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NARRATIVE OF NATHAN ADAMSON,
STUDENT OF DIVINITY.
Now may it please thee, my most learned youth,
The Courtly Critic. Since it hath pleased the sheriff, lads. I had nothing to put forth my and some of the greater portioners of hands to, therefore, save to pluck and the county who patronize religious to eat of that small round red delia professors and have kirk-livings in cious wild fruit called by the maitheir gift, to request of me, Nathan dens Cranberries, which wasted their Adamson, Student of Divinity, a clear sweetness and strength among the and circumstantial narrative of all moors and mosses of Dryfesdale. that I know concerning the last days Now it came to pass, that while I and death of that singular old man, busied myself in the instruction of the John Corson, I take up my pen in children, in number seven, and intromy little chamber, with the brown duced them to the riches of that premoors of Dryfesdale and the love of cious book, Crumbs of Comfort, and truth before my eyes. During the other meritorious works, there came summer in which I delivered my towards our abode a certain man of probationary discourse, and had, as the border, a cunning dealer in bonethe peasantry somewhat quaintly but bodkins, ivory busks for maiden's bodaptly term it, my mouth opened for dice, sedate books for the grave and the edification of mankind, vacant the old, and romantic tales and trapulpits and empty kirks happened to ditions, and specimens of profane be scarce, and patrons—may heaven minstrelsy for the giddy and the mend their judgment ! - somewhat young-and his name
was John blind, and I was compelled for a time to Corson. And when I saw him afar turn my attention and my gifts to less off, I said to myself, I shall surely important things. Now it happened become the possessor of some of this that I sojourned for a time with that man's rare and curious tracts, which, sedate and worthy person, Walter filled with proverbial wisdom, sage Halliday, at his house on Dryfe- remark, and deep controversy of the bank ; let it not be surmised that I ancient heads of the reformed kirk, put forth my hands, accustomed to will be to me as the honey-comb. holier things, to the shafts of the For be it known, that those erratic plow, or busied myself in the unclean booksellers (their vocation has been though primitive vocation of tending superseded of late by little pitiful cattle. The land, a pastoral and a productions called newspapers) dealt pleasant land, was guiltless of pro- largely in small works of spiritual ducing the luxuries of roots and corn; edification, and moral amusement, the flocks of sheep had many shep- and lyrical hilarity, which our pea herds, who led a sweet and a joyous santry obtained for a small price, and life, sunning themselves on the hill- thus instruction flew through the sides, and stimulating their natural land ;-woe to the cause which has drowsiness by reciting pastoral bal- stayed this pure and healthy stream,
and presented to peasants' lips the deceiving loon-he made me pay poisoned current of politics! As I sweetly for my new gown-a primlooked I heard one of the youngest of rose bloom and a Glasgow patternmy pupils exclaim, as freed from dis- and what was't but a kind of a yelcipline he breathed the free air on the low, woven at Lockmaben and dyed threshold, “ Eh, see! see! here at the Murraywhat-mill, and it threw comes auld John Corson who sold its primrose bloom to the soapsuds our schoolmaster the tawse and my at the very first washing.” mother the Proof Catechism, plague The object of the maiden's anger on him.” (o
Plague on him, indeed!” now approached—but he came with responded a menial damsel, Ellen a changed step, an altered look, and a Macgowan by name,-a rosy and a subdued tone of voice. Formerly the kindly quean, whose deluding eyes, pleasant old man passed gaily over exercised on my fellow collegian, the the threshold, threw the door against youngest son of the laird of Kissan- the wall, and chaunted the following cumagain, deprived the kirk of one of rhyming summary of his articles of its fairest ornaments and chief pillars, merchandise: “ Troth and atweel it's him! the false
JOHN CORSON'S CHAUNT.
