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Full text of "Reminiscences of Scottish life and character"

COLLEGE 

OF THE PACIFIC 






\ 



\ 



*r 






REMINISCENCES. 



THE KIRK COLLECTION 

From a water-colour drawing by 
HENRY IV. KERR, 



R.S.W. 



DEAN RAMSAY S 
REMINISCENCES OF 

SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER 

Ixa^Yv 



V4 



WITH 

SIXTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS IN COLOUR 

FROM ORIGINAL WATER-COLOUR DRAWINGS 
BY H. W. KERR. 




CHICAGO : 
A. C. McCLURG & CO. 

EDINBURGH: T. N. FOULIS. 
1908. 



Printed in Great Britain. 



Scollu/i 






TNPoulis, 

LONDON. 



AUTHOR S COPYRIGHT EDITION. 
Printed by arrangement with Messrs. Gall dc Inglis. 



JAN 1 51916 

5" 1 



LIBRA R Y 






CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

LlST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 1 

PREFACE TO TWENTY-SECOND EDITION . . 1 

CHAPTER I. 

INTRODUCTORY ....... 7 

CHAPTER II. 

SCOTTISH RELIGIOUS FEELINGS AND OBSERVANCES 56 

CHAPTER III. 

ON OLD SCOTTISH CONVIVIALITY 101 



CHAPTER IV. 
ON THE OLD SCOTTISH DOMESTIC SERVANT . .127 

CHAPTER V. 
SCOTTISH JUDGES . 145 



iv CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER VI. 

PAOR 

ON HUMOUR PROCEEDING FROM SCOTTISH EXPRES 
SIONS, INCLUDING SCOTTISH PROVERBS . .169 

CHAPTER VII. 
ON SCOTTISH STORIES OF WIT AND HUMOUR . .243 

CONCLUSION , r , . . .351 

INDEX #75 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



from paintings by 
HENRY W. KERR, A.R.S.A., R.S.W. 



THE KIRK COLLECTION . 



THE PILLAR O 5 THE KIRK 



A SCOTTISH BAPTISM 



THE WEAVER S SHOP 



THE WEAVER . 



THE SHEPHERD 



THE GRAVEDIGGER, 



THE SNUFFER. 



A QUID GANGIN 5 PLEA 



A LOWLAND COTTAGE 



THE MUTCH . 



THE- BONNET LAIRD 



THE BEADLE . 



HIS DAY AT THE PLATE . 



THE LAIRD S DAUGHTER, 



THE READER . 



PAG* 

. frontispiece 

. . 12 

28 

60 

76 

92 

108 

124 

156 

172 

188 

252 

300 

316 

332 

348 



PREFACE 

TO 

TWENTY-SECOND EDITION. 



IN preparing another duodecimo edition of the " Remi 
niscences of Scottish Life and Character," I gladly 
avail myself of the opportunity afforded me of repro 
ducing some of the materials which had been added 
to the octavo edition, especially that part at page 
322, etc., which advocated a modified interchange of 
pulpits between Episcopalian and Presbyterian clergy 
men ; to add also some excellent Scottish stories 
which had been sent to me by kind friends. I am 
desirous also of repeating the correction of an error 
into which we had fallen in copying the account of a 
toast in the Highland form, which had been kindly 
contributed by the respected minister of Moulin, in 
the octavo edition at page 70. To Lowland concep 
tions, the whole proceeding has somewhat the appear 
ance of a respectable company at once becoming insane ; 
still it ought to be correct, and the printer had, by 
mistake, inserted a word that has no existence in the 
Gaelic language. The text reads 

" Lud ris 1 Lud ris ! You again ! you again ! " 



2 PREFACE. 

It should be 

Sud ris ! Sud ris ! Yon again ! yon again I 

that is " yon cheer again." 

The demand for a twenty-second edition of a volume 
of " Scottish Reminiscences " embracing subjects which 
are necessarily of a limited and local character a 
demand which has taken place during the course of 
little more than fifteen years since its first publication 
proves, I think, the correctness of the idea upon which 
it was first undertaken viz. that it should depict a 
phase of national manners which was fast passing 
away, and thus, in however humble a department, 
contribute something to the materials of history, by 
exhibiting social customs and habits of thought which 
at a particular era were characteristic of a race. It 
may perhaps be very fairly said that the Reminiscences 
came out at a time specially suitable to rescue these 
features of national life and character from oblivion. 
They had begun to fade away, and many had, to the 
present generation, become obsolete. 

To those who have not given their attention to the 
subject for the elucidation of which this volume has 
been written, I would present two specimens of the 
sort of materials from which they may expect to find 
these Reminiscences are compiled. They are chosen 
to indicate a style of life and manners now fast fading 
away, and are taken from a period which lies within 
the scope of our own recollections. Now, a subject 
like this can only be illustrated by a copious applica 
tion of anecdotes which must show the features of the 



PREFACE. 3 

past. And let me premise that I make use of anec 
dotes not for the purpose of telling a good story, but 
solely in the way of illustration. I am quite certain 
that there was an originality, a dry and humorous 
mode of viewing persons and events, quite peculiar to 
the older Scottish characters. And I am equally 
certain, that their peculiar humour can only be exhi 
bited in examples. From the late Mr. Erskine of 
Linlathan I received the following : Mr. Erskine 
recollected an old housekeeper at Airth, who belonged 
to this class of character. A speech of this Mrs. 
Henderson was preserved in the family as having 
been made by her at the time of the execution of 
Louis XYI. in 1793. She was noticing the violent 
emotion exhibited by Mr. Bruce of Kinnaird, the 
Abyssinian traveller, at the sad event which had just 
taken place, and added, in the following quaint and 
caustic terms, " There s Kinnaird greeting as if there 
was nae a saunt on earth but himseF and the king o 
France." How utterly unlike anything that would be 
said on such an occasion by an English person in the 
same position in life ! 

For the same purpose, let me introduce a charac 
teristic little Scottish scene, which my cousin, the 
late Sir Thomas Burnett of Leys, used to describe with 
great humour. Sir Thomas had a tenant on his 
estate, a very shrewd clever man, whom he was some 
times in the habit of consulting about country matters. 
On one occasion he came over to Crathes Castle, and 
asked to see Sir Thomas. He was accordingly ushered 
in, accompanied by a young man of very simple appear- 



4 PllEFA CE. 

ance, who gazed about the room in a stupid vacant 
manner. The old man began by saying that he 
understood there was a farm on the estate to be let, 
and that he knew a very fine young man whom he 
wished to recommend as tenant. He said he had 
plenty of siller, and had studied farming on the most 
approved principles sheep-farming in the Highlands, 
cattle-farming in the Lowlands, and so forth, and, in 
short, was a model farmer. When he had finished 
his statement, Sir Thomas, looking very significantly 
at his companion, addressed the old man (as he was 
usually addressed in the county by the name of his 
farm) " Well, Drummy, and is this your friend whom 
you propose for the farm V 1 to which Drummy replied, 
" Oh fie, na. Hout ! that is a kind o a Feel, a friend 
(i.e. a relation) o the wife s, and I just brought him 
ower wi me to show him the place." 

The question of change in the " life and character 
of a people, during the period embraced in the remi 
niscences of an aged individual, must always be a 
subject for deep and serious consideration. In the 
case of Scotland, such changes comprise much that is 
interesting and amusing. But they also contain much 
matter for serious thought and reflection to the lovers 
of their country. In preparing the present edition 
of these Reminiscences, I have marked out many fur 
ther changes, and have marked them from a deep 
feeling of interest in the moral and religious improve 
ment of my country. To my readers I say that I 
hope we have all learned to view such changes under 
a more serious national aspect than a mere question 



PKEFACE. 5 

of amusement or speculation. The Christian, when 
he looks around him on society, must observe many 
things which, as a patriot, he wishes might be perma 
nent, and he marks many things which, as a patriot, 
he wishes were obliterated. What he desires should 
be enduring in his countrymen is, that abiding attri 
butes of Scottish character should be associated 
amongst all men with truth and virtue with honour 
and kindly feelings with temperance and self-denial 
with divine faith and love with generosity and 
benevolence. On the other hand, he desires that 
what may become questions of tradition, and, in regard 
to his own land, REMINISCENCES of Scottish life, shall 
be cowardice and folly, deceit and fraud, the low 
and selfish motives to action which make men traitors 
to their God and hateful to their fellow-men. 

It would be worse than affectation it would be 
ingratitude to disclaim being deeply impressed by 
the favourable reception which has for so long a time 
been given to these Reminiscences at home, in India, 
in America, and in all countries where Scotchmen are 
to be found. 

It is not the least of the enjoyments which I have 
had in compiling these pages, to hear of the kind 
sympathy which they have called forth in other 
minds, and often in the minds of strangers ; and it 
would be difficult for me to describe the pleasure I 
have received when told by a friend that this work 
had cheered him in the hour of depression or of sick 
ness that even for a few moments it may have be 
guiled the weight of corroding care and worldly anxiety 

a 



6 PREFACE. 

I have been desirous of saying a word in favour of 
old Scottish life ; and with some minds, perhaps, the 
book may have promoted a more kindly feeling to 
wards hearts and heads of bygone days. And cer 
tainly I can now truly say, that my highest reward 
my greatest honour and gratification would spring 
from the feeling that it might become a standard 
volume in Scottish cottage libraries, and that by the 
firesides of Scotland these pages might become as 
Household Words. 



EDINBURGH, 23 AINSLIB PLACE. 
St. Andrew s Day.* 



These words, "St. Andrew s Day," were deleted by the Dean; and 
though he lived till the 27th December, he did not touch the proof-sheet* 
after the 19th November 1872. 



REMINISCENCES 

OF 

SCOTTISH LIFE AND CHARACTER. 



CHAPTER THE FIRST. 

INTRODUCTORY. 

I WISH my readers always to bear in mind that these 
Reminiscences are meant to bear upon the changes 
which would include just such a revolution as that 
referred to at page 15 in the bonnet practice of 
Laurencekirk. There is no pretension to any re 
searches of antiquarian character ; they are in fact 
Reminiscences which come almost within personal 
recognition. A kind friend gave me anecdotes of the 
past in her hundredth year. In early life I was 
myself consigned to the care of my granduncle, Sir 
Alexander Ramsay, residing in Yorkshire, and he was 
born in 1715 ; so that I can go pretty far back on my 
own experience, and have thus become cognisant of 
many changes which might be expected as a con 
sequence of such experience. 

I cannot imagine a better illustration of the sort of 
change in the domestic relations of life that has 
taken place in something like the time we speak of, 
than is shown in the following anecdote, which was 
kindly communicated to me by Professor MacGregor 
of the Free Church. I have pleasure in giving it in 



8 REMINISCENCES OF 

the Professor s own words : "I happened one day 
to be at Panmure Castle when Lord Panmure (now 
Dalhousie) was giving a treat to a school, and was 
presented by the Monikie Free Church Deacons 
Court with a Bible on occasion of his having cleared 
them finally of debt on their buildings. Afterwards 
his Lordship took me into the library, where, among 
other treasures, we found a handsome folio Prayer 
Book presented to his ancestor Mr. Maule of Kelly by 
the Episcopalian minister of the district, on occasion 
of his having, by Mr. Maule s help, been brought out 
of jail. The coincidence and contrast were curiously 
interesting." 

For persons to take at various intervals a retrospec 
tive view of life, and of the characters they have met 
with, seems to be a natural feeling of human nature ; 
and every one is disposed at times to recall to memory 
many circumstances and many individuals which 
suggest abundant subjects for reflection. We thus 
find recollections of scenes in which we have been 
joyous and happy. We think of others with which 
we only associate thoughts of sorrow and of sadness. 
Amongst these varied emotions we find subjects for 
reminiscences, of which we would bury the feelings in 
our own hearts as being too sacred for communication 
with others. Then, again, there are many things of 
the past concerning which we delight to take counsel 
with friends and contemporaries. Some persons are 
disposed to go beyond these personal communications 
with friends, and having through life been accustomed 
to write down memoranda of their own feelings, have 
published them to the world. Many interesting works 
have thus been contributed to our literature by writers 
who have sent forth volumes in the form of Memoirs 
of their Own Times, Personal Recollections, Remarks upon 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 9 

Past Scenes, etc. etc. It is not within the scope of this 
work to examine these, nor can I specify the many 
communications I have from different persons, both at- 
home and in our colonial possessions ; in fact, the 
references in many cases have been lost or mislaid. 
But I must acknowledge, however briefly, my obliga 
tions to Dr. Carruthers, Inverness, and to Dr. Cook, 
Haddington, who have favoured me with valuable 
contributions. 

Now, when we come to examine the general question 
of memoirs connected with contemporary history, no 
work is better known in connection with this depart 
ment of Scottish literature than the History of his Own 
Times, by my distinguished relative, Dr. Gilbert 
Burnett, Bishop of Salisbury. Bishop Burnett s father, 
Lord Crimond, was third son of my father s family, 
the Burnetts of Leys, in Kincardineshire. There is 
now at Crathes Castle, the family seat, a magnificent 
full-length portrait of the Bishop in his robes, as 
Prelate of the Garter, by Sir Godfrey Kneller. It 
was presented by himself to the head of his family. 
But, as one great object of the Bishop s history was to 
laud and magnify the personal character and public 
acts of William of Orange, his friend and patron, and 
as William was held in special abhorrence by the 
Jacobite party in Scotland, the Bishop holds a 
prominent, and, with many, a very odious position in 
Scottish Reminiscences ; in fact, he drew upon himself 
and upon his memory the determined hatred and 
unrelenting hostility of adherents to the Stuart cause. 
They never failed to abuse him on all occasions, and I 
recollect old ladies in Montrose, devoted to the exiled 
Prince, with whom the epithet usually applied to the 
Prelate was that of " LeehV Gibby." * 

* Lying Gilbert. 



10 REMINISCENdF.fH OF 

Such language has happily become a "Reminis 
cence." Few would be found now to apply such an 
epithet to the author of the History of his Own Times, 
and certainly it would not be applied on the ground of 
the Jacobite principles to which he was opposed. 
But a curious additional proof of this hostility of 
Scottish Jacobites to the memory of Burnett has lately 
come to light. In a box of political papers lately 
found at Brechin Castle, belonging to the Panmure 
branch of the family, who, in 15, were forfeited on 
the ground of their Jacobite opinions and adherence 
to the cause of Charles Edward, there has been found 
a severe and bitter supposed epitaph for Bishop Burnett. 
By the kindness of the Earl of Dalhousie I was per 
mitted to see this epitaph, and, if I chose, to print it 
in this edition. I am, however, unwilling to stain my 
pages with such an ungenerous and, indeed, I may say, 
so scurrilous a representation of the character of one 
who, in the just opinion of our Lyon King-at-Arms, 
himself a Burnett of the Kemnay branch, has charac 
terised the Bishop of Salisbury as " true and honest, 
and far beyond the standard of his times as a Clergy 
man and as a Bishop." But the epitaph found in 
these Panmure papers shows clearly the prejudices of 
the age in which it was written, and in fact only em 
bodies something of that spirit and of those opinions 
which we have known as still lingering in our own 
Reminiscences. 

