96 The Gateway of Scotland or East Lothian, Lammermoor and the Merse

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The Gateway of Scotland
Chapter XIII. The East Lothian Shore


LUCERNA LAUDONIAE, the Lamp of Lothian, as Fordun in the fourteenth century styled the beautiful abbey church of Haddington—a felicitous appellation that has in a manner clung to it for all time—is the only spectacular attraction Haddington offers to the casual visitor. It is of cruciform design, fashioned of rich red freestone, which, a tradition similar to that associated with many other mediaeval edifices maintains, was brought from Garvald, six miles away, by passing it stone by stone along a line of men. The church, of Gothic style, is all that remains of a Franciscan monastery founded in the thirteenth century. The nave measures 200 feet from end to end, the transept about half as much, and there is a fine massive central tower 90 feet high. The western portion of this beautiful building has been always used as the parish church. The rest of it was in the hands of the workmen on a recent visit. It rises above a large well-shaded graveyard outside the town, and near the banks of the Tyne, altogether a site in harmony with its stately proportions and its abounding memories. Whether it was gutted by the English during Hertford's raids in that singular interlude between the English and Scotch reformations, when the former, figuring as Protestants, threw down the altars of Lowland papists, or whether the Scotch reformers, in their iconoclastic orgies after 1559, took the chief hand, I do not know. There seem to have been at one time

as many as fourteen altars in the church, and it was always the burial-place of men of birth and might and piety. Chief occupants of all, perhaps, are the Maitlands of Thirlestaine and Lennoxlove, an immense and gorgeous monument having been reared within the church to the memory of John, Lord Maitland, Chancellor of Scotland, who lies here in effigy beside

coffin stands a stone urn proclaiming that it contains "all the intestines, except the heart" of John of Lauderdale. Perhaps the last-mentioned article was found wanting! Almost within the shadow of the church, and just across the Tyne, John Knox was born. The very house, with dubious authenticity, is pointed out. He attended the Grammar School here in popish times, and as he was notoriously reticent about the first forty years of his life, it is assumed that the creed against which he raged so violently for the rest of it, hitherto satisfied him. The Earls of Bothwell were Lords of Haddington in his day, and an old house with a round tower and steeple turret remains in a side street as a survival of their fortress. But neither for the teeming story, lay or ecclesiastical, of this ancient town, nor yet for a purview of its few remaining architectural fragments that bear witness to it, is there space here. With the long Anglo-Scottish struggle; with the civil wars waged in the cause of religion; with the bloodless, but bitter theological cleavages that have thrilled Scotland in later times, and of which the average Englishman knows less than nothing;—in all these things Haddington has played a prominent part. And I have had the hardihood to pass over all its stir of drum and trumpet and pulpit, and at the sight of its shrunken corn market become wholly absorbed in its other atmosphere, and dropped uncompromisingly into reminiscence! There are people, too, I am quite sure, who would discard all these things, and all the men and women of the ages who have fought, or made pageants, or preached, or foregathered here, and hunt out the house where Jane Welsh lived, before she married the sage and prophet of Ecclefechan.

Leaving the Edinburgh road to pursue its broad way through the eastern part of the county into MidLothian, and climbing the Carleton hills by the one that leads north to the sea-coast, a notable bit of country spreads out below. This is that low undulating and comparatively treeless tract which bulges slightly out into the Firth. On its western edge the woods of Gosford and Luffness mantle about the sandy flats of Aberlady Bay. Its eastern limit may be roughly defined by the wide woods of Tynninghame, which, through the prescience of a long ago Earl of Haddington, now sweep in luxuriant beauty along the edge of the Tyne's mouth, and give annual pleasure to a multitude besides their owners. A hundred and fifty years ago much of this smooth remorselessly trim country was marsh. It is now, and has been for at least half that period, a perfect picture of scientific farming on a great and generous scale. It is not such a picture as would captivate the artist. On the contrary, he would ramp and rave at such homesteads, planted here and there upon the waving chequered plain, and thrusting up their tall red engine chimneys above the scant fringe of timber. This is not Dunbar red land, but a heavier soil for the most part, of but moderate original fertility. It has been farmed, however, in like manner, and as if every square yard were precious: though, perhaps, an equally moving stimulant is the Lothian farmer's hatred of ragged edges, of crooked lines, of straggling, unkempt fences, of thicket and other nests of weeds, and all things that incidentally make for beauty. One might add, too, an all-pervading prejudice against hedge-row trees and open ditches; though for that matter the whole of this country was tile-drained before most of us were born. As a last word to the occasional reader, who may care for such things, virtually the whole of this district is arable. In old days there was not an acre of permanent pasture outside the policies, but now there seems to be a field or two here and there laid away to grass. Present rents average about £3 an acre. Potato-fields are still conspicuous here, and come once in the six-course shift, as of old, instead of twice, as is frequent on the superior lands of Dunbar. It is through this open country, between the Garleton hills and the Firth, that the main line to Edinburgh runs. And here, at last, is a point on it familiar to hundreds of southerners. For out among the great turnip and wheat fields stands the forlorn little junction of Drem, unchanged, and apparently unconscious of the flight of time. Here the southern golfer bound for classic shores changes trains for North Berwick, near by, or gets into his fly for Gullane, still nearer. In former days the Peffer burn silted through this water-logged country. It has now this long time been transformed into a shallow canal, running straight for miles between high banks, catching the drip of the tile drains from the prolific fields. I remember being present at the testing of an exceptional yield of swedes in a field upon its banks, which, for those whom such details might concern, may be noted went approximately thirty-five tons to the acre ! But the point is that an old man employed in the operation, told me he well remembered this very field as part of a marshy waste, held as an uncanny country by the children for the will-o'-the-wisp which scared them on autumn nights. The rich colouring in summer and autumn of the fields, and the red flare of the sandstone tile-roofed steadings, geometrical in design, all give the landscape a character of its own. I well remember, too, the look of this stretch of country on still, murky November afternoons, when the summer colouring had vanished and left the land sear and brown, when the smoke from half-a-dozen steam ploughs and as many threshing engine chimneys within easy sight, drifted about in the deepening gloom, giving out an oddly conflicting sense of stir and a queer impression of beef and bread manufacture at high pressure, rather than the normal calm of a conventional winter Arcady. And through it all, in weird contrast, came the almost ceaseless cackle of wild geese and the stray pipe of passing wisps or golden plover. The steam ploughs have almost gone. It is, perhaps, without parallel for a great mechanical invention, widely adopted and once hailed as an epoch-making contrivance with unknown potentialities in the greatest of industries, to snuff out. But this is practically what has happened to steam cultivation in parts of Europe and America, and for reasons which the reader, who has probably had more than enough of agriculture, will care little.

