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poetess got a very practical insight into Irish character in its best and worst aspects; but, notwithstanding many unpleasant experiences, she retains a warm admiration for the Emerald Isle and its people.
After a seven month's residence in Innerleithen, in 1870-1, when the present writer had the pleasure of first making her acquaintance and taking part in active temperance work with her, the subject of our sketch returned to Cork, and, after a three years stay there, came to Galashiels. It was at Innerleithen that her first poem was written, but it was only after her
for the signature “Effie,” soon became very familiar to the readers of the Border newspapers. But Effie's productions were not confined to the local press, for several of her poems appeared in Chambers' Journal and other prominent publications. In 1883, on the suggestion of the late Mr David Craighead, of Galashiels, a volume entitled “The Tangled Web,"containing 132 of her pieces, was published, and the edition of 600 copies was out of print within a year. Alex. L. Brown, Esq., ex-M.P. for the Border Burghs, sent a copy to Mr. W. E. Gladstone, who, through his secretary, thus writes under date
return to Galashiels that her pieces began to appear in the local papers The late Mr. John Russell, one of the editors of Chambers' Journal, and author of that best of Border family histories, The Haigs of Bemerside, was then editor of the Border Advertiser, and took a great interest in the young poetess, giving her much encouragementand many valuable hints. Her first pieces were signed “Epsilon,” and the cause for the change is perhaps to be found in Mr. Russell's letter of 29th October, 1877, where he writes :-"Why not sign your pieces 'Effie?' That would have some human idea about it, but Epsilon means nothing more than a letter of the Greek alphabet." The hint was evidently taken,
13th January, 1885–“10 Downing Street, Whitehall. Dear Sir, Mr. Gladstone is sorry that your note should not have received more prompt acknowledgement. He is much obliged to you for it, and he can assure you that he will not readily forget the kindness he experienced from your fellow townsmen.
“It gives him great pleasure to accept the little volume which you were good enough to under. take to forward to him ; and the young authoress has his sincere good wishes. He is glad she turns to so good account the talents of which she appears to have such good promise ; and he hopes to find time some day to peruse her verses."
The opportunity was not long in coming evidently, for on the 26th February following the secretary again wrote thus:-“Some little time ago, I had the pleasure of conveying through you Mr. Gladstone's thanks to the little mill girl who presented him with her work.
"Mr. Gladstone has now examined the work ; and the examination of it has interested him. He will be obliged if you will let the young authoress know this, and also if you will kindly convey to her the accompanying volume with his best wishes." The book here referred to was selected by Mr. Gladstone from his own library.
The death of her mother, and other afflictions about this time, cast a shadow across her path and resulted in the production of many pieces of a deeply religious character. Many hymns and sacred poems were contributed to English magazines, and Effie was asked to write hymns to be published in connection with the evangelistic work of the late Mr. Spurgeon. Our poetess attended the Keswick conferences and corresponded with many prominent English ladies, as well as with a sister of President Arthur of the United States. Many of the poems above referred to are to be found in a dainty little volume entitled, “Peaceable Fruits,” which was published in 1885.
In 1889, Effie was married to Mr. Gavin Dickson, of Galashiels, and shortly after their union they removed to Peeblesshire, where Mr. Dickson leased the Romanno Bridge Woollen Mill, and more recently they converted their commodious house into the Cyclists' Rest Temperance Hotel, where the devotees of the wheel can find rest and refreshment. Here in this quiet village, three miles from the nearest railway station, our poetess can enjoy nature in its most delightful forms, breathing the caller air of these uplands or listening to the song of the Lyne, a small stream to which she thus refers :
and quaint grave-stones, and from her poem on this peaceful spot we select the following lines :
() RESTING-PLACE, so calm and still !
Meet music make,
Till day-dawn break-
And once again
Your grasp how vain ! The famous Habbie's Howe, with its memories of Allan Ramsay, is within easy reach, and is a favourite resort of the family, for Mr. Dickson was born in Carlops and has aye a warm side to hame. On a recent occasion we were privileged to spend some time in the beautiful Howe, with some friends, Effie being our guide. Through the kindness of a sister poetess, Mrs. Robertson of Peebles, whose literary nom de plume is “ Louisa," we are enabled to present our readers with two views which will help them to appreciate the peaceful calm of Newlands. The registered photos, here reproduced, are specimens of Mrs. Robertson's work as a photographic artist.
The neighbouring Vale of Manor is thus referred to by Kthe :
() FAIR sweet glade ! six years ago
Responsive to my heart.
New gladness of my heart.
The children of thy heart.
Nay, wherefore should I seek to roam
Where fair Tweed leaves its pebbly strand ;
A brighter stream, my native land ?
Where Eildon hills in beauty stand,
So dear to me, my native land. Though we have made quotations referring to scenery only, her poems are full of the heart and the affections. Beautiful glimpses of home life, in which the bairns play a prominent part,
AND still I doubt not as you read,
Its sunny way, past castle gray ;
O'er moor and fen :
Enchanted stream, where poets dream,
Our homeward way,
are of frequent occurrence, but all must be passed by unnoticed. A recent writer sums up a sketch of our poetess thus :-“Minor poets seldom make money by their writings, but Effie has had the joy of being thoroughly appreciated during her lifetime. She knows that she has cheered many a grief-stricken heart; that she has given joy to her readers ; and that she has been understood by those she has written for. Her verses have been read, loved, understood, and treasured by many to whom the poetry of a Browning ora Swinburne would beunintelligible.”
Her message of joy in the present, and calm trustfulness for the future, is well summed up in her lines with which we close this simple tribute to a gifted Borderer :
GOOD-BYE, good-bye-though sharp the sting,
For this good-bye.
Then never more good-bye.
The Two Scboolmasters. 7N the days when the parochial schoolmaster
ruled the youth of Scotland with tawse
and cane, many varied incidents cropped up connected with the selection of candidates when a vacancy occurred in a town or country parish. As a general rule these candidates were educated men, many of them having received a university training, and not a few of them looking upon the parish school as only the stepping stone to the parish church. But there is no general rule without its corresponding exception, and it is with one or two of these exceptions that we propose at present to deal.
On one occasion a candidate for a country school appeared before the minister and heritors of the parish. “Ye'll be weel up in your Latin,
I hae nae doubt," observed the minister looking 'across the table to the candidate.
“Oh yes-very well.”
“ That's guid. Now here's one o' the Odes o Horace
Exegi monumentum are perennius. Let's hear your best translation. Take plenty o'time and do justice baith to Horace and yoursel'."
Undauntedly the candidate attacked the passage selected, “ Exegi monumentum : I have eaten up a mountain.”
“Stop, stop,” cried the minister, after a roar of hearty laughter on the part of the heritors had ceased. “Stop, stop; needless to proceed
any further, ma man. After eatin' sic a denner as that, this parish would be but a poor mouthfu'.. I'm afraid we'll hae to ask ye to look out for a wider sphere than we hae here."
Collapse of the candidate.
"Testimonials” frequently played a conspicuous part in the selection of a schoolmaster. A candidate for a Border parish had got himself provided with such an extraordinary set of certificates of efficiency, that both minister and heritors considered they could hardly go wrong in offering the appointment to such a highly recommended candidate. Accordingly the offer was officially made and duly accepted.
On the morning of the day arranged for re. opening the school after the vacancy caused by the sudden death of the late incumbent, the minister and heritors proceeded to the school for the purpose of introducing the new master to his youthful constituency. The minister, in the course of his address, congratulated the parish, and the youth of the parish, in having been so fortunate as to secure the services of one who, he had no doubt, would prove a most worthy successor to the many eminent men who had held office in that school. He, the ininister, bespoke for Mr. Bird, the new master, that respect and obedience which were due from all who were to have the privilege of studying under him. He had now much pleasure in introducing Mr. Bird.
T he new master thanked the minister for the kind and encouraging sentiments which had just been expressed. He could assure one and all—minister, heritors, parents, and childrenthat he would do all that in him lay to maintain the high reputation which the school had so long enjoyed. “Hear, hear," from some boys who had taken the measure of their new master far more correctly than those who had selected him for the appointment.
After these introductory speeches, minister and heritors retired, leaving Mr. Bird alone with his young subjects. While the latter were being addressed, in a supplemental speech, as to the general line of conduct which he proposed to adopt, a boy interrupted the proceedings by giving a very successful imitation of the soft and mellow notes of the cuckoo. This interruption had the effect of setting Mr. Bird's audience into a general titter, and, on a repetition of the cuckoo notes, ultimately into one loud and upuproarious tumult of derisive cheering and laughter.
