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AND THE VALE OF THE ESK. 13s principal talker ; and, when Ben and Drummond walked briskly together in the winter-weather by the paths in the glen itself, close to the house, or on the high-way or cross-roads near, Ben would still be talking, and Drummond chiefly listening. You must remember also that Drummond’s was a bachelois household, and that, when he and Ben were alone together in the evenings, and the candles were lit in the chief room, and the supper was removed, there would still be wine on the board. Then, if you know anything of the two men, you can see the scene as distinctly as if you had been peeping through the window. You can see the two sitting on snugly by the ruddy fire far into the night, hardly hearing the murmur of the Esk and the moaning of the wind outside, but talking of all things in heaven or earth, Ben telling anecdotes of his London acquaintances back to Shakespeare, and reciting scraps of poetry, and pronouncing criticisms on poets, and Drummond now and then taking out a manuscript from a desk and modestly reading as much as Ben would stand, and Ben helping himself and going off again, and the noise and the laughter always increasing on his part, till Drummond at length would grow dizzy with too much of it, and light their bedroom tapers by way of signal. And next morning you may be sure it would be a late breakfast, and Ben would be surIy and taciturn for a while ; but gradually he would come round, and the day’s talk would begin again. As surely, I repeat, as if you had been a spy sent to watch, this is what went on in Hawthornden House during that fortnight or so when the great Ben from London was the guest of the cultured Drummond. ‘ The visit was one to be marked with a red mark in Drummond‘s calendar, Here he had been for many years in his Scottish retirement, far from the London world of politics and letters, and with only such information from that world as might be blown to him among his boors by rumour, or brought occasionally by Sir William Alexander and other friends. But now he had under his own roof the very laureate of the London world, the man who had known everybody of note in it since Elizabeth was queen, and whose habits of talk made him the very paragon of gossips. It was, doubtless, a great treat. But there is nothing perfect under the sun. There is evidence that Ilrummond, when he had Ben all to himself, began to feel that he had caught a Tartar. Ben’s own poetry, it is to- be remembered, the poetry of general and miscellaneous strength rather than of the pure and soft musical vein, was not that which would have predisposed Drummond to forgive him his personal faults from a sense of literary allegiance. Hence, though he was scrupulously polite to Ben all the while he was his guest, and must have thought him one of the
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136 ROSLIN, HAWTHORNDEN, most massive and impressive fellows he had ever met, his private feeling, as he sat opposite, watching the vast bulk in the chair, and the lighting up of his surly visage as he swilled off .glass after glass, must have been ‘‘ Can this really be the accepted living chief of British Literature 1”’ Drummond lived at Hawthornden from the time he was four-and-twenty till his death at the age of sixty-three. He composed here his Teares ow fhe Death of Mdiades, his Ebrfh Peasfing, his FZozwes af Sion, and his Cypress Grove. He also made a valuable collection of English and foreign books, some portion of which he afterwards presented to the library of Edinburgh University, where he had been educated He married in the year 1632, and two or three years later enlarged and rebuilt Hawthornden. , ‘The new house was completed in 1638, when Drummond, to commemorate the event, caused this inscription to he carved over the new doorway : Dizino mut2t-n GuZieZmus Drummondus ab Huw+wrden, Joannis, Eguifis Aurafi, Filius, ut honesto ofw quiesccref, sibi et mccessoribus itutauravit, 1638 ” (‘‘ By the divine favour, William Drummond of Hawthornden, son of Sir John Drummond, Knight, that he might rest in honourable ease, founded this house for himself and his successors.’) Accordingly, the mansion of Hawthornden which tourists now ‘admire, peaked so picturesquely on its high rock in the romantic glen of the Esk, is not the identical house which Ben Jonson saw, and in which he and Drummond had their immortal colloquies, but Drummonds enlarged edifice of 1638, preserving in it one hardly knows what fragments of the older building.’ A biographer of Drummond, writing in the year 1711, thus records the poet’s death:-‘In the year 1649, when rebellion was prosperous and triumphant in ’the utmost degree, the best of kings and men, under a sham pretence of justice, was barbarously murdered at his own palace gate by the .worst of subjects and the worst of men. Our author, who was much weakened with close studying and diseases, was so pverwhelmed with extreme grief and anguish that he died the 4th of December, wanting only nine days of sixtyfour years of age, to the great grief and loss of all learned and good men ; and was honourably buried in his own aisle in the church of Lasswade, near to his house of Hawthornden.’ This statement of the cause of Drummond’s death is not quite correct. ‘ Of Drummond’s deep feeling,’ says Professor Masson, ‘ about the death of
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