Writing in 1814 and setting his first novel (Waverley) in 1745, Walter Scott, used aan ancient aristocratic garden in the Scottish Borders as a symbol of the old society. It is the garden of Bradwardine, Tully-Veolan - and may have been inspired by Traquair House, in the Borders and not far from Abbostsford - which Scott bought in 1822.
Some such thoughts crossed Waverley's mind as he paced his horse slowly through the rugged and flinty street of Tully-Veolan, interrupted only in his meditations by the occasional caprioles which his charger exhibited at the reiterated assaults of those canine Cossacks, the collies before mentioned. The village was more than half a mile long, the cottages being irregularly divided from each other by gardens, or yards, as the inhabitants called them, of different sizes, where (for it is Sixty Years Since) the now universal potato was unknown, but which were stored with gigantic plants of kale or colewort, encircled with groves of nettles, and exhibited here and there a huge hemlock, or the national thistle, overshadowing a quarter of the petty inclosure. The broken ground on which the village was built had never been levelled; so that these inclosures presented declivities of every degree, here rising like terraces, there sinking like tan-pits. The dry-stone walls which fenced, or seemed to fence (for they were sorely breached), these hanging gardens of Tully-Veolan were intersected by a narrow lane leading to the common field, where the joint labour of the villagers cultivated alternate ridges and patches of rye, oats, barley, and pease, each of such minute extent that at a little distance the unprofitable variety of the surface resembled a tailor's book of patterns. In a few favoured instances, there appeared behind the cottages a miserable wigwam, compiled of earth, loose stones, and turf, where the wealthy might perhaps shelter a starved cow or sorely galled horse. But almost every hut was fenced in front by a huge black stack of turf on one side of the door, while on the other the family dunghill ascended in noble emulation.
About a bowshot from the end of the village appeared the inclosures proudly denominated the Parks of Tully-Veolan, being certain square fields, surrounded and divided by stone walls five feet in height. In the centre of the exterior barrier was the upper gate of the avenue, opening under an archway, battlemented on the top, and adorned with two large weather-beaten mutilated masses of upright stone, which, if the tradition of the hamlet could be trusted, had once represented, at least had been once designed to represent, two rampant Bears, the supporters of the family of Bradwardine. This avenue was straight and of moderate length, running between a double row of very ancient horse- chestnuts, planted alternately with sycamores, which rose to such huge height, and nourished so luxuriantly, that their boughs completely over-arched the broad road beneath. Beyond these venerable ranks, and running parallel to them, were two high walls, of apparently the like antiquity, overgrown with ivy, honeysuckle, and other climbing plants. The avenue seemed very little trodden, and chiefly by foot-passengers; so that being very broad, and enjoying a constant shade, it was clothed with grass of a deep and rich verdure, excepting where a foot-path, worn by occasional passengers, tracked with a natural sweep the way from the upper to the lower gate. This nether portal, like the former, opened in front of a wall ornamented with some rude sculpture, with battlements on the top, over which were seen, half-hidden by the trees of the avenue, the high steep roofs and narrow gables of the mansion, with lines indented into steps, and corners decorated with small turrets. One of the folding leaves of the lower gate was open, and as the sun shone full into the court behind, a long line of brilliancy was flung upon the aperture up the dark and gloomy avenue. It was one of those effects which a painter loves to represent, and mingled well with the struggling light which found its way between the boughs of the shady arch that vaulted the broad green alley.
