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List of Illustrations
Index: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W.

(etext transcriber's note)


EDINBURGH FROM CALTON HILL West from the Hill shows the picturesque and irregular mass of the Castle, immediately behind the classic monument to Dugald Stewart, which occupies the foreground of the picture. On the right of the monument and the south side of Princes Street appear in succession the tower of the North British Railway Hotel, and the monument to Sir Walter Scott. On the left of the picture is seen part of the Old Town, with the Imperial Crown of St. Giles’s, the spire of the Tolbooth Church, and the dome of the Bank of Scotland, forming a well-assorted trio. Under these, and over the railway, stretches the North Bridge; below lies the Calton Old burial-ground, with its obelisk. In the near foreground of the picture is a rustic stone seat much used by weary sightseers.


West from the Hill shows the picturesque and irregular mass of the Castle, immediately behind the classic monument to Dugald Stewart, which occupies the foreground of the picture. On the right of the monument and the south side of Princes Street appear in succession the tower of the North British Railway Hotel, and the monument to Sir Walter Scott. On the left of the picture is seen part of the Old Town, with the Imperial Crown of St. Giles’s, the spire of the Tolbooth Church, and the dome of the Bank of Scotland, forming a well-assorted trio. Under these, and over the railway, stretches the North Bridge; below lies the Calton Old burial-ground, with its obelisk. In the near foreground of the picture is a rustic stone seat much used by weary sightseers.








Edinburgh Castle: Its Legends and Romances 1
Holyrood: The Palace and the Abbey 22
(The Six Royal Jameses; Mary, Queen of Scots; and Prince Charlie)
The Church of St. Giles 45
(Gavin Douglas; John Knox; and Jenny Geddes)
Stories of the Closes, the Wynds, and the Lands 62
Some Notable Inhabitants, and their Dwellings 83
Some Famous Visitors, and their Comments 102
The Building of the New Town: A Stampede for Fresh Air 119
The Edinburgh of Sir Walter Scott and his Circle 129
Social Edinburgh of Yesterday 147
The Homes and Haunts of Robert Louis Stevenson 156
Edinburgh To-day and To-morrow 163

***On page 88, line 2, for James III. read James V.

List of Illustrations

1. Edinburgh from Calton Hill Frontispiece
2. The Castle from the Esplanade 8
3. The Castle from the Terrace of Heriot’s Hospital 16
4. Edinburgh from the Castle 22
5. Holyrood Palace from the Public Gardens under Calton Hill 30
6. The Apartments of Mary Queen of Scots in Holyrood Palace 40
7. St. Giles’s Cathedral from the Lawnmarket 46
8. St. Giles’s Cathedral from the Courts 54
9. John Knox’s House, High Street 62
10. Lady Stair’s Close 70
11. The Canongate Tolbooth, looking West 80
12. North Front of George Heriot’s Hospital 84
13. Quadrangle of George Heriot’s Hospital 90
14. The Martyrs’ Monument in the Graveyard, Greyfriars’ 96
15. Old Houses in Canongate 108
16. Princes Street from the Steps of the New Club 120
17. The High School and Burns’s Monument from Jeffrey Street 130
18. Sir Walter Scott’s Monument from the East Princes Street Gardens 154
19. Arthur’s Seat from the Braid Hills 160
20. The Water of Leith from Dean Bridge 162
21. The National Monument on Calton Hill 166

The Illustrations in this volume were engraved in England by the
Hentschel Colourtype Process.







There, watching high the least alarms,
Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar;
Like some bold veteran, gray in arms,
And marked with many a scamy scar;
The ponderous wall and massy bar,
Grim rising o’er the rugged rock,
Have oft withstood assailing war,
And oft repelled the invader’s shock.

THE great line of east coast lying between the two headlands of Norfolk and Aberdeenshire is nowhere broken by another so bold and graceful indentation as that of the Firth of Forth. The Forth has its birth among hills that look down on Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond; flows thence in a pretty tortuous course towards the east, forming a boundary-line between the countries of the Gael and the Sassenach; is replenished by the Teith from the Trossachs and by the Allan from Strathmore; meanders at the foot of Stirling Castle, and seems never to weary of weaving its silver windings into that green expanse of country where most the{4} Scottish imagination loves to linger; until at last, when there is poured into it the Devon from the Ochils, its channel widens to the sea somewhat suddenly. But even here the diverging banks, once so near, show an occasional friendly inclination to meet; and at one point there is only a mile of blue water and white waves between them, and then the view widens and the shores part irrevocably, the one stretching away to the extreme “east neuk” of Fife, and looking

To Norroway, to Norroway,
To Norroway ower the faem!

and the other rolling with softer curves to the South and England, while the great German Ocean ebbs and flows between.

The point where the banks of the Forth are but a mile apart is now spanned by that triumph of engineering, the Forth Bridge,—the largest bridge in the world; but in olden days there was here a famous crossing, and the names of the villages on the opposite banks, North Queensferry and South Queensferry, still carry the mind back to the days when Malcolm Canmore’s stately Saxon Queen, Saint Margaret of Scotland, was ferried across here on her way between the palace of Dunfermline and the Castle of Edinburgh. Edinburgh was not then, nor for centuries after, the Capital of Scotland, but merely a useful stronghold near the Borders,—a great rock rising abruptly among woods and lochs and hills, on which, from before the earliest legends of history, a fortress had stood,—an{5} impregnable castle, built so long ago that none knows its origin, nor even the origin of its name. Stow’s Chronicle, indeed, dates the foundation of the “Castell of Maydens” 989 B.C., which is a sensational date to mention lightly to the inquiring tourist from the newer world. It is supposed that the name “Castell of Maydens” was gained because, in legendary days, certain Pictish princesses were kept there for safety; and certainly, from those hazy times right on till the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, when she was sent to the Castle for security before the birth of King James, Edinburgh Castle has always been a useful place of safety to which to send royalties and rebels.

The earliest authentic romance of Edinburgh Castle is that of Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret; and the oldest building extant in Edinburgh is Queen Margaret’s chapel in the Castle.

The well-known story of Queen Margaret, the grand-niece of Edward the Confessor, is that she and her brother Edgar Atheling and her sister Christian all fled from England and William the Conqueror, and were wrecked in the Firth of Forth. The King of Scotland, Malcolm Canmore, was the son of that Duncan whom Macbeth put out of the way—in Scottish history as well as in Shakespeare’s play,—and he had fled from the usurper, and had spent his years of exile at the Saxon Court of Edward the Confessor.

The son of Duncan
From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth{6}
Lives in the English court; and is received
Of the most pious Edward with such grace
That the malevolence of fortune nothing
Takes from his high respect.

Little wonder that he received the Saxon exiled royal family hospitably. He was a widower, and much older than the Princess Margaret, and a warrior-prince; and he married her at Dunfermline. It all reads like an old-fashioned fairy story,—the Queen, lovely and pious, washing the feet of the poor, founding abbeys and endowing the Church, and filling the Scottish Court with luxury of gold plate and rich raiment, and the pomp of royal guards: the King, brave, warlike, and unlearned, kissing his wife’s missals he was unable to read, and sending for his goldsmith to bind one of them in vellum incased in gold and set with jewels, and then hurrying off to the wars with England, and bringing back English captives to serve as slaves in Scottish homes. The fairy story ends as romantically as it began, for the last chapter tells of the winter days when King Malcolm and his two eldest sons were laying siege to Alnwick Castle to revenge a Scottish garrison, and Queen Margaret, dangerously ill, watched and waited with her group of younger children and her Confessor, Bishop Turgot, at Edinburgh Castle. Bitterly cold it must have been in the Castle, where the bleak wind would howl at night, and the snow melt as it fell on the rough masonry jutting out of the rougher rock. Below, the leafless winter woods skirted wild morasses and lochs, and stretched over hill and dale to the line{7} of sea—that sea where the Queen had been wrecked nearly a quarter of a century before, and which she had crossed so often by ferry. But, in spite of cold and suffering, the ascetic Queen spent her time in the little stone oratory in prayer and vigil for her absent lord. On the fourth day Prince Edgar, the second son, returned, and told his dying mother that her husband and her firstborn son had both been killed. Queen Margaret, with words of prayer and resignation, died almost immediately after hearing the news. This was on the 16th of November 1093. Hardly had Bishop Turgot and the royal orphans closed the mother’s eyes before they were roused by new troubles. They looked down over the fortress walls and saw the Castle hill surrounded by what must have seemed to them a horde of howling savages,—men dressed in the skins of deer, with “hauberks of jingling rings.” These were the Highlanders from the Hebrides, whither Donald Bane, Malcolm’s younger brother, had fled when Malcolm had gone to England. The Hebrides and the Saxon Court had educated the two brothers somewhat differently; and now, after long years, Donald Bane had come hopefully and cheerfully forth to kill his nephews and make himself King. But not in vain had Queen Margaret lived the life of a saint. Up from the Firth of Forth on that November day in 1093 there came a crawling white mist, creeping over the woods and morasses, covering the hills, leaving white density in its trail, till it blotted the whole Castle out of sight of the enemy below. And who are these{8} figures that come stealing out of the western postern into the white woolly mist? And what is the burden they bear so reverently? These are the royal orphan children and the faithful Confessor, Bishop Turgot; and the burden is the dead queen in her coffin. Safely down the precipitous rock, step by step, they carry it,—awe-stricken by the miraculous mist sent by Heaven to help them. Heaven sends many such mists from the Forth into Edinburgh. It sent another to greet Mary, Queen of Scots, when she first landed from France; but then it was not by a Catholic Confessor called a miracle, but by a Presbyterian Reformer an omen. Nowadays they are called “easterly haars.”

And so Queen Margaret made her last journey from Edinburgh Castle across the Forth by ferry to Dunfermline, to the Abbey she had built, where, a century and a half later, silver lamps were kindled on her tomb, for she had been canonised by Pope Innocent IV. Of the group of children who helped to carry their mother’s coffin down through the mist that day, four of the five sons were Kings of Scotland in their turn, and one of the two daughters became a Queen of England.

The Castle was always a safe royal residence; and, though the Scottish Kings had palaces and castles elsewhere, they all lived from time to time in this Castle of Edinburgh. Also, because of its impregnable strength, it was used as a place of safety in which to stow away such things as monks and nuns, political{9}

EDINBURGH CASTLE FROM THE ESPLANADE Immediately beneath the Half-Moon Battery is the entrance to the Castle. To the extreme right of the picture on the north side of the Esplanade shows a bronze statue of the Duke of York, whilst the Celtic cross in its foreground was erected to the memory of the 78th Highlanders, behind which is the Forewall Battery. Men of the Black Watch in khaki occupy the south side of the Esplanade, with a drummer in the foreground.


Immediately beneath the Half-Moon Battery is the entrance to the Castle. To the extreme right of the picture on the north side of the Esplanade shows a bronze statue of the Duke of York, whilst the Celtic cross in its foreground was erected to the memory of the 78th Highlanders, behind which is the Forewall Battery. Men of the Black Watch in khaki occupy the south side of the Esplanade, with a drummer in the foreground.

prisoners, royal brides-elect, young widowed queens, and the coveted persons of infant princes. Scottish sovereigns, especially in the Stuart days, seldom died peaceful deaths; and so there were generally left a youthful queen-widow and a little crowned boy chafing under a long minority in the Castle. Weary days must all these semi-prisoners have spent there, looking out over wooded and hilly country to the Forth.

One such fretted treasure kept in the Castle was Margaret, the daughter of Henry III. of England, when she was betrothed to Alexander III. The King was only ten years old when he married her at York; so the little Queen could not have been very aged, and she complained in letters to her father of the sad and solitary place she was kept in, and that it was “without verdure,” and, “by reason of its vicinity to the sea, unwholesome.”

In the days of Wallace, and of Bruce and Balliol, Edinburgh Castle was the scene of many a fight and many a siege. Edward I. of England, whose name must ever be a black one in Scotland, garrisoned the Castle with English soldiers and took away all the documents of national interest to the Tower of London; and he also stole Queen Margaret’s Black Rood of Scotland; and it was in Queen Margaret’s own little oratory that he received the enforced oaths of fealty from a small band of five Scottish clergy, among them the Abbot of Holyrood, and a Prioress. Sir William Wallace recaptured the Castle, and the English took it again;{10} and then comes a romantic incident of the days of Bruce. The Bruce had entrusted the retaking of Edinburgh Castle to Sir Thomas Randolph of Strathdon. Among Randolph’s soldiers was one named Frank, who, long before this, when he had been stationed at the Castle, had found out a way of getting up and down the Castle Rock in order to visit a sweetheart who lived in the town below. Frank undertook to lead a small body of men up the perilous path he had so often traversed alone. Randolph consented; and, one dark and stormy night in March 1314,—March has ever been a fateful month in Scottish history,—when the howling wind and lashing rain would help to cover the sounds of stealthy climbing, thirty men crept after Frank up the precipitous cliffs, the walls were silently scaled, the English garrison was overpowered, and Edinburgh Castle was once more in the hands of Scots. Randolph, to prevent further fighting, dismantled the whole place; and for twenty-four years the proud old fortress stood silent and deserted,—neither clash of arms nor call of bugle, neither shout of command nor shriek of dying,—only the rain and the sunshine, day after day, high above the city. But this was not to last; and, after all the English garrisons had been driven out, Edinburgh became the favourite residence of David II., the Castle was refortified, and “David’s Tower” built, in which King David II., the last of the Bruce line, died. Since then, no king has died in Edinburgh,—though in Edinburgh many a king has been born and many a king has been married.{11}

When Henry IV. of England besieged the Castle, the young Duke of Rothesay, eldest son of Robert III., was in command,—that gallant and fascinating and profligate prince who was afterwards, tradition and Sir Walter both aver, starved to death at Falkland. From the Castle he looked down on the hated English hosts, and the story is that he sent a challenge to Henry to meet him in mortal combat, with a hundred men of good blood on either side. Although it was the month of August, the invaders had been troubled with excessive rain and cold. The climate of Edinburgh had risen to the occasion; and the chilly Plantagenet on the plain sent a verbal message to the hot Stuart on the height, and hurried home amid dripping banners and rusty lances.

The first of the royal Stuart widows who watched over a baby king in the Castle was Queen Jane,—that gentle consort of the poet King James I., who had seen her first from the window of his English prison, as she walked in the gardens of Windsor.

And therewith cast I down mine eyes again
Where as I saw, walking under the Tower
Full secretly, new comen her to playn,
The fairest and the freshest youngé flower
That ever I saw, methought, before that hour:
For which sudden abate anon astart
The blood of all my body to my heart....

King James had married Jane Beaufort in London at St. Mary Overie,[1] and had brought her back to{12} Scotland with him as his Queen. Thirteen years later he was assassinated in her presence at Perth. It was to Edinburgh Castle that she fled with her little son for safety after the tragedy. But “Fair and false and fickle is the South”; and, less than a year after the murder of the poet King, his “fairest and freshest youngé flower” married Sir John Stuart, the Black Knight of Lorn, and so passed out of view, leaving her little son to be wrangled over by the great rival barons of Scotland.

And now there took place in the Castle one of the most tragic scenes ever enacted there,—the “Black Dinner.” The old Earl of Douglas, head of the great house of Douglas—ever in the history of Scotland struggling for supremacy with the royal house of Stuart—died, and was succeeded by his son, a youth of seventeen. When the young earl surpassed the King in the splendour of his state, and rode out with a retinue of two thousand lances, and sent ambassadors to the Court of France, the ten-year-old King “admired his bold and haughty ways”; but the King’s guardians thought it time to interfere. On the 24th of November 1440 the Earl of Douglas and his only brother and their old adviser, Sir Malcolm Fleming of Cumbernauld, were invited to a banquet at Edinburgh Castle, and their retinue were excluded. Whilst they feasted with the boy King and the Court, suddenly a black bull’s head was set before them. The warlike young Douglases instantly recognised and understood the ancient Scottish symbol of the death-doom, and sprang up, drawing{13} their swords, but were overpowered by armed men, the poor little King being powerless to save them. After a form of trial for treason, the two brothers and Sir Malcolm Fleming were executed on the Castle Hill.

Edinburgh Castle, towne and toure,
God grant thou sink for sinne!
And that even for the black dinoir
Erl Douglas gat therin.

Another story of the Castle is that of the escape of the Duke of Albany, the brother of James III. Albany, imprisoned in the Castle on suspicion of treason, was to die next day. But Albany was twenty years old and full of life and daring; he had a faithful “chalmer chield”[2] in the Castle with him, and he had a strong castle at Dunbar, and knew he would be safe could he reach it. What more was needed? Just what was brought to him concealed within two flasks of French wine—a rope, and an unsigned message that a vessel lay awaiting him in the roads of Leith. The Captain of the Guard and three soldiers were invited to taste the French wine, and “the fire was hett and the wine was strong.” At a late hour Albany “lap from the board and stak the captain with ain whinger.” The drunken soldiers were then despatched, and Albany stole out and knotted the rope over two hundred feet of jagged cliff. The Groom of the Chamber went down first; but the rope was too short, and he fell. The young Duke returned from the cool night air to{14} the hot scene of the butchery, and brought sheets to lengthen the rope. When he reached the bottom of the Castle Rock, this young Stuart who had just killed four men, and who was doomed to death next day, would not forsake a “chalmer chield” with a broken thigh-bone, but carried him on his shoulder the two perilous miles to Leith and safety.

And there to-day stands the Castle, so grim and old and full of memories; but down that northern cliff dangles no rope, and the two miles between the Castle and Leith are two miles of busy, crowded streets.

A few years later, James III. was himself a prisoner in the Castle; and, by a strange irony of fate, it was this same brother, the Duke of Albany, who helped him to escape,—not in the same picturesque fashion he had adopted in his own case, for this time it was the provost and citizens who assisted in place of one “chalmer chield.” For their loyalty, the provost was rewarded with the “Golden Charter,” giving the city magistrates right of Sheriffdom within burgh, and the citizens received their “Banner of Blue,” embroidered by the Queen and her women.

But not all the Castle prisoners had the luck to escape; and some of the memories of the Castle are of dark and dreadful tragedies. Numberless wretches must have languished, their miseries and tortures unknown and unrecorded, in dungeons cut out of the rock, or in noisome dens and cells. The fates of some of those of higher rank are matters of history. It was on the Castle Hill, in the reign of James V., that the{15} beautiful Lady Glammis, on an accusation of treason too readily believed against a Douglas,[3] was burnt alive at the stake in sight of her husband and her little son, Lord Glammis, who were imprisoned in the Castle. The husband, mad with grief and horror, tried to escape during the night that followed, and was dashed to pieces on the cliffs.

The Castle is associated with the name of Mary, Queen of Scots, as closely as with that of Saint Margaret,—two Queens so very different, and yet both Queens of Scotland, and each the mother of a race of Kings. The tourist, when he passes from the dark little Oratory into the room in which James VI. was born, steps across the centuries from the beginning of Scottish history to the close of Scottish history.

It was amid all the unhappiness of Queen Mary’s life and the troubles of her reign, shortly after the brutal scene of Riccio’s murder in her presence, that the Queen was advised, by the Lords of Council, to remain in the Castle until after the birth of her child. Here, then, in the palace of the Castle, can still be seen the tiny, irregularly shaped chamber, scarcely nine feet square, in which King James VI. of Scotland and I. of England was born. And here, from the one small window overlooking the Grassmarket, tradition says that the new-born infant was lowered in a basket to the Catholic friends waiting for him below.

In the days of the last Stuarts, the two Argyles,{16} father and son, were both prisoners in the Castle before their executions; and, after the Stuart dynasty had fallen, the Jacobites often felt the hospitality of Edinburgh Castle. The better class in Edinburgh were very Jacobite in their leanings and sympathies,—Jacobite almost to a man, certainly to a woman. In George I.’s reign many a loyal Scot suffered torture, imprisonment, and death in the Castle; and women of gentle birth were among the Jacobites who endured barbarous treatment for their loyalty to the fallen race.

With every century the outward aspect of the Castle has changed, so that its jagged outline to-day, blotted against the sunset sky, is utterly different from what dwellers in Edinburgh of any other century would have known. But still, looking up at the perpendicular cliffs of the Castle Rock and the strong walls and towers and fortifications that seem part of them, one can picture all those stirring scenes,—the imprisoned “maydens” of dim, legendary days; Queen Margaret and the escape through the miraculous mist; the many sieges; the starving patriotic garrisons; the prisoners in their dungeons; the wild escapes ending in liberty or in death; the brilliant scenes during the reign of James IV., that royal “knight errant,” who sat amid his knights and ladies to watch the tournaments below the Castle walls, and presented a lance tipt with pure Scottish gold to the winner.

Within the Castle much remains. Queen Margaret’s chapel is the oldest bit; but there are also the palace{17}

THE CASTLE FROM THE TERRACE OF HERIOT’S HOSPITAL The opening in the terrace on the left of the picture shows a staircase descending to the playground of the school. Most of the Castle is seen, including the Half-Moon Battery, and part of the south retaining wall of the Esplanade. A figure in a master’s gown occupies the foreground.


The opening in the terrace on the left of the picture shows a staircase descending to the playground of the school. Most of the Castle is seen, including the Half-Moon Battery, and part of the south retaining wall of the Esplanade. A figure in a master’s gown occupies the foreground.

and the great hall. This great hall was used for all State ceremonials, banquets, and gatherings. It was here, in all likelihood, that Alexander III. held that Council in the Castle on that stormy day in March 1286 before he took horse and rode through the darkness and storm towards Kinghorn, where the bride he had married a few months before awaited him,—rode till, close to his journey’s end, his horse stumbled—a stumble that cost Scotland dear, for it plunged her into two and a half centuries of incessant war.

Quhen Alysander oure Kyng wes dede
That Scotland led in luve and lé
Away wes sons off ale and brede
Off wyne and wax, off gamyn and glé;
Our gold wes changed in to lede,
Cryst, born in to Vyrgynyté,
Succoure Scotland and remede
That stad is in perplexyté.

It was in the great hall of the Castle that the treacherous “Black Dinner” was held in James II.’s minority. It was in the great hall that many of the Scottish Parliaments met, for they were always held wherever the King happened to be at the moment, and the King often happened to be in Edinburgh Castle. Here, then, gathered all those grave or stormy Parliaments of Scottish nobles, presided over by a gallant Stuart. Here they discussed the affairs of the brave and troubled kingdom; here they doomed men to death or exile; here they planned wars with the “auld enemy”; here they passed those laws which were “good laws, had they been kept.”{18}

It was in this great hall that Charles I. sat, surrounded by Scottish and English nobles, on a June evening in 1633, at a great banquet given by the Earl of Mar in his honour, the day before he was crowned at Holyrood. It was here that, a few years later, Alexander Leslie, the Covenanting General, gave a banquet to Cromwell and the Covenanting lords, whilst a blue banner waved above them bearing the angry legend, “For an Oppressed Kirk and a Broken Covenant.”

There is another room in the Castle, a smaller room, in which tangible symbols of the days of Scottish independence can be seen. There, under a vaulted roof, on a table covered with glass and set within an iron cage, are the Scottish Regalia. The dim light reveals the rubies and sapphires and diamonds and the big pearls set in the ancient golden diadem of the crown, of date unknown, but which must have rested on the head of the Bruce and have been worn by each of the Stuarts. It was James V., the “Red Tod,” who added to the old diadem the two arches of gold, surmounted by globe and cross; and it was in 1685 that, the former cap of purple having become faded and threadbare during the concealment of the Regalia in the Civil War times, the rather theatrical tiara of crimson velvet, ermine, and pearls was substituted. This is the crown worn by the hapless Mary, Queen of Scots, and that crowned her infant son, James VI., after her forced abdication. This is the crown that was set on the head of Charles I. at Holyrood; and this is what was so pointedly alluded to by the preacher as “a tottering{19} crown,” the last time it was ever worn by a king of Scotland—when Charles II. was crowned and scolded and lectured at Scone. “The Presbyterian solemnity with which it was given to Charles II.,” says Mr. Robert Chambers,[4] “was only a preface to the disasters of Worcester; and, afterwards, it was remembered by this monarch, little to the advantage of Scotland, that it had been placed upon his head with conditions and restrictions which wounded at once his pride and his conscience.”

By the side of the cushion on which the crown rests lies the slender chased sceptre, three little statues on the top—the Virgin, St. Andrew, and St. James—surmounted by a crystal globe. This sceptre, in the hands of the Chancellor of Scotland, has touched each of the acts of the Scottish Parliaments, in token of royal assent. The mace has also a crystal globe, said to have decorated a still more ancient Scottish sceptre. A crystal or beryl of this kind, called in Gaelic “Clach-Buaidh” (stone of victory), tradition avers to have been the badge of the Arch Druid. Its position on the mace and sceptre is, therefore, a symbolic emblem of dateless antiquity. The rich Italian sword of State was a gift from Pope Julius II. to James IV. in 1507. “Taking these articles in connection with the great historical events and personages that enter into the composition of their present value,” writes Mr. Robert Chambers,[5] “it is impossible to look upon them without{20} emotions of singular interest; while at the same time their essential littleness excites wonder at the mighty circumstances and destinies which have been determined by the possession, or the want of possession, of what they emblematise and represent.”

One other romance of the Castle remains to tell—a stout and tangible romance—“the great iron murderer, Muckle Mag,” as Cromwell’s list has it. Mons Meg is thirteen feet long, and weighs four thousand stones. She is the most ancient cannon but one in Europe, and she is a travelled cannon. She accompanied James IV. in 1497 to the siege of Norham (James IV. was fond of ordnance, and forged the “seven sisters of Borthwick” lost at Flodden), and in the Lord High Treasurer’s accounts of her travelling expenses on this occasion she is spoken of with an easy familiarity—

Item, to the menstralis that playit befoir
    Mons down the gait
Item, giffen for VIIj of cammas, to be
    Mons a clath to covir hir
IXs. IIIjd.
Item, for ijc spikin nalis, to turs with

In 1758 she laboriously journeyed as far as England under the mistaken impression that she had become unserviceable, and there for seventy-five years formed one of the sights shown in the Tower of London. In 1829 Sir Walter Scott personally insisted on the return home of what was so dear to the national pride, and the portly prodigal was met at Leith by three troops of{21} cavalry and the 73rd Regiment, and escorted back to the Castle in triumph to the tune of the pipes. With seven huge stone cannon-balls lying beside her, “after life’s fitful fever” she stands on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle and looks across the new city to the Forth.{22}




The moon passed out of Holyrood, white-lipped, to open sky;
The night wind whimpered on the Crags to see the ghosts go by;
And stately, silent, sorrowful, the lonely lion lay,
Gaunt shoulder to the Capital and blind eyes to the Bay.
Will H. Ogilvie.

THERE are two Holyroods—Holyrood Abbey, dating back to the twelfth century, and founded by David I.; and Holyrood House, the palace of the Stuarts, dating from fully three centuries later. The Abbey had always contained royal apartments, and had been a place of royal residence in turn with the Castle; and so it was natural that the tradition should be retained, and the royal palace built in connection with the splendid old Abbey. Of the once great and wealthy Abbey of Holyrood only a ruined fragment remains, open to the sky; and of the palace only part of the large sixteenth-century royal residence remains, included in a smaller seventeenth-century building.{23}

EDINBURGH FROM THE CASTLE In the foreground of the picture are the embrasured battlements of the Argyle Battery, at the end of which, over the steps, rises the spire of Tolbooth Church. On a lower level of the Castle, to the spectator’s left, is an iron cage used for beacons. Above this cage and facing the Mound are the Royal Institution and National Gallery, and immediately above the latter is the Scott Monument. The row of trees fronting the tall buildings denote the position of Princes Street running east towards Calton Hill, which appears crowned by the Nelson Monument and backed by the Firth of Forth exactly in the centre of the picture. To the right of Calton Hill on the distant horizon appears the Bass Rock, to the left the coast of Fife with a portion of the island of Inchkeith.


In the foreground of the picture are the embrasured battlements of the Argyle Battery, at the end of which, over the steps, rises the spire of Tolbooth Church. On a lower level of the Castle, to the spectator’s left, is an iron cage used for beacons. Above this cage and facing the Mound are the Royal Institution and National Gallery, and immediately above the latter is the Scott Monument. The row of trees fronting the tall buildings denote the position of Princes Street running east towards Calton Hill, which appears crowned by the Nelson Monument and backed by the Firth of Forth exactly in the centre of the picture. To the right of Calton Hill on the distant horizon appears the Bass Rock, to the left the coast of Fife with a portion of the island of Inchkeith.

When Edinburgh was only a castle rising out of woods and morasses, with a cluster of wooden, thatched huts below it, all the land lying between the Castle and Arthur’s Seat was part of the unhewn forest of Drumsheugh; and there, where the red elk and the Caledonian boar roamed under primeval oaks, the pious Celtic kings of Scotland were wont to take their pleasure in the chase. David, the last of Malcolm’s five sons who reigned, rode out from the Castle one day, followed by his courtiers, to go a-hunting—this in spite of the protests of his confessor, for it was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and a day rather for vigil than for sport. Good fortune could not attend the King in so rebellious a mood. He became separated from the “noys and dyn of bugillis” of the royal hunt, and suddenly found himself alone and confronted by a huge white stag, which, furious and at bay, turned and attacked him. King David defended himself with his short hunting sword, and would have fared but ill had not a miracle happened—a hand from the clouds placed a cross in his hand, before which sacred emblem the white stag fled. And that night, as the awed and wearied monarch slept in the Castle, St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, appeared to him, and told him to found yet another monastery on the scene of the miracle. So Holyrood Abbey was founded, and the canons lived in the Castle till their Abbey was ready for them, in all its beauty, in the valley close at the foot of Arthur’s Seat. But David I. of Scotland must not be remembered only as a “sair{24} sanct for the crown,” chidden by his confessor and founding abbeys in obedience to dreams, but as “the beld[6] of all his kyn,” who by his munificence to the Church protected the land from ravage, and fostered arts and learning; who fought with England till Scotland included Durham, Northumberland, and Westmoreland; and who left Scotland peaceful and prosperous. It was in his reign that St. Giles’s assumed the dignity of a parochial Church. The little rough huts of the dwellers in the town, which would naturally have clustered near the Castle to the east—its one not precipitous side, and where was its main entrance—would now tend to straggle down towards the Church and the Abbey, and so began that long street from the Castle to Holyrood—that curious steep mediæval street down the ridge, so characteristic of Old Edinburgh to this very day.