If it were not on my part a degree of presumption, 
I might be inclined to consider myself in this volume 
a fellow-labourer with the late accomplished and 
able Mr. Robert Chambers. In a very limited sphere 
it takes a portion of the same field of illustration. I 
should consider myself to have done well if I shall 
direct any of my readers to his able volumes. Who- 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fe CHARACTER. 11 

soever wishes to know what this country really was in 
times past, and to learn, with a precision beyond 
what is supplied by the narratives of history, the 
details of the ordinary current of our social, civil, and 
national life, must carefully study the Domestic Annals 
of Scotland. Never before were a nation s domestic 
features so thoroughly portrayed. Of those features 
the specimens of quaint Scottish humour still remem 
bered are unlike anything else, but they are fast 
becoming obsolete, and my motive for this publication 
has been an endeavour to preserve marks of the past 
which would of themselves soon become obliterated, 
and to supply the rising generation with pictures of 
social life, faded and indistinct to their eyes, but the 
strong lines of which an older race still remember. 
By thus coming forward at a favourable moment, no 
doubt many beautiful specimens of SCOTTISH MIN 
STRELSY have in this manner been preserved from 
oblivion by the timely exertions of Bishop Percy, 
Ritson, Walter Scott, and others. Lord Macaulay, in 
his preface to The Lays of Ancient Rome, shows very 
powerfully the tendency in all that lingers in the 
memory to become obsolete, and he does not hesitate to 
say that " Sir Walter Scott was but just in time to save 
the precious relics of the minstrelsy of the Border." 

It is quite evident that those who have in Scotland 
come to an advanced age, must have found some 
things to have been really changed about them, and 
that on them great alterations have already taken 
place. There are some, however, which yet may be 
in a transition state ; and others in which, although 
changes are threatened, still it cannot be said that 
the changes are begun. I have been led to a con 
sideration of impending alterations as likely to take 
place, by the recent appearance of two very remarkable 



12 REMINISCENCES OF 

and very interesting papers on subjects closely con 
nected with great social Scottish questions, where a 
revolution of opinion may be expected. These are two 
articles in Recess Studies (1870), a volume edited by our 
distinguished Principal, Sir Alexander Grant. One 
essay is by Sir Alexander himself, upon the " Endowed 
Hospitals of Scotland ;" the other by the Eev. Dr. 
Wallace of the Greyfriars, upon " Church Tendencies 
in Scotland." It would be quite irrelevant for me to 
enlarge here upon the merits of those articles. No 
one could study them attentively without being 
impressed with the ability and power displayed in 
them by the authors, their grasp of the subjects, and 
their fair impartial judgment upon the various 
questions which come under their notice. 

From these able disquisitions, and from other prog 
nostics, it is quite evident that sounder principles of 
political economy and accurate experience of human 
life show that much of the old Scottish hospital system 
was quite wrong and must be changed. Changes are 
certainly going on, which seem to indicate that the very 
hard Presbyterian views of some points connected 
with Church matters are in transition. I have 
elsewhere spoken of a past Sabbatarian strictness, 
and I have lately received an account of a strictness 
in observing the national fast-day, or day appointed 
for preparation in celebrating Holy Communion, which 
has in some measure passed away. The anecdote 
adduced the example of two drovers who were going 
on very quietly together. They had to pass through 
a district whereof one was a parishioner, and during 
their progress through it the one whistled with all 
his might, the other screwed up his mouth without 
emitting a single sound. When they came to a burn, 
the silent one, on then crossing the stream, gave 



THE PILLAR O THE KIRK 

From a water-colour drawing, by 

HENRY \V. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., K.S.ir. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 13 

a skip, and began whistling with all his might, ex 
claiming with great triumph to his companion, " I m 
beyond the parish of Forfar now, and I ll whistle as 
muckle as I like." It happened to be the Forfar 
parish fast-day. But a still stricter observance was 
shown by a native of Kirkcaldy, who, when asked by 
his companion drover in the south of Scotland " why he 
didna whistle," quietly answered, " I canna, man ; it s 
our fast-day in Kirkcaldy." I have an instance of a 
very grim assertion of extreme Sabbatarian zeal. A 
maid-servant had come to a new place, and on her 
mistress quietly asking her on Sunday evening to wash 
up some dishes, she indignantly replied, " Mem, I hae 
dune mony sins, and hae mony sins to answer for; but, 
thank God, I hae never been sae far left to mysell as 
to wash up dishes on the Sabbath day." 

I hope it will not for a moment be supposed we 
would willingly throw any ridicule or discouragement 
on the Scottish national tendencies on the subject, or 
that we are not proud of Scotland s example of a 
sacred observance of the fourth commandment in the 
letter and the spirit. We refer now to injudicious ex 
tremes, such, indeed, as our Lord condemned, and 
which seem a fair subject for notice amongst Scottish 
peculiarities. But the philosophy of the question is 
curious. Scotland has ever made her boast of the 
simplest form of worship, and a worship free from 
ceremonial, more even than the Church of England, 
which is received as, in doctrine and ritual, the 
Church of the Reformation. In some respects, therefore, 
may you truly say the only standing recognised obser 
vance in the ceremonial part of Presbyterian worship 
is the Sabbath day an observance which has been 
pushed in times past even beyond the extreme of a 
spirit of Judaism, as if the sabbatical ceremonial 



14 REMINISCENCES OF 

were made a substitute for all other ceremony. Pn 
this, as well as in other matters which we have pointed 
out, what changes have taken place, what changes 
are going on ! It may be difficult to assign precise 
causes for such changes having taken place among us, 
and that during the life-time of individuals now living 
to remember them. It has been a period for many 
changes in manners, habits, and forms of language, 
such as we have endeavoured to mark in this volume. 
The fact of such changes is indisputable, and some 
times it is difficult not only to assign the causes for 
them, but even to describe in what the changes them 
selves consist. They are gradual, and almost impercep 
tible. Scottish people lose their Scotchness ; they leave 
home, and return without those expressions and intona 
tions, and even peculiarity of voice and manner, which 
used to distinguish us from Southern neighbours. In 
all this, I fear, we lose our originality. It has not 
passed away, but with every generation becomes less 
like the real type. 

I would introduce here a specimen of the precise 
sort of changes to which I would refer, as an example 
of the reminiscences intended to be introduced into 
these pages. We have in earlier editions given an 
account of the pains taken by Lord Gardenstone to 
extend and improve his rising village of Laurencekirk ; 
amongst other devices he had brought down, as settlers, 
a variety of artificers and workmen from England. 
With these he had introduced a hatter from New 
castle ; but on taking him to church next day after 
his arrival, the poor man saw that he might decamp 
without loss of time, as he could not expect much 
success in his calling at Laurencekirk ; in fact, he 
found Lord Gardenstone s and his own the only hats 
in the kirk the men all wore then the flat Lowland 



SCOTTISH LIFE CHARACTER. 15 

bonnet. But how quickly times change ! My excel 
lent friend, Mr. Gibbon of Johnstone, Lord Garden- 
stone s own place, which is near Laurencekirk, tells 
me that at the present time one solitary Lowland 
bonnet lingers in the parish. 

Hats are said to have been first brought into 
Inverness by Duncan Forbes of Culloden, the Lord 
President, who died in 1747. Forbes is reported to 
have presented the provost and bailies with cocked 
hats, which they wore only on Sundays and council 
days. About 1760 a certain Deacon Young began 
daily to wear a hat, and the country people crowding 
round him, the Deacon used humorously to say, 
" What do you see about me, sirs ? am I not a mortal 
man like yourselves 1 The broad blue bonnets I 
speak of long continued to be worn in the Highland 
capital, and are still occasionally to be seen there, 
though generally superseded by the Glengarry bonnet 
and ordinary hat. It is a minor change, but a very 
decided one. 

The changes which have taken place, and which 
give rise to such " Reminiscences," are very numerous, 
and meet us at every turn in society. Take, for 
example, the case of our Highland chieftains. We 
may still retain the appellation, and talk of the chiefs 
of Clanranald, of Glengarry, etc. But how different 
is a chieftain of the present day, even from some of 
those of whom Sir Walter Scott wrote as existing so 
late as 1715 or 1745! Dr. Gregory (of immortal 
mixture memory) used to tell a story of an old High 
land chieftain, intended to show how such Celtic 
potentates were, even in his day, still inclined to hold 
themselves superior to all the usual considerations 
which affected ordinary mortals. The doctor, after 
due examination, had, in his usual decided and blunt 



16 REMINISCENCES OF 

manner, pronounced the liver of a Highlander to be 
at fault, and to be the cause of his ill-health. His patient, 
who could not but consider this as taking a great liberty 
with a Highland chieftain, roared out " And what 
the devil is it to you whether I have a liver or not ? " 
But there is the case of dignity in Lowland Lairds as 
well as clan-headship in Highland Chiefs. In proof 
of this, I need only point to a practice still lingering 
amongst us of calling landed proprietors, not as Mr. 
So-and-so, but by the names of their estates. I re 
collect, in my early days, a number of our proprietors 
were always so designated. Thus, it was not as Mr. 
Carnegie, Mr. Douglas, Mr. Irvine, etc., but as Craigo, 
Till wh illy, Drum, etc. 

An amusing application of such a territorial denomi 
native system to the locality of London was narrated 
to me by a friend who witnessed it. A Scottish 
gentleman, who had never been in the metropolis, 
arrived fresh from the Highlands, and met a small 
party at the house of a London friend. A person 
was present of most agreeable manners, who delighted 
the Scotsman exceedingly. He heard the company 
frequently referring to this gentleman s residence in 
Piccadilly, to his house in Piccadilly, and so on. 
When addressed by the gentleman, he commenced his 
reply, anxious to pay him all due respect " Indeed, 
Piccadilly," etc. He supposed Piccadilly must be his 
own territorial locality. Another instance of mistake, 
arising out of Scottish ignorance of London ways, was 
made by a North Briton on his first visit to the great 
city. He arrived at a hotel in Fleet Street, where 
many of the country coaches then put -up. On the 
following morning he supposed that such a crowd as 
he encountered could only proceed from some " occa 
sion," and must pass off in due time. Accordingly, a 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 17 

friend from Scotland found him standing in a door 
way, as if waiting for some one. His countryman 
asked him what made him stand there. To which 
he answered " Ou, I was just stan ing till the kirk 
had scaled." The ordinary appearance of his native 
borough made the crowd of Fleet Street suggest to 
him the idea of a church crowd passing out to their 
several homes, called in Scotland a " kirk scaling." 
A London street object called forth a similar simple 
remark from a Scotsman. He had come to London 
on his way to India, and for a few days had time to 
amuse himself by sight-seeing before his departure. 
He had been much struck with the appearance of the 
mounted sentinels at the Horse Guards, Whitehall, 
and bore them in remembrance during his Eastern 
sojourn. On his return, after a period of thirty 
years, on passing the Horse Guards, he looked up to 
one, and seeing him, as he thought, unchanged as to 
horse, position, and accoutrements, he exclaimed 
" Od, freend, ye hae had a lang spell on t sin I left/ 
supposing him to be the identical sentinel he had seen 
before he sailed. 

It is interesting to preserve national peculiarities 
which are thus passing away from us. One great 
pleasure I have had in their collection, and that is 
the numerous and sympathetic communications I have 
received from Scotsmen, I may literally say from 
Scotsmen in all quarters of the world; sometimes 
communicating very good examples of Scottish hu 
mour, and always expressing their great pleasure in 
reading, when in distant lands and foreign scenes, 
anecdotes which reminded them of Scotland, and of 
their ain days of " auld langsyne." 

There is no mistaking the national attachment so 
strong in the Scottish character. Men return aftyr 



13 REMINISCENCES OP 

long absence, in this respect, unchanged ; whilst ab 
sent, Scotsmen never forget their Scottish home. In 
all tnrieties of lands and climates their hearts ever 
turn towards the " land o cakes and brither Scots." 
Scottish festivals are kept with Scottish feeling on 
"Greenland s icy mountains or "India s coral 
strand." I received an amusing account of an ebul 
lition of this patriotic feeling from my late noble 
friend the Marquis of Lothian, who met with it when 
travelling in India. He happened to arrive at a sta 
tion upon the eve of St. Andrew s Day, and received 
an invitation to join a Scottish dinner party in com 
memoration of old Scotland. There was a great deal 
of Scottish enthusiasm. There were seven sheep- 
heads (singed) down the table ; and Lord Lothian 
told me that after dinner he sang with great applause 
" The Laird o Cockpen." 

Another anecdote arising out of Scotsmen meet 
ing in distant lands, is rather of a more serious 
character, and used to be told with exquisite humour 
by the late lamented Dr. Norman Macleod. A settler 
in Australia, who for a long time had heard nothing 
of his Scottish kith and kin, was delighted at the 
arrival of a countryman direct from his own part 
of the country. When he met with him, the fol 
lowing conversation took place between them : Q. 
" Ye ken my fouk, friend ; can ye tell me gin my 
faather s alive V 9 A. 11 Hout, na; he s deed." Q. 
" Deed ! What did he dee o ? was it fever V 9 A. 
" Na, it wasna fever." Q. " Was it cholera 1 " A. 

Na." The question being pressed, the stranger 
drily said, " Sheep," and then he accompanied the 
ominous word by delicately and significantly pointing 
to the jugular under his ear. The man had been 
hanged for sheep stealing ! 



SCOTTISH LIFE d CHARACTER. 19 

It must always be amusing for Scotsmen to meet 
in distant lands, and there to play off on each other 
the same dry, quaint humour which delighted them 
in their native land, and in their early days at home. 
An illustration of this remark has been communi 
cated by a kind correspondent at Glasgow. Mrs. 
Hume, a true Scot, sends me the following dialogue, 
accompanied by a very clever etching of the parties, 
from the Melbourne Punch, August 17, 1871, headed 
" Too Poor, Night of Waverley Concert. 11 

Southron. You here, Mac ! you ought to have been 
at the concert, you know. Aren t you one of the 
4 Scots wha hae ] 

Mac. Indeed no. I m ane o the Scots wha hae 
na, or I wadna be here the nicht. 

He would not have stayed at home if he had been one 
of the " Scots wha hae." 

I am assured that the genuineness of the following 
anecdote is unquestionable, as my informant received 
it from the person to whom it occurred. A popular 
Anglican Nonconformist minister was residing with 
a family in Glasgow while on a visit to that city, 
whither he had gone on a deputation from the Wes- 
leyan Missionary Society. After dinner, in reply to 
an invitation to partake of some fine fruit, he men 
tioned to the family a curious circumstance concerning 
himself viz. that he had never in his life tasted 
an apple, pear, grape, or indeed any kind of green 
fruit. This fact seemed to evoke considerable sur 
prise from the company, but a cautious Scotsman, 
of a practical, matter-of-fact turn of mind, who had 
listened with much unconcern, drily remarked, " It s 
a peety but ye had been in Paradise, and there micht 
ua hae been ony faa." I have spoken elsewhere of the 
cool matter-of-fact manner in which the awful ques- 



JO REMINISCENCES 0# 

tions connected with the funerals of friends are often 
approached by Scottish people, without the least in 
tention or purpose of being irreverent or unfeeling. 
By the kindness of Mr. Lyon, I am enabled to give 
an authentic anecdote of a curious character, illustra 
tive of this habit of mind, and I cannot do better 
than give it in his own words : " An old tenant of 
my late father, George Lyon of Wester Ogil, many 
years ago, when on his deathbed, and his end near at 
hand, his wife thus addressed him : Willie, Willie, 
as lang as ye can speak, tell us are ye for your burial- 
baps round or square 1 Willie having responded to 
this inquiry, was next asked if the murners were to 
have glooes (gloves) or mittens, the former being ar 
ticles with fingers, the latter having only a thumb- 
piece ; and Willie, having also answered this question, 
was allowed to depart in peace." 

There could not be a better example of this 
familiar handling, without meaning offence, than one 
which has just been sent to me by a kind corres 
pondent. I give her own words. " Happening to 
call on a poor neighbour, I asked after the children 
of a person who lived close by. She replied, " They re 
no hame yet ; gaed awa to the English kirk to get a 
clap o the held. It was the day of confirmation for 
St. Paul s. This definition of the * outward and 
visible sign would look rather odd in the catechism. 
But the poor woman said it from no disrespect \ it 
was merely her way of answering my question." But 
remarks on serious subjects often go to deeper views 
of religious matters than might be expected from the 
position of the parties and the terms made use of. 

