How delightful was our visit to Edinburgh in 1850. It was "mine own romantic town." I remembered its striking features so well. There was the broad mass of the Old Town, with its endless diversity of light and shade. There was the grand old fortress, with its towers and turrets and black portholes. Towards evening the distant glories of the departing sun threw forward, in dark outline, the wooded hill of Corstorphine. The rock and Castle assumed a new aspect every time I looked at them. The long-drawn gardens filling the valley between the Old Town and the New, and the thickly-wooded scars of the Castle rock, were a charm of landscape and a charm of art. Arthur's Seat, like a lion at rest, seemed perfect witchcraft. And from the streets in the New Town , or from Calton Hill, what singular glances of beauty were observed in the distance -- the gleaming waters of the Firth, and the blue shadows among the hills of Fife.

    I remembered it all, from the days in which I sat, as a child, beside the lassies watching the "claes" on the Calton Hill and hearing the chimes of St. Giles's tinkling across the Nor' Loch from the Old Town ; the walks, when a boy, in the picturesque country round Edinburgh, with my father and his scientific and artistic friends; my days at the High School, and then my evenings at the School of Arts; my castings of brass in my bedroom, and the technical training I enjoyed in the workshop of my old schoolfellow; my roadway locomotive and its success; and finally, the making of my tools and machines intended for Manchester, at the foundry of my dear old friend Douglass. It all came back to me like a dream. And now, after some twenty years, I had returned to Edinburgh on a visit to the British Association. Many things had been changed -- many relatives and friends had departed -- but still Edinburgh remained to me as fascinating as ever.

    The excursions formed our principal source of enjoyment during these scientific gatherings. The season was then at its happiest. Nature was in her most enjoyable condition, and the excursionists were usually in their holiday mood. The meeting of the British Association at Edinburgh was presided over by Sir David Brewster. The geologists visited the remarkable displays of volcanic phenomena with which the neighbourhood of Edinburgh singularly abounds. Indeed, Edinburgh owes much of its picturesque beauty to volcanoes and earthquake upheavings. Our excursions culminated in a visit to the Bass Rock. The excursion had been carefully planned, and was successfully carried out. The day was beautiful, and the party was of the choicest. After reaching the little cove of Canty Bay, overlooked by the gigantic ruins of Tantallon Castle, we were ferried across to the Bass; through a few miles of that capricious sea, the Firth of Forth, near to where it joins the German Ocean. We were piloted by that fine old British tar, Admiral Malcolm, while the commissariat was superintended by General Pasley.

    We were safely landed on that magnificent sea-girt volcanic rock -- the Bass. After inspecting the ruins of what was once a castellated State prison, where the Covenanters were immured for conscience' sake, we wandered up the hill towards the summit. There we were treated to a short lecture by Professor Owen on the Solan Goose, which was illustrated by the clouds of geese flying over us. They freely exhibited their habits on land as well as in mid-air, and skimmed the dizzy crags with graceful and apparently effortless motions. The vast variety of seafowl screamed their utmost, and gave a wonderfully illustrative chorus to the lecture. It was a most impressive scene. We were high above the deep blue sea of the German Ocean, the waves of which leapt up as if they would sweep us away into the depths below.

    Another of our delightful excursions was made under the guidance of my old and dear friend Robert Chambers.[note: I cannot pass over the mention of Robert Chambers's name without adding that I was on terms of the most friendly intimacy with him from a very early period of his life to its termination in 1871. I remember when he made his first venture in business in Leith Walk. By virtue of his industry, ability, and energy, he became a prosperous man. I had the happiness of enjoying his delightful and instructive society on many occasions. We had rare cracks on all subjects, but especially respecting old places and old characters whom we had known at Edinburgh. His natural aptitude to catch up the salient and most humorous points of character, with the quaint manner in which he could describe them, gave a vast charm to his company and conversation. Added to which, the wide range and accuracy of his information, acquired by his own industry and quick-witted penetration, caused the hours spent in his society to remain among the brightest points in my memory.]

  By PanEris using Melati.

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