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Title: In the Border Country

Author: W. S. (William Shillinglaw) Crockett

Release Date: March 17, 2010 [eBook #31678]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Juliet Sutherland, Peter Vickers,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team







Edited by W. Shaw Sparrow

THE ART AND LIFE LIBRARY. 1. "The British Home of To-Day" (out of print). 2. "The Gospels in Art." 3. "Women Painters of the World." 4. "The Old Testament in Art," Vol. I. 5. "The Modern Home" (out of print). 6. "The Old Testament in Art," Vol. II. 7. "The Apostles in Art."

HISTORY, TRAVEL, RUSTIC LIFE. 1. "Mary Queen of Scots," with 26 Pictures in Colour by Sir James Linton, R.I., and James Orrock, R.I.; the text by Walter Wood. 2. "In The Border Country," with 25 Pictures in Colour by James Orrock, R.I., and Historical Notes by W. S. Crockett. 3. "In Rustic England," with 25 Pictures in Colour by Birket Foster; the text by A. B. Daryll.

THE ART AND LIFE MONOGRAPHS. 1. "Etchings by Van Dyck," in Rembrandt Photogravure the full size of the Original Proofs. Also an Édition de Luxe with Carbon Print Photographs of all the Etchings; the text by Prof. Dr. H. W. Singer. 2. "Ingres—Master of Pure Draughtsmanship." Twenty-four Rembrandt Photogravures of important Drawings and Pictures; the introductions by Arsène Alexandre and W. Shaw Sparrow.

ARTISTS OF THE PRESENT DAY. I. "Frank Brangwyn, A.R.A." the introductions by Léonce Bénédite and W. Shaw Sparrow. 2. "Lucy E. Kemp-Welch," the introductions by Professor Hubert von Herkomer and Edward F. Strange.

SERIES OF BIBLE PICTURES. "The Saviour in Modern Art."

London: Hodder & Stoughton





In The Border Country


[Pg 7]


Most of us prefer to spend our holiday tours away from our own country. There is a feeling of mild adventure when the land we behold is unknown to us, and when the language we hear filters into our questioning minds through an interpreter's suavity and chatter. And if we go to Switzerland we may earn even a reputation for intrepid pluck among the friends who listen to us on our return home, while the unlucky guides, who found for our trembling feet a pathway around each danger, will amuse their families during the winter with little tales at our expense, told with rough satire and with short, gruff peals of laughter resembling the noise of a crackling ice-sheet when it begins to slip downhill.

No doubt, heroism on the hillside has a vast attraction to brave, fearless hearts like our own; but we should find, here in our own country, quite as much adventure as is good for us, and quite as much novelty also, if only we could bring ourselves to believe that knowledge of native scenes and traditions does not come to us in baptism or by virtue of our birth as British folk. If you ask a friend whether he knows the Border Country, he will probably answer yes, and then go on to say that he when a lad at school was a great reader of Scott, and thank heaven! his memory is a good one. Push the matter further, ask whether he has verified the truth of Scott's descriptions by a visit to the places described, and you will probably hear that your friend would rather dream of the [Pg 8]North Pole or be bitten fiercely by the swarms of lively insects treasured throughout Brittany in every cottage and hotel.

All this being somewhat commonplace, you may wish to get closer to this subject, and your friend at last, driven to bay, comes to the real point that pricks and distresses him. "You see," he will say, "a holiday tour at home is such a dickens of a gamble. You can't say how much it will cost. The only thing at all certain about it is that the cost will be more than you can afford. Wherever you go you become a goose to be plucked."

Let us rebel against this iniquity! It is not a question of cheating, it is a trait of the national character. In Great Britain, as among the Americans, the gift of long sight in business has become very common, and few persons think it worth their while to see the practical good things within easy reach of the blessed short sight of common sense. Our chief aim is not to keep a market open and steady, but to glut it with over-production or to block it with excessive prices. "Here is a holiday-tripper, so let us make him pay!" That seems to be the unconquerable maxim at all seaside resorts and in every place where tired workers seek rest and health. I have known a week's holiday in the New Forest to cost as much as a tour of three weeks in the beautiful and bracing Ardennes. The Belgian is content to draw his customers back to him, while the Englishman grasps all he can get and sends us away discontented.

It is true that the railway companies are doing all in their power to make holidays at home welcome and inexpensive. Their enterprise in this respect [Pg 9]has no limits. But we cannot live on cheap railway tickets alone, whether single or return. Something should be done—and the newspapers could help—to establish in all attractive districts a reasonable tariff for board and lodging. It is only thus that Great Britain will be made popular during the holiday season, and that the great stream of gold—the holiday-making Pactolus—will be drawn from the Continent to nourish our own country sides and rural folk.

It seems to be certain that, during the reign of the old stage coach, life in rustic England was cheaper than it is to-day. At any rate we must account in some way or other for the immense number of county histories and illustrated topographical books which teemed from the press from the middle of the eighteenth century to the time of J. M. W. Turner. To study these works is to be sure that our forefathers took the greatest delight in their own country, and that huge sums of money were spent in procuring fine sketches and adequate engravings. Side by side with these books on British topography were volumes on foreign travel, like those by William Alexander, who in 1792 accompanied Lord Macartney's embassy to China, where he made many exquisite sketches, brimful of humour and playful observation. John Webber, R.A., in 1776, accompanied Captain Cook on his third and last voyage, and made a drawing of Cook's death, which Byrne and Bartolozzi engraved. Two other Royal Academicians, Thomas and William Daniell, made India their sketching-ground, and in their great work on "Oriental Scenery," published in 1808, they devoted [Pg 10]six volumes to a subject as fascinating as it was unhackneyed. Many other artists, too, travelled and made sketches for books, ranging from Girtin's Paris Views to Turner's "Rivers of France," and from Sir David Wilkie's Eastern sketches, reproduced in lithography by Nash, to the familiar work of Prout, Harding, J. F. Lewis, R.A., and Louis Haghe.

But these books on foreign travel, admirable as they were, did not eclipse the many volumes on British scenery and landscape antiquities. All the ablest men among the earlier water-colour painters—Hearne, Malton, Dayes, Girtin, Turner, Francia, Havell, De Wint, David Cox, Cotman—made topographical sketches for illustrations, and lucky is he who "finds" their earliest efforts. To-day, happily, there are signs of renewed life in the old taste for picture books on the beauty and romance of our own country. It is a taste that invigorates, storing the mind with tonic memories and filling the eyes with beautiful scenes and colours; and we may be sure that it needs for its gratification books which are easy to carry and to read. The great folio of other days, as heavy almost as a country squire, is rightly treasured in the British Museum, like the remains of the Neolithic Man discovered in Egypt.

The subject of the present book—the Border Country—should set us thinking, not of one holiday, but of many; and he who has once tasted the Border's keen rich air will long to return both to it and to the traditions that dwell among the vast landscapes and in the ruined castles. The distinguished connoisseur and painter whose sketches are here reproduced, has gone back to the Border Country a [Pg 11]dozen times and more, always to find there a renewal of his first pleasure and a host of fresh subjects, that form a delightful connecting-link between each to-day and the armoured epochs of the long ago.

And if the Border Country, with its enchanted places and memories, delights a landscape-painter, it is equally attractive to students of architecture, to lovers of folk-lore and literary history, to writers of romance in search of traditions and local colour, and to those of us also who indulge a passion for collecting either as botanists or as geologists. The rivers and streams have a rare fascination, and anglers, having made their choice, can come by all the sport which they desire. As to the hills, they have a certain modesty of height deceptive to the unwary, for although they have not won for themselves a reputation for fatalities to be described as Alpine, they are yet so dangerous when a mist gathers about them and thickens, that a climber may lose his life there quite comfortably, and without enjoying more than the customary amount of rashness or inexperience. Briefly, men may find in the Border Country nearly all their hobbies, and nearly all their professional studies.

In this book the historical notes are written by one who lives by the Tweed, and whose name is associated with Border subjects. Mr. Crockett's work is filled with the Past, while the outdoor sketches by Mr. Orrock are at once so faithful topographically, and so much in sympathy with the classic traditions of English Water-Colour, that they show us what the Border Country is to-day, when seen through the medium of a painter's observation and knowledge.

[Pg 12]


Title Page. By David Veazey 3
Dedication Page 5
Preface. By Walter Shaw Sparrow 7
Contents 12


I. Introduction 17
The Making of the Border 23
The Christianizing of the Border 26
Border Warfare 36
II. The English Border: Northumberland 44
"Merrie Carlisle" 60
III. The Tweed and Its Associations 75
IV. "Pleasant Teviotdale" 94
V. In the Ballad Country 105
VI. The Leader Valley 117
VII. Liddesdale 124

[Pg 13]


View of Dunstanborough Title page
Plate 2
Crag Loch and the Roman Wall 24
Plate 3
Bamborough from Stag Rock 32
Plate 4
Holy Island Castle: Harvest Time 36
Plate 5
View of Norham Castle 40
Plate 6
Twizel Bridge of the XIV. Century 44
Plate 7
Flodden Field and the Cheviot Hills 48
Plate 8
View of Warkworth 52
Plate 9
View of Alnwick Castle 56
Plate 10
View of Prudhoe-on-Tyne 60
Plate 11
View of Carlisle 64
Plate 12
View of Naworth Castle 68
Plate 13
View of Lanercost Priory 72
Plate 14
View of Bewcastle 76
Plate 15
View of Melrose 80
Plate 16
Melrose and the Eildons from Bemersyde Hill: Scott's favourite View 84
Plate 17
Dryburgh Abbey and Scott's Tomb 88
Plate 18
The Remnant of Wark Castle 92
Plate 19
Berwick-on-Tweed 96
Plate 20
Hollows Tower (sometimes called Gilnockie Tower) 100
Plate 21
Goldilands, near Hawick 104
Plate 22
"He passed where Newark's stately tower Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower" 112
Plate 23
View of New Abbey and Criffel 116
Plate 24
Criffel and Loch Kindar 120
Plate 25
Caerlaverock Castle 124

[Pg 17]


From Berwick to the Solway as the crow flies is little more than seventy miles. Between these two points lies the line that divides England from Scotland. But to follow this line literally along its every little in and out means a distance of no fewer than forty good miles more. Stretching diagonally across the country—north-east or south-west—we have the river Tweed as eastmost boundary for a considerable space—close on twenty miles; then comes the lofty barrier of the Cheviots extending to thirty odd miles, constituting the middle portion of the Border line; and finally, the Kershope Burn, with the Liddel and Esk Waters, and the small stream of the Sark, make up the westmost division, another twenty miles, at least. But to follow the Border on foot, by every bend of Tweedside, and over every nick and nook of the Cheviots, and the remaining water-marches, means, as has been indicated, a walk of not less than one hundred and ten miles. Almost everywhere in the land portion of the Border line—the Cheviots generally—the boundary is such that one may stand with one foot in England and the other in Scotland, and the rather curious fact will be noted, says one who has made this Border pilgrimage par excellence, that Scotland nowhere receives a single rivulet from England, whilst she sends to England tiny head-streams of the Coquet and Tyne only. The delimitation is thus a quite natural and scientific one, coinciding pretty closely to the water-parting of the two countries. Upon either side of this line of demarcation stretches the Border Country,[Pg 18] famous in war and verse the whole world over—Northumberland and Cumberland to the south-east on English soil, and to the north-west, Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, with part of Dumfriesshire, the distinctively Border counties on the Scottish side. A wider radius, however, has been given to the Scottish Border from a very early period. Old Scots Acts of Parliament, applying to the Border district, embrace the counties of Peebles and Selkirk within the term, though these nowhere touch the frontier line, and portions of Lanarkshire and the Lothians have been also included. But on the face of it, these latter lie entirely outside the true Border limit. A line drawn on the map from Coquetmouth to "Merrie Carlisle," thence to the town of Dumfries, and again, almost due north, to Tweedsmuir (the source of the Tweed) in Peeblesshire, and to Peebles itself, and from Peebles eastward by the Moorfoots and Lammermoors to the German Ocean at St. Abbs, will give us for all practical purposes what may be regarded as the Border Country in its widest signification, geographical and historical.

There is, of course, a narrower sense in which the phrase, the Border Country, is used—the literary. That, however, applies almost entirely to the Scottish side, for neither of the English Border counties owns a tithe of the associations in literature and romance that belong to those beyond the Tweed. The extraordinary glamour which has been cast over the Tweed and its tributaries by the writings of Sir Walter Scott, the Ettrick Shepherd, John Leyden, and others, has given a prominence to the Scottish side which is nowhere[Pg 19] shared by its southern neighbour. But to say so is no disparagement to the English side. For what it lacks in literature it makes up in other admirable characteristics. Both Borders are rich in historical memories. Their natural features are not dissimilar, and in commercial prosperity they are much akin. In union they have long been happily wedded.

The Border Country is a region of streams and hills which hardly rise to the dignity of rivers and mountains. Unlike the Clyde, the Tweed has no broad estuary laden with the commerce of the world. And the highest summits, Broad Law (2754 feet) in Scotland, and the great Cheviot (2676 feet) in England, have nothing in common with the rugged Highland peaks except their height. Both, it has been said, are monuments of denudation only, "lofty because they have suffered less wear than their neighbours."

It is difficult to imagine all this attractive Border Country as at one period a vast ocean-bed, over which waves lashed in furious foam, and sea-birds shrieked and flew amid the war of waters. Yet geology assures us such was its condition ages ago. By-and-by, it became a great rolling plain or table-land, and in age after age—how many and how long it were vain to speculate—there was carried on that stupendous process by which those fair green hills and glens have been so marvellously scooped out, and moulded and rounded into the objects of beauty that we see about us now. In the great glacier movements, in the working of the ice-sheets, and under the influences of frost, beating rain, and a constant water-flow operating through a countless series of years, we have[Pg 20] the scientific explanation of their present benign and comfortable-looking appearance. The Border hills are of a purely pastoral type, grass-grown from base to summit, and usually easy of ascent. Here and there one meets with a distinctly Highland picture—in the deep dark glens down Moffatdale, for instance, but in the main they exhibit "the sonsie, good-humoured, buirdly look," for which Dr. "Rab" Brown expressed the liveliest predilection. Once at the curiously plateau-like summit of Broadlaw (out-topped in Southern Scotland by the Galloway Merrick only) or Hart Fell (2651 feet), or the Cheviot, the feeling amounts to a kind of awe even. Scott speaks of the silence of noonday on the top of Minchmoor, and the acute sense of human littleness one always feels amidst the "mountain infinities." "I assure you," he says, "I have felt really oppressed with a sort of fearful loneliness when looking around these naked towering ridges of desolate barrenness." The picture seen from such a height is both an inspiring and a humbling one. Beneath, it is a veritable earth-ocean that we are gazing upon. On all sides an innumerable series of what look like huge elephant-backed ranges are seen to be chasing each other like waves of the sea, as it were, ridge after ridge, rising, flowing, falling, and passing into the one beyond it, as far as the eye can reach. Enclosed between each we know are the rushing hill-burns and broader streams by which the Border country is everywhere so much blessed and beautified. At such a height we are entirely outside the human touches—altogether alone with Nature at her simplest and solemnest. The cry of a startled sheep[Pg 21] and the summer hum of insects on the hill-top—

"That undefined and mingled hum,
Voice of the desert, never dumb"—

are the only indications of life where all trace and feeling of man and his work have disappeared. Occasionally we shall meet by chance with the shepherd, maybe, who has his dwelling far down among the "hopes"—the cul-de-sacs of the uplands. Amongst those hills he lives and moves and has his being. All sorts of weather-conditions find him at his work. He never thinks of the loneliness, and the winter storms have not the terrors for him as for his predecessors. In some respects his life is an ideal one, and his class has a goodly record for intelligence and fine physique. The best specimens, indeed, of the country's manhood are drawn from the agricultural labouring classes—the "herds" and "hinds" who make up the bulk of the population in the purely rural districts. For agriculture, it need scarcely be said, is the staple business of both Borders. The Tweed industry, to be sure, affords employment to thousands, but on the Borders, as elsewhere, the land is the crucial problem. Within recent years many of the rural parishes have been woefully depleted, and until the land question is fairly tackled there seems small hope for a fresh and brighter chapter in the domestic history of the Border Country.

A hundred years have transformed the face of the Border Country in a marked manner. The development of agriculture, and the growth of the tree-planting spirit, which began to bestir itself about the beginning of last century, have given to the Border its modern picturesqueness and its[Pg 22] look of prosperity. Sir Walter Scott himself may be said to be the father of arboriculture in the South of Scotland. In the creation of Abbotsford, forestry was his main out-of-doors hobby, and the example set by one who had studied the subject thoroughly, and who discoursed pleasantly upon it, was quickly followed by all the neighbouring lairds and many others besides. Not that the country was altogether treeless before Scott's day. Here and there "ancestral oaks" clumped themselves about the great castles and mansions, with perhaps some further attempt at embellishment. But that was rare enough. It needed a man like Scott to popularize the notion, and to take the lead in an undertaking fraught, as this age well sees, with results so beneficent. We do not forget, of course, that in earlier historic times practically the whole of the Border Country was covered with wood. Its inhabitants, whose very names—Gadeni and Ottadini—signified "dwellers in the wood," were found by the Romans in their dense forests, and the first settlements were only possible through clearances of growing timber. Across the country, from Cadzow, in Renfrewshire, to the Ettrick, there stretched the vast Wood of Caledon (whence Caledonia), known at a later period as the Forest of Ettrick, or simply as the Forest (e.g., the "Flowers of the Forest"). There is no doubt that it was largely a forest in the ordinary acceptation, and not a mere deer-forest use of the term. Over and over again we have the various charters, as to the Abbeys, for instance, authorising the monks to cut down for building purposes and fuel oaks "from the forest," both in[Pg 23] Selkirk and in Melrose, in Kelso and the Ettrick. The original religious house of Melrose was entirely of oak. So were the first churches founded by Kentigern and Cuthbert, and those even of a later date. The Forest of Ettrick survived to the time of the Stuarts, who had here their favourite hunting expeditions, James V. and Queen Mary especially being frequent visitors to the Borderland. The Forest of Megget, or Rodono (a sub-division of that of Ettrick), yielded on one occasion no fewer than five hundred head of game, bird and beast of the chase, and at another time eighteen score of red deer. In the reign of Mary there was issued a proclamation limiting and prohibiting the slaughter of deer in the Forest on account of their growing scarcity. And by the time of James VI. the hunting possibilities of the Border were at an end.

More than anything else, the laying down of the great railway lines and the immense road improvements of last century have opened up practically every corner of the Border Country. There are now no places so utterly inaccessible as Liddesdale was during Scott's visits. It is possible to reach the most out-of-the-way parts with comparative comfort. And with the dawn of the motor age, still greater hopes and possibilities appear in store.





