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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


High Street.] THE REGENT MORTON. 259 the king?s chamber j the lie was given, and a somewhat ribald altercation followed, but nothing occurred for nearly three weeks after, till Sir William Stewart, when coming down the High Street with a party of his friends, met Bothwell, accompanied by the Master of Gray and others, going up. A collision between two such parties was inevitable, and, in the spirit of the times, unavoidable. Sword and dagger were instantly resorted to, and in the general fight Sir William Stewart slew a friend of Bothwell?s, but in doing so lost his sword, and, being defenceless, was compelled to fly into Blackfriars Wynd. Thither the vengeful Bothwell pursued him ; and as he stood unarmed against a wall, ?strake him in at the back and out at the belly, and killed him.? For this Bothwell found it necessary to keep out of the way only for a few days ; and such events so commonly occurred, that it is not curious to find the General Assembly, exactly a week after this combat, proceeding qnietly with the usual work of choosiiig a Moderator, providing for ministers, and denouncing Popery, exactly as they do in the reign of Queen Victoria. The next most remarkable event was in 1668, when, on Saturday the 9th of July, James Sharpe, Archbishop of St. Andrews, whose residence was then in the Wynd, so narrowly escaped assassination. His apostacy from the Covenant, and unrelenting persecution of his former compatriots, its adherents, had roused the bitterness of the people against him. He was seated in his coach, at the head of the Wynd, waiting for Andrew Honeyman, Bishop of Orkney, when Mitchell, a fanatical assassin and preacher, and bosom friend of the infamous Major Weir, with whom he was then boarding in the house of Mrs. Grise1 Whiteford in the Cowgate, fired a pistol at the primate, but, missing him, dangerously wounded the Bishop of Orkney. He was immediately seized, and, with little regard to morality or justice, put to the torture, without eliciting any confession ; . and after two years seclusion on the Bass Rock, he was brought to Edinburgh in 1676, and executed in the Grassmarket, to strike terror into the Covenanters ; but history has shown that their hearts never knew what terror was. Sir William Honeyman, Bart., Lord Armadale in 1797, was the fourth in descent from the bishop who was wounded on this occasion by a poisoned bullet, as it is affirmed. While much of the west side of Blackfriars Wynd was left standing, the east, in the city improvements, was completely swept away. On the latter side, near the head of the wynd, was a house with a decorated lintel, inscribed-IN. THE. LORD. IS. MY. nom. 1564. The ground floor of it consisted of one great apartment, the roof or ceiling of which was upheld by a massive stone column. This hall formed the meeting-place of those who adhered to the Covenanted Kirk, after the Revolution of 1688, and was long known as ? The Auld Cameronian Meeting-house,? and in the upper storey thereof tradition alleges that Nicol Muschat, the murderer, lived, when a student? attending the university. On the west side of the Wynd was the ancient residence of the Earls of Morton, with a handsome ogee door-head and elaborate mouldings, shafted jambs, and in the tympanum of the lintel a coroneted shield supported by unicorns, though the arms of the family have always had two savages, or wild men, hence the edifice is supposed to be of a date anterior to the days of the Regent. Yet it is distinctly described, in a disposition by Archibald Douglas younger of Whittinghame, as ? that tenement which was sometime the Earl of Morton?s,?? from which, according to Wilson, it may be inferred to have been the residence of his direct ancestor, John second Earl of Morton, who sat in the Parliament of James IV. in 1504, and whose grandson, William Douglas of Whittinghame, was created a senator of the College of Justice in 1575. Tradition has unvaryingly alleged this house to have been that of the Regent Morton, in those days when the king?s men and queen?s men were fighting all over the city, and Kirkaldy of Grange was bent upon driving him out of it ; and here no doubt it was that he had his body-guard, which was commanded by Alexander Montgomery the poet, whom Melvil in his diary mentions as ?Captain Montgomery, a good honest man, and the Regent?s domestic ; ? and the house is often referred to, during the, civil wars of that period, before he attained the Regency. While Lennox was in office, Morton projected the assassination of the Laird of Drumquhasel, whom the former confined to his residence in Leith as a protection. This Morton deemed an affront to himself, and prepared to leave Leith and the king?s standard together. ?? Alarmed .by the probable loss of the most influential earl of the house of Douglas, the weak Regent, affecting to be ignorant of his wrathful intentions, sent a servant to acquaint him that ?he meant to dine with him that day,? ? I am sorry I cannot have the high honour of his lordship?s company,? replied the haughty earl ; ? my business is pressing, and obliges me to leave Leith without even bidding him adieu.? Lennox was
Volume 2 Page 259
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