The Celtic dynasty had inherited from Saint Margaret their dutiful generosity to the Church; and in their reigns Holyrood Abbey became very rich and important, and the Augustine canons of Holyrood were permitted to build the Canongate round about, and to rule it as a separate burgh.

But, with the death of Alexander III., the last of the Celtic dynasty, troubled times began for Scotland. First came the patriotic struggle of Sir William Wallace against the English oppression. Then came days of civil wars of the Bruce and that splendid hero the Black Douglas, and all the selfish tyranny of Edward I.{25} of England, ending in the legacy he left to Scotland—a century and a half of incessant war.

Those were days when no man had time to lay his hand to the plough, and no woman bore a son but he was reared a fighter and a hater; when English armies or rude bands of raiders would trample down the growing grain; when, the sound of the axes scarcely still, the little thatched homes of the wooden city would be wantonly kindled and left in smoking ashes and desolation. During all this time, neither was the Abbey of Holyrood spared by the “auld enemy.” In 1322 Edward II. laid it in ashes; and when David II., son of the Bruce, was buried before the High Altar, the silver shrine above it no longer held the miraculous Cross, for it had fallen into the hands of the English at Durham, and had there remained, a venerated exile in their Cathedral.

With the Stuart dynasty, in Holyrood as everywhere else, the age of romance began.

It was in 1429, five years after King James I. had come to Scotland, that a very dramatic scene took place in the Abbey. The King and Queen and Court were present at Mass in Holyrood Church on the Feast of St. Augustine. Suddenly the chanting of the priests broke off as the solemn ceremony was interrupted by the apparition of a half-clad man before the High Altar, who, holding a naked sword by the blade, knelt and presented it to the amazed King. This was the Lord of the Isles, one of the most powerful of the wild Highland chieftains whom{26} James had been trying to subdue, and who had lately taken arms against the King, and burnt Inverness to the ground. In this savage and poetic way did the great ruined Chieftain give in his desperate submission, and tradition continues the poetry by insisting that it was at the intercession of Queen Jane that his life was spared.

In the same year the twin infant sons of James I. were born in Holyrood Abbey; and, seven years later, when Queen Jane had fled to Edinburgh Castle with her eldest son after the murder of the King at Perth, it was at Holyrood Abbey that the little James II. was hastily crowned. It was at Holyrood Abbey that James II. was married to Mary of Gueldres. Their son, James III., was also married at Holyrood Abbey, to that Margaret of Denmark who sailed into Leith with her Danish fleet, and made Scotland the richer by the Orkneys and Shetlands as her marriage portion.

In the brilliant reign of their son, James IV., Edinburgh consisted of a steep ascent of “stane-sclated” houses climbing the mile and a quarter of ridge from Holyrood to the Castle; and the closes and the pleasure gardens of the “lands” ran down to the edge of the Nor’ Loch, which lay dark and deep, and guarded the town on the north. The city wall, built in 1240 to keep out the “auld enemy,” guarded the town to the south, and climbed over the ridge and met the loch, leaving Holyrood out in the cold,—for consecrated ground was considered safe, and in no need of lay assistance. And here Holyrood lay, the huge Norman Abbey with its open arches, Salisbury Crags and the{27} green slopes of Arthur’s Seat behind it, and country in front of it stretching down to the shores of the Forth.

James IV. was crowned at Scone; but it was at Edinburgh he usually held his Court, and what a brilliant Court it must have been! To Edinburgh, as in Spenser’s Faerie Queene, there journeyed, in James IV.’s days, knights from all over Europe, to take part in the famous tournaments held below the Castle Rock or on the open spaces beside Holyrood, and to try and win the lance tipped with pure Scottish gold with which the King rewarded the best tilter. There gathered in Edinburgh, in the days of James IV., not only the flower of chivalry, but men of science, and men of art, and men of learning. Up at the Castle, Borthwick, the Master Gunner, was forging the “Seven Sisters” under James’s supervision. Down at Leith the King delighted in visiting the shipping yards, and seeing the great progress of Scottish trade. At the Provost’s house at St. Giles’s, young Gavin Douglas, son of the great Earl of Angus, was translating Virgil into Scottish verse. In the city, Walter Chepman and Andro Myllar were sending forth that new wonder into the land,—printed books. James not only granted them a patent to print, but endowed their types and bought their books; and in 1510 he granted the estate of Priestfield[7] to Walter Chepman, who paid the crown suit for it by “delivery of a pair of gloves on St. Giles’s day.”[8] Sir Andrew Wood, that{28} splendid old sailor and gallant figure in Scottish history, must have been often seen about the streets of Edinburgh and at the Court, and must often have held consultation with the King about James’s darling scheme of a Scottish Navy. Lingering with groups of courtiers in the beautiful precincts of Holyrood, there were many of the great Scottish nobles whose town houses were in the Edinburgh closes,—Angus and Argyle, Mar and Morton, and fifty more. There was the much-travelled friar and Laureate, William Dunbar, “flyting” with his rival poet, “gude Maister Walter Kennedy.” “As a courtier,” writes Mr. Oliphant Smeaton in his Life of Dunbar,[9] “Dunbar boarded at the King’s expense, and received each year his robe of red velvet fringed with costly fur. He was required to be present at every public function, and, if it presented scope for poetic treatment, to render it into verse. This was the office of a ‘King’s Makar’ or Laureate.” There was Warbeck, the pretended Duke of York, plotting in the shadows and wearying the chivalry of James. There was Don Pedro de Ayala, the courtly Spanish Ambassador (who had come on the pretext of offering James a Spanish princess as his Queen, well aware that there was no Spanish princess), and who was writing home to Ferdinand and Isabella enthusiastic descriptions of King James, Scotland, and the Scottish people. “The kingdom is very old, and very noble, and the king possesses{29} great virtues, and no defects worth mentioning.”[10] “An open and magnificent court,” Drummond of Hawthornden acknowledges it; and Dunbar gives a picture of the diversity of men that James IV.’s many interests brought round him:—

Kirkmen, courtmen, and craftsmen fine,
Doctors in jure and medicyne:
Divinours, rhetours, and philosophours:
Astrologists, artists, and oratours:
Men of armes and valliant knights:
And mony other goodly wights:
Musicians, minstrels, and merry singers,
Chevalouris, callandaris, and flingars,
Cunyeours, carvours, and carpenters,
Builders of barks and ballingars,
Masouns, lying upon the land,
And ship wrights hewing upon the strand,
Glasing wrights, goldsmiths, and lapidaris,
Printers, paintours, and potingaris.

And the King who presided over all this, if but half of De Ayala’s praises be true, was himself as skilled in the arts of peace as of war, spoke eight languages, and said “all his prayers.”[11] Holbein’s miniature is a witness of his personal beauty. All agree that he was a fearless rider, a chivalrous knight, and a brave man. But he was sensitive, subject to sudden fits of depression alternating with his gay humour, and it is told of him that, though he had been but a boy when his father’s estranged nobles had used him as a figure-head{30} for their rebellion, yet he always wore to the day of his death a hidden chain round his body, in constant penance for his father’s death.

In his thirtieth year King James married little Margaret Tudor, daughter of Henry VII. of England. The marriage was brought about by the persistence of Henry VII., and was nowise according to the inclinations of the Scottish King, who evaded it for several years after it was first proposed to him. But State reasons prevailed, and at last James gave way. The bridegroom was thirty and the bride was fourteen. But, if James was a tardy wooer, the florid little Tudor had nothing to complain of in the chivalry of the welcome she received from the courteous and sensitive Stuart.

In August 1503 she was brought to Scotland, with a train of knights and nobles, and James rode as far as Dalkeith to meet her, “gallantly dressed in a jacket of crimson velvet bordered with cloth of gold.”[12] Before the procession entered the city the King mounted in front of his bride on her palfrey—his own charger being too restive to bear a double burden—and so they rode into the decorated and expectant capital, where the people filled the windows, and gaily dressed ladies thronged the “fore-stairs”—open stairways outside the houses,—and all shouted or waved their loyalty and their welcome. Tournaments and shows took place; and, when they were alone, the king played to the little princess on the virginal, and{31}

HOLYROOD PALACE FROM THE PUBLIC GARDENS UNDER CALTON HILL Holyrood Palace stretches across the picture east and west, and is dominated by Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags. The dark turret at the west end of the nearest and north wing contains the private supper-room of Queen Mary, the room from which the Italian Rizzio was taken to his death. The end of the south wing shows beyond, and through a gap in the mean buildings, occupying the foreground of the picture, is seen the open space in front of the Palace, the restored fountain, and the entrance to a carriage road called the Queen’s Drive. The conical roofs of the towers of the Guard House appear to the extreme right. The gable and east window of the Chapel Royal (part of the ancient Abbey), together with the tower, show at the eastern extremity of the north wing.


Holyrood Palace stretches across the picture east and west, and is dominated by Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags. The dark turret at the west end of the nearest and north wing contains the private supper-room of Queen Mary, the room from which the Italian Rizzio was taken to his death. The end of the south wing shows beyond, and through a gap in the mean buildings, occupying the foreground of the picture, is seen the open space in front of the Palace, the restored fountain, and the entrance to a carriage road called the Queen’s Drive. The conical roofs of the towers of the Guard House appear to the extreme right. The gable and east window of the Chapel Royal (part of the ancient Abbey), together with the tower, show at the eastern extremity of the north wing.

then listened with bent knee and bared head whilst she sang and played to him. The marriage took place at Holyrood with much magnificence; and Dunbar the Laureate wrote “The Thristle and the Rois.” All this life and poetry and splendour glowed in Holyrood, in a braver and a warmer time than ours,—perhaps the brightest age Edinburgh has known. Little wonder that Dunbar pitied his royal master when he had to leave it even for a visit to Stirling, and wrote greeting to him from—

We that here in Hevenis glory
. . . . . . . . . .
I mean we folk in Paradyis
In Edinburgh with all merriness.

But bright things come quickly to confusion. As always, the undoing of the brave little land was brought about by England. Ten years after that marriage day at Holyrood there gathered at midnight, in the moonshine at the city Cross of Edinburgh, a spectral throng of heralds and pursuivants. Trumpets sounded, and the terrified spectators heard a ghostly voice read “the awful summons” to King James and to his Scottish chivalry: the long death-roll of all who were to fall at Flodden. Outside the city, on the Boroughmuir (part of the old hunting-ground of the forest of Drumsheugh, now a built-over suburb, but whose every inch is historic ground) lay the whole encamped host of the Scottish army. When the sun next morning rose in the August sky, it lit up a thousand pavilions white as snow, a thousand{32} streamers flaunting over them, and reared in their midst the huge royal banner of Scotland, with its “ruddy lion ramped in gold,”—all in readiness to start on the fatal march towards Flodden. The army moved on southward, leaving every home, from the palace to the hovel, bereft of father and sons: and the women waited.

Suddenly the stillness was broken, as the first wind whispers over the land and troubles the trees with warning of a storm; and the people—the women and the old men and the children—looked into one another’s blanched faces and ran out into the street to learn the truth. One man, escaped from the field of carnage, had brought the tidings to Edinburgh. And then the storm burst.

Woe, and woe, and lamentation!
What a piteous cry was there!
Widows, maidens, mothers, children,
Shrieking, sobbing in despair!
Through the streets the death-word rushes,
Spreading terror, sweeping on—
“Jesu Christ! Our King has fallen—
O Great God, King James is gone!
Holy Mother Mary, shield us,
Thou who erst did lose thy Son!
O the blackest day for Scotland
That she ever knew before!
O our King—the good, the noble,
Shall we see him never more?
Woe to us, and woe to Scotland!
O our sons, our sons and men!
Surely some have ’scaped the Southron?
Surely some will come again?”{33}
Till the oak that fell last winter
Shall uprear its shattered stem,
Wives and mothers of Dunedin,
Ye may look in vain for them![13]

All this Edinburgh has seen and known and felt. Remember it, as you walk in her streets to-day—it is not good for us for the heroic to be forgotten.

And how did Edinburgh take the blow? The first sound the people heard, breaking through their cries of grief, was a Proclamation that “all maner of personis ... haue reddye thair fensible geir and wapponis for weir,” for defence of the town, and that “wemen of gude pas to the kirk and pray.”[14] An indomitable race, that nothing could crush! The arms in readiness were not needed, however; England was too crippled to move.

After another long minority, such as had occurred with each of the Jameses, the wax candles at Holyrood once again lit up Court scenes. The royal palace, the building of which had been begun about 1503 by James IV.,[15] had been inhabited in the interval by the Duke of Albany, the Regent, during his sojourns in Scotland, who had, no doubt, brought his French ideas of elegance to bear on it. James V.,—the “Red Tod” of so many adventures,—who had been born within its walls, held his councils and his Court there, and, between{34} 1529 and 1535, completed the building begun by his father, and spoilt by the English soldiers. To Holyrood, when he was but two-and-twenty, James V. brought his fragile little French bride, Madeleine, daughter of Francis I., whom he had married in Nôtre Dame at Paris. The poet Ronsard was a twelve-year-old page in the Queen’s train when she came to Holyrood; and another in her train was the founder of the great Scottish family of Hope, including that Sir Thomas Hope who was King’s Advocate in Charles I.’s time. The gentle French princess, when she landed with James at Leith on the 19th of May 1537, was already dying of consumption. She stooped and kissed the “Scottis eard” when she set foot on it; and seven weeks afterwards, within Holyrood Abbey, she was laid pitifully beneath the same kindly “Scottis eard.”

Thief! saw thou nocht the great preparatives
Of Edinburgh, the noble famous town?
Thou saw the people labouring for their lives
To mak triumph with trump and clarioun:
Sic pleasour never was in this regioun
As suld have been the day of her entrace,
With great propinis given to her Grace.
Provost, Bailies, and Lordis of the town,
The Senatours, in order consequent,
Cled into silk of purpur, black, and brown;
Syne the great Lordis of the Parliament,
With mony knichtly Baron and Banrent,
In silk and gold, in colours comfortable:
But thou, alas! all turnit into sable.[16]


James V. had not a happy reign. His boyhood had been one of restraint under the tyranny of nobles; and, after eight years of putting his kingdom into order and subduing the troublesome Douglases, his journey to France to seek a bride had thus ended tragically in her death. The vagaries of his mother, Margaret Tudor, who, after her husband’s fall at Flodden, had emulated her brother Henry VIII. in her marriages and divorcings and remarryings, must have made her a domestic trouble to her son; and abroad, constant wars with England broke his spirit. Four years after his second wife, Mary of Lorraine, had landed at Crail to become Queen of Scotland, James V., though not yet thirty years old, was a miserable, half demented, sorely stricken man, dragging himself home on the tidings of the disastrous defeat of Solway Moss, first to Edinburgh, and then to the greater seclusion of Falkland. There, hearing of the last trouble of all, that the child to whom Mary of Lorraine had given birth at Linlithgow was a daughter, he, like Ahab of old, turned his face to the wall. “It cam’ wi’ a lass, and it’ll gang wi’ a lass,—and the deil gang wi’ it!” he cried: and so the Red Tod died.

The next scene at Holyrood is twenty years after, and the palace in the plain, and the Castle on the height, and the city between, are all covered with a thick, heavy white mist, like that which shrouded Malcolm Canmore’s children as they escaped from the Castle with their mother’s coffin. The “haar” has crept up from the Firth of Forth, and the Firth of Forth is lost in impenetrable fog; but this time it is not a ferry-boat{36} bearing a dead Queen across to Dunfermline, but a State galley bringing a living Queen home from France.

Mary Stuart, surrounded by her Scottish and French retinue, and with three of her French Guise and Lorraine uncles on board, and her four Scottish Marys in attendance, sailed up the Firth of Forth on Tuesday, 19th of August 1561, in so dense a mist that none could see from the stern of the vessel to her prow. “Si grand brouillard,” the horrified Sieur de Brantôme called it. Truly, if Queen Margaret’s haar was miraculous, Queen Mary’s haar was prophetic; for little indeed did the Stuart Princess see of what lay before her in Scotland.

The people of Leith and Edinburgh were taken by surprise, not having expected their Queen for another week, and nothing was ready for her reception,—except the haar. She rode in state to Holyrood next day. The “grand brouillard” would have prevented her from seeing anything except a vista of mist and drizzle, and no doubt she was glad to dismount and find herself in the light and warmth of the palace, with her four Marys and her French-speaking courtiers gazing curiously about them at their new surroundings.

It was not many hours before Queen Mary was to learn to how different a Scotland she had come from the Catholic Scotland her father and grandfathers had known. After she had supped, and whilst the bonfires still burnt on Arthur’s Seat, and the crowds were dispersing home through the foggy streets, the weary Queen wished to rest. Suddenly a noise;—a crowd of about{37} five hundred people had gathered below the palace windows, and were serenading the Catholic Queen by singing her Protestant psalms to the accompaniment of fiddles. “Vile fiddles and rebecks,” Brantôme designates them; and adds that the crowds sang “so ill and with such bad accord that there could be nothing worse. Ah! what music, and what a lullaby for the night!” Yes, Sieur de Brantôme! And what a different picture from that of James IV. kneeling bareheaded before little Margaret Tudor whilst she played to him on the virginal!

So, with a “grand brouillard,” with a serenade of psalms ill sung to fiddles, and with a riot in her chapel during Mass, Queen Mary’s life and troubles at Holyrood began.

Although the first stress of the religious revolution had greatly changed the daily life and the characters of the people, it had as yet not spoilt Holyrood Abbey, and Queen Mary saw it as the royal Jameses had seen it, in all its grandeur of size and its grace of early Norman architecture, as it had been built by David I. The armies of Henry VIII., it is true, had recently plundered and burnt it; but English fire never made much impression on Scottish stone.

The palace of Holyrood adjoining the Abbey was built round a great square court, with a towered and pinnacled frontage facing a huge outer courtyard separating the palace precincts from the fringes of the town, and at the back meeting the Abbey. The whole palace and its extensions and smaller courts were set{38} in walled grounds, stretching to the base of Arthur’s Seat. These included pleasure gardens, plantations, and buildings, among which was the quaint building still called “Queen Mary’s Bath.” The north-west corner of the palace proper terminated in a turreted tower which contained Queen Mary’s rooms, and this tower, rebuilt by James V. on the foundations of James IV.’s building, still forms part of the modern Holyrood, and in it, to-day, Mary’s life stands revealed. In these rooms she moved and smiled, spoke and wept. Here it was that she tried, with her beauty and her wit and her courtesy and her wonderful power of forbearance, to soften her rude nobles and turn their harsh disapproval into loyalty. Here, in the audience chamber, the first two of her famous interviews with John Knox took place. In Queen Mary’s day most of the ground now devoted to the formal grass and gravel of unused palace gardens was covered by the great Abbey. It was at the High Altar of this Abbey, where the Royal Jameses had led their very youthful brides, that Queen Mary, dressed in a robe of black velvet, was married, between five and six o’clock one Sunday morning in July, to her cousin Lord Darnley, a dissipated boy of nineteen. It was in the tiny little room leading off the Queen’s room, where the lifted tapestry still shows the entrance to the secret stair between her room and Darnley’s, that she sat at supper on the night of Riccio’s murder. With her were her sister the Countess of Argyle, and several of the Household, including the lay Abbot of Holyrood, and the Queen’s Secretary, the doomed Riccio. Darnley entered{39} and seated himself. At that signal suddenly there broke in upon them the brutal Lord Ruthven, followed by the other assassins, and seized the Italian favourite who was clinging to the Queen’s skirts for protection and crying “Sauve ma vie, Madame! sauve ma vie!” The table was thrown down on the Queen as they struggled, and one of the murderers levelled a pistol at her. They dragged the bleeding body out, across the Queen’s bedroom to the entrance of the presence chamber, where they despatched him with “whingers and swords,” and the blood from his fifty-six wounds soaked through the wooden floor. All that night the outraged Queen was a captive in her own palace, whence the Earls of Bothwell and Huntly had escaped by ropes from the back windows. The Provost and town “caused ring their common bell,” and came to see to the safety of their Queen; but the Queen was told by her lords, her husband’s accomplices, that they would “cut her into collops and cast her over the wall if she attempted to speak to them.” All this a few months before the birth of her child.

Stern swords are drawn, and daggers gleam—her words, her prayers are vain—
The ruffian steel is in his heart—the faithful Rizzio’s slain!
Then Mary Stuart brushed aside the tears that trickling fell:
“Now for my father’s arm,” she said, “my woman’s heart, farewell!”[17]

A year later, on the night of Sunday, 9th February 1567, there were doings grave and gay in Edinburgh. Darnley lay “full of small-pox in a velvet-hung bed{40} in an upper storey of the Prebendaries’ chamber at Kirk-o’-Field. The infant Prince James slept in his carved cradle at Holyrood. Bastian, one of the Queen’s servants, was celebrating his marriage in the palace. The “Queen’s Grace” went from her husband’s sick-room, afoot under a silken canopy, with a guard of Archers, “with licht torches up the Blackfriar Wynd,” to attend the masque at Holyrood in honour of the marriage. Lord Bothwell, disguised in “a loose cloak such as the Swartrytters wear,”[18] skulked with his accomplices in the shadows of the Cowgate. And then—“a little after two hours after midnight, the house wherein the King was lodged was in an instant blown in the air,”—and Darnley was dead.

It was to Holyrood that Darnley’s body was brought, and the Queen lay in a darkened room and her voice sounded “very doleful.” Well it might, for the vicious Darnley dead and embalmed was to prove a greater curse to her than had proved the vicious Darnley living.

It was in the old Chapel at Holyrood, at two o’clock on a May morning three months later, that Queen Mary was married to Bothwell, “not with the Mass, but with preaching,” by Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney. “At this marriage there was neither pleasure nor pastime used, as use was wont to be used when princes were married.”[19] There were at least two causes and{41}

THE APARTMENTS OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS IN HOLYROOD PALACE An ancient bed hung with faded crimson silk stands in Queen Mary’s bed-chamber, together with chairs and other furniture of a later date. Under the raised tapestry on the far side of the room is an open door, through which is entered the private supping-room of Queen Mary, and from which the Italian Rizzio was dragged to his death by the conspirators. They gained admittance to the apartments by the small door closely adjoining the supping-room. The ceiling of the bedroom is of wood, divided into panels, decorated with initials and coats-of-arms.


An ancient bed hung with faded crimson silk stands in Queen Mary’s bed-chamber, together with chairs and other furniture of a later date. Under the raised tapestry on the far side of the room is an open door, through which is entered the private supping-room of Queen Mary, and from which the Italian Rizzio was dragged to his death by the conspirators. They gained admittance to the apartments by the small door closely adjoining the supping-room. The ceiling of the bedroom is of wood, divided into panels, decorated with initials and coats-of-arms.

just impediments why those two persons should not have been joined together in holy Matrimony; but none declared them.

It was to Holyrood that Queen Mary was brought on foot at eight o’clock on the evening of the day after the battle of Carberry Hill; after the parting with Bothwell; after the hootings and hideous insults of the mobs gathered in the windows and on the fore-stairs as she rode vanquished through her capital. She had spent the night “in the Provost’s lodging” in the town. Thence she was brought to Holyrood for a wretched interval before she was forced to ride, “mounted on a sorry hackney,” at a furious pace all the June night, between the coarse and brutal Ruthven and Lindsay, “men of savage manners, even in that age,” says Mignet, to Lochleven and captivity.

After the days of the hapless Queen Mary the history of Holyrood consists only of a series of more or less dramatic scenes. The first three of these are in James VI.’s reign, and end the days when Holyrood was the home of a Royal race. James VI.’s two sons, Prince Henry, afterwards the friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, and Prince Charles, afterwards Charles I., were christened at Holyrood. All the earls of James VI.’s creation were created at Holyrood. And it was into the courtyard of Holyrood, on Saturday evening the 26th of March 1603, when the King and Queen had supped and retired, and “the palace lights were going out one by one,” that Sir Robert Carey clattered, half dead with fatigue and excitement, having ridden from{42} London to Edinburgh in three days, and dropt on his knees before the King and cried, “Queen Elizabeth is dead, and your Majesty is King of England.”

Did the shades of all the brave and splendid Scottish kings hover near as the words were spoken? Bruce, who fought at Bannockburn—Bruce, whose daughter Marjory was the mother of the first Stuart king; all the Stuarts, down to the gallant James who had ridden into his capital with his Tudor bride behind him on the palfrey, and had fallen on the field of Flodden; their son who, with Tudor blood in his veins, had died cursing England, and whose daughter the English Elizabeth had beheaded—did all their shades hover near as the words were spoken in Holyrood? James VI., eighth of the line from the High Steward of Scotland, knew himself to be King of the “auld enemy”—and the lights of Holyrood went out one by one.

But as, at the end of the play, the curtain is raised once or twice after it has fallen, and the scene-shifters stand back in the wings whilst the gaily dressed figures bow before an applauding audience, so the curtain has been raised once or twice on Holyrood to the sound of the multitude huzzaing. One such occasion was when Charles I. was crowned at Holyrood. A brilliant day for Edinburgh—a revival of the royal pageantries once so familiar in her streets; a long procession from the Castle to Holyrood between lines of soldiers in white satin doublets and black velvet breeches and plumed hats; a long procession of nobles on horseback, of heralds and trumpeters, of bishops with lawn{43} sleeves, of civic dignitaries in scarlet and ermine; a flash of colour winding down the mediæval street, as of old, from the Castle to the Palace—and then Charles returned to England, and the curtain fell.

It was Charles II., the Merry Monarch, who rebuilt Holyrood and gave it its present aspect. His own desire was to erect a large new palace, such as Charles I. had contemplated building. In the Bodleian Library at Oxford is a plan of the second storey, dated October 1663, and endorsed “the surveyes and plat mead by John Mylne, his Majestie’s Mr. Massone,” and to it is attached by sealing-wax a piece of paper, on which is written: “This was his Majesties blessed fatheres intentione in anno 1633.”[20]

James VII., while Duke of York, held Court in Holyrood and restored the Abbey Church, and had Mass celebrated in it for his Catholic subjects. News of the landing of William of Orange gave lawlessness the leave, and the Presbyterian mob sacked the Chapel, burnt the Altar and organ at the City Cross, and desecrated the royal vault, tearing open the leaden coffins of the dead Kings and Queens of Scotland. But in 1745 the curtain rose once again, and for the last time, on the Stuart drama.

Edinburgh was filled with loyal Highlanders, was noisy with the skirling of pipes and the din of bugles, and Edinburgh folk went decorated with white cockades, and the air was charged with excitement. There rode up to the door of Holyrood that “gallant and handsome{44} young Prince, who threw himself on the mercy of his countrymen, rather like a hero of romance than a calculating politician.”[21] How did they receive him?—

As he cam’ marching doon the street,
The pipes played loud and clear;
And a’ the folk cam’ rinnin’ oot
To meet the Chevalier!
Oh, Charlie is my darling!...

Holyrood again sheltered a Stuart, and all was hope and enthusiasm. It was in the long picture-gallery of Holyrood Palace that Scotland’s capital gathered her beauty and her chivalry, and gave her ball in the Prince’s honour,—that ball immortalised in Waverley.

Again the curtain fell, and the scene-shifters peopled the stage.

In the middle of the eighteenth century the ruinous roof of the Abbey, ill repaired, fell in, carrying with it the ancient arches. The ruins were desecrated, filled with rubbish and insulted, the coffins of the dead were stolen, and the skulls and bones of kings and queens lay exposed, exhibited—were carried away, and lost. Among them was the gentle Madeleine who had kissed the “Scottis eard.” Holyrood Abbey had survived over six centuries the invasions of the wanton English, only to be laid in ruins by the citizens of Edinburgh themselves.{45}




Age to age succeeds,
Blowing a noise of tongues and deeds,
A dust of systems and of creeds.

THERE is a saying that no one who has suffered an Episcopalian childhood knows the story of Jonah and the gourd, and that the reply given is invariably, “Jonah and the gourd? The gourd? What about a gourd? I know all about the whale, of course!” It is observable that the ordinary tourist who visits Edinburgh associates St. Giles’s Church with the one incident of Jenny Geddes throwing her stool at the dean—an incident of which it might be submitted that, like the connection between Jonah and the whale, it was perhaps not the most dignified, though certainly an uncomfortably dramatic, moment of its history. The Church of St. Giles, like the prophet, had had other experiences—which is perhaps not wonderful{46} when one recollects that it was in all probability the parish church of “Edwinsburch” in the ninth century. It was certainly there in the days of David I., when Edinburgh was a cluster of huts, built of the wood and thatched with the boughs of the forest of Drumsheugh, with its dominating fortress up on the rock, its great Abbey down on the plain, and half-way on the slope between them the beautiful little massive early Norman Church. From its belfry, as the sun rose high over the Forth beyond the Calton Hill, the bell would toll the pious Scots to Matins, or to Vespers when it sank red at the back of their Castle.

This early parochial church—probably built on the site of a still older church, and that again maybe on the site of some heathen temple—was, on the 6th of October 1243, in the reign of Alexander II., dedicated to St. Giles by David de Bernham, Norman Bishop of St. Andrews.[22] The church, like all other buildings in Edinburgh, suffered much at the hands of the English Edwards, of Richard II. of England, and of Henry VIII. of England; and the marks of the flames of those ruthless invaders are still visible on the pillars of the choir. If it was misused by the “auld enemy,” it was—until the Reformation—well treated by its own people. It was restored from Richard’s fire, and building went on until Flodden. In 1387 five chapels were added on the south of the Nave, “thekyt” with stone, by three well-paid Scottish masons, on the model{47}

THE CHURCH OF ST. GILES FROM THE LAWNMARKET The statue of the Duke of Buccleuch shows immediately under the tower of the Cathedral, backed by the modernised west end of the building. Farther down the High Street, to the east, is the Tron Church, while to the right of the picture is a portion of the new County Hall. On the extreme left is the entrance from Lawnmarket to Baxter’s Close, where Burns once lodged. (See “Lady Stair’s Close.”)


The statue of the Duke of Buccleuch shows immediately under the tower of the Cathedral, backed by the modernised west end of the building. Farther down the High Street, to the east, is the Tron Church, while to the right of the picture is a portion of the new County Hall. On the extreme left is the entrance from Lawnmarket to Baxter’s Close, where Burns once lodged. (See “Lady Stair’s Close.”)

of a chapel at Holyrood. The Regent Albany founded chapels[23]; and storks built nests in the roof. Every one seemed busy building in the church.

