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Scotland's Literary Landmarks page 2


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Carlyle's first school has been converted into a dwelling-house, fate also of the old Secession Meeting where the Carlyles worshipped, and from which Tom was never absent in those early impressionable years whose long-enduring influence on his character he was never in the least loath to confess. "Poor temple of my childhood," he wrote sixty years after, "to me more sacred at this moment than perhaps the biggest cathedral then extant could have been; rude, rustic, bare - no temple in the world more so - but there were sacred lambencies, tongues of authentic flame from heaven, which kindled what was best in one, what has not yet gone out."

When Carlyle pere turned from masonry to agriculture he moved into the small farm of Mainhill, two miles from Ecclefechan, and there the family lived from 1815 to 1826, "a place of horrid drudgery," plashy soil and indifferent harvests. Carlyle was never reconciled to Mainhill.

When 1825 came he had grown sick of the rough-and-tumble of city life, and was, he says, "determined for a house in the country, and a horse to ride on" - his favourite and almost his sole pastime. Hence the short-lived tenancy of Hoddam, or Repentance Hill (merged in West Trailtrow), where he was nominal cultivator of the soil, his brother Alick doing the work. A quarrel with the laird hastened their exit. Yet Carlyle liked Hoddam Hill. It was a pleasant spot, remarkable for its panoramic views far into Cumberland and over a wide stretch of the Scottish Border, and it was the very situation for a man who needed perfect quiet and unlimited hill-top air. A third farm comes into the story of Carlyle's life. This was Scotsbrig, in Middlebie, and still in Annandale, which his parents occupied for the remainder of their stern, exacting lives.

There is a fourth farm associated with our philosopher. In some ways it is the outstanding literary landmark within his own country. Craigenputtock (in Dunscore, where Ellisland also is), although in Dumfriesshire, is so near as almost to form a part of Grey Galloway. Froude speaks of it as a "dreary solitude" and so it was in a manner, but it was not more solitary than scores of Border farm places in Carlyle's time. The Carlyles spent two periods at Craigenputtock - 1828 to 1831, and 1832 to 1834. There Carlyle wrote his "Essay on Burns," his "Voltaire," and many others. Most notable of all, this was the birthplace of "Sartor Resartus," written in a snug little room where are still relics and portraits of its author, and the old grate beside which he smoked his churchwardens, entertained Emerson and a host of eminents. In 1834 what Froude foolishly calls "the six years' imprisonment on the Dumfriesshire moor" came to an end, and the Carlyles moved from Craigenputtock to Chelsea, into the famous house, No. 5 (now No. 24) Cheyne Row, which was to be their home till death.

Another landmark is Annan, where Carlyle became mathematical master in the Academy. In the "lang toun" of Kirkcaldy he "taught school" for two years, and here Margaret Gordon - his "Blumine" - ran across his path. The Edinburgh landmarks begin with Carlyle's student days in 1809. After walking all the way from Ecclefechan, taking three days to the journey of sixty miles, he and his companion, Tom Smail, lighted upon a cheap lodging in Simon Square, then, as now, a distinctly poor part of the city. Carlyle had many lodgings, both in the old town and the new. From his "Early Letters" we find him in South Richmond Street; 15 Carnegie Street; 35 Bristo Street; 9 Jamaica Street; 5 College Street; 3 Moray Street (now Spey Street), off Leith Walk; and 21 Salisbury Street, under the shadow of Arthur's Seat. Moray Street is the best-known and most interesting of all his Edinburgh abodes. It was there that he embarked in earnest on a literary career, writing articles for Brewster's Encyclopaedia, translating Legendre's "Geometry," and beginning his German translations. It was there, too, that the pessimism which had so long shadowed and crushed his spirit began to desert him. At 21 Comely Bank he set up house on his marriage (he was married at Templand farm, near Thornhill), and could henceforth smoke his pipe in his own front garden "far from all the uproars and putrescences, material and spiritual, of the reeky town," seeing only "over the house the reflections of its gaslights against the dusky sky."

In 1881 it was to Ecclefechan that he turned again, borne on a dreary winter's day, with snow carpeting the kirkyard grass, to be buried as he was born and as he lived - an Annandale peasant elevated through the dynamic forces of culture, transfigured by self-devotion to truth and to the cause of man.

Perhaps no modern author has received more universal affection and homage than Robert Louis Stevenson. Next to Scott, Edinburgh has no more distinguished son - Edinburgh, which was for him the name of names, whose very lamplights shone in his memory and illumined the darkness of an enforced exile over far-distant seas. The birth-house of Stevenson is easily found in a row of prim-looking two-storied villas at the foot of the long descent from Princes Street to Inverleith Row. Out from the windows of No. 8 Howard Street the fragile child looked for the first time on the green grass and the small trellised garden plot in front. From those same windows he watched "Leerie" making his cheerful rounds, "knocking luminous holes in the dark.': The house is unchanged except that now it belongs for all time to the wide cult called by his name - a pious shrine dedicated to the large-eyed, girlish-looking lad who clambered up and down those stairs and ran out and in at that door.

