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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


238 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. other, Willielmina, became the wife of John Lord Glenorchy. The fate of the Earl of Sutherland, and of his countess, whose beauty excited the admiration of all at the coronation of George III., was a very cloudy one. In frolicking with their first-born, a daughter, the earl let the infant drop, and it sustained injuries from which it never recovered, and the event had so serious an effect on his mind, that he resorted to Bath, where he died of a malignant fever. For twenty-one days the countess, then about to have a babe again, attended him unremittingly, till she too caught the distemper, and predeceased him by a few days, in her twenty-sixth year. Her death was sedulously concealed from him, yet the day before he expired, when delirium passed away, he said, I am going to join my dear Wife,? as if his mind had already begun to penetrate the veil that hangs between this world and the next. In one grave in Holyrood, near the north-east corner of the ruined chapel, the remains of this ill-fated couple were laid, on the 9th of August, 1766. Lady Glenorchy, a woman remarkable for the piety of her disposition, was far from happy in her marriage j but we are told that she met with her rich reward, even iii this world, for she enjoyed the applause of the wealthy and the blessings of the poor, with that supreme of all pleasures-the conviction that the eternal welfare of those in whose fate she was chiefly interested was forwarded by her precepts and example.? In after years, the Earl of Hopetoun, when acting as Royal Commissioner to the General Assembly, was wont to hold his state levees in the house that had been Lord Alva?s. To the east of hfylne?s Square stood some old alleys which were demolished to make way for the North Bridge, one of the greatest local undertakings of the eighteenth century. One of these alleys was known as the Cap and Feather Close, immediately above Halkerston?s Wynd. The lands that formed the east side of the latter were remaining in some places almost intact till about 1850. In one of these, but which it was impossible to say, was born on the 5th of September, 1750, that luckless but gifted child of genius, Robert Fergusson, the poet, whose father was then a clerk in the British Linen Company; but even the site of his house, which has peculiar claims on the interest of every lover of Scottish poetry, cannot be indicated. How Halkerston?s Wynd obtained its name we have already told. Here was an outlet from the ancient city byway of a dam or dyke across the loch, to which Lord Fountainhall refers in a case dated zIst February, 1708. About twenty years before that time it would appear that the Town Council ?had opened a new port at the foot of Halkerston?s Wynd for the convenience of those who went on foot to Leith; and that Robert Malloch, having acquired some lands on the other side of the North Loch, and made yards and built houses thereon, and also having invited sundry weavers and other good tradesmen to set up on Moutree?s Hill [site of the Register House], and the deacons of crafts finding this prejudicial to them, and contrary to the 154th Act of Parliament, I 592,?? evading which, these craftsmen paid neither scot, lot, nor stent,? the magistrates closed up the port, and a law plea ensued between them and the enterprising Robert Malloch, who was accused of filling up a portion of the bank of the loch with soil from a quarry. ?The town, on the other hand, did stop the vent and passage over the loch, which made it overtlow and drown Robert?s new acquired ground, of which he complained as an act of oppression.? Eventually the magistrates asserted that the loch was wholly theirs, and ?( that therefore he could drain no part of it, especially to make it regorge and inundate on their side. The Lords were going to take trial by examining the witnesses, but the magistrates prevented it, by opening the said port of their own accord, without abiding an order, and let the sluice run,? by which, of course, the access by the gate was rendered useless. Kinloch?s Close adjoined Halkerston?s Wynd, and therein, till about 1830, stood a handsome old substantial tenement, the origin and early occupants of which were all unknown. A mass of curious and abutting projections, the result of its peculiar site, it had a finely-carved entrance door, with the legend, Peir. God. in . Luzy., 1595, and the initials I. W., and the arms of the surname of Williamson, together with a remarkable device, a saltire, from the centre of which rose a crosssymbol of passion. Passing Allan Ramsay?s old shop, a narrow bend gives us access to Carrubber?s Close, the last stronghold of the faithful Jacobites after 1688. Episcopacy was abolished in 1689, and although from that period episcopal clergymen had no legal provision or settlement, they were permitted, without molestation, to preach in meeting-houses till I 746 ; but as they derived no emolument from Government, and no provision from the State, they did not, says Arnot, perplex their consciences with voluminous and unnecessary oaths, but merely excluded
