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designs by James Gillespie, Edinburgh, stands in an extensive and well wooded valley, near the bottom of the sloping hills which form its northern boundary. Technically speaking, it may now be described as an extensive building of a square castellated form, having circular embattled turrets at each corner, and an embattled parapet top. The principal entrance is in the lower part of a central tower in the east front, and immediately above is a square window, which lights the entrance hall. The building is surrounded with a high, broad terrace walk. The best view of this stately mansion and the fine woods around is thought to be from the road carried over Cartland, which passes along the brow of the hills on the north, and gives the spectator some idea of "a giant fortress in fairyland.”
DALRYMPLE AND THE STAIRS.
SEPARATED from the western corners of Dumfries and Galloway by the wide parish of Dalmellington, and from the sea by Maybole, Dalrymple, lying along the north or right bank of the Doon, is like Stair, on the south or left bank of the Ayr, included within that subdivision of central Ayrshire known as King's Kyle. The one point marks the northern, the other the southern, limits of this portion of the country, and are only separated from each other by portions of Ochiltree and Coylton. With the exception of Craigie, north of the Ayr, Stair is the least thickly-peopled parish in Kyle, and, with the exception of Barr, in the centre of Carrick, smaller in point of numbers than any within the entire county. The figures in the last census show 734 for Stair and 1412 for Dalrymple, the latter coming thus to be classed also among the minor parishes so far as population is concerned. Yet, insignificant as these two Ayrshire parishes may appear under the application of a mere statistical test, it is within their bounds we must search for the cradle of a race devoted beyond most families to the public service of their country. No way overlooking
or extenuating the dark crime of Glencoe, it is still to the Dalrymples the historian must turn for some of the brighter examples of eminence in literature and law, in arms and diplomacy. It is indeed hardly open to doubt that we have in the career of James, first Viscount Stair, the highest example of a race of statesmen in which Scotland, up to his time, had by no means been so prolific as might be supposed, if judged only by what she won through her sturdy spirit of independence. From evidence not to be put lightly aside, it would appear that about the middle of the fifteenth century (1450), the year when King James, second of the ill-starred line, brought home Mary of Gueldres as his bride, a certain William, son of John of the barony of Dalrymple, acquired the lands of Stair, or Stair-Montgomery, through his marriage with the heiress, Margaret Kennedy, daughter of Malcolm of Carrick. Their son, William Dalrymple of Stair, is set down as having married Marion, daughter of Chalmers of Gadgirth, a lady who, as we have already described, was summoned before the King's Council as belonging to that religious reforming band known as the Lollards of Kyle. A grandson, James of Stair, was among the first who openly professed the reformed doctrines. In later years his enemies—and he had many of them-did not fail to taunt James, first Viscount Stair, with his lowly descent; but, if an offence was intended, it did not appear to disturb either his equanimity or his dignified bearing as President of the Court of Session. The place of his birth is thought to have been Drummurchie, Barr parish, Ayrshire, and the date 1619.
The future Lord-President's father was James of Stair, and his mother Jannet Kennedy of Knockdaw. Stirring as his career was, it may be stated in a very few lines from the period when he passed from Mauchline school to Glasgow University, till his elevation to the peerage a few years before his death, Commanding for three years a company of foot in Glencairn's regiment, he afterwards turned his attention to philosophical studies, and in 1641, after a competitive examination, he became a professor or regent of the logic class in his old University. This appointment, however, would appear to have been only a preliminary step towards the perfecting of his legal studies, which enabled him to pass as advocate in 1648. Although one
of the Commissioners to Breda for the purpose of inviting Charles II. to Scotland, Dalrymple was made a Judge by Cromwell on the recommendation of Monk. The appointment was confirmed at the Restoration, and the dignity of a baronetcy added, to be followed at no distant interval by promotion to the chair of the LordPresident. The work known as “Stair's Institutes," long familiar to lawyers, judges, and statesmen, and hardly yet superseded, appeared in 1681, a year otherwise of evil import to the great jurist, since his resistance to the ensnaring Test Act, pressed on by the Duke of York, led to his removal from the bench and flight to Leyden for safety. This step was taken on a hint from Sir George Mackenzie, Lord-Advocate, to the effect that if the bigoted Royal Duke pressed matters as he threatened, even the author of the “Institutes" could not be saved from imprisonment at least. His tenantry and dependants were also at this time much harassed by soldiers, and sharply fined for non-conformity or church irregularities.
