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Edinburgh Past and Present


~~~ ~~~ ~ LEITH. 97 punishment.' It is with the greatest astonishment that we read of such doings of the generations that are gone ; they appear so ungenerous, cruel and short-sighted. The poor Leithers were sorely tried, and had great need of patience. 'A curse upon your whinstane hearts, ye Edinburgh gentry !' is an imprecation that naturally rises to the wrathful lips of every lea1 son of Scotia, as he thinks upon the unkind and heartless way in which they latterly treated the gifted and manly Bums. The same curse, for a similar reason, although in a different connection, would have suited equally well, and come with as fierce an earnestness from the indignant lips of the oppressed and downtrodden dwellers of that rising little seaport by the shingly shores of the Forth. It has often been asked, Why does Leith owe Edinburgh such a grudge 0 why is she so jealous of her bigger sister, and take every opportunity that offers of humbling her, and asserting her own independence 1 The few facts just related, and many more of an equally arbitrary and high-handed kind might be adduced, will perhaps let in some light upon the question, and clear up, in a measure, what to many is a strange and unaccountable thing. Towns, like individuals and families, do not soon forget the harshness or injustice with which they have been treated; the memory of it goes down circulating through the years and the centuries, and is ever ready to flash out anew into fierce resentment and fiery wrath, when the time-oiled waters are again stirred. It grew and flourished in spite of all the hard measures and burdensome enactments under which it groaned. Indignant occasionally at the merciless way in which the city brought its heavy hand to bear upon it, and emitting now and again a loud, angry, lionlike growl of defiant rage, it for the most part went quietly-on, minding its own work, and building up its own fortunes, patiently biding the time when it would have courage enough to face, and strength sufficient to grapple with the foe, and 'throw him in the tulzie.' A stout-hearted people were the Leithers. They could take up their cross and bear it with fortitude. Opposition did not frighten them ; injustice did not unman them. With a considerable amount of good, hard, gnarled knee-timber in their constitution, they could confront the evils and brave the storms of life, calmly and hopefully waiting for the coming in of better times and more propitious circumstances. ' Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way ; But to act that each to-morrow Finds us farther than to-day.' Leith, however, would not be crushed. N
Volume 11 Page 150
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