Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


Canongate.] MORAY HOUSE. 31 fined here under a guard of Cromwell?s soldiers, effected their escape by rending their blankets and sheets into strips. In January, 1675, the captain of the Edinburgh Tolbooth complained to the Lords of Council that his brother official in the Canongate used to set debtors at liberty at his own free will, or by consent of the creditor by whom they were imprisoned without pemiission accorded. After the erection of the Calton gaol this edifice was used for the incarceration of debtors alone; and the number therein in October, 1834, was only seventeen, so little had it come to be wanted for that purpose. Within a court adjoining the Tolbooth was the old Magdalene Asylum, instituted in 1797 for the reception of about sixty females j but the foundation- stone of a new one was laid in October, 1805, by the Provost, Sir William Fettes, Bart, in presence of the clergy and a great concourse of citizens. ?In the stone was deposited a sealed bottle, containing various papers relating to the nse, progress, and by an arrangement with her younger sister, Anne Home, then Countess of Lauderdale, by whom the mansion was built. ?It is old and it is magnificent, but its age and magnificence are both different from those of the lofty piled-up houses of the Scottish aristocracy of the Stuart dynasty.? Devoid of the narrow, suspicious apertures, barred and loopholed, which connect old Scottish houses with the external air, the entrances and proportions of this house are noble, spacious, and pleasing, though the exterior ha$ little ornament save the balcony, on enormous trusses, projecting into the street, with ornate entablatures over their great windows and the stone spires of its gateway. There are two fine rooms within, both of them dome-roofed and covered with designs in bas-relief, The initials of its builder, M. H., surmounted by a coronet, are sculp THE STOCKS, FROM THE CANONGATE TOLBOOTH. (Now in the Scottisk A ~ ~ ~ w w % z R Mfucum.) present state of the asylum.? This institution was afterwards transferred to Dalry. A little below St. -John Street, within a court, stood the old British Linen Hall, opened in 1766 by the Board of Manufactures for the Sale and Custody of Scottish Linens-an institution to be treated of at greater length when we come to its new home on the Earthen Mound. Among the curious booth-holders therein was (( old John Guthrie, latterly of the firm of Guthrie and Tait, Nicholson Street,?? who figures in ? Kay?s Portraits,? and whose bookstall in the hall-after he ceased being a travelling chapman-was the resort of all the curious book collectors of the time, till he removed to the Nether Bow. A little below the Canongate Church there was still standing a house, occupied in 1761 by Sir James Livingstone of Glentenan, which possessed stables, hay-lofts, and a spacious flowergarden. By far the most important private edifice still remaining in this region of ancient grandeur and modern squalor is that which is usually styled Moray House, being a portion of the entailed property of that noble family, in whose possession it remained exactly zoo years, having become the property of Margaret Countess of Moray in 1645 tured on the south &- dow, and over another on the north are the lions of Home and Dudley impaled in a lozenge, for she was the daughter of Lord Dudley Viscount Lyle, and then the widow of Alexander first Earl of Home, who accompanied James VI. into England. She erected the house some years before the coronation of Charles I. at Edinburgh in 1633; and she contributed largely to the enemies of his crown, as appears by a repayment to her by the English Parliament of ~ 7 0 , 0 0 0 advanced by her in aid? of the Covenanters; and hence, no doubt, it was, that when Cromwell gained his victory over the Duke of Hamilton in the north of England, we are told, when the (then) Marquis of Argyle conducted Cromwell and Lambert, with their army, to Edinburgh, they kept their quarters at the Lady Home?s house in the Canongate, according to Guthrie, and there, adds Sir James Turner, they came to the terrible conclusion ?( that fhere was a necessitie fa fake away fhe King?s Zzyee;?? so that if these old walls had a tongue they might reveal dark conferences connected with the most dreadful events of that sorrowful time. In conclave with Cromwell and Argyle were the.Earls of Loudon and Lothian, the Lords Arbuthnot, Elcho, and Burleigh, with Blair, Dixon, Guthrie, and other Puritans. Here, two years subsequently, occurred, on the balcony, the cruel and ungenerous episode connected with the fallen Montrose, amid the joyous banquetings and revelry on the occasicn of
Volume 3 Page 31
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print   Pictures Pictures