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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Leith Walk.] ANDREW MACDONALD. J 59 in whose favour, so long as she exercised her profession, she continued to hold the first place in spite of their temporary enthusiasm for the great London stars, who visited them at stated seasons. ? Our Mrs. Siddons? I frequently heard her called in Edinburgh, not at all with the idea of comparing her with the celebrated mother-in-law j but rather as expressing the kindly personal goodwill with which she was regarded by her own townsfolk who were proud and fond of her.? She was not a great actress, according to this writer, for she lacked versatility, or power of assumption in any part that was opposed to her nature or out of her power, and she was destitute of physical strength and weight for Shaksperian heroines generally; yet Rosalind, Viola, Imogen, and Label, had no sweeter exponents ; and in all pieces that turned on the tender, soft, and faithful Mary Stuart,?she gave an unrivalled impersonation.? On leaving Edinburgh, after 1830, she carried with her the good wishes of the entire people, ? for they had recognised in her not merely the accomplished actress, but the good mother, the refined lady, and the irreproachable member of society.? Northward of Windsor Street, in what was once a narrow, pleasant, and secluded path between thick hedgerows, called the Lovers? Loan, was built, in 1876, at a short distance from the railway station, the Leith Walk public school, at a cost of L9,ooo; it is in the Decorated Collegiate style, calculated to accommodate about 840 scholars, and is a good specimen of the Edinburgh Board schools. In the Lovers? Loan Greenside House was long the property and the summer residence of James Marshal, W.S., whose town residence was in Milne Square, so limited were the ideas of locomotion and exaggerated those of distance in the last century. He was born in 1731, says Kay?s Editor, and though an acute man of business, was one of the most profound swearers of his day, so much so that few could compete with him.? He died in the then sequestered house of Greenside in 1807. In the year 1802 the ground here was occupied by Barker?s ? famous panorama,? from Leicester Square, London, wherein were exhibited views of Dover, the Downs, and the coast of France, with the embarkation of troops, horse and foot, from ten till dusk, at one shilling a head, opposite the Botanical Garden. Lower down, where we now find Albert, Falshaw, and Buchanan Streets, the ground for more than twenty years was a garden nursery, long the feu of Messrs. Eagle and Henderson, some of whose advertisements as seedsfnen go back to nearly the middle of the last century. At the foot of the Walk there was born, in 1755, Andrew Macdonald, an ingenious but unfortunate dramatic and miscellaneous writer, whose father, George Donald, was a market-gardener there. He received the rudiments of his education in the Leith High School, and early indicated such literary talents, that his friends had sanguine hopes of his future eminence, and with a view to his becoming a minister of the Scottish Episcopal communion he studied at the University of Edinburgh, where he remained till the year 1775, when he was put into deacon?s orders by Bishop Forbes of Leith. On this account, at the suggestion of the latter, he prefixed the syllable Mac to his name. As there was no living for him vacant, he left his father?s cottage in Leith Walk to become a tutor in the family of Oliphant of Gask, after which he became pastor of an Episcopal congregation in Glasgow, and in 1772 published ?Velina, a Poetical Fragment,? which is said to have contained much genuine poetry, and was in the Spenserian stanza. His next essay was ?? The Independent,? which won him neither profit nor reputation ; but having written ?Vimonda, a Tragedy,? with a prologue by Henry Mackenzie, he came to Edinburgh, where it was put upon the boards, and where he vainly hoped to make? a living by his pen. It was received with great applause, but won him no advantage, as his literary friends now deserted him. Before leaving Glasgow he had taken a step which they deemed alike imprudent and degrading. ?This was his marrying the maid-servant of the house in which he lodged. His reception, therefore, on his return to Edinburgh from these friends and those of his acquaintances who participated in their feelings, had in it much to annoy and distress him, although no charge could be brought against the humble partner of his fortunes but the meanness of her condition.? Thus his literary prospects, so far as regarded Edinburgh, ended in total disappointment ; so, accompanied by his wife, he betook him to the greater centre of London. There the fame of ?Vimonda? had preceded him, and Colman brought it out with splendour to crowded houses in the years 1787 and 1788; and now poor Macdonald?s mind became radiant with hope of affluence and fame, and he had a pretty little residence at Brompton, then a sequestered place. He next engaged with much ardour upon an opera, but made his subsistence chiefly by writing satirical papers and poems for the newspapers, under the signature of ?Mathew Bramble.? At last this resource failed him, and he found himself *
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160 OLD -4ND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith Walk. on the verge of destitution ; and DIsraeli writes of him thus in his ? Calamities of Authors ? :- ?? It was one evening I saw a tall, famished, melancholy man enter a bookseller?s shop, his hat flapped over his eyes, his whole frame evidently feeble from exhaustion and utter misery. The bookseller inquired how he proceeded with his tragedy ? ? Do not talk to me about my tragedy I Do not talk to me about my tragedy! I have, indeed, more tragedy than I can bear at home,? was Now all the ground eastward of the Walk to the Easter Road is rapidly being covered by new streets, and the last of the green fields there has well-nigh disappeared, Between the North British Goods Station and Lorne Street the ground fronting the Walk belongs to the Governors of Heriot?s Hospital, while the ground between the latter and the Easter Road is the property of the Trinity Hospital. The ground in these districts has been feued at from A105 to Arzo per acre, for tene- GREENSIDE CHURCH, FROM LEOPOLD PLACE. his reply, and his voice faltered as he spoke. This man was ? Mathew Bramble ?-Macdonald, the author of ?Vimonda,? at that moment the writer of comic poetry ! ? D?Israeli then refers to his seven children, which, however, is an error, as he had but one child, whom, with his Wife, he left in utter indigence, whenafter the privations to which he had been subjected had a fatal effect on a naturally weak constitution- he died, in 1788, in the thirty-third year of his age. A volume of his sermons, published soon after his death, met with a favourable reception ; and in 1791 appeared his ?Miscellaneous Works,?in one volume, containing all his dramas, with ? Probationary Odes for the Laureateship,? and other pieces. ments four storeys in height, at an average value each of from A1,8oo to Az,ooo. Many of these streets are devoid of architectural features, and meant for the residence of artisans. The Heriot feus have tenements valued at from .&3,000 to A4,000, and contain houses of five and nine apartments, with ranges of commodious shops on the ground-floor. During the changes here the old bum of Greenside has also been dealt with; and instead of meandering, as heretofore, towards where of old the Lawer Quarry Holes lay-latterly in an offensive and muddy course-it is carried in a culvert, which will be turned to account as a main drain for the locality. In the map of 1804 the upper part of Leith. ?
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