Edingburgh Picturesque Notes
Robert Louis Stevenson

Edingburgh Picturesque Notes by Robert Louis Stevenson
Scanned and proofed by
David Price, ccx074@coventry.ac.uk



THE ancient and famous metropolis of the North sits
overlooking a windy estuary from the slope and summit of
three hills. No situation could be more commanding for
the head city of a kingdom; none better chosen for noble
prospects. From her tall precipice and terraced gardens
she looks far and wide on the sea and broad champaigns.
To the east you may catch at sunset the spark of the May
lighthouse, where the Firth expands into the German
Ocean; and away to the west, over all the carse of
Stirling, you can see the first snows upon Ben Ledi.

But Edinburgh pays cruelly for her high seat in one
of the vilest climates under heaven. She is liable to be
beaten upon by all the winds that blow, to be drenched
with rain, to be buried in cold sea fogs out of the east,
and powdered with the snow as it comes flying southward
from the Highland hills. The weather is raw and
boisterous in winter, shifty and ungenial in summer, and
a downright meteorological purgatory in the spring. The
delicate die early, and I, as a survivor, among bleak
winds and plumping rain, have been sometimes tempted to
envy them their fate. For all who love shelter and the
blessings of the sun, who hate dark weather and perpetual
tilting against squalls, there could scarcely be found a
more unhomely and harassing place of residence. Many
such aspire angrily after that Somewhere-else of the
imagination, where all troubles are supposed to end.
They lean over the great bridge which joins the New Town
with the Old - that windiest spot, or high altar, in this
northern temple of the winds - and watch the trains
smoking out from under them and vanishing into the tunnel
on a voyage to brighter skies. Happy the passengers who
shake off the dust of Edinburgh, and have heard for the
last time the cry of the east wind among her chimney-
tops! And yet the place establishes an interest in
people's hearts; go where they will, they find no city of
the same distinction; go where they will, they take a
pride in their old home.

Venice, it has been said, differs from another
cities in the sentiment which she inspires. The rest may
have admirers; she only, a famous fair one, counts lovers
in her train. And, indeed, even by her kindest friends,
Edinburgh is not considered in a similar sense. These
like her for many reasons, not any one of which is
satisfactory in itself. They like her whimsically, if
you will, and somewhat as a virtuoso dotes upon his
cabinet. Her attraction is romantic in the narrowest
meaning of the term. Beautiful as she is, she is not so
much beautiful as interesting. She is pre-eminently
Gothic, and all the more so since she has set herself off
with some Greek airs, and erected classic temples on her
crags. In a word, and above all, she is a curiosity.
The Palace of Holyrood has been left aside in the growth
of Edinburgh, and stands grey and silent in a workman's
quarter and among breweries and gas works. It is a house
of many memories. Great people of yore, kings and
queens, buffoons and grave ambassadors, played their
stately farce for centuries in Holyrood. Wars have been
plotted, dancing has lasted deep into the night, - murder
has been done in its chambers. There Prince Charlie held
his phantom levees, and in a very gallant manner
represented a fallen dynasty for some hours. Now, all
these things of clay are mingled with the dust, the
king's crown itself is shown for sixpence to the vulgar;
but the stone palace has outlived these charges. For
fifty weeks together, it is no more than a show for
tourists and a museum of old furniture; but on the fifty-
first, behold the palace reawakened and mimicking its
past. The Lord Commissioner, a kind of stage sovereign,
sits among stage courtiers; a coach and six and
clattering escort come and go before the gate; at night,
the windows are lighted up, and its near neighbours, the
workmen, may dance in their own houses to the palace
music. And in this the palace is typical. There is a
spark among the embers; from time to time the old volcano
smokes. Edinburgh has but partly abdicated, and still
wears, in parody, her metropolitan trappings. Half a
capital and half a country town, the whole city leads a
double existence; it has long trances of the one and
flashes of the other; like the king of the Black Isles,
it is half alive and half a monumental marble. There are
armed men and cannon in the citadel overhead; you may see
the troops marshalled on the high parade; and at night
after the early winter even-fall, and in the morning
before the laggard winter dawn, the wind carries abroad
over Edinburgh the sound of drums and bugles. Grave
judges sit bewigged in what was once the scene of
imperial deliberations. Close by in the High Street
perhaps the trumpets may sound about the stroke of noon;
and you see a troop of citizens in tawdry masquerade;
tabard above, heather-mixture trowser below, and the men
themselves trudging in the mud among unsympathetic by-
standers. The grooms of a well-appointed circus tread
the streets with a better presence. And yet these are
the Heralds and Pursuivants of Scotland, who are about to
proclaim a new law of the United Kingdom before two-score
boys, and thieves, and hackney-coachmen. Meanwhile every
hour the bell of the University rings out over the hum of
the streets, and every hour a double tide of students,
coming and going, fills the deep archways. And lastly,
one night in the springtime - or say one morning rather,
at the peep of day - late folk may hear voices of many
men singing a psalm in unison from a church on one side
of the old High Street; and a little after, or perhaps a
little before, the sound of many men singing a psalm in
unison from another church on the opposite side of the
way. There will be something in the words above the dew
of Hermon, and how goodly it is to see brethren dwelling
together in unity. And the late folk will tell
themselves that all this singing denotes the conclusion
of two yearly ecclesiastical parliaments - the
parliaments of Churches which are brothers in many
admirable virtues, but not specially like brothers in
this particular of a tolerant and peaceful life.

Again, meditative people will find a charm in a
certain consonancy between the aspect of the city and its
odd and stirring history. Few places, if any, offer a
more barbaric display of contrasts to the eye. In the
very midst stands one of the most satisfactory crags in
nature - a Bass Rock upon dry land, rooted in a garden
shaken by passing trains, carrying a crown of battlements
and turrets, and describing its war-like shadow over the
liveliest and brightest thoroughfare of the new town.
From their smoky beehives, ten stories high, the unwashed
look down upon the open squares and gardens of the
wealthy; and gay people sunning themselves along Princes
Street, with its mile of commercial palaces all beflagged
upon some great occasion, see, across a gardened valley
set with statues, where the washings of the Old Town
flutter in the breeze at its high windows. And then,
upon all sides, what a clashing of architecture! In this
one valley, where the life of the town goes most busily
forward, there may be seen, shown one above and behind
another by the accidents of the ground, buildings in
almost every style upon the globe. Egyptian and Greek
temples, Venetian palaces and Gothic spires, are huddled
one over another in a most admired disorder; while, above
all, the brute mass of the Castle and the summit of
Arthur's Seat look down upon these imitations with a
becoming dignity, as the works of Nature may look down
the monuments of Art. But Nature is a more
indiscriminate patroness than we imagine, and in no way
frightened of a strong effect. The birds roost as
willingly among the Corinthian capitals as in the
crannies of the crag; the same atmosphere and daylight
clothe the eternal rock and yesterday's imitation
portico; and as the soft northern sunshine throws out
everything into a glorified distinctness - or easterly
mists, coming up with the blue evening, fuse all these
incongruous features into one, and the lamps begin to
glitter along the street, and faint lights to burn in the
high windows across the valley - the feeling grows upon
you that this also is a piece of nature in the most
intimate sense; that this profusion of eccentricities,
this dream in masonry and living rock, is not a drop-
scene in a theatre, but a city in the world of every-day
reality, connected by railway and telegraph-wire with all
the capitals of Europe, and inhabited by citizens of the
familiar type, who keep ledgers, and attend church, and
have sold their immortal portion to a daily paper. By
all the canons of romance, the place demands to be half
deserted and leaning towards decay; birds we might admit
in profusion, the play of the sun and winds, and a few
gipsies encamped in the chief thoroughfare; but these
citizens with their cabs and tramways, their trains and
posters, are altogether out of key. Chartered tourists,
they make free with historic localities, and rear their
young among the most picturesque sites with a grand human
indifference. To see them thronging by, in their neat
clothes and conscious moral rectitude, and with a little
air of possession that verges on the absurd, is not the
least striking feature of the place. *

* These sentences have, I hear, given offence in my
native town, and a proportionable pleasure to our rivals
of Glasgow. I confess the news caused me both pain and
merriment. May I remark, as a balm for wounded fellow-
townsmen, that there is nothing deadly in my accusations?
Small blame to them if they keep ledgers: 'tis an
excellent business habit. Churchgoing is not, that ever
I heard, a subject of reproach; decency of linen is a
mark of prosperous affairs, and conscious moral rectitude
one of the tokens of good living. It is not their fault
it the city calls for something more specious by way of
inhabitants. A man in a frock-coat looks out of place
upon an Alp or Pyramid, although he has the virtues of a
Peabody and the talents of a Bentham. And let them
console themselves - they do as well as anybody else; the
population of (let us say) Chicago would cut quite as
rueful a figure on the same romantic stage. To the
Glasgow people I would say only one word, but that is of

And the story of the town is as eccentric as its
appearance. For centuries it was a capital thatched with
heather, and more than once, in the evil days of English
invasion, it has gone up in flame to heaven, a beacon to
ships at sea. It was the jousting-ground of jealous
nobles, not only on Greenside, or by the King's Stables,
where set tournaments were fought to the sound of
trumpets and under the authority of the royal presence,
but in every alley where there was room to cross swords,
and in the main street, where popular tumult under the
Blue Blanket alternated with the brawls of outlandish
clansmen and retainers. Down in the palace John Knox
reproved his queen in the accents of modern democracy.
In the town, in one of those little shops plastered like
so many swallows' nests among the buttresses of the old
Cathedral, that familiar autocrat, James VI., would
gladly share a bottle of wine with George Heriot the
goldsmith. Up on the Pentland Hills, that so quietly
look down on the Castle with the city lying in waves
around it, those mad and dismal fanatics, the Sweet
Singers, haggard from long exposure on the moors, sat day
and night with 'tearful psalmns' to see Edinburgh
consumed with fire from heaven, like another Sodom or
Gomorrah. There, in the Grass-market, stiff-necked,
covenanting heroes, offered up the often unnecessary, but
not less honourable, sacrifice of their lives, and bade
eloquent farewell to sun, moon, and stars, and earthly
friendships, or died silent to the roll of drums. Down
by yon outlet rode Grahame of Claverhouse and his thirty
dragoons, with the town beating to arms behind their
horses' tails - a sorry handful thus riding for their
lives, but with a man at the head who was to return in a
different temper, make a dash that staggered Scotland to
the heart, and die happily in the thick of fight. There
Aikenhead was hanged for a piece of boyish incredulity;
there, a few years afterwards, David Hume ruined
Philosophy and Faith, an undisturbed and well-reputed
citizen; and thither, in yet a few years more, Burns came
from the plough-tail, as to an academy of gilt unbelief
and artificial letters. There, when the great exodus was
made across the valley, and the New Town began to spread
abroad its draughty parallelograms, and rear its long
frontage on the opposing hill, there was such a flitting,
such a change of domicile and dweller, as was never
excelled in the history of cities: the cobbler succeeded
the earl; the beggar ensconced himself by the judge's
chimney; what had been a palace was used as a pauper
refuge; and great mansions were so parcelled out among
the least and lowest in society, that the hearthstone of
the old proprietor was thought large enough to be
partitioned off into a bedroom by the new.


THE Old Town, it is pretended, is the chief
characteristic, and, from a picturesque point of view,
the liver-wing of Edinburgh. It is one of the most
common forms of depreciation to throw cold water on the
whole by adroit over-commendation of a part, since
everything worth judging, whether it be a man, a work of
art, or only a fine city, must be judged upon its merits
as a whole. The Old Town depends for much of its effect
on the new quarters that lie around it, on the
sufficiency of its situation, and on the hills that back
it up. If you were to set it somewhere else by itself,
it would look remarkably like Stirling in a bolder and
loftier edition. The point is to see this embellished
Stirling planted in the midst of a large, active, and
fantastic modern city; for there the two re-act in a
picturesque sense, and the one is the making of the

The Old Town occupies a sloping ridge or tail of
diluvial matter, protected, in some subsidence of the
waters, by the Castle cliffs which fortify it to the
west. On the one side of it and the other the new towns
of the south and of the north occupy their lower,
broader, and more gentle hill-tops. Thus, the quarter of
the Castle over-tops the whole city and keeps an open
view to sea and land. It dominates for miles on every
side; and people on the decks of ships, or ploughing in
quiet country places over in Fife, can see the banner on
the Castle battlements, and the smoke of the Old Town
blowing abroad over the subjacent country. A city that
is set upon a hill. It was, I suppose, from this distant
aspect that she got her nickname of AULD REEKIE. Perhaps
it was given her by people who had never crossed her
doors: day after day, from their various rustic Pisgahs,
they had seen the pile of building on the hill-top, and
the long plume of smoke over the plain; so it appeared to
them; so it had appeared to their fathers tilling the
same field; and as that was all they knew of the place,
it could be all expressed in these two words.

