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Rambles Round Glasgow
Robroyston, Auchinloch and Chryston


THE name of Wallace, the great Scottish patriot, has ever been held in the highest esteem by the natives of the country for whose independence he fought. Indeed, there is something approaching almost to adoration in the feeling with which the memory of the "Wallace Wight" is universally regarded among the population of Scotland. At the winter ingles, over the length and breadth of the land, when the tale and the song go round the glowing hearth, there is no story so welcome as that which recounts the superhuman exploits of the peerless knight of Elderslie, no lay so acceptable as that which does honour to his prowess. The place of his birth—the hiding-places in which he sought shelter from his foes—and the battlefields on which he fought and bled, are all regarded as hallowed spots of earth by the patriotic peasantry, who point them out with honest pride to the admiration of the stranger. Long pilgrimages, too, are made expressly for the purpose of visiting such scenes. Every one will remember that fine passage in the autobiography of Burns, wherein he describes the effect which the reading of "Blind Harry’s History" had upon his youthful mind. "The story of Wallace," he says, "poured a Scottish prejudice into my veins which will boil along there till the flood-gates of life shut in eternal rest." In another place the poet tells us he walked a goodly number of miles on a Sabbath day to visit the Leglen Wood, which, according to the rhymed chronicle alluded to, had on one occasion afforded concealment to the Scottish hero and his companions:—.

"Syne to the Leglen Wood when it was late,
He made a silent and a safe retreat."

"I explored," he says, "every den and dell where I could suppose my heroic countryman to have lodged, and I recollect (for even then I was a rhymer), that my heart glowed with a wish to be able to make a song on him in some measure equal to his merits." Tannahill also endeavoured to do honour in song to the memory of Wallace; and Campbell, who was born almost on the very spot where the hero encountered and vanquished the Southrons in our own High Street, composed a dirge of deepest pathos on his melancholy death.

Within the scope of these rambles there are several scenes associated by tradition with the memory of

"Scotia’s great but ill-requited thief."

Elderslie, the place of his birth, lies within the compass of a forenoon’s walk from the Cross of Glasgow; and one of his battles was fought on "the Bell o’ the line," within sight of the same spot. Blantyre Priory, a few miles up the river, is said to have witnessed one of his most remarkable escapes from ruthless Southron hands. At Rutherglen kirk, Sir Aymer de Vallance and the "fause Menteith" planned his capture; and at Robroyston, where we now propose to guide our readers, "the deed of shame" was finally consummated.

The sun of a sweet autumn morning, emerging from its veil of chilly mist, flings its broad streams of yellow radiance, intermingled with the huge gray shadows of the towering lines of building, athwart the place of our rendezvous at "King William." On these "plain stanes" strutted the aristocratic Virginia merchants of other days; in the shadow of that edifice, with military pride erect, marched full oft the "Captain Paton" of Lockhart’s inimitable serio-comic muse. Even now we can almost picture to the mind’s eye the genial old martial beau, who "left the Saltmarket in sorrow, grief, and woe."

"His waistcoat, coat, and breeches,
Were all cut off the same web,
Of a beautiful snuff colour,
Or a modest genty drab;
The blue stripe in his stocking
Round his neat trim leg did go,
And his ruffles of the cambric fine
They were whiter than the snow,—
Oh! we ne'er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo'e.

"His hair was curled in order
At the rising of the sun,
In comely rows and buckles smart,
That about his ears did run:
And before there was a toupee
That some inches up did grow;
And behind there was a long queue
That down his back did flow,—
Oh! we ne’er shall see the like of Captain Paton no mo’e."

But the Captain has long gone "the way we all must go," and is sleeping the last long sleep in the shadow of the old Cathedral, not in that of the "Ram’s-horn Kirk" as the poet imagined. The place where our merchants most did congregate, too, is now deserted by the great ones of the city, who, with the rising fortunes of the community, have gradually moved towards the west. Our modern Bailie Nicol Jarvies are no longer to be found in the classic purlieus of the Saltmarket, which is now entirely resigned to folks o’ high degree. The glory has in truth departed from this ancient thoroughfare. But here comes our two companions, with stick in hand, prepared for the road; one a clever young artist, [Mr. William Simpson, who has since achieved distinction as the limner of the Crimean War. His inimitable sketches of the late seat of war, and of its principal events, have won the approbation equally of the soldier and the artist.] on a visit from the great metropolis; the other an old and dear friend, whose name is associated in our mind with all odorous things, he being familiar with all manner of plants, "from the cedar which groweth on Lebanon, even unto the hyssop which springeth from the wall." By many a flowery, many a leafy tie, are our affections interwoven; and many, many a sweet memory of woods, and fields, and streams, and marshes, have we as common property. Our morning salutations over, we wend our way up the crowded and withal repulsive High Street Here, to borrow a passage from the "Life Drama" of our young townsman Alexander Smith,

"We meet sin-bloated faces in the streets,
And shrink as from a blow."

