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Full text of "The provost"

THE PROVOST 




THE PROVOST 



THE PROVOST 
BY JOHN GALT 

ILLUSTRATED IN COLOUR 

BY JOHN M. AIKEN 



TNFOULIS 
London & Edinburgh 



Published October 1913 



Turnbull & Spears, Printers, Edinburgh 



LIST OF CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION page 3 

I. THE FORECAST 9 

II. A KITHING 15 

III. A DIRGIE . . . V . . 21 

IV. THE GUILDRY , ^ > . 27 

V. THE FIRST CONTESTED ELECTION . . 35 
VI. THE FAILURE OF BAILIE M 'LUCRE . . 43 

VII. THE BRIBE . . . . . . 47 

VIII. ON THE CHOOSING OF A MINISTER . . 57 

IX. AN EXECUTION . . V . . . 67 

X. A RIOT 75 

XI. POLICY ...... 85 

XII. THE SPY Ql 

XIII. THE MEAL MOB . ... . . 99 

XIV. THE SECOND PROVOSTRY . . .109 

XV. ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE STREETS . 115 

XVI. ABOUT THE REPAIR OF THE KIRK . . 123 

XVII. THE LAW PLEA. 129 

XVIII. THE SUPPRESSION OF THE FAIRS . . 137 

XIX. THE VOLUNTEERING . . .; . 143 

XX. THE CLOTHING . . . . , V 151 

XXI. THE PRESSGANG . . . V . 155 

XXII. THE WIG DINNER 165 

XXIII. THE DEATH OF MR M'LUCRE . . . 171 

XXIV. THE WINDY YULE . . . . 177 
XXV. THE SUBSCRIPTION .... 185 

XXVI. OF THE PUBLIC LAMPS . . . . 191 

XXVII. THE PLAINSTONES . . . . 1 99 

XXVIII. THE SECOND CROP OF VOLUNTEERS . 207 

XXIX. CAPTAIN ARMOUR . . . .217 



THE PROVOST 

xxx. THE TRADES' BALL . . . page 225 

xxxi. THE BAILIE'S HEAD . . .231 

XXXII. THE TOWN DRUMMER . . . .237 

XXXIII. AN ALARM .... . 243 

XXXIV. THE COUNTRY GENTRY . . . .249 
XXXV. TESTS OF SUCCESS . . 2 55 

XXXVI. RETRIBUTION . . . .261 

XXXVII. THE DUEL ... . . 269 

XXXVIII. AN INTERLOCUTOR . . .279 

XXXIX. THE NEWSPAPER . . . . 287 

XL. THE SCHOOL-HOUSE SCHEME . . 295 

XLI. BENEFITS OF NEUTRALITY . . . 303 

XLII. THE NEW MEMBER .... 309 

XLIII. MY THIRD PROVOSTRY . . . 3 J 7 

XLIV. THE CHURCH VACANT . 3 2 7 

XLV. THE STRAMASH IN THE COUNCIL . . 333 

XLVI. THE NEW COUNCILLORS . . 343 

XLVII. THE RESIGNATION . . . 35 1 




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

From Water-colour Drawings by 

JOHN M. AIKEN 
THE PROVOST . . . . . ... . Frontispiece 

THE GRACE AT THE FUNERAL . . . page 8 

BAILIE WEEZLE ... . . . . 24 

BEGGARS . . . . . . . 40 

THE WINDY YULE . . . . . . 56 

THE MINISTER . . . . . ... 88 

THE TOWN HERD . . . . . 104 

THE DOMINIE . . . 15^ 

FLORA ..... . 2OO 

MRS PAWKIE . . 232 
THE SNUFFER . ... 280 

HIS LORDSHIP . . . 328- 



INTRODUCTION 



THE PROVOST INTRODUCTION 

DURING A RECENT VISIT TO THE WEST 
Country, among other old friends we paid our respects 
to Mrs Pawkie,the relict of the Provost of that name, 
who three several times enjoyed the honour of being 
chief magistrate in Gudetown. Since the death of her 
worthy husband, and the comfortable settlement in 
life of her youngest daughter, Miss Jenny, who was 
married last year to Mr Caption, writer to the signet, 
she has been, as she told us herself, "becking in the 
lown o' the conquest which the gudeman had, wi' sic 
an ettling o' pains and industry, gathered for his 
family." 

Our conversation naturally diverged into various 
topics, and, among others, we discoursed at large on 
the manifold improvements which had taken place, 
both in town and country, since we had visited the 
Royal Burgh. This led the widow, in acomplimentary 
way, to advert to the hand which, it is alleged, we have 
had in the editing of that most excellent work, entit- 
led," Annals of the Parish of Dalmailing," intimating, 
that she hadabookin the handwriting of her deceased 
husband, the Provost, filled with a variety of most curi- 
ous matter; in her opinion, of far more consequence 
to the world than any book that we had ever been con- 
cerned in putting out. 

Considering the veneration in which MrPawkie had 
been through life regarded by his helpmate, we must 
confess that her eulogium on the merits of his work 
3 



THE PROVOST 

did not impress us with the most pro found persuasion 
that it was really deserving of much attention. Polite- 
ness,however, obliged us to express an earnest desire 
to see the volume, which, after some little hesitation, 
was produced Judge, then, of the nature of our emo- 
tions, when,in cursorily turning over a fewof thewell- 
penned pages, we found that it far surpassed every 
thing the lady had said in its praise. Such, indeed was 
oursurprise,thatwe couldnot refrain from openly and 
at once assuring her, that the delight and satisfaction 
which it was calculated to afford, rendered it aduty on 
her part to lose no time in submitting it to the public; 
and, after lavishing a panegyric on the singular and 
excellent qualities of the author, which was all most 
delicious to his widow, we concluded with a delicate 
insinuation of the pleasure we should enjoy, in being 
made the humble instrument of introducing to the 
knowledge of mankind a volume so replete and en- 
riched with the fruits of his practical wisdom. Thus, 
partly by a judicious administration of flattery, and 
partly also by solicitation, backed by an indirect pro- 
posal to share the profits, we succeeded in persuading 
Mrs Pawkie to allow us to take the valuable manu- 
script to Edinburgh, in order to prepare it for public- 
ation. 

Having obtained possession of the volume, we lost 
no time till we had made ourselves master of its con- 
tents. It appeared to consist of a series of detached 

4 



INTRODUCTION 

notes, which, together, formed something analogous 
to an historical view of the different important and 
interesting scenes and affairs the Provost had been 
personally engaged in duringhis long magisterial life. 
We found, however, that the concatentation of the me- 
moranda which he had made of public transactions, 
was in several places interrupted by the insertion of 
matternot in the leastdegreeinterestingtothenation 
at large; and that, in arranging the work for the press, 
it would be requisite and proper to omit many of the 
notes and much of the record, in order to preserve the 
historical coherency of the narrative. But in doing this, 
the text has been retained inviolate, in so much that 
while we congratulate the world on the addition we 
are thus enabled to make to the stock of publicknow- 
ledge, we cannot but felicitate ourselves on the com- 
plete and consistent form into which we have so suc- 
cessfully reduced our precious materials; the separ- 
ation of which, from the dross of personal and private 
anecdote, was a task of no small difficulty; such, in- 
deed, as the editors only of the autographic memoirs 
of other great men can duly appreciate. 



CHAPTER ONE 
THE FORECAST 



THE PROVOST BY JOHN GALT 
CHAPTER ONE THE FORECAST 

IT MUST BE ALLOWED IN THE WORLD, 

that a man who has thrice reached the highest station 
of life in his line, has a good right to set forth the par- 
ticulars of the discretion and prudence by which he 
lifted himself so far above theordinaries of hisday and 
generation- indeed, the generality of mankind may 
claim this as a duty ; for the conduct of public men, as 
it has been often wisely said, is a species of public pro- 
perty, and their rules and observances have in all ages 
been considered things of a national concernment. I 
have therefore well weighed the importance itmaybe 
of to posterity, to know by what means I have thrice 
been made an instrument to represent the supreme 
power and authority of Majesty in the royal burgh of 
Gudetown, and how I deported myself in that honour 
and d ignity,so much to the satisfaction of my superiors 
in the state and commonwealth of the land, to say 
little of the great respect in which I was held by the 
townsfolk, and far less of the terror that I was to evil- 
doers. But not to be over circumstantial, I propose to 
confine this history of my life to the public portion 
thereof, on the which account I will take up the be- 
ginning at the crisis when I first entered into business, 
after having served more than a year above my time, 
with the late Mr Thomas Remnant, than whom there 
was not a more creditable man in the burgh; and he 
died in the possession of the functionaries and facul- 
9 



THE PROVOST 

ties of town-treasurer, much respected by all ac- 
quainted with his orderly and discreet qualities. 

Mr Remnant was, in his younger years, when the 
growth of luxury and prosperity had not come to such 
a head as it has done since, a tailor that went out to 
the houses of the adjacent lairds and country gentry, 
whereby he got an inkling of the policy of the world, 
that could not have been gathered in any other way 
by a man of his station and degree of life. In process 
of time he came to be in a settled way, and when I was 
bound 'prentice to him, he had three regular journey- 
men and a cloth shop. It was thereforenotso much for 
learning the tailoring, as to get an insight in the con- 
formity between the traffic of the shop and the board 
that I was bound to him, being destined by my parents 
for the profession appertaining to the former, and to 
conjoin thereto something of the mercery and haber- 
dashery: my uncle, that had been a sutler in the army 
along with General Wolfe, who made a conquest of 
Quebec, having left me a legacy of three hundred 
pounds because I was called after him, the which 
legacy was a consideration for to set me up in due 
season in some genteel business. 

Accordingly, as I have narrated, when I had passed 
a year over my 'prenticeship with Mr Remnant, I took 
up the corner shop at the Cross, facing the Tolbooth; 
andhavinghaditadornedinabefittingmanner,about 
a month before the summer fair thereafter, I opened 

10 



THE FORECAST 

it on that day, with an excellent assortment of goods, 
the best, both for taste and variety, that had ever been 
seen in the burghofGudetown; and the winter follow- 
ing,fmdingby my books that I was in a way to do so, 
I married my wife: she was daughter toMrsBroderip, 
who kept the head inn in Irville,and by whose death, 
in the fall of the next year, we got a nest egg,that,with- 
out a vain pretension, I may say we have not failed to 
lay upon, and clock to some purpose. 

Being thus settled in a shop and in life, I soon found 
that I had a part to perform in the public world; but 
I looked warily about me before castingmy nets, and 
therefore I laid myself out rather to be en treated than 
to ask; for I had often heard Mr Remnant observe,that 
the nature of man could not abide to see a neighbour 
taking place and preferment of his own accord. I there- 
fore assumed a coothy and obliging demeanour to- 
wards my customers and the community in general; 
and sometimes even with the very beggars I found a 
jocose saying as well received as a bawbee, although 
naturally I dinnathink I was ever what could be called 
a funny man, but only just as ye would say a thought 
ajee in that way. Howsever, I soon became, both by 
habit and repute, a man of popularity in the town, in 
so much that it was a shrewd saying of old James 
Alpha, the bookseller, that "mair gude jokes were 
cracked ilka day in James Pawkie's shop, than in 

Thomas Curl, the barber's, on a Saturday night." 
ii 



CHAPTER TWO 
A KITHING 



CHAPTER TWO A KITHING 

I COULD PLAINLY DISCERN THAT THE 
prudent conduct which I had adopted towards the 
public was gradually growing into effect. Disputative 
neighbours made me their referee, and I became, as 
it were, an oracle that was better than the law, in so 
much that I settled their controversies without the 
expense that attends the same. But what convinced 
me more than any other thing that the line I pursued 
was verging towards a satisfactory result,was, that the 
elderly folk that came into the shop to talk over the 
news of the day, and to rehearse the diverse uncos, 
both of a national and a domestic nature, used to call 
me bailie and my lord; the which jocular derision was 
as a symptom and foretaste within their spirits of 
what I was ordained to be. Thus was I encouraged, 
by little and little, together with a sharp remarking 
of the inclination and bent of men's minds, to enter- 
tain the hope and assurance of rising to the top of all 
the town, as this book maketh manifest, and the in- 
cidents thereof will certificate. 

Nothing particular, however, came to pass, till my 
wife lay in of her second bairn, our daughter Sarah; at 
the christening of whom, amongdivers friends and re- 
lation s,forbye the minister,we had my father's cousin, 
Mr Alexander Clues, that was then deacon convener, 
and a man of great potency in his way, and possess- 
ed of an influenceinthetown-council of which he was 
well worthy, being a person of good discernment, and 
15 



THE PROVOST 

well versed in matters appertaining to the guildry. Mr 
Clues,as we weremellowingover the toddy bowl, said, 
that by and by the council would be looking to me to 
fill up the first gap that might happen therein; and 
Dr Swapkirk, the then minister, who had officiated 
on the occasion, observed, that it was a thing that, in 
the course of nature, could not miss to be, for I had all 
the douce demeanour and sagacity which it behoved 
a magistrate to possess. But I cannilyreplied, though 
I was right contented to hear this, that I had no time 
for governing, and it would be more for the advantage 
of the commonwealth to look for the counselling of 
an older head than mine, happen when a vacancy 
might in the town-council. 

In this conjunctureof ourdiscoursing,MrsPawkie, 
my wife, who was sitting by the fireside in her easy 
chair, with a cod at her head, for she had what was 
called a sore time o't, said: 

"Na, na, gudeman, ye need na be sae mim; every 
body kens, and I ken too, that ye' re ettling at the 
magistracy. It's as plain as a pikestaff, gudeman, and 
I'll no let ye rest if ye dinna mak me a bailie's wife or 

a' be done" 

I was not ill pleased to hear Mrs Pawkie so spirit- 

ful; but I replied/ Dinna try to stretchyour arm,gude- 

wife, further than your sleeve will let you; we maun 

ca'cannymonyadayyet beforewe think of dignities." 

The which speech, in a way of implication, made 

16 



A KITHING 

Deacon Clues to understand that I would not absol- 
utely refuse an honour thrust upon me, while it main- 
tained an outward show of humility and moderation. 

There was, however, a gleg old carlin among the 
gossips then present, one Mrs Sprowl,the widow of a 
deceased magistrate, and she cried out aloud: 

"Deacon Clues, Deacon Clues, I redd you no to be- 
lieve a word that Mr Pawkie's saying, for that was 
the very way my friend that's no more laid himself 
out to be fleeched to tak what he was greenan for; so 
get him intill the council when ye can: we a' ken he'll 
be a credit to the place," and "so here's to the health 
of Bailie Pawkie,that is to be," cried Mrs Sprowl. All 
present pledged her in the toast, by which we had a 
wonderful share of diversion. Nothing, however, im- 
mediately rose out of this, but it set men's minds a- 
barming and working; so that, before there was any 
vacancy in the council, I was considered in a manner 
as the natural successor to the first of the counsellors 
that might happen to depart this life. 



i 

B 



CHAPTER THREE 
A DIRGIE 



CHAPTER THREE A DIRGIE 

IN THE COURSE OF THE SUMMER FOL- 
lowing the baptism, of which I have rehearsed the par- 
ticulars in the foregoing chapter, Bailie Mucklehose 
happened to die, and as he was a man long and well 
respected, he had a great funeral. All the rooms in his 
house were filled with company; and it so fell out that, 
in the confusion, there was neither minister nor elder 
to give the blessing sent into that wherein I was, by 
which, when Mr Shavings the wright, with his men, 
came in with the service of bread and wine as usual, 
there was a demur, and oneafter another of those pre- 
sent was asked to say grace; but none of them being 
exercised in public prayer, all declined, when Mr 
Shavings said to me, "Mr Pawkie, I hope ye'll no 
refuse." 

I had seen in the process, that not a few of the de- 
clinations were more out of the awkward shame of 
blateness, than any inherent modesty of nature, or 
diffidence of talent ; so, without making a phrase about 
the matter, I said the grace, and in such a manner that 
I could see it made an impression. Mr Shavings was 
at that time deacon of the wrights, and being well 
pleased with my conduct on this occasion, when he, 
the same night, met the craft, he spoke of it in a com- 
mendable manner; and as I understood thereafter, it 
wasthoughtby them that thecouncil could not dobet- 
ter than make choice of me to the vacancy. In short, 
not to spin out the thread of my narration beyond nec- 
21 



THE PROVOST 

essity, let it here suffice to be known, that I was 
chosen into the council, partly by the strong handling 
of Deacon Shavings, and the instrumentality of other 
friends and well-wishers, and not a little by the mod- 
eration and prudence with which I had been secretly 
ettling at the honour. 

Having thus reached to a seat in the council, I dis- 
cerned that it behoved me to act with circumspection, 
in order to gain a discreet dominion over the same, 
and to rule without being felt, which is the great my- 
stery of policy. With this intent, I, for some time, took 
no active part in the deliberations, but listened, with 
the doors of my understanding set wide to the wall, 
and the windows of my foresight all open; so that, in 
process of time, I became acquainted with the inner 
man of the counsellors, and could make a guess, no 
far short of the probability, as to what they would be 
at, when they were jooking and wising in a round-a- 
bout mannerto accomplish their own several wills and 
purposes. I soon thereby discovered, that although it 
was the custom to deduce reasons from out the in- 
terests of the community, for the divers means and 
measures that they wanted to bring to a bearing for 
their own particular behoof, yet this was not often 
very cleverly done,and the cloven foot of self-interest 
was nowandthentobe seenaneath the robe of public 
principle. I had,therefore,but a straightforward course 
to pursue, in order to overcome all their wiles and de- 

22 



A DIRGIE 

vices, the which was to make the interests of the com- 
munity, in truth and sincerity, the end and object of 
my study, and never to step aside from it for any im- 
mediate speciality of profit to myself. Upon this, I 
have endeavoured to walk with a constancy of sob- 
riety; and although I have, to a certainty, reaped ad- 
vantage both in my own person and that of my fam- 
ily, no man living can accuse me of having bent any 
single thing pertaining to the town and public, from 
the natural uprightness of its integrity, in order to 
serve my own private ends. 

It was, however, some time before an occasion came 
to pass, wherein I could bring my knowledge and ob- 
servations to operate in anyeffectual mannertowards 
a reformation in the management of theburghjindeed, 
I saw that no good could be done until I had subdued 
the two great factions, into which it may be said the 
council was then divided; the one party being strong 
for those of the king's government of ministers, and 
the other no less vehement on the side of their advers- 
aries. I, therefore, without saying a syllable to any 
body anent the same, girded myself for the under- 
taking, and with an earnest spirit put my shoulder to 
the wheel, and never desisted in my endeavours, till I 
had got the cart up the brae, and the whole council 
reduced into a proper state of subjection to the will 
and pleasure of his majesty, whose deputies and a- 
gents I have ever considered all inferior magistrates 
23 



THE PROVOST 

to be, ad ministering and exercising, as they do, their 
power and authority in his royal name. 

The ways and means, however, by which this \\ .is 
brought to pass, supply matter for another chapter; 
and after this, it is not my intent to say any thing 
moreconcerningmy principles and opinions, but only 
to show forth the course and current of things pro- 
ceeding out of the affairs, in which I was so called to 
form a part requiring no small endeavour 
and diligence. 







BAILIE WEEZLE 



CHAPTER FOUR 
THE GUILDRY 



CHAPTER FOUR THE GUILDRY 

WHEN, AS IS RELATED IN THE FOREGO- 

ing chapter, I had nourished my knowledge of the 
council into maturity, I began to cast about for the 
means of exercising the same towards a satisfactory 
issue. Butinthis I found a great difficulty, arising from 
the policy and conduct of Mr Andrew M'Lucre, who 
had a sort of infeftment, as may be said, of the office 
of dean of guild, having for many years been allowed 
to intromit and manage the same; by which, as was 
insinuated by his adversaries, no little grist came to 
his mill. For it had happened from a very ancient date, 
as far back, I have heard, as the time of Queen Anne, 
when the union of the kingdoms was brought to abear- 
ing, that the dean of guild among us, for some reason 
or another,had the upper hand in thesetting and grant- 
ing of tacks of the town lands, in the doing of which 
it was j ealoused that the predecessors of Mr M 'Lucre, 
notosayanill wordof him, honest man, got their loofs 
creeshed with something that might be called agras- 
sum, or rather, a gratis gift. It therefore seemed to me 
that there was a necessity for some reformation in the 
office, and I foresaw that the same would never beac- 
complished, unless I couldget Mr M'Lucre wised out 
of it, and myself appointed his successor. But in this 
lay the obstacle; for every thing anent the office was, 
as it were, in his custody, and it was well known that 
hehad an interest in keeping by that which, in vulgar 
parlance, is called nine points of the law. However, 
27 



THE PROVOST 

both for thepublic good and a convenience to myself, 
I was resolved to get a finger in the dean of guild's fat 
pie, especially as I foresaw that, in the course of three 
or four years, some of the best tacks would run out, 
and it would be a great thing to the magistrate that 
might have the disposal of the new ones. Therefore, 
withoutseeming to haveany foresightconcerningthe 
landsthatwere coming on tobe out of lease, I set my- 
self to constrain Mr M'Lucre to give up the guildry,as 
it were, of his own free-will; and what helped me well 
to this, was a rumour that came down from London, 
that there was to be a dissolution of the parliament. 

The same day that this news reached the town, I 
was standingat my shop-door, between dinner and tea- 
time. It was a fine sunny summerafternoon. Standing 
under the blessed influence of the time by myself at 
my shop-door, who should I see passing along the 
crown of the causey, but Mr M'Lucrehimself, and with 
a countenance knotted with care, little in unison with 
the sultry indolence of that sunny day. 

"Whar awa sae fast, dean o' guild?" quo' I to him; 
and he stopped his wide stepping, for he was a long 
spare man, and looting in his gait. 

"I'm just," said he, "taking a step to the provost's, 
to learn the particulars of thir great news for, as we 
aretohae thecasting vote in the next election, there's 
no saying the good it may bring to us all gin we man- 
age it wi' discretion." 

28 



THE GUILDRY 

I reflected the while of a minute before I made any 
reply, and then I said 

"Iwouldhaenaedoubt of the matter, Mr M'Lucre, 
could it be brought about to get you chosen for the 
delegate; but I fear, as ye are only dean of guild this 
year, that's no to be accomplished; and really, with- 
out the like of you, our borough, in the contest, may 
be driven to the wall." 

"Contest! "cried the dean of guild, with great eager- 
ness; "wha told you that we are to be contested?" 

Nobody had told me,norat the moment was I sens- 
ible of the force of what I said; but, seeing the effect 
it had on Mr M'Lucre, I replied 

" It does not, perhaps, just now, do forme to be more 
particular, and I hope what I have said to you will 
gang no further; but it's a great pity that ye'renoeven 
a bailie this year, far less the provost, otherwise I would 
have great confidence." 

"Then,"said the dean of guild,"you have reason to 
believe that there is to be a dissolution, and that we 
are to be contested?" 

"Mr M'Lucre, dinna speer any questions," was my 
answer,"but look at that and say nothing;"so I pulled 
out of my pocket a letter that had been franked to me 
by the earl. The letter was from James Portoport, his 
lordship's butler, who had been a waiter with Mrs 
Pawkie's mother, and he was inclosing to me a five- 
pound note to be given to an auld aunty that was in 
29 



THE PROVOST 

need. But the dean of guild knew nothing of ourcor- 
respondence,norwasit required that he should. How- 
ever, when he saw my lord's franking, he said, "Are 
the boroughs, then, really and truly to be contested?" 

"Come into the shop, Mr M'Lucre," said I sedately; 
"come in, and hear what I have to say." 

And he came in, and I shut and barred the half- 
door, in order that we might not be suddenly inter- 
rupted. 

"You are a man of experience, Mr M'Lucre," said 
I, "and have a knowledge of the world, that a young 
man, like me, would be a fool to pretend to. But I have 
shown you enough to convince you that I would not 
be worthy of a trust, were I to answer any improper 
questions. Ye maun, therefore, gie me some small 
credit for a little discretion in this matter, while I put 
a question to yourself. "Is there no a possibility of 
gettingyoumadetheprovost at Michaelmas, or, atthe 
very least, a bailie, to the end that ye might be chosen 
delegate,it beingan unusual thingfor any body under 
the degree of a bailie to be chosen thereto?" 

"I have been so long in theguildry," was his thought- 
ful reply, "that I fear it canna be very well managed 
without me." 

"Mr M'Lucre," said I, and I took him cordially by 
the hand, "athought has just entered my head. Could- 
na we manage this matter between us? It's true I'm 
but a novice in public affairs, and with the mystery of 

30 



THE GUILDRY 

the guildry quite unacquaint if, however, you could 
be persuaded to allow yourself to be made a bailie, 
I would, subject to your directions, undertake the 
office of dean of guild, and all this might be so con- 
certed between us, that nobody would ken the nature 
of our paction for, to be plain with you, it's no to be 
hoped that such a young counsellor as myself can 
reasonably expect to be raised, so soon as next Mich- 
aelmas, to the magistracy, and there is not another 
in the council that I would like to see chosen delegate 
at the election but yourself." 

MrM'Lucreswithered a littleat this, fearing to part 
with the bird he had in hand; but, in the end, he said, 
that he thought what was proposed no out of the way, 
and that he would have no objection to be a bailie for 
the next year, on condition that I would, in the follow- 
ing, let him again be dean of guild, even though he 
should be called a Michaelmas mare, for it did not so 
well suit him to be a bailie as to be dean of guild, in 
which capacity he had been long used. 

I guessed in this that he had a vista in view of the 
tacks and leases thatwerebelyvetofallin,andlsaid 

"Nothing can be more reasonable, MrM'Lucre; for 
the office of dean of guild must be a very fashious one, 
to folks like me, no skilled in its particularities; and 
I'm sure I'll be right glad and willing to give it up, 
whenwehaegotourpresentturnserved. Buttokeep 
a' things quiet between us, let us no appear till after 



THE PROVOST 

the election overly thick; indeed, for a season, we 
maun fight, as it were, under different colours." 

Thus was the seed sown of a great reformation in 
the burgh, the sprouting whereof I purposetodescribe 
in due season. 



CHAPTER FIVE 
THE FIRST CONTESTED ELECTION 



CHAPTER FIVE 

THE FIRST CONTESTED ELECTION 

THE SOUGH OF THE DISSOLUTION OF 
parliament, during the whole of the summer, grew 
stronger and stronger, and Mr M'Lucre and me were 
seemingly pulling at opposite ends of the rope. There 
was nothingthat he proposed in the council but what 
I set myself against with such bir and vigour, that 
sometimes he could scarcely keep his temper, even 
whilehe was laughinginhissleevetoseehowthe other 
members of the corporation were beglammered. At 
length Michaelmas drew near, when I, to show, as it 
were, that no ill blood had been bred on my part, not- 
withstanding our bickerings, proposed in the council 
that Mr M'Lucre should be the new bailie; and he on 
his part, to manifest, in return, that there was as little 
heart-burning on his, said "he would have no objec- 
tions; but then he insisted that I should consent to be 
dean of guild in his stead." 

"It's true," said he in the council on that occasion, 
"that Mr Pawkie is as yet but a greenhorn in the 
concerns of the burgh: however, he'll never learn 
younger, and if he'll agree to this, I'll gie him all the 
help and insight that my experience enables me to 
afford." 

At the first, I pretended that really, as was the truth, 
I had no knowledge of what were the duties of dean 
of guild ; but after some fleeching from the other coun- 
cillors, I consented to have the office, as it were, forced 

35 



THE PROVOST 

uponme;soIwasmadedeanofguild,andMrM'Lucre 
the new bailie. 

By and by, when the harvest in England was over, 
theparliamentwasdissolved,butnocandidatestarted 
on my lord's interest, as was expected by Mr M'Lucre, 
and he began to fret and be dissatisfied that he had 
ever consented to allow himself tobehood winked out 
of the guildry. However, just three days before the 
election, and at the dead hour of the night, the sound 
of chariot wheels and of horsemen was heard in our 
streets; and this was Mr Galore, the great Indian na- 
bob, that had bought the Beerland estates, and built 
the grand place that is called Lucknoo House, coming 
from London, with the influence of the crown on his 
side, to oppose the old member. He drove straight to 
Provost Picklan's house, having, as we afterwards 
found out, been in a secret correspondence with him 
through the medium of Mrs Picklan, who was conjunct 
in the business with Miss Nelly, the nabob's maiden 
sister. Mr M'Lucre was not a little confounded at this, 
for he had imagined that I was the agent on behalf of 
my lord, who was of the government side, so he wist 
not what to do, in the morning when he came to me, 
till I said to him briskly 

"Ye ken, bailie, that ye're trysted to me, and it's 
our duty to support the nabob, who is both able and 
willing, as I have good reason to think, to requite our 
services in a very grateful manner."Thiswasacordial 

36 



THE FIRST CONTESTED ELECTION 

to his spirit, and, without more ado, we both of us set 
to work to get the bailie made the delegate. In this I 
had nothing in view but the good of my country by 
pleasuring, as it was my duty, his majesty's govern- 
ment, for I was satisfied with my situation as dean of 
guild. But the handling required no small slight of 
skill. 

The first thing was, to persuade those that were on 
the side of the old member to elect Mr M'Lucre for 
delegate, he being, as we had concerted, openly de- 
clared for that interest, and the benefit to be gotten 
thereby having, by use and wont, been at an estab- 
lished and regular rate. The next thing was to get 
some of those that were with me on my lord's side, 
kept out of the way on the day of choosing the dele- 
gate; for we were the strongest, and could easily have 
returned the provost, but I had no clear notion how 
it would advantage me to make the provost delegate, 
as was proposed. I therefore, on the morning of the 
business, invited three of the council to take their 
breakfast with me, for the ostensible purpose of going 
in a body to the council chamber to choose the pro- 
vost delegate; but when we were at breakfast, John 
Snakers,mylad in the shop, by my suggestion, warily 
gotabaleof broad clothsotumbled, as it were by acci- 
dent, at the door, that it could not be opened; for it 
bent the keyinsuch a manner in the lock, and crooket 
the sneck, that without a smith there was no egress, 
37 



THE PROVOST 

and sorrow a smith was to be had. All were out and 
around the tolbooth waiting for the upshot of the 
choosingthe delegate. Those that saw me in the mean 
time, would have thought I had gone demented. I 
ramped and I stamped; I banned and I bellowed like 
desperation. My companions,noabit better,flew flut- 
tering to the windows, like wild birds to the wires of 
their cage. However, to make a long tale short, Bailie 
M'Lucrewas,bymeansofthisdevice,chosendelegate, 
seemingly against my side. But oh! he was a slee tod, 
for no sooner was he so chosen, than he began to act 
for his own behoof; and that very afternoon, while both 
partieswereholdingtheirpublic dinner, hesentround 
the bell to tell that the potato crop on his back rig was 
to be sold by way of public roup the same day. There 
wasna one in the town that had reached the years of 
discretion, but kent what na sort of potatoes he was 
going to sell; and I was so disturbed bythisopen cor- 
ruption, that I went to him, and expressed my great 
surprise. Hot wordsensued between us; and I told him 
very plainly that I would have nothing further to say 
to him or his political profligacy. However, his pota- 
toes were sold, and brought upwards of three guineas 
the peck, the nabob being the purchaser, who, toshow 
hiscontentment with the bargain,made Mrs M'Lucre, 
andthebailie'sthreedaughters,presentsofnewgowns 
and princods, that were not stuffed with wool. 
In the end, as a natural consequence, Bailie 

38 



THE FIRST CONTESTED ELECTION 

M 'Lucre, as delegate, voted for the Nabob, and the old 
member was thereby thrown out. But although the 
governmentcandidatein this manner won theday,yet 
I was so displeased by the jookerie of the bailie, and 
the selfish manner by which he had himself reaped all 
the advantage of the election in the sale of his potatoes, 
that we had no correspondence on public affairs till 
long after; so that he never had the face to ask me to 
give up the guildry,till I resigned it of my own accord 
afterthe renewal of the tacks to which I have alluded, 
by the which renewals, a great increase was effected in 
the income of the town. 




BEGGARS 



CHAPTER SIX 
THE FAILURE OF BAILIE M'LUCRE 



CHAPTER SIX 

THE FAILURE OF BAILIE M'LUCRE 

BAILIE M'LUCRE, AS I HAVE ALREADY 
intimated, was naturallyagreedybody,andnotbeing 
content with the profits of his potatoe rig, soon after 
the election he set up as an o'er-sea merchant, buying 
beef and corn by agency in Ireland, and having the 
samesent to the Glasgow market. For some time, this 
traffic yielded him a surprising advantage; but the 
summer does not endure the wholeyear round, nor was 
his prosperity ordained to be of a continuance. One 
mishap befell him after another; cargoes of his corn 
heated in the vessels, because he would not sell at a 
losing price, and so entirely perished; and merchants 
broke, that were inhis debt largesumsforhisbeef and 
provisions. I n short, in the course of the third year from 
the time of the election, he was rookit of every plack 
hehadintheworld,andwasobligatedtotakethebene- 
fit of thedivor's bill, soon after whichhewentsuddenly 
away from the town, on the pretence of going into 
Edinburgh, on some businessof legality withhis wife's 
brother, with whom hehad entered intoapleaconcern- 
ing the moiety of a steading at the town-head. But he 
did not stop on any such concern there; on the con- 
trary, he was off, and up to London in a trader from 
Leith, to try if he could get a post in the government 
by the aid of the nabob, our member; who, by all ac- 
counts, was hand and glove with the king's ministers. 
The upshot of this journey to London was very com- 
43 



THE PROVOST 

ical; and when the bailie afterwards came back, and 
him and me were again on terms of visitation, many 
a jocose night we spent overthe story of the same; for 
the bailie was a kittle hand at a bowl of toddy; and 
his adventure was so droll, especially in the way he 
was wont to rehearse the particulars, that it cannot 
fail to be an edification to posterity, to read and hear 
how it happened, and all about it. I may therefore 
take leave to digress into the circumstantials,by way 
of lightening for a time the seriousness of the sober 
and important matter, whereof it is my intent that 
this book shall be a register and record 
to future times. 



CHAPTER SEVEN 
THE BRIBE 



CHAPTER SEVEN THE BRIBE 

MR M'LUCRE, GOING TO LONDON, AS I 

have intimated in the foregoing chapter, remained 
there,absent from us altogether about the space of six 
weeks; and when he came home, he was plainly an 
altered man, beingsometimes very jocose, and atother 
times lookingabout himas if he had been haunted by 
some ill thing. Moreover, Mrs Spell, that had the post- 
officefrom thedecease of her husband, Deacon Spell, 
told among her kimmers, that surely the bailie had a 
great correspondence with the king and government, 
for that scarce a week passed without a letter from him 
to our member, or a letter from the member to him. 
This bred no small consideration among us; and I was 
som eho w a thought uneasy thereat, not knowing what 
the bailie, now that he was out of theguildry, might be 
saying anent the use and wont that had been pract- 
ised therein, and never more than in his own time. 
At length, the babe was born. 

One evening, as I was sitting at home, after closing 
the shop for the night, and conversing concerning the 
augmentation of our worldly affairs with Mrs Pawkie 
and the bairns it was a damp raw night; I mind it 
just as well as if it had been only yestreen who should 
make his appearance at the room door but the bailie 
himself, and a blithe face he had? 

