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They have long outlived, not only the magnificent abbey, but the system out of which it rofe. Long may they continue casting the spirit of long-past ages over a fcene which combines the ever-living forms of nature so lovingly with the shattered remains of medieval art, that together they seem rather a vision of poetry than a reality of this matter-of-fact era. It is difficult, even while these graceful piles ftand before us amid the folemnity of ancient meadow, hill and wood, to conceive that they once were enfouled by a life fo opposed to everything now moving around us. The world of monks walking in dim cloifters, and fending up their daily anthems. amid fuch incenfed fhrines and arcades of foaring columns, and the world of railroads and bufy forges and populous factories, appear impoffible, as the growth of the fame ground and the fame minds. We can fcarcely do more than regard them as raised to embody the dreams of poets, and to give a new charm to the fummer day's ramble, by fuch lapfing ftreams and through such shadowy woodlands as those of Fountain dale.
HERE is no place in Scotland which fame for beauty and poetry has excited fo lively a defire in the tourist to fee, as Roflin and its neighbour Hawthornden; and the wish is easily gratified on the arrival at Edinburgh, for these celebrated spots are only about seven miles to the south of that city. But great is the wonder of the traveller as he advances in that direction. He has not long quitted the romantic environs of the Scottish capital, and begins with eagerness to look a-head for this promised fairyland, when he beholds only a plain, bald tract of country, over which are rolling the smoke of coal-pit fires. The farther he goes the stronger becomes his amazement. The black hills of coal-refufe; carts and wagons laden with that black but useful mineral pass him, and he beholds a very ordinary country interfected by ftone walls, fcarred and disfigured by all the features of a coal-mining region; and with hundreds of engine-chimneys vomiting smoke.
But anon he comes to the edge of a deep and narrow valley, at the bottom of which runs a rapid ftream, and the steep banks of this glade are varied by every charm of rocks and woods, and dwellings of past or prefent generations. Here stands the far-famed chapel, worthy of all its reputation, there perched at the brink of the deep and steep glen, the ruins of the ancient castle, with a modern house erected amongst
Roslin Chapel and Castle.
them; and there a little farther is the claffic abode of the poet Drummond; but far most interesting of the whole, from its unique architecture, is the chapel. This was founded in 1446, a period of exuberant ornament in church architecture, and this has a character of its own, one in which the genius of building and carving seems to have revelled in its most original mood.
The founder of Roflin Chapel was William de St. Clair, Earl of Orkney and Lord of Roflin, in the caftle of which he refided. He was a great man in his day, and so far as we can judge from his acts, was a man not only held in high estimation
by his monarch, but one who had a mind far more liberal and judicious than his order and his rank were calculated to inspire. This is the account we find of him in Robertson's Index :— "As admiral of the fleet, he conveyed the Princess Margaret to France in 1436; he was Chancellor of Scotland from 1454 to 1458; he was made Earl of Caithness in 1455. In 1470 he refigned the earldom of Orkney to the king, and obtained in return various lands in Fife. Having, in 1459, fettled the barony of Newburgh, in Aberdeenshire, on William, his only fon by his first wife, Lady Margaret Douglas, he, in 1476, fettled the barony of Roflin, and his other estates in Lothian, on Oliver St. Clair, his eldest fon by his fecond marriage; and he transferred the earldom of Caithness to William, the second son of his second marriage. The eminent founder of Roflin Chapel died foon after this fettlement, which deranged his estates, and degraded his family.”
What a fingular derangement of his eftates in this great Earl St. Clair, by dividing them amongst his fons, instead of heaping them, contrary to all the laws of nature and equity, on one! What a strange degradation of his family, by making them equal participants of his property! So pitiably do feudal institutions pervert the minds not only of poffeffors but of hiftorians.
In erecting this chapel, Earl William seems to have exercised the fame breadth and originality of mind; for he chose an architect of a brave and unique genius. Mr. Britton, in his "Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain," thus expreffes his perception of the fine and peculiar character of the style :"This building, I believe, may be pronounced unique, and I am confident it will be found curious, elaborate, and fingularly interesting. The chapels of King's College, St. George, and Henry VIII., are all conformable to the styles of the
respective ages when they were erected; and these styles display a gradual advancement in lightness and profufion of ornament; but the chapel of Roslin combines the folidity of the Norman with the minute decoration of the Tudor age. It is impoffible to defignate the architecture of this building by any given or familiar term; for the variety and eccentricity of its parts are not defined by any of common acceptation. I ask fome of our obftinate antiquaries, how they could apply either the term Roman, Saxon, Norman, Gothic, Saracenic, English, or Grecian, to this building.”
The founder intended to have erected it into a regular collegiate church, having a provoft, fix prebendaries, and two chorifters, or finging boys, and he endowed it with lands and revenues befitting; but he died when he had only completed the nave, which is the present chapel, and it was used as the chapel to the caftle. The hill on which he built it was called College Hill, and the people of the neighbourhood still call it the College. It stands on the northern bank of the Esk. "Some additions," says Chalmers in his "Account of North Britain,” "were made to the endowment by fucceeding Barons of Roflin. In 1523, Sir William St. Clair granted some lands in the vicinity of the chapel, for dwelling-houses and gardens, and other accommodations to the provost and prebendaries. In his charter, he mentions four altars in this chapel; one dedicated to St. Matthew, another to the Virgin, a third to St. Andrew, and a fourth to St. Peter. The commencement of the reformation by tumult, was the fignal for violence and fpoliation. The provoft and prebendaries of Roflin felt the effects of this fpirit. They were defpoiled of their revenues; and in 1572, they were compelled to relinquish their whole property, which, indeed, had been withheld from them during many revolutionary years."