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Book of Scottish Story
Rose Jamieson

“I looked on thy death-cold face, my lassie,—
l looked on thy death-cold face ;
Thou seemed a lily new cut i' the bud,
And fading at its place.
Thy lips were ruddy and calm, my lassie,—
Thy lips were ruddy and calm ;
But game was the holy breath o’ heaven,
To sing the evening psalm.” Allan Cunningham

Andrew Jamieson was a thorough-paced Cameronian. He held hats in abomination, as they savoured of Erastianism ; abhorred boots, because the troopers of 1685 wore them while galloping over the wilds of Dumfriesshire in quest of the persecuted remnant; testified against the use of "fanners" in the process of separating the chaff from the wheat, as a tacit renunciation of the doctrine of a superintending Providence. He judged of the excellences or defects of a sermon by its length; and on that of prayer by the colloquial familiarity which the clergyman held with the Deity; pronounced on his orthodoxy by the complexion of his text; and lifted up his voice against gowns, bands, and white pocket-handkerchiefs, as frippery belonging to the scarlet lady. Academical honours were his loathing, as he knew that, like plenary indulgences, they are, and were, to be had for money; nor would his prejudice allow him to distinguish between the man who received a D.D.-ship as the honourable reward of a life devoted to sacred literature, and him who carried it by lodging a professor’s wife and daughter during the race week.

Sermons in manuscript, though they had been the composition of a Chalmers, and read with the classic elocution of a Thomson, appeared to him as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal ; or, in his own vernacular phrase, "in at the tae lug, and out at the tither.” ’Twas the pride of his heart to travel twenty or thirty miles on foot to hear a favourite preacher; or to attend sacramental occasions in the air, in unfrequented districts, in imitation of the heroes of the covenant, who scorned to square their creed to the mandates of a tyrannical government; and I verily believe that a slight touch of persecution would have added to his enjoyments in this sublunary sphere ; but this, as he frequently hinted, was too great a privilege to hope for from a government "neither cold nor hot.”

Andrew was a small farmer in the uplands of Nithsdale, had been prudent to a proverb in worldly matters, and consequently was rich, not only in his hopes of futurity, but in the more tangible currency of this sinful world. Frugality had been one of his most prominent characteristics; and while many less wealthy neighbours sported broad cloth at fairs and preachings, according to his inimitable country-man—

“His garb was gude gray hodden, —
His bonnet was a broad one;”

which garb, and which bonnet, had been familiar to the frequenters of "tent preachings” for the greater part of forty years. Such was the father of Rose Jamieson, the beautiful, the meek, the modest Rose Jamieson, whose fame extended for many a mile round her father’s dwelling; and whose fortune perhaps lent her an additional charm in the eyes of the less worthy of her suitors. Beautiful women have been so often described by master-spirits, that it would be presumptuous in me to attempt it. I entreat the reader, therefore, to place before his mind’s eye Milton’s Eve, or Thomson’s Lavinia, or Campbell’s Gertrude, or some of the still more glorious creations of Scott or Shakspeare ; ’twil1 serve my purpose a thousand times better, and save me a world of trouble. Having thus briefly disposed of her bodily and mental attractions, it is needless to add that she was sought in marriage by the flower of the peasantry, and even by many above that rank in life, but shrunk from their society, as the sensitive plant shrinks from the human touch, or the sunflower when its idol withdraws to his ocean bed.

Her pursuits were of an intellectual nature. She loved literature immensely; and though her parent was sufficiently rigid and unbending in general, relative to what he designated the "vanities," yet he gladly supplied her with the means of gratifying her taste for books, and even condescended at intervals to direct her in the choice of their "mute friends ;” but his selections generally consisted of those tremendous folios of divinity, both doctrinal and controversial, which even yet may be seen on the shelves of our more unsophisticated peasantry; and her masculine mind was not slow in making herself mistress of their voluminous contents.

By a careful perusal, however, of the immaculate Volume which the great Founder of Christianity left as a guide to His followers, she perceived that her father’s favourite authors did not always resemble their Divine Master in the milder virtues—such as charity, which thinketh no evil; brotherly kindness, which is ever and anon ready to bear with an erring being ; and that humility of spirit which is ever ready to esteem another better than one’s self. As her mind got emancipated from the thraldom of the austere dogmas which had been inculcated on it from infancy, she saw a very great deal to admire, nay, to love, in the doctrines of those very persons whom her father had branded with the name of "prelatists” and "malignants;" and hence she began to examine more closely into the merits of the controversy which raged with so much violence between persons worshipping the same God, through the mediation of the same Redeemer.

