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The Mentor: Scotland, The Land of Song and Scenery, Vol. 1, Num. 10, Serial No. 10, April 21, 1913

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The Mentor: Scotland, The Land of Song and Scenery, Vol. 1, Num. 10, Serial No. 10, April 21, 1913
Dwight Elmendorf

Dwight L. Elmendorf

The Mentor: Scotland, The Land of Song and Scenery, Vol. 1, Num. 10, Serial No. 10, April 21, 1913 / A Trip Around the World with Dwight L. Elmendorf


Robert Burns’ Cottage


Few poets singing in dialect become world famous. This is true for the simple reason that a dialect poet is likely to be local – to write of local things – to avoid the universal. But Robert Burns – “poor Burns,” as we think of him – was the exception. Who does not know “Auld Lang Syne” and all that it means? Or who has not said to himself in his own way, “A man’s a man for a’ that?”

Robert Burns could not help but be a poet of the people – the “peasant poet.” He was born close to the soil of Scotland. On January 25, 1759, he opened his eyes in a small cottage about two miles from Ayr, in Scotland. His father was only a small farmer, and Robert got very little education, but lots of hard work.

However, he managed to learn to read, and used to carry his books into the fields with him to snatch a few moments’ reading during the day. At meal times he sat with a spoon in one hand and a book in the other. He liked best the ballads of Scotland – the old songs of the minstrels.

But in 1781 he went to Irvine to learn the trade of a flax-dresser. And it was here that he indulged two habits that clung to him all the rest of his life – drinking and falling in love. For the poet was a boon companion at a feast and a great heartbreaker – but his own heart was broken also many times.

His fortunes fell very low in 1786, and he intended to sail for the West Indies, there to try to better them. But his first volume of poetry proved to be such a great success that he did not go. His poems took the people by storm. Everyone read them. He was invited to Edinburgh, where he became the lion of the hour.

But all this did not bring him in much money. Finally, in 1789 he got a position as excise officer. But as the years went on, and he grew wilder and wilder in his dissipations, friends drew away from him. His only companions were those of the lowest classes.

At last, on July 4, 1796, he knew that he was dying. He wrote on the twelfth to his cousin for a loan of fifty dollars, to save him from passing his last days in jail. He died on the twenty-first of July, 1796.

The Burns Cottage, near Ayr is reverently preserved as a memorial to the poet. Here is the little room where he was born, and here are to be found many mementos associated with his life. This cot, built of clay by Burns’ father, is a shrine for those who love the memory of the “peasant poet.”


Ellens Isle


A fierce looking man who had lost his way stood on a beach of snow-white pebbles near a beautiful little glassy lake and blew a loud blast on the bugle which he held in his left hand. And almost immediately he dodged into a nearby thicket of bushes and stood there peering forth at a little skiff that came gliding toward the shore from underneath a gnarled oak tree overhanging the water. The only occupant of the boat was a beautiful young girl, who, after guiding it to a safe landing on the silvery strand, stepped gracefully out on the pebbles.

This was James Fitzjames’ first sight of Ellen, the heroine of Sir Walter Scott’s poem, “The Lady of the Lake,” which has immortalized for all time Loch Katrine in the Trossachs, Scotland. There in the lake sleeps Ellens Isle, the pretty little island on which the girl lived – and last secret fastness of her fierce clan.

In the poem Fitzjames has become separated from his companions, and his bugle call is to summon them to his side from the hunt on which they are engaged. But before they come Fitzjames makes the acquaintance of the girl and goes to Ellens Isle with her – and that’s the beginning of the romance that has made Scott’s poem famous.

All the country round about Loch Katrine has been made famous by Scott. Almost every spot has been the scene of one or more incidents in his novels. High above Callander rise Uamh Var, where the stag was started at the beginning of “The Lady of the Lake,” and Ben Crackie, with the wild Bracklin Fall, within the roar of whose waters the seer of Clan Alpine wrapped himself in the white bull’s hide to dream his dream. Northward from Callander lies the beautiful Pass of Seny, up which Duncraggan’s heir rushed with the Fiery Cross, to thrust it, at the door of the little kirk of St. Bride, into the hands of the new-wed Norman, heir of Armandave. And westward from Callander lie Coilantogle Ford, where James Fitzjames fought Roderick Dhu; Lanrick Mead, the fierce clan’s muster-place; and Duncraggan, scene of the Highland funeral.

The popularity of “The Lady of the Lake” has brought many visitors to Loch Katrine. This beautiful region is visited by hundreds of tourists each year.


Melrose Abbey


Among the ruins of Melrose Abbey, ivy covered and deserted, lies buried the heart of Scotland’s greatest king – Robert Bruce. Why is it there, so far away from his grave at Dunfermline? Bannockburn was the greatest achievement of Bruce’s life. This decisive battle was fought on June 24, 1314. Robert Bruce was born in 1274, at a time when Scotland was struggling fiercely to throw off the yoke of England under Edward I. Bruce grew up with the love of freedom strongly implanted in his heart. He was a natural leader.

Finally, his chance came. On March 27, 1306, he had himself crowned king of Scotland; but he was as yet a king without a kingdom. He gathered his supporters together and overran Scotland until only Berwick, Stirling, and Bothwell remained to the English. Edward I had died, and Edward II, a weak and unstable man, was on the British throne.