Indeed, even on a nearer view, the Old Town is
properly smoked; and though it is well washed with rain
all the year round, it has a grim and sooty aspect among
its younger suburbs. It grew, under the law that
regulates the growth of walled cities in precarious
situations, not in extent, but in height and density.
Public buildings were forced, wherever there was room for
them, into the midst of thoroughfares; thorough - fares
were diminished into lanes; houses sprang up story after
story, neighbour mounting upon neighbour's shoulder, as
in some Black Hole of Calcutta, until the population
slept fourteen or fifteen deep in a vertical direction.
The tallest of these LANDS, as they are locally termed,
have long since been burnt out; but to this day it is not
uncommon to see eight or ten windows at a flight; and the
cliff of building which hangs imminent over Waverley
Bridge would still put many natural precipices to shame.
The cellars are already high above the gazer's head,
planted on the steep hill-side; as for the garret, all
the furniture may be in the pawn-shop, but it commands a
famous prospect to the Highland hills. The poor man may
roost up there in the centre of Edinburgh, and yet have a
peep of the green country from his window; he shall see
the quarters of the well-to-do fathoms underneath, with
their broad squares and gardens; he shall have nothing
overhead but a few spires, the stone top-gallants of the
city; and perhaps the wind may reach him with a rustic
pureness, and bring a smack of the sea or of flowering
lilacs in the spring.

It is almost the correct literary sentiment to
deplore the revolutionary improvements of Mr. Chambers
and his following. It is easy to be a conservator of the
discomforts of others; indeed, it is only our good
qualities we find it irksome to conserve. Assuredly, in
driving streets through the black labyrinth, a few
curious old corners have been swept away, and some
associations turned out of house and home. But what
slices of sunlight, what breaths of clean air, have been
let in! And what a picturesque world remains untouched!
You go under dark arches, and down dark stairs and
alleys. The way is so narrow that you can lay a hand on
either wall; so steep that, in greasy winter weather, the
pavement is almost as treacherous as ice. Washing
dangles above washing from the windows; the houses bulge
outwards upon flimsy brackets; you see a bit of sculpture
in a dark corner; at the top of all, a gable and a few
crowsteps are printed on the sky. Here, you come into a
court where the children are at play and the grown people
sit upon their doorsteps, and perhaps a church spire
shows itself above the roofs. Here, in the narrowest of
the entry, you find a great old mansion still erect, with
some insignia of its former state - some scutcheon, some
holy or courageous motto, on the lintel. The local
antiquary points out where famous and well-born people
had their lodging; and as you look up, out pops the head
of a slatternly woman from the countess's window. The
Bedouins camp within Pharaoh's palace walls, and the old
war-ship is given over to the rats. We are already a far
way from the days when powdered heads were plentiful in
these alleys, with jolly, port-wine faces underneath.
Even in the chief thoroughfares Irish washings flutter at
the windows, and the pavements are encumbered with

These loiterers are a true character of the scene.
Some shrewd Scotch workmen may have paused on their way
to a job, debating Church affairs and politics with their
tools upon their arm. But the most part are of a
different order - skulking jail-birds; unkempt, bare-foot
children; big-mouthed, robust women, in a sort of uniform
of striped flannel petticoat and short tartan shawl;
among these, a few surpervising constables and a dismal
sprinkling of mutineers and broken men from higher ranks
in society, with some mark of better days upon them, like
a brand. In a place no larger than Edinburgh, and where
the traffic is mostly centred in five or six chief
streets, the same face comes often under the notice of an
idle stroller. In fact, from this point of view,
Edinburgh is not so much a small city as the largest of
small towns. It is scarce possible to avoid observing
your neighbours; and I never yet heard of any one who
tried. It has been my fortune, in this anonymous
accidental way, to watch more than one of these downward
travellers for some stages on the road to ruin. One man
must have been upwards of sixty before I first observed
him, and he made then a decent, personable figure in
broad-cloth of the best. For three years he kept falling
- grease coming and buttons going from the square-skirted
coat, the face puffing and pimpling, the shoulders
growing bowed, the hair falling scant and grey upon his
head; and the last that ever I saw of him, he was
standing at the mouth of an entry with several men in
moleskin, three parts drunk, and his old black raiment
daubed with mud. I fancy that I still can hear him
laugh. There was something heart-breaking in this
gradual declension at so advanced an age; you would have
thought a man of sixty out of the reach of these
calamities; you would have thought that he was niched by
that time into a safe place in life, whence he could pass
quietly and honourably into the grave.

One of the earliest marks of these DEGRINGOLADES is,
that the victim begins to disappear from the New Town
thoroughfares, and takes to the High Street, like a
wounded animal to the woods. And such an one is the type
of the quarter. It also has fallen socially. A
scutcheon over the door somewhat jars in sentiment where
there is a washing at every window. The old man, when I
saw him last, wore the coat in which he had played the
gentleman three years before; and that was just what gave
him so pre-eminent an air of wretchedness.

It is true that the over-population was at least as
dense in the epoch of lords and ladies, and that now-a-
days some customs which made Edinburgh notorious of yore
have been fortunately pretermitted. But an aggregation
of comfort is not distasteful like an aggregation of the
reverse. Nobody cares how many lords and ladies, and
divines and lawyers, may have been crowded into these
houses in the past - perhaps the more the merrier. The
glasses clink around the china punch-bowl, some one
touches the virginals, there are peacocks' feathers on
the chimney, and the tapers burn clear and pale in the
red firelight. That is not an ugly picture in itself,
nor will it become ugly upon repetition. All the better
if the like were going on in every second room; the LAND
would only look the more inviting. Times are changed.
In one house, perhaps, two-score families herd together;
and, perhaps, not one of them is wholly out of the reach
of want. The great hotel is given over to discomfort
from the foundation to the chimney-tops; everywhere a
pinching, narrow habit, scanty meals, and an air of
sluttishness and dirt. In the first room there is a
birth, in another a death, in a third a sordid drinking-
bout, and the detective and the Bible-reader cross upon
the stairs. High words are audible from dwelling to
dwelling, and children have a strange experience from the
first; only a robust soul, you would think, could grow up
in such conditions without hurt. And even if God tempers
His dispensations to the young, and all the ill does not
arise that our apprehensions may forecast, the sight of
such a way of living is disquieting to people who are
more happily circumstanced. Social inequality is nowhere
more ostentatious than at Edinburgh. I have mentioned
already how, to the stroller along Princes Street, the
High Street callously exhibits its back garrets. It is
true, there is a garden between. And although nothing
could be more glaring by way of contrast, sometimes the
opposition is more immediate; sometimes the thing lies in
a nutshell, and there is not so much as a blade of grass
between the rich and poor. To look over the South Bridge
and see the Cowgate below full of crying hawkers, is to
view one rank of society from another in the twinkling of
an eye.

One night I went along the Cowgate after every one
was a-bed but the policeman, and stopped by hazard before
a tall LAND. The moon touched upon its chimneys, and
shone blankly on the upper windows; there was no light
anywhere in the great bulk of building; but as I stood
there it seemed to me that I could hear quite a body of
quiet sounds from the interior; doubtless there were many
clocks ticking, and people snoring on their backs. And
thus, as I fancied, the dense life within made itself
faintly audible in my ears, family after family
contributing its quota to the general hum, and the whole
pile beating in tune to its timepieces, like a great
disordered heart. Perhaps it was little more than a
fancy altogether, but it was strangely impressive at the
time, and gave me an imaginative measure of the
disproportion between the quantity of living flesh and
the trifling walls that separated and contained it.

There was nothing fanciful, at least, but every
circumstance of terror and reality, in the fall of the
LAND in the High Street. The building had grown rotten
to the core; the entry underneath had suddenly closed up
so that the scavenger's barrow could not pass; cracks and
reverberations sounded through the house at night; the
inhabitants of the huge old human bee-hive discussed
their peril when they encountered on the stair; some had
even left their dwellings in a panic of fear, and
returned to them again in a fit of economy or self-
respect; when, in the black hours of a Sunday morning,
the whole structure ran together with a hideous uproar
and tumbled story upon story to the ground. The physical
shock was felt far and near; and the moral shock
travelled with the morning milkmaid into all the suburbs.
The church-bells never sounded more dismally over
Edinburgh than that grey forenoon. Death had made a
brave harvest, and, like Samson, by pulling down one
roof, destroyed many a home. None who saw it can have
forgotten the aspect of the gable; here it was plastered,
there papered, according to the rooms; here the kettle
still stood on the hob, high overhead; and there a cheap
picture of the Queen was pasted over the chimney. So, by
this disaster, you had a glimpse into the life of thirty
families, all suddenly cut off from the revolving years.
The LAND had fallen; and with the LAND how much! Far in
the country, people saw a gap in the city ranks, and the
sun looked through between the chimneys in an unwonted
place. And all over the world, in London, in Canada, in
New Zealand, fancy what a multitude of people could
exclaim with truth: 'The house that I was born in fell
last night!'


TIME has wrought its changes most notably around the
precincts of St. Giles's Church. The church itself, if
it were not for the spire, would be unrecognisable; the
KRAMES are all gone, not a shop is left to shelter in its
buttresses; and zealous magistrates and a misguided
architect have shorn the design of manhood, and left it
poor, naked, and pitifully pretentious. As St. Giles's
must have had in former days a rich and quaint appearance
now forgotten, so the neighbourhood was bustling,
sunless, and romantic. It was here that the town was
most overbuilt; but the overbuilding has been all rooted
out, and not only a free fair-way left along the High
Street with an open space on either side of the church,
but a great porthole, knocked in the main line of the
LANDS, gives an outlook to the north and the New Town.

There is a silly story of a subterranean passage
between the Castle and Holyrood, and a bold Highland
piper who volunteered to explore its windings. He made
his entrance by the upper end, playing a strathspey; the
curious footed it after him down the street, following
his descent by the sound of the chanter from below; until
all of a sudden, about the level of St. Giles's, the
music came abruptly to an end, and the people in the
street stood at fault with hands uplifted. Whether he
was choked with gases, or perished in a quag, or was
removed bodily by the Evil One, remains a point of doubt;
but the piper has never again been seen or heard of from
that day to this. Perhaps he wandered down into the land
of Thomas the Rhymer, and some day, when it is least
expected, may take a thought to revisit the sunlit upper
world. That will be a strange moment for the cabmen on
the stance besides St. Giles's, when they hear the drone
of his pipes reascending from the bowels of the earth
below their horses' feet.

But it is not only pipers who have vanished, many a
solid bulk of masonry has been likewise spirited into the
air. Here, for example, is the shape of a heart let into
the causeway. This was the site of the Tolbooth, the
Heart of Midlothian, a place old in story and namefather
to a noble book. The walls are now down in the dust;
there is no more SQUALOR CARCERIS for merry debtors, no
more cage for the old, acknowledged prison-breaker; but
the sun and the wind play freely over the foundations of
the jail. Nor is this the only memorial that the
pavement keeps of former days. The ancient burying-
ground of Edinburgh lay behind St. Giles's Church,
running downhill to the Cowgate and covering the site of
the present Parliament House. It has disappeared as
utterly as the prison or the Luckenbooths; and for those
ignorant of its history, I know only one token that
remains. In the Parliament Close, trodden daily
underfoot by advocates, two letters and a date mark the
resting-place of the man who made Scotland over again in
his own image, the indefatigable, undissuadable John
Knox. He sleeps within call of the church that so often
echoed to his preaching.

Hard by the reformer, a bandy-legged and garlanded
Charles Second, made of lead, bestrides a tun-bellied
charger. The King has his backed turned, and, as you
look, seems to be trotting clumsily away from such a
dangerous neighbour. Often, for hours together, these
two will be alone in the Close, for it lies out of the
way of all but legal traffic. On one side the south wall
of the church, on the other the arcades of the Parliament
House, enclose this irregular bight of causeway and
describe their shadows on it in the sun. At either end,
from round St. Giles's buttresses, you command a look
into the High Street with its motley passengers; but the
stream goes by, east and west, and leaves the Parliament
Close to Charles the Second and the birds. Once in a
while, a patient crowd may be seen loitering there all
day, some eating fruit, some reading a newspaper; and to
judge by their quiet demeanour, you would think they were
waiting for a distribution of soup-tickets. The fact is
far otherwise; within in the Justiciary Court a man is
upon trial for his life, and these are some of the
curious for whom the gallery was found too narrow.
Towards afternoon, if the prisoner is unpopular, there
will be a round of hisses when he is brought forth. Once
in a while, too, an advocate in wig and gown, hand upon
mouth, full of pregnant nods, sweeps to and fro in the
arcade listening to an agent; and at certain regular
hours a whole tide of lawyers hurries across the space.

