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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


106 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Glton Hill. money appropriated for the work was totally exhausted, and the luckless observatory was once more left to its fate, and when thus abandoned, was the scene of a singular disturbance in 1788. It was assailed by ten armed persons, who severely wounded a gentleman who endeavoured to oppose them ?in capturing the place, which was next literally stormed by the City Guard, ?without any killed or wounded,? says Kincaid, ?but in the hurry of conducting their prisoners to the guard-house, they omitted to take a list of the stores and ammunition found there.? On the 26th February, 1789, there were arraigned by the Procurator Fiscal these ten persons, among whom were Jacobina, relict of Thomas Short, optician in Edinburgh, John McFadzean, medical student, for forcibly entering, on the 7th November, ?the observatory formerly possessed by Thomas Short, optician, in order to dispossess therefrom James Douglas, grandson of the said Thomas Short, with pistols, naked swords, cutlasses, and other lethal weapons, attacking and wounding Robert Maclean, accountant of Excise,? &c. For this, eight were dismissed from the bar, and two were imprisoned .and fined 500 merks each. (Edin. Advert., 1789.) In 1792 the observatory was completed by the magistrates, but in a style far inferior to what the utility of such an institution deserved ; and being without proper instruments, or a fund for procuring them, it remained in this condition till 1812, when a more fortunate attempt was made to establish an observatory on a proper footing by the formation in Edinburgh of an Astronomical Institution, and the old edifice is how used for a self-registering anemometer, or rain-gauge, in connection with the new edifice. The latter had its origin in a few public-spirited individuals, who, in 1812, formed themselves into the Astronomical Institution, and circulated an address, written by their President, Professor Playfair, urging the necessity for its existence and progress. ? He used to state,? says Lord Cockburn, ? in order to show its necessity, that a foreign vessel had been lately compelled to take refuge in Leith, and that before setting sail again, the master wished to adjust his timepiece, but found that he had come to a large and learned metropolis, where nobody could tell him what o?clock it was.? A little to the east of the old institution, the new observatory was founded on the 25th April, I 8 I 8, by Sir George Mackenzie, Vice-President, from a Grecian design by W. H. Playfair, after the model of the Temple of the Winds, and consists of a central cross of sixty-two feet, with four projecting pedimentssupported bysix columns fronting the four points of the compass. The central dome, thirteen feet in diameter, contains a solid cone or pillar nineteen feet high, for the astronomical circle. To the east are piers for the transit instrument and astronomical clock; in the west end are others for the mural circle and clock. ? The original Lancastrian School,? says Lord Cockburn, ?? was a long wood and brick erection, stretched on the very top of the Calton Hill, where it was then the fashion to stow away anything that was too abominable to be tolerated elsewhere.?? , The great prison buildings of the city occupy the summit of the Doiv Craig, to which we have referred more than once. The first of these, the ? Bridewell,? was founded 30th November, 179r, by the Earl of Morton, Grand Master of Scotland, heading a procession which must have ascended the hill by the tortuous old street at the back of the present Convening Rooms. The usual coins and papers were enclosed in two bottles blown at the glass-house in Leith, and deposited in the stone, with a copper plate containing a long Latin inscription. The architect was Robert Adam. Prior to this the city had an institution of a similar kind, named the House of Correction, f a the reception of strolling poor and loose characters. It had been projected as far back as 1632, and the buildings therefor had been situated near Paul?s Work. Afterwards a building near the Charity Workhouse was used for the purpose, but being found too small, after a proposal to establish a new one at the foot of Forrester?s Wynd, the idea was abandoned, the present new one projected and camed out. It was finished in ~796, at the expense of the city and county, aided by a petty grant from Government. In front of it, shielded by a high wall and ponderous gate, on the street line, is the house for the governor. Semicircular in form, the main edifice has five floors, the highest being for stores and the hospital. All round on each floor, at the middle of the breadth, is a comdor, with cells on each side, lighted respectively from the interior and exterior of the curvature. Those on the inner are chiefly used as workshops, and can all be surveyed from a dark apartment in the house of the governor without the observer being visible. On the low floor is a treadmill, originally constructed for the manufacture of corks, but now mounted and moved only in cure of idleness or the punishnient of delinquency. The area within the circle is a small court, glazed overhead, The house is under good
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