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Cannon were being made for many nations, and the Carron pipes and sugar-boilers and fire-grates were soon to be famous throughout the land.The Highland drover, already perplexed by the intrusion of Lowland sheep on his hills and the cutting of his native woods by English companies, saw in the flame and smoke of the ironworks a final proof that his ancient world was crumbling.The London critics had spoken well of Mr David Hume’s works in history and philosophy, of Mr Robertson’s excursions in the former domain, of Mr Ferguson’s treatise on civil society, and of the poetry of Mr Beattie of Aberdeen, while visitors had reported the surpassing eloquence of Mr Hugh Blair of the High Kirk of St Giles’.Our traveller, when he had access to these famous men, found that Edinburgh had indeed become a home of brilliant talk and genial company—­Edinburgh with her endless taverns where entertainment was cheap, since the Forth at the door gave her oysters, and sound claret was to be had at eighteen shillings a dozen.Farther east, another crossing was in process of making, a bridge to carry a broad highway.Before he had left home the Canongate had burst its bonds into New Street and St John Street, and he noted that the city had spilled itself farther southward beyond the South Bridge of the Cowgate into new streets and squares.Another sight of some significance was to be had in the same year at the same season.

It is a book which I was bound one day or other to write, for I have had the fortune to be born and bred under the shadow of that great tradition. If, on the morning after his arrival at the White Horse Inn in the Canongate, he had ascended to the high places of the Castle hill, and looked north and east, he would have missed one familiar landmark.There was a third portent, the most pregnant of all, which our returned exile, if he were a man of some education, had a chance of noting.He had heard with pleasure during his absence a rumour of good literature coming from the north.She was conscious of being poverty-stricken and backward, a mere northern appanage which England had once seen fit to conciliate, and, the Union accomplished, could now neglect.A friendly visitor like Pennant might find something to patronize and praise, but the common traveller’s tale was only of a bleak land, vile weather, bad inns, bad roads, dirty farms and shabby stone towns.