By Bunge F.G.
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Whatever else, Glasgow was very much a site of the heavy-Â�industrial and commercial Victorian present. If the Edinburgh of the book you are reading is essentially inflected by its Enlightenment and Romantic cultural inheritance, then this volume’s Glasgow is a city crucially shaped by the Victorian British Empire. Edinburgh’s soubriquet “the Athens of the North,” first bestowed in 1762 but popularized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, also speaks of pastness. AÂ€place of antiquities, Edinburgh might have its own acropolis, its own partially completed replica of the Parthenon, monuments based on 27 · â•‡ preludeâ•‡ · smaller Athenian temples, and even, in its Art College, a fine collection of plaster casts of classical sculptures which, developed from the late eighÂ� teenth century onwards, remains splendid; yet Edinburgh was Athenian, too, in the sense that it had been surpassed by a more modern imperial metropolis.
Some Glaswegians still exhibit such zeal—and Edinburgh continues to respond with an amusedly superior silence. As the eighÂ�teenth century ended and the nineteenth began, the nature of each municipality and its self-Â�perception subtly altered, further emphasizing differences. The building of Edinburgh’s New Town reinforced the capÂ�ital’s sense of itself as Scotland’s metropolis; the speedy growth of Glasgow’s population (66,000 by 1791) made it one of the most rapidly expanding cities in Britain, adding to a pride in its own energy.
First of all, Glasgow’s merchants resolved that “manufacturing” depended on stable, affordable food prices. Secondly, That the method proposed at a meeting of some Landed Gentlemen, lately held at Edinburgh, as the standard for opening and shutting the ports, would tend to advance the price of grain in this and the neighbouring Western Counties. Thirdly, That it is well known the price of meal in Glasgow and its neighbourhood, is always higher than in the Lothians; and if the price of meal and grain in these counties is to be the standard for opening and shutting the ports in Scotland, this great manufacturing district, which, even in plentiful seasons, requires importation from other counties, can never expect to see the medium price of meal as low as it has heretofore been.