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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Abbeyhill.] BARON NORTON. I27 CHAPTER XIII. THE DISTRICT OF RESTALRIG. Abhey Hill-Baron Norton-Alex. Campbell and ? Albyn?s Anthology ?--Comely Gardens-Easter Road-St. Margaret?s Well-Church and Legend of St. Triduana-Made Collegiate by James 111.-The Mausoleum-Old Bardns of Restalrig-pe Logans, &c.-Conflict of Black Saturday-Residents of Note-First Balloon in Britain-Rector Adams-The Nisbets of Craigantinnie and Dean-The Millers- The Craieantinnie Tomb and Marbles-The Marionville Traeedv-The Hamlet of Jock?o Lodge-Mail-bag Robberies in seventeenth and - _ eighteenth centuries-Piershill House and Barracks. AT the Abbey Hill, an old house-in that antiquated but once fashionable suburb, which grew up in the vicinity of the palace of Holyrood-with groups of venerable trees around it, which are now, like itself, all swept away to make room for the present Abbeyhill station and railway to Leith, there lived long the Hon. Fletcher Norton, appointed one of the Barons of the Scottish Exchequer in 1776, with a salary of &2,865 per annum, deemed a handsome income in those days. He was the second son of Fletcher Norton of Grantley in Yorkshire, who was Attorney-General of England in 1762, and was elevated to the British peerage in 1782, as Lord Grantley. He came to Scotland at a time when prejudices then against England and Englishmen were strong and deep, for the rancour excited by the affair of 1745, about thirty years before, was revived by the periodical publication of the Nhth Briton, but Baron Norton soon won the regard of all who knew him. His conduct as a judge increased the respect which his behaviour in private life obtained, His perspicacity easily discovered the true merits of any cause before him, while his dignified and conciliatory manner, joined to the universal confidence which prevailed in his rigid impartiality, reconciled to him even those who suffered by such verdicts as were given against them in consequence of his charges to the juries. He married in 1793 a Scottish lady, a Miss Balmain, and in the Edinburgh society of his time stood high in the estimation of all, ?as a husband, father, friend, and master,? according to a print of 1820. ? His fund of information-of anecdotes admirably told-his social disposition, and the gentlemanly pleasantness of his manner, made his society to be universally coveted. Resentment had no place in his bosom. He seemed almost insensible to injury so immediately did he pardon it. Amongst his various pensioners were several who had shown marked ingratitude ; but distress, with him, covered every offence against himself.? He was a warm patron of the amiable and enthusiastic, but somewhat luckless Alexander Campbell, author of ? The Grampians Desolate,? which ?fell dead ? from the press, and editor of ? Albyn?s Anthology,? who writes thus in the preface to the first volume of that book in 1816, and which, we may mention, was a ? collection of melodies and local poetry peculiar to Scotland and the isles ? :- ? So far back as the year 1780, while as yet the editor of ?Albyn?s Anthology? was an organist to one of the Episcopal chapels in Edinburgh, he projected the present work. Finding but small encouragement at that period, and his attention being directed to pursuits of quite a different nature, the plan was dropped, till by an accidental turn of conversation at a gentleman?s table, the Hon. Fletcher Norton gave a spur to the speculation now in its career. He with that warmth of benevolence peculiarly his own, offered his influence with the Royal Highland Society of Scotland, of which he is a member of long standing, and in conformity with the zeal he has uniformly manifested for everything connected with the distinction and prosperity of our ancient realm, on the editor giving him a rough outline of the present undertaking, the Hon. Baron put it into the hands of Henry Mackenzie, Esq., of the Exchequer, and Lord Bannatyne, whose influence in the society is deservedly great. And immediately on Mr. Mackenzie laying it before a select committee for music, John H. Forbes, Esq. (afterwards Lord Medwyn), as convener of the committee, convened it, and the result was a recommendation to the society at large, who embraced the project cordially, voted a sum to enable the editor to pursue his plan ; and forthwith he set out on a tour through the Highlands and western islands. Having performed a journey (in pursuit of materials for the present work) of between eleven and twelve hundred miles, in which he collected 191 specimens of melodies and Gaelic vocal poetry, he returned to Edinburgh, and laid the fruits of his gleanings before the society, who were pleased to honour with their approbation his success in attempting to collect and preserve the perishing remains of what is so closely interwoven with the history and literature of Scot!and.? From thenceforth the ?? Anthology? was a success, and a second volume appeared in 1818. Under the influence of Baron Norton, Campbell got many able contributors, among whom appear the names of Scott, Hogg, Mrs. Grant of Laggan, RIaturin, and Jamieson.
Volume 5 Page 127
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