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Edinburgh Past and Present


‘34 ROSLTN, HAWTHORNDEN, that built the more modern portion of the mansion as we now see it, repairing or renewing the more ancient house that stood on. the same rock and fragments of which still remain, Hawthornden, in short, is a kind of minor Abbotsford, much nearer Edinburgh, and much more antique than the greater one; and it is this’ that makes it an object of curiosity, and invests all its accessories with a precise human interest.’ 1 Perhaps the most interesting fact in Drummond’s life was the visit paid to him by Ben Jonson, who had walked from London into Scotland. He had not come, qs is generally stated, on purpose to see Drummond; but he had known Drummond by reputation for some time, and was very glad to make his acquaintance personally. Accordingly, after having met Drummond in Edinburgh (where Jonson, as a celebrity from ‘London, was received with great distinction by all classes of people, and even presented with the freedom of the city at a banquet in his honour),‘he accepted Drummond’s invitation to stay a week or two with him in Hawthornden House. The time was about the Christmas of 1618 or the New Year’s Day of 1619 ; and the visit has been sketched as follows :- ‘Retter than most myths of the kind is the myth which would tell us exactly how the visit began, Drummond, it says, was sitting under the great sycamore-tree in front of his house, expecting his visitor, when at length, descending the well-hedged avenue from the public road to the house, the bulky hero hove in sight. Rising, and stepping forth to meet him, Drummond saluted him with “Welcome, welcome, royal Ben !” to which Jonson replied Thank ye, thank ye, Hawthornden IJJ and they laughed, fraternised, tmd went in together. ‘ For two or three weeks, at all events, Drummond had Ben Jonson all to himself. There would, doubtless, be friends from Edinburgh, perhaps Scot of Scotstarvet and two or three more, asked out every other day to make dinnercompany for the great man ; and again, once or twice, Drummond and Ben may have trudged into Edinburgh together in the forenoon, or walked together by cross-roads to the house of some neighbour of Drummond’s. (Carriages were not then much in fashion near Edinburgh, and I do not think Drummond kept one, or had a horse fit for a rider of Ben’s size.) But then, even when there’were other guests at Drummond’s table, Ben would be the 1 This and the following extracts are taken from Professor Masson‘s Drammond of fiaw thorn&# : Tiu Story of his Ltyc and Writings.
Volume 11 Page 193
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