Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


162 OLD AED NEW EDINBURGH. [Hanover Street. in yhich David Hume died the Bible Society oi Edinburgh was many years afterwards constituted, and held its first sitting. In the early part of the present century, No. 19 was the house of Miss Murray of Kincairnie, in Perthshire, a family now extinct. In 1826 we find Sir Walter Scott, when ruin had come upon? him, located in No. 6, Mrs. Brown?s lodgings, in a third-rate house of St. David Street, whither he came after Lady Scott?s death at Abbotsford, on the 15th of May in thatto him-most nielancholy year of debt and sorrow, and set himself calmly down to the stupendous task of reducing, by his own unaided exertions, the enormous monetary responsibilities he had taken upon himself. Lockhqt tells us that a week before Captain Basil Hall?s visit at No. 6, Sir Walter had suf ficiently mastered himself to resume his literary tasks, and was working with determined resolution at his ?Life of Napoleon,? while bestowing an occasional day to the ?Chronicles of the Canongate ?? whenever he got before the press with his historical MS., or felt the want of the only repose Be ever cared for-simply a change oi labour. No. 27, now a shop, was the house of Neilson of Millbank, and in No. 33, now altered and sub-divided, dwell Lord Meadowbank, prior to I 7gqknown when at the bar as Allan Maconochie. He left several children, one of whom, Alexander, also won a seat on the bench as Lord Meadowbank, in 18x9. No. 39, at the corner of George Street, w2s the house ol Majoribanks of Marjoribanks and that ilk. No. 54, now a shop, was the residence of Si1 John Graham Dalyell when at the bar, to which he was admitted in 1797. He was the second son of Sir Robert Dalyell, Bart., of Binns, in Linlithgowshire, and in early life distinguished himself by the publication of various works illustrative of the history and poetry of his native country, particularly ?Scottish Poems of the Sixteenth Century,?? ?? Bannatyne Memorials,? ?? Annals of the Religious Houses in Scotland,? Szc. He was vice-president of the Antiquarian Society, and though heir-presumptive to the baronetcy in his family, received in 1837 the honour of knighthood, by letters patent under the Great Seal, for his attainments in literature. A few doors farther down the street is now the humble and unpretentious-looking office of that most useful institution, the Edinburgh Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, and maintained, like every other charitable institution in the city, by private contributions. Hanover Street was built about 1786. In South Hanover Street, No. 14-f old the City of Glasgow Bank-is now the new hall of the Merchant Company, containing many portraits of old merchant burgesses on its walls, and some views of the city in ancient times which are not without interest. Elsewhere we have given the history of this body, whose new hall was inaugurated on July 9, 1879, and found to be well adapted for the purposes of the company. The large hall, formerly the bank telling-room, cleared of all the desks and other fixtures, now shows a grand apartment in the style of the Italian Renaissance, lighted by a cupola rising from eight Corinthian ? pillars, with corresponding pilasters abutting from the wall, which is covered by portraits. The space available here is forty-seven feet by thirty-two, exclusive of a large recess. Other parts of the building afford ample accommodation for carrying on the business of the ancient company and for the several trusts connected therewith. The old manageis room is now used by the board of management, and those on the ground floor have been fitted up for clerks. The premises were procured for ~17,000. All the business of the Merchant Company is now conducted under one roof, instead of being carried on partly in .the Old Town and partly in the New, with the safes for the security of papers of the various trusts located, thirdly, in Queen Street. By the year 1795 a great part of Frederick Street was completed, and Castle Street was beginning to be formed. The first named thoroughfare had many aristocratic residents, particularly widowed ladies-some of them homely yet stately old matrons of the Scottish school, about whom Lord Cockburn, &c., has written so gracefully and so graphically-to wit, Mrs. Hunter of Haigsfield in No. I, now a steamboat-office; Mrs. Steele of Gadgirth, No. 13; Mrs. Gardner of Mount Charles, No. 20 ; Mrs. Stewart of Isle, No. 43 ; Mrs. Bruce of Powfoulis, No. 52 ; and Lady Campbell of Ardkinglas in No. 58, widow of Sir Alexander, last of the male line of Ardkinglas, who died in 1810,- and whose estates went to the next-heir of entail, Colonel James Callender, of the 69th Regiment, who thereupon assumed the name of Campbell, and published two volumes of ?Memoirs? in 1832, but which, for cogent reasons, were suppressed by his son-in-law, the late Sir James Graham of Netherby. His wife, Lady Elizabeth Callender, died at Craigforth in 1797. In Numbers 34 and 42 respectively resided Ronald McDonald of Staffa, and Cunningham of Baberton, and in the common stair, No. 35, there
