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Scotland Picturesque; Historical; Descriptive
Being a series of views of Edinburgh and its Environs. In 4 volumes (1840)


THERE are few countries whose historical and other associations present greater interest than Scotland. Only three centuries ago it was, as a nation, almost in the same category as was England in the days of the Saxons. Rival chiefs or clans were constantly promoting civil war, or fighting amonothemselves. The reign of the unfortunate Queen Mary affords some of the most painful incidents that can be found in the history of any nation. In the course of events, however, at the commencement of the last century, the Union between England and Scotland was effected, and from that date the progress of North Britain in commerce, the arts and sciences, and manufactures has been unparalleled. Scotland, in fact, at the present day, by the enterprise, perseverance, and energy of her inhabitants, stands foremost in civilised life. Perhaps the truth is not exceeded if we remark, that there is not a spot where civilisation has taken root throughout the world, that a Scotchman may not be found exercising his peculiar perfervidum in promoting general progress.

Until very recently the tourist knew little of the beauties of the country, and still less of its historical associations. To describe these and other objects of interest is the purpose of the following pages. Fifty years ago, a journey to Edinburgh was, in every respect, as serious an undertaking as one to Egypt is at the present day. But the extension of the railway system to the Ultima Tlmle, and the example set by her Majesty, have led tourists of all classes to acquaint themselves with the romantic scenery of Scotland, in place of a resort to Germany and Switzerland, as was formerly the case.

Scotland may be practically considered as consisting of three principal regions. In a line south of Edinburgh, drawn to Dumfries, and near Carlisle, the scenery partakes much of the character of the North of England. The Cheviot Hills introduce to the higher system of mountain ranges in the north. In this portion, agriculture, the rearing of sheep and cattle, are the chief occupation of the inhabitants. Within the central zone the leading historical incidents of Scotland have occurred, the capital, Edinburgh, having been their centre. This also includes Stirling, Glasgow, Falkirk, &c. ; and here coal, lead, and iron mining, textile and chemical manufactures, have attained the highest position. The Clyde and the Forth, connected by a canal, become the veins or arteries of immense commercial activity.

North of this the great mountain ranges commence, with the magnificent lochs of sea and fresh water, that indent the whole of the western portion of Scotland. In the Grampian range is Ben Nevis, having a height of 4,370 feet, and Ben Macdhui, said to be 4,390 feet high. In some of these mountains there are ravines from 1,000 to 1,500 feet in perpendicular depth. Still further north is a range extending from the Atlantic to the German Ocean, one of the highest hills being Ben Wyvis, 3,720 feet. In the West Highlands, the scenery from the mouth of the Clyde is of the most romantic description, the Isle of Arran affording a kind of microcosm of their topography and geology. The inland lakes or lochs, such as Lomond, Katrine, Awe, Ness, Leven, &c, afford every variety of scenery, while those running in from the sea are scarcely inferior in beauty ; as, for example, Lochs Fyne and Long. In these districts we need scarcely remind our readers that shooting and fishing are carried on, and afford some of the strongest inducements for the visit of the tourist. Deer-stalking is reserved for the more northerly districts, as Sutherlandshire and neighbouring counties.

Scotland is rich in its archaeology. Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace still remain as monuments of history. The same may be said of Stirling Castle, and the ruins of Linlithgow and other palaces. As regards cathedrals, those of Glasgow and Elgin are magnificent specimens of ecclesiastical architecture. Among abbeys, those of Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso, and Roslin Chapel are too well known to require further than the mere mention. The style of these, and their ornamentation, present some curious features of study, in an ethnological point of view, when we contrast them with the character of the Celts, little emerged from a state of barbarism at the period of the erection of such buildings. It is singular, indeed, that the soft, flowing lines of Scott, and the tender, or at times forcible poetry of Burns, should have emanated from a people which even now retain, in some places, traces of the feudal system.

Such are some outlines of various interesting matters described in minute detail in this Work. With respect to the Illustrations, they afford lively pictures of what the intended tourist may expect to realise on visiting Scotland. On the other hand, those who are familiar with that country will be enabled to reproduce in the mind a constantly-recurring sense of pleasure.

Volume 1  |  Volume 2  |  Volume 3  |  Volume 4

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