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The time that has intervened has not yet obliterated the remembrance of early pleasures; and I recur to the recollections of the past with the gratitude of one who enjoys with relish the beauty of the flowerets which Beneficence has strewed along the path of life.
Among the higher rank of boys, bonfires, and the firing of cannon, squibs and crackers, formed the morning's amusement; and rockets and fire-wheels were exhibited at night; while, among their inferiors in point of wealth, the funds to procure powder were chiefly solicited from the passersby."Eh, mind the banefire!-Mind Johnny Wilkes !" was echoed from
the mouths of a dozen importunate urchins, with cap in hand, on the approach of any person near the hallowed fire; and I have oftentimes been fairly obliged to give a penny, though predetermined not to give any thing, to get rid of the obstinate suitors, who would follow one the length of a street,-Johnny Wilkes at the same time, in grotesque habiliments, stuffed with straw, and with hat in hand, looking down from his station on the wall above the fire, so beseechingly, that, in nine cases out of ten, one felt that it was necessary to keep up the spirit of nationality, which still continues to revenge itself upon the author of the North Briton.*
* John Wilkes, whom his violent opposition to the ministry of the Earl of Bute, and his illiberal attacks upon the country of the premier, in a paper called the "North Briton," have " damn'd to everlasting fame" in Scotland, was, for the libels of which this paper was the vehicle, dismissed from his command of the Buckinghamshire Militia, committed to the Tower, and No. 45 of this obnoxious publication, containing severe remarks upon the King's speech, was ordered by both Houses of Parliament to be burnt by the hands of the common hangman, at the Royal Exchange in London, on the 3d of December 1763. Previous to this, Mr Wilkes being in Paris in August of the same year, was recognized by Captain Forbes, an officer in the French service, from his having seen a likeness of Wilkes in a print by Hogarth, when Captain Forbes, after getting his acknowledgment that he was the person he supposed, challenged him, as the author of the reflections upon his country. Mr Wilkes, however, after a number of evasions, contrived to escape fighting, by putting himself under the protection of the police.
It is curious, at this distance of time, to read the attacks upon the Scottish people which gave rise to the burning in effigy of their author, which has continued to the present day; and I quote two paragraphs from the Scots Magazine of June 1763, to shew that Mr Wilkes at different times entertained very opposite opinions of Scotland and its inhabitants. The first is an extract of a letter to a friend in England, dated in 1758, which runs thus: "I shall certainly do myself the pleasure of spending great part of this summer in Scotland. I love the people for their hospitality and friendship, as much as I admire them for their strong manly sense, erudition, and excellent taste. never was happier than when in Scotland last; and I shall never be so deficient in gratitude, not to have the greatest respect for the people and country."
The second is from the North Briton, No. 50, June 1763: "When we speak of national prejudices, we never confine our ideas to place, or have any further objects in our view than people. Hence, though in the whole circuit of creation, no country, so desperately wild, or inconceivably miserable as Scotland, can be discovered, yet I will suppose, what never was supposed before, that it contains every thing the Mahometan paradise can produce, and that, in the language of Mr Pope,
'Descending gods could find Elysium there.'
For which reason my arguments shall have no relation to the wretched spot itself; the propriety of my prejudice being sufficiently supported in the slightest consideration of the inhabitants.""If any man can shew me a Scot who was not always the most insolent being in office, or the most scandalously cringing of reptiles out of place, I shall readily retract my assertions, and set him down the rara avis in terris, nigroque simillima cygno.'
Black swans, I am happy to remark, are discovered to be quite common, (where indeed one should have naturally looked for them) at Botany Bay, in New Holland, and the thousands of Englishmen who annually visit our romantic country can attest, that, even in the wildest Highland glens, something better can be found for their roast-beef stomachs, than sheep's-heads, haggises, and oat-meal cakes. I do not doubt, notwithstanding, that there may yet exist some Cockneys, who think our country more barbarous than their own; and from the tirades of Wilkes, and the poetry of Churchill, draw their conclusions regarding Scottish worth and genius:
"How can the rogues pretend to sense?
Their pound is only twenty pence."
