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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


66 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. their forces with the English, for the purpose of expelling the French garrison.from Leith. The Council of Edinburgh manifested their sympathy by contributing the sum of sixteen hundred pounds Scots to maintain four hundred men engaged in their service for one month, for the reduction of that town.’ The English force landed, and took up their station around Restalrig Church, casting up trenches and securing themselves from the danger of surprise.’ The forces of the Congregation had now acquired both experience and discipline, and with the aid of such auxiliaries, the tables were speedily turned. The French troops began the attack by a sudden sally on the camp at Restalrig, by which the English auxiliaries were taken at a disadvantage ; but they speedily rallied, and chased them to the walls of Leith, killing above three hundred, though with a still greFter loss to themselves. In order more closely to press the siege, they removed their camp, a few days after, to Pilrig, a rising ground still known by that name, lying directly between Edinburgh and Leith.3 Early in May, a general assault was made, but the scaling ladders were discovered to be too short when applied to the walls, and the besiegers were driven back with great slaughter. The ordnance of the French garrison were mounted along the walls, and on every available point within the town of Leith. A battery that was erected on the tower of the preceptory of St Anthony proved particularly annoying and destructive to the besiegers ; and as they were unable, from their distance, to produce any effect on it, they advanced their cannon to the Links of Leith, where they threw up mounds of earth, and erected a battery of eight guns. With these they kept up 80 constant and destnctive a firing, that, in a few days, they not only dismounted the ordnance placed by the French in t$e steeple, but greatly injured it and the adjoining buildings.‘ On the 14th of April, being Easter Sunday, a constant firing was kept up by the assailants, particularly at St Mary’s Church, where the people were assembled for divine service, so that a bullet was shot through the great east window, passing right over the altar, during the celebration of high mass, and just before the elevation of the host. Two of the mounds thrown up by the besiegers on this occasion still remain on Leith Links, and almost directly opposite the east end of the church. One of them is on the extreme east side of the Links ; the other, which lies considerably nearer the High School, is locally designated the Giant’s Bra. As there existed, till very recently, no houses between the church and these open downs on which the batteries were erected, it must have lain completely exposed to the fire of the besiegers. Some obscurity exists in the narratives of the different historians of this period, as to which church is spoken of. Bishop Leslie mentions their having “shot many great schottis of cannonis and gret ordinances at the parrishe kirk of Leyth and Sanct Anthoneis steple.” St Mary’s Church was not converted into the parish church, until the destruction, at a later period, of that of Restalrig, to which Leith was parochially joined ; yet its position, agreeing so well with the accounts of the siege, leaves no doubt that it is intended by this designation. As all the historians, however, uuite in speaking of St Anthony’s steeple as that whereon the French garrison had erected their ordnance, there seems no reason to question that it was The united forces continued to press the siege at Leith. Maitland, p. 19. Diurnal of Oocurrenta, p. 57. a Ibid, p. 58. ‘ Bishop Lealie, p. 285.
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YAMES V. TO ABDICATION OF QUEEN MARY. 67 the tower of the preceptoy, and not that of the present parish church, as the talented editor of Keith’s History suggests.’ No vestige, indeed, of St Anthony’s steeple has existed for centuries, and it is probable that it was totally destroyed at this period. The tower of St Mary’s, which was takendown in 1836, was evidently an erection of a much later date, and too small to have admitted of a battery being mounted upon it. On the 22d of April, Monluc, bishop of Valence, arrived as a commissioner from the Court of France, and attempted to mediate between the Regent aiid the Lords of the Congregation. He entered into communication with the reformers and their allies, and spent two days in the English camp ; he thereafter passed to the Queen lkgent in Edinburgh Castle, but. all attempts at reconciliation proved ineffectual, as the asRailants would accept of no other terms than the demolition of the fortifications of Leith, and the dismissal of all the French troops from Scotland. Meanwhile, the Queen Regent lay in the Castle of Edinburgh, sufferilig alike from failing health and anxiety of mind. Her life was now drawing to a close, and she repeatedly sought to bring about a reconciliation between the contending parties, that she might, if possible, resign the sceptre to her daughter free from the terrible rivalry and contentions which had embittered the whole period of her Regency ; but all attempts at compromise proved in vain, and her French advisers prevented her closing with the sole proposal on which the leaders of the Congregation at length agreed to acknowledge her authoritynamely, that all foreign troops should immediately quit the realm. When the Queen Regent found her end approaching, she requested an interview with the Lords of the Congregation. The Duke of Chatelherault, the Earls of Argyle, Marischal, and Glencairn, with the Lord James, immediately repaired to the Castle, where they were received by the dying Queen with such humility and unfeigned kindness as deeply moved them. She extended her hand to each of them, beseeching their forgiveness with tears, whereinsoever she had offended them. She expressed deep grief that matters should ever have come to such extremities, ascribing it to the influence of foreign counsels, which had compelled her to act contrary to her own inclinations. At the request of the barons, she received a visit from John Willock, with whom she conversed for a considerable time. He besought her to seek mercy alone through the death of Christ, urging her at the same time to acknowledge the mass as a relic of idolatry. She assured him that she looked for salvation in no other way than through the death of her Saviour; and without replying to his further exhortation, she bade him farewell.’ The Queen Regent died on the following day, the 10th of June 1560. The preachers refused to permit her to be buried according to the rites of the Catholic Church. Her body was accordingly placed in a lead coffin, and kept in the Castle till the 9th of October, when it was transported to France, and buried in the Benedictine monastery at Rheims, of which her own sister was then Abbess. Both parties were now equally iuclined to a peace ; and accordingly, within a very short time after the death of the Regent, Cecil, the able minister of Queen Elizabeth, repaired to Edinburgh, accompanied by Sir Nicholas Wotton. Here they were met by the Bishops of The scene was so affecting that all present were moved to tears. Keith, 1844, Spottiswood Soc., voL i p. 271. Wodrow MieL voL i. p. 84. * Calderwood, voL i. p. 589. Keith, voL i. p. 280.
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