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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


Bristo Streei.1 THE DARIEN SCHEME. 323 C H A P T E R XXXVIIP. BRISTO AND THE POTTERROW. Bristo Street-The Darien House-The Earl of Roaebery-Old Charity Workhouse-A Strike in 176441d GeorgeInn-U. P. Church- Dr. Peddie -Sir Walter Scott?s First School-The General?s Entry and the Dalrymplcs of Stair-Burns and Clarinda-Crichton Street- Alison Rutherford of Famielee-The Eastern Portsburgh-The Dukeof Lennox Men-The Plague-The Covenanters? GunFoundry- A Witch-A Contumacious Barber-Tailors? Hall-Story of Jean Brown-Duke of Douglas?s How-Thomas Cpmpbcll the Poet -Earl of Murray?s House-Charles Street and Field. THOSE who see Forrest Road now-a broad and handsome thoroughfare-can form no conception of the features of its locality for more than a hundred years before 1850. A great archway, in a modern addition to the city wall, led from the Bristo Port by a winding pathway, a hundred yards long, and bordered by trees to a wicket, or klinket.gate, in the city wall, opposite the centre walk of the meadows. On its west side rose the enormous mass of the dd Charity Workhouse, with a strong box at its gate, inscribed, 44 He that giveth unto the poor lendeth unto the Lord,? and having an orifice, wherein the charitable passer might drop a coin. On its east side were the ancient offices of the Darien Company, the Correction House, and Bedlam, to which another pathway diverged south-eastward from before the Workhouse gate. On the east and south rose the mass of the embattled city wall, black with smoke and years, and tufted with grass. A group of mansions of vast antiquity, their dark chimneys studded by glistening oyster-shells, were on the west side of the Bristo Port, the name ofwhich is still retained by two or three houses of modern construction. In 1647 the whole of the area referred to here was an open grass park of oblong form, about 250 paces long by 200 broad, according to Gordon?s map. Till lately the west side of Bristo Street, from the Port to Teviot Row, was entirely composed of the dead angle of the city wall, Immediately within this, facing the south, stood the office of the Darien Company, a two-storeyed and substantial edifice, built of polished freestone, with the high-pitched roof that came into fashion with William of Orange ; but till the last it was a melancholy and desolate memorial of that unfortunate enterprise.? A row of eight arched niches were along its upper storey, but never held busts in them, though intended for such. This edifice was built in 1698, as an ornamental tablet above the main entrance bore, together with a sundial, and within, a broad flight of handsome stairs, guarded by balustrades, led to the first floor. Here, then, was transacted the business of that grand national project, the Darien Expedition, formed for establishing a settlement on the isthmus of that name, and fitting out?ships to trade with Africa and the Indies. By this the highest an. ticipations were raised; the then large sum of ~400,000 was subscribed, and an armed expedition sailed from Scotland for the new settlement. Apart from people of all ranks who were subscribers to this scheme, we may mention that the Faculty of Advocates, the Merchant Company of Edinburgh, with Sir Robert Christie the Provost, the Cities of Edinburgh and Perth, joined it as communities ; but meanwhile, the furious denunciations of the English Parliament proved a thorough discouragement to the project in London, and nearly the whole of the stockholders there silently withdrew from it. Under the same influence the merchants of Hamburg were induced to withdraw their support and co-operation, leaving Scotland to work out her own plans by, herself. She proceeded to do so with a courage to be admired.? (? Dom. Ann.,? Vol. 111.) The house described was built, and schemes for trade With Greenland, Archangel, and the Gold Coast, were considered, and, under the glow of a new and great national object, all the old feuds and antipathies of Covenanter and Cavalier were forgotten, till pressure from without crushed the whole enterprise. When intelligence reached Edinburgh that the company had planted the Scottish flag on Darien, formed Fort St. Andred and successfully repulsed the Spaniards, who were urged to the attack by William of Orange, thanksgivings were offered up in St. Giles?s and all the other churches; the city was illuminated ; but the mob further testified their joy by seizing all the ports, setting fire to the Tolbooth door, and liberating all the prisoners incarcerated there for issuing seditious prints against the king and the English Court No less vehement was the fury of the populace on the destruction of this national enterprise, than their joy at its first brief success. The Tolbooth was again forced, the windows of all adherents of King Williiam were broken, and such rage was exhibited, that his commissioner and the officers
Volume 4 Page 323
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