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-there are more poets living and breathing in this little town than in the whole of England, from the south bank of the Tweed on to Cornwall, stretching toward the setting sun. Whether this may arise from the poverty of the place, on the principle that the sweetness of the nightingale's song is connected in some way with the thorn against which she leans her breast, we cannot venture an opinion. Doubtless it has its effect. Proceed from what cause it may, Paisley has been for the last fifty years and more a huge aviary of singing-birds. To said aviary the present writer had once the honour to be introduced. Some years ago, when dwelling on the outskirts of that town, in no mood to discover the soul of goodness which we are taught to believe resides in things evil, he received a billet, intimating that the L.C.A. were to meet on the evening of the 26th Jan. 18-, in honour of the immortal Robert Burns, and inviting him to attend. N.B.-Supper and drink, 1s. 6d. Being a good deal puzzled as to the mystic characters L.C.A., he made inquiries, and was informed that it represented "The Literary and Convivial Association," which met every Saturday evening for the cultivation of the minds of the members-a soil, it may be added, which had for some years been plentifully irrigated with toddywith correspondent effects. To this cheap feast of the gods, on the evening in question, he directed his steps, and beheld the assembled poets; there could scarcely have been less than eighty of them present. Strange! Each of these conceited himself of finer clay than his fellow-mortals; each of these had composed verses; some few had even published small volumes, or pamphlets, by subscription, and drunk the profits; each of these had his circle of admirers and flatterers, his small public, and shred of reputation each of these hated and envied his neighbour, and not unfrequently two bards would quarrel in their cups as to which of them was possessor of the greater amount of fame. At that time the erection of a monument to Thom of Inverury had been talked about, apropos of
which one of the bards remarked, "Ou ay, jist like them! They'll gie us monuments when we're deid; I wush they'd think mair o' us whan we're leevin." In that room, amid that motley company, one could see the great literary world unconsciously burlesqued and travestied; shadowed forth there, the emptiness and noise of it, the blatant vanity of many of its members. The eighty poets presented food for meditation. Well, it is from this town, where the Muse and the soup-kitchen flourish side-byside, that we purpose taking a walk : for behind Paisley smoke lie Gleniffer Braes, the scene of Tannahill's songs. We can think of Burns apart from Ayrshire, Wordsworth apart from the Cumberland Lakes, but hardly of Tannahill apart from the "Braes of Gleniffer." To them he is intimate as the wild violet that blows on their grassy sides. The district, too, is of but little extent; in a walk of three hours you can see every point mentioned by the poet. You visit his birthplace in the narrow straggling street, where the sound of the shuttle. is heard at every window. You pass up to the green hills which he loved, and visited so often, and which look all the greener for his pathetic songs; and you return by the Canal, where, when the spirit, finely touched to fine issues," was disordered and unstrung, he sought repose. Birth, life, and death lie close together; the matter of the moral is closely packed -a whole tragedy sleeping with its unshed tears in the compass of an epigram.
Leaving the rambling suburbs of Paisley, we pass into a rough and undulating country, with masses of grey crag interspersed with whinny knolls, where, in the evenings, the linnet sings; with narrow sandy roads wandering through it hither and thither, passing now a clump of gloomy firs, now a house where some wealthier townsman resides, now a pleasant cornfield. A pretty bit of country enough, with larks singing above it from dawn to sunset, and where, in the gloaming, the wanderer not unfrequently can see the limping hare. A little farther on we come to the ruins of Stanley Castle. Most of our readers know the song
"Keen blaws the wind o'er the braes o' Gleniffer,
The auld castle turrets are covered wi'
How changed frae the time when I met wi' my lover Amang the broom bushes by Stanley green shaw."
