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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


North Loch. J T,HE BOARD OF was almost a permanent place for caravans and wild beast shows. A row of miserable temporary workshops, and at one time a little theatre, dis. figured its western side. Among other edifices that were there until about 1850 was the huge wooden peristrophic Rotunda, which was first opened in 1823 to exhibit some great pictures of the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo. In the same year was laid the foundation of the Royal Institution, after the protracted and laborious process of driving about 2,000 piles into the site, to make firm the travelled earth at its southern end. Though founded in 1823, it was notfinally completed until 1836, after designs by W. H. Playfair, at a cost of ~40,000. As shown in the view on the next page, it was at first without enrichment in the pediments, and was finished above the cornice, by a plain parapet all round, with a base and moulding ; and had eight la?rge pedestals, intended for statues, against the walls, between the flat Grecian pilasters. The building was, however, subsequently largely altered and improved. It is in the pure Doric style of Pericles, and forms an oblong, nearly akin in character to that of a peripteral temple, with fluted columns all rising from a uniform base of steps, and surmounted by n pure Greek entablature. There projects from its north front a triple octostyle portico, and from its south front a double octostyle portico, and the pediments of both are filled with beautifully-carved Greek scroll-work and honeysuckle, From the flanks of these, at both ends, there projects a distyle poytico. Behind the apex of the northern portico, facing Hanover Street, is a colossal statue of Queen Victoria, seated, with crown, sceptre, and robes of state, sculptured by Steel. Eight sphinxes adorn the four angles of this stately edifice, which, like all others in the New Town, is built of pure white freestone, and contains a school of design, a gallery of sculpture, the antiquarian museum, the apartments of the Royal Society, and those of the Board of Trustees for Manufactures in Scotland. We shall treat of the last first. By the fifteenth article of the Treaty of Union with England, among other provisions for giving Scotland some equivalent for the increase of duties of Customs and Excise, it was agreed that for some years Az,ooo per annum should be applied by the new Imperial Parliament towards the encouragement and formation of manufactures in the coarse wool of those counties that produced it, and afterwards to be wholly employed towards ?? encouraging and promoting the fisheries and such other mmufactwes and improvements in Scotland as MANUFACTURES. 83 may conduce to the general good of the United Kingdom.? In 1718 this A2,ooo was made payable for ever out of the Customs and Excise in Scotland. In 1725 an addition was made to this sum by an Act which provided that when the produce of threepenceper bushel to be laid on malt should exceed ~ 2 0 , 0 0 0 per annum, such surplus should be added to it and applied to the same purposes, In 1726 the Crown was empowered to appoint twenty-one trustees, who were named in 1727 by letters patent, which prescribed their duties and the plan for expending the funds at their disposal in the encouragement of the woollen, linen, and hempen manufactures and the Scottish fisheries, which had always been fostered by the Stuart kings, as numeroys laws, enacted by the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Jameses, attest. Bitt in regarding a Scottish institution which now occupies a place so conspicuous in the eye of the public, it is curious to trace the difficulties it had to contend with, in consequence of the lack of local government and the monetary vacuum caused byaconflict between the banks. On the 26th of June, I 7 28, Duncan Forbes, then Lord Advocate, wrote to the Duke of Newcastle :-? The trustees appointed by His Majesty for taking care of the manufactures proceed with great zeal and industry ; but at present credit is run so low, by a struggle between the bank lately erected by His Majesty and the old bank, that money can scarcely be found to go to market with.? Matters, however, improved, and the activity and use of the Board were shown in the promotion of the linen manufacture, which, under the stimulus given by premiums, rose from an export sale of 2,183,978 yards in 1727 to 4,666,011 yards in 1738, 3,358,098 yards in 1748, and 12,823,048 yards in 1764. In 1766 the trustees opened a hall in Edinburgh (The British Linen Hall) for the custody and sale of Scottish linens, which the owners thereof might sell, either personally or by their factors. ?For whatever period the goods should remain in the hall unsold,? says Amot, ? their respective owners pay nothing to the proprietors of the hall; but upon their being sold, 5 per cent. upon the value of the linens sold is demanded by way of rent. As the opening of this hall was found to be attended with good consequences to the linen manufactures, so in 1776 the trustees extended it upon the same terms to the woollen manufactures of Scotland.? Under these trustees and their successors the business of the Board was camed on until 1828
Volume 3 Page 83
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