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15th of September

St Nicomedes, martyr, about 90. St Nicetas, martyr, 4th century. St John the Dwarf, anchoret of Scete. St Aper or Evre, bishop and confessor, 5th century. St Aicard or Achart, abbot and confessor, about 687.

Born. – Jean Sylvain Bailly, distinguished astronomer, 1736, Paris; James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist, 1789, Burlington, New Jersey; John, Lord Campbell, chancellor of England, 1779, Cupar-in-Fife.
Died. – Philip of Austria, father of Charles V., 1506; Lady Arabella Stuart, 1615; Abbé Terrasson, translator of Diodorus Siculus, 1750; General Lazarus Hoche, French commander, 1797, Wetzlar.


Although Lady Arabella Stuart plays no very prominent part amid the public characters of her time, her history presents a series of romantic incidents and disasters, scarcely surpassed even by those of her celebrated relative, Mary Queen of Scots. She was the daughter of Charles Stuart, Earl of Lennox, younger brother of Lord Darnley, and stood thus next in succession to the crown, after her cousin, James VI., through their common ancestor Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII., and grandmother, by her second marriage with the Earl of Angus, to Lord Darnley. Brought up in England, Arabella excited the watchful care and jealousy of Elizabeth, who, on the king of Scotland proposing to marry her to Lord Esmé Stuart, interposed to prevent the match, and afterwards imprisoned her, on hearing of her intention to wed a son of the Earl of Northumberland. Meantime she formed the subject of eager aspirations on the continent, the pope entertaining the idea of uniting her to some Catholic prince, and setting her up as the legitimate heir to the English throne. Among her suitors appear the Duke of Parma, and the Prince of Farnese; but it would seem that the idea which prevailed abroad of her predilections for the old religion was quite unfounded. Shortly after the accession of James I., a clumsy conspiracy, in which Sir Walter Raleigh is said to have been concerned, was formed for raising her to the throne. It proved quite abortive, and does not seem to have been shared in by Arabella herself, who continued to live on amicable terms with the court, and had a yearly pension allowed her by James. At last, about 1609, when she could not have been less than thirty-three years of age, she formed an attachment to William Seymour, son of Lord Beauchamp, and a private marriage took place. On this being discovered, Seymour was committed to the Tower for his presumption in allying himself with a member of the royal family, and his wife was detained a prisoner in the house of Sir Thomas Parry, in Lambeth. The wedded pair, nevertheless, managed to correspond with each other; whereupon, it was resolved to remove Arabella to a distance, and place her under the custody of the bishop of Durham. Her northward journey commenced, but, either feeling or affecting indisposition, she advanced no further than Highgate, where she was allowed to remain under surveillance, in the house of Mr Conyers. A plot to effect her escape was now concocted on the part of herself and Seymour. 

The subsequent mishaps of this ill-starred couple read like a tale of romance. One afternoon she contrived to obtain leave from her female guardian at Highgate to pay a visit to her husband, on the plea of seeing him for the last time. She then disguised herself in man’s clothes, with a doublet, boots, and rapier, and proceeded with a gentleman named Markham to a little inn, where they obtained horses. On arriving there, she looked so pale and exhausted that the ostler who held her stirrup, declared the gentleman would never hold out to London. The ride, however, revived her, and she reached Blackwall in safety, where she found a boat waiting. Mr Seymour, who was to have joined her here, had not yet arrived, and, in opposition to her earnest entreaties, her attendants insisted on pushing off, saying that he would be sure to follow them. They then crossed over towards Woolwich, pulled down from thence to Gravesend, and afterwards, by the promise of double fare, induced the rowers to take them to Lee, which they reached just as the day was breaking. A French vessel was descried lying at anchor for them about a mile beyond, and Arabella, who again wished to abide here her husband’s arrival, was forced on board by the importunity of her followers. In the meantime, Seymour, disguised in a wig and black cloak, had walked out of his lodgings at the west door of the Tower, and followed a cart which was returning after having deposited a load of wood. He proceeded by the Tower wharf to the iron gate, and finding a boat there lying for him, dropped down the river to Lee, with an attendant. Here he found the French ship gone; but, imagining that a vessel which he saw under sail was the craft in question, he hired a fisherman for twenty shillings to convey him thither. the disappointment of the luckless husband may be imagined when he discovered that this was not the ship he was in quest of. He then made for another, which proved to be from Newcastle, and an offer of £40 induced the master to convey Seymour to Calais, from which he proceeded safely into Flanders. The vessel conveying Arabella was overtaken off Calais harbour by a pink despatched by the English authorities on hearing of her flight, and she was conveyed back to London, subjected to an examination, and committed to the Tower. She professed great indifference to her fate, and only expressed anxiety for the safety of her husband. 