But the summer sun is supposed to be shining on these pages. And after all, this remorseless landscape, where neither the violet, the primrose, the blue bell, the wild rose, nor the honeysuckle, nor the may nor the elder, nor any of the commonplace wildings of the passing season, find footing to grow or opportunity to put out their blossoms, has another side to it. For it is a land of magnificent distances, and moreover abuts upon an always rocky, and distinguished seacoast. Along this last, too, there is for the most part a pleasant interlude, where the ruthless austerity of East Lothian agriculture pothers out into sandy commons and rolling dunes, and blowing woodlands. And here disports itself in villas, mansions, and cottages, clustering thick or sparsely scattered, a joyous population, who, as all the world knows, worship (on week days) one all-exacting deity. From Aberlady Bay and Gullane Hill, whose broad green slopes look down upon it to North Berwick, however diverse their paths may be on the first day of the week, they all lead the same road on the other six. Most of the able-bodied between four and seventy years of age among a fluctuating community of several thousand souls pursue the bounding core-ball with tireless assiduity over nearly a dozen different golf courses, and have, for the most part, no more truck with the country we have been wandering in than they have with the moon. This stretch of littoral must not be confused with the many courses, or sets of courses, on the west or northern coasts of Scotland, of championship class or otherwise, that are familiar names to southern ears. They are not classic soil ; this is. Those others belong to the modern epoch as much as Sandwich, Harlech, or Portrush, and more so than Westward Ho or Hoylake. They were almost as alien to their atmosphere as any in Kent or Ireland, and, as much as these, are the result of the modern development of the game. But here upon the Firth of Forth, we are in the real old golfing section of Scotland, though the procession of courses that on either side of it now line the shores of Fife and Lothian represent, of course, a state of things bearing small relation to that of thirty years ago—thirty, forty, sixty, or a hundred years for that matter. The small developments in detail of the game up till then are of trifling consequence compared to the chasm which divides any of those periods from this one in the number of followers and the attention bestowed on golf throughout the civilised world.

This is assuredly classic soil, not merely because North Berwick lies upon it, and more historically famous Musselburgh, shorn of its glory and attraction, lies virtually within sight, but from the fact that golf has been for hundreds of years a familiar thing upon the coast. What a difference, though, in degree! I think as a southerner one may fairly account it a privilege, in view of all that has happened, to have played over Gullane links after an interval of forty years. The fact, too, of having followed the game more or less through all its changes and expansion in the South makes such isolated memories of these old conditions seem rather precious. Special trains from Edinburgh and streams of motors from everywhere now bring players to the three courses laid out on and about the broad low hill of Gullane, to that of Luffness at its foot, or to the adjacent championship course of Muirfield. While on a sixth arena, of more modest compass, infants of all ages and both sexes engage with as much gravity as their elders. A mixed foursome, aggregating perhaps thirty years, may be seen holing out on one green, while on a neighbouring tee an urchin, as recently hatched, is addressing his ball with preternatural gravity. Such wee folks are usually incapable of playing ordinary games by rule and to order. None of those spasmodic evolutions quite irrelevant to the business, nor clamorous interludes which distinguish the very small boy wielding a bat or delivering a ball of any kind are visible here. They appear to play what was once called in its callow days of golf-understanding by the southern press, the "old man's game," with all the gravity of an old man. This may be due, in part, to the discipline and sporting spirit, which it is apparently the sacred duty of the attendant, mother, nurse, or governess, in this atmosphere to instil. The solemnity and attention to green etiquette of these midget golfers under the eye of their mamma, who will doubtless play her round in the afternoon, is an engaging spectacle, not to be witnessed, for lack of opportunity, on any English courses known to me. Gullane course in the dim days when, as a light-hearted cricketer from the far south, in the company of my young Scotch friends, I first miss-hit gutty balls round it, had just, I think, been increased to fifteen holes.

Those old swan-necked drivers with long springy shafts were much more disconcerting to the player of other games than the stiff-handled short-headed weapon of a later day. I have still a relic of these East Lothian days in the shape of a driver of the most approved type and quality. It appears to strike the modern as a positively uncanny thing. The ball had to he "swept" away with these old implements, not hit. I do not think the system of right arm and tight right-hand grip, followed and successfully so by some tremendous drivers and quite good players, would have been possible with those more exacting clubs. At any rate, I am quite sure that so then unorthodox a style would have created amazement on Gullane Hill in the days of old. In regard to the mother course of this now celebrated group of courses at Gullane, in the early 'seventies I seem to recall it as very little played over upon ordinary days. I can still, however, with the eye of memory see very distinctly one or two couples of well-known local farmers breaking the solitude of the course—one of them particularly, a man of years and repute, in all ways playing a strong game, in a black, low-crowned, chimney-pot hat. I can recall his long swing and easy style with great precision, for the excellent reason that he was the first good performer I had ever watched, and that, too, with the interest of a rather zealous player of other games. It was then the fashion, and for nearly twenty years afterwards, for Englishmen who caught a glimpse of golf in their Scottish journeyings, and of many who had never even done thus much, to condemn it unequivocally as an unthinkable pursuit, though a trifling handful even then drawn by accident or curiosity to St. Andrews were caught in its toils. I am almost sure, however, none were to be found at North Berwick or anywhere else on the shores of the Firth in those days. For myself, I admit that the very first sight of the game captivated me entirely, and am, on the whole, thankful that the opportunity to wrestle with its elements on the old nine holes at Archerfield, and rarely over the smoother swards of Gullane were not too abundant. For there were other things at that time of life in that country more useful and more spacious and more active to be done. A friend and companion of those days, much longer, and more nearly concerned with them, reminds me that on Saturdays and other holidays players from Edinburgh used to muster in fair strength on Gullane Hill. But these things are, of course, all matters of common knowledge among the initiated. Is there not still the little round tower on the top of the hill, which was once the headquarters of a close society of nine golfers, who just filled it at their prolonged session ? The Round-house Club still exists as a somewhat ex-elusive society, but expanded and detached from its original fortress. Whatever may be the mysteries of initiation to masonry and kindred bodies, I am quite sure they are as child's-play to those exacted in former days of each newly elected member to the liberties of the stone tower on the hill. Firstly, it was ordained that he should take a header into the sea, I think in his clothes, off "Joveys' nuik," a well-known rocky point below the links, and subsequently, by way no doubt of staving off any evil consequences, it was incumbent upon him to drink a bottle of whisky to his own check. From a weaker generation and a more inclusive company these tremendous proofs of worth, I need hardly add, arc no longer demanded.

Standing to-day on Gullane IIill, where the keen winds wage almost continuous warfare, to the despair of pilgrims from the woody courses and sheltered greens of the gentler south., things indeed have changed. All over the green waste, rolling from Gullane old village to Luffness, and Aberlady Bay, the several courses wind their intricate, be-bunkered, stretched-out lengths, peopled with men and women plying the daily round. The puzzled conies scuttle, and the peewits drubb and

cry as of yore, when all this was a lonely warren and sheep pasture, and in the lower parts a snipe bog. Over the wide shiny sands of Aberlady Bay, the far-receding tides still race, and in autumn push before them great companies of curlews, knots, dunlins, and oysters-catchers, of greenshanks and black ducks, of plovers, grey and golden, and sandpipers; while from the fields at sunset, just as of old, the wild geese come honking down to swell the nightly clamours of the shore. As you wait on one of the higher tees with the patience for which popular Scottish links are an admirable school, or, better still, on Sunday, when the golf ball has ceased from troubling, and the noncombatants venture fearlessly out from their lairs into the open, Gullane Hill offers a superb and justly celebrated prospect. For it crowns a point of land from which you can see the whole Firth both up and down, and at close quarters.

