The History of Leith

June 7, 2012

Tabernacle

On the east side of the walk, overlooking the
steep and deep Greenside ravine, the huge and
hideous edifice named the ” Tabernacle,” was long
the scene of the ministrations of the Rev. James
Alexander Haldane, who there, for more than forty
years, devoted himself, gratuitously, and with exemplary
assiduity, to preaching the Gospel. He was
the son of Captain James Haldane of Airthrey, a
descendant of the family of Gleneagles, and his
mother was a sister of Admiral Viscount Duncan.
He commenced life as a midshipman on board
the Duke of Montrose, Indiaman, made four voyages
to the East, and in his twenty-fifth year became
captain of the Melville Castle, and was distinguished
for his bravery amid many perils incident to life at
sea. During the mutiny at Spithead, the spirit of
the revolt was spread to the Dutton, a vessel alongside
of Haldane’s, by the captain of the former
sending a man-of-war’s boat to have some of his men
arrested for insubordination. The mutiny broke
out on a dark night—shots were fired, and a man
killed. On this, the future pastor of the Tabernacle
lowered a boat with an armed crew, and went off
to the Dutton, the crew of which threatened him
with death if he did not sheer off; but he boarded
her, sword in hand, and, driving the mutineers forward,
addressed them on the folly of their conduct,
the punishment that was certain to follow, and
eventually overcame them without more bloodshed.
Soon after this he resigned his command in the
East India Company’s Service, and meant to adopt
the life of a country gentleman ; but an intimacy
with Mr. Black, minister of Lady Yester’s, and
Mr. Buchanan, of the Canongate Church, led to a
graver turn of thought, and, resolving to devote his
life to the diffusion of the Gospel, he sold his beautiful
estate at Airthrey to Sir Robert Abercromby,
and failing in a missionary plan he had formed for
India, he began to preach at home, first at Gilmerton
in 1797, and afterwards 0ft the Calton Hill,
where the novelty of a sea-captain addressing them
collected not less than’ 10,000 persons on more
than one occasion.

source-Old and New Edinburgh

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