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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


" Edinburgh Castle, tome and tower, God grant thou sinke for sinne, An that even for the black dinner Earle Douglas got therein." This affair instead of pacifying the country only led to ruin and civil strife. The Douglas took arms under James IV., Duke of Touraine and seventh Earl of Douglas and Angus, and for a long space the city and neighbourhood were the scene of contest and ravage by the opposite factions. The Chancellor remained secure in the Castle, and, to be revenged on Sir John Forrester, who had laid waste his lands at Crichton in 1445, he issued forth with his troopers and garrison, and gave to fire and sword all the fertile estates of the Douglases and Forresters westward of the city, including Blackness, Abercorn, Strathbroc, aid Corstorphine ; and, with other pillage, carrying off a famous breed of Flanders mares, he returned to his eyry. Douglas, who, to consolidate his power had espoused his cousin the Fair Maid of Galloway, adding thus her vast estates to his own, and had now, as hereditary lieutenant-general of the kingdom, obtained the custody of the young king, came to Edinburgh with a vast force composed of the Crown vassals and his own, and laid siege to the Castle, which the Chancellor defended for nine months, nor did he surrender even to a summons sent in the king's name till he had first seciued satisfactory terms for himself; whfle of his less fortunate coadjutors, some only redeemed their lives with their estates, and the others, including three members of the Livingstone family, were beheaded within its walls. The details of this long siege are unknown, but to render the investment more secure the Parliament, which had begun its sittings at Perth, was removed to Edinburgh on the 15th of July, 1446. After all this, Earl Douglas visited Italy, and in his absence during the jubilee at Rome in 1450, Crichton contrived to regain the favour of James II., who haviyg now the government in his own hands, naturally beheld with dread the vast power of the house of Touraine. How Douglas perished under the king's dagger in Stirling in 1452 is a matter of general history. His rival died at a very old age, three years afterwards, and was interred among his race in the present noble church of Crichton, which he founded. Beneath the Castle ramparts the rising city was now fast increasing; and in 1450, after the battle of Sark, in which Douglas Earl of Ormond de. feated the English with great slaughter, it was deemed necessary to enclose the city by walls, scarcely a trace of which now remains, except the picturesque old ruin known as the Well-house Tower, at the base of the Castle rock. They ran along the southern declivity of the ridge on which the most ancient parts of the town were built, and after crossing the West Bow -then deemed the grand entrance to Edinburgh-ran between the High Street and the hollow, where the Cowgate (which exhibited then but a few minor edifices) now stands; they then crossed the main ridge at the Nether Bow, and terminated at the east end of the North Loch, which was then formed as a defence on the north, and in the construction of which the Royal Gardens were sacrificed. From this line of defence the entire esplanade of the Castle was excluded. " Within these ancient limits," says Wilson, '' the Scottish capital must have possessed peculiar means of defence-a city set on a hill and guarded by the rocky fortress, there watching high the least alarms; it only wanted such ramparts, manned by its burgher watch, to enable it to give protection to its princes and to repel the' inroads of the southern invader. 'The important position which it now held may be inferred from the investment in the following year of Pntrick Cockburn of Newbigging (the Provost of Edinburgh) in the Chancellor's office as governor of the Castle, as well as his appointment, along with other commissioners, after the great defeat of the English at the battle of Sark, to treat for the renewal of a truce." It seemed then to be always '' truce " and never peace ! In the Parliament of 1455 we find Acts passed for watching the fords of the Tweed, and the erection of bale-fires to give alarm, by day and night, of inroads from England, to warn Hume, Haddington, Dunbar, Dalkeith, Eggerhope, and Edinburgh Castle, thence to Stirling and the north -arrangements which would bring all Scotland under arms in two hours, as the same system did at the time of the False Alarm in 1803. One bale-he was a signal that the English were in motion; two that they were advancing; four in a row signified that they were in great strength. All men in arms westward of Edinburgh were ta muster there ; all eastward at Haddington ; and every Englishman caught in Scotland was lawfully the prisoner of whoever took him (Acts, 12th Pal. James 11.). But the engendered hate and jealousy of England wopld seem to have nearly reached its culminating point when the 11th Parliament of James VI., chap. 104, enacted, ungallantly, "that no Scotsman marrie an Englishwoman without the king's license under the Great Seal, under pain of death and escheat of moveables."
Volume 1 Page 31
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