Admiral Fairfax – Bishop Terrot – Brigadier Hope – Sir T. M. Brisbane – Lord Meadowbank-Ewbank the R.S.A. – Death of Professor Wilson – Moray Place and its District – Lord President Hope – The Last Abode of Jeffrey – Baron Hume and Lord Moncrieff – Forres Street – Thomas Chalmers, D.D. – St. Colme Street – Captain Basil Hall – Ainslie Place – Dugald Stewart – Dean Ramsay – Great Stuart Street – Professor Aytoun – Miss Graham of Duntroon – Lord Jerviswoode.
IN the narrow and somewhat sombre thoroughfare named Northumberland Street have dwelt some people who were of note in their time.
In 1810 Lady Emily Dundas, and Admiral Sir William George Fairfax, resided in Nos. 46 and 53 respectively. The admiral had distinguished himself at the battle of Camperdown as flag-captain of the Venerable, under Admiral Duncan; and in consideration of his acknowledged bravery and merit on that occasion – being sent home with the admiral’s despatches – he was made knight-banneret, with an augmentation to his coat-of-arms in chief, a representation of H.M.S. Venerable engaging the Dutch admiral’s ship Vryheid; and to do justice to the memory of “departed worth,” at his death his son was made a baronet of Great Britain in 1836. He had a daughter named Mary, who became the wife of Samuel Greig, captain and commissioner in the imperial Russian navy.
No. 19 in the same street was for some years the residence of the Right Rev. Charles Hughes Terrot, D.D., elected in 1857 Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and whose quaint little figure, with shovel-hat and knee-breeches, was long familiar in the streets of Edinburgh. He was born at Cuddalore in the East Indies in 1790. For some reasons, though he had not distinguished himself in the Cambridge Tripos list of University honours, his own College (Trinity College) paid him the highest compliment in their power, by electing him a Fellow on the first occasion after he had taken his degree of B.A. in mathematical honours, and subsequently proceeded to M.A. and D.D. He did not remain long at college, as he soon married and went to Scotland, where he continued all his life attached to the Scottish Episcopal Church, as successively incumbent of Haddington, of St. Peter’s, and finally St. Paul’s, York Place, Edinburgh. In 1841 he was made bishop of Edinburgh, on the death of Bishop Walker. He was author of several works on theology. During the latter years of his life, from extreme age and infirmity, he had been entirely laid aside from his pastoral and episcopal labours; but during the period of his health and vigour few men were more esteemed in his pastoral relations as their minister, or by his brethren of the Episcopal Church for his acuteness and clever judgment in their discussions in church affairs.
The leading features of Dr. Terrot’s intellectual character were accuracy and precision rather than very extensive learning or great research. It was very striking sometimes after a subject had been discussed in a desultory and commonplace manner, to hear him coming down upon the question with a clear and cutting remark which put the whole matter in a new and distinct point of view.
He was long a Fellow and Vice-President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, to which he communicated some very able and acute papers, especially on logical and mathematical subjects. So also in his moral and social relations, he was remarkable for his manly, fair, and honourable bearing. He had what might essentially be called a pure and honest mind. He was devotedly attached to his own Church, and few knew better how to argue in favour of its polity and forms of service, never varying much in externals; but few men were more ready to concede to others the liberality of judgment which he claimed for himself. Hence it was that few men were more esteemed and respected by others than Dr. Terrot of the Episcopal Church. He died at 9 Carlton Street, Stockbridge, in April, 1872, in his eighty-second year.
No. 57 Northumberland Street was the residence of the gallant Sir John Hope (afterwards Lord Niddry and Earl of Hopetoun), while serving as Brigadier-General, after Corunna, on the staff in Scotland, from 1810 till he rejoined the Peninsular army and took command of the left wing at the battle of Nivelles.
The northern New Town is intersected by four steep thoroughfares that run north and south, being continuations of the corresponding streets south of Queen Street, and all, save in one instance, affording far-stretching views of the villas, woods, and fields that lie between them and the shore of the Forth, with the undulations of the Fifeshire hills beyond.
Dundas and Pitt Streets form the most stately of these thoroughfares. From them the view southwards is bounded by the distant spire of the Assembly Hall, and the double towers of the Free Church College, which present a singularly noble and striking aspect when beheld from the foot of the long descent of upwards of 1,300 yards.