The result was, that she saw much to praise and much to blame on both sides, and she endeavoured to cover the failings of either party with the mantle of Christian love. That many of the Episcopalian clergy of that unhappy period, when the lieges were forced to attend the parish church at the point of the bayonet, disgraced their sacred profession, and brought obloquy on the holy name by which they were called, can neither be denied nor disputed. That some of them acted like incarnations of the devil, will not be controverted even in our own times, when truth, like the meridian sun, has dissipated the clouds of error and prejudice; but it is equally true, that there were men among them who adorned their profession by a walk and conversation becoming the Gospel, and who lamented in secret the evils which their circumscribed influence could not avert. Who does not revere the memory of the great and good Leighton, wliose philanthropy extended to all mankind—whose whole existence was a living commentary on the great doctrine which was ever on his lips—namely, that the Founder of Christianity came to proclaim " peace on earth, good-will to men?” After the Revolution, when Presbyterianism again unfurled her banners to the mountain-breezes of our country—banners which, alas! had been wofully trampled under foot, and in defending which the best blood in Scotland had been poured out like water—the son of one of the ejected curates settled in the parish of ——— as a farmer, retaining, however, the religious principles in which he had been educated, and which were now doubly dear to him in the hour of his church’s adversity.

Like his father, he was a Christian, not only in theory, but in practice; his faith was evinced, not by vague declamation, not by ultra-sanctimoniousness, but hy its genuine fruits—namely, good works.

Son succeeded sire in the same district and the same principles; and it seemed that a peculiar blessing had descended on the whole race; as whatever things were lovely, or of good report, these things they did; and the ‘promise to the meek was fulfilled them, for they literally "inherited the earth.”

Their flocks and herds were numerous; their corn and pasture fields ample;—they enlarged their borders, and, at the time this sketch commences, they mingled with the aristocracy of the county.

The youngest son of a branch of this family had studied at the University of Oxford, with a view to the Church of which his family had been such distinguished members. He was a youth not only of ardent piety, but of intense application ; he fearlessly grappled with the most abstruse subjects ; he divested philosophy of its jargon, and divinity of its verbosity ; and nothing was so dear to his heart as when he discovered truth like a diamond amidst the heaps of rubbish which had been accumulating for ages.

But, alas! like the gentle Kirke White, while his mind was expanding and luxuriating amid the treasures of Greece and Rome, and the still more sacred stores of Palestine, his body was declining with corresponding rapidity; therefore, with attenuated frame and depressed spirits, he sought once more his native vale, to inhale health with its invigorating breezes.

Secluded from the great world, and debarred from pursuing his favourite studies, he sought the society of Rose Jamieson as an antidote to that ‘ennui’ which will inevitably obtrude itself on the mind amid the solitudes of a thinly peopled country. The great poet of nature has told us that the recluse may find—

“Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones. and good in everything”.

And I have no doubt that the amiable and interesting student would have been sufficiently charmed with the beauties of external nature, and instructed by her eloquence, had there not been " metal more attractive" in the beautiful being who shared his walks and his friendship.

The lovely Rose Jamieson became his ministering angel; her smile chased away the languor that brooded over his intelligent countenance; her sweet voice quickened his sluggish pulse, and made his heart thrill with an indescribable joy—a heretofore unknown rapture; her sunny glances diffused life, light, and gladness through his whole frame.

“The golden hours on angel wing” …..

flew over them; the summer day became too short for them; their walks became Eden, and their day-dreams Elysium; they loved—fervently—mutually.

Soon as morning gleamed on the mountains, the fond pair were to be seen brushing the dew from the clover, by the banks of the romantic Nith, or climbing the daisied uplands with elastic steps and buoyant hearts—for the mountain air had already renovated the youth’s enfeebled frame, and hope had animated his spirits, and given vivacity to his conversation. They expatiated on the beauty and sublimity of the scenery around them—on the power and goodness of the Deity, displayed alike in the creation of the sun in the firmament, and the production of the myriads of wildflowers which enamelled the green sward beneath their feet. The rushing of the mighty river to a still mightier ocean, and the diamond dew-drop hid in the petal of the half-opened rose ; the wide-spreading and venerable oak of a century, and the lowly gowan of yesterday, afforded inexhaustible themes for discussion; and the conclusion which invariably forced itself on their attention, was that of the pious Addison—

“In Reason’s ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice;
For ever singing, as they shine,
"The hand that made us is divine."