Westward beyond Aberlady Bay, and most effectively at evening, when its dark rugged form is reared above the fifteen miles of green and woody shore, Arthur's Seat, with the Pentlands in its rear, springs nobly up against the crimson of a sunset sky. Smoke wreaths curling around its feet and floating out towards Inchkeith significantly mark the Scottish capital, while a blur of broken land and narrowing waters hide the Forth Bridge in the very eye of the setting sun. Those high-rolling hills, the Lomonds of Fife, and its far-stretching village-studded shores, have been before us in familiar fashion again and again in these pages. But here a dozen or so miles across the water, one is placed on almost intimacy with the gracious southern bounds of that ancient kingdom, which, as part of the later realm of Scotland, always seems the complement as it were, in influence and civilisation, if not always in agreement, of the Lothians and the Merse. You can here follow its shores from Burntisland to Fife Ness, where the corner turns and the line of coast runs up to St. Andrews, the other capital of mediaeval Scotland. There is nearly always shipping, too, on the Firth, from the red-winged fishing smacks of Leith, to the war vessels of all types that have now their havens here.

Turning inland you have the spaciousness of the Lothian atmosphere to perfection. It seems to matter little that the foregrounds are geometrical and trim, and lack the mute invitation of most summer landscapes to their fields and woods, when forty miles of the Lammermoors rise and fall in endless waves behind them. Luffness House, embosomed in foliage above the Peffer's mouth, is a seat of the Hopes, partly modernised, but of long story and tradition. The grounds are surrounded by the traces of earthworks and ditches

raised in 1549 by the Scottish General de Thermes, who erected a post here for intercepting supplies on their way to an English garrison then quartered at Haddington. There are remains, too, in a pointed doorway and fragmentary wall of a Carmelite convent. The fishing village of Aberlady, near by, is redolent of old days, and with its many red-tiled roofs is as mellow as the invincible austerity of Scottish architecture permits the hand of time to make it. Aberlady made up its mind that Napoleon had selected it for his landing place in 1804-5. Nearer Gullane, and on the fringe of the links, is Saltcoats, in former days, like so many of these large farms, a family estate, and the ruinous remains of the old mansion still stand in the fields. The property was granted to one Livingstone in the i\Iiddle Ages for killing a wild boar that had wrought havoc in the countryside and defied all its heroes till this one encountered and slew the public enemy. The property remained with his descendants till the eighteenth century, and when it was sold the sword and spear that killed the boar were still in the garret, and were purchased for a trifle by a man in Edinburgh, who bore the family name. They are said to have been hung for some time in Dirleton church. The present ruin is the remains of two square towers, with a living room and a kitchen, a roomy fortified dwelling, built by George Livingstone about 1590. The original pele tower was much older, and before the grant on the wild boar account to the Livingstones, is traditionally said to have belonged to the Knights of Malta. The present condition of the building is due to the fact of its having been used as a quarry in erecting the present steading of Seallcoats farm.

Gullane, a secluded enough village when I first knew it, lying around two expansive greens, with a single inn, which then sufficed for its golfing world, is now a town with a long street of shops, several hotels, and a neighbourhood covered with private houses. Its ancient name was Golyn, and within its parish was the now important village of Dirleton. The remains of a mediaeval church in picturesque decay in its midst must arouse ungratified curiosity in many passers-by; a roofless ivy-clad ruin in the middle of an ancient churchyard. A semi-circular Norman arch, dividing nave from chancel, almost alone survives as an assured fragment of the original twelfth-century building, the remainder being, I believe, of the Reformation period. For the rising importance of the rival village had prevailed, and the church of Golyn was cast down in 1631, and that of Dirleton erected to supply its place. Perhaps, too, the fact that the glebe land was all buried by a sandstorm about this time had something to do with the extinction of its ecclesiastical existence.

It is not surprising that Gullane has very much more than turned the tables on Dirleton in recent years. Half-a-dozen sand courses at its gates, and these only forty minutes from Edinburgh, would alone make the fortune of any place that was given the opportunity and reasonably encouraged by a railroad. But the bright-coloured, rocky shores, with the sandy little golden bays and rolling commons, where the wild flowers rejected of the Lothian farmer find a home, afford everything that can be desired in seaside luxury for young and old; while on the invigorating quality of the breezes it is not necessary to enlarge. There are many charming houses, and bright gardens, too, have been created, in spite of difficulties of wind above, and sand below. It is the most wide-open place conceivable. You seem to see every bit of the sky all the time, at all points of the compass, and for obvious reasons feel every wind that blows equally. Gullane leans, moreover, towards the dry and sunshiny, and the sun, though it does not often cause a man to tear off his clothing, or desire to do so anywhere upon this coast, sheds a singularly radiant light upon land and sea. There are a good few permanent residents, and a greater number who reside for the six summer months, the men folk going to and fro from Edinburgh, while still more, of course, come for briefer holiday periods. English and even American golfers are constant visitors, and, indeed, it would be hard to name a place where such a variety of courses is offered, and consequently a comparative freedom from overcrowding. The modern championship course of Muirfield adjoins the village, and, unlike the others, is reserved for members. It is said to be almost perfect golf for the scratch or plus player. As it all lies, however, in a single large and rather level enclosure surrounded by a stone wall, its general appearance is uninteresting and artificial in the highest degree.

Dirleton used to boast within the small orbit of its earlier world that it was the prettiest village in Scotland. I see now in slightly modified form, through the medium of the guide-book oracles, that it reiterates the claim to a much wider public. This is not, to be sure, a flight to any great a sthetic heights, but Dirleton, which has not altered a bit, is assuredly a delectable little place. It mostly fronts upon a village green, one side of which is occupied by a hoary fortress of historic fame, beautifully embowered among foliage and gardens kept up with assiduous care for this last half-century. The village dwellings, each in their own gardens, though a trifle formal, look what they are, the creation of a former landlord's pride and care. An admirable old inn, where the little local golf club used in old days to sup once a year, and sup formidably as regards accessories, has the place of honour. The kirk, dignified but unbeautiful, stands retired from the green amid stately timber, and the manse, still occupied by a minister of old celebrity on links and rinks, lurks snugly across the road. The Iodge gates of the great house to whose fostering care in the past this pleasant scene is mainly due, open into its midst. The said mansion, Archerfield, a great square pile of Georgian complexion, stands far back amid luxuriant woods, flanked by deep belts of sombre fir that stretch away to the seashore in dark, solid, rather striking masses. Alongside of them are the links: in the days I have so often alluded to, a rough nine holes, now doubled, and assuredly the most alluring little course in natural texture, and for other reasons, upon the whole coast, though too short for serious rank among them.

Near the adjacent shore the rocky island of Fidra rears itself high above the reef-fretted waves, and is now adorned with an imposing lighthouse. To the east and west are two smaller islands, the Lambie and Ebrochy, while the Bass towers beyond far out at sea. Between village and seashore is a farm that was created out of almost pure sand—hundreds, probably far more, of loads of its soil being exchanged to their mutual benefit with that of a heavy-land farm two miles inland, by the tenant of both. Such was the enterprise of the East Lothian farmer in the great times ! Nevertheless, I well remember the fact that the seeding of the spring corn was always followed by a period of anxiety, lest peradventure a high wind should arise and blow the whole crop—seed, that is to say, top soil and all—into the sea, or into the next parish, before it had taken root, as more than once happened.

