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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV

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250 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Cowgate. CHAPTER XXXII. C0WGATE The South Side of the Street--The High School Wynd-? Claudero?-Robertson?s Close-House of the Bishops of Dnnkeld-Tomb of Gavin Douglas-Kuk-of-Field and College Wynd-House of the Earls of Queensberq-Robcrt Monteith-Oliver Goldsmith-Dr. Joseph Black -House in which Sir Walter Swtt was born-St. Petu?s Pad-House of Andro Symmi, the Printer, [email protected] Horse Wynd- Galloway House-Guthrie Stract-Tailors? Hall-French Ambassador?s Chapel and John Dickison?s House-Tam 0? the Cowgate and Jam- VI.-The Hammermen?s Land and Hall-Magdalenc Chapel-John Craig-A Glance at the Ancient Corporations-The Hammumen- Their Charter--Seal and Pmgress-The Cardin-First Strike in the Trade-Skinners and Furriers-Websters-Hat and Bonnetm a L e r s - F l e s h e r s - C w ~ o p e r s T a i l o r s C o n d k - m n L . PROCEEDING westward from the point we have left, the mutilated range of buildings on the south side, between George Heriot?s School (the site of the old Cowgate Port) and the foot of what was the High School Wynd, show fragments of what were, in their day, exceedingly picturesque old timber-fronted tenements, of a very early date, but which were far inferior in magnificence to the Mint which stood opposite to them This Wynd was originally a narrow and rather lonely road or path, that led towards the Dominican monastery, and westward to the house of the Kirk-of-Field. A finely-carved lintel, which surmounted the doorway of an antique range of tenements, is described by Wilson, as having been replaced over the entrance of a modem building erected on the same site in 1801. The inscription, he shows, cut in very unusual character, having in the centre a shield charged with a barrel, the device of its more recent occupant, a brewer, substituted for the armorial bearings of his predecessors :- AL. MY. TRIST . I - S. IN. YE. LORD. ?? We have found,? he adds, U on examining ancient charters and title-deeds refemng to property in the Cowgate, much greater difficulty in assigning the exact tenements referred to, from the absence of such marked and easily recognisable features as serve for a guide in the High Street and Canongate. All such evidence, however, tends to prove that the chief occupants of this ancient thoroughfare were eminent for rank and station, and their dwellings appear to have been chiefly in the front street, showing that, with patrician exclusiveness, traders were forbid to open their booths within its dignified precincts.? Latterly the High School Wynd was chiefly remarkable for the residence, in an old tenement at its foot, of an obscure local poet, whose real name was Tames Wilson, but whose num de plume was Claudero,? and who by his poetic effusions upon local subjects continued to eke out a precarious subsistence, frequently by furnishing sharp lampoons on his less gifted fellow-citizens. He latterly added to his income by keeping a little school, and by performing (? AaCf-merk marriages, an occupation which, no doubt, afforded him additional satisfaction, as he was thereby taking their legitimate duties out of the hands of his old enemies the clergy,? for Claudero, who was a cripple, is said to have been rendered so, in youth, by a merciless beating he received from ? the pastoral staff ? of the minister of his native parish, Cumbernauld, in Dumbartonshire. A satirist by profession, Claudero made himself a source of terror by his pungent wit, for in the Edinburgh of the eighteenth century there lived a number of wealthy old men who had realised large fortunes in questionable manners abroad, and whose characters, as they laboured under strange suspicions of the slave trade-even buccaneering perhaps-? were wonderfully suscep tible of Claudero?s satire ; and these, the wag,? we are told, ? used to bleed profusely and frequently, by working upon their fears of public notice.? In 1766 appeared his ?Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, by Claudero, son of Nimrod the mighty Hunter,? dedicated to the renowned Peter Williamson, ?from the other world.? In this volume are ?The Echo of the Royal Porch of Holyrood,? demolished in 1753 ; ?The last Speech and Dying Words of the Cross,I) executed, &c., ?for the horrid crime of being an encumbrance to the street ;? ? Scotland?s Tears over the Horrid Treatment of her Kings? Sepulchres ; ? ? A Sermon on the Condemnation of the Netherbow ; ? and other kindred subjects. With all his eccentricity, Claudero seems to have felt genuine disgust at the wanton destruction of many beautiful and historical edifices and monuments in Edinburgh, under the reckless fiat of a magistracy of the most tasteless age in British history-the epoch of George 111. In the year 1755 he was wandering about London, but returned to Edinburgh, where he lived for thirty years consecutively, and died in The wynd led straight up the slope to the old High School, which with its tower and spire stood on the east side of it Robertson?s Close adjoined it on the west-in 1647, a long and straight street, with lofty houses on both sides, and spacious 1789-
Volume 4 Page 250
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