intractable in other hands, though in his the most submissive of
faithful allies. " The moment he was bridled and saddled, it
was the custom to open the stable door as a signal that his
master expected him, when he immediately trotted to the side
of the leaping-on-stone, of which Scott from his lameness found
SIR WALTER SCOTT. 131
it convenient to make use, and stood there, silent and motion-
less as a rock, until he was fairly in his seat, after which he
displayed his joy by neighing triumphantly through a brilliant
succession of curvettings. ' Brown Adam ' never suffered
himself to be backed but by his master. He broke, I
believe, one groom's arm and another's leg in the rash
attempt to tamper with his dignity."
These exercises were varied at certain seasons by an exciting
pastime, which in these degenerate days has become illegal
(not merely extra legal!} -burning the water. The Tweed
Commissioners an august body for which the Souters of
Selkirk are supposed to entertain anything but kindly feelings
had not then emerged into notoriety, and consequently no
restrictions seem to have been imposed on the spearing of
salmon. As every Borderer is aware, this captivating
amusement is carried on under cloud of night. Armed
with leister and torch, a raid is made on some famous
pool where salmon are known to be plentiful. The search
is highly exciting owing to the difficulty of capturing the
prey, and also on account of the misadventures which
so frequently befall the too eager sportsman. " This amuse-
ment of burning the water," writes Mr Skene on one
occasion when on a visit to Sir Walter " was not without some
hazard, for the large salmon generally lie in the pools, the
depths of which it is not easy to estimate with precision by
torch light; so that not unfrequently, when the sportsman
makes a determined thrust at a fish apparently within reach, his
132 SIR WALTER SCOTT.
eye has greatly deceived him, and instead of the point of the
weapon encountering the prey, he finds himself launched with
corresponding vehemence heels over head into the pool, both
spear and salmon gone, the torch thrown out by the concussion
of the boat, and quenched in the stream, while the boat itself
has receded to some distance. I remember the first time I
accompanied our friend he went right over the gunwale in this
manner, and had I not accidentally been by his side, and made
a successful grasp at the skirt of his jacket as he plunged
overboard, he must at least have had an awkward dive for it."
This interesting amusement, we may say, is still frequently
indulged in despite the statutory prohibition, but now the
adventurous sportsman must needs keep an eye on the bailiffs
as well as the salmon !
Like every great poet, Scott was eminently sociable in his
disposition. He was at home in almost every cottage and farm-
house between Tweed and Teviot, between the Eildons and
Ettrick Pen. He lived on terms of friendship with men
belonging to all classes in the community. He was warmly
attached to the noble house of Buccleuch, and enjoyed in
a rare degree the confidence of the various members of the
family. He had also an interesting neighbour in Laird Nippy,
of the Peel, who, as his sobriquet implies, was of a stingy
disposition, but withal had many excellent qualities. Despite
his worldliness he had evidently a kindly feeling towards his
distinguished neighbour, for we find that years after Scott had
settled in Abbotsford, old Nippy kept the seat on the " Sheriff's
SIR WALTER SCOTT. 133
Knowe " in good repair as a mark of his respect for Sir Walter.
This, Scott once declared, was the greatest compliment he
ever received. At this time also his acquaintance with James
Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, ripened into a warm attachment.
He must have felt a deep interest in the simple, untutored,
egotistic, yet, withal, kindly and sociable shepherd who sang
with a note as clear, musical, and spontaneous as his
own " Deathless Skylark." There were times, too, when
Hogg must have severely put to the test the large-hearted-
ness of his friend. For example, when he wrote Sir Walter
asking him to send a contribution to his Poetic Mirror,
and was met for some reason or other with a blank refusal,
he gave way to an outburst of passion, and wrote Scott
saying " , Sir, I hold your friendship and literary
talents in contempt !" Such incidents, however, were not with-
out a redeeming element of humour, and, at most, only caused
a slight ripple on the surface of a friendship which for many
years was a source of great interest to the one, and of much
advantage, both intellectually and socially, to the other. An
old man, who in early life was a stable boy in Sir Walter's
employment, used to say, when speaking of Hogg's visits, that
the pony he rode at that time presented an extraordinary
appearance. It had a long shaggy mane and tail which were
evidently utter strangers to brush and comb, and moreover it
frequently bore abundant traces of having been placed in too
close proximity to the henery !