As a lover's tale, or a maiden's vow. But now, instead of advancing with many years, stationed itself before 'song and with joy, the abstract and him, looked in his face, and the mobrief chronicle of the district came tion of its tail and the brightness of pale and staggering, and would have its eyes increased as it observed its fallen on the threshold had not the master's recovery. “ Ah! Whitefoot, menial maiden supported him in her lad," said the old man in a low voice,
“ Preserve me, man, John and stroking with a palsied hand the Corson, now this is one of your queer smooth glossy fleece of his favourite, fits; have ye been harried, or have “ many a weary step have we walkye wrestled with a ghost and had the ed together,-many a wild place have worst on't? Hout man, ye mauna we found our bed in,---and many a die till I get a good pennyworth from cold night hast thou lain at my feet ye, the first I ever got.” The old when the sacks were damp and the man answered not a word, but with farmers churlish--but we maun part an unequal step and a suppressed soon-I maun go to the cauld grave, groan made his way to the langsettle, and thou maun seek a master.” The which was spread soft for his accom- dog gave a low and melancholy modation ; and, seating himself, look- whimper-licked the old man's hands, ed with an eye of thanks to the and seemed to understand the import groupe of sympathizing faces collect- of his words. Its master proceeded ed around him. Afine sheep-dog, -" Ah! my auld white-bosomed the wandering man's comrade for friend, I never feared the face of man
in my youth with three feet of a good sore head, save when it was Tinwald oak in my hand-nor did I broke at Lockerbie market by the dread him in my old age when I had ellwand of Rob Somerville. Ellthee by my side; bread I never broke wand did I say !--that an auld man but thou hadst' thy share; meat I like me should lie!--it wanted three never tasted but thou wert a partaker; thumbs' breadths of that honest length. but bread shalt thou receive from thy Nor had I ever such a visitation as a master's hand no more, and meat dwam or a cholic, saving the time ! shall be no longer parted between us. was suppered on sour sowans and The ellwand of time hath measured Lochmaben milk at the laird's of Cummy days - and the hours of my exist- mercraft. Ye'll have heard of Lochence are sold off to a nail and a little maben milk, goodwife? It is a kind remnant.” The dog renewed again of whig that stands and ferments, itsmelancholy whimpering, and licked till it gathers a top or mantle, over its master's hand held out to caress which the cat can walk dry shod, it.
and when it is shaken it roars and “ I wonder what's the matter with soughs like loch-reeds. From all my eyes,” said a shepherd, removing such fermentations may all honest the moisture which the old man's travellers be delivered! Eh, praise to address to his dog had brought to gude! but I think I am a hantle bethis eye-lids. “And I marvel what ter-my blessing on the home of possesses us all,” said the mistress of Walter Halliday! The sick and the the mansion, " to stand gazing on the lame shall sing and leap under the afflicted man, without seeking to righteous man's roof,-a saying that cherish or comfort him."-" Mony merits a place in a sermon-and in a thanks,” said the old man, “ mony sermon shall it be though I should braw thanks and bonnie, my kindly preach it myself.” dame-a mouthful of clear cauld wa- “ I wish,” said the wife of Walter ter to myself, and a bite of bread to Halliday, pleased perhaps, though my poor aald faithful and famished she affected to be scandalized with companion here,” laying his hand on the odd kind mixture of profane and the dog's head as he spoke, “ would, serious things in which John Corson's through grace from aboon, do us speech abounded; “I wish ye would baith good.” So sensible seemed the mind the weight of seventy years old man of the grace and favour that press ye so sorely—that the which his habitual pleasantry obtain- grave may be your next house of reed him, that he endeavoured to smile fuge-that ye