Sidor som bilder

the tune without a name.” “A tune without a name,” said a girl, “cannot ye christen it, man, here fiddler, play up “Honest Man John Ochiltree.” A shout of laughter succeeded: “a noble name by my faith,” exclaimed many voices at once, and the new name was shouted by an hundred tongues to the infinite mortification of the fiddler and me: our vanity was wounded. The name of the tune was fixed as unalterably as the laws of the Medes, and from that hour forward it haunted me throughlife; while the popularity of the air was encreased by the noises which a rustic minstrel soon caused to jingle in rude chorus to the air. Thus I got the name of “Honest Man John Ochiltree,” and the story was a winter's laugh to the parish. But there is no sour without its sweet: all this had been witnessed by a farmer's daughter, whom the pursuit of many lovers had not rendered capricious, and who thought she perceived in the patience with which I endured all this musical persecution the materials for making a quiet and tractable husband. She trod on my foot returning from a hillpreaching, and apologized with so much grace, that I thought her the fairest maiden of the whole valley; and after touching on the sermon, and quoting the Song of Solomon, we parted with a mutual promise of meeting in her father's barn at midnight. I was punctual to my tryste, and so accurate was the devout maiden, that the clock struck twelve as she turned the key in the granary door. She opened a little wicket and let in the summer moonlight, and seating ourselves on two inverted ..., we sat in collateral splendour, side by side, amid the silent light of the luminary. I looked at the maiden, who kept looking on the opposite wall with an aspect of demure but arch composure, and seemed to count the stones of which it was built. Had I been afflicted with the cureless evil of verse making, I had now a matchless opportunity of displaying my gift. The silence of the place,—the glow of the moon,_the beauty of the maiden, Mary Anderson by name, her white hands clasped over a whiter bosom, her locks a glistering and a golden brown, escaping from the

comb, descending in ringlets down her left cheek and shoulder, and taking a silvery or a golden hue as they moved to her breath amid the pure moonlight! This was my first attempt at courtship. I trembled much, and the words of love, too, trembled on my tongue. Let no man sit many minutes silent in the presence of his mistress: he will be forgiven for folly, for more serious of. fences, but never for silence. Had I made my debút in darkness, I think I should have spoken, and spoken, too, with much tenderness and true love. But the fault lay with the moon, plague on the capricious planet: I never see her fickle light glimmering through the chink of a barn wall, but I think on the time when I lost my first love through her influence. We sat mute for the space of a quarter of an hour; and I had nearly vanquished my aversion to the moon's presence, when an owl rested from her flight on the roof above us for a moment, and just as the words had assembled on my lips, uttered a long and melancholy “whoop hoo.” I wished not to pitch the tone of courtship by a sound so ominous, and remained mute. I mustered my resolution again, and the first word (I would give the world to remember what word it was) was actually escaping from my lips, when a sucking-calf lowed, perhaps for its dam, in a stall near us, and the voices of the four and the two footed animalso were blended so curiously in utterance, that a judge of natural music would have found difficulty in awarding to each their own proper notes. This was a sound much more mischievous than the voice of the owl: the maiden, devout as she was, could not suppress a smile, and rising, said, “I think we know enough of one another's minds for one night,” and vanished from my side; so I closed my first night's wooing. I once had the courage to propose to her the endurance of another vigil, she set her hands to her mouth, and “whooted out whoots three:” we never met again. But I was an inextinguishable lover. I disciplined my mind, pampered up my courage, and having, as I hoped, inured myself to the sharp encounter of female wit, boldly resolved to go in quest of an adventure.

I have traveled much in the world; but all parts of the earth are surpassed by Scotland in the amorous spirit of its peasantry: there a maiden has many lovers, and a peasant many mistresses: adventures equaling those of romance are encountered ; and the effusion of men's blood, as well as maiden's tears, not unfrequently follows those nocturnal excursions. I walked resolutely abroad, and hoped the achievement of some notable adventure. For some time I was without success; but at last a long stream of light from a farmer's window led me up to the casement, within which I observed his eldest daughter, a gay damsel of eighteen, couched on the watch, and waiting the approach of some happy wooer. She opened the window when I appeared, but seeing a form she had not hoped for, stood holding the sash in her hand, pondering whether she should take the earliest blessing which heaven had sent in human shape. At this moment her expected lover appeared, a spruce youth from the neighbouring city, pruned and landered, and scenting the way with musk and frankincense. The maiden wrung her hands with vexation: her wit could not deal with more than one at a time; and as I was never of a quarrelsome nature, and had an aversion to intrude upon true love, I turned suddenly to retreat. The young man started off too, and as my road lay the very way he ran, he imagined I pursued him with some sinister intention, so he augmented his speed; I still gained on him; a lake was in the way: I have ever had an affection for running water since it received my rival in its bosom, plump over head and ears, with a dash that startled the wild ducks for a mile round. He swam through like an evil spirit, while I returned to his mistress, and found her holding the casement open, perhaps for the successful lover, so I leaped gaily into the chamber, and, seated by the maiden's side, began to hope I, was conquering my fate. The night, gloomy before, became ten-fold darker now ; the wind, acied by heavy gushes of rain, shook window and door, and raised in the chimney top that long and melancholy whine which so many of the peasants reckon ominous. The night

