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by his admirable water-pieces, Nasmyth, by his landscapes, Raeburn, by his portraits, Wilkie, Allan, and other artists of merit, maybe said to have founded a Scotch school in painting. But I have not yet met with Scotch sculptors; the statues which adorn the Parliament House are by Chantry; perhaps between my visits to Edinburgh and Glasgow, I may have occasion to correct my present opinion. A Mr. Adams pretends to great merit in architecture here; and I, for his credit, hope that Edinburgh is not indebted to him for the heavy turret dedicated as a mausoleum to Hume, the truncated column of Nelson, the chapel in the form of an inverted pipkin, the theatre, and twenty other monuments more inelegant still, appertaining to a city, the site of which alone ought to have inspired a true taste in architecture. Seen at a distance, everything here is grand and picturesque; but on a closer view, all is diminutive, or in degraded taste. The environs of Edinburgh are also deficient in trees. Might it not have been possible to have approximated some of the firs which invest the uplands of Costorphine, or of the elms and oaks of Dalkeith, the foliage of which would have begirt with a verdant zone, the sterile eminences on which the modern Athens is erected? There is something more refreshing to the eye in the pretty valley situated to the west of the town, and I have occasionally taken pleasure in following the irregular course of the Leith Water, which issuing from the Pentland Hills, proceeds to discharge itself in the Firth of Forth in the middle of Leith. This wandering stream sometimes seems to force a difficult passage across rocks, which conceal its course with their prominences; sometimes it carelessly overleaps them in cascades, and subsequently running on a more level surface, it refreshes a series of meads or tufted trees. Towards the middle of the valley spouts up another spring, which would have mingled with the Leith Water, in order to bear its playful tribute so accompanied to the Frith of Forth; but it was found to possess medicinal virtues, and has consequently been confined to a reservoir surrounded by a little temple with projecting pillars. One would naturally expect to find in this rotunda, (called Bernard's Well,) the elegant statue of some romantic Naiad, calculated to excite reminiscences of the Lady of the Lake, or at least some Grecian Hebe, worthy of the modern Athens. But one is shocked at the sight of a coarsely-sculptured Colossus, which is intended to represent the Goddess Hygeia. Greater advantage might also have been taken of the site of Calton Hill, around which are traced winding paths, conducting to the pharos of Nelson. It is true that this hill awaits the designed embellishment of another monument, about to result from a national subscription: it is to be an exact counterpart of the Parthenon of Athens. From Calton Hill, let us re-descend towards Princes-street. Here we find the Register Office, cited as the chef d’aeuvre of Mr. Adams. This edifice, not otherwise deficient in merit, is disfigured by a flight of steps, the ingenious invention of \ which, however, is made a subject of eulogium. On arriving at the base of the façade, you must either turn to the right or to the left, in order to ascend the staircase leading to the entrance. The principal access has therefore been condemned, and I have never entered this public building otherwise than laterally; indeed it will not bear comparison with many plebeian residences which we pass unnoticed in Paris. Almost facing the Register-office is the theatre; and here it is that Edinburgh is obliged to submit to the humiliating epithet of provincial. In order to mark the poverty of this playhouse (the term house is here rigorously applicable) an effort has been made to dignify it with a portico; an effort, alas, which is quite in harmony with the rest of this temple of the dramatic muses. There is nothing, however, displeasing in the aspect of the interior; it may, indeed, be called tolerably pretty for a provincial theatre. The first time I entered it was for the purpose of hearing the grand musical contest of the bagpipe players. I had expressed to our consul, M. Hugo, a desire to be present at the spectacle, and I was compelled to employ all the importunity of my curiosity in order to resist his recommendations to have nothing to do with it. “Put no faith in ought that bears the name of music, while you are in Scotland,” he said; “you have not a fiddler in France who would not make a Rossini at Edinburgh. In my character of consul, it is my duty to protect the subjects of his most christian majesty against all delusive pretences. I was taken in on my first arrival, and all you have to do, is to profit by my experience. I was asked to a private concert; I suffered the infliction of several airs with exemplary patience. My host asked me if I were not enchanted. ‘Very much,' I replied, “but I like a little more variety; those mournful ditties shake my nerves.”—“What mournful ditties! they are nuptial airs.’ You may conceive how mortified I was, as well as my entertainer: I thought I was listening to funeral chaunts; as to bagpipes, they positively put me to the rack. You will return deaf from such a concert.” I nevertheless persisted, and attended the contest of pipers, leaving the philosopher and the consul to deplore the obstinacy of my curiosity.” During the first quarter of an hour, I thought the consul was in the right. But in order that the national pride of Scotland may estimate at its just value my judgment, I must preface that I am a complete barbarian with respect to music, and as incapable of analyzing the natural air which charms me, as the artificial air which astonishes me. I am indebted to music for vivid emotions; Paesiello, Cimarosa, Mozart, Rossini, &c. appear to me like demi-gods, when the orchestra of Louvois, or the notes of Mainville, are employed to interpret their inspirations: they move, they transport, they excite me; but I am not ashamed of smiling with pleasure, or weeping with emotion, when an artless air, sung by some village girl, chances to interrupt the silence of some bowery shade, where I wander as hazard leads. Sometimes, even when alone, at the fireside, with my pen in my hand, I suddenly break off a letter I am writing, or an author whom I am perusing, in order to listen to the notes of a spinnet under my window. Irepeat that I am a barbarian; nature has even refused me the boon of a correct accent, and if I attempt to hum a tune which has affected or pleased me, I am myself alarmed at the discord which escapes my lips. I, nevertheless, love music, and I might not inappositely compare myself, like some English poet whose name I forget, to a nightingale endowed in a superior manner with a musical instinct, but whom some cruel fowler has deprived of its tongue. The pit was full of the audience, who seemed to enjoy by anticipation, the earnest of an entirely national festival. The pipers, who bore a part in this ceremony, came from different quarters of the Highlands, all wearing the antique costume of their several clans. Each advanced in his turn on the stage, with a lofty air, which recalled to mind that the piper was formerly one of the
* The prejudices of the consul, who is otherwise a man of wit, but who appears to consider himself as in a state of exile in Edinburgh, have caused him to entertain a kind of spite against C. Nodier, who has depicted Royal Edina in such poetic colours. M. C. Nodier and his friends, said he, arrived here one Sunday morning. They had the misfortune to lose almost all their hats on the way; they had only one remaining among four. The observation of the Sabbath is so strict in Edinburgh, that they could not get any hatter to open shop till late in the day; and, in order to lose no time, each of the party, in his turn, wore the preserved hat, and took a solitary walk through the town.
Charles Nodier and Taylor have laughed heartily with me at this anecdote, which they admitted was not without some colour of truth.