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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


West Churqh. SIR HENRY WELLWOOD MONCRIEFF. I35 and gloomy vault ; ?a memorial alike of the demolished fane and the extinct race,? says Wilson in 1847. ?When we last saw it the old oak door was broken in, and the stair that led down . to the chamber of fhe dead was choked up with rank nettles and hemlock-the fittest monument that could be devised for the old barons of Dean, the last of them now gathered to his fathers.? One of the most interesting tombs here is that of Thomas de Quincey, the eccentric ?English opium-eater,? who was the friend of Prqfessor Wilson, and died at Edinburgh on the 8th of December, 1859. It is reached by taking the first pathway upward to the right at the Lothian Road entrance. On one of the south walls here, where for more than fifty years it hung unnoticed and forgotten, is a piece of monumental sculpture, by Flaxman, of very rare beauty-a square architectural mural monument, of a mixed Roman and Grecian style, of white and black marble, which was erected to commemorate the death of three infant children. Two families-the Watsons of Muirhouse, and the Rocheids of Inverleith-retained the right of burial within the new church, under the steeple, which is 170 feet in height. Its bell, which is inscribed ?George Watt fecit, St. Ninian?s Row, Edin : 1791,? was hung in that year. In the west lobby of the church a handsome tablet bears the following inscription, removed, probably, from the older edifice :-? Here lyes the corpse of the Honble. Sir James Rocheid of Inverkith, who died the 1st day of May, 1737, in the 7 1st year of his age.? The last incumbent of the ancient church, Mr. Stewart, having died in April, 1775, was succeeded by the famous Sir Henry Wellwood Moncrieff, D.D., who for more than half a century was one of the greatest ornaments of the Scottish Church. At St. Cuthbert?s he soon became distinguished for his devoted zeal and fidelity in the discharge of his ministerial duties, for the mildness and benevolence of his disposition, for his genius, eloquence, and great personal worth. He soon became the leader of the Evangelical section of the church, and in 1785 was unanimously chosen Moderator of the General Assembly. He was appointed collector of the fund for the widows and children of the clergy, and filled that important situation till his death, and received annually the thanks of the Assembly for forty-three years. He was author of several sermons, and the funeral oration preached at his death by Dr. Andrew Thomson, 01 St. George?s, was long remembered for its power pathos, and tenderness. He died in 1827 of a lingering illness, in the 78th year of his age and 57th of his ministry. In its greatest length, quoad civiZia, in 1835, the parish measured upwards of five miles, and in its yeatest breadth three and a half. But in 1834 territories were detached from it and formed into ihe quoad sacra parishes of Buccleuch, St. Bemard?s, Newington, and Roxburgh. It was partly landward and partly town ; but, as regards population, is chiefly the latter now. Each of its two ministers has a manse. Before quitting the church of St. Cuthbert a reference must be made to its old poor-house, a plain but lofty edifice, with two projecting wings :standing on the south side of what was latterly :alled Riding School Lane), and now removed. At an early period a tax of LIOO sterling hac been laid on the parish to preclude begging, ? and maintain those who had been ?accustomed to live 3n the charity of others.? In 1739, at a meeting 3f heritow and the Session, the former protested against the levy of this old impost, on the plea ?that the poor?s funds were sufficient to maintain the poor in the landward part of the parish, with whom only the heritors were concerned ; while the poor living in Pleasance, Potter Row, Bristo, West Port, &c., fell to be maintained by the town in whose suburbs they were.? The assessment was thus abandoned, and an ancient practice was resorted to : the mendicant poor were furnished with metal badges, entitling them to solicit alms within the parish. The number furnished with this unenviable distinction amounted to fifty-eight in 1744, and the number of enroIled poor to 220, for whose support A200 sterling were expended. In 1754 the Kirk Session presented a nikmorial to the magistrates, craving a moiety of the duty levied on ale for the support of their poor, whereupon a wing was added to the city workhouse for the reception of St. Cuthbert?s mendicants. In June 1759 a subscription was opened for building a workhouse in the West Kirk. parish j the money obtained amounted to A553 sterling for the house, and A196 8s. of annual subscrip tions for the support of its inmates-a small proof that the incubus or inertia which had so long affected Edinburgh was now passing away ; and the building was commenced on the south side of a tortuous lane, St. Cuthbert?s, that then ran between hedgerows from opposite the churchyard gate towards the place named the Grove. It was completed by the year 1761, at a cost of about L1,565 sterling. The expenses of the house were defrayed partlv hv collections at the church doors
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