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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


Leith.] HOME-COMING OF MONS MEG. 209 by the foot o the Calton Hill towards the Palace of Holyrood. As a souvenir of this event, on the first anniversary of it a massive plate was inserted on the Shore, in the exact spot on which the king first placed his foot, and there it remains to this day, with a suitable inscription commemorative of the event. In 1829, Mons Meg, which, among other ord nance deemed unserviceable, had been transmitted by the ignorance of an officer to London, and retained there in the Tower, was, by the patriotic efforts of Sir Walter Scott, sent home to Scotland. This famous old cannon, deemed a kind of Palladium by the Scots, after an absence of seventy-five years, was landed from the Happy Janet, and after lying for a time in the Naval Yard, till arrangements were made, the gun was conveyed to the Castle by a team of ten horses decked with laurels, preceded by two led horses, mounted by boys clad in tartans with broadswords. The escort was formed by a 123 grooms and esquires; Sir Patrick Walker, as Usher of the White Rod; a long alternation of cavalry and infantry, city dignitaries, and Highlanders, followed. At the end of the vista, preceded by ten royal footmen, two and two, sixteen yeomen of the Scottish Guard, escorted by the Royal Archers, came the king, followed by the head-quarter staff, three clans of Highlanders, two squadrons of Lothian yeomanry, three of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, Scots Greys, and the Grenadiers of the 77th regiment; and after some delay in going through the ceremony of receiving the city keys-which no monarch had touched since the days of Charles I.-the magnificent train moved through the living masses Lochend to the latter on the east, tA-e middle of Leith Walk on the south, and Wardie Bum on the west. Adam White was the first Provost of Leith after the passing of the Burgh Reform Bill in 1833; and it is now governed by a chief magistrate, four bailies, ten councillors, a treasurer, town clerk, and two joint assessors. Powers have since then been conferred upon the Provost of Leith as admiral, and the bailies as admirals-depute. There are in the town four principal corporations - the Shipmasters, the Traffickers, the Malt-men, and the Trades. The Traffickers, or Merchant Company, have lost their charter, and are merely a benefit society, without the power of compelling entries ; and the Ship masters, ordinarily called the Trinity House, vi11 be noticed in connection with that institution. The Trades Corporation is multifarious, and independently of it there is a body called ? The Convenery,? consisting of members delegated from troop of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, and detachments of the Koyal Artillery and Highlanders. In the evening the Celtic Society, all kilted, IOO strong, dined together in honour of the event, Sir Walter Scott in the chair; and on this occasion the old saying was not forgotten, that Scotland would never be Scotland till Mons Meg cam hame.? The gun was then on the same ancient carriage on which it had been taken away. It was not until 1827 that the precise limits of Leith as a town were defined, and a territory given to it which, if filled, would almost enable it to vie with the metropolis in extent, More extensive boundaries were afterwards assigned, and these are the Firth of Forth on the north, a line from SIGNAL TOWER, LEITH PIER, 1775. (ABw Ckrk ofEUin.)
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210 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith each trade, all deacons and treasurers, and constituting, or deemed to be; a separate corporation. But the body, though dating at least from 1594, was voted by several of the trades corporations in 1832 as useless, and since then its existence has been very questionable. Though Leith is not in a strict sense a manufacturing town or the seat of a staple produce, it possesses many productive establishments, as ship building and sail-cloth manufactories. Nong the shore of South Leith are several vast conical chimneys, manufactories of glass, but chiefly in the department of common ale and wine bottles ; this trade is supposed to have been introduced by English settlers during the time of Cromwell. In the centre of the town there was commenced in 1830 a corn-mill propelled by steam, and of gigantic dimensions, as its huge bulk towered against the sky and above the surface of the little undulating sea of roofs around it. Leith possesses warehouses of great extent, which are the seats of extensive tratic with large districts of Scotland, for the transmission thither of wines and foreigti and British spirits ; and there are also other manufacturing establishments besides those named, for the making of cordage, for brewing, distilling, and rectifying spirits, refining sugar, preserving tinned meats, soap and candle manufactones, with several extensive cooperages, ironfoundries, flour mills, tanneries, and saw-mills. But those who see Leith now, even with all its extended docks and piers, can have no conception of the scene presented by the port during the protracted war with France and Spain, when .an admiral?s flagship lay in the Roads, with a guardship and squadron. Daily scores of men-of-war boats, manned by seamen or marines, were amving and departing ; prisoners of war in all manner of uniforms, and often in rags, were being landed or embarked ; press-gangs had their tenders moored by the Shore. Infantry barracks, now granaries, were on the North Quay ; stores, cannon, and provisions encumbered it on every hand ; while almost daily salutes were being fired froin ship and battery in honour of victories by land or sea; recruiting parties beat up, with swords drawn and ribbons streaming ; seamen crowded every tavern, their pockets flush with Spanish dollars, and bank-notes tied round their hats ; men-of-war, privateers, trans ports, filled the Firth, and merchantmen mustered in hundreds to await the convoy ere they put to sea ; there, too, were the gallant old Leith and London smacks, armed with carronadcs, that fought their own way, with the old Scottish flag at their mast-heads, and many a time and oft, with signal valour, beat off French, Spanish, and. Dutch privateers. Such was Leith at the close of the last century and in the early years of the present one, until the battle of Waterloo. In the first years of the last century there were occasional packet-ships between Leith and London. In 1720 the Bon Accord, Captain Buchanan, is advertised to sail to London with passengers on 30th June, and to ? k e q the day, goods or no goods; ? and a similar notice appears in I 7 2 a concerning the ? Unity packet-boat of Leith.? The master to be spoken to in the high Coffee House. (Sf. Jams?s fivening Post.) In 1743 one of these packets, after a twenty days? voyage, arrived only at Holy Island, through stress of weather. Previous to the introduction of the smacks, which were large and beautiful cutters, carrying an enormous spread of fore and aft canvas, the passenger and other trade between Leith and London was carried on by means of clumsy bluff-bowed brigs, ranging from 160 to 200 tons burden, and having such very imperfect cabin accommodation that many persons preferred to make the trip by the ships which camed salmon between Berwick and the Thames. In those days the traders were advertised for twelve or fourteen days before they intended to sail, and interim arrangements were always made with the captain at ? Forrest?s Coffee House,? or on ? The Scots? Walk,? in London, as the case might be, ?wheo civil usage? was promised, and the number of guns carried by the vessel generally stated. The following is an advertisement from the Edihburgh ChronicZe, June nnd, I759 :-- ?? For LONDON, the ship Reward, Old England built, William Marshal, master, now lying at the Birth at Bames Nook, Leith Harbour, taking in goods, and will sail with the first convoy. ?The said master to be spoken with at the ? Caledonia? or ? Forrest?s Coffee House,? Edinburgh, or at his house in the Broad Wynd, Leith. ? N.B.-The ship is an exceeding fast sailer, has good accommodztion for passengers, and good usage may be depended OH.? In 1777 the smack Edinburgh was advertised in the Mercury to sail at a fixed date, that she has ? neat accommodation for passengers,? also that good usage may be relied on. The Success, lying at the New Quay, is also advertised to sail by the canal for Glasgow, weather permitting. The passenger traffic increased to such an extent that in 1791 the Leith and Berwick Shipping Company established their head-quarters in Leith, the
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