« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
morning of Saturday—one short week after the most wonderful discovery that bad been made discovery- The Border Beacon would probably since the days of Thomas the Rhymer, and the have a full report of the whole affair, and set subterranean Palace beneath the triple Eildons. the Border Country ablaze with the news of the
(To be continued.)
Personal tRecollections of the Minstrel, Branksome Tower, Sir William of Border Country.
Deloraine, the famous moonlight ride to Melrose,
and the wondrous scene at the grave of Michael BY THE EDITOR.
Scott, the wizard. [SECOND PAPER.]
Fond of horse-back exercise from my early 'HE mention, in last month's paper, of Peter boyhood, my imagination was so stirred by the
Mathieson and the gentle mare from moonlight ride that I resolved to repeat the
Paterson's auld yad in Hawick, reminds me about the manse, I picked up acquaintance not so that while many of my school companions were much with the minister as with the minister's pony. devoted tỏ rabbits and guinea pigs, to pigeons and She was an affectionate creature of domestic tastes, blackbirds, I seem to have taken a fancy to horses but always ready for a bit of adventure when she and ponies.
found a congenial spirit to share it with her and
Probably this fancy may have been nourished by the reading of Sir Walter's great Border poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel, of which I was passionately fond when a boy. Strolling about the Market Place of Melrose one day during the school dinner-hour, the companion who was with me drew my attention to a placard in a bookseller's window announcing a new and cheap edition of The Lay, at the tempting price of sixpence.
“The Lay of the Last Minstrel for sixpence !” exclaimed my companion. “Let's have a copy." With plenty of pocket-money, he generously purchased two copies, and made me a present of one. Making our way to the old cross at the head of the Market Place, we sat down on one of the steps and there formed our first acquaintance with the aged
take her through it. I mentioned the matter of the proposed ride to her, and she entered most heartily into the adventure. Accordingly we arranged to start from Melrose some afternoon when the moon would be at the full that night, ride over to Branksome, and return to Melrose in the moonlight and by the same route as had been taken by Deloraine.
But the best-laid schemes of mice and men-of boys and ponies-gang aft agley. The minister went away from home before the moonlight came, and as he was to be absent some weeks, and unable to take his pony with him, she was lent to a medical man instead of idling away her time and eating her head off in the manse stable.
By and bye the minister returned home, and when all was comfortably settled in the manse, I, as the
minister's envoy, was commissioned one afternoon the fascination was so intense, and the interest so to proceed to the residence of the doctor, four miles absorbing, that the stable boy was invited to begin away, and bring home the pony. On arriving at again. What might have happened had the stories the doctor's, the envoy found that he was absent on gone on much longer will never be known. a distant professional visit, and that he was not Fortunately, all speculation on that point was expected back till about nine o'clock that evening. terminated by the return of the doctor.
It was in the depth of winter when this incident In his innocence, the envoy jumped up and took place; the frost was keen, the roads were hard imagined that he would get home now. But he was as iron, and the stars--the envoy never remembered doomed to bitter disappointment, for the pony was of seeing such a night of stars before. They in a dreadful state of heat, and steaming at the seemed hanging like lamps out of heaven ; clear, stable door like a limekiln. Before she was able to twinkling, and marvellously beautiful. But the return home she would require to be thoroughly envoy could not stand and gaze at the stars till the rubbed down, get a warm mash for supper, and a doctor's return ; five minutes were long enough on rest of an hour at least. such a night of intense cold and frost. The doctor She too was anxious to get home, for the sight o. was a bachelor, so there was neither wife nor her young friend awoke all her memories of the mother to welcome the young envoy and treat him manse and the minister. “The minister !" she as the representative of the minister. He was exclaimed. “I aye thocht he was a hard rider, but
taken to the kitchen, however, stuffed with a good tea, and treated afterwards to a rehearsal of some of the most blood-curdling stories that he had ever before been privileged to hear. They unsetttled all his tea, and stirred the bulb of every hair on his head, for the doctor's two servant maids crept round the kitchen fire ; and as they knitted away at their “rig and fur stockings, they got the stable-boy to read aloud to them, and what he read was page after page of the Newgate Calendar!
