Throughout visiting the cities of London and Edinburgh, it is obvious that they have vast differences. Today, London is much more a city of business and finance than Edinburgh is. This difference is one that dates back to the eighteenth century and before. In the eighteenth century, London was a city full of wealth and luxury whereas the quality of life in Edinburgh was pretty much entirely the opposite. However, these differences are seen because of the varying beliefs that the two cultures possess, one viewing luxury as a means to succeed and the other viewing luxury as unnecessary and possibly corrupt. In this way, London was able to be more advanced than Edinburgh was in some ways.
The London portion of The Expedition of Humphry Clinker began with a letter from Matt Bramble. In this letter the reader can see how much Bramble despises the modernization of the city of London. With the language he uses, the reader can see the negativity he has towards this change. He writes how the luxury of the city has ruined the country as he explains, “the tide of luxury has swept all the inhabitants from the open country” (87). He describes that farmers and lower class countrymen look towards the city for excitement and entertainment, working in the city and neglecting their farms. In this way, the country actually is in decline as the city grows and excels. However, Bramble does say that the city has turned into a place of “no distinction or subordination” (87) as countrymen infiltrate and become part of the city life. In a way they are all blind to the monotony of the daily city routine and business, simply following and copying others. Bramble finds this to be despicable and it has caused him to hate a city he once loved. This coincides with the way some of the foreign travelers in Saussure’s “Visitors to London.” These travelers seem surprised by how well the lower class people are accepted in London and as one traveler says “he treats him as his equal” (601). This proves Bramble’s point of no distinction between classes in London at the time.
Though luxury in London was viewed by some as a negative thing, drawing in lower-class individuals, it in fact helped London to surpass Edinburgh in many ways. In the Edinburgh portion of Humphry Clinker, the reader can see Lieutenant Lismahogo’s view on wealth clearly. However, it is easy to see throughout his description of the Scottish way of life that Scotland is much different in its prioritization of wealth, which is central to the English idea of luxury. In his discourse with Bramble and Melford’s uncle he is insulted by the idea of advancing in ranks simply because of wealth instead of by honor. Later on he states “poverty was a blessing to a nation” (210) indicating his appreciation for living without the English luxuries and instead depending on one’s self and living off the land. This view can be connected to “A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland” in the passage about the Highlanders where “the wealth of mountains is cattle” showing that wealth is measured by land, cattle, and treasures of the land.
Lieutenant Lismahogo also goes on to describe the complete disregard for English ideas of luxury as he describes the dress of a certain woman stating that “the simplicity of their manners, nor the commerce of their country, would admit of those articles of luxury which are deemed magnificence in Europe; and that they were too virtuous and sensible to encourage the introduction of any fashion which might help to render them corrupt and effeminate” (194-195). In a way the Scottish view English luxury as a mode to corruption and is simply unnatural.
In order to prove the differences between London and Edinburgh, it is necessary to compare the ideas from the texts to particular places that the class has visited in the two cities. First of all, Soane’s House is an example one of the more wealthy homes in London. Though this house cannot serve as an example of a common upper class, it does show that the idea of luxury is completely acceptable in the London culture. Soane obviously was a very wealthy man who could afford to purchase countless artifacts as a sort of treasure. In this way, he is proving that having wealth enables a man to have these luxuries that cannot be seen in homes throughout Edinburgh. Soane possessed a very extensive collection from the room of paintings that seemed endless with the way they were displayed to the ancient stones and sculptures that lined his walls. Some may call Soane the ultimate hoarder; however, he simply demonstrates how luxurious London life can be as he develops an extensive collection in his home.
Moving on to the city of Edinburgh, the class visited Gladstone’s Land. This house was definitely a stark contrast to Soane’s House seen in London. In Gladstone’s Land, one can see how someone living there is much more limited by the size of the house, the economy, and the culture as well. Where Soane had the ability to afford such luxuries in England, the residents of Gladstone’s Land did not have the same opportunity. Though this was a more wealthy home of Edinburgh, it pales in comparison to Soane’s House. It can be seen that it was a more wealthy Edinburgh home because the flat was higher than ground level which proved the wealth of the inhabitants. Also, the painted ceilings showed that the family was able to travel because of the obscure fruits detailed on the ceiling. Most people in Edinburgh would have no idea what a pineapple is, but yet it was painted on the ceiling leading one to believe that the inhabitant of Gladstone’s Land saw it with his own eyes. Though the family was possibly wealthy, they were still confined to one level of the building, whereas Soane had access to an entire house. The inhabitants of Gladstone’s Land only had three rooms in which to conduct their lives. However, this way of living was entirely normal to the people of Edinburgh, which goes to prove their lack of desire or want for luxuries.
Throughout observing both of these great cities, it is obvious how accepting luxuries of London was very beneficial in developing this city. On the other hand, Edinburgh did not have access to these luxuries and obviously struggled as a city throughout the eighteenth century. As a tourist signs of this difference can be seen today as well. In visiting Soane’s House and Gladstone’s Land, it was interesting to compare these two dwellings, one obviously taken over by the results of London luxury and the other simply existing blindly in every day routine.