Chapter 7

The Castle - A father’s inquiries - Scotch language - A determination - Bui hin Digri - Good Scotchman - Difference of races - Ne’er a haggis - Pugnacious people - Wha are ye, man? - The Nor Loch - Gestures wild - The bicker - New Town champion - Wild- looking figure - Headlong.

IT was not long before we found ourselves at Edinburgh, or rather in the Castle, into which the regiment marched with drums beating, colours flying, and a long train of baggage-waggons behind. The Castle was, as I suppose it is now, a garrison for soldiers. Two other regiments were already there; the one an Irish, if I remember right, the other a small Highland corps.

It is hardly necessary to say much about this Castle, which everybody has seen; on which account, doubtless, nobody has ever yet thought fit to describe it - at least that I am aware. Be this as it may, I have no intention of describing it, and shall content myself with observing that we took up our abode in that immense building, or caserne, of modern erection, which occupies the entire eastern side of the bold rock on which the Castle stands. A gallant caserne it was - the best and roomiest that I had hitherto seen - rather cold and windy, it is true, especially in the winter, but commanding a noble prospect of a range of distant hills, which I was told were ‘the hieland hills,’ and of a broad arm of the sea, which I heard somebody say was the Firth of Forth.

My brother, who, for some years past, had been receiving his education in a certain celebrated school in England, was now with us; and it came to pass, that one day my father, as he sat at table, looked steadfastly on my brother and myself, and then addressed my mother: - ‘During my journey down hither, I have lost no opportunity of making inquiries about these people, the Scotch, amongst whom we now are, and since I have been here I have observed them attentively. From what I have heard and seen, I should say that upon the whole they are a very decent set of people; they seem acute and intelligent, and I am told that their system of education is so excellent that every person is learned - more or less acquainted with Greek and Latin. There is one thing, however, connected with them, which is a great drawback - the horrid jargon which they speak. However learned they may be in Greek and Latin, their English is execrable; and yet I’m told it is not so bad as it was. I was in company, the other day, with an Englishman who has resided here many years. We were talking about the country and the people. “I should like both very well,” said I, “were it not for the language. I wish sincerely our Parliament, which is passing so many foolish acts every year, would pass one to force these Scotch to speak English.” “I wish so, too,” said he. “The language is a disgrace to the British Government; but, if you had heard it twenty years ago, captain! - if you had heard it as it was spoken when I first came to Edinburgh!”’

‘Only custom,’ said my mother. ‘I daresay the language is now what it was then.’

‘I don’t know,’ said my father; ‘though I daresay you are right; it could never have been worse than it is at present. But now to the point. Were it not for the language, which, if the boys were to pick it up, might ruin their prospects in life, - were it not for that, I should very much like to send them to a school there is in this place, which everybody talks about - the High School I think they call it. ‘Tis said to be the best school in the whole island; but the idea of one’s children speaking Scotch - broad Scotch! I must think the matter over.’

And he did think the matter over; and the result of his deliberation was a determination to send us to the school. Let me call thee up before my mind’s eye, High School, to which, every morning, the two English brothers took their way from the proud old Castle through the lofty streets of the Old Town. High School! - called so, I scarcely know why; neither lofty in thyself nor by position, being situated in a flat bottom; oblong structure of tawny stone, with many windows fenced with iron netting - with thy long hall below, and thy five chambers above, for the reception of the five classes, into which the eight hundred urchins who styled thee instructress were divided. Thy learned rector and his four subordinate dominies; thy strange old porter of the tall form and grizzled hair, hight Boee, and doubtless of Norse ancestry, as his name declares; perhaps of the blood of Bui hin Digri, the hero of northern song - the Jomsborg Viking who clove Thorsteinn Midlangr asunder in the dread sea battle of Horunga Vog, and who, when the fight was lost and his own two hands smitten off, seized two chests of gold with his bloody stumps, and,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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