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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


The Mound.] A PROPOSED HARBOUR. no ?And such a lot, my Skene, was thine, When thou of late wert doomed to twine- - Just when thy bridal hour was by- The cypress with the myrtle tie. Just on thy bride her sire had smiled, And blessed the union of his child, When love must change its joyous cheer, And wipe affection?s filial tear.? In the subsequent March Scott had left his beloved house in Castle Street for ever. Among the memorials of the Pictish race, illustrated so ably in Dr. Stuarfs ? Sculptured Stones of Scotland,? is one with the peculiar emblems of the crescent and sceptre, which was found under the Castle rock and near the west churchyard. The line of railway which intersects the garden, and passes by a tunnel under the new portion of St. Cuthbert?s churchyard, fails to mar its beauty, as it is almost entirely hidden by trees and shrubbery, especially about the base of the rock, from which the castle ?looks down upon the city as if out of another world: stem with all its peacefulness, its garniture of trees, its slopes of grass. The rock is dingy enough in colour, but after a shower its lichens laugh our greenly in the returning sun, while the rainbow is brightening on the lowering sky beyond. How deep the shadow which the castle throws at noon on the gardens at its feet, where the children play! How grand when giant bulk and towery crown blacken against the sunset ! In the extreme western portion of the gardens lie some great fragments of masonry, which have fallen down in past sieges from some of the older walls in the vicinity of the sallyport, while thefoundations of these are to be traced from point to point, some feet on the outside of the present fortifications, and lower down the rock. In the western hollow is an ornamental fountain of considerable beauty, and formed of iron, named after its donor, Mr. Ross, who spent A3;ooo on its erection. In 1876 the gardens were acquired by the citizens, and were thea much improved They are used in summer for musicaI promenades, and in contour and embellishment, though much more extensive, have a certain resemblance to the gardens on the east side of the Earthen Mound. For long years after the loch had passed away the latter was but a reedy, marshy hollow, intersected by what was called the Little Mound, that led from near South St. Andrew Street to the foot of Mary King?s Close. The ground was partially drained when the North Bridge was built, but more effectually about 1821, when it was let as a nursery. .When the Union canal was projected, towards the close of the last century, the plans for it, not unlike those of the Earl of Mar in 1728, included the continuation of it through the bed of the North Loch, past where a street was built, and actually called Canal Street. ?From thence it was proposed to conduct it to Greenside, in the area of which was an immense harbour ; and this, again,. being connected by a broad canal with the sea, it was expected that by such means the New Town would be converted into a seaport, and the unhappy traders of Leith compelled either to abandon their traffic or remove within the precincts of their jealous rivals. Chimerical as this project may now appear, designs were furnished by experienced engineers, a map of the whole plan was engraved on a large scale, and no doubt our civic reformers rejoiced in the anticipation of surmounting the disadvantages of an inland position, and seeing the shipping of the chief ports of Europe crowding into the heart of their new capital ! ? The operations for forming the canal were delayed in 1776 by a dispute between the magistrates and the feuars of the extended royalty relative to Canal Street, that ended in the Court of Session, which sustained ? the defences pled by the magistrates of Edinburgh, and assoilie from the conclusion of the declarator j but with respect to the challenge brought with regard to particular houses being built contrary to the Act of Parliament, 1698, remit to the Lord Ordinary to hear parties to do as he shall see cause.? The Lord President, the Lord Justice Clerk, and Lord Covington, were of a different opinion from the rest of the court, and condemned the conduct of the magistrates in very severe terms. The Act of 1698, referred to, was one restricting the height of houses within the city, and to the effect that none should be above five storeys, with a front wall of three feet in thickness at the base. In March, 1776, the dispute was adjusted, and a print of the time tells us that the public ?? will now be gratified with a pleasure-ground upon the south side of Princes Street, to a considerable extent ; and the loch will in time be formed into a canal, which will not only be ornamental, but of great benefit to the citizens? This Utopian affair was actually commenced, for in the Edinburgh We&y Magazine of the 28th March, 1776, we are told that on the 25th instant twenty labourers ? began to work at the banks of the intended canal between the old and new town but how far the work proceeded we hake no means of knowing. The site of the projected canal is now occupied
Volume 3 Page 99
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