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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


254 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. where a curiously-carved fleur-de-lis surmounts the gable, a grotesque gurgoyle of antique form serves as a gutter to the roof.? Abbot Andrew Durie, who was nominated to the abbacy of Afelrose in 1526 by Tames V., resided here; and Knox assures us that his death was hastened by dismay and horror occasioned by the terrible uproar on St. Giles?s day, in 1558. The Close in earlier time took its name from the abbots of Melrose j but at a later period was called Rosehaugh?s Close, from Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, King?s Advocate during the reigns of Charles 11. and Tames II., author of many able works on Scottish law, and also a successful cultivator of general literature. He obtained a charter of the property from Provost Francis Kinloch and the magistrates in 1677, and the house he occupied still exists, and seems to have been a stately-enough edifice for its age. Sir George has still an unpleasant place in the local imagination of the Edinburgh people as ? The Bluidy Mackenzie,? the persecutor of the Covenanters; and though the friend of Dryden, and the founder of the first and greatest national library in Scotland, .he is regarded as a species of ogre in his native capital. The mausoleum in which he lies in the Greyfriars? Churchyard, a domed edifice with ornate Corinthian columns and niches, is believed by the urchins of the city to be haunted still, as it was commonly believed that his body could never rest in its grave. Hence it used to be deemed a ?brag? or feat, for a boy more courageous than his fellows to shout through the keyhole intd the dark and echoing tomb- ? Bluidy Mackenzie, come out if ye daur, Lift the sneck, and draw the bar ! ? after which defiance all fled, lest the summoned spirit might appear, and follow them. He had a country house, ten miles south of Edinburgh, called Shank, now in ruins. His granddaughter was Lady Anne Dick, of Corstorphine, whose eccentricities were wont to excite much attention in Edinburgh society, and who was the authoress of many droll pasquils, and personal pasquinades in verse, which created many enemies, who exulted in the follies of which she was guilty. Among the latter was a fancy for dressing herself like a gallant of the day, and going about the town at night in search of adventures and frolics, one of which ended unpleasantly in her being consigned to the City Guard House. In many of her verses she half-banteringly deplores the coldness of Sir Peter Murray of Balmanno, in Kincardineshire, but more, it is believed, from whim than actual fancy or regard. One begins thus :- ? Oh, wherefore did I cross the Forth, And leave my love behind me? Why did I venture to the north With one that did not mind me ? Had I but visited Carin, It would have been much better, Than pique the prudes and make a din For careless, cold Sir Peter ! <I I?m - anre I?ve seen a better limb, And twenty better faces ; But still my mind it ran on him When I was at the races; At night when we were at the ball Were many there discreeter ; The well-bred duke, and lively Maule, Panrnure behaved much better.? In conclusion, she expresses an opinion that she must be mad ? to follow cold Sir Peter.? She died in 1741. During a great part of the eighteenth century the ancient mansion in Rosehaugh?s Close was occupied by Alexander Fraser of Strichen, who was connected by marriage with the descendants of Sir George RIackenzie, and who gave to the alley the name it now bears, Strichen?s Close. He was raised to the bench as Lord Strichen, in 1730, and occupied a seat there and his residence in the close for forty-five years subsequent to that date, and was the direct ancestor of the present Lord Lovat in the peerage of Great Britain. The manners and habits of the people of Edinburgh in those days-say about 173o-were as different from those of their successors as if they had been the natives of a foreign country. From Carlyle?s ,Memoirs we learn that when gentlemen were invited to dine, each brought his own knife, fork, and spoon with him in a case (just as gentlemen did in France prior to the first Revolution), and a marked peculiarity of the period was a combination of showy and elegant costume with much simplicity, coarseness of thought, and roughness of speech, occasional courtesy, and great promptness to ire. Intercourse with France, and the service of so many Scottish gentlemen in the French army, !ed to a somewhat incongruous ingrafting of. French politeness on the homely manners? of the Scottish aristocracy; yet it was no uncommon thing for a lady to receive gentlemen, together with lady. visitors, in her bed-room, for then, within the walled city, the houses had few rooms without a bed, either openly or screened; while the seemliness and delicacy now attendant on marriages and births were almost unknown. The slender house accommodation in the turn