In 1454 William Preston of Gorton bequeathed to St. Giles’s a much-prized relic—“the arm-bone of Sanct Gele,” which he had procured from France; and the Provost and magistrates built the “Preston Aisle” as a mark of gratitude, with “a brass for his lair,” and a chaplain “to sing at the altar from that time forth”; and the male representative of the Preston family, until the Reformation, bore the sacred relic in all processions.

In 1467 St. Giles’s was transformed from a parish church into a collegiate church, having a Provost, a perpetual Vicar having care of souls, a minister of the choir, fourteen canons or prebendaries, a sacristan, a beadle, a secular clerk, and four choristers taught by the best-qualified canon. By the time St. Giles’s became a collegiate foundation it was rich in chaplainries and altarages; and afterwards there were many more endowments. Each trade that formed into a Guild maintained its own altar; and, as these Guilds were rich, this was a great source of wealth. The last endowment before Flodden was an annuity of twenty-three merks from Walter Chepman, the earliest Scottish printer, to found a chaplaincy at the altar of St. John the Evangelist. This was confirmed by charter of James IV., on the 1st of August 1513—eight days before Flodden.

Ah, the summer days of Edinburgh in the year{48} 1513! The King reading the poems of his Franciscan friar Dunbar, printed by the honoured and pious Chepman, who endowed the altars of St. Giles’s, where the young Poet-Provost, of the proud race of Douglas, walked at the end of the chanting procession amid the stone pillars, and went home afterwards to turn Virgil into Scottish verse....

Gavin Douglas had been made Provost by James IV. in 1501, when he was but twenty-six, and it was whilst he was living in the Provost’s dwelling, bounding the west side of the churchyard (where Parliament House now stands), that he wrote The Palace of Honour and King Hart, and turned Virgil’s Æneid into the vernacular. Gavin Douglas was the third son of that grim old statesman, the Earl of Angus, who had earned the sobriquet of “Archibald Bell-the-Cat” on the day when the haughty Scottish nobles hanged all James III.’s plebeian favourites over the bridge at Lauder.

Son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne’er could pen a line,

Scott makes the Earl of Angus say; but “Gawain” penned many a line, and penned the last of the Æneid on the 22nd of July 1513, when

For to behold, it was a gloir to see
The stabled windes and the calmed sea,
The soft seasoun, the firmament serene,
The lowne illumined air, and firth amene,
. . . . . . . . . .
Towers, turrets, kirnels, pinnacles hie
Of kirks, castells, and ilke fair city,{49}
Stood painted, every fyall, fane and stage,
Upon the plain ground by their own umbrage.

After Flodden there were many prayers in St, Giles’s, but few endowments.[24] No doubt, when that first Proclamation bade the women go into the churches and pray, many a Scottish wife, many a mother, many a girl with a secret sorrow to carry with her to the grave, took her broken heart into the shadows of the old Church, and wept her supplications before the little altars there.

Gavin Douglas was still Provost of St. Giles’s during these troubled days, and his father, the Earl of Angus, was Provost of the city, having succeeded Sir Alexander Lauder of Blyth, who had marched under him to Flodden, and fallen on the field. So the Douglases held the helm; and there could be this entry in the Burgh Records:—

Archibald Dowglas erle of Angius, Provest.—

Magister Gavinus Dowglas prepositus ecclesie collegiate Beati Egidij hujusmodi burgi effectus est burgenssis pro communi bono ville gratis.[25]

In 1516 Gavin Douglas was made Bishop of Dunkeld; but five years later, on Albany’s return to the regency, the day of the Douglases was over, and{50} Gavin found an asylum in England (his nephew, the Earl of Angus, was now Henry VIII.’s brother-in-law, having married the widowed Queen Margaret); and he died in London of the plague in 1522.

Through the later part of the sixteenth century Scotland lay between Scylla and Charybdis—between France and England; and politics, at home and abroad, were strenuous. Henry VIII. “scourged Scotland as no English king had scourged her since Edward I.,” and his soldiers left Edinburgh burnt to the ground, and laid waste a circuit of five miles round it. France offered help with one hand, and with the other attempted to grasp the Scottish crown for the coronation of the Dauphin on his marriage to Mary Stuart. Meanwhile Protestantism, already established in England, was gaining a gradual and independent hold in Scotland; and against this, and against the English alliance it threatened, Mary of Lorraine and Cardinal Beaton struggled desperately and in vain. In 1534 and 1540 Cardinal Beaton burnt heretics; in 1546 Cardinal Beaton was murdered. Mary of Lorraine had been made Regent in succession to Arran—to the intense disapproval of Buchanan and Knox; “als semlye a sight (yf men had eis) as to putt a sadill upoun the back of ane unrewly kow,” is Knox’s rough comment. She filled Edinburgh with her countrymen, and heaped honours on them, and riots in the streets of Edinburgh ensued between the French soldiers and the native citizens, and hatred of the French and of their faith grew bitter and strong.{51}

In 1556 the most precious of the Church valuables were stolen, and the life-sized statue of the patron saint was ducked in the Nor’ Loch by the rabble and then burnt. The Archbishop of St. Andrews “caused his curate Tod to curse them as black as cole,” and the Church authorities borrowed an image from Greyfriars for the St. Giles’s Day procession, in which the Queen Regent herself walked to do them honour; but when she left it a riot ensued, and the borrowed image was rudely handled and defaced.

After this the Church valuables were boarded out for safety among the faithful; but the army of the Congregation entered the town on 29th June 1559, and that same day the stones of St. Giles’s echoed back the stern thundering eloquence of John Knox, the great Presbyterian reformer. John Knox was the first minister of the city under the new form of religion, and he preached in the central part of the church, opening from the south, which division was called “the Old Kirk.”[26]

The interior of the Church was partitioned off and the subdivisions appropriated, not only by various preachers of the new religion for their own special services, but also by the laity for various secular purposes. A court of justice was held in one, a grammar school in another, the town clerk’s office in a third, a prison in a fourth, and so on; and the Town Council found one of the ancient chapels a suitable place in which to{52} erect looms to test the exhibits of city weavers accused of peculations. Any great religious upheaval produces, on the part of the rude and vulgar, these manifestations of irreverence toward the old order of things; and too much importance must not be attached to them.

Darnley, three weeks after his marriage to Queen Mary, attended service at St. Giles’s, but Knox preached “an hour or more longer than the time appointed” on the wickedness of princes, and how “boys and women” are set up as rulers and tyrants; and young Darnley was “crabbit” afterwards, spent the afternoon in hawking, and never came to St. Giles’s again.

After Queen Mary’s flight to England, Edinburgh was in a state of civil war; and Kirkaldy of Grange, who held the Castle for the Queen for three years, garrisoned St. Giles’s as a fort, hoisted cannon and soldiers up into the steeple, and loopholed the gables for arquebuses, and John Knox once again fled for his life.

Until 1585 Edinburgh citizens had contentedly, and perhaps with sufficient punctuality, regulated their doings by the bells of St. Giles’s; but in that year the Town Council bought, for the sum of fifty-five pounds Scots, a clock from the Abbey Church of Lindores, and hung it up in the steeple. Stormy hours were the hands of that clock from the quiet Fifeshire Abbey destined to mark!

In King James VI.’s reign, stirring events happened in the Church of St. Giles. The King often used the Church for conferences, which sometimes ended in{53} disputes between the King and representatives of early Presbyterian zeal, not conducted with due regard to kingly dignity on either side. In 1596 it was the scene of a difference of opinion of this nature, and James had to take refuge from it in the adjacent Tolbooth, and thence, when the Tolbooth was attacked by an armed mob, to hurry home to Holyrood. It was after this incident that the King, instead of carrying out his original intention of razing Edinburgh to the ground and salting its site, contented himself with ordering the four ministers of St. Giles’s to live in different and distant parts of the town, instead of all four together in “ain clois,” hatching treason at their ease.

It was in St. Giles’s Church, in 1603, that King James bade farewell to his Scottish subjects, and that he was preached to by the Rev. Mr. Hall, a Presbyterian divine, and wept over and exhorted,—and in his turn wept, and promised, and took leave. It was at St. Giles’s Church, in 1617, that King James attended a service immediately on his entry into Edinburgh on his first visit home from England. He had promised to return to his Scottish capital every third year; but the years had extended to fifteen, during which he had been able, as the powerful sovereign of all Britain, to complete his long-cherished plan for the establishment of Episcopacy in Scotland. It was therefore not now a Presbyterian minister who preached, but the Bishop of St. Andrews.

In 1628 the “Krames” were first erected,—wooden booths with lean-to roofs, sticking like barnacles on to the sides of the church, and filling up the angles{54} between the buttresses. The church then, rising out of a huddledom of booths and goldsmiths’ shops and open markets and stalls and jostling crowds, all closely hemmed in by the tall houses of the narrow street, must have resembled many of the foreign Cathedrals of the present day.

In 1633 Edinburgh became an Episcopal See, the diocese being formed out of that of St. Andrews; and St. Giles’s, which during its long Roman Catholic existence had been first a parochial church and then a collegiate church, was converted into a cathedral church. It is still very commonly called “St. Giles’s Cathedral,” the designation dating from this short period of its life. The first Bishop of Edinburgh was William Forbes, who died in the same year that he was appointed, 1634, and was succeeded by five others, the fifth being Bishop Abernethy Rose, the last of the Established Episcopalian Bishops of Edinburgh. He was deprived on the abolition of Episcopacy in 1688, and became Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, and died in 1720 in Whitehorse Close. “I know at least one person,” writes Mr. Robert Chambers in his Traditions of Edinburgh, “who never goes past the place without an emotion of respect, remembering the self-abandoning devotion of the Scottish prelates to their engagements at the Revolution.”

It was on the 23rd of July 1637 that the folly and obstinacy of Charles I. brought about the riot in the Cathedral during which the celebrated Jenny Geddes threw her stool at the Dean.{55}

THE CHURCH OF ST. GILES FROM THE COURTS A portion of the south end of the transept appears at the extreme left of the picture, and farther in the picture, to the east, is an equestrian statue of Charles II. A little to the west of this statue, and just out of the limits of the picture, is a stone, believed to cover the remains of John Knox. Above all rises the fine crown and spire of the tower.


A portion of the south end of the transept appears at the extreme left of the picture, and farther in the picture, to the east, is an equestrian statue of Charles II. A little to the west of this statue, and just out of the limits of the picture, is a stone, believed to cover the remains of John Knox. Above all rises the fine crown and spire of the tower.

“Since the days of John Knox,” says Professor Hume Brown in his History of Scotland, “the citizens of Edinburgh had been noted for their stubborn adhesion to Presbyterian doctrine and polity. With no other section of his subjects had James VI. found greater difficulty in enforcing the Articles of Perth. In 1584, Bishop Adamson, as the representative of Episcopacy, had been violently interrupted while conducting service in the church of St. Giles. If, therefore, Edinburgh should patiently endure the new Liturgy,[27] its example could not fail to have a good effect on the rest of the country. It was in the same church of St. Giles that the experiment with the new Service-Book was now made; and, unluckily for its promoters, Edinburgh even surpassed its evil record. Every precaution was taken to ensure the decorous behaviour of the congregation. The two archbishops with several of their suffragans, the Lords of Privy Council, and the Lords of Session, were present to give solemnity to the occasion. No sooner, however, had the dean opened the new Liturgy than the tumult began. There arose ‘such an uncouth noise and hubbub in the Church that not any one could either hear or be heard. The gentlewomen did fall a tearing and crying that the Masse was entered among them and Baal in the Church. There was a gentleman who standing behind a pew and answering Amen to what the dean was reading, a she zealot hearing him starts up in choler, “Traitor (says she), dost thou say Mass at my ear,” and with that struck him on the{56} face with her bible in great indignation and fury.’[28] It was in vain that Archbishop Spottiswoode endeavoured to allay the tumult, and the service closed amid uproar and confusion—the bishop being pursued to his residence with volleys of stones and imprecations. Such was the discouraging reception of Laud’s Service-Book in the leading church of Scotland.”[29]

And during this uproar tradition avers that a “kail-wife,” when the collect was given out, hurled her stool at the Dean, crying, “Deil colic the wame o’ ye!”

It is all very well to cast doubt on whether Jenny Geddes existed in mortal life: none can doubt her claim to immortality. If tangible proof be demanded,—is not the very stool she aimed at the Dean to be seen in the Scottish Antiquarian Museum to this day?

It is difficult now for a stranger to understand fully the very strong antagonism between the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians.

’Piscy, ’Piscy, Amen!
Doon on yer knees and up agen!

the little street urchins still cry in shrill disapproval as the “chapels” skale.[30] The antagonism was in its early days political and temperamental as well as ecclesiastical, for the Episcopalians were royalists and cavaliers to a man. In the eighteenth century the terms Episcopalian{57} and Jacobite were held as almost synonymous. The two classes were diametrically opposed in their dispositions and ways and ideals; and yet each represented many of the finest characteristics of the Scottish character, and each can lay claim to a goodly number of the Scotsmen and Scotswomen of whom Scotland is proudest and fondest. But the feeling betrays itself even yet where education has tended to sharpen the angles of temperament instead of rounding them off.

“This is Edinburg,” a Cockney youth with a tourist ticket was overheard to say, as the train approached the Northern Capital.

“Oh, Edinboro’, is it?” answered his companion, letting down the window. “Oh, I s’y, this ain’t town,—I can smell the ’y!”

“That is the fimous Castle of Edinburg,” said the first, and both gazed out at the Calton jail.

A little old woman, shrivelled with age, and neat and clean as a russet apple in her white mutch and her shawl, gave a restless movement, but said nothing. No one noticed her.

“Wasn’t it at Edinboro’ that Janie Gedds lived?” asked the second youth, drawing in his head.

“Janie Gedds?—’oo was she?”

“W’y, Janie Gedds, that threw a stool at a dean’s ’ead and stopt a Church service.”

“Threw a stool at a dean’s ’ead and stopt a Church service? W’y, w’atever did she do that for? W’at imperence!”

And then suddenly the little old woman whom no{58} one had noticed leant forward, a flash of fire in the deep-set eyes under the white mutch, and a brown wrinkled fist thrust out from the folds of the shawl. “Indeed, an’ she was verra richt, sirs! Verra richt, she was!—An’ I’d dae the same mysel’!

The two Cockney youths collapsed as completely as ever did the dean.

When the deep-laid schemes of Charles I. “went agee,” the Presbyterians held undisputed possession of the Church of St. Giles. It was during this time that Sir John Gordon of Haddo, a Royalist, was imprisoned in the “Priest’s Chamber,” afterwards known as “Haddo’s Hole.” But, when Cromwell entered Edinburgh after the battle of Dunbar, the town was flooded with English Independents,—all manner of sects,—who preached in St. Giles’s Church and harassed the Presbyterians more than ever either Roman Catholics or Episcopalians had done, until even the General Assembly itself was prohibited by them from meeting in the church, and “It must have been a curious spectacle to see these gentlemen marched out of St. Giles’s by a band of fanatics more fanatical than themselves.”[31] So, when there came the Restoration of 1660, and Charles II. promised all that the Presbyterians asked, there was general rejoicing, and feasting at the City Cross, and after the Lord Provost and magistrates had “turned up their spiritual thanks to Heaven for so blessed an occasion,” they “in a most magnificent manner regaled{59} themselves with those human lawful refreshment which is allowable for the grandeur of so eminent a blessing.”[32] And even Jenny Geddes, it is told, contributed her creels and her creepies to help form a bonfire.

But the Covenanters were to learn not to put their faith in princes—especially in princes coerced to their faith. On the 11th of May 1661, the head of the gallant Royalist, the Marquis of Montrose, was taken down from its spike on the Tolbooth, and his mutilated remains were gathered, and buried in St. Giles’s with pomp and pity by Wishart, who had been his chaplain, and who, a year later, was consecrated Bishop of Edinburgh. When the poor persecuted Covenanters taken at Rullion Green were imprisoned in Haddo’s Hole and treated with barbarous severities, it was this Wishart who fed them and did all he could to obtain mercy for them,—this Wishart, who had himself suffered so much at the hands of Covenanters that to his dying day he bore the marks on his face of the rats who “had been like to devour” him in his loathsome dungeon.[33]

It is pleasant to turn from all the stormy and tragic memories of man’s inhumanities to man to the pretty and peaceful fact that in the spring of 1700 there were hung in the steeple of St. Giles’s “a good and sufficient cheme or sett of musical bells, according to the rules of musick, for the use of the good toun of Edinburgh.”{60} Was this the peal that continued faithfully to jangle—

’Twas within a mile of Edinburgh toun,
In the rosy time o’ the year,

until, by reason of age, the jangling grew fitful, with little pauses and blanks of silence, like a pulse that is beating out its last of a long and busy life?...

If the Beatitude promised to those whom men shall revile and persecute and despitefully use is also granted to stone and lime, then “Sanct Gellis kirk “ is blessed indeed. Over six centuries ago it was burnt to ashes by the English, and carefully and reverently restored and rebuilt. Then, for nearly two hundred years it was slowly enriched and laboriously embellished, till every pillar had its shrine and every niche its altar, and its outer walls were irregular with the chapels that had been added to it, and the beautiful open arched crown steeple, the pride of Edinburgh to-day, was added by unknown hands.

And then all the altars were dashed down and the images burnt; and, scarcely had the Church been “cleansed of popery,” when she was again sprinkled and re-consecrated after the sacrilege; then again she was “purged of idolatry,” and the Latin chantings of a French bishop had to give place to the noise of workmen’s hammers and the creaking of pulleys and the falling of altars and carvings, and nine days later St. Giles’s found herself bare and empty and—whitewashed!

Her shadows have been cast by the wax candles bequeathed for the souls of those in purgatory; and{61} they have been banished by the torches when John Knox held his Communions at four o’clock on winter mornings. Her aisles have echoed to many doctrines, many angry denunciations, many whispered prayers; they have held cannon and soldiers, they have immured prisoners, they have seen gay wedding pageantries, they have watched martyrs and statesmen laid to rest. And at last they were left dusty and neglected: cobwebs hung on the walls,—spiders spun their altars unreproved.

In 1758 the old Norman doorway, a survival of the thirteenth century, was ruthlessly demolished: and, in 1829, under the name of “improvement,” the architecture of the church was ruined, at the cost of over twenty thousand pounds, according to the taste of the builders,—the roof was plastered, the carvings and tombs and monuments were broken, destroyed, and desecrated, galleries were built, and all the past was insulted and the present rendered hideous,—and then again it was left in dirt and neglect. From this state it was rescued in 1883 by the late William Chambers, who undid the deeds of vandalism as far as possible, and magnificently restored the old Church of St. Giles.{62}



It is, to be sure, more picturesque to lament the desolation of towns on hills and haughs than the degradation of an Edinburgh close; but I cannot help thinking on the simple and cosic retreats where worth and talent, and elegance to boot, were often nestled.

Sir Walter Scott, Letter to Lady Anne Barnard.

THE long irregular line of slowly ascending mediæval street from Holyrood to the Castle was, and is, the backbone of Old Edinburgh. From this backbone there jut out on either side, forming, as it were, the ribs from the spine, all those narrow wynds and quaint closes so characteristic of the Old Town, and so full of the traditions and stories of Old Town life. The main street itself is in three divisions—the Canongate, nearest to Holyrood, then the main portion, or High Street, and, highest up and nearest to the Castle, the Lawnmarket. Between the Canongate and the High Street there used, in bygone days, to be the famous old city gate, the Netherbow Port, for the Canongate, a separate burgh, was beyond the Flodden wall, which at this point crossed the ridge of the town. At the junction{63}

JOHN KNOX’S HOUSE, HIGH STREET To the left of the square stone water-conduit, which occupies the centre of the picture, is seen the west front of this picturesque structure, and still farther to the left a “fore-stair” of a building which may be of an earlier date than the one known as John Knox’s House. The opening into the Canongate to the right of the picture is St. Mary Street.


To the left of the square stone water-conduit, which occupies the centre of the picture, is seen the west front of this picturesque structure, and still farther to the left a “fore-stair” of a building which may be of an earlier date than the one known as John Knox’s House. The opening into the Canongate to the right of the picture is St. Mary Street.

of the High Street and the Lawnmarket stood the Church of St. Giles, and, right out in the middle of the street and dividing the traffic into two narrow streams, the hoary Tolbooth, or “Heart of Midlothian.”

This, then, was Old Edinburgh, the Edinburgh that Taylor, the Water-poet, so well describes. “So, leaving the castle,” he writes, “as it is both defensive against any opposition and magnificke for lodging and receite, I descended lower to the city, wherein I observed the fairest and goodliest streete that ever mine eyes beheld, for I did never see or heare of a street of that length (which is half an English mile from the castle to a faire port, which they call the Nether-bow); and from that port, the streete which they call the Kenny-hate is one quarter of a mile more, downe to the kings palace, called Holyrood-house; the buildings on each side of the way being all of squared stone, five, six, or seven stories high, and many by-lanes and closes on each side of the way, wherein are gentlemens houses, much fairer than the buildings in the high-street, for in the high-street marchants and tradesmen do dwell, but the gentlemens mansions and goodliest houses are obscurely founded in the aforesaid lanes: the walles are eight or tenne foote thicke, exceeding strong, not built for a day, a weeke, a moneth, or a yeere, but from antiquitie to posteritie, for many ages.”[34]

Edinburgh, before the sudden extension of its boundaries at the end of the eighteenth century, was thus a small, compact city, measuring in its proudest{64} days but a mile in length and a half mile in width; but, though it was small, it was densely populated. Bounded in its growth by deep ravines and by a wall and a great loch—defences against the English—it extended itself in the only way it could, upwards towards the sky, whence it need fear “no enemy, but winter and rough weather.” Some of the highest houses in old Edinburgh were like vertical streets, with a spiral “common stair”; and they contained from floor to roof almost as many families as would a street in another town. The richer and better-born citizens lived in the most comfortable “flats,” and their poorer neighbours carried on their lives and their trades below them; by which means all ranks and sorts of persons were jostled together in a cosy, sociable “hugger-mugger” existence, quite incomprehensible to the modern citizen.

The nobles of Scotland, before the Union drew them away to London, had their fine old town residences in Edinburgh—the “lands”[35] bearing their names. These were generally within closes, “obscurely founded in the aforesaid lanes,” as Taylor has it; but many were in the Cowgate, a fashionable suburb, or in the Canongate, which, being nearest Holyrood, was the court end of the city. It is down this “fairest and goodliest streete” that the tourist of to-day drives from the Castle to Holyrood, or up from Holyrood to the Castle. The driver will point with his whip at a gabled{65} house standing forward into the street, and tell him it is John Knox’s house. At the Church of St. Giles he will probably stop the cab and descend, and, finding the door locked, will wander round the building and gaze down at the heart marked on the stones where once stood the Tolbooth, and at the initials I. K. where Knox is supposed to be buried, though another version has it that his grave is below the equestrian statue of Charles II. And so he will find himself in the precincts of Parliament House, built on ground which in past ages was the graveyard of the parish church. If he enter and have a glimpse of the great hall filled with lawyers in their wigs and gowns, strutting and fretting their hour as past generations did in their time, and as future generations will do in theirs, then he will probably let his mind rest upon Sir Walter Scott, the greatest of them all. And so his day in Edinburgh will leave him with a confused impression of a long squalid street full of draggled women and barefooted children, of groups of soldiers from the Castle, of carts and cries, of open “fore-stairs” and street wells, of ancient gabled roofs and of flapping garments hung out of windows on poles to dry, of pious legends and obliterated carvings, of an appalling number of drunken men, and of dark entries giving glimpses of tortuous obscurities, or leading steeply down some narrow tunnel with a flashing vista of the New Town in a blaze of sunshine at the end of it.

But, in driving down that ridge of street from the Castle to Holyrood, the tourist drives right through{66} the history of Old Edinburgh, through centuries of her stories and traditions, her pride and her romances and her crimes. Down this street have ridden many gay processions, many royal pageants. Often have the “fore-stairs” and windows been crowded to witness a king lead home a foreign bride; or a regiment of brave Scots go by, with music and the tramp of feet; or a prisoner driven to his death; or, most familiar sight of all in ancient Edinburgh, to watch a “tulzie,” a quarrel settled “à la mode d’Edimbourg,” as they said on the Continent,—a duel to the death, or a street fight between armed men, followers of great rival houses, the popular side ably assisted by the fighting burghers with their spears. In the month of August 1503 the ladies of Edinburgh gathered on the decorated fore-stairs, “gay as beds of flowers,” to see King James IV. ride into the town with his Tudor bride on her palfrey. During the minority of James V. the windows were crowded with excited faces, whilst the terrific “Cleanse the Causeway” raged below, and the townspeople handed out spears to the Douglases, and the dead Hamiltons blocked the entries to the closes. Here Queen Mary rode, a dishevelled prisoner, after the battle of Carberry Hill, after she had parted with Bothwell, and “as she came through the town the common people cried out against Her Majesty at the windows and stairs, which it was a pity to hear. Her Majesty again cried out to all gentlemen and others that passed up and down the causeway, declaring how that she was their native princess, and doubted not but all honest subjects{67} would respect her as they ought to do, and not suffer her to be mishandled.”[36]

When one turns aside from the main thoroughfare and penetrates into the closes, one leaves the public life of the city and comes upon the stories of the private lives of Old Edinburgh. Many of the closes, alas! are gone. Sometimes only an entrance remains, with a name above it recalling a hundred memories,—but the entrance leads to nowhere, or to modern buildings. But some closes remain; and, as one makes one’s way down from the Castle to the Canongate one can turn aside here and there, crossing and recrossing the street to dive down some steep entry, and, standing within it, where the broken plaster shows the bare oaken rafters overhead, may read half-obliterated Latin, or trace armorial bearings over doorways, or gaze through the open doors up spiral wooden stairs, or—over the heads of the swarming little children playing in the courts—at ancient gabled roofs and rounded turrets and beautiful old windows, whence once fair ladies peeped, and where now the ever-present “washings” hang suspended on poles, and add impressionist touches of colour to the scene.

Every close and every wynd and every land has its history; and, as nearly a hundred closes even now survive, besides the sites and memories of many more, and as every close contains its lands, it would take several volumes to tell all there is to be told. And so that invidious and vexing thing, a selection, must be{68} made, and a few of the thousand crowding names taken haphazard.

Off the Lawnmarket there is a wide quadrangle called, after its architect, Mylne’s Court. There was a long line of royal master masons of that name, descending from father to son, from the reign of James III. This close, built in 1690 by Robert Mylne, the seventh royal master mason, whose handiwork is to be seen in many of the beautiful bits of Old Town architecture, had a graceful doorway with a peaked arch over it, grateful to the eye of the old master who designed it, but now broken and defaced. When the close was built it enclosed some building of earlier date, for another doorway had 1580 engraved over it, with the legend “Blissit be God in al his Giftis”—the most popular of all the numberless pious mottoes, Latin and English, that embellish the homes of the Old Town. This building is now gone.

James’s Court, close by, is connected with the names of David Hume and of James Boswell, and Boswell’s two guests, Paoli the Corsican, and Dr. Johnson; but the buildings in it where they lived were burnt down in the middle of the nineteenth century. Next to it—leading from it—is Lady Stair’s Close, quite recently restored by Lord Rosebery, after whose ancestress it is named. Originally it was called Lady Gray’s Close, and the coat-of-arms and the initials W G and G S carved under the words “Feare the Lord and depart from evill” are those of the original owners, Sir William (afterwards Lord) Gray of Pittendrum and his wife Egidia Smith, and the date 1622 is the date when they{69} built it.[37] This Lord Gray was a wealthy Scottish merchant in Charles I.’s time, and was one of those who were ruined by their adherence to Montrose. He lost all his wealth by heavy fines, and, after imprisonment in the Castle and in the Tolbooth, died in 1648. Three years before his death, his daughter had died of the plague in this close. Lady Gray survived her husband, but apparently left the house “they had built to be so happy in,” and it then became the residence of the Dowager Lady Stair. It must have been a stately home in those days, with the Lawnmarket in front, and terraced gardens behind, stretching down to the Nor’ Loch. The romantic story of Lady Stair (born Lady Eleanor Campbell, grand-daughter of the Earl of Loudoun, the Covenanting Chancellor of Charles I.’s time, and married first to James, Viscount Primrose, and afterwards to the Earl of Stair) forms the plot of Scott’s Aunt Margaret’s Mirror. Scott used to own that he liked to “put a cocked hat” on to a story; and the cocked hat on this one is very evident. Lord Stair died in 1647—the year before Lord Gray; so it was probably just after she became a widow for the second time that Lady Stair came to live in the close that now bears her name; and here she lived for about twelve years, till her death in 1659. She had long reigned as one of the queens of Edinburgh society; in her old age she was noted and much envied for that luxury, a black servant—the only one in Edinburgh; and whatever{70} truth there is in Sir Walter’s story, her troubles had not taken the colour from her life or from her speech. When the Earl of Dundonald accused Lady Stair of libelling Lady Jane Douglas (whose case was then before the Court of Session), and further gave the world leave to call him “a damned villain” if he did not speak the truth, the high-spirited old gentlewoman, Lady Stair, went off straight to Holyrood, where the Duke and Duchess of Douglas were, and there, before them and their attendants, said she had lived to a good old age and never till now got entangled in any “clatters,”[38] and struck the floor thrice with her stick, each time calling the Earl of Dundonald “a damned villain,”—and then retired.

Baxter’s Close, where Burns stayed in 1786, is now part of Lady Stair’s Close, and from the moment the tourist enters James’s Court he is surrounded to-day by a mob of intelligent small Scots, with bare feet and eager eyes, and told by a chorus of voices that “Robbie Burrrns lived in yon hoose”—“It was yonder Robbie Burrrns stoppit”; and, if the tourist linger to read the carvings, he is hastily helped: “Fear the Lorrrd and depairt frae evil—but it’s over yonder Robbie Burrrns’s hoose is!”

On the other side of the street is Brodie’s Close, where Deacon Brodie, the daring burglar, one of Edinburgh’s picturesque criminals, lived. There is a fine old archway inside the close, and a pleasant and innocent odour of burnt treacle from a bakery near by. Riddle’s Close has also been lately renovated, and was{71}

LADY STAIR’S CLOSE On the extreme right, in the foreground of the picture, is the house of Eleanor, Dowager Countess of Stair, recently almost rebuilt by Lord Rosebery. The large opening close to the circular building on the left leads into the Lawnmarket, and in this building, which stands in Baxter’s Close, Robert Burns once lodged.


