« PreviousContinue »
as some students deem probable enough, the reputed Abbot of Sacrabosco a sort of doubtful creation. Then for family records. With the exception of the Maxwells and Scotts, finished with such fine taste by Mr. Wm. Fraser, the charter-rooms of the old houses in the South are almost virgin ground for the student. Drumlanrig itself must contain priceless treasures in the way of national, territorial, and family lore. Even a good catalogue or calendar would be an acquisition to the working antiquary. A little gleaning hardly one sheaf out of the harvest, and this relating to a single historic season, but certainly of exceptional interest—makes up a most interesting portion of the “Memoirs of Viscount Dundee,” by the late Mark Napier, Sheriff of the County. Raehills, again, must be full of memories of Johnstons, as Jardine Hall is of Jardines, and Hoddam of the Sharpes--one member of the last, the accomplished but odd “C. K. S.," being in himself alone worthy of the most delicate treatment. Bonshaw and Wyseby, Robgill and Stapleton, might all be made to render up interesting details of many a long line of Irvings and Bells, Edgars and Flemings. The distinction indicated above between North and South, so far as antiquarian study is concerned, cannot be explained by any deficiency of interest in the annals of the latter. Mr. M‘Dowall has already shown that these are full of unfailing interest, while the natural peculiarities of the district—its crops and minerals, its breezy uplands and rich vales, its luxuriant woods and fairy gardens, its winding streams and trouting pools, its linns and haughs and fertile holms, the brawling Annan, storied Liddle, and, greater still, the sweeping Nith, “whose distant roaring swells and fa’s”—the very sough of the Caul—all go to furnish material to the student of physical science, as rich as the floating traditions are to the novelist or the poet. Nor are the sons of the soil naturally unfitted for dealing with such attractive specialities. Were the honours of the eightieth birth-day not so recent (1875), Mr. Carlyle might be referred to as able to speak for Annandale. Telford, “Eskdale Tam,” knew a century since all the traditions then current about Langholm and Canonbie. So long as Mr. Carruthers reigned in Inverness, it would take a bold man to plead that there was anything in the air of Dumfriesshire, disqualifying its natives from dealing with the higher elements of literary criticism or chilling sympathy with the engrossing traditions of their birth-place. Long since Arthur Johnstone wrote of the district,
Florida tot pingues hic tondent prata juvenci,
Pleasantly paraphrased by Rev. Mr. Bennett, Moffat, as
Full many a sleek and seemly steer enjoys the flowery fields;
But, better than all reasoning on such a point, here is Dr. Ramage, with his little book confined to three parishes, and these not of supreme importance, showing how every little corner has its pleasant record, when the eye has been properly trained to decipher, and the ear to hear, the floating traditions of the past. Having rather exceeded our limits with remarks designed to stir up friends in the South to good work in the field of antiquarian study, it is hardly possible to give extracts showing the extreme value and fidelity manifested all through Dr. Ramage's very enticing work. But this is the less to be regretted, as by far the larger portion has already found a wide audience in the pages of the “Dumfries and Galloway Courier," and where, at the present time (1875), another series of interesting topographical and genealogical notes are appearing from week to week. Dr. Ramage has endeavoured, and fairly succeeded, in bringing together about as much information as can at present be obtained regarding the three parishes selected for illustration-Durisdeer, Closeburn, and Morton. Tumuli, cairns, stone and bronze celts, coins, remains of ancient camps, placenames-the most enduring and probably the most important of all the means of illustrating the occupation of a country-have been pressed into the service, though, with a modesty almost unnecessary in his case, he explains that such
studies demand a more varied knowledge than is commonly possessed by one person. In connection with Durisdeer parish—the burial-place of the Queensberry and Buccleuch family—we naturally hear much of the Douglases, and of the high state kept up by them at Drumlanrig, and much also about the fabric itself, with its spacious apartments, and grounds around rivalling in magnificence the fabled gardens of Almira. "One Douglas (says Burns) lives in Home's heroic page; but Douglases were heroes every age.”