The Parliament Close has been the scene of marking
incidents in Scottish history. Thus, when the Bishops
were ejected from the Convention in 1688, 'all fourteen
of them gathered together with pale faces and stood in a
cloud in the Parliament Close:' poor episcopal personages
who were done with fair weather for life! Some of the
west-country Societarians standing by, who would have
'rejoiced more than in great sums' to be at their
hanging, hustled them so rudely that they knocked their
heads together. It was not magnanimous behaviour to
dethroned enemies; but one, at least, of the Societarians
had groaned in the BOOTS, and they had all seen their
dear friends upon the scaffold. Again, at the 'woeful
Union,' it was here that people crowded to escort their
favourite from the last of Scottish parliaments: people
flushed with nationality, as Boswell would have said,
ready for riotous acts, and fresh from throwing stones at
the author of 'Robinson Crusoe' as he looked out of

One of the pious in the seventeenth century, going
to pass his TRIALS (examinations as we now say) for the
Scottish Bar, beheld the Parliament Close open and had a
vision of the mouth of Hell. This, and small wonder, was
the means of his conversion. Nor was the vision
unsuitable to the locality; for after an hospital, what
uglier piece is there in civilisation than a court of
law? Hither come envy, malice, and all uncharitableness
to wrestle it out in public tourney; crimes, broken
fortunes, severed households, the knave and his victim,
gravitate to this low building with the arcade. To how
many has not St. Giles's bell told the first hour after
ruin? I think I see them pause to count the strokes, and
wander on again into the moving High Street, stunned and
sick at heart.

A pair of swing doors gives admittance to a hall
with a carved roof, hung with legal portraits, adorned
with legal statuary, lighted by windows of painted glass,
and warmed by three vast fires. This is the SALLE DES
PAS PERDUS of the Scottish Bar. Here, by a ferocious
custom, idle youths must promenade from ten till two.
From end to end, singly or in pairs or trios, the gowns
and wigs go back and forward. Through a hum of talk and
footfalls, the piping tones of a Macer announce a fresh
cause and call upon the names of those concerned.
Intelligent men have been walking here daily for ten or
twenty years without a rag of business or a shilling of
reward. In process of time, they may perhaps be made the
Sheriff-Substitute and Fountain of Justice at Lerwick or
Tobermory. There is nothing required, you would say, but
a little patience and a taste for exercise and bad air.
To breathe dust and bombazine, to feed the mind on
cackling gossip, to hear three parts of a case and drink
a glass of sherry, to long with indescribable longings
for the hour when a man may slip out of his travesty and
devote himself to golf for the rest of the afternoon, and
to do this day by day and year after year, may seem so
small a thing to the inexperienced! But those who have
made the experiment are of a different way of thinking,
and count it the most arduous form of idleness.

More swing doors open into pigeon-holes where judges
of the First Appeal sit singly, and halls of audience
where the supreme Lords sit by three or four. Here, you
may see Scott's place within the bar, where he wrote many
a page of Waverley novels to the drone of judicial
proceeding. You will hear a good deal of shrewdness,
and, as their Lordships do not altogether disdain
pleasantry, a fair proportion of dry fun. The broadest
of broad Scotch is now banished from the bench; but the
courts still retain a certain national flavour. We have
a solemn enjoyable way of lingering on a case. We treat
law as a fine art, and relish and digest a good
distinction. There is no hurry: point after point must
be rightly examined and reduced to principle; judge after
judge must utter forth his OBITER DICTA to delighted

Besides the courts, there are installed under the
same roof no less than three libraries: two of no mean
order; confused and semi-subterranean, full of stairs and
galleries; where you may see the most studious-looking
wigs fishing out novels by lanthorn light, in the very
place where the old Privy Council tortured Covenanters.
As the Parliament House is built upon a slope, although
it presents only one story to the north, it measures
half-a-dozen at least upon the south; and range after
range of vaults extend below the libraries. Few places
are more characteristic of this hilly capital. You
descend one stone stair after another, and wander, by the
flicker of a match, in a labyrinth of stone cellars.
Now, you pass below the Outer Hall and hear overhead,
brisk but ghostly, the interminable pattering of legal
feet. Now, you come upon a strong door with a wicket: on
the other side are the cells of the police office and the
trap-stair that gives admittance to the dock in the
Justiciary Court. Many a foot that has gone up there
lightly enough, has been dead-heavy in the descent. Many
a man's life has been argued away from him during long
hours in the court above. But just now that tragic stage
is empty and silent like a church on a week-day, with the
bench all sheeted up and nothing moving but the sunbeams
on the wall. A little farther and you strike upon a
room, not empty like the rest, but crowded with
PRODUCTIONS from bygone criminal cases: a grim lumber:
lethal weapons, poisoned organs in a jar, a door with a
shot-hole through the panel, behind which a man fell
dead. I cannot fancy why they should preserve them
unless it were against the Judgment Day. At length, as
you continue to descend, you see a peep of yellow
gaslight and hear a jostling, whispering noise ahead;
next moment you turn a corner, and there, in a
whitewashed passage, is a machinery belt industriously
turning on its wheels. You would think the engine had
grown there of its own accord, like a cellar fungus, and
would soon spin itself out and fill the vaults from end
to end with its mysterious labours. In truth, it is only
some gear of the steam ventilator; and you will find the
engineers at hand, and may step out of their door into
the sunlight. For all this while, you have not been
descending towards the earth's centre, but only to the
bottom of the hill and the foundations of the Parliament
House; low down, to be sure, but still under the open
heaven and in a field of grass. The daylight shines
garishly on the back windows of the Irish quarter; on
broken shutters, wry gables, old palsied houses on the
brink of ruin, a crumbling human pig-sty fit for human
pigs. There are few signs of life, besides a scanty
washing or a face at a window: the dwellers are abroad,
but they will return at night and stagger to their


THE character of a place is often most perfectly
expressed in its associations. An event strikes root and
grows into a legend, when it has happened amongst
congenial surroundings. Ugly actions, above all in ugly
places, have the true romantic quality, and become an
undying property of their scene. To a man like Scott,
the different appearances of nature seemed each to
contain its own legend ready made, which it was his to
call forth: in such or such a place, only such or such
events ought with propriety to happen; and in this spirit
he made the LADY OF THE LAKE for Ben Venue, the HEART OF
MIDLOTHIAN for Edinburgh, and the PIRATE, so
indifferently written but so romantically conceived, for
the desolate islands and roaring tideways of the North.
The common run of mankind have, from generation to
generation, an instinct almost as delicate as that of
Scott; but where he created new things, they only forget
what is unsuitable among the old; and by survival of the
fittest, a body of tradition becomes a work of art. So,
in the low dens and high-flying garrets of Edinburgh,
people may go back upon dark passages in the town's
adventures, and chill their marrow with winter's tales
about the fire: tales that are singularly apposite and
characteristic, not only of the old life, but of the very
constitution of built nature in that part, and singularly
well qualified to add horror to horror, when the wind
pipes around the tall LANDS, and hoots adown arched
passages, and the far-spread wilderness of city lamps
keeps quavering and flaring in the gusts.

Here, it is the tale of Begbie the bank-porter,
stricken to the heart at a blow and left in his blood
within a step or two of the crowded High Street. There,
people hush their voices over Burke and Hare; over drugs
and violated graves, and the resurrection-men smothering
their victims with their knees. Here, again, the fame of
Deacon Brodie is kept piously fresh. A great man in his
day was the Deacon; well seen in good society, crafty
with his hands as a cabinet-maker, and one who could sing
a song with taste. Many a citizen was proud to welcome
the Deacon to supper, and dismissed him with regret at a
timeous hour, who would have been vastly disconcerted had
he known how soon, and in what guise, his visitor
returned. Many stories are told of this redoubtable
Edinburgh burglar, but the one I have in my mind most
vividly gives the key of all the rest. A friend of
Brodie's, nested some way towards heaven in one of these
great LANDS, had told him of a projected visit to the
country, and afterwards, detained by some affairs, put it
off and stayed the night in town. The good man had lain
some time awake; it was far on in the small hours by the
Tron bell; when suddenly there came a creak, a jar, a
faint light. Softly he clambered out of bed and up to a
false window which looked upon another room, and there,
by the glimmer of a thieves' lantern, was his good friend
the Deacon in a mask. It is characteristic of the town
and the town's manners that this little episode should
have been quietly tided over, and quite a good time
elapsed before a great robbery, an escape, a Bow Street
runner, a cock-fight, an apprehension in a cupboard in
Amsterdam, and a last step into the air off his own
greatly-improved gallows drop, brought the career of
Deacon William Brodie to an end. But still, by the
mind's eye, he may be seen, a man harassed below a
mountain of duplicity, slinking from a magistrate's
supper-room to a thieves' ken, and pickeering among the
closes by the flicker of a dark lamp.

Or where the Deacon is out of favour, perhaps some
memory lingers of the great plagues, and of fatal houses
still unsafe to enter within the memory of man. For in
time of pestilence the discipline had been sharp and
sudden, and what we now call 'stamping out contagion' was
carried on with deadly rigour. The officials, in their
gowns of grey, with a white St. Andrew's cross on back
and breast, and a white cloth carried before them on a
staff, perambulated the city, adding the terror of man's
justice to the fear of God's visitation. The dead they
buried on the Borough Muir; the living who had concealed
the sickness were drowned, if they were women, in the
Quarry Holes, and if they were men, were hanged and
gibbeted at their own doors; and wherever the evil had
passed, furniture was destroyed and houses closed. And
the most bogeyish part of the story is about such houses.
Two generations back they still stood dark and empty;
people avoided them as they passed by; the boldest
schoolboy only shouted through the keyhole and made off;
for within, it was supposed, the plague lay ambushed like
a basilisk, ready to flow forth and spread blain and
pustule through the city. What a terrible next-door
neighbour for superstitious citizens! A rat scampering
within would send a shudder through the stoutest heart.
Here, if you like, was a sanitary parable, addressed by
our uncleanly forefathers to their own neglect.

And then we have Major Weir; for although even his
house is now demolished, old Edinburgh cannot clear
herself of his unholy memory. He and his sister lived
together in an odour of sour piety. She was a marvellous
spinster; he had a rare gift of supplication, and was
known among devout admirers by the name of Angelical
Thomas. 'He was a tall, black man, and ordinarily looked
down to the ground; a grim countenance, and a big nose.
His garb was still a cloak, and somewhat dark, and he
never went without his staff.' How it came about that
Angelical Thomas was burned in company with his staff,
and his sister in gentler manner hanged, and whether
these two were simply religious maniacs of the more
furious order, or had real as well as imaginary sins upon
their old-world shoulders, are points happily beyond the
reach of our intention. At least, it is suitable enough
that out of this superstitious city some such example
should have been put forth: the outcome and fine flower
of dark and vehement religion. And at least the facts
struck the public fancy and brought forth a remarkable
family of myths. It would appear that the Major's staff
went upon his errands, and even ran before him with a
lantern on dark nights. Gigantic females, 'stentoriously
laughing and gaping with tehees of laughter' at
unseasonable hours of night and morning, haunted the
purlieus of his abode. His house fell under such a load
of infamy that no one dared to sleep in it, until
municipal improvement levelled the structure to the
ground. And my father has often been told in the nursery
how the devil's coach, drawn by six coal-black horses
with fiery eyes, would drive at night into the West Bow,
and belated people might see the dead Major through the

Another legend is that of the two maiden sisters. A
legend I am afraid it may be, in the most discreditable
meaning of the term; or perhaps something worse - a mere
yesterday's fiction. But it is a story of some vitality,
and is worthy of a place in the Edinburgh kalendar. This
pair inhabited a single room; from the facts, it must
have been double-bedded; and it may have been of some
dimensions: but when all is said, it was a single room.
Here our two spinsters fell out - on some point of
controversial divinity belike: but fell out so bitterly
that there was never a word spoken between them, black or
white, from that day forward. You would have thought
they would separate: but no; whether from lack of means,
or the Scottish fear of scandal, they continued to keep
house together where they were. A chalk line drawn upon
the floor separated their two domains; it bisected the
doorway and the fireplace, so that each could go out and
in, and do her cooking, without violating the territory
of the other. So, for years, they coexisted in a hateful
silence; their meals, their ablutions, their friendly
visitors, exposed to an unfriendly scrutiny; and at
night, in the dark watches, each could hear the breathing
of her enemy. Never did four walls look down upon an
uglier spectacle than these sisters rivalling in
unsisterliness. Here is a canvas for Hawthorne to have
turned into a cabinet picture - he had a Puritanic vein,
which would have fitted him to treat this Puritanic
horror; he could have shown them to us in their
sicknesses and at their hideous twin devotions, thumbing
a pair of great Bibles, or praying aloud for each other's
penitence with marrowy emphasis; now each, with kilted
petticoat, at her own corner of the fire on some
tempestuous evening; now sitting each at her window,
looking out upon the summer landscape sloping far below
them towards the firth, and the field-paths where they
had wandered hand in hand; or, as age and infirmity grew
upon them and prolonged their toilettes, and their hands
began to tremble and their heads to nod involuntarily,
growing only the more steeled in enmity with years; until
one fine day, at a word, a look, a visit, or the approach
of death, their hearts would melt and the chalk boundary
be overstepped for ever.

