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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


The Water of Leith.] THE LAUDERS. 83 massive little mansion of Groat Hall, with a thatched roof, whilom the property of Sir John Smith, Provost of the city in 1643, whose daughter figured as the heroine of the strange story connected with the legend of the Morocco Land in the Canongate, and whose sister (Giles Smith) was wife of Sir William Gray of Pittendrum. St. Cuthbert?s Poorhouse, a great quadrangular edifice, stands in the eastern vicinity of Craigleith Quarry. It was built in 1866-7, at a cost of jG40,000, and has amenities of situation and elegance of structure very rarely associated with a residence for the poor. Eastward of Stockbridge, and almost forming an integral part of it, lies the now nearly absorbed and half extinct, but ancient, village of Silvermills, a secluded hamlet once, clustering by the ancient milllade, and which of old lay within the Earony of Broughton. It was chiefly occupied by tanners, whose branch of trade is still carried on there by the lade, which runs under Clarence Street: through the village, and passes on to Canonmills. Some of the houses still show designs of thistles and roses on gablets, With the crowsteps of the sixteenth century. A little to the west of St. Stephen?s Church, a narrow lane leads downward to the village, passing through what was apparently the main street, and emerges at Henderson Row, so called from the Lord Provost of that name. According to Chambers, a walk on a summer day from the old city to the village, a hundred years ago, was considered a very delightful one, and much ?adopted by idlers, the roads being then through corn-fields and pleasant nursery-grounds. No notice, says Chambers, has ever been taken of Silvermills in any of the books regarding Edicburgh, nor has any attempt ever been made to account for its somewhat piquant name. ?I shall endeavour to do so,? he adds. ?In 1607 silver was found in considerable abundance at Hilderstone, in Linlithgowshire, on the property of the gentleman who figures as Tarn 0? the Cowgate. Thirty-eight barrels of ore were sent to the mint in the Tower of London to be tried, and were found to give twenty-four ounces of silver for every hundredweight. Expert persons were placed upon the mine, and mills were erected upon the Water of Leith for the melting and fining the ore. The sagacious owner gave the mine the name of Go8s BZessing. By-and-bye the king heard of it, and, thinking it improper that any such fountain of wealth should belong to a private person, purchased ? God?s Blessing? for L~,OOO, that it might be worked upon a larger scale for the benefit of the public But somehow, from the time it left the hands of the original owner, ? God?s Blessing? ceased to be anything like so fertile as it had been, and in time the king withdrew from the enterprise, a great loser. The Silvermills I conceive to have been a part of the abandoned plant.? This derivation seems extremely probable, but Wilson thinks the name may have originated in some of the alchemical projects of James IV., or his son, James V. city,? says the Edinburgh Week& Magazine for January, 1774, ?we are informed of a very singular accident. On the nights of the zznd, 23rd, and 24th inst., the Canonmills dam, by reason of the intenseness of the frost, was so gorged with ice and snow, that at last the water, finding no vent, stagnated to such a degree that it overfIowed the lower floors of the houses in Silvermills, which obliged many of the inhabitants to remove to the risi,ng grounds adjacent. One family in particular, not perceiving their danger till they observed the cradle with a child in it afloat, and all the furniture swimming, found it necessary to make their escape out of the back windows, and were carried on horseback to dry land.? St. Stephen?s Established Church, at the foot of St. Vincent Street, towers in a huge mass over Silvermills, and was built in 1826-8, after designs by W. H. Playfair, It is a massive octagonal structure in mixed Roman style, with a grand, yet simple, entrance porch, and a square tower 165 feet high. It contains above 1,600 sittings. The parish was disjoined from the conterminous parishes in 1828 by the Presbytery of Edinburgh and the Teind Court. Itwas opened on Sunday, the 20th December, 1828, when the well-known Dr, Brunton preached to the Lord Provost and magistrates in their official robes, and the Rev. Henry Grey officiated in the afternoon. In an old mansion, immediately behind where this church now stands, were born Robert Scott Lauder, R.S. A., and his brother, James Eckford Lauder, RSA., two artists of considerable note in their time. The former was born in 1803, and for some years, after attaining a name, resided in.No. 7, Carlton Street. A love of art was early manifested by him, and acquaintance with his young neighbour, David Roberts, fostered it. The latter instructed him in the mode of mixing colours, and urged him to follow art as a profession ; thus, in his youth he entered the Trustees? Academy, then under the care of Mr. Andrew Wilson. After this he went to London, and worked with great assiduity in the British Museum. In 1826 ?From Silvermills, a little northward of this .
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84 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Water of Leith. he was again in his native city, when he re-entered .the Academy, then under the charge of Sir William Allan, and won the friendship of that eminent landscape painter the Rev. John Thomson, minister of Duddingstone, whose daughter he married. After remaining five years on the Continent, studying the works of all the great masters in Venice, Bologna, Florence, and Rome, he settled in London in 1838, &here his leading pictures began to attract considerable attention. Among them brance,? as the inscription recods it, ?of his unfailing sympathy as a friend, and able guidance as a master.? His brother, James Eckford Lauder, R.S.A., died in his fifty-seventh year, on the 29th of February, 1869-so little time intervened between their deaths. In an old house, now removed, at the north end of Silvermills, there lived long an eminent collector of Scottish antiquities, also an artist-W. B. Johnstone, soine of whose works are in the Scottish THE EDINBURGH ACADEMY. were the U Trial of Effie Deans ? and the ? Bride of Lammermuir,? ?? Christ walking on the Waters,? and ? Christ teaching Humility,? which now hangs in the Scottish National Gallery. His pictures are all characterised by careful drawing and harmonious colouring. He was made a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1830. Returning to Edinburgh in 1850,he was appointed principal teacher in the Trustees? Academy, where he continued to exercise considerable influence on the rising school of Scottish art, till he was struck with paralysis, and died on the zIst April, 1869, at Wardie. A handsome monument was erected over his grave in Wamston Cemetery by his students of the School of Design, ? in grateful remem- Gallery, where also hangs a portrait of him, painted by John Phillip, R.A. At the north-west corner of Clarence Street, in the common stair entering from Hamilton Place, near where stands a huge Board School, there long resided another eminent antiquary, who was also a member of the Scottish Academy-the well-known James Drurnmond, whose ? Porteous Mob ? and other works, evincing great clearness of drawing, brilliancy of colour, and studiously correct historical and artistic detail, hang in the National Gallery. Immediately north of Silvermills, in what was ~ formerly called Canonmills Park, stands the Edinburgh Deaf and Dumb Institution, a large square edifice, built a little way back from Hender
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