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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


hills of Braid to the sandy shores of the Firth of Forth. Edinburgh, now within a few hours? journey from London, was long the capital of a land that was almost a ferra incogniia, not only to England, but to the greater part of Europe, and remained so till nearly the era of the Scott novels. Spreading over many swelling hills and deep ravines, that in some instances are spanned by enormous bridges of stone, it exhibits a striking peculiarity and boldness in its features that render it totally unlike any other city in the world, unless we admit its supposed resemblance to Athens. Its lofty and commanding site ascends gradually from the shore of the great estuary, till it terminates in the stupendous rock of the Castle, 500 feet above the level of the sea, and is surrounded on the southward, east, and west, by an amphitheatre of beautiful hills, covered either with purple heath or the richest copse-wood; while almost from amid its very streets there starts up the lionshaped mountain named Arthur?s Seat, the bare and rocky cone of which has an altitude of 822 feet. In Edinburgh every step is historical; the memories of a remote and romantic past confront us at every turn and corner, and on every side .arise the shades of the dead. Most marked, indeed, is the difference between the old and the new city-the former being sa strikingly picturesque in its broken masses and the disorder of its architecture, and the latter so symmetrical and almost severe in the Grecian and Tuscan beauty of its streets and squares ; and this perhaps, combined with its natural situation quite as much as its literary character, may have won for it the fanciful name of ? the Modem Athens.? On one hand we have, almost unchanged in general aspect, yet changing in detail at the xuthless demands of improvement, the Edinburgh of the Middle Ages-?the Queen of the North upon her hilly throne?-the city of the Pavids and of five gallant Jameses-her massive mansions of stone, weather-beaten, old, dark, and time-worn, teeming with historical recollections oi many generations of men ; many painful and man) pitiful memories, some of woe, but more of wai and wanton cruelty; of fierce combats and feudal battles ; of rancorous quarrels and foreign invasions, and of loyal and noble hearts that were wasted and often broken in their passionate faith to religion and a regal race that is now no more. On the bther hand, and all unlike the warrioi city of the middle ages, beyond the deep ravint overlooked by Princes Street-that most beautifu of European terraces-and by that noble pinnaclec xoss which seems the very shrine of Scott, we iave the modern Edinburgh of the days of peace ind prosperity, with all its spacious squares and ir-stretching streets, adorned by the statues of those great men who but lately trod them. And 50 the Past and the Present stand face to face, by.the valley where of old the waters of the North Loch lay. Ih these pages, accordingly, we intend to summon back, like the dissolving views in the magic mirror of Cornelius Agrippa, the Edinburgh of the past, with all the stirring, brilliant, and terrible events of which it has been the arena. The ghosts of kings and queens, of knights and nobles, shall walk its old streets again, and the brave, or sad, or startling, story of every time-worn tenement will be told ; nor shall those buildings that have passed away be forgotten. Again the beacon fires shall seem to blaze on the grassy summits of Soltra and Dunpender, announcing that southern hosts have crossed the Tweed, and summoning the sturdy burgesses, from every echoing close and wynd, in all the array of war, to man their gates and walls, as all were bound, under pain of death, to do when the Deacon Convener of the Trades unfurled ?the Blue Blanket ? of famous memory. In the ancient High Street we shall meet King David riding forth with hound and horn to hunt in his forest of Drumsheugh, as he did on that Roodday in harvest when he had the alleged wondrous escape which led to the founding of Holyrood ; or we may see him seated at the Castle gdte, dispensing justice to his people-especially to the poor -in that simple fashion which won for him the proud title of the Scottish Justinian. In the same street we shall see the mail-clad Douglases and Hamiltons carrying out their mortal feud with horse and spear, axe and sword ; and anon meet him ?who never feared the face of man,? John Knox, grown old and tottering, whitebearded and wan, leaning on the arm of sweet young Margaret Stewart of Ochiltree, as he proceeds to preach for the last time in St. Giles?s; and we shall also see the sorrowing group that gathered around his grave in the old churchyard that lay thereby, and where still that grave is marked by bronzes let into the pavement. Again the trumpets that breathed war and defiance shall ring at the Market Cross, and we may hear the mysterious voice that at midnight called aloud the death-roll of those who were doomed to fall on Flodden field,. and the wail of?woe that went through the startled city when tidings of the fatal battle ca?me. We shall see the countless windows of those
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