Imágenes de páginas

--there are more poets living and which one of the bards remarked, breathing in this little town than in “ Ou ay, jist like them! They'll gie the whole of England, from the south us monuments when we're deid ; I bank of the Tweed on to Cornwall, wush they'd think mair o' us whan stretching toward the setting sun. we're leevin.” In that room, amid Whether this may arise from the that motley company, one could see poverty of the place, on the principle the great literary world unconsciously that the sweetness of the nightin- burlesqued and travestied; shadowed gale's song is connected in some forth there, the emptiness and noise way with the thorn against which of it, the blatant vanity of many of she leans her breast, we cannot its members. The eighty poets preventure an opinion. Doubtless it sented food for meditation. Well, it has its effect. Proceed from what is from this town, where the Muse cause it may, Paisley has been for and the soup-kitchen flourish side-bythe last fifty years and more a huge side, that we purpose taking a walk : aviary of singing-birds. To said for behind Paisley smoke lie Gleniffer aviary the present writer had once Braes, the scene of Tannahill's songs. the honour to be introduced. Some We can think of Burns apart from years ago, when dwelling on the Ayrshire, Wordsworth apart from the outskirts of that town, in no mood Cumberland Lakes, but hardly of to discover the soul of goodness Tannahill apart from the “ Braes of which we are taught to believe re- Gleniffer.” To them he is intimate sides in things evil, he received a as the wild violet that blows on their billet, intimating that the L.C.A. grassy sides. The district, too, is of were to meet on the evening of the but little extent; in a walk of 'three 26th Jan. 18–, in honour of the im- hours you can see every point menmortal Robert Burns, and inviting tioned by the poet. You visit his him to attend. N.B.-Supper and birthplace in the narrow straggling drink, 18. 6d. Being a good deal street, where the sound of the shuttle puzzled as to the mystic characters is heard at every window. You pass L.C.A., he made inquiries, and was up to the green hills which he loved, informed that it represented "The and visited so often, and which look Literary and Convivial Association," all the greener for his pathetic songs; which met every Saturday evening and you return by the Canal, where, for the cultivation of the minds of when the spirit, finely touched the members—a soil, it may be to fine issues," was disordered and added, which had for some years been unstrung, he sought repose. Birth, plentifully irrigated with toddy- life, and death lie close together; the with correspondent effects. To this matter of the moral is closely packed cheap feast of the gods, on the even- -a whole tragedy sleeping with its ing in question, he directed his steps, unshed tears in the compass of an and beheld the assembled poets; epigram. there could scarcely have been less Leaving the rambling suburbs of than eighty of them present. Strange! Paisley, we pass into a rough and Each of these conceited himself of undulating, country, with masses of finer clay than his fellow-mortals; grey crag interspersed with whinny each of these had composed verses; knolls, where, in the evenings, the some few had even published small linnet' sings; with narrow sandy volumes, or pamphlets, by subscrip- roads wandering through it hither tion, and drunk the profits; each of and thither, passing now a clump these had his circle of admirers and of gloomy firs, now a house where flatterers, his small public, and shred some wealthier townsman resides, now of reputation : each of these hated a pleasant cornfield. A pretty bit of and envied his neighbour, and not country enough, with larks singing unfrequently two bards would quar- above it from dawn to sunset, and rel in their cups as to which of them where, in the gloaming, the wanderer was possessor of the greater amount not unfrequently can see the limping of fame. At that time the erection hare. A little farther on we come to of a monument to Thom of Inverury the ruins of Stanley Castle. Most had been talked about, apropos of of our readers know the song

down to one colour ; he breathes " Keen blaws the wind o'er the braes o' Gleniffer,

over its waters, and in the course of The auld castle turrets are covered wi'

a single night they are gleaming snaw;

floors on which he can sport and How changed frae the time when I met take delight; he powders his black wi my lover

forest-boughs with the pearlins of Amang the broom bushes by Stanley green his frosts, and the rude fissures which shaw."

