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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


254 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. where a curiously-carved fleur-de-lis surmounts the gable, a grotesque gurgoyle of antique form serves as a gutter to the roof.? Abbot Andrew Durie, who was nominated to the abbacy of Afelrose in 1526 by Tames V., resided here; and Knox assures us that his death was hastened by dismay and horror occasioned by the terrible uproar on St. Giles?s day, in 1558. The Close in earlier time took its name from the abbots of Melrose j but at a later period was called Rosehaugh?s Close, from Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, King?s Advocate during the reigns of Charles 11. and Tames II., author of many able works on Scottish law, and also a successful cultivator of general literature. He obtained a charter of the property from Provost Francis Kinloch and the magistrates in 1677, and the house he occupied still exists, and seems to have been a stately-enough edifice for its age. Sir George has still an unpleasant place in the local imagination of the Edinburgh people as ? The Bluidy Mackenzie,? the persecutor of the Covenanters; and though the friend of Dryden, and the founder of the first and greatest national library in Scotland, .he is regarded as a species of ogre in his native capital. The mausoleum in which he lies in the Greyfriars? Churchyard, a domed edifice with ornate Corinthian columns and niches, is believed by the urchins of the city to be haunted still, as it was commonly believed that his body could never rest in its grave. Hence it used to be deemed a ?brag? or feat, for a boy more courageous than his fellows to shout through the keyhole intd the dark and echoing tomb- ? Bluidy Mackenzie, come out if ye daur, Lift the sneck, and draw the bar ! ? after which defiance all fled, lest the summoned spirit might appear, and follow them. He had a country house, ten miles south of Edinburgh, called Shank, now in ruins. His granddaughter was Lady Anne Dick, of Corstorphine, whose eccentricities were wont to excite much attention in Edinburgh society, and who was the authoress of many droll pasquils, and personal pasquinades in verse, which created many enemies, who exulted in the follies of which she was guilty. Among the latter was a fancy for dressing herself like a gallant of the day, and going about the town at night in search of adventures and frolics, one of which ended unpleasantly in her being consigned to the City Guard House. In many of her verses she half-banteringly deplores the coldness of Sir Peter Murray of Balmanno, in Kincardineshire, but more, it is believed, from whim than actual fancy or regard. One begins thus :- ? Oh, wherefore did I cross the Forth, And leave my love behind me? Why did I venture to the north With one that did not mind me ? Had I but visited Carin, It would have been much better, Than pique the prudes and make a din For careless, cold Sir Peter ! <I I?m - anre I?ve seen a better limb, And twenty better faces ; But still my mind it ran on him When I was at the races; At night when we were at the ball Were many there discreeter ; The well-bred duke, and lively Maule, Panrnure behaved much better.? In conclusion, she expresses an opinion that she must be mad ? to follow cold Sir Peter.? She died in 1741. During a great part of the eighteenth century the ancient mansion in Rosehaugh?s Close was occupied by Alexander Fraser of Strichen, who was connected by marriage with the descendants of Sir George RIackenzie, and who gave to the alley the name it now bears, Strichen?s Close. He was raised to the bench as Lord Strichen, in 1730, and occupied a seat there and his residence in the close for forty-five years subsequent to that date, and was the direct ancestor of the present Lord Lovat in the peerage of Great Britain. The manners and habits of the people of Edinburgh in those days-say about 173o-were as different from those of their successors as if they had been the natives of a foreign country. From Carlyle?s ,Memoirs we learn that when gentlemen were invited to dine, each brought his own knife, fork, and spoon with him in a case (just as gentlemen did in France prior to the first Revolution), and a marked peculiarity of the period was a combination of showy and elegant costume with much simplicity, coarseness of thought, and roughness of speech, occasional courtesy, and great promptness to ire. Intercourse with France, and the service of so many Scottish gentlemen in the French army, !ed to a somewhat incongruous ingrafting of. French politeness on the homely manners? of the Scottish aristocracy; yet it was no uncommon thing for a lady to receive gentlemen, together with lady. visitors, in her bed-room, for then, within the walled city, the houses had few rooms without a bed, either openly or screened; while the seemliness and delicacy now attendant on marriages and births were almost unknown. The slender house accommodation in the turn
Volume 2 Page 254
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