and selling toys; workboxes, brooches, and carved work of different kinds. In the construction of these they exhibited great skill, taste, and judgment. They carved them out of bits of bone and wood. The patterns were most beautiful; and they were ingeniously and tastefully ornamented. The articles were to be had for a mere trifle, although fit to be placed with the most choice objects of artistic skill.

    These poor prisoners of war were allowed to work at their tasteful handicrafts in small sheds or temporary workshops at the Castle, behind the palisades which separated them from their free customers outside. There was just room between the bars of the palisades for them to hand through their exquisite works, and to receive in return the modest prices which they charged. The front of these palisades became a favourite resort for the inhabitants of Edinburgh; and especially for the young folks. I well remember being impressed with the contrast between the almost savage aspect of these dark-haired foreigners, and the neat and delicate produce of their skilful fingers.

    At the peace of 1814, which followed the siege of Paris, great rejoicings and illuminations took place, in the belief that the war was at an end. The French prisoners were sent back to their own country, alas! to appear again before us at Waterloo. The liberation of those confined in Edinburgh Castle was accompanied by an extraordinary scene. The French prisoners marched down to the transport ships at Leith by torchlight. All the town was out to see them. They passed in military procession through the principal streets, singing as they marched along their revolutionary airs, "Ca lra" and "The Marseillaise." The wild enthusiasm of these haggard-looking men, lit up by torchlight and accompanied by the cheers of the dense crowd which lined the streets and filled the windows, made an impression on my mind that I can never forget.

    A year passed. Napoleon returned from Elba, and was rejoined by nearly all his old fighting-men. I well remember, young as I was, an assembly of the inhabitants of Edinburgh in Charlotte Square, to bid farewell to the troops and officers then in garrison . It was a fine summer evening when this sad meeting took place. The bands were playing as their last performance, "Go where glory waits thee!" The air brought tears to many eyes; for many who were in the ranks might never return. After many a hand- shaking, the troops marched to the Castle, previous to their early embarkation for the Low Countries on the following morning.

    Then came Waterloo and the victory! The Castle guns boomed forth again; and the streets were filled with people anxious to hear the news. At last came the Gazette filled with the details of the killed and wounded. Many a heart was broken, many a fireside was made desolate. It was indeed a sad time. The terrible anxiety that pervaded so many families; the dreadful sacrifice of lives on so many battlefields; and the enormously increased taxation, which caused so many families to stint themselves to even the barest necessaries of life; -- such was the inglorious side of war.

    But there was also the glory, which almost compensated for the sorrow. I cannot resist narrating the entry of the Forty-second Regiment into Edinburgh shortly after the battle of Waterloo. The old "Black Watch" is a regiment dear to every Scottish heart. It has fought and struggled when resistance was almost certain death. At Quatre Bras two flank companies were cut to pieces by Pire's cavalry. The rest of the regiment was assailed by Reille's furious cannonade, and suffered severely. The French were beaten back, and the remnant of the Forty-second retired to Waterloo, where they formed part of the brigade under Major-General Pack. At the first grand charge of the French, Picton fell and many were killed. Then the charge of the Greys took place, and the Highland regiments rushed forward, with cries of "Scotland for ever!" Only a remnant of the Forty-second survived. They were however recruited, and marched into France with the rest of the army.

    Towards the end of the year the Forty-Second returned to England, and in the beginning of 1816 they set out on their march towards Edinburgh. They were everywhere welcomed with enthusiasm. Crowds turned out to meet them and cheer them. When the first division of the regiment approached Edinburgh, almost the entire population turned out to welcome them. At Musselburgh, six miles off; the road was thronged with people. When the soldiers reached Piershill, two miles off, the road was so crowded that

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.