the town of Edinburgh, at that time an officer in the 25th Regiment of Foot, and, like myself, on his way to join the army; and I may say with truth, that in the course of a long life I have never known a more estimable character than Matthew Henderson.? This close was the scene of the unsuccessful speculation of another poet, for here Allan Ramsay made a bold attempt to establish his theatre, which was roughly closed by the magistrates in 1737, after it had been barely opened, for which he took a poet?s vengeance in rhyme in the GenlZmn?s Magazine. The edifice, which stood at the foot of the close, was quizzically named st. Andrew?s Chapel, and in 1773 was the arena for the debates of a famous speculative club named the Pantheon. Five years subsequently Hind Dr. Moyes, the clever lecturer on natural philosophy, held forth therein to audiences both fashionable and select, on optics, the property?of light, and so forth. It was afterwards occupied by Mr. John Barclay, founder of the Bereans, whose chief tenet was, that the knowledge of the existence of God is derived from revelation and not from Scripture. From him and his followers Ramsay?s luckless theatre passed to the Rev. Mr. Tait and other founders of the Rowites, during whose occupancy the pulpit was frequently filled by the celebrated Edward Irving. The Relief and Secession congregations have also had it in succession; the Catholics have used it as a schoolroom ; and till its demolition to make way for Jeffrey Street, it has been the arena of a strange oZZapodda of per sonages and purposes. In Carrubber?s Close stood the ancient Tailor?s Hall, the meeting-place of a corporation whose charter, granted to them by the Town Council, is dated 20th October, 1531, and with their original one, was further confirmed by charters from James V. and JamesVI. Theyhad analtar in St. Giles?sChurch dedicated to their patron St. Ann, and the date of their seal of cause is 1500. They had also an altar dedicated to St. Ann in the Abbey church, erected in 1554 by permission of Robert Commendator of Holyrood. The fine old hall in the Cowgate has long since been abandoned by the Corporation, which still exists; and in their other place of meeting in Carrubber?s Close an autograph letter of King James VI., which hung framed and glazed over the old fireplace, was long one of its chief features. It was dated in 1594, and ran thus; but afew lines will suffice for a specimen :- ?Dekin and remanent Maisters and Brethren of the Tailyer Craft within oure burgh of Edinburgh, we g e t zow weilL ?Forsaemeikle as, respecting the gude service of AZexander MilZer, in making and working the abulzements of our awn person, minding to continue him in oure service, as ain maist fit and meit persone. We laitlie recommendit him into zow be oure letter of requiest, desiring you to receive and admit him gratis to the libertie and fredom of the said craft, as a thing maist requisite for him, having the a i r of our awin wark, notwithstanding that he was not prenteis amongk zow, according to your ancient liberties and priviliges had in the contraie. M?illing zow at this our requiest to dispense him thereanent, &c, JAMES R.? The king?s request was no doubt granted, and the Alexander Miller to whom it referred died in 1616, a reputable burgess, whose tomb in the Greyfriars? churchyard was inscribed thus by his heirs :- ?AZexundro Milka, Jorobi Mug. Brit. FY&, &c., Regis Sarion; adfiltrni vifre, frinrario, hmedes. F. C. *it annb 57, obiit Principis et Civium iauta decoratus, Anno 1616. Maii 2.??
Volume 2 Page 239
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