The convenience afforded for the sport of falconry, which was so great a favorite during the feudal ages, was probably one cause of an attachment of the ancient Scottish monarchs to Linlithgow and its fine lake. The sport of hunting was also followed with success in the neighborhood, from which circumstance it probably arises that the ancient arms of the city represent a black grey-hound bitch tied to a tree.
A Celt, according to Chalmers, might plausibly derive the name of Linlithgow from Lin-liah-cu, the Lake of the Greyhound. Chalmers himself seems to prefer the Gothic derivation of Linlyth-gow, or the Lake of the Great Vale. The *From “Provincial Antiquities of Scotland.”
Castle of Linlithgow is only mentioned as being a peel (a pile, that is, an embattled tower surrounded by an outwork). In 1300 it was rebuilt or repaired by Edward I., and used as one of the citadels by which he hoped to maintain his usurped dominion in Scotland. It is described by Barbour as “meihle and stark and stuffed weel.” Piers Luband, a Gascoigne knight, was appointed the keeper, and appears to have remained there until the autumn of 1313, when the Scots recovered the Castle.
Bruce, faithful to his usual policy, caused the peel of Linlithgow to be dismantled, and worthily rewarded William Binnock, who had behaved with such gallantry on the occasion. From this bold yeoman the Binnies of West Lothian are proud to trace their descent; and most, if not all of them, bear in their arms something connected with the wagon, which was the instrument of his stratagem.
When times of comparative peace returned, Linlithgow again became the occasional residence of the sovereign. In 1411 the town was burned by accident, and in 1414 was again subjected to the same calamity, together with the Church and Pal-ace of the king, as is expressly mentioned by Bower. The present Church, which is a fine specimen of Gothic architecture, having a steeple surmounted by an imperial crown, was probably erected soon after the calamity.
The Palace arose from its ashes with greater splendor than before; for the family of Stuart, unhappy in some respects, were all of them fortunate in their taste for the fine arts, and particularly for that of architecture. The Lordship of Linlithgow was settled as a dowry upon Mary of Gueldres in 1449, and again upon Margaret of Denmark in 1468.
James IV., a splendid gallant, seems to have founded the most magnificent part of Linlithgow Palace; together with the noble entrance betwixt two flanking towers bearing, on rich entablatures, the royal arms of Scotland, with the collars of the Orders of the Thistle, Garter, and Saint Michael. James IV. also erected in the Church a throne for himself, and twelve stalls for Knights Companions of the Thistle. . . His death and the rout of his army clouded for many a day the glory of Scotland, and marred the mirth of her palaces.
James V. was much attached to Linlithgow, and added to the Palace both the Chapel and Parliament Hall, the last of which is peculiarly striking. So that when he brought his bride, Mary of Guise, there, amid the festivities which accompanied their wedding, she might have had more reason than mere complaisance for highly commending the edifice, and saying that she never saw a more princely palace. It was long her residence, and that of her royal husband, at Linlithgow. Mary was born there in an apartment still shown; and the ill-fated father, dying within a few days of that event, left the ominous diadem which he wore to the still more unfortunate infant.
In the subsequent reign of Queen Mary, Linlithgow was the scene of several remarkable events; the most interesting of which was the assassination of the Regent Murray by Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh. James VI. loved the royal residence of Linlithgow, and completed the original plan of the Palace, closing the great square by a stately range of apartments of great architectural beauty. He also made a magnificent fountain in the Palace yard, now ruinous, as are all the buildings around. Another grotesque Gothic fountain adorns the street of the town. .
When the scepter passed from Scotland, oblivion sat down in the halls of Linlithgow; but her absolute desolation was reserved for the memorable era of 1745-6. About the middle of January in that year, General Hawley marched at the head of a strong army to raise the siege of Stirling, then prest by the Highland insurgents under the adventurous Charles Edward. The English general had exprest considerable contempt of his enemy, who, he affirmed, would not stand a charge of cavalry. On the night of the 17th he returned to Linlithgow, with all the marks of defeat, having burned his tents, and left his artillery and baggage. His disordered troops were quartered in the Palace, and began to make such great fires on the hearth as to endanger the safety of the edifice. A lady of the Livingstone family who had apartments there remonstrated with General Hawley, who treated her fears with contempt. “I can run away from fire as fast as you can, General,” answered the high-spirited dame, and with this sarcasm took horse for Edinburgh. Very soon after her departure her apprehensions were realized; the Palace of Linlithgow caught fire and was burned to the ground. The ruins alone remain to show its former splendor.
The situation of Linlithgow Palace is eminently beautiful. It stands on a promontory of some elevation, which advances almost into the midst of the lake. The form is that of a square court, composed of buildings of four stories high, with towers at the angles. The fronts within the square, and the windows, are highly ornamented, and the size of the rooms, as well as the width and character of the staircase, are upon a magnificent scale. One banquet room is 94 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 33 feet high, with a gallery for music. The king’s wardrobe, or dressing-room, looking to the west, projects over the walls so as to have a delicious prospect on three sides, and is one of the most enviable boudoirs we have ever seen.
There were two main entrances to Linlithgow Palace. That from the south ascends rather steeply from the town, and passes through a striking Gothic archway, flanked by two round towers. The portal has been richly adorned by sculpture, in which can be traced the arms of Scotland with the collars of the Thistle, the Garter, and Saint Michael. This was the work of James V., and is of a most beautiful character.
The other entrance is from the eastward. The gateway is at some height from the foundation of the wall, and there are opposite to it the remains of a perron, or ramp of mason work, which those who desired to enter must have ascended by steps. A drawbridge, which could be raised at pleasure, united, when it was lowered, the ramp with the threshold of the gateway, and when raised left a gap between them, which answered the purpose of a moat. On the inside of the eastern gateway is a figure, much mutilated, said to have been that of Pope Julius II., the same Pontiff who sent to James IV. the beautiful sword which makes part of the Regalia.
“To what base offices we may return!” In the course of the last war, those beautiful remains, so full of ancient remembrances, very narrowly escaped being defaced and dishonored, by an at-tempt to convert them into barracks for French prisoners of war. The late President Blair, as zealous a patriot as he was an excellent lawyer, had the merit of averting this insult upon one of the most striking objects of antiquity which Scot-land yet affords. I am happy to add that of late years the Court of Exchequer have, in this and similar cases, shown much zeal to preserve our national antiquities, and stop the dilapidations which were fast consuming them.
In coming to Linlithgow by the Edinburgh road, the first view of the town, with its beautiful steeple, surmounted with a royal crown, and the ruinous towers of the Palace arising out of a canopy of trees, forms a most impressive object.