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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


992 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Old High School. the great William Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham. My master was a great favourite of his pupils, about sixty in number. &cond.-Gilchrist, a good-humoured man, with a great deal of comedy about him ; also liked by the class, in number somewhat exceeding Farquhar's. " Third-Rae, a severe, harsh-tempered man, but an excellent scholar, a rigid disciplinarian, and very frequent floggerof the school, consequently very unpopular with the boys, though from the reputation were then removed to the Rector's class, where they read portions of Livy, along with the other classics above mentioned. The hours of attendance were from seven to nine a.m., and after an interval of an hour for breakfast, from ten to twelve ; then after an interval of two hours (latterly, I think, in my time, three) for dinner, returned for two hours in the afternoon. The scholars wrote versions, translations from Latin into English ; and at the annual examination in August rkited speeches, as of his superior learning, he had more scholars than either of the above masters. Aurfk-Gib, an old man, short and squabby, with a flaxen three-tailed wig, verging towards dotage, though said to be in his younger days a very superior scholar, and particularly conversant in Hebrew. He had then only twenty-five or thirty pupils, who liked him from the indulgence which his good-natured weakness and laxity of discipline produced. "The scholars went through the four classes taught by the under-masters, reading the usual elementary Latin books-for at that time no Greek was taught in the High School-and so up to Virgil, Horace, Sallust, and parts of Cicero. They they were called, being extracts of remarkable passages from some of the Roman poets. Of eminent men educated at the High School were most of the leading lawyers of Scotland. In modem times were President Hope, Mr. Brougham, Mr. Francis Horner, Mr. Wilde, the great favourite of Mr. Burke, hfr. Reddie, town clerk of Glasgow, who, during the short time hewas at the Edinburgh bar had a high reputation for his ability and knowledge of law. Lord Woodhouselee was at the school with me, in the class below mine; so was Lord Meadowbank, who had for his tutor Mr. Adam, afterwards rector. The Chief Commissioner Adam was of the same standing and class." In 1765 began the connection of the eminent *
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The Secoud High SchooLl DR ADAM. 293 Alexander Adam, LLD., with this seminary, when he was appointed joint-rector with Alexander Matheson, who died in Merchant?s Court in 1799; and of the many distinguished men who have presided over it, few have left a higher reputation for learning behind them. Born at the Coates of Burghie in Elgin, in 1741, he was the son of humble parents, whose poverty was such, that during the winter mornings, in boy. hood, he conned his little Elzevir edition of Livy and other tasks by the light of bog-splinters found in the adjacent morass, having to devote to manual labour the brighter hours of day. In 1757 he obtained a bursary at Aberdeen, and after attending a free course of lectures at the Edinburgh University, he was employed at the sum of one guinea per quarter, in the family of Alan Maconochie, afterwards Lord Meadowbank ?At this time,? says Anderson in his biography of Adam, ?he lodged in a small room at Restalrig, for which he paid fourpence per week. His breakfast consisted 01 oatmeal porridge with small beer ; his dinner often of a penny loaf and a drink of water.? Yet, at the age of nineteen, so high were his attainments, he obtained-after a competitive examination-the head-mastership of Watson?s Hospital ; and %I 1765, by the influence of the future Lord Provost Kincaid, he became joint-rector of the High School with Mr. Matheson, whose increasing infirmities compelled him to retire on a small annuity ; and thus, on the 8th of June, 1768, Adam succeeded him as sole rector, and most assiduously did he devote himself to his office. To him the school owes much of its high reputation, and is entirely indebted for the introduction of Greek, which he achieved in 1772, in spite ol the powerful opposition of the Senatus Academicus. Into his class he introduced a new Latin grammar of his own composition, as a substitute for Ruddiman?s, causing thereby a dispute between himseU and the masters, and also the Town Council, in defiance of whose edict on the subject in 1786 he continued to use his own rules till they ceased to interfere with him. In 1780 the degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by the College of Edinburgh, chiefly at the suggestion of Principal Robertson ; and before his death he had the satisfiction of seeing his own grammar finally adopted in the seminary to which he had devoted himself. By 1774 it was found that the ancient school house, built in 1578, was incapable of accommodating the increased number of pupils ; its unsuitable state had frequently been brought before the magistrates ; but lack of revenue prevented them from applying the proper remedy of the growing evil. At last several of the leading citizens, including among others, Sir William Forbes, Bart., of Pitsligo, Professor John Hope, William Dalrymple, and Alexander Wood, surgeon, set afoot a subscription list to build a new school, and on March 8, 1775, the Council contributed thereto 300 guineas. The Duke of Buccleuchgave 500, LordChancellor Wedderburn, 100, and eventually the sum of L2,ooo was raised -but the building cost double that sum ere it was finished-and plans were prepared by Alexander Laing, architect. The managers of the Royal Infirmary presented the projectors with a piece of ground from their garden to enlarge the existing area, and the Corporation of Surgeons also granted a piece from the garden before their hall. On the 24th June, 1777, the foundation-stone of the second High School was laid by Sir William Forbes, as Grand Master Mason of Scotland. The procession, ,which was formed in the Parliament Square,-and which included all the learned bodies in the city, .moved off in the following order :- The magistrates in their robes of office ; the Principal of the University(Kobertson, the historian) and the professors in their academic gowns ; the Rector Adams in his gown at the head of his class, the scholars marching by threes-the smallest boys in front ; the four masters, each with his class in the same order ; sixteen masonic lodges, and all the noblesse of the city. There was no South Bridge then; so down the High Street and Blackfriars Wynd, and from the Cowgate upward, the procession wound to the High School yard. The total length of the building erected on this occasion-but now turned to other nses-was a hundred and twenty feet long, by thirty-eight. The great hall, which was meant for prayers, measured sixty-eight feet by thirty, and at each end was a library of thirty-two feet by twenty. The second floorwas divided into five apartments or class-rooms, with a ceiiing of seventeen feet. It was all built of smoothly-dressed ashlar, and had a Doric portico of four columns, with a pediment. This, then, was the edifice most intimately-associated with the labours of the learned Rector Adams, and one of the chief events in the history of which was the enrolment of Sir Walter Scott as a scholar there when the building was barely two years old. ?? In 1779,? says Sir Walter in his Autobiography, ?I was sent to the second class of the grammar school, or High School, then taught by Mr. Luke Fraser, a good Latin scholar and a very worthy man. Though I had received with my brothers, in private, lessons of Latin from Mr. James French, now a minister of the Kirk of Scotland, I was nevertheless
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