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Leader. Romance reigns in this district ; it is a
tract of country of which it has been said that every
field has its battle, and every rivulet its song.
Nature, too, is here in all her glory. Wherever the
eye may chance to wander it falls on a rich and
varied landscape — hill and glen, field and moor,
forest and river. And there is the added charm of
legend and old-world story. This is the country of
witch-lore and fairy tale. There is history also, dark
and bloody, the revenge of Lauder Bridge, and, long
years before, the defence of Thirlstane, by " Maitland
with auld beard grey." The stream is the haunted
Leader, bounding onward past many a broomy
knowe to the Rhymer's Ercildoune and the silver
Tweed. Surely, here indeed were attractions of
highest value to a poetic soul! and it must be said that
the home of William Brockie's childhood moulded

^ Not at Smailholm, as Dr. Charles Rogers says in the " Motlern
Scottish Minstrel."

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to a very large extent his future career. He received
the rudiments of an English education, with a
smattering of Latin, at the parish schools of Lauder,
Smailholm, Mertoun, and Melrose. In February,
1825, he entered as a clerk the then well-known
office of Messrs. Curie & Erskine, solicitors, Mel-
rose. He was not given his choice of a profession,
and had to submit to his father's determination to
make his eldest son " a gentleman of the law." At
Melrose his lot was by no means an easy one. The
hours were long, the work irksome, the remuneration
scant, and his masters hard and exacting. But the
veriest drudgery is often accompanied with some
charm, and our young law-cleik had his pleasure-
able experience in the office at Melrose. He
enlarged his knowledge of the world and of human
nature, and came much in contact with many of the
master minds of that day. He very frequently saw
Scott, and many of the characters depicted in his
novels ; the Earl of Buchan, of Dryburgh ; Sir David
Brewster, who lived at AUerley, on the opposite
bank of the Tweed ; Mr. G. P. R. James, who had
taken a lease of Maxpoffle, near Bowden ; Mr.
John Gibson Lockhart ; the Ettrick Shepherd ; and
Colonel Ferguson, the author of " Cyril Thornton,"
who resided at Chiefswood.

At this time also, in spite of long hours and hard
work, he found some leisure for self culture, and,
among other subjects, essayed the Muse. Soon,
however, he left for Edinburgh, to assist in the
office which, in consequence of extending practice,

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William Brockie, 165

Messrs. Curie & Erskine had established in that
city. In the metropolis he took every opportunity
of seeing and hearing the leading lawyers and divines
— Lords Jeffrey, Cockburn, Skene, and Moncrieff,and
Drs. Chalmers, Guthrie, Gordon, Henry Grey, and
Andrew Thomson. But the destiny of William
Brockie did not lie in the direction of the law or the
Gospel. When he had completed his articles the
country was passing through a severe commercial
panic, and it was therefore a most inopportune
period to get an engagement or to open chambers
on his own account. Hence he returned home and
farmed with his father for several years, during
which time he applied himself vigorously to private
study, chiefly linguistic and Biblical. In 1841 we
find him at Galashiels as clerk and traveller for a
wholesale establishment, and in 1843 he appears as
a " dominie " in the small countr}' school of Kailzie,
in Peeblesshire. At the Disruption he cast in his
lot with the Seceders, and was appointed to a Free
Church school in Peebles. The editorship, with a
share in the proprietorship, of the Border Watch, a
Free Church journal published at Kelso, was offered
to him about the same time, and this he accepted.
In 1846 the headquarters of the paper were removed
to Galashiels, when, mainly on account of the intem-
perate habits of his partner, Mr. Brockie determined
to get rid of the concern, and it was sold to a gentle-
man who changed its name to the Border Advertiser,
which is still published. This was the first paper
printed in Selkirkshire.

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1 66 Mjnstkelsv of the Merse,

In 1849 Mr. Brockie went to South Shields to edit
the North and South Shields Gazette^ but loss of
health obliged him to forego this work in 1852.
Then he opened an academy, where for several years
he taught a thorough classical education. In i860
he was returned to South Shields Town Council at
the top of the poll, and in the same year was united
in marriage to a very estimable lady, Miss Mary
Neil, daughter of the Rev. Robert Neil, of the
Presbyterian Church at Wallsend. In [862 he went
to Sunderland to edit the Sunderland Times, but ten
years later had to resign this post also through
recurring ill-health. For a time, however, he con-
tinued to write the principal leaders, and contributed
frequently to contemporary journals. He was always
a busy man, an incessant toiler, and, up to the age
of seventy, wrought on an average between seventy
and eighty hours a week. He accumulated an
enormous quantity of material for literary under-
takings, and at the time of his death his library
contained upwards of two hundred bound volumes
of scraps and jottings on a great variety of subjects,
all duly collated and classified under distinct headings
and ready for reference. As a linguist few could
excel him. He acquired a competent knowledge of
all the modern continental languages — French, Ger-
man, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish,
Swedish, ancient and modern Greek ; and, with aids,
could make his way through Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac,
Polish, Russian, Welsh, and Gaelic. Some years ago
he entered into a correspondence with a poet in

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William Brockie. 167

Persia, which was entirely conducted in Arabic. He
was a keen botanist, and was well versed in geology
and natural history.