Such is Dirleton. But its castle is, of course, the overwhelming attraction, and a favourite resort of golf-widows and orphans, and other visitors from North Berwick. Portions of the towers and walls remain, heavily festooned with ivy and all such kinds of foliage as love to climb and twine about these old memorials of a truculent and bloody age. But some great vaulted chambers on the ground floor are, perhaps, the most interesting feature remaining. The gardens, with their bright display of flowers and beautiful shaded bowling-green, though of no contemporary significance, provide a most harmonious setting for the old pile, and vastly enhance the charm of the spot. The castle was of considerable importance throughout the whole bloody tale of Scottish history, and was constantly the object of attack or defence in all the wars with England. Originally reared by a Vaux in the thirteenth century, it was one of the castles that resisted Edward I. in 1290, and was captured by Beck, Bishop of Durham.

In the next century it fell through an heiress to the Haliburtons, and ultimately descended to the Ruthvens, one of whom took part in the murder of Rizzio. James VI. with characteristic timidity took refuge here for some time, when an epidemic was raging in Edinburgh, and at the Gowrie conspiracy in the same reign the Ruthvens forfeited the estates. That sinister being, Logan of Restalrig, whose concern with this business we told of when at Fast Castle, had an eye on Dirleton, as a reward for his service in the event of the plot succeeding. "I care not," he wrote, to its owner and his fellow-conspirator, "for all the other land I have in the kingdom, if I may grip it [Dirleton], for I esteem it the pleasantest dwelling in Scotland." If he wrote this with the waves raging round him at Fast Castle, one can well understand how his appetite was for the moment whetted. At this Gowrie forfeiture it was granted to Sir Thomas Erskine, who had come, it was said, to the assistance of the king at the critical moment, and was now created Lord Dirleton. During the civil wars the castle was captured by Generals Monk and Lambert, and finally dismantled. In due course it was purchased with the adjoining property by Sir John Nisbet, the most eminent lawyer in Scotland, at the close of the seventeenth century, whence passing in the female line more than once, it is now with the Archerfield estate the property of Mrs. Hamilton Ogilvie.

Scottish, even more than English lawyers, had great facilities through the seventeenth, and yet more through the eighteenth century, for acquiring property and founding families, and they did not miss their opportunities. They were the nabobs of his time, says Ramsay of Ochtertyre, who reports a favourite aphorism of one of them, a comical Lord of Session: "Gear ill-gotten and well-hained will always last against what is well come by but ill guided." Their rival nabobs at the prodigious material rise of Scotland in the eighteenth century were the returned East Indians, and doubtless also some West Indian planters too. However, the fortunes of these last, whether acquired by dubious methods from orientals or by slave labour from Jamaica and Rarbadoes, were, at least, clear increment to their native country. That the intricacy of Scottish law and the dumfoundering phraseology in which it revelled alone placed the hapless layman caught in its toil at some peculiar disadvantage we can well believe. Moreover, the fact of land being almost the only security for ready money, prior to Scotland's industrial awakening, turned lawyers into lairds even more frequently than in the sister kingdom. Indeed, Sir Walter himself makes no little play on this subject, as we all know, and is never happier than with those humoursome, long-winded limbs of the law he has so inimitably painted.

North Berwick, in the ears of the world at large, simply stands for golf, with the biggest of G's. Vaguely mixed up with Berwick-on-Tweed, it may be, and indeed I well know is, but as regards its supposed raison d'etre there is no confusion whatever. And this may seem rather curious, since till comparatively recent times it had only a nine-hole course. St. Andrews, as everybody knows, is in itself a place of high distinction. North Berwick has structurally no distinction whatever. A hard, sombre little fishing town, with the scant relics of an abbey, a due share of the ruggedly picturesque though low-lying East Lothian seacoast, and a fine view of the Bass and the Law is about all that there is to be said for it. That whole streets of detached and handsome villas, and a mile or more of even imposing residences scattered along the seaboard have sprung up within my memory, is a fact of little abstract interest. It used to be a modest but popular seaside resort from Edinburgh, and though still no doubt on intimate terms with the capital, has now a far wider appeal. It has a slightly aristocratic flavour, and is supported by the usual three classes of well-to-do folk—the permanent resident, the summer resident, and the holiday visitor. Its better houses, like those of Gullane, let furnished at handsome rents—always by the month be it remembered, and not by the week as in England. All well-to-do southern Scotland, who have not their own holiday houses, go to the sea for one month or for two months, never for five, seven, or nine weeks. It would be impossible—they could not be accommodated; it would upset the letting arrangements of every house in the place. At Gullane, for instance, the whole floating population depart on July 31st, and an entirely new set come in till August 31st, when another general post takes place. In apartments it is just the same. Unmindful of this idiosyncrasy of Scottish life, I once scoured the far-expanded streets and terraces of Dunbar, in a vain attempt to engage rooms for, say August 20th, for a fortnight. But the dates, I soon discovered, were impossible. There were plenty of rooms, and plenty of willing landladies, but those who were empty, and those who soon would be, expected to let on September 1st for a month, and preferred the bird on the bush to that in the hand. I came at last to realise that my proposition was regarded as almost uncanny. If a whole nation does the same, I suppose it is all right, and you get used to it. But if unaccustomed to map out your time by lunar months, it comes as something of a shock to be regarded by landladies as almost a suspicious character for the mere expression of a desire to stay at a seaside, or indeed, for that matter, at an inland resort, from the 20th of July or August for a fortnight or three weeks. Hotels and the like, it is needless to add, are not run on these cast-iron principles.

The original golf club of North Berwick was formed in 1832, and consisted of fifty members elected from all over the district. But the course belongs to the corporation, like most others in Eastern Scotland, and is free to anyone at the usual payment - 2s. a day in this case. The eighteen or twenty handicap man, as I have before remarked, generally selects a crowded course, so long as it is a famous one, and what satisfaction he derives from this method of procedure still remains, so far as I know, a secret locked in his own breast. The etiquette of the Scottish links is so rigid and the manners are so admirable, that even when he habitually plays with his wife, who receives half a stroke from him, the infelicity of his selection remains quite possibly concealed from his eyes. The North Berwick course is much congested in summer, and constitutes, I believe, a popular stamping ground for these misguided souls from all parts of the country. That no ordinary calculation, even of an initiated and discreet person, can render it safe to walk about on, I had speedy and sufficient proof. But there is really nothing more to be said about a green so celebrated in golfing literature, unless, perhaps, to note that a second course has been opened within the last few years. The little harbour and the rocks about it are characteristic of the coast, and the Bass here displays itself superbly a mile or so from the shore, though the only access to it is by a small steam launch, which plies from Canty Bay, two miles eastward of the town, and has, I believe, a monopoly of the traffic. I was unable to revisit it, owing to the incessant wind; for the difficulty of landing in the single available spot is such that the trip is only feasible in calm weather.