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High Street.] STRICHEN?S CLOSE. 255 pike stairs compelled the use of taverns more than now. There the high-class advocate received his clients, and the physician his patients-each practitioner having his peculiar how$ There, too, gentlemen met in the evening for supper and conversation without much expense, a reckoning of a shilling being deemed a high one, so different then were the value of money and the price of viands. In 1720 an Edinburgh dealer advertises his liquors at the following prices :-? Neat claret wine at I Id., strong at 15d.; white wine at ~ z d . ; Rhenish at 16d.; old hock at zod., all per bottle; cherrysack at 28d. per pint; English ale at 4d. per bottle.? In those days it was not deemed derogatory for ladies of rank and position to join oyster parties in some of those ancient taverns; and while there was this freedom of manner on one hand, we are told there was much of gloom and moroseness on the other; a dread of the Deity with a fear of hell, and of the power of the devil, were the predominant feelings of religious people in the age subsequent to the Revolution; while it was thought, so says the author of ? I Domestic Annals ? (quoting Miss Mure?s invaluable Memoirs), a mark of atheistic tendencies to doubt witchcraft, or the reality of apparitions and the occasional vaticinative character of dreams. A country gentleman, writing in 1729, remarks on ?? the increase in the expense of housekeeping which he had seen going on during the past twenty years. While deeming it indisputable that Edinburgh was now much less populous.than before the Union, yet I am informed,? says he, ? that there is a greater consumption since than before the Union of all -provisions, especially fleshes and wheat. bread. The butcher owns that he now kills thret of every species for one he killed before the Union. . . . . Tea in the morning and tea in tht evening had now become established. There were more livery servants, and better dressed. and more horses than formerly.? Lord Strichen did not die in the house in thf close wherein he had dwelt so long, but at Stricher in Aberdeenshire, on the 15th January, 1775, ir his seventy-sixth year, leaving behind him the repu tation of an upright judge. ? Lord Strichen was i man not only honest, but highly generous; for after his succession to the family estates, he paic a large sum of debts contracted by his prede cessor, which he was not under any obligation tc pay.? One of the last residents of note in Strichen?! Close was Mr. John Grieve, a merchant in thc Royal Exchange, who held the office of Lorc ?rovost in 1782-3, and again in 1786-7, and who ras first a Town Councillor in 1765. When a nagistrate he was publicly horsewhipped by some r Edinburgh bucks ? of the day, for placing some emales of doubtful repute in the City Guard Xouse, under the care of the terrible Corporal ihon Dhu--an assault for which they were arrested .nd severely fined. The house he 6ccupied had an entrance from itrichen?s Close ; but was in reality one that beonged to the Regent hlorton, having an entrance rom the next street, named the Blackfriars Wynd. 3e afterwards removed to a house in Princes street, where he became one of the projectors of he Earthen Mound, which was long-as a mistake n the picturesque-justly stigmatised as the RIud Brig,? the east side of which was commenced a ittle to the eastward of the line of Hanover Street, ipposite to the door of Provost Grieve?s house, ong ago turned into a shop. John Dhu, the personage refTrred to, was a wellmown soldier of the C;ty Guard, mentioned by Sir Walter Scott as one of the fiercest-looking men he lad ever seen. ?That such an image of military violence should have been necessary at the close of :he eighteenth century to protect the peace of a British city,? says the editor of ?( Kay?s Portraits,? ?presents us with a strange contrast of what we lately were and what we have now become. On me occasion, about the time of the French Revolution, when the Town Guard had been signalising the King?s birthday by firing in the Parliament Square, being unusually pressed and insulted by the populace, this undaunted warrior turned upon one peculiarly outrageous member of the democracy, and, by one blow of his battle-axe, laid him lifeless on the causeway.? The old tenement, which occupied the ground between Strichen?s Close and the Blackfriars Wynd (prior to its destruction in the fire of zznd February, 18zj), and was at the head of the latter, was known as ?Lady Lovat?s Land.? It was seven storeys in height. There lived Primrose Campbell of Mamore, widow of Simon Lord Lovat, who was beheaded on Tower Hill in 1747, and there, 240 years before her time, dwelt Walter Chepman of Ewirland, who, with Miller, in 1507, under the munificent auspices of James IV., introduced the first printing press into Scotland, and on the basement of whose edifice a house of the Revolution period had been engrafted. Though his abode was here in the High Street, his printing-house was in the Cowgate, from whence, in 1508, ?The Knightly Tale of Golagras and Gawane ? was issued ; and this latter is supposed He died in 1803.
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