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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


When all is considered, and we further know that the building was strong enough to have lasted many more ages, one cannot but regret that the palace of Mary de Guise, reduced as it was to vilebess, should not now be in existence. The site having been purchased by individuals connected with the Free Church, the buildings were removed in 1846 to make rodm for the erection of an academical institution, or college, for that body.? The demolition of this mansion brought to light a concealed chamber on the first floor, lighted by a narrow loophole opening into Nairne?s Close. The entrance had been by a movable panel, affording access to a narrow flight of steps wound round in the wall of the turnpike stair. The existence of this mysterious chamber was totally-unknown to the various inhabitants, and all tradition has been lost of those to whom it may have afforded escape or refuge. The Duke of Devonshire possesses an undoubted portrait of Mary of Guise, It represents her with a brilliantly fair complexion, with reddish, or auburn hair. This is believed to be the only authentic one in existence, That portrait alleged to be of her in the Trinity House at Leith is a bad copy, by Mytens, of that of her daughter at St. James?s. Some curious items connected with her Court are to be found in the accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, among them are the following :- At her coronation in 1540, ?Item, deliverit to ye French telzour, to be ane cote to Serrat, the Queen?s fule,? &c. Green and yellow seems to have been the Court fool?s livery; but Mary of Guise, seems to have had a female buffoon and male and female dwarfs :-? 1562. Paid for ane cote, hois, lyning and making, to Jonat Musche, fule, A 4 5s. 6d.; 1565, for green plaiding to make ane bed to Jardinar the fule, with white fustione fedders,? &c.; in 1566, there is paid for a garment of red and yellow, to be a gown ?( for Jane Colqu-, houn, fule;? and in 1567, another entry, for broad English yellow, U to be cote, breeks, also sarkis, to James Geddie, fide.? The next occupant of the Guise palace, or of that portioli thereof which stood in Tod?s Close, was Edward Hope, son of John de Hope, a Frenchman who had come to Scotland in the retinue of Magdalene, first queen of James V., in 1537. It continued in possession of the Hopes till 1691, when it was acquired by James, first Viscount Stair, for 3,000 guilders, Dutch money, probably in connection with some transaction in Holland, from whence he accompanied William of Orange four years before, In 1702 it was the abode and property of John Wightman of Mauldsie, afterwards Lord Provost of the city. From that period it was the residence of a succession of wealthy burgesses -the closes being then, and till a comparatively recent period, exclusively occupied by peers and dignitaries of rank and wealth. Since then it shared the fate of all the patrician dwellings in old Edinburgh, and became the squalid abode of a host of families in the most humble ranks of life. CHAPTER X THE LAWNMARKET. The Lawnmarket-RispE-The Weigh-house-Major Somerville and Captain Crawfod-Anderson?s Pills-Mylnc?s Court-James?s Court- Su John Lauder-Sir Islay Campbell-David Hum-?? Corsica? Boswell-Dr. Johnson-Dr. Blair-?? Gladstone?s Land?-A Fue in 1771. THE Lawnmarket is the general designation of that part of the town which is a continuation of the High Street, but lies between the head of the old West Bow and St. Giles?s Church, and is about 510 feet in length. Some venerable citizens still living can recall the time when this spacious and stately thoroughfare used to be so covered by the stalls and canvas baoths of the lawn-merchants,? with their webs and rolls of cloth of every description, that it gave the central locality an appearance of something between a busy country fair and an Indian camp. Like many other customs of the olden time this has passed away, and the name alone remains to indicate the former usages of the place, although the importance of the street was such that its occupants had a community of their own called the Lawnmarket Club, which was famous in its day for the earliest possession of English and foreign intelligence. Among other fashions and customs departed, it may be allowable here to notice an adjunct of the first-floor dwellings of old Edinburgh. The means of bringing a servant to the door was neither a knocker nor bell, but an apparatus peculiar to Scotland alone, and still used in some parts of Fife, called a risf, which consists of a slender bar of serrated or twisted iron screwed to the door in an upright position, about two inches from it, and furnished with a large ring, by which the bar could be rasped, or risped, in such a way as secured attention. In many instances the doors were also furnished with two eyelet-holes, through which the
Volume 1 Page 94
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