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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


298 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Infirmary Street. In that year a fishing company was dissolved, and the partners were pcevailed upon to assign part of their stock to promote this benevolent institution, which the state of the poor in Edinburgh rendered so necessary, as hitherto the members of the Royal College of Physicians had given both medicines and advice to them gratis. A subscription for the purpose was at the same time urged, and application made to the General Assembly to recommend a subscription in all the parishes under its jurisdiction ; but Arnot records, to the disgrace of the clergy of that day, that ?ten out of eleven utterly disregatded it.? Aid came in from lay purses, and at the second meeting of contributors, the managers were elected, the rules of procedure adjusted, and in 1729, on the 6th of August, the Royal Infirmary-ohe of the grandest and noblest institutions in the British Isles, was opened, but in a very humble fashionin a small house hired for the sick poor, hear the old University-a fact duly recorded in the Month0 Cirronicle of that year, on the 18th of the month. This edifice had been formerlyused by Dr. Black, Professor of Chemistry, as the place for delivering his lectures, says Kincaid, but this must have been before his succession to the chair. It was pulled down when the South Bridge was built. Six physicians and surgeons undertook to give, as before, medicines and attendance gratis ; and the total number of patients received in the first year amounted to only thirty-five, of whom nineteen were dismissed as cured. The six physicians, whose names deserve to be recorded with honour, were John &?Gill, Francis Congalton, George Cunninghame, Robert Hope, Alexander Munro, and John Douglas. Such was the origin of the Edinburgh Infirmary, which, small as it was at first, was designed from its very origin as a benefit to the whole kingdom, no one then dreaming that a time would come when every considerable . county town would have a similar hospital.? In the year 1736, by a royal charter granted by George II., at Kensington palace, on the 25th of August, the contributors were incorporated, and they proposed to rear a building calculated to accommodate 1,700 patients per annum, allowing six weeks? residence for each at an average ; and after a careful consideration of plans a commencement was made with the east wing of the present edifice, the foundation-stone of which was laid on the 2nd of August, 1738, by George Mackenzie, the gallant Earl of Cromarty, who was then Grand Master Mason of Scotland, and was afterwards attainted for leading 400 of his clan at the battle of Falkirk. The Royal College of Physicians attended as a body on this occasion, and voted thirty guineas towards the new Infirmary. This portion of the building was, till lately, called the Medical House. Supplies of money were promptly rendered. The General Assembly-with a little better success-again ordered collections to be made, and the Established clergy were now probably spurred on by the zeal of the Episcopalians, who contributed to the best of their means; so did various other public bodies and associations. Noblemen and gentlemen of the highest position, merchants, artisans, farmers, carters-all subscribed substantially. Even the most humble in the ranks of the industrious, who could not otherwise aid the noble undertaking, gave their personal services at the building for several days gratuitously. A Newcastle glass-making company glazed the whole house gratis ; and by personal correspondence money was obtained, not only from England and Ireland, but from other parts of Europe, and even from America, as Maitland records ; but this would be, of course, from Scottish colonists or exiles. So the work of progression went steadily on, until the present great quadrangular edifice on the south side of Infirmary Street was complete. It - consists of a body and two projecting wings, all four storeys in height. The body is 210 feet long, and in its central part is thirty-six feet wide ; in the end portions, twenty-four. Each wing is seventy feet long, and twenty-four wide. The central portion of the edifice is ornate in its architecture, having a range of Ionic columns surmounted by a Palladiau cornice, bearing aloft a coved roof and cupola. Between the columns are two tablets having the inscriptions, ?1 was naked and ye clothed me ;? I was sick and ye visited me ;? and between these, in a recess, is, curiously enough, a statue of George 11. in a Roman costume, carved in London. The access to the different floors is by a large staircase in the centre of the building, so spacious as to admit the transit of sedan chairs, and by two smaller staircases at each end. The floors are portioned out into wards fitted up with beds for the patients, and there are smaller rooms for nurses and medical attendants, with others for the manager, for consultations, and students waiting. Two of the wards devoted to patients whose cases are deemed either remarkable or instructive, are set apart for clinical lectures attended by students of medicine, and delivered by the professors of clinical surgery in the adjacent University. Within the attic in the centre of the building is a spacious theatre, capable of holding above 200 Many joiners gave sashes to the windows.
