|European Letters, by T.W. Patton to
The Asheville Citizen:
Description of the Tour of the North Carolina Teachers, During the Summer of 1889
EDINBORO' TOWN. [pages 14-16]
|*Note: Copy has been re-formatted. Original two column format has been abandoned and special fonts have been standardized.|
EDINBURGH, scotland, July 22, 1889.
:—Although we have resided
in Scotland only two days we are able
to give some valuable advice to any
who anticipate moving hitherward,
especially as to some articles of male attire, which we
recommend being left in America.
First among these is the beard, because
no greater nuisance has attended
us than the unsuccessful search for a
barber. At last we succeeded in the chase, and now feel very
much as though our visage had been
well rasped with a nutmeg
grater, and the blood sapped up with
a towel "founded in the eleventh
century," like all other
things here, and retaining all the odors of sanctity of those
early ages. What would these folks
think of one of our tonsorial artists?
Of course in this good country no barbers nor street cars nor other similar conveniences can be found on Sunday, so we are compelled to go to church all unshaven and unshorn. But it was our high privilege to hear a sermon which displaced all thoughts of things temporal and raised even our poor minds truly heavenward.
It was in the old St. Giles' church, the established kirk of Scotland—a grand old building, almost equal to St. Mingo's of Glasgow, which has a history of its own, its pulpit having been occupied by John Knox, and a tablet in the floor indicating the spot on which a "brave Scotch lassie" (Jennie Geddis) threw a stool at the head of some Episcopal divine who dared to read a collect—a curious deed to be so commemorated, but tempora mutantur, and the good Dr. Cameron Leeds most earnestly to-day read his prayer out of a book, and remarkably good ones they were, too, and his choir chanted the psalter and glorias right gloriously.
Most especially were we pleased with the sermon. All the surroundings were quaint and strange to us. The immense pillars of stone looming up in all directions, the arched stone overhead, the numerous vergers in black gowns, trimmed with scarlet, moving with mien of dignity in every aisle; the thousands of people, plainly dressed, earnest and devout; the sweet, low toned organ; most of these things might have been calculated to make us feel strange and far from home. But when the sermon began we almost fancied we were sitting once more under the preaching of our own dear Father in God, Bishop At-kinson. The language was so pure and simple, the arguments so logical and direct, the application so earnest and entreating—ah! all surroundings were forgotten, and when we heard the last word we could not but feel that the preacher suited his church, and together they were calculated to do great good to all men who can and will accept it.
The service being over we recommence our exploration of this lovely city. Near the church door (itself worth a trip here to see, adorned as it is with the statuettes of the Scottish kings) we see worked in the pavement in a heart of large size, known as the "Heart of Midlothian," and marking the very spot on which Jennie Deans stood when she refused to tell a lie, even to save the life of her beloved sister; a suitable exemplification of the truth which this church will ever teach.
A short distance down High street we find the old Cross of Edinboro', which has recently been restored and now makes a most striking monument surmounted by the arms of the nation and bearing the inscription "Sic itur ad astra;" again, as we think, suitably placed near the old church, encouraging as it does to good and glorious works, which must ever accompany the true faith.
A ramble down High street towards
Canongate brings us to the residence of the great John Knox, whose grave we have just seen near St. Giles', and oh! wonderful incongruity, we find a part of his residence turned into a dramshop of the worst variety.
A little further on we find the old Tolbooth prison and opposite the residence of the Marquis of Huntley, built in 1570, and presenting on its front many quaint Latin legends, of which we wish we had space to give you a translation. Nothing else prevents us, of course. A little further is the old Tolbooth church, and again one of the numerous residences of the Marquis of Darnley, in which one of his vests is still well preserved.
Near by our feet juts out boldly the famous Salisbury craig, and at its foot the humble cottage of Jennie Deans is seen, surrounded by a sweet garden, and situated on the lands of the Dumbedikes, whose lines can still be distinguished, and to the southward the road to London which Jennie Deans traveled on her mission of sisterly love; while at a short distance stands the very church in which good Reuben Butler held forth, and where Jennie called on her way. Even there it was that the Laird of Dumbedikes prevailed on the stubborn pony to overtake his master's sweetheart, who with many pangs gave her the "siller" for her journey.
Turning to the northward we recognize without assistance the Bog of the Robbers and the round hill on which Madge Wildfire posed, and near by see the pile of stones which, we are told, is the cairn where Effie had her trysting with her gay lover.
The veritable St. Anthony's church still stands, but in ruins, and we drink an icy draught of water from this famous well. Think, dear children, of our being permitted to drink from the same spring as the dear, truthful Jennie Deans! Don't you think we ought to be much better hereafter ? Well, we will try to be.
The view from Arthur's Seat, which rises nearly 900 feet above sea level, surpasses anything we ever imagined in perfect beauty. The grand city of Edinburg, the calm and lovely Frith of Forth, spanned in the distance by the mighty bridge, the isle of Inch Keith, the distant mountains of Berwick Land and Bass Rock, the nearer towns of Portobello and Leith, the bright sun and glorious bracing air, the green, aye greenest of grass, under foot, and extending to the very water's edge, covered with thousands of fat sheep, all happy under the care of a good shepherd assisted by his faithful collie—all these things combine to make up a picture which one must see to appreciate.
Sunday evening, after a dinner at the Windsor hotel long to be cherished in our memory, we attend service at the Cathedral of St. Mary's, and churchman as we are, we must confess to disappointment. How different from the morning, both the service and the sermon. The former "past man's understanding," truly if that be in its favor, and the sermon the same old seven-and-six that we have heard from boyhood, about this Sunday being the "seventh Sunday after Trinity," etc., etc. When will our preachers learn that repetition, even of truths, may be carried ad nauseam? When they do, the church will be more successful in winning souls.
We were glad when the talk was over and we once more emerged on the grand old streets. A kind Scottish gentleman, of whom we have met scores, directs our course to a high bridge, spanning a deep and wide ravine, through which the "waters of the Leith" rush toward the sea, albeit rather polluted with the industries of Leith, and on either side a sweet garden, inviting us to a nearer look than we are now enjoying from the top of the over spanning arches 200 feet in height. Here we linger until dark, that is 10.30 p. m., and then regretfully go on our wav to bed.
Monday morning finds us bright and
well and enjoying such a breakfast as seldom falls to the lot of man. The poetry of Scotland to us consists chiefly in its fish and its mutton chops. We have never seen their excellence even distantly approached. Their sole fish is delightful, and for the first time we had a whiting served with his tail in his mouth, reminding us of the passage in 'Alice in Wonderland," which we never understood before.
Another poem is the bread, and an Edinburgh roll, called a crescent, is something to dream about.
Away we go to look at Scott's monument, most worthy both of this city and of the great man whose virtues it commemorates. We wish we were able to describe it justly, but any effort would give you but a poor idea of its exquisite beauty, so we can only beg you to come and see for yourself.
And now to the grandest of all castles, perched upon its mighty, rugged hill of rock, to which it is so closely built that one can scarcely tell where the work of God stops and that of man begins; all seems equally massive and destined equally to endure until heaven and earth shall pass away.
The Esplanade, happily for us, is filled with Highlanders drilling, dressed in their curious uniforms, their bare legs and Cameron plaids, truly a picturesque picture they made. But we leave them, to seek the older works.
Just now we hear striking the hour of midnight on the solemn bell of the Abbey of Melrose. Solemn, indeed, it sounds, although we have been told it is entirely modern, having been placed in its present position not earlier than the beginning of the fourteenth century. However, that is old enough to warn us that this short night is well nigh spent, and we will hie us to our couch and say good night and threaten you with "more anon."