Skip to main content

Full text of "Pat M'Carty, farmer, of Antrim : his rhymes, with a setting"

See other formats


Pats 







THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 



PAT M'CARTY 



PAT M'CARTY 

h 

FARMER, OF ANTRIM 



HIS RHYMES 
WITH A SETTING 



BY 

JOHN STEVENSON 



LONDON 

EDWARD ARNOLD 

1903 

[All rights reserved] 



1303 



INTRODUCTORY 



OF Ireland the average Englishman knows little. Of Irish- 
men he knows two kinds. Travellers who have landed at 
Dublin and penetrated to Glasnevin, or followed the coast- 
line as far as Howth, have described one of these in numer- 
ous books and magazine articles. Associated with pigs, 
sticks, and potatoes, he is found wearing a tattered old hat, 
a long-tailed coat of grey homespun, knee-breeches, and 
ventilated shoes. Nature has given him a long upper-lip 
and a nose turned skyward. He says, "Tare an* ages, ye 
spalpeen, holy murther, the divil, arrah, be jabers," and 
more to that pattern. His wife is himself in a minor key. 
She says " The saints presarve us " with any communication 
circumstances may require. Her name is Norah ; she dusts 
a chair with her apron and curtseys very nicely to an 
Englishman. 

He of the second class is mystic, wonderful. Our know- 
ledge of him is from the poets. His background is of wolf- 
dogs and round towers, his gaze is backward to the old time 
of collars of gold, and he carries a harp, for his use of which 
please see Moore's Irish melodies. 

Strange to say, we who have been born and bred on the 
island have not been able to find the Englishman's Irishmen. 
The failure may be due to lack of powers of observation, or 
to the common inability to see the wood for trees. 

If the English travellers have observed and described 
correctly, it is certain that variations from the type are 
extremely numerous over areas as yet by them unvisited. 
One of these variations is described in this book or rather is 



194 



vi INTRODUCTORY 

allowed, in his rhymes, to describe himself, his manner of 
thinking and living, his land of Antrim, and the people, 
plants, and animals that share it with him. 

Critics may object that Pat M'Carty is not consistently 
ignorant or learned. He is irregular saying old, auld, and 
ould in different rhymes. He deals picturesquely with 
museum and algebra, making them "Musy Um " and "ould Jeb 
Ra," and yet his spelling of words more uncommon is, at times, 
with the Century Dictionary. He answers objectors in this 
fashion. When ploughing a stiff clay field he wears boots 
that could not be received in polite society. He has a 
black suit which he wears at funerals. He has another 
costume for weddings and christenings. For a mixed event 
he may wear his best breeks with his second best waistcoat. 
The clothing of his person is by him decided according to 
the needs of time, place, or occupation, and he asks that a 
like discretion be allowed to him in the clothing of his 
thoughts. When these are concerned with the field and 
common things, there may be a smear of clay on the words 
he uses ; when they are concerned with things other, higher 
or different, the words properly change in colour, texture, or 
quality. 

The book will be a disappointment to some by reason of 
its omissions. There is not a Saxon tyrant nor a harp in the 
whole collection, the shamrock is only mentioned once, and 
Pat says nothing about the wrongs of his country. I do not 
minimise these wrongs. The tears they brought are still in 
the eyes of Dark Rosaleen, and for three hundred years to 
come there will be a catch in her voice when she sings 
because of them. And often yet her " holy, delicate white 
hands" will gird sons to fight for her, but the fight will not 
be with sword and pike. 

JOHN STEVENSON. 



COOLAVIN, BELFAST. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

THE RHYMER'S FOREWORD xii 



I. HOME AND THE MAN 

HOW TO BE HAPPY ...... 5 

HAME ........ 8 

A SUNNY, WINDY DAY IN SPRING ... 9 

A PEAT BOG ....... 10 

SUMMER IN GLENARIFF . . . . .11 

CUSHENDALL . . . . . . .12 

CUSHENDUN . . . . . . .13 

AN ANTRIM GLEN 15 

IRELAND 22 

II. WIFE AND WEAN 

THE ANGEL o' THE HOOSE .... 28 
THE FEARSOMEST BEASTS ..... 29 
THE LAND O* NAE SURPRISE . . . .31 
DID YOU EVER? 32 

III. VISITORS 

THE ARTIST 36 

THE ANTIQUARY . . . . . .41 

THE BOTANIST ...... 45 

THE LADY FROM LONDON .... 52 

vii 



viii CONTENTS 

IV. CHARACTERS 

PAGE 
JAMIE HUNTER 58 

THE MANAGIN' WIFE ..... 6l 

ROGER JENKINS, TINKER ..... 67 

JIM, THE CLOCKMAKER . .... 68 

THE SCHOOLMASTER. ..... 69 

HANNAH, THE BREADWOMAN .... 74 

V. AMUSEMENTS 

THE QUILTIN' ....... 79 

THE DANCE AT WIDOW CLARKE'S ... 82 

VI. OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

THE WAY WE TELL A STORY .... 93 

THE PARRITCH POT ... .94 

JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U. ..... 95 

VII. THE WINDS AND THE SEA 

WHAT THE WIND DOES . . . . .112 

HOW DOES THE WIND BLOW? . . . .113 

THE FOUR WINDS OF HEAVEN . . . .116 

THE SEA . . . . . . .117 

VIII. FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN 

ROSE OF SHARON . . . . . .123 

WALLFLOWER . . . . . . .124 

HOLLYHOCK . . . . . . .125 

ROSE ........ 126 

SUNFLOWER . . . . . . .127 

LILY OF THE VALLEY . . . . .127 

IX. FLOWERS OF THE FIELD 

FLOWERS OF THE FOREST AND THE FIELD . 133 

FLOWERS AND MEN .... .134 

PRIMROSES . . . .136 



CONTENTS ix 

IX. FLOWERS OF THE FIELD continued. 

PAGE 

THE PINK PRIMROSE . . . . .137 

BLUEBELLS . . . . . . .138 

THE HOUSE LEEK . . . . . .138 

DANDELION . . . . . . .139 

X. FOWLS OF THE AIR 

TO THE LARK ...... 143 

THE MAVIS AND THE THORN . . . .145 

JENNY WREN 146 

THE CROW ....... 147 

ROBIN IN THE ROWAN 148 

XL CREEPY-CRAWLY THINGS 

TO A WORM ....... 152 

DADDY-LONG-LEGS . . . . . .153 

ODE TO A SLATER . . . . . .154 

XII. THE POWERS OF DARKNESS 

JOHNNIE CAMPBELL'S ADVENTURE . . .163 
DE'IL'S TRICKS 167 

XIII. THE ABBEY TALES 

INTRODUCTION TO THE ABBEY TALES . .175 

THE DISCOVERY OF THE OYSTER . . .175 

BROTHER BRANDMAR . . . . .187 

FRIAR JOHN ....... 203 

XIV. BLETHERS - 

BLETHERS ....... 241 

THE BATTLE OF MOYVORE .... 243 

ODE TO A PRATIE ...... 248 

ODE TO A FAT MAN ..... 249 

AN ACT OF PARLIAMENT WANTED . . . 253 

A CHANGE OF STYLE ..... 255 

THE LASS THAT WAD A LADDIE BE . . . 257 

THE HISTORY OF HIM . 258 



x CONTENTS 

XV. PSALMS 

PAG* 

PSALM I ....... 269 

PSALM VIII ....... 270 

PSALM XV 271 

PSALM XXIII 272 

PSALM XXXII ....... 272 

PSALM XC ....... 274 

XVI. SONNETS 

ON THE UNSATISFACTORINESS OF THE SONNET . 280 
IN PRAISE OF (A PART OF) ANN BRADLEY . 280 

LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS . . . . .281 

ATTAINMENT . . . . . . .281 

SECOND YOUTH ...... 282 

WHA KENS ?....... 282 

XVII. LOVE 

THE WIFE HE WANTS ..... 286 

THE LOVERLESS LASS . . . . .288 

TO PEGGY 290 

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT 291 

THE PLOUGHBOY'S SWEETHEART'S SONG . . 291 
THE COORTIN' o' JEEMS M'ILHAGGA . . . 292 

XVIII. LIFE THE EARTH THRILL 

BEHIND THE SEEN 3l6 

A BIT O' PRAYER 317 

A MAN LIKE A FIR-TREE . . . .318 

THE HEART OF A MAN . . . . .319 

DREAMS ON LURIG . . . . . .319 

XIX. DEATH 

A DREAM OF THE GREAT ASSIZE . . .331 

THE LANG HEAPS o' GOD's ACRE . . . 334 

THE DEID BAIRN'S SHOE . . . 336 

WHEN THE TREES WERE GREENING . . . 338 

TWO FUNERALS ...... 339 

THE WEE GREY MAN ... . 348 

THE RHYMER'S AFTERWORD 351 



THE RHYMER'S FOREWORD 

/ never likit weel the pen, 
I tak' wi' joy the pleugh in han ; 
The rules o' varse I dinna ken, 
I'll haud the pleugh wi' any man. 
Here is no poet born wi' wings, 
Remember that, my worthy fren, 
It's but a farmyard muse that sings 
0' country life an country men. 

These rhymes that scent o' fields an trees 

Are no' to read in study chair 

Wi' glesses on to criticeese 

Wi' graimmar an the dictionaire. 

Ye II keep them then an 'oor to pass 

Some day ere simmer s coorse has run, 

While ye lie lazy on the grass 

By some auld dykeside in the sun. 



I 

HOME AND THE MAN 

THE land is high on the east coast of Antrim. And above 
the cliffs there are, at places, platforms or small table- 
lands like that on which Garron Tower is built, and which 
geologists say are old landslips from the hills behind. On 
one of these is the little farm and the broad low white- 
washed cottage that belong to Pat M'Carty. The hills are 
near enough to appear overhanging, and far enough away to 
put on, every evening, the blue veil of mist that makes even 
y inconsiderable heights look grand. A mountain burn has 
made for itself a way through the landslip to the sea, and 
just at the top of the northern slope of the wide gorge it has 
worn, and inland a few hundred yards, appears the gable of 
the cottage. Down the incline that ends at the stream side 
and fully exposed to the south is the orchard ; only when 
the east wind blows is it cold here, even in winter, for the 
sheltering south bank is high and steep. The arms of the 
old grey-lichened apple trees meet and mingle, and under 
them is a thick green sward, gay in spring with countless 
daffodils. Through the orchard is a zig-zag path down to 
the singing ^urn and along to the beach and the boat. 
Half-way down the bank it passes a stone-lined recess, where 
is the old well. Some hand, long forgotten, has carved on 
the lintel the rude representation of a head between the 

letters 

1 M 

with other forms worn by time nearly to the level of the 

A 



2 HOME AND THE MAN 

stone face, and believed -to' represent pickaxe, square, and 
mallet. The ; \ycirk is: certainly very old; the oldest in- 
habitant has nothing" to' sray ab6ut -it, and tradition is probably 
correct in ascribing the construction of the well and the 
carving overhead to the monks of an abbey the crumbling 
ruins of which are not far off. 

Let into the wall of the cottage near the front door is an 
inscribed sandstone bearing the letters J. A. and the date 
1798. The initials are known to be those of the builder, a 
James Armstrong, and below them is a four-line inscription 
which looks like verse but is not. It reads : 



AT - Y E EXPIRATION OF . Y B . LEASE 
Y B . BUILDER DOTH - DESIRE 
Y B - LANDLORD . LIVING AT . THAT TIME 
WILL CONSIDER . Y E BUILDER'S . CASE. 

Behind the house are the farm buildings, barn, byre, and 
stable ; a cart shed with a roof which is a peat-stack, and a 
bigger peat-stack on the ground beside it. Behind these 
again is the " planting/' a grassy square, sparsely filled with 
tall grey ash trees, always with a magpie's nest in one of 
them. The lane passes the end of the barn and divides at 
the corner of the planting, going northward under rows of 
stunted sycamores to find the high road. The winds of a 
hundred years have made the trees squat and turned their 
branches all in one direction and away from the sea. They 
meet overhead and roof the little road, making in spring 
and summer a sweet, cool darkness that is paradise for the 
primrose, the violet, and the fern on the banks below. 
Westward the lane wanders through the fields to where the 
farm ends against the rocky hill-foot in a wilderness of whin 
and bracken. 

More about Pat's home and surroundings will appear later 
on ; it is time to say a word or two about the man himself, 



HOME AND THE MAN 3 

Old ladies, in this part of the country, when asked their age 
have a trick of answering, " I am as old as my little finger." 
Pat confesses to the same age. Should the answer be con- 
sidered not informing, the reader may place the rhymer 
somewhere in the forties. It is useless to attempt his 
portraiture by words; those who "wrastle thro'" these 
rhymes will fit him with a face and a figure long before the 
end, and their conceptions will be as near the truth as the 
image which would follow description. 

Brought up in the cottage he occupies, Pat was early 
affected by the grandeur of his surroundings and tried to 
express his feelings in verse, consciously modelling his com- 
positions on the styles of the great poets. Love and pride 
of country were very strong, and he had the ambition to 
bring honour and renown to the land and place of his birth 
by writing verses in the grand style. Doubtless these boyish 
attempts were very crude. Pat himself says that he knows 
now they were grandiloquent where they were intended to 
be grand, and that the fate they met was merited. They were 
exhibited to the old schoolmaster Tim of Lugar School 
celebrated in a later rhyme. Tim was unsympathetic, told 
the boy bluntly that poetry was not in his line," advised 
him to burn the verses, and poor Pat, more modest and docile 
than the average budding poet, took the advice. 

For a long time after the holocaust Pat wrote nothing. 
When he did begin again there was no question of following 
the style of any poet, nor indeed of having a style at all. 
He did not even think of "poetry." The humorous side of 
things always appealed to him, and, grown to manhood and 
with manhood's cares, he finds relief and recreation in a 
ridiculous mental presentation of a situation or incident or 
sequence of events. When the picture pleases him he may 
give it permanence in rhyme. A dominating feature suggests 
the first line, and the unsought, unpremeditated rhythm of 
this decides the character and measure of the lines that 



4 HOME AND THE MAN 

follow. The first-born words are rarely it may be said, 
never the first words of the story. They may belong to 
the beginning, the middle, or even the end of it. Having 
seized on them as fit for a part of the structure, his mind 
proceeds, in half-unconscious fashion and while he goes about 
his daily work, to fit lines before or after the first conceived, and 
so by accretions to both ends the work proceeds to completion. 

The method is a curious one. It is as if one, accidentally 
finding a stone suitable for a lintel, should set up posts 
adequately strong to bear it, build walls to support these 
posts, make openings for windows in the walls, and so 
proceed to construct a house without fixed plan, determining 
the size and architectural character of each addition by its 
fitness in the building mind to come against its previously 
completed neighbour. 

An intention to write and a choice of subject are not 
then necessary preliminaries to his verse-making. The first 
material for the building is the swinging line which flashes 
into existence at sight or conception of the inspiring person, 
thing, or action, and this may belong to the foundation, or 
the middle elevation, or the roof of the rhyme. 

To explain his method is to say that Pat is no poet with a 
mission. A man whose hands find more than enough to do 
all day and every day ; he has no time to sit in the poet's 
chair even if he had qualification and will. Here are no 
dark sayings, allusive or elusive ; no involved, inverted words 
of the wise man ; no mystery of condensation a system of 
philosophy in a line of type only the everyday outlooks and 
inlooks of a working man rumbled into rhyme, and getting a 
humorous twist in the doing of it. 

If, with Pat, the faculty of seeing a humorous side to 
things be one or the main incentive to rhyme, another is his 
love of Nature in all her manifestations in this northern 
land. For him there are no dead things in the landscape. 
A mountain sleeps. The sea is pleased, wrathful, mournful, 



HOW TO BE HAPPY 5 

it rejoices. The cliff rests, is bold, angry, or defiant. Even 
the high road can be tired. Others beside Pat see the 
changing looks on Nature's face, which may be due to 
atmospheric conditions, or be the reflex of the seer's mental or 
physical states. But to Pat the cliff not only appears to be 
bold, it knows it is bold, and consciously fights and vanquishes 
the angry sea. And his endowment of consciousness goes 
to things unaffected by the time of day, the temperature, or 
the clearness or cloudiness of the skies. Primroses for him 
are modest in varying degree, the bluebell knows she bows, 
other flowers are saucy or impudent, confiding and fearless, 
or timid with a pleading and beseeching look. When he 
sees the rootlet travelling to the only source of supply, and 
the tendril stretching out to the support it has not yet 
touched, he wonders if consciousness in plant life may not 
be one of the things undreamt of in our philosophy. 

But whether this may be or not, flower and leaf are 
delights of life to Pat. He has been fairly successful as the 
world estimates success, but no contemplation of his modest 
growing wealth ever gives him half the delight he feels 
when he finds the strings of pink cones on the larches, or 
sees beneath an apple tree the year's first golden daffodil. 



HOW TO BE HAPPY 

IN PRAISE OF A FARMER'S LIFE 

IF ye wad be a happy man 
I'll tell ye what ye'll dae ; 
Ye'll tak a wee bit farm o' Ian' 
O' thritty acres, say. 
Ow'r muckle disna mak' for peace, 
If sma' the farm, sma' care ; 
The joy o' sma' and sure increase 
Will no' be yours wi' mair. 



HOME AND THE MAN 

Noo when ye're oot a farm to find, 

Ye' 11 seek it near the sea ; 

Wi' big blue heather hills behind, 

Guid warm land let it be. 

Ye'll need a rocky place or twa 

To feed a dizzen sheep ; 

Rough places whaur the whins can blaw 

And pale primroses peep. 

Ye'll want an anshent abbey by 

Wi' wa's half tumbled doon, 

And elm branches maun be nigh 

Enfoldin' it aroon. 

Ye'll want a wheen o' craws to build 

Amang the elm trees : 

It's weel to hae a garden filled 

Wi' flo'ers and skeps o' bees. 

The hoose should hae a roof o' thatch, 

For slates look cauld and grey, 

And broon peat-stacks will brawly match 

The colour o' the strae. 

Sic things may no' come first to han', 

But a' these can be had, 

And when they're yours get ready, man, 

Ye're goin' to be glad. 

Some mornin' when the year's in youth, 

Some bonnie day in Spring, 

A saft wind blawin' frae the sooth, 

The early bee a-wing ; 

Sky rob'd in blue that human kind 

As king or queen ne'er wore, 

The misty purple hills behind, 

The shinin' sea before. 



HOW TO BE HAPPY 

A warm, bright sunshine floods the air 

Ow'r red, fresh-labour'd fields, 

Peat-stain in hollows, here and there 

A bit o' colour yields. 

The blue reek o' yer ain wee hoose 

Is curlin' thro' the trees, 

The craws, like school o' boys let loose, 

Hae noisy made the breeze. 

Ye watch the sawer saw his seed, 

Ye hear the lav 'rock sing, 

That day ye cudna harm a weed, 

Much less a leevin' thing. 

Your thochts are warkin' micht and main 

As busy as the bees, 

They bring the monks to life again 

Amang the elm trees. 

A breakin' wave on neighb'rin' shore 

Some story to them tells, 

They mak' a child o' ye once more 

Ye gather stanes and shells. 

Then frae this shore they quickly lead 

To yet anither sea, 

And One wha spak' o' sawin' seed 

In far aff Galilee. 

Your heart should throb wi' gladness then, 

Be blithesome as the birds ; 

And feel a joy I dinna ken 

The way t' express in words. 

And if ye dinna simply rowl 

In happiness that day, 

Then Godforgie yer sinfu sowl 

Is a! I hae to say. 



HOME AND THE MAN 



HAME 

HAME. What's hame ? 

A wee short word o' letters four. 

But frae the store 
O' langest words the tongue can claim 

Nane's got, I wis, 
Sic pow'r an Irish heart to touch, 
Nane hauds in meanin' half as much 

As this. 

The hoose has share, 
But it's not a' the word reca's. 
Hame's mair than furniture and wa's, 
O, far far mair. 

What does it mean ? 

The cradle bed the baby's chair, 

A mither's love a father's care. 

The first things seen 

By openin' een. 

Days o' delight, 

When daisies were a prize to gain ; 
A field, a wide and great domain 
In bairn's aw'd sight. 

Trees posies sweet 

The birds the butterflies the bees 

The auld green-lichen'd aipple trees 

The lovers' seat 
Where lives were knit 
The shaded well, clear, cauld as ice ; 
Nae after-tasted wine o' price 

Refresh'd like it. 



A SUNNY, WINDY DAY 

Childhood's romance 

The hopes and fears 
O' later days and later years 

Each step's advance 
To wider thought 

And higher life 
The love o' brither, sister, wife, 

Treasure unbought 
Beyond compare 
Lov'd presences that still remain, 
And memories, lang freed frae pain, 

O' some that were 
Shadow and light 
Auld joys auld pleasures magnified 
Sorrows ow'r which we one time sigh'd 

Now silver'd bright. 



Be it the aim 

To put this in sic compass sma' 
That one short word will hold it a' 
That word is Hame. 



A SUNNY, WINDY DAY 

A SUNNY, windy day in Spring, 

White cloudlets scuddin' ow'r the blue, 
A lark beside me takin' wing, 

In song his ain true love to woo ; 
Green waves, white-crested, on the sea, 

Their distant thunder on the sands, 
A pair o' horse in front o' me, 

And twa pleugh-handles in my hands ; 



10 HOME AND THE MAN 

Earth fresh-upturned ; a flock o' crows 
Sedately marchin' by my side, 
A primrose on the bank that grows, 
Wide-stretchin' fields wi' daisies pied ; 
The whins' sweet scent that on the breeze 
Down frae the rocky moorland floats, 
Gold daffodils that 'neath the trees 
Shake out their dainty petticoats ; 
Blue peat-reek wheelin' like a bird, 
A thocht o' her sae true and tried, 
Who never once by look or word 
Has made me wish our bands untied ; 
The wind, the wave, the flow'r, the field, 
Sweet song o' bird, sweet thochts that rise, 
Each one to me delight can yield, 
But a' at once make Paradise ! 



A PEAT BOG 

BLACK and ugly do they ca' ye bogland ! 

Ugly ! these acres purple-heather-spread ! 

These rocky knowes a-bleezin' wi' the whin-bloom ! 

Their een are blinded that the words have said. 

Ugly ! wi' plumes o' canavan * the snowy 

Noddin' guid morrow to the passer-by, 

The nut-brown water-pools that lie wind-rippled, 

Or stilly picturin' a second sky. 

You wi' the life you carry on your bosom, 

The bees at wark, the butterflies at play, 

The lark that loves ye carollin' his anthems 

Frae skies above ye a' the leevelang day. 

* Geanabhan bog-cotton. 



SUMMER IN GLENARIFF 11 

Ugly ! wi' forest stretches o' the bracken, 
The mossy dyke-sides' velvet green array, 
The cluster' d rashes battle spears of fairies, 
A thousand thousand ready for the fray. 
You the hearth-happiness o' bygone ages, 
The present nourisher o' life that stirs 
Man's heat to be in unborn dreary winters 
His light still slumberin' in buried firs, 
Firs that are fragrant as that auld sweet cedar 
That once on Lebanon its airms stretched wide. 
Black as the tents o' Kedar are ye truly 
But comely, comely as the king-sought bride. 



SUMMER IN GLENARIFF 

A TANGLED maze 

O' leafy sprays 

O' cherry, birch, and hazel tree ; 

Tough twisted cords o' wild woodbine 

Hung on the airms o' larch and pine, 

The briar roses trailin' free ; 

And up and high, 

A dappled sky 

All blue and white in streaks and spots, 

And doon and through 

Anither blue 

O' water-wet forget-me-nots. 

And bowin' bells 

In dank green dells 

All standin' wi' their eyes cast doon ; 

Ivy on stane, or twinit roon 

The blossom'd lucky rowan tree j 



12 HOME AND THE MAN 

Bee-haunted foxgloves in their prime, 

Banks carpeted wi' scented thyme, 

Or shy white wood anemone. 

And violets 

Moss-cradled pets ; 

Green fern in paradise beside 

The peaty stream that lilts and brawls 

And tumbles in a hundred falls 

In hurry doon to meet the tide. 

And every plant and posy fair 

That loves auld Antrim's soil and air, 

And wi' these sights 

For eyes' delights 

The bonnie birdies' minstrelsie 

Picture and song in sweet accord. 

Eastward in Antrim hath the Lord 

Planted this garden fair to see. 



CUSHENDALL 

AT night I hear the sea-gull's call ; 
From cloud-land as they pass ye by 
They send ye doon a friendly cry 
The sea-bird loves ye, Cushendall. 

The sycamores are braid and tall, 
Green upon green their shades in spring, 
And in their airms the thrushes sing 
The sang-bird loves ye, Cushendall. 

The hills are near ye. Chief of all 
That on the westward hem ye round, 
Lies Lurig like a sleepin' hound 
O Lurig loves ye, Cushendall. 



CUSHENDUN 13 

When, far away, night's shadows fall 
On sons whose fate has been to roam, 
They dream aboot the dear old home 
The exile loves ye, Cushendall. 

And they, the lang departed, all 
Who here liv'd, labour'd, lov'd, and pray'd, 
Then saw themsel's the laid in Layde 
Their spirits love ye, Cushendall. 



CUSHENDUN 

FOR air that 'vigorates like wine, 
For sichts to see and pleasure fine 

Wi' rod and gun, 

For sense o' lairgishness and space, 
'Twill bother ye to find a place 

Beats Cushendun. 

Nae doot in France and ither climes 
The skies are fairish bright at times, 

But still the sun 

Feels mair at hame in Antrim ways, 
And keeps his verra brightest rays 

For Cushendun. 

That trout that's leapin' there sae high 
Has nae design to catch a fly 

He jumps for fun ; 
For joy a recollection gives, 
The cratur's glad to think he lives 

At Cushendun. 



14 HOME AND THE MAN 

Geologists that scart and scrape, 
And pu' earth's boo'els oot o' shape, 

Hae here a grim' 

Unrivall'd for their digs and knocks, 
There's just the cur'osest o' rocks 

At Cushendun. 

By livin' in a carefu' way 

Ye think to eighty-five or sae 

Your time may run, 
You'd live a couple hunner year 
(The air's sae mortial healthy here) 

At Cushendun. 

It's weel the nations o' the airth 
Are sae content wi' leetle warth 

For, else they'd run 
Frae ev'ry pairt o' Christendom, 
The haill j ing-bang wad want to come 

To Cushendun. 

They'd want a gret big ugly toon, 
And wi' their reek and stour wad soon 

Blot oot the sun 

And ev'ry pleasant sicht frae view ; 
And that wad be the end o' you, 

Sweet Cushendun. 



AN ANTRIM GLEN 15 

AN ANTRIM GLEN 

ITS SIGHTS, ITS SCENTS, ITS SOUNDS 

Here's an auld proverb ; mark it doon : 
" God made the country, man the toon." 



WHA says the country's dull and drear, 

His eyes wi' cities' smoke are dim ; 
A city's roar has dull'd his ear ; 

Delights o' scent are not for him. 
O ! ye wha care for simple lays, 

Come, hear a word in country's praise ; 
Come wi' me to an Antrim glen, 

See sights the country places yield, 
Hear sounds sae dear to countrymen, 

And smell the odours o' the field. 



THE SIGHTS 

What sight sae grand as dawn o' day ! 
The death o' night, 
The birth o' light, 
The black sky palin' into grey, 

Grey warmin' to a rosy blush, 
Like that, when sweetheart comes her way, 
Ow'rspreads wi' sic a sudden rush 

A lassie's cheek. 

The colour changes turns to gold ; 
The hills that looked sae weird and cold, 

Sae bare and bleak, 

Mak' haste to change their night attire ; 
The sea's aflame ! The clouds tak' fire. 



16 HOME AND THE MAN 

And burn wi' crimson edges Hush ! 

He comes the Sun, the King o' Day 
He kisses hill, and tree, and bush, 

And night's dark curtain rolls away. 
Then, when the day declines, how grand 

The pictures o' the sunset sky 
As painted by the Almichty's hand, 

Earth's greatest painters needna try 

To copy these ; 
It passes skill o' mortal man, 
Wi' canvas and his brush in han' 

Sic tints to seize. 
The hills maun love the sun, I wis, 

Sae loth are they to lose his light 
They claim his first guid mornin' kiss, 

They tak' his verra last guid night, 

As eve her cloak unlooses, 
And lets its velvet faulds fa' doon. 

O sure, it's then a bonnie sight 

To see the hill-taps bathed in light ! 
(Ye canna see them in the toon 

For reek and raws o' hooses). 

My fairm-yard Muse a word may sing 

O' sunlight here on Sunday ; 
Wi' us it's quate a diff'rent thing 

Frae what we hae on Monday. 
Earth then, far mair than ither days, 
Drinks in the sun's life-givin' rays ; 
The country's flooded wi' a light 
That's far mair sunny, far mair bright 

Than that which shines on Monday. 
Nature has on her dainty best, 
The verra fields appear to rest, 

For why they know it's Sunday. 



AN ANTRIM GLEN 17 

The sense o' rest is in the air, 
A gledsome stillness ev'rywhere, 

A stillness not like ither days ; 
The sun's mair neebourly, and talks 
To us as ow'r the sky he walks, 

And this, or something like it, says : 
" It's Sunday mornin', rest your airm, 
A wee bit langer nap's nae hairm ; 
Ye maunna fash yersel's the day 
Aboot the pickle corn or hay ; 
Gang to yer kirk and hear the Word 
Think o' your duty to the Lord ; 
Veesit the sick and lonely folk, 
And cheer them wi' a crack or joke ; 
Walk quately thro' the fields and lanes, 
Forgetfu' o' your care and wark, 
Or, if ye're weary, rest your banes, 
And listen to the singin' lark ; 
Rest's guid for ye and for the Ian', 
The Sabbath's for the use o' man, 

But not for his abuses 
For man and cattle it's a boon." 

'Tis thus he speaks, and a' the while 

He smiles wi' sic a gracious smile. 
(Ye canna see him smile in toon 

For reek and raws o' hooses.) 

We wark a' day in sight o' sea, 
That never-endin' mystery ; 
Now smilin' like a child at play, 
And gently breakin' on the shore ; 
Now scowlin' in a fearsome way, 
And rollin' wi' an angry roar, 
Changin' a dizzen times a day 
Frae black to blue, frae green to grey ; 



18 HOME AND THE MAN 

Now glimm'rin' in the noonday light, 
And now reflectin' in the night 
The million diamonds o' the sky, 
O' God's ain crown the jewel'ry. 
O that's a sight to gar us think 
How sma' we are how short our blink 
O' life, wi' a' its hopes and fears ! 
How many hunner thoosan' years 
These stars that nightly watches keep, 
Hae sparkled in the inky deep, 
That moaned and groaned as one in pain, 
And, aifter silence, moaned again, 

Like one that's sad and weary. 
While its great waves nae galleys bore 
And nae man walked this lonely shore 
Sae lonely then, and dreary ! 

Ye canna ca' the country dull, 

When we can show sic sights as these 
The arrow flight o' divin' gull, 

When in the deep his prey he sees ; 
The waves o' light and shade that pass 

Like gambols o' some leevin' thing 
Across the early corn or grass 

On any windy day in Spring ; 
The blue smoke o' the peat one sees 

Rise, pillar-like, when air is still, 
'Gainst a dark backgrun' o' the trees, 

Or heather-covered moor or hill ; 
The primroses that look sae sweet, 

The buttercups that meadows fill, 
The daisy carpets at our feet, 

The heather higher up the hill, 
The wild rose and the hawthorn bloom 

That welcomes early simmer in, 



AN ANTRIM GLEN 19 

The gowan and the yellow broom, 

The honeysuckle and the whin 
Not the puir scraggy whin that fills 

A hole in hedges here and there, 
But it that grows amang the hills, 

And's nourished wi' the salt sea air, 
The sight's worth goin' miles to see : 

The man wha hasna seen it, he 

Has not begun to leeve, 
A mass o' gold frae tip to sod, 

Wi' spikes o' bloom that ow'r it rise, 
Each like the flamin' sword o' God 

That barr'd the gate o' Paradise 

Frae Adam and frae Eve. 
What use is it this wonder pray ? 
I hear some money-grubber say. 

I'm sure it has its uses, 
Altho' I canna write them doon. 
(Ye canna see the whins in toon 

They winna grow near hooses.) 



THE SCENTS 

O many a pleasant scent is here 

At ev'ry season o' the year : 

There's first the scents, as weel ye know, 

O' a' the flowers I telt ye o', 

Wi' mair that in the gardens grow. 

When hawthorn dons her weddin'-goon 
Somewhere aboot the first o' June 

(For that's the time she marries), 
The air is maist delightfu' then 

Wi' odours sweet frae hedge and trees, 



20 HOME AND THE MAN 

And nae words drappin' frae my pen 
Can tell the scent the simmer breeze 

That crosses bean-fields carries. 
Then ye will like the smell o' hay, 

As ev'ry person like it must ; 
And ye can smell on simmer day, 
When rain fa's gently on the dust, 
An odour not displeasin'. 
The smell is guid the pine-tree yields ; 

And wind will carry to and fro 
The smell o' burnin' weeds in fields 
I like that awfu' weel, altho' 

It sets some folks a-sneezin'. 
Then there's the perfume o' the lime, 
And when the sun shines hot on thyme, 

What grand scent it produces ! 
There's many another wee bit smell 
O' which it's no' worth while to tell ; 
But sweet peat-reek I'll just set doon 
(It's no' like coal-reek o' the toon 

The reek o' raws o' hooses). 



THE SOUNDS 

We hear the babble o' the brooks 

The thunder o' the waterfalls 
The pleasant cawin' o' the rooks 

The whistle when the curlew calls ; 
We hear the plash o' risin' tides, 

The rustle o' the wind in wheat, 
The bleat o' sheep on mountain sides, 

The bees' hum on the blossoms sweet. 
We hear the tinklin' chapel bell 

That calls the glenside folks to pray, 



AN ANTRIM GLEN 21 

The notes that on the breezes swell 
At morn and eve on Sabbath day. 

If e'er I veesit foreign pairts, 

And hear great bells that shake the air, 

See churches trophies o' the airts 
Hear organ's peal and trumpet's blare 
Bewild'rin' and astoundin' ; 

Thro' crash o' chimes and music's swell 

I'll hear the tinkle o' that bell 

In glen o' Antrim soundin'. 

And then we hae the song o' birds 

The mavis wi' his low, sweet note 
That canna be described in words ; 

The lark, whose never-tirin' throat, 
Frae the far regions o' the sky 

Pours doon a flood o' melody ; 
The robin's short and simple lay 

That never fails the ear to please, 
The yoit's * lang chitter that, they say, 

Asks breed and butter, but no cheese. 

I maist forgot the bird o' Spring 
The cuckoo and his welcome note ; 

There's many a bird that tries to sing, 
Maks nae sic music wi' his throat. 

I'm weel aware, that, as to brood, 

His reputation's no' sae guid ; 

His sendin' o' his young to dwell 

In nests he hasna bigg'd f himsel' 
A cunnin' kind o' ruse is ; 

* Pronounced yoyt, the yellow-hammer. In its curious twitter, 
ending in a long note, the country people profess to hear the words : 
" A little bit of bread and butter, but no che-e-e-e-se." 

t Built. 



22 HOME AND THE MAN 

But I forgie the graceless loon, 
His cry has sic a pleasin' soon' 
(Ye canna hear the cry in toon 

He hates the sight o' hooses). 



IRELAND 

WHAT land is there like Ireland 
To hold in sweetest thrall 
The hearts of sons and daughters 
Let good or ill befall ! 
God save her, pray her children, 
Wherever they may roam, 
The green land of the shamrock, 
Wet with Atlantic foam. 

In Ireland there are voices 
In winds and in the waves ; 
The stranger never hears them 
How much soe'er he craves. 
Before their words mysterious 
Can sound to list'ning ears 
The blood must flow in Ireland 
For twice a hundred years. 

Whence are these sounds the Irish 

Hear sounding evermore, 

On moorland, on the mountain, 

By lake and wild sea-shore ? 

They come from saints and heroes, - 

Old are the graves they fill, 

But o'er the land that nurs'd them 

Their spirits hover still. 



IRELAND 23 

What are they like, these voices ? 
Like music borne on breeze 
Like song from ancient galleys 
Ploughing the northern seas. 
Like chant of men of battle, 
That march with swinging tread. 
Like sighs, like mournful wailing 
Over a lov'd one dead. 



What say these spirit voices 
To all that feel their thrill ? 
They tell in wordless stories 
Of love and warlike skill. 
They speak the joy, the sadness, 
The laughter and the tears 
Of Ireland's great departed 
Thro' centuries of years. 



O land of sunset glories, 
Lone island of the west, 
Of all lands to thy children 
The fairest one and best. 
Thy sons will cease to love thee 
And for thy sake to toil 
When clinging shamrock ceases 
To love the Irish soil. 



II 

WIFE AND WEAN 

IT was in Scotland that Pat met the lassie who was to become 
his wife. Buying and selling farm produce in his enterprising 
fashion, he made in his early days very frequent journeys to 
the sister country, and on one of these, at Dumfries on a fair 
day, he met his fate. A shopkeeper who knew Pat effected 
an introduction, and so well did the young Antrim man make 
use of his opportunities on this and the following visit that 
the girl gave him permission to speak to her parents. The 
application was not favourably received. Probably a consent 
would have been given soon had it been question only of 
satisfying father and mother. But the greatest opposition 
came not from a relative but from the friend of the family, 
in this case a stout old lady whose litany contained a petition 
for preservation from Irishmen and foreigners. " Nasty ill- 
speakin' folk," she said, " goin' aboot shootin' people " if 
she had a daughter she would never let her marry an Irish- 
man. At an arranged interview Pat endeavoured to mollify 
the crusty old Scotchwoman by pointing out that most of the 
glen folk came from Scotland ages ago ; that the Plantation 
and persecutions brought others, and that Antrim folk were 
nearer to her by blood than many on her side of the water. 
It was of no use ; the old lady could not be reasoned out of 
her antipathy to Irishmen. She could not away with what 
she called their " bad tongues " and their murderous pro- 
pensities, and when Pat asked her to believe that not every 

25 



26 WIFE AND WEAN 

countryman answered to her conception she ended the 
conference with the remark, " Ye're a' tarr'd wi' the 
same stick." 

In the end the constancy of the young couple softened 
the hearts of the elders who had a right to speak, and the 
marriage took place. It meant a break with the old lady 
tyrant (she relented not), but the decision was never re- 
gretted by the girl's parents, one of whom still survives. 
The union has been productive of a happiness and content 
rare even among what are called happy marriages. Mrs. 
M'Carty has a strong objection to the appearance in print 
of any statements about her, but this much may be said in 
defiance of her wishes, that she has retained the girlish good 
looks that attracted the lover of fifteen years ago. Of the 
bairn it is permitted to speak, and she is certainly a peculiar 
child. 

During the early days of their married life, Pat and his 
wife did what is common, perhaps, to nearly all of their age 
and condition. They thought a great deal of the possible 
new life to come to them, and the form it might take. 
Inclination settled that it was to be a girl needless to say, 
a bonnie child, and a good one. She was to be called 
Phyllis, partly because the mother to be had read a story 
in which the heroine, a very sweet and gracious girl, bore 
that name, and partly because it sounded so well with 
M'Carty. And as the pair talked half-seriously, half-jokingly 
of all they would like the loved one to be and become, there 
was evolved the ideal of a gay, lovable little being, full of 
wit and wisdom, representing the parents' conceptions of all 
that is beautiful and good in child form. A little room, with 
broad, low window, overlooking the garden, was to be " the 
bairn's room when she's auld enough," and the expectant 
mother's hands wrought for many days at cot and window 
draperies and the useless useful things that women love, to 
make beautiful the room for yet unopened eyes. Outside, 



WIFE AND WEAN 27 

by the window, Pat planted a blush rose and a honeysuckle 
" to look in on her/' and here, too, he laid out and planted 
with pinks, primroses, lavender, and all sweet-smelling 
things, a garden in the garden a tiny plot, with minia- 
ture boxwood-bordered paths, forming circles, crescents, and 
angles such as could be tended by tiny hands. In those 
days a father in imagination led to the fields a little child, 
who chased butterflies and filled dimpled hands with posies 
of short-stemmed flowers, while she waited for a ride home 
on one of the horses, or he walked with her by the rushing 
waters in the deep dark glens, and shared his plant-lore with 
a wise little listener. And a mother saw dolls dressed, heard 
the patter of little feet through the house, and nightly 
kissed little drowsy eyes asleep in the cot she had prepared. 
So did these two imaginative persons, while busy and happy 
in their daily work, dream of greater happiness to come, and 
speak and act almost as if their daughter had arrived. 

But she never came. And when those who had talked 
of her, and planned for her, realised that she was not 
coming, the child of their imaginings was too dear to be 
given up. Novelists have had real tears in their eyes for 
the sufferings of their created children, and little Phyllis 
M'Carty was more real to these country folk than any 
novelist's creation. If it was denied to their eyes to see 
and their arms to enfold their child, they had this satis- 
faction, that she kept her first innocence and beauty, sick- 
ness or evil could not harm her, death could not take her 
away. So she kept and keeps her place in their lives the 
garden planned for her is hers, and the first flowers of the 
honeysuckle and the rose that look in at the window are 
always placed in "the bairn's room." For her the mother 
sings songs as she goes about her work, and imagines " situa- 
tions " in which the bonnie little daughter appears. For her 
the father has written what he calls "a deal o' nonsense." 
And this is some of it. 



28 WIFE AND WEAN 



THE ANGEL CT THE HOOSE 

DID you ever see a cherub, 
Father ! Ever ever see 

A bonnie white wee angel 
Aboot the size o' me ? 

I think I did, my dearie, 
Yes once I caught a sight 

O' somethin' like a cherub, 
And just aboot your height. 

O ! really ! father really ! 

Tell me what did you see ? 
Was it fleein' doon frae heaven ? 

Was it roostin' on a tree ? 

Na, dear 'twas in the garden 

I saw the angel stand 
Beside the white moss rose-bush, 

A white rose in its hand. 

O father ! that's my rose-bush, 

The one you gave to me ; 
I'm glad the little angel 

Stood where I love to be. 
And did ye hear it singin' 

The sang an angel sings ? 
And did ye see its golden croon ? 

And did ye see its wings ? 

What sangs are sung by angels, 

My dear, I canna tell ; 
It may be that the wee one 

Sang saftly to itsel'. 



THE FEARSOMEST BEASTS 29 

I saw nae wings behind it, 

The face was turnit roon, 
But I am sure and certain 

I saw a golden croon. 

What did ye do then, father ? 

Did you creep very near, 
And stretch your hand out gently 

To catch the bonnie dear ? 

I look'd up just a minute, 

But in that minute sma' 
It must ha' left the rose-bush, 

I look'd it was awa'. 

O father, what a peety ! 

Ye might ha' seen it flee 
Awa' up into heaven 

If ye had watch'd a wee. 

God bless the bairn my cherub, 

And spare her lang to me, 
That fleein' up to heaven 

I do not want to see. 



THE FEARSOMEST BEASTS 

A wee bit o' nonsense to mak' the bairn sleep. 

O FEYTHER, dear, I canna sleep, 
Sit here beside my bed, 
And talk to me a wee, wee bit, 
Aboot things ye hae read. 



30 WIFE AND WEAN 

O' a' the strange and fearsome beasts 
That mak' puir bodies flee, 

What would ye ca' the very warst 
That's possible to be ? 

It's true, my dear, there's awfu' beasts 

Ye'll never see, I pray, 
But which are just the very warst 

Is difficult to say. 
If I was press'd to gie them names, 

I'd ca' the warst, I think, 
The Jim-jak and the Wiggle-flop, 

The Fardy and the Squink. 

And what's the Jim-jak like, dear dad ? 

Weel, dear it's just ye see 
It looks that is it's shapit like 

I mean appears to be 
A sort o' kind o' cur'ous beast 

That isn't often seen ; 
Ye'll ken the better what it's like 

If ye will shut your een. 

Weel, tell me o' the Wiggle-flop ; 

I've shut my een tight tight. 
That's guid, my lammie, keep them shut, 

Don't open them to-night. 
The Wiggle-flop's, I'm sure, as high 

As, weel maist anything ; 
And as for length it's fu' as lang 

As is a piece o' string. 

The Fardy, feyther. Yes, my dear, 
Just keep your een tight clos'd, 

It's just the maist amazin' beast 
That ever wak'd or doz'd. 



THE LAND O' NAE SURPRISE 31 

At ev'ry corner there's a leg, 

At one end is a tail, 
And at the ither end a mooth 

In that it's like a whale. 

And what ? Now, darlin', dinna move, 

And dinna even think 
And I'll proceed to tell you o' 

That ither beast, the Squink. 
It is, ye see I see a gape, 

John Nod is comin' fast, 
The Squink, ye see God bless the bairn, 

She's off to sleep at last. 



THE LAND CT NAE SURPRISE 

WHEN bairns on pillows lay their heids, 

And shut their peepin' eyes, 
A bonnie angel taks them off 

To land o' Nae Surprise. 
It is a land o' mysteries, 

O' wonders great and sma', 
If I should leeve a hunder years, 

I couldna tell them a'. 

Far stranger things will happen there 

Than ever man devis'd, 
And what surprises ye the maist 

Is that ye're no' surpris'd. 
A wee lang-leggit beggar-lass 

Will turn into a queen, 
And when ye think she's fat as fat, 

She'll grow as lean as lean. 



32 WIFE AND WEAN 

A cabbage there may be a rose, 

A rosebud cabbage size ; 
There's great onsartinty wi' things 

In land o' Nae Surprise. 
Nae word is just exackly sure 

O' what it ocht to mean, 
And red's no' sartain sure it's red 

But thinks it's maybe green. 

Ye're speakin' to a leddy fine, 

And, sudden, then and there 
She changes to an elephant 

And flees up thro' the air. 
Then while ye watch the elephant, 

And think he flaps right well, 
Ye find ye hae got wings to flap 

And flee awa' yersel'. 

And when it's near to breakfast-time 

A funny beastie comes 
And brings the bairnies back to land 

O' copybooks and sums. 
They ca' the beast the Brattle- Pig, 

And when it makes a noise, 
Sma' folk are back at hame in bed ; 

Just sleepy girls and boys. 



DID YOU EVER? 

DID you ever see the sun 
When his day's wark's nearly done, 
Wi' his hand stuck in his pocket 
And his heid to one side cockit, 
Smilin' beams o' golden light 
While he's waitin' for the night ? 



DID YOU EVER? 33 

Did you ever see the sea 
Take it easy-like a wee 
Wi' the gulls aboon her cryin', 
And she at fu' length lyin' 
On her bed o' broon seaweed 
Wi' her hands beneath her heid ? 



Did you ever see the moon 
On a winter afternoon 
Mak' a lookin'-glass o' water ; 
See the mirror quickly shatter 
As it lay before your sight 
Into bits o' silver light ? 



Did you ever hear the trees 

Talk in whispers to the breeze 

O' the Spring and Summer glories ; 

Laughin' at the funny stories, 

That sae cunnin'ly he weaves, 

Till their laughter shakes the leaves ? 



Did you ever see the stars 

Ridin' roon the sky on cars 

Made o' clouds and mists and vapours, 

Winkin', shooting cuttin' capers, 

Playin' hide-and-seek bo-peep, 

When the moon is fast asleep ? 



Never saw sic things, ye said, 
Why, wherever were ye bred ? 
Dootless in some toonship smoky 
Whaur the air is thick and choky, 



34 WIFE AND WEAN 

Whaur they hae nae sun nor moon, 

Nor a breeze to play a tune, 

Or to tell a funny story ; 

Whaur the water's mirror'd glory, 

Sleepin' sea and starry blue, 

Are for ever hid frae view. 

Och, I peety ye I do. 



Ill 

VISITORS 

WITH the first primrose of the Spring comes the earlier 
members of a band of yearly visitors to the glens. These 
are the men who lovingly measure and describe the gaunt 
remains of early Christian churches, and annually test the 
deflection of their tottering walls, who burrow in souterrains, 
" squeeze " stones for oghams, and pass the mud of a crannog 
through their fingers in the hope of finding a bit of old 
pottery, or the bone needle that stitched a fur tunic of pre- 
historic man. They are the men who are the despair of 
their wives by reason of the trash they bring home, in the 
form of rotten wood, which may have been part of the fur- 
clad man's canoe, flint flakes, celts, and stone hammers, 
fragments of cinerary urns, and the bones and shells from 
the kitchen middens of the old inhabitants. They are the 
botanists who know where Adiantum Capillus- Veneiis grows wild 
and won't tell you, whose coat pockets bulge out with anaemic 
docks and nettles, which they will take home and plant and 
tend lovingly in the hope that they may prove to be hitherto 
unnamed varieties. They are the men who have a search- 
ing eye for grandfathers' clocks, oak linen-chests, old iron 
sconces, and bits of Waterford cut glass. They are the men 
whose pipes go out as they pass a cottage in the hills, 
making it needful to go in and beg a bit of live peat to light 
them again, or who want a drink of butter-milk or water and 
the opportunity to talk with the deaf old woman by the fire 

35 



36 VISITORS 

about the banshees, the fairies, the old songs, stories, beliefs, 
and all that goes by the name of folk-lore. Some of them 
have paints and brushes and paper or canvas, some have 
cameras, and some have nothing at all but a great love in 
their hearts for the land and the people, a delight in the 
touch of the heather or grass and the sight of the hills and 
sea. Most of them know Pat and have found a welcome in 
his home, and with some of them he has dealt humorously as 
in the rhymes which follow. 



THE ARTIST 

His claes were thin and shabby when first he reached this 

pairt, 
Wi' box o' pents and brushes and a big sowl fu' o' Airt. 

His purse was thin and hungry wi' a leanness sair to see ; 
Its twa sides clapp'd thegither just as lean as lean could be. 

He pented land and seascapes and he didna pent them ill, 
And tuk leeberties wi' Nature for to mak' them finer still. 

He pented a his simmer skies a double extry blue, 
Nae Antrim sky since Adam leev'd had ever sic a hue. 

He acted very leeberal to mountains as to height, 

And gied them a' a thoosan' feet aboon their size by right. 

And whaur the coast had naethin' hard to meet the billows' 

shocks, 
He thocht it only fair to pent a wheen o' craggy rocks. 

A lake or twa he would insart to change the country's face, 
And trees in twas and threes and groves he dabb'd a' ow'r 
the place. 



THE ARTIST 37 

He even in his picters wad the times and saisons change, 
Had new-born lambs at harvest time a thing we thocht was 
strange. 

" Imagination, aye/' he said, " should guide the penter's 
hand," 

And that, of coorse, explain'd the things we didna under- 
stand. 

He wark'd wi' mortial industry and few divarteesements, 
The wal * was hard put to to find the water for his pents. 

And, week by week, he bundled aff to London picter men 
His landscapes and his seascapes and his studies o' the glen. 

But still the puir wee purse was lean, its twa sides did 

adhere, 
Its stomach hadna shelter'd goold for nigh upon a year. 

In sheer despair anither sketch, his biggest yet, he tried, 
A sheet o' three feet lang or mair and maybe twa feet wide. 

A maisterpiece it was to be o' airtist's brain and hand, 
He show'd the distant Scottish shore and miles o' sea and 
land. 

He put in a' that for these pairts Dame Nature had decreed, 
And things she hadna thocht o' he invented frae his heid. 

He made a reef o' wicked rocks rin right acrass the bay, 
He used his verra deepest blue to reprisint the say. 

Behind big Billy Shepherd's hoose he made a mountain be, 
And planted his bog-medda wi' a cur'ous kind o' tree. 

* Well. 



38 VISITORS 

He shifted objecks till he found their maist effective spot, 
And in the foremost foregrun' plac'd auld Peggy Martin's 
cot. 

Auld Peggy was a widdy wife wi' temper and a tongue 
That talk'd three husbands to their graves while yet a woman 
young. 

Her hoose was puir and Airt is Airt, but still I must admit 
He took ow'r mony leeberties the day he pented it. 

He made the wa's a' tumble-doon and slimy green and foul, 
And took the chimney aff the hoose to plase his airtist sowl. 

It wadna weel agree wi' that to hae it waterproof, 
Sae holes in great variety he dotted ow'r the roof. 

The windys a' were stuff'd wi' rags to make them har- 

moneeze, 
And just inside the kitchen daur a braw pig stood at ease. 

The midden that behind the byre was found in Peggy's case, 
He pented right forninst the door in a convanient place. 

The picter finished to his taste the puir consaited wretch 
Invited Peg, then passin' near, to come and see the sketch. 

She cam' wi' smiles, her can o' suds she sat doon by the way 
And apron-wip'd her airms a bit, for it was weshin' day. 

She look'd, she grunted, grunted mair the smilin' face was 

gone ; 
It didna need a seer to see a storm was comin' on. 



THE ARTIST 39 

" And wha's pig-stye is that ? " quo' she, " wha's pig-stye may 

it be, 
Is that my hoose ? noo answer that, just answer straight to 

me." 

He tried to soothe the angry wife, and show'd that tratement 

free 
O' subjeck was the airtist's right, as plain as plain could be. 

" Deil tak' ye and yer subjeck and the tratement ye ca' free, 
It's the tratement o' the widdy that I'm thinkin' o'," quo' she. 

" I've slaved till I can hardly stand on my twa blissid feet 
To hae the place look dacent like in that there pented 
sheet. 

'* I whitewesh'd a' the wa's mysel', I did them yesterday, 
I wesh'd the windys weel wi' soap and swep' the yerd o' 
strae. 

" And that's my thanks, my gintleman, and that's the way ye 

trate 
A puir lone widdy that has got to am her bit o' mate. 

" Ye winna hae the pleesure, tho', to send abroad yer cheat," 
Wi' that she dash'd her dirty suds right ow'r the pented sheet. 

" Ye ca' it wather-colour wark, I ca' it trash instead, 
But wather-colour it will be in arnest noo," she said. 

Then aff she stepp'd, her angry voice still growlin* oot her ills, 
Like thunder sweerin' to itsel' awa' amang the hills. 

The puir wee penter man sat doon and cudna help but weep 
While frae the sheet the dirty suds went dhreepin' dhreep- 
a-dhreep. 



40 VISITORS 

And yin side o' the hungry purse said to the ither then, 
" It's plain to me there'll naethin' come 'twixt you and me 
again." 

The penter's een still weepin' sair fell on his pictur wet, 
He thocht it didna look sae bad and might be savit yet. 

The suds that wesh'd some pent awa' had blended what re- 
mained 
To gie result the penter's skill could never hae attained. 

The pictur, then, wi' doots and fears its journey did perform 
To London toon and lo, behold, it took the place by storm. 

It fairly took the breath awa' frae the suparior pow'rs, 
And big folk cam' in carriages to look at it for hours. 

" Hoo beautiful ! hoo eggswhiskit ! " the leddies a' exclaimed, 
And thro' their spy-glesses obsarv'd what penter hadn't 
dhramed. 

" Sic pearly greys ! " the critics said, " sic atmosphere ! sic 

tone ! 
It's shair the finest piece o' wark the century has shown." 

The pictur papers a' prodooced the penter's potograph, 
And a' the larn'd societies elected him straight aff. 

The king that rules these kingdoms three and nane may 

disobey 
Commanded him, on penalty, to dine wi' him next day. 

The puir wee purse sae hungry yince, wi' clingin' sides sae 

lean, 
Is noo aboot the fattest purse that ever met yer een. 



THE ANTIQUARY 41 

iter drives his coach and gangs in sty 

(He doesn't tell the people, tho', o' Peggy and the suds). 



And noo the penter drives his coach and gangs in stylish 
duds 



THE ANTIQUARY 

WHEN days begin to lengthen oot 

At seed-time o' the year, 

A wee bald-heided cratur, stoot, 

Wi' glesses on, comes here. 

It's sic a sure and sartin fack 

That lengthenin' days will bring 

Our frien'fthe antiquary back, 

He's ca'd "the Sign o' Spring." 

He'll scart * auld tombstanes by the 'oor 

To find some name or date, 

His face a' blacken' d by the stour,f 

What cares he ? deil a haet. 

He revels in blue-mo wlded things 

That mickle need a wash, 

Auld rusty buckles, bolts, and rings, 

That common folk ca' trash. 

For twa-three fossils frae a rock 

He'll walk ten mile or mair ; 

H'd gie his heid for some auld crock 

O' prehistoric ware. 

The bits o' trumpery he brings 

Up by to let me see 

Are juist the maist rediklus things 

That's possible to be. 

He's got the veritable tail 

O' Queen Matilda's sark, 

' Scratch. t Dirt, dust. 



42 VISITORS 

The jug that used to haud the ale 

That Shakspere drank at wark ; 

He's got the tawse King David used 

To scalp unruly weans, 

And twa pair breeches, much abus'd, 

That cloth'd his nether banes ; 

The circlet o' Queen Mary's waist 

(A dirty-lookin' dud), 

The tail hairs o' an anshent baste 

That leev'd before the flood. 

A' these and muckle rnair I've seen 

Things brocht frae every airt ; 

Let but the thing be auld, my frien' 

Will tak' it to his hairt. 



I mind me o' the day when first 

I met him wi' his load ; 

The horse had stopp'd to quench his thirst 

As he cam' doon the road. 

He emptied oot his bag o' stanes 

On paper on his knees, 

And show'd me some wi' herrin'-banes 

And some wi' marks like trees. 

"Are ony ammonites," quo' he, 

" In these pairts roondaboot ? " 

I thocht he pokit fun at me 

And answered straight : " Nae doot 

There's lots o' them they're common sights, 

Ye'll fin' them here in wheens,* 

And Jebusites and Moabites 

And sometimes Philistines." 

I had nae lear o' fossils then, 

Nor ever had a squint 

* Lots, quantities. 



THE ANTIQUARY 43 

At tools o' prehistoric men, 

Or workit flake o' flint. 

But ere he left I thocht I knew 

A guid deal o' the trade, 

And thocht I understandit hoo 

A trifle micht be made. 

He read me frae his catalogues 

The price o' flints and stanes, 

The horns o' animals frae bogs, 

Auld skulls, and bits o' banes. 

It seemit strange that folk should buy 

Sic ugly, useless trash, 

But if they wantit it why, I 

Wad find it them for cash. 

Next morn I started to colleck, 

And drew a load o' flint ; 

I had, as near's I recolleck, 

Five thoosan' pieces in't. 

I valued them at twopence each, 

'Twas naethin' to the price 

That larn'd professor folk wha teach 

Wad fork out in a trice. 

I fun' twa useless kitchen crooks, 

A braukin three-legg'd pot, 

Some rusty spades and reapin' hooks, 

And for the anshent lot 

I fixed a guinea to be paid 

Sae moderate was I ; 

Auld aim work my frien' had said 

Museum folk wad buy. 

I minded me my feyther's dog, 

He had when we were weans, 

Was deid and berrit in the bog 

I diggit up the banes. 



44 VISITORS 

I pric'd the skull at one pun' ten, 
Leg banes ten shillin' each ; 
No' willin' that the teacher men 
Should fin' them oot o' reach. 
The shafts o' an auld rotten cairt 
And keel o' fishin' boat, 
I thocht, self-interest apairt, 
Were worth a five-pun' note. 

My treasures a' by Monday night 

Were rangit in a row, 

They seemed to my unlearnit sight 

To mak' a guidly show. 

The chairge, too, seemed a proper fee, 

But, by the Tuesday morn, 

I thocht if but advanced a wee 

'Twould buy a field o' corn. 

On Wednesday I thocht the price 

Was still a bit too low ; 

It should, at varra laste, be twice 

As much I made it so. 

Thinks I at that I'll let it be, 

From addin' mair refrain ; 

By Friday afternoon at three 

I raised the price again. 

I thocht wi' guid museum stuff 

Anither rise nae hairm ; 

By Saturday I had enough 

To buy a dacent fairm. 

And then my thochts went far afield, 
And saw a bright career ; 
If yin sma' week a' that can yield, 
What winna dae a year ? 



THE BOTANIST 45 

Ye ken hoo thocht desires will breed 

And hoo desires expand ; 

A farm nae langer satisfeed, 

I bocht the haill toon-land. 

And noo a person o' estate 

Wi' lands let oot on lease, 

I saw mysel' a magistrate, 

A justice o' the peace. 

Sae verra near and sure it seem'd, 

My bosom heav'd wi' pride ; 

I leeved respeckit and esteem'd 

By a' the country side. 

Next week my frien' a veesit paid, 

We clamber'd straight abaft 

To whaur my precious stock in trade 

Was rangit in the laft. 

I show'd wi' ill-concealit glee 

The objecks o' my quest, 

He look'd at them he look'd at me, 

I needna tell the rest. 



THE BOTANIST 

HE had a silver-heided cane, 
And tappit gintly, tapp'd again 
He seekit shelter frae the rain. 

Weel dress'd was he frae croon to heel, 
An unco stylish, spic and span, 
A maist oncommon nice young man, 
And look'd as if he kenn'd it weel. 



46 VISITORS 

The face at first sicht lookit smairt, 

Baith cheeks and chin were shavit bare 

And groomit wi' extremest care, 

The bit moustache a thing o' airt. 

The nose was straight, the een were broon, 

Sae far a' richt but yince aboon 

There seemit somethin' wantin' there. 