Sin and misery are indeed to be seen here in loathsome union. Squalid mothers are peeping from closes with wan and filthy little children, whom it is a pain to look upon. Strange glimpses of the city’s hidden life are obtained as we pass the noisome vennels; and while we think with pitying horror on the wretched denizens of these dim and dark defiles, we hurry on with grateful feelings, that, however humble our way of life may have been, our lot has hitherto at least been cast in comparatively pure and pleasant places. Yet in several respects this is the most interesting street in the city. In picturesqueness of aspect it has no rival, while it is rife in objects of antiquarian, literary, and historical interest. Every here and there the eye is attracted by those fine old edifices with peaked gables and crowsteps which so gratified Sir David Wilkie when he visited our city, and which so forcibly recall to mind the grandeur of other days. What a noble old pile is the University, with all its glorious memories of the past! What a host of illustrious names come crowding to our lips as we gaze upon its venerable front, or tread with reverent steps its echoing courts! Divines, philosophers, poets, and statesmen, whose names the world will not willingly let die, have passed and repassed beneath that grim portal. It was in the High Street of Glasgow that Adam Smith gave law to nations; that James Watt made those improvements on the steam-engine which have increased a thousandfold the productive power of man; and, it was here the bard of Hope first saw the light of that world which his genius has since so much delighted. "The Bell o’ the Brae" has heard the clash of that terrible sword which preserved the independence of Scotland from the yoke of the stranger; and in its vicinity, during the infancy of Queen Mary, the din of civil war ushered destruction to the "gudes and gear" of our fathers. It was at the foot of the New Vennel, near the Infantry Barracks, that the "battle of the Butts," to which we allude, took place. In this encounter the citizens, under the command of the Earl of Glencairn, were totally routed by the troops of the Regent Cardinal Beaton, and about three hundred of them slain. Immediately after the battle the victors ravaged the town, carrying away everything portable even unto the doors and windows of the houses. This was a sair day for Glasgow, and was long remembered with horror by the inhabitants. It was in the College Green adjoining that Sir Walter Scott, in the novel of Rob Roy, represents the cousins Osbaldistone as having met in deadly combat, when the bold outlaw interfered to prevent the effusion of blood.

We must not linger in the city, however, as our peculiar field lies principally beyond its precincts otherwise materials for an interesting volume might be gleaned in the thoroughfare through which we are passing. Higher yet and higher we ascend, until, leaving Drygate Street and Rottenrow, with their antique edifices fast disappearing in the march of civic improvement, we reach the fine esplanade at the summit, where the grand old Cathedral, stern and gray, stands in solitary dignity like a vast shadow of the olden time. Even here, however, we must not give ourselves pause, but-in pursuance of our prescribed route, pass the Royal Infirmary, the Blind Asylum, and that great mineral depot, the basin of the Monkland Canal. At this point our attention is attracted by a monumental tablet in the wall, which skirts the way, erected to commemorate the death of three individuals, who, suffered for their adherence to the Solemn League and Covenant in the days of persecution. Although of comparatively recent erection, the inscription is so much defaced that it is scarcely legible. We read it, to the best of our ability, as follows. The metrical portion, it will be seen, is sufficiently rude:—

"Behind this stone lyes James Nisbet, who suffered martyrdom at this pIace, June, 1684; also, James Lawson and Alexander Wood, who suffered martyrdom, October, 24th, 1684. for their adherence to the Word of God and Scotland’s covenanted work of Reformation.

Here lye martyrs three
Of memory,
Who for the covenants did die
And witness is
‘Gaiast all these ruffians’ perjury.
Against the covenanted cause
Of Christ their Royal King,
The British rulers made such laws,
Declared was Satan’s reign,—
As Britain lyes In gulle, you see,
‘Tis asked, O reader! art thou free?

This stone was renewed by the proprietors of the Monkland Navigation— April, 1818."

This spot was formerly known as the Howgate-head, and the authorities deemed it prudent to have the three Covenanters above named executed here, which was then some distance out of town (rather than at the cross, where these affairs usually took place), with the view of escaping the maledictions of a sympathizing crowd. The case of James Nisbet was one of a peculiarly painful nature, and may well be supposed to have excited public indignation against the powers that were. According to old Wodrow, who has rescued from oblivion the names of so many of these truly brave men who suffered a painful and ignominious death rather than renounce their faith at the bidding of a corrupt government, Nisbet was a farmer in the parish of Loudon. Although under proscription for his principles he ventured to come to Glasgow to attend the funeral of a friend who had perished on the scaffold. In the church-yard he was recognized and apprehended by a trooper, a cousin-german of his own, who carried him before the authorities. On his trial he manfully declared his approbation of the skirmish at Drumclog and the more serious affair at Bothwell Bridge. In those "killing times" this was reckoned cause sufficient for death, and the brave Covenanter was accordingly sentenced to suffer the extreme penalty of the law. He was offered his life, however, if he would acknowledge the King as head of the Church. This he had the fortitude to refuse, and the sentence was in consequence mercilessly carried into effect. His body was interred at the place of execution; and in aftertimes the spot was marked by a rude tablet, which was removed by the Canal Company while their works were in progress, and replaced by the present stone, which is now, as we have remarked, becoming sadly dilapidated.