Among other visitors at Ashiestiel was Mungo Park, the
134 SIR WALTER SCOTT.
African traveller, whose home at Fowldshiels was only a few
miles distant. Lockhart has given a deeply interesting account
of Park's last visit to Scott. Towards the end of the autumn,
when about to quit his country for the last time, Park paid Scott
a farewell visit and slept at Ashiestiel. Next morning his host
accompanied him homewards over the wild chain of hills
between the Tweed and the Yarrow. Park talked much of his
new scheme, and mentioned his determination to tell his family
that he had business for a day or two in Edinburgh, and send
them his blessing from thence, without returning to take leave.
He had married not long before a beautiful and amiable
woman, and when they reached the Williamhope Ridge, the
autumnal mist floating slowly down the valley of the Yarrow,
presented to Scott's imagination a striking emblem of the
troubled and uncertain prospect which his undertaking had
afforded. He remained, however, unshaken, and at length
they reached the spot at which they had agreed to separate.
A small ditch divided the moor from the road, and in going
over it Park's horse stumbled and nearly fell. " I am afraid,
Mungo," said the Sheriff, " that is a bad omen," to which
he answered, " Fnets follow those who look to them." In
a few moments these two friends had parted for the last time
It would have been well had Scott contented himself in
Ashiestiel well at least for his own peace of mind for here
he spent eight bright and peaceful years yet the troubles which
the building of Abbotsford brought upon him led him to
HUSHED IS THE HARP.
exercise his literary talents in a way that would have been
impossible in other and happier circumstances. The associa-
tions of Ashiestiel are all joyful and peaceful, and the place
will be visited by many for his sake as long as Waverley and
Marmion are remembered.
Scott was born at Edinburgh on the i5th August, 1771, and
died at Abbotsford on the 2ist September, 1832.
HUSHED IS THE HARP.
[" THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL." Canto F/.]
Hush'd is the harp the Minstrel gone,
And did he wander forth alone ?
Alone, in indigence and age,
To linger out his pilgrimage ?
No : close beneath proud Newark's tower,
Arose the Minstrel's lowly bower;
136 SIR WALTER SCOTT.
A simple hut ; but there was seen
The little garden, hedged with green,
The cheerful hearth, and lattice clean.
There shelter'd wanderers, by the blaze,
Oft heard the tale of other days ;
For much he loved to ope his door,
And give the aid he begg'd before.
So pass'd the winter's day ; but still,
When summer smiled on sweet Bowhill,
And July's eve, with balmy breath,
Waved the blue-bells on Newark heath ;
When throstles sung in Hare-head shaw,
And corn was green on Carterhaugh,
And flourished, broad, Blackandro's oak,
The aged Harper's soul awoke 1
Then would he sing achievements high,
And circumstance of chivalry,
Till the rapt traveller would stay,
Forgetful of the closing day ;
And noble youths, the strain to hear,
Forsook the hunting of the deer ;
And Yarrow, as he rolled along,
Bore burden to the Minstrel's song.
BURNING OF ST. MARY'S KIRK.
[From " THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL." Canto //.]
For the Baron went on pilgrimage,
And took with him this elvish Page,
YARROW IN THE OLDEN TIME. 137
To Mary's chapel of the Lowes :
For there, beside our Ladye's lake,
An offering he had sworn to make,
And he would pay his vows.
But the Ladye of Branksome gather'd a band
Of the best that would ride at her command ;
The trysting-place was Newark Lee.
