Index for Chapters XXI-XXIX

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Chapter XXIX: Concluding Notices

The accommodation for the people was of the most wretched description, but it was in keeping with the state of the building. The noble doorway at the west end was filled up with a dunghill, and the roof was so rotten as to be incapable of repair. The heritors thought of pulling down the Abbey and building “a commodious kirk” with the stones! Happily this terrible calamity was averted by the energetic exertions of one whose name is well worthy, on this as on many other grounds, of being held by Paisley in “perpetual remembrance.” This was the Reverend Doctor Boog, who was inducted into the First Charge in 1782. This excellent man is remembered by some who yet survive as an eloquent preacher and a remarkably able man of business. [4] The visitor to the Abbey will call gratefully to mind that to his intervention we owe all of it that now remains. He received much assistance from the Dowager Countess of Glasgow, who resided at Hawkhead, and through their joint exertions the Abbey was not only saved from destruction, but was repaired in a way which, considering the ignorance at that time on the subject of restoration, was highly creditable.

In 1859, the writer of these memorials was inducted into the Second Charge of the Abbey as colleague to the Rev. Andrew Wilson, and he well remembers the dreadful condition of the building. The church was in a most disreputable state; the heritors, with their usual indifference, had done little since the time of Dr. Boog towards its maintenance. The burial-ground outside the building covered up the whole basement of the church up to the windows. The interior was like a vault in a graveyard. Water ran down the walls, and an unwholesome smell pervaded every part of the church. Heavy galleries round the place cut the pillars in two. The clerestory windows were blocked up, and whitewash was freely used. The whole of the moulding at the base of the pillars was hidden out of sight in the soil. The transept windows were destitute of tracery, and the wall of that part not having been pointed for many years, had in many places fallen down. A few more years would have seen it all in ruin. The pulpit was placed against the centre pillar of the north aisle, and round the floor of the church was a wide circular passage, with huge iron stoves placed in it at intervals. This passage formed a favourite promenade for stragglers during the time of service, who perambulated from one stove to another, occasionally lighting their pipes at them before going out, which they did whenever they were tired of listening, a frequent enough occurrence. A more dreary place of worship could scarcely be conceived. The porch was in a deplorable condition. The stone seats were all broken down, and people who entered the church had to creep in through a narrow doorway. A street of disreputable pawn-shops and public-houses abutted on the church, which was entirely hidden by the squalid buildings around it. People might pass within a few yards of it, and not know it was there.

[4] The sermons of Dr. Boog were published after his death. To him Paisley owes its Infirmary. He was a great musician, and the musical service in the Abbey under the leadership of R. A. Smith was famed throughout Scotland.