Turning to the right, we now pursue our way in an eastward direction over Garngad-hill. From the summit of this eminence, looking to the south, there is a very striking view of the Cathedral, with the defile of the Molendinar, spanned by the "Bridge of Sighs," and the swelling declivity of the Necropolis, crowned by the grim and colossal statue of Scotland’s great reformer. This is certainly the most commanding position from which the High Church can be viewed, and, with its romantic accessories, it would furnish abundant material for a good picture. Notwithstanding the proximity of the great city, which dims the autumn sky with its canopy of smoke, there is even a dash of wild nature along the glen of the Molendinar, which awakens dreams of the dim and distant era when Sanct Mungo dwelt in its bosky recesses, and

"Drank o’ ye Molendinar burn.
When nocht better he could pree."

The sooty trail of the tall chimney, however, is over all; the trees have fallen into an untimely sear, the very herbage on the slopes being sadly discoloured; while the good old patron Sanct, were he coming to life again, would doubtless be painfully surprised at the pollution which has fallen upon his favourite stream, and would be amply justified in doing what the poet wickedly hints he did at any rate,—

"He wad drink o’ ye streams o’ ye wimplin’ worm,
And let ye burn rin bye."

The Fir Park and the banks of the Molendinar, as well as a considerable expanse of the surrounding country, were at one time covered by a shadowy tract of forest. A Druidical grove, indeed, is said at an early period to have crowned the brow of the hill, wherein mystic rites unholy were performed by the hoary priests of Baal. At a subsequent period, tradition assigns this gloomy sylvan vale as the scene where Aymer de Valiance and Menteith met by appointment immediately previous to the treacherous seizure of Wallace at Robroyston. If so, the dastard pair must have pursued a route somewhat similar to that upon which we now resume our walk.

For a mile or so in this direction the country possesses but few attractions. Here and there we observe a few mansions which have seen better days, but which generally have now a dreary and deserted aspect. The pestiferous smoke from certain works in the northern quarter of the city, notwithstanding their gigantic chimneys, seems to have thrown a blight over the face of nature. The trees are for the most part shrivelled and sapless, while the very wheat in the fields and the hedgerows by the wayside lack that freshness of verdure, which is so grateful to the eye in regions of greater atmospherical purity; Our botanical friend can scarcely recognize his floral favourites in the dwarfed and discoloured specimens which look up so piteously from the ground; and the man of art, all accustomed as he is to London vegetation, looks askance upon the miserable sylvans which skirt our path. As we advance, however, the complexion of the landscape gradually improves. The ragweed brightens into purer gold, the eyes of the daisy wax clearer and more clear, while the downy locks of the thistle, from a dingy gray, become white as the virgin snow. As we lift up our eyes, too, "behold! the fields are already white unto the harvest;" and hark! the soft trickling notes of the redbreast, sweetly, sadly swelling on the gale the symphony of the waning year.

"This is the little hamlet of Provanmill" is the reply which we make to a question with which our friend Mr. Pencil interrupts our musings, as we approach a few houses scattered on either side of the way. This tiny township consists principally of a "meal-mill" and a miller’s house, with the usual pleasing accompaniments of poultry in capital condition, and rosy-cheeked children frisking about the loan. There is also a cart-wright’s establishment, as you may perceive by a glance at these bright-coloured carts without wheels strewn helplessly about on the ground, and these equally gaudy wheels without carts, which are lazily leaning against the wall. Here, too, is a smiddy with Burnewin standing begrimed at the door, on which is nailed a symbolic horseshoe, while a stout country lad stands holding a patient-looking Clydesdale by the halter. A little farther on is the village hostelry, which is of somewhat ancient standing, if we may credit an inscription above the door, which would certainly have driven the late Mr. Lennie, of grammatical celebrity, distracted, if he had ever chanced to come this way. Some local Dick-Tinto has delineated on the signboard a rude portraiture of the house on which it hangs; the said house, in the pride of its heart, on having a covering of slate substituted for its original thatch, being supposed to address the passing stranger in the following mellifluous lines, which we copy verbatim, capitals and all;—

"I here do Stand one Hundred years
With a Straw covering on
While Many of my friends here met
And enjoyed the time so long;
But now I have been Favoured
By a new friend of mine
To cover my head over with stone
That I may not repine."