But even this weakling now saw that unless a strong blow was struck Scotland would be lost. He assembled his army and advanced on Bruce. And then Bruce, by a wonderful exhibition of strategy, rapidity of movement, and personal bravery, so decisively defeated him that the complete rout of the English determined the independence of Scotland and confirmed the title of Bruce.

After peace had been made the new king of Scotland proved himself as able a lawmaker as he was a warrior. But he did not live many years to enjoy his triumph. On June 7, 1329, he died of leprosy, contracted in the hardships of earlier life, and was buried at Dunfermline.

Now comes the story of the “Heart of Bruce.” During his life he made a vow to visit the Holy Sepulcher. But he could not do this; so he begged Douglas to carry his heart there after his death. But the brave Douglas, on the way to the Holy Land stopped off in Spain to help the Spaniards against the Moors and was killed. However, the box containing Bruce’s heart was recovered by Sir William Keith, and at last was brought back to Scotland and found a resting place in Melrose Abbey.

Melrose Abbey is eight hundred years old, and, though battered both by time and the assaults of many hostile armies, is still famous for its architecture. It is situated on the River Tweed, near the little town of Melrose.

Sir Walter Scott has immortalized this famous old ruin forever, when in “The Lay of the Last Minstrel” he describes the visit to Melrose Abbey of William of Deloraine, who had come to steal from the hand of the dead magician, Michael Scott, his book of magic.

How beautiful the abbey may have been we can only guess; but it is still picturesque, though the windows, once filled with wonderful stained glass, are now bare and desolate, and the only incense on its ruined altar is the breath of the wild rose.




A man who at the age of fifty-five resolves to pay off a bankruptcy debt of six hundred thousand dollars must justly be regarded as a hero. Not many men, weakened in health and used to all the comforts, would attempt to do this – especially when the debt was incurred through no fault of their own, and when the law does not force them to pay. Yet that is what Sir Walter Scott – the “Wizard of the North” – did, and so fiercely did he work at his writing – twelve, fourteen, and sixteen hours a day – that at his death six years later every penny of that colossal and heartbreaking debt had been paid.

The story of Abbotsford, the home of the great poet and novelist, of which he dreamed for years, and which he planned and built himself, is a drama, a tragedy itself. No sooner was the great house finished and the dream of his life complete than the crash of tremendous ruin fell on Scott.

It was on a bleak winter morning in 1826 that a friend called at Abbotsford and found the novelist terribly agitated.

“My friend,” said Sir Walter to him, “give me your hand; mine is that of a beggar.”

The publishing house with which he had been connected had failed, and Scott took upon himself the terrible burden of satisfying its creditors. It was an apparently hopeless task for a writer, and one in such a frail state of health as Scott, to accomplish. But where others would have yielded to Fate, he stood up to fight it, and though the effort cost him his life he succeeded, and may truly be called the most heroic literary figure in the world.

Walter Scott was born at Edinburgh on August 15, 1771. His father wanted him to follow his own profession, that of a lawyer; but the boy wished to write. He wrote poetry at first; but according to the story turned to prose romance when he found that Lord Byron excelled him as a poet. It was in 1814 that a novel – “Waverley” – by an anonymous author, appeared. Its popularity swept like wild fire all over England. Book after book, all of the same excellence, was published. The secret of authorship was jealously kept by Scott – for what reason many guesses have been made – but at last his name was definitely connected with this great series – the “Waverley Novels.”

He prospered brilliantly for eleven years. And then came the crash of ruin. Scott put his shoulder to the wheel. His wife died soon after the struggle began; but, though sick at heart, he toiled on indomitably. Success was his in the end; but the struggle killed him.

It was on the twenty-first of September, 1832, that Sir Walter Scott died.


Stirling Castle


One Sunday morning in 1543 a pretty, helpless little girl baby less than a year old was seated on a throne in the spacious chapel of Stirling Castle in Scotland, surrounded by fierce, mailed men. A cardinal held a crown over her head; the tiny fingers were clasped for a moment about a scepter; a huge, unwieldy sword was buckled round the little waist; and a noble spoke the words that created Mary Stuart queen of Scotland. Forty-four years later the stroke of a sword in the headsman’s hands ended the life of this queen – one of the most beautiful and tragic figures in all history.

Besides the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots, Stirling Castle has seen many historic events. This old stronghold is situated on the Firth of Forth, some thirty-five miles above Edinburgh. It stands on a hill high above the town of Stirling. No one knows exactly how long ago it was built; but it is very, very old.

Away back in the time of the Romans these invaders of Britain had a station in the town of Stirling. Alexander II, king of Scotland, gave the town its first charter in 1226, and he made Stirling Castle the royal residence. During the wars of Scottish Independence the castle was besieged many times. Edward I of England captured it in 1304. For ten years after that it was held by the English; but Robert Bruce besieged it fiercely in 1314. Edward II, who was king of England at that time, was a weak ruler, and he knew that if the Scots captured Stirling Castle they would probably win their freedom. So he gathered an army and marched north. But he was so badly beaten by Bruce at the battle of Bannockburn that the Scots won their independence, and Bruce became their king. On the esplanade before Stirling Castle stands a statue of this great man.
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