waxed wilder and wilder, and to augment the tempest, the fires flashed and the thunder roared in such rapid succession, that the walls of the chamber appeared in continual flame, and the furniture shook and clattered. Now I have heard of lovers who con– sidered a stormy tryste night as a kind gift of fortune, and who could enlist the tempest which “ roared and rustled” around them into the service of love, and compel it to make a pathetic supplication in their behalf to an ummerciful mistress. I never liked these cloudy influences, and instead of making a vassal of elemental commotion, it always made a servant of me; a high wind and a storm, accompanied by thunder and fire, made me quiver and quake. I gave ample proof on this unfortunate night of my submission to the genius of the blast : the maid laid her white arm round my neck, and when she was soothing my terrors with soft words, the door of the chamber opened and in glided her mother, saying, “lassie are ye waking P” To find a lover in her daughter's chamber was perhaps neither uncommon nor unexpected; but to find a new face, to find me, “honest man John Ochiltree,” whose name was doomed to descend to posterity at the top of a ridiculous reel tune, the disclosure was to be dreaded ; so the subtle maiden, unloosing a comb from a thick fleece of long auburn hair, threw such a profusion of ringlets over my face as nearly suffocated me; waving her hand at the same time for her mother to retire. The prudent mother, however, advanced, saying, “bless me, lassie, this is a fearful night to have lovetrystes and wooester-daffin in. I have trysted on mony a queer o: myself, but on none that equaled this; yet I think nae the waur of the lad who keeps his faith on a o: that makes the wide world tremble.” The daughter still waved her hand, but the dame was not to be daunted; and thus she persisted: “but Jenny, my bonnie bairn, when will ye put an end to these dallyings; no that I would have ye to make your election rashly, in the calf-love, as the rude proverb says, for ye're young and no at the end of your teens till the bud be on the bush; but when will ye quit these dallyings, I say, and single out a discreet husband and a devout? Ye have rich lovers, more than one or two, yet set not thy heart on the siller, lass, though I would hardl counsel ye to wed without it. loving lad in lilly white linen looks weel enough in a fule sang, but give me the lad with bills and bonds, and good set siller, who can fill and fetch mair. Yet make not gowd a god in the choice of thy heart, though to give ye mair for a bridal-tocher than three hundred pounds, and put ye into a fu' farm, is what I wadnae counsel thy father to do.” The daughter still waved her mother to be gone, but the covering of my face excited the good dame's suspicions, and she resolved to see me face to face, though it might diminish the amount of Jenny's admirers. No resolution was ever carried more quickly into execution. “But Jenny, woman, what ails the lad that he hides his face; if he has nae a face worth looking at, he's no a lad for thee. And I ken not a lad in the arish who might wish to hide his ad, except that daft chield, Jock Ochiltree—Jock Gomeral would suit him better: his grand-dame was burnt for a witch at the west bowport of Edinburgh, and if the grandson was burnt for a fool there would be no waste of fuel on the family.” And removing a handful of her daughter's hair as she spoke, she saw me, and shouted, till her voice fairly exceeded the tempest that still raged without: “Nay, but the Lord preserve me ! his presence be near! here's that aping goose, Jock Gowk himself; or my lips I wadnae defile with his name, much less my arms with his person. Oh, to think that ever thy mother's daughter thought of lending credit to such a race, or bearing a bonnie bairntime to a born gomeral. Out of my house, I say, out of my house ; start, else I shall write the notes of thy aim tune on thy face, seven crotchets to the bar.” “O mother,” said the submissive daughter, “turn not the poor lad out on such a night as this: the thunder and fire, the flash and the din will kill him; for he shakes at every clap like the leaf o' the linn.” “Na, worse than all,” shouted the dame, in a tone where scorn was blended with anger; “na, worse than all: to be but a fool is no such a failing; there's Captain

