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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


138 - OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [West Church. mode of procedure, made no resistance; and so .active were the workmen that before sunset the road was sufliciently formed to allow the bettor to drive his carriage triumphantly over it, which he did amidst the acclamations ofa great multitude of persons, who flocked from the town to witness the -issue of this extraordinary undertaking. Among -the instances of temporary distress occasioned to -the inhabitants, the most laughable was that of a -poor simple woman who had a cottage and small cow-feeding establishment upon the spot. It ap- .pears that this good creature had risen early, as usiial, milked her cows, smoked her pipe, taken her ordinary matutinal tea, and lastly, recollecting that she had some friends invited to dine kith her cupon sheep-head and kail about noon, placed the pot upon the fire, in order that it might simmer peaceably till she should return from town, where she had to supply a numerous set of customers with the produce of her dairy. Our readers may judge the consternation of this poor woman when, upon her return from the duties of the morning, she found neither house, nor byre, nor cows, nor fire, nor pipe, nor pot, nor anything that was here upon the spot where she had left them but a few hours before. All had vanished, like the palace of Aladdin, leaving not a wrack behind.? Such was the origin of that broad and handsome street which now leads to where the Castle Barns :stood of old. The Kirkbraehead House was demolished in 1869, when the new Caledonian Railway Station was formed, and with it passed away the southern portion of the handsome modern thoroughfare named Rutland Street, and several other structures .in the vicinity of the West Church. Of these the most important was St. George?s Free Church, built in 1845, at the north-east corner .of Cuthbert?s Lane, the line of which has since been turned into Rutland Street, in obedience to the inexorable requirements of the railway. During its brief existence this edifice was alone famous for the ministrations of the celebrated Rev. Robert Candlish, D.D., one of the most popular of Scottish preachers, and one of the great leaders of the ? Non Intrusion ? party during those troubles -which eventually led to the separation of the .Scottish Church into two distinct sections, and the establishment of that Free Kirk to which we shall have often to refer. He was born about the commencement of the century, in 1807, and highly aegarded as a debater. He was author of an .?Exposition of the Book of Genesis,? works on 4? The Atonement,? ?6 The Resurrection,? ? Life of a Risen Saviour,? and other important theological books. In 18Gr he was Moderator of the Free Church Assembly. The church near St. Cuthbert?s was designed by the late David Cousin in the Norman style of architecture, and the whole edifice, which was highly ornate, after being carefully taken down, was re-constructed in its own mass in Deanhaugh Street, Stockbridge, as a free church for that locality. While the present Free St. George?s in Maitland Street was in course of erection, Dr. Candlish officiated to his congregation in the Music Hall, George Street. He died, deeply regretted by them and by all classes, on the 19th of October, 1873. The next edifice of any importance demolished at the time was the Riding School, with the old Scottish Naval and Military Academy, so long superintended byan old officer of the Black Watch, and well-known citizen, Captain, John Orr, who carried one of the colours of his regiment at Waterloo. It was a plain but rather elegant Grecian edifice, under patronage of the Crown, for train-, ing young men chiefly for the service of the royal and East India Company?s services, and to all the ordinary branches of education were added fortification, military drawing, gundrill, and military exercises; but just about the time its site was required by the railway the introduction of a certain amount of competitive examination at military colleges elsewhere rendered the institution unnecessary, though Scotland is certainly worthy of a military school of her own. Prior to its extinction the academy sufficed to send more than a thousand young men as officers into the army, many of whom have risen to distinction in every quarter of the globe. The new station of the Caledonian Railway, which covered the sites of the buildings mentioned, and with its adjuncts has a frontage to the Lothian Road of 1,100 feet (to where it abuts upon the United Presbyterian Church) by about 800 feet at its greatest breadth, forms a spacious and handsome terminus, erected at the cost of more than it;~o,ooo, succeeding the more temporary station at first projected on the west side of the Lothian Road, about half a furlong to the south, andivhich was cleared and purchased at an enormous cost. It is a most commodious structure, with a main front 103 feet long and zz feet high, yet designed only for temporary use, and is intended to give place to a permanent edifice of colossal proportions and more than usual magnificence, with a great palatial hotel to acljoin it, according to the custom now so common as regards great railway termini.
