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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


Calton HiX] SHORT?S 0 ESERVATORY. ?05 ?patriotic Earl of Morton gave a sun1 for the purpose; leaving the management thereof to Colin ?Maclaurin, Professor of Mathematics, and others of the Senatus Academicus. Maclaurin, with his characteristic liberality, added to the earl?s gift by the profits arising from a course of lectures on experimental philosophy ; but his death, in 1746, put a stop a second time to the execution of the disposal for the purpose of building an observatory, and to allow him to draw the whole emoluments arising from the use of his apparatus for a certain number of years ; ?but,? says Arnot, ?? on condition that the students should, in the meantime, have access to the observatory for a small gratuity, and that the building,withall the instruments, should . be vested in the Town Council for ever, as trustees THE CALTON HILL, CALTON GAOL, BURYING-GROUND, AND MONUMENTS. In 1776 there came to Edinburgh Mr. Short, brother and executor to Mr. James Short, F.R.S., formerly an optician in Leith, and who brought with him all his brother?s optical apparatus, particularly a large reflecting telescope that magnified 1,200 times, ?and is,? says the Week0 Magazine for that year, ? superior to any in Europe, but one in possession of the King of Spain.? Mr. Short intended to erect an observatory, which was to be his own private property, and from which he expected to draw considerable emoluments ; but Dr. Alexander Monro, Professor of Anatomy, one of Lord Morton?s trustees, showed that an observatory unconnected with the Council and University would conduce but little to the progress of science, 62 after a certain period. Mr. Short readily agreed, and the Council were applied to for their concurrence and patronage.? It appears from their Register that in the summer of 1776 the Council granted to Mr. Short, his sons and grandsons, a life-rent lease of half an acre on the Calton HilL A plan of the intended building was made by James Craig, architect, and the foundation-stone was laid by Provost James Stodart, in presence of the Senatus, 25th July, I 776 ; and upon the suggestion of Adam, the famous architect, in consequence of the high and abrupt nature of the site, the whole edifice was constructed to have the aspect of a fortification. 1 In the partial execution of this faulty design, thc
Volume 3 Page 105
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