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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


F e Tolbooth. 124 as the- martlet did in Macbeth?s castle. Of later years .these booths have degenerated into mere toy-shops, where the little loiterers chiefly interested in such wares are tempted to linger, enchanted by the rich display of hobby-horses, babies, and Dutch toys, arranged in artful and gay confusion, yet half scared by the cross looks of the withered pantaloon by whom these wares are superintended. But in the times we write of the hosiers, glovers, hatters, mercers, milliners, and all of a hearse, it was calculated to impress all beholders wit!i a sense of what was meant in Scottish law Situated in the very heart of the ancient city, it stood at the north-west corner of the parish church of St. Giles, and so close to it as to leave only a narrow footway between the projecting buttresses, while its tall and gloomy mass extended so far into the High Street, as to leave the thoroughfare at that part only 14 feet in breadth. ?Reuben Butler,? says Scott, writing ere its demolition had been decreed, ?stood now before the Gothic en- , by the spudor carccris.? ? I a collegiate church, and the chapter-house thereof being of sufficient dimensions, would naturally lead to the meeting-place of parliaments, though many were held in Edinburgh long before the time of James III., especially in the old hall of the Castle, now degraded into a military hospital. The first Parliament of James 11. was held in the latter in 1437 ; in 1438 the second Parliament was held at Stirling, but in the November of the same year another in pretonk burgi de Edinburgh, tnnce of the ancient prison, which, as is well known to all men, rears its front in the very middle of the High Street, forming, as it were, the termination to a huge pile of buildings called the Luckenbooths, which, for some inconceivable reason, our ancestors had jammed . into the midst of the principzl stteet of the town, leaving for passage a narrow street on the north and on the south, into which the . prison opens, a narrow, cxooked lane, winding betwixt the high and sombre walls of the Tolbooth and the adjacent houses on one side, and the buttresses and projections of the old church upon the other. To give some gaiety to this sombre passage (well known by the name of the Krames), a number of little booths or shops, after fhe fashion of who dealt in the miscellaneous wares now termed haberdashers? goods, were to be found in this narrow alley.? By the year 156r the Tolbooth, or Preforium burgi de Edinburgi, as it is named in the early Acts of the Scottish Parliament, had become ruinous, and on the 6th of February Queen Mary wrote a letter to the magistrates, charging the Provost to take it down at once, and meanwhile to provide accommodation elsewhere for the Lords of Session. Since the storm of the Reformation the Scottish revenues had been greatly impaired ; money and materials were alike JOHN DOWIE. (After h-uy.) cobblers? stalls, are plastered, as it were, against the Gothic projections and abutments, so that it seemed as if the traders had occupied with nests-bearing about the same proportion to the building-every buttress and coign of vantage, scarce ; hence the magistrates were anxious, if possible, to preserve the old building ; accordingly a new onewas erected, entirelyapart froin it, adjoining the southwest corner of St. Giles?s church, and the eastern portion of t!ie old Tolbooth bore incontestable evidence of being the work of an age long anterior to the date of Queen Mary?s letter, and the line of demarcation between the east and west ends of the edifice is still apparent in all views of it. The more ancient portion, which had on its first floor a large and deeply-embayed square window, having rich Gothic niches on each side, is supposed to have been at one time the house of the Pravost of St. Giles?s church, or some such appendage to the latter, while the prebends and other members of the colleges were accommodated in edifices on the south side of the church, removed in 1632 to make way for the present Parliament House. Thus it is supposed to have been built about 1466, when James 111. erected St. Giles?s into
Volume 1 Page 124
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Volume 1 Page 125
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