are aneath a devout as two whitehanded maidens placed man's roof, and just escaped, I susabundance of the luxuries of pastoral pect, from the perils of damp straw life before him. But the gravity with and wet sacks in the barn of Jock which ill health clouds the merriest Jillock of Wasterha." Indeed, brows darkened down upon his smile; goodwife, and that's a true tale,“ and, taking off his bonnet, he blessed said the wandering man, with a sigh, the food before him. From the glance and a look half serious and half cowith which he regarded his dog, we mic--this is a land of misery and imagined he included the companion mirth, of lamentation and joy-we of his wanderings in his intercession, come screaming into the world, and nor did any of the shepherds feel go wailing out of it. I have often scandalized by this association, for a thought as I lay among the long sheep-dog in a pastoral district ob- blooming broom on the braes of tains something of the distinction of Dalswinton, and looked down on an adopted child of the family. the religious multitude of Camero
When John had refreshed himself, nians in the green glen below, that « Ah, gudewife," said he, “ for fifty the world, broad and wide as it is, years and five-from foolish fifteen was aptly typified by a hill-preachto silly seventy, have I scattered the ing. There stands the man of God blessings of bone-combs and ballads -his hands uplifted-his grey hairs over the mountains of Nithsdale and glistening in the summer sun, and Annandale, and never had a pang at the golden words of admonition and the heart save once, and that was gospel-chastening, and consolation when Nancie Corrie forsook me for and spiritual grace, flowing from his the sake of three yards of red ribbon unwearied lips. Beneath him in
rank succeeding rank-groupe breath- and I might aiblins no, but through ing on the neck of groupe,-sit in si- grace I should try." lence and sore trembling all those This cup of comfort was speedily whose heads are bald, whose locks prepared, and presented to the old are grey, and for whom the ripe and man by the hand of the wife of ready grave is gaping. But all Walter Halliday herself. around, the young, and the ripe, and brought me drink with her lily-white the rosy, are poured in glittering hand,” said he, “ and she blest me array ;- the maiden who wears the with her kind eye as she held it to ribbons of seven lovers, and sighs as my lips ;-I have seen the day I could she looks about for more, and the have sung a song for this, and I may youth whose feet are familiar with have breath enough yet to try;" and the midnight way to damsels' win- muttering a brief grace, he emptied dows, and whose glory it is to have the cup at a draught. “ Blessings on tasted the lips and obtained the he- thy right hand, goodwife, for it has nediction of half the fair maids of mixed up one of the sweetest mouththe parish. Ah, goodwife, well I re- fuls that ever passed atween my lips. member ye myself some thirty years And now I think I shall be able to and three ago, sitting on a Sunday spread out before this devout young morning on Quarrelwood brae ;-a man, Nathan Adamson, preacher of sweeter face and two fairer eyes were the word, some of the singular stores never turned on old John Farley, the of learning with which my pack is Cameronian preacher ;-and I have so largely endowed.” So saying, he heard him often say that your een unlocked his repository, and submit80 bright, and your looks so bonnie, ted to my examination a singular and your locks so long and so curling, mixture of worldly-wise and profane had nearly spoiled one of the sappiest things, and many matters of a higher spiritual sermons he ever poured and purer import. “Here,” said he, for:h. But John Farley's in his “is that remarkable volume,-a book grave, and John Somebodyelse is tra- written in a grand time, and by one of velling the like road, and the eyes of the princes of the calling- The Last the wife of Walter Halliday will Battle of Zechariah Boyd. Young never commit the sin of spoiling a hill- man, art thou an admirer of the richest sermon more.
