Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time
"Twenty years have passed since Daniel
Wilson published his most interesting and complete "Memorials of
Edinburgh in the Olden Time". Twice, twenty years ago Robert
Chambers collected the "Traditions" that still lingered in its ancient
streets; and so graphically related them, that the denizens of bygone
days seemed to live and move once more in their old abodes. The
one re-edified the ancient city, the other re-peopled it.
A decade of years in the
nineteenth century often produces as many changes as a century did
in former times; and probably in [an]other twenty years,
Edinburgh of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries will have
passed away entirely.
Already, very many of the
buildings referred to by these authors have gone -
some which were used as guides to assist in the search for others
have been removed, making the description of those that remain
somewhat obscure, and discovery often so difficult as to
necessitate resource to the advice of the Russian sign-post, "This
road leads to the town: all persons who cannot read this
might apply to the Blacksmith."
Many of those still in
existence are also threatened with destruction in the course of
contemplated city improvements; and each year now requires its own
guide-book, so quickly does the new appear and the old pass away.
To preserve a
slight record of some of these vestiges is the object of this
little book; which pretends to be nothing more than a few
Photographs of the most picturesque "bits" in the "auld towne"
that might be of interest to the antiquary or of use to the artist
- and which could be got within the camera's range.
While the draughtsman can
generally choose his own point of view, and may "humour" his
sketch. it must be remembered the photographer has not the same
license, but must "take" things as they are, and "nothing
Thus many objects which it
might have been desirable to include, have of necessity been
omitted here; and of others it may be said, that the point of view
from which they are taken was only considered the best -
Photography is seldom more
successful than in the representation of architectural subjects,
and the sun which for so many centuries looked down on the storied
streets of this old Capital, has in this nineteenth century been
discovered to be their truest limner."