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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


High Street.] THE MAXWELLS OF MONREITH. 275 Theresa, and other royal and imperial personages, which had been presented as friendly memorials to the ambassador, have all been dispersed by the salesman?s hammer, and Hyndford?s Close, on my trying to get into it lately in 186P, was inaccessible (literally) from filth.? Another writer, in 1856, says in his report to the magistrates, ?that, with proper drainage, causeway, and cleanliness, it might be made quite respectable.? Prior to the Carmichaels of Hyndford it had been, for a time, the residence of the Earls of Stirling, the first of whom ruined himself in tEx colonisation of Nova Scotia, for which place he set sail with fourteen ships filled with emigrants and cattle in 1630. Here then, in this now humble but once most picturesque locality-for the house was singularly so, with its overhanging timber gables, its small court and garden sloping to the south-lived John third Earl of Hyndford, the living representative of a long line of warlike ancestors, including Sir John Carmichael of that ilk, who broke a spear with the Duke of Clarence at the battle of Bauge-en-Anjou, when the Scots routed the English, the Duke was slain, and Carmichael had added to his paternal arms a dexter hand and arm, holding a broken spear, In 1732 he was Lieutenant-Colonel of a company in the Scots Foot Guards, and was twice Commissioner to the General Assembly before 1740, and was Lord of Police in Scotland. In the following year, when Frederick the Great invaded Silesia, he was sent as plenipotentiary extraordinary to adjust the differences that occasioned the war, and at the conclusion of the Treaty of Breslau had the Order of the Thistle conferred upon him by George II., receiving at the same time a grant from Frederick, dated at Berlin, 30th September, 1742, for adding the eagle of Silesia to his paternal arms of Xyndford, with the motto Ex bene merifo. He was six years an ambassador at the Russian Court, and it wasbyhis able negociations that 30,000 Muscovite troops contributed to accelerate the peace which was concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle. These stimng events over, the year 1752 saw him leave his old abode in that narrow close off the High Street, to undertake a mission of the greatest importance to the Court of Vienna. On the death of Andrew Earl of Hyndford and Viscount Inglisberry, in r817, the title became extinct, but is claimed by a baronet of the name 01 Carmichael. The entry and stair on the west side of Hyndford?s Close was always a favourite residence, in consequence of the ready access to it from the High Street. In the beginning of the reign of George 111. here lived Lady Maxwell of Monreith, d e Magdalene Blair of that ilk, and there she educated and reared her three beautiful daughters-Catharine, Jane, and Eglantine (or Eglintoun, so named after the stately Countess Susanna who !ived in the Old Stamp Office Close), the first of whom became the wife of Fordyce of Aytoune, the second in 1767, Duchess of Gordon, and the third, Lady Wallace of Craigie. Their house had a dark passage, and in going to the dining-room the kitchen door was passed, according to an architectural custom, common in old Scottish and French houses; and such was the thrift and so cramped the accommodation in those times, that in this passage the laces and fineries of the three young beauties were hung to dry, while coarser garments were displayed from a window pole, in the fashion common to this day in the same localities for the convenience of the poor. ? So easy and familiar were the manners of the great, fabled to be so stiff and decorous,? says the author of ?Traditions of Edinburgh,? who must vouch for the story, ? that Mis,s Eglantine, afterwards Lady Wallace, used to be sent across the street to the Fountain Well for water to make tea. Lady Maxwell?s daughters were the wildest romps imaginable. An old gentleman who was their relation, told me that the first time he saw these beautiful girls was in the High Street, where Miss Jane, afterwards Duchess of Gordon, was riding upon a sow, which Miss Eglantine thumped lustily behind with a stick. It must be understood that in the middle of the eighteenth century vagrant swine went as commonly about the streets of Edinburgh a?s dogs do in our own day, and were more generally followed as pets by the children of the last generation. It may, however, be remarked, that the sows upon which the Duchess of Gordon and her witty sister rode when children, were not the common va,mnts of the High Street, but belonged to Peter Ramsay, of the inn in St. Mary?s Wynd, and were among the last that were permitted to roam abroad. The romps used to watch the animals as they were let loose in the forenoon in the stable yard (where they lived among the horse litter) and got upon their backs the moment they issued from the close.? Their eldest brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Maxwell, of the 74th Highlanders, commanded the grenadier companies of the army under Cornwallis in the war against Tippoo, and died in India in 1800. In the same stair with Lady Maxwell lived Anne Dalrymple, Countess of James firth Earl of Bal
Volume 2 Page 275
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