Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. IV


300 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Infirmary Street. He had, moreover, to say prayers twice weekly, and be ever ready to attend the dying when summoned by them. In 1763 a number of Scottish soldiers disbanded on the great reduction of the army in that year, sick, lame, and destitute, applied for admission to the hospital. On this, an extraordinary meeting of the managers was summoned, and their application was granted, though the former did not consider themselves bound in any way to do so ; and in that year, Three were struck down ; two recovered, but one became delirious. The Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons had been in the habit of giving medical attendance in monthly rotation; but the managers, finding this to prove inconvenient, selected two regular physicians and four expert surgeons, to whom various departments were committed. The four latter were named substitutes, and divided the year equally, so that each had his own quarter. (Sot. Ma,a Vol. XXX.) THE OLD ROYAL INFIRMARY. (After & Drawing by Paul Sandby, in Muiflands ?History of Edinburglr.?) in pursuance of an order he received from the Commander- inchief, Dr. Adam Austin commenced a regular visitation of the military wards, on the state of which he was bound to report to the Adjutant- General in Scotland. The Doctor was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. He married Anne, daughter of Hugh Lord Semple, and left a daughter who died so lately as March, 1864, aged IOO years and more. (Scotsman,qth March, 1864.) In 1768 the whole edifice narrowly escaped destruction, apparently not .being provided with a lightning conductor. On the 30th of July the south wing was struck furiously by lightning; many of the windows were destroyed and the building much damaged; several of the patients felt the shock. The other surgeons, or ordinaries of the Incorporation, attended by monthly rotation. The four substitutes, besides their quarterly attendance, had their monthly tour of duty with the rest; ?and when the month of any of the four fell in with his quarter, then, either the next substitute in order was to become his assistant, or he was to apply for the assistance of another for that month, thzt the attendance of two might at no time be wanting in the Infirmary,? Such was . the organised system of attendance ; besides all this, the managers enjoined these substitutes? to be present at all consultations, to take charge of all dresses and dressings, of the record of surgical cases kept by the surgeons? clerks, and
Volume 4 Page 300
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
Infirmary Street.] DR. HAMILTON. ? 301 of the instruments for the use of the wards ; and to each of these four surgeons, after 1766, was assigned a salary in proportion to what the funds of the institution admitted. Distinct as these regulations were, they did not work well, and a committee was appointed to confer with the managers in 1769 to adjust certain matters that were in dispute, and new arrangements were made. Under these ?? one of the substitutes was to be changed annually, and his place supplied by a brother duly elected by the Incorporation of Surgeons according to seniority- at least in the order in which they could find any disposed to accept of the trust : all this was to be .done under the authority of the managers, and to continue in force until they saw cmse to alter it.? About 1769 .the ordinary patients, exclusive of soldiers and servants, averaged about sixty; but the funds having grown apace, eighty were accommoda t ed. ?If the phybe mentioned that?between 1770 and 1775 the numbers admitted yearly at an average amounted to 1,567Q, and the number of deaths 634, and, omitting fractional parts, the deaths were to the numbers admitted as I to 25. In 1778 the total number of patients with their attendants made up a family of 230, but so rapid has been the increase of the population, that betweenoctober 1846 and October 1847 no fewer than 7,576 patients sought refuge within its walls. Of these 1,059 died-? a large number no doubt,? THE OLD ROYAL INFIKMARY, 1820. (Affer Storm..) sicians, on -a due consideration of certain cases thought otherwise, no more were to be admitted, and those taken in, so long as they remained supernumeraries, were expected to pay sixpence per day.? Dr. John Stedman, on the 2nd of August, 1773, was elected in place of Dr. Drummond, who had emigrated to Bristol ; but his health was so infirm, that in 1775 Dr. Black was chosen in his place, and afterwards Dr. James Hamilton senior, long one of the ornaments of the city; and after obtaining also the office of physician to George Heriot?s, the Trades Maiden, and Merchant Maiden Hospitals, he superintended these benevolent insti- &u$ions for upwards of fifty years. As an estimate of the good accomplished it may says a report, ?still, but for such a house of refuge, how many more would have breathed out their last amidst the noxious abodes of our city, spreading wider and wider the pestilential calamity which has swept away its thousands of victims in all parts of the country.? In the year 1848 the chap lain was required by new regulations to read a portion of the Scrip tures, and engage in devotional exercises in every ward in the house-a duty which generally occupied about five hours ; he had to meet the convalescent patients in chapel for religious duty every evening ; to be ready to attend the dying, and he had to preach twice on Sunday to the nurses, servants, and all patients who could attend. In the old house over 5,000 patients were admitted annually, of whom about 2,300 were surgid cases. The average number of out-door patients yearly was about 12,000, obtaining the benefit of the highest professionai skill of the medical and surgical officers, and receiving all the necessary dressings, appliances, and comforts at the expense of the house, which has an admirable sta?f of nurses under a lady-superintendent.
Volume 4 Page 301
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures