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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


natural death-all the rest having lost their lives in defence of their country. If we turn to Holyrood, what visions and memories must arise of Knoq standing grim and stem before his queen, in his black Geneva cloak, with his hands planted on the horn handle of his long walking-cane, daringly rebuking her love of music and dancing-unbending, unyieldmg, and unmelted, by her exalted rank, her beauty, or her bitter tears j and of that terrible night in the Tower of James V., when sickly Ruthven, looking pale as a spectre under the open visor of his helmet, drew back with gauntleted hand the ancient arras as the assassins stole up the secret stair,-and then Rizzio, clinging wildly to the queen?s skirt, and dying beneath her eyes of many a mortal wound, with Darnley?s dagger planted in his body; of Charles Edward, in the prime of his youth and comeliness, already seeing the crown of the Stuarts upon his exiled father?s head, surrounded by exultant Jacobite ladies, with white cockades on their bosoms, and dancing in the long gallery of the kings to the sound of the same pipes that blew the onset at Falkirk and Culloden ! A very few years later, and Boswell, ?and Dr. Johnson in his brown suit with steel buttons, might have been seen coming arm-in-arm from the White Horse Hostel in Boyd?s Close-the burly lexicographer, as his obsequious follower tells us, grumbling and stumbling in the dark, as they proceeded on their way to the abode of the latter in James?s Court; but his visit to Scotland compelled the pedant, who trembled at the Cock Lane ghost and yet laughed at the idea of an earthquake in Lisbon, to have, as Macaulay says, a salutary suspicion of his own deficiencies, which skems on that occasion to have crossed his mind for the first time.? In yonder house, in Dunbar?s Close, the Ironsides of Cromwell had their guard-house ; and on the adjacent bartizan, that commanded a view of all the fields and farms to the north, in the autumn evenings of 1650~ the Protector often sat with Mathew Tiomlinson, Monk, and Ireton, each smoking their yards of clay and drinking Scottish . ale, or claret, and expounding, it might be, texts of Scripture, while their batteries at the Lang-gate ? and Heriot?s Hospital threw shot and shell at the Castle, then feebly defended by the treacherous Dundas, from whom the Protector?s gold won what, he himself admitted, steel and shot might never have done, the fortress never before being so strong as it was then, with all its stores and garrison. And in, that wynd, to which, in perishing, he gave his name, we shall see the sturdy craftsman Halkerston fighting to the death, with his two-handed sword, against the English invaders. Turn which way we hay in Edinburgh, that stirring past attends us, and every old stone is a record of the days, the years, and the people, who have passed away. In a cellar not far distant the Treaty of Union was partly signed, in haste and fear and trembling, while the street without rang with the yells and opprobrious cries of the infuriated mob ; and after that event, by the general desertion of the nobility, came what has been emphatically called the Dark Age of Edinburgh-that dull and heartless period when grass was seen to grow around the market-, cross, when a strange and unnatural stillness-the stillness of village life-seemed to settle over every one and everything, when the author of ? Douglas ? was put under ban for daring to write that tragedy, and when men made their last will and testament before setting out by the stage for London, and when such advertisements appeared as that which we find in the EdinbuTh Coirranf for 7th March, 1761 -?A young lady who is about to set out fqr London in a postchaise will be glad of a companion. Enquire at the publisher of this paper ; ? -when Edinburgh was so secluded and had such little intercourse with London, that on one occasion the mail brought but a single letter (for the British Linen Company), and the dullness of local life received a fillip only when Admiral de Fourbin was off the coast of Fife, or the presence of Thurot the corsair, or of Paul Jones, brought back some of the old Scottish spirit of the past. The stately oaks of the Burghmuir, under which Guy of Namuis Flemish lances fled in ruin and defeat before the Scots of Douglas and Dalhousie, have long since passed away, and handsome modem villas cover all the land to the base of the bordering hills; but the old battle stone, in which our kings planted their standards, and which marked the Campus Martius of the Scottish hosts, still lingers there on the south; and the once lonely Figgatemuir on the east, where the monks of Holyrood grazed their flocks and herds, and where Wallace mustered his warriors prior to the storming of Dunbar, is now a pleasant little watering place, which somewhat vainly boasts itself ?? the Scottish Brighton.? The remarkable appearance and construction of old Edinburgh-towering skyward, storey upon storey, with all its black and bulky chimneys, crowstepped gables, and outside stairs-arise from the circumstance of its having been twice walled, and the necessity for residing within these barriers, for protection in times of foreign or domestic war. Thus, what Victor Hug0 says of the Paris of Philip ?
