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Victoria tartan, made specially by Mr. Clendinnen secretary of the Border Counties Association,
THE SCENE OF “LUCY'S FLITTIN."
On this subject, introduced last month, a corres1894
pondent gives it as his opinion that the scene of the "' Farewell, my fathers' ancient tower!
famous Border song is not Douglas Burn but The A long farewell,' said he ;
Glen, Innerleithen, and he bases his argument on 'The scene of pleasure, pomp, or power,
the internal evidence of the song itself. His Thou never more shalt be.'"- Scott.
communication is too long to be quoted here ; we After the ceremony, the members of the Associa have space only for one stanza of the song and the tion visited Cowdenknowes, and were taken conclusions he draws therefrom. through the house and grounds by Colonel and “As doon the burn-side, she gae'd slow wi' her flirtin', Mrs. Hope. After partaking of the hospitality so “Fare-ye-weel, Lucy,' was ilka bird's sang. kindly offered, the warmest thanks of the
She heard the craw sayin't high on the tree sittin', Association were conveyed to their hosts by Mr.
An' Robin was chirpin't the brown leaves amang." Mack, seconded by Mr. Wallace Bruce.
“Birds," says our correspondent, “should have A Dinner took place in the Corn Exchange, and been peasweeps if Douglas Burn had been the there were about one hundred and twenty present. scene of the song. There is not a tree worth Colonel Hope occupied the chair, the Vice- calling a corbie's roost in all Douglas Burn except, Chairmen being Mr. Robert Marshall, Mayor of perhaps, a stunted mountain ash about Blackhouse. Berwick, and Alexander F. Roberts, Provost of I never remember seeing a robin there, but if there Selkirk. Amongst those who took part in the had been, I think, Laidlaw was too true to nature proceedings were- Mr. Harold J. Tennant, M.P., not to have written, instead of brown leaves, brown Mr. R. H. Dunn, Mr. Campbell Swinton, Mr. heath, when he localised Robin's song.” Roberts, Mr. Robert Cochrane, vice-president of Then as regards “ The bonnie blue ribbon that the Edinburgh Borderers' Union ; Mr. Alexander Jamie gae me,” our correspondent thinks it quite Laing of the Glasgow Border Counties Association; as likely, as not, that Jamie bought it at Innerleithen the Rev. W. S. Crockett of Tweedsmuir ; Colonel in a shop known at that time as Charlie Braidie's, David Milne-Home, and others.
not very far from St. Ronan's Well. . At the close of the day's proceedings, the Another correspondent, Mrs. George Good, of Edinburgh and Glasgow members of the company Liberton, takes the same view. In an interesting drove in brakes to Melrose, where they caught the letter she communicates much valuable information last train, and left the Border country with many concerning the family of the hero of the song ;. but pleasant memories of that eventful day's enjoyment. it is immaterial to reproduce that information here,
as the point at issue is not the family history of the EDINBURGH BORDERERS' UNION.-The spring song, but its scene or locality:--ED, B. VI. meeting was held on 13th March - Mr. Telfer, president, in the chair. There was an overflowing attendance. The meeting resolved to
Border IAotes and Queries. continue the Reading Room during the summer
NOTES. months, the attendance during the winter having The death is announced at Boldside, near been very gratifying. It was also agreed to form a Galashiels, of Katie Dunn who succeeded her father debating club for next winter. Miss Minnie Bruce five and twenty years ago in charge of the ferrydelivered a very interesting lecture on a visit to boat on the Tweed. From her Occupation, the “ The Dowie Dens o' Yarrow” last summer, in deceased was well known to tourists and others which in a racy manner she gave a sketch of the crossing the river to visit Abbotsford. natural beauties of the district, and quoted the
REPLIES. cream of Scott, Hogg, Leyden, Wordsworth, In last month's number the question was asked:Veitch, Black, and other poets, (including one or “Are the people of Innerleithen justified in claimtwo short pieces by herself), illustrative of the ing their town as the scene of St. Ronan's Well?” scenery and history of the Dowie Dens. The lecture To this we answer in the emphatic language of was illustrated by a series of lime-light views Meg Dods ; “What for no ?” It is too late in the specially prepared for the occasion by Mr. John day to raise this question, though we do live in times Drummond. Mr. Alexander Scott, conductor of when all our cherished notions have over and over the choir, with several members of the choir, sang again to prove the truth that is within them. selections from Mr. Ritchie Whyte's opera of the Fortunately for the limits of our space, nu lengthened “Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow," and Miss Murray and argument is necessary. The Ettrick Shepherd, Mr. G. Hume's rendering of “The Hame Spun Professor Wilson, Henry Glassford Bell, and many Plaidie" from the same opera, was loudly encored. other notable personages selected Innerleithen as The Rev. Mr. Borland of Yarrow, in proposing a the scene of the novel, and had no doubts upon vote of thanks to the fair lecturer, expressed the the subject. Sir Walter even lent his patronage to pleasure he had had at being present. Mr. Usher, the St. Ronan's Border Games, thus proving that he Glasgow : Carter & Pratt, Printers.
