« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Mr. Thomas Usher was born at u Brown Square, Edinburgh (then a fashionable locality shortly afterwards partly removed in connection with the formation of George IV. Bridge) on 11th February, 1826, so that he has already passed the allotted span, but his spare form and undiminished energy, and mental vigour, promise that he may yet have many years of health and usefulness before him. His father was James Usher, S.S.C., eldest son of the last Usher of Toftfield, so that Mr. Usher is entitled to precedence as being the head of the Usher family. His father died at the early age
received an appointment in the County Buildings (Justice of Peace Department) and a few years later obtained a transfer to the Edinburgh Sheriff Court House where he has remained ever since, and where he still performs the duties of his office. His wife, Eliza Macfarlane, died about four years ago leaving him with two sons and two daughters.
As a young man, Mr. Usher took much interest in Literary and Debating Societies, filling the offices both of secretary and chairman, and prepared and read numerous essays and papers on different subjects. One of these
of 43. His mother was Mary Gray, daughter of societies, in which he played a conspicuous part, the Rev. Thomas Gray, minister of Broughton, was the Edinburgh Young Men's, and while Peeblesshire, and thus on both sides Mr. Usher connected with it, he arranged for lectures by is a Borderer. When still a lad, Mr. Usher such well known men as George Combe, Rev. spent two seasons at Tweedsmuir Manse, the Dr. Maurice, Rev. Dr. Robert Lee, Dr. George home of his maternal aunt, wife of the minister Wilson, Rev. Geo. Gilfillan and other celebrities. of that parish, and it was there his love for It was while chairman of this society that he Tweedside and the Borderland was first gave his first public support to the Free Library awakened, a love which has never weakened, movement-a movement which he has since but has gone on increasing until at last it is the consistently advocated. He assisted at the two ruling feature of his existence.
unsuccessful plebiscites in Edinburgh prior to After being educated in Dr. Andrew's School, Mr. Carnegie's donation of £50,000, which in Nicolson Square, and elsewhere, Mr. Usher ultimately induced the rate-payers to adopt the Act; and in connection with the application of work he has devoted an amount of energy, the Act to rural districts, he had a correspond- perseverance, and patient, ungrudging toil, of the ence with Sir George O. Trevelyan, then Secretary amount of which few can form any just confor Scotland, which resulted in the Consolidating ception, and which should receive for him the Act of 1887. The last Act (1894) which enables gratitude of all true Borderers. His best reward, Town Councils to adopt the Free Library system however, is to be found in the success and after notice and without a meeting or poll, prosperity of the Association for which he has introduced by Mr. Dalziel in the House of done so much. The history of its inception is Commons, and by Lord Tweedmouth in the interesting. Spending a pleasant holiday at House of Lords, was also largely the result of Glenluce, in Wigtonshire, he one day saw at a his labours.
friend's house a number of handsome books sent In ecclesiastical matters, Mr. Usher has always by the Galloway Association for distribution as taken a broad and liberal view, and has prizes to the school children. At once the advocated the “voluntary principle," although thought struck him, why has Roxburgh not such
connected with the Established Church. He is a member of his friend Mr. Oliver's congregation at Portobello, and frequently attends Old Greyfriars on Sunday evenings, to hear Dr. Glasse, with many of whose views he is in sympathy. He was a member of Presbytery for several years, during the “Lee Controversy," and always supported, and sometimes spoke in favour of what were then considered “innovations,” but are now recognised common practices.
But it is in connection with his work as Secretary of the Edinburgh Border Counties Association, that Mr. Usher's claim to a place in the Border Magazine chiefly rests. To that
an Association ? On his return to town, he ventilated the subject in the Daily Review, and received a hearty response. Berwick and Selkirk claimed admittance, and ultimately the Association was formed on its present basis in the year 1865—the town of Berwick-on-Tweed being admitted a few years later at the request of its then Mayor, Mr Purvis, and Dr. M'Laggan. Mr. Usher was elected Secretary, a position for which his previous training peculiarly fitted him, and which he has held ever since. Chief among those who assisted at these first meetings was Mr. R. D. Turnbull, of the National Bank, who did much good work, and was elected first
Treasurer of the Association. Mr. A. S. Michie of the Royal Bank, now in Glasgow, Mr. George Tait, Edinburgh, Mr. Arthur Dickson, now Solicitor, Montrose, Mr. John Telfer, now President of the Edinburgh Borderers' Union, and several others, took part in those early meetings. Launched under most favourable auspices, with such men as Lord Jerviswoode, Mr. Campbell Swinton, of Kimmerghame, and Lord Tweedmouth, as Presidents, Sir David Brewster, Mr. Milne-Home, of Milne-Graden, Professor Veitch, Sir George B. Douglas, Bart., etc., as Vice-Presidents, and Mr. Thomas Knox, J.P., Mr. Nenion Elliot, S.S.C., Clerk of Teinds,
to mention that during all these years, not only has the Association been distributing large numbers of Book Prizes throughout the Border Schools, but year by year, it has been granting Bursaries, and Technical Scholarships, to the very best Border scholars, enabling them to continue their education, and qualify themselves for higher positions in life. Their yearly excursions have familiarised the members with the best of Border scenery, history and romance, while the annual dinner has promoted social feelings and good fellowship. But there are several outstanding features, not falling under the ordinary working of the Association, yet
