Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


- - - who had come to pity, there were more than a hundred whose hearts were filled with a tiger-like ferocity, which the clergy had inspired to a dangerous degree, and for the most ungenerous purpose.? The women of the kail-market and the ?? saints of the Bowhead? were all there, their tongues trembling with abuse, and their hands full of stones or mud to launch at the head of the fallen Cavalier, who passed through the Water Gate at four in the afternoon, greeted by a storm of yells. Seated on a lofty hurdle, he was bound with cords so tightly that he was unable to raise his hands to save his face; preceded by the magistrates in their robes, he was bareheaded, his hat having been tom from him. Though in the prime of manhood and perfection of manly beauty, we are told that he ? looked pale, worn, and hollow-eyed, for many of the wounds he had received at Invercarron were yet green and smarting. A single horse drew the hurdle, and thereon sat the executioner of the city, clad in his ghastly and sable livery, and wearing his bonnet as a mark of disrespect.?? He was escorted by the city guard, under the notorious Major Weir-Weir the wizard, whose terrible fate has been recorded elsewhere. In front marched a number of Cavalier prisoners, bareheaded and bound with cords. Many of the people now shed tears on witnessing this spectacle ; but, says Khcaid, they were publicly rebuked by the clergy, ? who declaimed against this movement of rebel nature, and reproached them with their profane tenderness ; ? while the ?Wigton Papers ? state that how even the widows and the mothers of those who had fallen in his wars wept for Montrose, who looked around him With the profoundest serenity as he proceeded up the Canongate, even when he came to Moray House- ?Then, as the Graham looked upward, he met the ugly was one living mass of human beings ; but for one I where, by an unparalleled baseness, Argyle, with the chief men of his cabal, who never durst look Montrose in the face while he had his sword in his hand, appeared in the balcony in order to feed merrily their sight with a spectacle which struck horror into all good men. But Montrose astonished them with his looks, and his resolution confounded them.? Then with broad vulgarity the marchioness spat full in his face ! Argyle shrank back at this, and an English Cavalier who stood among the crowd below reviled him sharply, while Lorne and his bride continued to toy and smile in the face of the people. (? Wigton Papers.?) So protracted was this melancholy spectacle that seven o?clock had struck before the hurdle reached the gate of the Tolbooth, where Montrose, when unbound, gave the executioner a gold coin, saying -?? This-is your reward, my man, for driving the cart.? On the following day, Sunday, the ministers in their pulpits, according to Wishart, rebuked the people for not having stoned him. One declared that ?he was a faggot of hell, and that he already saw him burning,? while he was constantly taunted by Major Weir as ?a dog, .atheist, and murderer.? The story of Montrose?s execution on the z1st of May, when he was hanged at the Cross on a gibbet thirty feet high, with the record of his battles suspended from his neck, how he died with glorious magnanimity and was barbarously quartered, belongs to the general annals of the nation ; but the City Treasurer?s account contains some curious items connected with that great legal tragedy :- 1650. Ffebruar. To making a scaffold at ye Cross for burning ye Earl of Montrose?s papers . 2 8 0 May 13. For making a seat on a cart to carry him from ve Water Gate to ve Tolbooth . IZ 16 o ? into the street was Argyle, with a gay bridal party in their brave dresses. His son, Lord Lorne, had just been wedded to the Earl of Moray?s daughter, deeperand covering it again . . I 16 0 Pd. for sharping the axe for striking away the head, legs, and arms from the body. . . . . . o 12 0 ,,
Volume 3 Page 14
  Enlarge Enlarge  
