��32 THE P1A//.AS IN KI.dlN.
Much of its ancient prosperity has returned to it. If it cannot boast of being a court for the north, it is at all events a pleasant little market-town that shows no sign of decay. The covered ways which in many places ran on each side of the street have disap- peared. " Probably," writes Boswell, " it had piazzas all along the town, as I have seen at Bologna. I approved much of such structures in a town, on account of their conveniency in wet weather. Dr. Johnson disapproved of them, 'because,' said he, ' it makes the under story of a house very dark, which greatly overbalances the conveniency, when it is considered how small a part of the year it rains ; how few arc usually in the street at such times ; that many who are might as well be at home ; and the little that people suffer, supposing them to be as much wet as they com- monly are in walking a street." " They were a grand place for the boys to play at marbles," said an old man to me, who well remembered the past glories of Elgin and the delights of his youth, liven at the time of our travellers' visit, they were fre- quently broken by houses built in the modern fashion. In many cases they have not been destroyed, but converted into small shops. " There are," writes a local antiquary, " some fine old piazzas in the High Street which have been whitewashed over and hidden." He suggests that some of these might be restored to the light of day. 1 It would be a worthy deed for the citizens, even in one spot, to bring back the former appearance of their ancient town.
The noble ruins of the great cathedral Johnson examined with a most patient attention, though the rain was falling fast. " They afforded him another proof of the waste of reformation." His in- dignation was excited even more than by the ruins at St. Andrew's; for " the cathedral was not destroyed by the tumultuous violence of Knox, but suffered to dilapidate by deliberate robbery and frigid indifference." By an order of Council the lead had been stripped off the roof and shipped to be sold in Holland. " I hope," adds Johnson, "every reader will rejoice that this cargo of sacrilege was lost at sea." On this passage Horace Walpole remarks in a "letter to Lord Hailes : " I confess I have not quite so heinous an idea of sacrilege as Dr. Johnson. Of all kinds of robbery that appears to me the lightest species which injures nobody. Dr. Johnson is so pious, that in his journey to your country he flatters himself that
1 The Elgin Cottrant and Courier, Aug. 23, 1889.