Of the wise and shrewd judgment of the Scottish 
character, as bearing upon religious pretensions, 1 
have an apt example from my friend Dr. Norman 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 21 

Macleod. During one of the late revivals in Scot 
land, a small farmer went about preaching with much 
fluency and zeal the doctrine of a " full assurance 
of faith, and expressed his belief of it for himself in 
such extravagant terms as few men would venture 
upon who were humble and cautious against presump 
tion. The "preacher," being personally rather re 
markable as a man of greedy and selfish views in 
life, excited some suspicion in the breast of an old 
sagacious countryman, a neighbour of Dr. Macleod, 
who asked him what he thought of John as a preacher, 
and of his doctrine. Scratching his head, as if in 
some doubt, he replied, " I m no verra sure o Jock. I 
never ken t a man sae sure o Heaven, and sae sweert to 
be gaing tae t" He showed his sagacity, for John 
was soon after in prison for theft. 

Another story gives a good idea of the Scottish 
matter-of-fact view of things being brought to bear 
upon a religious question without meaning to be pro 
fane or irreverent. Dr. Macleod was on a Highland 
loch when a storm came on which threatened serious 
consequences. The doctor, a large powerful man, 
was accompanied by a clerical friend of diminutive 
size and small appearance, who began to speak 
seriously to the boatmen of their danger, and proposed 
that all present should join in prayer. " Na, na," said 
the chief boatman ; " let the little ane gang to pray, 
but first the big ane maun tak an oar." Illustrative 
of the same spirit was the reply of a Scotsman of 
the genuine old school, "Boatie" of Deeside, of 
whom I have more to say, to a relative of mine. He 
had been nearly lost in a squall, and saved after great 
exertion, and was told by my aunt that he should be 
grateful to providence for his safety. The man, not 

meaning to be at all ungrateful, but viewing his pre- 

i 



22 REMINISCENCES OF 

serration in the purely hard matter-of-fact light, 
quietly answered, " Weel, weel, Mrs. Eussell ; Pro 
vidence here or Providence there, an I hadna worked 
sair my sell I had been drouned." 

Old Mr. Downie, the parish minister of Banchory, 
was noted, in my earliest days, for his quiet pithy 
remarks on men and things, as they came before him. 
His reply to his son, of whose social position he had 
no very exalted opinion, was of this class. Young 
Downie had come to visit his father from the West 
Indies, and told him that on his return he was to be 
married to a lady whose high qualities and position 
he spoke of in extravagant terms. He assured his 
father that she was " quite young, was very rich, and 
very beautiful." " Aweel, Jemmy," said the old man, 
very quietly and very slily, " I m thinking there maun 
be some faut" Of the dry sarcasm we have a good 
example in the quiet utterance of a good Scottish 
phrase by an elder of a Free Kirk lately formed. The 
minister was an eloquent man, and had attracted one 
of the town-council, who, it was known, hardly ever 
entered the door of a church, and now came on 
motives of curiosity. He was talking very grand to 
some of the congregation : " Upon my word, your 
minister is a very eloquent man. Indeed, he wil?. 
quite convert me." One of the elders, taking the word 
in a higher sense than the speaker intended, quietly 
replied, " Indeed, Bailie, there s muckle med" 

A kind correspondent sends me an illustration of 
this quaint matter-of-fact view of a question as affect 
ing the sentiments or the feelings. He tells me he 
knew an old lady who was a stout large woman, and 
who with this state of body had many ailments, 
which she bore cheerfully and patiently. When asked 
one day by a friend, " How she was keeping," she re- 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fe CHAR ACT EM. 23 



plied, " Ou, just middling ; there s ower muckle o 1 
to be a weel at ae time." No Englishwoman would 
have given such an answer. The same class of cha 
racter is very strongly marked in a story which was 
told by Mr. Thomas Constable, who has a keen 
appreciation of a good Scottish story, and tells it 
inimitably. He used to visit an old lady who was 
much attenuated by long illness, and on going up 
stairs one tremendously hot afternoon, the daughter 
was driving away the flies, which were very trouble 
some, and was saying, " Thae flies will eat up a that 
remains o my puir mither." The old lady opened 
her eyes, and the last words she spoke were, " What s 
left o me s guid eneuch for them." 

The spirit of caution and wariness by which the 
Scottish character is supposed to be distinguished has 
given rise to many of these national anecdotes. 

Certainly this cautious spirit thus pervaded the 
opinions of the Scottish architect who was called 
upon to erect a building in England upon the long- 
lease system, so common with Anglican proprietors, 
but quite new to our Scottish friend. When he 
found the proposal was to build upon the tenure 
of 999 years, he quietly suggested, " Culd ye no mak 
it a thousand ? 999 years 11 be slippin awa ." 

But of all the cautious and careful answers we ever 
heard of was one given by a carpenter to an old lady 
in Glasgow, for whom he was working, and the anec 
dote is well authenticated. She had offered him a 
dram, and asked him whether he would have it then 
or wait till his work was done " Indeed, mem," he 
said, " there s been sic a power o sudden deaths 
lately that I ll just tak it now." He would guard 
against contingency and secure his dram. 

The following is a good specimen of the same 



24 REMINISCENCES OF 

humour: A minister had been preaching against 
covetousness and the love of money, and had 
frequently repeated how " love of money was the root 
of all evil." Two old bodies walking home from 
church one said, " An wasna the minister strang 
upo the money?" " Nae doubt," said the other, rather 
hesitatingly ; and added, " ay, but it s grand to hae 
the wee bit siller in your haund when ye gang an 
errand." 

I have still another specimen of this national, cool, 
and deliberative view of a question, which seems cha 
racteristic of the temperament of our good countrymen. 
Some time back, when it was not uncommon for 
challenges to be given and accepted for insults, or 
supposed insults, an English gentleman was entertain 
ing a party at Inverness with an account of the 
wonders he had seen and the deeds he had performed 
in India, from whence he had lately arrived. He 
enlarged particularly upon the size of the tigers he 
had met with at different times in his travels, and by 
way of corroborating his statements, assured the com 
pany that he had shot one himself considerably above 
forty feet long. A Scottish gentleman present, who 
thought that these narratives rather exceeded a 
traveller s allowed privileges, coolly said that no doubt 
those were very remarkable tigers ; but that he could 
assure the gentleman there were in that northern 
part of the country some wonderful animals, and, as 
an example, he cited the existence of a skate-fish 
captured off Thurso, which exceeded half-an-acre in 
extent. The Englishman saw this was intended as a 
sarcasm against his own story, so he left the room in 
indignation, and sent his friend, according to the old 
plan, to demand satisfaction or an apology from the 
gentleman, who had, he thought, insulted him. The 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 25 

narrator of the skate story coolly replied, " Weel, sir, 
gin yer freend will tak a few feet aff the length o his 
tiger, we ll see what can be dune about the breadth o 
the skate." He was too cautious to commit himself 
to a rash or decided course of conduct. When the 
tiger was shortened, he would take into consideration 
a reduction of superficial area in his skate. 

A kind correspondent has sent me about as good a 
specimen of dry Scottish quiet humour as I know. 
A certain Aberdeenshire laird, who kept a very good 
poultry-yard, could not command a fresh egg for his 
breakfast, and felt much aggrieved by the want. One 
day, however, he met his grieve s wife with a nice 
basket, and very suspiciously going towards the mar 
ket ; on passing and speaking a word, he was enabled 
to discover that her basket was full of beautiful white 
eggs. Next time he talked with his grieve, he said 
to him, "James, I like you very well, and I think 
you serve me faithfully, but I cannot say I admire 
your wife." To which the cool reply was, " Oh, 
deed, sir, I m no surprised at that, for I dinna 
muckle admire her mysel ." 

An answer very much resembling this, and as much 
to the point, was that of a gudewife on Deeside, 
whose daughter had just been married and had left 
her for her new home. A lady asked the mother very 
kindly about her daughter, and said she hoped she 
liked her new home and new relations. " Ou, my lady, 
she likes the parish weel eneuch, but she doesna think 
muckle o her man ! 

The natives of Aberdeenshire are distinguished for 
the two qualities of being very acute in their remarks 
and very peculiar in their language. Any one may 
still gain a thorough knowledge of Aberdeen dialect 
and see capital examples of Aberdeen humour. I 



26 REMINISCENCES OF 

have been supplied with a remarkable example of this 
combination of Aberdeen shrewdness with Aberdeen 
dialect. In the course of the week after the Sunday 
on which several elders of an Aberdeen parish had 
been set apart for parochial offices, a knot of the par 
ishioners had assembled at what was in all parishes a 
great place of resort for idle gossiping the siniddy 
or blacksmith s workshop. The qualifications of the 
new elders were severely criticised. One of the speak 
ers emphatically laid down that the minister should 
not have been satisfied, and had in fact made a most 
unfortunate choice. He was thus answered by an 
other parish oracle perhaps the schoolmaster, perhaps 
a weaver: "Fat better culd the man dee nir he s 
dune? he bud tae big s dyke wi the feal at fit o t." 
He meant there was no choice of material he could 
only take what offered. 

By the kindness of Dr. Begg, I have a most 
amusing anecdote to illustrate how deeply long-tried 
associations were mixed up with the habits of life in 
the older generation. A junior minister having to 
assist at a church in a remote part of Aberdeenshire, 
the parochial minister (one of the old school) promised 
his young friend a good glass of whisky-toddy after 
all was over, adding slily and very significantly, 
" and gude smuggled whusky." His Southron guest 
thought it incumbent to say, " Ah, minister, that s 
wrong, is it not ? you know it is contrary to Act of 
Parliament." The old Aberdonian could not so easily 
give up his fine whisky to what he considered an 
unjust interference ; so he quietly said, " Oh, Acts 
o Parliament lose their breath before they get to 
Aberdeenshire." 

There is something very amusing in the idea of 
\yhat may be called the " fitness of things," in regard 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 27 

to snuff-taking, which occurred to an honest Highlander, 
a genuine lover of sneeshin. At the door of the Blair- 
Athole Hotel he observed standing a magnificent 
man in full tartans, and noticed with much admiration 
the wide dimensions of his nostrils in a fine upturned 
nose. He accosted him, and, as his most compliment 
ary act, offered him his mull for a pinch. The 
stranger drew up, and rather haughtily said : " I 
never take snuff." " Oh," said the other, " that s a 
peety, for there s grand accommodation ! 

I don t know a better example of the sly sarcasm 
than the following answer of a Scottish servant to the 
violent command of his enraged master. A well- 
known coarse and abusive Scottish law functionary, 
when driving out of his grounds, was shaken by his 
carriage coming in contact with a large stone at the 
gate. He was very angry, and ordered the gatekeeper 
to have it removed before his return. On driving 
home, however, he encountered another severe shock 
by the wheels coming in contact with the very same 
stone, which remained in the very same place. Still 
more irritated than before, in his usual coarse language 
he called the gatekeeper, and roared out : " You 
rascal, if you don t send that beastly stone to h , 
I ll break your head." " Well," said the man quietly, 
and as if he had received an order which he had to 
execute, and without meaning anything irreverent, 
" aiblins gin it were sent to heevan it wad be mair 
out o your Lordship* s way" 

I think about as cool a Scottish " aside" as I know, 
was that of the old dealer who, when exhorting his 

* This anecdote has been illustrated, as taken from these pages, 
by a very clever sketch of the Highlander and his admirer, in a 
curious publication at Liverpool called TJie Tobacco Plant, and 
devoted to the interests of smoking and snuffing. 



28 ZEMINISCENCSS OF 

son to practise honesty in his dealings, on the ground 
of its being the " best policy," quietly added, " / hae 
tried baith" 

In this work frequent mention is made of a class 
of old ladies, generally residing in small towns, who 
retained till within the memory of many now living 
the special characteristics I have referred to. Owing 
to local connection, I have brought forward those 
chiefly who lived in Montrose and the neighbour 
hood. But the race is extinct ; you might as well 
look for hoops and farthingales in society as for 
such characters now. You can scarcely imagine an 
old lady, however quaint, now making use of some 
of the expressions recorded in the text, or saying, 
for the purpose of breaking up a party of which 
she was tired, from holding bad cards, " We ll stop 
now, bairns ; I m no enterteened ; " or urging 
more haste in going to church on the plea, " Come 
awa, or I ll be ower late for the 4 wicked man* 
her mode of expressing the commencement of 
the service. 

Nothing could better illustrate the quiet pawky 
style for which our countrymen have been distin 
guished, than the old story of the piper and the 
wolves. A Scottish piper was passing through a 
deep forest. In the evening he sat down to take his 
supper. He had hardly begun, when a number of 
hungry wolves, prowling about for food, collected 
round him. In self-defence, the poor man began to 
throw pieces of his victuals to them, which they greedily 
devoured. When he had disposed of all, in a fit of 
despair he took his pipes and began to play. The 
unusual sound terrified the wolves, which, one and all, 
took to their heels and scampered off in every direction : 
on observing which, Sandy quietly remarked, " Od, ao 



A SCOTTISH BAPTISM 

Front a water-colour drawing by 

HEXRV IV. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., R.S.U . 







I 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 29 

I d kenned ye liket the pipes sae weel, I d a gien ye 
a spring afore supper." 

This imperturbable mode of looking at the events 
of life is illustrated by perhaps the most cautious 
answer on record, of the Scotsman who, being asked 
if he could play the fiddle, warily answered, "He 
couldna say, for he had never tried." But take othei 
cases. For example : One tremendously hot day, 
during the old stage-coach system, I was going down 
to Portobello, when the coachman drew up to take in 
a gentleman who had hailed him on the road. He 
was evidently an Englishman a fat man, and in a 
perfect state of " thaw and dissolution " from the heat 
and dust. He wiped himself, and exclaimed, as a 
remark addressed to the company generally, " D d 
hot it is." No one said anything for a time, till a 
man in the corner slily remarked, " I dinna doubt, sir, 
but it may." The cautiousness against committing 
himself unreservedly to any proposition, however 
plausible, was quite delicious. 

A more determined objection to giving a categorical 
answer occurred, as I have been assured, in regard to 
a more profound question. A party travelling on a 
railway got into deep discussion on theological ques 
tions. Like Milton s spirits in Pandemonium, they 
had 

" Reason d high 

Of providence, fore -knowledge, will, and fate 
Fix d fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute ; 
And found no end, in wand ring mazes lost." 

A plain Scotsman present seemed much interested 
in these matters, and having expressed himself as not 
satisfied with the explanations which had been elicited 
in the course of discussion on a particular point 



80 REMINISCENCES 0? 

regarding predestination, one of the party said to him 
that he had observed a minister, whom they all knew, 
in the adjoining compartment, and that when the 
train stopped at the next station a few minutes, he 
could go and ask his opinion. The good man accord 
ingly availed himself of the opportunity to get hold 
of the minister, and lay their difficulty before him. 
He returned in time to resume his own place, and 
when they had started again, the gentleman who had 
advised him, finding him not much disposed to volun 
tary communication, asked if he had seen the minister. 
" ay," he said, " he had seen him." "And did you 
propose the question to him ? "0 ay." " And 
what did he say 1 " Oh, he just said he didna ken ; 
and what was mair he didna care ! 

I have received the four following admirable anec 
dotes, illustrative of dry Scottish pawky humour, from 
an esteemed minister of the Scottish Church, the Eev. 
W. Mearns of Kinneff. I now record them nearly in 
the same words as his own kind communication. The 
anecdotes are as follow : An aged minister of the 
old school, Mr. Patrick Stewart, one Sunday took to 
the pulpit a sermon without observing that the first 
leaf or two were so worn and eaten away that he 
couldn t decipher or announce the text. He was not 
a man, however, to be embarrassed or taken aback by 
a matter of this sort, but at once intimated the state 
of matters to the congregation, "My brethren, I 
canna tell ye the text, for the mice hae eaten it ; but 
we ll just begin whaur the mice left aff, and when I 
come to it I ll let you ken." 

