THE PUBLIC GREEN
Few towns can boast such a spacious and beautiful public park as the Green of Glasgow, with its wide-spreading lawns, its picturesque groups of trees, its far-winding walks, its numerous delicious springs, and, above all, its rich command of scenery. The "lungs of London" may exceed it in extent of surface and in artificial adornment, but in beauty of situation and variety of prospect, our own Green certainly surpasses any of the street-girt metropolitan breathing-places. The Green of Glasgow lies to the south-east of the city, on the north bank of the Clyde, which, in a fine bold sweep, forms its southern boundary. It embraces in all about 140 imperial acres, and is surrounded by a carriage-drive two and a-half miles in length, besides being intersected in every direction by gravelled walks, overhung in some instances by the foliage of stately trees, which forms a pleasant screen from the noon-day sun or the pelting shower; while every here and there seats have been erected for the convenience of the weary lounger.
At what period the nucleus of this handsome park first became the property of the community cannot now be ascertained; but it is supposed to have formed part of a grant which was made by James the Second of Scotland to a certain William Turnbull, Lord of Provan and Bishop of Glasgow, on the 20th of April, 1450. In the document conferring the gift, the pious monarch declares that, "for the praise of Almighty God, and of the glorious Virgin Mary, and the blessed Kentigern, patron and confessor of the Church of Glasgow, and for the love which we bear to the Reverend Father in Christ, William, present Bishop in said Church, we have given to the said Bishop and his successors for ever, the City of Glasgow, Barony of Glasgow, and lands commonly called the Bishop’s Forest, with their pertinents in woods, plains, meadows, marshes, pasturages," &c., &c. This, it will be admitted, was a right royal gift. To build a bridge or a church was, in the "good old times," reckoned a pretty safe passport with St. Peter; and it is to be hoped that such a handsome donation as the above would win for the regal donor (a mere boy, by the by!) the especial favour of Mother Church, and secure for him after death a rapid passage through the dreary labyrinths of purgatory. If the Green, however, was included in the pious grant of the unfortunate James, who was subsequently killed at the siege of Roxburgh by the bursting of a cannon, it was at all events originally of much smaller dimensions than it is in our day. From time to time, with praiseworthy spirit, the authorities, as the city increased in extent, secured adjacent portions of territory, until in 1792, by the purchase of the Fleshers’ Haugh from Patrick Bell, Esq. of Cowcaddens, the Green ultimately attained its present size. The improvement of these spacious grounds has also been effected in a gradual manner. At no very distant date they were traversed by the Redclaith Gott, or Camlachie Burn, as it is now called, and also by the Molendinar rivulet; while, from the lowness of the banks at certain places, they were liable to be overflowed by every spate in the river; and even at spring-tides, pools and islands were occasionally formed on their surface. From the period of the Revolution until the present time, a succession of improvements on the Green have been effectively carried out. The landward boundary is protected by walls and railings - banks have been formed to restrain the incursions of the river—moist places have been drained—the Molendinar and Camlachie burns have been arched over, and are now conveyed by invisible channels to the Clyde—hollows have been filled up—inequalities have been levelled—trees have been planted—and enclosures have been formed; while the general aspect has been greatly ameliorated and beautified. Among the more prominent benefactors of the Green in times past, were Provosts Peter and George Murdoch, the latter of whom formed the fine serpentine walks, bordered with shrubbery, which are still remembered by the old inhabitants, but which were removed in consequence of certain abuses to which they were occasionally liable. In our own day the late Dr. Clelland distinguished himself by his attention to the amenities of the Green: under his auspices the splendid carriage-drive was formed, and many other improvements effected. More recently, Councillor Moir has deservally gained golden opinions by his exertions in the same field; and when his projected ameliorations are completed, the Green will undoubtedly present an appearance vastly superior to what has hitherto been witnessed, and which will challenge comparison with that of any public park in the empire.
