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THE IMPERIAL MAGAZINE.
CITY OF EDINBURGH.
(With an Engraving of HIGH STREET, in the Old Town.)
THIS Capital of Scotland, which is ancient, large, and populous, is situ ated in the northern part of the county of Mid Lothian, or Edinburghshire, about two miles south of the estuary of the river, or Frith of Forth-three hundred fand eighty miles north-west of London-and two hundred and twenty-five north-east of Dublin.
The origin of Edinburgh, both as to its name and history, is involved in much obscurity. The former has been variously spelt, and several sources have been assigned to furnish its derivation. Of these, the most probable is from the Gaelic, Edin, "the steep face of a rock," a compound, which occurs in Edenbelly, Edinmore, and other local appellations. When the Saxons obtained possession, Dun Edin became Edinburgh, and the former name is still retained by the Highlanders.
In the days of Agricola, the part of Scotland in which Edinburgh stands, formed the province of Valentia. On the departure of the Romans, this province fell into the hands of the Saxon invaders, and continued in their possession till the defeat of Egfrid, king of Northumberland, by the Picts, in the year 685.
To David I. Edinburgh must have been indebted for the distinction of being a royal borough, as by this monarch royal boroughs were first established in Scotland; and, in his charter of foundation of the Abbey of Holyrood-house, it appears under this distinguishing appellation.
During the reign of Alexander II. in 1215, the first parliament was held in Edinburgh; but it was not until after the year 1456, when parliaments continued to be held regularly in this city, that it was considered as the capital of Scotland.
The oldest charter in the archives of the town, is one granted by Robert I. in 1329, in which he bestows upon Edinburgh the town of Leith, with its harbour and mills. In a subsequent year, his grandson, who ascended the throne under the name of Robert III., conferred on its burgesses the privileges of erecting houses in the Castle, provided they were persons of good fame.
When James III. was at variance with his nobles, in 1482, the inhabitdistinguished themselves in his behalf, that he granted them two charters, in which, among various other privileges, the provost was made high sheriff within the city, an office which is still enjoyed by the chief magistrate. The town council was also invested with the power of making statutes for the government of the city; and the corporate trades were presented with a banner, known by the name of the "Blue Blanket." This still exists, and is always confided to the convener of the trades,
2D. SERIES, NO. 9.-VOL. I.
In the year 1504, the tract of land to the south of the city, called the Burrough Muir, or Borough Moor, being covered with wood, the town council enacted, that whoever should purchase a sufficiency of wood to make a new front to his house, should be at liberty to extend it seven feet into the street. This act of legislative folly was too tempting to be resisted; and Edinburgh, in consequence, was filled in a short time with houses of wood instead of stone; and the principal street was reduced fourteen feet in breadth.
Edinburgh is on all sides surrounded by lofty hills, except to the northward, where the ground gently declines to the Frith of Forth. Arthur's Seat, Salisbury Craigs, and Calton Hill, bound it, on the east; the hills of Braid, and the extensive Pentland ridge on the south; and the beautiful Corstorphine Hill, on the west. The principal part of the Old Town is built upon a hill of singular form, which, rising gradually from east to west, is terminated towards the west by a precipice three hundred feet in height. On the rock forming this extremity of the hill, stands the Castle; and, along the summit of the ridge is carried the street represented in the Engraving, which, under the several denominations of Lawn-market, Highstreet, and Cannon-gate, extends from the Castle to the place where the elevation of the hill commences, a distance of somewhat more than a mile. This street, at its eastern extremity, is terminated by the palace of Holyrood House, of which an Engraving was published in our Number for March.
On each side of the hill, which thus forms the central part of the city, is another ridge of ground, inferior, however, in elevation, and terminating much less abruptly. The southern hill is covered with what might be termed the new part of the Old Town; which, though it contains many good streets and buildings, is laid out without much regard to that regularity and order by which the New Town is distinguished. It is connected with the central ridge by a bridge of nineteen arches. The intervening valley is occupied by a long narrow street, called Cow-gate, from which numer ous streets and alleys run up the sides of the hill to High-street.