But let the little fellows fire away with their cannon, and set off trains and pioies as much as they please, while we, gentle reader, take a walk along the streets, and see what is going on among the elder children. All the horses, on this happy day, were decorated with bunches of flowers, or branches of trees; and the poor animals seemed to pace the ground more lightly, and with an air of satisfaction, which lightened their load. Most of the tradesmen also displayed their loyalty by sprigs in their hats. At an early hour in the morning, the equestrian statue of King Charles II. in the Parliament Close, (almost the only statue we then had,) was fancifully decorated with flowers, and the railing which surrounds it interwoven with birks and laurels. The Parliament House likewise partook in the general jollity, and forgot for a season legal wrangling, in the arches of evergreens, and flowery emblems of kingly dignity, and national distinction, which now decorated its ample hall. The guns of the Castle were fired at twelve, and at the same hour, there was a parade of all the troops in the vicinity, and the volunteers, when they were embodied, who, after firing a feu-de-joie, were marched through the principal streets. The Battery at Newhaven, and the War-ships in the Roads, fired a salute at one o'clock, and all the ships in the harbour were decorated with colours. Little or no work was done among the tradesmen ; for in Scotland, shows are so rare, that a very slender apology for keeping a holiday is necessary. The Town-Guard also, (a small body of veterans, which does not now exist,) in their new uniforms, were placed at the door of the Parliament-House, the decorations of which, and the display of the tables and refection, were opened to the view of all who desired it, during the forenoon.
The Blue-gowns, a set of privileged beggars, of whom Edie Ochiltree is the type, assembled on this day at the Canongate Church, for the pur pose of receiving from his Majesty's almoner their annual gratuity in money, and a new gown. A sermon was also delivered on the occasion, and a dinner was provided.
The Parliament-House was the place to which the magistrates invited the most respectable citizens, the nobility and gentry, and the officers of the
army and navy, to celebrate the day by drinking his Majesty's health. The area of the fine hall called the Outer House, was laid out with tables, on which were displayed a profusion of sweetmeats, decorated, at intervals, with exotic plants in pots, from the Botanic Garden. The Lord Provost presided, a band of music attended, and the worthy town-rots (soldiers of the City-Guard) attended outside the door, and at every toast fired a volley, which was re-echoed by the huzzas of the crowd in the Square. This manner of celebrating the King's Birth-day, by pouring out libations to his health, was discontinued during the lamented illness of his late Majesty, and has not since been revived. Though I like to see old customs kept up, yet this one in particular, from the almost indiscriminate admission of all classes to the entertainment, and other circumstances, I feel no regret in consigning to desuetude:
"For to my mind, though I am native And to the manner born,-it is a custom here, More honour'd in the breach than the ob
The Parliament Square, at this time, congregated the chief part of the idle apprentices and boys, who amused themselves without in vulgar merriment, while their superiors were amusing themselves with wine and sweeties within the house. In the Square, at this period, stood a box, which covered the opening of a water-pipe, to be used in cases of fire; and, on the top of this box, it was the strange pleasure of the crowd in those days to burgher every decently-dressed person of whom they could lay hold. This burghering, or admitting to the freedom of the Square, consisted in placing the individual on his bottom on the top of the box, which rose like the ridge of a house, and then lifting him up by the arms and legs, and bringing him down three times, with more or less severity, as the caprice of the exhibitors, or the un willingness of the party suggested. In general, it went off with good humour; but in some cases, where the person resisted the rude attack, and was carried to the machine by force, serious accidents happened, and the boxes of this description throughout the city were very properly removed.
The company in the Parliament House met at six; generally separated
by eight o'clock; and their departure was the signal for the mob which occupied the Parliament Square to move to the High Street, where, and on the Bridges, they continued to throw squibs, and crackers, fire off pistols, &c. till eleven or twelve o'clock.
One of the chief amusements of the vulgar assemblage, at this time, was the throwing of dead cats, fish heads, and every sort of garbage that could be procured, at one another, or among the crowd. Every well-dressed person was sure to have some of those dirty zoological specimens levelled at him as he passed through the multitude; and I myself, when serving the office of high constable, well recollect, after having been greeted with a slimy cod's head, and turning round to see who had destroyed my hat and coat by its administration, felt my neck embraced by the claws of a half-dead grey cat, which was following its friend the cod's head in its aërial excursion. Every projecting stair and close-head was filled by females of the lower ranks, who posted themselves in these situations to see the fun and to those receptacles of feminine delicacy were the squibs oftenest directed, for the purpose of producing a rush and a squall, or singeing a few mutches, not to mention more serious accidents which sometimes occurred. The ringing of all the bells in all the steeples increased the noisy demonstrations of loyalty in the streets almost to stunning, while the consta bles of those days (constables were then gentlemen) walked among the crowd to preserve the peace from being broken by any very flagrant disturbance, till the hour of ten or eleven called the crowd to their beds, and the said constables to a supper, partly furnished from the city funds.