In the year 1843, shortly after the Disruption, a 
parish minister had left the manse and removed to 
about a mile s distance. His pony got loose one day, 
and galloped down the road in the direction of the 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER 81 

old glebe. The minister s man in charge ran after 
the pony in a great fuss, and when passing a large 
farm-steading on the way, cried out to the farmer, 
who was sauntering about, but did not know what 
had taken place " Oh, sir, did ye see the minister s 
shault?" " No, no," was the answer, "but what s 
happened 1" u Ou, sir, fat do ye think ] the minister s 
shault s got lowse frae his tether, an* I rn frichtened 
he s ta en the road doun to the auld glebe." " Weel- 
a-wicht ! " was the shrewd clever rejoinder of the 
farmer, who was a keen supporter of the old parish 
church, " I wad na wonder at that. An I se warrant, 
gin the minister was gettin loivse frae his tether, he 
wad jist tak the same road." 

An old clerical friend upon Speyside, a confirmed 
bachelor, on going up to the pulpit one Sunday to 
preach, found, after giving out the psalm, that he 
had forgotten his sermon. I do not know what his 
objections were to his leaving the pulpit, and going 
to the manse for his sermon, but he preferred sending 
his old confidential housekeeper for it. He accord 
ingly stood up in the pulpit, stopped the singing 
which had commenced, and thus accosted his faithful 
domestic : " Annie ; I say, Annie, we ve committed a 
mistak the day. Ye maun jist gang your waa s hame, 
and ye ll get my sermon oot o my breek-pouch, an 
we ll sing to the praise o the Lord till ye come back 
again." Annie, of course, at once executed her im 
portant mission, and brought the sermon out of " the 
breek-pouch," and the service, so far as we heard, 
was completed without further interruption. 

My dear friend, the late Kev. Dr. John Hunter, told 
me an anecdote very characteristic of the unimaginative 
matter-of-fact Scottish view of matters. One of the 
ministers of Edinburgh, a man of dry humour, had a 



ESMINISCENCES OF 

daughter who had for some time passed the period of 
youth and of beauty. She had become an Episco 
palian, an event which the Doctor accepted with much 
good-nature, and he was asking her one day if she 
did not intend to be confirmed. " Well," she said, 
"I don t know. I understand Mr. Craig always 
kisses the candidates whom he prepares, and I could 
not stand that." " Indeed, Jeanie," said the Doctor 
slily, " gin Edward Craig were to gie ye a kiss, I dinna 
think ye would be muckle the waur." 

Many anecdotes characteristic of the Scottish 
peasant often turn upon words and ideas connected 
with Holy Scripture. This is not to be considered as 
in any sense profane or irreverent ; but it arises from 
the Bible being to the peasantry of an older genera 
tion their library their only book. We have con 
stant indications of this almost exclusive familiarity 
with Scripture ideas. At the late ceremonial in the 
north, when the Archbishop of Canterbury laid the 
foundation of a Bishop s Church at Inverness, a number 
of persons, amid the general interest and kindly feeling 
displayed by the inhabitants, were viewing the pro 
cession from a hill as it passed along. When the 
clergy, to the number of sixty, came on, an old 
woman, who was watching the whole scene with 
some jealousy, exclaimed, at sight of the surplices, 
" There they go, the whited sepulchres ! " I received 
another anecdote illustrative of the same remark from 
an esteemed minister of the Free Church : I mean of 
the hold which Scripture expressions have upon the 
minds of our Scottish peasantry. One of his flock was 
a sick nervous woman, who hardly ever left the 
house. But one fine afternoon, when she was left 
alone, she fancied she would like to get a little air in 
the field adjoining the house. Accordingly she put 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 33 

on a bonnet and wrapped herself in a huge red shawl. 
Creeping along the dyke-side, some cattle were 
attracted towards her, and first one and then another 
gathered round, and she took shelter in the ditch till 
she was relieved by some one coming up to her 
rescue. She afterwards described her feelings to her 
minister in strong language, adding, "And eh, sir! 
when I lay by the dyke, and the beasts round a* 
glowerin at me, I thocht what Dauvid maun hae felt 
when he said Many bulls have compassed me ; 
strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 

With the plainness and pungency of the old-fashion 
ed Scottish language there was sometimes a coarseness 
of expression, which, although commonly repeated in 
the Scottish drawing-room of last century, could 
not now be tolerated. An example of a very plain 
and downright address of a laird has been recorded 
in the annals of "Forfarshire Lairdship." He had 
married one of the Misses Guthrie, who had a strong 
feeling towards the Presbyterian faith in which she 
had been brought up, although her husband was 
one of the zealous old school of Episcopalians. The 
young wife had invited her old friend, the parish 
minister, to tea, and had given him a splendid "four 
howrs." Ere the table was cleared the laird came in 
unexpectedly, and thus expressed his indignation, not 
very delicately, at what he considered an unwarrant 
able exercise of hospitality at his cost : " Helen 
Guthrie, ye ll no think to save yer ain saul at the ex 
pense of my meal-girnel ! " 

The answer of an old woman under examination 
by the minister to the question from the Shorter 
Catechism "What are the decrees of God?" could 
not have been surpassed by the General Assembly of 
the Kirk, or even the Synod of Dort " Indeed, sir, 



84 REMINISCENCES OF 

He kens that best Himsell." We have an answer 
analogous to that, though not so pungent, in a cate 
chumen of the late Dr. Johnston of Leith. She 
answered his own question, patting him on the 
shoulder " Deed, just tell it yersell, bonny doctor 
(lie was a very handsome man) ; naebody can tell it 
better." 

To pass from the answers of " persons come to 
years of discretion " I have elsewhere given ex 
amples of peculiar traits of character set forth in the 
answers of mere children, and no doubt a most 
amusing collection might be made of very juvenile 
" Scottish Reminiscences." One of these is now a 
very old story, and has long been current amongst 
us : A little boy who attended a day-school in the 
neighbourhood, when he came home in the evening 
was always asked how he stood in his own class. The 
invariable answer made was, " I m second dux," which 
means in Scottish academical language second from 
the top of the class. As his habits of application at 
home did not quite bear out the claim to so dis 
tinguished a position at school, one of the family 
ventured to ask what was the number in the class to 
which he was attached. After some hesitation he 
was obliged to admit : " Ou, there s jist me and anitlier 
lass." It was a very practical answer of the little girl, 
when asked the meaning of " darkness/ as it occurred 
in Scripture reading " Ou, just steek your een." 
On the question, What was the "pestilence that 
walketh in darkness " ? being put to a class, a little 
boy answered, after consideration "Ou, it s just 
hugs" I did not anticipate when in a former edition 
I introduced this answer, which I received from my 
nephew Sir Alexander Eamsay, that it would call 
forth a comment so interesting as one which I have 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 35 

received from Dr. Barber of Ul version. He sends 
me an extract from Matthew s Translation of the Bible, 
which he received from Rev. L. R Ayre, who pos 
sesses a copy of date 1553, from which it appears that 
Psalm xci. 5 was thus translated by Matthew, who 
adopted his translation from Coverdale and Tyndale: 
" So that thou shalt not need to be afrayed for any 
bugge by nyght, nor for the arrow that flyeth by 
day."* Dr. Barber ingeniously remarks "Is it 
possible the little boy s mother had one of these old 
Bibles, or is it merely a coincidence 1 

The innocent and unsophisticated answers of chil 
dren on serious subjects are often very amusing. 
Many examples are recorded, and one I have received 
seems much to the point, and derives a good 
deal of its point from the Scottish turn of the expres 
sions. An elder of the kirk having found a little boy 
and his sister playing marbles on Sunday, put his 
reproof in this form, not a judicious one for a child : 
" Boy, do ye know where children go to who play 
marbles on Sabbath-day 7" " Ay," said the boy, " they 
gang doun to the field by the water below the brig." 
"No," roared out the elder, "they go to hell, and are 
burned." The little fellow, really shocked, called to 
his sister, " Come awa , Jeanie, here s a man swearing 
awfully." 

A Scotch story like that of the little boy, of which 
the humour consisted in the dry application of the 
terms in a sense different from what was intended by 
the speaker, was sent to me, but has got spoilt by pass 
ing through the press. It must be Scotch, or at least, is 
composed of Scottish materials the Shorter Catechism 

* The truth is, in old English usage " bug" signifies a spectre 
or anything that is frightful. Thus in Henry VI., 3d Part, act 
v. sc. ii. " For Warwick was a bug that feared us all." 



REMINISCENCES OF 

and the bagpipes. A piper was plying his trade in 
the streets, and a strict elder of the kirk, desirous to 
remind him that it was a somewhat idle and profit 
less occupation, went up to him and proposed solemnly 
the first question of the Shorter Catechism, " What is 
the chief end of man ? The good piper, thinking 
only of his own business, and supposing that the ques 
tion had reference to some pipe melody, innocently 
answered, " Na, I dinna ken the tune, but if ye ll 
whistle it I ll try and play it for ye." 

I have said before, and I would repeat the remark 
again and again, that the object of this work is not 
to string together mere funny stories, or to collect 
amusing anecdotes. We have seen such collections, 
in which many of the anecdotes are mere Joe Millers 
translated into Scotch. The purport of these pages 
has been throughout to illustrate Scottish life and 
character, by bringing forward those modes and forms 
of expression by which alone our national peculiarities 
can be familiarly illustrated and explained. Besides 
Scottish replies and expressions which are most cha 
racteristic and in fact unique for dry humour, for 
quaint and exquisite wit I have often referred to a 
consideration of dialect and proverbs. There can be 
no doubt there is a force and beauty in our Scottish 
phraseology, as well as a quaint humour, considered 
merely as phraseology, peculiar to itself. I have 
spoken of the phrase " Auld langsyne," and of other 
words, which may be compared in their Anglican and 
Scottish form. Take the familiar term common to 
many singing-birds. The English word linnet does 
not, to my mind, convey so much of simple beauty 
and of pastoral ideas as belong to our Scottish word 

LINTIE. 

I recollect hearing the Eev. Dr. Norman Macleod 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 37 

give a most interesting account of his visit to Canada. 
In the course of his eloquent narrative he mentioned 
a conversation he had with a Scottish emigrant, who 
in general terms spoke favourably and gratefully of 
his position in his adopted country. But he could 
not help making this exception when he thought of 
the " banks and braes o bonny Doon" " But oh, 
sir," he said, " there are nae Unties i the wuds." 
How touching the words in his own dialect ! The 
North American woods, although full of birds of beauti 
ful plumage, it is well known have no singing-birds. 

A worthy Scottish Episcopal minister one day met 
a townsman, a breeder and dealer in singing-birds. 
The man told him he had just had a child born in his 
family, and asked him if he would baptize it. He 
thought the minister could not resist the offer of a 
bird. " Eh, Maister Shaw," he said, " if ye ll jist do 
it, I hae a fine lintie the noo, and if ye ll do it, 
I ll gie ye the lintie." He quite thought that this 
would settle the matter ! 

By these remarks I mean to express the feeling 
that the word lintie conveys to my mind more of 
tenderness and endearment towards the little songster 
than linnet. And this leads me to a remark (which I 
do not remember to have met with) that Scottish 
dialects are peculiarly rich in such terms of endear 
ment, more so than the pure Anglican. Without at 
all pretending to exhaust the subject, I may cite the 
following as examples of the class of terms I speak of. 
Take the names for parents "Daddie" and "Minnie ;" 
names for children, " My wee bit lady" or " laddie," 
" My wee bit lamb ;" of a general nature, " My ain 
kind dearie." " Dawtie," especially used to young 
people, described by Jamieson a darling or favourite, 
one who is dawted i.e. fondled or caressed. My 

K 



38 REMINISCENCES OF 

"joe" expresses affection with familiarity, evidently 
derived from joy, an easy transition as " My joe, 
Janet ;" " John Anderson, my joe, John." Of this 
character is Burns s address to a wife, " My winsome " 
-i.e. charming, engaging " wee thing ;" also to a 
wife, " My winsome marrow " the latter word sig 
nifying a dear companion, one of a pair closely allied 
to each other ; also the address of Rob the Eanter to 
Maggie Lander, " My bonnie bird." Now, we would 
remark, upon this abundant nomenclature of kindly 
expressions in the Scottish dialect, that it assumes an 
interesting position as taken in connection with the 
Scottish Life and Character, and as a set-oft against a 
frequent short and grumpy manner. It indicates how 
often there must be a current of tenderness and affec 
tion in the Scottish heart, which is so frequently re 
presented to be, like its climate, " stern and wild." 
There could not be such terms were the feelings they 
express unknown. I believe it often happens that in 
the Scottish character there is a vein of deep and 
kindly feeling lying hid under a short, and hard and 
somewhat stern manner. Hence has arisen the Scot 
tish saying which is applicable to such cases " His 
girn s waur than his bite :" his disposition is of a softer 
nature than his words and manner would often lead 
you to suppose. 

There are two admirable articles in Blackwood s 
Magazine, in the numbers for November and December 
1870, upon this subject. The writer abundantly vin 
dicates the point and humour of the Scottish tongue. 
Who can resist, for example, the epithet applied by 
Meg Merrilies to an unsuccessful probationer for ad 
mission to the ministry : " a sticket stibbler " ? Take 
the sufficiency of Holy Scripture as a pledge for any 
one s salvation : " There s eneuch between the brods 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 39 

o 1 the Testament to save the biggest sinner i the 
warld." I heard an old Scottish Episcopalian thus 
pithily describe the hasty and irreverent manner of a 
young Englishman : " He ribbled aff the prayers 
like a man at the heid o a regiment." A large family 
of young children has been termed " a great sma j 
family." It was a delicious dry rejoinder to the ques 
tion " Are you Mr. So-and-so ? " It s a that s o 
me (i.e. to be had for him.) I have heard an old 
Scottish gentleman direct his servant to mend the 
fire by saying, " I think, Dauvid, we wadna be the 
\vaur o some coals." 

There is a pure Scottish term, which I have always 
thought more expressive than any English word of 
ideas connected with manners in society I mean the 
word to blether, or blethering, or blethers. Jamieson 
defines it to " talk nonsense." But it expresses far 
more it expresses powerfully, to Scottish people, 
a person at once shallow, chattering, conceited, tire 
some, voluble. 

There is a delicious servantgirlism, often expressed 
in an answer given at the door to an inquirer : "Is 
your master at home, or mistress V as the case may be. 
The problem is to save the direct falsehood, and yet 
evade the visit ; so the answer is " Ay, he or she is 
at hame; but he s no in." 