Besides his literary work for newspapers and
periodicals, William Brockie wrote and compiled a
large number of interesting Border books, chief
among which may be mentioned his " History of
Coldingham Priory,'' " The Gypsies of Yctholm,*' " A
History of Shields," "The Folk of Shields," "Legends
and Superstitions of the County of Durham," "A
Day in the Land of Scott," " Leaderside Legends,"
" The Dark and the Dawn : A Poem," " The Con-
fessional ; and Other Poems," etc., etc. As a poet
he does not attain any high eminence. His style is
not the most attractive, and at times the thought
tends to become mystical. But there are many
pleasing rhapsodies, and one feels that beneath the
surface there is, after all, a heart that understands
the deep things of life — its joys and sorrows —
that can sympathise very fully with a brother
man in all the relations of his being. He is best
in the Scotch pieces that comprise a part of his
poetical musings, and delights to dwell on the
scenes and incidents of early life in his beloved

Lawther East Mains.

I wadna gie the braes of Boondreich,

That I used to speel langsyne,
For the olive groves of Lombardie,

Or the vineyards o' the Rhine.


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1 68 Minstrelsy of the Merse,

I wadna gie the auld toor perk,
Wi' its ruin bald an' grim,

For the ducal palace o' Dalkeith,
Wi' its lawns and gairdens trim.

I wadna gie the witches' thimmles.
That grew near Howmeadows well,

For the fairest floors that florists prize.
Or the royal rose itsel'.

I wadna gie the laich herd's hoose,
Where I suppit nettle kail,

For the biggest and the l3onniest ha'
r the Merse an' Tibbidale.

There's nae place like ane's native place,
Nae hame like ane's first hame ;

It mattersna hoo puir an' cauld,
Oor love is a' the same.

We're drawn by some mysterious tie
That nae man e'er defined.

To the sacred spot, hooe'er remote,
WTiere licht first on us shined.

An' sae of a' the wide, wide warld,

Scotland I loe the best,
An' dearest to me o' Scottish streams

Leader dings a' the rest.

An' frae a' the ferms upon its banks
I'd turn to Lawther East Mains,

Tho' nane that kens or cares for me
For miles aroon* remains.

It's no that it's sae bonny a'bit
That nane wi't can compare ;

I ken there's nae great beauty in't,
But then it has what's mair :

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William Bkockie, 169

A loving mother's gentle e'e

There first waked luve i' mine ;
A gallant feyther's form first there

To me appeared divine.

There first I heard the name o' Him

That made the bonnie floors ;
There, first I saw the virgin snaw,

An' the sparklin siller shoors.

Gae wa ! gae wa I I pity ye a'

That's been broucht up in loons ;
Nae wonder that ye' re timmer tuned,

Preekt, pauchty, pudgel loons !

Ver bairntime amang styfe and reek

In clarty closes spent,
Ve scarce e'er saw the green, green gersc,

Or the clear blue firmament ;

Ve never heard the bumbee's drone,

Nor the hurcheon's waesome cheep,
Ye never gumpt in a burn for troot.

Or fand a young peas weep.

Ye never gat a drink o' milk,

Sweet as it cam frae the coo ;
Ye never built a rabbit hoose,

Or fed a rookety doo.

Ye never watcht the fleeing ether

Abune the mossy stank,
Or saw the huerunt catching eels

Amang the reeds sae rank.

Ye never climbed a high hill tap,

To see what ye could see ;
Ye never played hael simmer days

On the bloomin' clover lea ;

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lyo Minstrelsy of the Merse,

Ye never saw the Will o' the Wisp,
Nor the flickerin Northern Lichts ;

Ye ne'er crap roon the kitchen fire,
r the lang wild winter nichts.

Ye never made a string o' beads
O' the rountree berries ripe ;

Ye never blew a plane-tree whussel
Or a green yit-stalk pipe.

A grown-up man may thrive in a toon,
An' gather goud an' lair.

