Edinburgh Bookshelf

Edinburgh Past and Present


6 EDINBURGH PAST AND PRESENT. most massive Architecture of the past, which all pronounce wonderful, and many consider unrivalled. On the other hand, there are those who are far more deeply in love with the’ prospect from the Castlehill, and can render reasons for their partiality. The view, id the first place, is much freer, higher, and more expansive. Half Scotland stretches around j on the south, the blue bulk of the Pentlands ; on the north, the green, gnarled, round-headed Ochils, with the Firth flowing between, as if to soothe the wound which made these ridges twain j and on the extreme far north-west, the hills of Rob Roy’s country, Ben Lomond, Ben Ledi, Ben Voirlich, and the rest, lifting up their kingly foreheads. Fife, less bold and ambitious, yet attracts and fixes the gaze by the loveliness of its low and leaning shores. Seaward, every picturesque point and coigne of vantage, Inchkeith, the Bass and North Berwick Law, is strongly protruded, as well as clearly seen, and Leith and its neighbourhood come out so distinctly that you can feel as well as pronounce the words- ‘ The boat rocks at the pier-o’ Leith, Fo’ loud the wind blaws frae the Ferry.‘ Eastward, the Lion of Arthur’s Seat looks most leonine-assuming here too a peculiarly proud, self-conscious, watchful look, as if he were Spenser‘s lion guarding Edinburgh as his favourite ward, his Una, and Salisbury Crag seems a promontory overhanging an unseen and ideal ocean. Nowhere else can you see so well the cpntrast between the character of the two townsthe Old and the New,-the latter gay, glittering, like a section of Paris as seen from Notre Dame, smiling as if there were no such things as Death and Change in the universe-saying, ‘I sit a Queen, and am no widow j’ the other with the shadow of a thousand sad memories, mingling with the light of other days upon it, sombre, sublime, silent in its age-truly what Wordsworth calls it- ‘ Stately Edinburgh, throned 011 crags.’ And the valley which separates the one from the other is different from and superior to both,-a gulf fixed, but a glorious one, with the Bridges and the Mound crossing and cheering and peopling the chasm ! In the very centre of it rises Scott’s Monument, an emblem of his wide and catholic genius, binding together present and perished ages. Beautifiil exceedingly this in the grey morning, in the garish noonday, and in the ‘golden evening, but it reaches the character of sublimity when seen in the summer afternoon, as a
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GENERAL DESCRIPTION. 7 great thunderstorm is advancing from the west, to steep it in darkness and in fire, and by the eye of the young enthusiast which turns to it from the volcanic pages of the RmoZt of IsZam he is reading on the Half-moon Battery, where occur the lines- ‘As when some great Painter dips His pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse.’ Often have attempts been made to picture the Bridge by night, with those enormous masses of building on the south-illuminated by countless THE OLD TOWN. twinkling lamps, which only make the darkness visible,-and with that great gulf already alluded to, between two cities, or worlds, beaming with lights, as with shining stepping-stones across,-lights which at once enliven and measure its tremendous depth, and which might remind a fancifd imagination of those
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