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High Street.] CARRUBBER?S CLOSE. 239 the name of ? the Hanoverian usurpers ? from all their devotions. But the humble chapels with which these old Scottish Episcopalians contented themselves in Carrubber?s Close, Skinner?s Close, and elsewhere, present a wonderful contrast? to their St. Paul?s and St. Mary?s in the Edinburgh of to-day. In this close was the house of Robert Ainslie?s master, during Burns?s visit to Edinburgh, Mr. Samuel Mitchelson, a great musical amateur ; and here it was that occurred the famous ?Haggis Scene,?described by Smollett in ?Humphrey Clinker.? At the table of Mitchelson the poet was a frequent guest, while on another floor of the old Clam Shell Land, as it was named, dwelt another friend of Burns?s, the elder Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, prior to his removal to the New Town. On the second floor of an ancient stone land at the head .of the close dwelt Captain Matthew Henderson, a well-known antiquary, a gentleman of agreeable and dignified manners, who was a hero of Minden, and .a member of the Crochallan Club, and dined constactly at Fortune?s tavern. He died in 1789, and Bums wrote a powerful elegy on him as ? a gentleman who held the patent for his honours immediately from Almighty God.? ? I loved the man much, and have not flattered his memory,? said Burns in a note to the elegy, which contains sixteen verses. The old captain was one whom all men liked. ? In our travelling party,? says Sir James Campbell of Ardkinglas in his (suppressed) Memoirs, ? was Matthew Henderson, then (I 759) and afterwards well known and much esteemed in the town of Edinburgh, at that time an officer in the 25th Regiment of Foot, and, like myself, on his way to join the army; and I may say with truth, that in the course of a long life I have never known a more estimable character than Matthew Henderson.? This close was the scene of the unsuccessful speculation of another poet, for here Allan Ramsay made a bold attempt to establish his theatre, which was roughly closed by the magistrates in 1737, after it had been barely opened, for which he took a poet?s vengeance in rhyme in the GenlZmn?s Magazine. The edifice, which stood at the foot of the close, was quizzically named st. Andrew?s Chapel, and in 1773 was the arena for the debates of a famous speculative club named the Pantheon. Five years subsequently Hind Dr. Moyes, the clever lecturer on natural philosophy, held forth therein to audiences both fashionable and select, on optics, the property?of light, and so forth. It was afterwards occupied by Mr. John Barclay, founder of the Bereans, whose chief tenet was, that the knowledge of the existence of God is derived from revelation and not from Scripture. From him and his followers Ramsay?s luckless theatre passed to the Rev. Mr. Tait and other founders of the Rowites, during whose occupancy the pulpit was frequently filled by the celebrated Edward Irving. The Relief and Secession congregations have also had it in succession; the Catholics have used it as a schoolroom ; and till its demolition to make way for Jeffrey Street, it has been the arena of a strange oZZapodda of per sonages and purposes. In Carrubber?s Close stood the ancient Tailor?s Hall, the meeting-place of a corporation whose charter, granted to them by the Town Council, is dated 20th October, 1531, and with their original one, was further confirmed by charters from James V. and JamesVI. Theyhad analtar in St. Giles?sChurch dedicated to their patron St. Ann, and the date of their seal of cause is 1500. They had also an altar dedicated to St. Ann in the Abbey church, erected in 1554 by permission of Robert Commendator of Holyrood. The fine old hall in the Cowgate has long since been abandoned by the Corporation, which still exists; and in their other place of meeting in Carrubber?s Close an autograph letter of King James VI., which hung framed and glazed over the old fireplace, was long one of its chief features. It was dated in 1594, and ran thus; but afew lines will suffice for a specimen :- ?Dekin and remanent Maisters and Brethren of the Tailyer Craft within oure burgh of Edinburgh, we g e t zow weilL ?Forsaemeikle as, respecting the gude service of AZexander MilZer, in making and working the abulzements of our awn person, minding to continue him in oure service, as ain maist fit and meit persone. We laitlie recommendit him into zow be oure letter of requiest, desiring you to receive and admit him gratis to the libertie and fredom of the said craft, as a thing maist requisite for him, having the a i r of our awin wark, notwithstanding that he was not prenteis amongk zow, according to your ancient liberties and priviliges had in the contraie. M?illing zow at this our requiest to dispense him thereanent, &c, JAMES R.? The king?s request was no doubt granted, and the Alexander Miller to whom it referred died in 1616, a reputable burgess, whose tomb in the Greyfriars? churchyard was inscribed thus by his heirs :- ?AZexundro Milka, Jorobi Mug. Brit. FY&, &c., Regis Sarion; adfiltrni vifre, frinrario, hmedes. F. C. *it annb 57, obiit Principis et Civium iauta decoratus, Anno 1616. Maii 2.??
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