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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


330 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Potterrow. ~~~ ~ very distinguished and accomplished circle, among whom David Hume, John Home, Lord Monboddo, and many other men of name, were frequently to be found.? Now she lies not far from Crichton Street, in the northeast corner of the old burying-ground of the Chapel 6f Ease; her tombstone is near the graves of the poet Blacklock and old Rector Adam of the High SchooL ? Except a mean street called Potterrow, and a very short one called Bristo, there were, till within these twelve years, hardly any buildings on the south side of the town,? says Arnot in 1779 ; and with these lines he briefly dismisses the entire history of one of the oldest thoroughfares in Edinburgh- the Eastern Portsburgh, which lies wholly to the eastward of Bristo Street, and may be described as comprehending the east side of that street from the Bristo Port southward, the Potterrow, Lothian and South College Streets, Drummond Street to opposite Adam Street, and Nicolson Street to nearly the entry to the York Hotel on the west, and to the Surgeons? Hall on the east. But jurisdictions had long ceased to be exercised in either of the Portsburghs by the baron or resident bailies; yet there are eight incorporated trades therein, who derive their rights from John Touris of Inverleith. In Edgar?s map the main street of the Potterrow is represented as- running, as it still does, straight south from the Potterrow Port in the city wall, adjacent to the buildings of the old college, its houses on the east overlooking the wide space of Lady Nicolson?s Park, between which and the west side of the Pleasance lay only a riding-school and some six or seven houses, surrounded by gardens and hedgerows. It has always been a quaint and narrow street, and the memorabilia thereof are full of interest. A great doorway on its western side, only recently removed, in I 870, measured six feet six inches wide, and was designed in heavy Italian rustic-work, with the date 1668, and must have given access to an edifice of considerable importance. In 1582 the Potterrow, together with the West Port, Restalrig, and other suburbs, was occupied by the armed companies of the Duke of Lennox, who, while feigning to have gone abroad, had a treasonable intention of seizing alike the palace of Holyrood and the city of Edinburgh ; but ? straitt watche,? says Calderwood, was keeped both in the toun and the abbey.? In November, r584, it was enacted by the Council that none of the inhabitants of the city, the Potterrow, West Port, Canongate, or Leith, ~~ ~~~~ ~~ harbour, stable, or lodge strangers, for dread of the plague, without reporting the same within an hour to the commissary within whose quarter or jurisdiction they dwell. In the year 1639 a gun foundry was established in the Potterrow to cast cannon for the first Covenanting war, by order of General Leslie. These guns were not exclusively metal. The greater part of the composition was leather, and they were fabricated under the eye of his old Swedish comrade, Sir Alexander Hamilton of the Red House, a younger son of the famous ?Tam 0? the Cow gate,? and did considerable execution when the English army was defeated at Newburnford, above Newcastle, on the 28th August, 1640. These cannon, which were familiarly known among the Scottish soldiers as ?Dear Sandie?s stoups,? were carried slung between two horses. About the same time, or soon after this period, witches and warlocks began to terrify the locality, and in 1643 a witch was discovered in the Potterrow- Agnes Fynnie, a small dealer in groceries, who was tried and condemned to be ?worried at the stake,? and then burned to ashes-a poor wretch, who seems to have had no other gifts from Satan than a fierce temper and a bitter tongue. Among the charges against her, the fifth was, while ?? scolding with Bettie Currie about the changing of a sixpence, which she alleged to be ill (bad), ye in great rage threatened that ye would make the devil take a bite of her.? The ninth is that, ?ye ending a compt with Isabel Atchesone, and because ye could not get all your unreasonable demands, ye bade the devil ride about the town with her and hers ; whereupon the next day she broke her leg by a fall from a horse, and ye came and saw her and said, ? See that ye say not I have bewitched ye, as the other neighbours say.? ? The eighteenth clause in her ditfuy is, ? that ye, having fallen into a controversie with Margaret Williamson, ye most outrageously wished the devil to blaw her blind; after which, she, by your sorcerie, took a grievous sickness, whereof she went blind.? The nineteenth is, ? for laying a madness on Andrew Wilson conform to your threating, wishing the devil to rivc fhe soul auf of him.? (Law?s ? Memorialls,? 1638-84.) At the utmost, this unfortunate creature had only been guilty of bad wishes towards certain neighbours, and if such had any sequel, it must have been through superstitious apprehensions. It is fairly presumable, says a writer, that while the community was so ignorant as to believe that malediction would have actively evil results, it would occasionally have these effects by its in- (? Privy Council Register.?)
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Pottemw.] JEAN BROWN. 331 BeAoZd a thing and how be- Togzfher B d In Unit& Hmu good it is, comitzg we2 m h ns k n ar io h e l . an unaristocratic quarter inay be inferred from the fact that, so lately as 1716, Robert, seventh Earl of Morton, a man who, Douglas says, ?was well versed in the knowledge of the antiquities of our country,? had his residence there ; and later still, in 1760, Archibald, Duke of Douglas, had a stately mansion, surrounded by extensive grounds, immediately on the west side of the Potterrow, near the north end of which was his carriage entrance, a gate within a recess, overlooked by the city wall. Lady Houston lived in the Potterrow in 1784. In the Diary of Lord Grange, we are told of Jean Brown, a woman in humble life, residing in the Potterrow in I 7 17, who had somecuriousexperiences, which, while reminding us of those of St. Teresa, the Castilian, the foundress of the Barefooted Carmelites, were not, singular to say, inconsistent with orthodox Presbyterianism. Being taken, together with Mr. Logan, the incumbent of Culross, to see this pious woman, at Lady Aytoun?s lodging behind the College, he found her to be between thirty and forty years of age ; when, having Conrmunion administered to her at Leith, in the October of that year, she had striven to dwell deeply on the thought of Christ and all His sufferings. Then she had a vision of Him extended on the cross and in His rocky sepulchre, ? as plainly as if she had been actually present when these things happened, though there was not any visible representation thereof made to her bodily eyes. She also got liberty to speak to Him, and asked several questions at Him, to which she got answers, as if one had spoken to her audibly, though there was no audible voice.? Lord Grange admits that all this was somewhat like delusion or enthusiasm, but deemed it far from him to say it was either. Being once at Communion in Kirkcaldy, a voice called to her, ?.Arise and eat; for thou hast a journey to make-a Jordan to pass through.? The latter proved to be the Firth of Forth, where she was upset in the water, but floated till rescued bpa boat. Lord Grange called frequently to see her at her little shop in the Potterrow, but usually found it so crowded 6th children buying her wares that his wishes were frustrated. ?Afterwards,? he states, ?I employed her husband (a shoemaker) to make some little things for me, mostly to give them business, and that I might thereby get opportunity now and then to talk with such as, I hope, are acquainted with the ways of God.? Middleton?s Entry, which opened westward off the Potterrow, was associated with another of Bums?s heroines, Miss Jean Lorimer, the flaxen-haired
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