high wall that bounded the Greyfriars Churchyard,to the east of the flight of steps which forms the main approach to George Heriot's Hospital.

Michael Naesmyth's House, Grassmarket.The lower building at the right hand corner of the engraving, with the three projecting gable ends

The last work that Michael Naesmyth was engaged in cost him his life. He had contracted with the Government to build a fort at Inversnaid, at the northern end of Loch Lomond. It was intended to guard the Lowlands, and keep Rob Roy and his caterans within the Highland Border. A promise was given by the Government that during the progress of the work a suitable force of soldiers should be quartered close at hand to protect the builder and his workmen.

Inversnaid Fort. After a drawing by Alexander Nasmyth

Notwithstanding many whispered warnings as to the danger of undertaking such a hazardous work, Michael Naesmyth and his men encamped upon the spot, though without the protection of the Government force. Having erected a temporary residence for their accommodation, he proceeded with the building of the fort. The work was well advanced by the end of 1703, although the Government had treated all Naesmyth's appeals for protection with evasion or contempt.

Winter set in with its usual force in those northern regions. One dark and snowy night, when Michael and his men had retired to rest, a loud knocking was heard at the door. "Who's there?" asked Michael. A man outside replied, "A benighted traveller overt aken by the storm" He proceeded to implore help, and begged for God's sake that he might have shelter for the night. Naesmyth, in the full belief that the traveller's tale was true, unbolted and unbarred the door, when in rushed Rob Roy and his desperate gang. The men, with the dirks of the Macgregors at their throats, begged hard for their lives. This was granted on condition that they should instantly depart, and take an oath that they should never venture within the Highland border again.

Michael Naesmyth and his men had no alternative but to submit, and they at once left the bothy with such scanty clothing as the Macgregors would allow them to carry away. They were marched under an armed escort through the snowstorm to the Highland border, and were there left with the murderous threat that, if they ever returned to the fort, they would meet with certain death.

Another attempt was made to build the fort at Inversnaid. But Rob Roy again surprised the small party of soldiers who were in charge. They were disarmed and sent about their business. Finally, the fort was rebuilt, and placed under the command of Captain (afterwards General) Wolfe. When peace fell upon the Highlands and Rob Roy's country became the scene of picnics, the fort was abandoned and allowed to go to ruin.

Poor Michael never recovered from the cold which he caught during his forced retreat from Inversnaid. The effects of this, together with the loss and distress of mind which he experienced from the Government's refusal to pay for his work -- notwithstanding their promise to protect him and his workmen from the Highland freebooters -- so preyed upon his mind that he was never again able to devote himself to business. One evening, whilst sitting at his fireside with his grandchild on his knee, a death-like faintness came over him; he set the child down carefully by the side of his chair, and then fell forward dead on his hearthstone.

Thus ended the life of Michael Naesmyth in 1705, at the age of fifty-three. He was buried by the side of his ancestors in the old family tomb in the Greyfriars Churchyard.

The Naesmyth Tomb in Greyfriars Churchyard

This old tomb, dated 1614, though much defaced, is one of the most remarkable of the many which surround the walls of that ancient and memorable burying-place.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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