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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


cyloagate.1 HANNAH ROBERTSON. 21 of stone with a Panmure of Forth, and was the last who possessed this house, in which he was resident in the middle of the last century, and was succeeded in it by the Countess of Aberdeen. From 1778 till his death, in 1790, it formed the residence of Adam Smith, author of ? The Wealth of Nations,? after he came to Edinburgh as Commissioner of the Customs, an appointment obtained by the friendship of the Duke of Buccleuch. A few days before his death, at Panmure House, he gave orders to destroy all his mandscripts except some detached essays, which were afterwards published by his executors, Drs. Joseph Black and Janies Hutton, and his library, a valuable one, he left to his nephew, Lord Reston. From that old mansion the philosopher was borne to his grave in an obscure nook of the Canongate churchyard. During the - last years of his blameless life his bachelor household had been managed by a female cousin, Miss Jeanie Douglas, who acquired a great control ? had attained her From her published memoir-which, after its first appearance in 1792, reached a tenth edition in 1806, and was printed by James Tod in Forrester?s Wynd-and from other sources, we learn that she was the widow of Robert Robertson, a merchant in Perth, and was the daughter of a burgess named George Swan, son of Charles 11. and Dorothea Helena, daughter of John Kirkhoven, Dutch baron of Ruppa, the beautiful Countess of Derby, who had an intrigue with the king during the protracted absence of her husband in Holland, Charles, eighth earl, who died in 1672 without heirs. According to her narrative, the child was given to nurse to the wife of Swan, a gunner at Windsor, a woman whose brother, Bartholomew Gibson, was the king?s farrier at Edinburgh; and it would further appear that the latter obtained on trust for George Swan, from Charles 11. or his brother the Duke of York, a grant of lands in New Jersey, where Gibson?s son died about 1750, as would over him. At the end of Panmure Close was the mansion of John Hunter, a wealthy burgess, who was Treasurer of the Canongate in 1568, and who built it in 1565, when Mary was on the throne. Wilson refers to it as the earliest private edifice in the burgh, and says ?it consists, like other buildings of the period, of a lower erection forestair leading to the first floor, and an ornamental turnpike within, affording access to the upper chambers. At the top of a very steep wooden stair, constructed alongside of the latter, a very rich specimen of carved oak panelling remains in good preservation, adorned with the Scottish lion, displayed within a broad wreath and surrounded by a variety of ornaments. The doorway of the inner turnpike bears on the sculptured lintel the initials I. H., a shield charged with a chevron, and a hunting horn in base, and the date 1565.? It bore also a comb with six teeth. It was demolished in August, 1853. A little lower down are Big and Little Lochend Closes, which join each other near the bottom and TU into the north back of the Canongate. In the former are some good houses, but of no great antiquity. One of these was occupied by Mr. Gordon of Carlton in 1784; and in the other, during the close of the last and first years of the present century, there resided a remarkable old lady, named Mrs Hannah Robertson, who was well known in her time as a reputed grand-daughter of Charles 11. appear from a notice in the Lndon ChronicZe for 1771. Be all this as it may, the old lady referred to was a great favourite with all those of Jacobite proclivities, and at the dinners of the Jacobite Club always sat on the right hand of the president, till her death, which occurred in Little Lochend Close in 1808, when she eighty-fourth year, and a vast - . . . concourse attended her funeral, which took place in the Friends? burial-place at the Pleasance. Unusually tall in stature, and beautiful even in old age, her figure, with black velvet capuchin and cane, was long familiar in the streets of Edinburgh. From a passage in the ?Edinburgh Historical Register? for 1791-2, she would appear to have been a futile applicant for a pension to the Lords of the Treasury, though she had many powerful friends, including the Duchess of Gordon and the Countess of Northesk, to whom she dedicated a book named ?? The Lady?s School of Arts.? One of the most picturesque and interesting houses in the Canongate is one situated in what was called Davidson?s Close, the old ?White Horse Hostel,? on a dormer window of which is the date 1603. It was known as the ?White Horse? a century and more before the accession of the House of Hanover, and is traditionally said to have taken its name from a favourite white palfrey when the range of stables that form its basement had been occupied as the royal mews. The adjacent Water Gate took its name from a great
