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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Leith.: PAUL pinnaces were hourly expected ; but, thanks to the west wind, Leith was saved. ? We continued working to windward of the Firth,? says Jones, in his narrative, ? without being able to reach the Roads of Leith till the morning of the 17th, when being almost within cannon shot of the town, and having everything in readiness for the descent, a very severe gale of wind came on, and obliged us to bear away after having endeavoured for some time to withstand its violence. The gale was so severe that one of the prizes taken on the 14th (the Rn>ndsh!ip of Kirkcaldy) was sunk to the bottom, the crew being with difficulty saved. AS the clamour by this time reached Leith by JONES. 197 It was evident that the age of miracles was not past at that time, as it was openly asserted that Mr. Sheriff, the secession minister of Kirkcaldy, by his prayers, ? assisted, with God?s help, in raising the wind ?? (? Life of Paul Jones,? by the Registrar of the U. S. Navy, &c., &c.). Attention having thus been drawn to the defenceless state of the town, a battery-now rendered utterly useless by encroaching houses and dockswas built to the eastward of Bathfield. Originally it was only a rampart armed with nine guns facing the water, as a protection during the American War; but in later years the works were added to: spacious artillery barracks were built, with a with the aid of handspikes, were conveyed across the old bridge to North Leith and posted on a portion of the citadel, forming a battery that might have proved exceedingly perilous to those who worked it. A few brass field pieces, manned by artillerymen, were posted farther westward, and arms were supplied to the incorporated trades from Edinburgh. All eyes were now turned on the enemy?s ships, from which the manned boats and means of a cutter that had watched our m6tions that morning, and as the wind continued contrary (though more moderate in the evening), I thought it impossible to pursue the enterprise with a good prospect of success, especially as Edinburgh, where there is always a number of troops, is only a mile distant from Leith, therefore I gave up my project? He bore away, and soon after fought his victorious battlc off Flaniborough Head. --U PAUL JONES.
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-198 OLD .4ND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. park and ample stabling; and there are always two batteries, with guns and horses, stationed there now. Here, on the 6th October, 1781, trial was made of a Ioo-pounder carronade, which in those dayswhen Woolwich ? infants ?? were unknown-excited the greatest wonder; and on this occasion there -were present the Duke of Buccleuch, the Right Hon. Henry Dundas, Lord Advocate, and Captain John Fergusson, R. N., who died an admiral, In the same year, the fleet of Admiral Sir Peter Parker, consisting of fifteen sail of the line and many frigates, the Jamaica squadron, and a convoy of 600 merchantmeii, lay for two months in Leith Roads, having on board more than zo,ooo seamen and marines ; and so admirably were the markets of the town supplied, that it is noteworthy this addition to the population did not raise the prices one farthing. Five years subsequently Commodore the Hon. John Leveson Cower?s squadron anchored in the Roads in July. Among the vessels under his command was the Helm frigate of forty guns, commanded by Captain Keppel, and the third lieutenant of which was the young Prince William Henry, the future William IV. The squadron was then on a cruise to the Orkneys and Hebrides. In I 788 a paddle-ship of remarkable constmction, planned by Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, an2 called the Experiment (the forerunner of the steamboat), was launched from the yard of Messrs. Allan and Stewart, ship-builders, at Leith. In the Edinburgh Magazine she is described as being a species .of double ship, built something like the South Sea prahs, but larger, being ninety feet long, with other dimensions in proportion. She was provided with wheels for working in calm weather. ?She -.went out of the harbour about mid-day, and was at -first moved along by the wheels with considerable -velocity. When she got a little without the pierhead, they hoisted their stay-sails and square-sails, .and stood to the westward; but, her masts and :sails being disproportionate to the weight of the She made her trial trip in September. hull, she did not go through the water so fast as was expected.? Another feature that impeded lier progress considerably was a netting across her bows for the purpose of preventing loose wreck getting foul of the wheels, and the steering machine, between the two rudders, was found to be of little use. When these were removed her speed increased. Those who managed this peculiar craft went half-way over the Firth, and then tacked, but, as the ebb-tide was coming down and the wind increasing, they anchored in the Roads. Weighing with the next flood, notwithstanding that the wind blew right out of the harbour, by means of their wheels and stay-sails they got in and moored her at eleven at night. A number of gentlemen conversant with nautical matters accompanied her in boats. Among others were Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, and Captain Inglis of Redhall, afterwards one of Nelson?s officers. In the same month and year the drawbridge of Leith was founded. The stone was laid by Lord Haddo, in the absence of Lord Elcho, Grand Master of Scotland, accompanied by the magistrates of Edinburgh and the Port, who, with the lodges and military, marched in procession from the Assembly Rooms in Leith. The usual coins and plate of silver were placed in the base of the east pier. ?The drawbridge,? says a print of the time, ?will be of great benefit to the trade of Leith, as any number of ships will be able to lie in safety, which in storms and floods they could not do before when the harbour was crowded.? In 1795 was established the corps of Royal Leith Volunteers, who received their colours on the Links on the 26th of September. A detachment of the Royal Edinburgh Volunteers kept the ground The colours were presented by the Lord Lieutenant to Captain Bruce, of the corps, brother to Bruce of Kennet ; and in 1797 120 ship-captains of Leith -to their honour be it recorded in that time of European war and turmoil-made a voluntary offer to serve the country in any naval capacity that was siitable to their position.
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