In defence of their privileges the craftsmen of Glasgow have ever been honourably distinguished. It was to their public-spirited resistance to the iconoclastic fury of the Reformation that we are indebted for the preservation of our beautiful Cathedral. The same determined spirit has been. evoked on several occasions in defence of the Green. In 1744 the Provost and Magistrates were desirous of selling a portion of it, and were only dissuaded from the act by the clamorous opposition which the proposal excited. On various subsequent occasions encroachments on the Green have been attempted, and in some instances even to a certain extent effected; but such has invariably been the indignation excited by invasions of this nature, that they have generally proved abortive. Many of our readers will remember the outburst of popular feeling which occurred a few years since, on the erection of a theatre upon the vacant space opposite the public Jail, and also the vigorous opposition with which the proposal to carry a railway over a portion of the Green was received. It is but fair, however, to mention, that our civic authorities, notwithstanding the occasional exceptions alluded to, have generally proved faithful guardians of the public park, and have expended with an ungrudging liberality, the large sums originally required for its extension, and subsequently for its improvement and embellishment. In the hands of our present enlightened and public-spirited Magistracy and Council, the citizens have happily nothing to fear with regard to the preservation of such a valuable privilege as the Green; but were it otherwise, we have the utmost confidence that our modern craftsmen are not unworthy of their ancestors, and like them are possessed
heath resolved, and hands prepared,
The blessings they enjoy to guard,"
and that any violation of the popular territory would assuredly be met with an uncompromising resistance.
Having thus glanced, in a cursory manner, at the origin and gradual increase and improvement of the Glasgow Green, let us now indulge ourselves with a leisurely stroll within its precincts. It is a beautiful day in this merriest month of the year, and issuing from the sweltering and bustling streets, the verdure even of the much-trodden sward brings a pleasing sense of freshness to the eye of him who, long "in populous city pent," has yearned to see the bright livery of woods and fields. The welcome sunshine, penetrating even into wynds and vennels, with its golden invitation from on high, has called forth their wan and filthy inhabitants in swarms. In the vicinity of the Saltmarket, where we have made our entree, the Green is all alive with squalid groups, the children of misery and vice. Beguiled by the radiance of the summer noon, they have sneaked forth, for a brief interval, from their rocky and noisome haunts, to breathe for a time the comparatively "caller air." Unfortunate females, with faces of triple brass hiding hearts of unutterable woe—sleeping girls, who might be mistaken for lifeless bundles of rags—down-looking scoundrels, with felony stamped on every feature—owlish-looking knaves, minions of the moon, skulking half ashamed at their own appearance in the eye of day; and, alas! poor little tattered and hungry-looking children, with precocious lines of care upon their old-mannish features, tumbling about on the brown and sapless herbage. The veriest dregs of Glasgow society, indeed, seem congregated here. At one place a band of juvenile pickpockets are absorbed in a game at pitch-and-toss; at a short distance a motley crew are engaged putting the stone, or endeavouring to outstrip each other in a leaping bout, while oaths and idiot laughter mark the progress of their play.
You must not confound these parties with what are called the lower orders of our city. There is a deep within a deep in the social scale to compare even the humblest working-man with such wretches, would be in truth a wicked libel. The industrious poor are now at their various useful, and therefore honourable occupations, and the heterogeneous crowd before you are the idle, the vicious, and the miserable,—the very vermin, in short, of our civilization. Poor wretches! let us not grudge them the limited portion of the Green where they invariably herd,—let us not take from misery its few hours of sunshine. If a Burns could be "wae to think upon yon den," when musing on the author of evil and his fearful doom, surely we may spare a little of our sympathy for the poor erring outcasts of, our own race. Their dens, in the bowels of the town, are the veriest hells upon earth. Sin and misery are truly synonymous terms, and bitter, indeed, is the wierd which the idle, the dissolute, and the dishonest even in this life must dree. We know not where a lesson of honesty and industry could be more effectually learned than amidst the haunts of indolence and crime.