The castle, in the days of the poet, before the wildness of the country had been tamed by the plough, must have lent a singular charm to the landscape. It stands at the base of the hills which rise above it, with belt of wood, rocky chasm, white streak of waterfall-higher up, into heath and silence, silence deep as the heaven that overhangs it; where nothing moves save the vast cloudshadows, where nothing is heard save the cry of the moorland bird. Tannahill was familiar with the castle in its every aspect; when the lingering sunfire burned on the lichened walls, when moonlight steeped it in silver and silence, and when it rose up before him shadowy and vast through the marshy mists, He had his loom to attend to during the day, and he knew the place best in its evening aspects. Twilight, with its quietude and stillness, seemed to have peculiar charms for his sensitive nature; many of his happiest lines are descriptive of its phenomena. But the glory has in a great measure departed from Stanley Tower. place has been turned into a reservoir by the Paisley Water Company; the ruin stands at one corner, and is frequently surrounded by it. The intrusion of water has spoiled the scene. The tower is hoary and broken; the lake looks a thing of yesterday; there are traces of quite modern masonry about. The lake's shallow extent, its glitter and brightness, are impertinences. Only during times of severe frost, when its surface is iced over, when the sun is sinking in the purple vapours like a ball of red sullen fire-when the skaters are skimming about like swallows, and the curlers are boisterous, for the game has been long and severe, and the decisive stone is roaring up the rink, does the landscape regain some kind of keeping and homogeneousness. There is no season like Winter for improving a country; he tones it
VOL. LXXXIII.--NO. DX.
down to one colour; he breathes over its waters, and in the course of a single night they are gleaming floors on which he can sport and take delight; he powders his black forest-boughs with the pearlins of his frosts, and the rude fissures which Spring tries in vain to hide with her flowers, and Autumn with his fallen leaves, he fills up at once with a snowwreath. But we must be getting forward, up that winding road, our progress marked by grey crag, tuft of heather, bunch of mountain violets, the country beneath us stretching out farther and farther every step we take. Lo! a strip of vivid emerald steals down the grey of the hill, and there by the wayside is an ample well, the "netted sunbeam" dancing on it as we pass. Sitting down here, we pull out the Rambles, which we have carried all the way in our pocket, and find that Mr M'Donald has dipped his beard in the water, and that, rising up, he has left his benison upon it in song
The bonnie wee well on the breist o' the brae,
That skinkles sae cauld in the sweet smile o' day,
And croons a laigh sang a' to pleasure itsel' As it jinks 'neath the breckan and genty blue-bell.
in the very scene of the song. In front is "Gleniffer's dewy dell," to the east Glenkilloch's sunny brae," afar the woods of Newton, over which at this moment the "Laverocks fan the snaw-white cluds;" below, the "burnie" leaps in sparkle and foam over many a rocky shelf, but its course is swallowed in that gorge of gloomy firs, and you can only hear the music of its joy. Is it not a fair sight? But which the fairer, the landscape before your eyes, or the landscape sleeping in the light of song? You cannot tell, for they are one and the same. The touch of the poet was so loving and so true. His genius was like the light of early spring, clear from speck and stain of vapour, but with tremulousness and uncertainty in it; happy, but with grief lying quite close to its happiness; smiling, though the tears. are hardly dry upon the cheeks that in a moment may be wet again.
