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In the year 1814, when the writer of these pages was a school-boy, he used to select the Calton Hill as a proper place, from its solitude, for bending his studious thoughts on Livy and Anacreon: within the brief space which has elapsed since then, it has become fully involved in the whirl of the city, and now no more resembles what it formerly was than the bustling village of the British Canadian resembles the Indian Savannah which once occupied its site. Not that the city is much more extended than it was round the Calton Hill; it is the strange peculiarity of Edinburgh, that there are Alpine scenes of savage magnificence, and precipices which never were and never can be approached, in the very centre of, and mixed up with the details of the streets. But, in 1815, the Calton Hill was rendered a thoroughfare, by the formation of a road connecting the New Town directly with the eastern district of the country. A lofty bridge was thrown from the east end of Prince's Street to the western face of the hill; the corresponding road was cut, partly through primitive rocks, and partly through a burial ground, which presented obstructions of a different, but not less difficult nature: there was also an immense hollow to be filled up. Nevertheless, the whole was in time perfected, so as to form one of the noblest approaches that any European city can boast of. Before this period, the hill exhibited two solitary buildings of opposite enough character;—a Bridewell, which somebody compared to a Bastile, and a monument to Lord Nelson, for which there are more ungracious comparisons. But this was the era of true tasto in Edinburgh. The pure Grecian architecture was now beginning to be studied in its best models, and as this craggy hill seemed to offer sites equal to the Athenian Acropolis itself, various structures of that kind have since been erected upon it. First appeared an Observatory, of simple but most elegant details, having an advanced pediment on each of the four sides, supported by six columns. This is situated on the top of the hill, but not within the range of view presented in our engraving. At the south-east angle of the court enclosing the Observatory, there has since been erected a monument to Professor Playfiiir, a person eminently deserving to have his memory recorded in such a situation, having been chiefly instrumental in obtaining for Edinburgh the benefits of this scientific structure. The monument is a square mass surrounded witll columns, and altogether formed in the purest Grecian taste. Seen from almost any place around Edinburgh, the observatory gives the whole scenery a Grecian aspect, its form and situation being alike calculated to remind
the spectator of the temple-crowned steeps of Achaia. It was Jiov suggested by certain persons interested in both the arts and arms of their country, that a monument should be erected to the many Scottish officers who had fallen in the war of the French Revolution—a monument alike worthy of those heroes, and of their grateful country. The design met at first with so much encouragement, that its immediate patrons considered it as affording an opportunity of restoring, on the Calton Hill of Edinburgh, the most beautiful of all the structures of Greece—the noble Parthenon itself. It was calculated that the work might be completed for £60,000, and for a time contributions were rendered with such liberality, not only in Scotland, but in every place where Scotsmen were to be found, that the strongest hopes were entertained of speedily obtaining the necessary sum. On the 27th of August, 1822, while King George the Fourth was in Edinburgh, the foundation stone was laid with masonic honours, by the Duke of Hamilton, his Majesty contributing, we believe, a thousand guineas towards the undertaking. Years passed on, and the design seemed in some danger of being neglected, when its managers very unfortunately determined to commence the work with what money they had already collected, trusting that the appearance of the building, even in its first lineaments, would be the best means of drawing further contributions from the public. Twelve massive and most beautiful columns, intended to form merely the support of the western pediment, were accordingly erected, at an expense of thirteen thousand pounds; and there the work stopped for want of funds. It is now obvious that the building can never be completed as a monument to the heroes of the last war; for if only thirteen thousand pounds could be gathered from the people, while they contemplated that arduous contest with a warm and enthusiastic feeling, what chance is there of three or four times the sum being collected from a new generation, who are not only, it would appear, coldly forgetful of those military glories, but to a considerable extent inclined to view them as a matter rather of regret than of rejoicing. Public feeling, in fact, has experienced a revulsion on this subject, and thus the National Monument, as it was fondly called, will only be, in future times, a monument of the imperfect sympathy of Scotland towards a twenty years' war, in which many thousands of her sons fell in the expectation of a glory which was hardly to survive themselves. The twelve pillars, which, as a noted wit has remarked, form at least a fine ruin, are observable in the centre of the engraving, a little to the east of Nelson's Monument. From such an unhappy object, it is pleasant to turn to the High School, which has been erected on the lower part of the hill, beside the London Road. The High School of Edinburgh is an institution of some antiquity, (dating, I believe, from 1578,) and its respectability as a seminary of classical instruction is coeval with the dignity of the city itself. When it is considered that many of the greatest men of the country have received the rudiments of their education at this school for the last two centuries, a sufficient idea must be formed of its pretensions to general consideration. The High School was formerly situated in an obscure and inconvenient part of the town; so as to occasion a wish that either it should be removed to the modern part of the city, or that a separate institution should be formed for the benefit of the inhabitants of that district. Some hesitation having been expressed by the civic authorities, as to the removal of the school, an association was formed for the purpose of establishing an academy on the same scale in the New Town; which was carried into effect in the year 1824. As this new institution met with complete success, without materially affecting the High School, the Magistrates resolved, when somewhat too late, to erect a new building on the Calton Hill. The foundation stone was laid in July 1825, and the work completed in 1829, at an expense, I have heard, of £20,000, part of which was contributed by individuals who had received their education at this seminary. The building (of which a more particular account will be found in the subjoined note,*) was from a design by Mr Thomas Hamilton, architect, and it met with such perfect admiration as to have placed the professional character of that most respectable individual upon what we may term a fixed basis. Overlooking minor beauties, the charm of the building decidedly lies in the bold mixture of light and shade which Mr Hamilton has produced in front. There is much, also, in the felicitous adaptation of the style to the situation, and something in the circumstance that the building is chiefly seen from a point below the base,
* The extreme length of the building is nearly 430 feet, that of the main body 270. The portico in the centre is of the Greek Doric, executed after the manner of the temple of Theseus at Athens. The colonnades attaching the wings to the centre are of the same order. The mouldings and entablature of the wings are somewhat similar to those of the monument of Thrasyllus. The lodges at each extremity stand a little in front, and are attached to the body by circular walls, concealing from the view the playground behind.
The interior consists of a Public Hall, about 75 feet by 43, seated for 1000 boys, with accommodation for the Town Council and Examinators, and two galleries for visitors. The Rector's class room, 37 feet square, with the practising rooms and other apartments, are situated to the west, and the Library and Museum to the east of the Hall. In each of the wings are two class rooms, 37 feet by 27, and to each of the class rooms are attached two spacious practising rooms. One of the lodges is appropriated to the teaching of Mathematics, Arithmetic, and Writing; the other to the accommodadation of the Janitor.