MR. ALEXANDER GORDON,
of the eminent firm of Stirling, Gordon & Co.,
from his well-known taste for the fine arts, was familiarly known by the
name of "Picture Gordon." He had a house built for him about the year A.D.
1804 or 1805, on the site now
occupied by the Royal Bank, the background of which extended over a
portion of what is now Royal Exchange Square. The stable stood upon the
site of the South Arch at Royal Exchange Place, and several of Mr.
Gordonís young friends, who long survived to tell the tale, spent many a
happy evening in a part of it which the kindly and genial-hearted
gentleman had fitted up as a theatre for their amusement. In it some of
the youngsters performed such plays as the tragedy of Douglas, the
comedy of She Stoops to Conquer, and other popular pieces, to the
great delight of all.
To preserve the amenity of his
mansion, Mr. Gordon purchased the then vacant ground on the opposite side,
which was subsequently formed into Gordon Street, and hence its name. A
venerable Glasgow antiquary states, that "to the north of the house in
question, and separated from it by a passage of some eight feet in width,
stood another dwelling-house, which had been erected in 1794 by Mr. Robert
Muir-head, a respectable merchant, but which, at the time in question, was
occupied by Mr. Gordonís relative, Mrs. Buchanan." The locality was then
an entirely rural one; and, as a proof of it, we may mention that in the
autumn of 1803, when one of this ladyís sons was looking out of the window
he observed a covey of partridges to alight upon the spot long occupied as
premises by the late Councillor Forrester and his son, upon which he took
his gun, went out, and immediately returned with a brace of them.
"In these days, however, it was no
unusual thing to kill game in the locality; and a venerable and respected
the Faculty of Procurators records that he has shot
many a hare in the cabbage gardens, the site of which is now taken up by
the fashionable Buchanan Street shops. Indeed all the space around was
occupied by garden ground, and the families, who then resided in the
thinly built Buchanan Street, used to pay a guinea per annum for the
privilege of walking through the parterres to the Grammar School, then
situated in George Street.
Mr. Gordon was the father of the
first corps of light-horse raised in Glasgow during the Revolutionary War,
and he was the last remaining member of the old race of Glasgow West India
merchants. He was also the first of our Glasgow merchants who possessed a
fine collection of paintings, the value of which was estimated at no less
than £30,000; but, unfortunately, some of them were burned in London,
where Mr. Gordon had gone to reside, after his removal from Glasgow.
Various interesting particulars
regarding how the collection was formed, with descriptions of two very
fine Guidos, which had long formed the boast and ornament of the Sala
Palace at Rome; of a small but brilliant Rubens, formerly in the Collona
Palace at Rome; and a statement, on good authority, "that Mr. Gordon was
offered by a great London collector £5,000" for these three pictures,
appeared under the signature of
"Mercator" in the Reformersí Gazette.
Mr. Alexander Gordon died in 1850, in Upper Canada, at
the advanced age of 95.