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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Lauriston.] JOHN LAW OF LAURISTON. 111 tisement announces, ? that there was this day lodged in the High Council House, an old silver snuff-box, which was found upon the highway leading from Muttonhole to Cramond Bridge in the month of July last. Whoever can prove the property will get the box,.upon paying the expense incurred; and that if this is not done betwixt this and the roth of November next, the same will be sold for payment thereof.? . In the time of King David 11. a charter was given t9 John Tennand of the lands of Lauriston, with forty creels of peats in Cramond, in the county of Edinburgh, paying thirty-three shillings and fourpence to the Crown, and the same sum sterling to the Bishop of Dunkeld. The present Castle of Lauriston-which consisted, before it was embellished by the late Lord Rutherford, of a simple square three-storeyed tower, with two corbelled turrets, a remarkably large chimney, and some gableted windows-was built by Sir Archibald Kapier of Merchiston and Edenbellie, father of the philosopher, who, some years before his death, obtained a charter of the lands and meadow, called the King?s Meadow, 1?587-8 and of half the lands of ?& Lauranstoun,? 16th November, 1593. On two of the windows there yet remain his initials, S. A N., and those of his wife, D. E. M., Dame Elizabeth Mowbray, daughter of Mowbray of Banibougle, now called Dalmeny Park. Tie tower gave the title of Lord Launston to their son, Sir Alexander Napier, who became a Lord of Session in 1626. Towards the close of the same century the tower and estate became the property of Law, a wealthy gddsmith of Edinburgh, descended from the Laws of Lithrie, in Fifeshire ; and in the tower, it is said, his son John, the great financier, was born in April, 1671. There, too, the sister of the latter, Agnes, was married in 1685 to John Hamilton, Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, where she died in 1750. On his father?s death Law succeeded to Lauriston, but as he had been bred to no profession, and exhibited chiefly a great aptitude for calculation, he took to gambling. This led him into extravagances. He became deeply involved, but his mother paid his debts and obtained possession of the estate, which she immediately entailed. Tall, handsome, and addicted to gallantry, he became familiarly known as Beau Law in London, where he slew a young man named Wilson in a duel, and was found guilty of murder, but was pardoned by the Crown. An appeal being made against this pardon, he escaped from the King?s Bench, reached France, and through Holland returned to Scotland (Robertson?s Index.) in 1700, and in the following year published at Glasgow his ? Proposals and Reasons for Constituting a Council of Trade in Scotland.? He now went to France, where he obtained an introduction to the Duke of Orleans, and offered his banking scheme to the hfinister of Finance, who deemed it so dangerous that he served him with a police notice to quit Paris in twenty-four hours. Visiting Italy, he was in the same summary manner banished from Venice and Genoa as a daring adventurer. His success at play was always great; thus, when he returned to Pans during the Regency of Orleans, he was in the possession of &IOO,OOO sterling. On securing the patronage of the Regent, he received letters patent which, on the 2nd March, I 7 16, established his bank, with a capital of 1,200 shares of 500 livres each, which soon bore a premium. To this bank was annexed the famous Mississippi scheme, which was invested with the full sovereignty of Louisiana for planting co1onie.s and extending commerce-the grandest and most comprehensive scheme ever conceived-and rumour went that gold mines had been discovered of fabulous and mysterious value. The sanguine anticipations seemed to be realised, and for a time prosperity and wealth began to pre vail in France, where John Law was regarded as its good genius and deliverer from poverty. The house of Law in the Rue Quinquempoix, in Pans, was beset day and night by applicants, who blocked up the streets-peers, prelates, citizens, and artisans, even ladies of rank, all flocked to that temple of Plutus, till he was compelled to transfer his residence to the Place VendBme. Here again the prince of stockjobbers found himself overwhelmed by fresh multitudes clamouring for allotments, and having to shift his quarters once more, he purchased from the Prince de Carignan, at an enormous price, the HBtel de Soissons, in the spacious gardens of which he held his levees. It is related of him, that when in the zenith of his fame and wealth he was visited by John the ?great Euke of Argyle,? the latter found him busy writing. The duke never doubted but that the financier was engaged on some matter of the highest importance, as crowds of the first people of France were waiting impatiently an audience in the suites of ante-rooms, and the duke had to wait too, until &It. Law had finished his letter, which was merely one to his gardener at Lauriston regarding the planting of cabbages at a particular spot ! In 1720 he was made Comptroller-General ot the Finances, but the crash came at last. The amount of notes issued by Law?s bank more ?
Volume 5 Page 111
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