But ilka young thing sud enjoy
The caller country air.

Better than schules and colleges
Are hills and valleys green ;

For maist o' yer pedantic lore
I wadna gie a preen.

Ye learn the Greek an' Roman names
O' things ye never saw.

While aboot real existences
\"e ken maist nocht ava.

For me, I had experience,
Ere I was three year auld,

O' things that at the present, keep
My hairt frae turnin' cauld.

An' hoo can I forget the place
Where that experience grew ?

I wadna gie the memory o't
For a' that Nevston knew.

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William Bkockie. 171

Ve'll Never Gang Back to Yer Mither Nae Mair.

[New words to a favourite Scottish air.]

What ails ye, my lassie, my dawtie, my ain ?
I've gien ye my word, an* I gie ye't again —

There's naething to fear ye,

Be lichtsome and cheerie,
I'll never forsake ye, nor leave ye yer lane.

We're sune to be marriet — I needna say mair,
Our love will be leal, tho' our livin' be bare ;

In a hoose o' our ain.

We'll be cantie an' fain.
An' ye'll never gang back to yer mither nae mair.

We needna be troublet 'fore trouble be sprung,
The warld's afore us— we're puir, but we're young ;

An' fate 'ill be kind

If we're willint in mind,
Sae keep up yer heart, lass, and dinna be dung.

Folk a' hae their troubles, and we'll get our share,
But we'll warsle out throo them, and scorn to despair ;

Sae cheer up yer heart.

For we never shall part,
An' ye'll never gang back to yer mither nae mair.

While we live for each other, our lot will be blest,
An' tho' freens sud forget us, they'll never be missed ;

We'll sit doon at e'en

By the ingle sae bien.
An' the cares o' the warld 'ill a' be dismiss'd.

A couple that strive to be honest and fair

May be rich without siller, and guid without lair.

Be gentle an' true.

An* ye'se never need rue.
Nor sigh to win back to yer mither nae mair.

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172 Minstrelsy of the Mekse,


THE following sweetly pathetic lines were written
by the first wife of Sir Hugh Hume-Campbell
of Marchmont, Bart. She was Margaret Penelope,
younger daughter of John Spottiswood, Esq., of
Spottiswood, and sister of Lady John Scott. She
died i6th October, 1839. Dr. John Brown, in " Hora^
Subseciv^e," after quoting the song, says : " Can the
gifted author of these lines and of their music not be
prevailed on to give them and others to the world as
well as to her friends ? "

When Thou art near Me.

When thou art near me
Sorrow seems to fly,
And then I think, as well I may,
That on this earth there is not one
More blest than I.

But when thou leav'sl mc
Doubts and fears arise,
And darkness reigns
Where all before was light.
The sunshine of my soul
Is in those eyes,
And when they leave n.e
All the world is night.

But when thou art near me

Sorrow seems to fly,

And then I feel, as well I may,

That on this earth there dwells not one

So blest as I.

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^ Thomas Knox, 173


THOMAS KNOX was born at Greenlaw in
June, 18 1 8. He was educated at the parish
school, and at the very immature age of thirteen was
apprenticed to a firm of haberdashers in the High
Street of Edinburgh. Upon completing his term in
this establishment he entered a large warehouse in
Dundee, where he remained for several years.
During this period he exerted all his powers towards
his self-improvement, and read and wrote extensively
on subjects of passing interest. He took, for
example, a prominent part in the agitation for
shortened hours of labour in factories and shops, and
was instrumental in securing a great reform in this
direction. In 1843 he started, along with two
partners, the well-known metropolitan firm of Knox,
Samuel & Dickson, which soon grew to great extent,
requiring large premises, and at one time nearly a
hundred assistants. Notwithstanding the enormous
labour thus entailed on his time and attention, he
took a very active share in the work of various
public movements. He was a vigorous temperance
advocate, and did yeoman service to the cause in a
multiplicity of ways. He espoused the sad lot of
the poor, and drew public attention to the pitiful
condition of the low and lapsed masses. His
" Modern Chronicles of the Canongate " and " Social

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174 Minstrelsy of the Merse.

