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Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


3’AME.Y TO ABDICATION OF QUEEN MARE: 79 A loud explosion about two o’clock in the morning, while it shook the whole town and startled the inhabitants from their sleep, satisfied the conspirators that their plot had succeeded. An arch still exists in the city wall, behind the Infirmary, described by Arnot as the door-way leading into the Provost’s house, which was built against the wall. Itg position, however, is further to the east than the house is shown to have stood; and Malcolm Laing supposes it to have been a gunrport, connected with a projecting tower, which formerly existed directly opposite Roxburgh Street ; but its appearance and position are much more those of a doorway, and no port-hole resembling it occurs in my other part of the wall. In a drawing of the locality at the time of the murder, preserved in the State Paper Ofiice (a fac-simile of which is engraved in Chalmers’s Life of Queen Mary), the ruins of the Provost’s house seem to extend nearly to the projecting tower, so that the tradition is not without some appearance of probability. The murder of Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, proved fatal to the hapless Queen of Scotland. She took refuge for a time in the Castle of Edinburgh, and only left it, on the urgent remonstrance of her Council, who dreaded injury to her health from her “ close and solitary life.” On Saturday, the 12th of April, the Earl of Bothwell was arraigned in the Tolbooth, on the charge of the murder, but no evidence appeared against him, and he was acquitted. It is not our province in this history to follow out the narrative of his forcible ravishment of the Queen, and the fatal consequences in which she was thereby involved. On the 15th of June 1567, she surrendered to the Earl of Morton, at Carbery Hill, near Musselburgh. It was late in the evening before the captive Queen entered Edinburgh, but she was recognised as she passed along the streets, and assailed with insulting cries from the rude populace. She was lodged in the Black Turnpike, the town house of the Provost, Sir Simon Preston.’ This ancient and most interesting building stood to the west of the Tron Church, occupying part of the ground now left vacant, as the entrance to Hunter Square, and the site of the corner house. Mrtitland describes it as a ‘‘ magnificent edifice, which, were it not partly defaced by a false wooden front, would appear to be the most sumptuous building perhaps in Edinburgh.” The views that exist of it, show it to have been a stately and imposing pile of building, of unusual height and extent, even among the huge “ lands ” in the old High Street. At the time of its demolition, in 1788, it was believed to be the most ancient house in Edinburgh. Here Queen Mary passed the night, in a small apartment, whose window looked to the street; and the first thing that met her eye on looking forth in the morning was a large white banner, ‘‘ stented betwixt two spears,” whereon was painted the murdered Darnley, with the words, “ Judge and revenge my cause, 0 Lord.” The poor Queen exclaimed to the assembled multitude,--“ Good people, either satisfy your cruelty and hatred by taking away my miserable life, or release me from the hands of such inhuman tyrants.” Some of the rude rabble again renewed their insulting cries, but the citizens displayed their ancient standard, the Blue Blanket, and ran to arms for her deliverance ; and hadnot the confederates removed her to Holyrood, on pretence of restoring her to liberty, she might probably have been safe for a time under her burgher guards. See the VIGNETTaEt t he head of this Chapter.
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80 NEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. The confederate lords, as soon as they had got Queen Mary safely lodged in Holyrood House, formed themselves into a council, and at once drew up and signed an order for her imprisonment in Loch Leven Castle. It was in fact only giving effect to their previous resolutions. The same night she was hastily conveyed from the Palace, disguised in mean attire, and compelled to ride a distance of thirty miles to the scene of her captivity. On that night-the 16th of June 1567-she bade a final farewell to the Palace of Holprood, and to Scotland's Crown. Her further history does not come within the province of our Memorials, though her memory still dwells amid these ancient scenes, and the stranger can never tread the ruined aisles of the Old Abbey Church, without some passing thought of the gifted and lovely, but most unfortunate daughter of James V.- Mary Queen of Scots.
Volume 10 Page 87
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