The transition from Scottish expressions to Scottish 
Poetry is easy and natural. In fact, the most inter 
esting feature now belonging to Scottish life and 
social habits is, to a certain extent, becoming with 
many a matter of reminiscence of Poetry in the Scottish 
dialect, as being the most permanent and the most 
familiar feature of Scottish characteristics. It is be 
coming a matter of history, in so far as we find that 
it has for some time ceased to be cultivated with much 



40 REMINISCENCES OF 

ardour, or to attract much popularity. In fact, since 
the time of Burns, it has been losing its hold on the 
public mind. It is a remarkable fact that neither 
Scott nor Wilson, both admirers of Burns, both copious 
writers of poetry themselves, both also so distinguished 
as writers of Scottish prose, should have written any 
poetry strictly in the form of pure Scottish dialect. 
"Jock o Hazeldean" I hardly admit to be an exception. 
It is not Scottish. If, indeed, Sir Walter wrote the 
scrap of the beautiful ballad in the " Antiquary " 

" Now hand your tongue, baith wife and carle, 

And listen, great and sma , 
And I will sing of Glenallan s Earl, 
That fought at the red Harlaw " 

one cannot but regret that he had not written more 
of the same. Campbell, a poet and a Scotsman, 
has not attempted it. In short, we do not find poetry 
in the Scottish dialect at all kept up in Scotland. 
It is every year becoming more a matter of research 
and reminiscence. Nothing new is added to the old 
stock, and indeed it is surprising to see the ignorance 
and want of interest displayed by many young persons 
in this department of literature. How few read the 
works of Allan Ramsay, once so popular, and still so 
full of pastoral imagery ! There are occasionally new 
editions of the Gentle Shepherd, but I suspect for a 
limited class of readers. I am assured the boys of the 
High School, Academy, etc., do not care even for 
Burns. As poetry in the Scottish dialect is thus 
slipping away from the public Scottish mind, I thought 
it very suitable to a work of this character to supply 
a list of modern Scottish dialect writers. This I am 
able to provide by the kindness of our distinguished 
antiquary, Mr. David Laing the fulness and correct- 



SCOTTISH LIFE 6 CHARACTER. 41 

ness of whose acquirements are only equalled by his 
readiness and courtesy in communicating his informa 
tion to others : 

SCOTTISH POETS OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

ALLAN KAMSAY. B. 1686. D. 1757. His Gentle 
Shepherd, completed in 1725, and his Collected 
Poems in 1721-1728. 

It cannot be said there was any want of successors, 
however obscure, following in the same track. Those 
chiefly deserving of notice were 

ALEXANDER Ross of Lochlee. B. 1700. D. 1783. 

The Fortunate Shepherdess. 

ROBERT FERGUSSON. B. 1750. D. 1774. Leith 
Races, Caller Oysters, etc. 

REV. JOHN SKINNER. B. 1721. D. 1807. Tulloch- 
gorum. 

ROBERT BURNS. B. 1759. D. 1796. 

ALEXANDER, FOURTH DUKE OF GORDON. B. 1743- 
D. 1827. Cauld Kail in Aberdeen. 

ALEXANDER WILSON of Paisley, who latterly distin 
guished himself as an American ornithologist. B. 
1766. D. 1813. Watty and Meg. 

HECTOR MACNEILL. B. 1746. D. 1818. Will and 
Jean. 

ROBERT TANNAHILL. B. 1774. D. 1810. Songs. 
JAMES HOGG. B. 1772. D. 1835. 
ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. B. 1784. D. 1842. 

To this list we must add the names of Lady Nairn e 
and Lady Anne Lindsay. To the former we are 
indebted for The Land o the Leal," The Laird o 
Cockpen," and "The Auld Hoose;" to the latter for 



42 REMINISCENCES OF 

" Auld Robin Gray :" and our wonder is, how those 
who could write so charmingly should have written so 
little. 

I have no intention of discussing the general ques 
tion of Scottish poetry of defending or eulogising, 
or of apologising for anything belonging to it. There 
are songs in broad Scottish dialect of which the 
beauty and the power will never be lost. Words of 
Burns, Allan Ramsay, and Lady Nairne, must ever 
speak to hearts that are true to nature. I am de 
sirous of bringing before my readers at this time the 
name of a Scottish poet, which, though in Mr. Laing s 
list, I fear is become rather a reminiscence. It is 
fifty years since his poetical pieces were published in 
a collected form. I am desirous of giving a special 
notice of a true-hearted Scotsman, and a genuine 
Scottish poet, under both characters. I look with a 
tender regard to the memory of the Eev. JOHN 
SKINNER of Langside. He has written little in 
quantity, but it is all charming. He was a good 
Christian minister. He was a man of learning a 
man of liberal and generous feeling. In addition to 
all this, he has upon me the claim of having been a 
Scottish Episcopalian divine, and I am always re 
joiced to see among learned men of our church sym 
pathies with liberalism, besides what is patristic 
and theological. John Skinner s name and family are 
much mixed up with our church. f Tullochgorum was 
father of Primus John Skinner, and grandfather of 
Primus W. Skinner and of the Rev. John Skinner of 
Forfar. The youngest brother of Tullochgorum was 
James Skinner, W.S., who died at ninety-one, and 
was grandfather of W. Skinner, W.S., Edinburgh. 
The Rev. J. Skinner was born in Birse, a wild part 
of Aberdeenshire, 1721. His father was parochial 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 43 

schoolmaster at Gight for nearly fifty years. He 
worked hard under the care of his father, who was a 
good Latin scholar. He gained a bursary at Aberdeen, 
where he studied. When he left college he became 
schoolmaster at Monymusk, where he wrote some 
pieces that attracted attention, and Sir Archibald 
Grant took him into the house, and allowed him the 
full use of a very fine library. He made good use of 
this opportunity, and indeed became a fair scholar 
and theologian. Skinner had been brought up a 
Presbyterian, but at Monymusk found reasons for 
changing his views. In June 1740 he became tutor 
to the only son of Mrs. Sinclair in Shetland. Re 
turning to Aberdeenshire in 1741, he completed his 
studies for the ministry, was ordained by Bishop 
Dunbar, and in 1742 became pastor of Langside. 
He worked for this little congregation for nearly 
sixty-five years, and they were happy and united 
under his pastoral charge. One very interesting in 
cident took place during his ministry, which bears 
upon our general question of reminiscences and 
changes. John Skinner was in his own person an 
example of that persecution for political opinion re 
ferred to in Professor Macgregor s account of the large 
prayer-book in the library at Panmure. After the 45, 
Episcopalians were treated with suspicion and seve 
rity. The severe laws passed against Jacobites were 
put in force, and poor Skinner fined. 

However, better and more peaceful times came 
round, and all that John Skinner had undergone did 
not sour his temper or make him severe or misan 
thropical. As a pastor he seems to have had tact, as 
well as good temper, in the management of his flock, 
if we may judge from the following anecdote : 
Talking with an obstinate self-confident farmer, when 



REMINISCENCES OF 

the conversation happened to turn on the subject of 
the motion of the earth, the farmer would not be con 
vinced that the earth moved at all. " Hoot, minister," 
the man roared out ; " d ye see the earth never gaes 
oot o the pairt, and it maun be that the sun gaes 
round : we a ken he rises i the east and sets i the 
west." Then, as if to silence all argument, he added 
triumphantly, "As if the sun didna gae round the 
earth, when it is said in Scripture that the Lord com 
manded the sun to stand still ! Mr. Skinner, 
finding it was no use to argue further, quietly an 
swered, " Ay, it s vera true ; the sun was commanded 
to stand still, and there he stands still, for Joshua 
never tauld him to tak the road again." I have 
said John Skinner wrote little Scottish poetry, but 
what he wrote was rarely good. His prose works 
extended over three volumes when they were col 
lected by his son, the Bishop of Aberdeen, but we have 
no concern with them. His poetical pieces, by which 
his name will never die in Scotland, are the " Reel 
of Tullochgorum " and the "Ewie with the Crooked 
Horn," charming Scottish songs, one the perfection 
of the lively, the other of the pathetic. It is quite 
enough to say of " Tullochgorum r (by which the 
old man is now always designated), what was said of 
it by Robert Burns, as " the first of songs," and as 
the best Scotch song Scotland ever saw. 

I have brought in the following anecdote, exactly 
as it appeared in the Scotsman of October 4, 1859, 
because it introduces his name. 

" The late Eev. John Skinner, author of Annals of 
Scottish Episcopacy, was his grandson. He was first 
appointed to a charge in Montrose, from whence he 
was removed to Banff, and ultimately to Forfar. After 
he had left Montrose, it reached his ears that an ill- 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 48 

natured insinuation was circulating there that he 
had been induced to leave this town by the temp 
tation of a better income and of fat pork, which, it 
would appear, was plentiful in the locality of his new 
incumbency. Indignant at such an aspersion, he 
wrote a letter, directed to his maligners / vindicating 
himself sharply from it, which he showed to his grand 
father, John Skinner of Langside, for his approval. 
The old gentleman objected to it as too lengthy, and 
proposed the following pithy substitute : 

" Had Skinner been of carnal mind, 

As strangely ye suppose, 
Or had he even been fond of swine, 
He d ne er have left Montrose. 

But there is an anecdote of John Skinner which 
should endear his memory to every generous and 
loving heart. On one occasion he was passing a small 
dissenting place of worship at the time when the 
congregation were engaged in singing : on passing the 
door old-fashioned Scottish Episcopalian as he was 
he reverently took off his hat. His companion said 
to him, " What ! do you feel so much sympathy with 
this Anti Burgher congregation 1 " " No/ 1 said Mr. 
Skinner, " but I respect and love any of my fellow- 
Christians who are engaged in singing to the glory of 
the Lord Jesus Christ." Well done, old Tullochgorum ! 
thy name shall be loved and honoured by every true 
liberal-minded Scotsman. 

Yes ! Mr. Skinner s experience of the goodness of 
God and of the power of grace, had led him to the 
conviction that the earnest song of praise, that comes 
from the heart of the sincere believer in Christ, can 
go up to Heaven from the humblest earthly house of 
prayer, and be received before the throne of grace as 



46 REMINISCENCES OP 

acceptably as the high and solemn service of the lofty 
cathedral, 

" Where, from the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault, 
The pealing anthein swells the note of praise." 

We must firmly believe that, obsolete as the 
dialect of Scotland may become, and its words and 
expressions a matter of tradition and of reminiscence 
with many, still there are Scottish lines, and broad 
Scottish lines, which can never cease to hold their 
place in the affections and the admiration of innu 
merable hearts whom they have charmed. Can the 
choice and popular Scottish verses, endeared to us 
by so many kindly associations of the past, and by 
so many beauties and poetical graces of their own, 
ever lose their attractions for a Scottish heart ] The 
charm of such strains can never die. 

I think one subsidiary cause for permanency in the 
popularity still belonging to particular Scottish songs 
has proceeded from their association with Scottish 
music. The melodies of Scotland can never die. In 
the best of these compositions there is a pathos and a 
feeling which must preserve them, however simple in 
their construction, from being vulgar or commonplace. 
Mendelssohn did not disdain taking Scottish airs as 
themes for the exercise of his profound science and 
his exquisite taste. It must, I think, be admitted 
that singing of Scottish songs in the perfection of their 
style at once pathetic, graceful, and characteristic 
is not so often met with as to remove all apprehension 
that ere long they may become matters only of remi 
niscence. Many accomplished musicians often neglect 
entirely the cultivation of their native melodies, under 
the idea of their being inconsistent with the elegance 
and science of high-class music. They commit a mis 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHARACTER, 47 

take. When judiciously and tastefully performed, it 
is a charming style of music, and will always give 
pleasure to the intelligent hearer. I have heard two 
young friends, who have attained great skill in scien 
tific and elaborate compositions, execute the simple 
song of " Low down in the Broom," with an effect I 
shall not easily forget. Who that has heard the 
Countess of Essex, when Miss Stephens, sing " Auld 
Robin Gray," can ever lose the impression of her 
heart-touching notes 1 In the case of " Auld Robin 
Gray," the song composed by Lady Anne Lindsay, 
although very beautiful in itself, has been, I think, 
a good deal indebted to the air for its great and con 
tinued popularity. The history of that tender and 
appropriate melody is somewhat curious, and not gene 
rally known. The author was not a Scotsman. It 
was composed by the Rev. Mr. Leves, rector of 
Wrington in Somersetshire, either early in this century 
or just at the close of the last. Mr. Leves was fond 
of music, and composed several songs, but none ever 
gained any notice except his "Auld Robin Gray," the 
popularity of which has been marvellous. I knew 
the family when I lived in Somersetshire, and had 
met them in Bath. Mr. Leves composed the air for 
his daughter, Miss Bessy Leves, who was a pretty 
girl and a pretty singer. 

I cannot but deeply regret to think that I should 
in these pages have any ground for classing Scottish 
poetry and Scottish airs amongst " Reminiscences." 
It is a department of literature where, of course, there 
must be selection, but I am convinced it will repay a 
careful cultivation. I would recommend, as a copious 
and judicious selection of Scottish tunes, " The Scot 
tish Minstrel," by R. A. Smith (Purdie, Edinburgh). 
There are the words, also, of a vast number of Scottish 



48 REMINISCENCES OF 

songs, but the account of their authorship is very de 
fective. Then, again, for the fine Scottish ballads of 
an older period, we have two admirable collections 
one by Mr. E. Chambers, and one by the late Professor 
Aytoun. For Scottish dialect songs of the more 
modern type, a copious collection will be found (exclu 
sive of Burns and Allan Ramsay) in small volumes 
published by David Robertson, Glasgow, at intervals 
from 1832 to 1853, under the title of Whistlebi rikie. 

But there are more than lines of Scottish poetry 
which may become matter of reminiscence, and more 
than Scottish song melodies which may be forgotten. 
There are strains of Scottish PSALMODY of which it 
would be more sad to think that they possibly may 
have lost their charm and their hold with Scottish 
people. That such psalmody, of a peculiar Scottish 
class and character, has existed, no one can doubt 
who has knowledge or recollection of past days. In 
glens and retired passes, where those who fled from 
persecution met together on the moors and heaths, 
where men suffering for their faith took refuge in 
the humble worship of the cottar s fireside were airs 
of sacred Scottish melody, which were well calculated 
to fan the heavenward flame which was kindled in 
lays of the " sweet Psalmist of Israel." These psalm- 
tunes are in their way as peculiar as the song-tunes 
we have referred to. Nothing can be more touching 
than the description by Burns of the domestic psalmody 
of his father s cottage. Mr. R. Chambers, in his Life 
of Burns, informs us that the poet, during his father s 
infirmity and after his death, had himself sometimes 
conducted family worship. Happy days, ere he had 
encountered the temptations of a world in which he 
had too often fallen before the solicitations of guilty 
passion ! and then, beautifully does he describe the 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHAHACTER. 49 

characteristic features of this portion of the cottars 
worship. How solemnly he enumerates the psalm- 
tunes usually made use of on such occasions, and 
discriminates the character of each : 

" They chant their artless notes in simple guise 

They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim : 
Perhaps DUNDEE S wild warbling measures rise, 
Or plaintive MARTYRS, worthy of the name, 
Or noble ELGIN beets * the heavenward flame." 

He was not, alas ! always disposed in after life to 
reverence these sacred melodies as he had done in his 
youthful days. In his poem of " The Holy Fair," he 
less reverently adduces mention of these sacred airs : 

"Now turn the Psalms o David ower, 

And lilt wi holy clangour. 
double verse come gie us four, 
An skirl up the Bangor." 

These tunes seem to have been strictly and ex 
clusively national. In proof of such psalmody being 
quite national, I have been told that many of these 
tunes were composed by artisans, such as builders, 
joiners, blacksmiths, etc. 

Several of the psalm-tunes more peculiar to Scotland 
are no doubt of an early date. In Ravenscroft s 
Psalms, published with the music in four parts in 
1621, he gives the names of seven as purely Scottish 
King s, Duke s, Abbey, Dunfermline, Dundee, Glasgow, 
Martyrs. I was used to hear such psalmody in my 
early days in the parish church of Fettercairn, where 
we always attended during summer. It had all the 
simple characteristics described by Burns, and there 
was a heartiness and energy too in the congregation 
when, as he expresses it, they used to "skirl up the 

* Adds fuel to fire. 



