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Life Jottings of an Old Edinburgh Citizen
Chapter Thirty-Three

INDUSTRIAL manufacture has never found itself at home in Edinburgh. Distilleries and breweries and rubber factories are its chief great works, and there are engineering shops on a not very large scale. It is not a city of public works. There was in Lord Cock-burn's time an inch nation on the part of the municipality to endeavour to promote the establishment of manufactures, with the view of improving the financial position, which was then at a very low level. His lordship did his best to combat this idea, pointing out with force how the attraction of Edinburgh to the stranger was enhanced by the natural beauties of the situation, and how freedom from disfigurement by manufactures was an important element in the charm of its aspect. When referring in 1835 to the insolvent condition of Edinburgh, he says, speaking of the proposal to effect a financial recovery by encouraging factories: "I rejoice that we cannot excite it by steam. We must try to survive on better grounds; on our advantages as a metropolis, our adaptation for education, our literary fame, and especially on the glories of our external position and features . . . undimmed by the black dirty clouds from manufactures, the absence of which is one of the principal charms of our situation."

The present generation has reason to be thankful that wiser counsels prevailed, and that the thought of converting our lovely town into a paltry imitation of Glasgow faded away. A real manufacturing on seaport town such as Glasgow has its glory in successful industry; it is a splendid strong man—the demonstration of power—while, on the other hand, a city such as Edinburgh fills the place of the graceful woman, whom tis a joy to look upon, and whom it would be a wrong to put to strenuous tasks, by which her fine lines would be destroyed and her being coarsened* Lord Cockburn s reference to Edinburgh's dependence on her adaptability for education is remarkable in view of what has happened since his time. Edinburgh has for long possessed many charitable institutions for education, some of which were formerly conducted on a residential system, described often as "monastic," children being separated from their parents, and tending to acquire habits of life unsuited to the surroundings to which they had to return when schooldays were past.

This was seen to be unsatisfactory, and the Merchant Company of Edinburgh, in the Seventies of last century, set itself strenuously to introduce a change by which the benefits of the educational funds provided by generous donors might be utilised on a more useful and extended scale for day-school training and technical instruction. After full try by a Royal Commission, statutory power was given to concentrate the management of a large number of educational institutions under the Merchant Company's control. The result hasbeen <n every respect satisfactory. There is no city anywhere in which parents of the mi idle class can more easily obtain good school education for their children at a very moderate outlay. This tends greatly to the prosperity of the city. Very many persons possessed of a fixed but not high income migrate to Edinburgh, because of the teaching facilities which the schools of the city provide. Retired civilians and soldiers who have been pensioned after service, and others who have a moderate competence and are not engaged in business, settle down in Edinburgh. And these are the best citizens a town can have. They give stability to a community. The ups and downs of trade do not affect them. Their course in life is steady and free from anxieties, they form the best customers for another section of the community—the retail traders—and are regular n meeting their engagements. Thus Edinburgh prospers. Its amenity as well as its educational facilities draw many to dwell in it, and the provision for their wants gives increasing custom to the retailer, and so swells the number of those who sell goods. Edinburgh's not a city of the millionaire, nor is it the city of gigantic failures. Its banking catastrophes have all had the word ''Glasgow' in the name of the insolvent business, the great commercial city having its gigantic successes and its equally gigantic crashes, while Edinburgh has moved along a path n which there has been less of great ascents and disastrous falls. It is cause for thankfulness that we have reached a stage where we are prosperous, without the aid of the whir of the spinning-jenny or the clang of the iron-works, with their smoke shafts vulgarising the landscape and polluting the air.

One very marked illustration of the difference between the middle of the last century and the time that has followed is given by a consideration of what the newspaper Press was in those days. The Edinburgh citizen was quite content with a not very large four-page news-sheet, at the price of 3^., delivered at his door twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, and giving, as it did, news of London several days old, and news from India and other distant countries as much as three to four months after date. In Edinburgh the advertising public were accommodated by a weekly paper containing advertisements only, which was very much larger than the Tuesday and Friday newspapers, and which was delivered on Saturday at every door gratis, and was collected on Monday, and sent for a penny to any people in the country who were willing to subscribe for it. I he sheet bi ought very substantial profit to those who issued it, and it was the medium for publishing such orders of the law courts or notices as were required by law to be made public, the Court ordering advertisement to be made in the North British Advertiser, as it was called,, This was a most prosperous venture, but was unable to survive the competition of the penny daily, and died a lingering death before the close of the last century." What a change has taken place, when at the price of a penny a journal is delivered daily, varying from twelve to sixteen or even twenty large pages printed twice as closely in the advertising section than was the case formerly, and when in Edinburgh there are two halfpenny papers, each at least three times as large as the original penny Scotsman. Of course all this could never have been accomplished with the old modes of type-setting, and printing not from stereotype but from the type itself, and not by many paper webs being printed on at one revolution of a cylinder, and the sheets cut off and folded mechanically, but by separate sheets passed into and out of the press by hand. A modern printing office; a marvel of mechanical efficiency.

I have spoken of my association with the Scotsman newspaper. When I first came to be connected with it, Its offices were in old, low-ceilinged rooms besides close in the High Street. It was rapidly growing to such an extent that it was transferred to a handsome and, as was then thought, commodious building in Cockburn Street. The one penny issue had been going on for some years, and once my friend J. R. Findlay told me of an incident in its history which it can do no harm to repeat, now n the day of its magnificent success. When first the one penny daily edition came to be issued, it was a small four-page sheet, not much bigger when folded in two, if indeed as big, as a fair-sized table-napkin. Findlay told me that it had not been doing so well as was desirable, and that a visit was paid to Mr. Ritchie, his uncle (a kind friend to me), who was a supporter of the venture's finance, to ask him for 800 to tide over a difficulty. Mr. Ritchie signed a cheque, and in handing it over informed his visitors that they must not expect any more from him, that if the paper could not go on to success, then so far as he was concerned it must just stop. The venture was then at its turning-point. The tide began to flow, and prosperity took the place of anxiety.

To-day the Scotsman and its daughter, the Evening Dispatch, are housed in magnificent premises in the new North Bridge Street, and the Scotsman—sixty columns or more—is carried daily by early special trains throughout the length and breadth of the land, circulating at early hours in all quarters. Their only rival, the Evening News, is at the present time greatly enlarging its premises.

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