Passing Provanmill about fifty yards or so we turn off to the northward by a narrow country road which crosses the Caledonian Railway, on which a train is dashing furiously past as we approach. One moment there is a rushing noise in our ears and a lengthened mane of snowy whiteness floating on the air, and the next all is quietness, while the cloudlike train of steam remains a moment white, and then is seen no more. Our flower-loving friend is now in all his glory, poking and prying along the vegetable fringe that skirts the path. Every now and then we are startled by his exclamations of delight, as some specimen of more than ordinary beauty meets his gaze. Nor is his attention devoted altogether to the fair children of Flora. Now he directs our admiring eyes to some richly-tinted moth or butterfly, with coat of many colours, all of whom he seems to know by name; and anon he picks up strange shells with curious markings, and creeping things, which we pretend to admire at his suggestion, although the very sight of them in reality makes us "grue and scunner." Odd fellows, I trow, are these same naturalists, with their "books in the running brooks," their "sermons in stones," and all that sort of thing. But now our friend has found some extraordinary prize, and calls us loudly to his side, that we may share in his rapture. "What a beauty we have here!" he cries, as we approach; and hastening forward we find in his hand—(what dost thou think, gentle reader? but we need not ask thee, for thou wouldst never guess)—why, as we live, a huge bloated toad! Of course we shrink back in disgust; but that won’t satisfy our philosophical friend, who talks contemptuously of ignorant prejudices, and ultimately wins us to his side again, with a quotation from the great dramatist, about the toad, ugly and venomous, having a jewel in his head. We venture at last to gaze with the air of a connoisseur upon the panting Batrachian, as we think he calls it, and pretend to see great beauty in the eye of the animal, which he explains is the "jewel" alluded to by the immortal dear-stealer. A full, true, and horribly particular account of the monster’s habits and mode of living is next inflicted upon us, when the loathsome creature is at length, to our infinite relief, permitted to crawl away.

A short distance beyond the railway bridge, the road passes over a gentle eminence, from which an extensive prospect of the surrounding country is obtained. To the north-west the swelling range of the Kilpatrick Hills is seen stretching away into the distance, with the vale of the Lennox, and, in the gap between the Campsie Fells and the heights of Auchineden, Benlomond towering far away on the horizon. Immediately to the left is the loch of Robroyston, which, to borrow a Hibernianism, is really no loch at all, as its waters have been nearly all drained, and what remains of them is overrun with rank vegetation. This was at one time, however, a considerable sheet of water; and we remember well when it was frequented by bands of juvenile anglers from the city, who came out with rod and line to fish for the pike and the eels which abounded in its weedy depths. A large portion of its ancient basin is now under crop and pasture, and there is every appearance that it will soon be brought entirely under the supremacy of the plough. A fir wood partially surrounds the spot, and gives it a peculiarly dreary appearance, which is heightened by the melancholy murmurings of the breeze in the dusky masses of foliage. As we pass along the eye is delighted with a succession of beautiful autumnal features. Among the tall ferns, which shoot out in luxuriant tufts from beneath the hedgerows, the berries of the trailing bramble are seen in large clusters, varying in hue from the brightest red to the most jetty black, while the blush is waxing deeper on the tawny hips of the wilding rose, and the haws are strewn like drops of blood over the foliage of the thorn.

After a walk of about a mile and a-half from Provanmill, we arrive at the mansion of Robroyston, in the immediate vicinity of which the betrayal of Wallace took place. The modern edifice is of considerable extent, and has a somewhat picturesque aspect, with an air of dreariness which reminds one somewhat of the "moated grange," wherein the hapless Mariana of Tennyson’s poem lived with her sorrow. There is a profusion of fine old trees around the spot, principally of the broad-leaved plane species, which, with their heavy masses of foliage, accord well with the sombre associations of the locality. The garden, too, is wild and tangled, and its walls are overrun with a green covering of moss. Luxuriant and beautiful as the spot undoubtedly is, we can almost fancy, while gazing upon it, that a curse clings to its precincts. The road winds round this garden, and at the north-west corner, immediately opposite a neat farm-steading, stood the old cottage in which, according to an unvarying tradition, the Scottish hero was so treacherously captured. This shameful occurrence took place on the night of the 5th August, 1305. For the particulars we are indebted principally to the rhymed chronicle of Blind Harry—a document which, with a considerable admixture of palpable error, contains, we are fully persuaded, a large proportion of truth. According to the venerable minstrel, Sir Aymer de Vallance, who at that period held Bothwell Castle for Edward the usurper, invited Sir John Menteith, the professed friend of Wallace, to a conference at Rutherglen kirk. The meeting took place at the time and place appointed, when the English emissary succeeded in bribing the fause Menteith to betray the great Scottish patriot. Wallace was then lurking in the vicinity of Glasgow, and Menteith, who had a nephew in his service, easily discovered his hiding-place, which was at Robroyston, or Rarbreston, as the minstrel calls the locality.

"Rarbreston, it was near to the wayside.
And but one house where Wallace used to bide."

Having obtained intelligence through his spies that the hero was to sleep at this place, Menteith, with sixty of his kinsmen, marched in the darkness, and surrounded the little edifice. The treacherous nephew of a traitorous uncle was set to watch by the confiding Wallace, while he and his trusty servant Keirly slept. We must give what followed in the rude but pithy language (modernized by Hamilton of Gilbertfield) of the old chronicler:—

"But as he soundly slept, the traitor bold
His uncle met, and like a villain told
That now it was indeed the golden time
For him to perpetrate the wicked crime.
Then all the cursed, vile, and barbarous crew,
Surround the house and honest Keirly slew.
The ruffian servant then to work did fall,—
Stole Wallace’ sword, his dagger, bow, and all;
To bind him then with cords, the coward byke
Fell on the hero; but he, Samson-like,
Sprung to his feet, and with an oaken stool
Broke one rogue’s back,—he had no other tool;
And at a second blow, the glowing wall he stains,
With one vile rascal’s mingled blood and brains;
While all that could, wild mingling in the fray,
Closed fierce around him, yelling for their prey."

