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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


G-s %-.I ?GREEN BREEKS.? 341 incident which occurred in that then fashionable promenade. It was in this square, and in the adjoining suburbs of Bristo Street, the Potterrow, and Cross Causeway, that those ? bickers? of stones, or street fights between boys of different ranks and localities- New Town and Old Town boys, Herioters and Watsoners-took place-juvenile exploits, to which he refers in his general preface to the Waverley Novels.? These dangerous rows were bickers which took place between the aristocratic youths of George Square and the plebeian fry of its vicinity, and it runs thus :-? It followed, from our frequent opposition to each other, that, though not knowing the names of our enemies, we were yet well acquainted with their appearance, and had nicknames for the most remarkable of them. One very active and spirited boy might be considered leader in the cohort of the suburbs, He was, I suppose, thirteen or fourteen years old, finely made, GEORGE SQUARE, SHOWING HOUSE (SECOND ON THE LEFT) OF SIR WALTER SCOTT?S FATHER difficult of suppression, as the parties always kept pretty far apart, and the fight was often a running one, till the Town Guard came on the ground, and then all parties joined against that force as a common foe, and clouds. of stones were hurled at them. These bickers, as an Edinburgh feature, were of great antiquity, and we have already cited an act of the Town Council published antnf them in 1529; and Calderwood tells us that ?upon the Lord?s Day, the 20th (January, 1582-3), the Lord Heries departed this life suddonlie, in time of the afternoone?s preaching, going to an upper chamber in William Fowllar?s lodging to see the bqes Bicker,? Scott has told us an anecdote of his share in the tall, blue-eyed, with long fair hair, the very picture of a Goth. This lad was always the first in the charge and last in retreat-the A4chilles and Ajax of the Cross Causeway.? From an old pair of green livery breeches which he wore, he was named Green Breeks. ?? It fell once upon a time,? he added, ?when the combat was at the thickest, this plebeian champion headed a sudden charge, so rapid and furious that all fled before him. He was several paces before his comrades, and had actually laid his hands on the patrician standard, when one of our party, whom some misjudging friend had entrusted with a caufeau de rhusse, inspired with a zeal for the honour of the corps worthy of Major Sturgeon himself, struck poor Green Breeks
Volume 4 Page 341
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