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Scottish Gardens
Raeden House, Aberdeenshire


OBERT, by the grace of God King of Scots, in the course of the strenuous years when he was making good his claim to that exalted title (being as yet recognised by the Pope and King Edward of England only as the rebel Robert de Brus, sometime Earl of Carrick), did receive no little encouragement and support from the burgesses of Aberdeen; whereof he made due note at the time. Certain monarchs have been known to do the like under similar stress of circumstances, yet have they failed to consult their tablets after the fortune of war has put it in their power to recompense such services. But Robert the Bruce had ever a warm heart and a liberal hand. Moreover, the expulsion of English landowners furnished him with ample means for rewarding his adherents; wherefore, when the King had come to his own, the royal burgh of Bon Accord was among the first to receive substantial recognition of help rendered in time of need. Upon the burgesses and community was conferred a royal charter, confirming them in possession of their burgh and infeftiiig them, their heirs and successors for ever, as owners of the royal forest of the Stocket, saving only to the Crown the timber growing in the said forest and such beasts of the chase as might chance to be found therein.

Were good "King Hobbe" (as Edward Long-shanks used in derision to nickname his doughty opponent) permitted to revisit Aberdeen, it would be fine to watch his puzzled countenance as his eyes roved in vain quest for some familiar landmark. All, all is changed; only the river runs in its accustomed course. As for the forest, so earnestly have the Aberdonians exercised the right conferred in their charter of erecting "dwelling-houses and other buildings," that one can but guess now where were its precincts. Streets and terraces climb the braes where of old the stag couched and the red fox prowled, a state of things whereof the memory lingers in the name of Mr. Barclay's pretty residence, Raeden House—the lair of the roe. It was once the property of Provost More, who built himself here a country residence towards the end of the eighteenth century, and enclosed with high walls of lasting granite, faced with brick, an ample garden. House and garden are now sundered, the latter being occupied by a market-gardener; and Mr. Barclay has filched from his pasture land the flowerbeds which Miss Wilson has depicted in their autumn glow of chrysanthemums. It is a charmingly tranquil retreat, for although the tide of villas has flowed around it, and continues to flow, fine old trees confer a venerable appearance upon the mansion, and completely screen it in sequestered dignity from the world of trams and pillar boxes outside.

It would be difficult to contrive a climatic contrast more rapid and complete than I experienced in leaving London on a dripping, smoke-laden evening in June, and arriving next morning in brilliant sunshine at Aberdeen. The all-prevailing granite of the northern city (Aberdeen possesses the only granite-built cathedral in the world) sparkled clear and clean-cut in the morning rays; neither streets nor houses bore any suggestion of the grime and mud engrained upon those of London, and the drive out to Raeden lay through suburbs wreathed in verdure and garden fronts gay with Clematis montana, laburnum, hawthorn red and white, lilacs, Weigelia and hybrid rhododendrons. True, there was a "snell" north wind; but nothing could dim the brightness or stint the abundance of blossom on tree and shrub and herb.


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