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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


I44 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [George Street. -- already been made in the account of that institution, of which he was the distinguished head. Opposite is a new building occupied as shops and chambers ; and the vast Elizabethan edifice near it is the auction rooms of Dowel1 and Co., built in 1880. The Mercaitile Bank of India, London, and China occupies No. 128, formerly the mansion of Sir James Hall of Dunglass, Bart., a man in his time eminent for his high attainments in geological and chemical science, and author of popular but peculiar works on Gothic architecture. By his wife, Lady Helena Douglas, daughter of Ddnbar, Earl of Selkirk, he had three sons and three daughters-his second son being the well-known Captain Basil Hall, R.N. While retaining his house in George Street, Sir James, between 1808 and 1812, represented the Cornish borough of St. Michael?s in Parliament. He died at Edinburgh, after a long illness, on the z3rd of June, 1832. Collaterally with him, another distiiiguished baronet, Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, was long the occupant of No. 133, to the print of whom Kay appends the simple title of ?The Scottish Patriot,? and never was it more appropriately applied. To attempt even an outline of his long, active, and most useful life, would go far beyond our limits ; suffice it to say, that his ? Code of Agriculture? alone has been translated into nearlyevery European language. He was born at Thurso in 1754, and so active had been his mind, so vast the number of his scientific pursuits and objects, that by 1797 he began to suffer seriously from the effects of his over-exertions, and being thus led to consider the subject of health generally, he published, in 1803, a quarto pamphlet, entitled ? Hints on Longevity? -afterwards, in 1807, extended to four volumes 8vo. In 1810 he was made a Privy Councillor, and in the following year, under the administration of the unfortunate Mr. Perceval, was appointed Cashier of Excise for Scotland. On retiring from Parliament, he was succeeded as member for Caithness by his son. He resided in Edinburgh for the last twenty years of his life, and died at his house in George Street in December, 1835, jn his eighty-first year, and was interred in the Chapel Royal at Holyrood. By his first wife he had two children j by tbe second, Diana, daughter of Lord Macdonald, he had thirteen, one of whom, Julia, became Countess of Glasgow. All these attained a stature like his own, so great-being nearly all above six feet-that he was wont playfully to designate the pavement before No. 133 as ?? The Giants? Causeway.? Sir. John was twice married. St. Andrew?s church stands zoo feet westward if St. Andrew?s Square; it is a plain building of ival form, with a handsome portico, having four ;reat Corinthiafi pillars, and built, says Kincaid, iom a design of Major Fraser, of the Engineers, whose residence was close by it. It was erected .n 178s. It was at first proposed to have a spire of some iesign, now unknown, between the portico and thc body of the church, and for a model of this a young man of the city, named M?Leish, received a premium of sixty guineas from the magistrates, with the freedom of the city j but on consideration, his design ? was too great in proportion to the space left for its base.? So the present spire, which is 168 feet in height, and for its sky-line is one of the most beautiful in the city, was designed by Major Andrew Fraser, who declined to accept any premium, suggesting that it should be awarded to Mr. Robert Kay, whose designs for a square church on the spot were most meritorious. The last stone of the spire was placed thereon on the 23rd of November, 1787. A chime of bells was placed in it, 3rd June, 1789, ?to be rung in the English manner.? The dimensions of this church, as given by Kincaid, are, within the walls from east to west eighty-seven feet, and from north to south sixtyfour feet. ?The front, consisting of a staircase and portico, measures forty-one feet, and projects twenty-six and a half feet.? The entrance is nine feet in height by seven feet in breadth. This parish was separated from St. Cuthbert?s in 1785, and since that date parts of it have been assigned to other parishes of more recent erection as the population increased. The church cost A7,000, and is seated for about 1,053. The charge was collegiate, and is chiefly remarkable for the General Assembly?s meeting in 1843, at which occurred the great Disruption, or exodus of the Free Church-one of the most important events in the modern history of Scotland or of the United Kingdom. It originated in a zealous movement of the Presbyterian Church, mainly promoted by the great Chalmers, to put an end to the connection between Church and State. In 1834 the Church had passed a law of its own, ordaining that thenceforth no presentee to a parish should be admitted if opposed by the majority of the male communicants-a law which struck at the system of patronage restored after the Union-a system involving importint1 civil rights. When the Annual Assembly met in St. Andreds Church, in May, 1843, it was generally understood
Volume 3 Page 144
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