Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


I20 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Pr?nees Street. New Town, they are surprised at its being so badly lighted and watched at night. The half of the North Bridge next the Old Town is well lighted, while the half next the New remains in total darkness. London and Westminster are lighted all the year through.? Among the improvements in the same year, we read of two hackneycoach stands being introduced by the magistrates-one at St. Andrew?s Church and another at the Registei House ; but sedans were then in constant use, and did not finally disappear till about 1850. ?In Edinburgh there*is no trade,? wrote a German traveller-said to be M. Voght, of Hamburg, in 1795 ; ?but from this circumstance society is a gainer in point both of intelligence and of eloquence. . . . . It is but justice to a place in which I have spent one of the most agreeable winters of my life to declare, that nowhere more completely than there have I found realised my idea of good society, or met with a circle of men better informed, more amicable, greater lovers of truth, or of more unexceptionable integrity. During six months I heard no invectives uttered, no catching at wit practised, no malignant calumnies invented or retailed; and I seldom left a company without some addition to my knowledge or new incitements to philanthropy. To name and to describe the persons ? composing this society, and to introduce them to your readers, is a pleasure which I cannot deny myself.? Among those whom he met in the Edinburgh of that day M. Voght mentions Dugald Stewart, (? the Bacon of Metaphysics ? ; Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee ; Mackenzie, ? The Man of Feeling ; ? Drs. Black, Blair, Munro, and Coventry the lecturer on agriculture ; Professor Playfair, Dr. Gregory, and the amiable Sir William Forbes; Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, and Colonel Dirom, the historian of Tippoo Sahib, and Sir Alexander Mackenzie ; adding :-?What makes the society in Edinburgh particularly attractive is the crowd of Scotsmen who have been long in the East and West Indies, and have returned thither-old officers who have served in the army and navy, and all of whom in their youth have had the advantage of academical instruction.? Lady Sinclair, he tells us, ?(is one of the prettiest women in all Scotland,? and that Creech, the bookseller, was one of his ?most valuable acquaintances.? Among others, he enumerates Sir James Hall of Dunglass, Lords Eskgrove, Ancrum, and Fincastle, Professor Rutherford the botanist, Lord Monboddo, and many more, as those making up the circle of a delightful and intellectual society in a city, the population of which, including Leith, was then only 81,865, of whom 7,206 were in the New Town. At the close of the century the first academy for classical education was opened there by William Laing, AM., father of Alexander Gordon Laing, whose name is so mournfully connected with African discovery. In that establishment Mr. Ling laboured for thirty-two years, and was one of the most p3pular teachers of his day. In 1811 the population of the city and Leith had increased to 102,987, and exclusive of the latter it was 82,624. By 1881 the estimated population was 290,637. It was in the year 1805 that the Police Act for the city first came? into operation, when John Tait, Esq., was appointed Judge of the Court. Prior to this the gu,udianship of the city had been entirely in the hands of the old Town Guard, which was then partially reduced, save a few who were retained for limitea and special service. The Commissioners of Police first substituted gas for oil lamps; and in 1823 the papers announce that these officials had ?fitted up 341 new gas pillars, chiefly in the New Town; they are in progress with other forty-two, and have given orders for other 245 gas lights, chiefly in the Old Town. They are to sell the superseded lamp-irons and globes, from which they may realise about iC;600.? By that time the last traces of ancient manners had nearly departed. ?? The old claret-drinkers,? says a writer in 1824, ?are brought to nothing, and some of them are under the sod. The court dresses, in which the nobility and gentry appeared at the balls and first circles in Edinburgh, together with their dress swords or rapiers, are all ?haz1c 6t-m~; for there has been introduced a half-dress -and it ,is a half-dress: nay, some ladies make theirs less than half; while the swords of the welldressed men have been dropped for the $sty and the dashing blades of the present day learn to mZZ, to fib, and to floor, and to give a facer with their ? mawlies,? and other equally gentleman-like accomplishments.? Elsewhere he says :-? To prove the more tenacious adhesion of the Scotch to French manners and old fashions, I can assert that for one cocked hat which appeared in the streets of London within the last forty years, a dozen passed current in Add Reekie.? The houses first numbered in Princes Street were in the south portion, which caused the legal contention in I 774, and the continuation of which was so fortunately arrested by the Court of Session, and there the numbers run from I to 9. No. 2 was occupied in 1784 by Robertson, ?;a ladies? hairdresser,? where, as per advertisement,
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Princes Street.] THE IRISH GIANTS. 121 two Irish giants-twin brothers-exhibited themselves to visitors at a shilling per head, from four till nine every evening, Sundays excepted. ? These wonderful Irish giants are but twenty-three years of age, and measure nearly eight feet high,? according to the newspapers. ?? These extraordinary young men have had the honour to be seen by ~~ ~~~ ~ inches high); and the late Swedish giant will scarce admit of comparison.? Of these Irish giants, whose advent is among the first notabilia of Princes Street, Kay gives us a full-page drawing in his first volume, including, by, way of contrast, Lord Monboddo, Bailie Kyd, a wine merchant in the Candlemaker Row, who ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE. ( A I . the Podraif by Raebunr.) their ma,jesties and the royal family at Windsor, in November, 1783, with great applause, and likewise by gentlemen of the faculty, Royal Society, and other admirers of natural curiosity, who allow them to surpass anything of the kind ever offered (xi.) to the public. Their address is singularly pleasing ; their persons truly shaped and proportioned to their height, and afford an agreeable surprise. They excel the famous Maximilian Miller, born in 1674, shown in London in 1733 (six feet ten 64 died in 18r0, Andrew Bell, an engraver (who died in Lauriston Lane in 18og), and others of very small stature. In 1811 this house and No. I were both hotels, the former being named ?The Crown,? and from them both, the ?Royal Eagle? and ?Prince Regent?? Glasgow stagecoaches started daily at g am. and 4 p.m. ?? every lawful clay-?? Taking the houses of note as they occur seriatim, the first on the north side, No. 10-for some time a
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