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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


?-a --It OLD AND? NEW EDINBURGH. [High Street, Baron of the Exchequer Court in 1748, and grandson of James of Balumby, fourth Earl of Panmure, who fought with much heroic valour at the battle of Dunblane, and was attainted in 171s. The spacious stone mansion which he occupied at the foot of the close, and the north windows of which overlooked the steep slope towards the Trinity Church, and the then bare, bleak mass of the Calton Hill beyond, was afterwards acquired as an office and hall by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge and the Plantation of Schools in the Highlands ?for the rooting out of the errors of popery and converting of foreign nations,?? a mighty undertakiog, for which a charter was given it by Queen Anne in 1709. Thus the alley came to be called by its last name, Society Close. Such were the immediate surroundings of that old manse, in which John Knox received the messengers of his queen, the fierce nobles of her turbulent Court, and the Lords of the Congregation. It is to the credit of the Free Church of Scotland, which has long since acquired it as a piece of property, that the progress of decay has been arrested, and some traces of its old magnificence restored. A wonderfully picturesque building of three storeys above the ground floor, it abuts on the narrowed street, and is of substantial ashlar, terminating in curious gables and masses of chimneys. A long admonitory inscription, extending over nearly the whole front, carved on a stone belt, bears these words in bold Roman letters :-LUFE GOD. ABOVE. AL. AND. YOVR. NICHTBOUR . A S . YI SELF. Perched upon the corner above the entrance door is a small and hideous effigy of the Reformer preaching in a pulpit, and pointing with his right hand above his head towards a rude sculpture of the sun bursting out from amid clouds, with the name of the Deity inscribed in three languages on its disc, thus :- 8 E O Z D L U S G O D On the decoration of the efligy the pious care of successive generations of tenants has been expended with a zeal not always appreciated by people of taste. The house contains a hall, the stuccoed ceiling of which pertains to the time of Charles II., when perhaps the building was repaired. M?Crie, in his Life of Knox, tells us, that the latter, on commencing his duties in Edinburgh in 1559, when the struggles of the Reformation were well nigh over, was lodged in the house of David Forrest, a citizen, after which he removed permanently to the house previously occupied by the exiled abbot of Dunfermline. The magisS trates gave him a salary of Azoo Scots yearly, and in 1561 ordered the Dean of Guild to make him B warm study in the house built of ?? dailles ?-i.e., to be wainscoted or panelled. This is supposed to be the small projection, lighted by one long window, looking westward up the entire length of the High Street ; and adjoining it on the first floor is a window in an angle of the house, from which he is said to have held forth to the people in the street below, and which is still termed ? the preaching window.? In this house he doubtless composed the ?? Confession of Faith ? and the ? First Book of Discipline,? in which, at least, he had a principal haad, and which were duly ratified by Parliament j and it was during the first year of his abode in this house that he lost his first wife, Marjory Bowes (daughter of an English border family), whom he had married when an exile, a woman of amiable disposition and pious deportment, but whose portrait at Streatlam Castle, Northumberland, is remarkable chiefly for its intense ugliness. She was with him in all his wanderings at home and abroad, and regarding her John Calvin thus expresses himself in a letter to the widower:- ?? Uxu~em nactus uas cui non rgeriuntur passim siivziZes?--?you had a wife the like of whom is not anywhere to be found.? By her he had two sons. Four years after her death, to this mansion, when in his fifty-ninth year, he brought his second Wife, Margaret Stewart, the youngest daughter of Andrew, ?the good? Lord Ochiltree, who, after his death, mamed Sir Andrew Kerr of Faudonside. By his enemies it was now openly alleged that he must have gained the young girl?s affections by the black art and the aid of the devil, whom he raised for that purpose in the yard behind his house. In that curious work entitled ?? The Disputation concerning the Controversit Headdis of Religion,? Nicol Bume, the author, relates that KIIOX, on the occasion of his marriage, went to the Lord Ochiltree with many attendants, ?on a.ne trim gelding, nocht lyk ane prophet or ane auld decrepit priest as he was, bot lyk as had been ane of the Elude Royal, with his bands of taffettie feschnit With golden ringis and precious stones ; and, as is plainlie reportit in the countrey, be sorcerie and witchcraft did sua allure that puu gentilwoman, that scho could not leve without him? Another of Knox?s traducers asserts, that not long after his marriage, ?she (his wife) lying in bed and perceiving a blak, uglie ill-favoured man (the devil, of course) busily talking with him in the+
Volume 2 Page 214
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