Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from the city's archives

Jun 18, 2016

Two hundred years ago the Caledonian Mercury reported on a dinner held in the Assembly Rooms, George Street on 18 June 1816 to celebrate the first anniversary of victory at Waterloo.

Four hundred Scottish notables and senior military figures were present.  The event was chaired by Lord Provost William Arbuthnot.

Toasts were proposed to the King and to the victorious Generals, Wellington and Blucher. Following this Mr Walter Scott (not yet knighted) proposed two toasts. The first was to the boys of the High School who had asked him to present to the gathering a commemorative cake bearing the motto:

“Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths. Our stern alarms changed to merry meetings."

'Mr Scott now, to the great amusement of the company, drew the cake from his pocket, and in doing so made some happy allusions to the Land of Cakes. He expressed his hope that the young men, in whose behalf he now addressed the company, would in due time emulate the warlike deeds which they were now commemorating, and concluded with proposing to drink to their healths, which was done amid acclamations of applause, and followed by the tune of "youth’s the season meant for joy".'

Following further toasts to the Scottish regiments and to the memory of Nelson, Scott rose again to propose a second toast, this time to a brave hero from the lower ranks:


‘ Mr W Scott proposed a bumper to the health of Ensign Ewart, late of the Scots Greys, whose bravery was conspicuous in the memorable victory of Waterloo, where he took a French eagle (illustrated right), and killed with his own hand three of Bonaparte’s guard, who made desperate efforts to regain their standard.

The toast was drank (sic) with great acclamations, and a general expectation prevailed for a few minutes that Ensign Ewart, who was present, would address the company.

After a short pause, the Lord Provost rose, and, at the request of Mr Ewart, stated how much he felt honoured by this mark of the company’s approbation; but that he would rather fight the battle again than make a speech. (Great applause).'

Images of Ewart and the 45 Eagle courtesy of Museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards who hold copyright. Drawing of ‘Walter Scott Esq.’ by William Nicholson. 1817. Courtesy of City of Edinburgh Libraries’ Capital Collections.

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