But why go farther to-day? The Peeseweep Inn, where the Rambler baits, is yet afar on the heath. Kilbarchan, queerest of villages, is basking its straggling length on the hillside in the sun, peopled by botanical and bird-nesting weavers, who are great politicians and read newspapers six months after date; its cross adorned by the statue of Habbie Simpson, "with his pipes across the wrong shoulder." Westward is Elderslie, where Wallace was born, and there too, till within the last three years, stood the oak among whose branches, as tradition tells, the hero, when hard pressed by the Southrons, found shelter with all his men. Many a pilgrim came from afar to behold the sylvan giant. Before its fall it was sorely mutilated by time and tourists. Of its timber were many snuff-boxes made. Surviving the Surviving the tempests of centuries, it continued to flourish green atop, although its heart was hollow as a ruined tower. At last a gale, which heaped our coasts with shipwreck, struck it down, with many of its meaner brethren. "To this complexion must we come at last." At our feet lies Paisley. Seven miles off, Glasgow peers, with church-spire and factorystalk, through a smoky cloud; the
country between grey with distance, and specked here and there with the white vapours of the trains. How silent the vast expanse! Not a sound touches our ear upon the height. We will not walk farther to-day. Gleniffer Braes are clear in summer light, beautiful as when the poet walked across them. Enough their beauty and his memory. We are in no mood even to look at the unsightly place by the canal, which was sought, when to the poor disordered brain the world was black, and fellow-men ravening wolves. That was in the poet's madness and despair. Here he walked, happy in his genius; for he too was of the immortals-not a man to wonder at and bow the knee to, but one to appreciate and love; for the twitter of the wren is music as well as the burst of the skylark from brown furrow or dewy braird; the sighing of a reed shaken by the wind, as well as the roaring of a league of pines. Nature accepts them all, so should we.
Of the "Days at the Coast" what can we say? Does not the whole mountain-land repose in our memory, sunny with light or dark with thunder? We shut our eyes, and see a thousand pictures; white villages, with trees, and troops of children, and glad waves dancing on the yellow sand; moors waste and wild, where sound is strange; Lomond and Awe bedropt with woody isles, each floating on its shadow; Loch Crinan undulating red in sunset ; Sound of Mull, with grey castles and memories of a thousand years; the Minch, with Skye and the hills of Cuchullin rising pale in front; on the left, Coll and Tiree drowning in the glittering haze. But why continue? Winter is here with his showers of sleet and snow, and the keen east wind from the sea. Months must pass ere autumn makes deserts of our cities; autumn, when the moors are purple, and when night is an emerald twilight, lingering for an hour among the stars; when you quaff three caulkers of Glenlivet before breakfast, and thereafter breast the steep of the hill like a deerhound, and when, at the crack of
your rifle, he leaps into air, and then falls mighty in the wilderness-a Royal Stag of Ten!
But autumn is yet far away. Meanwhile let us take what the gods provide. Edinburgh is complete in its stony beauty, whether beneath the autumn sun, or white and silent with winter snow. We have just come in surely it never looked so fair before. What a poem is that Princes Street! The puppets of the busy and many-coloured hour move about on its pavement their interest how slight, their pursuits how trivialwhile, there, across the ravine, Time has piled up the Old Town ridge on ridge, grey as a rocky coast washed and worn with the foam of centuries; peaked and jagged by picturesque gable and roof; windowed from base ment to cope, the whole surmounted by St Giles's airy crown. The New is there looking at the Old. Two Times are brought face to face, yet separated by a thousand years. Wonderful on winter nights, when the gully is filled with darkness, and out of it rises, against the sombre blue and the frosty stars, that undistinguishable mass or bulwark of gloom, pierced and quivering with innumerable lights. There is nothing in Europe to match that, I think. Could you but roll a river down the valley, it would be sublime finer still, to place one-self a little beyond the Burns Monument, and look toward the Castle. It is more astonishing than an Eastern dream. A city rises up before you, painted by Fire on Night. High in air a bridge of lights leaps the chasm; a few emerald lamps, like glow-worms, are moving silently about in the railway station beneath; a solitary crimson one is at rest. That ridged and chimneyed mass of blackness with
splendour bursting out at every pore, is the wonderful Old Town, where Scottish history mainly transacted itself, while on the other side the modern Princes Street is blazing through all its length. During the day the Castle looks down upon the street as if out of another world, stern, with all its peacefulness, its garniture of trees, its slope of grass. The rock is dingy enough in colour, but after a shower, its lichens laugh out green in the returning sun, while the rainbow is brightening on the lowering sky beyond. How deep the shadow of the Castle at noon over the gardens at its feet, where the children play! How grand when giant bulk and towery crown blacken against the sunset! Fair, too, the New Town, sloping to the sea. From George Street, which crowns the ridge, the eye is led down sweeping streets of cold stately architecture, to the white gleaming villas and woods that fill the lower ground, and fringe the shore; to the bright azure belt of the Forth, with its smoking steamer or its creeping sail; beyond, to the Lomonds of Fife, soft, blue, and flecked with fleeting shadows in the keen clear light of spring, dark purple in the summer-heat, tarnished gold in the autumn haze; and higher still, just distinguishable on the paler sky, the crest of some distant peak, carrying the imagination away into the illimitable world. Residence in Edinburgh is an education in itself. Its beauty refines one like being in love. It is perennial like a play of Shakespeare. Nothing can stale its infinite variety.
