Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


lAth.1 COBOURG STREET. 255 ing is the inscription on the pedestal-? This memorial of David Johnston, D.D., who was for fifty-nine years minister of North Leith, is erected by a few private friends in affectionate and grateful remembrance of his fervent piety, unwearied usefuhess, and truly Christian charity.? ? Two years after he left it, in 1826, the venerable church of North Leith was finally abandoned to sedular uses, and ?thus,? says the historian of Leith, ?? the edifice which had, for ?upwards of three hundred and thirty years, been devoted to the sacred purposes of religion, is now the unhallowed repository of peas and barley 1 Therein lie the remains of Robert Nicoll, perhaps one of the most precocious poets that Scotland has produced, and for some time editor of the Leeds Times. He died in Edinburgh, and was laid here in December, Several tombstones to ancient mariners stud the uneven turf. One bearing the nautical instruments of an early period-the anchor, compasses, log, Davis?s quadrant and cross-staff, with a grotesque face and a motto now illegible-is supposed to have been brought, with many others, from the cemetery of St. Nicholas, when the citadel was built there by order of Monk in 1656. Another rather ornate tomb marks the grave of some old ship-builder, with a pooped threedecker having two Scottish ensigns displayed. Above it is the legend-Trahunter. &as. mmhim, carimz, and below an inscription of which nothing remains but ?1749 . . aged 59 y . . .? Another stone bears-? Here lyeth John Hunton, who died Decon of the Weivars in North Leith, the .25.?Ap. 1669.? This burying-ground was granted by the city ol Edinburgh, in 1664, as a compensation for that appropriated by General Monk. The new church of North Leith stands westward of the oId in Madeira Street. Its foundation was laid in March, 1814. It is a rather handsome building, in a kind of Grecian style of architecture, and was designed by William Bum, a well-known Edinburgh architect, in the earlier years of the present century. The front is 78& feet in breadthand from the columns to the back wall, it measures 116 feet. It has a spire, deemed fine (though deficient in taste), 158 feet in height. The proportions of the fourcolumn portico are szid by Stark to have been taken from the Ionic Temple on the Ilyssus, near Athens. It cost aboul ~12,000, and has accommodation for above one thousand seven hundred sitters. The living is said to be one of the best in the Church of Scotland. Its ancient churchyard adjoins it. r837. North Leith Free Church stands near it, on the Queensfeny Road, and was built in 1858-9, from designs by Campbell Douglas ; it is in the German Pointed style, with a handsome steeple 160 feet in height In 1754, Andrew Moir, a student of divinity, was usher of the old Grammar School in North Leith, and in that year he published a pamphlet, entitled ?? A Letter to the Author of the Ecclesiastic Characteristics,? charging the divinity students of the university with impious principles and immoral practices. This created a great storm at the time, and the students applied to the Principal ewdie, who summoned the Senatus, before whom Andrew Moir was brought on the 25th of April ;9 the same year. He boldly acknowledged himself author of the obnoxious pamphlet. At a second meeting, on the 30th April, he acknowledged ?that he knew no students of divinity in the university who held the principles, or were guilty of the practices ascribed to some persons in the said printed letter.? This retractatien he subscribed by his own hand, in presence of the Principal and Senatus. The latter taking the whole affair into their consideration, ?? unanimously found and declared the said letter to be a scurrilous, false, and malicious libel, tending, without any ground, to defame the students of the university ; and, therefore, expeZZea! and extruded the said Andrew Moir (usher of the Grammar School of North Leith), author of the said pamphlet, from this university, and declared that he is no more to be considered a student of the same.? In Cobourg Street, adjoining the old church of St. Ninian, is North Leith United Presbyterian Church, while the Free Church of St. Xinian stood in Dock Street, on a portion of the ground occupied by the old citadel. In the former street is a relic of old Leitha large square stone, representing the carpenters? arms, within a moulded panel. It ?bears a threedecked ship with two flags, at stem and stern. Above it is the motto- *? God bless fhe curjmters of No. fiith, wlro hilt thL Hme, 1715.? Underneath the ship is the line Trahunter siccas machimz canhe, said to be misquoted from Horace, Carm : lib. i 4, where the verse runs :- ?I Solvitur a& hiems gxata vice veris et Favoni : Trahuntquc sicraS machim carinas ; Nec prata canis albicant pruinis.? Ac neque jam stabuliis gandet pecus, aut aritor igni; This stone stood originally in the wall of a man
Volume 6 Page 255
  Enlarge Enlarge  
256 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Leith. sion opposite to the church of St. Ninian, but is now rebuilt into a modern edifice in Cobourg Street. In Robertson?s map, depicting Leith with its fortifications, 1560 (partly based upon Greenville Collins?s, which we have reproduced on p. 176), the church of Nicholas is shown between the sixth and seventh bastions, as a cruciform edifice, with choir, nave, and transepts, measuring about 150 feet in length, by 80 feet across the latter, and distant only IOO feet from the Short Sand, or old sea margin. the patron of seamen,? says Robertson, ?we may infer that Leith at a very early period was a sea St. Nicholas, the confessor, was a native of Lycia, who died in the year 342, according to the Bollandists. He was assumedas the patron of Venice and many other seaports, and is usually represented with an anchor at his side and a ship in the background, and, in some instances, as the patron of commerce, In Mrs. Jameson?s ?Sacred and port town.? ST. NINIAN?S CHURCHYARD. The church, or chapel, with the hospital of St. Nicholas, is supposed to have been founded at some date later than the chapel of Abbot Balhntyne, as the reasons assigned by him for building it seemed to imply that the inhabitants were without any accessible place of worship ; but when or by whom it was founded, the destruction of neatly all ecclesiastical records, at the Reformation, renders it even vain to surmise. Nothing nom can be known of their origin, and the last vestiges of them were swept away when Monk built his citadel. They were, of course, ruined by Hertford in his first invasion, ?and from the circumstance of the church in the citadel being dedicated to St. Nicholas, Legendary Art,? she mentions two : ?? a seaport with ships in the distance ; St. Nicholas in his episcopal robes (as Archbishop of Myra), stands by as directing the whole;? and a storm at sea, in which ?St. Nicholas appears as a vision above ; in one hand he holds a lighted taper ; with the other he appears to direct the course of the vessel.?? To this apostle of ancient manners had the old edifice in North Leith been dedicated, when the site whereon it stood was an open and sandy eminence, overlooking a waste of links to the northward, and afterwards encroached on by the sea ; and its memory is still commemorated in a narrow and obscure alley, called St. Nicholas Wynd, according to Fullarton?s ?? Gazetteer,? in 1851.
Volume 6 Page 256
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures