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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


114 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [New Tom. - ~~~~ ~ ~ Cockburn, the former spoke thus affectionately .of the High School :- ? In this town it was, as was truly observed by .our worthy chairman, that I first imbibed the noble grinciples of a liberal Scottish education; and it is Ifit that I should tell you, as many of you may not have heard what I have frequently told to others, :in other places, and in other meetings, that I have :seen no other plan of education so efficient as that which is established in this city. With great experience and opportunity of observation, I certainly have never yet seen any one system so well adapted for training up good citizens, as well as learned and virtuous men, as the old High School of Edinburgh and the Scottish Universities. Great improvements may, and no doubt will be made, even in these seminaries. But what I have to say of the High School of Edinburgh, and, as the ground of the preference I give it over others, and even over another academy, lately established in this city, on what is said to be a more improved principle-what I say is this : that such a school is altogether invaluable in a free State-in a State having higher objects in view, by the education of its youth, than a mere knowledge of the Latin and Greek languages, and the study of prosody. That in a State like this, higher objects should be kept in view, there can be no doubt ; though I confess I have passed much of my time in these studies myself. ?Yet a school like the old High School of Edinburgh is invaluable, and for what is it so? It is because men of the highest and lowest rank of society send their children to be educated together. The oldest friend I have in the world, your worthy vice-president (Lord Douglas Gordon Halyburton of Pitcur, M.P.) and myself were at the High School of Edinburgh together, and in the same class along with others, who still possess our friendship, and some of them in a rank in life still higher than us. One of them was a nobleman who is now in the House of Peers ; and some of them were the sons of shopkeepers in the lowest part of the Cowgate-shops of the most inferior descnption- and one or two of them were the sons of menial servants in the town. They wen siiliug side by side, giving and taking places from each other, without the slightest impression on the part of my noble friends of any superiority on their parts to the other boys, or any ideas of the inferiority on the part of the other boys to them ; and this is my reason for preferring the old High School of Edinburgh to other and what may be termed more patrician schools, however well regulated or conducted.? CHAPTER XVI. THE NEW TOWN. ?The Site before the Streets-The Lang Dykes-Wood?s Farm-Drumsheugh House-Bearford?s Parks-The Houses of Easter and Wester Coates-Gabriel?s Road-Craig?s Plan of the New Town-John Young builds the First House Therein-Extension of the Town Westward. LOOKING at the site of the New Town now, it requires an effort to think that there were thatched cottages there once, and farms, where corn was sown and reaped, where pigs grunted in styes or roamed in the yard; where fowls laid eggs and clucked over them, and ducks drove their broods into the .North Loch, where the trap caught eels .and the otter and water-rat lurked amid the sedges, and where cattle browsed on the upland slopes that were crested by the line of the Lang Dykes ; and where the gudeman and his sons left the ploiigh in the furrow, and betook them to steel bonnets and plate sleeves, to jack and Scottish spear, when the bale-fire, flaming out on the Castle towers, announced that ?our ancient enemies of England had crossed the Tweed.? Such, little more than one hundred years ago, was the site of the Modern Athens.? ? . Along the line now occupied by Princes Street lay a straight country road, the Lang Dykes-called the Lang Gait in the ?Memorie of the Somervilles,? in 1640-the way by which Claverhouse and his troopers rode westward on that eventful day in 1689, and where in 1763, we read in theEdinburgh Museum for January of two gentlemen on horse-. back bei,ng stopped by a robber, armed with a pistol, whom they struck down by the butt end of a whip,. but failed to secure, ?? as they heard somebody whistle several times behind the dykes,? and were apprehensive that he might have confederates. The district was intersected by other lonelyroads, such as the Kirk Loan, which led north from St. Cuthbert?s Church to the wooden, or Stokebridge, and the ford on the Leith at the back of the present Malta Terrace, where it joined Gabriel?s Road, a path that came from the east, end of the
