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The Union of Parliaments in 1707 had been a blessing beyond doubt, but for a quarter of a century it had been a blessing well disguised.

The land and the people were grievously poor, and north of Forth the Highlands had to face the decadence of their ancient social and economic structure, and in the space of a man’s lifetime adjust themselves to the change from a mediæval to a modern world.

It was the clearing-house of the Highlands, as Stagshawbank on the Tyne was the clearing-house of Scotland.

The drover from Glen Affric, herding his kyloes among the autumn bracken, could see from his bivouac a cloud of dark smoke on the banks of the Carron river, and hear by day and night the clang of hammers.

The following abbreviations have been used:—­ I have given authority for most of my references, since Scott’s own writings and the books about him are bulky works, and the reader may be glad of finger-posts. The Nor’ Loch, his haunt on youthful holidays and the odorous grave of city refuse, had been drained, and its bed was now grass and shingle.

Across the hollow which once had held its waters a huge mound of earth had been thrown, giving access to the distant fields.

The failure of Jacobitism flung Scotland back upon herself and forced her to work out her own salvation.

But that bitter task did not increase her love for her southern neighbour.

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There, within sight of the Highland Line, a quarter of a century after a Jacobite army had campaigned on that very ground, the coal and iron of the Scottish midlands were being used in a promising industry.

The London critics had spoken well of Mr David Hume’s works in history and philosophy, of Mr Robertson’s excursions in the former domain, of Mr Ferguson’s treatise on civil society, and of the poetry of Mr Beattie of Aberdeen, while visitors had reported the surpassing eloquence of Mr Hugh Blair of the High Kirk of St Giles’.

Our traveller, when he had access to these famous men, found that Edinburgh had indeed become a home of brilliant talk and genial company—­Edinburgh with her endless taverns where entertainment was cheap, since the Forth at the door gave her oysters, and sound claret was to be had at eighteen shillings a dozen.

Even Lady Louisa Stuart, with Scots blood in her veins, had little good to say of it; to cross the Border into Cumberland was for her to return to civilization and decency.

Nor was Scotland’s sense of inferiority likely to be soothed by the attitude of her neighbours.

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