In Dundas Street, in 1811, there were resident in Nos. 9, 26, and 31, respectively, Miss Macfarlane of that ilk, Munro of Culrain, and Thomas Brisbane of Brisbane and that ilk, the father of the eminent Lieut.-General Sir Thomas Macdougall Brisbane, Bart., latterly colonel of the 34th Regiment, and who distinguished himself greatly with the Duke of York’s army in Holland, in the West Indies under Abercrombie, and in several general actions in the Peninsula, and who died after being G.C.B., G.C.H., LL.D., and President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
North-westward of this, built on each side of the way which curved down towards Stockbridge, and where of old stood a farm with its steading, is the broad, spacious, and stately Royal Circus, with its gardens, the houses of which were finished and inhabited about the end of 1823. The late Lord Meadowbank, son of Allan Maconochie (also Lord Meadowbank), and the successor on the bench of Lord Reston in 1819, had his residence here in No. 13. As Lord Advocate in prior years his duties were of a most harassing and arduous description. In 1817, during what was named “the Radical era,” when the greatest political excitement, amounting in some instances to open insurrection, prevailed throughout the country, he had to defend himself in the House of Commons against a charge preferred by Lord Archibald Hamilton, and Henry (afterwards Lord) Brougham, of “oppression in the exercise of his duties,” an accusation made in the course of a warm discussion on the further suspension of the “Habeas Corpus Act,” and having reference to the case of a prisoner named Mackinlay, who, it was alleged, had been thrice put upon his defence.
No. 11 Howe Street, or a part thereof, was for some years the abode of an unfortunate English genius, John Ewbank, R.S.A., who was famous in his time as a marine and landscape painter. He was the son of Michael Ewbank of Gateshead, innkeeper, and was born at Darlington on the 4th May, 1799, and he removed to Gateshead in the year 1804. After being bound apprentice to Mr. Thomas Coulson, of Newcastle, he became a journeyman house-painter. He was the fellow- apprentice of Thomas Fenwick, the landscape painter. He accompanied his master to Edinburgh in 1816, and was encouraged by him to take lessons of Mr. Alexander Nasmyth, who resided in 47, York Place, after which he devoted his time to the higher department of painting. He lived long in No. 5 Comely Bank, where many of his finest pictures were painted; and it is in his declension that we find him at 11 Howe Street, in the years 1830 and 1831. He might have attained fame, and acquired opulence, as he painted well and quickly pictures that sold rapidly, but he fell into irregular habits, and sank into utter obscurity, and a somewhat untimely grave. Several of the views in this work have been engraved from drawings by John Ewbank.
In Gloucester Place, which adjoins the Circus on the west, we come upon the house No. 6, where genial Professor Wilson lived from 1826 till his death. In a letter written in the preceding year to Mr. Finlay of Easter Hill, one of his friends, he says:-
“I am building a house in Gloucester Place, a small street leading from the circus into Lord Moray’s grounds. This I am doing because I am poor, and money yielding no interest. If Jane (Mrs. Wilson) is better next winter I intend to carry my plan into effect of taking into my house two or three young gentlemen. Mention this in any quarter. Remember me kindly to your excellent wife.”
Thither he removed with his family from 29 Anne Street, but the project of having boarders was never put in execution, and the house became the centre of that cluster of home-bred authors whom he drew around him, and chiefly as contributors to Blackwood– “The Ettrick Shepherd,” Gait, and “Delta,” with the brilliant but short-lived nautical novelist, Michael Scott, who penned “Tom Cringle’s Log,” and the “Cruise of the Midge,” and other writers of greater note – Lockhart, Samuel Warren, De Quincey, Mrs. Hemans, Caroline Bowles, Jerrold, Dr. Maguire, and others, even while the “Waverley” radiance blazed elsewhere.
In the prime of his life, at the age of thirty-four, he had obtained the important chair of Moral Philosophy, in the greatest university of his native country, and that post is associated with his best fame. In Gloucester Place his career was a pleasant and prosperous one, marked chiefly by the rich articles which flowed from his pen monthly (though there he lost his amiable wife, a loss which he felt keenly, and which cast a gloom over all his actions at the time), the college lectures, and the award at each session end, to his rival essayists, the retreat in summer to sylvan Elleray and its circle of poets, or a visit to the Burns festival in Ayrshire.
The death of Mrs. Wilson affected him deeply, nigh to depriving him of reason, and when he resumed his duties next session it was with a solemn and crushed spirit; but when he saw the sympathy of his students, who worshipped him, he fairly broke down, and leaning his lion-like head upon his desk, exclaimed in a low voice, never forgotten by those who heard it, “Oh, gentlemen, forgive me! But since we last met I have been in the valley of the shadow of death!”
He was elected first President of the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution at its formation, and in 1852 he resigned the college chair, after an honorary pension from Government had been conferred upon him by Lord John Russell.
Many are the personal anecdotes still remembered of the Professor in his Edinburgh circle, or elsewhere, from jocose colloquy with Lord Robertson, to the incident of the unfortunate printer, who lost some editorial “copy” in his hat on the way to Blackwood’s, and returning to Gloucester Place to narrate the mishap, was so crushed by Wilson’s silent look as to take forthwith to his bed, so that his terrified wife, able to draw no explanation from him, went to the printing-office to ask what had been done to her husband. “I’ll shake my tawny mane at you,” was another expression which he often used; and, indeed, his magnificent head of hair looked like enough a lion’s.