what's his name? whose whole wit lies in feeding capons, and who is hardly fit for watching the worms from the kale, yet he's made a justice o' the peace: but what can one do with a coward? I'm wasting words; I'm whistling a reel tune to a milestone: out of my house, I say; I will not defile both window and door with thee, so leap and vanish.” And holding up the casement, I leaped gladly out, happy at escaping from the wicked wagging of her tongue into the more endurable evil of wind, and rain, and fire. This unlucky repulse, with many a mischievous embellishment, flew over the parish; but I was not to be daunted. On the third evening after this mixed adventure of good and evil, I made an excursion beyond the limits of my parish, and entered upon the wild moorlands, where the dwellings are few and far between. A young man finds ready access amon marriageable maidens; so I soon foun myself seated at a sheep farmer's fire, in company of the good man's only daughter, a maid both ripe and rosy, with her father and mother, and some fifteen sheep dogs, as auditors of our conversation. At first, our talk was of that kind which newspapers call desultory; the weather, with all its variations; the fruits in their season; and the cattle after their kind; and contracting the circle of our scrutiny as we proceeded, we at last settled upon the cares of a pasture farm. We talked of sheep after their sorts, the Cheviot breed, the auld stock of Tinwald, the lang sheep and the short mug eves, gimmers, crocks, and dinmans; nor did we fail to discuss the diseases which preyed on this patriarchal wealth; mawks and moorill, rot and leaping-illness; and so extensive was my knowledge in all this, and also on the more mysterious mischief of “evil e'en,” elf-arrows, and witchcraft, that the old dame grew astonished and whispered to her husband: “ This lad's words are worth drops of gold; speak him cannilie, Sandie, speak him cannilie.” Her daughter, too, had her own thoughts: she appeared to employ herself with the intricacies of a skein of thread, but contrived at every motion of her hand to steal a glance at me from beneath a thick mass of natural curls which rivaled in density, and nearly in colour, the fairest fleece of any of her father's flock. Her hand, too, unwittingly paused in its work, and shed back the curls from her ears that she might hear more accurately my ideas of fire-side economy and joy. The old man alone seemed slow in entering into the prospect of wedding his daughter's visible wealth to one whose chief substance was culative. He sat solacing his #. with a scheme which had no connexion with my happiness. I saw something sinister in his looks; I heard him utter many a dry and dubious cough as his wife urged his admission of me as a suitor; and perceived, like the half hope of bliss held out by the Puritans, that I might be elected but should never be chosen. At this moment the latch of the door was lifted, and a human figure tottered in, leaning twofold over a staff polished like glass with long use. It was a neighbouring moorland farmer, and a suitor to the maiden. He was dressed, or rather encumbered with cloaths which in the shape of two coats, a large one and a less, showed the antique skill of cloth-cutting at the time of the Scottish persecution. Over all these a large plaid extended, and a bonnet that nearly overshaded the plaid crowned the whole. He removed this last mentioned article, and displayed a face as sharp and biting as a northern frost, and a couple of small keen and inquisitive grey eyes which seemed only acquainted with arithmetical calculation. He smoothed back his locks which seemed to have long rebelled against the comb, and casting his eyes over us, said with a prefatory cough ; “Hale be thy heart, goodman, and happy be thine, goodwife, and merry may thine be, Penney, my winsome quean, mair by token I have sold seven score of dimmans, every cloot, and all to buy thee a bridal garment, lass, and a horse to ride on to the kirking; the fellow of whilk e'll no find from Annan to Nith. ut who in the name of all that's holy can this strange tyke be,” said this venerable gallant, casting a look of no#. delight on me, “his dress would scare the sheep, so he can be no shepherd; and he seems to lack wit to watch the hooded crows from his flock, so he cannot be wealthy;”

