BY THE LATE
WILLIAM DAVIDSON ROBERTSON,
HIS SISTER ISABELLA,
JOHN PAUL, DUNDEE.
JAMES P. MATHEW & CO., COWGATE.
BIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION, 9
THE EARNEST STUDENT.
"Nee TAMEN CONSUMEBATUR," 19
THE LORD'S DAY, 22
A WORSHIPFUL SPIRIT 23
COMMUNION, , 25
AFTER COMMUNION, 26
COME, HOLY SPIRIT, ........ 28
JESUS MY LORD, 29
GRASPED BY CHRIST JESUS, 30
LABORS ET HONORE, 31
GATHER, HAPPY CHILDREN, 33
LITTLE PILGRIMS, 34
INFANT PRAISES, 35
CHILDREN'S DAY, 36
SPARED TO SEE ANOTHER YEAR, .... 38
To THE NEW YEAR 39
O COME, YE PEOPLE, 40
THERE is A LAND, 41
THE SON OF CONSOLATION.
THE TOOM PLACE FILLED, 43
A TOUCH, -... 45
TALITHA CUMI, 47
A HILLSIDE SERMON, 48
" THE PKEACHIN'S," 52
WEE JANET, 53
IN MEMORIAM THOMAS YOUNG, .... 54
M REV. MATTHEW HOWIESON, . . 55
H MBS M'KENZIE, 56
To MRS GRAHAM, EDINBURGH, 57
THE FRIEND OF ALL.
DEATH IN THE PATH, 59
THE MEETING OF THE YEARS, 61
ONE YEAR GOES, ANOTHER COMES, .... 62
NEW YEAR SONG To THE REV. GEORGE WILLIAMS, . 63
THE HAUNTED MAN BY THE REV. GEORGE WILLIAMS, 65
REPLY TO THE HAUNTED MAN, .... 67
O DINNA BAN, 69
THE DOCTOR, 70
HEADLESS RHYMES, 71
MAY DAY WITH THE CHILDREN, 71
A MAY SONG, 72
THE BRAES o' COLTRANNIE, 73
CUSHNIE GLEN, 74
THE MAID OF NORRIESTON, 76
THE MAIDEN WHA SHORE IN THE BANDWIN wi' ME, . 77
To cherish the memory of a sincere and honourable
life is a source of comfort and strength, and to per-
petuate all that was good, true, and beautiful in the
character is to make the world richer and happier.
This memorial volume of the heart-echoes of one who
was a true poet and a generous friend will revive the
benign influence of his personality in those who were
acquainted with him, and may serve to cheer them
when despondent, and inspire them to seek after the
eternal realities when the concerns of this life are
pressing hard upon them. The poems are printed as
revised by the author shortly before his death, and in
many cases the readings are different from what
appeared in the newspapers. The corrections were
calmly and deliberately made, and on that account are
given here as the finished expression of a cultured mind.
The parents of William Davidson Robertson were
natives of the Highlands of Perthshire. His mother,
Isabella M'Intosh, was born and spent her girlhood in
Strathbraan, and his father, Thomas Robertson, belonged
to Old Rattray, where his father was a schoolmaster.
Both were sprung from that industrious class the God-
fearing Scottish peasantry. Shortly after their marriage
they migrated to Dundee, and Mr Robertson found
employment as a labourer in a mill, but his intelligence
and ability marked him out for promotion, and he soon
10 Heart Echoes.
rose to the position of overseer, which he held until his
death in 1854. William was born in Dundee on the
25th of January 1833, and was the eighth child of a
family of nine. The home life of the family was
characterized by simple piety, wholesome discipline, and
undemonstrative affection ; just the atmosphere that
pervaded the homes and was breathed by the men who
made the Scottish character world-renowned for manli-
ness and wisdom.
The following notes from the Poets' Album (Dundee
Weekly News, 6th October 1888) give some interesting
reminiscences of William's school-days, which he supplied
to the editor, Mr Robert Ford: "Among his -earlier
recollections is the occasion of his being introduced into
the Infant School at Blackscroft, which was conducted
by Alexander Hutcheson and his wife, a pair of very
worthy persons, who did good work in their generation.
. . . Mr Hutcheson had learned to play the clarionet,
and his pupils were marshalled to and from the play-
ground to such stirring strains as, ' March to the
Battlefield,' 'See the Conquering Hero Comes,' and 'The
British Grenadiers,' &c., his good lady the while beating
time with a tambourine. Happy pupil who got the
triangle to beat ! In course of time William was trans-
ferred to Princes Street School, then in charge of Alexander
Macfarlane, and made fair progress in the mastery of
the three R's. Here he had as a fellow-pupil a tall,
big boned, square shouldered, live New Zealander,
Tekawara Smiler by name, whom some local Christian
and humane gentleman had picked up as a castaway
about the docks, and sent to school to learn English.
