« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Personal tRecollections of tbe
BY THE EDITOR.
describing the character and influence of
son-in-law and biographer of Sir Walter, remarks that few who have seen the Tweed and “mused in the deep shadow of its woods and glens, can fail to feel in after years the beauty and the rapture which these recollections awaken."
This true and beautiful sentiment furnishes the key-note to the following personal recollections of Tweedside. For the Tweed is my native river: 1 have never forgotten her, and, what is more, I never shall. On her banks I was born : in her pools I have bathed : in her streams I have fished. In all her moods and aspects I have seen her, and her voice, as “the sound of many waters," is with me still. The memories of long past years seem only to intensify “the beauty and the rapture” which still stir my heart at the mere mention of her name.
“Time but the impression deeper makes,
As streams their channels deeper wear.” Every Borderer thinks his own native village the most interesting spot in the Border Country and, accordingly, he generally begins there when he sits down to write, as I do now, a few personal recollections of his early years. The starting point of these memories of mine is Gattonside, a charmingly situated village on the sunny slope of the hills facing Melrose, with Tweed's silver stream glittering in the foreground of the picture. The earliest of my recollections take me back to the family fireside where, in the long winter evenings, my father used to relate stories and anecdotes of Sir Walter and Abbotsford-not at second hand, mind you, but personal reminiscences. For my father was at the building of the famous house, and had a hand in transforming the primitive coitage into the “romance of stone and lime” that it afterwards became. The firm of builders, for whom he acted as foreman, had the contract for Abbotsford-it there was any contract at all, which I doubt. It was not erected in a single season, but spread over several seasons according to the means, and according to the fancies, of “the magician who dwelt by the Tweed.” My father had, therefore, many opportunites of seeing and speaking to Sir Walter, and many a chat the two had together. The memories of these chats, and their delightful associations, were often rehearsed in the long winter evenings round the cottage hearth at Gattonside.
With his own hands, my father laid the white and black octagonal pieces of Hebridean marble which forms the flooring or pavement of the Entrance Hall at Abbotsford. This was necessarily slow work, and it was during its progress that Sir Walter used often to draw a chair beside the foreman and sit down beside him for a few minutes' conversation. The laird was greatly interested in all that was going on around him--not only in the work, but in those who were engaged in the work.
lle seems to have been quite in his element while going about among the masons, joiners, painters and others, employed at Abbotsford during its progress.
Sitting down beside my father one day, Sir Walter said, “ I hear some of your men using words which are quite new to me. There are two I want you to tell me the meaning of-cutikins and whomle : what are cutikins and what is whomle?"
It was explained that (utikins meant coverings for the ankles, or cuits, as they are called in old fashioned Scotch-and hence meaning what are now called gaiters. As for whomle it was also explained that it meant to turn anything right over or upside down. Sir Walter seems to have taken a special note of these two words, for he shortly afterwards used both of them in the novel he happened to be writing at the time, namely The Antiquiry. Thus before the Laird o Monkbarns and Lovel set out for Musselcrag, the former exchanged his slippers for a pair of stout walking shoes, with cutikins of black cloth. The other word whomle is put into the mouth of Edie Ochiltree while speaking to Miss Wardour. “I trusted,” says Edie, “to hae gotten a cast wi the Royal Charlotte, but she's coupit yonder, it's like, at Kittlebrig. There was a young gentleman on the box, and he behuved to drive : and Tam Sang, that suld hae mair sense, he behuved to let him, and the daft callant couldna tak the turn at the corner o' the brig : and od! he took the curbstane, and he's whomled her, as I wad whomle a toom bicker.”
While the reading world was wondering who was the author of Waverley, Guy Vannering, and The Antiquary, the masons at Abbotsford seemed to be in the secret. One day as they sat rather long after the dinner-hour, the foreman came to remind them that time was up. “Oh, never mind," observed one of the workmen rising, “never mind the loss o' time--Rob Roy pays for a" At that particular date, Sir Walter was actually hard at work on his novel of that name.
Of Sir Walter's personal friends who survived him many years, I recollect seeing several when I was a boy attending school at Melrose. My recollection of Sir Adam Ferguson who lived at Huntly Burn, between Melrose and Abbotsford, is that of a tall handsome man of soldierly bearing, a fine fresh complexion, with a face on which there was always a pleasant expression-a happy looking old gentleman. In thinking of Sir Adam, I have always the pleasure of reflecting that if I was born too late to see Walter himself, I had at least the pleasure and the honour of seeing one of his most intimate friends.
At Gaitonside House, to the west of the village, there lived another member of the Abbotsford circle. This was Mr. Bainbridge, a great humorist in his own quiet way. I recollect him from his personal peculiarity of having an extra large nose. There is an anecdote told of Mr. Bainbridge in connection with this misfortune-a misfortune, however, which his good humour never allowed him to brood over or make a moan of. One day while walking through the village, a stranger was about to pass him, but being struck with the unusual development of nose, the stranger stopped and indulged
in a prolonged stare at the phenomenon. Mr. minutes, Charlie Brewster got beyond his depth Bainbridge also stopped, clapped his fingers over and, none of his companions being able to swim to the offending nose as if to put it out of the way, his assistance, disappeared with one heart-rending and then quietly asked, “Do ye think ye'll man cry of despair. It was pitiful to hear the agonising age to get past now?”
