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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


234 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. ~~ ~~ ~~~ ~ the evil passions indulged in by many, Hamilton draws the contrast thus :- U Unlike, 0 Eglintoun ! thy happy breast, Calm and serene, enjoys the heavenly guest ; From the tumultuous rule of passions freed, Pure in thy thought and spotless in thy deed ; In virtues rich, in goodness unconfined, Thou shin?st a fair example to thy kind ; Sincere and equal to thy neighbour?s name, How switl to praise ! how guiltless to defame ! Bold in thy presence bashfulness appears, And backward merit loses all its fears. Supremely blest by Heaven-Heaven?s richest grace Confest is thine, an early blooming race ; Whose pleasing smiles shall guardian wisdom arm, Divine instruction ! taught of thee to charm ; What transports shall they to thy soul impart (The conscious transports of a parent?s heart), When thou behold?st them of each grace possest, And sighing youths imploring to be blest ; After thy image formed, with charms like thine, Or in the visit, or the dance to shine! Thrice happy who succeed their mother?s praise, The lovely Eglintounes of other days.? Save Lady Frances, all her daughters were well married; but her eldest son, Earl Alexander, was her especial favourite. In his youth, she said, she preserved the goodness of his nature by keeping his mind pure and untainted, and giving him just ideas of moral life. She is said never to have refused him a request but once. On the accession of George 111. to the throne, the young earl was appointed one of the lords of the bedchamber. Proud of his stately mother and of her noble figure, he begged that she would walk in the procession zt his Majesty?s coronation ; but the Countess-a true Jacobite-excused herself, that she was too old to wear robes now. His melancholy death at the hands of Mungo Campbell, in 1769, well nigh overwhelmed her. Indeed, she never entirely recovered from the shock of seeing her beloved son borne home mortally wounded. During Dr. Johnson?s visit to her, it came out that she was mamed before he was born ; upon which she smartly and graciously said to him that she might have been his mother, and now adopted him ; and at parting she embraced him, a mark of affection and condescension which made a lasting impression upon the mind of the great literary bear. In 1780 she died at Auchans, at the age of ninety-one, preserving to the last her grandeur of mien and her marvellous purity of complexion, a mystery to all the women of her time, and the secret of which was said to be that she periodically bathed her face with sow?s milk/ ?? I have seen a portrait,? says Chambers, ?(taken in her eighty-first year, in which it is observable that her skin is of exquisite delicacy and tint. Altogether the Countess was a woman of ten thousand! . . . . One last trait maynow be recorded : in her ladyship?s bedroom was hung a portrait of her sovereign de jure, the ill-starred Charles Edward, so situated as to be the first object which met her sight on awaking in the morning.? With the state leve?es of the old Earl of Leven as High Commissioner at Fortune?s tavern the ancient glories of the Stamp Office Close faded away; but an unwonted spectacle was exhibited at the head thereof in 1812-a public execution. On the night of the 31st December, 1811, a band of young artisans and idlers, most of them under twenty years of age, but so numerous and so well organised as to set the regular police of the city at defiance, sallied forth, about eleven o?clock, into the streets, then crowded as usual at that festive season, and proceeded with bludgeons to knock down and rob every person of decent appearance who fell in their way-the least symptom on the part of the victims to resist, or protect their property, proving only a provocation to fresh outrages. These desperadoes had full possession of the streets till two in the morning, for the police, who at that period were wretchedly insufficient, w-ere rquted and dispersed from the commencement of the murderous riot. One watchman, who did his duty in a resolute manner, was killed on the spot ; a great number of persons were robbed, and a greater number dangerously, some mortally, wounded. When the police recovered from their surprise, assisted by several gentlemen, a number of the rioters were arrested, some with stolen articles in their possession, and the chief ringleaders were soon after discovered and taken into custody. Four were tried and convicted; and three of these young lads were sentenced to be hanged. The magistrates had them executed on the zznd of April, 181 2, on a gallows erected at the head of the Stamp Office Close, in order to mark more impressively the detestation of their crimes, and because that place had been the chief scene of the bloodshed during the riot. A small work entitled ?? Notes of Conversations,? with these young desperadoes, was afterwards published by the Reverend W. Innes. In 1821 the Stamp Office was removed from this close to the new buildings erected at Waterloo Place.
