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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


114 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [New Tom. - ~~~~ ~ ~ Cockburn, the former spoke thus affectionately .of the High School :- ? In this town it was, as was truly observed by .our worthy chairman, that I first imbibed the noble grinciples of a liberal Scottish education; and it is Ifit that I should tell you, as many of you may not have heard what I have frequently told to others, :in other places, and in other meetings, that I have :seen no other plan of education so efficient as that which is established in this city. With great experience and opportunity of observation, I certainly have never yet seen any one system so well adapted for training up good citizens, as well as learned and virtuous men, as the old High School of Edinburgh and the Scottish Universities. Great improvements may, and no doubt will be made, even in these seminaries. But what I have to say of the High School of Edinburgh, and, as the ground of the preference I give it over others, and even over another academy, lately established in this city, on what is said to be a more improved principle-what I say is this : that such a school is altogether invaluable in a free State-in a State having higher objects in view, by the education of its youth, than a mere knowledge of the Latin and Greek languages, and the study of prosody. That in a State like this, higher objects should be kept in view, there can be no doubt ; though I confess I have passed much of my time in these studies myself. ?Yet a school like the old High School of Edinburgh is invaluable, and for what is it so? It is because men of the highest and lowest rank of society send their children to be educated together. The oldest friend I have in the world, your worthy vice-president (Lord Douglas Gordon Halyburton of Pitcur, M.P.) and myself were at the High School of Edinburgh together, and in the same class along with others, who still possess our friendship, and some of them in a rank in life still higher than us. One of them was a nobleman who is now in the House of Peers ; and some of them were the sons of shopkeepers in the lowest part of the Cowgate-shops of the most inferior descnption- and one or two of them were the sons of menial servants in the town. They wen siiliug side by side, giving and taking places from each other, without the slightest impression on the part of my noble friends of any superiority on their parts to the other boys, or any ideas of the inferiority on the part of the other boys to them ; and this is my reason for preferring the old High School of Edinburgh to other and what may be termed more patrician schools, however well regulated or conducted.? CHAPTER XVI. THE NEW TOWN. ?The Site before the Streets-The Lang Dykes-Wood?s Farm-Drumsheugh House-Bearford?s Parks-The Houses of Easter and Wester Coates-Gabriel?s Road-Craig?s Plan of the New Town-John Young builds the First House Therein-Extension of the Town Westward. LOOKING at the site of the New Town now, it requires an effort to think that there were thatched cottages there once, and farms, where corn was sown and reaped, where pigs grunted in styes or roamed in the yard; where fowls laid eggs and clucked over them, and ducks drove their broods into the .North Loch, where the trap caught eels .and the otter and water-rat lurked amid the sedges, and where cattle browsed on the upland slopes that were crested by the line of the Lang Dykes ; and where the gudeman and his sons left the ploiigh in the furrow, and betook them to steel bonnets and plate sleeves, to jack and Scottish spear, when the bale-fire, flaming out on the Castle towers, announced that ?our ancient enemies of England had crossed the Tweed.? Such, little more than one hundred years ago, was the site of the Modern Athens.? ? . Along the line now occupied by Princes Street lay a straight country road, the Lang Dykes-called the Lang Gait in the ?Memorie of the Somervilles,? in 1640-the way by which Claverhouse and his troopers rode westward on that eventful day in 1689, and where in 1763, we read in theEdinburgh Museum for January of two gentlemen on horse-. back bei,ng stopped by a robber, armed with a pistol, whom they struck down by the butt end of a whip,. but failed to secure, ?? as they heard somebody whistle several times behind the dykes,? and were apprehensive that he might have confederates. The district was intersected by other lonelyroads, such as the Kirk Loan, which led north from St. Cuthbert?s Church to the wooden, or Stokebridge, and the ford on the Leith at the back of the present Malta Terrace, where it joined Gabriel?s Road, a path that came from the east, end of the
Volume 3 Page 114
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