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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


82 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [North Loch. whose windows perhaps the accident occurred ?that the fox will not set his foot on the ict after Candlenias, especially in the heat of the sun as this was, at two o?clock; and at any time tht fox is so sagacious as to lay his ear on the icf to see if it be frozen to the bottom, or if he heal the murmuring and current of the water.? In I 7 I 5, when the magistrates took measures foi the defence of the city, the sluice of the loch was completely dammed up to let the water rise, a pre. caution omitted by their successors in 1745. Ir Edgar?s plan, twenty years later, the bed of thc loch is shown as ?? now devised,? measuring 1,70c feet in length, from the foot of Xamsay Garden tc the foot of Halkerston?s Wynd, and 400 feet broad at the foot of the gardens below the Advocate?s Close. From the upper point to the West Church the bed is shown as ?bog or marsh.? ? Yet many in common with myself,? says Chambers, ?must remember the by no means distant time when the remains of this sheet oi water, consisting of a few pools, served as an ex. cellent sliding and skating ground in winter, while their neglected, grass-grown precincts too fre quently formed an arena whereon the high and mighty quarrels of the Old and New Town cowZie3 were brought to lapidarian arbitration j ? and until a very recent period woodcocks, snipe, and waterducks used to frequent the lower part of the West Princes Street Gardens, attracted by the damp oi the locality. ?? The site of the North Loch,? says a writer in the Edinburgh Magazine for 1790, ?is disgusting below as well as above the bridge, and the balus trades of the east side ought to be filled up like those of the west, as they are only meant to show a beautiful stream, not slaughter-houses.? The statute for the improvement of the valley westward of the mound was not passed until 1816 ; but Lord Cockburn describes it as being then an impassable fetid marsh, ?open on all sides, the Teceptacle of many sewers, and seemingly of all the worried cats, drowned dogs, and blackguardism of the city, Its abomination made it so solitary that the volunteers used to practise ball-firing across it. The men stood on its north side, and the targets were set up along the lower edge of the castle hiil, or rock. The only difficulty was in getting across the swamp to place and examine the targets, which could only be done in very dry weather and at one or two places.? In the maps of 1798 a ?new mound? would seem to have been projected across it, at an angle, from South Castle Street to the Ferry Road, by the western base of the castle rock-a design, fortunately, never carried out. One of the greatest mistakes committed as a matter of taste was the erection of the Earthen Mound across the beautiful valley of the loch, from the end of Hanover Street to a point at the west end of Bank Street. It is simply an elongated hill, like a huge railway embankment, a clumsy, enormous, and unreniovzble substitute for a bridge which should have been there, and its creation has been deplored by every topographical writer on Edinburgh. Huge as the mass is, it originated in a very accidental operation. When the bed of the loch was in a state of marsh, a shopkeeper, Mr. George Boyd, clothier, at Gosford?s Close, in the old town, was frequently led from business or curiosity to visit the rising buildings of the new, and accommodated himself with ?? steps ? across this marsh, and he was followed in the construction of this path by other persons similarly situated, who contributed their quota of stone or plank to fill up, widen, and heighten what, in rude compliment to the founder, was becoming known as ?Geordie Boyd?s Mud Brig.? The inconvenience arising from the want of a direct communication between the old town and the new began to be seriously felt about 1781, when the latter had been built as far west as Hanover Street. Hence a number of residents, chiefly near the Lawnmarket, held a meeting in a small publichouse, kept by a man called Robert nunn, and called in burlesque, ?Dunn?s Hotel,? after a lashionable hotel of that name in Princes Street, and subscriptions were opened to effect a communication of some kind ; but few were required, zs Provost Grieve, who resided at the corner of Hanover Street, in order to fill up a quarry before his house, obtained leave to have the rubbish from the foundations of the various new streets laid down there. From that time the progress of the Mound proceeded with iapidity, and from 1781 till 1830 augmentations to its breadth and height were continually made, till it became the mighty mass it is. By the latter date the Mound had bezome levelled and macadamised, its sides sown with grass, and in various ways embellished so as to issume the appearance of being completed. It is ipwards of 800 feet in length, on the north upwards if 60 feet in height, and on the south about IOO feet. [ts breadth is proportionally much greater than its ieight, averaging about 300 feet. It is computed :o contain more than z,ooo,ooo of cartloads of ravelled edrth, and on the moderate supposition :hat each load, if paid for, was worth Gd., must iave cost the large sum of ~ 5 0 , 0 0 0 . It was first enclosed by rough stone walls, and
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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
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