(See pp. 24 , 44 , 45 , 71 , 73 )



It is from the Roman historian Tacitus that the light of history falls for the first time on the Border Country. It is a mere glimpse, however. But it is enough to show us the calibre of the men[Pg 24] who held its forests and fastnesses at that remote period. They were the Brigantes, a branch probably of the Celts, who were the first to reach Britain, coming from the common home-land of the Ayrian race somewhere in Central Asia. Their kingdom, Brigantia, embraced all the country between the Mersey and Humber and the Links of Forth. They are spoken of as a strong, courageous and warlike people, able for many years to keep the Roman cohorts at bay and to check the northward progress of the invaders. The Roman Conquest of Britain, as is well known, was begun by Julius Caesar as far back as B.C. 55. It was not, however, till the time of Julius Agricola (A.D. 78-84) that the Romans obtained a firm footing on the island. Agricola's generalship was more than a match for the sturdy Brigantes. He carried the Roman eagles to the Forth and Clyde, fixing his main line of defence and his northmost frontier on the isthmus between these two firths. But about A.D. 120, when the Emperor Hadrian visited Britain, his chief work was the delimitation of the Roman territory by the great stone wall still bearing his name, stretching from the Tyne to the Solway, a distance of 73½ miles. Twenty years later, however, Lollius Urbicus, the Emperor's lieutenant in Britain, appears to have revived and restored Agricola's boundary, so that what we now know as the Border Country, for more than three hundred years (A.D. 78-410), formed a part of the mightiest empire of the ancient world. Hadrian's rampart, the great camps at Cappuck, near Jedburgh, at Lyne in Peeblesshire, and Newstead at the base of the Eildons—the undoubted Roman Trimontium[Pg 25]—with the roads known as Watling Street and the Wheel Causeway are the chief memorials of a singularly historic Occupation. Following the withdrawal of the Roman legions the district became the arena of constant warfare between Picts and Scots and Britons, until the sixth century, when it appears again in history as a kingdom of the Saxon Heptarchy under the name of Bernicia, and occupied by a colony of Angles and Saxons from the Low Countries of the Continent, the progenitors of the English-speaking race. Ida the Good governed Bernicia, having for his capital the proud rock-fortress of Bibbanburgh (so named from his queen Bibba), the modern Bamborough. In the following century Bernicia was combined with Deira, its southern neighbour (corresponding to Yorkshire) to form the powerful kingdom of Northumbria, extending, as Brigantia had done, from the Humber to the Forth. For the next three or four hundred years the story of the Border was little more than a wild record of lawlessness and bloodshed. It had grown to be a kind of happy hunting-ground for every hostile tribe within fighting distance, and for some even who were drawn from long distances, like the Danes, the latest of the invading hordes. But there is nothing of importance to narrate at this period. From a monarchy, Northumbria fell to the level of an Earldom in 954, and in 1018, the Scots, consolidated to some extent under Malcolm II., crushed the Angles of Northumbria in a great victory at Carham-on-Tweed (near Coldstream), of which the result was the cession to Scotland of the district known as Lothian—the land lying between the Tweed and Forth. Thus at the dawn[Pg 26] of the 11th century we have the Tweed constituting the virtual boundary between the two countries. Cumberland, to be sure, was for a time Scots territory, but this the intrepid Rufus wrested back in 1092. So that by the close of that century the Border line appears to have taken the quite natural course of delimitation—the Tweed, the Cheviots, and the Solway, though it was not till as late as 1222 that a commission of both countries was appointed to adjust the final demarcation.


It would be interesting to know precisely when and how the light of the Christian faith first penetrated the Border Country, but neither the time nor the manner can be ascertained with certainty. Indeed, it is impossible to say who were the real pioneers of the Gospel within the realm itself. The probability is that in the first instance it was the beneficent work of the Romans in whose legions were to be found many sincere Christians, many faithful soldiers of the Cross. From the "saints of Cæsar's household"—not a mere picturesque dream—mayhap the Gospel found its way to the coasts of Britain, the greatest boon that could be conferred on a nation. An unvarying Peeblesshire tradition, for example, avers that among the first to witness for Christ and His truth by the banks of the Tweed and its tributaries were Roman soldiers from the great military station at Hall Lyne, and out of whose quiet fellowship-meetings in the recesses of the Manor, sprang the church of that valley, one of the oldest in the county,[Pg 27] and dedicated to Saint Gordian, either the Emperor of that name, or what is more likely, "Gordian the well-beloved," Deputy of Gaul, who suffered martyrdom about the year 362. Be that as it may, it is at any rate certain that long before the departure of the Romans from Britain, Christianity had made considerable headway in the island. St. Ninian's is the earliest definite name which has come down to us, about the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th century. His labours were confined chiefly to the Galloway side of the Border, where the remains of his Candida Casa, or White House, may still be seen at Whithorn on the shores of Wigtown Bay. It is more than possible that some of Ninian's missionaries, or a rumour of his work and teaching at all events, had passed beyond the Solway to the Clyde and Tweed watersheds. But, on the other hand, the difficulties following the departure of the Romans in the constant incursions from the Continent and the terrible internecine struggles of the time, would be sufficient to extinguish whatever light had faintly begun to shine. And it is not until well on in the 6th century that the darkness begins to grow less dense. Such names as Augustine, Paulinus, Columba, Kentigern or Mungo, Aidan and Cuthbert, come upon the scene, with each of whom seems to rest, as it were, the hope of the Church of Christ in Britain. In the year 597 Augustine arrived in Kent with forty monks in his train. The incident, apocryphal perhaps, which led to his mission, is at least interesting. The story has been told again and again, but it will bear repeating. Ælla, King of Deira, had defeated his northern neighbour, and with a portion of the[Pg 28] spoil hastened to fill the Roman slave-market. Gregory the Great, in the days that preceded his pontificate, passed one day through the market-place when it was crowded with people, all attracted by the arrival of fresh cargoes of merchandise; and he saw three boys set for sale. They were white-complexioned, fair and light, and with noble heads of hair. Filled with compassion, he enquired of the dealer from what part of the world they had come, and was told "from Britain, where all the inhabitants have the same fair complexion." He next asked whether the people of this strange land were Christians or pagans, and hearing that they were pagans he heaved a deep sigh, and remarked it was sad to think that beings so bright and fair should be in the power of the Prince of Darkness. He next enquired the name of their nation. "Angles," was the reply. "'Tis well," he answered, playing on the word, "rightly are they called Angles, for their faces are the faces of angels, and they ought to be fellow-heirs with the angels of heaven." "And what is the name," he proceeded, "of the province from which they have been brought?" "From Deira," was the answer. Catching its name, he rejoined, "Rightly are they named Deirans. Plucked from ire, and called to the mercy of Christ." "And who," he asked once more, "is the King of this province?" "Ælla," was the reply. The word recalled the Hebrew expression of praise, and he answered, "Allelujah! the praise of God shall be chanted in that clime!" And as Green so beautifully puts it in his "Making of England," "he passed on, musing how the angel faces should be brought to sing it." And brought to sing it they[Pg 29] were when the evangelist Paulinus found his way in the best sense, to the heart of heathen Northumbria. Paulinus, whom men long remembered,

"Of shoulders curved, and stature tall,
Black hair, and vivid eye, and meagre cheek."

had come from Rome with Bishop Justus in 601, and laboured with Augustine in the evangelization of Kent. When Ethelburga, daughter of Ethelbert of Kent, Augustine's convert, became wedded to Edwin, the still idolatrous King of Northumbria, Paulinus accompanied her as chaplain, and at the same time as missionary among the rude Northumbrians. The field of his labours was a wide one. For a long time he made no progress until Edwin himself, moved by his escape from assassination at the hands of the King of Wessex, and by his victory over Wessex, and under the gentle constraint of Paulinus, resolved that both he and his nobles should be baptized, and this resolution was carried into effect at York, in a hastily-built chapel (the precursor of the Minster), on Easter Eve, 627.

The conversion of Edwin was followed by a great social revolution. Having convoked the National Assembly, he unfolded the reasons for his change of faith. Everywhere he was applauded. Crowds of the nobility, chiefs of petty states, and the great mass of the people followed the example of their King. The worship of the ancient gods was solemnly renounced, and even Coifi, the high priest, was the first to give the signal for destruction by hurling his lance at an idol in the pagan temple. Paulinus was now one of the most popular figures in Northumbria. Wherever he preached, crowds gathered to hear him and to be received, like their[Pg 30] Overlord, into the Christian communion. Many spots in Northumberland are identified with the name of this early and ardent Apostle of the North. Pallinsburn, overlooking Flodden Field, is, of course, Paulinus's Burn, where large numbers were baptized. In one of his missionary journeys we are told (Bede) how he was occupied for six and thirty consecutive days from early morn until nightfall, in teaching the people and in "washing them with the water of absolution" in the river Glen, which flowed by the royal "vill" of Yeavering (anciently Ad-gebrin) in Glendale. At the Lady's Well near Holystone, in the vale of the Coquet, about three thousand converts were welcomed into the Church of Christ. A graceful Runic cross erected on the spot bears the following inscription:—

+In this Place
Pavlinvs the Bishop
Three Thousand Northvmbrians.
Easter, DCXXVII.

But after six years of incessant labours, the death of Edwin in battle with Penda, King of the Mercians, and Cadwallon of North Wales, put a sudden stop to his work. He did not wait for the honour of martyrdom, but went back with the widowed queen to Kent, where he became Bishop of Rochester, and she the Abbess of Lyminge. Paulinus died in 644, and was buried in the chapter-house at Rochester.





(See pp. 25 , 58 , 59 )


But it is ever the darkest hour that precedes the dawn. It was impossible that England should lose her faith and fall back under the rule of a mere heathen conqueror. After the "thoughtful Edwin,[Pg 31] mightiest of all the kings of the isle of Britain," as he has been called (he was, by the way, the founder of Edinburgh), there arose another champion of the new light in the person of Oswald, Edwin's nephew. Oswald's history connects him with Columba the Irishman, and "Apostle of Scotland," to whose splendid work the nation owed its first real religious advance. About 563, when in his forty-second year, and accompanied by twelve companions, Columba found a resting-place on the little island of Hy or Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, whence he set himself to the great work of his life—the conversion of the Pictish tribes beyond the Grampians. At Iona Oswald had sheltered during the home troubles, and many valuable lessons he must have learned for the strenuous life that lay in front of him. Called to lead his countrymen against their oppressors, Oswald literally fought his way to the throne. On a rising ground, a few miles from Hexham, near the Roman Wall, he gathered in 634 a small force, which pledged itself to become Christian if it conquered in the engagement. Causing a cross of wood to be hastily made, and digging a hole for it in the earth, he supported it with his own hands while his men hedged up the soil around it. Then, like Bruce at Bannockburn years afterwards, he bade his soldiers kneel with him and entreat the true and living God to defend their cause, which he knew to be just, from the fierce and boastful foe. This done they joined battle, and attacked Cadwallon's far superior forces. The charge was irresistible. The Welsh army fled down the slope towards the Deniseburn,—a brook near Dilston[Pg 32] which has been identified with the Rowley Burn,—and Cadwallon himself, the hero of fourteen battles and sixty skirmishes, was caught and slain. This was the battle of Hefenfelt, or Heaven's Field, as after-times called it. Not only was the last hero of the old British races utterly routed, but Oswald, King of once more reunited Bernicia and Deira, proved himself to the Christian cause all that Edwin had been, and more, a prince in the prime of life, and fitted by his many good qualities to attract a general enthusiasm of admiration, reverence, and love. Resolved to restore the national Christianity, and to realize the ambitions of his exile life, he turned naturally to Iona and to the teachers of his youth for missionaries who would accomplish the holy task. At his request, Aidan, one of the fittest of the Columban band, was sent to carry on the work of evangelization in Northumbria, which happy event may be reckoned as the first permanent planting of the Gospel in the Eastern Border. The light which he kindled was never afterwards quenched. And as Columba had chosen Iona, so for Aidan there was one spot to which his heart went out above all others. This was the island-peninsula of Lindisfarne, off the Northumbrian coast, so called from the little river Lindis, which here enters the sea, and the Celtic fahren, "a recess." Bede has a fine passage which is worth quoting:—"On the arrival of the Bishop (Aidan) King Oswald appointed him his episcopal see in the isle of Lindisfarne, as he desired. Which place as the tide flows and ebbs twice a day, is enclosed by the waves of the sea like an island; and again, twice in the day, when the shore is left[Pg 33] dry, becomes contiguous to the land. The King also humbly and willingly in all cases giving ear to his admonitions, industriously applied himself to build and extend the church of Christ in his kingdom; wherein, when the Bishop, who was not skilful in the English tongue, preached the gospel, it was most delightful to see the King himself interpreting the Word of God to his commanders and ministers, for he had perfectly learned the language of the Scots during his long banishment. From that time many of the Scots came daily into Britain, and with great devotion preached the word to those provinces of the English over which King Oswald reigned, and those among them that had received priest's orders, administered to them the grace of baptism. Churches were built in several places; the people joyfully flocked together to hear the Word; money and lands were given of the King's bounty to build monasteries; the English, great and small, were, by their Scottish masters, instructed in the rules and observance of regular discipline; for most of them that came to preach were monks." (Eccl. Hist. Bk. iii., c. 2). Than Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, as it came to be called, there is no more sacred spot in Northumbria—in England even. Its history is coeval with that of the nation, and it was from that hallowed centre of Christian activity that the gospelizing of both sides of the Border was planned and prayed over many an anxious hour and day. Aidan's missionaries went forth planting churches in various places. One of the best known of these settlements was Old Melrose, the original shrine by the beautiful bend of the Tweed, a mile or two down the river[Pg 34] from the second and more celebrated Melrose. Here Eata, "a man much revered and meek;" and Boisil, who gave his name to the neighbouring St. Boswells; and Cuthbert, the most illustrious of them all, served God with gladness. Of the latter, certainly the most conspicuous Borderer of his day, something more must be said. Three kingdoms claim his birthplace. The Irish Life of the Saint alleges him to be sprung of her own blood royal; he is affirmed also to have come of noble Northumbrian descent; whilst the Scottish tradition makes him the child of humble parents, born and reared in Lauderdale, one of the sweetest valleys of the Border. It is a fact, at any rate, that when the light of record first falls upon him the youthful Cuthbert is seen as a shepherd lad by the Leader; he is religiously inclined, and whilst his comrades sleep, he spends whole nights in prayer and meditation. One day he hears voices from out the unseen calling to him. Another night it is a vision of angels that he fancies he beholds bearing the soul of the sainted Aidan to the skies. Such was Cuthbert, a kind of mystic, a dreamer of strange dreams, destined apostle and Bishop, and next to Augustine himself the most illustrious figure in the annals of English monasticism. The church of Channelkirk (anciently Childeschirche) dedicated to the Saint, probably indicates his birth-spot. The Leader valley is full of legends of his boyhood, the whole west of Berwickshire, indeed, being haunted ground for Cuthbert's sake. Other great names in the history of early Border Christianity are those of Benedict Biscop, the founder of the monasteries of Jarrow and Monk Wearmouth; Wilfrid, the[Pg 35] founder of Hexham; and the Venerable Bede—the "father of English learning"—whose "Church History of the English People" is the greatest of the forty-five works that bear his name.

By far the most flourishing epoch in the religious development of the Border was the founding of the great Abbeys under David I.—"St. David"—as he is often called, though he was never canonized. Whilst still a Prince, he founded a monastery at Selkirk, and after his accession to the throne, there arose the four stately fanes of Kelso (1128), Melrose (1146), Jedburgh (1147), and Dryburgh (1150)—those rich and peaceful homes of art and intellectual culture whose ruins now strike us with marvel and regret. There is probably no other country district equally small in area that can boast a group of ruins at once so grand and interesting as those that lie within a few miles of each other along the banks of the Tweed and Jed. Founded almost contemporaneously, they were destroyed about the same time, by the same ruthless hands. The story of each is the story of all—burned and rebuilt, then spoiled and restored again, time after time, until finally at the dismal Hertford Invasion, in 1545, they all received their death-stroke. Other religious centres on the Scottish side were Coldingham in Berwickshire, founded in 1098 by King Edgar, son of Canmore and St. Margaret; Dundrennan, in Kirkcudbrightshire, founded in 1142 by Fergus, Lord of Galloway; and Sweetheart or New Abbey, founded in 1275 by Devorgoil, great-great-granddaughter of David the First. On the English side, the Church had a less vigorous growth, having no such munificent patron as King David,[Pg 36] but there, too, it could boast of Carlisle Cathedral, the Abbey of Alnwick, the Priories of Lanercost, and Hexham, and the still more renowned and classic Lindisfarne. The history of the latter began, as we saw, with the year 635, when Saint Aidan accepted the invitation of King Oswald to teach the new faith to the Northumbrians. Aidan's church, built of wood, and thatched with the coarse bents of the links, could not long withstand the storms or the brands of the wild sea-rovers. And of the stone sanctuary reared under the rule of succeeding bishops no portion of the present ruin can be considered as forming a part. Sir Walter Scott has thrown the spell of his genius around the picturesque ruins, but the tragical story of Constance of Beverley has no foundation in fact.





(See pp. 32 , 33 , 36 )



Of Border warfare it were impossible to treat within the limits of a library. In no part of the kingdom was the fighting and raiding spirit more rampant. The Border clans were constantly at war with one another, the slightest excuse provoking an attack, and not unfrequently was there no raison d'être whatever for the accompanying ruin and desolation. It ran apparently in the blood of those old Borderers to live on unfriendly terms with their neighbours, and to seize every possible opportunity against them. The record of the raids does not lean more to one side than another for aggressiveness, though generally the Scot has been credited for this quality. But as a matter of fact both sides were equally at fault[Pg 37] and equally determined. And the onslaughts were often of the most savage and persistent kind, and were almost entirely unchecked by the legal restraints which were set in force. The division of the district into East, West and Middle Marches, with a sort of vice-regal Warden appointed over each, was not always conducive to peace and good feeling. At certain times, a day of truce was held when the Wardens of both sides met and settled any questions that might be in dispute between their followers, but occasionally the decision was anything but harmonious—as in the case of the Reidswire, for instance. In the "Debateable or Threep Lands," which lay partly in England and partly in Scotland, between the Esk and the Sark, no end of worry and difficulty was experienced. "Its chief families were the Armstrongs and Grahams, both clans being noted as desperate thieves and freebooters. They had frequently to be dealt with by force of arms till in the 17th century, the Grahams were transported to Ireland, and forbidden to return upon pain of death. Other districts of the Borders from time to time called forth hostile visitations from the Scottish kings or their commissioners, when great numbers of the robbers were frequently seized and hanged. So late as 1606, the Earl of Dunbar executed as many as 140 of them. The Union of the Crowns removed some obvious grounds of contention between the English and Scottish people, and after the middle of the 17th century the Borders gradually subsided into a more peaceful condition."

It was doubtless due to the exigencies occasioned by those frequently recurring wars and raids from[Pg 38] the 13th to the 16th century that the whole country on both sides of the frontier became so thickly studded with castles and peel-towers, the numerous ruins of which still form a distinctive feature in Border scenery, although from times much earlier the castles and strongholds were characteristic elements in the old Scottish landscape. Alexander Hume, of Polwarth, the poet-preacher of Logie, near Stirling, in his fine description of a "Summer's Day," thus refers to them:—

"The rayons of the sunne we see
Diminish in their strength;
The shade of everie tower and tree,
Extended is in length.
Great is the calm for everie quhair
The wind is settlin' downe;
The reik thrawes right up in the air,
From everie tower and towne."

Generally these towers were planted on heights overlooking the river-valleys, and, as a rule, within sight of one another, in order that the signals of invasion or alarm—flashed by means of the bale fire—might be the more rapidly spread from point to point. Very few of them are now entire—the best-preserved on the Scottish side being, perhaps, Barns, at the entrance to the Manor valley; Bemersyde, still inhabited; and Oakwood on the Ettrick, incorporated in the present farm buildings; and on the English side, Corbridge and Doddington and Whittingham. From a return made in 1460 we find that Northumberland alone possessed 37 castles and 78 towers, and the Scottish side was equally well strengthened and defended. Amongst the larger and more important fortresses on the English side were the Castles of Alnwick, Bothal,[Pg 39] Carlisle, Cockermouth, Coupland, Dilston, Elsdon, Etal, Ford, Naworth, Norham, Prudhoe, Wark, Warkworth; and on the Scottish side, Berwick, Branxholme, Caerlaverock (the true Ellangowan of "Guy Mannering"), Cessford, Ferniherst, Hermitage, Hume, Jedburgh, Neidpath, Peebles, Roxburgh, Threave, Traquair, besides, as has been said, hundreds of peel and bastle-houses scattered all over the country.

It would be a quite impossible task to chronicle the incessant clan-raids of the Border, and to narrate all the invasions that took place on either side would be to repeat in great measure the general history of England and Scotland. But at least two authentic reports, covering little more than a year, may be quoted as showing the extraordinary havoc and destruction caused by the latter. "In 1544 Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun, with an English army, invaded the Scottish Border, and between July and November they destroyed 192 towns, towers, barmkyns, parish churches, etc.; slew 403 Scots and took 816 prisoners; carried off 10,386 head of cattle, 12,492 sheep, 1296 horses, 200 goats, and 850 bolls of corn, besides an untold quantity of inside gear and plenishing. In one village alone—that of Lessudden (now St. Boswells)—Sir Ralph Evers writes that he burned 16 strong bastle-houses. Again in September of the following year, the Earl of Hertford a second time invaded the country, and between the 8th and the 23rd of that month, he razed and cast down the abbeys of Jedburgh, Kelso, Dryburgh, and Melrose, and burned the town of Kelso. At the same time he destroyed about 30 towns, towers and villages on[Pg 40] the Tweed, 36 on the Teviot, 12 on Rulewater, 13 on the Jed, 45 on the Kale, 19 on the Bowmont, 109 in the parishes of Eccles and Duns in Berwickshire, with 20 other towns and villages in the same county. The places destroyed are all named in the report to the English king, along with a classified list of that terrible sixteen days' destruction, embracing 7 monasteries and friars' houses, 16 castles, towers and peels, 5 market-towns, the immense number of 243 villages, with 13 mills, and 3 hospitals."

