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the old chapel on the knowe by the burn. Perys
de Cokburne, the first of the Henderland line, was
the third son of Sir Alexander Cokburne of that
Ilk and Mariota de Veteri-Ponte, a daughter of
one of the most illustrious of the !N"orman houses.
The Cokburnes of Henderland were a very power-
ful branch of the older family. They owned,
besides Henderland, Sunderland, and Bold, part
of Kirkurd, Dalgliesh on the Tima, and other
lands. Margaret Cokburne, daughter of the second
Perys Cokburne of Henderland, married Sir Walter
Scott of Kirkurd, and her son. Sir David Scott,
virtually made the fortunes of the family of Euc-
cleuch. Margaret Cokburne, the sister of WiUiam
who was executed, married James Veitch of Dawyck,
and there was thus probably, besides the wailing by



THE DOW GLEN, Ylh

the widow on the Meggat, a sad mourning for the
brother beyond the hills by the Tweed, (For the
genealogy of the Cokbumes, see 'The House of
Cockburn,' by Mr Cockburn Hood.)



Soft downwards glides the bumie
Into its deep dark Linn ;

The rude grey rocks encircling,
Listen the quiet din.

Two rowans twine their branches,
"Where the streamlet fills its urn j

And gleam and shade are flecking
The waters as they turn.



On this fair morn of summer,
When the green is on the hill,

And every glen keeps silence
For the music of its rill ;



176 THE DOW GLEN.

E'o marvel, Linn, old-storied,

Thou sharest the heart spread-wide.

In sunny sheen arraying
Thy gentle lapsing tide.

As if thou'dst known no sorrow,
N'e'er heard a woman's wail.

And only note of gladness
Been wafted down thy vale.



Yet once no deeper outburst
Heard the ages in their course,

Nor passion thrown to heaven,
In fiercer torrent force :



As from the wife, heart-broken,
Thy waters bore the cry,

And the forest hills in echo
Woke the world's sympathy.



THE DOW QLEN. 177

Ah ine ! She hears the shoutinsr.
Where she cowers beside the Linn ;

Around her lord men crowding,
And all the dying din.



A stroke of death, none feller
Hath ever flashed from cloud ;

In joy of life at morning,
At eve low in his blood.



And none now knows her story,
Where himian heart doth dwell,

But weeps the woman watching
The dead she loved so well ;



But weeps the widow " happing "
Alone the form clay-cold,

In tender consecration,

To the keeping of the mold.



178 THE DOW GLEN.

Linn ! in mine ear thy cadence
Hath its own peculiar fall ;

As echo of a sorrow,

Through Time which softens all.

And thy bright lapse, short-gleaming,
Of a life the symbol meet,

Whose joy all sudden closes
As hi dark pool at thy feet.

Clings to thy rock the ivy.

To keep faith's memory green ;

And the red rose of the brier

Glows where her love hath been, —

A love that is undying,

As thou, Lian, goest ever on.

In rise and fall aye soughing
In sorrow's monotone !

July 17, 1887.



179



XL.



TAMMAS TEAILSTICKS, THE DOCTOE'S

MAN.

A SCOTTISH INCIDENT OF EIGHTY TEARS AGO.

Tammas Trailsticks, the doctor's man,
Scanned, rev'rent, the doctor's e'e,

Saw something was workin' within.
Took thocht o' what it micht be !



John Thamson had dee'd that morn,
Baffled a' the doctor's skill ;

Tammas thocht i' the richts o' science
He should come i' the doctor's will !



180 TAMMAS TRAILSTICKS,

Tammas, off 'neath the cloud o' niclit,
Is up in the auld kirkyaird ;

" There are plenty o' deid i' their grawfs,
Ane can be weel eneuch spared."



Sair pickin' and howkin' that nicht, —
An auld man howkin' the deid, —

And just as doon he got to the corpse,
The mune shone red like a gleed !



But Tammas kent naething o' fricht,
And soon i' the doctor's hay-loft,

Lay streekit in a' its deid-claes,

What was deep i' the kirkyaird croft.

Auld Tammas, in grey of the morn,

Speeled up the hay-loft stair.
Just to see that a' was quiet ;

But, my faith, what a sicht he saw there !



THE DOCTOR'S MAN. 181

John Thamson, stern, sittin' upricM,

Wan face-glower through the deid-claes ;

" The deevil ! " said Tammas, " what's this 1
Wni ye fleg us a' in sic ways ?



" Ye were yirded, I'm sure eneuch,
We gaed trampin' ahint the hearse,

And noo, guid sauf us, ye're here !
Are ye earth's, or heaven's, or worse 1



" I' the land o' the leevin' ye dee'd.
And noo when ye ought to be deid.

Ye wunna rest like a decent corpse, —
For this is there nae renieid ?



" Odd ! if folk will leeve, let them leeve.
If folk wiU dee, let them dee ;

But to be baith leevin' and deid.