After a long and severe illness John Wilson died at No. 6 Gloucester Place, on the 3rd of April, 1854, exactly as St. Stephen’s clock struck midnight. Failure of memory had been one of the precursors of his dissolution, which was more immediately preceded by a stroke of paralysis. He had barely gained the allotted term of threescore and ten. He was buried in the beautiful Dean Cemetery, on the 7th of April, and seldom has such a procession passed in the bright sunshine of a spring afternoon as that which went up Doune Terrace, by Moray Place and Randolph Crescent, to that sequestered spot, where lie a goodly company of Scottish men whose names will never die. On this day old students were there, who had come from distant places to pay their last tribute “to the old Professor.” The coffin was borne shoulder high, and followed by the Scottish Academy, the directors of the Philosophical Institution, the high constables, magistrates, members of the College of Justice, and all the officials of the University.
In his love of dumb animals his house at Gloucester Place was a rendezvous for dogs of all kinds. Of his own pets, “their name was legion,” says his daughter. “I remember Bronte, Rover, Fury, Paris, Charlie, Fido, Tip, and Grog.” Some of them and a hecatomb of others, besides gallant game-cocks, lie in the green behind No. 6, Gloucester Place, at the present hour.
But a few doors distant from the house of the Professor was the last Edinburgh abode, after he had risen to wealth and fame, and prior to his retirement to St. Andrews, of Robert Chambers – 1, Doune Terrace – the distinguished and well-known historical writer, and junior partner in the great publishing firm of W. and R. Chambers.
The local papers for October, 1823, announce that “the plan of the elegant octagon in Lord Moray’s ground is beginning to develop itself, and at the west end of Queen Street, on the north side, several noble houses (Albyn Place), are newly finished as to masonry.” The ground to the westward from the end of the Queen’s Street Gardens to the old Queensferry Road, and the crest of the high rocks that overhang the deep ravine, where the Leith runs brawling towards the sea, a great tabular tract, now occupied by Moray Place, Great Stuart Street, Ainslie Place, and Randolph Crescent, was all, until 1823, open country, or verdant and beautifully wooded park, in the centre of which stood the Earl of Moray’s seat of Drumsheugh. The scenery there was charming then; in 1783 it was the abode of Francis, Earl of Moray, who died in 1810 in his house of Drumsheugh. Here also died in 1791, Lord Doune, eldest son of the Earl of Moray, and M.P. for Bedwin, Wilts.
The edificed places now upon it were erected in 1822-3 and following years, according to plans and designs by Gillespie Graham; and though stately, have been – perhaps justly – regarded by some critics as, “beautifully monotonous, and magnificently dull;” and by others as the beau-ideal of a fashionable west-end quarter; but whatever may be their intrinsic elegance, they have the serious and incurable fault of turning their frontages inwards, and shutting out completely, save from their irregular rows of back windows, the magnificent prospect over the valley of the Water of Leith and away to the Forth.
Moray Place, which reaches to within seventy yards of the north-west quarter of Queen Street, is a pentagon on a diameter of 325 yards, with an ornate and central enclosed pleasure ground. It displays a series of symmetrical, confronting facades, adorned at regular intervals with massive, quarter-sunk Doric columns, crowned by a bold entablature. No 28, on the west side, divided afterwards, was reserved as the residence of Francis tenth Earl of Moray, who married Lucy, second daughter of General John Scott, of Balcomie and Bellevue.
For years the Right Hon. Charles Hope, of Granton, Lord President of the Court of Session, and his son, John Hope, Solicitor-General for Scotland in 1822, and afterwards Lord Justice Clerk in 1841, lived in Moray Place, No. 12.
The former, long a distinguished senator and citizen, was born in 1763. His father, an eminent London merchant, and cadet of the house of Hopetoun, had been M.P. for West Lothian. Charles Hope was educated at the High School, where he attained distinction as dux of the highest class, and from the University he passed to the bar in 1784, and two years afterwards was Judge-Advocate of Scotland. In 1791 he was Steward of the Orkney and Shetland Isles, and in the first year of the century was Lord Advocate, and as such drew out and aided the magistrates in obtaining a Poor’s Bill for the city, on which occasion he was presented with a piece of plate valued at a hundred guineas.
When the warlike spirit of the country became roused at that time by the menacing aspect of France, none was more active among the volunteer force than Charles Hope. He enrolled as a private in the First Edinburgh Regiment, and was eventually appointed Lieut.-Colonel, and from 1801, with the exception of one year when the the corps was disbanded at the Peace of Amiens, he continued to command till its final dissolution in 1814. Kay gives us an equestrian portrait of him in 1812, clad in the now-apparently grotesque uniform of the corps, a swallow-tailed red coat, faced with blue and turned up with white; brass wings, and a beaver-covered helmet-hat with a side hackle, jack boots, and white breeches, with a leopard-skin saddle-cloth and crooked sabre. The corps presented him with a superb sword in 1807. He personally set an example of unwearied exertion; his speeches on several occasions, and his correspondence with the commander-in-chief, breathed a Scottish patriotism not less pure than hearty in the common cause. “We did not take up arms to please any Minister or set of Ministers,” he declared on one occasion, “but to defend our native land from foreign and domestic enemies.”