The solitude and repose of the whole scene seemed almost monastic; and Waverley, who had given his horse to his servant on entering the first gate, walked slowly down the avenue, enjoying the grateful and cooling shade, and so much pleased with the placid ideas of rest and seclusion excited by this confined and quiet scene, that he forgot the misery and dirt of the hamlet he had left behind him. The opening into the paved court-yard corresponded with the rest of the scene. The house, which seemed to consist of two or three high, narrow, and steep-roofed buildings, projecting from each other at right angles, formed one side of the inclosure. It had been built at a period when castles were no longer necessary, and when the Scottish architects had not yet acquired the art of designing a domestic residence. The windows were numberless, but very small; the roof had some nondescript kind of projections, called bartizans, and displayed at each frequent angle a small turret, rather resembling a pepper- box than a Gothic watchtower. Neither did the front indicate absolute security from danger. There were loop-holes for musketry, and iron stanchions on the lower windows, probably to repel any roving band of gypsies, or resist a predatory visit from the caterans of the neighbouring Highlands. Stables and other offices occupied another side of the square. The former were low vaults, with narrow slits instead of windows, resembling, as Edward's groom observed, 'rather a prison for murderers, and larceners, and such like as are tried at 'sizes, than a place for any Christian cattle.' Above these dungeon-looking stables were granaries, called girnels, and other offices, to which there was access by outside stairs of heavy masonry. Two battlemented walls, one of which faced the avenue, and the other divided the court from the garden, completed the inclosure.
Nor was the court without its ornaments. In one corner was a tun- bellied pigeon-house, of great size and rotundity, resembling in figure and proportion the curious edifice called Arthur's Oven, which would have turned the brains of all the antiquaries in England, had not the worthy proprietor pulled it down for the sake of mending a neighbouring dam-dyke. This dove-cot, or columbarium, as the owner called it, was no small resource to a Scottish laird of that period, whose scanty rents were eked out by the contributions levied upon the farms by these light foragers, and the conscriptions exacted from the latter for the benefit of the table.
Another corner of the court displayed a fountain, where a huge bear, carved in stone, predominated over a large stone-basin, into which he disgorged the water. This work of art was the wonder of the country ten miles round. It must not be forgotten, that all sorts of bears, small and large, demi or in full proportion, were carved over the windows, upon the ends of the gables, terminated the spouts, and supported the turrets, with the ancient family motto, 'Beware the Bear', cut under each hyperborean form. The court was spacious, well paved, and perfectly clean, there being probably another entrance behind the stables for removing the litter. Everything around appeared solitary, and would have been silent, but for the continued plashing of the fountain; and the whole scene still maintained the monastic illusion which the fancy of Waverley had conjured up. And here we beg permission to close a chapter of still life. [Footnote: See Note 7.There is no particular mansion described under the name of Tully- Veolan; but the peculiarities of the description occur in various old Scottish seats. The House of Warrender upon Bruntsfield Links and that of Old Ravelston, belonging, the former to Sir George Warrender, the latter to Sir Alexander Keith, have both contributed several hints to the description in the text. The House of Dean, near Edinburgh, has also some points of resemblance with Tully-Veolan. The author has, however, been informed that the House of Grandtully resembles that of the Baron of Bradwardine still more than any of the above.] [[Other commentators believe it is based on one of the oldest inhabited houses in Scotland: Traquair House.]]
MORE OF THE MANOR-HOUSE AND ITS ENVIRONS
After having satisfied his curiosity by gazing around him for a few minutes, Waverley applied himself to the massive knocker of
the hall-door, the architrave of which bore the date 1594. But no answer was returned, though the peal resounded through a number of apartments, and was echoed from the court-yard walls without the house, startling the pigeons from the venerable rotunda which they occupied, and alarming anew even the distant village curs, which had retired to sleep upon their respective dunghills. Tired of the din which he created, and the unprofitable responses which it excited, Waverley began to think that he had reached the castle of Orgoglio as entered by the victorious Prince Arthur,--
When 'gan he loudly through the house to call,
But no man cared to answer to his cry;
There reign'd a solemn silence over all,
Nor voice was heard, nor wight was seen in bower or hall.
