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OBJECTS OF INTEREST IN THE OLD TOWN.
The stranger usually goes first to visit the castle. It may be entered freely, but an order is required to see the regalia, which are deposited within it: this order is obtained gratis by application at an office in the council chambers. The regalia are not shown till noon.
The rock on which the fortress is built rises to a height of 383 feet above the level of the sea, and its battlements, towering above the city, may be seen in some directions for forty and fifty miles.
The rock is precipitous on all sides but the east; here it is connected with the town by an open esplanade. The walls are believed not to be more than three hundred
old. The principal buildings, now used as barracks, are at the southeast corner, and among these is an old palace, partly built by Queen Mary in 1565, and partly in 1616. Pretty nearly the whole interest in a visit to the castle pertains to this edifice. Entering by a doorway in a projecting staircase, fronting a quadrangular court, we are conducted into a small vaulted apartment containing the regalia; the different objects being placed on an oval table, securely enclosed within a kind of cage of upright bars. The crown lies on a cushion of crimson velvet, fringed with gold, and is surrounded by the sceptre, the sword with its sheath, and the treasurer's mace. The room is fitted up with crimson hangings, tastefully disposed; the whole lighted
REZERVASILE up by four lamps. The crown is very elegantly formed, the under part being a golden diadem, consisting of two_circles, chased and adorned with precious stones and pearls. The upper circle is surmounted by crosses fleury, interchanged with fleur-de-lis, and with small points, terminated by costly pearls. This was the old crown, and the date is unknown, though the era of Bruce has been referred to with much probability. James V. added two concentric arches of gold, crossing and intersecting each other above the circles, and surmounted by a ball or globe, over which rises a cross patée, adorned with diamonds. The cap or tiara of the crown is of crimson velvet, turned up with ermine, and adorned
with pearls; but this was only substituted by James VII. for the former cap or tiara of purple velvet, which had become much decayed during the concealment of the regalia in the time of the civil war. The sceptre is a slender rod of silver, thirty-two inches in length, chased, and varied in its form. It terminates with three small figures, representing the Virgin Mary, St Andrew, and St James, over whose heads rises a crystal globe. With this sceptre the lord chancellor of Scotland touched the acts of parliament in token of the royal assent. The sword of state is very elegant, both in form and proportion. It was a present from Pope Julius II. to James IV. of Scotland (slain at Flodden); and having been wrought in Italy shortly after the revival of the arts, is a beautiful specimen of sculpture. The handle is of silver, gilded, and the cross or guard is wreathed in imitation of two dolphins. The scabbard is adorned with filigreework of silver, representing boughs and leaves of oak with acorns; the device of Pope Julius being an oak-tree in fruit, The last monarch who used the crown was Charles II., while in Scotland, previous to the disastrous battle of Worcester. Saved by friends of royalty during the civil war, the regalia were afterwards deposited in a chest in the room in which they are now shown. In 1817 these interesting relics were taken from their place of deposit, and thus freely exposed to public view.
Leaving the regalia, the stranger next visits, in the same pile of building, but entered by a different door, the room in which Queen Mary gave birth to James VI., on the 19th of June 1566. It will create feelings of surprise to find this place now forming part of a mean tavern or canteen. It is a small irregular-shaped apartment, of about eight feet square, and lighted by a single window, overlooking the precipice beneath. The roof is divided into four compartments, having the figure of a thistle at each corner, and a crown and the initials M. R. in the centre. When George IV. visited the castle in 1822, he was conducted, at his own request, to this little room, so interesting for its historical associations.
The most defensible part of the castle is on the east, near the above-mentioned edifice : here is a half-moon battery, on which is a flag-staff, facing the Old Town, and completely commanding the approaches to the fort. Further round to the north, overlooking the Argyle Battery, is the Bomb Battery, whence is obtained a very extensive prospect of the New Town, the environs, the Firth of Forth, and the coast of Fife. On this lofty battery stands an ancient piece of ordnance, called Mons Meg, which is considered a kind of national palladium of Scotland. This gun,
which is composed of long bars of beat iron, hooped together by a close series of rings, measuring twenty, inches in the bore, is supposed to have been fabricated under the auspices of James IV., who, in 1498, employed it at the siege of Norham Castle, on the borders of England. It was rent in 1682, when firing a salute, since
which time it has been quite useless. Having been removed to England, and deposited in the Tower of London, it was restored to its old position, at the solicitation of the Scotch, in 1829. It appears to have been customary to fire from it bullets of stone, which were afterwards economically sought for and picked up for future use. Some of these are piled alongside of Meg.
On the western side of the castle are some tall barracks, and also the arsenal or storehouses, in which are contained thirty thousand stand of arms. These, and other objects of curiosity, are shown to strangers. Edinburgh castle is one of the forts enjoined by the treaty of union to be kept up in Scotland; but as this portion of the United Kingdom needs, no military defence, it may be described as a source of useless expense to the country.
The long line of street extending from the castle to Holyrood -called at different parts Castle Hill, Lawnmarket, High Street, and Canongate-embraces or abuts various objects of interest. This was the one thoroughfare of ancient Edinburgh; and, as already stated, many of the black and half-dilapidated houses which environ it were formerly inhabited by people of distinction.
CASTLE HILL-ASSEMBLY HALL.
