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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


EARLIEST TRAD ITI ONS. 9 have elevated the character of his people. Tradition represents him as beguiling his tedious captivity in England with his pencil ; and Barnes relates that he left behind him, in a vault in Nottingham Castle, the whole story of our Saviour’s passion, curiously engraved on a rock with his own hand.’ With the death of this unfortunate prince terminated the direct line of the Bruce, that had so nobly established, in the independence of Scotland, their right to the throne ; and with it, too, may be considered to close the first epoch in the history of the Scottish capital, while as yet it was only the occasional seat of her Parliaments, and the temporary residence of her prince ; with many of the characteristics of a frontier town, ever on the watch to repel the approach of foreign invaders, or with resolute endurance to stand the Gst brunt of the Southron’s hostile inroads. Abercromby* says of it at this time : ‘‘ Edinburgh was then but a small burgh, or rather, as Walsingham calls it, a village, the houses of which, because they were so often exposed to incursions from England, being thatched for the most part with straw and turf; and when burnt or demolished, were with no great difficulty repaired. me strength of the Castle, the convenience of the Abbey, the fruitfulness of the adjacent country, and its no great distance from the borders, made after kings chuse to reside for the most part, to hold their Parliaments, and keep their courts of justice in this place.” Their mode of defence corresponded with the character of their habitations. When an overwhelming host crossed the borders, and poured down in irresistible fury upon the neighbouring Lothians, like the borderers of later times, they drove off their cattle, concealed their more bulky wealth, and even carried away the straw roofs of their houses, as some security against a conflagation: leaving the. enemy to wreak their futile vengeance upon the walls, that could be again replaced, to satisfy their simple wants, almost ere the retreating foes had reached their homes. Yet they never failed to retaliate ; and no sooner had the invaders been starved into a retreat from the deserted plains, than the burghers of the smoking hamlet were at their heels ; and, as Abercromby adds, “ Conformably to their usual custom, followed the enemy into his own country, and never put up their swords till by a retaliating invasion they had made up for their losses.” To complete the view of national manners at this early period, we shall add the lively picture of Froi~sart,w~h ich, notwithstanding the peculiarities incident to a foreigner’s description of habits altogether new to him, exhibits traits that may still be found under comparatively slight modifications at the present day, after a11 the changes that five centuries have produced. ‘( The Scots,” says he, (‘ are bold and hardy, and much inured to war ; they bring no carriages with them, on account of the mountains they have to pass, neither do they carry with them any provisions of bread or wine ; they have no occasion for pots or caldrons, for they dress the flesh of their cattle in the skins, after they have taken them off, and being nure to find plenty of them in the country they invade, they carry none with them. Under the flaps of his saddle, each man carries a broad plate of metal,’ andthe trusses behind him a bag full of meal. They place this plate over the fire, . ’ Martial Achievementa, vol. ii. p. 141. * Bid, voL ii. 189. a Banatyne, Mkc. Edin. Re- Scotorum Dwcrip. ’ Ibid, voL i p, 32. a Scottiec, A Girdle. B
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ro MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. mix with water their ;atmeal ; and when the plate is heated, put a little of the paste upon it, and make a thin cake, like a cracknell or biscuit, which they eat to warm their stomachs : it is therefore no wonder that they should perform a longer day’s march than any other Boldiers I ” VIGNETTE-corbel, from Sh Qiles’s Church,
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