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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


York Place.] DR. ABERCROMBIE. 187 imagined, but can scarcely be described,? says the CaZedonian Mercury of the 18th March. ?? From eighty to a hundred persons, ladies as well as gentlemen, were precipitated in one mass into an apartment below, filled with china and articles of vertu. The cries and shrieks, intermingled with exclamations? and ejaculations of distress, were heartrending ; but what added to the unutterable agony of that awful moment, the density of the cloud of dust, impervious to the rays of light, produced total darkness, diffusing a choking atmosphere, which nearly stifled the terrified multitude, and in this state of suspense they remained several minutes.? Among the mass of people who went down with the floor were Lord Moncrieff, Sir James Riddell of Ardnam~rchan, and Sir Archi- . bald Campbell of Succoth. Many persons were most severely injured, and Mr. Smith, banker, of Moray Place, on whom the hearth-stone fell, was killed. . York Place, the continuation of this thoroughfare to Queen Street, is nearly all unchanged since it was built, and is broad and stately, with spacious and lofty houses, which were inhabited by Sir Henry Raeburn, Francis Homer, Dr. John Abercrombie, Dr. John Coldstream, Alexander Geddes, A.R.A., and other distinguished men. No. 10 was the abode of Lord Craig, the successor on the bench of Lord Hailes in 1792, and whose well-known attainments, and especially his connection with the Mirror and bunger, gave his name an honourable place among local notorieties. He was the cousin-german of the celebrated Mrs. McLehose, the Clarinda of Robert Burns, and to her he bequeathed an annuity, at his death, which occurred in 1813. His house was afterwards occupied by the gallant Admiral Sir David Milne, who, when a lieutenant,. took possession of the P i p e frigate, after her surrender to the Blanche, in the West Indies ; captured L z Seine,, in I 798, and Lu Vengeance, of 38 guns, in I 800, and who commanded the hprepable, in the attack on Algiers, when he was Rear-Admiral, and had 150 of his crew killed and wounded, as Brenton records in his ?Naval History.? He died a Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, and left a son, Sir Alexander Milne, also K.C.B., and Admiral, more than once commander of fleets, and who first went to sea with his father in the flag-ship hander, in 1817. Sir David died on board of a Granton steamer, when returning home, in 1845, and was buried at Inveresk. Doctor John Abercrombie, Physician to Her Majesty, lived in No. 19, and died there in 1844, aged 64. He was a distinguished consulting physician, and moral writer, born at Aberdeen, in 1781; F,RC.S. in 1823; and was author of ? Inquiries concerning the Intellectual Powers,? which has gone through many editions, ?The Philosophy of the Moral Feelings,? &c. His bust is in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. Concerning his death, the following curious story has found its way into print. A Mrs. M., a native of the West Indies, was at Blair Logie at the time of the demise of Dr. Abercrombie, with whom she had been very intimate. He died suddenly, without any previous indisposition, just as he was about to enter his carriage in York Place, at eleven o?clock on a Thursday morning. On the night between Thursday and Friday Mrs. M. dreamt that she saw the whole family of Dr. Abercrombie dressed entirely in white,dancing a solemn hneral dance, upon which she awoke, wondering that she should have dreamt anything so absurd, as it?was contrary to their custom to dance on any occasion. Immediately afterwards her maid came to tell her that she had seen Dr. Abercrombie reclining against a wall ?with his jaw fallen, and a livid countenance, mournfully shaking his head as he looked at her.? She passed the day in great uneasiness, and wrote to inquire for the Doctor, relating what had h i p pened, and expressing her conviction that he was dead, and her letter was seen by several persons in Edinburgh on the day of its amval. No. 22 was the house of Lord Newton, known as the wearer of ? Covington?s gown,? in memory of the patriotism and humanity displayed by the latter in defending the ?Jacobite prisoners on their trial at Carlisle in 1747. His judicial talents and social eccentricities formed the subject of many anecdotes. He participated largely in the bacchanalian propensities so prevalent among the legal men of his time, and was frequently known to put ?? three lang craigs ? (i.e. long-necked bottles of claret) ? under his belt ? after dinner, and thereafter dictate to his clerk a paper of more than skty pages. The MS. would then be sent to press, and the proofs be corrected next morning at the bar of the Inner House. He would often spend the whole night in con, vivial indulgence at the Crochallan Club, perhaps be driven home to York Place about seven in the morning, sleep for two hours, and be seated on the bench at the usual hour. The French traveller Simond relates his surprise ?on stepping one morning into the Parliament House to find in the dignified capacity and exhibiting all the dignified bearing of a judge, the very gentleman with whom he had just spent a night of debauch and parted from only one hour before, when both were excessively intoxicated.? .
Volume 3 Page 187
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