At Leyden, Dalrymple made the acquaintance of Claudius Salmasius, a now all but forgotten controversialist, whose defence of King Charles would, in the author's own day, have fallen into oblivion had it not called forth Milton's stinging but scarcely less abusive “Defence of the English People. The Revolution of 1688 brought-such measure of relief and honour to Dalrymple, as is best indicated by his restoration to the Presidentship of the Court of Session, and his elevation to the peerage as first Viscount Stair, Lord Glenluce and Stranraer. Death took place at Edinburgh, November, 1695, when Lord Stair had reached the age of 76. As opposed to the bitter judgment of Burnet, Sir George Mackenzie left on record that what he most admired Stair for was that in ten years' intimacy he never heard him speak unkindly of those who had injured him. Scott writes of Stair as one of the most eminent lawyers who ever lived, though the labours of his powerful mind were unhappily exercised on a subject so limited as Scottish Jurisprudence.
With the original of Scott's “ Lady Ashton” for a wife, the domestic life of Lord Stair is interwoven with that painful tragedy of Fate known as “ The Bride of Lammermoor," elaborated with unwearied care and skill by novelists, musicians, and dramatists. Lady Stair was originally Margaret Ross, co-heiress of Balneil,
Wigtonshire. She has been described as an able, politic, and high-minded woman, so successful in what she undertook that the vulgar, no way partial to her husband or her family, imputed her success to necromancy. According to the popular belief, as mentioned by Scott, this Dame Margaret purchased the temporary prosperity of her family from the master she served under a singular condition, narrated in these words by the historian of her grandson, whose descent leads Macaulay to add an additional touch of blackness to his portrait of the son, Master of Stair, first Earl, and the execrated of Glencoe. Lady Stair lived, writes an “impartial hand,” to a great age, “and at her death desired that she might not be put under ground, but that her coffin should be placed upright on one end of it, promising, that while she remained in that situation, the Dalrymples should continue in prosperity. What was the old lady's motive for such a request, or whether she really made such a promise, I cannot take upon me to determine ; but it is certain her coffin stands upright in the aisle of the church at Kirkliston, the burial place of the family.” The daughter of the family, and original of " Lucy Ashton," the “Bride” was Janet Dalrymple, betrothed to Lord Rutherford, but compelled by her mother to marry a new suitor in the person of David Dunbar, son and heir of David of Baldoon. The bridal feast was followed by dancing, during which, as was usual, the bride and bridegroom retired to the nuptial chamber. Suddenly wild and piercing shrieks were heard proceeding from the apartment. It was then the custom, writes Scott, to prevent any coarse pleasantry which earlier times tolerated, to entrust the key of this room to the bridesman or “best man.” He was called upon, but at first refused, to give up the keys till the shrieks became so hideous that he was compelled to hasten with others to learn the cause. On opening the door, they found the bridegroom lying across the threshold, dreadfully wounded, and streaming with blood. The bride was then sought for. She was found in the corner of a large chimney, having no covering save her shift, and that dabbled in gore. There she sat grinning at them, mopping and moaning, as I heard the expression used ; in short, absolutely insane. The only words she spoke were “Tak up your bonny bridegroom." She survived this horrible scene
little more than a fortnight, having been married on the 24th of August, and died on the 12th of September, 1669. The unfortunate Baldoon recovered from his wounds, but sternly prohibited all inquiries respecting the manner in which he had received them. The satirists of the day did not fail to turn the tragedy to the discredit of the house of Stair, one lampoon of exceptional bitterness writing of “Stair's neck, mind, wife, sons, grandson, and the rest," as "wry, false, witch, pests, parricide, possessed."
Besides the unhappy Miss Janet Dalrymple, Lord Stair left issue, John “ Master” of Stair, second Viscount and first Earl, who will be written of at length next chapter in connection with Glencoe; also Sir James, designated first of Borthwick and afterwards of Cousland, progenitor of the present Earls ; Sir Hew, the first baronet of North Berwick; and Sir David, founder of the Hailes family, and grandfather of the distinguished historian, Lord Hailes. The Hailes offshoot from the Stair prolific stem is now represented by Charles Dalrymple, Esq. of New Hailes, M.P., younger brother of Sir James Fergusson of Kilkerran, through the second marriage of Lord Hailes with Helen, youngest daughter of Lord Kilkerran, senator of the College of Justice, a learned jurist, elevated to the Bench on the death of Adam Cockburn of Ormiston.
THE MASTER OF STAIR AND GLENCOE.
ELDEST son of the first Viscount Stair, Sir John Dalrymple, or the “Master," as he was commonly called, had about twenty years' experience at the Bar or on the Bench, when, in 1691, he was promoted by King William from the position of Lord-Advocate to be one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State. An unnatural alliance happened to exist at the moment between Jacobites and Presbyterians, the one writhing as much through loss of power as for the fall of