David Herschell Edwards.

One hundred modern Scottish poets : with biographical and critical notices (Volume 6) online

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ancy and spontaneity of flow, pure sentiment, and
occasional quiet pathos.

NAEBODY'S BAIRN.

His father, wha cared nae a flee for his laddie,

Ran off wi' a ship to a far distant shore
Before he had learned to lisp mam or daddie.

Or toddle alane "tween the fire an' the door.

His mither, aye weakly, then grew broken-hearted,

Unable her sweet bairnie's livin' to earn ;
In less than a towmon frae life she departed,

An' syne the wee callant was naebody's bairn.

When neighbours met roun' the cauld clay o' his mammie
The last solemn rite to the dead to perform,

He frisked and he played like a young simmer lammie
That kens nae the force o' the cauld winter's storm ;

He shed nae a tear, had nae fit o' cryin',

Alas, little mannie, he yet had to learn,
What sorrow and sadness, what sabbin' an' sighin'.

Was birthright to him wha is naebody's bairn.

AYE KEEP OOT 0' DEBT.

There's mony a pithy learned saw,

The sayin's o' the sage.
If acted on would guide us a'

Frae infancy to age.
On memory's tablet let them shine.

Their precepts ne'er forget.
An' 'mang them write this worthy line

Aye, aye keep oot o' debt.

It doesna need a silken purse

Wi' gowden guineas fu',
To cancell the primeval curse.

An' mak' us leal an' true.
If ye would bask in happiness,

In spite o' foes or fate,
The short an' simple method is

Aye, aye keep oot o' debt.

Nae matter tho' your coat be bare.

Or made o' hielan' 'oo'.
The finest claith a man can wear

Lets debt win dirlin' thro'.



240 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

A patch or twa on hoddin' gray,
Ne'er niak'a the body blate

Wha can haud up his face an' say,
I'm fairly oot o' debt.

Misfortune whiles may ding a man,

An' daud him when he's doon,
May alter mony a worthy plan.

Designed to male' a croon.
Yet e'en misfortune's cursed pranks

Come doon at second rate
On him wha can gie God the thanks,

An' say I'm oot o' debt.

The clink o' siller aft commands

An easy life, 'tis true,
But carefu' heads an' workin' hands

Gie independence too.
Then eat the bread your hands hae won.

E'en scorn the parish plate,
An' wear the claith ye've paid or spun,

An' aye keep oot o' debt.

'Tis time enough when worn an' wan

To condescend to alms,
The conscience o" an honest man

E'en then will hae some qualms.
But tho' the ills o' life's short span

Come a' upon his pate.
He'll bear them a', an' feel a man

If he be oot o' debt.



PERSEVERANCE.

Life is all a fight for glory,

Onward is the battle cry.
Princes young and peasants hoary

Side by side their weapons ply.
Fickle hearts may be defeated,

Silly minds may quake with fear,
But the brave with nerves firm-seated,

Proves their motto — persevere.

Many a crooked perverse turning
Lengthens out the road to fame,

Wayward footsteps lead to mourning-
Folly's sure reward is shame.

Trifles light as airy-bubbles

Dance before the eyesight clear ;

But the brave o'ercome their troubles
With their motto — persevere.



J. p. REID. 241

Perseverance — maxim fatal —

To the world's alluring din,
Conquering in every battle

Fought with trial or with sin,
Trifling failures only teach us

How through life our course to steer,
And in warning tones beseech us

Gallantly to persevere.



•^^



JOHN PEINGLE EEID,

/tXLA.SS-CUTTEE, was born in the pretty little
Vl^ rural village of Aberlady, on the Haddington-
Bhire coast, in 1862. Both his parents were very
highly esteemed natives of that locality, his father
being a photographer, and also carrying on business
as a general merchant in the village. When our
poet was only a few weeks old his mother died, and
he had the misfortune to lose his father when ten
years of age. He was early sent to srhool, but at
first made slow progress, preferring the playground
and the village green to his lessons. Nevertheless,
he ultimately acquired a fair elementary education,
and left school in his fourteenth year. For some
time he followed the occupation of a gardener, but
this calling not being to his taste, he removed to the
Scottish capital, and entered the employment of the
Edinburgh and Leith Flint Glass Company, where
he still remains.