Leaving this somewhat unsightly portion of the Green behind (and fortunately it is of limited extent), a walk of a few hundred yards by the margin of the Clyde brings us to the obelisk erected by the citizens to the memory of England’s great naval hero. This plain and withal rather inelegant structure was raised by public subscription in 1806, while the popular enthusiasm excited by the victory of Trafalgar and the glorious death of Nelson was still at its height. It is constructed of freestone, and is in elevation about 144 feet. On the 5th of August, 1810, the upper portion of this massive monument was shattered by lightning, during a violent thunder-storm. The damage was soon repaired, but the track of the electric fluid is still visible on the scarred sides of the structure.
The green sloping banks in the vicinity of Nelson’s Monument, during the summer months, are generally covered with the snowy produce of the washing-tub, and present an appearance of great cheerfulness and animation. Countless groups of wives, lasses, and bairns are scattered about, in every variety of attitude, among the acres of bleaching linen. If sermons are occasionally found in stones, good practical homilies might certainly be drawn from the varied contents of the crowded bleaching-green. The character and condition of countless families may be read with unerring certainty in their display of textile hieroglyphics. The tidy housewife and the dirty drab are here distinguishable at a glance. Every little cluster tells its own tale. Here we have plenty, cleanliness, and comfort; there poverty, filth, and misery. This neatly patched but spotless shirt tells of thrift combined with indigence; that dingy and tattered sheet, of untidiness allied to waste. Here we have honest poverty striving to keep up appearances; there wretchedness and want, careless of character or name. That smart handed and strapping maiden may well glance with pride at the dazzling result of her morning’s toil; while this languid slattern, in "the garish eye of day," exhibits, perhaps unconsciously, her short comings and her shame. Bachelors of the operative class, in their benedictive researches, should really pay occasional visits to the bleaching-green. The character of a sweetheart, we can assure them, may be learned more effectually there than either at kirk or market.
Passing Arn’s Well, which is famed for the quality of its water, and which received its name from a group of alder (Seduce, "arn") trees, which formerly graced the spot, we arrive at the Humane Society House. A numerous fleet of gigs and jolly-boats are either moored or moving about on the breast of the Clyde at this spot. Of late years numerous public works have sprung up on the south side of the stream here; and as many hundreds of the operatives engaged in them reside in Calton and Bridgeton, it has been found advisable to erect an elegant suspension bridge at the spot, for the convenience of foot-passengers. Previously to the erection of this structure, the only means of transit was by ferry-boats, which in times of spate, and indeed at all seasons, were anything but convenient or safe. It is principally to the exertions of ex-bailie Harvey that the public are indebted for the superior accommodation afforded by the handsome bridge which now spans the Clyde at this place, and which also lends such a fine additional feature to the neighbouring landscape. He it was who first broached the idea at the Council Board, and who subsequently got the Bill authorizing its erection carried through Parliament. The structure was completed and thrown open to the public in the autumn of 1855. A moderate pontage is charged from passengers; and it is satisfactory to add, that even as a mercantile speculation it is likely to prove a decided benefit to the Corporation. All honour then, say we, to Mr. Haney; and may his name, as has been proposed, be associated with the graceful and most useful structure which we unquestionably owe to his public-spirited exertions. The bank immediately above and below the Humane Society House, which is peculiarly rich in springs, has been greatly improved of late under the superintendence of the Green Committee. An artificial embankment has been formed and covered with turf; while walks have been tastefully laid off; and, as in the case at several other places, a clump of trees and shrubbery has been planted, and an enclosure formed for its protection. These gentlemen certainly deserve the gratitude of their fellow-citizens for their ceaseless efforts to improve and beautify the Green. We are doubtful, however, as to the degree of success which may attend their sylvan experiments. While the fine rugged old elms and stately beeches are yearly perishing in scores under the baneful influences of smoke, how can we expect that tender young plants in such a situation will thrive? Never, we verily believe, were trees so shockingly maltreated—so stifled with carbonic exhalations—so, begrimed with