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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


146 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [George Smn could be done.? On leaving the church, the protestors proceeded to Tanfield Hall, Canonmills, where they formed themselves into ?The General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland,? and chose Thomas Chalmers, D.D., as their moderator; so ?? the bush burned, but was not consumed.? It was a remarkable instance of the emphatic assertion of religious principle in an age of material things of which St. Andrew?s church was the scene on the 18th of May. It was no sacrifice of blood or life or limb that was exacted, or rendered, as in the days of ?a broken covenant ;? but it was one well calculated to excite the keenest emotions of the people-for all these clergymen, with their families, cast their bread upon the waters, and those who witnessed the dark procession that descended the long steep street towards Tanfield Hall never forgot it. Opposite this church there was built the old Physicians? Hall-the successor of the still more ancient one near the Cowgate Port. The members of that college feued from the city a large area, extending between the south side of George Street and Rose Street, on which they erected a very handsome hall, with rooms and offices, from a design by Mr. Craig, the architect of the new city itself. The foundation stone was laid by Professor Cullen, long a distinguished ornament of the Edinburgh University, on the 27th November, I 775, after a long discussion concerning two other sites offered by the city, one in George Square, the other where now the Scott monument stands. In the stone was placed a parchment containing the names of the then fellows, several coins of 1771, md a large silver medal. There was also another silver medal, with the arms of the city, and an inscription bearing that it had been presented by the city to Mr. Craig, in compliment to his professional talents in 1767, as follows :- JACOBO CRAIG, AHCHITECTO, PROPTER OPT1 IM U M, EDINBURGI NOVI ICHNOGRAPHIUM, D.D. SENATUS, EDINBURGENSIS, MDCCLXVII. This building, now numbered among the things that were, had a frontage of eighty-four feet, and had a portico of four very fine Corinthian columns, standing six feet from the wall upon a flight of steps seven feet above the pavement. The sunk floor, which was all vaulted, contained rooms for the librarian and other officials ; the entrance floor consisted of four great apartments opening frcm a noble vestibule, with a centre of thirty-five feet : one was for the ordinary meetings of the college, and another was an ante-chamber; but the principal apartment was the library-a room upwards of fifty feet long by thirty broad, lighted by two rows of windows, five in each row, facing Rose Street, and having a gilded gallery on three sides. On this edifice A4,800 was spent. In 1781, the library, which had been stored up in the Royal Infirmary, was removed to the hall, when the collection, which now greatly exceeds 6,000 volumes, was still comparatively in its infancy. Dr. Archibald Stevenson was the first librarian, and was appointed in 1683 ; in 1696 a law was enacted that every entrant should contribute at least one book to the library, which was increased in 1705 ? by the purchase of the books of the deceased Laird of Livingstone for about 300 merks Scots;? and the records show how year by year the collection has gone on increasing in extent, and in literary and scientific value. The two oldest names on the list of Fellows admitted are Peter Kello, date December IIth, 1682, and John Abernethy, whose diploma is dated June gth, 1683, granted at Orange, and admitted December qth, 1684, and a wonderful roll follows of names renowned in tke annals of medicine. The attempt to incorporate the practitioners of medicine in Scotland, for the purpose of raising alike the standard of their character and acquirements, originated in 1617, when James VI. issued an order in Parliament for the establishnient of a College of Physicians in Edinburgh-an order which recites the evils suffered by the community from the intrusion of uhqualified practitioners. He further suggested that three members of the proposed college should yearly visit the apothecaries? shops, and destroy all bad or insufficient drugs found therein ; but the year 1630 came, and found only a renewal of the proposal for a college, referred to the Privy Council by Charles I. But the civil war followed, and nothing more was done till 1656, when Cromwell issued a patent, still extant, initiating a college of physicians in Scotland, with the powers proposed by James VI. Years passed on, and by the opposition principally of the College of Surgeons, the universities, the municipality, and even the clergy, the charter of incorporation was not obtained until 1681, when the great seal of Scotland was appended to it on St, Andrew?s day. Among other clauses therein was one to enforce penalties on the unqualified who practised medicine; another for the punishment of all licentiates who might violate the laws
