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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


340 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH, as an industrious burgher. He was imported from Holland, it is believed, near the beginning of last century, and first did duty with Rpade in hand at a seedsman’s door in the Canongate ; from thence he passed to a grocer in the High Street, and soon after he made his appearance in the Bow, where his antiquated costume consorted well with the oldfashioned neighbourhood. Since the destruction of this, his last retreat, he has found a fit refuge in the lobby of the Antiquarian Museum. On the opposite side of the street, the last tenement on the east side of the first turning, and situated, as its titles express, “without the place where the old Bow stood,” was popularly known as the Clockmaker’s Land. It had been occupied in the reign of Charles 11. by Paul Romieu,’ an ingenious knockmaker, who is believed to have been one of the French refugees, compelled to forsake his native land on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. In 1675, as appears from the records of the Corporation of Hammermen, a watch was, for the fist time, added to the knockmaker’s essay, previous to which date it is probable that watches were entirely imported. There remained on the front of this ancient tenement, till its demolition, some portions of a curious piece of mechanism which had formed the sign of its ingenious tenant. This was a gilt ball representing the moon, originally made to revolve by clockwork, and which enjoyed to the last a share of the admiration bestowed on the wonders of the Bow. Other and more curious erections than those we have described had occupied the ground along this steep descent at a still earlier period, when the secular clergy shared with the Templars the dwellings in the Bow. In the “ Inventar of Pious Donations,” to which we have already frequently referred, a charter is recorded, bearing date February 15, 1541, whereby 6‘ Sir Thomas Ewing mortifies to a chaplain in St Giles Kirk, an annual rent of twentysix shillings out of Henry Spittal’s Land, at the Upper Bow, on the east side of ye transse y’of, betwixt Bartil Kairn’s Land on the south, St James Altar Land on the north, and the King’s Street on the west.” Below the Clockmaker’s Land, the tortuous thoroughfare turned suddenly at an acute angle, and presented along its devious steep a strange assemblage of fantastic timber and stone gables; several of them being among those strange relics ’of a forgotten order of things, the Temple Lands, and one of them, with its timber ceilings curiously adorned with paintings2 in the style already described in the Guise Palace, bearing the quaint legend over its antique lintel, in ornamental characters of a very early date :- HE YT a THOLIS * OVERCVMMIS. Behind these lay several steep, narrow, and gloomy closes, containing the most singular groups of huge, irregular, and diversxed tenements that could well be conceived. Here a crazy stunted little timber dwelling, black with age, and beyond it a pile of masonry rising story above story from some murky profound beyond, that left its chimneys scarcely rivalling those of its dwarfish neighbour after climbing thus far from their foundation. in the depths below. One of these, which we have engraved under the name of ‘‘ The Haunted CZose,” is the same in which the worthy gentlewoman, the neighbour of Major Weir, beheld the spectral giantess vanish in a blaze of fire, as she returned down the West Bow at the witching hour of night. The close, for all its wretched degradation, which had won Minor Antiquitiea Information derived fifty years ago (1833) from a man who WM then eighty years of age. a Some curious fragments of this ceiling are now in the collection of C. K. Sharpe, Esq.
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THE WEST BOW AND SUBURBS. 341 for it the savoury title it retained to the last, still preserved some remains of ancient grandeur, as appears in our view, where an ornamental building is introduced, which had probably formed the summer house of some neighbouring patrician’s pleasure-grounds ere the locality acquired its unenviable distinction. The inventory of the tenants who were at length ejected by the inexorable commissioners, forms, we think, as strange a medley as ever congregated together in one locality. It is thus described ;-‘4 All and hail these laigh houses lying in the said West Bow, in that close commonly called the Stinking Close of Edinburgh, some time possessed, the one thereof by John Edward, cobbler; another by Widow Mitchell; another by John Park, ballad crier; another by Christian Glass, eggwife ; another by Duncan M‘Lachlan, waterman ; and another by Alexander Anderson, bluegown; . . . and with shops, cellars, &c., are part of that tenement acquired by Sir William Menzies of Gladstanes, 29th April 1696.” Beyond the singular group of buildings thus huddled together, the Bow turned abruptly to the south, completing the Z like form of the ancient thoroughfare. Here again, and scattered among the antique tenements that surround the area of the Grassmarket, we find the gables and bartizans surmounted with the stone or iron cross that marks the privileged Templar Lancls. These powerful soldier-priests possessed at one time lands in every county, and nearly in every parish, of Scotland ; and wherever they permitted houses to be erected thereon, they were required to bear the badge of their order, and to submit to the jurisdiction of no local court but that of their spiritual lords. When their possessions passed into secular hands at the Reformation, they still retained their peculiar privileges and burdens, and their exemption from the exclusive burghal restrictions was long a subject of heart-burning and discontent to the chartered corporations and the magistrates of Edinburgh. The Earl of Haddington is still Lord Superior of the Temple Lands, and his representative used to hold Baron’s Courts in them occasionally, until this imperium in imperio was aboliclhed by the Act of 1746, which extinguished the ancient privileges of pit and gallows, and swept away a host of independent baronies all over the kingdom. We cannot leave the West Bow, however, once the principal entry into the town, without glancing at the magnificent pageants which it witnessed through successive centuries. Up this steep and narrow way have ridden James IV. and V., his Queen, Mary of Guise, and their fair and ill-fated daughter Queen Mary. Here, too, the latter rode in no joyous ceremonial, with Bothwell at her side, and his rude border spearmen closing around her ; though they had thrown away their weapons as they approached the capital, that the ravished Queen might appear to her subjects as the arbiter of her own fate. To those who read aright the history of this calumniated and cruelly wronged Queen, few incidents in her life are more touching than when she rode up the Bow on this occasion, and turning her horse’s head, was about to proceed towards her own Palace of Holyrood. It is the very culminating point of her existence ; but the die was already cast.. Bothwell, who had assumed for the occasion the air of an obsequious courtier, now seized her horse’s bridle, and she entered the Castle a captive, and in his power. By the same street her son, James VI., and his Queen, Anne of Denmark, made their ceremonious entries to the capital ; and in like manner, Charles I., Oliver Cromwell, and James VIL, while Duke of York, accompanied by his Queen and daughter, afterwards Queen Anne.
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