Spring tries in vain to hide with her The castle, in the days of the poet, flowers, and Autumn with his fallen before the wildness of the country leaves, he fills up at once with a snowhad been tamed by the plough, must wreath. But we must be getting have lent a singular charm to the forward, up that winding road, our landscape. It stands at the base of progress marked by grey crag, tuft of the hills which rise ahove it, with heather, bunch of mountain violets, belt of wood, rocky chasm, white the country beneath us stretching streak of waterfall--higher up, into out farther and farther every step heath and silence, silence deep as the we take. Lo! a strip of vivid heaven that overhangs it; where no- emerald steals down the grey of the thing moves save the vast cloud- hill, and there by the wayside is an shadows, where nothing is heard ample well, the “netted sunbeam" save the cry of the moorland bird. dancing on it as we pass. Sitting Tannahill was familiar with the down here, we pull out the Rambles, castle in its every aspect; when the which we have carried all the way in lingering sunfire burned on the lich- our pocket, and find that Mr M‘Donald ened walls, when moonlight steeped has dipped his beard in the water, it in silver and silence, and when it and that, rising up, he has left his rose up before him shadowy and vast benison upon it in songthrongh the marshy mists, He had his loom to attend to during the

"The bonnie wee well on the breist o' the

brae, day, and he knew the place best in

That skinkles sae cauld in the sweet smile its evening aspects. Twilight, with

o' day, its quietude and stillness, seemed to And croons a laigh sang a' to pleasure itsel have peculiar charms for his sensitive As it jinks 'neath the breckan and genty nature; many of his happiest lines are

blue-bell. descriptive of its phenomena. But

The bonnie wee well on the breist o' the the glory has in a great measure

brae departed from Stanley Tower. The Beems an image to me o' a bairnie at play, place has been turned into a reservoir For it springs frae the yird wi' a flecker oʻ by the Paisley Water Company; the

glee, ruin stands at one corner, and is fre

And it kisses the flowers, while its ripples quently surrounded by it. The intrusion of water has spoiled the scene. The bonnie wee well on the breist o' the The tower is hoary and broken ; the brae, lake looks a thing of yesterday; Where the bare steals to drink in the there are traces of quite modern

gloaming sae grey,

Where the wild moorlan' birds dip their masonry about. The lake's shallow

nebs and tak wing, extent, its glitter and brightness, are An' the lark weets its whistle ere mounting impertinences. Only during times of to sing. severe frost, when its surface is iced

Thou bonnie wee well on the breist o' tho over, when the sun is sinking in the purple vapours like a ball of red While I 'stoop to thy bosom my thirst to sullen fire — when the skaters are allay, skimming about like swallows, and I will drink to the loved ones who come the curlers are boisterous, for the

back nae mair, game has been long and severe, and the

And my tears will but hallow thy bosom

sao fair.” decisive stone is roaring up the rink, does the landscape regain some kind Those who know Tannahill's of keeping and homogeneousness. “Gloomy Winter's noo awa,” must There is no season like Winter for admire its curious felicity of touch improving a country; he tones it and colour. Turn round; you are


they pree.


2 K

in the very scene of the songs country between grey with distance, In front is “Gleniffer's dewy dell," and specked here and there with the to the east “ Glenkilloch's sunny white vapours of the trains. How brae," afar the woods of Newton, silent the vast expanse ! Not a sound over which at this moment thé touches our ear upon the height. “ Laverocks fan the snaw - white We will not walk farther to-day. cluds;" below, the “burnie” leaps in Gleniffer Braes are clear in summer sparkle and foam over many a rocky light, beautiful as when the poet shelf, but its course is swallowed in walked across them. Enough their that gorge of gloomy firs, and you beauty and his memory. We are in can only hear the music of its joy. no mood even to look at the unIs it not a fair sight? But which the sightly place by the canal, which fairer, the landscape before your eyes, was sought, when to the poor disoror the landscape sleeping in the light dered brain the world was black, of song? You cannot tell, for they and fellow-men ravening wolves. are one and the same. The touch of That was in the poet's madness and the poet was so loving and so true. despair. Here he walked, happy His genius was like the light of in his genius; for he too was of early spring, clear from speck and the immortals—not a man to wonstain of vapour, but with tremulous- der at and bow the knee to, but ness and uncertainty in it; happy, one to appreciate and love ; for but with grief lying quite close to its the twitter of the wren is music happiness ; smiling, though the tears as well as the burst of the skylark are hardly dry upon the cheeks that from brown furrow or dewy braird ; in a moment may be wet again. the sighing of a reed shaken by the

