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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


exasperated people. In the days of its declension, the Darien House was abandoned to the uses of a lunatic asylum for the paupers of the adjoining workhouse. South of it stood a square edifice, which was latterly used for the same purpose. In the early part of the eighteenth century this was the mansion house of a wealthy quaker, named Buntin (or Bontein), whose THE CHARITY WORKHOUSE, 1820. (Afrrr SfOrCr) occupied by several blocks of new buildings, in making the excavations for which the labourers found that nearly the whole area had been an ancient and forgotten cemetery, the bones and coffins in which lay at an average depth of six feet below the surface. The first Merchant Maiden Hospital was built in 1707, on the east side of Bristo Street ; and in Mally." To see her leave the meeting-house in the Pleasance, all the bucks and gay fellows of the city were wont to crowd ; but from her father's house, at Bristo (in its last years a dispensary), she eloped with Mr. Craig, the minister of Currie, in the churchyard of which her tombstone still remains. To this latter house, as a Bedlam, a peculiarly melancholy interest attached, as it was there that Robert Fergusson, the iil-fated poet, died a raving lunatic in his twenty-fourth year, in 1774, after a contusion received by a fall down-stairs; and when his last hours came, his piteous shrieks for his "mother" often rang out upon the night. This house was removed,about the same time as the living in Denham's Land, in the same thoroughfare. This peer was one who carried the follies and fantastic vices of the age to such an extravagant length as led people to doubt his sanity. During the lifetime of his father, Earl Archibald, he had been frequently a debtor in the Tolbooth, and on the 28th January, 1726, was incarcerated there for " deforcement, not, and spulzie." In 1739 there occurs in the public journals a singular advertisement, issued by this ornament to the Scottish peerage, relative to the elopement of one Polly Rich, who had been engaged by him for a year. She is described as being about eighteen five feet six inches high, '' fine-shap'd, blue-ey'd, with black hair or nut-brown; all her linnen or
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THE OLD WORKHOUSE. 325 Bristo Street.] cambrick ? bears the earl?s coronet above his initial R. Three guineas? reward was offered for any one who would return Polly ?to her owner,? either at John?s Coffee House, ?or the Earl of Rosebeme at Denham?s Land, Bristow, and no questions will be asked. She is a London girl, and what they call a Cockney.? There are in the advertisement a great many arguments and inducements used by the earl to induce the fair was a park called Forglens Park, upon part of which the New Bridge is built,? says a writer in 1775, ?and the rest feued out by the magistrates to different persons, upon which there are now many good houses erected This park used to pay AI o yearly.? At midsummer, in 1743, this house was opened for the reception of the poor, who were employed according to their ability, and allowed twopence DARIEN HOUSE, 1750. one to return, and the whole are wound up by the following elegant couplet :- ? My Lord desires Polly Rich, To mind on Lord Roseberrie?s dear little Fish.? (Scottish/ournal, Vol. I.) Westward of Bristo Street, in the large open field described, there was erected in 1743 the Workhouse. It was four storeys in height, very spacious, but plain, massive, and dingy, with a pedimented or gabled centre, whereat hung a huge bell, and in which there were three tall arched windows of the chapel or hall. It stood zoo feet south-west of the Bristo Port, on a part of the ground then denominated the High Riggs, and the expense of the edifice was defrayed by the voluntary contributions of the inhabitants ; and for its use, ?among other subjects, out of every shilling they earned. The annual expense of maintaining each person in those days amounted to A4 IOS., and was defrayed by a tax of two per cent. on the valued rents of the city, the dues of the dead, or the passing bell, burial warrants, green turfs, half the profits of the Ladies? Assembly Room, the collections at the church doors, and other voluntary contributions. It was early proposed to establish a permanent poor rate, but this was opposed by the members of the College of Justice, on the plea that they were not liable to local burdens. The number maintained in this now defunct edifice from the 1st of January, 1777, to the 1st of January, 1778, was only 484 adults, of both sexes, of whom 52 died; 180 children, of whom
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