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And now young Keeldar reach'd the stream,
Above the foamy linn;
And force the warrior in.
The holly floated to the side,
And the leaf of the rowan pale ; Alas! no spell could charm the tide,
Nor the lance of Liddesdale.
Swift was the Cout o' Keeldar's course
Along the lily lee;
And never home came he.
i That no species of magic had any effect over a running stream, was a commor opinion among the vulgar, and is alluded to in Burns's admirable tale of Tam o' Shunter.
Where weeps the birch with branches green,
Without the holy ground,
The warrior's ridgy mound.
And the hunters bold, of Keeldar's train,
Within yon castle's wall,
Till the ruin'd towers down fall.
Each in his hunter's garb array'd,
Each holds his bugle horn;
That ne'er shall wake the morn.
THE BLACKSMITH'S VOYAGE.
FROM “RAMBLES IN NORTHUMBERLAND."
BOUT the middle of June 1834, a blacksmith,
pushed out to sea. In a short time
he fell asleep, and the boat drifted among the Gollors, * when he was awakened, as he afterwards by signs informed his friends, from the spray dashing over his face. As it was flood tide, the boat continued to drift towards the House island, which he attempted to reach, but could not, for want of oars. He however contrived, though unacquainted with the management of a boat, to set a small sail and to reach Holy Island, where he landed in safety, though exceedingly terrified, about nine in the morning. On arriving at home, he signified to his friends, as well as he was able, the perils to which he had been exposed in his marine excursion, and gave them to understand that he would never, either drunk or sober, enter a boat again.
To gollor, signifies to growl in a loud and threatening manner.
EXCISEMEN AND SMUGGLERS.
HROUGHOUT the close of the last and the beginning of the present century; the Borders presented an admirable field for the exertion of those who made no scruple to defraud the crown of some slight portion of its revenue. Salt and especially whiskey were commodities which yielded the smuggler most ample remuneration : they were purchased in
Scotland, and conveyed into and sold in England; and the names of those who vended them, amongst whom Willie Robson, alias Turkey Wull, Jamie Bonnar and Jamie Waugh hold a prominent position, are still well remembered amongst our north-country peasantry. Boomer was, also, in these days, noted for the quantities of Holland gin landed there by foreign vessels; and hence it was conveyed all over the interior of the country. Many were the scrapes and difficulties encountered by the contraband traders; yet as they became general favourites with the public, not a few were fortunate enough to elude, for a considerable time, the vigilance of the excise officers. The latter class, again, were, with the people, objects of odium; and though that feeling might so far be concealed by plausibility, it was ever severe in proportion to the strictness with whch the officer performed his duty. Moreover, the mass of the people were no strangers to the weight of taxes which the legislature had imposed upon them: and they considered it more in the light of equity than wrong to supply their wants at the readiest and cheapest market. The excellence too of the whiskey manufactured in Scotland was a powerful recommendation in its favour-so much so that not unfrequently it gained admittance into almost every gentlemen's house in Northumberland. The late Mr. Ellis of Otterburne, honest man, who, to do him justice, was no niggard of a good glass, possessed it often of capital quality; and it is yet fresh in the memory of some individuals that, on one occasion, two cart loads were conveyed down Redesdale for the express use of the chief magistrate of one of the principal towns in the north of England.
