Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Firth of Forth

'...This day the newes is come that the fleete of the Dutch, of about 20 ships, which come upon our coasts upon design to have intercepted our colliers, but by good luck failed, is gone to the Frith, —[Frith of Forth. See 5th of this month.]— and there lies, perhaps to trouble the Scotch privateers, which have galled them of late very much, it may be more than all our last year’s fleete...'

Sam Pepys writes in his diary of a Dutch raid on May 3, 1667, that ends up in the Firth of Forth. This firth has seen more than it share of action, including the following from Scott's introduction to "Waverley":

'Invernahyle [Alexander Stewart of Invernahyle]chanced to be in Edinburgh when Paul Jones came
into the Firth of Forth, and though then an old man, I saw him in arms, and heard him exult (to use his own words) in the prospect of drawing his claymore once more before he died.' In fact, on that memorable occasion, when the capital of Scotland was menaced by three trifling sloops or brigs, scarce fit to have sacked a fishing village, he was the only man who seemed to
propose a plan of resistance. He offered to the magistrates, if broadswords and dirks could be obtained,
to find as many Highlanders among the lower classes as would cut off any boat's crew who might be sent into a town full of narrow and winding passages, in which they were like to disperse in quest of plunder. I know not if his plan was attended to, I rather think it seemed too hazardous to the constituted authorities, who might not, even at that time, desire to see arms in
Highland hands. A steady and powerful west wind settled the matter by sweeping Paul Jones and 
his vessels out of the Firth.'

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