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Edinburgh Under Sir Walter Scott

Edinburgh Under Sir Walter Scott

by W.T. Fyfe

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In the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth�from, approximately, the death of Samuel Johnson in 1784 to that of Walter Scott in 1832�Edinburgh, rather than London, was the intellectual centre of the kingdom. It would, of course, be easy to show that London has never lacked illustrious men of letters among her citizens, and, in this very period, the names of Sheridan, Bentham, Blake, Lamb, and Keats at once occur to memory as evidence against our thesis. It must also be admitted that Edinburgh shares some of her great names with London, and that many of the writers of the time are associated with neither capital. The name of William Cowper recalls the village of Olney; the English Lakes claim their great poets; and Byron and Shelley call to mind Greece and Italy, as, in the earlier part of our period, Gibbon is identified with Lausanne. But the Edinburgh society which Scott remembered in his youth or met in his prime included a long series of remarkable men. Some of them, like Robertson the historian; Hugh Blair; John Home, the author of Douglas; Henry Mackenzie, 'The Man of Feeling'; John Leyden; Dugald Stewart; and John Wilson, 'Christopher North,' were more or less permanent residents. Others, like Adam Smith, Thomas Campbell, Lady Nairne, Thomas De Quincey, Sir James Mackintosh, and Sydney Smith, spent a smaller portion of their lives in Edinburgh. Not only was the city full of great writers; it produced also a series of great publishers�the Constables and the Blackwoods. The influence of the Edinburgh Review can scarcely be realised in these days of numberless periodicals, and it was from Edinburgh that its great rival, the Quarterly, drew much of its early support, and one of its great editors, John Gibson Lockhart. Edinburgh, moreover, was still a national metropolis, for the railway systems had not yet brought about the real union of England and Scotland, and it possessed a society not less distinctively Scots than the Established Church or the code of law. The judges who administered that law add still further to the interest of the scene. Some were men of great intellectual force, whose names still live in the history of English thought. Lord Hailes, the antagonist of Gibbon, and Lord Monboddo, who, in some sense, anticipated a discovery of Mr. Darwin, lived on to the close of the eighteenth century, and, in the early nineteenth, their reputation was sustained by Lord Woodhouselee, Lord Jeffrey, and Lord Cockburn. Others of the judges were notable for force of character, like Lord Braxfield, now familiar as 'Weir of Hermiston,' or for mere eccentricity, like Lord Eskgrove, one of the strangest beings who ever added to the gaiety of mankind.

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940150253698
Publisher: Bronson Tweed Publishing
Publication date: 12/10/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 240 KB

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