Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

mented with small pinnacles, and from the apex of the crown rises an equally ornamented short spire. This elegant object is prominent above the whole of the town, and being 161 feet in height, it may be seen from a great distance. In the tower is a suite of music bells, which are played daily at one o'clock. The only work of art of any interest within the body of the building is the monument of the Regent Murray (assassinated at Linlithgow on the 23d of January 1569–70): it is situated in the southern division.

PARLIAMENT SQUARE. This open space, on the south of the church, was originally the cemetery of St Giles, but afterwards became a paved close or square, environed partly with private and partly with public buildings. Those of a private kind, containing a number of shops, having been destroyed by fire in 1824, their site has since been occupied with handsome public edifices. With the excep, tion of one of them—a bank-all the buildings are appropriated as court-houses and certain offices therewith connected. In the middle of the square is an equestrian statue of Charles II., in a Roman dress. This is one of the oldest lions in the city. It was erected in 1685, about two months after the death of the king, at an expense of £1000. The material of which it is composed is lead, bronzed. On the pedestal is a Latin inscription, laudatory of the worthless personage who is commemorated.

At the south-west corner of the square we enter, by a door in the arcade, one of the most interesting edifices in Edinburgh

THE PARLIAMENT HOUSE.

The want of a proper place of assembly for the Scottish parliament having been greatly felt in the reign of Charles I., on the suggestion of that monarch, the magistrates of Edinburgh laid the foundation of a house for this purpose in 1632, which they finished in 1640, at an expense of £11,600. The building so erected has latterly been concealed by a Grecian front, at the expense of government; and it is only on passing the lobby that we find ourselves introduced to the fine old hall, which formed the principal part of the original edifice.

The hall extends to the noble length of 122 feet by a breadth of 49, and has a lofty roof of oak, arched and disposed in the same style of open wood-work as that of Westminster Hall, with pendant gilt knobs. It was in this hall that the Scottish parliament sat previous to the union. This assemblage consisted of but one house--commons, nobility, and dignitaries of the church all being united in one body. The throne of the king stood at the south end, beneath the great window, and was an erection of considerable altitude. Thence, along the sides of the apartment, were the seats of the bishops and nobility, and before these, on each side, were forms, where sat the commissioners of counties and boroughs. In the middle was a long table, at which sat the lord clerk register and his assistants, taking the minutes, and recording the decisions as delivered by the chancellor. At the upper end of the table lay the regalia, whose presence was indispensable. The bar of the house was at the foot of the table, nearly halfway down the apartment, where also was a pulpit; and beyond this there was an area partitioned off for the use of the public, and a small gallery for the same purpose.

The old furniture of the Parliament House remained on the floor for the better part of a century, and was partly used by the courts of law, which succeeded to the full possession of the hall and its precincts. Within the last forty years there have been several very sweeping alterations for the sake of better accommodating the courts. On the east side, on each side of the entrance, is a recess with benches, and a small arena for the courts of lords ordinary. The south end is lighted up by a large window of stained glass, in which is represented Justice, with her sword and balance. This is a modern work of art, having been fitted in so lately as 1824. Beneath the window are curtained entrances to two commodious small court-rooms, also of lords ordinary, where certain debates are heard. A passage in the eastern wall leads to a gallery, in which are situated the court-rooms for the first and the second divisions.

The courts above referred to unitedly compose the Court of Session-an institution consisting of thirteen judges, which, for the despatch of business, constitute two distinct chambers or divisions, to either of which litigants can carry their cases.

The presiding judge in the first division is the lord president, and that of the second division is the lord-justice clerk. From the first division are detached two judges, with the title of lords ordinary, and from the second there are detached three. To one or other of these ordinaries all cases come in the first instance. The office of lord on the ordinary bills is held for a specified time by the judges in rotation, the two presidents excepted. The office of this functionary is in one respect that of a lord chancellor for Scotland. He grants injunctions or interdicts, and executes other matters on summary procedure; the greater part of which business is performed at his private residence, or at an office entitled 'the bill-chamber.

The Court of Session, as the highest civil court in Scotland, possesses all those peculiar powers exercised in England by the Courts of Chancery, Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, Admiralty, and others, being both a court of law and equity. It dates from the era of the early Scottish monarchy, though remodelled by modern acts of parliament. The judges, on certain occasions, resolve themselves into courts of criminal jurisprudence, constituting the High Court of Justiciary, and the circuits or assizes. They likewise, on occasions, form the Teind Court-a judicature

13

for regulating certain secular matters connected with the Established Church: as the plantation of churches, division of parishes, and allocation of stipends, out of the teind' or tithe held by the heritors or landed gentry. All these courts are freely open to the public; and strangers will feel interested in observing the decorous manner in which the business is conducted. If from England, they will, in particular, take some interest in the proceedings of the High Court of Justiciary-entered from the south side of the square-in which they will observe that the cases are conducted by a public officer of the crown-the lord advocate or one of his deputes; and also that the jury consists of fifteen persons, who decide by a majority,

The Faculty of Advocates is an association of barristers entitled to plead before the supreme courts, and who act as counsel to litigants. They are presided over by a dean.

The attorneys qualified to conduct cases form two bodies—the writers to the signet, and the solicitors before the supreme courts. The hall of the Parliament House, during sessions, exhibits a busy scene, being the daily resort, either for business or lounging, of the greater part of the legal profession, besides a multitude of other persons. Certain seats along the sides of the hall are appropriated to advocates, and others to the general practitioners. The hall is ornamented with two statues in marble-one of Lord President Blair, son of the author of " The Grave," and the other the Lord President Forbes, by Roubiliac. The latter, considered very fine, is in the attitude of administering an oath. The floor, near its northern end, may be said to be encumbered, more than ornamented, with a heavy statue of the late Lord Melville.

