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But now the moat of the Nor’ Loch was spanned, and on its farther shore building had begun according to the plans of the ingenious Mr Craig.

He had heard much of these plans that morning in Lucky Boyd’s hostelry—­of how a new Register House, with the Adam brothers as architects, and paid for out of the forfeited Jacobite estates, was designed to rise at the end of the new bridge.

Farther east, another crossing was in process of making, a bridge to carry a broad highway.

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The following abbreviations have been used:—­ I have given authority for most of my references, since Scott’s own writings and the books about him are bulky works, and the reader may be glad of finger-posts. The Nor’ Loch, his haunt on youthful holidays and the odorous grave of city refuse, had been drained, and its bed was now grass and shingle.

Across the hollow which once had held its waters a huge mound of earth had been thrown, giving access to the distant fields.

The Union of Parliaments in 1707 had been a blessing beyond doubt, but for a quarter of a century it had been a blessing well disguised.

The land and the people were grievously poor, and north of Forth the Highlands had to face the decadence of their ancient social and economic structure, and in the space of a man’s lifetime adjust themselves to the change from a mediæval to a modern world.

In truth she had given England small cause to love her.

The seventeenth century, with its invasion of England by a Scots army, the bartering of their king by that army for arrears of pay, and the attempt to impose the Presbyterian discipline upon all Britain, had left an ugly memory.

They strove without much success to acquire an English accent, and Mr Adam Smith was envied because Balliol had trimmed the roughness of his Fife tongue.

They cultivated a thing called rhetoric, which was supposed to be a canonical use of language freed from local vulgarities, and in the shabby old college Mr Hugh Blair lectured on that dismal science with much acceptance.

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.

It was the clearing-house of the Highlands, as Stagshawbank on the Tyne was the clearing-house of Scotland.

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