I thocht wi' a' his clever air 

The forehead started ower soon 

To join the weel pomaded hair. 

We said to him " Mak' nae excuse, 

We bid ye welcome to the hoose." 

He doff'd his hat wi' lordly air, 

And tuk wi' grace the proffer'd chair. 

" I hear ye're fond o' flow'rs," quo' he. 

" Wha tell't ye that has tell't nae lee," 

Said I, " I ken their ways a wee, 

But dinna study them frae books, 

'Tis frae theirsels I learn their looks." 

" / study books," quo' he, wi' pride, 

" A botanist am I. 
We micht, noo that it's clear again, 
Gang botaneesin' doon the lane 
If ye consent to be my guide." 

" Wi' pleasure," I reply. 

I found oot early in the walk 
He'd plenty o' that fluent talk 

That wi' sma' sense agrees ; 
And as we trampit ow'r the fields 
Discoorsin' o' what Nature yields 

In way o' plants and trees 
His weel-parfumit hankerchay 
Was like the coast o' Araby, 

It scented a' the breeze. 



THE BOTANIST 47 

A langer talk made me to ken 
My brawly titivated fren' 
Was mair consarn'd wi' Latin names 
Than wi' the beauties o' the plants, 
Their form and character and wants, 
And places whaur they mak' their hames. 
I thocht I'd bother him a bit, 
And yet nae mortal sin commit. 

I show'd him first my primrose beds, 
My lilacs, yellows, whites, and reds, 
My auld deep crimsons, china blue, 
And ev'ry ither kind and hue. 
Doubles and singles, hose-in-hose, 
The kind whaur leaves the flow'rs enclose, 
" Jack-i'-the-green " we ca' it here 
The fruit o' quests for many a year. 
And as he look'd I heard him say 
"Order Prim you lass see aye." 
" Prim lass," quo' I, "wha's she, my fren' ? 
We've sonsy lassies in the glen, 
But dinna ca' them prim, I beg ; 
They're just as guid as guid can be, 
And neither prim nor ower free, 
A wee bit stumpy i' the leg 

But that's nae great defeck. 
A human bodie's like a tree 
A wee bit stunted near the sea, 

It's what ye wad expeck. 
If so be that ye want a wife 
Ye can't gang wrang I ken them a', 
Modest and guid, I'll stake my life, 
But prim! na God be thankit na." 

He pu'd a cuckoo sourleek next, 
( Oxalis ' gie'd the needed text. 



48 VISITORS 

"I'm glad/' said I, "to hear ye say 

Ax Alice glad am I this day. 

O' coorse ye mean wee Alice Carr, 

I tell ye man ye micht do waur ; 

The tither Alice up the hill, 

Whase feyther keeps the scutchin' mill, 

Wad be ow'r auld for you I think ; 

And if ye're pausin' on the brink 

O' matrimony, tak advise 

Frae ane reputed to be wise, 

And as ye love a peacefu' life 

Seek even temper in your wife. 

Nae maitter what her warldly gear, 

A sulky girnin' wife is dear. 

A woman grievin' for hersel' 

Will mak' your hame a parfit hell ; 

But Alice Carr the maid's a right, 

I ken her sin' she was that height, 

She'll keep ye aye a happy man 

I wish ye joy here, tak' my han." 

A talk o' Polypody fern 
Came handy here ses I, " Puir bairn, 
Polly the bodie might I speir * 
If she's some lassie, leevin' near, 
Wha has, or thinks she has, a claim 
On luve frae you and future hame ; 
Some one ye thocht was sweet until 
Ye found anither sweeter still ? 
If that is sae gang tell the truth 
In manly way by word o' mooth ; 
But if she leeves ow'r far awa' 
For you to pay a friendly ca', 

* Ask. 



THE BOTANIST 49 

A nice bit letter, true and kind, 
Will tell her o' your change o' mind ; 
Ye'll then hae naethin' to lament, 
And wi' puir Polly's free consent 
Ye'll drink a fu' unpoison'd chalice 
O' luve wi' that wee lassie Alice." 



That knock'd him ower, so to spake, 

'Twas some time ere he silence brake ; 

He twirl'd the silver-heided stick, 

Just what to say he didna ken. 

I think it must hae struck him then 

He'd fa'en in wi' a lunatick, 

And wi' the air o' one that frames 

Reproof that winna sair offend, 

"I wad hae thocht," quo' he, "ye kenn'd 

At laste the common Latin names." 



" Dear boy," I said, " I ken them weel 

And hoo they cam' to be. 
Ere Eve oor mither met the deil 

And touch'd the aipple tree, 
'Twas Adam's task ae simmer day 

To name the beasts and birds, 
The fish that prowl aboot the seas, 
The fleein' insecks, plants and trees, 

Wi' fit appropret words. 
And I maun say he did it weel 
Wi' maist oncommon care and skeel 

Up to a sartin pint, 
Wi' wisdom wonderfu' and taste 
The image o' the bird or baste 

Is in the word enshrin't. 



50 VISITORS 

Let's for example tak' the soo,* 
Noo disna that word bring to view 
A gret big, ugly, gruntlin' baste 
Wi' nae refeenment not the laste ? 
And sarpint to yer mind will bring 
A lang, sly, slimy, creepy thing, 
The word's enough to mak' ye yell. 
And in the case o' chimpanzee 
Why, man, it awmost mak's ye SEE 
The leevin' image o' yersel'. 

" Then look at hippopotamus, 

The baste's a mountain sae's the word ; 

Sae on wi' animal or bird 

That got its name before the fuss 

And botheration turn'd his heid ; 

A' commentators are agreed 

The nomenclature's o' the best ; 

The names wi' which the things are drest 

Descriptive and appropriate. 

But when the 'oor was gettin' late 

Puir Adam didna dae sae weel ; 

I ken just richtly hoo he'd feel 

Confoozled wi' the scraighs f o' whales 

Dragg'd ow'r the gravel by their tails, 

And fluster'd at the cur'ous shapes 

O' bastes he never saw before. 

Imagine a' the fierce uproar 

O' hippopotamuses, apes, 

Constructor-sarpints, conger eels, 

A' wriggiin' like sae mony deils, 

Them jumpin'-jacks the kangaroos 

Deev'd } wi' the squawks o' cockatoos 

* Sow. t Screeches the gh guttural. Deafened. 



THE BOTANIST 51 

Far frae accustom'd hames 
Nae doot wi' empty wames.* 
It's no' to wonder at, indeed, 
The puir man nearly lost his heid. 

" The first sign o' his failin' pow'rs 
Was gie'en Christian names to flow'rs. 
A wee thing that he surnam'd Thus, 
A cousin o' the primrose clan, 
He had her christen'd Polly Ann ! 
'Twas parfitly ridiculous. 
Amy Rillis, Amy Ranthus, 
Ann Emony, and Alice Sum, 
'Twas plainly frae a brain-box numb 
Came titles sae anomalous. 
The man was sleepin' on his feet. 
Indeed I think it wasna reet 
To gang on warkin' after dark, 
And he sae weary o' the wark, 
When naethin' rested to be nam'd 
But plants nae bigger than a flea, 
Wee scradions t ye could hardly see ; 
The puir man shouldna' then be blam'd 
That 'stead o' dacent fillin' words 
Inventit for the bastes and birds 
He reel'd aff lang unmeanin' screeds, 
Big lang syllabic centipedes, 
The sma'er plant the bigger word, 
Skedaddlin' ow'r the alphabet 
To mak' some fearsome epithet 
The scribe had bother to record, 

His only light the moon. 

* Stomachs. 

f Irish scraidin anything contemptibly undersized. The word is 
generally applied in Ulster to potatoes, apples, plants, &c. 



52 VISITORS 

And when the angel made complent 
Nae ears sic rigmaroles could seize, 
And names sae lang and coorse as these 
Wad look ridiculous in prent, 
Puir Adam frae the land o' drames 
Just murmur'd, ' Them's the Latin names, 
Ye'd better write them doon.' ' 



That tuk the botanist aback, 

He look'd as if he'd like to say 

He thocht puir o' my intelleck 

We shakit hands, and said "Good day." 



THE LADY FRAE LONDON 

FRAE far-aflf Babylon o' modern days 
She came, a veesitor, to Antrim glens, 
Seekin' to larn a leetle o' the ways 
O' savage Irish in their native dens. 
She had a movin' tale of flood to tell, 
Had cross'd a sea she ne'er had cross'd before, 
Had seen its great green billows heave and swell 
And break wi' thunder on the Antrim shore. 
She shudder'd as she thocht o' that deep sea, 
And what she ca'd " its wild unceasin' strife/' 
And wonder'd at her ain great braverie 
That trusted to its breest her precious life, 
The puir wee thing. 

I thocht o' fishers tost 

Thro' lang wild nichts in cockle-shells o' boats, 
Winds howliii' like the spirits o' the lost, 
Sea gapin' for them wi' a hundred throats, 



THE LADY FRAE LONDON 53 

And her in steamer like a palace borne, 

Stranraer to Lame, a run o' thirty mile, 

Twa 'oors at sea, a pleasant simmer morn, 

A sofa'd cabin weel, it made me smile. 

But wha could blame wi' sic 5 bewitchin' ways ? 

She lookit like a posy in the room, 

And parfume floated frae her rustlin' claes 

As frae a garden fu' o' pinks in bloom. 

That she was bother' d I could plainly see, 

Movin 1 a bit onaisy in her seat, 

And kiltin' o' her petticoats a wee, 

I thocht it micht be done to show her feet, 

The fine clock'd stockin's and the dainty shoon 

Sae sma' and polished to the ninety-nines,* 

But what for did she keek t sae roon' and roon' 

And show o' fear and narvousiiess the signs ? 

Oot cam' the trouble o' the dame at last 

" The pig," she stammer'd, " is he in and loose ? " 

I wish ye'd seen my wife she stood aghast . 

A pig gilravagin' in her clean hoose ! ! 

"He's oot the morn/' said I, "to pay the rint, 

And he'll be terr'ble sorry that ye came 

And found him oot, and gin he'd had a hint 

That ye were comin' he'd 'a stay'd at hame." 

" Noo dinna laugh at me altho' I fear 

To meet the pig," quo' she. " We London folk 

Hae heard frae childhood 'tis the custom here 

To live wi' pigs I see noo it's a joke ; 

But tell me noo aboot the children dear, 

Are they intelligent, and are they good ? 

And hoo dae lovin' mithers treat them here 

In case o' naughtiness, or if they're rude ? " 

" Weel, ma'am," said I, "they scalp them in sic case." 

* To the point of perfection. t Look. 



54 VISITORS 

" Oh, horrible ! " cried she, " but Mister Pat 

Ye canna say and look me in the face 

Your Ulster mithers wad dae ocht like that." 

I felt a wee bit bother'd to explain, 

And tried this way the sense to her to bring. 

" It's no red Indian scalpin' that I mane ; 

The Ulster custom is anither thing." 

A strikin' airgument by mithers us'd 

When bairns their stock o' patience sair hae tried., 

It gangs to fundamentals wi' th' accus'd." 

" I like to hear that noo," the lady cried, 

" Hoo pleasant to avoid a' noise and heat. 

In this you Irish can the English teach 

Wi' gintle airguments the case you treat, 

And straight the bottom o' the subjeck reach." 

" Not gintle, ma'am/' I said, " as ye conceive, 

They aft surprise the ' subjeck' wi' their whiz, 

And as for heat and noise, ma'am, I believe 

They maun be prisint whaur concussion is." 

She didna doot the scientific fact, 

But said, half-smiling as he fixed her hat, 

As one wha, gintly, error wad correct, 

"Ye meant to say dzscussion, Master Pat." 



IV 

CHARACTERS 



EVERY country-side has its " characters." To be a character 
is to have knobs, mannerisms, or peculiarities which dif- 
ferentiate the person so styled from the normal member of 
society. The common occupation in the glen country 
farming is not fertile in the production of human eccen- 
tricities. The "character" must be looked for among the 
roamers, the persons who have duties to perform over a large 
field, or among those who, by virtue of attainments or office, 
exercise in any degree authority or over-lordship. In the 
first class are the travelling tinker, the tailor, the pedlar, 
the cow-doctor, the clockmaker ; in the second, the priest or 
minister, the justice of the peace, the postmaster, and the 
schoolmaster. In the eyes of the simple and unlearned any 
one of these is, nearly always, a "character," or what is 
much the same thing, " a bit of an oddity." Be it noted that 
it is only the pleasantly erratic who is a character. He is 
not one who is distinguished by bad temper, such a one is 
simply "a cross bit o' goods." To abstain from washing 
and to get drunk only make a man in the tongue of the 
people "a dirty baste" or "a drunken scut." Laziness will 
not qualify, a " managin' wife " is no character in the glen 
sense, nor is the " ould miser." Incidentally it may be stated 
that a miser in Antrim is always an "ould miser." The 
diseased love for accumulation is so associated with old age 
that the common mind cannot conceive of the two apart, 

55 



56 CHARACTERS 

and therefore applies the adjective when and where it finds 
occasion to use the noun. 

A man who is not quite a "character" may be "a quare 
character." The distinction is nice, and not to be under- 
stood easily by the stranger. The qualification expresses 
doubt as to the subject's right to full honours, it connotes a 
lower and poorer quality of eccentricity. The full blood is 
the man with the white hat, the man who gets drunk twice 
a week and thinks it wrong to be absent from church, who 
goes to law for twopence and gives the beggar a sovereign, 
who dresses like a ploughman when he has more wealth than 
he can use. The " quare character " may be nothing more 
than a vegetarian, or a man who sleeps with his window open 
in a country where the night air is considered injurious. To 
be a " bad character" is simply to have a bad character in 
the dictionary meaning of the words. 

Along with the " characters " every country-side has its 
fool. The word is used in the singular, because, no matter 
how many of weak mind there may be in a district, there is 
usually but one qualified to be the fool of the community. 
The public fool is male, physically strong and harmless. 
Therefore he can travel, and so does not become too much 
of a burden to a few. He can do fetching and carrying, and 
render such services as do not require average intelligence ; 
he is able, therefore, to make a return, however inadequate, 
for his support, and even the generous like a quid pro quo. 
He is not called fool, the word is pitiless, used only in con- 
tempt or anger, and of those about whose sanity there is no 
question. He may be called " the fool man," which is equi- 
valent to " poor fool man " and sympathetic, the words hold 
pity for the afflicted. But even this is generally considered 
too strong. 

Ian Maclaren, in one of the most amusing of his sketches, 
alludes to the reluctance of Drumtochty folk to use a strong 
or harsh word as descriptive of a neighbour under the influence 



CHARACTERS 57 

of drink. They had a dozen euphemistic expressions, appli- 
cable to various degrees of inebriety : " He had had his 
mornin' ; " "Ye cud see he had been tastin' ; " but "intoxi- 
cated ! Losh me, hoo cud ony richt-thinkin' man sweer tae 
sic an awfu' word." 

A somewhat similar reserve characterises the Antrim 
man who speaks of the mentally afflicted. North-country 
terminology of insanity is rich in such expressive words and 
phrases as " cracked/' " daft," " no richt wise," " no a' there," 
"aff his heid," " saft," "wants a slate/' "touched," "a wee 
bit aff," &c. &c. Some of these appear in Pat's humorous 
examination of the life and actions of Jamie Hunter, for 
proof or disproof of insanity. Jamie Hunter was a real 
personage, and the rhyme does not exaggerate his powers 
as a trencher-man. He travelled from farm to farm over a 
wide area, performing such easy tasks as Pat describes, and 
receiving in return a good meal. The youngsters of the house 
were accustomed to place in his hands a newspaper upside 
down, and Jamie would amuse them by reeling off a long story, 
into which were introduced the names of the listeners, or of 
people well known to them, who were represented as figuring 
in a police-court for drunkenness or disorderly conduct, the 
composition evincing, at least some, mental capacity. On 
Easter Sunday morning Jamie used to turn up at a certain 
farmhouse and take his breakfast, which included six eggs. 
Among the children he was supposed to take as much at the 
next farm, and, indeed, to keep on taking breakfasts until 
dinner-time arrived, when a series of dinners was commenced. 
Stout, unwashed, comfortably clad, and well fed, with no 
work harder than that described by the rhymer, Jamie's life 
was a more enviable one than that of the ploughman or farm- 
labourer, and it can well be imagined that some of these, 
when they saw him sauntering over the country with a letter 
from the post-office, or sunning himself on the dyke-side, 
with a short black pipe in his mouth, would ask themselves 



58 CHARACTERS 

the questions, which Pat has tried to settle, " Is he lazy ? 
Is he daft ? " 

In the farming class, more than in any other, perhaps, 
there is a temptation to the wife to act the part of Mrs. 
M'Bride. A man's occupation generally takes him from 
home in farming the home is the business centre. The 
wife takes her share in the work of bread-winning, she is equal 
working partner, and if she has the love to rule she will seek 
to be the predominant one. When the subject was discussed 
one evening in Pat's kitchen there was present one Peter 
M'Murray, who has had with his wife many a struggle for 
supremacy. When the last speaker had considered the joys 
and crosses of married life, and struck a balance in favour of 
the married man's happiness, Peter delivered himself of his 
opinion, and gave his experience in these words 

" He p'ys for it, he p'ys for it, he has a deal to put 
up wiV 



JAMIE HUNTER 

WE youngsters used to say at school, 

"Jamie's juist a wee bit aff, 
Jamie's no' a muckle fool; " 
Jamie hearin' us would laugh. 
Is he, I would like to ken, 
Wise, or foolishest o' men ? 

The pleughman's up at break o' day, 

Scolded if he rises late ; 
Jamie, snoozin' in the hay, 

Rises when he thinks it's eight. 

Where he sleeps, gets meat and drink 
That looks wise enough I think. 



JAMIE HUNTER 59 

The pleughman to his maister's tied, 

Dursna ca' an 'oor his ain ; 
Jamie roams the country-side, 
Lord or maister owns he nane. 

Bootless that looks very saft, 
Still I wadna ca' it daft. 

Breakfast over, out he goes, 

Shifts his quarters doon the glen ; 
Helps some lass to wring the clothes, 
Carries peat till after ten ; 

Payment tak's in breed and cheese, 
Nae great signs o' folly these. 

He slips awa' across the bog, 

Watches Davie shootin' snipe ; 
Tak's a run wi' Davie's dog, 
Tak's a pu' at Davie's pipe. 

This may very lazy be, 
That it's daft I canna see. 

Eleven is a hungry oor, 

Broth's noo ploutin' * on the fire ; 

For some he'll sweep the kitchen flure 

(The lab'rer's worthy o' his hire). 

Wise men wad be naethin' loth 
To earn sae easily their broth. 

By twal' he's at anither hoose ; 

Carries somethin' to the pigs ; 
Eats a wing and leg o' goose, 
Praties frae twa garden rigs. 

Folk may say he wants a slate 
He never wants a weel-filled plate. 

* Boiling, with splashing noise. 



60 CHARACTERS 

At twa, he ca's wi' Mistress Broon, 

There, to plase her laughin' weans, 
Reads the paper upside doon, 
Breed and butter for his pains. 
Fun wi' weans is aisy wark, 
It disna wet wi' sweat the sark. 

A letter frae the post he'll bring, 

Tak', at five, his cup o' tay ; 
Tay is no' a heavy thing 
Jamie has it thrice a day ; 

Folk o' wit may hae a stock 
And like their tay at five o'clock. 

The pleughman sups at close o' day, 

Jamie tak's his supper too ; 
Gangs to bed amang the hay, 

Snores like thunder all nicht through. 
Early bed and late uprise, 
Winna prove a man no' wise. 

Jamie doesn't shave or wash, 

Doesn't strip himsel' for weeks, 
Doesn't care a rap for cash 
Begs his hat, or coat, or breeks : 
All the folk not over clean 
Aren't crack'd or daft I ween. 

Some there are and no' ill clad, 

Dinna pay the tailor's due, 
Yet ye dinna think them mad, 
Heth ! ye needn't tak' that view. 
Men that get their clothin' free, 
May neither crack'd nor silly be. 



THE MANAGIN' WIFE 6l 

It bothers me to settle it 

Is he lazy ? Is he daft ? 

Has he much or little wit ? 

Rumour says, I know, " he's saft." 
Rumour very often lies 
I think Jamie's very wise. 



THE MANAGIN' WIFE 

TROTH Tim was a lonely man, 

A wearifu' one, and wan ; 

The wife was a managin' woman, so he 

Wi' her and her capers had raison to be 

A weary and lonely man. 

Time was he was glad enoo', 

Right happy and prosp'rous too. 

He laboured wi' a' his might, 

And yet he could feel delight 

In things that had naethin' to do wi' gain, 

The raisin' o' cattle or sellin' o' grain. 

He thocht at that time, puir man, 

That life had mair in it than eatin' or claes ; 

But these were the happy and prosperous days 

Before he grew weary and wan. 

O Reader tak' heed while ye can, 
Wherever, whaever (unmairried) ye be, 
Get doon on your knees this minute wi' me, 
And pray (that's supposin' ye' re man), 
As earnest a pray in' as ever was said, 
That never may be it your fortin' to wed 



62 CHARACTERS 

Wi' one o' the managin' clan. 
As sure as you mairry a managin' wife, 
Sae sure will ye kill a' the pleasures o' life, 
And you'll be a lonely man. 

Now this was the kind o' life 

Tim led wi' his managin' wife. 

She worried him up wi' the lark 

Wi' "Time ye were affto wark." 

When breakfast was hardly begun 

She hopit he soon wad hae done. 

He ocht to look after his men, 

The warst (as she said) o' the glen. 

The dinner-bit eaten in haste 

He hardly had time to taste. 

If supper was cowld he'd find, 

She maybe'd he wadn't mind. 

He ocht to be oot wi' the kye, 

She thocht if she wasn't by 

To look after things, the place 

Wad soon be in evil case. 

The cratur forgot in her pride 

The earnin' was a' frae his side. 

Before he had her to wife, 

In that happy time o' life, 

His horses, his cattle, and land, 

His craps, and his maids, and men, 

Were always the best in the glen. 

He gave then wi' generous hand. 

Sae, summer or winter frae dawnin' to dark 

She claimit the credit while he did the wark. 

'Twas plain that the welcome o' friends 
Was sarvin' nae managin' ends. 
Her welcome sae cauldish and dry, 
Made friendliness pass the hoose by. 



THE MANAGIN' WIFE 63 

If Tim tried invitin' his kin, 

'Tvvas inconvanience and sin. 

What for did he bring folk in, 

And she steep'd in wark to the eyes ? 

She thocht he might be mair wise. 

Yet if he wad ask her " say when," 

She couldna be fash'd just then. 

Sae friends o' his seldom were seen. 

The hoose, too, was comfortless clean, 

He maunna gang here or there, 

Or litter a table or chair. 

The readin' a book by night 

Was wastin' o' fire and light. 

The givin' o' aught was pain 

" Folk needed to think o' their ain." 

Her doctrine was labour and savin' and save, 

A comfortless doctrine that made her a slave. 

Wark, wark, and naethin' but wark, 

Wi f never a restin' frae dawn to dark. 

" She doesn't let grass grow under her feet," 

For folk to say that was a recompense sweet. 

" Wark hard and look after the pence, 

That's wisdom and common sense." 

'Twas " a' verra weel for to veesit and chat," 

But she had " nae time for sic nonsense as that." 

Nae time to be gracious or sweet, 

She grudgit the time to eat ; 

Nae time to grow flow'rs in the garden o' life, 

Time to be hoosekeeper nane to be wife, 

Or lover and dear, dear friend ; 

Na, wark wi' her never did end, 

O never by any chance. 

She wark' d and she manag'd did Mrs. M'Bride, 

But Tim, the puir body, he wearied and sigh'd 

For love and auld thochts o' romance. 



64 CHARACTERS 

He had a good friend a dog, 

His comrade in field and bog ; 

And Sheelah could sympathise : 

Puir Sheelah had saft broon eyes, 

Saft eyes like the eyes o' a dove, 

And Sheelah could tell her love 

Tho' only a dog that bark'd. 

And Tim in the fields as he wark'd 

Was gladder by far when puir Sheelah was by 

Than ever he was when the mistress was nigh. 

For Sheelah, though maistly dumb, 

Was never once sulky or glum ; 

She never look'd looks that were scowlin' or dark, 

Nor preach'd, eternal, the duty o' wark 

When hame frae his toil he wad come. 



But Tim was to lose his friend. 

'Twas this way she cam' by her end : 

The time was the drawin' o' hay, 

The load was the last o' the day, 

The gate was the last in the way ; 

And Sheelah, half crazy wi' glee, 

Was wildly careerin', when she 

Got caught between pillar and cairt, 

And ribs and her lungs and heart 

Were mingled and mangled sair ; 

She had but a minute nae mair 

To spend wi' her maister in mortals' land, 

She usit that minute to lick his hand, 

A minute, just one to spare ; 

But when the eye speaks a minute's enoo 

To tell ye a great, great deal ; 

A minute saw Sheelah, the lovit, the true, 

Safe hame in the land o' the leal. 



THE MANAGIN' WIFE 65 

He lifted her into the cairt 

Wi' sair and sorrowfu' heart ; 

Her bright yellow coat, blood-stain' d, 

Was wet tho' it hadna rain'd ; 

And sadly they bore her hame. 

The mistress produc'd when they came 

Her usual list o' wark 

That maun be got thro' ere dark. 

The bringin' the dog was blame, 

The greetin' * a sin and shame. 

" Sic nonsense/' quo' Mrs. M'Bride, 

" Ye'd think 'twas a wean that died : 

I wonder ye hae nae sense." 

But Tim gied her mair offence 

By diggin' a grave for his friend. 

" How could he sic wark defend ? 

And surely a hole in the bog 

Is guid enoo grave for a dog." 

The maister persisted that day, 

He once in a while had his way, 

And fell for it sair under ban. 

Sae muckle oifendit was she wi' his ways, 

She didna speak pleasant for three hail days ; 

Troth, Tim was a lonely man. 

There's a narrow wee hoose ow'r by, 
Folk in it look up to the sky, 
Wi' neeboursome neebours a' side by side, 
And bothersome weemin are there tongue-tied. 
The place, to be sure, is dark, 
But naebody preaches wark, 
The addin' o' pence to pence, 
Or value o' common-sense, 

That Tim heard sae much o' frae Mrs. M'Bride. 
* Weeping. 



66 CHARACTERS 

Sae, tir'd o' her gloomy face, 

He came to think o' this place, 

Wi' Sheelah awa', as a place to abide, 

A place where he'd like to lie ; 

And wearied wi' wearisome Mrs. M'Bride, 

He wearied, and wearied, and wearied and died. 

He went to the hoose ow'r by. 

She left him his lane that day, 

For once since his merriage withoot reproach ; 

He went by himsel', in a fine black coach, 

Went aff in a stylish way. 

And maist o' the folk o' the country side 

Turn'd oot to convoy him in that last ride 

To the narrow wee hoose ow'r by. 

And she, tho' her heart was dry, 

She wipit the tail o' an eye, 

And lookit sae pious, resignit, and guid, 

I'd lik'd to hae clootit her lugs, I would. 

That she was ither than kind 

I s'pose never enter'd her mind. 

And the neebourin' weemin who cam' to condole, 

They whisper'd to her, " It's a trouble to thole, 

Nae doot it's a loss ye feel ; 

But then ye're shair to do weel, 

Ye're sic a guid manager, Mrs. M ( Bride." 

Ay, that was the way they bolster'd her pride. 

It's true that she "managit" him. 

When a bit o' guid china to crockery's tied 

The finer clay smashes. 

Puir Tim, puir Tim, 

Peace to his ashes. 



ROGER JENKINS, TINKER 67 

ROGER JENKINS, TINKER 

ROGER JENKINS is the tinker, 

And he warks in tin and aim, 
And the clinkin' o' his hammer 

Is the terror o' the bairn. 
For they hear the threat frae mither 

When they're no' behavin' weel, 
That she'll gie them to the tinker 

If they dinna cease to squeal. 
They think he kidnaps children, 

He will eat one at a meal, 
And he drinks the blood o' babbies, 

He has dealin's wi' the deil. 
Sae the tinker's hammer clinkin' 

On the cans and pots and pans, 
To the bairnies' fearfu' thinkin' 

Isn't wark o' mortal han's. 

Mr. Roger Jenkins, tinker, 

And a blacken'd one as weel, 
Hands and face and claes a' inky, 

Has nae dealin's wi' the deil. 
He's a drinker o' the whiskey, 

And the hammer in his han's 
Is a-shakin' while it's clinkin' 

Rivets in the pots and pans. 
And his een are troubled sairly 

Wi' the trouble whiskey brings, 
They are blinkin' while he's thinkin' 

And his clinkin' hammer rings. 
He's a common hammer clinker, 

Inky black o' face and han', 
Winkin', blinkin', whiskey drinkin' 

Till he scarce can see or stan'. 



68 CHARACTERS 

Mr. Roger Jenkins, tinker, 

Is a dirty one as weel ; 
But the blackness o' his visage 

Isn't blackness o' the deil. 
Black the tinker is by nature, 

As by nature grass is green ; 
But the clinkin', drunken crature 

Needs but soap to mak' him clean. 



JIM, THE CLOCKMAKER 

IF ye meet a wee man wi' a bottle-green coat, 

And knee-breeches tidy and trim, 
A bleezin' red handkerchie tied roon' his throat, 

Ye'll ken it is clockmaker Jim. 
Wi' pincers for pu'in and haimmers for knocks, 

His pockets are fu' to the brim ; 
There's naethin' pertainin' to watches and clocks 

But's naked and open to him. 

He'll sell ye a watch no' a paper-thin thing, 

But one that will stand any test, 
Wi' room in its wame for a thunderin' spring, 

And cog-wheels and screws o' the best. 
He's mighty successfu' in dalin' wi' locks, 

But that's a sma' pairt o' his trade ; 
The maist o' his practice is doctorin' clocks, 

And that's whaur his leevin' is made. 

A clock, like a Christian, is apt to rin doon, 
Her stappin' then's naethin' to blame, 

Or tick-dooleroo, it may gie her a stoon, 
Or somethin' be wrang in her wame. 



THE SCHOOLMASTER 69 

Wi' narvous debility due to a shock, 

She'll mebbe strike three when it's eight ; 

Whatever's the maitter that bothers the clock, 
Wee Jimmie will soon put it straight. 

And if wi' the troubles o' age she has got 

A wakeness that slackens her pace, 
He'll coax her until she gangs aff at a trot, 

Like a three-year-auld winnin' a race. 
He'll tell if she's rusty, or dusty, or dry, 

And needs a bit greasin' wi' fat ; 
And if she is sulky, or shammin', or sly, 

He kens how to trate her for that. 

The clock that is shammin's a mighty big fool, 

To think to beguile him wi' tricks ; 
He'll hae the hale guts o' her oot on a stool, 

Before she has time for six ticks. 
He'll scrape her intarnals, lock, barrel, and stock, 

And mak' her gang whizzin', will Jim ; 
I tell ye, she'll hae to be clever the clock, 

That puts the comether * on him. 



THE SCHOOLMASTER 

A QUARE ould school was Lugar School, 
A quare ould master, Tim M'Cool, 

The bits o' larnin' that I know, 
He batter'd in with many a blow ; 
"This cane," he'd say, "is Aaron's rod; " 
And then, with every whack and prod, 

* To put the comether on to beguile, to win over. 



70 CHARACTERS 

"Take pains to larn, or larn with pain." 
His stick he called " The Magistrate/' 
With this the bigger boys he bate ; 
The "little sarpints" felt the cane. 

Before the master came at ten, 

We scram' d and danc'd about the flure ; 

But when we saw him at the dure, 

Troth ! it was pace and quateness then ; 

We'd stand to have our ears well wrung, 

Or let our hands be blister'd sore 

Wi' stripes of " Aaron's rod" before 

We'd stand his bad, sarcastic tongue ; 

It started when he reach'd the school, 

And then 'twas " blackguard," " donkey," " fool/ 

" Ould humbug," " idiot," " stupid block," 

Till the school clos'd at three o'clock. 

Perhaps we were a stupid lot ; 
And larnin' laid on with a stick 
Was no' absorbit verra quick : 
He'd this excuse the fees he got 
Would not ha' kept a dacent dog. 
A wheen o' praties now and then, 
A stone o' meal, a clockin' hen, 
A load o' turf from Lugar bog, 
A penny on alternate weeks, 
The patchin' o' his Sunday breeks, 
The labourin' o' his bit o' land, 
The cartin' o' manure or sand, 
The mendin' o' a desk or stool 
These were the fees o' Lugar School. 

'Tis ten o'clock, and in comes Tim, 
And what a hush comes in wi' him ; 
Over the greasy flure he limps, 



THE SCHOOLMASTER 71 

Cursin' us all for noisy imps ; 

Then hangs his crutch-stick on a hook, 

And calls for Jim Hart's copy-book. 

Jimmie, poor divil, shakm' stands 

Pens don't take kindly to his hands. 

" Plase, will ye tell me, Master Jim, 

What these same caterpillars is ? " says Tim. 

" Plase, sor/' says Tim, " my hands wor cowld." 

"Give me that cane," the master howl'd; 

" Ye'd drive the saints in heaven wild. 

I'll warm yer fingers, Master Hart. 

There's three from Aaron now depart : 

There's heat in Aaron's rod, my child." 

Next, on a try to spell "belief," 
Wee Jennie Burdett comes to grief; 
She puts two 1's where one should be, 
Which means she gets from Aaron three. 
" There, that's to larn ye, Miss Burdett ; 
When geese are larn'd you'll get the prize ; 
Don't raise the thatch now wi' yer cries, 
We'll want the roof this winter yet." 

" At joggrify we'll now begin, 

Say, where is Cairo, Paddy Flynn, 

Now answer quick before I pass." 

" Is't Cairo, sor ? it's near Madras." 

" Ye think so, Pat ? Troth if you're right, 

It's tuk a slide some frosty night ; 

And where d'ye think is Egypt plac'd 

Since Cairo to Madras we've trac'd ? " 

"Sure it sor's in the Holy Land." 

" H'm ! Holy Pat ! hould out yer hand ; 



72 CHARACTERS 

You'll be Howly Pat this minute. 
Aaron's ashara'd o' sich a dunce. 
Now stop yer roarin', stop at once ; 
A bull-calf wi' ye isn't in it." 

Ev'ry Lugar boy or lass 
Dreads the hated grammar class. 
"A common noun/' says Billy Baines, 
"To be, to do, or suffer manes." 
Says Tim, " Och, tare an' ages, duffer, 
A noun you are, and you will suffer. 
Jist rache me down the Magistrate, 
He'll spake to you a word or two ; 
Here's wan for f be ' and wan for ' do ' ; 
Now go and ' suffer ' on yer sate." 

" Up wi' ye, now, ye Latin boys 

For goodness' sake, girls, stop that noise. 

Jim, what is ' pater ' ? " " Father." " Good. 

And what is ' mater ' ? " " Mother." " True ; 

We'll have to make a priest o' you." 

"What's 'caper macer/ Willy Hood?" 

" A lane ould goat, sor isn't it ? " 

" A lane goat, Will's the manin' fit 

Lane like yerself ye'll moind by that. 

Now, my big dunder-headed Pat, 

Here's a hard nut for ye to crack ; 

What's ' uxor ' ? " " Uxor, sor's a wife." 

" The first time this in all yer life 

Ye've answer'd right and sav'd yer back. 

I'd like to finish up this class 

Without a whack ; but that, alas ! 

Is more than what I can expeck. 

Do you, Pat Brennan, recolleck 



THE SCHOOLMASTER 73 

What ' amo ' manes ? " " Yes, sor I hate." 
" There, hand me down the Magistrate ; 
Ciidn't you let him rest a spell, 
Whin up till now we'd done so well ? " 

There was no clock at Lugar School, 
The nearest was at Biddy Hall's ; 
Bid kept a shop, and sold black balls, 
Tobacco, tay, tape, thread, and spool ; 
And on ould Biddy's gable wall, 
Which from school windows we could see, 
She hoisted, when the clock struck three, 
A round turf basket, which we all 
Did hail with the delighted shout : 
" The basket's up, sor, let us out." 

Then Tim would shake his head and nod, 

And smite the desk wi' Aaron's rod. 

" You, girls," he'd say, " it's time to go ; 

Ye don't know all yez ought to know 

The more's the pity. If the cane 

Cud tache ye, ye'd be wise indeed ; 

But whether larn'd or not, ye need 

To keep yerselves discrate arid clane 

Aiche wan a credit to her school, 

Not a poor, empty, gigglin' fool. 

And, boys, no fightin' go home straight, 

And larn yer lessons well at night ; 

Do what ye do wi' all yer might, 

Or meet my friend, the Magistrate. 

Ye don't mind now a word I say, 

But when ye're all great men some day 

Judges and chancellors I've made 

Wan o' ye, maybe, Pope o' Rome, 

Ye'll sorra for the tricks ye play'd 

On me, yer master now go home." 



74 CHARACTERS 



HANNAH, THE BREADWOMAN 

" WHA is Hannah " do ye say ? 
And troth sae weel ye may, 
For there's mighty little o' her 
But a cloak that's auld and broon, 
And atop o' it a bonnet 
Wi' a cough inside the croon. 
That's Hannah safe and sure, 
Ye have her there, secure, 
If ye find them wi' a basket 

Fu' o' white bread frae the toon. 

And ye maunna speer her age, 
For ye'll put her in a rage, 
And she'll tell ye when a babby 
She forgot to write it doon. 
But I think aboot twa hunner 
O' the mark's no' far aboon, 
For she's shrivell'd up and dried, 
And ye micht say mummified ; 
She's a weezen'd wee auld woman 

And a puff wad blaw her doon. 

O the Antrim farmers' wives 
Wark as hard as bees in hives, 
They hae meal and flour and griddles, 
Swingin' griddles large and roon', 
And they bake guid halesome bannocks, 
And they bake them white and broon. 
But still the bodies feel 
To be dacent and genteel, 
They need the loaf o' baker's bread 
That Hannah brings frae toon. 



HANNAH, THE BREADWOMAN 75 

Troth the cratur's no' ill fed 
That has lots o' griddle bread, 
Sure it is the halesome eatin' 
(And especially the broon) 
But you never know the minute 
That a neebour may come roon'. 
And it makes the table gay, 
And embellishes the tay, 
To hae the loaf o' baker's bread 

That Hannah brings frae toon. 

O the Antrim farmers' wives 
Tak' to wark like bees in hives ; 
They are up and at it early 
And they dinna leave aff soon, 
But they slack the day the bonnet 
And the cloak and cough come roon', 
For I'll whisper't in your ear, 
Sae that naebody can hear 
There is aye a bit o' gossip 

Comes wi' baker's bread frae toon. 

They hear o' all the strife 
'Twixt O' Kelly and his wife, 
O' Mrs. Reid's new mantle, 
And Peggy Smith's silk goon. 
That Nan and Jim are coortin' 
And are gaun to mairry soon. 
O it's nice to be genteel, 
But it's nice to hae, as weel, 
The gossip o' the country 

Wi' the baker's bread frae toon. 



AMUSEMENTS 

THERE are people who hold that the famous chapter 'On 
Snakes in Ireland ' might say all that is to be said of our country 
amusements. But these are the town-bred, who cannot con- 
ceive of existence as passable without plays, concerts, exhibi- 
tions, and such like expensive delights. To the town mind, 
town pleasures. To the country mind, the equally satisfying 
and far cheaper singing class, the tales by the blacksmith's 
fire, the games on the road jumping, putting the stone, the 
larks at weddings and christenings, the barn dance, the 
quilting and many other recreative things. This may appear 
to be a mixed list, and a critical person may point out that 
a singing class is not properly an amusement. But that 
objector never can have attended a country singing class, 
or he would have known that the fun is on the way home, 
along the dark roads with companies of brave young fellows 
and pretty lassies ; in hand squeezings and banterings, and 
gifts of posies and sweets, and looks and sayings that are not 
serious love-making, but only the half-shy, half-frightened 
glances of healthy young folks towards the delectable land 
which, later on, they hope to enter. That we know how to 
relax and recreate is testified by the rhymes on " The Dance 
at Widow Clarke's " and " The Quiltin'." 

The reason-to-be of the quilting is this. Every econo- 
mical housewife and there are few who are otherwise has 
her trash-bag, a thing of many pockets into which she stuffs 

77 



78 AMUSEMENTS 

odd bits of silk or printed cotton, the remains of her own or 
her children's frocks, and scrappy textiles of all sorts. These 
come in handy for mending and patching, but the main use 
of the trash-bag is the provision of patchwork quilts. One 
is always in process of manufacture; it may be a simple 
draught-board pattern or a more elaborate arrangement of 
diamonds, angles, stripes, and squares. It is sometimes a 
work of years, becoming in the end a diary of events, a 
history, a museum of the family wardrobe of three or four 
generations. That lilac patch is a bit of grandmother's 
flowered gown grandmother has slept in Layde for the last 
twenty years. Here is a blue bit from the mistress's own 
frock worn when the man she was to marry first came 
" speirin " after her. The flaming red diamond of the 
centre was once part of aunt's " Garibaldi." Tommie's shirt, 
Maggie's bibs, scraps over from new and least worn bits 
from old garments are carefully hoarded and utilised by the 
good wife. In a particular sense she lays the foundation of 
her work in her first-born, and in her youngest son finishes 
the corners thereof. Periods of retirement and quietness 
not unconnected with the young folks' arrival represent 
periods of activity in quilt production. She was " expectin' 
Jamie " when she worked the inner border of blue and white 
squares. Maggie was coming when an outer border of red 
and white was added. A corner piece reminds her that the 
very time she was stitching at it the postman came in with a 
letter and a postal order for five pounds, a gift from her 
brother in America, and they had not heard from him for 
years. The children had the measles while certain diamonds 
and angles took up their appointed stations. Another place 
on the chart brings back to the worker's mind the fright she 
had when Tommie got a finger shortened by the turnip 
cutter she " minds " it so well, for she dropped the quilt 
and ran when she heard the screams. 

At last there comes a day when the quilt is big enough 



THE QUILTIN' 79 

and " clever." For a thing to be " clever " in the glen sense 
is to be of generous proportions the opposite of " skimpit." 
But the wrapper is very light and comfortless, it needs a 
warm blanket below it to give it weight, and below that a 
lining. It is " given out " that there is to be a " quilting," 
and on the settled evening a dozen or more young girls come 
with their thimbles and needles. The quilt is stretched on a 
frame, sometimes in the kitchen, oftener in the barn, and in 
a few hours young fingers have " quilted " it all over in zig- 
zag lines or crossed diagonals. Before they have finished 
the young men have commenced to arrive, they stand round 
the walls talking with the busy girls. When the last stitch 
has been put in, the floor is cleared, and there are games 
with forfeits, and guessing of riddles, and songs and dancing 
to the music of concertina or fiddle. The girls have had tea 
and currant buns early in the evening, and while they sewed, 
but it is usual also to provide something in the shape of 
supper for a later hour, and the genteelest families do have, 
with other things, blanc-mange the " cowld shape " which, 
according to the rhymer, is productive of much uneasiness in 
or below the male breast. 



THE QUILTIN 1 

IT was the bonnie quiltin' that, in Mrs. Gibson's barn, 
A nicht to be remember'd lang in annals o' the glen. 
The notice gi'en a week afore to whom it micht consarn 
Had brocht the purty lassies oot, and lassies bring the men. 

Wee Meg had come, 'deed half the glen, a score o' girls at 

laste, 

And fifteen stone o' Alice Hill, the sweetest lassie there. 
It needs a yard or mair o' airm to gang aroon' her waist, 
But what's circumference to love ? a figure, naethin' mair. 



80 AMUSEMENTS 

And while the lassies sew'd their seam the men stood roon' 

the wa', 
And jok'd and laugh'd wi' narvous glee, and turnit in their 

taes, 
And thocht aboot the dance to come wi' fears that werena 

sma', 
And wore the air o' men that ken they wear their Sunday 

claes. 

The loan o' a piano made the quiltin' mair genteel, 

A great big music-box it was wi' legs and feet and lid, 

And Mrs. Broon's wee dochter, och ! she handled it sae 

weel. 
She played a thing they ca' a piece I'll tell you that she 

did. 

She hit it here and there at first in quite permiskus style, 
And then her fingers hopp'd and skipp'd like heelanders at 

jigs; 

She twiddled at the richt han' end, the squealy part, awhile, 
And finish'd near the middle, slow, wi' twa or three guid 

digs. 

Then Jimmie Tamson sung a sang aboot the silent grave 
And winds o' heaven howlin' roond aboot a willa tree, 
And death in some desarted place beside the lonely wave, 
And while a breath remain'd to him he aye wad think o' 
thee. 

A plisant cheerfu' thing it was, and sung wi' muckle fire, 
But ance when he wad " think o' thee," he tuk the note too 

high, 

And gi'ed the cattle sic a fright they brak loose in the byre, 
It tuk us nigh on half-an-'oor to pacify the kye. 



THE QUILTIN' 81 

That brocht us to the supper-time, 'boot echt o'clock I think ; 
And while we quieted the bastes and tied them up again 
The mistress laid the table oot wi' ateables and drink, 
Cowld shape dispos'd wi' lemonade and here I wad complain. 

Cowld shape's nae food to put intil the wame o' man that's 

wise, 

Tho' lassies seem to thrive on it as horses thrive on corn, 
Cowld, heavy, and onsartain there it lies and lies and lies, 
And mak's the man that ate it rue the day that he was born. 

" Ye'll tak' a moothfu', Jem, or twa," the mistress says, and he 
The first time asked, as is polite, respeckfully declines, 
But when she press'd he tuk the dish, and weel the mis- 
tress she 
She quite forgot that Jamie's mooth was built on lairgish lines. 

Soon some one said to pass the shape. There was nae shape 

to pass ; 
They wonder'd whaur the mischief 'twas and was it hid in 

jest ? 

But Jamie knew aye, troth he did he felt it sair, alas, 
In his equatorial region just underneath the vest. 

Och, shape's a cowld remorseless thing for half of human- 
kind, 

And specially wi' lemonade, it's enemy to rest, 
If you're a man and try it weel, it won't be hard to find, 
A wee bit later, wi' a pain, a bit below your chest. 

The supper o'er, the dance began, o' steps the men had nane, 

But willin' lassies cleek'd their skirts and show'd their part- 
ners hoo ; 

" It's this way watch," a lass wad say, then she wad make 
it plain, 

But a' the laddie minded was the ankle and the shoe. 

F 



82 AMUSEMENTS 

Aweel wi' grace on lassie's side and vigour on the men's, 
They danc'd in ev'ry step and time and custom o' the airt ; 
And tho' they danc'd besides in ways nae dancin'-master 

kens, 
The airm aroon' yer lassie's waist's the maist important pairt. 

In step, in speed, in height o' hop, nae twa o' them agreed, 
Yet still thro' heat and blunders a' they gaily parsever'd, 
And tho' each lass a dizzen times declar'd she was clean deid, 
She quickly cam' to life again as soon as she was spier'd. 

O 'twas the famous quiltin', that, in Mrs. Gibson's barn, 
And folk that liv'd a distance aff, awa', far up the glen, 
It's true as true, a sartin fact, and nae bit rhymer's yarn, 
They werena in their beds that nicht till nearly half-past ten. 

THE DANCE AT WIDOW CLARKE'S 

WHILE pleughin' tither morn 

Preparin' for the corn, 
I thocht awhile my eyesicht was surely givin' way, 

For there was Jamie Broon 

A-wheelin' roon' an' roon', 
An' jumpin' in the fashion the silly turkeys hae. 

The cause I cudna' tell, 

He pleugh'd just like mysel', 
But stappit aye the horses in sic a cur'ous way. 

Then roon' he went an' roon, 

An' happit up an' doon : 
" Is this," thinks I, " St. Vitus, or is his heid astray ? " 

I left my trusty yoke 

To see if 'twas a joke 
He's no' the chap for larkin' or wastin' time in play. 

Ses I to him, " What's wrang, 

Hae ye these tantrums lang ; 
Whatever is the maitter my Jamie, lad, the day ? " 



THE DANCE AT WIDOW CLARKE'S 83 

He seemed a bit put oot, 
"Ye'll ken/' quo' he, "nae doot, 

There's gaun to be some dancin' at Weeda Clarke's the day. 
I'm practeesin' the waltz, 
An' tho' wi' mony faults, 

I'm able noo to dae it in a sort o' kind o' way. 

" It's no' a common dance ; 

It cam', they say, frae France 
Or Jarmany it may be some far ootlandish way, 

We'll no' brak up till three, 

In fack it's gaun to be 
The kind o' enterteenment that the top o' gintry hae. 

" At tay we'll no' sit doon, 

But stan' in clusters roon', 
The fashion noo requires it at laste that's what they say. 

An' ev'ry livin' sowl 

Will tak' his cup or bowl, 
An' drink it in an aisy and permiscus sort o' way. 

" The supper will be cowld, 

And we will hev, I'm towld, 
Corn'd beef wi' tripe and onions towards the break o' day. 

They're shair to dae it weel 

Wi' ev'rything genteel ; 
The weeda kens the mainners that the top o' gintry hae. 

" I'm sweet on Maggie Clarke, 

And this maist wearin' wark, 
For sake o' her I'll dae it though it turns my heid to grey. 

I'll feenish fair or foul, 

But wush wi' heart an' sowl, 
The gintry tuk divarsion in some raisonable way. 



84 AMUSEMENTS 

" I ken the auld quadreel, 

And polka middlin' weel, 
But whirlin' till yer dizzy is a deil's inventit way ; 

We spin roon' like a tap, 

Until we're fit to drap, 
Then hap the way I'll show ye as the titled gintry dae." 

He happit in the air, 

A fut at laste or mair, 

His brogues wad weigh a stane at least, no' countin' o' the 
clay. 

An' Jim's a heavy man, 

Sae fancy if ye can, 
The sort o' infant arthquake 'twas that followed the display. 

" Jim, dear," ses I, " them brogues 

They're mortial heavy rogues, 
And dancin' in sic pounders is no* the gintry' s way." 

"That's true," ses he, "that's true, 

I need a lighter shoe, 
But hae to daewithoot it, frien', and dance in what I hae." 

I thocht o' Maggie's taes, 

Her purty dancin' claes ; 
I thocht, too, o' the rumpus o' the gret catastrophay, 

That's bound to come as soon 

As Jamie's heavy shoon 

Hae smash'd puir Maggie's slippers sma' and feet in them 
the day. 

I'm goin' to the dance, 

I maun see Jamie prance, 
The sicht will be as funny just as guid as any play. 

When he is whirlin' roon' 

And happin' up an' doon, 
And gangs in brogues a-waltzin' as the titled gintry dae, 



VI 

OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

PAT'S little rhyme, " The Way we Tell a Story/' in which one 
man tells another how he said " no " to a third who asked of 
him a favour, is scarcely an exaggeration. Some of us in 
this country know how to dilute the wine of narrative with 
the water of verbiage. A man likes to bask in the admira- 
tion of his fellows, to feel that ears near him are strained to 
catch the words that drop from his mouth, and where inci- 
dent is scarce and vocabularies limited, a free use of diluent 
is natural. With us a story is enlarged by a free use of 
phrases intended to call the attention of the audience to any 
point the narrator may think specially interesting. Such 
phrases are " Mind ye," meaning "remember;" " d'ye mind ? " 
meaning "have you observed?" "like that," which is sup- 
posed to describe the suddenness of an action, but which is 
often used unmeaningly as an expander. The simple state- 
ment that " she sat down " is made longer and more emphatic 
by the form "what does she do but sit down," &c. Tom 
Jones as an actor in a scene will be referred to as " my bowld 
Tom Jones." Digression is much appreciated, and therefore 
on the first mention of Tom in a narrative it is proper to 
remind your hearers that he married Ellen M'Manus, who 
was the daughter of ould Jimmie M'Manus who lived in 
Bally tearim, and that his wife's sister married a man " o' the 
name o' Tamson " you think, who went to Scotland three 
years ago or was it four ? and was something in the coal- 

85 



86 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

mining no it was brick-laying it was Robert M'Keown 
you were thinking about at the coal-mining you remember 
him him as took James Devine's farm ; he had it for two 
year and then his father died in Scotland, and he gave up 
the farm and went over and got some job at the coal-mining 
at two pound ten a week was it two pound ten 'deed, and 
you believe it was three pound ten you can't really mind 
now and so on. The corrections, suggestions, and ques- 
tions of the audience will take up considerable time, for we 
think it proper in story-telling that one should know the 
ramifications of every family mentioned, even unto the third 
or fourth generation backward. When your own sense of the 
fitness of things or the impatience of a listener has warned 
you that the path of digression has been followed far enough, 
there are certain formulae which it is customary to use. You 
say " well, at any rate/' or " well, it doesn't matter, but," or 
"well, to make a long story short," and then make a bee- 
line back to Tom Jones and keep with him and his doings 
until the next digression. When a conversation comes to be 
narrated there are tremendous possibilities of expansion in 
the simple indicatives, I says, he says, she says. Take the 
first, and by listening to an expert you will learn what an 
expansive power lies in these words and their variations. 
They so enlarge the original dicta that the ingenuous listener 
is surprised at the value he is getting, while to the narrator 
they give pause, allowing a slow mind to ransack the corners 
of memory for every shred of event or saying. The " I 
says" may be reversed, becoming "says I." It may be 
placed at the beginning or end of a sentence. It may be 
used in the sentence after every three or four words. It 
may be duplicated, becoming " I says, says I." One arm of 
the duplicated form may be lengthened and embellished, as 
"I says to him, says I," or "says I to him, I says." It may 
be triplicated, as "says I to him, I says, says I," or "I says 
to him, says I, I says." No man knows better than Sam 



OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 87 

Mulreany the value to the story-teller of the words that 
indicate quotation. Listen to him. 

He has been digging along the dyke sheugh the margin 
too narrow to be taken by the plough. In the next field 
is a newly-bought cow belonging to his neighbour, Robert 
Mawhinney. As is the custom with cows in a strange field, 
this one tries to get out, and tries persistently. She has 
chosen a point in the field where a hole in the hedge has 
been roughly filled by a few larch poles. In an awkward 
leap she manages to get a foreleg between two of these 
poles, and, slipping back into the ditch, the leg is broken. 
Sam, on the scene soon afterwards, finds the cow in trouble. 
He goes for the owner, and the two, assisted by a chance 
passer-by, relieve the cow from her awkward position. He 
has now something to tell. 

It is five o'clock, and there is light until seven, but Sam 
cannot wait. He stops work, and mounts the hill to the 
cottage of his nearest neighbour, who is a man with a large 
family, and who has living with him his father and his wife's 
mother and sister. The head of the house and the elder 
boys are in the fields, but there are enough at home to make 
an appreciative audience. Ostensibly Sam goes in for a 
light. He holds the pipe in his left hand, pressing the 
tobacco in with the thumb, while with the right hand he 
raises his cap, and scratches a head bearing a rough shock 
of red hair. After the usual salutations and observations 
on the weather, and after a bit of live peat has been held 
against the pipe to start it, Sam says he must be going ; but 
there is an atmosphere which cannot be mistaken round a 
man with a story to tell, and the inmates of the cottage who 
can move gather round the smoker like flies round sugar. 
Old Nannie, who cannot move by reason of age and in- 
firmities, strains her head forward, and puts a hand behind 
an ear to arrest the passing sound. 

" Ony news, Mister Mulreany ? " 



88 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

" Och, naethin' much," says Sam deprecatingly ; then, 
after a silence of the length of three pipe-puffs, he opens 
thus : 

" I'm thinkin' Rabert Mawhinney's no' verra comfortable 
aboot his coo the nicht." 

The reader will be spared the slow development of the 
story. Sam has come to the time of his finding the owner of 
the cow to tell him of the disaster. This is how he proceeds, 
the italics represent ejaculations of listeners : 

"Ses I to him, ses I, that coo o' yours, ses I, she'll no' 
be verra contint the night, ses I, I ses to him like that, 
d'ye mind ? " 

" Aye, noo, diver for ye." 

" ' Och,' ses he, ' the coo's all right,' ses he, he ses to me." 

"All right, I ses, all right ; but, ses I, I don't think, ses I, 
as she's pertickler comfortable ; I wudn't say she was, 
ses I." 

11 Troth, an she wasn't that same." 

" ' Don't bother yerself/ says he, he says, ' the coo's 
strange, that's all,' ses he." 

" 4 'Deed, an she wus strange." 

"She's strange, ses I, av coorse ; but, ses I, I ses, I 
wudn't call it comfortable hingin' wi' a broken leg between 
twa powls, ses I, just that way, d'ye mind." 

" 0, the Lord love ye for a funny man, Mr. Mulreany." 

"' Wha ses her leg's bruk ?' ses he, he ses." 

" Well, I was rernarkin' it myself, ses I, I ses ; I had ob- 
sarved it, ses I, I ses to him ; but, ses I, don't put yerself 
aboot, ses I ; I wudn't onconvanience yerself, ses I, quate 
lek that way, d'ye mind." 

' Och, what did he say to that?" 

" ' The divil/ ses he, sharp like that, ' the divil,' he ses." 

" Och, noo, did he say ' the divil ' ?" 

"Ses I to him, I ses, I don't think, ses I, that there's 
ony need to be usin' langwidge, ses I. I may be right, ses 



OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 89 

I, or I may be wrong, ses I ; but, ses I, I don't see no call to 
be usin' langwidge, ses I." 

" Yer sowl to glory, ye giv' it to him." 

"'It's them childer/ ses he, 'as has done the mischief,' 
ses he ; 'I mended that hole yesterday/ ses he, he ses, ' but 
they would have it pulled open an hour after/ ses he, d'ye 
mind ? " 

" An he put it on the childer, did he?" 

"Ses I to him, ses I, if ye had put up a wee bit o' a 
boord, ses I, wi' ' Trespadgers Parsecuted ' on it, ses I, they 
wudn't hev touched the hedge, ses I." 

"Sure, it' s yourself as can tell folk how to do things." 

"Well, we worked tryhV to git her free for half-an-hour, 
and only for a dacint man comin' along the road that seen 
the fix we were in, and giv' us a han', I don't believe she 
would ha' been oot yit." 

" There now." 

" I wint doon the road a bit wi' the man, an' ses I to 
him, ses I, an' what purfession might ye be in ? ses I." 

" ' It's the cowld portage/ * ses he." 

" The Lord bliss us, the cowld portage, an what might it be?" 

" ' It's wee holy books and gospels at a penny/ ses he ; 
an' ses 1 to him, ses I, wud ye sell many o' them ? ses I. 
' Weel/ ses he, ' I wud sell sax in a day/ ses he, ' and I wud 
sell saxty/ ses he, 'it's onsartin/ ses he ; but I think he must 
mak a dacent livin', for he was weel put on." f 

" Weel, he must sell a lock \ o' them." 

A too nice economy in domestic matters does not meet 
with our approbation. William Maloney is a farm hand, who 
has seen the interior of nearly every house in the country. 
He will work a half or a whole day, or two days, or two 
weeks, or two months, just as you may need, and will leave 
you with nothing in prospect for the next day, and withal 
bearing a light heart. Hear him 

* Colportage. t Well dressed. J Lot. 



90 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

" It's a quare country, so it is ; not that it's the counthry 
at all; it's the people, the counthry's all right. There's 
William M'Bride, wi' thritty acre o' land, and no' a bad 
parch in the whole o' it, and, bedad, near's no name for 
him. Wee Paddy M'Wha was goin' past his gate one day 
wi' a load o' peats, and drapped twa o' them. William saw 
them, and whups them up and into the kitchen wi' them 
that's as thrue as thrue, and him wi' eight hunder pound in 
the bank eight hunder pound d'ye hear the crack that 
gives ? He's a miser'ble wee snipe, that's what he is ; he 
wud lift a pratie aff the flure, he wud, raly. And there's 
Widow Morrison, wi' nivir a farden but twa shillin' a week 
frae her uncle, and what she can make oot o' her coo and wee 
bit o' land ; and ye culdn't go past her dure but it's f Mr. 
Maloney, won't ye tak' a bowl o' broth ? ' or, ' Mr. Maloney, 
won't ye tak' a cup o' tay ? ' 'Deed, and the last day I passed 
her hoose she made tay for me while I was takin' the broth. * 
Catch William M'Bride axin' ye in for a cup o' tay ; he wud 
skin a flay for its hide. But that's the way o' the warld ; them 
that has plinty wudn't gie ye naethin', and them that has 
naethin' wud divide onything they hev." 

We believe in educating a child for the station to which it 
has pleased Providence to call it. Mary Somers has asked 
her mother for sixpence for a new school-book. This is the 
way Mrs. Somers unburdens herself to her next-door neigh- 
bour. "Mary she says, 'Mither, I want saxpence for a 
yookled f book; teacher says I'm to get it.' A what? 
says I. ' A yookled book,' says she. And what's a yookled 
book ? says I. ' Oh,' she says, ' it's wee figmajigs and curly 
Q's.' And in the name o' patience, child, says I, d'ye think 

* The combination is not invented. Some ladies, interested in 
temperance work, started a refreshment-room in a northern Antrim 
town. A frequent order on market days was, " A bowl o' broth and a 
cup o' tay." The tea had to be strong and sweet, and the cup running 
over, or it was not appreciated. 

t Euclid. 



OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 91 

I'm goin' to gie ye sixpence to divart yersel' wi' makin' fig- 
majigs ? says I. What d'ye mane ? I says. ' It's wee rings 
and three-cornered things/ she says, 'and ye hev to put 
A B C on them.' I declare to ye I haven't patience wi' teachers 
takin' the bread oot o' people's mouths for sic nonsense. I 
tell't Mary, says I, I'm not goin' to pay for any fancy larnin', 
says I ; if ye can write a dacent bit letther, says I, and 
coont the price o' eggs, says I, I think that's enough and 
mair than I had mysel'. If a girl wants to do onything by 
the common let her wark somethin' in wool that she can 
hand doon to her grandchildren, that's what I think 
yookled, indeed heth ! " 

We loathe all affectations. Maggie M'Alister, known in 
her early teens as Black Meg from the colour of her hair, 
went to Belfast to learn dressmaking. From thence, well 
dressed and much fined down in manner and appearance, she 
returned to pay a visit to her people. It was the time of the 
drying of flax after withdrawal from the "holes." Maggie 
met on the road one of her old friends, Mary McDonnell, 
who had been engaged all morning in spreading over a field 
the wet, black, ill-smelling flax in long thin lines. Maggie 
said by way of salutation, "Well, Mary, have you been 
spreading flax?" Mary's indignation knew no bounds she 
told the story at the first house she passed : " The idea of her 
settin' herself up that way. I could ha' knockit the face aff 
her." " Could have " in this relation signifies not the ability, 
but the desire to perform. Of course, what Maggie should 
have said was, " Weel, Mary, hae ye been spreedin' lint ? " 

The libels of the English notwithstanding, we do not take 
the pig to our bosom. He dwells in his own house, with 
his own family, and commerce with him is restricted to 
matters connected with commissariat and the payment of 
rent ; we, for his services, providing him with free board and 
lodging for the term of his n hem life. Social intercourse 
with him there is none. It is to be noted that the glen pig 



92 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

is eminently clean and respectable, as is evidenced by the 
following true story. The writer was one day driving from 
Cushendall to Cushendun. On the way was met a pig who 
had been diverting himself in a mud-hole and was, therefore, 
not clean. The horse shied at the porker, provoking the re- 
mark to the carman that it was a strange horse for the 
country that did not know a pig. " But look at the dirt 
o' it," was the driver's reply. Where pigs are plentiful and 
a dirty one frightens a horse, it must be assumed that the 
normal pig is clean and well behaved. 

A word or two about some little peculiarities of our speech. 
To " behave" is to behave well; on the other hand, "be- 
haviour " unqualified is bad behaviour. We say " larn " for 
"teach," "mind" for "remember." A person is " married 
on" not "married to" another. " Novelty " is " newance." 
" It's newance to see you " means that your visits have been 
few for a time. For one to claim that he is " nearly perfeck " 
does not mean that he claims to be faultless ; he means only 
that he is nearly sure of what he is saying. A native would 
never be " sick " although he may be often " no' weel." An old 
woman is an " ould wife " whether she is married or not. A 
child " favours " father or mother if it " resembles " one or 
other. The word " terrible " is used instead of the " awfully " 
of polite society, thus we have things that are "terrible 
nice" and even "terrible wee." "Mortal" (pronounce 
mortial) is used in the same sense, and a lady of prepossess- 
ing looks and fine manners will be spoken of as " a mortial 
nice woman." A " light" person is not giddy, he or she is 
of fair complexion; a "near" person is a miser. 

We are addicted to porridge, and we like them thick. 
The sentence has been framed so as to exhibit another singu- 
larity of our speech. Porridge is plural. No son of the soil 
would dream of saying "it" of porridge. One will say, 
"they're singed the day," or "they're a bit thin," in dis- 
satisfaction, or with satisfaction " them's good ones." That 



THE WAY WE TELL A STORY 93 

the use of fire-water is not unknown will be seen from the 
rhyme of James M'Wha, Esq-u. 

Detractors say that it would pay us better to spend more 
time in the fields and less in "crackin"' by the fireside, so 
prone are uncharitable minds to reprove as fault what is 
really virtue. We take a kindly interest in the affairs of our 
neighbours. 

We sum appreciation of good character in two words 
dacent, responsible. A man may be "dacent" and not 
"responsible," a kindly useless creature, "nobody's enemy 
but his own," spending in drink or on gifts to strangers his 
last half-sovereign while wife and weans go dinnerless, and 
yet a good-hearted man. On the other hand a man may be 
"responsible" and not "dacent," a hard dour man, honest, 
but paying the least while he exacts the most, suspicious, 
fault-finding. When you find a man here who is, by common 
consent, " dacent and responsible," trust him. 

Our names are McDonnell (the grand old name, MacDon- 
nell of the Glens) McAlister, McAulay, McBride, McNeill, 
O'Neill, McCollum, McElheran, Mcllvenny and McKay. 



THE WAY WE TELL A STORY 

SAYS I to him, I says, says I, 

Says I to him, I says, 

The thing, says I, I says to him, 

Is just, says I, this ways. 

I hev', says I, a gret respeck 

For you and for your breed, 

And onything I cud, I says, 

I'd do, I wud indeed. 

I don't know any man, I says, 

I'd do it for, says I, 



94 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

As fast, I says, as for yoursel', 

That's tellin' ye no lie. 

There's nought, says I, I wudn't do 

To plase your feyther's son, 

But this, I says, ye see, says I, 

I says, it can't be done. 



THE PARRITCH POT 

HERE'S to the parritch pot, 

The plain straight-for'ard parritch pot. 

Nae man need fear 

The loss o' gear, 

Wha still wi' milk and meal has got 

A hoult o' you, O parritch pot. 

Here's to the parritch pot, 

The fine big-bellied parritch pot. 

An interview 

Or twa wi' you 

Mak's man continted wi' his lot, 

Ye big warm-hearted parritch pot. 

Here's to the parritch pot, 

The halesome, heartsome parritch pot. 

Our blood and bane, 

The clever brain, 

And a the health and strength we've got, 

Are spoon-dug frae the parritch pot 

Here's to the parritch pot, 

The hamely, healthy parritch pot. 

There's folk may sweer 

By beef and beer, 

We ken whaur richer fare is got, 

We rin to you, O parritch pot. 



JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U. 95 

Here's to the parritch pot, 

The grand three-leggit parritch pot. 

A man is bowld, 

Resists the cowld, 

Is fit to face the hardest lot, 

If you stand by, O parritch pot. 

Here's to the parritch pot, 

The anshent Irish parritch pot. 

I ax what chance, 

Hae bairns in France, 

To grow their size if so they've got, 

Nae firm-upbuildin' parritch pot. 

Here's to the parritch pot, 

The black ould-fashion'd parritch pot. 

It's worth to live 

For what you give, 

We like them stiff, we like them hot, 

You're good to us, ould parritch pot. 



JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U.* 

THE trouble was whiskey wi' Mr. M'Wha, 

That wakeness for sperrits that brings to the wa' 

The thoosan's that should be sae happy and weel, 

If only if only if only aye IF 

The craturs could meet wi' a negative stiff, 

The ca' o' the liquor that's used by the deil 

To tak' awa' sense, 

Pounds, shillin's, and pence, 

* The rhymer affects to believe that the pronunciation of the 
familiar contraction is Es-q. =Es-ku. 



96 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

The health o' the body and health o' the sowl. 

Lord save the puir sinner where drink has a houl', 

That's ruin'd, that's lost, 

For here and hereafter for that is the cost 

O' drink to the drunkard be't woman or man, 

Unless in yer marcy ye lend them a han'. 

But Misther M'Wha, 

He wasn't no tinpenny farmer, na ! 

A man o' some dacency, substance and that, 

Has sat 

At table I'm tould, wi' a rale M.P. 

Himsel' an Esq-u. 

I've seen it on prented invillops blue, 

As plain as could be. 

And therefore I'm able to state ye the facks, 

"On His Majesty's Sarvice " and " Income Tacks," 

And him wi' a gate and an avenue, 

Coorse not like the gintry's, but still a' the same 

A somethin' by common in ragions like this. 

'Deed folk couldn't miss 

But gi'e him the blame ; 

And him wi' a daughter o' twinty at school, 

A boorder that cost him a guid fifty pound, 

Food and larnin' a' found 

But the extras, presarve us ! the extras was crool. 

'Twas frae Misthress M'Wha that the thing was heerd 

tell, 

A guinea for weshin' ! I ca' it a crime 
It parfit amaz'd me. Thinks I to mysel', 
Whaur lassies maun pay a hale guinea a time, 
For clanin' or weshin' their faces and arms, 
It's not me would kiss them at end o' the tarms. 
Them extras is scand'lous, 
Extortion, or wuss. 



JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U. 97 

But the story, the story o Misther M'Wha. 

Aisy now, aisy now, wait a bit, wait, 

Or maybe I winna tell ye ava'. 

I wantit to state 

He was frien' to the kirk, 

And never attempted his duty to shirk. 

Knew a' aboot motions, the rules o' debate, 

And takin' the cheer and beggin' to state, 

The p'ints, and amendments, and findin's, and a', 

And passin' you nanny muss cudn't be bate. 

A regilar pillar was Misther M'Wha, 

But losh, if a pillar, a pillar's not straight 

The buildin' it hands up's in danger to fa'. 

In case it was you 

(In a figure I mane) 

Was a nail in a pew, 

Or maybe a pane, 

Or a boord in the flure, 

Or a latch to the dure, 

And rusty, or dusty, or crooked, or thin, 

Or broken, it never would matter a pin. 

(That is as consarnin' the kirk) I consave, 

But pillars ! och, pillars must larn to behave. 

It doesn't look weel 

To see one on his heel 

(I'm drappin' that figure o' pillar ye ken, 

And spakin' o' ane o' yer brithers o' men), 

Swayin' this way and that way, and for'ard and aft, 

Like a crazy ould, cranky ould, top-hamper'd craft. 

Lurch, lurchin' and lurch, 

And as solemn as church, 

And gropin' his pockets, and starin' aroun', 

Purtendin' that somethin' was drapp'd on the groun' ; 

And wi' the consate, 

The fool, that you haven't obsarvit his state. 



98 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

Och, drink makes a blot 
On any man's record, I don't care his lot ; 
But in a purfessor that ought to be straight, 
It's no ways convanient or proper ; it's not. 



You're sniggerin' at the purfessin' idee, 

You're not o' the kirk nae purfessor I see. 

That isn't your name ; 

The bigger your shame. 

Will want o' purfessin' p'y debts for ye, man ? 

Be sure where ye stan' : 

Wha was it that practees'd that you might be free ? 

Ye mind ye o' Him and His sair agonie ; 

The worn face a-wet 

Wi' red blood he sweat, 

For you in the garden o' Gethsemane, 

The cross and the darkness endurit for you. 

Ye ken that its true, 

It can't be made less. 

And what by the way o' return do ye do ? 

Ye " dinna purfess." 

I'm thinkin' the day o' the judgment will find 
A fairish big lot o' ye o' the same mind. 
Ye'll trimble a wee 
When ax'd for your plea, 

Then oot wi' your answer, " We didn't purfess." 
And that's your reliance, O h'm ha yes. 
The angels will gasp at an answer sae poor, 
And silence in heaven by space o' an 'oor, 
Will maybe no' lave ye sae sartin and sure. 
Ye couldn't be bother'd, ye didn't refleck, 
'Twas aisy, 'twas lazy ye didn't purfess. 
Too late noo for trouble, too late for redress. 



JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U. 99 

Ye ken what's desarv'd, 

Sae, leftwards and backwards, a place resarv'd, 

And hardly seleck. 

But the story. It's comin', it's comin', and soon ; 

Ye think I'm addickit to wanderin' roon'. 

Ha' patience, my frien', 

I was thinkin' o' mithers and some o' their ways, 

Wi' wee bit belangin's o' infancy's days. 

Ye ken what I mean 

The curl in a bit o' silk paper atwist, 

The wee baby sark 

That would hardly be able to cover your fist, 

The first leather shoe, a coo frae the Ark, 

The treasures o' mitherhood safely laid by, 

And naethin' like them to be wanted again. 

And look'd at and kissit when naebody's nigh, 

And wet wi' a tear, tho' it may be the wean 

Is man grown and weel 

And trusty as steel. 

But O, when it's itherwise, when he goes wrang 

And staggerin' comes 

Frae them he ca's chums, 

Een heavy, unsteady, sits doon wi' a bang. 

A fool that's self-made, thick, stupid, and dense, 

Just a thing, not a baste 

(For a baste has some sense), 

And not in the laste 

Like that wee bit armfu' the mither thinks o'. 

And memory stirs 

And brings back the things o' the days lang ago 

The wee lovit bundle wi' face against hers, 

The auld babby language, the coo and the crow, 

And the arms roon' the neck. 

And the weshin' and hushin' and puttin' to rest, 



100 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

Sounds, sights all are back. 

And this is that wee one that slept on her breast, 

This thing is that son, 

This soul devil-won. 

O mair than the Vargin o' prophesied Word 

Hae kenn'd the heart bleedin' at thrust o' a sword, 

But the story, the story o' Misther M e Wha, 

Is it comin ava ? 

Aisy, my pet, 

We'll come to it yet. 

We'll say that she's deid, that mither, I mean. 

The laddie is coortin', has found him a queen, 

And O sic a girl ! 

Frae the tapmaist wee curl 

To the shapely wee heel at the back o' her shoe, 

Just parfit, a' through. 

And, mind ye, the mortial nice women are few. 

There's girls that are guid, and what ye ca' plain, 

And there's ithers again 

That's purty weel fac'd, 

But wi' squab hands or feet, 

Or a tarr'ble thick waist ; 

Or maybe ye'll meet 

Wi' lassies that's clarty (that's thro'-ither), or 

That's lazy, or stupid, or sly, which is waur. 

Or one may be comely as lang as she's dumb, 

But as soon as she spakes 

The spell on ye breaks, 

"Not any mair, thank ye not any mair, mum." 

But this wee bit bird 

(The wee's for endearment she's middle in size) 

Is one by God's word 

Ordain'd to be bonnie and lovin' and wise, 

Hair dark, plentifu', 



JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U. 101 

Her een like deep wells sae refreshin' and pure, 

Braid unwrinkled broo, 

A mouth that wad kisses frae cherubs allure, 

Child's blush-flooded skin. 

A sweet dimpled chin, 

A hand and an airm weel roonded and fu', 

A foot that a sculptor might copy, sae true, 

And her voice is the bird's, or a mixture o' three, 

The lark's and the blackbird's and dove's, for ye see 

It's cheery and deep, and it's lovin' as weel, 

To hear it's to know that its owner is leal. 

She's kind to wee weans 

And ould folk wi' pains. 

God bless her, God bless her, she's one o' the few 

Wi' whom the ould Tempter has little to do. 

Did ever ye think o' how one o' these lambs 
Needs hundreds, aye thoosan's o' thoosan's o' years 
O' wark in the darkness before she appears. 
The same as ould David has writ in his Psalms 
(A quare thing, I tell ye, that he didn't know), 
Writ doon and plann'd oot O ages ago, 
Aye, even before the first Adam had birth, 
His name and his form and, aye, even his thought, 
The substance to be o' him curiously wrought, 
Says he, "in the innermost pairts o' the earth." 
And this girlie's father and mither, the pair, 
They had to be just and exack as they were. 
Their fathers and mithers again, ye will see, 
Exackly the sort that they happen'd to be. 
Sae backwark to every one o' the springs 
That brought the girl's life frae beginnin's o' things. 

That hair that ye like and that frames the sweet face, 
'Tis hundreds o' years sin' it cam' to her race ; 



102 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

And her nose that's sae straight 

Is o' verra on id date,- 

And the winnin' wee smile that plays roon' her mou', 

I v wee! may be .due 

To a crossin' o' blood 

As far back as the flood ; 

And she had to be born and just here and just when 

She as infant appear'd 

And had to be rear'd 

Wi' folk and the food and the air o' the glen, 

To be what she is, 

The plan o' the Lord and the handiwork His. 



And a sweetheart comes roon', 

The winter is June, 

And O but it's bonnie, the bright fu' moon ! 

He comes, and the hours 

Are sunny and carry the scent o' the flow'rs. 

He comes, bonnie lad, 

And O but it's cheerfu', the lark's sang glad, 

And life is worth livin', good thrives, and the bad 

Is shrivell'd and shrunk. 

And he comes, and he comes, and he comes, comes 

DRUNK. 

O murderin' brute, sair hearts and wet een, 
There's sickness and death for the glad might-ha'-been. 
And trouble for a' is ordainit to be, 
And O but it's dreary the sab o' the sea ! 
And O but it's lonely the seagull's wheep ! 
And nights are sae weary if folk canna' sleep 
For a heart's dull ache. 

The wind that was warm is sae cauld like and chill, 
O sorrow can kill 
And a heart can break. 



JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U. 103 

I nearly forgot aboot Misther M'Wha, 

And 'deed and his story's no' muckle ava', 

A silly bit haver to laugh at a wee, 

And no' unconneckit \vi' drinkin' ye'll see. 

He had gone to the smiddy to see aboot wheels, 

And drapp'd in at six at ould Lucky M'Neill's, 

(This Lucky M'Neill's is a public, ye ken), 

And there he sat drinkin' till lang after ten ; 

When Peggy, the maid, 

Wi' the sarvin'-man's aid, 

Got him oot and insens'd * it was time to gang hame. 

The moon it was fu', and M'Wha was the same. 

Now the distance o' hame frae ould Lucky's abode 

Was three mile ow'r moorland, or five by the road. 

But Misther M'Wha, just fuddled a bit, 

Declar'd for the moor he was parfitly fit ; 

Then, takin' his bearin's by light o' the moon, 

He had the good sense to hand Peggy his purse, 

And set for himsel' a due wasterly coorse, 

That should, straightly follow'd, ha' seen him hame soon. 

But the whins on the moor were the shairpest o' whins, 

And prick'd the man's legs like a paper o' pins, 

And he, at ev'ry fresh scratch to his j'ints, 

Fell aff to the suth'ard a couple o' p'ints. 

And ere very lang he was steerin' due east, 

By-and-bye, when his list to the port side increas'd, 

It slew'd him to nor-'ard, until in twa 'oors 

He compass'd the circle complate on the moors. 

Thro' wakeness o' nature, or trick o' the deil's, 

Straight back was he landed at Lucky M'Neill's. 

He thought he was hame tho'. He kicked up a stour 
And rattled the thumb-latch and bang'd at the dure, 

* In Ulster parlance "to insense" a person "into" a thing is to 
make him understand it. 



104 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

And cried oot to Sarah (that's Misthress M'Wha), 
" Let me in, let me in, dear, I'm no' drunk ava'." 
Poor Peggy was waken'd, she crept frae her bed, 
And keek'd thro' the windy she slept overhead 
She saw who it was, anger loosen'd her tongue, 
She ca'd him a blackguard that ought to be hung 
For keepin' poor people frae sleepin' a wink, 
And comin' at one in the mornin' for drink. 
He heard the girl bargin' like one in a maze. 
" It seems it is Peggy, not Sarah," he says. 
Quo' he as he balanc'd himsel' on his heels, 
" Do ye mane for to say I'm at Lucky M'Neill's ? 
Is't raly you, Peggy," he says ; "are you sure ? 
Because, if ye are," says he, "open the dure 
And bring me o' sperrits the lastest wee drap, 
But watch wi' the water in turnin' the tap. 
The addin' o' water to sperrits for me, 
It needs to be done wi' disarnin'," says he. 

Tho' Peggy refus'd to come doon to the shap 
At last she consinted to fetch him a drap, 
Let it doon in a jug at the end o' a string, 
He warnin' her aye how important a thing 
It is to be carefu' with water if you 
Hae any reducin' o' sperrits to do. 
He finished the jorum and startin' once mair, 
Kept true to his coorse to the breadth o' a hair, 
For, bein' noo drunk, and no' fuddled a wee, 
The need was for Providence actin' ye see ; 
Sae Providence guarded him safe ow'r the moor, 
And landed him safe at his ain front dure. 



But did Providence think o't to keep him awa' 
Frae any attentions o' Misthress M'Wha ! 



JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U. 105 

Ha' ever ye, anywhere, heerd o' or read 

O' Providence puttin' a man to his bed ? 

Na ! that's the defeck, 

That's whaur it's slack. 

'Twill see ye, drunk, harae, safe and soon' as a bell, 

But damage and consequence, that's for yersel'. 

If ye fa' thro' a muckle big windy o' glass 

'Twill mak' it as safe as a rowl on the grass, 

But tho' ye escape withoot scratch to your shins, 

Ye p'y for the breakage, ye p'y for your sins. 

And sae, in this instance, wi' Misther M f Wha, 

Tho' Providence kept him frae ever a fa' 

And saw him safe hame wi' his back to the wa', 

It drappit him there just to fend for himsel' 

Wi' consequence no' very hard to foretell. 

Instead o' bein' carefu' and dukin' * his wife, 

And slippin' in saftly like fear'd o' his life, 

He thought, silly man, he was back at M'Neill's, 

And hammer'd awa at the dure wi' his heels, 

Threw gravel and dirt at the windy above, 

And holler'd and shouted for Peggy his love, 

To let doon the jug and to see it was fu', 

And see that the water was scarce in the brew. 

Mind ye, this at the windy o' Misthress M'Wha, 

The one that he should ha' avoided o' a*. 

Noo had she been sleepin' the shouts and the raps 
Would, sartin, ha' broken the soondest o' naps. 
But the Misthress M'Wha 
Wasna sleepin' ava'. 

'Deed, troth, she was waukin' and waitin' for him, 
And lookin', I tell ye, oncommonly grim ; 
And since he was beggin' a jugfu' she thought 
It wad be a kindness to gie what he sought. 
* Ducking, to avoid. 



106 OUR WALK AND CONVERSATION 

This hoose o' M'Wha's, I wad hae ye to ken, 
It isn't a common farmhoose o' the glen. 
If ye're veesitin' here 
There's everythiri' near 

In the way o' convanience for weshin' your face, 
There's towels and water and a' in their place, 
And sape in your room a dacent big lump, 
Ye hae nae occasion to gang to the pump. 

Noo the room whaur the mistress was lyin' that night 

Was furnish 'd a maist splendiferous sight, 

There was a wee table wi' marble atap, 

That must ha' cost dear at the furniture shap. 

It look'd like an altar, imposin' and grand, 

And on it, diposit just there to your hand, 

Alang wi' scent-bottles and tooth-pooder mugs, 

Twa basins and water in heavy, big jugs : 

And sae when the mistress was deev'd wi' the din, 

And saw siccan state that the maister was in, 

And heard him to beg 

For a jugfu' frae Peg, 

While he gap'd at the windy wi' wide-open mou', 

She gave him a jug I should say a jug-fu'. 

Sic spluttrin' and spuein' and spittin' it oot, 

Sic freedom in usin' o' langwidge to boot : 

And " Woman," he says, " Peggy, woman," says he, 

" Ye've droon'd the drap sperrits and nearly droon'd me. 

And didn't I tell ye," says he, "to forbear 

Wi' water ? and this is the way ye tak' care. 

I wish I was near ye and pu'in' your lug, 

Awa' and get ready anither wee jug, 

And let it doon canny, my woman, and quick, 

The water I've swallow'd has made me feel sick." 



JAMES M'WHA, ESQ-U. 107 

Just then what he ax'd for cam' doon on his head, 
A gift, no' frae Peggy, 'twas Sarah's instead ; 
Poor Peg, she was miles awa', sleepin' in bed. 
The misthress's aim wi' the water was true, 
And Misther M'Wha had anither jug-fu'. 

Ye mind ye o' Aaron I'm sure ye have heerd 
Hoo the ile tumbled doon frae his head to his beard, 
And hoo it continued still doonwards to go, 
And doon to the skirts o' his garments did flow. 
Weel, the water did that wi' poor Misther M'Wha, 
(I suppose it's accordin' to gravity's law). 
It flow'd frae his hair doon the back o' his neck, 
It wander'd, meander'd aboot in the dark, 
Until it had soak'd to the tails o' his sark. 
The drenchin', I think, had a soothin' effeck, 
For straight to the dinin'-room windy he crept, 
And a'most before he could lie doon, he slept. 

He woke aboot sunrise, he heard the dogs bark, 

Aboon him he heard the sweet song o' the lark, 

The bird that the Lord has made king o' the air. 

(O sure it's the bird He has blest wi' His love ! 

If ever I win to the heaven above, 

I'll look for its angel, it's sure to be there.) 

Straight up, perpendickler, he managed to get, 

He thought it was rain that had made him sae wet ; 

Went into the hoose, and then tried his wife's dure, 

But couldn't get in she had lock'd it secure. 

Sae he cried thro' the keyhole, " Up, Sarah, my lass, 

It has rained in the night, 'twill be grand for the grass." 

Sae silly the man, and he an Esq-u., 

His deegnity suffer'd, I'm thinkin' don't you ? 



VII 

THE WINDS AND THE SEA 

" GREAT are the sea and the heaven/' and great is the wind 
that moves between them. Memories for glen folk are 
largely memories of wind and water, and the sounding of 
these mingles with the recalled voices, the laughter and the 
crying of old times. Long years and half a globe may lie 
between them and the days and places of childhood, yet 
always does the swirl of a wet night bring back the sound of 
raindrops from a wind-swept eave on Antrim hills or shore, 
and a warm breath of Spring in a far country can carry the 
whin-scent in a land where there are no whins. And a 
breaking wave anywhere has power to call back the green 
sea, the angry sea, the bright sea, the black, heaving sea lit 
by a lighthouse beam, the 

" Awful pitiless sea 
With all its terror and mystery, 
The dim dark sea" 

that was seen by the eye of childhood. 

Some are brutalised by the great living water, many may 
be refined. To live on it, to be buffetted by it, to fight with 
it as with a giant, treacherous and relentless, does make 
some to be pitiless and cruel. But to others, and the many, 
the vast and mighty water that wraps the whole world round, 
the sea that never rests, that never has rested since God 

gathered together the waters, with its unexplored oceans, its 

109 



110 THE WINDS AND THE SEA 

unfathomed depths and unknown inhabitants, its spells, 
mysteries, and tragedies, the sea is teacher and refiner. 
Those who know it, and who hear the sound of many waters 
when their ears are open to echoes of the past, will not 
long be absent from it, and, removed from it, they crave for 
its sight and breath as the thirsty soul longs for cool water. 
Winds and sea are of the things not to be tempered or con- 
trolled. There is no empire of the air to be held by man, 
and supremacy at sea is only a supremacy of men over men, 
the ships are broken when the great sea rises. Man may 
change the mountain he may, indeed, remove it altogether ; 
there is little on earth he cannot change but the sea defies 
him and his works, and remains the one thing that is the 
same from the beginning until now. 

For this rhymer the winds are no insentient gases of 
varying temperatures moving at varying speeds in different 
directions. They are personalities with their likes and dis- 
likes. They work, play, rest, are gay, cheerful, angry, or 
sad ; they do things of set purpose, for fun or out of malice. 
When young Mrs. M'Manus is going along the road under 
a new hat a miraculous (and exceeding great) confection of 
wire, velvet, and ostrich plumes and the north wind "whips" 
it off and lands it with a bold sweep in Widow M'llvenny's 
back close, it is no simple effect of air in motion deflected, or 
of air compressed against a gable, it is a little practical joke of 
the conscious north wind. But, as he is good-natured, he takes 
care to land the hat on a bed of clean peat culm at the foot 
of the stack, but just near enough to a pool of stagnant 
green water and a pig of inquiring turn of mind to make the 
heart of Mrs. M'Manus "jump into her mouth." And the 
south wind looks with interest after Pat's garden, wandering 
in and out of the orchard, groping about the roots of the 
apple trees for the sleeping daffodils, telling them what 
o'clock it is, and helping them to rise. In Spring, even 
in the time when the east has it nearly all her own way, 



THE WINDS AND THE SEA 111 

south is ever trying to edge in with a puff to help the prim- 
roses. 

Nor is the sea, with its majesty like that of eternity, 
a dead thing. It has its moods and tempers, it fights or 
gambols, blesses or curses, it changes its garb at pleasure. 
From it the fishermen draw such fish as townsman never 
heard of gnoud, blocken, lithe, flounder, and a host of others, 
though when he, the townsman, has learned that a parten is 
a green crab and a crubin a red one, a silch a seal, and a 
herring hog a porpoise, he may begin to think that possibly 
the strange fish are the old familiar ones under new names. 

There may be times when the glen dweller thinks he has 
more than enough of wind and sea, but generally and at all 
times of the year, he who has lived with the great powers 
wants to be with them. Specially is their company delight- 
ful in Spring, on such a day and with such accidents and 
surroundings as the rhymer has detailed in some of his 
verses on country life. Then, out in the clean-harrowed, 
new-sown, undulating fields, full of a promise which is 
sweeter than fruition, with everything on the way to, which 
is to have more joy than that which follows arrival, honoured 
by the trust of seagull and crow that tread on his heels, and 
are not afraid, getting glances full of modest confidence 
from the big, innocent eyes of maiden primroses, the rhymer 
would not change places with any man be he pope or 
potentate, would not be younger or older, or richer or poorer, 
not any body or thing other than he is Pat M'Carty, farmer 
of Antrim on 

" A sunny, windy day in Spring." 



112 THE WINDS AND THE SEA 



WHAT THE WIND DOES 

IT bothers bees bummin' roon', 

Pushes auld weemin doon, 
Touzles the weans' heids and plucks craws' wings. 

It clips, claps, clatters, 

Tears things to tatters, 
It races, rampages, it w hustles and sings. 

It lifts duds dryin', 

Sends them aff flyin', 
Twists things and breaks things and mak's things fa' ; 

It taks a guid bonnet 

And leaves naethin' on it ; 
Hates the sicht o' silk hats and flings them awa'. 

It strips aff the trees' claes, 

Havoc wi' corn plays, 
Rowls over haystacks by dizzens and scores, 

It chirps, squeaks, flutters, 

Flaps window-shutters, 
Pu's thatch and slates aff and bangs barn-doors. 

It worries a' Christendom, 

Blows reek doon the lum, 
Chokes, pumps, flabbergasts, plays deil's tricks. 

It strikes hard and cuts keen, 

Throws dust in folk's een, 
Bumps, thumps, tarrifies, gies us oor licks.* 

* To give one his licks is to give him a good drubbing. 



HOW DOES THE WIND BLOW? 113 

HOW DOES THE WIND BLOW? 

How does the wind blow ? 
North it is, neighbour. 
This day a man's a man 
Fit for his labour. 
Listen ! what noise it makes, 
Hear the lum roaring, 
That's a Goliath wind 
Puffing and snoring. 
Over a thousand leagues, 
Singing, it courses, 
Raising the white manes 
O* the sea-horses. 
Sure it's the breath o' life 
Into ye blowing, 
Sending the red blood 
Pulsing and flowing. 
Troth, and a windy day 
Is to my liking. 
I feel like Nimrod, 
Or an ould Viking. 

How does the wind blow ? 
East it is, biting, 
Cutting to marrow-bones, 
Shrivelling, blighting. 
Look at the face o' me, 
Spotted like measles ; 
That wind has edge on't 
Fit to shave weasels. 
Cowld do ye say it is ? 
East's always chilling, 
Cowld's just no name for it, 
'Deed, and its killing. 



114 THE WINDS AND THE SEA 

Doesn't the peat-fire 
Draw ye and charm ye ? 
Though ye might sit on it 
Ere it would warm ye. 
There's Brown's sheep again 
Into my clover, 
I'll have the law on him 
Ere the month's over. 
Never for me were 
Sarvints so lazy, 
Me wi' the toothache 
Driving me crazy. 
Things are atwist the day 
Crooked, uncivil, 
'Deed, I can well believe 
That there's a divil. 
There's half the roof aff 
Byre and the dairy, 
And that ould cow sick. 
Things is contrairy. 

How does the wind blow ? 
West it is, rumbling ; 
West wi' a growl in it 
Like a dog grumbling. 
Wish I knew what to do, 
Weather allowing. 
I should have horses out, 
I should be ploughing. 
Folk wi' prophetic joints 
Like Betty Martin, 
They can foretell things ; 
Here I'm unsartin. 
Is it a gentle blow, 
Kind o' saft duster ? 



HOW DOES THE WIND BLOW? 115 

Or does a storm come, 
Regular buster ? 
Life is a queer thing, 
Troubles and sneezing, 
Come like the west wind 
At their ain pleasing. 
Here do we sit the day, 
Gone we're to-morrow, 
One day blithe o' heart, 
Next day in sorrow. 
Skies are as black as pot, 
Clouds do not scatter, 
That last windy gust, 
Smelt o' rain water. 

How does the wind blow ? 
South, saftly singing 
Sangs o' the bright time 
She'll be soon bringing. 
South wind is kindly, 
Loving and giving, 
Springtime is heartsome, 
Life is worth living. 
Trees stand nae langer 
Bare in sic grim rows, 
Under a hedge I 
Found a new primrose ; 
Somehow it made me 
Think of wee Jennie, 
Always I thought her 
Fairest o' any. 
Jen' has a bonnie face 
(Beauty does matter), 
Saft touzled black hair, 
Eyes like deep water. 



116 THE WINDS AND THE SEA 

She's no big talker, 
Not the loud-mouth kind. 
Jen' has a sweet voice, 
Low like the south wind. 
He that will ax her 
Troth he will do well, 
Jennie's a sweet girl, 
Jennie's a jewel. 



THE FOUR WINDS OF HEAVEN 

THE North's a man o' iron frame, 

A red-fac'd, grey-hair'd, hale ould blade ; 
He likes to tramp the fields in spring, 

And break the clods the frost has made. 
He doesn't whustle like the Wast, 

And where he goes won't tarry lang, 
But sings wi' glad and hearty voice, 

A rumblin', roarin', rantin' sang ; 
He shakes the chimlies, lifts the thatch, 

Blaws up the lassies' claes behind ; 
And when they turn he smacks their cheeks 

He may be coorse, he's no' onkind. 

The South's a lady. In her arms 

She carries store o' bonnie flow'rs ; 
She plants them in the fields and glen, 

And waters them wi' gentle show'rs. 
For her the hedges dress in white, 

For her the blushin' daisies spring, 
And when they hear her liltin' voice 

The little birds begin to sing. 
The sleepy praties rub their eyes, 

When through the clods she speaks to them ; 
Then hurry on their jackets new, 

And up and cry, " God bless you, ma'am ! " 



THE SEA 117 

The East's a woman bitter, bad, 

Hated and scorn'd where'er she goes ; 
A woman troubled wi' the cowld, 

Aye wipin' at her thin red nose. 
It's sair to see her ugly tracks, 

When roon' the hoose at night she walks 
A wee bit chicken lyin' deid, 

A wheen o' blacken'd pratie stalks. 
The lamb that yesterday was born, 

Puir wee onsteady-leggit beast, 
She kicks and kills beside its dam, 

The devil's dochter is the East. 

The Wast's a man. His lang red beard 

Is wat as ever wat can be ; 
Doon frae the hills he tramps at night, 

And like a piper whustles he. 
He has nae judgment in his wark 

Which is to gie the plants their drap ; 
And whiles he'll droon your standin' corn, 

Or wash away yer pratie crap. 
He's just a lazy lumbrin' lout ; 

He's no ill-natur'd that he's not ; 
And wud be likit weel if he 

Were carefu' wi' his waterin'-pot. 



THE SEA 
MORNING 

THE tide is in, the sea's a-rest. On far-off Scottish hills 
Is herald o' the rising sun, a cold light, dim and grey. 
See ! now he comes, the King himself, and ev'ry inlet fills 
Wi' glowing, dancing, golden light, the new light o' the day. 



118 THE WINDS AND THE SEA 

The wind is no' awake as yet from slumbers o' the night, 
The sails lie flat against the masts, clear mirror'd in the bay, 
And tiny baby wavelets are playing wi' the light 
That falls upon a smiling sea at breaking o' the day. 

NOON 

Thro' spray that glints like di'monds bright the glad boats 

gaily go, 

The sails are wet, the coorses set, the wind is blowing strang ; 
It is the time for labour now, the tide must ebb and flow, 
And wind and sea and sailor join wi' gladness in a sang. 

Like madden' d wild racehorses the white man'd billows fly, 
The tide that ebb'd must flow again, and ere the night grows 

dark 

Fu' many a mile o' golden sand and rocky shore must lie 
Under the green and rolling wave the busy sea's at wark. 

NIGHT 

The sun's awa' to ither lands, the far lands o' the west, 
And night o'er land and rock and sea her veil o' black has 

spread, 

The silver moon, her journey done, has tired sunk to rest, 
And sleepy stars are winking from the dark sky overhead. 

Lang since the wind has ceas'd to chase the clouds across the 

sky, 
And hameward, slow, wi' flapping sails, the laden vessels 

creep ; 

And a plash from far off sandy shores sounds like a restfu' sigh 
From the gently heaving bosom o' the mighty sea, asleep. 



VIII 

FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN 

THE garden is very full, if not very large. There is a long yard- 
wide border in front of the house with old bushes of southern- 
wood, hollyhocks that come up year after year with unabated 
vigour, and great clumps of Dielytra, locally known as the 
Bleeding Heart. This border joins the garden proper, 
which is here of narrow dimensions, passing the gable of 
the house and the end of the close or open space in front of 
the door, and divided from the orchard by a thorn hedge. 
After the close corner is passed, the garden widens out into 
an irregular triangle on the orchard slope with the lowest 
point near the old well already described. The entrance to 
it is by a little iron gate at the end of the close, and its path 
is the nearest way to the well if you start from the front door. 
At one time the hedge completely enclosed the triangle, but 
partly because the thorn did not thrive in the shade of the 
apple trees, and partly because of traffic to the well, it has 
now disappeared at the lower point, and here with charming 
effect the garden merges into orchard. By the well over T 
flow Pat has planted lily of the valley and blue irises the 
yellow wild iris, wood sorrel, ferns and other beautiful things 
came of themselves and were made welcome. Here too are 
the best of the daffodils, and under the hedgerow which 
divides orchard and garden from field is a colony of wood 
hyacinths. 

Not all the garden is for flowers. Ascending from the 

119 



120 FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN 

well the triangle to the right, open to the sun, is given up to 
vegetables and the gooseberry and currant bushes which line 
the paths. At the top, when you reach the narrow part 
which passes the close-end, you are back in flower-land pure 
and simple. Here the space is divided after the old fashion 
into small boxwood-bordered beds, and, excepting in the later- 
made bairn's garden under the gable, the boxwood is a great 
deal higher than is liked by fashionable gardeners. But Pat 
has long ago discovered that much of a garden's sweetness 
is due to the boxwood, and whether the June sun draws 
more perfume from it than from the pinks is a question he 
has not been able to settle. With a hankering after things 
that belong to the days of our fathers and the old time before 
them, he has clipped a yew into a tapering succession of mill- 
stones crowned by the lordly peacock. And as a clipped 
peacock of yew is not at home without a sun-dial, he has set up 
a pillar with a slate slab, carved by a handy mason after a pat- 
tern found in an old book where the " s's " are like " f s." The 
double lilac primroses flourish in the shade of the tall box- 
wood, their heads so much too heavy for the slender stems 
that they do not try to sit up, but loll, lazy fashion, in the 
luxuriant leafage. There is no country garden complete 
without a flowering currant, and so there is one here by the 
gate of entry. On the other side it is balanced by a giant 
fuchsia, the ten-foot-high child of a plant still growing out 
of the stone fencing of an untidy, unkempt farm haggard 
in Islandmagee, and covered in summer like its offspring with 
countless thousands of crimson -scarlet bells. There are 
dahlias, the old double unfashionable kinds, crimson and 
yellow, that are not coddled by lifting when the cold weather 
comes, but sleep out bravely through the winter with but a 
shovelful of stable litter for protection. Withal they can 
produce flowers that can put nursery specimens to shame, but 
then, flowers are like humankind and are glad to give much 
and be content with little where there is love for them. 



FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN 121 

The wallflowers, too, know that they are not to be pulled up 
and thrown on the rubbish heap after their spring effort, and 
so they make return by blooming in some fashion nearly the 
whole year through, and rearing healthy young families round 
them to take their places when it is time to go the way of all 
life, plant or animal. There are pinks, white and red daisies, 
blush roses, moss roses, damask roses and cabbage roses, 
groves of mint and apple balm, and with its own boxwood 
bordered square in the centre of all the gay things and sweet 
things and not ashamed a bed of parsley. 

Outside the garden, at the back of the close and at the top 
of the triangle where are the vegetables and the gooseberries, 
is a planting of which Pat is not a little proud. Seven or eight 
years ago the space it occupies was a whinny knowe, the bare 
rock showing through in half-a-dozen places. A willow rod, 
stuck into the ground as support for a garden waif, grew 
rapidly, and Pat, seeing this, cut a number and planted what 
speedily became a waving grove of willow. Then a golden 
elder was set in the lower part of the space immediately behind 
the garden hedge. In the time of a former owner of the cot- 
tage, less particular about appearances than the present, there 
was a midden here, and the spot suited the elder admirably. 
In four or five years it smothered the hedge in front, and sent 
long leafy messengers down the garden slope, appearing in 
the glory of its summer dress as a great rolling cloud of gold. 
Then the rocks behind were blasted, earth was carted to the 
spot, and behind the elder were planted two little groves each 
of half-a-dozen trees, one of silver poplar and the other of 
Primus Pissardii and copper beech. All have done well, and 
now the sight of them in early summer is, in Pat's estima- 
tion, one of the things that make life worth living. One of 
the best points from which to see this colour effect is the 
garden foot near the well. There, looking uphill, the arch- 
ing branches of the apple trees frame a picture of living red, 
gold and silver, at which the planter gazes with never lessen- 



122 FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN 

ing delight. Always there is breeze enough to turn up the 
silvery undersides of the poplar leaves, and move the billowy 
skirts of the elder in graceful sweeps. The wife of the 
planter says that her husband's head has got a permanent 
tilt backwards by long looking at his loved plantation. 
Allowing large discount, the playful statement may serve as 
a measure of the delight this plant-lover derives from his 
hill-top. 

Prunus Pissardii is not common in this country ; as a 
matter of fact these few trees are the only ones in the dis- 
trict, and Pat found them where he found his sweetheart 
at Dumfries. Their purchase led to the annual sending of 
a catalogue by the nursery owners. Catalogues have a way 
of attracting catalogues ; and without being able exactly to 
explain how they find him, Pat sees now half-a-dozen arrivals 
every spring and autumn. If the reader of this story has no 
garden, and no special love for plant-life, it is useless to try 
to make him understand the delight of a nursery catalogue. 
If, on the other hand, he loves plants and has a garden, and 
especially a garden with light and shade and soils and aspects, 
then it is needless to say anything to him on the subject. 
He knows how catalogues come and accumulate, and over- 
flow their appointed corner on the shelf, and how his wife 
brings them to him from time to time asking if he " wants " 
them, thereby indicating that she thinks the waste-paper 
basket the proper place for them. He knows the joy of 
dipping into the last new one here and there, reserving the 
full examination for a leisure happy hour ; knows how, as he 
reads, the rare rock-plant from the Caucasus becomes a sheet 
of bloom on his garden wall, and how the North American 
bog lover fits into just the very place for it in his garden. 
And Pat knows all these things. 

He has sent for some of these interesting foreigners, has 
known the delight of expectancy, the pleasures of the arrival, 
of the unwrapping and the unrolling, of the preparation of 



ROSE OF SHARON 123 

the soil, and the planting and watering and watching of 
the newcomer. Sometimes these strangers have made them- 
selves at home with him, and have flourished amazingly, and 
sometimes they have pined and dwined (a good north-country 
word) and wished themselves back to the Caucasus. 

But when it comes to rhyming, it is only the old home 
flowers that inspire the music. The sight and scent of the 
new flowers have not the heart-stirring power of the old 
wallflower and the damask rose. When Pat was a grown man 
he had in a book the pressed leaves of a Rose of Sharon, 
given to him when he was a child, and which he, with a 
child's faith, had accepted as the veritable rose of Judah's 
fields. And what pictures of the Holy Land he saw, by the 
aid of those dried golden petals. Song and picture, for the 
Antrim man, are only in the old flowers. He can pen lines to 
a hollyhock, but not to Eremurus robustus ; and if he should 
write a sonnet to Onosma Taurica, people would ask of him 
"Who was she?" 



ROSE OF SHARON 

ROSE, Rose o' Sharon fair, when, years ago, 

A bairn, I first your golden, petals saw, 
Wi' strange delight and love I watch'd you grow, 

And gather' d o' the bloom amaist wi' awe. 
For you were written o' in Haily Book, 

Within its leaves your leaves o' gold I hid, 
And when I turn'd its page at you to look 

The scenes o' Sharon's land I walk'd amid. 
Your silky petal made the picture glow 

Wi' sheen o' silken garments dy'd at Tyre, 
Your gold the beaten gold o' shields did show 

In house at Lebanon, that shone like fire. 
Your name brought vision o' an Eastern clime, 

O' distant, sunny skies for ever blue, 



124 FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN 

O' Judah's beauty in the ancient time, 

O' Solomon, the king, wha sang o' you. 
I thought how he, in majesty array 'd, 

Wi' wealth and wisdom and his glories a', 
Could write o' cedar by the forest glade, 

And plant that grows in crevice o' the wa'. 
You brought the treasures o' the far lands near, 

The myrrh, the frankincense and precious things, 
Slow brought by caravan through deserts drear 

To glorious make the palaces o' kings. 
You painted for my een the vision bright 

O' angels comin' in the clouds to sing, 
O' shepherds watchin' o' their flocks by night, 

O' Him the greater then the earthly king. 
I dream'd He sought you, mither-led afield, 

To make sweet posies in His childhood's days. 
Believ'd, in aifter time, His work reveal'd, 

You cheer'd the Man o' Sorrows by the ways. 
Rose here " O' Sharon " nam'd, though but in name, 

Flow'r o' the East and bairn's imagining, 
Yet still your magic is to me the same, 

Aye will your golden head the pictures bring. 



WALLFLOWER 

O FLOWER o' Spring, my heart's delight, 
Ye surely hae a perfect right, 

The wizard's power to claim ; 
Tho' I in ither lands may be, 
The scent o' you can mak' me see 

The wee thatch'd hoose at hame. 
One scent your ain rich dress is seen, 
Blood-red or goolden ower green, 

As fair as ever grew ; 



HOLLYHOCK 125 

I see the daisies at your feet, 
And lilac primroses sae sweet, 

That companied wi' you; 
I see the whitewashed wall behind, 
The window wi' the muslin blind, 

The low, half-open door ; 
In thocht I step inside and see 
The big airm-chair set out for me, 

The clean, well-sweepit floor ; 
The clock, a gift of auld grandsire, 
The dog asleep before the fire, 

The bleezin' fire o' peat ; 
I see the wife, sae busy she, 
Sae ready wi' a smile for me, 

And aye sae clean and neat. 
O, dear's the spot where life began, 
And deep within the heart o' man, 

Its treasur'd picture lies ; 
When hame and we are far apart, 
A wallflower's scent has magic art 

To paint it for our eyes. 



HOLLYHOCK 

TALL, stately, wi' an auld-warld grace, 

And wi' that courtly air 
That gangs wi' patches on the face 

And powder in the hair, 
Like dame that walked sedate and slow, 

Or glided in the dance 
In ancient times, lang, lang ago, 

At some auld court o' France. 
A beauty, beautified by Art, 

Possess' d o' golden store, 



126 FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN 

And yet wi' lowliness o' heart, 

That made her seek the poor : 
Sae that, in spite o' envied lot, 

High birth and noble name, 
Within the poorest peasant's cot 

She seem'd to be at hame. 
I've seen ye in the gay parterre, 

Where proud geraniums flam'd ; 
Your calm and stately presence there 

Made ither flow'rs asham'd. 
I've seen ye stand, majestic, tall, 

Hedg'd roon' about wi' green. 
Wi' background o' a castle wall, 

And there ye reign'd a queen. 
And yet ye hae sae lov'd the poor, 

That, in your glory drest, 
You stand fu' oft at cottage door, 

And there I like you best. 
O noble plant wi' glorious dow'r, 

O' wealth that can't be hid, 
God might ha' made a fairer flow'r 

I'm sure He never did. 



ROSE 

O WHA shall be queen, 

The ruler serene, 
O' garden and ev'ry sweet flow'ret that grows ? 

Say how shall I find 

This best o' her kind ? 
For many a flow'r in my garden that blows, 

Has scent for the air, 

Or form that is fair, 
Or colour that bright as a flame o' fire glows. 



LILY OF THE VALLEY 127 

I've found a' the three 

At last, rose, in thee, 
Sweet rosebud, just waitin' sun's kiss to unclose. 

Wi' form, colour, scent, 

In one blossom blent, 
Ye shall be queen o' them, beautiful rose. 



SUNFLOWER 

YE auld muckle plate o' fire wi' bleezes roon' the brim, 
Was't lookin' at the sun sae lang that made ye grow like 
him? 

Ye've copied weel his face and form ye've climbit purty 

high, 
It's no' for want o' wish or will ye hav'na reach'd the sky. 

Ye're watchin' for him in the east before the day's begun, 
Ye're glow'rin' at him in the wast at night when he has 
done. 

Ye auld muckle plate o' fire wi' bleezes roon' the brim, 
It's lookin' at the sun sae lang has made ye grow like him. 



LILY OF THE VALLEY 

MY garden has a shady place 
Near by the well. 

The lily o' the valley there 
Has come to dwell. 

Behind her rises mossy bank 
And velvet sward, 



128 FLOWERS OF THE GARDEN 

Wi' soft-ey'd primrose in the Spring 

Right gaily starr'd. 
There, thickest by the hidden stream 

Where well o'erflows, 
Her trinity o' pale green leaves 

The sorrel shows. 
There live sweet violets, and hosts 

O' blossoms sma', 
'Twould tak' a botanist wi' books 

To name them a'. 
And ow'r the lowly blossoms wave 

The kindly ferns, 
Like lovin' mithers stretchin' airms 

To shelter bairns. 
There, where the laboured garden ends, 

'Twixt wild and tame, 
My lily o' the valley fair 

Has made her hame. 

Wi' her nae form majestic, high, 

Invites the gaze, 
Nae colour cryin' in the sun 

Seeks for your praise. 
Ye maun bend low ow'r guardian leaves, 

And seek wi' care 
To find this shy, sweet, modest flow'r, 

My lily fair. 
The gracefu' stalk sae delicate, 

A' set wi' bells, 
That ring oot fragrance on the air 

As music swells. 
We'd like ye, lily, though ye sought, 

Wi' height or hue, 
To adverteese as ither blooms, 

But 'tis wi' you 



LILY OF THE VALLEY 129 

As wi' the guid o' human kind, 

Guidness that's fair, 
Concealment mak's it fairer still, 

And lov'd the mair. 

I love them a', the bonnie flow'rs, 

Unnam'd or nam'd, 
Wild in the forest, muir, or field, 

Or garden tam'd. 
My heart has chambers big enough 

To hold them a', 
Aye, e'en the dandelion rough, 

Whase beauty's sma' 
And wha, aye, in forbidden pairts 

Ye're like to find, 
I love the ragged rascal tho' 

He's hard to bind. 
But for a few my heart o' hearts 

Hauds inner shrine, 
And in it aye, my lily fair, 

A place is thine. 



IX 

FLOWERS OF THE FIELD 

THE lane that wanders through the fields and ends against 
the hill-foot is the nearest way from the high road to a few 
little semi-cultivated patches of mountain land hardly worthy 
to be called farms. The lowest and best of these is known 
as Sam Turley's, although Sam resigned all property in it in 
favour of his son-in-law nearly fifteen years ago. Sam is a 
very old man; in the language of the country "he will 
never see ninety again." Years and rheumatism have bent 
him so that he walks now like the letter L turned upside 
down, but his face is not old nor his mental strength abated. 
If you meet him on the road, it is the full round disc of the 
Tam-o'-Shanter that is seen approaching, but when a step is 
heard and the old man throws back his head the face is 
striking enough to make a stranger stop. The delicate 
refined features tell of trouble bravely borne, of long-con- 
tinued plain living and high thinking. His is 

"... the clear transparent skin 
That shows the spirit's light within." 

Long ago he had wife and sons and daughters, but death 
came and gathered them one by one all but the youngest 
daughter. When she married, her father did that dangerous 
thing he made over his farm and all his belongings to his 
child and her husband. In this case, however, the trust has 
been justified, and the gift, made by the father at a time 



132 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD 

when he was nearly heart-broken by the loss of the last son, 
has never been regretted. 

Notwithstanding the great difference in their ages, Pat 
and Sam Turley are close companions. Relieved from the 
cares of farming, the old man divides his time nearly equally 
between the house of his child and that of his friend, and it 
must be a wild day of winter that does not see him more 
than once up and down that rough cart-track through the 
fields. As he goes there are frequent departures from the 
straight path, and the iron-shod staff is busy nearly all the 
time in raising ferns, mosses, and the wild flowers of the 
glen. These will be replanted with the aid of the stick that 
raised them, mostly in the garden of his friend, for his own 
on the mountain side is too bare and exposed for experiments 
in floriculture. One of these experiments, hitherto unsuc- 
cessful, has been the planting of the wild pansy among 
garden varieties in the hope of securing a new and mixed 
type. The old man has a keen eye for variegations, sports, 
or peculiar growths, and in his search for these he has more 
than once discovered species not previously known to exist 
in the country. But if he robs glen and field of a few things 
that he may observe them at his ease in a garden, he has 
restored to wild nature by more than a hundred-fold. The 
ripening stalks of foxgloves are carefully gathered, and the 
seeds in countless thousands are sown on the glen banks by 
the tumbling river. " With God's blessing, Pat, that will be 
a grand sight when they flower " is a word the younger man 
has heard many a time when he has been taken to see the 
results of the old man's work. That labour of love has 
made the wilderness blossom, and filled the wild of bramble, 
bracken, and whin with patches of poppies, primroses, and 
forget-me-not. The yellow toad-flax, brought from a garden 
at a distance, can now take care of itself, and the rarer ferns 
collected over a wide area flourish in many a damp and 
sheltered nook under the dripping rocks. 



FLOWERS OF FOREST AND FIELD 133 

Love of plant life is one bond between the old man and 
the younger, but only one of many. Not a great reader of 
books, Sam has nevertheless in thought traversed the in- 
finite, has observed, thought, and theorised so that converse 
with his mind gives that " sense of largishness and space " 
which Pat claims in a humorous rhyme as a characteristic of 
Cushendun. There are minds like the front gardens of the 
houses in city streets full, empty, weedy, or well kept, the 
boundary line is easily reached. There are others again 
like the ample stretches of an old-time pleasaunce with 
possibilities of discovery at every turn, and with a back- 
ground of trees under whose branches is caught a glimpse of 
distant blue hills and a golden heaven beyond. Such is 
the mind of this simple old countryman. There is little in 
his garb or surroundings to recall the monkish cell, never- 
theless he is the original of the loved Friar John, strong, 
simple, and gentle, with the gentleness of the man who has 
attained to a knowledge of his ignorance who knows what 
he does not know. 



FLOWERS OF THE FOREST AND 
THE FIELD 

OH, if we only knew it, 
They're very like oorsels, 
The daisy o' the mountain, 
The primrose o' the dells, 
The ragged dandelion 
Auld beggarman o' flow'rs 
The violet and bluebell 
That love the shady bow'rs, 
And a' the host o' blossoms 
O' ev'ry shape and hue, 
That paint the dykes and hedges 
White, yellow, pink, or blue. 



134 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD 

They have their flights o' fancy, 
Their hopes and joys and fears, 
Hae faces that can gladden, 
And een that fill wi' tears. 
They differ frae us only 
In this, that when they see 
The dreeded danger comin' 
They canna rise an' flee. 
They think o' what has happen'd, 
They hope for what's to come, 
They talk to one anither 
The while we think them dumb. 
The wind that speaks in whispers 
They hear and understan', 
They speak to bird and insect, 
To everything but man. 
The blithe and soarin' lav'rock 
Hauds converse wi' the corn ; 
The harass'd, hunted lev'ret 
Gets warnin' frae the thorn. 
But word or thought has never 
Passed flow'r and man between, 
They gaze at us wi' wonder 
And show it in their een, 
That man, lord o' creation, 
Wi' a' his vaunted pow'rs, 
Has never learnt their language, 
The language o' the flow'rs. 



FLOWERS AND MEN 

I THOUGHT me o' the titled great, 
O' heroes in the people's eyes ; 

I thought me o' my low estate, 
And wanted sair frae it to rise. 



FLOWERS AND MEN 135 

It seem'd sae grand a lord to be, 

Wi' palace and wide-spreedin' lands ; 
Sae ill to be unknown like me, 

Wi' twa-three acres and my hands. 
But when I thought o' lilies fair 

And roses that sae proodly stand, 
And richly scent the simmer air, 

The titled folk o' flower-land ; 
Arid when I saw that walth o' bloom, 

The field and moorland's countless host, 
A light broke in upon my gloom, 

My screed o' discontent was lost. 
For one grand lily, rich and rare, 

That may in the king's garden grow, 
On lonely moor and hill-side bare 

A million nameless flow'rets blow ; 
And tho' they bloom unknown to men, 

Each has its ain fit place to fill, 
What 'tis we know not, this we ken, 

The Maister maketh naethin' ill. 
He will not ask the mountain broom 

For scent and colour o' the rose, 
Nor frae the dusty wayside bloom 

The spotless white the lily shows. 
And God, wha made the garden rose, 

Has needed just as muckle skill 
To mak' the meanest flower that blows 

Uncar'd for on the lonely hill. 

I'm o' the million what o' that ? 

The Maister maketh naethin' ill : 
Who made " My lord " made also Pat, 

And gave us baith a place to fill. 
And in that book the angel keeps, 

The count is no' by birth or lands, 



136 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD 

Nor by the size o' goolden heaps, 

But by our heed to God's commands. 
The poorest o' the sons o' men, 

Whas name's a hovel damp and drear, 
May haud a higher rank up ben 

Than some great man o' title here. 
The Maister has the richt to ask 

Ten pun' where He ten pun' has lent ; 
If He has lent me one, my task 

Is a the lighter I'm content. 

PRIMROSES 

IF ye would find a parfit maid 
Ye dinna speir aboot the street 
Whaur croods o' gigglin' hizzies meet ; 
That's whaur ye find the rantin' jade. 
And pale primroses o' the wood 
Are like the lassies that are guid, 
Unspotted by the stour o' life, 
They dinna love the roadside strife ; 
For best o' baith ye'll hae to look 
In some bit shady, shelter'd nook. 

Doon whaur the spreedin' hedges hang 

Their airms oot ow'r the grassy dyke, 
Whaur moss is thick and grass is lang, 

Ye find the hame primroses like. 
As tall and shapely maids they grow 

In families o' four or five. 
I wonder, do they think or no' ? 

Are they like Christians a' alive ? 
Has God not gi'en them sense and mind ? 

The sweet pale faces and big eyes 
Hae surely got a soul behind, 

They look sae innocent and wise. 



THE PINK PRIMROSE 137 



THE PINK PRIMROSE 

A SWEET wee primrose in the lane 
Was one day wi' the fancy ta'en 

To see the sea. 
She curiositie could feel 
And maybe ither things as weel, 

Like you and me. 

She cran'd her neck aboon the grass 
To catch a sight, but caught alas 

The North wind's ee 

Daft bodie, he. 
Tears, like a runaway, alang, 
Aye singin' bits o' some auld sang 

And playin' tricks. 
His airms went roon' her wi' a rush, 
And made the puir wee flow'ret blush, 

In sorry fix 

She found hersel' wi' sic alairms, 
A' touzled wi' his big rough airms, 

And as she fled 

In fear and dread, 
The sun just risin' ow'r the sea, 
Saw the wet tear drop in her ee, 

And Cupid's dart 

Went thro' his heart. 
He gently rais'd her droopin' head, 
And kissed her cheeks a deeper red ; 
If ye will seek doon by the mill, 
Ye'll find that primrose blushin' still. 



138 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD 

BLUEBELLS 

YOUR bonnie wee blossoms have won my heart's love, 

Dear sweet-scented blossoms o' blue, 
For blue is the colour o' heaven above, 

And blue is the colour that's true. 
As under June beeches and birches I lie 

And list to the hum o' the bees, 
It seems wi' you nigh that a bit o' blue sky 

Has tumbled doon under the trees. 

O pleasant and fair are the woods o' the glen, 

Sae bonnily carpeted blue, 
And sweet are the sounds that are heard in them when 

The bluebells are wet wi' the dew. 
They say it's the sough o' the ocean that swells 

Like music at eve on the breeze. 
But no, it's the sound o' the nodding bluebells, 

By fairies rung under the trees. 

There's many a flow'r that can perfume the air, 

Or brighten the woods wi' its hue, 
But never a one is more dainty and fair 

Than you my sweet blossom o' blue. 
And he who can hear the low sound o' your bells 

Will see what nae ither can see, 
He'll see the good fairies that live in the dells 

A' dancin', gay, under a tree. 



THE HOUSE LEEK 

A WHEEN o' wee cabbage sat down on my roof, 
A wheen o' wee cabbage sae hearty, 

And said, when to pu' them I stretch'd out my loof, 
" Ye cudn't now, Mr. M'Carty, 
Ye wudn't now, Mr. M'Carty." 