In the pages of the master of Wallace Hall, the old House appears to have been as turbulent and discontented as their neighbours of lesser note, and equally unscrupulous about the method of obtaining such "guids, geir, and plenishing" as they might require. Minute genealogical details of the House of Douglas are given, the change in the succession indicated with exactness, many letters and charters quoted, and a brief but quite intelligible account of various criminal trials in which the House was concerned. One of these, Barbara Napier, sister-inlaw of Douglas, of Coshogle, tried and sentenced to be burnt for witchcraft in 1591, illustrates the old story of the charmed ring used to induce love, and obtained by the poor victim, so it was said, from another notorious witch. Still more attractive matter is set before us in Closeburn parish, visited frequently by Burns, and the residence of “Lovely Polly Stewart," whose unfortunate story is here told with even more minuteness than it merits. Dalgarnock, too, close at hand, has had a new interest added to it by the poet as the tryst or fair frequented by that faithless wooer, taunted there and then by his discarded Phyllis as improperly
Gaun up the lang loan to my black cousin Bess;
Guess ye how the jaud I could bear her.
Again, in Morton parish, the reader is pleasantly introduced to another celebrity, Robert Paterson, the “Old Mortality” of Scott, and tenant for a time before he commenced his wanderings of the quarry at Gateleybridge. To turn out students so distinguished in after life as the present Archbishop of Canterbury is no doubt a high honour to any educational
institution, yet on the whole Wallace Hall bulks rather large in Dr. Ramage's volume. When a new edition is issued, a map of the district would also be an improvement. It might assist some unlettered tourist, used to gad about French watering-places, losing his time and vexing the hearts of waiters, to know that the Pass of Enterkin is amongst the most solitary and beautiful spots in this southern county. So good a judge as the author of “Rab and his friends” found this out, and has written a pleasant paper thereon. We will be glad to meet Dr. Ramage again in the field of parochial antiquities. Should his leisure from graver responsibilities permit, he no doubt knows where to find suggestive localities not far from home. Sanquhar and Wanlock are full of Covenanting memories, and some noteworthy things in the way of modern industry. Or he may turn his steps westward, passing under the shadow of Tynron Doon, and enter Glencairn parish, where he will find at one end those who in modern times represent “Sir Robert, the lord of the Cairn and the Scaur;" and at the other memories of the old historic house of Craigdarroch
A line that had struggled for freedom with Bruce;
THE SCOTTS OF BUCCLEUCH.
NEVER quite so common a name, even in Southern Scotland, as natives are apt to imagine, the Scott clan have yet been distinguished and powerful as far back as either records or tradition can be safely followed. The novelist Sir Walter fixes upon a certain Uchtred Fitz Scott, who flourished at the Court of David I., as the earliest who can be properly identified with the fortunes of the family; but he was not inclined to dispute the accuracy of the tradition which carried the ancestors of Uchtred to the reign of Kenneth III. (973-996) —when they are said to have possessed the barony of Scotstoun, Peeblesshire. It is to some date approaching this that the not over-careful Satchells in his “ True History” of the family of Scott would refer the origin of the Buccleuch name to a narrow escape of the King from the fury of a stag at bay which he had pursued through a large portion of the Royal hunting grounds in Ettrick. A certain John of Galloway, living in concealment at Buccleuch, or rocky “cleft," on Rankleburn, overcame the stag, and, after slaying it, carried the carcass up the steep side of the “heugh” and laid it at the feet of the King. The monarch is said thereupon to have made the doubtful remark
And for the buck thou stoutly brought
To us up that steep heugh,
Be John Scott in Buckscleuch.
In addition to the lonely farm of Buccleuch, situated among the overhanging hills, there is lower down Rankle Glen, the site of the old church of Buccleuch, and also the ruins of the family tower, the latter within three miles of Tushielaw, ere reaching which the burn has found its way into Ettrick water at Cacrabank. Even before the close of the fifteenth century the family historian finds himself on solid ground for indicating the descent of the Buccleuch family. Sir David Scott of Branxholm took a prominent part in public affairs during the reign of James III., and sat in the Parliament of 1487 as “Dominus de Buccleuch.” Sir David would appear to have been the first of the family so designated. At least one tower still remains of that old castle of Branxholm, which he strengthened and enlarged to accommodate those "nine-and-twenty knights of fame," with their squires and yeomen, so vividly described in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel” as hanging their shields within the fortalice, to "carve out
' their meal with gloves of steel, and drink the red wine through the helmet barred.” Branxholm, greatly modernised, and now used as a residence for the Duke's “Forest" Chamberlain, was in those days one of the most important