To the end of her days Arabella Stuart remained a prisoner. She died in confinement in 1615, and rumours were circulated of her having fallen a victim to poison; but these would seem to have been wholly unwarranted. Such unmerited misfortunes did her near relationship to the crown entail. Her husband afterwards procured his pardon, distinguishing himself by his loyalty to Charles I. during the civil wars, and, surviving the Restoration, was invested by Charles II. with the dukedom of Somerset, the forfeited title of his ancestor, the Protector.


The inventions and discoveries ultimately proving least beneficial to mankind, have generally been received with greater warmth and enthusiasm than those of a more useful character… 

Ignorance, combined with vanity, led Lunardi into some strange assertions. He professed to be able to lower his balloon, at pleasure, by using a kind of oar. When he subsequently ascended at Edinburgh, he affirmed that, at the height of 1100 feet, he saw the city of Glasgow, and also the town of Paisley, which are, at least, forty miles distant, with a hilly country between. The following paragraph from the General Advertiser of September 24, 1784, has a sly reference to these and the like allegation. ‘As several of our correspondents seem to disbelieve that part of Mr Lunardi’s tale, wherein he states that he saw the neck of a quart bottle four miles’ distance, all we can inform them on the subject is, that Mr Lunardi was above lying.’ 

It is generally supposed that Lunardi was the first person who ascended by means of a balloon in Great Britain, but he certainly was not. A very poor man, named James Tytler, who then lived in Edinburgh, supporting himself and family in the humblest style of garret or cottage life by the exercise of his pen, had this honour. He had effected an ascent at Edinburgh on the 27th of August 1784, just nineteen days previous to Lunardi. Tytler’s ascent, however, was almost a failure, by his employing the dangerous and unmanageable Montgolfier principle. After several ineffectual attempts, Tytler, finding that he could not carry up his fire-stove with him, determined, in the maddening desperation of disappointment, to go without this his sole sustaining power. Jumping into his car, which was no other than a common crate used for packing earthenware, he and the balloon ascended from Comely Garden, and immediately afterwards fell in the Restalrig Road. For a wonder, Tytler was uninjured; and though he did not reach a greater altitude than three hundred feet, nor traverse a greater distance than half a mile, yet his name must ever be mentioned as that of the first Briton who ascended with a balloon, and the first man who ascended in Britain. 

Tytler was the son of a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, and had been educated as a surgeon; but being of an eccentric and erratic genius, he adopted literature as a profession, and was the principal editor of the first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Becoming embroiled in politics, he published a handbill of a seditious tendency, and consequently was compelled to seek a refuge in America, where he died in 1805, after conducting a newspaper at Salem, in New England, for several years. 

A prophet acquires little honour in his own country. While poor Tytler was being overwhelmed by the coarse jeers of his compatriots, Lunardi came to Edinburgh in 1785, and was received with the utmost enthusiasm. his first ascent in Scotland was made from the garden of Heriot’s Hospital, and he came down at Ceres, near Cupar, in Fife. The clergyman of the parish, who witnessed his descent, writing to an Edinburgh newspaper, says: ‘As it’ [the balloon] ‘drew near the earth, and sailed along with a kind of awful grandeur and majesty, the sight gave much pleasure to such as knew what it was, but terribly alarmed such as were unacquainted with the nature of this celestial vehicle.’ A writer in the Glasgow Advertiser thus describes the sensation caused by Lunardi’s first ascent from that city: ‘Many were amazingly affected. Some shed tears, and some fainted, while others insisted that he was in compact with the devil, and ought to be looked upon as a man reprobated by the Almighty.’ The hospitality and attention Lunardi received in Scotland seems to have completely turned his weak head. When publicly entertained in Edinburgh, and asked to propose a toast, he gave, ‘Lumardi, the favourite of the ladies!’ to the infinite amusement of the assemblage.

On this Day in Other Sources.

Ferdinand [IV.], King of Castile, this year [1310], 15th of September, found dead in his bed, as would appear of an apoplexy [stroke]

– Historical Works, pp.88-104.