Wat of Harden came thither amain,
And thither came John of Thirlestane,
And thither came William of Deloraine ;
They were three hundred spears and three.
Through Douglas-burn, up Yarrow stream,
Their horses prance, their lances gleam.
They came to St. Mary's lake ere day ;
But the chapel was void, and the Baron away.
They burned the chapel for very rage,
And cursed Lord Cranstoun's Goblin-Page.
YARROW IN THE OLDEN TIME.
[" MARMION" Introduction to Canto //.]
The scenes are desert now, and bare,
Where flourish'd once a forest fair,
When these waste glens with copse were lined,
And peopled with the hart and hind.
Yon Thorn perchance whose prickly spears
Have fenced him for three hundred years,
While fell around his green compeers
138 SIX WALTER SCOTT.
Yon lonely Thorn, would he could tell
The changes of his parent dell,
Since he, so grey and stubborn now,
Waved in each breeze a sapling bough ;
Would he could tell how deep the shade,
A thousand mingled branches made ;
How broad the shadows of the oak,
How clung the rowan to the rock,
And through the foliage show'd his head,
With narrow leaves, and berries red ;
What pines on every mountain sprung,
O'er every dell what birches hung,
In every breeze what aspens shook,
What alders shaded every brook :
" Here, in my shade," methinks he'd say.
" The mighty stag at noon-tide lay :
The wolf I've seen, a fiercer game,
(The neighbouring dingle bears his name,)
With lurching step around me prowl,
And stop, against the moon to howl ;
The mountain-boar, on battle set,
His tusks upon my stem would whet ;
While doe, and roe, and red-deer good,
Have bounded by, through gay green-wood.
Then oft, from Newark's riven tower,
Sallied a Scottish monarch's power :
A thousand vassals muster'd round,
With horse, and hawk, and horn, and hound ;
YARROW IN THE OLDEN TIME. 139
And I might see the youth intent,
Guard every pass with crossbow bent ;
And through the brake the rangers stalk,
And falc'ners hold the ready hawk ;
And foresters in green-wood trim,
Lead in the leash the gazehounds grim,
Attentive, as the bratchet's bay,
From the dark covert drove the prey,
To slip them as he broke away.
The startled quarry bounds amain,
As fast the gallant greyhounds strain ;
Whistles the arrow from the bow,
Answers the harquebuss below ;
While all the rocking hills reply,
To hoof clang, hound, and hunter's cry,
And bugles ringing lightsomely."
Of such proud huntings, many tales
Yet linger in our lonely dales,
Up pathless Ettricke, and on Yarrow,
Where erst the outlaw drew his arrow.
But not more blithe that silvan court,
Than we have been at humbler sport ;
Though small our pomp, and mean our game,
Our mirth, dear Marriott, was the same,
Remembers't thou my greyhounds true ?
O'er holt, or hill, there never flew,
From slip, or leash, there never sprang,
More fleet of foot, or sure of fang.
140 SIR WALTER SCOTT.
Nor dull, between each merry chase,
Pass'd by the intermitted space ;
For we had fair resource in store,
In Classic, and in Gothic lore:
We mark'd each memorable scene,
And held poetic talk between ;
Nor hill, nor brook, we paced along,
But had its legend, or its song.
All silent now for now are still
Thy bowers, untenanted Bowhill !
No longer, from thy mountains dun,
The yeoman hears the well-known gun,
And, while his honest heart glows warm,
At thought of his paternal farm,
Round to his mates a brimmer fills,
And drinks " The Chieftain of the Hills !"
No fairy forms, in Yarrow's bowers,
Trip o'er the walks, or tend the flowers,
Fair as the elves whom Janet saw,
By moonlight, dance on Carterhaugh ;
No youthful Baron's left to grace
The Forest-Sheriff's lonely chase,
And ape, in manly step and tone,
The majesty of Oberon :
And she is gone, whose lovely face
Is but her least and lowest grace ;
Though if to Sylphid Queen 'twere given,
To show our earth the charms of heaven,
She could not glide along the air,
With form more light, or face more fair.