On the extreme right, in the foreground of the picture, is the house of Eleanor, Dowager Countess of Stair, recently almost rebuilt by Lord Rosebery. The large opening close to the circular building on the left leads into the Lawnmarket, and in this building, which stands in Baxter’s Close, Robert Burns once lodged.

used as a settlement for students. It has a story of sudden death to tell—probably several, were all known, for the enclosed court was evidently intended for defence. Here was the house of Bailie Macmorran, a rich merchant of James VI.’s reign, when rich merchants were held in great repute by a needy king: this special one had more than once banqueted the King and Queen Anne of Denmark in this very house. The High School boys had a “barring out,” and actually held the High School in a state of siege, and Bailie Macmorran was sent to settle the matter, ordered the door to be forced open, and was then and there shot dead by one of the boys. It is said that the boy who fired was the son of the Chancellor of Caithness, and thus the ancestor of the earls of Caithness, and that his gentle blood saved him from his ever being discovered or brought to justice. Another thing to remember of Riddle’s Close is that, two centuries later, David Hume lived up a spiral stair on the east side of it, and there began to write his history of England.

Byers’ Close[39] brings one back from tragedy to comedy. In the old house overhanging this close on the east, with three richly carved windows at its polygonal end, there once lived that Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, who married Mary, Queen of Scots to Bothwell “with preachings.” A bit of old stair leading to a garden terrace that once overlooked the{72} Nor’ Loch, can be seen from Advocates’ Close. But in Byers’ Close Lord Coalstoun’s wig, to any one who has read the inimitable story in Chambers’s Traditions of Edinburgh, still remains, like the coffin of Mahomet, suspended in mid-air. The author tells how in that day (1757) it was the general custom for judges and advocates to don their wigs and gowns in their own houses, and proceed in state, with their cocked hats in their hands, when St. Giles’s bell sounded a quarter to nine, to the Parliament House. Earlier hours must have prevailed then than now, for we are led to understand that, though the legal brethren assembled at nine o’clock instead of at ten, they yet found time to lean over their windows after breakfasting, “enjoying the morning air, and perhaps discussing the news of the day, or the convivialities of the preceding evening, with a neighbouring advocate on the opposite side of the alley.” It so happened that one morning two very young women in the window immediately above that of Lord Coalstoun, were killing time by the somewhat cruel sport of swinging a kitten, suspended by a cord secured round it, up and down out of their window. As the kitten came down, the learned judge popped out his head. In a moment the maidens above saw it, and drew the kitten rapidly up,—but the judge’s wig came with it, firmly fixed in the little angry claws. Imagine the mirth tempered by dread at the upper window! But also imagine the feelings of the senator below,—his wig lifted as by magic from his head, and the morning air blowing “caller” on his exposed cranium! A wild{73} glance upward, and behold, his wig ascending heaven-ward without any visible means of support! The laugh, so to speak, was now on the cat’s side. “The perpetrators did afterwards get many injunctions from their parents never again to fish over the window, with such a bait, for honest men’s wigs”; and the incident was pardoned by Lord Coalstoun,—if not by the kitten.

In Advocates’ Close there existed in the seventeenth century, in an upper storey of the house of John Scougall the artist, a picture-gallery,—the first public exhibition of works of art, it is said, in Scotland; and preceding any such attempt of the same kind, either in England or France.[40]

On the south side of the street the Old Assembly Close and Bell’s Wynd are connected with another phase of polite society in bygone Edinburgh. It was in the Old Assembly Close that those rigid and awe-inspiring functions were held, presided over by some lady of rank and mistress of the unwritten laws of etiquette, of which Goldsmith and Captain Topham have both left such graphic accounts, and which form the theme of one of the chapters in Chambers’s Traditions of Edinburgh.

Then the Assembly Close received the fair:
Order and elegance presided there,
Each gay Right Honourable had her place,
To walk a minuet with becoming grace.{74}
No racing to the dance with rival hurry—
Such was thy sway, O famed Miss Nicky Murray![41]

Miss Nicky Murray was indeed famed. She was a sister of the Earl of Mansfield, and lived in Bailie Fyfe’s Close, and there “finished” young lady cousins from the country, and introduced them into society. She presided over the Assemblies, seated on a raised throne, and a wave of her fan silenced the musicians. “It is said that Miss Murray,” writes Mr. Robert Chambers, “on hearing a young lady’s name pronounced for the first time, would say: ‘Miss ——, of what?’ If no territorial addition could be made, she manifestly cooled.”

After 1758 the Assemblies were held in Bell’s Wynd, until the building of the New Town, and in 1824 the Assembly rooms, where Miss Nicky Murray had ruled, were burnt down.

Niddry Street stands nearly on the site of Niddry’s Wynd, of many memories, two of which throw light on the æsthetic side of the social life of Edinburgh. It was here that Lord Grange, a Lord of Session, lived. He had spirited his wife away to the wilds of the Hebrides, where he kept her in captivity till she lost her reason and died; but none the less was he deeply shocked at the immorality of the joyous Jacobite, Allan Ramsay, when he began the first circulating library in Edinburgh. Here St. Cecilia’s Hall still stands. This once beautiful oval concert room was built by Robert Mylne the{75} Master Mason in 1762,[42] after the model of the Theatre Farnese at Parma, and here the music-loving élite of Edinburgh gathered weekly, to listen and criticise. You were lost in Edinburgh, an English visitor complained, unless you were competent to talk about music all night, not only as an art, but as a science.

In Anchor Close,[43] on the opposite side of the High Street, was “Dawney Douglas’s Tavern,” where Burns drank and jested among the “Crochallan Fencibles.” Old Stamp Office Close,[43] almost next to it, has had a varied career. The first scene in its history is the brightest: “a long procession of sedans, containing Lady Eglintoune and her daughters, devolve from the Close, and proceed to the Assembly rooms ... eight beautiful women, conspicuous for their stature and carriage, all dressed in the splendid though formal fashions of that period, and inspired at once with the dignity of birth and the consciousness of beauty.”[3] The next scene in the Stamp Office Close is when it was the meeting-place of the famous Poker Club, whose members included all the literati of Edinburgh. In its early days this Club—a Jacobite institution—had an entrance fee of half-a-crown, and its members supped at fourpence-halfpenny per head; but in its{76} Stamp Office Close period it became more showy and less select. Stamp Office Close, like other closes in the Old Town, was once the scene of mock-royal state, when the Earl of Leven was Lord High Commissioner, and held his levées at this same tavern—Fortune’s Tavern—where the Poker Club had been wont to meet. And the last scene of all is one of squalid ghastliness; for it was at the head of Old Stamp Office Close that, in April 1812, a band of young hooligans, who had spent a night in riot and murder, were hanged on a gallows on the scene of their crimes.

On the south side of the High Street a fine old “fore-stair” remains, outside Cant’s Close; and between this and World’s End Close, where the High Street ends and the Canongate begins, and where formerly stood the Nether Bow Port, there are several interesting closes. First comes Strichen’s Close, where the Abbots of Melrose had their dwellings, and where, later on, Sir George Mackenzie lived. Next it is Blackfriars Street which once was Blackfriars Wynd, where was the palace of Cardinal Beaton, and where Queen Mary passed afoot with “licht torches” the night of Darnley’s murder. Next Blackfriars Street is South Gray’s Close, where the Scottish Mint, or “Cunyie House” was, after its removal from Holyrood in Queen Mary’s time until the Union; and here, therefore, were the Scottish coins struck, of native Scottish gold. Next to South Gray’s Close is Hyndford’s Close, where Lady Maxwell of Monreith lived, and her daughters (one of whom was afterwards{77} Duchess of Gordon) used gaily to ride up and down the High Street mounted on the pigs which had their humble dwellings under the fore-stairs. In Hyndford’s Close also lived the Countess of Balcarres, whose eldest daughter was Lady Anne Barnard (née Lindsay), the author of “Young Jamie lo’ed me weel,” and whose letters to Lord Melville from South Africa were lately published. Tweeddale Close, a door or two farther on, once the stately town residence of the Marquises of Tweeddale, is now indissolubly connected with the story of a mysterious crime,—the Begbie murder; for it was just within this close that a bank porter was stabbed to death on a dark November afternoon in 1806. The murderer, in spite of all the hue and cry and horror that followed on his crime, died undiscovered.

On the north side of the High Street, on either side of John Knox’s manse, are two edifices whose outside decorations usually excite the wonder of the stranger. One of these, Bailie Fyfe’s Close (where Miss Nicky Murray “finished” her country cousins in all the airs and graces of the eighteenth century), is the “Heave awa’ Tavern,” and bears the head of a young lad carved in stone, and the words “Heave awa’ chaps, I’m no dead yet!” It was here that, on Sunday morning, 24th November 1861, a fine old dwelling, dating from 1612, sank suddenly, and buried thirty-five people in its ruins. This is the event of which Stevenson speaks in his Picturesque Notes,—enveloping it in a haze of gloom and rhetoric, and somehow conveying the impression that the fall was{78} a judgment from Heaven on the city for some sin unknown, but grimly hinted—possibly its climate. But Stevenson omits the touch of heroism that crowns the tragedy: the boy whose brave young voice was heard under the beams and masonry that the rescuers were digging at—“Heave awa’ chaps, I’m no deid yet!” A building on the Canongate side of John Knox’s manse, a little way farther on, bears the enormous figure of what might be thought to be an Ethiopian, did not the name “Morocco Close” prove it intended for a Moor. There are several legends to account for this effigy; but all agree in giving an Edinburgh maiden (some make her the daughter of the Provost) to reign over the harem of the Sultan of Morocco. Some versions say that it was her brother who, having gained wealth by merchant dealings with his Morocco connexions, proudly decorated his house with an imaginary portrait of his brother-in-law, whom he has dressed in a necklace and a turban.

A little farther on is a close commonly called “Bible Close,” from the fact that it has a large open book carved over its entrance, on the pages of which is engraved a verse from the metrical version of the 133rd Psalm:—

Behold, how good a thing it is,
And how becoming well,
Together such as brethren are
In unity to dwell.

This is Shoemakers’ Land; and the sentiment was evidently a favourite one, for the Cordiners’ land in{79} West Port, and a court-house in Potterrow, also bore it.

It is in the Canongate that the most stately buildings remain, a fact not wonderful when one learns that in the eighteenth century, before the Scottish nobles “left their hame,” the Canongate included among its residents no less than two Dukes, sixteen Earls, two Countesses, seven Barons of the Realm, thirteen Baronets, four Commanders-in-Chief, seven Lords of Session, and five “eminent men”; not to mention a bank, a ladies’ school, and two inns. What material for romance! Some of the background remains, though the actors are gone.

On the south side of the Canongate are the three great houses: Moray House; a House “wi’oot a name” or a history, but with three carved Latin mottoes, and the date 1570 right across its frontage; and Queensberry House. Between these are several wonderfully interesting old buildings with rounded turrets containing turnpike stairs, lit by strongly barred windows.

On the north side of the Canongate, besides innumerable closes, all with interesting stories, are the Canongate Tolbooth, Whitehorse Inn, and the Canongate Parish Church.

Moray House was built in the reign of Charles I. by Lady Home (sister of the Countess of Moray), and is beautiful architecturally as well as interesting historically. Here Cromwell stayed during his first visit to Edinburgh in the summer of 1648; and the Cavalier party “talked very loud that he did communicate,”{80} in Moray House, to the Marquis of Argyle and other disloyal peers and clergy, “his design in reference to the King.” But Moray House is chiefly notorious for its Balcony Scene. On Saturday, 15th May 1650, the Marquis of Argyle was attending the marriage festivities of his son, Lord Lorn, and the Earl of Moray’s daughter; and on that day the great Montrose was dragged on a hurdle through the streets of Edinburgh to the Tolbooth, amid all the insults that the cruelty of the Covenanting rabble could devise.

He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
Who dares not put it to the touch
To gain or lose it all.[44]

As the procession passed Moray House, the entire wedding party stepped out on to the balcony to exult over the fallen hero. It was an incident worthy of the French Revolution—the narrow street packed with a yelling and execrating populace, and in the midst of them that pale, proud, beautiful face of the vanquished royalist, and in the balcony above the gaily dressed group of wedding guests. The enemies looked at each other, and before the steady dignity of Montrose’s gaze Argyle turned away.

It was in a summer-house in the garden of Moray House that some of the signatures were affixed to the Treaty of Union in 1707, though others were signed in the greater secrecy of a cellar in the High Street.

In Queensberry House a horrible tragedy took place{81}

THE CANONGATE TOLBOOTH, LOOKING WEST On the right of the picture rises the Canongate Tolbooth with its conical roof and projecting clock, reminding one strongly of French architecture. The spire showing in the distance belongs to the Tolbooth Church, at the top of Lawnmarket.


On the right of the picture rises the Canongate Tolbooth with its conical roof and projecting clock, reminding one strongly of French architecture. The spire showing in the distance belongs to the Tolbooth Church, at the top of Lawnmarket.

the day the Treaty of the Union was passed. All Edinburgh had gathered at the Parliament House, many in order to mob the promoters of the hated measure, and the Canongate was left silent and deserted. The Marquis of Queensberry was prominent among those who had brought about the Union; and, when he returned home in triumph with his family and household, it was to find that in their absence the gigantic idiot son, Lord Drumlanrig, had escaped from his darkened prison-room, had wandered through the empty house till he came to the kitchen, and had there found the little turnspit turning the joint roasting for dinner. He had taken the joint from the fire, killed and spitted the child, and was devouring the half-roasted body. “This horrid act of his child was, according to the common sort of people, the judgment of God upon him for his wicked concern in the Union.”[45]

A pleasanter memory of Queensberry House is of

... Kitty, beautiful and young,
And wild as colt untamed,

who was the patroness of the poet Gay.

The Canongate Tolbooth, with its barred windows, square tower, and turrets, forms to-day a picturesque and noticeable feature just where the Canongate ends.

Close to it is the gem of all the Edinburgh closes,—Whitehorse Close,—with its famous old inn with overhanging timber porches and its flight of steps{82} branching to left and right.[46] This very fine old close is still intact,—has indeed been lately renovated. There is a story told that it was here that the fourteen Covenanting lords gathered to ride to Berwick in obedience to King Charles’s summons, and the Edinburgh citizens filled the court and prevented them, lest evil communications should corrupt good manners, and Montrose was the only one who got through the press and rode to his King. But, as a matter of fact, Loudon and Lothian also went to Berwick; and it is probable that Argyle and the other ten were inspired by other motives than fear of a street crowd for their refusal to go. The palace of John Paterson, the fifth of the Established Episcopalian Bishops of Edinburgh, a stately old mansion with a stone turnpike stair, is within Whitehorse Close. It is still called “the Bishop’s palace,” though many who call it so are unaware what manner of Bishop had his home in it.

Almost the last building, before the street widens out in front of the palace, is the old Canongate Parish Church, where in Catholic days all the ancient Guilds had each its pew, and in whose “God’s acre” so many of Edinburgh’s most famous and worthy citizens lie at rest, at the foot of the town where they spent their days.{83}



I ken a toon, wa’d roond, and biggit weel,
Where the women’s a’ weel-faured, and the men’s brave and leal,
And ye ca’ ilka ane by a weel-kent name;
And when I gang to yon toon,—I’m gangin’ to my hame!
I ken a toon: it’s gey grim and auld;
It’s biggit o’ grey stane, and some finds it cauld;
It’s biggit up and doon on heichts beside the sea;
But gif I get to yon toon—I’se bide there till I dee!

THE cosmopolitan view is nowadays the fashionable one, and no man stoops to own to a national prejudice, a national accent, or even a national pride. It may be as well. Trafalgar might have been won had Nelson never advised his men to hate a Frenchman as they would the devil. Perhaps, and perhaps not. It sounds a trifle harsh that King Robert the Bruce, on the mere suspicion that Sir Piers de Lombard had “ane English hart,” “made him to be hangit and drawen.” Perhaps, and perhaps not. At any rate, our stay-at-home ancestors bore the stamp of their nationality on{84} character, thought, physiognomy, and speech. There were strong feelings in those days, that often found strong expression, and there were racy eccentricities and unsuppressed play of individuality; and all this gave colour and zest to local society. Before centralisation robbed Edinburgh of so many of her best citizens, her society was full of intellectual chiefs, of notabilities, and of “characters.” After all that has been said and sung of the beauty and romance of the grey metropolis, it is in great part due to the number and variety of remarkable persons who have been citizens of Edinburgh, or are in some way associated with it, that it wields so great a fascination and inspires so deep an interest.

The history of Edinburgh to the end of the eighteenth century is the history of the Old Town; and all the inhabitants till then were Old Town citizens. Few cities can enumerate so varied and brilliant a series. In the first place, of the unbroken line of Stuart sovereigns of Scotland, all, from the poet King James I. to Queen Mary, are famed alike for their beauty and their intellect. Their Edinburgh dwellings were the Castle and Holyrood. Then there is a long train of great Scottish nobles and clergy who lived in Edinburgh and helped to rule Scotland. There is a goodly company of learned men—prose writers, politicians, historians, “humanists,” mathematicians. In the earlier centuries they were mostly Catholic Churchmen; but, after the Reformation, they were Catholics, Presbyterian divines, or Episcopalians, or they were clustered about the University in unsectarian pasturages. There is a splendid procession{85}

GEORGE HERIOT’S HOSPITAL FROM THE NORTH-EAST This picture was made from the playing-grounds of the school, and shows part of the terrace which entirely surrounds this noble building. A portion of the Royal Infirmary appears in the distance.


This picture was made from the playing-grounds of the school, and shows part of the terrace which entirely surrounds this noble building. A portion of the Royal Infirmary appears in the distance.

of “makars,”[47] men and women, who were Edinburgh citizens. There is a bevy of Scottish queens of society, each in her generation; clever and brilliant women, who, if they did not contribute to literature themselves, were the patrons and inspirers of those who did. James V. enlivened Edinburgh by the foundation of the Court of Session, since which time her society has been dominated by lawyers, and many a Scottish judge has left his name for wit and oddity among the glories of the Parliament House. James VI. enriched Edinburgh by the foundation of a University; and thence onwards she counted among her citizens many a learned scholar of eccentric dress and speech. Edinburgh has had her architects, her philanthropists, her great soldiers, and her explorers; and she has always been especially noted for her printers and her publishers. Nor is Edinburgh, with her love for romance, likely to forget her illustrious criminals. To enumerate merely the names of the notable citizens of all sorts would form a small volume in itself: it must suffice to hurry through the centuries, picking out a name at random here and there, and especially those connected with houses still standing in the Old Town of Edinburgh. So-called “improvements” have swept away many of Edinburgh’s historic possessions, among them Sandilands’ Close, with the old mansion said to have been the residence of Bishop Kennedy.[48] This name carries one back to the days of James II. and the early part of James III.’s reign, when Bishop Kennedy, one of the most important figures in{86} Scottish history, was the great man in Scotland, and he and the Earl of Angus were struggling against Mary of Gueldres, the Queen-Mother, for supremacy. Scotland was then a fighting nation; and bale-fires were erected on hill-tops, in sight of one another, from the Borders to Stirling and the North, and were watched day and night, ready to bring Scotland under arms within two hours of any hostile movement of the English. Edinburgh was thronged with citizens clad according to James II.’s arbitrary regulations: its women of humbler class muffled, as they went to kirk or market, “under penalty of escheat of their kerchiefs”; its Bailies’ wives in “clothes of silk and costly scarlet and the fur of martens”; its labourers in grey or white, and on “hailie daies” in light-blue or green or red. A gay little town it must have been,—a gay little town, safe inside its encircling wall, with the bells of St. Giles’s telling every one the hour, and the Royal Standard waving on the Castle. Law, so omnipresent in Edinburgh nowadays, was then represented by nine persons meeting twice a year to administer justice. Education was going on in divers ways; was not the royal child learning the love of peaceable arts and crafts, and that respect for artists and craftsmen that was to prove his undoing with his warlike nobles? The upper windows of many of the city homes must have commanded a prospect of trees and broom growing on the hillsides beyond the city, where the landowners were bidden by law to plant and to preserve the game, where wolves prowled by night, where any Englishman was lawfully the captive of his captor, and{87} where a sturdy beggar or a wandering bard might be nailed by his ear to any convenient tree. A pleasant prospect from one’s back windows!

Through the reigns of James IV. and James V. Edinburgh possessed many brilliant citizens. There was the poet William Dunbar, James IV.’s friar of St. Francis, and his “King’s Messenger.” With Flodden, Dunbar totally disappears,—all his poetic fire, his droll humour, his Scottish force,—buried in obscurity and silence. It will never be known whether “the auld grey horse, Dunbar” was patriotically amongst those who followed their royal master and—

... on Flodden’s trampled sod,
For their king and for their country
Rendered up their souls to God,

or whether he survived and got his benefice at last, from the hands of the widowed Queen, or whether he died in broken-hearted poverty. Gavin Douglas, when he was Provost of St. Giles’s, lived in the Provost’s lodging beside the Church. Afterwards, when he became Bishop of Dunkeld, he lived in the palace of the Bishops of Dunkeld, in the Cowgate. The Cowgate was then a fashionable and but half-built suburb, lying below the main ridge of the city to the south, and communicating with the main city above it by numerous wynds and closes. The Flodden wall included the Cowgate, which the earlier wall had not done. Here were the palaces of many great Church dignitaries and many nobles,—the palace of the Bishops{88} of Dunkeld, the town mansion of the Earl of Angus, (who in James III.’s reign was Gavin Douglas’s nephew); and in Blackfriars Wynd, which leads from the Cowgate up to the High Street, was the palace of the Archbishops of Glasgow (in Gavin Douglas’s day occupied by the famous Archbishop James Beaton). The memory of the great street fight known as “Cleanse the Causeway” clings round the sites of those three houses. This was the most famous of all the many fights that have taken place in the streets of Edinburgh, and was a political contest between the Douglases and the Hamiltons. From a conference held in the house of the Earl of Angus, the head of the Douglases, there hurried forth Bishop Gavin Douglas, his uncle, bearing a message from his nephew to the Earl of Arran, head of the Hamiltons, “to caution them against violence.” Finding them intent on violence, he appealed to his fellow-cleric, the Archbishop of Glasgow, who was with them. “On my conscience, I know nothing of the matter!” Archbishop Beaton assured Bishop Douglas, and struck his breast in emphasis. But the blow returned a rattling sound, betraying that the reverend Prelate was wearing armour below his rochet. “Your conscience clatters,[49] my Lord!” answered Gavin Douglas. So the peace mission failed, and the Hamiltons streamed through all the narrow wynds leading from the Cowgate into the High Street, and there found the Douglases awaiting them in a compact mass, and amid cries of “A Douglas! A{89} Douglas!” and “A Hamilton! A Hamilton!” the slaughter began. When the causeways and the closes were piled with the dead, and the battle had been won by the Douglases, the Earl of Arran cut his way through his enemies and escaped by swimming the Nor’ Loch on a collier’s horse. Archbishop Beaton sought sanctuary in Blackfriars, and was dragged out from behind the Altar, and was saved, not by his clattering armour, but by the timely intercession of Gavin Douglas.

The next Scottish poet after Gavin Douglas was Lindsay, who was Lyon-King-at-Arms to James V. He also was a notable inhabitant of Edinburgh, and, like Gavin, has left poems addressed to it:—

Adieu, Edinburgh! thou heich triumphant toun,
Within whose bounds richt blithefull have I been,
Of true merchands the root of this regioun
Most ready to receive Court, King, and Queen!
Thy policy and justice may be seen:
Were devotioun, wisdom, and honesty,
And credence tint, they micht be found in thee.

James V.’s widow, Mary of Guise, for six years Queen Regent of Scotland, had her palace and her oratory on the north side of the Castle Hill, where she was well protected by the guns of the Castle. It was accessible through narrow closes until 1846, with some remains of its former grandeur to be seen in lofty ceilings, in mouldings and carvings, the words “Laus et Honor Deo” and a monogram of the Virgin on the residence, and “Nosce Teipsum” and the date 1557 on{90} the oratory. Now, its place knoweth it no more, and the United Free Assembly Hall reigns in its stead.

But, though the palace of the Frenchwoman, who struggled so hard against the wave of the Reformation as it swept over Scotland, is gone, the manse of the Reformer, her enemy, John Knox, remains,—not only preserved from destruction, but turned into a species of museum, with a custodian to click on the electric light. John Knox’s house[50] forms one of the popular sights of Edinburgh, and is a conspicuous and picturesque object, standing half-way down the High Street, with its angle of wooden frontage jutting out into the street, and its “fore-stair” and its gables. Over the door is the half-obliterated legend “Lufe God abufe al and yi nychtbour as yi self,” and there is a small effigy of Knox preaching, his hand pointing to a sun on which is engraved the name of God in English, in Greek, and in Latin. The house is three-storeyed. It is supposed that the Reformer occupied the first storey, where are shown the window from which he is said to have preached to the populace below, and his tiny study, with the old Scottish pin or risp on the door.

In James VI.’s reign there was many a notable inhabitant of Edinburgh; though James carried off some of them to England, to enliven the English Court, as he carried off the most valuable of the Holyrood pictures, and everything else he could lay his hands on. There was George Heriot, “Jingling Geordie”; and there was “Tam o’ the Cowgate,” the first Earl of{91}

QUADRANGLE OF GEORGE HERIOT’S HOSPITAL The picture shows parts of the north and east sides of the Quadrangle. In the centre of the north side is the entrance doorway to the chapel, above which rises an oriel window combined with a half octagonal tower, peculiar and picturesque in construction. An octagonal tower of five storeys is seen in the north-east angle of the court.


The picture shows parts of the north and east sides of the Quadrangle. In the centre of the north side is the entrance doorway to the chapel, above which rises an oriel window combined with a half octagonal tower, peculiar and picturesque in construction. An octagonal tower of five storeys is seen in the north-east angle of the court.

Haddington; and there was George Buchanan. George Heriot’s shop, said to have been but seven feet square, was the centre one of three small shops in a narrow passage leading from the door of the old Tolbooth to the “Laigh Council House,” where the Signet Library now stands. It remained in existence until 1809. His name was carved on the architrave of the door, and in the booth were found his forge and bellows, and the hollow stone of the furnace, with the stone cover to extinguish it at night. These were presented to the governors of Heriot’s Hospital. It was in this tiny booth, the story goes, that the goldsmith entertained the King with a “costly fire.” Heriot had been to Holyrood, and had found the King sitting by a fire of cedar wood, and had commented on the pleasant odour the burning of it made. Sordid King Jamie replied that it was as costly as it was pleasant. Heriot immediately answered that if the King would come and visit him he would show him a costlier fire. The King went, only to find a fire of ordinary fuel burning merrily in the little booth. But Jingling Geordie took from his press a bond for two thousand pounds he had lent the King, and laid it on the flames, and then inquired whether the Holyrood cedar or this formed the more costly fuel.

“Yours, most certainly, Master Heriot,” said his monarch.

The first Earl of Haddington lived, as King James’s nickname tells, in the Cowgate, and the house stood there till about 1829. Tam o’ the Cowgate was a{92} learned judge, and, according to the ideas of that time, a man of such enormous wealth that it was popularly thought he had found the philosopher’s stone. One evening, when he was sitting with friend and flask, tired after a hard day, clad in an easy undress of nightgown, cap, and slippers, he heard a sudden uproar in the street. The students of the newly founded University and the boys of the High School were indulging in a “bicker”; and the University was winning. The Earl of Haddington had been a High School boy, and, as an old hunter becomes restive in his cart when he hears the distant chase, so the learned Privy Councillor leapt up, rushed forth, rallied his old school, and, in his nightgown, cap, and slippers, led the charge and pursued the routed students through the town and out at the West Port, locked the city gate on them, and then returned home to his unfinished flask and his waiting crony.

Another friend of King James was the Earl of Mar, who had been his fellow-pupil with George Buchanan. Him the King dubbed a “Jock o’ Sklates”; and when a marriage between the two powerful families of Mar and Haddington was contemplated, King James cried out, “The Lord haud grup o’ me! If Tam o’ the Cowgate’s son marry Jock o’ Sklates’s daughter, what’s to come o’ me?”

George Buchanan, the humanist and reformer, was a citizen of Edinburgh for many years. He was not one of those whom his royal pupil took with him across the Border. It was in a first-floor room in{93} Kennedy’s Close,—a close no longer existing,—that George Buchanan died, in his seventy-sixth year. When he was dying, he was visited by Andrew Melville and his nephew, and was discovered giving a first reading lesson to a small boy—“a, b, ab; b, a, ba.” When his visitors expressed mild wonder at his occupation, the dying scholar, perhaps with some gleam of remembrance of his own boyhood in Dumbartonshire, replied, “Better this than stealin’ nowts.” Andrew Melville had brought with him some of the proof sheets of Buchanan’s Latin history, and—the small boy having probably slipped willingly off to play—these were discussed. They contained some allusions to his former pupil, the absent King James, now so alienated from the doctrines of Buchanan; and Andrew Melville hinted gently that these might be indiscreet, and productive of trouble. “Are they true?” demanded the historian. To Melville’s mind they had this quality. “Then I’ll bide his dreid and a’ his kin’s!”

In 1550 there was born at Merchiston Castle, on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh, John Napier, the great mathematician, the inventor of logarithms, the chief representative of science in Scotland in his generation, and the correspondent of Kepler. He died in 1617 in the castle where he had been born; and this castle still remains, and none can pass the gateway in the wall, and glance through across the green sward to the old stone battlements, without remembering Napier of Merchiston.{94}

During the reigns of James VI. and Charles I. an eminent Scotsman, of another, but equally patriotic, kind was living within a few miles of Edinburgh. This was Drummond of Hawthornden, Episcopalian and royalist, scholar and gentleman, who spent his meditative hours, wrote his poems, loved books and music and the æsthetic possibilities of existence and every form of ennobling beauty,—“all great arts and all good philosophies,” in his—

Dear wood, and you, sweet solitary place,
Where from the vulgar I estranged live.

