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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


A , k i t h Walk.] JOHNNIE WILKES? himself in her bedroom, ?with the intention of carrying off a sum of money after she fell asleep. But the noise of opening her desk awoke her; he, for fear of detection, seized a knife which by accident lay there, and mangled her throat so dreadfully that she died next day. He then leaped from a window of the second storey, but fractured one of his legs so much in the fall that he was unable to walk, and sustained himself for several days, eating peas and turnips, until his hiding-place was discovered He afterwards graced the gibbet in Leith Walk, where his body hung for many a long year.? In more than one instance on the King?s birth- BRWNSTME HOUSE. day the effigy of Johnnie Wilkes,? that noted demagogue, Lord Mayor of London and English M.P., who made himself so obnoxious to the Scots, figured at the Gallow Lee. The custom, still prevalent in many parts of the country, and so dear to the Scottish schoolboy, of destroying his effigy with every indignity on the royal birthday, is first mentioned, we believe, in ?? Annals of the Reign of George 111.f 1770. But when only fields and green coppice lay between the city and the seaport, the gibbet at the Gallow Lee, with its ghastlyadditions,must have formed a gloomy object amid the smiling urban landscape. IN the beginning of the present century fields and nursery grounds chiefly bordered Leith Walk, CHAPTER XVI. LEITH WALK (concZdd). respectively Trotteis, Jollie?s, Ronaldson?s, and King?s Buildings-had been erected, with long open
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158 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith Walk. On the east side of the walk, overlooking the steep and deep Greenside ravine, the huge and hideous edifice named the ?? Tabernacle,? was long the scene of the ministrations of the Rev. James Alexander Haldane, who there, for more than forty years, devoted himself, gratuitously, and with exemplary assiduity, to preaching the Gospel. He was the son of Captain James Haldane of Airthrey, a descendant of the family of Gleneagles, and his mother was a sister of Admiral Viscount Duncan. He commenced life as a midshipman on board the Dukeof Morztrose, Indiaman, made four voyages to the East, and in his twenty-fifth year became captain of the MeZviZZe CasfZe, and was distinguished for his bravery amid many perils incident to life at sea. During the mutiny at Spithead, the spirit of the revolt was spread to the Dutton, a vessel alongside of Haldane?s, by the captain of fle former sending a man-ofiwar?s boat to have some of his men arrested for insubordination. The mutiny broke out on a dark night-shots were fired, and a man killed, Oh this, the future pastor of the Tabernacle lowered a boat with an armed crew, and went off to the Button, the crew of which threatened him with death if he did not sheer off; but he boarded her, sword in hand, and, driving the mutineers forward, addressed them on the folly of their conduct, the punishment that was certain to follow, and eventually overcame them without more bloodshed. Soon after this he resigned his command in the East India Company?s Service, and meant to adopt the life of a country gentleman ; but an intimacy with Mr. Black, minister of Lady Yester?s, and Mr. Buchanan, of the Canongate Church, led to a graver turn of thought, and, resolving to devote his life to the diffusion of the Gospel, he sold his beautiful estate at Airthrey to Sir Robert Abercromby, and failing in a missionary plan he had formed for India, he began to preach at home, first at Gilmerton in 1797, and afterwards on the Calton Hill, where the novelty of a sea-captain addressing them collected not less than 10,000 persons on more than one occasion. Eventually he became minister Of the then recently erected Tabernacle on the east side of Leith Walk, and so named from Mr. Whitefield?s places of worship. Eminent preachers from England frequently appeared here, and it was always crowded to excess. The seats were all free, and he derived no emolument from his office. At the period he commenced his public career, towards the end of the. last century, evangelical d0ctrir.e was at a low ebb, but through the instrumentality of Mr. Haldane and his brother, also a preacher, a considerable revival took place. The Tabernacle has long since been converted into shops. Immediately adjoining it on the south is a low square, squat-looking tower, with a fapde in the Tudor style forming a new front on an old house, pierced with the entrance to Lady Glenorchy?s Free Church, which stands immediately behind it. Where now we find the New London Road, running eastward from Leopold Place to Brunton Place, Ainslie?s plan of 1804 shows us in dotted line a ? Proposed new road to Haddington,? passing on the north a tolerably large pond, on the Earl of Moray?s property near the Easter Road-a pond only filled up when Regent Place and other similar streets were recently built at Maryfield-and on the south the Upper Quarry Holes-hollows still traceable at the east end of the Royal Terrace Gardens. A street of some kind of buildings occupied the site of the present Elm Row, as shown by a plan in I 787 ; and in the CaZedonian Merncry for 1812 a premium of three hundred guineas is offered for the best design for laying out in streets and squares, the lands in this quarter, on the east side of the walk, consisting of 300 acres. Here now we find Windsor Street, a handsome thoroughfare, built of white freestone, in a simple but severe style of Greek architecture, with massive fluted columns at every doorway. No. 23, in the year 1827 became the residence of the well-known Mrs. Henry Siddons. Previously she had resided at No. 63, York Place, and No. 2, Picardy Place. Three years after she came to Windsor Street, her twentyone years? patent of the old Theatre Royal, which she had camed on with her brother, W. H. Murray, as stage manager, came to a close, and on the 29th of March, 1830, this popular and brilliant actress took her farewell of the Edinburgh stage, in the character of Lady Towneley in The Provoked NUSb a d , meaning to spend the remainder of her life in retirement, leaving the theatre entirely to Mr. Murray. She was a beautiful woman, and a charming actress of a sweet, tender, and pathetic school. When she took up her residence in Windsor Street the ground was nearly all meadow land, from there to Warriston Crescent, says Miss F. A-Kemble, in her recent ? Reminiscences,? which is rather a mistake ; but she adds, ?? Mrs. Siddons held a peculiar position in Edinburgh, her widowhood, condition, and personal attractions combining to win the sympathy and admiration of its best society, while her high character and blameless conduct secured the respect and esteem of her theatrical subjects md the general public, with whom she was an object of almost affectionate personal regard, and
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