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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


Greyfrian Church.] THE COVENANT. 375 and Lord Scrope represented their respective monarchs. The number of the inhabitants having greatly increased, and the churches of the city being insufficient for their accommodation, the magistrates, in 1612, says Ariiot, ordered a new one to be built on the ground formerly belonging to the Greyfriars, and bestowed on them by Queen Mary for a public cemetery; but he makes no mention of any preceding church, on which the present edifice might have been engrafted. The eastern entrance from the Candlemaker Row was formed at some time subsequent to the erection or opening of this church. On the 28th of February 1638, the National Covenant was first subscribed at the Greyfriars Church, when the aggressive measures of Charles I. roused in arms the whole of Scotland, which then, happily for herself, was not, by the desertion of her nobles and the abolition of her officers of state, unable to resist lawless encroachment ; and her sons seemed to come forth as one man in defence of the Church, which had then no more vigorous u p holder than the future Marquis of Montrose. ?? In the old church of the Greyfriars,? to quote his memoirs (London, 1858), ?? which stands upon an eminence south of the ancient capital, and within the wall of 1513, amid quaint and smoke-encrusted tombs, and many headstones sunk deep in the long, rank grass-where now the furious Covenanter, Henderson, and Rosehaugh, ? that persecutor of the saints of God,? as the Whigs named him, are lying side by side in peace among the dead of ages, the Covenant, written on a sheet of parchment one ell square, and so named because it resembled those which God is said to have made with the children of Israel, was laid before the representatives of the nation, and there it was signed by a mighty concourse, who, with uplifted hands, with weeping eyes, and drawn swords, animated by the same glorious enthusiasm which fired the crusaders at the voice of Peter the Hermit, vowed, with the assistance of the supreme God, to dedicate life and fortune to the cause of Scotland?s Church and the maintenance of their solemn engagement, which professed the reformed faith and bitterly abjured the doctrines and dogmas of the Church of Rome -for with such they classed the canons and the liturgy of Laud.? It was first subscribed by the congregation of the Greyfriars ; but the first name really appended to it was that of the venerable and irreproachable Earl of Sutherland. Montrose and other peers followed his example, and it afterwards was sent round the churches of the city; thus it speedily became sa xowded with names on both sides, says Maithd, :hat not the smallest space was left for more, It appears that when there was so little,room ;eft to sign on, the subscriptions were shortened by inserting only the initials of the Covenanters? names, 3f which the margins and other parts were so full that it was a difficult task to number them. By a cursoryview Maitland estimated themat about 5,000. By order of the General Committee every fourth man in Scotland was numbered as a soldier. In 1650 the church was desecrated, and all its wood-work wasted and destroyed by the soldiers of Cromwell. Nine years afterwards, when Monk was in Edinburgh with his own regiment (now the Coldstream Guards) and Colonel Morgan?s, ? on the 19th of October, he mustered them in the High Street, in all the bravery of their steeplecrowned hats, falling bands, calfskin boots, with niatchlocks and bandoleers, some time prior to his march southward to achieve the Restoration, From that street he marched them (doubtless by theRest Bow) to the Greyfriars Church, where he told his officers that he ? was resolved to make the military power subordinate to the civil, and that since they had protection and entertainment from the Parliament, it was their duty to serve it and obey it against all opposition.? The officers and soldiers unanimously declared that they would live and die with him. In the year 1679 the Greyfriars Church and its burying-ground witnessed a pitiful sight, when that city of the dead was crowded, almost to excess, by those unhappy Covenanters whom the prisons could not contain, after the rising at Bothwell had been quenched in blood. These unhappy people had been collected, principally in the vicinity of Bathgate, by the cavalry, then employed in ? dragooning,? or riding down the country, and after being driven like herds of cattle, to the number of 1,200, tied two and two, to the capital, they were penned up in the Greyfriars Churchyard, among the graves and gloomy old tombs of all kinds, and there they were watched and guarded day and night, openly in sight of the citizens. Since Heselrig destroyed the Scottish prisoners after Dunbar (for which he was arraigned by the House of Commons) no such piteous sight had been witnessed on British ground. They were of both sexes and of all ages, and there they lay five long months, 1,200 souls, exposed to the suq by day and the dew by night-the rain, the wind, and the storm-with no other roof than the changing sky, and no other bed than the rank grass that grew in its hideous luxuriance from the graves beneath them. All were brutally treatedby their
Volume 4 Page 375
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