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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [North Bridge. after nnmixous schemes and suggestions, the North Bridge was widened in 1873, after designs by Messrs. Stevenson. The average number of footpassengers traversing this bridge daily is said to be considerably in excess of go,ooo, and the number of wheeled vehicles upwards of 2,000. The ground at the north-east end of the bridge has been so variously occupied in succession by an edifice ?named Dingwall?s Castle, by Shakespeare Square, and the oldTheatre Royal, with its thousand memories of the drama in Edinburgh, and latterly Jay the new General Post Office for Scotland, that we must devote a chapter or two to that portion ? of it alone. CHAPTER XLIII. EAST SIDE OF THE NORTH BRIDGE. Diogwall?s Castle-Whitefield?s ? Preachings?-History of the Old Theatre Royal-The Building-David Ross?s Management--Leased to Mr. Foote-Then to Mr. Digges-Mr. Moss-- Yates-Next Leased to Mr. Jackson-The Siddons Fumre-Reception of the Great Actress-ME. Baddeley-New Patent-The Playhouse Riot-?The Scottish Roscius ?-A Ghost-Expiry of the Patent. BUILT no one knows when, but existing during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there stood on the site now occupied by the new General Post Office, an edifice named Dingwall?s Castle. In 1647, Cordon of Rothiemay, in his wonderfully distinct and detailed bird?s-eye view of the city, represents it as an open ruin, in form a square tower with a round one at each angle, save on the north-east, where one was fallen down in part. All the sloping bank aiid ground between it and the Trinity College church are shown as open, but bordered on the west by a line of houses, which he names Niniani Suburbium seu nzendicorum Fatea (known latterly as the Beggar?s Row), and on the west and north by high walls, the latter crenellated, and by a road which descends close to the edge of the loch, and then runs along its bank straight westward. This stronghold is supposed to have derived its name from Sir John Dingwall, who was Provost of the Trinity College church before the Reformation ; and hence the conclusion is, that it was a dependency of that institution. He was one of the first Lords of Session appointed on the 25th May, 1532, at the formation of the College of Justice, and his name is third on the list. Of him nothing more is known, save that he existed and that is all. . Some fragments of the castle are still supposed to exist among the buildings on its site, and some were certainly traced among the cellars of Shakespeare Square on its demolition in 1860. During the year 1584 when the Earl of Arran was Provost of the city, on the 30th September, the Council commissioned Michael Chisholm and others to inquire into the order and condition of an ancient leper hospital which stood beside Dingwall?s Castle; but of the former no distinct trace is given in Cordon?s view. In Edgar?s map of Edinburgh, in 1765, no indication of these buildings is given, but the ground occupied by the future theatre and Shakespeare Square is shown as an open park or irregular parallelogam closely bordered by trees, measuring about 350 feet each way, and lying between the back of the old Orphan Hospital and the village of Multrie?s Hill, where now the Register House stands. It was in this park, known then as that of the Trinity Hospital, that the celebrated Whitefield used yearly to harangue a congregation of all creeds and classes in the open air, when visiting Edinburgh in the course of his evangelical tours. On his coming thither for the first time after the Act had passed for the extension of the royalty, great was his horror, surprise, and indignation, to find the green slope which he had deemed to be rendered almost sacred by his prelections, enclosed by fences and sheds, amid which a theatre was in course of erection. The ground was being ?appropriated to the service of Satan. The frantic astonishment of the Nixie who finds her shrine and fountain desolated in her absence, was nothing to that of Whitefield. He went raging about the spot, and contemplated the rising walls of the playhouse with a sort of grim despair. He is said to have considered the circumstance as a positive mark of the increasing wickedness of society, and to have termed it a plucking up of God?s standard, and a planting of the devil?s in its place.? The edifice which he then saw in course of erection was destined, for ninety years, to be inseparably connected with the more recent rise of the drama in Scotland generally, in Edinburgh in particular, and to be closely identified with all the artistic and scenic glories of the stage. It was long a place replete with interest, and yet recalls
Volume 2 Page 340
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