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Chapter XI. Round about Dunbar


As the road draws near Dunbar it crosses a fair-sized burn, which at once disappears into the policies of Broxmouth, the Duke of Roxburgh's seat, whence issuing from beneath the high park wall on the further side, it runs at once into the sea, forming a time-honoured hazard on the town golf links. This is the Brock or Broxburn, that played a strategic part, and doubtless ran red with blood at the battle of Dunbar, which in 1650 was fought upon this very spot. Charles II., it may or may not be remembered, had been crowned King of Scotland immediately after the execution of his father—not in any spasm of passionate loyalty, but quite the reverse. The Scottish nation were then even more stoutly opposed to the Stuarts and their ways than their neighbours, and from their point of view had perhaps more cause to be. They were firmly convinced that their religion, in its Presbyterian form of expression, was of divine origin, and that the Almighty had made a special covenant with them as his chosen agents, not merely to serve as a shining example to the nations of the Reformed faith, but to enforce it either by persuasion or the sword, on such of their neighbours as they could reach with either. Toleration of any kind was anathema. But Charles II. was the only alternative to falling politically under the now powerful English Government, an eventuality as distasteful to the secular pride of the nation, as any form of creed but their own was hateful to their robust religious fanaticism. Charles at this moment had been some two months in Scotland—the squarest peg in the roundest hole that could be found in the chronicles of all the kings. It simplified matters something, however, that the young man was maintained practically as a dummy under the strict surveillance of guardians, lay and clerical, representing everything that his impious soul most abhorred. They in their turn privately regarded him as an unclean and malignant instrument, a veritable son of Belial, whom the servants of the Lord were unfortunately compelled to make use of in furthering the designs of Heaven. Purged of all his familiars good and bad, he was virtually a prisoner. If not enclosed in prison walls, the social atmosphere of the saints, to whose exhortations he was handed over, must have been fully as stifling. The historic malade du pays of Queen Mary on first exchanging France for Holyrood must have been trifling to the gloom of her great-grandson under somewhat similar circumstances, deprived of those cakes and ale which alone comprised his scheme of life, and thundered at by long-winded divines with scarcely any pretension of respect. With his tongue in his cheek, however, he signed the Covenant, there being no alternative, and put his name to papers embodying everything he most loathed. Among other things he subscribed to the fact that he was "deeply humbled and afflicted in spirit before God, because of his father's opposition to the work of God." After which even this sardonic humorist was moved to remark that he could never look his mother in the face again. No doubt he was clever enough in his way, and philosophic enough to find some consolation in the hope of better times to come. We all know how such dreams, if he had them, were more than fulfilled; what a fine innings he had from his own rather sordid point of view, and how ruthlessly he took it out of the saints with his packed parliaments, his bishops, and the sword of Claverhouse.

But the saints were paramount at the time of Dunbar, for the simple reason that the moderates of all kinds saw no safety for Scotland but in combination. All this business very naturally brought Cromwell hotfoot to Scotland with his Ironsides. He had some hopes of smoothing his path by pious appeals to brother Calvinists, which to our latter-day notions seem much to the purpose. But to the godly of the Covenant the Anabaptist and Independent saints of the south, who had rejected the Presbyterian form of theocracy, were as unredeemed sons of Belial as any Papist or Mahomedan. Cromwell's scriptural appeal to all God's elect in Scotland to unite with the chosen from south of the Tweed fell on deaf ears, while the hatred of the "Auld Enemy" had abated little or nothing.

Cromwell's army entered Scotland from Berwick late in July, and, as elsewhere mentioned, traversed the Pease Pass, and, following the present route of road and rail travel, arrived in due course before Edinburgh. It consisted of 16,000 men, including 5000 horse, and was supported by an accompanying fleet. For a wet and stormy month Cromwell was held in check by the skilful Leslie and a Scottish army of 26,000 men, till after manoeuvres and counter-manoeuvres, and the loss of 5000 of his small but fine army, mainly from sickness, he found himself back at Dunbar in an extremely awkward predicament. Leslie's policy had been to avoid a pitched battle, and it had answered admirably. Cromwell had offered him battle at Haddington on ground of his own choosing, which the astute Scottish general had declined. But he stuck to the heels of the English, and was now encamped upon Doon Hill, an outlier of the Lammermoors, which rises nearly 500 feet out of the red East Lothian fields, about a mile from the spot where we are now in fancy standing.