at least did not consider the idea absurd. Of course, if we seek for an exact resemblance between the present thriving little Border town and the village of St. Ronan's, as described in the novel, we need not further trouble about the matter, for authors, as a rule, build up their scenes, so to speak, from material brought from various sources. If we get a general likeness we must be satisfied, and as far as we can discover, no other place will meet the requirements so well as Innerleithen. While admitting at once that the social life, as depicted in the novel, has been drawn from other sources, we will endeavour to show a few of the points wherein fact and fiction run on parallel lines. Scott localizes the village of Saint Ronan's thus :-“The situation had something in it so romantic that it provoked the pencil of every passing tourist ; and we will endeavour, therefore, to describe it in language which can scarcely be less intelligible than some of their sketches, avoiding, however, for reasons which seem to us of weight, to give any more exact indication of the site than that it is on the southern side of the Forth, and not above thirty miles distant from the English frontier. A river of considerable magnitude pours its streams through a narrow vale, varying in breadth from two miles to a fourth of that distance. ... Either side of this valley is bounded by a chain of hills, which, on the right hand, in particular, may be almost termed mountains.” Now we ask any reader who has been in Innerleithen if the foregoing description does not exactly tally with his own recollections of the place? But we go further and take up a point which we do not remember having seen noticed by any other writer on this subject. Near Innerleithen are some very fine specimens of those mysterious hill terraces which have baffled the antiquarians so long, and we feel sure Sir Walter had them in his mind's eye when he described the situation of the castle of Saint Ronan's thus :“ On the southern side, where the declivity was less precipitous, the ground had been carefully levelled into successive terraces, which ascended to the summit of the hill, and were, or rather had been, connected with staircases of stone, rudely ornamented.” Even in those early days, Innerleithen was a favourite resort for Edinburgh anglers, and these gentlemen, as a rule, being prominent members of the learned professions would frequently come in
contact with Scott, who was no stranger in the district, for he frequently visited his friend and a manuensis William Laidlaw, who then occupied a farmon Traquair estate As a fitting termination to this reply to “Leithen's ” query, we reproduce
the coat of arms recently adopted as the official seal of the Burgh of Innerleithen. The design is the invention of Mr. George Hope Tait, a native of Innerleithen and a Borderer in whom the artistic element is very largely developed, as we hope to show in these columns at some future time. The design is based on the sign which hung over Meg Dod's door.
TWEEDSIDE LADDIE. GATTONSIDE.-Jamieson in his Scottish Dictionary gives the verb TO GOAM as both transitive and intransitive. In the former sense, signifying to recognise, it is used in Roxburghshire ; in the latter, signifying to gase about wildly, it is used in the Lothians, and it is said to be synonymous with to goave as used in Roxburghshire.
J. M. MACKINLAY, F.S.A.Scot. To goam is generally used in a negative sense ; thus, he never goamed me, i.e., he looked as if he did not know me. In the same sense, a ewe is said not to goam a strange lamb (Roxburghshire). The word does not appear to be exclusively Scotch, as I find it in a list of local words compiled by Mr. Thoresby, Leeds, for John Ray in 1703.