and with this unceremonious notice of me, he drew in a chair by the side of the maiden, and stroked down her innumerable curls with his hand, which smelled of tar equal to the suffocation of any town damsel. She smiled, for the smell was frankincense to her; the ancient suitor smiled also, a smile, rivaling that of a death's head on a grave-stone, and said, “Well may ye laugh, lassie ; that's the right hand that lays on the tar with mair skill than the proudest man in Tiviotdale, and has more flocks to lay tar on, lassie, seventy score of brood ewes; but why need Ibrag 2 a man may ride a summer-day on my farm and no get far over the boundary.” I sat confounded at this display of opulence, which I saw had a strong influence on the maiden's heart, while her father drawing near her, whispered; “Take him, Penney, take him, he's a rich man and well arrayed, he has two tap-coats and a plaid on.” The shepherd maiden looked on this antiquated suitor and she looked on me, but the glow which unrequited love spread over a face of eighteen barely balanced the matter against territorial wealth and its greybearded owner. I had no resource save in youth and health, but my adversary came armed in the charms and might of property, and my more modern looks made but a poor battle against the appeal which riches made to maiden vanity. “Foolish lassie,” said my rival, in a tone which sounded like the first shovel-full of churchyard earth thrown on the lid of a coffin, “ Foolish lassie, why makest thou thy bright een glance from side to side on this stripling and me, as if thou would'st weigh usin a balance? Who is this raw youth thinkest thou? The owner of his own proper person, the laird of no-town-brae, as the proverb says, and lord of windywa's, as singeth the auld . He may wooe you with fine words, but will he drop a bonnet piece of beaten gold in thy lap for every sigh he ives? he may please thee with his ace, and, bating that he looks like a fool, his looks are well enough; but can he cast cantraips over ye as I can do? can he scatter golden spells and paper charms in thy lap, and make ye lady of as mickle land as a hooded crow will fly over when he seeks to prey on the earliest lamb of spring?” And as the old man spoke, he produced from the nook-pouch of his plaid a kind of wallet of rough calfskin, secured with many a strap and string which he unloosed with a kind of prolonged delight, and then diving into the bosom of this mouldy sanctuary of Mammon, fished up the remains of an old stocking. “ Haud thy lap Penney, my woman,” said the owner, and he emptied with a clang into the maiden's lap upwards of an hundred antique pieces of Scottish gold, which avarice had arrested in their circulation before the accession of the house of Stuart. “ There’s as mickleas will array thee for the bridal, and here's documents for property which I will give thee the moment the kirk buckles us.” An old piece of leather, which the diligence of the owner had fashioned from a saddlelap into a pocket-book, supplied him with sundry papers, ...; he described as he submitted them to her examination. “That's a haud-fast bond on the lands of the laird of Sloken-drouth for seven hundred pounds Scots, a sure siller; that's the rights of the lands of Knockhoolie, thirty-five pounds yearly, and yell be called the dame of Knockhoolie, a bonnie title and weel sounding.” But why should I prolong a story of which all who hearken must know the upshot? I saw the wicked speed that Mammon made in the maiden's affections, and sat dumb-founded and despairing. Her look, which was one of grave consideration at first, gradually brightened and expanded; she looked at the riches and she looked at him, and said, “But I'm to have the cheese-siller, and the siller for the udder-locks; a riding habit brown or blue, or one of both ; a grey horse and a side saddle. I am to gang to the two fairs of Dumfries, the St. James's fair of Lanark, to the Cameronian sacrament, and to have a dance at our house twice a year, once at Beltane and once at Hallowmass.” “All shall be as thou sayest, Penney, my princess,” said her lover, interrupting, probably, a long list of expected luxuries; “ so name the bridal-day.” My vexation now exceeded; all bounds of decorum, and I spoke: “ I would counsel ye to

name the day soon, for the brid in has not an hour to lose ; the bridal

cups will barely be dry before they're lacked for his lyke wake; he has little time to spare.” The bride, as I may safely call her, laughed till her eyes were wet, and said, “Well spoken, young man, that's the most sensible thing ye have said this blessed night, and so, as there is no time to be lost, ye say, let us be married on Saturday; let the fault fall on the lag end of the week.” For this mention of early joy the bridegroom endeavoured to inflict the penance of a kiss on the lips which uttered it. —“ Haud off,” said the damsel, “filthy body, ye stink of tar; bide off till the blessing's said, till the meat be consecrated; go home and nurse your breath, for it's wondrous feeble.” I now rose to depart, the bride conducted me to the door, and endeavoured to console me in a departing whisper: “This is Monday,+I'm to be wed on Saturday,+let mesee, my father and mother will be frae hame on Thursday, so come owne here in the braw moonlight, and let us have an hour's running round the haystacks, and daffin in the darksome nooks. Auld Worlds-worm,-Auld Simon Setsiller,-him there with the twa tap coats and the plaid on, wha has not as much breath as would bless his breakfast, he'll ne'er be the wiser on't: what he disnae ken will give him no manner of trouble.” We parted, but we met no more. After this unsuccessful inroad on the moorlands, I resolved to push my fortune no farther without some more sensible assurance of success. I was, therefore, on the look out for the young and the handsome: I frequented fairs with the fidelity of a horse dealer; attended all the merrymakings round with the punctuality: of a fiddler; and went devoutly to the kirk with the regularity of an ancient maiden whose thoughts had been weaned, by the counsel of aching bones and the eloquence of wrinkles, from free love to religion. But I was doomed to every species of mortification and repulse, and had actually in despair procured a copy of the register of maidens' baptisms in the parish, with the serious resolution of courting them regularly forward according to their seniority of claim,

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