Edinburgh Bookshelf

Edinburgh Past and Present


LEITH. '05 taneous shout from the assembled multitudes, mingling with the martial music of the Highland bagpipe which a band of young gentlemen of Leith at that instant struck up, proclaimed in most impressive utterance the warmth of his welcome. Next the Custom-house was reached, and when quite abreast of it a band from the Canongate stationed there burst forth with the National Anthem-the magistrates, deacons, and trades at the same time advancing with lowered standards-while, just as his Majesty touched the landing-place, three well-timed and strongly-vociferated cheers were given by the sailors who manned the shipping in the harbour, caught up and rung out again and again by the thousands that lined the shore, filled the windows, swarmed on the house-tops, and stood and clung wherever there was standing or clinging room. His Majesty was greatly affected by these hearty manifestations of loyalty and welcome, and frequently acknowledged them with a grace and condescension which but "intensified the feeling, and drew forth, if possible, louder shouts of joy and acclamation. Here, after the performance of some short imposing ceremony, the King was conducted towards his carriage. With the post-admiral and senior magistrates on his right, he walked along the platform, his path strewn with flowers, with a firm and dignified step, amid deafening peals which again saluted him on all sides. The procession then moved forwards, a showy and imposing pageant, becoming increasingly so as it gradually spread out and extended itselfin the distance. The Earl of Kinnoul, as Lord-Lyon, preceding, curveted and caprioled his noble charger, followed by a cloud of heralds and richly-dressed cavaliers-his brow circled with his golden coronet, his crimson mantle flowing in graceful folds to the ground, and his broidered boots and golden spurs indicating his nobility and proclaiming his rank : next came Sir Alexander Keith, as Knight-Marshal, accompanied by his grooms and esquires, all in splendid liveries ; and after him, as White-Rod, Sir Patrick Walker, with his attendant equemes handsomely mounted and magnificently accoutred, making an appearance and producing an effect little inferior to that of the Lord-Lyon himself; then followed a long train of cavalry and infantry, with city dignitaries, and picturesque Highlanders, in the rear of which appeared the King in an Admiral's uniform, with a thistle and sprig of heath in his hat, and on his breast the St. Andrew's cross which had been presented to him by Sir Walter Scott in name of the ladies of Edinburgh, surrounded by a royal guard of Archers, Glengarry and his household retainers, and a whole galaxy of starred and scarletcovered aides-decamp and generals. Onward it moved with slow and measured pace along Bernard and Constitution 0
Volume 11 Page 158
  Enlarge Enlarge  
I 06 QUEENSFERRY TO MUSSELBURGH. Streets, up Leith Walk, through York Place and St. Andrew Square, into Princes Street, then turning eastward, proceeded by Regent Bridge and Waterloo Place, rounding the foot of the Calton Hill, amid shout and cheer, the roar of cannon, the roll of drum, and the shrill scream of pibroch--a_ll the route lined with a well-dressed, well-behaved, and loyal people-and reaching Holyrood at last, when a salute was fired from all the batteries in intimation of the fact, which made the heavens ring again, echoing far and near, hill answering to hill, and vale to vale. In the evening there was a grand display of fireworks. Arthur’s Seat, crowned with flames, glorious as another sun rising upon midnight, looked down upon a city actually ablaze ; while Leith, hardly less so, was brilliantly lighted up with a profusion of lamps and beautifully transparent devices. It is estimated that no fewer than 300,000 people were eye-witnesses that day of the most magnificent and imposing spectacle ever before beheld in Scotland. ‘ The news has flown from mouth to mouth, , The North for ance has banged the South ; Carle, noo the King’s come ! The de’il a Scotsman ’U die 0’ drouth, Squire and knight and belted peer, Lowland chief and mountaineer, The best, the bravest, all are here, Carle, noo the King’s come !’ In general, the inhabitants of Leith were an industrious and hard-working people. Life with them was an earnest thing, and to provide for themselves, and especially for those of their household, a sacred duty. Still, they had their days of amusement and recreation likewise j and these days, when freed from toil and care, they did enjoy, although occasionally in rather a boisterous and extravagant manner. Particularly was this the case during the week of their long-famed horse-races, an institution which dates back to the period of the Restoration. These races usually took place on the last week of July, or the first week of August, and continued for four or five days. Edinburgh and Leith were then crowded with people of wealth and fashion from all quarters, to witness the sports of the race-ground, as well as to attend the balls and the assemblies which were held in the city in the evenings. The sands, over which the races, during the recess of the tide, were run, were on these days, but especially on the Saturday, the scene of the most disorderly and drunken
Volume 11 Page 159
  Enlarge Enlarge