Alas! to those who know the ecclesiastical history
of the race - the most perverse and melancholy in man's
annals - this will seem only a figure of much that is
typical of Scotland and her high-seated capital above the
Forth - a figure so grimly realistic that it may pass
with strangers for a caricature. We are wonderful
patient haters for conscience sake up here in the North.
I spoke, in the first of these papers, of the Parliaments
of the Established and Free Churches, and how they can
hear each other singing psalms across the street. There
is but a street between them in space, but a shadow
between them in principle; and yet there they sit,
enchanted, and in damnatory accents pray for each other's
growth in grace. It would be well if there were no more
than two; but the sects in Scotland form a large family
of sisters, and the chalk lines are thickly drawn, and
run through the midst of many private homes. Edinburgh
is a city of churches, as though it were a place of
pilgrimage. You will see four within a stone-cast at the
head of the West Bow. Some are crowded to the doors;
some are empty like monuments; and yet you will ever find
new ones in the building. Hence that surprising clamour
of church bells that suddenly breaks out upon the Sabbath
morning from Trinity and the sea-skirts to Morningside on
the borders of the hills. I have heard the chimes of
Oxford playing their symphony in a golden autumn morning,
and beautiful it was to hear. But in Edinburgh all
manner of loud bells join, or rather disjoin, in one
swelling, brutal babblement of noise. Now one overtakes
another, and now lags behind it; now five or six all
strike on the pained tympanum at the same punctual
instant of time, and make together a dismal chord of
discord; and now for a second all seem to have conspired
to hold their peace. Indeed, there are not many uproars
in this world more dismal than that of the Sabbath bells
in Edinburgh: a harsh ecclesiastical tocsin; the outcry
of incongruous orthodoxies, calling on every separate
conventicler to put up a protest, each in his own
synagogue, against 'right-hand extremes and left-hand
defections.' And surely there are few worse extremes
than this extremity of zeal; and few more deplorable
defections than this disloyalty to Christian love.
Shakespeare wrote a comedy of 'Much Ado about Nothing.'
The Scottish nation made a fantastic tragedy on the same
subject. And it is for the success of this remarkable
piece that these bells are sounded every Sabbath morning
on the hills above the Forth. How many of them might
rest silent in the steeple, how many of these ugly
churches might be demolished and turned once more into
useful building material, if people who think almost
exactly the same thoughts about religion would condescend
to worship God under the same roof! But there are the
chalk lines. And which is to pocket pride, and speak the
foremost word?


IT was Queen Mary who threw open the gardens of the
Grey Friars: a new and semi-rural cemetery in those days,
although it has grown an antiquity in its turn and been
superseded by half-a-dozen others. The Friars must have
had a pleasant time on summer evenings; for their gardens
were situated to a wish, with the tall castle and the
tallest of the castle crags in front. Even now, it is
one of our famous Edinburgh points of view; and strangers
are led thither to see, by yet another instance, how
strangely the city lies upon her hills. The enclosure is
of an irregular shape; the double church of Old and New
Greyfriars stands on the level at the top; a few thorns
are dotted here and there, and the ground falls by
terrace and steep slope towards the north. The open
shows many slabs and table tombstones; and all round the
margin, the place is girt by an array of aristocratic
mausoleums appallingly adorned.

Setting aside the tombs of Roubiliac, which belong
to the heroic order of graveyard art, we Scotch stand, to
my fancy, highest among nations in the matter of grimly
illustrating death. We seem to love for their own sake
the emblems of time and the great change; and even around
country churches you will find a wonderful exhibition of
skulls, and crossbones, and noseless angels, and trumpets
pealing for the Judgment Day. Every mason was a
pedestrian Holbein: he had a deep consciousness of death,
and loved to put its terrors pithily before the
churchyard loiterer; he was brimful of rough hints upon
mortality, and any dead farmer was seized upon to be a
text. The classical examples of this art are in
Greyfriars. In their time, these were doubtless costly
monuments, and reckoned of a very elegant proportion by
contemporaries; and now, when the elegance is not so
apparent, the significance remains. You may perhaps look
with a smile on the profusion of Latin mottoes - some
crawling endwise up the shaft of a pillar, some issuing
on a scroll from angels' trumpets - on the emblematic
horrors, the figures rising headless from the grave, and
all the traditional ingenuities in which it pleased our
fathers to set forth their sorrow for the dead and their
sense of earthly mutability. But it is not a hearty sort
of mirth. Each ornament may have been executed by the
merriest apprentice, whistling as he plied the mallet;
but the original meaning of each, and the combined effect
of so many of them in this quiet enclosure, is serious to
the point of melancholy.

Round a great part of the circuit, houses of a low
class present their backs to the churchyard. Only a few
inches separate the living from the dead. Here, a window
is partly blocked up by the pediment of a tomb; there,
where the street falls far below the level of the graves,
a chimney has been trained up the back of a monument, and
a red pot looks vulgarly over from behind. A damp smell
of the graveyard finds its way into houses where workmen
sit at meat. Domestic life on a small scale goes forward
visibly at the windows. The very solitude and stillness
of the enclosure, which lies apart from the town's
traffic, serves to accentuate the contrast. As you walk
upon the graves, you see children scattering crumbs to
feed the sparrows; you hear people singing or washing
dishes, or the sound of tears and castigation; the linen
on a clothes-pole flaps against funereal sculpture; or
perhaps the cat slips over the lintel and descends on a
memorial urn. And as there is nothing else astir, these
incongruous sights and noises take hold on the attention
and exaggerate the sadness of the place.

Greyfriars is continually overrun by cats. I have
seen one afternoon, as many as thirteen of them seated on
the grass beside old Milne, the Master Builder, all sleek
and fat, and complacently blinking, as if they had fed
upon strange meats. Old Milne was chaunting with the
saints, as we may hope, and cared little for the company
about his grave; but I confess the spectacle had an ugly
side for me; and I was glad to step forward and raise my
eyes to where the Castle and the roofs of the Old Town,
and the spire of the Assembly Hall, stood deployed
against the sky with the colourless precision of
engraving. An open outlook is to be desired from a
churchyard, and a sight of the sky and some of the
world's beauty relieves a mind from morbid thoughts.

I shall never forget one visit. It was a grey,
dropping day; the grass was strung with rain-drops; and
the people in the houses kept hanging out their shirts
and petticoats and angrily taking them in again, as the
weather turned from wet to fair and back again. A grave-
digger, and a friend of his, a gardener from the country,
accompanied me into one after another of the cells and
little courtyards in which it gratified the wealthy of
old days to enclose their old bones from neighbourhood.
In one, under a sort of shrine, we found a forlorn human
effigy, very realistically executed down to the detail of
his ribbed stockings, and holding in his hand a ticket
with the date of his demise. He looked most pitiful and
ridiculous, shut up by himself in his aristocratic
precinct, like a bad old boy or an inferior forgotten
deity under a new dispensation; the burdocks grew
familiarly about his feet, the rain dripped all round
him; and the world maintained the most entire
indifference as to who he was or whither he had gone. In
another, a vaulted tomb, handsome externally but horrible
inside with damp and cobwebs, there were three mounds of
black earth and an uncovered thigh bone. This was the
place of interment, it appeared, of a family with whom
the gardener had been long in service. He was among old
acquaintances. 'This'll be Miss Marg'et's,' said he,
giving the bone a friendly kick. 'The auld - !' I have
always an uncomfortable feeling in a graveyard, at sight
of so many tombs to perpetuate memories best forgotten;
but I never had the impression so strongly as that day.
People had been at some expense in both these cases: to
provoke a melancholy feeling of derision in the one, and
an insulting epithet in the other. The proper
inscription for the most part of mankind, I began to
think, is the cynical jeer, CRAS TIBI. That, if
anything, will stop the mouth of a carper; since it both
admits the worst and carries the war triumphantly into
the enemy's camp.

Greyfriars is a place of many associations. There
was one window in a house at the lower end, now
demolished, which was pointed out to me by the
gravedigger as a spot of legendary interest. Burke, the
resurrection man, infamous for so many murders at five
shillings a-head, used to sit thereat, with pipe and
nightcap, to watch burials going forward on the green.
In a tomb higher up, which must then have been but newly
finished, John Knox, according to the same informant, had
taken refuge in a turmoil of the Reformation. Behind the
church is the haunted mausoleum of Sir George Mackenzie:
Bloody Mackenzie, Lord Advocate in the Covenanting
troubles and author of some pleasing sentiments on
toleration. Here, in the last century, an old Heriot's
Hospital boy once harboured from the pursuit of the
police. The Hospital is next door to Greyfriars - a
courtly building among lawns, where, on Founder's Day,
you may see a multitude of children playing Kiss-in-the-
Ring and Round the Mulberry-bush. Thus, when the
fugitive had managed to conceal himself in the tomb, his
old schoolmates had a hundred opportunities to bring him
food; and there he lay in safety till a ship was found to
smuggle him abroad. But his must have been indeed a
heart of brass, to lie all day and night alone with the
dead persecutor; and other lads were far from emulating
him in courage. When a man's soul is certainly in hell,
his body will scarce lie quiet in a tomb however costly;
some time or other the door must open, and the reprobate
come forth in the abhorred garments of the grave. It was
thought a high piece of prowess to knock at the Lord
Advocate's mausoleum and challenge him to appear.
'Bluidy Mackingie, come oot if ye dar'!' sang the fool-
hardy urchins. But Sir George had other affairs on hand;
and the author of an essay on toleration continues to
sleep peacefully among the many whom he so intolerantly
helped to slay.

For this INFELIX CAMPUS, as it is dubbed in one of
its own inscriptions - an inscription over which Dr.
Johnson passed a critical eye - is in many ways sacred to
the memory of the men whom Mackenzie persecuted. It was
here, on the flat tombstones, that the Covenant was
signed by an enthusiastic people. In the long arm of the
church-yard that extends to Lauriston, the prisoners from
Bothwell Bridge - fed on bread and water and guarded,
life for life, by vigilant marksmen - lay five months
looking for the scaffold or the plantations. And while
the good work was going forward in the Grassmarket,
idlers in Greyfriars might have heard the throb of the
military drums that drowned the voices of the martyrs.
Nor is this all: for down in the corner farthest from Sir
George, there stands a monument dedicated, in uncouth
Covenanting verse, to all who lost their lives in that
contention. There is no moorsman shot in a snow shower
beside Irongray or Co'monell; there is not one of the two
hundred who were drowned off the Orkneys; nor so much as
a poor, over-driven, Covenanting slave in the American
plantations; but can lay claim to a share in that
memorial, and, if such things interest just men among the
shades, can boast he has a monument on earth as well as
Julius Caesar or the Pharaohs. Where they may all lie, I
know not. Far-scattered bones, indeed! But if the
reader cares to learn how some of them - or some part of
some of them - found their way at length to such
honourable sepulture, let him listen to the words of one
who was their comrade in life and their apologist when
they were dead. Some of the insane controversial matter
I omit, as well as some digressions, but leave the rest
in Patrick Walker's language and orthography:-

