Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/102

This page needs to be proofread.


��The old inn still stands, ;i picturesque ruin and an interesting memorial of the discomfort of a long race of wandering strangers. No one here ever repeated with emotion, either great or small, Shenstone's lines :

" Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round,

Where'er his stages may have been, May sigh to think lie still has found

The warmest welcome at an inn."'

With a. little care it could have been made a. place where " a man might take his ease in his inn," for it stood aloof from the noise of the street, was well-built and was sufficiently roomy. An outside stone staircase, Which after a few steps turned right and left, led up to the first iloor, where doubtless, according to the common Scotch custom, the principal rooms were placed. With its turrets and its gables it must have looked pleasant enough to the young runaway couples as they hurried in from the Canongate, and passed the out- side staircases and open galleries of the houses on each side of the Close, and so went up to the large room where many a name was scratched with a diamond ring on the pane. " And they are gone,"


" Boswell," wrote Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, " has very handsome and spacious rooms ; level with the ground on one side of the house, and on the other four stories high." At this time, he was living in James's Court, on the northern side of the Lawnmarket, having lately removed from Chessel's Buildings in the Canongate. It is not easy for the stranger who passes from the thronged street under the low archway into that quiet, but gloomy, and even shabby-looking court, to picture to himself the gay and lively company which once frequented it. Now ragged, bare-footed

��1 Johnson repeated these lines with great emotion at the excellent inn at Chapel-Mouse in Oxfordshire. Boswell's_/flAKJO, ii. 452.

" Since writing the above I have learnt with great pleasure that this interesting but ruinous old building will not only be preserved, but pre- served to good uses. It has been purchased by Dr. A. II. F. Harbour and his sister Mrs. Whyte, and by them presented to the Edinburgh Social

��Union. It will be put into a state of thorough repair, and let out (o poor tenants on the plan followed by Miss Octavia Hill in London. I am informed that the two sides of the Close had been repaired by the Social Union before my visit, and that the pleasant outside staircases and open galleries which caught my eye were its work.

�� �