The Scottish army were now between Cromwell and his difficult line of retreat through the Pease Pass, and would have made even his escape by sea no easy matter. But Leslie had his difficulties too, of which the now ascendant minister's were unquestionably the worst. A purging of his army on the lines of theological opinion had been insisted upon at Edinburgh in face of this redoubtable foe, with the result that some three to four thousand of some nine thousand efficient men and officers had been summarily ejected. A further expulsion of "malignant suspects" was now insisted upon. According to a Royalist writer, the army was left in charge of "ministers' sons, clerks, and other such sanctified creatures, who had hardly ever seen or heard of any sword, but that of the spirit." This purging went on till the very eve of the battle. Cromwell's saints, on the other hand, were probably the best troops at that time in the world, but they were less than half their opponents in numbers, and still sickening fast. The Scots on Doon Hill were in no very good plight, for it was raining heavily; but their position was virtually impregnable. Cromwell saw this well enough, and recognised how precarious was his own.

lie was lodged at Broxmouth House, and had called his rather despondent officers to that strange blend of prayer meeting and council of war which preceded so many of his trenchant efforts against Amalekites of all kinds. He alone apparently, "and he often loved to talk of it afterwards," says Burnet, "felt a strange enlargement of heart, and that God had certainly heard them." He and his staff were walking in the garden afterwards, and watching the Scottish camp through their glasses, when to their amazement and delight they saw the enemy preparing to descend the hill, which they subsequently did, to take up a position between its foot and the Brox burn. Every one knows how Cromwell took his glass from his eye with the laconic and historic remark, " God hath delivered them into our hands; they are coming down to us." The ministers seem to have been the evil genius of this fatal movement, made against the judgment, it is said, of Leslie himself, and the veteran Leven, who was with him. But the preachers were having their day, and were as ready to take command against Cromwell as against the invisible legions of Satan. Further exhorting on the hilltop had worked them up into a state of ecstatic confidence in which mere earthly tactics were of slight consideration. They had the divine assurance, they told the army, of victory. In short, their spiritual wrestlings had reduced the issue to a certainty. On the eve of any other battle in credible history, such a company would have been laid by the heels as intolerably meddlesome lunatics. But in the atmosphere they had created Leslie was overborne. Cromwell himself could personate a Hebrew prophet with the best of them, which adds irony to the situation, with the difference that he dropped the part when it came to business, and became a soldier and a statesman.

It had rained all night, and about daybreak Cromwell's bugles sounded the advance. A regiment of horse, and two regiments of infantry crossed the burn with some opposition, and were followed by the whole army, when without loss of time a general attack was delivered. Two Scottish regiments made a brave resistance and were killed to a man where they stood, but the rest of the host broke almost at once before the onset of Cromwell's horse and foot, and as the sun rose the battle had already melted into a general rout. "Let God arise and his enemies be scattered," exclaimed Cromwell, and the pursuit began. Of 23,000 Scots, 3000 were slain, and 10,000 taken prisoners. The latter, like those of Worcester, "the crowning mercy," fought on the very same day in the next year, were herded together, driven south under cruel conditions, which greatly reduced their numbers, and shipped to the American plantations. The victory at Dunbar gave Cromwell the possession of Edinburgh. It broke up the domination of the religious extremists, released Charles, who retired north from their clutches, and brought about an alliance between the moderates headed by Argyle and the old Royalists of the more northern counties and elsewhere, under the king who had been crowned at Scone.

Through the first half of 1651, Cromwell, in possession of the country up to Edinburgh, was pressing Charles and the Scottish army to the northward. how the latter, being hard pushed, eventually made a rush southward, hoping to raise the English Royalists, was followed by Cromwell, and then caught and crushed at Worcester on the anniversary of Dunbar, is a more familiar story. It is only relevant here as illustrating the importance of the victory on this mile of tillage land between the Brox burn and Doon hill, where the infatuated saints had forced Leslie to take up such a fatal position.