"It's a' settled now," cried he, as he entered with a 
triumphantvoice; "the siller's my ain, and I can keep 
it in spite of them; I don't value them now a cutty - 

47 



THE PROVOST 

spoon; no, not a doit; no the worth of that; nora' their 
sproseaboutNewgateandthepillory;" andhesnap- 
ped his fingers with an aspect of great courage. 

"Hooly, hooly, bailie," said I; "what's a' this for?" 
and then he replied, taking his seat beside me at the 
fireside "The plea with the custom-house folk at 
London is settled, or rather, there canna be a plea at 
a', so firm and true is the laws of England on my side, 
and the liberty of the subject." 

All this was Greek and Hebrew to me; but it was 
plain that the bailie, in his jaunt, had been guilty of 
some notourthing, wherein thecustom-house wascon- 
cerned, and that hethoughtall the world was acquaint 
with the same. However, no to balk him in any com- 
municationhe might bedisposedtomakeme,! said: - 

"What ye say, bailie, is great news, and I wish you 
meikle joy, for I have had my fears about your situ- 
ation for some time; but now that the business is 
brought to such a happy end, I would like to hear all 
the true particulars of the case; and that your tale 
and tidings sha'na lack sleekening, I'll get in the tod- 
dy bowl and the gardevin; and with that, I winket to 
the mistress to take the bairns to their bed, and bade 
Jenny Hachle,that was then our fee'd servant lass, to 
gar the kettle boil. Poor Jenny has long since fallen 
into a great decay of circumstances, for she was not 
overly snod and cleanly in her service; and so, in time, 
wore out the endurance of all the houses and families 



THE BRIBE 

that fee'd her, till nobody would take her; by which 
she was in a manner cast on Mrs Pawkie's hands; 
who, on account of her kindliness towards the bairns 
in their childhood, has given her a howf among us. 
But, to go on with what I was rehearsing; the toddy 
being ordered, and all things on the table, the bailie, 
when we were quiet by ourselves, began to say 

"Ye kenweel,Mr Pawkie,what I did at the'lection 
for themember,and how angry ye were yoursel about 
it, and a' that. But ye were greatly mista'en in think- 
ing that I got ony effectual fee at the time, over and 
above the honest price of my potatoes; which ye were 
as free to bid for, had ye liket, as either o' the candid- 
ates. I'll no deny, however, that the nabob, before he 
left the town, made some small presents to my wife 
anddochter; but thatwas no fault o' mine. Howsever, 
when a' was o'er, and I could discern that ye were 
mindet to keep the guildry, I thought, after the wreck 
o' my provision concern, I might throw mair bread 
on the water and not find it, than by a bit jaunt to 
London to see how my honourable friend, the nabob, 
was coming on in his place in parliament, as I saw 
none of his speeches in the newspaper. 

"Well, ye see, Mr Pawkie, I gae'd up to London in 
a trader from Leith; and by the use of a gude Scotch 
tongue, the whilk was the main substance o' a' the 
bairns' part o' gear that I inherited from my parents, 
I found out the nabob's dwelling, in the west end o' 
49 D 



THE PROVOST 

the town of London; and find ing out the nabobs dwell- 
ing, I wen t and rappit at the door, which a bardy flunkie 
opened, and speer't what I wantit, as if I was a thing 
no fit tobe lifted off a midden witha pair of iron tongs. 
Like master, like man, thought Itomyself; and there- 
upon, taking heart no to be put out, I replied to the 
whipper-snapper Tm Bailie M'Lucre o'Gudetown, 
and maun hae a word wi' his honour.' 

"The cur lowered his birsses at this, and replied, in 
a mair ceeveleezed style of language, 'Master is not 
at home.' But I kent what not at home means in the 
morning at a gentleman's door in London; so I said, 
1 Very weel, as I hae had a long walk, I'll e'en rest my- 
self and wait till he come;' and with that, I plumpit 
down on one of the mahogany chairs in the trance. 
The lad, seeing that I was na to be jookit, upon this 
answered me, by saying, he would go and enquire if 
his master would be at home to me; and theshort and 
the long o't was, that I got at last an audience o' my 
honourable friend. 

" * Well, bailie,' said he, ' I 'm glad to see you in Lon- 
don,' and a hantle o' ither courtly glammer that's no 
worth a repetition; and, from less to mair, we proceed- 
ed to sift into the matterandend of my coming to ask 
the help o' his hand to get me a post in the govern- 
ment. But I soon saw, that wi a' the phraseology that 
lay at his tongue end during the election, about his 
power and will to serve us, his ain turn ser't, he cared 

50 



THE BRIBE 

little for me. Howsever, after tarrying some time, and 
going to him every day, at long and last he got me a 
tide-waiter'splaceatthecustom-house;apoor hungry 
situation, no worth the grassum at a new tack of the 
warst land in the town's aught. But minnows are better 
than nae fish, and a tide-waiter's place was a step to- 
wards a better, if I could have waited. Luckily, how- 
ever, for me, a flock of fleets and ships frae the East 
and West Indies came in a' thegither; and there was 
sic a stress for tide-waiters, that before I was sworn in 
and tested, I was sent down to a grand ship in the Mal- 
abar trade frae China, loaded with tea and other rich 
commodities; the captain whereof, a discreet man, 
took me down to the cabin, and gave me a dram of 
wine, and, when we were by oursels, he said to me 

"'MrM'Lucre, whatwill you take to shut youreyes 
for an hour?' 

'"I'll no take a hundred pounds,' was my answer. 

"'I'll make it guineas,' quoth he. 

"Surely, thought I, my eyne maun be worth pearls 
and diamonds to the East India Company; so I an- 
swered and said 

"' Captain, no to argol-bargol about the matter/ (for 
a'thetime,! thought upon how I had not been sworn 
in;) 'whatwill ye gie me, if I take away my eyne out 
of the vessel?' 

"' A thousand pounds,' cried he. 

'" Abargainbe't/said 1. 1 think, however, had I stood 
Si 



THE PROVOST 

out I might haegot mair. Butitdoesnarain thousands 
of pounds every day; so, to make a long tale short, I 
gotanoteofhand on theBankof England for the sum, 
and, packing up my ends and my awls, left the ship. 

"Itwas my intent to have come immediately home 
to Scotland;but the same afternoon, I was summoned 
by the Board at the Custom-house for deserting my 
post; and the moment I went before them, they opened 
upon me like my lord's pack of hounds, and said they 
would send me to Newgate. 'Cry a' at ance,' quoth I; 
'but I'll nogang.' I then told them how I wasnasworn, 
and under no obligation to serve or obey them mair 
than pleasured myseP; which set them a' again a bark- 
ing worse than before; whereupon,seeing no likelihood 
of an end to their stramash, I turned mysel' round, 
and, taking the door on my back, left them, and the 
same night came off on the Fly to Edinburgh. Since 
syne they have been trying every grip and wile o' the 
law to punish me as they threatened; but the laws of 
England are a great protection to the people against 
arbitrary power; and the letter that I have got to-day 
frae the nabob, tells me that the commissioners hae 
abandoned the plea." 

Such was the account and narration that the bailie 
gave tome of the particularso'hisjourney to London; 
and when he was done, I could not but make a moral 
reflection or two, on the policy of gentlemen putting 
themselves on the leet to be members of Parliament; 

52 



THE BRIBE 

it being a clear and plain thing, that as they are sent 
up to London for the benefit of the people by whom 
they are chosen, the people should always take care 
to get some of that benefit in hand paid down, other- 
wise they run a great risk of seeing their representa- 
tives neglecting their special interests, and treating 
them as entitled to no particular consideration. 



CHAPTER EIGHT 
ON THE CHOOSING OF A MINISTER 



CHAPTER EIGHT 

ON THE CHOOSING OF A MINISTER 

THE NEXT GREAT HANDLING THAT WE 
hadin the council after thegeneral election, wasanent 
the choice of a minister for the parish. The Rev. Dr 
Swapkirk having had an apoplexy, the magistrates 
were obligated togetMrPittletobehishelper. Wheth- 
er it was that, by our being used to Mr Pittle, we had 
ceased to have a right respect for his parts and talents, 
or that in reality he was but a weak brother, I cannot 
in conscience take it on me to say; but the certainty 
is, that when the Doctor departed this life, there was 
hardly one ofthehearerswhothought Mr Pittle would 
ever be their placed minister, and it was as far at first 
from the unanimous mind of the magistrates, who are 
the patrons of the parish, as any thing could well, be, 
forhewasamanofnosmeddum in discourse. In verity, 
as Mrs Pawkie, my wife, said, his sermons in the warm 
summer afternoons were just a perfect hushabaa,that 
no mortal could hearken to without sleeping. More- 
over, he had a sorning way with him, that the genteel- 
er sort could na abide, for he was for ever going from 
house to houseabouttea-time,to save hisain canister. 
As for the young ladies, they could na endure him at 
all, for he had aye the sough and sound of love in his 
mouth, and a round-about ceremonial of joking con- 
cerning the same, that was just a fasherie to them to 
hear. The commonality, however, were his greatest 
adversaries; forhewas,notwithstandingthespareness 
57 



THE PROVOST 

of his abilities, a prideful creature, taking no interest 
in their namely affairs, and seldom visiting the aged 
or the sick among them. Shortly, however, before the 
death of the doctor, Mr Pittle had been very attentive 
to my wife's full cousin, Miss Lizy Pinkie, I'll no say 
onaccount of the legacyof sevenhundred poundsleft 
her by an uncle that made his money in foreign parts, 
and died at Portsmouth of the liver complaint, when 
hewascominghometoenjoyhimself;andMrsPawkie 
told me, that as soon as Mr Pittle could get a kirk, I 
needna be surprised if I heard o' a marriage between 
him and Miss Lizy. 

Had I been a sordid and interested man, this news 
could never have given me the satisfaction it did, for 
Miss Lizy was very fond of my bairns, and it was 
thought that Peter would have been her heir; but so 
far from being concerned at what I heard, I rejoiced 
thereat, and resolved in secret thought, whenever a 
vacancy happened, DrSwapkirkbeingthen fast wear- 
ing away, to exert the best of my ability to get the 
kirk for Mr Pittle, not, however, unless he was previ- 
ously married to Miss Lizy; for, to speak out, she was 
beginning to stand in need of a protector, and both 
me and Mrs Pawkie had our fears that she might out- 
liveherincome,and in her old age become a cess upon 
us. And it couldna be said that this was any ground- 
less fear; for Miss Lizy, living a lonely maiden life by 
herself, with only a bit lassie to run her errands, and 

58 



ON THE CHOOSING OF A MINISTER 

nobeingnaturally of an active or eydent turn, aften we- 
aried,and tokeepup her spirits gaed maybe,nowand 
then, oftener to the gardevin than was just necessar, 
by which, as we thought, she had a tavert look. How- 
sever, as Mr Pittle had taken a notion of her, and she 
pleased his fancy,itwas far from our handtomisliken 
one that was sib to us; on the contrary, it was a duty 
laid on me by the ties of blood and relationship, to do 
all in my power to further their mutual affection into 
matrimonial fruition; and what I did towards that end, 
is the burden of this current chapter. 

Dr Swapkirk, in whom the spark of life was long 
fading, closed his eyes, and it went utterly out, as to 
this world, on a Saturday night, between the hours of 
eleven and twelve. We had that afternoon got an inkl- 
ing that he was drawing near to his end. At the latest, 
Mrs Pawkie herself went over to the manse, and stayed 
till she saw him die." It was a pleasant end," she said, 
for he was a godly, patient man; and we were both 
sorely grieved, though it was a thing for which we had 
been longprepared; and indeed, to his familyand con- 
nexions, except for the loss of the stipend, it was a 
very gentle dispensation, for hehad been long a heavy 
handful, havingbeen for years but, as it were,abreath- 
ing lump of mortality, groosy, and oozy, and doozy, 
his faculties being shut up and locked in by a dumb 
palsy. 

Having had this early intimation of the doctor's re- 
59 



THE PROVOST 

moval to abetter world, on the Sabbath morningwhen 
I went to join the magistrates in the council-chamber, 
as the usage is, to go to the laft, with the town-officers 
carrying their halberts before us, according to the an- 
cient custom of all royal burghs, my mind was in a 
degree prepared to speak to them anent the succes- 
sor. Little, however, passed at that time, and it so hap- 
pened that, by some wonder of inspiration, (there 
were, however, folk that said it was taken out of a 
book of sermons, by one Barrow an English Divine,) 
Mr Pittle that forenoon preached a discourse that 
made an impression, in so much, that on our way back 
to thecouncil-chamber I said to Provost Vintner, that 
then was 

" Really Mr Pittle seems, if he would exert himself, 
to have a nerve. I could not have thought it was in the 
power of his capacity to have given us suchasermon." 

The provost thought as I did, so I replied 

"We canna, I think,do better than keep him among 
us. It would, indeed, provost, no be doing justice to 
the young man to pass another over his head." 

I could see that the provost wasnaquitesureof what 
I had been saying; for he replied, that it was a matter 
that needed consideration. 

When weseparated at thecouncil-chamber, I threw 
myself in the way of Bailie Weezle, and walked home 
with him, our talk being on the subject of vacancy; 
and I rehearsed to him what had passed between me 

60 



ON THE CHOOSING OF A MINISTER 

and the provost, saying, that the provost had made 
no objection to prefer Mr Pittle, which was the truth. 

Bailie Weezle was a man no overladen with world- 
ly wisdom, and had been chosenintothecouncil prin- 
cipally on account of being easily managed. In his 
business, he was originally by trade a baker in Glas- 
gow, where he made a little money, and came tosettle 
among us with his wife, who was a native of the town, 
and had her relations here. Being therefore an idle 
man, living on his money, and of a soft and quiet na- 
ture, he was for the reason aforesaid chosen into the 
council, where he always voted on the provost's side; 
for in controverted questions every one is beholden 
to take a part, and he thought it was his duty to side 
with the chief magistrate. 

Having convinced the bailie that Mr Pittle had al- 
ready, as it were, a sort of infeoffment in the kirk, I 
called in the evening on my old predecessor in the 
guildry, Bailie M'Lucre, who was not a hand to be so 
easily dealt with; but I knew his inclinations, and 
therefore I resolved to go roundly to work with him. 
So I asked him out to take a walk, and I led him to- 
wards the town-moor, conversing loosely about one 
thing and another, and touching softly here and there 
on the vacancy. 

When we were well on into the middle of the moor, 
I stopped, and, looking round me, said, "Bailie, sure- 
ly it's a great neglec of the magistrates and council to 
61 



THE PROVOST 

let this braw broad piece of land, so near the town, 
lie in a state o' nature, and giving pasturage to only 
twa-three of the poor folk's cows. I wonder you, that's 
now a rich man, and with eyne worth pearls and dia- 
monds, that ye dinna think of asking a tack of this 
land; ye might make a great thing o't." 

The fish nibbled, and told me that he had for some 
time entertained a thoughton the subject; but hewas 
afraid that I would be overly extortionate. 

"I wonder to hear you, bailie," said I; "I trust and 
hope no one will ever find meout of the way of justice; 
and to convince you that I can do a friendly turn, I'll 
no objec to gie you a' my influence free gratis, if ye'll 
gie Mr Pittle a lift into the kirk; for, to be plain with 
you, the worthy young man, who, as ye heard to-day, 
is no without an ability, has long been fond of Mrs 
Pawkie's cousin, Miss Lizy Pinky; and I would fain 
do all that lies in my power to help on the match. 

The bailie was well pleased with my frankness, and 
before returning home we came to a satisfactory un- 
derstanding; so that the next thing I had to do, was 
to see Mr Pittle himself on the subject. Accordingly, 
in the gloaming, I went over to where he stayed: it 
was with Miss Jenny Killfuddy, an elderly maiden 
lady, whose father was the minister of Braehill, and the 
same that is spoken of in the chronicle of Dalmailing, 
as having had his eye almost put out by a clash of 
glaur, at the stormy placing of Mr Balwhidder. 

62 



ON THE CHOOSING OF A MINISTER 

" Mr Pittle," said I, as soon as I was in and the door 
closed. "I'm come to you as a friend; both Mrs Paw- 
kie and me have long discerned that ye have had a 
look more than common towards our friend, Miss 
Lizy, and we think it our duty to enquire your in- 
tents, before matters gang to greater length." 

He looked a littledumfoundered at this salutation, 
and was at a loss for an answer, so I continued 

" If your designs be honourable, and no doubt they 
are, now's your time; strike while the iron's hot. By 
the death of the doctor, the kirk's vacant, the town- 
council have the patronage; and, if ye marry Miss 
Lizy, my interest and influence shall not be slack in 
helping you into the poopit." In short, out of what 
passed that night,on the Monday folio wing MrPittle 
and Miss Lizy were married; and by my dexterity, 
together with the able help I had in Bailie M'Lucre, 
he was in due season placed and settled in the parish; 
and the next year more than fifty acres of the town- 
moor were inclosed on a nine hundred and ninety- 
nine years' tack at an easy rate between me and the 
bailie, he paying the half of the expense of the ditch- 
ing and rooting out of the whins; and it was acknow- 
ledged by every one that saw it, that there had not 
been a greater improvement for many years in all the 
country side. But to the best actions there will be 
adverse and discontented spirits; and, on this occas- 
ion, there were not wanting persons naturally of a 

63 



THE PROVOST 

disloyal opposition temper, who complained of the in- 
closure as a usurpation of the rights and property of 
thepoorer burghers. Such revilings,however, are what 
all persons in authority must suffer; and they had 
onlythe effect of making mebuttonmycoat,andlook 
out the crooser to the blast. 



CHAPTER NINE 
AN EXECUTION 



CHAPTER NINE AN EXECUTION 

THE ATTAINMENT OF HONOURS AND 
dignities is not enjoyed without a portion of trouble 
and care, which, like a shadow, follows all temporal- 
ities. On the very evening of the same day that I was 
first chosen to be a bailie, a sore affair came to light, 
in the discovery that Jean Gaisling had murdered her 
bastard bairn. She was thedaughterofadonsiemother 
thatcouldgienonametohergets,ofwhichshehadtwo 
laddies, besides Jean. The one of them had gone off 
with the soldiers some time before; the other, a douce 
well-behaved callan, was in my lord's servitude, as a 
stableboyatthecastle.Jeanieherselfwasthebonniest 
lassie in the whole town, but light-headed, and fond- 
er of outgait and blether in the causey than was dis- 
creet of one of her uncertain parentage. She was, at 
the time when she met with her misfortune, in the 
service of Mrs Dalrymple, a colonel's widow, that 
came out of the army and settled among us on her 
jointure. 

This Mrs Dalrymple, having been long used to the 
loose morals of camps and regiments, did not keep 
that strict hand over poor Jeanie, and her other serv- 
ing lass, that she ought to have done, and so the poor 
guileless creature fell into the snare of some of the 
ne'er-do-weel gentlemen that used to play cards at 
night with Mrs Dalrymple. The truths of the story 
were never well known, nor who was the father, for 
the tragical issue barred all enquiry; but it came out 



THE PROVOST 

that poor Jeanie was left to herself, and, being insti- 
gated by the Enemy, after she had been delivered, 
did, while the midwife's back was turned, strangle 
the baby with a napkin. She was discovered in the 
very fact, with the bairn black in the face in the bed 
beside her. 

The heinousness of the crime can by no possibility 
be lessened; but the beauty of the mother, her tender 
years, and her light-headedness, had won many fav- 
ourers; and there was a great leaning in the hearts of 
all the town to compassionate her, especially when 
they thought of the ill example that had been set to 
her in the walk and conversation of her mother. It 
was not, however, within the power of the magistra- 
tes to overlook the accusation; so we were obligated 
to cause a precognition to be taken, and the search 
left no doubt of the wilfulness of the murder. Jeanie 
was in consequence removed to the tolbooth, where 
she lay till the lords were coming to Ayr, when she 
was sent thither to stand her trial before them; but, 
from the hour she did the deed, she never spoke. 

Her trial was a short procedure, and she was cast 
to be hanged and not only to be hanged, but ordered 
to be executed in our town, and her body given to the 
doctors to make an atomy. The execution of Jeanie 
was what all expected would happen; but when the 
news reached the town of the other parts of the sen- 
tence, the wail was as the sough of a pestilence, and 

68 



AN EXECUTION 

fain would the council have got it dispensed with. 
But the Lord Advocate was just wud at the crime, 
both because there had been no previous concealment, 
so as to have been an extenuation for the shame of 
the birth, and because Jeanie would neither divulge 
the name of the father, nor make answer to all the in- 
terrogatories that were put to her standing at the 
bar like a dumbie, and looking round her, and at the 
judges, like a demented creature, and beautiful as a 
Flanders' baby. It was thought by many, that her ad- 
vocate might have made great use of her visible con- 
sternation, and pled that she was by herself; for in 
truth she had every appearance of being so. He was, 
however, a dure man, no doubt well enough versed in 
the particulars and punctualities of the law for an 
ordinary plea; but no of the right sort of knowledge 
and talent to take up the case of a forlorn lassie, mis- 
led by ill example and a winsome nature, and clothed 
in the allurement of loveliness, as the judge himself 
said to the jury. 

On the night before the day of execution, she was 
brought over in a chaise from Ayr bet ween two town- 
officers, and placed again in our hands, and still she 
never spoke. 

Nothing could exceed the compassion that every 
one had for poor Jeanie, so she wasna committed to 
a common cell, but laid in the council-room, where 
the ladies of the town made up a comfortable bed for 



THE PROVOST 

her, and some of them sat up all night and prayed for 
her; but her thoughts were gone, and she sat silent. 

In themorning, by break ofday, her wanton mother, 
that had been trolloping in Glasgow, came to the tol- 
booth door, and made a dreadful wally-waeing, and 
the ladies were obligated, for the sake of peace, to bid 
her be let in. But Jeanie noticed her not, still sitting 
with her eyes cast down, waiting the coming on of the 
hour of her doom. The wicked mother first tried to 
rouse her by weeping and distraction, and then she 
took to upbraiding; but Jeanie seemed to heed her 
not, save only once, and then she but looked at the 
misleart tinkler, and shook her head. I happened to 
come into the room at this time, and seeing all the 
charitable ladies weeping around, and the randy 
mother talking to the poor lassie as loudly and vehe- 
ment as if she had been both deaf and sullen, I com- 
manded the officers, with a voice of authority, to re- 
move the mother, by which we had for a season peace, 
till the hour came. 

Therehad not been an execution in the town in the 
memory of the oldest person then living; the last that 
suffered was one of the martyrs in the time of the per- 
secution, so that we were not skilled in the business, 
and had besides no hangman, but were necessitated 
to borrow the Ayr one. Indeed, I being the youngest 
bailie, was in terror that the obligation might have 
fallen to me. 

70 



AN EXECUTION 

A scaffold was erected at the Tron, just under the 
tolbooth windows, by Thomas Gimblet, the master- 
of-work, who had a good penny of profit by the job, 
for he contracted with the town-council, and had the 
boards after the business was done to the bargain; but 
Thomas was then deacon of the wrights, and himself 
a member of our body. 

At the hour appointed, Jeanie, dressed in white, 
was led out by the town-officers, and in the midst of 
the magistrates from among the ladies, with her hands 
tied behind her with a black riband. At the first sight 
of her at the tolbooth stairhead, a universal sob rose 
from all the multitude, and the sternest e'e couldna 
refrain fromsheddingatear.Wemarchedslowly down 
the stair, and on to the foot of the scaffold, where her 
younger brother, Willy, that was stable-boy at my 
lord's, was standing by himself, in an open ring made 
round him in the crowd; every one compassionating 
the dejected laddie, for he was a fine youth, and of an 
orderly spirit. 

As his sister came towards the foot of the ladder, 
he ran towards her, and embraced her with a wail of 
sorrow that melted every heart, and made us all stop 
in the middle of our solemnity. Jeanie looked at him, 
(for her hands were tied,) and a silent tear was seen 
to drop from her cheek. But in the course of little 
more than a minute, all was quiet, and we proceeded 
to ascend the scaffold. Willy, who had by this time 



THE PROVOST 

dried his eyes, went up with us, and when Mr Pittle 
had said the prayer, and sung the psalm, in which 
the whole multitude joined, as it were with the con- 
trition of sorrow, the hangman stepped forward to 
put on the fatal cap, but Willy took it out of his hand, 
and placed it on his sister himself, and then kneeling 
down, with his back towards her, closing his eyes and 
shutting his ears with his hands, he sawnot nor heard 
when she was launched into eternity. 

When the awful act was over, and the stir was for 
the magistrates to return, and the body to be cut 
down, poor Willy rose, and without looking round, 
went down the steps of the scaffold; the multitude 
made a lane for him to pass, and he went on through 
them hiding his face, and gaed straight out of the 
town. As for the mother, we were obligated, in the 
course of the same year, to drum her out of the town, 
for stealing thirteen choppin bottles from William 
Gallon's, the vintner's, and selling them for whisky 
to Maggie Picken, that was tried at the same time 
for the reset. 



CHAPTER TEN 
A RIOT 



CHAPTER TEN A RIOT 

NOTHING VERY MATERIAL, AFTER JEA- 
nie Gaisling's affair, happened in the town till the 
time of my first provostry, when an event arose with 
an aspect of exceeding danger to the lives and pro- 
perties of the whole town. I cannot indeed think of it 
at this day, though age has cooled me down in all 
concernsto a spirit of composure, without feeling the 
blood boil in my veins; so greatly, in the matter al- 
luded to, was the king's dignity and the rightful gov- 
ernment, by law and magistracy, insulted in my 
person. 

From time out of mind, it had been an ancient and 
commendable custom in the burgh, to have, on the 
king's birth-day, a large bowl of punch made in the 
council-chamber, in order and to the end and effect 
of drinking his majesty's health at the cross; and for 
pleasance to the commonality, the magistrates were 
wont, on the same occasion, to allow a cart of coals 
for a bonfire. I do not now, at this distance of time, 
remember the cause how it came to pass,but come to 
pass it did, that the council resolved for time coming 
to refrain from giving the coals for the bonfire; and 
it so fell out that the first administration of this eco- 
nomy was carried into effect during my provostry, 
and the wyte of it was laid at my door by the trades' 
lads, and others, that took on them the lead in hoble- 
shows at the fairs, and such like public doings. Now 
I come to the issue and particulars. 
75 



THE PROVOST 

The birth-day, in progress of time, came round, 
and the morning was ushered in with the ringing of 
bells, and the windows of the houses adorned with 
green boughs and garlands. It was a fine bright day, 
and nothing could exceed the glee and joviality of 
all faces till the afternoon, when I went up to the 
council-chamber in the tolbooth, to meet the other 
magistrates and respectable characters of the town, in 
order to drink the king's health. In going thither, I 
was joined, j ust as I was stepping out of my shop, by 
Mr Stoup,theexcisegauger,and Mr Firlot, the meal- 
monger, who had made a power of money a short 
time before, by a cargo of corn that he had brought 
from Belfast, the ports being then open, for which he 
was envied by some, and by the common sort was 
considered and reviled as a wicked hard-hearted 
forestaller. As for Mr Stoup, although he was a very 
creditable man, he had the repute of being overly 
austere in his vocation, for which he was not liked, 
over and above the dislike that the commonality 
cherish against all of his calling; so thatitwasnot pos- 
sible that any magistrate, such as I endeavoured to 
be, adverse to ill-doers, and to vice and immorality 
of every kind, could havemet at such a time and junc- 
ture^ greater misfortune than those twomen, especi- 
ally when it is considered, that the abolition of the 
bonfire was regarded as a heinous trespass on the liber- 
ties and privileges of the people. However, having left 



A RIOT 

the shop, and being joined, as I have narrated, by Mr 
Stoup and Mr Firlot, we walked together at a sedate 
pace towards the tolbooth, before which, and at the 
cross, a great assemblage of people were convened; 
trades' lads, weavers with coats out at the elbow, the 
callans of the school; in short, the utmost gathering 
and congregation of the clan-jamphry, who the mo- 
ment they saw me coming, set up a great shout and 
howl, crying like desperation, "Provost, whar's the 
bonfirePHaeyesent the coals, provost,hametoyersel, 
orselt them, provost, for meal to the forestaller?" with 
other such misleart phraseology that was most con- 
temptuous, bearing every symptom of the rebellion 
and insurrection thatthey were then meditating. But I 
kept my temper, and went into the council-chamber, 
where others of the respectable inhabitants were met 
with the magistrates and town-council assembled. 

"What's the matter, provost?" said several of them 
as I came in; "are ye ill; orwhat hasfashed you?" But 
I only replied, that the mob without was very unruly 
for being deprived of their bonfire. Upon this, some 
of those present proposed to gratify them, by order- 
ing a cart of coals, as usual; but I set my face against 
this, saying, that it would look like intimidation were 
wenow to comply,and that all veneration for lawand 
authority would be at an end by such weakness on the 
part of those entrusted with the exercise of power. 
There the debate, for a season, ended; and the punch 
77 



THE PROVOST 

being ready, the table was taken out of the council- 
chamber and carried to the cross, and placed there, 
and then the bowl and glasses the magistrates fol- 
lowing, and the rest of the company. 

Seeing us surrounded by the town-officers with 
their halberts, the multitude made way, seemingly 
with their wonted civility, and, when his majesty's 
health was drank, they shouted with us, seemingly, 
too, as loyally as ever; but that was a traitorous device 
to throw us off our guard, as, in the upshot, was mani- 
fested; for no sooner had we filled the glasses again, 
than some of the most audacious of the rioters began 
to insult us, crying, "The bonfire! the bonfire! No 
fire, no bowl! Gentle and semple should share and 
share alike." In short, there was a moving backwards 
and forwards, and a confusion among the mob, with 
snatches of huzzas and laughter, that boded great 
mischief; and some of my friends near me said to me 
no to be alarmed, which only alarmed me the more, 
as I thought they surely had heard something. How- 
ever, we drank our second glass without any actual 
molestation; but when we gave the three cheers, as the 
custom was,afterthe same,instead of beinganswered 
joyfully, the mob set up a frightful yell, and, rolling 
like the wavesof thesea,came on us with such a shock, 
that the table, and punch-bowl, and glasses, were coup- 
ed and broken. Bailie Weezle, who was standing on 
the opposite side, got his shins so ruffled by the fall- 

78 



A RIOT 

ing of the table, that he was for many a day after con- 
fined to the house with two sore legs; and it wasfeared 
he would have been a lameter for life. 

The dingingdown of thetablewas the signal of the 
rebellious ringleaders for open war. Immediately 
there was an outcry and a roaring, that was a terrifica- 
tion to hear; and I know not howitwas,but beforewe 
kent where we were,I found myself, with many of those 
who had been drinking the king's health, once more 
in the council-chamber, where it was proposed that 
we should read theriot act from the windows; and this 
awful duty, by the nature of my office as provost, it 
behoved me to perform. Nor did I shrink from it; for 
by this time my corruption was raised, and I was 
determined not to let the royal authority be set at 
nought in my hands. 

Accordingly, Mr Keelivine,the town clerk, having 
searched out amonghis law books for the riot act,one 
of the windows of the council-chamber was opened, 
and thebellman having, with a loud voice, proclaimed 
the "O yes!" three times, I stepped forward with the 
book in my hands. At the sight of me, the rioters, in 
the most audacious manner, set up a blasphemous 
laugh; but,instead offindingmedaunted thereat, they 
were surprised at my fortitude; and, when I began to 
read, they listened in silence. But this was a concert- 
ed stratagem; for themomentthat I had ended, a dead 
cat came whizzing through the air like a comet, and 
79 



THE PROVOST 

gave me such a clash in the face that I was knocked 
down to the floor, in the middle of the very council- 
chamber. What ensued is neither to be told nor de- 
scribed; some were for beating the fire-drum; others 
were for arming ourselves with what weapons were in 
the tolbooth; but I deemed it more congenial to the 
natureof the catastrophe, tosendoffanexpressto Ayr 
fortheregimentof soldiers that was quartered there 
the roar of the rioters without, being all the time like 
a raging flood. 

Major Target, however, who had seen service in 
foreign wars, was among us, and he having tried in 
vain to get us to listen to him, went out of his own 
accord to the rioters, and was received by them with 
three cheers. He then spoke to them in an exhorting 
manner, and represented to them the imprudence of 
their behaviour ; upon whi ch they gave hi m three other 
cheers, and immediately dispersed and went home. 
The major was a vain body, and took great credit to 
himself, as I heard, for this; but, considering the tem- 
per of mind the mob was at one time in, it is quite 
evidentthatitwas no so much the major's speech and 
exhortation that sent them off, as their dread and 
terror of the soldiers that I had sent for. 

All that night the magistrates, with other gentle- 
men of the town, sat in the council-chamber, and sent 
out, from time to time, to see that every thing was 
quiet; and by this judicious proceeding, of which we 

80 



A RIOT 

drew up and transmitted a full account to the king 
and government in London, by whom the whole of 
our conduct was highly applauded, peace was main- 
tained till the next day at noon, when a detachment, 
as it was called, of four companies came from the regi- 
ment in Ayr, and took upon them the preservation 
of order and regularity. I may here notice, that this 
was the first time any soldiers had been quartered in 
the town since the forty-five; and a woeful warning it 
was of the consequences that follow rebellion and 
treasonablepractices; for, to the present day, we have 
always had a portion of every regiment, sent to Ayr, 
quartered upon us. 



CHAPTER ELEVEN 
POLICY 



CHAPTER ELEVEN POLICY 

JUST ABOUT THE END OF MY FIRST 
provostry, I began to make a discovery. Whether it 
was that I was a little inordinately lifted up by reason 
of the dignity ,and did not comport myself with a suffi- 
cientcondescension and conciliation of manner to the 
rest of the town-council, it would be hard to say. I 
could, however, discern that a general ceremonious 
insincerity was performed by the members towards 
me,especially on the part of those who were in league 
and conjunct with the town-clerk, who comported 
himself, by reason of his knowledge of the law, as if 
hewasin veritythe trueand effectual chief magistrate 
of the burgh; and the effect of this discovery, was a 
consideration and digesting within me how I should 
demean myself, so as to regain the vantage I had lost; 
taking little heed as tohowthelosshad come, whether 
from an ill-judged pride and pretending in myself, 
.or from the natural spirit of envy, that darkens the 
good-will of all mankind towards those who get sud- 
den promotion, as it was commonly thought I had 
obtained, in being so soon exalted to the provostry. 
Before the Michaelmas I was, in consequence of 
this deliberation and counselling with my own mind, 
fully prepared to achieve a great stroke of policy for 
the future government of the town. I saw that it would 
not do for me for a time to stand overly eminent for- 
ward, and that it was a better thing, in the world, to 
have power and influence, than to show the posses- 

85 



THE PROVOST 

sion of either. Accordingly, after casting about from 
one thing to another, I bethought with myself, that 
it would be a great advantage if the council could be 
worked with, so as to nominate and appoint My Lord 
the next provost after me. In the proposing of this, I 
could see there would be no difficulty; but the hazard 
was, that his lordship might only be made a tool of 
instrumentality to our shrewd and sly town-clerk, 
Mr Keelivine, while it was of great importance that 
I should keep the management of mylord in my own 
hands. In this strait, however, a thing came to pass, 
which strongly confirms me in the opinion, that good- 
luck has really a great deal to say with the prosperity 
of men. The earl, who had not for years been in the 
country, came down in the summer from London, and 
I, together with the other magistrates and council, 
received an invitation to dine with him at the castle. 
We all of course went, "with our best breeding," as 
the old proverb says, "helped by our brawest deed- 
ing;" but I soon saw that it was only z. pro forma din- 
ner, and that there was nothing of cordiality in all 
the civility with which we were treated, both by my 
lord and my lady. Nor, indeed, could I, on an after- 
thought, blame our noble entertainers for being so on 
their guard; for in truth some of the deacons, (I'll no 
say any of thebailies,)wereso transported out ofthem- 
selves with the glory of my lord's banquet, and the 
thought of dining at the castle, and at the first table 

86 



POLICY 

too, that when the wine began to fiz in their noddles, 
they forgot themselves entirely, and made no more 
of the earl than if he had been one of themselves. See- 
ingtowhatissue the matterwas tending, I set a guard 
upon myself; and while my lord, out of a parly-voo 
politess, was egging them on, one after another, to 
drink deeper and deeperof his old wines, to the mani- 
fest detriment of their own senses, I kept myself in a 
degree as sober as a judge, warily noting all things 
that came to pass. 

