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But idillie our leving wynis,
Devoiring wolfis into scheipis skynis,
And doctoris in idolatrie,
Stout fischeiris with the feindis net,
To turne fra trueth the verray teichors."
These are certainly very heavy accusations; but there is good reason for supposing, from the degenerate state of the Romish Church, from the corrupt lives of its religious orders, and the detestation in which they were held by a large portion of the people, that they were not unjustly brought against the Greyfriars of the Grassmarket and other parts of Scotland.
The Greyfriars' Monastery at Edinburgh, during the hundred years that it flourished, was no doubt the scene of some interesting and important transactions. It must have been visited by many leading men both in Church and State, to hold converse with the friars, or to enjoy their hospitality or protection; but no records, or even traditions, giving a detailed account of any of the proceedings with which it was associated, have been preserved. A few references to it, are, however, to be found in the histories of the period. In June 1449, Mary, daughter of Arnold, Duke of Gueldres, the betrothed bride of Janies II., landed at Leith, attended by a great retinue, " magno virorum nobilium comitatu,” as Buchanan says, and was conveyed on horseback behind the Count de Vere to this Monastery. She remained here till the arrangements for her marriage were completed, receiving daily visits from her royal lover. It was assigned, in 1461, as a residence to Edward VI. of England, Margaret his queen, and Edward his son, Prince of Wales, who had been forced to flee from their country after the disastrous battle of Towton. Here they lived for some time, and received great attention from the magistrates and the citizens generally. The king was so highly pleased with their conduct, that, by letters patent, dated at Edinburgh on the 2d of January, in the 41st year of his reign, he granted them and their successors equal liberty to traffic with all parts of England, as the subjects of that kingdom themselves. The king was once or twice afterwards restored to his throne; but, in spite of the spirit and heroism of his queen, and the bravery and devotion of his followers, the cause of the House of Lancaster was in the end irretrievably ruined; and the
king himself died in prison, it is generally supposed, by the murderous hand of his rival the Duke of Glo'ster, afterwards Richard III.
One of the most facetious and characteristic incidents recorded in Knox's History of the Reformation is partly connected with this Monastery. It occurred in the year 1555. At that time the Reformation had made considerable progress in Scotland. Many of the nobles, and a large portion of the common people, had abandoned the Church of Rome, and held its rites and ceremonies in abhorrence. Knox had not yet preached his thundering sermon at Perth, against idolatry; and the work of purifying, or overturning ecclesiastical edifices, had not commenced; but images were beginning to be looked upon with detestation, and many of them were carried off and destroyed. The populace of Edinburgh, having almost all become converts to the Reformed Faith, laid hold on a large image of St. Giles, the tutelar saint of the city, carried it off to the Nor' Loch, where it was first drowned as an idolater or adulterer, and then burnt as a heretic. This proceeding excited a great commotion throughout the city, and dreadfully incensed the Popish priests. Knox says, that the friars rouped like ravens on the bishops, the bishops ran upon the Queen Regent, and the consequence had well nigh been a civil war. The Papists thereupon resolved to observe the anniversary of St. Giles with more than usual pomp and parade. They were wont on that day to march in procession along the streets, carrying the great image of their saint; and, therefore, they applied to the Town Council to restore their lost image to them, or to supply them with a new one; but the Council flatly refused, reminding them that God in his Word commands that all idols should be destroyed. This answer put them into a more furious passion than ever, and made them more determined to carry out their design. They were, therefore, for the nonce, under the necessity of borrowing an image from the Greyfriars in the Grassmarket; and as it was much smaller in size than their own, the populace saluted it with the title of the Young St. Giles. Accordingly, on St. Giles' day, the 1st of September, a large company assembled, consisting, as Knox says, of "preistis, frearis, chanonis, and rotten papistis, with tabournis and trumpets, baners and bagge-pypes." The procession then moved along the principal streets, and at the head of it walked the Queen Regent, who had been induced to join it in order to protect her shavelings from the fury of the mob. The whole affair wore so much an aspect of ostentation and bravado, that it gave great offence to the Reformers; but no assault was made on the ghostly array so long as the Queen was present. No sooner, however, did she retire to the house of one of the citizens to dinner, than some persons in the crowd succeeded in getting the barrow containing the image on their shoulders, and began to jolt it roughly, intending to pitch it into the street, but they could not effect this object, as it was securely fastened with nails. The mob, thereupon, raised the shout, "Down with Dagon," and immediately the idol was dashed to the ground. A person then took hold of it by the legs, and gave it such a blow, on the street, that it was deprived both of its head and arms. The priests and friars, dreading that they would soon be as roughly handled as their image, took to their heels and filed.