The royal borough and seaport of Dunbar has smartened up amazingly since my earlier acquaintance with it, which was fairly intimate. It knew little, I think, in those days, of a summer season, though possibly it had already found room for a few visitors from Edinburgh. So famous a place historically, where then, too, more regularly than now, with all its newly acquired fashion, the northern fast trains halted, could not be insignificant. But it wore, I well remember, a rather dead-alive look, hardly worthy of that great and prosperous country around it, which made Haddington such a stirring place on market days. The latter has now fallen from its high estate, while Dunbar has expanded westward in streets, and rows, and terraces, and beyond these into private villas, that bear ample testimony to the success of its later aspirations. The broad, straight, cobbled High Street, with its tall, rather grim old-fashioned houses, has changed nowise, however, save for the greater bustle that rattles and echoes along it. The quaint old gabled town-hall, with its hexagonal tower and extinguisher spire, still remains. So does the huge barrack-looking house at the end, once the mansion of the Earls of Lauderdale, and afterwards, what its appearance suggests, a military barracks. The old fishing quarters towards the harbour have altered little, and are picturesque enough if you can attune yourself to the asperity of appearance which is almost inseparable from all northern dwellings of the humbler urban sort. In former days, it seemed to me that one's horse's feet upon the cobbles used to wake the echoes of as quiet a place as might be found. From a recently renewed acquaintance, it comes back to memory as a lively hubbub of motors, and traps, and cycles, and quite a stir of pedestrians, local and alien.

But the face of East Lothian, fat plain or wild moor, has altered nothing. Its farms, mansions, villages, and cottages are in detail and appearance precisely as they were during the Franco-Prussian war—almost pathetically so to those who can remember what these same fields and buildings then stood for, the agricultural high-water mark of a proud, envied, uncriticised, landed system. And now in spite of the apparent paradox, and of having passed in the interlude through the fiery furnace, such as the passing stranger would little dream of, they still represent the high-water mark of the system, now a discredited one, unduly and hastily discredited beyond a doubt. But that is neither here nor there, and is inevitable in a shop-keeping country, where the bulk of the educated and articulate class are utterly divorced from any practical knowledge of the soil. And surely over nothing else in the world can an otherwise clever and able man make such a complete fool of himself, and remain so long a fool, and do so much harm if he has the chance as in the apparently simple but the infinitely intricate science of rural economy.

The small farm, rightly or wrongly, is now the popular prescription for the ills of a congested little island that has cultivated shop-keeping and bricks and mortar, and imported food so assiduously that its soil area has become insignificant for its monstrous population. Relief, so far as it goes, is obviously of infinite interest, whatever the soundness of the prescription. But what does this last amount to? The increase of the population of Great Britain in one single year, would numerically neutralise a movement back on to the land, upon a scale such as the most sanguine theorists with a normal sense of proportion have not ventured upon. Whether East Lothian could carry more people I do not know; but no one with eyes in his head could so much as look at it and imagine that under a patchy system it would produce as much per acre to the wealth of the country as it does to-day, with high rents, high wages, high yields, and, let us hope, reasonable profits. To hand over such a country as this, with all the further outlay involved, to the tender mercies of the small cultivator with practically no capital, would surely be fatuous. At any rate, large farming, landlordism, and all the rest of it, is a more or less vaguely discredited system nowadays, by that •outside element, which is not equipped for judgment, though unfortunately for the country, or for any country, by far the most numerous. British agriculture is very generally supposed to be decadent, regardless, or more often unconscious of the elementary fact that we still grow more grain per acre than any country in the world, and that our farmers as stock-breeders easily lead the world. Misconceptions are natural enough when there are otherwise sane people prepared to tell an audience quite ignorant of these things, that if a field is in grass instead of in wheat, it represents a kind of conspiracy to defraud the people of their food, and who honestly believe a flock of sheep to be useless interlopers, to the exclusion of humanity ! I wonder what proportion of the British nation would be genuinely surprised to learn that sheep are a vital ingredient of the machinery through which the "people's food" can be grown in this country. Rightly or wrongly, the great farmer is out in the shade, nor any longer accounted an object of pride to every true Briton as a peculiarly British institution. There is a fixed notion in towns and cities that he and his capital, and his labourers, could be advantageously supplanted by the small farmer. As "occupiers" only, say the Radicals, as ownership might spell Toryism; as owners, say the Conservatives, who must go with the stream, for that very reason. In the counties of Great Britain traditionally occupied by small farmers, with trifling exceptions there you find the most unproductive land and inferior live-stock, which last is equivalent to waste. They may be happy, but they are generally bad farmers. If this were not sufficiently obvious, the sceptical can purchase for four-pence the annual official returns per acre of every county, where the facts are writ large. As to the contrast in live-stock, it is written on the face of the country sufficiently clearly for any one who runs to read. In conclusion, it would be at least as accurate as epigrammatic to say that, whereas the Dane once came to school in East Lothian, East Lothian, or Great Britain at any rate, is now told to go to school with the Dane. I knew personally in old days, several Danes and Swedes, landowners' sons mostly, sitting at the feet of East Lothian farmers, some of whom must have lived to see the tables turned.