From Howard Place the Stevensons moved to Inverleith Place close by, and soon again to the well-known historic house at 17 Heriot Row, said to be the most attractive of Edinburgh's streets, often as quiet as a country lane. Louis had a room near the top of the house which in turn served the purpose of a play-room, a school-room, and finally a study for the embryo author.

At Colinton Manse lived Louis' maternal grandfather, the minister of the parish. In " Memories and Portraits " Stevenson has enshrined a mass of happy boyhood recollections, among the choicest things in reminiscent literature. The surroundings have greatly changed since those days. Colinton church has been rebuilt, but its ancient sundial is still there, and the iron janker or coffin safe, between the gate and the church door, continues to recall the time when dread of Burke and Hare and the "resurrectionists" dominated the district.

Swanston Cottage, leased as a summer abode by his father when Louis was about sixteen, lay near the small sequestered clachan of that name nestling under the skirts of the Pentlands, and not far from the scene of that unfortunate rising which was the theme of his early (now exceedingly scarce) pamphlet - the first of his printed work. Here he came to know rural life at its best, mixing freely with ploughmen and shepherds, jocularly adapting himself to the vernacular and storing his mind with a multitude of unforgettable thoughts and fancies, a memory of multifarious rustic activities, to blossom into the bountiful harvest which the future was to bring forth. None has described those scenes with a rarer charm, as in "St. Ives." Everyone knows his heroic, tragic struggle with consumption and his wanderings abroad. But of all places associated with R. L. S. we must linger fondly in the streets and closes and wynds of Edinbiirgh; its Castle, which dominated his imagination, the Royal Mile, Princes Street, the village of Dean, "Rest and be Thankful" on Corstorphine Hill, where David Balfour and Alan Bre,ck made their parting, and the mill-ponds of Colinton, with the merry water singing its way to the pier of Leith.

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Pictures for Scotland's Literary Landmarks page 2

THE GRECIAN MONUMENT TO ROBERT BURNS ABOVE THE BANKS O' DOON AT ALLOWAY
THE GRECIAN MONUMENT TO ROBERT BURNS ABOVE THE BANKS O' DOON AT ALLOWAY >>>>
ALLAN RAMSAY'S BOOK SHOP, NOW RECONSTRUCTED
ALLAN RAMSAY'S BOOK SHOP, NOW RECONSTRUCTED >>>>
THATCHED COTTAGE WHERE BURNS WAS BORN, AND OTHER SHRINES FOR LOVERS OF THE POET AT ALLOWAY AND DUMFRIES
THATCHED COTTAGE WHERE BURNS WAS BORN, AND OTHER SHRINES FOR LOVERS OF THE POET AT ALLOWAY AND DUMFRIES >>>>
KILMARNOCK'S MONUMENT TO BURNS
KILMARNOCK'S MONUMENT TO BURNS >>>>
GRAVE OF BURNS' FATHER AT ALLOWAY
GRAVE OF BURNS' FATHER AT ALLOWAY >>>>
THE BRIDGES AT DOON AND AYR WHICH BURNS KNEW AND LOVED
THE BRIDGES AT DOON AND AYR WHICH BURNS KNEW AND LOVED >>>>
SIR WALTER SCOTT'S STUDY, WHICH REMAINS ALMOST AS HE LEFT IT, IN HIS HOME AT ABBOTSFORD
SIR WALTER SCOTT'S STUDY, WHICH REMAINS ALMOST AS HE LEFT IT, IN HIS HOME AT ABBOTSFORD >>>>
EDINBURGH'S GREAT SCOTT MONUMENT
EDINBURGH'S GREAT SCOTT MONUMENT >>>>
WHERE SIR WALTER SCOTT SLEEPS IN THE NORTH TRANSEPT OF DRYBURGH
WHERE SIR WALTER SCOTT SLEEPS IN THE NORTH TRANSEPT OF DRYBURGH >>>>
ABBOTSFORD, WHICH SCOTT FOUND A COTTAGE AND LEFT A GREAT MANSION
ABBOTSFORD, WHICH SCOTT FOUND A COTTAGE AND LEFT A GREAT MANSION >>>>
JAMES HOGG'S MONUMENT, ETTRICK
JAMES HOGG'S MONUMENT, ETTRICK >>>>
THE 'ETTRICK SHEPHERD' AT YARROW
THE 'ETTRICK SHEPHERD' AT YARROW >>>>
LADY NAIRNE'S HIGHLAND HOME AND HAWTHORNDEN, WHERE BEN JONSON STAYED WITH DRUMMOND
LADY NAIRNE'S HIGHLAND HOME AND HAWTHORNDEN, WHERE BEN JONSON STAYED WITH DRUMMOND >>>>
BARBIE'S BIRTHPLACE AND 'THE WINDOW IN THRUMS': MEMORIES OF STEVENSON AT HOWARD PLACE AND SWANSTON
BARBIE'S BIRTHPLACE AND 'THE WINDOW IN THRUMS': MEMORIES OF STEVENSON AT HOWARD PLACE AND SWANSTON >>>>
CARLYLE'S BIRTHPLACE AT ECCLEFECHAN AND HIS HOME AT CRAIGENPUTTOCK
CARLYLE'S BIRTHPLACE AT ECCLEFECHAN AND HIS HOME AT CRAIGENPUTTOCK >>>>

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