The History of Leith

May 4, 2011

The Origins of the National Library of Scotland described in c1883

Adjoining it (George IV Bridge) and stretching eastward is the library of the Writers to the Signet. It is of Grecian architecture, and possesses two long pillared halls of beautiful proportions, the upper having Corinthian columns, and a dome wherein are painted the Muses. Ir is 132 feet long by about 40 broad, and was used by George IV. as a drawing-room, on the day of the royal banquet in the Parliament House, Formed by funds drawn solely from contributions by Writers to H.M. Signet, it is under a body of curators. The library contains more than 6g,ooo volumes, and is remarkably rich in British and Irish history. Southward of it ami lying parallel with it, nearer the Cowgate, is the Advocates’ Library, two long halls, with oriel windows on the north side. This library, one of the five in the United Kingdom entitled to a copy of every work printed in it, was founded by Sir George Mackenzie, Dean of Faculty in 1682, and contains some 100,000 volumes, forming the most valuable collection of the kind in Scotland. The volumes of Scottish poetry alone exceed 400. Among some thousand MSS. are those of Wodrow, Sir James Balfour, Sir Robert Sibbald, and others. In one of the lower compartments may be seen Greenshields statue of Sir Walter Scott, and the original volume of Waverley; two volumes of original letters written by Mary Queen of Scots and Charles I.; the Confession of Faith
signed by James VI. and the Scottish nobles 1589-90; a valuable cabinet from the old Scottish mint in the Cowgate; the pennon borne by Sir William Keith at Flodden; and many other objects of the deepest interest The office of librarian has been held by many distinguished men of letters; among them were Thomas Ruddinan, in 1702; David Hume, bis successor, in. 1751; Adam Ferguson ; and David Irving, LLD. A somewhat minor edifice in the vicinity forms the library of the Solicitors before the Supreme Court

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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