« PoprzedniaDalej »
the bridge over the burn, he could recognise little, if any change in the salient points of the landscape. There flowed, in low breathed music as of old, the little mountain rivulet, and on its rugged banks the leafless brushwood, and iciclebespangled trees, studded like a woodland terrace, the romantic base of the well-known Hunter Hill. Beneath, stretched out the fondly cherished village green, alive at the moment, with the rural urchins' happy merriment on being let loose from the galling restraints of Compound Division, and the Rule of Three. The millwright's shop, and the blacksmith's shed, still stood in their wonted place on the right bank of the stream; while further to the south, the ruins of the old spinning mill seemed the only object in view on which the iron pencil of time had inscribed the dreaded word "Change."
Turning to the north, the old romantic meal mill, with all its tender associations, met at once his loving gaze; and the churchyard, church and manse, reposing among the leafless woods, filled up sympathetically, the receding background of the picture. Then his mind instinctively again reverted to the unforgotten past. Fixing his weary eyes on the manse, his thoughts lovingly wandered back to the many happy hours he had spent in that sainted dwelling, when the lovely and accomplished family of the venerable Dr Lyon shed a radiant sunshine over their peaceful village home; until one after another had taken their solitary way to the dark and silent land of the dead! He then thought of the learned Dr. Crawford, and the accomplished Dr. Tannoch, the first regrettingly removed from this peaceful scene, to high office in the Metropolitan University; and the last, dying the death of the Christian in that sequestered manse, and followed to the grave by the lamentations of all who had known him as their pastor and friend.
His mind full of warm and loving remembrances, and as if his eye had forgotten to search for something that was lost, he once more turned round in the direction of the
Hunter Hill, and gazed long and fondly on some deeply cherished object that then met his view. Ah! he had not forgotten to look for what now so intensely interests him; but aware of the effect the sight of it would have upon his sensitive feelings, he had refrained to the last from subjecting them to the severe and painful ordeal of recognition. With a heart too big for words, with eyes too full for tears, he felt that some loved Presence was, unseen, encompassing him as with a halo of celestial brightness. The object, dear reader, on which he so agonizingly, yet lovingly gazed, was an isolated, lonely dwelling on the left bank of the stream, and that silent cottage was once the home of-" The Forester's Daughter!" No wonder, poor soul! that he felt the extreme bitterness of hopeless grief, for there was the well-known garden in which Eliza had tended her favourite flowers; yonder the little window where she had sat reading or at work; and, fronting the west, the honeysuckle porch from whence her pure and gentle spirit had passed silently away to her home in the sky. Had she lived, how different, he thought, might his life have been!
COULD HE EVER FORGET HER?
Forget her? mock me not; behold
Adown whose rugged fissures dash
E'en they, inheriting decay,
Slow moulder though unseen,
But love, celestial sacred flower,
Is ever fresh and green.
Forget her? gaze on that bright stream,
Its rocky channel, leaping free
In storms and summer suns.
So in my heart of hearts do years,
Forget her! hast thou ever loved?
Know then love cannot die,
"Twill ripen in the sky.
O yes! sad drench'd in tears on earth,
In the golden air of Heaven!
The village of Glamis is one of those ancient places which change not with the lapse of years, and, therefore, just because of its unchangeableness, the more dear to those who have long been absent from their native Strath. While every other town and village in Scotland has of late gradually assumed a new aspect, Glamis remains almost the same as it was a century ago. The only new houses erected in this village during that decade of time, are the masonic lodge on the east, and the handsome parochial school and school-house to the west. There was one change, however, not in the building but in the occupation thereof, which arrested the attention of the traveller. The old school-house, associated to many with the fondest recollections, was turned into a lumber room or wash-house! The sight was too much for him, and he sorrowfully retraced his footsteps to the village.
Standing at the door of the village hostelrie, the aspect of the village seemed to the stranger in all its externals, very much the same as it was forty long years ago. The well remembered names over the shop doors had disappeared, and with them the old respected traders who had so long supplied the wants and luxuries of the villagers. He looked in vain. for the name of the old hostess over the door of the hospitable inn by which he was musing; it too had disappeared. He was glad to know, however, she was still hale and hearty, although now known by another name than the well-remembered one of old.
As he sauntered through the village, his mind reverted to the many characters of former days, who by their wit and sarcasm, their calvinistic enthusiasm, and sterling worth, had
enlivened and made bright the little community in which they lived, and moved, and had their being. He imagined he still beheld
the smith his hammer ply,
With brawny arm so lustily,
That every stroke upheaved the ground,
While showers of sparks flew wheeling round;
and, with fond recollections of the many genial hours he had spent with him in the old meal mill,
Still seated at his cottage door,
He saw the miller pondering o'er,
There goes his old sarcastic friend the hard-wrought, illpaid village postman of other days :—
With gaucy face and honest smile,
In lowly cot, or courtly hall;
But many a weary mile he goes
Through raging storms and drifting snows,
By lonely wood or castle grim,
And lists the owl's wild eildrich scream,
By haunted tower, or roaring stream.
And here comes poor daft Geordie, the simpleton of the village, with whom the stranger in his boyish days had cracked many a humorous joke, sometimes to the discomfiture of the simpleton, but very much oftener to his own :—
George long a denizen had been,
Well known about the village green;
To please the factor or the earl.
After these imaginary meetings with former friends in his solitary ramble through the village, the stranger entered the
western gate of the Castle, and looked long and wistfully along the lime-shaded avenue to the magnificent hoary pile beyond. There it was, with its massive walls, and spacious courts, its spreading wings and lofty tower, its ramparts and battlements, and cone-roofed turrets as of old. Yet, even here, associations were not wanting personally to connect some incidents in his life with the venerable and princely pile which proudly seemed to challenge his right of relationship with its history:
For from these grey embattled towers,
We gazed on mountain, lake and stream,
"Twas our first meeting, and-our last.
Retracing his steps, the stranger walked up the lane which led to the manse, and entering the church-yard he paced slowly among the tombs, and the lonely burying-ground would literally to him have been a land of silence, had it not been for the humming voice of the old grave-digger, as he dug a little grave on the eastern brow of the hill which gently slopes down to the murmuring rivulet at its base.
"A very small grave that you are digging, my friend," softly said the stranger, to the hoary sexton of sixty winters.
Resting from his work and looking up inquiringly at the speaker, that worthy quaintly replied,-" It's a sma' bit grave indeed, but big eneuch to haud the corp o' a little wean scarcely a year auld, sir."
"Do you take as much pains with the graves of the young," the stranger asked, as you do with those of the old ?"
"Fat for no," was the rather testy reply, "the weest bairnie that dees is as precious in God's sicht as the man o' fourscore, and shudna' it be as precious in mine?"
This was rather a home-thrust to the stranger, who parried it off, however, very adroitly by immediately putting a further