screams of the boys for the help of the big NewAt the other end of the village of Gattonside, foundland, who had always been with them in the there lived another of Sir Walter's friends—Dr., water on former occasions : but no help came from afterwards Sir David Brewster, whom I used to the tied-up dog, and human help arrived too late. see frequently. I always associate his name with The story of this tragedy, though the actual a very sad affair in his family history. Of a very occurrence took place some years before my time, nervous temperament, Sir David, it seems, had always made a deep impression on me as a boy. always among his thoughts the fear and dread of Often in the roar of the Tweed as she rushes over drowning—not of himself but of his boys.
the weir below “The Allers," I fancied I could hear When looking about for a residence in the the drowning cry of Charlie Brewster. Border Country, a pleasant little property called Of the Abbotsford people I remember John “The Allers" near his native town of Jedburgh was Swanston, the gamekeeper, and Peter Mathieson. brought under his notice. This Dr. Brewster Fresh as yesterday, I can see Peter coming up the thought of purchasing, but with characteristic Market Place of Melrose, seated in a little springtimidity, and the strange foreboding of drowning, he cart and driving a sedate old mare whose mind and ultimately de
thoughts seemclined when he
ed far removed saw a mill-lade
from all earthof strong rush
ly things. She ing water in the
lived in the immediate
past, for she neighbourhood.
had been in the Another place
service of Sir he looked at
Walter, and the near St. Bos
old man sitting wells, but a
behind her was deep pool in
the venerable the Tweed
ex-coachman of again alarmed
Abbotsford. him. At last
Pulling up at he fixed upon a
the door of a finely situated
grocer's shop, mansion house,
Peter descendand grounds,
ed, threw the named Allerly,
reins over the at the foot of
loins of the the Gattonside
mare, clapped Hills a little to
her affectionthe east of the
ately on the village. Think
neck, and calling that the
ed her “my Tweed was at a
bonny woman," safe distance,
and assured and that there ABBOTSFORD IN 1812.
her that he was no fear of
would be back drowning in the stream which he saw glittering in five minutes. All this was said and done as if between Allerly and Melrose, he allowed his boys the mare had been the wife of Peter's old age. to bathe in the river and, apparently got over the Every word addressed to her she seemed to underdread that used to haunt him.
stand, and, in reply, she used to say, “All right, One summer afternoon Dr. Brewster's second son Peter : take your time, there's no hurry.” Charlie, a fine lad of fifteen, set out for the Tweed As the old man went in to the shop to give his along with a number of companions. On going orders, the mare used to look round upon a group down the village street, they stopped at the gate of of school boys who were engaged in speculating a villa where lived a large Newfoundland dog who upon what they would do if they had the free run of had always enjoyed the company of the boys at the grocer's window for only five minutes. Much play, and especially when they went to the river to she loved to look upon the boys, as they probably bathe. But on that particular morning, “Watch," brought her in mind of Sir Walter's children in the as the dog was named, was tied up and the boy days when no sorrow had come to stay at Abbotshad to go without him.
ford. To beguile the tedium of her waiting—for Full of fun and life and glee, the boys entered the Peter was often far longer than five minutes, and river at the usual bathing place-a pool behind the forgot the time when he got“ on the crack wi' the weir and known as “The Allers” from its being grocer”-the mare used to turn her gentle eyes over-hung by a clump of alder trees. In a few upon the writer of these memories and say to him,
“Take a good look at me, and you'll see one who has had her share in the ups and downs of this life. For Peter anme” she continued, lapsing from her usual form of speech, and gliding into
“The soft Lowland tongue o' the Border." “were yince the brawest o' the braw on the great day in Edinburgh when the King cam' to see Sir Walter, and when Sir Walter was a far grander man than the King that day. But that's a past ! Sir Walter lies in Dryburgh, an' Peter an' me canna be lang ahint him."
To this day, I remember the waesome look on
peculiar to the Border Country, for there it is looked upon as nothing out of the common. As an illustration of this, let me mention the case of an auld yad, or mare, who is the heroine of a popular song well-known in the Hawick district. In the song, the mare dictates to her law-agent the terms of her last will and testament. She begins by giving a few biographical details, and seems to bewail the untoward fate that befel her when she was sold by her former master, “the miller o' Hawick" and became the property of “Pawkie Paterson." We regret that we cannot afford the space at present
the auld mare's face. The light had left her eye, and the fire thatonce had burned there in the presence of the great magician was all but extinguished. A forlorn old pair looked she and Peter, as the two left the grocer's door and went slowly down the Market Place on their return to Abbotsford.
I do not know whether there was any witchery in the auld mare and her connection with Abbotsford, but the gift of speech with which she seemed to be endowed was nothing extraordinary, but only and simply natural. Or it may be that the gift is
to go into all the details, but the last two stanzas of the song will give a fair idea of the humour that remained in “Pawkie Paterson's Auld Yad” up to the last.
“An'as or the minister o' Wilton,
His coat is aye sae thin,
I'll leave him my auld skin.
As long as it's dune me :
See how they've guided me.
Photo by Valentine and Co., Dundee an enthusiasm which rises into something like Yad” among the immortals of the Scottish Border sublimity, and places “Pawkie Paterson's Auld Country.
(To be Continued). Glasgow : Carter & Pratt, Printers.