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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


150 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. LGeorge 2:rtet. of the first, accompanied by Major-General Hope and that famous old literary officer General Stewart of Garth, who had been wounded under its colours in Egypt; and nothing could surpxss the grand, even tearful, enthusiasm with which the veterans had been welcomed ?in every town and village through which their route from England lay. Early on the ~gth,? says the Scots Magazine, ?vast crowds were collected on the streets, in expectation of their arrival. The road as far as Musselburgh was crowded with people ; and as they approached the city, so much was their progress impeded by the multitude that their march from Piershill to the castle-less than two miles-occupied two hours. House-tops and windows were crowded with spectators, and as they passed along the streets, amid the ringing of bells, waving of flags, and the acclamation of thousands, their red and black plumes, tattered colours-emblems of their wellearned fame in fight-and glittering bayonets, were all that could be seen of these heroes, except by the few who were fortunate in obtaining elevated situations. The scene, viewed from the windows and house-tops, was the most extraordinary ever witnessed in this city. The crowds were wedged together across the whole breadth of the street, and extended in length as far as the eye could reach, and this motley throng appeared to tnove like a solid body, till the gallant Highlanders were safely lodged in the castle.? To the whole of the non-commissioned officers and privates a grand banquet by public subscription, under the superintendence of Sir Walter Scott, was given in the Assembly Room, and every man was presented with a free ticket to the Theatre Royal. Asimilar banquet and ovation was bestowed on the 78th or Ross-shire Buffs, who marched in a few days after. It was in the Assembly Rooms that Sir Walter Scott, on the 23rd February, 1827, at the annual dinner of the Edinburgh Theatrical Fund Association, avowed himself to be ?the Great Unknown,? acknowledging the authorship of the Waverley Novels-scarcely a secret then, as the recent exposure of Constable?s affairs had made the circumstance pretty well known, particularly in literary circles. In June 1841 a great public banquet was given to Charles Dickens in the Assembly Rooms, at which Professor Wilson presided, and which the novelist subsequently referred to as having been a source of sincere gratification to him. The rooms underwent considerable improvements in 1871 ; but two shops have always been in the basement storey, and the western of these . is now occupied by the Edinburgh branch of the ImperiaI Fire and Life Assurance Company. In immediate connection with the Assembly Rooms is the great music hall, built in 1843? at the cost of more than .&IO,OOO, It is a magnificent apartment, with a vast domed and panelled roof, 108 feet long by 91 feet broad, with orchestral accommodation for several hundred performers, and a powerful and splendid organ, by Hill of London. It is the most celebrated place in the city for public meetings. There, in 1853, was inaugurated by Lord Eglinton and others, the great Scottish Rights Association, the ultimate influence of which procured so many necessary grants of money for Scottish purposes; in 1859 the first Burns Centenary, and in 1871 the first Scott Centenary, were celebrated in this hall. There, tooJ has the freedom of the city been bestowed upon many great statesmen, soldiers, and others. There has Charles Dickens cften read his ?Christmas Carols? to delighted thousands ; and there it was that, in 1856, the great novelist and humourist, Thackeray, was publicly hissed down (to the marked discredit of his audience, be it said) in one of his readings, for making disparaging remarks on Mary Queen of Scots. The new Union Bank of Scotland is on the south side of tbe street, Commenced in 1874, it was finished in 1878, from designs by David Bryce, R.S.A. It is in the Tuscan style, with a frontage of more than IOO feet, and extends southwards to Rose Street Lane. It exhibits three storeys rising from a sunk basement, with their entrances, each furnished with a portico of Ionic columns. The first floor windows are flanked by pilasters, and furnished with entablatures and pediments ; the second floors have architraves, and moulded sills, while the wall-head is terminated by a bold cornice, supporting a balustrade. The telling-room is magnificent-fully eighty feet long by fifty feet broad, and arranged in a manner alike commodious and elegant. In the sunk basement is a library, with due provision of safes for various bank purposes, and thither removed, in 1879, the famous old banking house to which we have more than once had occasion to fefer, from its old quarters in the Parliament Square, which were then announced as for sale, with its fireproof interior ?of polished stone, with groined arches on the various floors ; its record rooms, book and bullion jafes of dressed stone, alike thief and fire proof.? Here we may briefly note that the Union Bank was incorporated in 1862, and its paid-up capital is .&I,OOO,OOO; but this bank is in reality of a much older date, and was originally known as the
