Edinburgh Picturesque Notes eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 66 pages of information about Edinburgh Picturesque Notes.
and a sentiment as of foreign travel, when we hit in our excursions on the butt-end of some former hamlet, and found a few rustic cottages embedded among streets and squares.  The tunnel to the Scotland Street Station, the sight of the trains shooting out of its dark maw with the two guards upon the brake, the thought of its length and the many ponderous edifices and open thoroughfares above, were certainly things of paramount impressiveness to a young mind.  It was a subterranean passage, although of a larger bore than we were accustomed to in Ainsworth’s novels; and these two words, ‘subterreanean passage,’ were in themselves an irresistible attraction, and seemed to bring us nearer in spirit to the heroes we loved and the black rascals we secretly aspired to imitate.  To scale the Castle Rock from West Princes Street Gardens, and lay a triumphal hand against the rampart itself, was to taste a high order of romantic pleasure.  And there are other sights and exploits which crowd back upon my mind under a very strong illumination of remembered pleasure.  But the effect of not one of them all will compare with the discoverer’s joy, and the sense of old Time and his slow changes on the face of this earth, with which I explored such corners as Cannonmills or Water Lane, or the nugget of cottages at Broughton Market.  They were more rural than the open country, and gave a greater impression of antiquity than the oldest land upon the High Street.  They too, like Fergusson’s butterfly, had a quaint air of having wandered far from their own place; they looked abashed and homely, with their gables and their creeping plants, their outside stairs and running mill-streams; there were corners that smelt like the end of the country garden where I spent my Aprils; and the people stood to gossip at their doors, as they might have done in Colinton or Cramond.

In a great measure we may, and shall, eradicate this haunting flavour of the country.  The last elm is dead in Elm Row; and the villas and the workmen’s quarters spread apace on all the borders of the city.  We can cut down the trees; we can bury the grass under dead paving-stones; we can drive brisk streets through all our sleepy quarters; and we may forget the stories and the playgrounds of our boyhood.  But we have some possessions that not even the infuriate zeal of builders can utterly abolish and destroy.  Nothing can abolish the hills, unless it be a cataclysm of nature which shall subvert Edinburgh Castle itself and lay all her florid structures in the dust.  And as long as we have the hills and the Firth, we have a famous heritage to leave our children.  Our windows, at no expense to us, are most artfully stained to represent a landscape.  And when the Spring comes round, and the hawthorns begin to flower, and the meadows to smell of young grass, even in the thickest of our streets, the country hilltops find out a young man’s eyes, and set his heart beating for travel and pure air.

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Edinburgh Picturesque Notes from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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