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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


castle Street.] NUMBER THIRTY-NINE CASTLE STREET. 163 lived for a time James Grant of Corrimony, advocate, who had his town house in Mylne?s Court, Lawnmarket, in 1783. This gentleman, the representative of an old Inverness-shire family, was born in 1743, in the house of Commony in Urquhart, his mother being Jean Ogilvie, of the family of Findlater. His father, Alexander Grant, was induced by Lord Lovat to join Prince Charles, and taking part in the battle of Culloden, was wouiided in the thigh. The cave at Corrimony in which he hid after the battle, is still pointed out to tourists. His son was called to the bar in 1767, and at the time of his death, in 1835, he was the oldest member of the Faculty of Advocates. Being early distinguished for his liberal principles, he numbered among his friends the Hon. Henry Erskine, Sir James Macintosh, Francis Jeffrey, and many others eminent for position or attainments; In 1785 he published his ?? Essays on the Origin of Society,? Src j in 1813, ?Thoughts on the Origin and Descent of the Gael,? &c: works which, illustrated as they are by researches into ancient Greek, Latin, and Celtic literature, show him to have been a man of erudition, and are valuable contributions to the early history of the Celtic races. The next thoroughfare is Castle Street, so called from its proximity to the fortress. As the houses spread westward they gradually improved in external finish and internal decoration. By the French Revolutionary war, according to the author of ?Old Houses in Edinburgh,? writing in 1824, an immense accession of inhabitants of a better class were thrown into.the growing city, All the earlier buildings of the new town were rubble-work, nnd so simple were the ideas of the people at that time, ? that main doors (now so important) were not at all thought of, and many of the houses in Princes Street had only common stairs entering from the Mews Lane behind. But within the last twenty years a very different taste has arisen, and the dignity of a front door has become almost indispensable. The later buildings are, with few exceptions, of the finest ashlar-work, erected on a scale of magnificence said to be unequalled ; yet, it cannot be denied that here and there common stairs-a nuisance that seems to cling to the very nature of Edinburgh-have crept in. However, even that objection has in most cases been got over by an ingenious contrivance, which renders them accessible only to the occupants of the various flats,? it., the crank communicating from eabh, with the general entrance-door below-a feature altogether peculiar to Edinburgh and puzzling to all strangers. No. I Castle Street, now an hotel, was in 1811 he house of the first Lord Meadowbank, already .ererred to, who died in 1816. At the same time :he adjoining front door was occupied by the Hon. Miss Napier (daughter of Francis; seventh Lord Napier), who died unmarried in 18zc~. No. 16 ,vas the house of Skene of Rubislaw, the bosom iiend of Sir Walter Scott, and the last survivor of $e six particdar friends to whom he dedicated :he respective cantos of ? Marmion.? He possessed the Bible used by Charles I. on the scaffold, and which is described by Mr. Roach Smith in his ? Collectanea Antiqua.? Latterly Mr. Skene took up his residence at Oxford. pis house is now legal offices. About 1810 Lady Pringle of Stitchel occupied No. 20, at the corner of Rose Street. She was the daughter of Norman Macleod of Macleod, and widow of Sir James Pringle, Bar!., a lieutenantcolonel in the army, who died in 1809. At the opposite corner lived Mrs. Fraser of Strichen; and No. 27, now all sub-divided, was the residence of Robert Reed, architect to the king. No. 37, in 1830, was the house of Sir Duncan Cameron, Bart., of Fassifem, brother of the gallant Colonel Cameron who fell at Quatre Bras, and won a baronetcy for his family. And now we come to the most important house in New Edinburgh, No. 39, on the east side of the northern half of the street, in which Sir Walter Scott resided for twenty-six years prior to 1826, and in which the most brilliant of his works were written and he spent his happiest years, ?from the prime of life to its decline.? He considered himself, and was considered by those about him, as amassing a large fortune ; the annual profits of his novels alone had not been less than A;IO,OOO for several years. His den, or study, there is thus described by Lockhart :-? It had a single Venetian window, opening on a patch of turf not much Larger than itself, and the aspect of the place was sombrous. . . . A dozen volumes or so, needful for immediate purposes of reference, were placed close by him on a small movable form. All the rest were in their proper niches, and wherever a volume had been lent its room was occupied by a wooden block of the same size, having a card with the name of the borrower and date of the lending tacked on its front . . . The only table wasa massive piece of furniture which he had constructed on the model of one at Rokeby, with a desk and all its appurtenances on either side, that an arnanuensis might work opposite to him when he chose, with small tiers of drawers reaching all round to the floor. The top displayed a goodly array of session papers, and on the desk below were, besides the MS. at which he was working, proof-sheets and so
Volume 3 Page 163
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