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MELROSE, AND ABBOTSFORD.
“ The monks of Melrose made fat kail
On Fridays, when they fasted,
As lang's their neebors' lasted.”
Soon after my arrival, I took a drive through some of this romantic neighborhood, rendered classic by the magic pen of Walter Scott. The ascent of Bemersyde Hill is exceedingly fine; the view of the river Tweed and its borders from this elevated posi. tion is worth coming miles to see, and is one of the most beautiful and interesting views in the South of Scotland.
The lands and barony of Bemersyde have been in the possession of the Haig family since the days of Malcolm IV. The following rhyme respecting this family is ascribed to Thomas the Rhymer :
“Tide, tide, what e'er betide
There'll aye be Haigs in Bemersyde.”
The venerable tower was built about seven hun.
dred years ago. It is still in a tolerably perfect state, and, with some modern additions, forms the present residence of the family. I ascended the old tower by a narrow spiral stair-case, with stone steps, to a high balcony, which commands a fine view of the surrounding country. From this I drove to Dryburgh Abbey, which is a fine old ruin, in which the mortal remains of Walter Scott
“Rest with the noble dead,
In Dryburgh's solemn pile,
Along the statued aisle.”
Not far from that of Scott is the tomb of Ralph Erskine, the author of " The Gospel Sonnets," and of his brother Ebenezer, both celebrated Scottish divines. The Abbey is situated in one of the most lovely spots that I ever saw. Surrounded by a fine orchard in full blossom and carpeted with green, the old ruin, overgrown with ivy and covered with moss, presents a most picturesque appearance. The Chapter House is quite perfect, and is arched over with stone. It contains a fine statue of Sir Isaac Newton. In the middle of this room, below the earthen floor, lie the remains of the founder and his wife. The kitchen is roofless. The library is entirely gone, and also the chapel, a fragment of the walls only being left. We were shown the cells in which the refractory monks were confined, under ground. There is an old stone font, now overgrown with moss, standing within the bounds of the chapel; also a stone coffin, which was dug up in the neighborhood. This Abbey was founded by Hugh de Moreville, lord of Lauderdale, 1150, during the reign of David I., on what was formerly the site of a Druidical temple. The ruin is for the most part in the Saxon style of architecture.
The following legend respecting Dryburgh is told by Sir Walter Scott, in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish border.
Soon after the rebellion in 1745, an unfortunate female wanderer took up her residence in a dark vault among the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, which, during the day, she never quitted. When night fell, she issued from this miserable habitation, and went to the house of the Halyburtons, of Newmains, or to that of the Erskines, of Shield field, two gentlemen of the neighborhood. From their charity she obtained such necessaries as she could
be prevailed on to accept. At twelve each night she lighted her candle, and returned to her vault, assuring her friendly neighbors that, during her absence, her habitation was arranged by a spirit, to whom she gave the uncouth name of Patlips ; describing him as a little man, wearing heavy iron shoes, with which he trampled the clay floor of the vault to dispel the damp. This circumstance caused her to be regarded with compassion, as deranged in her understanding, and, by the vulgar, with some degree of terror. The cause of her adopting this extraordinary mode of life she would never explain. It was, however, believed to have been occasioned by a vow, that, during the absence of a man to whom she was attached, she would not look upon the sun. Her lover never returned. He fell during the civil wars of 1745– 6, and she, faithful to her vow, spent the remainder of her life withdrawn from the light of day. The vault, or rather dungeon, in which this unfortunate woman lived and died, passes still by the name of the supernatural being with which its gloom was tenanted by her disturbed imagination.
From Dryburgh I rode to Melrose, fording the Tweed in the way, as the waters of that river were low, and as the road by the nearest bridge was nearly two miles further.
Leaving the conveyance at the inn, I directed my steps to the abbey. At the entrance I met the man who has charge of it, and who is familiar with all the quaint inscriptions, and with every part of the venerable ruin. This abbey, though not so beautifully situated, is much more extensive, and in a less decayed state, than that of Dry. burgh.
Near the present entrance are eight cells, in which persons were wont to confess, with stone fonts in each for holy water; they have since been used as places of sepulture.
Upon the walls and the monumental stones are some very singular inscriptions, such as “ Here lies an honorable man, Thomas Pringle, by faith in Christ, praise God, 1589.” And another, without date, though no doubt much older, “Pray for our brother Peter, the Treasurer.” In the middle of the church is the grave of Michael Scott, the wizard, mentioned in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto II.