Sets the coorse o' things clean agee ! "



182 TAMMAS TRAILSTICKS.

And what happened just after that,

Is mair than ane daur say,
But John Thamson cam' i' the doctor's will,

In the coorse of that very day !



When Tammas himsel' was laid doon
I' the trouble he ne'er gat ower,

Low mutterings cam' aye through his sleep,
Weird words o' a deid man's glower !



" I canna thole that mune i' the grawf,
Aye glowering red like a gleed, —

Tak' away that wersh-lookin' face
Wi' thae deid-claes roond its heid !



" I canna thole that fearsome sicht
I' that gousty auld hay-loft ;

Wad to God I had left him to lie,
Laigh doon i' the kirkyaird croft."



183



XLI.

TO EEDCAP.

Eedcap ! you're queer and you're gruesome ;

Out o' night at my window-pane ;
Iron toes and fingers, aye scrappling

Up and down there with might and main.

Three toes, three fingers of iron,
Ne'er cast in an earthly mould ;

Weird grey eyes gleaming and glowering,
With the light of the days of old.



184 TO REDCAP.

Tour cap of the purple heather,

Your coat of the thistle's dark green,

Knee to ankle bare as the moor-bent,
Neither shoes nor hosen, I ween.



And here you have come from the moorland,
From the heights where the winds are free.

Where you spurl 'mid slidders and heather,
Known but to the moor-bird and thee !



Sombre Glenrath and green Manor,

Blackhouse, Hundleshope, and Caerdon ;

Stanhope, Glensax, and the Meldons,
Ye know them fuU weU every one.

I've heard you there whirr with the moor-cock.

And startle the mountain-hare.
Shriek to the whaup and the peesweep, —

Then grin with glee at the scare !



TO REDCAP. 185

Down by the burn, 'mid the shadows,

Fveheard wail follow on wail
Till you had befooled the unwary,

Then laughed o'er your idle tale.

Oft when the summer is dwining,

And the Avind with the bent plays free,

There, 'mid the Hnt-white tresses.
You are flitting in wanton glee.



Dearest to you is the gloamin',

With its skirt of the weather gleam

Outspread on the wavy hill-tops, —
High there you bob, and beseem

That clear grey line 'neath the darkness.
Where you revel and sport and play,

And beckon aye with an eerlish grin
To the tomb of the buried day.
2 A



186 TO REDCAP.

A frolic sprite and a restless, —
Yet oft in that weird grey eye

A tear will suddenly glisten,

When the gleam's in the April sky.

And e'en in your speeding gambols
I've seen you quick pause and turn,

With a glance for the new-born primrose,
In the cleft of the mountain burn.



Errant sprite ! some memories olden.

Sweeter thoughts not fraught with pain.

Awake with the gleam of the opening flower,
Broken notes of a finer strain.



But aye when the night is the darkest,
And the wind strives fierce with the rain.

Ye shriek and pipe and whistle
Loudest caU at my window-pane.



TO REDCAP. 187

And you and I there together
Eare converse hold of the past,

And sounds unearthly and eerie,

They pass high and low on the blast.



And you and I talk and whisper,
The world knows not what we say ;

But this deep midnight communion
Is worth all of the garish day.

Oft you tell of the mighty Baron,
The wizard lord of Hermitage ;

By your spell life-charmed 'gainst arrow,
Lance, and sword of a foeman's rage.



Then low in the vault so darksome,
In that oaken chest iron-bound.

You lay, — Lord Soulis beside you, —
Eager listening aye for the soimd.



188 TO REDCAP.

When the rusty lid flies open,

Oh ! let him not look on your face,

As breathless he bends his ear to ken
The fate that lies aU in your grace !



Oh ! sad was that lord when impatient,
Eough and rude he knocked on the chest,

And you rose a sprite stern and wrathful,
That would list no more his behest !



To the l^inestane Eig they've borne Mm,
Lead-enwrapt by the Ninestane burn,

And there in the red glowing cauldron
He hath gotten a deadly turn.



" But why not stand by your master,

Eedcap ! both eerie and sly ?
Oh ! how was your spell worth the courting.

When it failed in the hour he should die ? "



TO REDCAP. 189

" High above aught of our doing,

Above all the powers of Time,
Strong Destiny holds its ongoing,

Metes our fates from its throne sublime !



" Not e'en I might his doom stay more,
I, Redcap, both eerie and sly ;

For the man of blood and the tyrant
Must pass in his hour and die."

sprite now out in the darkness,
I trow ye have spoken well !

Thy teachings are far-borne echoes
From moorland and misty fell.

Lessons all down olden story,
Deep writ on the Border hills,

Of right and mercy abiding,
Whatever the tyrant wills.



190 TO REDCAP.

sprite now out in the darkness,

The strong chest has mouldered away !

