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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. +I i b * c All curious pastimes and consaitg, Cud be imaginat be man, Wea to be 8ene on Edinburgh gaits, Fra time that brauitie began : Ye might haif hard on eureie streit, Trim melodie and musick sweit.’ ‘ And so the poet goes on through thirty-four stanzas of like quaint description. At the Nether Bow, after a representation of marriage had been enacted before them, there was let down to the Queen, by a silk string, from the top of the Port, a box covered with purple velvet, and with her Majesty’s initials wrought on it in diamonds and precious stones,-a parting gift from the good town. More very good psalms followed, and so they rode home to the Palace, well pleased, it is to be hoped, with the day’s entertainments.’ A few days after, the Magistrates entertained the Danish nobles and ambassadors, with their numerous suites, at a splendid banquet, ‘‘ maid at the townis charges and expensis, in Thomas Aitchisoun’s, master of the Cunzie hous lugeing, at Todrik’s Wynd fute,”-a wellknown building, the massive, polished, ashlar front of which still presents a prominent object amid the faded grandeur of the Cowgate. The wine and ale seem to have formed nearly as important an item in the account as they did in Falstaffs tavern bills! My Lord Provost undertakes to provide “naiprie” on the occasion, and if needs be, to advance “ ane hunder pund or mair, as thai sall haif ado ; ” and the treasurer is directed “ to agrie with the fydleris at the bankit, and the samen sall be allowit in his compt~.”~ The Lord Bigh Treasurer’s accounts are equally minute, testifying to the truth of an expression used by James on the occasion, that cca King with a new married wife did not come hame every day I ” e.g., Item, be his Grace precept and special command, twentie-thrie elnis and ane half reid crammosie velvet, to be jowppis and breikis to his Majesties four laquayis. Item, for furnessing of fyftene fedder beddis to the Densis [Danes] within the Palice of Halierndhous, fra the fourt day of Maij 1590, to the auchtene day of Julij ; takand for ilk bed, in the nicht, tua schilling !” &c. ; the whole winding up with an item, to James Nisbet, jailor of the Tolbuith, for his expehses in keeping sundry witches there, by his Majesty’s orders. Few incidents, which are very closely connected with Edinburgh, occurred during the remainder of the King’s life, until his accession to the English throne. In 1596, owing to a disagreement between him and the clergy, a tumult was excited, which greatly exasperated him, so that he ordered the Parliament and Courts of Justice to be removed from thence, and even listened to the advice of several of his nobles, who recommended him utterly to erase the city from the face of the earth, and erect a column on the site of it, “as an infamous memorial of their detestable rebellion I ” The magistrates made the most abject offers of submission, but King James,-who, with all his high notions of prerogative, enjoyed very little of the real power of a king, so long as he remained in Scotland,-was The records of the Town Council contain some curious entries regarding this feast. Description of the Queen’s Entry into Edinburgh, by John Bvrel. Wataon’s Coll. of Scota Poeme. Hiat. of Jarnes the Sext., p. 38-42. Acta of Town Council, apud Marriage of Jamee VI., p. 36.
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YAMES YI. TO RESTORATION OF CHARLES 11. 89 very willing to make the most of such an occasion as this, and remained for a time inexorable. The magistrates were required to surrender themselves prisoners at Perth, and one of them having failed to appear, the town was denounced, the inhabitants declared rebels, and the city revenues sequestrated to the King’s use. The magistrates at length went in a body to the Palace of Holyrood House, and, kneeling before him, made offer of such concessions as the indignant monarch was pleased to accept. One of the conditions bound them to deliver up, for the King’s sole me, the houses in their kirkyard, occupied by the town ministers, which was accordingly done, and on the site of them the Parliament House, which still stands (though recently entirely remodelled externally), was afterwards built. They also agreed to pay to him the sum of twenty thousand merks, and 80 at length all difficulties were happily adjusted between them, and the city restored to its ancient privileges. After the execution of the famous Earl of Gowry and his brother at Perth, their dead bodies were brought to Edinburgh and exposed at the Market Cross, hung in chains. From that time, James enjoyed some years of tranquillity, living at Holyrood and elsewhere in such homely state as his revenues would permit; and when the extravagance of his Queen,-who was a devoted patron of the royal goldsmith, George Heriot,-or his own narrow means, rendered his housekeeping somewhat stinted, he was accustomed to pay a condescending visit to some of the wealtllier citizens in the High Street of Edinburgh. An interesting old building, called Lockhart’s Court, Niddry’a Wpd, which was demolished in constructing the southern approach to the town, was especially famous as the scene of such civic entertainment of royalty. We learn, from Moyses’s 34emoirs, of James’s residence there in 1591, along with his Queen, shortly after their arrival from Denmark, and their hospitable reception by Nicol Edward, a wealthy citizen, who was then Provost of Edinburgh.’ His visits, also, to George Heriot were of frequent occurrence, and, as tradition reports, he made no objection to occasionally discussing a bottle of wine in the goldsmith’s little booth, at the west end of St Giles’s Church, which was only about seven feet square.* The death of Queen Elizabeth, in 1603, produced a lively excitement in the minds both of King and people. The anticipation of this event for years had gradually prepared, and in some degree reconciled, the latter to the idea of their King going to occupy the throne of ‘‘ their auld enemies of England,” but its injurious influence on the capital could not be mistaken. On the 31st of March the news was proclaimed at the City Cross by the secretary Elphinstone, and Sir David Lindsay, younger, the Lyon King. King James, before his departure, attended public service in St Giles’s Church, where he had often before claimed the right of challenging the dicta of the preachers from the royal gallery. An immense crowd assembled on the occasion, and listened with deep interest to a discourse expressly addressed to his Majesty upon the important change. The King took it in good part, and, on the preacher concluding, he delivered a farewell address to the people. Many were greatly affecied at the prospect of their King’s departure, which was generally regarded as anything rather than a national benefit. The farewell was couched in the warmest language of friendship. He promised them that he would defend their ’ Mopes’s Memoirs, p. 182. * Chambers’s Traditions, VOL ii. p. 210. M
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