Edinburgh Bookshelf

Edinburgh Past and Present


22 EDINBURGH PAST AND PRESENT. treading a measure in Holyrood :-Knox, the most powerful preacher since Paul, w& thundering in the pulpit of St. Giles’ ; George Buchanan collecting materials for his temble Detecfio, and afterwards for his superb Histoory 4 . Scotland; Bothwell passing through its streets like a grim spectre ; Murray and Morton conducting its councils ; Kirkcaldy of Grange leading its troops ; Lindsay of the Byres and Sir James Melville leaving it with troubled looks for Lochleven on a melancholy embassy I It was the centre then of great events, and formed a nucleus of extraordinary men. Gavin Douglas, Drummond of Hawthornden, and Sir David Lindsay were alse long resident in Edinburgh. In the next age, under the reigning trio of Stewarts-bad, worse, and worst-the Crafty, the Careless, and the Cantankerous-Charles I., Charles II., and James II.,-there appeared in and about Edinburgh some very remarkable persons on all sides : Montrose, Lauderdale, Rothes, Mackenzie, Argyll, Dalzell, Claverhouse, Monmouth, and Perth ; Baillie of Jerviswoode, Henderson of Leuchars, Sharp, Leighton, Samuel Rutherfurd, Gillespie, William Carstairs, Sir Patrick Hume of Burnet, and latterly the noble army of martyrs, who, dragged along Edinburgh streets to suffer at the Grassmarket, seemed surrounded by unseen seraphim, and waited for by fiery chariots, and who, dying themselves, left behind a deathless glory which hovers over the place still. Sparser shine the luminaries in the beginning of the eighteenth century, although we can note, apart from distinguished natives, one immortal stranger pacing its streets and marking its bulwarks well, seeking to number the martyrs in the bypast persecution, but failing in the attempt, and referring us to ‘ the roll of their number kept under the altar and before the throne’-Daniel Defoe namely, the most ingenious and creative spirit then extant in Britain. On him, as on a stepping- stone, we pass to Allan Ramsay, the poetic periwig-maker, who may be called emphatically the AuZd--Reekie Laureate, and who in his best poem goes no farther from her than the Pentlands and Habbie’s Howe. Then we see somewhat earlier, but still contemporary, Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, the heroic patriot, who may be taken as a worthy representative of the Scottish Parliament and its many illustrious men. Ruddiman too and Pitcairn were eminent among scholars. Then we meet two very distinguished poets, one born in Edinburgh, and the other educated there, and who sailed thence to London with Wiktey in his pocket,-Robert Blair of Th Grave, and James Thomson of 2% Sasons. Nearer the middle of the century we find poor Robert Fergusson, who was &us d in cufe an Edinburgh bard, in which city too he now reposes, with one bright smile from
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THE OLD TOWN. 23 ‘blithe-hearted Bums,’ in the form of an epitaph resting like unsetting sunshine on his grave; and Hamilton of Bangor, who there joined the ranks of Prince Charlie, and became volunteer laureate to the Jacobite cause. Nor PERCUSSOX‘S GRAVH. let David Mallett (or MalIoch) be quite forgot, who, having been born in Crieff, and having studied in Aberdeen, acted as a tutor in Edinburgh ere he went to London, to make and lose a tiny and dubious fame; while with greater respect we name Armstrong, author of the Arf of Praemhg HeaZth, who studied Medicine in Edinburgh, although it was in Liddesdale that he received the boons of birth and genius. Further on we light on a glorious cluster of celebrities, among the finest Edinburgh has yet seen :-David Hume, Hugh Blair, William Robertson, Adam Smith, author of the WeaZfh of Natibns (whose grave is near to Fergbsson’s, in the Canongate churchyard), John Home, John Erskine, John Logan, Dr. Webster, and others almost as renowned; with Robert Bums shooting across like a comet, Henry Mackenzie appearing like a young star, Jupiter Carlyle hovering on the skirt of the horizon, not to speak of the transit at one time of Samuel Johnson, the most celebrated, and at another, of the greatest man then living, Edmund Burke. To this period- too beIong Lord Kames, Lord Hailes, Lord Auchinleck, and the immortal Baszy in the upper stratum of Edinburgh society, and Gilbert Stuart and William Smellie the lower. About this time too some ladies of undying repute as authors
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