“What was that meant for?" asked Mr. Bird, colouring deeply and looking very angry.
“Please sir, a bird," was the reply-a play upon the name of the unhappy schoolmaster.
“Well,” he said, “I don't think that is very kind of you interrupting me in this way. I understood that the children of this school have always borne a high character for obedience and general excellence of conduct. This interruption, however, does not bode a very good beginning.”
The only reply was the repetition of the cry “Cuckoo, cuckoo,” amid still more derisive tumult and laughter on the part of the youthful rebels. Had Mr. Bird only joined in the general merriment and laughter with his subjects, all might have gone on well; but unfortunately he lost his temper, got redder in the face, and finally declared that if the insulting cry were repeated, he would severely punish the boy who dared again to utter it.
No sooner had Mr. Bird stopped than the cry was repeated more defiantly than ever. The poor schoolmaster was utterly helpless. He stood before his pupils in the sorriest plight imaginable-his prestige shattered at a blow, and the threatened punishment laughed to scorn.
“Well, well,” he said, “I'm altogether disappointed in you : a very different reception I expected; but if you don't know how to conduct yourselves properly, then the sooner you are taught the better it will be both for you and me.”
The glimpse of liberty which the more daring of the boys had caught, was too precious a thing to be lightly lost. The cuckoo cry was once more indulged in, and so infectious was the rebellious spirit that the whole audience broke out into one continuous “Cuckoo, cuckoo,” and kept it up for several minutes.
While nothing could justify such rudeness on the part of the youngsters, it was unfortunate for the new master that he displayed such a deplorable want of tact and judgment. His knowledge of human nature seemed to be of the shallowest. He had made a false move at the very outset of his career, and the consequences were simply disastrous. He had lost control of his subjects ; he was utterly unable to enforce obedience, and when a schoolmaster, or ruler of any sort, gets into such a fix as that, the sooner he abdicates his authority the better.
And so Mr. Bird's short reign of only one short forenoon came to an inglorious close. He refused to return to school in the afternoon, left the village, and was never again heard of in the Border country. How his successor fared will be told in another paper next month.
The Wallace Statue at Dryburgb. THE Earl of Buchan who flourished in the
time of Sir Walter Scott seems to have
been possessed with an extraordinary fancy, among other eccentricities, for erecting statues and memorials. Within the ruins of Dryburgh Abbey, of all places, he erected a figure of Inigo Jones, the famous English architect. What was the particular connection, or association, between Dryburgh and Jones, no one seemed able to understand. Nevertheless there stood the statue ; but so incongruous and out of harmony with the surroundings was the white figure of the architect within the romantic grounds of the Abbey, that public opinion voted it a nuisance and an eye-sore. Ere long the statue was removed, stowed away into some underground cell, and left to merited oblivion.
The second effort of the Earl was a “Temple to the Muses” at the end of the Suspension Bridge across the Tweed. In the centre of this erection, there was placed a bust of Thomson, author of The Seasons. A great company had been invited to witness the ceremony of unveiling the bust. When all was ready his lordship took his place in front of the “Temple” and recited a poem which he had specially composed in praise of the genius of Thomson. During the recitation of this poem, some local wag had ventured behind the green curtain, forming the veil, and clapped an old hat on the head of the bust. At a given signal the curtain was drawn aside and the Earl exclaimed, in ecstacy, “Lo, the man!” The old hat, however, was too much for the assembled company who yelled and shrieked with laughter at the unexpected apparition of " Jamie Thomson " crowned in such unpoetic and unromantic guise.
Lord Buchan's third essay was more fortunate. On this occasion, it took the form of a statue of Sir William Wallace, placed on the brow of the Bemerside Hill facing the Eildons and the Valley of the Tweed. There Sir William stands to this day, a gigantic statue in red free-stone, one and twenty feet in height, and in wonderfully good state of preservation after the lapse of more than eighty years. On completing the erection, the work, by the way, of Messrs. Smith of Darnick, the Earl of Buchan was anxious to keep a record of the visitors who came to see the statue. For this purpose he built a “foghouse "close at hand and installed therein, as warden and care-taker, James Barrie, a local poet.
No details of life around him seemed to be beneath the notice of Jamie Barrie. Thus he chronicles such small beer as the undernoted :