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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


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
Volume 2 Page 271
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