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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


ROBERT MONTEITH. . 3?5 Duddingston.] incumbent of Duddingston in 1805. His favourite subjects were to be found in the grand and sublime of Nature, and his style is marked chiefly by vigour, power, and breadth of effect-strong light and deep shadow. As a man and a Christian minister, his life was simple, pure, and irreproachable, his disposition kind, affable, and benevolent. He died of apoplexy in 1840, in his sixty-second year. The city must have had some interest in the loch, as in the Burgh accounts for 1554 we read:- ?? Item : twa masons twa weeks to big the Park Dyke at the loch side of Dudding?ston, and foreanent it again on Priestfield syde, ilk man in the week xv?. summa iijIi. (?Item : for ane lang tree to put in the wall that lyes far in the loch for outganging of ziyld beistis v?.? ? (? Burgh Records.?) The town or lands of Duddingston are included in an act of ratification to James, Lord Lindsay of the Byers, in 1592. In the Acts of Sederunt for February, 1650, we find Alexander Craig, in-dweller in the hamlet, pilloried at the Tron of Edinburgh,. and placarded as being a ? lying witness ? in an action-at-law concerning the pedigree of John Rob in Duddingston; but among the few reminiscences of this place may be mentioned the curious hoax which the episcopal incumbent thereof at the Restoration played upon Cardinal de Retz. This gentleman, whose name was Robert Monteith, had unfortunately become involved in an amour with a lady in the vicinity, the wife of Sir James Hamilton of Prestonfield, and was cpmpelled to fly from the scene of his disgrace. He was the son of a humble man employed in the salmon-fishing above Alloa ; but on repairing to Paris, and after attaching himself to M. de la Porte, Grand Prior of France, and soliciting employment from Cardinal de Retz, he stated he was ?one of the Monteith family in Scotland.? The cardinal replied that he knew the family well, but asked to which branch he belonged. ?To the Monteiths of Salmon-net,? replied the unabashed adventurer. The cardinal replied that this was a branch he had never heard of, but added that he believed it was, no doubt, a very ancient and illustrious family. Monteith was patronised by the cardinal, who bestowed on him a canonry in Notre Dame, and made him his secretary, in which capacity he distinguished himself by his elegance and purity, in the French language. This strange man is author of a well-known work, published in folio, entitled, ? Hisfoa?re des TroubZes de &andBretap, depuis Z?an 1633 juspu?a Z?an 1649, pur Robed Menfet de Salmonet. It was dedicated to the Coadjutor Archbishop of Pans, with a portrait of the author; and a trans- . lation of it, by Captain James Ogilvie, was published in 1735 by G. Strachan, at the ?Golden Ball,? in Cornhill. In the year of the Revolution we find the beautiful loch of Duddingston, as an adjunct to the Royal Park, mentioned in a case before the Privy Council on the 6th March. The late Duke of Lauderdale having placed some swans thereon, his clever duchess, who was carrying on a legal contest With his heirs, deemed herself entitled to take away some of those birds when she chose; but Sir James Dick, now proprietor of the %ch, broke a lock-fast place in which she had put them, and set them once more upon the water. The irate dowager raised an action against him, which was decided in her favour, but in defiance of this, the baronet turned all the swans off the loch ; on which the Duke of Hamilton, as Heritable Keeper of the palace, came to the rescue, as Fountainhall records, alleging that the loch bounded the King?s Park, and that all the wild animals belonged to him ; they were, therefore, restored to their former haunts. Of the loch and the landsof Priestfield (orPrestonfield), Cockburn says, in his ?Memorials? :-?I know the place thoroughly. The reeds were then regularly . cut over by means of short scythes with very long handles, close to the ground, and this (system) made Duddingston nearly twice its present size? Otters are found in its waters, and a solitary badger has at times provoked a stubborn chase. The loch is in summer covered by flocks of dusky coots, where they remain till the closing of the ice excludes them from the water, when they emigrate to the coast, and return With the first thaw. Wild duck, teal, and water-hens, also frequent it, and swans breed there prolifically, and form one of its most picturesque ornaments. The pike, the perch, and a profusion of eels, which are killed by the barbed sexdent, also abound there. In winter here it is that skating is practised as an art by the Edinburgh Club. ?The writer recalls with pleasure,? says the author of the ?Book of Days,? ?skating exhibitions which he saw there early in the present century, when Henry Cockburn, and the philanthropist James Sipson, were conspicuous amongst the most accomplished of the club for their handsome figures and great skill in the art. The scene of that loch ? in full bearing J on a clear winter day, with its busy and stirring multitude of sliders, skaters, and curlers, the snowy Paris, 166 I.?
Volume 4 Page 315
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