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George Street.] THE MASONIC HALL. k5 1 Glasgow Union Bank Company, which dates from 1830; in 1843 the name was changed to the Union Bank of Scotland. ? As was stated by Mr. Gairdner to the Committee of the House of Commons on ?Banks of Issue? (1874), several private and public banks were incorporated from time to time in the Union: notably, the Thistle Bank of Glasgow in 1836, the Paisley Union Bank iri 1838, the Ayr Bank, the Glasgow Arms and Ship Gank in 1843, Sir William Forbes and J. Hunter and Co. in the same year. The Aberdeen Bank was also absorbed in the Union system in 1849, and the Perth Banking Company in 1857. The special general ;meeting ?or ? considering whether or not this bank should be registered under the Companies Act, 1862,? was called on the 10th December, 1862, but the bank had in fact %een so registered on the 3rd November of the same year. At the meeting, Sir John Stuart Forbes, Bart., was in the chair, and it was unanimously agreed ?that it is expedient that the bank register itself 9s an unliniited company under the Companies Act, 1862, and that the meeting do now assent to the. bank being so registered, and authorise the directors to take all necessary steps for carrying the motion into effect.? Opposite the Northern Club-3 mere plain dwelling-house-is the Masonic Hall and offices of the grand lodge of Scotland, No. 98, George Street. The foundation &one was laid on the 24th of June, 1858, with due masonic honours, by the Grand Master, the Duke of Athole, whose henchman, a bearded Celt of vast proportions, in Drumrnond tartan, armed with shield and claymore, attracted great attention. The streets were lined by the i7th Lancers and the Staffordshire Militia. The building was finished in. the following year, snd, among many objects of great masonic interest, contains the large picture of the ? Inauguration of Robert Bums as Poet Laureate of the Grand Lodge of Scotland,? by William Stewart Watson, a deceased artist, nephew of George Watson, first president of the Scottish Academy, and cousin of the late Sir John Watson-Gordon. He was an ardent Freemason, and for twenty years was secretary to the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge. His picture is a very valuable one, as containing excellent portraits of many eminent men who took part in that ceremony. He was the same artist who designed the embellishments of the library at Abbotsford, at the special request of Sir Walter Scott, to whom he was nearly related. In this office are the rooms and records of the Grand Secretary, and there the whole general business of the? entire masonic body in Scotland is transacted. Three fine bronze pedestrian statues decorate this long and stately street. The first of these statues, at the intersection of George Street and Hanover Street, to the memory of George IV., is by Chantrey, and was erected in November, 183r. It is twelve feet in height, on a granite pedestal of eighteen feet, executed by Mr. Wallace. The largest of the blocks weighed fifteen tons, and all were placed by meatls of some of the cranes used in the erection of the National Monument. The second, at the intersection of Frederick Street, is ?also by Chantrey, to the memory of William Pitt, and was erected in 1833. The third, at the intersection of Castle Street, on a red granite pedestal, was erected in 1878 to the memory of Dr. Chalmers, and is by the hand of Sir John Steel. CHAPTER XX QUEEN STREET. The Philosophical Iostitution-House of Bamn Ode-New Physicians? Hall-Sir James Y. Simpron, M.D.-The House of hf- Wilson-Sir John Leslic-Lord Rockville-Sir Jams Grant of Grant-The Hopetoun Rooms-Edinburgh Educational Institution for Ladies. QUEEN STREET was a facsimile of Princes Street, but its grouping and surroundings are altogether different. Like Princes Street, it is a noble terrace, but not overlooked at a short distance by the magnificent castle and the Dunedin of the Middle Ages. It looks northward pver its whole length on beautiful gardens laid out in shrubs and flowers, beyond which lie fair white terraces and streets that far excel itself-the assembled beauties of another new town spreading away to the wide blue waters of the Firth of Forth. How true are the lines of Scott !-
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