It cannot be forgotten that upon Border soil were fought at least six of the great historical battles of the nation, viz., Halidon Hill (1333); Otterburn (1388); Homildon Hill (1402); Flodden (1513); Solway Moss (1542); and Ancrum Moor (1544). Of mere internal contests there are the fight at Arkinholm (Langholm, 1455), between Scotsmen, where James II. broke the power of the Douglases; the battle of Hedgeley Moor (1464), and of Hexham (1464) between the English adherents of Lancaster and York, when the Lancastrians were defeated; the affair of Melrose (Skirmish Hill, 1526) between Borderers under the Earl of Angus and Buccleuch; and Philiphaugh (1645) when Leslie drove Montrose from the field. Of what were purely faction fights and deeds of daring such as the Raid of the Reidswire (1575), and the rescue of Kinmont Willie (1596), the ancient ballads will keep their memory green for many a year to come.





(See pp. 39 , 60 , 93 )


Two great incidents of Border warfare stand out before all others—Otterburn and Flodden. Old Froissart has told the story of Otterburn. The Scottish barons, tired of the fickleness and[Pg 41] inactivity of their king, determined to invade England, met at Aberdeen, and arranged the preliminaries for a great gathering at Southdean, beyond Jedburgh. On the day appointed the best blood in Scotland was assembled. "There had not been for sixty years so numerous an assembly—they amounted to twelve hundred spears and forty thousand other men and archers." The Earl of Douglas, the Earl of March and Dunbar, and the Earl of Moray, with three hundred picked lancers and two thousand infantry, burst into Northumberland, rode south as far as Durham, and laid waste the country. In one of their encounters before Newcastle-on-Tyne the Earl of Douglas had a hand-to-hand combat with Sir Henry Percy—- Hotspur,—who was overthrown, Douglas seizing his pennon—the silken streamer bearing his insignia, which was fastened near the head of his lance. In triumph he exclaimed: "I will carry this token of your prowess with me into Scotland, and place it on the tower of my castle at Dalkeith, that it may be seen from afar." "By God, Earl of Douglas," replied Hotspur, "you shall not even bear it out of Northumberland; be assured you shall never have this pennon to boast of." "You must come then," answered Douglas, "this night and seek for it. I will fix your pennon before my tent, and shall see if you will venture to take it away." On the following evening the Scottish army "lighted high on Otterburn," in Redesdale, and there Sir Henry and Ralph Percy, with six hundred spears of knights and squires and upwards of eight thousand infantry, fell upon the Scots, who were but three hundred lances, and two thousand others. The fight that[Pg 42] followed was one of the most spirited in history, and ended in the death of Douglas, the capture of Hotspur, the serious wounding of his brother, and the killing or capture of one thousand and forty Englishmen on the field, the capture of eight hundred and forty others in the pursuit, and the wounding of a thousand more. The Scots lost only one hundred slain and two hundred captured. "It was," says Froissart, "the hardest and most obstinate battle ever fought." The tragic incidents of this encounter have been kept alive not historically but poetically. It is the immortality of song which preserves the memory of Otterburn. No contest was more emphatically the "ballad-singer's joy." Two ballads, the one Scots, the other English, give their respective versions of the event with those natural discrepancies between the two, which may easily be accounted for on patriotic grounds. That given in Scott's "Minstrelsy" is unquestionably the finer, and contains the lines so often quoted by Scott himself, and at no occasion more pathetically than during his visit—pretty near the end—to the old Douglas shrines in Lanarkshire, the locality of "Castle Dangerous":

"My wound is deep. I fain would sleep;
Take thou the vanguard of the three,
And hide me by the braken bush
That grows on yonder lilye lea.
"O bury me by the braken bush,
Beneath the blooming brier;
Let never living mortal ken
That ere a kindly Scot lies here."

The story of Flodden is the darkest, perhaps, on the page of Scottish history, and like Otterburn, has been written in strains grand and majestic, and[Pg 43] certainly the most heart-moving in the whole realm of northern minstrelsy. There Scotland lost her King, the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, James's natural son, two abbots, twelve earls, seventeen lords, four hundred knights, and fifteen thousand others, all sacrificed to the fighting pride of James IV. of Scotland. Pierced by several strong arrows, the left hand hacked clean from the arm, the neck laid open in the middle, James's body was carried mournfully to Berwick. He had died a hero's death, albeit a foolish one. His last words have lived in the lines of the rhymer:

"Fight on, my men,
Yet Fortune she may turn the scale;
And for my wounds be not dismayed,
Nor ever let your courage fail.
Thus dying did he brave appear
Till shades of death did close his eyes;
Till then he did his soldiers cheer,
And raise their courage to the skies."

The era of Blood and Iron on the Borders has passed long since. Peace and prosperity prevail on both sides of the Tweed. Old animosities are seldom spoken of, and hardly ever remembered. A cordial amity and good-will and co-operation evidence the strength of the cementing element which no loyal heart, either north or south, can ever desire to see broken.[Pg 44]





(Famous in connection with Flodden Field)




A line drawn from Berwick to Carlisle, and across England to the Coquet, thence north again, coast-wise, to the old Tweedside borough will give us, for all practical purposes, the English Border Country. Only a part of the Roman Wall, as far as Crag Loch and Borcovicus (Housesteads), will come within the present purview, which excludes Newcastle itself and the "coaly Tyne." We are to deal with rural Northumberland rather, and with a little corner of Cumberland, the immediate and true Border. Even at this time of day much of the English Border is still a kind of terra incognita to the tourist and holiday-maker. For travelling facilities have not been of the best hitherto. But it is a new order of things now, and even the most outlying spots can be reached with a wonderful degree of comfort impossible not so very long ago. Bewcastle, for instance, and the once wild and trackless "Debateable Land" between Canonbie and the Solway, have come within comparatively easy distance of railroad and coaching centres. The crossing of the Solway Moss by the Caledonian Route, and the opening out of the line from Alnwick to Wooler and Cornhill, together with the numerous driving tours that are in daily operation during the summer at least, have become the open sesame to a district practically shut up even less than a half century since. It is now possible to breakfast in Carlisle, or Newcastle, or much further south for that matter (or north),[Pg 45] and within an hour or two to be revelling in the most delightful rusticities at the foot of the Cheviots, or in the very heart of them. The remotest localities are rendered accessible even for a single day's outing, and a holiday on the English Border is not likely to be a disappointing one. There is something to suit every taste. If one is archaeologically inclined, for instance, Northumberland has one of the finest collections of military antiquities in the kingdom, from the rude circular camps and entrenchments of the primitive inhabitants to the great castles and peel-towers of mediæval times. The Romans have left a mighty monument of their power—none more significant—in the huge barrier thrown across the lower half of the county, and in the stations and roads connected with it. In some respects the Roman Wall may be accounted Northumberland's principal attraction, and a pilgrimage between Tyne and Solway must always repay itself. If one is artistically inclined, there are beauty-spots for all canvases—as befits the birthplace of such masters as Bewick and Foster. And as an angler's paradise the Cheviot uplands have long been popular. The historical memories of the English Border are outstanding. For centuries this little fringe of country was a continuous warring-ground for the two nations that are now happily one. Upon its soil were fought some of the bloodiest, and it must be added, some of the most fool-hardy and unjustifiable fights on record. In its religious story it has much to boast of. By its missionaries and by its sword it won England from heathendom to the Christian Church. The development of the monastic system in[Pg 46] Northumbria did more than anything else to civilise and colonise the entire realm, Scotland included. "Its monasteries," as Green says, "were the seat of whatever intellectual life the country possessed, and above all, it had been the first to gather together into a loose political unity the various tribes of the English people, and by standing at their head for nearly a century to accustom them to a national life out of which England as we have it now was to spring."

The physical conditions, generally speaking, are similar on both sides of the Border. Wide arable expanses, well-wooded and fertile, cover the chief valleys and much of the Northumbrian coast-line. But in the main, the landscape is purely pastoral for miles, showing few signs of human life, and the nearest habitation often at a considerable distance. The Northumbrian uplands are confined chiefly to the Cheviots, the Pyrenees on a small scale; two-thirds of their whole three hundred square miles are in the county, constituting perhaps the loveliest cluster of pastoral hills in the island. Of this group, Cheviot—to be more distinctive, the Cheviot—(2676 feet) sits in the centre almost, dignified and massive, the "recumbent guardian of the great lone moorland." Others, taking them according to height, are Cairn Hill (2545), Hedgehope (2348), Comb Fell (2132), Cushat Law (2020), Bloody Bush Edge (2001), Windy Gyle (1963), Dunmore (1860), Carter Fell (1600), and Yeavering Bell (1182)—a graceful cone overlooking the pretty hamlet of Kirknewton. A climb to the broad back of the Cheviot, or the rounded top of Yeavering, should be made by every tourist who[Pg 47] rambles along the Border. Both are reachable from the Scottish and English sides, as by Bowmont and Colledge Waters, or by that loveliest of all the upland dales, Langleeford. Despite the somewhat quagmire character of its flat summit, the view from the Cheviot, as one might expect, is a truly inspiring one, comprising the whole coast-line between Berwick and Tynemouth, and the vast inland expanse from Midlothian to the Solway—the Scottish Border in toto. The Cheviots are hills rather than the "mountains blue" of poetic licence. Yet all are imposing to a degree, and exhibit an excellent contour against the sky-line. They have none of the wildness and savagery of the Highland ranges, and even the steepest are grass-grown from skirt to summit, being easy of ascent, and commanding the most varied and brilliant prospects.

Robert Crawford sings of them as "Cheviot braes so soft and gay," and Gilpin likens the hirsels browsing on the most acclivitous to pictures hung on immense green walls. From time immemorial those charming uplands have been grazed by the quiet, hardy, fine-wooled, white-faced breed of sheep which bear their name; and in the days of the raids (for this is the true "raider-land" of history) they were resonant, more than any other part of Scotland, with the clang of freebootery and the yell of strife. Mrs. Sigourney's apostrophe to the present day flocks may be quoted:

Graze on, graze on, there comes no sound
Of Border warfare here,
No slogan cry of gathering clan,
No battle-axe, or spear.[Pg 48]
No belted knight in armour bright,
With glance of kindled ire,
Doth change the sports of Chevy-Chase
To conflict stern and dire.
Ye wist not that ye press the spot,
Where Percy held his way
Across the marches, in his pride,
The "chiefest harts to slay;"
And where the stout Earl Douglas rode
Upon his milk-white steed,
With "fifteen hundred Scottish spears,"
To stay the invaders' deed.
Ye wist not, that ye press the spot
Where, with his eagle eye,
King James, and all his gallant train,
To Flodden-Field swept by.
The Queen was weeping in her bower,
Amid her maids that day,
And on her cradled nursling's face
Those tears like pearl-drops lay:
Graze on, graze on, there's many a rill
Bright sparkling through the glade,
Where you may freely slake your thirst,
With none to make afraid.
There's many a wandering stream that flows
From Cheviot's terraced side,
Yet not one drop of warrior's gore
Distains its crystal tide.




(See pp. 40 , 48 , 99 , 103 , 121 )


Of the river valleys running south of the Border line, the chief are the Breamish, or the Till, as it is termed from Bewick Brig—the "sullen Till" of "Marmion"; the Aln, from Alnham Kirk to the sand-banks of Alnmouth, a glen emphatically rich in legendary lore; the Coquet, the most picturesque and most popular trouting-stream in the North of England; and Redesdale, redolent of "Chevy Chase," rising out of Carter Fell, and joining the North Tyne at Redesmouth, a little below the pleasant market-town of Bellingham.[Pg 49] The chief towns are Berwick and Alnwick, Hexham being outside our present delimitation. Many of the smaller places, and the villages, are models of their kind. Wooler, at the base of the Cheviots, is a choice mountaineering and angling centre, from which, by way of Langleeford, is the favourite route to Cheviot top. It was at the Whitsun Tryst or Wooler sheep fair, that Scott's grandfather spent his old shepherd's thirty pounds in buying a horse instead of sheep, but with such happy results in the sequel. And hither came Scott himself in August, 1791, to imbue his mind with the legends, the history, and scenery of the neighbourhood. "Behold a letter from the mountains," he writes to his friend William Clerk, "for I am very snugly settled here, in a farmer's house (at Langleeford), about six miles from Wooler, in the very centre of the Cheviot hills, in one of the wildest and most romantic situations, which your imagination, fertile upon the subject of cottages, ever suggested. 'And what the deuce are you about there?' methinks I hear you say. Why, sir, of all things in the world, drinking goat's whey; not that I stand in the least need of it, but my uncle having a slight cold, and being a little tired of home, asked me last Sunday evening if I would like to go with him to Wooler; and I, answering in the affirmative, next morning's sun beheld us on our journey through a pass in the Cheviots, upon the backs of two special nags, and man Thomas behind with a portmanteau, and two fishing-rods fastened across his back, much in the style of St. Andrew's cross. Upon reaching Wooler we found the accommodation so bad that we were forced to use some interest to get lodgings[Pg 50] here, where we are most delightfully appointed, indeed. To add to my satisfaction we are amidst places renowned by feats of former days; each hill is crowned with a tower, or camp, or cairn; and in no situation can you be near more fields of battle—Flodden, Otterburn, and Chevy Chase. Ford Castle, Chillingham Castle, Coupland Castle and many another scene of blood are within the compass of a forenoon's ride. Out of the brooks with which the hills are intersected, we pull trouts of half a yard in length, as fast as we did the perches from the pond at Pennicuik, and we are in the very country of muirfowl.... My uncle drinks the whey here, as I do ever since I understood it was brought to his bedside every morning at six, by a very pretty dairymaid. So much for my residence. All the day we shoot, fish, walk, and ride; dine and sup on fish struggling from the stream, and the most delicious heath-fed mutton, barn-door fowls, pies, milk cheese, etc, all in perfection; and so much simplicity resides amongst those hills that a pen, which could write at least, was not to be found about the house, though belonging to a considerable farmer, till I shot the crow with whose quill I write this epistle." (See Lockhart, chapter vi.). In this passage we have an interesting glimpse of what Northumberland was a hundred years ago, and of the great author enjoying a holiday while yet reading for the law, and before fame began to blow her trumpet in his praise.

Sweeter villages than Etal and Ford could scarcely be imagined out of Arcadia. Etal Castle was destroyed by James IV. previous to Flodden,[Pg 51] and has never been restored. Ford Castle, built originally in 1287, has been frequently renovated and enlarged, and is now a most excellent example of the military style of architecture plus the modern mansion house. Formerly held by the Herons, its chatelaine figures in "Marmion" as the syren who detained the King when he ought to have been in the field. The frescoes in Ford schoolroom, painted by the late Lady Waterford, are objects not only of good art but of a well-conceived philanthropy. Ancroft and Lowick, Chatton and Chillingham are delightful summer resorts. Chillingham is famous for its Elizabethan Castle, but still more so, perhaps, for its herds of wild cattle, the survivors of the wild ox of Europe, and the supposed progenitors of our domestic cattle. Other summer resorts are Belford and Doddington, but the whole coast-line, indeed, is dotted with the most desirable holiday-nooks in the county.





(See pp.39 ,51 ,52 ,56 )


The Coquet bears the palm for picturesqueness amongst Northumbrian valleys, and is about forty miles in length. From Alwinton, the first village after crossing the Cheviots, where the Alwine joins the Coquet—"a place of slumber and of dreams remote among the hills"—to Warkworth Castle, the stream carries history and romance in every league of its course. Here are such names as Biddlestone, the "Osbaldistone," of "Rob Roy" (there are other claimants such as Chillingham and Naworth); Harbottle, a hamlet of venerable antiquity; Holystone, mentioned already in connection with Paulinus; Hepple, with the remnant of a strong peel tower of the Ogles; and Rothbury, the capital of Upper Coquetdale, a snug[Pg 52] township in the midst of an amphitheatre of the wild, stony Simonside hills. In the old days it was a reiving centre of notoriety. All this part of Northumberland, indeed, was a constant freebooting arena, neither Scots nor English being content without some fray on hand. There is not a village, or a town, or farmhouse even, but has some tale to tell of that uncanny period. Cragside, Lord Armstrong's palatial seat, reclaimed, like Abbotsford, from the barren mountain side, is within a mile of Rothbury. Then come Brinkburn Priory, "an ancient fabric awful in repose," founded by William de Bertram, lord of Mitford, in the reign of Henry I.; Felton, a neat little village, where Alexander of Scotland received the homage of the Northumbrian barons; and Warkworth, "proud of the Percy name," one of the quaintest and oldest towns in Northumberland, and teeming with historical and romantic associations. So near the sea, and with some of the rarest river scenery in the county close at hand, the place is in high favour as a holiday resort. A Saxon settlement, all interest centres around its dismantled Castle, believed to have been built by Roger Fitz-Richard, to whom Henry II. granted in 1158 the manor of Warkworth. Strengthened from time to time, it became a Percy possession, and was the chief residence of the family to the middle of the 15th century. At the height of its power it must have been well-nigh impregnable, encircled on three sides by the winding banks and overhanging woods of the Coquet, and on a commanding eminence above it; and though time and many devastating hands have long since riven its ancient walls, the pile still presents a splendid[Pg 53] example of a baronial stronghold, second to few on the Borders.

Among Northumbrian towns, Alnwick (the county town) ranks next to Newcastle. But whilst the rise of the latter and its prosperity and colour have been each affected by the great industrial changes of the century, Alnwick's development has been very different. Lying peacefully amidst pastoral hills, by the side of a river unpolluted by modern commerce, this ancient Border town still presents the plain and austere aspect which it wore when the great stage-coaches passed through on their way from London to Edinburgh. In Newcastle, despite its numerous relics of antiquity, one's mind is ever dominated by the potent Present, whereas in Alnwick, it is ever under the spell of the dreamy Past. The quaint, irregular stone-built houses are touched with the sober hues of antiquity, and seem to take their character from the great baronial relic of feudal times. The history of the town is chiefly a record of

"Old unhappy far-off things,
And battles long ago."

It was founded by the Saxons, who styled it Alainwick, "the town on the clear water." Like Carlisle, its history is largely one of attack and retaliation. The Scottish Sovereigns were peculiarly unfortunate at Alnwick. For here Malcolm Canmore was speared to death in 1093, and William the Lion made prisoner in 1174, and inside the castle of to-day with its gilded ceilings, luxurious upholstery, and majestic mantels of Italian workmanship and marbles, are still to be seen the dour dungeons in which many a Scot died miserably while the[Pg 54] Percy and his retainers feasted above. King John burned Alnwick to the ground in 1216, David I. besieged and captured it. Each of the Edwards visited the place. It was again devastated by the Scots in 1427. In 1463, it was held for Edward IV., and in 1464 it fell into the hands of Queen Margaret. Royalists and Roundheads occupied Alnwick during the wars between Charles and his Parliament, but after 1700 it settled down to comparative quiet. The Castle, of course, dominates the place. There is what William Howitt calls "an air of solemn feudality" overhanging the whole town. Streets and buildings, and the general tone harmonize well with the prevailing conditions. Only one of its four gates survives—the gloomy, old, weather-beaten Bondgate, built by the haughty Hotspur about the year 1450. The Cross dates from the same period. The most interesting and venerable structure is the Church of St. Mary and St. Michael, founded about the beginning of the 14th century, Perpendicular in style, and abundant in Percy memorials. But the chief object of interest is the Castle with the Castle enclosure (some five acres in extent). The Castle itself is the most magnificent specimen of a feudal fortress in England, a verdict in which all who see it will agree. What an extraordinarily fascinating and profoundly impressive place, from the very stones of the courtyard to the defiant-looking warrior figures on the battlements of the barbican, and elsewhere. What an endless succession of towers and turrets (some of them with distinctive names, Hotspur and Bloody Gap) archways and corridors, walls and embrasures, and all the grim massive paraphernalia[Pg 55] of the past, apparently as doggedly determined as ever. Perhaps, as one writer puts it, only a Percy could live quite at his ease as master of Alnwick Castle. One cannot imagine the average man making himself congenially at home here. But the inside comforts are an overflowing compensation for a somewhat forbidding exterior. We are told that even the towers at the angles of the encircling walls are museums of British and Egyptian antiquities, and game trophies, collected by members of the family. The fourth Duke has left much to show for the quarter of a million he lavished upon the building—exquisite wood carving, frescoes, marbles, and canvases. Mantovani, who restored the Raphael frescoes in the Vatican, was not too great a man to be hired by a Percy to adorn his Border castle. The walls of the grand staircase are panelled with beautiful marbles. There are unique paintings: the dining-room, a noble apartment, is pompous with Percys in fine frames, bewigged, robed and plain; the first Duke and his wife, who helped him to a dignity neither his money nor his courtly manners could have won for him, hang suitably in the place of honour above the hearth. Vandyck, Moroni, and Andrea del Sarto are worthily represented in the castle. Giorgione, who did so well the comparatively little he had time for, is here in his "Lady with the Lute." Raphael, Guido, and Titian are also within these swarthy outer walls, Titian's landscape contribution being specially notable, like Giovanni Bellini's "The Gods enjoying the Fruits of the Earth." One looks from it to the fair Northumberland country beyond the windows and then at the[Pg 56] splendour and taste of the castle, and fancies, inevitably, that the Percys themselves have in these later days obtained quite their share of the privileges of Bellini's gods. Nothing that makes for domestic pleasure is lacking at Alnwick Castle. There is a stately library of some 15,000 books, with chairs for dreaming and chairs for study; and, not to slight meaner comforts, there is a kitchen that is a model of its baronial kind, about fifty yards distant from the dining-hall, with which it communicates by an underground passage. The first English possession acquired by the house of Percy north of the Tees was Dalton, afterwards called Dalton-Percy. Then came Alnwick, originally owned by the De Vescis, and purchased from them about 1309; Warkworth; Prudhoe-on-Tyne, one of the most picturesque of Northumbrian fortresses; Cockermouth; and Keeldar, in the Cheviots. And what of the Percys who ruled, and still rule, at Alnwick in their day of might? Very ancient is the name, numbering among its early patriarchs such grand old heroes as Manfred the Dane, and

"Brave Galfred, who to Normandy
With vent'rous Rollo came;
And from his Norman Castles won,
Assumed the Percy name."

