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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


LEITH, AND THE NEW TOWN. 375 resting his fore paw on the sword, and the other placing his paw in one of the scales. On the other sculptured pediment a man is seen armed with a thick pole, with a hook at the end, by which he grasps it; a goat, as it seems, is running towards him, as if butting at him, while a bear seizes it by the waist with his teeth, and another is lying dead beyond. The Hope’s arms are sculptured on the former pediment, underneath the fiingular piece of . sculpture we have described-which occupies the upper part of a pointed arch-so that it is not improbable that the curious scene of the judge determining the plea between the lions and ‘the lamb, may refer to a family alliance with the great Lord Advocate ; though the key to the ingenious allegory has perished with the last of their race. On the south side of the ancient Burgh of Broughton, and nearly on the sight of the present broad street called Picardy Place, there existed till near the close of last century a small village or hamlet called Picardy, which was occupied exclusively by a body of weavers who are said to have been brought over from the French province of that name by the British Linen Company, and settled there for the improvement of their manufactures.’ We have found, however, in a copy of Lord Hailed Annals, a manuscript note, apparently written while this little community of foreign artisans were still industriously plying their looms, in which they are described as a body of French refugees, who 0ed to this country after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1685, and settling on the open common that then lay between Broughton and the old capital, they attempted to establish a silk manufactory. A large plantation of mulberry trees is said to have been laid out by them on the slope of Moutrie’s Hill, and other provision made for carrying on the whole operations of the silk manufacture there. It is well known, that about 50,000 French refugees fled to England at that period, the majority of them settled at Spitalfield, while the remainder scattered themselves over the kingdom. To a body of these unfortunate wanderers the hamlet of Picardy most probably owed its origin. The failure of their mulberry plantations here, as in other parts of the kingdom, no doubt compelled them to abandon their project ; and their experience was probably afterwards made use of in the weaving of linen, on the institution of a company for the encouragement of its manufacture in 1i46. Since then this chartered body has devoted its large capital exclusively to the purposes of banking ; and it is now one of the most wealthy and influential banking companies of Scotland. One other locality of considerable interest in the same neighbourhood is the low valley of Greenside, which skirts the northern base of the Calton HilL Though now exclusively occupied by workshops and manufactories, or by modern dwellings of a very humble character, it formed in ancient times a place of considerable importance. It was bestowed on the citizens by James 11.) as an arena for holding tournaments and the like martial sports of the age; and, according to Pennant, it continued to be used for such feats of arms even in the reign of Queen Mary. Here, he relates, during a public tournament, ‘‘ the Earl of Eothwell made the fwst impression on the susceptible heart of Mary Stuart, having galloped into the ring down the dangerous steeps of the adjacent hilL”O The rude Earl, however, trusted as little to feats of gallantry as to love for the achievement of his unscrupulous aims ; and this may rank among the many spurious traditions which the popular interest in the Scottish Queen has given rise to. A chapel dedicated to the Holy Rood stood in the valley of Greenside at a remote period, and served, in the year 1518, as the Walka in Edi11burg4 p. 217. ’ Pennant’s Tour, voL i p. 70.
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376 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. nucleus of one of the very latest foundations of a monastic institution in Scotland prior to the Reformation ; but we leave the history of the ancient religious and benevolent foundations of this locality for the next chapter. During the present century, it was destined for a very different purpose. When the Union Canal was first projected, its plans included the continuation of it through the bed of the North Loch, where the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway now runs. From thence it was proposed to conduct it to Greenside, in the area of which an immense harbour was to have been constructed ; and this again being connected by a broad canaI with the sea, it was expected that by such means the New Town would be converted into a seaport, and the unhappy traders of Leith compelled either to abandon their traffic, or remove within the precincts of their jealous rivals; Chimerical as .this project may now appear, designs were furnished by experienced engineers, a map of the whole plan was engraved on a large scale, and no doubt our civic reformers rejoiced in the anticipation of surmounting the disadvantages of an inland position, and seeing the shipping of the chief ports of Europe crowding into the heart of their uew capital I OE the memorials of the New Town, properly so called, very few fall legitimately within the plan of this work; yet even its modern streets possess some interesting associations that we would not willingly forego. We have already referred to the house which forms the junction with St Andrew Square and St David Street, as the last residence of the celebrated philosopher and historian, David Hume ; where that strange death-bed scene occurred which has been the subject of such varied comments both by the eulogists and detractors of the great sceptic. Directly opposite to Hume’s house, on the north side of the square, is the house in which Henry Brougham was born. At that period St Andrew Square contained the residences of several noblemen, and was deemed the most fashionable quarter of the rising’ town. The house on the same side at the corner of St Andrew Street was the mansion of David Steuart, Earl of Buchan, and possesses some claim to our interest as the place where the Society of Scottish Antiquaries was instituted in 1780, and where its earliest meetings were held.’ Within the fist eastern division of George Street, the eye of the modern visitor is attracted by the lofty and magnificent portico of the Commercial Bank, a building that seems destined to attest for ages the skill and taste, if not the inventive genius, of our native architects; yet it occupies the site of the Physicians’ Hall, a chaste Grecian edifice designed by Craig, the foundation-stone of which was laid by the celebrated Dr Cullen, in 1774, doubtless with the belief that remote ages might bring to light the memorials which were then buried in its foundations. Nor must we omit to notice the favourite dwelhg of Sir Walter Scott in North Castle Street- ‘‘ TAe ckar tAirty-nine,” which he left under such mournful circumstances in 1826. The New Town of Edinburgh has already many such associations with names eminent in literature and science, some of which, at least, will command the interest of other generations. Our Me~norials, however, are of the olden time, and ye leave future chroniclers to record those of the modern city. Paton’e Correspondence, pp. 170-172.
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