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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


196 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGR, [High Street. Torthorwald could defend himself, ran him through the body, and slew him on the spot. Stewart fled from the city, and of him we hear no more ; but the Privy Council niet twice to consider what should be done now, for all the Douglases were taking arms to attack the Stewarts of Ochiltree. Hence the Council issued imperative orders that the Earl of Morton, James Commendator of Melrose, Sir George and Sir Archibald Douglas his uncles, William Douglas younger of Drumlanrig, Archibald Uouglas of Tofts, Sir James Dundas of Arniston, and others, who were breathing vengeance, should keep within the doors of their dwellings, orders to the same effect being issued to Lord Ochiltree and all his friends. ? There is a remarkable connection of murders recalled by this shocking transaction,? says a historian. ?? Not only do we ascend to Torthorwald?s slaughter of Stewart in 1596, and Stewart?s deadly prosecution of Morton to the scaffold in 1581 ; but William Stewart was the son of Sir William Stewart who was slain by the Earl of Bothwell in the Blackfriars Wynd in 1588.? A carved marble slab in the church of Holyrood, between two pillars on the north side, still marks the grave of the first lord, who took his title from the lonely tower of Torthonvald on the green brae, between Lockerbie and Dumfries. It marks also the grave of his wife, Elizabeth Carlyle of that ilk, and bears the arms of the house of Douglas, quartered with those of Carlyle and Torthorwald, namely, beneath a ch2f charged with three pellets, a saltire proper, and the crest, a star, with the inscription :- ? Heir lyis ye nobil and poten Lord Jarnes Dovglas, Lord of Cairlell and Torthorall, vlm maned Daime Eliezabeth Cairlell, air and heretrix yalof; vha vas slaine in Edinburghe ye xiiii. day of Ivly, in ye zeier of God 1608-vas slain in 48 ze. The guide daily reads this epitaph to hundreds of visitors ; but few know the series of tragedies of which that slab is the closing record. In the year 1705, Archibald Houston, Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, was slain in the High Street. As factor for the estate of Braid, the property of his nephew, he had incurred the anger of Kennedy of Auchtyfardel, in Lanarkshire, by failing to pay some portion of Bishop?s rents, and Houston had been ?put to the horn? foithis debt. On the 20th March, 1705, Kennedy and his two sons left their residence in the Castle Hill, to go to the usual promenade of the time, the vicinity of the Cross. They met Houston, and used violent language, to : which he was not slow in retorting. Then Gilbert Kennedy, Auchtyfardel?s son, smote him on the L. I. D. E. C.? face, while the idlers flocked around them. Blows with a cane were exchanged, on which Gilbert Kennedy drew his sword, and, running Houston through the body, gave him a mortal wound, of which he died. He was outlawed, but in time returned home, and succeeded to his father?s estate. According to Wodrow?s ? Analecta,? he became morbidly pious, and having exasperated thereby a servant maid, she gave him some arsenic with his breakfast of bread-and-milk, in 1730, and but for the aid of a physician would have avenged the slaughter gf Houston near the Market Cross in 1705. One of the last brawls in which swords were drawn in the High Street occurred in the same year, when under strong external professions of rigid ?Sabbath observance and morose sanctity of manner there prevailed much of secret debauchery, that broke forth at times. On the evening of the 2nd of February there had assembled a party in Edinburgh, whom drinking and excitement had so far carried away that nothing less than a dance in the open High Street would satisfy them. Among the party were Ensign Fleming of the Scots Brigade in the Dutch service, whose father, Sir James Fleming, Knight, had been Lord Provost in 1681 ; Thomas Barnet, a gentleman of the Horse Guards ; and John Galbraith, son of a merchant in the city. The ten o?clock bell had been tolled in the Tron spire, to warn all good citizens home; and these gentlemen, with other bacchanals, were in full frolic at a pzrt of the street where there was no light save-such as might fall from the windows of the houses, when a sedan chair, attended by two footmen, one of whom bore a lantern, approached. In the chair was no less a personage than David Earl of Leven, General of the Scottish Ordzance, and member of the Privy Council, proceeding on his upward way to the Castle of which he was governor. It was perilous work to meddle with such a person in those times, but the ensign and his friends were in too reckless a mood to think of consequences; so when Galbraith, in his dance reeled against one of the footmen, and was warned off with an imprecation, Fleming and his friend of the Guards said, ? It would be brave sport to overturn the sedan in the mud.? At once they assailed the earl?s servants, and smashed the lantern. His lordship spoke indignantly from his chair ; then drawing his sword, Fleming plunged it into one of the footmen ; but he and the others were overpowered and captured by the spectators. The young ?rufflers,? on learning the rank of the man they had insulted, were naturally greatly alarmed, and Fleming dreaded the loss of his corn ?
Volume 2 Page 196
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