YARROW IN THE OLDEN TIME. 141
No more the widow's deafen'd ear
Grows quick, that lady's step to hear :
At noontide she expects her not,
Nor busies her to trim the cot ;
Pensive she turns her humming wheel,
Or pensive cooks her orphan's meal ;
Yet blesses, ere she deals their bread,
The gentle hand by which they're fed.
From Yair, which hills so closely bind,
Scarce can the Tweed his passage find,
Though much he fret, and chafe, and toil,
Till all his eddying currents boil,
Her long-descended lord is gone,
And left us by the stream alone.
And much I miss those sportive boys,
Companions of my mountain joys,
Just at the age 'twixt boy and youth,
When thought is speech, and speech is truth.
Close to my side, with what delight
They press 'd to hear of Wallace wight,
When, pointing to his airy mound,
I call'd his ramparts holy ground!
Kindled their brows to hear me speak ;
And I have smiled, to feel my cheek,
Despite the difference of our years,
Return again the glow of theirs.
Ah, happy boys I such feelings pure,
They will not, cannot, long endure ;
142 SIX WALTER SCOTT.
Condemn'd to stem the world's rude tide,
You may not linger by the side ;
For Fate shall thrust you from the shore,
And Passion ply the sail and oar.
Yet cherish the remembrance still,
Of the lone mountain, and the rill ;
For trust, dear boys, the time will come,
When fiercer transport shall be dumb,
And you will think right frequently,
But, well I hope, without a sigh,
On the free hours that we have spent
Together, on the brown hills bent.
When, musing on companions gone,
We doubly feel ourselves alone,
Something, my friend, we yet may gain,
There is a pleasure in this pain :
It soothes the love of lonely rest,
Deep in each gentler heart impress'd.
Tis silent amid worldly toils,
And stifled soon by mental broils ;
But, in a bosom thus prepared,
Its still small voice is often heard,
Whispering a mingled sentiment,
'Twixt resignation and content.
Oft in my mind such thoughts awake,
By lone Saint Mary's silent lake ;
Thou know'st it well, nor fen, nor sedge,
Pollute the pure lake's crystal edge ;
YARROW IN THE OLDEN TIME. 143
Abrupt and sheer, the mountains sink
At once upon the level brink ;
And just a trace of silver sand
Marks where the water meets the land.
Far in the mirror, bright and blue,
Each hill's huge outline you may view ;
Shaggy with heath, but lonely bare,
Nor tree, nor bush, nor brake, is there,
Save where, of land, yon slender line
Bears thwart the lake the scatter'd pine.
Yet even this nakedness has power,
And aids the feeling of the hour :
Nor thicket, dell, nor copse you spy,
Where living thing conceal'd might lie ;
Nor point, retiring, hides a dell,
Where swain, or woodman lone, might dwell ;
There's nothing left to fancy's guess,
You see that all is loneliness :
And silence aids though the steep hills
Send to the lake a thousands rills ;
In summer tide, so soft they weep,
The sound but lulls the ear asleep ;
Your horse's hoof-tread sounds too rude,
So stilly is the solitude.
Nought living meets the eye or ear,
But well I ween the dead are near ;
For though, in feudal strife, a foe
Hath laid Our Lady's chapel low,
144 SIR WALTER SCOTT.
Yet still, beneath the hallow'd soil,
The peasant rests him from his toil,
And, dying, bids his bones be laid,
Where erst his simple fathers pray'd.
If age had tamed the passions' strife,
And fate had cut my ties to life,
Here, have I thought, 'twere sweet to dwell,
And rear again the chaplain's cell,
Like that same peaceful hermitage,
Where Milton long'd to spend his age.
