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fair, spacious, and capacious walk.” 28 Here, however, truth compels us to add that the admirable paving of the Edinburgh streets was not due to native skill. In the Burgh Records we read that in 1559 the Town Council invited Michel Bré, a French causeway-maker, then resident in Dunbar, to take up his abode in Edinburgh for the rest of his life and become the town paviour, and we find that in the following year Bré responded to the invitation—the arrangement being that he should remain till the causeways were “compleitlie endit and mendit.” 29
Besides its incomparable street, Edinburgh possessed other attractions which made it a notable city. It was situated, we are told, “in a fruitful soil and wholesome air,” and “adorned with many noblemen's towers lying about it,” and it abounded “ with many springs of sweet waters.” The immediate environs were equally appreciated : to the north and south of the city were “plain and fruitful fields of corn," and between Arthur's Seat and Holyrood was a "park of hares, conies and deer.” 30 The Castle dominating the town was likewise an object of peculiar interest, but not for the reason that raises the admiration of the modern tourist. It was not the picturesqueness of its outlines and its situation, but its appearance of impregnability that arrested the observer of the sixteenth century. “I have seen many strengths,” says one, “in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain,
and England, but they must all give place to this unconquered castle, both for strength and situation." 31
Such, in the eyes of strangers, were some of the pleasant features of the Scottish metropolis. But there were other sides to the picture which were equally emphasised. Regarding its inhabitants we have such unflattering remarks as the following, which native testimony, it is to be feared, goes far to confirm. This “were a most healthful place to
a live in, were not the inhabitants most sluttish, nasty, and slothful people. I could never pass through the hall, but I was constrained to hold my nose ; their chambers, vessels, linen, and meat, nothing neat, but very slovenly ; only the nobles and better sort of them brave, well-bred men and much reformed." 32 Even the street which was so much admired had serious blemishes which detracted from its general effect. What appeared specially objectionable was the fact that all the houses were faced with wooden boards, perforated with oval holes which served the purpose of windows, and that the vista of the street was broken by the wooden galleries which projected from the second storeys. “ This lining with boards,” we are told, “wherein are round holes shaped to the proportion of men's heads, and this encroachment into the street about two yards, is a mighty disgrace unto it, for the walls (which were the outside) are stone; so, as if this outside facing of boards were removed, and the houses built uniform all of the same height, it were the most complete street in Christendom." 33 The narrowness, steepness, and filthiness of the numberless wynds and closes were another grievous blot on the fair face of the city, and an ingenious observer compared it to an “ivory comb whose teeth on both sides are very foul, though the space between them is clean and sightly.” 34 Such was the general impression which strangers received of the capital of Scotland in the sixteenth century—an impression that it was a city by itself, unique alike in its structure and its situation.
As has already been said, Edinburgh easily held the first place among Scottish towns in the reign of Mary. The relative importance of the other towns it is difficult to determine-several of them claiming to hold the second place after the capital. At a somewhat later date the following list of “prime cities” was enumerated to an inquiring stranger : Edinburgh, St
St Andrews, Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Perth, Linlithgow, Ayr, Stirling Dumbarton, Irvine, Dumfries, Haddington, Dunbar, Elgin, Banff, Inverness, and Brechin.35 In point of wealth, Bishop Leslie assigns the second place to Dundee, 36 and as next in interest, if not in political importance, he names St Andrews, “the chief and mother city of the realm,” 37 the metropolitan see, the seat of the oldest and most famous university, and in Mary's day the first of Scottish towns in its historic associations.
Glasgow, we have seen, held as yet but the eleventh place in the list.
It is impossible to determine with precision the population of the whole country or of its different towns. The population of England during the reign of Elizabeth has been estimated at about two millions and a half, and we should probably not be far from the mark in reckoning that of Scotland at about 500,000—numbers which roughly correspond to the relative populations of the two countries at the present day. Throughout the Middle Ages, in Scotland as elsewhere, the country population greatly exceeded that of the towns, but by the reign of Mary those economic developments had already begun which have been increasingly operative to the present day. From the records of the various Scottish burghs it appears that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the inhabitants of the country were already flocking to the towns for employment and security, and by Mary's reign the population must have been pretty equally divided between town and country. Yet, with the exception of Edinburgh, which may have contained about 30,000 inhabitants, even the most important Scottish towns were, according to modern notions, little more than mere villages. The population of Aberdeen at the close of the sixteenth century has been reckoned at about 4000,38 and regarding Glasgow we have the definite fact that in 1581 the Negative Confession of Faith was signed by 2250
— may be taken as representing almost the whole adult population.
But if the population of Scottish towns in the time of Mary cannot be exactly determined, we have at least sufficiently precise data regarding their relative wealth and national importance. From successive tables of taxation drawn up in Mary's reign, we can ascertain the contributions from the different burghs, and thus infer the resources of each. From a comparison of these tables such facts as the following clearly emerge. The four leading Scottish towns were Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, and Perth. Dundee came second, its quota of taxation being about half that of Edinburgh; and Aberdeen made an excellent third, being little behind Dundee in the amount of its contribution. At a considerable interval came Perth; and at a still greater interval the rank and file of the remaining burghs, the exact priority of which cannot be exactly determined owing to the fluctuating amounts of their contribution. St Andrews and Haddington perhaps stood next to Perth, then Cupar-Fife and Montrose, and at a lower level Stirling, Ayr, Glasgow, Brechin, , Dumfries, Inverness, and Linlithgow. A difficulty in connection with the taxation-tables arises from the fact that the contributions of the burghs varied considerably on different occasions. At one time, for example, we find Montrose paying a larger quota than Cupar-Fife; at another, Cupar-Fife paying the