But why go farther to-day? The wind, as well as the roaring of a Peeseweep Inn, where the Rambler league of pines. Nature accepts baits, is yet afar on the heath. Kil- them all, so should we. barchan, queerest of villages, is bask- Of thé“ Days at the Coastwhat ing its straggling length on the hill- can we say ? Does not the whole side in the sun, peopled by botanical mountain-land repose in our memory, and bird-nesting weavers, who are sunny with light or dark with thungreat politicians and read newspa- der ? We shut our eyes, and see a pers six months after date; its cross thousand pictures; white villages, adorned by the statue of Habbie with trees, and troops of children, Simpson, “with his pipes across the and glad waves dancing on the yelwrong shoulder.” Westward is El- low sand ; moors waste and wild, derslie, where Wallace was born, and where sound is strange; Lomond there too, till within the last three and Awe bedropt with woody isles, years, stood the oak among whose each floating on its shadow ; Loch branches, as tradition tells, the hero, Crinan undulating red in sunset ; when hard pressed by the Southrons, Sound of Mull, with grey castles and found shelter with all his men. Many memories of a thousand years ; the a pilgrim came from afar to behold Minch, with Skye and the hills of the sylvan giant. Before its fall it Cuchullin rising pale in front; on was sorely mutilated by time and the left, Coll and Tiree drowning in tourists. Of its timber were many the glittering haze. But why consnuff-boxes made.. Surviving the tinue? Winter is here with his tempests of centuries, it continued showers of sleet and snow, and the to flourish green atop, although its keen east wind from the sea. Months heart was hollow as a ruined tower. must pass ere autumn makes deserts At last a gale, which heaped our of our cities ; autumn, when the coasts with shipwreck, struck it moors are purple, and when night is down, with many of its meaner bre- an emerald twilight, lingering for an thren. “To this complexion must hour among the stars; when you we come at last." At our feet lies quaff three caulkers of Glenlivet bePaisley... Seven miles off, Glasgow fore breakfast, and thereafter breast peers, with church-spire and factory- the steep of the hill like a deerstalk, through a smoky cloud; the hound, and when, at the crack of your rifle, he leaps into air, and then splendour bursting out at every pore, falls mighty in the wilderness-a is the wonderful Old Town, where Royal Stag of Ten!

Scottish history mainly transacted But autumn is yet far away. Mean- itself, while on the other side the while let us take what the gods pro- modern Princes Street is blazing vide. Edinburgh is complete in its through all its length. During the stony beauty, whether beneath the day the Castle looks down upon the autumn sun, or white and silent with street as if out of another world, winter snow. We have just come stern, with all its peacefulness, its in : surely it never looked so fair be- garniture of trees, its slope of grass. fore. What a poem is that Princes The rock is dingy enough in colour, Street! The puppets of the busy and but after a shower, its lichens laugh many-coloured hour move about on out green in the returning sun, while its pavement — their interest how the rainbow is brightening on the slight, their pursuits how trivial, lowering sky beyond. How