The shape of the rock, which rises 320 feet out of the waves, is singularly imposing, and its sides are wholly precipitous, save where its broad back shelves down into the sea at the landing-place. The interests are manifold, and cover the centuries. Zoologically the thousands of solan geese or gannets, which have found an immemorial home in its inaccessible cliffs, make the rock in this particular unique. In old times these birds were accounted a delicacy, figured upon the tables of kings, and fetched a high price in the market, though rejected by the modern palate. The education of the young birds is conducted on heroic principles. Stuffed to repletion by the parents with poddlies, a species of cole-whiting which abounds in these seas, they become encased in a thick coat of fat, and in due course are hefted unceremoniously out of their nest, to fall into the sea below. Here they are supported without upon the waves, and nourished within by their own obesity, till their wings and natural instincts develop sufficiently to start life in earnest. The birds, with whose nests the cliff ledges are crowded in the breeding-season, are of course protected, the rock being private property. Its history commences, like that of most such storm-beaten islands, with a sixth-century saint—in this case St. Baldred, of notable name among the missionaries of the north. He is said to have died here, and considering that to this day the lighthouse people are sometimes confined to the Rock for weeks together, one can well believe that this one, like so many others on the coast of Britain, received the parting breath of the saints who frequented them. Local nomenclature on the mainland still recalls the wonder of St. Baldred's miracles. The Bass is indelibly associated, and for all time, with the name of the famous family of Lauder. Though so prolific and tenacious a breed that I have seen somewhere a list of thirty and odd estates in South-Eastern Scotland, held in old days by different branches of the stock, the Lauders of the Bass stand apart and by themselves, being also—though I tremble as I make this statement, so ramified is the Lauder lineage—identical with the Lauders of Lauder, whom we shall meet anon. The first Lauder of the Bass became so by virtue of his heroic support of William Wallace, the Rock being granted him by the Bishop of St. Andrews, together, no doubt, with that territory on the mainland which his descendants held with it. His son was a devoted follower of Bruce, and was one of the plenipotentiaries who signed the treaties both of 1323 and 1327. The family kept a grip of it, rejecting the money overtures, and defying all other attempts of the Stuart kings to get hold of it, till very near the time when it was purchased for the Crown in the reign of Charles II. Valueless financially but for the gannets, it must have been strategically a fine asset to a Scottish family in the everlasting struggle to keep place and property. A chronicler of the house tells us that the family only summered there in times of peace, living otherwise upon the mainland. They were all buried in the old church of North Berwick, which has been gradually consumed by the sea, till now there is but a fragment of it left upon the sand. A flat stone in the centre of the green, near the old almost vanished twelfth-century church, still marked the hereditary burying-ground of the Lauders of the Bass eighty years ago, since which the encroaching sea has obliterated the spot.

The Lauders shone both as churchmen and ambassadors. They provided Scotland with several bishops, and were frequently governors of Berwick when it was in Scottish hands. It was Sir Robert Lauder, "our Loveit of the Bass," as James III. calls him, who had to conduct those waggon loads of pence, eight horses to a load, in which Edward IV. sent the Queen's marriage portion, through the rutty tracks of Lothian. The most eventful incident upon the Rock during the long occupation of the Lauders, was the month's sojourn there of James, son of Robert III. of Scotland, on his way to France for his education. Eventful, because it was after sailing from there that he was captured by the English, and detained in the south for nineteen years. James's acquaintance with the Bass probably suggested the idea to him of its unequalled advantage, from other points of view. For it was he who first made use of it as a prison.

But its notoriety as a prison-house is, of course, associated with the Covenanters, for whose benefit the Government of Charles II. especially purchased it. Every good Presbyterian takes his hat off to the Bass, or is expected to. The grim heroes who inspired the resistance to the attempts of Charles and Lauderdale to impose the Anglican Church, and particularly bishops, upon Scotland, were herded into the unwholesome and gloomy prison, whose remains still speak vividly to those who have read the blood-curdling accounts of the "martyrs martyrs of the Bass." The Revolution of 1688 liberated such of them as survived out of the thirty or forty who were here immured, and replaced them, as was only just, with some of their former persecutors. And now ensued by far the most dramatic episode in its whole story. Four of Claverhouse's late officers were imprisoned, or one should perhaps say detained, here, for they were obviously at large in June 1691. On one occasion, when the small garrison were outside the fortified wall which defended the only accessible point, loading coal, these Jacobite prisoners shut the gates on them, and were thus in possession of the rock. They were joined by three or four ardent spirits, and, having possession of the guns, were practically secure from any attack that the authorities at Edinburgh could make upon them. Thus the situation remained for months, and its sensational nature attracted other enthusiasts for King James, till the garrison rose to sixteen men. They had boats and were able without difficulty to seize provisions on different parts of the coast. On one occasion a small Danish ship, quite ignorant of the situation, came within close range of the guns, and was seized and plundered. For two years the Government could do nothing but keep watch on the opposite shore.

At last they despatched two small war vessels and another craft to watch the island more closely; but a French frigate came to the rescue and drove them away. A man who had supplied the rebels with provisions was captured, and, as a terrible example, was hanged on the mainland, in full view of the rock; but its defenders scattered the attendant crowd by a well-directed shot into their midst. Eventually, however, renewed efforts by the Government to cut off supplies began to tell, and at length impending starvation forced Middleton, their leader, to offer terms. The envoys sent to discuss them, however, were entertained as if supplies were no object, and contrivances arranged to make the garrison appear much stronger than it was. Ultimately, after holding out for three years, and by far the latest piece of British soil to yield to King William, the Rock was surrendered. The garrison received their lives and freedom, and the best of terms, as well as an uncommon meed of admiration from the whole Jacobite world. The works on the Bass were soon after this demolished, and about 1706 the Crown sold it to Sir hew Dalrymple, a great lawyer, whose descendants still own it, together with the property on the mainland which doubtless was the cause of the island purchase. At the end of Quality Street a spacious old house with pleasant grounds relieves the sombreness of one old portion of the little town, and has been usually a second residence of the Dalrymple family, their country seat of Luchie being in the near neighbourhood. The old Cistercian nunnery of North Berwick, founded in the twelfth century, was a house of some importance. Several successive prioresses were Homes of Polwarth and elsewhere, and James VI. seems to have handed over the whole property to that family, who must have had on this account, and for lands and favours no doubt bestowed by them, more title to it than usually existed in the shameless scramble. The Scottish nobility, however, would have been more than human if they had foregone their opportunities, after the example shown them by their neighbours. And Heaven knows there was nothing superhuman about the Scottish nobility of that day, unless it was the activity they showed in keeping the pot of State perpetually seething. But scant remains of the two gable ends and other fragments standing near the present station are left of a house whose forgotten glories Scott has caused to glimmer again in the deathless pages of Marmion. The scene at the priory, when Fitz Eustace takes the unwilling Clara from the train of the Abbess of Whitby into the toils of the hated Marmion at Tantallon, will be one of familiar memory.