And “all through the years of his residence at Hawthornden must not the seven miles of road between Hawthornden and Edinburgh have been his most familiar ride or walk? Every other week must he not have been actually in Edinburgh for hours and days together, visiting his Edinburgh relatives and friends, seen in colloquy with some of them on the causey of the old High Street near St. Giles’s Church, and known to have his favourite lounge in that street in the shop of Andro Hart, bookseller and publisher, just opposite the Cross?”[51]

Another notable citizen of this reign was Sir Thomas Hope, King’s Advocate. He was the grandson of that John de Hope, of the family of Des Houblons in Picardy, who had come over with Madeleine, James V.’s first queen, from France, in{95} 1537, and from whom are descended, either directly or indirectly, many of the good old Scottish families,—the Hopes, the Hopetouns, some of the Erskines, the Bruces of Kinross, and others. John de Hope had been a staunch Catholic; but his son, Edward, was “chairged to waird in the Castell” for his usage of the priests; and the grandson, Sir Thomas Hope, King’s Advocate, was one of the two lawyers who drew up the National League and Covenant. He lived in a big mansion in the Cowgate, which he built in 1616, with a wide arched entrance, a central stair, oak-panelled rooms, and decorated ceilings. The house was pulled down and the Public Library was built in 1890 on its site; but the carved inscription, TECVM. HABITA (from the fourth satire of Persius) which was above the lintel in the dwelling of the old Covenanting Advocate, is now preserved above an inner doorway of the Public Library. This Sir Thomas Hope had several sons, three of whom were judges; and there is an interesting portrait of him, in the possession of one of his descendants, representing him as wearing his legal robe and a kind of laurel wreath,—for it was not considered fitting, in those days of parental dignity, for a father to plead bareheaded before his sons.

Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh was King’s Advocate later on in the century, in the reigns of Charles II. and James VII., and his house, which had formerly been the “lodging” of the Abbots of Melrose, stood in Strichen’s Close, then called Rosehaugh Close,{96} off the High Street, and had a large garden down to the Cowgate, and up part of the opposite slope. Sir George Mackenzie was a man of letters, and the friend and correspondent of Dryden, and the founder of the Advocates’ Library; but, ex officio, he was the prosecutor of the Covenanters,—and this is all that is known of him in the popular local mind. He is buried in Greyfriars’ Churchyard,—where the Covenant was signed on the flat tombstones,—and in old days little boys used to prove their daring by calling out at the door of his mausoleum—

Bluidy Mackingie, come oot if ye daur!
Lift the sneck, and draw the bar!

But they never waited so see if their invitation were to be accepted.

It was in this gloomy refuge that James Hay, a youth of sixteen, under sentence of death for robbery, hid for six weeks after escaping from the Tolbooth. He was an old Heriot Hospital boy, and the other Herioters loyally braved Mackenzie’s ghost, and fed their schoolmate till the hue and cry was passed.

One other Edinburgh figure of the seventeenth century must be mentioned, the notorious Major Weir, whose story is said to have suggested the character of Manfred to Byron. He lived in “the sanctified bends of the Bow,” which was, at the end of the seventeenth century, a nest of pharisaical fanatics known as “Bow-head saints.” Of these Major Weir was one. He had “a grim countenance and a big nose”; he wore a black{97}

THE MARTYRS’ MONUMENT IN THE GRAVEYARD OF GREYFRIARS’ To the left of the spire of the Tolbooth Church, in the centre of the picture, and next the city wall, stands the Martyrs’ Monument, in front of which is the figure of a girl; above the figure appear some houses in Candlemaker Row. The low building on the extreme left of the picture is the old guardhouse. The duty of the guard was to prevent the stealing of bodies from the graveyard. The elaborate monument on the right of the picture is one of many erected in this graveyard during the early part of the eighteenth century.


To the left of the spire of the Tolbooth Church, in the centre of the picture, and next the city wall, stands the Martyrs’ Monument, in front of which is the figure of a girl; above the figure appear some houses in Candlemaker Row. The low building on the extreme left of the picture is the old guardhouse. The duty of the guard was to prevent the stealing of bodies from the graveyard. The elaborate monument on the right of the picture is one of many erected in this graveyard during the early part of the eighteenth century.

cloak and carried a black staff; he was “notoriously regarded among the Presbyterian strict sect”; and “at private meetings he prayed to admiration.” In short, he was a pattern of sanctity, and was known among the “Holy sisters” of the Bow as “Angelical Thomas.” Alas! Angelical Thomas was not what he seemed. He never broke the Sabbath, but then he broke every other commandment in the Decalogue. When he was nearly seventy a severe illness led him to confess a long list of peculiarly horrible crimes. Perhaps, in this more prosaic age, the Major’s form of religion, his illness, his crimes and his confessions would all have been attributed to the same cause, and have landed him comfortably in an asylum for the insane. As he lived in the good old times, he was strangled and burnt between Edinburgh and Leith; whilst his sister Grizel, in deference to her sex, was gently hanged in the Grassmarket. Round the names of Major Weir and his sister a hundred gruesome legends sprang up, and “fearsome sichts were seen” in the West Bow; and the house that he had occupied there remained uninhabited and haunted until 1878, when it was pulled down.

The eighteenth century in Edinburgh, like the seventeenth, teems with so many names that it is hardly possible to mention all of even the most notable. There was Edinburgh’s Horace, Allan Ramsay, the poet and wig-maker, who scandalised the “unco guid” by bravely aiding and abetting in all that made for innocent joyousness, setting up a circulating library, doing his best to provide the town with a theatre, and losing money thereby,{98} and encouraging the Assemblies and writing verses in their praise. His shop, where all the literati gathered, was beside the city Cross; but his quaint round house was on the Castle hill, and was long known in Edinburgh as “the Goose Pie.” It is still standing, but is incorporated in a large mass of new building, so that its characteristic shape is lost. Allan Ramsay’s son was another Allan Ramsay, and was portrait-painter to George III., and his son was General John Ramsay; so that the Goose Pie was owned in turn by three generations, all notable Edinburgh citizens.

Those were the days of Jacobite Edinburgh, when Jacobite sentiments were breathed in every close, and Jacobite sympathies were cherished in many old families. When the King’s health was drunk the goblet was silently passed over the caraffe of water to signify which King was meant, and portraits of the young Chevalier hung in many secret places of honour. The story of one of these Jacobite queens of society, who were generally also either authors themselves or patrons of art and letters, is told in Chambers’s Traditions of Edinburgh. Susanna, Countess of Eglintoun, was the daughter of Sir Archibald Kennedy, and the grand-daughter of Lord Newark, the Covenanting General. She became, when a very beautiful girl, the third wife of the ancient Lord Eglintoun, whose previous wives had left him without a male heir. She had been wooed by Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, who had sent her love-verses concealed in a flute, discoverable only to herself when she put her lips to it. But Sir{99} Archibald, when asked for his daughter’s hand, consulted his old friend Lord Eglintoun on the subject. “Bide a wee, Sir Archie, my wife’s very sickly,” was the advice given—and taken. The daughter’s own feelings are matters of conjecture, not of history. Susanna Kennedy became Countess of Eglintoun about the time of the Union, and lived in Stamp Office Close, where seven daughters (who were afterwards to form one of the sights of Edinburgh as they were carried in sedan-chairs to the Assemblies) only decided the old peer to divorce his wife. The intention was diverted by the birth of a son. Having reigned as one of the queens of Edinburgh society for over a quarter of a century, and the death of her ancient lord in 1729 having made her a widow, Lady Eglintoun carried her social triumphs to London in 1730, where she was “much satisfied with the honour and civilities shewn her ladyship by the Queen and all the royal family.” In her old age Lady Eglintoun retained her loyalty to the house of Stuart, for it was told of her that a portrait of Prince Charlie was hung in her room so that it should be the first thing that met her sight in the mornings. And the only request she ever refused her son (10th Lord Eglintoun) was when he wished her to walk as a peeress in the Coronation of George III. She was a patroness of poets—if they were Tories (did she ever remember those verses inside a flute?); and to her Allan Ramsay, as Jacobite at heart as ever she was, dedicated his Gentle Shepherd. It was not in Stamp Office Close, but at her dower house, Auchans Castle,{100} near Irvine, that she received Boswell and Johnson on their return from the Hebrides. She was then in her eighty-fifth year, and she and the lexicographer found their Church and State principles congenial, and the old lady told him she might have been his mother, and now adopted him. She kissed him at parting, which, it is said, made a lasting impression on him. The next curiosity the old Countess adopted was a large collection of rats, which she also succeeded in taming.

To the Jacobite gentlewomen of Edinburgh we owe many of our best-known Scottish songs. Baroness Nairne was of the old Jacobite and Episcopalian family of the Oliphants of Gask, and lived at Duddingston. Her house still stands, and is called Nairne Lodge. Mrs. Cockburn, the author of “The Flowers of the Forest,” lived at one time in a close on the Castle Hill, and then on the first floor of a house at the end of Crichton Street, with windows looking along Potterrow. She, it may be remembered, was a friend of Scott’s mother, and wrote a prophetic letter about him when he was a child of six.

Adam Smith, after he came to Edinburgh in 1778 as Commissioner of Customs, lived for twelve years, till he died in 1790, in Panmure’s Close at the foot of the Canongate, and he is buried in Canongate Churchyard.

David Hume, born in Edinburgh in 1711, was one of her notable inhabitants through nearly the whole of the eighteenth century. He was a rolling stone, for{101} from 1751 to 1753 his home was in Riddle’s Land; thence he flitted to Jack’s Land, Canongate, was there for nine years, and deserted that for James’s Court. After this, like every one else, he joined in the rush to the New Town.{102}



Fareweel, Edinburgh, and a’ your daughters fair;
Your Palace in the shelter’d glen, your Castle in the air;
Your rocky brows, your grassy knowes, and eke your mountains bauld;
Were I to tell your beauties a’, my tale wad ne’er be tauld.
Now fareweel, Edinburgh, where happy I hae been;
Fareweel, Edinburgh, Caledonia’s Queen!
Prosperity to Edinburgh, wi’ every rising sun,
And blessings be on Edinburgh, till Time his race has run.
Scottish Ballad.[52]

WHEN James VI. returned to his native land after fourteen years of reigning in England, he brought with him a group of English nobles. Very anxious must King James have been about the impression that Edinburgh would make on these new friends of his—as anxious as he had been twenty-eight years before when he was bringing back his bride, Anne of Denmark, and wrote to the Provost “for God’s sake see all things are richt at our hamecoming.” This frenzied request{103} applied not only to the street “middens,” for which Edinburgh was so famous then, but also to the hospitalities to be shown. James need have had no fear about the hospitalities, whatever qualms he felt regarding the middens. With the Scotch, hospitality is an instinct; and in Edinburgh they have both time and inclination to obey it. Among the English nobles who attended James in 1617, and who must have wandered curiously about the old capital, and wondered at her long steep street, her tall lands and her mighty castle, and sniffed her odoriferousness superciliously, and fled in their silks and their feathers before the warning cries of “Gardez l’eau!” and who were given the freedom of the city, and whose names are therefore enrolled among her burgesses, was the Earl of Pembroke, the friend of Shakespeare, the supposed hero of the mysterious Sonnets.

Had Shakespeare himself been one of Edinburgh’s famous visitors? The obscurity that envelops his life veils this also. Companies of English comedians came to Scotland in 1599, and again in 1601; and Mr. Charles Knight holds that Shakespeare was with this latter company, and that Macbeth is his comment on his Scottish experience. But was he in Edinburgh? It is one of those questions about him that must ever remain unanswered; yet, as the Scotsman said in maintaining the argument that Shakespeare was born in Paisley, “his abeelities would justify the inference.” Other English poets have left clearer records behind them. The year after King James and his courtiers had{104} returned south, Taylor the Water-poet, the “Penniless Pilgrim,” came to Edinburgh; and at the same time Ben Jonson was six months in Scotland, most of which time was spent in the vicinity of Edinburgh. Ben Jonson lived at Leith, and paid his famous week’s visit to Drummond of Hawthornden, and wrote a pastoral drama about Loch Lomond, which no doubt included a rapturous comment on Edinburgh, but which unfortunately perished in the flames when the poet’s house was burnt down after his return home. All the comment Edinburgh can claim from Ben Jonson is the length of his stay there, and the compliments he sent, in a letter to Drummond, to the various friends he had made, and by whom he had been hospitably entertained; but Edinburgh had known how to honour literature, for she had extended to Ben Jonson, during his visit, the public recognition of giving him the freedom of the city.

Taylor the Water-poet has well repaid the pleasure his visit to Edinburgh evidently gave his amiable soul, for he has left not only many a kindly comment, but a legacy of a vivid description of the Edinburgh of that day,—the Edinburgh, therefore, that Ben Jonson saw, and that James VI. showed to his English guests.[53]

Almost a hundred years later Defoe was in Edinburgh, editing the Edinburgh Courant. This must have been after his release from the State prosecution that followed his publication “The Shortest Way with Dissenters,” and that brought him to prison, the{105} pillory, and temporary ruin. He is supposed to have lived in Salamander Land in the High Street (so called because it survived fires to right of it and fires to left of it). Wilson throws doubt on this; but Defoe must have lived somewhere, and it may as well have been in Salamander Land as anywhere else,—especially as the land is now no longer existing to deny it. Defoe has left his comment, quoted by Mr. Robert Chambers in his Walks in Edinburgh. The Old Town, he said, “presents the unique appearance of one vast castle.”

Steele visited Edinburgh in 1717, and gave the mendicants of the city a supper in Lady Stair’s Close, and afterwards said he had “drunk enough of native drollery to compose a comedy.”

Twelve years later the poet Gay spent a few weeks in Edinburgh. He came in the cortège of his patroness, that witty and eccentric Duchess of Queensberry who had already been sung to and of by Pope and Prior. It is said that Gay lived in an attic opposite Queensberry House in the Canongate; but that he wrote the “Beggar’s Opera” there is denied by Mr. Robert Chambers as an “entirely gratuitous assumption.” But there was an alehouse as well as an attic opposite the home of his patroness, and Mr. Chambers evidently did not think it an entirely gratuitous assumption that the poet spent much of his time at “Jennie Ha’s,” drinking the claret from the butt for which she was so famed. On the first flat of “Creech’s Land,” at the end of the Luckenbooths, was Allan Ramsay’s circulating library, the rendezvous of all the Edinburgh literati. Here,{106} during the weeks of Gay’s visit, might often have been seen “a pleasant little man in a tye wig.” This was the author of—

How happy could I be with either,
Were t’other dear charmer away!

who had walked up from the Canongate to enjoy a friendly interchange of ideas with the author of—

Wae’s me! For baith I canna get,
To ane by law we’re stented;
Then I’ll draw cuts, and take my fate,
And be with ane contented.

And Allan Ramsay would point out to Gay the leading citizens as they lounged and gossiped round the Cross opposite the library; and Gay in his turn would ask for explanations of Scottish words and customs, that he might, on his return, be able to enlighten Pope, who was already an admirer of the “Gentle Shepherd.”

In the middle of the eighteenth century Goldsmith was a medical student in Edinburgh, living, it is said, in College Wynd, and writing amusing accounts of the dulness and formality and drollery of the Assemblies. An Edinburgh tailor’s account for the year 1753, found by the late Mr. David Laing in the pages of an old ledger, allows one to imagine Goldie gracing Edinburgh in a suit of sky-blue satin and black velvet, and a “superfine small hatt” which bore “8s. worth of silver hatt lace.” Mr. Filby the tailor charged the modest sum of £3:6:6 for a “superfine high claret-coloured” cloth suit; but possibly he might have charged double that{107} amount or half that amount with equal profit to himself, for the account was “carried over,” and no ledger remains to tell the tale.[54]

Tobias Smollett paid two visits to Edinburgh, the last in 1766, when he stayed with his sister, Mrs. Telfer of Scotstoun, in St. John Street. This street, then inhabited by some of the aristocracy of Edinburgh, still retains a distinguished look; and much of the fine old architecture remains, including Mrs. Telfer’s home, which was in the first floor of the house over the great archway through which the street is entered. This house, which was previously the residence of the Earl of Hopetoun, attracts the eye immediately by its turnpike stair, occupying the corner of the street, beside the arched entrance. Smollett was introduced by Dr. Carlyle of Inveresk to Edinburgh literary celebrities, among them Home, who had so scandalised his brother clergy by writing a play,—“The Douglas”; and, like Gay thirty years before, he haunted Allan Ramsay’s library,—in Smollett’s day the property of Alexander Kincaid the publisher. Humphrey Clinker contains all Smollett’s comments on Edinburgh society, men, and manners.

Three years later, in 1769, Benjamin Franklin visited Edinburgh. He was given the freedom of the city, and was accorded the usual hospitable welcome from all the chief people of the town.

On a Saturday evening in August 1773, Dr. Johnson’s huge figure filled the doorway of the old Whitehorse Inn{108} in Boyd’s Close, and presently Boswell, in his house in James’s Court, received the following note:—

Saturday night.

Mr. Johnson sends his compliments to Mr. Boswell, being newly arrived at Boyd’s.

Boswell hurried off to welcome the traveller, and found him roaring passionately at the waiter, who had put sugar into the lemonade with his fingers. Out into the hot August evening the two friends went, and walked up the High Street arm-in-arm to James’s Court, where Mrs. Boswell waited to administer tea to her ponderous rival. “Boswell has very handsome and spacious rooms,” Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale, “level with the ground on one side of the house, and on the other, four stories high.” Here Mr. and Mrs. Boswell invited all the people of brilliant achievement in the city to meet him,—Dr. Robertson, Dr. Blair, Mrs. Murray of Henderland, Allan Ramsay the artist, Beattie the poet, Lord Kames, Lord Hailes, and many others; but among them was the Duchess of Douglas, “talking broad Scotch with a paralytic voice,” and Dr. Johnson showed open preference for her society. What all these people thought of Dr. Johnson is suggested by the wit of Henry Erskine, the well-known Edinburgh advocate, brother of the Earl of Buchan. After much inimitable politeness and good-humour during his presentation to Johnson, he slipped a shilling into Boswell’s hand for the sight of “your English bear.” Mrs. Boswell (née Montgomery, one of the Eglintoun family) was equally{109}

OLD HOUSES IN CANONGATE In the foreground of the picture are the piers and entrance gates of the Canongate Parish Church. Past the shaft of the cross on the other side of the Canongate is the opening into Bakehouse Close. The timber-fronted houses with their gables present as picturesque an appearance as any in Edinburgh.


In the foreground of the picture are the piers and entrance gates of the Canongate Parish Church. Past the shaft of the cross on the other side of the Canongate is the opening into Bakehouse Close. The timber-fronted houses with their gables present as picturesque an appearance as any in Edinburgh.

witty and even more frank. She had certainly some provocation, because, as Boswell himself tells, Dr. Johnson had, among other habits, one of turning the candles upside down when they did not burn brightly enough. “I have often seen a bear led by a man,” the much-tried hostess told her infatuated lord, “but I never before saw a man led by a bear.”

Boswell not only invited all Edinburgh to meet Dr. Johnson, but took Dr. Johnson to all the sights of the city. On Sunday, after they had attended service in the Episcopal chapel in Blackfriars Wynd, Johnson saw Holyrood; and, under the guidance of Principal Robertson, he and Boswell went over the University. Boswell also took his guest to the island of Inchkeith, and to stay with Sir Alexander Dick of Prestonfield for a few days, and they dined and drank tea at the old inn at Roslin, and

Went to Hawthornden’s fair scene by night,
Lest e’er a Scottish tree should wound his sight.

Many of Dr. Johnson’s comments on things Scottish were quite genial; but two terse ones expressed decided disapproval. “No, Sir!” he bellowed, when some one proposed to introduce him to David Hume. And again, “I can smell you in the dark!” he grumbled to Boswell, no doubt most truthfully, as they walked through the city.

A year after Dr. Johnson’s visit there came to Edinburgh and its hospitalities another Englishman. Captain Topham cannot be called a famous visitor, but{110} he deserves mention, both because of his charming little book, Letters from Edinburgh, written in the Years 1774 and 1775, and because of the artistic contrast he forms to Dr. Johnson. Captain Topham must have re-established his country’s character for good manners in the opinion of Edinburgh citizens. He had not compiled a dictionary; neither had he “kept a school and ca’d it an academy,” as old Lord Auchinleck, Boswell’s father, said of Johnson; but he was a wide-minded man of good breeding, had been educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, had travelled, and held a commission in the Guards, and seems to have been equipped for enjoying social existence, and adding to its enjoyment by others. He was by no means sparing in his comments; his humour would make that impossible. Amid all his graphic descriptions it is difficult to choose what comments to quote. Of the city itself he says, “The situation of Edinburgh is probably as extraordinary as one can well imagine for a metropolis. The immense hills, on which great part of it is built, though they make the views uncommonly magnificent, not only in many places render it impassable for carriages, but very fatiguing for walking.” He tells of the bad inns, and here again his good-humour saves him. No swearing at the waiter without sugar-tongs, but—“Well, said I to my friend (for you must know that I have more patience on these occasions than wit on any other) there is nothing like seeing men and manners; perhaps we may be able to repose ourselves at some coffeehouse.” He describes the amusements,—the theatre,{111} the assemblies and dances, the oyster cellars, the funerals, and the executions. The Kirk and devotion, the University and education, trade and the booksellers, all are spoken of. He gives a warm picture of a very friendly and hospitable town, simple in its ways and hours and incomes and requirements, but brimful of intellect and cultured love of letters and music, and peopled by a kindly, couthy race, with very strongly marked characters, dwelling together in unity at very close quarters.

The only social error Captain Topham seems to have made was when a lady invited him to an oyster supper in a cellar. He “agreed immediately,” but complains pathetically to his correspondent, “You will not think it very odd that I should expect, from the place where the appointment was made, to have had a partie tête-à-tête. I thought I was bound in honour to keep it a secret, and waited with great impatience till the hour arrived. When the clock struck the hour fixed on, away I went, and inquired if the lady were there. ‘Oh yes,’ cried the woman, ‘she has been here an hour or more.’ I had just time to curse my want of punctuality when the door opened, and I had the pleasure of being ushered in, not to one lady as I had expected, but to a large and brilliant company of both sexes, most of whom I had the honour of being acquainted with.”

But even Captain Topham’s amiable temper has its limits. Of two things he speaks evil,—of his predecessor, Dr. Johnson, and of a haggis.

In November 1786 Burns paid his first and famous{112} visit to Edinburgh. He came, dejected, unknown, his mind hovering on the thoughts of intended exile; and in a moment, as it were, Edinburgh recognised him, and flashed on all her lights to welcome him and do his genius honour. There followed the most brilliant and triumphant period of all his short life. He was fêted and lionised by all ranks of society; the magnates and the celebrities, the literary and the learned, the high-born and the low-born, the fashionable and the gay, beautiful women and great men, vied with each other in entertaining this wonderful poet with the rustic garb and the dark eyes. Burns was the honoured and petted guest of every man and woman of note in Edinburgh—of Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, of Sir John Whiteford, of the Ferriers at 15 George Street, of the eccentric Lord Monboddo and his “angel” daughter at 13 St. John Street, and of a hundred more. He rollicked in Dowie’s tavern in Libberton’s Wynd, or, among the “Crochallan Fencibles,” listened to Dawney Douglas quavering the minor pathos of his Gaelic song, “Cro Chalien.” He stood bareheaded beside the unmarked grave of Fergusson in the Canongate Churchyard, and knelt and kissed the spot, and sent to ask if the “Ayrshire ploughman” might erect a stone to the memory of the poet to whom he owed so much. He read aloud his “Cottar’s Saturday Night” before the young Duchess of Gordon and the lovely Miss Burnet, and bewildered them with his fascination and his genius. He published his Edinburgh edition of his poems, and dedicated them to{113} the Caledonian Hunt; and the names of all his admirers and hosts are still there—a long list of good, well-known Scottish names.

In 1786 there occurred the memorable meeting, at the house of Professor Adam Fergusson, between Burns and Scott. There was a gathering of “several gentlemen of literary reputation,” and Scott, a boy of fifteen, was present. Scott “had sense and feeling enough to be much interested in his poetry, and would have given the world to know him,” but, with the better manners of that period, “of course we youngsters sat silent and listened.” Burns was affected by one of the pictures on the wall, and the lines printed beneath it. He “actually shed tears,” and asked whose the lines were. None of the “gentlemen of literary reputation” volunteering the information, Scott whispered to a friend that they were Langhorne’s, and the friend told Burns, who turned to the boy with a “look and a word.” “You’ll be a man yet!” is what Burns said: and those words and that look are all the link between these two great Scottish poets, who “spoke each other in passing.”

It was not until December 1787 that Burns met “Clarinda,” the very lovely Mrs. M‘Lehose, a cousin-german of Lord Craig’s. She, forsaken by her husband, lived in a house of three rooms in General’s Entry, between Bristo Street and Potterrow. Burns had met her only once, at a tea-party gathering, before—he having met with a carriage accident and being unable to leave his lodgings—their famous “Clarinda and{114} Sylvander” correspondence began. Clarinda possessed more than beauty, as her letters and verses show. There were many beautiful faces in Edinburgh, and Burns has immortalised them in his eulogies—Miss Burnet, Miss Ferrier, Miss Whiteford; but poor Clarinda’s verses he has mingled with his own. It is said that it was these two marvellous lines of hers that first struck him:—

Talk not to me of Love! for Love hath been my foe.
He bound me with an iron chain, and flung me deep in woe.

Clarinda continued to live on in Edinburgh, and died there when nearly eighty, with a picture of the long-dead Sylvander beside her.

Of all comments on Edinburgh the best-known is Burns’s passionate salutation to the venerable city:—

Edina! Scotia’s darling seat!
All hail thy palaces and towers,
Where once beneath a monarch’s feet
Sat Legislation’s sovereign powers.
From marking wildly scattered flowers,
As on the banks of Ayr I strayed,
And singing, lone, the lingering hours,
I shelter in thy honoured shade.
Here wealth still swells the golden tide,
As busy trade his labour plies;
There Architecture’s noble pride
Bids elegance and splendour rise;
Here Justice, from her native skies,
High wields her balance and her rod;
There Learning, with his eagle eyes,
Seeks science in her coy abode.{115}
There, watching high the least alarms,
Thy rough, rude fortress gleams afar,
Like some bold veteran grey in arms,
And marked with many a seamy scar:
The ponderous wall and massy bar,
Grim rising o’er the rugged rock,
Have oft withstood assailing war,
And oft repelled the invader’s shock.
With awe-struck thought, and pitying tears
I view that noble, stately dome,
Where Scotia’s kings of other years,
Famed heroes! had their royal home.
Alas, how changed the times to come!
Their royal name low in the dust!
Their hapless race wild-wandering roam,
Though rigid law cries out, ’Twas just!
Wild beats my heart to trace your steps,
Whose ancestors, in days of yore,
Through hostile ranks and ruined gaps
Old Scotia’s bloody lion bore:
Even I who sing in rustic lore,
Haply, my sires have left their shed,
And faced grim danger’s loudest roar,
Bold following where your fathers led!
Edina! Scotia’s darling seat!
All hail thy palaces and towers!
Where once beneath a monarch’s feet
Sat Legislation’s sovereign powers!
From marking wildly scattered flowers,
As on the banks of Ayr I strayed,
And singing, lone, the lingering hours,
I shelter in thy honoured shade.









Even thus, methinks, a city reared should be,
Yea, an imperial city that might hold
Five times a hundred noble towns in fee,
And either with their might of Babel old,
Or the rich Roman pomp of empery,
Might stand compare, highest in arts enrolled,
Highest in arms, brave tenement for the free
Who never crouch to thrones, nor sin for gold.
Thus should her towers be raised; with vicinage
Of clear bold hills that curve her very streets,
As if to vindicate, ’mid choicest seats
Of Art, abiding Nature’s majesty;
And the broad sea beyond, in calm or rage
Chainless alike, and teaching liberty.
Arthur Hallam, Sonnet to Edinburgh.

TOWARDS the end of the eighteenth century, Edinburgh, “a picturesque, odorous, inconvenient, old-fashioned town,” as Mr. Robert Chambers describes it, had become densely over-populated. Seventy thousand inhabitants lived, breathed, and had their being within its confined area. The quaint and impressive site of{120} this “city set on a hill,” however, did not admit of an easy extension of its boundaries. Fields and braes lay to the north, open and ready, blazing with whins and sunshine, and swept over by the fresh winds off the sea—a perfect El Dorado for the stifling and cramped inhabitants to look at from the high windows of the eyries in the dark obscurities of their closes and wynds. But, between the city and this fair open country, there lay a deep chasm filled by the Nor’ Loch; and so Edinburgh remained in its old state, a city straggling down the ridge from the Castle to Holyrood, with St. Giles’s Church and the Tolbooth standing in the centre of this street and blocking its breadth, and all the teeming wynds and closes leading from it, and with the lower-lying Cowgate over the ridge to the south, terminating in the Grassmarket beneath the Castle Rock.

“Everything,” says Mr. Robert Chambers, “was on a homely and narrow scale. The College—where Munro, Cullen, and Black were already making themselves great names—was to be approached through a mean alley, the College Wynd. The churches were chiefly clustered under one roof; the jail was a narrow building, half filling up the breadth of the street; the public offices, for the most part, obscure places in lanes or dark entries. The men of learning and wit, united with a proportion of men of rank, met as the Poker Club in a tavern, the best of its day, but only a dark house in a close.... The town was, nevertheless, a familiar, compact, and not unlikable place. Gentle and{121}

PRINCES STREET FROM THE STEPS OF THE NEW CLUB The spectator is looking east towards the Scott Monument, which rises in the centre of the picture; to the right of the monument is a portion of the Royal Institution, while to the left is the tower of the North British Railway Hotel, with the top of the Nelson Monument appearing over the window shade. Down the steps of the New Club a page boy is carrying golf clubs. The time is a sunny afternoon in September.


The spectator is looking east towards the Scott Monument, which rises in the centre of the picture; to the right of the monument is a portion of the Royal Institution, while to the left is the tower of the North British Railway Hotel, with the top of the Nelson Monument appearing over the window shade. Down the steps of the New Club a page boy is carrying golf clubs. The time is a sunny afternoon in September.

simple living within the compass of a single close, or even a single stair, knew and took an interest in each other. Acquaintances might not only be formed, Pyramus-and-Thisbe fashion, through party walls, but from window to window across alleys, narrow enough in many cases to allow of hand coming to hand, and even lip to lip.... The jostle and huddlement was extreme everywhere.” And the overcrowding!

“A country gentleman and a lawyer, not long after raised to the Bench, lived with his wife and children and servants in three rooms and a kitchen. A wealthy goldsmith had a dwelling of two small rooms above his booth, the nursery and kitchen, however, being placed in a cellar under the level of the street, where the children are said to have rotted off like sheep.”[55] Edinburgh citizens came to consider the highest storeys in their tall “lands” the most desirable; and the tale is told of one old Edinburgh gentleman who, on a visit to London, expressed pleased surprise that the top flat where he had perched himself was the cheapest in the house. On being gently enlightened that this was in consequence of its being also the least thought of, he replied that he kent fine what gentility was, and after having lived sixteen storeys up all his life, was not going to come down in the world.

