Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 56

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The university of Edinburgh is supplied with excellent professors in all the sciences; and the medical school, in particular, is famous all over Europe. — The students of this art have the best opportunity of learning it to perfection, in all its branches, as there are different courses for the theory of medicine and the practice of medicine; for anatomy, chemistry, botany, and the materia medica, over and above those of mathematics and experimental philosophy; and all these are given by men of distinguished talents. What renders this part of education still more complete, is the advantage of attending the infirmary, which is the best instituted charitable foundation that I ever knew. Now we are talking of charities, here are several hospitals, exceedingly well endowed, and maintained under admirable regulations; and these are not only useful, but ornamental to the city. Among these, I shall only mention the general work-house, in which all the poor, not otherwise provided for, are employed, according to their different abilities, with such judgment and effect, that they nearly maintain themselves by their labour, and there is not a beggar to be seen within the precincts of this metropolis. It was Glasgow that set the example of this establishment, about thirty years ago. — Even the kirk of Scotland, so long reproached with fanaticism and canting, abounds at present with ministers celebrated for their learning, and respectable for their moderation. — I have heard their sermons with equal astonishment and pleasure. — The good people of Edinburgh no longer think dirt and cobwebs essential to the house of God. — Some of their churches have admitted such ornaments as would have excited sedition, even in England, a little more than a century ago; and Psalmody is here practised and taught by a professor from the cathedral of Durham: — I should not be surprised, in a few years, to hear it accompanied with an organ.

Edinburgh is a hot-bed of genius. — I have had the good fortune to be made acquainted with many authors of the first distinction; such as the two Humes, Robertson, Smith, Wallace, Blair, Ferguson, Wilkie, &c. and I have found them all as agreeable in conversation as they are instructive and entertaining in their writings. These acquaintances I owe to the friendship of Dr Carlyle, who wants nothing but inclination to figure with the rest upon paper. The magistracy of Edinburgh is changed every year by election, and seems to be very well adapted both for state and authority. — The lord provost is equal in dignity to the lord mayor of London; and the four bailies are equivalent to the rank of aldermen. — There is a dean of guild, who takes cognizance of mercantile affairs; a treasurer; a town-clerk; and the council is composed of deacons, one of whom is returned every year, in rotation, as representative of every company of artificers or handicraftsmen. Though this city, from the nature of its situation, can never be made either very convenient or very cleanly, it has, nevertheless, an air of magnificence that commands respect. — The castle is an instance of the sublime in scite and architecture. — Its fortifications are kept in good order, and there is always in it a garrison of regular soldiers, which is relieved every year; but it is incapable of sustaining a siege carried on according to the modern operations of war. — The castle hill, which extends from the outward gate to the upper end of the high street, is used as a public walk for the citizens, and commands a prospect, equally extensive and delightful, over the county of Fife, on the other side of the Frith, and all along the sea-coast, which is covered with a succession of towns that would seem to indicate a considerable share of commerce; but, if the truth must be told, these towns have been falling to decay ever since the union, by which the Scots were in a great measure deprived of their trade with France. — The palace of Holyrood-house is a jewel in architecture, thrust into a hollow where it cannot be seen; a situation which was certainly not chosen by the ingenious architect, who must have been confined to the site of the old palace, which was a convent. Edinburgh is considerably extended on the south side, where there are divers little elegant squares built in the English manner; and the citizens have planned some improvements on the north, which, when put in execution, will add greatly to the beauty and convenience of this capital.