soot— as those in that unfortunate middle compartment. Our ever-extending manufactures threaten indeed their speedy extinction. The westling winds bring suffocation to them from the Nursery mills, the Orient blasts come laden with death from the Bridgeton factories; while the stormy north sweeps down on their devoted heads with the congregated vapours of the city’s ten thousand chimneys. "Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw," these really ill-fated trees have only reason to love the south. It alone has the slightest compassion upon them; while its visitations in our climate are unfortunately as rare almost as those of Tom Campbell’s angels. No wonder they have a doleful, black, and melancholy look; no wonder they are dying off year by year, and threatening soon to leave our once well-wooded park a dreary untimbered waste. It was a part of Wordsworth’s poetical creed that plants have a sort of sentient existence, and that they really enjoy the sunshine and the shower. We confess, in a certain degree, to a similar belief and consider it almost a species of cruelty to plant these poor juvenile forestlings where their stern old seniors are unable to keep their position. Let us first do our spiriting with the vomitories of smoke. Let Jukes, or some other enemy of the atmosphere-defiling demon, wrest their dusky plumes, their leaf-destroying vapours, from the tall chimneys, and then let us dibble in our saplings at every spare nook. Until the "nuisance" is at least in some measure abated, we are persuaded that tree culture in the Green will prove to be labour in vain.
It is a fact not generally known, that it was in Glasgow Green, near the site of the Humane Society House, that the idea of his great improvement on the steam-engine first flashed upon the mind of the immortal James Watt. The great engineer was at that period philosophical instrument maker to the University. In this capacity a small working model of Newcomen’s atmospheric engine was sent to him for repair by Professor Anderson. While the machine was still in his possession for this purpose he went out alone, on a Sunday afternoon, to take his customary walk on the Green. His mind was naturally enough directed to the contemplation of the principles upon which the engine which he had been repairing was constructed, and just as he was passing Arn’s Well, the happy thought struck him, that by condensing the steam in a separate vessel, instead of in the cylinder, as it had hitherto been done, an immense saving of fuel might be effected. Had Watt been an ancient Greek he would probably, on such an occasion, have rushed across the Green, shouting "Eureka! Eureka!" but canny Scot as he was, and probably in wholesome dread of the Kirk-Session, he pursued his leisurely thoughtful walk, and (according to his own account of the matter, as related to a highly respectable gentleman of this city, who is still amongst us) had fully mastered the details of his grand discovery before returning home. Immediately thereafter, in concert with his apprentice, Mr. John Gardner, who was subsequently for many years a mathematical instrument maker in this city, he constructed a model of the steam engine according to his new and improved method. This wrought admirably. The first experiment on a large scale took place at a coal mine near the Carron Ironworks, when his expectations were fully justified, and he was induced to take out a patent for "saving steam and fuel in fire-engines." Such was the origin of that mighty power which has since done so much for the advancement of modem civilization. Of the authenticity of the preceding statement there can be no doubt, as we have it directly from the gentleman to whom Watt himself communicated the circumstance. May we not be proud of such an association in connection with our beautiful Green?
We have hinted that Watt may have had the fear of the Kirk-Session before his eyes during his memorable Sunday ramble. Nor in those days would the fear have been altogether groundless. A remnant of the old Puritan spirit still actuated our local authorities, and Sunday-walking, especially during the hours of Divine service, was reckoned a punishable offence. A band of functionaries, termed "Compurgators," were employed to perambulate the streets and public walks during "kirk hours" on Sundays, in order to compel "stravaigers" either to go to church, or to betake themselves to their homes. Those who refused compliance were at once taken into custody. This system continued in force to a period subsequent to the middle of the last century, when Mr. Peter Blackburn (grandfather of Mr. Blackburn of Killearn) was placed in durance vile for walking in the Green on Sunday! This public-spirited gentleman immediately raised an action against the authorities for such an unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject. The case was finally decided in his favour in the Court of Session, and the system of course speedily fell into desuetude.