At length the wily Menteith himself appeared, and pretending friendship, induced Wallace to submit. He was immediately thereafter conveyed to Dumbarton, then in the hands of the invaders, and from thence to England, where, to the everlasting dishonour of Edward’s name, he was barbarously put to death.

An old barn-like edifice, in which, according to tradition, this disgraceful act in a dark tragedy was enacted, stood, until a comparatively recent period, on the spot we have indicated. Latterly it had fallen into decay, and about thirty years ago, as we have been informed, it was finally demolished. Not the slightest vestige of it now remains to mark the site which it occupied so long. Some fragments of its woodwork, however, have been carefully preserved. At the time when the shattered building was in process of removal, the late Mr. Train, the supervisor, an enthusiastic antiquarian (and who, as is well known, supplied Sir Walter Scott with a considerable portion of the raw material, in the shape of old ballads and legends, which he afterwards wove into his inimitable novels), was fortunately located in the village of Kirkintilloch. On hearing that the house in which Wallace was betrayed was about to be removed, he hastened to the spot, and succeeded in appropriating the oaken rafters of the structure. These he got manufactured into a handsome arm chair, which he presented to the great novelist, who would doubtless receive such a relic with the greatest pleasure. It was finally placed among the auld warld treasures of  Abbotsford, where, for aught we know, it still remains.

By a pleasant wood-shaded path we now pursue our way in a somewhat easterly direction. After a brief walk, during which we pass the farms of East and West Lumloch, the attention of our artistic companion is attracted by a picturesque old building which is seen upon an eminence peering over the trees. While we are steering our course towards the spot we fall in with a group of rustic juveniles who are congregated by the wayside, Their brown healthy faces are delightful to look upon, after our passage through the High Street of Glasgow with its pallid crowds of hapless little ones. The merry rogues before us have been away among the woods and lanes gathering blackboyds, with which their fingers and lips are deeply stained, and are now resting themselves in this green nook after their devious health-inspiring rambles. What a happy boyhood is theirs, compared with that of the youthful denizens of wynds and vennels, where the sun and the winds are shut out—where the wild bird’s song is never heard—and where there are neither leaves, nor flowers, nor fruits, to tempt young feet to stray! Addressing one of the urchins, we ask him the names of the various mansions and farms in the vicinity. To all our questions he returns pertinent answers: that house on the knowe is such a farm, and the tenant is Mr. So and so; while this one at the bran-foot is such another farm, and its inhabitant is Mr. T’otherthing. At length we inquire the name of the ancient structure immediately before us. "That’s Cardarroch, an auld gentle house," quoth our informant. "And who lives there?" "Oh, naebody," he replies; and coolly adds, after a brief pause, "just some workin’ folk." There is certainly a dash of worldly philosophy in the little rogue’s reply. "Workin’ folk" and "naebodies" are synonymous terms, we are afraid, in the vocabularies of older heads than his.

Cardarroch was the seat of an ancient family named Peters, which is now, we believe, extinct. The house is a queer-looking old structure, with peaked gables, crow-steps, narrow windows, and a picturesque old doorway, over which is the date of 1625. It is now occupied by several families of weavers and labourers. Our venerable friend Walter Watson, the weaver poet, lived here for a number of years. The old bard selected this residence for the sake of its retired situation and the beauty of the surrounding scenery. "He was a nice auld fallow," said a brother webster, who still drives the shuttle in an adjoining out-house; "and mony a time I’ve heard him lilting ower his ain sangs at his ain fireside, in this auld biggin’; but he lost some o’ his bairns afore he gaed awa’, and I think he was never sae cheery after that. There was mony a ane ca’d here to see the author ‘We’ve aye been provided for, and sae will we yet.’ Ay, ay," he continued, "Wattie was a decent and a kind-hearted old man." While we are conversing with the honest weaver our friend has taken a faithful sketch of the house, and a pretty little picture it makes, with the wee lame laddie sitting on the door-stone, Mrs. Drummond bending over the washing tub, and a stately cock with his troop of hens strutting proudly in the foreground. Even our friend of the shuttle, who is favoured with a sight of the drawing, allows, with a genuine Scotch chariness of praise, that "It is really geyan near the mark."