The pedigree traces the descent of Angus de Perci up to Manfred, and that of Josceline de Louvain up from Gerberga, daughter and heiress of Charles, Duke of Lorraine, to Charlemagne, and in the male line to the ancient Dukes of Hainault. This same Josceline, who was brother-in-law to King Henry I., married in 1168, Agnes, the great Percy heiress, and assumed the name of his wife:[Pg 57]

"Lord Percy's heir I was, whose noble name
By me survives unto his lasting fame;
Brabant's Duke's son I wed, who, for my sake,
Retained his arms, and Percy's name did take."

Their youngest son, Richard de Percy, then head of the family, was one of the chief barons who extorted Magna Charta from King John, and the ninth Lord, Henry, gave much aid to Edward I. in the subjugation of Scotland. It was he who purchased Alnwick. His son—another Henry—defeated David II. at Neville's Cross (1346); his grandson fought at Crécy; his great-grandson, the fourth Lord Percy of Alnwick, was marshal of England at the coronation of Richard II., and was created the same day Earl of Northumberland. By far the greater part of the romance of the Percys has centred round Harry Hotspur (eldest son of the preceding), whom the dead Douglas defeated at Otterburn, and who fell himself at Shrewsbury (1403) fighting against Henry IV. The soubriquet of Hotspur was given him because "in the silence of the night, when others were quietly sleeping, he laboured unwearied, as though his spur were hot."





(See pp. 38 , 49 , and 53 to 58 )


The first Earl was slain at Bramham Moor (1408). The second Earl fell fighting for Henry VI. at St. Albans in 1455. The third at Towton (1461), and it was his brother the fourth Earl who comforted himself as he lay bleeding to death on Hedgley Moor (1464) that he had "saved the bird in his bosom." The fifth Earl was murdered in 1489. The sixth Earl was the lover of Anne Boleyn, maid of honour to Queen Catherine, and had King Henry VIII. for his rival, who in great wrath commanded Cardinal Wolsey to break off the engagement between them. The seventh Earl[Pg 58] for espousing the cause of Mary, Queen of Scots, was beheaded in 1572. The eighth Earl in 1585 was found dead in bed with three pistol shots through his breast, whether by suicide or murder. The ninth Earl was imprisoned for fifteen years in the Tower on a baseless suspicion of being privy to the Gunpowder Plot. The tenth Earl fought on the Parliamentary side in the Civil War, and with the death of Josceline, the eleventh Earl, in 1670, the male line of the family came to an end. The eleventh Earl's only child—an heiress—married the Duke of Somerset, who was created in 1749 Baron Warkworth, and Earl of Northumberland, with remainder (having no male issue) to his son-in-law Sir Hugh Smithson, of Stanwick, a Yorkshire knight who in his youth had been an apothecary in Hatton Gardens. Sir Hugh succeeded to the Earldom in 1750, and was created in 1766 Earl Percy and Duke of Northumberland. The seventh Duke succeeded in 1899.

From Alnwick it is fourteen miles to Bamborough, "King Ida's castle, huge and square." No traveller along the great north road between Alnwick and Berwick can fail to be struck with an object so boldly prominent as Bamborough. Far and wide it meets the vision, and is the more conspicuous from the flat character of its surroundings and the very open coast. Its base is an almost perpendicular mass of basaltic rock overlooking the sea, at a height of 150 feet. Founded in 547, it suffered many a siege, most of all at the hands of the Danes in 933. In the years that followed it was being constantly rebuilt, and as constantly stormed and broken again. As the great bombards[Pg 59] left it in the fourth Edward's reign, so it lay dismantled for centuries. In 1720, Lord Crewe, the philanthropic Bishop of Durham, purchased the Castle and bequeathed it for charitable purposes—the reception and care of the poor, etc. In 1894 it was acquired by the late Lord Armstrong, at a cost of a quarter of a million, and fitted up as a convalescent home. The charming village of Bamborough, nestling within easy distance, has some celebrity as a health resort. The church in which St. Aidan died is one of the oldest in the country, and the churchyard contains Grace Darling's tomb. The Farne Islands, the scene of her brave exploit, are easily visible from the shore. There are seventeen in all, forming three distinct groups, Longstone, the heroine's home, lying farthest out. It was from the lighthouse on this latter island that the noble maiden of barely twenty-two descried the wreck of the Forfarshire, the 7th September, 1838, and formed her resolve at rescue. "He that goes out and sees the savage and iron nature of the rocks will not avoid wondering at the desperate nature of the attempt," crowned by an almost superhuman triumph. On the great Farne, or House Island, his favourite place of retirement, St. Cuthbert died in 687. How his followers bore, from shrine to shrine, the uncorrupted body of their Bishop is a tradition well-known. "For the space of seven years," says Reginald of Durham, "Saint Cuthbert was carried to and fro on the shoulders of pious men through trackless and waterless places; when no house afforded him a hospitable roof, he remained under covering of tents." Further, we are told how the monks first[Pg 60] carried their precious burden to the stone church at Norham; thence towed it up the river to Tillmouth; on to Melrose, the Saint's home-sanctuary by the Tweed; thence through the Lowland glens towards the English Border where, descending the head-waters of the Tyne, they came to Hexham; passing westward to Carlisle in Cumberland, and Dufton Fells in Westmoreland, and over into Lancashire; then once more eastward to the monastery at York; and finally northward again to a last resting place in Durham, when

"After many wanderings past,
He chose his lordly seat at last
Where his Cathedral, huge and vast,
Looks down upon the Wear."


A glance at the outskirts of Carlisle suggests at once the fact that its founders had considered the strategic value of the site. The old Brigantes never planted their towns without due examination of the whole lie of the land, and especially with a view to its defencibleness. The river-junctions were often their favourite settling places. Hence the origin of Carlisle, and many others of the Border towns—Hawick, Selkirk, Kelso, etc. With its three encompassing streams—the Eden, the Caldew, and the Petteril, which still enclose the Castle and Cathedral hills in a sort of quasi-island, Carlisle has been aptly called "the city of the waters." Its situation certainly is all but perfect, whilst the picturesqueness and the extensiveness of its surrounding scenery are the admiration of all who see it. Built upon a hill[Pg 61] which its walls once enclosed but which would now shut out its most populous suburbs, Carlisle commands a prospect only limited by the lofty mountain chain that encircles the great basin in which Cumberland lies. From the summit of the Cathedral or from the Keep of the Castle, the eye sweeps without interruption a vast prepossessing landscape, rich in wood and water and fertile valleys, over which the light and shade are ever gambolling, and the seasons spreading their variegated hues. Southward, across this fair expanse, the majestic Skiddaw rears his noble crest, and Helvellyn his wedge-like peak, radiant with the first and last rays of the sun. Saddleback, and the lesser hills, link the apparently unbroken chain with Crossfell and the eastern range; while further to the left the Northumberland fells bound the horizon. Then come the uplands by Bewcastle and the Border and the pastoral Cheviots. Away round to the west, the magnificent belt is terminated by "huge Criffel's hoary top" standing in solemn grandeur above the Solway.





(See pp. 39 and 56 )


There are few fairer or wider panoramas in Britain, and none more permeated with the very spirit of romance. What Lockhart said of Sandyknowe is equally true of this singularly fascinating view-point. To whichever hand we turn we may be sure there is "not a field but has its battle, and not a rivulet without its song."

Unlike Melrose, which may claim to be the literary capital of the Border Country, Carlisle is the fighting capital. Its most stirring memories are of raiders and rescues, and its very air is

"full of ballad notes
Borne out of long ago."
[Pg 62]

Despite its Cathedral, Carlisle is really more Scottish than English. A town which proclaimed the Pretender must be Scottish enough. No other English town fills so large a place in Scottish history. And even its present manners and customs, and no little part of its dialect, are coloured with Scottish sentiment and tradition. For which it cannot be a whit the worse! Walk about Carlisle, and one is charmed with the exquisite pleasantness of the place, the sense of comfort and prosperity that reigns in its streets and suburbs, the steady flow of traffic running through it, and the welcome geniality of its inhabitants. What a delightful spot is Stanwix yonder, for instance! And the banks of the Eden have something of those "Eden scenes" about them which Burns claimed for the Jed. That Bridge is not unlike Rennie's at Kelso. The public buildings are worth a more minute examination than the passing stranger usually gives. An atmosphere of delicious semi-antiquity is the crowning feature of "Merrie Carlisle," and one feels instinctively that under the inevitable modernity of the place there is an older story written on its stones—

"Old legends, of the monkish page,
Traditions of the saint and sage,
Tales that have the rime of age,
And chronicles of eld."

It is so old a town that one cannot be certain of its origin. The name is apparently British, derived probably from Caer Lywelydd, or simply Caer Lywel, "the town or fort of Lywel," but whether this was a tribal, or local, or personal name it would be hazardous to say. By the Romans it was known as Luguvallium or Luguballia, possibly "the town[Pg 63] or fort by the Wall." This the Saxons abbreviated and altered to Luel, the original name, with the prefix Caer, hence Caer-Luel, Caerleil, Carleol, Karluil, Karliol, Carliol, Carlile, and Carlisle.

"No English city," says Bishop Creighton, "has a more distinctive character than Carlisle, and none can claim to have borne its character so continuously through the course of English history. Carlisle is still known as 'the Border city,' and though the term 'the Border' has no longer any historical significance, it still denotes a district which has strongly marked peculiarities and retains a vigorous provincial life. There was a time when the western Border was equally important with the Border on the north, when the fortress on the Dee had to be stoutly held against the foe, and when the town which rose among the scrub by the upper Severn was a place of conflict between contending races. But this struggle was not of long duration, and Chester and Shrewsbury ceased to be distinctly Border towns. On the north, however, the contest continued to be stubbornly waged, till it raised up a population inured to warfare, who carried the habits of a predatory life into a time when they were mere survivals of a well-nigh forgotten past. Of this period of conflict Carlisle is the monument, and of this lawless life it was long the capital. Berwick-upon-Tweed alone could venture to share its glory or dispute its supremacy; but Berwick was scarcely a town; it was rather a military outpost, changing hands from time to time between the combatants; it was neither Scottish nor English, more than a castle, but less than a town, an accidental growth[Pg 64] of circumstances, scarcely to be classed as an element of popular life. Carlisle, on the other hand, traces its origin to times of venerable antiquity, and can claim through all its changes to have carried on in unbroken succession the traditions of an historic life. It was the necessary centre of a large tract of country, and whether its inhabitants were British or English its importance remained the same. It was not merely a military position, but a place of habitation, the habitation of a people who had to trust much to themselves, and who amidst all vicissitudes retained a sturdy spirit of independence. This is the distinguishing feature of Carlisle; it is 'the Border city.' But though this is its leading characteristic which runs through all its history, it has two other marks of distinction, when compared with other English towns. It is the only town on British soil which bears a purely British name; and it is the only town which has been added to England since the Norman Conquest."





(See pp. 44 , and 60 to 70 )


Briefly, the headlines of Carlisle's history are these. Founded originally by the Britons, it was held by the Romans for close on four centuries. Many Roman remains (coins, medals, altars, etc.) have been unearthed, and Hadrian's big Wall (murus and vallum) is still traceable in several quarters. A sad spoliation by Pict and Scot followed the Roman withdrawal. They scarcely left one stone on another. Then came the Saxon supremacy under the good King Egfrith, with the spiritual oversight under Saint Cuthbert, to whom and his successors at Lindisfarne were bestowed in perpetuity the city with fifteen miles around it.[Pg 65] But for Egfrith's death fighting the Picts on the far-off moorland of Nechtansmere (Dunnichen in Forfarshire) Carlisle might have risen early and rapidly to a sure place as one of the leading cities in the land. From 685, however, to the Conquest (1066) the place was virtually extinct. It was only then that a new epoch arose for the broken city as for the whole of England. The Conqueror himself is said to have commenced the rebuilding of Carlisle, but the town owes its restoration rather to his son William the Red, who, on his return from Alnwick, after concluding a peace treaty with the King of Scotland in 1092, "observed the pleasantness of its situation, and resolved to raise it from its ruins." The Castle, the Priory, the once massive city walls, were all the work of the Rufus regime, completed by Henry I., who gave cathedral dignity to the church at Carlisle. David I., the "Sair Sanct," raided Carlisle in 1136, and kept court for a time within its walls, which he heightened. It was at Carlisle that his death took place in 1153. From that date to the 'Forty-five, Carlisle's history is mainly that of a kind of "buffer-state" between the two kingdoms. Few cities recall so many martial memories. It was Edward's base of operations in his Scottish wars. It was besieged by Wallace in 1298, by Bruce in 1315—the year after Bannockburn, and again in 1322. Queen Mary's captivity at Carlisle in 1568; Buccleuch's daring and gallant rescue of Kinmont Willie in 1596, immortalised in the best of the Border ballads; the protracted siege by General Leslie in 1644 during the Parliamentary War; and the Pretender's short-lived triumph—these are the rest of its leading events.[Pg 66]

Of the historic Carlisle little is left, the Castle, the Cathedral, and the Guildhall being almost the sole relics of a long and notable past. Yet how vastly changed the place is from the quiet little Border town of a century ago even! Then it had barely ten thousand inhabitants, now there are over forty thousand. As the county town of Cumberland, and next to Newcastle the greatest railway centre in the north of England, its prosperity has grown by leaps and bounds. It is the terminus of no fewer than eight different lines, and its busy, never-at-rest Citadel Station is known all the world over. Gates and walls have long since vanished from "Merrie Carlisle." The streets are wide and airy, and altogether it presents a most comfortable and thriving appearance. At 40, English Street, the chief thoroughfare, Prince Charlie slept for four nights during the '45. And from 79 to 83, Castle Street, the corner building (now a solicitor's office), between Castle Street and the Green-market, Scott led Miss Carpenter to the altar. Carlisle Castle, a huge, irregular reddish-brown stone structure, grim and defiant, with its almost perfect specimen of a Norman Keep, and battlements frowning towards the north, is still a place to see.

But it is the Cathedral which is Carlisle's chief glory. Rising in the centre of the city, high above all other buildings except the factory chimneys, there is an air of importance about it not altogether justifiable. The building is small and not of very great account, the reason being that Carlisle was only erected into a See in 1133, and then out of Durham. The result was that the parish church was promoted to the dignity of a cathedral.[Pg 67] Nevertheless, it has several striking features—a delightful Early English choir and magnificent east window, reputed to be unsurpassed by any other in the kingdom, if indeed in the world. From 1092, the date of the original building, to 1400-19, in Bishop Strickland's time, when the north transept was restored and the central tower rebuilt, and down to the present day, the edifice contains every variety of style, from Norman to Perpendicular, with admirable specimens of nineteenth century work. Of the original Norman minster the only parts remaining are two bays of the nave, the south transept, and the piers of the tower. How long the church remained in its pristine state it is impossible to say. The first alteration was probably the enlargement of the choir, towards the middle and close of the thirteenth century, immediately before the great fire of 1292, the worst the cathedral has experienced in its four burnings. The work of reconstruction after 1292 appears to have been somewhat slow, so slow that little was done till the year 1352, when Bishop Welton and his successor set themselves in earnest to the task. "The king, the city treasury, and the leading families of the neighbourhood contributed towards the restoration, in response to the urgent appeals of the bishops and to the indulgences issued for the remission of forty days' penance to such laity as should by money, materials, or labour, contribute to the pious work." Towards the close of the reign of Edward III. the renovated pile rose from it ruins. To this period belongs the entire east end, with its grand window, the triforium, the carved capitals of the arches, and the Decorated windows[Pg 68] of the clerestory. The ceiling was painted and gilded and panelled, the intersections glowing with the armorial bearings of the rich donors by whose liberality the work had been carried to completion. The windows were filled with stained glass, and the nine lights of the east window with figures.





(See pp. 39 and 74 )


In this state the cathedral appears to have remained till 1392, when another fire occurred, which destroyed the north transept. A lack of funds was again felt, and it was not till the lapse of nine or ten years that the restoration was completed. Only about a century later, however, Carlisle shared the fate of the monastic institutions, and was suppressed, and the church shorn of many of its enrichments. The Civil Wars witnessed the worst acts of spoliation, when nearly the whole of the nave, the chapter-house and cloisters were destroyed, the materials being used for guard-house purposes in the city. The reign of the "Puritan patchwork" may then be said to have begun, with plaster partitions here and there in horrifying evidence, the niches emptied of their treasures, and the fine old stained glass removed from the windows—and all, as was declared, in the spirit of "repairing and beautifying." "A great, wild country church," is its description about this time, "and as it appeared outwardly, so it was inwardly, ne'er beautify'd, nor adorn'd one whit." Not till 1853-57 was a general restoration, costing £15,000, inaugurated. Both internally and externally the edifice underwent a total renovation. Old and crumbled portions were pulled down and rebuilt; other parts were fronted anew; missing ornaments were supplied; ugly doorways were blocked up,[Pg 69] and one grand entrance made befitting the church. The renaissance was complete as it was judicious. There was just sufficient of the old left to show the original structure, and sufficient of the new imparted to save the venerable fane from crumbling to pieces. Externally, the east is certainly the finest part of the building, with its unrivalled window—58 feet high and 32½ feet wide, of nine lights, gracefully proportioned, the head filled with the most exquisite tracery-work, comprising no fewer than 263 circles. A uniquely ornamented gable, with a row of crosses on either shoulder, and a large cross at the apex, completes a highly finished centre. On either side stands out, in massive relief, a majestic buttress, containing full length statues of St. Peter, St. Paul, St James, and St. John, above which are light and elegant pinnacles. These great buttresses are flanked by the lesser ones of the aisles, tapering upwards with chastely carved spires—the whole forming an eastern front of great beauty and richness. The main entrance by a new doorway in the south transept is a triumph of the sculptor's skill. The great tower, 112 feet high, has been thoroughly renovated, and much of its former ornamentation restored. Of the interior, the nave is in length 39 feet, and in width about 60 feet. The Scots are said to have destroyed 100 feet of it in 1645, but that is quite uncertain. It has never been rebuilt, and has a serious effect on the general proportions, inducing a feeling of want of balance. Up to 1870 the nave was used as the parish church of St. Mary, and it was here—close by the great Norman columns—that Sir Walter Scott was[Pg 70] married to Charlotte Carpenter, on December 24th, 1797. The spot might well be indicated by a small memorial brass. The richly-decorated choir, in no respect inferior to that of any other English cathedral, is 134 feet long, 71 feet broad, and 75 feet high. The warm red of the sandstone, the blue roof powdered with golden stars, the great east window filled with stained glass, and the dark oak of the stalls, make up a picture that enforces attention before the architectural details can receive their due admiration.

