Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 52

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There was, however, another consideration that gave Mrs Tabitha some disturbance. At Newcastle, the servants had been informed by some wag, that there was nothing to eat in Scotland, but oat-meal and sheep's-heads; and lieutenant Lismahago being consulted, what he said served rather to confirm than to refute the report. Our aunt being apprised of this circumstance, very gravely advised her brother to provide a sumpter horse with store of hams, tongues, bread, biscuit, and other articles for our subsistence, in the course of our peregrination, and Mr Bramble as gravely replied, that he would take the hint into consideration: but, finding no such provision was made, she now revived the proposal, observing that there was a tolerable market at Berwick, where we might be supplied; and that my man's horse would serve as a beast of burthen — The 'squire, shrugging his shoulders, eyed her askance with a look of ineffable contempt: and, after some pause, 'Sister (said he), I can hardly persuade myself you are serious.' She was so little acquainted with the geography of the island, that she imagined we could not go to Scotland but by sea; and, after we had passed through the town of Berwick, when he told her we were upon Scottish ground, she could hardly believe the assertion — If the truth must be told, the South Britons in general are woefully ignorant in this particular. What, between want of curiosity, and traditional sarcasms, the effect of ancient animosity, the people at the other end of the island know as little of Scotland as of Japan.

If I had never been in Wales, I should have been more struck with the manifest difference in appearance betwixt the peasants and commonalty on different sides of the Tweed. The boors of Northumberland are lusty fellows, fresh complexioned, cleanly, and well cloathed; but the labourers in Scotland are generally lank, lean, hard-featured, sallow, soiled, and shabby, and their little pinched blue caps have a beggarly effect. The cattle are much in the same stile with their drivers, meagre, stunted, and ill equipt. When I talked to my uncle on this subject, he said, 'Though all the Scottish hinds would not bear to be compared with those of the rich counties of South Britain, they would stand very well in competition with the peasants of France, Italy, and Savoy — not to mention the mountaineers of Wales, and the red-shanks of Ireland.'

We entered Scotland by a frightful moor of sixteen miles, which promises very little for the interior parts of the kingdom; but the prospect mended as we advanced. Passing through Dunbar, which is a neat little town, situated on the sea-side, we lay at a country inn, where our entertainment far exceeded our expectation; but for this we cannot give the Scots credit, as the landlord is a native of England. Yesterday we dined at Haddington, which has been a place of some consideration, but is now gone to decay; and in the evening arrived at this metropolis, of which I can say very little. It is very romantic, from its situation on the declivity of a hill, having a fortified castle at the top, and a royal palace at the bottom. The first thing that strikes the nose of a stranger, shall be nameless; but what first strikes the eye, is the unconscionable height of the houses, which generally rise to five, six, seven, and eight stories, and, in some places (as I am assured), to twelve. This manner of building, attended with numberless inconveniences, must have been originally owing to want of room. Certain it is, the town seems to be full of people: but their looks, their language, and their customs, are so different from ours, that I can hardly believe myself in Great-Britain.

The inn at which we put up (if it may be so called) was so filthy and disagreeable in all respects, that my uncle began to fret, and his gouty symptoms to recur — Recollecting, however, that he had a letter of recommendation to one Mr Mitchelson, a lawyer, he sent it by his servant, with a compliment, importing that we would wait upon him next day in person; but that gentleman visited us immediately, and insisted upon our going to his own house, until he could provide lodgings for our accommodation. We gladly accepted, of his invitation, and repaired to his house, where we were treated with equal elegance and hospitality, to the utter confusion of our aunt, whose prejudices, though beginning to give way, were not yet entirely removed. To-day, by the assistance of our friend, we are settled in convenient lodgings, up four pair of stairs, in the High-street, the fourth story being, in this city, reckoned more genteel than the first. The air is, in all probability, the better; but it requires good lungs to breathe it at this distance above the surface of the earth. — While I do remain above it, whether higher or lower, provided I breathe at all,

I shall ever be,
Dear Phillips, yours,
J. MELFORD
July 18.