It is pleasant to mark the history of our University by the contemporary progress of the art which seems so essential to learning, that we cannot now easily conceive how education could go on without it. It was apparently by the influence of the founder of King’s College that the first printing-press was established in Scotland;1 and its first sustained effort was in giving to the world his Breviary of Aberdeen. Twelve years later, two of the teachers were at press with works connected with the University – Boece with his Lives of the Bishops of Aberdeen, and John Vaus with his first Essay in Grammar. 

– Sketches, pp.254-324.

1  The Royal privilege granted 15th September 1507, to Chepman and Millar, refers especially to the printing of “legendis of Scottis sanctis as is now gaderit and ekit be ane Reverend fader in God, William, Bishop of Abirdene.” – Reg. of Priv. Seal. The Aberdeen Breviary with its treasure of “legends of Scottis Sanctis” was printed by Chepman in 1509-10.

From Stirling, after all those accidents, the Queen journeyed to Leslie castle, the Earl of Rothes’s seat, in Fifeshire, on the 15th [September, 1561], where she passed the night, and then proceeded, on the 16th, to Perth. Randolph said to Cecil, it was reported, whether with truth or malice, that the Earl lost both plate, and something else, that was easy to be conveyed; yet, he does not say, whatever he may insinuate, whether it were the servants, reformed, or unreformed, who pilfered his lordship’s plate. 

– Life of Mary, pp.42-61.

Those exploits performed, the Queen, and suite, turned, from the north, towards the south, on her return, upon the 15th of September [1562]: She slept this night, at Kilravock; and on the morrow, she went to Tarneway: But, Murray having taken possession of it, did not here detain her long, having other objects, in his immediate view. 

– Life of Mary, pp.62-77.

This year, 1583, Queen Elizabeth sent her principal secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham, ambassador to King James [VI.], who was then at St. Andrews; he came to Edinburgh, the 15 of September, to Perth, where he had audience of the king, and remained some 8 days there, and then took his leave of his Majesty to return home for England. That which came to light of this embassy, was [about] these articles proposed by the English Queen and counsel, to be ratified before Queen Mary could be set at liberty; but after Walsingham had privily expostulated the business with the King, these propositions did quite vanish, and her [release] turned to smoke. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

In the inner part of Riddell’s Close stands the house of Bailie John Macmorran, whose tragic death made a great stir at its time, threw the city into painful excitement, and tarnished the reputation of the famous old High School. The conduct of the scholars there had been bad and turbulent for some years, but it reached a climax on the 15th of September, 1595. On a week’s holiday being refused, the boys were so exasperated, being chiefly “gentilmane’s bairnes,” that they formed a compact for vengeance in the true spirit of the age; and, armed with swords and pistols, took possession at midnight of the ancient school in the Blackfriars Gardens, and declining to admit the masters or any one else, made preparation to stand a siege, setting all authority at defiance. 

The doors were not only shut but barricaded and strongly guarded within; all attempts to storm the boy-garrison proved impracticable, and all efforts at reconciliation were unavailing. The Town Council lost patience, and sent Bailie John Macmorran, one of the wealthiest merchants in the city (though he had begun life as a servant to the regent Morton), with a posse of city officers, to enforce the peace. On their appearance in the school-yard the boys became simply outrageous, and mocked them as “buttery carles,” daring any one to approach at his peril. “To the point likely to be first attacked,” says Steven, in his history of the school, “they were observed to throng in a highly excited state, and each seemed to vie with his fellow in threatening instant death to the man who should forcibly attempt to displace them. 

William Sinclair, son of the Chancellor of Caithness, had taken a conspicuous share in this barring out, and he now appeared foremost, encouraging his confederates,” and stood at a window overlooking one of the entrances which the Bailie ordered the officers to force, by using a long beam as a battering ram, and he had nearly accomplished his perilous purpose, when a ball in the forehead from Sinclair’s pistol slew him on the spot, and he fell on his back. 

Panic-stricken, the boys surrendered. Some effected their escape, and others, including Sinclair and the sons of Murray of Springiedale, and Pringle of Whitebank, were thrown into prison. Macmorran’s family were too rich to be bribed, and clamoured that they would have blood for blood. On the other hand, “friends threatened death to all the people of Edinburgh if they did the child any harm, saying they were not wise who meddled with scholars, especially gentlemen’s sons,” and Lord Sinclair, as chief of the family to which the young culprit belonged, moved boldly in his behalf, and procured the intercession of King James with the magistrates, and in the end all the accused got free, including the slayer of the Bailie, who lived to become Sir William Sinclair of Mey, in 1631, and the husband of Catharine Ross, of Balnagowan, and from them the present Earls of Caithness are descended. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.102-111.

