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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


THE CASTLE -4ND GLEN. 34 7 Roslin.] further repaired, as an ornate entrance seems tc show, with its lintel, inscribed ? S.W.S., 1622.?? The same initials appear on the half-circular pedi. ment of a dormer window. Above this door, which is beautifully moulded and enriched, is a deep and ornate squqre niche, the use for which it is difficult to conceive. From its windows it commands a view of the richly-wooded glen, between the rocky banks and dark shadows of which the Esk flows onward with a ceaseless murmur among scattered boulders, where grow an infinite variety of ferns. The eastern bank rises almost perpendicularly from the river?s bed, and everywhere there is presented a diversity of outline that always delights an artistic eye. The entrance to the castle was originally by a gate of vast strength, and the whole structure must have been spacious and massive, and on its northern face bears something of the aspect of old Moorish fortresses in Spain. A descent of a great number of stone stairs conducts through the existing structure to the bottom, leading into a spacious kitchen, from which a door opens into the once famous gardens. The modern house of 1563 is ill-lighted and confined, and possesses more the gloom of a dungeon-like prison than the comforts of a residence. Grose gives us a view of the whole as they appeared in 1788--? haggard and utterly dilapidated- the mere wreck of a great pile riding on a l ~ t l e sea of forest-a rueful apology for the once grand fabric whose name of ? Roslin Castle ? is so intimately associated with melody and song.? It is unknown when or by whom the original castle was founded. It has been referred to the year 1100, when William de St. Clair, son of Waldern, Count of St. Clair, who came to England with William the Conqueror, obtained from Malcolm 111. the barony of Roslin, and was named ?the seemly St. Clair,? in allusion to his grace of deportment ; but singular to say, notwithstanding its importance, the castle is not mentioned distinctly in history till the reign of James II., when Sir William Hamilton was confined in it in 1455 for being in rebellion with Douglas, and again when it was partly burned in 1447. Father Richard Augustine Hay, Prior of St. Piermont, in France, who wrote much about the Roslin family, records thus :-- ?About this time, 1447, Edmund Sinclair of Dryden, coming with four greyhounds and some rackets to hunt with the prince (meaning William Sinclair, Earl of Orkney), met a great company of rats, and among them an old blind lyard, with a straw in his mouth, led by the rest, whereat he greatly marvelled, not thinking what was to follow; but within four days after-viz., the feast of St. Leonard, the princess, who took great delight in little dogs, caused one of the gentlewomen to go under a bed with a lighted candle to bring forth one of them that had young whelps, which she was doing, and not being very attentive, set on fire the bed, whereat the fire rose and burnt the bed, and then rose to the ceiling of the great chamber in which the princess was, whereat she and all that were in the dungeon (keep?) were compelled to fly. ? The prince?s chaplain seeing this, and remembering his master?s writings, passed to the head of the dungeon, where they were, and threw out four great trunks. The news of this fire coming to the prince?s ears through the lamentable cries of the ladies and gentlemen, and the sight thereof coming to his view in the place where he stood-namely, upon the College (Chapel?) Hill-he was in sorrow for nothing but the loss of his charters and other writings; but when the chaplain, who had saved himself by coming down the bell-rope tied to a beam, declared how they were saved, he became cheerful, and went to re-comfort his princess and the ladies, desiring them to put away all sorrow, and rewarded his chaplain very richly.? The i? princess ? was the Elizabeth Countess of Roslin, referred to in page 3 of Vol. I. In 1544 the castle was fired by the English under Hertford, and demolished. The house of 1563, erected amid its ruins nineteen years after, was pillaged and battered by the troops of Cromwellin 1650. +4t the revolution in 1688, it was pillaged again by a lawless mob from the city, and from thenceforward it passes out of history. Of the powerful family to whom it belonged we can only give a sketch. The descendants of the Norman William de St. Clair, called ihdifferently by that name and Sinclair, received from successive kings of Scotland accessions, which made them lords of Cousland, Pentland, Cardoine, and other lands, and they lived in their castle, surrounded by all the splendour of a rude age, and personal importancegiven by the acquisition of possessions by methods that would be little understood in modern times. There were three successive William Sinclairs barons of Roslin (one of whom made a great figure in the reign of William the Lion, and gave a yearly gift to Newbattle,pro saZufe mime we) before the accession of Henry, who, by one account, is said to have mamed a daughter of the Earl of Mar, and by auother a daughter of the Earl
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of Strathearn, the Rosabelle of Scott?s beautiful ballad, which tells us- ? There are twenty of Roslin?s barons bold, Lie buried in that proud chapelle, But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle. With candle, with book, and with bell ; The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.? Each one the holy vault doth hold, And each St. Clair is buried there, But the sea caves sung, and the wild waves rung, In 1264, Sir William, sixth of Roslin, was Sheriff of Edinburgh, Linlithgow, and Haddington ( r r Chamberlain Rolls ?7, and it was his son and successor, Sir Henry, who obtained from Robert I., for his good and faithful services, a charter of Pentland Muir, and to whom (and not to a Sir William) the well-known tradition of the famous huntingmatch thereon, which led to the founding of the chapel of St. Katherine in the Hope, must refer. With that muir he obtained other lands, whjch were ?all erected into a free forestry, for payment of a tenth part of one soldier yearly, in His son, Sir William, was one of the chosen companions of the good Sir James Douglas, whom he accompanied in the mission to convey Bruce?s 1317.? heart to Jerusalem, and with whom he perished in battle with the Moors at Teba, in 1331, He left an infant son, who, in 1350, was ambassador at the Court of England, whither he repaired with a train of sixty armed horse. He married Isabella, daughter of Malise, Earl of Strathearn, and was succeeded by his son, Sir Henry Sinclair of Roslin, who was created Earl of Orkney by Haco, King of Norway, in 1379-a title confirmed by Robert 11. According to Douglas, he married Florentina, a daughter of the King of Denmark. Nisbet adds that he was made Lord of Shetland and Duke of Oldenburg (which is considered doubtful), and that he was Knight of the Thistle, Cockle, and Golden Fleece. William, third earl, resigned his earldom of Orkney in favour of King James IIL, and adopted that of Caithness, which he resigned in 1476 to his son TVilliam, who became distinguished by the baronial grandeur of his household, and was the founder of the chapel. It is of him that Father Hay writes as ?a prince,? who maintained at the Castle of Roslin royal state, and was served at his table in vessels of gold and silver. Lord Dirleton was the master of his household, Lord Borthwick
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