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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


St. Giles. elasticity which the nation displayed in its endless ? naceus,? in the Harleian Collection in the British wars with England, showing how the general and local government vied with each other in the erection of ornate ecclesiastical edifices, the moment the invaders-few ot whom ever equalled Edward 111. in wanton ferocity-had re-crossed the Tweed. Xmong these we may specially mention the chapel of Robert Duke of Albany, now the most beautiful and interesting portion of this sadly defaced and misused old edifice. The ornamental sculptures of this portion are of a peculiarly striking character - heraldic devices forming the most prominent features on the capital of the great clustered pillar. On the south side are the arms of Robert Duke of Albany, son of King Robert II., and on the north are those of Xrchibald fourth Earl of Douglas, Duke of Tonraine and Marshal of France, who was slain at the battle of Verneuil by the English. In 1401 David Duke of Rothesay, the luckless son of Robert II., was made a prisoner by his uncle, the designing Duke of Albany, with the full consent of the aged king his father, who had grown weary of the daily complaints that were made against the prince. In the ?Fair Maid of Perth,? Scott has depicted with thrilling effect the actual death of David, by the slow process of starvation, notwithstanding the intervention of a maiden and nurse, who met a very different fate from that he assigns to them in the novel, while in his history he expresses a doubt whether they ever supplied the wants of the prince in any way. According .to the ?? Black Book? of Scone, the Earl of Douglas was with Albany when the prince was trepanned to Falkland, and having probably been exasperated against the latter, who was his own brother-in-law (having married his sister Marjorie Douglas), for his licentious course of life, must have joined in the ? projected assassination. ?Such are the two Scottish nobles whose armorial bearings still grace the capital of the pillar in the old chapel. It is the only other case in which they are found acting in concert besides the dark deed already referred to; and it seems no unreasonable inference to draw from such a coincidence, that this chapel ,had been founded and endowed by them as an expiatory offering for that deed of blood, and its chaplain probably appointed to say masses for their victim?s soul? (Wilson). The comparative wealth of the Scottish Church in those days and for long after was considerable, and an idea may be formed of it from the amount of the tenth of the benefices paid by the three countries as a tax to Rome, and in the Acts of Parliament of James 111. in 147 r, and of James IV. in r493. The account is from a ?Codex Membra- . Museum :- De terra Scotiz . . . , . . . . . . . . . . . . f;3,947 19 8 ,, Hibernia:. . .. .. .. .. .. .. 1,647 16 3 ,, Anglia et Wallice .. .. .. 20,872 z 4+ Thus we see that the Scottish Church paid more than double what was paid by Ireland, and a fifth of the amount that was paid by England. The transepts of St. Giles, as they existed before the so-called repairs of 1829, afforded distinct evidence of the gradual progtess of the edifice. Beyond the Preston aisle the roof differed from the older portion, exhibiting undoubted evidence of being the work of a subsequent time ; and from its associations with the eminent men of other days it is perhaps the most interesting portion of the whole fabric. Here it was that Walter Chapman, of Ewirland, a burgess of Edinburgh, famous as the introducer of the printing-press into Scotland, and who was nobly patronised by the heroic king who fell at Flodden, founded and endowed a chaplaincy at the altar of St. John the Evangelist, ?in honour of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, and all the saints, for the healthful estate and prosperity of the most excellent lotd the King of Scotland, and of his most serene consort Margaret Queen of Scotland, and of their children j and also for the health of my soul, and of Agnes Cockburne, my present wife, and of the soul of Mariot Kerkettill, my former spouse,? &c. ?This charter,? says a historian, ?is dated 1st August, 1513, an era of peculiar interest. Scotland was then rejoicing in all the prosperity and happiness consequent on the wise and beneficent reign of James IV. Learning was visited with the highest favour of the. Court, and literature was rapidly extending its influence under the zealous co-operation of Dunbar, Douglas, Kennedy, and others, with the royal master-printer. Only one month thereafter Scotland lay at the mercy of her southern rival. Her king was slain; the chief of her nobles and warriors had perished on Flodden Field, and adversity and ignorance again replaced the advantages that had followed in the train of the gallant James?s rule. Thenceforth, the altars of St. Giles received few and rare additions to their endowments.? From the preface to ? Gologras and Gawane,? we learn that in 1528 Walter Chapnian the printer founded a chaplaincy at the altar of Jesus Christ, in St. Giles, and endowed it with a tenement in the Coagate; and there is good reason for believhig that the pious old printer lies buried in the south transept of the church, close by the spot where
Volume 1 Page 142
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