DANDELION 139 

" I don't want my roof to get bad and decay, 

So git out/' says I to the party ; 
But the mother leek cried,, as I shov'd them away, 

" Ye cudn't now, Mr. M'Carty, 

Ye wudn't now, Mr. M'Carty." 

She pu'd to the front a young slip o' a leek, 

The fattest wee brat o' the party. 
" Cud you bear to see tears on his innocent cheek ? 

Ye cudn't now, Mr. M'Carty, 

Ye wudn't now, Mr. M'Carty. 

" 'Tis us that King David exalts in his Psalms 

Aye fat, and sappy, and hearty ; 
Ye wudn't evict a puir wife and her lambs ? 

Ye cudn't now, Mr. M'Carty, 

Ye wudn't now, Mr. M'Carty. 

" King Solomon wrote o' the plants on the wall ; 

He, the joodishus ould party ; 
And you, who're as wise, wudn't hurt us at all : 

Ye wudn't now, Mr. M'Carty. 

Ye cudn't now, Mr. M'Carty." 

And so, wi' her blarney, she's settled the case ; 

And says, when I threaten her party ; 
" Ye needn't luk cross, for I know by your face, 

Ye cudn't now, Mr. M'Carty, 

Ye wudn't now, Mr. M'Carty." 



DANDELION 

YE' RE no' a beauty 'deed ye're not, 
But it's an honest face ye've got, 
And so ye'll hae a sang ; 



140 FLOWERS OF THE FIELD 

I like that braw, big, yellow heid, 
Altho' ye're but an ugly weed, 

Unless folk ca' ye wrang. 
But, weed or no, one thing I ken, 
There's muckle ye can teach us men, 

Or I am much mista'en. 
Ye dinna greet ow'r sair rebuffs, 
Ye tak' a thousan' kicks an' cuffs, 

And turn up fresh again. 
Ye like, nae doot, the best o' soil 
(Wha wadna spare unneeded toil ?) ; 

But when it can't be had, 
Ye mak' the best o' what ye hae, 
And grow in mud, or sand, or clay, 

There's naethin' ye count bad. 
And e'en to those wha wad ye kill, 
Ye bear nae malice nor ill-will 

It's milk that's in your veins. 
Revenge ye never tak' for wrang, 
Nae thistle-point or poison-stang 

That form o' yours contains. 
Ye keep maist reg'lar 'oors, they say, 
And dinna turn the night to day 

By workin^ aifter dark, 
But shut yer een when sun gaes doon, 
And get up when ye hear the soon* 

O' early risin' lark. 
O dear, auld, ugly, yellow bloom ! 
I'll never grudge your bit o' room, 

For life for you is rough, 
And when ye're auld yer heid is grey 
Just as my ain will be some day, 

If I leeve lang enough. 



X 

FOWLS OF THE AIR 

THE old poets of Antrim, in dealing with the acts and charac- 
ters of birds and the significance of their appearances, were 
troubled by no considerations of accuracy of expression. The 
rhyme had to be attended to first, and if the effort to get it 
right left the poetry somewhat befogged, they leaned con- 
fidently on the intelligence of their hearers and assumed the 
possession of common sense. Take this for example 

" The shabby cuckoo 
She lays only two 

And brings them up like a beggarman, 
But the wee chitty wran 
She lays twenty-wan 
And brings them up like a gentleman." 

Here it is not stated what the cuckoo and the wren lay, but 
"any one with any gumption" knows that they lay eggs. It 
is assumed, too, that most persons know that the objects 
" brought up " are not the eggs but the birds hatched from 
the eggs. But even average intelligence fails to grasp the 
composer's meaning when he deals with the upbringing of 
the birds. The statement, that the mother of the two young 
cuckoos brings them up like a beggarman, may mean that 
each is like half a beggarman, or it may mean that the 
mother is like a whole one. The like doubt exists as to 

whether each of the infant wrens is like the twenty-first part 

141 



142 FOWLS OF THE AIR 

of a gentleman, or whether the conduct of the parent is 
such that a gentleman need not be ashamed of. With this 
matter cleared up there are grounds for suspecting that 
the exigencies of rhyme have influenced the number of 
eggs laid, or stated to be laid, by the cuckoo and the wren ; 
and alas ! the old poet is dead, and we cannot now ask him 
to produce his natural history notes on which the rhyme 
is founded. Of magpies he sang 

" One is sorrow, 
Two is mirth, 
Three a wedding, 
Four a birth ; " 

and varied this at times by fixing the sex of the prognosti- 
cated infant thus 

' e One is sorrow, 

Two is joy, 

Three a wedding, 

Four a boy." 

The bird's name is left out of these ancient rhymes. Signs 
of modern thought are in a later form 

" To see a lone magpie's oncommonly bad, 
Wi' two in a tree-top ye' re lucky, bedad ; 
Three means there'll be marriage most sartinly soon, 
And four's a young angel frae heaven straight doon." 

Of meteorological observation connected with the fowls of 
the air there is but one current here in rhyme. 

f< When the swallow flys high 
It's goin' to be dry." 

No one in Antrim will kill a robin. 

"The robin and the wren, 
God Almighty's cock and hen," 

are safe from stone or gunshot. If the starlings come about 



TO THE LARK 143 

your house, be glad that the debit against you in the ledger 
of the Recording Angel is not heavy, for the starlings (in 
Antrim) come only near good people. The crows never steal 
potatoes or grain from the farmer on whose lands they reside. 
These are some of the people's beliefs about birds and their 
appearances. Pat's fancies are given below. He associates 
moods and feelings with the songs and cries of birds. To 
hear the yellowhammer (locally " -yoyt ") is to feel lonely. Its 
music is, of all, the most plaintive and melancholy. There is 
winter in a robin's song. The thrush's notes produce the 
idea of rest, the blackbird's of motion. The cawing of 
rooks brings pictures of old times, the sparrow's chirp means 
sunshine. But the song of action and gladness, the inspiriting 
song, is the one that comes from the sky, the song of the 
lark, best beloved of all the birds. It is impossible to feel 
depressed while the ear takes in his glorious song. 



TO THE LARK 

LITTLE ball o' song and feather 

Risin' frae the tufted heather, 

Sweetly singin', risin 5 still, 

Till the house, and tree, and hill, 

Mountain dark, and cloud o' thunder 

Lie below ye. What, I wonder, 

Is the charm that up there dwells. 

Is't the sound o' silver bells 

That in Heaven's streets are ringin' 

Tak's ye upward, glad and singin' ? 

Little speck against the sky, 

Up there in the blue so high, 

Far aboon earth's woe and sighin', 

Can ye see the angels flyin' ? 



144 FOWLS OF THE AIR 

Do the bright wee cherub things 
Only heads and pairs o' wings, 
Baby angels, lost to mortals, 
Playin' now at Heaven's portals 
Do they let ye join their play ? 
Tell me what they do and say. 
Is your song, sae free frae sadness, 
Just a bit o' Heaven's gladness, 
Caught when gate was open'd wide 
That the lark might peep inside ? 
Did your cherub playmates kiss ye ? 
Did they say, " Wee bird, we'll miss ye, 
Come again anither day ; 
Come and sing wi' us and play ? " 
Is't the cheerin' glimpse o' Heaven 
Angel friends to ye hae given 
Mak's ye rise, and risin' sing, 
Bonnie bird wi' flutt'rin' wing? 

Bonnie birdie, brown o' feather, 
Often do I wonder whether 
God, who made ye rise and sing, 
Gave that power o' throat and wing, 
That the dullest souls amang us 
Might, o'er all the woes that thrang us, 
Learn from ye to rise and wait 
In the sunshine at His gate. 
Leave the scorn o' folks above us, 
Faults and slights o' them that love us, 
All the little bitin' ills, 
Loss that worries, care that kills, 
Dread o' what will be to-morrow, 
Hill o' danger, cloud o' sorrow, 
Far below us, while we soar, 
Drinkin' freely more and more 



THE MAVIS AND THE THORN 145 

O' the sunny air o' Heaven, 
Not one day but a' the seven. 
I will think sae. I'll tak' wing, 
In the spirit rise and sing ; 
Kneelin' on the tufted heather, 
Praise my God for bonnie weather, 
For my wee bit mountain farm, 
Health o' mind and strength o' arm, 
Wife I love, and frien', and neighbour, 
For the sweet red earth I labour,* 
For the bird wi' flutt'rin' wings, 
And the happy sang he sings. 



THE MAVIS AND THE THORN 

ON the sun-kist breezy hillside risin' upward from the bay, 
There's a thorn-bush in a garden by the cot where I was born, 

Like the snow or angel-feathers white at blossom-time in May, 
And a merry bird the mavis is that's singin' in the thorn. 

the simmer days from ither lands will bonnie birdies bring, 
And a gayer coat than mavis wears may some o' them 

adorn, 
But the voice is mair than painted breest or dainty feather'd 

wing, 

And a sweeter sang than mavis sings was never sung in 
thorn. 

1 can hear his words o' welcome to the comin' lord o' light, 

When he sends across the heavin' sea his messengers o' 

morn, 

And when far awa' ow'r western hills his glory fades in night, 
His last farewell is fluted by the mavis in the thorn. 

* Used in the north of Ireland in the sense of "to till." 

K 



146 FOWLS OF THE AIR 

The wind that loves the mavis' notes aft carries them up- 
hill, 
He chants them ow'r again for me amang the springin' 

corn, 

And wi' thankfu' heart I listen, then to wark wi' better will, 
For the joy that comes o' hearin' from the mavis in the 
thorn. 

It was God who made the farmer wi' the honest workin' 

hand ; 
It was God who made the fields wherein he grows the 

wavin' corn ;' 
And to cheer him in his labour hard He gave him wi' the 

land 
The merry, speckled mavis and the sweetly-scented thorn. 



JENNY WREN 

Wi' her wee bit tail sae cockit, and the sparkle in her ee, 
She hauds my hairt wi' a' the birds, does Mistress Jenny 

Wren; 
She pretends to hide amang the leaves, but aye she keeks 

at me, 
She acts just as the lassies dae, she likes to see the men. 

She is in the hedge and oot the hedge as brisk as any bee, 
And shows hersel' and hides hersel' a way the lassies 

ken, 
For it means baith " Keep yer distance," and it means 

" Come, follow me." 

She kens the airts that lassies hae that seek the hairts 
o* men. 



THE CROW 147 

For to shoot the tiny feather-ba' nae man wad ever try ; 

She has nae need to fash hersel' wi' terror o' the gun, 
For fu' forty dizzen o' her wadna mak' a dacent pie 

In weakness there is safety as a lass has aften fun'.* 

She is sma' and she is shapely, and her dress is O sae neat, 
Sae fittin' and sae modest, for the colour aye is broon, 

And below her dainty feathers she will show her dainty feet, 
In just the way the lassies dae when walkin' thro' the toon. 

O' her voice there is no muckle, for her throat is nae gret 

size, 
It's sweet and saft and cheery, aye a short and pleasant 

sang, 
Ane that never tires the hearer, and the kind a man wad 

prize 
In lass he'd mak' a wife o' and maun listen to for lang. 

Jenny, bonnie birdie, sweet sweetheart Jenny Wren, 
That mak's me think o' lassies and their sweet tormentin' 

ways, 

1 love ye for the likeness that ye hae to ane I ken, 

Ye'll tell her when ye meet her that I'll love her a' my 
days. 

THE CROW 

IF men hae got their coonterpairts 

Amang the birds, the craw 
Wi' a' his cuteness and his airts 

Is sure the man o' law. 
He's got the impudence and cheek 

That skill in thievin' brings, 
He wears a black coat a' the week 
He's got a lang attorney beak 

For pokin' into things. 

* Found. 



14-8 FOWLS OF THE AIR 

He tak's some interest in lands, 

And talks a kind o' jaw 
That nae man leevin' understands, 

Juist like the man o' law. 
He looks by or'nar stern and grim, 

He's sartain verra wise, 
If ye wad get the best o' him, 

Ye'll early hae to rise. 
He'll onconsidher'd trifles nab, 

He knows what's twa and twa, 
He loves the gentle game o' grab, 

Juist like the man o' law. 
He cocks his heid wi' knowin' look, 

And scans ye wi' his eye, 
As if to read ye like a book, 

My faith, the bird is sly. 
He gi'es ye help mayhap some days, 

And kills a slug or twa ; 
But costs ye dear in ither ways, 

Juist like the man o' law. 



ROBIN IN THE ROWAN 

ROBIN in the rowan-tree, singin' aye sae gaily, 
Winkin' saucily at me as I pass ye daily ; 
Robin o' the merry ways heid and tail a-bobbin', 
Robin wi' the quaker claes, I will sing ye, Robin. 

Summer birds tak' wing and flee when the year's declinin', 
Dainty birds that want to see suns for ever shinin' ; 
Robin's wi' us a' the time, like the trusty gowan, 
He will seek nae ither clime he'll keep near the rowan. 



ROBIN IN THE ROWAN 149 

Robin on the rowan bough, singin' aye sae cheerie, 
Nae fair weather frien' art thou, fleein* when it's drearie ; 
Tho' the frost and snow be here, tho' the wind be sobbin', 
Summer, winter, a' the year, we hae still the robin. 

Lucky bird and lucky tree, robin and the rowan, 
Baith o' ye I like to see when I'm busy ploughin' ; 
Bird that loves the gaze o' man, bairnies' pet and dearie, 
Tree that spoils the witches' ban, sends them tapsalteerie. 

Robin in the rowan-tree, sure I love ye dearly, 
Weel I ken that ye love me, I can see it clearly 
See your heart wi' love is stirr'd, awmost see it throbbin' 
In your breest, my bonnie bird, red-waistcoated robin. 



XI 

CREEPY-CBAWLY THINGS 

IN the museums and colleges of Dublin and Belfast these 
are they of the order of Hymenoptera or of Coleoptera, or 
Orthoptera or Lepidoptera, or of any or all other ptera there 
may be, and in orderly lines with pins through their in- 
sides, on fair paper and in glazed cases they display for 
the benefit of student mankind their endless varieties of 
eye, leg, wing, proboscis, or other organ. As with the great 
of human dead there are inscriptions over against them in 
Latin or Greek, and these inscriptions are like those over 
the very greatest of the human dead just the names and 
nothing more. 

But in the glens they have no such honourable names. 
For the countryman the small fry of creation fall into two 
great classes, the "insecks " and the "creepy-crawly things." 
Classification is easy; whatsoever has visible means of 
support (in the air) is an "inseck," the others are the creepy- 
crawly things. It matters not that an object may have 
wings neatly tucked away under elytra the means are not 
visible therefore it is creepy-crawly. A few of the 
members of both classes have names ; there are the wops, 
the bee, the butterflee, the slater and the ant, the daddy- 
long-legs, ear-i-wig and flee, the spider and the worm. 
Flees be it noted are flies, pulex irritans in the vernacular 
rhymes with day, and it and one or two organisms which 
mankind could possibly have done without are like the 



152 CREEPY-CRAWLY THINGS 

Queen of Spain's legs, subjects of a convention which 
politely assumes their non-existence. If, as is necessary 
at times even in the genteelest of families, you must make 
a reference not unconnected with blankets and entomology, 
the euphemistic word to be employed is "something." 
The nature of the reference will be understood by the 
context. 



TO A WORM 

I'M feart ye're near relatit to to him they ca' the , 

The him ye ken, that lives below, where naethin' can 

congeal ; 

A sartin reticence obsarv'd will no' be cause for blame, 
He has a way o' crappin' up at mention o' his name. 



Your walk is just egsackly like the walkin' o' the 

(We're no' to mention names I think, it will be just as weel) ; 
Ye rowl upon your stamach low amang the dust I see, 
Ye'll recolleck what happen'd aifter Eve had touch'd the tree. 



I'm feart ye maun hae dealin's wi' hae dealin's wi' the , 

For 'gin the spade cuts ye in twa ye dinna even squeal. 
It disna seem to bother ye it's just a way to breed, 
The heid pairt grows anither tail, the tail anither heid. 

I'm feart that pints to dealin's wi' to dealin's wi' the 

(The black-complexion'd ane, ye ken that's shapit like an 

eel), 

For, cut a man or baste in two, they're deid as is daur nail, 
But you ye maun hae dealin's wi' the person wi' a tail. 



DADDY-LONG-LEGS 153 

I'm feartye share your lodgin's wi' wi' him they ca' the 
I'll say nae mair ye ken the place, the word is no' genteel ; 
The hettest day o' simmer-time ye're cauld as winter sea, 
And if ye didn't live beyant, how could that ever be ? 

Ye sink into the grun' just like like him they ca' the , 

The solid arth's nae mair to ye than water to an eel, 

The person we've been thinkin' o' he disappears that way. 

I'm feart ye're near relatit to your uncle, let us say. 



DADDY - LONG - LEGS 

FAITH, Nature was benevolent 

The day she gave you legs, 
Six o' them, and sic trollopin', 

Disj'inted kind o' pegs. 
They say she never makes mistaks, 

Is never ill-advis'd, 
But raly when I see your legs 

I feel a bit surpris'd. 
They are sae lang and crook'd and thin, 

Sae numerous and quare ; 
I never saw the like o' them 

On inseck anywhere. 
They were, mayhap, ould stock laid by, 

A prentice bit o' wark ; 
A dizzen misfits Nature made 

One evenin' in the dark. 
And when she built your primal pair, 

And tell't them to increase, 
She thocht o' this auld dizzen legs 

And gave them six apiece. 



154 CREEPY-CRAWLY THINGS 

But O if she had had the thocht, 

If she had had the wit, 
To tak' the scissors in her hand 

And clip them short a bit, 
You micht ha' been a bummin' clock, 

Responsible, refin'd, 
Wi' otium cum thingumbob, 

You micht weel never mind. 
You have the sense o' your defecks, 

And wi' a proper shame 
You try to moderate your legs 

In lamp or candle flame. 
It's dootless wi' the thocht I'd find 

Them nourishin' as eggs, 
I find, whiles, in my parritch bowl 

A couple o' your legs. 
Thankin' you kindly a' the same 

I here wad stipulate, 
Suparflus legs shall be dispoged 

Beside, not on, my plate. 



ODE TO A SLATER* 

HAIL to thee, O Slater 

(Hail, that is, backwards, 

I've no desire to bless ye, not the laste, 

Troth, and it's quite the other way about), 

Onseemly cratur. 

Go hide your heid 
(If ye had any dacency 
Ye wad tak' a bit walk 
In the daylight, 

* The wood-louse (Oniscus murwrius) is, by the country people in 
Ulster, called slater. 



ODE TO A SLATER 155 

Stretchin' your legs straight-forrard like, 

Like a wops or an earwig, 

Or any other inseck, 

Well-manm' if bothersome at times ; 

Instead o' that 

Ye lie in wait in the dark, 

Seekin' what ye may devour, 

Under flat bits o' sticks 

Or stanes, 

The very kind people wad be likely to lift, 

And drap again in a hurry 

When they see 

Your ugly carcase ; 

Ugh gru u !) 

Vile centipede. 

Ye lout 

(Ye onprincipled bein', 

What do ye mane 

By rowlin' over on your back that way 

When you're disturb'd, 

Wigglin' about twa thoosan' legs at people 

To frighten them, 

Without bowels o' marcy !) 

Git out. 

Ye scalliwag 

(There was a leddy that saw ye, 

And ses she, 

" He's inclin'd to ombinpint," ses she. 

Ombinpint, indeed ! 

Cock ye up wi' ombinpint ; 

It's fat, 

Pure fat, 

And pure's not the word for it), 

Ye greasy bag. 



156 CREEPY-CRAWLY THINGS 

Ye bag o' guile, 

Half pig, half crocodile 

(If this wasn't an ode 

I'd tell ye what I think o' ye), 

Ye thing all vile. 



XII 

THE POWERS OF DARKNESS* 



THE devil is not dead in Antrim. He lives in the language 
of the people, for no day passes without frequent mention of 
his name. The herd, narrating how one of the cows in- 
dulged in a strange cantrip, says, " she wint aff like the divil." 
Anything very noisy makes "a row like the divil." A child 
sent on an urgent message is told to "run like the divil." 
To do anything "like the divil" is to do it with extraordi- 
nary celerity and power. 

He materialises, generally in the form of a large black 
dog, but locally, and not so often of late years as formerly, 
from which the reader can draw such inference as may seem 
warranted. Pat well remembers sitting awestruck with his 
cousins round the fire on the hearth while a staid and sober 
man, an elder of the kirk, told how he had met the arch- 
enemy in dog shape on a dark and lonely road, and how, 
when he stooped to lift a stone, the uncanny one "just 
seemed to sink into the ground." Years afterwards when 
Pat, going by night to his father's house, had to pass by 
a narrow path through a wood, he feared to look to left 
or right among the trees lest he should see a dog which 
was not a dog, and to keep himself company and drown 
the whispers of too active imagination he sang at the top of 

* I am indebted to the Kev. S. Arthur Brenan, rector of Cushendun, 
for access to his notes on the folk-lore of the glen country. J. S. 

157 



158 THE POWERS OF DARKNESS 

his voice snatches of old songs, one of the best remembered 
being 

" O Nellie Gray 
They have taken you away, 
And I'll never see my darling any more." 

An inhabitant of Brablagh saw the evil one in the usual 
form, and with eyes which he said were like living coals. 
The dog was standing in a little wood near the road, and the 
man not caring, he says, " whether it was the divil or not," 
drew out a large clasp-knife and gave chase. He followed 
the animal for several hundred yards, when it suddenly 
vanished. There are many such stories, and it must be con- 
fessed, they leave something to desire, exhibiting the devil 
as a curious mixture of strength and weakness. Why did he 
who annihilates space, who can assume a body and dissolve 
it at will, run for even a hundred yards before a man with a 
clasp-knife ? One wonders if al kohl the " eye brightener " 
had not something to do subjectively with the fiery orbs of 
the pursuer's vision. Other appearances in the glens have 
been in form of a man, a curly-haired bull, a bear, and a 
snake-like object with a man's head. 

Stories of the fairies are without end, and they are not 
all old stories. In a county which includes manufacturing 
Belfast and fashionable Portrush, it is to be expected that the 
little people will be unequally distributed. Any one expect- 
ing to see them in the neighbourhood of spinning-mills or 
shipbuilding yards will be doomed to disappointment. But 
in the quiet country of the east and north-east, on the edges 
of bog and moorland, on the mountains and in the glens, the 
lonely places where clay-stained proverbs still enshrine a 
wisdom harvested in fields and underneath the stars, the 
fairies are as numerous as ever. They dance round fires on 
the hillsides, vanishing if surprised and approached, and the 
grass is not blackened where the fire burned. They are 
given to laughter ; many a time does the noise of their 



THE POWERS OF DARKNESS 159 

merriment ring in the air, while the merrymakers remain 
invisible. Fairies of one district may fight with those of 
another ; the clash of arms has sounded all through a night, 
while the air has been laden with the cries of the wounded, 
and the stones of the roadside and field have been found in 
the morning red with blood. They weave at night on 
cottage looms, and use the smiths' forges. They are the 
" good people," but if you have offended them by cutting a 
thorn or building a house on their ground, or even by throw- 
ing water over them, they will have their revenge. Gifted 
with powers greater than any possessed by man, they are 
nevertheless indebted to him at times. They ask for meal 
and butter ; they need the services of the human midwife. 
One who was carried away to help a fairy in emergency did 
not know the character of her employers until, in washing 
the infant, she touched by accident one of her eyes with the 
water. Immediately she received fairy sight, and saw things 
before invisible. She was well treated, and conveyed back to 
her dwelling. Some time after, near Cushendall, she saw one 
of the fairy men, a servant who had come for her, and she asked 
for news of his mistress. " How is it that you see me ?" he 
asked. She replied that in washing the infant she had touched 
her right eye with the water. The fairy struck at that eye 
with a riding-whip he had in his hand, and blinded it for ever. 
Sometimes the little people amuse themselves, and puzzle 
the " humans " by acts which can best be described as " larks." 
Within the last two years I visited, in company of the Rector 
of the parish, those " curosest o' rocks," the conglomerates 
of Cushendun. Returning from the caves, a smart shower 
drove us for shelter into a little cottage in which were a very 
old couple, a man and a woman, who made us welcome. My 
friend, who never misses opportunity to increase his know- 
ledge of folk-lore, asked the old couple if fairies had been 
seen in the neighbourhood lately. The pair seemed unwilling 
to say anything on the subject, until by a word or two their 



160 THE POWERS OF DARKNESS 

interrogator showed that he was not an unbeliever. Then 
the old man told how he had seen a number of children 
dancing round a burning whin-bush on the hill in front. He 
went to chase them away and to chide them for setting fire 
to the whins, when to his surprise they vanished, and the 
bush he had seen burning was unconsumed. On leaving 
the cottage I expressed surprise that my companion should 
believe in such appearances ; his rejoinder was that I should 
question his housekeeper about fairy doings in his own house. 
Later in the day I saw the housekeeper, a sober, steady 
woman, much above the average in intelligence, and, to all 
appearance, perfectly truthful. She told how, one day, in her 
presence, the unseen hands of the fairies had lifted out of its 
socket the crane supporting a large pot of water over the 
kitchen fire. I went to see the fireplace, which was of the 
old country sort, with a swinging crane and hooks. To the 
suggestions that possibly the pot had been, at first, im- 
properly swung on the edge of a hook and had righted itself, 
or that it had partially rested at first on unburned peat, and 
slipped when its support had been burned away, the sudden- 
ness of the jerk creating the illusion of lifting, the woman 
replied that she was sure that neither case could account for 
what she saw. " But," said she, " supposing it did, how would 
you explain this away ? I had a bucket sitting on the floor 
there, and in my sight, not three yards off, and with no hand 
or person near, the handle rose from the side against which it 
was lying and turned over to the other." 

The stories of witches are very like those common over 
the whole of Ireland. A hare or a cat is seen, is suspected 
of being a witch, is shot with a silver piece, and the witch 
in human form is afterwards found to be wounded in a part 
of the body corresponding to that in which cat or hare 
suffered. One glen story represents the man going straight 
to a suspected witch's cottage after wounding a suspicious 
hare. He found the woman at home binding up a bleeding 



THE POWERS OF DARKNESS l6l 

leg, and she made no attempt to conceal identity, for she 
said, " I'll pay you up for this." In another case a man was 
attacked by a vicious filly ; he took out a clasp-knife, and 
drove the beast away, wounding it over the eye, and imme- 
diately afterwards the witch of the neighbourhood was found 
to have a deep cut in the same place. 

Stories of the banshee are numerous enough, but I have 
not yet found any one who has actually seen the sad white 
woman, or heard her mournful warning. The belief is that 
the person hearing the banshee cry will die within a year. 
A boy of fifteen, a fisherman's son, went one evening for the 
cattle to a distant field. His elder brother concealed him- 
self at a lonely place, and cried in slow wailing tones as the 
boy passed, "Och onee, puir banshee." In extreme terror 
the younger lad fled homewards, and flinging himself into his 
mother's arms wept out, " O mither ! she cried it, she cried it." 

The old stone-flagged floor, " the clean well-sweepit flure," 
of Pat's wide kitchen sees many a circle of filled chairs round 
the hearth-built peat fire in the long winter evenings, and 
hears many a discussion of men and things and theories. 
Not infrequently the subject of this chapter has been " before 
the house." On one of these Nodes Macartiance, the doctor 
being present, Mrs. M'Carty sneezed, and the act, as is usual 
in the district, was followed by an ejaculated "God bless 
you" from some one present. This gave occasion to the 
doctor to recall the fact that on the westward march of 
influenza a few years earlier, and while it was yet not nearer 
than Odessa, the newspapers jestingly spoke of it as an 
epidemic of sneezing. He told a story he had from a mad- 
cap cousin, also a doctor, in New Orleans. It was while the 
onward movement of the plague was attracting attention, but 
before it had reached America, that this cousin was one day 
prescribing for a negress who carried a fine baby girl. The 
doctor praised the child and asked its name. No name had 
been given as yet. Could the doctor say one that would be 

L 



162 THE POWERS OF DARKNESS 

"berry genteel " ? The doctor thought he could, and asked 
the mother what she thought of " Influenza." The negress 
was delighted ; Influenza Brown had such a distinguished 
sound, and the doctor assured her it was the latest from 
Europe. She retired beaming, but her pastor or some friend 
saved the child from the infliction. Then, remembering what 
had turned his thoughts to influenza, the glen doctor asked 
Mrs. M'Carty why a blessing was prayed for a person who 
sneezed. Mrs. M'Carty thought it was because of a wide- 
spread belief that the powers of darkness had greater liberty 
of action at the moment of a sneeze. She mentioned a story 
current in the glen country, which tells how the wife of a 
farmer of Cushleake awoke one night sneezing and found 
herself being drawn from her bed by fairies. She caught 
her husband's wrist and managed to hold on, hearing 
one of the fairies say, " If she sneezes again without saying 
'God bless me' she is ours." Some one had heard that 
St. Gregory enjoined the use of the benediction after a 
great pestilence in which sneezing was a mortal symptom. 
Then the doctor, who had been in India, remembered that 
in one of the sacred books of the Parsees it is enjoined that 
people should pray for one who sneezes, because sneezing is 
a proof that the great Spirit of Evil is abroad. Pat's con- 
ception of the cause of sneezing, as set forth in the rhyme 
of the " Devil's Mare," * came to him one day on the flat top 
of Lurigethan. He thought " What a fine place this would 
be for a jump to Scotland," then he invented a supernatural 
beast to make the jump, and called his wife's attention to 
the marks of the mare's heels. She, however, maintained 
that the holes were made by the heels of Delargy's ponies. 

The story of Johnnie Campbell's Hallowe'en night with 
the fairies, now done into rhyme for the first time, is one 
well known in Glenariffe. It is recorded that one Andy 
Ryan had a nearly similar unpleasant experience. 

* J^ot included in this collection, 



JOHNNIE CAMPBELL'S ADVENTURE 163 

JOHNNIE CAMPBELL'S ADVENTURE 

HALLOWE'EN was wet the year, 
Wet and windy, dark and drear ; 
Johnnie was a tailor bowld, 
Trampin' homeward in the cowld, 
Wet and weary trampin' hame 
(Campbell was his ither name) 
And his handkerchief o' blue 
Was wi' aipples packit fu', 
Rosy-cheek'd and yellow-green 
Aipples for his Hallowe'en. 

Whistlin' hard to keep up hairt 
At the road's maist lonely pairt, 
On this windy night and wet, 
Sic a crew o' men he met ; 
Sma'er than o' human race, 
Men o' sallow, wizen'd face, 
Pechin', gruntin' ohs and ahs, 
Bearin' some unholy pack 
Like a coffin, lang and black, 
And a coffin sure it was. 

Johnnie stapp'd in terror sair, 

Upright on his heid the hair 

Rose at sic an awfu' sight 

On that wet and gusty night. 

Then he heard the crew discuss 

What their burthen black might weigh, 

Heard the leader o' them say, 

" Wha's to bear the corpse for us ? " 

Heard, O misery ! the cry, 

Louder than the wind sae high, 

" Wha but Johnnie Campbell's ft ? 

Johnnie' s just the lad for it" 



164 THE POWERS OF DARKNESS 

On the tailor's bended back 
Straight they strapp'd the coffin black, 
Johnnie totter'd, Johnnie stapp'd, 
Then his face and hands they slapp'd ; 
Prick' d his airms wi' needle pins, 
Kick'd his bendy tailor shins, 
Gi'ed him what was what wi' whins. 
On he scrambled wi' his load 
Up the wet and muddy road, 
Bendin', swayin', wild wi' fright, 
In the wind that roarin' night ; 
Cursit, too, wi' fairy's sight 
A' aroon' him he could see 
Witches, broomstick-mounted, flee, 
Sperrits, colourless and rare, 
Wobbled in the gusty air ; 
Imps were roostin' on the trees, 
Demons hopp'd aboot like fleas, 
Once he saw the wheesht HI MS EL' 
Pass wi' gust o' sulph'rous smell ; 
Sae in terror and in pain, 
Through the darkness and the rain, 
Wrastlin' wi' the stormy blast, 
Kill-na-derg was reach'd at last. 

On the soakin' clay and weed 
Johnnie drappit nearly deid, 
While the fairies frae his back 
Cut the coffin lang and black ; 
Then in ring they squatted doon, 
He in middle, they arooii', 
Squatted and commenc'd to talk, 
Drawin' plans o' graves wi' chalk 
On the tombstanes at their backs, 
Till an imp thocht fit to ax 



JOHNNIE CAMPBELL'S ADVENTURE 165 

Och, the ugly weezen'd knave ! 
" Wha's to dig the corpse's grave ? " 
Then anither wretch replied 
Frae his perch, a tomb astride, 
" Who. but Johnnie Campbell's Jit ? 
Johnnie s just the lad for it." 

Spade they gave him, shovel too, 
Tell't him what he had to do, 
Order'd grave baith deep and wide, 
Stood in rows the pit beside, 
Threepin' wi' their voices shrill, 
" Deeper, dig it deeper still." 
Wet thro' every dud he wore, 
Never tailor, sure, before 
Found himsel' in sic a plight 
On a wild and windy night ; 
Hounded, hurried, hustled, chid, 
In the grave he slipp'd and slid, 
Slither' d in the miry clay, 
Fear'd to stop or disobey. 
If he made a sign to quit, 
Or but slacken'd hand a bit, 
Doon on him they swoop'd like craws, 
Tore his face with teeth and claws, 
Whack'd him on the heid wi' whins, 
Stuck him in the back wi' pins, 
Cry in' still wi' angry threat, 
"Deeper, dig it deeper yet." 
Water swirl'd aboon his hose, 
Water dreepit frae his nose, 
Water soak'd him to the sark, 
Still he brawly kept at wark ; 
Dug wi' achin' hand and shin, 
Dug wi' pain and cut and wound, 
Dug and shovell'd till the ground 
Stood a-level wi' his chin. 



166 THE POWERS OF DARKNESS 

Then wi' taunt and jeer and hoot 

He was cried in accents gruff, 

" Oot, ye beggar ! that's enough ! " 

Johnnie, faintin', scrambled oot. 

Then a corpse-like ugly knave 

Straight his parable uptook, 

Axin' wi' malicious look, 

" Wha's to fill this bonnie grave ? " 

And aboon the wind and rain 

Cam' the dreadfu' answer plain, 

For the third time came again, 

" Wha but Johnnie Campbell' s Jit ? 

Johnnie' s just the lad for it." 



Slaves the tyrant's yoke may spurn, 
E'en the trodden worm will turn ; 
Johnnie, face to face wi' death, 
Found his sperrit and his breath ; 
Wi' the courage o' despair 
Loodly cried he then and there, 
' ' Niver, deevils, as your butt 
Will I move again a fut ; 
Niver will I lay my heid 
In that grave before I'm deid. 
Imps o' Satan, sperrits curst, 
I defy ye ! Do your worst ! " 
As he spak' the worried loon 
Fumbled in his pocket roon', 
Fumbled, aimless, up and doon, 
Till he touch'd a thing he had, 
Somethin' sma' that made him glad. 
'Twas a lucky silver bit, 
Crooked, thin, for trade unfit, 
Saxpence wi' a hole in it, 



DE'IL'S TRICKS 167 

Saxpence he had counted loss, 
Oot he whupp'd it made a cross. 
Lo ! behold ye ! at the sign 
Panic seized on Satan's kine, 
A' the onbaptisit crew 
Fled, skedaddled, vanish'd, flew. 
Johnnie was alone again 
On the road by Bally crane, 
Battlin' wi' the wind and rain, 
Thinkin' o' his wife and wean, 
Wi' his handkerchief o' blue 
Pack'd wi' aipples, tight and fu', 
Aipples rosy red and green, 
Aipples for his Hallowe'en. 



DEAL'S TRICKS 

IF on some lonely moor by night 

Ye're dand'rin' by the moonbeam's light, 

Miles far awa' frae haunts o' men, 

The hour a lang way after ten, 

A dark man by your side ye fin', 

And on the heather taps behin' 

Ye hear the whuskin' o' a tail 

(Your heart fast thumpin' like a flail), 

I dinna need to you to tell, 

Ye're wi' the muckle de'il himsel'. 

If while ye're cairtin' hame the peat, 
The horse is lifted aff his feet, 
The cairt is coup'd, and a' the load 
Gaes hoppin', jiggin', doon the road, 
A turf across your lug comes whack, 
Anither tak's ye on the back, 



168 THE POWERS OF DARKNESS 

Anither bangs ye on the croon, 

Or what ye sit on, lower doon, 

Ye'll ken by tricks like these and squeals 

Ye're in the hands o' sarvin' de'ils. 

If, seein' no one anywhere, 
Ye hear lood laughter in the air ; 
The chairs jump up, the tables turn, 
The yellow butter leaves the churn, 
Big, bleezin' fires are on the hill, 
Your money changes in the till, 
And meal and praties disappear 
Withoot a mortial human near, 
My worthy frien', you bet your sark 
The mischief is the fairies' wark. 

If at the time the sun gaes doon 
Ye hear a weary, mournfu' soon', 
Now sabbin' low, now swellin' high, 
A lang, wild, wailin' deathly cry 
That dies awa' wi' Och onee, 
God save ye, frien', it's the banshee. 
Frae de'il, the muckle one, himsel', 
Frae a' the sarvint imps as well, 
Frae fairy sma' and lone banshee, 
May you and I presarvit be. 



XIII 

THE ABBEY TALES 

IT is rare to find the farmer an archaeologist. Commonly, 
indeed, his attitude to the science of old things is one of 
antipathy. If you inquire why it should be so, one reason 
will be found in his division of antiquities into two classes 
those which have to do with fairies or spirits, evil or good, 
and those which have no such association. To the former 
belong the " moats " or forts common in the country, and, 
generally, any earthwork of unknown age or use. Any or 
every misfortune coming to a man or his family after his act 
of meddling with a tabooed object is set down to the influ- 
ence of offended spirits or fairies, and as misfortune in some 
form, at some time, comes to all men, it is never difficult to 
find the punishment which follows the offence of interference 
with the property of the unseen powers. On the farm of 
one of Pat's relatives is a large artificial mound known as " The 
Moat." The slope on one side is long and gentle in the 
opinion of a former owner of the ground it was fit for cultiva- 
tion. One spring when preparing for crop the field in which 
the mound stands, he took the ploughshare as far up the 
slope as the horses could accomplish, and it was noted that 
within two years the man became insane. It is useless to 
say to a person who sees retribution in such a disaster, that 
the man's brain would have given way even if he had left 
the fairies' ground untouched. He may profess to agree with 

you, while yet he is resolved that he will neither take the 

169 



170 THE ABBEY TALES 

risk of offending the fairies himself, nor allow others to do 
anything on his land that might involve him in unpleasant 
consequences. The natural objection to fences damaged 
and crops trodden by visitors is, of course, also an element 
in the farmer's dislike to archaeology. 

He likes groping in old churches and among tombstones 
of kirkyards just as little as digging in the ground of fairies. 
The people who lie below the stones may not like it ; ghosts 
can have grievances, and their manner of airing them is as 
unpleasant as the hour of their interviews is inconvenient. 
On the principle that it is wise to use a long spoon when you 
are supping with the deil, the farmer holds that archaeology 
and its devotees are best kept at a distance. 

Where the old-time relic may be handled without fear of 
ghostly visitation or fairy displeasure, his attitude is generally 
one of complete indifference. The peat-bog may give up a 
bronze pot, a dagger, or the stitched leather coat of a very 
early inhabitant. He will go so far as to say about one of 
these that it is "cur'ous," or "a lad o' a thing," but he 
would not think it worth keeping. He has one period for 
antiquities the ould times a period comprehensive enough 
to embrace every work of man from Adam's days down to 
those of his own grandfather, and it makes little difference 
in his appreciation of an object that it belongs to the end, 
the middle, or the beginning of this period. Remains of old 
castles are plentiful in the country. Ask about one of them 
from a farmer who has lived in sight of it all his life, and the 
chances are that he can tell nothing about its builder or 
history. He knows it was " a great place in the ould times," 
that is all. 

Pat differs from his fellows in nothing more than this. 
He cannot remember the time when old things had not for 
him an overpowering attraction. A ragged volume, with 
drawings of Assyrian and Egyptian monuments, fell into his 
hands at a very early age and was eagerly read. Soon he 



THE ABBEY TALES 171 

began to search the country churchyards for old or curious 
inscriptions, thinking in those early days, with a boy's 
estimation of the length of years, of anything dated 17 
as of remote antiquity. When a grown lad, he read himself 
up on the plantation of Ulster, and found the tombstones of 
some of the adventurers with dates early in the seventeenth 
century. He made copies of the inscriptions on these, and 
sent them, with connecting remarks and some information 
as to the state and position of the monuments, to a newspaper 
of the district, and, rather to the young explorer's astonish- 
ment, the copy was accepted and printed. A remark made 
by a servant in his father's house the Ann Bradley to 
whom he has addressed a sonnet when she heard that Pat 
had been writing of tombstones two hundred and fifty years 
old, illustrates the haziness of the country mind where periods 
of time are in question. " Ye mean awa' in Jerusalem and 
them places," said Ann. Jerusalem she knew as far, far 
away from her in time and space, and anything of such 
tremendous antiquity as two hundred and fifty years she 
thought must belong to it. 

From Plantation times Pat carried his researches back 
through the long period of Irish monasticism, and this is 
the period which has for him still the greatest attraction, 
although he left it for a while to wander in the dim ages of 
prehistoric man. An abbey wall will take him far and hold 
him long. For him to see it is to see the house of which it 
formed a part in all the glory of its prime. He knows 
enough of the system to be sure that the walls of a monastery 
did not, of necessity, encompass holiness indeed, the abbey 
tales may be taken as representing his ideas of the good and 
bad of monkish life and yet he cannot help feeling sad that 
the world has travelled too far for holy houses. Once, by 
permission of the lord of the soil, he cut long and deep 
trenches in the grounds of an abbey often mentioned in the 
"Annals of the Four Masters" as the burial-place of many 



172 THE ABBEY TALES 

distinguished ecclesiastics. He believed that he should find 
evidences of interment far outside the presently used and 
very old graveyard, and he hoped to unearth some of the 
monumental crosses and inscribed stones, which surely, he 
thought, were placed over the burial-places of the old 
dignitaries. His expectations, in one respect, were justified. 
Under cultivated soil, unknown to tradition as the site of a 
burial-ground, the spade freely turned up bones and skulls ; 
but of the elaborately -carved crosses there was no sign. 
Only in the black earth did he find a little causeway paved 
with sea-worn boulders, over which imagination saw pass 
and repass the monks who have been sleeping for seven 
centuries. 

An old castle has nearly as great an attraction for the 
rhymer as the monastery. He has a queer feeling of being 
at home inside battlemented and machicolated walls a 
gurgoyle's plashing stream is like a memory at times. He 
accounts for this feeling by supposing that he had an ancestor 
to whom such things were familiar, and that he happens to 
be the soil in which much of that ancestor re-lives, and he 
explains and illustrates a theory of heredity by occurrences 
in his farming experience. He has a field in which corn 
has not been grown in his lifetime, and which is not in a 
corn-growing district. Let the sod be lifted in spring or 
summer, the earth below moved to a depth of six or eight 
inches, and a crop of brick-red corn poppies will appear. 
He has another field which has been in grass as long as 
the owner or his neighbours can remember. It was plagued 
by dock a few years ago, and a large part of the ground had 
to be turned over in the effort to get rid of these weeds. 
In the loosened soil appeared, soon afterwards, large white 
turnips of a kind long out of cultivation. This long con- 
servation of a buried seed's vitality and germination when 
conditions were favourable have, Pat thinks, a parallel in 
human life. Every soul of man is a patch of soil, varying in 



THE ABBEY TALES 173 

size and condition and degree of fertility, but every patch, 
even the smallest, has in it the seed of every generation of 
the line along which life has passed to it from the beginnings 
of things, and these seeds never lose their vitality. The 
farthest back are the deepest buried. The crop of to-day is 
the product of seeds nearest the surface ; the man is the son 
of his parents, modified by environment, and heir to results 
of all forces which have acted on his race from the beginning. 
But when, in the mysterious transmission of life, anything 
occurs in the field of humanity corresponding to that move- 
ment of the soil which permitted the poppy and turnip seeds 
to germinate, the man may be largely the revival of an 
ancestor or of ancestors, separated, perhaps, from his time 
by thousands of years. He may be the unadvanced, un- 
altered man of the past, moulded by the forces at work to-day, 
having not only the mental and physical characteristics of the 
revived ancestor, but also his habits, instincts, opinions, and 
even memories. There may be some hoeing turnips in 
Antrim to-day who laboured in the onion fields of Egypt 
three thousand years ago. 

This is the farmer's theory ; it differs from the received 
one in assuming the persistent vitality of the seed, and the 
probability of a practical revival of an individual in an age 
and situation far removed from that in which he first de- 
veloped strength. It explains, he thinks, much in the acts 
and dispositions of men inexplicable by anything in their 
parentage or training, mediaeval revivals, the polygamy of 
Mormonism, intuitions and curious mental sensations of all 
kinds. 

Take, for example, the not uncommon sensation of fami- 
liarity with a landscape visited for the first time in a life. 
When the sense is stirred, the visitor expects that a new 
position will reveal certain features, and he is not disap- 
pointed. The explanation is that he did see the place before 
in his ancestor, and interest awoke the sleeping knowledge so 



174 THE ABBEY TALES 

that at each turn of the road he knew what to expect. Pat 
has a friend into whose mind come continually syllabic 
arrangements, always in the same sequence. He finds him- 
self saying these, to him, meaningless words over and over 
again. Pat holds that these sounds represent words familiar 
to an ancestor ; words which, by importance at a crisis, or by 
iteration, burned themselves into the mind of that ancestor 
so deeply that his descendant finds himself repeating them 
continually without any knowledge of their meaning. An- 
other person finds over and over again on the background 
of his mind the figures 797. Why he should think of them 
he does not know ; some one of his line in the past had 
reason to remember them. The theory accounts for the com- 
mon, apparently groundless, antipathies to certain animals or 
flowers, or even human beings, for a counterpart of a disliked 
person may have been obnoxious ages ago to an ancestor of 
him who feels the dislike now. 

As for Pat himself, he thinks he had an ancestor who was 
a sea-rover, for always, in quietness, comes to him the 
thought of and sound of a boat's bows plunging in stormy 
water to the accompaniment of flute-like music. The music 
may be the whistling of the wind in the cordage of the sea- 
rover's galley, or it may be that the old sailors had pipers 
to cheer their toilsome rowing. He has had, too, an ancestor 
who was a crusader. From him came the sense of at-homeness 
in mediaeval buildings which the rhymer experiences, and 
his mental pictures of " France's grey-green olives " and 
the " castles grim and high " of the land through which he 
makes Eric and Randal to pass.* He thinks that if it were 
possible for him to journey to the Holy Land by the route 
travelled by his supposed progenitor, he would "remember," 
as it appeared, each unaltered feature of the landscapes. 

These mediaeval pictures account for the rhymes which 
follow. The Abbey of the tales is a composite picture 

* In " The Story of Eric," not included in this collection. 



INTRODUCTION TO ABBEY TALES 175 

of three well known to the rhymer. All, of course, are 
ruins ; one is little more now than a few yards of walls. 
One is on a treeless wind-swept site by the sea. Tall 
trees in which the rooks build, and sheltering walls are 
round the other two. The characters are pure inventions 
perhaps the best liked by the rhymer is Friar John, but he 
thinks not unkindly of that rascal Tim. 



INTRODUCTION TO THE ABBEY TALES 

A TOUZLED string o' anshent rhymes 

Is twistin', twinin' thro' my heid, 
Auld stories o' the monkish times, 

That, now they're prented, ye may read. 
But whaur they cam' frae now they're here, 

And how they were writ out by me, 
It's just as weel ye dinna speir, 

I wadna like to tell a lee. 
Maybe I found them in the mowld, 

Maybe I got them in the air, 
And tuk them as ye tak' the cowld, 

Unknowin' how, or when, or where. 



THE DISCOVERY OF THE OYSTER 

IF he that first invented sleep 
Is blest, what honour should we heap 
On him, the bowld, detarmin'd man, 
That first tuk oyster-shell in han' ; 
And bravin' pain or mortial ill, 
Uncarin' if 'twould cure or kill, 
First sook'd an oyster to his wame ? 



176 THE ABBEY TALES 

I ken that man I ken his name 
Will, hoo it happen'd, tell the way, 
Tho', hearin' it, ye'll maybe say 
To accident he owes his fame. 

Five hunner year ago or mair 

These auld, grey-lichen'd abbey wa's, 

Whaur nightly noo the howlet ca's 

Wi' eerie sound on midnight air, 

Whaur ghaists o' folk but middlin' good 

Noo seek a scanty livelihood, 

Were roofit tight and fill'd wi' men 

Auld Lindric was the abbot then. 

'Twas hoary e'en in Lindric's time, 

This hoose o' larn'd and haily men, 

A poem writ in stane and lime, 

This famous abbey o' the glen. 

Safe shelter'd frae the caller breeze 

By reverend and anshent trees, 

It had its pools, deep-shaded o'er, 

Frae which the lusty pike were fetch'd, 

And warm, green, grassy knowes that stretch'd 

Awa' doon to the sandy shore. 

The church had tithe o' land and sea, 
Land o' her ain and land in fee, 
Cattle, and sheep, and droves o' swine, 
And cellars fill'd wi' Spanish wine. 
The plashin' tide on shore by night 
Lull'd brethren to their sweet repose ; 
The cawin' rooks at mornin' light 
Made music for them as they rose. 
They livit weel, these haily men, 
And aged but by slow degrees ; 
Folk flourish'd like the aye-green trees 
In this auld abbey o' the glen. 



THE DISCOVERY OF THE OYSTER 177 

But grief and pain are everywhere, 

The Abbot Lindric had his share, 

His " skeleton " was Brither Tim 

(Timotheus was his name in fu'), 

Nae cupboard hid it out o' view 

A sair, sair bogie 'twas to him. 

A look at Tim's weel-tonsur'd pate 

(He, like the rest, went shaven shorn) 

Show'd brains were scarce when he was born. 

But Nature, aye considerate, 

Had gi'en him what he likit mair, 

A stamach, unco large in plan, 

And wi' accommodation rare, 

That helpit him, kind-hearted man, 

To gi'e the shelter o' a hame 

To lamb and fish and fowl and game 

In the recesses o' his wame. 

There, too, wi' copious draughts o' wine 

He entertain'd the young o' swine. 

Mind ye, he didna keep them dry ; 

Na, na, for drink they didna sigh ; 

He drook't them wi' the Spanish wine. 



He was nae beauty, Brither Tim, 
Nae grace had he o' face or limb ; 
He was a glutton, sae 'twas nois'd. 
The nose, the een, the lips, the mou', 
The heid, a globe o' ruby hue 
On the great corpus superpois'd 
Did certify the story true. 
The neck that once had interfer'd 
Betwixt them, lang had disappear'd. 
Some o' the monks could recolleck 
When Brither Tim possess'd a neck, 



178 THE ABBEY TALES 

And it's Hejira used to sarve 
To date events in Abbey life ; 
Brither to brither would obsarve, 
" Ye'll mind, my brither, plague was rife 
The year Timotheus lost his neck, 
That mak's me ken the date exack," 
Or " hairst * that year was unco late, 
I mind it, for Timotheus shear'd, 
And folk that simmer often speir'd 
What join'd his body to his pate." 
Tim bought and sold the abbey swine 
(" A' he was guid for/' some folks said), 
He tith'd the corn and sheep and kine, 
Tith'd for himsel' the Spanish wine, 
And look'd upon it when 'twas red, 
And when 'twas ither shades as weel, 
A fact I'm sorry to reveal. 
Sometimes the brethren fail'd to dine 
Because he gaz'd sae at the wine, 
And gaz'd sae lang he quite forgot 
To put the denner in the pot ; 
Then cam' reproof and penance dour, 
Reproof forgotten in an 'oor ; 
Penance for him had same effeck 
As water on a grey duck's back. 
When yearly on the reck'nin' day, 
The abbot's drink sae rich and fine, 
The wine, the guidly Spanish wine, 
Aye lack'd the coont a lang, lang way ; 
Whaur it had gone to nane could say ; 
Tim's nose, 'twas rumour'd, only knew. 
Yearly it big and bigger grew, 
Yearly it took a redder hue, 
Reflection o' the Spanish wine. 
* Harvest. 



THE DISCOVERY OF THE OYSTER 179 

Quo' Tim, " By Paul's adveeze I take 

A leetle for my stomach's sake, 

A leetle somethin' when I dine." 

But the great nose that kenn'd, wad shake 

And say as plain as plain could be, 

" To ca' it leetle, Tim's a lee, 

A great big elephantine lee." 

But Tim transgress'd anither way. 
If on the road he had to pass 
A braw-built, sonsy country lass, 
He'd stap and blether half the day, 
And poke her ribs and laugh and grin, 
And chuck her underneath the chin, 
Noo if it's coortin' time o' life, 
And we're oot sarchin' for a wife ; 
Sic conduck's quite in order then, 
For dacent folks like you and me, 
But maist improper you'll agree 
In pious, larn'd, and haily men. 
Nae wonder Lindric aft wad say 
That Tim wad be his death some day. 

Maybe ye think I've quite forgot 
Aboot the oyster. Troth, I've not. 

It was a cool October day, 
The simmer had been cauld and wet, 
The harvest wasna gather'd yet. 
Nae maitter what oor grannies say, 
Auld pairchments I hae keek't at show 
They had cauld simmers lang ago, 
And this year there was great distress. 
The country suffer'd famine sore, 
Folk leev'd on naethin', or on less, 
Ek'd oot wi' shell-fish frae the shore. 



180 THE ABBEY TALES 

Tim was abroad to tak' the air, 

The tide was oot, the sands were bare ; 

He thought he could, far aff, descry, 

Ootlined against the hazy sky, 

The forms o' twa three wimmen folk. 

He buckled and pu'd roon' his cloak 

And started aff across the sands, 

Haudin' his skirts up wi' his hands, 

Like leddies on a rainy day. 

Maybe he thocht he saw a maid 

He lik't to parley wi' the blade. 

I'll no decede, I canna say, 

He may hae simply lik't the breeze, 

He may hae needed exercese. 

At any rate, aboot half-way, 

Pickin' his steps ow'r slippy wrack, 

He met a man, half-starvit, lean, 

A puir auld man wi' hungry een, 

Bearin' a wet and heavy sack. 

The carl saluted, wad hae pass'd ; 

Curious to see what he amass'd, 

Tim ca'd to the auld beggar chap 

A lood authoritative " Stap ! "; 



" Ye seek," quo' Tim, " to leave in lurch 
Yer blessed mither, Haily Church, 
And tak' wi' graceless heart what she 
As tithe has right to frae the sea." 
The bag cam' thuddin' to the sand. 
" I hae nae wish the church to cheat ; 
Here's naethin' haily men wad eat," 
The man replied, then, in his hand 
Display'd an oyster frae the sack. 
" Only," quo' he, " that corn we lack 



THE DISCOVERY OF THE OYSTER 181 

We wadna seek sic evil food : 

God only kens ift's bad or guid." 

" Open it quick," Tiraotljeus cried ; 

The puir half-famished man complied. 

Tim poked the cratur in the shell ; 

He look't it ow'r essay'd to smell. 

Now 'twas a lusty oyster this, 

Nane o' yer wee thin tippeny bits 

A man could eat afore he quits 

A hunner o', as easy's kiss. 

Na, he and his imprison'd mates 

Had rocky shells like denner plates. 

Unsought, uneaten, oysters then 

Leev'd langer than the maist o' men, 

And grew to sizes wad amaze 

The epicure o' modern days. 

The one Timotheus held, nae doot, 

Was fifty year or thereaboot, 

But still in prime o' youth and strength 

His days nae mair than hauf their length. 

He thocht it time to close his shell, 

Maybe he thocht the wind was cowld, 

Or thocht the big red nose too bowld, 

Intrudin' wi' design to smell ; 

He wantit words to say " git oot," 

Sae, tho' the friar had fingers strang, 

He pu'd the daur to wi' a bang 

And nipp'd the haily father's snoot. 

When you, my hearer, were at schule, 
And miss'd your task or played the fule, 
Ye'll mind what happen'd how the cane 
Made a' your fingers burn wi' pain ; 
And you, too plucky or too prood 
To wring your hands or cry alood, 
Before a comrade, friend or foe, 



182 THE ABBEY TALES 

Ye pursed your mooth in shape like O, 

And sook'd the air in, might and main, 

Makin' a sound that wasna' do-o-o-p 

Nor fo-o-o-p nor so-o-o-p nor who-o-o-o-p, 

But mixt o' a', to ease your pain. 

Weel, that was what Timotheus did, 

Only, the wee sma' air that slid 

Thro' your roon' O and doon your throat 

Was naethin' to the roarin' blast 

That doon Timotheus' throttle pass'd 

And lost itsel' in pairts remote. 

Na ! your genteel wee throttle pipe 

Is but a teenie windle-strae 

To that weel-trodden dusky way 

By which the ham, the beef, the tripe, 

The sookin'-pigs, the fish, the game 

Found entry to the friar's wame. 

The sough was like the autumn gust 

That lays the pine-tree low in dust. 

It tore the oyster frae his shell, 

His lime-built, pearly citadel, 

And hurried him at lightnin' pace 

To that dark-cavern' d vasty place 

O' Tim's intarnal pairts the shrine, 

Whaur Nature worshipp'd he wi' zeal, 

Wi' offerin's o' fowl and veal, 

And sookin'-pig and Spanish wine. 

The passage gi'ed the monk a fright, 
He was dumb-foonder'd weel he might. 
Had he tuk pison ? Wad he dee ? 
What wad the issue o' this be ? 
He waited. In his wame or hairt 
Or legs or heid or ither pairt 
Nae deathly swoondin' pang he knew ; 
He turnit neither black nor blue ; 



THE DISCOVERY OF THE OYSTER 183 

But, on the contrar', calm prevail'd, 

He felt refresh 'd, reviv'd, regal'd, 

And to the varlet sign'd the wish 

He'd like to try anither fish. 

This time Timotheus singled oot 

A cutty knife, twa-edg'd, frae 'mong 

The keys that at his girdle hung ; 

It guttit many a lusty troot. 

Wi' it he ripp'd a shell clean aff 

(He fear'd anither nippit snoot). 

Haudin' the fish on t'ither half, 

On tips o' fingers poisit high, 

He sigh'd a great big muckle sigh 

That sook'd the oyster aff his plate, 

And sent him quick to join his mate. 

His grip, ye see, could be but sma', 

Half o' his hoose was pu'd awa'. 

That settled maitters for the rest, 

Nae question noo, if they were guid, 

The friar's stamach cried for food, 

He aye obey'd its least behest. 

The wee twa-edgit cutty knife 

Ne'er wark'd sae hard in a' its life. 

The speed wi' which it pris'd a shell 

In hist'ry has nae parallel ; 

It did it while ye coonted three. 

A word just noo occurs to me, 

I'd like, richt weel, to use it, if 

I thocht ye could pronoonce it right, 

" Rhythmic's " the word it's rather stiff, 

Eneuch to gi'e a man a fright, 

Like a hale college at first sight. 

I'll just expleen the meanin' here. 

Rhythm's a periodic thump, 

A regular recurrin' bump. 

That ocht to mak' the meanin' clear, 



184 THE ABBEY TALES 

But, to be rhythmic, it requires 

The sounds must follow purty quick. 

They're rhythmic sounds that angry sires 

Mak' on posteriors wi' a stick. 

Grand thocht that rhythm in reproofs. 

O' nae mair rhythms can I think 

But sound o' trottin' horses' hoofs 

And blacksmith's cheerfu' hammer clink. 

Wae's me I'm tir'd expleenin' things, 

A word like that gi'es trouble sair 

And poet into trouble brings. 

I'm gaun to use it noo tak' care 

THE . SHELLS . FELL . DOON . WI' 

RHYTHMIC . THUD. 
I think ye've gotten somethin' noo. 
Hech ! there's a line that stirs the blood 
Like some auld tale o' Waterloo. 
Mark hoo it pictures you the scene, 
The airms up, doon, like steam machine, 
Warkin' the knife that ripp'd the shells, 
These drappin' wi' a ring like bells, 
A couple while you coonted three 
Wi' rhythmic regularity. 
THE . SHELLS . FELL . DOON . WI' 

RHYTHMIC . THUD. 
Hech ! sirs, it mak's ye think o' blood 
Spill'd on the anshent battlefields. 
Change shells to blows on leather shields, 
And Homer might ha' writ the line 
O' twa auld Greeks, inflam'd wi' wine, 
Tryin' to sned each ither's heids, 
The way I sned the taps o' weeds. 
It's guid enough for Homer's brain, 
Just tak' and say it ow'r again. 



THE DISCOVERY OF THE OYSTER 185 

'Twill do ye good it's mortial fine, 

A rhythmic gem I'm glad it's mine, 

And far posterity will sing 

Its praises for its gracefu' swing. 

That line will leeve tak' that for true, 

A thoosan' years or so frae noo. 

Gang into any college place, 

Ye'll find the auld professors there, 

Expleenin' wi' the greatest care 

To students o' the cornin' race. 