After being M.P. for Dumfries, on the elevation of Mr. Dundas to the peerage in 1802, he was unanimously chosen a member for the city of Edinburgh, and during the few years he continued in Parliament, acted as few Lords Advocate have ever done, and notwithstanding the pressure of imperial matters and the threatening aspect of the times, brought forward several measures of importance to Scotland; but his parliamentary career was rendered somewhat memorable by an accusation of abuse of power as Lord Advocate, brought against him by Mr. Whitbread, resulting in a vast amount of correspondence and debating in 1803. The circumstances are curious, as stated by the latter:-
“Mr. Morrison, a farmer in Banffshire, had a servant of the name of Garrow, who entered a volunteer corps, and attended drills contrary to his master’s pleasure; and on the 13th of October last, upon the occasion of an inspection of the company by the Marquis of Huntly, he absented himself entirely from his master’s work, in consequence of which he discharged him. The servant transmitted a memorial to the Lord Advocate, stating his case, and begging to know what compensation he could by law claim from his late master for the injury he had suffered. His lordship gave it as his opinion that the memorialist had no claim for wages after the time he was dismissed, thereby acknowledging that he had done nothing contrary to law; but he had not given a bare legal opinion, he had prefaced it by representing Mr. Morrison’s act as unprincipled and oppressive, and that without proof or inquiry. Not satisfied with this, he next day addressed a letter to the Sheriff-substitute of Banffshire, attributing Mr. Morrison’s conduct to disaffection and disloyalty.”
The letter referred to described Morrison’s conduct as “atrocious,” and such as could only have arisen from a spirit of treason, adding, “it is my order to you as Sheriff-substitute of the county, that on the first Frenchman landing in Scotland, you do immediately apprehend and secure Morrison as a suspected person, and you will not liberate him without a communication with me; and you may inform him of these, my orders. And further, I shall do all I can to prevent him from receiving any compensation from any part of his property which may either be destroyed by the enemy or the King’s troops to prevent it falling into their hands.”
In the debate that ensued, Fox and Pitt took animated parts, and Charles Hope ably defended himself, saying that had Mr. Whitbread made such an accusation against him in Edinburgh, “there would be 100,000 tongues ready to repel the charge, and probably several arms raised against him who made it.” He described the defenceless state of the country, and the anomalous duties thrown upon the Lord Advocate since the Union, after which the Privy Council, Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State, were illegally abolished, adding that Morrison was influenced by the Chairman of the “Society of Friends of Universal Liberty,” in Portsoy, one of whose favourite measures was to obstruct and discourage the formation of volunteer corps to repel the expected invasion.
Pitt spoke eloquently in his defence, contending that “great allowances were to be made for an active and ardent mind placed in the situation of Advocate-General.” He voted for the order of the day, and against the original motion. When the House divided, 82 were for the latter, and 159 against it; majority, 77.
On the death of Sir David Rae of Eskgrove, in 1804, he was appointed Lord Justice Clerk, and on taking his seat addressed the Bench in a concise and eloquent speech, which was long one of the traditions of the Court. During seven years that he administered justice in the Criminal Court, his office was conducted with ability, dignity, and solemnity.
On the death of the Lord President Blair, in 1811, Charles Hope was promoted in his place, and when taking his seat, made a warm and pathetic panegyric on his gifted predecessor, and the ability with which he filled his station for a period of thirty years is still remembered in the College of Justice. He presided, in 1820, at the special commission for the trial of the high treason cases in Glasgow and the West; and sixteen years afterwards, on the death of James Duke of Montrose, K.G., by virtue of an act of parliament, he was appointed Lord Justice-General of Scotland, and as such, having to preside in the Justiciary Court, he went back there after an absence of twenty-five years. At the proclamation of Queen Victoria he wore the robes of Lord Justice-General. He died and was succeeded in office, in 1841, by the Right Hon. David Boyle of Shewalton; and his son John, who in that year had been appointed Lord Justice Clerk, after being Dean of Faculty, also died at Edinburgh in 1858.
No. 24 Moray Place was the last and long the town residence of Lord Jeffrey, to whom we have had often to refer in his early life elsewhere. Here it was, that those evening reunions (Tuesdays and Fridays) which brightened the evening of his life, took place. “Nothing whatever now exists in Edinburgh that can convey to a younger generation any impression of the charms of that circle. If there happened to be any stranger in Edinburgh worth seeing you were sure to meet him there.”
The personal appearance of the first recognised editor of the Edinburgh Review was not remarkable. His complexion was very swarthy; his features were good and intellectual in cast and expression; his forehead high and lips firmly set. He was very diminutive in stature – a circumstance that called forth innumerable jokes from his friend Sydney Smith, who once said, “Look at my little friend Jeffrey; he hasn’t body enough to cover his mind decently with; his intellect is indecently exposed.” On another occasion, Jeffrey having arrived unexpectly at Foston when Smith was from home, amused himself by joining the children, who were riding a donkey. After a time, greatly to the delight of the youngsters, he mounted the animal, and Smith returning at the time, sang the following impromptu:-
“Witty as Horatius Flaccus,
Great a Jacobin as Gracchus,
Short, but not as fat as Bacchus,
Riding on a little Jackass!”