But if the fields of Lothian have altered nothing since then, half the sea-coast is transformed. From Dunbar to North Berwick, and from North Berwick to Gullane and Aberlady, Edinburgh, reinforced to some extent by Glasgow, has stretched an almost continuous chain of habitations. The old quiet nine-hole golf courses of North Berwick, Dunbar, Archerfield, and Gullane, have expanded into nearly a dozen full-length courses, the resort of thousands from all parts of the country, and from across the seas. The fertile farms of East Lothian filter out as they draw near the shore into a thin sandy belt of tillage, which abuts here and there for long distances upon rolling sand dunes and intervening strips of sheep-nibbled turf such as the golfer loves; and beyond the thin sward and the dunes the sea makes fine play upon red reefs of rock and low rugged promontories and interludes of golden sand. Here in old days the Scottish golfer propelled the feather ball, and later on its gutty successor, with swan-necked clubs, over short courses pretty much as nature had made them but for the mellowing influence of the tramp of many feet and the brushing of natural greens. The links on which the Dunbar course is laid out fringe the low rocky shore to the east of the town. It seemed strange playing over them again, after such a gulf of years, and vainly endeavouring to recall the less elaborate and much shorter course of primitive times of which the stone wall hazard at "The Vaults" and the Brox burn alone remained as salient features. But the pleasant sea-girt nature of both the out and in journey, the gorgeous colouring of the rocks, the stern headland of St. Abb's, closing the wide outlook to the east, and the old town upon the west;—these, at any rate, required no effort of memory, and I soon abandoned all futile groping after obliterated details upon the eighteen-hole course of to-day.

Dunbar—though even as I write the restless up-to-date golf architect may possibly be at work—would seem to be tacitly acquiesced in as the happy hunting-ground of the duffer, the conservative, and the middling player. The eight to fourteen handicap man finds it a quite sufficient test of his abilities ; while the numerous and wholly unambitious remnant can whack round with far less tribulation than upon the stretched-out and bunkered-up courses just to the westward. Dunbar is not for the modern scratch and plus man. It is the pleasant stamping ground rather of that vast majority to whom the great game still offers seductive difficulties apart from mere bunkers—men to whom the full-length drive, according to their capacity and their accuracy of approach, is not yet and never will be reduced to anything like a monotony of precision.

It is only for a small minority that recent golf architecture has any true significance. It merely causes the mass of players to use their niblicks oftener, which in itself is not an advantageous item, or confronts them with the frequent alternative of playing short after a meritorious shot (for them), or straining at a fluky one. If they cover the mere length and possibly intervening hazard, there is no pretension to any control over the ball when it reaches the much-bunkered green, which in truth is not laid out for such a shot, but for a well-judged one with an iron club by a first-class player from the closer distance at which his longer drive placed his ball. Playing short is all very well, and is, of course, a time-honoured device in the game, but chiefly as the sequel, and in a sense penalty, to an indifferent shot. That is all right. But as a necessary proceeding for the average man, perhaps, several times in a round, if he really wants to win his match, it is not golf. Of course, he much more often doesn't do this, but slashes away freely, and is even secretly pleased, if by an unusual effort he more than succeeds in his length, and runs over the green into the cavernous corner of a bunker beyond. He will almost certainly remark unblushingly to his adversary, that it was bad luck, and the other, who has played short by design or accident, if also only a moderate player, will very likely half agree with him, as with an easy pitch somewhere on to the green, he divides or wins the hole. This again is not golf for either party. The man with the iron club, for whom this hole was laid out, would not bewail his luck if he were bunkered beyond the green, but would simply recognise that he had miserably failed. All this does not seriously matter. But it is a great revolution that all the good courses should be altered to test the play of one-twentieth of the golfing world, to the frequent dislocation of distances for the bulk of it. It is never, of course, the long carries from the tee, which in any case seem to have gone out of fashion, that are beyond the compass of the average player, but so many of the second shots, which either he cannot attempt at all, or must slash at with the wrong club. This of course detracts, or should detract if he has any regard for the game, just so much from his enjoyment of the round. There probably is no help for the situation. The fatal moment of weakness which let in the American core ball did the whole business. But when one comes to think of .it, it is rather a novel idea that nineteen members out of every twenty in a good club play on a course laid out for the odd twentieth.

There used to be a superstition in the south that every Scotsman was a good, or a fairly good, golfer. Even now, I fancy, a majority of southern golfers are quite unaware that the game belonged purely to the east coast of Scotland, and that the men of Dumfries or Ayr, of Glasgow or of the Highlands, speaking broadly, only adopted it recently, as Englishmen have adopted it. So colossal was the artlessness on this point, that at the annual dinner in London of a large club of which the writer was a member in the 'nineties, the ceremony was invariably opened by the solemn perambulation of the banquet hall by a Highlander in full war-paint, playing a skirl on the bagpipes. This was honestly regarded by two hundred educated Englishmen and golfers as symbolically appropriate and suggestive of the royal and ancient and intensely lowland game, and of the atmosphere of St. Andrews, Musselburgh, or North Berwick.

The Scottish golfer of to-day, as is only natural, exhibits the same wide variety and the same average capacity as his English neighbours, the only sensible difference being that the game reaches lower down the social scale, so far, at least, as that is represented by money. It is not necessary in Eastern Scotland, as in England, to belong to a club, which is unavoidably limited in numbers, and inevitably more or less ex-elusive. Practically all the old Scottish courses arc open to any one who chooses to pay a shilling or two for a day ticket, at a box by the first tee. There are clubs and clubhouses on most links, but a considerable proportion of the players have no connection with them. There are also numbers of golf clubs in Edinburgh and elsewhere, just as there are fishing clubs, who hold their competitions on any course that suits them, or that gives them particular facilities. Dunbar, then, though not accounted a classic course, and held in some scorn by the scratch player, is nevertheless a true sand course, fringing, in fact, the very shore—of quite a good length, too, and well suited to the ordinary performer, for whom it appears in a manner to be set apart. Really bad southern players, when they make their northern pilgrimage in the holiday, generally prefer to swell the crowd upon the classic courses, where they must be as unhappy themselves as a nuisance to others, though, I believe, moral support is to be found in the number of others of the like sort, and the like unaccountable infatuation. But after all, the whole standard of play is enormously raised. The old stock jokes—not the original Scotch ones, but those of the southern boom period—still do duty in the comic papers; but they must emanate from pens and pencils out of touch with present conditions. Red-faced, peppery colonels no longer dig away and blaspheme interminably in bunkers, nor do impossible vulgarians in bizarre attire any longer play the utter imbecile in their caddies' eyes that the belated artist would still have us believe. The suburban courses, and, indeed, most courses, were rich in such spectacles and such incidents ten and twenty years ago. Possibly August may still provide some humoursome sights, even by the seaside. Perhaps some very provincial courses may still yield up their treasures, but I doubt it. The duffer of to-day, on the stretched-out and bunkered courses, with his consistent sixes and sevens, may try the patience of the pair or foursome behind him, but he is neither bad enough, nor eloquent enough to be funny, and in the near past would have been accounted a quite respectable performer on his comparatively untormented pilgrimage round a southern course. The farcical element, who made copy, and whose phantoms still make copy for the newspapers, have died out or been literally driven from the courses by a new generation of slashing youngsters.

