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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


306 QLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Arthur?s Seat. name of Arthur?s Seat were anciently covered with wood. The other eminences in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh had similar appellations. Calton, or Culdoun, is admitted to be the hill covered with trees.? But there is another hill named thus- ChoiZZedm, near the Loch of Monteith. The rough wild path round the base of the Salisbury Craigs, long before the present road was formed, was much frequented for purpose of reverie by David Hume and Sir Walter Scott Thither Scott represents Reuben Butler as resorting on the morning after the Porteous mob :-?? If I were to choose a spot from which the rising or setting sun could be seen to the greatest possible advantage, it would be that wild path winding round the foot of the high belt of semicircular rocks, called Salisbury Craigs, and marking the verge of the steep descent which slopes down into the glen on the southeastern side of the city of Edinburgh. The prospect in its general outline commands a close-built high-piled city, stretching itself out beneath in a form, which to a romantic imagination may be supposed to represent that of a dragon; now a noble ?arm of the sea, with its rocks, isles, distant shores, and boundary of mountains; and now a fine and fertile champaign country varied with hill and dale. . . . . This path used to be my favourite evening and morning resort, when engaged with a favourite author or a new subject of study.? The highest portion of these rocks near the Catnick, is 500 feet above the level of the Forth; and here is found a vein of rock different in texture from the rest ?This vein,? says a writer, ?has been found to pierce the sandstone below the footpath, and no doubt fills the vent of an outflow of volcanic matter from beneath. A vein of the same nature has probably fed the stream of lava, which forced its way between the strata of sandstone, and formed the Craigs.? A picturesque incident, which associates the unfortunate Mary with her turbulent subjects, occurred zt the foot of Arthur?s Seat, in 1564. In the romantic valley between it and Salisbury Craigs there is still traceable a dam, by which the natural drainage had been confined to form an artificial lake ; at the end of which, in that year, ere her wedded sorrows began, the beautiful young queen, in the sweet season, when the soft breeze came laden witb the perfume of the golden whin flowers from the adjacent Whinny Hill, had an open-air banquet set forth in honour of the nuptials of John, fifth Lord Fleming, Lord High Chamberlain, and Elizabeth the only daughter and heiress of Robert Master of Ross. In 1645, when the dreaded pestilence reached ? Edinburgh, we find that in the month of April the rown Council agreed with Dr. Joannes Paulitius that for a salary of A80 Scots per month he should visit the infected, a vast number of whom had been borne forth from the city and hutted in the King?s Park, at the foot of Arthur?s Seat; and on the 27th of June the Kirk Session of Holyrood ordered, that to avoid further infection, all who died in the Park should be buried there, and not within any churchyard, ? except they mor4 tified (being able to do so) somewhat, adpios usus, for the relief of other poor, being in extreme indigence.? (? Dom. Ann.,? Vol. 11.) In November, 1667, we find Robert Whitehead, laud of Park, pursuing at law John Straiton, tacksman of the Royal Park, for the value of a horse, which had been placed there to graze at 4d per night, but which had disappeared-no uncommon event in those days ; but it was ulged by Straiton that he had a placard on the gate intimating that he would not be answerable either for horses that were stolen, or that might break their necks by falling over the rocks. Four years afterwards we read of a curious duel taking place in the Park, when the Duke?s Walk, so called from its being the favourite promenade of James Duke of Albany, was the common scene of combats with sword and pistol in those days, and for long after. In the case referred to the duellists were men in humble life. On the 17th June, 1670, William Mackay, a tailor, being in the Castle of Edinburgh, had a quarrel with a soldier with whom he was drinking, and blows were exchanged. Mackay told the soldier that he dared not use him so if they were without the gates of the fortress, on which they deliberately passed out together, procured a couple of sharp swords in the city, and proceeded to a part of the King?s Park, when after a fair combat, the soldier was run through the body, and slain. Mackay was brought to trial ; he denied having given the challenge, and accused the soldier of being the aggressor ; but the public prosecutor proved the reverse, so the luckless tailor-not being a gentleman-was convicted, and condemned to die. A beacon would seem to have been erected on the cone of Arthur?s Seat in 1688 to communicate with Fifeshire and the north (in succession from Garleton Hill, North Berwick, and St. Abb?s Head) on the expected landing of the Prince of Orange. On one occasion the appearance of a large fleet of Dutch fishing vessels off the mouth of the Firth excited the greatest alarm, being taken for-a hostile armament. --
Volume 4 Page 306
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