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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


The City Cross. J EXECUTIONS AT. THE CITY CROSS. ?5? It flits, expands, and 2 hifts, till loud From midmost of the spectre crowd, The awfd sunzmom canu I? Then, according to Pitscottie, followed the ghastly roll of all who were doomed to fall at Flodden, including the name of Mr. Richard Lawson, who ?? Then on its battlements they saw A vision passing Nature?s law, Strange, wild, and dimly seen ; Figures that seemed to rise and die, Gibber and sign, advance and fly, While nought confirmed could ear or eye Dream of sound or mien. Yet darkly.did it seem as there, Heralds and pursuivants prepare, , qith trumpet sound and blazon fair, A summons to proclaim ; But?indistinct the pageant.proud, As fancy forms of midnight cloud, When flings the moon uwn her shroud As ever Scotland bred, A catheran to his trade. Had ever greater joy, I and my Gilderoy !? Descended from a highland clan, No woman then or woman-kind Than we two when we lived alone, . wild pranks on the shores of Loch Lomond, when brought to Edinburgh, were drawn backwards on a hurdle to the cross, on the 27th of July, 1636, and there hanged-Gilderoy and John Fprbes suffering on a higher gallows than the rest, and, further, having their heads and hands struck off, to be affixed to the city gates, Gilderoy, we need scarcely add, has obtained a high ballad fame. There is a broadside of the time, containing a lament to him written by his mistress, in rudeverses, not altogether without some pathos ; one verse runs thus :- ??I appeal from that summons and sentence,? he exclaimed, courageously, ? and take me to the mercy of God and Christ Jesus His Son.? ? Verily,? adds Pitscottie, ?the author of this, that caused write the manner of this summons, was a landed gentleman, who was at that time twenty years of age, and was in the town at the time ? My love he was as brave a man of these exhibitions we shall take the following from the diary of Nicoll vmhziim :- ?* Last September, 1652. Twa Englisches, for drinking the King?s health, were takin and bund at Edinburgh croce, quhair either of thame resavit bf the saidsummons, and thereafter when the field thretty-nine quhipes -on thair naiked bakes and was stricken, he swore to me thm was no man shoulderis; thairafter their lugs were naillit to the escujed that was called in this summons, but that gallows. The ane had his lug cuttit from the ruitt man alone who made his protestation and appealed with a razor, the uther being also naillit to the gibfrom the said summons, but afC the Cave perished in bet had his mouth skobif, and his tong being drawn the field with the king.? out the full length, was bound together betwix twa Under the shadow of that cross have been trans- sticks, A G Y ~ iugeddw, with m skainzie-tbd, for the acted many deeds of real horror, more than we can enumerate here-but a few may suffice. There, in 1563, Sir Jaines Tarbat, a Roman Catholic priest, was pilloried in his vestments, with a chalice bound to his hands, and, as Knox has it, was served by the mob with ?his Easter eggs,? till he was pelted to death. There died Sir William Kirkaldy, hanged space of half one hour thereby.? Punishments of this cruel kind were characteristic of the times, and were not peculiar to the Scottish capital alone. In later and more peaceful times the city cross was the ?Change, the great resort of the citizens for a double purpose. They met there to discuss the topics of the day and see their acquaintances, with- *with his face to the sun? (as Knox curiously pre- out the labour of forenoon calls down steep closes I dicted before his own death), for the execution took and up steeper turnpike stairs ; and these gatherings I place at four in the afternoon, when the sun was in I usually took place between the hours of one and two, the west (Calderwood) ; and there, in time to come, , And during the reigns of the two first Georges it died his enemy Morton. There died Montrose , was customary at this place, as the very centre and and many of his cavalier comrades, amid every ! cynosare of the ?city, for the magistrates to drink ignominy that could be inflicted upon them ; and , the king?s health on a stage, *? loyalty being a virtue the two Argyles, father and son. An incredible I which always becomes peculiarly ostentatious when number of real and imaginary criminals have ren- I it is under any suspic,ion of weakness.? dered up their lives on that fatal spot, and among 1 ?The cross, the font or basin of which ran with the not least interesting of the former we may men- wine on festive occasions, was the peculiar rallyiiig tion Gilderoy, or ? the red-haired lad,? whose real point of those now extinct Zuzzaroni-the street name was Patrick Macgregor, and who, with ten , messengers or caddies. ? A ragged, half-blackguard other caterans, accused of cattle-lifting and many 1 lobking set they .. were, but allowed to be amazingly
Volume 1 Page 151
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