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Edinburgh Past and Present


MUSSELBURGH. 1 23 Pinkie House, too, towards the east of the town and on the south side of the road, is a place of great historic interest. ‘ It consists of two sides of a quadrangle, the square formerly completed by a wall now removed, in the centre of which was a well or fountain of elaborate and beautiful architecture, coeval with the house, but which is now disused.’ Originally, this mansion was the country-house of the Abbot of Dunfermline; and after various changes of fortune and proprietorship, passed into the hands of Alexander Seton, Earl of Dunfermline, a man of eminent ability and influence, who in the beginning of the seventeenth century altered it into its present form, and made it the principal seat of his residence. But other and more noble men than the Earl seem to have slept under its roof, as a room in it, of great curiosity, from its elaborate and fanciful dedorations, usually called the King’s Room, woul’d indicate : at any rate it is certain that Prince Charles, 4 the PINKIE HOUSE. night after his victory at Preston, as well as that of the last day of October, when on his march from Edinburgh into EngIand, found a lodging in it. Indeed, there are few houses in the county of greater interest than this fine old mansion of Gothic architecture, with its air-of-eld look, rich, well-wooded groves through which the Scottish muse has sent its thrilling notes, and adjacent fields and heights with their hallowed associations of battle, defeat, and victory, dear to the heart and sacred to the memory of every lea1 son of ‘the land of the bluebell and the heather.’ The Jail also is an interesting object, arresting the step and fixing the attention of the stranger, as he saunters on through the streets, by its quaint appearance and antique structure. In like manner, the Morrison’s-Haven Masonic Lodge, if not calling for any special remark in itself, is yet worthy of notice from the fact that it is built upon the site of that odd Flemish-looking house, with its buttressed front and conical windows, each surmounted by a rose carved in stone, in which the
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124 QUEENSFERRY TO MUSSELBURGH. celebrated Randolph, Earl of Murray and brother to Robert the Bruce, died in 1332, poisoned by an English priest. So, at the west end of the same street, there still stands, now very faded and very forlorn indeed, but still stands, the dwelling in which Commissioner Cardonnel is said to have ‘received Dr. Smollett, as noted in the facetious letters of Humphry Clinker ;’ while the villa of Dovecot, at the outskirts of Fisherrow, at one time the residence of Professor Stuart and his son Gilbert, may yet be seen, a pleasing and picturesque object as viewed from the new bridge, covered with ivy and sprinkled with roses, in the gay summer-time, red, yellow, and white. Nor are the Links-that flat, extensive plain whichlies between Pinkie House and the shore-quite devoid of historic interest. It is related that there, in the year 1638, ‘ a singular national transaction ’ took place : thousands of the Covenanters, then up in arms against the mad attempts of the King and his courtiers to overthrow Presbytery and introduce Prelacy into Scotland, had assembled to meet the Marquis of Hamilton, who, as the representative of Majesty, was commissioned to undertake, and if possible carry through, this impolitic piece of high-handed folly. The spectacle utterly confounded the nobleman j and as he rode towards Leith, all the way lined by the friends of the triumphant party-while no fewer than six hundred ministers in Geneva caps and gowns were assembled on a rising ground before the High School there, whose resolute and defiant looks told plainly enough the stern determination to which they had come-he became quite convinced of the hopelessness of the enterprise. Here, too, on these same downs, Cromwell, in 1650, quartered his infantry, his cavalry being lodged in the town : the place where his own tent was pitched is still pointed out to visitors. There are other places besides, in the vicinity of the town, deserving of a passing notice: Stotreyhill, a villa about half a mile up the river, where Colonel Charteris, of infamous repute, breathed his last ; Sir William Sharp, son of Archbishop Sharp who was murdered on Magw ~llbar near St. Andrews, at a somewhat earlier date, likewise resided here; while more remotely still, and during the terrorism of an ignorant and over-zealous clergy, it was the selected scene for the burning of those poor miserable wretches who had the misfortune of being branded in that day with the hateful appellation of witch. New Hailes again, the seat of Lord Hailes, the eminent judge and distinguished historian, is only some few hundred yards farther west, where his library, of great extent and rich in antiquarian lore, still remains, a true exponent of the intellectual bent and wide and many-sided culture of the man. Then onwards from thence in a south-east direction, a pleasant walk of easy accom
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