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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Merchiston. ? THE WARLOCK NAPIER.? 37 men, and others felL Of the queen?s men, only one lost his life by a shot from the battlements of Merchiston. When peace came the philosopher returned to his ancestral tower, and resumed his studies with great ardour, and its battlements became the observatory of the astrologer. Napier was supposed by the vulgar of his time to possess mysterious supernatural powers, and the marvels attributed to him, with the aid of a devilish familiar, in the shape of a jet-black cock, are preserved grain, he ihreatened to poind them, ?? Do so, if you can catch them,? said his neighbour; and next morning the fields were alive with reeling and fluttering pigeons, which were easily captured, from the effect of an intoxicating feed of saturated peas. The place called the D:o Park, in front of Merchiston, took its name from this event. The warlock of the tower, as he was deemed, seems to have entertained a perfect faith in the possession of a power to discover hidden treasure. Thus, there is still preserved among the Merchis- GILLESPIE?S HOSPITAL, FROM THE EAST. (From an Engrauing Sy R. &oft in the ?Scots Mugazilrc,? 1805.) among the traditions of the neighbourhood to the present day. He impressed all his people that this terrible chanticleer could detect their most secret doings. Having missed some valuables, he ordered his servants one by one into a dark room of the tower, where his favourite was confined, declaring that the cock would crow when stroked by the hand of the guilty, as each was required to do. The cock remained silent during this ceremony ; but the hands of oiie of the servants was found to be entirely free from the soot with which the feathers of the mysterious bird had been smeared. The story of how he bewitched certain pigeons is still remembered in the vicinity of Merchiston. Having been annoyed by some that ate up his ton papers a curious contract, dated July, 1594, between him and Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig -a Gowrie conspirator-which sets forth : ? Forasmuch as there were old reports and appearances that a sum of money was hid within Logan?s house of Fast Castle, John Napier should do his utmost diligence to work and seek out the same.? For his reward he was to have the third of what was found-by the use of a divining rod, we presume. ? This singular contract,? says Wilson, ?? acquires a peculiar interest when we remember the reported discovery of hidden treasure, with which the preliminary steps of the Gowrie conspiracy were effected.? In 1608 we find the inventor of logarithms appearing in a new light. In that year it was
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38 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [ hlorningside. reported to the Privy Council that he and the Napiers of Edinbellie, having quarrelled about the tiend sheaves of Merchiston, ? intended to convoa t e their kin, and sic as will do for them in arms: but to prevent a breach of the peace, William Napier of the Wrychtishousis, as a neutral person, was ordered by the Council to collect the sheaves in question. In 1614 he produced his book of logarithms, dedicated to Pripce Charles-a discovery which made his name famous all over Europe-and on the 3rd of April, 1617, he died in the ancient tower of Merchiston. His eldest son, Sir Archibald, was made a baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I., and in 1627 he was raised to the peerage as Lord Napier. His lady it was who contrived to have abstracted the heart of Montrose from the mutilated body of the great cavalier, as it lay buried in the place appointed for the interment of criminals, in an adjacent spot of the Burghmuir (the Tyburn of Edinburgh). Enclosed in a casket of steel, it was retained by the family, and underwent adventures so strange and remarkable that a volume would be required to describe them. Merchiston has been for years occupied as a large private school, but it still remains in possession of Lords Napier and Ettrick as the cradle of their old and honourable house. In 1880, during the formation of a new street on the ground north of Merchiston, a coffin fornied of rough stone slabs was discovered, within a few feet of the surface. It contained the remains of a fullgrown human being. Eastward of the castle, and within the park where for ages the old dovecot stood, is now built Christ?s Church, belohging to the Scottish Episcopalians. It was built in 1876-7, at a cost of about cf10,500, and opened in 1878. It is a beautifully detailed cruciforni edifice, designed by Mr. Hippolyte J. Blanc,in the early French-Gothic style, with a very elegant spire, 140 feet high. From the west gable to the chancel the nave measures eighty-two feet long and forty broad ; each transept measures twenty feet by thirty wide. The height of the church from the floor to the eaves is twenty feet; to the ridge of the roof fifty-three feet. The construction of the latter is of open timber work, with moulded arched ribs resting on ?? hammer beams,? which, in their turn, are supported upon red freestone shafts, with white freestone capitals and bases, boldly and beautifully moulded. The chancel presents the novel feature of a circumambient aisle, and was built at the sole expense of Miss Falconer of Falcon Hall, at a cost of upwards of L3,ooo. Opposite, within the lands of Greenhill, stands the Morningside Athenmm, which was originally erected, in 1863, as a United Presbyterian church, the congregation of which afterwards removed to a new church in the Chamberlain Road. North of the old villa of Grange Bank, and on the west side of the Burghmuir-head road, stands the Free Church, which was rebuilt in 1874, and is in the Early Pointed style, with a fine steeple, 140 feet high. The Established Church of the quoad sacra parish, disjoined from St. Cuthbert?s since 1835, stands at the south-west corner of the Grange Loan (then called in the ?maps, Church Lane), and was built about 1836, from designs by the late John Henderson, and is a neat little edifice, with a plain pointed spire. The old site of the famous Bore Stone was midway between this spot and the street now called Church Hill. In a house-No. r-here, the great and good Dr. Chalmers breathed his last. CHAPTER IV. DISTRICT OF THE BURGHMUIR (cuncZudPd). Morningside and Tipperlin-Provost Coulter?s Funeral-Asylum for the Insane-Sultana of the Crimea-Old Thorn Tree-The Braids of that Ilk-The Fairleys of Braid-Thr Plew Lands-Craiglockhart Hall and House-The Kincaids and other Proprietors--John Hill Burton The Old Tower-Meggathd and Redhall-White House Loan-The bwhite House-St. Margaret?s Convent-Bruntsfield House-The War. renders4reenhill and the Fairholmes-Memorials of the Chapel of St. Roqw-St. Giles?s Grange-The Dicks and Lauders-Grange Cemetery-Memorial Churches. SOUTHWARD of the quarter we. have been describing, stretches, nearly to the foot of the hills of Braid and Blackford, Morningside, once a secluded village, consisting of little more than a row of thatched cottages, a line of trees, and a blacksmith?s forge, from which it gradually grevt- to become an agreeable environ and summer resort of I the citizens, with the fame of being the ?Montpellier ?? of the east of Scotland, alluring invalids to its precincts for the benefit of its mild salubrious . air& around what was the old village, now man
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