This esplanade, now trimmed and used for military drills, and on which is placed a statue of the late Duke of York, was in old times a place of public execution in Edinburgh. In the reign of James VI., many unhappy beings, accused of witchcraft, were here burned at the stake. On the south is a pleasant view of Heriot's Hospital; and on the north, near the entrance to the gardens, is seen an octagonal edifice, which was built in 1754 by Allan Ramsay, author of the Gentle Shepherd, and other poetical pieces, and whom Burns was so desirous to emulate. In entering Castle Hill Street, we observe, in the wall of the right-hand corner edifice,'a bullet, which was fired from the castle in repelling the Highland army in 1745—a striking memorial of the strife of past times.
At the point of junction of Castle Hill Street with the Lawnmarket, we have on our right a new church, with a handsome spire, which rises to a height of 240 feet. This edifice, besides being used as a place of public worship, is employed as the hall of meeting of the General Assembly of the Established Church : this meeting takes place annually in May, and being attended by a nobleman commissioned by the crown to represent royalty, a more than usual bustle is occasioned in the town. Over the doorway of the building is the familiar cognisance of the Church of Scotland—the burning bush, with the motto, Nec tamen consumebatur_« Nevertheless not consumed.” Across the new road from this structure is a recently-erected place of public worship, belonging to the Free Church, and appropriated to the congre
gation of the Rev. Thomas Guthrie, one of the most eloquent preachers in this new seceding body.
WEST BOW-GRASSMARKET. Round the corner from this latter edifice is all that remains of the West Bow-a curious old winding alley, which led to the Grassmarket; and down which, as the readers of “Old Mortality” will remember, were hurried bands of unfortunate Covenanters for execution. The wretched Captain Porteous, as is mentioned in “ The Heart of Mid-Lothian," was also dragged down this narrow thoroughfare to meet his unhappy doom. The Grassmarket is a wide open street, where the weekly grain markets are now held. The Bow has been almost entirely destroyed by the ill-conceived "improvements” formerly alluded to.
HIGHLAND SOCIETY'S MUSEUM, In proceeding down the Lawnmarket, we have occasion to pass the new street
formed by George the Fourth’s Bridge. . Going along this a little way, we arrive at the Museum of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. This society, composed of noblemen and gentlemen interested in improving the condition of the Highlands, was founded by charter in 1787, since which period it has greatly extended its operations, and is at present one of the most important associations in Scotland. Its leading object is the improvement of agriculture, in which it has achieved remarkable results. The museum of the society, here situated, and open to strangers, contains an interesting collection of models of agricultural implements, and other objects relative to husbandry.
Returning to the Lawnmarket, we observe, at the entrance to George the Fourth's Bridge, a large public building called the County Hall, in which the courts of the sheriff, and other affairs connected with the county, are conducted. Its architecture is after the purest Grecian models (the temple of Erectheus, in particular); but it is nevertheless a somewhat heavy edifice, and far from convenient in its internal arrangements. Everything has been sacrificed to make an elegant front. It cost £15,000.
BANK OF SCOTLAND.
At the foot of a short street leading northwards from the Lawnmarket, stands the Bank of Scotland. The building is comparatively modern, but the institution which it accommodates was the first established bank in Scotland, having been incor', porated in 1695 by an act of the Scots parliament.*
* Since the establishment of this venerable institution, and particularly within the last thirty years, the number of banks in Edinburgh has considerably increased. The following are the chief additions : — Royal
SITE OF OLD TOLBOOTH.
The County Hall faces an open quadrangular space, on the right of which is the Signet Library, in front is the church of St Giles, and on the left, partly encumbering the street, once stood the Old Tolbooth or prison of Edinburgh-more familiarly the Heart of Mid-Lothian. It was a gloomy pile of building, four storeys in height, and built in 1561, for the accommodation of parliament and the courts of justice—also for the confinement of prisoners. In 1640 it was solely appropriated for prisoners, and continued to be só used till the period of its demolition in 1817. The door of entrance, which was situated within a few feet of the north-west corner of the church, was removed, along with the ponderous lock and key, to Abbotsford, where they were prized as curiosities by Sir Walter Scott, and are now to be seen.
ST GILES'S CHURCH. This large and conspicuous edifice, which occupies a prominent situation in the High Street, at the centre of the town, is of unknown antiquity, and it is only known to have existed in the fourteenth century. Until the Reformation, it was a collegiate church, dedicated to St Giles, the patron saint of the town; it was provided with thirty-six altars, and had nearly a hundred clergymen and other attendants. At the Reformation all this was swept away; its endowments were sequestrated and misspent; for some time it was the only parish church in the city, while its ministrations were conducted by John Knox, the eminent Scottish reformer. The building was afterwards divided by walls, so as to form separate parish churches, with different entrances; and in this condition it remained till a recent period, when it underwent a thorough repair and a new casing with stone. It still consists of several compartments, employed as parish churches; that on the east being called the High Church. It was originally of the usual cruciform shape, and of Gothic architecture, but was never an elegant building, and its restorations have not materially improved it. The finest thing about it is the central square turret, the top of which is encircled with open figured stone-work, and from the different corners of the tower spring arches, which, meeting together, produce the appearance of an imperial crown. These arches are highly orna
Bank of Scotland, British Linen Company's Bank, Commercial Bank of Scotland, National Bank of Scotland, also Edinburgh and Glasgow Bank; with branches of several Glasgow banks. All mentioned issue one-pound notes, and this species of money will be found by strangers to form the principal circulating medium here as elsewhere in Scotland. With a view to introducing a gold circulation—to which the Scotch are very much opposed-no newly-instituted bank is permitted to fabricate and issue one-pound notes.