Old and New Edinburgh

Old and New Edinburgh

Volume IV

exasperated people. In the days of its declension, the Darien House was abandoned to the uses of a lunatic asylum for the paupers of the adjoining workhouse. South of it stood a square edifice, which was latterly used for the same purpose. In the early part of the eighteenth century this was the mansion house of a wealthy quaker, named Buntin (or Bontein), whose THE CHARITY WORKHOUSE, 1820. (Afrrr SfOrCr) occupied by several blocks of new buildings, in making the excavations for which the labourers found that nearly the whole area had been an ancient and forgotten cemetery, the bones and coffins in which lay at an average depth of six feet below the surface. The first Merchant Maiden Hospital was built in 1707, on the east side of Bristo Street ; and in Mally." To see her leave the meeting-house in the Pleasance, all the bucks and gay fellows of the city were wont to crowd ; but from her father's house, at Bristo (in its last years a dispensary), she eloped with Mr. Craig, the minister of Currie, in the churchyard of which her tombstone still remains. To this latter house, as a Bedlam, a peculiarly melancholy interest attached, as it was there that Robert Fergusson, the iil-fated poet, died a raving lunatic in his twenty-fourth year, in 1774, after a contusion received by a fall down-stairs; and when his last hours came, his piteous shrieks for his "mother" often rang out upon the night. This house was removed,about the same time as the living in Denham's Land, in the same thoroughfare. This peer was one who carried the follies and fantastic vices of the age to such an extravagant length as led people to doubt his sanity. During the lifetime of his father, Earl Archibald, he had been frequently a debtor in the Tolbooth, and on the 28th January, 1726, was incarcerated there for " deforcement, not, and spulzie." In 1739 there occurs in the public journals a singular advertisement, issued by this ornament to the Scottish peerage, relative to the elopement of one Polly Rich, who had been engaged by him for a year. She is described as being about eighteen five feet six inches high, '' fine-shap'd, blue-ey'd, with black hair or nut-brown; all her linnen or
Volume 4 Page 324
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Volume 4 Page 325
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