It was not till he was in his seventeenth year that
our poet evinced any taste for poetry, or thought of
putting his reflections into rhyme. Since then he
has written much in verse, many of his productions
having appeared in local newspapers. Being of
excellent character and kindly disposition, there runs
3 through his verses a strong vein of purity ; and the



'242 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

scenes of bygone days, on which he delights to dwell,
he portrays in affectionate language. He is a loving
obsorvfM' of Nature, and the sources of his avspirations
seem to bo expressed in the words — " All Thy works
praise Thee."

SONG OF THE MERMAID,

The sea, the sea, the deep blue sea !
My life, my home, and my joy's in thee !
Wliere the sea-fowl skim o'er the waters bright,
Or in screaming eddies take higher flight ;
Where the rocks are lash'd by the restless wave,
Kind Nature has made me my ocean cave.

Far down in the marvellous deep I dive.
Where the tinny tribes and the shell-fish live ;
Where the zoophites and sea-weeds grow.
In wondrous beauty far down below ;
Then I rise again and embrace the wave,
And dash thi-o' the surf to my ocean cave.

W^hen blackening clouds dim the azure sky.
And the dark waves mirror them as they fly ;
When tlie swelling seas, with a hollow tone.
Beat furiously on the rocks so lone ;
And all around me the tempests rave,
I recline and list in my ocean cave.

For dear to me does that music prove,

Tho' not of the kind the sealchus love ;

The crested wave and the battling wind.

Their voices together in concert blend ;

W^hile the bold sea-gulls, as the storm they brave,

Scream loud and wild round my ocean cave.

But when in a calm Sol sinks in bed,
And as he departs paints the waters red.
Then, with glass in hand, I comb my hair.
So thick and long, and so golden fair ;
While the ripplets round me gently lave.
As they make their way up my ocean cave.

When the time shall come that I dwine and die,
And these scenes grow dim to my closing eye ;
When the waves no longer my heart can cheer.
And their music dies on my dying ear ;
Let the wild gull scream o'er the mermaid's grave,
And the sea make moan round her ocean cave !



J. p. KEID. 243

THE AULD ROAD EN'.

I gaed the ither day by the auld road en',
Whaiir some bairnies were at play at the auld road en' ;
Oh, I liked to see them fine.
For they brocht into my min'
A' the splores we play'd langsyne
At the auld road en'.

Yonder staun's the elm tree at the auld road en',
Whaur for 'oors we used to swee at the auld road en' ;

An' do ye min' yon day

When to schule we wadna gae,

But juist took oor fill o' play
At the auld road en'.

Aften ha'e we spiel'd the dyke at the auld road en',
Trespassm', laddie-like, at the auld road en',

Thro' the neeborin' fiel's we'd scour,

Pu'in' ilka bonnie flooer,

Syne terminate oor tour

At the auld road en',

Mony lawless tricks we play'd at the auld road en' ;
Nestlin' expeditions gaed frae the auld road en' ;

For then, for mony a day,

Be't for kirk, or schule, or play,

Oor meetin' place was aye
At the auld road en'.

The scene is little changed at the auld road en',

Tho' afar we've sometimes ranged frae the auld road en' ;

Noo we've grown to grave-faced men,

Sae we'll never tryste again

To play as we did then

At the auld road en'.

Yet we'll sometimes tak' a walk by the auld road en',
An' o' bygane days we'll crack at the auld road en' ;

But the time '11 sune draw nigh

When the maist o' us '11 lie

I' the snug kirkyaird ower-by
At the auld road en'.

"BONNIE JEAN'S" LAMENT.
Departed that spirit sae loving and brave !

Oh why suld the best be the quickest to dee ?
The foremost o' men is laid low in liis grave —

" Thei-e's naught left but sorrow for Scotland and me ! "



244 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

Robbie ! Robbie ! I'm weary an' wae ;

My een noo are dim an' my heart is fu' sair ;
For silent art thou noo, the pride o" thy day,

An' bleak is this warld sin' it hands thee nae mair !

All, bairnie ! I see there's a blank on yer face,
Ye list for the voice that ye never will hear ; ■

An' still dae ye long for his loving embrace —
Alack ! yer dear faither is cauld in his bier.

Nae mair he'll denounce the vain hypocrite's creed,
Or gie to the honest the crown o' true worth,

Or lichten the hearts that in sorrow may bleed.
Or clothe in true piety the puir cottar's hearth,

Nae mair by " Sweet Afton " he'll pondering stray.