The parish church that was in use in my day is now a ruin, deserted for a new one, but as a seventeenth-century building it calls for no comment. Of the original parish church at the foot of Quality Street, where the Lauders of the Bass were buried, nothing remains but the porch and the font. It seems to have been used as a quarry for the surrounding buildings. The promontory on which it stands was in former days disconnected with the shore at high tide, and the interval crossed by a stone bridge. This inconvenience seems to have been the cause of its abandonment for the seventeenth-century church now in its turn deserted. Seven miles out at sea is the low-lying rock, a mile in length, so conspicuous an object at the entrance of the Firth, and carrying an important lighthouse. My own recollections of a choppy passage to the Isle of May, long ago, are too vague for serious recall, even if it were worth it. There is nothing of interest but the fragments of a chapel, indicative of the invariable ecclesiastical associations and significance of such islands with monastic houses. In remote times, oddly enough, the island belonged to the Abbey of Reading; and in later ones, James IV., who was an indomitable sportsman, used to go there in a boat to shoot wild fowl.

Worth Berwick Law has of necessity provoked a word of notice here and there on various pages of this book, as it is so aggressively visible from everywhere, and whether from afar or near, so suggestive of a freak of nature. One knows of many "Sugar loaves" in Britain, detached from hill or mountain ranges. But this one has no remote affinity with any range. It shoots up without any apparent reason from a virtually level and extremely trim country of wheat and oats and turnips and potatoes, to a sharp point nearly seven hundred feet high, that in mere form would reflect no discredit on the Snowdon range, and put to shame any hill on the Cheviots or the Lammermoors. The Bass, like a huge mastodon squatting on the deep, is remarkable enough. The great whale-backed Traprain is singularly isolated, though not extraordinarily out of place. But North Berwick Law, which I always think of as the central figure of these three curiosities that gaze across at one another, is far the most uncanny. Witches astride of broomsticks flew over it, of course, as thickly as modern aeroplanes, and among its various traditions is a curious legend, embalmed in a later ballad, from which it appears that a Borthwick at one time owned the Law, and

"Abode in his seaward tower
\Which looketh on to the German Sea,
A wild and lonely bower."

He possessed a lovely daughter, for whose favour Willie o' Cockburnspath, and Murray o' Marshall were competitors to the death. Just as they had arranged to settle the matter at the sword's point, or at any rate settle which should not have her, the proud parent, hearing of their intention, intervened on behalf of his daughter's outspoken preference for the Cockburnspath hero, but only on the outrageous condition that the young man should first carry his prospective bride to the top of the Law, without letting down his burden. The desperate struggles of the gallant with his fair burden, whose weight we have no means of estimating, as he nears the top are graphically described. When at last, by superhuman efforts, he achieves the feat, his "heart bursts" with the strain, and he falls dead upon the summit, and the lady goes mad.

"There's a green grave on North Berwick Law,
And a maniac comes and sings,
And with the burden of her song
The valley 'neath her rings."

The coast rises beyond North Berwick into tolerable cliffs, and upon the brink of one of them, just beyond Canty Bay, stands the mighty ruin of Tantallon, that for distinction of pose as a coast stronghold, is only inferior to Welsh Harlech and English Bamborough.

Though little more than a shell within, the height and length of this, its curtain walls, spreading upon the landward side from a central keep to two massive drum towers at the corners have a most imposing effect; the more so as Scottish castles, numerous though they be, are seldom large. Most people, perhaps, would come to Tantallon in an exacting frame of mind, for the very flavour of its name will be either vaguely or definitely significant of mighty men and great doings, and they will not be disappointed. Only one side was vulnerable, the others falling abruptly to the rocky shore. The wide green pasture over which you approach the fortress on the landward side exposes its whole front elevation to great advantage, as well as the form and circuit of the outer defences and ramparts. As you cross the inner moat up to the gateway, where the falling portcullis, it will be remembered, grazed the tail of Lord Marmion's horse, as he dashed for the rising drawbridge, the bloody heart of the Douglases confronts you upon the wall. The keep, through which entry is made, is practically a shell open to the top. Inside this and the high curtain walls, a large grassy area, once the inner court, and encroached upon, no doubt, with buildings, spreads to the verge of the cliff

"Above the booming ocean leant
The far-projecting battlement,
The billows burst in ceaseless flow
Upon the precipice below."

Battlements and buildings have long vanished, and a broad lawn, with the deep castle well in its centre, opens a fair and verdant terrace to the sea, which rumbles amid the jagged red rocks far below. Upon the north side only is the remains of a single building, generally held to have been the banqueting hall. As a fortress, Tantallon dates back to the twelfth century. It comes into the broader page of history, however, when the Douglases first acquired it in the fourteenth century. In the next one, however, the long struggle which this arrogant and ambitious house waged against the Stuarts for the throne of Scotland, to their ultimate discomfiture, found them stripped of all their possessions. Tantallon, however, remained with the name, as it was granted to the only bearer of it, the Red Douglas, who remained loyal to the king. Much more familiar to posterity, however, was another Douglas, Lord of Tantallon, Archibald Bell-the-Cat, otherwise Earl of Angus, who inherited in 1479. His advice to James IV., while camped on Flodden Edge, to return while there was yet time, and not to court either disaster or a bloody unprofitable victory, and how James rejected it with such ill-considered words that the irascible old man went back then and there to Tantallon in high dudgeon, is, of course, a famous passage in history. Two of his sons, however, and two hundred of his followers, fell on that fatal field. Another became Bishop of Dunkeld, and wrote much poetry, including a translation of the Æneid. Another, who became Earl of Angus, and head of the house, married his late sovereign's widow, Henry the Eighth's sister, and mother of the infant King James V., causing thereby no end of subsequent trouble. True to the instincts of his stock, and further stimulated by his connection with the Crown, Angus would be satisfied with nothing less than the supreme control of Scotland. Ultimately young James and his stepfather came to blows, and there was another Stuart-Douglas war. The king came himself to Tantallon, with all those big guns with untoward names dear to the later Scottish kings, and not famous, it must he added, for effective shooting.

The royal guns, at any rate, frightened Angus out of Tantallon by the back stairway which the sea offered, whence he sailed to England. They do not seem to have damaged the ten-foot-thick walls of the castle seriously, as the king eventually purchased its surrender. The Earl of Bothwell was now entered as Lord of Tantallon and its domains, but his loyalty was of short duration, and ultimately Angus came back from England, was reinstated, and acted as his brother-in-law King Henry's representative in those schemes of his for marrying the infant Mary to his son, and uniting the kingdoms. James V. was dead, Arran was Regent, and Cardinal Beaton in high favour and influence. It was that brief day, too, when a Catholic Scotland shuddered at the English heresies, and in any ease profoundly suspected English schemes, even when statesmanlike and well-intended as these perhaps were. Sadler, Henry's English envoy, found things getting so hot for him, that lie was glad to retire to Tantallon, while the irascible king at last lost patience, and proceeded characteristically to vent his rage on those whom smoother measures could not win. Ike threw over Angus and his Scotch friends, and flung his raiding parties into Scotland under Eure, and in destroying Melrose Abbey, destroyed at the same time the Douglas mausoleum. This maddened Angus and the Douglases, who had their revenge at Anerum Moor, where Pittscottie says the charge of the Scottish army was like the roaring of the sea.