Dunbar in its present condition is adapted to the average type of player, whether young or old. It is quite certain that the better man among them would oftener win on such a green than on a championship course, or its near equivalent, and surely this is a good test. It is not only the occasional holes which tempt the slightly better of two moderates to take risks, which are obviously fluky, rather than play short after a creditable drive, but in some other respects the element of luck is greater in the case of players negotiating a course a good deal of which is beyond both their powers to play—as it is laid out to be played.

Throughout the Middle Ages Dunbar, with its strong castle, its situation upon the sea, and on the landward approach from England, was in the thick of the ceaseless hurly-burly. To touch upon the men of might who flung one another in turn out of its wave-washed walls, would he to list the names of every king, baron, and hero, on either side of Tweed, who assisted in the bloody tale of Scottish history. It gave title to a long succession of earls, who played their part in the defence of the Eastern March with interludes of alliance with the national foe, when their personal pride was touched, or their private interests served. The reader's interest is much more likely to be engaged by the reminder that Queen Mary came here with Darnley after the Rizzio murder, riding on a palfrey behind Erskine, "who was much missed by the godly." Later on, infatuated or hypnotised by the strong-willed swarthy scoundrel who wrecked her life, she came here with him. For Bothwell then owned Dunbar and many other properties in the county. Here, under these compromising circumstances, he instituted proceedings for the divorce from his wife, Lord Huntly's sister, the only woman, it is said, he ever felt affection and respect for. From Dunbar they returned to Edinburgh, and to that marriage at Holyrood, which was celebrated on May 15th, almost within three months of Darnley's murder in the Kirk o' Field. Driven from the capital by public opinion and the menace of their enemies, the pair were back at Dunbar in three weeks, and in the middle of June marched with such forces as they could raise, to meet the Confederate Lords at Carberry Hill. The agreement there made placed Mary in their hands, and left Bothwell the opportunity to escape with his life, but nothing more.

The end of this unscrupulous and forceful member of the House of Hepburn, the very apotheosis of a type of Scottish baron then drawing to its end, was characteristic and dramatic. The Scottish government made later attempts to catch him, but he seems to have adopted the career of a corsair in the Shetlands, to die eventually in a Danish prison. The castle of Dunbar was soon after dismantled; but in the next century the town was famous for its herring fisheries, and the great number, not only of Scotch, but of Dutch vessels that gathered there. The castle is now but a worn, shapeless mass of fragments, seated on rugged red rocks of trap, through which a way has been cut for the sea to surge into the harbour. When it is said that the town in the Napoleon wars, and later, saw a good deal of garrison and military life, and has ever since been a yeomanry and militia centre, there is not much of general interest remaining. The rock

formation along the coast, upon both sides of Dunbar, is beautiful in detail for its vivid colouring, and striking for the jagged, rugged outline, whether of cliff or reef, with which it ceaselessly frets the wonderfully transparent seas. In what. high regard it is held among geologists might be guessed at by a glance at the manner in which the various strata of formation are exposed all along the coast: cliffs of trap, ledges of red, white, and yellow sandstone, and slabs of bluish limestone. There are beds of petrified shells, and corals, and rocks of porphyritic greenstone. There is a good deal of columnar work, too, about the harbour, of a kind similar to that which on a great scale has made Staffa and the Giant's Causeway notorious. West of the castle and harbour are craggy cliffs of trap, succeeded by cliffs, and then by ledges, of red and white sandstone. The large parish church of red sandstone, with its lofty tower and expansive breadths of perpendicular window, stands raised well up at the eastern fringe of the town, and can be seen for miles. This is modern, being not yet a century old, but its predecessor, which was wholly destroyed, seems to have been a cruciform building, largely of twelfth or thirteenth century date, and richly endowed as a collegiate church in the fourteenth century by one of the earls of Dunbar.

Nearly three centuries later the body of George Home, the last Earl of Dunbar, High Treasurer of Scotland, Knight of the Garter, and Privy Councillor to James I. in England, was brought here from London for burial. The only object of interest in the church is his magnificent mural monument, nearly thirty feet high. It is of marble, fashioned with all that lavish wealth of ornamentation which distinguished the tombs of the great, and, in the south, of many who were not great, at that period. The last earl, of life size, robed and in armour, kneels in prayer upon a cushion. beneath a lofty and profusely decorated canopy. A life-size mailed figure stands upon a pedestal on either hand, while beneath the frescoed canopy, bearing symbolic figures, an inscription on black marble commemorates this militant agent in the irritating policy of the first and sixth James.

