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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


the N ~ S , attracted by the dampness of the soil, where for ages the artificial loch lay. A few feet eastward of the tower there was found in the bank, in 1820, a large coffin of thick fir containing three skeletons, a male and two females, supposed to be those of a man named Sinclair and his two sisters, who were all drowned?in the loch in 1628 for a horrible crime. Eastward of this tower of the 15th century are the remains of a long, low archway, walled with rubble, but arched with well-hewn stones, popularly known as ?the lion?s den,? and which has evidently formed a portion of that secret escape or covered way from the Castle (which no Scottish fortress was ever without), the tradition concerning which is of general and very ancient belief; and this idea has been still further strengthened by the remains of a similar subterranean passage being found below Brown?s Close, on the Castle Hill. At the highest part of the latter stood the ancient barrier gate of 1450, separating the fortress from the city. This gate was temporarily replaced on the occasion of the visit of George IV, in 1822, and by an iron chuaux de fdse-to isolate the 82nd Regiment and garrison generally-during the prevalence of Asiatic cholera, ten years subsequently. There stood on the north side of the Castle Hill an ancient church, some vestiges of which were visible in Maitland?s time, in 1753, and which he supposed to have been dedicated to St, Andrew the patron of Scotland, and which he had seen referred to in a deed of gift of twenty merks yearly, Scottish money, to the Trinity altar therein, by Alexander Curor, Vicar of Livingstone, 20th December, 1488. In June, 1754, when some workmen were levelling this portion of the Castle Hill, they discovered a subterranean chamber, fourteen feet square, wherein lay a crowned image of the Virgin, hewn of very white stone, two brass altar candlesticks, some trinkets, and a few ancient Scottish and French coins. By several remains of burnt matter and two large cannon balls being also found there, this edifice was supposed to have been demolished durbg some of the sieges undergone by the Castle since the invention of artillery. Andin December, 1849, when the Castle Hill was being excavated for the new reservoir, several finely-carved stones were found in what was understood to be the foundation of this chapel or of Christ?s Church, which was commenced there in 1637, and had actually proceeded so far that Gordon of Rothiemay shows it in his map with a high-pointed spire, but it was abandoned, and its materials used in the erection of the present church at the Tron. Under all this were found those pre-historic human remains referred to in our first chapter. This was the site of the ancient water-house. It was not until ~ 6 2 1 that the citizens discovered the necessity for a regular supply of water beyond that which the public wells with their watef-carriers afforded. It cannot be supposed that the stagnant fluid of the north and south lochs could be fit for general use, yet, in 1583 and 1598, it was proposed to supply the city from the latter. Eleven years after the date above mentioned, Peter Brusche, a German engineer, contracted to supply the city with water from the lands of Comiston, in a leaden pipe of three inches? bore, for a gratuity of 650. By the year 1704 the increase of population rendered an additional supply from Liberton and the Pkntland Hills necessary. As years passed on the old water-house proved quite inadequate to the wants of the city. It was removed in 1849, and in its place now stands the great reservoir, by which old and new Edinburgh are alike supplied with water unexampled in purity, and drawn chiefly from an artificial lake in the Pentlands, nearly seven miles distant. On the outside it is only one storey in height, with a tower of 40 feet high; but within it has an area I 10 feet long, go broad, and 30 deep, containing two millions of gallons ofwater, which can be distributed through the entire city at the rate of 5,000 gallons per minute, Apart from the city, embosomed among treesand though lower down than this reservoir, yet perched high in air-upon the northern bank of the Esplanade, stands the little octagonal villa of Allan Ramsay, from the windows of which the poet would enjoy an extensive view of all the fields, farms, and tiny hamlets that lay beyond the loch below, with the vast panorama beyond-the Firth of Forth, with the hills of Fife and Stirling. ?The sober and industrious life of this exception to the race of poets having resulted in a small competency, he built this oddly-shaped house in his latter days, designing to enjoy in it the Horatian quiet he had so often eulogised in his verse. The story goes: says Chambers in his ?? Traditions,? ? that, showing it soon after to the clever Patrick Lord Elibank, with much fussy interest in its externals and accommodation, he remarked that the vyags were already at work on the subject-they likened it to a goosepie (owing to the roundness of the shape). ? Indeed, Allan,? said his lordship, ?now I see you in it I think the wags are not far wrong.? ? Ramsay, the author of the most perfect pastoral poem in the whole scope of British literature, and a song writer of great merit, was secretly a Jacobite, though a regular attendant in St. Giles?s Church. Opposed to the morose manners of his
