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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


traction of the name from Mollance to Mince, or Mons Meg, was quite natural to the Scots, who sink tlie l?s in all similar words. The balls still preserved in the Castle of Edinburgh, piled on each side of the gun, are exactly similar to those found in Thrieve, and are of Galloway granite, from tlie summit of the Binnan Hill, near the Carlinwark.+ Andrew Symson, whose description of Galloway was written 180 years ago, records ?that in the isle of Thrieve, the great gun, called Nounts Meg, was wrought and made.? This, though slightly incorrect as to actual spot, being written so long since, goes to prove the Scottish origin of the gun, which bears a conspicuous place in all the treasurer?s accounts ; and of this pedigree of the gun Sir Walter Scott was so convinced that, as he wrote, ? henceforth all conjecture must be set aside.? In 1489 the gun was employed at the siege of Dumbarton, then held for Janies 111. by his adherents. In 1497, when James IV. invaded England in the cause of Perkin Warbeck, he con- . veyed it with his other artillery on a new stock made at St. Leonard?s Craig; and the public accounts mention tlie sum paid to those who brought ?hame Monse and the other artailzerie froiii Dalkeith.? It was frequently used during the civil war in 157r, and two men died of their exertion in dragging it from the Blackfriars Yard to the Castle. On that occasion payment was made to a person through whose roof one of the bullets had fallen in mistake. In Cromwell?s list of captured guns, in 1650, mention is made of ?the great iron murderer, Meg ;n and Ray, in his ? Observations ? on Scotland eleven years after, mentions the ?great old iron gun which they call Mounts Mq, and some ? Meg of Berwick.?? A demi-bastion near the Scottish gate there bears, or bore, the name of &legs Momt, which in those days was the term for a battery. Another, in Stirling, bore the same name ; hence we may infer that the gun has been in both places. It was stupidly removed in mistake, among unserviceable guns, to the Tower of London ~II 1758, where it was shown till 1829, when, by the patriotic exertions of Sir Walter Scott, it was sent home to Edinburgh, and escorted from Leith back to its old place in the Castle by three troops of cavalry and the 73rd or Perthshire regiment, with a band of pipers playing at the head of the procession. We are now in a position to take a brief but comprehensive view of the whole Castle, of which we have hitherto dealt in detail, and though we must go over the same ground, we shall do so at * ?? History of Woway.? so rapid a rate that such repetition as is unavoidable will be overlooked. In the present day the Castle is entered by a barrier of palisades, beyond which are a deep ditch and drawbridge protected by a ttte-de$onf, flanked out and defended by cannon. Within are two guardhouses, the barrier and the main, the former a mean-looking edifice near which once stood a grand old entrance-gate, having many rich sculptures, an entablature, 2nd a pediment rising from pilasters. Above the bridge rises the great halfmoon? battery of 1573, and the eastern curtain wal1,Vhich includes an ancient peel with a corbelled rampart. The path, which millions of armed men must have trod, winds round the northern side of the rock, passing three gateways, the inner of which is a deep-mouthed archway wherein two iron portcullises once hung. This building once terminated in a crenelated square tower, but was some years ago converted into a species of state prison, and black-hole for the garrison; and therein, in 1792, Robert Watt and David Downie, who were sentenced to death for treason, were confined; and therein, in times long past and previous to these, pined both the Marquis and Earl of Argyle, and many of high rank but of less note, down to 1747. Above the arch are two sculptured hounds, the supporters of the Duke of Gordon, governor in 1688, and between these is the empty panel from which Cromwell cast down the royal arms in 1650. Above it is a pediment and little cornice between the triglyphs of which may be traced alternately the star and crowned heart of the Regent Morton. Beyond this arch, on the left, are the steps ascending to the citadel, the approaches to which are defended by loopholes for cannon and musketry. On the right hand is a gun battery, named from John Duke of Argyle, comrnanderinchef in Scotland in 1715 ; below it is Robert Mylne?s battery, built in 1689 ; and on the acclivity of the steep hill are a bombproof powder magazine, erected in 1746, the ordnance office, and the house of the governor and storekeeper, an edifice erected apparently in the reign of Queen Anne, having massive walls and wainscoted apartments. In the former is a valuable collection of fire-arms of every pattern, from the wheel-lock petronel of the fifteenth century down to the latest rifled arms of precision. There, also, is the armoury, formed for the reception of 30,000 rifle muskets, several ancient brass howitzers, several hundred coats of black mail (most of which ar6 from tlie arsenal of the knights of Malta), some forty stand of colours, belonging
Volume 1 Page 75
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