1823, and in 1837 appeared in an enlarged form as ‘An Introduction to the Study of the Civil Law.’
In 1820 Irving became principal librarian of the Faculty of Advocates, passing his first vacation at Göttingen, in accordance with the terms of his appointment. This gained him new friends and valuable experience, and brought him in time the Göttingen degree of doctor of laws. In October of this year he married his cousin, Janet Laing of Canonbie, Dumfriesshire, and for twenty-nine years pursued a quiet, but prosperous and happy career. At the disruption in 1843 he joined the seceders from the church of Scotland, remaining a valued member of the Free church. In 1848 the curators of the library, on account apparently of his advancing years, induced him to resign his post. Thenceforth he lived a retired and studious life, amassing a private library of about seven thousand volumes. He died at Meadow Place, Edinburgh, on 11 May 1860.
Irving published much during his last forty years. In 1821 he edited, with biographical notices, the poems of Alexander Montgomerie, author of ‘The Cherrie and the Sloe.’ For the Bannatyne Club he prepared, in 1828–9, an edition of Dempster's ‘De Scriptoribus Scotis;’ in 1835 a reprint of Robert Charteris's edition of ‘Philotus, a Comedy;’ and, in 1837, the first edited issue of David Buchanan's Lives: ‘Davidis Buchanani de Scriptoribus Scotis Libri Duo.’ For the Maitland Club he edited in 1830 ‘Clariodus, a Metrical Romance,’ from a sixteenth-century manuscript, and in 1832 ‘The Moral Fables of Robert Henryson: reprinted from the edition of Andrew Hart.’ He did not revise Hart's text, but he furnished a valuable preface. Between 1830 and 1842 he contributed to the seventh edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica’ the articles on Jurisprudence, Canon Law, Civil Law, and Feudal Law, besides numerous important Scottish biographies, many of which were republished, in 1839, in two volumes, entitled ‘Lives of Scotish Writers.’ In 1854 Irving reissued, with enlarged preface and notes, Selden's ‘Table Talk,’ which he had edited in 1819. He likewise progressed with his ‘History of Scotish Poetry,’ which he began in 1828; it appeared posthumously in 1861, edited by Dr. John Carlyle, with a prefatory memoir by Dr. David Laing. Several of the ‘Encyclopædia’ articles—notably those on Barbour, Dunbar, Henryson, and Lindsay—were incorporated in this work. Although it wants revision in the light of researches undertaken since the date of its composition, it remains the standard authority on its subject.
[Laing's Memoir prefixed to Scotish Poetry; Gent. Mag. 1860, i. 645; Dr. Hanna's obituary notice in the Witness.]
IRVING, EDWARD (1792–1834), divine, was born at Annan on 4 Aug. 1792, on the same day as Shelley. His father, Gavin Irving, was a tanner, of a family long established in the neighbourhood; his mother, Mary Lowther, was the daughter of a small landed proprietor. As a boy, he was eminently successful in gaining school prizes, and showed a partiality for attending the services of extreme presbyterians, seceders from the church of Scotland, at the neighbouring hamlet of Ecclefechan, Carlyle's birthplace. There he doubtless received impressions which influenced his future career. At thirteen he went to Edinburgh University, where he graduated in 1809. Though he does not appear to have been a remarkably distinguished student, he attracted the favourable notice of Professors Christison and Leslie, by whose recommendation he obtained in 1810 the mastership of the so-called mathematical school just established at Haddington. Here he remained two years teaching, studying for the ministry, and at the same time giving private lessons to a little girl, Jane Baillie Welsh, who was destined to influence his life in future years. In 1812, by the continued patronage of Sir John Leslie, he obtained the mastership of a newly established academy at Kirkcaldy, on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth, which he administered successfully, but, if lingering traditions may be trusted, with unreasonable severity towards his scholars. He found another female pupil destined to affect his future life in Isabella Martin, daughter of the minister of the parish, and, after obtaining a license to preach in June 1815, occasionally assisted her father, not greatly, as would appear, to the edification of the people. ‘He had ower muckle gran'ner,’ they said. While at Kirkcaldy he made the acquaintance of Carlyle, who arrived in the autumn of 1816 to take charge of an opposition school. Irving received his competitor with the utmost generosity. ‘Two Annandale people,’ he said, ‘must not be strangers in Fife.’ Neither teacher appears to have taken a very engrossing or strictly professional interest in his pursuit, and they speedily became fast friends. Irving, the elder man, and at the time by much the more interesting and conspicuous, was in a position to be of the greatest service to Carlyle, who gratefully records the stimulus of his conversation and the access to books which he afforded to him. ‘But for Irving I had never known what the communion of man with man means.’ In 1818 Irving resigned