The History of Leith

February 13, 2012

The deville chew thee, or burste thee!

In the contemporary life of Queen Mary, printed for the Bannatyne Club in 1834, we have the following strange anecdote of Morton. We are told that he ” had credite at the court, being left there by the traitoures to give intelligence of all’ maters past there, and how to betray his mistres; for they could not chuse a more fitte man than him to do such an act, who, from his very youth had been renouned for his treacherie, and of whom his oune father had no good opinion in his very infance; for, at a certain time, his coming foorth with him in a garden where his father was, with
some one that had come to visit him, busy in talk, the nurse setting down the childe on the greengrass, and not much mindinge him, the boy seeth a toade, which he snatched up and had eaten it all till a little of the legges, which when shee saw, shee cried out, thinking he should have been poisoned, and shee taking the legges of the toade that he had left as yet oneaten, he cried out so loud and shrill, that his father and the other gentleman heard the outcries, who went to see what should be the cause, and when the messinger returned and told the mater as it happened, in all haste he come to where his son was, and, save the legges, which he greedilie ate up also; which the father seeing, said,
‘The deville chew thee, or burste thee ! there will never come good of thee !’ As he prognosticated so it happened, for he was beheaded at Edinburgh, attainted and found guiltie of heigh treason for the murder of the king his maister.”

source-old and New Edinburgh

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