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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


9d OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Castle HX one going plump down a vent they set up a shout of joy. Sir David laughed, and entreated the father of the lads ?? not to be too angry ; he and his brother,? he added with some emotion, ?when CANNON BALL IN WALL OF nowE IN CASTLE KILL. living here at the same age, had indulged in precisely the same amusement, the chimneys then, as now, being so provokingly open to attacks, that there was no resisting the temptation.? From the Bairds of Newbyth the house passed to the Browns of Greenbank, and from them, Brown?s Close, where the modern entrance to it is situated, On the same side of the street Webster?s Close served to indicate the site of the house of Dr. Alexander Webster, appointed in 1737 to the Tolbooth church.. In his day one of the most popular men in the city, he was celebrated for his wit and socid qualities, and amusing stories are still told of his fondness for claret With the a s sistance of Dr. Wallace he matured his favourite scheme of a perpetual fund for the relief of widows and children of the clergy of the Scottish Church; and when, in 1745, Edinburgh was in possession of the Jacobite clans, he displayed a striking proof of his fearless character by employing all his eloquence and influence to retain the people in their loyalty to the house of Hanover. He had some pretension to the character of a poet, 2nd an amatory piece of his has been said to rival -the effusions of Catullus. It was written in allusion to his mamage with Mary Erskine. There is one wonderfully impassioned verse, in which, after describing a process of the imagination, by which ?he comes to think his innamarata a creature of more . derives its name. than mortal purity, he says that at length he clasps her to his bosom and discovers that she is but a woman after all ! ?? When I see thee, I love thee, but hearing adore, I wonder and think you a woman no more, Till mad with admiring, I cannot contain, And, kissing those lips, find you woman again ! ? He died in January, 1784. Eastward of this point stands a very handsome old tenement of great size and breadth, presenting a front of polished ashlar to the street, surmounted by dormer windows. Over the main entrance to Boswell?s Court (so named from a doctor who resided there about the close of the last century) there is a shield, and one of those pious legends so peculiar to most old houses in Scottish burghs. 0. LORD. IN. THE. IS. AL. MI. TRAIST. Andthis edifice uncorroborated tradition asserts to have been the mansion of the. Earls of Bothwell. A tall narrow tenement immediately to the west of the Assembly Hall forms the last ancient building on the south side of the street. It was built in 1740, by hfowbray of Castlewan, on the site of ? a venerable mansion belonging to the Countess Dowager of Hyndford (Elizabeth daughter of John Earl of Lauderdale), and from him it passed, about 1747, into the possession of William Earl of Dumfries, who served in the Scots Greys and Scots Guards, who was an aide de camp at the battle of Dettingen, and who succeeded his mother, Penelope, countess in her own right, and afterwards, by the death of his brother, as Earl of Stair. He was succeeded in it by his widow, who, within exactly a year and day of his death, married the Hon. Alexander Gordon (son of the Earl of Aberdeen), who, on his appointment to the bench in 1784, assumed the title of Lord Rockville. He was the last man of rank who inhabited this stately uld mansion ; but the narrow alley which gives?access to the court behind bore the name of Rockville Close. Within it, and towards the west there towered a tall substantial edifice once the residence of the Countess of Hyndford, and sold by her, in 1740, to Henry Bothwell of Glencome, last Lord Holyroodhouse, who died at his mansion in the Canongate in 1755. The corner of the street is now terminated by the magnificent hall built in 1842.3, at the cost of &16,000 for the accommodation of the General Assembly, which sits here annually in May, presided over by a Commissioner, who is always a Scottish nobleman, and resides in Holyrood Palace, where he holds royal state, and gives levCes in the gallery of the kings of Scotland. The octagonal
Volume 1 Page 90
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