'The never to be forgotten Mr. JAMES RENWICK TOLD
me, that he was Witness to their Public Murder at the
GALLOWLEE, between LEITH and EDINBURGH, when he saw the
Hangman hash and hagg off all their Five Heads, with
PATRICK FOREMAN'S Right Hand: Their Bodies were all
buried at the Gallows Foot; their Heads, with PATRICK'S
Hand, were brought and put upon five Pikes on the
PLEASAUNCE-PORT. . . . Mr. RENWICK told me also that it
was the first public Action that his Hand was at, to
conveen Friends, and lift their murthered Bodies, and
carried them to the West Churchyard of EDINBURGH,' - not
Greyfriars, this time, - 'and buried them there. Then
they came about the City . . . . and took down these Five
Heads and that Hand; and Day being come, they went
quickly up the PLEASAUNCE; and when they came to
LAURISTOUN Yards, upon the South-side of the City, they
durst not venture, being so light, to go and bury their
Heads with their Bodies, which they designed; it being
present Death, if any of them had been found. ALEXANDER
TWEEDIE, a Friend, being with them, who at that Time was
Gardner in these Yards, concluded to bury them in his
Yard, being in a Box (wrapped in Linen), where they lay
45 Years except 3 Days, being executed upon the 10th of
OCTOBER 1681, and found the 7th Day of OCTOBER 1726.
That Piece of Ground lay for some Years unlaboured; and
trenching it, the Gardner found them, which affrighted
him the Box was consumed. Mr. SCHAW, the Owner of these
Yards, caused lift them, and lay them upon a Table in his
Summer-house: Mr. SCHAW'S mother was so kind, as to cut
out a Linen-cloth, and cover them. They lay Twelve Days
there, where all had Access to see them. ALEXANDER
TWEEDIE, the foresaid Gardner, said, when dying, There
was a Treasure hid in his Yard, but neither Gold nor
Silver. DANIEL TWEEDIE, his Son, came along with me to
that Yard, and told me that his Father planted a white
Rose-bush above them, and farther down the Yard a red
Rose-bush, which were more fruitful than any other Bush
in the Yard. . . . Many came' - to see the heads - 'out
of Curiosity; yet I rejoiced to see so many concerned
grave Men and Women favouring the Dust of our Martyrs.
There were Six of us concluded to bury them upon the
Nineteenth Day of OCTOBER 1726, and every One of us to
acquaint Friends of the Day and Hour, being WEDNESDAY,
the Day of the Week on which most of them were executed,
and at 4 of the Clock at Night, being the Hour that most
of them went to their resting Graves. We caused make a
compleat Coffin for them in Black, with four Yards of
fine Linen, the way that our Martyrs Corps were managed.
. . . Accordingly we kept the aforesaid Day and Hour, and
doubled the Linen, and laid the Half of it below them,
their nether jaws being parted from their Heads; but
being young Men, their Teeth remained. All were Witness
to the Holes in each of their Heads, which the Hangman
broke with his Hammer; and according to the Bigness of
their Sculls, we laid the Jaws to them, and drew the
other Half of the Linen above them, and stufft the Coffin
with Shavings. Some prest hard to go thorow the chief
Parts of the City as was done at the Revolution; but this
we refused, considering that it looked airy and frothy,
to make such Show of them, and inconsistent with the
solid serious Observing of such an affecting, surprizing
unheard-of Dispensation: But took the ordinary Way of
other Burials from that Place, to wit, we went east the
Back of the Wall, and in at BRISTO-PORT, and down the Way
to the Head of the COWGATE, and turned up to the Church-
yard, where they were interred closs to the Martyrs Tomb,
with the greatest Multitude of People Old and Young, Men
and Women, Ministers and others, that ever I saw

And so there they were at last, in 'their resting
graves.' So long as men do their duty, even if it be
greatly in a misapprehension, they will be leading
pattern lives; and whether or not they come to lie beside
a martyrs' monument, we may be sure they will find a safe
haven somewhere in the providence of God. It is not well
to think of death, unless we temper the thought with that
of heroes who despised it. Upon what ground, is of small
account; if it be only the bishop who was burned for his
faith in the antipodes, his memory lightens the heart and
makes us walk undisturbed among graves. And so the
martyrs' monument is a wholesome, heartsome spot in the
field of the dead; and as we look upon it, a brave
influence comes to us from the land of those who have won
their discharge and, in another phrase of Patrick
Walker's, got 'cleanly off the stage.'


IT is as much a matter of course to decry the New
Town as to exalt the Old; and the most celebrated
authorities have picked out this quarter as the very
emblem of what is condemnable in architecture. Much may
be said, much indeed has been said, upon the text; but to
the unsophisticated, who call anything pleasing if it
only pleases them, the New Town of Edinburgh seems, in
itself, not only gay and airy, but highly picturesque.
An old skipper, invincibly ignorant of all theories of
the sublime and beautiful, once propounded as his most
radiant notion for Paradise: 'The new town of Edinburgh,
with the wind a matter of a point free.' He has now gone
to that sphere where all good tars are promised pleasant
weather in the song, and perhaps his thoughts fly
somewhat higher. But there are bright and temperate days
- with soft air coming from the inland hills, military
music sounding bravely from the hollow of the gardens,
the flags all waving on the palaces of Princes Street -
when I have seen the town through a sort of glory, and
shaken hands in sentiment with the old sailor. And
indeed, for a man who has been much tumbled round
Orcadian skerries, what scene could be more agreeable to
witness? On such a day, the valley wears a surprising
air of festival. It seems (I do not know how else to put
my meaning) as if it were a trifle too good to be true.
It is what Paris ought to be. It has the scenic quality
that would best set off a life of unthinking, open-air
diversion. It was meant by nature for the realisation of
the society of comic operas. And you can imagine, if the
climate were but towardly, how all the world and his wife
would flock into these gardens in the cool of the
evening, to hear cheerful music, to sip pleasant drinks,
to see the moon rise from behind Arthur's Seat and shine
upon the spires and monuments and the green tree-tops in
the valley. Alas! and the next morning the rain is
splashing on the windows, and the passengers flee along
Princes Street before the galloping squalls.

It cannot be denied that the original design was
faulty and short-sighted, and did not fully profit by the
capabilities of the situation. The architect was
essentially a town bird, and he laid out the modern city
with a view to street scenery, and to street scenery
alone. The country did not enter into his plan; he had
never lifted his eyes to the hills. If he had so chosen,
every street upon the northern slope might have been a
noble terrace and commanded an extensive and beautiful
view. But the space has been too closely built; many of
the houses front the wrong way, intent, like the Man with
the Muck-Rake, on what is not worth observation, and
standing discourteously back-foremost in the ranks; and,
in a word, it is too often only from attic-windows, or
here and there at a crossing, that you can get a look
beyond the city upon its diversified surroundings. But
perhaps it is all the more surprising, to come suddenly
on a corner, and see a perspective of a mile or more of
falling street, and beyond that woods and villas, and a
blue arm of sea, and the hills upon the farther side.

Fergusson, our Edinburgh poet, Burns's model, once
saw a butterfly at the Town Cross; and the sight inspired
him with a worthless little ode. This painted country
man, the dandy of the rose garden, looked far abroad in
such a humming neighbourhood; and you can fancy what
moral considerations a youthful poet would supply. But
the incident, in a fanciful sort of way, is
characteristic of the place. Into no other city does the
sight of the country enter so far; if you do not meet a
butterfly, you shall certainly catch a glimpse of far-
away trees upon your walk; and the place is full of
theatre tricks in the way of scenery. You peep under an
arch, you descend stairs that look as if they would land
you in a cellar, you turn to the back-window of a grimy
tenement in a lane:- and behold! you are face-to-face
with distant and bright prospects. You turn a corner,
and there is the sun going down into the Highland hills.
You look down an alley, and see ships tacking for the

For the country people to see Edinburgh on her hill-
tops, is one thing; it is another for the citizen, from
the thick of his affairs, to overlook the country. It
should be a genial and ameliorating influence in life; it
should prompt good thoughts and remind him of Nature's
unconcern: that he can watch from day to day, as he trots
officeward, how the Spring green brightens in the wood or
the field grows black under a moving ploughshare. I have
been tempted, in this connexion, to deplore the slender
faculties of the human race, with its penny-whistle of a
voice, its dull cars, and its narrow range of sight. If
you could see as people are to see in heaven, if you had
eyes such as you can fancy for a superior race, if you
could take clear note of the objects of vision, not only
a few yards, but a few miles from where you stand:- think
how agreeably your sight would be entertained, how
pleasantly your thoughts would be diversified, as you
walked the Edinburgh streets! For you might pause, in
some business perplexity, in the midst of the city
traffic, and perhaps catch the eye of a shepherd as he
sat down to breathe upon a heathery shoulder of the
Pentlands; or perhaps some urchin, clambering in a
country elm, would put aside the leaves and show you his
flushed and rustic visage; or a fisher racing seawards,
with the tiller under his elbow, and the sail sounding in
the wind, would fling you a salutation from between
Anst'er and the May.

To be old is not the same thing as to be
picturesque; nor because the Old Town bears a strange
physiognomy, does it at all follow that the New Town
shall look commonplace. Indeed, apart from antique
houses, it is curious how much description would apply
commonly to either. The same sudden accidents of ground,
a similar dominating site above the plain, and the same
superposition of one rank of society over another, are to
be observed in both. Thus, the broad and comely approach
to Princes Street from the east, lined with hotels and
public offices, makes a leap over the gorge of the Low
Calton; if you cast a glance over the parapet, you look
direct into that sunless and disreputable confluent of
Leith Street; and the same tall houses open upon both
thoroughfares. This is only the New Town passing
overhead above its own cellars; walking, so to speak,
over its own children, as is the way of cities and the
human race. But at the Dean Bridge, you may behold a
spectacle of a more novel order. The river runs at the
bottom of a deep valley, among rocks and between gardens;
the crest of either bank is occupied by some of the most
commodious streets and crescents in the modern city; and
a handsome bridge unites the two summits. Over this,
every afternoon, private carriages go spinning by, and
ladies with card-cases pass to and fro about the duties
of society. And yet down below, you may still see, with
its mills and foaming weir, the little rural village of
Dean. Modern improvement has gone overhead on its high-
level viaduct; and the extended city has cleanly
overleapt, and left unaltered, what was once the summer
retreat of its comfortable citizens. Every town embraces
hamlets in its growth; Edinburgh herself has embraced a
good few; but it is strange to see one still surviving -
and to see it some hundreds of feet below your path. Is
it Torre del Greco that is built above buried
Herculaneum? Herculaneum was dead at least; but the sun
still shines upon the roofs of Dean; the smoke still
rises thriftily from its chimneys; the dusty miller comes
to his door, looks at the gurgling water, hearkens to the
turning wheel and the birds about the shed, and perhaps
whistles an air of his own to enrich the symphony - for
all the world as if Edinburgh were still the old
Edinburgh on the Castle Hill, and Dean were still the
quietest of hamlets buried a mile or so in the green

It is not so long ago since magisterial David Hume
lent the authority of his example to the exodus from the
Old Town, and took up his new abode in a street which is
still (so oddly may a jest become perpetuated) known as
Saint David Street. Nor is the town so large but a
holiday schoolboy may harry a bird's nest within half a
mile of his own door. There are places that still smell
of the plough in memory's nostrils. Here, one had heard
a blackbird on a hawthorn; there, another was taken on
summer evenings to eat strawberries and cream; and you
have seen a waving wheatfield on the site of your present
residence. The memories of an Edinburgh boy are but
partly memories of the town. I look back with delight on
many an escalade of garden walls; many a ramble among
lilacs full of piping birds; many an exploration in
obscure quarters that were neither town nor country; and
I think that both for my companions and myself, there was
a special interest, a point of romance, and a sentiment
as of foreign travel, when we hit in our excursions on
the butt-end of some former hamlet, and found a few
rustic cottages embedded among streets and squares. The
tunnel to the Scotland Street Station, the sight of the
trains shooting out of its dark maw with the two guards
upon the brake, the thought of its length and the many
ponderous edifices and open thoroughfares above, were
certainly things of paramount impressiveness to a young
mind. It was a subterranean passage, although of a
larger bore than we were accustomed to in Ainsworth's
novels; and these two words, 'subterreanean passage,'
were in themselves an irresistible attraction, and seemed
to bring us nearer in spirit to the heroes we loved and
the black rascals we secretly aspired to imitate. To
scale the Castle Rock from West Princes Street Gardens,
and lay a triumphal hand against the rampart itself, was
to taste a high order of romantic pleasure. And there
are other sights and exploits which crowd back upon my
mind under a very strong illumination of remembered
pleasure. But the effect of not one of them all will
compare with the discoverer's joy, and the sense of old
Time and his slow changes on the face of this earth, with
which I explored such corners as Cannonmills or Water
Lane, or the nugget of cottages at Broughton Market.
They were more rural than the open country, and gave a
greater impression of antiquity than the oldest LAND upon
the High Street. They too, like Fergusson's butterfly,
had a quaint air of having wandered far from their own
place; they looked abashed and homely, with their gables
and their creeping plants, their outside stairs and
running mill-streams; there were corners that smelt like
the end of the country garden where I spent my Aprils;
and the people stood to gossip at their doors, as they
might have done in Colinton or Cramond.

In a great measure we may, and shall, eradicate this
haunting flavour of the country. The last elm is dead in
Elm Row; and the villas and the workmen's quarters spread
apace on all the borders of the city. We can cut down
the trees; we can bury the grass under dead paving-
stones; we can drive brisk streets through all our sleepy
quarters; and we may forget the stories and the
playgrounds of our boyhood. But we have some possessions
that not even the infuriate zeal of builders can utterly
abolish and destroy. Nothing can abolish the hills,
unless it be a cataclysm of nature which shall subvert
Edinburgh Castle itself and lay all her florid structures
in the dust. And as long as we have the hills and the
Firth, we have a famous heritage to leave our children.
Our windows, at no expense to us, are most artfully
stained to represent a landscape. And when the Spring
comes round, and the hawthorns begin to flower, and the
meadows to smell of young grass, even in the thickest of
our streets, the country hilltops find out a young man's
eyes, and set his heart beating for travel and pure air.


