網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

*

ROXBURGHSHIRE-the poetical and warlike Teviotdale-occupies the largest central proportion of the southern border, between the Solway Frith and Berwick-on-Tweed. The general appearance of the district is mountainous, but intersected by many beautiful valleys, and watered by innumerable streams, which maintain freshness and fertility, and, in many instances, figure in that poetry and romance which have lent their lasting charms to the Liddel, the Teviot, and the Tweed. The middle and northern districts are tolerably fertile, greatly improved by judicious cultivation, and embellished with many noble mansions. The country is traversed by a ridge of hills-part of the "Cheviot range"-from the highest of which the spectator may descry both the eastern and western seas. The hills and valleys that so richly diversify this territory, as well as its monastic ruins and feudal towers-are all familiar in Border minstrelsy.

Of the monastic antiquities which were once the glory, not only of this county but of the whole kingdom, we have selected for illustration those of Jedburgh, Melrose, and Kelso. In their flourishing state, the monasteries of Scotland are believed to have equalled, if they did not surpass, in wealth and splendour, most establishments of the same kind in the other countries of Europe. Their lands and domains equalled in extent the possessions of the most powerful barons, and were the richest and best cultivated in the kingdom. The members of their communities were, for a long period, revered as the learned instructors and spiritual guides of the people, the indulgent masters of numerous vassals and

Beattie, therefore, anxious to prevent bloodshed, offered his "white mare," an animal remarkable for its fleetness, for Maxwell's immediate escape. The offer was accepted, and the rider, mounting in haste, never drew bitt till he alighted at Scott's of Branxholm. Here he was secure; but, forgetting Beattie's generosity, and determined to avenge himself by selling what he could not occupy, offered the king's grant to this ancestor of the Buccleuch family, for an equivalent. His offer was readily accepted. Scott, then warden of the Middle Marches, and holding a numerous force at his command, mustered his full strength, attacked, slew, and expelled the diminutive force of the Beatties-seized their possessions, (Bord. Ant.) and divided between forty and fifty of their estates and farms among his followers, viz. the Scotts of Harden, Davington, Johnston, Raeburn, Rennelburn, Baillielee, and Branxholm. (Paroch. Stat. by the Rev. Dr. Brown.) The Beatties, after this “legalized plunder,” retired partly to the north of Scotland, to Ireland, and Galloway, (where they gave their name to Dalbeattie,) the English Border, &c. With the exception of Beattie of Meikledale, (Sir Walter Scott, vol. vi. p. 22,) and two or three others, they have regained no hold in their ancient district-" Batti veteris sacrum sepulchrum." Catull. Ad. Lesb. 1. 6.

* Of this county three of our most admired poets are natives-Gavin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld; James Thomson, author of "The Seasons;" and Dr. John Armstrong, whose poem on "The Art of preserving Health" is so justly admired. To these may be added the name of Elliot—afterwards ennobled— whose admirable defence of Gibraltar, and other heroic actions, have assigned his name so distinguished a place in the martial annals of his country.

+ See "MORTON's Monastic Ruins of Teviotdale." Hanc antiquam Scotorum religionem sat indicat templorum magnificentia et splendidissimus eorum apparatus, &c. &c.

[graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors]

ROXBURGHSHIRE.-JEDBURGH ABBEY.-MELROSE.

197

retainers, and the kind benefactors of the poor. Their churches and conventual buildings, raised with consummate art and skill, and profusely adorned with carving and painting, were the chief architectural ornaments of the country. Their halls were the seats of splendid hospitality, where princes and distinguished persons were entertained, and where minstrels and professors of the liberal arts were ever welcome guests. The example of the order and economy of their establishments must have had a beneficial influence on domestic life. The deference and respect which they were bound to observe towards each other, could not but contribute greatly to soften the harsh manners of a rude age, to introduce elegance, and to disseminate urbanity and politeness throughout the intercourse of society. History presents few changes of fortune more sudden and complete than that which befell the monastic communities at the period of the Reformation. Within a few years, their wealth, their honours, their avocations, their establishments, were swept away. The unfortunate monks, often perhaps deeply wronged-though many of them were doubtless loaded with some just accusations—were driven from their ancient seats; their magnificent edifices -if the chance of war had not already desolated them-were either demolished by the blind rage of the populace and the barbarous ignorance of the government, or left to crumble into premature decay.

