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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


26 OLD AND. NEW. EDINBURGH. [Cauongate. date over a doorway in it, this street had been in progress in 1768. At the head of the street, with its front windows overlooking the Canongate, is the house on the first floor of which was the residence of Mrs. Telfer of Scotstown, the sister of Tobias Smollett, who was her guest in 1766, on his second and last visit to his native country, and where, though in feeble health, he mixed with the best society of the capital,. the men and manners of which he so graphically portrays in his last novel, ? Humphrey Clinker,? a work in which fact and fiction are curiously biended, and in which he mentions that he owed an introduction into the literary circles to Dr. Carlyle, the well-known incumbent of Inveresk. Mrs. Telfer, though then a widow with moderate means, moved in good society. She has been described as a tall, sharp-visaged lady, with a hooked nose and a great partiality for whist. Her brother had then returned from that protracted Continental tour, the experiences of which are given in his (? Travels through France and Italy,? in twovolumes. The novelist has been described as a tall and handsome man, somewhat prone to satirical innuendo, but with a genuine vein of humour, polished manners, and great urbanity. On the latter Dr. Carlyle particularly dwefls, and refers to an occasion when Smollett supped in a tavern with himself, Hepburn of Keith, Home the author of ?? Douglas,? Commissioner Cardonel, and others. The beautiful ? Miss R-n,? with whom Jerry Milford is described as dancing at the hunters? ball, was the grand-daughter of Susannah Countess of Eglinton, whose daughter Lady Susan became the wife of Renton of Lamerton in the Merse. The wife of the novelist, Anne Lascelles, the Narcissa of ? Roderick Random,? was a pretty Creole lady, of a somewhat dark complexion, whom he left at his death nearly destitute in a foreign land, and for whom a benefit was procured at the old Theatre Royal in March, 1784, A sister of Miss Renton?s was parried to Smollett?s eldest nephew, Telfer, who inherited the family estate and assumed the name of Smollett She afterwards. became the Wife of Sharpe of Hoddam, and, ? strange to say, the lady whose bright eyes had flamed upon poor Smollett?s soul in the middle of the last century was living so lately as 1836.? The house in which Smollett resided with his sister in 1766 was also the residence, prior to 1788, of James Earl of Hopetoun, who in early life had served in the Scots Guards and fought at Minden, and of whom it was said that he ? maintained the dignity 2nd noble bearing of a Scottish baron with the humility of a Christian, esteeming the 7 religious character of his family to be its highest distinction. He was an indulgent landlord, a munificent benefactor to the poor, and a friend to all.? No. I St. John Street was the house of Sir- Charles Preston, Bart., of Valleyfield, renowned for his gallant defeqce of Fort St. John against the American general Montgomery, when major of the Cameronians. No. 3 was occupied by Lord Blantyre ; No. 5 by George Earl of Dalhousie, who. was Commissioner to the General Assembly from 1777 to 1782 ; No. 8 was the house of Andrew Carmichael the last Earl of Hyndford. In No. 10 resided James Ballantyne, the friend, partner, and confidant of Sir Walter Scott-when the Great Unknown-and it was the scene of those assemblies of select and favoured guests to whom ? the hospitable printer read snatches of the forthcoming novel, and whetted, while he seemed to gratify, their curiosity by many a shrewd wink and mysterious hint of confidential insight into the literary riddle of the age.? No. 10 must have been the scene of many a secret council connected with the publication of the Waverley Novels. Scott himself, Lockhart who so graphically describesthese scenes, Erskine, Terry, Sir Tlrilliam Allan,. George Hogarth, W.S. (Mrs. Ballantyne?s brother), and others, were frequent guests here. In this. house Mrs. Ballantyne died in 1829, and Ballantyne?sbrother John died there on the 16thof June, 1821. The house is now a Day Home for Destitute Children. In No. 13 dwelt Lord Monboddo and his beautiful daughter, who died prematurely of consumption at Braid on the 17th of June, 1790, and whom Burns-her father?s frequent guest there-describes so glowingly in his ?( Address to Edinburgh : ?- ?? Fair Burnet strikes the adoring eye, Heaven?s beauties on my fancy shine ; And own his work indeed divine ! ? I see the sire of Love on high, The fair girl?s early death he touchingly commemorates in a special ode. She was the ornament of the elegant society in which she moved; she was her old father?s pride and the comfort of his domestic life. Dr. Gregory, whom she is said to. have refused, also lived in St. John Street, as did Lady Suttie, Sinclair of Barrock, Sir David Rae, and Lord Eskgrove, one of the judges who tried the Reformers of 1793, a man of high ability and integrity. He removed thither from the old Assembly Close, and lived in St. John Street till his death in 1804. Among the residents there in 1784 were Sir John Dalrymple and Sir John Stewart of Allanbank,
Volume 3 Page 26
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