The New Town is the peculiar pride of Edinburgh; and, so far as regularity of design, beauty of situation, and architectural excellence, are con cerned, it may be considered as the most splendid assemblage of buildings in the kingdom. It stands on a ridge at the north of the Old Town, from which it is separated by a deep valley, formerly a morass, called the North Loch. Its plan is exceedingly simple. Three principal streets, extending nearly a mile in parallel lines from east to west, are intersected at right angles, and at equal distances by cross streets, about a quarter of a mile in length.
Across the valley, which separates the Old from the New Town, a bridge was erected and finished in 1772; and farther west, across the same valley, is an earthen mound, chiefly formed of the rubbish removed in digging the foundations of the newly erected houses, which was begun in 1783. The South Bridge, the chief communication with the southern part of the town, runs in a line with the North Bridge; this was finished in 1788. A third bridge, named "King George the Fourth's Bridge," is now erecting, nearly on a line with Bank-street, to connect the western part of the New Town with the southern district. Prior to the erection of these bridges, the only communication to the south and north was by those steep and narrow lanes, called closes and wynds, which descend from both sides of the High-street. The North Bridge is remarkable for the lightness and elegance of its structure, and for the singularity of the views which it commands.
or to the era and north
CITY OF EDINBURGH-HIGH STREET.
The most prominent objects' in the Old Town, connected with Highstreet, are, Holyrood Palace at one extremity, and the venerable Castle at the other. Of the former, an account has already been published in connexion with the Engraving, but the latter is of too much importance to be passed over in silence.
This prominent object, which may be seen from many miles distant, is separated from the buildings of the street by an esplanade of about three hundred and fifty feet in length, and three hundred in breadth. The area of the rock on which the Castle stands measures about seven English acres. The rock itself is elevated three hundred and eighty-three feet above the level of the sea, and is accessible only on the eastern side, all the others being nearly perpendicular. The Castle, which is of great antiquity; has been held as a fortress from the earliest times. The buildings within are generally occupied as a station for soldiers. Here the Scottish regalia are kept, and strangers are shewn these and other relics of antiquity; also the room in which Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to her only son, afterwards James I., king of England.
Near the centre of High-street, on the south side, stands the Church of St. Giles. This is an old irregular gothic building, forming the north side of a small square, called the Parliament Square, from the buildings erected in it, where the Scottish Parliament formerly met. This church appears in the form of a cross, with an elevation of one hundred and sixtyone feet. It is rendered remarkable by its square tower, from which a turret ascends composed of four arches intersecting each other in the form of an imperial crown. The date of the foundation is uncertain, but it was erected into a collegiate church by James II., and, after the Refor mation, was divided into four places of worship. In this church, the Regent Murray, who so zealously promoted the Reformation, and Napier of Merchiston, the inventor of the logarithms, lie interred. One of its aisles is appropriated to the annual meetings of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The original building, which still retains the name of Parliament House, was commenced in 1632, and was completed in 1640, at an expense of £11,000 sterling. The whole of its front was, however, faced up and covered, in 1807, by an open arcade in the Grecian style. The great Hall, one hundred and twenty-two feet in length by 40 in breadth, where the Parliament met, still remains; and its noble roof, which is of oak, and finished in the Norman style is much admired. In this Hall is a colossal statue of the late Lord Melville. In the adjoining chamber of the first division of the court, there is a statue of Lord President Blair, and in the other, a statue of Lord President Forbes. Another portion of the building contains the court-room, and apartments for the business of the Exchequer, and additional buildings have been recently erected for the accommodation of the supreme courts. In front of the building was an equestrian statue of Charles II; and, connected with the Parliament House is a modern erection, containing the splendid and valuable libraries of the faculty of advocates and writers to the signet. These libraries are well deserving the attention of every stranger visiting this northern metropolis.
