Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


98 OLD AKD NEW EDINBURGH. [The Mound and ten elders, of whom five shall retire ?by rotation from year to year, two only of whom may be re-elected, and reserving the rights competent to all parties under the laws of the Church ; with authority to undertake the general administration of college property and finances, to give advice in cases of difficulty ; to originate and prosecute before the Church Court processes asainst any of the professors for heresy or immorality, and to make necessary inquiries for that purpose ; to originate also, and prepare for the decision of the General Assembly, proposals for the retirement of professors disabled by age or infirmity, and for fixing the retiring allowance they are to receive.? The convener is named by the Assembly, and his committees meet as often as may be necessary. They submit to the Assembly an annual report of their proceedings, with a summary of the attendance during the session. The election of professors is vested in the General Assembly ; but they are inducted into their respective offices by the Presbytery. There is a Senatus Acadet?~icus, composed of the Principal and professors. The library of this college originated with Dr. Welsh, who in 1843 brought the subject before the Assembly. He obtained large and valuable donations in money and books from friends and from Scottish publishers in this country and America. Among the benefactors were the Earl of Dalhousie, Lords Effingham and Rutherford, General McDowall of Stranraer, Buchan of Kelloe, and others. The endowment now? amounts to about A139 per annum. The library is extensive and valuable, numbering about 35,000 volumes. It is peculiarly rich in patristic theology, ecclesiastical history, systematic theology, and works belonging to the epoch of the Reformation. The museum was begun by Dr. Fletning, but was mainly indebted to the efforts of the late Mrs. Macfie of Longhouse, who, at its commencement; enriched it with a large number of valuable specimens, and led many of her friends to take an interest in its development. The geological department, which is on the same floor with the class-room, contains a large number of fossils, many of which are very curious. In the upper museum is the varied and valuable collection of minerals, given by the late Dr. Johnston of Durham. In the same room are numerous specimens of comparative anatomy, The herbarium is chiefly composed of British plants. The endowment fund now amounts to above &+4,ooo, exclusive of LIO,OOO bequeathed for the endowment of a chair for natural science. The whole scheme of scholarships in the Free Church College originated with Mr. James Hog of Newliston, who, in 1845, by personal exertions, raised about A700 for this object, and continued to do so for eight years subsequently. Legacies and donations at length accumulated such a fund as to render subscriptions no longer necessary. A dining hall, wherein the professors preside by turn, is attached to the New College, to which all matriculated students, i.e., those paying the common fee, or securing as foreigners a free ticket, are entitled to dine on payment of a moderate sum. The common hall of the college is converted into a reading-room during the session. All students may become members on the payment of a trifling fee, and the arrangements are conducted by a committee of themselves. Since 1867 a large mnasium has been fitted up for the use of the students, under the management of eight of their number, the almost nominal subscription of sixpence from each being found sufficient to defray the current expenses. Westward of the Earthen Mound, the once fetid morass that formed the bed of the loch, and which had been styled ?a pest-bed for all the city,? is now a beautiful garden, so formed under the powers of a special statute in 1816-20, by which the ground there belonging originally to the citizens became the private property of a few proprietors of keys-the improvements being in the first instance urged by Skene, the friend of Sir Walter Scott In his ?Journal,? under date of January, 1826, Sir Walter says :-? Wrote till twelve a.ni., finishing half of what I call a good day?s work, ten pages of print, or rather twelve. Then walked in the Princes Street pleasure grounds with the Good Samaritan James Skene, the only one among my numerous friends who can properly be termed amicus curarum . mearem, others being too busy or too gay. The. walks have been conducted on the whole with much taste, though Skene has undergone much? criticism, the usual reward of public exertions, on account of his plans. It is singular to walk close beneath the grim old castle and think what scenes it must have seen, and how many generations of threescore and ten have risen and passed away. It is a place to cure one of too much sensation over eanhly subjects of imitation.? He refers here to James Skene of Rubislaw, a cornet of the Light Horse Volunteers, the corps of which he himself was quartermaster, and to whom he dedicated the fourth canto of ? Marmion,? and refers thus :-
Volume 3 Page 98
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