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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


secluded character of the place inust have been destroyed. ?? Queen Mary granted the gardens of -the Greyfriars? monastery to the citizens in the year 1566, to be used as a cemetery, and from that period the old burial-place seems to have and are now said to be among the miscellaneous collections at Holyrood. Begun in 1632, the hall with its adjacent buildings took seven years to erect; but subsequently the external portions of the edifice were almost totally renewed. Howell, the citizens forgot that their Exchange was built over their fathers? graves.? Yet within six years after Queen Mary?s gr.ant, Knox was interred in the old burial-ground. ?Before the generation had passed away that witnessed and joined in his funeral service,? says the author of ? Memorials of Edinburgh,? ?the churchyard in which they laid him had been converted into a public thoroughfare ! We fear this want of veneration must be regarded as a national Characteristic which Knox assisted to call into existence, and to which we owe much of the reckless demolition of those time-honoured monuments of the past which it is sow thought a weakness to deplore.? As a churchyard in name it last figures in 1596 as the scene of a tumult in which John Earl of Mar, John Bothwell, Lord Holyroodhouse, the Lord Lindsay, and others, met in their armour, and occasioned some trouble ere they could be pacified. It was the scene of all manner of rows, when club-law prevailed ; where exasperated litigants, sick of ?the law?s delays,? ended the matter by appeal to sword and dagger ; and craftsmen and apprentices quarrelled with the bailies and deacons. It has been traditionally said that many of the tombstones were removed to the Greyfriars? churchyard; if such was the case no inscriptions remain built here lately,? and regretting that Charles I. did not inaugurate it in person, he adds that ?they did ill who advised him otherwise.? The time had come when old Scottish raids were nearly past, and when revolutions had their first impulse, not in the battle-field, but in deliberative assemblies ; thus the Parliament that transferred its meetings from the old Tolbooth to the new House in 1639 had to vote ?? the sinews of war ? for an aymy against England, under Sir Alexander Leslie, and was no less unprecedented in its constitution and powers than the place in which it assembled was a new edifice. Outside of a wooden partition in the hall was an oak pulpit, where a sermon was preached at the opening of parliament; and behind was a small gallery, where the public heard the debates of the House. To thousands who never saw or could have seen it the external aspect of the old Parliament House has been rendered familiar by Gordon?s engravings, and more particularly by the view of it on the bank notes of Sir William Forbes and Co. Tradition names Inigo Jones as the architect, bit of this there is not a vestige of proof. It was highly picturesque, and possessed an individuality that should have preserved it from the iconoclastic ?improvers? of 1829. ?There was a quaint The Parliament Hall, which was finished in 1639, at the expense of the citizens, costing A11,600 of the money of that time, occupies a considerable portion of the old churchyard, and possesses a kind of simple grandeur ? belonging to an anterior age. Its noblest feature is the roof, sixty feet in height, which rests on ornamental brackets consisting of boldly sculptured heads, and is formed of dark oak tie-and-hammer beams with cross braces, producing a general effect suggestive of the date of Westminster or of Crosby Hall. Modern corridors that branch out from it are in harmony with the old hall, and lead to the various court rooms and the extensive libraries of the Faculty of Advocates and the Society of Writers to the Signet. The hall measures 122 feet in length by 49 in breadth, and was hung of old with tapestry and portraits of the kings of Scotland, some by Sir Godfrey Kneller. These were bestowed, in 1707, by Queen Anne, on the Earl of Mar, ? we are told, ?and the rude elaborateness of its decorations, that seemed to link it with the courtiers I of Holyrood in the times of the Charleses, and its last gala days under the Duke of York?s viceregency. Nothing can possibly be conceived more meaningless and utterly absurd than the thing that superseded it ?-a square of semi-classic buildings, supported by a narrow arcade, and surmounted by stone sphinxes. Above the old main entrance, which faced the east, and is now completely blocked up and hidden, were the royal arms of Scotland, beautifully sculptured, supported on the right by Mercy holding a crown wreathed with laurel, and on the left by Justice, with a palm branch and balance, with the inscription, Stant his feZiciin r p a , and underneath the national arms, the motto, Uni unionurn. Over the smaller doorway, which forms the present access to the lofty lobby of the House, were the arms of the city, between sculptured
Volume 1 Page 158
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