The County Hall, built on the model of the temple of Erechtheus in the Acropolis of Athens, stands a little to the westward of St. Giles's Church. The Royal Exchange buildings, where the city courts are held, appear on the north side of High-street, not far from St. Giles's.
The buildings in general, throughout the Old Town, are of an extraor
dinary height, many rising to an elevation of twelve or thirteen stories. The houses in High-street, though of many stories in front, as may be seen in the Engraving, are much higher in the rear, from being erected upon the sides of the hill on which they stand. This street, in the sixteenth century, commanded the admiration of foreigners, its houses having been compared to palaces; and although it may not now be regarded with the same degree of enthusiasm, owing to the great improvements which since that period have taken place in every considerable city in Europe, it still maintains its pre-eminence over every other, upon which the refinements of modern art have not been lavished.
To know how to "use the world, so as not to abuse it," is the grand secret of terrestrial felicity, which the hoary sages of the heathen world, in the brightest era of Athenian learning, and the proudest period of Roman glory, but dimly descried. To this also, the grave moralists of later days have directed their attention, and all have left to future generations the accumulated wisdom of years of laborious study and extensive research. The greatest ethical writers, whose names are inscribed in the temple of fame, have always aimed at enforcing a systematic prosecution of conduct so laudable, and practice so beneficial, by arguments at once persuasive and popular, by motives the most pressing, and incitements the most awful. But, above all other authorities, the whole scope and tendency of the didactic morality of the Bible is, to urge and inculcate this paramount duty and essential truth.
Pleasure intemperately pursued, as well as mirth unduly prolonged, disturbs that placid enjoyment which moderation ensures, and facilitates the approach of sorrow and sadness. Those who have wealth and luxury at command, think they may revel with propriety in unbounded riot, and pursue a course of unrestrained indulgence. All the energies of their souls are absorbed in the hopes of obtaining some novel gratification for each succeeding day, until the whole round of stated amusements has been repeatedly visited, till their whole resources are exhausted, and nothing sufficiently attic remains to awaken curiosity, or kindle desire. They devote their time, with a zest worthy of a better cause, to keep excitement from languishing, and ardour from cooling. But a repetition of the same gratifications soon satiates, and a constant succession of the same amusements will tend in time to produce dissatisfaction and
disgust. They enervate the mind, and induce a profound stupor to the sober enjoyments and decent comforts of ordinary life, for want of adequate stimulants to arouse its powers from stagnating into passive indifference, or indolent apathy.
The conduct of those who abuse the blessings of existence, those rich blessings that are so profusely scattered around the path of man's brief pilgrimage, besides being highly pernicious to the interests of society, is equally injurious to individual comfort and personal welfare; as it unquestionably entails distress, misery, and disease in all their forms, and under all their varied aspects. By their proneness to profligacy, they cause disaffection in the humbler part of mankind, who naturally look up to their superiors as examples. These, when they see wealth squandered in pompous magnificence, and dissipated in luxurious indulgence, soon learn to contrast their own hard fare and mean abode, with what they discover, till at length disrespect ripens into revenge, and thus prepares the way for tumult and sedition. There are barriers which propriety and duty, virtue and religion, erect, restraints which good sense suggests and experience confirms, beyond which, they who trans gress, incur the loss of reputation and innocence, and forfeit the esteem of the wise and the good.