Glimpses of Edinburgh" were not without their
influence in urging on Dr. Guthrie^s Ragged School
system and Dr. William Chambers's well-known
Improvement Scheme. He was one of the founders
of the Association for Improving the Condition of
the Poor, the Industrial Brigade, and Night Asylum
for the Homeless. It might, in short, be said that
Thomas Knox allied himself in a spirit of heartiest
practical sympathy to every institution whose object
was the temporal and moral elevation of the poor,
the oppressed, and the sinful. He was, too, a
devoted and energetic friend of education, and a
strong upholder of its compulsory enforcement. He
became a member of the Merchant Company of
Edinburgh in 1856, passing through the offices of
Assistant, Treasurer, and Master, and while thus
connected inaugurated that special work which has
made the Company's schools famous all over the
land. He also took a prominent interest in the
Watt Institution and School of Art — now the Heriot-
Watt College — and his last work before retiring to
rest on the night of his death was to draft the annual
report. With other societies he was intimately
associated, such as the Royal Society of Arts, the
Geological Society, Edinburgh Border Counties
Association, and Borderers' Union. He was a man
of social disposition, warm-hearted and generous,
true to the core — " one of Heaven's own aristocracy."
His death occurred with startling suddenness on 4th
December, 1879. He was buried in the beautiful
Grange Cemetery.

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Thomas Knox. 175

Thomas Knox lived a life of sweet self-denial.
Not for the ambition of receiving plaudits from men
did he struggle bravely up life's steep ladder, but
from the grand desire, so strongly implanted in his
own manly heart, of benefiting humanity in his day
and generation. He wrote :

Press on ! press on ! nor doubt nor fear,
From age to age this voice shall cheer,
WTiate'er may die and be forgot,
Work done for God ii dieth not.

And these lines truly express the only motive of his
high-toned and public-spirited career.

A collection of Knox's poems, of which he wrote a
large number, mainly on religious and temperance
themes, was issued some years ago by William
Tweedie, of London, the well-known temperance
publisher, in a small volume of ninety-six pages
bearing the title, "Rhymed Convictions in Songs,
Hymns, and Recitations, for Social Meetings and
Firesides, by *Walneerg;'"^ and in 1880 the Messrs.
Parlane, of Paisley, gave to the public a thin quarto
of " Scottish Temperance Songs to Scottish Airs," by
Thomas Knox. From the introductory note to the
latter publication we cull the following sonnet by
Professor Blackie, which appeared in The Scotsman
a few days after Thomas Knox's death :

^ " Walneerg" is simply the name of his native village spelled back-

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176 Mjnstrelsv of the Merse,

0.\ Seeing a Photograph of the Late Thomas Knox.

And art thou he — a shadow, a grey sign

Of him who late, in fulness of a man,
Stood forth all fresh and strong in every line

That with the Godhead links the human clan ?
But yesterday, in proud view of this town.

Loved by the good and honoured by the wise.
Now dimmed, disthroned, and cast obscurely down

'Neath the cold earth, hid from all human eyes !
O, my dear brother, were the power with me

To make thy name live with far-sounded men,
I'd pour thy praises forth as full and free

As the well gushes from the cloud-capt Ben :
But I am weak : and with my tears alone

Can tell how much I lack when thou art gone !

Undying Work.

Though chilling years have o'er us rolled.
Warm at our hearts this faith we hold :
Whate'er may die and be forgot.
Work done for God it dieth not !

Though scoffers ask, Where is your gain ?
And, mocking, say your toil is vain !
Such scoffers die and are forgot.
Work done for God it dielh not !

Press on, true men can never fail,
Whoe'er oppose, ihey must prevail ;
Opponents die and are forgot.
Work done for God it dieth not !

Press on ! press on ! nor doubt nor fear,
From age to age this voice shall cheer,
Whate'er may die and be forgot,
Work done for God it dieth not I

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Thomas Knox, 177

Earth an Eden-Bower.
^iV— "My love is like a red, red rose."
Oh, earth is yet an Eden-bower,

Where man may happy be,
Creation's glories are his dower,

By mountain, sky, and sea.
But chiefest joy to man e'er given

Is hame wi' a* its bliss ;
A mother's love, there, emblems heaven.

There childhood's angel-kiss.
There childhood's angel-kiss, my dear,

There childhood's angel-kiss ;
A mother's love, there, emblems heaven,

There childhood's angel-kiss.

Yes, earth is yet an Eden-bower,

Where man may happy be,
Still sweetly blaws the auld wall-flower,

And waves ilk forest tree.
Still Eden's milk-white thorn appears

To deck the puir man's yaird ;
The thistle stands wi' bristlin' spears.

His cottage door to guard.
His cottage door to guard, my dear, •

His cottage door to guard ;
The thistle stands wi' bristlin' spears,

His cottage door to guard.

On earth we'll keep an Eden-bower,

And happy will we be,
Our lives make fragrant as the flower.

Majestic like the tree.
Round a' thing guid and a' thing kind

Our hearts shall ever twine ;
We'll fling a* wicked things behind.

