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called the Wolf of Badenoch, having a feud with Bishop Barr, burnt down the cathedral, the parish church, a religious house called Maison Dieu, eighteen houses of the canons, and the greatest part of the city. He was compelled for this offence to do penance before the high altar of Blackfriars' Church at Perth : a very slight punishment for such an offence. The city did not recover its previous condition for a long time; and it was many years before the new cathedral was completed. The bishops devoted a third of their incomes to this object, and at length it stood a church of rare beauty and splendour. Its central tower was one hundred and ninety-eight feet high,
ELGIN CATHEDRAL ; SOUTH AISLE.
and the present remains justify the character which it attained of being the finest specimen of ecclesiastical architecture in the kingdom, Melrose not excepted. It exceeds that admired fabric in extent, in altitude, in general magnificence, and in richness of decoration. The remains of it at the present day are beheld by strangers with equal wonder and pleasure.
This fine cathedral, like nearly all in Scotland, fell, not by time, but by the fierce and bigoted fpirit in which the reformation was introduced. In 1568, the privy council authorised the Earl of Huntley, the sheriff of Aberdeen, to strip the cathedral churches of Aberdeen and Elgin of their lead, and to fell it for the maintenance of the troops of the regent Murray. It is a curious fact that this plunder, like the lead stripped from the castle of Conway in Wales, was not destined to benefit the spoilers. As that was lost with the ship which was conveying it to Ireland, so this had scarcely left the harbour of Aberdeen for Holland, where it was to be sold, when the ship went down with it. The cathedral of Elgin, thus exposed to the elements, went gradually to decay, and in 1711 the great central tower fell.
Wordsworth speaking of such rude and selfish destruction of ancient churches from a probably just resentment against the evils and oppressions of a corrupted faith, says :
“ As when a storm hath ceased, the birds regain
Have the survivors of this storm renewed
Their holy rites with vocal gratitude :
That persecution, blind with rage extreme,
But no such fecond resurrection awaited this superb old temple. The spirit of Genevan austerity, which came over with John Knox, allowed no revival of papal grandeur, but inaugurated a class of houses of devotion of a more rigid fimplicity.
The parts of the dilapidated cathedral remaining most entire are, the east end, parts of the transepts, the chapter-house, and the western entrance, flanked by two stupendous towers. The workmanship of all these is of extraordinary richness and elaborateness. The western door is particularly fine, and the chapter-house will bear comparison with most of those generally elegant buildings. Many monuments remain and are now guarded with care. Some of the figures represent knights and barons lying in complete armour, and others are of bishops, of a colossal fize. The surrounding area is the parish burial-ground, which is enclosed by a high wall, and kept shut up with the care so characteristic of the Scotch in their cemeteries.
Connected with the ruins of this cathedral is a history which is curious. The free school of the town, which provides clothing and maintenance for such children as cannot be supported by their parents, is a modern foundation. “It owes its origin,” says Robert Chambers, in his “Picture of Scotland,” “to a native of Elgin, who, having made a fortune abroad, devoted his honourable earnings to this honourable purpose. His name was Andrew Anderson, a major-general in the service of the East India Company; and there is something fingular in his history. He contrived to raise himself from the condition of a private soldier to that honourable rank, entirely by his own merits.
He had no patrimony but genius and ambition; there was something even below poverty in his origin. A small apartment is shown amid the ruins of the cathedral, where his mother, an indigent and infirm old widow, who could afford no better lodging, lived for many years while he was a
EIGIN CATHEDRAL : CHOIR.
boy; and this I humbly conceive to be, in one sense, the greatest curiosity about Elgin. In a crib, not more than five feet square, surrounded by melancholy ruins, and the dreadinspiring precincts of a churchyard, Anderson spent all his early years; the boy, who was on this account, perhaps, the most wretched and despised of all the boys in the town, being all the time destined to reach fuperior honours, and make provision for numbers of such outcasts as himself. Let the stranger inquire for, enter, and ponder upon, this humble cradle of genius and greatness.