His fondness for children was remarkable. He was never so happy as when in their society, and was a most devoted husband and father.
He was Dean of Faculty, and prior to his elevation to the Bench, when he came to 24 Moray Place, had some time previously resided in 92 George Street. Deemed generally only as a crusty and uncompromising critic, he possessed great goodness of heart and domestic amiability. In his latter years, when past the psalmist-appointed term of life, he grew more than ever tender-hearted and amiable, praised nursery songs, patronised mediocrities, and wrote letters that were childish in their gentleness of expression. “It seemed to be the natural strain of his character let loose from some stern responsibility, which made him sharp and critical through all his former life.”
In their day his critical writings had a brilliant reputation, but he was too much a votary of the regular old rhetorical style of poetry to be capable of appreciating the Lake school, or any others among his own contemporaries: and thus he was apt to make mistakes, draw wrong deductions as to a writer’s future, and indulge in free-and-easy condemnation.
He was passionately attached to his native city, Edinburgh, and was always miserable when away from it. It was all the same through life – he never could reconcile himself to new places, new people, or strange habits; and thus it was that his letters, in age, from Oxford, from London, and America, teem with complaints, and longing for home. His industry was indefatigable, and his general information of the widest range, perfectly accurate, and always at command. He died in 1850, in his seventy-seventh year, and was borne from Moray Place to his last home in the cemetery at the Dean.
In No. 34 lived the Hon. Baron David Hume, of the Scottish Exchequer in 1779 and 1780, nephew of the historian, and an eminent writer on the criminal jurisprudence of the country, one of the correspondents of the Mirror Club, and who for many years sat with Sir Walter Scott, at the Clerks’ table in the first Division of the Court of Session. No. 47 was long the abode of Sir James Wellwood Moncreiff, Bart., of Tullibole in Kinross-shire, who was called to the Scottish bar in 1799, and was raised to the bench in 1829, under the title of Lord Moncreiff, and died in 1851.
His contemporary Baron Hume, filled various important situations with great ability, having been successively Sheriff of Berwickshire and of West Lothian, Professor of Scots Law in the University of Edinburgh, and Baron of Exchequer till the abolition of the Court in 1830. His great work on the Criminal Law of Scotland has been deemed the text-book of that department of jurisprudence, and is constantly referred to as an authority, by bench and bar. It was published in 2 vols, quarto in 1799. He died at Edinburgh on the 30th August, 1838, and left in the hands of the secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh a valuable collection of MSS. and letters belonging to, or relating to his celebrated uncle, the historian of England.
In Forres Street – a short and steep one opening south from Moray Place – No. 3 was the residence of the great Thomas Chalmers, D.D., the leader of the Free Church movement, a large-hearted, patriotic, and devout man, and of whom it has been said, that he was pre-eminently in the unity of an undivided life, at once a man of God, a man of science, and a man of the world. He was born on the 17th of March, 1780. As a preacher, it is asserted, that there were few whose eloquence was capable of producing an effect so strong and irresistible as his, without his ever having recourse to any of the arts of common pulpit enthusiasm.
His language was bold and magnificent; his imagination fertile and distinct, gave richness to his style, while his arguments were supplied with a vast and rapid diversity of illustration, and all who ever heard him, still recall Thomas Chalmers with serious and deep-felt veneration.
He is thus described in his earlier years, and long before he took the great part he did in the storm of the Disruption:-
“At first sight his face is a coarse one – but a mysterious kind of meaning breathes from every part of it, that such as have eyes cannot be long without discovering. It is very pale, and the large half-closed eyelids have a certain drooping melancholy about them, which interested me very much, I understood not why. The lips, too, are singularly pensive in their mode of falling down at the sides, although there is no want of richness and vigour in their central fulness of curve. The upper lip from the nose downwards, is separated by a very deep line, which gives a sort of leonine firmness of expression to all the lower part of the face. The cheeks are square and strong, in texture like pieces of marble, with the cheek bones very broad and prominent. The eyes themselves are light in colour, and have a strange, dreamy heaviness, that conveys any idea than – that of dulness, but which contrasts in a wonderful manner with the dazzling watery glare they exhibit when expanded in their sockets and illuminated into all their flame and fervour in some moment of high entranced enthusiasm. But the shape of the forehead is perhaps the most singular part of the whole visage; and indeed it presents a mixture so very singular, that I should have required some little time to comprehend the meaning of it… In the forehead of Dr. Chalmers there is an arch of imagination, carrying out the summit boldly and roundly, in a style to which the heads of very few poets present anything comparable – while over this again there is a grand apex of veneration and love, such as might have graced the bust of Plato himself, and such as in living men I had never beheld equalled in any but the majestic head of Canova. The whole is edged with a few crisp locks, which stand boldly forth and afford a fine relief to the death-like paleness of those massive temples.”
