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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


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.?
Volume 4 Page 379
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