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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


High Street.] EDINBURGH IN 1598 AND 1618. I99 is bought by courtiers, gentlemen, and the best sort of citizens. They drink pure,aines, not with sugar, as we English, yet at feasts they put comfits in the wine, after the French manner; but they had not our vintner?s fraud to mix their wines. *? I did not see nor hear that they have any public inns, with signs hanging out ; but the better sort of ? citizens brew ale (which will distemper a stranger?s body), and then some citizens will entertain passengers upon acquaintance or entreaty (i.e., introductioh). Their bedsteads were then like cupboards in the wall (i.e., box beds), to be opened and shut at pleasure, so we climbed up to our beds. They used but one sheet, open at the sides and top, but close at the feet. When passengers go to bed, their custom is to present them a sleeping cup of wine at parting. The country people and merchants used to drink largely, the gentlemen somewhat more sparingly; yet the very courtiers, by nightmeetings and entertaining any strangers, used to drink healths, not without excess ; and to speak the truth without offence, the excess of drinking was far greater among the Scots than the English. *? Myself being at the Court was invited by some gentlemen to supper, and being forewarned to fear this excess, would not promise to sup with them but upon*condition that my inviter would be my protection from large drinking. . . . The husbandmen in Scotland, the servants, and almost all the country, did wear coarse cloth made at home, of grey or sky colour, and flat blew caps, very broad. The merchants in cities were attired in English or French cloth, of pale colour, or mingled black and blew. The gentlemen did wear English cloth or silk, or light stuffs, little or nothing adorned with silk lace, much less with silver or gold ; and all followed the French fashion, especially at Court. ?Gentlewomen married did wear close upper bodies, after the German manner, with large whalebone sleeves, after the French manner; short cloaks like the Germans, French hoods, and large falling bands about their necks. The unmarried of all sorts (?) did go bareheaded, and wear short cloaks, with close linen sleeves on their arms, like the virgins of Germany. The inferior sort of citizen?s wives and the women of the country did wear cloaks ,made of a coarse stuff, of two or three colours, in checker work, vulgarly called jZodun (i.e., tartan plaiding). ?To conclude, they would not at this time be attired after the English fashion in any sort; but the men, especially at Court, followed the French fashion ; and the women, both in Court and city, as well -in cloaks as naked heads and close sleeves on the arms, and all other garments, follow the fashion of the women in Germany.? On the 20th of June, 1610, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh exhibited to his Council two gowns, one black, the other red, trimmed with sable, the gift of King James, as patterns of the robes to be worn by him and the bailies of the city; and in 1667 Charles 11. gave Sir Alexander Ramsay, Provost in that year, a letter, stating that the chief magistrate of Edinburgh should have the same precedence in Scotland as the Mayor of London has in England, and that no other provost should have the title of ?I Lord Provost ?-a privilege which has, however, since been modified. l h e attention of King James, who never forgot the interests of his native city, was drawn in 1618 to two abuses in its police. Notwithstanding the warning given by the fire of 1584, it was still cus tomary for ?baxters and browsters? (i.e., bakers and brewers) to keep great stacks of heather, whins, and peatq in the very heart of the High Street and other thoroughfares, to the great hazard of all adjacent buildings, and many who were disposed to erect houses within the walls were deterred from doing so by the risks to be run ; while, moreover, candle-makers and butchers were allowed to pursue their avocations within the city, to the disgust and annoeance of civil and honest neighbours, and of the nobility and country people,? who came in about their private affairs, and thus a royal procla- .mation was issued against these abuses. The idea of a cleaning department.of police never occurred to the good folks of those days ; hence, in the following year, the plan adopted was that each inhabitant should keep clean that part of each street before his own bounds. In 1618 Edinburgh was visited by Taylor the Water Poet, and his description of it is as truthful as it is amusing :-? So, leaving the castle, as it is both defensive against any opposition and magnifick for lodging and receipt, I descended lower to the city, wherein I observed the fairest and goodliest street mine eyes ever beheld, for I did never see or hear of a street of that length (which is half a mile English from the castle to a fair port, which they call the Nether Bow); and from that port the street which they call the Kenny-gate (Canongate) is one quarter of a mile more, down to the king?s palace, called Holyrood House ; the buildings on each side of the way being all of squared stone, five, six, and seven storeys high, and many bye-lanes and closes on each side of the way, wherein are gentlemen?s houses, much fairer than the buildings in the High Street, fur in the High Street the merchants and tradesmen. do dwell, but
Volume 2 Page 199
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