The Cathedral contains several interesting monuments. Here is the tomb of Archdeacon Paley (1805), author of the "Evidences of Christianity" and "Horæ Paulinæ," both written at Carlisle, and the richly-carved pulpit inscribed to his memory. There are tablets to Robert Anderson (1833), the "Cumberland Bard;" to John Heysham, M.D. (1834), the statistician, and compiler of the "Carlisle Tables of Mortality;" George Moore (1876), the philanthropist; M. L. Watson (1847), the sculptor; Dean Cranmer (1848), Canon Harcourt (1870), and Dean Close (1882). Several military monuments are in evidence. One of the windows commemorates the five children of Archbishop Tait (then Dean), who died between March 6th and April 9th, 1856. Recumbent figures of Bishop Waldegrave (1869), Bishop Harvey Goodwin (1891) and Dean Close are by Acton Adams, Hamo Thorneycroft, R.A., and H. H. Armistead, R.A., respectively. The older altar-tombs and brasses to Bishop Bell, Bishop Everdon, and Prior Stenhouse, should not be overlooked, and attention may be drawn also to the quaint series of fifth-century paintings from[Pg 71] the monkish legends of St. Augustine, St. Anthony, and St. Cuthbert, and to the misereres of the stalls.

Scarcely less interesting than Carlisle itself is the immediate neighbourhood of the Border city. And with what sterling picturesqueness does it appeal to us! One does not wonder that Turner and others found some of their masterpieces here. A wondrously historic countryside, too, is all this pleasantly-rolling tableland, mile upon mile to the Liddesdale and Eskdale heights with the Langholm Monument fairly visible as a rule, and sometimes even the famous Repentance Tower opposite Hoddom Kirk. Within twenty miles or so of Carlisle, up through the old Waste and Debateable Lands, or over into the romantic Vale of the Irthing, the dividing-point betwixt Cumberland and Northumberland, the district is full of the most fascinating material for the geographer and the historian. It is impossible to do more than mention a few of its memory-moving names. At Burghby-Sands, Edward I., "the Hammer of the Scots," having offered up his litter before the high altar at Carlisle, vowing to reduce Scotland to the condition of a mere English province, was forced to succumb to a grimmer adversary than lay anywhere beyond the Solway. Bowness-by-the-Sea was the western terminus of the Roman Wall. Arthuret has its name from the "Flower of Kings," one of whose twelve battles is said to have been fought there. Archie Armstrong, jester to King James VI., lies buried in its churchyard. At Longtown, on the Esk, the Jacobite troops forded the river "shouther to shouther," as Lady Nairne's[Pg 72] lyric has it, dancing reels on the bank till they had dried themselves. Netherby, the locale of "Young Lochinvar," Lady Heron's song in "Marmion," is in the near neighbourhood. So are Gilnockie or the Hollows, Johnie Armstrong's home, and Gretna Green, that once so popular but now defunct shrine of Venus. All this once bleak and barren bog-land is under generous cultivation now to a large extent, stretching from the Sark to the Esk, and eastward to Canonbie Lea; it was the treacherously Debateable, or No Man's Land of moss-trooping times, the most troubled and unsafe period of Border history. Solway Moss, some seven miles in circumference, is not likely to be forgotten—by Scotsmen, at any rate. It was the disastrous Rout of the Solway which hastened James V.'s death from a broken heart.





(See pp. 36 and 74 )


The Irthing valley is replete with historical remains and literary associations. Over there, to the north of Bewcastle (Beuth's Castle), there is a celebrated Runic Cross nearly fifteen feet high, of the Caedmon order, similar to that at Ruthwell. The Irthing flows through the wide moorish wilderness known as Spade-Adam, or the Waste, crosses the Roman Wall at Gilsland, thence courses amongst some of the richest scenery in Cumberland until it meets the Eden. Gilsland Spa has long been noted for the excellence of its waters and the remarkable salubrity of the district. Scott stayed at the old Shaw's Hotel in July, 1797, not the present palatial Convalescent Home (as it now is) which was rebuilt after a fire about fifty years since. Charlotte Carpenter was a guest at Wardrew House, directly opposite. They met often, and the result[Pg 73] was love and marriage. On a huge boulder by the banks of the Irthing, where the glen comes to its steepest and wears its most enchanting aspect, Scott is said to have "popped the question," and the "Kissing Bush" where the compact was sealed is also pointed out close by. At Gilsland it is interesting to recall that one is to some extent in "Guy Mannering Land." A small private dwelling adjoining the Methodist Chapel claims to stand on the site of the notorious Mumps Ha', "a hedge ale-house, where the Border farmers of either country often stopped to refresh themselves and their nags on their way to and from the fairs and trysts in Cumberland." It was there that young Harry Bertram first met Dandie Dinmont and the weird figure of Meg Merrilies, who, by the way, was not buried at Upper Denton, as the guide-books say. It was the treacherous landlady, Meg Mumps or Margaret Carrick, who is there interred. The more important Meg—the real heroine of the story—was drowned in the Eden at Carlisle. Gilsland is a centre for some delightful excursions. Much of the Roman Wall may be visited from this centre, its two chief stations Borcovicus (Housesteads) and Burdoswald being within easy distances. The little Northumberland lakes, and the prettiest of them all, Crag Loch, the Nine Nicks of Thirlwall, seen from the Shaws with fine effect, Thirlwall and Blenkinsop Castles, Haltwhistle Church, all to the east, are objects of deep and abiding interest. Westward are Burdoswald—the Roman Amboglanna—covering an area of 5½ acres, and overlooking a singularly graceful bend of the Irthing (not unlike that on the Tweed at Bemersyde); Lanercost[Pg 74] Priory[A], founded by Robert de Vaux about 1166, frequently plundered by the Scots, and used now partly as the parish church and burial-place of the Carlisle family; Naworth,[B] the historic seat of the Earl of Carlisle, whose ancestor, Lord William Howard, was the famous "Belted Will" of Border story, who died in 1640:—

"His Bilboa blade, by marchmen felt,
Hung in a broad and studded belt;
Hence, in rude phrase, the Borderers still
Call noble Howard, 'Belted Will,'"—

and Triermain Castle, all but vanished, whence Scott's "Bridal of Triermain"—

"Where is the Maiden of mortal strain,
That may match with the Baron of Triermain?
She must be lovely, and constant and kind,
Holy and pure, and humble of mind,
Blithe of cheer, and gentle of mood,
Courteous, and generous, and noble of blood—
Lovely as the sun's first ray,
When it breaks the clouds of an April day,
Constant and true as the widow'd dove,
Kind as a minstrel that sings of love."

[A] Lanercost is a fine example of Early English. The church consists of a nave with north aisle, a transept with aisles on the east side used as monumental chapels and choir, a chancel, and a low square tower. The nave is used as the Parish Church. The crypt contains several Roman altars from Burdoswald, etc. Some of the inscriptions are of great interest.

[B] Naworth is said to be one of the oldest and best specimens existing of a baronial residence. It is associated largely with the turbulent times of Border warfare. "Belted Will," a terror to all marauders, is its best-known name, "a singular lover of venerable antiquities, and learned withal," as Camden describes him. The British Museum contains some of his letters, and his library is still preserved at Naworth. "Belted Will's" Tower, to the north-east of the Castle, is the most notable feature at Naworth.[Pg 75]


"Both are good, the streams of north and south, but he who has given his heart to the Tweed as did Tyro in Homer to the Enipeus, will never change his love." So does Mr. Andrew Lang remind us of his affection for Tweedside and the Border. Elsewhere he speaks of Tweed shrining the music of his cradle song, and the requiem he would most prefer—may that day be long in coming!

"No other hymn
I'd choose, nor gentler requiem dear
Than Tweed's, that through death's twilight dim,
Mourned in the latest Minstrel's ear."

Lockhart's description of Sir Walter's death-scene, so touching in its very simplicity, has never been matched in literary biography. From the first years of his life, Scott was wedded to the Tweed. It was his ancestral stream. And it stood for all that was best and fairest in Border story. It was by the Tweed that he won his greatest triumphs, and faced his greatest defeats, where he spent the happiest as well as the most strenuous period of his career. So that, to breathe his last breath by its pleasant banks—a desire oft repeated—was as natural as it was keen and eager. We know how at length he was borne back to Abbotsford, the house of his dreams, and how on one of those ideal days during the early autumn that crowning wish was realised; "It was a beautiful day, so warm that every window was wide open, and so perfectly still that the sound of all others most delicious to his ear—the gentle[Pg 76] ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles—was distinctly audible as we knelt around the bed and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes."

Of course, it is owing, in great measure, to Scott that the Tweed has so exalted a place in literature. To speak of the Tweed at once recalls Scott and all that the Tweed meant to him. Both in a sense are names inseparable and synonymous. It is almost entirely for Scott's sake that Tweedside has become one of the world-Meccas. What Scott did for the Tweed—the Border—renders it (to speak reverently) holy ground for ever. Hence the affection with which the world looks on Scott—as a patriot,—as one who has helped to create his country, and as a great literary magnet attracting thousands to it, and as the medium of some of the most pleasurable of mental experiences. Of the great names on Scotland's roll of honour, Scott, even more than all of them (even more than Burns), has wedded his country to the very best of humankind everywhere. But do not let us forget that Tweed had its lovers many before Scott's day. Burns's pilgrimage to the Border was a picturesque episode in his poetic history. "Yarrow and Tweed to monie a tune owre Scotland rings," he wrote, and other lines represent a warm admiration for the district. Tweed was a "wimpling stately" stream, and there were "Eden scenes on crystal Jed" scarcely less fascinating. James Thomson, the poet of the "Seasons," a Tweedsider, though the fact is often forgotten, pays grateful homage to the Tweed as the "pure parent-stream, whose pastoral banks first heard my Doric reed." Allan Ramsay and Robert Crawford,[Pg 77] West-country men both, came early under the spell of the fair river. Crawford's lines are painted with the usual exaggeration of the period:

"What beauties does Flora disclose!
How sweet are her smiles upon Tweed!
Yet Mary's, still sweeter than those,
Both nature and fancy exceed.
No daisy, nor sweet blushing rose,
Not all the gay flowers of the field,
Not Tweed, gliding gently through those,
Such beauty and pleasure does yield."

Hamilton of Bangour, best known for his "Braes of Yarrow," has an autumn and winter description of Tweedside which naturally suggests the like picture by Scott in the Introduction to Canto I. of "Marmion," and it is more than probable that Sir Walter had this in his mind when penning his own more perfect lines.





(See pp. 44 , 67 , 72 )


Robert Fergusson—Burns's "elder brother in the Muses," had his imagination fired by the memories of the Border, and was one of the first to celebrate that land over which lies the light of so much poetic fancy:

"The Arno and the Tiber lang
Hae run full clear in Roman sang;
But, save the reverence o' schools!
They're baith but lifeless dowy pools,
Dought they compare wi' bonny Tweed,
As clear as ony lammer-bead?"

Wordsworth, too, sang of the "gentle Tweed, and the green silent pastures," though his winsome Three Yarrows is the tie that most endears him to the Lowland hearts. Since Scott's day the voices in praise of Tweed have been legion. "Who, with a heart and a soul tolerably at ease within him, could fail to be happy, hearing as we do now the[Pg 78] voice of the Tweed, singing his pensive twilight song to the few faint stars that have become visible in heaven?" says John Wilson in his rollicking "Streams" essay (no "crusty Christopher" there, at any rate). Thomas Tod Stoddart, king of angling rhymers,

"Angled far and angled wide,
On Fannich drear, by Luichart's side;
Across dark Conan's current,"

and all over Scotland, but found not another stream to match with the Tweed:

"Dearer than all these to me
Is sylvan Tweed; each tower and tree
That in its vale rejoices;
Dearer the streamlets one and all
That blend with its Eolian brawl
Their own enamouring voices!"

Remember, too, Dr. John Brown's exquisite Tweed's Well meditation, a prose sermon to ponder over any Sabbath, and Ruskin's homely reverie—"I can never hear the whispering and sighing of the Tweed among his pebbles, but it brings back to me the song of my nurse as we used to cross by Coldstream Bridge, from the south, in our happy days—

"For Scotland, my darling, lies full in my view,
With her barefooted lasses, and mountains so blue."

One thinks also of George Borrow's fascination for the Scottish Border, when he asks ("Lavengro") "Which of the world's streams can Tweed envy, with its beauty and renown?" and of Thomas Aird's pathetic retrospect—"the ever-dear Tweed, whose waters flow continually through my heart, and make me often greet in my lonely evenings."[Pg 79] Nor do we forget John Veitch, that truest Tweedsman of his time, always musing on the Tweed, never at home but beside it, and of whose Romance and History there has been no abler exponent.

Of the name Tweed itself, the meaning and origin are uncertain, and it is hopeless to dogmatize on the subject except to say that there is an apparent connection with the Cymric Tay, Taff, Teith, and Teviot—more properly "Teiott," the common pronunciation above Hawick. Mr. Johnston ("Place-Names of Scotland") traces it to the Celtic twyad—"a hemming in"—from "twy to check or bind," which is a not unlikely derivation. As to the source of the Tweed there is the curious paradox that what passes for its source is not the real fons et origo of the stream. Poetically, the Tweed is said to take its rise in the tiny Tweed's Well among the Southern Highlands, 1250 feet above sea level, and close to where the marches of Peeblesshire, Lanarkshire, and Dumfriesshire meet. But strictly speaking, the correct source is the Cor or Corse Burn, a little higher up, which, dancing its way to the glen beneath, receives the outflow of the Well as a sort of first tributary. For purposes of romance, however, Tweed's Well will always be reckoned as the source, as indeed it must have been so regarded ages ago. The likelihood is that Tweed's Well was one of the ancient holy wells common to many parts of Scotland. And since tradition speaks of a Mungo's Well somewhere in these solitudes, the probability is that we have it here in the heart of these silent lonely hills. There is the tradition of a cross, too, at or near Tweed's Well, borne out in the place-name Corse, which, we[Pg 80] know, is good Scots for Cross. That such a symbol of the ancient faith stood here long since "to remind travellers of their Redeemer and to guide them withal across these desolate moors," is more than a mere picturesque legend. It is a prolific watershed this from which Tweed starts its seaward race. South and west, Annan and Clyde bend their way to the Solway and the Atlantic, as the quaint quatrain has it:

"Annan, Tweed, and Clyde
Rise a' oot o' ae hillside,
Tweed ran, Annan wan,
Clyde brak his neck owre Corra Linn."

Tweed turns its face to the north, and running for the most part, as old Pennecuik puts it, "with a soft yet trotting stream," it pursues a course of slightly over a hundred miles, and drains a basin of no less than 1870 square miles, a larger area than any other Scottish river except the Tay.





(See pp. 23 , 35 , 39 , 60 , 61 , 89 , 90 , 91 , 123 )


Tweed's Well lies in the bosom of solemn, bare hills. There is nothing attractive about the spot. Grey moorlands, riddled with innumerable inky peat-bogs, the whaups crying as Stevenson heard them in his dreams, and the bleat of an occasional sheep are the chief characteristics. There is little heather, and the hills are hardly so shapely as their neighbours further down the valley. A first glance is disappointing, but the memories of the place are compensation enough. For what a stirring place it must have been in the early centuries! Here, as tradition asserts, the pagan bard Merlin was converted to Christianity through the preaching of the Glasgow Saint Mungo. Here Michael Scot, the "wondrous wizard," pursued his mysteries.[Pg 81] And even the Flower of Kings himself wandered amongst those wilds, "of fresh aventours dreaming." One of his twelve battles is claimed for the locality. More historic, perhaps, is the picture of the good Sir James of Douglas (red-handed from dirking the Comyn) plighting his troth to the Bruce at Ericstane Brae, close to Tweed's Well, which latter spot, by the way, Dr. John Brown characteristically describes in one of his shorter "Horæ" papers. Readers of the "Enterkin" also will remember his reference to the mail-coach tragedy of 1831, when MacGeorge and his companion, Goodfellow, perished in the snow in a heroic attempt to get the bags through to Tweedshaws. At Tweedsmuir, (the name of the parish—disjoined from Drumelzier in 1643)—eight miles down, the valley opens somewhat, and vegetation properly begins. Of Tweedsmuir Kirk—on the peninsula between Tweed and Talla—Lord Cockburn said that it had the prettiest situation in Scotland. John Hunter, a Covenant martyr, sleeps in its bonnie green kirk-knowe—the only Covenant grave in the Border Counties outside Dumfries and Galloway. Talla Linns recalls the conventicle mentioned in the "Heart of Midlothian," at which Scott makes Davie Deans a silent but much-impressed spectator. In the wild Gameshope Glen, close by, Donald Cargill and James Renwick, and others lay oft in hiding. "It will be a bloody night this in Gemsop," are the opening words of Hogg's fine Covenant tale, the "Brownie of Bodsbeck." The Talla Valley contains the picturesque new lake whence Edinburgh draws its augmented water supply. Young Hay of Talla was one of Bothwell's[Pg 82] "Lambs," and suffered death for the Darnley murder. At the Beild—regaining the Tweed—Dr. John Ker, one of the foremost pulpiteers of his generation, was born in 1819. Oliver Castle was the home of the Frasers, Lords of Tweeddale before they were Lords of Lovat. The Crook Inn was a noted "howff" in the angling excursions of Christopher North and the Ettrick Shepherd. Mr. Lang thinks that possibly the name suggested the "Cleikum Inn" of "St. Ronan's Well." At the Crook, William Black ends his "Adventures of a Phæton" with the climax of all good novels, an avowal of love and a happy engagement. Polmood, near by, was the scene of Hogg's lugubrious "Bridal of Polmood," seldom read now, one imagines. Kingledoors in two of its place-names preserves the memory of Cuthbert and Cristin, the Saint and his hermit-disciple. Stanhope was a staunch Jacobite holding, one of its lairds being the infamous Murray of Broughton, Prince Charlie's secretary, the Judas of the cause. Murray, by the way, was discovered in hiding after Culloden at Polmood, the abode of his brother-in-law, Michael Hunter. Linkumdoddie has been immortalized in Burns's versicles beginning, "Willie Wastle dwalt on Tweed"—a study in idiomatic untranslateable Scots. Here is the picture of Willie's wife—a philological puzzle.

"She's bow-hough'd, she's hein-shinn'd,
Ae limpin leg a hand-breed shorter;
She's twisted right, she's twisted left,
To balance fair in ilka quarter;
She has a hump upon her breast,
The twin o' that upon her shouther;
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wadna gie a button for her.[Pg 83]
"Auld bandrons by the ingle sits,
An' wi' her loof her face a-washin';
But Willie's wife is nae sae trig
She dights her grunzie wi' a hushion;
Her walie nieves like midden-creels,
Her face wad 'fyle the Logan Water;
Sic a wife as Willie had,
I wadna gie a button for her."

At Drumelzier Castle the turbulent, tyrannical Tweedies reigned in their day of might. Of their ghostly origin, the Introduction to the "Betrothed" supplies the key. They were constantly at feud with their neighbours, specially the Veitches, and were in the Rizzio murder. See their history (a work of genuine local interest) written quite recently by Michael Forbes Tweedie, a London scion of the clan. In the same neighbourhood, the fragment of Tinnis Castle (there is a Tinnis on Yarrow, too,) juts out from its bold bluff, not unlike a robber's eyrie on the Rhine. Curiously, this is a reputed Ossian scene (see the poem, "Calthon and Colmal.") The "blue Teutha," is the Tweed—"Dunthalmo's town," Drumelzier. Merlin's Grave, near Drumelzier Kirk, should not be forgotten. Bower's "Scotichronicon" narrates the circumstances of his death: "On the same day which he foretold he met his death; for certain shepherds of a chief of a country called Meldred set upon him with stones and staves, and, stumbling in his agony, he fell from a high bank of the Tweed, near the town of Drumelzier (the ridge of Meldred), upon a sharp stake that the fishers had placed in the waters, and which pierced his body through. He was buried near the spot where he expired."[Pg 84]

"Ah! well he loved the Powsail Burn (i.e., the burn of the willows)
Ah! well he loved the Powsail glen;
And there, beside his fountain clear,
He soothed the frenzy of his brain.
Ah! Merlin, restless was thy life,
As the bold stream whose circles sweep
Mid rocky boulders to its close
By thy lone grave, in calm so deep.
For no one ever loved the Tweed
Who was not loved by it in turn;
It smiled in gentle Merlin's face,
It soughs in sorrow round his bourn."