It is a ten-mile stage from Dunbar to Haddington upon the North road, which, pursuing a north-east course all the way from Berwick to Dunbar, there turns due east, and holds that course for the last thirty miles to Edinburgh. For the first half of the stage to Haddington, road and railway, still in near company, push forward with unswerving precision along an almost level seacoast strip, till both leap in near company the rocky gorge of the Tyne at East Linton, and, for the first time seriously diverging, pursue their several ways to the northern capital. Here, just beyond Dunbar, the estuary of this same East Lothian Tyne takes quite a bite out of the otherwise rock-bound coast. It is the first break of this kind north of Tweed. The water of Biel, whose infant streams amid the woods of Nunraw and Whittinghame we gazed upon from the top of the Lammermoors in a former chapter, here babbles beneath our road into Belhaven Bay, and helps to swell the interval of sand-bars and shallow tides and marshy shore. But the rich red lands, stiff with their clean crops, and for this stage of the road relieved and diversified with groves and woods as opulent as the crops, shut out all actual detail of this low sandy sea-line. Across the heavy-laden grainfields; over the great broad rectangles of potato land, thigh deep in their dark green covering of shaughs; beyond the flickering blue-green tops of the thick clustering swedes, or the paler pastures, where heavy Border Leicesters or their crosses are lazily grazing the rye grass and clover ley and tramping it hard for the autumn ploughing; over such foregrounds, and between the woods, you can mark the indeterminate line of the shore, and the gleam of the sea beyond fading into the famous far-spreading woods of Tynninghame.

The Lammermoors are still but some half-dozen miles from the coast, and into this long wedge what a wealth of rural abundance is crowded. With all its triumphs of fatness, and astonishing thrift of tillage, this part of East Lothian, and that, too, the richest part, cannot help being in a way beautiful. Even without the overhanging moors striking their ever-present note of contrast on the one hand, and the constant neighbourhood of a rock-fretted sea upon the other, the atmosphere would be a stately and imposing one for the Devonian colouring of the soil, the much more than Devonian colouring of its produce, the variety and opulence of the woods. The surprising assertions here and there, too, of primitive nature, in the shape of upstanding, untamable hills, shaggy with gorse and grey outcropping rock; the murmur here and there of rushing trout-streams, that, as in the Merse, cut their way through bosky glens which have defied the plough, or that the care of some neighbouring country scat have cherished in more than their native beauty. But even so, there is no call whatever to thus cut a picture out of its frame of hills and sea. At any rate, this half of East Lothian, and, in a modified degree, the whole of it, is at least unique. However it might strike the stranger, there is nothing resembling it, taken as a whole, elsewhere in Scotland, and assuredly nothing approaching its equivalent anywhere in England. This pious opinion, I need hardly remark, is not expressed as applying to the ordinary standards of physical scenery, but purely to its aloofness in many characteristics from ordinary landscapes. From Cumberland to Cambridge, or from Derbyshire to Aberdeen, there is no tract of country like it in the sense that all other districts have more or Iess their prototypes. In most parts of modern Scotland, one has to forego the hundred and one details of landscape, due to mellower conditions and older rural civilisation, a generally softer climate, and, above all, to a less vigorously economic treatment of the soil, and to find compensation in a rather altered point of view. But East Lothian, its eastern half more particularly, seems to have a quality of its own that even with all its ruthless trimness and fatness of foreground compels one's respectful admiration.

If there is now little continuity of occupation among the tenantry of East Lothian, prodigious as have been their collective achievements within the brief compass of a century, in few countries have the old landed families been less uprooted. Hays and Hepburns, Bairds, Sutties, Kerrs, Kinlochs, and other names of immemorial association are all still here. The no'ons homo seems scarcely in evidence. Small lairds, without doubt, were wiped out by the dozen, during the scientific development of agriculture in the cult of the great estate and the large farm. The small laird of provincial habit and attachments was practically extinct here seventy or eighty years ago. It is a country essentially of big things, of great estates, and long rent-rolls. Many of the farmers in former days were richer men than scores of Welsh and west-country squires.

