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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


94 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Mourd of the sums set down in their respective subscriptions towards carrying on the bank, and all and every the persons subscribing and paying to. the said stock as aforesaid shall be, and hereby are declared to be, one body corporate and politic, by the name and company of THE BANK OF SCOTLAND,? etc. The charter, while detailing minutely all that the bank may do in the way of lending money and giving laws for its internal government, fails to define in any way the liability of the shareholders to each other or to the public. For the space of twenty-one years it was to be free from all public burdens, and during that time all other persons in the realm of Scotland are prohibited from setting up any rival company. To preclude the breaking of the bank contrary to the object in view, it is declared that the sums of the present subscriptions and shares may only be conveyed and transmitted by the owners to others who shall become partners in their place, or by adjudication or other legal means. It is also provided by the charter that aH foreigners on acquiring the bank stock must become ? naturalised Scotsmen, to all intents and! purposes whatsoever,? a privilege that became abused, and was abolished in 1822. The charter further ordains that no member of the said company shall, upon any ? pretence whatever, directly or indirectly, use, exercise, or follow any other traffic or trade with the said joint stock to be employed in the said bank, or any part thereof, or profits arising therefrom, excepting the trade of lending 2nd borrowing money upon interest, and negotiating bills of exchange, allenarly [i.e., these things only], and no other.? By various subsequent statutes the capital of this bank was increased till it stood nominally at ~1,500,000, a third of which has not been called ; and by the Act 36 and 37 Victoria, cap. gg, further powers to raise capital were granted, without the Act being taken advantage of. The additional amount authorised is ~3,000,000, which would give a total capital of A~,~OO,OOO sterling. The monopoly conferred on the bank by the Parliament of Scotland was not renewed at the expiry of the first twenty-one years; and on its being found that banking business was on the increase, another establishment, the Royal Bank of Scotland, was chartered in 1727, and immediately became the rival of its predecessor. ?It purchased up,? says Amot, ?all the notes of the Bank of Scotland that they (the directors) could lay hands on, and caused such a run upon this bank as reduced them to considerable difficulties. To avoid such distresses for the future, the Bank of Scotland, on the 29th of November, 1730, began to issue 6 5 notes, payable on demand, or 65 2s. 6d. six months after their being presented for payment, in the option of the bank. On the 12th of December, 1732, they began to issue AI notes with a similar clause.? The other banking companies in Scotland found it convenient to follow the example, and universally framed their notes with these optional clauses. They were issued for the most petty sums, and were currently accepted in payment, insomuch that notes for five shillings were perfectly common, and silver was, in a manner, banished from Scotland. To remedy these banking abuses, an Act of the British Parliament was passed in 1765, prohibiting all promissory notes payable to the bearer under 61 sterling, and also prohibiting and! declaring void all the optional clauses. In the year 1774, when the Bank of Scotlan& obtained an Act to enlarge their capital to ~2,400,000 Scots, or ;~ZOO,OOO sterling, a clause provided that no individual should possess in whole, or more than, ~ 4 0 , 0 0 0 in stock, and the qualification for the offices of governor and directors was doubled. The present offices of the Bank of Scotland were completed from the original design in 1806 by Mr. Richard Cnchton, and the institution was moved thither in that year from the old, narrow, and gloomy close where it had transacted business for one hundred and eleven years. In digging the foundation of this edifice, the same obstacle came in the way that eventually occasioned the fall of the North Bridge. After excavating to a great depth, no proper foundation could be found-all being travelled earth. The quantity of this carted away was such that the foundations of some of the houses in the nearest closes were shaken and their walls rent, so that the occupants had to remove. A solid foundation was at last found, and the vast structure was reared at the cost of L75,ooo. T h e quantity of stone and mortar which IS buried below the present surface is immense, and perhaps as much of the building is below the ground as above it,? says Stark in 1820. ?The dead wall on the north of the edifice, where the declivity is greatest, is covered by a stone curtain,. ornamented with a balustrade. The south front is. elegant. A small dome rises from the centre, and in the front are four projections. A range of Connthian pilasters decorates the second floor, and over the door in the recess is a Venetian window, ornamented with two columns of the Corinthian order, surmounted by the arms of the bank.?