This leeterary diamond mine, 

Maybe, indeed, a special chair 

Endow'd for study o' the line. 

It's simply parfit, I'll maintain, 

I like it weel I'll say't again. 

THE . SHELLS . FELL . BOON . WI' . 

RHYTHMIC . THUD. 
And noo we'll get alang het scud.* 

Ane oyster while ye coonted three, 

Should twenty to the meenit be. 

There were a hunner in the bag, 

And sin' the action didna flag 

(If my arithmetic's no' wrang), 

Five meenits cleared the hale jing-bang. 

This is the picture then was seen : 

The shell-fish seeker, wan and lean, 

His aspect weary, fu' o' care, 

The leevin' image o' despair. 

Item, a monk weel satisfeed, 

A sma' red globe (his shaven heid) 

Pois'd on a greater lower doon. 

Twa big red hands revolvin' roon', 

* Hot send = with great speed. 



186 THE ABBEY TALES 

Rubbin' the bigger o' the twa, 
Aboot the equatorial line 
(The pairt affected when we dine). 
Twa short stoot legs below them a'. 
Item, a heap o 5 oyster shells. 
As for th' evicted fish themsel's, 
Puir bodies, they, as p'raps ye know, 
Had gone whaur the guid oysters go. 

The monk address' d the starvit man, 
Despoilt o' his expectit meal, 
And aye, the slow revolvin' han' 
Caress'd the wame he lov'd sae weel. 
" Varlet," quo' he, " the times are hard, 
Sae, oot o' love and kind regard 
She bears to a' her children dear 
The church remits, this famine year, 
The tithe o' limpets, partens, snails, 
A' things like these that come to han', 
Ye'll keep them for yersel', puir man ; 
The church is kind whaur want prevails. 
As for these strange new-fangled fish, 
It is the Haily Church's wish, 
That no' the tithe o' them, but a' 
The lairge, the middlin' size, the sma', 
Be hers henceforth, and ye shall bring 
To her as Friday's offering 
Three hunner, weekly, frae this date. 
Twa hunner maun be leevit whaur 
They tak' things at the big front daur, 
Ae hunner at the wee back gate, 
Ye'll speir for me if I'm no' there. 
Do what I tell ye noo wi' care, 
Be wise and mind ye dinna shirk 
Yer duties to the Haily Kirk." 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 187 

Next time ye sook your oysters, frien', 
Ye'll think o' what I here relate, 
O' him the man o' waefu' mien, 
Wha gather'd fish that ithers ate. 
Nae labour can his hist'ry trace, 
Nae mortial kens that varlet's name, 
Timotheus, o' the human race, 
Was first to tak' an oyster hame. 
To sook an oyster to his wame, 
The slippy, soothiii', oyster chiel 
That ilka bodie loves sae weel. 
And frae that far October day, 
The haily cloister men, they say, 
On Fridays when they went to dine 
Had roosin' plates o' oysters fine, 
Weel drookit wi' auld Spanish wine. 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 

THE anshent abbey o' the glen 
Ow'd muckle to De Morla's men, 
Hot-temper'd folk that scorn'd at lear, 
Big in the wame at fifty year, 
Nae thocht o' broken limb or neck, 
Nor fear o' God e'er kept them back 
Frae reckless hunt, or bluidy fight, 
Or wild, carousin', drinkin' night ; 
Sae death cam' aften unawares, 
And mony a sad, short, shrift was theirs. 

Then in the wee short hour or twa, 
While death was luggin' them awa', 
When the big daurs o' hell gap'd wide, 
And ow'r the awfu' pit inside 



188 THE ABBEY TALES 

The thoosan's o' expectant de'ils 
Were buzzin' wi' exultant squeals, 
The deed o' goold or rich toonland, 
Sign'd wi' a tremblin' dyin' hand. 
Enrich'd the kirk at cost o' heirs, 
And chang'd the aspect o' affairs ; 
Bought entrance to celestial bliss 
And pardon sure for aught amiss. 
Then a' the wee, sma' bits o 5 de'ils 
Wad fling their disappointed heels, 
And the big smokin' daurs sae strang 
Wad clash thegither wi' a bang. 

The one that lived in Lindric's time, 
Black Hugo wildest o' the clan, 
Wha fear'd not God, nor kirk, nor man, 
And coonted murther nae great crime, 
Gi'ed Abbot Lindric mony a deer, 
But 'fil't his gifts wi' converse rude, 
Unseemly jest and utt' ranee lewd, 
The like nae haily man should hear. 
It grieved the abbot aft and sair, 
No' to reprove him then and there. 
But conscience maun be highly strung 
To flyte folk ye' re behauden to ; 
Sae what could puir auld Lindric do 
But tak' the gifts and haud his tongue. 

It wasna then wi' muckle joy, 

Ae day in early simmer-tide, 

The Abbot frae his window spied 

O' men and horse a hale convoy 

Approach the abbey daur wi' speed, 

Black Hugo ridin' at the heid. 

The red deer carried in the rear 

Meant peace, but why the sword and spear ? 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 189 

And why sic troop o' horse and men 
Wi' Hugo in the peacefu' glen ? 
He ne'er had seen his life before 
Sic cavalcade at abbey daur. 
" Lord save us frae sic retinues/' 
Quo' he and waited for the news. 

He hadna muckle time to wait, 
Black Hugo never waited lang. 
Hech ! what a brattle at the gate, 
A rain o' blows sae lood and strang 
That made the lion knocker roar ; 
Auld Gilbert, he that kept the gate, 
Had never heard the like before. 
It bang'd the daur at sic a rate 
He tumbl'd, frichten'd, frae his chair, 
Keek'd thro' the spy-hole in the wa' 
At foot of Lindric's windin' stair, 
Then, hearin' Hugo's angry ca' 
That threaten'd clooted lugs or waur, 
He stapp'd Sir Hugo's thund'rous din 
By openin' the abbey daur. 
The Abbot, fearfu', cam' behin'. 

" Guid father mine," De Morla said, 

"You haily men maun be well fed. 

This buck for twa three days will last, 

Ca' it a salmon if ye will, 

And, sinless, by that name 'twill fill 

A hungry wame on day o' fast. 

Here, too's the makin' o' a monk, 

A gift ye'll mair appreciate ; 

He has o' warldly pleasure drunk, 

And safely noo within your gate 

On haily things wad meditate. 



190 THE ABBEY TALES 

Ye'll gi'e the youth yer watchfu' care, 

A sma' stane cell and narrow stair, 

A wee sma' cellar a' his ain, 

A yard or twa o' airn chain, 

The new wine, as the Scriptures say, 

A bottle stoot and strang maun hae." 

The abbot Lindric was nae fule, 

He kenn'd what Hugo meant richt weel, 

He hated trouble like the de'il, 

And here was bother sair and dule, 

That he, wha lovit weel his ease, 

His dour black patron's whim to please, 

Should tak' the lad before him bound, 

Pit him in cellar underground, 

And mak' his haily hoose a jail. 

Well micht the priest his case bewail. 

But what was his the lad's beside ! 

His mooth sae gagg'd he cudna ca', 

His airms strapp'd back, his ankles twa 

Beneath the horse's belly tied. 

" He keeps," quo' Hugo, " very quate, 

A'ready seems to meditate, 

Thinks, monkish fashion, mair than says. 

He sees, nae doot, the happy days 

He'll spend in contemplation here, 

Heaven on t'ither side the wa', 

Naethin' to tempt the sowl ava' 

Withoot ambition's hope or fear. 

He was, ye'll ken, a lovesick youth, 

Naethin' wad do him then, forsooth, 

But dauchter o' De Morla's hoose, 

The tether o' his thochts was loose 

The day they wander'd up sae high ; 

But noo his sowl wad purify 

Frae thocht o' earthly love, and try 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 191 

To cool het bluid and passion's flame 
Wi' cauld stane floor and hungry wame. 
In sax weeks' time he'll sing, ye'll see, 
Psalms through the nose wi' best o' ye." 

Roger, his captive by mischance 
Could use his een. His scornfu' glance 
Said mair than words, and made the ire 
O' black Sir Hugo burn like fire. 
He swore a fierce and solemn aith 
That ere he'd let a Linwood man 
Wed dauchter o' De Morla's clan, 
The girl should starvit be to death. 

The puir auld abbot tried in vain 
To mak' the angry knight relent, 
Nocht he could say wad him restrain, 
Nae airgument the deed prevent. 
Wi' helpless wringin' hands he stood 
To see the captive by him led, 
Black Hugo in his anger rude 
Still heapin' curses on his head. 

Juist then cam' by a warldly man 
That carried buckets frae the well. 
" Here ! tak' this wi' ye to yer cell," 
Quo' Hugo, takin' one in han', 
" Ye'll sune in ither name appear, 
It's puir name, Roger, for a saint. 
There's water to bapteeze ye here 
And wesh awa' the warldly taint, 
Let noo the sinfu' Roger dee, 
And henceforth Amoroso be." 
Wi' that he drook'd the captive weel, 
Drook'd the puir lad frae croon to heel, 



192 THE ABBEY TALES 

Then drapp'cl the bucket wi' a laugh 
Ill-manner'd jauker he and cried 
To Lindric as he galloped aff, 
" Console him, father, for his bride. 
Till het bluid cools ye'll haud him doon, 
I'll come to see ye verra soon." 

Noo Abbot Lindric lov'd his rest, 
He hated ructions like the pest. 
Like to the foolish wife was he 
That lets her weans their ain ways rin, 
Then skelps them wi' severity ; 
In some short fit o' discipline, 
Correctin' ills o' months' lax rule 
Wi' minutes in a stricter school. 
'Twas three weeks noo sin' Roger came, 
'Twas evident his folk at hame 
Kenn'd no' wha held the prison keys, 
And Lindric 'gan to feel at ease. 

The hoose had o' correction need, 

O' discipline he'd try a screed. 

Some monks, he heard, were keepin' hounds 

At farms and shielin's here and there, 

And slippit aff ootside the bounds, 

Withoot his leave to coorse a hare. 

And maist o' them were gi'en to shirk 

The daily sarvice in the kirk. 

Sae in his feeble weel-meant way, 

The abbot scowlded for a day, 

And made a rule that every man 

Should be in kirk when pray'rs began, 

Unless the duty was remit, 

By him for reasons guid and fit. 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 193 

The mornin' aifter, in his zeal 
To mak' the errin' monks dae weel, 
He, frae the anshent abbey book, 
A guid twa hours o' sarvice took. 
He gi'ed them penitential psalms, 
Wi' pray'rs that rais'd onaisy qualms, 
And readin's for contrition fit, 
That anshent haily men had writ. 
Next, into kirk he saw them a', 
The hale jing-bang exceptin' twa 
Auld Tim, the absent reprobate, 
And Gilbert, he that kept the gate. 
Then as he lock'd them in he sigh'd, 
And while a psalm was bein' sung, 
The great keys at his girdle hung, 
And to his ain apartment hied. 

He had but climb'd the windin' stair 
And cross'd his wee bit chamber bare, 
Wi' pechin' breest, and footsteps slow, 
To rest him in the window seat, 
When, on the gravel doon below 
He heard the scrunch o' horses' feet. 
Losh me ! it gi'ed him sic a start, 
Wi' palpitation o' the heart, 
Visions o' fire and sword cam' fast ; 
Had Roger's kindred come at last ? 
He keeks quick thro' the leeded panes ; 
But a' the frichten'd abbot sees, 
Sair hinder'd by thick mullion stanes, 
Is twa tails whiskin' aff the flees. 

Doonstairs, auld Gilbert heard a rap, 
A wee, sma', timid kind o' tap. 



THE ABBEY TALES 

He hasted to the daur to go, 

But Gilbert's haste was unco slow. 

A score o' years ago, or mair, 

Ane o' his feet the left was sair. 

He tied it up wi' bits o' rag, 

Auld cloots frae oot the beggar's bag. 

And tho' lang syne he'd lost his pain, 

The duds were never aff again ; 

For year by year, wi' muckle care, 

On top o' auld he added mair, 

Until, in time, the lump had got 

In size as big as bushel pot. 

He made pretence o' grievin' sair, 

He cudna tak' o' wark his share ; 

But weel 'twas kenn'd the lump o' rags 

Was but excuse for lazy legs. 

Wi' air o' one by anguish torn, 
And grunt and groan o' habit born, 
Auld Gilbert mov'd his rusty banes, 
Draggin' his fit alang the stanes. 
He open'd to the timid knock, 
And then, my faith ! he had a shock. 
A braw wee leddy standin' there ! 
Nane o' yer hizzies wi' red hair, 
But O ! the sweetest, dearest maid 
That e'er made heart o' man afraid. 
In form, in majesty, a queen. 
Her hair was black and plentifu', 
And tumbled ow'r her neck and broo, 
In witchin' way as e'er was seen. 
The face was pale, the eyebroos dark, 
In lines as fine as painter's wark, 
That, o' themsels, could wound a heart 
W T ithoot the aid o' Cupid's dart. 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 195 

Her robe o' green o' costly price, 
Pu'd tight and square across her breests, 
Was 'broider'd wi' heraldic beasts 
In thread o' goold, wi' strange device. 
And then her waist ! her dainty feet ! 
The glovit hands sae sma' and neat ! 
Wi' ane she freed the 'broider'd dress 
Frae capture by a prickly gorse, 
The t'ither bravely held nae less 
Than bridles o' twa champin' horse. 
Noble she look'd. Her jet black hair, 
Her brilliant een, and skin sae fair 
Betoken'd blood o' coortly France. 
Thence had her mither cam' frae, when 
De Morla wi' his Antrim men 
In youth had serv'd wi' sword and lance. 
Nae wonder Gilbert, auld and fat, 
Wish'd he were young and free to woo. 
" Father," quo' she just fancy noo 
Ca'in' the fat auld beggar that 
" Father," quo' she, and sweetly smil'd, 
" By a' that's true, by a' that's dear, 
Tell Roger Linwood I am here ; 
Mona am I Sir Hugo's child." 
Then in auld Gilbert's hand she plac'd 
A sma' goold cross, maist richly chas'd. 
" Help me, guid father help," she said, 
" For sairly do I need your aid." 



Into the wallet by his side 

Auld Gilbert thrust the cross and chain. 

" My leddy fair," quo' he, " I'd fain 

See nae request o' yours denied. 

We ken nae man by that name here, 

And sae yer quest is vain I fear ; 



196 THE ABBEY TALES 

But baud yer heart in courage still, 
I'll ca' the abbot an you will." 

Roon' the corner wha should come 

But that auld sinner waddlin' Tim 

(Nae sarvice in the kirk for him). 

The lovely vision struck him dumb, 

Ne'er had he seen sic lovely dame. 

He scratch'd his nose, and star'd and star'd, 

And smack'd his lips, and rubb'd his wame, 

As if he'd eat her if he dar'd. 

Sic majesty in ane so young ! 

She speaks to him, but in his awe, 

The beggar canna fin' his tongue ; 

He stares at her wi' open jaw. 

Upstairs, the abbot in his chair 

Grew weary waitin' ower lang, 

And, wond'rin' what the warld was wrang, 

He shuffled doon the windin' stair. 

Auld Gilbert heard his footsteps slow, 

And whisper'd to the lassie, low, 

" Ye'll fin' the laddie yet, nae fear, 

'Deed I may tell ye that he's here, 

But no' as Roger Linwood kenn'd ; 

Brandmar's the name they've gi'en yer friend. 

Brocht by yer feyther 'gainst his will, 

The abbot has him lock'd up still ; 

But, for the sake o' Heaven, pray 

Dinna let on 1 tell't ye sae." 

The abbot at the daur appear'd, 
And what the matter was he spier'd. 
Gilbert fell back. Tim, stupefied 
And speechless, still the leddy ey'd. 
Him did the abbot first address 
In anger at his idleness. 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 197 

" Awa' wi' ye, ye lazy loon ; 

Awa' and get yer errands dune. 

If grace and godliness o' heart 

Will no' incline ye to tak' part 

In sarvice in the haily kirk, 

Then let me see ye dinna shirk 

The duties temp'ral in yer care ; 

Ye need a screed o' penance sair." 

Then to the maid, " My dochter dear, 

What brocht ye and yer horses here ? " 

" Father," the brave wee lass replied, 

As one that winna be denied, 

t( 'Tis Roger Linwood that I seek ; 

Wi' him your Brandmar I must speak." 

" Must ! " quo' the abbot, " we shall see ; 

Wi' a' the favour and respeck 

Your father's dochter can expeck, 

Must is nae word to say to me." 

Just then, my word ! he got a scaur, 

What mair he'd said I canna tell, 

For there beside him at the daur 

The socht-for Roger stood, himsel'. 

The puir auld abbot, faint wi' fear, 

A prey to thoosan' vague alairms, 

Noo saw th' imprison'd lad appear 

And clasp his sweetheart in his airms. 

Nae secret plot set Roger free, 
Nae frien's amang the monks had he, 
Nor was it his ain use o' tool 
That put an end to prison days ; 
'Twas naethin' but the lazy ways 
Engender'd by auld Lindric's rule. 
Three weeks was just aboot as lang 
A time as rule o' his kept strang ; 



198 THE ABBEY TALES 

Three weeks had Roger captive been, 

His jailers wer'na just sae keen, 

And carelessness began to show. 

Then cam' the row I tell't ye o', 

Wi' threat that some might be unfrock'd, 

And Roger's guards were o' the lot 

That got their wiggin' purty hot ; 

It made a' else to be forgot. 

That morn they left his cell unlock'd. 

A hunner times a day or mair, 
And aye wi' increase o' despair, 
Roger his prison daur had tried. 
This day O joy ! it opened wide. 
He slippit up the windin' stair ; 
He keek'd alang the corridor 
Cauld smellin' place wi' sanded floor 
Wastward was porter Gilbert's chair. 
He turn'd the ither way to win 
Thro' daur o' kirk, but found it fast ; 
He heard the sleepy chant within. 
He settled then to try the wast 
And tak' auld Gilbert by surprise, 
Tho' 'twas a risky thing to do. 
He did surprise him, it is true, 
He hardly could believe his eyes ; 
But Roger was surpris'd himsel', 
For Gilbert rais'd nae shout o' fear, 
Nor cried him back to seek his cell, 
But on the contrair sign'd, " Come here." 
He shook his heid and screw'd his face 
In sign o' silence to the lad, 
But, wantin' him to mend his pace, 
He wav'd his fist at him like mad. 
The lang wide ha' just near the end 
Turns shairply to the southern gate ; 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 199 

The lad has nearly reached the bend, 
A minute mair he'll ken his fate. 

(Wad the obleegin' prenter man 

Hae twa three big types in his han', 

Got o' the cairt loads in his store. 

We're com in' to the pairt, ye see, 

Whaur three things meet the laddie's ee, 

Each sweeter than the ane before. 

The open daur, the simmer sky, 

And, best o' a', the bounie lass. 

I want ye, prenter, then to try 

To prent them as they come to pass, 

In bigger types. The reason why 

Ye'll see at wanst if ye refleck. 

It ocht to hae a grand effeck. 

Be ready noo, the time is ripe, 

Stand by ) 

the lad has reach'd the bend, 
His trouble's comin' to an end. 

(Mind, gie the lass the biggest type!) 

He saw the big DOOR OPEN wide, 
He saw the BLUE AND SUNLIT SKY 
Wi' clouds like snowy mountains high, 
The sky o' early simmer tide. 
But, better still than that, and mair 
Was by the astonish'd laddie seen, 
MONA was there he rubb'd his een 

MONA 
HIS SWEETHEART standing there ! ! ! 

(Troth, prenter man, ye did that weel ; 
Ye handle types wi' muckle skeel, 
I'll pay ye extra in the bill, 
And mind ye when I mak' my will.) 



200 THE ABBEY TALES 

Dear reader, ye hae wrastled thro' 

Wi' patience, and ye're tir'd the noo. 

I think this is as guid a pairt 

As ye could hae to drap the book 

And turn yer een anither airt. 

Sae let them kiss and dinna look. 

Ye did the same yersel', I'm shair, 

Dear knows, wi' sax o' them or mair. 

Ye ken, then, hoo that sweethearts feel 

And winna this puir couple blame. 

Ye never did, ye tell me ! Weel 

Ye wantit to it's a' the same ; 

A' theologians are agreed 

The will's aye taken for the deed. 

Puir Lindric looked awa'. His nose 
Wi' blushin' was like fire ableeze, 
For haily men, ye may suppose, 
Tak' nocht to dae wi' things like these. 

" O Roger dear," the lassie cried, 
" Ye'll come awa' wi' me, ye will ; 
Yer folk hae search'd, are searchin' still, 
Wi' sorrow a' the country side. 
Auld William tell't me o' yer fate 
Only at night last night and late, 
He cam' wi' you and father here ; 
There's naethin' father winna dare, 
And if he kenn'd wha tell't, I fear 
The puir auld man wad suffer sair. 
And, Roger dear, last night I dream'd 
I socht ye here wi' horses twa, 
And in my troubled sleep it seem'd 
Together, safe, we rode awa'. 



BROTHER BRANDMAR 201 

And noo not dreamin' I am here, 
Here are the horses ane for each, 
Ye will come wi' me, Roger dear ; 
O fly beyond my father's reach." 

The abbot found a voice to speak, 

" Gae back, my son, frae whence ye came, 

And you, my tender lassie, seek 

The shelter o' yer father's hame." 

Then Roger laugh'd, " Go, ask the bird, 

Escapit frae the limed tree, 

To gang back at the fowler's word ! 

Nae, Father Lindric, I am free. 

Be thankfu', then, if for your share 

In this unjust and foul affair 

There's no' a bonfire in the glen, 

Lit by the anger' d Lin wood men." 

Across the tremblin' abbot's mind 

Cam' visions o' a fearfu' kind, 

The Kirk defil'd the abbey burn'd, 

His gardens fair to deserts turn'd, 

The monks a' scatter'd far and wide 

In caves or mountain glens to hide 

O if he only might attain 

To lock the lad up safe again ! 

" Gilbert ! " he cried, " nae time to waste, 

Ca' brethren help O man, mak' haste." 

Then spyin' the retreatin' Tim, 

He cried wi' a' his might to him. 

But a' the noise he made was sma', 

And might have been 'deed nane ava'. 

He had a voice as younger man, 

Say forty years or sae before ; 

To hear it then in chant was gran' 

Och ! then 'twas like a lion's roar, 



202 THE ABBEY TALES 

Or brattle o' the beetlin' mills. 

It shook the kirk roof nearly doon, 

And rowl'd and growl'd wi' a' the soon* 

O' thunder 'mang the Antrim hills. 

But noo his cry was but a wheeze ; 

The wind, on side o' love and youth, 

Just grupp'd it as it left his rnooth 

And landed it in taps o' trees 

Amang a meetin' o' the craws, 

Convenit to discuss their laws, 

Which alteration need wi' years. 

The cry cam' to the chairman's ears 

A cross auld bird wha thocht the noise 

Cam' frae back branches frae the boys. 

He ca'd oot, " Order ! order there ! " 

And warn'd them what they might expeck. 

He said he'd stan' nae disrespeck 

As lang as he was in the chair. 

The wind near split his sides wi' glee 

To hear them cry oot, " 'Twasna me." 

And as for the unconscious Tim, 

Nae breath o' it e'er reachit him. 

He daunder'd on wi' laggin' feet, 

Still musin' on the vision sweet. 

And Gilbert to help Mona tried ; 

" Father, the brethren a'," quo' he, 

" Are lock'd up by yer ain decree, 

The keys are hangin' at yer side." 

" Here, tak' them, quick," the abbot cried, 

And flung them to him on the ground. 

But Gilbert, cunnin' Gilbert, found 

His fit was unco sair that day ; 

He grunted in a fearfu' way, 

And dragg'd himsel' sae slow alang 



FRIAR JOHN 203 

As if his shoes were fill'd wi' peas. 

Ere he a couple yairds could gang 

Roger had seized the bunch o' keys. 

"Father/' quo' he, " I'll e'en tak' chairge 

O' these they're safe sae dinna fret. 

It's early in the morn as yet. 

Too soon to set the monks at lairge. 

By a' accoonts they hae gret need 

O' kirk, and sae 'twill dae nae hairm 

To gi'e them there a langer tairm 

Than maybe ye at first decreed. 

The smith can free them send for him 

When next ye see guid Father Tim." 

Then lightly, wi' her sweetheart's aid, 
To saddle sprang the smilin' maid, 
And he, the happy laddie, he 
Free, as the lark in air is free. 
A kingdom wi' its goolden croon 
Wad no' hae bocht his parfit joy. 
God save them baith from mair annoy, 
And grant them ilka cravit boon. 

When Hugo next his dochter saw, 
Aweel he had a son-in-law. 



FRIAR JOHN 



O' a' the monks lang deid and gone 
Nane was sae guid as Friar John. 

Folk saw but what was there to see, 
A lang thin figure bent a wee, 



204 THE ABBEY TALES 

Twa een that pierc'd ye thro' and thro* 
Yet spoke a gentle heart and true 
That would the brither-man befriend, 
And neither God nor man offend ; 
But what his story, whence he came, 
Wha were his people, what his name, 
Nane but the Abbot Lindric kenn'd. 

His seldom feast had nocht o' greed, 
His frequent fast was fast indeed, 
His was the clear, transparent skin 
That shows the Spirit's light within. 
To see, to hear him, was to ken 
That God still dwelt wi' sons o' men. 

His was the duty and the will 

To scribe the Haily Word wi' skill, 

Wi' a' the airt craft o' the age 

He trac'd the penn'd and painted page, 

Where words like armies stood in ranks 

God's words, or men's in praise and thanks, 

And at their heid a letter great 

Wi' tint and goold illuminate. 

The bands mysterious, interlac'd, 

Wi' which the sacred page was grac'd, 

Were by his skilfu' fingers penn'd, 

And symboleez'd, I ha' nae doot, 

God's wondrous ways, past findin' oot 

His nae beginnin' and nae end.- 

A book-encumber'd chamber sma', 
Wi' stane-built, bare, unplaister'd wa' 
And roof o' timber high and dark, 
Gave place to Friar John to wark 
For love o' God and man's behoof. 



FRIAR JOHN 205 

And ow'r his table, rough and plain, 
A lamp hung by an iron chain, 
A lang black chain that reach 'd the roof. 
And on the wa's, as was maist fit, 
Were painted texts frae Haily Writ. 

Here frae the risin' o' the sun 
The friar penn'd the Haily Writ, 
And when the lang, lang day was done 
At eventime the lamp was lit. 
And oft thro' night hours lane and dark, 
Sae keen engross'd was Friar John, 
His solitary lamp burn'd on 
Till dawn surpris'd him at his wark. 
God's aid he crav'd for hand and brain. 
He prais'd Him for a page begun, 
And, each page finish'd, knelt again 
To praise Him for a page weel done. 
And God wi' fame his labour crown'd, 
He made him ow'r the warld renown'd ; 
For kings wad send frae distant lands 
To buy the Gospels frae his hands. 

Outside the abbey doorway, Tim 
(The cellarman, ye've heard o' him) 
Sat in the sun to warm himsel', 
And wait the welcome supper bell. 
He rubs his wame wi' big fat fist, 
His heid draps for'ard on his chist. 
What is it mak's him sae incline ? 
Is't o' his penances he thinks ? 
Nae fear ! he snores, tak's forty winks, 
And dreams o' sookin' pig and wine. 

" Figs ! Smyrna figs ! here, taste and try 
The finest figs that goold can buy. 



206 THE ABBEY TALES 

Come buy this spice and gi'e God thanks, 
Buy almonds frae the Jordan's banks." 
It was a sailor man that spoke, 
And at his cryin' Tim awoke. 
Fu' weel he lik'd a bit o' chat 
Wi' pilgrims, sailors, folk like that. 
And weel he lik'd to buy for feast 
The fruits and spices o' the East. 



The sailor led by chain an ape 

Bocht in the southern pairt o' France 

A beastie wi' the human shape, 

That somehow had been taught to dance. 

Hech sirs ! it was a sight to see 

That silly cratur dancin' jigs, 

'Twas better than a feast o' figs, 

And made Tim snigger he-he-he. 

The hops and antics pleas'd him so 

He likewise chuckled ho-ho-ho. 

The puir ape seemit pleas'd at this, 

And bow'd and scrap' d and threw a kiss, 

Till Tim burst out wi' ha-ha-ha. 

And then he lay back in his seat, 

And laugh'd sae at the monkey's feat 

He fairly shook the abbey wa'. 

And he, the scribe wha notice took 

O' strange things that the kirk befell, 

He felt the shakin' in his cell 

And writ an arthquake in his book. 

Tim rowl'd his een and chok'd and laugh't. 

And acted like a bodie daft, 

And as he chuckled, laugh'd his fill, 

His aye-red face grew redder still, 

The mair he ha'-ha'd, he-he'd, ho'd, 



FRIAR JOHN 207 

Until the sailor man grew fear'd. 

Was this auld monk in fits ? he speir'd, 

Or was he likely to explode ? 

He pack'd his wares to mak' escape, 

He wanted clear o' sic mishap ; 

But Tim entreated him to stap, 

And ask'd him wad he sell the ape. 

The sailor ponder'd, did the deed, 

The ape was sold, the tarms agreed. 

The beast's new master tuk the chain 

And led the ape to cellar cauld, 

Amang the new wines and the auld, 

The guid auld wines o' France and Spain. 

That night Tim in his narrow bed 
(Blethers ! the bed was big for three 
Fair or'nar folk, like you and me, 
But in a stories sung or said 
The beds o' monks maun narrow be, 
And stuff'd convaniently wi' whins, 
Horse nails, thorn bushes, tacks and pins, 
Authorities in this agree. 
But Tim car'd naethin' in the least 
For what was fit for monk or priest. 
On feathers saft he lov'd to lie, 
The saftest feathers man could buy.) 
That night Tim in his narrow bed 
(Ye'll let me wi' the rules comply) 
His slow imagination fed 
Wi' thocht o' fun and pleasant jape 
And comic antics o' the ape. 
But when, next day, he sought joyance, 
The beastie clean refus'd to dance ; 
The cratur seem'd to whinge * and pine, 
* To whine. 



208 THE ABBEY TALES 

It wadna tak' the proffer'd nuts, 
But cower'd close behind the butts 
That held the French and Spanish wine. 
It was the same next day, and next ; 
The righteous sowl o' Tim was vex'd, 
The ape did naethin' guid or bad, 
But rested silent, sullen, sad. 



The sixth day brought the sailor man. 
Before again he sail'd the main 
He wish'd to see his ape again. 
And Tim to tell his woes began. 
The sailor heard the monk's complent, 
Then doon the cellar stair he went. 
" Hoots, man/' quo' he, " I'll soon unfauld 
The cause o' this the beastie's cauld ; 
A man wad freeze in sic a den. 
Ye'll hae to gi'e him licht and air, 
And lodge him somewhere up the stair, 
He comes frae sunny lands ye ken." 
But Tim declar'd it couldna be ; 
The abbey laws, he said, were strick, 
And a' sic pets were interdick. 
It must stay under lock and key ; 
The cratur must be kept conceal'd, 
And a' his tricks and antics droll 
Be for his ain divarsion, sole. 
His presence maunna be reveal'd. 
"Weel then," the sailor man he says, 
" Ye'll hae to mak' the beastie claes. 
He needs a dacent cutty * goon, 
Yer ain auld duds will do, cut doon." 
Tim brocht an anshent gabardine 
* Short. 



FRIAR JOHN 209 

That he for years and years had worn, 
A' faded, stain'd it was, and torn, 
And, truth to tell ye, no' sae clean ; 
But frae its ample raggedness 
They made the starvit ape a dress, 
Sark, goon, and girdle a' complete, 
And warm and strang I won't say neat. 
The beastie made a dacent monk, 
And then in Malmsey, clear and fine, 
That grand auld emperor o' wine, 
"The latest brither's health" was drunk. 

For next six weeks or maybe mair, 

Guid Brither Tim's fat sides were sair 

Wi' laughin' at the tricks and japes 

O' this, the cleverest o' apes. 

It was his custom (that is Tim's) 

What time the friars sang their hymns 

To slip awa' to meditate, 

Awa' doon by the cellar stair ; 

It was sae calm and quiet there, 

He introspected, as I state. 

It was indeed a lov'd retreat 

And fit for meditation sweet, 

Where cobwebb'd butts o' guidly wines 

Were rang'd in lang imposin' lines. 

Tim's heart was wi' them weel he kent 

Their names and dates and sweet content. 

And here, wi' never need for book, 

He sperritual comfort took. 

Ae day it was the end o' May 
A calm, sweet, peacefu' simmer day, 
But het as weel, the hettest thing 
Ye ken o' day to mak' ye fling 



210 THE ABBEY TALES 

Your duds and trimmin's here and there, 

Behind, before you, anywhere, 

Until there but remains the sark, 

The last dud dacency requires, 

Nae maitter how a man perspires. 

A day when cellars, cool and dark, 

And liquids, amber-tint or red, 

Are things by mortals much desir'd. 

On this, a warm day as I said, 

Tim to his cellar had retir'd. 

He heard the monkey shake its chain, 

'Twas peggit to a big flat stane ; 

And, in a mood compassionate 

And marcifu', he slipp'd the pegs 

To let the cratur stretch its legs, 

And then commenc'd to meditate. 

Wi' gentle mien and look benign 

He drew a pint or sae o' wine, 

And put it in a guid safe place. 

He then repeated that, in case 

The first should feel a wee bit shy 

Wi' naethin' o' its kin near by. 

Then, next, he tried anither kind 

To see if it were weel refin'd ; 

As was maist fit and requisite 

He held it up against the light, 

And look'd on it when it was red, 

And brocht it, gently, near his head 

To see if it wad stand the test 

O' guid and safe and proper drink, 

And then I think, I awmost think, 

He put it whaur he put the rest, 

And smack'd his lips and rubb'd his wame 

And tried anither o' the same. 



FRIAR JOHN 211 

He wasna parfit even then, 

And sae he tried it ow'r again. 

His sense o' duty now was stirr'd 

(May we a' duty's ca' obey), 

To try the lot he did essay. 

And then a cur'ous thing occurr'd : 

It might ha' been an elfish charm, 

Or that the Spanish was too sweet ; 

It might ha', simply, been the heat 

The day, as I remark'd, was warm. 

Again, I oft ha' heard declare, 

There's sperrit in a cellar air. 

Tim may ha' felt it ower strang, 

Or meditated ower lang, 

At any rate, the truth constrains 

Me to admit the fack remains. 

By one, or a' o' these, or some, 

Tim was, we'll ca' it, owercome ; 

And when his senses cam' again 

He found, to his surprise and pain, 

The ape had play'd a shabby trick, 

Had ta'en advantage o' his state, 

To be exack the reprobate 

Had vamoos'd hook'd it cut his stick. 

Strange tales and stories now began 

To pass about frae man to man. 

The anshent abbot in his bed 

Heard sounds uncanny, so 'twas said. 

Some, worthy o' belief, averr'd 

By them the sound o' steps was heard. 

That might be rats, but how explain 

The rattle o' an iron chain ? 

Sae terrors dark the monks opprest, 

Vague stories gather'd thick and fast 

Until a story cam' at last 



212 THE ABBEY TALES 

Mair circumstantial than the rest. 

A brither, passin' doon to pray'rs, 

Just when the daylight 'gan to wane, 

Heard footsteps and the sound o' chain, 

Distinkly clinkin' on the stairs. 

It was THE THING, as he surmis'd, 

And while he waited, paralys'd, 

Alang the corridor it slunk, 

Dress' d in the habit o' a monk. 

He watch'd the fearfu' thing move on, 

Straight to the cell o' Friar John ; 

It enter' d then he heard again, 

Distink, the rattle o' a chain. 

Then by cam' Friar John himsel' ; 

He warn'd him what was in his cell, 

But John the fearless didna care, 

He walkit straightway to the door, 

Keek'd in and a' aboot the floor, 

And cried back there was naethin' there ; 

But one thing he could not explain, 

The lamp was s?vi?igin' on the chain, 

The rowlin' story differs frae 

The rowlin' stane, it gathers moss ; 

And this tale didna suffer loss 

In passin' roon' frae day to day. 

The puir bit ape (for it was he) 

Was ten feet high (he was but three), 

He had a red-hot forkit tail 

(The cratur had nae tail ava, 

Or, if he had, it was but sma'), 

He had a scaly coat o' mail, 

He was, to put it gently, lame, 

He spat out sulphur, fire, and flame. 

As nae man kenn'd about the ape 



FRIAR JOHN 213 

But Tim, ye needna be surpris'd 
That frighten'd haily men devis'd 
These betterments to size and shape, 
And time, they thought, wad soon reveal, 
Wha he was aifter, he the weel, 
They do say that his residence 
Is weel embellishit wi' flames. 
Fegs na I winna mention names, 
Then naebody can tak' offence. 

And Tim weel, first, it was, he thocht, 
The ape that a' this fuss had wrocht, 
But when the beast that made him sport 
Was sae embellish'd by report 
He felt, my frien', as you wad feel, 
No' far located frae the weel 
I said, and I'll repeat the same, 
I see nae need to name a name. 
But just to put ye on the track 
Whisper he's maistly painted black. 
I ought to dig your ribs j ust here, 
And purse my lips and scart my ear, 
Say humph, and ask ye if ye twigg'd. 
I canna dig your ribs in prent, 
Sae for the deed ye'll tak' intent, 
And please consider that ye're digg'd. 

That night that Tim lay " owercome " 
And prostrate on the cellar floor, 
The ape soon found the open door 
And left his " meditatin' " chum. 
He keekit here, he keekit there, 
He made a rattle on the stair, 
Then, bolder grown, he wander'd on, 
And found the cell o' Friar John. 



214 THE ABBEY TALES 

He enter'd, saw sic bonnie things, 

The inks and colour pots in nooks, 

The leather for the backs o' books, 

The rowls o' pairchmeiits tied wi' strings. 

He found the friar's supper spare, 

And as his inner pairts were bare 

The puir bit supper was annex'd. 

(He had nae conscience to be vex'd, 

'Deed may ha' thought for his behoof 

Some kindly hand had spread the meal.) 

His next idea was to spiel * 

The lamp-chain hangin' frae the roof, 

Awa' up 'mang the baulks and beams 

To the delighted ape it seems 

Like climbin' in his native trees. 

And if he didna ken to say 

Wi' some auld chap, " I'm here, I stay," 

He did stay roostin' at his ease. 

Here days pass'd by o' great delight 
(Nae doot it will be clear to you, 
I tak' the monkey's point o' view ; 
The monks were nearly dead wi' fright), 
Up in the roof beams stoot and strang, 
He watch'd the monk the hale day lang, 
And when the friar left the cell 
H slither'd doon and help'd himsel' 
To anything that sparkled bright, 
Or satisfied his appetite 
Wi' somethin' frae the friar's plate. 
'Deed where and how his meat had gone 
Was wonder now to Friar John. 
His cry for food was never great, 
And sic sma' modicum he ate 
* Climb. 



FRIAR JOHN 215 

He had it sent him in his den, 

And took a mouthfu' now and then. 

But since an ape, unkenn'd, unseen, 

Amenable to nae reproof, 

Had ta'en up lodgin's in his roof, 

The puir man's plate was maistly clean 

And bites were few and far between. 

Puir starvit John ! he lov'd too weel 

His paints and colour pots to feel 

The achin' void, the vacuum, 

The hollowness that sure wad come 

To your intarior, friend, or mine, 

If we on fruit and bread should dine. 

And if the share o' fruit and bread 

Requir'd to keep our wames in shape 

Were taken by a thievin' ape 

To fill his ain wame out, instead. 

Puir John, puir man, his sunken cheek 

Grew daily whiter, he mair weak, 

And daily the onchristian ape 

Grew mair and mair rotund in shape. 

By day he dwalt amang the beams, 

By night, when John was dreamin' dreams, 

He slippit doon the chain wi' ease 

And took some needed exerceese, 

Climbin' ere dawn to roost again. 

And haily men were fill'd wi' dread 

And rowl'd onaisily in bed ; 

At every rattle o' the chain 

Or noise he made in search o' grub 

Their big fat sides wi' terror shook 

For fear they should be brocht to book ; 

(They thocht it was Beelzebub). 



216 THE ABBEY TALES 



It was a gospel nobly writ, 

For hand o' king or emp'ror fit ; 

In troth it was a blessit sight, 

That book wi' a' its walth o' hue, 

The goold, the purple, and the blue, 

The wee sma' letters black as night, 

The big ones like the P and Q, 

Wi' saints and angels keekin' thro' 

And endin' off in claws, or nails, 

Or heads, or legs, or twisty tails. 

Och man ! it was a sight to see 

The great tremenjous letter B 

That started the Beatitudes. 

Ye saw inside the upper hoop 

Or, mair correckly, maybe, loop, 

A couple o' bare naked nudes, 

The parents o' the human race 

In state o' innocence and grace, 

And chattin' cosy as ye please 

In Eden, underneath the trees. 

Then in the lower loop ye had 

Anither chapter as it were ; 

Ye saw the same unfortnit pair, 

Nae langer innocent, but clad 

(They had nae breeks or sarks wi' sleeves, 

But just wee waistbands made wi' leaves), 

Chas'd by revolvin' swords and knives, 

And scuddin' for their very lives. 

Och ! 'twas the finest book, I think, 

That e'er was writ wi' pen and ink, 

And John the writer, wi' a pang, 

To think this triumph o' his hands 

Should gang awa' to foreign lands, 

Gaz'd at it lovin'ly and lang. 



FRIAR JOHN 217 

Soon frae a draw'r the seal he drew 

That seal'd and sign'd each copy true, 

A jewell'd ring o' matchless price, 

Wi' rich red stane that glow'd like flame, 

Engravit wi' the friar's name 

In strange and intricate device. 

It was the custom wi' this mark 

To seal and sign the friar's wark, 

That rais'd to sic repute his name 

And brocht the abbey wealth and fame. 

This was a noble count's command, 

Two years the gospel was in hand, 

The end had awmost come too soon. 

The friar laid the jewel doon, 

Again wi' lovin' hands uptook 

The glorious 'luminated book 

Just fmish'd there that very night ; 

His two years' labour and delight, 

His two years' life it might be said, 

The godly friar bow'd his head. 

" My thanks accept, O Lord," quo' he, 

" For strength to do this wark for Thee ; 

The head, the heart, the hands are mine, 

But Thou hast made them I am thine ; 

This be my rich reward and fee, 

Thy blessin' on my wark and me." 

This was his fu' and parfit wage ; 

The lamp by lang black chain and hook 

Hung ow'r the table and the book, 

And lit the gilded pictur'd page. 

Awa' up 'mang the beams ow'rhead 
The monkey saw the seal and ring ; 
He thocht, " I wish I had that thing." 
The boiinie jewel sparkled red. 



218 THE ABBEY TALES 

If but the monk wad gang to bed, 

He soon wad slither doon the chain 

And mak' the bonnie thing his aiu. 

But, though the midnight hour was nigh, 

The monk show'd nae desire to lie ; 

His hand the gilded page caress'd, 

Not yet had he the seal impressed ; 

It lay beside the bonnie book, 

And glow'd and glimmer' d, trembled, shook, 

It sparkled like a bit o' fire, 

And rais'd to flame the ape's desire. 

He couldna wait his brain I wis 

Had somethin' o' a thocht like this : 

" I'll ha' to get that plaything soon. 

I wonder if I drappit doon, 

Just drapt like lightnin' doon the chain, 

Wad I ha' time to grab the stane 

Before that cratur ca'd a man 

Could catch me ? 'Deed I think I can. 

I'll try it anyway Here goes." 

He did not think it weel, I s'pose, 

To gi'e his courage time to damp, 

Or fash wi' doots his wee bit brain ; 

He slid like lightnin' doon the chain, 

Right doon atop the burnin' lamp, 

Put oot his paw and grabb'd the seal ; 

He gave a most tremenjous squeal, 

A yell that tell't o' fear and pain, 

And tore up to his perch again. 



A moment pass'd the monk was gone 
His wild shriek rent the midnight air, 
And he had fled nae monk knew where, 
Nane heard again o' Friar John. 



FRIAR JOHN 21p 

Ye'll maybe think it right to ax 
Some explanation o' the facks 
Narrated in the last ten lines, 
And 'deed my judgment, too, inclines 
To try the hail thing to explain 
And mak' the story clear and plain. 
Then, first and foremost, we ha' found 
What time the ape the thievish scamp 
Sat doon upon the burnin' lamp, 
He gi'ed oot nae onsartain sound. 
The case o' nae disproof admits, 
An ape's no' fireproof where he sits, 
Nae mair than are the rest o' us, 
And that is why he made the fuss. 
I ought to mention here, I feel, 
His coat was badly burn'd as weel, 
And as for John why he was skeer'd 
And why he shriek'd and disappear'd. 
Weel, my bit theory is this 
The man was weak, he couldna miss, 
But be unslept and underfed. 
He grudg'd the minutes spent in bed, 
And as for what he had to eat, 
Ye ken the ape had ta'en the meat. 
This must ha' meant, I say again, 
A weaken'd body, weaken'd brain. 
Then, too, O horrible ! the deil 
(He thocht 'twas he) had ta'en his seal. 
A seal stands for the man himsel', 
Wi' it his wishes he can tell, 
Confirm and end what he wad say, 
And puir John thought ye winna scoff- 
He thocht the Lord had cast him off, 
And signified the same this way. 



220 THE ABBEY TALES 

Was't wonder in his agony 
He cried that loud and bitter cry, 
And frae the abbey took his flight 
Out into darkness into night ? 



in 

When on the midnight air the cries 
O' John and o' the ape rang clear, 
The monks shook in their beds wi' fear, 
But some had courage left to rise. 
They sought the painter friar's cell, 
And this is what they had to tell 
The book, complete except the mark, 
Lay on the table, clear and plain, 
The lamp was swingin' on its chain 
And burnin' strangely low and dark. 
The monk was gone they ca'd his name 
A dizzen times nae answer came. 
There was a singit, scorchit smell 
(The ape had burn'd his woollen goon), 
There was a sort o' groanin' soon' 
(The ape bemoanin' o' himsel'), 
The fack, they thocht, was clear as day, 
But mair they wadna like to say ; 
The brethren kenn'd as weel as you 
The way to add up two and two. 

The abbot and a few auld men 
In solemn conclave met at ten 
To sift the maitter thro' and thro' 
And settle what they ocht to do. 
And when their lang confab was din 
They ca'd the congregation in. 



FRIAR JOHN 221 

" Brethren," the abbot said, " we feel 

That this is nae wee trump'ry deil ; 

Indeed, frae a' that is to tell, 

We think the veesit's frae himsel*. 

If that is sae, to get him hence 

Will be a maitter o' expense ; 

Some things to borrow we can try, 

But ither things we'll ha' to buy. 

To Bangor abbey we will send, 

And ask the brethren there to lend 

Some relics, hair or tooth or limb 

O' saints that fought and conquer' d him. 

We'll use these relics wi' oor ain ; 

We'll need, at least, a quarter stane 

O' incense, very finely ground, 

O' guid wax can'les, forty pound, 

O' poodhered amber, what wad lie 

On shillin' piece if heapit high. 

And then it winna be far wrang 

O' haily water, fresh and strang, 

To ha' onlimited supply. 

We'll ha' to borrow, too, a bell, 

Our ain is crackit since it fell, 

And then there will be said or sung 

Some stiff things in the Latin tongue. 

O' coorse he may be satisfeed 

Wi' what he's got, and sae nae need 

For these arrangements will arise ; 

But lest he should disturb wi' cries, 

Or try to demonstrate again 

Wi' burnin' smell or clinkin' chain, 

Or try to fright us wi' a squeak, 

We'll ha' things ready this day week. 



222 THE ABBEY TALES 



IV 



It was the set appointed date, 

Arrangements were in for'ard state. 

The relics auld for which they sent 

To Bangor abbey had been lent. 

And a' the other things were there, 

The fumigatin' incense rare, 

The bells, o' shape baith roon' and square, 

The books wi' skin and leather backs, 

The can'les o' the finest wax, 

The amber rich to cleanse the air, 

The Latin frae the dictionaire 

In fearsome shape was ready too, 

And water blest, three buckets fu', 

To splashify the wa's and floor 

Was sittin' in the corridor. 

Preceesely at the hour o' ten 
The abbot went to meet his men. 
But no* a monk was at the cell. 
Each had decided for himsel'. 
It might be just as weel to wait 
And let the cleansin' wark commence, 
Then a' bein' safe, on some pretence 
He could excuse his bein' late. 
Nae doot it was a grand idee 
To be ahint the rest a wee, 
It meant escape if ocht went wrang ; 
But then, ye see, the hail jing-bang 
Had plann'd exack the very same ! 
And sae they a' thegither came 
Just twenty minutes past the time, 
To get a scoldin' for the crime. 



FRIAR JOHN 223 

" Ye're never late, folks, at your meals/' 

The abbot said. " Ye ne'er-do-weels." 

He order' d them to hurry in 

And get things ready to begin. 

He tell't them where to stand, themsel's, 

And where they were to place the bells ; 

He minded them they maun succeed 

Wi' a' they possibly could need, 

The relics o' the saints at rest, 

The incense o' the very best, 

The can'les and the amber-dust, 

But specially he put his trust 

On two ill-shapen Latin words 

O' maist extr'or'nar' pow'r and speed, 

By anshent writers guaranteed 

To bring doon deils like hawk-struck birds. 

Noo that they're gettin' things in shape, 
We'll say a word aboot the ape. 
Before he cam' amang the monks 
He oft had slept in sailors' bunks; 
'Twas naethin' new for him to creep 
Amang the blankets for a sleep, 
And sae since Friar John had fled, 
He took possession o' the bed. 
He spent the night in prowlin' roon', 
Lay doon at dawn and slept till noon. 
The bed did I no' tell ye that 
'Twas at the end ye enter'd at ? 
Just in the corner to your right, 
The farthest corner frae the light. 

The monks had crushit thro' the door, 
It wasna wide nae doot o' that, 
Fu' forty monks, and maistly fat, 
Wi' a' their exorcism' lore. 



224 THE ABBEY TALES 

But two were missin' one was Tim, 
'Tis what ye wad expect frae him. 
Had he been there to see the ape 
Things might ha' ta'en a dhTrent shape. 
But he was firm convinc'd and sure 
That some one used to temp'rature 
Higher than that this climate boasts 
O' late was visitin' their coasts. 
He thocht (and I think rightly too), 
Supposin' that these tales were true, 
The farther he could keep frae him 
The better it wad be for Tim. 
And sae, as he kenn'd how to do, 
He coin'd the story that a coo 
Was sick in some far distant byre ; 
Which gi'es occasion here to say 
That, in a figurative way, 
He was a fit son o' his sire. 
The only ither man no' there 
Was Gilbert and his foot was sair. 
The ape was in the friar's bed 
And sleepin' as the sleepin' dead ; 
His corpus, frae the heid to taes, 
Weel rowl'd up underneath the claes. 
And if the blankets met their gaze 
As they pass'd in, these monks sedate 
Thocht naethin' o' their touzled state. 
They little kenn'd that 'neath the heap 
Their deil was lyin' fast asleep. 
The can'les, forty pound, lang threes, 
Were rang'd in order and ableeze. 
The recitation and the chant 
Proceeded, tremblin' first a wee, 
Till frae a' interruption free 
They grew mair loud and jubilant. 



FRIAR JOHN 225 

The voices rowl'd, and growl'd, and tore, 

And thunder'd, threaten'd, curs'd, and swore, 

Doon to the nether regions' door. 

'Twas evident that he was skeer'd, 

If no* why had he no' appear'd ? 

And sae they wark'd wi' might and main, 

The doups blew out and lit again, 

The incense in the censers swung, 

The big bells and the sma' were rung ; 

The de'il was daur'd to do his warst, 

And a' made sure he was dispars'd. 

The ape was wauken'd wi' the din, 
He put his heid oot to the chin ; 
I needn't say he was surprees'd, 
The haill ten dizzen can'les bleez'd. 
And forty monks, their backs to him, 
Were strainin' voice and wind and limb ; 
Och, what the mischief could it mean ? 
He couldna tell, but thocht, I know, 
It was a maist attractive show, 
A maist refin'd, divartin' scene. 
He sat up fully, greatly pleas'd, 
Some irritation then, I s'pose, 
Or whiff o' incense caught his nose, 
At any rate he cough'd and sneez'd. 
The monks a' turn'd 

I hae nae pen 

To paint ye just what happen'd then. 
If but the prenter wad leave clear 
Some twa or three clean pages here 
Ye could then fill in for yersel' 
Far mair than I hae pow'r to tell. 
The fiend, the awfu' human shape, 
Wi' diabolic countenance 
Stood up and mock'd them wi' a dance, 
And finish'd wi' a bow and scrape. 



226 THE ABBEY TALES 

He mock'd at the attempted ban, 
He mock'd them in the shape o' man, 
He mock'd them in their monkish dress, 
And then, wi' hellish wickedness, 
A burnt hole show'd in his attire, 
Suggestin' baith the PIT and FIRE ! 

sure ye'll pity their dismay, 
They came to disparse him, and they, 
Puir craturs, were dispars'd theirsel's. 
They say their fearfu' cries and yells, 
Heart-rendin', fearsome, horrific, 
Were heard twa mile alang the shore. 
The myst'ry is how one sma' door 
Let forty fat monks out sae quick. 

The elders, in despair and gloom, 
Met, once again, in Lindric's room, 
And one, the anshentest auld man, 
Gi'ed his opeenion and a plan. 
" The deefficulty was nae met," 
Quo' he, "because we didna get 
The Latin words in soon enough." 
(The twa I tell't ye were sae tough.) 
" The haily water, too," quo' he, 
Was sair negleckit, ye'll agree ; 

1 saw it as I left the door 
Still ootside in the corridor. 

Noo what I wad adveese this time 
Is this o' coorse I may be wrang 
Get in twa masons, stoot and strang, 
Wi' plenty o' guid stane and lime, 
And pile it in the corridor ; 
Then some o' us, nae need for a', 
Will rowl the Latin tight and sma', 
And fling it thro' the open door, 



FRIAR JOHN 227 

Then wi' the door still open wide, 

I'd lash the haily water thro', 

The haill three blessit buckets fu', 

And never put a foot inside. 

I then wad mak' the masons start 

And build the door up, quick and smart. 

Then see that naebody gangs by 

The door or any places nigh 

Till guid twal' days are at your back, 

To gi'e the vartue time to ack." 

The scheme was weel approv'd. The stane 

And lime were carried in that night, 

Next day the door was built up tight, 

And never open'd once again. 

A fortnight later a' was right, 

Nae langer soon's disturb'd the night ; 

The abbot saw wi' thankfulness 

The scheme was crownit wi' success, 

Had acted perfeck 'twas agreed. 

And why ? Because the ape was deid. 

Sure never was there sic a stour 

Rais'd by a puir caricature, 

Or copy o' the human shape, 

A puir, onclean, onseemly ape. 

Built up there in the friar's cell, 

He tried a while to feed himsel' 

On doups and took 'mang ither things, 

To fill his stamach's achin' void, 

Three rowls o' pairchment wi' the strings, 

This brought on paralgeminoid 

O' the marcuriopticise, 

Th' immediate cause o' his demise. 



228 THE ABBEY TALES 

Which sad event, I may here say 
Took place on the eleventh day, 
Preceesely at the hour o' four, 
And close ahint the built-up door. 
Ye needna wonder that I ken 
Just what he died o', where, and when. 
A man that stories tells or sings 
Has private ways o' larnin' things. 

And what became o' Friar John ? 

This was the question occupied 

The minds o' many far and wide, 

As days and months and years roll'd on. 

Some held to it thro' thick and thin, 

He had committed mortal sin ; 

And on that night he disappear'd 

He was to nether regions steer' d 

By him, ye ken, that clank'd the chain, 

And sae was never seen again. 

Ithers there were, and no' a few 

That took direck the contrar' view. 

" Frae ill," they said, " the Lord on high 

Doth some translat, they dinna die." 

The facks are, readers, kenn'd by you, 

But that which follows may be new. 

Far frae the scene o' this my tale 

A tall thin man and deathly pale 

Was on the roadside found as deid. 

The winter had come on wi' speed, 

The earth was iron-bound and dry, 

Held in by ice's prison bars, 

And crystaleez'd and frozen stars 

W T ere winkin' in the cauld black sky. 

And he that found the famish'd wight 

Was smit wi' pity at his plight. 



FRIAR JOHN 229 

He bore him in his strang airms hame, 
And there the puir, stiff, famish'd frame 
Revivit in the warmth and light ; 
The stranger's looks were worn and wild, 
Yet was he gentle as a child. 
He stay'd wi' his kind hosts a wee, 
And while he rested they could see 
The Lord had bless' d them for the sake 
O' him wha wi' them did partake. 
As He in David's time did mark 
Wi' His esteem by gains profuse, 
The guid auld Obed-edom's hoose, 
Because he entertain'd the ark. 
When he was ask'd his name to say, 
He ca'd himself " The Castaway." 
And here in these lone pairts for years 
He shar'd the poorer people's tears ; 
Were any sick, he wept and pray'd, 
He comforted were any deid, 
And when they shelter gave or breid 
He little took nor lang time stay'd, 
But aye mov'd on and on and on : 
And I believe that nameless soul 
That scorn'd not peasant hame or dole, 
Was Prince wi' God and FRIAR JOHN. 



XIV 

BLETHERS 

LET us consider the subject of blethers after the manner of 
the old divines, with a prelusive inquiry into the origin of the 
word, a divisional treatment of the corpus of the study, and 
such laudatory remarks on the virtues of judicious fooling as 
may correspond to the application of the old preachment. 
Objection may be taken to this order of consideration as 
placing the horse's head where his tail should be : on the 
plea that description of a thing and of its uses should pre- 
cede the finding of a derivation for its name. The answer to 
such objection is that he who knows a subject from tail to 
head knows it equally from head to tail. 

The difficulty in this inquiry is to discover the primary 
sense of the word. Let us search the vocabularies of old and 
cognate tongues for a parent to our blether. The Icelandic 
bletr is a splash. Is this the word we seek, making the 
blether person a splasher, and blethers his noisy, untactful 
sayings and doings ? Or have the ages added an " r " to the 
Anglo-Saxon bleetha, an eruption, the blether being the man 
or the thing that irritated like an itch ? In the same lan- 
guage blithr means gay, merry, and force is given to argu- 
ments in favour of this as the early blether by the fact 
that the English still say " blithering idiot " where we say 
" blethering fool." But whereas the English form has, long 
ago, parted with all trace of primary meaning, and conveys 
only the idea of incompetence and folly, Ulster " blethering " 

231 



232 BLETHERS 

stands yet for the occasional and deliberate merry abandon 
of the sane as well as for the unconscious silliness of the 
silly. Some, and they are learned, give our word the same 
root as that of the Danish bloese, meaning to blow, to sound 
as a trumpet, to noise abroad, to proclaim, and it is true that 
the blether person blows, sounds a trumpet (his own), noises 
abroad, and proclaims. Others, again, make the word an 
imitative one, saying that blethering is the old blaetan, a 
bleating, and the blether a bleater, a maker of noise con- 
tinuous, and, to the ears of men, aimless and senseless. 
William de Shoreham uses the word bleddre where we would 
write blunder, and this bleddre of his may well be ours, for 
the blether (man) is more often than not a blunderer. 

There are philologists who look not to the cold north and 
west, but to the warm east for our word's origin. The thing 
signified, they say, existed from the very beginning, and they 
trace the word that signifies to distant places and very early 
times. In Arabic the word balagh means to be eloquent. If 
you wish to pronounce it correctly you must rattle the " gh " 
quickly like a guttural " r." Try this several times as fast as 
you can and see if you have not the old familiar " blether " 
on your tongue. Now by a process common in language a 
word denoting quality may take a secondary meaning denot- 
ing the quality in excess. " Soft " is an example. There is 
nothing derogatory in speaking of a person as of soft, gentle 
character ; such an one may be rigid at a time to be rigid. 
Say that he is " soft " and you mean that he is too soft, men- 
tally invertebrate, senseless. In balagh, then, you have not 
only the sound but the sense of blether, for what better 
describes the blether than the word carrying the meaning of 
too eloquent ? But if we go to Arabia, preference should 
perhaps be given to a derivation from balat, a paving stone. 
The connection appears to be very remote ; it is not really 
so. In Ulster it is common for a person to profess that he 
has been " knocked down " by a statement. The "taller" 



BLETHERS 233 

or more blethering the statement the more likely is it to 
knock one down. A paving stone is a handy thing with 
which to knock down. Balat is a paving stone, and balat, 
figuratively, is the blether that knocks down, floors, flabber- 
gasts. Let us travel still further. 