The first efforts at extension of the town were due to a private commercial speculation. The open country beyond the Nor’ Loch and the “Lang Dykes” was inaccessible till an Act of Parliament could be passed and{122} drastic measures taken; and, where Acts of Parliament are necessary, progress is slow. Whilst time was passing, and others were talking and scheming for the public good, a builder named George Brown saw that the tide had come in his affairs, and took it at the flood and made his fortune. He built, with stones from Craigmillar Quarry, two squares of substantial dwelling-houses. The first built and bigger of these was George Square, whose site had formerly been part of the park of Ross House, the suburban residence of the Lords Ross, where later—after 1753—the famous George Lockhart of Carnwath had lived. The smaller square, Brown Square, was built after the first had proved a success, and several of the houses in it been taken by well-known citizens. George Square is still, though hemmed in by poor localities on three sides, a favourite place of residence, with a pleasant garden in the centre, and “the Meadows” near at hand. Here it was, at number 25, that Scott’s father lived, and part of Scott’s boyhood was spent. Brown Square has not survived socially, though it, too, has had its notable residents. It was from Brown Square that Lord Glenlee, the last person to use a sedan-chair in Edinburgh, used to sally forth in wig and cocked hat, in knee-breeches and silk stockings and buckled shoes; and in Brown Square there once lived the author of “The Flowers of the Forest,” Miss Jeanie Elliott of Minto, one of the many gifted Jacobite ladies of Jacobite Edinburgh. These two squares formed a little southern colony by themselves, confined their hospitalities to themselves, and, in fact,{123} as the Scottish phrase says, “kept themselves to themselves.”

At last, in 1767, the Act of Parliament for extending the city over the northern fields was passed, and the North Bridge was built from the High Street across the valley. And then, suddenly, as with the touch of a magician’s wand, the beginnings of the New Town of Edinburgh came into being: stately squares and noble buildings, wide, broad streets that put London thoroughfares to shame, graceful curved terraces and crescents; all the cold dignity of unlimited grey stone—stone pavements, stone roads, stone houses; and, nestling in every crevice of the stone, the green of the invaded country. New Edinburgh, like Jonah’s gourd, sprang up in a night, to shade many a prophet.

And who wielded the magician’s wand? The name of Lord Provost Drummond ought to be remembered in Edinburgh, of which, like a veritable Dick Whittington, he was six times Lord Provost. He was a man of public spirit and large enterprise, who brought dignity on himself and his office and his city. The New Town dates from his Provostship. At first, however, as all pioneers must do, he saw men look askance at the triumphs of his energy. He was probably called extravagant, and accused of squandering public money. “The scheme was at first far from popular,” Mr. Robert Chambers tells his readers. “The exposure to the north and east winds was felt as a grievous disadvantage, especially while houses were few. So unpleasant even was the North Bridge considered, that a lover told a New Town{124} mistress—to be sure only in an epigram—that when he visited her he felt as performing an adventure not much short of that of Leander. The aristocratic style of the place alarmed a number of pockets, and legal men trembled lest their clients and other employers should forget them, if they removed so far from the centre of things as Princes Street and St. Andrew Square. Still, the move was unavoidable, and behoved to be made.”[56]

And then the bees swarmed.

Those of the Scottish nobles whom the Union had left in the capital took their persons and their households across the valley to the New Town, and left their family mansions and their family traditions behind them in the Old. All the legal dignitaries—Lord President, Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Advocate, Dean of Faculty, Solicitor-General, Lords of Council and Session—all those “carls” whom James VI. had made “lairds,” accompanied by the “carlins” whom he had declined to make “leddies”; the advocates, the “writers”; all the old Scottish “gentry,” the wealthy burghers: all hurried out of their closes and took up their residences in the big new houses across the Nor’ Loch.

Nature, however, abhors a vacuum, and so do landlords; and the deserted High Street and Canongate filled up rapidly with humbler citizens. “The Lord Justice Clerk Tinwald’s house possessed by a French teacher, Lord President Craigie’s house by a rouping wife or saleswoman of old furniture, and Lord Drummore’s{125} house left by a chairman for want of accommodation; ... the house of the Duke of Douglas at the Union, now possessed by a wheelwright!”[57]

David Hume was one of the bees who swarmed. He was buzzing busily on the third floor of a house in James’s Court with (what was particularly characteristic of Edinburgh houses of that period, but perhaps not so appealing to Hume as to some others) two little oratories, one off his dining-room and one out of his drawing-room. But neither the oratories nor the view to the north from his windows had the power to retain him. He spread his wings and alighted on the west corner house on the south side of St. Andrew Square. When his house at the corner was almost the only one in the street leading from Princes Street to St. Andrew Square, and before the names of the New Town streets had been inscribed on them, Dr. Webster, a humorous minister, wrote in chalk on the great sceptic’s dwelling “Saint David’s Street.” Hume’s old servant ran indignantly to her master to tell him; but Hume was a humorist too. “Weel, weel, Janet,” he said, “never mind. I am not the first man of sense that has been made a saint of.”

St. David Street it remains to this day.

Sir Laurence Dundas built himself a house in St. Andrew Square, but lost it in play to General Scott, a noted gambler, who staked £30,000 against it. Sir Laurence retained his house, however, by building General Scott another mansion-house, “Bellevue,”{126} which for long stood in the centre of Drummond Place.

Along the line of the present Princes Street had formerly been the “Lang Gait,” or “Lang Dykes,” a rough road through rough country, where Claverhouse had clattered angrily towards the Highlands at the head of his troopers. This had been the scene of many a footpad robbery and murder, and many lovers’ evening strolls; but, when the New Town was built, it gradually was feued out, from east to west; and along it were built a single line of houses looking right across the valley and up towards the Old Town. It was proposed to call this—the principal street of New Edinburgh—“St. Giles Street,” after the patron saint of Edinburgh, which would have been a very appropriate name, and a slight offer of amends to the Saint for the insult offered to his effigy when the rude-minded rabble ducked it in the Nor’ Loch in the first days of the Reformation. However, George III. objected. “Hey, hey—what, what? St. Giles Street! never do! never do!” No doubt to Londoners the name might awaken associations with a neighbourhood unknown beyond London; but George III. showed some ignorance of Scottish history, for the district of St. Giles in London owes its name to the founder of a leper hospital—Maud, daughter of Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret, who, when Queen of England, evidently sometimes felt a little homesick and very patriotic, and bestowed on her charity the name of the patron saint of Edinburgh.

And what became of the Nor’ Loch? The citizens{127} had no longer to swim across it two at a time on a collier’s horse, as had the Hamiltons after the “Cleanse the Causeway” battle. The Nor’ Loch, formed in 1450 when first Edinburgh was walled, had done its duty and had its day, and was drained; and its place—now well-kept gardens—was for long a boggy morass. Across this morass some Lawnmarket shopkeepers were accustomed to make their way to investigate the progress of the new city; and, as the ground was marshy and muddy, they laid a few planks across to form a foot-bridge. George Boyd, a dealer in tartan, called “Five o’clock,” in jocular allusion to his bandy legs, seems to have been particularly impressed by the plank bridge; and, when some loose earth from a quarry fell on it and made the bridge more secure, his mind, which worked better than his legs, caught at the suggestion that the earth flung out by the builders from the foundations of the New Town might form a bridge across the valley. The suggestion was adopted, and the earth, to the amount, it has been calculated, of about two million cartloads, was deposited and a great mound formed in the valley of the Nor’ Loch, just below the centre of the High Street; and “Geordie Boyd’s brig” became “the Earthen Mound,” and so continued to be called until well on in the nineteenth century. So, indeed, one well-known and venerable Edinburgh citizen still speaks of it.

And this is how, within about forty years of its first conception, the New Town of Edinburgh spread itself over the plain and superseded the crumbling cluster of{128} seven centuries. And this is how modern Edinburgh presents that curious spectacle, unknown in any other town, of two distinct divisions, divided topographically as well as historically and socially—Old Edinburgh and New Edinburgh.{129}



Benevolence, charitableness, tolerance, sympathy with those about him in their joys and their sorrows, kindly readiness to serve others when he could, utter absence of envy or real ill-will,—these are qualities that shine out everywhere in his life and in the succession of his writings.... Positively, when I contemplate this richness of heart in Scott, and remember also how free he was from those moral weaknesses which sometimes accompany and disfigure an unusually rich endowment in this species of excellence ... positively, I say, with all this in my mind, I can express my feeling about Scott no otherwise than by declaring him to have been one of the very best men that ever breathed.

Professor Masson’s Edinburgh Sketches and Memories.

IT is easy to trace Sir Walter Scott’s Edinburgh life from door to door. The house in the College Wynd, in which, on August 15, 1771, he was born, was pulled down in his lifetime. Sir Walter once pointed out its site to Mr. Robert Chambers during one of their walks together, and told him that his father had “received a fair price for his portion of it”; and, when Mr. Chambers naturally suggested that more money might{130} have been made and the public much more gratified had Scott’s birthplace been retained to be shown,—“Ay, ay,” said Sir Walter, “that is very well; but I am afraid I should have required to be dead first, and that would not have been so comfortable, you know.”

The home of his boyhood and youth, 25 George Square, still stands, looking exactly the same to-day as it did then. Here the little lame boy lived, and regretted the country life at Sandyknowe among dogs and sheep and legends; and the troubles of life began for him as he limped backwards and forwards to the High School, or sensitively shrank from the rough tyranny of his elder brother; and the triumphs of life fired him as he took his share in the street “bickers” between the High School boys and the rough lads of Potterrow, or as he gained fame in the High School yard as a story-teller. It was under his parents’ roof in George Square that Scott lived all the years from those schoolboy days till he was a young man of many friendships, and slovenly dress and deep feelings and enthusiasms, studying law in deference to his father’s wishes, but thinking his own long thoughts during his rambles over Blackford Hill and the country round Edinburgh; and at home, in his father’s house, giving full play to his fancies in the safety of his own small den in the sunk basement, where he was surrounded by “more books than shelves,” where he hoarded collections of Scottish and Roman coins, and where he had proudly crossed a claymore and a Lochaber axe over a little print of Prince Charlie. But perhaps the fondest{131}

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND BURNS’S MONUMENT FROM JEFFREY STREET To the left of the picture, over a roof in the foreground, appears part of the tunnel of the North British Railway, above which rises that fine classic building, the (modern) High School. It stands on the southern slope of the Calton Hill, a portion of which is seen to the extreme left. On the extreme right is the monument to Robert Burns.


To the left of the picture, over a roof in the foreground, appears part of the tunnel of the North British Railway, above which rises that fine classic building, the (modern) High School. It stands on the southern slope of the Calton Hill, a portion of which is seen to the extreme left. On the extreme right is the monument to Robert Burns.

treasure in that den was a certain china saucer which,—possibly unknown to the father upstairs,—the young Cavalier kept hung on the wall, and whose tale he no doubt often unfolded to his friends. Once upon a time Mrs. Scott’s curiosity had been roused by the visits, night after night, of a mysterious stranger, who came in a sedan-chair and a cloak, and remained closeted with her husband in his business-room till long after the household had retired. Mr. Scott preserved a stern reticence; but woman’s wit found out a way. One night, very late, when the house was silent in sleep, Mrs. Scott entered the business-room with a smile and two cups of tea, and the hospitable suggestion that, as they had sat so long, they might be glad of some refreshment. The stranger proved to be a richly dressed man, who bowed, took one of the cups, and drank it. But Mr. Scott, turning aside, neither drank his tea nor introduced his guest. Presently, returning from showing the stranger out, he took the empty cup, and, throwing up the window-sash, flung it out into the night, with the now famous words, “Neither lip of me nor mine comes after Murray of Broughton’s.”[58]

It was here, in this small den on the sunk floor of 25 George Square, that Jeffrey found Scott when he called on him the evening after he had asked to be introduced to him at the Speculative Society, where young Scott had read a paper on “Ballads”: and Jeffrey evidently did not extend his approval of Scott{132} and of the paper on Ballads to this sunk den,—or was it that Scott had no command of hospitalities in his father’s house?—for they sallied forth together and supped at a tavern. No doubt, before they went, Jeffrey had looked round curiously at the treasures of his new acquaintance, and had been told how the “Broughton saucer” had come by its widowed condition.

It was decided that Scott should become an advocate, and he and his friend Clerk—a friendship made in the High School days, to last through life—read for the Bar together. Poor Scott, with his open-air nature and his dreamy enthusiasms, how he hated the drudgery! But he buckled to it; and every summer morning for two summers he used to walk from George Square to the house of his friend Clerk, “at the extremity of Princes Street, New Town,” arriving at seven o’clock, to rouse his sleepy fellow-student to an examination of Heineccius’s Analysis of the Institutes and Pandects and Erskine’s Institutes of the Law of Scotland. It speaks well for Clerk that their friendship did last.

They were called to the Bar together; and together, when the ceremony was over, they stood about in their wigs and gowns in the great hall, till at last Scott whispered to Clerk, imitating a farm servant-lass waiting at the Cross to be hired, “We’ve stood here an hour by the Tron, hinny, and de’il an ane has speered our price.” Before the Court rose, however, Scott had earned his first guinea,—and he spent it on a silver taper-stand for his mother.

It was all in Edinburgh—all his “supreme moments.”{133} Was it not in a shower of rain in Greyfriars’ Churchyard that he met his first love? Greyfriars’ Churchyard in a shower of rain, after a sermon; and Scott offered her his umbrella, and together they walked home under it. Probably it was a very shabby umbrella, for Scott was slovenly in his dress in those days. What did it matter? There were more walks—more talks. Presently Scott’s father thought it right to warn the other father, for Scott was but a dependent youth; and, moreover, his love had been given to the daughter and heiress of Sir John and Lady Jane Stuart Belches of Invermay, and in those days in Scotland every shade of rank was considered. Did Scott ever know what his father had done? Still the romance went on, till the day when Scott rode home from Invermay back to Edinburgh, and “the iron entered into his soul.” A long ride through the beloved Scottish Highlands—

Never the time and the place and the loved one all together.

She married Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo. Of course she did. Had it not been ordained since the beginning of time that she who had won the first love of Walter Scott was to marry another? Who knows her story? Who, for the matter of that, knows his? Who has measured the influence on his life?

It was in Edinburgh that Scott’s youth passed, and that most of the happenings took place that went to the making of him. In Edinburgh was clustered his group of friends: Clerk (afterwards the original of “Darsie Latimer”); Thomas Thomson, the legal antiquary;{134} John Irving; Adam Ferguson; George Cranstoun (afterwards Lord Corehouse); George Abercromby (Lord Abercromby); Patrick Murray of Simprim; Patrick Murray of Auchtertyre; and, most congenial of all to Scott’s own nature, Erskine, the son of a Scottish Episcopalian clergyman of good family, and the only Tory, save Scott himself, among the set of young Whigs then predominant at Parliament House.

In those days Scott indulged in many rambles to the Borders or the Highlands, to interesting neighbourhoods and historic houses and worthy hosts; but it was from one of these excursions that he returned to Edinburgh to see the execution of Watt the republican; and it was in the Edinburgh theatre that he assisted to break the heads of a band of young Irish rowdies who howled and hooted during the National Anthem; and it was in Edinburgh that he haunted the vaults below Parliament House among hoards of MSS. and deeds, and came up again steeped in dust and lore to be made a curator of the Advocates’ Library, with Professor David Hume and Malcolm Laing the historian as his colleagues.

Scott’s first serious attempt at verse was a rhymed translation of Bürger’s Lenore. It was written when he was four-and-twenty, and was done under the inspiration of hearing that Mrs. Barbauld, then on her first visit to Edinburgh, had read aloud Taylor’s then unpublished version of it at a party at Dugald Stewart’s. Scott, already deeply interested in German literature, was fired; and one morning before breakfast he brought his translation to show to his friend Miss Cranstoun.{135}

Walter Scott was not without women friends. Miss Cranstoun, to whom he brought his poem before breakfast, had already been his confidante in his love-story. Of his young kinswoman, the wife of the head of his family, Hugh Scott of Harden,—who was a daughter of Count Brühl Martkirchen, Saxon Ambassador at the Court of St. James’s, and Almeria, Dowager Countess of Egremont—he says that she “was the first woman of real fashion that took him up.”

It was about this time also that Scott’s martial ardour and patriotism found vent in helping to organise the Scottish Light-horse Volunteers, in preparation for the expected French Invasion. When, therefore, in his twenty-sixth year, he brought home to Edinburgh the little half-French bride to whose dark prettiness and novel vivacity he had fallen a victim whilst a fellow-visitor at a watering-place, she found a warm welcome awaiting her from a large and various circle of friends, all devoted to her young husband, and sharing with him one or other of his enthusiasms,—military or literary, antiquarian or sporting. Among these must not be forgotten Skene of Rubislaw, whose friendship with Scott began in a mutual love for German literature, and ended only with death.

Scott took his young wife first to lodgings in George Street, his house at 10 South Castle Street not being quite ready; and the following summer he hired that first and humblest of those three country homes near Edinburgh where his happiest days were spent, a pretty{136} cottage, with a garden and a paddock, at Lasswade. It is still standing and unchanged. Here and at Castle Street the young people lived comfortably on their combined incomes for many years, and made themselves and their friends happy with much simple and inexpensive hospitality. At Lasswade it was that they formed friendships with the neighbouring great houses of Melville and Buccleuch; that they were near—as the country counts near—to Scott’s old friends the Clerks of Penicuik and Tytlers of Woodhouselee, and Henry Mackenzie, the “Man of Feeling,” who lived at Auchendinny. And it was at the Lasswade cottage that Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy arrived before breakfast on the morning of September 17, 1803. Scott was then writing the Lay of the Last Minstrel, and read the first four cantos to Wordsworth. He walked with his guests to Roslin, and afterwards met them for the famous days in the Border country, where he was Sheriff. Hogg’s first celebrated visit was paid at Castle Street. It was in the drawing-room there that the Ettrick Shepherd, feeling sure he “could never do wrong to copy the lady of the house,” lay down at full length on the sofa opposite hers. It was here that he “dined heartily and drank freely and, by jest, anecdote, and song, afforded plentiful merriment.” It was here that, as the hour grew later, his enthusiasm showed itself in a descending warmth of appellations for his host, who, first “Mr. Scott,” became “Shirra,” and then “Scott,” “Walter,” and, finally, “Wattie”; and the “plentiful merriment” must have reached{137} its culmination when Mrs. Scott was addressed as “Charlotte.”

When Thomas Campbell published his “Pleasures of Hope,” Walter Scott was an enthusiastic admirer of his fellow-poet. “I have repeated these lines so often on the North Bridge that the whole fraternity of coachmen know me by tongue as I pass. To be sure, to a mind in sober, serious, street-walking humour, it must bear an appearance of lunacy when one stamps with the hurried pace and fervent shake of the head, which strong, pithy poetry excites.”

Oh days of enthusiasms and strong feelings! Nowadays, we are all jaded with travel, and washed over with the neutral tint of cosmopolitanism, and as insipid as bread and water. No Scott stamps and rolls his head to the rhythm of his thoughts on the North Bridge; no Scott protests out of his full heart against the innovations of Whiggery, and leans his brow against the wall of the Mound, unashamed if his tears be seen by a jesting Jeffrey, and tells him, “No, no—’tis no laughing matter; little by little, whatever your wishes may be, you will destroy and undermine, until nothing of what makes Scotland Scotland shall remain!”[59]

When Scott’s worldly prospects were very prosperous, when he was Sheriff of Selkirk, and the author of the successful Lay of the Last Minstrel, and a contributor to the Edinburgh Review, under the editorship first of{138} Sydney Smith and then of Jeffrey, he was an established citizen of Edinburgh, in his second house in Castle Street—“poor 39”—as he lived to call it. Here were his most brilliant days spent,—here, and at Ashestiel, the picturesque farm on the banks of the Tweed which superseded the Lasswade cottage, and then at Abbotsford, the proudest home of all. But 39 Castle Street remained his town home through all the brilliant and wonderful years, till the financial crash came in 1826. It was here that Joanna Baillie paid a visit of a week or so,—here that Crabbe stayed,—here that every one of worth or want found a ready welcome. The dining-room in 39 Castle Street!—what scenes and what voices have its walls seen and heard! Here all Scott’s famous dinners took place, including those Sunday ones “without silver dishes” to his intimates—Mrs. Maclean of Torloisk and her daughters; his school friend Clerk; Kirkpatrick Sharpe of caustic humour and scandalous memory; Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, “Bozzie’s” son, and author of “Jenny dang the weaver”; Sir Alexander Don of Newton; William Allan, the artist; and many others. It was here he had his orderly “den” behind the dining-room, with its many books, its big writing-table, its two armchairs, the staghound on the floor, and the cat safely atop the book-ladder, and one picture—the beautiful, sad face of Graham of Claverhouse, who, as Scott said, “foully traduced” by Covenanting historians, “still passed among the Scottish vulgar for a ruffian desperado.”

It must have been in the window of this study that{139} Scott sat writing night after night, when the son of William Menzies, living at his father’s house in George Street, looked across from the back windows of their house to the back of Scott’s, when, at a gathering of “gay and thoughtless” young men, mostly advocates, he asked one to change places with him that he might not see a hand that fascinated his eye. “It never stops—page after page is finished and thrown on that heap of MS., and still it goes on unwearied—and so it will be till candles are brought in, and God knows how long after that.... I well know what hand it is—’tis Walter Scott’s.”

It was in this self-same study that an attempt was made on Scott’s life by a man named Webber, whose literary efforts Scott had befriended. Webber had taken to drinking, and a sudden mad resentment against Scott filled his unhinged mind. In this study Scott suddenly found himself confronted by a madman with firearms, insisting on a duel then and there; and it was only because of Scott’s absolute self-control and courage that the great man’s life did not end in the year 1818. He suggested that a duel in the house might disturb the ladies of the family and had better be postponed till after dinner; and then, locking up the pistols, he calmly brought Webber into the dining-room, and, whilst they dined with an unconscious hostess, Scott sent for the young man’s friends.

It was to Castle Street that Scott walked home across the Mound leaning on his daughter’s arm, his own trembling, speaking not a word all the way, on the day{140} after the Scottish Regalia had been discovered. It was owing to Scott’s representations to his friend the Prince Regent that the Commission had been appointed to examine the Crown Room in the Castle, and the long-lost Regalia had been brought to light. The next day he and his fellow-commissioners had brought the ladies of their families to view it, and Sophia Scott had been so wrought upon by the sight that she had turned faint, and was drawing back from the group when she heard her father’s voice, “something between anger and despair,” exclaim, “By God, no!” and turned to see that one of the Commissioners had been, in play, about to put the Scottish crown on the head of a young girl present. The father and daughter walked home together in silence, with a new sympathy between them.

It was of this very year, 1818, that Lockhart said: “At this moment, his position, take it for all in all, was, I am inclined to believe, what no other man had ever won for himself by the pen alone. His works were the daily food, not only of his countrymen, but of all educated Europe. His society was courted by whatever England could show of eminence. Station, power, wealth, beauty, and genius, strove with each other in every demonstration of respect and worship, and—a few political fanatics and envious poetasters apart—wherever he appeared, in town or country, whoever had Scotch blood in him, ‘gentle or simple,’ felt it move more rapidly through his veins when he was in the presence of Scott.”[60]


Lockhart goes on to say that, “descending to what many looked on as higher things,” the annual profits of Scott’s novels alone had been for several years not less than £10,000, and his Castle of Abbotsford was being built, and “few doubted that ere long he might receive from the just favour of his Prince some distinction in the way of external rank, such as had seldom before been dreamt of as the possible consequences of mere literary celebrity.”

On February 2, 1820, Scott took Prince Gustavus Vasa, and his attendant, Baron Polier, who were spending some months in Edinburgh, to the window over Constable’s shop in the High Street, to hear George IV. proclaimed King at the site of the Cross. Here Scott lamented to the Prince the “barbarity of the Auld Reekie Bailies,” who had removed the historic Cross; and when the exiled Prince broke down on hearing the National Anthem sung by the crowd, Scott drew Lockhart away into another window, whispering: “Poor lad! poor lad! God help him!”

Scott’s friend and admirer the Prince Regent once King, the distinctions came. In 1820 Scott went to London to receive the baronetcy which, as Lord Sidmouth had told him, it had been the Prince Regent’s desire to confer on him. Whilst in London he sat to Sir Thomas Lawrence for his portrait for the King, and to Chantrey for his bust, and the degree of D.C.L. was offered him by both the English Universities. Three Edinburgh distinctions were conferred on him. He was elected President of the Royal{142} Scottish Society; he was first President of the Bannatyne Club, which he had founded; and he was appointed Professor of Ancient History to the Royal Scottish Academy. Those years were his most active time as a citizen as well as an author, for he was chairman of nearly every public meeting, or charity, or educational scheme in the town. Every day must have seen him limping along Princes Street, recognised by all, coming from Parliament House, or his meetings, or his printer’s; perhaps one of a group talking eagerly, pausing to disperse at the door of some bookshop or on the steps of a club, or at the corner of Castle Street. Many a head must have turned to gaze after the rugged familiar figure; many a whisper to child or stranger must have followed him, “There, look! That is Sir Walter Scott!”

In August 1822 George IV. paid his state visit to Edinburgh, and stayed a fortnight in the capital of the ancient kingdom. This fortnight was perhaps the proudest and most brilliant of Scott’s life,—“his supreme moment”—and again it was in Edinburgh. The Tories, their dream of Jacobitism dead with the Cardinal of York, were more personally loyal than the Whigs; and Scott, most tory of Tories, was loyalest of the loyal. It was his influence that had brought about the royal visit, and on him devolved all the arrangements; and for weeks Castle Street was like a green-room, filled by all the actors in the great play. When the day came and in the rain the King’s yacht cast anchor in Leith Roads—where Mary Stuart’s galleys{143} had in the mist cast anchor on a bygone August day—Scott rowed alongside and boarded the Royal George. The King toasted him in native whisky; and Scott, in his enthusiasm, asked leave to keep the glass. He put it, carefully wrapped up, in his deep coat-tail pocket, and went home holding the skirt of his coat carefully in front of him. Alas for the vanity of human wishes! At Castle Street he found that Crabbe the poet had chosen this inopportune season to arrive unexpectedly on a visit. Scott, ever hospitable, welcomed him warmly, and promptly sat down beside him; and crash!—the glass was smashed to atoms.

At six next morning, Queen Street—that sober terrace!—saw Sir Walter Scott clad in Campbell tartans at a muster of the Celtic Club; and a little later an inimitable scene took place in the dining-room of 39 Castle Street. Scott had hospitably brought some half-dozen Celts home to breakfast; and, on entering the room himself from his study, he discovered Crabbe, the dapper English clergyman, punctiliously neat and decorous in his black clothes and buckled shoes, standing surrounded by huge kilted and plaided Highlanders, like a sleek spaniel surrounded by collies. To Scott’s amazement, the tongue in which all were endeavouring to exchange ideas proved to be French; for Crabbe, as ignorant as an Englishman can be about Scotland, had heard the Gaelic; and, judging the strangely garbed men to be foreigners, and addressing them amiably in French, had been promptly taken by them for a French abbé.{144}

Throughout all the busy fortnight Scott was the centre of everything. Daily he dined at Dalkeith Palace,[61] and attended the King at the levées and drawing-rooms at Holyrood, at St. Giles’s Church on Sunday, at the performance by Murray’s company of Rob Roy, and at the banquet given by the Magistrates to the King at the Parliament House. It was Scott who organised the great procession from Holyrood to the Castle in copy of the “Riding of the Parliament.” And, as Lockhart points out in his Life of Scott, it was due to Scott’s Celtic ardour that in all the arrangements the kilts and pipes were made so prominent that King George became impressed with the false idea that Scotland’s glory rested on them alone, and that he showed this by giving as his one toast at the banquet: “The Chieftains and Clans of Scotland, and Prosperity to the Land of Cakes.” Perhaps it dates from this that the English to this day think the kilt the national—if not the usual—dress of the Scot, and that Punch makes Highlanders talk lowland Scotch, and Scotsmen speak Gaelic. But some results of the King’s visit—also due to Sir Walter Scott’s influence—were better. The King knighted Adam Ferguson, Deputy-Keeper of the Regalia, and Raeburn, the Scottish portrait-painter; and Mons Meg was returned from the Tower, after much correspondence; and the Scottish peerages forfeited in 1715 and 1745 were restored.{145}

Four years later, Scott sent for his old friend Skene of Rubislaw. It was a cold January morning—seven o’clock—when Skene arrived, and Scott’s greeting to him was: “My friend, give me a shake of your hand: mine is that of a beggar.” The crash had come. Offers of assistance poured in—from his children, from the principal banks of Edinburgh, from friends high and low. Scott, hearing that Sir William Forbes the banker, his old rival in love, was foremost in wishing to help, wrote in his diary: “It is fated our planets should cross, though, and that at periods most interesting for me. Down—down—a hundred thoughts.”

No help was accepted. “This right hand shall pay it all,” he said. That eident hand!...

Two months later he left Castle Street. “So farewell, poor 39.... Ha til mi tulidh.[62] Two months later he went all alone to lodgings, in North St. David Street, and heard next day of Lady Scott’s death at Abbotsford. And so—first there, and then next winter alone with his youngest daughter in a furnished house in Walker Street, and finally at No. 6 Shandwick Place,—Sir Walter Scott worked himself to death in Edinburgh to pay his debts: perhaps more loved and honoured than even in the days of his prosperity.

Sir Walter Scott has often been compared to Shakespeare. Be that as it may, in what he has done for Scotland he may even better be compared to Napoleon; for, as Napoleon found France shattered and in chaos,{146} and lifted her to the pinnacle of power, so Scott came at an epoch in Scotland’s history when her “flowers were a’ wede awa’,” and raised her again to her place among the nations. And what he did was accomplished, not by over two hundred battles, but by twenty-nine novels.{147}



And the days of auld lang syne.