The "Round Seat" is a favourite resting-place with the loungers of the Green. The Clyde here takes an abrupt bend at Peat-Bog point, and sweeps in a fine semi-circular curve round the low-lying Fleshers’ Haugh. It was on this spacious tree-dotted haugh or holm that Prince Charles Edward, the "young Chevalier" of Scottish song, reviewed his troops on the occasion of his unwelcome visit to Glasgow, in the winter of 1745-6. Among the Whigs of Glasgow the Chevalier had few friends. Accordingly, when returning from England he arrived at our city on his way to the Highlands, he determined to make the most of the wealthy enemy. The Highlanders, after their lengthened and bootless campaign, were in a most necessitous condition. Their tartans were nearly worn out, while many of them were without brogues, bonnets, or shirts. On their way to the city every individual they met was speedily divested of shoes and other articles of dress. Notwithstanding such wind-falls, they presented a most miserable appearance. But Glasgow "saw another sight" (and paid for it too) before their departure. Charles, without ceremony, at once took up his residence at the best house in the city, and adopted the necessary measures for refitting his army. The Magistrates were compelled to officiate as clothiers, to the tune of 12,000 shirts, 6,000 cloth coats, 6,000 pairs of shoes, 6,000 pairs of stockings, 6,000 waistcoats, and an equal number of bonnets. "My conscience!" what would Bailie Nicol Jarvie say to such an act of extortion? Whatever the honest Ballie may have said, the described articles had to be produced, and it was in the pride of these borrowed plumes that the review we have mentioned was held. "We marched out (says one of Charlie’s English followers, in a manuscript journal) with drums beating, colours flying, bagpipes playing, and all the marks of a triumphant army, to the appointed ground, attended by multitudes of people who had come from all parts to see us, and especially the ladies, who, though formerly much against us, were now changed by the sight of the Prince into the most enthusiastic loyalty." During the review Charles stood under a thorn-tree, on the declivity which forms the north-western boundary of the Fleshers’ Haugh, about 100 yards east of the "round seat." One of the citizens, then a boy, many years afterwards said, "I managed to get so near him that I could have touched him with my hand, and the impression which he made upon my mind shall never fade as long as I live. He had a princely aspect, and its interest was much heightened by the dejection which appeared in his pale fair countenance and downcast eye. He evidently wanted confidence in his cause, and seemed to have a melancholy foreboding of that disaster which soon after mined the hopes of his family for ever."
The Chevalier and his devoted Highlanders passed away. Their after fate, as every one knows, forms one of the darkest themes in Scottish story. In the contemplation of their subsequent misfortunes, their faults and failings are forgotten; and now that the unfortunate Chevalier’s name and memory have become "such stuff as dreams are made of," every heart thrills in sympathy with the pathetic lyrical expression of our townsman Glen,—
"Oh waes me for Prince Charlie!"
The old thorn, "Prince Charlie’s Tree," as it was called, continued to be pointed out until recently, when somehow or other it disappeared. Latterly it had a blasted and decaying appearance, and was protected by a wooden railing. We have heard it rumoured, whether truly or not we cannot say, that this venerable and interesting relic was destroyed some four or five years ago by a band of mischievous scoundrels during a Queen’s birth-day riot. We should not be surprised to learn, however, that some sacrilegious antiquary has the old stump snugly deposited among his "auld nick-nackets." As unlikely things have happened ere now among the disciples of Grose. if our friend Mr. Moir will forgive our apparent inconsistency, we would entreat him, when next he takes the planter’s spade in hand, to let us have a successor to the "Chevalier’s thorn." Such a spot should certainly not be permitted to remain unmarked.
