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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


1-50 OLD.? AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The City Crosa. by the Figgate-burn ere he marched to storm Dunbar.? There lie citizens who have fought for their country at Flodden, Pinkie, and a hundred:other fields; and there lies one whose name is still mighty in the land, and ?who never feared the face of man?-John Knox. He expired at his old manse, near the Nether Bow, on the 24th of No- ~ vember, 1572, in his sixty-seventh year, and his body was attended to the grave by a great multitude of people, incIuding the chief of the nobles and the Regent Morton, whose simple iZqe over his grave is so well known. It cannot but excite surprise that no effort was made by the Scottish people to preserve distinctly the remains of the great Reformer from desecration, but some of that spirit of irreverence for the past which he incul- GRAVE OF JOHN KNOX. cated thus recoiled upon himself, and posterity knows not his exact resting-place. If the tradition mentioned by Chambers, says Wilson, be correct, that ? his burial-place was a few feet from the front of the old pedestal of King Charles?s statue, the recent change in the position of the latter must have placed it directly mer his grave-perhaps as strange a monument to the great apostle of Presbyterianism as fancy could devise !? Be all this as it may, there is close by the statue a small stone let intc the pavement inscribed simply ? I. K., 1572.? An ancient oak pulpit, octagonal and panelled brought from St. Giles?s church, and said to havc been the same in which he was wont to preach, i! still preserved in the Royal Institution on tht Earthen Mound. . . Close by St. Giles?s church, where radii in thc causeway mark its site, stood the ancient cros! of the city, so barbarously swept away by thc ignorant and tasteless magistracy of 1756. Scott and other men of taste, never ceased to deplore it! destruction, and many attempts have been vainl; nade to collect the fragments and reconstruct it, [n ? Marmion,? as the poet has it :- ?? Dunedin?s cross, a pillared stone, Rose on a turret octagon; But now is razed that monument, And the voice of Scotland?s law went forth, Oh, be his tomb as lead to lead Upon its dull destroyer?s head !- A minstrel?s malison is said.? . - -Whence royal edicts rang, In gloribus trumpet clang. A battlemented octagon tower, furnished with four angular turrets, it was sixteen feet in diameter, and fifteen feet high. From this rose the centre pillar, xlso octagon, twenty feet in height, surmounted by a beautiful Gothic capital, terminated by a crowned unicorn. Caldenvood tells us that prior to King Tames?s visit to Scotland the old cross was taken down from the place where it had stood within the memory of man, and the shaft transported to the new one, by the aid of certain mariners from Leith. Rebuilt thus in 1617, nearly on the site of an older cross, it was of a mixed style of architecture, and in its reconstruction, with a better taste than later years have shown, the chief ornaments of the ancient edifice had been preserved ; the heads in basso-relievo, which surmounted seven of the arches, have been referred by our most eminent antiquaries to the remote period of the Lower Empire. Four of those heads, which were long preserved by Mr. Ross at Deanhaugh, were procured by Sir Walter Scott, and are still preserved at Abbotsford, together with the great stone font or basin which flowed with wine on holidays. The central pillar, long preserved at Lord Somerville?s house, Drum, near Edinburgh, now stands near the Napier tomb, within a railing, on the north side of the choir of St. Giles?s, where it was >placed_in 1866. A crowned unicorn surmounts it, bearing a pennon blazoned with a silver St. Andrew?scross on one side, and on the. other the city crest-an anchor. From the side of that venerable shaft royal proclamations, solemn denunciations of excommunication and outlawry, involving ruin and death, went forth for ages, and strange and terrible have been the scenes, the cqelties, the executions, and absurdities, it has witnessed. From its battlements, by tradition, mimic heralds of the unseen world cited the gallant James and all our Scottish chivalry to appear in the domains of Pluto immediately before the march of the army to Flodden, as recorded at great length in the ?? Chronicles of Pitscottie,? and rendered more pleasantly, yet literally, into verse by Scott- ~
