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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


270 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Stmt. were also struck some very small copper coins called pennies, worth one-twelfth of the sterling penny, inscribed, Nemo me imjun.? lamsit; but in those days the manufacture of coins was not confined to the capital alone. Balfour records that, in 1604, ? the Laird of Merchiston, General of the Cunyie House, went to London to treat with the English Commissioners anent the (new) cunyie, who, to the great amaLement of the English, carried his business with a great deal of dexterity and skill.? In the closing days of the Mint as an active establishment, the coining-house was in the ground floor of the building on the north side of the court; in the adjoining house on the east the coinage was polished and fitted for circulation. The chief instruments used were a hammer and steel dies, upon which the various devices were engraved. The metal being previously prepared of the proper fineness and thickness, was cut into longitudinal slips, and a square piece being cut from the slip, it was afterwards rounded and adjusted to the weight of the coin to be made. The blank pieces of metal were then placed between two dies, and the upper one struck with a hammer. After the Restoration another method was introduced at Gray?s Close-that of the mill and screw, which, modified with many improvements, is still in use. At the Union, the ceremony of destroying the dies of the Scottish coinage took place in the Mint. After being heated red hot in a furnace: they were defaced by three impressions of a punch, ?which were of course visible on the dies as long as they existed; but it must be recorded that all these implements, which would now have been great curiosities, are lost, and none of the machinery remains but the press, which, weighing about half a ton, was rather too large to be readily appropriated, otherwise it would have followed the rest.? The Scottish currency was, when abolished in 1707, of only one-twelfth the value sterling, and LIOO Scots equalled &3 6s. 8d. sterling; or LI Scots equalled IS. 8d. sterling. The merk was 13s. 4d. Scots, and the plack, z bodles, equal to 4d. Scots. The ancient key of the Mint is preserved, with some other relics of it, in the Scottish Antiquarian The goldsmiths connected with the Mint appear to have had apartments either within the quadrangle or in its immediate neighbourhood, and there is no doubt that it was the professional avocations of the great George Heriot that led to his obtaining the large tenement that formed the north d Museum. side of the Mint court which, during his lifetime, he conceived to be the most central and suitable place for the erection of his future hospital, and which he describes in his will (see the Appendix to Stevens? biography) as ?theis my tenements of landes, &c., lyacd on the south side of the King his High Streit thairof, betwixt the Cloise. or Venall, callit Gray?s Clois, or Coyne-hous Cloise, at the east, the Wynd or Venall, callit Todrig?s Wynd, at the west, and the said Cope-how Cloise at the south.? His tenements there were found to be ruinous, and every way unsuitable for the purpose for which they were designed by his executors, and the buildings which afterwards formed the north side of the quadrangle were those erected in the reign of Charles 11. in 1674. On the zznd of February, 1656, during the Protectorate of Cromwell, a committee was appointed by the Commissioners of the shire of Edinburgh, for the equalisation of the assessment, ?and for the more speedie effectuating thereof, the whole heritors, liferenters, woodsetters, and other persons whatsomever, liable in payment of cess,? were ordered to appear before the said committee, at the Judge Advocate?s lodging at foot of Gray?s Close, on certain forenoons in March, according to a paper in the SrotfisZ Liferary Magazine for The door to the floors above the coining-house in the Mint bore the letters ?C. R. II., God save the King, 1674.? Here was the lodging of Archibald ninth earl of -4rgyle, during his attendance on the Parliament, after Charles 11. had most unexpectedly restored him to his father?s title. Under date November zznd, 1681, only a few days after the escape of the Earl from the Castle, disguised as his stepdaughter?s page, Lord Fountainhall records that ?Joseph Brown and James Clark, having poinded the Earl of Argyle?s cabinet forth of the coin-house at Edinburgh, for a debt owing to them by the Earl?s bond, the said cabinet having been rescued from them by violence, they gave in a complaint to the Privy Council of the riotous deforcement.? In defeuce it was alleged that the Mint was a sanctuary, and no poinding could be enforced there. It was answered that it was unknown whether it was by law or usurpation that the Mint was an asylum, and that it could protect only those in the service of the King j ?? but to extend this to extraneous persons running in there to avoid captions, much less to secure goods and plenishing, &c., is absurd. They fearing the want of this, alleged that the wright who made it (the cabinet) retained 1819.