deep the while, there, across the ravine, Time shadow of the Castle at noon over has piled up the Old Town ridge on the gardens at its feet, where the ridge, grey as a rocky coast washed children play! How grand when and worn with the foam of centuries ; giant bulk and towery crown blackpeaked and jagged by picturesqué en against the sunset! Fair, too, gable and roof; windowed from base the New Town, sloping to the sea. ment to cope, the whole surmounted From George Street, which crowns by St Giles's airy crown. The New the ridge, the eye is led down sweepis there looking at the Old. Two ing streets of cold stately architecTimes are brought face to face, yet ture, to the white gleaming villas separated by a thousand years. Won- and woods that fill the lower ground, derful on winter nights, when the and fringe the shore ; to the bright gully is filled with darkness, and azure belt of the Forth, with its out of it rises, against the sombre smoking steamer or its creeping sail ; blue and the frosty stars, that un- beyond, to the Lomonds of Fife, soft, distinguishable mass or bulwark of blue, and flecked with fleeting shagloom, pierced and qnivering with dows in the keen clear light of spring, innumerable lights. There is nothing dark purple in the summer-heat, tarin Europe to match that, I think. nished gold in the autumn haze; Could you but roll a river down the and higher still, just distinguishable valley, it would be sublime — finer on the paler sky, the crest of some still, to place one-self a little be- distant peak, carrying the imaginayond the Burns Monument, and look tion away into the illimitable world. toward the Castle. It is more asto- Residence in Edinburgh is an educanishing than an Eastern dream. A tion in itself. Its beauty refines one city rises up before you, painted by like being in love. It is perennial Fire on Night. High in air a bridge like a play of Shakespeare. "Nothing of lights leaps the chasm ; a few can stale its infinite variety. emerald lamps, like glow-worms, are The lights have gone out on height moving silently about in the railway and valley. A star is burning yet station beneath ; a solitary crimson on the Castle's crest. It too disapone is at rest. That ridged and pears. Sleep falls like a mantle on chimneyed mass of blackness with the world. To bed, to bed, to bed.



MY DEAR JOHN,—You have been the Board of Control, and that a in trouble since last I wrote to you. new President may, if he pushes his “ The greatest plague of life” has powers to the extreme point perbeen afficting you. You have had mitted by the Law, inaugurate a a turn out of your old servants, and new policy. But I need scarcely you have set up a new establishment tell you that practically, this has in their place. I can feel for you, not been the case. President has John. The new servants may be succeeded President, in that pleabetter, or they may be worse, than sant retired villa on the banks of the the old; but these sudden and most Thames, which you call (lucus a non unexpected changes must be very lucendo) Cannon Row, because you distressing to a good easy soul like seldom have a great gun in it; and yet yourself. They unsettle and disturb there has been no perceptible change you. You are accustomed to be of policy. Indeed, you have generally driven, and to be ministered to, in a recognised the propriety of leaving particular manner; and it takes time it to me to shape this policy-recogto get used to the ways of your new nised it, I say, in a manner not to be

Ι servants. Thank goodness, John, I mistaken, by placing in the Presihave been spared this vexation. A dent's chair men with little or no gust of Parliamentary caprice has experience of the work of Indian ever passed harmlessly over me, It government. Why have you done has never been my lot to wake up this, John, or why have you persome fine morning, and to find my- mitted it to be done ? Simply, beself suddenly called upon to attend cause you have recognised the truth, the inauguration of a new policy. I that the government of India is the have gone about my business in my government of the East India Comown way, whether Whig or Tory has pany, and that too much interference sat in Downing Street. And I be- with it is neither necessary nor delieve that if I had not done so, I sirable. Hence, I say, whatever conshould have had, long before this, no stitutional powers may have been business at all. I could not have vested in the Board of Control, a carried on, if I had been continually change of Ministry has, practically, at the mercy of a Parliamentary little affected the policy of Indian majority,

government;, and has, therefore, I wish you to see the advantage of never had the effect of unsettling this, John, and to ponder it dili- the public mind in any part of India. gently, at a time when you are in a Men may have looked for some perfit frame of mind, owing to recent sonal advantage to themselves as the circumstances, to take its importance result of such a change, but even into account. Up to this time, the this has very rarely happened ; for, intelligence of a change of Ministry as I explained to you in a former in England has little affected the letter, John, the middle classes, from public mind in India. The only whom my servants in India are question much asked on such occa- mainly chosen, have little connection sions is, whether the Governor-Gene- with the aristocracy, from whom you ral is likely to be recalled? And this are wont to choose yours. But even question is rather a personal than a less than these personal emotions political question, instigated by pri- are the political feelings excited in vate curiosity, or, perhaps, private India by the announcement_of a interest, rather than by any feeling change of Ministers at home. Everyof its public importance. I don't thing goes on the same as if nothing forget, John, that a change of Minis- had happened. There may be a new try necessarily involves a change at Cabinet, but there is the old Court of

« AnteriorContinuar »