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Seemed all on fire within, around,
Blazed battlement and pinnet high,
Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair-
From Roslin to Hawthornden, a spot dear to the lovers of poetry as the birth-place and residence of William Drummond, the Petrarch of Scotland, there is a moderate and delightful walk through woods and fields. Nothing can be more romantic than the site of the poet's house, which is placed, like an eagle's nest, on the verge of a precipitous
buried, his (i. e. sir William's) corpse seemed to be entire at the opening of the cave, but when they came to touch his body it fell into dust. He was lying in his armour, with a red velvet cap on his head, on a flat stone. Nothing was spoiled, except a piece of the white furring that went round the cap, and answered to the hinder part of the head. All his predecessors were buried after the same manner in their armour: late Rosline, my good father, was the first that was buried in a coffin, against the sentiments of king James the Seventh, who was then in Scotland, and several other persons well versed in antiquity, to whom my mother would not hearken, thinking it beggarly to be buried after that manner." -Lay of the Last Minstrel, Notes, p. 330, 8vo edition.
rock, in whose sides have been cut by human art, in an age of remote antiquity, caves of vast extent, whilst, at its foot, rolls the beautiful stream of the Esk through a deep glen or valley, richly skirted with wood.
It was with feelings of no ordinary gratification, that, with the poet's sonnets in my hand, I first traced this lovely and sequestered scene; and it is scarcely with less pleasure that even now, at the distance of nearly forty years, I once more revert, though but in memory's tablet, to its classic shades, endeavouring at the same time to collect, with that partiality for retrospection which advancing age so fondly cherishes, some circumstances of the life and literary leisure of one who has thrown around the woods and the caves of Hawthornden the associations and celebrity of a second Vaucluse.
WILLIAM DRUMMOND, son of sir Robert Drummond, and allied to the royal family of Scotland by the marriage of the sister of his ancestor, William Drummond of Carnock, to Robert the Third, was born at Hawthornden, the seat of his father, on the 13th of December, 1585. Having received an excellent education at Edinburgh, at first in the High School, and subsequently in the university of the
same place, where, in the year 1606, he took his degree of Master of Arts, he was, at the age of twenty-one, sent by his father, who had destined him for the legal profession, to attend lectures on the civil law at Bourges in France.
After a residence of four years on the continent, during which he had diligently and successfully pursued his studies, he returned to Scotland in 1610, and with the intention of practising the law; but the death of his father, which occurred a few months after he had reached home, and his own preponderating attachment to the belles lettres, together with very limited desires as to the possession of wealth, induced him, at the age of twenty-five, to retire to his paternal estate, where, uninterrupted by the turmoil of the world, he might devote himself to his beloved books, and the nurture of his poetical talents.
To a mind thus early disposed and prepared to enjoy and to improve the advantages of solitude, no situation could be better adapted than the romantic seclusion of Hawthornden, a spot which, from the beauty and sublimity of its scenery, would seem purposely suited to foster and expand the powers of imagination; and here, indeed, it was
that the best and earliest of his poems were com
How deeply he was imbued with those sentiments and feelings which, even in the spring-time of life, lead their charmed votary from the busy haunts of man, will be evident from the two following sonnets, written during this period of his residence at Hawthornden, and taken, indeed, from poems, a part of which was printed as soon as 1616, if not before, and the rest in 1623. In the first, which appeared in the earliest of these publications, he seems to apprehend some approaching necessity which may compel him to quit his favourite retreat.
Dear wood! and you, sweet solitary place,
Ah! if I were my own, your dear resorts
I would not change with princes' stateliest courts.
Beautiful as is the expression as well as the sentiment of this sonnet, it is surpassed in both by its companion, which, whilst it breathes a calm and philosophic dignity, is remarkable, at the same time, for the sweetness and harmony of its versification.
Thrice happy he who by some shady grove,
Far from the clamorous world, doth live his own,
But doth converse with that eternal love :
O how more sweet is birds' harmonious moan,
The world is full of horrors, troubles, slights;
Were it possible to have increased such a decided partiality for solitude as these sonnets evince, it would have been effected by two events which occurred to their author during this period. To
* In copying these, and the following sonnets, I have availed myself of the various readings to be found in the editions of 1623, 1656, 1711, and 1791, adopting those which appeared to me the most poetical.