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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


190 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Hart Street York Place he officiated there, until a severe illness in 1831 compelled him to relinquish all public duties, In ?Peter?s Letters? we are told that he possessed all the qualifications of a popular orator. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in the first year of its formation, and was the intimate friend of many of its most distinguished members, as he was of most of the men of genius and learning of his time in Scotland. His ?Essays on Taste? appeared first in 1790, since when it has passed through several editions, and has been translated into French. His theory of taste has met the approval of men of the highest genius in poetry, criticism, and art. He died, universally respected, on the 17th of May, 1839. St. George?s Episcopal chapel, built in 1794, stands on the south side of York Place. It was designed by Robert Adam, and is of no known style of architecture, and is every way hideous in conception and in detail. This dingy edifice cost North of the two streets we have described, and erected coeval with them, are Forth and Albany Streets. In No. 10 of the former street lived for years, , and died on the 27th of August, 1837, in his seventy-first year, George Watson, first president and founder of the Royal Scottish Academy, of whom an account has already been given in connection with that institution, as one of the most eminent artists of his time. In the same house also lived and died his third son, Smellie George Watson, RSA, a distinguished portrait painter, named from the family of his mother, who was Rebecca, eldest daughter of William Smellie, the learned and ingenious paintef and natural philosopher. In the little and obscure thoroughfare named Hart Street lived long one who enjoyed considerable reputation in his day, though well-nig; forgotten now: William Douglas, an eminent miniature painter, and the lineal descendant of the ancient line of Glenbervie. ? He received a useful education,? says his biographer, ?and was well acquainted with the dead and living languages From his infancy he displayed a taste for the fine arts. While yet a mere child he would leave his playfellows to their sports, to watch the effects of light and shade, and, creeping along the furrows of the fields, study the perspective of the ridges. This enabled him to excel as a landscape painter, and gave great beauty to his miniatures.? As aminiature painter he was liberally patronised by the upper ranks in Scotland and England, and his works are to be found in some of the finest L3,ooo. collections of both countries. In particular he was employed by the family of Buccleuch, and in 1817 was appointed Miniature Painter for Scotland to the Princess Charlotte, and Prince Leopold afterwards King of the Belgians. Prior to his removal to Hart Street he lived in No. 17 St. James?s Square, a common stair. He possessed genius, fancy, taste, and delicacy,, with a true enthusiasm for his art; and his social worth and private virtues were acknowledged by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. He had a vast fund of anecdote, and in his domestic relations was an affectionate husband, good father, and faithful friend. His constant engagements precluded his contributing to the exhibitions in Edinburgh, but his works frequently graced the walls of the Royal Academy at Somerset House. In a note attached to David Malloch?s ? Immortality of the Soul,? he says :-?? The author would take this opportunity of stating that if he has been at all successful in depicting any of the bolder features of Nature, this he in a great measure owes to the conversation of his respected friend, William Douglas, Esq., Edinburgh, who was no less a true poet than an eminent artist.? He died at his house in Hart Street on the 20th of January, 1832, leaving a daughter, Miss Ranisay Douglas, also an artist, and the inheritor of his peculiar grace and delicacy of touch. York Place being called from the king?s second son by his English title, Albany Street, by a natural sequence, was ndmed from the title of the second son of the king of Scotland. Albany Row it was called in the feuing advertisements in 1800, and for some twenty years after. In No. 2, which is now broken up and subdivided, lived John Playfau, Professor of Natural Philosophy in the University, z man of whom it has been said that he was cast in nature?s happiest mould, acute, clear, comprehensive, and having all the higher qualities of intellect combined and regulated by the most perfect good taste, being not less perfect in his moral than in his intellectual nature. He was a man every?way distinguished, respected, and beloved. When only eighteen years old he became a candidate in 1766 for the chair of mathematics in the Marischal College, Aberdeen, where, after a lengthened and very strict examination, only two out of six nval competitors were judged to have excelled him-these were, Dr. Trill, who was appointed to the chair, and Dr. Hamilton, who subsequently succeeded to it. He was the son of?the Rev. James Playfair, minister of Liff and Benvie, and upon the representation of Lord . .
Volume 3 Page 190
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