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And the spectator, according as he was a lover of old things or an amateur of novelties, would have sighed or approved.The little city, strung from the Castle to Holyroodhouse along her rib of hill, where more history had been made than in any place of like size save Athens, Rome and Jerusalem—which, according to the weather and the observer’s standpoint, looked like a flag flung against the sky or a ship riding by the shore—was enlarging her bounds and entering upon a new career.The failure of Jacobitism flung Scotland back upon herself and forced her to work out her own salvation.But that bitter task did not increase her love for her southern neighbour.This was the Carron Ironworks, now eleven years old, and a canal was being made from Grangemouth-on-Forth to carry their products to the world.There, within sight of the Highland Line, a quarter of a century after a Jacobite army had campaigned on that very ground, the coal and iron of the Scottish midlands were being used in a promising industry.The centenary of the death of Sir Walter Scott is my excuse for the re-cutting of some of the lines of Lockhart’s imperishable memorial, and for an attempt at a valuation of the man and his work after the lapse of a hundred years. December 1931 In the autumn of the year 1771 an Edinburgh citizen, returning after many years’ absence, would have noted certain changes in his native city.It is a book which I was bound one day or other to write, for I have had the fortune to be born and bred under the shadow of that great tradition. If, on the morning after his arrival at the White Horse Inn in the Canongate, he had ascended to the high places of the Castle hill, and looked north and east, he would have missed one familiar landmark.
So our restored exile may have regarded the scene with mingled feelings.
It was the clearing-house of the Highlands, as Stagshawbank on the Tyne was the clearing-house of Scotland.
The drover from Glen Affric, herding his kyloes among the autumn bracken, could see from his bivouac a cloud of dark smoke on the banks of the Carron river, and hear by day and night the clang of hammers.
She was conscious of being poverty-stricken and backward, a mere northern appanage which England had once seen fit to conciliate, and, the Union accomplished, could now neglect.
A friendly visitor like Pennant might find something to patronize and praise, but the common traveller’s tale was only of a bleak land, vile weather, bad inns, bad roads, dirty farms and shabby stone towns.