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Augustus seems peculiarly applicable to the Edinburgh of Jsmes V., and still more to that of James 11. ?He imprisoned Paris in a Circular chain of great towers, high and solid,? says the author of (? Notre Dame j ? ?for more than a century after this the houses went on pressing upon each other, accumulating and rising higher and higher. They .got deeper and deeper; they piled storeys on storeys j they mounted one upon another j they shot up monstrously tall, for they had not room to grow breadthwise; each sought to raise its head above its neighbour to have a little air ; every open space became filled up, and disappeared. The houses at length leaped over the wall of Philip Augustus, and scattered themselves joyously over the plain. Then they did what they liked, and cut themselves gardens out of the fields.? And of the old walled city the welI-known lines of Scott are most apposite :- ? Such dusky grandeur clothed the height, When the huge castle holds its state, Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky, Piled deep and massy, close and high, And all the steep slope down, Mine own romantic town ! ? New Edinburgh appeals to us in a different sense. It tells peculiarly in all its phases 01 modern splendour, wealth, luxury, and all the arts of peace, while ?in no other city,? it has been said, ?? will you find so general an appreciation oi books, arts, music, and objects of antiquarian interest. It is peculiarly free from the taint of the ledger and counting-house. It is a Weimar with. out a Goethe-Boston without its twang.? This is the Edinburgh through the noble street: of which Scott limped in his old age, white-haired and slow, leaning often on the arm of Lockhari .or the greyplaided Ettrick Shepherd; the Edin. burgh where the erect and stalwart form of thr athletic ?? Christopher North,? with his long lock: of grizzled yellow-his ?tawny mane,? as hr called them-floating on the breeze, his keen blur eyes seemingly fixed on vacancy, his left hanc planted behind his back, and his white neck cloth oft awry, strode daily from Gloucester Plaa to the University, or to ?Ebony?s,? to meet Jefiey Rutherford, Cockbum, Delta, Aytoun, Edwarc Forbes, and Carlyle ; the Edinburgh where Simpson the good, the wise, and the gentle, made his dis covery concerning chloroform, and made his mark too, as ?the grand old Scottish doctor,? whosi house in Queen Street was a focus for all thi learned and all the Ziterati of Europe and Americi -the Edinburgh of the Georgian and Victorian age We propose to trace the annals of its glorious University, from the infant establishment, founded by the legacy of Robert Bishop of Orkney, in 1581, and which was grafted on the ancient edifice n the Kuk-of-Field, and the power of which, as years went on, spread fast wherever law, theology, medicine, and art, were known. The youngest znd yet the noblest of all Scottish universities, :nrolliug yearly the greatest number of students, it ias been the dma mater of many men, who, n every department of learning and literature, iave proved themselves second to none; and ?kom the early days when Rollock taught, to those when it rose into repute as a great school of medicine under the three Munroes, who held with honour the chair of anatomy for 150 years, and when, in other branches of knowledge, its fame yew under Maclaurin, Black, Ferguson, Stewart, Hamilton, Forbes, Syme, and Brewster, we shan ;race its history down to the present day, when its privileges *cl efficiency were so signally aukmented by the Scottish University Act of 1858. Nor shall we omit to trace the origin and development of the stage in Edinburgh, from the time when the masks or plays of Sir David Lindsay of the Mount were performed in the open air in the days of James V., ?when weather served,? at the Greensidelwell beneath the Calton Hill, and the theatre at the Watergate, when ?his Majesty?s servants from London ? were patronised by the Duke of Albany and York, then resident in Holyrood, down to the larger establishments in the Canongate, under the litigious Tony Astdn, and those of later years, which saw the performances of Kean, Kemble, and Mrs. Siddons, and the production of the Waverley dramas, under the auspices of Terry, who, as Scott said, laughingly, had ?? temfied ? his romances into plays. Arthur?s Seat and the stupendous craigs, the name of which is so absurdly and grotesquely corrupted into Salisbury,? alone are unchanged since those pre-historic days, when, towering amid the wilderness, they overlooked the vast forest of oaks that stretched from :he pastoral hills of Braid to the sea-the wood of Drumsheugh, wherein roamed the snow-white Caledonian bull, those ferocious Caledonian boars, which, as Martial tells us, were used to heighten the torments of unhappy sufferers on the cross; the elk, the stag, and the wolf; and amid which rose the long ridgy slopethe &?in-that formed the site of the future old city, terminating in the abrupt bluff of the Castle rock. There, too, rose the bare round mass of the Calton, the abode of the fox and hare, and where the bustard had its nest amid the gorse;
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