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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


OLD AND NEW EDINEURGH. [South Bridge. . . .~ 374 in 1765, and two ancient thoroughfares, the Wynds of Marlin and Peebles, with the east side of Niddry?s Wynd. In Queen Mary?s time the corn-market was removed from the corner of Marlin?s Wynd to the , east end of the Grass-market, where it continued to ? be held till the present century. This wynd led to the poultry-market, and ran south from the back of the Tron church to the Cowgate, and at the time of its demolition contained many book shops and stalls, the favourite lounge of all collectors of rare volumes, and had connected with it a curious legend, recorded by Maitland?s History in 1753. John Marlin, a Frenchman, is said to have been the first who was employed to pave or causeway the High Street, and was so vain of his work that, as a monument to bis memory, he requested to be buried under it,? and he was accordingly buried at the head of the wynd, which from that time took his name. The tradition was further supplemented by the fact that till the demolition of the wynd, a space in the pavement at that spot was always marked by six flat stones in the form of a grave. ?? According to more authentic information,? says Chambers, ?the High Street was first paved in 1532, by John and Bartoulme Foliot, who appear to have had nothing in common with this legendary Marlin, except country. The grave of at least Bartoulme Foliot is distinctly marked by a flat monument in the chapel royal at Holyrood.? The pavior?s name is perhaps not quite ? legendary? after all, as in the accounts of the Lord High Treasurer we have a sum stated as being paid to John Merlyoune,? in 1542, for building a Register House in the Castle of Edinburgh. The father of Sir William Stirling, Eart., who was Lord Provost of the city in 1792, and who had the merit of being the architect of his own fortunes, was a fishmonger at the head of the wynd, where his sign, a large clumsy wooden black bull, now preserved as a relic in the Museum of Antiquities, was long a conspicuous object as it projected over the narrow way. , It was at the head of Peebles Wynd, the adjoining thoroughfare, in 1598, that Robert Cathcart, who ten years before had been with Eothwell, when tlie latter slew Sir William Stewart in Blackfriars Wynd, was slain by the son of the latter, according to Birrel. During the demolitions for the projected bridge an ancient seal of block-tin was found, of which an engraving is given in the GenfZeman?s Mugaazine for 1788, which says: ? I t is supposed to .be the arms of Arnof and is a specimen of the ,seals used for writings, imprkions of which were directed to be given to the sheriffs? clerks of the different counties in Scotland in the time of Queen blary.? In digging the foundation of the central pier, which was no less than twenty-two feet deep, many coins of the three first English Edwards were found. The old buildings, which were removed to make room for this public work, were, according to Stark, purchased at a trifling cost, their value being fixed by the verdict of juries, while the areas on which they stood were sold by the city for the erection of new buildings on each side of the bridge for A30,ooo. ?It has been remarked,? he adds, ? that on this occasion the ground sold higher in Edinburgh than perhaps ever was known in any city, even in Rome, during its most flourishing times. Some of the areas sold at the rate of A96,ooo per statute acre ; others at AIO~,OOO per ditto; and some even so high as ~150,000 per acre.? The foundation stone of the bridge was laid on the 1st of August, 1785, by George Lord Haddo, Grand Master Mason of Scotland, attended by the brethren of all the lodges in town, and the magistrates and council in their robes, who walked in procession from the Parliament House, escorted by the soldiers of the City Guard-those grim old warriors, who, says Imd Cockburn, ? had muskets and bayonets, but rarely used them.? The bridge was carried on with uncommon dispatch, and was open for foot-passengers on the 19th of November, 1786, but only partially, for the author above quoted mentions that when he first went to the old High School, in 1787, he crossed the arches upon planks. In the following year it was open for carriages. It consists of nineteen arches. That over the Cowgate is thirty-one feet high by thirty wide; the others, namely, seven on the south and eleven on the north, are concealed by the buildings erected and forming it into a street. From the plan and section published by the magistrates at the time, it would appear that the descent from Nicolscrn Street is one foot in twenty-two to the south pier of the Cowgate arch ; and from thence on the north, the ascent to the High Street is one foot in twenty-eight. From the latter to the southern end, where the town wall stood, extends South Bridge Street, ?in length 1,075 feet by fifty-five wide,? says, Kincaid, ? including the pavement on each side.? The drst house built here was that numbered as I, forming the corner building at the junction with the High Street. It was erected by Mr. James Cooper, a jeweller, who resided in the upper flat, and died in ISIS. Except at the central arch, which spans the
Volume 2 Page 374
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