Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


HISTORICAL INCIDENTS AFTER THE RESTORATION. 107 south, as having been the scene where poor Ferguson, that unhappy child of genius, so wretchedly terminated his brief career. The building bears, on an ornamented tablet above the main entrance, the date 1698, surmounted by a sun-dial. The only relic of its original grandeur that has survived its adaptation to later purposes, is a handsome and very substantial stone balustrade, which guardtl the broad flight of steps leading to the first floor. A remarkable course of events followed on the failure of the Darien scheme, attended with riots of the same desperate character as those commonly perpetrated by the populace of Edinburgh when under the influence of unusual excitement. In 1702, a vessel belonging to the East India Company, which entered the Frith of Forth, waB seized by the Scottish Government, by way of reprisal, for the unjust detention in the Thames of one belonging to the Scottish African Company. In the course of a full and legal trial, the captain and crew were convicted, in a very singular manner, of piracy and murder committed on the mate and crew of a Scottish vessel in the East Indies. The evidence, however, appeared to some influential parties insuEcient to justify their condemnation, and the utmost excitement was created by attempts to procure a pardon for them. The report having been circulated that a reprieve had been granted, the mob assaulted the Lord Chancellor while passing the Tron Church in his carriage, on his return from the Privy Council. The windows were immediately smashed, the Chancellor dragged out, and thrown upon the street ; and he was rescued with great difficulty from the infuriated multitude by an armed body of his friends. The tumult was only appeased at last by the public execution of the seamen. In the Parliament which assembled in June 1705, the first steps were taken in Scotland with a, view to the Union between the two kingdoms. The period was peculiarly unfavourable for the accomplishment of a project against which so many prejudices were arrayed. The popular mind was already embittered by antipathies and jealousies excited by the recent failure of the favourite scheme of colonisation, and the plan for a Union was almost universally regarded as an attempt to sacrifice their independence, and establish VIGNETTE-The Darien Eouae.
Volume 10 Page 117
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