Obrazy na stronie

the eye is accustomed to its quiet, unpretending beauty. The gardens, sloping gently down to the river on the south, are extensive, and laid out with great artistic skill and natural effect.

When a student at the Academy of Montrose, I often visited this neighbourhood where I had some near and dear relations, and spent amongst its romantic surroundings, some of the happiest days of my youth. On re-visiting these scenes in 1859, after an absence of many years, I could not forbear, while standing once more on the Stannochy Bridge, beneath which flowed softly as of yore, my favourite Esk, give vent to the mingled feelings of pain and pleasure, which then alternately agitated and soothed my troubled breast:


The bell in the old Brechin tower struck one,
Like a chime from th' eternal shore,

As away in the golden bright sunshine,
I rambled in days of yore.

A-down the long straggling Tenements grim,
Or high up the dark-wooded ridge,

Along by the banks of the bonnie South Esk,
Where spans the high Stannochy bridge.

Or musing in mystic fond dreamings
In the old churchyard of Albar,
With no care, or sorrow, or weeping,

The joy of my young heart to mar.

While happy loved voices soft chiming,
Filled the air with melodious sweet joy,
Tumultuously joyous ! O, happy! how happy!
The free, fair, and bright poet boy!

The bell in the old grey tower strikes one,

Alas! on a far southern shore,

Its well-known soft chimes came fond in my dreamings,
As I heard them in days of yore.

And the voices I loved vibrated the ear,

Like distant music sweet;

Yes! I heard the old silvery laughter clear,
And the pattering of restless feet.

In an atmosphere blest of bright young love,
The songs of my youth I sang,
Along by the banks of the musical Esk,
The wild-wood echoes rang.

The bell in the old grey tower strikes one,
And I wander, how happy! once more,
Along by the one-arched high Stannochy bridge,
My heart e'en as green as of yore.

And I gaze on the scenes so touchingly beautiful,
Maulesden, the uplands, the stream,

And feel that I see in reality true,

And not through a mystic wild dream.

But where, Oh ! where gone those voices so joyous,
That tuned my young heart-strings to love?
The woodland, the river, the birds soft reply,
In a musical chorus-" Above !"

Oh, God! have I lived e'en too long, and all sadly,
Now reckoning the slow fleeting hours?

Hush! hush, widowed soul, live on, they're all happy gone
To a better world than ours.



Since young life's morn all crimsoned gay
With hues of rosy gold,

When fairy dreams of splendour rich
The future bright unroll'd;

I've roamed afar, but now return,

My wanderings to bewail;

For oh! there's not a spot on earth,

Like my own native vale.

"THE world appears all bright and beautiful to you now; what will be its aspect twenty years hence? Dark and troubled days will come when least expected. You cannot always walk amidst the golden sunshine, in blissful and untroubled joy. May the Most High be your hiding-place from the storm, and your covert from the tempest. In all your trials and sorrows may He temper the wind to the shorn lamb. Fare-thee-well!"

Such were the solemn and impressive words uttered feelingly by the venerable Dr Lyon, our parish minister, as he bade me an affectionate adieu at the gateway of the manse of Glamis, when I left, in early youth, my native Howe, to push my fortune in the great, seething, restless world beyond.

Twenty years very quickly passed away. It was on a dreary day in December 18-, the snow falling fast, that I landed from the steamer at Dundee, and, being anxious to proceed immediately on my journey homeward, I started on foot late in the afternoon, no railways then, or now, existing


in that part of the country, the caravan having started for the county town some two hours previously. Having ordered my luggage to be sent on after me the next day, I had no encumbrance to retard my progress, which had been so unexpectedly rapid, that I had arrived at the bye-road by Lumleyden leading to my native glen, much sooner than I had anticipated.

No sooner had I diverged from the main road than the snow ceased to fall, and the moon shone out in all her splendour. The frost set in sharp and severe, and the night became so clear that objects at a considerable distance were distinctly visible. The road lay along a wild and desolate moor, now thickly covered with the deep, crisp snow, no sound of beast or bird breaking the solemn silence which reigned around. Nature, to me, is ever more grand and impressive in her silence than in her stormy, wild, and tempestuous moods. The latter rouse our fear and terror; the former forces us to retire within ourselves, producing sedative contemplation and calm reflection, so that we imperceptibly seem linked to the spiritual world, partaking of its strange, undefined, yet sublime mysteries.

In my present circumstances, returning to my native strath after a long absence of twenty years, the most natural train of thought that could fill the mind was to ruminate and reflect on the events which had taken place, and the scenes through which I had passed in these, the most eventful years of a man's existence. The feelings which first arose in my mind were just those which most men, in the meridian of life, primarily experience on casting a retrospective glance at the past, before calmly reviewing the reasons why such and such things had taken place. I mused, for instance, on the disappointments of life, the teachery of friends, and the malignity of enemies, just as if there had not existed any overt acts on my part which might, to some extent at least, have been the secret cause of these misfortunes. And, without philosophising too much, the world and I became

gradually better friends, and I unfeignedly and repentingly felt that human nature was not so bad after all.

The nearer we approach the unseen world beyond, the deeper will be our abasement of self, and the higher the actions of our contemporaries will rise in our estimation, and this very feeling of humiliation as to our own actions, and generosity and charitableness as to the doings of others, does, in very truth, bring more real, pure, and lasting satisfaction to the mind than if we, Pharisaic-like, only thought contemptuously of our brethren of mankind, exclaiming, in the fulness of our haughty pride and self-righteousness, 'God, I thank thee, I am not as other men, or even as this publican.' After some reflection, therefore, and after having calmly reviewed the events of the last twenty years, I had worked myself very comfortably up to the conclusion that the world was not so base as some men, in their gloomy moods, would have us believe it to be, but that much elevation of thought, much purity of desire, and, consequently, much real happiness, were felt and enjoyed by the fallen sons of Adam, in this sublunary state of existence, preparatory to, and in earnest of, that pure, higher, and holier state of being on which the immortal pat of man enters definitely at death.

Pursuing this train of pleasing reflection, I had arrived very nearly at the spot where my father, twenty long years before, bade his darling boy farewell. Another train of thought now took possession of my mind. What events had happened; what trials; what sorrows; what bereavements; what secret corroding griefs had overwhelmed the spirits and wrung the hearts of those dear to me as life itself; for a long period Ead elapsed since I had received any intelligence from home, and I was now returning, unknown to my friends, to my paternal hearth.

Not naturally superstitious, I do not easily give way to presentiments of any kind, but, in spite of all my philosophical efforts to the contrary, a strange, indescribable sadness came over my spirits, which, deepening every instant, spell-bound

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