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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


Stirling had been paying his addresses to a girl possessed of great attractions, daughter of Richard Lawson of the Highriggs, Provost in 1504 (and whose house there was removed only in 1878), but proving less successful than Meldrum of the Binns-whose feats of chivalry have been sung by Lindesay of the Mount-he attacked the latter at the head of fifty horse, near the Rood Chapel in Leith Loan, though his rival had only eight followers, and a mortal combat with sword and axe ensued. Meldrum unhorsed Sir Lewis, and would have slain him had not his faithful henchman, by interposing, received the sword-thrust in his own heart. The prowess of Meldrum?s troopers is evinced from the fact that they slew twenty-six oi Stirling?s men, but the former was left for dead, covered with wounds ; ?yet,? saith Pitscottie, ?be the mychtie power of God he escaped death, and lived fiftie years thairaftir.? The Chevalier de la Bead, the detested Lieutenant-Governor under Albany, at the head of the mounted French gendarmerie, pursued Stirling to the Peel of Linlithgow. He stormed it, and sent this fiery lover to the Castle of Edinburgh, where he was sentenced to death, but was pardoned and set free, while the chevalier was soon after slain by Home of Wedderburn, who knitted his head to his saddlebow. During this time little James V. resided permanently in the Castle, pursuing his studies under the tuition of Gawin Dunbar, afterwards Archbishop of Glasgow, all unconscious of the turmoils in progress everywhere, and so completely forgotten by the actors in them, that his sister, the Countess of Morton, with her friends, had, more than once, to repair the royal apartments and replenish his wardrobe. Though . placed in the fortress for security, he was permitted to ride abroad on a little mule that was kept for his use, but always under escort of Albany?s guards, clad in scarlet doublets slashed with black, and armed with partisan and dagger. Dread of a pestilence &hich broke out in the garrison caused his removal to Craigmillar, where, by the courtesy of Lord Erskine, his mother was permitted to visit him, till the other guardians, hostile to English influence and suspicious of her power, removed him to his fonner residence. James is said to have delighted in conversing with the soldiers, and when handling their swords and hackbuts his cheeks were seen to flush and his eyes to sparkle with the ardour of a brave boy when contemplating military objects. When Albany returned from visiting France, in 1521, the queen-dowager, Beaton, and so many Dthers came in his train to Holyrood, that Angus, who had quarrelled with Margaret, and was the sworn foe of them all, quitted the city, and was exiled for tumults he had excited during the absence ot the Regent. As the only means 06 terminating the frightful anarchy that prevailed, it was resolved to invest James, now in his twelfth year, with full sovereign power ; and thus, on the zznd August, 1524, he made his solemn entry into the Tolbooth, preceded by the crown, sceptre, and sword of state. The irrepressible Angus, backed by the Douglases, seized the government in the following year, scaled the city walls on the night of the 24th November, beat open the ports, and fairly capturing Edinburgh, made a Douglas Provost thereof. And such was the power he possessed, that the assassins of M?Lellan of Bombie-who was slain in open day at the door of St. Giles?s churcliwalked with impunity about the streets; while the queen herself deemed his safe-conduct necessary while she resided in Edinburgh, though Parliament was sitting at the time ; and so the king returned again to honourable durance in the dilapidated palace of the Castle, or only put in an appearance to act as the puppet of his governor. At this crisis Arran and his faction demanded that Parliament should assemble in the Castle-hall as a security against coercion ; but Angus vowed that it should continue to meet in its usual place ; and as the king was retained within the Castle, he cut off all communication between it and the city with 2,000 men, on whom the batteries opened; but eventually these differences were adjusted, and the luckless young king was permitted to attend Parliament in state. On All Saints? Day a thunderbolt struck a turret 3f David?s Tower, and hurled some fragments down the rocks, setting fire to the apartments of Margaret, who narrowly escaped with her life. In 1526, John Earl of Lennox, at? the head of numerous forces, marched towards Edinburgh, intent on rescuing the king from the intolerable thraldom of Angus; but the latter caused his namesake the Provost to ring the alarm bell, display the banner of the city, and put? it on its defence. He did more. He tompelled James to Lead out the citizens against his own friends. He issued forth by the West Port, at the head of all the men of Edinburgh and Leith, but came in time only to witness the death of Lennox in the battle of Linlithgow Bridge, where he was cruelly slain by Sir James Hamilton, after he had surrendered his sword to the Laird of Pardowie. Queen Margaret, who had now divorced Angus,
Volume 1 Page 42
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