Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field in Six Cantos

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Source: http://gutenberg.org

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Sir Walter Scott’s love of the country induced him, after his marriage in 1797, to settle in a cottage at the pretty village of Lasswade, near Edinburgh. Four years after leaving this district he took Mr. Morritt of Rokeby to see the little dwelling, telling him that, though not worth looking at, ‘it was our first house when newly married, and many a contrivance it had to make it comfortable.’ He then enumerated various devices, by which he had secured for Mrs. Scott and himself what seemed to both, at the time, additional convenience and elegance in and about their home. His reminiscences culminated in an account of an arch over the gate-way, which he had constructed by fastening together the tops of two convenient willows and placing above them ‘a cross made of two sticks.’ This is very beautiful and characteristic; and there is much freshness and charm in the further picture of the young cottagers rejoicing over the success of the arrangements. ‘To be sure,’ Scott concluded, ‘it is not much of a lion to show a stranger; but I wanted to see it again myself, for I assure you after I constructed it, Mamma (Mrs. Scott) and I both of us thought it so fine, we turned out to see it by moonlight, and walked backwards from it to the cottage-door in admiration of our own magnificence and its picturesque effect.’ It was his way to invest his circumstances with an interest over and above what intrinsically belonged to them, and to prompt his friends to a share in his delight. When, in 1804, Scott was appointed Sheriff of Selkirkshire, a condition attaching to his post was that he should reside during part of the year within the bounds of his sheriffdom. He then removed from Lasswade, and settled at Ashestiel on the Tweed, seven miles from Selkirk. This is his own account of the new home:--