'Twere sweet to mark the setting day,
On Bourhope's lonely top decay ;
And, as it faint and feeble died,
On the broad lake, and mountain's side,
To say, " Thus pleasures fade away ;
Youth, talents, beauty, thus decay,
And leave us dark, forlorn, and grey ;"
Then gaze on Dryhope's ruin'd tower,
And think on Yarrow's faded Flower :
And when that mountain-sound I heard,
Which bids us be for storm prepared,
The distant rustling of his wings,
As up his force the Tempest brings,
'Twere sweet, ere yet his terrors rave,
To sit upon the Wizard's grave ;
That Wizard-Priest's, whose bones are thrust
From company of holy dust ;
On which no sunbeam ever shines
(So superstition's creed divines)
YARROW IN THE OLDEN TIME. 145
Thence view the lake, with sullen roar,
Heave her broad billows to the shore ;
And mark the wild swans mount the gale,
Spread wide through mist their snowy sail,
And ever stoop again, to lave
Their bosoms on the surging wave :
Then, when, against the driving hail,
No longer might my plaid avail,
Back to my lonely home retire,
And light my lamp, and trim my fire ;
There ponder o'er some mystic lay,
Till the wild tale had all its sway,
And, in the bittern's distant shriek,
I heard unearthly voices speak,
And thought the Wizard Priest was come,
To claim again his ancient home !
And bade my busy fancy range,
To frame him fitting shape and strange,
Till from the task my brow I clear'd,
And smiled to think that I had fear'd.
But chief, 'twere sweet to think such life,
(Though but escape from fortune's strife,)
Something most matchless good, and wise,
A great and grateful sacrifice ;
And deem each hour, to musing given,
A step upon the road to heaven.
Yet him, whose heart is ill at ease,
Such peaceful solitudes displease :
146 SIR WALTER SCOTT.
He loves to drown his bosom's jar
Amid the elemental war :
And my black Palmer's choice had been
Some ruder and more savage scene,
Like that which frowns round dark Loch-skene.
There eagles scream from isle to shore ;
Down all the rocks the torrents roar ;
O'er the black waves incessant driven,
Dark mists infect the summer heaven ;
Through the rude barriers of the lake,
Away its hurrying waters break,
Faster and whiter dash and curl,
Till down yon dark abyss they hurl.
Rises the fog-smoke white as snow,
Thunders the viewless stream below,
Diving, as if condemned to lave
Some demon's subterranean cave,
Who, prisoned by enchanter's spell,
Shakes the dark rock with groan and yell.
And well that Palmer's form and mien
Had suited with the stormy scene,
Just on the edge, straining his ken
To view the bottom of the den,
Where, deep, deep down, and far within,
Toils with the rocks the roaring linn ;
Then, issuing forth one foamy wave,
And wheeling round the Giant's Grave,
White as the snowy charger's tail,
Drives down the pass of Moffatdale.
WILLIAM LAIDLAW. 147
WILLIAM LAIDLAW was born at Blackhouse, on the
Douglas Burn, near St. Mary's Loch, November 19,
1780. He was sprung of a good stock. His father, James
Laidlaw, was a man of quite exceptional intelligence and
ability. William was the eldest of three sons, and seems to
have received an excellent education. He was the intimate and
life-long friend of James Hogg, who was for ten years a
shepherd in Blackhouse. Laidlaw was one of the first to
recognise the " Shepherd's " poetical genius, and he gave him
much encouragement in the prosecution of his literary labours.
Sir Walter Scott met him in 1801, when he was going from
house to house all over the Border country collecting materials
for his Minstrelsy, and from the first he seems to have enter-
tained a strong liking for him, He began life by renting a
farm on the Traquair estate, afterwards going to one at Liberton
near Edinburgh ; but, like Hogg, he was not successful as a
farmer. In 1817 he became steward to Sir Walter at Abbots-
ford, and here he remained for several years, securing the
warm esteem of his employer, whom he in turn almost
worshipped. Part of his time was spent in literary work, the
fruits of which were mainly contributed to the Edinburgh
148 WILLIAM LAI DL AW.
Annual Register. The terrible crisis which occurred in Sir
Walter's financial affairs necessitated his leaving Abbotsford
for a short period. He returned, however, in 1830, and
continued in his former position till Scott's death in 1832.