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Gmrge Street.] THE COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS. I47 of the college, which had entire control over ?the drugs of apothecaries and chemists. It further protected Fellows from sitting on juries. Under this charter the college continued to discharge its functions for many years, although it eventually abandoned in practice the exclusive rights conferred on it, and ceased to exercise any inspection over the shops of apothecaries as the changes of social position and necessity caused many of the provisions to fall into abeyance. Having become sensible of the advantages that would accrue to it from a new charter, to the end that it might be free from the obligation of admitting to its license all Scottish University graduates without examination, to get rid of the clause prohibiting, its connection with a medical school, and further, that it might have the power of expelling unworthy members, a new charter was prepared in 1843, but, after a great many delays and readjustments, was not obtained until the 16th of August, 1861. The first president of the institution was Dr. Archibald Stevenson, who was elected on the 8th of December, 1681, and held the chair till 1684; his successor was Sir Robert Sibbald (of the house of Balgonie), an eminent physician, naturalist, and antiquary, who graduated in medicine at Leyden in 1661 ; but from the time of his election there is a hiatus in the records till the 30th of November, 1693, when we again find in the chair Dr. Archibald Stevenson, with the then considerable honour of knighthood. It was when Sir Thomas Burnet, author oi U Thesaurus Mediam Pructice,? London, I 673, was president, in 1696-8, that we find it recorded that certain ruinous buildings bordering on the Cowgate were converted by the college ?? into a pavilion-shaped cold bath, which was open to the inhabitants generally, at a charge for each ablution of twelve shillings Scots, and one penny to the servant; but those who subscribed one guinea annually might resort to. it as often as they pleased.? Under the presidency of Dr. John Drumrnond, in 1722, a new hall was erected in the gardens at Fountain Close ; but proving insufficient, the college was compelled to relinquish certain plans for an edifice, offered by Adam the architect, and to find a temporary asylum in the Royal Infirmary. In 1770 the premises at Fountain Close were sold for A800 ; more money was raised by mortgage and other means, and the hall we have described was erected in George Street, only to be relinquished in time, after about seventy years? occupancy. ?The same poverty,? says the ?Historical Sketch,? ? which had prevented the college from availing itself of the plans of Adam, and which had caused it to desire to part with its new hall in George Street, even before its occupation, still pressed heavily upon it. Having at that time no funded capital, it was entirely dependent on the entrancefees paid by Fellows, a fluctuating and inadequate source of income. Besides, beautiful as the George Street hall was in its outward proportions, its internal arrangements were not so convenient as might have been desired, and it is therefore not to be wondered at that when the college found their site was coveted by a wealthy banking corporation their poverty and not their will consented ; and in 1843 the George Street hall was sold to the Commercial Bank for Azo,ooo-a sum which it was hoped would suffice to build a more comfortable if less imposing, hall, and leave a surplus to secure a certain, though possibly a small, annual income. Although the transaction was obviously an advantageous one for the college, it was not without some difficulty that many of the Fellows made up their minds to part with a building of which they were justly proud.? The beautiful hall was accordingly demolished to the foundation stone, in which were found the silver medals and other relics now in possession of the college, which rented for its use No. 121, George Street till the completion of its new hall, whither we shall shortly follow k. On its site was built, in 1847, the Commercial Bank, an imposing structure of mingled Greek and Roman character, designed by David Rhind, an architect of high reputation. The magnificent portico is hexastyle. There are ninety-five feet in length of fapde, the columns are thirty-five feet in height, with an entablature of nine feet ; the pediment is fifteen feet six inches in height, and holds in its tympanum a beautiful group of emblematic sculpture from the chisel of A. Handyside Ritchie, which figures on the notes of the bank. It has a spacious and elegant telling-room, surrounded by tall Corinthian pillars, with a vaulted roof, measuring ninety feet by fifty. The Commercial Bank of Scotland and the National Bank of Scotland have been incorporated by royal charter ; but as there is no Qubt about their being unlimited, they are considered, with the Scottish joint stock banks, of recent creation. The deed of partnership of the Commercial Bank is dated gist October, 1810, but subsequent alterations have taken place, none of which, however, in any way affect the principle named and confirmed in the charter. The capital of the bank was declared at ~3,000,000 j but only, a thud of
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