A Country Schoolmaster

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Robert Wallace
Oliver and Boyd, 1899 - Teachers - 392 pages
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Written about the life lived in a small village with an extensive hinterland in Dumfriesshire in South West Scotland just before the dawn of the 20th Century. The book is a collection of writings and memoirs of one James Shaw who was the schoolmaster at Tynron,near Moniaive. The work is edited by an ex-pupil and close friend of Shaw who became a professor of Agriculture and Rural Economy at Edinburgh University.
Shaw has a lot more to say than just describing his life,and is always interesting. Some of the writings and quoted verse are very 'Victorian' to be sure but a way of understanding such a simple time is gleaned from stories of local people and events.
For people who know the area of Scotland described, it is doubly interesting of course,but has something for everyone to enjoy,despite a somewhat odd presentation and editing style. Makes a good read and could well do with republishing with modern reflections and analysis.

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Page 33 - While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin, And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing Hopes of high talk with the departed dead.
Page xlviii - To the Minnow every cranny and pebble, and quality and accident, of its little native Creek may have become familiar ; but does the Minnow understand the Ocean Tides and periodic Currents, the Trade-winds, and Monsoons, and Moon's Eclipses ; by all which the condition of its little Creek is regulated, and may, from time to time...
Page 163 - I wish I were where Helen lies; Night and day on me she cries; And I am weary of the skies, For her sake that died for me.
Page 163 - Curst be the heart that thought the thought, And curst the hand that fired the shot, When in my arms burd Helen dropt, And died to succour me! O think na ye my heart was sair, When my Love dropt and spak nae mair! There did she swoon wi' meikle care, On fair Kirconnell lea.
Page l - Art thou too fallen, Iberia! Do we see The robber and the murderer weak as we? Thou, that hast wasted earth, and dared despise Alike the wrath and mercy of the skies, Thy pomp is in the grave, thy glory laid Low in the pits thine avarice has made.
Page xlix - The One remains, the many change and pass ; Heaven's light for ever shines, Earth's shadows fly ; Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity, Until Death tramples it to fragments.
Page 164 - Curst be the heart that thought the thought. And curst the hand that fired the shot. When in my arms burd ' Helen dropt. And died to succour me ! O think na ye my heart was sair, When my love dropt down and spak...
Page 164 - O that I were where Helen lies ! Night and day on me she cries ; Out of my bed she bids me rise, Says,
Page 126 - I REMEMBER, I REMEMBER I REMEMBER, I remember The house where I was born, The little window where the sun Came peeping in at morn ; He never came a wink too soon, Nor brought too long a day, But now I often wish the night Had borne my breath away ! I remember, I remember...
Page 106 - I love all waste And solitary places ; where we taste The pleasure of believing what we see Is boundless, as we wish our souls to be...

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