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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


82 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [North Loch. whose windows perhaps the accident occurred ?that the fox will not set his foot on the ict after Candlenias, especially in the heat of the sun as this was, at two o?clock; and at any time tht fox is so sagacious as to lay his ear on the icf to see if it be frozen to the bottom, or if he heal the murmuring and current of the water.? In I 7 I 5, when the magistrates took measures foi the defence of the city, the sluice of the loch was completely dammed up to let the water rise, a pre. caution omitted by their successors in 1745. Ir Edgar?s plan, twenty years later, the bed of thc loch is shown as ?? now devised,? measuring 1,70c feet in length, from the foot of Xamsay Garden tc the foot of Halkerston?s Wynd, and 400 feet broad at the foot of the gardens below the Advocate?s Close. From the upper point to the West Church the bed is shown as ?bog or marsh.? ? Yet many in common with myself,? says Chambers, ?must remember the by no means distant time when the remains of this sheet oi water, consisting of a few pools, served as an ex. cellent sliding and skating ground in winter, while their neglected, grass-grown precincts too fre quently formed an arena whereon the high and mighty quarrels of the Old and New Town cowZie3 were brought to lapidarian arbitration j ? and until a very recent period woodcocks, snipe, and waterducks used to frequent the lower part of the West Princes Street Gardens, attracted by the damp oi the locality. ?? The site of the North Loch,? says a writer in the Edinburgh Magazine for 1790, ?is disgusting below as well as above the bridge, and the balus trades of the east side ought to be filled up like those of the west, as they are only meant to show a beautiful stream, not slaughter-houses.? The statute for the improvement of the valley westward of the mound was not passed until 1816 ; but Lord Cockburn describes it as being then an impassable fetid marsh, ?open on all sides, the Teceptacle of many sewers, and seemingly of all the worried cats, drowned dogs, and blackguardism of the city, Its abomination made it so solitary that the volunteers used to practise ball-firing across it. The men stood on its north side, and the targets were set up along the lower edge of the castle hiil, or rock. The only difficulty was in getting across the swamp to place and examine the targets, which could only be done in very dry weather and at one or two places.? In the maps of 1798 a ?new mound? would seem to have been projected across it, at an angle, from South Castle Street to the Ferry Road, by the western base of the castle rock-a design, fortunately, never carried out. One of the greatest mistakes committed as a matter of taste was the erection of the Earthen Mound across the beautiful valley of the loch, from the end of Hanover Street to a point at the west end of Bank Street. It is simply an elongated hill, like a huge railway embankment, a clumsy, enormous, and unreniovzble substitute for a bridge which should have been there, and its creation has been deplored by every topographical writer on Edinburgh. Huge as the mass is, it originated in a very accidental operation. When the bed of the loch was in a state of marsh, a shopkeeper, Mr. George Boyd, clothier, at Gosford?s Close, in the old town, was frequently led from business or curiosity to visit the rising buildings of the new, and accommodated himself with ?? steps ? across this marsh, and he was followed in the construction of this path by other persons similarly situated, who contributed their quota of stone or plank to fill up, widen, and heighten what, in rude compliment to the founder, was becoming known as ?Geordie Boyd?s Mud Brig.? The inconvenience arising from the want of a direct communication between the old town and the new began to be seriously felt about 1781, when the latter had been built as far west as Hanover Street. Hence a number of residents, chiefly near the Lawnmarket, held a meeting in a small publichouse, kept by a man called Robert nunn, and called in burlesque, ?Dunn?s Hotel,? after a lashionable hotel of that name in Princes Street, and subscriptions were opened to effect a communication of some kind ; but few were required, zs Provost Grieve, who resided at the corner of Hanover Street, in order to fill up a quarry before his house, obtained leave to have the rubbish from the foundations of the various new streets laid down there. From that time the progress of the Mound proceeded with iapidity, and from 1781 till 1830 augmentations to its breadth and height were continually made, till it became the mighty mass it is. By the latter date the Mound had bezome levelled and macadamised, its sides sown with grass, and in various ways embellished so as to issume the appearance of being completed. It is ipwards of 800 feet in length, on the north upwards if 60 feet in height, and on the south about IOO feet. [ts breadth is proportionally much greater than its ieight, averaging about 300 feet. It is computed :o contain more than z,ooo,ooo of cartloads of ravelled edrth, and on the moderate supposition :hat each load, if paid for, was worth Gd., must iave cost the large sum of ~ 5 0 , 0 0 0 . It was first enclosed by rough stone walls, and
Volume 3 Page 82
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