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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


392 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. The change8 effected .on the north transept, though equally radical with any we have described on other parts of the church, were accompanied with some beneficial effects, calculated to atone in a slight degree for the destruction of its ancient features. This transept remained in ita original state, extending no further than the outer wall of the north aisle of the choir. Beyond this, and within the line of the centre aisle of the transept, was the belfry turret, with its curious and picturesque stone roof, which is accurately represented in the view from the north-west. This turret was entirely removed and built anew, with a crocketed spire in lieu of the more unique though rude form of the old roof, in a position to the west of the transept, so as so admit of the latter being extended aa far north as the outer wall of the old building. This was accomplished by the demolition of an aisle which had been added to the old transept, apparently about the end of the fifteenth century, and which, though equally richly finished with groined roof and sculptured bosses and corbels, wa.s used till very shortly before its demolition as the offices of the town-clerk. The appropriation, indeed, of the centre of the ancient Collegiate Church, was perhaps an act of as disgraceful and systematic desecration as ever was perpetrated by an irreverent age. The space within the great pillars of the centre tower was walled off and converted into a stronghold for the incarceration of petty offenders, and the whole police establishment found accommodation within the north transept and the adjoining chapels. The reverent spirit of earlier times, which led to the adornment of every lintel and fapade with its appropriate legend or Scripture text, had long disappeared ere this act of sacrilege was so deliberately accomplished, otherwise a peculiarly suitable motto might have been found for St Giles’s north doorway in the text : ‘( My house shall 6e called the louse of prayer, but ye lave made it a den of thieves ! ” In the subdivision of the ancient church for Protestant worship, the south aisle of the nave, with three of the five chapels built in 1389, were converted into what was called the Tolbooth Eirk. Frequent allusions, however, by early writers, in addition to the positive evidence occasionally furnished by the records of the courts, tend to show that both before the erection of the new Tolbooth, and after it was found inadequate for the purposes of a legislative hall and court house, the entire nave of St Giles’s Church was used for the sittings of both assemblies, and is frequently to be understood as the place referred to under the name of the Tolbooth. In the trial, for example, of ‘‘ Mr Adame Colquhoune, convicted of art and part of the treasonable slaughter and murder of umqIe Robert Rankin,” the sederunt of the court is dated March 16, 1561-2, “ In Insula, vocat. Halie-blude Iill, loco pretorii de Edr.,” and nearly a century later, Nicoll, the old diarist, in the midst of some very grave reflections on the instadilitie of man, and the misereis of kirk and stait in his time, describes the frequent changes made on “the Eirk callit the Tolbuith Kirk, quhilk we8 so callit becaus it we8 laitlie the pairt and place quhair the criminal1 court did sitt, and quhair the gallous and the mayden did ly of old ; lykewyse, this K&k alterit and chayngit, and of this one Kirk thai did mak two.’’4 During the interval between the downfall of Episcopacy in 1639, and its restoration in 1661, a constant succession of changes seem to have been made on the internal subdivision of St Giles’s Church, though without in any way permanently affecting the original features of the building. Pitcairn’s Crim. Trials, Supplement, p. 419. ’ Nicoll’s Diary, p. 170.
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ECCLESIASTICAL ANTIQUITIES. 393 Externally, the recent alterations, though greatly injuring the Old Church in some parts, and particularly in its 8out.h front towards the Parliament Close, have effected decided improvements on others. Many of the buttresses had been injured or entirely removed to make way for the booths erected against its walls, and most of the mullions and tracery of the windows had disappeared, and been replaced by clumsy wooden sashes. In the year 1561 the western wall wm rebuilt by order of the Town CounciL It is probable that this part of the building was originally characterised by the usual amount of ornament lavished on the west fronts of cathedrals and collegiate churches, as canopied niches, gurgoils, and other fragments of ornate ecclesiastical architecture were scattered in an irre,plar manner throughout the rude masonry. When it was rebuilt, however, it was no doubt hemmed in with buildings as it remained till 1809, so that there was little inducement to erect anything more than a. substantial wall. Here, therefore, the architect found a fair field for the exercise of his genius, and the result is at any rate an improvement on what preceded it. The east end is also improved externally by the addition of buttressea, though at the sacrifice of ‘‘ our ladie’s niche ; ” and the new work preserves an exact fac-simile of the tracery of the great east window. On the north side of the choir the monument of the Napier family forms a conspicuous and interesting feature, though recent investigations by the late Professor Wallace are generally received as a confutation of the tradition that it marks the tomb of the illustrious Inventor of Logarithms.’ It is exceedingly probable that this monument indicates the site of St Salvator’s altar, to the chaplain of which Archibald Napier of Merchiston, in 1494, mortified an annual rent of twenty merks out of a tenement near the College Kirk of the Holy Trinity.’ The present graceful Crown Tower of St Giles’s, which forms so striking a feature not only of the church but of the town, dates no further back th& the year 1648, when it was rebuilt on the model of the older tower, which had then fallen iato decay. Of the four bells, which seem to have formed the whole complement of the belfry in early times, one, which bore the name of St May’s Bell, was taken down at the same time that St Giles’s arm bone was cast forth aa a relic of superstition, and ‘‘ with the brazen pillars in Archaeologia Scotica, vol. iv. p. 213 j where evidence is produced, derived from the writings of James Hume of Qodscroft, a contemporary of Napier, to show that he was buried in St Cuthbert’s Church. The question, however, s t i l l admits of doubt He remarks of the Inventor of Logarithms :-“ I1 mourut l’an 1616, et fut e n t e d hors la Porte Occidentale d‘Edinbourg, dans l’Eglise de Sainct Cudbert.” In this statement the wrong year is assigned for hb death, and other pasaages show that the author was at least personally unacquainted with the Scottish philosopher. The stone in St Qilea’s Church is, after all, the best evidence. But it is surmounted with the arms and crest of Merchiston, along with the Wrychtishousis shield. The recent biographer of Napier remarks (Mems. of Napier of Merchiston, by Mark Napier, Esq., p. 425), “ The stone has every appearance of being much older than the time of the philosopher.” To us, however, it appears quite in the style of that period, the best evidence of which is ita close resemblance to that of the rare title-page of the firat edition of the Logarithm4 published nt Edinburgh by Andrew Hart, A.D. 1614, a fac-simile of which adorns that interesting volume of biography. The close intimacy between the Napiers of Merchiston and Wrychtishousis had been cemented by an alliance in 1513. Its continuation in the time of the philosopher is shown by an application from his neighbour for a seat or d a k adjoining his in the Parish Church of St Cuthbert, $0 that their possession of a common place of sepulture at the period of his death is extremely probable. Add to this, the unvarying traditions among the descendants of Napier, as we are assured by his biographer, all pointing to the Collegiate Church of St Oiles as the burial-place of the philosopher, where his ancestors had founded a chantry, most probably above their own vault. Further evidence may yet be discovered on this subject. The late Rev. Principal Lee informed us, that he possessed an abstract of documents proving the use of the family vault in St Gilea’s Church at a later date than the death of the philosopher, which adds to the improbability of hia being buried elsewhere. Hume’s work, a Treatise‘on Trigonometry, was published at Paris in 1636. The inscription simply bears :--8 . E . P. FAM . DE NEPEROBUY INTEBIUS HI0 BITUY EST. Inventar of Piom Donations, M.S. Ad. Lib. 3 D
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