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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street. High Street and other thoroughfares, where they indulged in wild humours and committed heinous crimes. At this time-1611-the old system of lighting had ceased to exist ; and after twilight the main street and those narrow steep alleys, like stone chasms, diverging from it, were all sunk in Cimmerian gloom, into which no man ventured to penetrate without his sword and lantern. In 1631 the Town Council passed an Act forbidding all women to wear plaids over their heads or faces, under a penalty of A5 Scots and forfeiture of the garment. But so little attention was paid to the Act by ladies, some of whom were of rank, that the incensed Council in 1633 passed a new one, strictly enjoining all women, of whatever quality, not to wear a plaid under pain of corporal punishment, and granted liberty to any person to seize and appropriate the plaid as their own property. As the fair offenders paid not the least attention to these ridiculous Acts, in 1636 the Provost, David Aikenhead, and the Council, passed a thundering enactment, that no females residing in their jurisdiction should either wear plaids or cover their faces with anything whatsoever, velvet masks not being uncommon among Scottish ladies in those days. U Forsaemikell as, notwithstanding of divers and sundrie laudabill actes and statutis, maid be the Provost, Baillies, and Counsall of this Burgh in former tymes, discharing that barbarous and uncivil1 habitte of women wearing plaids; zit, such has been the impudencie of monie of them, that Thus runs the ukase :- they have conthewit the foresaid barbarous habitte, and has addcd thereto the wearing of their gownes and petticottes about their heads and faces, so that the same has become the ordinar habitte of all women within the cittie, to the general imputation of their sex, matrones not to be decerned from . . . and lowse living women, to their owne dishonour and scandal of the cittie ; which the Provost, Baillies, and Counsall have taken into their serious consideration ; thairfore, have statute and ordaynit, &c., that none, of whatsomever degrie or qualitie, presume, after this day, under the payne of escheitt of the said plaids, not onlie be such as shall be appoyntit for that effect, but be all persons who shall challenge the same. And that nae women weir thair gownes or petticottes about thair heads and faces, under the payne of ten pundis to be payit by women of qualitie for the first falt, twenty pundis for the second, and under such furder paynes as sal1 pleas the Counsall to inflict upon them for the third falt; and under the payne of fourtie shillings to be payit be servandis and others of lower degrie for the first falt, five pundis for the second, and banishment from the cittie for the third falt ; and ordaynes this present statute to be intimate throwgh this Burgh be Sound of Drum, that nane pretend ignorance hereof.? The Act fell pointless, as did another passed in 1648, against the coquettish Scottish mantilZa, and till nearly the close of the last century a tartan plaid, or screen, was the common headdress ok women of the lower order in Edinburgh, as everywhere else in Scotland. CHAPTER XXII. THE HIGH STREET (conlinurd) The City in xgg8-Fynes Matison on the Manners of the Inhabitants-The ? Lord ? Provost of Edinburgh-Police of the City-Taylor the Water Poet-Banquets at the Cross-The hard Case of the Earl of Tmquair-A Visit of HansThe Quack and his Acrobats-A Procession of Covenanters-Early Stages and Street Coaches-Sale of a Dancing-girl-Constables appointed in 17q-FirSt Number of the Courani-The CaZedmiaB Memry-Carting away of the 5trata of Street FiIth-Condition of old Houses. BEFORE proceeding with the general history of the city, it may not be uninteresting to the reader if we quote the following description of the manners of the inhabitants in 1598, but to be taken under great reservation :- U Myself,? says Monson, in his Ifincrav, ?was at a knight?s house, who had many servants to attend him, that brought in his meat with their heads covered with blew caps (Le., bonnets), the table being more than half furnished with great platters of porridge, each having (in them) a little piece of sodden meat; and when the table was served, the servants sat down with ? us ; but the upper mess, instead of porridge, had a pullet, with some prunes in the broth. And I observed no art of cookery, or furniture of household stuff, but rather a rude neglect of both, though myself and my companion, sent from the Governor of Berwick, about Bordering affairs, were entertained in their best manner. The Scots living then in factions, used to keep many followers, and so consumed their revenue of victuals, living in some want of money. They vulgarly eat hearth cakes of oats, but in cities have also wheaten bread, which for the most part
Volume 2 Page 198
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