Great alterations have been effected on the Fleshers’ Haugh within the memory of persons still living. We remember, in our own boyish days, a fine spring, called the "Ladle Well," on the northern declivity, with a considerable ditch or marsh in its vicinity. The well and marsh, however, have long disappeared, the water of both being now conveyed away by a covered drain, while the grass waves green on terra firma where the lasses of Brigtown came to fill their cans, and adventurous urchins, miscalculating their leaping powers—as we from sad experience can testify— were often plunged to the waist in mud. Few of our readers will be prepared to learn that within the past sixty years there was a printfield on the Flesher’s Haugh. Such, however, was the case; and we have conversed with a respectable old man who served his apprenticeship in the establishment, which was somewhere about the locality of Dominie’s Hole. At that period there was a cart-road across what is now called King’s Park.
Proceeding towards the cast, along the brow of the Fleshers’ Haugh, the most picturesque portion of the Green comes gradually Into view. Fine belts and clumps of trees, among which are numerous handsome specimens of the elm, the beech, the saugh, and the ash, diversify and adorn the scene. The foliage here assumes a freshness and beauty not unworthy of a more rural locality. The various shades of green which characterize the woodlands of early summer are now seen in perfection, and produce an extremely pleasing effect; while the wide-spreading lawns and gently sloping banks are spangled with the daisy, the dandelion, and the buttercup. Some of our readers may smile when we mention the botany of Glasgow Green; but we can assure them that, in spite of the ceaseless trampling to which it is subjected, a considerable variety of wild plants may be found by the attentive observer within its precincts. An acquaintance of ours in one season collected not less than sixty species within its boundaries, and we believe that the real number is considerably beyond what he obtained. Among the plants indigenous to the Green, we may mention the shamrock, which the Irish Catholics of our city gather on Saint Patrick’s Day; and the mystic yarrow, which the girls of Bridgeton and Calton in hundreds come forth to pluck as a love-charm, between the gloamin’ and the mirk of May eve. On the evening of the 30th April the Green is generally crowded with groups of yarrow seekers. For the benefit of our fair readers, some of whom may wish to test the virtues of the yarrow on future May eves, we may mention the modus operandi, as we had it from a bouncing Dublin girl who was out on a recent occasion. On coming to a spot where the desired plant is growing, the maiden kneels, and while gathering a sprig of the dewy foliage, repeats the following rhyme:-
yarrow, here I seek thee,
Here I have thee found;
In the name of my true love
I pluck thee from the ground.
As Joseph dreamed of Mary,
And took her for his bride,
So in a dream I wish to see
My true love by my side."
The yarrow thus taken is placed under the pillow of the maiden as she retires to sleep, when, according to the freit, the shadowy form of the future husband is sure to make its appearance during the slumbers of the night. This rather poetical superstition is diffused over the rural districts of the Three Kingdoms but it is certainly curious to find it lingering in such a matter-of-fact community as ours.
The student of mankind will find much to engage his attention and excite his interest in a stroll round the Green. In the hurry and bustle of the town men lose their individuality. Face succeeds face with such rapidity that one has not time to speculate on the "strang matters" with which they are one and all legibly marked. It is different here, where you have leisure to decipher, as it were, the lines which time and care have traced on the human face divine. Here you have the octogenarian, garrulous of other days, willing to unfold for your gratification, as you rest on the bench by his side, the experiences of a lengthened pilgrimage; there the ancient soldier, who will "never, never march again," yet who is eager for a good listener to whom he may fight his battles o’er again. That pale-faced youth, muffled to the chin, and shivering in the very smile of summer, needs not to give audible utterance to his sad story. Long, lingering, and painful disease is plainly written on his wofully shrunken face and drooping form, while the shadow of an early death even now hangs darkly over him. Poor fellow! what a depth of meaning is in his bright blue eyes, as he lingers to gaze upon the flower-gathering children! Yet is his fate almost enviable when compared with that of yonder wan-faced and scantily clad weaver, who, with downcast eyes, and hands hung listlessly behind him, moves slowly, as if he were counting his steps athwart the sward. "Tis want that makes his cheeks so pale;" and it requires no wizard to tell that a wife and numerous little ones are dependent upon his exertions for bread, while there is no web in the loom. Alas! for the unwilling idler. This lackadaisical spark, with shirt-collar a La Byron, and arms akimbo, now moving with rapid stride and anon in rapt pause, pulling forth his richly-gilt memorandum-book, and hurriedly penciling its pages, can belong but to one tribe. Air, gesture, gait, at once proclaim the aspirant to poetic honours. We could not be more sure of the fact, indeed, although we met him in the poet’s corner of a newspaper. Perverse fortune may have doomed him to the counter, but it is quite evident that in his own estimation he has a destiny infinitely above yard-sticks.