Our way is now through corn-fields, tinted with the yellow hues of autumn; by green patches of potatoes and turnips, interrupted occasionally by an expanse of moorland purpled with heather, or a dense clump of firwood like a dark shadow on a smiling face. The contrasts of colour on the landscape are harmonious in the extreme, the effect being heightened by the broken lights from a sky in which gray watery clouds are flitting among the prevailing masses of white and blue. Some of the cloud-studies would indeed delight the eye of a Ruskin, who can so well read their hidden meanings; and our enthusiastic friend of the pencil and sketch-book again and again exclaims that "It is a thousand pities such glorious combinations should be permitted to pass away undelineated." Ascending the heights of Auchinloch, a prospect of great extent and beauty opens upon our gaze. The vale of the Lennox lies at our feet, as it were—with all its woods and braes—all its villages, mansions, and farms, laid down as in a map. Below us is Kirkintilloch, with its spire above the trees; and away in its own strath the village of Campsie, with the brown fells sleeping in a Sabbath calm which is only disturbed by the silent march of the cloud-shadows that come and go at their own sweet will. There is something exceedingly affecting to our mind in the deep, deep calm which ever seems to rest among the everlasting hills. In the valley and on the plain man has his home, and the din of his works is ever heard; but away up in these mountain solitudes, where the streams are born, he has no abiding-place. As an awe-struck stranger he may visit them, but there they tower in aspect all unaltered since creation’s morn, and there unchanged they will stand, in their scornful majesty, when countless generations have come and gone, like the shadows upon their breast!

The little village of Auchinloch is delightfully situated upon the ridge from which we are gazing upon the widespread landscape below. The name of the place is derived from a pretty extensive loch which once existed in the vicinity, but which was entirely drained by means of a tunnel many years ago, the ancient bed of the waters being now covered by waving grain. The village consists of two parallel rows of one-storeyed cottages, inhabited principally by weavers. The population at present amounts to about 126 individuals. In the centre of the village there is a neat little school-home, which was erected and endowed by a native of the place, who seems to have realized a small fortune as a commercial traveller in England. This we learn from the following quaint inscription upon the wall of the edifice:—"Patrick Baird in Auchinloch, merchant traveller to England, mortified to this charity school, in this the place of his nativity, the sum of three hundred and twenty-five pounds sterling money, and also appointed a charity sermon to be preached at this place, about the 25th of December, yearly. He died October the 20th, 1743, aged seventy years. Built in the year 1745. John Baird, portioner in Auchinloch, gave the ground to build this home on, at the desire of the deceased Patrick Baird, his uncle. He gave also a yard." The sum of fifteen pounds is paid annually to the schoolmaster from the endowment, while the sum of one pound five shillings is devoted to pay some young probationer for preaching the annual sermon, and also to the purchase of prize-books and buns to the scholars at Christmas. We understand, however, that the sermon has been dispensed with for several years past. This may be partly owing to the fact that the old church, which formerly stood adjacent to the village, has been for many years demolished. It is certainly nowise creditable, however, to the managers of the trust, that the will of the good old pedlar (for such we suppose was the plain meaning of the phrase "merchant traveller" in those days) has not been religiously carried into effect.

By a somewhat circuitous but withal pleasant country road, we now leave Auchinloch for Chryston, which, according to a farmer whom we accost by the way, is situated to the eastward at a distance of "twa miles and a bittock." The "bittock," however, seems to our experience fully equal in length to any of the preceding miles. This parish was formerly remarkable for the extensive cultivation of flax which was carried on within its boundaries. According to the old Statistical Account, published in 1792, about 200 acres of this crop were sown annually. Since that period this feature in the agricultural statistics of the parish has gradually decreased in importance, until at present there is probably not a tithe of the above amount of acreage devoted to this purpose. On our way we pass one large field on which the "lint is in the bell," and really we have seldom seen a prettier sight. The fresh green of the graceful stalks, and the faint blue colour of the flowers, as they wave in myriads in the autumnal breeze, are indeed exceedingly grateful to the eye. The cultivation of flax is again recommended, we understand, by agricultural authorities; and as the soil in this quarter seems excellently adapted to produce an abundant crop, perhaps it may once more come into favour with the farmers in the neighbourhood, and home-grown linen again become an article of domestic production. Of course, we do not mean that "the rock and the wee pickle tow," nor even that the spinning-wheel, should be revived, but that, with the aid of machinery, Scottish sarks might be again grown to advantage on Scottish fields.

Chryston, at which we now arrive, is a village of remarkable cleanliness of aspect, the houses being mostly whitewashed, and regularly arranged in parallel rows along both sides of a broad and spacious street. It consists principally of one-storeyed cottages, in many instances covered with thatch, and having kail-yards attached to them. Flowers around the doors and windows are alone wanting to realize the picture of a small English country town. At the west end of the Main Street, by which we make our entrance, there is a neat little Free Church, with a handsome school by its side; while at the eastern extremity there is another church, also of small dimensions, in connection with the Establishment. The population consists principally of weavers, with the sprinkling of cart-wrights, blacksmiths, and agricultural labourers, usually found in rural villages.