! I do not know how it has happened, but till the French Revolution, and the appearance of the friends of the people in Edinburgh, this noisy celebration of regal birth generally went off in good humour, without farther harm to the liegès than a dirty coat or
singed whiskers. But the seeds sown by the worthies who thus styled themselves, have since rendered the King's Birth-day, and every other assemblage of the idle, a scene of turbulence and mischief. If the Town Guard were then a little roughly handled, it was all in vulgar humour and rude merriment; and though these singularly useful animals were pelted with mud and garbage, it never changed the imperturbable expression of their weather-beaten countenances. A goodnatured threat, or a friendly admonition, was all their revenge. The seizure of a Lochaber axe would scarcely have produced more than a tam her shoul." Then Jamie Laing, worth a whole host of modern policemen, held the few vagabonds we possessed in awe; and the Council Chamber, as then conducted, preserved the unmanageably-disposed from becoming more unmanageable.-Now the contrast is most striking. One cannot walk at night without his pockethandkerchief pinned to his pocket, and his watch hung in chains round his neck; and should things go on much farther at this rate, one will require to go hand-cuffed to preserve their coat, and have their shoes padlocked to their legs to ensure them against being run away with.
The use of gunpowder in crackers has now given way to the contrivances of modern chemistry. I almost leaped over a table lately, at the detonation occasioned by pulling a fold of paper, including fulminating powder, from the hand of my youngest boy, and broke a china jug in alarm at a cracker or bomb, which went off on being thrown forcibly on the ground. I do hope that the discoveries of science may stop before going much farther; as in a short time, in place of a dinner of three courses, and a comfortable crack over a bottle of wine for an afternoon, we may soon be taught to supply the stomach with beef gas in a second, and get hearty over a single inspiration of concentrated claret.
The ancient mode of celebrating a sovereign's birth-day in Edinburgh, seems to have differed but little from that of modern times." Edinburgh, May 29, 1665, being his Majesty's birth-day and restauration-day, was most solemnly kept by people of all ranks in this city. My Lord Commissioner, in his state, accompanied with his life guard on horseback, and Sir Andrew Ramsay, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Bailies and Council in their robes, accompanied with all the trained-bands and arms, went to church and heard the Bishop of Edinburgh upon a text as fit, as well applied for the work of the day. Thereafter, thirty-five aged men, in blew gowns, each having got thirty-five VOL. X, 2 Q
Christopher Columbus mistaken for a Highwayman."
"I am a rogue if I were not at half-sword with a dozen of them two hours together. I have escaped by miracle. I am eight times thrust through the doublet, four through the hose, my buckler cut through and through, my sword hacked like a hand-saw, ecce signum. I never dealt better since I was a man. All would not do.—A plague on all cowards!" SHAKESPEARE, Henry IV.
THE late Sir Joseph Banks, according to a book of poems set forth by a person named Peter Pindar, was once seized in a ditch where he was herborizing, on suspicion of his being a mur derer, concealing himself from the fangs of justice. That Sir Joseph was not singular in the accident which befel him, and that the best of men are subject to be misrepresented in their persons and callings, the following relation of what happened to myself will afford a melancholy proof.
Angling at some distance from the city one fine day, the hours of which flew so swiftly by, that I really thought honest old Time had been more than usually quick in his paces, I was caught at dusk, hungry and tired, by the side of the Water of Leith, a good distance beyond the village of Colinton. Unscrewing my rod, I left the trouts to their own meditations, and hastened to my friend Mr Alexander Southdown's, at Woodhall; where a good fire, and good cheer, assisted the passing of an hour or two more, ere I thought of returning home. At last the hour of nine struck in Mr Alexander's eight-day clock, and I started up. Good Alexander, indeed, would have had me to stay all night; but as I had an engagement for next morning, which could not be conveniently put off, I resolved to adventure forth, in spite of the dangers of robbery, and the terror of apparitions. The night was
pitchy dark when I sallied forth, and the removal of the candle at parting tended to make it appear to me still more so. The geography of the farmyard being but partially sketched in my remembrance, I had not gone beyond a few yards, before I got above mid-leg in a cundy which divided the middent from the cow-houses or byres. An angler does not mind wet feet; and at one bound I cleared the receptacle of fluid manure, and made a lodgment upon the shelving edge of the hillock of stable-cleanings.
Pursuing my course round the base of the fermenting knoll for an outlet, my progress was stopt by what my shins told me were the trams of a cart or carts, and I was forced to return, groping my way with the fishing-rod extended before me. Arriving again at the margin of the cundy, and feeling no particular desire to have my legs wet over again, I coursed along its side, and finding nothing to interrupt my progress, I went fearlessly on for a few steps, till I heard, or fancied I heard, the plashing of water under my feet. In a second more, O reader, I was up to the knees in that necessary recepta cle of water, called a duke-dub. This was bad enough, but I consoled myself with the reflection that it might have been much worse a mill-pond; and as I was not quite certain of my being amphibious, I retreated as fast as pos sible in the opposite direction.
