was entirely consumed by fire : and in allusion to this conflagration, the learned Camden says, “ the town is built out of the ruins of another of the same name.”

The earliest account of the town is given by Ochterlony who describes it a very handsome well-built toune, of considerable trade in all places abroad; good houses all of stone, excellent large streets, a good tolbuith and church, good shipping of their own, a good shore at the toune, a myle within the river of South Esk; but the entrie is very dangerous for strangers that know it not, by reason of a great bank of sand that lyeth before the mouth of the entrie, called Long Ennell, but that defect is supplied by getting pilots from the neighbouring fisher-towns of Ulishavene or Ferredene, who know it so well that they cannot mistake.” He says further, that “they are mighty fyne burgesses, and delicate and painfull merchants. There have been men of great substance in that toune of a long time, and yet are, who have and are purchasing good estates in the country. The generalitie of the burgesses and merchants do very far exceed those in any other toune in the shyre.”

Daniel de Foe in his tour through Scotland in the beginning of the eighteenth century, speaks of Montrose as “a pretty seaport town, and one street very good ; the houses well built, and the town well pav'd. The inhabitants here, as at Dundee, are very genteel, and have more the air of gentlemen than merchants." Captain Franck, in 1657-8, in “Northern Memoirs," says in grandiloquent terms that

s. Montrose is called “a beauty that lies concealed, as it were,

“ in the bosom of Scotland ; most delicately dressed up and adorned with excellent buildings, whose foundations are laid with polished stone, and her ports all washed with silver streams, that trickle down from the famous Ask!”

Dr Johnson visited Montrose when on his journey to the Western Islands. He describes the Episcopal Chapel of the day-St. Peter's, since destroyed by fire-as “clean to a degree unknown in any other part of Scotland, with com

modious galleries, and what was less expected with an organ. Burns who visited his cousin, Mr Burness, there in 1787, in less poetical language calls it “a finely situated handsome town," which, in every respect it certainly is, with its broad and splendid High Street, almost rivalling the Trongate of Glasgow, or the High Street of Edinburgh. Sir Thomas the Rymer, however, dooms it to inglorious destruction, prophesying, with his usual truthfulness, that

Bonny Monross will be a moss,

When Brechin's a borough town;
An' Forfar will be Forfar still,

When Dundee's a' dung down !” When Sir William Wallace resigned the guardianship of Scotland in 1299, and retired to France, the northern lairds of Scotland sent Squire Guthrie to request his return in order to assist in opposing the English. In obedience to this request Wallace landed at Montrose in 1303, which historical event is thus quaintly alluded to by Blind Harry :

Na ma with him he brocht off that cuntre,

Bot his awn men, and Schyr Thomas the Knicht,
In Flawndrys land that past with all thar mycht.
Guthries barg was at the Slus left styll ;
To se thai went with ane full egyr will.
Bath Forth and Tay thai left and passyt by
On the north cost, (gud) Guthre was thar gy,
In Munross hawyn that brocht hym to the land ;
Till trew Scottis it was a blyth tithand.
SchyrļIhon Ramsay, that worthi was and wycht,
Frae Ochtyrhouss the way he chesyt rycht,
To meite Wallace with men off armes strang;
Off his duellyng thai had thocht wondyr lang.
The trew Ruwan come als with outyn baid ;
In Barnan wod he had his lugying maid.
Barklay be that to Wallace semblyt fast ;

With thre hundreth to Ochtyrhouss he past.” The old steeple, which was only taken down in 1832, was, besides being of unknown antiquity, an object of some historical note. It was from that “Stiple head," says Melvill,

” that “the fyre of joy” blazed in June 1566, when the news

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of the birth of King James was announced. Previously in the year 1493, it had been the scene of Sir Thomas Froster's murder by young Erskine of Dun. Froster was a priest of Montrose, to whose father Erskine granted a bond of assythment or blood money for the offence.

Between the town and the sea a large level tract of greensward stretches away for many miles, which in England would be called the “Downs,” but to which the name of “Links” is given in Scotland ; while beyond the bent-covered sandhills the German Ocean lashes the rugged rocks, or breaks in gentle wavelets on the tawny sands. When standing on these sandy knolls, the attention of the stranger is always directed to the “Ennet,” a large bank of quicksands, where many a melancholy and heartrending shipwreck has happened within hail of the shore. Between the Ennet and the rocks, to the south, flows the South Esk, a narrow, deep, and rapid stream, forming the natural inlet to the harbour, which widening considerably opposite the town, again contracts beneath a handsome Suspension Bridge, till its waters fill an immense basin, to the west, which, when the tide is full, presents the appearance of a capacious lake, with numerous boats and small craft skimming its clear and silvery surface.

