Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


THE GREAT WINCOW. ?59 Parliament Hoox.] obelisks, with the motto Bominus cusfodif infroifurn msfrunz. The destruction of all this was utterly unwarrantable. The tapestries with which the hall was hung were all removed about the end of the last century, and now its pictnres, statues, and decorations of Scotland?s elder and latter days replace them. Of the statues of the distinguished Scottish statesmen and lawyers, the most noticeable are a colossal one of Henry first Viscount Melville in his robes as a peer, by Chantrey ; on his left is Lord Cockburn, by Brodie ; Duncan Forbes of Culloden, in his judicial costume as President of the Court, by Roubiliac (a fine example) ; the Lord President Boyle, and Lord Jeffrey, by Steel ; the Lord President Blair (son of the author of ?The Grave?), by Chantrey.. . On the opposite or eastern side of the hall (which stands north and south) is the statue of Robert Dundas of Arniston, Lord Chief Baron of the Scottish Exchequer, also by Chautrey; portraits, many of them of considerable antiquity, some by Jameson, a Scottish painter who studied under Rubens at Antwerp. But the most remarkable among the modern portraits are those of Lord Broiigham, by Sir Daniel Macnee, P.R.S.A. ; Lord Colonsay, formerly President of the Court, and the Lord Justice-clerk Hope, both by the same artist. Thete are also two very tine pQrtraits of Lord Abercrombie and Professor Bell, by Sir Henry Raeburn. Light is given to this interestihg hall by fouI windows on the side, and the great window on the south. It is of stained glass, and trulymagnificent. It was erected in 1868 at a cost of Az,ooo, and was the work of two German artists, having been designed by Wilhelm von Kaulbach, and executed by the Chevalier Ainmiller of Munich. It repre. sents the inauguration of the College of Justice, 01: the Supreme Court of Scotland, by King Tames V., in 1532. The opening of the court is supposed by the artist to have been the. occasion of a grand state ceremonial, and the moment chosen for representation is that in which the young king, surrounded by his nobles and great officers of state, is depicted in the ,act of presenting the charter of institution and of confirniation by Pope Clement VII. to Alexander Mylne, Abbot of Cambuskenneth, the first Lord President, wha kneels before him to receive it, surrounded by the other judges in their robes, while the then Lord Chancellor of Scotland, Gavin Dunbar, ArchbishoF of Glasgow, and afterwards of St. Andrews, with upraised hand invokes a.blessing on the act. In 1870 the four side windows on the west of the la11 were filled in with stained glass Qf a heraldic :haracter, under the superintendence of the late Sir George Harvey, president of the Royal Scottish kcadeniy. Each window is twenty feet high ~y nine wide, divided by a central mullion, the :racery between being occupied by the armorial learings and crests of the various Lord Justice- Zlerks, the great legal writers of the Faculty of Advocates, those of the Deans of Faculty, and the Lords Advocate. This old hall has been the scene of many a ;reat event and many a strange debate, and most Df the proceedings that took place here belong to the history of the country j for with the exception of the Castle and the ancient portion of Holyrood, no edifice in the city is so rich in historic memories. Beneath the old roof consecrated to these, says one of its latest chroniclers, ? the first ?great movements of the Civil War took place, and the successive steps in that eventful crisis were debated with a zeal commensurate to the important results involved in them. Here Montrose united with Rothes, Lindsay, Loudon, and others of the covenanting leaders, in maturing the bold measures that formed the basis of our national liberties ; and within the same hall, only a few years later, he sat with the calmness of despair, to receive from the lips of his old compatriot, Loudon, the barbarous sentence, which was executed with such savage rigour.? After his victory at Dunbar, some of Cromwell?s troopers in their falling bands, buff coats, and steel morions, spent their time alternately in preaching to the people in the Parliament Hall and guarding a number of Scottish prisoners of war who were confined in ? the laigh Parliament House ? below it On the 17th of May, 1654, some of these contrived to cut a hole in the floor of the great hall, and all effected their escape save two; but when peace was established between Croniwell and the Scots, and the Courts of Law resumed their sittings, the hall was restored to somewhat of its legitimate uses, and there, in 1655, the leaders of the Commonwealth, including General Monk, were feasted with a lavish hospitality. In 1660, under the auspices of the same republican general, came to pass ? the - glorious Restoration,? when the magistrates had a banquet Ft the cross, and gave _~;I,OOO sterling to the king; and his brother, the Duke of Albany and York, who came as Koyal Commissioner, was feasted in the same hall with his Princess Mary d?Este and his daughter, the future Queen Anne, surrounded by all the high-born and beautiful in Scotland. But dark
Volume 1 Page 159
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print