He died on the 31st May, 1847, since when his Memoirs have been given to the world by Dr. William Hanna, with his life and labours in Glasgow, his residence in St. Andrews, and his final removal to Edinburgh, his visits to England, and the lively journal he kept of what he saw and did while in that country.
St. Colme Street, the adjacent continuation of Albyn Place, is so named from one of the titles of the Moray family, a member of which was commendator of Inchcolm in the middle of the 16th century.
Here No. 8 was the residence of Captain Basil Hall, R.N., the popular writer on several subjects. He was the second son of Sir James Hall of Dunglass, Bart., and Lady Helena Douglas, daughter of Dunbar, third Earl of Selkirk.
He was made captain in 1817, but in the preceding year, when in command of the Lyra, he visited the islands on the coast of Corea, which in honour of his father, his friend Captain (afterwards Sir Murray) Maxwell, named Sir James Hall’s Group; and in 1818 he published his voyage to Corea and the Great Loochoo Island in the Sea of Japan. In 1824 he published at Edinburgh his experience on the coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico, during the three preceding years. His travels in North America followed; but the work by which he is best known – his pleasant “Fragments of Voyages and Travels, including Anecdotes of Naval Life,” in three volumes, he published at Edinburgh in 1831, during his residence in St. Colme Street where some of his children were born. “Patchwork,” a work in three volumes, he published in England in 1841. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Hunter, Consul-general in Spain, and died at Portsmouth in 1844, leaving behind him the reputation of having been a brave and intelligent officer, a good and benevolent man, and a faithful friend.
Ainslie Place is an expansion of Great Stuart Street, midway between Moray Place and Randolph Crescent. It forms an elegant, spacious, and symmetrical double crescent, with an ornamental garden in the centre, and is notable for containing the houses in which Dugald Stewart and Dean Ramsay lived and died, namely, Nos. 5 and 23.
To the philosopher we have already referred in our account of Lothian Hut, in the Horse Wynd. In 1792 he published the first volume of the “Philosophy of the Human Mind,” and in the following year he read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh his account of the life and writings of Adam Smith; and his other works are too well-known to need enumeration here. On the death of his wife, in 1787, he married Helen D’Arcy Cranstoun, daughter of the Hon. George Cranstoun, who, it is said, was his equal in intellect, if superior in blood. She was the sister of the Countess Purgstall (the subject of Basil Hall’s “Schloss Hainfeldt”) and of Lord Corehouse, the friend of Sir Walter Scott.
Though the least beautiful of a family in which beauty is hereditary, she had (according to the Quarterly Review, No. 133) the best essence of beauty, expression, a bright eye beaming with intelligence, a manner the most distinguished, yet soft, feminine, and singularly winning. On her ill-favoured Professor she doted with a love-match devotion; to his studies and night lucubrations she sacrificed her health and rest; she was his amanuensis and corrector at a time when he was singularly fortunate in his pupils, who never forgot the charm of her presence, the instruction they won, and the society they enjoyed, in the house of Dugald Stewart. Among these were the Lords Dudley, Lansdowne, Palmerston, Kinnaird, and Ashburton. In all his after-life he maintained a good fellowship with them, and, in 1806, obtained the sinecure office of Gazette writer for Scotland, with £600 per annum.
Her talent, wit, and beauty made the wife of the Professor one of the most attractive women in the city. “No wonder, therefore,” says the Quarterly, “that her saloons were the resort of all that was the best of Edinburgh, the house to which strangers most eagerly sought introduction. In her Lord Dudley found indeed a friend, she was to him in the place of a mother. His respect for her was unbounded, and continued to the close; often have we seen him, when she was stricken in years, seated near her for whole evenings, clasping her hand in both of his. Into her faithful ear he poured his hopes and his fears, and unbosomed his inner soul; and with her he maintained a constant correspondence to the last.”
Her marriage with the Professor came about in a singular manner. When Miss Cranstoun, she had written a poem, which was accidentally shown by her cousin, the Earl of Lothian, to Dugald Stewart, then his private tutor, and unknown to fame; and he was so enraptured with it, and so warm in his commendations, that the authoress and her critic fell in love by a species of second-sight, before their first interview, and in due time were made one.
Dugald Stewart died at his house in Ainslie Place, on Wednesday, the 11th June, 1828, after a short but painful illness, when in the seventy-fifth year of his age, having been born in the old College of Edinburgh in 1753, when his father was professor of mathematics. His long life had been devoted to literature and science. He tad acquired a vast amount of information, profound as it was exact, and possessed the faculty of memory in a singular degree. As a public teacher he was fluent, animated, and impressive, with great dignity and grace in his manner.
He was buried in the Canongate churchyard. The funeral procession proceeded as a private one from Ainslie Place at three in the afternoon; but on reaching the head of the North Bridge it was joined by the Senatus Academicus in their gowns (preceded by the mace bearer) two and two, the junior members in front, the Rev. Principal Baird in the rear, together with the Lord Provost, magistrates and council, with their officers and regalia.
