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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


420 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. own name to the burgh, where he possessed a stronghold presenting such great natural advantages as were likely to tempt his frequent residence within its walls. Edwin, who was the ablest and most powerful among the sovereigns of Britain in his time, lost his kingdom and his life at the Battle of Hatfield, on the 12th of October 633. From that date, the Castle and town of Edinburgh may be considered as occupying some degree of prominence among the towns of the ancient kingdom, and thenceforward we are able to glean occasional authentic notices of it from our older chroniclers. The reign of Edwin is chiefly memorable for the introduction of Christianity into the kingdom of Northumbria, and probably no long time elapsed thereafter before some humble Christian fme was reared in Edinburgh, to supersede by its worship the heathen rites for which the summit of Arthur’s Seat, or of some other of the neighbouring hills, may have been set apart as the most appropriate temple. Glancing back thus over an interval of twelve centuries, the familiar scenes that surround us acquire a new aspect, and become pregnant with a deeper meaning than the mere beauty of the landscape, or the unrivalled grandeur of the old city that occupies its heights, can convey to the tasteful observer. History becomes a living drama, instead of a mere bundle of dusty parchments ; and the actors, who pass away in succession with its many changing scenes, appear once more before us what they really were, men of like passions with ourselves. With this feeling we have attempted to recover the fading traces of the more ancient antiquities of the Scottish capital, and to preserve an authentic record of those of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which are fast passing away, like their predecessors, beyond recall, notwithstanding the promise of durability which the substantial masonry of that period seems to offer. 6L The walles,” says Taylor the Water Poet, in his Penny- Zesse PiZgrimage, ‘‘ are eight or tenne foot thicke, exceeding strong, not built for a day, a weeke, or a moneth, or a yeere, but from Antiquitie to Posteritie, for many Ages.” Posteritie, however, finds little that suits its changed tastes and habits in these ‘( goodlie houses,” and is busy replacing them with structures more adapted to modern wants ; but the very fact of their having thus become obsolete confers on them a new value, as monuments of a period and state of society altogether different from our own. This it is that gives to the pursuits of the antiquary their true value. These relics of the past, however insignificant they may appear in themselves, assume a very different claim on our interest when thus regarded as the memorials of our national history, or the key to the manners and the habits of our forefathers. As such they acquire it worth which no mere lapse of time could confer ; nor have our forefathers played so mean a part in the history of nations that their memorials should possess an interest only to ourselves. ’
Volume 10 Page 460
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Volume 10 Page 461
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