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George Street.] THE BLACKWOODS. I39 CHAP,TER XIX. GEORGE STREET. Major Andrew Faser-The Father of Miss Femer-Grant of Kilgraston-William Blackwoad and his Magazine-The Mother of Sir Waltn Scott-Sir John Hay, Banker-Colquhoun of Killermont-Mrs. Murray of Henderland-The Houses of Sir J. W. Gomon, Sir Jam- Hall. and Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster-St. Andrew's Church-Scene of the Disruption-Physicians' Hall-Glance at the Histcry of thecollege of Physicians-Sold and Removed-The Commercial Bank-Its Constitution-Assembly Rooms-Rules of 17+Banquet to Black Watch-" The Author of Waverley"-The Music Hall-The New Union Bank-Its Formation, &c.-The Mlasonic Hall-Watsoa'E Pictureof Bums-Statues of George IV., Pitt, and Chalmers. . PREVIOUS to the brilliant streets and squares erected in the northern and western portions of new Edinburgh, George Street was said to have no rival in the world ; and even yet, after having undergone many changes, for combined length, space, uniformity, and magnificence of vista, whether viewed from the east or west, it may well be pronounced unparalleled. Straight as an arrow flies, it is like its sister streets, but is 1x5 feet broad. Here a great fossil tree was found in 1852. A portion of the street on the south side, near the west end, long bore the name of the Tontine, and owing to some legal dispute, which left the houses there mfinished, they were occupied as infantry barracks during the war with France. Nos. 3 and 5 (the latter once the residence of Major Andrew Fraser and cf William Creech the eminent bookseller) forni the office of the Standard Life Assurance Company, in the tympanum of which, over four fine Corinthian pilasters, is a sculptured group from the chisel of Sir John Steel, representing the parable of the Ten Virgins. In George Street are about thirty different insurance offices, or their branches, all more or less ornate in architecture, and several banks. In No. 19, on the same side, is the Caledonian, the oldest Scottish insurance company (having been founded in June, 1805). Previously the office had been in Bank Street. A royal charter was granted to the company in May, 1810, and twenty-three years afterwards the business of life assurance was added to that of fire insurance. No. 25 George Street was the residence (from 1784 till his death, in 18zg), of Mr. James Ferrier, Principal Clerk of Session, and father of Miss Susan Ferrier, the authoress of " Marriage," &c. He was a keen whist player, and every night of his life had a rubber, which occasionally included Lady Augusta Clavering, daughter of his friend and client John, fifth Duke of Argyll, and old Dr. Hamilton, usually designated " Cocked Hat " Hamilton, from the fact of his being one of the last in Edinburgh who bore that head-piece. When victorious, he wcdd snap his fingers and caper about the room, to tbe manifest indignation of Mr. Ferrier, who would express it to his partner in the words, "Lady Augusta, did you ever see such rediculous leevity in an auld man 7 " Robert Burns used also to be a guest at No. 25, and was prescnt on one occasion when some magnificent Gobelins tapestry arrived there for the Duke of Argyll on its way to Inverary Castle. Mrs. Piozzi also, when in Edinburgh, dined there. Next door lived the Misses Edmonstone, of the Duntreath family, and with them pitched battles at whist were of frequent nightly occurrence. These old ladies figure in " Marriage " as Aunts Jacky, Grizzy, and Nicky; they were grandnieces of the fourth Duke of Argyll. The eldest Miss Ferrier was one of the Edinburgh beauties in her day ; and Bums once happening to meet her, while turning the corner of George Street, felt suddenly inspired, and wrote the lines to her enclosed in an elegy on the death of Sir D. H. Hair. Miss Ferrier and Miss Penelope, Macdonald of Clanronald, were rival belles ; the former married General Graham ot Stirling Castle, the latter Lord Belhaven. In No. 32 dwelt Francis Grant of Kilgraston, father of Sir Francis Grant, President of the Royal Academy, born in 1803 ; and No. 35, now a shop, was the town house of the Hairs of Balthayock, in Perthshire. No. 45 has long been famous as the establishment of Messrs. Blackwood, the eminent publishers. William Blackwood, the founder of the magazine which stills bears his name, and on the model of which so many high-class periodicals have been started in the sister kingdom, was born at Edinburgh in 1776, and after being apprenticed to the ancient bookselling firni of Bell and Bradfute, and engaging in various connections with other bibliopoles, in 1804 he commenced as a dealer in old books on the South Bridge, in No. 64, but soon after became agent for several London publishing houses. In 1S16 he disposed of his vast stock of classical and antiquarian books, I 5,000 volumes in number, and removing to No. 17 Princes Street, thenceforward devoted his energies to the business of a-general publisher, and No. 17 is to this day a bookseller's shop.
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