Robert Naylor.

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fell dead at the head of the staircase, pierced by fifty-six wounds;
and how one of the assassins threatened to cut the Queen "into collops"
if she dared to speak to the populace through the window. The bloodstain
on the floor was of course shown us, which the mockers assert is duly
"restored" every winter before the visiting season commences.

Leaving the Palace, we saw Queen Mary's Bath, a quaintly shaped little
building built for her by King James IV, in which she was said to have
bathed herself in white wine - an operation said to have been the secret
of her beauty. During some alterations which were made to it in 1798, a
richly inlaid but wasted dagger was found stuck in the sarking of the
roof, supposedly by the murderers of Rizzio on their escape from the


We then visited the now roofless ruins of the Abbey or Chapel Royal
adjoining the Palace. A fine doorway on which some good carving still
remained recalled something of its former beauty and grandeur. There
were quite a number of tombs, and what surprised us most was the large
size of the gravestones, which stood 6 to 7 feet high, and were about 3
feet wide. Those we had been accustomed to in England were much smaller,
but everything in Scotland seemed big, including the people themselves,
and this was no less true of the buildings in Edinburgh. There was a
monument in one corner of the Chapel Royal on which was an inscription
in Latin, of which we read the English translation to be: -


ALEXANDER MILNE, 20 Feb. A.D. 1643

Stay Passenger, here famous Milne doth rest,
Worthy to be in Ægypt's Marble drest;
What Myron or Apelles could have done
In brass or paintry, he could do in stone;
But thretty yeares hee [blameless] lived; old age
He did betray, and in's Prime left this stage.

Restored by Robert Mylne

Architect. MDCCLXXVI.

The builder of the Palace was Robert Milne, the descendant of a family
of distinguished masons. He was the "master mason," and a record of him
in large letters on a pillar ran -

FVN . BE . RO . MILNE . M.M. . I . JYL . 1671.

After leaving Holyrood we walked up Calton Hill, where we had a splendid
view of the fine old city of Edinburgh seated on rocks that are older
than history, and surrounded by hills with the gleaming Firth of Forth
in the distance. The panorama as seen from this point was magnificent,
and one of the finest in Great Britain. On the hill there were good
roads and walks and some monuments. One of these, erected to the memory
of Nelson, was very ugly, and another - beautiful in its
incompleteness - consisted of a number of immense fluted columns in
imitation of the Parthenon of Athens, which we were told was a memorial
to the Scottish heroes who fell in the Wars of Napoleon, but which was
not completed, as sufficient funds had not been forthcoming to finish
what had evidently been intended to be an extensive and costly erection.
We supposed that these lofty pillars remained as a warning to those who
begin to build without first sitting down and counting the cost. They
were beautifully proportioned, resembling a fragment of some great ruin,
and probably had as fine an effect as they stood, as the finished
structure would have had.

[Illustration: "MONS MEG."]

Edinburgh Castle stood out in the distance on an imposing rock. As we
did not arrive during visiting hours we missed many objects of interest,
including the Scottish crown and regalia, which are stored therein. On
the ramparts of the castle we saw an ancient gun named "Mons Meg," whose
history was both long and interesting. It had been made by hand with
long bars of hammered iron held together by coils of iron hoops, and had
a bore of 20 in.; the cannon-balls resting alongside it were made of
wood. It was constructed in 1455 by native artisans at the instance of
James II, and was used in the siege of Dumbarton in 1489 and in the
Civil Wars. In Cromwell's list of captured guns in 1650 it was described
as "the great iron murderer Meg." When fired on the occasion of the
Duke of York's visit to Edinburgh in 1682 the gun burst. After this bad
behaviour "Meg" was sent to the Tower of London, not, however, to be
executed, but to remain there until the year 1829, when, owing to the
intercession of Sir Walter Scott with King George IV, the great gun was
returned to Edinburgh, and was received with great rejoicings and drawn
up with great ceremony to the castle, where it still remains as a relic
of the past.

