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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


162 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith Walk. Tience, he was appointed captain of the East New Town Company, and inaugurated his new service by fighting a duel with a Dr. Bennet, whom he wounded, the dispute having occurred about some Tepairs on the doctor?s chaise. ?He was,?? says Kay?s editor, ? a fine manly-looking person, rather florid in complexion, exceedingly polite in his manners, and of gentlemanly attainments.? He was treasurer of the city in 1795-6, and died at No. I, *Gayfield Square, in 1823. His son Archibald, born there, a High School boy, became physician to the Emperor Alexander of Russia in 1817 ; he was also physician to the Imperial Guard, was knighted by the Emperor, and paid a visit to his native city in 1823. He is refetred to in our .account of Princes Street. In a house on the west side of the square lived Kincaid Mackenzie, in 1818-9 ; previously he had resided in No. 14, Dundas Street. In 1817 he was elected Lord Provost ; and two years afterwards he .entertained at his house in the square, Prince Leopold, afterwards King of the Belgians, He died .suddenly, on the 2nd of January, 1830, when he was about to sit down to dinner. In the common stair, No. 31, Campbell of Barcaldine had a house in 1811, at which time the square was still called Gayfield Place. Lower down the Walk, on the same side, was the old Botanical Garden, the successor of the old Physic Garden that lay in the swampy valley of the North Loch, and the garden of Holyrood Palace. Dr. John Hope, the professor of botany, appointed in 1768, used every exertion to procure a more favourable situation for a garden than the old .one, and succeeded, about 1766, in obtaining such aid and countenance from Government as enabled him to accomplish the object he had so much at ?heart. *? His Majesty,? says Arnot, with laudable detail-Government grants being few for Scotland in those days-? was graciously pleased to grant the sum of jt;1,330 IS. 24d. for making it, and for its annual support A69 8s. ; at the same time the magistrates and Town Council granted the sum of ;Ezs annually for paying the rent of the ground.? The latter was five acres in extent, and the rapid progress it made as a garden was greatly owing to the skill and diligence of John Williamson, the head gardener. ?? The soil,? says Amot, ? is sandy .or gravelly.? Playfair, in his ? Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory,? says of this garden that its ground, ? after a thin covering is removed, consists entirely of sea-sand, very regularly stratified with layers of black carbonaceous matter in three lameke interposed between them. Shells, I believe, are rarely found in it ; but it has every other appearance of a sea-beach.? By 1780 it was richly stocked with trees to afford good shelter for young and tender plana. In the eastern division was the school of botany, containing 2,000 species of plants, systematically arranged, A German traveller, nanied Frank, who visited it in 1805, praised the order of the plants, and says, ?? among others I saw a beautiful Fe+a asafatida in full bloom. The gardens at Kew received their plants from this garden.? The latter was laid out under the immediate direction of Dr. Hope, who arranged the plants according to the system of Linneus, to whom, in 1778, he erected in the grounds a monument-a vase upon a pedestal-inscribed : LINNAEO POSUIT 10. HOPE. He built suitable hothouses, and formed a pond for the nourishment of aquatic plants. These were all in the western division of the ground. The conservatories were 140 feet long. Bruce of Kinnakd, the traveller, gave the professor a number of Abyssinian plant seeds, among them the plant which cured him of dysentery, In a small enclosure the industrious professor had a plantation of the true rhubarb, containing 3,000 plants. The greenhouse was covered by a dated roof, according to the Sots Magazine, in 1809 ; and as light was only admitted at the sides, the plants were naturally drawn towards them. ? To remedy this radical defect,? adds the writer, ? a glass roof is necessary. The soil of this garden is by no means good ; vast pains have been bestowed upon it to produce what has been done. The situation, which, at one period, may be admitted to have been favourable, is now indifferent, and is daily becoming worse, from the rapid encroachment of building, and the Hasfing effects of an iron-foundry on the opposite side of Leith Walk.? Some of the new walks here were laid out by Mr. John Mackay, said to be one of the most enthusiastic botanists and tasteful gardeners that Scotland had as then produced, and who died in 1802. In 1814, on the death of Dr. Roxburgh, he was succeeded as superintendent of this garden by Dr. Francis Buchanan, author of several works on India, where, in 1800, he was chosen to examine the state of the country which had been lately conquered from Tippoo Sahib; he had also been surgeon to the Marquis of Wellesley, then Governor-GeneraL He died in 1829, prior to which, as we have elsewhere related, this Botanical Garden had been abandoned, and all its plants removed without
Volume 5 Page 162
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