MR. RUSKIN'S denunciation of the New Town of
Edinburgh includes, as I have heard it repeated, nearly
all the stone and lime we have to show. Many however
find a grand air and something settled and imposing in
the better parts; and upon many, as I have said, the
confusion of styles induces an agreeable stimulation of
the mind. But upon the subject of our recent villa
architecture, I am frankly ready to mingle my tears with
Mr. Ruskin's, and it is a subject which makes one envious
of his large declamatory and controversial eloquence.

Day by day, one new villa, one new object of
offence, is added to another; all around Newington and
Morningside, the dismallest structures keep springing up
like mushrooms; the pleasant hills are loaded with them,
each impudently squatted in its garden, each roofed and
carrying chimneys like a house. And yet a glance of an
eye discovers their true character. They are not houses;
for they were not designed with a view to human
habitation, and the internal arrangements are, as they
tell me, fantastically unsuited to the needs of man.
They are not buildings; for you can scarcely say a thing
is built where every measurement is in clamant
disproportion with its neighbour. They belong to no
style of art, only to a form of business much to be

Why should it be cheaper to erect a structure where
the size of the windows bears no rational relation to the
size of the front? Is there any profit in a misplaced
chimney-stalk? Does a hard-working, greedy builder gain
more on a monstrosity than on a decent cottage of equal
plainness? Frankly, we should say, No. Bricks may be
omitted, and green timber employed, in the construction
of even a very elegant design; and there is no reason why
a chimney should be made to vent, because it is so
situated as to look comely from without. On the other
hand, there is a noble way of being ugly: a high-aspiring
fiasco like the fall of Lucifer. There are daring and
gaudy buildings that manage to be offensive, without
being contemptible; and we know that 'fools rush in where
angels fear to tread.' But to aim at making a common-
place villa, and to make it insufferably ugly in each
particular; to attempt the homeliest achievement, and to
attain the bottom of derided failure; not to have any
theory but profit and yet, at an equal expense, to
outstrip all competitors in the art of conceiving and
rendering permanent deformity; and to do all this in what
is, by nature, one of the most agreeable neighbourhoods
in Britain:- what are we to say, but that this also is a
distinction, hard to earn although not greatly

Indifferent buildings give pain to the sensitive;
but these things offend the plainest taste. It is a
danger which threatens the amenity of the town; and as
this eruption keeps spreading on our borders, we have
ever the farther to walk among unpleasant sights, before
we gain the country air. If the population of Edinburgh
were a living, autonomous body, it would arise like one
man and make night hideous with arson; the builders and
their accomplices would be driven to work, like the Jews
of yore, with the trowel in one hand and the defensive
cutlass in the other; and as soon as one of these masonic
wonders had been consummated, right-minded iconoclasts
should fall thereon and make an end of it at once.

Possibly these words may meet the eye of a builder
or two. It is no use asking them to employ an architect;
for that would be to touch them in a delicate quarter,
and its use would largely depend on what architect they
were minded to call in. But let them get any architect
in the world to point out any reasonably well-
proportioned villa, not his own design; and let them
reproduce that model to satiety.


THE east of new Edinburgh is guarded by a craggy
hill, of no great elevation, which the town embraces.
The old London road runs on one side of it; while the New
Approach, leaving it on the other hand, completes the
circuit. You mount by stairs in a cutting of the rock to
find yourself in a field of monuments. Dugald Stewart
has the honours of situation and architecture; Burns is
memorialised lower down upon a spur; Lord Nelson, as
befits a sailor, gives his name to the top-gallant of the
Calton Hill. This latter erection has been differently
and yet, in both cases, aptly compared to a telescope and
a butter-churn; comparisons apart, it ranks among the
vilest of men's handiworks. But the chief feature is an
unfinished range of columns, 'the Modern Ruin' as it has
been called, an imposing object from far and near, and
giving Edinburgh, even from the sea, that false air; of a
Modern Athens which has earned for her so many slighting
speeches. It was meant to be a National Monument; and
its present state is a very suitable monument to certain
national characteristics. The old Observatory - a quaint
brown building on the edge of the steep - and the new
Observatory - a classical edifice with a dome - occupy
the central portion of the summit. All these are
scattered on a green turf, browsed over by some sheep.

The scene suggests reflections on fame and on man's
injustice to the dead. You see Dugald Stewart rather
more handsomely commemorated than Burns. Immediately
below, in the Canongate churchyard, lies Robert
Fergusson, Burns's master in his art, who died insane
while yet a stripling; and if Dugald Stewart has been
somewhat too boisterously acclaimed, the Edinburgh poet,
on the other hand, is most unrighteously forgotten. The
votaries of Burns, a crew too common in all ranks in
Scotland and more remarkable for number than discretion,
eagerly suppress all mention of the lad who handed to him
the poetic impulse and, up to the time when he grew
famous, continued to influence him in his manner and the
choice of subjects. Burns himself not only acknowledged
his debt in a fragment of autobiography, but erected a
tomb over the grave in Canongate churchyard. This was
worthy of an artist, but it was done in vain; and
although I think I have read nearly all the biographies
of Burns, I cannot remember one in which the modesty of
nature was not violated, or where Fergusson was not
sacrificed to the credit of his follower's originality.
There is a kind of gaping admiration that would fain roll
Shakespeare and Bacon into one, to have a bigger thing to
gape at; and a class of men who cannot edit one author
without disparaging all others. They are indeed mistaken
if they think to please the great originals; and whoever
puts Fergusson right with fame, cannot do better than
dedicate his labours to the memory of Burns, who will be
the best delighted of the dead.

Of all places for a view, this Calton Hill is
perhaps the best; since you can see the Castle, which you
lose from the Castle, and Arthur's Seat, which you cannot
see from Arthur's Seat. It is the place to stroll on one
of those days of sunshine and east wind which are so
common in our more than temperate summer. The breeze
comes off the sea, with a little of the freshness, and
that touch of chill, peculiar to the quarter, which is
delightful to certain very ruddy organizations and
greatly the reverse to the majority of mankind. It
brings with it a faint, floating haze, a cunning
decolourizer, although not thick enough to obscure
outlines near at hand. But the haze lies more thickly to
windward at the far end of Musselburgh Bay; and over the
Links of Aberlady and Berwick Law and the hump of the
Bass Rock it assumes the aspect of a bank of thin sea

Immediately underneath upon the south, you command
the yards of the High School, and the towers and courts
of the new Jail - a large place, castellated to the
extent of folly, standing by itself on the edge of a
steep cliff, and often joyfully hailed by tourists as the
Castle. In the one, you may perhaps see female prisoners
taking exercise like a string of nuns; in the other,
schoolboys running at play and their shadows keeping step
with them. From the bottom of the valley, a gigantic
chimney rises almost to the level of the eye, a taller
and a shapelier edifice than Nelson's Monument. Look a
little farther, and there is Holyrood Palace, with its
Gothic frontal and ruined abbey, and the red sentry
pacing smartly too and fro before the door like a
mechanical figure in a panorama. By way of an outpost,
you can single out the little peak-roofed lodge, over
which Rizzio's murderers made their escape and where
Queen Mary herself, according to gossip, bathed in white
wine to entertain her loveliness. Behind and overhead,
lie the Queen's Park, from Muschat's Cairn to
Dumbiedykes, St. Margaret's Loch, and the long wall of
Salisbury Crags: and thence, by knoll and rocky bulwark
and precipitous slope, the eye rises to the top of
Arthur's Seat, a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue
of its bold design. This upon your left. Upon the
right, the roofs and spires of the Old Town climb one
above another to where the citadel prints its broad bulk
and jagged crown of bastions on the western sky. -
Perhaps it is now one in the afternoon; and at the same
instant of time, a ball rises to the summit of Nelson's
flagstaff close at hand, and, far away, a puff of smoke
followed by a report bursts from the half-moon battery at
the Castle. This is the time-gun by which people set
their watches, as far as the sea coast or in hill farms
upon the Pentlands. - To complete the view, the eye
enfilades Princes Street, black with traffic, and has a
broad look over the valley between the Old Town and the
New: here, full of railway trains and stepped over by the
high North Bridge upon its many columns, and there, green
with trees and gardens.

On the north, the Calton Hill is neither so abrupt
in itself nor has it so exceptional an outlook; and yet
even here it commands a striking prospect. A gully
separates it from the New Town. This is Greenside, where
witches were burned and tournaments held in former days.
Down that almost precipitous bank, Bothwell launched his
horse, and so first, as they say, attracted the bright
eyes of Mary. It is now tesselated with sheets and
blankets out to dry, and the sound of people beating
carpets is rarely absent. Beyond all this, the suburbs
run out to Leith; Leith camps on the seaside with her
forest of masts; Leith roads are full of ships at anchor;
the sun picks out the white pharos upon Inchkeith Island;
the Firth extends on either hand from the Ferry to the
May; the towns of Fifeshire sit, each in its bank of
blowing smoke, along the opposite coast; and the hills
enclose the view, except to the farthest east, where the
haze of the horizon rests upon the open sea. There lies
the road to Norway: a dear road for Sir Patrick Spens and
his Scots Lords; and yonder smoke on the hither side of
Largo Law is Aberdour, from whence they sailed to seek a
queen for Scotland.

'O lang, lang, may the ladies sit,
Wi' their fans into their hand,
Or ere they see Sir Patrick Spens
Come sailing to the land!'

The sight of the sea, even from a city, will bring
thoughts of storm and sea disaster. The sailors' wives
of Leith and the fisherwomen of Cockenzie, not sitting
languorously with fans, but crowding to the tail of the
harbour with a shawl about their ears, may still look
vainly for brave Scotsmen who will return no more, or
boats that have gone on their last fishing. Since Sir
Patrick sailed from Aberdour, what a multitude have gone
down in the North Sea! Yonder is Auldhame, where the
London smack went ashore and wreckers cut the rings from
ladies' fingers; and a few miles round Fife Ness is the
fatal Inchcape, now a star of guidance; and the lee shore
to the east of the Inchcape, is that Forfarshire coast
where Mucklebackit sorrowed for his son.

These are the main features of the scene roughly
sketched. How they are all tilted by the inclination of
the ground, how each stands out in delicate relief
against the rest, what manifold detail, and play of sun
and shadow, animate and accentuate the picture, is a
matter for a person on the spot, and turning swiftly on
his heels, to grasp and bind together in one
comprehensive look. It is the character of such a
prospect, to be full of change and of things moving. The
multiplicity embarrasses the eye; and the mind, among so
much, suffers itself to grow absorbed with single points.
You remark a tree in a hedgerow, or follow a cart along a
country road. You turn to the city, and see children,
dwarfed by distance into pigmies, at play about suburban
doorsteps; you have a glimpse upon a thoroughfare where
people are densely moving; you note ridge after ridge of
chimney-stacks running downhill one behind another, and
church spires rising bravely from the sea of roofs. At
one of the innumerable windows, you watch a figure
moving; on one of the multitude of roofs, you watch
clambering chimney-sweeps. The wind takes a run and
scatters the smoke; bells are heard, far and near, faint
and loud, to tell the hour; or perhaps a bird goes
dipping evenly over the housetops, like a gull across the
waves. And here you are in the meantime, on this
pastoral hillside, among nibbling sheep and looked upon
by monumental buildings.

Return thither on some clear, dark, moonless night,
with a ring of frost in the air, and only a star or two
set sparsedly in the vault of heaven; and you will find a
sight as stimulating as the hoariest summit of the Alps.
The solitude seems perfect; the patient astronomer, flat
on his back under the Observatory dome and spying
heaven's secrets, is your only neighbour; and yet from
all round you there come up the dull hum of the city, the
tramp of countless people marching out of time, the
rattle of carriages and the continuous keen jingle of the
tramway bells. An hour or so before, the gas was turned
on; lamplighters scoured the city; in every house, from
kitchen to attic, the windows kindled and gleamed forth
into the dusk. And so now, although the town lies blue
and darkling on her hills, innumerable spots of the
bright element shine far and near along the pavements and
upon the high facades. Moving lights of the railway pass
and repass below the stationary lights upon the bridge.
Lights burn in the jail. Lights burn high up in the tall
LANDS and on the Castle turrets, they burn low down in
Greenside or along the Park. They run out one beyond the
other into the dark country. They walk in a procession
down to Leith, and shine singly far along Leith Pier.
Thus, the plan of the city and her suburbs is mapped out
upon the ground of blackness, as when a child pricks a
drawing full of pinholes and exposes it before a candle;
not the darkest night of winter can conceal her high
station and fanciful design; every evening in the year
she proceeds to illuminate herself in honour of her own
beauty; and as if to complete the scheme - or rather as
if some prodigal Pharaoh were beginning to extend to the
adjacent sea and country - half-way over to Fife, there
is an outpost of light upon Inchkeith, and far to
seaward, yet another on the May.