SOCIAL Edinburgh of yesterday,—that is to say, the social life of Edinburgh from the death of Sir Walter Scott to the death of Queen Victoria,—what does it imply? It means all the life of Edinburgh during those seventy years, all the individual lives lived in Edinburgh, and what each one did towards pushing the world onwards. And what hundreds of names rise in the memory—names of all sorts and conditions of men, “thick as the leaves in Vallombrosa”! It means also the shifting scenery in the background of all those lives—a piling up of noble architecture against the cloudy Scottish sky; a running up of numberless “long unlovely streets”; a constant pulling down of dear, dirty, historic dwellings; an occasional restoration of some ancient building; a widening out of all the suburbs. It means many statues in the streets of those who once were alive in them. It means the intersection of the heart of the beautiful{148} city by gleaming lines of rail, and overhead by gleaming telegraph and telephone wires; it means the light of electricity flashing suddenly through the town, and the old gas-lamps burning dimly, and then put out for the last time; it means railway whistles and cable tramway bells; it means smoke rising from miles and miles of cold grey streets. But it is still the smoke of domestic fires, as in the days when Gavin Douglas, waking on a winter morning in 1512, “bade beit the fire and the candel allicht,” and not the smoke of belching chimneys of commerce. Edinburgh, as befits her intellect, prints and publishes; and, as befits her climate, she brews and distils; and the streams that flow down her valleys towards the Firth of Forth pass on their way many mills that provide paper for printers and authors; but farther than this she declines to go.

During Scott’s lifetime there were living in Edinburgh a remarkable cluster of men; and some of those who, as young men, had been his fellow-citizens, survived him right on until past the middle of the century, and wrote their names large in the annals not only of Edinburgh but of the world, before they too in their turn passed away. In literature, during Scott’s lifetime, there was the immortal Baroness Nairne, of the “weel-kent” Jacobite and Episcopalian family, the Oliphants of Gask. Baroness Nairne, while she lived and when she died,—during the meetings she must have had with Scott at the house of her sister, Mrs. Keith of Ravelston,—was all the time the unavowed author of some of the best-loved{149} and best-known of our national songs. There were Jeffrey the critic, Lord Cockburn, Henry Mackenzie, the “Man of Feeling,” Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, Campbell the poet, M‘Crie, the historian and biographer of Knox, Dugald Stewart, and his antagonist, Dr. Thomas Brown, Sir William Allan, the artist, Sir Henry Raeburn, the great Scottish portrait-painter, Miss Ferrier, the novelist, Dr. Alexander Murray, the philologist, Kirkpatrick Sharpe of the bitter tongue, and David Laing, the kindly antiquary. In 1817 Blackwood’s Magazine had been started in Tory rivalry to the Whiggism of Jeffrey’s Edinburgh Review; and in 1832, the very year of Scott’s death, William and Robert Chambers began the publication of Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal. Robert Chambers—who may be regarded, in virtue of his long-unacknowledged Vestiges of Creation, as the forerunner of Darwin—had, as a boy of twenty, written his inimitable Traditions of Edinburgh. The compiling of the Traditions had brought him at once under the astonished and delighted notice of Scott, and begun a friendship between them, resulting in many walks all about Edinburgh, and many talks—also all about Edinburgh. After Scott’s death there were in Edinburgh many notabilities. There was a brilliant literary coterie scintillating in the Blackwood Saloon: Professor Wilson, “Christopher North”; Scott’s son-in-law, Lockhart; Professor Wilson’s son-in-law, Professor Aytoun, the writer of those stirring national ballads that have thrilled so many Scottish hearts; Hogg, enticed from his Ettrick pastures into the{150} turmoil of Noctes Ambrosianæ; Dr. Moir, known as “Delta.” These names are associated with the early days of Blackwood, as are those of Lord Jeffrey, Lord Brougham, and Lord Cockburn with the early days of the Edinburgh Review. Sir William Hamilton was living at 16 Great King Street; and somewhere in Edinburgh, invisible as a microbe, but as far-reaching in achievement, there was the quaint little figure of De Quincey. In one of a row of small houses in Comely Bank, on the north-west outskirts of the city, lived Thomas Carlyle. Among the judges were Lord Jeffrey and Lord Cockburn, survivors of the Whig party of Scott’s days, and Lord Neaves, a staunch Conservative. Chiefest among the Presbyterian Scottish clergy was the great Dr. Chalmers, and grouped with him were Dr. Cunningham, Dr. Guthrie, and Dr. Candlish. Chiefest among the Episcopalian Scottish clergy was the much-loved Scotsman, Dean Ramsay, author of Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character.

In 1842 Queen Victoria paid her first royal visit to her Scottish capital. She came, like George IV., by sea, and arrived at Granton on September 1—most opportunely, for it was St. Giles’s Day. In the following year, 1843, a great event occurred in the history of the Church of Scotland, and the scene of its enactment was St. Andrew’s Church in George Street, Edinburgh. No nation, it is said, knows anything of what lies north of it. France knows nothing about England: England’s ignorance in all regarding Scotland is supreme. Ask the average Englishman what is meant by “the{151} Disruption,” and he will stare at you. And yet the Disruption was the outcome of a controversy that agitated Scotland for years, a controversy strong enough to split the Church of Scotland into two. Three years after the Disruption, the “Philosophical Institution” was founded, and this was an event in the history of intellectual and social Edinburgh that can best be valued when it is remembered that among the first presidents were such men as Lord Macaulay, Lord Brougham, Thomas Carlyle, and Adam Black, and that among the first lecturers who came to Edinburgh by invitation of the Philosophical were Dickens and Thackeray, Anthony Trollope and Charles Kingsley, and Ruskin, who so roundly abused our New Town architecture.

Through the second half of the century, social Edinburgh was proud of such men as Sir James Y. Simpson, the discoverer of the anæsthetic properties of chloroform; Dr. John Brown, the author of Rab and his Friends; Hugh Miller, the geologist, author of Old Red Sandstone; Alexander Smith, the poet; John Skelton, the essayist and historian; Alexander Russel, the witty editor of the Scotsman; Dr. John Hill Burton, the Historiographer-Royal; and Skene, his successor in that office, who was the son of Sir Walter Scott’s old friend. George Combe lived in Edinburgh until 1858; and in the University, besides those already named, were Sir David Brewster, Sir Robert Christison, Professor Syme, John Goodsir, Lyon Playfair, and Professor Tait. And does not the whole of Listerian surgery date from Edinburgh? And is not Lister’s own great original{152} “spray,” though long since superannuated, still the glory of an Edinburgh Infirmary ward? Through the last hours of yesterday, Edinburgh was familiar with the picturesque figure of Professor Blackie in his plaid, with his beautiful old face framed in its silver hair, and his joyous Celtic exuberance and enthusiasms that so often startled the sober Scot. He, too, is gone.

When, in 1884, Edinburgh University, “the Town College,” celebrated her Tercentenary, and invited all the greatest celebrities of Europe to attend it, the streets of the sober grey city were for one wondrous week illuminated by flashes of academic colours and faces of foreign poets and soldiers, foreign men of science and statesmen, foreign historians and philosophers, foreign theologians and artists; Englishmen, Canadians, and Americans; Frenchmen, Germans, and Austrians; Russians, Italians, and Greeks. It was a week of compliments and fireworks, of lions and lionising, when every one who wished saw his own special Shelley plain, and he stopped and spoke to him; and then all the great European savants went away again, the richer by another honorary degree, and left Edinburgh to calm down again, the richer by another memory.

The town itself has changed greatly since the days when Cockburn, Jeffrey, and Horner stood in Queen Street and listened to the corncrake in the fields stretching between them and the sea. It has changed since they lamented the cutting down of the trees round “Bellevue,” the beautiful house of General Scott, in the centre of Drummond Place. It has changed since{153} the “Highland Lady” spent the winters of her girlhood there, attended the routs and balls, and walked in Princes Street attired in a white gown, a pink spencer, yellow tan boots with dangling tassels, and a deep-poked bonnet with three tall white ostrich feathers held aloft by the wind. The men and women who felt Edinburgh their own during the first half of last century would scarcely find their way about it to-day; they would wander through vast tracts of busy streets where for them were green fields and yellow whins, and discover further indentations of the country in new suburbs embracing fragments of old villages, or enclosing in a new street some ancient castle or homestead. Merchiston Castle, for instance, the home of the Napiers, a hoary and battlemented old keep, now stands within a walled garden among modern villas; and the fine old turreted dwelling of Chiesley of Dalry is now imbedded in mean streets, and saved from ignominy, and kept clean and orderly, by being an Episcopalian Training College. The various new buildings that have sprung up during the Victorian era to decorate or to deface the city are of course too numerous to mention; but a few of them are closely connected with the social life of Edinburgh yesterday. “It is not for nothing that the very central and supreme object in the architecture of our present Edinburgh is the monument to Sir Walter Scott,” writes the author of Edinburgh Sketches and Memories; “the finest monument, I think, that has yet been raised anywhere on the earth to the memory of a man of{154} letters.”[63] It stands on the green velvet of the grass of Princes Street Gardens, noblest in the long line of statues of Edinburgh’s notable citizens, facing the gayest and most crowded thoroughfare of the modern city; but through its fine Gothic arches one sees the old town Scott loved so well.

The University New Buildings have considerably enlarged the University itself; and the M‘Ewan Hall has been further added to it by the generosity of Mr. William M‘Ewan, and the Students’ Union by the efforts of the ladies of the University and the town; and Mr. Andrew Carnegie has given Edinburgh its splendid Public Library.

In 1879 there was consecrated the great Cathedral Church of St. Mary, then the largest ecclesiastical building that had been built in Britain since the Reformation.[64] The Cathedral was built by endowment of the Misses Walker, and the architect was Sir Gilbert Scott. It stands at the west end of Edinburgh, and its grounds include Old Coates House, one of the two or three houses that stood beyond the Nor’ Loch in the days before the New Town was thought of.

In 1887 the National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street was presented to Edinburgh by the late Mr. J. R. Findlay; and though many of the portraits of our{155}

SIR WALTER SCOTT’S MONUMENT FROM THE EAST PRINCES ST. GARDENS On the higher level above the green slope lies the part of the Gardens fronting Princes Street. The monument gains in height viewed from this lower level. The tower in the distance is that attached to the North British Railway Hotel.


On the higher level above the green slope lies the part of the Gardens fronting Princes Street. The monument gains in height viewed from this lower level. The tower in the distance is that attached to the North British Railway Hotel.

great dead, like the faces of our great living, have gone to London, yet there is now a goodly collection of national portraits in the capital of Scotland. And there must not be forgotten the greatest building of all—if building it can be called—that has been achieved near Edinburgh during yesterday: the Forth Bridge, the highest bridge in the world, finished in 1890, with its monster claws planted firmly on either side of the Firth of Forth, just where Queen Margaret and Malcolm Canmore used to be ferried to and fro on their journeyings between Edinburgh Castle and Dunfermline Palace.

It is not only by the building of new edifices that wealthy citizens have generously endowed Edinburgh; there is another form of patriotism which seeks to restore the old, and two such inestimable benefits have been conferred not only on Edinburgh, but on all who visit her, and who venerate the past. In 1883 the late Mr. William Chambers restored with reverence and taste the Church of St. Giles, which had been half ruined by ruthless vandalism in 1829, and in 1892 the late Mr. Thomas Nelson restored magnificently the splendid old hall of the Castle, the scene of so many banquets and so many Parliaments, and of not a few tragedies.[65]




The Tropics vanish; and meseems that I
From Halkerside, from topmost Allermuir
Or steep Caerketton, dreaming gaze again.
Far set in fields and woods, the town I see
Spring gallant from the shadow of her smoke,
Cragged, spired, and turreted, her virgin fort beflagged.
R. L. Stevenson.

Robert Louis Stevenson, remembering his Edinburgh days, must have remembered three homes and many haunts. There was his parents’ town house, 17 Heriot Row; there was his grandfather’s manse at Colinton, set low in the old village graveyard by the river; and there was little Swanston, rented by his parents many years as a country residence, nestling in a little hollow high up on the edge of the Pentlands.

During all Stevenson’s Edinburgh days from his eighth year 17 Heriot Row was his home proper. Heriot Row, one of the pleasantest resident streets in Edinburgh, is, like all Edinburgh resident streets, a row{157} of grey stone houses built in absolute uniformity. It is built on the northern slope of the New City, parallel with the three large main streets,—Princes Street, George Street, and Queen Street,—but below them, and is a single row of houses with an open outlook, facing the green trees and turf of the gardens that stretch between Heriot Row and Queen Street above. It was in the nursery facing the gardens and looking up to the dignified dwellings of Queen Street through the trees that the little fretful invalid child was soothed by his faithful Calvinistic nurse, Alison Cunningham, and that on summer evenings, after he had gone to bed, he lay listening to “grown-up people’s feet” on the street below, and watching the birds in the trees.

Till yesterday, when electricity turned night into day, the lamplighter used to go quickly at evening along the Edinburgh streets with his ladder, fix the hook at the end of it into the cross-bar of each lamp-post in turn, run up, lift off the glass top, and light the lamp. Every small street urchin in Scotland knows the cry of “Leerie, Leerie, licht the lamps!”—and the little town child, in his cosy Edinburgh nursery, counted himself very lucky to have a lamp-post just before the front door of his home, and used to sit until his tea was ready and watch for “Leerie” posting down the street with his ladder and his light.

The grandfather Balfour’s manse at Colinton was associated with holidays when all the young cousins played in the dark, shabby, homelike rooms, or, “sin without pardon,” broke the branches and got through{158} a breach in the garden wall, and so to the joys of the river.

It is all there to-day: the damp old harled manse beside the parish church; the graveyard with its ancient tombs and the great iron coffin,—memento of the days of “resurrectionist” terror; the great swirling brown river under the magnificent trees of Colinton Dell; even the “weir with its wonder of foam,” and the old mill with the “wheel in the river.” It is one of the prettiest spots round Edinburgh, cool and quiet, with the reflections of the branches on the brown, foam-flecked surface of the deeper pools; and, close to the village end of the Dell, where the tall, wonderful cedars stand high against the sky above the manse and the church, there is a little fragment of ruin half-hidden among the trees on the steep bank, and tradition speaks vaguely, but suggestively, of a forgotten hermit and his cell.

The village itself is changed since Stevenson knew it. There is now a little double line of railway passing through, and an occasional train puffs out of a rocky tunnel into a little station, and presently proceeds on its leisurely way up the valley. The old parts of Colinton remain in picturesque patches, but round them has blossomed forth a community of red-roofed, gabled houses, with quaint latticed windows, and every shade of “harled” walls. They face every way; but whichever way they face they command lovely views, seen through the clear, brisk Midlothian air, across fields under the rule of the famed Midlothian farming, and to{159} the grand range of the Pentlands, with the beautiful, richly-coloured valley between, and overhead a Scottish sky of great fleecy clouds and deep blue vistas.

Of Stevenson it may be submitted that he was a wandering sheep who did not love the fold; and his Picturesque Notes, for all their literary value, are tinged with the Calvinism he learnt at his nurse’s knee, and inhaled unconsciously in his native air, and that glooms his outlook even whilst he is most jeeringly observant of its effects on others. He was not happy in Edinburgh. But, underlying all the sarcasm, all the sneers, all the bitterness and fretfulness—whether directed at convention, custom, clothes, creeds, or climate—one seems to hear the cry of despairing indignation of youth lacking its birthright of strength and health.

It is pleasanter to think of Stevenson playing the truant from the University, in his country haunts amid whins and whimsies, than of his facing a “downright meteorological purgatory” in the “draughty parallelograms” of the city. Every inch of the Pentlands, of Blackford Hill, of the Braids, of “classic Hawthornden” and all the valley of the Esk, of the windings of the Water of Leith and of the shores of the Firth of Forth—all of it was known to the youthful Stevenson, known so well and so faithfully that he could describe it afterwards from the Tropics. But especially dear and homelike must the Pentlands have been to him—the Pentlands, where the old manse of his boyish holidays lies, and where “Little Swanston”{160} of his later years still nestles in the trees beside one of the most picturesque villages in Scotland, within half-an-hour’s walk from Edinburgh. All the ground between Colinton and Swanston is historic. Had the countryside kept a diary, the first leaves would have been inscribed in Roman characters; for here was once a Roman town, though all that now remains of the conquering race of the old world is a little Roman bridge, and the great unhewn Battlestone standing huge and awesome alone in a field, and telling of the battle fought here, centuries ago, between the Picts and the Romans. A few hundreds of pages farther on in the diary would come the stern words of the persecuted Covenanters, who were encamped near here before the battle of Rullion Green.

All this romance and lore was known to Stevenson and loved by him, as well as he knew and loved the cry of the sea-gulls as they circled overhead, or followed the plough with loud cries of hunger. Often must the young Stevenson, with his strange face and long hair and his eccentric garb, have climbed the steep hill road, past “Hunter’s Tryst,” five hundred feet above sea-level, where, it is told, Allan Ramsay laid the scenery of the Gentle Shepherd,[66] and where the members of the Six Feet Club used to meet in the little roadside inn which Sir Walter Scott and the Ettrick Shepherd both knew well. The quiet cart-road to Swanston leads out of this road, a little beyond the sharp turn at “Hunter’s Tryst,” and before the{161}

ARTHUR’S SEAT FROM THE BRAID HILLS In the immediate foreground is a portion of the Braid Hills; farther on the Blackford Hill with the shelter on its highest point, and at the end of the slope to the right the New Royal Observatory. To the left are part of Edinburgh, the mass of the Castle, and the shores of Fife. The Salisbury Crags and “Lion” of Arthur’s Seat are above all.


In the immediate foreground is a portion of the Braid Hills; farther on the Blackford Hill with the shelter on its highest point, and at the end of the slope to the right the New Royal Observatory. To the left are part of Edinburgh, the mass of the Castle, and the shores of Fife. The Salisbury Crags and “Lion” of Arthur’s Seat are above all.

cross-roads at Fairmilehead. It leads yet another hundred feet higher, a gentle ascent between fields and pastures, and across a tiny trickling burn fringed with willows, to the green slopes at the foot of Caerketton, one of the Pentland range. Passing a big open cart-shed, many empty carts, a cottage or two, cackling poultry, and a barking dog, you come to Swanston, the garden gate open, giving a most alarming view of a very modern and grotesque effigy of Tam o’ Shanter—usually taken for a statue of Stevenson—which is set on a rockery half-way up the little drive. All this is visible and prominent; but the village lies hidden behind the house; and Swanston Cottage, Stevenson’s home, is a little to one side, on the slope of the hill, and remains unseen, especially in spring or summer when the trees are full of leaf. Swanston itself, now a farm, was originally a grange belonging to some neighbouring religious house, probably Currie, and is a fine old stone building, its tall gabled side having the characteristically Scottish “crow steps.” The road continues, a mere cart track, in front of the garden wall, and curls round at the back to some modern cottages, “stane sclated”; and here it ends, as if unwilling to betray that a few steps farther on is one of the prettiest villages in Scotland—a rustic group of thatched and harled homesteads, with here and there fenced-in gardens of old-fashioned flowers, and all set round about an irregular patch of village green and Swanston Burn, beside which play the little healthy, bonny Scottish bairns, “like tumbled fruit in grass.”{162}

The inhabitants of this village remember Stevenson well. They thought he was “daft.” His fame has not yet impressed them. “Ay, he was much aboot the place,” an old dame will say, indifferently. “But, whenever the wind was in the east, he would be off to his grandfather’s at Colinton,” a hale and sturdy old man will add.

“He was much aboot the place.” To the Stevenson lover this is its charm to-day—above the bleating of the lambs, above the delight of the wholesome air, above the tones and tints of thatch against the hill or of wood reek against the sky. And yet, to Stevenson, it was all these things that charmed, and that he recollected so tenderly when he lay slowly dying in far-away Samoa: the barking of the sheep-dog and the voice of the shepherd in the grey early morning, and the pure air that was “rustically scented”—all the sights and sounds so dear to the country-lover. And yet, climb up a little among the whins and the pastures behind his home, and turn—and there lies Edinburgh below you, painted like a picture in the haze of smoke and sunshine.{163}

THE WATER OF LEITH FROM DEAN BRIDGE We are looking west up stream, towards the sun setting behind Corstorphine Hill. Above the waterfall is a distillery with its chimney pointing to the Dean U.F. Church. On the right of the picture are the two towers of the Orphan Hospital.


We are looking west up stream, towards the sun setting behind Corstorphine Hill. Above the waterfall is a distillery with its chimney pointing to the Dean U.F. Church. On the right of the picture are the two towers of the Orphan Hospital.



Life holds not an hour that is better to live in: the past is a tale that is told,
The future a sun-flecked shadow, alive and asleep, with a blessing in store.

IN Edinburgh, at whatever other hour of the day the resident or tourist may let his mind dwell in the past, at one o’clock he will always be brought back to the present moment; for at one o’clock the gun goes off at the Castle, and horses and men and women that are gun-shy are greatly startled, and every one pulls out his watch. But, except precisely at one o’clock, it is as impossible to exist in Edinburgh without living in the past as it would be to walk along Princes Street without seeing the Castle. We are a little archaic in Edinburgh. Yet there are other things of the present that you may notice after you have set your watch to Greenwich time by the one-o’clock gun. Princes Street is gay with shop windows under awnings, with the big bow-windows of the Clubs, with many hotels; and now{164} there are bigger and newer hotels to east and to west, at the railway stations. And Princes Street is full of a constant stream of traffic, plying in the wide street between the one broad pavement on the north side and the row of statues along the green sward and the blazing flower-beds in the beautiful gardens opposite: cable cars with noisy bells, motor cars, carriages, bicycles, electric broughams, station lorries, hansom cabs, and the crawling “char-a-bancs,” with their scarlet-coated drivers, picking up passengers for the Forth Bridge or Roslin. But still the north-east wind takes the liberty of blowing from the Forth among all these modern innovations, and whirling an unwary hat or a too-lightly-held newspaper high into the air.

As the wind is unchanged in temper, so are the natural features unchanged in beauty; and the views of the city, “from a’ the airts the wind can blaw,” are pictures to gladden the artist or the poet. There is the “Marmion view” from the south,—the view that Scott loved and Turner painted,—but with a denser massing of suburb than they saw, reaching right up to the furzy knoll where Marmion stood. Here is the Castle in all its majesty, with the Grassmarket and Cowgate huddled picturesquely under its precipices, and the old dark descending spine of the High Street, with St. Giles’s open crown over the roofs, and then all the maze and glitter of a newer world, with its many domes and steeples, and the Forth beyond.

This is from the south; but, seen from the western roads and heights, the city is even more striking. As{165} you drive to the Forth Bridge along the fine old coach road to Queensferry,—the very road along which Jonathan Oldbuck and his companion drove in their journey in The Antiquary—you pass an occasional farm-house with mellow stacks about it and a smoky throat, and you must remember you are “within a mile of Edinburgh toun,” where “Bonny Jockie, blythe and gay, kissed sweet Jenny making hay.” Here, turn your head and you will see the dark mass of Arthur’s Seat lifted up in the air, and upon its western wall the fretted outline of the city and the Castle Rock, seeming not painted but actually engraven like some old hieroglyphic.

To view Edinburgh from the north, you must journey over the Forth Bridge and look across from the Fife coast opposite. From the wooded “haughs” between Aberdour and Burntisland, Edinburgh, seen through a veil of green summer leaves across six miles of rough bright blue, seems painted in air, a scene of magic loveliness not to be excelled in all the idyllic world of romance or dream. In the nearest foreground the little island of Inchcolm with its tiny golden strand and ruined monastery; farther out to sea Inchkeith’s lighthouse ringed with a fringe of foam; and, beyond, a world of heights and hollows: Arthur’s Seat and the rigid uncurved slant of the Salisbury Crags, and the gabled intricacy of the Old Town, stretching from the hollow up to the black mass of rock on which the Castle glooms in mid-air, and then the New Town fantastically domed and steepled in the low foreground, and the{166} white-columned summit of Calton Hill. Down at the water’s edge, between the Forth and this fairy show, are the dusky roofs and docks and shipping of Granton and Leith. Away to the west, the dwindling Forth is spanned by the arches of the monster bridge; and beyond it stretch the woods of Dalmeny and Abercorn. In the far east, where the Forth has widened to the sea, are the outjutting headlands, and on one of them is the curious cone called Berwick Law; while, behind all, for a background, the distant Pentlands slope to the south in softest purple.

Dear to the heart of the resident is the view seen as one comes down the Mound on a winter’s afternoon at sunset, when the Castle stands dark against the glorious red of the western sky, and Princes Street, her lamps and her windows all alight, looks like a jewelled necklace.

But of all views of Edinburgh the most mystically beautiful is that seen from the Calton Hill by night. The city is close about you; but in the darkness there is isolation. Across a gulf of impenetrable gloom there is spread a panorama of heights and depths, beaded by a myriad of lights, with those in the depths seeming to be reflected from those in the heights, like a starry sky seen in a deep pool. And, as you encircle the hill, you find always some new phantasy of light and gloom, until on the side towards the Firth there seems to be a stretch of flat black country garlanded with lights that dip and rise with every bend of the land down to the lip of the sea; and all round the coast every{167}

THE NATIONAL MONUMENT ON CALTON HILL This noble monument represents a partial reproduction of the Parthenon on the Acropolis at Athens. In the picture the spectator is supposed to be looking at the north-west angle of the Temple, showing the eight columns of the west front and two on the north side. On the left of the picture is a glimpse of the Firth of Forth, while to the right, behind the columns, rises Arthur’s Seat.


This noble monument represents a partial reproduction of the Parthenon on the Acropolis at Athens. In the picture the spectator is supposed to be looking at the north-west angle of the Temple, showing the eight columns of the west front and two on the north side. On the left of the picture is a glimpse of the Firth of Forth, while to the right, behind the columns, rises Arthur’s Seat.

point and pier and headland is studded with coloured sea-lights; and far out in the measureless mid-Firth flashes the great Eye of the revolving light of Inchkeith.

Brave the “sharp sops of sleet and snipand snaw,” and come to Edinburgh in winter, and you will find all the residents at home and busy: the Law Courts sitting; the University at work; a regiment, with khaki coverings to their kilts, quartered at the Castle, and tramping through the town in rhythm to the tune of the pipes; and all the gaiety of balls and dinners and theatres in the evening hours. Risk the keen blast of the east wind, and come to Edinburgh in April, and you will be able to attend the Graduation in Arts at the M‘Ewan Hall,—in the character of an honorary graduate if you deserve it. Come in May, and you will find the streets thronged with black-coated ministers and elders from every parish in Scotland; for the Assemblies will be sitting, and the Lord High Commissioner will be holding semi-royal state at Holyrood. Come in autumn, as you always will; and it will be to find the long rows of stately stone dwellings left tenantless, and their appalling regularity and monotony rendered even more appalling by the brown paper that fills the windows, and by the boarding that is up before the doors. But the shop windows will be full of tartans for your edification, and you will find your cabman able to tell you all you want to know. At any other season Edinburgh is a hospitable city, and it is growing every day a more cosmopolitan one. English residents have altered{168} national ways; ruthless hands are tearing down our beautiful old stone houses, and building tenements in their places; and soon—too soon—all Scottish traits will be lost.

But the Castle Rock cannot be levelled. It was there, in the mist and the rain, before Edinburgh began; and it will be there, in the mist and the rain, when Edinburgh has ceased to be.{169}


A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W.

