« AnteriorContinuar »
THE metropolis of Scotland is situated in the northern part of the county of Mid-Lothian, and is about two miles distant from the Firth of Forth.* Its length and breadth are nearly equal, measuring about two miles in either direction. In panoramic splendour, its site is generally admitted to be unequalled by any capital in Europe, and the prospect from the elevated points of the city and neighbourhood is of singular beauty and grandeur. The noble estuary of the Forth, expanding from river into ocean; the solitary grandeur of Arthur's Seat; the varied park and woodland scenery which enrich the southward prospect; the pastoral acclivities of the neighbouring Pentland Hills, and the more shadowy splendours of the Lammermoors, the Ochils, and the Grampians, form some of the features of a landscape, combining,
* The precise geographical position of the centre of the city is 55° 57' 20" north latitude, and 3° 10'30" west longitude.
in one vast expanse, the richest elements of the beautiful and the sublime.
“ Traced like a map the landscape lies
In cultured beauty stretching wide;
There Ocean, with its azure tide;
A distant giant range, are seen,
North Berwick-Law, with cone of green,
The origin of Edinburgh is one of those subjects of which it may be said, in the stately language of Chalmers,f that history is taciturn, and archæology loquacious. The most learned and laborious of Scottish Annalists favour the opinion that the city owes its foundation and its name to Edwin, a Northumbrian prince of the seventh century. Others claim for it a higher antiquity, attributing its origin to Eth, a Pictish king, while Buchanan gives the preference to another etymology, which affords no clue to its founder, deriving its name from Dun Edin, two Gaelic words signifying “ the face of a hill.” Of these, the derivation from Edwin appears to be the most obvious, as well as that which is best supported by authority. ||
† George Chalmers, F.R.S., A.S., author of “ Caledonia ; or, An Account Historical and Topographic of North Britain.”
# Buchanani Hist. Scot., lib. vi., sec. 2.
| The laborious Maitland, in advocating the etymology from Edwin, addresses the following amusing argument to the national prejudices of his countrymen :
"As many of our countrymen are of opinion that it is a Dishonour to our Nation to ascribe the Origin of our Metropolis to the English, that plainly appears to be the effect of Incogitancy; for it is much more honourable for us to attribute the Foundation of
At whatever time the city was founded, there can be little doubt that the Castle was the nucleus around which the first dwellings arose. If the fortress existed previous to the time of Edwin, it is probable that it came into the possession of the Saxons after the battle of Cattraeth, fought about the middle of the sixth century, one of the results of which was the incorporation of Middle and Eastern Lothian in the kingdom of Northumberland. Edwin, who flourished in the earlier part of the succeeding century, if not the actual founder of the Castle, made such important additions to its fortifications, that it was afterwards known by the name of Edwinesburch (Edwin his Castle), and, by a very natural consequence, the same appellation was conferred upon the city which began to form around its walls.
A chronological record of the progress of the city from its foundation to the present time, does not fall within the scope of the present work. The compilation of a Guide Book does indeed require the introduction of historical notices, but it will be more convenient for the reader that these should be reserved till he is conducted to those quarters of the city where the incidents severally occurred. The events of history, and the localities which they have rendered memorable, will thus be presented to the eye in one view, a method which, it is believed, will be more generally acceptable to the reader than a more formal historical digest.
Edinburgh to the English than to our Ancestors; seeing it is thereby shewn that we either took it from them by Force, or compelled them to give it up by Treaty. And no doubt it will be readily acknowledged by all, that it would have been a much greater honour to us to have taken the City of London, and converted it into the capital City of our own Kingdom; whereby is shewn the fallacious Way of some Men's judging."- Maitland's History of Edinburgh, p. 6, sec. 3.
To most of the great cities in the kingdom the approaches lie through mean and squalid suburbs, by which the stranger is gradually introduced to the more striking streets and public edifices. The avenues to Edinburgh, on the contrary, are lined with streets of a highly respectable class, the abodes of poverty being, for the most part, confined to those gigantic piles of building in the older parts of the city, where they so essentially contribute to the picturesque grandeur of the place.
The general architecture of the city is very imposing, whether we regard the picturesque disorder of the buildings in the Old Town, or the symmetrical proportions of the streets and squares in the New. Of the public edifices, it may be observed, that while the greater number are distinguished by chaste design and excellent masonry, there are none of those sumptuous structures which, like St. Paul's or Westminster Abbey, York Minster, and some other of the English provincial cathedrals, astonish the beholder alike by their magnitude and their architectural splendour. But in no city of the kingdom is the general standard of excellence so well maintained ; if there be no edifice to overwhelm the imagination by its magnificence, there are comparatively few to offend taste by their deformity or meanness of design. Above all, Edinburgh is wholly exempt from such examples of ostentatious deformity, as, in London, may be seen to mingle with some of the most graceful specimens of domestic architecture in the Regent Park.
The resemblance between Athens and Edin