Greyfriars Churchyard is one of the most interesting places in Edinburgh. The National Covenant was signed there by the Protestant nobles and gentry of Scotland in 1638. The prisoners taken at the battle of Bothwell Brig were shut up there in 1679, and, after enduring great privations, a portion of the survivors were sent off to Barbadoes. When I first saw the tombstone, an ash tree was growing out of the top of the main body of it, though that has since been removed. In growing, the roots had pushed out the centre stone, which has not been replaced. The tablet over it contains the arms of the family, the broken hammer-shafts, and the motto "Non arte sed marte." There are the remains of a very impressive figure, apparently rising from her cerements. The body and extremities remain, but the head has been broken away. There is also a remarkable motto on the tablet above the tombstone -- "Ars mihi vim contra Fortunce; which I take to be, "Art is my strength in contending against Fortune," -- a motto which is appropriate to my ancestors as well as to myself.

The business was afterwards carried on by Michael's son, my great-grandfather. He was twenty-seven years old at the time of his father's death, and lived to the age of seventy-three. He was a man of much ability and of large experience.

One of his great advantages in carrying on his business was the support of a staff of able and trustworthy foremen and workmen. The times were very different then from what they are now. Masters and men lived together in mutual harmony. There was a kind of loyal family attachment among them, which extended through many generations. Workmen had neither the desire nor the means to shift about from place to place. On the contrary, they settled down with their wives and families in houses of their own, close to the workshops of their employers. Work was found for them in the dull seasons when trade was slack, and in summer they sometimes removed to jobs at a distance from headquarters. Much of this feeling of attachment and loyalty between workmen and their employers has now expired. Men rapidly remove from place to place. Character is of little consequence. The mutual feeling of goodwill and zealous attention to work seems to have passed away.

My grandfather, Michael Naesmyth, succeeded to the business in 1751. He more than maintained the reputation of his predecessors. The collection of first-class works on architecture which he possessed, such as the folio editions of Vitruvius and Palladio, which were at that time both rare and dear, showed the regard he had for impressing into his designs the best standards of taste. The buildings he designed and erected for the Scotch nobility and gentry were well arranged, carefully executed, and thoroughly substantial. He was also a large builder in Edinburgh. Amongst the houses he erected in the Old Town were the principal number of those in George Square. In one of these, No. 25, Sir Walter Scott spent his boyhood and youth. They still exist, and exhibit the care which he took in the elegance and substantiality of his works.

I remember my father pointing out to me the extreme care and attention with which he finished his buildings. He inserted small fragments of basalt into the mortar of the external joints of the stones, at close and regular distances, in order to protect the mortar from the adverse action of the weather. And to this day they give proof of their efficiency. The basalt protects the joints, and at the same time gives a neat and pleasing effect to what would otherwise have been merely the monotonous line of mason-work.

A great change was about to take place in the residences of the principal people of Edinburgh. The cry was for more light and more air. The extension of the city to the south and west was not sufficient. There was a great plateau of ground on the north side of the city, beyond the North Loch. But it was very difficult to reach; being alike steep on both sides of the Loch. At length, in 1767, an Act was obtained to extend the royalty of the city over the northern fields, and powers were obtained to erect a bridge to connect them with the Old Town.

The magistrates had the greatest difficulty in inducing the inhabitants to build dwellings on the northern side of the city. A premium was offered to the person who should build the first house; and £20 was awarded to Mr. John Young on account of a mansion erected by him close to George Street. Exemption from burghal taxes was also granted to a gentleman who built the first house in Princes Street. My grandfather

  By PanEris using Melati.

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