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JOANNA BAILL E.
The powerful dramatic writer, the graceful and witty lyrist, and the sweet and gentle woman, who for so many years, in her quiet retreat at Hampstead, let the world flow past her as if she tad nothing to do with it, nor cared to be mentioned by it, was born in one of the most lovely and historical districts of Scotland. She was born in a Scottish manse, in the upper dale of the Clyde, which has, for its mild character and lavish production of fruit, been termed “ Fruitland.” As you pass along the streets of Scotch towns, you see on fruit-stalls in the summer piles of plums, pears, and other fruits, labelled “ Clydesdale Fruit." One of the finest specimens of the fruit of this luxuriant and genial dale was Joanna Baillie, a zame never pronounced by Scot or Briton of any part of the empire, but with the veneration due to the truest genius, and the affection which is the birthright of the truest specimens of womanhood. The sister of the late amiable and excellent Dr. Baillie, the friend of Waiter Scott, the woman whose masculine muse every great poet has for nearly half a century delighted to honour, Joanna Baillie wroto because she could not help pouring out the fulness of her heart and mind, and the natural consequence was fame; otherwise, whoever saw that quiet, amiable, and unassuming lady, easy and cheerful 23 when she played beneath the fruit-laden boughs of her native garden, saw that, though not scorning the fair reputation of well exercised intellect, she was at home in the bosom of home, and let no restless desire for mere fame disturb the pure happiness of a serene life, and the honour and love of those nearest and dearest to her. Had the lambent flame of genius not burned in the breast of Joanna Baillie, that of a pure piety and a spirit made to estimate the biosa ings of life, and to enjoy all the other blessings of peace and social good which it brings, would have still burned brightly in her bosom, and made her just as happy though not as great.
The birthplace of Joanna Baillie was the pretty manse of Bothwell, in the immediate neighbourhood of Bothwell brig; and, therefore, as will at once be seen, in the centre of ground where stirring deeds have been done, and where the author of Waverley has added the vivid colouring of romance to those of history. Bothwell manse, from
its elevated site, looks directly down upon the scene of the battle at Both well brig; upon the park of Hamilton, where the Covenanters were encamped ; and upon Bothwellbaugh, the seat of Hamilton, who shot the Regent Murray. This is no mean spot in an historical point of view, and it is richly endowed by nature. Near it also, a little farther down the river, stands Bothwell Castle, on Bothwell bank, on which the charm of poetry has been conferred with an almost needless prodigality, for it is so delightful in its own natural beauty.
The country as you proceed to Bothwell from Glasgow, from which it is distant about ten miles, though from the first rich and wellcultivated, is not so agreeable, from the quantity of coal that is found along the roads into Glasgow, and which seem to have given a blackness to everything. As you advance, however, it grows continually more elevated, open, airy, and pleasant. About a mile before you reach Both well, its tall square church steeple, seen far before you, directs your course, and a pair of lodge gates on your right hand marks the entrance to the grounds of Bothwell Castle. By writing your name and address in a book kept by the gate-keeper, you are admitted, and can then pursue your way alone to the castle, and make your own survey without the nuisance of a guide. The castle lies about half a mile from the high-road. You first arrive at very beautifully kept pleasure grounds, in which stands a good modern mansion, the seat of the proprietor, Lord Douglas. Passing through these grounds, and close to the right of the house, you soon behold the ruins of the old castle. It is of a very red sandstone, extensive in its remains, and bearing evidence of having been much more extensive. Its tall red walls stand up amid fine trees and masses of ivy, and seem as if created by Time to beautify the modern scene with which they blend so well. . The part remaining consists of a great oblong square, with two lofty and massy towers overlooking the river which lies to your left. There are also remains of an ample chapel. From the openings in the ruins, the river below, and its