A prophecy of Thomas the Rhymer—

"When Tweed and Powsail meet at Merlin's Grave,
England and Scotland shall one monarch have,"

is affirmed to have been literally fulfilled on the coronation day of James VI. and I. Passing on, we reach the resplendent Dawyck Woods. Here are some of the finest larches in the kingdom, the first to be planted in Britain, having that honour done them by the great Linnaeus himself, it is said. Stobo—semi-Norman and Saxon—was the plebania or mother-kirk of half the county. Here lies all that is mortal of Robert Hogg, a talented nephew of James Hogg. He was the friend and amanuensis of both Scott and Lockhart, whom he assisted in the Quarterly. Possessed of a keen literary sense, he would almost certainly have taken a high place in literature but for the consumption which cut short his promising career. (See "Life of Scott," vol. ix). At Happrew, in Stobo parish, Wallace is said to have suffered defeat from the English in 1304. One of the most perfect specimens (recently explored) of a Roman[Pg 85] Camp is in the Lyne Valley, to the left, a little above the Kirk of Lyne. On a height overlooking the Tarth and Lyne frowns the massive pile of Drochil, planned by the Red Earl of Morton, who never lived to occupy it, or to finish it, indeed, the "Maiden," in 1581, cutting short his pleasures, his treacheries and hypocrisies. Now we touch the Black Dwarf's Country—in the Manor Valley, to the right. Barns Tower, a very complete peel specimen, stands sentinel at the entrance to this "sweetest glen of all the South." It is around Barns that John Buchan's "John Burnet of Barns" centres. The Black Dwarf's grave is at Manor Kirk, and the cottage associated with his misanthropic career is also pointed out. Scott, in 1797, visited Manor (Hallyards) at his friend Ferguson's, and foregathered with David Ritchie, the prototype of one of the least successful and most tedious of his characters. (See William Chambers's account of the visit). St. Gordian's Cross, mentioned in a previous chapter, is further up the valley, where also are the ruins of Posso, a place-name in the "Bride of Lammermoor." Presently we come to Neidpath Castle, dominating Peebles, the key to the Upper Tweed fastnesses. When or by whom it was built is unknown. In 1795, it was held by "Old Q," fourth Duke of Queensberry. Wordsworth's sonnet on the spoliation of its magnificent woods (an act done to spite the heir of entail) stigmatises for all time the memory of one of the worst reprobates in history.





(See pp. 89 and 123 )


Both Scott and Campbell have sung of the unhappy Maid of Neidpath spent with grief and disease, waiting her lover on the Castle walls, and[Pg 86] beholding him ride past all unconscious of her identity.

"He came—he passed—a heedless gaze,
As o'er some stranger glancing;
Her welcome, spoke in faltering phrase,
Lost in his courser's prancing—
The Castle arch whose hollow tone
Returns each whisper spoken,
Could scarcely catch the feeble moan
Which told her heart was broken."

The literary associations of Peebles—a charming township—are outstanding. William and Robert Chambers (founders of Chambers's Journal) were natives. So were Thomas Smibert and John Veitch, poets and essayists both. Mungo Park (a Gideon Gray prototype) was the town's surgeon for a time—an eternal longing for Africa in his soul. "Meg Dods," the best landlady in fiction, was one of its heroines. And "Peblis to the Play," probably by James I., is a Scots classic. Traquair is poetic ground every foot of it. At its "bonnie bush" how many singers have caught inspiration from Crawford of Drumsoy in 1725, to Principal Shairp in our own day! Shairp's lyric may well be quoted in full. It is by far the finest contribution to modern Border minstrelsy. "Thank ye again for this exquisite song; I would rather have been the man to write it than Gladstone in all his greatness and goodness," was the exuberant "Rab" Brown's compliment to the author:

"Will ye gang wi' me and fare
To the bush aboon Traquair?
Owre the high Minchmuir we'll up and awa',
This bonny simmer noon,
While the sun shines fair aboon,
And the licht sklents saftly doun on holm and ha'.[Pg 87]
"And what would you do there,
At the bush aboon Traquair?
A lang dreich road, ye had better let it be;
Save some auld skrunts o' birk
I' the hillside lirk,
There's nocht i' the warld for man to see.
"But the blithe lilt o' that air,
'The Bush aboon Traquair,'
I need nae mair, it's eneuch for me;
Owre my cradle its sweet chime,
Cam' soughin' frae auld time,
Sae tide what may, I'll awa' and see.
"And what saw ye there
At the bush aboon Traquair?
Or what did ye hear that was worth your heed?
I heard the cushies croon
Thro' the gowden afternoon
And the Quair burn singing doun to the Vale o' Tweed.
"And birks saw I three or four,
Wi' grey moss bearded owre,—
The last that are left o' the birken shaw,
Whar mony a simmer e'en
Fond lovers did convene,
Thae bonny, bonny gloamins that are lang awa'.
"Frae mony a but and ben,
By muirland, holm, and glen,
They cam' ane hour to spen' on the greenwood swaird;
But lang hae lad an' lass I
Been lying 'neth the grass,
The green, green grass o' Traquair kirkyard.
"They were blest beyond compare,
When they held their trysting there,
Among thae greenest hills shone on by the sun;
And then they wan a rest,
The lownest and the best,
I' Traquair kirkyard when a' was dune.
"Now the birks to dust may rot,
Names o' lovers be forgot,
Nae lads and lasses there ony mair convene;
But the blithe lilt o' yon air
Keeps the bush aboon Traquair,
And the love that ance was there, aye fresh and green."
[Pg 88]




(See pp. 35 , 39 , 91 , 92 , 103 )


Traquair House—possibly Scott's Tully-Veolan, "pallid, forlorn, stricken all o'er with eld," claims to be the oldest inhabited house in Scotland. It certainly looks it. The great gate, flanked with the huge Bradwardine Bears, has not been opened since the '45. There seems no reason to question the legend. It is not so "foolish" as Mr. Lang supposes. Innerleithen, Scott's "St. Ronan's," is near at hand, and the peel of Elibank—a mere shell. Harden's marriage to Muckle-mou'ed Meg Murray was not quite accounted for in the traditional way, however,—a choice between the laird's dule-tree and the laird's unlovely daughter. The legend is not uncommon to German folk-lore. At Ashestiel, thrice renowned, Scott spent the happiest years of his life (1804-1812), writing "Marmion," the "Lady of the Lake," and the first draft of "Waverley." In many respects the place is more important to students of Scott than Abbotsford itself. Yet for a thousand who rush to Abbotsford only a very few find their way up here. Yair, a Pringle house, and Fairnalee, comfortable little demesnes, lie further down the Tweed. At the latter, Alison Rutherford wrote her version of the "Flowers of the Forest"—"I've seen the smiling of Fortune beguiling." Abbotsford was Cartley Hole first—not Clarty—which is a mere vulgar play on the original. From a small villa about 1811 it has grown to the present noble pile. After Scott's day, Mr. Hope Scott did much for the place. But it is of Sir Walter that one thinks. What a strenuous life was his here! What love he lavished on the very ground that was dear to him—in a double sense! And what longing for[Pg 89] home during that vain sojourn under Italian skies! "To Abbotsford; let us to Abbotsford!"—a desire now echoed on ten thousand tongues year by year from all ends of the earth. Behind Abbotsford are the Eildons, the "Delectable Mountains" of Washington Irving's visit, "three crests against a saffron sky" always in vision the wide Border over. Scott said he could stand on the Eildons and point out forty-three places famous in war and verse. "Yonder," he said, "is Lammermoor and Smailholm; and there you have Galashiels, and Torwoodlee, and Gala Water; and in that direction you see Teviotdale and the Braes of Yarrow, and Ettrick stream winding along like a silver thread to throw itself into the Tweed. It may be pertinacity, but to my eye these grey hills, and all this wild Border Country have beauties peculiar to themselves. When I have been for some time in the rich scenery about Edinburgh which is like ornamented garden land, I begin to wish myself back again among my own honest grey hills; and if I did not see the heather at least once a year, I think I should die." Melrose is the "Kennaquhair" of the "Monastery" and the "Abbot." Its glory, of course, is its Abbey, unsurpassed in the beauty of death, but all grace fled from its environment. Were it possible to transplant the Abbey together with its rich associations to the site of the original foundation by the beautiful bend at Bemersyde, Melrose would sit enthroned peerless among the shrines of our northern land. Within Melrose Abbey, near to the High Altar, the Bruce's heart rests well—its fitful flutterings o'er. Here, too, lie the brave Earl[Pg 90] Douglas, hero of Chevy Chase; Liddesdale's dark Knight—another Douglas; Evers and Latoun, the English commanders at Ancrum Moor, that ran so deadly red with the blood of their countrymen; and, according to Sir Walter, Michael Scot—

"Buried on St. Michael's night,
When the bell toll'd one, and the moon shone bright,
Whose chamber was dug among the dead,
When the floor of the chancel was stained red."

One is not surprised at Scott's love for Melrose. As the grandest ecclesiastical ruin in the country, it must be seen to be understood. Mere description counts for little in dealing with such a subject. Every window, arch, cloister, corbel, keystone, door-head and buttress of this excellent example of mediæval Gothic is a study in itself—all elaborately carved, yet no two alike. The sculpture is unequalled both in symmetry and in variety, embracing some of the loveliest specimens of floral tracery and the most quaint and grotesque representations imaginable. The great east oriel is its most imposing feature. But the south doorway and the chaste wheeled window above it are equally superb. For what is regarded as the finest view of the building, let us stand for a little at the north-east corner, not far from the grave of Scott's faithful factotum, Tom Purdie. Here the coup d'œil is very striking; and the contour of the ruins is realised to its full. Or if it be preferred, let us look at the pile beneath the lee light o' the moon—the conditions recommended in the "Lay."

"If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins grey.[Pg 91]
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white,
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruined central tower;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Then go—but go alone the while—
Then view St. David's ruined pile;
And, home returning, soothly swear
Was never scene so sad and fair!"

Three inscriptions—one inside, two in the churchyard, are worth halting by. "Heir lyis the Race of ye Hovs of Zair," touches many hearts with its simple pathos. "The Lord is my Light," is the expressive text (self-chosen) on Sir David Brewster's tomb—the greatest master of optics in his day; and the third, covering the remains of a former Melrose schoolmaster was frequently on the lips of Scott:

"The earth goeth on the earth,
Glist'ring like gold,
The earth goes to the earth
Sooner than it wold.
The earth builds on the earth
Castles and towers,
The earth says to the earth
All shall be ours."

If half the grace of Melrose is lost by reason of its environment, the situation of Dryburgh is queenly enough. It is assuredly the most picturesque monastic ruin in Great Britain. Scott's is the all-absorbing name, and as a matter of fact he would himself have become by inheritance the laird of Dryburgh, but for the financial folly of a[Pg 92] spendthrift grand-uncle. "The ancient patrimony," he tells us, "was sold for a trifle, and my father, who might have purchased it with ease, was dissuaded by my grandfather from doing so, and thus we have nothing left of Dryburgh but the right of stretching our bones there." So here, the two Sir Walters, the two Lady Scotts, and Lockhart, await the breaking light of morn. Dryburgh, be it noted, is in Berwickshire—in Mertoun parish, where (at Mertoun House) Scott wrote the "Eve of St. John." Not far off is Sandyknowe (not Smailholm, as it is generally designated) Tower, the scene of the ballad, and the cradle of Scott's childhood, where there awoke within him the first real consciousness of life, and where he had his first impressions of the wondrously enchanted land that lay within the comparatively small circle of the Border Country. Ruined Roxburgh, between Tweed's and Teviot's flow, and the palatial Floors Castle represent the best of epochs old and new, and even more than in Scott's halcyon school days is Kelso the "Queen of the South Countrie." Coldstream, lying in sylvan loveliness on the left bank of the Tweed—a noble river here—has been the scene of many a memorable crossing from both countries from the time of Edward I. to the Covenanting struggle. So near the Border, Coldstream had at one time a considerable notoriety for its runaway marriages, the most notable of which was Lord Brougham's in 1819. Within an easy radius of Coldstream are Wark Castle, the mere site of it rather—where in 1344 Edward III. instituted the Order of the Garter; Twizel Bridge, with its single Gothic arch, cleverly crossed by[Pg 93] Surrey and his men (it is the identical arch) at Flodden, that darkest of all dark fields for Scotland,

"Where shivered was fair Scotland's spear,
And broken was her shield."

Of Norham Castle, frowning like Carlisle, to the North, and set down as it were to over-awe a kingdom, Scott's description is always the best. Ladykirk Church was built by James IV. in gratitude for his escape from drowning while fording the Tweed. Last of all, we reach Berwick, at one period the chief seaport in Scotland—a "second Alexandria," as was said, now the veriest shadow of its former self. Christianized towards the close of the fourth century, according to Bede, as a place rich in churches, monasteries and hospitals, Berwick held high rank in the ecclesiastical world. Its geographical position, too, as a frontier town made it the Strasburg for which contending armies were continually in conflict. Century after century its history was one red record of strife and bloodshed. Its walls, like its old Bridge spanning the Tweed, were built in Elizabeth's reign, and its Royal Border Bridge, opened to traffic in 1850, was happily characterised by Robert Stephenson, its builder, as the "last act of the Union."[Pg 94]





(See pp. 39 and 92 )



Ettrick and Yarrow between them comprise most of Selkirkshire. The Teviot and Jed are the main arteries running through Roxburghshire, or Teviotdale, as was the ancient designation, colloquially Tividale and Tibbiedale. On the source-to-mouth principle—the most natural and the most instructive—the best approach into Teviotdale is by way of Langholm, locally the Langholm, pleasantly situated on the Dumfriesshire Esk, at the junction of the Ewes and Wauchope Waters. In the fine pastoral valley of the Ewes—the Yarrow of Dumfriesshire—we pass several places of note before striking Teviothead and the main course of the Teviot. At Wrae, William Knox, author of "The Lonely Hearth," and writer of the stanzas on "Mortality," so constantly quoted by Abraham Lincoln, had his home for a time. George Gilfillan, no mean judge, characterises him as the best sacred poet in Scotland. Further on is the birth-spot of another well-known singer, Henry Scott Riddell, whose patriotic "Scotland Yet" has won its way to the ends of the earth, wherever Scotsmen gather. At Unthank Kirkyard—none more lonely save St. Mary's on Yarrow, perhaps—we examine the graves of the hospitable and kindly Elliots of "Dandie Dinmont" immortality. Mosspaul Inn, lately restored, is close to the boundary between the two counties. From the Wisp Hill (1950 feet) the view on a clear day from Carlisle in the south to the distant north, is one to be remembered. The Wordsworths were at Mosspaul in 1803, and Dorothy's description is still fairly[Pg 95] correct: "The scene with its single dwelling, was melancholy and wild, but not dreary, though there was no tree nor shrub; the small streamlet glittered, the hills were populous with sheep; but the gentle bending of the valley and the correspondent softness in the forms of the hills were of themselves enough to delight the eye. The whole of the Teviot and the pastoral steeps about Mosspaul pleased us exceedingly."





(See pp. 43 , 49 , 63 , 93 )


At Teviothead we touch the Teviot proper. The upper basin of the Teviot is mainly a barren vale, flanked by lofty rounded hills. For a greater distance it is a strip of alluvial plain, screened by terraced banks clad with the rankest vegetation, and with long stretches of undulating dale-land, and overhung at from three to eight miles by terminating heights, and in its lower reaches it is a richly variegated champaign country, possessing all the luxuriance without any of the tameness of a fertile plain, and stretching away in resulting loveliness to the picturesque Eildons on the one hand and the dome-like Cheviots on the other. Teviothead, formerly Carlanrigg, is full of traditionary lore. Teviot Stone, extinct now, a landmark for centuries—its position being marked on some of our earliest maps—recalls Scott's favourite lines from the "Lay," imprinted on the Selkirk monument:

"By Yarrow's streams, still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way;
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my withered cheek;
Still lay my head by Teviot Stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The Bard may draw his parting groan."

Teviothead Churchyard contains the graves of[Pg 96] Johnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, and his gallants. James V. (a mere boy-king at the time) never planned a more despicable or more atrocious deed than the betrayal and summary execution of this most picturesque of the freebooters. And posterity has never forgiven him. Nor can it. Scott's "Minstrelsy" ballad commemorating the incident is far and away the most dramatic of its kind, Johnie's scathing answer to the King being specially characteristic:

"To seik het water beneith cauld ice,
Surely it is a greit follie;
I have asked grace at a graceless face,
But there is nane for my men and me!"

There is a tradition that the trees on which they were hanged became immediately blasted; and Scott, in parting with the Wordsworths directed them to look about for "some old stumps of trees," but "we could not find them," adds Miss Wordsworth. Hard by are the graves of Scott Riddell and his third son, William, a youth of remarkable promise. Teviothead Cottage, where Riddell resided till his death in 1870, is passed on the left. The church in which he preached (he was in charge of the then preaching station here) is now the parish school, and his monument, like a huge candle extinguisher, crowns the neighbouring Dryden Knowes. Still keeping to the Teviot, now a fair-sized stream, rich in the variety and beauty of its scenery—

"Pleasant Teviotdale, a land
Made blithe by plough and harrow"—

we pass Gledsnest and Colterscleuch, figuring in the well-known "Jamie Telfer" ballad; Commonside,[Pg 97] mentioned in "Kinmont Willie"; Northhouse, Teindside, Harwood, and Broadhaugh, snug farms all, till the hamlet of Newmill is reached, the quarrel scene between the "jovial harper" of the "Lay" and "Sweet Milk," "Bard of Reull," in which the latter was slain:

"On Teviot's side, in fight they stood,
And tuneful hands were stained with blood,
Where still the thorn's white branches wave
Memorial o'er his rival's grave."

Allan Cunningham's version of "Rattlin', Roarin' Willie" should be read in this connection. Branxholme (poetically Branksome) is a particularly interesting portion of the Teviot valley. Its Braes recall the old ditty:

"As I came in by Teviot side
And by the Braes of Branksome,
There first I saw my bonnie bride,
Young, smiling, sweet, and handsome."

And looming up before us is the massive white pile of Branxholme itself, the master-fort of the Teviot, and the key of the pass between the Tweed basin and Merrie Carlisle. The Castle occupies a strong position, has been much modernised, and is now a residence for Buccleuch's Chamberlain. Up to 1756, it was the chief seat of the Buccleuch family. Branxholme's main glory, however, is not its past history, or the pomp and circumstance surrounding it in the hey-day of its power. If there was "another Yarrow" to Wordsworth, there is "another Branxholme" to us. It is not the memory of the fighting barons of Buccleuch, with their tumultuous raids and unending quarrels, which draws the pilgrim's feet to Branxholme's[Pg 98] Tower, but the memory of events which the imagination of the Minstrel has conjured up, and which have made for themselves a local habitation and a name. For here Scott placed the leading incidents of the "Lay,"—the first and finest of his Border efforts:

"Nine-and-twenty knights of fame
Hung their shields in Branksome Hall,
Nine-and-twenty squires of name
Brought them their steeds to bower from stall."

From Branxholme to the russet-grey Peel of Goldielands is scarcely two miles. Minus gables or parapet now, and standing among the haystacks and buildings of a farm, it is still in tolerable preservation. Here dwelt amongst others of its old heroes, "the Laird's Wat, that worthie man," who led the Scots at the Reidswire in 1575. Not improbably is Goldielands the peel associated with Willie of Westburnflat's operations in the "Black Dwarf." At Goldielands Gate one gets a fine view to the right of the Borthwick valley,

"Where Bortha hoarse that loads the meads with sand,
Rolls her red tide to Teviot's western stand."

And up the Borthwick, a mile or two, on its steep bank sits Harden, a place of more than ordinary note to the Scott student. Here Auld Wat, Sir Walter's grandsire seven times removed, reigned a king among Border reivers, whose deeds of derring-do have been long shrined by the balladists, and graven deep on the tablets of memory. Hawick, the Glasgow of the Borders, comes next in sight,—where Slitrig and Teviot meet. An ancient town, but possessing few relics of antiquity, except St. Mary's Church, and the Tower Inn, a dwelling of[Pg 99] the Drumlanrig Douglases, with the mysterious Moat "where Druid shades still flitted round." The modernity of the place is, however, lost sight of annually in the "riding of the marches," a custom which prevails also in Selkirk and Langholm. It is the great public festival of the year, and dates from time immemorial. Its memories are mostly of Flodden, and the brave stand at Hornshole in the neighbourhood, the year after. The Flodden flag, splendidly "bussed," is carried in civic and cornetal procession with crowds continually singing—as only Teridom can—the rousing martial air of "Teribus," the Hawick slogan, which expresses more than any other the wild and defiant strain of the war-trump and the battle-shout. Hawick, including Wilton, has several elegantly architectured buildings, over a score of Tweed mills and factories, seventeen churches, and boasts a population of nearly twenty thousand.

