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Belle Skinner Journal Saturday, August 20, 1887


Saturday, Aug. 20 ’87

We left Edinburgh on the 10:30 train this morning for Melrose, and arrived here at the Asbury Hotel an hour later.  Before lunch we drove to Abbotsford. Sir Walter Scott’s old home, three miles from Melrose. It is a beautiful place. A large, handsome home surrounded by magnificent grounds.  The home is now used and occupied by Walter’s great, great, great, grand-daughter, Lady Maxwell Scott. We walked from the road up to the house through a long lane with ivy covered walls on either side. Reaching the house, and mounting a short flight of stairs, the first room we entered was Sir Walter’s study. Here, as in all the other rooms, everything is just as he left them at his death, 1832.  His old leather arm chair stands in front of his study table. The walls are covered with book-cases containing a part of his library. In this room too, we were shown his numerous walking sticks. In a little outer room is a…


bust made after death. We passed from this room into his library, a much larger room, containing with the books in his study 20,000 volumes. On one wall here is a life size painting of Sir Walter’s oldest son. In this room too is the original marble bust from which all the statues of the poet are copied. Here there is also a table case of curiosities collected by Scott. Such as the Duke of Wellington’s hair, etc. Next we entered his dressing room, covered with Japanese wall paper [sic] hand painting. In here are many portraits of his family, himself, and a few friends. We saw here an ebony writing desk and chairs presented by George IV. The next room we saw was covered with armour, guns, shields, swords, pistols, etc. presented by various persons of note. Here we was shown the original jewel case, iron, in which Mary, Queen of Scotts, hid her jewels in the ruins. We also saw some thumb screws here. The next…


room was something like this. Full of curiosities. On the walls are paintings of Sir Walter’s “old servants” and favorite dogs. Also busts of his grandparents. The next and last room we saw was his reception room, another curiosity shop. In one corner is the original chest of Mistletoe bough fame with the old spring lock – a present to Sir Walter.  We also saw here the last suit of clothes the poet wore. From a window in this room we could see in the gardens two statues of Sir Walter’s favorite dogs. This was all we were allowed to see of the house, so we came back to the Hotel and after lunch drove out to Dryburgh Abbey. It is in beautiful ruins, covered with moss and ivy. In one of the old chapels is the tomb of Sir Walter Scott, his wife and son. We saw the dungeons where refractory monks were confined and the holes in the wall where their hands were put through and screwed down.


From Dryburgh we came back to Melrose Abbey which is just at the back of the Hotel. This is also in fine ruins. Under the famous East window is the place where the Heart of Robert Bruce is buried. We were shown in another place the stone on which Scott sat to write his poem in Melrose Abbey. After dinner Father, Kitten and I took a little walk but soon came back to bed, quite tired out.

Much of the carving in Melrose Abbey is reproduced in Scott’s home at Abbotsford. One of the most remarkable facts in connection with Melrose Abbey is that the same clock which was there when the monks occupied the Abbey several centuries ago, still strikes the hours. Is a good time-keeper.

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