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Dunfermline-Ruins of the Abbey-Grave of Robert Bruce Malcolm Canmore's Palace-William Henryson, the poet-William Dunbar-Stirling Castle-Views from its Summit-City of Stirling-George Buchanan and Dr. Arthur Johnston-Falkirk-Linlithgow-Story of the Capture of Linlithgow Castle -Spirit of War—Arrival in Edinburgh.
BIDDING adieu to Lochleven, we journey slowly through a pleasant and highly cultivated region, till we reach the ancient town of Dunfermline, in which some of the old Scottish kings formerly held court, and which is yet adorned with the remains of a magnificent abbey. Robert Bruce was interred here, in complete armor, and much interest was excited, a few years ago, by the discovery of his skeleton. In the vicinity are the ruins of Malcolm Canmore's palace and stronghold, standing on the edge of a deep romantic glen, in which, more than three hundred years ago, the poet Henryson, a schoolmaster in Dunfermline, was wont to wander, singing his beautiful lays, in the quaint and difficult dialect of former times.
"In myddis of June, that jolly sweet sessoun,
Quhen that fair Phoebus, with his beamis brycht,
Had dryit up the dew fra daill and doun,
Sueit was the smell of flowris quhyt and reid,
The mornyng mild my mirth was mair forthy.
Henryson was contemporary with William Dunbar, a poet, says Sir Walter Scott, unrivalled by any that Scotland has ever produced. He flourished at the court of James IV. His poems are of all sorts, allegorical, moral and comic. The following lines on the brevity of human existence are a fair specimen of his style.
This wavering warld's wretchedness,
The sliding joy, the gladness short,
The seveir abade (delay), the slightful train (snare),
The sugared mouths, with minds therefra,
The pleasing tongues, with hearts unplain,
In another poem he takes a more cheerful view of life.
Be merry, man, and tak' not sair in mind
The wavering of this wretched world of sorrow;
To God be humble, to thy friend be kind,
And with thy neighbors gladly lend and borrow,
From Dunfermline, we cross the country in the
direction of Stirling, and of course linger to view the famous battle-ground of Bannockburn, immortalized by the prowess of Scotland, and the poetry of Burns.
But we approach Stirling Castle, one of the oldest and most imposing strongholds in the country. How often have these old rocks rung again, "with blast of bugle free;" and how frequently has the ground at its base been soaked with human blood! The castle stands on a huge leage of basaltic rock, rising rapidly from the plain, and overlooking the country far and near, and backed by the rising ground on which the city is built. Ascending to the summit we pass round it, by a narrow pathway cut in the sides of the mountain, and thence enjoy the most extensive and delightful views. How charmingly the Links of the Forth, as the serpentine windings of the river are called, adorn the rich vale, in which they love to linger, as if loth to depart. To the north and east are the Ochil hills," vestured" in blue, and looking down upon fertile fields, umbrageous woods, and stately mansions. On the west lies the vale of Menteith, and far off the Highland mountains, lost in the mist. On another side are the pastoral hills of Campsie, and underneath our eye the town of Stirling, the Abbey Craig, and the ruins of Cambuskenneth Abbey. The Forth, with "isles of emerald," and white sails skimming its glassy surface, expands into the German Ocean; and Edinburgh Castle, just descried amid the haze, crowns the distant landscape. Stirling was a favorite resi
dence of the Stuarts; but the castle is now employed only as a barracks for soldiery.
Leaving the castle we pass into the city, by High Street, adorned with several palaces of the old nobility, antique-looking edifices, of a solid structure. Here was the palace of the Regent, Earl of Mar, whose descendants were the keepers of Stirling Castle. Here too was the palace of Sir William Alexander, "the philosophical poet" of the court of James the Sixth, and tutor to Charles the First, who created him Earl of Stirling. But an object of still greater interest is the tower where George Buchanan, the historian of Scotland, and one of the first scholars of his age, lived and wrote. He was tutor to James the Sixth of Scotland, and First of England. He wrote a paraphrase of the Psalms in elegant Latin verse, of which he was a perfect master. Most of this work was composed in a monastery in Portugal, to which he had been confined by the Inquisition about the year 1550. It was continued in France, and finished in Scotland. His prose works, particularly his history of Scotland, are characterized by clearness and research. His celebrated contemporary, Dr. Arthur Johnston, was equally distinguished for the variety of his attainments, and his perfect command of the Latin tongue; so that the one has been called the Scottish Virgil, and the other the Scottish Ovid. The Latin version of the Psalms by Buchanan is still used in some of the Scottish schools. It is elegant and faithful, but somewhat formal and paraphrastic.
There are many objects of interest in Stirling, and the scenery around is rich and beautiful, and, moreover, associated in every part, with recollections of the olden time; but we cannot linger here. The stage-coach is waiting to take us to Falkirk, a town of great antiquity, having been the site of one of those military stations on the wall made by the Romans at their invasion of the country, known by the name of the Forts of Agricola. It was also the scene of one or two famous battles in the days of Wallace and Bruce. Being the principal town in the midst of a rich agricultural country, it is now the scene of immense fairs or trysts, as they are called, to which large droves of Highland cattle are brought annually for sale, and where an immense amount of business is transacted. But there is nothing here of sufficient interest to detain us; so we proceed in the rail-cars to Edinburgh. In passing, we get a glimpse of the castle and palace of Linlithgow; in the twefth century one of the most important burghs in Scotland, the residence of several of the kings of Scotland, and the birth-place of Queen Mary.
"Of all the palaces so fair
Built for the royal dwelling
And in its park, in genial June,
How blythe the blackbird's lay,