THE HIGH STREET AND NETHER BOW. 266 Wryts of ane lodging,” &c., on the east side of the close, a charter is mentioned, dated 1456, “ granted be David Rae, vicar generall ; Ffindlay Ker, prior ; . and the rest of the Convent of Graifriers att Edinburgh, to Andrew Mowbray, burgess,” of a certain piece of land on which it is built, bounded by the king’s wall on the south. About halfway down the close, on the east side, stands the ancient mansion of the Earls of Selkirk, having a large garden to the south, while the principal entrance is from Hyndford‘s Close. The building has the appearance of great antiquity. The ground floor of the south front seems to have been an open arcade or cloister, and on the west wall a picturesque turret staircase projects from the first floor into the close. This ancient tenement has successively formed the residence of the Earls of Stirling, of the Earl of Hyndford, and, at a still later period, of Dr Rutherford, the maternal grandfather of Sir Walter Scott. Hyndford’s Close, which forms the main approach to the house, retains its antique character, having on the west side a range of singularly picturesque overhanging timber gables. It is neatly paved, terminating in a small court, open at one side, and altogether presents a very pleasing specimen of the retired, old-fashioned gentility which once characterised these urban retreats. The fine old house described above, which forms the chief building in the close, possesses peculiar interest as a favourite haunt of Scott during his earlier years. Its vicinity to the High School gave it additional attractions to him, while pursuing his studies there, and he frequently referred in after life to the happy associations he had with this alley of the Old Town. A very pleasing view of the house from the garden is given in the Abbotsford edition of the great novelist’s works. To the south of this mansion, in the Mint Close, a lofty tenement, enclosing a small paved area, still bears the name of Elphinstone’s Court, having been built by Sir James Elphinstone in 1619. From him it passed to Sir Francia Scptt of Thirlstane, by whom it was sold to Patrick Wedderburn, Esq., who assumed the title of Lord Chesterhall on his elevation to the Bench in 1755. His son Alexander, afterwards the celebrated Lord Loughborough, Lord High Chancellor of England, disposed of it shortly after his father’s death to Lord Stonefield, who sat as a judge in the Court of Session during the long period of thirty-nine years, and died in the Mint Close at the beginning of the present century; so recent is the desertion of this ancient locality by the grandees of the capital. Various ancient tenements are to be found in the adjoining closes, of which tradition has kept no note, and we have failed to obtain any other clue to their history. One large mansion in South Foulis Close bears the date 1539 over its main doorway, with two coats of arms impaled on one large shield in the centre, but all now greatly defaced. Another, nearly opposite to it, exhibits an old oak door, ornamented with h e carving, still in tolerable preservation, although the whole place has been converted into storerooms and cellars. But adjoining this is a relic of antiquiQ, beside which the works of the iifteenth and sixteenth centuries appear but as things of yesterday, and even the ancient chapel of St Margaret in the Castle becomes .a work of comparatively recent date. In the front of a tall and narrow tenement at the Nether Bow, nearly opposite to John Knox’s house, a piece of ancient sculpture has long formed one of the most noted
270 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. of the‘antiquities of Edinburgh. It consists of two fine profile heads, in high relief and life size, which the earliest writers on the subject pronounce to be undoubted specimens of Roman art. It was first noticed in 1727, in Gordon’s valuable work on Roman Antiquities,. the Itinerarium Septentrionale, accompanied by an engraving, where he remarks :-“ A very learned and illustrious antiquary here, by the . ideas of the heads, judges them to be representations of the Emperor SEPTIMIUSES VERUaSn, d his wife JULIA. This is highly probable and consistent with the Roman history ; for that the Emperor, and most of his august family, were in Scotland, appears plain in Xephiline, from Dio.” This idea, thus first suggested, of the heads being those of Severus and Julia, is fully warranted by their general resemblance to those on the Roman coins of. that reign, and has been confirmed by the obgervation of every antiquary who has treated of the subject. A tablet is inserted between the heads, containing the following inscription, in antique characters :- gn Buboce butts’, tui botecis’, pane tu& a Q * 3.’ This quotation from the Latin Bible, of’ the curse pronounced on our first parents after the fall, is no doubt the work of a very different period, and was the source of the vulgar tradition gravely combated by Maitland, our earliest local historian, that the heads were intended as representations of Adam and Eve. These pieces of ancient sculpture, which were said in his time to have been removed from a house on the north side of the street, have probably been discovered in digging the foundations of the building, and along with them the Gothic inscription-to all appearance a fragment from the ruins of the neighbouring convent of St Mary, or some other of the old monastic establishments of Edinburgh. The words of the inscription exactly correspond with the reading of Gutenberg’s Bible, the first edition, printed at Menta in 1455, and would appear an object worthy of special interest to the antiquary, were it not brought into invidious association with these valuable relics of a remoter era. The characters of the inscription leave little reason to doubt that it is the work of the same period, probably only a few years later than the printing of the Mentz Bible. The old‘ tenement, which is rendered interesting as the conservator of these valuable monuments of the Roman invasion, and is thus also associated in some degree with the introduction of the first printed Bible into Scotland, appears to be the same, or at least occupies the same site, with that from whence Thomas Bassendyne, our famed old Scottish typographer, issued his beautiful folio Bible in 1574. The front land, which contains the pieces of Roman sculpture, is proved from the titles to have been rebuilt about the beginning of the eighteenth century, in the room of an ancient timber-fronted land, which was (‘ lately, of need, taken down,” having no doubt fallen into ruinous decay. The back part of the tenement, however, retains unequivocal evidence of being the original building. It is approached by the same turnpike stair from the Fountain Close as gives access to l Itiner. Septent, p. 186. * Maitland and others have mistaken the concluding letters of the inscription, as a contraction for the date, which the former states aa 1621, and a subsequent writer as 1603. Mr D. Laing was the firat to point out its true meaning as a contracted form of reference to Genesia, chapter 3.--P& Archaeologia Scotica, vol. iii. p. 287, where a very accurate and spirited engraving of the Sculpture, by David Allau, is introduced.