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time, he delighted in music and the theatre, and it was his own advanced taste and spirit that led .him, in 1725, to open a circulating library for the diffusion of fiction among the citizens of the time. Three , years subsequently, in the narrow-minded spirit of the dark age ? of Edinburgh, the magistrates were moved to action, by the fear this new kind of reading might have on the minds of youth, and actually tried, but without effect, to put his library down. Among the leaders of these selfconstituted guardians of morality was Erskine Lord Grange, whose life was a scandal to the age. In I 736 Allan Ramsay?s passion for the drama prompted him to erect a theatre in Catrubber?s Close; but in the ensuing year the act for licensing the stage was passed, and the magistrates ordered the house to . be shut up. By this spetulation he lost a good deal of money, but it is remarked by his biographers that this was perhaps the only unfortunate project in which he ever engaged. His constant cheerfulness and great conversatibnal powers made him a favourite with all classes; and being fond of children he encouraged his three daughters to bring troops of young girls about his house, and in their sports he mingled with a vivacity singular in one of his years, and for them he was wont to make dolls and cradles with his own hands. In that house on the Castle bank he spent the last twelve years of a blameless life. He did not give up his shop-long the resort of all the wits of Edinburgh, the Hamiltons of Bangour, and Gilbertfield, Gay, and others-till 1755. He died in 1757, in his seventy-second year, and was buried in the Greyfriars Churchyard, where a tomb marks his grave. ?An elderly female told a friend of mine,? says Chambers, that she remembered, as a girl, living as an apprentice with a milliner in the Grassmarket, being sent to Ramsay Garden, to assist in making dead-clothes for the poet. She could recall, however, no particulars of the same, but the roses blooming in the deathchamber.? The house of the poet passed to his son, Allan, an eminent portrait painter, a man of high culture, and a favourite in those circles wherein Johnson and Boswell moved. He inherited considerable literary taste from his father, and was the founder of the ?? Select Society? of Edinburgh, in 1754, of which all the learned men there were members. By the interest of Lord Bute he was introduced . to George III., when Prince of Wales, whose portrait he painted. He enlarged the house his father built, and also raised the additional large edifices to the eastward, now known as Ramsay Gardens. The biographers of the painter always ,assert that he madearomantic marriage. In his youth, when teaching drawing to the daughters of Sir Alexander Lindesay, of Evelick, one of them fell in love with him, and as the consent of the parents was impossible then, they were secretly united in wedlock. He died at Dover in 1784, after which the property went to his son, General John Ramsay (latterly of the Chasseurs Bntanniques), who, at his death in 1845, left the property to Murrdy of Henderland, and so ended the line of the author of ?? The Gentle Shepherd.? Having thus described the locality of the Esplanade, we shall now relate a few of the temble episodes-apart from war and tumult-of which it has been the scene. In the reign of James V. the Master of Forbes was executed here for treason. He and his father had been warded in the Castle on that charge in 1536. By George Ear1,of Huntly, who bore a bitter animosity to the house of Forbes, the former had been accused of a design to take the life of the king, by shooting him with a hand-gun in Aberdeen, and also of being the chief instigator of the mutiny among the Scottish forces at Jedburgh, when on the march for England. Protesting his innocence, the Master boldly offered to maintain it in single combat against the earl, who gave a bond for 30,000 merks to make good his charge before the 3rst of July, 1537. But it was not until the 11th of the same month in the following year that the Master was brought to trial, before Argyle, the Lord Justice General, and Huntly failed not to make good his vaunt. Though the charges were barely proved, and the witnesses were far from exceptionable, the luckless Master of Forbes was sentenced by the Commissioners of Justiciary and fifteen other men of high rank to be hanged, drawn, beheaded, and dismembered as a traitor, on the Castle Hill, which was accordingly done, and his quarters were placed above the city gates. The judges are supposed to have been bribed by Huntly, and many of the jury, though of noble birth, were his hereditary enemies. His father, after a long confinement, and undergoing a tedious investigation, was released from the Castle. But a more terrible execution was soon to follow -that of Lady Jane Douglas, the young and beautiful widow of John Lord Glammis, who, with her second husband, Archibald Campbell of Skipness, her son the little Lord Glammis, and John Lyon an aged priest, were all committed prisoners to the Castle, on an absurd charge of seeking to compass the death of the king by poison and sorcery. cc Jane Douglas,? says a writer in ?Miscellanea Scotica,? ?( was the most renowned beauty in Britain
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