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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


Gmrge Street.] THE COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS. I47 of the college, which had entire control over ?the drugs of apothecaries and chemists. It further protected Fellows from sitting on juries. Under this charter the college continued to discharge its functions for many years, although it eventually abandoned in practice the exclusive rights conferred on it, and ceased to exercise any inspection over the shops of apothecaries as the changes of social position and necessity caused many of the provisions to fall into abeyance. Having become sensible of the advantages that would accrue to it from a new charter, to the end that it might be free from the obligation of admitting to its license all Scottish University graduates without examination, to get rid of the clause prohibiting, its connection with a medical school, and further, that it might have the power of expelling unworthy members, a new charter was prepared in 1843, but, after a great many delays and readjustments, was not obtained until the 16th of August, 1861. The first president of the institution was Dr. Archibald Stevenson, who was elected on the 8th of December, 1681, and held the chair till 1684; his successor was Sir Robert Sibbald (of the house of Balgonie), an eminent physician, naturalist, and antiquary, who graduated in medicine at Leyden in 1661 ; but from the time of his election there is a hiatus in the records till the 30th of November, 1693, when we again find in the chair Dr. Archibald Stevenson, with the then considerable honour of knighthood. It was when Sir Thomas Burnet, author oi U Thesaurus Mediam Pructice,? London, I 673, was president, in 1696-8, that we find it recorded that certain ruinous buildings bordering on the Cowgate were converted by the college ?? into a pavilion-shaped cold bath, which was open to the inhabitants generally, at a charge for each ablution of twelve shillings Scots, and one penny to the servant; but those who subscribed one guinea annually might resort to. it as often as they pleased.? Under the presidency of Dr. John Drumrnond, in 1722, a new hall was erected in the gardens at Fountain Close ; but proving insufficient, the college was compelled to relinquish certain plans for an edifice, offered by Adam the architect, and to find a temporary asylum in the Royal Infirmary. In 1770 the premises at Fountain Close were sold for A800 ; more money was raised by mortgage and other means, and the hall we have described was erected in George Street, only to be relinquished in time, after about seventy years? occupancy. ?The same poverty,? says the ?Historical Sketch,? ? which had prevented the college from availing itself of the plans of Adam, and which had caused it to desire to part with its new hall in George Street, even before its occupation, still pressed heavily upon it. Having at that time no funded capital, it was entirely dependent on the entrancefees paid by Fellows, a fluctuating and inadequate source of income. Besides, beautiful as the George Street hall was in its outward proportions, its internal arrangements were not so convenient as might have been desired, and it is therefore not to be wondered at that when the college found their site was coveted by a wealthy banking corporation their poverty and not their will consented ; and in 1843 the George Street hall was sold to the Commercial Bank for Azo,ooo-a sum which it was hoped would suffice to build a more comfortable if less imposing, hall, and leave a surplus to secure a certain, though possibly a small, annual income. Although the transaction was obviously an advantageous one for the college, it was not without some difficulty that many of the Fellows made up their minds to part with a building of which they were justly proud.? The beautiful hall was accordingly demolished to the foundation stone, in which were found the silver medals and other relics now in possession of the college, which rented for its use No. 121, George Street till the completion of its new hall, whither we shall shortly follow k. On its site was built, in 1847, the Commercial Bank, an imposing structure of mingled Greek and Roman character, designed by David Rhind, an architect of high reputation. The magnificent portico is hexastyle. There are ninety-five feet in length of fapde, the columns are thirty-five feet in height, with an entablature of nine feet ; the pediment is fifteen feet six inches in height, and holds in its tympanum a beautiful group of emblematic sculpture from the chisel of A. Handyside Ritchie, which figures on the notes of the bank. It has a spacious and elegant telling-room, surrounded by tall Corinthian pillars, with a vaulted roof, measuring ninety feet by fifty. The Commercial Bank of Scotland and the National Bank of Scotland have been incorporated by royal charter ; but as there is no Qubt about their being unlimited, they are considered, with the Scottish joint stock banks, of recent creation. The deed of partnership of the Commercial Bank is dated gist October, 1810, but subsequent alterations have taken place, none of which, however, in any way affect the principle named and confirmed in the charter. The capital of the bank was declared at ~3,000,000 j but only, a thud of
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