Independent of all future considerations, to sip of every cup of pleasure, and regale at every feast where invitation is proffered, regardless whether there is a poisonous infusion in the one, or a contaminating influence at the other-certainly displays the height of madness, and reaches to the very meridian of folly. For all kinds of excess, it is well known, debilitates the human body, and transforms the bounties of nature, which were intended for our
ON THE USE AND ABUSE OF THE WORLD.
good, into a prolific source of unspeakable evils. A great part of the miseries which afflict, and the troubles which disquiet, of the pains endured, and the hardships sustained, arise from this, as the procuring cause. To this unhallowed shrine, health is daily sacrificed; here youth is enfeebled, dignity of character despised, and peace of mind heedlessly disturbed. All that makes life agreeable, and joy exhilarating, lies within the bounds of sobriety and moderation, at an equal remove from the unsocial gloom of the anchorite's retreat, and the hurtful glare of the voluptuary's abode.
Men of avaricious dispositions, who make gain the paramount object of their endeavours, are in an equal degree abusers of the world, with the men who make pleasure the sole end and ultimate aim of their solicitude. He who has ample possessions at command, and is sordidly attached to the mere accumulation of gain, who deprives himself of accessible comforts, and denies the means of innocent gratification to others; relieves not the wants of the indigent, offers no succour to the widow and the orphan, repairs not to the bed of sickness, nor lightens the burden of decrepitude; who has no other pleasure than that of "adding house to house, and field to field;" who is neither the dispenser nor the participator of the bounties committed to his care—is a despicable wretch, a proper object of detestation and scorn, the votary of mammon, and the slave of covetousness. The commerce of the world is not a forbidden, but a lawful object of pursuit to the Christian, where he may obtain both profit and delight, where he may find fresh materials for gratitude and submission, and frequent opportunities arising from its casualties, for meditation and prayer. It is not its right and legitimate use, but its abuse, that constitutes its bane.
Another class of abusers are those who may be denominated haughty in their demeanour, and tyrannical in their commands. These treat their fellow-creatures as beings of an inferior race, forgetting that the lowest menial can boast of the same origin with his liege lord, that "of the earth, earthy;" that "God is no respecter of persons," and therefore the servant stands on a natural equality with his master, though the present artificial distinctions of society may at first sight seem to contradict the existence of such a close alliance. They think that, by oppressing the weak, abashing the timorous, and swelling with inflated arrogance over their
dependants, they shall earn the paltry distinction of being more conspicuously the terror of those who are placed near enough to feel the effects of their supercilious behaviour. They unceremoniously encroach on the just rights of the poor, and unhesitatingly debar them of their scanty pittance. But it is generally the case, that of those who abuse their superiority of station, the triumph is but of short duration, retribution overtakes them even in this life; and a voice is heard to issue from the sacred page, declaring, in tremendous accents, "He that oppresseth the poor, reproacheth his Maker;" and "the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them."
He who "uses this world as not abusing it," is the best capable of extracting its sweets, and avoiding its bitter dregs; of deriving happiness refined from all sordid adhesions, and of partaking intellectual delights of the highest order, unknown to those who mingle indiscriminately in its polluted streams, and whirl heedlessly in its destructive eddies. He lives in an elevated region, above the stormy atmosphere of vindictive minds, maintaining an habitual serenity of temper, and a fixed equanimity of spirit. He regards human life as a mixed state, where happiness and misery are somewhat proportionably weighed and distributed, where the wheel of vicissitude is constantly revolv ing, elevating some to bask in the genial rays of prosperity, and carrying others down the vale of adversity, where the frost of neglect is destined to cover them. He has learned to be moderate in his expec tations, and not to hold the goods of fortune with too tenacious a grasp; and to leave the operation of events to the disposal of Him who has the control of the universe, and governs the whole complicated system of being. So that merely adventitious distinctions, and fortuitous occurrences, neither elate him with unwarrantable expectations of success, nor depress him with undefinable emotions of dread, if adverse circumstances arise, to blast his prospects, and oppose his endea vours to advance his family, or benefit the general community of mankind.
In the world in which we dwell, there are various duties incumbent on us to perform, some of a subordinate class, and others of a more important range. There is a thick phalanx of dangers to be shunned, and a formidable array of trials to be encountered and subdued. These are the opportunities which he has afforded him, to bring his principles to the test, and