Or " adoMii winding Nith," or by " Banks o' the Doon,

Or by Ayr or by Devon to gie them a lay —

Ah, no ! his sweet lyre never mair will he tune.



CHAELES GULLAND,

HN accomplished author and highly-gifted poet,
known only hitherto by the letter " G.," was
born at Falkland in 1840. Having passed a few
years at the Parish School of that town, he, at the
age of twelve, entered Edinburgh Academy, where
his exceptional aldlities soon made themselves mani-
fest. In the Edinburgh University, under Professor
Pillans, he took the poetical prize. Ever since Mr
Gulland has devoted much of his time to the cultiva-
tion of the Muse, and he has done so with conspicuous
success.

After a few years' training in London, our poet in
1865 joined his father in business at Falkland as a
solicitor and lianker. He still dwells there, amid
the inspiring traditions of the locality — his lovely
residence being bounded on the one side by the



CHARLES GULLAND. 245

romantic Lomonds, and on the other by the stately
palace of the Stuart kings.

Mr Grulland's published works are — "Sylvanus,
Netherton, and other Poetical Works," a large hand-
some volume, published by Wm. P. Nimmo, Edin-
burgh, in 1867; "The Lomond Hills," a poem
(1877); "The Fairies of Falkland: a Metrical
Romance" (1876) ; and " Scottish Ballads, and other
Poems" (1881), besides other smaller works, now in
their second edition, or out of print. "After: a
Poem" (1875), also published by Mr Nimmo, is a
work of much power and thought, being an imagi-
nary narration of earth's decline, and fall, and judg-
ment, as told by one angel to another in Paradise.
In the introductory portion of part ninth we find
the following lines : —

Where be the Devils that corrupt the soul ?

Do they, envenomed, crawl upon the worlds,

Working, invisible, a tale of woe,

Whisp'ring with bated breath in the ear of the weak,

The irresolute, the careless, the perplexed ?

Do they flutter by the side of mortal man ?

Are they present in the throng, in solitude,

In the closet, by the couch, malignant watching

With keen hawk-eyes the opportunity

To enter and destroy the precious soul V

Nay ! man is left to battle out his life

Unprompted by the sp'rits of good or evil.

The i^aw, the Word, these be his legacies

From Heaven, and the result is with himself.

Many of Mr Gulland's productions were first pub-
lished in the columns of the Fijhhire Journal, amoug
the contributors to which he holds a high rank. He
is about to print a sixth volume, which will include
two dramas — "Queen Elizabeth" and "Eothesay,"
and several poems hitherto unpublished, giving evi-
dence of mature thought and careful finish.

From " Wallace," as well as other dramatic pieces,
contained in his published works, it is at once seen
that Mr Gulland is an author possessed of gifts far



246 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

above mediocrity. These show much feeling and
power, and are marked ])y much clearness of outline
and distinctness of i)lot. They, as well as his beauti-
fully tender ballads, evince unusual powers of narra-
tion ; and while scrupulously faithful to history, he
succeeds in throwing all the charm and fascination of
romance around the stirring and exciting period of
Scottish history. As a ballad-writer — tragic as well
as humorous — his narration is clear and concise, and
his descriptions are virid and vigorous ; while the
ring and rattle of action and quaint sough of the
olden time, the home life, the manners and customs
of " gentle and simple," of kings and their courtiers,
of barons and their retainers, are reproduced with
vivid naturalness and graphic power. His more
ambitious poems, too long for quoting here, are full of
nerve and pith, and contaia many gems of thought.
These will repay on the part of the reader deep
and careful study. From the opening portion of
"Netherton " we give the following : —

MORNING.

Blue the soft heavens, and blue the far ocean,
Gently their shares the hoarse waters sweep,
Hushed the dark forest, no quickening motion
Save in the breast of the tremulous lieep.
Here on this pinnacle stand I and treasure
The musical notes of the deep-boou)ing sea.
As they strike on the air with unvarying measure,
And murmur their drowsy but sweet melody ;
See the foam of yon billow gleaming and glancing,
Niglit hath departed, day is advancing.

Night with her mystery, night with her sorrow.
Dark-winged shelter of evil and crime,
Flees from the reckoning voice of the morrow,
Heedless of aught but the finger of time.
Night with her welcome repose to the spirit
That battles in vain with the world and despair,
Surcharged with oblivion to such as inherit
The wide-spread bequest of heart-swelling care ;
Not for long are the clouds from memory banish'd,
Night hath taken her mantle around her and vanish'd



CHARLES GULLAND. 247

Hark to the throstle commencing his lay,

To the faint-breaking smile of the opening day,

From the poplar's high summit, unfetter'd and free.