The doubtful authority of Quinapalus may be cited in 
favour of derivation from a very ancient eastern word meaning 
leaves, and, figuratively, the light and unfruitful in conduct 
and character. The same audacious (and doubtful) authority 
would have us to accept the statement that this ancient 
word was sounded, as nearly as possible, as we pronounce 
blethers, and it is pointed out that the word for leaves in 
some languages still with us has very nearly the same sound 
(German blatter). The reader who receives this may not 
find it difficult to believe that the word and its sounding 
come from the cradle of our race from the place where 
leaves were the things most numerous and noticeable the 
Garden of Eden. What more natural than that the fruit- 
less, nothing but leaves, should appear to our fruit-eating 
parents as fittest figure for the impractical or useless in 
speech and conduct, the show without the substance, the 
unfruitful in talk or action. The word may have lived without 
change from Eden to our time, possibly because of woman's 
frequent use of and fondness for it. In historic times wives 
have frequently met the closely-reasoned arguments of hus- 
bands by the one word " blethers," and the writer referred 
to holds it more than probable that after many a discourse 
of the patient Adam, the same word, full of the same idea, 
fell from the playful lips of Eve. 

Let not such wonderful antiquity for this Ulster word be 
deemed an impossibility. The Marquis of Dufferin took 
from an Egyptian tomb many thousands of years old, a 
stonecutter's mallet identical in size and shape with those 
in daily use at the present time. Persistence of sound and 
idea are not more remarkable than persistence of form, and 



234 BLETHERS 

the word may be a great exception, one, perhaps the only 
one, which has travelled changeless through the ages, the 
only one we hear which the roses of Eden heard. 

It would be improper to conceal the fact that these sug- 
gested origins find little favour in the eyes of some persons 
reputed to be sensible. They apply the term we are discussing 
to such researches as have occupied our attention ; holding, 
in this case, all wandering through ancient or distant fields 
to be unnecessary and superfluous. They say that the word 
is very near us ; is, in fact, " bladder," standing primarily 
for the simple allantois of the calf or pig, a thing of the 
market value of fourpence, such sum belonging by prescrip- 
tive right to the children of the house to which the beast 
belonged. And they say that such object, distended with 
air, looking large with little weight, used for blows that do 
not hurt, and making with a few dried peas a tremendous 
noise, stands figuratively for the person or speech or char- 
acter showy and specious but deficient in weight and serious- 
ness. It remains for the reader, from materials here supplied, 
to select such derivation of the word as may please him best, 
while we proceed to discourse, under heads, on that for 
which the word stands. As a noun the word may be singular 
or plural, and there is a verb " to blether." 

Firstly, there are blethers who are persons. The blether 
is a fool, but as the children said of Jamie Hunter, "no' a 
muckle one " ; he is a fool with flickerings of sense. A nice 
understanding of the term as applied to a person carries 
rather more the idea of his overmuch and tactless speaking 
than of unwisdom in his acts. The blether may indeed walk 
circumspectly, but his speech bewrayeth him. An "ould 
blether " is not necessarily a person of advanced years ; the 
qualifying power of the adjective not being in the line of 
antiquity. The addition gives enlargement, and the "ould 
blether " is simply a bigger fool than his unqualified brother. 
Overmuch wisdom in the voice is almost as bad as too little, 



BLETHERS 235 

for be a man never so wise, if his talk is not understanded 
of the people he is a blether to them. Carlyle was a blether ; 
so, too, was Ruskin. 

Secondly, there are the blethers of the blether, the acts 
and sayings and possibly even the property, of one who is a 
fool in any degree. To this class belong the airs put on by 
madam because the cousin of her aunt's half-sister is married 
to the brother of a baronet, the pretensions to boredom and 
man-of-the worldism of turnip-headed youth, the complacent 
self-gratulation of the conceited, the fatuous vapourings of 
the blockhead. The inanimate may be blether by relation, 
as in the case of apparatus and instruments owned by a 
gentleman who thought himself scientific when his neigh- 
bours rated him soft-headed. The rain-gauges, anemometers, 
and other things attached to his house were always known 
to the world adjacent as "his blethers." And the inanimate 
may be blether by inefficiency ; example, the patented (and 
ineffective) horticultural appliances of a certain noble lord, 
admittedly no fool, which appliances were invariably termed 
by the gardening staff " his lordship's blethers." 

Thirdly, There are the blethers of love. The class is 
large, and includes endearing expressions, letters, kisses, 
embraces, hand-pressures and any or every manifestation 
of love, spurious or genuine. The applicability of the word 
is however regulated by the attitude of the person using it. 
Ann Jane, feeling the arm of William round her waist and 
doubtful of the seriousness of his intentions, repulses him with 
"Nane of your blethers." Let William prove his sincerity 
and Ann Jane be willing, she will no longer apply the term 
to sweet words and the contact of loving hands and faces ; 
but to Ann Jane's brother, aged sixteen, these and the long- 
drawn-out partings he witnesses in the gloaming remain 
" blethers " of the rankest description. 

Fourthly and lastly, there are the blethers of sanity. 
Round every one of us is a wall, more or less high, of the 



236 BLETHERS 

artificial and conventional, and inside it we tramp round and 
round, bearing our burdens and feeling within us all the time 
the instinct of an old freedom, an instinct that may date from 
the days when the vestigial coccyx was a thing to wave 
gracefully. Whether we have upward climbed from ape, or 
dropped from angel down, this is certain, that our progenitors 
of a long way back lived a life freer and less complex than 
ours. In trees or in the ether they disported, and stirrings 
from their time move us even now as we march in tracks, 
harnessed to the awful things we have discovered or invented, 
and serve the gods of business or profession which our own 
hands have created. And when the wall seems to be higher 
than usual, the harness and load heavier and the gods more 
exacting, we stop, we kick, we reverse, we decline to serve. 
The pure fool is free and knows not law, and we for our 
saving become amateur fools, and for a while, in some way 
that hurts not ourselves or others, play a fool's tricks. Acts 
that hurt the person or dignity, our own or of others, are not 
allowable. Mr. Sutherland Edwards in his reminiscences 
tells of one Bower, of Paris, who, stirred by the common 
instinct of humanity to spurn the fetters of convention, went 
up to two respectable ladies who were sitting in a carriage 
before a stationer's shop, gravely pinched the leg of one, and 
then bowing gracefully, retired. On another occasion, seeing 
a very pompous-looking old gentleman in the street, he 
seized him by the back of the neck and the widest part of 
his trousers, and ran him briskly along the pavement for 
fifty yards. Then he raised his hat, bowed, and went away. 
However satisfying these exercises may have been to Mr. 
Bower, they must have caused surprise and pain to the 
persons who participated involuntarily, and are therefore to 
be classed as "larks." They are not the blethers of sanity, 
harmless, necessary, hygienic. 

To the virtues and varieties of sane blethers no number 
can be set. After a suitable exercise the whole system is 



BLETHERS 237 

new-strung, the physical, mental, and spiritual are strength- 
ened and invigorated, the sight is cleared, and surrounding 
objects take their true form and perspective. The mountain 
that seemed to overhang retires to the background, the 
precipice becomes an easy slope, and the fierce lion of the 
way takes the air and proportions of a harmless ass. No 
physician is needed to prescribe a course, the patient must 
do that for himself. Generally speaking it is proper to do 
the improper, it is fit to do what is unfit for your position 
always innocently and harmlessly, of course. Be noisy, 
be quiet, be reckless, be "agin* the government," do the 
useless, the inconsequential, the ridiculous. Don't be 
virtuous, and you will be happy ; virtuous here has the 
sense of conventional. If reserve and solemn demeanour 
are associated with you, be, for a time, a merryandrew. 
If you are naturally noisemaking and talkative, look solemn 
and be silent for half-an-hour. You will chuckle internally. 
Many valuable exercises will require privacy if you do not 
wish to acquire practical knowledge of present-day treatment 
of the insane. If you are a person of no voice, the singing 
of a difficult operatic air is a very fine blether. For obvious 
reasons this exercise requires space, the top of a lonely 
mountain is good. Retire and reappear to bow at least 
seven times in response to imaginary calls. As you come 
down from the mountain your tread will be firmer, your 
mental cuticle will glow as glows the physical after a cold 
bath and; rough towel, your whole system has under- 
gone molecular change, and the bacillus of the blues, 
disgusted with his new environment, will alight from 
you as quickly as a man from the step of the wrong 
tramcar. Let the variety of your blether be suited to 
your occupation. Lawyers, wearied of whereases, aforesaids, 
hereditaments, reservations, heirs, executors, and assigns, 
sit down and write to a brother practitioner your opinion 
of him. Tell him he is a fool or a cheat, or both. Then 



238 BLETHERS 

seal your letter carefully and address it, and very carefully 
put it behind the fire. This is a very pleasant divertisement. 
Judges, sitting as gods, electrify the bar and recreate your- 
selves by asking explanations of things known to the normal 
child of three. That one of you recently asked in an Irish 
court for the meaning of the term " the ace of spades " 
shows that you "know your" blethers. Doctors, statesmen, 
teachers, men of trade, blethers are better for your anxieties 
than " hittin' a wee ba' over sand dunes/' or the turning 
of yourselves into pipe-stoves. It may be that one shall 
come to his blether with mind too troubled and anxious 
to permit of benefit from the exercise, as the stomach may 
come to the dinner without power to assimilate. In such 
cases it is desirable to procure a fitter frame of mind by 
the calm consideration of wise sequences of words designed 
to make us feel what small space and time are ours, how 
insignificant our variations, how little " it all " matters 
Marcus Aurelius is good, but what follows is perhaps better. 

Alpha Centauri is twenty-eight million million miles 
away, and is next door even at that. 

Duke, chemically analysed, shows a volume in the 
average body say eleven stones of H 2 O 50,500 grammes. 
Eleven stones of washerwoman is found to yield exactly same 
quantity of this constituent. 

The Sikeses were on the earth as soon as the Percys. 

Add a hundred years to your age, and, as far as this 
world's riches go, you are even with any man. 

A big man can live in a very small house. 

There is a public right-of-way to heaven. 

The sun will not rise earlier for your wedding nor delay 
his setting for your funeral. The river flowed on after 
Quidnunkis fell in. 

The beauty of the prescription is that it is fitted to be 
effective in exactly opposite states. The red inflammation 
of pride and the paralysis of poor spirit find their correctives. 



BLETHERS 239 

Are you a noble, a millionaire, a giant in intellect ? Alpha 
Centauri, the nearest thing outside your system is twenty-eight 
million million miles away, and, magnificent as it is, is but a 
bit of diamond dust on a strand of infinite creation. What 
then are you ? Are you a poor beggar whose heart palpi- 
tates as you are ushered into the presence of a fellow-man ? 
You are part of a creation to man inconceivably great ; there 
is a use for you or you would not have been made. Be 
abased then, proud man ; be stirred up, poor man. And 
both of you enjoy your blethers. And ye with the cure of 
souls, are ye debarred of access to the vivifying blether ? 
By no means. True, the tragedies of life are bared to you 
as they are not to other men. Much of your work is too 
solemn for association with even innocent folly. Recreative 
nonsense will not heal the broken heart ; the path of evil 
is not smoothed by it ; the gloom of the grave is not light- 
ened thereby. But ye are human ; for you there are ofttimes 
tired heads, sore hearts, and even wounded vanities, and, 
for these, blethers are a sovereign balm. To avoid even the 
appearance of evil it is proper to take your blethers with 
closed doors or in your own garden. Address your cabbages 
as dearly beloved brethren, and exhort them to growth in 
the right way and improvement in head and heart. Or as 
a subdued tone of clothing and conversation mark your 
daily life, a great relief may be found in a little impropriety 
of dress or speech. A very small boy, with too early hanker- 
ing after the knowledge of evil, begged his nurse to tell him 
some bad words. He wanted to know them, he said, so 
that he might avoid saying them. The girl might have told 
him that there was no fear of his saying what he did not 
know, but, wearied with his pertinacity, she said, "Oh, you 
mustn't say Tibby Jabs." Not long after he was refused 
permission, unjustly, he believed, to do something he wished 
to do, and in hot anger and rebellion he said he would do 
it in defiance of the powers, and to be yet more vile in 



240 BLETHERS 

authority's eyes he cried, " And I'll say Tibby Jabs, Tibby Jabs, 
Tibby Jabs, Tibby Jabs." Here, dear reverends, is a word to 
your hand innocent even to babes, and yet associated with 
revolt against cramping conditions. When wearied with the 
load of troubles, your own and other people's, retire to a 
garret, replace the collar of your priesthood by a large red 
tie, speak disrespectfully of the equator, say Tibby Jabs. 
Then reverse established order by putting your head and 
hands to the ground and your feet in the air. Or if by 
reason of your being what Dean Hole calls "a capacious 
gentleman " this movement should be attended by difficulty 
or danger, lie down on your back and fancy yourself the 
freed horse whose " iron-arm'd hoof gleam'd in the morning 
ray." Throw up your arms and heels and roll over from 
side to side. This is an exercise of most excellent quality, 
designed to take a pucker out of the brow and put it in 
the cheek, where it can do no harm. As a stay to arterial 
degeneration it has no equal. 

Pat has his trials and troubles ; he knows the joy of work, 
and knows, too, the weariness of it. When the burden is 
heavy, instinct calls to him to go out to the fields and gallop 
like a young foal or sit through the night in the open beside 
a fire of his kindling, a desire coming perhaps from the time 
when his progenitors dwelt not in ceiled houses. He may 
not do these things, for by them lies the road to the lunatic 
asylum. But, in a " Battle of Moyvore," he can conceive of 
six people wrestling for an hour on the top of a midden, of 
the "haythen gods" taking delight in such a row, of his 
reverence sitting in judgment on the aggressors, of an 
absurd claim for mitigation of damages, or he can address an 
ode to a fat man, and gravely explain what are the two kinds 
of hail all this without danger to his reputation for sanity 
and with great benefit to his (own) spirit. He knows the 
recuperative power of a fine blether, 

" Which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life." 



BLETHERS 241 



BLETHERS 

WHEN care his load o' trouble dumps 

And buries ye completely, 
And fortune gi'es unkindly thumps 

Where ance she smilit sweetly. 
Och dinna let them see ye greet, 

They baith hae got their tethers ; 
Man ! tak' the bitter wi' the sweet 

And hae recoorse to blethers. 

Are yours the wakefu' nights that creep 

When een are sair wi' weepin', 
And prickles in the pillow keep 

The weary head frae sleepin' ? 
Why should ye toss on thorny bed 

When ye can rest on feathers ? 
Throw oot the thorns and hae instead 

A pillow stuffed wi' blethers. 

Why should ye hug your pain and moan, 

And sup your parritch sourly ? 
Why should ye pech and grunt and groan, 

And gi'e the ghaist up hourly ? 
There's no an ill the deevil sends 

'Twixt bonnet and shoe leathers, 
Nae ache or pain atween these ends 

But can be cur'd by blethers. 

Ye maunna' tak' blue-mouldy jokes, 
Sour rubbish frae the papers ; 

Leave them to stooter-stamach'd folks 
And cut a wheen o' capers. 

Q 



242 BLETHERS 

To some lone desert place repair, 
And on your back there lyin' 

Fling airms and heels up in the air, 
Then to the de'il wi' sighin'. 

Or on some tap o' mountain high 

That's far frae hoose or city, 
Wi' naethin' nearer than the sky 

Just sing a wee bit ditty. 
Just scraich awa' like forty throats, 

The tune may be onsartin', 
But then, the waur ye tak' the notes 

'Twill be the mair divartin'. 

'Twill be as weel to let the air 

Be o' yer ain composin', 
And discords dibbled here and there 

Will mak' it mair imposin'. 
O sweet's the air on mountain Ian', 

A healthy scent's the heather's, 
And ye'll come doon a healthy man, 

Thanks to fresh air and blethers. 

Or gang before a lookin'-glass 

And flout the fellow in it, 
Say he's oncommon like an ass, 

Ye'd fight him in a minute. 
Pretend to hit him on the nose, 

And ca' him mollycoddle, 
He'll try to hit ye, but the blows 

Will never reach your noddle. 

Pit oot yer tongue at him, and chaff 
And girn for a' you're able, 

Until ye mak' the beggar laugh 
Like him that gangs in sable. 



THE BATTLE OF MOYVORE 243 

This is a maist successfu' plan, 

And usefu' in a* weathers ; 
Try it, ye puir, thin, weary man, 

And ye'll bless me and blethers. 



THE BATTLE OF MOYVORE 



I'VE looked in the books for a tale of the fight, I've found 

a tale of the Nore ; 
The Waterloo scrimmage is there all right, and Blenheim, 

and many more ; 
But nivir a word o' the vict'ry won by Biddy M'Glynn at 

Moyvore. 



O that was a fight, if ivir was wan, that was the kind of 

a row 
That would ha' delighted the haythen gods if they had been 

livin' now ; 
Pity ould Homer can't tell the tale, for, bedad, he's the boy 

knows how. 

HI 

The cause of it all was this, I am towld : young Denis, in one 

o' his freaks 
(Denis was nephew to Biddy M'Glynn), put tar on young 

Callaghan's breeks, 
And the bargin' and ragin' that cum o' that act wint on 

widout ceasin' for weeks. 



244 BLETHERS 



IV 

Young Denis's mother, a widdy she was Mulvany had left 

her poor, 
So she liv'd wid her son and her sister Bid in a cottage 

beyant the moor : 
A dacent wee bit of a cottage it was, wid a midden in front 

o' the dure. 



And aback o' the midden, broad and green, there stud a 

convanient pool, 
Mebbe as deep in the middle it was as the height of a 

three-legg'd stool 
A place where the ducks divarted thimselves, and the 

children comin' from school. 



VI 

Callaghan didn't want a row, but his missis she giv' him 

no rest. 
" Before I fight two ould weemin," sez he, " I'll see myself 

dead an' blest ; " 
But aftherwards he repinted and wint second thoughts 

isn't always best. 

VII 

The Callaghans cum wid rage in their hearts one cloudy 

midsummer night, 
On the top o' the midden they tuk their stand, and batther'd 

wid all their might 
Wid stones at the dure o' Mrs. M'Glynn but she wudn't 

cum out to fight. 



THE BATTLE OF MOYVORE 245 



VIII 

They smash'd the windies iviry wan, they scatther'd the 

peats about ; 
They pranc'd on the top o' the midden like mad, wid many 

a jeer and flout 
At Mrs. Mulvany and Biddy M'Glynn but still they wudn't 

cum out. 



IX 

Wee Paddy wint close to a windy at last, and bang'd a big 

turnip through ; 
It sthruck the things on the chimley-piece, and shiver'd a 

plaster coo, 
A lukin'-glass, and a rod-nos'd dog, and a chancy shepherd 

or two, 



It bounc'd 011 the top o' the clane bed quilt, where Biddy 

had laid her hat; 
" I can stan' a lot of abuse," sez she, " but I'll nivir put up 

wid that ; 
Sich trouble as this for a spot o' tar on the breeks o' that 

impident brat." 

XI 

She saiz'd a r flat iron convanient at han', and out she wint 

wid a rush ; 
And Mrs. Mulvany she armed herself wid a bit of a good 

whin bush, 
And Denis he thought that the beetle perhaps for a weapon 

would do at a push. 



246 BLETHERS 



XII 

They wrastled about on the top o' the heap for fully an hour 

by the clock, 
And Biddy's flat iron it work'd like a charm ; it was purty 

sevare at a knock 
I'm tould whin it lit on Callaghan's fut it was rayther a 

sarious shock. 

XIII 

At the end of an hour it was Callaghan's fate to tumble into 

the pool, 
Wid a broken toe and a bleedin' nose his ardour coinminc'd 

to cool 
As he rose, like Vaynus out o' the say, he felt he had play'd 

the fool. 

XIV 

" This isn't lavender wather," sez he, " but thin in this 

mortial life 
We don't jist get what we lek," sez he sez Callaghan to 

his wife : 
" I'm broken and bate ; I'll bate a retrate, I've had enough 

o' this strife." 



xv 

So he hobbled away, for his toe was sore, it caused him both 
pain and woe, 

It didn't get well and had to come off the doctors de- 
cided so 

And Callaghan walks in society now wantin' that middle toe. 



THE BATTLE OF MOYVORE 247 



XVI 

This come to the ears o' Father O'Flynn, and he, got in a 

terrible wax, 
He sent at wanst for Biddy M'Glynn, and tould her to state 

the facks, 
And from Callaghan and his wife and son he had some 

questions to ax. 

XVII 

His riverence tackled it mighty larn'd I had the whole 

story from Pat 
The boy, although he is Callaghan' s child, is a most intilligint 

brat 
" He called it a casus belly," * sez he, " whativer he man'd 

by that. 

XVIII 

"'It's you,' to my feyther he sez, sez he 'it's you is the 

wan to blame, 
And twinty-six shillin's at laste/ sez he, 'is the damages I 

will name 
Ye'll pay it down on the nail at wanst, and ye ought to give 

more for shame.' 

XIX 

" ' I lost a part o' me fut in the fight,' my feyther sez, ' as ye 

know; 
Wud ye plaze to knock off a thrifle for that a couple o' 

shillin's or so/ 
' O divil a rap,' his riverence said, ' divil a rap for yer toe. 

* His reverence had alluded to the casus belli. 



248 BLETHERS 



xx 

"'If ye let the weernin direct ye, lad, ye'll find ye will hev 

to pay ; 
It's as ould as the toime o' Adam and Eve this leadin' o' 

men astray. 
I'll give ye a bit of advice/ sez he, ' DO NOTHIN' THE WEEMIN 

SAY/ " 

ODE TO A PRATIE 

THY name is Murphy. On the Antrim hills 

There's cruffles and white-rocks; there's skerries, too, 

and dukes, 
And kidneys which is early; and champions and 

flukes 

Which doesn't help the farmer much to pay his bills : 
The sort's not recommended. Then there's early rose, 
And forty-folds, and flounders which is bad ; 
And magnum bonums : if good seed's to be had 
It is the biggest pratie that the country grows, 
And tastes not bad. Some grows best in rigs 
And some in drills. There's sorts ye cudn't ate ; 
There's others dry and floury that's a trate ; 
And weeshy kinds, that's only fit for pigs. 
Some likes a sandy sile and some a turfy, 
Others do their best in good stiff clay : 
There's new varieties appearin' iv'ry day ; 
But, as I said, thy fam'ly name is Murphy. 

Swate lump, thou art beluv'd. Folks dress'd in silk, 
And them in tatthers, too raggit to be seen, 
Agree to ate ye. Our own beluvit Queen,* 
She takes her pratie with a sup o' milk ; 

* Written before the death of Queen Victoria. 



ODE TO A FAT MAN 249 

She's homely in her ways. On his goolden throne 

The Zar o' Rooshia, whin he's freezin' cowld, 

Calls for a plateful o' ye so I'm towld. 

And in her wee bit cabin, Peg Malone 

God bless the cratur she ates praties too ; 

She takes her fingers, while the Duke o' York 

And sich like gintry maybe use a fork. 

I don't know much o' what the big folks do, 

But all extol thy vartues and exalt 

Thy fame. I s'pose I needn't say, 

Like many a thing we hear o' iv'ry day, 

It's best to take ye with a grain o' salt. 



ODE TO A FAT MAN 

HAIL to thee, fat man ! Hail, all hail ! 

I winna fail 

To gi'e ye what is sartinly your due. 

A hail or two 

Is neither here nor there, 

Sae I'll 110' spare 

The hail ! but maybe I should say 

That hail is various. On a winter day 

One sort gangs pepperin' alang the roads, 

Maistly wi' wind ; 

The ither kind 

Is what I use ; the kind for makin' odes. 

Hail to thee, fat man ! Hail again ! 

I should explain 

That I'm nae Quaker tho' I say thou, thee. 

You see 

An ode is po'try weel mixed wi' hail, 

But hailin' only is o' sma' avail ; 



250 BLETHERS 

You've got to squeeze 

In thou's and thee's. 

And don't, O don't, forget your O's. 

A face without a nose 

Wad be as seemly as an O-less ode. 

The par fit mode 

For odes is deeficult to catch 

But do as I do obsarve and watch. 

Wi' this example then, and what I tell, 

Mak' odes to please yersel'. 

I'll gi'e a specimen in this next line : 

Hail to thee, all hail, O man o' fat ! 

There just like that 

Isn't it fine ? 



Noo we'll begin, 

'Twad be a sin 

To let a man so great as you, 

That is as thou, pass thro' 

This mortial life and tread its road 

Withoot an ode, 

Or even two. 

Hail to thee, O fat man ! What a prize 

You'd tak' in show-time if ye were a pig ; 

Say, hoo the mischeef did ye grow that size ? 

Sae stoot, sae ponderiferous, sae big ! 

P'raps you'll explain, 

Did Nature turn ye oot an ord'nar' wean 

Ye did the rest yersel' ? 

Do tell. 

I'd like to ken, 

Or, was she makin' elephants that day, 

And hadn't got her hand back to the way, 

And quantity for men ? 



ODE TO A FAT MAN 251 

All hail, O fat man ! once again 

I will invoke the muse and sing, 

Troth, that's a thing 

I had forgotten to explain. 

The poets larn'd 

In makin' odes invoke the muse, 

And sing. Where I'm consarn'd 

You must excuse 

The singhV. It's in a figger that I sing aboot 

Your tailor and your claes ; 

Nae fifty shillin' suit 

Wad cover ye half-ways, 

I'm sure it wadn't look at ye or thee, 

Ye buy a couple at a time maybe ? 

And sew them into one without regard 

To style, provided ye can clothe your back ? 

Or, is't a maitter o' contrack, 

Sae much per square yard ? 

A tailor's tape 

Is useless wi' sic hugious shape, 

I s'pose he measures wi' a piece o' string, 

You haud it here while he walks there ; 

I declare 

The problems o' your coat and breeks are past 

A' comprehension. That corporation vast 

Is like the dome o' great St. Paul's, 

I saw it once. Raly, your weskit calls 

For varses for itsel', but time wad fail 

To sing (accordin' to its size) its praise ; 

Frae its great area ye cud cut claes 

For families. All hail ! 

thou monstracious, hugious, strange ! 
Sae lairge a bit o' Nature's wark 

(I pit it that way for a change), 

1 maun remark, 



252 BLETHERS 

I won't gang wi' ye in a boat 

Unless ye promise, sure, to sit 

Fair in the middle. Thinkin' o't 

There's ower great a risk in it, 

I'll tak' that back. 

Ye michtna sit just quite exack, 

And then the boat wad coup for sure. 

It wad be pure 

And simple foolishness to sail 

Wi' you. All hail ! All hail ! 

(I need the hails there for the rhyme). 

Sae let me tell 

Ye this my frien'. If onytime 

Ye feel desire to be afloat, 

Insure the boat, 

And gang yersel'. 



O' many a thing 

I'd like to sing. 

I'd like to ask ye to explain 

What coorse ye tak' when needs arise 

To mak' a journey by the train. 

Questions crap up o' wecht and size, 

And thro' rates by the ton, 

And when the journey's done, 

They coont, nae doot, for wear and tear, 

And ax ye somethin' for repair 

And maintenance o' road. 

I'll hae' to mak' anither day, 

Anither ode. 

Ye're growin' bigger every day, 

Therefore I feel impell'd to say, 

And say it pintedly Have you 

Conseeder'd there are limits to 



AN ACT OF PARLIAMENT WANTED 253 

The width o' doors, 

The breadth o' stairs, 

The strength o' floors, 

The size o' chairs, 

And if convarsant wi' the facks, 

Parfit and clear, 

I ax 

If wishfu' to avoid mishap 

Whaur, neebur, are ye gaun to stap ? 

For I stap here. 



AN ACT OF PARLIAMENT WANTED 

I WANT an act, a wee short act, pit thro' the Parliament, 
His Majesty wad gie't nae doot his fu' and free assent, 
Empo'orin' me wi' botanists and sich like folk to dale 
Wi' raison and persuasion and a gun and pickle hail. 

It might be ca'ed for title short, in case o' reference, 
" An act enablin' farmer folk and men o' common-sense 
To dale wi' botanists and sich by shootin' them at sight " 
(Fu' title o' an Act I'm towld wad tak' an hour to write). 

I wad dae naethin' hairsh or rough, I'd raison wi' a gun, 
A shot gun wi' a guid wide bore and duck shot No. 1, 
I'd argue gintly at the first wi' half an ounce or so, 
And raise it to a quarter pun' whaur intellecks were slow. 

The raison for this raisonin' wi' botanists is this, 
They will parsist in sayin' things and doin' things amiss, 
The langwidge they mak' use o' before wee modest plants, 
Is maist discreditable to these thochtless veesitants. 



254 BLETHERS 

A frien' o' mine a wee bit moss that grew on Trostan's side 

Was sae insultit by a man (a botanist), she died. 

" Ye're a Trichostomum, so ye are," sez he ; " and that's yer 

name ; " 
She tuk it sair to heart, she did, and died frae verra shame. 

The langwidge others o' them use betokens morals lax ; 

Seligeria pusilla, Rhabdorveissia fugax, 

I've heerd them gi'e bad tongue like that to puir wee 

innocents, 
Hech sirs, I think ye will agree they need admonishments. 

There's lots o' sturdy beggar plants like thistle, nettle, scutch, 
Nae feelin's fine hae they to wound, nae pride hae they to 

touch. 

They'll mak' a leevin' onywhere, and find their bit and scrap, 
And if ye ca' them blackguard names they dinna care a rap. 

But tender bits o' moss and fern wi' scarce a healthy blade, 
Genteel remains o' families noo verra much decay' d, 
That find it verra deefficult to mak' a leevin' here, 
Is't ony wonder that they die, dry up and disappear ? 

The botanist, ill-daein' chiel, he'll root them oot o' bed, 
And no' content wi' sayin' things that oughtn't to be said, 
He'll send them shiverin' wi' cowld withoot a stitch o' claes 
Awa' to some ould Musy Um * to die in twa three days. 

I want an act, a wee short act, pit through the Parliament, 
Wi' po'or to use, wi' botanists, a shot gun airgument, 
I'd like it widely to be known for sure an' sartin fact 
That gin they winna grant the boon /'// act withoot the Act. 

* Museum. 



A CHANGE OF STYLE 255 



A CHANGE OF STYLE 

THEY tell me, in these rhymes o' mine the words are ower 

sma', 

That sprats o' but one syllable hae got nae wecht ava, 
The clothin' wi' them thochts I hae, is like, my critic says, 
The sendin' lads to mak' their way in ill-cut country claes. 

That man nae doot, he kens the warld. It's aye the way 

wi' it, 

To pit the thing that mak's a noise before the thing that's fit ; 
It's hard tho', when wee bastes o' words can carry meanin' 

right, 
I maun set hippopotami to pu' wi' a* their might. 

What maun be, maun be, I suppose. Demand will hae 

supply, 

The error o' my rhymin' ways I'll try to "rectify " ; 
I'll gi'e nae man a common name, I'll use an "epithet" ; 
If lang words will mak' poetry, I'll be a poet yet. 

Nae mair for me the bird his nest will big * in field or tree, 
Troth no', he won't he'll "nidify" or hear o' it frae me, 
And folk that used to tak' a drink will noo hae to " imbibe," 
And I'm no' gaun to write again hereafter I " inscribe." 

A' fusty wi' the want o' use, in cupboards o' my brain 
I hae a heap o' heavy words I'll clane them up again, 
They're mighty little use to man as far as I can see, 
But if they mak' for poetry it's a' the same to me. 

There's " ratiocination " will try their lugs a wee, 

" Exacerbate " 's a word I'll use ye dinna aften see, 

And " latitudinarian " they canna ca' a sprat ; 

Man ! folk could lose their latitude in sic a word as that. 

* Build. 



256 BLETHERS 

We'll no' get hungry ony mair for by the new decree 
" Esurient" at denner time is what we'll hae to be. 
And if ye'd save your cuticle (I nearly said your skin) 
When shavin' dinna cut I mean don't "scarify " your chin. 

I'll ca' the weel-kenn'd pratie noo, a tuberous delight, 

And him that ates " rhizophagous " think ye wad that be 

right ? 

A tuber's no' a root they say sae mebbe this is wrang, 
A thorny path is his wha mak's the words he uses lang. 

And while I'll gi'e the public a' the lengthy words it needs, 
I'll e'en invent a wheen mysel, big rowlin' rumblin' screeds, 
Words no' to find in dictionaire or ony book ava, 
I hae a'ready thocht o' ane that's like a waterfa'. 

There's mair tho' in't, the critic says, than words surpassin' big, 
When folk gae readin' poetry he says they like to dig. 
The pickle sense ocht aye to be a dearly purchas'd fruit, 
I ocht to pit it undergrun' and let them scart it oot. 

But s'pose that ere they find the prize the diggin' ardour's 

cool'd. 

Suppose they find a stane or shell where I hae berried goold, 
Suppose they scart for half a day whaur I hae naethin' hid, 
Will that no' mak' them hate the sicht o' a' I ever did ? 

It's mebbe wise to wait a wee and hae mair evidence 

Aboot this rowlin' up o' thocht and hidin' o' the sense, 

I'm fear'd I'm rather auld the noo to mak' the change in 

style, 
I'll sleep on it a nicht or twa and think it ow'r the while. 



THE LASS THAT WAD A LADDIE BE 257 



THE LASS THAT WAD A LADDIE BE 

MY mither wants to mairry me, 

I dinna want to wed, 
I want to see the warl' a wee 
And roam a bit instead. 

michty me, the peety o't, 
That I should be a she, 
That I should be a petticoat 
I dinna want to be. 

They praise me for my figure slim 

And sparkle o' my ee, 
But een that sparkle will grow dim, 

And figure's apt to flee. 
michty me, Sfc. 

It's some mistak' o' Providence 

That made o' me a lass, 
I want to be o' consequence 

And no' a cuddy ass. 
michty me, fyc. 

O wae's me that a length o' life 

Should ever mak' o' me 
A doited, silly, fat auld wife 

The like o' what I see. 
michty me, fyc. 

Just think o' it ! set doon to scrub 

Wi' besom and wi' pails, 
Or weshin' duddies at a tub 

In kilted draggle-tails. 
michty me, Sfc. 



258 BLETHERS 

My brither should ha' been the lass 
And I should ha' been he ; 

I tried his breeks before the glass, 
They fitted to a T. 
middy me, fyc. 

If I could change frae lass to lad 
By pullin' on the breeks, 

Ye'd see a bonnie sodger lad 
In just a couple weeks. 
michty me, fyc. 



THE HISTORY OF HIM FROM 
THE BEGINNING 

THIS is his hist'ry 
From the beginnin'. 

Awa' in the far-back, 

The tar'ble lang time ago, 

Bits o' thin nebula wander'd in ether 

Seekin* divarsion. 

Ether's a cowld thing. 

One that I ken o' measur'd a billion 

(Miles, understand me) 

Takin' the size o' it under the oxters. 

It was a wee one, 

Still, it could travel miles by the million 

On a day's journey. 

(Millions o' miles are 

Naethin' to nebulas. 

Mention to one o' them 

Yards, feet, and inches ! 

Faix, it will laugh at ye). 



HISTORY OF HIM FROM BEGINNING 259 

This one I tell o' 

Once on its travels 

Met a sun-system, 

Plaisin' it mightily ; 

Bleezin' big fireball right in the centre, 

Bizzin' and burnin'. 

Red open countenance 

Big corporation, 

Rowlin' quite aisily. 

" Say," says the nebula to the big fireball, 

" How did ye do it ? 

Troth, but ye're shapely, 

Firm -like and solid ; 

No gas about ye ! 

How did ye manage ? " 

"How," says the fireball, 

(t Aisy as aisy, 

Turn about quick enough, 

Birlin's what does it, 

Birl like the pardon." 

So the wee nebula started to birlin', 
Birl'd till its coat tails flew off at tangents, 
Bilin' and burstin', 
Thick wi' volcanoes, 
Just like your parritch. 

After a lang time, one o' them, nameless, 

Crusted and harden'd, 

Got the outside o' it, 

Not under water, 

Cover'd wi' green stuff 

Trees, like, and cabbages. 



260 BLETHERS 



Sartin small insecks 

Lightin' upon it 

Conceiv'd the ideas o' 

Nat'ral selection, 

Survival o' fittest, 

And settra and settra ; 

Shapin' their organs 

(Not, of coorse, musical ; 

I speak o' their livers, 

Stomachs, and sich like), 

Best way accordin' to where they were livin', 

Coorse o' the ages, 

Puttin' their minds to't, 

Grew most prodigious, 

Yards lang and yards lang, 

Couldn't just call them beasts, birds, or fishes, 

Hoppers, mudfloppers, 

Lizardy, leathery. 

Then they, or some o' them, 

Took to the dry land, 

Atin' the cabbages, 

Thrivin' amazin'ly. 

Names were most awful ; 

Even the ould fellow (savin' your presence) 

Couldn't pronounce them ; 

Dinotheres, mastodons, 

Tons o' rhinocero-potamic-elephants. 

Goodness the legs o' them ! 

Then in the pairt o' time people call process * 
Came other craturs, 
Bumptious and quare lookin', 
New sort o' monkeys, 

* In process of time. 



HISTORY OF HIM FROM BEGINNING 26l 

Walkin' on two legs, 
Wearin' skin breeches, 
Thumpiri' each other. 

One was the father o' 
Whose son was father o' 
So on and so on 
All thro' the ages, 
All generations 
Down to last cent'ry. 

Then in the prisint times, 

One day in summer, 

Fine Sunday mornin' 

Saw a new babby, 

Quare like the rest o' them, 

Rowl'd up in flannel. 

'Wilder'd he was a bit, 

Still he was lively, 

Shoutin' a good deal. 

Milk the ould women 

Offer'd him kindly, 

Hopin' to quiet him. 

Took to it solemn, 

Noddin' head wisely. 

After a week or two, 

Folk thought it needful, 

'Cording to custom, dacent and proper, 

Clargy should see him. 

Maybe ye don't know what is a clargy, 

I will enlighten. 

Clargy's a man that stands in a pulpit, 

Thumps at a cushion, 

Shouts at the people, 

Takes up collections. 



262 BLETHERS 

So to a clargy straightway they took him, 

White in his finery, 

White for his christening 

That's what they call it. 

" Give him a name, sor," 

Says all the people. 

" What would ye like now ? " 

Clargy made answer. 

" Patrick is dacent," 

Says the child's father. 

Pat let it be then," 

Says the ould clargy. 

Then, for a year or so, he was the ruler, 

Lordin' it lordly, 

Bawlin' most bowldly. 

Milk and sweet kisses, 

That was his diet, 

Changin' to, later, 

Parritch and whackin's, 

Lickin's and praties. 

Sun risin', sun setting 

Winter and summer, 

One after other, over and over, 

Brought him in due time 

What are entitled, 

Not quite correctly, 

Years o' discretion ; 

Didn't know properly, p'raps, how to use them, 

Which may account for 

His writin' o' blethers. 

Now I would ax ye, 

S'posin', just s'posin', 

You had been wand'rin' round in the ether 



HISTORY OF HIM FROM BEGINNING 263 

In the ould ages, 
And you had spied it, 
That bit o' nebula, 
Billiony, vapoury, 
Would you have ever 
Said it was possible ; 
Would you have thought it 
In the laste likely 
Pat could come out o' it, 
Pat and these blethers ? 



XV 

PSALMS 

THERE is something gloriously invigorating in the air of a 
dark winter morning in the country. Not, be it understood, 
at the time when light is beginning to paint with grey the 
larger objects of the landscape, but in the earlier time of 
pure unadulterated darkness. What constitutes the charm 
of these hours it is difficult to explain. Certain it is, the 
feeling is quite different from that experienced in wanderings 
in the dark before rest at night. Then the day is over, the 
mind more or less fatigued ; there are the thoughts of night, 
the time of sleep and rest, as for the greater part yet to 
come; the mind turns naturally to thoughts of decay 
shortness of life death. But in the darkness of morning 
it is different. The observer has slept, and has risen re- 
freshed; his thoughts are of a day in which to live, and 
think, and work ; he is about to see night sister of death 
vanquished. It is not yet the time for work, so that his 
hands are perforce idle ; but the mind is active, and takes 
pleasurable impressions from ready-to-be-awakened nature. 
In the stillness that precedes the dawn the mountains seem 
to be awake and waiting for the sun. One can imagine 
them saying, "We shall see him first." And the man, con- 
scious of the impending change from darkness to light, filled 
with ideas of the possibilities of a new day, and walking in 
stillness and mysterious darkness, which, somehow, is not 

that of night, finds himself filled with a happiness indescrib- 

265 



266 PSALMS 

able in words, and more than is possible in the glare of day, 
with the spirit which " finds tongues in trees " and " books 
in running brooks." 

My friend Pat feels to the full the charm of the hour 
before dawn, and frequently leaves his cottage in winter 
long before it is possible to work. First, a visit by lamplight 
is paid to the cattle, and then he goes away over the frost- 
hardened fields, returning for breakfast when the first 
shadows are cast by the rising sun. When I discovered to 
him my own love for morning hours of darkness, he invited 
me to breakfast at his cottage at half-past six next day. 
I started to pay my visit long before that time. The indigo 
sky above was lit by innumerable stars, which scintillated 
with the brightness peculiar to frosty weather ; the sea was 
black as ink ; and the eye, with that longing after light and 
the known, where much is dark and mysterious, dwelt with 
delight on the little bits of warmth, due to a lighthouse on 
the Scottish coast and the lights of a passing steamer. 

After an hour's hard walking I stopped on a bridge over 
one of the numerous mountain streams. The water was high 
after recent rains, and its roar sounded thunderously in the 
gloom and stillness, influencing the thoughts in the un- 
definable, indescribable way that music stirs. A grey light 
had crept up the sky eastward, making a horizon visible in 
that direction. The thought came of the earth as a great 
black ball on which the spectator was standing, flying 
through the infinite ether; the horizon line was the visible 
edge of the great globe, and the roar of the waters the sound 
of its flight. 

Leaning on the parapet of the bridge I looked over and 
down at a noisy burn. Growing in a crevice of the bridge 
wall was a little scale fern, its soft incurved and partially 
unrolled fronds showing clear in the now increasing light. 
It was easy to pass from thought of infinite space to thought 
of infinite duration, and to the mysterious and intimate con- 



PSALMS 267 

nection between the frail and passing and the vast and 
eternal. The life of that little plant had travelled far. 
Where was it when the basalt that now gives it shelter 
flowed liquid through the rifted limestone of old Antrim 
hills ? Where was my own share of life then ? Where was 
the strain of life of both when the Archaian foundations 
were being laid, "or ere the mountains were brought forth " ? 
Back still farther for the promise and potency of our lives 
must have been in the uncontracted nebula Where and 
when in that nebula did the promise and potency of each 
part company, and by what evolutionary journey did we 
travel since, so that we meet now after inconceivable ages 
on this dark winter morning, the one as Ceterach qfficinarum, 
a fixture on a bridge over an Antrim stream, and the other 
as an organism of larger powers able to move and think, and 
to imagine where sight and knowledge fail ? 

When I lifted the latch of the cottage, the glowing 
warmth of the interior made me content to forego for a time 
the elusive, mysterious delights of morning darkness. The 
table was laid in the centre of the kitchen floor, and over 
the peat fire, on a great griddle, were nearly-cooked scones, 
baked by the good wife in honour of the visitor. A splendid 
collie lay winking at the firelight, and Pat, my host, in 
shirt sleeves, was sitting at what he calls his desk, a board 
made to rise and fall in front of a window looking eastward 
and seaward. Here he writes, finding thoughts and words 
to come easiest when he can see through the unshuttered 
window, as he sits, the light on the Scottish shore I had 
noticed on my way. He was busy now copying out one of 
his compositions, and writing being for him a troublesome 
occupation and associated with the idea of hard work, he 
had taken off his coat to it. The task finished, Pat put on 
his coat, and his wife summoned us to the table. But before 
a morsel was touched she took the " big Book," which was 
part of her marriage portion, and put a smaller Bible into 



268 PSALMS 

her husband's hand. Then they found Psalm xxix. and read 
it verse about, Mrs. M'Carty explaining that the practice 
of reading a psalm in this way before breakfast was an old 
custom in her father's house, which, with her husband's 
goodwill, had been transplanted when she became an Irish 
bride. " And where," said Pat as he put away the books, 
" will you find songs that stir you to the heart like these ? " 
and he repeated reverently one of the verses he had just 
read : " The voice of the Lord is upon the waters ; the God 
of glory thundereth ; the Lord is upon many waters." 

Then the meal proceeded. I have sat at the board in 
many countries and with all sorts and conditions of men, but 
no shared meal ever gave me greater pleasure than this one 
in the cottage of an Antrim glen. 

A talk about the Psalms disclosed the fact, hitherto con- 
cealed, that Pat had translated a number of the Jewish songs 
into the words of the Antrim people. These were produced 
with diffidence. A fear that these homely attempts may be 
condemned on the one hand as rubbish, or, on the other, as 
an irreverent handling of Holy Scripture, has made him hesi- 
tate in giving them to the world. If arraigned under the 
second head, the verdict, I am sure, will be one of acquittal. 
There is nothing irreverent, and much that is reverent and 
appreciative, in this retention of the sentiment of the origi- 
nals, while the language is changed into that " understanded " 
of the people. In only a few cases is the change possible. 
The Psalmist, whether priest, leader, king, or musician, 
introduces oftenest scenes and imagery foreign to the sight 
and thought of an Antrim peasant. Allusions to sacrifices, 
shields, bucklers, horns, and fierce and bloody enemies are 
ill at ease when clothed in the homely words that smell of 
peat reek. But the peasant who, as a child, saw the sunlit 
brow of Lurigethan, and, as an old man dropping into the 
grave, sees it changeless he knows what are the everlasting 
hills. Winds such as shook the cedars of Lebanon make the 



PSALM I 269 

tall ash trees of an Antrim farm-steading moan and shriek ; 
in Antrim are sheep, green pastures, and babbling brooks ; 
the noise of great sea billows is heard on Antrim's shore. 
And when the Psalmist speaks of such things, the devout 
farmer can take the thoughts and reclothe them in the 
words of his own time and country with not loss but gain. 



PSALM I 

O HAPPY is the man that keeps 

The straicht and even way, 
He heeds not tho' the wicked threeps 

At him the livelong day. 
Wi' folks o' character that's loose 

He's no' fun' in the track, 
Nor will he gang intil their hoose, 

Nor sit wi' them to crack. 
It is to God's command he harks, 

He mak's it his delight, 
And thinks aboot it while he warks, 

And while he rests at night. 
He's like the tree the bonnie tree 

Doon by the burn that grows ; 
His fruit is guid and fair to see 

Nae wither'd leaf he shows. 
Guid luck in a' things he will find : 

That's no' the ill folks' case ; 
They're like the cauf * the winter wind 

Sends blowin' ow'r the place. 
Their ways luk'd into winna stand 

That God and guidness hate, 
And wi' the guid folk o' the land 

They sail not congregate. 

* Chaff. 



270 PSALMS , 

But God 'tis only He does ken 
The way the righteous go ; 

The crooked way o' wicked men 
Maun lead to endless woe. 



PSALM VIII 

O LORD, oor Lord, it's in Thy hame 
They ken the glory o' Thy name, 

Awa' beyond the heavens high, 
Awa' aboon the spangled sky. 

Wha, by the mooth o' sookin'-wean, 
Mak's ill folk frae their ill refrain. 

When I look upward to the height, 
And see the glories o' the night, 

And think Thy fingers made them a', 
The moon, the stars, baith great and sma', 

One thocht is aye beyond my ken 
Why should ye fash yersel' wi' men ? 

Ye've gi'en him near the angels' state, 
And croon'd his heid wi' honour great, 

A' leevin' things in sea or Ian', 
Ye've pit them underneath his han' 

The sheep and cattle o' the field, 
The wild things muir and forest yield, 

The wee bit bird that flaps his wings, 
And soars up in the blue and sings, 



PSALM XV 271 

The fish that kens his way to gang 
The sea's deep hidden ways alang. 

Lord o' us a' Hoo great's Thy name, 
Hoo high aboon the earth Thy fame. 



PSALM XV 

WHA is he, Lord, the man may try 

To mak' his hame wi' Thee ? 

Or wha Thy haily mountain high 

Can ever hope to see ? 

The man that brawly does his pairt 

And tells the honest truth, 

Wha hasna ae thing in his hairt, 

Anither in his mooth ; 

Wha aye to what he says tak's heed, 

And willna even name 

The clash ill-manner'd folk hae spreed 

That's to a neebour's shame. 

Sma' favour find they in his een 

That lie and cheat and steal, 

But sic as tak' the Lord for frien', 

He likes their company weel. 

Frae what is richt he'll no' be stirr'd 

By gain or loss o' gear, 

And when he gi'es his promis'd word 

He'll stick to that nae fear. 

O' interest nae mair he'll tak' 

Than may to him belang, 

And nae amount o' fee can mak' 

Him do his neighbour wrang. 



272 PSALMS 



That is the man wha a' his days 
Has luck that willna flee, 
Wha gains richt endin' by richt ways 
Shall never movit be. 



PSALM XXIII 

MY Shepherd is the Lord, His hand 

Shall a' my wants supply ; 
In mony a green and pleasant land 

He mak's me doon to lie. 
Alang the burn, the wimplin' burn, 

That bubbles ow'r the stanes, 
He leadeth me roon' mony a turn ; 

By richt ways me constrains. 
Tho' in the fearsome vale of woe 

I walk and see death near, 
Thy rod and staff before me go, 

And tak' awa' my fear. 
A table weel laid oot for me 

My ill-wishers see spreed ; 
My cup is brimmin' ow'r ; by Thee 

Anointed is my heid. 
Gudeness and mercy a' my days 

Shall surely follow me, 
And ow'r my gratefu' heid always 

God's holy roof shall be. 



PSALM XXXII 

O WEEL for him, the happy man 
And blithesome is his lot, 

Wha finds his sin a' blotted oot, 
Forgiven and forgot. 



PSALM XXXII 273 

weel for him when in the buik 

That hauds accoont o' sin, 
The Lord has naethin' written doon 

Against his name therein. 
If I kept quate or made a noise, 

'Twas a' the same to me, 
My banes were sair, for nicht and day 

I cudna restit be. 
Because your hand was laid on me 

I dried up in my prime, 
As pleasant fields grow parch'd and bare 

In droothy summer-time. 

1 tell't Ye then o' my distress- 

Then to myself quo' I, 
" I'll to the Lord my sins confess 

To hide them willna try." 
Then straight awa' the answer came, 

Wi pardon fu' and free, 
The penalty for wrang o' mine 

Was taken aff frae me. 
And this is why wi' danger nigh 

And succour lang deferr'd, 
When folk like me in anguish cry 

They ken they will be heard. 
And tho' the trouble rushes strang, 

Like spate o' waters high, 
Ye needna fear yer feet will stan', 

Yer heid will aye be dry. 
Ye are my shelter, O my God, 

Ye me frae vengeance hid, 
And sangs o' joy are in my mooth 

At thocht o' what Ye did. 
Ye said to me, " I'll set ye straight 

On road that ye maun gang, 
I'll guide ye wi' a watchfu' ee 

For fear ye should gae wrang. 



274 PSALMS 

But dinna be like horse or mule 

That hae nae common sense, 
And maun be held wi' branks and bit 

Lest they should gi'e offence." 
Ill-leevin' folk will feel the stroke 

O' sin-correctin' rod, 
But they are safe and free frae skaith 

That trust a lovin' God. 

lilt awa' wi' gledsome voice, 

Mak' roof and raifters ring, 
Rejoice again I say, rejoice, 
And dae yer best to sing. 

1 tell ye, man, cry oot wi' joy, 

Tho' folk may ca' ye mad ; 
If a' is richt 'tween you and God, 
Ye canna be too glad. 



PSALM XC 

LORD, Thoo hast been a shelter'd hame 

For a' the time we ken ; 
Aye, sin the time when first there came 

To earth the first o' men. 
And lang before the hills were born, 

Or earth her shape was gi'en, 
Frae lang syne to this present morn, 

Thoo God alane hast been. 
As poother Thoo dost grind us sma' 

Beneath the heavy stane, 
Thoo sayest to us men, " Awa', 

Gae back to dust again." 
And a' a thoosan' years' array 

Coonts nae mair in Thy sight, 
Than to oorsel's does yesterday, 

Or hour we sleep at night. 



PSALM XC 275 

Like clod on spate o' waters borne 

Nae mair its place to find 
Are we, or like the dream at morn 

We canna ca' to mind, 
Or, like the bit o' tender grass 

The mornin' sees sae blythe, 
But wi' the eventime, alas, 

It's doon before the scythe. 
Thy wrathful' glance is ill to bear, 

Sair is Thy anger keen ; 
The sins we happit up wi' care 

Lie open to Thy een. 
Hoo fast oor days like lightnin' flee 

When Thy dread anger's felt, 
The lifetime's years but seem to be 

A wee bit tale that's tell't. 
Three score and ten's aboot the time 

The maist o' us spend here, 
Or if we're strang till past the prime 

We'll last the echty year. 
But wrastlin' thro' at sic a length 

Mak's auld folk unco tir'd, 
And stayin' langer than the strength 

Is no' to be desir'd. 
Wha is't the wecht daur measure weel 

O' Thy correctiii' rod ? 
E'en sae its stroke shall sinners feel, 

As they hae tempted God. 
Gi'e help, O Lord, to change oor gait, 

That wise folk we may be ; 
Hoo lang may we expectin' wait 

Thy face in peace to see ? 
And fill us wi' Thy guidness sae 

That when the night is past 
We may a gledsome mornin' hae 

Wi' gledness that shall last. 



276 PSALMS 

And for the weary years we bore 

Oor weel-deservit pain, 
Gi'e us o' gledsome years a store 

As mony mair again. 
And may Thy glory, like the sun, 

Shine frae the heights above, 
And when oor day its coorse has run 

Still light the bairns we love. 
And in oor daily wark we pray 

For blessin' on oor skeel, 
The thing we pit oor hands to dae 

Help us to dae it weel. 



XVI 

SONNETS 

THE farmyard is not the place in which to look for sonnets. 
Here are not many, and of the poor half-dozen the Guittonian 
purist may reject some because the octave and sestet, the 
major and minor wave of the type he loves are missing. 
Pat's method of composition, earlier explained, which starts 
with the conception of a swinging line which has the power 
of a magnet to attract others to each side until an idea's 
expression has attained respectable size and shape, will not 
do for sonnets. His rhymes or songs have birth by accident, 
and grow to maturity on the field or moor; a sonnet, "the 
sang that gi'es nae liberty to sing,'' requires the study and 
set purpose and rule and compasses. 

Ann of the second is she of whom something has been 
written already in the introduction to the Abbey Tales. 
Nature, who rarely gives with both hands, gave her bulk and 
withheld charms, and so it came about that no man ever 
asked her if she had a heart, no male arm itched to girdle 
her extensive waist. Itched it never so persistently, no arm 
indeed would have been equal to the task, for Ann began to 
bulge under the armpits, and reached her greatest diameter 
on the plane where a waist should be, a diameter which, 
multiplied by three, was beyond the circumferential powers 
of even two arms. Ann's was the beauty of usefulness. 
When little pigs were coming into the world she sat up with 
them o' nights, and saw that each got his full share of the 



278 SONNETS 

good things of this life, and that mother's love and avoir- 
dupois did not crush the young breath out of them. And 
their tails she anointed with sweet oil that they might keep 
them, for it is a way with little pigs to drop these curly 
adornments in their first days. And she wanted not for love 
of a kind, for the elders of the stye knew the times of her 
appearing, and when they heard her heavy footfall they 
lifted up their voices and rejoiced. What Ann did not know 
of calves and ducks and hens and turkeys and geese wasn't 
knowledge, although she could not have told what she knew 
without many and severe falls on the slippery places of 
grammar, and, if you carried her out of the field of her attain- 
ments, the ground of conversation was sure to be freely littered 
by the unconsidered trifles she dropped from the great 
bundle of her ignorance. Had you heard her, reader, you 
might have laughed, but look at your own bundle where you 
keep, more or less tidily concealed, the things that you do 
not know. Beside its vast dimensions does not the little 
parcel of your knowledge seem small ? I am persuaded that 
among human beings the great bundle differs less in size 
than in the nature of its contents. If a sixth sense could 
make it apparent, Lord Kelvin and Ann Bradley might be 
found toiling under burdens of nearly similar dimensions. 
The great scientist, examining on Electrostatics, would find 
nothing in Ann's little bag of the known. She would not 
so much as have heard that there were any Fraunhofer's lines. 
But Ann, examining Lord Kelvin on Diseases of the Hen or 
Caudal Extremities of Pigs, How to Retain them, would probably 
find all belonging to these matters in his parcel of minus 
quantities, and might indeed pronounce him at the close of 
the inquiry "just the ignorantest man ye ever seen." It 
is curious that, while we all admit the smallness of our know- 
ledge and the greatness of our ignorance, we are so ready 
to smile when a fellow-creature drops anything from the 
larger of his two bundles. That is, we chuckle if when we 



SONNETS 279 

see it we recognise it as something we carry in our little 
knowledge parcel. 

Once I listened to a gentleman of no mean attainments 
while he addressed a large audience on a subject of which he 
was master. He opened to us his handbag, which contained 
much not found in the bags of the common people. We saw 
and admired. But, during the exhibition, by inadvertence, 
he dropped a fragment from his great burden. It was only 
a word, but it was enough to tell many that, tied up in the 
lecturer's large bundle, was the whole of the German lan- 
guage. Hence smiles, self-congratulations, &c. But a slip 
like this may well be excused ; it is only when the exposed 
article is some pocket handkerchief of knowledge, which it 
is disgraceful not to have in the little parcel, that censure is 
due as to one untidy in his person, wandering about with 
vest unbuttoned, shoe-strings untied, and stockings down at 
heel. There is an untidiness which sometimes accompanies a 
well-crammed bag of attainments, and it is to be forgiven. 
But who shall pardon the man who is ignorant of his ignor- 
ance, who carries his burden with wrapper torn and string 
untied, littering the highway with the contents of the great 
fardel which, notwithstanding the wholesale deposits which 
mark his footsteps, knows no decrease. " The more he gave 
away, the more he had " might be written of such an one, and 
not in a complimentary sense. But this is wandering from 
the sonnets of the farmyard. 



280 SONNETS 

ON THE UNSATISFACTORINESS OF 
THE SONNET 

THE Sonnet's but a thin and rusty blade, 

A crutch no' able muckle weight to bear, 

A cutty sark that naethin' could persuade 

A self-respectin' sentiment to wear. 

A dochter o' the muse a' skin and banes, 

A well whence leetle to refresh can flow, 

A poet's corner, yieldin' only stanes 

Whaur blossom and the halesome yarb* should grow. 

A cage that winna let a thocht tak' wing, 

A tasteless mouthfu' withoot pith or sap, 

A sang that gi'es nae leeberty to sing, 

A field no' big enoo' to raise a crap, 

Too sma' to gi'e auld Pegasus a fling 

The baste's just started when he has to stap. 

IN PRAISE OF (A PART OF) 
ANN BRADLEY 

DEAR Ann, thro' mists o' memory thy face 
Looms like the sun thro' fog o' frosty morn ; 
In sonnet's compass wha can fitly trace 
The features rare that did thy face adorn ! 
But that great globe thy corpus I wad sing, 
Weel patch'd wi' continents o' various hue, 
Thy great equator compass'd wi' a string 
That held up apron like an ocean blue, 
An ocean jaup'd wi' islands sma' and big 
Frae swingin' satellite each airm suspends, 
The buckets twa, wi' saft delights for pig ; 
Thy foot was musical to gruntin' friends, 
Tho' Nature niver shap'd it for a jig. 
I wad say mair, but here the sonnet ends. 
* Herb. 



LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS 281 



LIGHT AFTER DARKNESS 

I STOOD on Trostan as the sun went doon, 

I watch'd the misty darkness onward creep ; 

It put the tired valleys first to sleep, 

Then climb'd amang the hills and wrapp'd them roon'. 

Clouds came and blotted out the stars aboon, 

A' in the earth or sky had disappear'd, 

I was there only and the darkness weird, 

And yet I knew that dawn should come, and soon. 

So shall it be, I said, in my life's night ; 
First shall the far-off things dissolve in gloom, 
Then hold o' nearer slip frae fingers numb. 
It may be for a while that heaven's light 
May fail me at the entry o' the tomb, 
Yet to my eyes I know the light will come. 



ATTAINMENT 

I SET mysel' to climb a distant hill, 
The glory o' the height I sought to gain, 
Made nearly pleasure o' the rough road's pain, 
And wayside pleasantness made sweeter still. 
So was I glad tho' road was fair or ill, 
Whether the sky was black for hail or rain, 
Or sunlight flooded all frae peak to plain, 
Whether a zephyr blew or east wind chill. 

I reach'd my mountain top. I stood alone, 
The glow had faded into cauld grey light, 
And lengtheii'd shadows mark'd a far spent day ; 
Then learn'd I standing by that wind-swept stone, 
Angels may joy on full attainment's height, 
The man joys only on the upward way. 



282 SONNETS 

SECOND YOUTH 

SWEET youth, when years were lang and life a road 
That endless stretch'd before us, sunlit still ; 
When castle-topp'd was ev'ry distant hill, 
And never storm-cloud in the blue drift show'd ; 
When wi' prophetic sight by Hope bestow'd 
We saw the places high that we should fill, 
And flow'rs that never knew an autumn chill 
Bloom'd by these distant places o' abode. 

O sweeter second youth o' shorter years 
That sees behind us scene o' storm and strife, 
The fallen castle and the shrunk estate, 
The trodden roadway wetted wi' our tears, 
And sees us no' the aged endin' life, 
But schooled children comin' to its gate. 

WHA KENS? 

