« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
characterised by largeness of conception or boldness of execution, but rather by daintiness and delicacy. He liked to be particular. His work is full of detail carefully studied and represented. His choice of subjects, too, was characteristic of the man. He loved the poetry of common life, and had an infinite faculty of extracting pleasure from, and finding goodness and beauty in the humblest persons and things. An old mill wheel, a village street, a country cottage with children playing round the door, or an old man sitting by it. These were subjects he delighted in, and which the magic touch of his brush transformed and glorified. An excellent example of poetical treatment of a prosaic subject is the picture of the cottage at the east-end of Earlston, the birthplace of Mr. Robert Mowat, managing director of W. & R. Chambers, now in his possession.
It was not only in the pictorial representation of existing architectuie that Mr. Heatlie excelled He could also design new work in a competent and practical manner, such as schools, cottages, and churches. Speaking as one who has had some experience in such work, I can honestly say that his designs were extraordi nary productions for a person who had received no architectural training. Some of his designs were carried into execution, and in not a few cases he gave very valuable hints for the improving of buildings while in course of erection. He had an intimate knowledge of all the styles of architecture,—a knowledge at once comprehensive and particular—and could determine accurately what many professional architects even seem never able to do, the possibilities and limitations of every style.
Mr. Heatlie also possessed, in large measure, the critical faculty, and his knowledge of the technicalities of art was very exact and clearly
defined. He was never afraid to give his opinion in art matters, but it was never given in a biting or sarcastic, far less in a mean, or venomous spirit. To his friends in particular, in all his criticisms, he "truthed it in love.'" He judged his own work in a very stern fashion—he gave himself no quarter—but he was ever ready and eager to discern the good points in the work of others.
It is not as an artist, however, but as a man that Mr. Heatlie will be best remembered by those who knew him. He was truly one of the gentlest and most genial of men; beneath his shy and reserved exterior, he hid a very winsome
and winning personality. He was a deeply religious man, ever living "as in his great Taskmaster's eye." As his minister has very truly remarked, "the things of God were very sacred in his eyes." But he spoke not much about his religion, he lived it. A gentleman he was in the true sense of the word, one of nature's own noblemen. Of a highly nervous temperament he was never irritable nor cross; generous he was to a degree; self-denying, self sacrificing, self-effacing. Not without pride of a noble sort, the pride which scorns all meanness and baseness of thought or action, he was yet the meekest of men. Like the Master whom he loved and served so faithfully, he displayed his true greatness by becoming a servant to all with whom he came into contact. No whiter soul than William Heatlie's ever "looked into the light of God's countenance and lived." As a walking companion Mr. Heatlie was simply delightful. Jest and story flowed from his lips like clear water from a perennial spring. He was at home with the flowers of the field, and could name them all. He was an excellent mimic, had considerable elocutionary power, and possessed in large measure the " saving virtue" of humour. In his frequent excursions about the country he had collected a vast amount of anecdote, legend and lore of various kinds, and his recitation of these was irresistibly droll and mirth provoking.
Mr. Heatlie was never of a very robust constitution, and too easily fell a victim to an attack of influenza in the beginning of the year r8g2. His friends erected a memorial stone to his memory in the New Cemetery, Melrose.
The news of his sudden death came to his friends with a shock of painful surprise, and left with them a great and abiding sorrow, a sorrow, not so much that a career of bright artistic promise had been thus early cut short, but that they should not again see his face nor hear him speaking in that voice of slow, deep wisdom which always seemed beyond his years.
A smallish figure, with curling dark hair, good head, and ruddy features, rises up before me, as school-bag on back, with his sister Isabella, he came down from Eildon Hall daily to Newtown School. We came very close to one another. He was so accomplished; he could sit with pins thrust through the lobes of his ears, without wincing; these long flexible fingers of his could sketch "the Maister " on the shortest notice, or lions, tigers, bears or elephants. Also his own rustic home at Eildon Hall, where his gifted and kind hearted father was gardener. He lent me a story by Mayne Reid (to be read after schoolhours on the Bow-Butts) and introduced me to Punch. Our paths diverged, he went in for art, and I for literature, first in selling and then in making books. But I knew he was doing good work in the south country and that the walls of many a mansion and cottage were being adorned with those faithful, painstaking, pleasant watercolours, which reflect so accurately the best of our Border scenery.