The earl had really a commendable share of com- 
mon sensefor a lord, and the discretion of my conduct 
was not unnoticed by him; in so much, that after the 
major partofthe council had become, asit may be said, 
out o' the body, cracking their jokes with one another, 
just as if all present had been carousing at the Cross- 
Keys, his lordship wised to me to come and sit beside 
him, where we had a very private and satisfactory con- 
versation together; in the which conversation, I said, 
that it was a pity he would not allow himself to be no- 
minated our provost. Nobody had everminted to him 
a thought of the thing before; so it was no wonder that 
his lordship replied, with a look of surprise, saying, 
"That so far from refusing, he had never heard of any 
such proposal." 

"That is very extraordinary, my lord," said I; "for 
surely it is foryour in terests,and would to a certainty 
be a great advantage to the town, were your lordship 



THE PROVOST 

to take upon you the nominal office of provost; I say 
nominal,mylord,becausebeingnowusedtotheduties, 
and somewhat experienced therein, I could take all 
the necessary part of the trouble off your lordship's 
hands, and so render the provostry in your lordship's 
name a perfect nonentity." Whereupon,he was pleased 
tosay,if I would do so,andhecommendedmy talents 
and prudence, he would have no objection to be made 
the provost at the ensuing election. Something more 
explicit might have ensued at that time; but Bailie 
M'Lucre and Mr Sharpset, who was the dean of guild, 
had been for about the space of half an hour carrying 
on a vehement argument anent some concern of the 
guildry, in which, coming to high words, and both be- 
ing beguiled and ripened into folly by the earl's wine, 
they came into such a manifest quarrel, that Mr Sharp- 
set pulled off the bailie's best wig, and flung it with a 
damn into the fire: the which stramash causedmylord 
to end the sederunt; but none of the magistrates, save 
myself, was in a condition to go with his lordship to 
My Lady in the drawing-room. 




THE MINISTER 



CHAPTER TWELVE 
THE SPY 



CHAPTER TWELVE THE SPY 

SOON AFTER THE FOREGOING TRAN- 

saction, a thing happened that, in a manner, I would 
fain conceal and suppress from the knowledgeof future 
times, although it was butasort of sprose to make the 
world laugh. Fortunately for my character, however, 
it did not fall outexactly in my hands, although it hap- 
pened in thecourseofmyprovostry.Thematter spok- 
en of, was the affair of a Frenchman who was taken 
up as a spy; for the American war was then raging, 
and the French had taken the part of the Yankee 
rebels. 

One day,in themonth of August it was, I had gone 
on some private concernment of my own to Kilmar- 
nock, and Mr Booble, who was then oldest Bailie, na- 
turally officiated as chief magistrate in my stead. 

There have been, as the world knows, a disposition 
on thepart of the grand monarqueof that time, to in- 
vade and conquer this country, the which made it a 
duty incumbent on all magistrates to keep a vigilant 
eye on the in-comings and out-goings of aliens and 
other suspectable persons. On the said day, and dur- 
ing my absence, a Frenchman, that could speak no 
manner of English, somehow was discovered in the 
Cross-Key inns. What he was, or where he camefrom, 
nobody at the time could tell, as I was informed; but 
there he was, having come into the house at the door, 
with a bundle in his hand, and a portmanty on his 
shoulder, like a traveller out of some vehicle of con- 



THE PROVOST 

veyance.MrsD rammer, the landlady, did not like his 
looks; for he had toozy black whiskers, was lank and 
wan, and moreover deformed beyond human nature, 
as she said, with a parrot nose, and had no cravat, but 
only a bit black riband drawn through two button- 
holes, fastening his ill-coloured sark neck, which gave 
him altogether something of an unwholesome, out- 
landish appearance. 

Findinghewas aforeigner, and understanding that 
strict injunctions were laid on the magistrates by the 
kingand government anentthe egressingof such per- 
sons, she thought, for the credit of her house, and the 
safety of the community at large, that it behoved her 
to send word to me, then provost, of this man's visib- 
ility among us; but as I was not at home, Mrs Pawkie, 
my wife, directed the messenger to Bailie Booble's. 
The bailie was, at all times, overly ready to claught at 
an alarm ; and when he heard the news, he went straight 
to the council-room, and sending for the rest of the 
council, ordered the alien enemy, as he called the for- 
lorn Frenchman, to be brought before him. By this 
time, the suspicion of a spyin thetown had spread far 
and wide; and Mrs Pawkie told me, that there was a 
palid consternation in every countenance when the 
black and yellow man for he had not the looks of 
the honest folks of this country was brought up the 
street between two of the town-officers, to stand an ex- 
amine before Bailie Booble. 

92 



THE SPY 

Neither the bailie, nor those that were then sitting 
with him, could speak any French language, and "the 
alien enemy "was as littlemasterof ourtongue. I have 
often wondered how the bailie did not jealousethathe 
could be no spy, seeinghow, in that respect, he wanted 
themainfaculty.Buthe was under theenchantment of 
a panic, partly thinking also, perhaps, that he was to 
do a great exploit for the government in my absence. 

However, the man was brought before him, and 
there was he, and them all, speaking loud out to one 
another as if they had been hard of hearing, when I, 
on my coming home from Kilmarnock, went to see 
what was going on in the council. Considering that 
the procedure had been in handsome time before my 
arrival,! thought it judicious to leave the whole busi- 
ness with those present, and to sit still as a spectator; 
and really it was very comical to observe how the bailie 
was driven to hiswit's-endbythepoor lean and yellow 
Frenchman,andinwhat a pucker of passion the pannel 
put himself at every new interlocutor, none of which 
he could understand. At last, the bailie getting no 
satisfaction how could he? he directed the man's 
portmantyandbundletobeopened;andinthebottom 
of the forementioned package, there, to be sure, was 
found many a mystical and suspicious paper, which 
no one could read; among others, there was a strange 
map, as it then seemed to all present. 

"F gude faith," cried the bailie, witha keckle of ex- 
93 



THE PROVOST 

ultation, "here's proof enough now. This is a plain 
map o' the Frith o' Clyde, all the way to the tail of the 
bank o' Greenock. This muckle place is Arran; that 
round ane is the craig of Ailsa; the wee ane between 
is Plada. Gentlemen, gentlemen, this is a sore discov- 
ery; there will be hanging and quartering on this." So 
he ordered the man to be forthwith committed as a 
king's prisoner to the tolbooth; and turning to me, 
said: "My lord provost, as ye have not been present 
throughout the whole of this troublesome affair, I'll 
e'en gie an account my sel to the lord advocate of what 
we have done." I thought, at the time, there was some- 
thing fey and overly forward in this, but I assented; 
for I know not what it was, that seemed to me as if 
there was somethingneitherrightnorregular; indeed, 
to say the truth, I was no ill pleased that the bailie 
took on him what he did; so I allowed him to write 
himself to thelord advocate; and,as the sequel show- 
ed,it was ablessed prudence on my part that I did so, 
For no sooner did his lordship receive the bailie's ter- 
rifying letter, than a special king's messenger was sent 
to take the spy into Edinburgh Castle; and nothing 
could surpass the great importance that Bailie Booble 
made of himself, on the occasion, on getting the man 
into a coach, and two dragoons to guard him into 
Glasgow. 

But oh! what a dejected man was the miserable 
Bailie Booble, and what a laugh rose from shop and 

94 



THE SPY 

chamber, when the tidings came out from Edinburgh 
that"thealienenemy"was but aFrenchcook coming 
overfrom Dublin, with the intent to take up the trade 
of a confectioner in Glasgow, and that the map of the 
Clyde was nothingbut a plan for the outset of a fash- 
ionable table the bailie's island of Arran being the 
roast beef, and the craig of Ailsa the plum-pudding, 
and Plada a butter-boat. Nobody enj oy ed the j ocular- 
ity of the business more than myself; but I trembled 
when I thought of the escape that my honour and 
character had with the lord advocate. I trow, Bailie 
Booble never set himself so forward from that day to 
this. 



CHAPTER THIRTEEN 
THE MEAL MOB 



CHAPTER XIII THE MEAL MOB 

AFTER THE CLOSE OF THE AMERICAN 
war, I had, for various reasons of a private nature, a 
wish to sequestrate myself for a time, from any very 
ostensible part in public affairs. Still, however, desir- 
ing to retain a mean of resuming my station, and of 
maintaining my influence in the council, I bespoke 
Mr Keg to act in my place as deputy for My Lord, who 
was regularly every year at this time chosen into the 
provostry. 

This Mr Keg was a man who had made a compet- 
ency by the Isle-of-Man trade, and had come in from 
the laighlands, where he had been apparently in the 
farming line, to live among us; but for many a day, 
on account of something that happened when he was 
concerned in the smuggling, he kept himself cannily 
aloof from all sort of town mattersjdeporting himself 
with a most creditable sobriety ;in so much, that there 
was at one time a sough that Mr Pittle, the minister, 
our friend, had put him on the leet for an elder. That 
post, however, if it was offered to him, he certainly 
never accepted; but I jealouse that he took the rum- 
our o't for a sign that his character had ripened into 
an estimation among us, for he thenceforth began to 
kithe more in public, and was just a patron to every 
manifestation of loyalty, putting more lights in his 
windows in the rejoicing nights of victory than any 
other body, Mr M'Creesh, the candlemaker, and Col- 
lector Cocket, not excepted. Thus, in the fulness of 
99 



THE PROVOST 

time,hewas taken into the coimcil,and no man in the 
whole corporation could be said to be more zealous 
thanhe was. In respect, therefore, tohim, I had nothing 
to fear, so far as the interests, and, over and above all, 
the loyalty of the corporation, were concerned; but 
something like a quailing came over my heart, when, 
after the breakingupof the council on the day of elec- 
tion, he seemed to shy away from me, who had been 
instrumental to his advancement. However, I trow he 
had soon reason to repent of that ingratitude, as I may 
well call it; for when the troubles of the meal mob came 
upon him, I showed him that I could keep my distance 
as well as my neighbours. 

It was on the Friday, our market-day, that the hoble- 
show began, and in the afternoon, when the farmers 
who had brought in theirvictual forsalewere loading 
their carts to take it home again, the price not having 
come up to their expectation. All the forenoon, as the 
wives that went to the meal-market, came back rail- 
ing with toom pocks and basins, it might have been 
foretold that the farmers would have to abate their 
extortion, or that something would come o't before 
night.Mynewhouseandshopbeingforenentthemar- 
ket, I had noted this, and said to Mrs Pawkie, my 
wife, what I thought would be the upshot, especially 
when, towards the afternoon, I observed the com- 
monality gathering in the market-place, and no spar- 
ing in their tongues to the farmers; so, upon her 

100 



THE MEAL MOB 

advice, I directed Thomas Snakers to put on the 
shutters. 

Some of the farmers were loading their carts to go 
home, when the schools skailed, and all the weans 
came shouting to the market. Still nothing happen- 
ed, till tinkler Jean, a randy that had been with the 
army at the siege of Gibraltar, and, for aught I ken, 
in the Americas, if no in the Indies likewise; she 
came with her meal-basin in her hand, swearing, like 
a trooper, that if she didna get it filled with meal at 
fifteen-pence a peck, (the farmers demanded sixteen), 
she would have the fu' o't of their heart's blood; and 
the mob of thoughtless weans and idle fellows, with 
shouts and yells, encouraged Jean, and egged her on 
to a catastrophe. The corruption of the farmers was 
thus raised, and a young rash lad, the son of James 
Dyke o' the Mount, whom Jean was blackguarding 
at a dreadful rate, and upbraiding onaccountof some 
ploy he had had with the Dalmailing session anent 
a bairn, in an unguarded moment lifted hishand,and 
shook his neive in Jean's face, arid even, as she said, 
struckher. He himself swore an affidavit thathe gave 
her only a ding out of his way; but be this as it may, 
at him rushed Jean with open mouth, and broke her 
timber meal-basin on his head, as it had been an egg- 
shell. Heaven only knows what next ensued; but in 
a jiffy the whole market-place was as white with scat- 
tered meal as if it had been covered with snow, and 
101 



THE PROVOST 

the farmers were seen flying helter skelter out at the 
townhead, pursued by the mob, in a hail and whirl- 
wind of stones and glaur.Then the drums were heard 
beating to arms, and the soldiers were seen flying to 
their rendezvous. I stood composedly at the dining- 
room window, and was very thankful that I wasna 
provost in such a hurricane,when I sawpoor Mr Keg, 
aspaleas a dishclout,running to and fro bareheaded, 
with the town-officers and their halberts at his heels, 
exhorting and crying till he was as hoarse as a crow, 
to the angry multitude, that was raging and tossing 
like a sea in the market-place. Then it was that he 
felt the consequence of his pridefulness towards me; 
for, observing me standing in serenity at the window, 
he came, and in a vehement manner cried to me for 
theloveofheaventocometo his assistance, andpacify 
the people. It would not have been proper in me to 
have refused; so out I went in the very nick of time: 
for when I got to the door, there was the soldiers in 
battle array, coming marching with fife and drum up 
the gait with Major Blaze at their head, red and furi- 
ous in the face, and bent on some bloody business. 
The first thing I did was to run to the major, just as 
he was facing the men for a"charge bagonets"onthe 
people, crying to him to halt; for the riot act wasna 
yet read, and the murder of all that might be slain 
would lie at his door; at which to hear he stood aghast, 
and the men halted. Then I flew back to the provost, 

102 



THE MEAL MOB 

and I cried to him, "Read the riot act!" which some 
of the mob hearing, became terrified thereat, none 
knowing the penalties or consequences thereof, when 
backed by soldiers; and in a moment, as if they had 
seen the glimpse of a terrible spirit in the air, the 
whole multitude dropped the dirt and stones out of 
their hands, and, turning their backs, flew into doors 
and closes, and were skailed before we knew where 
we were. It is not to be told the laud and admiration 
that I got for my ability in this business; for the ma- 
jor was so well pleased to have been saved from a 
battle, that, at my suggestion, he wrote an account 
of the whole business to the commander-in-chief, as- 
suring him that, but for me, and my great weight and 
authority in the town, nobody could tell what the 
issue might have been; so that the Lord Advocate, 
to whom the report was shown by the general, wrote 
me a letter of thanks in the name of the government; 
and I, although not provost, was thus seen and be- 
lieved to be a person of the foremost note and con- 
sideration in the town. 

But although the mob was dispersed, as I have re- 
lated, the consequences did not end there; for, the 
week following, none of the farmers brought in their 
victual; and therewas a greatlamentationand moan- 
ing in the market-place when, on the Friday, not a 
single cart from the country was to be seen, but only 
Simon Laidlaw's, with his timber caps and luggies; 
103 



THE PROVOST 

and the talk was, that meahvouldbehalf-a-crown the 
peck. The grief, however, of the business wasna visi- 
ble till the Saturday the wonted day for the poor 
to seek their meat when the swarm of beggars that 
came forth was a sight truly calamitous. Many a de- 
cent auld woman that had patiently eiked out the 
slender thread of a weary life with her wheel, in priv- 
acy,herscant and want known only to her Maker, was 
seen going from door to door with the salt tear in her 
e'e, and looking in the face of the pitiful, being as yet 
unacquainted with the language of beggary; but the 
worst sight of all was two bonny bairns, dressed in 
their best, of a genteel demeanour, going from house 
to house like the hungry babes in the wood: nobody 
kent who they were, nor whar they came from; but as 
I was seeing them served myself at our door, I spoke 
to them,and they told me that their mother was lying 
sickand ill athome. They were theorphansof a broken 
merchant from Glasgow, and, with their mother, had 
come out to our town the week before, without know- 
ing where else to seek their meat. 

Mrs Pawkie,who was a tender-hearted mother her- 
self, took in the bairns on hearing this, and we made 
of them, and thesame night, amongour acquaintance, 
we got a small sum raised to assist their mother, who 
proved a very well-bred and respectable lady -like 
creature. When she got better, she was persuaded to 
take up a school, which she kept for some years, with 

104 










W 

% 








THE MEAL MOB 

credit to herself and benefittothecommunity,tillshe 
got a legacy left her by a brother that died in India, 
the which, being some thousands, caused her to re- 
move into Edinburgh, for the better education of her 
own children; and its seldom that legacies are so well 
bestowed, for she never forgot Mrs Pawkie's kindness, 
and out of the fore-end of her wealth she sent her a 
very handsome present. Divers matters of elegance 
havecome to us from her, year by year, since syne, and 
regularly on the anniversary day of that sore Satur- 
day,astheSaturday following the meal mob 
was ever after called. 



CHAPTER FOURTEEN 
THE SECOND PROVOSTRY 



XIV THE SECOND PROVOSTRY 

I HAVE HAD OCCASION TO OBSERVE IN 

the course of my experience, thatthereisnotagreater 
mollifierof the temper and nature of man than a con- 
stant flowing in of success and prosperity. From the 
time that I had been dean of guild, I was sensible of 
a considerable increase of my worldly means and sub- 
stance; and although Bailie M'Lucre played me a 
soople trick at the election, by the inordinate sale and 
roup of his potatoe-rig, the which tried me, as I do con- 
fess, and nettled me with disappointment; yet things, 
in other respects, went so well with me that, about the 
eighty-eight,! began to put forth my hand again in to 
public affairs, endowed both with more vigour and 
activity than it was in the first period of my magisterial 
functions. Indeed,itmaybe here proper formetonar- 
rate,that my retiring into the background during the 
last two or three years, was a thing, as I have said, 
done on mature deliberation; partly, in order that the 
weight of my talents might be rightly estimated; and 
partly, that men might, of their own reflections,come 
to a properunderstanding concerningthem. I did not 
secede from the council. Could I have done thatwith 
propriety, I would assuredly not have scrupled to 
make the sacrifice; but I knew well that,if I was to re- 
sign, it would not be easy afterwards to get myself 
again chosen in. In a word, I was persuaded that I had, 
at times, carried things a little too highly, and that I 
had the adversary of a rebellious feeling in the minds 
109 



THE PROVOST 

and hearts of the corporation against me. However, 
what I did, answered the end and purpose I had in 
view; folk began to wonder and think with themselves, 
what for Mr Pawkie had ceased to bestir himself in 
public affairs; and the magistrates and council having, 
on two or three occasions, done very unsatisfactory 
things, it was said by one, and echoed by another, till 
the whole town was persuaded of the fact, that, had I 
lent my shoulder to the wheel, things would not have 
been as they were. But the matter which did the most 
service to me at this time, was a rank piece of idolatry 
towards my lord, on the part of Bailie M'Lucre, who 
had again got himself most sickerly installed in the 
guildry. Sundry tacks came to an end in this year of 
eighty-eight; and among others, the Niggerbrae park, 
which, lyingatacommodiousdistancefrom the town, 
might have been relet with a rise and advantage. But 
what did the dean of guild do? He, in somesecret and 
clandestine manner,gave a hint to my lord's factor to 
make an offer for the park on a two nineteen years' 
lease, at the rent then going the which was done in 
my lord's name,his lordship being then provost. The 
Niggerbrae was accordingly let to him, at the same 
rent which the town received for it in the sixty-nine. 
Nothing could be more manifest than that there was 
some jookeriecookerie in thisaffair; butinwhat man- 
ner it was done, or howthe dean of guild's benefit was 
to ensue, no one could tell, and few were able to con- 
no 



THE SECOND PROVOSTRY 

jecture; for my lord was sorely straitened for money, 
and had nothing to spare out of hand. However, to- 
wards the end of the year, a light broke in upon us. 

Gabriel M'Lucre, the dean of guild's fifth son, a fine 
spirited laddie, somehow got suddenly a cadetcy to 
go to India; and there were uncharitably-minded 
persons, who said, that this was the payment for the 
Niggerbrae job to my lord. The outcry, in conse- 
quence, both against the dean of guild,and especially 
against the magistrates and council for consenting 
thereto, was so extraordinary, and I was so openly 
upbraided for being so long lukewarm, that I was, in 
a manner, forced again forward to take a prominent 
part; but I took good care to letitbe well known, that, 
in resuming my public faculties, I was resolved to take 
my own way, and to introduce a new method and re- 
formation into all our concerns. Accordingly, at the 
Michaelmas following, that is, in the eighty-nine, I 
was a second time chosen to the provostry, with an 
understanding, that I was to be upheld in the office 
and dignity for two years; and that sundry improve- 
ments, which I thought the town was susceptible of, 
both in the causey of the streets and the reparation 
of the kirk, should be set about under my direction; 
but the way in which I handled thesame, and brought 
them to a satisfactory completeness and perfection, 

will supply abundant matter for two chapters. 



CHAPTER FIFTEEN 

ON THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE 
STREETS 



ii 



CHAPTER FIFTEEN ON THE 

IMPROVEMENT OF THE STREETS 

IN ANCIENT TIMES, GUDETOWN HAD 

been fortified with ports and gates at the end of the 
streets; and in troublesome occasions, the country 
people, as the traditions relate, were in the practice 
of driving in their families and cattle for shelter. This 
gave occasion to that great width in our streets, and 
those of other royal burghs, which is so remarkable; 
the same being so built to give room and stance for 
the cattle. But in those days the streets were not paved 
at the sides, but only in the middle, or, as it was called, 
the crown of the causey; which was raised and backed 
upward, to let the rain-water run off into the gutters. 
In progress of time, however, as the land and king- 
dom gradually settled down into an orderly state, the 
farmers and country folk having no cause to drive in 
their herds and flocks, as in the primitive ages of a 
rampageous antiquity, the proprietors of houses in 
the town, at their own cost, began, one after another, 
to pave the spaces of ground between their steadings 
and the crown of the causey; the which spaces were 
called lones, and the lones being considered as pri- 
vate property, the corporation had only regard to the 
middle portion of the street that which I have said 
was named the crown of the causey. 

The effect of this separation of interests in a com- 
mon good began to manifest itself, when the pave- 
ment of the crown of the causey, by neglect, became 



THE PROVOST 

rough and dangerous to loaded carts and gentlemen's 
carriages passing through the town; in so much that, 
for some time prior to my second provostry,the carts 
and carriages made no hesitation of going over the 
lones, instead of keeping the highway in the middle 
of the street; at which many of the burgesses made 
loud and just complaints. 

One dark night, the very first Sunday after my res- 
toration to the provostry, there was like to have hap- 
pened a very sore thing by an old woman, one Peggy 
Waife, who had been out with her gown-tail over her 
head for a choppin of strong ale. As she was coming 
home, with her ale in a greybeard in her hand, a chaise 
in full bir came upon her and knocked her down, and 
broke the greybeard and spilt the liquor. The cry was 
terrible; somethoughtpoor Peggy was killed outright, 
and wives, with candles in their hands, started out at 
the doors and windows. Peggy, however, was more ter- 
rified than damaged; but the gentry that were in the 
chaise,beingtermagant English travellers, swore like 
dragoons that thestreetsshouldbeindicted as a nuis- 
ance; and when they put up at the inns, two of them 
came to me, as provost, to remonstrate on the shame- 
ful condition of the pavement, and to lodge in my 
hands the sum often pounds for the behoof of Peggy; 
the which was greater riches than ever the poor crea- 
ture thought to attain in this world. Seeing they were 
gentlemen of a right quality, I did what I could to 

116 



IMPROVEMENT OF THE STREETS 

pacify them, by joining in every thing they said in 
condemnation of the streets; tellingthem, at thesame 
time, that the improvement of the causey was to be 
the very first object and care of my provostry. And 
I bade Mrs Pawkie bring in the wine decanters, and 
requested them to sit down with me and take a glass 
of wine and a sugar biscuit; the civility of which, on 
my part, soon brought them into a peaceable way of 
thinking, and they went away, highly commending 
my politess and hospitality, of which they spoke in 
the warmest terms, to their companion when they re- 
turned to the inns, as the waiter who attended them 
overheard, and told the landlord, who informed me 
and others of the same in the morning. So that on the 
Saturdayfollowing,when thetown-council met, there 
was no difficulty in getting a minute entered at the 
sederunt,that thecrownof thecauseyshould beforth- 
with put in a state of reparation. 

Having thus gotten the thing determined upon, I 
then proposed that we should have the work done by 
contract, and that notice should be given publicly of 
such being our intent. Some boggling was made to 
this proposal, it never having been the use and wont 
of the corporation, in time past, to do any thing by 
contract, but just to put whatever was required into 
the hands of one of thecouncil, who got the work done 
in the best way he could; by which loose manner of 
administration great abuses were often allowed to 
117 



THE PROVOST 

pass unreproved. But I persisted in my resolution to 
have the causey renewed by contract; and all the in- 
habitants of the town gave me credit for introducing 
such a great reformation into the management of 
public affairs. 

When it was made known that we would receive 
offers to contract, divers persons came forward; and 
I was a little at a loss, when I saw such competition, 
as to which ought to be preferred. At last, I bethought 
me, to send for the dffferent competitors, and converse 
with them on the subject quietly; and I found in 
Thomas Shovel, the tacksman of Whinstone-quarry, 
a discreet and considerate man. His offer was, it is 
true,not so low as someof the others; but he had facili- 
tiestodo the work quickly, that none of the rest could 
pretend to; so, upon a clear understanding of that, 
with the helpofthedean of guild M'Lucre's advocacy, 
Thomas Shovel got the contract. At first, I could not 
divine what interest my old friend, the dean of guild, 
had to be so earnest in behalf of the offering contrac- 
tor; in course of time, however, it spunkit out that he 
was a sleeping partner in the business, by which he 
made a power of profit. But saving two three carts of 
stones to big a dyke round the new steading which I 
had bought a short time before at the town-end, I had 
no benefit whatever. Indeed, I may take it upon me to 
say, that should not say it, few provosts, in so great 
a concern, could have acted more on a principle than 

118 



IMPROVEMENT OF THE STREETS 

I did in this; and if Thomas Shovel, of his free-will, 
did, at the instigation of the dean of guild, lay down 
the stones on my ground as aforesaid, the town was 
not wronged; for, no doubt, he paid me the compli- 
ment at some expense of his own profit. 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN 
ABOUT THE REPAIR OF THE KIRK 



CHAPTER SIXTEEN 

ABOUT THE REPAIR OF THE KIRK 

THEREPAIROFTHEKIRK,THENEXTJOB 
I took in hand, was not so easily managed as that of 
the causey; for it seems, in former times, the whole 
space of the area had been free to the parish in general, 
and that the lofts were constructions, raised at the 
special expense of the heritors for themselves. The 
fronts being for their families, and the back seats for 
their servants and tenants. In those times there were 
no such things as pews; but only forms, removeable, 
as I have heard say, at pleasure. 

It, however, happened, in the course of nature, that 
certain forms came to be sabbathly frequented by the 
same persons; who, in this manner, acquired a sort of 
prescriptive right to them. And those persons or fami- 
lies, one after another, findingit would be an ease and 
convenience to them during divine worship, put up 
backs to their forms. But still, for many a year, there 
was no inclosure of pews; the first, indeed, that made 
a pew, as I have been told, was one Archibald Rafter, 
a wright,and the grandfather of Mr Rafter, the archi- 
tect, who has had so much to do with the edification 
of the new town of Edinburgh. This Archibald's form 
happened to be near the door, on the left side of the 
pulpit; and in the winter, when the wind was in the 
north, it was a very cold seat, which induced him to 
inclose it round and round, with certain old doors and 
shutters, which he had acquired in taking down and 
123 



THE PROVOST 

rebuildingthe leftwing of the Whinnyhill house. The 
comfort in which this enabled him and his family to 
listen to the worship, had an immediate effect; and 
the example being of a takingnature,in the course of 
littlemore than twentyyears from the time,thewhole 
area of the kirk had been pewed in a very creditable 
manner. 

Families thus getting, as it were, portions of the 
church, some, when removing from the town, gave 
them up to their neighbours on receiving a considera- 
tion for the expense they had been at in making the 
pews; so that, from less to more, the pews so formed 
became a lettable and a vendible property. It was, 
therefore, thought a hard thing, that in the reparation 
which the seats had come to require in my time, the 
heritors and corporation should be obligated to pay 
the cost and expense of what was so clearly the pro- 
perty of others; while it seemed an impossibility to get 
the whole tot of the proprietors of the pews to bear 
the expense of new-seating the kirk. We had in the 
council many a long and weigh tysederunt on the sub- 
ject, without coming to any practical conclusion. At 
last, I thought the best way, as the kirk was really be- 
come a disgrace to the town, would be, for the cor- 
poration to undertake the repair entirely, upon an 
understanding that we were to be paideighteenpence 
a bottom-room,/^ annum^ by the proprietors of the 
pews; and, on sounding the heritors, I found them all 

124 



THE REPAIR OF THE KIRK 

most willing to consent thereto, glad to be relieved 
from the awful expense of gutting and replenishing 
such a great concern as the kirk was. Accordingly, the 
council having agreed to this proposal, we had plans 
and estimates made, and notice given to the owners 
of pews of our intention. The whole proceedings gave 
thegreatest satisfaction possible to the inhabitants in 
general, who lauded and approved of my discernment 
more and more. 

By the estimate, it was found that the repairs would 
cost about a thousand pounds; and by the plan, that 
theseats,at eighteenpence a sitter, would yield better 
than a hundred pounds a-year; so that there was no 
scruple, on the part of the town-council, in borrowing 
the money wanted. This was the first public debt ever 
contracted by the corporation, and people were very 
fain to get their money lodged at five percent, on such 
good security; in so much, that we had a great deal 
more offered than we required at that time 
and epoch. 



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN 
THE LAW PLEA 



CHAPTER XVII THE LAW PLEA 

THE REPAIR OF THE KIRK WAS UNDER- 
taken by contract with William Plane, the joiner, with 
whom I was in terms at the time anent the bigging of 
a land of houses on my newsteading at the town-end . 
A most reasonable man in all things he was, and in 
no concern of my own had I a better satisfaction than 
in the house he built for me at the conjuncture when 
he had the town's work in the kirk; but there was at 
that period among us a certain person, of the name 
ofNabalSmeddum, a tobacconist by calling, who, up 
to this season, had been regarded but as a droll and 
comical body at a coothy crack. He was, in stature, 
of the lower order of mankind, but endowed with an 
inclination towards corpulency, by which he had ac- 
quired some show of a belly, and his face was round, 
and his cheeks both red and sleeky. He was, however, 
in his personalities, chiefly remarkable for two queer 
and twinkling little eyes, and for a habitual custom 
of licking his lips whenever he said any thing of pith 
or jocosity, or thought that he had done so, which was 
very often the case. In his apparel, as befitted his trade, 
he wore a suit of snuff-coloured cloth, and a brown 
round-eared wig, that curled close in to his neck. 

Mr Smeddum, as I have related, was in some esti- 
mation for his comicality; but he was a dure hand at 
an argument, and would not see the plainest truth 
when itwas not on his side of thedebate. No occasion 
or cause, however, had come to pass by which this in- 
129 I 



THE PROVOST 

herent cross-grainedness was stirred into action, till 
the affair of reseating the kirk a measure, as I have 
mentioned, which gave the best satisfaction; but it hap- 
pened that, on a Saturday night, as I was goingsober- 
ly home from a meeting of the magistrates in the 
clerk's chamber, I by chance recollected that I stood 
in need of having my box replenished; and according- 
ly, in the most innocent and harmless manner that it 
was possible for a man to do, I stepped into this Mr 
Smeddum, the tobacconist's shop, and while he was 
compounding my mixture from the two canisters that 
stood on his counter, and I was in a manner doing 
nothingbut looking at the number of counterfeit six- 
pences and shillings that were nailed thereon as an 
admonishment to his customers, he said to me, "So, 
provost, we're to hae a new lining to the kirk. I won- 
der, when ye were at it, that ye didna rather think of 
bigging another frae the fundament,for I'm thinking 
the walls are no o' a capacity of strength to outlast 
this seating." 

Knowing, as I did, the tough temper of the body, 
I can attribute my entering into an argument with 
him on the subject to nothing but some inconsiderate 
infatuation; for when I said heedlessly, the walls are 
very good, he threw the brass snuff-spoon with an ecs- 
tasy into one of the canisters, and lifting his two hands 
into a posture of admiration, cried, as if he had seen 
an unco 

130 



THE LAW PLEA 

"Good! surely, provost, ye hae na had an inspection; 
they're crackit in divers places; they 're shotten out wi' 
infirmity in others. In short, the whole kirk, frae the 
coping to the fundament, is a fabric smitten wi' a 
paralytic." 

"It's very extraordinar, MrSmeddum," was my re- 
ply, "that nobody has seen a' this but yoursel'." 

"Na, if ye will deny the fact, provost," quo' he, "it's 
o' no service for me to say a word; but there has to a 
moral certainty been a slackness somewhere, or how 
has it happened that the wa's were na subjected to a 
right inspection before this job o' the seating?" 

By this time,I had seen thegreat error into the which 
I had fallen, by entering on a confabulation with Mr 
Smeddum; so I said to him, "It' no a matter for you 
and me to dispute about, so I'll thank you to fill my 
box;" the which manner of putting an end to the de- 
bate he took very ill; and after I left the shop, he laid 
the marrow of our discourse open to Mr Threeper the 
writer, who by chance went in,likemysel',to getasup- 
ply of rappee for the Sabbath. That limb of the law 
discerning a sediment of litigation in the case, eggit 
on Mr Smeddum into a persuasion that the seating 
of the kirk was a thing which the magistrates had no 
legal authority to undertake. At this critical moment, 
my ancient adversary and seeming friend, the dean 
of guild, happened to pass the door, and the bicker- 
ing snuff-man seeing him, cried to him to come in. 



THE PROVOST 

It wasaveryunfortunateoccurrence;for MrM'Lucre 
having a secret interest, as I have intimated, in the 
whinstone qu arry, when he heard of taking down walls 
and bigging them up again, he listened with greedy 
ears to the dubieties of Mr Threeper, and loudly, and 
to the heart's content of Mr Smeddum, condemned 
the frailty and infirmity of the kirk, as a building in 
general. 

It would be overly tedious to mention, however, all 
the outs and ins of the affair; but, from less to more, a 
faction was begotten, and grew to head, and stirring 
among the inhabitants of the town, not only with re- 
gard to the putting of new seats within the old walls, 
but likewise as to the power of the magistrates to lay 
out any part of the public funds in the reparation of the 
kirk; and the upshot was, a contribution amongcertain 
malecontents, to enable Mr Threeper to consult on 
all the points. 

