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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


University.] THE COLLEGE BUILDINGS. 21 ORIGINAL PLAN OF THE PRINCIPAL STOREY OF THE NEW BUILDING FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH. (Ftonr fhe Plafe in ?The Works in Architcchrrc of Robed andfams Adam,? L a b , 1788-1Saz. For Refirewes seep. 27.)
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22 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [University. that young men are sent here from Ireland, from Flanders, and even from Russia ; and the English of the true old stamp prefer having their sons here, than in Oxford and Cambridge, in order to remove them from the luxury and enormous expense which prevail in these places.? In the olden time, as now, a silver mace was borne before the principal. The original was one of six, traditionally said to have been found, in the year 1683, in the tomb of Bishop Kennedy, at St. Andrews. Two of these are now preserved there, in the Divinity College of St. Mary?s ; one, of gorgeous construction, is now in the College of St. Salvator, and the other three were respectively presented to the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. They are supposed to have been constructed for Bishop Kennedy in 1461, by a goldsmith of Paris named Mair. From Kincaid we learn that, unfortunately, the silver mace given to the Edinburgh University was stolen, and never recovered, though a handsome reward was offered; and on the 2nd October, 1788, a very ornamental new one was presented to the senatus by the Magistrates, as patrons of the University. Halls and suites of chambers had been added to the latter from time to time by private citizens ; but no regular plan was adopted, and till the time of their demolition the old College buildings presented a rude assemblage of gable-ended and crowstepped edifices, of various dates, and little pretension to ornament. So early as 1763 a ?memorial relating to the University of Edinburgh ? was drawn up by one of its professors, containing a proposal for the rebuilding of the College on the site of the old buildings, and on a regular plan j voluntary contributions were to be received from patriotic individuals, and, under proper persons, places were opened for public subscriptions. The proposal was not without interest for a time ; but the shadow of the ? dark age ? lay still upon Edinburgh. The means proved insufficient to realise the project; thus it was laid aside till more favourable times should come; but the interval of the American war seemed to render it hopeless of achievement. In 1785, however, the design was again brought before the public in a spirited letter, addressed to the Right Hon. Henry Dundas (afterwards Viscount Melville), ?? On the proposed improvements of the city of Edinburgh, and on the means of accomplishing them.? Soon after this, the magistrates set on foot a subscription for erecting a new structure, according to a design prepared by the celebrated architect, Robert Adam. Had his plans been carried out in their integrity, the present structure would have been much more imposing and magnificent than it is ; but it was found, after the erection began to progress, that funds failed, and a curtailment of the original design became necessary. After a portion of the old buildings had been pulled down, the foundation stone of the new college was laid on the 16th of November, 1789, by Lord Napier, as Grand Master Mason of Scotland, the lineal descendant of the great inventor of the logarithms. The ceremony on this occasion was peculiarly impressive. The streets were lined by the 35th Regiment and the old City Guard. There were present the Lord Provost, Thomas Elder of Forneth, the whole bench of magistrates in their robes, with the regalia of the city, the Principal (Robertson, the historian), and the entire Senatus Academicus, in their gowns, with the new silver mace borne before them, all the students wearing laurel in their hats, Mr. Schetkey?s band of singers, and all the Masonic lodges, with their proper insignia. Many Scottish nobles and gentry were in the procession, which started from the Parliament Square, and passing by the South Bridge, reached the site at one o?clock, amid 30,000 spectators. The foundation stone was laid in the usual form, and, amid prayer, corn, oil, and wine were poured upon it. Two crystal bottles, cast on purpose at the Glass House of Leith, were deposited in the cavity, containing coins of the reigning sovereign, cased in crystal. These were placed in one bottle; in the other were deposited seven rolls of vellum, containing an account of the original foundation and the then state of the university. The bottles, being carefully sealed up, were covered with a plate of copper wrapped in block tin. On these were engraved the arms of the city, of the university, and of Lord Napier. The inscription on the plate was as follows, but in Latin :- ? By the blessing of Almighty God, in the reign of the most magnificent Prince George III., the buildings of the University of Edinburgh, being originally very mean, and almost a ruin, the Right Hon. Francis Lord Napier, Grand Master of the Fraternity of Freemasons in Scotland, amid the acclamations of a prodigious concourse of all ranks of people, laid the foundation stone of this new fabric, in which a union of elegance with convenience, suitable to the dignity of such a celebrated seat of learning, has been studied. On the 16th day of November, in the year of our Lord 1789, and of the era of Masonry 5789, Thomas
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