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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


378 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Greyfirs Church. King?s Commissioner, the severity of these vile persecutions was greatly lessened ; but in the northeast corner of the burying-ground, the portion of it long accorded as the place for the interment of criminals, stands that grim memorial of suffering, tears, and blood, known as the Martyrs?Monumznta tall, pillared tablet, rising on a pedestal surmounted by an entablature and pediment, and bearing the following inscription :- ? Halt, passenger ! take heed what you do see- This tomb doth show for what some men did die ; Here lies interred the dust of those who stood ?Gainst perjury, resisting unto blood ; Adhering to the covenants and laws, Establishing the same ; which was the cause Their lives were sacrificed unto the lust Of prelatists abjured ; though here their dust Lies mix?t with murderers, and other crew. Whom justice justly did to death pursue. But. as for them no cause was to be found Worthy of death ; but only they were found Constant and stedfast, zealous, witnessing For the prerogatives of Christ, their King ; Which truths were sealed by famous Guthrie?s head, And all along to Mr. Renwick?s blood. They did endure the wrath of enemies : Reproaches, torments, death, and injuries. But yet they?re those who from such troubles came, And now triumph in glory with the Lamb I ? ?From May 27, 1661, that the most noble Marquis of Argyle was beheaded, to the 17th February, 1688, that Mr. James Rcnwick suffered, were one way or other murdered and destroyed fo1 the same cause about eighteen thousand, of whom were executed at Edinburgh about a hundred ol noblemen aud gentlemen, ministers, and othersnoble martyrs for Jesus Christ. The most of them lie here.? According to the Edinburgh Courant of 1728 this tomb was repaired in that year, and there was added to it ?? a compartment, on which is cut a head and a hand on pikes, as emblems of theii (the martyrs?) sufferings, betwixt which is to be engraved a motto alluding to both.? The old church had been without a bell till 1681, when the Town Council ordered one which had been formerly used in the Tron church ta be hung in its steeple, or tower, at the west end. The latter was blown up on the 17th May, 1718, by a quantity of gunpowder belonging to the city, which was deposited there and exploded by acci. dent. As the expense of its repair was estimated at A600 sterling, the Town Council resolved to add instead, a new church at the west end of the old, and in the same plain, ungainly, and heavy style of architecture, with an octagonal porch projecting under the great window, all of which was accord. ingly done, and the edifice, since denominated the New Greyfriars, was finished in 1721, at the expense of A3,045 sterling. In this process the oIder church was shortened by a partition wall being erected at the second pillar from the west, that both buildings should be of equal length. Many men of eminence have been incumbents here ; among them, Robert Rollock, the first Principal of the University of Edinburgh, and Principal Carstares, the friend of William of Orange. In 1733, Robert Wallace, D.D., author of ?A Dissertation on the Numbers of Mankind,? and many other works, and one of the first projectors of the Scottish Ministers? Widows? Fund, was appointed one of the ministers of the Greyfriars, in consequence of a sermon which he preached before the Synod of Moffat, the tenor of which so pleased Queen Caroline, when she read it, that she recommended him to the patronage of the Earl of Islay, then chief manager of Scottish affairs. In 1736, however, he forfeited the favour of Government by being one of the many clergymen who refused to read from the pulpit the act relative to the Porteops mob; but on the overthrow of ,Walpole?s ministry, in 1742, he was entrusted with the conduct of ecclesiastical affairs, so far as related to crown presentations in Scotland -a delicate duty, in which he continued to give satisfaction to all. In 1744 Dr. Wallace was commissioned as one of the royal chaplains in Scotland, and in 1753 he published his ?? Dissertation??- a work that is remarkable for the curious mass of statistical information it contains, and for its many ingenious speculations on the subject of population, to one of which the peculiar theories of the Rev. Mr. Malthus owed their origin. Among many other philosophical publications, he brought forth (? Various Prospects of Mankind, Nature, and Providence,? in 1761, and died the year after, on the 10th of July, leaving a son, who is not unknown in Scottish literature. But the most distinguished of the incumbents was William Robertson, D.D., the eminent historian, who was appointed to the Greyfriars in 1761, the same year in which, on the death of Principal Goldie, he was elected Principal of the University of Edinburgh, and whose father, the Rev. William Robertson (a cadet of the Struan family) was minister of the Old Greyfriars in 173 j. Principal Robertson is so *well known by the published memoirs of him, and by his many brilliant literary works, that he requires little more than mention here. ?Scott, who from youth to
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Greyfriars Church.] DR ERSKINE. 379 I manhood was a sitter in the Old Greyfriars, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Scott,? says an old tutor of Sir Walter, writing to Lockhart, ? every Sabbath, when well and at home, attended with their fine young family of children and their domestic servants- a sight so amicable and exemplary as often to excite in my breast a glow of heart-felt satisfaction.? In ? Guy Mannering,? Scott introduces this old church-now, with St. Giles?s, the most interesting place of worship in the city-and its two most distinguished incumbents. When Colonel Mannering came to Edinburgh (where, as we have already said, Romance and History march curiously side from all quarters for the first service, a mass of . blackened ruins. It has since been repaired at considerable expense, adorned with several beautiful memorial windows, the triplet one in the south aisle being to the Scottish historian, George Buchanan. Among the ancient tombs within the church were those of Sir William Oliphant, King?s Advocate, who died in 1628 ; and of Sir David Falconer, of Newton, Lord President of the Court of Session, who spent the last day of his life seated on the bench in court. The antiquity of our Scottish churchyards, and the care taken of them, greatly impressed Dr. Southey strangely contrasted with a black wig, without a ? grain of powder ; a narrow chest and stooping posture; hands which, placed like props on each side of the pulpit, seemed necessary rather to support the person than to assist the gesticulation of the preacher ; a gown (not even that of Geneva), a tumbled band, and a gesture which seemed scarcely voluntary, were the first circumstances which struck a stranger.? Dr. Erskine, previously minister of the New Greyfriars, was the author of voluminous theological works, which are known, perhaps, in Scotland only. After ministering at the Greyfriars for fortyfive years, he died in January, 1803, and was buried in the churchyard Principal Robertson pre-deceased him. He died in June, 1793, in the seventy-first year of his age, and was interred in the same burying-ground. The Old Greyfriars was suddenly destroyed on the morning of Sunday, 19th January, 1845, by a fire, and presented to the startled people, assembling greatest, grandest, and most renowned, who have lived during a period of three hundred years. In the year 1562 the Town Council made an application to Queen Mary to grant them the site and yards of the Greyfriars Monastery, to form a a new burial-place, as ?? being somewhat distant from the town.? Mary, in reply, granted their request at once, and appointed the Greyfriars yard, or garden, to be devoted in future to the use specified, and as St Giles?s Churchyard soon after began to be abandoned, no doubt interments here would proceed rapidly ; all the more so that the other burial-places of the city had become desecrated. ?? Before the Reformation,? says Wilson, ?there were the Blackfriars Kirkyard, where the Surgical Hospital or old High School now stands ; the Kirk-of-Field-now occupied by the college, Trinity College, Holyrood Abbey, St. Roque?s ? and St. Leonard?s Kirkyards. In all these places human bones are still found on digging to any depth.?
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