In 18911 had asked him to give a paper in connection with the Edinburgh Borderers' Union, his subject being "Border Dialects." His examples were taken from "Watty Wathershanks," "Jack Robson's Courtship," with some good specimens of the dialects of Cumberland and South Durham, at both of which he was inimitable. There was no doubt he was nervous in delivery, but the reading of the pieces in dialect was accomplished in an enjoyable and masterly way. We had a drive together once from Selkirk to his native Ettrick Bridge End; he was the best of guides, and would never allow but that the vale of Ettrick was far superior to Yarrow. I agree with Mr. Anderson as to his being a
cheery and profitable companion. One glowing June day we spent together, while he sketched beneath the shadow of Dryburgh Abbey, and in the evening how he unbent as we crossed from Bowden between the Eildons towards Melrose. His sagacity, wisdom, kindly humour came out then, and you could not wish for better company. Alas that we shall no longer share his cheery laughter, and his wise and tender remarks and stories The best cycling trip I ever had I owed to his suggestion ; that by way of Biggar, Leadhills, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Caerlaverock, Annan, and Longtown,to Brampton in Cumberland. The route was not his, but the destination was, and it formed an admirable centre from which to do the Roman Wall. Twice I spent a pleasant Sunday with him and his sister at Newstead, and shall never forget our quiet walks and talks. From the foot of his garden the vale of Tweed was spread out before him to Galashiels, while to the south the Eildons, like huge mastiffs seemed guarding the vale, and his beloved Melrose Abbey rose up in the foreground, with Gattonside on the other side of the Tweed. Sterling, unassuming, industrious; with a genuine in'iorn gift as an artist, the world is poorer to me now that he is gone, and one can never hope to meet again the same combination of gifts, held in such modestv.
personal 1Recollections of tbe Boroer Countrg.
BY THE EDITOR.
^» AST month I related the incident which led to \ my becoming acquainted with Sir Walter's Ow Lay 0/ the Last Minstrel, and indicated how passionately fond of reading it I was when a boy. Before that incident occurred, however, I knew the scenery of the poem in so far as that was associated with the town of Melrose and with the Abbey : for the most intimate of all my school companions was one of the sons of John Bower, custodier and keeper of the famous ruins.
A blythe and cheery old man was John Bower. Much he loved to point out to us schoolboys the quaint and curious inscriptions that are to be found carved on the walls of the Abbey, and on old gravestones in the adjacent kirkyard. In fact, it was John Bower who first taught us the practical outcome of the Latin language. If we got it in theory at school, we put it in practice (in a small way) within the Abbey of Melrose.
"Come now," the old man used to say, "let me hear ye gae ower this inscription, and gie me the English o' some o'
'The scrolls that teach thee to live and die,' as the Shirra says in the grandest o' a' his poems— The Lay of the Last Minstttl"
The scrolls referred to are the fillets carved across or beneath the figures so plentifully cut on the walls and corbels of the Abbey ruins. Thus, over the beautiful south doorway you can see the half-length figure of John the Baptist, with his eyes directed upwards and bearing on his bosom a scroll with this inscription: "(Sett filius Slti."
"Come now," said John Bower, "let me hear you laddies taigle that passage."
The boldest of the group stepped to the front and began, with a strong flavour of the schoolroom and Ruddiman's Latin grammar, "Ecce, behold: an exclamation of surprise, andthcrefore an interjection. Filius Dei, the Son of God: the latter of two nouns is put 1n the genitive case when"
"Excellently weel dune," interrupted the old man,
Melrose Abbey, and pointing out to visitors the scenes commemorated in The Lay of the Last Minstrel and The Monastery, John Bower had, in a manner, become personally and inseparably associated with these scenes. Washington Irving, in describing his visit to Melrose Abbey, observes that Bower could not bear to hear any of Sir Walter's writings preferred to The Lay. "Faith," said he to Irving, "it's just as guid a thing as Mr. Scott has ever written. An' if he were stannin' there, I'd tell him sae—an: then he'd lauch."
One of the ingenious devices on which Bower prided himself was to take a party of visitors to a particular part of the churchyard from which the finest view of the abbey ruins could be seen as a whole—the view reproduced from photograph
"but I dinna want your grammar rules down here— the simple translation will do for me, without the fal-dc-rals o' syntax."
Turning next to some of the inscriptions on the tombstones in the kirkyard we managed to spell out "I lie facet, here lies ; corpus, the body of so and so."