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High Street.] DR. CULLEN. 271 - it jure tan?io hyfotheca till he was paid the price of it.? The same house was, in the succeeding century, occupied by Dr. William Cullen, the eminent physician; while Lord Hailes lived in the more ancient lodging in the south portion of the Mint, prior to his removal to the modern house which he built for himself in New Street, Canongate. William Cullen was born in Lanarkshire, in 1710, and after passing in medicine at Glasgow, made several voyages as surgeon of a merchantman between London and the Antilles; but tiring of thesea, he took a country practice at Hamilton, and his luckily curing the duke of that name of an illness, secured him a patronage for the future, and after various changes, in 1756, on the death of Dr. Plummer, he took the vacant chair of chemistry in the University of Edinburgh. On the death of Dr. Piston he succeeded him as lecturer in materia medica, and three years afterwards resigned the chair of chemistry to his own pupil, Dr. Black, on being appointed professor of the theory of medicine. As a lecturer Dr. Cullen exercisedagreat influence over the state of opinion relative to the science of medicine, and successfully combated the specious doctrines of Boerhaave depending on the humoral pathology ; his own system was founded on the enlarged view of the principles of Frederick Hoffnian. The mere enumeration of his works on medicine would fill a page, but most of them were translated into nearly every European language. . He continued his practice as a physician as well as his medical lectures till a few months before his death, when the infirmities of age induced him to resign his professorship, and one of many addresses he received on that occasion was the following :- ? On the 8th of January, 1790, the Lord Provost, magistrates, and Council of Edinburgh, voted a piece of plate of fifty guineas of value to Dr. Cullen, as a testimony of their respect for his distinguished merits and abilities and his eminent services to the university during the period of thirty-four years, in which he has held an academical chair. On the plate was engraved an inscription expressive of the high sense the magistrates, as patrons of the university, had of the merit of the Professor, and of their esteem and regard.? Most honourable to him also were the resolutions passed on the 27th of January by the entire Senatus Academicus ; but he did not survive those honours long, as he died at his house in the Mint, on the 5th of February, 1790, in his eightieth year. By his wife-a Miss Johnston, who died there in 1786-he had a numerous family. One of his sons, Robert, entered at the Scottish Bar in 1764, and distinguishing himself highly as a lawyer, was raised to the bench in 1796, as Lord Cullen. He cultivated elegant literature, and contributed several papers of acknowledged talent to the Mirror and Lounger; but it was chiefly in the art of conversation that he shone. When a young man, and resident with his father in the Mint Close, he was famous for his power of mimicry. He was very intimate with Dr. Robertson, the historian, then Principal of the university. ?TO show that Robertson was not likely to be imitated it may be mentioned from the report of a gentleman who has often heard him making public orations, that when the students observed him pause for a word, and would themselves mentally supply it they invariably found that the word which he did use was different from that which they had hit upon. Cullen, however, could imitate him to the life, either in the more formal speeches, or in his ordinary discourse. He would often, in entering a house which the Principal was in the habit of visiting, assume his voice in the lobby and stair, and when arrived at the drawing-room door, astonish the family by turning out to be-Bob Cullen.? On the west side of the Mint were at one time the residences of Lord Belhaven, the Countess of Stair, Douglas of Cavers, and other distinguished tenants, including Andrew Pnngle, raised to the bench, as Lord Haining, in I 7 29. The main entrance to these lodgings, like that on the south, was by a stately flight of steps and a great doorway, furnished with an enormous knocker, and a beautiful example of its ancient predecessor, the nsp, or Scottish tirling-pin. The Edinhqh Courant of August 12,1708, has the following strange announcement :- ?I George Williamson, translator (i.e. cobbler) in Edinburgh, commonly known by the name of Bowed Geordie, who swims on face, back, or any posture, forwards or backwards, and performs all the antics that any swimmer can do, is willing to attend any gentlemen and to teach them to swim, or perform his antics for their divertisement : is to be found at Luckie Reid?s, at the foot of Gray?s Close, on the south side of the street, Edinburgh.? Elphinstone?s Court, in the close adjoining the Mint, was so namedfrom Sir James Elphinstone, who built it in 1679, and from whom the loftytenement therein passed to Sir Francis Scott of Thirlstane. The latter sold it to Patrick Wedderburn, who assumed the title of Lord Chesterhall on his elevation to the bench in 1755. His son, Alexander Wedderburc, afterwards Lord Loughborough, first Earl of Rosslyn, and Lord High Chancellor of
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