Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


220 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. Where Scotland’s nobles sate, as if in scorn Or vain regret, o’er the deserted pile. For centuries its paving had been worn By courtiers, once unmatched in crafty guile, By many a baron bold, and lovely dame, And scions, too, of Scotland‘s royal line ; While, from beneath, preferred a worthier claim Names that with stern historic scenes entwine, And some whose memory time has failed to keep, Oblivious of the trust. Knox slumbers there, Mingling with border chiefa that stilly sleep ; And churl, and burgher bold, and haughty peer, With those a people wept for, sharing now The common lot, unhonoured and unknown. Strange wreck, o’er ruins in the dust below ! . Thrice deaecrated burial-place ! Where once were held in trust the noble d d ’Neath grassy hillock and memorial urn,- With requiem graven only by their tread, Whose steps forgotten generations spurn. But civic sycophants,-a courtly tool,- Bartered stone Cromwell for a Charles of lead,- Ignoble meed for tyranny’s misrule, To rear above the great dishonoured dead ! Fire, time, and modern taste,-the worst of all,- Have swept in ruthless zeal across the scene And the lead king and shadow on the wall, Alone survive of all that once has been. The Btone
Volume 10 Page 240
  Enlarge Enlarge  
CHAPTER V. THE HIGH STREET. WING to the peculiar site of the Scottish capital, no extension of the Old Town beyond its early limits has in any degree detracted from the importance of its most ancient thoroughfare, which extends under different names from the Palace to the Castle, and may be regarded as of antiquity coeval with the earliest fortifications of the citadel to which it leads. Alongside of this roadway, on the summit of the sloping ridge, the rude huts of the early Caledonians were constructed, and the first parish church of St Giles reared, so early, it is believed, as the ninth century.’ Fynes Moryson, an English traveller, who visited Edinburgh in the year 1598, thus describes it :-“ From the King’s Pallace at the east, the city still riseth higher and higher towards the west, and consists especially of one broad and very faire street,- which is the greatest part and sole ornament thereof,-the rest of the side streetes and allies being of poore building, and inhabited with very poore people.” We may add, however, to his concluding remark, the more accurate observation of the eccentric traveller, Taylor, the water-poet, who visited the Scottish capital a few years later, and shows his greater familiarity with its internal features by describing ‘‘ many by-lanes and closes on each side of the way, wherein are gentlemen’s houses, much fairer than the buildings h the High Street, for in the High Street the merchants and tradesmen do well, but the gentlemen’s mansions, and goodIiest houses, are obscurely founded in the aforesaid lanes.” The preceding chapter is chiefly devoted to some of the more ancient and peculiar features of this street. Yet strictJy speaking, while every public thoroughfare is styled in older writs and charters ‘‘ the King’s High Street,” the name was only exclusively applied Amot, p. 268. * Itinerary, London, 1617. Bann. Mia. vol. ii. p. 393. VIcmm~-Common Seal of the City of Edinburgh, from a charter dated AD. 1565. Vidc p. 73, for the Counter Seal
Volume 10 Page 241
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures