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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


Leith Wynd.] THE TRINITY HOSPITAL. 307 was abandoned. At length, as stated, Robert Pont, in. 1585, resigned all his rights and interests in the establishment, for the sum of 300 merks down, and an annuity of A160 Scots. In 1587 an Act was passed revoking all grants made during the king?s minority, of hospitals, Maiso?ss Dieu, and ? lands or rentis appertaining thereto,? the object of which was, that they might be applied to this original purpose-the sustentation of the poor, and not to the aggrandisement of mere individuals ; and in this Act it was specially ordained, that the rents of the Trinity College, ? quhilk is now decayit,? be .assigned to ? the new hospital1 erectit be the Provest, Baillies, and Counsall;? and thus it became for ever a corporation charity, for which a suitable edifice was found by simply repairing the ruinous buildings, occupied of old by the Provost and prebends, south of the church, and on the west side of the wynd. It was a fine specimen of the architecture and monastic accommodation of the age in which it was erected. It was two storeys high, and formed two sides of a square, and though far from ornamental, its air of extreme antiquity, the smallness and depth of its windows, its silent, melancholy, and deserted aspect, in the very heart of a crowded city, and latterly amid the uproar and bustle of the fast-encroaching railway, seldom failed to strike the passer with a mysterious interest. Along the interior of the upper storey of the longer side there was a gallery, about half the width of the house, lighted from the west, which served alike as a library (consisting chiefly of quaint old books of dry divinity), a promenade, and grand corridor, winged with a range of little rooms, some whilom the prebends? cells, each of which had a bed, table, and chair, for a single occupant The other parts of the building were more modem sitting rooms, the erection of the sixteenth century, when it became destined to support decayed burgesses of Edinburgh, their wives and unmarried children, above fifty years of age. ?Five men and two women were first admitted into it,? says h o t , ? and, the number gradually increasing, amounted AD. 1700 to fifty-four persons. It was found, however, that the funds of the hospital could not then support so many, and the number of persons maintained in it,has frequently varied. At present (?779) there are within the hospital forty men and women, and, there are besides twentysix out-pensioners. The latter have E 6 a year, the former are maintained in a very comfortable manner. Each person has a convenient room. The men are each allowed a hat, a pair of breeches, a pair of shoes, a pair of stackings, two shirts, and two neckcloths, yearly; and every other year a coat?and waistcoat The women have yearly, a pair of shoes, pair of stockings, two shifts; and every other year a gown and petticoat. For buying petty necessaries the men are allowed 6s. Sd., the women 6s. 6d., yearly. Of food, each person has a daily allowance of twelve ounces of household bread; and of ale, the men a Scots pint each, the women two-thirds of a pint. For breakfast they have oatmeal-porridge, and for dinner, four days in the week, broth and boiled meat, two days roast meat, and each Monday, in lieu of flesh, the men are allowed zd., the women rid. apiece.? Such was this old charity towards the close of the eighteenth century. The inmates were of a class above the common, and whom a poor-house life would have degraded, yet quarrels, even riots, among them were 80 frequent, that the attention of the governors had more than once to be called to the subject, though they met only at meals and evening worship. Yet, occasionally, some belonged to the better classes of society. Lord Cockburn, writing in 1840, says:-?One of the present female pensioners is ninety-six. She was sitting beside her own fire. The chaplain shook her kindly by the hand, and asked her how she was. ? Very weel-just in my creeping ordinary.? There is one Catholic here, a merry little woman, obviously with some gentle blood in her veins, and delighted to allude to it. This book she got from Sir John Something ; her great friend had been Lady something Cunningham ; and her spinet was the oldest that had ever been made ; to convince me of which she opened it, and pointed exultingly to the year I 776. Neither she nor the ninety-six-year-old was in an ark, but in a small room. On overhearing my name, she said she was once at Miss Brandon?s boarding-school, in Bristo Street, with a Miss Matilda Cockburn, ? a pretty little girl.? I told her that I remembered that school quite well, and that the little girl was my sister ; and then I added as a joke, that all the girls at that school were said to have been pretty, and all light-headed, and given to flirtation ; the tumult revived in the vestal?s veins. Delighted with the imputation, she rubbed her hands together, and giggled till she wept.? The octogenarian he refers to was a Miss Gibb, and the last nearly of the old original inmates. By 1850 the revenues amounted to about #,ooo per annum. At its demolition, in 1845, forty-two persons were maintained within the hospital, who then received pensions of A26 each. Those elected since that period receive L20 yearly each; one hundred and twenty others have an annual allowance
Volume 2 Page 307
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