The lights have gone out on height and valley. A star is burning yet on the Castle's crest. It too disappears. Sleep falls like a mantle on the world. To bed, to bed, to bed.
MR JOHN COMPANY TO MR JOHN BULL ON THE RIVAL INDIA BILLS.
MY DEAR JOHN,-You have been in trouble since last I wrote to you. "The greatest plague of life" has been afflicting you. You have had a turn out of your old servants, and you have set up a new establishment in their place. I can feel for you, John. The new servants may be better, or they may be worse, than the old; but these sudden and most unexpected changes must be very distressing to a good easy soul like yourself. They unsettle and disturb you. You are accustomed to be driven, and to be ministered to, in a particular manner; and it takes time to get used to the ways of your new servants, Thank goodness, John, I have been spared this vexation. A gust of Parliamentary caprice has ever passed harmlessly over me, It has never been my lot to wake up some fine morning, and to find myself suddenly called upon to attend the inauguration of a new policy. I have gone about my business in my own way, whether Whig or Tory has sat in Downing Street. And I be lieve that if I had not done so, I should have had, long before this, no business at all. I could not have carried on, if I had been continually at the mercy of a Parliamentary majority,
I wish you to see the advantage of this, John, and to ponder it diligently, at a time when you are in a fit frame of mind, owing to recent circumstances, to take its importance into account. Up to this time, the intelligence of a change of Ministry in England has little affected the public mind in India. The only question much asked on such occasions is, whether the Governor-General is likely to be recalled? And this question is rather a personal than a political question, instigated by private curiosity, or, perhaps, private interest, rather than by any feeling of its public importance. I don't forget, John, that a change of Ministry necessarily involves a change at
LEADENHALL STREET, March 1858.
the Board of Control, and that a new President may, if he pushes his powers to the extreme point permitted by the Law, inaugurate a new policy. But I need scarcely tell you that practically this has not been the case. President has succeeded President, in that pleasant retired villa on the banks of the Thames, which you call (lucus a non lucendo) Cannon Row, because you seldom have a great gun in it; and yet there has been no perceptible change of policy. Indeed, you have generally recognised the propriety of leaving it to me to shape this policy-recognised it, I say, in a manner not to be mistaken, by placing in the President's chair men with little or no experience of the work of Indian government. Why have you done this, John, or why have you permitted it to be done? Simply, because you have recognised the truth, that the government of India is the government of the East India Company, and that too much interference with it is neither necessary nor desirable. Hence, I say, whatever constitutional powers may have been vested in the Board of Control, a change of Ministry has, practically, little affected the policy of Indian government; and has, therefore, never had the effect of unsettling the public mind in any part of India. Men may have looked for some personal advantage to themselves as the result of such a change, but even this has very rarely happened; for, as I explained to you in a former letter, John, the middle classes, from whom my servants in India are mainly chosen, have little connection with the aristocracy, from whom you are wont to choose yours. But even less than these personal emotions are the political feelings excited in India by the announcement of a change of Ministers at home. Everything goes on the same as if nothing had happened. There may be a new Cabinet, but there is the old Court of