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Castles of Scotland
The Story of Bothwell Castle by H. C. Shelley


The present so persistently claims our attention that we are in constant danger of forgetting altogether that past in which it has its roots; and our loss in so doing is by no means insignificant. Those students of antiquity who do not allow their interest in the past to blind them to the claims of the present are continually emphasising the continuity of all life, and protesting against the habit into which some scholars have fallen of dealing only with phases of life. This is a protest which cannot be too often repeated. The heroic days of old are as if they were not, and we deliberately blind ourselves to every vision which would make us prize more highly both our heritages and our privileges. There are many ways by which we may preserve our historical continuity, but hardly any method is likely to be so effectual as purposeful visits to those ancient castles which remain as silent witnesses of an age that has passed away.

Happily this method of preserving our touch with the past is as agreeable to most men as it is effectual. There are few people capable of resisting the fascination of an old building, especially if that building has borne a part in some of the best-remembered episodes of a nation’s history. But, even apart from known historical associations, an old building, because it is old, possesses an irresistible charm, the psychology of which Mr. Ruskin analyses in his own inimitable way. “The greatest glory of a building,” he says, “is not in its stones nor in its gold. Its glory is in its Age, and in that deep sense of voice-fulness, of stern watching, of mysterious sympathy, nay, even of approval or condemnation, which we feel in walls that have long been washed by the passing waves of humanity. It is in their lasting witness against men, in their quiet contrast with the transitional character of all things, in the strength which, through the lapse of seasons and times, and the decline and birth of dynasties, and the changing of the face of the earth, and of the limits of the sea, maintains its sculptured shapeliness for a time insuperable, connects forgotten and following ages with each other, and half constitutes the identity, as it concentrates the sympathy, of nations: it is in that golden stain of time, that we are to look for the real light, and colour, and preciousness of architecture; and it is not until a building has assumed this character, till it has been entrusted with the fame, and hallowed by -the deeds of men, till its walls have been witnesses of suffering, and its pillars rise out of the shadows of death, that its existence, more lasting as it is than that of the natural objects of the world around it, can be gifted with even so much as these possess, of language and of life.”

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