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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


1-50 OLD.? AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The City Crosa. by the Figgate-burn ere he marched to storm Dunbar.? There lie citizens who have fought for their country at Flodden, Pinkie, and a hundred:other fields; and there lies one whose name is still mighty in the land, and ?who never feared the face of man?-John Knox. He expired at his old manse, near the Nether Bow, on the 24th of No- ~ vember, 1572, in his sixty-seventh year, and his body was attended to the grave by a great multitude of people, incIuding the chief of the nobles and the Regent Morton, whose simple iZqe over his grave is so well known. It cannot but excite surprise that no effort was made by the Scottish people to preserve distinctly the remains of the great Reformer from desecration, but some of that spirit of irreverence for the past which he incul- GRAVE OF JOHN KNOX. cated thus recoiled upon himself, and posterity knows not his exact resting-place. If the tradition mentioned by Chambers, says Wilson, be correct, that ? his burial-place was a few feet from the front of the old pedestal of King Charles?s statue, the recent change in the position of the latter must have placed it directly mer his grave-perhaps as strange a monument to the great apostle of Presbyterianism as fancy could devise !? Be all this as it may, there is close by the statue a small stone let intc the pavement inscribed simply ? I. K., 1572.? An ancient oak pulpit, octagonal and panelled brought from St. Giles?s church, and said to havc been the same in which he was wont to preach, i! still preserved in the Royal Institution on tht Earthen Mound. . . Close by St. Giles?s church, where radii in thc causeway mark its site, stood the ancient cros! of the city, so barbarously swept away by thc ignorant and tasteless magistracy of 1756. Scott and other men of taste, never ceased to deplore it! destruction, and many attempts have been vainl; nade to collect the fragments and reconstruct it, [n ? Marmion,? as the poet has it :- ?? Dunedin?s cross, a pillared stone, Rose on a turret octagon; But now is razed that monument, And the voice of Scotland?s law went forth, Oh, be his tomb as lead to lead Upon its dull destroyer?s head !- A minstrel?s malison is said.? . - -Whence royal edicts rang, In gloribus trumpet clang. A battlemented octagon tower, furnished with four angular turrets, it was sixteen feet in diameter, and fifteen feet high. From this rose the centre pillar, xlso octagon, twenty feet in height, surmounted by a beautiful Gothic capital, terminated by a crowned unicorn. Caldenvood tells us that prior to King Tames?s visit to Scotland the old cross was taken down from the place where it had stood within the memory of man, and the shaft transported to the new one, by the aid of certain mariners from Leith. Rebuilt thus in 1617, nearly on the site of an older cross, it was of a mixed style of architecture, and in its reconstruction, with a better taste than later years have shown, the chief ornaments of the ancient edifice had been preserved ; the heads in basso-relievo, which surmounted seven of the arches, have been referred by our most eminent antiquaries to the remote period of the Lower Empire. Four of those heads, which were long preserved by Mr. Ross at Deanhaugh, were procured by Sir Walter Scott, and are still preserved at Abbotsford, together with the great stone font or basin which flowed with wine on holidays. The central pillar, long preserved at Lord Somerville?s house, Drum, near Edinburgh, now stands near the Napier tomb, within a railing, on the north side of the choir of St. Giles?s, where it was >placed_in 1866. A crowned unicorn surmounts it, bearing a pennon blazoned with a silver St. Andrew?scross on one side, and on the. other the city crest-an anchor. From the side of that venerable shaft royal proclamations, solemn denunciations of excommunication and outlawry, involving ruin and death, went forth for ages, and strange and terrible have been the scenes, the cqelties, the executions, and absurdities, it has witnessed. From its battlements, by tradition, mimic heralds of the unseen world cited the gallant James and all our Scottish chivalry to appear in the domains of Pluto immediately before the march of the army to Flodden, as recorded at great length in the ?? Chronicles of Pitscottie,? and rendered more pleasantly, yet literally, into verse by Scott- ~
Volume 1 Page 150
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