But we must move on. From the bank which overlooks the Clyde, at the south-eastern extremity of the Green, a prospect of great extent and beauty is obtained. To the left, over Rutherglen Bridge, in the distance, is seen the elegant spire of Cambuslang, with the towering heights of Dychmont. In front, half hidden amidst trees and gentle undulations, Shawfield and Rutherglen are seen, while the finely-wooded braes of Cathkin swell pleasantly to the horizon, and the mansions of Blairbeth and Castlemilk enliven the middle-distance, which is also studded with villas and cottages innumerable. To the right are Little Govan, Camphill, and Langside—the latter the scene of the unfortunate Mary’s final overthrow. Indeed, the movements preliminary to that decisive engagement may be better comprehended when they are described with relation to our present position, than if we were even standing on the field where the battle occurred. Here we see at a glance the ground traversed by the hostile armies, and the system on which the movements were conducted which terminated in the conflict at Langside. Marching from Hamilton with the intention of proceeding to Dumbarton by the north-east side of Glasgow, the Queen’s troops were confronted at Dalmarnock ford by the army of the Regent Murray, which was drawn up in order of battle in the vicinity of Barrowfield. Desirous of avoiding the impending engagement, Mary’s adherents altered their route, and, passing by Rutherglen and Hangingshaw, endeavoured to accomplish their purpose of reaching Dumbarton by a forced march to the south-west of the city. Their course, however, was necessarily a circuitous one, and Murray having become aware of the alteration in their plans, at once pushed across the Green, forded the Clyde, and as we can here see, from the relative position of the places we have mentioned, was, without difficulty, able to intercept them in their progress. Thus out-manoeuvred, Mary’s generals saw there was nothing for it but either to risk an engagement or make an inglorious retreat to Hamilton. The former alternative was adopted, and the result, as every one knows, was their total defeat and dispersion.
But to return to the Green itself. At the foot of the bank on which we are standing, and within a few yards of each other, are two fine cool crystalline springs, which, although so near each other, possess very opposite qualities. The one, locally denominated "Robin’s Well," is famous for bleaching purposes and for the dilution of "gude Scots’ drink;" while the other, being moderately impregnated with a solution of ferruginous matter, is strictly avoided alike by the washerwoman and the connoisseur of punch. A few yards farther down the stream, beneath a group of stately trees, are the Springboards, and Dominie’s Hole (so called from a dominie or teacher having been drowned there), the usual bathing-places of the amphibious east-end citizens, when, to use the words of Wilson, the quaint old author of ‘ The Clyde,"—
summer’s beat drives frequent to the pool
The active youth, their glowing limbs to cool;
They dive, and distant far emerge again,
Or easy float along the liquid plain,
While curling waves around their ‘bodies twine,
Through which their limbs like polished marble shine;
Now with strong arms they strive against the tide,
Now oaring swiftly, with the current glide."
Many hundreds of people, indeed, bathe here daily during the sultry months, and, in spite of every precaution, few seasons, unfortunately, pass in which several lives are not lost at this part of the river. Life-buoys are suspended on the bank, that assistance in emergencies may be at once rendered. Boards have also been erected by the authorities at conspicuous points, on which, for the benefit of intending bathers, the depth of the river at various places is legibly inscribed.