As in all similar cases, the parties applyingfor legal 
advice were heartened into a plea by the opinion they 
got, and the town-council was thrown into the great- 
est consternation by receiving notice that the male- 
contents were going to extremities. 

Two things I saw it was obligational on me to urge 
forward; the onewastogoonstill with the reparations, 
and the other to contest the law-suit, although some 
were for waiting in the first case till the plea was settled, 
and in the second to make no defence, but to give up 

132 



THE LAW PLEA 

our intention anent the new-seating. But I thought 
that, as we had borrowed the money for the repairs, 
we should proceed; and I had a vista that the contri- 
bution raised by the Smeddumites,as they were called, 
would run out, being from their own pockets, whereas 
we fought with the public purse in our hand; and by 
dintofexhortation to that effect, I carried the majority 
to go into my plan, which in the end was most gratify- 
ing, for the kirk was in a manner made as good as new, 
and thecontributional stock of theSmeddumiteswas 
entirely rookit by the lawyers, who would fain have 
them to form another, assuring them that, no doubt, 
the legal point was in their favour. But every body 
knows the uncertainty ofalegalopinion;and although 
the case was given up, for lack of a fund to carry it on, 
there was a livingemberof discontent left in its ashes, 
ready to kindle into a flame on the first puff 
of popular dissatisfaction. 



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 
THE SUPPRESSION OF THE FAIRS 



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN 

THE SUPPRESSION OF THE FAIRS 

THE SPIRIT BY WHICH THE SMEDDUM- 
ites were actuated in ecclesiastical affairs, was a type 
and taste of the great distemper with which all the 
world was, moreorless,atthetimeinflamed, and which 
cast the ancient state and monarchy of France into the 
perdition of anarchy and confusion. I think, upon the 
whole, however, that our royal burgh was not afflicted 
to any very dangerous degree, though there was a sort 
of itch of it among a few of the sedentary orders, such 
as the weavers and shoemakers, who, by the nature 
ofsittinglonginoneposture,areapttobecomesubject 
to the flatulence of theoretical opinions; but although 
this was my notion,yet knowinghowmuch better the 
king and government were acquainted with the true 
condition of things than I could to a certainty be, I 
kept a steady eye on the proceedings of the ministers 
and parliament at London, taking them for an index 
and model forthemanagementof thepublicconcerns, 
which, by the grace of God, and the handling of my 
friends, I was raised up and set forward to undertake. 
Seeing the great dread and anxiety that was above, 
as to the inordinate liberty of the multitude, and how 
necessary it was to bridle popularity, which was be- 
comerampantand ill to ride, kicking at all established 
order, and trying to throw both king and nobles from 
the saddle, I resolved to discountenance all tumultu- 
ous meetings, and to place every reasonable impedi- 
137 



THE PROVOST 

ment in the way of multitudes assembling together: 
indeed,! had for many years been of opinion, that fairs 
were become a greatpolitical evil to theregularshop- 
keepers, by reason of the packmen, and other travel- 
ling merchants, coming with their wares and under- 
selling us; so that both private interest and public prin- 
ciple incited me on to do all in my power to bring our 
fair-days into disrepute. It cannot betoldwhataworld 
of thought and consideration this cost me before I 
lighted on the right method, nor, without a dive into 
the past times of antiquity, is it in the power of man 
to understand the difficulties of the matter. 

Some of our fair-days were remnants of the papis- 
tical idolatry, and instituted of old by the Pope and 
Cardinals, in order to make an income from the vice 
and immorality that was usually rife at the same. 
These, in the main points, were only market-days of 
a blither kind than the common. The country folks 
came in dressed in their best, the schools got the 
play, and a longrank of sweety-wives and their stands, 
covered with the wonted dainties of the occasion, 
occupied the sunny side of the High Street; while 
the shady side was, in like manner, taken possession 
of by the packmen, who, in their booths, made a mar- 
vellous display of goods of an inferior quality, with 
laces and ribands of all colours, hanging down in 
front, and twirling like pinnets in the wind. There 
was likewise the allurement of some compendious 

138 



THE SUPPRESSION OF THE FAIRS 

show of wild beasts; in short, a swatch of every thing 
that the art of man has devised for such occasions, 
to wile away the bawbee. 

Besides the fairs of this sort, that may be said to 
be of a pious origin, there were others of a more bois- 
terous kind, that had come of the times of trouble, 
when the trades paraded with war-like weapons, and 
the banners of their respective crafts; and in every 
seventh year we had a resuscitation of King Crispi- 
anus in all his glory and regality, with the man in 
thecoat-of-mail,of bell-metal,and the dukes, and lord 
mayor of London, at the which, the influx of lads 
and lasses from the country was just prodigious, and 
the rioting and rampaging at night, the brulies and 
the dancing, was worse than Vanity Fair in the Pil- 
grim's Progress. 

To put down, and utterly to abolish, by stress of 
law, or authority, any ancient pleasure of the com- 
monality,! had learned, by this time, was not wisdom, 
and that the fairs were only to be effectually sup- 
pressed by losing their temptations, and so to cease 
to call forth any expectation of merriment among 
the people. Accordingly, with respect to the fairs of 
pious origin, I, without expounding my secret mo- 
tives, persuaded the council, that, having been at so 
great an expense in new-paving the streets, weought 
not to permit the heavy caravans of wild beasts to 
occupy, as formerly, the front of the Tolbooth to- 
139 



THE PROVOST 

wards the Cross; but to order them, for the future, to 
keep at the Greenhead. This was, in a manner, ex- 
purgating them out of the town altogether; and the 
consequence was, that the people, who were wont to 
assemble in the High Street, came to bedivided,part 
gathering at the Greenhead, round the shows, and 
part remaining among the stands and the booths; 
thus an appearance was given of the fairs being less 
attended than formerly, and gradually, year after 
year, the venerable race of sweety- wives, and chatty 
packmen, that were so detrimental to the shopkeep- 
ers, grew less and less numerous, until the fairs fell 
into insignificance. 

At the parade fair, the remnant of the weapon- 
showing, I proceeded more roundly to work, and re- 
solved to debar, by proclamation, all persons from 
appearing with arms; but the deacons of the trades 
spared me the trouble of issuing the same, for they 
dissuaded their crafts from parading. Nothing, how- 
ever, so well helped me out as the volunteers, of which 
I will speak by and by; for when the war began, and 
they were formed, nobody could afterwards abide to 
lookatthe fantastical and disorderly marching of the 
trades, in their processions and paradings; so that, in 
this manner, all the glory of the fairs being shorn and 
expunged, they have fallen into disrepute, and have 
suffered a natural suppression. 



CHAPTER NINETEEN 
THE VOLUNTEERING 



CHAPTER XIX THE VOLUNTEERING 

THE VOLUNTEERS BEGAN IN THE YEAR 

1793, when the democrats in Paris threatened the 
downfall and utter subversion of kings, lords, and 
commons. As became us who were of the council, we 
drew up an address to his majesty, assuring him that 
our lives and fortunes were at his disposal. To the 
which dutiful address, we received, by return of post, 
a very gracious answer; and, at the same time, the 
lord-lieutenant gave me a bit hint, that it would be 
very pleasant to his majesty to hear that we had vol- 
unteers in our town, men of creditable connexions, 
and willing to defend their property. 

When I got this note from his lordship, I went to 
Mr Pipe, the wine-merchant, and spoke to him con- 
cerning it, and we had some discreet conversation on 
the same; in the which it was agreed between us that, 
as I was now rather inclined to a corpulency of parts, 
and being likewise chief civil magistrate, it would not 
do to set myself at the head of a body of soldiers, but 
that the consequence might be made up to me in the 
clothing of the men;solconsentedtoput the business 
into his hands upon this understanding. Accordingly, 
he went the same night with me to Mr Dinton, that 
was in the general merchandizing line, a part-owner 
in vessels, a trafficker in corn, and now and then a 
canny discounter of bills, at a moderate rate, to folk 
in straits and difficulties. And we told him the 
same being agreed between us, as the best way of 
143 



THE PROVOST 

fructifying the job to a profitable issue that, as pro- 
vost, I had got an intimation to raise a corps of vol- 
unteers, and that I thought no better hand could be 
got for a co-operation than him and Mr Pipe, who 
was pointed out to me as a gentleman weel qualified 
for the command. 

Mr Dinton, who was a proud man, and an offset 
from one of the county families, I could see was not 
overly pleased at the preferment over him given to 
Mr Pipe, so that I was in a manner constrained to 
loot a sort a-jee, and to wile him into good-humour 
with all the ability in my power, by saying that it was 
natural enough of the king and government to think 
of Mr Pipe as one of the most proper men in the town, 
he paying, as he did,thelargest sum of the king's dues 
at the excise, and being, as we all knew, in a great 
correspondence with foreign ports and I winkit to 
Mr Pipe as I said this, and he could with a difficulty 
keep his countenance at hearing how I so beguiled 
Mr Dinton into a spirit of loyalty for the raising of 
the volunteers. 

The ice being thus broken, next day we had a meet- 
ing, before the council met, to take the business into 
public consideration, and we thereat settled on cer- 
tain creditable persons in the town, of a known prin- 
ciple, as the fittest to be officers under the command 
of Mr Pipe, as commandant, and Mr Dinton, as his 
colleague under him. We agreed amongus, as the cus- 

144 



THE VOLUNTEERING 

torn was in other places, that they should be elected 
major, captain, lieutenants, and ensigns, by the free 
votes of the whole corps, according to the degrees 
that we had determined forthem.In the doingof this, 
and the bringing it to pass,my skill and management 
was greatly approved and extolled by all who had a 
peep behind the curtain. 

The town-council being, as I have intimated, con- 
vened to hear the gracious answer to the address 
read, and to take into consideration the suggesting 
anent the volunteering, met in the clerk's chamber, 
where we agreed to call a meeting of the inhabitants 
of the town by proclamation, and by a notice in the 
church. This being determined, Mr Pipe and Mr Din- 
ton got a paper drawn up, and privately, before the 
Sunday, a number of their genteeler friends, includ- 
ing those whom we had noted down to be elected 
officers, set their names as willing to be volunteers. 

On theSunday,MrPittle,at myinstigation,preach- 
ed a sermon, showing forth the necessity of arming 
ourselves in the defence of all that was dear to us. It 
was a discourse of great method and sound argu- 
ment, but not altogether so quickened with pith and 
bir as might have been wished for; but it paved the 
way to the readingout of the summons for the inhabi- 
tants to meet the magistrates in the church on the 
Thursday following, for the purpose, as it was word- 
ed by the town-clerk, to take into consideration the 
145 K 



THE PROVOST 

best means of saving the king and kingdom in the 
then monstrous crisis of public affairs. 

The discourse, with the summons, and a rumour 
and whispering that had in the mean time taken 
place, caused the desired effect; in so much, that, on 
the Thursday, there was a great congregation of the 
male portion of the people. At the which, old Mr 
Dravel a genteel man he was, well read in matters 
of history, though somewhat over-portioned with a 
conceit of himself got up on the table, in one of the 
table-seats forenent the poopit, and made a speech 
suitable to the occasion; in the which he set forth 
what manful things had been done of old by the 
Greeks and the Romans for their country, and, wax- 
ing warm with his subject, he cried out with a loud 
voice, towards the end of the discourse, giving at the 
same time a stamp with his foot, "Come, then, as men 
and as citizens; the cry is for your altars and your 
God." 

"Gude save's, Mr Dravel, are ye gane by yoursel?" 
cried Willy Goggle from the front of the loft, a daft 
bodythatwas ayefar ben onallpublicoccasions "to 
think that our God's a Pagan image in need of sick 
feckless help as the like o' thine?" The which outcry 
of Willy raised a most extraordinary laugh at the fine 
paternoster, about the ashes of our ancestors, that Mr 
Dravel had been so vehemently rehearsing; and I was 
greatly afraid that the solemnity of the day would be 

146 



THE VOLUNTEERING 

turned into a ridicule. However, Mr Pipe, who was 
upon the whole a man no without both senseand cap- 
acity, rose and said, that our business was to strength- 
en the hands of government, by coming forward as 
volunteers; and therefore, without thinking it necess- 
ary, among the people of this blessed land, to urge 
any arguments in furtherance of that object,he would 
propose that a volunteer corps should be raised; and 
he begged leave of me, who, as provost, was in the 
chair, to read a few words that he had hastily thrown 
together on the subject, as the outlines of a pact of 
agreement among those who might be inclined to 
join with him. I should here, however, mention, that 
the said few words of a pact was the costive product 
overnight of no small endeavour between me and Mr 
Dinton as well as him. 

When he had thus made his motion, Mr Dinton, 
as we had concerted, got up and seconded the same, 
pointing out the liberal spirit in which theagreement 
was drawn, as every person signing it was eligible to 
be an officer of any rank, and every man had a vote in 
the preferment of the officers. All which was mightily 
applauded; and upon this I rose, and said, "It was a 
pleasant thing for me to have to report to his ma- 
jesty's government the loyalty of the inhabitants of 
our town, and the unanimity of the volunteering 
spirit among them and to testify," said I, "to all the 
world, how much we are sensible of the blessings of 
147 



THE PROVOST 

the true liberty we enjoy, I would suggestthat the mat- 
ter of the volunteering be left entirely to Mr Pipe and 
Mr Dinton, with afew other respectable gentlemen,as 
a committee, to carry the same into effect;" and with 
that I looked, as it were, round the church, and then 
said, "There's MrOranger,a better couldna be joined 
with them." Hewas a most creditable man, and a gro- 
cer, that we had waled out for a captain; so I desired, 
havinggotanod of assent from him, that Mr Granger's 
name might be added to their's, as one of the com- 
mittee. In like manner I did by all the rest whom we 
had previously chosen. Thus, in a manner, predispos- 
ing the public towards them for officers. 

In the course of the week, by the endeavours of the 
committee, a sufficient number of names was got to 
the paper, and the election of the officers came on on 
the Tuesday following; at which, though there was a 
sort of a contest, and nothing could be a fairer elec- 
tion, yet the very persons that we had chosen were 
elected, though some of them had but a narrow 
chance. Mr Pipe was made the commandant, by a 
superiority of only two votes over Mr Dinton. 



CHAPTER TWENTY 
THE CLOTHING 



CHAPTER TWENTY THE CLOTHING 

IT WAS AN UNDERSTOOD THING AT 
first, that, saving in the matter of guns and other mil- 
itary implements, the volunteers were to be at all 
their own expenses; out of which, both tribulation 
and disappointment ensued; for when it came to be 
determined about the uniforms, Major Pipe found 
that he could by no possibility wise all the furnish- 
ing to me, every one being disposed to get his regi- 
mentals from his own merchant; and there was also 
a division anent the colour of the same, many of the 
doucer sort of the men being blate of appearing in 
scarlet and gold-lace, insisting with a great earnest- 
ness, almost to a sedition, on the uniform being blue. 
So thatthewhole advantageof acontractwas frustra- 
ted, and I began to be sorry that I had not made a 
point of being, notwithstanding the alleged weight 
and impediment of my corpulence, the major-com- 
mandant myself. However, things, after some time, 
began to take a turn for the better; and the art of 
raising volunteers being better understood in the 
kingdom, Mr Pipe went into Edinburgh, and upon 
some conference with the lord advocate, got permis- 
sion to augment his force by another company, and 
leave to draw two days' pay a-week for account of 
the men, and to defray the necessary expenses of the 
corps. The doing of this bred no little agitation in the 
same; and some of the forward and upsetting spirits 
of the younger privates, that had been smitten, though 



THE PROVOST 

not in a disloyal sense, with the insubordinate spirit 
of the age, clamoured about the rights of the original 
bargain with them, insisting that the officers had no 
privilege to sell their independence, and a deal of 
trash of that sort, and finally withdrew from the 
corps, drawing, to the consternation of the officers, 
the pay that had been taken in their names; and 
which the officers could not refuse, although it was 
really wanted for the contingencies of the service, as 
Major Pipe himself told me. 

When the corps had thus been rid of these turbu- 
lent spirits, the men grew more manageable and 
rational, assenting by little and little to all the pro- 
posals of the officers, until there was a true military 
dominion of discipline gained over them; and a joint 
contract was entered into between Major Pipe and 
me, for a regular supply of all necessaries, in order to 
insure a uniform appearance, which, it is well known, 
is essential to a right discipline. In the end, when the 
eyes of men in civil stations had got accustomed to 
military show and parade, it was determined to 
change the colour of the cloth from blue to red, the 
former having at first been preferred, and worn for 
some time; in the accomplishment of which change 
I had (and why should I disguise the honest fact?) 
my share of the advantage which the kingdom at 
large drew, in that period of anarchy and confusion, 
from the laudable establishment of avolunteer force. 

152 




THE DOMINIE 



CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE 
THE PRESSGANG 



CHAPTER XXI THE PRESSGANG 

DURING THE SAME JUST AND NECESS- 
ary war for all that was dear to us, in which the 
volunteers were raised, one of the severest trials hap- 
pened to me that ever any magistrate was subjected 
to. I had, at the time, again subsided into an ordinary 
counsellor; but it so fell out that, by reason of Mr 
Shuttlethrift, who was then provost, having occasion 
and need to go into Glasgow upon some affairs of his 
own private concerns, he being interested in the Kil- 
beacon cotton-mill; and Mr Dalrye, the bailie, who 
should have acted for him,beinglikewise from home, 
anent a plea he had with a neighbour concerning the 
bounds of their rigs and gables; the whole authority 
and power of the magistrates devolved, by a courtesy 
on the part of their colleague, Bailie Hammerman, 
into my hands. 

For some time before, there had been an ingather- 
ing among us of sailor lads from the neighbouring 
ports, who on their arrival, in order to shun the press- 
gangs, left their vessels and came to scog themselves 
with us. By this, a rumour or a suspicion rose that the 
men-of-war's men were suddenly to come at the dead 
hour of the night and sweep them all away. Heaven 
only knows whether this notice was bred in the fears 
and jealousies of the people, or was a humane inkling 
given, by some of the men-of-war's men, to put the 
poor sailor lads on their guard, was never known. 
But on a Saturday night, as I was on the eve of step- 
155 



THE PROVOST 

ping into my bed, I shall never forget it MrsPawkie 
was already in, and as sound as a door-nail and I 
was just crooking my mouth to blow out the candle, 
when I heard a rap. As our bed-room window was 
over the door, I looked out. It was a dark night; but 
I could see by aglaik of light from a neighbour's win- 
dow, that there was a man with a cocked hat at the 
door. 

"What's your will?" said I to him, as I looked out 
at him in my nightcap. He made no other answer, but 
that hewas one of his majesty's officers,and had busi- 
ness with the justice. 

I did not like this Englification and voice of claim 
and authority; however, I drew on my stockings and 
breeks again, and taking my wife's flannel coaty 
about my shoulders for I was then troubled with 
the rheumatiz I went down, and, opening the door, 
let in the lieutenant. 

"I come," said he, "to show you my warrant and 
commission, and to acquaint you that, having in- 
formation of several able-bodied seamen being in the 
town, I mean to make a search for them." 

I really did not well know what to say at the mo- 
ment; but I begged him, for the love of peace and 
quietness, to defer his work till the next morning: 
but he said he must obey his orders; and he was sorry 
that it was his duty to be on so disagreeable a ser- 
vice, with many other things, that showed something 



THE PRESSGANG 

like a sense of compassion that could not have been 
hoped for in the captain of a pressgang. 

When he had said this, he then went away, saying, 
for he saw my tribulation, that it would be as well for 
me to be prepared in case of any riot. This was the 
worst news of all; but what could I do? I thereupon 
went again to Mrs Pawkie, and shaking her awake, 
told her what was going on, and a terrified woman 
she was. I then dressed myself with all possible ex- 
pedition, and went to the town-clerk's, and we sent 
for the town-officers, and then adjourned to the coun- 
cil-chamber to wait the issue of what might betide. 

In my absence, Mrs Pawkie rose out of her bed, 
and by some wonderful instinct collecting all the 
bairns, went with them to the minister's house, as to 
a place of refuge and sanctuary. 

Shortly after we had been in the council-room, I 
opened the window and looked out, but all was still; 
the town was lying in the defencelessness of sleep, 
and nothing was heard but the clicking of the town- 
clock in the steeple over our heads. By and by, how- 
ever, a sough and pattering of feet was heard ap- 
proaching; and shortly after, in looking out, we saw 
the pressgang, headed by their officers, with cutlasses 
by their side, and great club-sticks in their hands. 
They said nothing; but the sound of their feet on the 
silent stonesof thecausey,wasas the noiseof a dread- 
ful engine. They passed, and went on; and all that 



THE PROVOST 

were with me in the council stood at the windows and 
listened. In the course of a minute or two after, two 
lassies, with a callan, that had been out, came flying 
and wailing, giving the alarm to the town. Then we 
heard the driving of the bludgeons on the doors, and 
the outcries of terrified women; and presently after 
we saw the poor chased sailors running in their shirts, 
with their clothes in their hands, as if they had been 
felons and blackguards caught in guilt, and flying 
from the hands of justice. 

The town was awakened with the din as with the 
cry of fire; and lights came starting forward, as it 
were, to the windows. The women were out with la- 
mentations and vows of vengeance. I was in a state 
of horror unspeakable. Then came some three or four 
of the pressgang with a struggling sailor in their 
clutches, with nothing but his trousers on his shirt 
riven from his back in the fury. Syne came the rest 
of the gang and their officers, scattered as itwerewith 
a tempest of mud and stones, pursued and battered 
by a troop of desperate women and weans, whose 
fathers and brothers were in jeopardy. And these were 
followed by the wailing wife of the pressed man, with 
her five bairns, clamouring in their agony to heaven 
against the king and government for the outrage. I 
couldna listen to the fearful justice of their outcry, 
but sat down in a corner of the council-chamber with 
my fingers in my ears. 

158 



THE PRESSGANG 

In a little while a shout of triumph rose from the 
mob, and we heard them returning, and I felt, as it 
were, relieved; but the sound of their voices became 
hoarse and terrible as they drew near, and, in a mo- 
ment, I heard the jingle of twenty broken windows 
rattle in the street. My heart misgave me; and, in- 
deed, it was my own windows. They left not one pane 
unbroken; and nothing kept them from demolishing 
the house to the ground-stone but the exhortations 
of Major Pipe, who, on hearing the uproar, was up 
and out, and did all in his power to arrest the fury of 
the tumult. It seems, the mob had taken it into their 
heads that I had signed what they called the press- 
warrants; and on driving the gang out of the town, 
and rescuing the man, they came to revenge them- 
selves on me and mine; which is the cause that made 
me say it was a miraculous instinct that led Mrs 
Pawkieto take thefamily to Mr Pittle's;for,had they 
been in the house, it is not to be told what the conse- 
quences might have been. 

Before morning the riot was ended, but the dam- 
age to my house was very great; and I was intending, 
as the public had done the deed, that the town should 
have paid for it. "But," said Mr Keelivine, the town- 
clerk, " I think you may do better; and this calamity, 
if properly handled to the government, may make 
your fortune," I reflected on the hint; and accord- 
ingly, the next day, I went over to the regulating 
159 



THE PROVOST 

captain of the pressgang, and represented to him the 
great damage and detriment which I had suffered, re- 
questing him to represent to government that it was 
all owing to the part I had taken in his behalf. To 
this, for a time, he made some scruple of objection; 
but at last he drew up, in my presence, a letter to the 
lords of the admiralty, telling what he had done, and 
how he and his men had been ill-used, and that the 
house of the chief-magistrate of the town had been 
in a manner destroyed by the rioters. 

By the same post I wrote off myself to the lord ad- 
vocate, and likewise to the secretary of state, in Lon- 
don; commending, very properly, the prudent and 
circumspect manner in which the officer had come to 
apprize me of his duty, and giving as faithful an ac- 
count as I well could of the riot; concluding with a 
simple notification of what had been done to my 
house, and the outcry that might be raised in the 
town were any part of the town's funds to be used in 
the repairs. 

Both the lord advocate and Mr Secretary of State 
wrote me back by retour of post, thanking me for my 
zeal in the public service; and I was informed that, as 
it might not be expedient to agitate in the town the 
payment of the damage which my house had re- 
ceived, the lords of the treasury would indemnify me 
for the same; and this was done in a manner which 
showed the blessings we enjoy under our most vener- 

160 



THE PRESSGANG 

able constitution; for I was not only thereby enabled, 
by what I got, to repair the windows, but to build up 
a vacant steading; the same which I settled last year 
on my dochter, Marion, when she was married to Mr 
Geery, of the Gatherton Holme. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO 
THE WIG DINNER 



CHAPTER XXII THE WIG DINNER 

THE AFFAIR OF THE PRESSGANG GAVE 

great concern to all of the council; for it was thought 
that the loyalty of the burgh would be called in ques- 
tion, and doubted by the king's ministers, notwith- 
standing our many assurances to the contrary; the 
which sense and apprehension begat among us an in- 
ordinate anxiety to manifest our principles on all ex- 
pedient occasions. In the doing of this,divers curious 
and comical things came to pass; but the most com- 
ical of all waswhat happenedat the Michaelmas din- 
ner following the riot. 

The weather, for some days before, had been raw 
for that time of the year, and Michaelmas-day was, 
both for wind and wet and cold, past ordinar; in so 
much that we were obligated to have a large fire in 
thecouncil-chamber, where we dined. Round this fire, 
after drinking his majesty's health and the other ap- 
propriate toasts, we were sitting as cozy as could be; 
and every one the longer he sat, and the oftener his 
glass visited the punch-bowl, waxed more and more 
royal, till everybody was in a most hilarious tempera- 
ment, singing songs and joining chorus with the 
greatest cordiality. 

It happened, among others of the company, there 
was a gash old carl, the laird of Bodletonbrae, who 
was a very capital hand at a joke; and he, chancing to 
notice that the whole of the magistrates and town- 
council then present wore wigs, feigned to become 

165 



THE PROVOST 

out of all bounds with the demonstrations of his de- 
votion to king and country; and others that were 
there, not wishing to appear any thing behind him in 
the same, vied in their sprose of patriotism, and brag- 
ging in a manful manner of what, in the hour of trial, 
they would be seen to do. Bodletonbrae was all the 
time laughing in his sleeve at the way he was work- 
ing them on, till at last, after they had flung the 
glasses twice or thrice over their shoulders, he pro- 
posed we should throw our wigs in the fire next. 
Surely there was some glammer about us that caused 
us not to observe his devilry, for the laird had no wig 
on his head. Be that, however, as it may, the instiga- 
tion took effect, and in the twinkling of an eye every 
scalp was bare, and the chimley roaring with the 
roasting of gude kens how manypowdered wigs well 
fattened with pomatum. But scarcely was the deed 
done, till every one was admonished of his folly, by 
the laird laughing, like a being out of his senses, at 
the number of bald heads and shaven crowns that his 
device had brought to light, and by one and all of us 
experiencing the coldness of the air on the naked- 
ness of our upper parts. 

The first thing that we then did was to send the 
town-officers, who were waiting on as usual for the 
dribbles of the bottles and the leavings in the bowls, 
to bring our nightcaps, but I trow few were so lucky 
as me, for I had a spare wig at home, which Mrs Paw- 

166 



THE WIG DINNER 

kie, my wife, a most considerate woman, sent to me; 
so that I was, in a manner, to all visibility, none the 
worse of the ploy; but the rest of the council were per- 
fect oddities within their wigs, and the sorest thing of 
all was, that the exploit of burning the wigs had got 
wind; so that, when we left the council-room, there 
was a great congregation of funny weans andmisleart 
trades' lads assembled before the tolbooth, shouting, 
and like as if they were out of the body with daffing, 
to see so many ofthe heads ofthe town in their night- 
caps, and no, may be, just so solid at the time as could 
have been wished. Nor did the matter rest here; for 
the generality ofthe sufferers being in a public way, 
were obligated to appear the next day in their shops, 
and at their callings, with their nightcaps -for few of 
them had two wigs like me by which no small mer- 
riment ensued, and was continued for many a day. It 
would hardly, however, be supposed, that in such a 
matterany thing could have redounded tomyadvan- 
tage; but so it fell out, that by my wife's prudence in 
sending me myother wig,itwas observed by the com- 
monality, when we sallied forth to go home, that I had 
on my wig, and it was thought I had a very meritori- 
ous command of myself, and was the only man in the 
town fit for a magistrate; for in every thing I was seen 
to be mostcautious and considerate. I could not,how- 
ever, when I saw the turn the affair took to my advan- 
tage,but reflect on what small and visionary grounds 
the popularity of public men will sometimes rest. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE 
THE DEATH OF MR M'LUCRE 



CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE 

THE DEATH OF MR M'LUCRE 

SHORTLY AFTER THE AFFAIR RECORD- 
ed in the foregoing chapter, an event came to pass in 
the burgh that had been for some time foreseen. 

My old friend and adversary, Bailie M'Lucre, being 
now a man well stricken in years, was one night, in 
goinghome from a gavawlling with some ofthe neigh- 
bours at Mr Shuttlethrift's, the manufacturer's, (the 
bailie, canny man, never liket ony thing ofthe sort at 
his own cost and outlay,) having partaken largely of 
the bowl, for the manufacturerwasofa blithe humour 
the bailie, as I was say ing, in going home, was over- 
taken by an apoplexyjust at the threshold of his own 
door, and although it did not kill him outright, it 
shoved him, as it were, almost into the very grave; in 
so much that he never spoke an articulate word dur- 
ing the several weeks he was permitted to doze away 
his latter end; and accordingly he died, and was buri- 
ed in a very creditable manner to the community, in 
consideration ofthe long space of time he had been 
a public man among us. 

But what rendered the event of his death, in my 
opinion, the more remarkable, was, that I considered 
with him the last remnant ofthe old practice of ma- 
naging the concerns of the town came to a period. 
For now that he is dead and gone, and also all those 
whom I found conjunct with him, when I came into 
power and office, I may venture to say, that things in 
171 



THE PROVOST 

yon former times were not guided so thoroughly by 
the hand of a disinterested integrity as in these latter 
years. On the contrary, it seemed to be the use and 
wont of men in public trusts, to think they were free 
to indemnify themselves in a left-handed way for the 
time and trouble they bestowed in the same. But the 
thing was not so far wrong in principle as in the 
hugger-muggering way in which it was done, and 
which gave to it a guilty colour, that, by the judicious 
stratagem of a right system, it would never have had. 
In sooth to say, through the whole course of my 
public life, I metwith no greater difficulties and trials 
than in cleansing myself from the old habitudes of 
office. For I must in verity confess, that I myself par- 
took, in a degree, at my beginning, of the caterpillar 
nature; and it was not until the light of happier days 
called forth the wings of my endowment, that I be- 
came conscious of being raised into public life for a 
better purpose than to prey upon the leaves and 
flourishes of the commonwealth. So that, if I have 
seemed to speak lightly of those doings that are now 
denominated corruptions, I hope it was discerned 
therein that I did so rather to intimate that such 
things were, than to consider them as in themselves 
commendable. Indeed, in their notations, I have en- 
deavoured, in a manner, to be governed by the spirit 
of the times in which the transactions happened; for 
I have lived long enough to remark, that if we judge 

172 



THE DEATH OF MR M C LUCRE 

of past events by present motives, and do not try to 
enter into the spirit of the age when they took place, 
and to see them with the eyes with which they were 
really seen, we shall conceit many things to be of a 
bad and wicked character that were not thought so 
harshly of by those who witnessed them, nor even by 
those who, perhaps, suffered from them. While, there- 
fore, I think it has been of a great advantage to the 
public to have survived that method of administra- 
tion in which the like of Bailie M 'Lucre was engen- 
dered, I would not have it understood that I think 
the men who held the public trusts in those days a 
whit less honest than the men of my own time. The 
spirit of their own age was upon them, as that of ours 
is upon us, and their ways of working the wherry 
entered more or less into all their trafficking, whether 
for the commonality, or for their own particular be- 
hoof and advantage. 

I have been thus large and frank in my reflections 
anent the death of the bailie, because, poor man, he 
had outlived the times for which he was qualified; 
and, instead of the merriment and jocularity that his 
wily by-hand ways used to cause among his neigh- 
bours, the rising generation began to pick and dab at 
him, in such a manner, that, had he been much longer 
spared, it is to be feared he would not have been al- 
lowed to enjoy his earnings both with ease and hon- 
our. However, he got out of the world with some re- 
173 



THE PROVOST 

spect, and the matters of which I have now to speak, 

are exalted, both in method and principle, far above 

the personal considerations that took something 

from the public virtue of his day 

and generation. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR 
THE WINDY YULE 



CHAPTER XXIV THE WINDY YULE 

IT WAS IN THE COURSEOF THE WINTER, 
after the decease of Bailie M'Lucre, that the great 
loss of lives took place, which every body agreed was 
one of the most calamitous things that had for many 
a year befallen the town. 

Three or four vessels were coming with cargoes of 
grain from Ireland; another from the Baltic with 
Norawa deals; and a third from Bristol, where she 
had been on a charter for some Greenock merchants. 

It happened that, for a time, there had been con- 
trary winds, against which no vessel could enter the 
port, and the ships, whereof I have been speaking, 
were all lying together at anchor in the bay, waiting 
a change of weather. These five vessels were owned 
among ourselves, and their crews consisted of fathers 
and sons belonging to the place, so that, both by 
reason of interest and affection, a more than ordinary 
concern was felt for them; for the sea was so rough, 
that no boat could live in it to go near them, and we 
had our fears that the men on board would be very 
ill ofT. Nothing, however, occurred but this natural 
anxiety, till the Saturday, which was Yule. In the 
morning the weather was blasty and sleety, waxing 
moreandmore tempestuous till about mid-day, when 
the wind checked suddenly round from the nor-east 
to the sou- west, and blew a gale as if the prince of the 
powers of the air was doing his utmost to work mis- 
chief. The rain blattered, the windows clattered, the 
177 M 

V 



THE PROVOST 

shop-shutters flapped, pigs from the lum-heads came 
rattling down like thunder-claps, and the skies were 
dismal both with cloud and carry. Yet, for all that, 
there was in the streets a stir and a busy visitation 
between neighbours, and every one went to their high 
windows, to look at the five poor barks that were 
warsling against the strong arm of the elements of 
the storm and the ocean. 

Still the lift gloomed, and the wind roared, and it 
was as doleful a sight as ever was seen in any town 
afflicted with calamity, to see the sailors' wives, with 
their red cloaks about their heads, followed by their 
hirpling and disconsolate bairns, going one after an- 
other to the kirkyard, to look at the vessels where 
their helpless breadwinners were battling with the 
tempest. My heart was really sorrowful, and full of a 
sore anxiety to think of what might happen to the 
town, whereof so many were in peril, and to whom no 
human magistracy could extend the arm of protec- 
tion. Seeing no abatement of the wrath of heaven, 
that howled and roared around us, I put on my big- 
coat, and taking my staff in my hand, having tied 
down my hat with a silk handkerchief, towards 
gloaming I walked likewise to the kirkyard, where I 
beheld such an assemblage of sorrow, as few men in 
situation have ever been put to the trial to witness. 