And while you are looking, across upon the Castle
Hill, the drums and bugles begin to recall the scattered
garrison; the air thrills with the sound; the bugles sing
aloud; and the last rising flourish mounts and melts into
the darkness like a star: a martial swan-song, fitly
rounding in the labours of the day.


THE Scotch dialect is singularly rich in terms of
reproach against the winter wind. SNELL, BLAE, NIRLY,
and SCOWTHERING, are four of these significant vocables;
they are all words that carry a shiver with them; and for
my part, as I see them aligned before me on the page, I
am persuaded that a big wind comes tearing over the Firth
from Burntisland and the northern hills; I think I can
hear it howl in the chimney, and as I set my face
northwards, feel its smarting kisses on my cheek. Even
in the names of places there is often a desolate,
inhospitable sound; and I remember two from the near
neighbourhood of Edinburgh, Cauldhame and Blaw-weary,
that would promise but starving comfort to their
inhabitants. The inclemency of heaven, which has thus
endowed the language of Scotland with words, has also
largely modified the spirit of its poetry. Both poverty
and a northern climate teach men the love of the hearth
and the sentiment of the family; and the latter, in its
own right, inclines a poet to the praise of strong
waters. In Scotland, all our singers have a stave or two
for blazing fires and stout potations:- to get indoors
out of the wind and to swallow something hot to the
stomach, are benefits so easily appreciated where they

And this is not only so in country districts where
the shepherd must wade in the snow all day after his
flock, but in Edinburgh itself, and nowhere more
apparently stated than in the works of our Edinburgh
poet, Fergusson. He was a delicate youth, I take it, and
willingly slunk from the robustious winter to an inn
fire-side. Love was absent from his life, or only
present, if you prefer, in such a form that even the
least serious of Burns's amourettes was ennobling by
comparison; and so there is nothing to temper the
sentiment of indoor revelry which pervades the poor boy's
verses. Although it is characteristic of his native
town, and the manners of its youth to the present day,
this spirit has perhaps done something to restrict his
popularity. He recalls a supper-party pleasantry with
something akin to tenderness; and sounds the praises of
the act of drinking as if it were virtuous, or at least
witty, in itself. The kindly jar, the warm atmosphere of
tavern parlours, and the revelry of lawyers' clerks, do
not offer by themselves the materials of a rich
existence. It was not choice, so much as an external
fate, that kept Fergusson in this round of sordid
pleasures. A Scot of poetic temperament, and without
religious exaltation, drops as if by nature into the
public-house. The picture may not be pleasing; but what
else is a man to do in this dog's weather?

To none but those who have themselves suffered the
thing in the body, can the gloom and depression of our
Edinburgh winter be brought home. For some constitutions
there is something almost physically disgusting in the
bleak ugliness of easterly weather; the wind wearies, the
sickly sky depresses them; and they turn back from their
walk to avoid the aspect of the unrefulgent sun going
down among perturbed and pallid mists. The days are so
short that a man does much of his business, and certainly
all his pleasure, by the haggard glare of gas lamps. The
roads are as heavy as a fallow. People go by, so
drenched and draggle-tailed that I have often wondered
how they found the heart to undress. And meantime the
wind whistles through the town as if it were an open
meadow; and if you lie awake all night, you hear it
shrieking and raving overhead with a noise of shipwrecks
and of falling houses. In a word, life is so unsightly
that there are times when the heart turns sick in a man's
inside; and the look of a tavern, or the thought of the
warm, fire-lit study, is like the touch of land to one
who has been long struggling with the seas.

As the weather hardens towards frost, the world
begins to improve for Edinburgh people. We enjoy superb,
sub-arctic sunsets, with the profile of the city stamped
in indigo upon a sky of luminous green. The wind may
still be cold, but there is a briskness in the air that
stirs good blood. People do not all look equally sour
and downcast. They fall into two divisions: one, the
knight of the blue face and hollow paunch, whom Winter
has gotten by the vitals; the other well lined with New-
year's fare, conscious of the touch of cold on his
periphery, but stepping through it by the glow of his
internal fires. Such an one I remember, triply cased in
grease, whom no extremity of temperature could vanquish.
'Well,' would be his jovial salutation, 'here's a
sneezer!' And the look of these warm fellows is tonic,
and upholds their drooping fellow-townsmen. There is yet
another class who do not depend on corporal advantages,
but support the winter in virtue of a brave and merry
heart. One shivering evening, cold enough for frost but
with too high a wind, and a little past sundown, when the
lamps were beginning to enlarge their circles in the
growing dusk, a brace of barefoot lassies were seen
coming eastward in the teeth of the wind. If the one was
as much as nine, the other was certainly not more than
seven. They were miserably clad; and the pavement was so
cold, you would have thought no one could lay a naked
foot on it unflinching. Yet they came along waltzing, if
you please, while the elder sang a tune to give them
music. The person who saw this, and whose heart was full
of bitterness at the moment, pocketed a reproof which has
been of use to him ever since, and which he now hands on,
with his good wishes, to the reader.

At length, Edinburgh, with her satellite hills and
all the sloping country, are sheeted up in white. If it
has happened in the dark hours, nurses pluck their
children out of bed and run with them to some commanding
window, whence they may see the change that has been
worked upon earth's face. 'A' the hills are covered wi'
snaw,' they sing, 'and Winter's noo come fairly!' And
the children, marvelling at the silence and the white
landscape, find a spell appropriate to the season in the
words. The reverberation of the snow increases the pale
daylight, and brings all objects nearer the eye. The
Pentlands are smooth and glittering, with here and there
the black ribbon of a dry-stone dyke, and here and there,
if there be wind, a cloud of blowing snow upon a
shoulder. The Firth seems a leaden creek, that a man
might almost jump across, between well-powdered Lothian
and well-powdered Fife. And the effect is not, as in
other cities, a thing of half a day; the streets are soon
trodden black, but the country keeps its virgin white;
and you have only to lift your eyes and look over miles
of country snow. An indescribable cheerfulness breathes
about the city; and the well-fed heart sits lightly and
beats gaily in the - bosom. It is New-year's weather.

New-year's Day, the great national festival, is a
time of family expansions and of deep carousal.
Sometimes, by a sore stoke of fate for this Calvinistic
people, the year's anniversary fails upon a Sunday, when
the public-houses are inexorably closed, when singing and
even whistling is banished from our homes and highways,
and the oldest toper feels called upon to go to church.
Thus pulled about, as if between two loyalties, the
Scotch have to decide many nice cases of conscience, and
ride the marches narrowly between the weekly and the
annual observance. A party of convivial musicians, next
door to a friend of mine, hung suspended in this manner
on the brink of their diversions. From ten o'clock on
Sunday night, my friend heard them tuning their
instruments: and as the hour of liberty drew near, each
must have had his music open, his bow in readiness across
the fiddle, his foot already raised to mark the time, and
his nerves braced for execution; for hardly had the
twelfth stroke. sounded from the earliest steeple, before
they had launced forth into a secular bravura.

Currant-loaf is now popular eating in all house-
holds. For weeks before the great morning, confectioners
display stacks of Scotch bun - a dense, black substance,
inimical to life - and full moons of shortbread adorned
with mottoes of peel or sugar-plum, in honour of the
season and the family affections. 'Frae Auld Reekie,' 'A
guid New Year to ye a',' 'For the Auld Folk at Hame,' are
among the most favoured of these devices. Can you not
see the carrier, after half-a-day's journey on pinching
hill-roads, draw up before a cottage in Teviotdale, or
perhaps in Manor Glen among the rowans, and the old
people receiving the parcel with moist eyes and a prayer
for Jock or Jean in the city? For at this season, on the
threshold of another year of calamity and stubborn
conflict, men feel a need to draw closer the links that
unite them; they reckon the number of their friends, like
allies before a war; and the prayers grow longer in the
morning as the absent are recommended by name into God's

On the day itself, the shops are all shut as on a
Sunday; only taverns, toyshops, and other holiday
magazines, keep open doors. Every one looks for his
handsel. The postman and the lamplighters have left, at
every house in their districts, a copy of vernacular
verses, asking and thanking in a breath; and it is
characteristic of Scotland that these verses may have
sometimes a touch of reality in detail or sentiment and a
measure of strength in the handling. All over the town,
you may see comforter'd schoolboys hasting to squander
their half-crowns. There are an infinity of visits to be
paid; all the world is in the street, except the daintier
classes; the sacramental greeting is heard upon all
sides; Auld Lang Syne is much in people's mouths; and
whisky and shortbread are staple articles of consumption.
From an early hour a stranger will be impressed by the
number of drunken men; and by afternoon drunkenness has
spread to the women. With some classes of society, it is
as much a matter of duty to drink hard on New-year's Day
as to go to church on Sunday. Some have been saving
their wages for perhaps a month to do the season honour.
Many carry a whisky-bottle in their pocket, which they
will press with embarrassing effusion on a perfect
stranger. It is inexpedient to risk one's body in a cab,
or not, at least, until after a prolonged study of the
driver. The streets, which are thronged from end to end,
become a place for delicate pilotage. Singly or arm-in-
arm, some speechless, others noisy and quarrelsome, the
votaries of the New Year go meandering in and out and
cannoning one against another; and now and again, one
falls and lies as he has fallen. Before night, so many
have gone to bed or the police office, that the streets
seem almost clearer. And as GUISARDS and FIRST-FOOTERS
are now not much seen except in country places, when once
the New Year has been rung in and proclaimed at the Tron
railings, the festivities begin to find their way indoors
and something like quiet returns upon the town. But
think, in these piled LANDS, of all the senseless
snorers, all the broken heads and empty pockets!

Of old, Edinburgh University was the scene of heroic
snowballing; and one riot obtained the epic honours of
military intervention. But the great generation, I am
afraid, is at an end; and even during my own college
days, the spirit appreciably declined. Skating and
sliding, on the other hand, are honoured more and more;
and curling, being a creature of the national genius, is
little likely to be disregarded. The patriotism that
leads a man to eat Scotch bun will scarce desert him at
the curling-pond. Edinburgh, with its long, steep
pavements, is the proper home of sliders; many a happy
urchin can slide the whole way to school; and the
profession of errand-boy is transformed into a holiday
amusement. As for skating, there is scarce any city so
handsomely provided. Duddingstone Loch lies under the
abrupt southern side of Arthur's Seat; in summer a shield
of blue, with swans sailing from the reeds; in winter, a
field of ringing ice. The village church sits above it
on a green promontory; and the village smoke rises from
among goodly trees. At the church gates, is the
historical JOUG; a place of penance for the neck of
detected sinners, and the historical LOUPING-ON STANE,
from which Dutch-built lairds and farmers climbed into
the saddle. Here Prince Charlie slept before the battle
of Prestonpans; and here Deacon Brodie, or one of his
gang, stole a plough coulter before the burglary in
Chessel's Court. On the opposite side of the loch, the
ground rises to Craigmillar Castle, a place friendly to
Stuart Mariolaters. It is worth a climb, even in summer,
to look down upon the loch from Arthur's Seat; but it is
tenfold more so on a day of skating. The surface is
thick with people moving easily and swiftly and leaning
over at a thousand graceful inclinations; the crowd opens
and closes, and keeps moving through itself like water;
and the ice rings to half a mile away, with the flying
steel. As night draws on, the single figures melt into
the dusk, until only an obscure stir, and coming and
going of black clusters, is visible upon the loch. A
little longer, and the first torch is kindled and begins
to flit rapidly across the ice in a ring of yellow
reflection, and this is followed by another and another,
until the whole field is full of skimming lights.


ON three sides of Edinburgh, the country slopes
downward from the city, here to the sea, there to the fat
farms of Haddington, there to the mineral fields of
Linlithgow. On the south alone, it keeps rising until it
not only out-tops the Castle but looks down on Arthur's
Seat. The character of the neighbourhood is pretty
strongly marked by a scarcity of hedges; by many stone
walls of varying height; by a fair amount of timber, some
of it well grown, but apt to be of a bushy, northern
profile and poor in foliage; by here and there a little
river, Esk or Leith or Almond, busily journeying in the
bottom of its glen; and from almost every point, by a
peep of the sea or the hills. There is no lack of
variety, and yet most of the elements are common to all
parts; and the southern district is alone distinguished
by considerable summits and a wide view.

From Boroughmuirhead, where the Scottish army
encamped before Flodden, the road descends a long hill,
at the bottom of which and just as it is preparing to
mount upon the other side, it passes a toll-bar and
issues at once into the open country. Even as I write
these words, they are being antiquated in the progress of
events, and the chisels are tinkling on a new row of
houses. The builders have at length adventured beyond
the toll which held them in respect so long, and proceed
to career in these fresh pastures like a herd of colts
turned loose. As Lord Beaconsfield proposed to hang an
architect by way of stimulation, a man, looking on these
doomed meads, imagines a similar example to deter the
builders; for it seems as if it must come to an open
fight at last to preserve a corner of green country
unbedevilled. And here, appropriately enough, there
stood in old days a crow-haunted gibbet, with two bodies
hanged in chains. I used to be shown, when a child, a
flat stone in the roadway to which the gibbet had been
fixed. People of a willing fancy were persuaded, and
sought to persuade others, that this stone was never dry.
And no wonder, they would add, for the two men had only
stolen fourpence between them.

