NOTE TO CHAPTER II. Note A.---Robert Donn's Poems. I cannot dismiss this story without resting attention for a moment on the light which has been thrown on the character of the Highland Drover since the time of its first appearance, by the account of a drover poet, by name Robert Mackay, or, as he was commonly called, Rob Donn, i.e. brown Robert, and certain specimens of his talents, published in the 90th Number of the Quarterly Review. The picture which that paper gives of the habits and feelings of a class of persons with which the general reader would be apt to associate no ideas but those of wild superstition and rude manners, is in the highest degree interesting; and I cannot resist the temptation of quoting two of the songs of this hitherto unheard of poet of humble life. They are thus introduced by the reviewer:--- ``Upon one occasion, it seems, Rob's attendance upon his master's cattle business detained him a whole year from home, and at his return he found that a fair maiden, to whom his troth had been plighted of yore, had lost sight of her vows, and was on the eve of being married to a rival, (a carpenter by trade,) who had profited by the young Drover's absence. The following song was composed during a sleepless night, in the neighbourhood of Creiff, in Perthshire, and the home sickness which it expresses appears to be almost as much that of the deer-hunter as of the loving swain. `_Easy in my bed, it is easy, But it is not to sleep that I incline: The wind whistles northwards, northwards, And my thoughts move with it_. More pleasant were it to be with thee In the little glen of calves, Than to be counting of droves In the enclosures of Creiff. _Easy is my bed, &c_ 'Great is my esteem of the maiden, Towards whose dwelling the north wind blows; She is ever cheerful, sportive, kindly, Without folly, without vanity, without pride. True is her heart---were I under hiding, And fifty men in pursuit of my footsteps, I should find protection, when they surrounded me most closely, In the secret recess of that shieling. _Easy is my bed, &c_ 'Oh for the day for turning my face homeward, That I may see the maiden of beauty:--- Joyful will it be to me to be with thee,--- Fair girl with the long heavy locks! Choice of all places for deer-hunting Are the brindled rock and the ridge! How sweat at evening to be dragging the slain deer Downwards along the piper's cairn! _Easy is my bed, &c_ 'Great is my esteem for the maiden! Who parted from me by the west side of the enclosed field; Late yet again will she linger in that fold, Long after the kine are assembled. It is I myself who have taken no dislike to thee, Though far away from thee am I now. It is for the thought of thee that sleep flies from me; Great is the profit to me of thy parting kiss! _Easy is my bed, &c_ `Dear to me are the boundaries of the forest; Far from Creiff is my heart; My remembrance is of the hillocks of sheep, And the hath of many knolls. Oh for the red-streaked fissures of the rock, Where in spring time, the fawns leap; Oh for the crags towards which the wind is blowing--- Cheap would be my bed to be there! _Easy is my bed, &c_ ``The following describes Rob's feelings on the first discovery of his damsel's infidelity. The airs of both these pieces are his own, and, the Highland ladies say, very beautiful. `Heavy to me is the shieling, and the hum that is in it, Since the ear that was wont to listen is now no more on the watch. Where is Isabel, the courteous, the conversable, a sister in kindness? Where is Anne, the slender-browed, the turret-breasted, whose glossy hair pleased me when yet a boy? _Heich! what an hour was my returning! Pain such as that sunset brought, what availeth me to tell it?_ `I traversed the fold, and upward among the trees--- Each place, far and near, wherein I was wont to salute my love. When I looked down from the crag, and beheld the fair-haired stranger dallying with his bride, I wished I had never revisited the glen of my dreams. _Such things came into my heart as that sun was going down. A pain of which I shall never be rid, what availeth me to tell it?_ `Since it has been heard that the carpenter had persuaded thee, My sleep is disturbed---busy is foolishness within me at midnight. The kindness that has been between us,---I cannot shake off that memory in visions; Thou callest me not to thy side; but love is to me for a messenger. _There is strife within me, and I toss to be at liberty; And ever closer it clings, and the delusion is growing to me as a tree._ `Anne, yellow-haired daughter of Donald, surely thou knowest not how it is with me--- That it is old love, unrepaid, which has worn down from me my strength; That when far from thee, beyond many mountains, the wound in my heart was throbbing, Stirring, and searching for ever, as when I sat beside thee on the turf. _Now, then, hear me this once, if for ever I am to be without thee, My spirit is broken--give me one kiss ere I leave this land!_ `Haughtily and scornfully the maid looked upon me; Never will it be work for thy fingers to unloose the band from my curls; Thou hast been absent a twelwemonth, and six were seeking me diligently; Was thy superiority so high, that there should be no end of abiding for thee? _Ha! ha! ha!---hast thou at last become sick? Is it love that is give death to thee? surely the enemy has been in no haste._ `But how shall I hate thee, even though towards me thou hast become cold? When my discourse is most angry concerning thy name in thine absence, Of sudden thine image, with its old dearness, comes visibly into my mind; And a secret voice whispers that love will yet prevail! _And I become surety for it anew, darling, And it springs up at that hour lofty as a tower._' ``Rude and bald as these things appear in a verbal translation, and rough as they might possibly appear, even were the originals intelligible, we confess we are disposed to think they would of themselves justify Dr Mackay (their Editor) in placing this herdsman-lover among the true sons of song.''--- _Quarterly Review, No. XC. July 1831_.