Tekawara was tattooed breast and face, even to the
roots of his jet-black hair. ' I was,' writes Mr Robert-
son, 'his frequent tutor in reading, being set apart
Biographical Introduction. 11
thereto by the schoolmaster, and was often tempted to
smile at his queer pronunciation :
' Tey gru in booty shide by shide,
Tey filched wan horn wich glee ! '
This was how he delivered Mrs Hemans' beautiful
and familiar lines. I dared not smile. Tekawara was
a savage, and very sensitive to ridicule, and prone to
resent it. School-days over, I went to work in a
spinning mill, in a department of which my father was
overseer. To the same manufacturing establishment
Tekawara, having finished his education, followed to
learn to be a mechanic. . . . Dressed in moleskins,
tattooed face and all, going to and coming from his work
just like other decent folks."
But the leading of Providence is wonderful. It was
soon made clear that mill life was not in the plan.
Though he was promoted to the position of office boy,
yet the noise and the greasy odour from the material
and the machinery brought on sickness and continual
headaches, and he had to give up his situation. Writing
of this period of his life afterwards, he said that he
" envied the lot of those country people, with their
bright eyes and ruddy fresh countenances, coming into
the town on market mornings. They seemed to come
from some 'Happy Land, far, far away' a land of
sunshine, of hill and dale, stream and wood, and singing
That difficult parental problem, "What shall we
make of our son ? " had to be faced and solved once
more. It is wonderful how well denned the path
becomes to those who are anxiously looking for guidance
and direction. An opening as a grocer's apprentice pre-
sented itself, and he applied and was successful. While
12 Heart Echoes.
at the grocery trade he developed a love for literature,
shorthand, and music, and after his apprenticeship was
over, when he became a clerk in the Post Office, Dundee,
he continued his studies, and was well known in musical
and literary circles as an intelligent and thoughtful young
man. A gentleman who was intimately acquainted
with him, writing after his death, thus summarizes his
gifts and capacities : " For a number of years he was
a respected official in connection with the Post Office,
being, if I mistake not, the first money order clerk in
that establishment. His company at that time was
much in request by intelligent and embryo literary
young men, who were fascinated by his delightful talk
of the books he had read. He was also an expert
French scholar and shorthand writer, and it was his
custom to take down 'the thoughts that breathed and
the words that burned ' from the lips of all the wander-
ing oratorical ' stars ' who came within his radius. Mr
Robertson was an accomplished musician. He was a
member of the Dundee Philharmonic Society, then
under the direction of the late Mr Spindler, and was
one of the oboe players. The violin was, however, the
instrument he loved the most, and many a social party
has been made merry by the melodious strains of this
instrument. His love for music abode with him all his
life long, and many of the rising generation in Bankfoot
have reason to be grateful for the musical instruction,
which it was a labour of love for Mr Robertson to
bestow. He had a fine tenor voice, and a good know-
ledge of music in both notations, and could make the
subject attractive to the veriest amateur."
He had often sighed for a life in the country, and in
1878 his wishes were fulfilled, when he secured the
situation of clerk in the factory at Bankfoot, and after-
Biographical Introduction. 13
wards the position of salesman to the Auchtergaven
Provision Society. Here he settled down in view of the
grand hills, the beautiful dales, and the silver streams,
and we have ample evidence in his poems that his spirit
was in sympathy with his surroundings. Still further
to show his love for nature, the following extracts from
"A Muirland Ramble in May," which he contributed
to the Stirling Sentinel, 24th June 1890, are worth
quoting: "East winds and blue noses notwithstanding,
May is my favourite month. Nature is then in her
virginity, her vesture is of the loveliest green, span new,
and gemmed with the loveliest blossoms. I have longed
and wearily waited for the advent of this pretty maiden
with her drapery of green, studded and gemmed with, to
me, the prettiest flowers of the year primrose, daisy,
and violet, and wreathed with cherry and apple blossom.