The envoy wanted out, on pretence of looking at the stars, but both the maids detained him on the plea that he would get his “death o' cauld on sic a nicht," and on the additional and still more forcibly urged plea that they wanted “as mony men folk in the kitchen as possible.” It was easy to see that the Newgate Calendar was beginning to unsettle them, too, and render them uneasy. Nevertheless,
he's an innocent bairn alongside o' this deevil o' a doctor."
There was nothing for it but patience on the part both of envoy and of pony ; so the latter went into supper, and the former returned to the kitchen, when the Calendar was laid aside, and busy were the maids in getting the doctor's late dinner ready. When that was set, the doctor failed in his duty by neglecting to invite the minister's envoy to share his dinner with him ; but the maids saw to that and regaled him with “tatties an herrin,” washed down with home-made table-beer called "treacle wheuch."
By and bye, the stable-boy returned to the kitchen, leaving the pony to enjoy her supper after a thorough rub-down. The doctor, too, was enjoying his rest after a hard day's riding, so that his domestics sat down to supper of the same nature as that over which the envoy was still busy. He was saying
nothing, for his thoughts were on the midnight ride that was before him—through the dreaded pass of the Bogle Burn and over the shoulder of the haunted Eildons. Supper ended, he suggested he would like to see the stars, but the stable-boy advised him to remain for half-an-hour longer, as the pony was needing all the rest she could get.
Over the supper in the kitchen, the stable-boy tried to edge in some comments on the Newgate Calendar, but the maids had had plenty for one night. They drifted instead into ghost stories and local legends of Burke and Hare, white wives, warlocks, witches, headless horsemen, and such like
she. “Well, we'll leave him at it. The stronger he brews it, the more likely he'll be able to drown the recollections of this day, for of a' the days that I've been out in, this is certainly the most deevilish. Jump up to your seat and we'll take the road."
She ceased, whereupon the envoy vaulted into the saddle, and giving the pony her head, away she broke-striking sparks of fire from the causewayed courtyard—and regained the high road, along which she bowled with an earnestness which promised soon to annihilate the four miles' space between her and home.
What a night for stars above, what a night for
literature. All this while the envoy was sitting listening, but still contributing nothing to the evening's entertainment. His patience failed him at last, however, and he rose to go to the stable. In the most energetic language of which he was capable, he declared that he must really start for home. Awed into acquiescence, the stable-boy rose and preceded the envoy to the stable, where the pony was beginning to show signs of impatience too.
As she was being prepared for the journey home and led out into the courtyard she caught the eye of the envoy. “ The doctor's at his toddy,” said
action below! In her unerring knowledge of the country the pony warmed to her work, traversed the dreaded pass, climbed the shoulders of the Eildons, and reached her home at the manse without further speech or adventure of any kind. Though the projected ride to Branksome and back to Melrose in the moonlight never came off, I yet derived some consolation from the fact that, instead, I had ridden across the shoulder of the haunted Eildons beneath the stars at midnight.
(To be continued.)
A Monk of Fife.*
BY ANDREW LANG. a CURRENT of fresh, vivid, and wholesome
literature, set in from Scottish heaths
and mountains a dozen years ago, and was welcomed by men of good will as an antidote to the dull and miasmatic drainage which oozed from the “new press,” and which * " A Monk of Fife" by ANDREW LANG :
Longmans & Co.