In the lea of the kirk many hundreds of the town 
were gathered together; but there was no discourse 

178 



THE WINDY YULE 

among them. The major part were sailors' wives and 
weans, and at every new thud of the blast, a sob rose, 
and the mothers drew their bairns closer in about 
them, as if they saw the visible hand of a foe raised to 
smite them. Apart from the multitude, I observed 
three or four young lasses standing behind the Whin- 
nyhill families' tomb, and I jealoused that they had 
joes in the ships; for they often looked to the bay, 
with long necks and sad faces, from behind the monu- 
ment. A widow woman, one old Mary Weery, that 
was a lameter, and dependent on her son, who was 
on board the LoupingMeg,(as the Lovely Peggy was 
nicknamed at the shore,) stood by herself, and every 
now and then wrung her hands, crying, with a woeful 
voice, " The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, 
blessed be the name of the Lord ; " but it was mani- 
fest to all that her faith was fainting within her. But 
of all the piteous objects there, on that doleful even- 
ing, none troubled my thoughts more than three 
motherless children, that belonged to the mate of one 
of the vessels in the jeopardy. He was an Englishman 
that had been settled some years in the town, where 
his family had neither kith nor kin; and his wife hav- 
ing died about a month before, the bairns, of whom 
the eldest was but nine or so, were friendless enough, 
though both my gudewife, and other well-disposed 
ladies, paid them all manner of attention till their 
father would come home. The three poor little things, 
179 



THE PROVOST 

knowing that he was in one of the ships, had been 
often out and anxious, and they were then sitting un- 
der the lea of a headstone, near their mother's grave, 
chittering and creeping closer and closer at every 
squall. Never was such an orphan-like sight seen. 

When it began to be so dark that the vessels could 
no longer be discerned from the churchyard, many 
went down to the shore, and I took the three babies 
home with me, and Mrs Pawkie made tea for them, 
and they soon began to play with our own younger 
children, in blythe forgetfulness of the storm; every 
now and then, however, the eldest of them, when the 
shutters rattled and the lum-head roared, would 
pause in his innocent daffing, and cower in towards 
Mrs Pawkie, as if he was daunted and dismayed by 
something he knew not what. 

Many a one that night walked the sounding shore 
in sorrow, and fires were lighted along it to a great 
extent; but the darkness and the noise of the raging 
deep, and the howling wind, never intermitted till a- 
bout midnight: at which time a message was brought 
to me, that it might be needful to send a guard of sol- 
diers to the beach, for that broken masts and tackle 
had come in, and that surely some of the barks had 
perished. I lost no time in obeying this suggestion, 
which was made to me by one of the owners of the 
LoupingMeg; and to show that I sincerely sympath- 
ized with all those in affliction, I rose and dressed my- 

180 



THE WINDY YULE 

sel f, and went down to the shore, where I directed sev- 
eral old boats to be drawn up by the fires, and blan- 
kets to be brought, and cordials prepared, for them 
that might be spared with life to reach the land; and I 
walked the beach with the mourners till the morning. 

As the day dawned, the wind began to abate in its 
violence, and to wearawayfrom the sou-west into the 
norit,but it was soon discovered that some of the ves- 
sels with thecorn had perished; for the first thingseen, 
was a long fringe of tangle and grain along the line 
of the highwater mark, and every one strained with 
greedy and grieved eyes, as the daylight brightened, 
to discover which had suffered. But I can proceed no 
further with the dismal recital of that doleful morn- 
ing. Let it suffice here to be known, that, through the 
haze, we at last saw three of the vessels lying on their 
beam-ends with their masts broken, and the waves 
riding like the furious horses of destruction over them. 
What hadbecome of the other two was never known; 
but it was supposed that they had foundered at their 
anchors, and that all on board perished. 

The day being now Sabbath, and the whole town 
idle, every body in a manner was down on the beach, 
to help and mourn as the bodies, one after another, 
were cast out by the waves. Alas! few were the better 
of my provident preparation, and it was a thing not 
to be described, to see, for more than a mile along the 
coast, the new-made widows and fatherless bairns, 
181 



THE PROVOST 

mourning and weeping over the corpses of those they 
loved. Seventeen bodies were, before ten o'clock, car- 
ried to the desolated dwelling of their families; and 
when old Thomas Pull, the betheral, went to ring the 
bell for public worship,such was the universal sorrow 
of the town, that Nanse Donsie, an idiot natural, ran 
up the street to stop him, crying, in the voice of a par- 
donable desperation, "Wha, in sic a time, 
can praise the Lord?" 



CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE 
THE SUBSCRIPTION 



CHAPTER XXV THE SUBSCRIPTION 

THE CALAMITY OF THE STORM OPENED 

and disposed the hearts ofthe whole town to charity; 
and it was a pleasure to behold the manner in which 
the tide of sympathy flowed towards the sufferers. 
Nobody went to the church in the forenoon;butwhen 
I had returned home from the shore, several ofthe 
council met at my house to confer anent the desola- 
tion, and it was concerted among us, at my sugges- 
tion, thatthere should be a meetingofthe inhabitants 
called by the magistrates, for the next day, in order 
to take the public compassion with the tear in the eye 
which was accordingly done by Mr Pittle himself 
from the pulpit, with a few judicious words on the hea- 
vy dispensation. And the number of folk that came 
forward to subscribe was just wonderful. We got well 
on to a hundred pounds in the first two hours, besides 
many a bundle of old clothes. But one ofthe most re- 
markable things in the business was done by Mr Ma- 
candoe. He was, in his original, a lad ofthe place, who 
had gone into Glasgow, where he was in a topping 
line; and happening to be on a visit to his friends at 
the time, he came to the meeting and put down his 
name for twenty guineas, which he gave me in bank- 
notes a sum of such liberality as had never been 
given to the town from one individual man, since the 
mortification of fifty pounds that we got by the will 
of Major Bravery that died in Cheltenham, in Eng- 
land, after making his fortune in India. The sum total 



THE PROVOST 

of the subscription, when we got my lord's five-and- 
twenty guineas, was better than two hundred pounds 
sterling for even several of the country gentlemen 
were very generous contributors, and it is well known 
that they are not inordinately charitable, especially 
to town folks but the distribution of it was no easy 
task, for it required a discrimination of character as 
well as of necessities. It was at first proposed to give 
it over to the session. I knew, however, that, in their 
hands, it would do no good; for Mr Pittle, the minis- 
ter, was a vain sort of a body, and easy to be fleech- 
ed, and the bold and the bardy with him would be 
sure to come in for a better share than the meek and 
the modest, who might be in greater want. So I set 
myself to consider what was the best way of proceed- 
ing; and truly upon reflection, there are few events in 
my history that I look back upon with more satisfac- 
tion than the part I performed in this matter; for, be- 
fore going into any division of the money, I proposed 
that we should allot it to three classes those who 
were destitute; those who had some help, but large 
families; and those to whom a temporality would be 
sufficient and that we should make a visitation to 
the houses of all the sufferers, in order to class them 
under their proper heads aright. By this method, and 
together with what I had done personally in the tem- 
pest, I got great praise and laud from all reflecting 
people; and it is not now to be told what a consola- 

186 



THE SUBSCRIPTION 

tion was brought to many a sorrowful widow and or- 
phan's heart, by the patience and temperance with 
which the fund of liberality was distributed; yet be- 
cause a small sum was reserved to help some of the 
more helpless at another time, and the same was put 
out to interest in the town's books, there were not 
wanting evil-minded persons who went about whis- 
pering calumnious innuendos to my disadvantage; 
but I know, by this time, the nature of the world, and 
howimpossible it is to reason with such a seven-head- 
ed and ten-horned beast as the multitude. So I said 
nothing; only I got the town-clerk's young man, who 
acted as clerk to the committee of the subscription, 
to make out a fair account of the distribution of the 
money, and to what intent the residue had been plac- 
ed in the town-treasurer's hand; and this I sent unto 
a friend in Glasgow to get printed for me, the which 
he did ; and when I got the copies, I directed one to 
every individual subscriber, and sent the town-drum- 
mer an end's errand with them, which was altogether 
a proceeding of a method and exactness so by com- 
mon, that it not only quenched the envy of spite ut- 
terly out, but contributed more and more to give me 
weight and authority with the community,until I had 
the whole sway and mastery of the town. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX 
OF THE PUBLIC LAMPS 



XXVI OF THE PUBLIC LAMPS 

DEATH IS A GREAT REFORMER OF COR- 
porate bodies, and we found, now and then, the bene- 
fit of his helping hand in our royal burgh. From the 
time of my being chosen into the council; and, in- 
deed, for some years before, Mr Hirple had been a 
member, but, from some secret and unexpressed 
understanding among us,hewas never made a bailie; 
for he was not liked; having none of that furthy and 
jocose spirit so becoming in a magistrate of that de- 
gree, and to which the gifts of gravity and formality 
make but an unsubstantial substitute. He was, on the 
contrary, a queer andquistical man,of a small stature 
of body, with an outshot breast, the which, I am in- 
clined to think, was one of the main causes of our 
never promoting him into the ostensible magistracy; 
besides, his temper was exceedingly brittle; and in 
the debates anent the weightiest concerns of the 
public, he was apt to puff and fiz, and go off with a 
pluff of anger like a pioye; so that, for the space of 
more than five-and-twenty years, we would have 
been glad of his resignation; and, in the heat of argu- 
ment, there was no lack of hints to that effect from 
more than one of his friends, especially from Bailie 
Picken, who was himself a sharp-tempered individ- 
ual, and could as ill sit quiet under a contradiction 
as any man I ever was conjunct with. But just before 
the close of my second provostry, Providence was 
kind to Mr Hirple, and removed him gently away 
191 



THE PROVOST 

from the cares, and troubles, and the vain policy of 
this contending world, into, as I hope and trust, a far 
better place. 

It may seem, hereafter, to the unlearned readers 
among posterity, particularly to such of them as may 
happen not to be versed in that state of things which 
we were obligated to endure, very strange that I 
should make this special mention of Mr Hirple at his 
latter end, seeing and observing the small store and 
account I have thus set upon his talents and person- 
alities. But the verity of the reason is plainly this: we 
never discovered his worth and value till we had lost 
him, or rather, till we found the defect and gap that 
his death caused, and the affliction that came in 
through it upon us in the ill-advised selection of Mr 
Hickery to fill his vacant place. 

The spunky nature of Mr Hirple was certainly 
very disagreeable often to most of the council, especi- 
ally when there was any difference of opinion; but 
then it was only a sort of flash, and at the vote he al- 
ways, like a reasonable man, sided with the majority, 
and never after attempted to rip up a decision when 
it was once so settled. Mr Hickery was just the even 
down reverse of this. He never, to be sure, ran him- 
self into a passion, but then he continued to speak 
and argue so long in reply, never heeding the most 
rational things of his adversaries, that he was sure to 
put every other person in a rage; in addition to all 

192 



OF THE PUBLIC LAMPS 

which, he was likewise a sorrowful body in never 
being able to understand how a determination by 
vote ought to and did put an end to every question- 
able proceeding; so that he was, for a constancy, ever 
harping about the last subject discussed, as if it had 
not been decided, until a new difference of opinion 
arose, and necessitated him to change the burden 
and o'ercome of his wearysome speeches. 

It may seem remarkable that we should have 
taken such a plague into the council, and be thought 
that we were well served for our folly; but we were 
unacquaint with the character of the man for al- 
though a native of the town, he was in truth a stran- 
ger, having, at an early age, espoused his fortune, and 
gone to Philadelphia in America; and no doubt his 
argol-bargolous disposition was an inheritance ac- 
cumulated with his other conquest ofwealth from the 
mannerless Yankees. Coming home and settling 
among us, with a power of money, (some said eleven 
thousand pounds,) a short time before Mr Hirple de- 
parted this life, we all thought, on that event happen- 
ing, it would be a very proper compliment to take Mr 
Hickery into the council, and accordingly we were 
so misfortunate as to do so; but I trow we soon had 
reason to repent our indiscretion, andnonemorethan 
myself, who had first proposed him. 

Mr Hickery having been chosen to supply the void 
caused by the death of Mr Hirple, in the very first 
193 N 



THE PROVOST 

sederunt of the council after his election, he kithed 
in his true colours. 

Among other things that I had contemplated for 
the ornament and edification of the burgh, was the 
placing up of lamps to light the streets, such as may 
be seen in all well regulated cities and towns of any 
degree. Having spoken of this patriotic project to 
several of my colleagues, who all highly approved of 
the same, I had no jealousy or suspicion that a design 
so clearly and luminously useful would meet with 
any other opposition than, may be, some doubt as to 
the fiscal abilities of our income. To be sure Mr 
Dribbles, who at that time kept the head inns, and 
was in the council, said, with a wink, that it might be 
found an inconvenience to sober folk that happened, 
on an occasion nowand then, to be an hour later than 
usual among their friends, either at his house or any 
other, to be shown by the lamps to the profane popu- 
lace as they were making the best of their way home; 
and Mr Dippings, the candlemaker, with less public 
spirit than might have been expected from one who 
made such a penny by the illuminations on news of 
victory, was of opinion that lamps would only en- 
courage the commonality to keep late hours; and 
that the gentry were in no need of any thing of the 
sort, having their own handsome glass lanterns, with 
two candles in them, garnished and adorned with 
clippit paper; an equipage which he prophesied 

194 



OF THE PUBLIC LAMPS 

would soon wear out of fashion when lamps were 
once introduced, and the which prediction I have 
lived to see verified; for certainly, now-a-days, ex- 
cept when some elderly widow lady, or maiden gen- 
tlewoman, wanting the help and protection of man, 
happens to be out at her tea and supper, a tight and 
snod serving lassie, with a three-cornered glass lan- 
tern, is never seen on the causey. But, to return from 
this digression; saving and excepting the remarks of 
Mr Dribbles and Mr Dippings, and neither of them 
could be considered as made in a sincere frame of 
mind, I had no foretaste of any opposition. I was, 
therefore, but ill prepared for the worrying argument 
with which Mr Hickery seized upon the scheme, as- 
serting and maintaining,amongother apparatus-like 
reasoning, that in such a northern climate as that of 
Scotland, and where the twilight was of such long 
duration, it would be a profligate waste of the public 
money to employ it on any thing so little required 
as lamps were in our streets. 

He had come home from America in the summer 
time, and I reminded him, that it certainly could 
never be the intention of the magistrates to light 
the lamps all the year round; but that in the wint- 
er there was a great need of them; for in our north- 
ern climate the days were then very short, as he 
would soon experience, and might probably re- 
collect, But never, surely, was such an endless man 
195 



THE PROVOST 

created. For, upon this, he immediately rejoined, that 
the streets would be much more effectually lighted, 
than by all the lamps I proposed to put up, were the 
inhabitants ordered to sit with their window-shutters 
open. I really did not know what answer to make to 
such a proposal, but I saw it would never do to argue 
with him; so I held my tongue quietly, and as soon 
as possible, on a pretence of private business, left the 
meeting, not a little mortified to find such a contrary 
spirit had got in among us. 

After that meeting of the council, I went cannily 
round to all the other members, and represented to 
them, one by one, how proper it was that the lamps 
should be set up, both for a credit to the town, and 
as a conformity to the fashion of the age in every 
other place. And I took occasion to descant, at some 
length, on the untractable nature of Mr Hickery, 
and how it would be proper before the next meeting 
to agree to say nothing when the matter was again 
brought on the carpet, but just to come to the vote 
at once. Accordingly this was done, but it made no 
difference to Mr Hickery; on the contrary, he said, in 
a vehement manner, that he was sure there must be 
some corrupt understanding among us, otherwise a 
matterof such importance couldnothavebeendecid- 
edby a silent votejand at every session of the council, 
till some newmatterof difference cast up, he continu- 
ed cuckooing about the lamp-job, as he called it, till 

he had sickened every body out of all patience. 

196 



CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN 
THE PLAINSTONES 



CHAPTER XXVII THE PLAINSTONES 

THE FIRST QUESTION THAT CHANGED 
the bark of Mr Hickery, was my proposal for the side 
plainstones of the high street. In the new paving of 
the crown of the causey, some years before, the rise 
in the middle had been levelled to an equality with 
the side loans, and in disposing of the lamp-posts, it 
was thought advantageous to place them halfway 
from the houses and the syvers, between the loans 
and the crown of the causey, which had the effect at 
night, of making the people who were wont, in their 
travels and visitations, to keep the middle of the 
street, to diverge into the space and path between 
the lamp- posts and the houses. This, especially in wet 
weather, was attended with some disadvantages; for 
the pavement, close to the houses, was not well laid, 
and there being then no ronns to the houses, at every 
other place, particularly where the nepus-gables were 
towards the streets, the rain came gushing in aspout, 
like as if the windows of heaven were opened. And, 
in consequence, it began to be freely conversed, that 
there would be a great comfort in having the sides 
of the streets paved with flags, like the plainstones 
of Glasgow, and that an obligation should be laid on 
the landlords, to put up ronns to kepp the rain, and 
to conduct the water down in pipes by the sides of 
the houses; all which furnished Mr Hickery with 
fresh topics for his fasherie about the lamps, and was, 
as he said, proof and demonstration of that most im- 
199 



THE PROVOST 

politic, corrupt, and short-sighted job, the conse- 
quences of which would reach, in the shape of some 
new tax, every ramification of society; with divers 
other American argumentatives to the same effect. 
However, in process of time, by a judicious handling 
and the help of an advantageous free grassum, which 
we got for some of the town lands from Mr Shuttle- 
thrift the manufacturer, who was desirous to build a 
villa-house, we got the flagstone part of the project 
accomplished, and the landlords gradually, of their 
own free-will, put up the ronns, by which the town 
has been greatly improved and convenienced. 

But new occasions call for new laws; the side pave- 
ment, concentrating the people, required to be kept 
cleaner, and in better order, than when the whole 
width of the street was in use; so that the magistrates 
were constrained to make regulations concerning the 
same, and to enact fines and penalties against those 
who neglected to scrape and wash the plainstones 
forenent their houses, and to denounce, in the strict- 
est terms, the emptying of improper utensils on the 
same; and this, until the people had grown into the 
habitude of attending to the rules, gave rise to many 
pleas, and contentious appeals and bickerings, before 
the magistrates. Among others summoned before me 
for default, was one Mrs Fenton, commonly called 
the Tappit-hen, who kept a small change-house, not 
of the best repute, being frequented by young men, 

200 




FLORA 



THE PLAINSTONES 

of a station of life that gave her heart and counten- 
ance to be bardy, even to the bailies. It happened 
that, by some inattention, she had, one frosty morn- 
ing, neglected to soop her flags, and old Miss Peggy 
Dainty being early afoot, in passing her door com- 
mitted a false step, by treading on a bit of a lemon's 
skin, and her heels flying up, down she fell on her 
back, at full length, with a great cloyt. Mrs Fenton, 
hearing the accident, came running to the door, and 
seeing the exposure that perjink Miss Peggy had 
madeof herself,put her hands to her sides, and laugh- 
ed for some time as if she was by herself. Miss Peggy, 
being sorely hurt in the hinder parts,summoned Mrs 
Fenton before me, where the whole affair, both as to 
what was seen and heard, was so described, with 
name and surname, that I could not keep my com- 
posure. It was, however, made manifest, that Mrs 
Fenton had offended the law, in so much, as her flags 
had not been swept that morning; and therefore, to 
appease the offended delicacy of Miss Peggy, who 
was a most respectable lady in single life, I fined the 
delinquent five shillings. 

"Mr Pawkie," said the latheron, "I'll no pay't. 
Whar do ye expeck a widow woman like me can get 
five shillings for ony sic nonsense?" 

"Ye must not speak in that manner, honest wo- 
man," was my reply; "but just pay the fine." 

"In deed and truth, Mr Pawkie," quo she, "it's ill 
20 1 



THE PROVOST 

getting a breek off a highlandman. I'll pay no sic 
thing five shillings that's a story!" 

I thought I would have been constrained to send 
her to prison, the woman grew so bold and contu- 
macious, when Mr Hickery came in, and hearing 
what was going forward, was evidently working him- 
self up to take the randy's part; but fortunately she 
had a suspicion that all the town-council and magis- 
trates were in league against her, on account of the 
repute of her house, so that when he enquired of her 
where she lived, with a view, as I suspect, of inter- 
ceding, she turned to him, and with a leer and a laugh, 
said, "Dear me, Mr Hickery, I'm sure ye hae nae 
need to speer that!" 

The insinuation set up his birses; but she bam- 
boozled him with her banter, and raised such a laugh 
against him, that he was fairly driven from the coun- 
cil room, and I was myself obliged to let her go, 
without exacting the fine. 

Who would have thought that this affair was to 
prove to me the means of an easy riddance of Mr 
Hickery? But so it turned out; for whether or not 
there was any foundation for the traffickings with 
him which she pretended, he never could abide to 
hear the story alluded to, which, when I discerned, 
I took care, whenever he showed any sort of inclin- 
ation to molest the council with his propugnacity, to 
joke him about his bonny sweetheart, "the Tappit- 

2O2 



THE PLAINSTONES 

hen," and he instantly sangdumb,andquietly slipped 

away; by which it may be seen how curiously events 

come to pass, since, out of the very first cause of his 

thwarting me in the lamps, I found, inprocessof time, 

a way of silencing him far better than any sort 

of truth or reason. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT 
THE SECOND CROP OF VOLUNTEERS 



CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT 

THE SECOND CROP OF VOLUNTEERS 

I HAVE ALREADY RELATED, AT FULL 

length, many of the particulars anent the electing of 
the first set of volunteers; the which, by being ger- 
minated partly under the old system of public intro- 
mission, was done with more management and slight 
of art than the second. This, however, I will ever 
maintain, was not owing to any greater spirit of cor- 
ruption; but only and solely to following the ancient 
dexterous ways, that had been, in a manner, engrained 
with the very nature of every thing pertaining to the 
representation of government as it existed, not merely 
in burgh towns, but wheresoever the crown and mini- 
sters found it expedient to have their lion's paw. 

Matters were brought to a bearing differently, 
when, in the second edition of the late war, it was 
thought necessary to call on the people to resist the 
rampageous ambition of Bonaparte, then champing 
and trampling for the rich pastures of our national 
commonwealth. Accordingly, I kept myself aloof 
from all handling in the pecuniaries of the business; 
but I lent a friendly countenance to every feasible 
project that was likely to strengthen the confidence 
of the king in the loyalty and bravery of his people. 
For by this time I had learnt, that there was a wake- 
rife common sense abroad among the opinions of 
men; and that the secret of the new way of ruling the 
world was to follow, not to control, the evident dic- 
207 



THE PROVOST 

tates of the popular voice; and I soon had reason to 
felicitate myself on this prudent and seasonable dis- 
covery. For it won me great reverence among the for- 
ward young men, who started up at the call of their 
country; and their demeanour towards me was as to- 
kens and arles, from the rising generation, of being 
continued in respect and authority by them. Some of 
my colleagues, who are as well not named,by making 
themselves over busy, got but small thank for their 
pains. I was even preferred to the provost, as the me- 
dium of communicating the sentiments of the volun- 
teering lads to the lord-lieutenant; and their cause 
did not suffer in my hands, for his lordship had long 
been in the habit of considering me as one of the dis- 
creetest men in the burgh; and although he returned 
very civil answers to all letters, he wrote to me in the 
cordial erudition of an old friend a thing which the 
volunteers soon discerned, and respected me accord- 
ingly. 

But the soldiering zeal being spontaneous among 
all ranks,and breaking forth into a blaze without any 
pre-ordered method, some of the magistrates were 
disconcerted, and wist not what to do. I'll no take it 
upon me to say that they were altogether guided by 
a desire to have a ringer in the pie, either in the shape 
of the honours of command or the profits of contract. 
This,however, is certain, that they either felt or feign- 
ed a great alarm and consternation at seeing such a 

208 



THE SECOND CROP OF VOLUNTEERS 

vast military power in civil hands, over which they 
had no natural control; and, as was said, independent 
of the crown and parliament. Another thing there 
could be no doubt of: in the frame of this fear they re- 
monstrated with the government, and counselled the 
ministers to throw a wet blanket on the ardour of the 
volunteering, which, it is well known, was very readi- 
ly done; for the ministers, on seeing such a pressing 
forward to join the banners of the kingdom, had a 
dread and regard to the old leaven of Jacobinism, 
and put a limitation on the number of the armedmen 
thatwere to be allowed to rise in everyplace a most 
ill-advised prudence, as was made manifest by what 
happened among us, of which I will now rehearse the 
particulars, and the part I had in it myself. 

As soon as it was understood among the common- 
ality that the French were determined to subdue and 
make a conquest of Britain, as they had done of all 
the rest of Europe, holding the noses of every conti- 
nental king and potentate to the grindstone, there 
was aprodigious stir and motion in all the hearts and 
pulses of Scotland, and no where in a more vehement 
degree thaninGudetown. But, for some reason or an 
other which I could never dive into the bottom of, 
there was a slackness or backwardness on the part of 
government in sending instructions to the magis- 
trates to step forward; in so much that the people 
grew terrified that they would be conquered, without 
209 O 



THE PROVOST 

having even an opportunity to defend, as their fathers 
did of old, the hallowed things of their native land; 
and,under the sense of this alarm.they knotted them- 
selves together, and actually drew out proposals and 
resolutions of service of their own accord; by which 
means they kept the power of choosing their officers 
in their own hands, and so gave many of the big-wigs 
of the town a tacit intimation that they were not 
likely to have the command. 

While things were in this process, the government 
had come to its senses; and some steps and measures 
were taken to organize volunteer corps throughout 
the nation. Taking heart from them, other corps were 
proposed on the part of the gentry, in which they 
were themselves to have the command; and seeing 
that the numbers were to be limited, they had a wish 
and interest to keep back the real volunteer offers, 
and to get their own accepted in their stead. A sus- 
picion of this sort getting vent, an outcry of discon- 
tent thereat arose against them; and to the constern- 
ation of the magistrates, the young lads, who had at 
the first come so briskly forward, called a meeting of 
their body, and, requesting the magistrates to be 
present, demanded to know what steps had been 
taken with their offer of service; and, if transmitted 
to government, what answer had been received. 

This was a new era in public affairs; and no little 
amazement and anger was expressed by some of the 

210 



THE SECOND CROP OF VOLUNTEERS 

town-council, that any set of persons should dare to 
question and interfere with the magistrates. But I 
saw it would never do to take the bull by the horns in 
that manner at such a time; so I commenced with 
Bailie Sprose,my lord being at the time provost, and 
earnestly beseeched him to attend the meeting with 
me, and to give a mild answer to any questions that 
might be put; and this was the more necessary, as 
there was some good reason to believe, that, in point 
of fact, the offer of service had been kept back. 

We accordingly went to the meeting, where Mr 
Sprose, at my suggestion, stated, that we had received 
no answer; and that we could not explain how the 
delay had arisen. This, however, did not pacify the 
volunteers; but they appointed certain of their own 
number, a committee, to attend to the business, and 
to communicate with the secretary of state direct; in- 
timating, that the members of the committee were 
those whom they intended to elect for their officers. 
This was a decisive step, and took the business en- 
tirely out of the hands of the magistrates; so,afterthe 
meeting, both Mr Sprose and myself agreed, that no 
time should be lost in communicating to the lord- 
lieutenant what had taken place. 

Our letter, and the volunteers' letter, went by the 
same post; and on receiving ours, the lord-lieutenant 
had immediately some conference with the secretary 
of state, who, falling into the views of his lordship, in 

211 



THE PROVOST 

preferring the offers of the corps proposed by the 
gentry, sent the volunteers word in reply, that their 
services, on the terms they had proposed, which were 
of the least possible expense to government, could 
not be accepted. 

Itwas hoped that this answer would have ended the 
matter; but there were certain propugnacious spirits 
inthevolunteers'committee; and they urged and per- 
suaded the others to come into resolutions, to the 
effect that, having made early offers of service, on 
terms less objectionable in every point than those of 
many offers subsequently made and accepted, unless 
their offer was accepted, they would consider them- 
selves as having the authority of his majesty's gov- 
ernment to believe and to represent, that there was, 
in truth, no reason to apprehend that theenemy medi- 
tated any invasion; and these resolutions they sent 
off to London forthwith, before the magistrates had 
time to hear or to remonstrate against the use of 
such novel language from our burgh to his majesty's 
ministers. 

We, however, heard something; and I wrote my 
lord, to inform him that the volunteers had renewed 
their offer, (for so we understood their representation 
was;) and he, from what he had heard before from the 
secretary of state, not expecting the effect it would 
have, answered me, that their offer could not be ac- 
cepted. But to our astonishment, by the same post, 

212 



THE SECOND CROP OF VOLUNTEERS 

the volunteers found themselves accepted, and the 
gentlemen they recommended for their officers gazet- 
ted; the which, as I tell frankly, was an admonition 
to me, that the peremptory will of authority was no 
longer sufficient for the rule of mankind; and, there- 
fore, I squared my after conduct more bya deference 
to public opinion,than byanylaid down maxims and 
principles of my own; the consequence of which was, 
that my influence still continued to grow and gather 
strength in the community, and I was enabled to ac- 
complish many things that my predecessors would 
have thought it was almost beyond the compass of 
man to undertake. 



CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE 
CAPTAIN ARMOUR 



CHAPTER XXIX CAPTAIN ARMOUR 

IN THE COURSE OF THESE NOTANDUMS, 

I have, here and there, touched on divers matters that 
did not actually pertain to my own magisterial life, 
further than as showing the temper and spirit in which 
different things were brought to a bearing; and, in 
the same way, I will now again step aside from the 
regular course of public affairs, to record an occur- 
rence which, at the time, excited no small wonder- 
ment and sympathy, and in which it was confessed 
by many that I performed a very judicious part. The 
event here spoken of, was the quartering in the town, 
after the removal of that well-behaved regiment, the 
Argyle fencibles, the main part of another, the name 
and number of which I do not now recollect; but it 
was an English corps, and, like the other troops of 
that nation, was not then brought into the sobriety 
of discipline to which the whole British army has since 
been reduced, by the paternal perseverance of his 
Royal Highness the Duke of York; so that, after the 
douce and respectful Highlanders, we sorely felt the 
consequences of the outstropolous and galravitching 
Englishers, who thought it no disgrace to fill them- 
selves as fou as pipers, and fight in the streets, and 
march to the church on the Lord's day with their 
band of music. However, after the first Sunday, upon 
a remonstrance on the immorality of such irreligious 
bravery, Colonel Cavendish, the commandant, sil- 
enced the musicians. 
217 



THE PROVOST 

Among the officers, there was one Captain Armour, 
an extraordinar well demeaned, handsome man, who 
was very shy of accepting any civility from the town 
gentry, and kept himself aloof from all our ploys and 
entertainments, in such a manner, that the rest of the 
officers talked of him, marvelling at the cause, for it 
was not his wont in other places. 

One Sabbath, during the remembering prayer, Mr 
Pittle put up a few words for criminals under sen- 
tence of death, there being two at the time in the Ayr 
jail, at the which petition I happened to look at Cap- 
tain Armour, who, with the lave of the officers, were 
within the magistrates' loft, and I thought he had, at 
the moment, a likeness to poor Jeanie Gaisling, that 
was executed for the murder of her bastard bairn. 

This notion at the time disturbed me very much, 
and one thought after another so came into my head, 
that I could pay no attention to Mr Pittle, who cer- 
tainly was but a cauldrife preacher, and never more 
so than on that day. In short, I was haunted with the 
fancy, that Captain Armour was no other than the 
misfortunate lassie's poor brother, who had in so 
pathetical a manner attended her and the magistrates 
to the scaffold; and, what was very strange, I was not 
the only one in the kirk who thought the same thing; 
for the resemblance, while Mr Pittle was praying, 
had been observed by many; and it was the subject 
of discourse in my shop on the Monday following, 

218 



CAPTAIN ARMOUR 

when the whole history of that most sorrowful con- 
cern was again brought to mind. But, without dwell- 
ingatlargeontheparticularities, I need only mention, 
that it began to be publicly jealoused that he was in- 
deed the identical lad, which moved every body; for 
he was a very good and gallant officer, having risen 
by his own merits, and was likewise much beloved in 
the regiment. Nevertheless, though his sister's sin 
was no fault of his, and could not impair the worth 
of his well-earned character, yet some of the thought- 
less young ensigns began to draw off from him, and 
he was visited, in a manner, with the disgrace of an 
excommunication. 

Being, however, a sensible man, he bore it for a 
while patiently, may be hoping that the suspicion 
would wear away; but my lord, with all his retinue* 
coming from London to the castle for the summer, 
invited the officers one day to dine with him and the 
countess, when the fact was established by a very 
simple accident. 

Captain Armour, in going up the stairs, and along 
the crooked old passages of the castle, happened to 
notice that the colonel, who was in the van, turned 
to the wrong hand, and called to him to take the 
other way, which circumstance convinced all present 
that he was domestically familiar with the laby- 
rinths of the building; and the consequence was, 
that, during dinner, not one of the officers spoke 
219 



THE PROVOST 

to him, some from embarrassment and others from 
pride. 

The earl perceiving their demeanour, enquired of 
the colonel, when they had returned from the table to 
the drawing-room, as to the cause of such a visible 
alienation, and Colonel Cavendish, who was much of 
the gentleman, explaining it,expressinghis grief that 
so unpleasant a discovery had been made to the pre- 
judice of so worthy a man, my lord was observed to 
stand some time in a thoughtful posture, after which 
he went and spoke in a whisper to the countess, who 
advised him, as her ladyship in the sequel told me 
herself, to send for me, as a wary and prudent man. 
Accordingly a servant was secretly dispatched ex- 
press to the town on that errand; my lord and my 
lady insisting on the officers staying to spend the 
evening with them, which was an unusual civility at 
the pio forma dinners at the castle. 

When I arrived, the earl took me into his private 
library, and we had some serious conversation about 
the captain's sister; and, when I had related the cir- 
cumstantialities of her end to him,he sent forthe cap- 
tain, and with great tenderness, and a manner most 
kind and gracious, told him what he had noticed in 
the conduct of the officers, offering his mediation to 
appease any difference, if it was a thing that could be 
done. 

While my lord was speaking, the captain preserv- 

220 



CAPTAIN ARMOUR 

ed a steady and unmoved countenance: no one could 
have imagined that he was listening to any thing but 
some grave generality of discourse; but when the earl 
offered to mediate, his breast swelled, and his face 
grew like his coat, and I saw his eyes fill with water 
as he turned round, to hide the grief that could not 
be stifled. The passion of shame, however, lasted but 
for a moment. In less time than I am in writing these 
heads, he was again himself, and with a modest forti- 
tude that was exceedingly comely, he acknowledged 
who he was, adding, that he feared his blameless dis- 
grace entailed effects which he could not hope to re- 
move, and therefore it was his intention to resign his 
commission. The earl, however, requested that he 
would do nothing rashly, and that he should first al- 
low him to try what could be done to convince his 
brother officers that it was unworthy of them to act 
towards him in the way they did. His lordship then 
led us to the drawing-room, on entering which, he 
said aloud to thecountess, in a manner that could not 
be misunderstood, "In Captain Armour I have dis- 
covered an old acquaintance, who by his own merits, 
and under circumstances that would have sunk any 
man less conscious of his own purity and worth, has 
raised himself, from having once been my servant, to 
a rank that makes me happy to receive him as my 
guest." 

