Melrose Abbey Scotland about 1892

MELROSE ABBEY SCOTLAND — The charm of this celebrated structure is proverbial and it well deserves its reputation. Its noble columns, windows and arches are of exquisite beauty and delicate carving, and justify this poetical yet accurate description of Sir Walter: “Thou wouldst have thought some fairy’s hand, Twixt poplars straight, an osier wand, In many a freakish knot had twined; Then framed a spell when the work was done, And changed the willow wreaths to stone.” This magnificent Abbey was built by King David I in the twelfth century, and many of the monarchs of Scotland were buried here. Here is also deposited the heart of Robert Bruce. So durable is the red sandstone in which they are chiseled that the most delicately-sculptured capitals and flowers are still perfect, save where the hand of man has injured them. Yes, the “hand of man,” for the mere lapse of time would not have caused such overthrow as this. Alas! it has been almost universally the fact that man himself has shattered the most exquisite and wonderful structures which human genius has been able to create. So was it here. Again and again contending armies plundered it, and finally the Scotch Reformers did even more injury to its remaining statues and carving than had been effected by the ravages of war! The sight of this ruined pile at moonlight can never be forgotten and imparts forevermore a new charm to the well-known lines of Scott: “If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight, When buttress and buttress alternately Seemed framed of ebony and ivory; And home returning, soothly swear, Was never scene so sad and fair.” (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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