From Hawick to Kelso the distance is 21 miles, with a finely undulating road all through. The railway journey via St. Boswells is about double the distance. Our way lies through some of the most storied scenery in the Lowlands. The names on the map will give us an idea of the exceedingly romantic character of this second half of the Teviot. Here we come into touch with such song-haunted tributaries as the Jed and Oxnam, the Rule and Kale, and Ale, and with many of the great houses whose history has contributed more than any other to the making of the Border Country. The names of Scott and Ker, Elliot and Douglas, Turnbull and Riddell are patent to every parish through which we pass. At Minto, the home of the Elliots and[Pg 100] seat of the present Indian Viceroy, one is reminded of the distinguished place which that family has held both in the stormy and in the more peaceful times of Border story. Here Jean Elliot wrote the "Flowers of the Forest," and Thomas Campbell his "Lochiel's Warning." From Minto Crags, crowned with Fatlips Castle and Barnhill's Bed, (729 feet) there is no more pleasing prospect in the Borderland. The windings of the Teviot are traceable for miles, the Liddesdale and Dumfriesshire heights hemming in the view on one side, and the blue Cheviots on the other. Ruberslaw rises immediately in front, with Denholm Dene on the right, and the narrow bed of the "mining Rule" on the left, while behind to the north are distinctly seen the three-coned Eildons, Earlston Black Hill, Scott's Sandyknowe, Hume Castle, and the wavy line of the Lammermoors. Hassendean (suggesting "Jock o' Hazeldean") Cavers, a Douglas house, where the pennon of the great Earl, and the Percy gauntlets are still shown; Denholm, Leyden's birthplace, Henlawshiel and Kirkton, scenes in his boyhood, lie all in the neighbourhood. Dr. Chalmers was for a time assistant in Cavers Kirk, and in later life delighted to recall his connection with the Border district. Adjoining Minto, Ancrum stands bonnie on Ale Water—a village of considerable antiquity. Its Cross, dating from David I.'s time, is one of the best-preserved of the market-crosses of the Border. Ancrum was the birthplace of Dr. William Buchan of "Domestic Medicine" celebrity, and John Livingston, its minister during the Covenant, was a man of mark and piety in his day. The place naturally suggests[Pg 101] Ancrum Moor, a mile or two to the north-west, one of the last great battlefields of the international struggle. In February, 1544, an English army under Sir Ralph Evers and Sir Brian Latoun desolated the Scottish frontier as far north as Melrose, defacing the Douglas tombs in the abbey. On returning with their booty towards Jedburgh, they were overtaken at Ancrum Moor, and severely beaten by a Scottish force led by the Earl of Angus and Scott of Buccleuch. In this battle, according to tradition, fought Maiden Lilliard, a brave Scotswoman from Maxton, who fell beneath many wounds and was buried on the spot. Her grave, in the midst of a thick fir-wood, carries the somewhat doggerel epitaph:

"Fair Maiden Lilliard
Lies under this stane;
Little was her stature,
But muckle was her fame
Upon the English loons
She laid monie thumps,
An' when her legs were cuttit off,
She fought upon her stumps."[A]

[A] An attempt has been made to discredit this story by an appeal to the antiquity of the place-name, which is admittedly much earlier than Lilliard's day. This, however, does not dispose of the tradition. The likelihood is that originally the first line was really "the Fair Maid of Lilliard."

The monument has been frequently restored. Lady John Scott made the last repairing touches, adding the words:

"To a' true scotsmen.
By me it's been mendit,
To your care I commend it."




(See pp. 72 and 96 )


The Jed, joining the Teviot close to Jedfoot Station, reminds us that the county town of Rox[Pg 102]burgh—Jedburgh—is within easy access, and the fascinating valley of the Jed which Burns so vigorously extolled. The Jed takes its rise between Needslaw and Carlintooth on the Liddesdale Border. Its general course is east and north, and its length about seventeen miles. The places of chief interest on its banks are Southdean, where the Scottish chiefs assembled previous to Otterburn, and where the poet Thomson spent his boyhood; Old Jedworth, the original township, a few grassy mounds marking the spot; Ferniherst Castle, a Ker stronghold; Lintalee, the site of a Douglas camp described in Barbour's "Bruce;" the Capon Tree, a thousand years old, one of the last survivors of "Jedworth's forest wild and free;" and the Hundalee hiding caves. The charm of Jedburgh consists in its old-world character and its semi-Continental touches. Its fine situation early attracted the notice of the Scottish Kings, though Bishop Ecfred of Lindisfarne is believed to have been its true founder. He could not have chosen a more sweet or appropriate nook for his little settlement. Nestling in the quiet valley, and creeping up the ridge of the Dunion, the song of the river ever in its ears, freshened by the scent of garden and orchard, and surrounded by finely-wooded heights, Nature has been lavish in filling with new adornments, as years sped by, a spot always bright and fair.

"O softly Jed! thy sylvan current lead
Round every hazel copse and smiling mead,
Where lines of firs the glowing landscape screen,
And crown the heights with tufts of deeper green."

The modern beauty of the place notwithstanding, Jedburgh's history has been a singularly troubled one.[Pg 103] As a frontier town and the first place of importance north of the Cheviots, it was naturally a scene of strife and bloodshed. Around it lay the famous Jed Forest, rivalling that of Ettrick. The inhabitants were brave warriors, and noted for the skill with which they wielded the Jeddart staff or Jedwood axe. Their presence at the Reidswire decided that skirmish in favour of the Scottish Borderers:

"Then rose the slogan wi' ane shout,
Fye, Tynedale, to it! Jeddart's here."

And at Flodden the men from the glens of the Jed were conspicuous for their heroism. Jedburgh Abbey is the chief "lion" of the locality. Completer than Kelso and Dryburgh, and simpler and more harmonious than Melrose, it stands in the most delightful of situations, girt about with well-kept gardens, overlooking the bosky banks of the Jed—a veritable poem in Nature and Art. Queen Mary's House (restored) the scene of her all but mortal illness in 1566 is still existing, and well worth a visit. The literary associations of the burgh are more than local. James Thomson was a pupil at its Grammar School. Burns was made a burgess during his Border tour in 1787. Scott made his first appearance as a criminal counsel at Jedburgh, pleading successfully for his poacher client. The Wordsworths visited Jedburgh in 1803. Sir David Brewster and Mary Somerville were natives, and here the "Scottish Probationer" lived and died. Samuel Rutherford was born at Crailing, the next parish, where also David Calderwood, the Kirk historian, was minister. Cessford Castle, in Eckford parish, was the residence of the redoubtable "Habbie Ker," ancestor of the Dukes of Roxburghe. Marlefield, "where[Pg 104] Kale wimples clear 'neath the white-blossomed slaes," is a supposed scene (erroneous) of the "Gentle Shepherd." Yetholm, on the Bowmont, near the Great Cheviot, has been the headquarters of Scottish gypsydom since the 17th century. Opposite Floors Castle, at the confluence of the Tweed and Teviot is the green tree-clad mound with a few crumbling walls, all that remains of the illustrious Castle of Roxburgh, one of the strongest on the Borders, the birthplace and abode of kings, and parliaments, and mints, and so often a bone of bitter contention between Scots and English. The town itself, the most important on the Middle Marches, has entirely disappeared, its site and environs forming now some of the most fertile fields in the county:

"Roxburgh! how fallen, since first, in Gothic pride,
Thy frowning battlements the war defied,
Called the bold chief to grace thy blazoned halls,
And bade the rivers gird thy solid walls!
Fallen are thy towers; and where the palace stood,
In gloomy grandeur waves yon hanging wood.
Crushed are thy halls, save where the peasant sees
One moss-clad ruin rise between the trees;
The still green trees, whose mournful branches wave
In solemn cadence o'er the hapless grave.
Proud castle! fancy still beholds thee stand,
The curb, the guardian, of this Border land;
As when the signal flame that blazed afar,
And bloody flag, proclaimed impending war,
While in the lion's place the leopard frowned,
And marshalled armies hemmed thy bulwarks round."




(See pp. 98 , 99 )


[Pg 105]


To a shepherd in Canada Dr. Norman Macleod is said to have remarked, "What a glorious country this is!" "Ay," said the man, "it is a very good country." "And such majestic rivers!" "Oh, ay," was all the reply. "And such good forests!" "Ay, but there are nae linties in the woods, and nae braes like Yarrow!" Of course, the answer was from a purely exile point of view, but even to those of the Old Country the name of Yarrow wields the most wondrous fascination. Like Tweed, Yarrow is known everywhere, for who has not heard of its "Dowie Dens," or of its lovers' tragedies? Certainly no stream has been more besung. The name is redolent of all that is most pathetic in Border poetry. This is the centre of the Border ballad country—the birthplace, or, at all events, the nursing-ground of a romance than which there is none richer or more extensive on either side of the Border. The Yarrow is the Scottish Rhine-land on a small scale, even more so than the Tweed. Tweedside, indeed, has not a tithe of Yarrow's ballad wealth, and the Tweed ballads and folk-lore are absolutely different in respect both of subject-matter and of manner. The curious feature about Yarrow is the wonderful sameness which characterises the whole of its minstrelsy. For hundreds of years that has been so. Sadness is the uppermost note that is sounded. All through we are face to face with a feeling of dejection as remarkable as it is common. One could have understood a stray effusion or so couched in this strain, but for an entire minstrelsy to[Pg 106] breathe such a spirit is extraordinary. Why should Yarrow be the personification, as it were, of a grief and a melancholy that nothing seems able to assuage? Is there anything in the scenery to account for it—anything in the physical conditions of the glen itself that solves the secret? There is, and there isn't. To a mere outsider—a mere summer tripper hurrying through—Yarrow is little different from others of the southland valleys. Its main features are identical with those of the Ettrick, and the Tweed uplands, or with the Ewes and the Teviot. All of them exhibit the same pastoral stillness. The same play of light and shade are on their hills. The same soothing spirit broods over them. But of Yarrow alone it is the element of sadness that prevails. To understand this, one has to live in Yarrow—to come under the influence of its environment. And whether it be fancy or not, whether it be the result of one's reading, and of one's pre-conceived notions of the place, the Yarrow landscape does lend itself to the realisation of that feeling which the ballads so well portray. The configuration of the glen as seen especially from a little above Yarrow Manse—the "Dowie Dens" of popular tradition—together with its climatic conditions, may very easily interpret for us the spirit of those old singers. Here, if anywhere in the valley, the answer to the Yarrow enigma will be found. Professor Veitch thinks that the whole district affords such an answer: "Nor will anyone," he says, "who is familiar with the Vale of Yarrow have had much difficulty in understanding how it is suited to pathetic verse. The rough and broken, yet clear, beautiful, and[Pg 107] wide-spreading stream has no grand cliffs to show; and it is not surrounded by high and overshadowing hills. Here and there it flows placidly, reflectively, in large liquid lapses, through an open valley of the deepest summer green; still, let us be thankful, in its upper reaches at least, mantled by nature and untouched by plough and harrow. There is a placid monotone about its bare treeless scenery—an unbroken pastoral stillness on the sloping braes and hillsides, as they rise, fall, and bend in a uniformly deep colouring. The silence of the place is forced upon the attention, deepened even by the occasional break in the flow of the stream, or by the bleating of the sheep that, white and motionless amid the pasture, dot the knowes. We are attracted by the silence, and we are also depressed. There is the pleasure of hushed enjoyment. The spirit of the scene is in those immortal lines:—

"Meek loveliness is round thee spread
A softness still and holy;
The grace of Forest charms decayed
And pastoral melancholy."

Those deep green grassy knowes of the valley are peculiarly susceptible of change. In the morning with a blue sky, or with breaks of sunlight through the fleeting clouds, the green hillsides and the stream smile and gleam in sympathy with the cheerfulness of heaven. But under a grey sky, or at the gloaming, the Yarrow wears a peculiarly wan aspect—a look of sadness. And no valley I know is more susceptible of sudden change. The spirit of the air can speedily weave out of the mists that gather upon the massive hills at the heads of[Pg 108] the Megget and the Talla, a wide-spreading web of greyish cloud—the 'skaum' of the sky—that casts a gloom over the under green of the hills; and dims the face of loch and stream in a pensive shadow. The saddened heart would readily find there fit analogue and nourishment for its sorrow. Which is all very true. But, as has been said, Tweed and Teviot show exactly these conditions, and what of their minstrelsy remains is not touched with this strangely morose sense. May not the solution lie in the very legend of the "Dowie Dens" itself, and in the remarkable cup-like configuration of the valley as seen from the point already indicated and under the wan aspects which are admittedly a distinctive feature of the Yarrow at all seasons of the year? Out of this have emerged very probably the spirit of the balladists and their ballads. One after another have simply followed suit, and the likelihood is that had gladness and not gloom been the burden of some far back strain, we should not have had the Yarrow we possess to-day. Men of the most diverse temperaments have come under the sad spell of the Yarrow. The most lighthearted sons of song have succumbed to the general feeling. Wordsworth himself would have preferred to strike another note, but the enchantment of the spot held him fast:

"O that some Minstrel's harp were near
To utter notes of gladness,
And chase this silence from the air,
That fills my heart with sadness!"

All the verse writers of the last century were mere continuators of their fellow-bards centuries before. There are, to be sure, some flippant spirits who[Pg 109] would dare to alter the very atmosphere of Yarrow, but what a poor attempt at the impossible! Yarrow must ever abide the embodiment of the most heart-piercing, and at the same time, the most winsome melody the world has listened to.

Popularly speaking, the best of the Yarrow ballads concerns itself with the famous "Dowie Dens" tragedy, of which there seems to be some authentic reference in the Selkirk Presbytery Record for 1616. It is there narrated how Walter Scott of Tushielaw made "an informal and inordinate marriage with Grizell Scott of Thirlestane without consent of her father." Just three months later, the same Record contains entry of a summons to Simeon Scott, of Bonytoun, an adherent of Thirlestane, and three other Scotts "to compear at Melrose to hear themselves excommunicated for the horrible slaughter of Walter Scott." We have here probably the precise incident on which the unknown "makar" founded his crude but intensely picturesque and dramatic lay. How much of womanly winsomeness and heroism, of knightly dignity and daring, and the unconquerable strength of love are portrayed in the following stanzas! There are, indeed, few ballads in any language that match its strains:

"She kiss'd his cheek, she kaim'd his hair,
As oft she had done before, O;
She belted him with his noble brand,
And he's away to Yarrow.
*     *     *     *     *     *    
"'If I see all, ye're nine to ane;
And that's an unequal marrow;
Yet will I fight, while lasts my brand,
On the bonnie banks of Yarrow.'[Pg 110]
*     *     *     *     *     *    
"Four has he hurt, and five has slain;
On the bloody braes of Yarrow,
Till that stubborn knight came him behind,
And ran his body thorough.
*     *     *     *     *     *    
"Yestreen I dream'd a dolefu' dream;
I fear there will be sorrow!
I dream'd I pu'd the heather green
Wi' my true love on Yarrow.
*     *     *     *     *     *    
"She kiss'd his cheek, she kaimed his hair;
She search'd his wounds all thorough;
She kiss'd them till her lips grew red,
On the dowie houms of Yarrow."

A fragment of rare beauty, believed to be based on the same incident (unlikely however) was one of Scott's special favourites. Rather does it shrine a similar tragedy, one of many such which must have been common enough in those troubled and lawless times. How melting is the pathos of the following verses, for instance!

"Willie's rare and Willie's fair,
And Willie's wondrous bonny,
And Willie's hecht to marry me,
Gin e'er he married ony.
"Yestreen I made my bed fu' braid,
This night I'll make it narrow,
For a' the livelong winter night,
I'll lie twin'd of my marrow.
She sought him east, she sought him west,
She sought him braid and narrow;
Syne, in the cleaving of a craig
She found him drown'd in Yarrow.

Somewhat akin is the "Lament of the Border Widow," located at Henderland, in Meggetdale, not far from St. Mary's Loch. In the preface to this ballad in the "Minstrelsy," Scott states that it was "obtained from recitation in the Forest of[Pg 111] Ettrick, and is said to relate to the execution of Cockburn of Henderland, a Border freebooter, hanged over the gate of his own tower by James V. in the course of that memorable expedition in 1529 which was fatal to Johnie Armstrong, Adam Scott of Tushielaw, and many other marauders." The grave of "Perys of Cockburne and hys wyfe Marjory" on a wooded knoll at Henderland, is still pointed out. But the historicity of the ballad has been questioned from the statement (which seems to be correct) that Cockburn was actually executed at Edinburgh, instead of at his own home. There is no evidence, however, to assume that the ballad commemorates this particular occurrence or that it has any connection with the grave referred to. For genuine balladic merit it will be difficult to match:

My love he built me a bonny bower,
And clad it a' wi' lilye flower,
A brawer bower ye ne'er did see
Than my true love he built for me.
There came a man, by middle day
He spied his sport, and went away,
And brought the King that very night,
Who brake my bower and slew my knight.
He slew my knight, to me sae dear;
He slew my knight, and poin'd his gear;
My servants all for life did flee,
And left me in extremitie.
I sewed his sheet, making my mane;
I watched the corpse myself alane;
I watch'd his body night and day;
No living creature came that way.
I took his body on my back,
And whiles I gaed, and whiles I sat;
I digg'd a grave, and laid him in,
And happ'd him with the sod sae green.[Pg 112]
But think na ye my heart was sair,
When I laid the moul' on his yellow hair;
O think na ye my heart was wae,
When I turned about away to gae?
Nae living man I'll love again,
Since that my lovely knight is slain,
Wi ae lock of his yellow hair,
I'll chain my heart for evermair.




(See pp. 116 )


One might speak, too, of the "Douglas Tragedy," the scene of which is laid in the Douglas Glen, in the heart of the quiet hills forming the watershed betwixt Tweed and Yarrow. Here lived the "Good Sir James"—Bruce's right-hand man, who strove to carry his heart to the Holy Land. It was from this Tower at Blackhouse that Margaret the Fair was carried off by her lover, and about a mile further up on the hillside the seven stones marking the spot where Lord William alighted and slew the Lady's seven brothers in full pursuit of the pair, are objects of curious interest. This ballad, it is interesting to note, is one widely diffused throughout Europe, being specially rich in Danish, Icelandic, Norse, and Swedish collections. Indeed, almost all the Yarrow ballads—and many others—are common to Continental volks-lieder, and are found in extraordinary profusion from Iceland to the Peloponesus. Here is evidence, by no means slight, of the theory that ballads originate from a common stock, and that in the course of ages they have simply become transplanted and localized. Then the Yarrow valley contains the scene of the "Song of the Outlaw Murray"—a distinctively Border production (74 verses in all) composed during the reign of James V. Murray divides with Johnie Armstrong the honour of being the Border Robin Hood,[Pg 113] but to Murray a very different treatment was meted out. The Outlaw's lands at Hangingshaw and elsewhere were his own, though he held them minus a title. James fumed at this, and determined to bring the Forest chief to submission:

"The King of Scotland sent me here,
And, gude Outlaw, I am sent to thee;
I wad wot of how ye hald your lands,
O man, wha may thy master be?"
"Thir lands are MINE! the Outlaw said:
I ken nae King in Christendie;
Frae England I this Forest won
When the King and his knights were not to see."

Upon which the King's Commissioner assures the Outlaw that it will be worse for him if he fails to give heed to the royal desire:

"Gif ye refuse to do this
He'll compass baith thy lands and thee;
He hath vow'd to cast thy castle down
And mak a widow of thy gay lady."

But Murray is defiant, and James is equally resolved to crush him. Friends are pressed into the Outlaw's service, and very soon he has a goodly number of troopers all ready to render service in the hour of their kinsman's need, well knowing that in aiding him they would be doing the best thing for themselves, as "landless men they a' wad be" if the King got his own way in Ettrick Forest. But, like all good ballads, this, too, ends happily. A compromise is effected, by which the Outlaw obtains the post he had long coveted—Sheriff of the Forest:

"He was made Sheriff of Ettrick Forest,
Surely while upward grows the tree;
And if he was na traitour to the King,
Forfaulted he should never be.[Pg 114]
"Wha ever heard, in ony times,
Siccan an Outlaw in his degree
Sic favour get before a King
As the Outlaw Murray of the Forest free?"