On our way we had observed a placard announcing a soirée in connection
with the I.O.G.T. (the Independent Order of Good Templars), and this
being somewhat of a novelty to us we decided to patronise it.
Accordingly at 7 p.m. we found ourselves paying the sum of ninepence
each at the entrance to the Calton Rooms. As we filed through along with
others, a cup and saucer and a paper bag containing a variety of cakes
were handed to us, and the positions assigned to us were on either side
of an elderly gentleman whom we afterwards found to be a schoolmaster.

When the tea came round there were no nice young ladies to ask us if we
took sugar and milk, and how many pieces of sugar; to our great
amusement the tea was poured into our cups from large tin kettles
carried by men who from their solemn countenances appeared fitting
representatives of "Caledonia stern and wild." We thought this method a
good one from the labour-saving point of view, and it was certainly one
we had never seen adopted before. The weak point about it was that it
left no opportunity for individual taste in the matter of milk and
sugar, which had already been added, but as we did not hear any
complaints and all appeared satisfied, we concluded that the happy
medium had been reached, and that all had enjoyed themselves as we did

Our friend the schoolmaster was very communicative, and added to our
pleasure considerably by his intelligent conversation, in the course of
which he told us that the I.O.G.T. was a temperance organisation
introduced from America, and he thought it was engaged in a good work.
The members wore a very smart regalia, much finer than would have suited
us under the climatic conditions we had to pass through. After tea they
gave us an entertainment consisting of recitations and songs, the whole
of which were very creditably rendered. But the great event of the
evening was the very able address delivered by the Rev. Professor Kirk,
who explained the objects of the Good Templar movement and the good work
it was doing in Edinburgh and elsewhere. Every one listened attentively,
for the Professor was a good speaker and he was frequently applauded by
his audience.

We had spent a very pleasant evening, and the schoolmaster accompanied
us nearly all the way to our lodgings, which we reached at 11 p.m.

(_Distance walked up to 2 p.m. twenty-four miles_.)

_Sunday, October 8th._

To judge by what we heard and saw, there were connected with Edinburgh
three great characters who stand out above all others in historic
importance - Mary Queen of Scots, John Knox, and Sir Walter Scott; but we
thought and read more about John Knox this day than either of the
others, possibly because it was Sunday. We attended service in three
different churches, and give the following particulars for the
information of our clerical and other friends who "search the
Scriptures," in the hope that they may find in the reading of the texts
food for thought.


In the morning we went to the High Church. Preacher, the Rev. C. Giffin,
M.A. Text. 2 Corinthians viii. 13 and to the end.

In the afternoon to the Tron Church. Preacher, the Rev. James McGregor,
D.D. Text: Isaiah lvii., the last three verses, and Ephesians ii. and
the first clause of verse 14.

In the evening to the Wesleyan Chapel, Nicolson Square. Preacher, the
Rev. Dr. James, President of the Wesleyan Conference. Text: I
Corinthians ii. 1, 2.

The excellence of the sermons, and the able way in which they had been
prepared and were delivered, gave us the impression that rivalry existed
between the ministers of the different churches as to which of them
could preach the best sermon. They were all fine orations, carefully
thought out and elaborated, especially that by Dr. James.

During the intervals between the services we walked about the city, and
again passed the splendid monument to Sir Walter Scott with the
following remarkable inscription, written by Lord Jeffery, beneath its
foundation stone:

_This Graven Plate, deposited in the base of a votive building on the
fifteenth day of August in the year of Christ 1840, and never likely
to see the light again till all the surrounding structures are
crumbled to dust by the decay of time, or by human or elemental
violence, may then testify to a distant posterity that his countrymen
began on that day to raise an effigy and architectural monument to
the memory of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., whose admirable writings were
then allowed to have given more delight and suggested better
feelings to a large class of readers in every rank of society than
those of any other author, with the exception of Shakespeare alone,
and which were, therefore, thought likely to be remembered long after
this act of gratitude on the part of the first generation of his
admirers should be forgotten. He was born at Edinburgh 15th August
1771: and died at Abbotsford, 21st September 1832._

We also passed that ancient and picturesque mansion in the High Street
known as the "House of John Knox," in which the distinguished reformer
died in 1572. Born in the year 1505, it was he who, in the reign of Mary
Queen of Scots, stirred Scotland to mighty religious impulses, boldly
denouncing Mary as a Papist and a Jezebel. How he escaped being beheaded
or burned or assassinated was, considering the nature of the times in
which he lived, a mystery almost amounting to a miracle.