50 REMINISCENCES OF 

Bangor," of which the effects still hang in 
recollection. At that time there prevailed the curious 
custom, when some of the psalms were sung, of 
reading out a single line, and when that was sung 
another line was read, and so throughout.* Thus, on 
singing the 50th psalm, the first line sounded thus : 
" Our God shall come, and- shall no more;" when that 
was sung, there came the next startling announce 
ment " Be silent, but speak out" A rather unfortunate 
juxtaposition was suggested through this custom, which 
we are assured really happened in the church of 
Irvine. The precentor, after having given out the 
first line, and having observed some members of the 
family from the castle struggling to get through the 
crowd on a sacramental occasion, cried out, "Let the 
noble family of Eglinton pass," and then added the 
line which followed the one he had just given out 
rather mal-apropos " Nor stand in sinners way. 11 
One peculiarity I remember, which was, closing the 
strain sometimes by an interval less than a semitone ; 
instead of the half-note preceding the close or key-note, 
they used to take the guarfor-note, the effect of which 
had a peculiar gurgling sound, but I never heard it 
elsewhere. It may be said these Scottish tunes were 
unscientific, and their performance rude. It may be 
so, but the effect was striking, as I recall it through 
the vista of threescore years and ten. Great advances, 
no doubt, have been made in Scotland in congrega 
tional psalmody ; organs have in some instances been 
adopted ; choirs have been organised with great 
effort by choirmasters of musical taste and skill. But 
I hope the spirit of PIETY, which in past times once 

* As far as I am aware the only place in which it is practised 
at present (July 1872), is in the Free Church, Brodick, Arran, 



SCOTTISH LIFE <t CHARACTER. 51 

accompanied the old Scottish psalm, whether sung in 
the church or at home, has not departed with the 
music. Its better emotions are not, I hope, to become 
a " Keminiscence." 

There was no doubt sometimes a degree of noise in 
the psalmody more than was consistent with good 
taste, but this often proceeded from the earnestness of 
those who joined. I recollect at Banchory an honest 
fellow who sang so loud that he annoyed his fellow- 
worshippers, and the minister even rebuked him for 
" skirling " so loud. James was not quite patient 
under these hints, and declared to some of his 
friends that he was resolved to sing to the praise of 
God, as he said, " gin I should crack the waas o the 
houss." 

Going from sacred tunes to sacred words, a good 
many changes have taken place in the little history 
of our own psalmody and hymnology. When I first 
came to Edinburgh, for psalms we made use of the 
mild and vapid new version of Tate and Brady ; for 
hymns, almost each congregation had its own 
selection and there w r ere hymn-books of Dundee, 
Perth, Glasgow, etc. The Established Church used 
the old rough psalter, with paraphrases by Logan, etc., 
and a few hymns added by authority of the General 
Assembly. There seems to be a pretty general 
tendency in the Episcopal Church to adopt at present 
the extensive collection called " Hymns Ancient and 
Modern," cop.taining 386 pieces. Copies of the words 
alone are to be procured for one penny, and the whole, 
with tunes attached, to be procured for Is. 6d. The 
Hymns Ancient and Modern are not set forth with 
any Ecclesiastical sanction. It is supposed, however, 
that there will be a Hymnal published by the Church 
of England on authority, and if so, our Church will 



52 REMINISCENCES OF 

be likely to adopt it. The Established Church 
Hymnal Committee have lately sanctioned a very 
interesting collection of 200 pieces. The compilation 
has been made with liberality of feeling as well as 
with good taste. There are several of Neale s transla 
tions from mediaeval hymns, several from John Keble, 
and the whole concludes with the Te Deum taken 
literally from the Prayer-Book. 

This mention of Scottish Psalmody and Scottish 
Hymnology, whether for private or for public worship, 
naturally brings us to a very important division of 
our subject ; I mean the general question of remini 
scences of Scottish religious feelings and observances ; 
and first in regard to Scottish clergy. 

My esteemed friend, Lord Neaves, who, it is well 
known, combines with his great legal knowledge and 
high literary acquirements a keen sense of the humor 
ous, has sometimes pleasantly complained of my 
drawing so many of my specimens of Scottish humour 
from sayings and doings of Scottish ministers. They 
were a shrewd and observant race. They lived amongst 
their own people from year to year, and understood the 
Scottish type of character. Their retired habits and 
familiar intercourse with their parishioners gave rise to 
many quaint and racy communications. They were 
excellent men, well suited to their pastoral work, and 
did much good amongst their congregations; for it 
should be always remembered that a national church re 
quires a sympathy and resemblance between the pastors 
and the flocks. Both will be found to change together. 
Nothing could be further from my mind in recording 
these stories, than the idea of casting ridicule upon 
such an order of men. My own feelings as a Scots 
man, with all their ancestral associations, lead me to 
cherish their memory with pride and deep interest. I 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 58 

may appeal also to the fact that many contributions 
to this volume are voluntary offerings from distin 
guished clergymen of the Church of Scotland, as well 
as of the Free Church and of other Presbyterian com 
munities. Indeed, no persons enjoy these stories more 
than ministers themselves. I recollect many years 
ago travelling to Perth in the old stage-coach days, 
and enjoying the society of a Scottish clergyman, who 
was a most amusing companion, and full of stories, 
the quaint humour of which accorded with his own 
disposition. When we had come through Glen Farg, 
my companion pointed out that we were in the parish 
of Dron. With much humour he introduced an anec 
dote of a brother minister not of a brilliant order of 
mind, who had terminated in this place a course of 
appointments in the Church, the names of which, at 
least, were of an ominous character for a person of 
unimaginative temperament. The worthy man had 
been brought up at the school of Dunse; had been made 
assistant at Dull, a parish near Aberfeldy, in the 
Presbytery of Weem ; and had here ended his days 
and his clerical career as minister of Dron. 

There can be no doubt that the older school of 
national clergy supply many of our most amusing 
anecdotes ; and our pages would suffer deplorably 
were all the anecdotes taken away which turn upon 
their peculiarities of dialect and demeanour. I think 
it will be found, however, that upon no class of 
society has there been a greater change during the 
last hundred years than on the Scottish clergy as 
a body. This, indeed, might, from many circum 
stances, have been expected. The improved facilities 
for locomotion have had effect upon the retirement 
and isolation of distant country parishes, the more 

liberal and extended course of study at Scottish 

L 



54 REMINISCENCES OF 

colleges, the cheaper and wider diffusion of books on 
general literature, of magazines, newspapers, and 
reviews. Perhaps, too, we may add that candidates 
for the ministry now more generally originate from 
the higher educated classes of society. But honour 
to the memory of Scottish ministers of the days that 
are gone ! 

The Scottish clergy, from having mixed so little 
with life, were often, no doubt, men of simple habits 
and of very childlike notions. The opinions and feel 
ings which they expressed were often of a cast, which, 
amongst persons of more experience, would appear to 
be not always quite consistent with the clerical 
character. In them it arose from their having nothing 
conventional about them. Thus I have heard of an 
old bachelor clergyman whose landlady declared he 
used to express an opinion of his dinner by the grace 
which he made to follow. When he had had a good 
dinner which pleased him, and a good glass of beer 
with it, he poured forth the grace, " For the riches of 
thy bounty and its blessings we offer our thanks." 
When he had had poor fare and poor beer, his grace 
was, " The least of these thy mercies." 

Many examples of the dry, quaint humour of the 
class occur in these pages, but there could not be a 
finer specimen than the instance recorded in the 
" Annals of the Parish Jl of the account given by the 
minister of his own ordination. The ministers were 
all assembled for the occasion ; prayers had been 
offered, discourses delivered, and the time for the 
actual ordination had come. The form, is for the can 
didate to kneel down and receive his sacred office by 
the imposition of hands, i.e. the laying on of hands by 
the whole Presbytery. As the attendance of ministers 
was large, a number of hands were stretched forth, 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 55 

more than could quite conveniently come up to the 
candidate. An old minister, of the quiet jocose turn 
of mind we speak of, finding himself thus kept at a 
little distance, stretched out his walking staff and 
put it on the young man s head, with the quiet 
remark, " That will do ! Timmer to timmer " timber 
to timber. 

Their style of preaching, too was, no doubt often 
plain and homely. They had not the graces of elocu 
tion or elegance of diction. But many were faithful 
in their office, and preached Christ as the poor man s 
friend and the Saviour of the lowly and the suffering. 
I have known Scottish ministers of the old school get 
into a careless indifferent state of ministration ; I 
have also known the hoary head of many a Scottish 
minister go down to the grave a crown of glory, in his 
day and generation more honoured than many which 
had been adorned by a mitre. 



56 REMINISCENCES OF 



CHAPTER THE SECOND. 

SCOTTISH RELIGIOUS FEELINGS AND OBSERVANCES. 

PASSING from these remarks on the Scottish Clergy 
of a past day, I would treat the more extensive subject 
of RELIGIOUS FEELINGS and RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES 
generally with the caution and deference due to such 
a question, and I would distinctly premise that there 
is in my mind no intention of entering, in this volume, 
upon those great questions which are connected with 
certain church movements amongst us, or with national 
peculiarities of faith and discipline. It is impossible, 
however, to overlook entirely the fact of a gradual re 
laxation, which has gone on for some years, of the 
sterner features of the Calvinistic school of theology 
at any rate, of keeping its theoretic peculiarities 
more in the background. What we have to notice 
in these pages are changes in the feelings with regard 
to religion and religious observances, which have 
appeared upon the exterior of society the changes 
which belong to outward habits rather than to in 
ternal feelings. Of such changes many have taken 
place within my own experience. Scotland has ever 
borne the character of a moral and religious country ; 
and the mass of the people are a more church-going 
race than the masses of English population. I am 
not at all prepared to say that in the middle and lower 
ranks of life our countrymen have undergone much 
change in regard to religious observances. But there 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 57 

can be no question that amongst the upper classes 
there are manifestations connected with religion now, 
which some years ago were not thought of. The at- 
tendence of men on public worship is of itself an ex 
ample of the change we speak of. I am afraid that 
when Walter Scott described Monkbarns as being with 
difficulty "hounded out" to hear the sermons of good 
Mr. Blattergowl, he wrote from a knowledge of the 
habits of church-going then generally prevalent among 
Scottish lairds. The late Bishop Sandford told me 
that when he first came to Edinburgh I suppose fifty 
years ago few gentlemen attended church very few 
indeed were seen at the communion so much so that 
it was a matter of conversation when a male communi 
cant, not an aged man, was observed at the table for 
the first time. Sydney Smith, when preaching in 
Edinburgh some forty years ago, seeing how almost 
exclusively congregations were made up of ladies, took 
for his text the verse from the Psalms, " Oh that men 
would therefore praise the Lord ! " and with that touch 
of the facetious which marked everything he did, laid 
the emphasis on the word " men." Looking round the 
congregation and saying, " Oh that men would there 
fore praise the Lord! implying that he used the 
word, not to describe the human species generally, but 
the male individuals as distinguished from the female 
portion. In regard to attendance by young men, both 
at church and communion, a marked change has taken 
place in my own experience. In fact, there is an 
attention excited towards church subjects, which, thirty 
years ago, would have been hardly credited. Nor is 
it only in connection with churches and church services 
that these changes have been brought forth, but an 
interest has been raised on the subject from Bible 
societies, missionary associations at home and abroad, 



58 REMINISCENCES OF 

schools and reformatory institutions, most of which, 
as regard active operation, have grown up during fifty 
years. 

Nor should I omit to mention, what I trust may he 
considered as a change belonging to religious feeling 
viz., that conversation is now conducted without that 
accompaniment of those absurd and unmeaning oaths 
which were once considered an essential embellishment 
of polite discourse. I distinctly recollect an elderly 
gentleman, when describing the opinion of a refined 
and polished female upon a particular point, putting 
into her mouth an unmistakable round oath as the 
natural language in which people s sentiments and 
opinions would be ordinarily conveyed. This is a 
change wrought in men s feelings, which all must hail 
with great pleasure. Putting out of sight for a 
moment the sin of such a practice, and the bad in 
fluence it must have had upon all emotions of reverence 
for the name and attributes of the Divine Being, and 
the natural effect of profane swearing, to " harden a 
within, 7 we might marvel at the utter folly and incon 
gruity of making swearing accompany every expression 
of anger or surprise, or of using oaths as mere ex 
pletives in common discourse. A quaint anecdote, 
descriptive of such senseless ebullition, I have from a 
friend who mentioned the names of parties concerned : 
A late Duke of Athole had invited a well-known 
character, a writer of Perth, to come up and meet him 
at Dunkeld for the transaction of some business. The 
Duke mentioned the day and hour when he should 
receive the man of law, who accordingly came 
punctually at the appointed time and place. But the 
Duke had forgotten the appointment, and gone to the 
hill, from which he could not return for some hours. 
A Highlander present described the Perth writer s in- 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 59 

dignation, and his mode of showing it by a most 
elaborate course of swearing. " But whom did he 
swear at?" was the inquiry made of the narrator, who 
replied, " Oh, he didna sweer at ony thing particular, 
but juist stude in ta middle of ta road and swoor at 
lairge." I have from a friend also an anecdote which 
shows how entirely at one period the practice of 
swearing had become familiar even to female ears 
when mixed up with the intercourse of social life. A 
sister had been speaking of her brother as much 
addicted to this habit " Oor John sweers awfu , and 
we try to correct him ; but," she added in a candid 
and apologetic tone, " nae doubt it is a great set aff 
to conversation." There was something of rather an 
admiring character in the description of an outbreak 
of swearing by a Deeside body. He had been before 
the meeting of Justices for some offence against the 
excise laws, and had been promised some assistance 
and countenance by my cousin, the laird of Finzean, 
who was unfortunately addicted to the practice in 
question. The poor fellow had not got off so well as 
he had expected, and on giving an account of what 
took place to a friend, he was asked, "But did not 
Finzean speak for you?" "Na," he replied, "he 
didna say muckle ; but oh, he damned bonny ! " 

This is the place to notice a change which has 
taken place in regard to some questions of taste in 
the building and embellishing of Scottish places of 
worship. Some years back there was a great jealousy 
of ornament in connection with churches and church 
services, and, in fact, all such embellishments were 
considered as marks of a departure from the sim 
plicity of old Scottish worship, they were distinctive 
of Episcopacy as opposed to the severer modes of Pres- 
byterianism. The late Sir William Forbes used to 



80 REMINISCENCES OF 

give an account of a conversation, indicative of this 
feeling, which he had overheard between an Edin 
burgh inhabitant and his friend from the country. 
They were passing St. John s, which had just been 
finished, and the countryman asked, " Whatna kirk 
was that?" " Oh," said the townsman, "that is an 
English chapel," meaning Episcopalian. "Ay," said 
his friend, " there ll be a walth o images there." But, 
if unable to sympathise with architectural church 
ornament and embellishment, how much less could 
they sympathise with the performance of divine ser 
vice, which included such musical accompaniments as 
intoning, chanting, and anthems ! On the first in 
troduction of Tractarianism into Scotland, the full 
choir service had been established in an Episcopal 
church, where a noble family had adopted those views, 
and carried them out regardless of expense. The 
lady who had been instrumental in getting up these 
musical services was very anxious that a favourite 
female servant of the family a Presbyterian of the 
old school should have an opportunity of hearing 
them ; accordingly, she very kindly took her down 
to church in the carriage, and on returning asked her 
what she thought of the music, etc. " Ou, it s verra 
bonny, verra bonny ; but oh, my lady, it s an awfu 
way of spending the Sabbath." The good woman 
could only look upon the whole thing as a musical per 
formance. The organ was a great mark of distinction 
between Episcopalian and Presbyterian places of 
worship. I have heard of an old lady describing an 
Episcopalian clergyman, without any idea of disre 
spect, in these terms : " Oh, he is a whistle-kirk 
minister." From an Australian correspondent I have 
an account of the difference between an Episcopal 
minister and a Presbyterian minister, as remarked 



THE WEAVER S SHOP 

From a -water-colour drawing by 

HENRY W. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., R.S.Ji: 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. e\ 

by an old Scottish lady of his acquaintance. Being 
asked in what the difference was supposed to consist, 
after some consideration she replied, " Weel, ye see, 
the Presbyterian minister wears his sark under his 
coat, the Episcopal minister wears his sark aboon his 
coat." Of late years, however, a spirit of greater 
tolerance of such things has been growing up amongst 
us, a greater tolerance, I suspect, even of organs 
and liturgies. In fact, we may say a new era has 
begun in Scotland as to church architecture and 
church ornaments. The use of stained glass in 
churches forming memorial windows for the de 
parted,* a free use of crosses as architectural orna 
ments, and restoration of ancient edifices, indicate a 
revolution of feeling regarding this question. Beauti 
ful and expensive churches are rising everywhere, 
in connection with various denominations. It is 
not long since the building or repairing a new church, 
or the repairing and adapting an old church, implied 
in Scotland simply a production of the greatest pos 
sible degree of ugliness and bad taste at the least 
possible expense, and certainly never included any 
notion of ornament in the details. Now, large sums 
are expended on places of worship, without reference 
to creed. First-rate architects are employed. Fine 
Gothic structures are produced. The rebuilding of 
the Greyfriars Church, the restoration of South Leith 
Church and of Glasgow Cathedral, the very bold 
experiment of adopting a style little known amongst 
us, the pure Lombard, in a church for Dr. W. L. 
Alexander, on George IV. Bridge, Edinburgh ; the 

Distinguished examples of these are to be found in the 
Old Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, and in the Cathedral of 
Glasgow ; to say nothing of the beautiful specimens in St 
John s Episcopal Church, Edinburgh. 