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castle Street.] NUMBER THIRTY-NINE CASTLE STREET. 163 lived for a time James Grant of Corrimony, advocate, who had his town house in Mylne?s Court, Lawnmarket, in 1783. This gentleman, the representative of an old Inverness-shire family, was born in 1743, in the house of Commony in Urquhart, his mother being Jean Ogilvie, of the family of Findlater. His father, Alexander Grant, was induced by Lord Lovat to join Prince Charles, and taking part in the battle of Culloden, was wouiided in the thigh. The cave at Corrimony in which he hid after the battle, is still pointed out to tourists. His son was called to the bar in 1767, and at the time of his death, in 1835, he was the oldest member of the Faculty of Advocates. Being early distinguished for his liberal principles, he numbered among his friends the Hon. Henry Erskine, Sir James Macintosh, Francis Jeffrey, and many others eminent for position or attainments; In 1785 he published his ?? Essays on the Origin of Society,? Src j in 1813, ?Thoughts on the Origin and Descent of the Gael,? &c: works which, illustrated as they are by researches into ancient Greek, Latin, and Celtic literature, show him to have been a man of erudition, and are valuable contributions to the early history of the Celtic races. The next thoroughfare is Castle Street, so called from its proximity to the fortress. As the houses spread westward they gradually improved in external finish and internal decoration. By the French Revolutionary war, according to the author of ?Old Houses in Edinburgh,? writing in 1824, an immense accession of inhabitants of a better class were thrown into.the growing city, All the earlier buildings of the new town were rubble-work, nnd so simple were the ideas of the people at that time, ? that main doors (now so important) were not at all thought of, and many of the houses in Princes Street had only common stairs entering from the Mews Lane behind. But within the last twenty years a very different taste has arisen, and the dignity of a front door has become almost indispensable. The later buildings are, with few exceptions, of the finest ashlar-work, erected on a scale of magnificence said to be unequalled ; yet, it cannot be denied that here and there common stairs-a nuisance that seems to cling to the very nature of Edinburgh-have crept in. However, even that objection has in most cases been got over by an ingenious contrivance, which renders them accessible only to the occupants of the various flats,? it., the crank communicating from eabh, with the general entrance-door below-a feature altogether peculiar to Edinburgh and puzzling to all strangers. No. I Castle Street, now an hotel, was in 1811 he house of the first Lord Meadowbank, already .ererred to, who died in 1816. At the same time :he adjoining front door was occupied by the Hon. Miss Napier (daughter of Francis; seventh Lord Napier), who died unmarried in 18zc~. No. 16 ,vas the house of Skene of Rubislaw, the bosom iiend of Sir Walter Scott, and the last survivor of $e six particdar friends to whom he dedicated :he respective cantos of ? Marmion.? He possessed the Bible used by Charles I. on the scaffold, and which is described by Mr. Roach Smith in his ? Collectanea Antiqua.? Latterly Mr. Skene took up his residence at Oxford. pis house is now legal offices. About 1810 Lady Pringle of Stitchel occupied No. 20, at the corner of Rose Street. She was the daughter of Norman Macleod of Macleod, and widow of Sir James Pringle, Bar!., a lieutenantcolonel in the army, who died in 1809. At the opposite corner lived Mrs. Fraser of Strichen; and No. 27, now all sub-divided, was the residence of Robert Reed, architect to the king. No. 37, in 1830, was the house of Sir Duncan Cameron, Bart., of Fassifem, brother of the gallant Colonel Cameron who fell at Quatre Bras, and won a baronetcy for his family. And now we come to the most important house in New Edinburgh, No. 39, on the east side of the northern half of the street, in which Sir Walter Scott resided for twenty-six years prior to 1826, and in which the most brilliant of his works were written and he spent his happiest years, ?from the prime of life to its decline.? He considered himself, and was considered by those about him, as amassing a large fortune ; the annual profits of his novels alone had not been less than A;IO,OOO for several years. His den, or study, there is thus described by Lockhart :-? It had a single Venetian window, opening on a patch of turf not much Larger than itself, and the aspect of the place was sombrous. . . . A dozen volumes or so, needful for immediate purposes of reference, were placed close by him on a small movable form. All the rest were in their proper niches, and wherever a volume had been lent its room was occupied by a wooden block of the same size, having a card with the name of the borrower and date of the lending tacked on its front . . . The only table wasa massive piece of furniture which he had constructed on the model of one at Rokeby, with a desk and all its appurtenances on either side, that an arnanuensis might work opposite to him when he chose, with small tiers of drawers reaching all round to the floor. The top displayed a goodly array of session papers, and on the desk below were, besides the MS. at which he was working, proof-sheets and so
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