And maist make life divine ;
And maist make life divine, my dear.

And maist make life divine.
We'll fling a' wicked things behind.

And maist make life divine !

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lyS Minstrelsy of the Merse.

The Tree and the Storm.

[Hitherto unpublished.]

I've seen the storm with anger beat

Against the lonely tree,
Until it swung and groaned as if
In mortal agony !

Then sudden lift itself erect,

Again defiant look,
As though the tempest's giant grasp

In scorn away it shook !

Swift back the raging blast returned,
And leapt upon the tree.

And, as two wrathful warriors.
They wrestled furiously !

And deeper still the gallant tree

Planted its mighty feet,
As rushed and roared the savage storm,

And bough and stem did beat !

Till pithless branch and sapless leaf
On high were hurled like dust,

Woe to the lonely wrestler,
Had these been all thy trust !

But as they closed in sternest strife,
And twig and leaf fell fast,

Still stronger seemed the smitten tree,
And feebler seemed the blast !

At last the tree, with lighten'd arms,
Could all the storm defy.

And mocked him back into his caves,
A baffled enemy !

The calm returned, the tree remained,

Majestic more by far.
The fading, worthless, only went

In that tempestuous war !

Thus, thought I, fickle friends may leave
On Truth's rough battle-day.

Yet nearer be the victory
\Vhcn such have passed away !

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Rev, Andrew Cunningham. 179


ANDREW CUNNINGHAM was the youngest
son of William Cunningham, banker in Duns,
and cousin of the eminent Principal Cunningham, of
the Free Church College, Edinburgh. He was born
at Duns in 18 19, and received his education in the
academy of that town, Edinburgh High School, and
the University. Passing through the curriculum for
the ministry in the Church of Scotland, he was licensed
in 1842, but taking to the Free Church party, he was
in the following year ordained to the pastoral charge
of the first Free Church at Dundonald, in Ayrshire.
There he remained for two years, when he accepted
a call to the newly-formed congregation at Eccles,
in his native county, over which he faithfully presided
until his death.

He was known as an able preacher, a devoted
pastor, and a warm-hearted friend. He was a
valued leader in ecclesiastical affairs, and took a
prominent part in every movement tending to the
fuller development of his Churches work in the sphere
of social reform. He was a skilful scientist, and he
wrpte poetry occasionally as a recreation. His
musings are chiefly in the sonnet form, and indicate
refined taste, good thought, and a capability of rising
to higher achievements in the divine art of poesy.

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i8o Minstrelsy of the Merse,


A king of men behold : a man in truth —

Ay, every inch a man ; a spirit bold

But noble ; brave and warm of heart— not cold,

Not rough, unfeeling, rude— who, in his youth

To generous learning gave his soul away

With all a lover's deep devotion : who

Stood for his country and his kind ; and through

Evil and good report upheld the sway

Of what was true and just ; and founded all

On Christ's Evangel pure : having no fear

WTiat man could do : and not prepared to fall

And worship despots even if death were near :

Not moved by blandishment in royal call.

Nor by fair face wet with deceitful tear.


Strong monk of Wittenberg, thy bomely face

And firm-set figure are the very type

Of what thou wroughtest for all time : the trace

Is still of thee, and of thy sturdy gripe

Even on the Book thy labour first revealed

To Europe and mankind : God's truth, concealed

By priestly guile, thou forth in language ripe

Did'st send to German homes : and darkness fled

From half a world : and Rome's blood stood congealed -

Her very heart ceasing to beat, stone dead

In blank dismay, while on the message sped

From town to castle ; they who in the field

Trained vines, or tilled the ground, the toil-bent head

Raised heavenward as they read in straw-roofed shed.

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John Gibson. i8i


JOHN GIBSON, son of James Gibson and Barbara
Muir, was born at Greenlaw, 24th December,
1 8 19. After leaving school he wrought for a
number of years with his father, who, for nearly
half a century, carried on a tailoring business in the
village. Latterly, he was employed as a colporteur
under the Religious Tract Society of Scotland,
during which period he resided at East Lintpn. In
early life he showed indications of poetic taste, and
contributed frequently to local newspapers. In 1875
he published a volume of his productions under the
title of " Poems, Grave and Gay," which had a wide
circulation.^ He was a man of high character and
sterling worth. His poetry echoes with honest senti-
ment and breathes a spirit of feryent piety, while
here and there, in his lighter moods, he is exceedingly
happy, and displays many excellent touches of bright,
racy, good humour. Gibson died at Edinburgh, in
January, 1882.

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