There is one spot to me, however, more interesting than any other, and that is the lesser Links, on which the Academy stands; for on that bright greensward, in boyish, healthful sport, I spent many a happy day of my youth, and within the precincts of that classical seminary I commenced my educational career.

Montrose has earned the proud distinction of having been the cradle of the Greek language in Scotland. Even in the days of The Bruce, the public schools had gained such eminence that he granted a sum out of the public revenue for their support.

The first teacher of Greek at Montrose Academy was a Frenchman of the name of Marsilliers, who, in 1534, John Erskine of Dun brought from the continent for the purpose of teaching that classic language. Greek, previously, was almost unknown in the country. Andrew Melville, the father of Presbytery in Scotland, was educated in Montrose ; and when in his fourteenth year, he went to the University of St. Andrews, he surprised his teachers by his knowledge of Greek, with which they were wholly unacquainted. Marsilliers was succeeded by his pupil, the celebrated George Wishart, who, for his zeal in openly teaching and circulating the Greek New Testament, was summoned to appear before Bishop Hepburn of Brechin on a charge of heresy, which he eluded by escaping to England where he remained for some years. The grammar school had the honour of being taught by David Lindsay, son to the laird of Edzell Lindsay, who was afterwards bishop, first of Brechin, and then of Edinburgh, and it was at his head that Jeanie Geddes flung the stool when he began to read the Book of Common Prayer in the High Church of Edinburgh, in July 1637.

At the time of which I write—now, alas ! some five-andthirty years ago—there were comparatively few educational establishments of high repute in Scotland, and still fewer in England. Among the few which then existed the Academy of Montrose still held the first rank, and many families of distinction were attracted by its fame to send their sons and daughters from other lands to be educated by its learned and accomplished professors. The masters, besides being the public instructors of these strangers, were also their private tutors and guardians, inasmuch as they all kept large boarding establishments, where their wards were lodged and fed and where all the comforts and instructions of home were reproduced in all their affectionate kindness and love. I had the good fortune to form one of the happy household of Dr Calvert, the classical teacher, and, as such, contracted friendships among my fellow-boarders which I have ever retained in after-life. The younger members of the afterwards celebrated Burness family, and Sir George Balfour, M.P. for Kincardineshire, were class-fellows of the writer at the public classes in the Academy.


“How shall we spend to-morrow's holiday, comrades ? We have had so many rural excursions lately-first to the North Water Bridge, then to the Hill of Craig and Rossie Castle, anon to the rocks of St Cyrus and the Castle of Kinnairdthat, to tell you the truth, I am heartily sick of the thing altogether. What say ye, my boys, to a boating excursion to-morrow? I'll teach you how to ply the oar and furl the sail, and guide you safely over the waves. Hurrah ! my lads, hurrah !”

This little speech was addressed to his fellow-boarders by Billy Dickson, on the evening preceding a long-looked-for holiday, just as we had finished our last game in the playground, and were about retiring for the night. Billy, with

, his brother James, had come from the far east, and although his hair was black and curly as a negro's, and his complexion even swarthier than a “dusky brown," he had a sharp, intelligent eye, expressive features, well-formed, handsome limbs, a sympathetic, merry laugh, and a loving heart withal. A favourite with every one, and particularly so with his comrades at school, was dear, beloved Billy Dickson. What he recommended we as readily adopted; where he led, we obediently followed; when he commanded, we as instantly obeyed. In very truth, by his winning manners and consummate generalship he had gradually acquired the complete mastery over us; but he exercised this vested power with such skill, and grace, and good brotherhood, that we felt the yoke neither irksome nor severe.

At the conclusion of his address, a long and loud hurrah responded to his appeal, and after having determined on the hour of departure, we bade each other good-night, and retired, ostensibly to rest, but in reality to dream of our voyage on the



“Good morning, my hearties," said Billy, as he met us at an early hour next morning at the breakfast table. “No chicken-hearted, feather-bed sailors amongst my crew, I hope.” Then, approaching, he chucked me good-naturedly under the

« ElőzőTovább »