SELKIRK. J. C. A reply to the same effect as the two just quoted has also been received from A. J. B. P.
HAWICK.- Your correspondent “Hawick” makes a curious mistake in asking to be supplied with words for the crowd's part. The “part for the crowds” is evidently here the part for the fiddles. Crowd (otherwise crwth), is the name for an oldfashioned kind of fiddle of Celtic origin. It will be found figured in the Imperial Dictionary. The word crowd, in the sense of fiddle, is also used by, Sir Walter Scott, as, for example, in Ivanhoe, chapter 41.
CAVERS. QUERIES. HAWICK DEAD BELL.—The author of the article on Hawick Parish in the New Statistical Account of Scotland, writing in 1839, says :-“A hand-bell, belonging to the magistrates of the town, may be referred to as interesting, alike from its antiquity, and from the singular purpose for which it was used. On the occasion of every death, it was customary at no very remote period, for one of the burgh officers to proceed through the different districts of the town when, lifting his hat, and ringing the bell at regular intervals, he made the following announcement to the inhabitants, with an air of great solemnity :-'I hereby take ye to wit, that—-, our brother (or sister), departed this lite at---of the clock, according to the pleasure of our Lord.' This intimation being made, accompanied with a general invitation to the funeral, the bell was then taken to the house of mourning and placed, in a spirit of the grossest superstition, on the bed where the dead body was lying, and in a position from which it was reckoned altogether sacrilegious to remove it till the time appointed for the interment." The bell bears the date 1601. Can any reader of the Border 11agazine supply information regarding the present whereabouts of the bell? Is the year known when it was last used for the purpose described ?
: : J. M. MACKINLAY, F.S.A.Scot.
ONTERING the Queen's Park, by St. e Leonard's gate, immediately adjoining
Messrs. Nelson's large printing and publishing establishment, and turning to the right, a walk of little more than a mile brings us to the quiet and secluded village of Duddingston, nestling under shady trees by the side of the loch. Memories of its artist minister, the Rev. John Thomson, still linger about its venerable church. It was the session of this church which honoured itself by sending Sir Walter Scott to represent it in the General Assembly. Passing the Sheep's Head Tavern, of old convivial fame, we reach Sycamore Bank, standing on the highest part of the village, under the shadow of Dunsappie Rock and commanding an extensive view eastwards over the fertile fields of Midlothian. Here dwells the subject of our sketch, and here we received a kindly welcome on our recent visit in connection with this paper.
Few names are better known among Edinburgh Borderers, and throughout the length and breadth of the Borderland, than that of Thomas Usher, who for upwards of 31 years has discharged the onerous duties of Secretary to the Edinburgh Border Counties Association-an association which owes its existence to his initiative, and, to a large extent, its continued prosperity and usefulness to his deep interest in
all its concerns, and his unwearied devotion to its affairs.
As its records shew, the family of Usher has been connected with the Borders for centuries. 450 years ago, one John Usher, was a Burgess in Peebles, and for the last 250 years, the Ushers have been associated with the Melrose district. Some ingenious guesses have been made as to the derivation of the name. One is that the family were descended from an usher in Melrose Abbey, who adopted the name of his office as the family surname. But whatever may have been their origin, the Ushers were resident in Darnick in 1547, and the name is to be found in the records of the parish of Melrose, from 1643 downwards. In 1752, John Usher purchased the Estate of Toftfield, formerly known as Tylehouse, and from him all the present family of the Ushers are descended. The property was sold by Mr. Usher's grandfather, John Usher, to Sir Walter Scott, in 1816, and forms part of the Abbotsford Estate. The history of the family was embodied in an interesting paper prepared by Mr. Usher himself, and read at a meeting of the Edinburgh Borderers' Union a few years ago, and subsequently published This year the Usher family again become Border Lairds in the person of Mr. John Usher, of Norton, who has purchased the Wells Estate in Rulewater, Roxburghshire.