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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


HISTORICAL INCIDENTS AFTER THE RESTORATION. 1 I7 terior, with the embrasures and loop-holes, aa it appeared before the erection of the Infant School there. We have already mentioned the erection of the wall in Leith Wynd, a considerable portion of which still remains, by virtue of an Act of Parliament in 1540.' Maitland describes another addition in 1560, extending from thence to the end of the North Loch, at the foot of Halkerston's Wynd.' The southern wall of the west wing of Trinity Hospital included part of this ancient defence. It stood about six feet south from the present retaining wall of the North British Railway, in the Physic Gardens: and was a piece of such substantial masonry, that its demolition, in 1845, was attended with great labour, requiring the use of wedges to break up the solid mam. In 1591, the citizens were empowered, by Parliament, to raise money on all lands and rents within Edinburgh, towards strengthening the town, by an addition of height and thickness to its walls, with forcing places, bulwarks, or flankers, 8;c. ; * and finally, the Common Council having, in 1618, bought from Tours of Innerleith ten acres of land at the Creyfriars' Port, they immediately ordered it to be enclosed with a wall, a considerable portion of which forms the western boundary of the Heriot's Hospital grounds. It only remains to be added, that the last attempt made to render these walls an effective defence, wa.s in the memorable year 1745; with how little success has already been narrated. From the evidence brought out in the course of Provost Stewart's trial, they seem to have been, at that period, in a most ruinous condition, and it is improbable that any efforts were made after that to stay their further decay. The changes wrought upon the town itself during the same period are no less remarkable. Owing to its peculiar situation, crowning the ridge of the hill, on the highest point of which the Castle is perched, and sloping off to the low grounds on either side, its limits seemed to our ancestors to be defined almost beyond the possibility of enlargement. The only approach to the main street, from the west, previous to the commencement of the North Bridge, in 1765, was up the steep and crooked thoroughfare of the West Bow, by which kings and nobles so often entered in state, and from thence it extended, in unbroken continuity to St Mary's and Leith Wynds. The remainder of the street, through the Canongate, has fortunately, as yet, escaped the revision of '' improvements commissioners," and presents, in the continuation of the principal thoroughfare through the Nether Bow to the Palace, many antique features, awaking associations of the period when the Scottish nobility resided there in ciose vicinity to the Court. A very few years, however, have sufficed to do the work of centuries in the demolition of time-honoured and interesting fabrics. St Giles's Church has been renovated externally, and reduced to the insipid standard of modern uniformity. George IV. Bridge, and its approaches, have swept away nearly all the West Bow, Gosford's and the Old Bank Closes, Libberton's Wynd, and some of the most interesting houses in the Cowgate. The projectors of the New College have taken for its site another portion, including the Guise Palace, in. Blyth's Clow, which bore, on its north front, the earliest date then existing on any private building in Edinburgh ; and the same parties, in their zeal to do honour to Knox's , 1 Ante, p. 44. a Maitland, p. 20, where it ia defined aa at the foot of Libbwton'r Wynd, but this is obviously an error. ' So called from having long been the site of the Botanical Gardens. ' Kaitland, p, 45.
Volume 10 Page 128
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Volume 10 Page 129
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