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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


where he spent many a jovial hour with Willie Xcol and Allan Masterton. ?? Three blyther lads? never gladdened the old place; and so associated did it become with Burns, that, according to a writer in the ?Year Book,? ?his name was assumed as its distinguishing and alluring cognomen. Until it was finally closed, it was visited nightly by many a party of jolly fellows. . . . . Few strangers omitted to call in to gaze upon the ? coftin ? of the bard-this was a small, dark room, which would barely accommodate, even by squeezing, half a dozen, but in which Burns used to sit. ROBERT GQURLAY?S HOUSE. Here he composed one or two of his best songs, and here were preserved to the last the identical seats and table which had accommodated him.? In his edition of Scottish songs published in 1829, five years before the demolition of the tavern, Chambers notes that in the ale-house was sung that sweetest of all Bums?s love songs :- ?I 0, poortith cauld, and restless love, Ye wreck my peace between ye ; Yet poortith a? I could forgie, An ?twere M for my Jeanie. ?I Oh, why should fate sic pleasure have, Life?s dearest bonds untwining ? Or why sae sweet a flower as love Depend on fortune?s shining? ? The moment the clock of St. Giles?s struck midnight not another cork would Johnnie Dowie draw. His unvarying reply to a fresh order was, ?Gentlemen, it is past twelve, and time to go home.? In the same corner where Burns sat Christopher North has alluded to his own pleasant meetings with Tom Campbell. A string of eleven verses in honour of his tavern were circulated among his customers by Dowie, who openly ascribed them to Bums. Two of these will suffice, as what was at least a good imitation of the poet?s style :- I( 0 Dowie?s ale ! thoa art the thing That gars us crack and gars us sing, Cast by our cares, our wants a? fling Thou e?en mak?st passion tak the wing, Frae us wi? anger ; Or thou wilt hang her. I? How blest is he wha has a groat, To spare upon the cheering pot ; He may look blythe as ony Scot Gie?s a? the like, but wi? a coat, ?Now these men are all gone,? wrote one, who, alas ! has followed them; ?their very habits are becoming matters of history, while, as for their evening haunt, the place which knew it once knows it no more, the new access to the Lawnmarket, by George IV. bridge, passing over the area where it stood.? Liberton?s Wynd is mentioned io far back as in a charter by James III., in 1477, and in a more subsequent time it was the last permanent place of execution, after the demolition of the old Tolbooth. Here at its head have scores of unhappy wretches looked their last upon the morning sun-the infamous Burke, whom we shall meet again, among them. The socket of the gallows-tree was removed, like many other objects of greater interest, in 1834. Before quitting this ancient alley we must not omit to note that therein, in the house of his father Dr. Josiah Mackenzie (who died in 1800) was born in August, 1745, Henry Mackenzie, author of the ?? Man of Feeling,? one of the most illustrious names connected with polite literature in Scotland. He was one of the most active members of the Mirror Club, which met sometimes at Clenheugh?s in Writers? Court; sometimes in Sonier?s, opposite the Guard-house in the High Street; sometimes in Stewart?s oyster-house, in the old
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Fanester?s Wynd.] THE ?MIRROR? CLUB. rzr i ?The Diurnal of Occurrents? records, that in 1566, John Sinclair, Bishop of Brechin, Dean of Restalrig, and Lord President of the College of Justice, died in Forrester?s Wynd, in the house of James Mossman, probably the same man who was a goldsmith in Edinburgh at that time, and whose father, also Jarnes Mossrnan, enclosed with the present four arches the crown of Scotland, by order of James V., when Henry VIII. closed the crown of England. In consequence of the houses being set on fire by the *Castle guns under Kirkaldy, in 1572, it was ordered that all the thatched houses between Beith?s J7ynd and St. Giles?s should be unroofed, and that all stacks of heather should be carried away from the streets Fleshmarket Close ; but oftener, perhaps, in Lucky Dunbar?s, a house situated in an alley that led between Liberton?s Wynd and that of Forrester?s Wynd. This Club commenced its publication of the Mirror in January, 1729, and terminated it in May, 1780. It was a folio sheet, published weekly at three-halfpence. The *Lounger, to which Lord Craig contributed largely, was commenced, by the staff of the Mirror, on the 6th ot February, 1785, and continued weekly till the 6th of January, 1787. paid to their morals, behaviour, and every branch of education.? In this quarter Turk?s Close, Carthrae?s, Forrester?s, and Beith?s Wynds, all stood on the slope between Liberton?s Wynd and St. Giles?s Church ; but every stone of these had been swept away many years before the great breach made by the new bridge was projected. Forrester?s Wynd occurs so often in local annals that it must have been a place of some consideration. JOHN DOWIE?S TAVERN. (Fs~m fk Engraving in How?$ YearBwk.?) Among the members of this literary Club were Mr. Alexander Abercrombie, afterwards Lord Abercrombie ; Lord Bannatyne ; Mr. George Home, Clerk of Session ; Gordon of Newhall ; and a Mr. George Ogilvie ; among their correspondents were Lord Hailes, Mr. Baron Hurne, Dr. Beattie, and many other eminent literary men of the time ; but of the IOI papers of the Lounger, fifty-seven are the production of Henry Mackenzie, including his general review of Burns?s poems, already referred to. In Liberton?s Wynd, we find from the Ediduygh Advertiser of 1783, that the Misses Preston, daughters of the late minister of Narkinch, had a boarding school for young ladies, whose parents ?may depend that the greatest attention will be 18
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