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The City Cross. J EXECUTIONS AT. THE CITY CROSS. ?5? It flits, expands, and 2 hifts, till loud From midmost of the spectre crowd, The awfd sunzmom canu I? Then, according to Pitscottie, followed the ghastly roll of all who were doomed to fall at Flodden, including the name of Mr. Richard Lawson, who ?? Then on its battlements they saw A vision passing Nature?s law, Strange, wild, and dimly seen ; Figures that seemed to rise and die, Gibber and sign, advance and fly, While nought confirmed could ear or eye Dream of sound or mien. Yet darkly.did it seem as there, Heralds and pursuivants prepare, , qith trumpet sound and blazon fair, A summons to proclaim ; But?indistinct the pageant.proud, As fancy forms of midnight cloud, When flings the moon uwn her shroud As ever Scotland bred, A catheran to his trade. Had ever greater joy, I and my Gilderoy !? Descended from a highland clan, No woman then or woman-kind Than we two when we lived alone, . wild pranks on the shores of Loch Lomond, when brought to Edinburgh, were drawn backwards on a hurdle to the cross, on the 27th of July, 1636, and there hanged-Gilderoy and John Fprbes suffering on a higher gallows than the rest, and, further, having their heads and hands struck off, to be affixed to the city gates, Gilderoy, we need scarcely add, has obtained a high ballad fame. There is a broadside of the time, containing a lament to him written by his mistress, in rudeverses, not altogether without some pathos ; one verse runs thus :- ??I appeal from that summons and sentence,? he exclaimed, courageously, ? and take me to the mercy of God and Christ Jesus His Son.? ? Verily,? adds Pitscottie, ?the author of this, that caused write the manner of this summons, was a landed gentleman, who was at that time twenty years of age, and was in the town at the time ? My love he was as brave a man of these exhibitions we shall take the following from the diary of Nicoll vmhziim :- ?* Last September, 1652. Twa Englisches, for drinking the King?s health, were takin and bund at Edinburgh croce, quhair either of thame resavit bf the saidsummons, and thereafter when the field thretty-nine quhipes -on thair naiked bakes and was stricken, he swore to me thm was no man shoulderis; thairafter their lugs were naillit to the escujed that was called in this summons, but that gallows. The ane had his lug cuttit from the ruitt man alone who made his protestation and appealed with a razor, the uther being also naillit to the gibfrom the said summons, but afC the Cave perished in bet had his mouth skobif, and his tong being drawn the field with the king.? out the full length, was bound together betwix twa Under the shadow of that cross have been trans- sticks, A G Y ~ iugeddw, with m skainzie-tbd, for the acted many deeds of real horror, more than we can enumerate here-but a few may suffice. There, in 1563, Sir Jaines Tarbat, a Roman Catholic priest, was pilloried in his vestments, with a chalice bound to his hands, and, as Knox has it, was served by the mob with ?his Easter eggs,? till he was pelted to death. There died Sir William Kirkaldy, hanged space of half one hour thereby.? Punishments of this cruel kind were characteristic of the times, and were not peculiar to the Scottish capital alone. In later and more peaceful times the city cross was the ?Change, the great resort of the citizens for a double purpose. They met there to discuss the topics of the day and see their acquaintances, with- *with his face to the sun? (as Knox curiously pre- out the labour of forenoon calls down steep closes I dicted before his own death), for the execution took and up steeper turnpike stairs ; and these gatherings I place at four in the afternoon, when the sun was in I usually took place between the hours of one and two, the west (Calderwood) ; and there, in time to come, , And during the reigns of the two first Georges it died his enemy Morton. There died Montrose , was customary at this place, as the very centre and and many of his cavalier comrades, amid every ! cynosare of the ?city, for the magistrates to drink ignominy that could be inflicted upon them ; and , the king?s health on a stage, *? loyalty being a virtue the two Argyles, father and son. An incredible I which always becomes peculiarly ostentatious when number of real and imaginary criminals have ren- I it is under any suspic,ion of weakness.? dered up their lives on that fatal spot, and among 1 ?The cross, the font or basin of which ran with the not least interesting of the former we may men- wine on festive occasions, was the peculiar rallyiiig tion Gilderoy, or ? the red-haired lad,? whose real point of those now extinct Zuzzaroni-the street name was Patrick Macgregor, and who, with ten , messengers or caddies. ? A ragged, half-blackguard other caterans, accused of cattle-lifting and many 1 lobking set they .. were, but allowed to be amazingly
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