By a living tomb unfettered,

On the free Border hills you stray.



I see you bob high on the sky-line ;

Then bound with the moimtain burn,
But mostly you haunt in the darkness,

Hail the grey cloud of night's return.

But let the eve be the darkest.

And the wind strive fierce with the rain,
Come and shriek and pipe and Avhistle

Loudest call at my window-pane.



My ear is to you ever open.

Spirit quaint of the olden day :

Come, decked with the cap of the heather,-
To my heart this the richest array !



191



LAST WOEDS.

Dawn-sjjlendours, morns that gloto alone,
Where the red sun glimmers on the rain,

And the mist is caught in heaven high,

And the hurrCs a-gleam in the breathing glen.

Tlie moons which ivander o'er the hills,
TJie wasted moons which no man sees ;

The hum-heads where the loaters sing
To earless rocks, lone roioan trees.

For these who cares in this poor time ?

What profit bring they, stock enhance ?
How help one to the social mark.

Or set him in the worldling's chance ?



192 LAST WORDS.

Wliy ilien this waste, why all this toealth,
Free-cast abroad from God-like hand ?

For thee not, self-sufficing thing,

Not thee, mean mortal, understand !

But a poor grasp is thine — no more !

The "pageant it will ever pass.
Whether you hlinh or gaze aright,

Or grovel with the beasts at grass !

^Tis the Divine, self-floioing One, —
The God-like, — he must effloresce !

So mil the suns glow, and the moons
Gleam o'er your perished paltriness !



THE END.



PRINTED BY WILLLAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS.



BY TEE SAME A UTHOR.



THE FEELING FOE NATUEE

IN

SCOTTISH POETEY.

Two Vols., fcap. 8vo.
Boimd in lialf-roxbiirglie style, price 15s.



SOME OPINIONS OF THE PRESS.

Daily Telegraph.

"A charming little book To wander in this wonderful

field of national epic and ballad, to keep our fingers on the
poetic pulse, and mark in its fluctuations the throb of patriotism
and the beat of advancing culture and tenderness, witli such a
guide as the learned Professor of Rhetoric in Glasgow University,

is a treat indeed No one can miss the wit and the learning

of these two volumes, or fail to recognise them as delightful and
much valued additions to the national bookshelves."

Spectator.

" They constitute, in reality, a new account of Scotch poetry
from its dawn to the present day. Apart altogether from their
author's ethico-poetical purpose, they are very highly to be
commended as being the most careful and tliscriminatingly
critical work of the kind which has appeared for a long time."

Fall Mall Gazette.

" A very fascinating and delightful contribution to the history
of literature."

Whitehall Review.

" It is no light task to trace, in all the varied manifestations
of poetic genius — half original, half imitative — the influence
exercised by external surroundings and sensations, either natural
or artificial. In the necessarily minute analysis of his subject,
the refined taste and delicate acumen of the critical writer stand
him in good stead. Eschewing all needless or ponderous verbi-
age, he brings to light the framework of purity, pathos, strength,
and beauty that forms the basis of all veritable poetry."



Leeds Mercury.

" The feeling for nature which the Professor seeks to illustrate
and enforce in this charming and suggestive book, is the love of
the ' outward world of the senses, as it lies before us untouched
by the hand of man.' The book abounds in subtle and deli-
cate criticism of the forces which have insensibly swayed Scot-
tish thought, and it casts a great deal of light ou many of the
less-known poets of the North. A fascinating study of an un-
conventional theme."

Scotsman.

_" These two small and elegantly printed volumes will be read
with pleasure by students of poetry and ffisthetics ;.. The re-
sult is a work which presents an instructive historical sketch of
the poetry of Scotland in one of its most characteristic aspects."

Scottish News.

" Lovers of Scottish melody and soug will revel in the volumes
which Messrs Blackwood have presented to the public. A gene-
ral historical survey of national verse is followed by a careful
review of the lyrics written by Scottish pens from the earliest
days of Thomas the E,hymoirr, down to the late productions
of David Gray and others, whose verses are still fresh in the
literature of the day. "

Manchester Examiner.

"Professor Veitch has a very graceful and attractive literary
style, and it is the clothing of thought which always commends
itself very pleasantly to the receptive intelligence. He has been
fortunate in finding a really interesting subject, and he has pro-
duced an admirable book."

Morning Post.

" Mr Veitch has made himself thoroughly clear, and in an
unusual degree interesting throughout his work, which indirectly
touches on many branches of intellectual sjieciilation that can
but tend to induce an elevated strain of thought. He writes
with a genuine feeling, which goes far to excite a desire to follow
up the vistas opened in his clever book."

Daily News.

" A substantial addition to the literature of poetical criticism."



\VM. BLACKWOOD & SONS, Edinburgh and London.



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Online LibraryJohn VeitchMerlin and other poems → online text (page 5 of 5)