Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 597
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 429 THE CITY GUARD-HOUSE. CORPORAL JOHN DHU. THIS dingy, mean-looking edifice, built for the accommodation of the City- Guard, probably towards the close of the seventeenth, or beginning of the last century, was situated in the High Street, opposite the shop now occupied by Mr. Ritchie, stationer, about two hundred yards east of the Cross.’ It was a slated building, one storey in height, and consisted of four apartments. On the west and south-west corner was the Captain’s Room; and adjoining, on the north, was a place for prisoners,‘ called the Burghers’ Room.” In the centre was the common hall; and, on the east, the apartment devoted to the city chimney-sweepers, who were called “ tron men ”-two figures of whom will be observed in the engraving. The extreme length of the structure, from east to west, was seventy feet, and the breadth forty over the walls. The floor, with the exception of the Captain’s Room, was composed of flags, under which was a vaulted cell, called the “ Black Hole,” where coals for the use of the Guard-House were kept, and into which refractory prisoners were put. The wooden mare at the west end of the building was placed there for the purpose of punishing such soldiers as might be found guilty of misdemeanours. The delinquent, with a gun tied to each foot, was mounted for a certain period proportioned to the extent of his offence, and exposed to the gaze and derision of the populace, who sometimes were not idle spectators of the exhibition. The figure bestriding the “ wooden mare ” is merely intended to represent the nature of the punishment. Over the half-door of the Guard-House will be distinguished the well-known JOHND HU. John, who was a corporal of the Guard, is here in the position which he daily occupied, ready to receive, with a “ Highland curse,’’ whoeirer was unfortunate enough to be committed to his surveillance. The rank of the offender made no difference-rich and poor met with the same reception. A chronicle of the beaux and helles who found a night’s shelter within its walls would no doubt be gratifying to the lovers of antiquated scandal. The old Market-Cross, removed in 1756, when the Royal Exchange was finished, was an octagonal building of sixteen feet diameter, and about fifteen feet high. At each angle was an Ionic pillar, from the top of which a species of Gothic bastion projected ; and between the columns were modern arches. Besides the town’s arms, the edifice wm omamented with various devices; and from the platform rose a column, consisting of one stone, upwards of twenty feet high, and of eighteen inches diameter, spangled with thistles, and adorned with a Corinthian capital, upon the top of which was a unicorn. It was rebuilt in 1617 ; and the column, or obelisk, which had previonaly existed beyond the memory of man, was carefully presemed and re-erected within the railing of the High Church. At what period the Cross was originally erected ia not known.
Volume 8 Page 598
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