62 REMINISCENCES OF 

really splendid Free Churches, St. Mary s, in Albany 
Street, and the Barclay Church, Bruntsfield, and 
many similar cases, mark the spirit of the times re 
garding the application of what is beautiful in art to 
the service of religion. One might hope that changes 
such as these in the feelings, tastes, and associations, 
would have a beneficial effect in bringing the wor 
shippers themselves into a more genial spirit of for 
bearance with each other. A friend of mine used 
to tell a story of an honest builder s views of church 
differences, which was very amusing, and quaintly 
professional. An English gentleman, who had arrived 
in a Scottish country town, was walking about to ex 
amine the various objects which presented themselves, 
and observed two rather handsome places of worship 
in course of erection nearly opposite to each other. 
He addressed a person, who happened to be the con 
tractor for the chapels, and asked, "What was the 
difference between these two places of worship which 
were springing up so close to each other?" meaning, 
of course, the difference of the theological tenets of 
the two congregations. The contractor, who thought 
only of architectural differences, innocently replied, 
" There may be a difference of sax feet in length, but 
there s no aboon a few inches in the breadth." Would 
that all our religious differences could be brought 
within so narrow a compass ! 

The variety of churches in a certain county of Scot 
land once called forth a sly remark upon our national 
tendencies to religious division and theological dispu 
tation. An English gentleman sitting on the box, 
and observing the great number of places of worship 
in the aforesaid borough, remarked to the coachman 
that there must be a great deal of religious feeling in 
a town which produced so many houses of God 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 63 

"Na." said the man quietly, "it s no religion, it s 
curstness" i.e. crabbedness, insinuating that acerbity 
of temper, as well as zeal, was occasionally the cause 
of congregations being multiplied. 

It might be a curious question to consider how far 
motives founded on mere taste or sentiment may 
have operated in creating an interest towards religion, 
and in making it a more prominent and popular ques 
tion than it was in the early portion of the present 
century. There are in this country two causes which 
have combined in producing these effects : 1st. The 
great disruption which took place in the Church of 
Scotland no doubt called forth an attention to the 
subject which stirred up the public, and made re 
ligion at any rate a topic of deep interest for discus 
sion and partizanship. Men s minds were not allowed 
to remain in the torpid condition of a past generation. 
2d. The aesthetic movement in religion, which some 
years since was made in England, has, of course, had 
its influence in Scotland ; and many who showed 
little concern about religion, whilst it was merely a 
question of doctrines, of precepts, and of worship, 
threw themselves keenly into the contest when it 
became associated with ceremonial, and music, and 
high art. New ecclesiastical associations have been 
presented to Scottish tastes and feelings. With some 
minds, attachment to the church is attachment to her 
Gregorian tones, jewelled chalices, lighted candles, 
embroidered altar-cloths, silver crosses, processions, 
copes, albs, and chasubles. But, from whatever cause 
it proceeds, a great change has taken place in the 
general interest excited towards ecclesiastical ques 
tions. Religion now has numerous associations with 
the ordinary current of human life. In times past it 
was kept more as a thing apart. There was a false 



64 REMINISCENCES OP 

delicacy which made people shrink from encountering 
appellations that were usually bestowed upon those 
who made a more prominent religious profession than 
the world at large. 

A great change has taken place in this respect with 
persons of all shades of religious opinions. With an in 
creased attention to the externals of religion, we believe 
that in many points the heart has been more exercised 
also. Take, as an example, the practice of family prayer. 
Many excellent and pious households of the former 
generation would not venture upon the observance, lam 
afraid, because they were in dread of the sneer. There 
was a foolish application of the terms " Methodist," 
" saints," " over-righteous," where the practice was 
observed. It was to take up a rather decided position 
in the neighbourhood ; and I can testify, that less than 
fifty years ago a family would have been marked and 
talked of for a usage of which now throughout the 
country the exception is rather the unusual circumstance. 
A little anecdote from recollections in my own family 
will furnish a good illustration of a state of feeling on 
this point now happily unknown. In a northern 
town of the east coast, where the earliest recollections 
of my life go back, there was usually a detachment of 
a regiment, who were kindly received and welcomed to 
the society, which in the winter months was very full 
and very gay. There was the usual measure of dining, 
dancing, supping, card-playing, and gossiping, which 
prevailed in country towns at the time. The officers 
were of course an object of much interest to the natives, 
and their habits were much discussed. A friend was 
staying in the family who partook a good deal of the 
Athenian temperament viz. delight in hearing and 
telling some new thing. On one occasion she burst 
forth in great excitement with the intelligence that 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHARACTER. 65 

" Sir Nathaniel Duckinfield, the officer in command of 
the detachment, had family prayers every morning!" 
A very near and dear relative of mine, knowing the 
tendency of the lady to gossip, pulled her up with 
the exclamation : " How can you repeat such things, 
Miss Ogilvy 1 nothing in the world but the ill-natured 
stories of Montrose!" The remark was made quite 
innocently, and unconsciously of the bitter satire it con 
veyed upon the feeling of the place. The " ill-nature" 
of these stories was true enough, because ill-nature 
was the motive of those who raised them ; not because 
it is an ill-natured thing of itself to say of a family 
that they have household worship, but the ill-nature 
consisted in their intending to throw out a sneer and 
a sarcasm upon a subject where all such reflections 
are unbecoming and indecorous. It is one of the best 
proofs of change of habits and associations on this 
matter, that the anecdote, exquisite as it is for our pur 
pose, will hardly be understood by many of our young 
friends, or, at least, happily has lost much of its force 
and pungency. 

These remarks apply perhaps more especially to 
the state of religious feeling amongst the upper classes 
of society. Though I am not aware of so much 
change in the religious habits of the Scottish 
peasantry, still the elders have yielded much from 
the sternness of David Deans ; and upon the whole 
view of the question there have been many and great 
changes in the Scottish people during the last sixty 
years. It could hardly be otherwise, when we con 
sider the increased facilities of communication between 
the two countries a facility which extends to the 
introduction of English books upon religious subjects 
The most popular and engaging works connected 
with the Church of England have now a free circu- 



66 REMINISCENCES OF 

lation in Scotland ; and it is impossible that such 
productions as the " Christian Year," for example, 
and many others whether for good or bad is not 
now the question should not produce their effects 
upon minds trained in the strictest school of Calvin- 
istic theology. I should be disposed to extend the 
boundaries of this division, and to include under 
" Religious Feelings and Religious Observances" 
many anecdotes which belong perhaps rather indi 
rectly than directly to the subject. There is a very 
interesting reminiscence, and one of a sacred charac 
ter also, which I think will come very suitably under 
this head. When I joined the Scottish Episcopal 
Church, nearly fifty years ago, it was quite customary 
for members of our communion to ask for the blessing 
of their Bishop, and to ask it especially on any 
remarkable event in their life, as marriage, loss of 
friends, leaving home, returning home, etc. ; and it 
was the custom amongst the old Scottish Episcopalians 
to give the blessing in a peculiar form, which had 
become venerable from its traditionary application 
by our bishops. I have myself received it from my 
bishop, the late good Bishop Walker, and have heard 
him pronounce it on others. But whether the custom 
of asking the bishop s blessing be past or not, the 
form I speak of has become a reminiscence, and I 
feel assured is not known even by some of our own 
bishops. I shall give it to my readers as I received 
it from the family of the late Bishop Walker of 
Edinburgh : 

" God Almighty bless thee with his Holy Spirit ; 
Guard thee in thy going out and coming in ; 
Keep thee ever in his faith and fear ; 
Free from Sin, and safe from Danger." 

I have been much pleased with a remark of my 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 67 

friend, the Rev. W. Gillespie of the U, P. Church, 
Edinburgh, upon this subject. He writes to me as fol 
lows : " I read with particular interest the paragraph 
on the subject of the Bishop s Blessing, for certainly 
there seems to be in these days a general disbelief in 
the efficacy of blessings, and a neglect or disregard 
of the practice. If the spirit of God is in good men, 
as He certainly is, then who can doubt the value and 
the efficacy of the blessing which they bestow? I 
remember being blessed by a very venerable minister, 
John Dempster of Denny, while kneeling in his 
study, shortly before I left this country to go to 
China, and his prayer over me then was surely the 
effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man. Its effect 
upon me then and ever since will never be forgotten. 
I quite agree with Mr. Gillespie on the point, and 
think it not a good sign either of our religious belief 
or religious feeling that such blessings should become 
really a matter of reminiscence ; for if we are taught 
to pray for one another, and if we are taught that 
the " prayer of the righteous availeth much," surely 
we ought to bless one another, and surely the blessing 
of those who are venerable in the church from their 
position, their age, and their piety, may be expected 
to avail as an aid and incentive to piety in those 
who in God s name are so blest. It has struck 
me that on a subject closely allied with religious 
feelings a great change has taken place in Scotland 
during a period of less than fifty years I mean the 
attention paid to cemeteries as depositories of the 
mortal remains of those who have departed. In my 
early days I never recollect seeing any efforts made 
Cor the embellishment and adornment of our church 
yards ; if tolerably secured by fences, enough had 
been done. The English and Welsh practices of 



68 REMINISCENCES OF 

planting flowers, keeping the turf smooth and dressed 
over the graves of friends, were quite unknown. In 
deed, I suspect such attention fifty years ago would 
have been thought by the sterner Presbyterians as 
somewhat savouring of superstition. The account 
given by Sir W. Scott, in " Guy Mannering," of an 
Edinburgh burial-place, was universally applicable to 
Scottish sepulchres.* A very different state of 
matters has grown up within the last few years. 
Cemeteries and churchyards are now as carefully orna 
mented in Scotland as in England. Shrubs, flowers, 
smooth turf, and neatly-kept gravel walks, are a 
pleasing accompaniment to head- stones, crosses, and 
varied forms of monumental memorials, in freestone, 
marble, and granite. Nay, more than these, not 
unfrequently do we see an imitation of French senti 
ment, in wreaths of " everlasting placed over graves 
as emblems of immortality ; and in more than one of 
our Edinburgh cemeteries I have seen these enclosed 
in glass cases to preserve them from the effects of 
wind and rain. 

In consequence of neglect, the unprotected state of 
churchyards was evident from the number of stories 
in circulation connected with the circumstance of 
timid and excited passengers going amongst the tombs 
of the village. The following, amongst others, has 
been communicated. The locale of the story is un 
known, but it is told of a weaver who, after enjoying 

* " This was a square enclosure iu the Greyfriars Churchyard, 
guarded on one side by a veteran angel without a nose, and hav 
ing only one wing, who had the merit of having maintained his 
post for a century, while his comrade cherub, who had stood 
sentinel on the corresponding pedestal, lay a broken trunk, 
among the hemlock, burdock, and nettles, which grew in gigan 
tic luxuriance around the walls of the mausoleum." 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 6J 

his potations, pursued his way home through the 
churchyard, his vision and walking somewhat im 
paired. As he proceeded he diverged from the path, 
and unexpectedly stumbled into a partially made 
grave, Stunned for a while, he lay in wonder at his 
descent, and after some time he got out, but he had 
not proceeded much farther when a similar calamity 
befell him. At this second fall, he was heard, in a 
tone of wonder and surprise, to utter the following 
exclamation, referring to what he considered the un- 
tenanted graves : " Ay ! ir ye a 1 up an* awa T J 

The kindly feelings and interest of the pastoral 
relation always formed a very pleasing intercourse 
between minister and people. I have received from 
an anonymous correspondent an anecdote illustrative 
of this happy connection, for which he vouches as 
authentic : 

John Brown, Burgher minister at Whitburn (son 
of the commentator, and father of the late Rev. Dr. John 
Brown of Edinburgh, and grandfather of the present 
accomplished M.D. of the same name, author of " Rab 
and his Friends," etc.), in the early part of the century 
was travelling on a small sheltie* to attend the 
summer sacrament at Haddington. Between Mus- 
selburgh and Tranent he overtook one of his own 
people. " What are ye daein here, Janet, and whaur 
ye gaun in this warm weather 1 ?" " Deed, sir," quo 
Janet, "Tin gaun to Haddington for ilu occasion^ an 
expeck to hear ye preach this efternoon." "Very 
weel, Janet, but whaur ye gaun tae sleep?" "I 
dinna ken, sir, but Providence is aye kind, an ll pro 
vide a bed." On Mr. Brown jogged, but kindly 
thought of his humble follower; accordingly, after 
service in the afternoon, before pronouncing the bless- 

* A Shetland pony. f The Lord s Supper. 

M 



70 REMINISCENCES OF 

ing, lie said from the pulpit, "Whaur s the auld 
wifie that followed me frae Whitburn?" "Here 
I m, sir," uttered a shrill voice from a back seat. 
" Aweel," said Mr. Brown, u I have fand ye a bed ; 
ye re to sleep wi Johnnie Fife s lass." 

There was at all times amongst the older Scottish 
peasantry a bold assertion of their religious opinions, 
and strong expression of their feelings. The spirit 
of the Covenanters lingered amongst the aged people 
whom I remember, but which time has considerably 
softened down. We have some recent authentic in 
stances of this readiness in Scotsmen to bear testi 
mony to their principles : 

A friend has informed me that the late Lord 
Eutherfurd often told with much interest of a rebuke 
which he received from a shepherd, near Bonaly, 
amongst the Pentlands. He had entered into con 
versation with him, and was complaining bitterly of 
the weather, which prevented him enjoying his visit 
to the country, and said hastily and unguardedly, 

" What a d d mist ! " and then expressed his 

wonder how or for what purpose there should have 
been such a thing created as east wind. The 
shepherd, a tall, grim figure, turned sharp round 
upon him. " What ails ye at the mist, sir 1 it weets 
the sod, it slockens the yowes, and" adding with 
much solemnity " it s God s wull ;" and turned away 
with lofty indignation. Lord Eutherfurd used to 
repeat this with much candour as a fine specimen of 
a rebuke from a sincere and simple mind. 

