« AnteriorContinuar »
storphine Hill, which is clothed to the summit with wood. A little further on he reaches the village of
which is supposed to have derived its name from the circumstance of a golden cross, croix d'or fin, having been presented to the Church by a French nobleman. The church is Gothic, of the form of a Jerusalem cross, and was anciently collegiate. It contains two monuments, one to the memory of the founder, Sir John Forrester, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, and ancestor to Lord Forrester; and the other to one of the same family. Here is also an inscription to the first provost, Nicholas Bannatyne, dated 1470, concluding with a request to the reader “ to pray for the Pope and him.”
Until reaching the fifth mile-stone, the prospect to the right is limited by the hill of Corstorphine. But at this point, an extensive champaign country, highly cultivated, presents itself to view. At the seventh mile-stone the road crosses the river Almond, which divides Mid-Lothian from Linlithgowshire.
Beyond the eighth mile-stone is the village of Kirkliston, where there is a good inn. Near this place Edward 1. encamped before the battle of Falkirk in 1298. Having regaled his army plentifully with wine, a quarrel arose between his English and Welsh troops; the latter, of whom there were not fewer than 15,000, directed their vengeance against the clergy, and slew eighteen English ecclesiastics. The English cavalry made great havoc among the Welsh, who, in disgust, withdrew from the army. Within about half a mile of the village is Newliston, (Roger Hog, Esq.) once the residence of the celebrated Earl of Stair, the first who planted potatoes and turnips in the open field in Scotland. The plantations surrounding the house are said to resemble the position of the troops at the battle of Dettingen, in which his lordship shone conspicuous.
Proceeding onward, the hills of Bathgate, in which mines of lead and silver were at one time wrought, appear at a distance upon the left. Near to the tenth milestone, and on the left, stand the ruins of Niddry Castle, an object of historical interest, formerly belonging to the family of Seton, now to the Earl of Hopetoun. In this castle Queen Mary found refuge the night after her escape from the Castle of Lochleven. On the right is the Castle of Duntarvie.
The road now proceeds through the village of Winchburgh, and crosses the Union Canal. Winchburgh was once noted for the propagation of bees. It is famous as the spot where Edward II. first halted in his flight from the battle of Bannockburn. Two days before he marched through this village, in royal pomp, at the head of a powerful army; now he returned a wretched fugitive, escorted by a few hundred horsemen, all that remained of his mighty host, and hotly pursued by the victorious Scots.
Beyond the sixteenth mile-stone, the traveller again crosses the Union Canal, under an aqueduct bridge, and a little further on he arrives at
the view of which, as he approaches, is very fine. It is the county-town, a royal burgh, and a place venerable for its antiquities, and hallowed by the many mournful recollections connected with them.
Linlithgow is supposed to have been the Lindum of Ptolemy. In the reign of David I. it was declared to be the first burgh in the kingdom. At one time it was undoubtedly a place of great trade, opulence, and splendour. It possessed a monopoly of the trade from the water of Cramond to the mouth of the Avon ; and Blackness was assigned as its port, which was afterwards changed for that of Borrowstowness. But its consequence, as a place of trade, has altogether declined.
The town consists of a long street, with a number of lanes. Many of the houses are of great antiquity ; some of them belonged to the knights of St John of Jerusalem, who had a preceptory at Torphichen in this county. In front of the Town-house, formerly stood the Cross; and at present the principal well, a modern erection, but a fac simile of a very ancient one that formerly occupied the same spot. Its appearance is grotesque, water flows continually from the mouths of several figures, in the circular structure.
The Royal Palace, though now ruinous, has an air of desolate grandeur, which, when contrasted in imagination with the splendour and festivity that formerly reigned within its walls, inspires melancholy feelings. It combines that fine taste and true magnificence which distinguish all the Scottish palaces erected by the house of Stuart. Mary of Lorraine, the queen of James V. used to observe that the King of France had not a palace comparable with that of Linlithgow. It stands upon the margin of a beautiful lake, which, on the east, washes the base of a gently sloping hill, and contains a small island, interesting to the stranger as connected with a singular tradition : It is said, that, in remote times, a black dog was found there chained to a tree, though there were no visible means of conveying it thither ; and from this mysterious circumstance, the burgh assumed a dog chained to a tree as its armorial bearings. On an outer gate, detached from the building, are the four orders of knighthood, borne by James V. viz. the Thistle, Garter, Holy Ghost, and Golden Fleece. The Palace itself is built of polished stone ; the greater part of it is five storeys high, and it covers an acre of ground. Over the inside of the grand gate was a statue of Pope Julius the Second, with the triple crown, who sent a consecrated sword and helmet to James IV. It long survived the storms of the Reformation, but, in the beginning of last century, fell a sacrifice to the pious rage of a blacksmith. Within the Palace is a handsome square, one side of which is more modern than the others, having been built by James VI. and kept in good repair, till it was accidentally burnt by the king's forces in 1746. The pediments over the windows are neatly carved, and have the date 1619 inscribed upon them. In one of the other sides is a room 90 feet long, 30 feet 6 inches wide, and 33 feet high, having at one end a gallery, with three niches, supposed to have been used as an orchestra. A communication is preserved with the different rooms by narrow galleries, which run quite round the old part. In one of these the unfortunate Mary first saw the light. Her father, James V. then dying of a broken heart at Falkland, on account of the disaster at Solway-moss, prophetically exclaimed, “ It came by a lass,” alluding to his family having acquired the crown by marriage, “ and it will go by a lass.” The chapel was built by James V. and occupies one side of the square. The kitchen, which is spacious, is under ground. It is gratifying to observe, that some partial repairs have lately been made upon this fine building, to preserve it from further dilapidation and decay.
In advance of the Palace, and nearly at right angles with it, is the Church, a superb Gothic building, now devoted to the presbyterian worship. Here is shown the aisle where the apparition burst upon the sight of James IV. to warn him against his fatal expedition to Flodden, and which, as Lindsay of Pitscottie relates, as soon as it had delivered its dread message, « vanished like a blink of the sun, or a whip of the whirlwind." It has been supposed that this apparition
was a contrivance of the queen and some of the nobility, in order to dissuade the king from his warlike designs. When the invading army was afterwards encamped upon the Borough-muir, near Edinburgh, numberless midnight apparitions “did squeak and gibber” upon the streets of Edinburgh, threatening woe to the kingdom ; and there was even a spectral procession of heralds, who advanced to the Cross, and summoned the king and a long list of his nobility to their final doom. However faithfully the event corresponded with those fearful portents, they can only be considered in the light of pious frauds, which, unfortunately, failed of success.
It was in Linlithgow that Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, in 1569, shot the Regent Murray, when passing through the town, in revenge for one of the Regent's partisans having seized upon his house, Old Woodhouselee in Mid-Lothian, and thrust his lady out almost naked, to the severity of a snow-storm ; which barbarous treatment bereaved her of reason. Hamilton escaped to France, where a man of high rank, attached to the court, having proposed to him the assassination of the famous Admiral Coligny, he indignantly exclaimed, “What, villian ! do you suppose me an assassin ?" and challenged him
the spot. The last memorable event which occurred in Linlithgow was the burning of the Solemn League and Covenant, May 29, 1661, amidst bonfires and great rejoicings, immediately after the Restoration. The ringleaders in this affair were, Irving of Bonshaw, who afterwards became a noted persecutor, Bailie Mylne, and Ramsay, the minister of the parish, who seems to have been a type of the vicar of Bray. He had sworn to the Covenant, and
others with the unrelenting rigour of a fanatic, but was afterwards made dean of Glasgow, then bishop of Dunblane, and thereafter bishop of Ross.