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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


190 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Laith. escape by a mast that fell between the wreck and the shore. In I 692 Leith possessed twenty-nine ships, having a tonnage of 1,702 tons. Six years later saw the ill-fated Darien Expedition sail from its port on the 26th of July, consis: ing of four frigates-the Rising Sun, Captain Gibson ; the Companies? Hope, Captain Miller ; the HamiZton, Captain Duncan ; the Nape, of Borrowtounness, Captain Dalling-having on board I, 200 men, exclusive of 300 gentlemen volunteers, with a great quantity of cannon and other munition of war. They must have gone ?North about,? as their final departure to the scene of their valour, sufferings, and destruction was from Rothesay Bay on the 24th September, 1699. In the last year of the seventeenth century the proprietors of the Glass Works at Leith made a strong complaint to the Scottish Privy Council concerning a ruinous practice pursued by the proprietors of similar works at Newcastle of sending great quantities of their goods into Scotland. These English makers had lately landed-it was stated in the February of 1700-no less than two thousand six hundred dozen of bottles at Montrose, thus overstocking the market ; and on their petition the Lords of the Privy Council empowered the Leith Glass Company to seize all such English wares and bring them in for his Majesty?s use. In July, 1702, a piteous petition from Leith was laid before the Lords of Council, stating that ?It had pleased the great and holy God to visit this town, for their heinous sins qgainst Him, with a very suhden and temble stroke, which was occasioned by the firing of thirty-three barrels of powder, which dreadful blast, as it was heard even at many miles distance with great terror and amazement, so it hath caused great ruin and desolation in this place.? By this explosion seven or eight persons were killed on the spot, the adjacent houses had their roofs blown 0% their windows destroyed, and were reduced to ruinous heaps, while portions of their timber were carried to vast distances. ?Few houses in the town did not escape some damage, andall this ina moment of time ; so that the merciful conduct of Divine Providence hath been very admirable in the preservation of hundreds of people whose lives were exposed to manifold dangers, seeing that they had not so much previous warning as to shift a foot for their own preservation, much less to remove their plenishing.? The petition alleged that damage had been done to the amount of A36,936 Scots ?by and attour,? the injuries done to several back-closes and lofts, household furniture, and merchants? goods. The proprietors of the houses wrecked were, for the most part, unable to repair them ; thus the petitioners entreated permission to make a charitable collection throughout the kingdom at the doors of the churches ; and the Lords granted their prayer. Two years after the Lords had to adjudicate upon a case of trade despotism. In the January of 1704, Charles, Earl of Hopetoun, stated that during his minority his guardians had built a windmill in Leith for the purpose of grinding and refining the ore from his mines in the Leadhills of Lanarkshire; but the mill had been unused until now, and was found to require repair. John Smith, who had set up a saw-mill in Leith, being the only man able to do this kind of work, was employed by the Earl to repair his windmill ; but the wrightburgesses of Edinburgh arose in great wrath, and with violence interfered with the work, on the ground that it was a violation of their privileges as a corporation, although not one of them had been bred to the work in question, ?or had any skill therein.? Indeed, it was shown that some part of the work done by them had to be taken down as useless. The Earl argued that it was plainly to the public detriment if such a work was brought to a standstill; and the Council, adopting his views, gave him a protection against the irate wrights of Edinburgh. In the year 1705 Leith was the scene of those stormy episodes connected with the execution of the captain and two seamen of the English ship Worcester. The oppressive clauses of an Act of the English Parliament concerning the proposed union had roused the pride of the Scots to fever heat, and tended to alienate the minds of many who had been in favour of the measure ; and the incidents referred to occurred just at a time to exasperate the mutual jealousies of both countries. The Darien Company, notwithstanding the ruin that had befallen their enterprise, still traded with the East, and at this time one of their vessels, called the Annaadak, being seized in the Thames, was sold by the English East India Company, to whom the owners applied in vain for restitution or repayment. Shortly afterwards the Worcester, an English East Indiaman, requiring repairs, put into Burntisland, where she was at once seized by way of reprisal. Meanwhile some of her crew, when in liquor, had let fall in their irritation some unguarded admissions which led to a suspicion that they had cap tured a Darien ship in Eastern waters, and murdered her captain and entire crew; and this suspicion was
Volume 5 Page 190
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