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scenery in the vicinity of Edinburgh, and in the western Highlands of Scotland.
Amongst those in the neighbourhood of the capital, none engaged more of my attention, or have been, from various causes, remembered with more pleasure, than the lovely Banks of the Esk, presenting, as they do, so many spots rendered in no ordinary degree interesting by traditionary lore and literary reminiscences,
The sweetly plaintive air entitled Roslin Castle has given a kind of general celebrity to one of the most favoured of these scenes, favoured, indeed, not more by the hand of nature than by the presence of those vestiges of hoar antiquity which almost involuntarily excite in the mind a countless host of retrospections.
Beside these attractions for the antiquary and the lover of landscape, the village of Roslin, situated not more than eight miles from Edinburgh, offers a most delicious retreat in the summer for parties of all ranks and tastes, who, tempted by the profusion of fine strawberries which are cultivated in its gardens for the public palate, are often seen here during the season in immense numbers. It is not, however, on an occasion like this that Roslin
should be visited for the purpose of entering into the character of its scenery, as it in no degree accords with a display which however cheerful and amusing for a short time, altogether breaks in upon that romantic seclusion, that wild yet solemn grandeur, which every man of feeling would, in such a place, endeavour to preserve inviolate.
It was not indeed until the claims of friendship induced me to revisit Roslin, for the purpose of consoling the languid hours of an invalid companion, who had chosen its woods and rocks for the advantages of retirement and country air, that I possessed an opportunity fully adequate to the due enjoyment of the peculiar beauties which so remarkably distinguish this place and the adjacent banks of the Esk.
Roslin, which lies as it were midway on the Esk, between domains rendered dear to memory, as we we shall find, by literary associations, is one of those few favoured spots that can boast of exhibiting at one view, in its far-famed castle and chapel, the remains of feudal and monastic grandeur. They were both built, the latter in 1446, by William St. Clair, prince of Orkney, a descendant of the Norman chief, William de Sancto Clere, to whom the
barony of Roslin had been granted by Malcolm Canmore, king of Scotland, in the twelfth century.
The castle, whose ruins, though now not of considerable extent, are yet striking in their effect, rises immediately from a bold rock overhanging a beautiful bend of the river. It appears to have been formerly a fortress of much importance and strength; and having, with the exception of the round tower, the only relique of the first structure, been burnt by the army of Henry the Eighth, in 1554, was shortly afterwards rebuilt, again to moulder into ruin. It shows to great advantage as a picturesque object from various parts of the river and its banks; and I particularly remember being struck with its appearance, on crossing a wooden bridge situated a short distance up the stream, where its time-worn turrets, the chapel, and the sweep of the Esk, with its craggy sides, richly clothed with wood, rush upon the eye with the most imposing result.
Happily dissimilar in its fate to the castle, the chapel remains in the finest preservation, and exhibits an admirable specimen of the florid gothic in its richest and most elaborated style, every part susceptible of minute decoration being profusely ornamented with the most delicate and highly-finished
carved work. Thus, on the exterior, the buttresses are beautifully and doubly pinnacled with niches and canopies for statues, whilst within, the pillars are surmounted by exquisitely wrought capitals, no two being alike. The interior, indeed, simply consists of a nave and two side aisles, the latter being separated from the former by two series of pillars, five in each series, whilst the roof, semicircular in its form, and constructed of stone, appears worked into square compartments with roses, a flower which is seen also on the pillars and buttresses, and introduced, we were told, in allusion to the name of the place, a play of fancy, however, not warranted by correct etymology, which deduces the word Rosslinne, from ross, Gaelic for a promontory, and linnhe, a pool or fall of water.
In a vault beneath the floor of the chapel lie buried, it is said, nearly twenty of the barons of Roslin; but the only monuments which time has spared are those of an earl of Caithness and of a sir William St. Clair, a contemporary of king Robert Bruce, and concerning whose prowess in a hunting excursion with that monarch we had to listen to a long story from the lips of our somewhat garrulous conductor. We were informed also, that
when any of the descendants of the house of St. Clair were about to die, the chapel of Roslin would seem to be on fire; a superstition of which sir Walter Scott has since beautifully availed himself, in his Lay of the Last Minstrel, where, relating the melancholy fate of Rosabelle St. Clair, he tells us,
O'er Roslin all that dreary night
A wonderous blaze was seen to gleam; "Twas broader than the watch-fire light, And redder than the bright moon-beam.
It glared on Roslin's castled rock,
It ruddied all the copse-wood glen ;
And seen from cavern'd Hawthornden.
Seemed all on fire that chapel proud,
* "The manner of their interment," says sir Walter Scott, "is thus described in a MS. History of the Family of St. Clair, by Richard Augustin Hay, canon of St. Genevieve:
"Sir William St. Clair, the father, went to Ireland, his retreat being occasioned by the Presbyterians, who vexed him sadly, because of his religion being Roman Catholic. His son, sir William, died during the troubles, and was interred in the chapel of Roslin, the very same day that the battle of Dunbar was fought. When my good father was