Near the east end of the village stands a house of some pretensions, which formerly belonged to a family well known in the neighbourhood as "the Grays of Chryston;" and although the old edifice is now in the possession of strangers, the good name of the Gray family still lingers in the memory of the old inhabitants, like golden clouds in the west when the sun has gone down. During the period of the religions troubles in Scotland, the laird of Chryston cast in his lot with the adherents of the Covenant. His house was ever open to afford shelter to the children of persecution. Often in the darkness of night the poor hunted wanderers of the Covenant—ministers upon whose heads a price was set, and lowly peasants who had been driven from house and home— found refuge beneath the roof of the hospitable Grays. At length suspicion fell upon the good old man. He was dragged from his home to a prison, charged with entertaining Covenanting principles, and with having dared to harbour parties under the ban of the law. On his trial he scorned to deny either his creed or his kindness to the distressed, and he was sentenced to be transported to the plantations of Virginia, and to be sold as a slave. The sentence was carried into effect, and a few months thereafter he was exposed for sale, with many other victims, in one of the market-places of the colony. While standing downcast in the crowd a rich planter approached, and, after scanning him from head to foot, offered a considerable sum for his purchase. The old man remonstrated with the proposed purchaser for offering so much, saying that, as he "was now frail and feckless, he would prove but an indifferent bargain." The sale was effected, however, and he was conveyed to the house of his new master. On arriving there dinner was on the table, and the master ordered his slave to sit down, and, taking a seat himself, said, after a pause, with trembling voice and tearful eye, "Noo, Mr. Gray, will you ha’e the kindness to ask a blessing as you used to do in auld Chryston?" The venerable man was astonished, but without hesitation complied with the request, pouring forth his heart in unaffected devotion? At the conclusion his master, who had meantime been much affected, stood up, and shaking him warmly by the hand, said, "You’ll no’ mind me, but I was ance your herd callant at Chryston; and I ha’e never forgotten you nor your kindness to me in the days o’ langsyne. Many years ago I cam to this country, and things ha’e gane geyan weel wi’ me. This day, when I saw you exposed like a brute beast for sale in the market, my heart was indeed sair, and I resolved, without revealing mysel’, to bring you to my hame. Sae hero you are, and while I ha’e ye sha’na want." Mr. Gray, we need only further mention, remained in Virginia with his old servant and new master, until the "blast was blawn," and the perfidious Stuarts were hurled from a throne of which they were unworthy, when he returned to Scotland, and ended his days in peace in the home of his fathers.

In a cottage nearly opposite the mansion of the Grays was born, in the year 1780, our old friend, Walter Watson, the Chryston poet. Here also the boyhood of the venerable bard was spent; here he courted the Maggie of his song and the mother of his children; and here he first made the acquaintance of the muse. Many of the places in the locality, such as the Braes of Bedlay and the Buthland Burn, are celebrated in his lays. It is now upwards of fifty years since Walter made his debut before the public as a songwriter, and many of our elderly readers will remember, we have no doubt, that "Sit ye doon, my cronie," and "Jockie’s far awa," were popular favourites in their boyish years. A poor man’s son, the poet has never, with all his industry, managed to sped the stey brae of Fortune, and now at the patriarchal age of seventy-three he earns his bread upon the loom. Although the. snows of winter, however, are now upon the head of the old bard, his heart still retains a considerable portion of the greenness of spring. Nor has the gilt of song been altogether withdrawn by the trembling hand of age, as the following spirited verses which he composed the other day will abundantly show. In writing them for us, the poet remarks, "I wadna wish to be in better tift." Long may the ancient minstrel be enabled so to speak!

"SONG.
Am—’ Last Map a Stow wooer.’

"I needna lie doon, for my e'e wadna bow,
The din o’ the storm maks me eerie;
And doubts comin in, fill my bosom sae fu',
That dowie and daeless I wearie, I wearie.
That dowie and daeless I wearie.

"My lad should ha’e been, for he promised to be,
What way can I be but uneasy?
‘Will some tocher'd hizzie ha’e ta’en his blythe e'e?
Gude life, I'm jist like to gang crazy, gang crazy,
Gude life, I'm jist like to gang crazy.

"The burn will be grit, and the steps ower the head,
The Gude ha’e a care gin he tak’ them;
The road’s jist as ill for the makin’ o’ speed
As wearin’ and water can mak’ them, can mak’ them,
As wearin’ and water can mak’ them.

"A waiting on something we canna forget,
A something that luck may mak’ free wi’,
Gars Patience look doon, like a bairn in the pet,
And naething looks up we can gree wi', can gree wi’,
And naething looks up we can gree wi'.

"Ha! here he‘s himsel’, it's his tirl at the door,
And life wi' my lad is returning;
The spate may come doon, and the blast tak’ its roar,
I’ll keep him till gray in the morning, the morning,
I’ll keep him till gray in the morning."

Immediately to the east of Chryston is the fine old house of Bedlay. This stately building stands upon a terrace of gentle elevation, on the margin of a little well wooded dell, through which a streamlet of diminutive size wimpels and wanders at its own sweet will. Bedlay house is of quadrangular form, with two round turrets, like gigantic pepper boxes, at one end, and a rectangular tower at the other. The high-peaked gables are rendered more picturesque by having crow-steps, while the windows are small and narrow. On the eastern gable a coat of arms adorns the wall, with the motto, "For securitie." This edifice formerly belonged to the Earls of Kilmarnock. From their hands it passed into those of a family named Roberton, who retained it for several generations, when it fell into the possession of a gentleman named Campbell, whose heirs are the present proprietors.

