THE HIGH STREET AND NETHER BOW. 253 Should this old close escape the destruction that already threatens so many of the haunts of the olden time, it will not be considered by future generations as the least worthy of its associations, that there, on the west side, and near the foot of the close, were the workshop and furnace of James Ballantine, the author of the ‘‘ Gaberlunzie’s Wallet,’^and the “Miller of Deanhaugh,” as well as of some of the liveliest of our modern humorous Scottish songs-never heard with such effect as when sung by himself. There, it is probable, many of his literary productions were matured, where also he completed, under numerous disadvantages, the successful designs for the competition of 1844, which gained for him the distinguished honour of executing the painted windows of the New House of Lords. The close has suffered little from modern alteration, and still presents a very pleasing specimen of the quaint and picturesque irregularity of style which gladdens the eye of the artist, and sets the reforming citizen a ruminating on the possibility of a new improvements commission, that shall sweep away such rubbish from every lane and alley of the ancient capital. Bishop’s Close, which adjoins this on the east, preserves in its name a memorial of “ the Bishop’s Land,” one of the most substantial and noted among the private buildings in the High Street of Edinburgh. It owed this peculiar designation to its having been the residence of the eminent prelate, John Spottiswood, Archbishop of St Andrews, who, as appears from the titles, inherited it from his father, the Superintendent of Lothian. This fact is of some value, as serving to discredit the statement of his unrequited labours during the latter years of his life. The date on the old building was 1578, at which time the Superintendent would be in his sixty-ninth year; and the house was sdciently commodious and magnificent to serve afterwards for the town mansion of the Scottish primate. The ground floor of the building was formed of a deeply arched piazza, supported by massive stone piers, and over the main entrance a carved lintel bore the common inscription, BLISSIT . BE . YE . LOED . FOR . ALL . HIS . GIFTIS . 1578, with a shield impaled with two coats of arms, and the initials V. N,, H. M. A fine brass balcony projected from the first floor, which has doubtless often been decorated with gay hangings, and crowded with fair and noble spectators to see the riding of the parliaments, and the magnificent state pageants of early times. This interesting old tenement was totally destroyed by fire in 1814, but the carved lintel has been preserved, and is now built into the adjoining pend of North Gray’s Close. From the evidence in the famous Douglas cause, it appears that Lady Jane Douglas resided in Bishop’s Land soon after her arrival in Scotland, and was visited there by Lord Prestongrange, then Lord Advocate, in 1752.l Here also is stated to have been the house of the first Lord President Dundas, and the birthplace of the celebrated Viscount Melville ; and so aristocratic were the denizens of this once fashionable tenement, that we have been told by an old citizen there was not a family resident in any of its flats, towards the end of the century, who did not keep livery servants- a strange contrast to their plebeian successors. In the title-deeds of Archbishop Spottiswood‘s mansion, it is described as bounded on the east by the tenement sometime pertaining to James Henderson of Fordel. This was no doubt the house referred to in the “ Diurnal of Occurrents,” where it is said that Queen Mary, after the bootless muster at Carbery Hill, ‘‘ quhen she come -to Edinburgh, wes lugeit in James Hendersones hous Case of Respondents, foL p. 34. Chambem’s Traditions, vol. i Appendix.
254 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. of Fordell,” and although this is an obvious mistake for Sir Simon Preston’s residence in the Black Turnpike, it is probable she had lodged there on some earlier and happier occasion, when it was no very unwonted circumstance for her Majesty to become the guest of the wealthier citizens of the capital. This old land, however, has also disappeared, and is now replaced by a plain and unattractive modern erection. We furnish a view of a very curious and beautiful Gothic corbel, carved in the form of a grotesque head, with leaves in its mouth, which was found on the east side of North Gray’s Close, about twenty years since, in excavating for a tan pit. It was discovered six feet below the ground j and in the course of digging, the workmen came upon a large fragment of wall, of very substantial masonry, running from east to west, and completely below the foundations of the neighbouring houses. We have examined a large collection of title-deeds of the surrounding property in the hope of discovering the existence of some religious house here in early times, of which these are fragments, but the earliest, which is dated 1572, describes nearly the whole close as then in a waste and ruinous state-a condition to which it appears to be rapidly returning, after having, from the appearance of the old buildings, afforded fitting residence for titled courtiers and wealthy burgesses. These discoveries, however, furnish evidence of the great changes which have taken place on Edinburgh in common with most other ancient cities. This portion of the town has evidently been totally destroyed in the conflagration effected by the Earl of Hertford’s army in 1544 ; and while the houses in the main street were speedily rebuilt, the ground to the north lay for nearly thirty years an unoccupied waste, so that when the citizens at length began to build upon it, they founded their new dwellings above the consolidated ruins of the older capital. The carved stone was preserved in the nursery of Messrs Eagle & Henderson, Leith Walk. There was a fine old stone land at the head of Bailie Fife’s Close on the west side, which bore, on a large lintel over one of the upper windows, the Trotter arms, in bold relief; two stars in chief, and a crescent in base; with the initials I. T., I. M., and the date 1612.’ Another ancient tenement remaius in gobd preservation, in Chalmers’s Close, which possesses claims of special interest to the antiquary, as one of the very few n’ow left in which the curious sculptured stone niches occur, that have been frequently referred to in the course of this work. On the first floor a small niche appears, at the right side of the doorway, immediately on entering, and in the opposite wall there is another of large size, and a highly ornamental characterthough now dilapidated, and greatly obscured with whitewash-through which a window has been broken, looking into Barringer’s Close. Alongside of the latter niche a narrow The house stands within the close, on the west side. Diurnal of Occurrents, p,.115. ’ Another large shield occurs on a pannel above the ground floor, with the initials I. P., N. H., and the Pdey Arm8 (Yorkshire)-a cheveron between three mullets,-impaled with those of Hay. Over a neatly moulded doorway below is the inscription in Roman characters, now greatly defaced :-BE . PASIENT . IN . THE. [LORD.] [This ancient dwelling-house, which had stood for nearly 250 years, suddenly fell to the ground on midnight of Saturday, November 10,1861, burying in ita ruins thirty-five persons.]