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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


Greyfriars Church.] SCOTT?S FIRST LOVE AFFAIR. ? 383 son, buried respectively I 7 67 and I 8 I 7, Alexander Monro $rimus, the great anatomist, and Alexander Monro secwidm, who in 1756 was admitted joint Professor of Anatomy and Surgery with his distinguished father. In the same ground, in 1799, were laid Professor Joseph Black, the great chemist ; Dr. Hugh Blair, in 1800 ; Henry Mackenzie, ? the Man of Feeling,? in 1831 ; Alexander Tytler, another distinguished Zittivatear; John Kay, the caricaturist, in 1826 ; and Dr. McCrie, the well-known biographer of John Knox. The monument to Dr. Hugh Hair was erected in 1817, and is placed on the south side of the church, in the same compartment with that of Professor MacLaurin. Thus, one of the most eminent philosophers and one of the most distinguished preachers that Scotland has produced are commemorated side by side. On the eastern gable of the Old Greyfriars Church, a grim, repellent, and remarkable monument catches the eye. In the centre is sculptured a skeleton, festooned around with surgical implements, but the inscription is nearly obliterated by time and the fire of the church, yet it is always an object of much curiosity. It marks the grave of James Borthwick, whose portrait is the oldest now hanging in the Hall of the Royal College of Surgeons, the incorporation of which he entered in 1645 ; he was a cadet of the House of Crookston, and nearly related to Lord Borthwick, who defended his castle of that name against Oliver Cromwell after the battle of Dunbar. He acquired the estate of Stow, in which he was succeeded by his son James, who erected this hideously grotesque memorial to his memory. Another monument of a different kind, in the form of a brass plate inserted into a stone, on the western wall of the church, bore some fine elegiac verses to the memory of Francisca, daughter of ?< Alexander Swinton, advocate ; who died . . . . . aged 7 years.? But these verses were quite obliterated by 1816. They ran thus :- ? The sweetest children, like these transient flowers, Which please the fancy for a few short hours,- Lovely at morning, see them burst in birth, At evening withered-scattered on the earth, Their stay, their place, shall never more be known, Save traits enpven on those hearts alone That fostered these frail buds while here beneath ; Yes, these shall triumph o?er the powers of death, Shall spring eternal in the parent?s mind Till hence transplanted to a realm refined.? Northward of the two churches stands the tomb and grave of Duncan Ban Maclntyre, commonly known in the Highlands as Donnachan ban nun Oran, who died in the year 1812, and who, though he fought at Falkirk, outlived all the bards and nearly all the warriors associated in the Highland heart with the last chivalrous struggle for the House of Stuart. A handsome monument marks the place where his ashes lie. Though little known in the Lowlands, Duncan is deemed one of the-sweetest of the Gaelic poets, and was so humble in his wants that he had no higher ambition than to become a soldier in the old City Guard. The burial-place of Sir Walter Scott?s family lies on the west side of the ground. ? Our family,? he wrote, ?heretofore (Dec., 1819) buried close by the entrance to Heriot?s Hospital, on the southern or left-hand. side as you pass from the churchyard.? Here the father, Walter Scott, W.S., and several of his children who died in the old house in the College Wynd, are interred. Mrs. Scott, her sisters, and her brother, Dr. Rutherford, are interred in the burial-ground attached to St. John?s Church, at the west end of Princes Street. Sir Walter purchased a piece of ground there, ?moved by its extreme seclusion, privacy, and security; for,? as he wrote to brother Thomas, who was paymaster of the 70th Foot, conveying an account of their mother?s death, ?when poor Jack (their brother) was buried in the Greyfriars Churchyard, where my father and Anne (their sister) lie, I thought their graves more encroached upon than I liked to witness.? The Greyfriars Churchyard is, curiously enough, noted as being the scene of Scott?s first love affair with a handsome young woman. Lockhart tells us that their acquaintance began in that place of dreary associations, ? when the rain was beginning to fall one Sunday, as the congregation were dispersing. Scott happened to offer his umbrella, and the tender being accepted, so escorted her to her residence, which proved to be at no great distance from his own. I have neither the power nor the wish,? adds his biographer, ?? to give in detail the sequel to this story. It is sufficient to szy that after he had through several long years nodrished the dream of an ultimate union with this lady- Margaret, daughter of Sir John and Lady Jane Stewart Belshes of Invermay-his hopes terminated in her being married to the late Sir William Forbes, Bart., of Pitsligo.? In December, 1879, there were interred in the Greyfriars Churchyard, under the direction of the city authorities, the great quantity of human bones
Volume 4 Page 383
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