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