canongate.] ROXBURGH HOUSE. 15 ~~ House, there stood in those days the mansion of the Earls of Roxburgh, surrounded by a beautiful As a set-off against these items, we have the following, in 1660-1, when Argyle?s fate came :- To Alexander Davidson for a new axe to ye Maiden, and is to maintain it all ye days of his life . . . . . * . . . . p 12 o To 4 Drummers when ArgyZe and Swzjtton were brought from Leith . . . . . 14 8 o To 17 extra Drummers, a days, when Montrose was buried and Argyle executed . . , 21 12 o The marquis was interred amid great pomp in the Church of St. Giles at the Restoration; but when a search was made for his remains in the Chepman aisle, in April, 1879, no trace of them whatever could be found there. Amid the gloom and?horror of scenes such as these executions, and the general events of the wars of the Covenant, all traces of gaiety, and especially of theatrical entertainments, disappeared in Edinburgh, as forbidden displays; but in January,. 1659, the citizens were regaled with the sight of a travelling dromedary, the first that had ever been in Scotland. Nicoll describes it as ?ane heigh great beast, callit ane dummodary, quhilk being keepit clos in the Canongate, none had a sight of it, without three pence the person. . . . . It was very big, and of great height, cloven futted like unto a kow, and on the bak ane saitt, as it were a sadill to sit on. Thair was brocht in with it ane lytill baboun, faced lyke unto an aip.? In 1686 the public attendance at mass by some of the officers of state excited a tumult in the city, and many persons of rank were insulted on returning therefrom by the rioters. One of these, a journeyman baker, was, by order of the Privy Council, whipped through the Canongate, and ultimately the Foot Guards had to fire on the mob that assembled. In that year an Act of Parliament empowered the magistrates to impose a tax of A500 sterling yearly, for three years, to cleanse the town and Canongate, and free both from beggars ; and in 1687 the whole members of the College of Justice voluntarily offered to bear their full share of this tax, and appointed two of their body to be present when it was levied. In 1692 we find an instance in the Canongate of one of the many troubles which in those days arose from corporation privileges, by which the poor and industrious tradesman was made the victim of monopoly. In the open ground which now surrounds Milton I which performs the whole journey in thirteen days, I without any stoppage (if God permit), having eighty Fepairs in this house, when Thomas Kinloch, Dea- :on of the Wrights in the Canongate, came with Jthers, and violently carried off all the tools of Somerville and his workmen, on the plea that they were not freemen of the burgh; and when the tools were demanded formally, two days after, they were withheld. Robert, Earl of Roxburgh (who afterwards died m his travels abroad), was then a minor, but his curators resented the proceedings of Kinloch, and sued him for riot and *oppression. Apparently, if the Roxburgh mansion had been subject to the jurisdiction of the Canongate, the Privy Council would have given no redress ; but when the earl?s ancestor, in 1636, had given up the superiority of the Canongate, as he reserved his house to be holden of the Crown, it was found that the local corporation had no right to interfere with his workmen, and Somerville?s tools were restored to him by order of the Council. Earl Robert was succeeded in this house by his brother John, fifth Earl and first Duke of Roxburgh, K.G., who sold his Union vote for LSOO, became Secretary of State for Scotland in 1716, and died in 1741. Long ere that time the effect of the Union had done its worst upon the old court burgh. Maitland, writing in 1753, says :-?This place has suffered more by the inion of the kingdoms than all the other parts of Scotland : for having, before that period, been the residence of the chief of the Scottish nobility, it was thqn in a flourishing condition ; but being deserted by them, many of their houses are fallen down, and others in a ruinous condition ; it is in a piteous case ! ? Five years after the Union we find a London coach announced as starting from the Capongate, the advertisement for which, with regard to expedition, comfort, and economy, presents a curious contrast to the announcements of to-day, and is worth giving at length, as we find it in the NkwcastZe Cau~unt of October, I 7 I 2. ? Edinburgh, Berwick, Newcastle, Durham, and London Stage-coach begins on Monday, 13th October, 1712. All that desire to pass from Edinbro? to London, or from London to Edinbro?, or any place on that road, let them repair to Mr. John Baillie?s, at the Coach and Horses at the head of the Canongate, every Saturday, or the Black Swan in Holborn, every other Monday, at both of which places they may be received in a stagexoach
Volume 3 Page 15
  Enlarge Enlarge