Pursuing our walk, which now tends city-ward, by "Allan’s Pen" and the fine belt of plantation which borders the south-east side of the Green, we are struck at every step by the improvements which have recently been effected. New walks, to the extent of several miles, have been formed within the past year or two, wherever, by the "old brown lines" of footpath, the public had manifested a desire to pass. The sward, at the same time, has been protected at the more exposed points by enclosures of wooden railing, and the result is, that never, within the memory of the "oldest inhabitant," has there been such an unbroken expanse of verdure on the Green as during the present season. At the same time there has been "ample scope and verge enough" left for all kinds of recreative amusements. Cricket, rounders and football, the sports most popular here, are now practised as extensively as at any former period. On Saturday afternoons, when the mills and public works are stopped, King’s Park presents a most cheerful and animating spectacle, with its numerous groups of youthful operatives, after the toils of the week, all earnestly engaged in these healthful and exciting games. In former times the Celtic "shinty" was a favourite pastime during the winter months with the juvenility of our city. Of late years it seems to have fallen almost into desuetude. The same may be said of golf, which we remember in our boyhood seeing frequently practised by elderly gentlemen on the Green. There seems, indeed, to be a fashion in recreation as in things of greater moment. Shinty and golf, however, are both exceedingly injurious to the turf, and, considering the amenities of the Green, it is probable that the fastidious may rejoice in their discontinuance.
Previously to the general flitting of the merchant princes of Glasgow "towards the setting sun," the Green was the favourite haunt of the wealth and fashion of the city. It was here the pride and beauty of the aristocratic Charlotte Street and St. Andrew’s Square loved most to congregate, "when summer days were fine." These time-honoured elms, so gaunt and woe-begone, could they speak, might tell of days when the proud Virginian merchant, with his long scarlet cloak and bushy wig, passed haughtily beneath their shade, and the gaucy bailie with his long queue,
"That down his back did flow,"
went "shug shuggin" past in all the pomposity of civic importance. The readers of Rob Roy will remember Frank Osbaldistone’s Sunday evening walk in the Green, previous to his midnight meeting with the bold outlaw. This very elm, for aught we know, may have been the identical one behind which the lover of Diana Vernon ensconced himself when he heard, through the darkness, the voice of Andrew Fairservice. Be that as it may, the more fashionable classes of Glasgow have long ceased habitually to frequent the purlieus of the Green; and it is only when the attraction of a review, a regatta, or some extraordinary spectacle occurs, that it is revisited by glimpses of its former glory.
During the wars of Napoleon, when our shores were threatened with foreign invasion, numerous bands of volunteers, in daily exercise upon the Green, manifested the loyalty and patriotism of Glasgow. It was on the same field that the sympathies of our citizens in the cause of political reform were, from time to time, expressed in multitudinous assemblage. No one who witnessed the monster meetings of the Reform epoch, when the population of our city, in the strength of a united purpose, came forth in their thousands to demand their political rights, can ever forget the grandeur and impressiveness of the spectacle. To the achievement of the great moral victory of 1832 (for in its fruits, which are not yet all reaped, it has indeed been great), the magnificent meetings of Glasgow Green must have contributed in no limited degree. Peace has her victories as well as war, and the battle-field where corruption has been overcome, although all undewed with the red rain, should ever be regarded as hallowed ground. All honour then to our noble Green; and should
"Malice domestic or foreign levy"
ever again call for similar exertions, may our citizens, as in days of yore, be prepared to answer the call of duty, and may they long preserve intact these spacious grounds as a fair field for the manifestation of their loyalty and patriotism.
Passing the Washing-house, and in front of Monteith Row—a handsome range of edifices, but erected on a clipping from the Green and within the "stately wall" mentioned by old M’Ure.....we make our exit at the London Street "winnles," and soon find ourselves in "the heart o’ the town."