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Cmongate.1 THE CANONGATE THEATRE. 23 the morning;?? and of the sanitary state of the community in those days some idea may be gathered from the fact that swine ran loose in the Canongate till 1583, when an attempt was made to put down the nuisance. In the city this was done earlier, as we find that in 1490 the magistrates ordain ?the lokman, quhairwer he fyndis ony .swyne betwk the Castell and the Netherbow upon the Gaitt,? to seize them, with a fine of fourpence .upon each sow taken. Again, in 1506, swine found in the streets or kennels are to be slaughtered by the ?lokman? and escheated ; and in 15 13 swine were again forbidden to wander, under pain of the owners being banished, and each sow to be escheat. At the same time fruit was forbidden to be sold on the streets, or in crames, ?? holden thairupon, under the pain oi escheitt ?-that is, of forfeit. In 1562 no flesh was to be eaten or even cooked on ,Friday or Saturday, under a penalty of ten pounds; and in 1563 all markets were forbidden .in the streets upon Sunday. Among the first operations of the Improvement ?Trust were the demolitions at the head of St. Mary?s Wynd, including with them the removal 01 -the Closes of Hume and Boyd, the first alleys a1 the head of the street on the south side, and the erection on their site of lofty and airy tenements in A species of Scottish style. Four,alleys to the eastward, Bell?s, Gillon?s, Gibbs? and Pine?s Closes, all narrow, dark, and filthy, have been without history or record j but Chessel?s Court, numbered as 240, exhibits a very superior style of architecture, and in 1788 was the scene 01 that daring robbery of the Excise Office which brought to the gallows the famous Deacon Brodie .and his assistant, thus closing a long career of secret villainy, his ingenuity as a mechanic giving him every facility in the pursuits to which he addicted himself. ? It was then customary for the shopkeepers of Edinburgh to hang their keys upon a nail at the back of their doors, or at least to take no pains in concealing them during the day. Brodie used to take impressions of them in putty or clay, a piece of which he used to carry in the palm of his hand. He kept a blacksmith in his pay, who forged exact copies of the keys he wanted, and with these it was his custom to open the shops of his fellow-tradesmen during the night.? In a house of Chessel?s Court there died, in I 854, an aged maiden lady of a very ancient Scottish stock-Elizabeth Wardlaw, daughter of Sir William Wardlaw, Bart., of the line of BalmuIe and Pitreavie in Fifeshire. In the Playhouse Close, a cdde-mc, and its neighbour the Old Playhouse Close, a narrow and gloomy alley, we find the cradle of the legitimate drama in Edinburgh. In the former, in 1747, a theatre was opened, on such a scale as was deemed fitting forthe Scottish capital, where the drama had skulked in holes and corners since the viceregal court had departed from Holyrood, in the days of the Duke of Albany and York. From 1727 till after 1753 itinerant companies, despite the anathemas of the clergy, used with some success the Tailors? Hall in the Cowgate, which held, in professional phraseology, from ;E40 to ;E45 nightly.? In the first-named year a Mr. Tony Alston endeavoured to start a theatre, in the same house which saw the failure of poor Allan Ramsay?s attempt, but the Society of High Constables endeavoured to suppress his ? abominable stage plays;? and when the clergy joined issue with the Court of Session against him, his performances had to cease. But, accqding to Wodrow, there had been some talk of building another theatre as early as 1728. In 1746 the foundation of the theatre within a back area (near St. John?s-Cross), now called the Playhouse Close, was laid by Mr. John Ryan, a London actor of considerable repute in his day, who had to contend with the usual opposition of the ignorant or illiberal, and that lack of prudence and thrift incidental to his profession generally. The house was capable of holding A70 ; the box seats were halfa-crown, the pit one-and-sixpence ; and for several years it was the?kcene of good acting under Lee, Digges, Mrs. Bellamy, and Mrs. Ward. After the affair of 1745 the audiences were apt to display a spirit of political dissension. On the anniversary of the battle of Culloden, in I 749, some English officers who were in the theatre commanded the orchestra, in an insolent and unruly manner, to strike up an obnoxious air known as CulZoden ; but in a spirit of opposition, and to please the people, the musicians played (? You?re welcome, Charlie S h u t ? The military at once drew their sworQs and attacked the defenceless musicians and players, but were assailed by the audience with tom-up benches and every missile that couid be procured. The officers now attempted to storm the galleries ; but the doors were secured. They were then vigorously attacked in the rear by the Highland chairmen with their poles, disarmed, and most ignominiously drubbed and expelled ; but in consequence of this and similar disturbances, bills were put up notifying that no music would be played but such as the management selected. Another disturbance ensued soon after, occasioned by the performance of Garrick?s farce, ?? High I
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