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THE ROYAL INFIRMARY. 299 h6rmary Street] students to witness surgical operations. The Infirmary has separate wards for male and female patients, and a ward which is used as a Lock hospital ; but even in ordinary periods the building had become utterly incompetent for the service of Edinburgh, and during the prevalence of an epidemic afforded but a mere fraction of the required accommodation, and hence the erection of its magnificent successor, to which we shall refer elsewhere. The Earl of Hopetoun, in 1742, and for the last twenty-five years of his life, generously contributed A400 per annum to the institution when it was young and struggling. In 1750 Dr. Archibald Kerr of Jamaica bequeathed to it an estate worth E218 11s. 5d. yearly; and five years afterwards the Treasury made it a gift of jG8,ooo j yet it has never met with the support from Government. that it ought to have done, and which similar institutions in London receive. But the institution owed most of its brilliant success to Lord Provost Drummond. Among his associates in this good work he had the honoured members of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in Edinburgh, ever first in all works of goodness and charity; and the first Dr. Munro, Professor of Anatomy, was singularly sanguine of the complete success of the undertaking. That portion of the house which was founded by the Earl of Cromarty was opened for the reception of patients in December, 1741. The theatre described was made to serve the purposes also of a chapel, and twelve cells on the ground floor, for cases of delirium fremens, being found unnecessary, were converted into kitchens and larders, &c. The grounds around the house, consisting of two acres, and long bounded on- the south by the city wall, were laid out into grass walks for the convalescents, and ultimately the house was amply supplied with water from the city reservoir. In the years 1743-4 the sick soldiers of the regiments quartered in the Castle were accommodated in the Infirmary; and in the stormy period of the '45 it was of necessity converted into a great military hospital for the sick and wounded troops of both armies engaged at Prestonpans and elsewhere ; and in I 748 the surgeon-apothecaries, who since 1729 had given all manner of medical aid gratis, were feed for the first time. Wounded from our armies in Flanders have been sent there for treatment. In 1748, after paying for the site, building, furniture, &c., the stock of the institution amounted to &5,00o; and sick patients not wishing to be resident were invited to apply for advice on Mondays and Fridays, and were in cases of necessity admitted as supernumeraries at the rate of 6d. per day. About this time there was handed over an Invalid Grant made by Government to the city, on consideration of sixty beds being retained for the use of all soldiers who paid 4d. per diem for accommodation, This sum, &3, 2 70, was fully made over to the managers, who, for some time afteqfound themselves called upon to entertain so many military patients, that a guard had to be mounted on the house to enforce order; and liberty was obtained to deposit all dead patients in Lady Yester's churchyard, on the opposite side of the street. Hitherto the physicians had, with exemplary fidelity, attended the patients in rotation j but in January, 1751, the managers on being empowered by the general court of contributors, selected Dr. David Clerk and Dr, Colin Drummond, physicians in ordinary, paying them the small honorarium of ;E30 annually. The University made offer to continue its services, together with those of the ordinary physicians, which offer was gladly accepted; and though the practice fell into disuse, they were long continued in monthly rotation. To the option of the two ordinary physicians was left the visiting of the patients conjointly, or by each taking his own department. "It was their duty to sign the tickets of admission and dismission. In case of any unforeseen occurrences or dangerous distemper, the matron or clerks were permitted to use this authe rity ; the physicians en their amval, however, were expected to append their signatures to the tickets. The good and economy of the house from the first, induced the managers to appoint two of their number to visit the institution once every month, who were enjoined to inquire how far the patients were contented with their treatment, and to note what they found inconsistent with the ordinary regulations : their remarks to be entered in a book of reports, to come under review at the first meeting of managers." (" Journal of Antiq.," VoL 11.) In 1754 some abuses prevailed in the mode of dispensing medicines to the out-door patients, detrimental to the finances ; an order was given for a more judicious and sparing distribution. In the following pear application was made to the Town Council, as well as to the Presbytery of the Church, to raise money at their several churches to provide a ward for sick servants-which had been found one of the most useful in the house. From its first institution the ministers of the city had, in monthly rotation, conducted the religious services ; but in the middle of 1756 the managers appointed aregular chaplain, whose duty it was to preach every Monday in the theatre for surgical operations.
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