Filled almost with expectation of beholding some 'old, old man, with beard as white as snow,' whom he might question concerning this deserted mansion, our hero turned to a little oaken wicket- door, well clenched with iron-nails, which opened in the court- yard wall at its angle with the house. It was only latched, notwithstanding its fortified appearance, and, when opened, admitted him into the garden, which presented a pleasant scene. [Footnote: Footnote: At Ravelston may be seen such a garden, which the taste of the proprietor, the author's friend and kinsman, Sir Alexander Keith, Knight Mareschal, has judiciously preserved. That, as well as the house is, however, of smaller dimensions than the Baron of Bradwardine's mansion and garden are presumed to have been.] The southern side of the house, clothed with fruit-trees, and having many evergreens trained upon its walls, extended its irregular yet venerable front along a terrace, partly paved, partly gravelled, partly bordered with flowers and choice shrubs. This elevation descended by three several flights of steps, placed in its centre and at the extremities, into what might be called the garden proper, and was fenced along the top by a stone parapet with a heavy balustrade, ornamented from space to space with huge grotesque figures of animals seated upon their haunches, among which the favourite bear was repeatedly introduced. Placed in the middle of the terrace between a sashed- door opening from the house and the central flight of steps, a huge animal of the same species supported on his head and fore- paws a sun-dial of large circumference, inscribed with more diagrams than Edward's mathematics enabled him to decipher.
The garden, which seemed to be kept with great accuracy, abounded in fruit-trees, and exhibited a profusion of flowers and evergreens, cut into grotesque forms. It was laid out in terraces, which descended rank by rank from the western wall to a large brook, which had a tranquil and smooth appearance, where it served as a boundary to the garden; but, near the extremity, leapt in tumult over a strong dam, or wear-head, the cause of its temporary tranquillity, and there forming a cascade, was overlooked by an octangular summer-house, with a gilded bear on the top by way of vane. After this feat, the brook, assuming its natural rapid and fierce character, escaped from the eye down a deep and wooded dell, from the copse of which arose a massive, but ruinous tower, the former habitation of the Barons of Bradwardine. The margin of the brook, opposite to the garden, displayed a narrow meadow, or haugh, as it was called, which formed a small washing-green; the bank, which retired behind it, was covered by ancient trees.
The scene, though pleasing, was not quite equal to the gardens of Alcina; yet wanted not the 'due donzellette garrule' of that enchanted paradise, for upon the green aforesaid two bare-legged damsels, each standing in a spacious tub, performed with their feet the office of a patent washing-machine. These did not, however, like the maidens of Armida, remain to greet with their harmony the approaching guest, but, alarmed at the appearance of a handsome stranger on the opposite side, dropped their garments (I should say garment, to be quite correct) over their limbs, which their occupation exposed somewhat too freely, and, with a shrill exclamation of 'Eh, sirs!' uttered with an accent between modesty and coquetry, sprung off like deer in different directions.
Waverley began to despair of gaining entrance into this solitary and seemingly enchanted mansion, when a man advanced up one of the garden alleys, where he still retained his station. Trusting this might be a gardener, or some domestic belonging to the house, Edward descended the steps in order to meet him; but as the figure approached, and long before he could descry its features, he was struck with the oddity of its appearance and gestures. Sometimes this mister wight held his hands clasped over his head, like an Indian Jogue in the attitude of penance; sometimes he swung them perpendicularly, like a pendulum, on each side; and anon he slapped them swiftly and repeatedly across his breast, like the substitute used by a hackney-coachman for his usual flogging exercise, when his cattle are idle upon the stand, in a clear frosty day. His gait was as singular as his gestures, for at times he hopped with great perseverance on the right foot, then exchanged that supporter to advance in the same manner on the left, and then putting his feet close together he hopped upon both at once. His attire also was antiquated and extravagant. It consisted in a sort of grey jerkin, with scarlet cuffs and slashed sleeves, showing a scarlet lining; the other parts of the dress corresponded in colour, not forgetting a pair of scarlet stockings, and a scarlet bonnet, proudly surmounted with a turkey's feather. Edward, whom he did not seem to observe, now perceived confirmation in his features of what the mien and gestures had already announced. It was apparently neither idiocy nor insanity which gave that wild, unsettled, irregular expression to a face which naturally was rather handsome, but something that resembled a compound of both, where the simplicity of the fool was mixed with the extravagance of a crazed imagination. He sung with great earnestness, and not without some taste, a fragment of an old Scottish ditty:--
False love, and hast thou play'd me this
In summer among the flowers?
I will repay thee back again
In winter among the showers.
Unless again, again, my love,
Unless you turn again;
As you with other maidens rove,
I'll smile on other men.
[Footnote: This is a genuine ancient fragment, with some
alteration in the two last lines.]