FEAR not endeavour high tho' birth be low, 
Great brain is no' in fee to great estate ; 
The steps o' puir men's ancestors do go 
As far as theirs whose children are the great. 
The infant in the breath o' life's first morn 
Holds heritages ancient, blest or curst. 
Life kens nae deathbed the man last born 
Is tied by threads mysterious to the first. 

Wha kens how much he has frae them that rest 

In lang line stretchin' to the warld's first grave ? 

How much frae God direct is his acquest, 

How much frae time and land that birthright gave ! 

Dead's gifts, the Lord's, land's, time's, and living men' 

These great, what may not be attain'd ! wha kens ? 



XVI I 

LOVE 

THEY are here, in the matter of wiving, disciples of Shak- 
speare rather than of Crabbe, for they marry early, and the 
husband, as a rule, is older than the wife. 

" Let still the woman take 
An elder than herself ; so wears she to him, 
So sways she level in her husband's heart."* 

Thus said Shakspeare. Crabbe favoured an old wife. 

" Young let the lover be, the lady old, 
And that disparity of years shall prove 
No bane of peace although some bar to love. 
'Tis not the worst our nuptial ties among 
That joins the ancient bride and bridegroom young, 
Young wives like changing winds their pow'r display 
By shifting points and varying day by day. 

But like a trade wind is the ancient dame, 
Mild to your wish and every day the same, 
Steady as time, no sudden squalls you fear, 
But set full sail and with assurance steer. 
Till every danger in your way be pass'd, 
And then she gently, mildly, breathes her last, 
Rich you arrive in port, awhile remain, 
And in a second venture sail again." t 

* " Twelfth Night," Act ii. sc. 4. 
t "The Parish Register." 
283 



284 LOVE 

Courtship with us is not demonstrative, but not all of it is so 
tame as was that of Mr. M'llhagga. Place and our climate 
have something to answer for. It is not pretended that this 
northern land that we love is the most fertile of the world. 
Unkind might be written of much of its soil, and from the 
profit it gives flood, wind, frost, and disease exact a large dis- 
count. The accidents of our calling and position tend to 
produce men of two entirely dissimilar types, and neither is 
romantic in love-making. In the one the uncertainty as to 
results of labour breeds a painful anxiety to avert losses and 
an economy in expenditure which may develop into miserli- 
ness. The man of this type rises early and works late, eats 
the bread of sorrow every day, and, when he comes to marry, 
his choice of a wife is decided by considerations of "her 
p'ints for wark " and the amount of her fortune. This kind 
dies with money in the bank. The man of the second type, 
equally impressed by the uncertainties of harvesting, becomes 
less and less anxious and careful coming in the end to 
believe that results are matters less of labour than of luck. 
He sees a good crop in a year when no special pains are 
taken, and a poor or lost one when care has been great. 
Where, then, prosperity is good luck and adversity bad luck, 
things which cannot be gained or avoided by taking thought, 
marriage will also be a thing of luck. To this man the good 
wife or the bad cometh not by observation, and so he mates 
like the fowls of the air, with no thought for the morrow. 
This kind is doomed to everlasting poverty. 

But, God be thanked, there are exceptions. There are 
who have sense enough in their early days to know that the 
place for the visible part of them in this world must be fought 
for and won by their own strong hands. But while they 
labour for a house of stone and lime to shelter their bodies, 
they build castles in the air for their second quantities, their 
imaginative selves. To possess a structure of this kind it is 
not needful that one should come of long ennobled race, and 



LOVE 285 

for enlargement, rebuilding, or renovation, it is not neces- 
sary to have heavy bank balances or a long rent-roll. The 
rhymer was always a castle builder. No one can lay it to 
his charge that he has not laboured with hand and brain to 
provide things honest in the sight of all men, and no one 
but himself knows what solace in fatigue, trouble or anxiety 
he has found in retirement to one of his air-built castles. 
They are gorgeous and picturesque as any that rose in the 
romantic past their owner loves so well. Always in them 
from the first was to be found a gracious womanly presence, 
the composite mental picture of all good and beautiful 
women of whom the builder had heard or read. When the 
lord of these stately mansions came to see in the flesh the 
one woman who satisfied eye and mind, he transferred to her 
the homage that had been paid to the noble lady of imagina- 
tion, and this sweet damozel suddenly took on the features 
of the beloved whose habitation was the solid earth. And 
here may be given a little story belonging to this time, per- 
fectly true as here narrated, and certainly curious. Pat was 
in love, but, for the time, it was uncertain that the girl he 
desired should become his wife. She was much in his 
thoughts. One dark night in late summer he was asked to 
accompany a friend and his two young daughters in a long 
walk over the hills. The girls had an errand to a dressmaker. 
Arrived at the house, a low thatched one by the roadside, 
the men stayed outside while the young people attended to 
their business. From the house came an old woman, mother 
of the dressmaker, who, addressing the elder man, said, 
" Who is that young fellow with you ? " " Young fellow ? " 
was the reply, "he is nearly as old as I am." "No, he is 
not," said the old woman, "and he is not married, but he 
will get the wife that he wants she is waiting for him/' 
Pat's companions knew nothing about the matter that occu- 
pied his thoughts, nor did any one in the neighbourhood, for 
the beloved was not in Ireland he had never been to this 



286 LOVE 

place it was so dark that the old woman could not see his 
face nor could he see hers, and nothing in conversation led 
up to her statement and prophecy. 



THE WIFE HE WANTS 

I HAE a wee thocht in my heid, 

A wee thocht, naethin' mair, 
That 'gin 1 saw a lass I lik'd, 

I micht think weel to pair. 
I want nae wife to spoil my life, 

Hoo rich soe'er she be, 
Sae what I like and what dislike 

It's juist as weel to see. 

I want nae lang-legg'd hizzy here 

My wee bit hoose to share. 
Wha wants twa yairds or mair o' wife ? 

It isn't me, I'll swear. 
She micht forget to duck her heid, 

The ceilin's rather low ; 
I winna hae the plaster crack'd 

A' candidates should know. 



1 winna mairry by the ton, 

And, therefore, want to say, 
I'll hae nae big fat sowdy lass 

Trapesin' roon' this way. 
The furniture's a wee bit auld, 

I'm no' sure o' the stairs. 
A wechty woman's gye severe, 

Especially on chairs. 



THE WIFE HE WANTS 287 

But tho' I dinna want her fat 

She maunna be too lean ; 
There's little comfort wi' a wife 

That, sideways, can't be seen. 
I want nae hippopotamus, 

But still she must be roon', 
Banes rattlin' when she mov'd aboot 

Wad hae an eerie soon'. 

She maunna hae big feet the lass 

That wants wi' me to wed, 
I'll hae nae beetlin'- engines here 

To fill my life wi' dread. 
Besides I hae improv'd the roads 

Aboot this bit o' fairm, 
And rnuckle poondin' o' them noo' 

Wad do a dale o' hairm. 

For reasons I will here expleen 

I canna hae rid hair 
My hairt is no' my strangest pairt 

The doctors a' declare. 
If I cam* hame too sudden like 

And saw my wife's rid heid, 
I might suspeck the hoose afire 

And faint awa' clane deid. 

That I command, that she obeys, 

The lassie maun concede. 
I haud wi' Paul in this remark, 

"The husband is the heid." 
It's ae thing that I winna stan', 

A want o' due respeck ; 
To ony lass that wants to rule 

I sartinly objeck. 



288 LOVE 



And yet I'm no' the man to fuss 

For pure objecktin's sake, 
I ken that in this mortal life 

We hae to give and take. 
And 'gin the lassie's wise and guid 

And dacent as to rank, 
I'll no' objeck that she should hae 

A pickle in the bank. 



THE LOVERLESS LASS 

THE laddies like bonnie brown hair they say- 

Naebody looks at mine ; 
It's glossy and thick as the leaves in May, 

It's silky, and lang, and fine. 
Nae lassie I ken o' has better or mair 

It's a' that a heid should be ; 
But naebody wants to look at my hair, 

Naebody wants to see. 

Whenever I tak' a keek in the glass, 

I know what it tells to me : 
There's no' in the pairish anither wee lass 

Has got sic a bright blue ee. 
The laddies like een that are blue I ween, 

Blue as the sky can be ; 
But naebody wants a peep at my een, 

Naebody wants to see. 

My colour is neither too red or too white, 
It's just the right shade between ; 

I know the complexion is perfitly right, 
To gang wi' a pair o' blue een. 



THE LOVERLESS LASS 289 

My cheeks they are roon' and saft as the doon, 

They're ruddy and fair to see ; 
But naebody seekin' a cheek comes roon', 

Naebody comes to me. 

Vanity's no' a guid thing in a lass 

Vanity's no' in me ; 
Still I can see when I look in the glass 

A bonny wee mou' to pree.* 
It's sma' and saucy and rosy and fu' 

As ony that I can see ; 
But naebody wants to pree my mou', 

Naebody wants to pree. 

Laddies like measurin' waists they say 

Measurin' wi' their airm : 
And mine I'd like to see measur'd that way 

I dinna see where's the hairm ; 
But tho' I hae bought a weel-fittin' goon, 

And a tidy wee waist hae I, 
There's naebody wants to measure me roon', 

Naebody wants to try. 

Why for a laddie should I hae to wait ? 

Why for a lover pine ? 
No' mony a leddy that drives in state 

Has ankle or foot like mine ; 
They're perfitly shap'd, and sma' and neat, 

I've kilted my coats a wee ; 
But naebody wants to look at my feet, 

Naebody wants to see. 

* Mouth to kiss. 



290 LOVE 



TO PEGGY 



PEG, my dear, my heart's delight, 
No' a wink o' sleep by night 

Can I get for you, my love, 

Can I get for you. 

A' that's sweet in earth or air, 
A' that's pleasant everywhere, 

Make me think o' you, my love, 

Make me think o' you. 

When the sunbeam in the glade 
Plays at hide and seek wi' shade, 

It's your smile I see, my love, 

It's your smile I see. 

In the burn's sweet murmur clear, 
Sure it's Peggy's voice I hear, 

Your sweet voice so low, my love, 

Your sweet voice so low. 

In the deep blue sky above 

'Tis your eyes I see, my love, 

Your sweet eyes sae blue, my love, 
Your sweet eyes sae blue. 

Peggy, lass, for mercy's sake, 
On your sweetheart pity take, 

Take me, Peggy do, my love, 

Take me, Peggy do. 



PLOUGHBOY'S SWEETHEART'S SONG 291 



LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT 

I WALKIT in a forest glade, 

And chanc'd to meet a winsome maid ; 

I look'd, I lov'd, I took her hand, 

She gi'ed against it nae command ; 

My courage risin' mair an' mair, 

I kiss'd the lassie then and there. 

What did she do ? Scream oot and froon ? 

Na ! what she did was say " Sit doon," 

Then plump'd hersel' upon my knee 

And gave me lovin' kisses three. 

Noo, hand a minute ere ye cry, 

" Oot on sic lack o' modesty," 

And ca' her forward jade and bauld 

The puir wee maid is sax years auld. 



THE PLOUGHBOY'S SWEETHEART'S SONG 

I LOVE to hear the whistle o' my sweetheart in the morn, 

1 love to hear his whistle in the meadow by the sea, 

For I know that while he labours to mak' ready for the corn, 
His heart is fu' o' gladness at the thocht o' love o' me. 

O I love to hear his whistle wi' the harness-clank at eve, 
As hameward come the horses frae the meadow by the sea, 
For I know the kind o' fancies that my ploughboy's mind 

will weave, 
And the melody he whistles is a song o' love o' me. 

O I love to hear his whistle when the night is growin' dark, 
And drearie blaws the wind across a black and angry sea, 
For I think then o' an ocean on which some day we'll embark, 
And never storm that on it blaws shall part my love and me. 



292 LOVE 



THE COORTIN 1 CT JEEMS M'lLHAGGA 

HE wasn't bad lookin', o' means he had some, 
A guid steady man, warkin' early and late, 
And noo, by the favour o' Providence, come 
To years o' discretion weel, say forty-eight 
The thought had come to him that maybe a wife 
Might add to the comfort and pleasure o' life, 
He thought, too, wi' raison I think, that the hand 
That held twa lang leases o' guid ploo-land 
Was no' in the market just every day. 

He thought, as I say, that way. 

For merriage the farmin's a deefficult trade, 
It's no' if she's tall, if she's light, if she's dark, 
The man has to think o' in choosin' his maid ; 
He has to conseedir her p'ints for wark. 
The wedded to farmer will verra soon feel 
She has wedded the kye and the byre as weel, 
And whaur there are acres o' guid ploo-land, 
In less than a fortnight she'll weel understand 
She, wi' the man bodie, has merried same day 
His praties and corn and hay. 

Wi' halesome regard to the needs o' the case, 
Jeems settled his mind on a lassie ca'd Meg ; 
A lassie no' muckle defeecient in grace, 
The dochter o' ould Jamie Broon o' Dunbeg. 
Her age might be thirty, he likit her hair, 
Her temper (as far as he kenn'd it) was fair ; 
Her step it was firm and weel roonded her arm, 
Nae brithers had she to inherit the farm, 
And then the bit penny that in the bank lay 
Was sure to be hers, some day. 



THE COORTIN' O' JEEMS M'lLHAGGA 293 

Noo maybe ye'll think when the sweetheart was found 
That Jeems wad be coortin' her every day, 
And buyin' her peppermint draps by the pound, 
And sayin' the saftest sweet things he could say, 
And writin' lang letters extollin' her charms, 
And tryin' to measure her waist wi' his arms, 
And praisin' her eyebroo and kissin' her hand. 
Na ! sixty-wan acres o' guid ploo-land 
Get on wi' nae blethers like that not they. 
They coort quite anither way. 

Once every week he wad tallow his shoon, 
Wad put on the coat that o' Sundays he wore, 
And find his way ow'r to see Mister Broon 
And talk aboot maitters o' farmin' galore. 
His feet, straight afront o' his chair, he'd contrive 
To fix at an angle o' forty-and-five. 
And while the bit lassie, to north o' the fire, 
Sat flashin' her needles and knittin' sae fast, 
Oor frien' was addressin' his chat to her sire ; 
His face releegiously turn'd sou'-wast. 
O never a word to the lass did he say 
He lookit the ither way. 

'Twas maistly o' Fridays the veesit was paid, 
He cam' aboot seven and waited till nine ; 
But after the first " How d'ye do ? " to the maid, 
'Twas aye to the feyther his speech did incline. 
He kept up the custom a guid twa year 
Wi' weekly discoorses on farmin' and gear, 
And systems and praties and leases and hire, 
And horses and butter, and drainage and hay, 
Wi' Maggie aye knittin' to north o' the fire, 
And never a saft lovin' word went her way. 
Nae sweetheartin' word did he say. 



294 LOVE 

The twa year complete, next Friday that came 
He wesh'd his face weel wi' a bit scented sape, 
And spent half-an-'oor at the gless wi' the aim 
O' gettin' his touzled rid hair into shape. 
Then a' in his best his guidsel' he arrays, 
No' just the coat only like ordinar' weeks, 
But likewise the braw Sunday weskit and breeks. 
In fack, wi' the hale o' his very best claes, 
His boots, no' wi' tallow, but black frae the shap, 
He polish'd until he had made them to shine ; 
Then oot frae the cupboard he took a wee drap, 
The sma'est wee drap o' the ould port wine. 
He fix'd in his buttonhole, wi' a bit string, 
Twa lilac primroses the saison was Spring 
Then made in the usual direction a start, 
And whustled a bit to keep up his heart. 
He didn't feel aisy altho' he look'd gay, 
Felt queer, just a bit, that day. 

I s'pose ye'll be thinkin' ye're gaun to hear noo 
O' kissin' and huggin' and wark o' that kind. 
Git oot wi' your nonsense I want ye to mind 
This wee bit o' story I'm tellin' is true. 
Proposals o' merriage ye must understand 
Are serious in cases o' guid ploo-land, 
Nae maitter what folk that tell stories may say, 

They're no' to be made that way. 
It's mortial pertickler is guid ploo-land, 
It has to be carefu' in givin' its hand. 
It doesn't do coortin' by commonplace rules, 
Love letters, hand squeezes, a couple o' fools. 
It does what it does in a 'sponsible way, 

A ser'ous, responsible way. 



THE COORTIN' O' JEEMS M'lLHAGGA 295 

He arrivit at seven, like ordinar' days, 

His greetin' was just o' the ordinar' kind. 

But, barrin' the weel-obsarv'd fact o' his claes, 

Was naethin' to show he had aught on his mind. 

His feet were, as usual, in front o' his chair, 

Weel plac'd at the angle o' forty-and-five. 

His talk to the feyther was a' o' the fair 

And prices o' cattle baith deid and alive. 

He kept to that subjeck the veesit entire, 

His face in the usual direction sou'-wast 

(The lassie aye knittin' to north o' the fire), 

And never a word for the girl till the last, 

And no' till the door clos'd behind him to boot 

Did he put his heid back wi' the words, " May I beg 

That ye'll come to the door for a meenute, Miss Meg." 

And Maggie got up frae the fire and went oot. 

They settled the maitter in twa words then, 
He ax'd her the question in one word, " Weel ? " 
She answer'd him straight wi' anither word, " When ? " 
(A word frae guid ploo-land, it means a great deal.) 
They're married a year and a quarter the day, 
The bairn's an oncommon fine laddie, they say. 
Tremendous fine babby, they say. 



XVIII 

LIFE THE EARTH-THRILL 

ON the north side of the wide, open space in front of the 
rhymer's cottage is a high bank against which, for genera- 
tions, it has been the custom to stack the winter's supply 
of peat fuel. Generally there are, by the end of summer, 
two long stacks of turf, one of which, for half its height, 
leans against the steep, browned slope. Growing on the 
top of this, and close to the end of the stacks, is an old ash- 
tree, gnarled, bossed, twisted, and knotted in a remarkable 
manner, with one principal arm pointing in the direction to 
which the trunk leans, south-west. 

Little children for many generations have played at the 
tree foot in the clean, sweet-smelling peat culm or turf 
dust, and one of these, the rhymer himself, says that, for 
him, the contorted old tree-trunk counted almost as one of 
the players ; its knots, bumps, and excrescences were for 
him the features of a face full of intelligence, and the bend 
of its trunk and the outward stretching of the great arm had, 
to childhood's imagination, a look of conscious desire to share 
in the joyous playmaking that went on below. 

When Pat came to be older, and absent at times from the 
old farmhouse, he found that while the thought of home 
produced an instantaneous mental picture of his parents and 
of the fire on the stone floor of the great kitchen, the form 
of the old ash-tree crowded in immediately behind this first 

conception like a dog claiming share of a caress it has seen 

297 



298 LIFE 

given to another. Now that he is man-grown the same 
tree, apparently unchanged, continues to exercise a strange, 
attractive power. At home and in a musing spirit the man's 
steps tend unconsciously to reach the tree ; sitting by the 
fireside in the evening he has felt impelled to go out and 
look at the scarred old trunk, and the look has always 
brought with it a strong feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. 
When he has tried to analyse this feeling he has felt that 
although association of childhood's happy hours spent at 
the tree root must be one element, and while suggestion of 
intelligence due to face-like features and the contour of the 
leaning body and projecting arm may be another, there is 
a something more remaining which appears to reach him in 
part through the senses of sight and scent and hearing, but 
which seems to be apprehended in a far greater degree by 
some nameless, undeveloped sense of which he vaguely feels 
himself to be the possessor, while what the manner and 
sphere of that sense's action may be he cannot imagine. 

Pat himself is inclined to account for this insistence of 
the old ash-tree for right to a place in his thoughts, by that 
theory of transmitted experience mentioned in the intro- 
duction to the "Abbey Tales." A critical moment in the 
life of an ancestor, he imagines, has been associated with 
a knotted and gnarled ash-tree. The man has found refuge 
in its branches from an enemy or from pressing danger in 
the chase. Or, carried away by a torrent and in danger of 
drowning, he has saved himself by clutching at and climbing 
into such a tree leaning over the river with probably one 
long principal arm stretched far over the water. On the 
retina of the saved man's consciousness, he thinks, the 
picture of that tree would so imprint itself that not only he, 
but his descendants through countless generations would be 
thrilled by the sight of any tree that nearly reproduced the 
picture of that which gave salvation. 

But Pat is conscious also of a delight which he cannot 



LIFE 299 

express by words in face of many an object in the landscape, 
and in face of the landscape as a whole ; and as he grows 
older this delight becomes more and more for him the 
joy of life. From the cottage door can be seen a green- 
capped headland worn by the storm and sea-buffetings of 
ages. On days when the wind comes from the north-east, 
the breaking waves at its base rise full twenty feet in a cloud 
of white spray that can be seen for miles. Pat can hear, in 
imagination, the hiss of the falling water, and, watching and 
listening, he finds himself in a seventh heaven of delight 
incommunicable wandering in mind over seas of space and 
time \ hearing by inner ears songs that have no words, and 
seeing by inner eyes strange glories that cannot be painted. 

Alike in degree of intensity, but differing in character 
are the emotions excited by other views. There is a field 
which the rhymer has often ploughed ; its furrows run east 
and west. On the east or side next the sea the dip is sharp ; 
on the side next the hills the slope is long and gradual. On 
the western side the sea is hidden by the rising ground 
until the slowly moving team reaches the crest of the ridge, 
when a superb view of rock and sea and distant Scottish 
coast bursts on the eye of the ploughman. He has seen 
that view a thousand times, and a thousand times he has 
stopped the horses to see a something behind the shapes of 
earth and sea and sky, and to feel the thrill of this picture's 
magic influences. 

Differing again in character are the delights that come 
with a look at a bit of old road near the churchyard of 
Layde. The new road has been carried inland along one 
side of the glen, crossing at a narrow part and returning sea- 
wards by the other ; but the old takes no account of heart or 
lung of horse or man, and goes up hill and down dale, dipping 
to the bottom of the gorge and rising on the opposite slope 
with no seeking after an easier way. It is now, at times, 
nearly impassable, and by many at any time would be called 



300 LIFE 

unbeautiful, but by Pat, especially in the time of the whin- 
bloom, it is one of the most beautiful spots in his country, 
and a place to evoke in a remarkable manner entrancing, 
indescribable emotions such as have been mentioned. 

This pleasant thrill could hardly be called the joy or a 
joy of life if the power to evoke it were possessed only by 
the tree, the headland, the sea, and the old whinny hill-road 
at Layde. It comes more or less with sight of, or proximity 
to, nearly everything that goes to make up the landscape ; 
and probably the strong attractive power of the twisted ash- 
tree is but this same inexplicable thrill with an added note 
from the associations of a happy childhood. 

It is the touch of what we call the lower creation on the 
soul of man, and no one yet has found a way of telling to 
another what that touch means to him. Turner tried colour 
and added, or tried to add, what he felt to the obvious in the 
landscapes he painted. Ruskin, feeling this touch as clearly 
perhaps as any in our times have felt it, has tried to show 
what it is in words of colour. It is no peculiar joy of the 
pure-minded and high-souled, for the animal was strong 
enough in Turner to make him relish a drunken orgie in 
Wapping hells, and Rousseau, as despicable a soul as ever 
wore human flesh, felt it to the full. And he felt, too, the 
difficulty of describing it. In the fifth of his "Reveries," 
" the most perfect of all his compositions," * and delightful 
reading even for such as despise the writer of the " Confes- 
sions/' he paints an impressionist picture of what he saw. 
He cannot tell what there is to tell the words are not that 
can reach another consciousness and reproduce in it what he 
saw or felt. All he could do, all any can do, is to deal with 
words as the impressionist deals with blotches of colour 
carrying an added value of projection, in the hope that 
some one will bring to his picture a power to receive akin 
to that which has been used to transmit. He is speaking 
* Morley, " Rousseau," vol. ii. 



LIFE 301 

of his life on the little isle of St. Peter in the lake of 
Bienne. Here is a string of extracted phrases and sen- 
tences : " Stretched at full length in the boat's bottom, with 
my eyes turned up to the sky, I let myself float slowly 
hither and thither as the water listed, sometimes for hours 
together, plunged in a thousand confused delicious musings, 
which, though they had no fixed nor constant object, were 
not the less on that account dearer to me than all that I 
had found sweetest in what they call the pleasures of life. . . . 
I used to come down from the high ground, and sit on 
the beach at the water's brink in some hidden, sheltering 
place. There the murmur of the waves and their agitation 
charmed all my senses, and drove every other movement 
away from my soul ; they plunged it into delicious dreamings 
. . . held me with such fascination that even when called at the 
hour ... I could not tear myself away without summoning all 
my force. . . . He who finds himself (in a state he describes) 
may talk of bliss, not with a poor, relative, and imperfect 
happiness, such as people find in the pleasures of life, but 
with a happiness full, perfect, and sufficing that leaves in 
the soul no conscious, unfilled void. Such a state was many 
a day mine in my solitary musings in the isle of St. Peter, 
either lying in my boat as it floated in the water ... or in other 
places than the little isle on the brink of some broad stream, 
or a rivulet murmuring over a gravel bed. . . . What is it that 
one enjoys in a situation like this ? . . . these gentle ecstasies, 
these recompenses cannot be felt by all souls . . . the charm 
or our musing ... a long and most sweet musing fit ... sur- 
rounded by verdure and flowers and birds, and letting 
my eyes wander far over romantic shores that fringed a wide 
expanse of water bright as crystal, I fitted all these attractive 
objects into my dreams, and when at last I slowly recovered 
myself, and recognised what was about me, I could not mark 
the point that cut off dream from reality." 

Pat, attempting to make known to another what this joy 



302 LIFE 

of life is to him, might use the words "charm," "happiness," 
"bliss," while he would reject "musings" and "dreams." 
Nevertheless, it is certain that this not-to-be-described joy 
of his is the same as was Rousseau's, the joy that comes into 
the mind with the picture in the eye of soft, green, billowy 
foliage, or the lace-work of bare tree-branches against a 
winter sky, of field and flower and rock and sea, of curling 
smoke and distant hill, drifting cloud and singing water. 

Old Parson Gilpin, the vicar of Boldre, in the New 
Forest, writing of his own land about the end of the 
eighteenth century, punctuates his description of scenery 
with sentences which show how deeply he felt the hopeless- 
ness of conveying his impressions by words. He speaks of 
" nameless beauties, which highly please but cannot be de- 
scribed." Before a very large picture he thinks we might 
" in some degree feel those sublime ideas which nature itself 
excites." 

A writer of to-day, whose love of nature shines in every 
line he writes, finds the same difficulty when he tries to 
make others understand what is this special delight. In one 
of his books,* full of most delightful word-pictures of bird 
and beast and wood and field and hill, he speaks of " that 
visible nature that inspires in us feelings compared with 
which the highest pleasure the best and most perfect works 
of art can give is but a poor insipid thing, and as dreams 
compared to realities." Old writers used the word "amus- 
ing" to indicate the effect produced on their minds by 
landscape. Gilpin makes use of the word, and so does 
Gilbert White. 

What is the secret of this charm? Personification, no 
doubt, accounts for it in a small measure. Hills, rocks, trees 
may show in outline an approach to the contour of the 
human face, and with the contour goes expression. If the 

* " Nature in Downland," W. Hudson. Longmans, Green & Co., 
1900. 



LIFE 303 

look is a kind one, we are glad as we would be with the face 
of a fellow-being, kind to us, turned to us. If the attitude 
suggests rest, we feel the charm. If there is a scowl on 
the face of our hill, or cliff, or wood, we are still pleased, for 
in face of anger the feeling that we are safe from its effects 
is a pleasing one. 

Appreciation of form and colour may explain our interest 
and pleasure to a certain degree, but behind all that we can 
account for under this head there is still an unexplainable 
something that attracts, that speaks, that sends the mind on 
journeys into parts unknown ; there are dim perceptions that 
we and the scene are closely related, how we know not ; an 
elusive, puzzling "something" remains which we can no more 
"tell" to another than we can tell a symphony to one who 
has not heard it. What is this mysterious " something more" ? 

When we come to think of it, is not our pleasure from 
music just as strange and inexplicable? Why should air 
vibrations, be they 30 or 30,000 to the second, tickling by 
hair-like processes the ends of nerves, make us feel grave 
or gay or calm or warlike? Why should they make us dream 
dreams ? The answer, if we find it, may be, probably, the 
answer to that other question asked above, and a large part 
of that answer must be association, not in the restricted 
sense of a coupling of sounds with sights or states within 
the limits of an individual's lifetime, but the coupling of 
sound and sight or state over the whole history of man and 
his progenitors from the beginning of things. 

Helmholtz assumes that the earliest musical instruments 
aimed at reproduction of the tones of the human voice. For 
early ages and for long ages a musical tone was a voice that 
spoke war, love, joy, grief. If it had been the fate of man, 
who spoke and sang, to lose his vocal organs, and become 
silent at a later stage of development, while he retained 
sense of hearing, the sounds of instruments reproducing the 
tones of speaking and singing ancestors to us silent folk 



304 LIFE 

would make us feel the emotions pertaining to war, love, 
joy, grief. The emotions produced sounds, the sounds would 
reproduce the emotions. But we have retained voice ; pitch 
varies with emotion to-day as it did ten thousand years ago, 
and to the inherited sensations that come to us from all 
along the line that stretches between us and the first man 
we add the associations of our lives. 

That we know for ourselves to-day what are the tones 
appropriate to expression of anger, love, or other emotion, 
accounts for our interest or excitement on hearing these 
tones ; but the perfectly unconscious giving of the true value 
or meaning to the sounds of modern complex music must 
be due to associations over an immense period. Brain and 
ear must have been " fed " and developed on association of 
sound and mental state to be capable as they are of re- 
producing in us instantaneously and unerringly the emotion 
proper to each sound. 

If we hold, with another writer," 5 *" that musical instru- 
ments were invented in the order of (1) Instruments of 
percussion, (2) Wind instruments, (3) String instruments, 
the accounting for our excitation after hearing sounds pro- 
duced by these instruments will not be any more difficult. 
The connection between blows falling on the body of an 
enemy and drum-beats is obvious ; it is almost certain that 
the latter have been suggested by the former. The beating 
of a stretched skin, then, came to be instigatory of war, the 
drum-beat excited to blows; in like manner the clanging 
cymbal took its suggestions from the clash and clang of arms. 
Now, with the dints of war-associated music of a thousand 
generations on us, we need not to be told that the spirit of 
fighting is in sound of the drum and cymbal. Three beats 
on a drum will make the most of us straighten our backs 
for marching. 

With the wind instruments came other war voices. The 
* Rowbotham, 



LIFE 305 

leader's summoning cry and the warrior's triumphal shout 
found larger voice in horn and trumpet. Likening his onset 
in battle to the rush of the strong wind, man imitated with 
his newer instruments the sound of the tempest and the 
moans and cries of his vanquished. With softer airs, on 
later stringed instruments he sang the songs of love. Pro- 
bably nearly all the delight that comes to us in music by the 
road of association has relation to the two things which were 
all life to our progenitors, love and war. We are heirs of 
all that past ages knew of association of sound with act or 
mood, and cannot get rid of our inheritance ; we hear yet 
the tones sounded in the days of our fathers and in the old 
time before them, the clash and clang of fights of early ages, 
old cries of wounded men, victors' shouts and lovers' pleas 
and sighs, and, mayhap, by the path of music come to us yet 
the whistle of wind and rustle of trees from a time when 
we were not men at all. We know what some tones mean 
to-day, we can feel the joy or terror attached to other tones, 
although the reason for the joy or terror has been lost long 
ago. If a peculiar sound long familiar to the ear of early 
man, and associated with the painful and terrible, were 
intermitted for thousands of years, and revived in our time 
without ill accompaniment, the thrill of the old terror would 
move us even now ; the sound would be to us an eerie and 
awe-inspiring one. 

Two objections can be made to a theory which refers 
the chief delight of music to association and to associations 
mainly concerned with the loves and wars of early and pre- 
historic times. The skill of modern composers and the 
number and perfection of the instruments at their disposal 
have resulted in the production of musical works of great 
complexity which, admittedly, give us pleasure, and it may 
be said that the ear cannot possibly analyse the sounds so 
as to transmit to the brain the associated idea belonging to 
each constituent tone. 



306 LIFE 

But the ear does analyse and conveys the separate and 
distinct sensations, or, if not, it assesses the value of the 
mixture of tones, and the hearer of music, however complex 
it may be, receives an impression which is the equivalent of 
the emotions which, by association, attach to the various 
forces qualities or pitches of tone he hears together. Sounds 
associated with conflict or victory or defeat or welcome or 
parting or love or life abounding or joy or pain ; sounds that 
reproduce the voices of nature in wind and wave : let these be 
heard in never so complex mixture, the whole has the value 
of the constituent parts, and the listener feels pleasure of 
the character that belongs to an addition of parts. Let the 
sweet scents of a hundred different flowers be mixed, and by 
our sense of smell we know a pleasing perfume, while it may 
be impossible for us to divide the result and apportion to 
each contributing flower its share of the pleasure. Never- 
theless, the enjoyment of the mixed perfume is exactly the 
enjoyment of the separate parts. 

The second objection is that these old associations have 
as much to do with sorrow as with joy. There can be no 
victor without vanquished; nature's unkindnesses are and were 
as well known as her good deeds ; if we inherit countless 
associations of sound with joys, do we not also inherit like 
countless associations with pains and sorrows ? Why then 
are not musical compositions productive of as much pain 
as pleasure ? There is a reason, to be stated later, which 
explains why associations with pain may not perpetuate 
themselves so forcibly as those of joy ; meantime another 
answer can be given. We do not object to sorrows which 
do not touch us (is it not stated that we get a great deal of 
pleasure out of the misfortunes of our friends ?) ; we take 
pleasure in a musically induced melancholy from which we 
can free ourselves at will ; the echoes of old despairing cries 
only heighten by contrast our joy and satisfaction in being 
free from the ills that evoked the sorrowful cries, as one 



LIFE 307 

in safe shelter and snugly wrapped in warm blankets finds 
his sense of comfort increased by the howl of a tempest and 
roar of waters outside. Briefly, for here is not place to 
elaborate a theory of the Joy of Music, the ear of man never 
dies, and association passes with the generations association 
that explains in large part our interest and pleasure in 
musical sounds or any combination of them. What pleasure 
remains unexplained is likely to be due to a correspondence 
between the movements of vital processes affecting us and 
the orderly succession of tone-producing vibrations. 

Does this digression help us to the finding of the " some- 
thing more " of our delight in landscape or its parts ? I 
think it does. The writer of " Nature in Downland " points 
out that the thrill comes nearly altogether from the contem- 
plation of land or things on land. Sight of sea or cloud does 
not affect us in the same degree, because in our own experi- 
ence, or in that of our race, we have had comparatively little 
to do with them. " The sea and the sky in their ordinary 
aspects do not hold the attention, because we are not of them 
and do not feel them, and the association of moving in or on 
them is consequently not here associated with seeing." Of 
the joy that comes with position on a height he says, " I 
should look on it as a survival, like our fighting, hunting, and 
various other instincts an inherited memory of a period 
when the hill-top was at the same time refuge, fortress, and 
tower of observation from which all hidden things stood re- 
vealed where men feeling superior to their enemies were 
lifted above themselves." 

He does not follow the subject farther here, and yet this 
is the path that brings us to the meaning of nearly all our 
pleasure in the things of landscape. There is nothing on the 
ground we tread that has not been associated with pleasure 
or satisfaction to man. The hill was safety, the cave-pierced 
rock refuge. Blue curling smoke meant the comfort of 
warmth, food, and company of his fellows ; the forest gave 



308 LIFE 

shade in summer, with supply of material for fire and the 
food to be fire-cooked. From the seashore came food that 
was largely used, as ancient kitchen middens testify. And 
unless we are prepared to believe that God created man with 
the vestigial organs which we possess to-day a thing as in- 
conceivable as that He created fossils in the state in which 
we find them we must be prepared to allow for transmitted 
sensations over a line longer than the line of life of man as 
we know him, thrills from the old time when, if Darwin is 
a safe guide, trees were more than shade and firing to beings 
to whom we owe our animal part. 

An objection like to that anticipated in writing of the 
pleasure of music is, that the griefs associated with landscape 
must have been as numerous as the joys. The hill that 
meant advantage and safety to one was a disadvantage to his 
enemy ; it meant even apprehension of danger by him who 
held the height. The river and the sea that gave fish for 
food were associated with cold, discomfort, and danger. Every- 
thing gained involves a thought of undesirable escaped. 

But the unwelcome thought is not perpetuated. It 
seems to be a property of the human mind to hold fast the 
memory of the sweet while that of the bitter fades. When 
this writer was a very young boy, recovering from a 
severe illness, he went out one day of early convalescent 
time to bask in the warm sunlight. But a cutting east wind 
blew, and for long he wandered round the house buildings in 
search of a place where he could enjoy the light and heat, 
and have safe shelter from the bitter wind. At last he found 
a little passage between stable and byre with a high stone 
stile at end, where were sheltering walls on the north, east, 
and west, and there he lay down. After many years he re- 
members not only clearly but very frequently the delight of 
that hour on the warm gravel in the sun. A still earlier 
recollection is that of the loan of a much-coveted book ; how, 
after a race home from school, the volume was propped up 



LIFE 309 

behind the plate which held the " bit dinner," kept warm 
for the schoolboy while said boy plunged into an exciting 
story of the Cortez conquest of Mexico. He remembers, 
and frequently, what the dinner was, and can recall the 
taste of it to this day. Poor little pleasures these ; but they 
come back fresh arid continually on a nod of encouragement, 
while the great and sore troubles of a life that has had its 
full share of them will scarcely come when called. One 
such little joy counts for more in memory than a dozen great 
disasters, and it has been so from the beginning. Possibly 
even the wretchedest life knows a preponderance of joy ; a 
crust after two days' hunger may be sweeter than two good 
dinners. Pain is the great joy-sharpener. Speaking com- 
mercially, time and our nature discount the pain charges of 
the debit side of the ledger, while they increase the items on 
the credit side by compound interest. 

Pat gives an example of such account-keeping from his 
own experience. He associates certain acts and places to 
be precise, the whistling of a low, rambling, little melody 
and the tying of a boot-lace for acts, and a hearthstone 
for place with a picture of a little brother, dead years 
ago, who rose in the dark winter mornings that he might 
learn his lessons before breakfast time. Pat's most vivid 
remembrance of him is as a child kneeling before the 
kitchen fire while he laced his boots, whistling the while 
a little improvised melody. After half a lifetime to see a 
boy kneeling and lacing his boots, to think even of the place 
where the boy knelt, is sufficient to bring back as a pleasant 
recollection the view of warm fire within while it was yet 
cold and dark outside, a comforting sense of servants moving 
about through byre and stable, the pleasant expectation of 
breakfast, and the figure of the little brother labouring at 
his boot-strings and whistling glad-heartedly his little in- 
consequential melody. And yet that association only a 
pleasant one now owes its permanent place in Pat's brain 



310 LIFE 

to its connection with grief which is certainly recallable, 
but which does not come readily, and not once for ten times 
its old, closely-related, simple pleasure appears. The associa- 
tion belongs to a time when he was recovering from a 
long, slow fever in boyhood. One of his cousins died of 
consumption and her illness had been much talked of. In 
his weakness Pat thought he saw in his own body symptoms 
such as had marked the course of the disease in the case of 
his cousin, he thought he was doomed to die of consumption. 
During the day, light, movement, occupation helped to banish 
his fears, but in the night, or, more correctly, in the very 
early hours of morning, the terrors of death took fast hold 
on him, and he wrestled and prayed for life. And in the 
loneliness and darkness what gave him comfort was the 
thought that in a few hours he would hear people moving 
in and around the house, would see the fire and his little 
brother lacing his boots in front of it, and would hear him 
whistle his little broken air and he fought the weird spectre 
with this picture of normal happy life. The dread of con- 
sumption a very great and sore trouble that winter passed 
with perfect restoration to health ; he can scarcely realise 
now how or why the terror was so great ; it comes not back 
to him without an effort, while, with slight suggestion, the 
pleasant picture that helped him in the time of trouble 
returns, alone, again and again, with unfading colour. Here 
is a case from real life of a cheerful picture burnt in with one 
of sorrow. The sorrowful mark is the deeper for a time, but 
it fades out, while the joy-made one remains. 

To turn to fiction. In one of her books, " Strangers by 
Lisconnell," Miss Barlow tells the story of the sorrow of 
Judy Quinlan, deserted, as she thought, by her brother 
Thady. She belonged to a tribe of thievish tinkers, and had 
no very fine feelings, but she knew what a sick heart was. 
She had parted from Thady in the small hours of a December 
morning, and had wearily footed during a long day the road 



LIFE 311 

to the workhouse. At sunset she found herself on a bridge 
far from friend and familiar haunt, lonely, cold, despairing. 
There was not that evening "under Irish skies a more 
miserable woman than Judy Quinlan as she stood all alone 
in the world on Rosbride Bridge, while a black mountain 
rampart lifted itself slowly against the shrouded west and 
the dust thickened on the long, shelterless road, whence 
eager blasts whistled a summons to her, nearer and nearer, 
till they fluttered her rags and keened about her ears and 
chilled her to the bone." 

Here was sorrow to cut deep, deep lines on consciousness. 
But her brother, thief though he was, had a soft heart for 
his old sister. He had followed her all day ; for her he 
had stolen a cloak and hood from a woman who did him 
a kindness, and now he came behind her softly when her 
agony knew its acutest point, and threw over her shoulders 
the warm, soft wrap. 

The pair sought shelter from the cruel wind and rain 
under the bridge, which " allowed the stream ample measure 
in its stride," and between stream and wall there was 
" ground bordered with stones and boulders amongst which 
the shallow waters gurgled." Thady had stolen eggs and 
bread as well as the cloak ; a large, dry branch, carried down 
by a long-past flood furnished firing ; one of the saucepans 
from the tinkers' stock was used to boil the eggs, and a 
hearty supper was made. Seated after it, warmed, fed, com- 
forted, the rich cloak round her, its many-plied hood over her 
head, with her back to the curving wall of the bridge, listen- 
ing to wind and rain that could not harm, listening to the 
tinkle and drone and chuckle and chirp of the water over and 
through the stones at her feet, Judy was, I am sure, as happy 
as any woman in the land, and if she had lived long to re- 
member that evening she would have remembered it only as 
a time of joy the sight of a bridge like that of Rosbride, 
the noise of water that flap flapped " like the lid o' our ould 



312 LIFE 

kettle on the boil," would have brought back to her only 
the happiness of that satisfied hour, a happiness that owed 
part of its sweetness to the bitterness from which she had 
been delivered. 

But who reads this needs not to be told that in the 
average life joy bulks larger in memory than sorrow. Here 
might be elaborated a theory that would explain much that 
is curious in our loves and hates, but I am only concerned 
now to press this home, that the marks of sorrow on memory 
tend to effacement while the joy marks deepen ; that the 
average unit in the chain of life transmits associated joys or 
the credit balance of them after deduction made for what is 
due to sorrow ; that we, heirs of all the ages, are the inheritors 
of such associated joys of uncounted generations, joys which 
for a period far longer than is covered by our civilisation were 
associated with the things of landscape, and that herein is 
sufficient to account in great part for that " thrill of indefin- 
able delight" which the sight of the things of landscape is 
able to produce in so many hearts. 

If herein is part of the answer, where is the remainder ? 
It is found, I am persuaded, in the domain of rhythm and 
number. We believe that there are ears on earth that hear 
sounds we cannot hear, eyes that see things we cannot see. 
We know that when the vibrations which produce in us the 
sensations of tone move quicker than a certain rate per 
second they are silent to us. We live among countless motions 
that are not apparent to our senses ; we are only beginning 
to know of the existence of waves and rays that pass over 
and through us, rays invisible to the eye but capable of tra- 
versing metals and other opaque bodies. Among recently 
discovered elements are several which have the power of 
producing rays invisible to our eyes, and the source of this 
energy is yet mystery to us. Any substance on which these 
rays fall is excited to give out similar rays. It is not incon- 
ceivable that, otherwise than through the medium of the five 



LIFE 313 

senses, we should be conscious of the rhythmic beat of the 
forces that have brought us, and what we see in landscape, to 
the development of to-day. It is more than conceivable, it 
is probable, that the myriad forms of energy, which act on 
and through the dead earths of landscape and the vivified 
earths of man and beast and plant, the waves, rays, and vibra- 
tions of which eye and ear can take no account, may so act in 
and on us that we and these coming together shall, at times, 
be found to be in unison, and to be the subjects of a sympa- 
thetic vibration like that which we know of from the strings 
of our musical instruments. 

Association, then, in the extended sense and sympathetic 
vibration ; in one or other, or in the two combined in unknown 
proportion, is surely found the meaning of the earth-thrill, 
the reason why " a primrose by a river's brim " is more than 
a yellow primrose to some of us, the scientifically demon- 
strable cause of our turnings from the burdened life of civili- 
sation to the older and freer life in company of rock and 
tree and hill, sea, lake and running stream, and to the 
thought of them when we are chained to the oar. The too 
little known poet of the Manx, T. E. Brown, after twenty- 
seven years at Clifton College, wrote longingly 

" I'm here at Clifton, grinding at the mill ; 

My feet for thrice nine barren years have trod. 
But there are rocks and waves at Scarlett still, 
And gorse runs riot in Glenchass thank God I 

Alert, I seek exactitude of rule ; 

I step, and square my shoulders with the squad. 
But there are blaeberries on old Barrule, 

And Langness has its heather still thank God ! 

O broken life, O wretched bits of being, 

Unrhythmic, patched, the even and the odd. 

But Bradda still has lichens worth the seeing, 

And thunder in her caves thank God I thank God ! " 



314 LIFE 

There is a thrill, a sensation communicable by the simple 
furniture of a country cottage, which is in some degree like 
that felt by the sensitive in face of the objects of the land- 
scape. The things that belong to an old home, the place 
where human life has been lived for many years, have some- 
thing in them too subtle for discovery by any chemical 
analysis. 

Enter some of the cottages of the Glen. They are of all 
sizes and all degrees of comfort and cleanliness. Some of 
them have mud floors, damp, dirty, greasy, and worn in holes 
where the fowls are fed, some have a mud floor, dry and 
well swept, and some show a broad stone floor, and plentiful 
fire on a warm hearth-stone. In all of them are the marks 
of contact with the living, things worn by the touch of the 
humanity that there has found its home, the chair back and 
arm polished by hand and shoulders, the foot-hollowed stone 
by the doorstep, the pothook thinned at one place by the 
grips of women's fingers during a hundred years, the old slow- 
ticking clock from whose pale face the figures have nearly 
all disappeared, the furniture with grey hairs. Keep the 
inhabitants out of sight, and each house to a sensitive 
stranger will have a story to tell, and no two stories will be 
alike. The story will not be merely of poverty or its absence, 
of careful or careless owners, of matters of age or sex. Some- 
thing more there is comparable to the earth-thrill in land- 
scape, and this something would be missing if the cottage 
were furnished with new things or old, drawn from many 
homes. Where things inanimate are long in contact with 
the animate, it may be that the former receives through the 
latter some of Nature's mysterious streams of energy trans- 
formed perhaps by the living body, and that a collection of 
these inanimate things is capable of giving out again to a 
sensitive body part of this transformed energy, something of 
what has been received. There is an old belief in the pos- 
sibility of articles carrying with them good or ill fortune, 



LIFE 315 

stories of rings that brought evil, of precious stones that 
were lucky or unlucky for their holders, and mayhap these 
traditions are built on foundation surer than we have be- 
lieved. The rays given out by that newly discovered 
element radium, rays that can pass through opaque bodies, are 
believed, at the moment, to be streams of particles of 
the material itself, but of particles so extremely minute that, 
according to M. Becquerel, millions of years would pass 
before a grain to the square inch would be lost. There may 
be still subtler streams of matter or energy flowing through 
us, or from us, into the things we touch ; and some of these 
receptive things or substances may have the power to re- 
transmit to a sensitive organism in contact these forces or 
energies, plus an added quality from the living body which 
first communicated them. I should not like to sit in a chair 
used long by a devil incarnate, and there may be reasons 
why literal sitting in the chair of the scorner is not a desir- 
able thing. With the garment or the ring of a fellow we 
may become subject to an influence that tends toward or 
away from truth and right, may get an inclination to up- 
rightness or crookedness of morals, a tilt in the part of us 
that lies nearest to the immaterial which shall make us fall 
in the way of good or ill fortune. 

The few rhymes which follow have nothing to do with 
speculations on the character and causes of the mysterious 
impressions which we receive from our old furniture and the 
Nature which we call inert, but both speculations and rhymes 
have to do with the things we see and feel, and imagina- 
tion's journeys beyond the seen and felt, and this is reason 
sufficient for the bringing of them together under the 
chapter heading of " LIFE THE EARTH THRILL/' 



316 LIFE 



BEHIND THE SEEN 

I KNOW a country by the sea, 
Land of a wind-song loud and free. 

It has hills that echo the lone sheep-bleat 
And miles upon miles of the warm brown peat. 

The whin with its glory of gold is there 

And heather, the home of the grouse and hare. 

There are burns that break from the steep hill-side 
And tumble with thunder or, whispering, glide. 

There is life in its breezes from over the brine, 
A draught of its air is a draught of wine. 

If one should offer me gift of joy, 
My choice of a pleasure without alloy, 

I would ask for a day in the sweet glen air, 
My mind unharness'd from work and care, 

I would choose me the day when first for the year 
The print of Spring's footstep is sharp and clear, 

And the Sun should shine in his glorious strength 
From rising to setting that whole day-length. 

A field freshly-labour'd I ask for now, 

A field where the harrow has follow'd the plough. 

I want to see near me the white gull-wing, 
And to hear the crow talking, the skylark sing. 



A BIT O' PRAYER 317 

And the smouldering weed-heap's smoke should rise 
Till its blue be lost in the blue of the skies. 

Beside me each lovablest sight and sound, 

Full length I would lie on the sun-warm'd ground. 

And there, by Mother Earth lull'd, I'd rest 
And feel the throb in her big kind breast. 

My thoughts would take flight from the things that are 
To the may be and might be, and wander far. 

I would reach, I would rise to the Undisplay'd, 

To the things unseen thro' the things that are made. 

I would know in my innermost soul that I 
Have lived and am living and never shall die. 



A BIT CT PRAYER 

I HAE a wee short bit o' pray'r 
That's guid to drap in here and there, 
Atween the daylicht and the dark, 
As I gang thro' my daily wark, 

Frae Janwar to December. 
It minds o' One above maist true, 
And what I owe to Him and you ; 
It's nae great preachment built for show, 
It's just these five words in a row, 

Lord, help me to remember. 



318 LIFE 



A MAN LIKE A FIR-TREE 

He was a man, 

A man like ajir-tree. 

YOU'VE seen the fir-tree on a wooded height 

Topping its fellows, standing straight and strong, 
As if the king-ship did to it by right, 

O'er oak, ash, birch, or ither tree, belong. 
Made by its height a mark for ev'ry stroke, 

Wounded by winter blast or lightning riven, 
While there remains to it an arm unbroke 

The scarr'd trunk bravely holds it up to heaven. 
Men call it graceless, gloomy, dark o' hue, 

But in the sunshine in its time o' spring 
It shows a bloom that's beautiful and blue 

As any feather in the wild-duck's wing. 
He was like that strong, rigidly upright ; 

Lifted above his fellows o' the glen, 
He saw far heaven frae a nearer height 

And wi' sight clearer than the maist o' men. 
He was a stricken one and bore the scars 

O' wounds man-given, and o' some frae God ; 
For heaven strikes where imperfection mars 

E'en while it loveth him that feels the rod. 
Death rent frae him his branches, one by one, 

Child after child and wife frae him were ta'en ; 
Yet when the Reaper took the last sweet son, 

Godward a leal heart turned in its pain. 
Men call'd him gloomy, rigid, hard, and stern, 

Strict to extreme in what he thought was duty, 
But they, the nearest, fittest to discern, 

Saw in him comeliness and even beauty. 

He was a man, 

A man like ajir-tree. 



THE HEART OF A MAN 319 



THE HEART OF A MAN 

A MAN'S heart is a deep, deep well ; 
What's in it God alane can tell, 
It's owner disna ken, himsel'. 

It may be it nae solace brings, 

To man or beast or bird that sings ; 

It may haud slimy, creepy things. 

It may be clear as crystal brooks, 
Mair in it than at first sight looks, 
And pure as may be out o' books. 

It may be filthy, chok'd, or dry, 
Be foul'd wi' mire frae paths anigh, 
Death's poison in its depths may lie. 

It may be hidden out o' sight, 
May oft refresh the weary wight, 
It may reflect a heaven's light. 

A man's heart is a deep, deep well ; 
What's in it God alane can tell, 
I dinna ken my ain, mysel'. 



DREAMS ON LURIG 

ON the heather Lurig heather 
Tir'd o' tramping moor and field ; 

Once I dream'd, 
Gazing o'er a sea that gleam'd 
Like a burnish'd silver shield. 



320 LIFE 



Spring had come, and o' her treasure, 
Given without stint or measure, 
New-born leaf and fur and feather ; 
Sky was sky o' purest azure, 
Save where o'er the mountain lonely 
Over Lurig one cloud only 

Like a great silk flag unfurl'd, 
Like a king's white standard floated. 
Swallows circled, going, coming, 
By me, near, a bee was humming, 
Far awa' a thrush, full-throated, 

Shared his rapture wi' the world. 
Little streamlets running hidden, 
Waters o' some secret fountain, 
Now to share the gladness bidden, 
Rush'd wi' laughter down the mountain. 
And the white birds o' the ocean, 

Sweeping, swinging seagulls scream'd 
In the joy o' love and motion 

As I dream'd. 



Strange, that wi' this glad surrounding, 
Warmth and light and life abounding, 
Thought should come to me o' dying ! 
Yet it came for as I noted 
How the great white cloud that floated 
Over me where I was lying 

Changed incessantly its form 
Came a state o' apprehension, 
Like that awfu', gloomy tension 

That aye presages a storm ; 
And I passed frae light and gladness 
Into darkness, into sadness, 

Into weariness and gloom. 



DREAMS ON LURIG 321 

'Twas as if chill mist came rolling 
O'er sweet June's warm, shining breast, 
As if sound o' death-bell tolling 
Reach'd the ear o' bridal guest. 
A' within me cried, protested, 
At a world that never rested ; 
A', I said, is loose, unstable ; 
None to stay an hour is able, 

We move onward to a tomb ; 

And it seem'd 

That the restless sea-birds flying, 
Were no more in pleasure crying, 

Rather they, in terror, scream'd 
At the fearsome thought o' dying, 

As I dream'd. 

Then a butterfly came near, 
Little Lurig mountaineer, 
Like a snowflake or a feather, 
Carried, wind-blown, ow'r the heather, 
With a crooked, tumbling flying, 
Rising, falling, ever spying 

For a honey-scented bow'r, 
Till the sought-for bloom was sighted, 
When it hover'd and alighted 

On a purple thistle flow'r. 
Then my thoughts o' dying drifted 
To the creature's time o' night, 
And my black cloud partly rifted, 
Letting in a little light. 
Did it in the days sae dreary, 
In its chrysalis time lying, 
Feel infirm and sad and weary ? 
Feel as we when we are dying. 
When was coming life mair gifted, 



322 LIFE 

When was coming fuller sight ? 

May it then be truth, that story, 

We have only half believed 

That we, on the day assign'd us, 

Wi' the death-gate closed behind us, 

Open eeii upon a glory 

Such as may not be conceiv'd ? 

But the hope-light quickly faded, 

Something said, "Too soon persuaded," 

And there came an eerie vision 

O' a spectre moving dimly. 

Laughing gently in derision 

At the easily misled one. 

Then he turn'd, and, smiling grimly,, 

Show'd me that his fleshless hand 
Held a butterfly a dead one 

Willing me to understand 
That tho' forms the creature knoweth 

May be many as you will, 
In an ever upward striving 

Dying unto living still 
At the last the perfect goeth, 
Where there is nae mair reviving, 

To a weary, barren land 
Where he, Death, is Lord and Master. 
Then he vanish'd ; and the fountain 
That had laugh 'd and smil'd was weeping, 
And the white sea-birds were sweeping 
Wearily aboon the mountain 

In a sunlight thick wi' gloom. 
Death was in the air disaster 

Standing by an open tomb, 
And I, wi' a fearfu' shiver, 

Heard the distant wood-thrush sing 
From the auld thorn by the river, 

Death is master Death is king. 



DREAMS ON LURIG 323 

Then, awhile, I lay forgetting 

Death, the grave the soon sad setting 

O' our glory's feeble sun, 
For the west wind, rous'd frae slumber, 
Sang auld sangs in endless number, 

And I heard them, every one ; 
Wordless sangs, yet telling stories 
Were they sweet, low, cadenc'd glories 

Filling my enchanted ears ; 
Voice and flute and string sound blending 
In a melody transcending, 
Like the sweet mysterious sounding 

Childhood in a sea-shell hears, 
And my thought in magic bounding 
Bridg'd the time since earth's beginning, 
To the days when Order winning 

Vict'ry over Chaos, saw 
Dry land frae the wave divided 
By the moving Spirit guided, 

And a new world own her law. 
And I heard the new tides beating, 

Grandly, their first rhythmic blows 
On new shores, and heard the tolling 
Voices of wild billows rolling 
Of the giant waves retreating 

As the dripping land uprose. 

Then, imagination ranging 

Over time fields with each changing 

In the murmur o' the breeze 
Brought me visions, nearer, later, 
O' the early navigator ; 
I could hear his ship's sail flapping, 
And the sound of water lapping 

On the rocks of old, old seas. 



324 LIFE 

Next, I heard the Northmen crying 
To their gods for help in slaughter, 
While the galleys in their courses, 
Whipp'd by north wind, leap'd like horses 
Over hills o' angry water, 
Moaning, hissing, groaning, sighing, 
Spindrift flying. 

Now the west wind for a minute 
Quieted ; and for me in it 
Was nae langer sound o' crying 
O' the sea-wave, but the voicing 
O' that host that nane can number. 
Warriors, princes, poets, sages, 
Rich and puir men, high and lowly, 
Children, ancients, sinners, holy, 
A' the deid o' a' the ages 
Spoke as those who speak in slumber, 
Spoke life's sorrow and rejoicing 

In the murmur that I heard. 
So my spirit, troubled, sighing, 
Came again to thought o' dying, 
And the eye, the blue lift ranging, 
Sought the vapour ever changing, 

But the cloud had disappear'd. 
And a voice of old time, mourning, 

Wail'd in tones o' anguish sair 
O' our sad and short sojourning 

" Man, like cloud that vanisheth, 

Going to the house o' Death, 
Goeth whence is nae returning, 

Cometh up again nae mair." 

Lang, then, in the gloom I tarried ; 

When I rose, the seeking eye 
Found the cloud the gale had carried 

Far into the eastern sky, 



DREAMS ON LURIG 325 

Now, it was nae kingly banner, 
Wind had torn it in sic manner, 
That it look'd like angel flying 
In a raiment white and shining, 
Gold and silver threads entwining, 

Samite frae nae earthly loom ; 
Then connected thought o' dying, 
Angels eastern sky and tomb, 
Brought me, quick, anither vision, 
Wi' a mair than dream's precision 
Vision o' an early morning, 
Wi' the holy women weeping, 

Bearing myrrh and spikenard, 
Timidly, in fear o' scorning, 

Jeer, and flout o' Roman guard, 
To the place where Christ lay sleeping ; 
Saw the sudden start at finding 

That the stone was rolled away, 
Saw the watch by angels keeping, 

Heard the angel voices say, 
te Death had never pow'r o' binding, 
Nor the grave the pow'r to prison 
Him, the Lord, for Whom you ask us, 

He is over death the King. 
Seek not 'mong the dead the living." 

Then a wind o' memory 
Carried me the comfort giving 
Words o' him who met the Risen 
On the old road to Damascus 

Death, where is thy victory ? 

O grave, where is thy sting ? 

He is risen, then. My fears 
Fled as darkness disappears 
In the sunlight, and the thrush 
Far off on his hawthorn bush 



326 LIFE 

By the singing, smiling river, 
Sang wi' sic a joyfu' quiver 
In his voice, " The Lord is risen." 
It was like escape frae prison ; 
It was sung by all the birds, 
And the sweeping sea-gulls' cries 
Seem'd to shape themselves in words, 
" He is risen His shall rise." 

Joy again was ev'rywhere, 

In the clearness o' the air, 

In the bird-life's dainty feather, 

In the whisper o' the breeze, 

In the humming o' the bees, 

In the scent o' growing heather, 

In the broad deep sea that gleam'd, 

In the bubble o' the fountain, 

In the sunshine over all, 

As I dream'cl 
There on Lurig, lonely mountain, 

Lurig over Cushendall. 



XIX 

DEATH 

" I THINK the Lord has forgotten me " was the playful 
remark of an old, old man here, when, a little while ago, 
one spoke to him of his great age. But only a little while 
longer was he to wait. The call has since come ; the Lord 
has remembered him. 

The air of the Antrim hills is pure and life-giving, but 
even in it the hearse-plume nods and waves. There are 
homes here on the hill-tracks far from the busy haunts of 
men, but the "angel of the dull black wing" knows every 
bypath of the mountains, and none has dwelling in such 
lonely place that this messenger, whose touch we call Death, 
may not find him. 