Outpouring his soul in innocent glee ;

Tnspir'd with his gladdening slumbers and rest.

He carols his joy to the reddening east,

While his sweet-throated rivals aroused to the theme,

Confide their soft loves to the pure morning beam.

Now slow from the distance of waters uprearing.

The circle of day, in his splendour appearing.

Exults in the sheen of his glorious might,

And bathes the far landscape in glittering light,

O'erspreading with gladness th' wild frowning mountain

Erst towering uncertain in vapours and mist,

Illuming anon the shadowy fountain,

Now bright as the face which affection hath kiss'd.

On swift early wing, all impatient of leisure,

Loud hums the quick bee to her labour of pleasure.

Out-trills the calm blackbird, the lav'rock rejoices,

And blend in sweet medley their clear-ringing voices,

Thus the crown of the day, as higher and higher

He climbs the steep pathway enthroned in fire.

Is hail'd with applause by nature's wide choir.

"The Lomond Hills" is a poem containing
numerous beautiful passages, giving evidence of a
refined and cultured mind, keen observation, unvary-
ing flow of thought, and a charming appreciation of
the beauties of Nature. In this poem he depicts, in
felicitous language, hill and dale, cottage and
castle, hamlet and city. All the scenes are well
chosen, and pass before +he reader in beautifully-
painted panoramas. Here is a fine picture of

SUMMER EVENING IN THE COUNTRY.

. But evening comes. . . Hee ! at their doora
And on their outer steps the village dames
Are seated, and their nimble fingers ply
The glancing wires, while loud and voluble,
Echoes the gossip to their heart's content.
See too ! by the church rail sedately sit
A row of townsmen resting from their toils.
Consuming at their ease the fragrant weed.
Now home the sleek cows hie, heavy and slow,
Nodding as they approach, and in the rear
The fair cheeked milkmaids walk, the ready jest
With gallant swain exchanging as they pass ;
Lithe graceful girls, with locks of russet brown,



248 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

Posies of meadow sweet clasped in the hand,
A welcome smile for all their humble world.
There, too, the horses from the outHeld come,
With droopiiif,' heads and slow advancing' pace,
Mounted or led by youths proud of their task.
Lo ! yonder animal, time worn and lean,
And jaded, bears upon his naked back
Time honoured master, bonneted and grave ;
Before him, clutching earnest by the mane,
A child is placed, pleased with his dignity.
And close behind another urchin sits,
Clasping with ready hands his grandsire's waist.



' YOUNG WALLACE.
(From "Scottish Ballads.")

Wha hasna heard of Wallace wicht
The stalwart son of Ellerslie '!
A bolder or a likelier lad
In a' the round there couldna be.

One day he to the fishing gaed
Doun by the Irvine water side.
And wlien his basket was weel filled,
Three Southron soldiers he espied.

He turned him to the little boy
Who followed eager at his heel—
" My lad, there may be mischief here,
I'll hand the rod, and you the creel."

He took his lithe rod quickly doun,
His creel he to the laddie gave.
Then wi' his face turned to the foe
He calmly stude, sae swank and brave.

Ahent him stude the boy, and smiled —
"They dinua ken their man," said he,
" What though the carles be three to ane.
They canna fecht young Ellerslie."

Up cam' the soldiers, and began
The tislier youth to jeer and tlout^
" Nae doubt you only fish for sport,
Gie us the basket wi' the trout."

" Ye arena blate," young Wallace said,
" And your demand I hold unfair,
1 wiuna gie the creelfu' up.
Hut you are welcome to a share.'



CHARLES GIJLLAND. 249

"The whole or none," the soldiers cried,
And sudden rushed on Ellerslie,
Who dauntless waited ; save his rod
No weapon of defence had he.

The foremost of the three he struck
With his rod-end a crushing blow,
A single blow aneth the ear
That laid his adversary low.

Then caught he up his victim's sword,
And swift the blade cam' flashing doun
Upon a second Southron foe,
A deadly stroke that cleft his croun.

The third turned tail and ran awa' ;
Young Wallace grimly smiled — " I trow
My sport on Irvine stream is dune,
I'll follow ither fishing now.

