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The Character Statues

Jeanie Deans

Found on the lower tier of the north-east buttress of the Scott Monument.

Jeanie Deans is represented dressed in the old scottish fashion with a gown wrapped in plaid which is also drawn over her fine head of hair. She is anxious yet resolute - holding a bundle and setting out to London to rescue her sister.

Jeanie Deans (The Heart of Midlothian, 1818): Based on the historical figure Helen Walker (circa 1712 to 1791), Jeanie is Scott's fullest and most interesting female character. She is of good Presbyterian stock, simple but also astute, "a plain, true-hearted, honest girl": "her only peculiar charm was an air of inexpressible serenity, which a good conscience, kind feelings, contented temper, and the regular discharge of all her duties, spread over her features".

She refuses to tell a lie, not even to save the life of her sister Effie, who is accused of child-murder and incarcerated in the Tolbooth jail or "Heart of Midlothian" in Edinburgh. Instead she walks to London, petitions the Duke of Argyle to procure a royal pardon for Effie, and achieves her aim.

Her advice to the Duke before he approaches the Queen is memorable: "If ye ever condescend to speak to ony ane that is of greater degree than yoursell, though maybe it is nae civil in me to say sae, just if you would think there can be nae sic odds between you and them, as between poor Jeanie Deans from Saint Leonard's and the Duke of Argyle; and so dinna be chappit back or cast down wi' the first rough answer."

About the Sculptor

William Brodie (1815 to 1881)

William Brodie was born in Banff on 22 January and died in Edinburgh 30 October 1881. He was the son of a shipmaster who moved to Aberdeen with his family. William was apprenticed as a plumber and studied at the Mechanics Institute,where he began casting small figures in lead. He developed onto modelling medallion portraits and in 1847 was encouraged to study at the Trustees School of Design, where he learnt to model on a larger scale. One of his first works was a bust of his patron Lord Jeffrey.

He was elected ARSA (Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy) in 1851, RSA (Royal Scottish Academy) in 1859 and became Secretary of the RSA in 1876.

Other works in bronze include: ‘Greyfriars Bobby’ (1872) near Greyfriars Kirkyard; ‘A Peer and his Lady Doing Homage’ (1875) for the Prince Consort Memorial in Charlotte Square, Sir James Young Simpson (1877) Princes Street West.

Other works in stone are ‘The Genius of Architecture crowning the Theory and Practice of the Art’ and the monument to Dugald Stewart on Calton Hill, a portrait bust of Rev. John Paul in St. Cuthberts church, as well as several on the Scott Monument - Jeanie Deans, The Earl of Leicester, Amy Robsart, Edith of Lorn, Oliver Cromwell, Helen MacGregor,and Madge Wildfire.

‘In portraiture Brodie had a peculiarly happy knack of catching the likeness. Furthermore, it was almost always a pleasing and characteristic likeness elevated without being over idealised.’

- Quote taken from the dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture.

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