Although many excisemen, who were stationed near the Borders, went the full length of their commission in repressing the inroads of their lawless opponents, examples were not wanting to show that some were even merciful men. In the neighbourhood of Woodburn, in Redesdale, towards Whetstone House some bridle roads unite with each other; and as these run through a number of enclosures, travellers are put to the trouble of opening a number of gates—a matter of considerable difficulty, as any horseman may prove who will pass through the said locality. Here on a fine harvest day, and in fair view of a band of reapers, a smuggler, with a full cask on each side of his horse, appeared; and, unluckily to all seeming for him, an exciseman also came in the way. Like dog and cat, or rather, like cat and mouse, the wayfarers instinctively recognised each other; and then began the flight and pursuit. The smuggler very dexterously gained admittance through one of the said barriers, and applying his whip to his horse, handled it in such a way that the poor animal had cause to think its owner had gone mad, for it exerted to the utmost every bone, nerve and tendon in its frame. To open the gate was not, however, so easily accomplished by the pursuer: he spurred the horse forward to it—then the animal drew back-then it was again urged on, but the spring was remarkably stiff and would not quit its hold—then he wheeled the horse round, and took a better position, to enable him to overcome the difficulty, but it swerved still from the point of address and thus, with turning, swerving and spurring, much time elapsed before his endeavours were successful. Through he went at last, and away like the wind after the lawbreaker; but the latter had made the best use of the leisure afforded him by concealing the casks in a drain amongst the long heath over which his route lay, and, when his kindly fellow mortal appeared in sight, he was clearing one of the eminences adjoining Wanney craigs. Pursuit was needless: the excise officer drew up his horse, and proceeded on his way; while the smuggler very properly, ventured back after night-fall, and secured the casks, to which he, indeed, had the best claim.
In these days, it was no unusual circumstance if twenty or thirty smugglers on horseback sallied forth in a company to Boomer for gin. Each horse carried two casks, and the spirit being of first rate quality, these dealers found a ready sale for it all over the Borders. Once when a party of this description from Yetholm and the vicinity, were returning with their complement, they were met at Bewick Bridge by a body of armed soldiers, sufficient in number to resist all opposition, who with fixed bayonets took possession of the full casks, and had, however, the liberality to return the horses to their respective owners.* A waggon and long cart were first loaded out of the booty, and what remained was removed to a barn or granary in which it was locked up with the king's seal, for security, affixed to the entrance. The impoverished smugglers, in the mean time, hung off, at a respectable distance till the red coats disappeared; and receiving intelligence amongst some compassionate witnesses of what had taken place, they returned together, broke into the barn, and regained a part of the spoil. It occurred also that a “thievish miller” had exerted himself, during the affray, to catch what he could of the plunder, and having been rather successful, an old conscientious woman gave a hint to the “lads” who very soon discovered the knave's hiding place, and made no hesitation to clear it in gallant style. An equal division of course was afterwards made, when the poor fellows found they had recovered about ten ankers of gin, out of the quantity they brought that morning from Boomer.
* About half a dozen had the good fortune to escape by previously detaching themselves from the main company and crossing the stream at a short distance above the bridge.
A family of the name of Gages, or Geggie as they were frequently called, resided once in the neighbourhood of Coldstream or Wark, and were noted as daring and determined smugglers. Allan or Alley Geggie was a powerful man, and being, when he was closely pressed, most fruitful in resources, many are the feats he is said to have performed. Two excisemen on a time were pursuing him, and having followed him to a ford on the river Tweed near Twizel, where a boat was stationd to convey passengers across, they enquired at the small cottage, where the boatman resided, if a person agreeing with Allan's description had been seen. The answer returned was that such a man had just been kented over the Tweed.* The pursuers then requested to be conveyed over the river also, and the ferryman, as they supposed him to be, made no delay in walking them on board. Remaining himself on shore, he snatched the kent from the boat, and pushing her forcibly from him, she flew like an arrow upon the stream, while the gaugers were not less astonished than mortified as their conductor drew himself up to his full height and said, “Now d-m ye, am Alley Geggie!” They succeeded in gaining the shore after being borne downward for several miles; and Allan withdrew for a time to another district, where, without annoyance, he resumed the duties and dangers of his vocation.
I am indebted to a very deserving correspondent for the particulars of the following brief account of a man who had several " hair-breadth 'scapes” from Excise officers. Robert Purvis, a son of Thomas Purvis, a weaver of Angerton, on the Wansbeck, was born about 1794. With his father he learned the trade of a weaver ; but it
When the stream is of equal depth, a kent or pole is used, by which motion is given to the boat from the bottom of the river instead of oaring its waters.