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THE SHEPHERD IN ETTRICK FOREST, ON A
WINTER'S NIGHT. WHEN red hath set the beamless sun, Through heavy vapours dark and dun; When the tired ploughman, dry and warm, Hears, half asleep, the rising storm Hurling the hail, and sleeted rain, Against the casement's tinkling pane : The sounds that drive wild deer, and fox, To shelter in the brake and rocks, Are warnings which the shepherd ask To dismal and to dangerous task. Oft he looks forth, and hopes, in vain, The blast may sink in mellowing rain ; Till, dark above, and white below, Decided drives the flaky snow, And forth the hardy swain must go. Long, with dejected look and whine, To leave the hearth his dogs repine; Whistling and cheering them to aid, Around his back he wreathes the plaid : His flock he gathers, and he guides To open downs, and mountain-sides, Where fiercest though the tempest blow, Least deeply lies the drift below. The blast, that whistles o’er the fells, Stiffens his locks to icicles ; Oft he looks back, while streaming far, His cottage window seems a star,Loses its feeble gleam,—and then Turns patient to the blast again, And, facing to the tempest's sweep, Drives through the gloom his lagging sheep, If fails his heart, if his limbs fail, Benumbing death is in the gale ;
His paths, his landmarks, all unknown,
his master's breast,
Who envies now the shepherd's lot,
SIR WALTER SCOTT. * The Scottish harvest-home.
+ Arcadia.] A pastoral country in Greece. Hence, in poetry, “Arcadian” is often used for “ pastoral.”
THE THREE SQUIRES.—PART II. THE new proprietor was a really sensible man, and was shocked at the state of the village in which he fixed his abode. He was not less benevolent than his predecessor, but he understood better how to employ his money. He knew that alms given indiscriminately had the worst possible effect : it gave rise to all kinds of deceit, and made people both idle and helpless. The first step he took was to engage a number of trustworthy men to take the places of
bailiff, park-keeper, and the like. There was scarcely a head of game left upon the property; but although he did not wish to spend money in preserving game for his own pleasure, he knew that if he had two respectable men for gamekeepers, they would attend to his woods and keep trespassers out.
These trespassers not only damaged the trees and broke the fences, but learnt habits of dishonesty, and soon passed from stealing game and pilfering wood to more daring acts of theft. In selecting this higher class of servants, the squire first tried to find them in his own village ; but there were only two whom he could engage that were fit for these places, the rest he had to bring in from other parts. This gave dissatisfaction at first; but when some of the villagers expressed this feeling to Mr. Wilson, the retired shopkeeper—Mr. Wilson, who was a shrewd and
. sensible man, entirely disagreed with them. “Depend upon it,” he said, “our new squire knows what he is about. I begin to hope better days for Banton; nothing can go on well unless there is plenty of work, and that work is properly done. A master can do nothing unless those who overlook others are trustworthy and capable. Besides, you will find these
, foreigners, as you call them, will bring in some good at once. The butcher, baker, and grocer will be the first to benefit by it, and none will lose, for it is no loss to any one not to be placed in a situation for which he is unfit. I agree with the squire.”
It was not long before Mr. Wilson's opinion was found to be right. The squire, having now provided trusty overseers, was able to find work for such as were in want of it. So whenever the poor came up to the hall, as in old times, to beg for assistance, he gave neither money nor food to any except the sick and aged, and he took pains to prevent imposition. All who would work were sent to the bailiff, whose instructions were to find them employment. The property had been so neglected of late years, that there was plenty of work for any one who would do it. This mode of proceeding effected a great change in a very short time. The poor declared that the squire was a very hard man, and wished they had their good old master back again ; but they could not help allowing that he was very liberal to the more respectable old people, but then they would say, “ They are favourites.”
Those who had come into Banton from other places in order to get support without working, now found that it was no place for them, and the parish was soon rid of a great many. But, unfortunately, vice had obtained such a hold in Banton, that there were many idle and worthless people remaining. It was
to cure them. Most of them agreed to take the work which was offered them, but they had no intention of really working. When they found the bailiff, who was a very active man, determined to see that every labourer should honestly earn his wages, the greater part began to call off.
Some complained to the squire of the bailiff, and the squire gave every one a patient hearing. But he showed. plainly that he was not a man to be deceived, and people soon found out it was no use to complain to him without reason. Some of the hitherto idle, finding they must work or starve, now began to improve; and being watched narrowly, by degrees acquired industrious habits; and
as the squire took great pains to encourage all who made efforts to reform themselves, several gave up their bad practices and became honest, thriving labourers.
There were still, however, not a few who continued very unsatisfactory. One time they would go to the Union, where they liked neither the confinement nor the discipline. Then on coming out they would do odd jobs of work, and manage to shuffle on for a time, just keeping themselves from starvation. If they earned a little money it was spent at the beershop; and thus there was still a number of wretched families at Banton, for vice and idleness are not overcome in a day.
The example of the better sort, however, was not without effect, and even this, the worst class of inhabitants, was gradually becoming less. The school, with which the clergyman had of late had great difficulty, was soon much better attended. More parents were able to afford to pay for their children's schooling, and the squire always encouraged his tenants to send them, though he would not compel any one to do so. The parents took a pride in hearing their children repeat what they had learnt at school, and this kept them at home in the evening; while the good lessons which were taught to the children, often found their way to the parents' hearts. Then, again, the squire and all his servants were constant in their attendance at church ; and he took care to let it be known that he noticed which of the poor were in the habit of attending. The clergyman took great pains to teach his parishioners their duty to God, and what they heard at church made considerable impression upon them.