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THE FREE CHURCH COLLEGE. 95 The Mound.] Much of all this was altered when the bank was enlarged, restored, and most effectively re-decorated by David Bryce, R.S.A., in 1868-70. It now presents a lofty, broad, and arch-based rear front of colossal proportions to Princes Street, from whence, and every other poiiit of view, it forms a conspicuous mass, standing boldly from among the many others that form the varied outline of the Old Town, and consists of the great old centre with new wings, surmounted by a fine dome, crowned by a gilded figure of Fame, seven feet high. In length the facade measures 175 feet; and 112 in height from the pavement in Bank Street to the summit, and is embellished all round with much force and variety, in details of a Grecian style. The height of the campanile towers is ninety feet. The bank has above seventy branches ; the subscribed capital in 1878 was A1,875,000 ; the paidup capital LI,Z~O,OOO. There are a governor (the Earl of Stair, K.T.), a deputy, twelve ordinary and twelve extra-ordinary directors. The Bank of Scotland issues drafts on other places in Scotland besides those in which it has branches, and also on the chief towns in England and Ireland, and it has correspondents throughout the whole continent of Europe, as well as in British America, the States, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and elsewhere-a ramification of business beyond the wildest dreams oi John Holland and the original projectors of the establishment in the old Bank Close in 1695. Concerning the Earthen Mound, the late Alex. ander Trotter of Dreghorn had a scheme foi joining the Qld Town to the New, and yet avoiding Bank Street, by sinking the upper end of the mound to the leve! of Princes Street, and carrying the Bank Street end of it eastward along the north of the Bank of Scotland, in the form of a handsomc terrace, and thence south into the High Street b) an opening right upon St. Giles?s Church. Thf next project was one by the late Sir Thomas Dick Lauder. He also proposed to bring down thc south end of the mound ?to the level of Prince; Street, and then to cut a Roman arch through thc Lawnmarket and under the houses, so as to pas! on a level to George Square. This,? say! Cockburn, ?was both practical and easy, but i was not expounded till too late.?? Not far from the Bank of Scotland, in I( North Bank Street, ensconced among the might! mass of buildings that overlook the mound, arc the offices of the National Security Savings Ban1 of.Edinburgh, established under statute in 1836, an( certified in terms of the Act 26 and 27 Victoria cap. 87, managed by a chairman and cominittel I if management, the Bank of Scotland being reasurer. Of this most useful institution for the benefit of ,he thrifty poorer classes, suffice it to say, as a ample of its working, that on striking the yearly iccounts on the 20th of November, 1880, ?the balance due to depositors was on that date &r,305,27g 14s. 7d., and that the assets at the same date were x1,3og,3g2 Ss., invested with the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt, and A3,1o4 3s. gd., at the credit of the 3ank?s account in the Bank of Scotland, making the total assets L1,312,496 11s. gd., which, after ieductionof the above sum of L1,305,279 14s. 7d., leaves a clear surplus of A7916 17s. zd. at the :redit of the trustees.? The managers are, ex oficio, the Lord Provost, the Lord Advocate, the senior Bailie of the city, :he Members of Parliament for the city, county, md Leith, the Provost of Leith, the Solicitor- General, the Convener of the Trades, the Lord Dean of Guild, and the Master of the Merchant Company. In the sanie block of buildings are the offices of the Free Church of Scotland, occupying the site of the demolished half of James?s Court. They were erected in 1851-61, and are in a somewhat Rorid variety of the Scottish baronial style, from designs by the late David Cousin. In striking contrast to the terraced beauty of the New Town, the south side of the vale of the old loch, from the North Bridge to the esplanade of the Castle, is overhung by the dark and lofty gables and abutments of those towering edifices which terminate the northern alleys of the High Street, and the general grouping of which presents an aspect of equal romance and sublimity. From amid these sombre masses, standing out in the white purity of new freestone, are the towers and facade of the Free Church College and Assembly Hall, at the head of the Mound. Into the history of the crises which called these edifices into existence we need not enter here, but true it is, as Macaulay says, that for the sake of religious opinion the Scots have made sacrifices for which there is no parallel in the annals of England; and when, at the Disruption, so many clergymen of the Scottish Church cast their bread upon the waters, in that spirit of independence and self-reliance so characteristic of the race, they could scarcely have foreseen the great success of their movement. This new college was the first of those instituted in connection with the Free Church. The idea was origipally entertained of making provision for
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