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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


270 OLD AND *NEW EDINBURGH. [Brown Square. Till about 1780 the inhabitants of these districts formed a distinct class of themselves, and had their own places of amusement, independent of all the rest of the city. Nor was it until the New Town was rather far advanced that the sowfh side lost its attractions; and we are told that, singular as it may appear, there was one instance, if not more, of a gentleman living and dying in this southern district without having once visited, or even seen, the New Town, although at the time of his death it had extended westward to Castle Street. (Scott?s ?? Provincial Antiquities.?) In the notes to ? Redgauntlet,? the same author tells us, that in its time Brown Square was hailed ?as an extremely elegant improvement ? on Edmburgh residences, even witli its meagre plot of grass and shabby iron railings. It is here he places the house of Saunders Fairford, where Man is described as first beholding the mysterious Lady GreenmanfZe, and as being so bewildered with her appearance, that he stood as if he had been senseless. ? The door was opened, out she went, walked along the pavement, turned down the close (at the north-east end of the square leading into the Cowgate), and put the sun, I believe, into her pocket when she disappeared, so suddenly did dulness and darkness sink down on the square when she was no longer visible.? To show how much this new locality was thought of, we will here quote a letter in the Edinburgh Adverfiser of 6th March, 1764 (Vol. I.) :- ?Su,-\Vith pleasure I have observed of late the improvements we are making in this metropolis, and there is nothing which pleases me yore than the taste for elegant buildings, than which nothing can be a greater ornament to a city, or give a stranger a greater impression of the improvement of the inhabitants in polite and liberal arts. ? That very elegant square, called Brown Square, which, in my opinion, is a very great beauty to the town, is now almost finished, and last day the green pasture was railed in. Now, I think, to complete the whole, an elegant statue in the middle would be well worth the expense; and I dare say the gentlemen who possess houses there would not grudge a small sum to have that part adorned with an equestrian statue of his present Majesty George the Thud, and which I should think, would be contributed to by public subscriptions, set a-foot for that purpose. Whie we are thus making such improvements, I am surprised nobody has ever mentioned an improvement on our College [the old one was then extant] which, as it now is, gives strangers but an unfavourable idea of our University, which, however, is at present so flourishing. . . . , To have a handsome building for that purpose is surely the desire of every good citizen. This could be easily accomplished by various means. Suppose a lottery should be proposed, every student I dare say would take a ticket, and I would venture to ensure the success of it.? But George 111. was fated not to have a statue either in Brown Square or Great King Street, according to a suggestion some sixty years afterwards ; yet as a proof that the square was deemed alike fashionable and elegant, we may enumerate some of those who resided there. . Among them were the Dowager Lady Elphinstone (daughter of John sixth Earl of Wigton) who had a house here in 1784; Henry Pundas (afterwards Viscount Melville), when a member of the Faculty of Advocates; Sir Islay Campbell, Bart., of Succoth, in the days when it was the custom of the senators to walk to court in the morning, with nicely powdered wigs, and a small cocked hat in the hand-a practice retained nearly to the last by Lord Glenlee: he was afterwards Lord President. He bought Lord Melville?s house in Brown Square, and after a time removed to York Place. His successor in the same residence, No. 15,- was John Anstruther of that ilk, Advocate, with whom resided the family of Charles Earl of Traquair, whose mother was a daughter of Sir Philip Anstruther of Anstrutherfield. Other residents were Lord Henderland and the future Lord President Blair of Avontoun, both when at the bar, and William Craig, afterwards a Lord of Justiciary in 1792; Sir John Forbes-Drummond, when a captain of the Royal Navy, and before he became Baronet of Hawthornden ; Henry Mackenzie, the ubiquitous ? Man of Feeling ; ? Lord Woodhouselee, and the Lord President Miller, whose residence was the large house (No. 17) with the painted front, on the north side, the interior of which, with its frescoes and panelings, is now one of the finest specimens remaining of a fashionable Edinburgh mansion of the eighteenth century; and therein lived and died his son Lord Glenlee, who (uZtimus Scoforum 2) resisted the attraction of three successive New Towns, to which all his brethren had long before fled. He retained, until within a few years of his death, the practice referred to, of walking daily to Court, hat in hand, with a powdered wig, through Brown Square, down Crombie?s Close, across the Cowgate, xnd up the Back Stairs to the Parliament Houser ittended by his valet, and always scrupulously kessed in black. In 1838, when nearly eighty years of age, this grand lord of the old school,
Volume 4 Page 270
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