It is Emerson, I think, who says, ' Why bring me to
gaze on and admire your highly cultivated garden with
its neatly trimmed walks and carefully tended flowers 1
I cannot look anywhere without beholding beauty ! '
In like manner, I at this season find beauty everywhere,
and I prefer the bypaths and the fields to the garden ;
the gowany lea, the muirland, and the wild wood to the
ornamental park. ' Nature when unadorned (by art) is
adorned the most.' Happily I have not far to wander
in search of wild bits of muirland. Running from the
top of the steep slope, at the foot of which stands the
village of Bankfoot, is a green loan. At the far end of
this loan, which is only a quarter of a mile long, three
lairds' lands meet the lands of Coltrannie, Murthly,
and Nairne. After I get to the end of the loan, one
step lands me into Cairnleath Moss, otherwise the Muir
o' Thorn, a wide expanse of verdant heath, a sea of
golden gorse, the home at this season of innumerable
14 Heart Echoes.
wild birds. Seagulls by the thousand are wheeling and
screaming around yon natural basin in the centre of the
Moss, or flitting overhead to and from their feeding
grounds in the valley down yonder, from which I have
just come. I have no sooner set foot within the Muir
than a brace of peewits come on hasty wing, greeting
me as an intruder by wheeling and screaming a few feet
above my head, and swiftly whirring before and behind
me, coming so close to my ears that I feel the wind
caused by the proximity of their wings. When I am
clear past their nest they leave me alone. Now for
delicious draughts of the purest and most invigorating
air, balmy with the perfume of wild flower and plants
and herbs. Such a delight to tread the close, thickset
springy verdant turf, or to recline on some of the mossy
banks soft as down, and the prospect all around so
extensive ! This tableland is so elevated above the
surrounding country that from it I can see the hills and
mountains in five or six different counties the Ochils,
the Fife Lomond?, the Sidlaws, the lower range of the
Grampians, are as it were at my elbow, the loftier range
in Aberdeen and Kincardine Shires, many of their peaks
capped with snow.
" This extensive tract of muirland is renowned for the
rare botanical specimens which have been found in it
by naturalists. Thus it is a splendid field for the
excursions of the natural science clubs whose head-
quarters are not too far removed from this tempting
"The sun is now high, and the sky being almost
cloudless, his rays are beating upon me just rather strong.
This constrains me to seek the shelter of the trees of
Coltrannie Wood which overhang the western edge of
Biographical Introduction. 15-
the Moss, and a part of the wood by which Bonnie
Prince Charlie and his Highlandmen marched to the
south. It is currently told that his army encamped a
night on the Moss. I sit me down in the middle of the
road, now turf-covered. These beautiful overhanging
light-green fronds of the firs afford a deliciously cool
screen from the sun. I hear a peculiar chick, chick,
above my head, and looking up I see a squirrel eyeing
me from his perch. He is now beating a tattoo with
his forepaws on the bark of the tree, which sound like
the raps of two little wooden mallets. He wants to get
a closer look at me, and he lets himself drop from branch
to branch so nimbly and so neatly that he must have a
way of his own of calculating distance and impetus to
" Such a stillness reigns in the muirland solitude !
a stillness broken only by the warbling of some feathered
songster, the plaintive wail of the curlew, or the distant
scream of the seagull a stillness that at this hour seems
to become more still, when even the lightest breezes
seem to fall altogether away, and all nature seems
hushed the very sun seems to pause in his course. It
is meridian. The skyey tide is at the full ! "
Amidst such surroundings the poetical spirit of Mr
Robertson was nurtured, and the overflowings of his
mind in the shape of hymns, poems, and songs are full
of natural and pleasing images. These found ready
entrance to the columns of such newspapers and
magazines as the Peoples Journal, Weekly News, Perth-
shire Constitutional and Journal, Perthshire Courier,
Stirling Sentinel, Glasgow Weekly Mail, Aberdeen Free
Press, Perth Free Church Presbytery's Record, Children's
Record of the Free Church of Scotland, and the Children's
Magazine of the U.P. Church. Though the largest
16 Heart Echoes.
number of his contributions have his name in full or his
initials appended, yet he frequently signed himself
" Wild Rose " ; and " Muirland Jock " and " Auchter-
gaven Gallant " have each been used.
A brief sketch of his life and four of his poems ap-
peared in the seventh series of " Modern Scottish Poets "
edited and issued by Mr D. H. Edwards, of Brechin, in
1884. Mr Edwards says of him that he "Is a poet
whose mind appears to revolve in an atmosphere of
reflective thought and piety, and his poems and hymns
are penetrated by feeling and tasteful spirituality.
His writings, both in prose and verse, con-
tributed to several magazines and newspapers are full of
pleasing thought, and are instinct with a poetical and
While on his deathbed, a few days before he passed
away, a letter came from Mr Robert Ford, of Glasgow,
asking permission to include his name and specimens of
his poetry in a volume he was then engaged on, " The
Harp of Perthshire," and the last letter he wrote was in
reply granting the request. The thought that he was
to be remembered in the annals of Scottish song was a
source of comfort to him in his last hours.
