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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Scenes in and at the noted Old Saracen's Head Inn

THE following particulars regarding this noted place of entertainment for man and beast may be found interesting. It was built, "all of good hewn stone," in 1755, on the north side of the Gallowgate, at the Great Dovehill. This edifice—(where the Laird of M’Nab held high jinks when he visited the city ;—where Dr. Johnson, after his tour to the Hebrides with Boswell, thanked Providence that he at length felt himself an Englishman seated at a coal fire ;— where the Lords of Justiciary, after holding dread state at the Cross Court-house during the day, treated the bailies arid freeholders to a "poor man," alias, shoulder-blade of mutton, and oceans of claret at night ;—where the first mail-coach from London drew up on 7th July. 1788)—the Old Saracen’s Head—so celebrated as the fashionable hotel in the days of our fathers, still stands as stable externally as ever.

A worthy town councillor, who was a Gallowgate boy, loved to tell of the Saraeen’s Head Inn in all its glory. On the arrival of the mail especially, all the idlers of the city crowded round it, and at the door stood two waiters (who were specially selected for their handsome appearance) with embroidered coats, red plush breeches, and powdered hair, to welcome the passengers to the comforts inside.

When the judges, or the sporting Duke of Hamilton, were expected, the waiters got themselves up in a still more ornate style, and even mounted silk stockings; and on these occasions they were looked up to with awe, wonder, and respect, by all the urchins in the neighbourhood. Here was to be got the only post-chaises or gigs which the city could boast of.

The departure of a return chaise was a matter of import in those days, and as such publicly announced to the citizens; not by handbills and advertisements, but by sending round the bellman, a public duty which another Glasgow antiquary records as being frequently discharged by Dougal Graham.

Though this hoary relic of the past, "The Old Saracen’s Head" building, "still stands" (1802), its glory has departed, as it now serves as a tenement of small houses for the humbler classes, with shops fronting to the Gallowgate, corner of Great Dovehill.

A large portion of the stones used in its construction were taken, by permission of the magistrates, from "The Bishop’s Palace."

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