MACRONE AT ABBOTSFORD
AND INNERLEITHEN IN 1832
of Laggan – Her Elegy for Scott
It was in the afternoon1 of a beautiful autumn day that I found myself trudging on my way from Altrive Lake on a pilgrimage to Abbotsford and the poet’s tomb. I had walked scarcely three miles beyond Selkirk, when I found myself gradually getting into a richer and better-cultivated tract of country than that which I had just quitted, though less pastoral in its character; a lordly river winded through the vale, among richly wooded hills and fertile holm lands. It was the Tweed. I involuntarily stopped, for my footstep was new on that classic ground, whose each ‘babbling brook’ had its separate tale, and each mountain is rendered immortal by the pen of the Grey Wizard. Pursuing my musing course, I suddenly came in view of Abbotsford itself, with its grey towers sleeping in the setting sun. Again my footsteps were arrested, and as I gazed on the quaint Elizabethan pile, the offspring of his vivid and romantic imagination, with its proud appurtenances and castellated battlements, its fertile gardens and lofty trees, I could not believe that at no very distant period of time this fairy land was – to use the words of a talented American writer,2 from whom I shall have to quote repeatedly in the course of this work – ‘the most unlovely spot in this part of the world: a mean farm house stood on part of the site of the present edifice; a kaleyard bloomed where the stately embattled courtyard now spreads itself, and for many thousand acres of flourishing plantations, half of which have all the appearance of being twice as old as they really are, there was but a single long straggling stripe of unthriving firs […] It is difficult to form a more complete contrast to the Abbotsford of 1825’.3 I viewed the same scene when seven more years
1. Macrone originally wrote ‘evening’ for ‘afternoon’.
2. Macrone’s footnote: An anonymous contributor to “The Anniversary” for 1829, an elegant annual edited by my friend Allan Cunningham, Esq.
3. Anonymous (1829), ‘Abbotsford described, by a distinguished American’, in The Anniversary: or, Poetry and Prose for MDCCCXXIX, ed. Allan Cunningham, London: John Sharpe, p. 83. The passage in question has been somewhat altered.