Close to Linton, by the roadside, stand the ample farm buildings, the well-embowered mansion-house of Phantassie. One of the largest farms in the county—some eight or nine hundred acres of arable land—it was for long associated with the name of the Rennies, one of whom, nearly a century ago, introduced the shorthorn into the Lowlands, while his brother was the famous engineer. Close by, too, lived and died Andrew Meikle, who was the virtual inventor of the threshing machine. East Linton, a rather dour but large and important village, stands upon a high bank above the Tyne, which having sung its winding way through the heart of East Lothian, now draws towards its sober end. It is making just here its last serious play in a rocky cleft over which the old stone bridge carries the North road into the village. Just above the latter, affording a delightful but momentary glimpse from the train window, as it strides the adjacent viaduct, is a deep green glen, down which, and visible for a long distance upward, comes coursing the bright waters of the river. A felicitous illustration is here of those frequent relapses into untamed Arcady which, as I have said, yield such pleasant surprises, amid the lush, orderly landscape of East Lothian. It struck me also, on revisiting the once familiar spot, as a happy example of the unchanged condition of all this countryside, despite its still unchallenged supremacy in things material. Though adjoining a large village seated on the main railroad, during all these decades nothing up the glen seemed to have altered in the smallest essential detail. The gorse bloomed upon the steep grassy side of the brae unchecked as of yore, and there was the line of well-remembered willows, huge specimens of their kind, that in the first days of the spring trouting made great hopeful splashes of whity-grey against the still wintry woods. With most of us there are scenes that for no conspicuous reason remain always in the foreground of memory; and these noble willows, waving their grey harbingers of spring over the black eddies of the Tyne, black to peculiarity from the nature of the rocky bottom, have come back to me hundreds of times in many lands, and by scores of other streams often far more beautiful. I somehow expected to find them cut down or shrivelled with the weight of years. But there they still were in all their glory, not shaking out on this occasion, to be sure, the catkins of early April, but merging their late summer foliage in the woody background. An old mill higher up the valley, to be sure, had vanished. So, with the removal of its dam, had the long, still stretch of dead water above it. The river now ran its natural rippling course, and no longer

lingered between brimming banks, beneath the ancient castle of Hailes. For I should not have thus ventured to bring the reader up here, or strained his goodwill perhaps, with these reminiscent philanderings, but for the saving fact that the hoary ruins of Hailes Castle rise here above the stream, which now ripples between uplifted banks, where it once slept in quiet and brim-ruing depths, and caught the shadows of the red walls and the riotous foliage that chokes them. This was, of old, a fortress of renown. Bothwell once owned it, and local tradition, when I used to come a-fishing up here, held stoutly that lie brought Queen Diary hither. This is more than probable, as it lay right in the path between Dunbar and Edinburgh. One used also to be told, however, by the natives, that it was by Traprain Law, which raises its great humpy, rocky shoulder many hundreds of feet in the immediate back round, that she fell into the hands of her enemies. The tradition had it that in skirting the hill, as she thought, upon the safe side, it proved the reverse, and so brought her into their very arms. This did well enough, and was accepted and retained with thankfulness by ingenuous youth with an uncritical fancy for such things.

But unhappily it does not march with historical fact, and is only interesting as an example of the curious drift, of oral tradition. The ivied fragments of the red sandstone towers of Hailes are high enough to frown above the tangle of ash and willow, and alder and oak, which choke it upon the riverside, while rank grasses, nettles, and wild flowers, riot over the mounds which mark the site of vanished buildings, and their defences. The garden of a neighbouring house occupies what was once no doubt the courtyard. At the time of the Hertford invasion of Scotland it belonged to the Earl of Bothwell, and is described by Patten as "a proper house of great strength." It seems to have passed out of the hands of the Hepburns with the disastrous extinction of the later Earl of Bothwell, Queen Mary's evil genius, though the family are still seated at Smeaton in the neighbourhood. Two towers and a fair elevation of connecting curtain still peer above or blink through the tangle of foliage upon the shrunken stream below, though, judging from an old print, the last century must have worked more than common havoc upon this grim relic of a stormy age.


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