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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


200 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Etreet. the gentlemen?s mansions and goodliest houses are obscurely founded in the aforesaid lanes. The walls are eight or ten feet thick, exceeding strong, not built for a day, a week, a month, or a year, but from antiquity to posterity-for many ages. There I found entertainment beyond my expectation or merit; and there is fish, flesh, bread, and fruit in such variety, that I think I may offenceless call it superffuity or satiety.? The ? PennileSs Pilgrim? came to Scotland in a more generous and appreciative mind than his countryman did, 150 years subsequently, and all he saw filled him with wonder, especially the mountains, to which he says : ?Shooter?s Hill, Gad?s Hill, Highgate Hill, and Hampstead Hill, are but molehills.? Varied indeed have been the scenes witnessed in the High Street of Edinburgh. Among these we may mention a royal banquet and whimsical procession, formed by order of James VI., in 1587. Finding himself unable to subdue the seditious spirit of the ecclesiastics, whom he both feared and detested, he turned his attention to those personal quarrels and deadly feuds which had existed for ages among the nobles and landed.gentry, in the hope to end them. After much thought and preliminary negotiation, he invited the chiefs of all the contending parties to a royal entertainment in Holyrood, where he obtained a promise to bury and forget their feudal dissensions for ever. Thereafter, in the face of all the assembled citizens, he prevailed upon them to walk two by two, hand in hand, to the Market Cross, where a banquet of wines and sweetmeats was prepared for them, and where they all draIzk to each other in token of mutual friendship and future forgiveness. The populace testified their approbation by loud and repeated shouts of joy. ? This reconciliatione of the nobilitie and diverse of the gentry,? says Balfour in his Annales, ? was the gratest worke and happiest game the king had played in all his raigne heithertills ;? but if his good offices did not eradicate the seeds of transmitted hate, they, at leas{ for a time, smothered them. The same annalist records the next banquet at the Cross in 1630. On the birth of a prince, afterwards Charles II., on the 29th of May, the Lord Lyon king-at-arms was dispatched by Charles from London, where he chanced to be, with orders to carry the news to Scotland. He reached Edinburgh on the 1st of June, and the loyal joy of the people burst forth with great effusiveness. The batteries of the Castle thundered forth a royal salute ; bells rang and bonfires blazed, and a table was spread in the High Street that extended half its entire length, from the Cross to the Tron, whereat the nobility, Privy Council, and Judges, sat down to dinner, the heralds in their tabards and the royal trumpeters being in attendance. In that same street, a generation after, was seen, in his old age begging his bread from door to door, John Earl of Traquair, who, in 1635, had beerk Lord High Treasurer of Scotland and High Commissioner to the Parliament and General Assembly, one of the few Scottish nobles who protested against the surrender of King Charles to the English, but who was utterly ruined by Cromwell. A note to Scotstarvit?s ? Scottish Statesmen,? records that ?he died in anno 1659, in extreme poverty, on the Lord?s day, and suddenly when taking a pipe of tobacco; and at his funeral had no mortcloth, but a black apron; nor towels, but dog?s leishes belonging to some gentlemen that were present ; and the grave being two foot shorter than his body, the assistants behoved to stay till the same was enlarged, and be buried.? ? I saw him begging in the streets of Edinburgh,? says another witness, James Fraser, minister of Kirkhill; ?? he was in an antique garb, wore a broad old hat, short cloak and panier breeches, and I contributed in my quarters in the Canongate towar s his relief. The Master of Lovat, Culbockie (FraseY), Glenmonston (Grant), and myself were there, and he received the piece of money from my hand as humbly and as thankfully as the poorest supplicant. It is said, that at a time he had not (money) to pay for cobbling his boots, and died in a poor cobbler?s house.? And this luckless earl, so rancorously treated, was the lineal descendant of James Stuart the Black Knight of Lome, and of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster. Nicoll records in his curious diary that in the October of 1654 a vast number of hares came into the city, penetrating even to its populous and central parts, such as the Parliament Close and the High Street; and in the latter, a few years subsequently, 1662, we read in the Chronicle qf Fie of a famous quack doctor setting up his public stage in the midst of that thoroughfare for the third time. John Pontheus was a German, styling himself professor of music, and his modus operandi affords a curious illustration of the then state of medical science in Great Britain, and of what our forefathers deemed the requisites to a good physician. On the stage mentioned Pontheus had one person to play the fool, another to dance upon a tight rope, in order to gather and amuse rt
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High Street.] THE QUACK DOCTOR?S ACROBATS. 201 an audience. Then he began to vend his drugs at eightpence per packet. Nicoll admits that they were both good and real, and describes the antics of the assistants. Upon a great rope, fixed from side to side of the street, a man descended upon his breast with ~ ~ ~~~~ danced seven-score times, without intermission, lifting himself and vaulting s k quarter high above his own head and lighting directly upon the tow (rope) as punctually as if he had been dancing on the plain stones.? Four years after a different scene was witnessed THE NETHER BOW PORT, FROM THE CANONGATE. ( F m an Etcking6y Jams SKrrrc of RdGhw.) his arms ?stretched out like the wings of a fowl, to the admiration of many.? Nicoll adds that the country chirurgeons and apothecaries, finding his drugs both cheap and good, came to Edinburgh from all parts of the realm, and bought them for the purpose of retailing them at a profit. The antics and rope-dancing were continued for many days with an agility and nimbleness ?admirable to the beholders; one of the dancers having 28 in the High Street, when, in 1666, after the battle of the Pentland Hills-a victory celebrated by the discharge of nearly as many guns from the Castle as there were prisoners-the captives were marched to the Tolbooth. They. were eighty in number; and these poor Covenanters were conveyed manacled in triumph by the victor, with trumpets sounding, kettle-drums beating, and banners displayed. And Crookshank records in
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