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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Inchkeithl HISTORICAL SKETCH OF THE ISLAND. 29T ~~~~~ ~ ~~ land harbour, was repulsed in an attempt upon St. Minoe (St. Monance) by the Laird of Dun, ?? and so without glory or gain, returned to England.? The re-capture of Inchkeith during the French occupation of Leith has already been related; but the garrison there were in turn blockaded by Elizabeth?s squadron of sixteen ships under Admiral Winter, in 1560, which cut off their provisions and communication with the shore. The works erected by the English at first were thrown down by the French, who built a more regular castle, or work, and ?? upon a portion of the fort, which remained about the end of the last century,? says Fullarton?s ? Gazetteer,? ?? were the initials M. R and the date 1556 ;? but the exactness of the date given seems doubtful. During the French occupation the island was, as has been said, used as a grazing ground for the horses of the gendarmes, which could not with safety be pastured on Leith Links. To prevent the island from ever again being used by the English the fortifications were dismantled in 1567, and the guns thereon were brought to Ehinburgh. In the Act of Parliament ordaining this they are described as being ruinous and utterly decayed. In 1580, Inchkeith, with Inchgarvie, was made a place of exile for the plague-stricken by order of the Privy Council. After this we hear no more of the isie till 1652, when in the July of that year, as Admiral Blake at the head of sixty sail appeared off Dunbar in search of the Dutch under Van Tromp, the appearance of the latter off the mouth of the Firth, ? put the deputy-governor of Leith, called Wyilkes, in such a fright,? says Balfour, ?that he with speed sent men and cannon to fortifie Inchkeithe, that the enimey, if he come npe the Fyrthe, should have none of the freshe watter of that iyland.? . From this we may gather that Major Wilks (the same Cromwellian who shut up the church of South Leith and kept the keys thereof) was a prudent and active officer. At this time, probably, all intercourse between Leith and London by sea was cut 04 as Lamont in the August of this year, records that Lady Crawford departed from Leith to visit her husband, then a prisoner in the Tower of London; adding that she travelled ?in the journey coach that comes ordinarlie betwixt England and Scotland.? When Dr. Johnson visited Scotland in 1773, Lord Hailes mentioned to Boswell the historical anecdote of the Inch having been called U L?isk des Chaux ? by the soldiers of Mardchal Strozzi j )ut when the lexicographer and his satellite anded there, they found sixteen head of black cattle at pasture there. That the defensive works had not been so com- ?letely razed as the Parliament of 1567 ordained, s e a s apparent from the following passage in Boswell?s work :-? The fort with an inscription on it, MARIA RE 1504 (?), is strongly built.? Dr, Johnson examined it with much attention, I? He stalked like a giant among the luxuriant thistles and nettles. There are three wells in the island, but we could not find one in the fort. There must prdbably have been one, though now dlled up, as a garrisoxi could?not subsist without it . . . . When we got into our boat again, he called to me. ? Come, now, pay a classical compliment to the island on quitting it.? I happened, luckily, allusion to the beautiful Queen Mary, whose name is on the fort, to think of what Virgil makes fineas say on having left the? country of the charming Dido :- Invitus, regina, tu0 littore cessi.? ? Unhappy Queen, Unwilling I forsook your friendly state.? ? Boswell was in error about the date on the stone, and showed a strange ignorance of the history of his own country, as Mary was not born till 1542 j and there now remains, built into the wall of the courtyard round the lighthouse, and immediately above the gateway thereof, a stone bearing the royal arms of Scotland with the date 1564. There are now no other remains of the old fortifications, though no doubt all the stones and material of them were used in building the somewhat extensive range of houses, stores, and retaining walls connected with the light-house. If the fort was still strong, as Boswell asserts, in I 773, it is strange that the works were not turned to some account, when Admiral Fourbin was off the coast in 1708, and during the advent of Paul Jones in 1779. We first hear of the new channel adjoining the island in September, 1801, when the pewspapen relate that the Wnghts, armed ship of Leith, Captain Campbell, commander, and the Safguard, gun-vesseJunder Lieutenant Shields?the former with a convoy for Hamburg, and the latter with a convoy for the Baltic, in all one hundred sail, put to sea together, passing ?? through the new channel to the southward of the island, which has lately been buoyed and rendered navigable by order of Government, for the greater safety of His Majesty?s ships entering the Firth of Forth. This passage which is also found to be of the greatest utility to the trade of Leith, and ports higher up the Firth, has
Volume 6 Page 291
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