Bedlay House has, or at least had, the unenviable reputation of being haunted. Who or what the ghost was while in the flesh we have been unable to discover, but that something uncannie had been seen or heard about the place is, or we should perhaps say was, very generally believed over the neighbourhood. One old man informed us seriously that it was a bad laird of former days who could not get rest in his grave. "He was a sair trouble to a' about him (quoth our informant) when he was leevin’, and I think it’s rather too bad that he should get leave to come back and disturb decent folk after he’s dead." According to fireside gossip a party of ministers were on one occasion called in to lay the unquiet spirit; and we are assured, on the authority of an old man whose father held the reverend gentlemen’s horses while they were engaged in the work, that when they came out of the house afterwards, "the very sweat was pouring down their faces." Whether the holy men succeeded in giving the ghost its quietus, or whether the general spread of knowledge, as is perhaps more likely, has put it to flight, we do not know, but one thing is certain, and that is, that there is now considerable doubts among the people of Chryston with regard to its existence. One gudewife, whom we question on the subject while she is filling her pitcher at Bedlay well, says,—"It’s my honest opinion there was mair clash than onything else in the ghost story; and for my part I dinna believe ae word o’t." Probably she is right. Our artistic companion, who is charmed with the appearance of the venerable structure, having set himself down, however, to transfer a fac-simile of it into his sketch-book, we shall fill up the time till he is done with an anecdote of a former laird and our friend the Chryston poet. The said laird, we may premise, was a somewhat eccentric character; at times he would have cracked freely with the poorest person he met, and at others he was the very impersonation of haughtiness and pride. A rumour having reached the weaver poet that the laird had expressed a favourable opinion of some of his verses, nothing would serve him, in the vanity of his heart, but that he should write something new, and present it to the great man in person. Casting about for a subject, he at length came to the conclusion that were he to compose a song, the scene of which was laid on the gentleman’s own estate, he would be quite certain of a favourable reception. "The Braes of Bedlay" was accordingly written, and "snodding himself up with his Sunday braws, the young poet took the road one evening to the big house. On coming to the door he tirled bravely at the knocker, and was at once ushered into the presence of the laird. In the eyes of the young weaver he looked exceedingly grand, and he almost began to repent his temerity in having ventured into such company. "Well, who are you, and what do you want?" said the laird (who was evidently in one of his bad moods), with a voice of thunder. "My name‘s Walter Watson," faltered the poet, "and I was wanting you to look at this bit paper." "What paper," said the grandee, "can you have to show me? but let me see it." The manuscript was placed in his hands, and stepping close to the candle, he proceeded to peruse it. "It‘ll be a’ richt noo," thinks his bardship. The laird, reading to himself, had got through with the first verse, when he repeated aloud the last two lines—

"Whar Mary and I meet amang the green bushes,
That screen us sae weel on the braes o' Bedlay."

"Who is Mary?" quoth he abruptly. "Oh I diana ken,’ said the poet, "but Mary‘s a nice poetical name, and it suited my measure." "And you actually wrote this!" added the laird. "Yes," replied the poet, gaining confidence, "you’ll see I’ve put my name to the verses." "Well," vociferated his lairdship, raising himself to his full altitude, "are you not a most impudent fellow, to come here and tell me that you have been breaking my fences and strolling over my grounds without leave? I’m just pestered with such interlopers as you on my property, and now that I have the acknowledgment of the offence under your own hand, I’ve really a very good mind to prosecute you for trespass! Get away with you to your loom! and if ever I catch either you or your Mary among my green bushes again, depend upon it, I’ll make you repent it!" Saying this, he flung the manuscript scornfully at the poet (who stood trembling, half in fear and half in indignation), and, ringing the bell, ordered him at once to be ejected from the house. Alas! poor fellow, he went home that night with an aching heart, and sadly crestfallen. His song was given to the world, however, and immediately attained a considerable degree of popularity, a great portion of which, we are happy to say, it still retains. The laird has left the land which he so churlishly guarded, and his memory is fast falling into oblivion; while that of Walter Watson, who sung its beauties, will be entwined with the spot for ages. Truly there is a lairdship in genius which is more potent and lasting than that which is associated with rent-rolls and title-deeds! It is but fair to state, however, that the laird and the poet afterwards became good friends, and that the friendship was in many respects beneficial to the humble bard.

Our companion having finished his sketch we now make the best of our way to the highway between Glasgow and Cumbernauld, which we enter upon somewhere in the vicinity of the seventh mile-stone from the city. Let our readers now suppose us, all wearied as we are, to assume our seven-league boots, by means of which, passing Garnkirk, Millerston, Hogganfield, and Bluevale, with telegraphic rapidity, we arrive within the precincts of Sanct Mungo before the gray-mantled gloaming has called forth the stars.


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