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Edinburgh Past and Present


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.
Volume 11 Page 155
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