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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


kii PR EFA CE. recbrds’, as well as to niany others, whose obliging assistance has in vaGous ways lightened the labour of the work. In searching for the charters and title-deeds of old mansions, by which alone accurate and trustworthy information could in many cases be obtained, I have met with the frankest co-operation from strangers, to whom my sole introduction was the object of research i while the just appreciation of such courtesy has been kept alive by the surly or supercilious rebuffs with which I was occasionally arrested in similar inquiries. Some of the latter have been amusing enough. On one occasion access to certain title-deeds of an ancient property was denied in a very abrupt manner, while curiosity was whetted meanwhile by the information, somewhat testily volunteered, that the deeds were both ancient and very curious. All attempts to mollify the dragon who guarded these antiquarian treasures proving unavailing, the search had to be abandoned ; but I learned afterwards, that the old tenement which had excited my curiosity-and which, except to an antiquary, seemed hardly worth a groat-was then the subject of litigation between two Canadian clairnanh to’ the heirship of the deceased Scottish laird; and the unconscious archEeologist had been set down as the agent of some Yankee branch of the Quirk-Gammon-and-Snap school of legal practitioners I If is impossible, indeed, to do more than allude to these. In acknowledging the assistance I have been favoured with, I must not omit to notice that of my friend Mr Jamea Drummond, A.R.S.A., to whose able pencil the readers owe the view in the interior of St Giles’s Church, which forms the vignette at the head of the last chapter. To the Rev. John Sime, I am also indebted for the drawing of the groundplan of St Giles’s Church, previous to the recent alterations, an engraving of which illustrates the Appendix ; and to the very accurate. pencil of Mr William Douglas, for several of the inscriptions which illustrate that peculiar feature of our ancient buildings. The remainder of the vignettes are from my own sketches, unless where other sources are stated, and for the correctness of these I am responsible, nearly the whole of them having been drawn on the wood with my own hand. - It may be desirable to state, that the historical sketch comprised in the first seven chapters of the Work was written, and heady all through the press, before I found t h e to arrange a large collection of materials in the form in which they are now presented in the Second Part. I have accordingly, in one or two cases, somewhat modified my earlier views. The opinion expressed on p. 50, for example, as to the total destruction of the whole private buildings of the town in 1544, I am now.shtisfied is erroneous,’-and various edifices are
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PREFACE. xiii accordingly described in succeeding chaptkrs; the walls of which evidently suffered no very great injury from that des tructive conff aption. . . I am far from conceiving that the materials for an antiquarian history of Edinburgh are exhausted, ,though probably .nearly all has now been gleaned from traditional sources to which any worth can be attached. There is, indeed, no lack of such legeuds to those who clioose to go in search of them. The Scottish antiquary finds an amount of sympathy in his pursuit among the peasantry and the lower classes of the town population,. wlich, however it be accounted for, he will look for in vain among the more educated, as a class. The tenants of the degraded dwellings of the old Holyrood aristocracy cherish the memory of their titled predecessors with a zeal that would do credit to the most accomplished editor of the Blue Book. One half of the old wives of Edinburgh prove, on evidence which it would be dangerous to dispute, that their .crazy mansions were once the abodes of royalty, or the palaces of Scottish grandees, while the monotony of hackneyed tales of Queen’ Mary and Cromwell-the popular hero and heroine of such romances-is occasionally varied by the ingenious embellishments of some more practised story-teller, Modern local traditions, however; are like the moden antiques of our ballad books ; their genealogy is more difficult to trace than the evidence of their spuriousness. One might, indeed, pardon the fictions of antiquarian romancers, if they brought to the aid of the memorialist such skilful forgeries as Chatterton furnished to the too credulous historian of Bristol ; finding in the unfailing treasures of the .old muniment chest of St Mary’s Retcliffe, and the versatile parchments of (( The gode prieste RomZey,” whatever the diligent antiquary wished to discover I The exorcisms of such disenchantera as the modern architect of St Giles’s, however, have put to flight more pleasant facts, and fictions too, than the inventive genius even of a Chatterton can restore ; while popular periodical literature, diluted into halfpenny worths of novelette and romance, has so poisoned the pure old springs of tradition, that one detects in the most unsophisticated grand-dame tales of the present day, some adulteration from the manufactory of the literary hack. This it is which makes it so reasonable SL source of regret, that Arnot should have stalked through the parlieus of Old Edinburgh, elevated on historic stilts, at a time when a description of what lay around him, and a relation of the fireside gossip of the stately old Scottish dames of the eighteenth century, would have snatched from oblivion 8 . thousand curious reminiscences, now altogether beyond recall. To a very different and much less attractive source, we are compelled to turn for the chance of recovering ‘
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