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Edinburgh Past and Present


. LEITH. I01 employs the dreariest and darkest epithets in the language : In the memory of man,' he says, that day of the year has never seen a more dolorous face of the heaven than was at her arrival, which two days after did so continue ; for besides the surface wet, a corruption of the air, the mist was so thick and dark, that scarse might any man espy another the length of two pair of buttis, The sun was not seen to shine two days before nor two days after.' Dark and gloomy as the weather appears to have been, however, and whatever effect it may have had upon her spirits, it does not seem to have damped or dulled the spirits of her subjects. As soon as it was known that the Queen had arrived, all classes of the community hastened $eZZ-meZZ shorewards to manifest their joy and give expression to their Ioyalty. Cannon boomed, bells rang, men shouted, and women screamed ; the vessels in the harbour too were all gaily decked with bunting, while flags and banners were hung out on all the public places and houses of note. Landing at ten in the morning, she would have immediately proceeded to Holyrood; but the laggard state of the preparations for her conveyance thither necessitated her detention in the town for a few hours, during which, as me learn, she was visited by the Lord James, the Earl of Argyle, and other noblemen. At length things being got into something like order, the procession moved forwards. Mary, mounted on her palfrey-there were no carriages in those days-advanced through the Links and up the Easter Road towards Holyrood, preceded and followed by all the great and the noble of the land, and amid the shouts and acclamations of a happy and loyal people. Light on her airy steed she sprung ; Around with golden tassels hung ; No chieftain there rode half so free, Or half so light and gracefully. Slowly she ambled on her way, Amid her lords and ladies gay ; Priest, abbot, layman, all were there, And presbyter with look severe. There rode the lords of France and Spain, Of England, Flanders, and Lorraine ; While serried thousands round them stood, From shore of Leith to Holyrood.' Mary's return to her kingdom revived a little the drooping spirits of the Leithers, and led them to entertain the hope that something mbstantial would now be done for them. They deserved well of her. They had aided
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I02 QUEENSFERRY TO MUSSELBURGH. ~ the queen-mother in her efforts, and seconded her earnest and determined struggles against the reformers: Mary could not be ungrateful, and would evince, no doubt, a just sense of her obligation by granting them some unmistakable relief from the fetters in which Edinburgh all along had bound them. They were disappointed. Instead of relief there came additional pressure. The Queen, in need of money, and her exchequer all but dry, began to look about for means to meet pressing exigencies, and in her straits felt constrained to come down upon Leith, mortgaging its superiority, redeemable for 1000 merks, to the Town-Council of the city. We do not blame Mary very heavily for this. Her circumstances were such, and her wants so great, that really she could not help herself; and it is but right to add that she did all that she possibly could to prevent the sad and humiliating consequences of the transaction to the Leithers by requesting the magistracy to delay, for some time at least, the assumption of superiority, in the hope, probably, of being able to forestall the step altogether. This, however, as might have been expected, was refused, and on the zd of July 1567, the citizens of Edinburgh proceeded to Leith in a kind of military order, where, when they had arrived, they went through some form of capturing it, and thus the independence and self-government of the town were completely lost. Leith was now made to feel the full weight of the heavy arm of the oppressor. If the inhabitants groaned and were bowed down under the burdens formerly imposed, these were light in comparison with the burdens they should henceforth have to endure. Edinburgh used the whiphand most unmercifully. The Town-Council, with the Incorporations, now framed and laid on new imposts-the seventy and unnghteousness of which stir the anger and fire the wrath of every honest soul-that so hampered and harassed its trade and commerce that the port was literally crushed. Up to this point it had struggled pluckily; and even in spite of the harsh and cruel treatment received at the hand of its bigger neighbour, had moved forward and prospered. The Queen had failed to befriend it, and there was at last nothing for it but hopelessness and despair, in which sad and despondent condition the town dragged on, it would appear, a feeble and exhausted life for upwards of a generation and a half. It has been hinted that the Protestantism of the Leithers was somewhat doubtful during the reign of the Queen Regent. It is abundantly evident, however, that by this time a great change had come over the spirit of their dream. Ih October 1643, when the Solemn League and Covenant was entered into with England, in no place was it received with more respect, or But now its last plank was gone.
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