The world does not revolve around Glasgow.
All merchants and wise men travel to the golden city, but the world does not revolve around Glasgow.
All priests and holy men, hermits and beggars, pilgrims and penitents, wander into the heavenly city, but the world does not revolve around Glasgow.
The nobles, respendent in their emerald-studded hats and silk brocades, with their platinum canes, get into their gilded coaches and, pulled by teams of milk-white horses, journey to the glittering city, where they gather and laugh at the plight of the poor, and turn up their noses, and catch fashionable diseases, which they bring home with them -- but the world does not revolve around Glasgow.
The Queen, in her highest dudgeon, with her court in tow, all her laides waiting, her chambermaids fretting, her children sniffling, her exchequer tutting, makes her way to the joyous city, but the world does not revolve around Glasgow.
All goods, all the tea, the cotton, the coffee, the paper, and all raw materials, woods from far lands and coal from the depths of the earth, come to the hearty, hardy city. And the world does not revolve around Glasgow.
All music, all sheets of violin concertos, symphonies, and chamber music, and all songs of work and play and love and death, combine into the cacaphony heard far away from the busy city, but the world does not revolve around Glasgow.
The astronomers claim that the sun and moon and stars revolve around the radiant city, but the world does not revolve around Glasgow.
The world revolves around me.
And I am leaving Glasgow.
I am tired of Glasgow. Of its heavens. The sun is weak, the moon is cold, and the stars are drowned by the glow of Glasgow's radiance.
I am annoyed by Glasgow. Of its music. When I was young, I could pretend that the music of the city was pleasing to my ears, but my ears are wearing old and my patience is wearing thin, and the cacaphony sounds like confusion, where once it sounded like prosperity.
I am bored with Glasgow. I have tasted its goods, and lost my taste for them. I have filled my waking hours with tasting the food of glasgow, sipping its tea, wearing its fashions. I hardly remember any of the food, now, except when I sit down to tea and judge the tea to be worse than when I was young. I used to set the fashions; now others set them, and expect me to conform, to spend my waning fortune on looking good for people I despise.
I am exasperated by the queen. She pretends she rules the land alone, despite all the work I have done here in Glasgow, and still do. She refuses even to thank me. Her children were once adorable. But they have not grown up, despite growing old, and they whine at me, when they do not mistake me for their nursemaid. I sigh when her odious court leaves my palace, but I do not sigh in wist, nor in regret.
I am furious with Glasgow. I journey into the streets at night and listen for revolutionary mutterings, for the grumblings of the middle class, and everyone I meet is either a coward or a criminal, everyone is ground under heel and they are too downtrodden to rise. They turn and feed upon each other to survive and the nobles live without consequence, without fear of revolt, or even reform. They will not heed me if I tell them to rise. They will say they want to continue living.
I am heartbroken by Glasgow. The priests and holy men turn their faces to God and never look down, never offer a word of comfort, look away in silence when one of their own preys on the pilgrims, but tear him to pieces if he utters a word of heresy. And when they give alms to the poor, oh, the sanctimony pours from their mouths, the condescension, as if escaping poverty was as simple a matter as turning to God. And they excommunicated me — of all people, me — long ago, and they shut their ears to my anger.
I am suspicious of Glasgow, and of its merchants. I read the city's accounts and I keep a close eye on the treasury, and there is less money in the public coffers than I expect for our volume of trade. There are vast homely houses the merchants build, great public works they invest in, and they flaunt their wealth, wealth that should be Glasgow's. It is not on the books. It will not come into the city's coffers. Together, the nobles and the merchants will see to that.
So I am leaving Glasgow. I am leaving its radiant spires, its glittering palaces, its towering churches; I am leaving its hardy people, its lofty nobles, and its fat merchants. I tried to make it work. How often I have tried to make it work,in Manhattan, in London, in Rome, in Saint Petersburg, in Delhi — I have tried to make a city whose prosperity would not ruin its holiness. But wealth and holiness, it seems, oppose each other, as do poverty and holiness, as do contentment and holiness. Perhaps the act of gathering persons into a powerful people, and setting such a people as rulers of the world, is antihetical to their being good and holy.
As a crushed people are so often unholy, for they must become ruthless and cruel, greedy and grasping, to survive. If I go to any of those places, and raise them to greatness, well, those places are already ruined, and they will not be made good by making them great.
So this is my revenge. I will leave Glasgow. The world will no longer flock to Glasgow. I will pack Glasgow's glory into my bag and sling it over my shoulder and be gone. I will wander far, in search of a lovely land with a promising people, and there I will settle, and the world will flock to that place, and I will start over.
And the world will continue to revolve around me.
And Glasgow will yearn for its golden age. But I will be gone, and I will not be back.