" I'll no be hame this nicht my lad,
Nor yet will I be hame the morn.
Go, tell my folks I canna thole
To be the mark for Southron scorn.

"Tell them I've done a deed this day.
That stamps me England's enemie.
And to escape a cruel death
'Tis 1 maun to the mountains flee.

" Inglorious ease and tranquil days !
To them I bid a long adieu ;
And now, my puir down-trodden land.
My life I consecrate to you."



Awa', awa', to the Loudon Hills
To rouse his brither Scots fled he ;
And England learned ere lang to dread
The outlawed youth frae Ellerslie.



YOUNG RAMSAY OF BALMAIN.

"O for a man of micht and power
To wear the Scottish crown ;
O for a King well worth the name
To baud the English down !

"Nae pleasure takes our King in war
Or in his armour bricht,
And for the tilt and tournament
He scunners at the sicht.



2B0 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

" He shuns his nobles, spends the time

Wi' men of low degree ;

A tailor and a cunning smith

Are his best companie.

" Whaur is fair Scotland's honour gane?
Whaur is the Stuart pride?
A mason and a fiddler reign,
And we are set aside.''



To Lauder cam' the Scottish King
He and his proud array ;
Atween the river and the town
His valiant army lay.

'Twas they wad meet the English host
To humble Edward's pride ;
But James, a laggard in the war.
Did lang at Lauder bide.

Sair did the warlike nobles fret,
Their discontent grew loud.
Till 'gainst the fav'rites of the King,
An evil death they vowed.

Tn Lauder Kirk the nobles met

To lay their vengeful plan ;

The oath they swore, and frae the kirk

On murder bent they ran.

They huntit high, they huntit low,
They huntit round and round,
Until their victims ane by ane
They unrelenting found.

And they have hanged the mason bold,
Cochran sae braw and trig ;
With the tailor and smith for companie
Ower the middle of Lauder Brig.

The tiddler's gane the self -same gate ;
And the rest of low degree
Are butchered some, and hangit some.
For nane had time to flee.

Then out spake Angus Bell-the-Cat,
As in the camp he stood
Aleaning on his weighty sword
That dreepit down red blood,

" My lords, this is a glorious day,
And well it has begun ;



CHARLES GULLAND. 251

But James maun be our prisoner
Before our task is done.

" We'll tak' him on to Edinbruch,
And that richt speedilie,
That Scotland frae her silken bonds
Shall ance and aye be free."

Swift at the word the nobles rushed
With a rude following,
And haughty Angus at their head,
To beard th* unconscious King.

Lo ! as they hastened through the Camp
To glut their flaming wrath,
A youthful fav'rite of the King
Did chance to cross their path.

A youthful fav'rite of the King,
John Ramsay of Balmain ;
And when the rabble spied the lad
They yelled with micht and main.

The frichtened lad they huntit fast,
On instant murder bent.
Until they brocht Balmain to bay
Before the Monarch's tent.



O but he was a bonnie youth.

His eyes were of the blue ;

And his rich brown hair in clusters rare

Fell o'er his snowy broo.

He raised his eyes beseechingly.
But spake he ne'er a word ;
Stern Angus pitied as he gazed.
And sheathed his bloody sword.

" Enough of blood," the Douglas said,
Filled with unwonted ruth ;
"Thy face is like thy father's, lad.
And I spare thee for thy youth.

" Thy minions. King, are put to death—
'Tis thou shalt gang wi' me,
And I shall teach thee how to reign.
Butt men of low degree.

"Thy minions, ane and a' this day
To their account are gane ;
Saving this boy now at thy feet,
John Ramsay of Balmain.



252 MODERN SCOTTISH POETS.

" And now, ray lad, a word wi' thee —
I was thy father's friend ;
I wad advise thy father's son
His silly ways to mend.

" Disdain to sit in silken tents
Clad in a silken suit,
And leave to fingers feminine
To strum upon the lute.

" Wear harness on thy back, my boy,
lUse in the early morn.
And let thy sweetest nLusic be
The merrie hound and horn.

"Go, study war ; unceasing strive
A worthy name to gain
'Mong Scotland's noblest, for the House
Of Ramsay of Balmain."





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Online LibraryDavid Herschell EdwardsOne hundred modern Scottish poets : with biographical and critical notices (Volume 6) → online text (page 17 of 28)