Scotland News

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The New York Times, August 7, 1868:

SCOTLAND.

A Trip to Edinburgh--Grand Dinner with the Lord Provost.

From Our Own Correspondent.
Edinburgh, Saturday, July 25, 1868.
    All these years that I have been in England I had been no further north than Manchester or Liverpool. It was a mistake, no doubt, but it is rectified at last, and here I am in this grand northern capital, beyond comparison the finest, most picturesque, most imposing town in the United Kingdom.
    No description can do justice to its natural features. Bold, craggy mountains, wide glens, lovely valleys, castles, palaces, temples, architecture of a thousand years, the most romantic and thrilling historical associations, are all clustered in Edinburgh.
    The history, romance and poetry of Scotland all centre here. Here on this great rock stands the castle where Queen Mary was imprisoned, and gave birth to James VI. of Scotland, and I. of England. Down there, sleeping in the calm valley, is the Palace of Holyrood, where Rizzio was murdered. I do not propose to say much about them. Read the Scottish Chiefs and the Waverly Novels.

    The reason, probably, why I did not come sooner to Scotland, was that I never before got a formal invitation. Sitting alone in my room the other day, in the Capital of British Bohemia--Leicester-square--I received an invitation by post to dine with the Right Honorable the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.
    The thermometer was in the nineties. The beautiful verdure of England was very brown. Here was an invitation to the hills and lakes and running streams, and the green valleys of Scotland, to see this wonderful city, the Athens of the North, and to dine with the Lord Provost and the literary and scientific nobilities of the Scottish Capital. Need I say that I very promptly accepted the invitation?

    The Right Honorable the Lord Provost, you may remember, is William Chambers, of the publishing house of W. & R. Chambers. The dinner, given at the Douglas Hotel, St. Andrew-square, on Thursday, July 23, was to celebrate the completion of Chambers' Encyclopaedia.
    Nearly one hundred of us Encyclopaedists and our admiring friends assembled at the appointed hour, and were received by the Lord Provost and Mr. Robert Chambers, Jr. Dr. Robert Chambers not being able to be present. Among those present whose names are familiar to Americans were Sir James G. Simpson, Bart., Sir Wm. Johnston, Mr. Emanuel Deutsch, of the British Museum, and author of the Talmud articles in the Quarterly, Dr. Findlater, editor of the Encyclopaedia, Prof. Tait, and more than I can give the names of without running into a catalogue.
    It was a constellation of celebrities from the British Isles... On my right was Dr. W.A.F. Browne, humorist, psychologist and Commissioner in Lunacy; on my left was Mr. Caruthers, botanist, of the British Museum, with whom I discussed the Darwinian theory...

The New York Times, August 21, 1868:

SCOTTISH SCENES.

Glasgow and its Suburbs--
Summary of City Sights--The Scottish Dialect.


From Our Own Correspondent.
Malvern, England, Saturday, August 8, 1868.
    My last left me at Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland, and the third in the United Kingdom. It is a great and beautiful city, with a population of nearly half a million. Like all Scotland, it is built of a cold gray stone. There are no bricks, except for factory chimneys, and of these Glasgow has a multitude, and some of the tallest in the world. One is more than four hundred feet high, a slender, beautiful shaft like a needle, shooting up into the sky, but how such leverage can resist the tempest passes my comprehension.
    All gray stone--stone walls divide the fields; villages and cities, cottages and castles, are all stone. Over all loom the gray mountains of primitive or metamorphic rock, and the silver lakes and rushing rivers rest upon or run over beds of gray rock. And there are wild and beautiful rocky glens; and the débris of all this rock gives a sweet soil, healthful, and, over a large surface, very fertile. I entirely sympathize with the Sotch in their love of country, and also in their desire to get away from it.

    Glasgow is a pattern manufacturing and commercial city. It is the centre of a rich productive country. It rests on great beds of iron and coal; it is on a tidal river, giving admirable facilities for shipbuilding and commerce. It has an industrious and thrifty population, Scotch and Irish, with an intermixture better, perhaps, than either. The town is beautifully built, with broad streets, handsome bridges, and all in a stately style of architecture, like that of Edinburgh.
    On the Clyde are built the fleetest and finest of ocean steamers, now found on every ocean of the world. Cheap coal, iron and labor have been too much for London and its trade combinations. Whoever competes for the commerce of the world must give up the idea of protection and come down to first principles.

    Charming excursions are made from Glasgow among the romantic islands on the western coast of Scotland; up the long friths and inlets that penetrate the Highlands, and through the chain of lakes, which the Caledonian ship canal unites into a broad channel to Inverness and the Northern Sea.
    Glasgow is also well provided with parks and gardens in its beautiful suburbs; with romantic scenery around the falls of the Clyde and the Ducal Palace of the Hamiltons, where the young Duke, when not off to the races, keeps open house with lavish hospitality.

    In the centre of this great rich town, as in the center of Edinburgh, resides a crowded population, in poverty, in filth, in an absence of all the conditions of decency and health, very painful to see. I do not mind bare feet and legs, they are more likely to be clean than covered ones. Many think bare feet healthful. But I cannot bear to see the miserable, dark, dismal, filthy alleys, courts and dens, swarming with people whose conditions, and consequent habits, are a disgrace to civilization...

    In the centre of the old town, from which the great smoky manufacturing and the splendid commercial and fashionable quarters stretch away on either side, stands the University, or, as they prefer to call it, the College. It is a stately group of buildings, part of which are four or five centuries old; but it has just been sold, just as it is, with all its historical and scholastic associations, to one of the railways, for a goods station. New and magnificent buildings are being erected, from designs of Gilbert Scott, in the suburbs, to take their place.

    Connected with the University I found William Hunter's Museum, an unique and most interesting collection... He was a wide collector. Making a large fortune--more than a million dollars--on obstetrics in London, he seems to have spent a large part of it on this collection. There are Roman remains found in England; inscriptions to the Emperor Hadrian; war, hunting and fishing implements from savage tribes, skeletons and stuffed specimens of natural history; cabinets of shells and minerals; glorious crystals... a collection of coins which alone is valued at $350,000; priceless manuscripts; and lovely original pictures of Raphael, Titian, Guido, Murillo, Rembrandt... And here is all this wonderful collection stowed away in a dusty, neglected building in Glasgow, with a shilling admission.
    The shilling is nothing, only they should not put a price on what is priceless. But how came a collection at Glasgow at all, which was made in London, and should have remained there, as part of the great national collections? William Hunter left it all in his will to the nation, if Parliament would provide a suitable place for its exhibition; otherwise it was to go to his native city of Glasgow, on like conditions. There was no Minister enlightened enough to secure the treasure, and here it is, the property of the University. I was equally astonished at the collection, and the stupidity that had it sent to Glasgow...

    The Scottish dialect, as far as I heard, is quite as easy to be understood as that of Lancashire; the newspapers are written in pure and vigorous English, and you must go to the advertising columns for national peculiarities. There you may of an excellent self-contained dwelling house, with a feu duty, and the entry taxed at a duplicand, the fee being presently full, to be sold at a public roup, with bond and disposition in security, also the following subjects, with nine falls feued out, &c. I decline to make an oath that all these expressions are found in one advertisement, but I am sure I read them in half a column, all quite familiar, no doubt, to a Scottish lawyer, or man of business, but for me having all the charm of novelty...
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