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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


6 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Canongate attendants to say such prayers by her bedside as ? the seventeenth century, and the lofty buildings on were fitting for a person not expected to survive a mortal disorder. ? He ventured to remonstrate, and observed that her safe delivery warranted better hopes; but he was sternly commanded to obey the orders first given, and with difficulty recollected himself sufficiently to acquit himself of the task imposed on him, He was then again hurried into the chair ; but as they conducted him down-stairs he heard the report of a pistol! He was safely conducted home, and a purse of gold was forced upon him; but he was warned at the same time that the least allusion to this dark transaction would cost him his life. He betook himself to rest, and after long and broken musing, fell into a deep sleep. From this he was awakened with the dismal news that a fire of uncommon fury had broken out in the house of -, near the head of the Canongate, and that it was totally consumed, with the shocking addition that the daughter of the proprietor, a young lady eminent for beauty and accomplishments, had perished in the flames. The clergyman had his suspicions ; but to have made them public would have availed gothing. He was timid ; the family was of the first distinction; above all, the deed was done, and could not be amended. ?Time wore away, and with it his terrors; but he became unhappy at being the solitary depositary -of this fearful mystery, and mentioned it to some of his brethren, through whom the anecdote acquired a sort of publicity. The divine had long been dead when a fire broke out on the same spot where the house of - had formerly stood, and which was now occupied by buildings of an inferior description. When the flames were at their height, the tumult that usually apends such a scene was. suddenly suspended by an unexpected apparition. A beautiful female in a nightdress, extremely rich, but at least half a century old, appeared in ,the very midst of the fire, and uttered these tremendous words in her vernacular idiom :-? Anes bumeddwice burned-the third time 1?11 scare you all ! ? The belief in this story was so strong, that on a fire breaking out, and seeming to approach the fatal spot, there was a good deal of anxiety testified lest the apparition should make good her denunciation.? I According to a statement in Nates and Queries, this story was current in Edinburgh before the childhood of Scott, and the murder part of it was generally credited, He mentions a person acquainted with the city in 1743 who used to tell ithe tale and point out the site of the house. It is Remarkable that a great fire did happen there in . the spot date from that time. Of the plague, which in 1645 nearly depopu- . lated the Canongate as well as the rest of Edinburgh, a singular memorial still remains, a little lower down the street, on the north side, in the form of a huge square tenement, called the Morocco Land, from the effigy of a turbaned Moor, which projects from a recess above the second floor, and having an alley passing under it, inscribed with the following legend :- ? MISERERE MEI, DOMINE : A PECCATO, PKOBRO, DEBITO, ET MORTE SUBITA. LIBERA ~~1.6.18.? Of the origin of this edifice various romantic stories are told: one by Chambers, to the effect t5at a young woman belonging to Edinburgh, having been taken upon the sea by an African rover, was sold to the harem of the Emperor of Morocco, whose favourite wife she became, and enabled her brother to raise a fortune by merchandise, and that in building this stately edifice he erected the black nude figure, with turban and necklace of beads, as a memorial of his royal brother-in-law; but the most complete and consistent outline of its history is that given by Wilson in his ? Memorials,? from which it would appear that during one of the turnults which occurred in the city after the accession of Charles I., the house of the Provost, who had rendered himself obnoxious to the rioters, was assaulted and set on fire. Among those arrested as a ringleader was Andrew Gray, a younger son of the Master of Gray, whose descendants inherit the ancient honours of Kinfauns, and who, notwithstanding the influence of his family, was tried, and sentenced to be executed on the second day thereafter. On the very night that the scaffold was being erected at the Cross he effected his escape from the City Tolbooth by means of a rope conveyed to him by a friend, who had previously given some drugged liquor to the sentinel at the Puir-folkspurses, and provided a boat for him, by which he crossed the North Loch and fled beyond pursuit. Time passed on, and the days of the great civil war came. ? Gloom and terror now pervaded the streets of the capital. It was the terrible pear 1645-the last visitation of the pestilence to Edinburgh- when, as tradition tells us,? says Wilson, ?grass grew thickly .about the Cross, once as crowded a centre of thoroughfare as Europe could boast of.? The Parliament was compelled to sit at Stirling, and the Town Council, on the 10th of April, agreed with Joannes Paulitius, M.D., that he should visit the infected at a salary of AS0 Scot
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