After this he went to Ross-shire as factor to Sir Charles
Lockart Ross, of Balnagowan, but his health failing he retired
and went to reside with his brother near Dingwall, where he
died May 18, 1845, aged 65.
Besides his well known and highly popular song, " Lucy's
Flittin'," which was first published in Hogg's Forest Minstrel
in 1810, Laidlaw was the author of the sweet and simple songs,
"Her Bonnie Black E'e" and "Alake for the Lassie." He
also wrote on " Scottish Superstitions " to the Edinburgh
Magazine; contributed several articles to the Encyclopedia; and
was the author of a geological description of his native county.
Had he given himself to literature he might have become
eminent, as he had intellectual powers of a high and rare order ;
but he does not seem to have been moved by any powerful
literary ambition. " Lucy's Flittin' " will certainly prove the
most lasting memorial of his literary genius. The last
verse of the song is from the pen of the " Ettrick Shepherd."
It is generally understood that he is the "Jamie" "sae
dowie and cheerless," and that the incident so pathetically
described is based on fact.
Some difficulty has been experienced in fixing the locality of
the scene. The residents on the banks of the Quair are of
opinion that "The Glen," now the magnificent mansion of
LUCY'S FLITTIN'. 149
Sir Charles Tennant, Bart., is the place referred to. On
the other hand the writer has interviewed a number of
Laidlaw's relatives (some of them knew the poet intimately)
and also several old people in the district, and the
only opinion he has ever elicited is that " the glen " alluded
to in the song is the one through which the Douglas
Burn meanders to the Yarrow. This view finds confirma-
tion in the poem itself. In the first edition of Hogg's Forest
Minstrel the line runs thus :
" And Lucy had served f the glen a' the simmer."
The italics are ours, but the fact that " glen " is not
printed with a capital " G " is strong evidence that Laidlaw
was not thinking of the house of that name. The expression
applies admirably to the situation of Blackhouse, and until
much stronger evidence is forthcoming than has yet been
produced, every reader of Laidlaw's poem will be more
than justified in fixing the scene of the incident in the
glen of the Douglas Burn.
'Twas when the wan leaf frae the birk tree was fa'in',
And Martinmas dowie had wound up the year,
That Lucy row'd up her wee kist, wi' her a' in,
And left her auld master and neebours sae dear.
ISO WILLIAM LAIDLAW.
For Lucy had served i' the glen a' the simmer ;
She cam' there afore the flow'r bloom'd on the pea ;
An orphan was she, an' they had been gude till her,
Sure that was the thing brocht the tear in her e'e.
She gaed by the stable where Jamie was stan'in' ;
Richt sair was his kind heart the flittin' to see.
" Fare ye weel, Lucy," quo' Jamie, and ran in,
The gatherin' tears trickled fast frae his e'e.
As doun the burnside she gaed slow wi' her flittin',
" Fare ye weel, Lucy," was ilka bird's sang.
She heard the craw sayin't, high on the tree sittin',
And Robin was chirpin't the brown leaves amang.
" Oh ! what is't that pits my puir heart in a flutter ?
An' what gars the tear come sae fast to my e'e ?
If I wasna ettled to be ony better,
Then what gars me wish ony better to be ?
I'm just like a lammie that loses its mither;
Nae mither or friend the puir lammie can see ;
I fear I hae left my bit heart a' thegither,
Nae wonder the tear fa's sae fast frae my e'e.
" Wi' the rest o' my claes I hae row'd up the ribbon,
The bonny blue ribbon that Jamie ga'e me ;
Yestreen, when he ga'e me't and saw I was sabbin',
I'll never forget the wae blink o' his e'e.
Though now he said naething but " Fare ye weel, Lucy ! "