"Aye," said Bower, "in the Abbey there it's Ecce, behold ; look upward; but in the kirkyard down here it's aye Hie jacct, here lies ; Iookingdownward."
To this day I remember John Bower's little sermon ; short, but to the point, as indicating the two antithetical points of all human life and experience.
It was his association, however, with Sir Walter that made John Bower a remarkable man in the eyes and estimation of us schoolboys. With the old custodier, the fictions and imaginations of the poet and novelist had crystalised themselves into acts. From constantly li\ing beside the ruins of
opposite. Arrived on the spot, he directed hisvisitors to turn their back upon the ruins, stoop down, and look at them from between their legs. This, Bower said, gave an entirely different aspect to the ruins, and was worth coming far to see! No doubt it did, and those tourists who had any sense of humour in them used to enjoy the whole affair immensely. As for the ladies, however, they were directed to look at the Abbey through the loop formed by holding their hand up to their head—an arrangement which was regarded as perfectly satisfactory.
As John Bower piqued himself on showing everything laid down, or described, in the poem, there was yet one passage which perplexed him for a while. This was the well-known advice to visitors:—
If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight.
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins grey.
In consequence of this admonition, many of the most devout pilgrims to Melrose would not be contented with a daylight inspection, but insisted on seeing the ruins by moonlight as well. If moonlight could be had with every evening, there would have been no difficulty in the matter ; but the moon has other things to mind than lighting up Melrose Abbey every night. To meet this ever increasing demand, John Bower called in extraneous aid, and succeeded admirably. Fixing a lighted candle at the end of a long pole, he paraded the ruins, followed by an admiring crowd quoting Sir Walter all the
Here, for the present at least, end these early recollections of the Border country. With the close of my schooldays came the inevitable home-leaving. But she has ever been to me more than a mere memory. I long to visit her on every holiday, and every time that I do so, she seems tome to be more beautiful than ever. What a rich inheritance is she to all her absent sons and daughters who still see her beauty and hear her music whenever the Borderland is mentioned! As I write these concluding lines, the words of Israel in exile come into my thoughts and seek expression, in no irreverent
Through the kindness of Mr. Usher, secretary of the Association, forwarding to us a proof of the thirty-first annual report, 1896, we are enabled to lay before our readers the following extract which has a special interest for all Borderers :—
r^HE annual summer visit of the members and / friends of the Association took place to ^» Earlston on the 2nd August last. The immediate purpose of the visit was to inaugurate the purchase by the Council of the
spirit I trust; "If I forget thee, oh my Border Country, let my right hand forget her cunning! If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!"
Tower of Thomas the Rhymer and the two adjoining cottages. It was evident from the number who arrived in Earlston from the neighbouring towns, and the preparations made in Earlston itself, that the occasion was regarded as one of unusual interest. The town was decorated with flags lent for the occasion by Councillor Cranston of Edinburgh, a member of the Association, under the direction of a local committee. A triumphal arch was erected across the street beside the railway station. Facing the station and against the roof of the centre arch were the words, "Welcome to Earlston," and on the reverse side, '* Thomas Rhymer, 1295, 1895." The arches were
Assembled at the Tower, a large platform was occupied by Mr. James S. Mack of Coveyheugh, chairman of Council ; Mr. Thomas Usher, secretary ; Mr. John Knox Crawford, treasurer ; Colonel Hope of Cowdenknowes; Colonel David MilneHome; Mr. Campbell Swinton of Kimmarghame; Mr. Harold J. Tennant, M.P. ; Mr. Wallace Bruce, late Consul for the United States of America, and others. The general company were congregated in front, or witnessed the ceremonial from the adjoining road.
Mr. Mack introduced the proceedings in a vigorous address, which was followed by the Secretary. Allusion was made to the circumstances which led the Council to take measures for the
thanks was awarded to Mr. Wallace Bruce for his magnificent address. Colonel Hope next delivered an interesting speech, and concluded by proposing the thanks of the company to Mr. Sinclair and the local committee.
A choir under the leadership of Mr. R. Smith, sang "The Broom o' the Cowden Knowes," the accompaniment being played by the Galashiels Brass Band in attendance.
Votes of thanks were then given to the choir, and to Colonel Hope amidst great cheering. Mrs. Hope then proceeded to unveil the tablet, which was designed by Mr. D. W. Stevenson, R.S.A., and has been inserted in the west wall of the Tower. The Tablet was covered by a curtain of Stuart and