was eagerly lapped up by the pack of undisciplined readers who mark a transition period. The stream that sprang from the genius of Robert Louis Stevenson has attained breadth, depth, and majesty, since he travelled the Cevennes with his donkey, for the fountain teemed with fresh supplies, which made its cataracts resound, its pools deep and limpid, its reaches silvern and murmurous. But of late years, rills and brooks from other fountain heads away amongst the moors and lochs of the
Scottish border lands have swelled its quickening faith and unfaith. With touches that transport current; a goodly tributary has joined from us to Spenser's realm of Faery, we are made “Thrums," and from over the Borders there cognisant of the very presence of the agents of has swirled in a flashing torrent of heroic heaven and hell in the business that was astir in fiction. All these have filled from bank to bank France. The Maid of Orleans, whose perfect the noble river of the renaissance of the good, faith makes her cause invincible while she can the true, and the beautiful, in romantic literature. command followers who believe and who live in
And now there comes from a borderer, known the camp as in the presence of God, moves before 10 us all, a book unique not so much of its us noble, gracious, alert, brave-her councillors, kind as of its degree, which takes without the messengers from Heaven, her wisdom, claiming high distinction. This book, “A Monk obedience to their behests. The people know of Fife," has come into the world so quietly, so that she leads to victory: a light envelopes her unheralded, with such simple dignity, that we and baffles her detestable foe. It is not from receive it at first without recognising its quality, the English that Heaven stoops to save her, but which is that of an immortal. For its manner from a man who is the agent of evil, as much is not flaunting, but very quiet ; its narrative accredited by Hell, as she is sealed and hallowed does not rush forward on a torrent of confound by Heaven This man, Noiroufle, figures as a ing adventures, but moves with leisure through Franciscan Friar, but is a monster of iniquity the escapades, the joys, the enthusiasms, and and the very embodiment of unbelief. He the sufferings of a brave and single-hearted objects not to the Dauphin's cause, nor to his hero, waxing vigorous and strenuous when it success, but to the Maid and to her holiness. deals of battles, sieges, and deliverances, taking That France may be delivered from righteousness on a sunny iridescence of peace when its matter is to him the one important aim. The battle is of love and loyalty.
is against the Maid herself, and she is all The language, purporting to be transcribed unconscious of her foe. His treacheries, from Monkish French of the fifteenth century his cruelties, his diabolic skill, a kind of dread into educated Scots just favouring the wording humour that distinguishes him, his success in of its earlier guise, has a great charm because it gulling the princes and captains, in spreading never oppresses the mind with a strained revolt against the maid's stern ordinance of antiquity, but carries its rime of eld as lightly as cleanly living in the camp, in undermining the a peach its bloom. We are too much afflicted very safeguards of her cause, and his absolute in these days with a tongue which is neither old impunity in all that he effects make up a figure nor new, but is a device of those who would grim, grotesque, and terrible. The two appear forget the modern degradations of the Queen's in the book piited against each other, the maid English in a dialect of the recluse and of the making for righteousness and nowise knowing study. It is not wonderful that heroes and that the foul fiend in person seeks her life, heroines are sought in centuries whose slang Noiroufie bending every resource of his has evaporated, and for whom a speech may be monstrous cunning to achieve her undoing. His ingeniously commingled not all in defiance of one undefended point is illiteracy; he can neither every law of literature, for what has to-day's read nor write ; but his extraordinary skill as a talk to do with literature, and how are girls to marksman, as a gunner, as a worker of miracles be made immortal, whose favourite adjuration sleight of hand tricks which he passed for is “Buck up!” and whose only eulogy is miracles-his brazen self-possession and his “ripping?” But the Scots of “A Monk of Fife” mastery of every evil device arm him cap-a-pie has no headache in all its pages, and is perfect for mischief. What a picture is that of the in its clear, quiet, competent, unpretending scoundrel posturing as a holy friar, when brought expression.
by the trusting Maid herself to attend Norman The story deals with the part taken by a on what threatened to be his death-bed. “He Fifeshire Scot, Norman Leslie, in the battles and took from his hairy neck a heavy Italian crucifix sieges of France during the two years of Jeanne of black wood, whereon was a figure of our d' Arc's glorious campaign. A quarrel at golf Lord, wrought in white enamel with golden led to his flight from home, chance, in a measure nails, and a golden crown of thorns. Now took him to Bordeaux, whence he set ont for read,' he whispered, heaving up the crucifix Orleans to find his brother, not knowing that he above me. And as he lifted it, a bright blade, was dead and that the city was besieged by the strong, narrow and sharp, leaped out from beEnglish. Two influences governed the time, neath the feet of our Lord, and glittered within made real and personal for the time, engaged in an inch of my throat. An emblem of this false the never-ending conflict of good and evil, of friar it was, the outside of whom was as that of
a holy man, while within he was a murdering recreant prince, whom unbelief paralyses and sword.”