THE ADVOCATES' LIBRARY. The library of the Faculty of Advocates is one of the largest collections of books in Scotland, and to literary men in Edinburgh, by the liberal indulgence of its proprietors, it answers the purpose, to a certain extent, which is effected by the library of the British Museum in London. Like that national institution, it is entitled to a copy of every work published in the United Kingdom. The Advocates' Library has undergone various changes of place, and is yet far from enjoying a proper suite of apartments. On entering by a door from the hall of the Parliament House, one division of the library is reached by descending a stair to the left, while the other division occupies a hall opposite the entrance. The rooms below contain some of the more curious old treasures of literature; and it is understood that it was in these now dingy chambers that that odious tribunal, the Scottish Privy Council, held its sittings on the unhappy objects of regal tyranny in the seventeenth century. In the upper hall, which is only part of a building to be afterwards extended, are the works more immediately in request by the advocates. It cannot be uninteresting to know that David Hume the historian once

filled the office of librarian-an office now occupied by Dr Irving, author of " Lives of the Scottish Poets,” and other works. Besides this gentleman, there are several assistant librarians, whose kindness to strangers deserves our warmest acknowledgment. Among the articles in the collection most prized for their rarity may be mentioned a manuscript Bible of St Gerome's translation, believed to have been written in the eleventh century, and which is known to have been used as the conventual copy of the Scriptures in the abbey of Dunfermline; a complete copy, in two volumes, of the first printed Bible, executed in bold black-letter, by Faust and Guttenberg (probably worth £3000); a set of the Gospels, written in the Tamul language, upon dried weeds or leaves, and arranged in a case; the original Solemn League and Covenant, drawn out in 1580, and bearing a beautiful autograph signature of James VI., besides those of many of his courtiers; six distinct manuscript copies of the Covenant of 1638, bearing the original signatures of all the eminent men of that time; some letters of Mary Queen of Scots; the Wodrow manuscripts'; a valuable collection of the chartularies of various religious houses; and a few ancient manuscripts of the classics.

THE SIGNET LIBRARY.

The upper

The library of the Writers to the Signet occupies a building also connected with the Parliament House, from which it may be entered, the principal doorway, however, being from the open space which is in front of the County Hall. The building exteriorly presents a handsome Grecian façade of two storeys; within, it forms an upper and lower apartment, both

of which are of elegant appearance, and fitted up as a library. room, approached by a spacious staircase and lobby, is 140 feet long by 42 feet wide, with an elliptical arched ceiling, very richly panelled, and supported by twenty-four fluted columns of the Corinthian order. Between the columns on the south side there are windows, and the room is further lighted by a large cupola in the centre of the ceiling. The books are arranged in presses between and behind the pillars, and a gallery runs along the whole, at the height of twenty feet. The floor is of oak, covered with a rich carpet, and all the furniture is of the most splendid description. The whole cost of the room is said to have amounted to nearly £12,000. The lobby and staircase are embellished with busts and portraits of eminent personages connected with the Scottish judicature.

HIGH STREET-CANONGATE. Passing from the Parliament Square by the north-east entry, the stranger again finds himself in the High Street, and exactly in front of the ROYAL EXCHANGE-a large building, with a cen, tral courtyard, employed for the meetings of the Town-Council and other ciyic purposes. On the right, in issuing from the

15

Parliament Square, a new POLICE OFFICE has lately been erected. A little lower down, near the centre of the street, is the site of the ancient Cross of Edinburgh, removed in 1756. The demolition of this ancient fabric has since been much regreted : Scott alludes to the circumstance in Marmion :

“Dun-Edin's cross, a pillared stone,
Rose on a turret octagon ;
But now is razed that monument,

Whence royal edict rang,
And voice of Scotland's law was sent

In glorious trumpet clang.
Oh, be his tomb as lead to lead
Upon its dull destroyer's head!

A minstrel's malison is said.” The spot is now marked by a circle of stones in the causeway; and here public proclamations are still made. Nothing further of interest occurs in the High Street at_this part. Proceeding down the street, and passing the Tron Church and the crossing to North and South Bridge Streets, we soon reach the head of the Canongate; but before entering this contracted part of the thoroughfare, we have occasion to see on the left or north side an old edifice, which was at one time the house of John Knox. A small effigy, in stone, of the reformer occupies the projecting angle of the building:

The Canongate, which is a civic dependency of the city, and ecclesiastically a distinct parish, will be traversed with melancholy interest. . Once the court' end of the town, and occupied by persons of distinction, it is now abandoned to the meanest of the mean-several houses are dilapidated, and the street flutters in rags and wretchedness. About the middle, on the left-hand side going down, are the old prison of the burgh, distinguished by a pict resque projecting clock, and the church and churchyard. In this obscure cemetery lie the remains of the illustrious Adam Smith, author of the “Wealth of Nations,” also of Robert Fergusson, an unfortunate Scottish poet, over whose remains Robert Burns piously erected a monument. A little farther down, on the south side of the street, stands Queensberry House -a large dull edifice, formerly the residence of the Dukes of Queensberry, now a house of refuge for destitute poor.

At the foot of the Canongate the stranger enters the precinct of Holyrood, and has before him the celebrated

PALACE OF HOLYROOD.

A palace was built here in connexion with the abbey founded by David I., and this old structure was considerably renovated by James V. The whole, however, was destroyed by Cromwell, excepting the north-west angle, or that portion fronting the spectator as he approaches from the Canongate. All the rest is comparatively modern, having been built in the reign of Charles

« ForrigeFortsæt »