[Illustration: MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS]

Queen Mary sailed from France and landed at Leith, near Edinburgh, on
August 19th, 1561, where she was welcomed by the Scots as Dowager of
France, Queen of Scotland, and heiress of England, and was "gorgeouslie
and magnificentlie" received, according to Scottish ideas, by the lords
and ladies who came to meet and accompany her to Edinburgh; but,
according to the diary of one of the Queen's ladies, "when they saw them
mounted on such wretched little hackneys so wretchedly caparisoned they
were greatly disappointed, and thought of the gorgeous pomp and superb
palfreys they had been accustomed to in France, and the Queen began to
weep." On their arrival at Edinburgh they retired to rest in the Abbey,
"a fine building and not at all partaking of that country, but here came
under her window a crew of five or six hundred scoundrels from the city,
who gave her a serenade with wretched violins and little rebecks of
which there are enough in that country, and began to sing Psalms so
miserably mis-tuned and mis-timed that nothing could be worse. Alas!
what music, and what a night's rest!" What the lady would have written
if bagpipes had been included in the serenade we could not imagine, but
as these instruments of torture were not named, we concluded they must
have been invented at a later period.

[Illustration: JOHN KNOX'S HOUSE, EDINBURGH. "We also passed the ancient
and picturesque mansion in the High Street ... in which that
distinguished reformer died."]

Mary had been away in France for about thirteen years, and during that
time she had for her companions four young ladies of the same name as
her own and of about the same age, Mary Fleming, Mary Bethune, Mary
Livingstone, and Mary Seaton, all of whom formed part of her retinue on
her return to Scotland, where they were known as the "Queen's Marys."


She was a staunch adherent of the Romish Church, a fact which accounted
for many of her trials and mortifications. Mainly owing to the powerful
preaching of John Knox, many of the people of Scotland, both of high and
low degree, had become fierce opponents of that form of religion, which
they considered idolatrous. The first Sunday after her arrival was St.
Bartholomew's Day, August 24th, and preparations had been made to
celebrate mass in the Chapel Royal, at which the Queen was to be
present. But no sooner was this known, than a mob rushed towards the
edifice, exclaiming: "Shall the idol be again erected in the land?" and
shouting, "The idolatrous priests shall die the death!" On September 2nd
the Queen made her public entry into Edinburgh, and on the same day John
Knox had an audience with Mary, who, hearing of a furious sermon he had
preached against the Mass on the previous Sunday in St. Giles's Church,
thought that a personal interview would mitigate his sternness. The
Queen took him to task for his book entitled _The First Blast of the
Trumpet against the Monstrous Regimen of Women_, and his intolerance
towards every one who differed from him in opinion, and further
requested him to obey the precepts of the Scriptures, a copy of which
she perceived in his possession, and urged him to use more meekness in
his sermons. Knox in reply, it was said, "knocked so hastily upon her
heart," that he made her weep with tears of anguish and indignation, and
she said, "My subjects, it would appear, must obey you, and not me; I
must be subject to them, and not they to me!" Knox left Holyrood that
day convinced that Mary's soul was lost for ever, and that she despised
and mocked all exhortation against the Mass.

When Mary attended her first Parliament, accompanied by her ladies, the
Duke of Chatelherault carrying the Crown, the Earl of Argyll the
Sceptre, and the Earl of Moray the Sword, she appeared so graceful and
beautiful that the people who saw her were quite captivated, and many
exclaimed, "God save that sweet face!"

During this short Parliament Knox preached in St. Giles's Church, and
argued that they ought to demand from the Queen "that which by God's
Word they may justly require, and if she would not agree with them in
God, they were not bound to agree with her in the devil!" and concluded
with some observations respecting the Queen's rumoured marriage with
Don Carlos of Spain, declaring, "Whenever ye consent that an infidel,
and all Papists are infidels, shall be our head to our soverane, ye do
so far as in ye lieth to banisch Christ Jesus from his realme; ye bring
God's vengeance upon this country, a plague upon yourselves, and
perchance ye shall do no small discomfirt to your soverane."