He left a widow and two children, a son and daughter, the former of whom, Lieutenant-Colonel Matthew Stewart, published an able pamphlet on Indian affairs. His widow, who holds a high place among writers of Scottish song, survived him ten years, dying in July, 1838.
The Very Rev. Edward Bannerman Ramsay, LL.D. and F.R.S.E., a genial writer on several subjects, but chiefly known for his “Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character,” was long the occupant of No. 23. He was the fourth son of Sir Alexander Ramsay, Bart., of Balmaine, in Kincardineshire, and was a graduate of St. John’s College, Cambridge. His degree of LL.D. was given him by the University of Edinburgh, on the installation of Mr. Gladstone as Lord Rector in 1859. He held English orders, and for seven years had been a curate in Somersetshire. His last and most successful contribution to literature was derived from his long knowledge of Scottish character. He was for many years Dean of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, and as a Churchman he always advocated moderate opinions, both in ritual and doctrine. He died on the 27th December, 1872, in the seventy-ninth year of his age.
In the summer of 1879 a memorial to his memory was erected at the west end of Princes Street, eastward of St. John’s Church, wherein he so long officiated. It is a cross of Shap granite, twenty-six feet in height, having a width of eight feet six inches from end to end of the arms. At the height of sixteen feet there spring curves which bend round into the arms, while between those arms and the upright shaft are carried four arcs, having a diameter of six feet.
On each of its main faces the cross is divided into panels, in which are inserted bronze bas-reliefs, worked out, like the whole design, from drawings by R. Anderson, A.R.S.A. Those occupying the head and arms of the cross represent the various stages of our Lord’s Passion, the Resurrection and the Ascension; in another series of six, placed thus on either side of the shaft, are set forth the acts of charity, while the large panels in the base are filled in with sculptured ornament of the fine twelfth-century type, taken from Jedburgh abbey.
Three senators of the College of Justice have had their abodes in Ainslie Place – Lord Barcaple, raised to the bench in 1862, Lord Cowan, a judge of 1851, and George Cranstoun, Lord Corehouse, the brother of Mrs. Dugald Stewart, who resided in No. 12. This admirable judge was the son of the Hon. George Cranstoun of Longwarton, and Miss Brisbane of that ilk. He was originally intended for the army, but passed as advocate in 1793, and was Dean of Faculty in 1823, and succeeded to the bench on the death of Lord Hermand, three years after. He was the author of the famous Court of Session jeu d’esprit, known as “The Diamond Beetle Case,” an amusing and not overdrawn caricature of the judicial style, manners, and language, of the judges of a bygone time.
He took his judicial title from the old ruined castle of Corehouse, near the Clyde, where he had built a mansion in the English style. He was an excellent Greek scholar, and as such was a great favourite with old Lord Monboddo, who used to declare that “Cranstoun was the only scholar in all Scotland,” the scholars in his opinion being all on the south side of the Tweed.
He was long famed for being the beau-ideal of a judge; placid and calm, he listened to even the longest debates with patience, and was an able lawyer, especially in feudal questions, and his opinions were always received with the most profound respect.
Great Stuart Street leads from Ainslie Place into Randolph Crescent, which faces the Queensferry Road, and has in its gardens some of the fine old trees which in former times adorned the Earl of Moray’s park.
In No. 16 of the former street lived and died, after his removal from No. 1, Inverleith Terrace, the genial and patriotic author of the “Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers,” a Scottish humourist of a very high class. William Edmondstoune Aytoun, Professor of Rhetoric in the University of Edinburgh, was born in 1813, of a fine old Fifeshire family, and in the course of his education at one of the seminaries of his native capital, he became distinguished among his contemporaries for his powers of Latin and English composition, and won a prize for a poem on “Judith.” In his eighteenth year he published a volume entitled “Poland and other Poems,” which attracted little attention; but after he was called to the bar, in 1840, he became one of the standing wits of the Law Courts, yet, save as a counsel in criminal cases, he did not acquire forensic celebrity as an advocate.
Five years afterwards he was presented to the chair of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the University, and became a leading contributor to Blackwood’s Magazine, in which his famous “Lays,” that have run through so many editions, first appeared. Besides these, he was the author of many brilliant pieces in the “Book of Ballads,” by Bon Gaultier, a name under which he and Sir Theodore Martin, then a solicitor in Edinburgh, contributed to various periodicals.
In April, 1849, he married Jane Emily Wilson, the youngest daughter of “Christopher North,” in whose class he had been as a student in his early years, a delicate and pretty little woman, who predeceased him. In the summer of 1853 he delivered a series of lectures on “Poetry and Dramatic Literature,” in Willis’s Rooms, to such large and fashionable audiences as London alone can produce; and to his pen is ascribed the mock-heroic tragedy of “Firmilian,” designed to ridicule, as it did, the rising poets of “The Spasmodic School.” With all his brilliance as a humourist, Aytoun was unsuccessful as a novelist, and his epic poem “Bothwell,” written in 16 Great Stuart Street, did not bring him any accession of fame.
