ABSTRACT

’It is the center of the world. All else is change; this alone is stable.’ Thus did Alexander Smith describe Carmyle, a village in the Clyde valley, ‘where nothing has happened for the last fifty years, and where nothing will happen for fifty years to come’. 1 Though a description of a specific location, his words also express a prevalent nineteenth-century opinion about Scotland in general. In an era of rapid, continual, and sometimes unsettling change, Scotland – the Highlands in particular – seemed fixed, rooted, and constant. Indeed, tourist literature sometimes suggested that Scotland was immune to the passage of time. Scotland therefore provided a link with the past which seemed to be vanishing in the increasingly urbanized and industrialized modern world. That past, represented as available for touring, was one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions in the nineteenth century.