Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


Holyrood.] THE ABBEY CHURCH IN RUINS. 59 and cannon were two ship?s masts, fully rigged, one on the right bearing the Scottish flag, another on the left bearing the English. ?? Above all these rose the beautiful eastem window, shedding a flood of light along the nave, eclipsing the fourteen windows of the clerestory. The floor was laid with ornamental tiles, some portions of which are yet preserved.? In the royal yacht there came to Leith from London an altar, vestments, and images, to complete the restoration of the church to its ancient uses. As if to hasten on the destruction of his house, James VII., not content with securing to his Catholic subjects within the precincts of Holyrood that degree of religious toleration now enjoyed by every British subject, had mass celebrated there, and established a college of priests, whose rules were published on the zznd of March, 1688, inviting people to send their children there, to be educated gratis, as Fountainhall records. He also appointed a Catholic printer, named Watson (who availed himself of the protection afforded by the sanctuary) to be ? King?s printer in Holyrood ;? and obtained a right from the Privy Council to print all the ? prognostications at Edinburgh,? an interesting fact which accounts for the number of old books bearing Holyrood on their title-pages. Prior to all this, on St. Andrew?s Day, 30th November, the whole church was sprinkled with holy water, re-consecrated, and a sermon was preached in it by a priest named Widerington. Tidings of the landing of William of Orange roused the Presbyterian mobs to take summary vengeance, and on being joined by the students of the University, they assailed the palace and chapel royal. The guard, IOO strong-? the brats of Belia1?- under Captain Wallace, opened a fire upon them, killing twelve and wounding many more, but they were ultimately compelled to give way, and the chapel doors were burst open. The whole interior was instantly gutted and destroyed, and the magnificent throne, stalls, and orgab, were ruthlessly tom down, conveyed to the Cross, and there consigned to the flames, amid the frantic shrieks and yells of thousands. Not content with all this, in a spirit of mad sacrilege, the mob, now grown lawless, burst into the royal vault, tore some of the leaden coffins asunder, and, according to Amot, camed off the lids. By the middle of the eighteenth century the rooG which had become ruinous, was restored with flagstones in a manner too ponderous for the ancient arches, which gave way beneath the superincumbent weight on the 2nd of December, 1768; and again the people of Edinburgh became seized by a spirit of the foullest desecration, and from thenceforward, until a comparafively recent period, the ruined church remained open to all, and was appropriated ? tu the vilest uses. Grose thus describes what he saw when the rubbish had been partly cleared away :-? When we lately visited it we saw in the middle of the chapel the columns which had been borne down by the weight of the roof. Upon looking into the vaults which were open, we found that what had escaped the fury of the mob at the Revolution became a prey to the mobwho ransacked it after it fell. In A.D. 1776 we had seen the body of James V. and others in their leaden coffins; the coffins are now stolen. The head of Queen Margaret (Magdalene?), which was then entire, and even beautiful, and the skull of Damley, were also stolen, and were last traced to the collection of a statuary in Edinburgh.? In 1795 the great east window was blown out in a violent storm, but in 1816 was restored from its own remains, which lay scattered about on the ground. In the latter year the north-west tower, latterly used as a vestry, was still covered by an ogee leaden roof. The west front of what remains, though the W0i-k perhaps of different periods, is in the most beautiful style of Early English, and the boldly-cut heads in its sculptured arcade and rich variety of ornament in the doorway are universally admired. The windows above it were additions made so latelyas the time of Charles I., and the inscriptions which that upfortunate king had carved on the Ornamental tablet between them is a striking illustration of the vanity of human hopes. One runs :- Ultimately this also fell. ?Basiluam ham, Carolus Rex, @firnus imtaxravit, 1633.? The other :- ?HE SHALL ESTABLISH ANE HOUSE FOR MY NAME, AND I WILL ESTABLISH THE THRONE OF HIS KINGDOM FOR EVER.? In the north-west tower is amarble monument to Robert, Viscount Belhaven, who was interred there in January, 1639. His nephews, Sir Archibald and Sir Robert Douglas, placed there that splendid memorial to perpetuate hisvirtues as a man and steadiness as a patriot. A row of tombs of Scottish nobility and others lie in the north aisle. The Roxburgh aisle adjoins the royal vault in the south aisle, and in front of it lies the tomb of the Countess of Errol, who died in 1808. Close by. it is that of the Bishop of Orkney, already referred to. ? A flattering inscription enumerates the. bishop?s titles, and represents this worldly hypocrite
Volume 3 Page 59
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