The summer months glided over the youthful pair imperceptibly ; but with returning health, imperative duty impelled the enamoured scholar to resume his studies ; to resign the delicious society of her he loved for the musty tome, the midnight lamp, and the emulation approaching hostility within the time-hallowed walls of Oxford. Already had his trunks been packed, the day of his departure fixed, and his adieus uttered—all but one.

They met for this purpose one Sabbath evening in a sequestered glen ; the larch and laburnum formed a rude arbour over them, and a nameless streamlet murmured at their feet. The stock-doves uttered mournful cadences, and the plovers over the neighbouring heath sent forth ominous wailings. The early autumnal breeze moaned through the thick foliage, and the rustle of the overhanging leaves gave a dreary response. ’Twas a sad hour ; they vowed eternal fidelity—mingled their tears—exchanged Bibles—and parted—he to the crowded haunts of science, she to the solitude of her own little apartment, to brood over the waking dreams of bliss which she had so lately experienced. On opening the little Bible which she had received from the hands of her lover, she found the following text written on the fly-leaf, in a tremulous hand:—-"Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths," and she could trace, moreover, certain globular stains, the cause of which was not ill to define. "Yes!” she exclaimed, while the tears started from her large blue eyes, "I will perform all I have vowed to thee, to the very letter. I will love thee as woman never loved—in sorrow and in sickness, in poverty and in exile—nay, in death itself I will love thee ; neither shall the influence of wealth, rank, talent, manly beauty, nor shall the authority, which preponderates more than all these together, even that of my only parent, ever alienate my affections from thee, thou chosen of my heart!"

At this moment the door was opened, and her father stood before her. A harsh expression pervaded his rigid countenance ; there was a stern inflexibility in his eye, and his lip quivered with emotion; he held his staff with a convulsive grasp, and his whole frame trembled with conflicting passions.

"Daughter,” said he, in a tremulous and hollow voice, "daughter, I had indeed suspected that the corbie was attempting to gain the dove’s nest—that the descendant of the malignant, with malicious wile, was endeavouring to secure an interest in thine affections, and bitterly do I rue that I did not put a stop to it sooner. But little did I think that thou, the child of my love, the only daughter of thy sainted mother, whom I have cherished like the apple of mine eye, wouldst have so far forgotten thy duty as to vow love and obedience to a scion of an abjured prelatical stock, against whom thy father and thy father’s fathers have lifted up their testimony, since the glorious carved work of the sanctuary has been defaced by their unhallowed hands. Did they not shed the blood of the saints in torrents? Were they not butchered in the face of the sun, and in cold blood? And did not their cries enter—but my blood curdles to enumerate the half of their enormities, and I shall therefore refrain from adverting to branding, mutilation, fine, imprisonment, exile, and death. Daughter,” said he, in a sepulchral voice, “thou must break all intercourse and connection with this young man instantly ; between us there is an impassable gulf. And if thou perseverest in thine ill-starred choice; if thou art disobedient to thy hoary-headed father ; if thou cherish his image in thy bosom, or even at some future period, when I am gathered to my fathers, become his wife, I shall bequeath thee my malison for thy dowry, and my ban for thine inheritance.”

So saying, he flung himself out of the chamber in a paroxysm of rage. His beauteous daughter, meanwhile, had become inanimate on the couch. The usual remedies in these cases were promptly resorted to; and after a short interval, she opened her eyes, but it was only to gaze on vacancy. The "silver cord was loosed, and the golden bow was broken.” Her reason had fled, and never returned. In one month she was where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest. Her father, though he deemed he had only done an imperative duty, could not withstand the shock. Nature sunk beneath the unlooked-for calamity; he mourned, and he would not be comforted. In a few weeks he breathed his last; and another tenant was added to the house appointed for all living.

But who may paint the misery of the unhappy youth when he learnt the harrowing intelligence? Sorrow is sacred, and we shall not enter into its detail. Suffice it to say, that he gave up his studies, returned to his native vale with broken heart ; and in the words of his celebrated countryman (who no doubt had the pair in his mind’s eye when he penned the touchingly simple ballad), he is reported to have said—

“Low there thou lies, my lassie,
Low there thou lies;
A bonnier form ne’er went to the yird,
Nor frae it will arise!

There's nought but dust now mine, lassie,
There’s nought but dust now mine;
Thy soul’s with thee in the cauld, cauld grave,
And why should I stay behin’?”

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