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New Town.] ? . WOOD?S FARM. 11.5 Lang Dykes; by the old Queensferry Road that I descended into the deep hollow, where Bell?s Mills lie, and by Broughton Loan at the other end of the northern ridge. Bearford?s Parks on the west, and Wood?s Farm on the east, formed the bulk of this portion of the site; St. George?s Church is now in the centre of the former, and Wemyss Place of the latter. The hamlet and manor house of Moultray?s Hill arc now occupied by the Register House; and where the Royal Bank stands was a cottage called ?Peace and Plenty,? from its signboard near Gabriel?s Road, ? where ambulative citizens regaled themselves with curds and cream,?? and Broughton was deemed so far afield that people went there for the summer months under the belief that they were some distance from ?town, just as people used to go to Powburn and Tipperlinn fifty years later. Henry Mackenzie, author of ?The Man of Feeling,? who died in 1831, remembered shooting snipes, hares, and partridges upon Wood?s Farm. The latter was a tract of ground extending frGm Canon Mills on the north, to Bearford?s Parks on the south, and was long in possession of Mr. Wood, of Warriston, and in the house thereon, his son, the famous ?Lang Sandy Wood,? was born in 1725. It stood on the area between where Queen Street and Heriot Row are now, and ?many still alive,? says Chambers, writing in 1824, ?remember of the fields bearing as fair and rich a crop of wheat as they may now be said to bear houses. Game used to be plentiful upon these groundsin particular partridges and hares . . . . . Woodcocks and snipe were to be had in all the damp and low-lying situations, such as the Well-house Tower, the Hunter?s Bog, and the borders of Canon Mills Loch. Wild ducks were frequently shot in the meadows, where in winter they are sometimes yet to be found. Bruntsfield Links, and the ground towards the Braid Hills abounded in hares.? In the list of Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons, Alexander Wood and his brother Thomas are recorded, under date 1756 and 1715 respectively, as the sons of ?Thomas Wood, farmer on the north side of Edinburgh, Stockbridge Road,? now called Church Lane. A tradition exists, that about 1730 the magistrates offered to a residenter in Canon Mills all the ground between Gabriel?s Road and the Gallowlee, in perpetual fee, at the annual rent of a crown bowl of punch; but so worthless was the land then, producing only whim and heather, that the offer was rejected. (L? Old Houses in Edinburgh.?) The land referred to is now worth more than A15,ooo per annum. . Prior to the commencement of the new town, the only other edifices. on the site were the Kirkbraehead House, Drumsheugh House, near the old Ferry Road, and the Manor House of Coates. Drumsheugh House, of which nothing now remains but its ancient rookery in Randolph Crescent, was removed recently. Therein the famous Chevaliei Johnstone, Assistant A.D.C. to Prince Charles; was concealed for a time by Lady Jane Douglas, after the battle of Culloden, till he escaped to England, in the disguise of a pedlar. Alexander Lord Colville of Culross, a distinguished Admiral of the White, resided there s u b sequently. He served at Carthagena in 1741, at Quebec and Louisbourg in the days of Wolfe, and died at Drumsheugh on the zIst of May, 1770. His widow, Lady Elizabeth Erskine, daughter of Alexander Earl of Kellie, resided there for some years after, together with her brother, the Honourable Andrew Erskine, an officer of the old 71st, disbanded in 1763, an eccentric character, who figures among Kay?s Portraits, and who in 1793 was drowned in the Forth, opposite Caroline Park. Lady Colville died at Drumsheugh in the following year, when the house and lands thereof reverted to her brother-in-law, John Lord Colville of Culross. And so lately as 1811 the mansion was occupied by James Erskine, Esq.,. of Cambus. Southward of Drumsheugh lay Bearford?s Parks,. mentioned as ? Terras de Barfurd ? in an Act in. favour of Lord Newbattle in 1587, named from Hepburn of Bearford in Haddingtonshire. In 1767 the Earl of Morton proposed to have a wooden bridge thrown across the North Loch from these parks to the foot of Warriston?s Close, but the magistrates objected, on the plea that the property at the dose foot was worth A20,ooo. The proposed bridge was to be on a line with ?the highest level ground of Robertson?s and Wood?s Farms.? In the Edinburgh Adnediser for 1783 the magistrates announced that Hallow Fair was to be ?held in the Middle Bearford?s Park.? Lord Fountainhall, under dates 1693 and 1695, records a dispute between Robert Hepburn of Bearford and the administrators of Heriot?s hospital, concerning ?the mortified annual rents acclaimed out of his tenement in Edinburgh, called the Black Turnpike,? and again in 1710, of an action he raised against the Duchess of Buccleuch, in which Sir Robert Hepburn of Bearford, in I 633, is referred to, all probably of the same family. The lands and houses of Easter and Wester
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