31 January 1921 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Disagreeable change of weather. East wind + rain all day though never heavy. Did a list of 16 walking + finished at 2 by going to Bank + calling on May Scott1, Forest Road to ask her to go to cook at Viewfield2. The Taylor girls3 + Mrs Mack4 came to tea + I recited “The Borderland”5 to them in the drawing room. I cut [?] the Taylor’s’ Quin’s flowers6 + “A Hand of Romance”7. Got a letter from Jean8. Wrote Dora9. Nancy10 returned from Keswick. She did a 24 mile walk one day.

1 May Scott is not identified

2 Viewfield was the Muir and Graham medical partnership’s new (1920) premises

3 Not identified

4 Agnes Mackintosh née Watson, formerly Harper (1859-1946), of Elm Park, Selkirk

5 ‘The Borderland’ by Roger Quinn (1850-1925), ‘The Tramp Bard of the Borders’ of whom Sir George Brisbane Douglas wrote that his verses “are harmonies evolved out of the very depths of sadness.” Its lyrics reproduced below were taken from Archie Fisher who sang Borderland on his album ‘Off the Map’ and who wrote “My own setting of the poem by ‘The Tramp Bard of the Borders’ Roger Quinn. I see most of the places mentioned in the song every day when I am home, and it’s all true.”

From the moorlands and the meadows | to this city of the shadows | Where I wander old and lonely | comes a call I understand | In clear soft notes enthralling | it is calling ever calling | ‘Tis the spirit of the open | from the dear old borderland.

For this grim huge city daunts me | its wail of sorrow haunts me, | A nameless figure tossed amidst | the human serf that beats, | Forever and forever in a frenzy of endeavour | All along the cruel barriers | of its never ending streets.

But I’ll leave it in the morning | slip away without a warning | Save a handclasp from the friend | that knows the call that leads me on | in the city’s clang and clatter, | one old man the less won’t matter | And no one here will say my name | or care that I am gone.

By Caddonfoot I’ll linger | it has charms to stay the singer | And from the bridge a painter’s dream | of beauty there I’ll see | But I’ll leave it all behind me | when the purple evening shadows find me | past the vines of Clovenfords | to haunted Torwoodlee.

Fair Dryburough and Melrose, | touched by the wizard’s spell arose | And Bemerside and Leaderfoot | Elwyn’s fairy dene | With the Tweed serenely gliding, | clearly seen and shyly hiding | where Eildons raise their triple crest | to sentinel the scene.

But alas the dream is over | I awake now to discover | The city’s rush the bustling crowds | and the din on every hand | But my ears a-softly falling | I can hear the curlews calling | And I know that soon I’ll see them | in the dear old borderland.

[‘Origins: ‘Borderland’ (the Archie Fisher version) at The Mudcat Cafe https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=162362%5D

6 The allusion to Quin’s flowers is unclear but in this context must refer to Roger Quinn too

7 The allusion to “A Hand of Romance” has not (yet) been traced

8 Jane Henderson Logan ‘Jean’ Muir (1877-1941), Dr Muir’s eldest daughter

9 Andrina Dorothy ‘Dora’ Muir (1882-1978), nurse and Dr Muir’s youngest daughter

10 Agnes Amelia ‘Nancy’ Roberts née Muir (1878-1948), Dr Muir’s second daughter

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/24, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1921]

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Archivist, interests include Dr John Stewart Muir 1845-1938) of Selkirk, general practitioner, and Seton Paul Gordon (1886–1977), naturalist, author and photographer

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