magnificent valley or glen, burst with startling effect upon you. The bank from the foot of the castle descends with considerable steepness to the river far below, but soft and green as possible; and beyond the dark and hurrying river rise banks equally high, and as finely wooded and varied. Advancing beyond the castle you come again to the river, which sweeps round the ruins in a fine curve. Here every charm of scenery, the great river in its channel, its lofty and well-wooded banks, the picturesque views of Blantyre Priory opposite, the slopes and swells of most luxurious green, and splendid lime-trees hanging their verdurous boughs to the ground, mingle the Doble and the beautiful into an enchanting whole. A gravel-walk leads you down past the front of the castle, and presents you with a new and still more impressive view of it. Here it stands aloft on the precipice above you, a most stately remnant of the old times; and Nature has not stinted her labours in arraying it in tree, bush, and hanging plant, so as to give it the grace of life in its slow decay, making it in perfect harmony with herself. Few scenes are more fascinating than this. Above you the towers of the castle, which once received as its victorious guest Edward I. of England, which again sheltered the English chiefs fleeing from the disastrous field of Bannockburn ; which was the stronghold of Archibald the Grim, and the proud hall of the notorious Earl Bothwell. Below, slopes down in softest beauty the verdant bank; and the stately Clyde, dark and deep, flows on amid woods and rocks worthy of all their fame. The taste of the proprietor has seized on every circumstance to give a finish to a scene so lovely; and it is impossible not to exclaim, in the words of the celebrated old ballad,
"Oh, Bothwell bank, thou bloomest fair." The village of Bothwell is, as I have said, a mile farther on the way towards Hamilton. The church and manse lie to the left band as you enter it, and the latter is buried, as it were, in a perfect ses of fruit trees. You may pass through the churchyard to it, and then along a footpath between two high hedges, which leads you to the carriage-road from the village to its front. The house in which Miss Baillie was born, and where she lived till her fourth year, seems to stand on a sort of mount, on one side overlooking the valley of the Clyde, and on the other the churchyard and part of the village. The situation is at once airy and secluded. Between the manse and the churchyard lies the garden, full of fruit-trees; and other gardens, or rather orchards, between that and the village, add to the mass of foliage in which it is immersed. Between the churchyard and the manse garden commences a glen, which runs down on the side of the manse most distant from the village, widening and deepening as it goes, to the great Clyde valley. This gives the house a picturesqueness of situation peculiarly attractive. It has its own little secluded glen, its sloping crofts, finely shaded with trees, and beyond again other masses of trees shrouding cottages and farms.
The church had been rebuilt within a few years, of the same nd stone as Bothwell Castle ; but the old chancel still remained standing, in a state of ruin. The churchyard is extensive, scattered with old-fashioned tombs, and forming a famous playground for the children of the neighbouring village school, who wero out leaping in the deep damp soil, and galloping among its rank hemlocks and mallows to their hearts' content. Having, by the courtesy of the minister, Dr. Matthew Gardner, seen the manse, and had a stroll in the garden, I again wandered over the churchyard, watching the boys at their play, and reading the inscriptions on the tombs and headstones ; one of which I copied in evidence of the state of pard chial education in Scotland, where it has existed as a national institution, I believe, ever since the days of Knox:
“ Erected by Margaret Scott, in memory of her husband. Robert Stobo, Late Smith and Farrier o' Gowkthrapple, who died 7th May 1834, so the 70th year of his age.
"My sledgo and hammer lies declined,
My bellows pipes have lost its wind;
What struck me as pot less curious was the following handbill, posted on the jamb of the church-door :-“Gooseberries for sale, by public roup. The gooseberries in the orchards of Bothwell manse, also at Captain Bogles Laroyet, and in, &c. &c. Sale to begin at Both well manse, at five o'clock P. M., 10th of July.” This was, certainly, characteristic of “ Fruitland.”
