ago; and psalmody is here practised and taught by a professor from the cathedral of Durham: I should not be surprised, in a few years to hear it accompanied with an organ.

Edinburgh is a hot-bed of genius. I have had the good fortune to be made acquainted with many authors of the first distinction; such as the two Humes, Robertson, Smith, Wallace, Blair, Ferguson, Wilkie, &c. and I have found them all as agreeable in conversation as they are instructive and entertaining in their writings. These acquaintances I owe to the friendship of Dr. Carlyle, who wants nothing but inclination to figure with the rest upon paper. The magistracy of Edinburgh is changed every year by election, and seems to be very well adapted both for state and authority. The lord provost is equal in dignity to the lord mayor of London; and the four bailies are equivalent to the rank of aldermen. There is a dean of guild, who takes cognizance of mercantile affairs; a treasurer; a town-clerk; and the council is composed of deacons, one of whom is returned every year, in rotation, as representative of every company of artificers or handicraftsmen. Though this city, from the nature of its situation, can never be made either very convenient or very cleanly, it has, nevertheless, an air of magnificence that commands respect. The castle is an instance of the sublime in scite and architecture. Its fortifications are kept in good order, and there is always in it a garrison of regular soldiers, which is relieved every year; but it is incapable of sustaining a siege carried on according to the modern operations of war. The castle hill, which extends from the outward gate to the upper end of the highstreet, is used as a public walk for the citizens, and commands a prospect, equally extensive and delightful, over the country of Fife, on the other side of the Frith, and all along the sea-coast, which is covered with a succession of towns that would seem to indicate a considerable share of commerce; but, if the truth must be told, these towns have been falling to decay ever since the union, by which the Scots were in a great measure deprived of their trade with France. The palace of Holyrood-house is a jewel in architecture, thrust into a hollow where it cannot be seen; a situation which was certainly not chosen by the ingenious architect, who must have been confined to the scite of the old palace, which was a convent. Edinburgh is considerably extended on the south side, where there are divers little elegant squares built in the English manner; and the citizens have planned some improvements on the north, which, when put in execution, will add greatly to the beauty and convenience of this capital.

The sea-port is Leith, a flourishing town, about a mile from the city, in the harbour of which I have seen above one hundred ships lying all together. You must know, I had the curiosity to cross the Frith in a passage-boat, and stayed two days in Fife, which is remarkably fruitful in corn, and exhibits a surprising number of fine seats, elegantly built, and magnificently furnished. There is an incredible number of noble houses in every part of Scotland that I have seen. Dalkeith, Pinkie, Yester, and lord Hopton’s, all of them within four or five miles of Edinburgh, are princely palaces, in every one of which a sovereign might reside at his ease. I suppose the Scots affect these monuments of grandeur. If I may be allowed to mingle censure with my remarks upon a people I revere, I must observe, that their weak side seems to be vanity. I am afraid that even their hospitality is not quite free of ostentation. I think I have discovered among them uncommon pains taken to display their fine linen, of which, indeed, they have great plenty, their furniture, plate, housekeeping, and variety of wines, in which article, it must be owned, they are profuse, if not prodigal. A burgher of Edinburgh, not content to vie with a citizen of London, who has ten times his fortune, must excel him in the expence as well as elegance of his entertainments.

Though the villas of the Scotch nobility and gently have generally an air of grandeur and state, I think their gardens and parks are not comparable to those of England; a circumstance the more remarkable, as I was told by the ingenious Mr. Phillip Miller of Chelsea, that almost all the gardeners of South-Britain were natives of Scotland. The verdure of this country is not equal to that of England. The pleasure- grounds are, in my opinion, not so well laid out according to the genius loci; nor are the lawns, and walks, and hedges kept in such delicate order. The trees are planted in prudish rows, which have not such an agreeable natural effect, as when they are thrown into irregular groupes, with intervening glades; and the firs, which they generally raise around their houses, look dull and funereal in the summer season. I must confess, indeed, that they yield serviceable timber, and good shelter against the northern blasts; that they grow and thrive in the most barren soil, and continually perspire a fine balsam of turpentine, which must render the air very salutary and senative to lungs of a tender texture.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.