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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


High Street.] STRICHEN?S CLOSE. 255 pike stairs compelled the use of taverns more than now. There the high-class advocate received his clients, and the physician his patients-each practitioner having his peculiar how$ There, too, gentlemen met in the evening for supper and conversation without much expense, a reckoning of a shilling being deemed a high one, so different then were the value of money and the price of viands. In 1720 an Edinburgh dealer advertises his liquors at the following prices :-? Neat claret wine at I Id., strong at 15d.; white wine at ~ z d . ; Rhenish at 16d.; old hock at zod., all per bottle; cherrysack at 28d. per pint; English ale at 4d. per bottle.? In those days it was not deemed derogatory for ladies of rank and position to join oyster parties in some of those ancient taverns; and while there was this freedom of manner on one hand, we are told there was much of gloom and moroseness on the other; a dread of the Deity with a fear of hell, and of the power of the devil, were the predominant feelings of religious people in the age subsequent to the Revolution; while it was thought, so says the author of ? I Domestic Annals ? (quoting Miss Mure?s invaluable Memoirs), a mark of atheistic tendencies to doubt witchcraft, or the reality of apparitions and the occasional vaticinative character of dreams. A country gentleman, writing in 1729, remarks on ?? the increase in the expense of housekeeping which he had seen going on during the past twenty years. While deeming it indisputable that Edinburgh was now much less populous.than before the Union, yet I am informed,? says he, ? that there is a greater consumption since than before the Union of all -provisions, especially fleshes and wheat. bread. The butcher owns that he now kills thret of every species for one he killed before the Union. . . . . Tea in the morning and tea in tht evening had now become established. There were more livery servants, and better dressed. and more horses than formerly.? Lord Strichen did not die in the house in thf close wherein he had dwelt so long, but at Stricher in Aberdeenshire, on the 15th January, 1775, ir his seventy-sixth year, leaving behind him the repu tation of an upright judge. ? Lord Strichen was i man not only honest, but highly generous; for after his succession to the family estates, he paic a large sum of debts contracted by his prede cessor, which he was not under any obligation tc pay.? One of the last residents of note in Strichen?! Close was Mr. John Grieve, a merchant in thc Royal Exchange, who held the office of Lorc ?rovost in 1782-3, and again in 1786-7, and who ras first a Town Councillor in 1765. When a nagistrate he was publicly horsewhipped by some r Edinburgh bucks ? of the day, for placing some emales of doubtful repute in the City Guard Xouse, under the care of the terrible Corporal ihon Dhu--an assault for which they were arrested .nd severely fined. The house he 6ccupied had an entrance from itrichen?s Close ; but was in reality one that beonged to the Regent hlorton, having an entrance rom the next street, named the Blackfriars Wynd. 3e afterwards removed to a house in Princes street, where he became one of the projectors of he Earthen Mound, which was long-as a mistake n the picturesque-justly stigmatised as the RIud Brig,? the east side of which was commenced a ittle to the eastward of the line of Hanover Street, ipposite to the door of Provost Grieve?s house, ong ago turned into a shop. John Dhu, the personage refTrred to, was a wellmown soldier of the C;ty Guard, mentioned by Sir Walter Scott as one of the fiercest-looking men he lad ever seen. ?That such an image of military violence should have been necessary at the close of :he eighteenth century to protect the peace of a British city,? says the editor of ?( Kay?s Portraits,? ?presents us with a strange contrast of what we lately were and what we have now become. On me occasion, about the time of the French Revolution, when the Town Guard had been signalising the King?s birthday by firing in the Parliament Square, being unusually pressed and insulted by the populace, this undaunted warrior turned upon one peculiarly outrageous member of the democracy, and, by one blow of his battle-axe, laid him lifeless on the causeway.? The old tenement, which occupied the ground between Strichen?s Close and the Blackfriars Wynd (prior to its destruction in the fire of zznd February, 18zj), and was at the head of the latter, was known as ?Lady Lovat?s Land.? It was seven storeys in height. There lived Primrose Campbell of Mamore, widow of Simon Lord Lovat, who was beheaded on Tower Hill in 1747, and there, 240 years before her time, dwelt Walter Chepman of Ewirland, who, with Miller, in 1507, under the munificent auspices of James IV., introduced the first printing press into Scotland, and on the basement of whose edifice a house of the Revolution period had been engrafted. Though his abode was here in the High Street, his printing-house was in the Cowgate, from whence, in 1508, ?The Knightly Tale of Golagras and Gawane ? was issued ; and this latter is supposed He died in 1803.
Volume 2 Page 255
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