Plate LIII., Sir Walter Scott’s Burial-Place in Dryburgh Abbey, pp.105-106.

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ALLAN CUNNINGHAM tells us that the late Earl of Buchan waited upon Lady Scott in 1819, when the illustrious author of Waverley was brought nigh to the grave by a grievous illness, and begged her to intercede with her husband to do him the honour of being buried in Dryburgh. “The place,” said the Earl, “is very beautiful, – just such a place as the poet loves, and as he has a fine taste that way, he is sure of being gratified with my offer.” Scott, it is reported, good-humouredly promised to give Lord Buchan the refusal, since he seemed so solicitous; but the peer himself had made his tomb in these ruins before the illustrious bard. The last resting-place of Sir Walter Scott, is a small spot of ground in an area formed by four pillars in one of the ruined aisles which belonged to his family. The ground originally belonged to the Halyburtons of Merton, – an ancient and respectable baronial family, of which Sir Walter’s paternal grandmother was a member, and of which Sir Walter himself was the lineal representative. On a side-wall is the following inscription:- “Sub hoc tumulo jacet Joannes Haliburtonus, Barro de Bertoun, vir religione et virtute clarus, qui obiit 17 die Augusti, 1640.” Below his there is a coat-of-arms. On the back-wall the latter history of the spot is expressed on a small tablet, as follows:- “Hunc locum sepulturæ D. Seneschallus, Buchani comes, Gualtero, Thomæ et Roberto Scott, nepotibus Haliburtoni, concessit, 1791;” – that is to say, the Earl of Buchan granted this place of sepulture in 1791, to Walter, Thomas, and Robert Scott, descendants of the Laird of Halyburton. The persons indicated were the father and uncles of Sir Walter Scott; but, though all are dead, no other member of the family lies there, except his uncle Robert, and his deceased lady. “From the limited dimensions of the place,” says Mr. Robert Chambers, “the body of the author of Waverley has been placed in a direction north and south, instead of the usual fashion; and thus, in death at least, he has resembled the Cameronians, of whose character he was supposed to have given such an unfavourable picture in one of his tales.” May no unhallowed hand ever violate the sepulchre, wherein – to use the language of lament which he himself penned over a brother-bard – “that mighty genius, which walked amongst men as something superior to ordinary mortality, is laid as soundly to rest as the poor peasant whose ideas never went beyond his daily task!”

Our readers will be gratified by the insertion of a poetical tribute to the memory of the gifted minstrel, which appeared in a recent number of Blackwood’s Magazine. They are entitled –

VERSES WRITTEN AFTER A VISIT TO THE GRAVE OF SIR WALTER SCOTT, IN 1842.

BY ‘T. C. L.’
‘Twas gloaming, and the autumn sun
Had shed his last and loveliest smile,
When late I ferried o’er the stream
To Dryburgh’s mouldering pile.
For I had wandered from afar,
And braved the fierce Atlantic’s wave,
To see the poet’s resting-place –
The ‘mighty wizard’s’ grave.
I stood within the ruin’d fane,
Beside Saint Mary’s grated aisle;
No sound was in taht lonely spot,
No voice was on the gale,
Save when at intervals there came
A mournful music, sweet and slow –
The murmur of his own loved Tweed,
That calmly rolled below.
I linger’d till the harvest moon
Peer’d through the ivy’d loopholes there,
And still delay’d to quit a scene
So gloomy yet so fair.
And was it here – life’s fever o’er –
In this sequester’d holy spot,
Lay mingling with its kindred clay
The dust of WALTER SCOTT?
I gazed with feeling strange and sad –
Fulfill’d the cherish’d wish of years;
I leant my brow against the stone,
And melted into tears.
Ah! where is now the flashing eye
That kindled up at Flodden Field –
That saw in fancy onsets fierce,
And clashing spear and shield?
The eager and untiring step,
That urged the search for Border lore,
To make old Scotland’s heroes known
On every peopled shore:
The wondrous spell that summon’d up
The charging squadrons fierce and fast,
And garnish’d every cottage wall
With pictures of the past:
The graphic pen that drew at once
The traits alike so truly shown
In Bertram’s faithful pedagogue
And haughty Marmion:
The hand that equally could paint,
And give to each proportion fair,
The stern, the wild Meg Merrilies,
And lovely Lady Clare:
The glowing dreams of bright romance,
That, teeming, filled his ample brow;
Where is his daring chivalry –
Where are his visions now?
The open hand, the generous heart
That joy’d to soothe a neighbour’s pains?
Nought, nought I see, save grass and weeds,
And solemn silence reigns.
The flashing eye is dimm’d for aye;
The stalwart limb is stiff and cold;
No longer pours his trumpet-note
To wake the jousts of old.
The generous heart, the open hand –
The ruddy cheek, the silver hair –
Are mouldering in the silent dust –
All, all is lonely there!

2 thoughts on “Plate LIII., Sir Walter Scott’s Burial-Place in Dryburgh Abbey, pp.105-106.

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