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Plate LXXIV., Castle Hill, Edinburgh, p.147.

[Scotland Illustrated Contents]

THE rearing of the New Town of Edinburgh was accompanied, as was to be expected, by a sad declension of those ancient streets which had once presented a “prouder mein” than they have since done, before “their day was spent,” and, like a matron who had outlived her charms, they retired from the arena to give place to those in the bloom of youth and beauty. It is mournful to institute a contrast between the Old Town of the seventeenth, and the Old Town of the nineteenth century. The first stroke it received was at the period of the Union, from which it so far recovered as to live on in comparative splendour until the death-blow was given to its “honourable fame” by the rise of those princely ranges of buildings which constitute the New Town. Among the most interesting of the streets which are “counted among the fallen” is the Castle Hill, and in some of its buildings are still to be found many rare relics of the antique and eloquent mementos of “the days of yore.” The tenement of greatest interest perhaps is that which was the palace of Mary of Lorraine, – a house, which, in all its compartments, is so graphically described by Chambers in his Traditions, that we shall not dwell upon it at present. This street contained also the domicile of the Duke of Gordon, and a house which belonged to Allan Ramsay, of which the poet was remarkably proud, and which he forsook only to enjoy the more grateful retirement of the country. As descriptive of these houses in their former and present state, the words of the poet may be used, –

Alas! how sadly altered is the scene,
For, lo! these sacred walls that once were brushed
By rustling silks and waving capuchins,
Are now become the sport of wrinkled time!
*          *          *          *          Oh, look here
Upon this roofless and forsaken pile,
And stalk in pensive sorrow o’er the ground.
Where you’ve beheld so many noble scenes,
Will ye refrain to shed the grateful drop,
A tribute justly due (though seldom paid)
To the blest memory of happier times?
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