Jedburgh Abbey, when entire, must have been one of the finest buildings in Scotland. It appears from its remains to have formed a large cross church, comprising a nave with side-aisles, a cross with transepts, and a choir with chapels. The altar, or east end of the choir, is completely gone, as well as the cloisters and chapter-house, which appear to have extended to the south side. Three or four different styles of architecture are observable in these ruins, each characteristic of the period when it was employed, and exemplifying the peculiar taste of the age. In the choir there are massive Saxon columns, or piers, with deep splayed circular arches; and over these the Norman style is employed. Again, in the superstructure of the nave we have the old English character, beautifully exemplified in the long range of narrow pointed windows, and in the blank arches at the west end. Over the cross rises a lofty square tower, with angular turrets and projecting battlements. The west end of the nave has been barbarously remodelled into a parish church, which has completely destroyed the character of this part of the edifice. At the west end, the principal entrance to the church, in the south wall of the nave, are two

In monasteriis ea vigebat charitas, et hospitalitas, ut omnes sine discrimine ad ea diverterent; in quibus tanto ordine omnia erant disposita, ut, sine religiosæ disciplinæ impedimento, non modo principes viri, sed et ipsi Scotia reges in illis subinde hospitarentur.-De Ant. Christ. Rel. apud Scotos. MORTON, VOL. I. 3 E

magnificent Norman doorways, of great richness and beauty, and among the finest of that style in the kingdom. The only decorated Gothic architecture in the remains of this edifice is seen in the windows of the north transept, which appear to have been renewed during the prevalence of that style. This abbey never recovered from the destruction it suffered from the enemy in 1544; and the establishment being suppressed at the Reformation, its revenues were afterwards annexed to the crown. The church was dedicated to God, under the How powerfully Delille's description applies

invocation of the Virgin Mary.

to these ruins!" Tout parle, tout émeut dans ce séjour sacré !"—

Here a

Melrose Abbey, so long the object of universal admiration, is said to have been re-founded by the pious King David, in the early part of the twelfth century, and about three hundred years after the destruction of old Melrose. community of Cistercian monks, whose order was then first introduced from Rievalle, took up their residence. The site of this establishment, to which the name of Melrose, so venerable for its antiquity, was transferred, is near the foot of the Eildon Hills, on the right bank of the Tweed, and in the centre of that beautiful and classic valley enclosed between the Eildon and Gatton heights. The style of architecture, so conspicuous in this gorgeous edifice, is the richest Gothic-such as it was when that style of religious building had attained its highest perfection. In its dimensions, the building falls short of many other sacred edifices-York Minster, for example-but the strength of its masonry, the boldness of its sculpture, the exquisite finish of its most minute embellishments, and that majestic beauty so impressive in a sacred edifice, are unsurpassed—we might say, unequalled-by any existing remnant of its class and character.* Here the zeal, industry, and genius of the indefatigable Cistercians found abundant exercise during the space of five centuries. Besides being strict in their monastic discipline, this brotherhood had the wisdom to inculcate industry upon their order, as a virtue, and as a preservative against the seductions of vice: hence they were the liberal patrons and diligent promoters of learning and the fine arts-virtues which are sufficiently testified by the existing monuments of their order in every part of the continent. Is it not probable, then, that many of the resident monks may have employed themselves in the pious work of erecting and embellishing so sacred an edifice? that the masterly pieces of sculpture which adorn its windows, walls, capitals, pinnacles,

* The buttresses, ranged along the sides of the ruins, are all richly carved and fretted, containing niches for the statues of saints, and labelled with scrolls, bearing appropriate texts of Scripture; but of these statues the greater number have been demolished. Melrose Abbey was reduced to its present ruinous state, partly by the English barons in their hostile inroads, and partly by the ill-judged and intemperate zeal of the reformers.-See various notes to "The Lay of the Last Minstrel."

« 上一頁繼續 »