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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


The water of Leith.] GEORGE RANKINE LUKE 81 memoir of him was prefixed by Dr. Leonhard Schmitz to his last work, which was published six years after his death, which occurred in his seventyfourth year, at No. 21, St. Bernard?s Crescent, on the 9th of July, 1859. Academy, everywhere bearing off more prizes than any of his contemporaries. Leaving the last in 1853, he w?ent to the University of Glasgow, and at the close of the first session, when in his. seventeenth year, he carried off the two gold medals ST. STEPHEN?S CHURCH. Our list of Stockbridge notabilities would be incomplete were we to omit the name of one whose fame, had he been spared, might have been very glorious : young George Rankine Luke, a Snell Exhibitioner at Baliol College, and one of the most brilliant students at Oxford. Born in Brunswick Street, in March, 1836, the son of Mr. Tames Luke, a master baker, he passed speedily through the ranks of the Hamilton Place Academy, the Circus Place School, and the Edinburgh 107 for the senior Latin and Greek, three prizes for Greek and Latin composition, the prize for the Latin Blackstone, and the Muirhead prize. The close of the second year saw him win the medal for the Greek Blackstone, the highest classical honour the University offers, Professor Lushington?s final Greek prize, another for Logic, and for Composition four others. In 1855, as a Snell Exhibitioner at Oxford, he , rapidly gained the Gaisford prizes for Greek prose
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82 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Water of Leith. and verse, the Ireland Scholarship, and a studentship at Christ Church; but in the midst of his youth and fame he was suddenly taken away, in a manner that was a source of deep regret in Scotland and England alike. He perished by drowning, when a boat was upset on the Isis, on the 3rd of March, 1862, when he was in his twenty-sixth year. ?Oxford has lost one of her most promising students,? said the London Revim, with reference to this calamity. ? A. career of such almost uniform brilliance has seldom been equalled, and never been surpassed, by any one among the many distinguished young men who have gone from Scotland to an English university. Indeed, we only do him justice when we say that Mr. Luke was one of ?the most remarkable students that ever went to Oxford. Many leading boys have gone up from the great English public schools, where they have been trained with untiring attention, under the careful eye of the ablest and most experienced teachers of the day, and they have more than fully rewarded their masters for the care bestowed upon them ; but no one has shone out so conspicuously above his compeers as Mr. Luke has done among those who have been educated in the comparative obscurity of a Scotch school and university, where, owing to the system pursued at these seminaries, a boy is left almost entirely to himself, and to his own spontaneous exertions.? This young man, whose brief career shed such honour on his family and his native place, was as distinguished for kindness of heart, probity, and every moral worth, as for his swift classical attainments. There are several painters of note now living, famous alike in the annals of Scottish and British art, who have made Stockbridge their home and the scene of their labours. There some of them have spent their youth, and received the rudiments of their education, whose names we can but give -viz., Norman Macbeth, RSA ; Robert Henderson, R.S.A. ; James Faed, the painter and engraver ; Thomas Faed, R.A. ; Robert Macbeth ; Alexander Leggett ; John Proctor, the cartoonist ; and W. L. Richardson, AAA. Comely Bank estate, which lies north of Stockbridge, was the property of Sir William Fettes, Bart., Lord Provost of the city, of whom we have given a memoir, with an accpnt of his trust disposition, in the chapter on Charlotte Square. On the gentle slope of Comely Bank, the Fettes College forms a conspicuous object from almost every point, but chiefly from the Dean Bridge Road. This grand edifice was planned and executed by David Bryce, R.S.A., at the cost of about ~150,000, and is renarkable for the almost endless diversity and slegance of its details. The greatest wealth of ;hese is to be found in the centre, a prevailing idea :worked out into numerous forms, in corbels, gur- ;oils, and mouldings) being that of griffns con- Lending. Its towers are massive, lofty, and ornate. ;he whole style of architecture being the most florid :xample of the old Scottish Baronial. The chapel, which occupies the centre of the structure, is a most beautiful building, with its due accompaniment of pinnacles and buttresses, ornamented with statues on corbels or in canopied niches. -4 tinely-carved stone rail encloses the terrace, which is surrounded by spacious shrubberies The building was founded in June, 1863, and formally opened in October, 1870. The number of boys to be admitted on the foundation, and maintained and educated in the college at the expense of the endowment, was not at any time to exceed fifty-a nuniber absurdly small to occupy so vast a palace, for such it is. For the accommodation of non-foundationers, spacious boardinghouses have been erected in the grounds, and in connection with the college, under the superintendence of the teachers. Craigleith adjoins Comely Bank on the westward, and was an old estate, in which Momson the Younger, of Prestongrange, was entailed 1731. Here we find the great quarry, from which the greatest portion of the Kew Town has been built, covering an area of twelve acres, which is more than zoo feet deep, and has been worked for many years When first opened, it was rented for about 6 5 0 per annum; but between 1820 and 1826 it yielded about A5,51o per annum. Here, in 1823, there was excavated a stone of such dimensions and weight, says the Edin6uTh WeekCyJoumaZ for November of that year, as to be without parallel in ancient or modern times. In length it was upwards of 136 feet, averaging twenty feet in breadth, and its computed weight was 15,000 tons. It was a longitudinal cut from a stratum of very fine lime rock. The greater part of it was conveyed to the Calton Hill, where it now forms the architrave of the National Monument, and the rest was sent by sea to Buckingham Palace. Three large fossil coniferous trees have been found here, deep down in the heart of the freestone rock. One of these, discovered about 1830, excited much the attention of geologists as to whether it was not standing with root uppermost ; but after a time it was found to be in its natural position, A little to the north of the quarry stands the
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