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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


38 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [canomgate. IN the map of the city engraved in 1787 for the quarto edition of ? Arnot?s History ? there is shown, .on the west side of the Horse Wynd, adjoining the Abbey Close, an edifice called Lothian Hut, surbordered on madness, and, indeed, prior to her niarriage she had been confined in a strait-waistcoat. Her beauty has been celebrated coarsely by Pope, and her irrepressible temper by Prior :- ? Thus Kitty, beautiful and young, And wild as colt untarncd, Bespoke the fair from whom she sprung, By little rage inflamed: Inflamed with rage at sad restraint, Which wise mamma ordained ; And sorely vexed to play the saint Whilst wit and beauty reigned.? After the duke and duchess had embroiled themselves with the Court in 1729, in consequence of patronising the poet Gay, they came to Queensberry House, and brought himwith them. Tradition used to indicate an attic in an old mansion opposite, as the place where-appropriate abode of a poet- Gay wrote the ? Beggar?s Opera ?-? an entirely gratuitous assumption,? says Mr. Chambers. I? In the history of his writings nothing of consequence occurs at this time. He had finished the second part of the opera some time before, and after his return to the south he is found engaged in new writing a damned play, which he wrote several years before, called ? The Wife of Bath,? a task which he accomplished while living with the Duke of Queensberry in Oxfordshire, during the ensuing months of August, September, and October.? The Duchess Catharine disliked the Scots and their manners, particularly the use of a knife in lieu of a fork, on which she would scream out and beseech them not to cut their throats. ?To the lady I live with,? wrote Gay to Swift in 1729, ?I o ve my life and fortune. Think of her with respect, value and esteem her as I do, and never more despise a fork with three prongs.? When in Scotland she always dressed herself as a peasant-girl, to ridicule the stately dresses and demeanour of the Scottish dames who visited Queensberry House or Drumlanrig, and this freak of costume led to her being roughly repelled at a review. Her eldest rounded by trees. This was the small but magnificently finished town mansion of the Lothian family, and was built by William, the third Marquis, about the year 1750, when Lord Clerk Register Qf son, the Earl of Drurnlanrig, was altogether mad, and contracted himself to one lady while he married another, a daughter of the Earl of Hopetoun. He served two campaigns under the Earl of Stair, and commanded two battalions of Scots in the Dutch service. But in 1754 the family malady proved so strong for him, that during a journey to London he rode on before the coach in which the duchess travelled, and shot himself with one of his pistols. It was given out that it had gone off by accident His brother Charles, after narrowly escaping the earthquake at Lisbon in 1755, died in the following year. On the death of their father, in 1778, the titp and estates devolved on his cousin, the Earl of March, an old debauchee, better known as ? Old Q.? In his time, and before it, Queensberry House had other occupants than the Douglases. In 1747 the famous Marshal Earl of Stair died there; and in 1784 it was the residence of the Right Hon. James Montgomery of Stanhop, Lord Chief Baron of Exchequer-the first Scotsman who held that office after the establishment of the Court at the Union. Prior to his removal to Queensberry House (of which the duke gave him gratuitous use) he had occupied the third flat of the Bishop?s Land, formerly occupied by the Lord President Dundas. In 1801 the blast! ?? Old Q. ? ordered Queensberry House to be stripped of its decorations, and sold. With fifty-eight fire rooms, and a noble gallery seventy feet long, besides a spacious garden, it was offered at the singularly low upset price of A900, and was bought by Government as a barrack. It is now, and has been since 1853, a House of Refuge for the Destitute, in which upwards of 12,000 persons are relieved every year, or an average of thirty-three nightly for the twelvemonth, while during the same period nearly 40,000 meals of broth and bread are issued from the soup kitchen. A very handsome building, in baronial style, called Queensberry Lodge, adjoins it, for the reception and treatment of inebriates-but ladies only.
Volume 3 Page 38
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