[Illustration: JOHN KNOX.]

Mary heard of this furious attack upon her, which Knox admitted had
offended both Papists and Protestants, and he was again summoned to
Holyrood. As soon as Mary saw Knox she was greatly excited, and
exclaimed: "Never was prince handled as I am." "I have borne with you,"
she said to Knox, "in all your vigorous manner of speaking, both against
myself and my uncles; yea, I have sought your favour by all possible
means - I offered unto you presence and audience whenever it pleased you
to admonish me, and yet I cannot be quit of you. I vow to God I shall be
once avenged."

Knox answered, "True it is, Madam, your Grace and I have been at divers
controversies into the which I never perceived your Grace to be offended
at me; but when it shall please God to deliver you from that bondage of
darkness and error in the which ye have been nourished for the lack of
true doctrine, your majesty will find the liberty of my tongue nothing
offensive. Without the preaching-place, Madam, I am not master of
myself, for I must obey Him who commands me to speak plain, and flatter
no flesh upon the face of the earth."

The Queen asked him again, "What have ye to do with my marriage, or what
are ye in this commonwealth?" "A subject born within the same, Madam,"
was the stern reply; "and albeit I be neither Earl, Lord, nor Baron
within it, yet has God made me, how abject soever I may be in your eyes,
a profitable member within the same."

He was entering into some personal explanations, when the Queen ordered
him to leave the Cabinet, and remain in the ante-chamber till her
pleasure should be intimated. Here Knox found himself in the company of
the Queen's Marys and other ladies, to whom he gave a religious
admonition. "Oh, fair ladies," he said, "how pleasing is this life of
yours if it would ever abide, and then in the end that you pass to
Heaven with all this gay gear! But fie upon the knave Death, that will
come whether we will or not, and when he has laid on his arrest, the
foul worms will be busy with this flesh, be it never so fair and tender;
and the silly soul, I fear, shall be so feeble, that it can neither
carry with it gold, garnishing, targetting, pearl nor precious stones."

Several noblemen had accompanied Knox when he went to see the Queen, but
only Erskine of Dun was admitted to the Cabinet, and Lord Ochiltree
attended Knox in the ante-room while Queen Mary held a consultation with
Lord John Stuart and Erskine lasting nearly an hour, at the end of which
Erskine appeared and accompanied Knox home. Knox must have been in great
danger of losing his life owing to his fearless and determined daring in
rebuking those in high places, and indeed his life was afterwards
repeatedly aimed at; but Providence foiled all attempts to assassinate
him, and in the end he died a peaceful death. On November 9th, 1572, a
fortnight before he died, he preached his farewell sermon, the entire
congregation following his tottering footsteps to his home. When the
time came for him to die he asked for I Corinthians xv., and after that
had been read he remarked: "Is not that a comfortable chapter?" There
was also read to him Isaiah liii. Asked if he could hear, he replied: "I
hear, I thank God, and understand far better." He afterwards said to his
wife, "Read, where I cast my first anchor." Mrs. Knox knew what he
meant, and read to him his favourite seventeenth chapter of St. John's
Gospel. His friend Bannatyne, seeing that he was just about to depart,
and was becoming speechless, drew near to him saying, "Hast thou hope?"
and asked him if he heard to give them a sign that he died in peace.
Knox pointed upwards with two of his fingers, and thus he died without a
struggle. Truly one of the most remarkable men that ever lived in
Scotland, and whose end was peace.


A vast concourse of people attended his funeral, the nobility walking in
front of the procession, headed by Morton, who had been appointed Regent
of Scotland on the very day on which Knox died, and whose panegyric at
the grave was: "Here lieth a man who in his life never feared the face
of man."

