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Edinburgh Past and Present


LEITH. 109 character, the residences of the more opulent and influential classes of the community. North and South Leith are now connected by a broad, commodious thoroughfare, named Great Junction Street. It conducts from the foot of Leith Walk westward, crossing the river by a strongly built stone bridge, with railing balustrade of very graceful manufacture. Besides this there are other four bridges across the stream further down; three of them draw, and the last and most remote a swing-bridge, with a span of 222 feet, and erected at a cost of &30,000, which are raised or swung round, as occasion requires, for the ingress or egress of vessels. North Leith, into which these ways lead, and connect with the adjoining parish, has within the last half century undergone great improvements. The citadel of Cromwellian fame, and many of the humbler and lower-class dwellings that clustered around it, have been removed, and new streets, running both south and west, have been formed, with houses of a higher and much more respectable kind. Indeed, both parishes of late have been expanding in all directions, and have grown, particularly within the last ten or fifteen years, so rapidly that it is difficult to find accommodation for their annually increasing thousands, notwithstanding all the energy and success with which building operations are being carried on. What but a few years ago was only a waste, or green fields, or a nursery, is now covered with houses filled with an industrious and well-to-do tenancy, while in other parts again-as along and off the Ferry Road on the north, and up and in from Lochend and Easter Roads on the south-a great amount of excellent and highly finished house property has been constructed, all, or nearly so, occupied by the successful traders and more enterprising merchants of the town. Leith, being a place of considerable antiquity, founded somewhere about the year 1300, and holding such a conspicuous position in many of the more important events in our national history, should naturally be expected to contain not a few remains of much antiquarian interest. The town however, as a great commercial centre, has undergone so material and radical changes, that the most of the relics of an antique or old-world charact'er have been quite . obliterated. All that is left of the once famous citadel, for example, is, as wt? have already mentioned, but an old Saxon bridge and a little bit of the wall; in like manner the residence of Mary of Guise, a structure of some repute in its day, cannot now be identified even as to its site, although a recent erection, as business premises, in Water Lane claims the distinction ; while all traces of the dwellings of those who then formed her court, and were her
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I10 QUEENSFERRY TO MUSSELBURGH. principal advisers, have quite disappeared. The house of Lord Balmerino and part of the mansion of Logan of Restalrig are the only relics of a grey antiquity that yet survive. The house of Balmerino has now passed into the possession of the Roman Catholic church, and is partly occupied as a schoolroom. It enters by No. 10 Kirkgate, but the building is so shut in that little of it can be seen except on a close inspection. Here, in 1650, Lord Balmerino had the honour of entertaining Charles 11. during his short sojourn in Scotland. According to the Diary ofNicoZZ the King had come from Stirling, where he was residing, to review the army which was drawn up on the Links. After that he appears to have gone to Edinburgh, where he was .‘feasted by the town in the Parliament House,’ and thence returned on foot to Leith, ‘ abyding for the nicht wi‘ Lord Balmerinoch.’ The last Lord of this family was Arthur, who suffered on Towerhill in 1746 for his complicity in the rebellion of the preceding year. He seems to have been a keen and loyal Jacobite ; was out with Mar in 1715, holding a command at the battle of Sheriffmuir; was out again in 1745, when he was taken prisoner at Culloden, camed to London, tried at Westminster, and sentenced,’along with the Earls of Cromarty and Kilmarnock for the like offences, to be beheaded. Both before and after his trial, he conducted himself as became a brave man and a gallant soldier. Maintaining his principles to the last, he neither sought for nor expected mercy; and when at last led forth to execution, he surveyed with a calm and gentlemanly mien all the terrible preparations, inspecting the block with great minuteness, taking up the axe and testing its edge with his finger, examining the coffin and reading the inscription on its lid, and then, as if perfectly satisfied that all was as it should be, calmly and resolutely resigned himself to his fate. Thus died the last Lord of Balmerino. The mansion of Logan, again, stood on the crag overhanging the loch of Lochend. Part of it still survives, and is used as offices in connection with a large house erected on the site of the old one. Judging from what remains of it, it must have been a very strong place; and if well armed and provisioned, capable of holding out and offering a stem resistance to any enemy, however brave or determined, This family, it would seem, like many of the nobility and gentry of the time, suffered a heavy reverse of fortune. The last of the name who held the paternal estates, being deeply involved in the Gowrie Conipiracy, but dying before his share in it uias fully disclosed, ‘ his eldest son, and all lineally connected, were summoned to compear before the
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