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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Leith.] REPULSE OF THE ENGLISH AND SCOTS. I77 Cornelle, Shelly, Littleton, Southworthe, and nine other officers, with 2,240 men. To keep the. field (i.~., the Reserve), Captain Somerset, and eight other captains, with 2,400 men. ?Item ; it is ordered that the Vyce Admyralle of the Queen?s Majesty?s schippes shall, when a token is given, send Vc. (500) men out of the Navye into the haven of Leythe, to give an assaulte on the side of the towne, at the same instant when the assaulte shal be gevene on the breche.? Captain Vaughan was ordered to assault the town near Mount Pelham, and the Scots on the westward and seaward. The assault was not made until the 7th of May, when it was delivered at seven in the morning on dead they could find, and suspended the corpses along the sloping faces of the ramparts, where they remained for several days. The failure of the attempted storm did not very materially affect the blockade. On the contrary, the besiegers still continued to harass the town by incessant cannonading from the mounds already formed and others they erected One of the former, Mount Falcon, must have been particularly destructive, as its guns swept the most crowded part of Leith called the Shore, along which none could pass but at the greatest hazard of death. Moreover, the English were barbarously and uselessly cruel. Before burning Leith mills they murdered in cold blood every individual found therein. The close siege had now lasted about two months, PROSPECT OF LEITH, 1693. (Reduced Facainrilc aftw Grernvillr Coil us.) four quarters, but, for some reason not given, the fleet failed to act, and by some change in the plans Sir James Crofts was ordered, with what was deemed a sufficient force, to assail the town on the north side, at the place latterly called the Sand Port, where at low water an entrance was deemed easy. For some reason best known to himself Sir James thought proper to remain aloof during the whole uproar of the assault, the ladders provided for which proved too short by half a pike?s length; thus he was loudly accused of treachery-a charge which was deemed sufficiently proved when it was discovered that a few days before he had been seen in conversation with the Queen Regent, who addressed him from the walls of Edinburgh Castle. The whole affair turned out a complete failure, English and Scots were alike repulse2 r%Ah slaughter, ?and singular as it may appear,? says a writer, ? the success of the garrison was not a little aided by the exertionsof certain ladies, whom the French, with their usual gallantry to the fair sex, entertained in their quarters.? To these fair ones Knox applies some pretty rough epithets. The French now made a sally, stripped all the 110 without any prospect of a termination, though Elizabeth continued to send more men and more ships ; but the garrison were reduced to such dire extremities that for food they were compelled to shoot and eat all the horses of the. officers and gens Zurmes. Yet they endured their privations with true French sung froid, vowing never to surrender while a horse was left, <?their officers exhibiting that politeness in the science of gastronomy which is recorded of the Margchal Strozzi, whose maifre de cuisine maintained his master?s table with twelve covers every day, although he had nothing better to set upon it now and then except the quarter of a carrion horse, dressed with the grass and weeds that grew upon the ramparts.? The discovery, a few years ago, of an ancient well filled to its brim with cart-loads of horses? heads, near the head of the Links, was a singular but expressive monument of the resolution with which the town was defended The unfortunate Queen Regent did not live to see the end of these affairs. She was sinking fast. She had contemplated retiring to France, and had a commission executed at Blois by Francis
Volume 5 Page 177
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