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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


North Bridge.] JOHN EARL OF MAR. 335 have foreseen; we say long-suggested, for, though not carried out till the early years of George 111.?~ reign, it had been projected in the latter end of the reign of Charles 11. The idea was first suggested when James VII., as Duke of Albany and York, was resident Royal Commissioner at Holyrood, in the zenith of the only popularity he ever had in Scotland. Vast numbers of the Scottish nobility and gentry flocked .around him, and the old people of the middle of xhe eighteenth century used to recall with delight the magnificence and brilliance of the court he gathered in the long-deserted palace, and the general air of satisfaction which pervaded the entire city. Despite the recent turmoils and sufferings consequent on the barbarous severity with which the Covenanters had been treated, Edinburgh was prosperous, and its magistrates bestowed noble presents upon their royal guest; but the best proof of the city?s prosperity was the new and then startling idea s f having an extended royalty and a North Bridge, ;and this idea the Duke of Albany warmly patronised and encouraged, and towards it gave the citizens a grant in the following terms :- ?That, when they should have occasion to enlarge their city by purchasing ground without tthe town, or to build bridges or arches for the accomplishing of the same, not only were the propietors of such lands obliged to part With the same an reasonable terms, but when in possession thereof, they are to be erected into a regality in favour of the citizens ; and after finishing the Canongate church, the city is to have the surplus of the 20,ooo merks given by Thomas Moodie, in the year 1649, with the interest thereof; and as all public streets belong to the king, the vaults and cellars under those of Edinburgh being forfeited to the Crown, by their being built without leave or consent of his majesty, he granted all the said vaults or cellars to the town, together with a power to oblige the proprietors of houses, to lay before their. respective tenements large flat stones for the conveniency of walking.? James VII. had fully at heart the good of Edinburgh, and but for the events of the Revolution the improvements of the city would have commenced seventy-two years sooner than they did, but the neglect of subsequent monarchs fell heavily alike on the capital and the kingdom. ?Unfortunately,? . :says Robert Chambers, ?the advantages which Edinburgh enjoyed under this system of things were destined to be of short duration. Her royal :guest departed, with all his family and retinue, in May, 1682. In six years more he was lost both :o Edinburgh and Britain; and ?a stranger filled :he Stuart?s throne,? under whose dynasty Scotland ?ined long in undeserved reprobation.? The desertion of the city consequent on the Union made all prospect of progress seem hopeless, yet some there were who never forgot the cherished idea of an extended royalty. Among various plans, the most remarkable for its foresight was that 3f John eighteenth Lord Erskine and eleventh Earl of Mar, who was exiled for his share in the insurrection of I 7 I 5. His sole amusement during the years of the long exile in which he died at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1732 was to draw plans and designs for the good of his beloved native country and its capital; and the paper to which we refer is one written by him in 1725, and mentioned in vol. 8 of the ?Old Statistical Account of Scotland,? published in 1793. ?All ways of improving Edinburgh should be thought on : as in particular, making a Zarge bridge flfhree arch, over the ground betwixt the North Loch and Physic Gardens, from the High Street at Liberton?s Wynd to the Multersey Hill, where many fine streets might be built, as the inhabitants increased. The access to them would be easy on all hands, and the situation would be agreeable and convenient, having a noble prospect of all the fine ground towards the sea, the Firth of Forth, and coast of Fife. One long street in a straight line, where the Long Gate is now (Princes Street?) ; on one side of it would be a fine opportunity for gardens down to the North Loch, and one, on the other side, towards Broughton. No houses to be on the bridge, the breadth of the North Loch ; but selling the places or the ends for houses, and the vaults and arches below for warehouses and cellars, the charge of the bridge might be defrayed. ? Another bridge might also be made on the other side of the towq, and almost as useful and commodious as that on the north. The place where it could most easily be made is St. Mary?s Wynd, and the Pleasance. The hollow there is not so deep, as where the other bridge is proposed, so that it is thought that two storeys of arches might raise it near the level with the street at the head of St. Mary?s Wynd. Betwixt the south end of the Pleasance and the Potter-row, and from thence to Bristo Street, and by the back of the wall at Heriot?s Hospital, are fine situations for houses and gardens. There would be fine avenues to the town, and outlets for airing and walking by these bridges ; and Edinburgh, from being a bad incommodious situation, would become a very beneficial and convenient one ; and to make it still more so, a branch of that river, called the Water of Leith, misht, it is thought, be brought
Volume 2 Page 335
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