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many of them with historic names — that studded the
whole valley 'from Berwick to the Bield,' and frowned
defiance across the border at the line of strengths on the
English side. These peels are a peculiar feature of the
whole line of the river as well as of the courses of
its tributaries, marking ' barbarous times when Border
raids were in continual activity, and when no one on
either side of the marches, or debateable land, could lay
down his head to sleep at night without the chance of
having to stand to his defence, or perhaps to mount and
ride ere morning. Intended for the general advantage
and preservation of all the inhabitants of the valley,
they were built alternately on both sides of the river,
and in a continued series, one in view of another ; so
that a fire, kindled on the top of any one of them,
was immediately responded to, in the same way, by all
the others in succession ; the smoke giving the signal
by day and the flame by night — thus spreading the
alarm through a whole country of seventy miles in extent,
in the provincial phrase, from " Berwick to the Bield,"
— and to a breadth of not less than fifty miles, carrying
alarm into the uppermost parts of every tributary glen.
Would that we could be inspired with the fancy of our
own immortal Sir Walter, that we might, for only one
moment, imagine the sudden upstirring in this way of
the wild and warlike population of so great an extent of
country, during the days of Border contest ! What a
shouting of men and neighing of horses — what a hurried
donning of back and breast-pieces and morions — what
a jingling of bridles and saddling of steeds — what a
buckling on of swords and grasping of lances, and how
the woods and the steep faces of the hills must have re-
echoed to the gallop of the various little parties, hasten-
ing to unite themselves together. Then came the
assault of the invading foe — the crash of combat — the
shouts of triumph and the shrieks of dying men — all
full of the most romantic and picturesque suggestions.
Nay, if we could only fancy the laird of any one of
these little fortaliees, after having been warned by his
provident dame, by the usual hint of a covered dish full
of steel spurs set before him, that there was no more
meat in the larder — if we could only imagine him and
his followers getting hurriedly to boot and saddle, to
ride across the Border on a foray into England to harry
some district of its beeves, we should conjure up a
picture full of the most romantic circumstances and
stirring interest.' The whole district is full of historic
associations. Berwick, Norham, Coldstream, Birgham,
Kelso, Dryburgh, Melrose — the names need but to be
mentioned ; and more, they have had their poet in the
gTeat magician of the north, whose ambition was to be a
Border laird, and to found a new branch of the great
Border family, and whose name and genius must ever
be associated with Ashiesteel and Abbotsford ; and
for much of whose most congenial work this Border land
provided both scene and material. But while, looking
back upon the course of the Tweed, ' no one who has
seen it, and who knows the land through which the
stream flows, can be indifferent to the memories of
ancient towers and olden names famous in Scottish
story, which it bears along, of holy though broken
shrines which keep sacred for us the illustrious dead,
Bruce, and Douglas, and Walter Scott, or fail to feel the
soothing power of that pathetic peace which broods over
ancient battlefields ; ' yet 'that which most attracts the
stranger, which unites the natives of the Borders them-
selves most closely, most deeply, which binds in one
the people of Teviot and Ettrick, of Yarrow and of
Tweed, is the poetry, both old and new, the ballad and
song of the Minstrelsy and such strains as " The Flowers
ofthe Forest" and "Lucy's Flittin'." This touches the
old heroic life that was once loved in the Border Land, our
sympathy with the griefs, the loves, the sorrows, the
fates, and the fortunes of the men and the women who
dwelt long ago in the ancient Border homesteads, whose
ruins now speak to us on many a Lowland brae with a
•weird old-world suggestion and an inexpressible pathos.
For true it is that no poetry is less indebted to foreign
inspiration than that of the Borders. It is purely
autochthonal. It has sprung from the soil, from native
deeds and story, from the very heart of the people
through successive generations. Border men did the
deeds and Border maidens felt the love which the
Border minstrels sung. The ballad and the song truly
reflect the whole character of the people in its freshness,
vigour, old roughness, its dark shades and its bright
sides, its heroism and its tenderness. In the early dawn
of Border story, in the thirteenth century, there are two
dim personages who seem to prefigure the two main
lines of subsequent Border activity — intellectual and
imaginative.' The one is 'the wondrous wizard,'
Michael Scott, whose scientific bent was but the proto-
type of that which animated Mungo Park, Sir David
Brewster, and Mrs Somerville ; the other Thomas the
Rhymer of Ercildoune, forerunner of those who sang of
the Dowie Dens o' Yarrow, Tlie Bush aboon Traquair,
and The Broom o' the Cowdenknowes, and on to the
mightier minstrelsy of Thomson, Hogg, Leyden, and
Scott. The older bards, according to Professor Veitch,
have caught and reproduced in their verse the pure charac-
teristics of Tweedside. Their poetry ' breathes a sweet
pastoral melody. There is a passionate fondness dashed
with sweetness and regret — a mingling of love and
sorrow, hopefulness and despair. This curious blending
of opposite feelings flows all through the songs of the
Tweed, and seems to reflect the familiar contrast in the
scenery — the sparkling gleam of the morning and noon
gradually passing into the pathetic shade of the gloamin'
on the river itself.' From Tweedside Thomson must
have drawn the then daring idea that scenery was an
object of poetic interest in itself. From the ' mysterious
belt of grey clear light — the weather gleam — that runs
at nightfall across the wavy lines of the Border hills,'
Hogg drew that charm and inspiration of faerie and
fairyland that enabled him in Kilmeny to reproduce the
best and purest part of the old rude belief in the con-
stant presence of the invisible and supernatural around
us ; while Leyden first
' Saw with strange delight the snow-clouds form,
When Ruberslaw conceives the mountain storm,'
and then by showing us ' the beauty, the gentle beauty
and not less the power, the grandeur, to be found in the
Border scenery,' opened 'the eyes of dwellers on the
Border to the glory that is at their own doors.' And
Professor Veitch himself is a proof that the song-com-
pelling power of the river is by no means exhausted.
In picturesqueness of scenery the Tweed is inferior to
the Tay, or any of its great tributaries, as well as to the
Clyde. For the first 15 miles of its course down nearly
to the junction of Biggar Water the valley is narrow,
bare, and solitary, but the soft green pastoral heights
by which it is bounded give it a distinct character of
its own. The river flows ' down over the bluish grey-
wacke rock, and for miles amid broken, isolated, half-
smoothed blocks, severed from its bed. Here and there
its banks have an abrupt picturesqueness, but as a rule
its flow is a rippling rapid movement spreading out in
silvery sheen, by the foot of the confining hill, or amid
the narrow haughs by the way ; occasionally a knowe
of rock juts out from the bank, and then the river
swings round the obstruction into a restful pool, again
to pass into the rapid ripple of its falling soft-sounding
stream ; still bare of tree and bush until at Polmood it
becomes scantily fringed with alders and birches, re-
mains of the old forest. The haughs here widen con-
siderably, and soothe the eye with soft green pasture.
Ever and anon a burn from its mountain glen joins and
enriches the river ; and thus is suggested the reserve of
beauty and solitude in the valley of the Tweed, for the
glen leads the eye upwards, between hills meeting hills
from the opposite sides in a wonderful harmony and
symmetry of fold, far away to the half-seen, dim,
massive heights which form the broad and lofty back-
ground of the valley and feed the springs of the tribu-
tary waters. . . . Those long, rounded, far-spreading
heights seldom visited, spaces of dreamy solitude and
soul-subduing pathos, are never at any season of tho

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