St. Giles's was the first parochial church in Edinburgh, and its history
dates from the early part of the twelfth century. John Knox was
appointed its minister at the Reformation. When Edinburgh was created a
bishopric, the Church of St. Giles became the Cathedral of the diocese.
A remarkable incident happened at this church on Sunday, July 23rd,
1639, when King Charles I ordered the English service-book to be used.
It was the custom of the people in those days to bring their own seats
to church, in the shape of folding-stools, and just as Dean Hanney was
about to read the collect for the day, a woman in the congregation named
Jenny Geddes, who must have had a strong objection to this innovation,
astonished the dean by suddenly throwing her stool at his head. What
Jenny's punishment was for this violent offence we did not hear, but her
stool was still preserved together with John Knox's pulpit and other


Although three hundred years save one had elapsed since John Knox
departed this life, his memory was still greatly revered in Edinburgh,
and his spirit still seemed to pervade the whole place and to dwell in
the hearts and minds of the people with whom we came in contact. A good
illustration of this was the story related by an American visitor. He
was being driven round the city, when the coachman pointed out the
residence of John Knox. "And who was John Knox?" he asked. The coachman
seemed quite shocked that he did not know John Knox, and, looking down
on him with an eye of pity, replied, in a tone of great solemnity,
"Deed, mawn, an' d'ye no read y'r Beeble!"

As we walked about the crowded streets of Edinburgh that Sunday evening
we did not see a single drunken person, a fact which we attributed to
the closing of public houses in Scotland on Sundays. We wished that a
similar enactment might be passed in England, for there many people
might habitually be seen much the worse for liquor on Sunday evenings,
to the great annoyance of those returning from their various places of


_Monday, October 9th_

There were some streets in Edinburgh called wynds, and it was in one of
these, the College Wynd, that Sir Walter Scott was born in the year
1771. It seemed a strange coincidence that the great Dr. Samuel Johnson
should have visited the city in the same year, and have been conducted
by Boswell and Principal Robertson to inspect the college along that
same wynd when the future Sir Walter Scott was only about two years old.
We had not yet ventured to explore one of these ancient wynds, as they
appeared to us like private passages between two rows of tall houses. As
we could not see the other end, we looked upon them as traps for the
unwary, but we mustered up our courage and decided to explore one of
them before leaving the town. We therefore rose early and selected one
of an antiquated appearance, but we must confess to a feeling of some
apprehension in entering it, as the houses on each side were of six to
eight storeys high, and so lofty that they appeared almost to touch each
other at the top. To make matters worse for us, there were a number of
poles projecting from the windows high above our track, for use on
washing days, when clothes were hung upon them to dry. We had not gone
very far, when my brother drew my attention to two women whose heads
appeared through opposite windows in the upper storeys, and who were
talking to each other across the wynd. On our approach we heard one of
them call to the other in a mischievous tone of voice, "See! there's twa
mair comin'!" We were rather nervous already, so we beat an ignominious
retreat, not knowing what might be coming on our devoted heads if we
proceeded farther. In the event of hostilities the two ladies were so
high up in the buildings, which were probably let in flats, that we
should never have been able to find them, and, like the stray sheep in
the Pass of St. Ninians, we might never have been found ourselves. We
were probably taken for a pair of sporting young medical students
instead of grave searchers after wisdom and truth. We therefore returned
to our hotel for the early breakfast that was waiting for us, and left
Edinburgh at 8.10 a.m. on our way towards Peebles.

[Illustration: QUEEN MARY'S BATH.]


We journeyed along an upward gradient with a view of Craigmillar Castle
to our left, obtaining on our way a magnificent view of the fine city we
had left behind us, with its castle, and the more lofty elevation known
as Arthur's Seat, from which portions of twelve counties might be seen.
It was a curiously shaped hill with ribs and bones crossing in various
directions, which geologists tell us are undoubted remains of an old
volcano. It certainly was a very active one, if one can judge by the
quantity of debris it threw out. There was an old saying, especially
interesting to ladies, that if you washed your face at sunrise on May
1st, with dew collected off the top of Arthur's Seat, you would be
beautiful for ever. We were either too late or too soon, as it was now
October 9th, and as we had a lot to see on that day, with not overmuch
time to see it in, we left the dew to the ladies, feeling certain,
however, that they would be more likely to find it there in October than
on May Day. When we had walked about five miles, we turned off the main
road to visit the pretty village of Rosslyn, or Roslin, with its three
great attractions: the chapel, the castle, and the dell. We found it
surrounded by woods and watered by a very pretty reach of the River Esk,
and as full of history as almost any place in Scotland.

Online LibraryRobert NaylorFrom John O'Groats to Land's End → online text (page 17 of 66)