The Douglases held Tantallon till the end of the seventeenth century. In the meantime it had been besieged by the Covenanters, and captured from the Douglas of that day, who held strong prelatic sympathies. General Monk appears to be responsible for its ultimate abandonment to the bats and owls, owing to the condition in which he left it after a fortnight's bombardment. It was soon afterwards purchased by Sir Hew Dalrymple, that same eminent jurist who acquired North Berwick and the Bass, and still remains the property of his descendants. The castle is well looked after, and is naturally the resort of numbers of visitors and of picnic parties, upon whose cheerful festivities its grey walls, redolent of unquenchable ambitions, of intrigue, arrogance, and boundless pride, look down in grim significance. The clean sweep of the interior buildings, the naked simplicity of the huge walls and gutted towers, which may be ascended by partially repaired staircases, leave the mind of the visitor free to follow its fancy into the truculent days of old. He will not be called upon to undergo the mental torture—for I am sure it is torture to many persons of sensibility without the architectural instinct—of following the intricacies, traced by little more than their foundations, of ward-rooms, soldiers' quarters, chapels, banqueting halls, kitchens, store-rooms, and the like. These are not everybody's hobby, though they weigh on the conscience of many who would like to be quiet and dream dreams. Instead of this they feel hound to worry over ground-plans, and wrestle with measurements, and hang upon the lips of a conscientious custodian, all of which intricacies fade into thin air when they have paid him their shilling, and walked forth again into a twentieth-century world.

But at Tantallon the visitor may with a free conscience give himself up to the influence of the spot, unharassed by fragmentary details that, it must be admitted, are at times distracting—almost prosaic. He can feel, at least, the sombre shadow of the mighty walls, and, soothed by the low roar of the waves beneath, can muse, if he is equipped to do so, on the strangeness of this old forgotten world, which lay practically at the mercy of the owners of such fearsome piles as this. For a race as ready to serve two masters as was this branch of the House of Douglas; an eyrie that swept as does this one the great wide-open mouth of the Firth of Forth from St. Abb's to the point of Fife; that offered an impregnable front to the land and commanded the sea upon its rear, was ideal. This upstanding bit of coast, after leaving Tantallon and turning southwards, gives way in due course to the flats of the Tyne estuary, beyond which the traveller can get one more distant glimpse of the old town of Dunbar; its woody hinterland, for such at this distance it appears, rolling back to the dark wall of the Lammermoors, while far away upon the seaward horizon, one behind the other, the lofty capes of St. Abb's peninsula fall abruptly into the deep.

Here as elsewhere the foreground will make scant appeal to the average pilgrim. In no long time, however, these waving parallelograms that enclose the highest achievements of agriculture, give way to what two centuries ago was held with good reason as one of the greatest triumphs of forestry in the north. But before reaching the Tynninghame woods, the fine old pre-Reformation church of Whitekirk, standing high above some cross-roads and a small hamlet, in a spacious and leafy churchyard, is passed by no one, and, indeed, is in itself an object of pilgrimage to numbers in a country so despoiled of its ecclesiastical monuments as this. A massive, red sandstone tower, with a heavily corbelled parapet of late thirteenth-century date, rises high above a long low body, consisting of nave and chancel, built mostly in 1439, while the porch is apparently of the same period. The building would, I fancy, disconcert the southern ecclesiologist at many points, but is interesting in its very seeming discrepancies as they are the work of ancient and reverent hands, not of eighteenth-century heritors and their masons. The east end has plain step gables and a circular window, above which is an armorial bearing which I could not decipher, and is, I believe, a mystery. To the north of the church is a large tithe barn, a very rare survival in Scotland, at the west end of which was once a pele tower. The minister tells me that this is thought to have been the building which sheltered the pilgrims to the shrine.

The origin of the church is interesting. There was a famous holy well here in mediaeval times, which has now vanished. When Edward I. in 1294 was pursuing his victorious career through the Lothians, Black Agnes, Countess of Dunbar, fearing capture in that stronghold, took ship for Fife, but so severely injured herself in embarking that she was forced to land on Tynninghame Bay. Being here in great agony, and fearful of the English war parties, she was altogether in a bad way, till a hermit appeared and persuaded her to drink of this well, a proceeding which healed her bruises instantly. So on the first possible opportunity, having proclaimed the miracle far and wide, she built and endowed a church upon the holy spot. From henceforward the number of pilgrims to the well and shrine from all parts was prodigious, as many as 15,000 coming in a single year. Adam Hepburn of Hailes added a stone arched choir in 1439, but at the Reformation the pilgrim houses, of which there appear to have been many, were pounced upon by a neighbouring laird, one Sinclair, who used the material for his own purposes. These details and many more were gathered by the late Sir David Baird of Newbyth close by, from a MS. in the Vatican Library, which concludes its account with a lament that the shrine was "beat to pieces, and that holy church shared the fate of many more, and was made a parochial church for the preaching of heresy, and by them called Whitekirk."

Presbyterianism has always been accounted, and, indeed, has always accounted itself a democratic persuasion. The southern Anglican, however, who has seen the glories of the old-time squire's pew practically swept away by general consent, would be amazed at the spacious dignity which still attaches in some Scottish kirks to the laird's spiritual conveniences. At Whitekirk 'three large landowners are thus seated in hereditary glory. The Tynninghame family have a roomy carpeted gallery, furnished with some fine old chairs that the beadle informed me were 200 years old. The house of Newbyth have a raised pew, running right across the cast end, where the altar would stand in an Anglican church—a pew of most conspicuous dignity that would almost seem intended for a whole company of deans and canons.

Tynninghame woods, which cover 800 acres along the shore of the Tyne estuary, are threaded by drives, and are a great source of pleasure to the visitors and others from Dunbar, North Berwick, and elsewhere. Historically they are of singular interest. For their planting coincides with the very dawn of Scottish rural enterprise, and was the first sign of what Scotsmen, then accounted backward and slothful in such matters, could do if they tried. The sixth Earl of Haddington was the pioneer in question, and Chambers tells us that his wife was the inspiring angel, the young man being hitherto wholly given over to sport, while his lady was devoted to trees. This enterprising young woman, a daughter of Lord Hopetoun, thought her husband might make better use of his time, and converted him even to enthusiasm. Three hundred acres of wind-smitten, sandy soil were first planted, to the entertainment, it seems, of the whole countryside. But the laugh lay with his lordship and his zealous lady, when the trees throve far beyond even their expectations, and now, after 200 years, are represented by a portion of that fine seacoast forest known as Binning Wood. After more planting Lord Haddington took up agriculture, which in the reign of Anne and the first George, was dimly dawning as an industry worthy of the name in Scotland. He planted belts of trees to break the force of the harsh winds that strike the East Lothian coast, and imported farmers from Dorsetshire to instruct the natives. "From these," he says, "we came to a knowledge of sowing and the management of grass seeds." The notion of East Lothian going to school with Dorsetshire might well have made the Hopes and Hendersons, the Skirvings and Wilsons of a later day rub their eyes, and East Lothian even then was less primitive than the rest of the Lowlands.

