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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


336 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Nicolson Stret. brated chemist, Dr. Joseph Black, who, as we have elsewhere stated, was found dead in his chair in November, 1799, and whose high reputation contributed so largely in his time to the growing fame of our University. The institution was first suggested by the celebrated Dr. Thomas Blacklock, who lost his sight before he was six months old, and by Mr. David Miller, also a sufferer from blindness ; but it was chiefly through the exertions of Dr. David Johnsales of the above kinds of work have in some years amounted to ;C;IO,OOO, and in 1880 to &18,724 8s., notwithstanding the general depression of trade ; but this was owing to the Government contract for brushes.' Hence the directors have been enabled to make extensive alterations and improvements to a large amount. The asylum has received a new and elegant fapde, surmounted by stone-faced dormer windows, a handsome cornice, and balustrade, with a large THE MAHOGANY LAND, POTTERROW, 1821. (Ajtecr a Paintinc ay W. McEwan, in the #osscsaim of Dr. ].A. Sidey.) stone, the philanthropic minister of North Leith, aided by a subscription of only A20 from the great Wilberforce, that the asylum was founded in 1793, ip one of the dingy old houses of Shakespeare Square, into which nine blind persons were received; but the public patronage having greatly increased, in 1806 the present building, No. 58, was purchased, acd in 1822 another house, No. 38, was bought for the use of the female blind. The latter are employed in sewing the covers for mattresses and feather beds, knitting stockings, Src. The males are employed in making mattresses, mats, ,brushes, baskets of every kind, in weaving sacking, matting, and " rag-carpets.'' No less than eighteen looms are employed in this work. The central doorway, in a niche above which is a bust of Dr. David Johnstone, the founder, from the studio of the late Handyside Ritchie. The inmates seem to spend a very merry life, for though the use of their eyes has been denied them, they have no restriction placed upon their tongues ; thus, whenever two or three of them are together, they are constantly talking, or singing their national songs. A chapel is attached to the works, and therein, besides regular morning worship, the blind hold large meetings in connection with the various benefit societies they have established among themselves. The younger lads who come from the Blind School at Craigmillar, and are employed here,
Volume 4 Page 336
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