It is one of those ample estates with a large, hospitable, luxurious house upon it, such as abound through the whole island. Its present possessor is Marmaduke Constable Maxwell, and the estate has belonged for four centuries and more to his ancestors, the great Maxwell family, which rose on the fall of the Douglases, and for a long time was the most powerful family in all the South of Scotland. . .—. For a long period they were the proud Earls of Nithsdale, a title which was forfeited, . . . . for adherence to the Stuarts, in 1716. For the last century they have been simply the retired, rich old Catholic family of the Maxwells. When we arrived the brothers1 were at service in their own chapel, and Mrs. Maxwell, who is a Protestant, received us. She is little altered by her change of name and position, and must always be gentle and lady-like. The brothers came soon afterwards,—honest, frank, intelligent men, just in the prime of life,—and with them was Mr. Weld, another rich Catholic, somewhat older, and brother of the late Cardinal Weld. . . . . Nobody else was in the house but Mr. Reed, a Catholic priest. . . . . After a little refreshment we walked out on the lawn and round the park and some of the grounds. The old trees, full of rooks, were witness to the antiquity of the family, while the nice, new stone cottages, which are necessarily rented at a rate that barely pays for their repairs, bore no less witness to the kindliness of its present head. The dinner was in the French style, and very luxurious; after which the brothers, who hold Sunday to be a jour de fete, and are very fond of music, played on a fine organ, and sang glees and airs. . . . May 7.—The first thing this morning, after a luxurious Scotch breakfast, they showed us some of the curiosities of their ancient house. The most interesting, if not the most remarkable, was the cloak with which the last Countess of Nithsdale, in 1715, disguised her husband, and freed him from the Tower. . . . . I inquired about this extraordinary woman, and find they have a good many memorials
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.