and Mr. Jas. S. Mack, of Coveyheugh, as Chairmen of Council, the career of the Association has been one of continued advance. ment and prosperity, until it has now a membership of 520, (including not only all the leading Borderers in Edinburgh, but most of the leading landed Proprietors, Manufacturers, Solicitors, and Merchants, in the Border Counties), and accumulated funds amounting to something like £2,500. During these years, the history of the Association, and the history of Mr. Usher, are inseparably connected, and we propose to leave it to some abler and better qualified pen than ours to tell the story. Suffice it now merely
intimately associated therewith, and in these, Mr. Usher has nobly borne his share of work. We refer to such matters as the celebration of the Sir Walter Scott centenary, in 1871, the John Leyden centenary, in 1875, the Sir David Brewster centenary, in 1881, and the Thomas Carlyle centenary, last year. In all these, Mr. Usher acted as Secretary to the Committees of Management. The “Scott” centenary was the first and largest, and was a magnificent success. The work which it entailed upon the Secretary, including, as it did, correspondence with public and literary men throughout the world, must have been enormous, and nothing but his love
for Scott and the Borderland could have enabled author still lives, and the writer has frequently him to carry it through. As he remarks in his urged him to issue a new and revised edition of history above mentioned, “It was curious to his poems, adding others that have seen see the eldest grandson of the last Laird of the light only in fugitive forms. It is hoped Toftfield, Secretary to Sir Walter's centenary that this may yet be accomplished. The poet celebration, and labouring to do his memory removed from the Border district to Bridge of and reputation all the honour possible.” The Allan in 1854. For some years he has resided “Leyden” and “Brewster” celebrations were in Stirling, where he enjoys a vigorous and carried through under the auspices of the hearty old age, his interest in literature, and Association alone, and the “Carlyle” one with especially in poetry, being unabated. Few have the assistance of the Dumfriesshire, and other a more intimate knowledge of the ballad poetry County Associations interested. Other special of Scotland than he, and his command of the matters worthy of note are the Handicrafts' native Doric is extensive—the local press being Exhibition, at Hawick, in 1887, the purchase of witness to his occasional contributions both in the Rhymer's Tower, at Earlston, which was poetry and prose. An ardent disciple of Isaac inaugurated last year, and the purchase of Walton, the stalwart form of our poet is wellLeyden's Cottage, at Denholm, which is to be known on the banks of the Forth and the Allan, celebrated in August next. In all these matters, and even farther afield. Mr. Usher's services have been given freely and Now, however, for the poem itself which is as ungrudgingly, and they truly have been “labours follows: of love."
In a howm, by a burn, where the broon birks grow, Tested by ordinary standards of worldly
And the green ferns nod when the wild winds blow, wisdom, Mr. Usher's life may not have been so
Stands the roofless kirk in the auld kirkyaird, successful as some of his contemporaries, but he Where the gowans earliest gem the swaird ; has the satisfaction in his declining years of And the grey, grey moss in ilk cauld throchstane looking back on a life, not of sordid striving for Shrouds in oblivion the lang, lang gane ; the accumulation of wealth and personal Where the ance warm heart is a cauld, cauld clod,
And the beauteous and brave lend a green to the advancement, but of ceaseless activity and
sod, earnest work for the benefit of his fellowmen, a
I nis fellowmen, a
On a time-worn tower where the dun owls dwell, record of work which few can equal. And he Tuneless and torn hangs the auld kirk-bell. retains not only his own self respect, but the On the auld kirk floor is the damp night-dew : respect and gratitude of his fellow Borderers, Where warm words flow'd in a worship true and while the Edinburgh, Border Counties To the sigh o' the breeze, and the hum o' the bee Association endures, the name of Thomas As it wings and sings in its taintless glee, Usher will not be forgotten.
Through the nettles dank to the thistles red
And it plies its task on the wall-flowers tall,
That wave in the choir and bloom on the wall;
Then soaring away, with a sweep and a swell, ROBABLY the readers of The Border
It covers its combs in the auld kirk-bell.
By the crumbling base of the auld kirk tower, panying verses on “The Auld Kirk Bell.” Is the broad-leaved dock, and the bright brae-flower: They were composed by John Halliday, author And adders hiss o’er the lime-bound stones, of “The Rustic Bard,” published in Galashiels And playfully writhe round mouldering bones : during the year 1847. Mr. Halliday was born The bat clingeth close to the bind-wood root,
Where its gnarled boughs up the belfry shoot; in the neighbourhood of Hawick in the year
As, hiding the hand-works of ruthless time, 1821, and began to write verses at an early age,
It garlands in grandeur and green sublime his contributions being accepted by journals
The hoary height where the rust sae fell,
The boaru bejght whe principally of local circulation. His poems and Bends as with a burden the auld kirk-bell. songs found general appreciation, and he was
Oh, red is the rust! for ruin hath come urged by his friends to form them into a collec
To the auld kirk-bell-ance and ever 'tis dumb! tion and send them forth to the public. This On the brink o' the past 'tis awaiting its tomb; he did in the volume already mentioned. It is For a waff o' the wind may awaken its doom ; a well got up volume; but there are, in the And bearing its fragments all dust-like away
To blend with the water, the wood, and the clay, letterpress, evidences of insufficient revision
Till lost in the changes of manners and men, either before or during the process of printing.