Abbotsford, 138, 141, 145
Abercromby, George (Lord), 134
Adamson, Bishop (1584), 55
Advocates’ Close, 72, 73
Albany, Duke of, brother of James III., 13-14
Alexander II., 46
Alexander III., 9, 17, 24
Allan, Sir William, 138, 149
Alnwick Castle, 6
Anchor Close, 75, and note
Angus, Earl of, called “Archibald Bell-the-Cat,” 48, 49
Angus, Earl of, 15 note, 50, 88
Anne of Denmark, wife of James VI., 71, 102
Argyle, Marquis of, 15-16, 80
Arran, Earl of, 88, 89
Arthur’s Seat, 23, 27, 36, 38, 165
Ashestiel, 138
Assembly Rooms (Old Edinburgh), 73, 74, 75
Auchinleck, Lord, his caustic saying concerning Dr. Johnson, 110
Ayala, Don Pedro de, ambassador from Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain to the Court of James IV., 28, 29
Aytoun, Professor, 149

Bailie Fyfe’s Close, 74, 77
Baillie, Joanna, 138
Balcarres, Countess of. See Hyndford’s Close
Balfour, Dr., grandfather of R. L. Stevenson, 157
Bannatyne Club, the, 142
“Banner of Blue,” 14
Barbauld, Mrs., 134
Barnard, Lady Anne (née Lindsay), 62, 77
Bastian, servant of Mary, Queen of Scots, 40
Baxter’s Close, 70
Beaton, Cardinal, 50, 76
Beaton, James, Archbishop of Glasgow, 88-89
Beattie, the poet, 108
Beaufort, Jane, wife of James I., 11-12, 25-26
“Begbie murder,” the, 77
Belches of Invermay, Sir John and Lady Jane, and their daughter, Scott’s first love, 133
“Bell-the-Cat.” See Angus
Bell’s Wynd, 73, 74
Bernham, David de, Norman Bishop of St. Andrews (1243), 46
“Bible Close,” 78
Bishops of Edinburgh (Established Episcopalian), 54
Bishop’s Palace. See Whitehorse Close
Black, Adam, 151
Black, Professor, 120
Blackford Hill, 130, 159
Blackfriars Street, formerly Wynd, 40, 76, 88, 109
Blackie, Professor, 152
Blackwood’s Magazine, 149
Blair, Dr., 108
Borthwick, Master Gunner to James IV., 27
Boswell, Sir Alexander, his verses on Miss Nicky Murray, 73-74, 138
Boswell, James, 68, 100, 108-109, 110
Boswell, Mrs.,{170} 108-109
Bothwell, Adam, Bishop of Orkney, 40, 71-72
Bothwell, Earl of, 39, 40, 41, 66, 71
“Bow-head Saints,” the, 96-97
Boyd, George. See Mound
Boyd’s Close, 82 note, 107-108
Braid Hills, the, 159
Brantôme, Sieur de, 36, 37
Brewster, Sir David, 151
Bristo Street, 113
Brodie’s Close, 70
Brougham, Lord, 150, 151
Brown, George, builder of George Square and Brown Square, 122
Brown, Dr. John, 151
Brown, Dr. Thomas, 149
Brown Square, 122
Bruce, King Robert the, 9, 10, 18, 42, 83
Bruce, Marjory, daughter of King Robert the Bruce, 42
Buchan, Earl of, 108
Buchanan, George, 50, 91, 92-93
Burnet, Miss, 112, 114
Burns, Robert, lodges in Baxter’s Close, 70, 75;
his triumphant reception in Edinburgh, 111-113;
meeting with Scott, 113;
“Clarinda and Sylvander,” 113-114;
Edina, Scotia’s darling seat, 114-115
Burton, Dr. John Hill, 151
Byers’ Close, 71-73, and 71 note
Byers of Coates, John, 71 note

Caledonian Hunt, the, and Burns’s Poems, 112-113
Calton Hill, 46;
the view from, 166
Campbell, Thomas, 137, 149
Candlish, Dr., 150
Canongate, the, 24, 62, 63, 64, 67, 78-82, 100, 101, 105, 106, 124
Cant’s Close, 76
Carberry Hill, battle of, 41, 66
Carey, Sir Robert, 41-42
Carlyle, Dr., of Inveresk, 107
Carlyle, Thomas, 150, 151
Carnegie, Andrew, 154
“Castell of Maydens,” 5
Castle, the, 3-21;
story of Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret, 5-8;
Queen Margaret’s Chapel in, 5, 7, 9, 15, 16;
“Frank’s Escalade,” 10;
besieged by Henry IV. of England, 11;
the “Black Dinner” (1440), 12-13, 17;
story of the Duke of Albany, 13-14;
James VI. born in the Palace of, 15;
Jacobites imprisoned in, 16;
the Great Hall of, 16-18, 155;
the Regalia, 18-20, 140;
“Mons Meg,” 20-21, 144;
mentions of, 23, 24, 26, 69, 86, 120;
the “one-o’clock gun,” 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168
Castle Street, 135, 136, 137 note, 138, 139, 142, 143, 145
Cathedral (St. Giles’s). See St. Giles, Church of
St. Mary, 71 note, 154
Chalmers, Dr., 150
Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, 149
Chambers, Robert, 19, and note, 20, 54, 72, 73, 74, 81, 119-121, 129;
his writings, and his friendship with Scott, 149
Chambers, William, 61, 155
Charles I., 18, 41, 42, 43, 54, 82, 94
Charles II., 19, 43, 58, 65, 95
Charles Edward Stuart (Prince Charlie), 43-44, 99, 130, 131 note
Chepman, Walter, earliest Scottish printer, 27, 47, 48, 49 note
Chiesley of Dalry, 153
Christison, Sir Robert, 151
“Christopher North.” See Wilson
Church of St. Giles. See St. Giles
“Clarinda” (Mrs. M‘Lehose), 113-114
Claverhouse, Graham of, 126, 138
“Cleanse the Causeway,” 66, 88-89, 127
Clerks of Penicuik, the, 98, 132, 133, 136, 138
Closes and Wynds of Edinburgh, 62-82, 88, 95-96, 99, 100, 105, 106, 108, 109, 120, 129
Coalstoun, Lord, story of, 72-73
Coates House, 71 note
Cockburn, Lord, 149, 150
Cockburn, Mrs., 100
Colinton, 156, 157, 158, 160, 162
College Wynd, 106, 120, 129
Combe, George, 151
Comely Bank, 150
Constable, Thomas, 141
Court of Session,{171} 85
Covenanters, the, 59, 96, 160
Cowgate, the, 40, 64, 87, 88, 90, 91, 95, 96, 120, 164
Crabbe, George, 138, 143
Craig, Lord, 113
Craigie, Lord President, 124
Craigmillar, 144 note
Craigmillar Quarry, 122
Crail, 35
Cranstoun, George (Lord Corehouse), 134
Cranstoun, Miss, 134, 135
Creech’s Land, 105
“Crochallan Fencibles,” 75, 112
Cromwell, Oliver, banquets in the Hall of the Castle, 18;
stays at Moray House, 79-80;
enters Edinburgh after the battle of Dunbar, 58
Cross, the City, 31, 43, 58, 98, 132, 141
Cullen Professor, 120
Cunningham, Alison, 157
Cunningham, Dr., 150
Cunyie House (the Scottish Mint), 76
Currie, 161

Dalkeith, 30, 144
Dalmeny, the woods of, 166
Darnley, Earl of, 38-39, 39-40, 42, 76
David I., 23-24, 46
David II., and David’s Tower in the Castle, 10
Dawney Douglas’s Tavern, 75, 112
Deacon Brodie. See Brodie’s Close
Defoe, 104-105
“Delta.” See Moir
De Quincey, 150
Dick of Prestonfield, Sir Alexander, 109
Dickens, Charles, 151
Disruption, the, 150-151
Don of Newton, Sir Alexander, 138
Donald Bane, 7
Douglas, Duchess of, 108
Douglas, Duke of, 125
Douglas, Gavin, 27;
account of, 48-50, 87-89, 148
Douglas, Lady Jane, 70
Dowie’s Tavern, 112
Drummond of Hawthornden, 29, 94, 104
Drummond, Lord Provost, 123
Drummond Place, 125, 126, 152
Drummore, Lord, 124-125
Drumsheugh, the ancient forest of, 23, 31, 46
Duddingston, 100
Dunbar, William, 28, 29, 31, 87
Dundas, Sir Laurence, 125
Dundonald, Earl of, 70
Dunfermline, 4, 6, 8, 155

Edgar, second son of Malcolm Canmore, 7
Edinburgh made an Episcopal See (1633), 54
Edinburgh Courant, 104
Edinburgh Review, 137 and note, 149
Edward I. of England, 9, 24, 46, 50
Edward II. of England, 25, 46
Edward “the Confessor,” 5
Eglintoun, Susanna, Countess of, 75, 98-100
Eglintoun, Lord, 98-99
Elizabeth, Queen of England, 42
Elliott of Minto, Miss Jeanie, 122
Erskine, friend of Scott, 134
Erskine, Henry, Advocate, 108
“Ettrick Shepherd,” the. See Hogg

Fairmilehead, 161
Falkland, 11, 35
Fergusson, Professor, 113, 134
Fergusson, Robert, 112
Ferrier, the family of, 112, 114
Ferrier, Miss, 149
Findlay, John Ritchie, 154
Firth of Forth. See Forth
Fleming of Cumbernauld, Sir Malcolm, 12, 13
Flodden, battle of, 31-33, 35, 49 note;
the Flodden Wall, 62, 87
Forbes of Pitsligo, Sir William, and Burns, 112
Forbes of Pitsligo, Sir William, and Scott, 133, 145
Forbes, William, first Established Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh (1634), 54
“Fore-stairs,” 65, 66, 76
Forth (river, and Firth of), 3-4, 5, 7, 8, 21, 35, 36, 46, 155, 159, 165, 166, 167
Forth Bridge, the, 4, 155, 164, 165, 166
Fortune’s Tavern, 75-76
Franklin, Benjamin,{172} 107

Gay, John, 81, 105-106
General’s Entry, 113
George I., 16
George III., 98, 99, 126
George IV., 141, 142
George Square, 122, 130, 131
George Street, 135, 139, 150, 157
Glammis, Lady, 14-15, and note
Glenlee, Lord, 122
“Golden Charter,” 14
Goldsmith, Oliver, 73, 106
Goodsir, Professor John, 151
“Goose Pie, the,” 98
Gordon, Duchess of, 76-77, 112
Gordon of Haddo, Sir John, 58
Grange, Lord, 74
Granton, 150, 166
Grassmarket, the, 15, 97, 120, 164
Gray of Pittendrum, Lord, and Lady, 68-69, and note
Great King Street, 150
Greyfriars’ Church and Churchyard, 51, 96, 133
Gustavus Vasa, Prince, 141
Guthrie, Dr., 150

Haddington, first Earl of (“Tam o’ the Cowgate”), 90-92
“Haddo’s Hole,” in St. Giles’s, 58, 59
Hailes, Lord, 108
Hall, the Rev. Mr., Presbyterian divine (1603), 53
Hamilton, Sir William, 150
Hart, Andro, 94
Hawthornden, 94, 109, 159
Hay, James, story of, 96
“Heart of Midlothian,” 63. See also Tolbooth
Henry III. of England, 9
Henry IV. of England, 11
Henry VII. of England, 30
Henry VIII. of England, 35, 37, 46, 50
Henry, Prince, eldest son of James VI., 41
Heriot, George, 90-91
Heriot Row, 156, 157
High School, the (in Old Edinburgh), 71, 92, 130
High Street, the, 62, 76, 77, 80, 88, 90, 94, 96, 105, 108, 123, 124, 127, 141, 164
“Highland Lady,” the, 153
Hogg, James (the “Ettrick Shepherd”), 136-137, 149, 160
Holbein, his miniature portrait of James IV., 29
Holyrood, 18, 22-44, 47, 53, 62, 63, 64, 65, 70, 76, 84, 91, 109, 120, 144, 167;
legend of the founding of the Abbey, 23;
Abbey burnt by Edward II., 25;
in reign of James IV., 26-33;
in reign of James V., 33-35;
in reign of Queen Mary, 35-41;
Charles I. christened at, 41;
and crowned at, 42;
rebuilt by Charles II., 43;
Abbey Church restored by James VII., 43;
Prince Charlie at, 43-44;
the Abbey desecrated and destroyed, 44
Home, John, 107
Hope, Sir Thomas, King’s Advocate, 34, 95
Homer, Francis, 52
Hume, David, 68, 71, 100-101, 109, 125
Hunter’s Tryst, 160
Huntly, Earl of, 39
Hyndford’s Close, 76, 77

Inchcolm, 165
Inchkeith, 109, 165
Irving, John, 134
Isles, Lord of the, story of, in 1429, 25-26

Jack’s Land, 101
Jacobites imprisoned in the Castle, 16
James I., 11, 12, 22, 26, 84
James II., 17, 26, 85, 86
James III., 14, 26, 68, 85
James IV., 16, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, and note, 37, 38, 42, 49 note, 66, 87
James V., 14, 18, 33, 35, 85, 87, 88, 89
James VI., 15, 18, 41-42, 43, 52, 53, 71, 85, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 102-103, 104, 124
James VII., 43, 95
James’s Court, 68, 70, 101, 108, 125
Jeffrey, Lord, 131-132, 137, and note, 138, 149, 150
“Jenny Geddes,” 45, 54-58, 59
“Jock o’ Sklates.” See Mar, Earl of
Jonson, Ben,{173} 104
Johnson, Dr., 68, 82 note, 100, 107-109, 110, 111

Kames, Lord, 108
Keith of Ravelston, Mrs., 148
Kemp, architect of the Scott Monument, 154 note
Kennedy, Bishop, 85-86
Kennedy, Sir Archibald, 98
Kincaid, Alexander, publisher, 107
Kingsley, Charles, 151
Kirkaldy of Grange, 52
Knox, John, 38, 49 note, 50, 51, and note, 52, 55, 61;
his house, 65, 77, 90, and note;
his grave, 65, 149
Krames, the, 53

Lady Stair’s Close, 68-70, 105
“Laigh Council House,” the, 91
Laing, David, 106, 149
Laing, Malcolm, 134
Lands, the (in Old Edinburgh), 62-82, 85, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 95, 99, 100, 101, 103, 105, 107, 108, 112, 113
Lang Dykes (called also Lang Gait), 121, 126
Lasswade, Scott’s cottage at, 136
Laud, Archbishop, his Service-Book, 55, and note, 56
Lauder, 48
Lauder of Blyth, Sir Alexander, 49
Lawnmarket, the, 62, 63, 68, 69, 127
Leith, 13, 14, 20, 26, 27, 34, 36, 97, 104, 142, 166
Leslie, Alexander, the Covenanting General, 18
Leven, Earl of, 76
Libberton’s Wynd, 112
Library, Advocates’, 96, 134;
Public, 95, 154;
Signet, 91
Lindores, Abbey Church of, 52
Lindsay, Earl of, 41
Lindsay, Sir David, 34, 89
Linlithgow, 35
Lister, Lord, 151-152
Lockhart of Carnwath, George, 122
Lockhart, John Gibson, 140, 141, 144, 149
“Logy, Maister Leonard,” 33 note
Lord of the Isles. See Isles
Lorn, Lord (1650), 80
Loudoun, Earl of, 69
Luckenbooths, the, 105

Macaulay, Lord, 151
M‘Crie, Thomas, 149
M‘Ewan, William, 154
M‘Ewan Hall, the, 154, 167
Mackenzie, Sir George, 76, 95-96
Mackenzie, Henry (“the Man of Feeling”), 149
Maclean, of Torloisk, Mrs., and her daughters, 138
Macmorran, Bailie, 71
Madeleine, first wife of James V., 34, 44, 94
Malcolm Canmore, 4, 5-8, 35, 126, 155
Mansfield, Earl of, 74
Mar, Earl of, 18;
Earl of Mar called “Jock o’ Sklates,” 92
Margaret, Saint, Queen of Scotland, second wife of Malcolm Canmore, 5-8, 9, 15, 16, 24, 126, 155
Margaret, daughter of Henry III. of England, betrothed to Alexander III., 9
Margaret of Denmark, wife of James III., 26
Margaret Tudor, wife of James IV., 30, 35, 37, 50, 66, 87
“Marmion view,” the, 164
Mary of Gueldres, wife of James II., 26, 86
Mary of Lorraine (Mary of Guise), second wife of James V., and Regent of Scotland, 35, 50, 51, 89-90
Mary, Queen of Scots, 5, 8, 15, 18, 35-41, 50, 52, 66, 76, 84, 143
Maud, daughter of Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret, 126
Maxwell of Monreith, Lady, and her daughters, 76-77
Meadows, the, 122
Melrose, dwelling of the Abbots of, 76, 95
Melville, Andrew, 93
Menzies, William, anecdote concerning Scott and son of, 138
Merchiston Castle, 93, 153
Miller, Hugh, 151
Mint, the Scottish. See Cunyie House
Moir, Dr. (“Delta”),{174} 150
Monboddo, Lord, 112
“Mons Meg,” 20-21, 144
Montrose, Marquis of, 59, 69, 80, and note
Moray House, account of, 79-80
Morocco Close, 78
Mound, the, formation of, 127;
and Sir Walter Scott, 137, 139;
view from, 166
Munro, Professor, 120
Murray, Dr. Alexander, 149
Murray of Auchtertyre, Patrick, 134
Murray of Broughton, 131, and note
Murray of Henderland, Mrs., 108
Murray, Miss Nicky, 74, 77
Murray of Simprim, Patrick, 134
Murray, manager of the Theatre Royal, 144
Myllar, Andro, 27
Mylne’s Court, 68
Mylne, John, Royal Master Mason, 43
Mylne, Robert, Royal Master Mason, 68
Mylne, Robert, F.R.S., Royal Master Mason, account of, 74-75, and note

Nairne, Baroness, 100, 148
Nairne Lodge, 100
Napier of Merchiston, 93
National Portrait Gallery, 154
Neaves, Lord, 150
Nelson, Thomas, 155
Netherbow Port, the, 62, 63
Newark, Lord, Covenanting General, 98
Niddry’s Wynd, 74
Nor’ Loch, 26, 51, 69, 120, 124, 126-127
North Bridge, the, 123, 137

Old Assembly Close, 73
“Old Kirk, the” (in St. Giles’s), 51
Oliphants of Gask, the, 100, 148
“Outer Tolbooth,” the, 49 note

Panmure’s Close, 100
Paoli, the Corsican, 68
Parliament House, 65, 72, 81, 85, 134, 142, 144
Paterson, John, Bishop of Edinburgh, 82
Pembroke, Earl of (Shakespeare’s friend), 103
Pentlands, the, 156, 159, 161, 166
Philosophical Institution, the, and its first Presidents and Lecturers, 151
Playfair, Lyon (Lord Playfair), 151
Poker Club, the, 75, 76, 120
Pope Innocent IV. (and St. Margaret), 8
Pope Julius II. (and James IV)., 19
Potterrow, 79, 100, 113, 130
Preston Aisle, the (in St. Giles’s), 47
Preston of Gorton, William, 47
Priestfield (now Prestonfield), 27, 109
Primrose, James, Viscount, 69
Princes Street, 124, 125, 126, 132, 142, 153, 154, 157, 163, 164, 166
Printing in Edinburgh in the reign of James IV., 27

Queen Street, 143, 152, 154, 157
Queensberry, Duchess of (“Kitty”), 81, 105
Queensberry House, 79;
tragedy in, 80-81
Queensberry, Marquis of, 81
Queensferry Road, view of Edinburgh from, 165

Raeburn, Sir Henry, 144, 149
Ramsay, Allan (the poet), 74, 97-98, 99, 105-106, 107, 160
Ramsay, Allan (the artist), 98, 108
Ramsay, Dean, 150
Ramsay, General, 98
Randolph of Strathdon, Sir Thomas, 10
Regalia, the Scottish, 18-20, 140, 144
Riccio, David, 15, 38-39
Richard II. of England, 46
Riddle’s Close, 70, 101
Robertson, Principal, 108, 109
Ronsard (the French poet), 34
Rose, Abernethy, Bishop of Edinburgh, 54
Rosebery, the Earl of, 68
Rosehaugh Close, 95-96
Roslin, Boswell takes Dr. Johnson to, 109;
Scott takes Wordsworth to, 136, 164
Ross, the Lords, and Ross House, 122
Rothesay, the Duke of, eldest son of Robert III., 11
Royal Scottish Academy, 142
Royal Scottish Society,{175} 142
Rullion Green, battle of, 59, 160
Ruskin, John, 151
Russel, Alexander, 151
Ruthven, Earl of, 41

St. Andrew’s Church in George Street, 150
St. Andrew Square, 124, 125
St. Cecilia’s Hall, 74-75
St. David Street, 125, 145
St. Giles, Church of, 24, 27, 45-61, 63, 65, 72, 86, 87, 94, 120, 144, 155, 164
St. John Street, 107
Salamander Land, 105
Salisbury Crags, 26, 165
Sandilands’ Close, 85
Scott, Anne, 145
Scott, General, 125-126, 152
Scott, Sir Gilbert, 154
Scott of Harden, Hugh, 135
Scott, Lady, wife of Sir Walter Scott, 135, 137;
death of, 145
Scott, Mr. and Mrs., parents of Sir Walter, 131
Scott, Sophia, 140
Scott, Sir Walter, 11, 20, 65, 69-70, 113, 129-146, 147, 160;
his homes in and near Edinburgh, 135-139, 141, 143, 145;
his later places of residence, 145;
his circle of friends, 148-150;
the Scott Monument, 153-154
Scottish Regalia. See Regalia
Scougall, John, artist, 73
“Seven Sisters of Borthwick,” 20, 27
Simpson, Sir James Y., 151
Shakespeare, 5;
was he in Edinburgh? 103
Shandwick Place, 145
Sharpe, Kirkpatrick, 138, 149
Shoemaker’s Land, 78
Six Feet Club, 160
Skelton, John, 151
Skene of Rubislaw, 135, 145
Skene, W. F., 151
Smith, Adam, 100
Smith, Alexander, 151
Smith, Sydney, 138
Smollett, Tobias, 107
Solway Moss, battle of, 35
South Gray’s Close, 76
Spottiswoode, Archbishop, 56
Stair, the Earl of, 69
Stair, Lady, and Lady Stair’s Close, 68-70
Stamp Office Close, 75-76, 99
Steele, Richard, 105
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 77, 78, 156-162
Stewart, Dugald, 149
Strichen’s Close, 76, 95
Stuart, Sir John (the “Black Knight of Lorn”), 12
Swanston, 156, 159-160, 161
Syme, Professor, 151

Tait, Professor, 151
“Tam o’ the Cowgate.” See Haddington, Earl of
Taylor, “the Water Poet,” 64, 104
Telfer, Mrs., of Scotstoun, 107
Tercentenary of the University, 152
Thackeray, 151
Thomson, Thomas, legal antiquary, 133
Tinwald, Lord Justice Clerk, 124
“Tolbooth Kirk, the” (in St. Giles’s), 51 note
Tolbooth, the, 53, 59, 63, 65, 69, 80, 155 note
Topham, Captain, 73, 109-111
Trollope, Anthony, 151
Tron Church, the, 132
“Tulzie,” a, 66
Turgot, Bishop, 6, 7, 8
Tweeddale Close, 77
Tytlers of Woodhouselee, the, 136

Union, the (1707), 64, 76;
Treaty of, 80, 81
Union, the Students’ University, 154
United Free Assembly Hall, 90
University, the, 85, 92, 109, 111, 120, 151, 152, 154, 159, 167

Vasa, Prince Gustavus, and the Baron Polier, 141
Victoria, Queen, her first visit to Edinburgh (1842), 147, 150
Volunteers, the Scottish Light Horse, 135

Walker Street, 145
Wallace, Sir William, 9, 24
Warbeck, Perkin, at the Court of James IV.,{176} 28
Watt, the Republican, 134
Webber, his attempt on Scott’s life, 139
Weir, Major, and his sister Grisel, 96-97
West Bow, 97
West Port, 92
Whiteford, Sir John, 112
Whiteford, Miss, 114
Whitehorse Close, 54, 81-82, and 82 note
Whitehorse Inn. See Boyd’s Close
Wilson, Professor (“Christopher North”), 149
Wishart, Chaplain to Montrose, and afterward Bishop of Edinburgh, 59
Wood, Sir Andrew, 27-28
Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy visit Scott in 1803, 136
World’s End Close, 76
Wynds (of Edinburgh). See Closes


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In Our Town.

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Leslie Farquhar.

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Lives of Pollock and Aytoun. (Famous Scots Series.)

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A Departure from Tradition, & other Stories.

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My Poor Niece, and other Stories.

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Use and Abuse of English.

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Containing 75 Full-Page Illustrations in Colour



Edition de Luxe (limited impression), price 2 guineas net

“HAPPY ENGLAND,” by Mrs. Allingham, the England of sunshine, flower gardens and lovely rural scenes, which the summer of 1904 has shown to be no mere memory but actual fact, is now to be followed by BONNIE SCOTLAND, the next volume in Messrs. Black’s series of Beautiful Books illustrated in colour.

Mr. Sutton Palmer is the artist, and his style is not unlike Mrs. Allingham’s in its careful drawing and regard for detail, while he, too, has an eye for colour as is exemplified in his sketches of brown hills and purple heather, and in the glimpses of the indigo colouring of the deep lochs. Both artists are alike also in having elicited Mr. Ruskin’s praise of their work.

It was the heartfelt wish of Robert Burns to “make a beuk for poor auld Scotland’s sake”; he succeeded better than he knew. And Sir Walter Scott, a quarter of a century later, by publishing “The Lady of the Lake” and the “Waverley Novels,” became the Columbus of the Highlands, making the people and their country known to Englishmen. In BONNIE SCOTLAND the scenery familiar to many from Scott’s verbal descriptions will become real to the eye, and even those who know not Scotland cannot fail to feel the charm of this wonderful land of which Mr. Menpes has said: “Take the finest bit of Switzerland and the finest bit of Norway, dip them in water and you have Scotland.” And again, “It is the chief charm of Scotland that one sees everywhere such rich, deep, stirring colour.”

Mr. A. R. Hope Moncrieff, himself a Scot, who contributes the letterpress, has not written merely descriptive matter. He has given an outline of Scotland’s salient features, and glimpses of her history, national church, and literature, lightened by the entertaining reminiscences and anecdotes of one who has travelled widely and is able to judge his countrymen at their proper worth. In fact, this is a book that will have to take its place in the library of every lover of Scotland.







Containing 20 Full-Page Illustrations in Colour Facsimile

PRICE 7s. 6d. NET

Many volumes and countless articles have been written about Scottish life and character, while the grand and beautiful in the scenery of Scotland have been reproduced in numerous ways, from the rough wood-cut to the latest colour process, but in the present book the hard-beaten path is departed from, and some of the less familiar pictures of Scottish life are represented. Mr. Henry J. Dobson, R.S.W., has devoted much of his life to placing on canvas those humble Scottish interiors which are fast disappearing, and, though his work in this direction is well known to art lovers, the present reproduction in colours of twenty of his paintings will receive a wide welcome. The quiet, grey tones of the interiors, and the life-like portraits of the inmates, will recall to many the old country life in Scotland, when time to them was still young. The letterpress, which has been written by Mr. Wm. Sanderson, editor of the Border Magazine, deals in a pleasing way with many varied phases of Scottish life which, like the illustrations, will be sure to awaken cherished memories of the past in the hearts of many readers.







Of all God’s gifts to the sight of man, colour is the holiest, the most Divine, the most solemn.”—Ruskin.



















All men completely organized and justly tempered enjoy colour; it is meant for the perpetual comfort and delight of the human heart.”—Ruskin.
























































































In preparation












































Others in preparation
























[1] Now St. Saviour’s.

[2] Groom of the Chamber.

[3] She was a sister of the Earl of Angus, and had married, first, Lord Glammis, and, second, Archibald Campbell of Skipness.

[4] Chambers’s Walks in Edinburgh, p. 50.

[5] Ibid. p. 49.

[6] Paragon.

[7] Now Prestonfield.

[8] Miss Warrender’s Walks near Edinburgh. Edinburgh: David Douglas.

[9] William Dunbar, by Oliphant Smeaton, “Famous Scots Series.” Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson, and Ferrier.

[10] Bergenroth, Simancas Papus, vol. i. p. 169. Quoted in Early Travellers in Scotland, edited by Professor Hume Brown. Edinburgh: David Douglas.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather.

[13] W. E. Aytoun, Lays of the Cavaliers.

[14] Burgh Records of Edinburgh (1403-1528), p. 144.

[15] In September of that year “Maister Leonard Logy” was pensioned by James IV. for his “diligent and grate labour” in “bigging of the palace beside the Abbey of the Holy Croce.”

[16] Sir David Lindsay.

[17] Henry Glassford Bell.

[18] From Buchanan’s Detection (first Scots translation) quoted in Mary, Queen of Scots, by Robert S. Rait, p. 108.

[19] Diurnal of Occurrents in Scotland, quoted in Mary, Queen of Scots, by Robert S. Rait, pp. 120-121.

[20] R. S. Mylne’s The King’s Master Masons.

[21] Sir Walter Scott.

[22] History of St. Giles’s, Edinburgh, by the Very Rev. James Cameron Lees, D.D. W. and R. Chambers.

[23] Still called “The Albany Aisle.”

[24] Walter Chepman built a chapel of the Crucifixion in the lower part of the churchyard, endowing its chaplain for the welfare of the soul of King James and those who were slain with him at Flodden. This chapel was pulled down during John Knox’s ministry to form the “Outer Tolbooth” for the Lords of Session.

[25] Burgh Records of Edinburgh (1403-1528), p. 144.

[26] At the end of his life, Knox preached within another division, designated “The Tolbooth Kirk.”

[27] Laud’s Service-Book.

[28] Gordon, Hist. of Scots Affairs (Spalding Club), i. 7.

[29] History of Scotland, Professor Hume Brown, ii. 301.

[30] The stream of people pouring out of a church-door is called “the church skaling” in Scotland.

[31] History of St. Giles’s, Edinburgh, by the Very Rev. Dr. Cameron Lees. W. and R. Chambers.

[32] “Edinburgh’s Joy,” etc. Quoted in Dr. Hill Burton’s History, vii. 387.

[33] History of St. Giles’s, Edinburgh, by the Very Rev. Dr. Cameron Lees. W. and R. Chambers.

[34] Taylor’s Pennyless Pilgrimage.

[35] A “land” is a house of several storeys, usually consisting of different tenements.

[36] Melville’s Memoirs, p. 181.

[37] The initials G. S. for the wife suggest that the formal “Egidia” was softened, after the homely Scottish fashion, into “Gidy.”

[38] Scandals.

[39] Byers’ Close takes its name from John Byers of Coates, and the carved lintel, “I.B: M.B: 1611 Blissit be God in al his giftis,” now on the old family mansion, Coates House, within the grounds of St. Mary’s Cathedral, was removed from Byers’ Close.

[40] Wilson’s Memorials, ii. footnote to p. 12; and Grant’s Old and New Edinburgh, i. 223.

[41] Sir Alexander Boswell.

[42] This Robert Mylne (F.R.S.) was a great-grandson of the Robert Mylne mentioned on p. 68, and was tenth in the line of Scottish Royal Master Masons of that name. He afterwards settled in London, where he built Blackfriars Bridge over the Thames, was the successor of Wren as Superintendent of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and died in 1811.

[43] Only the entries to these closes have been suffered to remain.

Chambers’s Traditions of Edinburgh, p. 214.

[44] Heroic Love, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose.

[45] Chambers’s Traditions of Edinburgh, pp. 354-356.

[46] This inn must not be confused with Whitehorse Inn in Boyd’s Close (no longer existing), where Dr. Johnson went on his arrival in Edinburgh in 1773.

[47] Poets.

[48] Wilson’s Memorials, ii. 48.

[49] Tells tales.

[50] It is disputed now by some whether this house was really Knox’s.

[51] Professor Masson’s Edinburgh Sketches and Memories, p. 86. A. and C. Black.

[52] From Chambers’s Collection of Scottish Songs and Ballads. Authorship attributed to two young lady visitors to Edinburgh.

[53] See Chapter IV., p. 63.

[54] Grant’s Old and New Edinburgh.

[55] Chambers’s Traditions of Edinburgh, p. 13.

[56] Chambers’s Traditions of Edinburgh, p. 16.

[57] Vide Provost Creech, quoted in Chambers’s Traditions of Edinburgh.

[58] Murray of Broughton, Prince Charlie’s secretary, who afterwards gave evidence against the Cause.

[59] Presently Jeffrey, in his slashing review of Marmion in the Edinburgh Review, was to accuse Scott of want of patriotism. He dined with Scott that night at Castle Street, and found Scott as hospitable and kind as ever; but from that moment Scott broke off his connection with the Review.

[60] Lockhart’s Life of Scott. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1884.

[61] Dalkeith Palace, the residence of the Dukes of Buccleuch, is held by them, as Craigmillar used to be held, on the understanding that the Sovereign may command it as a Royal residence.

[62] “I return no more.”

[63] The architect was Kemp, who, when a poor lad, trudging along the Selkirk road with his joiner’s tools on his back, had been given “a lift” by the kindly Sir Walter Scott as he drove by. Shortly after the erection of the monument Kemp was drowned.

[64] Truro Cathedral, and the great Roman Catholic Cathedral at Westminster, both built since, are larger.

[65] This is often erroneously called “Old Parliament Hall,” a name that not only limits the uses to which it was habitually put, and thus lessens its interest, but also gives the wrong impression that the Scottish Parliaments were held there, and there only. The Scottish Parliaments were held wherever the King happened to be. If the King was in Edinburgh, they were held in Edinburgh, either at this hall in the Castle, or at the Tolbooth.

[66] Miss Warrender’s Walks near Edinburgh, p. 33 (footnote).





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