I need not add, that this benevolence of his lord- 

221 



THE PROVOST 

ship was followed with a most bountiful alteration 
towards the captain from all present, in so much that, 
before the regiment was removed from the town, we 
had the satisfaction of seeing him at divers of the 
town-ploys, where he received every civility. 



CHAPTER THIRTY 
THE TRADES' BALL 



CHAPTER XXX THE TRADES' BALL 

AT THE CONCLUSION OF MY SECOND 
provostry, or rather, as I think, after it was over, an 
accident happened in the town that might have led 
to no little trouble and contention but for the way 
and manner that I managed the same. My friend and 
neighbour, Mr Kilsyth, an ettling man, who had been 
wonderful prosperous in the spirit line, having been 
taken on for a bailie, by virtue of some able handling 
on the part of Deacon Kenitweel, proposed and pro- 
pounded, that there should be a ball and supper for 
the trades; and to testify his sense of the honour that 
he owed to all the crafts, especially the wrights, 
whereof Mr Kenitweel was then deacon, he promised 
to send in both wine, rum, and brandy, from his cellar, 
for the company. I did not much approve of the pro- 
ject, for divers reasons; the principal of which was, 
because mydaughters were grown into young ladies, 
and I was, thank God, in a circumstance to entitle 
them to hold their heads something above the trades. 
However, I could not positively refuse my compli- 
ance, especially as Mrs Pavvkie was requested by 
Bailie Kilsyth, and those who took an active part in 
furtherance of the ploy, to be the lady directress of 
the occasion. And, out of an honour and homage to 
myself, I was likewise entreated to preside at the 
head of the table, over the supper that was to ensue 
after the dancing. 

In its own nature, there was surely nothing of an 
225 ? 



THE PROVOST 

objectionable principle, in a "trades' ball;" but we 
had several young men of the gentle sort about the 
town, blythe and rattling lads, who were welcome 
both to high and low, and to whom the project seem- 
ed worthy of a ridicule. It would,as I said at the time, 
have been just as well to have made it really a trades' 
ball, without any adulteration of the gentry; but the 
hempies alluded tojouked themselves in upon us, and 
obligated the managers to invite them; and an ill re- 
turn they made for this discretion and civility, as I 
have to relate. 

On the nightset for the occasion, the company met 
in the assembly-room, in the New-inns, where we had 
bespoke a light genteel supper, and had M'Lachlan, 
the fiddler, over from Ayr, for the purpose. Nothing 
could be better while the dancing lasted; the whole 
concern wore an appearance of the greatest genteeli- 
ty. But when supper was announced, and the com- 
pany adjourned to partake of it, judge of the univer- 
sal consternation that was visible in every counten- 
ance, when, instead of the light tarts, and nice jellies 
and sillybobs that were expected, we beheld a long 
table, with a row down the middle of rounds of beef, 
large cold veal-pies on pewter plates like tea-trays, 
cold boiled turkeys, and beef and bacon hams, and, 
for ornament in the middle, a perfect stack of celery. 

The instant I entered the supper-room, I sawthere 
had been a plot: poor Bailie Kilsyth, who had all the 

226 



THE TRADES' BALL 

night been in triumph and glory, was for a season 
speechless; and when at last he came to himself, he 
was like to have been the death of the landlord on the 
spot; while I could remark, with the tail of my eye, 
that secret looks of a queer satisfaction were ex- 
changed among the beaux before mentioned. This 
observe, when I made it, led me to go up to the bailie 
as hewasstormingat the bribed and corruptinnkeep- 
er, and to say to him, that if he would leave the mat- 
ter to me, I would settle it to the content of all pre- 
sent; which he, slackening the grip he had taken 
of the landlord by the throat, instantly conceded. 
Whereupon,! went back to the head of the table,and 
said aloud, "that the cold collection had been provid- 
ed by some secret friends, and although it was not 
just what the directors could have wished, yet it 
would be as well to bring to mind the old proverb, 
which instructs us no to be particular about the 
mouth of a gi'en horse." But I added, "before partak- 
ingthereof,wel'llhae in our bill frae the landlord, and 
settle it," and it was called accordingly. I could dis- 
cern, that this was a turn that the conspirators did 
not look for. It, however, put the company a thought 
into spirits, and they made the best o't. But, while 
they were busy at the table, I took a canny oppor- 
tunity of saying, under the rose to one of the gentle- 
men, "that 1 saw through the joke, and could relish 
it just as well as the plotters; but as the thing was so 
227 



THE PROVOST 

plainly felt as an insult by the generality of the com- 
pany, the less that was said about it the better; and 
that if the whole bill, including the cost of Bailie 
Kilsyth's wine and spirits, was defrayed, I would 
make no enquiries, and the authors might never be 
known. This admonishment was not lost, for by-and- 
by, I saw the gentleman confabbing together; and the 
next morning, through the post, I received a twenty- 
pound note in a nameless letter, requesting the a- 
mount of it to be placed against the expense of the 
ball. I was overly well satisfied with this to say a 
great deal of what I thought, but I took a quiet step 
to the bank, where, expressing some doubt of the 
goodness of the note, I was informed it was perfectly 
good, and had been that very day issued from the 
bankto one of the gentlemen, whom, even at thisday, 
it would not be prudent to expose to danger by 
naming. 

Upon a consultation with the other gentlemen, 
who had the management of the ball, it was agreed, 
that we should say nothing of the gift of twenty 
pounds, but distribute it in the winter to needful fa- 
milies, which was done; for we feared that the authors 
of the derision would be found out, and that ill-blood 
might be bred in the town. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE 
THE BAILIE'S HEAD 



CHAPTER XXXI THE BAILIE'S HEAD 

BUT ALTHOUGH IN THE MAIN I WAS CON- 

sidered by the events and transactions already re- 
hearsed, a prudent and sagacious man, yet I was not 
free from the consequences of envy. To be sure, they 
were not manifested in any very intolerant spirit, and 
in so far they caused me rather molestation of mind 
than actual suffering; but still they kithed in evil, and 
thereby marred the full satisfactory fruition of my 
labours and devices. Among other of the outbreak- 
ings alluded to that not a little vexed me, was one 
that I will relate, and just in order here to show the 
animus of men's minds towards me. 

We had in the town a clever lad, with a geni of a 
mechanical turn, who made punch-bowls of leather, 
and legs for cripples of the same commodity, that 
were lighter and easier to wear than either legs of 
cork or timber. His name was Geordie Sooplejoint, 
a modest, douce, and well-behaved young man car- 
ing for little else but the perfecting of his art. I had 
heard of his talent, and was curious to converse with 
him; so I spoke to Bailie Pirlet, who had taken him 
by the hand, to bringhim andhis leather punch-bowl, 
and some of his curious legs and arms, to let me see 
them; the which the bailie did, and it happened that 
while they were with me, in came Mr Thomas 
M'Queerie, a dry neighbour at a joke. 

After some generality of discourse concerning the 
inventions, whereon Bailie Pirlet, who was naturally 

231 



THE PROVOST 

a gabby prick-me-dainty body, enlarged at great 
length, with all his well dockit words, as if they were 
on chandler's pins, pointing out here the utility of the 
legs to persons maimed in the wars of their country, 
and showing forth there in what manner the punch- 
bowls were specimens of a new art that might in time 
supplant both China and Staffordshire ware, and de- 
ducing therefrom the benefits that would come out of 
it to the country at large, and especially to the landed 
interest, in so much as the increased demand which 
it would cause for leather, would raise the value of 
hides, and per consequence the price of black cattle 
to all which Mr M'Queerie listened with a shrewd 
and a thirsty ear; and when the bailie had made an end 
of his paternoster, he proposed that I should make a 
filling of Geordie's bowl, to try if it did not leak. 

"Indeed, Mr Pawkie," quo' he, "it will be a great 
credit to our town to hae had the merit o' producing 
sic a clever lad, who, as the bailie has in a manner de- 
monstrated, is ordained to bring about an augment- 
ation o' trade byhis punch-bowls,little short of what 
has been done wi' the steam-engines. Geordie will be 
to us what James Watt is to the ettling town of Gree- 
nook, so we can do no less than drink prosperity to 
his endeavours." 

I did not muchlike this banteringof Mr M'Queerie, 
for I saw it made Geordie's face grow red, and it was 
not what he had deserved; so to repress it, and to en- 

232 



THE BAILIE'S HEAD 

courage the poor lad, I said, "Come, come, neigh- 
bour, none of your wipes what Geordie has done, is 
but arles of what he may do." 

"That's no to be debated," replied Mr M'Queerie, 
"for he has shown already that he can make very 
good legs and arms; and I'm sure I shouldna be sur- 
prised were he in time to make heads as good as a 
bailie's." 

I never saw any mortal man look as that pernick- 
ity personage, the bailie, did at this joke, but I sup- 
pressed my own feelings; while the bailie, like a ban- 
tam cock in a passion, stotted out of his chair with the 
spunk of a birslet pea, demanding of Mr M'Queerie 
an explanation of what he meant by the insinuation. 
Itwaswithgreatdifficultythatl got him pacified;but 
unfortunately the joke was oure good to be forgotten, 
and when it was afterwards spread abroad, as it hap- 
pened to take its birth in my house, it was laid to my 
charge, and many a time was I obligated to tell all a- 
bout it, and how it couldna be meant for me, but had 
been incurred by Bailie Pirlet's conceit of spinning 
out long perjink speeches. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO 
THE TOWN DRUMMER 



XXXII THE TOWN DRUMMER 

NOR DID I GET EVERY THING MY OWN 
way, for I was often thwarted in matters of small ac- 
count, and suffered from them greater disturbance 
and molestation than things of such little moment 
ought to have been allowed to produce within me; 
and I do not think that any thing happened in the 
whole course of my public life, which gave me more 
vexation than what I felt in the last week of my sec- 
ond provostry. 

For many a year, one Robin Boss had been town 
drummer; he was a relic of some American-war fen- 
cibles, and was, to say the God's truth of him, a divor 
body, with no manner of conduct, saving a very ear- 
nest endeavour to fill himself fou as often as he could 
get the means; the consequence of which was, that his 
face was as plooky as a curran' bun, and his nose as 
red as a partan's tae. 

One afternoon there was a need to send out a pro- 
clamation to abolish a practice that was growing into 
a custom, in some of the bye parts of the town, of 
keeping swine at large ordering them to be confin- 
ed in proper styes, and other suitable places. As on 
all occasions when the matter to be proclaimed was 
from the magistrates, Thomas, on this, was attend- 
ed by the town-officers in their Sunday garbs, and 
with their halberts in their hands; but the abomin- 
able and irreverent creature was so drunk, that he 
wamblet to and fro over the drum, as if there had not 
237 



THE PROVOST 

been a bane in his body. He was seemingly as soople 
and as senseless as a bolster. Still, as this was no 
new thing with him, it might have passed; for James 
Hound, the senior officer, was in the practice, when 
Robin was in that state, of reading the proclamations 
himself. On this occasion, however, James happen- 
ed to be absent on some hue and cry quest, and an- 
other of the officers (I forget which) was appointed to 
perform for him. Robin, accustomed to James, no 
sooner heard the other man begin to read, than he 
began to curse and swear at him as an incapable nin- 
compoop an impertinent term that he was much 
addicted to. The grammar school was at the time 
skailing, and the boys seeing the stramash, gathered 
round the officer, and yellingand shouting, encourag- 
ed Robin more and more into rebellion, till at last 
they worked up his corruption to such a pitch, that 
he took the drum from about his neck, and made 
it fly like a bombshell at the officer's head. 

The officers behaved very well, for they dragged 
Robin by the lug and the horn to the tolbooth, and 
then came with their complaint to me. Seeing how 
the authorities had been set at nought, and the ne- 
cessity there was of making an example, I forthwith 
ordered Robin to be cashiered from the service of 
the town; and as so important a concern as a procla- 
mation ought not to be delayed, I likewise, upon the 
spot, ordered the officers to take a lad that had been 

238 



THE TOWN DRUMMER 

also a drummer in a marching regiment, and go with 
him to make the proclamation. 

Nothing could be done in a more earnest and zeal- 
ous public spirit than this was done by me. But habit 
had begot in the town a partiality for the drunken 
ne'er-do-well, Robin; and this just act of mine was 
immediately condemned as a daring stretch of arbit- 
rary power; and the consequence was, that when the 
council met next day, some sharp words flew from a- 
mong us, as to my usurping an undue authority; and 
the thank I got for my pains was the mortification to 
see the worthless body restored to full power and dig- 
nity, with no other reward than an admonition to be- 
have better for the future. Now, I leave it to the un- 
biassed judgment of posterity to determine if any 
public man could be more ungraciously treated by 
his colleagues than I was on this occasion. But, verily, 
the council had their reward. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE 
AN ALARM 



CHAPTER XXXIII AN ALARM 

THE DIVOR, ROBIN BOSS, BEING, AS I 
have recorded, reinstated in office,soon began to play 
his old tricks. In the course of the week after the 
Michaelmas term at which my second provostry end- 
ed, he was so insupportably drunk that he fell head 
foremost into his drum, which cost the townfive-and- 
twenty shillings for a new one an accident that was 
not without some satisfaction to me; and I trow I was 
not sparing in my derisive commendations on the 
worth of such a public officer. Nevertheless, he was 
still kept on, some befriending him for compassion, 
and others as it were to spite me. 

But Robin's good behaviourdid not end with break- 
ing the drum, and costing a new one. In the course 
of the winter it was his custom to beat, " Go to bed, 
Tom," about ten o'clock at night, and the reveille at 
five in the morning. In one of his drunken fits he 
made a mistake, and instead of going his rounds as 
usual at ten o'clock, he had fallen asleep in a change 
house, and waking about the midnight hour in the 
terror of some whisky dream, he seized his drum, and 
running into the streets, began to strike the fire-beat 
in the most awful manner. 

It was a fine clear frosty moonlight, and the hollow 
sound of the drum resounded through thesilent streets 
like thunder. In a moment every body was a-foot, 
and the cry of " Whar is't? whar's the fire? "was heard 
echoing from all sides. Robin, quite unconscious 
243 



THE PROVOST 

that he alone was the cause of the alarm, still went 
along beating the dreadful summons. I heard the 
noise and rose; but while I was drawing on my stock- 
ings, in the chair at the bed-head, and telling Mrs 
Pawkie to compose herself, for our houses were all 
insured, I suddenly recollected that Robin had the 
night before neglected to go his rounds at ten o'clock 
as usual, and the thought came into my head that 
the alarm might be one of his inebriated mistakes; 
so, instead of dressing myself any further, I went to 
the window, and looked out through the glass, with- 
out opening it, for, being in my night clothes, I was 
afraid of taking cold. 

The street was as throng as on a market day, and 
every face in the moonlight was pale with fear. Men 
and lads were running with their coats, and carrying 
their breeches in their hands; wives and maidens were 
all asking questions at one another, and even lasses 
were fleeing to and fro, like water nymphs with urns, 
having stoups and pails in their hands. There was 
swearing and tearing of men, hoarse with the rage of 
impatience,atthetolbooth, getting out the fire-engine 
from its stance under the stair; and loud and terrible 
afar off, and over all, came the peal of alarm from 
drunken Robin's drum. 

I could scarcely keep my composity when I beheld 
and heard all this, for I was soon thoroughly per- 
suaded of the fact. At last I saw Deacon Girdwood, 

244 



AN ALARM 

the chief advocate and champion of Robin, passing 
down the causey like a demented man, with a red 
nightcap, and his big-coat on for some had cried 
that the fire was in his yard. "Deacon,"cried I, open- 
ing the window, forgetting in the jocularity of the 
moment the risk I ran from being so naked, "whar 
away sae fast, deacon?" 

The deacon stopped and said, "Is't out? is't out?" 

"Gang your ways home," quo' I very coolly, "for I 
hae a notion that a' this hobleshow's but the fume of 
a gill in your friend Robin's head." 

"It's no possible!" exclaimed the deacon. 

"Possible here or possible there, Mr Gird wood," 
quo' I, "it'soure cauld for me to stand talking wi j you 
here; we'll learn the rights o't in the morning; so, 
good-night; " and with that I pulled down the window. 
But scarcely had I done so, when a shout of laughter 
came gathering up the street, and soon after poor 
drunken Robin was brought along by the cuff of the 
neck, between two of the town-officers, one of them 
carrying his drum. The next day he was put out of 
office for ever, and folk recollecting in what manner 
I had acted towards him before, the outcry about my 
arbitrary power was forgotten in the blame that was 
heaped upon those who had espoused Robin's cause 
against me. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR 
THE COUNTRY GENTRY 






XXXIV THE COUNTRY GENTRY 

FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME, I HAD OB- 
served that there was a gradual mixing in of the 
country gentry among the town's folks. This was 
partly to be ascribed to a necessity rising out of the 
French Revolution, whereby men of substance 
thought it an expedient policy to relax in their 
ancient maxims of family pride and consequence; 
and partly to the great increase and growth of wealth 
which the influxof trade caused throughout the king- 
dom, whereby the merchants were enabled to vie and 
ostentate even with the better sort of lairds. The 
effect of this, however, was less protuberant in our 
town than in many others which I might well name, 
and the cause thereof lay mainly in our being more 
given to deal in the small way; not that we lacked of 
traders possessed both of purse and perseverance; 
but we did not exactly lie in the thoroughfare of 
those mighty masses of foreign commodities, the 
throughgoing of which left, to use the words of the 
old proverb, "goud in goupins" with all who had the 
handling of the same. Nevertheless, we came in for 
ourshareof the condescensionsofthecountry gentry; 
and although there was nothing like a melting down 
of them among us, either by marrying or giving in 
marriage, there was a communion that gave us some 
insight, no overly to their advantage, as to the extent 
and measure of their capacities and talents. In short, 
we discovered that they were vessels made of ordin- 
249 



THE PROVOST 

ary human clay; so that, instead of our reverence for 
them being augmented by a freer intercourse, we 
thought less and less of them, until, poor bodies, the 
bit prideful lairdies were just looked down upon by 
our gawsie big-bellied burgesses, not a few of whom 
had heritable bonds on their estates. But in this I am 
speaking of the change when it had come to a full 
head; for in verity it must be allowed that when the 
country gentry, with their families,began to intromit 
among us, we could not make enough of them. In- 
deed, wewere deaved about the affability of old crab- 
bit Bodle of Bodletonbrae, and his sister, Miss Jenny, 
when they favoured us with their company at the first 
inspection ball. I'll ne'er forgot that occasion; for 
being then in my second provostry, I had, in course 
of nature, been appointed a deputy lord-lieutenant, 
and the town-council entertaining the inspecting 
officers, and the officers of the volunteers, it fell as a 
duty incumbent on me to be the director of the ball 
afterwards, and to the which I sent an invitation to 
the laird and his sister,little hopingorexpectingthey 
would come. But the laird, likewise being a deputy 
lord-lieutenant, he accepted the invitation, and came 
with his sister in all the state of pedigree in their 
power. Such a prodigy of old-fashioned grandeur as 
Miss Jenny was! but neither shop nor mantuamaker 
of our day and generation had been the better o't. 
She was just, as some of the young lasses said, like 

250 



THE COUNTRY GENTRY 

Clarissa Harlowe, in the cuts and copperplates of 
Mrs Rickerton's set of the book, and an older and 
more curious set than Mrs Rickerton's was not in the 
whole town; indeed, for that matter, I believe it was 
the only one among us, and it had edified, as Mr 
Binder the bookseller used to say, at least three suc- 
cessive generations of young ladies, for he had him- 
self given it twice new covers. We had, however, not 
then any circulating library. But for all her antiquity 
and lappets,it is not to be supposed what respect and 
deference Miss Jenny and her brother, the laird, re- 
ceived nor the small praise that came to my share, 
for having had the spirit to invite them. The ball was 
spoken of as the genteelest in the memory of man, 
although to my certain knowledge, on account of the 
volunteers, some were there that never thought to 
mess or mell in the same chamber withBodletonbrae 
and his sister, Miss Jenny. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE 
TESTS OF SUCCESS 



CHAPTER XXXV TESTS OF SUCCESS 

INTENDING THESE NOTATIONS FOR 

the instruction of posterity, it would not be altogether 
becomingofme to speak of thedomestic effectswhich 
manyof thethings that I have herein jotted down had 
in my own family. I feel myself, however, constrained 
in spirit to lift aside a small bit of the private curtain, 
just to show how Mrs Pawkie comported herself in 
the progressive vicissitudes of our prosperity, in the 
act and doing of which I do not wish to throw any 
slight on her feminine qualities; for, to speak of her 
as she deserves at my hand, she has been a most ex- 
cellent wife, and a decent woman, and had aye a ruth 
and ready hand for the needful. Still, to say the truth, 
she is not without a few little weaknesses like her 
neighbours, and the ill-less vanity of being thought far 
ben with the great is among others of her harmless 
frailities. 

Soon after the inspection ball before spoken of, she 
said to me that it would be a great benefit and advan- 
tage to our family if we could get Bodletonbrae and 
his sister, and some of the other country gentry, to 
dine with us. I was notveryclear about howthe bene- 
fit was to come to book, for the outlay I thought as 
likely o'ergang the profit; at the same time, not wish- 
ing to baulk Mrs Pawkie of a ploy on which I saw her 
mind was bent, I gave my consent to her and my 
daughters to send out the cards, and make the neces- 
sary preparations. But herein I should not take ere- 
255 



THE PROVOST 

dit to myself for more of the virtue of humility than 
was my due; therefore I open the door of my secret 
heart so far ajee,as to let the reader discern that I was 
content to hear our invitations were all accepted. 

Of the specialities and dainties of the banquet pre- 
pared, it is not fitting that I should treat in any more 
particular manner, than to say they were the best that 
could be had, and that our guests were all mightily 
well pleased. Indeed, my wife was out of the body 
with exultation when Mrs Auchans of that Ilk beg- 
ged that she would let her have a copy of the direc- 
tions she had followed in making a flummery, which 
the whole company declared was most excellent. 
This compliment was the more pleasant, as Lady 
Auchans was well known for her skill in savoury con- 
trivances, and to have anything new to her of the sort 
was a triumph beyond our most sanguine expect- 
ations. In a word, from that day we found that we had 
taken, as it were, a step above the common in the 
town. There were, no doubt, some who envied our 
good fortune; but, upon the whole, the community at 
large were pleased to see the consideration in which 
their chief magistrate was held. It reflected down, as 
it were, upon themselves a glaik of the sunshine that 
shone upon us; and although it may be a light thing, 
as it is seemingly a vain one, to me to say, I am now 
pretty much of Mrs Pawkie's opinion, that our culti- 
vation of an intercourse with the country gentry was, 

256 



THE TESTS OF SUCCESS 

in the end, a benefit to our family, in so far as it ob- 
tained, both for my sons and daughters, a degree of 
countenance that otherwise could hardly have been 
expected from their connexions and fortune, even 
though I had been twice provost. 



R 



CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX 
RETRIBUTION 



CHAPTER XXXVI RETRIBUTION 

BUT A SAD ACCIDENT SHORTLY AFTER 

happened, which had the effect of making it as little 
pleasant to me to vex Mr Hickery with a joke about 
the Tappit-hen, as it was to him. Widow Fenton, as 
I have soberly hinted; for it is not a subject to be 
openly spoken of, had many ill-assorted and irregular 
characters among her customers; and a gang of play- 
actors coming to the town, and getting leave to per- 
form in Mr Dribble's barn, batches of the young lads, 
both gentle and semple,when the play was over,used 
to adjourn to her house for pies and porter, the com- 
modities in which she chiefly dealt. One night, when 
the deep tragedy of Mary Queen of Scots was the 
play, there was a great concourse of people at "The 
Theatre Royal," and the consequence was, that the 
Tappit-hen's house, both but and ben, was, at the 
conclusion, filled to overflowing. 

The actress that played Queen Elizabeth, was a 
little-worth termagant woman, and, in addition to 
other laxities of conduct, was addicted to the im- 
morality of taking more than did her good, and when 
in her cups, she would rant and ring fiercer than old 
Queen Elizabeth evercould do herself. Queen Mary's 
part was done by a bonny genty young lady, that was 
said to have run away from a boarding-school, and, 
by all accounts, she acted wonderful well. But she too 
was not altogether without a flaw, so that there was 
a division in the town between their admirers and 
261 



THE PROVOST 

visiters; some maintaining, as I was told, that Mrs 
Beaufort, if she would keep herself sober, was not 
only a finer woman, but more of a lady, and a better 
actress, than Miss Scarborough, while others consid- 
ered her as a vulgar regimental virago. 

The play of Mary Queen of Scots, causing a great 
congregation of the rival partizans of the two ladies 
to meet in the Tappit-hen's public, some contention 
took place about the merits of their respective favour- 
ites, and, from less to more, hands were raised, and 
blows given, and the trades'-lads, being as hot in their 
differences as the gentlemen, a dreadful riot ensued. 
Gillstoups, porter bottles, and penny pies flew like 
balls and bomb-shells in battle. Mrs Fenton,with her 
mutch off, and her hair loose, with wide and wild 
arms, like a witch in a whirlwind, was seen trying to 
sunder the challengers, and the champions. Finding, 
however, her endeavours unavailing, and fearing that 
murder would be committed, she ran like desper- 
ation into the streets, crying for help. I was just at the 
time stepping into my bed, when I heard the uproar, 
and, dressing myself again, I went out to the street; 
for the sound and din of the riot came raging through 
the silence of the midnight, like" the tearing and 
swearing of the multitude at a house on fire, and I 
thought no less an accident could be the cause. 

On going into the street, I met several persons run- 
ning to the scene of action, and, among others, Mrs 

262 



RETRIBUTION 

Beaufort, with a gallant of her own, and both of them 
no in their sober senses. It's no for me to say who he 
was; but assuredly, had the woman no been doited 
with drink, she never would have seen any likeness 
between him and me, for he was more than twenty 
years my junior. However, onward we all ran to Mrs 
Fenton's house, where the riot, like a raging caldron 
boiling o'er, had overflowed into the street. 

The moment I reached the door, I ran forward 
with my stick raised, but not with any design of 
striking man, woman, or child, when a ramplor devil, 
the young laird of Swinton, who was one of the most 
outstrapolous rakes about the town, wrenched it out 
of my grip, and would have, I dare say, made no 
scruple of doing me some dreadful bodily harm, 
when suddenly I found myself pulled out of the 
crowd by a powerful -handed woman, who cried, 
"Come, my love; love, come:" and who was this but 
that scarlet strumpet, Mrs Beaufort, who having lost 
her gallant in the crowd, and being, as I think, blind 
fou, had taken me for him, insisting before all present 
that I was her dear friend, and that she would die for 
me with other siclike fantastical and randy ranting, 
which no queen in a tragedy could by any possibility 
surpass. At first I was confounded and overtaken, 
and could not speak; and the worst of all was, that, 
in a moment, the mob seemed to forget their quarrel, 
and to turn in derision on me. What might have en- 

263 



THE PROVOST 

sued it would not be easy to say; but just at this very 
critical juncture, and while the drunken latheronwas 
casting herself into antic shapes of distress,and flour- 
ishing with her hands and arms to the heavens at my 
imputed cruelty, two of the town-officers came up, 
which gave me courage to act a decisive part; so I 
gave over to them Mrs Beaufort, with all her airs, 
and, going myself to the guardhouse,brought a file of 
soldiers, and so quelled the riot. But from that night 
I thought it prudent to eschew every allusion to Mrs 
Fenton, and tacitly to forgive even Swinton for the 
treatment I had received from him, by seeming as if 
I had not noticed him, although I had singled him 
out by name. 

Mrs Pawkie, on hearing what I had suffered from 
Mrs Beaufort, was very zealous that I should punish 
her to the utmost rigour of the law, even to drum- 
ming her out of the town; but forbearance was my 
best policy, so I only persuaded my colleagues to 
order the players to decamp, and to give the Tappit- 
hen notice, that it would be expedient for the future 
sale of her pies and porter, at untimeous hours, and 
that she should flit her howff from our town. Indeed, 
what pleasure would it have been to me to have dealt 
unmercifully, either towards the one or the other? 
for surely the gentle way of keeping up a proper re- 
spect for magistrates, and others in authority, should 
ever be preferred; especially, as in cases like this, 

264 



RETRIBUTION 

where there had been no premeditated wrong. And 
I say this with the greater sincerity; for in my secret 
conscience, when I think of the affair at this distance 
of time, I am pricked not a little in reflecting how I 
had previously crowed and triumphed over poor Mr 
Hickery, in the matter of his mortification at the 
time of Miss Peggy Dainty's false step. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN 
THE DUEL 



CHAPTER XXXVII THE DUEL 

HERETOFORE ALL MY MAGISTERIAL 
undertakings and concerns had thriven in a very sat- 
isfactory manner. I was, to be sure, now and then, as 
I have narrated, subjected to opposition, and squibs, 
and a jeer; and envious and spiteful persons were not 
wanting in the world to call in question my intents 
and motives, representing my best endeavours for the 
public good as but a right-handed method to secure 
my own interests. It would be a vain thing of me to 
deny, that, at the beginning of my career, I was mis- 
led by the wily examples of the past times, who 
thought that, in taking on them to serve the com- 
munity, they had a privilege to see that they were 
full-handed for what benefit they might do the pub- 
lic; but as I gathered experience, and saw the rising 
of the sharp-sighted spirit that is now abroad among 
the affairs of men, I clearly discerned that it would 
be more for the advantage of me and mine to act with 
a conformity thereto, than to seek, by any similar 
wiles or devices, an immediate and sicker advantage. 
I may therefore say, without a boast, that the two or 
three years before my third provostry were as re- 
nowned and comfortable to myself, upon the whole, 
as any reasonable man could look for. We cannot, 
however, expect a full cup and measure of the sweets 
of life, without some adulteration of the sour and 
bitter; and it was my lot and fate to prove an experi- 
ence of this truth, in a sudden and unaccountable 
269 



THE PROVOST 

falling off from all moral decorum in a person of my 
brother's only son, Richard, a lad that was a promise 
of great ability in his youth. 

He was just between the tyning and the winning, 
as the saying is, when the playactors, before spoken 
off, came to the town, being then in his eighteenth 
year. Naturally of a light-hearted and funny disposi- 
tion, and possessing a jocose turn for mimickry, he 
was a great favourite among his companions, and 
getting in with the players, it seems drew up with that 
little-worth, demure daffodel, Miss Scarborough, 
through the instrumentality of whose condisciples 
and the randy Mrs Beaufort, that riot at Widow Fen- 
ton's began, which ended in expurgating the town 
of the whole gang, bag and baggage. Some there were, 
I shall here mention, who said that the expulsion of 
the players was owing to what I had heard anent the 
intromission of my nephew; but, in verity, I had not 
theleastspunk or spark of suspicion of whatwas go- 
ing on between him and the miss, till onenight,some 
time after, Richard and the young laird of Swinton, 
with others of their comrades, forgathered, and 
came to high words on the subject, the two being 
rivals, or rather, as was said, equally in esteem and 
favour with the lady. 

Young Swinton was, to say the truth of him, a fine 
bold rattling lad, warm in the temper,and ready with 
the hand, and no man's foe so much as his own; for 

270 



THE DUEL 

he was a spoiled bairn, through the partiality of old 
Lady Bodikins, his grandmother, who lived in the 
turreted house at the town-end, by whose indulgence 
he grew to be of a dressy and rakish inclination, and, 
like most youngsters of the kind, was vain of his 
shames, the which cost Mr Pittle's session no little 
trouble. But not to dwell on his faults my neph- 
ew and he quarrelled, and nothing less would serve 
them than to fight a duel, which they did with pis- 
tols next morning; and Richard received from the 
laird's first shot a bullet in the left arm, that dis- 
abled him in that member for life. He was left for 
dead on the green where they fought Swinton 
and the two seconds making, as was supposed, their 
escape. 

When Richard was found faint and bleeding by 
Tammy Tout, the town-herd, as he drove out the 
cows in the morning, the hobleshow is not to be de- 
scribed; and my brother came to me, and insisted 
that I should give him a warrant to apprehend all 
concerned. I was grieved for my brother, and very 
much distressed to think of what had happened to 
blithe Dicky, as I was wont to call my nephew when 
he was a laddie, and I would fain have gratified the 
spirit of revenge in myself; but I brought to mind his 
roving and wanton pranks,and Icounselledhisfather 
first to abide the upshot of the wound, representing 
to him, in the best manner I could, that it was but 
271 



THE PROVOST 

the quarrel of the young men, and that maybe his 
son was as muckle in fault as Swinton. 

My brother was, however, of a hasty temper, and 
upbraided me with my slackness, on account, as he 
tauntingly insinuated, of the young laird being one 
of my best customers, which was a harsh and unright- 
eous doing; but it was not the severest trial which the 
accident occasioned to me; for the same night, at a 
late hour, a line was brought to me by a lassie, re- 
questing I would come to a certain place and when 
I went there, who was it from but Swinton and the 
two other young lads that had been the seconds at 
the duel. 

" Bailie," said the laird on behalf of himself and 
friends, "though you are the uncle of poor Dick, we 
have resolved to throw ourselves into your hands, for 
we have not provided any money to enable us to flee 
the country; we only hope you will not deal overly 
harshly with us till his fate is ascertained." 

I was greatly disconcerted, and wist not what to 
say; for knowing the rigour of our Scottish laws a- 
gainst duelling, I was wae to see three brave youths, 
not yet come to years of discretion, standing in the 
peril and jeopardy of an ignominious end, and that, 
too, for an injury done to my own kin; and then I 
thought of my nephew and of my brother, that, may- 
be, would soon be in sorrow for the loss of his only 
son. In short, I was tried almost beyond my human- 

272 



THE DUEL 

ity. The three poor lads, seeing me hesitate, were 
much moved, and one of them (Sandy Blackie)said, 
"I told you how it would be; it was even-down mad- 
ness to throwourselves into the lion'smouth."To this 
Swinton replied, "Mr Pawkie, we have cast ourselves 
on your mercy as a gentleman." 

What could I say to this, but that I hoped they 
would find me one; and without speaking any more 
at that time for indeed I could not, my heart beat 
so fast I bade them follow me, and taking them 
round by the back road to my garden yett, I let them 
in, and conveyed them into a warehouse where I kept 
my bales and boxes. Then slipping into the house, I 
took out of the pantry a basket of bread and a cold 
leg of mutton, which, when Mrs Pawkie and the ser- 
vant lassies missed in the morning, they could not di- 
vine what had become of; and giving the same to 
them, with a bottle of wine for they were very hun- 
gry, having tasted nothing all day I went round to 
my brother's to see at the latest how Richard was. 
But such a stang as I got on entering the house, when 
I heard his mother wailing that he was dead, he hav- 
ing fainted away in getting the bullet extracted; and 
when I saw his father coming out of the room like a 
demented man, and heard again his upbraiding of 
me for having refused a warrant to apprehend the 
murderers I was so stunned with the shock, and 
with the thought of the poor younglads in mymercy, 
273 S 



THE PROVOST 

that I could with difficulty support myself along the 
passage into a room where there was a chair, into 
which I fell rather than threw myself. I had not, how- 
ever, been long seated, when a joyful cry announced 
that Richard was recovering, and presently he was in 
a manner free from pain; and the doctor assured me 
the wound was probably not mortal. I did not, how- 
ever, linger long onhearingthis;buthasteninghome, 
I took what money I had in my scrutoire, and going 
to the malefactors, said, "Lads, take thir twa three 
pounds, and quit the town as fast as ye can, for Rich- 
ard is my nephew, and blood, ye ken, is thicker than 
water, and I may be tempted to give you up." 