It is a pity that the great Act of Separation, by which we 
are freed from the things that encumber, should be known to 
us by a word holding the idea of negation of life. True, we 
say sometimes of one " she fell asleep," or of another " he 
entered into rest," but these are understood as poetic ways 
of saying "she died," "he is dead." When a fire has 
burnt itself out, we say it is dead ; when the tree has ceased 
to add cell to cell, and shall never again know leafage and 
bloom, we say it is dead, and when our friends, as we profess 
to believe, have attained to more abundant life we say, too, 
they are dead. We need a new word, an everyday believed 
and believable word, for the passing into fuller life. While 
heaven lies about us in our infancies we are seven, even when 

327 



328 DEATH 

two lie in the churchyard. We have no doubt about existence 
in another state ; we believe there is heaven as we believe 
there is Asia. But, older grown, we have learned a little 
about matter and its laws, and the universe seems to be such 
a very clever thing that we think it must have made itself. 
We cannot find God under the microscope, and we begin to 
doubt His existence. As the Great Spirit falls away farther 
and farther behind His work, our possession of a spiritual 
and indestructible part becomes an incredible thing and 
belief in personal immortality withers we are really dead 
when the body dies. Hope comes again and again, not by 
taking thought, not even through the study of the words of 
Him who spake with authority and His witnesses for to 
these last we cry back many a time over the two thousand 
years, " We know ye for honest men, but are ye sure ye saw 
and heard aright ? " it comes as a flash of light, an illuminat- 
ing message from the dead white face of some one near and 
dear to us in life. Shall matter be indestructible and this 
" I " that I knew, that moved this body as it would, and 
knew good and evil, be blotted out ? The answer is No, and 
faith comes back, not to be lost for ever. Brown of Clifton 
could write at one time in his life, " Concerning those loved 
ones whether any communication with them now is possible, 
whether we shall hereafter know them, or ' have anything to 
do with them,' all this is to me the merest mist. I have to 
tell you now that I know nothing about f a disembodied 
state ' ; that to me it is altogether removed from the sphere 
of practical considerations. I simply know nothing ; I submit, 
I acquiesce even, but that is all. He * is gone ; I have no 
certain ground whatever for expecting that that relation can 
be removed." 

But after he saw his brother die he could write, " Death 
is not after all so terrible. It is so natural, such an action, 
such a part of life, that I do not believe I shall ever again 
* His child. 



DEATH 329 

fear it much." And, six years later, writing to the same 
friend, he could say, " One thing emerges my absolute belief 
in immortality. I am not naturally a materialist that is a 
plant not native to my mind but scales of materialism have 
sometimes grown upon my eyes. They now vanish utterly, 
and I am dazzled and confounded by the inevitable presence, 
the close connatural rebound of the belief. Now I feel my 
body to be nothing but an integument, and the inveteracy 
of the material association to be a tie little more than 
momentary and quite casual. Death is the key to another 
room." * 

The assurance of continued existence came with the 
vision of an empty house. 

It was so with Sam Turley, the old flower-lover, of whom 
the reader has heard in the talk about Flowers of the Field. 
He lost many of his family, and sorrowed after them as even 
Christians sorrow, with only a vague hope that he would 
meet and know his own again. Then there died, suddenly 
and unexpectedly, one beloved by all the country-side and 
greatly esteemed by him the Mrs. Brown of Pat's rhyme 
Two Funerals. Hers was the charity that thinketh no evil ; 
her sympathy was like a deep well that refreshed all weary 
and thirsty souls coming to it. She died in the springtime 
of her life in the springtime of the year, and when she 
closed her eyes the world became suddenly smaller and 
darker for a great many. During her short illness, Sam paid 
two visits of inquiry daily but, hear the story told in his 
own words. He speaks from the hearth of the rhymer's 
cottage, from that corner by the peat-fire where a chair 
always waits for him. 

"I was just gettin' ready that morning to go doon and 
ask for her, when a wee lass came to tell me that she had 
died in the night. I went back into the hoose as one dazed ; 

* "Letters of T. E. Brown," Constable & Co., 1900, pp. 89, 90, 100, 
101, 129. 



330 DEATH 

it was as if the sun had gone doon at midday. I sat beside 
the fire/ not speaking, hardly, until the afternoon. Then I 
thocht I would go and see them. It was warm and fine, and 
there were a hundred things on the road that I delight in, 
but that day I could take no pleasure in them. A half- 
dizzen sparrows lit on the road before me, tumblin' ow'r and 
ow'r and makin' noise enoo' for a hundred. At anither time 
I would have been pleased wi' their impident ways, but that 
day I was nearly angry with them. I looked up at a cloud 
and seemed to see ' Mrs. Broon's deid ' written across it. 
Then I found twa or three big primroses, and pu'd them 
before I knew what I was about, and when I minded that 
she was deid I threw them away as if they had done me a 
hurt. Oh, I mind it sae weel ; everything looked strange, 
as if it had shifted in the night ; the dog kenn'd weel there 
was something wrang. When I reached the hoose they 
were moving about as if they were fear'd to wauken her. 
I was asked would I go into the room where she was laid 
out, and I said e yes.' I went in to see her, and I saw it, and 
a great chokin' sob rose in my throat, but no' of sorrow no, 
dear no. ' That Mrs. Broon ! ' I said to mysel', ' never ; that's 
no' Mrs. Broon.' I ocht to ha' kenn'd it wi' my bringin' up, 
but till I stood by that bonnie corpse that fresh spring day 
I never really felt that the body is only the hoose and that 
the real man or woman but leeves in it. It was no' Mrs. 
Broon that was lyin' before me she was elsewhere, she was 
not deid ; it cam' to me in a flash, and my ain were not deid ; 
I would see them a' again. I went hame gladder than I 
could ha' imagined an hour before, and somehow, ever since 
then, I tak' sma' accoont o' dyin'. It's God's world on the 
ither side as this is, and we can't get out o' His world. I 
believe in the many mansions/' 

The old man's pipe lay on the floor, against the wall, 
beside him. As he finished speaking he bent sideways and 
slowly, for he was very stiff, until he had recovered it. Then 



A DREAM O' THE GREAT ASSIZE 331 

bending forward he got on his feet, the bowed little old man 
with the left hand over his back the letter L upside down 
and using a favourite expression which always made me 
think of the " My little children " of the Apostle John, he 
said : Weans dear, the day's like me, it's far spent, I'll be 
goin'." 

And when his time to "be goin' " to "the other side" 
shall come may that time be delayed his on-going step, I 
know, will be as cheerful and fearless as it was that night 
when he said good-bye to us, and stepped out into the 
darkness that lay between him and home. 



A DREAM O' THE GREAT ASSIZE 

I THOCHT that time on earth was past, 
The day had come we ca' the last ; 

The great day o' Assize. 
I saw the deid wi' silent feet 
Come, troopin' to the judgment seat 

For punishment or prize. 
Each one in a' that mighy host, 
Tho' formless, earless, eyeless ghost, 

Could speak and hear and see. 
1 thocht I saw (a ghost mysel') 
A woman there wha used to dwell 

On earth no' far frae me, 
And memory no' deid her rays 
Flash'd lightning-like on Antrim days 

I leev'd in years ago. 
I felt again the saut sea-breeze, 
I heard frae 'mang the wavin' trees 

The cawin' o' the crow. 



332 DEATH 

I saw the woman on the road 

That stretch'd frae kirk to her abode, 

A dusty summer day ; 
I heard the rustle o' her goon, 
The creakin' o' the Sunday shoon, 

As she went by to pray. 
I saw the weel-tied bonnet-strings, 
The wee jet butterfly wi' wings, 

That on the bonnet shook. 
I saw the silk-lined cloak sae good 
I smell't the bit o' sither-wood 

She carried in her book. 
One o' the great ones o' the glen, 
She held her heid richt proodly then, 

She did the same the noo. 
And glided wi' a careless smirk, 
Like one that enters crooded kirk 

Assur'd o' cushioned pew. 
An angel o' the Lord was near, 
She stapp'd and spoke, I didna hear 

At first what were her pleas, 
But converse chang'd her look somewhat ; 
I cudna help but notice that 

She was noo ill at ease. 
Frae somethin' in the angel's gaze 
It dawn'd on her that heaven's ways 

Were no' the ways o' men. 
She felt noo there was need to try 
Her righteous life to justify, 

I heard what follow'd then, 

THE WOMAN. 
I kenn'd the Scriptures weel. 

THE ANGEL. 
Sae does the muckle de'il. 



A DREAM O' THE GREAT ASSIZE 333 

THE WOMAN. 
I learnt the carritch * aff by heart. 

THE ANGEL. 
Your father made ye dae't or smart. 

THE WOMAN. 
Frae gaun to kirk I ne'er abstained. 

THE ANGEL. 
Unless it rained. 

THE WOMAN. 
I gi'ed the poor my cast-aff claes. 

THE ANGEL. 
That disna merit muckle praise. 

THE WOMAN. 
I pray'd at morn and eve as well. 

THE ANGEL. 
Aye askin' somethin' for yersel'. 

THE WOMAN. 
To nae great sin gi'ed I a glance. 

THE ANGEL. 
Sae weel hedg'd in, ye had nae chance. 

THE WOMAN. 
What's writ against me, will ye tell ? 

THE ANGEL. 
What's writ, ye've written it yersel'. 

THE WOMAN. 
Where at the writin' can I look ? 

THE ANGEL. 
Ye are the writer and the book. 

* Catechism. 



334 DEATH 



THE WOMAN. 
O help me ; a' is dark as night. 

THE ANGEL. 
When light is sent ye'll judge aright. 

Then flash'd the light on a' things hid, 
It show'd us a' we ever did. 

A lang wild cry the silence broke, 
"I'M LOST," the woman cried 
I woke. 



THE LANG HEAPS O 1 GOD'S ACRE 

THE lang heaps o' God's acre cry, 

" Thoughtfu' or thoughtless passer-by, 

Draw for a moment near ; 
See how the folk o' low estate, 
The auld, the young, the misca'd great, 

Lie a' thegither here." 

Faith, it's a bonnie place to dwell, 
What tales this road to it could tell, 

What grief has it no' seen ! 
Was it the floods o' mourners' tears 
Through lang grey centuries o' years 

That made its grass sae green ? 

Some hae the earthen claes laid doon 
Beneath the stanes o' kirk in toon, 

But ye sleep better here. 
The glorious company o' three, 
The sky, the mountain and the sea, 

Aye watchin' ow'r or near. 



THE LANG HEAPS O' GOD'S ACRE 335 

Fu' many a step life's level broke 
Frae peasant up to gentle folk, 

But here the steps are few ; 
The sleeper wi' a carven stane, 
The poorer sleeper that has nane, 

That's a' the cliff rence noo. 



The man that has the carven stane 
Made o' his life, mayhap, a pain 

To save or gather gear, 
The puir man may hae toil'd for love, 
What walth he had was bank'd above, 

He did nae bankin' here. 

Here, on the tombstanes auld and worn, 
Wi' broken dish and shells, the morn 

The bairns hae made a heap. 
These toys they play'd wi' in the sun 
What care they o' now day is done 

And they, at hame, asleep. 

And you beneath the stanes, ye rich, 
What think ye now o' that for which 

Ye late and early toil'd ? 
What value now the goold and lands 
Ye left behind for which your hands 

Ye wore and, maybe, soil'd ? 

Weel for ye, puir folk o' the glen, 
God's een are no' the een o' men 

That see but outward face ; 
If ye were judg'd by walth or claes, 
Or clerkly words and clerkly ways, 

Yours wad be evil case. 



336 DEATH 

Perhaps frae this lone mountain yerd 
May rise the erst unletter'd herd, 

Prince o' the new-born race. 
While earth-king frae cathedral tomb 
Will traivel to the outer gloom, 

Or tak' a servant's place. 

And some puir man laid here unsung, 
That had, on earth, the silent tongue 

And de'ed withoot a cry, 
Tho' man took nae accoont o' him 
May haud the ear o' Cherubim 

In council chambers high. 

Sleep on, forgotten nameless deid, 
Sleep on and tak' the rest ye need, 

Sleep on and tak' your ease. 
It maitters not that frien's aboon 
Hae plac'd nae slabs to haud ye doon, 

Nae marble tellin' lees. 



THE DEID BAIRN'S SHOE 

I CAM' upon a shoe the morn, 

My dear wee laddie's shoe, half worn, 

Put by for guid and a', 
The time when he, my bonnie bird, 
When he I canna say the word, 

The time he went awa'. 

He wore it last on Lugar sands ; 
I sat while he wi' eager hands 

Heap'd treasures in my lap. 
Returnin' aye wi' gleefu' laugh, 
And aye this shoe had workit aff 

And hung by ankle strap. 



THE DEID BAIRN'S SHOE 337 

That day my child, my cooin' dove, 
Was fu' o' life and fu' o' love 

He said, " It's bonnie here." 
Time and again he toddled back 
To put his airms aboot my neck, 

And say, " My mither, dear." 

stanes and shells that sparkled gay 
By saut sea-water wet that day, 

That sunny hour sae brief, 
How aften in the years since then 
Saut tears hae made ye wet again 

In shadow o' my grief! 

Three years were mine frae shadow free, 
The years my laddie stay'd wi' me, 

The sun shone in life's sky, 
Then cam' the black, the awfu' night, 
When, wild wi' terror and affright, 

I saw Death creepin' nigh. 

1 focht wi' him to save my boy, 

Death, why envied ye my joy ? 

At morn ye slew my son. 
A' day the wee deid hand I held, 
My God, forgi'e that I rebell'd, 

He was my only one. 

1 thocht my fount o' tears was seal'd, 

I thocht my torn heart-wound was heal'd, 

But it has gap'd anew. 
And frae my een the hot tears start, 
And tears o' bluid rin frae my heart 

At sicht o' Alick's shoe. 



338 DEATH 



WHEN THE TREES WERE GREENING 

IN the spring in winsome guise 
Cam' to me my life's great prize, 
In the light o' Ellen's eyes 

Learn'd I love's deep meaning. 
When the land wi' joy was rife 
Cam' to me the fuller life, 
For I ca'd my sweetheart wife 

When the trees were greening. 

Leafy spring anither year, 
Gave us April smile and tear, 
And o' mingled joy and fear 

Two could tell the meaning. 
Then I saw my lov'd one lie, 
Pale and happy, proud and shy, 
Heard my little daughter cry 

When the trees were greening. 

Nigh anither year had fled, 
Ellen's sleep was wi' the dead, 
She had met the angel dread ; 

I knew grief's whole meaning. 
And a lonely way I trod 
To and from the sacred sod ; 
She, the lov'd, went hame to God 

When the trees were greening. 



TWO FUNERALS 339 

TWO FUNERALS 

LANG DICK TAMSON'S 

IT'S a wet day. 

The wind just roars and the sea dashes 

Great clouds o' spray 

Clane ow'r the way. 

Man but it pours ! the rain and splashes 

The road's red clay 

Knee-high and thick on mourner's breeches. 

Nae use to try 

To keep feet dry 

Or steps to pick, 

When the owld hearse grunts and pitches 

The dirt flies high. 

Puir Dick ! Puir Dick ! 

We hae nae say 

In choice o' day 

For this decamp. 

He's got a bad day for his flittin'. 

I'm feer'd he'll find 

The new hoose damp, 

But he'll no' mind, altho' his sittin' 

Is for lang lease 

The thocht o' gaun to't mak's me shiver. 

God gi'e him peace. 

The rain is pourin' waur than ivir. 

We're clane wat through ; 

The dyke-sheugh's bad the road's a river, 

The wind's up too 

And seems to strike 

Frae ivery airt, 



340 DEATH 



To drive in wind like that's a han'fu'. 

The hearse is like 

A wat'rin' cairt, 

And dumps at iv'ry joult a canfu' 

On this man's back, 

Doon that man's neck, 

As if we werena' soak'd a'ready. 

'Tween ruts and stanes 

And lumps o' rocks 

And gale o' wind the cairt's unsteady, 

High time it is the road was mended. 

If puir Dick's banes 

Can feel the shocks, 

He'll wish this last bit journey ended, 

And he below 

A slab o' slate, 

Wi' name and date 

For him and his, 

In lang straight row 

O' graven letter. 

And ended 'tis, 

For here's the gate. 

The grave lies in a heap o' nettles, 

It's near half fu' ; 

We're wet the noo 

And will be wetter, 

Up to the knees 

In weeds and clay : 

Wi' sic a day 

And wi' a breeze 

Sae boisterous, 

This is the kind o' thing that settles 

When death's to ca' 

And rin awa' 

Wi' some o' us. 



TWO FUNERALS 341 

They'll hae the grace 

To clear a bit 

That flooded pit 

A cauld wet place 

To ask a man a human cratur' 

To lie doon in ; 

It looks like sin 

Altho' it's in the way o' natur'. 

Why can we no' 

At time to go 

Just disappear, 

Or gang aff in 

A lightnin' flash. 

Or wi' the win' 

For charioteer, 

Attain the cluds, 

Leavin' nae ash 

Nor corpse behin', 

Only the duds ? 

Och, sure the woe, 

The warst o' a', 

Is puttin' o' 

The shape awa'. 

They're lettin' doon noo, steady steady 

A wee bit roon' 

It's gye tight fit, 

Ease there a bit 

There noo it's doon, 

The bit o' clay on shovel's ready. 

The clargyman 

Wi' book in han' 

Is gaun to pray, 

Hats off hats off 

On sic a day 

O rain and win* 



342 DEATH 



Stap your rampagin' for a minute 

stap that din 
Hear that bad cough 
There's auld folk here, 

Noo by the grave, will soon be in it 

1 greatly fear, 

And a' thro' your wild wark this mornin'. 

On sic a day 

We weel micht pray 

Wi' cover'd heid, 

And hae nae blame on us o' scornin' 

Or disrespeck 

O' God or deid, 

While the effeck 

Wad be the same. 

O earth, air, sky, 

When kinsfolk die 

And hearts are sair, 

Wi' storm o' grief that needs assuagin', 

Why do ye try 

To hurt us mair 

By flood and storm in anger ragin' ? 

Why, why, O why ! 

MRS. WILLIE BROON'S 

It's a fine day 

This first o' May, 

Ootside o' daurs the sun's just beamin', 

Inside, the noo, 

He daurna keek. 

The blinds are doon, 

Death's been to seek 

Puir Mrs. Broon. 

The hoose is fu' o' black-silk'd weemin 

Wi' bonnets on, 



TWO FUNERALS 343 

Directin' maid 

Wi' nod and sign, 

As if afraid 

They micht awake 

The one that's gone ; 

And rummagin' her draw'rs and presses, 

And handin' cake 

Wi' gless o' wine, 

And gloves to him that nane possesses 

Amang the men. 

Its half-past nine, 

They lift at ten. 

The darken'd room 

Is crooded fu' 

O' frien's and kin 

And thick wi' gloom. 

The weemin noo, 

On tiptoe, wi' sad lengthen'd faces, 

Slip quately in 

Wi' extra chairs and tak' their places, 

Hands cross'd on lap, 

Wi' handkerchies thet they'll be needin' 

To dry the tears 

Sae shair to drap 

At time o' pray'rs. 

The meenister's begun the readin'. 

And on oor ears 

The auld words fa' 

Man, woman-born, 

Like dew at morn 

Soon flees awa'/* 

And noo we kneel he's intercedin' 

For them, whase hearts, he says, are bleedin' 

The left behind. 



344 DEATH 



That inch o' light 

Beside the blind 

It gi'es a sight 

O' hill in gledsome sunshine lyin' 

Sae calm and sweet 

Ye'd think to see't 

It never heerd o' people dyin'. 

And ower there 

A big black craw 

Is flappin' doon ; 

Ye hear his caw, 

What does he care, 

For Mrs. Broon. 

The dell a hair. 

And there's the bairn, 

The peety o't, 

Oot playin' wi' a sarvin'-woman. 

The puir wee tot 

Has yet to learn 

This May-day's cost. 

But twa year, scarce, 

Too young to ken 

What she has lost, 

She kicks and craws at somethin' comin' 

It it's the hearse. 

There's the Amen. 

Awa' we go 

At creepin' pace, 

A lang black stream 

O' dool and woe ; 

She was a woman weel respeckit. 

O it does seem 

Sae far frae fit, 

Sae oot o' place 



TWO FUNERALS 345 

And oot o' time, 

A hearse and it 

The first o' May. 

She in her prime, 

And blythe and gay 

The world aroon'. 

Hoo gled the day 

We micht be a' 

Had only Death his wark negleckit 

And miss'd that ca' 

On Mrs. Broon. 

Hear him rejoice 

That lark up there, 

The sweetest voice 

That e'er had wings. 

Hear how he sings 

In that bright air : 

He might, tho', till we pass'd hae waited. 

Ye'd think he'd see 

As weel as we 

That Death and sang are no' weel-mated. 

But no, he seems 

Craz'd wi' delight. 

A' else but love 

Just noo is nocht, 

And frae the height 

O' blue above, 

He's drappin' streams o' music doon, 

Wi' no' a thocht 

For Mrs. Broon. 

That coo, beside the hedge there lyin', 
I've heerd them tell, 
Was sick and sair 
A month or mair 



346 DEATH 



The mistress thocht the baste was dyin', 

And wore hersel' 

To skin and bane 

Wi' anxious care 

Until the coo 

Was weel again. 

And there she's noo, 

Chewin' her cud in health, and winkin'. 

Wi' lazy look 

She sees us pass, 

And a' the pain 

The mistress took 

Her to relieve, 

It's no' o' it, 

But o' her grass the coo is thinkin'. 

For Mrs. Broon, 

That's stricken doon 

I don't believe 

She cares a bit. 

It sways and swings 

The hearse and creaks, 

The white dust clings 

To boots and breeks. 

The way is far, 

But, bit by bit, 

Short steppin' brings 

Us onywhar' 

E'en to the pit. 

And here are we 

Disconsolate 

At churchyard gate, 

And by the sea. 

O why, to-day, should it be playin', 

Kissin' the rocks, 



TWO FUNERALS 347 

And saft things to the shingle say in' ? 

Surely it mocks 

The deid and us, 

By dressin' gay 

And actin' thus, 

This sad, sad day. 

It sees we mourn 

And might hae worn 

Anither goon, 

Or bit o' black, 

Oot o' respeck 

For Mrs. Broon. 

Dust. Dust to dust. 

The words are said, 

We've laid her in 

That narrow bed, 

To which a' must, 

At some time, win. 

O great's the woe when birds are singin' 

And sun shines bright, 

And a' below the earth is springin' 

To life and light, 

That one should go 

Whaur nane can see 

To death and night. 

It mak's us dumb 

Wi' terror dark, 

E'en tho' it be 

The will o' God. 

To think we come 

Frae sic sad wark 

As puttin' doon 

Below the sod 

Puir Mrs. Broon. 



348 DEATH 



THE WEE GREY MAN 

THERE'S a wee grey man aye hard at wark, 

O wither' d is he and auld ! 
And the heart-beat stops and the eyes grow dark 

At touch o' his hands sae cauld ; 
His clammy wet fingers, sae lean and strang, 

Tak' grip o' some ere they wist, 
For years ower ithers he'll wearily hang 

Like gloom o' a chokin' mist. 
He kills wi' a touch that seems sae sma', 

When naebody thinks or fears, 
And when he's expeckit he stays awa', 

Ay, maybe for years and years. 
How young or how auld soe'er we be, 

How low our estate or high, 
His word to you is his word to me, 

" I'll come for ye by-and-bye." 
And then ye maun leave wi' pain and fear 

That hoose ye have bigg'd yersel', 
Where thirty or forty or eighty year 

Ye lovit sae weel to dwell. 
It's sair to leave it, O sure it's sair 

To gang wi' the wee grey man, 
To see your bodie a-lying there 

Sae changit and cauld and wan. 
'Twill fa' asunder ye ken fu' soon, 

At maist in a day or twa, 
And people that knew ye will gather roon' 

To put what is left awa' ; 
Arid maybe they'll talk o' the craps and kye, 

The weather it's gaun to be, 
And wonder will prices o' grain be high, 

Then talk o' the deid a wee. 



THE WEE GREY MAN 349 

It isn't it isn't they do not care 

For you and your lanesome weird, 
Their thoughts are wanderin' here and there, 

Because they are sair afeard. 
I drede the day the terrible day 

To God and the grey man known, 
When I, unclothit o' flesh, tak' way 

To wander awa' alone ; 
When, never for me, shall there be mair 

The warmth o' the big peat fire, 
And an end has come to my toil and care 

In stable and barn and byre. 
When kindly lips o' my friend or mate 

Shall find that my ear is dumb, 
And horses in stall in the stable wait 

And wonder I dinna come. 
When I have finish'd my last day's wark 

In fields I have labour'd lang, 
And ower the Antrim hills the lark 

Has sung me his last sweet sang, 
Stand by, O Christ ! Stand by the day 

I gang wi' the wee grey man 
By that dark door and the fearsome way 

That open'd when sin began ; 
Let the kindly airm o' my God be near, 

What time I am sairly tried, 
And ere I lose hold o' the hand-grasp here, 

Tak' grip on the ither side. 



THE RHYMER'S AFTERWORD 

/ would build with words as they built with stanes 

Who built cathedrals lang ago ; 

In the darkness of painful years would lay 

Thought's firm foundations braid and low. 

I would choose me words for an iron pow'r, 

Or a virtue of texture, or noble form, 

As they chose who builded in stane to brave 

The centuries' striving of sun and storm. 

I would dig in the mines of the auld auld tongues 

For words that are precious ; for words most fair, 

That hold in them beauty of thought enshrind 

Like colour and veining in marbles rare. 

Fit word should be added to Jilting word, 

Each one slow tested, its meaning weigh' d, 

While sentence to sentence should knit in strength 

As courses by mason most truly laid. 

And the dim clere-story, the painted pane, 

High column, strang buttress, plain rough-cut wall, 

And gape of the devil-shap'd gurgoyle grim 

Should Jind their true counterparts, one and all. 

So upward this structure of words should rise, 

The plan clear showing yet much conceal d 

Should rest to be known of the heart that knows, 

To eye of the seer to be reveal' d. 

And crowning the work at its highest attain, 

Like the cross of the spire on its golden rod, 

Some word of the Spirit should stand out clear 

To carry the soul-eye up to God. 



Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON &> Co. 
Edinburgh &* London 



Telegrams 37 Bedford Street, 

Scholarly, London.' Strand, London. 

December, 1903 



Mr. Edward Arnold's 

New and Popular Books. 



POLITICAL CARICATURES, 1903. 

By F. C. GOULD. 

B Volume containing more tban one bunfcrefc specially selected 
Cartoons, finely printed on first-class paper. 

Super royal 4/0. 6,r. nett. 

Also an Edition de Luxe of 100 large-paper copies, numbered and signed 
by F. C. G., at 2 2S. 



MY MEMOIRS. 

By HENRI STEPHAN DE BLOWITZ. 

Edited by STEPHAN LAUZANNE DE BLOWITZ. 

Fourth Impression. Demy 8v0. With Portrait. i$s. nett. 

Contrary to the general belief, the late M. de Blowitz, who was for 
nearly thirty years the Paris Correspondent of The Times, had been 
engaged for some time before his death in putting into shape for 
publication some of the more remarkable incidents of his career. 
These characteristic chapters of autobiography, which have been 
arranged for the press by M. de Blowitz's adopted son, the Editor of 
Le Matin, reveal some of the methods by which the best known of modern 
Correspondents achieved his greatest journalistic triumphs. He was the 
only man who could have written such memoirs or who would have 
written them as he has done. 

LONDON : EDWARD ARNOLD, 37 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND. 



FURTHER RECOLLECTIONS OF 
A DIPLOMATIST. 

By the Right Hon. Sir HORACE RUMBOLD, Bart.,G.C.B.,G.C.M.G. 
Demy &vo. 151. nett. 

Sir Horace Rumbold begins the Second Series of his Recollections 
in the year 1873, a * tne Pi nt to which he brought his readers in the 
volumes already published. He begins by describing his stay in Chile, 
where he filled the position of Minister, and had the handling of the 
well-known Tacna affair ; it required all a diplomatist's skill to prevent 
this curious episode from developing into a serious crisis between Great 
Britain and Chile. Returning home in 1876, Sir Horace enjoyed a 
period of leisure that enabled him to meet in society all the most 
famous men and women of the day ; about this time he began to keep 
a diary, * of almost Pepysian fulness,' to the no small advantage of the 
readers of his ' Recollections.' Later on we follow him to appointments 
in Greece and Sweden, retaining, wherever he found himself, that 
cosmopolitan interest in his surroundings that has made his earlier book 
such charming reading. 

Sir Horace has not had time to prepare more than one volume for 
this autumn, but he hopes in due course to complete his 'Recollections,' 
and bring them down to the date of his retirement from the Diplomatic 
Service. 



ODDS AND ENDS. 

By FRANCIS PIGOU, D.D., Dean of Bristol, 

AUTHOR OK 'PHASES OF MY LIFE.' ETC. 

Fourth Impression. Demy Zvo. i6.f. 

This is another instalment of Dean Pigou's apparently inexhaustible 
fund of anecdote and reminiscence. Readers of his ' Phases of my 
Life ' will be prepared to enjoy the feast of good stories set before them 
in this new volume. Whether the subject be Boyhood and Schoolboy 
Life, or Sunday Schools, or Preaching, or Parochial Missions, or 
Cathedrals, or The Relation of Disease to Crime, or Club-life, or Odd 
People I have met, and Odd Sayings and Doings, they will rely on 
finding abundance of good wit, good humour, and good sense ; and 
they will not be disappointed. 



THE DIARY OF SIR JOHN MOORE. 

Edited by Major-General Sir J. F. MAURICE, K.C.B. 
Tivo vols. Demy %vo. With Portrait and Maps. 305. nett. 

[ To be published in January ', 1904. 

This Diary covers the whole of Sir John Moore's military career from 
the time when he first saw service in Corsica in 1793 to within a fort- 
night of his death at Corunna in 1809. It seems to have been written 
with the minute care and perspicacity that characterized all Moore's 
work, and has been printed with scarcely the change of a word from 
the original. It not only contains a vivid record of military events 
during a momentous period, but gives free expression to the writer's 
views on his contemporaries, civil and military, on the policy pursued 
by Ministers, and the means adopted to face the gravest danger that has 
ever threatened the existence of Great Britain as an independent Power. 

But the Diary is, above all, interesting from the light it throws upon 
the character of Sir John Moore himself; no one can read unmoved the 
unconscious testimony to his own virtues of this great man's private 
reflections, intended for no eye but his own. In modesty, in devotion 
to duty, in integrity, in military skill, he stands out in striking contrast 
to most of his contemporaries. 

The Diary has been edited by General Sir Frederick Maurice, K.C.B., 
with appropriate introductions to Moore's various campaigns in Corsica, 
the West Indies, Flanders, Egypt, Sweden, Sicily, and the Peninsula ; 
while the abortive French invasion of Ireland provides not the least 
interesting chapter in a valuable book. 

The portrait of Sir John Moore is reproduced from the picture by Sir 
Thomas Lawrence in the National Portrait Gallery. 



THE PROBLEM OF THE ARMY. 

By L. S. AMERY, 

EDITOR OF '"THE TIMES" HISTORY OF THE WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA.' 

Crown &vo. 6s. nett. 

This is a reprint of the striking articles originally published in The 
Times. It is believed that many will be glad to possess in a permanent 
form this important contribution to the literature of the subject, con- 
sisting as it does of a serious inquiry by one of the leading writers 
of the day into the military needs of the Empire and the means of 
satisfying them. The book is rendered additionally interesting by the 
incorporation of extracts from the evidence given before the War Com- 
mission, which justifies the author's argument in the most remarkable 
manner. 



THIRTY SEASONS IN SCANDINAVIA, 

By E. B. KENNEDY. 
Demy 8m With numerous Illustrations. icxr. (>d. neit. 

i No one has properly seen Norway,' says Mr. Kennedy, 'until ht 
has been up and sojourned on the roof of that grand country ;' and 
surely Mr. Kennedy has a right to speak, for he has spent thirty seasons 
in exploring every part, not only of its ' roof,' but of its fjords, lakes, rivers, 
and islands, and knows perhaps as much as any living man of Scandinavia 
from the sporting point of view. In this record of his adventures h 
writes of every kind of sport with delightful freshness and appreciation. 
He is a true sportsman, and as one reads one realizes the secret of his 
keen enjoyment of his life ; for he understands men and loves animals, 
and has that observant sympathy with Nature in all its forms which 
many men who live in the open air either lack or are unable to express 
in words. His pages teem with anecdotes of fishing, shooting, hunting, 
and ski-ing^ and contain incidentally many valuable hints on camping 
and cooking. There is also much interesting information about the 
people, their manners and customs ; nor are the lemmings, beavers, and 
ponies forgotten. 

The book, which is illustrated with some remarkable photographs, 
cannot fail to delight all lovers of the rod and gun. 



FRATRIBUS. 

Sevmons preacbeD malnlg In TKflincbester College Cbapel. 
By JOHN TRANT BRAMSTON, M.A. 

Crown 8vo. $s. nett. 

Mr. Bramston has found, from an experience as a Winchester College 
house-master extending over thirty-four years, that the preacher most 
likely to influence a school congregation is not the professor or the 
lecturer, or even the schoolmaster, but the man who will speak to the 
boys as brothers^ and endeavour to look at the problems of school-life 
from their own point of view. Among the twenty-seven sermons in this 
volume are included some specially addressed to the younger boys at 
the outset of their career. It is believed that schoolmasters and parents 
alike will find the collection a valuable one. 



ROUND KANGCHENJUNGA. 

By DOUGLAS W. FRESHFIELD, F.R.G.S., 

LATELY PRESIDENT OF THE ALPINE CLUB. 

Royal %vo. With Maps and numerous Illustrations. 18^. netf. 

The magnificent range of Kangchenjunga is perhaps, in one sense, 
the best-known portion of the Himalaya Mountains, inasmuch as it 
is visible from the popular hill-station of Darjiling ; but till quite 
recently it was almost unexplored and very inadequately mapped. The 
complete circuit of the great mountain had never been made, and its 
possibility was uncertain, till it was demonstrated by Mr. Freshfield's 
remarkable journey. 

The map which was the first-fruit of that journey is in itself an 
invaluable addition to our geographical knowledge, but the volume 
which describes it has a far wider range of interest. Its results have 
been dealt with by Professor Garwood, but the book will appeal first 
and foremost to mountaineers and lovers of adventurous travel. The 
country traversed has also its own crop of frontier questions and poli- 
tical and racial problems, and these, too, are dealt with by Mr. Freshfield 
with his usual clearness, while his descriptive powers have found 
abundant scope in what is, perhaps, the most superb scenery in the 
world. In connection with the numerous photographs which adorn his 
narrative, it is enough to mention the name of Signer Vittorio Sella. 



MEMORIES OF THE MONTHS. 

THIRD SERIES. 

By the Right Hon. Sir HERBERT MAXWELL, Bart., M.P. 
Large crown 8vo. With Photogravure Illustrations, js. 6d. 

It is now three years since the Second Series of ' Memories of the 
Months ' appeared, and it is hoped that the public will welcome this 
fresh instalment, which, while dealing with Sport and Natural History 
on the same general lines as its predecessors, is, of course, entirely 
different from anything that has hitherto been published in the 
' Memories.' Sir Herbert is, indeed, continually adding to his stock 
of Memories by fresh experiences, so that his books afford a valuable 
index to the condition of angling and deer-stalking at the time of 
writing ; while it is rare to find a sportsman who has so keen an interest 
in all matters of Natural History, Forestry, etc. 

This volume is uniform in style and binding with the First and 
Second Series. 



THREE ROLLING STONES IN JAPANj 

By GILBERT WATSON. 
Demy %vo. With numerous Illustrations. I2S. 6d. netl. 

Japan is proverbially a young man's paradise, and when three young 
men wander through the country with the fixed intention of enjoying 
themselves, one expects to hear a glowing account of their proceedings 
But it is not often that the story combines literary charm with its otheil 
merits. The adventures of these ' Rolling Stones ' are not onl)| 
interesting that they could hardly fail to be but are described with 
quite exceptional skill. 

Mr. Watson gives a picture of Japan and its people which fills one 
with a great longing. Possessing an artist's appreciation of the beautiful 
as well as a keen sense of humour, he sketches his scenery and characters 
with a light and sympathetic touch. The heroine Karakamoko, a rick 
shaw-man's daughter, who accompanies the party as interpreter and 
guide, is a most fascinating creature, with whom the reader wil: 
inevitably fall in love. 

The book is copiously illustrated with photographs. 



AUSTRALIND. 

Iftarratfve of TKaanDerings in Western Bustralia anfc tbe 

Bast 



By HENRY TAUNTON. 
One volume Sv0. IDS. 6d. nett. 

There are few of the wilder aspects of life in Australia of which 
Mr. Taunton does not possess an intimate first-hand knowledge, and a 
remarkable knack of vivid writing has enabled him to turn his varied 
material to excellent account. Whether he is lying in wait for wild 
cattle, riding after wild horses, or striving gallantly to sit a buck-jumper, 
the reader hears and sees and struggles with him. Equally graphic are 
his sketches of Australian types and of the aborigines, and his chapters 
on pearl-fishing give an interesting picture of this curious industry. 



IMPERIAL FISCAL REFORM. 

By Sir VINCENT H. P. CAILLARD. 

Crown %vo. $s. 6d. nett. 

Sir Vincent Caillard has long been meditating a comprehensive work 
on Imperial Trade and Finance. But in view of the general inquiry 
into the fiscal policy of the Empire suggested by Mr. Chamberlain last 
May, he has postponed for a time the completion of this work, thinking 
that he would render greater service to those who wish to take part in 
the inquiry by showing them in less voluminous form the figures and 
arguments which have led him to his well-known economic conclusions. 

The present book is especially remarkable for the care taken to 
eliminate the effect on trade of the South African War, and to keep in 
view the conditions prevailing in normal circumstances. A large portion 
of the earlier chapters have already appeared in a more condensed shape 
in the pages of the National Review^ but the concluding chapters are 
entirely fresh matter, and have been written with the express purpose of 
discussing the scheme for the preferential treatment of the colonies, as 
understood up to the present time. Sir Vincent Caillard directs the 
attention of all who desire earnestly to search for the truth to two 
propositions : (i) That preferential treatment of the colonies must only 
be looked upon as a step towards Free Trade within the Empire ; and 
(2) that it is a very great error to draw hard-and-fast conclusions from 
the present conditions of the world without any regard to the future. 



KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. 

B <3utt>e to personal Culture* 

By PHILIP GIBBS. 

Crown &vo. $s. 6d. 

This book is a revised and much enlarged edition of the volume of 
Essays on self-education, by Mr. Gibbs, already so favourably received 
by the public to whom the name of 'Self-Help' is familiar as that of 
an attractive writer in weekly newspapers. It contains a series of 
articles on the various elements which contribute to the true culture of 
the mind, short sketches of Great Writers and studies on Great Sub- 
jects, together with many valuable suggestions for serious inquiry 
into * the things which matter ' and upon which every thoughtful man or 
woman should have an opinion. 



8 

PAT M'CARTY, FARMER OF 
ANTRIM: HIS RHYMES. 

By J. STEVENSON. 
Crown Sv0. 6s. nett. 

A good deal has been written lately about the coming poet of Ireland. 
Without going SL far as to claim that role for Pat M'Carty, we are 
confident that he will be welcomed as an Irish poet, whose native notes 
are thoroughly racy of the soil. A poet must make his own way with 
his readers ; but we can at least promise this to those who will give Pat 
a trial that, whether they like him or not, they will find him something 
entirely unexpected. 

LADY ANNE'S WALK. 

By ELEANOR ALEXANDER. 
Large crown 8v0. With Photogravure Illustrations, js. 6d. 

To Miss Alexander, residing in the historic palace of Armagh, with 
her father the Archbishop, and deeply sensitive to the religio loci, it was 
a natural and pretty fancy to find its embodiment in Lady Anne, who 
lived there in her day with a former Primate, her brother, and to weave 
about her memory pleasant pictures of an age and a generation that 
have passed away. But she draws her inspirations from other sources, 
too from legend and old-world history, and from the present as well as 
from the past the beauties of the venerable precincts as they are to-day, 
and the humours of its inhabitants and visitants. The result is a 
charming pot-pourri, which should appeal to all who are susceptible to 
the charm and romance of Ireland. 



THE SAD END OF ERICA'S 
BLACKAMOOR 

By F. CLAUDE KEMPSON. 

Super royal $to. 31. 6d. 

This is a delightful children's picture-book, full of amusing fancy and 
clever black-and-white drawing. The ' story ' is written in capitals by 
hand, and reproduced in facsimile. 



NEW NOVELS. 

Crown Zvo. 6s. each. 

THE BERYL STONES. (Second Impression.} 
By Mrs. ALFRED SIDGWICK. 

AUTHOR OF ' CYNTHIA'S WAY,' ' THE THOUSAND EUGENIAS,' ETC. 

THE RIVER OF VENGEANCE. 

By PHILIP LAURENCE OLIPHANT. 

AUTHOR OF 'THE LITTLE RED FISH.' 

GOD'S SCHOLARS. 

By CHARLES FIELDING MARSH. 

THE NEBULY COAT. (Second Impression.) 
By J. MEADE FALKNER. 

AUTHOR OF ' MOON FLEET.' 

THE LONGSHOREMEN. 

By GEORGE BARTRAM. 

THE KEY OF PARADISE. 

By SIDNEY PICKERING. 

AUTHOR OF 'VERITY.' 

MR. PAGE'S WILD OATS. 

By CHARLES EDDY. 

AUTHOR OF 'WINIFRED AND THE STOCKBROKER' AND 'THE TAINT OF THE CITY. 

THE BOY, SOME HORSES, AND A GIRL. A 

Tale of an Irish Trip. 

By DOROTHEA CONYERS. 



NEW EDITIONS. 

THE LIFE OF FATHER DOLLING. By the Rev. 

C. E. OSBORNE, Vicar of Seghill, Northumberland. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

TALKS WITH MR. GLADSTONE. By the Hon. 

L. A. TOLLEMACHE. Large crown 8vo. With a Portrait of Mr. Gladstone. 6s. 

A MEMOIR OF ANNE J. CLOUGH, PRINCIPAL OF 

NEWNHAM COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE. By her Niece, BLANCHE A. CLOUGH. 
Crown 8vo. With Portrait. 6s. 



10 

ESSEX HOUSE PRESS PUBLICATIONS. 

MR. EDWARD ARNOLD has much pleasure in calling attention to the 
fact that almost without exception these interesting books have all been 
bought up and become out of print before publication, while one or two 
that have found their way into the sale-rooms have commanded a high 
premium. 

These books are printed by the Guild of Handicraft, at Essex 
House, on the hand presses used by the late Mr. William Morris at 
the Kelmscott Press. Members of Mr. Morris's staff are also re- 
tained at the Essex House Press, and it is the hope of the Guild of 
Handicraft by this means to continue in some measure the tradition of 
good printing and fine workmanship which William Morris revived. 

Subscribers to the complete series of Essex House Publications are 
given priority for any new book issued, and the number of subscribers 
is constantly increasing. Intending subscribers and persons who desire 
to receive announcements of the forthcoming publications are recom- 
mended to enter their names as soon as possible. 



ORDERS MAY NOW BE GIVEN FOR THE FOLLOWING: 

Wordsworth's ' Ode on the Intimations of Immortality.' 

With frontispiece drawn by WALTER CRANE. Vellum Series. 150 copies. 
2 2s. nett. 

Heine's * Selected Songs.' Edited by EDMOND HOLMES. This book 
will contain a frontispiece by REGINALD SAVAGE, and will be uniform in size 
with the ' Endeavour.' It will be printed in the original German. The edition 
will consist of 250 paper copies bound in boards at I guinea, and 12 vellum 
copies at 2 guineas each. 

The Guild of Handicraft Song-Book. With cuts and music in 

four-page sheets at is. a sheet, to be issued in sets of ten at a time, or bound 
up subsequently by arrangement. 

Cicero's 'De Amieitia' in Latin and English (John Harrington's 
translation, Elizabethan). 

COPIES MAY YET BE OBTAINED OF THE FOLLOWING .- 

The 'Parentalia' of Sir Christopher Wren. The Life and 

Account of the Works of the Great Architect by his Son. Containing a series 
of illustrations of the remaining City Churches. 3 135. 6d. nett. 

Benvenuto Cellini's Treatises on Metal Work and Sculpture. 

By C. R. ASHBEE. 600 copies. A few still left. 355. nett. 

Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Edited from the earlier editions 
by JANET E. ASHBEE, with a frontispiece by REGINALD SAVAGE. Vellum 
cover. 750 copies. 305. nett. 



II 
American Sheaves and English Seed Corn. By C. R. ASHBEE. 

300 copies. 303. nett. 

The Doings Of Death. Folio Volume of Large Woodcuts. By 
WILLIAM STRANG. 140 copies. 6 6s. 

The Old Palace of Bromley-by-Bow. By ERNEST GODMAN. 350 

copies, of which 200 are for the use of the Committee for the Survey of the 
Memorials of Greater London, leaving 150 for sale. 2 is. nett. 

The Masque of the Edwards of England. By C. R. ASHBEE. 

With a series of pictured pageants by EDITH HARWOOD. Limited to 300 
copies at ^3 35. There are also 20 copies on vellum, coloured in water-colours 
by the artist, at ^"12 I2s. 



KING EDWARD THE SEVENTH'S 
PRAYER-BOOK. 

This is a sumptuous edition of the Book of Common Prayer, which, 
by gracious permission of His Majesty, is entitled ' King Edward the 
Seventh's Prayer-Book.' 

The new Prayer-Book has been hand printed at the Essex House 
Press, and, whilst conforming to the Authorized Version, ranks, as a 
piece of typography, with the Great Prayer-Book of Edward VI. It is 
in new type designed by Mr. C. R. Ashbee, with about one hundred 
and fifty woodcuts, and is printed in red and black on Batchelor hand- 
made paper. It is very handsomely bound in oak boards, with leather 
back and metal clasps. 

Exceptional circumstances connected with the Book of Common 
Prayer render it essential that this work, in order to be of historic value, 
shouid be issued with the imprint of the King's printers ; the Prayer-Book 
is therefore published by his Majesty's printers, Messrs. Eyre and Spottis- 
woode, acting under the Royal Letters Patent, who have superintended 
the work of the Essex House Press. 

Mr. EDWARD ARNOLD, publisher to the Essex House Press, has only 
a few available copies left, and those who desire to possess this important 
work are recommended to apply as soon as possible. 

The edition is strictly limited to a total of four hundred copies for 
England and America, at a price of Twelve Guineas (12 125.) nett. 
There will also be five copies for England on vellum at Forty Pounds 
n ett, all of which are already sold. 



12 



THE NATIONAL REVIEW. 

Edited by L. J. MAXSE. 
Price 25. 6d. ?iet t 

This important Review now occupies the foremost place among the 
monthly periodicals of the United Kingdom. Its circulation has shown a 
steady and continuous increase, and is at present more than double what 
it was five years ago. It has, moreover, established for itself a unique 
position from the tone of public - spirited independence in which it 
approaches the political and social questions of the day. The influence 
of the NATIONAL REVIEW, and the respect in which it is held, may be 
gauged from the attention given every month by the Press, both English 
and foreign, to the articles appearing in the current number, as well as from 
the list of contributors, some of whose names are given below. 

The NATIONAL, REVIEW pays special attention to Foreign Politics, and 
each number contains a series of Editorial Notes, summing up in a masterly 
fashion the more important ' Episodes of the Month ' both at home and 
abroad. Another special feature is the prominence given to the affairs of 
the United States. Literature and Finance are also ably handled, and 
articles in a lighter vein are to be found in every number. 

Some of tbe Contributors to tbe ' mational IRevfew.' 



THE ARCHBISHOP OF ARMAGH. 

H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER, M.P. 

LORD ALVERSTONE. 

RIGHT HON. H. H. ASQUITH, K.C., 

M.P. 

LORD AVEBURY. 

RIGHT HON. A. J. BALFOUR, M.P 
SIR ROWLAND BLENNERHASSETT, Bart. 
RIGHT HON. ST. JOHN BRODRICK, M.P. 
SIR VINCENT CAILLARD. 
RIGHT HON. J. CHAMBERLAIN, M.P. 
ARTHUR CHAMBERLAIN. 
E. T. COOK. 

LORD CURZON OF KEDLESTON. 
PROFESSOR A. V. DICEY, K.C. 
RIGHT HON. SIR MOUNTSTUART 

GRANT-DUFF. 



SIR EDWARD GREY, Bart., M.P. 

COL. LONSDALE HALE, R.E. 

RIGHT HON. LORD GEORGE HAMILTON, 

M.P. 

BENJAMIN KIDD. 
RUDYARD KIPLING. 
SIDNEY J. Low. 
CAPTAIN A. T. MAHAN. 
J. A. FULLER MAITLAND. 
W. H. MALLOCK. 
GEORGE MEREDITH. 
DR. MAX NORDAU. 
H.M. KING OSCAR II. 
RIGHT HON. SIR HORACE RUMBOLD, 

Bart., G.C.B., G.C.M.G. 
THE MARQUIS OF SALISBURY, K.G. 
SIR LESLIE STEPHEN, K.C.B. 



THE TIMES ATLAS. 

This well-known and magnificent work, which is generally considered 
the finest reference Atlas that has ever been produced, is issued in the 
following Editions : 

Handsome cloth binding . . . 27s. 6d. nett. 

Half morocco, gilt edges . . 35s. nett. 

Fully bound Edition de Luxe . - 55s. nett. 



'3 

Published in the Spring of 1903. 

RECOLLECTIONS OF A TOWN BOY AT WEST- 
MINSTER, 1849-1855. By CAPTAIN F. MARKHAM, late Rifle Brigade. 
Demy 8vo. With Illustrations. los. 6d. nett. 

NATURE'S LAWS AND THE MAKING OF 

PICTURES. By W. L. WYLLIE, A.R.A. With over eighty illustrations from 
drawings by the author, and a few finely executed reproductions of famous 
paintings in the National Gallery. Super royal 4to., 155. nett. 

WITH MACDONALD IN UGANDA. By MAJOR 

HERBERT H. AUSTIN, C.M.G., D.S.O., R.E., Fellow of the Royal Geographical 
Society. Demy 8vo. With numerous Illustrations and a Map. 155. nett- 

THE TALE OF A TOUR IN MACEDONIA. By 

G. F. ABBOTT. Demy 8vo. With Illustrations and a Map. Second Impression. 
145. nett. 

JOURNALS OF FIELD-MARSHAL COUNT VON 

BLUMENTHAL, for 1866 and 1870-71. Edited by COUNT ALBRECHT VON 
BLUMENTHAL. Translated by MAJOR A. D. GILLESPIE-ADDISON. Demy 8vo. 
With Portraits and Maps. I2s. 6d. nett. 

THE MINOR MORALIST. By Mrs. HUGH BELL. 

Second Impression. Crown 8vo., 45. 6d. nett. 

THE DEAN OF ST. PATRICK'S: A Play in Four Acts. 

By Mrs. HUGH BELL. Crown 8vo., 2s. 6d. nett. 



NOVELS. 

THE ABSURD REPENTANCE. By ST. JOHN LUCAS. 

Crown 8vo. 6s. 

THE LITTLE RED FISH. By PHILIP LAURENCE 

OLIPHANT. Crown 8vo. 6s. 

THE TAINT OF THE CITY. By CHARLES EDDY, 

Author of ' Winifred and the Stockbroker.' Crown 8vo. 6s. 

THE TEMPLARS. By E. H. LACON WATSON. 

Crown 8vo. 6s. 



14 

STANDARD WORKS FOR THE LIBRARY. 

THE ENEMIES OF ENGLAND. By the Hon. GEORGE PEEL. 
Second Impression. Demy 8vo., I2s. 6d. nett. 

IMPERIUM ET LIBERTAS. By BERNARD HOLLAND. Demy 8vo., 
I2s. 6d. nett. 

ENGLAND IN EGYPT. By VISCOUNT MILNER, High Commissioner 
for South Africa. With an additional chapter by Sir CLINTON DAWKINS. 
Eleventh Impression. Revised, with Maps. 6s. 

TURKEY IN EUROPE. By ODYSSEUS. With Maps, i vol., demy 8vo., 
1 6s. 

STYLE. By WALTER RALEIGH, Professor of English Literature in the 
University of Glasgow. Fourth Edition. Crown 8vo., 55. 

MILTON. By WALTER RALEIGH. Crown 8vo., cloth, 6s. 
WORDSWORTH. By WALTER RALEIGH. Crown 8vo. cloth, 6s. 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. By WALTER RALEIGH. Second 
Edition. Crown 8vo., cloth, 2s. 6d. 

THE HOUSE OF SELEUCUS. By EDWYN ROBERT BEVAN. 2 vols. 
With Portraits, Plates, and Maps. Demy 8vo., 305. nett. 

CROSS-BENCH VIEWS ON CURRENT CHURCH QUESTIONS. 
By H. HKNSLEY HENSON, Canon of Westminster and Rector of St. Margaret's. 
Demy 8vo., I2s. 6d. 

THE CHANCES OF DEATH, and other Studies in Evolution. By KARL 
PEARSON, F.R.S., Author of 'The Ethic of Free Thought,' etc. 2 vols., 
demy 8vo., Illustrated, 253. nett. 

ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR. By C. LLOYD MORGAN, LL.D., F.R.S., 

Principal of University College, Bristol. With numerous Illustrations. Large 
crown, los. 6d. 

HABIT AND INSTINCT : A STUDY IN HEREDITY. By Professor 
LLOYD MORGAN. Demy 8vo., i6s. 

FOOD AND THE PRINCIPLES OF DIETETICS. By ROBERT 
HUTCHISON, M.D. Edin., M.R.C.P., Assistant Physician to the London Hospital 
and to the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street. Fifth Impression. 
Illustrated. Demy 8vo., 1 6s. nett. 

THE PRINCIPLES OF LANDED ESTATE MANAGEMENT. By 
HENRY HERBERT SMITH, Fellow of the Institute of Surveyors ; Agent to the 
Marquess of Lansdowne, K.G., the Earl of Crewe, Lord Methuen, etc. With 
Plans and Illustrations. Demy 8vo., l6s. 

OLD ENGLISH GLASSES. An Account of Glass Drinking- Vessels in 
England from Early Times to the end of the Eighteenth Century. With 
Introductory Notices of Continental Glasses during the same period, Original 
Documents, etc. Dedicated by special permission to Her Majesty the Queen. 
By ALBERT HARTSHORNE, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. Illustrated by 
nearly 70 full-page Tinted or Coloured Plates in the best style of Lithography, 
and several hundred outline Illustrations in the text. Super royal 4to., ,3 33. 
nett. 



POPULAR BOOKS. 

A BOOK ABOUT ROSES. By the Very Rev. S. REYNOLDS HOLE, 
Dean of Rochester. Nineteenth Edition. Illustrated by H. G. MOON and 
G. S. ELGOOD, R.I. Presentation Edition, with Coloured Plates, 6s. Popular 
Edition, 35. 6d. 

A BOOK ABOUT THE GARDEN AND THE GARDENER. By 
Dean HOLE. Popular Edition. Crown 8vo., 35. 6d. 

THE MEMORIES OF DEAN HOLE. By Dean HOLE. With Illus- 
trations from Sketches by Leech and Thackeray. Popular Edition. Crown 
8vo., 6s. 

A LITTLE TOUR IN IRELAND. By ' OXONIAN' (Dean Hole). Illus- 
trated by JOHN LEECH. Large crown 8vo., 6s. 

SEVENTY YEARS OF IRISH LIFE. By the late W. R. LE FANU. 
Popular Edition. Crown 8vo., 6s. 

PHASES OF MY LIFE. By the Very Rev. FRANCIS PiGOU, Dean of 
Bristol. Sixth Edition. With Portrait. Crown 8vo., 6s. 

FRANCIS: the Little Poor Man of Assisi. By JAMES ADDERLEY, 
Author of 'Stephen Remarx.' Second Edition. With Portrait of St. Francis. 
Crown 8vo., 35. 6d. 

MONSIEUR VINCENT: a Short Life of St. Vincent de Paul. By 
JAMES ADDERLEY. With Devotional Portrait. Small crown 8vo., 33. 6d. 

MEMORIES OF THE MONTHS (First, Second, and Third Series). 
By the Right Hon. Sir HERBERT MAXWELL, Bart., M.P. With Photogravure 
Illustrations. Large crown 8vo., 3 vols. (sold separately), 75. 6d. each. 

POULTRY-KEEPING AS AN INDUSTRY FOR FARMERS AND 
COTTAGERS. By EDWARD BROWN, F.L.S., Secretary of the National 
Poultry Organization Society. Fourth Edition. Crown 410., Illustrated, 6s. 

FANCY DRESSES DESCRIBED. By ARDERN HOLT An Alphabetical 
Dictionary of Fancy Costumes. With full accounts of the Dresses. About 60 
Illustrations by LILIAN YOUNG, many of them coloured. Demy 8vo., 75. 6d. 
nett. 

A TEXT-BOOK OF NURSING FOR HOME AND HOSPITAL USE. 
By C. WEEKS SHAW. Revised and largely re- written by W. RAD FORD, House 
Surgeon at the Poplar Hospital, under the supervision of Sir DYCE DUCKWORTH, 
M.D., F.R.C.P. Fully Illustrated. Crown 8vo., 33. 6d. 

COMMON-SENSE COOKERY : Based on Modern English and Conti- 
nental Principles worked out in Detail. By Colonel A. KENNEY-HEBBERT 
(' Wyvern'). Large crown 8vo., over 500 pages, 7s. 6d. 

BY THE SAME AUTHOR. 

FIFTY BREAKFASTS : containing a great variety of New and Simple 
Recipes for Breakfast Dishes. Small 8vo., 2s. 6d. 

FIFTY DINNERS. Small 8vo., cloth, 2s. 6d. 
FIFTY LUNCHES. Small 8vo., cloth, 2s. 6d. 



i6 

BOOKS FOR THE YOUNG. 

MY ADVENTURES DURING THE LATE WAR : A Narrative of 
Shipwreck, Captivity, Escapes from French Prisons, and Sea Service in 1804-1814. 
By DON AT HENCHY O'BRIEN, Captain R.N. Edited by Professor C. W. OMAN. 
With Maps and Illustrations. Large crown 8vo., 75. 6d. 

ADVENTURES WITH THE CONNAUGHT RANGERS FROM 

1809-1814. By WILLIAM GRATTAN, Esq., late Lieutenant Connaught Rangers. 
Edited by Professor C. W. OMAN. With Maps and Illustrations. Large crown 
8vo., ;s. 6d. 

WAGNER'S HEROES. By CONSTANCE MAUD. Illustrated by H. GRAN- 
VILLE FELL. Fourth Impression. Crown 8vo., 53. 

WAGNER'S HEROINES. By CONSTANCE MAUD. Illustrated by 
W. T. MAUD. Second Impression. Crown 8vo., 55. 

MEN OF MIGHT. Studies of Great Characters. By A. C. BENSON, M.A., 
and L F. W. TATHAM, M.A., Assistant Masters at Eton College. Fourth 
Impi :ssion. Crown 8vo., cloth, 35. 6d. 

LAMB'S ADVENTURES OF ULYSSES. With an Introduction by 
ANDREW LANG. Square 8vo., cloth, is. 6d. Also the Prize Edition, gilt 
edges, 2s. 

PATRIOTIC SONG : A Book of English Verse. Being an Anthology of 
the Patriotic Poetry of the English Empire from the Defeat of the Spanish 
Armada until the Death of Queen Victoria. Selected and arranged by ARTHUR 
STANLEY.^ Crown 8vo., 2s. 6d. 

HISTORICAL TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE. By A. T. QUILLER- 

COUCH (' Q '). Author of ' The Ship of Stars,' etc. Crown 8vo., 6s. 

FRIENDS OF THE OLDEN TIME. By ALICE GARDNER, Lecturer 
in History at Newnham College, Cambridge. Fourth Impression. Illustrated, 
2s. 6d. 

ROME : THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD. By ALICE GARDNER, 
Second Edition. Illustrated, 35. 6d. 

ANIMAL SKETCHES : A Popular Book of Natural History. By Professor 
C. LLOYD MORGAN, F.R.S. Crown 8vo., 35. 6d. 

TAILS WITH A TWIST. An Animal Picture-Book by E. T. REED, 
Author of ' Pre- Historic Peeps,' etc. With Verses by 'A BELGIAN HARE.' 
Oblong demy 4to., 35. 6d. 

ERIC THE ARCHER. By MAURICE H. HERVEY. With 8 full-page 
Illustrations. Handsomely bound, crown 8vo., 55. 

THE REEF OF GOLD. By MAURICE H. HERVEY. With numerous 
full-page Illustrations. Handsomely bound, gilt edges, 55. 

HARTMANN THE ANARCHIST ; or, The Doom of the Great City. 
By E. DOUGLAS FAWCETT. With sixteen full-page and numerous smaller 
Illustrations by F. T. JANE. Crown 8vo., 35. 6d. 



EDWARD ARNOLD, 37 BEDFORD STREET, STRAND, LONDON. 



Tr