poesie? I mean not poesie clipt into “ Bodie, foolish bodie,” said the quantities and pointed with rhyme at dame, in a tone less churlish than the ends. I mean not that wanton kindly, “ keep your breath to bless and witty damsel with gold in her yourself, nor suffer your lips to ears, and fringes at her mantle, and utter those frivolous stories. Youth a bell hung behind which ringeth ever is a pleasant and a gladsome time, as she goeth, and which men mistake and we cannot hinder our fancy from for melody-but I mean that dame, flying back to the days of our teens, sedately beautiful and demurely and presenting to our eyes many a charming, whose garb is fine and scene, where wisdom runs round the costly but glittereth not, and whose bush after folly, and lips which footstep has a music like the melody should praise the Most High, and of the sublimest hymn. Such is the limbs which should kneel in prayer, poesie thou wilt find in the book of sing wanton songs, and leap and our venerable worthy. But thou art dance, and make profane gestures to young, and there is a light in thy the sound of idle instruments." looks which may sometimes wish to “Aye, aye, good wife," said the re- shine on less austere things. Here is buked dealer in ballads, “ the wisest a book which charms the maiden at and most devout can remember by a her task and the dame in her chamtime the joys of their youth; and ber- where youth learns lessons of that brings to my mind how in a love, and age finds food for devotion, small vessel I have a drop of that even that dubious auxiliary to sanccreature-comfort called brandy-a tity, Rutherford's Letters. What ails piece of that treacherous sweetener ye, man, at honest Rutherford ? I'm of deceiving drink called sugar; and thinking I have mistaken my cuse. were a drop of the one and a tasting tomer-and that for all your devout of the t'other mingled in a cup of exterior ye want to shake your sides warm water, I might aiblins take it, with the rustic glee and familiar hu
mour of merry Allan Ramsay—and lace among the smooth words, and here's the book as I shall answer for't exact and measured periods, of the -I thought I had long since dis- learned and the polite. missed the cheerful Bard of Glengo- To this I answered, and said, nar from the society of the graver “ Old man, since thy adventures are worthies of Caledonia."
so amusing and instructive, why dost I may not enter upon all the light thou not write them, and circulate and frivolous matters over which our them for thine own emolument, and discourse wandered; we soon laid the edification of mankind ? They written and elaborate learning a- would be of a ring-straked, speckled, side, and touched upon those float- and spotted kind, even as human life ing and traditional things which is.” He shook his head, and replied, were wont to be the chief solace of “ My tongue is ready, but my hand our winter nights,—the parables and is slow, and I could relate in an hour allegories of the church, and the what would take me a twelvemonth wild narratives in prose and verse of to write. It took me once two full a people who sought after mirth and hours by the sun dial to make out amusement. In those things the old the account of three penny histories man discovered a knowledge ex- which I sold to the penurious portensive and varied, and seemed not a tioner of Kirkmafen; and since the little vain of his oral wisdom, and humiliation of that 'unhappy hour, I even ventured to prefer it to the cold have bid farewell to the pride and and dead information of books. vanity of scholarship." “ Books," said the wandering wise As I sat pondering on the style man,“ are fine things truly, and many and probable extent of this rustic an honest man makes his bread by narrative, and imagining it strewn them; therefore, it behoves us to bless with remnants of old-world wisdom, them. But between you and me, and brief and pithy proverbial reone hour of good warm controversy mark, pursuing at one time the onis well worth a dozen chosen chap- ward and even tenour of its way, ters of any work, save the inspired and anon luxuriating in graphic and
When men address a mul- episodical digressions, I was intertitude, or converse one with another, rupted by the voice of one of the they warm themselves up with de- menial maidens. I looked up, and bate, and utter things of inimitable beheld a girl seated beside ancient beauty, and brevity, and vigour; John; her sweet warm breath on his but who can take the heat and the withered cheek softened down the burning brow of a popular assembly displeasure with which he would into the chamber? We grow cool have otherwise regarded the intruwith the pen and paper before us; sion of two pretty white hands aand instead of the warmth and fresh- mong the lyrical commodities of his ness of original genius, we spread scrip; while two bright eyes, and a over our sheets the frozen beauties of melodious voice, completed the trilaborious learning. Indeed, my young umph of youth and beauty over the and reverend friend, wise men and querulousness of age. She held up witty men have closed the boards of a printed slip of paper, which she their books when they heard my selected from many others of the steps in the porch, and declared they same shape, and the following is the would rather hear auld John Corson rhyme to which the maiden's voice read a chapter of his own curious added a sweetness and a grace, at life, than seek for amusement and so- once natural and moving :
And herbs of every odour ;
With gowans on its border ;
On castle top the starling,
And sigh for May Macfarlane.