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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


Tine Lawomarket.1 MAJOR SOMERVILLE. 9s visitor could be fully visCd before admission was accorded. In many other instances the entrances to the turnpike stairs had loopholes for arrows or musketry, and the archways to the closes and wynds had single and sometimes double gates, the great hooks of which still remain in some places, and on which these were last hung in 1745, prior to the occupation of the city by the Highlanders. The Lawnmarket was bounded on the west by the Butter Tron, or Weigh-house, and on the east by the Tolbooth, which adjoined St. Giles?s, thus forming in earlier times the greatest open space, save the Grassmarket, within the walls. The Weighhouse, built on ground which was granted to the citizens by David II., in 1352, was a clumsy and hideous edifice, rebuilt in 1660, on the site of the previous building, which Gordon of Rothiemay, in his map of 1647, shows to have been rather an ornate edifice, two storeys in height, with a double #outside stair on the south side, and a steeple and vane at the east end, above an archway, where enormous quantities of butter and cheese were continually being disposed of. In 1640 the Lawnmarket was the scene of a remarkable single combat, of which we have a very clearly-detailed account in ?? The Memoirs of the Somervilles.? In that year, when Major Somerville of Drum commanded the garrison of Covenanting troops in Edinburgh Castle, a Captain Crawford, who, though not one of his officers, deemed himself privileged to enter the fortress at all times, walked up to the gates one morning, and, on finding them closed, somewhat peremptorily demanded admission. The sentinel within told him that he must ?( before entering, acquaint Major Somerville with his name and rank.? To this Crawford replied, furiously, ? Your major is neither a soldier nor a gentleman, and if he were without this gate, and at a distance from his guards, I would tell him that he was a pitiful cullion to boot! ? The irritated captain was retiring down the Castle Hill, when he was overtaken, rapier in hand, by Major Somerville, to whom the sentinel had found means to convey the obnoxious message with mischievous precision. ?Sir,? said the major, ?you must permit me to accompany you a little way, and then you shall know more of my mind.? ? I will wait on you where you please,? replied Crawford, grimly; and they walked together in silence to the south side of the Greyfriars churchyard, at all times a Ionely place. ? Nazi," said Somerville, unsheathing his sword, ?I am without the Castle gates and at a distance from my guards. Draw and make good your threat I ? Instead of defending himself like a man of honour, Crawford took off his hat, and begged pardon, on which Somerville jerked his long bowlhilted rapier into its sheath, and said, with scorn, (? You have neither the discretion of a gentleman, nor the courage of a soldier ; begone for a coward and fool, fit only for-Bedlam !? and he returned tb the Castle, accompanied by his officers, who had followed them to see the result of the quarrel. It is said that Crawford had been offended at not being invited to a banquet given in the Castle by Somerville to old General Ruthven, on?the day after the latter surrendered. As great liberties were taken with him after this in consequence of his doubtful reputation for ? courage, he resolved, by satisfaction demanded in a public and desperate manner, to retrieve his lost honour, or die in seeking it. Thus, one forenoon, about eleven o?clock,? when the Major was on his way to visit General Sir Alexander Leslie, and proceeding down the spacious Lawnmarket, which at that hour was always thronged with idlers, he was suddenly confronted by Captain Crawford, who, unsheathing both sword and dagger, exclaimed, ?? If you be a pretty man-draw f ? With a thick walking cane recently presented to him by General Ruthven, the Major parried his onset and then drew his sword, which was a half-rapier slung in a shoulderbelt, and attacked the Captain so briskly, that he was forced. to fall back, pace by pace, fighting desperately, from the middle of the Lawnmarket to the goldsmiths? booths, where Somerville struck him down on the causeway by the iron pommel of his ? sword, and disarmed him. Several of Somerville?s soldiers now came upon the scene, and by these he would have been slain, had not the yictor protected him; but for this assault upon & superior officer he was thrown into prison, where he lay for a year, heavily manacled, and in a wretched condition, till Somerville?s wife,who resided at the Drum House, near Gilmerton, and to whom he had Written an imploring letter, procured his liberation. Here in the Lawnmarket, in the lofty tenement dated 1690, on the second floor,? is the ?shop? where that venerable drug, called the ?Grana . Angelica,? but better known among the country people as (?Anderson?s Pills,? are sold. They took their origin from a physician of the time of Charles I., who gave them his name, and of whom a long account? was given in the University Magazine, and locally their fame lasted for nearly 250 years. From his daughter Lilias Anderson, the patent, granted by James VII., came ??tg Thomas Weir, chirurgeon, in Edinburgh,? who left the secret of preparing the pills to his daughter, Mrs. Irving, who died in ~837, at the age of .
Volume 1 Page 95
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