The signal was given; on the forenoon of Sunday the 15th of September [1745] the clang of the alarm bells came during sermon, and the people rushed forth from the churches to find the detailed force drawn up under arms in the High Street; but the summons (said Sir Walter Scott, in the Quarterly Review,) instead of rousing the hearts of the volunteers, like the sound of a trumpet, rather reminded them of a passing knell. Most pitiful was the bearing of the volunteers, according to Dr. Carlyle of Inveresk, who was one of them on this occasion. “The ladies in the windows treated us very variously; many with lamentation, and even with tears, and some with scorn and derision. In one house on the south side of the street there was a row of windows full of ladies, who appeared to enjoy our march to danger with much mirth and levity.” He adds that these civic warriors were about to fire on these ladies; but they pulled their windows down. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.322-329.


   … An election is impending. Are the national party to be quiescent under the wrongs of our country? Is nothing to be done to return members to Parliament who represent the popular will? Is the country to be parcelled out between Whigs and Tories? and is Scotland to be governed by a faction, her interests to be bartered for the aggrandisement of a few, and her Government to continue to be a proverb for bungling and jobbery, merely because we are at war with Russia?  

   To this we think there can be but one answer. There can be no doubt that we are exposed to the degradation and demoralisation of the system of billeting. There can be no doubt that our Government is a contemptible nominality in the hands of a lawyer of hardly third-rate abilities. There can be no doubt that we have not a vestige of local administration – that the powers of the Convention of Burghs are suspended. There can be no doubt that Government has abolished office after office in order to centralise everything in London, in flagrant violation of the Treaty of Union. And these facts are as patent to the world after as they were before we began the war with Russia.  

   We were conversing only a few days ago with one who has been distinguished as an asserter of Scottish Nationality; and we asked him why he had not taken any part in the agitation upon Scottish Rights? His answer was – ‘He thought it so hopeless. Why,’ he said, and said truly, ‘take the Bar. I have seen it in its glory, and now I see it in its decline. The prizes have been gradually taken away; and the consequence is, that we now have a Bar with barely second-rate abilities. What can we do against the centralised power of England.’  

   To this we have an easy answer. Take up the history of Scotland at any period. It has been the struggle of a minority against an overwhelming majority; and it was only when the minority were divided by internal dissentions that this minority were overcome. There is little doubt that if Scotland were united as a nation, this system of misgovernment would not long continue. Thirty years have only elapsed when we saw her resisting an aggression unparalleled in its audacity upon our banking system. We saw her under the skilful guidance of the last of the Scottish tribunes defying the whole resources of England, as developed through the machinery of a powerful Tory Administration. Not the prestige of the name of Dundas could then have corrupted the kingdom. She stood entrenched in that dogged obstinacy which carried the heights of Alma contrary to all military science, and which retrieved the fight of Inkermann in spite of the blunders of Generals. The Government gave way. The people of England were silent; and it was well they were so. We say, then, to the people of Scotland that the time has arrived when you should determine one of two courses, as opportunity will be soon open to you of showing whether you will do nothing to demand a redress of grievances by returning men to Parliament who will oppose any Government that refuses that attention to Scottish affairs which, as a free and independent nation, Scotland is entitled to. The other course open to the people of Scotland is to sink their nationality, ignore their national existence, and continue to be ruled by English factions.  

   Whatever course the people of Scotland may determine on, the present state of things cannot continue. The present movement has many difficulties to contend with, has powerful interests to oppose, but no movement has gathered together so many resources within so short a time. Indeed it has been tempered by the very largeness of these resources. Carrying with it the most intelligent and popular of our aristocracy of all parties. Representing the feelings and the opinions of the great bulk of the middle order. Identified with a principle which in former times guided the councils and ennobled the character of our country, it cannot but succeed. To doubt it – to suppose that Scotland is to sink into a mere appanage, and English county, is to give the lie to our history and is foul dishonour to our name. – Glasgow Constitutional.” 

– Caledonian Mercury, Saturday 15th September, 1855.

– Treaty of Union Articles, 1850-1875.

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