shillings in a purse, came up from the Abbey to the e great church, praying all along for his Majesty. Sermon being ended, his Grace entertained all the nobles and gentlemen with a magnificent feast, and open table. After dinner, the Lord Provost and Council went to the Cross of Edinburgh, where was planted a green arbour, loadned with oranges and lemons, wine liberally running for divers hours at eight several conduits, to the great solace of the indigent commons there. Having drank all the royal healths, which were seconded by the great guns from the Castle, sound of trumpets and drums, vollies from the trained bands, and joyful acclammations from the people, they plentifully entertained the multitude. After which, my Lord Commissioner, Provost and Bailies, went up to the Castle, where they were entertained with all sorts of wine and sweetmeats; and returning, the Lord Provost countenancing all the neighbours of the city that had put up bonfires, by appearing at their fires, being in great numbers; which jovialness continued with ringing of bells, and shooting of great guns, till twelve o'clock at night."-ArNOT's History of Edinburgh, as quoted from Intelligencer of June, 1665. * Consult Dr Jamieson's Dictionary. + Ditto. + Ditto.
I had now every wish to call out for assistance; and but for affording a joke at my expence to Mr Southdown and his servants, I should certainly have done so. Resolved to persevere, how ever, I again, after stamping the water out of my shoes as well as I could, proceeded to feel my way as before, till I came to what seemed a little railing or paling; from the inside of which proceeded something like the tones of a human voice. Thinking this to be one of the cottar-houses which surrounded the farm steading, and that the paling enclosed a little flower-plot before the door, I ventured to knock with my rod for admittance bending forward my body over the railing, to catch the first sound or sight of the inmates. But I had not stood half a minute in this si tuation, ere I felt a blow on my body from behind, which pitched me fairly over the enclosure, and laid me unce remoniously on a bed of dirty straw, occupied by half a dozen pigs. Reader, I was tumbled by an invisible power into Mr Southdown's hog-stye.
The gentle animals, whether disturbed in their sweet slumbers, or interrupted in their dreams by apparitions of the butcher's knife and scalding tub, by my unexpected intrusion, set up a cry in chorus, which, I must do them the justice to say, seemed " more in sorrow than in anger. The noise soon brought some of my own species to my assistance, and I had not recovered my feet after my unlooked for somerset, ere I heard a voice bawl out, "De'il's in't, if that's no somebody stealing the pigs. Kirsty, bring a light and cry for Tam. They'll no get them sae easy as they got my dukes-A candle im mediately appeared in the hand of a middle-aged country damsel, who started out from a door on my right; and Geordy Mowdiewart the ploughman, who was the person who spoke, seized a grape, (dung-fork,) and came up to my entrenchment, calling out as loud as he could bellow," Tam! Mr Southdown! here's a thief stealing the pigs !"
All this was transacted so quickly, that I had scarcely time to recover my legs, and none assuredly to make any explanation; and Geordy, raising his dung-fork to give a blow, came down with it in the direction in which I was, crying, Tak that, ye scoundrel, for a mark." Self-preservation is the first law of nature, and nobody would willingly be killed at night by a clown
with a dung-fork. With a presence of mind for which our family has been long famous, or with an instinct which leads man to value his own life more than that of a quadruped, I snatched up one of my little fellow companions in both hands, and held him in the direction of the blow, which fell of course on his unoffending head. A squeak and a groan testified, as plainly as an unlearned pig could testify, that he bade adieu for ever to all sublunary objects. Geordy fortunately did not repeat the blow; for Kirsty had followed him at a distance with the can dle, and with that humanity which characterizes, and which, I trust, will ever characterize the fair sex in our unrivalled country, cried out when she saw the uplifted weapon ready for a second stroke, "Lordsake, Geordy, man, dinna strike; it's maybe for want that the poor man's stealin' it's maybe out o' perfect needcessity."
Tam now made his appearance bareheaded, and without his stockings; Mr Southdown himself hastened to the spot; half-a-dozen lights peeped from the doors of the different cottages; and a yelping of dogs shewed that it was no light matter to attempt the theft of a pig from the farm-yard at Woodhall. I was recognized by my creel and fishing-rod; Geordy stood gaping, at the blood on my face and hands, unwitting if he had committed the crime of murder or manslaughter; but a smile which he detected on my countenance, amidst the soil of the stye which disfigured my physiognomy, and the dead pig, which I still held in my hand, soon let him understand that banishment or hanging would not follow his present adventure. I was forthwith taken to the house to explain the mystery of my situation, and the poor pig, whose recovery seemed hopeless, was ordered to have its throat cut," that the blood mightna spoil the flesh."
In spite of the premature death of the pig, my kind host could not help laughing at my stupid blundering, nor could I myself finish my narrative with any thing like decent composure. The only circumstance which I could not account for, was my being so suddenly whisked over the paling of the stye by an incontrollable force, which luckily, however, was applied to a part of the body where the bones were well protected, and I only felt the sensation of a slight contusion. It seemed in