Though Miss Baillie only spent the first four years of her life at this sweet and secluded parsonage, it is the place in her native country which she said she liked best to think of. And this we may well imagine ; it is just the place for a child's paradise, embosomed amid blossoming trees, with its garden lying like a little hidden yet sunny fairyland in the midst of them, with its flowers and its humming bees, that old church and half wild churchyard alongside of it, and its hanging crofts, and little umbrageous valley.
To Bothwell brig you descend the excellent highway towards Hamilton, and coming at it in something less than a mile, are surprised to find what a rich and inviting scene it is. The brig, which you suppose, from being described as narrow, steep, and oldfashioned in the days of the Covenanters, to be something grey and quaint, reminding you of Claverhouse and the sturdy Gospellers, is, really, a very respectable, modern-looking bridge. The gateway which used to stand in the centre of it has been removed, the breadth has been increased, an additional arch or arches have been added at each end, and the whole looks as much like a decent, every-day, well-to-do, and toll-taking bridge as bridge well can do. There is a modern toll-bar at the Bothwell end of it. There is a good house or two, with their gardens descending to the river. The river flows on full and clear, between banks well cultivated, and well covered with plantations. Beyond the bridge and river the country again ascends with an easy slope towards Hamilton, with extensive plantations, and park walls belonging to the domain of the Duke of Hamilton. You have scarcely ascended a quarter of a mile, when on your left hand, a handsome gateway, bearing the ducal escutcheons, and with goodly lodges, opens a new carriage-way into the park. Everything has an air of the present time, of wealth, peace, and intellectual government, that make the days of the battle of Bothwell brig seem like a piece of the romance work of Scott, and not of real
Scott himself tells us in his Border Minstrelsy, in his notes to the old Ballad of Bothwell Brig, that “the whole appearance of the ground as given in the picture of the battle at Hamilton Palace, even including a few old houses, is the same as the scene now presents. The removal of the porch or gateway upon the bridge is the only perceptible difference." There must have been much change here since Scott visited the spot. The old houses have given way to new houses. The old bridge is metamorphosed into something that might pass for a newish bridge. The banks of the river, and the lands of the park beyond, are so planted and wooded, that the pioneers would have much to do before a battle could be fought. All trace of moorland has vanished, and modern enclosure and
cultivation has taken possession of the scene. When we bring back by force of imagination the old view of the place it is a far different one.
" Where Both well's bridge connects the margin steup,
And Clyde below runs silent, strong, and deep,
1 Where debelow runs on pression and of Heaven.
And Clyds peasant, is cause the courage stos biood;
When we picture to ourselves the Duke of Monmouth ordering his brave foot-guards, under command of Lord Livingstone, to force the bridge, which was defended by Hackstone of Rathillet, and Claverhouse sitting on his white horse on the hill-side near Bothwell, watching the progress of the fray, and ready to rush dovo with his cavalry, and fall on the infatuated Covenanters who were quarrelling amongst themselves on Hamilton haughs, we see & will and correspondent landscape, rough as the Cameronian insurgents, and rude as their notions. The Bothwell brig of the present day has all the old aspect modernized out of it. Its smiling felis, and woods that speak of long peaceful times, and snug moderu homesoh! how far off are they from the grand old melancholy tone of the old ballad :
“Now farewell, father, and farewell, mother,
And fare ye weel, my sisters three:
For thee again I'll never see!
An' waly they rode bonnily!
He went to view their company.
" Then he set up the flag o' red,
A' set about wi' bonny blue;
See that ye stand by ither true.'
And showered their shot down in the bowe;
Thick they lay slain on every knowe.
“ Alang the brae, beyond the brig,
Mony a brave man lies cauld and still;
The bloody battle of Both well hill."
To the left, looking over the haughs or meadows of Hamilton, from Bothwell brig, you discern the top of the present house Bothwellhaugh over a mass of wood. Here another strange ble torical event connects itself with this scene. Here lived that Hamilton who shot in the streets of Linlithgow the Regent Murrar, the half-brother of the queen of Scots. This outrage has bero instigated by another, which was calculated, especially in an age like