[Footnote A: Some readers may recognise in the old woman’s song portions of an ancient ditty that used to be chanted in a wailing cadence in several parts of Scotland. I suspect the song as a whole is lost—the more to be regretted for its sweet simplicity and melodious wail (so far as judged in the fragments), which in a modern song would be viewed as weakness or affectation. Indeed, the modes of thought and feeling that belong to what is called advanced civilisation are impatient of these things except as rude relics of yet untutored minds; and the pleasure with which they are accepted has in it perhaps a grain of pity for those that didn’t know better than produce them. Yet, as regards mere poetical feeling at least, the nearer the fountainhead the purer the water.]
And is not youth, thought I, a vulgar thing,
When lording over WISDOM’S ancient reign?
What may avail the brilliancy of spring
If autumn yields no hoards of garnered grain?
Experience is the daughter of old Time,
Mother of Wisdom, last and noblest born,
Who comes as Faith to help our waning prime,
To cheer the night of age and light the morn.
I sought at eve the castle on the height,
The ancient halls of lordly Ravenslee,
Oh! contrast great! gay scene of youth’s delight—
The spinette, galliard, mirth’s galaverie!
I thought upon the couple in the wood,
And how that singing, dancing, laughing train
Would one day sigh in Time’s avenging mood,
“Alas! for youth’s green summer time again.”
THE LEGEND OF CRAIGULLAN.[A]
[Footnote A: This legend has been referred to several Scotch families—one in Fife in particular, the name of which it would be imprudent to mention.]
Yonder the halls of old Craigullan!
To weird doom for ever true;
The moaning winds are sad and sullen,
The screech-owl hoots too-hoo! too-hoo!
The lazy burn-clock drones around,
The wing-mouse flaps the choking air,
The croaking frog hops on the ground,
For weird fate is working there.
Each wing had once a goodly tower
Of stately beild, both broad and high;
In every tower a lady’s bower,
Bedecked with silken tapestry;
In every bower a lovely maid,
Her youth and beauty all in vain;
And with each maid a keeper staid
To watch the wanderings of her brain.
’Twas said that those who went that way
Would hear some shrill and piercing wail
Come from these towers, and die away
As borne upon the passing gale;
Yet none could say from whom it came,
Far less divine the reason why;
And Superstition, with her dream,
Could only whisper mystery—
Unholy spirits haunting nigh,
And screaming in the midnight hour,
Presage of vengeance from on high
For deeds done in Craigullan’s tower.