In his latter years, few writers on the Conservative side rendered more effective service to their party than Professor Aytoun, whom, in 1852, Lord Derby rewarded with the offices of Sheriff and Vice-Admiral of Orkney.
Among the many interesting people who frequented the house of the author of “The Lays” few were more striking than an old lady of strong Jacobite sentiments, even in this prosaic age, Miss Clementina Stirling Graham, of Duntrune, well worthy of notice here, remarkable for her historical connections as for her great age, as she died in her ninety-fifth year, at Duntrune, in 1877. Born in the Seagate of Dundee, in 1782, she was the daughter of Stirling of Pittendreich, Forfarshire, and of Amelia, daughter of Alexander Graham, of Duntrune, who died in 1804, and was thus the last lineal representative of Claverhouse.
In addition to her accomplishments, she possessed wit and invention in a high degree, and was always lively, kind, and hospitable. She had a keen perception of the humorous, and was well known in Edinburgh society in the palmy days of Jeffrey. Gifted with great powers of mimicry, her personifications at private parties were so unique, that even those who knew her best were deceived. One of the most amusing of these took place in 1821, at the house of Jeffrey.
He asked her to give a personation of an old lady, to which she consented, but, in order to have a little amusement at his expense, she called upon him in the character of a “Lady Pitlyal,” to ask his professional opinion upon an imaginary law plea, which she alleged her agent was misconducting.
On this occasion she drove up to his house in the carriage of Lord Gillies, accompanied by a young lady as her daughter, and so complete was the personification, that the acute Jeffrey did not discover till next day that he had been duped! This episode created so much amusement in Edinburgh that it found its way into the pages of Blackwood. Sir Walter Scott, who was a spectator of Miss Graham’s power of personation, wrote thus regarding it:-
“March 7. Went to my Lord Gillies to dinner, and witnessed a singular exhibition of personification. Miss Stirling Graham, a lady of the family from which Claverhouse was descended, looks like good humour. Her conversation, so far as I have had the advantage of hearing it, is shrewd and sensible, but noways brilliant. She dined with us, went off as to the play, and returned in the character of an old Scottish lady. Her dress and behaviour were admirable, and her conversation unique. I was in the secret of course, and did my best to keep up the ball, but she cut me out of all feather. The prosing account she gave of her son, the antiquary, who found an old ring in a slate quarry, was extremely ludicrous, and she puzzled the professor of agriculture with a merciless account of the succession of crops in the parks around her old mansion house. No person to whom the secret was not entrusted had the least guess of an impostor, except the shrewd young lady present, who observed the hand narrowly, and saw that it was plumper than the age of the lady seemed to warrant. This lady and Miss Bell, of Coldstream, have this gift of personation to a much greater degree than any Miss Graham published in 1829 the “Bee Preserver,” translated from the work of M. de Gelieu, for which she received the medal of the Highland Society. She possessed a large circle of friends, and never had an enemy.
Her friend William Edmondstoune Aytoun died on the 4th August, 1865, sincerely regretted by all who knew him, and now lies under a white marble monument in the beautiful cemetery at the Dean.
Charles Baillie, Lord Jerviswoode, who may well be deemed by association one of the last of the historical Lords of Session, for years was the occupant of No. 14, Randolph Crescent, and his name is one which awakens many sad and gentle memories. He was the second son of George Baillie of Jerviswoode, and a descendant of that memorable Baillie of Jerviswoode, who, according to Hume, was a man of merit and learning, a cadet of the Lamington family, and called “The Scottish Sidney,” but was executed as a traitor on the scaffold at Edinburgh, in 1683, having identified himself with the interests of Monmouth and Argyle. Lord Jerviswoode was possessed of more than average intellectual gifts, and still more with charms of person and manners that were not confined to the female side of his house. One sister, the Marchioness of Breadalbane, and another, Lady Polwarth, were both celebrated for their beauty, wit, and accomplishments. On the death of their cousin, in the year 1859, his eldest brother became tenth Earl of Haddington, and then Charles, by royal warrant, was raised to the rank of an earl’s brother.
Prior to this he had a long and brilliant course in law, and in spotless honour is said to have been “second to none.” He was called to the Bar in 1830, and after being Advocate Depute, Sheriff of Stirling, and Solicitor-General, was Lord Advocate in 1858, and M.P. for West Lothian in the following year, and a Lord of Session. In 1862 he became a Lord of Justiciary. He took a great interest in the fine arts, and was a trustee of the Scottish Board of Manufactures; but finding his health failing, he quitted the bench in July, 1874.
He died in his seventy-fifth year, on the 23rd of July, 1879, at his residence, Dryburgh House, in Roxburghshire, near the ruins of the beautiful abbey in which Scott and his race lie interred. For the last five years of his life little had been heard of him in the busy world, while his delicate health and shy nature denied him the power of taking part in public matters.