But as regards the Tynninghame woods, 400 more acres of even worse land than the first planting were next ventured upon, on the strength of the utterance of a German visitor, to the effect that he had seen as worthless land growing fine timber in Germany. Though this tract was practically bottomless sand, producing nothing but rabbits and whirs, the experiment, to the amazement of the country, and the joy of this enterprising couple, succeeded as well as the other, and completed the stretch of forest, that may well be the pride of their descendants and the delight of visitors. For Scotland, at the time these woods were planted, was the nakedest land in Europe, and allusion has already been made to the astonishment at its treeless surface expressed by English and foreign visitors. As regards the agricultural awakening which went hand-in-hand with the new zeal for afforestation, Ramsay of Ochtertyre gives great weight as an epoch-making date in this transformation to the Jacobite rebellion of 1745;—not merely because it roughly synchronised with the general commencement of effort, or, at least, of good intentions, but itself contributed indirectly to the movement in the Lowlands. Wolfe, when he was a young major and colonel policing the Highlands after the Rebellion, wrote thence to a friend that a load of blackmail amounting to over £30,000 a year had been lifted from the shoulders of the lairds and farmers bordering on the Western Highlands. I recall the letter, which I have read in the original, for what it is worth. But if Wolfe's figures were approximately correct, the burden, even spread along an extended frontier, must have been vexatious indeed, and at the hands of what this unsympathetic and disrespectful young Whig stigmatises as "common thieves." This, however, is parenthetical ; for whatever the measure of this tax, it was not the relief from it, which must have been achieved a little earlier, but the wider opening of the Highland markets, and the increasing demand in England for their black cattle, that was the contributing factor to the improvement of Lowland agriculture. For the Lowlands were a half-way house to the southern markets. The forming of enclosures for feeding and harbouring the transient herds not only improved a vast amount of land but opened the eyes of the lairds and others to the value of stock for tillage purposes.

Ramsay's own property was in the Carse of Stirling, and his experiences, personal or at first hand—information from older men, for which he had the keenest scent—virtually cover the eighteenth century. From the outer darkness of almost agricultural barbarism, that is to say, to much more than the dawn of light. Indeed to vast accomplishments, and to the lifting of rent-rolls by material improvements, and the growth of intelligence, in some cases from £200 to £5000 a year! He gives us a vivid picture, the more vivid because set down in such simple matter-of-fact style, of the Lowlands generally in the earlier part of the century. The run-rigg system is still in full swing: sour, undrained, unprolific lands, miserable crops, cultivated with archaic home-made wooden implements, dragged by straw ropes, sometimes actually tied to the tails of emaciated horses. He shows us a peasantry and tenantry immovably wedded to their pristine ways, darkly suspicious of any innovations, above all, if they came from England, in which country the travelled Scotsman saw what then appeared an agricultural paradise that filled him with despair.

Then he draws a picture of the gradual awakening, giving the names, the characters, and the idiosyncrasies of the various lairds who, returning from the south, took off their coats—in one or two cases even literally—to fight the darkness, the sloth, the prejudice in matters pertaining to the soil. Fletcher of Saltoun, who was, of course, himself a great improver, as he was many other things at this period, wrote, though with probable hyperbole, that there were 200,000 mendicants in the Scotland of his day.

It hardly needs Ramsay's evidence to realise that want of money was the great crux, a mortgage being almost the only expedient, and the Scotch laird must have waxed pretty shy by that time of mortgages, lawyers, and their intolerable prolixities. But he tells how money began to pour into Scotland from outside sources after the middle of the century, and marvellously oiled the wheels of agricultural progress. He has many good stories, too, about the enthusiasm, and sometimes misdirected ventures of the "improving" lairds, some of whom were enriched lawyers, making amends, as it were, to a country on whose Poverty they had battened. As too self-confident persons nowadays farming in a strange country proverbially fail to make allowance for strange conditions, so many of these zealous Scotch lairds overlooked the physical and climatic contrasts of Hertfordshire and the Lothians. But with all these inevitable blunders they did magnificent work. English ploughmen and bailiffs were imported, while the elementary but effective treatment of liming the sour lands increased with leaps and bounds. Enclosures, the use of clover and artificial grasses, draining, and finally the introduction of turnips, all followed. The more intelligent tenants and hinds, with the natural shrewdness of their race, which circumstances had kept agriculturally dormant, conquered in time their aversion to novelties and English importations and responded to the situation. "Often," says Ramsay, "they became rather partners with their masters than mere payers of rent, which was mainly in those days paid in kind." Many humorous situations were created, which the laird of Ochtertyre, with all his powers of practical observation, relates with relish. One " improving " laird, hitherto such a book-worm that his health had suffered from confinement, took the agricultural fever violently. Ike dropped his books, as well as all intercourse with his neighbours, and took to the field himself in a fustian frock, and even ate his meals under a dyke in company with his men. On Sundays only he washed and dressed and became himself again. He imported English labourers and all his implements, "and it was a sight," says Ramsay, "to see wheeled waggons (for tumbrels with solid wheels had been the vogue) with five or six sightly horses drawing his crops to market." "In spite of many and inevitable blunders," says our author, "he became one of the most spirited and skilful cultivators in the country. His management grew judicious and his crops admirable." The end of the story is notorious, though Ramsay scarcely lived to see its fruition. For in the nineteenth century, the pupil passed the master, and the latter came eventually to sit at his feet. A frequent aphorism of the Lothian farmer, which may be quoted for what it is worth, attributes the comparative inferiority of English farming to the lowness of rents, the stimulus to skill and energy being, in his opinion, consequently lacking. It is at least interesting for one half of the world to hear what the other half thinks about it. The laird in old Scotland was probably, as a plainer-living and poorer man, more intimately identified with the tillage of his land and with his tenants than his southern equivalent. Just the very converse, as regards the Lowlands, has undoubtedly been the case in the last hundred years. Ramsay tells a good story of the tenant on an "old-fashioned estate," who always interceded for the laird at grace before meat, but when

his rent was doubled immediately dropped that clause in the peroration. If any southern reader of these pages should think it worth while on the next opportunity to notice the plains of Lothian from the northern mail; if any golfing pilgrim to North Berwick or Gullane should peradventure devote that seventh day leisure, which the custom of the country enforces on him, to a run through the neighbourhood, he will see a sight as a whole nowhere else to be seen. When Mr. Balfour, while pleading in a recent speech in the House of Commons for cautious legislative interference with Lothian lands, alluded to them as displaying the finest agriculture in the world, not one probably in fifty of his hearers understood the significance of the truism the laird of Whittinghame was uttering. It is a startling reflection that the grandfathers of the men who created this country, much as we see it to-day, hitched wooden-toothed harrows and primeval ploughs to their horses' tails, and ofttimes pulled thistles from their lean grain crops to serve their half-starved animals in lieu of green food. Long after the middle of the eighteenth century, writes another authority, the whole of East Lothian was open field, much of the land on rundale and divided among many tenants, who resided together in clusters of mean huts called a town. Neither summer fallowing nor sown grasses, nor turnips, were generally known. The labourers, says the same writer, were shockingly housed, and more particularly on great estates, and very liable to sickness, particularly ague. Oatmeal porridge had not, by then at any rate, the hold it had acquired in some other parts of Scotland. Pease bannocks, horribly unpalatable, though nutritious, were a staple diet in the Lothians and Berwickshire, while barley scones were a luxury. Potatoes proved an immense boon, being of fine quality, and associated as they were with the improving diet which in other respects soon followed.


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