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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


New Town.] JAMES CRAIG. I I7 1869 to make way for Grosvenor Street, in excavating the foundation of which a number of ancient bronze Caledonian swords were found-the relics of some pre-historic strife. One was Specially remarkable for having the hilt and pommel of bronze cast in one piece with the blade-a form very rare, there being only one other Scottish example known -one from Tames, in Aberdeenshire, and now in the British Museum. The few houses enumerated alone occupied the lonely site of the New Town when Gabriel?s Road, of the poet Thomson, and who engraved thereon the following appropriate lines from his uncle?s poem :- SI August, around, what public works I see ! Lo, stately streets ! 10, squares that court the breeze! See long canals and Each part with each, and with the circling main, whole entwined nvea join The names given to the streets and squaresthe formal array of parallelograms drawn by Craig-were taken from the royal family chiefly, latterly a mean, narrow alley, was a delightful country path, ?? along which,? says Wilson, in I 847, ?some venerable citizens still remember to have wended their way between green hedges that skirted the pleasant meadows and cornfields of Wood?s Farm, and which was in days of yore a favourite trysting place for lovers, where they breathed out their teIpder tale of passion beneath the fragrant hawthorn.? It ran in an oblique direction through the ancient hamlet of Silvermills, and its course is yet indicated by the irregular slant of the garden walls that separate the little plots behind Duke Street from the East Queen Street Gardens at the lower end. The plan of the proposed new city was prepared by James Craig, an eminent architect, nephew ? and the tutelary saints of the island, The first thoroughfare, now-a magnificent terrace, was called St. Giles Street, after the. ancient patron of the city ; but on the plan being shown to George 111. for his approval, he exclaimed, ? Hey, hey !-what, what!-St. Giles Street !-never do, never do!? And so, to escape from a vulgar London association of ideas, it was named Princes Street, after the future George IV. and the Duke of York. Craig survived to see his plans only partially carried out, as he died in 1795, in his fifty-fifth year. He was the son of Robert Craig, merchant, and grandson of Robert Craig, who in the beginning of that century had been a magistrate of Edinburgh. His mother was Mary, youngest daughter of James Thomson, minister of Ednam, and sister of the author of ?The Seasons.?
Volume 3 Page 117
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