Monday, July 12, 2010

Huntly Burn



July 12 (1827).—Unpacking and arranging; the urchins are stealing the cherries in the outer garden. But I can spare a thousand larch-trees to put it in order with a good fence for next year. It is not right to leave fruit exposed; for if Adam in the days of innocence fell by an apple, how much may the little gossoon Jamie Moffatt be tempted by apples of gold in an age of iron! Anne and I walked to Huntly Burn—a delicious excursion. That place is really become beautiful; the Miss Fergusons have displayed a great deal of taste.

Scott's journal entry above leads us to a follow up diary entry written by Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff, who was a Scottish politician after Scott passed on (Duff lived: 1829-1906).  The publication is titled "Notes from a Diary, 1892-1895".  Duff must have been a Walter Scott fan.  The Huntly Burn house was once owned by Scott.  It was known as Toftfield House, when Scott purchased it in 1817.  Duff visited Huntly Burn in 1893, commenting:

(August) 28. Drove over to Huntly Burn on the other side of Melrose, where a cricket match was going on. Mrs. Kerr, who lives there, took me up to see the house where Sir Adam Fergusson lived in the days of Sir Walter, who gave the place its present name. Much of the building, as it now stands, was added by Mr. Hope Scott. Thence we went on to Chiefswood, which has also been much added to, but which in its earlier day was inhabited by Lockhart and his wife.


My guide pointed out the window of the room in which The Pirate was written, and then took me to the opening of Rhymer's Glen, where Thomas of Ercildoun, a fragment of whose ruined and ivy-clad 1893 HUNTLY BURN tower is still to be seen in the village of Earlston, had his interview with the Queen of the Fairies.


I walked up as far as the second of the two small bridges which span the stream, accurately described by Scott, not as a brook but as a runnel; then gathered some Enchanter's Nightshade with several sprigs of yew, and returned, meeting on my way back a son of Mrs. Maxwell Scott's, whom Lady Reay had sent to rescue me from the spirits of the place, and who told me that his mother, who is still living near Dresden, had almost finished an account of Mary Stuart's last days at Fotheringay.

Photo Credit: Walter Baxter:

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