« PreviousContinue »
convulsions, and the mob showed symptoms of agitation, but were prevented from proceeding to extremities by the 88th regiment, which had been ordered from the castle.
I lately paid a visit to the Edinburgh bridewell. The building is semi-circular, which has the disadvantage of enabling the prisoners to see out of one cell into another, and thus gives the opportunity of improper and dangerous conversation. The rooms on the inside of the curve are filled with women condemned to labour. Prostitutes are the principal inmates of bridewell, who are so lodged at night, that they can converse freely together, without possibility of detection or prevention. During the day they spin, beat hemp, or weave, but they are not permitted to choose their trade. Their diet is of a very cooling nature, consisting chiefly of bread and broth; meat being only allowed them twice a week. If any of these frail ones prove refractory, they are deprived of their usual allowance, and are put on the antiphlogistic regimen.
The cells are so constructed that the keeper from his room see into every one.
1 thought of the Diable Boiteux, and of the whispering dungeons in ancient Sicily, under the iron sceptre of Dionysius.
The principal source of evil in this prison is its inadequacy in puint of size. There are in it only 52 working rooms, and 144 sleeping cells; but the culprits are sent in in such numbers, that the rooms are quite crammed with
hem! This gives rise to much evil communiration, “ which corrupts good manners,” and greatly impedes the system of labour, on the regularity of which the use of the establishment mainly depends.
If the Edinburgh bridewell be as dreadful a resort of misery and persecution, as that of London is described in various writings, it must be the most cruel of punishments to be immured within its walls. Miss Williams, (in Roderick Random,) draws a picture of the London bridewell, which “ harrows up the soul:” « Of all the scenes on earth, that of bridewell approaches nearest the notion I had always entertained of the infernal regions. Here I saw nothing but rage, anguish and impiety, and heard nothing but groans, curses and blasphemy. In the midst of this hellish crew, I was subjected to the tyranny of a barbarian, who imposed upon me tasks that I could not possibly perform, and then punished my incapacity with the utmost rigour and inhumanity. I was often whipped into a swoon, and lashed out of it, during which miserable intervals, I was robbed by my fellow-prisoners of every thing about me, even to my cap, shoes and stockings: I was not only destitute of necessaries, but even of food; so that
I believe that there are few cities that can vie with Edinburgh in romantic scenery, or in the beauty of its situation. Seen through the sombrous clouds which perpetually hang over
this most picturesque of cities, the rocks frowning over rocks, the gothic buildings all around, mountains near and far off, and the sea itself almost within hearing of its waves--present a striking idea of the comparative littleness of all human works: but when this magnificent scene is lighted up by the sun, the effect duced beggars all description. When the firmament is all one canopy of crystal blue, and full in the midst "the joyful king of day" spreads his golden rays upon the most magnificent scenery that ever did homage to his radiance, what can be finer than the face of nature at that moment, its majesty being dressed out in the most gorgeous apparel of magnificence! What lines of gold creep along the horizon! How the aerial buildings of the city paint their sombre breadth upon glowing azure of the sky!
In a quarter of an hour's walk from the superb Princes' street, you find yourself in some lonely valley or some secluded path, in which the view of the city is impeded by an eminence, or rocky mountain. Here the sentimental lover delights to muse, to indulge his fancy with golden hopes, or, accompanied by the object of his choice, to enjoy that sweet existence breathing in words of sensibility, which the tongue frames and the lip utters with delight.
The continual variations in the Scotch atmosphere, and the sharp winds which prevail, recal to mind, by a painful contrast, the de
ightful climate of the south of France. Inleed Scotland would afford every charm to the over of nature, if it were not cursed with a veeping climate, owing to the neighbourhood of lofty mountains, and a westerly situation -xposed to the vapours from the Atlantic. These misty exhalations are condensed, and dash down in torrents over the country; but the effect produced by the rays of the sun on shem is very magnificent,
“For, if they once triumphant spread Their wings above the mountain head, Become enthren’d in upper air,
And turn to sun-bright glories there." Here the weather is so uncertain, that I am often tempted by a fine appearance of the day, to go out without my umbrella, and, before I walk half a dozen squares, down comes the rain in torrents, and I get a very good soaking. I return home as wet as a rat, determining to profit by experience; I again sally out, armed with my parapluie-the rain ceases, the bright sun," the deepening azure and the lessening cloud” soon render my umbrella an incumbrance, and I am very glad to get home with it.
Last night (being New Year's Eve,) pre- . | sented a shocking picture of riot and debauchery. I had often heard of the scenes of midnight horror with which the first morning of the year is ushered in, and I determined, at all hazards, to gratify my curiosity, and witness this display of folly and extravagance
No sooner did the town clock strike 12, than a shout of universal acclamation" pierced the night's dull ear,” and, in a moment, all was hurry, tumult and confusion. The streets of Edinburgh were crowded to excess: drunkards, catins, profligate rakes, and amateurs of other people's watches, were met with in every direction. It is a custom, (one more honoured in the breach than the observance,”) with females, entirely to throw off reserve, during this beastly saturnalia, and to yield their lips to the rude embrace of all the nauseous vagabonds who meet them; and if the gentlemen by whom they are accompanied, make any resistance, they are soon convinced by knock-downable arguments: indeed, any lady who would venture out in such a night as this,” deserves to be kissed! All parties on passing each other paid mutually the compliments of the season. At the corners of the streets stood
of drunken fellows, with pitchers full of whiskey or gin, which they obliged every one who passed to drink, under penalty of a broken scull
, seasoned with a few damns!
After making my way through the hideous crew of night errants, and my arm almost dislocated by repeated shakes, I met a nymph of Venus Vulgivaga, who advanced to me with the familiarity of an old acquaintance, and solicited the compliment of the New Year; but her appearance was not very tempting, and I let her pass by me in sullen disappointment. As I advanced to my lodgings, I was sur