Friday, September 23rd.
Before breakfast, walked with Mr. Scott along a high road for about two miles, up a bare hill. Hawick is a small town. From the top of the hill we had an extensive view over the moors of Liddisdale, and saw the Cheviot Hills. We wished we could have gone with Mr. Scott into some of the remote dales of this country, where in almost every house he can find a home and a hearty welcome. But after breakfast we were obliged to part with him, which we did with great regret: he would gladly have gone with us to Langholm, eighteen miles further. Our way was through the vale of Teviot, near the banks of the river.
Passed Branxholm Hall, one of the mansions belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch, which we looked at with particular interest for the sake of the Lay of the Last Minstrel. Only a very small part of the original building remains: it is a large strong house, old, but not ancient in its appearance - stands very near the river-side; the banks covered with plantations.
A little further on, met the Edinburgh coach with several passengers, the only stage-coach that had passed us in Scotland. Coleridge had come home by that conveyance only a few days before. The quantity of arable land gradually diminishes, and the plantations become fewer, till at last the river flows open to the sun, mostly through unfenced and untilled grounds, a soft pastoral district, both the hills and the valley being scattered over with sheep: here and there was a single farm-house, or cluster of houses, and near them a portion of land covered with ripe corn.
Near the head of the vale of Teviot, where that stream is but a small rivulet, we descended towards another valley, by another small rivulet. Hereabouts Mr. Scott had directed us to look about for some old stumps of trees, said to be the place where Johnny Armstrong was hanged; but we could not find them out. The valley into which we were descending, though, for aught I know, it is unnamed in song, was to us more interesting than the Teviot itself. Not a spot of tilled ground was there to break in upon its pastoral simplicity; the same soft yellow green spread from the bed of the streamlet to the hill-tops on each side, and sheep were feeding everywhere. It was more close and simple than the upper end of the vale of Teviot, the valley being much narrower, and the hills equally high and not broken into parts, but on each side a long range. The grass, as we had first seen near Crawfordjohn, had been mown in the different places of the open ground, where it might chance to be best; but there was no part of the surface that looked perfectly barren, as in those tracts.
We saw a single stone house a long way before us, which we conjectured to be, as it proved, Moss Paul, the inn where we were to bait. The scene, with this single dwelling, was melancholy and wild, but not dreary, though there was no tree nor shrub; the small streamlet glittered, the hills were populous with sheep; but the gentle bending of the valley, and the correspondent softness in the forms of the hills, were of themselves enough to delight the eye. At Moss Paul we fed our horse; - several travellers were drinking whisky. We neither ate nor drank, for we had, with our usual foresight and frugality in travelling, saved the cheese-cakes and sandwiches which had been given us by our countrywoman at Jedburgh the day before. After Moss Paul, we ascended considerably, then went down other reaches of the valley, much less interesting, stony and barren. The country afterwards not peculiar, I should think, for I scarcely remember it.
Arrived at Langholm at about five o'clock. The town, as we approached, from a hill, looked very pretty, the houses being roofed with blue slates, and standing close to the river Esk, here a large river, that scattered its waters wide over a stony channel. The inn neat and comfortable - exceedingly clean: I could hardly believe we were still in Scotland.
After tea walked out; crossed a bridge, and saw, at a little distance up the valley, Langholm House, a villa of the Duke of Buccleuch: it stands upon a level between the river and a steep hill, which is planted with wood. Walked a considerable way up the river, but could not go close to it on account of the Duke's plantations, which are locked up. When they ended, the vale became less cultivated; the view through the vale towards the hills very pleasing, though bare and cold.
Saturday, September 24th.
Rose very early and travelled about nine miles to Longtown, before breakfast, along the banks of the Esk. About half a mile from Langholm crossed a bridge. At this part of the vale, which is narrow, the steeps are covered with old oaks and every variety of trees. Our road for some time through the wood, then came to a more open country, exceedingly rich and populous; the banks of the river frequently rocky, and hung with wood; many gentlemen's houses. There was the same rich variety while the river continued to flow through Scottish grounds; but not long after we had passed through the last turnpike gate in Scotland and the first in England - but a few yards asunder - the vale widens, and its aspect was cold, and even dreary, though Sir James Graham's plantations are very extensive. His house, a large building, stands in this open part of the vale. Longtown was before us, and ere long we saw the well-remembered guide-post, where the circuit of our six weeks' travels had begun, and now was ended.
We did not look along the white line of the road to Solway Moss without some melancholy emotion, though we had the fair prospect of the Cumberland mountains full in view, with the certainty, barring accidents, of reaching our own dear home the next day. Breakfasted at the Graham's Arms. The weather had been very fine from the time of our arrival at Jedburgh, and this was a very pleasant day. The sun 'shone fair on Carlisle walls' when we first saw them from the top of the opposite hill. Stopped to look at the place on the sand near the bridge where Hatfield had been executed. Put up at the same inn as before, and were recognised by the woman who had waited on us. Everybody spoke of Hatfield as an injured man. After dinner went to a village six miles further, where we slept.
Sunday, September 25th, 1803.
A beautiful autumnal day. Breakfasted at a public-house by the road-side; dined at Threlkeld; arrived at home between eight and nine o'clock, where we found Mary in perfect health, Joanna Hutchinson with her, and little John asleep in the clothes-basket by the fire.
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