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Edinburgh Past and Present


PORTOBELLO. 119 dwelling, naming it Portobello, in commemoration of the bombardment of a town of that name at which he had been present. This cottage, situated on the south side of the main street, and still pointed out to strangers, formed . the nucleus around which other houses arose, which, increasing in number and respectability, as time rolled on, have in these days of ours blossomed into the important and much-frequented watering-place it has become. So originated both the name and town of our- Scottish Brighton. Very early in its history the manufacture of bricks and tiles was instituted. Shortly afterwards a pottery was started, and that again was followed at short intervals by other public works, as bottle-making, crystal and glasscutting, a paper-mill, and chemical works. These, for the most part, are all built on the banks of the rivulet called the Figget Burn, which falls into the sea at the west end of the town, and which constitutes the boundary between the parishes of Duddingstone and South Leith. Originally the town does not appear to have been built regularly, or on any plan, as there is an evident want of uniformity or orderliness in the laying out of the streets, and the style of the houses. Each proprietor seems to have been left very much to his own mind in the matter, and, as taste or means or circumstances dictated, erected a larger or smaller dwelling, without any reference either to character or effect. The consequence is that we have, in a great measure, a town of almost all sizes and styles of building : handsome villas retiring from the public view, embowered nest-like in a sea of foliage : and houses of an humbler and meaner class close upon, or skirting the thoroughfare, presenting a cold, stiff, and uninteresting aspect to the visitor, unrelieved either by tree, plant, or flower-plot Latterly, indeed, this has to a great extent been corrected. Within these thirty or forty years the style and character of the architecture, as well as the regular and orderly disposition of the streets, have had the attention of competent judges, and the more modem parts of the town are now all that could be desired in these respects. Altogether, Portobello is a fine town, interesting in itself and fortunate in its surroundings : the city of Edinburgh within an easy walk, with Arthur’s Seat, the village of Duddingstone, Lhddingstone Loch, the grounds of Abercorn, and the grand historic ruin of Craigmillar Castle; Leith, a quaint old seaport of stirring memories, with its spacious harbour, magnificent docks, and numerous fleet of steamers ever in motion, telling in poetic utterance of the life, energy, and enterprise abroad in these days of ours; and Musselburgh also, ‘the honest toun,’ two miles or so to the east, is not without its attractions, alike to the antiquarian, the historian, or the
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I20 QUEENSFERRY TO MUSSELBURGH. mere lover of scenery : Portobeilo, thus happily surrounded and pleasantly situated, is a most attractive town, and has many and decided advantages over any other seaside watering-place within the circle of our knowledge. MUS S ELBU RG H, Which lies a little to the east of Portobello, is a town of considerable antiquity. It is situated close to the sea-shore, on a low,' flat expanse, with Inveresk overlooking it on the south, and Fisherrow, separated from it by the river Esk, on the west. Both Musselburgh and Fisherrow are embraced in the parish of Inveresk, and may be regarded as forming but one township. Fisherrow is a somewhat uncomfortable-looking place, consisting of one long main street, a back street, with a number of close dirty lanes and bylanes, chiefly inhabited by fishers and the poorer classes of the population. In the principal thoroughfare, indeed, and especially in the east towards the bridge spanning the river, there are many very good houses, while in the outskirts, again, are several villas of a veryhandsome and commodious character. The town has a harbour, in which, notwithstanding the heavy dues levied by the municipality, light craft discharging their cargoes are frequently found : it shares likewise in the government of the burgh, and has the right to elect a certain number of its"residenters ' to the magistracy. The fishing community, although perhaps not equal to their confdres of Newhaven in forethought and industry, are yet in the main very active and frugal: the men sedulously plying the line and the net in catching the finny inhabitants of the deep, and their wives and daughters as diligent and laborious in their efforts to sell them. Musselburgh, on the other hand, is a clean, tidy, pleasant-looking town, and has a history that runs back to a time somewhat earlier even than that of Malcolm Canmore, being known to the Northumbrian Saxons as a seat of population nearly nine hundred years ago, by the name of Eske Mufhe. Very likely, however, it was then a place of no importance, a mere hamlet in the manors of Inveresk with which it was connected, and sharing subsequently their fortunes as gifts by the King and his royal lady to the abbot and monks of the aIready opulent and important monastery of Dunfermline. Inveresk, it would appear, was divided at that early day into Great and Little Inveresk, and extended nearly three miles from east to west, and about two from north to south. The situation is perhaps one of the most delightful to be found in Scotland : the northern portion flattening towards the sea and
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