They started on their legs, and shaking me in a 
warm manner by both the hands, they hurried away 
without speaking, nor could I say more, as I opened 
the back yett to let them out, than bid them take 
tent of themselves. 

MrsPawkiewas in a great consternation at my late 
absence, and when I went home she thought I was 
ill, I was so pale and flurried, and she wanted to send 
for the doctor, but I told her that when I was calmed, 
I would be better; however, I got no sleep that night, 
In the morning I went to see Richard, whom I found 
in a composed and rational state: he confessed to his 
father that he was as muckle to blame as Swinton, 
and begged and entreated us, if he should die, not to 
take any steps against the fugitives: my brother, how- 

274 




THE DUEL 

ever, was loth to make rash promises, and it was not 
till his son was out of danger that I had any ease of 
mind for the part I had played. But when Richard 
was afterwards well enough to go about, and the duel- 
lers had come out of their hidings, they told him what 
I had done, by which the whole affair came to the pub- 
lic, and I got great fame thereby, none being more 
proud to speak of it than poor Dick himself, who, 
from that time, became the bosom friend of Swinton; 
in so much that, when he was out of his time as a 
writer, and had gone through his courses at Edin- 
burgh, the laird made him his man of business, and, 
in a manner, gave him a nest egg. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT 
AN INTERLOCUTOR 



XXXVIII. AN INTERLOCUTOR 

UPON A CONSIDERATION OF MANY 
things, it appears to me very strange, that almost the 
whole tot of our improvements became, in a manner, 
the parents of newplagues and troubles to themagis- 
trates. It might reasonably have been thought that 
the lamps in the streets would have been a terror to 
evil-doers, and the plainstone side-pavements paths 
of pleasantness to them that do well; but, so far from 
this being the case, the very reverse was the conse- 
quence. The servant lasses went freely out (on their 
errands) at night, and at late hours, for their mistress- 
es, without the protection of lanterns, by which they 
were enabled to gallant in a way that never could 
have before happened: for lanterns are kenspeckle 
commodities, and of course a check on every kind of 
gavaulling. Thus, out of the lamps sprung no little ir- 
regularity in the conduct of servants, and much bit- 
terness of spirit on that account to mistresses, especi- 
ally to those who were of a particular turn, and who 
did not choose that their maidens should spend their 
hours a-field, when they could be profitably employ- 
ed at home. 

Of the plagues that were from the plainstones, I 
have given an exemplary specimen in the plea be- 
tween old perjink Miss Peggy Dainty, and the widow 
Fenton, that was commonly called the Tappit-hen. 
For the present, I shall therefore confine myself in 
this nota bena to an accident that happened to Mrs 
279 



THE PROVOST 

Gird wood, the deacon of the coopers' wife a most 
managing, industrious, and indefatigable woman, 
that allowed no grass to grow in her path. 

Mrs Gird wood had fee'd one Jeanie Tirlet, and 
soon after she came home, the mistress had her big 
summer washing at the public washing-house on the 
green all the best of her sheets and napery both 
what had been used in the course of the winter, and 
what was only washed to keep clear in the colour, 
were in the boyne. It was one of the greatest doings 
of the kind that the mistress had in the whole course 
of the year, and the value of things intrusted to 
Jeanie's care was not to be told, at least so said Mrs 
Girdwood herself. 

Jeanie and Marion Sapples, the washerwoman, 
with a pickle tea and sugar tied in the corners of a 
napkin, and two measured glasses of whisky in an old 
doctor's bottle, had been sent with the foul clothes 
the night before to the washing-house, and by break 
of day they were up and at their work; nothing par- 
ticular, as Marion said, was observed about Jeanie 
till after they had taken their breakfast, when, in 
spreading out the clothes on the green, some of the 
ne'er-do-weel young clerks of the town were seen 
gafifawing and haverelling with Jeanie, the consequ- 
ence of which was, that all the rest of the day she was 
light-headed; indeed, as Mrs Girdwood told me her- 
self, when Jeanie came in from the green for Marion's 

280 




JEAM GAISLING 



AN INTERLOCUTOR 

dinner, she couldna help remarking to her goodman, 
that there was something fey about the lassie, or, to 
use her own words, there was a storm in her tail, light 
where it might. But little did she think it was to bring 
the dule it did to her. 

Jeanie having gotten the pig with the wonted al- 
lowance of broth and beef in it for Marion, returned 
to the green, and while Marion was eating the same, 
she disappeared. Once away, aye away; hilt or hair 
of Jeanie was not seen that night. Honest Marion 
Sapples worked like a Trojan to the gloaming, but 
the light latheron never came back; at last, seeing no 
other help for it, she got one of the other women at 
the washing-house to go to Mrs Girdwood and to let 
her know what had happened, and how the best part 
of the washing would, unless help was sent, be oblig- 
ed to lie out all night. 

The deacon's wife well knew the great stake she 
had on that occasion in the boyne, and was for a 
season demented with the thought; but at last sum- 
moning her three daughters, and borrowing our lass, 
and Mr Smeddum the tobacconist's niece, she went 
to the green, and got everything safely housed, yet 
still Jeanie Tirlet never made her appearance. 

Mrs Girdwood and her daughters having returned 
home, in a most uneasy state of mind on the lassie's 
account, the deacon himself came over to me, to con- 
sult what he ought to do as the head of a family. But 
281 



THE PROVOST 

I advised him to wait till Jeanie cast up, which was 
the next morning. Where she had been, and who she 
was with, could never be delved out of her; but the 
deacon brought her to the clerk's chamber, before 
Bailie Kittlewit, who was that dayacting magistrate, 
and he sentenced her to be dismissed from her servi- 
tude with no more than the wage she had actually 
earned. The lassie was conscious of the ill turn she 
had played, and would have submitted in modesty; 
but one of the writers' clerks, an impudent whipper- 
snapper, that had more to say with her than I need 
to say, bade her protest and appeal against the inter- 
locutor, which the daring gipsy, so egged on, actually 
did, and the appeal next court day came before me. 
Whereupon, I, knowing the outs and ins of the case, 
decerned that she should be fined five shillings to 
the poor of the parish, and ordained to go back to 
Mrs Gird wood's, and there stay out the term of her 
servitude, or failing by refusal so to do, to be sent to 
prison, and put to hard labour for the remainder of 
the term. 

Every body present, on hearing the circumstances, 
thought this a most judicious and lenient sentence; 
but so thought not the other servant lasses of the 
town; for in the evening, as I was going home, think- 
ing no harm, on passing the Cross-well, where a vast 
congregation of them were assembled with their 
stoups discoursing the news of the day, they opened 

282 



AN INTERLOCUTOR 

on me like a pack of hounds at a tod, and I verily be- 
lieved they would have mobbed me had I not made 
the best of my way home. My wife had been at the 
window when the hobleshow began, and was just like 
to die of diversion at seeing me so set upon by the 
tinklers; and when I entered the dining-room she 
said, "Really, Mr Pawkie, ye're a gallant man, to be 
soweel in the good gracesof theladies." Butalthough 
I have often since had many a good laugh at the 
sport, I was not overly pleased with Mrs Pawkie at 
the time particularly as the matter between the 
deacon's wife and Jeanie did not end with my inter- 
locutor. For the latheron's friend in the court having 
discovered that I had not decerned she was to do any 
work to Mrs Girdwood, but only to stay out her term, 
advised her to do nothing when she went back but 
go to her bed, which she was bardy enough to do, 
until my poor friend, the deacon, in order to get a 
quiet riddance of her, was glad to pay her full fee, 
and board wages for the remainder of her time. This 
was the same Jeanie Tirlet that was transported for 
somemisdemeanour, after making both Glasgow and 
Edinburgh owre het to hold her. 



CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE 
THE NEWSPAPER 



CHAPTER XXXIX THE NEWSPAPER 

SHORTLY AFTER THE FOREGOING TRI- 

bulation, of which I cannot take it upon me to say 
that I got so well rid as of many other vexations of 
a more grievous nature, there arose a thing in the 
town that caused to me much deep concern, and very 
serious reflection. I had been, from the beginning, a 
true government man, as all loyal subjects ought in 
duty to be; for I never indeed could well understand 
how it would advantage, either the king or his mini- 
sters, to injure and do detriment to the lieges; on the 
contrary, I always saw and thought that his majesty, 
and those of his cabinet, had as great an interest in 
the prosperity and well-doing of the people, as it was 
possible for a landlord to have in the thriving of his 
tenantry. Accordingly, giving on all occasions, and 
at all times and seasons, even when the policy of the 
kingdom was overcast with a cloud, the king and 
government, in church and state, credit for the best 
intentions, however humble their capacity in per- 
formance might seem in those straits and difficulties, 
which, from time to time, dumfoundered the wisest 
in power and authority, I was exceedingly troubled 
to hear that a newspaperwas to be set upintheburgh, 
and that, too, by hands not altogether clean of the 
coom of Jacobinical democracy. 

The person that first brought me an account of 
this, and it was in a private confidential manner, was 
Mr Scudmyloof, the grammar schoolmaster, a man 
287 



THE PROVOST 

of method and lear, to whom the fathers of the pro- 
ject had applied for an occasional cast of his skill, in 
the way of Latin head-pieces, and essays of erudition 
concerning the free spirit among the ancient Greeks 
and Romans; but he, not liking the principle of the 
men concerned in the scheme, thought that it would 
be a public service to the community at large, if a 
stop could be put, by my help, to the opening of such 
an ettering sore and king's evil as a newspaper, in our 
heretofore and hitherto truly royal and loyal burgh; 
especially as it was given out that the calamity, for I 
can call it no less, was to be conducted on liberal 
principles, meaning, of course, in the most afflict- 
ing and vexatious manner towards his majesty's 
ministers. 

"What ye say," said I to Mr Scudmyloof when he 
told me the news, " is very alarming, very much so 
indeed; but as there is no law yet actually and per- 
emptorily prohibiting the sending forth of ruews- 
papers, I doubt it will not be in my power to inter- 
fere." 

He was of the same opinion; and we both agreed 
it was a rank exuberance of liberty, that the common- 
ality should be exposed to the risk of being inocu- 
lated with anarchy and confusion, from what he, in 
his learned manner, judiciously called the predilec- 
tions of amateur pretension. The parties engaged in 
the project being Mr Absolom the writer a man no 

288 



THE NEWSPAPER 

overly reverential in his opinion of the law and lords 
when his clients lost their pleas, which, poor folk, was 
very often and some three or four young and inex- 
perienced lads, that were wont to read essays, and 
debate the kittle points of divinity and other hidden 
knowledge, in the Cross-Keys monthly, denying the 
existence of the soul of man, as Dr Sinney told me, 
till they were deprived of all rationality by foreign 
or British spirits. In short, I was perplexed when I 
heard of the design, not knowing what to do, or what 
might be expected from me by government in a case 
of such emergency as the setting up of a newspaper 
so declaredly adverse to every species of vested trust 
and power; for it was easy to forsee that those im- 
mediately on the scene would be the first opposed to 
the onset and brunt of the battle. Never can any pub- 
lic man have a more delicate task imposed upon him, 
than to steer clear of offence in such a predicament. 
After a full consideration of the business, Mr Scud- 
myloof declared that he would retire from the field, 
and stand aloof; and he rehearsed a fine passage in 
the Greek language on that head, pat to the occasion, 
but which I did not very thoroughly understand, be- 
ing no deacon in the dead languages, as I told him at 
the time. 

But when the dominie had left me, I considered 
with myself, and having long before then observed 
that our hopes, when realized, are always light in the 
289 T 



THE PROVOST 

grain, and our fears, when come to pass, less than they 
seemed as seen through the mists of time and dis- 
tance, I resolved with myself to sit still with my eyes 
open, watching and saying nothing; and it was well 
that I deported myself so prudently; for when the 
first number of the paper made its appearance, it was 
as poor a job as ever was "open to all parties, and in- 
fluenced by none;" and it required but two eyes to 
discern that there was no need of any strong power 
from the lord advocate to suppress or abolish the un- 
dertaking; for there was neither birr nor smeddum 
enough in it to molest the high or to pleasurethelow; 
so being left to itself, and not ennobled by any prose- 
cution, as the schemers expected,it became as foison- 
less as the "London Gazette" on ordinary occasions. 
Those behind the curtain, who thought to bounceout 
with a grand stot and strut before the world, finding 
that even I used it as a convenient vehicle to adver- 
tise my houses when need was, and which I did by the 
way of a canny seduction of policy, joking civilly with 
Mr Absolom anent his paper trumpet, as I called it, 
they were utterly vanquished by seeing themselves of 
so little account in the world, and forsook the thing 
altogether; by which means it was gradually trans- 
formed into a very solid and decent supporter of the 
government Mr Absolom, for his pains, being in- 
vited to all our public dinners, of which he gave a full 
account, to the great satisfaction of all who were pre- 
290 



THE NEWSPAPER 

sent, but more particularly to those who were not, 
especially the wives and ladies of the town, to whom 
it was a great pleasure to see the names of their kith 
and kin in print. And indeed, to do Mr Absolom 
justice, hewas certainly at great pains to set off every 
thing to the best advantage,and usually put speeches 
to some of our names which showed that, in the way 
of grammaticals, he was even able to have mended 
some of the parliamentary clishmaclavers, of which 
the Londoners, with all their skill in the craft, are so 
seldom able to lick into any shape of common sense. 
Thus, by a judicious forbearance in the first in- 
stance, and a canny wising towards the undertaking 
in the second, did I, in the third, help to convert this 
dangerous political adversary into a very respectable 
instrument of governmental influence 
and efficacy. 



CHAPTER FORTY 
THE SCHOOL-HOUSE SCHEME 



XL THE SCHOOL-HOUSE SCHEME 

THE SPIRIT OF OPPOSITION THAT KITH- 
ed towards me in the affair of Robin Boss, the drum- 
mer, was but an instance and symptom of the new 
nature then growing up in public matters. I was not 
long done with my second provostry, when I had oc- 
casion to congratulate myself on having passed twice 
through the dignity with so much respect; for, at the 
Michaelmas term, we had chosen Mr Robert Plan in- 
to the vacancy caused by the death of that easy man, 
Mr Weezle, which happened a short time before. I 
know not what came over me, that Mr Plan was al- 
lowed to be chosen, for I never could abide him; be- 
ing, as he was, a great stickler for small particulari- 
ties, morezealous than discreet,and even more intent 
to carry his own point, than to consider the good that 
might flow from a more urbane spirit. Not that the 
man was devoid of ability few, indeed, could set 
forth a more plausible tale; but he was continually 
meddling, keeking, and poking, and always taking 
up a suspicious opinion of every body's intents and 
motives but his own. He was, besides, of a retired and 
sedentary habit of body; and the vapour of his stom- 
ach, as he was sitting by himself, often mounted into 
his upper story, and begat, with his over zealous and 
meddling imagination, many unsound and fantasti- 
cal notions. For all that, however, it must be acknow- 
ledged that Mr Plan was a sincere honest man, only 
he sometimes lacked the discernment of the right 
295 



THE PROVOST 

from the wrong; and the consequence was, that, when 
in error,he was even more obstinate than when in the 
right; for his jealousy of human nature made him in- 
terpret falsely theheat with which his own headstrong 
zeal, when in error, was ever very properly resisted. 
In nothing, however, did his molesting temper 
cause so much disturbance,as when, in the year 1809, 
the bigging of the new school-house was under con- 
sideration. There was, about that time, a great sough 
throughout the country on the subject of education, 
and it was a fashion to call schools academies; and 
out of a delusion rising from the use of that term, to 
think it necessary to decry the good plain old places, 
wherein so many had learnt those things by which 
they helped to make the country and kingdom what 
it is, and to scheme for the ways and means to raise 
more edificial structures and receptacles. None was 
more infected with his distemperature than Mr Plan; 
and accordingly, when he came to the council-cham- 
ber, on the day that the matter of the new school- 
house was to be discussed, he brought with him a 
fine castle in the air, which he pressed hard upon us; 
representing, that if we laid out two or three thou- 
sand pounds more than we intended, and built a 
beautiful academy and got a rector thereto, with a 
liberal salary, and other suitable masters, opulent 
people at adistance yea,gentlemen in theEast and 
and West Indies would send their children to be 

296 



THE SCHOOL-HOUSE SCHEME 

educated among us, by which, great fame and profit 
would redound to the town. 

Nothing could be more plausibly set forth; and 
certainly the project, as a notion, had many things to 
recommend it; but we had no funds adequate to un- 
dertake it; so, on the score of expense, knowing, as I 
did, the state of the public income, I thought it my 
duty to oppose it in toto; which fired Mr Plan to such 
a degree, that he immediately insinuated that I had 
some end of my own to serve in objecting to his 
scheme; and because the wall that it was proposed to 
big round the moderate building which we were con- 
templating, would inclose a portion of the backside 
of my new steading at the Westergate, he made no 
scruple of speaking, in a circumbendibus manner, as 
to the particular reasons that I might have for pre- 
ferring it to his design, which he roused, in his way, 
as more worthy of the state of the arts and the taste 
of the age. 

It was not easy to sit still under his imputations; 
especially as I could plainly see that some of the 
other members of the council leant towards his way 
of thinking. Nor will I deny that, in preferring the 
more moderate design, I had a contemplation of my 
own advantage in the matter of the dyke; for I do not 
think it any shame to a public man to serve his own 
interests by those of the community, when he can 
righteously do so. 
297 



THE PROVOST 

It was a thing never questionable, that the school 
house required the inclosure of a wall, and the out- 
side of that wall was of a natural necessityconstrain- 
ed to be a wing of inclosure to the ground beyond. 
Therefore, I see not how a corrupt motive ought to 
have been imputed to me, merely because I had a 
piece of ground that marched with the spot whereon 
it was intended to construct the new building; which 
spot, I should remark, belonged to the town before 
I bought mine. However, Mr Plan so worked upon 
this material, that, what with one thing and what 
with another, he got the council persuaded to give up 
the moderate plan, and to consent to sell the ground 
where it had been proposed to build the new school, 
and to apply the proceeds to wards the means of erect- 
ing a fine academy on the Green. 

It was not easy to thole to be so thwarted, especi- 
ally for such an extravagant problem, by one so new 
to our councils and deliberations. I never was more 
fashed in my life; for having hitherto, in all my plans 
for the improvement of the town, not onlysucceeded, 
but given satisfaction, I was vexed to see the council 
run away with such a speculative vagary. No doubt, 
the popular fantasy anent education and academies, 
had quite as muckle to do in the matter as Mr Plan's 
fozey rhetoric, but what availed that to me, at seeing 
a reasonable undertaking reviled and set aside, and 
grievous debts about to be laid on thecommunity for 

298 



THE SCHOOL-HOUSE SCHEME 

a bubble as unsubstantial as that of the Ayr Bank. 
Besides, it was giving the upper hand in the council 
to Mr Plan, to which, as a new man, he had no right. 
I said but little, for I saw it would be of no use; I, how- 
ever, took a canny opportunity of remarking to old 
Mr Dinledoup, the English teacher, that this castle- 
building scheme of an academy would cause great 
changes probably in the masters; and as, no doubt, 
it would obligeus to adopt the newmethodsof teach- 
ing, I would like to have a private inkling of what 
salary he would expect on being superannuated. 

The worthy man was hale and hearty, not exceed- 
ing three score and seven, and had never dreamt of 
being superannuated. He was, besides, a prideful 
body, and, like all of his calling, thought not a little 
of himself. The surprise, therefore, with which he 
heard me was just wonderful. For a space of time he 
stoodstill and uttered nothing; thenhetook hissnuff- 
box out of the flap pocket of his waistcoat, where he 
usually carried it, and, giving three distinct and very 
comical raps, drew his mouth into a purse. "Mr Paw- 
kie," at last he said; "Mr Pawkie, there will be news 
in the world before I consent to be superannuated." 

This was what I expected, and I replied, "Then, 
why do not you and Mr Scudmyloof,of the grammar 
school, represent to the magistrates that the present 
school-house may, with a small repair, serve for many 
years." And so I sowed an effectual seed of opposi- 
299 



THE PROVOST 

tion to Mr Plan, in a quarter he never dreamt of; the 
two dominies, in the dread of undergoingsome trans- 
mogrification, laid their heads together, and went 
round among the parents of the children, anddecried 
the academy project, and the cess that the cost of it 
would bring uponthe town;by which a publicopinion 
was begotten and brought to a bearing, that the 
magistrates could not resist; so the old school-house 
was repaired, and Mr Plan's scheme, as well as the 
other, given up. In this,it is true,if I had not the satis- 
faction to get a dyke to the backside of my property, 
I had the pleasure to know that my interloping ad- 
versary was disappointed; the which was a sort of 
compensation. 



CHAPTER FORTY-ONE 
BENEFITS OF NEUTRALITY 



XL1 BENEFITS OF NEUTRALITY 

THE GENERAL ELECTION IN 1812 WAS A 
source of trouble and uneasiness to me; both because 
our district of burghs was to be contested, and be- 
cause the contest was not between men of opposite 
principles, but of the same side. To neither of them 
had I anyparticular leaning;on the contrary, I would 
have preferred the old member, whom I had, on dif- 
ferent occasions, found an accessible and tractable 
instrument, in the way of getting small favours with 
the government and India company, for friends that 
never failed to consider them as such things should 
be. But what could I do? Providence had placed me 
in the van of the battle, and I needs must fight; so 
thought every body, and so for a time I thought my- 
self. Weighing, however, the matter one night sober- 
ly in my mind, and seeing that whichever of the two 
candidates was chosen, I, by my adherent loyalty to 
the cause for which they were both declared, the con- 
test between them being a rivalry of purse and per- 
sonality, would have as much to say with the one as 
with the other, came to the conclusion that it was my 
prudentest course not to intermeddle at all in the 
election. Accordingly, as soon as it was proper to 
make a declaration of my sentiments, I made this 
known, and it caused a great wonderment in the town; 
nobody could imagine it possible that I was sincere, 
many thinking there was something aneath it, which 
would kithe in time to the surprise of the public. 
303 



THE PROVOST 

However, the peutering went on, and I took no part. 
The two candidates were as civil and as liberal, the 
one after the other, to Mrs Pawkie and my daughters, 
as any gentlemen of a parliamentary understanding 
could be. Indeed, I verily believe, that although I had 
been really chosen delegate, as it was at one time in- 
tended I should be, I could not have hoped for half 
the profit that came in from the dubiety which my 
declaration of neutrality caused; for as often as I as- 
sured the one candidate that I did not intend even to 
be present at the choosing of the delegate, some rich 
present was sure to be sent to my wife, of which the 
other no sooner heard than he was upsides with him. 
It was just a sport to think of me protesting my neu- 
trality, and to see how little I was believed. For still 
the friends of the two candidates, like the figures of 
of the four quarters of the world round Britannia in 
a picture, came about my wife, and poured into her 
lap a most extraordinary paraphernalia from the 
horn of their abundance. 

The common talk of the town was, that surely I 
was bereft of my wonted discretion, to traffic so open- 
ly with corruption; and that it could not be doubted 
I would have to face the House of Commons, and 
suffer the worst pains and penalties of bribery. But 
what did all this signify to me, who was conscious of 
the truth and integrity of my motives and talents? 
"They say! what say they? let them say!" was 

304 



THE BENEFITS OF NEUTRALITY 

what I said, as often as any of my canny friends came 
to me, say ing, "For God's sake, Mr Pawkie, tak'tent" 
"I hope, Mr Pawkie, ye ken the ground ye stand 
on" or, "I wish that some folkswere aware of what's 
said about them." In short, I was both angered and 
diverted by their clishmaclavers; and having some 
need to go into Glasgow just on the eve of the elec- 
tion, I thought I would, for diversion, give them some- 
thing in truth to play with; so saying nothing to my 
shop lad the night before, nor even to Mrs Pawkie, 
(for the best of women are given to tattling), till we 
were in our beds, I went off early on the morning of 
the day appointed for choosing the delegate. 

The consternation in the town at my evasion was 
wonderful. Nobody could fathom it; and the friends 
and supporters of the rival candidates looked, as I 
was told, at one another, in a state of suspicion that 
was just a curiosity to witness. Even when the dele- 
gate was chosen, every body thought that something 
would be found wanting, merely because I was not 
present. The new.member himself, when his election 
was declared, did not feel quite easy; and more than 
once, when I saw him after my return from Glasgow, 
he said to me, in a particular manner "But tell me 
now, bailie, what was the true reason of your visit to 
Glasgow?" And, in like manner, his opponent also 
hinted that he would petition against the return; but 
there were some facts which he could not well get at 
305 u 



THE PROVOST 

without my assistance insinuating that I might find 
my account in helping him. 

At last, the true policy of the part I had played be- 
gan to be understood; and I got far more credit for 
the way in which I had turned both parties so well to 
my own advantage, than if I had been the means of 
deciding the election by my single vote. 



CHAPTER FORTY-TWO 
THE NEW MEMBER 



CHAPTER XLII THE NEW MEMBER 

BUT THE NEW MEMBER WAS, IN SOME 
points, not of so tractable a nature as many of his pre- 
decessors had beenjand notwithstanding all the cou- 
thy jocosity and curry- favouring of his demeanour 
towards us before the election, he was no sooner re- 
turned, than he began, as it were, to snap his fingers 
in the very faces of those of the council to whom he 
was most indebted, which was a thing not of very 
easy endurance, considering how they had taxed 
their consciences in his behalf; and this treatment 
was the more bitterly felt, as the old member had 
been, during the whole of his time, as considerate and 
obliging as could reasonably be expected; doing any 
little job that needed his helping hand when it was 
in his power, and when it was not, replying to our 
letters in a most discreet and civil manner. To be sure, 
poor man,he had but little to say in the way of grant- 
ing favours; for being latterly inclined to a whiggish 
principle, he was, in consequence, debarred from all 
manner of government patronage, and had little in 
his gift but soft words and fair promises. Indeed, I 
have often remarked, in the course of my time, that 
there is a surprising difference, in regard to the ur- 
banities in use among those who have not yet come 
to authority, or who have been cast down from it, and 
those who are in the full possession of the rule and 
domination of office; but never was the thing plainer 
than in the conduct of the new member. 
309 



THE PROVOST 

He was by nature and inclination one of the upset- 
ting sort; a kind of man who, in all manner of busi- 
ness, have a leaven of contrariness, that makes them 
very hard to deal with; and he, being conjunct with 
his majesty's ministers at London, had imbibed and 
partook of that domineering spirit to which all men 
are ordained, to be given over whenever they are 
clothed in the garments of power. Many among us 
thought, by his colleaguingwith thegovernment,that 
we had got a great catch, and they were both blythe 
and vogie when he was chosen; none doubting but he 
would do much good servitude to the corporation, 
and the interestsof the burgh. However he soon gave 
a rebuff, that laid us all on our backs in a state of the 
greatest mortification. But although it behoved me 
to sink down with the rest, I was but little hurt: on 
the contary, I had a good laugh in my sleeve at the 
time; and after wards, many a merry tumbler of toddy 
with my brethren, when they had recovered from 
their discomfiture. The story was this: 

About a fortnight after the election, Mr Scudmy- 
loof, the schoolmaster, called one day on me, in my 
shop, and said, "That being of a nervous turn, the din 
of the school did not agree with him; and that he 
would, therefore, be greatly obligated to me if I would 
get him made a gauger." There had been something 
in the carriage of our new member, before he left the 
town, that was not satisfactory to me, forbye my part 

310 



THE NEW MEMBER 

at the election, the which made me loth to be the first 
to ask for any grace, though the master was a most 
respectable and decent man; so I advised Mr Scud- 
myloof to apply to Provost Pickandab,who had been 
the delegate, as the person to whose instrumentality 
the member was most obliged; and to whose applic- 
ation, he of course would pay the greatest attention. 
Whether Provost Pickandab had made any ob- 
serve similar to mine, I never could rightly under- 
stand, though I had a notion to that effect: he, how- 
ever,instead of writing himself, made the application 
for Mr Scudmyloof an affair of the council; recom- 
mending him as a worthy modest man, which he 
really was, and well qualified for the post. Off went 
this notable letter, and by return of post from Lon- 
don, we got our answer as we were all sitting in coun- 
cil; deliberating anent the rebuilding of the Cross- 
well, which had been for some time in a sore state of 
dilapidation; and surely never was any letter more to 
the point and less to the purpose of an applicant. It 
was very short and pithy, just acknowledging receipt 
of ours; and adding thereto, "circumstances do not 
allow me to pay any attention to such applications." 
We all with one accord, in sympathy and instinct, 
threw ourselves back in our chairs at the words, look- 
ingat Provost Pickandab, with the pragmatical epistle 
in his hand,sittingin his placeat theheadof the table, 
with the countenance of consternation. 



THE PROVOST 

When I came to myself, I began to consider that 
there must have been something no right in the pro- 
vost's own letter on the subject, to cause such an un- 
courteous rebuff; so after condemning, in very strong 
terms, the member's most ungenteel style, in order 
to procure for myself a patient hearing, I warily pro- 
posed that the provost's application should be read, 
a copy thereof being kept, and I had soon a positive 
confirmation of my suspicion. For the provost, being 
fresh in the dignity of his office, and naturally of a 
prideful turn, had addressed the parliament man as 
if he was under an obligation to him; and as if the 
council had a right to command him to get the gau- 
ger's post, or indeed any other, for whomsoever they 
might apply. So, seeing whence the original sin of the 
affair had sprung, I said nothing; but the same night 
I wrote a humiliated letter from myself to the mem- 
ber, telling him how sorry we all were for the indis- 
cretion that had been used towards him, and how 
much it would pleasure me to heal the breach that 
had happened between him and the burgh, with other 
words of an oily and conciliating policy. 

The indignant member, by the time my letter re- 
ached hand, had cooled in his passion, and, I fancy, 
was glad of an occasion to do away the consequence 
of the rupture; for with a most extraordinary alacrity 
he procured Mr Scudmyloof the post, writing me, 
when he had done so, in the civilest manner, and say- 

312 



THE NEW MEMBER 

ing many condescending things concerning his re- 
gard for me; all which ministered to maintain and up- 
hold my repute and consideration in the town, as su- 
perior to that of the provost. 



CHAPTER FORTY-THREE 
MY THIRD PROVOSTRY 



XLIII MY THIRD PROVOSTRY 

IT WAS AT THE MICHAELMAS 1813 THAT 
I was chosen provost for the third time, and at the 
special request of my lord the earl, who, being in ill 
health, had been advised by the faculty of doctors in 
London to try the medicinal virtues of the air and 
climate of Sicily, in the Mediterranean sea; and there 
was an understanding on the occasion, that I should 
hold the post of honour for two years,chiefly in order 
to bring to a conclusion different works that the town 
had then in hand. 

At the two former times when I was raised to the 
dignity, and indeed at all times when I received any 
advancement, I had enjoyed an elation of heart, and 
was, as I may say, crouse and vogie; but experience 
had worked a change upon my nature, and when I 
was saluted on my election with the customary greet- 
ings and gratulations of those present, I felt a so- 
lemnity enter into the frame of my thoughts, and I 
became as it were a new man on the spot. When I re- 
turned home to my own house, I retired into my pri- 
vate chamber for a time, to consult with myself in 
what manner my deportment should 'be regulated; 
for I was conscious that heretofore I had been overly 
governed with a disposition to do things my own 
way, and although not in an avaricious temper, yet 
something, I must confess, with a sort of sinister re- 
spect for my own interests. It may be, that standing 
now clear and free of the world, I had less incitement 
317 



THE PROVOST 

to be so grippy, and so was thought of me, I very 
well know; but in sobriety and truth I conscientious- 
ly affirm, and herein record, that I had lived to par- 
take of the purer spirit which the great mutations of 
the age had conjured into public affairs, and I saw 
that there was a necessity to carry into all dealings 
with the concerns of the community, the same pro- 
bity which helps a man to prosperity in the seques- 
tered traffic of private life. 

This serious and religious communing wrought 
within me to a benign and pleasant issue, and when 
I went back in the afternoon to dine with the cor- 
poration in the council-room, and looked around me 
on the bailies, the councillors, and the deacons, I felt 
as if I was indeed elevated above them all, and that I 
had a task to perform, in which I could hope for but 
little sympathy from many; and the first thing I did 
was to measure, with a discreet hand, the festivity of 
the occasion. 

At all former and precedent banquets, it had been 
the custom to give vent to muckle wanton and lux- 
urious indulgence, and to galravitch, both at hack 
and manger,in a very expensive manner to the funds 
of the town. I therefore resolved to set my face against 
this for the future; and accordingly, when we had en- 
joyed a jocose temperance of loyalty and hilarity, 
with a decent measure of wine, I filled a glass, and 
requesting all present to do the same, without any 

318 



MY THIRD PROVOSTRY 

preliminary reflectionsonthegavaullingofpasttimes, 
I drank good afternoon to each severally, and then 
rose from the table, in a way that put an end to all 
the expectations of more drink. 

But this conduct did not give satisfaction to some 
of the old hands, who had been for years in the habit 
and practice of looking forward to the provost's din- 
ner as to a feast of fat things. Mr Peevie, one of the 
very sickerest of all the former sederunts, came to 
me next morning, in a remonstrating disposition, to 
enquire what had come over me, and to tell me that 
every body was much surprised, and many thought 
it not right of me to breakinuponancientand wonted 
customs in such a sudden and unconcerted manner. 

This Mr Peevie was, in his person, a stumpy man, 
well advanced in years. He had been, in his origin, a 
bonnet-maker; but falling heir to a friend that left 
him a property, he retired from business about the 
fiftieth year of his age, doing nothing but walking 
about with an ivory-headed staff, in a suit of dark 
blue cloth with yellowbuttons, wearing alarge cocked 
hat, and a white three-tiered wig, which was well pow- 
dered every morning by Duncan Curl, the barber. 
The method of his discourse and conversation was 
very precise, and his words were all set forth in a style 
of consequence, that took with many for a season as 
the pith and marrow of solidityand sense. The body, 
however, was but a pompous trifle, and I had for many 
319 



THE PROVOST 

a day held his observes and admonishments in no 
very reverential estimation. So that, when I heard 
him address me in such a memorializing manner, I 
was inclined and tempted to set him off with a flea 
in his lug. However, I was enabled to bridle and rein 
in this prejudicial humour, and answer him in his 
own way. 

"Mr Peevie," quo' I, "you know that few in the 
town hae the repute that ye hae for a gift of sagacity 
by common, and therefore I'll open my mind to you 
in this matter, with a frankness that would not be a 
judicious polity with folk of alighterunderstanding." 
This was before the counter in my shop. I then 
walked in behind it, and drew the chair that stands 
in the corner nearer to the fire, for Mr Peevie. When 
he was seated thereon, and, as was his wont in con- 
versation, had placed both his hands on the top of 
his staff, and leant his chin on the same, I subjoined. 
"Mr Peevie, I need not tell to a man of your ex- 
perience, that folk in public stations cannot always 
venture to lay before the world the reasons of their 
conduct on particular occasions; and therefore, when 
men who have been long in the station that I have 
filled in this town, are seen to step aside from what 
has been in time past, it is to be hoped that grave 
and sensible persons like you, Mr Peevie, will no 
rashly condemn them unheard; nevertheless, my good 
friend, I am very happy that ye have spoken to me 

320 



MY THIRD PROVOSTRY 

anent the stinted allowance of wine and punch at the 
dinner, because the like thing from any other would 
have made me jealouse that the complaint was alto- 
gether owing to a disappointed appetite, which is a 
corrupt thing, that I am sure would never affect a 
man of such a public spirit as you are well known 
to be." 