For about two miles the road climbs upwards, a long
hot walk in summer time. You reach the summit at a place
where four ways meet, beside the toll of Fairmilehead.
The spot is breezy and agreeable both in name and aspect.
The hills are close by across a valley: Kirk Yetton, with
its long, upright scars visible as far as Fife, and
Allermuir the tallest on this side with wood and tilled
field running high upon their borders, and haunches all
moulded into innumerable glens and shelvings and
variegated with heather and fern. The air comes briskly
and sweetly off the hills, pure from the elevation and
rustically scented by the upland plants; and even at the
toll, you may hear the curlew calling on its mate. At
certain seasons, when the gulls desert their surfy
forelands, the birds of sea and mountain hunt and scream
together in the same field by Fairmilehead. The winged,
wild things intermix their wheelings, the sea-birds skim
the tree-tops and fish among the furrows of the plough.
These little craft of air are at home in all the world,
so long as they cruise in their own element; and, like
sailors, ask but food and water from the shores they

Below, over a stream, the road passes Bow Bridge,
now a dairy-farm, but once a distillery of whisky. It
chanced, some time in the past century, that the
distiller was on terms of good-fellowship with the
visiting officer of excise. The latter was of an easy,
friendly disposition, and a master of convivial arts.
Now and again, he had to walk out of Edinburgh to measure
the distiller's stock; and although it was agreeable to
find his business lead him in a friend's direction, it
was unfortunate that the friend should be a loser by his
visits. Accordingly, when he got about the level of
Fairmilehead, the gauger would take his flute, without
which he never travelled, from his pocket, fit it
together, and set manfully to playing, as if for his own
delectation and inspired by the beauty of the scene. His
favourite air, it seems, was 'Over the hills and far
away.' At the first note, the distiller pricked his
ears. A flute at Fairmilehead? and playing 'Over the
hills and far away?' This must be his friendly enemy,
the gauger. Instantly horses were harnessed, and sundry
barrels of whisky were got upon a cart, driven at a
gallop round Hill End, and buried in the mossy glen
behind Kirk Yetton. In the same breath, you may be sure,
a fat fowl was put to the fire, and the whitest napery
prepared for the back parlour. A little after, the
gauger, having had his fill of music for the moment, came
strolling down with the most innocent air imaginable, and
found the good people at Bow Bridge taken entirely
unawares by his arrival, but none the less glad to see
him. The distiller's liquor and the gauger's flute would
combine to speed the moments of digestion; and when both
were somewhat mellow, they would wind up the evening with
'Over the hills and far away' to an accompaniment of
knowing glances. And at least, there is a smuggling
story, with original and half-idyllic features.

A little further, the road to the right passes an
upright stone in a field. The country people call it
General Kay's monument. According to them, an officer of
that name had perished there in battle at some indistinct
period before the beginning of history. The date is
reassuring; for I think cautious writers are silent on
the General's exploits. But the stone is connected with
one of those remarkable tenures of land which linger on
into the modern world from Feudalism. Whenever the
reigning sovereign passes by, a certain landed proprietor
is held bound to climb on to the top, trumpet in hand,
and sound a flourish according to the measure of his
knowledge in that art. Happily for a respectable family,
crowned heads have no great business in the Pentland
Hills. But the story lends a character of comicality to
the stone; and the passer-by will sometimes chuckle to

The district is dear to the superstitious. Hard by,
at the back-gate of Comiston, a belated carter beheld a
lady in white, 'with the most beautiful, clear shoes upon
her feet,' who looked upon him in a very ghastly manner
and then vanished; and just in front is the Hunters'
Tryst, once a roadside inn, and not so long ago haunted
by the devil in person. Satan led the inhabitants a
pitiful existence. He shook the four corners of the
building with lamentable outcries, beat at the doors and
windows, overthrew crockery in the dead hours of the
morning, and danced unholy dances on the roof. Every
kind of spiritual disinfectant was put in requisition;
chosen ministers were summoned out of Edinburgh and
prayed by the hour; pious neighbours sat up all night
making a noise of psalmody; but Satan minded them no more
than the wind about the hill-tops; and it was only after
years of persecution, that he left the Hunters' Tryst in
peace to occupy himself with the remainder of mankind.
What with General Kay, and the white lady, and this
singular visitation, the neighbourhood offers great
facilities to the makers of sun-myths; and without
exactly casting in one's lot with that disenchanting
school of writers, one cannot help hearing a good deal of
the winter wind in the last story. 'That nicht,' says
Burns, in one of his happiest moments,-


And if people sit up all night in lone places on the
hills, with Bibles and tremulous psalms, they will be apt
to hear some of the most fiendish noises in the world;
the wind will beat on doors and dance upon roofs for
them, and make the hills howl around their cottage with a
clamour like the judgment-day.

The road goes down through another valley, and then
finally begins to scale the main slope of the Pentlands.
A bouquet of old trees stands round a white farmhouse;
and from a neighbouring dell, you can see smoke rising
and leaves ruffling in the breeze. Straight above, the
hills climb a thousand feet into the air. The
neighbourhood, about the time of lambs, is clamorous with
the bleating of flocks; and you will be awakened, in the
grey of early summer mornings, by the barking of a dog or
the voice of a shepherd shouting to the echoes. This,
with the hamlet lying behind unseen, is Swanston.

The place in the dell is immediately connected with
the city. Long ago, this sheltered field was purchased
by the Edinburgh magistrates for the sake of the springs
that rise or gather there. After they had built their
water-house and laid their pipes, it occurred to them
that the place was suitable for junketing. Once
entertained, with jovial magistrates and public funds,
the idea led speedily to accomplishment; and Edinburgh
could soon boast of a municipal Pleasure House. The dell
was turned into a garden; and on the knoll that shelters
it from the plain and the sea winds, they built a cottage
looking to the hills. They brought crockets and
gargoyles from old St. Giles's which they were then
restoring, and disposed them on the gables and over the
door and about the garden; and the quarry which had
supplied them with building material, they draped with
clematis and carpeted with beds of roses. So much for
the pleasure of the eye; for creature comfort, they made
a capacious cellar in the hillside and fitted it with
bins of the hewn stone. In process of time, the trees
grew higher and gave shade to the cottage, and the
evergreens sprang up and turned the dell into a thicket.
There, purple magistrates relaxed themselves from the
pursuit of municipal ambition; cocked hats paraded
soberly about the garden and in and out among the
hollies; authoritative canes drew ciphering upon the
path; and at night, from high upon the hills, a shepherd
saw lighted windows through the foliage and heard the
voice of city dignitaries raised in song.

The farm is older. It was first a grange of
Whitekirk Abbey, tilled and inhabited by rosy friars.
Thence, after the Reformation, it passed into the hands
of a true-blue Protestant family. During the covenanting
troubles, when a night conventicle was held upon the
Pentlands, the farm doors stood hospitably open till the
morning; the dresser was laden with cheese and bannocks,
milk and brandy; and the worshippers kept slipping down
from the hill between two exercises, as couples visit the
supper-room between two dances of a modern ball. In the
Forty-Five, some foraging Highlanders from Prince
Charlie's army fell upon Swanston in the dawn. The
great-grandfather of the late farmer was then a little
child; him they awakened by plucking the blankets from
his bed, and he remembered, when he was an old man, their
truculent looks and uncouth speech. The churn stood full
of cream in the dairy, and with this they made their
brose in high delight. 'It was braw brose,' said one of
them. At last they made off, laden like camels with
their booty; and Swanston Farm has lain out of the way of
history from that time forward. I do not know what may
be yet in store for it. On dark days, when the mist runs
low upon the hill, the house has a gloomy air as if
suitable for private tragedy. But in hot July, you can
fancy nothing more perfect than the garden, laid out in
alleys and arbours and bright, old-fashioned flower-
plots, and ending in a miniature ravine, all trellis-work
and moss and tinkling waterfall, and housed from the sun
under fathoms of broad foliage.

The hamlet behind is one of the least considerable
of hamlets, and consists of a few cottages on a green
beside a burn. Some of them (a strange thing in
Scotland) are models of internal neatness; the beds
adorned with patchwork, the shelves arrayed with willow-
pattern plates, the floors and tables bright with
scrubbing or pipe-clay, and the very kettle polished like
silver. It is the sign of a contented old age in country
places, where there is little matter for gossip and no
street sights. Housework becomes an art; and at evening,
when the cottage interior shines and twinkles in the glow
of the fire, the housewife folds her hands and
contemplates her finished picture; the snow and the wind
may do their worst, she has made herself a pleasant
corner in the world. The city might be a thousand miles
away, and yet it was from close by that Mr. Bough painted
the distant view of Edinburgh which has been engraved for
this collection; and you have only to look at the
etching, * to see how near it is at hand. But hills and
hill people are not easily sophisticated; and if you walk
out here on a summer Sunday, it is as like as not the
shepherd may set his dogs upon you. But keep an unmoved
countenance; they look formidable at the charge, but
their hearts are in the right place, and they will only
bark and sprawl about you on the grass, unmindful of
their master's excitations.

* One of the illustrations of the First Edition.

Kirk Yetton forms the north-eastern angle of the
range; thence, the Pentlands trend off to south and west.
From the summit you look over a great expanse of
champaign sloping to the sea, and behold a large variety
of distant hills. There are the hills of Fife, the hills
of Peebles, the Lammermoors and the Ochils, more or less
mountainous in outline, more or less blue with distance.
Of the Pentlands themselves, you see a field of wild
heathery peaks with a pond gleaming in the midst; and to
that side the view is as desolate as if you were looking
into Galloway or Applecross. To turn to the other is
like a piece of travel. Far out in the lowlands
Edinburgh shows herself, making a great smoke on clear
days and spreading her suburbs about her for miles; the
Castle rises darkly in the midst, and close by, Arthur's
Seat makes a bold figure in the landscape. All around,
cultivated fields, and woods, and smoking villages, and
white country roads, diversify the uneven surface of the
land. Trains crawl slowly abroad upon the railway lines;
little ships are tacking in the Firth; the shadow of a
mountainous cloud, as large as a parish, travels before
the wind; the wind itself ruffles the wood and standing
corn, and sends pulses of varying colour across the
landscape. So you sit, like Jupiter upon Olympus, and
look down from afar upon men's life. The city is as
silent as a city of the dead: from all its humming
thoroughfares, not a voice, not a footfall, reaches you
upon the hill. The sea-surf, the cries of ploughmen, the
streams and the mill-wheels, the birds and the wind, keep
up an animated concert through the plain; from farm to
farm, dogs and crowing cocks contend together in
defiance; and yet from this Olympian station, except for
the whispering rumour of a train, the world has fallen
into a dead silence, and the business of town and country
grown voiceless in your ears. A crying hill-bird, the
bleat of a sheep, a wind singing in the dry grass, seem
not so much to interrupt, as to accompany, the stillness;
but to the spiritual ear, the whole scene makes a music
at once human and rural, and discourses pleasant
reflections on the destiny of man. The spiry habitable
city, ships, the divided fields, and browsing herds, and
the straight highways, tell visibly of man's active and
comfortable ways; and you may be never so laggard and
never so unimpressionable, but there is something in the
view that spirits up your blood and puts you in the vein
for cheerful labour.

Immediately below is Fairmilehead, a spot of roof
and a smoking chimney, where two roads, no thicker than
packthread, intersect beside a hanging wood. If you are
fanciful, you will be reminded of the gauger in the
story. And the thought of this old exciseman, who once
lipped and fingered on his pipe and uttered clear notes
from it in the mountain air, and the words of the song he
affected, carry your mind 'Over the hills and far away'
to distant countries; and you have a vision of Edinburgh
not, as you see her, in the midst of a little
neighbourhood, but as a boss upon the round world with
all Europe and the deep sea for her surroundings. For
every place is a centre to the earth, whence highways
radiate or ships set sail for foreign ports; the limit of
a parish is not more imaginary than the frontier of an
empire; and as a man sitting at home in his cabinet and
swiftly writing books, so a city sends abroad an
influence and a portrait of herself. There is no
Edinburgh emigrant, far or near, from China to Peru, but
he or she carries some lively pictures of the mind, some
sunset behind the Castle cliffs, some snow scene, some
maze of city lamps, indelible in the memory and
delightful to study in the intervals of toil. For any
such, if this book fall in their way, here are a few more
home pictures. It would be pleasant, if they should
recognise a house where they had dwelt, or a walk that
they had taken.


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