Mr Robertson was never married, but his sister,
Isabella, who gave up her business in Dundee to become
his housekeeper, filled his home with the sunshine of
love, and it would have been difficult to have found one
more unselfish and more unsparing in her efforts to
make her brother comfortable and happy. Like-
minded, and endowed with the same poetic faculty,
she was able to sympathize with him in his efforts
to attain the poetical ideals he had set before himself,
and to cheer him on to better things. This volume is
the outcome of her sisterly affection, and long may she
Biographical Introduction. 17
be spared to cherish the memory of her noble-minded
Mr Robertson died at Bankfoot on the 1st of February
1891, and was laid to rest in the Parish Churchyard of
Auchtergaven. His simple Christian life commanded
the respect and esteem of the whole community, and his
remains were followed to the grave by many sincere
The following extract from a letter written by one of
his correspondents sums up the chief features in the
character of this good man and genuine poet : " I had
the pleasure of knowing deceased for many years, first
through the intimacy of a mutual friend, then personally,
but chiefly through his epistolary correspondence, and I
never knew one more amiable in character, more
charitable in his estimates of men and things, more
anxious to raise the common-places of life into the
purer atmosphere of the ideal. I know also that the
principles he advocated and approved of in speech he
carried out consistently in his everyday life."
His earnest spirit yearned for fuller light
Upon the mysteries of life and death, and o'er
The page of Revelation did he pore
Till faith grew strong, and to his quickened sight
The spirit-world grew clearer ; a delight
To seek its portals, and to ope the door,
And revel in its glories. More and more
The eye of faith saw farther through the night.
Compassionate and sensitive, he felt
The well-springs of his heart o'erflow to all
Who drank of sorrow's cup. And lowly knelt
Before the throne a blessing down to call.
A son of consolation, and a friend
Who, Christlike, was leal-hearted to the end.
THE EARNEST STUDENT.
T .IKE a meteor's gleam, o'er the desolate plain,
*-^ The flaming bush shone like a " marvellous light,"
Entrancing the gaze of the lone shepherd swain,
Who turned from his flock to behold the "great sight,"
For Jehovah was there, ev'n the Lord God of Might,
And, lo, the bush was not consumed !
In narrowing circles, moves nearer and near
The moth to swift death in the fierce lambent flame :
80 Moses, o'erpowered with amazement and fear,
Was drawn towards the fire, but from 'midst thereof
A voice 'twas Jehovah's, I AM is His name,
And Moses was not consumed !
How meet that this man ev'n on bare, barren earth,
Which God's awful presence had made holy ground,
Should cast off his shoes O ! I reverence the hearth
And the home where the fear of the Lord doth
And love to the Saviour in each heart is found,
For these things can ne'er be consumed !
20 Heart Echoes.
Though towering in honour of Mary or Paul,
The loftiest Fane that men's hands could uprear ;
Though lavishly garnished with art, and with all
The wealth of a kingdom, if Christ dwelt not there,
To me it could never be His house of prayer
One day it would all be consumed !
But I love my wee kirk on yon bonnie hillside,
Which the conflict, called " Ten Years," has handed
From Erastian bonds Lord, whate'er may betide,
O shine in our Zion so dear unto me !
O grant that she true to her symbol may be
A bush burning and not consumed !
A symbol divine of the Spirit who breathed
At the first o'er the dark formless chaotic void,
And from elements crude, which but weltered and
Formed system and sun, moon and stars, asteroid,
And this earth, which by fire will one day be
And all things therein consumed !
A symbol divine of the God-kindled flame
Which burns in man's breast and gleams in his eye ;
Though he must return to the dust whence he came,
His soul shall outlast all the stars in the sky ;
Created immortal, the soul cannot die,
But will live, and can ne'er be consumed 1
The Earnest Student. 21
For though it is written, and therefore ordained,
By Him who made all things, God, righteous and true,
That "Death came on all men, for all men have sinned" ;
Yet, praised be His name, He reveals to our view
His covenant of life, which He came to renew
At the bush which was not consumed !
Yea, our Covenant-God, ever ready to bless,
Remembered His people in far Egypt land ;
His listening ear heard their cry of distress,
As they groaned 'neath the yoke and the taskmaster's
To lead them out free He gave Moses command
At the bush which was not consumed !