Then "doun gois the crocis," says Knox, "of gois the surplyses, round capis, cornets with the crownis. The grayfriers gaiped, the blackfriers blew, and the priestis panted and fled, and happie was he that first gat the hous, for suche ane suddane fray cam nevir amongst the generation of Antichrist within this realme befoir."
The Monastery of the Greyfriars was demolished in 1559. In the early part of that year John Knox came home from France; and, along with other preachers, commenced a furious crusade against Popery, particularly that part of it which they styled idolatry. It was in vain that the Queen Regent attempted to shut their mouths by putting them to the horn, and inhibiting all persons, under pain of rebellion, to receive, entertain, or assist them in any respect. Knox, disregarding the decrees of the Regent, mounted the pulpit of St. John's Church at Perth, on the 11th of May, and delivered such a flaming oration against idolatry, that it roused the indignation of all who heard it. On the afternoon of the same day, a priest had the temerity to celebrate mass at an altar decked out with images and other trumpery. As might have been expected, a great clamour was raised in the church against him. Enraged at the noise, he struck a boy who stood near him, and who was, no doubt, one of the most vociferous of his opponents. The boy, in retaliation, threw a stone at the priest, which, missing him, struck an image on the altar. This was the signal for commencing the work of destruction, and immediately the whole monuments of idolatry within the church were broken to pieces. The "rascal multitude" were not content with this havoc, but hastened to the Charter-house, and the Monasteries of the Black and Grey friars, and carried off or destroyed every thing on which they could lay their hands.
This riot made a great noise over Scotland. The Queen Regent, anticipating that the hostile movement thus commenced against the religious houses, would be infectious, addressed a letter from Stirling on the 13th of May, two days after the riot at Perth, to the provost and bailies of Edinburgh, apprising them of what had occurred, and expressing a fear that the same thing would be done in other towns :-"Quheirfor," she said, "we charge zow, that ze, fra this tyme furthe, giff gude heid and attendence, that na sic uproir nor sedetion ryse within zowre toun; bot that the religious places be suerlie kepit, and gude order observit as accords. Certefeying zow, giff ony myfreull happens hierefter in sic behalfis, that we sall not fail to lay the deid and wyt thairof to zoure charge." The Provost of Edinburgh, Lord Seton, who at first had shown a leaning to the reformed faith, but had gone back to popery and the interests of the Regent, and who, according to Knox, was a man without God, without honesty, and sometimes without reason, naturally felt a strong desire to save the monasteries under his charge from destruction. For the purpose of protecting them, he slept sometimes in one, and sometimes in another, and ordered the inhabitants much against their will to keep a constant guard upon them. All the gates of the city were kept shut, except the Netherbow and the West Port, and each of these was guarded by twelve men.
The Queen Regent and the popish faction were greatly exasperated by
the riot at Perth, and resolved to punish the offenders. They accordingly mustered their forces at Edinburgh, intending to march against Perth. The Reformers immediately flew to arms, with the determination of protecting their friends in Perth from the vengeance of the Regent. The two armies entered into negotiations to settle the dispute in a peaceful manner, but these proving ineffectual, the reformers marched from Perth with the intention of confronting the royal army at Edinburgh. When they arrived at Stirling, they attacked the monasteries, and laid them in ruins. The Town Council of Edinburgh, on learning that the reformed army was marching towards their city, and that the troops of the Regent were not likely to afford them any protection,―met, and resolved to send a deputation to Linlithgow to entreat the reformers that when they entered the town they would spare the churches and religious houses, so that the former might be used for protestant worship, and the latter for schools of learning. When the provost, however, learned that the army was approaching the city, he decamped, and left the monasteries and churches to their fate. The friars finding that they were now without protection, and that they would soon be attacked by the fierce iconoclasts from Perth, conveyed some of the best of their commodities to the houses of their friends. The populace, observing that the gates were left open, entered the buildings, and commenced the work of destruction. When the reformers came to Edinburgh, they found the monasteries gutted, the doors and windows broken, and the whole a scene of desolation. It appears, from a statement made by Bishop Lesley, that their army completed the havoc which the citizens had commenced. He says, that "the Erle of Argyle, and all his cumpanie, entered in the toune of Edinburgh without anye resistance, quhair they war weill receaved; and suddantlie, the Black and Grey Freris places war spulziet and cassin doune."