Nane will remember--ne'er ane will kenConsequently blemishes appear, grammatical
That a joyfu' jowl and a waefu' knell and otherwise, that might have been avoided As it swung ha'e been sung by the auld kirk-bell. had a little more care been exercised. The
Border Battles and Battlefields. course of action. They divided the army into BY JAMES ROBSON,
two portions; the one, and that by far the more Author of "Churches and Churchyards of Teviotdale," etc. numerous, took its way to the right in the NO. II.-BATTLE OF OTTERBURN.
direction of Carlisle. The other ascended the Fought 19th August, 1388.
Cheviots by the Reidswire. It is with the latter
division alone that we have to do. It consisted " A Douglas dead his name hath won the field.”
of about 400 knights, squires, and men-at-arms, "HE story of Otterburn is one of sustaining with 2,000 infantry, all well mounted. These,
interest throughout. There are chivalry, together with servants and camp-followers, would
patriotic fervour, heroism and tragedy make up the total to something like 6,000 men. mingling together, each playing its respective This force was under the command of James, part and culminating in the game of carnage Earl of Douglas, with such other noted chiefs which closed over a dead Douglas. . as George, Earl of March and Dunbar; John,
It is the old, and oft-repeated story; that of a Earl of Moray; Sir James Lindsay, Sir Alexander petty quarrel between two powerful Border chiefs. Ramsay, Sir John Montgomery, Sir Patrick For the possession of a silken pennon 2,000 men Hepburn, Sir John Swinton, etc. perished in the struggle. Douglas and Percy are Cautiously and stealthily they marched across names inseparably bound up in the romance and the Border, over the Carter Fell, down Redeschivalry of Border song and story. In this dale, and, without check or hindrance, peneinstance history affords clear and ample evidence trated beyond the centre of Durham. Thus far of how the influence of a great name, even when they had not struck a single blow or fired a its owner is stricken down, may lead to victory solitary rick or dwelling. Then they commenced and triumph over greatly superior numbers. the work of plunder and destruction. Soon
The Scots in this instance were the aggressors. their whole line of march was marked by the On the part of the weaker nation this aggressive smoke of villages and farm houses, while cattle system of warfare was simply a form of self- and other spoil were seized and carried off by defence. As an eminent historian aptly puts the raiders. Tidings of these things spread it-“The best security for Scotland lay in being abroad, and soon reached the ears of Sir Henry mischievous and dangerous to England." It Percy, warden of the Marches. He, along with must be admitted, however, that Scotland, at his brother, Sir Ralph Percy, set out from this particular period, had little to fear from her Alnwick with a considerable force to check the more powerful neighbour Owing to serious ravages of the Scottish army. Douglas, in the family disputes the government of Richard II. meantime, having laid waste a great part of was paralysed. France, also, was threatening an Durham, and seized immense quantities of invasion of England on a larger scale; while in booty, was returning northward, when he met the northern counties two of the most powerful Percy at Newcastle. The two armies were English chiefs-Percy and Neville—were at feud stationed at a considerable distance from each with each other. The opportunity, however, was other; the English within, and the Scots without too tempting to be lightly thrown away, and the the town. Several skirmishes occurred between Scots speedily assembled a large and well- the hostile forces, in which the leaders on either equipped army.
side took part. It so happened that in one of Early in the month of August, 1388, the these, Douglas and Percy, each mounted on Scottish force, numbering something like 30,000 horseback, met and engaged in single combat. men, met in the forest of Jedburgh to plan an Douglas drove his opponent from the saddle, incursion into England. The leading men and and, snatching from him his spear with the chiefs assembled in the church of Southdean, silken pennon attached, waved it above his near the western base of the Cheviot hills, 10 head, and boldly declared that he would carry miles south of Jedburgh. [The foundations and it into Scotland and plant it on his castle at outline of this identical church are still trace. Dalkeith. Mortified and exceedingly grieved able, and raised several feet above the general at his loss, Percy exclaimed—“That shalt thou level of the ground. The building became never do, Earl Douglas." To which, with equal a ruin in 16891. Here the leaders earnestly warmth, the latter replied—“ Then you must deliberated as to the best and safest method to come and seek it to-night, for I shall place it in adopt in invading the enemy's territory. Whilst the ground before my tent, and we will see if thus engaged they captured an English spy, from you will venture to take it away.” The Scots whom they elicited such information bearing on followed up this success by an attempt to force the condition and movements of the English an entrance into the town, but were driven back forces as enabled them to decide on a definite with considerable loss.