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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Leith Walk.] MCCULLOCH OF ARDWELL. ~ _ _ _ ofArdwell, a commissioner of the Scottish Customs, and a man famous in his time for hospitality, pleasantry, and wit, and known as a spouter of halfinjury to the new and?splendid one at Inverleith Row. Shrub Hill, the villa on a little eminence north. ward of the Botanical Gardens, in 1800 was the property of the dowager Lady Maxwell, and appears as such in the map of 1804. She was Lady Maxwell of Monreith, whose husband died in 1771, and whose second daughter Jane became Duchess of Gordon in 1767, The Leith Directory for 1811 gives Lady Nairn a residence in Pilrig Street, but she must have held this title through Scottish courtesy, as the attainted peerage was not restored by Act of Parliament till 17th June, 1824. She must have been Brabazon Wheeler, widow of Lieut.-Colonel John Nairn, who but for the attainder would have succeeded as fourth Lord Nairn. Pilrig Free Church, at the north corner of this street and Leith Walk, was built in 1861-2, and is in the early Decorated Gothic style, with a double transept, and has a handsome steeple 150 feet in height. The fine old but unused avenue of stately trees, that opened westward from the Walk to the old Manor House of Pilrig, has now given place to a street of workmen?s houses, named after the pro. prietor, Balfour Street, and lower down, near the bottom of the Walk, is Springfield Street, named , he may he is no mean hand at an epigram.? Ardwell came forward to apologise for his fun. ?My dear sir,? said Foote, ?no apology is nechaise with four horses from the Kh$s Arms Inn, at the same time that two strangers did so in another vehicle, and with difficulty amid the drifted snow they all reached the summit of Erickstane Brae, a lofty hill at the head of Clydesdale, along the side of which, above a most perilous declivity, the public road passes. ,Further progress being impossible, a consultation was held, and they all resolved to return to Moffat ; but, as wheeling the carriage round proved a dangerous operation, ? Wee Davie ? was wrapped up and laid on the snow till that was accomplished, and after reaching the inn Ardwell discovered that his two companions were Samuel Foote the cele. brated player and another favourite son of Thalia. On reaching the inn, Foote entered it in no good humour-as he walked with difficulty, having lost a leg-and ordered breakfast, while his luggage was taken off the chaise; and after this was done, he ?ound a written paper affixed to the panel. In some anger he demanded, ?What rascal has been placarding this ribaldry on my carriage I? Then pausing, however, he read the following lines :- ? While Boreas his flaky storm did guide, Deep covering every hill o?er Tweed and Clyde, The North-wind god spied travellers seeking way, Sternly he cried : ? Retun your steps, I say ; Let not OIK hot, ?tis my behest, urofane time.? It would appear that in the winter of 1774-5 Mr. McCulloch visited his country mansion of Ardwell (near Gatehouse in Kirkcudbright), which is still possessed by his descendants, in order to be present at an election, together with a friend named Mouat. After a week or two they set out on their return to Edinburgh, Mr. McCulloch bringing with him his infant son, familiarly known as ?Wee Davie,? and the trio, after quitting Dumfries, were compelled by a snowstorm to tarry at Moffat for the nighr Early next morning they departed in a occasion when afterwards at the Theatre Royal, he set apart a night or two for a social meeting with I McCulloch of Ardwell, at Springfield, on Leith Walk. ?In the parlour, on the right hand side in entering the house, the largest of the row,? says Chambers in 1869, ? Foote, the celebrated wit of the day, has frequently been associated with many Edinburgh and Leith worthies, when and where he was wont to keep the table in a roar.? McCulloch of Ardwell died in 1794 in his fiftythird year. ? Wee Davie? died thirty years afterwards at Cheltenham.
Volume 5 Page 163
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