Old and New Edinburgh

Old and New Edinburgh

Volume II

274 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. THE mansion of the Earls of Iiyndford immediately adjoined that of the Earls of Selkirk, and the two edifices were thrown into one to form a Catholic chopel house, but the former gave its name to Hyndford's Close. " This was a Scottish peergallant Lieutenant-Colonel John Campbell, of the Black Watch, whose memorable defence of Mangalore from May, 1783, to January, 1784, arrested the terrible career of Tippoo Sahib, and shed a glory over the British campaign in Mysore. The colonel died of exhaustion at Bombay soon after. Upon leaving Elphinstone Court, his father resided latterly in George Square, where he died in June, 1801. Midway up South Gray's Close, a tall turreted mansion, with a tolerably good garden long attached to it, and having an entrance from Hyndford's Close, was the town residence of the Earls of Selkirkthere, at least in 1742, resided Dunbar, fourth Earl (eldest son of Basil Hamilton, of Baldoon), who resumed the name of Douglas on his succeeding to the honours of Selkirk. He married a grand-daughter of Thomas, Earl of Haddington, and had ten children, one of whom, Lord Daer, on attaining manhood, became, at the commencement of the French Revolution, an adherent of that movement and a "Friend of the People;" and deeming the article of the Union with England, on which was founded the exclusion of the eldest sons of Scottish peers from representing their native country in Parlianient, and from voting at elections there, injurious, insulting, and incorrectly interpreted, he determined to try the question; but decisions were given against him in the Court of Session and House of Lords. He pre-deceased his father, who died in 1799. The next occupant of that old house was Dr. Daniel Rutherford, professor of botany, and said to be the first discoverer or inventor of gas. For his thesis, on taking his degreesf M.D. at the university of Edinburgh in 1772, he 'chose a chemical subject, De Aere Mihifim, which, from the originality of its views, obtained the highest encomiums from Dr. Black. In this dissertation he demonstrated, though without explaining its properties, " the existence of a peculiar air, or new age:" says Robert Chambers, " not without its glories-witness particularly the third earl, who acted as ambassador in succession to Prussia, to Russia, and to Vienna. It is now extinct ; its byoutme, its pictures, including portraits of Maria gaseous fluid, to wliich some eminent modern philosophers have given the name of azote, and others of nitrogen." That Dr. Rutherford first discovered this gas is now generally admitted; ahd, as Bower remarks in his " History of the University of Edinburgh," the reputation of his discovery being speedily spread through Europe, his character as a chemist of the first eminence was firmly established. He died suddenly. on the 15th of December, 1819, in his seventy-first year, and it was soniewhat remarkable that one of his sisters died two days after him, on the 17th, and another, the excellent mother of Sir Walter Scott, within seven days of the latter, viz., on the 24th of the same month, and that none of the three knew of the death of the other, so cumbrous were the postal arrangements of those days. " Sir Walter Scott, who," says Robert Chambers, '*being a nephew of that gentleman, was often in the house in his young days, communicated to me a curious circumstance connected with it. It appears that the house immediately adjacent was not furnished with a stair wide enough to allow ot a coffin being camed down in decent fashion. It had, therefore, what the Scottish law calls a servitude upon Dr. Rutherford's house, conferring the perpetual liberty of bringing the deceased inmates through a passage into that house, and down ifs stair into the lane," thus affording another curious example of how confined and narrow were the abodes of the ancient citizens. It was latterly the priest's house of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic church, and was beautifully restored by the late Dr. Marshall, but is now demolished. In Edgar's 'map of Edinburgh in 1765 the whole space between the Earl of Selkirk's house on the west and St. hfary's Wynd on the east, and between the Marquis of Tweeddale's house on the north,'nearly to the Cowgate Port on the south, is shown as a fine open space, pleasantly 'planted with rows of trees and shrubbery.
Volume 2 Page 274
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Volume 2 Page 275
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