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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


? CLARINDA.? 327 Bristo Strht.] pointed out by Sir Walter himself to the late Dr. Robert Chambers. In 1792 Mr. Luckmore was appointed one of the four English masters of the High School on the city?s establishment, and continued to hold that office till his death, in 181 I. Sir Walter Scott, on leaving his school in Hamilton?s Entry, was placed under the domestic tutelage of Mr. James French, who prepared him to join Mr. Luke Fraser?s second class at the High School, in October, 1779. Another interesting locality in Bristo Street, at its junction with the Potterrow, was long known as the General?s Entry, No. 58, thoughhow it exists but in name. This was a desolate-looking court of ancient buildings. The south and east sides of the quadrangle were formed by somewhat ornate edifices. The crowstepped gable at the south-east angle bore an antique sun-dial, with the quaint legendand beyond this was a row of circular-headed dormer windows, in the richly decorated style of James VI, One of these bore a shield, charged with a monkey and three mullets-in-chief, surrounded by elaborate scroll-work of the same reign and bearing the initials J.D. Unvarying tradition has assigned this mansion to General Monk as a residence while commanding in Scotland, but there is not much probability to support it. The house was furnished with numerous out-shots and projections, dark, broad, and bulky stacks of chimneys, reared in unusual places, all blackened by age and encrusted by the smoke of centuries. It is said to have been built by Six James Dalrymple, afterwards first Viscount Stair, one of the Breda Cammissioners, and who continued his practice at the bar with great reputation afte1 the battles of Dunbar and Worcester. That he was a particular favourite with General Monk, and even with Cromwell, to whom the former recommended him as the fittest person foi the bench in 1657, is well known; and under such circumstances, it may be supposed ?that Monk would be his frequent visitor when he came from his quarters at Dalkeith to the capital. Tradition has assigned the house as the permanent residence in those days of the Commander of the Forces in Scotland. But there is sufficient proof that it was the town abode of the Stair family, till, like the rest of the Scottish nobility, they abandoned Edinburgh, after the Treaty of Union. ? I t is not unlikely,? says Wilson, ?? that the present name oj the old court is derived from the more recen! residence there of John, second Earl of Stair, wha served during the protracted campaigns of the ? WE SHALL DIE ALL ; ? Duke of Marlborough, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general after. the bloody victory of Malplaquet. He shared in the fall of the great duke, and retired from Court until the accession of George I., during which interval it is probable that the family mansion in the Potterrow formed the frequent abode of the disgraced favourite.? But Generalk Entry is perhaps now most intimately associated with one of Burns?s heroines, Mrs. McLehose, the romantic Clarinda of the notorious correspondence, in which the poet figured as Sylvander. He was introduced to her in the house of a Miss Nimmo, on the first floor of an old tenement on the north side of Alison Square. A little parlour, a bed-room, and kitchen, accord. ding to Chambers, constituted the accommodation of Mrs. Agnes McLehose, ?now the residence of two, if not three, families in the extreme of humble life.? In December, 1787, Burns met at a tea-party this lady, then a married woman of great beauty, about his own age, and who, with her two children, had been deserted by a worthless husband. She had wit, could use her pen, had read ? Werther? and his sorrows, was sociable and fl.irty, and possessed a voluptuous lovelines% if we may judge by the silhouette of her in Scott Douglas?s edition of thepoet?s works. She and Burns took afancy to each other on the instant. She invited him to tea, but he offered a visit instead. An accident confined him for about a month to his room, and this led to the famous Clarinda and Sylvander correspondence. At about the fifth or sixth exchange of their letters she wrote: ? I t is really curious, so much fun passing hetween two persons who saw each other only once.? During the few months of his fascination for this fair one in General?s Entry, Bums showed more of his real self, perhaps, than can be traced in other parts of his published correspondence. In his first letter to her after his marriage, he says, in reply to her sentimental reproaches, ?? When you call over the scenes that have passed between us, you will survey the conduct of an honest man struggling successfully with temptations the most powerful that ever beset humanity, and preserving untainted honour in situations where the severest virtue would have forgiven a fall.? But had Clarinda been less accessible, she might habze discovered eventually that much of the poet?s warmth *as fanciful and melodramatic. From their correspondence it would appear that she was in expectation of Bums visiting her again in Alison Square in 1788. She was the cousin-german of Lord Craig, who,
Volume 4 Page 327
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