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Early in the following year the mayor and the commanding officer, Colonel Brereton, were brought to trial for neglect of duty. The mayor was acquitted, as not having been adequately supported by the military; but Colonel Brereton's humanity led to the most painful consequences. His trial began on the 9th of January following, and lasted four days, during which, as the proofs against him accumulated, he was overwhelmed with agony of mind. On the night of the 12th he did not visit, as was his custom, the chamber of his two motherless daughters. He was heard walking for hours about his room during that night, and in the morning, when the court assembled, it was announced that the prisoner had shot himself through the heart.
The king attended the theatre one evening, and by his desire the drama of Rob Roy was performed. The theatre was of course crowded to excess, the boxes presenting a dazzling galaxy of rank and beauty. When the approach of the king was announced, there was a pause of deathlike stillness; then an outburst of deep, honest enthusiasm never to be forgotten. "A prolonged and heartfelt shout, which for more than a minute rent the house," a waving of handkerchiefs, tartan scarfs, and plumed bonnets, testified the joy of the assembly and delighted the ears and eyes of the "chief of chiefs." Sir Walter Scott in a letter to his son gives a vivid description of this royal visit. For a fortnight Edinburgh had been a scene of giddy tumult, and considering all that he had to do, he wondered that he had not caught fever in the midst of it. All, however, went off most happily. The Edinburgh populace behaved themselves like so many princes, all in their Sunday clothes; nothing like a mobno jostling or crowding. "They shouted with great emphasis, but without any running or roaring, each standing as still in his place as if the honour of Scotland had depended on the propriety of his behaviour. This made the scene quite new to all who had witnessed the Irish reception." The king's stay in Scotland was protracted till the 29th of August. On the day before his departure, Mr. Peel, who accompanied him as Home Secretary, wrote the following letter to Sir Walter Scott:"My dear sir,The king has commanded me to acquaint you that he cannot bid adieu to Scotland without conveying to you individually his warm personal acknowledgments for the deep interest you have taken in every ceremony and arrangement connected with his Majesty's visit, and for your ample contributions to their complete success. His Majesty well knows how many difficulties have been smoothed, and how much has been effected by your unremitting activity, by your knowledge of your countrymen, and by the just estimation in which they hold you. The king wishes to make you the channel of conveying to the Highland chiefs and their followers, who have given to the varied scenes which we have witnessed so peculiar and romantic a character, his particular thanks for their attendance, and his warm approbation of their uniform deportment. He does justice to the ardent spirit of loyalty by which they are animated, and is convinced that he could offer no recompense for their services so gratifying to them as the assurance which I now convey of the esteem and approbation of their Sovereign."
The consternation of the city may be imagined. The inhabitants, who had, at first, treated the rumour of the Young Pretender's landing with ridicule, now passed to the extreme of terror. On Sunday night the Highlanders lay between Linlithgow and the city, and on Monday morning Charles sent forward a detachment, which, on coming in sight of the pickets, discharged their pistols. The dragoon pickets did not wait to return the fire, but rode off towards Coltbridge, nearer to Edinburgh, where Gardiner lay with the main body of horse. No sooner, however, did this commander perceive the advancing Highlanders, than he also gave the order to retreat, and the order was so well obeyed, that from a foot's-pace the march quickened into a trot and presently into a gallop, and the inhabitants of Edinburgh saw the whole force going helter-skelter towards Leith, where they drew bit. The valiant troops mounted again, and galloped to Preston, six miles farther, some of them, it was said, not stopping till they reached Dunbar. This "Canter of Coltbridge," as it was called in derision, left the city at the mercy of the Highlanders, except for about six or seven hundred men mustered from the City Guard, the volunteer corps, and some armed gentlemen from Dalkeith and Musselburgh, who took post at the gates.