Mr Peevie,at this, lifted hischin from off his hands, 
and dropping his arms down upon his knees, held his 
staff by the middle, as he replied, looking upward 
to me, 

"What ye say, Provost Pawkie, has in it a solid 
commodity of judgment and sensibility; and ye may 
be sure that I was not without a cogitation of reflec- 
tion, that there had been a discreet argument of eco- 
nomy at the bottom of the revolution which was 
brought to a criticism yesterday's afternoon. Weel 
aware am I, that men in authority cannot appease 
and quell the inordinate concupiscence of the multi- 
tude, and that in a' stations of life there are persons 
who would mumpileese the retinue of the king and 
government for their own behoof and eeteration, 
without any regard to the cause or effect of such 
manifest predilections. But ye do me no more than 
a judicature, in supposing that, in this matter, I am 
habituated wi' the best intentions. For I can assure 
you, Mr Pawkie, that no man in this community has 
a more literal respect for your character than I have, 
321 X 



THE PROVOST 

or is more disposed for a judicious example of con- 
tinence in the way of public enterteenment than I 
have ever been; for, as you know, I am of a constip- 
ent principle towards every extravagant and costive 
outlay. Therefore, on my own account, I had a satis- 
faction at seeing the abridgement which you made 
of our former inebrieties; but there are other persons 
of a conjugal nature, who look upon such castrations 
as a deficiency of their rights, and the like of them 
will find fault with the best procedures." 

"Very true, Mr Peevie," said I, "that's very true; 
but if his Majesty's government, in this war for all 
that is dear to us as men and Britons, wish us, who 
are in authority under them, to pare and save, in 
order that the means of bringing the war to a happy 
end may not be wasted, an example must be set, and 
that example, as a loyal subject and a magistrate, 
it's my intent so to give, in the hope and confidence 
of being backed by every person of a right way of 
thinking." 

"It's no to be deputed, Provost Pawkie," replied 
my friend, somewhat puzzled by what I had said; 
"it's no to be deputed, that we live in a gigantic vor- 
tex, and that every man is bound to make an ener- 
getic dispensation for the good of his country; but I 
could not have thought that our means had come to 
sic an alteration and extremity, as that the reverent 
homage of the Michaelmas dinners could have been 

322 



MY THIRD PROVOSTRY 

enacted, and declared absolute and abolished, by any 
interpolation less than the omnipotence of parlia- 
ment." 

"Not abolished, Mr Peevie," cried I, interrupting 
him; "that would indeed be a stretch of power. No, 
no; I hope we're both ordained to partake of many a 
Michaelmas dinner thegether yet; but with a meted 
measure of sobriety. For we neither live in the auld 
time nor the golden age, and it would not do now for 
the like of you and me, Mr Peevie, to be seen in the 
dusk of the evening, toddling home from the town- 
hall wi' goggling een and havering tongues, and one 
of the town-officers following at a distance in case of 
accidents; sic things ye ken, hae been, but nobody 
would plead for their continuance." 

Mr Peevie did not relish this, for in truth it came 
near his owndoors,it having been his annual practice 
for some years at the Michaelmas dinner to give a 
sixpence to James Hound, the officer, to see him safe 
home, and the very time before he had sat so long, 
that honest James was obligated to cleek and oxter 
him the whole way; and in the way home, the old 
man, cagie with what he had gotten, stood in the 
causey opposite to Mr M 'Vest's door, then deacon of 
the taylors, and trying to snap his fingers, sang like 
a daft man, 

'The sheets they were thin and the blankets were sma', 
And the taylor fell through the bed, thimble and a'." 

323 



THE PROVOST 

So that he was disconcerted by my innuendo, and 
shortly after left the shop, I trow, with small in- 
clination to propagate any sedition against me, for 
the abbreviation I had made of the Michaelmas 
galravitching. 



CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR 
THE CHURCH VACANT 



XLIV THE CHURCH VACANT 

I HAD LONG BEEN SENSIBLE THAT, IN 

getting Mr Pittle the kirk, I had acted with the levity 
and indiscretion of a young man; but at that time I 
understood not the nature ofpublic trust,nor,indeed, 
did the community at large. Men in power then ruled 
more for their own ends than in these latter times; 
and use and wont sanctioned and sanctified many 
doings, from the days of our ancestors, that, but to 
imagine, will astonish and startle posterity. Accord- 
ingly, when Mr Pittle, after a lingering illness, was 
removed from us, which happened in the first year of 
my third provostry, I bethought me of the conse- 
quences which had ensued from his presentation, and 
resolved within myself to act a very different part in 
the filling up of the vacancy. With this intent, as soon 
as the breath was out of his body, I sent round for 
some of the most weighty and best considered of the 
councillors and elders, and told them that a great 
trust was, by the death of the minister, placed in our 
hands, and that, in these times, we ought to do what 
in us lay to get a shepherd that would gather back 
to the establishment the flock which had been scatter- 
ed among the seceders, by the feckless crook and ill- 
guiding of their former pastor. 

They all agreed with me in this, and named one 
eminent divine after another; but the majority of 
voices were in favour of Dr Whackdeil of Kirkbogle, 
a man of weight and example, both in and out the 
327 



THE PROVOST 

pulpit, so that it was resolved to give the call to him, 
which was done accordingly. 

It however came out that the Kirkbogle stipend 
was better than ours, and the consequence was, that 
having given the call, it became necessary to make up 
the deficiency; for it was not reasonable to expect 
that the reverend doctor, withhis small family of nine 
children, would remove to us at a loss. How to ac- 
complish this was a work of some difficulty, for the 
town revenues were all eaten up with one thing and 
another; but upon an examination of the income, a- 
rising from what had been levied on the seats for the 
repair of the church, it was discovered that, by doing 
away a sinking fund, which had been set apart to re- 
deem the debt incurred for the same, and by the town 
taking the debt on itself, we could make up a suffici- 
ency to bring the doctor among us. And in so far as 
having an orthodox preacher, and a very excellent 
man for our minister, there was great cause to be sat- 
isfied with that arrangement. 

But the payment of the interest on the public debt, 
with which the town was burdened, began soon after 
to press heavily on us, and we were obligated to take 
on more borrowed money, in order to keep our credit, 
and likewise to devise ways and means, in the shape 
of public improvements, to raise an income to make 
up what was required. This led me to suggest the 
building of the new bridge, the cost of which, by 

328 




HIS LORDSHI 



THE CHURCH VACANT 

contract, there was no reason to complain of, and the 
toll thereon, while the war lasted, not only paid the 
interest of the borrowed money by which it was built, 
but left a good penny in the nook of the treasurer's 
box for other purposes. 

Had the war continued, and the nation to prosper 
thereby as it did, nobody can doubt that a great 
source of wealth and income was opened to the town; 
but when peace came round, and our prosperity be- 
gan to fall off, the traffic on the bridge grew less and 
less, insomuch that the toll, as I now understand, (for 
since my resignation, I meddle not with public con- 
cerns,) does not yield enough to pay the five per cent 
on the prime cost of the bridge, by which my succes- 
sors suffer much molestation in raising the needful 
money to do the same. However, every body contin- 
ues well satisfied with Dr Whackdeil, who was the 
original cause of thisperplexity; and it is to be hoped 
that, in time, things will grow better, and the reven- 
ues come round again to idemnify the town for its 
present tribulation. 



CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE 
THE STRAMASH IN THE COUNCIL 



CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE 

THE STRAMASH IN THE COUNCIL 

AS I HAVE SAID, MY THIRD PROVOSTRY 
was undertaken in a spirit of sincerity, different in 
some degree from that of the two former; but strange 
and singular as it may seem, I really think I got less 
credit for the purity of my intents, than I did even in 
the first. During the whole term from the election in 
the year 1813 to the Michaelmas following, I verily 
believe that no one proposal which I made to the 
council was construed in a right sense; this was part- 
ly owing to the repute I had acquired for canny man- 
agement, but chiefly to the perverse views and mis- 
conceptions of that Yankee thorn-in-the-side, Mr 
Hickery, who never desisted from setting himself a- 
gainst every thing that sprang from me, and as often 
found some show of plausibility to maintain his argu- 
mentations. And yet, for all that, he was a man held 
in no esteem or respect in the town; for he had we- 
aried every body out by his everlasting contradic- 
tions. Mr Plan was likewise a source of great tribula- 
tion to me; for he was ever and anon coming forward 
with some new device, either for ornament or profit, 
as he said, to the burgh; and no small portion of my 
time, that might have been more advantageously 
employed, was wasted in the thriftless consideration 
of his schemes: all which, with my advanced years, 
begat in me a sort of distaste to the bickerings of the 
council chamber; so I conferred and communed with 
333 



THE PROVOST 

myself, anent the possibility of ruling the town with- 
out having recourse to so unwieldy a vehicle as the 
wheels within wheels of the factions which the Yan- 
kee reformator, and that projectile Mr Plan, as he 
was called by Mr Peevie, had inserted among us. 

I will no equivocate that there was, in this notion, 
an appearance of taking more on me than the laws 
allowed; but then my motives were so clean to my 
conscience, and I was so sure of satisfying the people 
by the methods I intended to pursue, that there could 
be no moral fault in the trifle of illegality, which, may 
be, I might have been led on to commit. However, I 
was fortunately spared from the experiment, by a 
sudden change in the council. OnedayMrHickery 
and Mr Plan, who had been for years colleaguing to- 
gether for their own ends, happened to differ in op- 
inion, and the one suspecting that this difference was 
the fruit of some secret corruption, they taunted each 
other, and came to high words, and finally to an open 
quarrel, actually shaking their neeves across the 
table, and, I'll no venture to deny, maybe exchang- 
ing blows. 

Such a convulsion in the sober councils of a burgh 
town was never heard of. It was a thing not to be en- 
dured, and so I saw at the time, and was resolved to 
turn it to the public advantage. Accordingly, when 
the two angry men had sat back in their seats, 
bleached in the face with passion, and panting and 

334 



THE STRAMASH IN THE COUNCIL 

out of breath, I rose up in my chair at the head of the 
table, and with a judicial solemnity addressed the 
council, saying, that what we had witnessed was a 
disgrace not to be tolerated in a Christian land; that 
unless we obtained indemnity for the past, and secur- 
ity for the future, I would resign; but in doing so I 
would bring the cause thereof before the Fifteen at 
Edinburgh, yea, even to the House of Lords at 
London; so^I gave the offending parties notice, as 
well as those who, from motives of personal friend- 
ship, might be disposed to overlook the insult that 
had been given to the constituted authority of the 
king, so imperfectly represented in my person, as it 
would seem, by the audacious conflict and misde- 
meanour which had just taken place. 

This was striking while the iron was hot: every 
one looked at my sternness with surprise, and some 
begged me to be seated, and to consider the matter 
calmly. "Gentlemen," quo' I, "dinna mistake me. 
I never was in more composure all my life. It's in- 
deed no on my own account that I feel on this occa- 
sion. The gross violation of all the decent decorum 
of magisterial authority, is not a thing that affects 
me in my own person; it's an outrage against the 
state; the prerogatives of the king's crown are en- 
damaged; atonement must be made, or punishment 
must ensue. It's a thing that by no possibility can 
be overlooked: it's an offence committed in open 

335 




THE PROVOST 

court, and we cannot but take cognizance thereof." 

I saw that what I said was operating to an effect, 
and that the two troublesome members were con- 
founded. Mr Hickery rose to offer some apology; 
but, perceiving I had now got him in a girn, I inter- 
posed my authority, and would not permit him to 
proceed. 

"Mr Hickery," said I, "it's of no use to address 
yourself to me. I am very sensible that ye are sorry 
for your fault; but that will not do. The law knows no 
such thing as repentance; and it is the law, not me 
nor our worthy friends here, that ye have offended. 
In short, Mr Hickery, the matter is such that, in one 
word, either you and Mr Plan must quit your seats 
at this table of your own free-will, or I must quit 
mine, and mine I will not give up without letting the 
public know the shame on your part that has com- 
pelled me." 

He sat down and I sat down; and for some time 
the other councillors looked at one another in si- 
lence and wonder. Seeing, however, that my gentle 
hint was not likely to be taken, I said to the town- 
clerk, who was sitting at the bottom of the table, 

"Sir,it's your duty to make a minute of every thing 
that is done and said at the sederunts of the council; 
and as provost, I hereby require of you to record the 
particularities of this melancholy crisis." 

Mr Keelevine made an endeavour to dissuade me; 

336 



THE STRAMASH IN THE COUNCIL 

but I set him down with a stern voice, striking the 
table at the same time with all my birr, as I said, "Sir, 
you have no voice here. Do you refuse to perform 
what I order? At your peril I command the thing to 
be done." 

Never had such austeritybeen seen in my conduct 
before. The whole council sat in astonishment; and 
Mr Keelevine prepared his pen, and took a sheet of 
paper to draw out a notation of the minute, when 
Mr Peevie rose, and after coughing three times, and 
looking first at me and syne at the two delinquents, 
said 

"My Lord Provost,! was surprised, and beginning 
to be confounded, at the explosion which the two 
gentlemen have committed. No man can designate 
the extent of such an official malversation, demon- 
strated, as it has been here, in the presence of us all, 
who are the lawful custodiers of the kingly dignity in 
this his majesty's royal burgh. I will, therefore, not 
take it upon me either to apologise or to obliviate 
their offence; for, indeed, it is an offence that merits 
the most condign animadversion, and the conse- 
quences might be legible for ever, were a gentleman, 
so conspicable in the town as you are, to evacuate 
the magistracy on account of it. But it is my balsamic 
advice, that rather than promulgate this matter, the 
two malcontents should abdicate, and that a precept 
should be placarded at this sederunt as if they were 
337 Y 




THE PROVOST 

not here, but had resigned and evaded their places, 
precursive to the meeting." 

To this I answered, that no one could suspect me 
of wishing to push the matter further, provided the 
thing could be otherwise settled; and therefore, if Mr 
Plan and Mr Hickery would shake hands, and agree 
never to notice what had passed to each other, and 
the other members and magistrates would consent 
likewise to bury the business in oblivion, I would a- 
gree to the balsamic advice of Mr Peevie, and even 
waive my obligation to bind over the hostile parties 
to keep the king's peace, so that the whole affair 
might neither be known nor placed upon record. 

Mr Hickery, I could discern, was rather surprised; 
but I found that I had thus got the thief in the wuddy, 
and he had no choice; so both he and Mr Plan rose 
from their seats in a very sheepish manner, and look- 
ing at us as if they had unpleasant ideas in their 
minds, they departed forth the council-chamber; and 
a minute was made by the town-clerk that they, hav- 
ing resigned their trust as councillors, two other gen- 
tlemen at the next meeting should be chosen into 
their stead. 

Thus did I, in a manner most unexpected, get my- 
self rid and clear of the two most obdurate opposi- 
tionists, and by taking care to choose discreet per- 
sons for their successors, I was enabled to wind the 
council round my ringer, which was a far more expe- 

338 



THE STRAMASH IN THE COUNCIL 

dient method of governingthe community than what 
I had at one time meditated, even if I could have 
brought it to a bearing. But, in order to understand 
the full weight and importance of this, I must de- 
scribe how the choice and election was made, be- 
cause, in order to make my own power and influence 
the more sicker, it was necessary that I should not be 
seen in the business. 



CHAPTER FORTY-SIX 
THE NEW COUNCILLORS 



XLVI THE NEW COUNCILLORS 

MR PEEVIE WAS NOT A LITTLE PROUD 
of the part he had played in the storm of the council, 
and his words grew, if possible, longer-nebbit and 
more kittle than before, in so much that the same 
evening, when I called on him after dusk, by way of 
a device to get him to help the implementing of my 
intents with regard to the choice of two gentlemen to 
succeed those whom he called "the expurgated dis- 
locators," it was with a great difficulty that I could 
expiscate his meaning. "Mr Peevie," said I, when we 
were cozily seated by ourselves in his little back par- 
lour the mistress having set out the gardevin and 
tumblers, and the lass brought in the hot water "I 
do not think, Mr Peevie, that in all my experience, 
and I am now both an old man and an old magis- 
trate, that I ever saw any thing better managed than 
the manner in which ye quelled the hobleshow this 
morning, and therefore we maun hae a little more of 
your balsamic advice, to makea'heal among usagain; 
and now that I think o't, how has it happent that ye 
hae never been a bailie? I'msure it's dueboth to your 
character and circumstance that yeshouldtake upon 
you a portion of the burden of the town honours. 
Therefore, Mr Peevie, would it no be a very proper 
thing, in the choice of the new councillors, to take 
men of a friendly mind towards you, and of an easy 
and manageable habit of will." 

The old man was mightily taken with this insinua- 

343 



THE PROVOST 

tion, and acknowledged that it would give him plea- 
sure to be a bailie next year. We then cannily pro- 
ceeded, justas if onething begat another, todiscourse 
anent the different men that were likely to do as 
councillors, and fixed at last on Alexander Hodden 
the blanket merchant, and Patrick Fegs the grocer, 
both excellent charactersof their kind. There was not, 
indeed, in the whole burgh at the time, a person of 
such a flexible easy nature as Mr Hodden; and his 
neighbour, Mr Fegs, was even better, for he was so 
good-tempered, and kindly, and complying, that the 
very callants at the grammar school had nicknamed 
him Barley-sugar Pate. 

"No better than them can be,"said I to Mr Peevie; 
"they are likewise both well to do in the world, and 
should be brought into consequence; and the way o't 
canna be in better hands than your own. I would, 
therefore, recommend it to you to see them on the 
subject, and, if ye find them willing, lay your hairs 
in the water to bring the business to a bearing." 

Accordingly, we settled to speak of it as a matter 
in part decided, that Mr Hodden and Mr Fegs were 
to be the two new councillors; and to make the thing 
sure, as soon as I went home I told it to Mrs Pawkie 
as a state secret, and laid my injunctions on her not 
to say a word about it, either to Mrs Hodden or to 
Mrs Fegs, the wives of our two elect; for I knew her 
disposition, and that, although to a certainty not a 

344 



THE NEW COUNCILLORS 

word of the fact would escape from her, yetshe would 
be utterly unable to rest until she had made the sub- 
stance of it known in some way or another; and, as 
I expected, so it came to pass. She went that very 
night to Mrs Rickerton, the mother of Mr Feg'swife, 
and, as I afterwards picked out of her, told the old 
lady that maybe, erelong, she would hear of some 
great honour that would come to her family, with 
other mystical intimations that pointed plainly to 
the dignities of the magistracy; the which, when she 
had returned home, so worked upon the imagination 
of Mrs Rickerton, that, before going to bed, she felt 
herself obliged to send for her daughter, to the end 
that she might be delivered and eased of what she 
had heard. In thisway Mr Fegs got aforetasteof what 
had been concerted for his ad vantage; and Mr Peevie, 
in the mean time, through his helpmate, had, in like 
manner,not beenidlejthe effect of all which was, that 
next day, every where in the town, people spoke of 
Mr Hodden and Mr Fegs as being ordained to be 
the new councillors, in the stead of the two who had, 
as it was said,resignedin so unaccountable a manner, 
so that no candidates offered, and the election was 
concluded in the most candid and agreeable spirit 
possible; after which I had neither trouble nor adver- 
sary, but went on, in my own prudent way, with the 
works in hand the completion of the new bridge, 
the reparation of the tolbooth steeple, and the big- 
345 



THE PROVOST 

gingof the new schools on the piece of ground adjoin- 
ing to my own at the Westergate; and in the doing 
of the latter job I had an opportunity of manifesting 
my public spirit; for when the scheme, as I have re- 
lated, was some years before given up, on account 
of Mr Plan's castles in the air for educating tawny 
children from the East and West Indies, I inclosed 
my own ground, and built the house thereon now 
occupied by Collector Gather's widow, and the town, 
per consequence, was not called on for one penny of 
the cost, but saved so much of a wall as the length of 
mine extended a part not less than a full third part 
of the whole. No doubt, all these great and useful pub- 
lic works were not done without money;but the town 
was then in great credit, and many persons were will- 
ing and ready to lend; for every thing was in a pros- 
perous order, and we had a prospect of a vast increase 
of income, not only from the toll on the new bridge, 
but likewise from three very excellent shops which 
we repaired on the ground floor of the tolbooth. We 
had likewise feued out to advantage a considerable 
portion of the town moor; so that had things gone on 
in the way they were in my time, there can be no 
doubt that the burgh would have been in very flour- 
ishing circumstances, and instead of being drowned, 
as it now is, in debt, it might have been in the most 
topping way; and if the project that I had formed 
for bringing in a supply of water by pipes, had been 

346 



THE NEW COUNCILLORS 

carried into effect, it would have been a most advan- 
tageous undertaking for the community at large. 

But my task is now drawing to an end ; and I have 
only to relatewhat happened at the conclusion of the 
last act of my very serviceable and eventful life, the 
which I will proceed to do with as much brevity as is 
consistent with the nature of that free and faithful 
spirit in which the whole of these notandums have 
been indited. 



CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN 
THE RESIGNATION 



CHAPTER XLVII THE RESIGNATION 

SHORTLY AFTER THE BATTLE OF WAT- 
erloo, I began to see that a change was coming in 
among us. There was less work for the people to do, 
no outgate in the army for roving and idle spirits, 
andthosewhohad tacksofthetownlandscomplained 
of slack markets; indeed, in my own double vocation 
of the cloth shop and wine cellar, I had a taste and 
experience of the general declension that would of a 
necessity ensue, when the great outlay of government 
and the dischargefrom public employ drew more and 
more to an issue. So I bethought me, that being now 
well stricken in years, and, though I say it that should 
not, likewise a man in good respect and circumstan- 
ces, it would be a prudent thing to retire and secede 
entirely from all farther intromissions with public 
affairs. 

Accordingly, towards the midsummer of the year 
1816, I commenced in a far off way to give notice, 
that at Michaelmas I intended to abdicate my au- 
thority and power, to which intimations little heed 
was at first given; but gradually the seed took with 
the soil, and began to swell and shoot up, in so much 
that, by the middle of August, it was an understood 
thing that I was to retire from the council, and re- 
frain entirely from the part I had so long played with 
credit in the burgh. 

When people first began to believe that I was in 
earnest, I cannot but acknowledge I was remonstrat- 
351 



THE PROVOST 

ed with by many, and that not a few were pleased to 
say my resignation would be a public loss; but these 
expressions, and the disposition of them, wore away 
before Michaelmas came; and I had some sense of 
the feeling which the fluctuating gratitude of the 
multitude often causes to rise in the breasts of those 
who have ettled their best to serve the ungrateful 
populace. However, I considered with myself that it 
would not do for me, after what I had done for the 
town and commonality, to go out of office like aknot- 
less thread, and that, as a something was of right due 
to me, I would be committing an act of injustice to 
my family if I neglected the means of realizing the 
same. But it was a task of delicacy, and who could I 
prompt to tell the town-council to do what they 
ought to do? I could not myself speak of my own 
services I could ask nothing. Truly it was a sub- 
ject that cost me no small cogitation; for I could not 
confide it even to the wife of my bosom. However, I 
gained my end, and the means and method thereof 
may advantage other public characters, in a similar 
strait, to know and understand. 

Seeing that nothing was moving onwards in men's 
minds to do the act of courtesy to me, so justly my 
due, on the Saturday before Michaelmas I invited 
Mr Mucklewheel, the hosier, (who had the year be- 
fore been chosen into the council, in the place of old 
Mr Peevie, who had a paralytic, and never in conse- 

352 



THE RESIGNATION 

quence was made a bailie,) to take a glass of toddy 
with me, a way and method of peutering with the 
councillors, one by one, that I often found of a great 
efficacy in bringing their understandings into a do- 
cile state; and when we had discussed one cheerer 
with the usual clishmaclaver of the times, I began, as 
we were both birzing the sugar for the second, to 
speak with a circumbendibus about my resignation 
of the trusts I had so long held with profit to the 
community. 

"Mr Mucklewheel," quo' I "ye're but a young man, 
and no versed yet, as ye will be, in the policy and dip- 
lomatics that are requisite in the management of the 
town, and therefore I need not say any thing to you 
about what I have got an inkling of, as to the intents 
of the new magistrates and council towards me. It's 
very true that I have been long a faithful servant 
to the public, but he's a weak man who looks to 
any reward from the people; and after the experi- 
ence I have had, I would certainly prove myself 
to be one of the very weakest, if I thought it was 
likely, that either anent the piece of plate and the 
vote of thanks, any body would take a speciality of 
trouble." 

To this Mr Mucklewheel answered, that he was 
glad to hear such a compliment was intended; "No 
man," said he, "more richly deserves a handsome to- 
ken of public respect, and I will surely give the pro- 
353 z 



THE PROVOST 

posal all the countenance and support in my power 
possible to do." 

"As to that," I replied, pouring in the rum and help- 
ing- myself to the warm water, "I entertain no doubt, 
and I have every confidence that the proposal, when 
it is made, will be in a manner unanimously ap- 
proved. But, Mr Mucklewheel, what's every body's 
business, is nobody's. I have heard of no one that's 
to bring the matter forward; it's all fair and smooth 
to speak of such things in holes and corners, but to 
face the public with them is anothersort of thing. For 
few men can abide to see honours conferred on their 
neighbours, though between ourselves, Mr Muckle- 
wheel, every man in a public trust should, for his own 
sake, further and promote the bestowing of public re- 
wards on his predecessors; because looking forward 
to the timewhen he must himself become a predeces- 
sor, he should think how he would feel were he, like 
me, after a magistracy of near to fifty years, to sink 
into the humility of a private station, as if he had 
never been any thing in the world. In sooth, Mr 
Mucklewheel, I'll no deny that it's a satisfaction to 
me to think that maybe thepiece of plateand the vote 
of thanks will be forthcoming; at the same time, un- 
less they are both brought to a bearing in a proper 
manner, I would rather nothing was done at all." 

"Ye may depend on't," said Mr Mucklewheel, 
that it will be done very properly, and in a manner 

354 



THE RESIGNATION 

to do credit both to you and the council. I'll speak to 
Bailie Shuttlethrift, the new provost, to propose the 
thing himself, and that I'll second it." 

"Hooly,hooly, friend," quo' I, with a laugh of jocu- 
larity, no ill-pleased to see to what effect I had work- 
ed upon him; "that will never do; ye're but a green- 
horn in public affairs. The provost maun ken nothing 
about it, or let on that he doesna ken, which is the 
same thing, for folk would say that he was ettling at 
something of the kind for himself, and was only eager 
for a precedent. It would, therefore, ne'er do to speak 
to him. But Mr Birky, who is to be elected into the 
council in my stead, would be a very proper person. 
For ye ken coming in as my successor, it would very 
naturally fall to him to speak modestly of himself, 
compared with me, and therefore I think he is the 
fittest person to make the proposal, and you, as the 
next youngest that has been taken in, might second 
the same." 

Mr Mucklewheel agreed with me, that certainly 
the thing would come with the best grace from my 
successor. 

"But I doubt," was my answer, "if he kens aught 
of the matter; ye might however enquire. In short, 
Mr Mucklewheel, ye see it requires a canny hand to 
manage public affairs, and a sound discretion to 
know who are the fittest to work in them. If the case 
were not my own, and if I was speaking for another 
355 



THE PROVOST 

that had done for the town what I have done, the task 
would be easy. For I would just rise in my place, and 
say as a thing of course, and admitted on all hands, 
'Gentlemen, it would be a very wrong thing of us, to 
let Mr Mucklewheel, (that is, supposing you were 
me,) who has so long been a fellow-labourer with us, 
to quit his place here without some mark of our own 
esteem for him as a man, and some testimony from 
the council to his merits as a magistrate. Every body 
knows that he has been for near to fifty years a dis- 
tinguished character, and has thrice filled the very 
highest post in the burgh; that many great improve- 
ments have been made in his time, wherein his influ- 
ence and wisdom was very evident; I would therefore 
propose, that a committee should be appointed to 
consider of the best means of expressing our sense of 
his services, in which I shall be very happy to assist, 
provided the provost will consent to act as chairman/ 

"That's the way I would open the business; and 
were I the seconder, as you are to be to Mr Birky, I 
would say, 

'The worthy councillor has but anticipated what 
every one was desirous to propose, and although a 
committee is a very fit way of doing the thing re- 
spectfully, there is yet a far better, and that is, for the 
council now sitting to come at once to a resolution 
on the subject, then a committee may be appointed 
to carry that resolution into effect.' 

356 



THE RESIGNATION 

" Having said this, you might advert first to the vote 
of thanks, and then to the piece of plate, to remain 
with the gentleman's family as a monumental testi- 
mony of the opinion which was entertained by the 
community of his services and character." 

Having in this judicious manner primed Mr 
Mucklewheel as to the procedure, I suddenly recol- 
lected that I had a letter to write to catch the post, 
and having told him so, "Maybe," quo' I, "ye would 
step the length of Mr Birky's and see how he is in- 
clined, and by the time I am done writing, ye can be 
back; for after all that we have been saying, and the 
warm and friendly interest you have taken in this 
business, I really would not wish my friends to stir 
in it, unless it is to be done in a satisfactory manner." 

Mr Mucklewheel accordingly went to Mr Birky, 
who had of course heard nothing of the subject, but 
they came back together, and he was very vogie with 
the notion of making a speech before the council, for 
he was an upsetting young man. In short, the matter 
was so set forward, that, on the Monday following, it 
was all over the town that I was to get a piece of plate 
at my resignation, and the whole affair proceeded so 
well to an issue, that the same was brought to a head 
to a wish. Thus had I the great satisfaction of going 
to my repose as a private citizen with a very hand- 
some silver cup, bearing an inscription in the Latin 
tongue,of the time I had been in the council, guildry, 

357 



THE PROVOST 

and magistracy; and although, in the outset of my 
public life, some of my dealings may have been 
leavened with the leaven of antiquity, yet, upon the 
whole, it will not be found, I think, that, one thing 
weighed with another, I have been an unprofitable 
servant to the community. Magistrates and rulers 
must rule according to the maxims and affections of 
the world; at least, whenever I tried any other way, 
strange obstacles started up in the opinions of men 
against me, and my purest intents were often more 
criticised than some which were less disinterested ;so 
much is it the natural humour of mankind to jeal- 
ouse and doubt the integrity of all those who are in 
authority and power, especially when they see them 
deviating from the practices of their predecessors. 
Posterity, therefore, or I am far mistaken, will not be 
angered at my plain dealing with regard to the small 
motives of private advantage of which I have made 
mention, since it has been my endeavour to show and 
to acknowledge, that there is a reforming spirit a- 
broad among men, and that really the world is grad- 
ually growing better slowly I allow; but still it is 
growing better, and the main profit of the improve- 
ment will be reaped by those who are ordained to 
come after us. 



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SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER 

By DEAN RAMSAY. The Reminiscences of Dean Ramsay are a kind 
of literary haggis; and no dish better deserves to be worthily served 
up. "Next to the Waverley Novels, "says a chief authority, "it has 
done more than any other book to make Scottish customs, phrases, 
and traits of character familiar to Englishmen at home and abroad. 
Mr Henry W. Kerr's illustrations provide a fitting crown to the 
feast. These pictures of characteristic Scottish scenes and Scottish 
faces give colour to the pen-and-ink descriptions, and bring out the 
full flavour of the text. 39Opp. Buckram, 5/- net;. Leather, 7/6 net. 

ANNALS OF THE PARISH 

By JOHN GALT. The dry humour and whimsical sweetness of John 

Gait's masterpiece need no description at this time of day it is one 

of those books, full of " the birr and sneddum that is the juice and 

flavour" of life itself, which, like good wines, are the better for long 

keeping. It was the first "kail-yard" to be planted in Scottish 

letters, and it is still the most fertile. The volume contains sixteen 

of Mr Kerr's water-colours, reproduced in colour. 316 pp. 

Buckram, 5/- net ; Leather, 7/6 net. 

MANSIE WAUCH 

By D. M. MoiR. This edition of the book, which has been designed 
as a companion volume to "The Annals," contains sixteen illus- 
trations in colour by C. Martin Hardie, R.S.A. Moir was one of 
John Gait's chief friends, and, like a good comrade, he brought out 
a rival book. Its native blitheness and its racy use of the vernacular 
will always keep it alive. 360 pp. Buckram, 5/- net ; 
Velvet Persian, 7/6 net. 



T- N FOULIS PUBLISHER 



BOOKS TO ENTERTAIN 



THE LIGHTER SIDE OF IRISH LIFE 

By GEORGE A. BIRMINGHAM. Its title suggests unbridled jocular- 
ity and it is in fact full of inimitable fun ; but there is a basis of 
solid thought and sympathy to all the mirth. While replenishing 
the common stock of Irish stories, Mr Birmingham adjusts our con- 
ception of the race. Mr Kerr's sixteen illustrations in colour form 
a gallery of genre studies, sympathetic and yet sincere, that allows 
us to look with our own eyes upon Ireland as she really is to-day. 
288 pp. Buckram, 5/- net. Velvet Persian, 7/6 net. 

IRISH LIFE 6? CHARACTER 

ByMr?S. C. HALL. "Talesof Irish Life" will remind the reader 
more of Lever or Sam Lover than of ' ' Lavengro. " It is effervescent 
and audacious, ringing with all the fun of the fair, and spiced with 
the constant presence of a vivacious and irresistible personality. 
The sixteen illustrations by Erskine Nicol are in precisely the same 
vein, matching Mrs Hall's sketches so manifestly that it is strange 
they have never been united before. To look at them is to laugh. 
33 PP- Buckram, 5/- net. Velvet Persian, 7/6 net. 

LORDCOCKBURN'SMEMORIALS 

"This volume," says The Saturday Review, "is one of the most 
entertaining books a reader could lay his hands on." ' ' The book," 
says The Edinburgh Review, "is one of the pleasantest fireside 
volumes that has ever been published." Cockburn's pen could tell 
a tale as well as his tongue, and to read this book is to sit, unob- 
served, at that immortal Round Table, with anecdote and reminis- 
cence in full tide. With twelve portraits in colour by Sir Henry 
Raeburn, and other illustrations. Extra Crown 8vo. 480 pp. 
Buckram, 6/- net. 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CARLYLE 

of INVERESK (1722-1805), edited by J. HILL BURTON. "He 
was the grandest demi-god I ever saw," wrote Sir Walter Scott 
of the author of this book. But, as these Memoirs show, he was a 
demi-god with a very human heart, or, at any rate, a "divine" 
with a thorough knowledge of the world. It was probably these 
qualities that made him such a prominent figure in his day, and it is 
certainly these that give his Recollections their unique importance 
and raciness. They provide * ' by far the most vivid picture of Scot- 
tish life and manners that has been given to the world since Scott's 
day." This edition has been equipped with a series of thirty-six 
portraits reproduced in photogravure of the chief personages who 
move in its pages. 612 pp. Buckram, 6/- net. 



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PR 4708 ,G2 P7 1913 

SMC 

Gait, John, 1779-1839 

The provost / 
AHK-1141 (mcsk)