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Edinburgh Past and Present


4 EDINBURGH PAST AND PRESENT. the Lammermoor range as by an arm ; the Pentlands storming against the western sky, while ‘ Northward far, with purer blaze, On Ochil mountains fell the rays, And as each heathy top they kissed, It gleamed a purple amethyst.’ From Salisbury Crags-. But here we must quote Scott :-‘If I were to choose a spot from which the rising and the setting sun could be seen to the greatest advantage, it would be that wild path winding around the foot of the high belt of semicircular rocks called Salisbury Crags, and marking the verge of the steep descent which slopes down into the glen on the south-eastern side of the city of Edinburgh. This prospect in its general outline commands a close-built, high-piled city, stretching itself out beneath in a form which to a romantic imagination may be supposed to represent that of a dragon. Now a noble arm of the sea, with its rocks, isles, distant shores, and boundary of mountains, and now a fair and fertile champaign country, varied with hill and dale and rock, and skirted by the picturesque ridge of the Pentland mountains. But as the path gently circles around the base of the cliff, the prospect, composed as it is of those enchanting and sublime objects, changes at every step, and presents them blended with or divided from each other in every possible variety which can gratify the eye and the imagination. When a piece of scenery so beautiful yet so varied, so exciting by its intricacy and yet so sublime, is lighted up by the tints ofmrning or of evening, and displays all that variety of shadowy depth exchanged with partial brilliancy which gives character even to the tamest of landscapes, the effect approaches near to enchantment.’ And such enchantment we had once the privilege of partaking to almost a painful degree, while watching, long long ago, from that spot the ruined splendour of an early autumn eve, with its black promontories plunging into seas of gold, the rapid shifting of cloudy shapes, the aerial mimicry of the scenes below visible in the heavens, blue Grampians and white Alps piled up and pulled down in a moment of time, rocks of ragged aspect tumbling into lakes of molten silver j animal and fish-like forms arising and changing into each other as if Evolution (one might say now) were going on before your sight, and every kind of common colour flushing into gold, as if the Projection of Alchemy were taking place in the open furnace of the heavens, the sun sinking out of the view of this ‘agony of glory,’ but sending up his last beams to see the end, and a stern, grey twilight casting a shroud over the deathbed ~~
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