Who could speak of th' oppressions from which since
Countless myriads have groaned ! could we travel
The dark, doleful record, the tale would appal
The horrible cruelty, tyranny, wrong :
The weak trampled down and enslaved by the strong,
Till the last ray of hope was consumed !
But God is our Refuge, and tyrants shall know
That He of earth's princes is both Lord and King ;
Though Pharaoh refuse to let Israel go,
With songs of deliverance the welkin shall ring
When safe through the sea He His people will bring
Up to where the bush was not consumed !
22 Heart Echoes.
And then, in " that mountain," in beauty will rise
The Wilderness Church for thanksgiving and prayer ;
Whence smoke of burnt offerings will waft toward the
And praise to our God fill the wild desert air ;
For His redeemed people shall worship Him there,
As He sware at the bush not consumed !
f be !0rifs Ian.
( PSALM cxviu. 24, 25.)
TT NOTHER da 7 peculiarly Thine own
' * Hath dawned serenely on my opening sight,
With gladsome heart I come before Thy throne
To praise Thy sparing mercy, Lord of Might.
O may the Sun of Righteousness arise
On me this hallowed morn with cheering ray !
Lift my desires to realms beyond the skies;
Where I shall spend an endless Sabbath Day.
Help me, O Lord, to spend this day to Thee
In thankful offerings for Thy mercies given ;
In lowly worship I would bend the knee
To Thee whom angels praise in highest heaven.
The Earnest Student, 23
O bring me to Thy sanctuary, Lord !
Be with Thy saints Thy blessing to impart ;
Help us to praise Thy name, to read Thy Word,
And render Thee true homage of the heart.
And while we listen to the joyful sound
Of Thy rich mercy to our rebel race,
May love, fresh kindling, in our hearts abound
To Him who died to save us through His grace.
Where'er, O Lord, Thy message is proclaimed
To fallen man, Thy gracious power bestow ;
Where'er Thy great and saving name is named,
Convince, convert, constrain the knee to bow.
Soon, soon may every realm and people know
Thy sacred name, and sacred honours pay
To Thee, the Sovereign Lord of all below,
For this end may Thy servants work and pray.
31 Morsbipfiti Spirit.
"I will worship toward Thy holy temple."
PSAJ,M cxxxviii. 2.
T7ATHER of lights, Thy name we bless
^ For this first Sabbath of the year ;
And all Thy loving kindnesses
We will within Thy courts declare.
24 Heart Echoes.
The former year Thy goodness crowned,
And with increase our garners stored ;
Thy covenant mercies much abound,
And bless our homes, and cheer our board.
We praise Thee for the church we love ;
Her pastors, brethren, children dear ;
For Jesus, King enthroned above,
Who, though unseen, is ever near.
Give joy to mourning hearts that grieve
For loss of loved ones called away ;
Poor and afflicted ones relieve,
And be Thou still the orphan's stay.
Oft heard we in the year that's fled
Thy truth proclaimed with glowing tongue ;
In rapt devotion heavenward sped
The prayer oft made, the praises sung.
At Christ's own table too we sat :
No holier joy can mortals feel ;
What hallowed memories linger yet
Of love and grace unspeakable !
Let all Thy mercies, Lord, incline
Our hearts to seek Thee more and more ;
Henceforth we would be wholly Thine
To love, to serve, and to adore.
The Earnest Student. 25
IN AUCHTERGAVEN FREE CHURCH.
COME, Spirit, ever blest,
Into Thy House of Rest,
And bring for broken hearts Thy blessed healing.
Corne, like the balmy spring,
Come as on dove's soft wing,
To weary souls the Lamb of God revealing.
Come, like the sun's bright rays,
Which flood Thy House of Praise
With gladsome light, through every lattice streaming ;
Pour on these souls of Thine
The light of love divine,
Which in Immanuel's blessed face is beaming.
Around the festive board
We meet with one accord,
To keep the ordinance of His appointing ;
Let fall celestial dew,
Baptize us all anew
Thy ministers, as with fresh oil anointing.
O more of Christ to know,
O more like Christ to grow,
As grow the lilies, pure and bright and tender ;
Lord, that our lives may be
Made beautiful for Thee,
By lowly service done in glad surrender.
26 Heart Echoes.
So may Thy rest and calm,
The true soul-healing balm,
Strengthen us for Thy work and witness-bearing ;
That, earthly seasons past,
We meet in heaven at last,
Thy everlasting rest and glory sharing.
" And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we
were with Him in the holy mount." 2 PETER i. 18.
nP to the holy mount this day,
With joy and gladness we did go ;
With eager step bent we our way,
And soon the world was far below.
To us in mercy it was given
To see the Saviour's glory there ;