Of right "Tamlany"—by far the finest of the Border fairy ballads—belongs more to Ettrick than to Yarrow. The scene is laid in Carterhaugh, at the confluence of the two streams, two miles above Selkirk. The ballad (24 stanzas) is too long to quote, but may be read in all good collections. For the same reason also we must pass over the "Battle of Philiphaugh," commemorating Leslie's victory over Montrose in 1645; and the "Gay Goss-Hawk," the dramatic ending of which is laid at St. Mary's Kirk, high upon the hillside overlooking the waters of the Loch. Nothing is left now save the site, and a half-deserted burying-ground where "Covenanter and Catholic, Scotts, and Kers and Pringles—all sorts and conditions of men—sleep their long sleep at peace together." Among the shrines of Yarrowdale, this is not the least notable. Like the grave of Keats outside the walls of Rome, as some one has said, "it would almost make one in love with death to be buried in so sweet a spot among the heather and brackens, and the sighing of the solitary mountain ash." St. Mary's Loch lies shimmering at our feet. Scott's "Marmion" picture is still wonderfully correct:

"Oft in my mind such thoughts awake,
By lone Saint Mary's silent lake;
Thou know'st it well—nor fen, nor sedge
Pollute the pure lake's crystal edge;
Abrupt and sheer, the mountains sink
At once upon the level brink;
And just a trace of silver sand
Marks where the water meets the land.[Pg 115]
Far in the mirror, bright and blue,
Each hill's huge outline you may view;
Shaggy with heath, but lonely bare,
Nor tree, nor bush, nor brake is there,
Save where, of land, yon slender line
Bears thwart the lake the scatter'd pine,
Yet even this nakedness has power,
And aids the feeling of the hour."

All this delightsome countryside is Hogg-land too, let us remember, as well as Scott-land. For here, in ballad-haunted Yarrow, the immortal James spent the best years of his life, failing so tantalizingly as farmer, but as poet, "King of the Mountain and Fairy school," dreaming so well of that most bewitching of all his conceptions—"Bonnie Kilmeny." Yonder, overlooking Tibbie Shiel's "cosy beild"—a howff of the Noctes coterie—stands the solitary white figure of the beloved Shepherd as Christopher North's prophetic soul felt that it must be some day. Hogg was born in the neighbouring Ettrick valley—in 1770 presumably. His birth-cottage is extinct now, but a handsome memorial marks the spot. Most of his life, as has been said, was passed in the sister vale, first at Blackhouse, then at Mount Benger, and at Altrive (now Eldinhope), where he died three years after his truest of friends—Sir Walter. The Ettrick homeland guards his dust. Close by is the resting-place of Thomas Boston, that earlier "Ettrick Shepherd" whose "Fourfold State" and "Crook in the Lot" are not yet forgotten. In the sequestered Yarrow churchyard sleeps Scott's maternal great-grandfather, John Rutherford, who was minister of the parish from 1691 to 1710. Scott spoke of Yarrow as the "shrine of[Pg 116] his ancestors," and himself, like Hogg, and Willie Laidlaw, frequently worshipped within its old grey walls. Further down the stream, the "shattered front of Newark's towers" reminds us that here Scott placed the recital of the "Lay." He would fain have fitted up the ancient fabric as a residence, had it been possible. Almost opposite, the birthplace of Mungo Park, the first of the knight-errantry of Africa, attracts attention, and a mile or two nearer Selkirk, are Philiphaugh, and "sweet Bowhill," the two finest domains in the Forest. The Covenanters' Monument within Philiphaugh grounds is worthy of notice, and on the Ettrick side, Kirkhope and Oakwood, both in fairly good repair, are excellent specimens of the peel period. At Selkirk, the capital of Ettrickdale, Scott's statue as "the Shirra"—a most admirable representation—looks out at scenes upon which his eyes in life must often have feasted. Here we read the lines that express his heart's deep love for a district interwoven so closely with all the years of his working life:

"By Yarrow's streams still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way;
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my wither'd cheek."





[Pg 117]


To the present writer, the valley of the Leader, or Lauderdale, has attractions and memories that are second to none in the Border. "Here, first,"—to use Hogg's lines—

"He saw the rising morn,
Here, first, his infant mind unfurled
To ween the spot where he was born
The very centre of the world."

Lauderdale constitutes one of the "three parts" into which Berwickshire, like Ancient Gaul, is divided. The others are the Merse, (i.e., March-Land)—often a distinctive designation for the entire county, but applicable especially to the low-lying lands beside the Tweed; Lammermoor, so named from the Lammermoor Hills ranging across the county from Soutra Edge and Lammer Law in the extreme north-west, to the coastline at Fast Castle and St. Abbs. Lauderdale, the westernmost division, running due north and south, embraces simply the basin of the Leader and its tributaries so far as the basin is in Berwickshire. Its total length is not more than twenty-one miles, from Kelphope Burn, the real origin of the Leader, to Leaderfoot, about two miles below Melrose, where it meets the waters of the Tweed. Leaderdale and Lauderdale are but varieties of the name. A little off the beaten track, perhaps, it can be easily reached by rail to St. Boswells and Earlston, or to Lauder itself, from Fountainhall, on the Waverley Route, by the light railway recently opened. Its upper course among the Lammermoors is through bleak, monotonous hill scenery; but[Pg 118] the middle and lower reaches pass into a fine series of landscapes—the "Leader Haughs" of many an olden strain—- flanked by graceful green hills and swells, and plains, that are hardly surpassed in Scotland for agricultural wealth and beauty. Of Berwickshire generally, it may be said that it has few industries and no mineral wealth to speak of. Its business is chiefly in one department—agriculture. For that the soil is particularly well adapted. Especially is this true of the Merse and Lauderdale districts, where the farmers take a high place in agricultural affairs, many of them being recognised experts and authorities on the subject. Thousands of acres on the once bald and featureless hill-lands of Lauderdale have been brought within the benign influence of plough and harrow, and are choice ornaments in a county famous for its agricultural triumphs all the world over. But Romance, rather than agriculture, is the true glory of the Leader Valley. It will be difficult to find a locality—Yarrow excepted—which is more under the spell of the past. May not Lauderdale, indeed, be claimed as the very birthplace of Scottish melody itself? Robert Chambers styled it "the Arcadia of Scotland," and was not Thomas of Ercildoune the "day-starre of Scottish poetry?"

This, too, is the country of St. Cuthbert. At Channelkirk, he was probably born. At all events the first light of history falls upon him here, as a shepherd lad, watching his flocks by the Leader, and striving to think out the deep things of the divine life, with the most ardent longings in his soul after it. The traditional meadow, whence he beheld the vision which changed his career,[Pg 119] is still pointed out, and his reputed birthplace at Cuddy Ha' keeps his memory green amongst those sweet refreshing solitudes. It is interesting to note Berwickshire's connection with the three most famous Borderers of history—St. Cuthbert, Thomas the Rhymer, and Walter Scott, of Merse extraction, whose dust Berwickshire holds as its most sacred trust.

Lauder and Earlston are the only places of importance in the valley. The former—it is, by the way, the only royal burgh in the shire—boasts a considerable antiquity. It is still a quaint-looking but clean town, with long straggling street, and one or two buildings—the parish kirk and Tolbooth—offering decidedly Continental suggestions. Lauder's old-worldness and isolation are at an end, however. After much agitation, a railway-line now connects it with the rest of the world, and already the signs of a new life are apparent. Within a very few years the inevitable changes will be sure to have passed over this once quiet and exclusive little town. It is the "Maitland blude," which dominates Lauder, and Thirlestane Castle, built, or renovated rather, in the time of Charles II., is still a place to see. Amongst Scottish families, the Maitlands were first in place and power. Not a few of them were greatly distinguished as statesmen and men of letters—the blind poet and ballad-collector, Sir Richard; William Maitland, the celebrated Secretary Lethington; Chancellor Maitland, author of the satirical ballad, "Against Sklanderous Tongues;" Thomas, and Mary, Latin versifiers both; and the infamous "Cabal" Duke, the only bearer of the title. Within the well-kept policies[Pg 120] of Thirlestane, tradition has located the site of the historic Lauder Bridge, so fatal to James III.'s favourites in 1482. Dr. John Wilson, of Bombay, Orientalist and scholar, was born at Lauder in 1804, and James Guthrie, the first Scottish martyr after the Reformation, was its minister for a short period.

Earlston is seven miles down stream from Lauder. Before reaching the town of the Rhymer some spots of interest call for notice. At St. Leonard's—a little way out—a hospital off-shoot of Dryburgh, lived Burne the Violer, the last of the minstrel fraternity, a supposed prototype of the Minstrel of the "Lay," and author of the fine pastoral poem, "Leader Haughs and Yarrow," the verse-model for Wordsworth's "Three Yarrows." One verse was a great favourite with Scott and Carlyle, both of whom were known to repeat it frequently:—

"But Minstrel Burne can not assuage
His grief, while life endureth,
To see the changes of this age,
Which fleeting time procureth;
For mony a place stands in hard case,
Where blythe folk ken'd nae sorrow,
With Humes that dwelt on Leader-side,
And Scotts that dwelt on Yarrow."

Blainslie, famous for its oats ("There's corn enough in the Blainslies"), and Whitslaid Tower, a long ago holding of the Lauder family, are passed a mile or two on. At Birkhill and Birkenside the road forks leftwards to Legerwood, where Grizel Cochrane of Ochiltree (afterwards Mrs. Ker of Morriston), heroine of the stirring mail-bag adventure narrated in the "Border Tales," sleeps in its lately restored[Pg 121] kirk chancel. Chapel, and Carolside with a fine deer park, and most charming of country residences—at the latter of which Kinglake wrote part of his "Crimean War"—sit snugly to the right, in the bosky glen below.






Earlston, the Ercildoune of olden time—name much better suited to the quiet beauty of its charming situation—has no unimportant place both in Scottish history and romance. It has been honoured by many royal visits. Here David the Sair Sanct subscribed the Foundation Charter of Melrose Abbey in 1136, and his son the Confirmatory Charter in 1143. Other royal visitors followed; there James IV. encamped for a night on his way from Edinburgh to Flodden; Queen Mary made a brief stay at Cowdenknowes as she passed from Craigmillar to Jedburgh; and lastly came Prince Charlie (unwelcome) on his march to Berwick-on-Tweed. But above all it is renowned as having been the residence (and birthplace probably) of Thomas the Rhymer, or True Thomas, or simply, as literary history prefers to call him, Thomas of Ercildoune. The Rhymer's Tower, associated with this remarkable personage, stands close to the Leader. Only a mere ivy-clad fragment remains (some 30 feet in height), but the memories of the place stretch back to more than six centuries, when Thomas was at the height of his fame as his country's great soothsayer and bard—the vates sacer of the people. His rhymes are still quoted, and many of them have been realised in a manner which Thomas himself could scarcely have anticipated. Scott makes him the author of the metrical romance "Sir Tristrem," published from the[Pg 122] Auchinleck MS. in 1804, but the Rhymer is unlikely to have been the original compiler. With his Fairyland adventures and return to that mysterious region, everybody is familiar. A quaint stone in the church wall carries the inscription:

Auld Rymr's Race
Lyes in this place,

and the probability is that Thomas sleeps somewhere amidst its dark dust, unless, indeed, he be still spell-bound in some as yet undiscovered cavern underneath the Eildons, waiting with Arthur, and Merlin, the blast of that irresistible horn which is to "peal their proud march from Fairyland."

Mellerstain in Earlston Parish, is the burial-place of Grisell Baillie, the Polwarth heroine and songstress, and author of the plaintive "Werena My Heart Licht I wad Dee." Cowdenknowes, "where Homes had ance commanding," one of the really classical names in Border minstrelsy is the scene of that sweetest of love lyrics, the "Broom o' the Cowdenknowes":—

"How blithe, ilk morn, was I to see
My swain come o'er the hill!
He skipt the burn and flew to me:
I met him with good-will."

Sandyknowe, Scott's cradling-ground in romance, and Bemersyde, one of the oldest inhabited houses in the Tweed Valley (partly peel), still evidencing the Rhymer's couplet:—

"Tyde what may betyde,
Haig shall be Haig of Bemersyde,—"

are both in the near neighbourhood.

A charming bit of country road lies between Earlston and Dryburgh, passing Redpath, the[Pg 123] Park, Gladswood, and round by Bemersyde Hill, from which Scott had his favourite view of the Tweed—the "beautiful bend" shrining the site of the original Melrose, and the graceful Eildons—and by which his funeral procession wended its mournful way just seventy-four years ago. Half-way between Earlston and Melrose (by road 4½ miles), and close to

"Drygrange with the milk-white yowes,
Twixt Tweed and Leader standing,"

the latter stream blends its waters with those of the Tweed, where the foliage is ever at its thickest and greenest; and looking up the glen towards Newstead and Melrose, another vision of rare beauty meets the eye. Framed in the tall piers of the railway viaduct (150 feet high)—not at all a disfigurement—the gracefully-bending Tweed, no more fair than here, with the smoke rising above the Abbeyed town, Eildon in the foreground, and the blue barrier of the hills beyond, make up a picture such as may come to us in dreams.[Pg 124]


From the Author's chapter in Cassell's "British Isles." (By permission.)

The Liddel rises in the Cheviot range, close to Jedhead, at an altitude of six hundred and fifty feet above sea level, and after a course of seven-and-twenty miles, with a fall of five hundred and forty-five feet, it joins the Esk at the Moat of Liddel, below Canonbie, near the famous Netherby Hall, twelve miles north of Carlisle and about eight from Langholm. It is fed by a score of affluents, of which the chief are the Hermitage and Kershope Waters, the latter constituting for nine miles or so the immediate boundary between the two countries. From its geographical position as cut off from the main division of the county, Liddesdale has little in common with the valleys of the Tweed and Teviot. A Liddesdaler, for instance, seldom crosses over to Tweedside, nor can a Tweedsider be said to have other than a comparatively slight acquaintanceship with his southern neighbour of the shire. Indeed, Liddesdale has been described as belonging in some respects more to England than to Scotland, and in a sense, it may be said to be the very centre of the Border Country itself.






If now-a-days one may roam through Liddesdale with some degree of comfort, it was a very different matter for Scott and Shortreed little more than a hundred years since. They knew scarcely anything of the district, which lay to them, as was said, "like some unkenned-of isle ayont New Holland." But Scott was bent on his Minstrelsy[Pg 125] ballad-huntings. And it was the very inaccessibility of the Liddel glens which inspired him with the hope of treasure. For seven autumns in succession they "raided" Liddesdale, as Scott phrased it, and, as he anticipated, some of the finest specimens in the Minstrelsy were the outcome of these excursions. Evidence of the utter solitariness and roadlessness of the region is found in the fact that no wheeled vehicle had been seen in Liddesdale till the advent of Scott's gig about 1798. Nor was there a single inn or public-house to be met with in the whole valley. Lockhart describes how the travellers passed "from the shepherd's hut to the minister's manse, and again from the cheerful hospitality of the manse to the rough and jolly welcome of the homestead, gathering wherever they went songs and tunes and occasionally more tangible relics of antiquity." But a hundred years have wrought wondrous transformation on the wild wastes of the Liddel. The "impenetrable savage land" of Scott's day, trackless and bridgeless, is now singularly well opened up to civilisation and the modern tripper. The Waverley Route of the North British Railway passes down the valley within a few miles of its best-known landmarks. The Road Committees are careful as to their duty, and a well-developed series of coaching tours has proved exceedingly popular. From a miserable expanse of bleak moors and quaking moss-hags, the greater portion of lower Liddesdale, at least, has passed into a picturesque combination of moor and woodland with rich pastoral holms and fields in the highest state of cultivation.

But the main glory of Liddesdale is the romance[Pg 126] that hangs over it. There is probably no parish in Scotland—for be it remembered that Liddesdale is virtually one parish—which could show such an extraordinary number of peel-houses to its credit. Their ruins, or where these have disappeared, the sites are pointed out with surprising frequency. A distinctively Border district, this was to be expected, and the like is true of the English side also. A Liddesdale Keep, still in excellent preservation—"four-square to all the winds that blow"—and far and away the strongest and the most massive pile on the Border frontier is Hermitage, in the pretty vale of that name, within easy reach from Steele Road or Riccarton stations, three and four miles respectively. Built by the Comyns in the thirteenth century, it passed to the Soulises, the Angus Douglases, to "Bell-the-Cat" himself, the Hepburn Bothwells, and the "bold Buccleuch," whose successor still holds it. Legend may almost be said to be indigenous to the soil of Hermitage, and one wonders not that Scott found his happy hunting-ground here. The youngest child will tell us about that "Ogre" Soulis, who was so hated by his vassals for his awful oppression of them, that at last they boiled him alive—horrible vengeance—on the Nine-Stane Rig, a Druidic circle near by. In part confirmation of the tragedy it is asserted that the actual cauldron may still be seen at Dalkeith Palace. Scott was constantly quoting the verses from Leyden's ballad:

"On a circle of stones they placed the pot,
On a circle of stones but barely nine;
They heated it red and fiery hot
Till the burnish'd brass did glimmer and shine[Pg 127]
They rolled him up in a sheet of lead,
A sheet of lead for a funeral pall;
They plunged him in the cauldron red,
And melted him, lead, and bones, and all."

The Nine-Stane Rig is the scene also of the fragmentary "Barthram's Dirge"—a clever Surtees forgery undetected by Scott. Leyden's second Hermitage ballad—two of the best in the "Minstrelsy"—deals with the Cout or Chief of Keeldar, in Northumberland, done to death by the "Ogre" in the Cout's Pool close to the Castle. In the little God's-acre at Hermitage the Cout's grave is pointed out (Keeldar also shows what purports to be the Cout's resting-place). Memories of Mary and Bothwell come to us, too, at Hermitage. Here the wounded Warden of the Marches was visited by the infatuated Queen, who rode over from Jedburgh to see him, returning the same day—a rough roundabout of fifty miles—which all but cost her life. Dalhousie's Dungeon, in the north-east tower, recalls the tragic end of one of the bravest and best men of his time—Sir Alexander Ramsay, of Dalhousie, who was starved to death at the instance of Liddesdale's Black Knight, here anything but the "Flower of Chivalry." One may wander all over the Hermitage and Liddel valleys without ever being free from the romance-feeling which haunts them. Relics of the Roman occupation are in abundance on every hillside—

"Many a cairn's grey pyramid,
Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid."

This was the homeland of the Elliots, "lions of Liddesdale," and the sturdy Armstrongs, of the crafty Nixons and Croziers—"thieves all":

"Fierce as the wolf they rushed to seize their prey:
The day was all their night, the night their day."
[Pg 128]

It is to be regretted that so few of the dozens of clan-strengths which at one time studded the district are any longer in evidence. Hartsgarth, Roan, (so named from the French Rouen), Redheugh, Mangerton—"Kinmont Willie's" Keep—Syde—"He is weel kenned Jock o' the Syde," Copshaw Park—the abode of "little Jock Elliot"—Westburnflat—an "Old Mortality" name—Whithaugh, Clintwood, Hillhouse, Peel, and Thorlieshope, have mostly all disappeared since Scott's day. A generation more utilitarian in its tastes has arisen, and the stones taken to set up dykes and fill drains. Near the junction of the Liddel and Hermitage stood the strongly posted Castle of the "Lords of Lydal," and the important township of Castleton—not unlike the Roxburghs between Tweed and Teviot; and, like them also, both have long since passed from the things that are. Only the worn pedestal of its "mercat-cross" and a lone kirkyard have been left to tell the tale. Two miles farther down is the village of Newcastleton, formerly Copshawholm, planned by the "good Duke Henry" in 1793, a rising summer resort with a population of about a thousand.

We cannot quit Liddesdale without recalling that this is "Dandie Dinmont's" Country. In writing "Guy Mannering" Scott drew largely from his earlier experiences amongst the honest-souled store-farmers and poetry-loving peasants of Liddelside. At Millburn, on the Hermitage, he enjoyed the hospitality of kindly Willie Elliot, who stood for the "great original" of "Dandie Dinmont."





Transcriber's Note:

Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without note. The missing Plate number for Plate 11 has been re-instated.




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