Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 25 CLXXX. THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF ADDRESSIXG THE EDINBURGH SPEARMEN. THIS scene, with Duddingston Househis lordship's residencein the distance, refers to what has been already related in our notice of Mr. Bennet, Lieut.- Colonel Commandant of the battalion of Spearmen. The appointment of the Earl to the Command in Scotland gave a new impulse to the warlike spirit of the volunteers. The following graphic sketch of that stirring era occurs in '' Lockhart's Life of Scott :I' " Edinburgh Was converted into B camp : independently of a large garrison of regular troops, nearly ten thousand Fencibles and Volunteen were almost constantly under arms. The lawyer wore his uniform under his gown; the shopkeeper measured out his wares in scarlet; in short, the citizens of all classes made more use for several months of the military than of any other dress ; and the new Commander-in-Chief consulted equally his own gratification and theirs by devising a succession of manceumes, which presented a vivid image of the art of war, conducted on a large and scientific scale. In the sham battles and sham sieges of 1805, Craigmillar, Preston, Gilmerton, the Crosscauseway, and other formidable positions in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, were the scenes of many a dashing assault and resolute defence; and, occasionally, the spirits of the mock-combatants- English and Scotch, or Lowland and Highland-became so much excited that there was some difficulty in preventing the rough mockery of warfare from passing into its realities. The Highlanders, in particular, were very hard to be dealt with; and once, at least, Lord Moira was forced to alter, at the eleventh hour, his programme of battle, because a battalion of kilted Fencibles could not, or would not, understand that it was their duty to be beat." At one of the King's birth-day assemblages, which were then numerously attended in the Parliament House, on the health of the Commander-in-Chief being given, Lord Moira addressed the meeting, congratulating them on the spirit and unanimity which pervaded the country, and concluded by proposing the following toast :-" May that man never enjoy the land 0' cakes, who is not willing to shed his blood in defence of it." During his stay at Edinburgh, his lordship was highly popular ; and much gaitp prevailed. The following notice of one of the entertainments we find in a journal of the day :- " On Friday evening (June 14, 1805) the Countess of Loudon and Afoiral gave a grand fite at Duddingston House, to above three hundred of the nobility and gentry in and about the cityamong whom were, the Duke of Buccleuch, Earl of Errol, Earl of Dalhousie, Earl of Roden, Lord Elcho, Count Piper, Sir John Stuart, Sir William Forbes, Sir Alexander Pumes, Sir James Hall, Countess of Errol, Countess Dowager of Dalhousie, Lady Charlotte Campbell, Lady Elizabeth Rawdon, Lady Helen Hall, Lady Stuart, Lady Fettes, Admiral Vashon, and a great number of the naval and military gentlemen, most of the judges, etc. The saloon was elegantly fitted up with festoons of flowers, and embellished with an emblematical naval pillar, on which were the namw of Hme, Duncan, St. Vincent, and Nelson. The dancing commenced at ten o'clock, and was The Counted wm the first, north of the Tweed, to introduce those laconic invitation cards, now common enough. Their concise style-"The Countess of London and Moira at home"- astonished and puzzled several of the good folke of Edinburgh to whom they were forwarded. VOL. 11. E
Volume 9 Page 34
  Enlarge Enlarge  
Volume 9 Page 35
  Enlarge Enlarge