Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


Volume 10 Page 432
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ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES. 395 hastily completed with crow-stepped gables and a slanting roof. specimen of the decorated English style of archi- The church is 8 beautiful tecture. The east end of the choir more especially has a very stately and imposing effect. It is an Apsis, with a lofty window in each of its three sides, originally iilled with fine tracery, and not improbably with painted glass, though the only evidence of either that now remains is the broken ends of mullions and transoms. The ornamental details with which the church abounds exhibit great variety of design, though many of those on the exterior are greatly injured by time. Various armorial bearings adorn different parts of the building, and particularly the east end of the choir. One of the latter has angels for supporters, but otherwise they are mostly too much decayed to be decipherable. One heraldic device, which, from its sheltered position on the aide of a buttress at the west angle of the south transept, has escaped the general decay, is described both by Maitland and Arnot as the arms of the foundress. It proves, however, to be the arms of her brother-in-law, Alexander Duke of Albany, who at the time of her decease was residing at the court of the Duke of Guelders. From the royal supporters still traceable, attached to a coat of arms sculptured on the north-east buttress of the vestry, the arms of the foundress would appear to have been placed on that part of the church where she lies buried. In the foundation charter it is specially appointed, that '' whenever any of the said Prebendaries shall read Mass, he shall, after the same, in his sacredotal habiliments, repair to the tomb of the foundress with a sprinkler, and there devoutly read over the De Profundis, together with the Fidelium, and an exhortation to excite the people to devotion." Many of the details of the church are singularly grotesque. The monkey is repeated in all variety of positions in the gurgoils, and is occasionally introduced in the interior among other figures that seem equally inappropriate as the decorations of an ecclesiastical edifice, though of common occurrence in the works of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The varied corbels exhibit here and there an angel, or other device of beautiful form; but more frequently they consist of such crouching monsters, labouring under the burden they have to bear up, as seem to realise Dante's Purgatory of Pride, where the unpurged souls dree their doom of penance underneath a crushing load of stone :- As, to support incumbent floor or roof, For corbel, ia 8 figure sometime0 seen, That crumple8 up ita knees unto its breast; With the feigned posture, stirring ruth unfeigned In the beholder's fancy.1 The centre aisle is lofty, and the groining exceedingly rich, abounding in the utmost variety of detail. -A very fine doorway, underneath a beautiful porch with groined roof, gives access to the south aisle of the choir, and a small but finely proportioned doorway may be traced underneath the great window of the north transept, though now built up. The admirable proportions and rich variety of details of thiq church, as well as its perfect state externally, untouched, Nave by the hand of time-if we except the tracery of ita windows-render it oqe of the most attractive objects of study to the C q ' s Dante. Purgatory. Canto x.
Volume 10 Page 433
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