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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


YAMES V. TO ABDICA TION OF QUEEN MAR Y. 55 In the beginning of October, in this same year, the Scottish forces were mustered on the Borough Muir of Edinburgh, to the number of ten thousand men ; the English having been-at length fairly starved out of the country, For the pest and hungar was rycht evil1 amangis tham, quha mycht remayne na langer thairin ; ” * and so, having no -enemy to contend with, they and their allies immediately quarrelled. “ There chanced,” says Bishop Leslie (who has furnished the most detailed account of the transaction), “ to fall out not a little piece of trouble in Edinburgh, betwixt the Scotch and Frenchmen, by reason that a French soldier fell at quarelling with a Scotsman upon the High Street, and after words they came to blows, so that divers Scotsmen coming to the fray, would have had the Frenchman to prison; but divers of the French soldiers being also present, would not suffer them to take him with them ; whereupon the captains being advertised, come with all speed to the highway. The Laird of Stenhouse (James Hamilton), being the Captain of the Castle and Provost of the town, comes likewise with a company to put order thereto. The French soldiers being so furious that they shot their harquebusses indiferently at all men, wherewith there were sundry slain, both men, weomen, and children ; among the which the foresaid Provost of Edinburgh was slayn, and Master William Stewart, a gentleman of good reputation, with sundry others ; whereby the whole people conceived B great grudge and hatred against the Frenchmen, and for revenge thereof there was many Frenchmen slain at Edinburgh at sundry times thereafter.” * Calderwood further states, that the Frenchmen were driven by the citizens from the Cross to Niddry’s Wynd-head, where they rallied and were joined by a number of their fellow-soldiers ; they were again compelled to retreat, however, till on their reaching the Nether Bow, the whole body of French troops encountered the Provost and citizens; and there the Provost, and his son, and various other citizens, women as well as men, were slain. The French troops kept possession of the town from five to seven at night, when they retired to the Canongate.* To appease the matter, the Frenchman, chief beginner of the business, was hanged the same day at the market place of Edinburgh, where the quarrel first began. A very unpropitious state of things, as the only alternative seemingly left to the Scots from another English harrying. In the month of April 1550, a final peace was concluded with England, the latter abandoning all those unjustifiable projects of forced alliance, which had been attempted to he enforced with such relentless barbarity during a nine years’ war. In the year 1551, the Queen Dowager returned from a visit she had made to the French Court, and immediately thereafter, on the 29th of May, a Parliament was held at Edinburgh, and another in the month of February following, at both of which enactments were passed, which furnish, at once, evidence of the state of the county at the period, and afford curious insight into the manners of the age. One of these is <‘anent the annuelles of landes burnt be our auld enemies of England, within the burgh of Edinburgh and other burghs,”‘ and bears a special reference to Edinburgh, having been enacted at the suit of the Provost and Bailies thereof, to settle disputed claims by the clergy. Others, again, are addressed against many prevailing vioes or extravagances of the age, * DCiauldrenrawl ooof dO’ac Hcuirsrtoenryts,, vpo.l . 4i8. p. 258. . ’’ S Bcisohtao pA cLtaes, lvieo,l .p .i 2p1 .7 2. 71,
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56 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. interfering with a high hand, even to the ‘t ordouring of everie mannis house,” and regulating with a most rigid economy the number of dishes at each man’s table, according to his degree. But the most interesting is, that against printing without licence, furnishing an insight into the variety and character of the writings then issuing from the press, and already strongly influencing the public mind. ‘‘ l%at na prenter presume to prent ony buikes, ballattes, sanges, blasphemationes, rime, or tragedies, outher in Latine or English toung,” without due examination and licence granted, under pain of confiscation of goods, and banishment of the realm for ever.’ Sir David Lindsay had already published his Tragedie of tAe Cardinal, and it seems to have been about this time that he put forth The Historie and Testament of Spuyer Meldrum, one of his most pleasing poems, though in parts exhibiting a licence, as to incident and language, common to the writers of that age. This poem is the versification of a romantic incident which occurred under his own observation during the unsettled period, in the earlier years of the minority of James V. (August 1517.)’ The rank of Sir D a d Lindsay, and the influence he had enjoyed during the previous reign, had continued to preserve him from all interference ; nor was ’ it till the accession of Elizabeth to the throne of England, and the steps in favour of the Protestant party that followed thereon, that the Catholic clergy at length denounced his writings as the fruitful source of movement in the popular mind. The object of the Queen Dowager, in her recent visit to France, had been mainly to secure the interest of that Court in procuring for herself the office of Regent. The Earl of Arran, who still held that office, seems to have been altogether deficient in the requisite talents for his responsible position ; swqyed alternately by whichever adviser chanced to hold his confidence, his government was at once feeble and uncertain. No sooner had the Queen Dowager secured the approbation and concurrence of the French King, than her emissaries departed for the Scottish capital, empowered to break the affair to the Regent, with such advantageous offer as should induce him to yield up the office without difficulty. Threats were held out of a rigid reckoning being required as to the dilapidation of the revenue and crown-lands, which had taken place during his government. Chatelherault, with ample provision for his eldest aon at the French Court, while like liberal promises secured to the Queen’s party many of the nobility. The kchbishop of St Andrews, who had latterly influenced all the motions of the Regent, chanced at this time to be dangerously ill, so that Arran was left without counsel or aid, and yielded at length a reluctant consent to the exchange. On the return of Mary of Guise from France, she accompanied Arran in a progress through the northern parts of the kingdom, in which she exhibited much of that prudence and ability which she undoubtedly possessed, and which, in more fortunate times, might have largely promoted the best interests of the country: while such was the popularity she acquired, that the Regent became highly jealous of her influence, and when reminded of his promise, indignantly refused to yield up the government into her hands. The Queen Dowager, however, already possessed the real power ; and while the Regent, with his few adherents, continued to reside at Edinburgh, and maintain there the forms of government, she was holding a brilliant court at Stirling, and securing to her party the . On the other hand, he was offered the splendid bribe of the Dukedom of . l Scots Acta, vol. i. p. 286. * Pitscottie, vol. ii. p, 305.
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