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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Lasswade.] CLERK OF ELDIN. 359 nishing supplies for local consumption and to other quarters, Lasswade sends about 30,000 tons of coal to Edinburgh every year. Auchindinny is a small village situated on the right bank of the Esk at the boundary with Penicuick, and is about five-and-a-half miles distant from Lasswade. It is inhabited by lace and paper makers. Scott, in his ballad ? The Gray Brother,? groups all the localities we have noted with wonderful effect :- ? I Sweet are the paths, oh passing sweet I By Esk?s fair streams that run, Impervious to the sun. O?er airy steep, through copsewood deep, ? There the rapt poet?s step may rove, And yield the muse the day ; There Beauty, led by timid Love, May shuq the tell-tale ray. ? From that fair dome, where suit is paid By blast of bugle free, To Auchindinny?s hazel shade, And haunted Woodhouselee. Who knows not Melville?s beechy grove, Dalkeith, which all the virtues love, And Roslin?s rocky glen, And classic Hawthornden I ?Yet never path from day to day, The pilgrim?s footsteps range, To Burndale?s ruined grange.? Save but? the solitary way, South of Lasswade Bridge, on the road to Polton -an estate which, in the early part of the eighteenth century, gave the title of Lord Polton to a senator of the College of Justice, Sir William Calderwood, called to the bench in I 71 I in succession to Lord Anstruther-is a house into which a number 01 antique stones were built some years ago. One of these, a lintel, bears the following date and legend :- ? 1557. A. A. NOSCE TEIPSVM. Lasswade has always been a favourite summe1 resort of the citizens of Edinburgh. Sir Walter Scott spent some of the happiest summers of his life here, and amid the woodland scenery is supposed to have found materials for his description of Gandercleugh, in the Tales of my Land. lord.? His house was a delightful retreat, embowered among wood, and close to the Esk. There he continued all his favourite studies, and commenced that work which Erst established his name i-2 litera. ture, ? The Minstrelsy of the Scottish %order,? which he published at Edinburgh in 1802, and _ _ _ dedicated to his friend and chief, Henry Duke of Buccleuch. In prosecuting the collection of this work, Sir Walter made various excursions-? raids ? he used to call them-from Lasswade into the most remote recesses of the Border glens, assisted by one or two other enthusiasts in ballad lore, pre-eminent among whom was the friend, whose ?untimely fate he lamented so long, and whose memory he embalmed in verse-Dr. John Leyden. De Quincey, the ? English opium-eater,? spent the last seventeen years of his life in a humble cottage near Midfield House, on the road from Lasswade to Hawthornden, and there he prepared the collected edition. of his works. He died in Edinburgh on the 8th December, 1859. On high ground above the village stands Eldin House (overlooking Eldindean), the residence of John Clerk, inventor of what was termed in its day, before the introduction of ironclads and steam rams, the modern British system of naval tactics. He was the sixth son of Sir George Clerk of Penicuick, oneof the Barons of Exchequer in Scotland, and inherited the estate of Eldin in early life from his father. Although the longest sail he ever enjoyed was no farther than to the Isle of Arran, in the Firth of Clyde, he had from his boyhood a passion for nautical affairs, and devoted much of his time to the theory and practice ot naval tactics. After. communicating to some of his friends the new suggested system of breaking an enemy?s line of battle, he visited London in 1780, and conferred with several eminent men connected with the navy, among others, Mr. Richard Atkinson, the friend of the future Lord Kodney, and Sir Charles Douglas, Rodney?s ?? Captain of the Fleet ? in the mernorable action of 12th April, 1782, when the latter was victorious over the Comte de Grasse between Dominica and Les Saintes, in the West Indies. Since that time his principle was said to have been adopted by all our admirals ; and Howe, St. Vincent, Duncan, and even Nelson, owe to the Laird of Eldin?s manmuvre their most signal victories. In 1782 he had fifty copies of his ?Essay on Naval Tactics ? printed, for distribution among his private friends. It was reprinted in 1790, and second, third, and fourth parts were added in the seven subsequent years, and eventually, in 1804, the whole work was re-published anew, with a preface explaining the origin of his discoveries. ? Although Lord Rodney, as appears by a fragmentary life of Clerk written by Professor Playfair, in the ? Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,? never concealed in conversation his obliga
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tioiis to Mr. Clerk as the author of the system, yet the family of that distinguished admiral, in his ? Memoirs,? maintain that no communication of Mr. Clerk?s plan was ever made to their relative. Sir Howard Douglas, too, has come forward in various publications to claim the merit of the maneuvre for his father, the late Admiral Sir Charles Douglas. The origin of the suggestion, however, appears to rest indisputably with Mr. Clerk, who died May 10, 1812, at an advanced age.? He was the father of John Clerk, Lord Eldin, already referred to in earlier portions of this work. Paper has long been extensively manufactured at Lasswade. Springfield, a mile and a half north of the Esk, is a hamlet, with a population of some hundreds, who are almost entirely paper-makers. It is situated in a sylvan dell remarkable for its picturesque beauty. In 1763 there were only three paper-mills in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, and the quantity of paper made amounted to only 6,400 reams. There are now more than twenty mills in the county of Edinburgh, nine of which are on the North Esk, and nine on the Water of Leith. The first papermill was built at Lasswade about I 750 ; and by 1794 the labourers at it received and circulated in the village L3,ooo per annum. ? Mr. Simpson, the proprietor of two mills in this parish,? says the ? Statistical Account ? for the latter year, ? has the merit of being the first manufacturer in this country who has applied the liquor recommended by Berthollet in his new method of bleaching for the purpose of whitening rags.? He erected an apparatus for the preparation of it, and thus added greatly to the beauty and quality of the paper he produced.
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