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Hih Street.] THE CROCHALLAN CLUB. 235 CHAPTER XXVII. THE HIGH STREET (rontinurd). The Anchor Close-Dawney Douglas?s Tavern-The ?? Crown Room?-The Cmchallan Club-Members-Burns among the Crochallan Fencibles -Smellie?s Printing Office-Dundas?s House, Fleshmarket Close-Mylne?s Square-Lord Alva?s House-The Conntes of Sutherland and Lady Glenorchy-Birthplace of Fergusson-Halkerston?s Wynd Port-Kinloch?s Close-Carmbbeh Close-?fie Episcopal Chapel-Clam Shell Land-Capt. Matthew Henderson-Allan Ramsay?s Theatre-Its later Tenants-The Tailor?s Hall-Bailie Fyfe?s Close-? Heave awa,? lads, I?m no deid yet ?-Chalmers? Close-Hope?s House-Sandiknd?s Close-Bishop Kennedy?s House-Grant?s C l o s e - h n Grant?s H o e . ONE of the most interesting of the many old alleys of the High Street (continuing still on the north side thereof) is the Anchor Close. A few yards down this dark and narrow thoroughfare bring us to the entrance of a scale-stair, having the legend, The Lord is 0714~ my svjwt; adjoining it is another and older door, inscribed 0. Lm?. in . tk . is. a(. my. traist; while an architrave bears a line? from a psalm, Be mmczjX to me, under which we enter what was of old the famous festive and hospitable tavern of Daniel, or, as he was familiarly named by the Hays, Erskines, Pleydells, and Crosbies, who were his customers, Dawney Douglas, an establishment second. to none in its time for convivial meetings, and noted for suppers of tripe, mince collops, rizzared haddocks, and fragrant hashes, that never cost more than sixpence a-head ; yet on charges so moderate Dawney Douglas and hisgudewife contrived to grow extremely rich before they died. Who caused the three holy legends to be carved, as in many other instances, no man knows, nor can one tell who resided here of old, except that it was in the seventeenth century the house of a senator entitled Lord Forglen. ? The frequenter of Douglas?s,?? we are told, ?? after ascending a few steps, found himself in a pretty large kitchen, through which numerous ineffable ministers of flame were continually flying about, while beside the door sat the landlady, a large, fat woman, in a towering head-dress and large-flowered silk gown, who bowed to every one passing. Most likely, on emerging from this igneous region, the party would fall into the hands of Dawney himself, and be conducted to an apartment.? He was a little, thin, weak, quiet, and submissive man ; in all things a contrast to his wife. Here met the famous club called the Crochallan Fencibles, which Bums has celebrated both in prose and verse, and to which he was introduced in 1787 by William Smellie, when in the city superintending the printing of his poems, and when, according to custom, one of the club was pitted against him in a contest of wit and humour. Burns bore the assault with perfect equanimity, and entered fully into the spirit of the meeting. Dawney Douglas knew a sweet old Gaelic song, called Cro Chalien,? or, Colin?s cattle, which he was wont to sing to his customers, and this led to . the establishment of the club, which, with jocular reference to the many Scottish corps then raising, was named the Crochallan Fencibles, composed entirely of men of original character and talent. Each member took some military title or ludicrous office. Amongst them was Smellie, the famous printer, and author of the ? Philosophy of Natural History.? Individuals committing an alleged fault were subjected to mock trials, in which those members who were advocates could display their wit; and as one member was the depute hngman cf the club, a little horse-play, with much mirth, at times prevailed. The song of ? Cro Chalien? had a legend connected therewith. Colin?s wife died very young, but some months after he had buried her she was occasionally seen in the gloaming, when spirits are supposed to appear, milking her cows as usual, and singing the plaintive song to which Bums must often have listened amid the orgies in the Anchor Close. In Dawney?s tavern the chief room was rather elegant and well-sized, having an access by the second of the doors described, iind was reserved for large companies or important guests. Pm exceZZeme, it was named the ? Crown Room,? and was thus distinguished to guests on their bill tops, from some foolish and unwarrantable tradition that Queen Mary had once been there, when the crown was deposited in a niche in the wall. It was handsomely panelled, with a decorated fireplace and two lofty windows that opened to the dose ; but all this has disappeared now, and new buildings erected in 1869 have replaced the old. Here, then, was Bums introduced to the jovial Crochallans, among whom were such men as Erskine, Lords Newton and Gillies, by Smellie the philosopher and printer who contested with Dr. Walker the chair of natural history in the University; and of one member, William Dunbar, W.S., ? Colonel of the club, a predominant wit, he has left us a characteristic picture :- Oh, he held to the fair, And buy some other ware ; The saut tear blin?t his ee ; Ye?re welcome hame to me I . ? Oh, rattlin? roarin? Willie, An? for to sell his fiddle, But parting wi? his fiddle, And rattlin?, roarin? Willie,
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