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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


MUSCHAT?S CAIRN. 311 Arthur?r Seat.] terrible schemes occupied Nichol. Muschat, his brother, and his sister-in-law, together with Burnbank, ? in the Christian city of Edinburgh, during a course of many months, without any one, to appearance, ever feeling the slightest compunction towards the poor weman, though it is admitted she loved her husband, and no real fault on her side has ever been insinuated.? At length it would seem that Nicol, infatuated and lured by evil fate, at the suggestion of ?? the devil, that cunning adversary ?-as his confession has it-borrowed a knife, scarcely knowing for what purpose, and, inviting his unsuspecting wife to walk with him as far as Duddingston one night, cut her throat near the line of trees that marked the Duke?s Walk. He then rushed in a demented state to tell his brother what he had done, and thereafter sank into a mood of mind that made all seem blank to him. Next morning the unfortunate victim was found ?with her throat cut to the bone,? and many other wounds received in her dying struggle. In the favourite old Edinburgh religious by a cairn near the east gate and close to the north wall. ?The original cairn is said to have been several paces farther west than the present one, the stones of which were taken dut of the old wall whenit was pulled down to give place to the new gate that was constructed previous to the late royal visit ?-that of George IV. In 1820 the pathway round Salisbury Craigs was formed, and named the ? Radical Road ? from ?the , circumstance of the destitute and discontented west-country weavers being employed on its construction under a committee of gentlemen. At that time it was proposed to ?sow the rocks with wall-flowers and other >I? AlAKGAKET?S WELI.. tract, which narrates the murderous story, in telling where he went before doing the deed, he says that he passed ?? through the Tidies,? at the end of a lane which was near the Meadows. The entrance to the Park, near the Gibbet Fall, was long known as ?the Tirliea,? implying a sort of stile. Nicol Muschat was tried, and confessed all. He was hanged, on the 6th of the ensuing January in the Grassmarket, while his associate Burnbank was declared infamous, and banished ; and the people, to mark their horror of the event, in the old Scottish fashion raised a cairn on the spot where the murder was perpetrated, and it has ever since been a well-remembered locality. The first cairn was removed during the formation of a new footpath through the park, suggested by Lord Adam Gordon, who was resident at Holyrood House in 1789, when Commander of the Forces in Scotland; but from a passage in the WeekOJournal we find that it was restored in 1823 odoriferous and flowering plants.? It was also suggested ? to plant the cliffs above the walk with the rarest heaths from the Cape of Good Hope and other foreign parts.? ( Weekfiyuumal, XXIV.) The papers of this time teem with bitter complaints against the Earl of Haddington, who, as a keeper of the Royal Park, by an abuse of his prercgative, was quarrying away the craigs, and selling the stone to pave the streets of London; and the immense gaps in their south-western face still remain as proofs of his selfish and unpatriotic rapacity. As a last remnant of the worship of Baal, or Fire, we may mention the yearly custom that still exists of a May-day observance, in the young of the female sex particularly, ascending Arthur?s Seat on Beltane morning at sunrise. ?? On a fine May morning,? says the ? Book of Days,? ? the appearance of so many gay groups perambulating the hill sides and the intermediate valleys, searching for dew, and rousing the echoes with their harmless mirth, has an indescribably cheerful effect.? Many old citizens adhered to this custom with wonderful tenacity, and among the last octogenarians who did so we may mention Dr. Andrew Duncan of Adam Square, the founder of the Morningside Asylum, who paid his last annual visit to the hill top on hlayday, 1S26~ in his eighty-second year, two years before his death ; and James Burnet, the last captain of the old Town Guard, a man who weighed nindeen stone, ascended
Volume 4 Page 310
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