THE GREYFRIARS' CHURCH-YARD.
THE Reformation at length acquired a firm footing in Scotland. The whole race of monks, friars, and nuns, were driven away from their ancient abodes, and the lands and revenues that belonged to them reverted to the Crown, or were seized by the rapacious and turbulent nobles. The Town Council of Edinburgh, therefore, petitioned Queen Mary to confer upon the city, all the lands, tenements, and annual rents that formerly belonged to the religious houses in its neighbourhood, and that had now come into her possession. They intimated that their intention was, to erect an hospital for the accommodation and support of the poor, on the site of the Blackfriars' Monastery, "to beig ane scule" for the instruction of youth, "in letteris, lerning, and sciences," on that of the Kirk of Field; and in regard to the Greyfriars' they said, "becaus owre said toun is populous, and the multitude thairof greit, that zoure Hieness will give to us the zairdes of the Grayfrieris and situatioun thairof, being sum quhat distant from oure toun, to make ane Buriale-place of, to burie and eird the personnis deceassand thairin; sua, that thairthrow, the air within oure said toun may be the mair pure and clene."
immediately sent an answer from Stirling, granting the prayer of the petition in respect to the grounds of the Greyfriars, and promising that she would do the same thing in regard to the other places, so soon as she ascertained that sufficient provision had been made for erecting the proposed hospital and school. The Council having thus obtained the gardens of the Greyfriars', set them apart to the purposes of a burial place, by an act in 1561. They surrounded them with a wall, and placed the following inscription over an arched gateway at the lower part of the Candlemaker Row :
"Remember man as thou goes by,
As thou art now, so once was I–
Shortly after the gardens were converted into a cemetery, a number of elegant monuments were erected in it principally around the walls. These monuments called forth a high eulogium from Maitland, the historian of Edinburgh. He says, that this church-yard" is so enriched with a number of stately sepulchral monuments, that it probably not only excels every thing of its kind in the open air, but it vies with many royal sepulchral repositories. Nay, divers of its monuments, for magnificence, outdo those of many kings which I have seen." Many of these monuments are now in a blackened and shattered condition, but they certainly indicate a very respectable degree of architectural taste and skill, as well as a high respect to the memory of the dead. It is remarkable, that almost for a hundred and fifty years, scarcely a monument entitled to the least notice was erected in the burying grounds connected with the city. Either space for their erection could not be readily obtained, or the desire for raising such memorials to deceased relatives and public men, had become entirely dormant. Since the formation of six new cemeteries in the neighbourhood, a different spirit has begun to prevail. It is only about eight years since the first of them was opened, and already a large number of elegant monuments, though none of them equal to some of those in the Greyfriars', have been erected.
The remains of many distinguished men are interred in the Greyfriars' church-yard. On the tombstones may be observed the names of noblemen, provosts, bailies, ambassadors, judges, physicians, architects, professors, divines, historians, poets, novelists, actors, soldiers, &c., men who played a prominent part during their lives, and some of whom continue by their works to benefit and delight mankind, and maintain the celebrity of Scotland among the nations. The following are a few names well known to every person acquainted with Scottish history and literature:-George Buchanan, the Latin poet and historian; George Jamesone, the painter; Alexander Henderson, the leading divine in the time of Charles I.; Sir George Mackenzie, the eminent lawyer and persecutor; Principal Carstairs, the chaplain and confidential friend of William III.; Dr. Archibald Pitcairn, the distinguished physician; Allan Ramsay, the poet; Dr. Black, the chemist; Principal Robertson, the historian; Dr. Hugh Blair, the theologian, and