FOURTH WEEK’S JOURNEY
Monday, October 9th
There were some streets in Edinburgh called wynds, and it was in one of these, the College Wynd, that Sir Walter Scott was born in the year 1771. It seemed a strange coincidence that the great Dr. Samuel Johnson should have visited the city in the same year, and have been conducted by Boswell and Principal Robertson to inspect the college along that same wynd when the future Sir Walter Scott was only about two years old. We had not yet ventured to explore one of these ancient wynds, as they appeared to us like private passages between two rows of tall houses. As we could not see the other end, we looked upon them as traps for the unwary, but we mustered up our courage and decided to explore one of them before leaving the town. We therefore rose early and selected one of an antiquated appearance, but we must confess to a feeling of some apprehension in entering it, as the houses on each side were of six to eight storeys high, and so lofty that they appeared almost to touch each other at the top. To make matters worse for us, there were a number of poles projecting from the windows high above our track, for use on washing days, when clothes were hung upon them to dry. We had not gone very far, when my brother drew my attention to two women whose heads appeared through opposite windows in the upper storeys, and who were talking to each other across the wynd. On our approach we heard one of them call to the other in a mischievous tone of voice, “See! there’s twa mair comin’!” We were rather nervous already, so we beat an ignominious retreat, not knowing what might be coming on our devoted heads if we proceeded farther. In the event of hostilities the two ladies were so high up in the buildings, which were probably let in flats, that we should never have been able to find them, and, like the stray sheep in the Pass of St. Ninians, we might never have been found ourselves. We were probably taken for a pair of sporting young medical students instead of grave searchers after wisdom and truth. We therefore returned to our hotel for the early breakfast that was waiting for us, and left Edinburgh at 8.10 a.m. on our way towards Peebles.
[Illustration: QUEEN MARY’S BATH.]
[Illustration: CRAIGMILLAR CASTLE.]
We journeyed along an upward gradient with a view of Craigmillar Castle to our left, obtaining on our way a magnificent view of the fine city we had left behind us, with its castle, and the more lofty elevation known as Arthur’s Seat, from which portions of twelve counties might be seen. It was a curiously shaped hill with ribs and bones crossing in various directions, which geologists tell us are undoubted remains of an old volcano. It certainly was a very active one, if one can judge by the quantity of debris it threw out. There was an old saying, especially interesting to ladies, that if you washed