degrades. What wonder that his son was Louis But besides the deep interest of the struggle XI., and that France, faithless in the day of her between the Maid and the fatal unbelief which high calling, passed under the yoke of that minion thwarted her purposes, besides the stirring tale of evil ? of battles, ambuscades, and sieges, there is in Even elderly readers must recapture the light “A Monk of Fife,” one of the most attractive of of other days in the monk's story, and to boys love-stories. Elliot Hume, its heroine, the and to girls it is priceless. One would like to Maid's friend, the daughter of the Dauphin's know that every boy on the Borders had this painter, is fragrant as a growing cowslip in book to pore over, to quote, and to live through, spring, as lavender in summer. She has thelovely to dream of valiance for its saint, and to despise qualities of the maidens whom men dared great the treachery that was her doom. Were it but things to win, and whom they cherished as their rightly read and re-read, then to the Borders life when won. There is no tedious, hysterical we might look for a generation of heroes, in make-believe about her, no levity of heart, no whom courage, courtesy, reverence, and faith sickening wantonness as in the heroines of the had their glad renaissance. drain and the dunghill. She is a woman and a
ANNA M. STODDART. lady, playful, sunny, shy, tender, modest, with gleams of temper and little jealousies which dissolve in generous penitence, with a deep and Some tRecent Border Books. loyal heart, with the pure vision which sees God and knows Him wherever He is. She was PROM Selkirk and Galashiels we have a first amongst women to love the Maid and to
parcel of interesting Border books which believe in her, and the two fair girls fill this merit more than a passing notice. book with their beauty and their goodness. Messrs. George Lewis & Song of the former The story of Norman's wooing and Elliot's shy town, issue a new edition of Dr. Russell's Reavoidance of him, his winning because he was miniscences of Yarrow, one of the most delightwounded in a duel and she betrayed her secret ful works that has yet been published descriptive in an agony of pity, is idyllic. And we rejoice of life and character in that romantic region at the that they were wedded at last, and grieve that close of last and beginning of the present century. Norman's happiness lasted but a year.
This new edition comes to its readers under The Maid presents a picture not less lovable circumstances which have quite a touch of and more heroic. There is no idyll in her story, Yarrow pathos in them: for the editing and but stern warrior's work, for in Heaven not annotating of the volume was the last literary Michael merely and St. George are accounted work of Professor Veitch who died a few days soldier-saints, but a girl in budding womanhood after he had given the finishing touch to the was chosen and invested, not for strength of work. It bears the mark of the Professor's hand arm, but because alone in France she bore the in the verification of dates and quotations, the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. We revision and addition of notes, and several corsee her standing in the farmyard of the windmill rections in the construction of sentences here with head bared, but wearing the rest of her and there. The illustrations by Tom Scott armour, in her hand a dish of corn, and doves A.R.S.A. lend additional charm to this attractive and mavises that flew about her or nestled on volume-a volume without which no Border her shoulder and her breast, while her lips library can be considered complete. moved in prayer and besought direction from We have also another Yarrow book in its Heaven for the morrow. And we see her second edition-Aunt Janet's Legacy 20 her leading her soldiers up the scaling ladders, Nieces, by Janet Bathgate. The Legacy is not storming the gates, calling upon them to follow one of goods and gear, but a record of the her. And alas ! we see her in prison betrayed common every-day events of a life begun eighty to her foes, refusing escape which menaced years ago in the quiet pastoral valley of the another's life, dying at the stake, a hero and a Yarrow. It is a good book in the best sense saint to the last.
of the expression : it has the odour, sweet and This is not merely an unrivalled piece of pleasant, of Burns' Cottar's Saturday Night runhistory, it is a perfect story, its interest con- ning all through it. The pious household of centrated on the little group, Norman Leslie the Scottish peasantry long ago is drawn to the and the painter, Jeanne and Elliot, Noiroufle life- not the sentimental piety that leaves the and a handful of Scots troopers and vagrants. trace of insincerity behind it, but the practical The Dauphin shows at intervals, a laggard and article that was fed and nourished on the Bible