[Kelso—Thursday, 7 June 1860]

Thursday 7th We feel ourselves truly now in the country Scott has made so famous. Fishers abound just now and help to give these picturesque streams a vitality of interest. Took the early train for Melrose. A heavy thunder-shower was falling and rendering our prospects for the day decidedly damp. At one of the way stations a gentleman leaped into the carriage and nodding to us in a cheery gentlemanly way began a pleasant conversation in the course of which Jamie said how much we had enjoyed a book (by a gentleman of Edinburgh) “Horae Subsaecivae” [sic] and asked if this gentleman knew anything of the author. Yes, he answered he is my brother. I will give you a note to him with pleasure. Sure enough, at night, after our sight-seeing was finished he kindly met us at the station to say “good speed”, with the letter in his hand. We found our friend to be Dr William Brown a man much esteemed in his native town, Melrose.

We saw the abbey of Melrose under a dark sad sky not unsuited to its own significant beauty. The clouds looked heavy enough to drop momently as we stood lingeringly among the grass grown graves in the little church-yard. Walter Scott was a presence here abouts and we were continually startled to read the name upon the tomb stones. Many quaint inscriptions might be deciphered here, were Old Mortality still at his post of duty. I noticed a Scotch-ism. A man described as a “Tenure of Land” meaning owner. Twice we attempted to see Dryburgh and at last succeeded in the mellow golden beauty of a June afternoon. While the rain was yet pouring heavily during the morning we went to Abbotsford. The family was away but a woman showed us the place most patiently. I could not wonder at Scott’s love for it. In spite of his ostentatious models, I did not find Abbotsford ostentatious. Melrose, Dryburgh, Roslin and Holyrood evidently sat for their portraits while Scott selected from each one or two of their more beautiful features. The result is, what I wish we could find in more houses, a display of taste and feeling even to the slightest details about the house. Neither is this expensively arranged. The walls are of plaster or stucco painted the color he wished. I believe quite a mistaken idea prevails that Scott ruined himself building Abbotsford. His mistake was in burdening himself with too much land.

We asked for the dining-room where Sir Walter died and it was opened exclusively for us. Mr Hope-Scott is obliged to use this room still for dining but resigns all the remaining rooms on the lower floor to the public. We came to Edinburgh by the last train from Melrose.

National Endowment for the Humanities - Logo

Editorial work on The Brownings’ Correspondence is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This website was last updated on 7-19-2024.

Copyright © 2024 Wedgestone Press. All rights reserved.

Back To Top