There was something very striking in the homely, 
quaint, and severe expressions on religious subjects 
which marked the old-fashioned piety of persons 
shadowed forth in Sir Walter Scott s Davie Deans. 
We may add to the rebuke of the shepherd of Bonaly 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 71 

of Lord Rutherfurd s remark about the east wind, his 
answer to Lord Cockburn, the proprietor of Bonaly. 
He was sitting on the hill-side with the shepherd, and 
observing the sheep reposing in the coldest situation, 
he observed to him, " John, if I were a sheep, I 
would lie on the other side of the hill." The 
shepherd answered, " Ay, my lord, but if ye had been 
a sheep ye would hae had mair sense." 

Of such men as this shepherd were formed the 
elders a class of men who were marked by strong 
features of character, and who, in former times, bore 
a distinguished part in all church matters. 

The old Scottish elder was in fact quite as dif 
ferent a character from the modern elder, as the old 
Scottish minister was from the modern pastor. These 
good men were not disposed to hide their lights, and 
perhaps sometimes encroached a little upon the office 
of the minister. A clergyman had been remarking 
to one of his elders that he was unfortunately invited 
to two funerals on one day, and that they were fixed 
for the same hour. " Weel, sir," answered the elder, 
k if ye ll tak the tane I ll tak the tither." 

Some of the elders were great humorists and 
originals in their way. An elder of the kirk at 
Mu thill used to manifest his humour and originality 
by his mode of collecting the alms. As he went 
round with the ladle, he reminded such members of 
the congregation as seemed backward in their duty, 
by giving them a poke with the " brod," and making, 
in an audible whisper, such remarks as these " Wife at 
the braid mailin, mind the puir ;" " Lass wi the braw 
plaid, mind the puir," etc., a mode of collecting which 
marks rather a bygone state of things. But on no 
question was the old Scottish disciplinarian, whether 
elder or not. more sure to raise his testimony than on 



KEXINISCENCES OF 

anything connected with a desecration of the Sabbath, 
In this spirit was the rebuke given to an eminent 
geologist, when visiting in the Highlands : The 
professor was walking on the hills one Sunday 
morning, and partly from the effect of habit, and 
partly from not adverting to the very strict notions 
of Sabbath desecration entertained in Ross-shire, had 
his pocket hammer in hand, and was thoughtlessly 
breaking the specimens of minerals he picked up by 
the way. Under these circumstances, he was met by 
an old man steadily pursuing his way to his church. 
For some time the patriarch observed the move 
ments of the geologist, and at length, going up to 
him, quietly said, "Sir, ye re breaking something 
there forbye the stanes ! 

The same feeling, under a more fastidious form, was 
exhibited to a traveller by a Scottish peasant : An 
English artist travelling professionally through Scot 
land, had occasion to remain over Sunday in a small 
town in the north. To while away the time, he walked 
out a short way in the environs, where the picturesque 
ruin of a castle met his eye. He asked a countryman 
who was passing to be so good as tell him the name 
of the castle. The reply was somewhat startling 
" It s no the day to be speerin sic things ! " 

A manifestation of even still greater strictness on 
the subject of Sabbath desecration, I have received 
from a relative of the family in which it occurred. 
About fifty years ago the Hon. Mrs. Stewart lived in 
Heriot Row, who had a cook, Jeannie by name, a 
paragon of excellence. One Sunday morning when 
her daughter (afterwards Lady Elton) went into the 
kitchen, she was surprised to find a new jack (recently 
ordered and which was constructed on the principle 
of goiag constantly without winding up) wholly para* 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 73 

lysed and useless. Miss Stewart naturally inquired 
what accident had happened to the new jack, as it 
had stopped. The mystery was soon solved by Jeannie 
indignantly exclaiming that " she was nae gaeing to 
hae the fule thing clocking and rinning about in her 
kitchen a* the blessed Sabbath dav." 

tf 

There sometimes appears to have been in our country 
men an undue preponderance of zeal for Sabbath 
observance as compared with the importance attached 
to other religious duties, and especially as compared 
with the virtue of sobriety. The following dialogue 
between Mr. Macnee of Glasgow, the celebrated artist, 
and an old Highland acquaintance whom he had met 
with unexpectedly, will illustrate the contrast between 
the severity of judgment passed upon treating the 
Sabbath with levity and the lighter censure attached 
to indulgence in whisky. Mr. Macnee begins, "Donald, 
what brought you here?" "Ou, weel, sir, it was a 
baad place yon ; they were baad folk but they re a 
God-fearin set o folk here !" "Well, Donald," said 
Mr. M., " I m glad to hear it." " Ou ay, sir, deed 
are they ; an I ll gie ye an instance o t. Last Sabbath, 
just as the kirk was skailin, there was a drover chield 
frae Dumfries comin along the road whustlin, an 
lookin as happy as if it was ta middle o ta week ; 
weel, sir, oor laads is a God-fearin set o laads, an 
they were just comin oot o the kirk od they yokit 
upon him, an* a most killed him !" Mr. M., to whom 
their zeal seemed scarcely sufficiently well directed to 
merit his approbation, then asked Donald whether it 
had been drunkenness that induced the depravity of his 
former neighbours 1 " Weel, weel, sir," said Donald, 
with some hesitation, " may-be ; I ll no say but it 
micht." "Depend upon it," said Mr. M., "it s a bad 
thing whisky.* "Weel, weel. sir," replied Donald, 



74 REMINISCENCES OF 

" 111 no say but it may ;" adding in a very decided 
tone " speecialiie baad whusky !" 

I do not know any anecdote which illustrates in a 
more striking and natural manner the strong feeling 
which exists in the Scottish mind on this subject. At 
a certain time, the hares in the neighbourhood of a 
Scottish burgh had, from the inclemency of the season 
or from some other cause, become emboldened more 
than usual to approach the dwelling-places of men ; 
so much so that on one Sunday morning a hare was 
seen skipping along the street as the people were go 
ing to church. An old man, spying puss in this un 
usual position, significantly remarked, " Ay, yon beast 
kens weel it is the Sabbath-day ;" taking it for granted 
that no one in the place would be found audacious 
enough to hurt the animal on a Sunday. 

Lady Macneil supplies an excellent pendant to Miss 
Stewart s story about the jack going on the Sunday. 
Her henwife had got some Dorking fowls, and on 
Lady M. asking if they were laying many eggs, she 
replied, with great earnestness, "Indeed my leddy, 
they lay every day, no excepting the blessed Sabbath." 

There were, however, old persons at that time who 
were not quite so orthodox on the point of Sabbath 
observance ; and of these a lady residing in Dumfries 
was known often to employ her wet Sundays in ar 
ranging her wardrobe. "Preserve us!" she said on 
one occasion, " anither gude Sunday ! I dinna ken 
whan I ll get thae drawers redd up." 

In connection with the awful subject of death and 
all its concomitants, it has been often remarked that 
the older generation of Scottish people used to view 
the circumstances belonging to the decease of their 
nearest and dearest friends with a coolness which does 
not at first sight seem consistent with their deep and 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 75 

sincere religious impressions. Amongst the peasantry 
this was sometimes manifested in an extraordinary 
and startling manner. I do not believe that those 
persons had less affection for their friends than a cor 
responding class in England, but they had less awe 
of the concomitants of death, and approached them 
with more familiarity. For example, I remember 
long ago at Fasque, my sister-in-law visiting a worthy 
and attached old couple, of whom the husband, Charles 
Duncan, who had been gardener at Fasque for above 
thirty years was evidently dying. He was sitting on 
a common deal chair, and on my sister proposing to 
send down for his use an old arm-chair which she re 
collected was laid up in a garret, his wife exclaimed 
against such a needless trouble : " Hout, my leddy, 
what would he be duin wi an arm-chair? he s just 
deem fast awa." I have two anecdotes, illustrative 
of the same state of feeling, from a lady of ancient 
Scottish family accustomed to visit her poor depend 
ants on the property, and to notice their ways. She 
was calling at a decent cottage, and found the occu 
pant busy carefully ironing out some linens. The lady 
remarked, " Those are fine linens you have got there, 
Janet." "Troth, mem," was the reply, "they re just 
the gudeman s deed claes, and there are nane better 
i the parish." On another occasion, when visiting 
an excellent woman, to condole with her on the death 
of her nephew, with whom she had lived, and whose 
loss must have been severely felt by her, she remarked, 
; What a nice white cap you have got, Margaret." 
" Indeed, mem, ay, sae it is ; for ye see the gude lad s 
winding sheet was ower lang, and I cut aff as muckle 
as made twa bonny mutches (caps). 

There certainly was a quaint and familiar manner 
in which sacred and solemn subjects were referred to 



76 REMINISCENCES OF 

by the older Scottish race, who did not mean to 
be irreverent, but who no doubt appeared so to a 
more refined but not really a more religious genera 
tion. 

It seems to me that this plainness of speech arose 
in part from the sincerity of their belief in all the 
circumstances of another condition of being. They 
spoke of things hereafter as positive certainties, and 
viewed things invisible through the same medium as 
they viewed things present. The following is illustra 
tive of such a state of mind, and I am assured of its 
perfect authenticity and literal correctness: "Joe 
MTherson and his wife lived in Inverness. They had 
two sons, who helped their father in his trade of a smith. 
They were industrious and careful, but not successful. 
The old man had bought a house, leaving a large part 
of the price unpaid. It was the ambition of his life 
to pay off that debt, but it was too much for him, 
and he died in the struggle. His sons kept on the 
business with the old industry, and with better for 
tune. At last their old mother fell sick, and told her 
sons she was dying, as in truth she was. The elder 
son said to her, l Mother, you ll soon be with my 
father ; no doubt you ll have much to tell him ; but 
dinna forget this, mother, mind ye, tell him the house 
is freed. He ll be glad to hear that. 1 

A similar feeling is manifest in the following con 
versation, which, I am assured, is authentic : At 
Hawick the people used to wear wooden clogs, which 
make a clanking noise on the pavement. A dying 
old woman had some friends by her bed-side, who 
said to her, " Weel, Jenny, ye are gaun to heeven, an 
gin you should see oor folk, you can tell them that 
we re a weel." To which Jenny replied, " Weel, gin 
I should see them Tse tell them, but you manna ex- 



THE WEAVER 
From a water-colour drawing ly 

HENRY W. KERR, 
A.R.S.A. R.S.1V 



SCOTTISH LIFE 4 CHARACTER. 77 

pect that I am to gang clank clanking through heevan 
looking for your folk." 

But of all stories of this class, I think the following 
death-bed conversation between a Scottish husband 
and wife is about the richest specimen of a dry Scot 
tish matter-of-fact view of a very serious question : 
An old shoemaker in Glasgow was sitting by the bed 
side of his wife, who was dying. She took him by 
the hand. "Weel, John, we re gawin to part. I 
hae been a gude wife to you, John." " Oh, just 
middling, just middling, Jenny," said John, not dis 
posed to commit himself. "John," says she, "ye 
maun promise to bury me in the auld kirk-yard at 
StraVon, beside my mither. I couldna rest in peace 
among unco folk, in the dirt and smoke o Glasgow." 
"Weel, weel, Jenny, my woman," said John sooth 
ingly, " we ll just pit you in the Gorbals first, and gin 
ye dinna lie quiet, we ll try you sine in Stra von." 

The same unimaginative and matter-of-fact view of 
things connected with the other world extended to a 
very youthful age, as in the case of a little boy who, 
when told of heaven, put the question, "An will 
faather be there?" His instructress answered, "of 
course, she hoped he would be there;" to which he 
sturdily at once replied, "Then I ll no gang." 

We might apply these remarks in some measure to 
the Scottish pulpit ministrations of an older school, in 
which a minuteness of detail and a quaintness of ex 
pression were quite common, but which could not now 
be tolerated. I have two specimens of such antiquated 
language, supplied by correspondents, and I am assured 
they are both genuine. 

The first is from a St. Andrews professor, who is 
stated to be a great authority in such narratives. 

In one of our northern counties, a rural district had 



7S REMINISCENCES OF 

its harvest operations affected by continuous rains. 
The crops being much laid, wind was desired in order 
to restore them to a condition fit for the sickle. A 
minister, in his Sabbath services, expressed their want 
in prayer as follows : " Lord, we pray thee to 
send us wind ; no a rantin tantin tearin wind, but a 
noohin (noughin 1) soughin winnin wind." More 
expressive words than these could not be found in any 
language. 

The other story relates to a portion of the Presby 
terian service on sacramental occasions, called " fencing 
the tables," i.e. prohibiting the approach of those who 
were unworthy to receive. 

This fencing of the tables was performed in the 
following effective manner by an old divine, whose 
flock transgressed the third commandment, not in a 
gross and loose manner, but in its minor details : " I 
debar all those who use such minced oaths as faith ! 
troth ! losh ! gosh ! and lovanendie !" 

These men often showed a quiet vein of humour in 
their prayers, as in the case of the old minister of the 
Canongate, who always prayed, previous to the meeting 
of the General Assembly, that the Assembly might 
be so guided as " no to do ony harm. 1 

A circumstance connected with Scottish church dis 
cipline has undergone a great change in my time I 
mean the public censure from the pulpit, in the time 
of divine service, of offenders previously convicted be 
fore the minister and his kirk-session. This was per 
formed by the guilty person standing up before the 
congregation on a raised platform, called the cutty stool, 
and receiving a rebuke. I never saw it done, but 
have heard in my part of the country of the discipline 
being enforced occasionally. Indeed, I recollect an 
instance where the rebuke was thus administered and 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 7S 

received under circumstances of a touching character, 
and which made it partake of the moral sublime. The 
daughter of the minister had herself committed an 
offence against moral purity, such as usually called 
forth this church censure. The minister peremptorily 
refused to make her an exception to his ordinary 
practice. His child stood up in the congregation, and 
received, from her agonised father, a rebuke similar 
to that administered to other members of his congre 
gation for a like offence. The spirit of the age became 
unfavourable to the practice. The rebuke on the cutty 
stool, like the penance in a white sheet in England, 
went out of use, and the circumstance is now a matter 
of " reminiscence." I have received some communica 
tions on the subject, which bear upon this point ; and I 
subjoin the folio wing remarks from a kind correspond 
ent, a clergyman, to whom I am largely indebted, 
as indicating the great change which has taken place 
in this matter. 

"Church discipline," he writes, "was much more 
vigorously enforced in olden time than it is now. A 
certain couple having been guilty of illicit intercourse, 
and also within the forbidden degrees of consangui 
nity, appeared before the Presbytery of Lanark, and 
made confession in sackcloth. They were ordered to 
return to their own session, and to stand at the kirk- 
door, barefoot and barelegged, from the second bell to 
the last, and thereafter in the public place of repent 
ance ; and, at direction of the session, thereafter to 
go through the whole kirks of the presbytery, and to 
satisfy them in like manner. If such penance were 
now enforced for like offences, I believe the registra 
tion books of many parishes in Scotland would be 
come more creditable in certain particulars than they 
unfortunately are at the present time." 



80 REMINISCENCES OP 

But there was a less formidable ecclesiastical cen 
sure occasionally given by the minister from the 
pulpit against lesser misdemeanours, which took place 
under his own eye, such as levity of conduct or sleep 
ing in church. A most amusing specimen of such 
censure was once inflicted by the minister upon his 
own wife for an offence not in our day visited with 
so heavy a penalty. The clergyman had observed 
one of his flock asleep during his sermon. He paused, 
and called him to order. "Jeems Robson, ye are 
sleepin ; I insist on your wauking when God s word 
is preached to ye." " Weel, sir, you may look at your 
ain seat, and ye ll see a sleeper forbye me," answered 
Jeems, pointing to the clergyman s lady in the minis 
ter s pew. " Then, Jeems," said the minister, " when 
ye see my wife asleep again, haud up your hand." 
By and by the arm was stretched out, and sure enough 
the fair lady was caught in the act. Her husband 
solemnly called upon her to stand up and receive the 
censure due to her offence. He thus addressed 
her :- - u Mrs. B., a body kens that when I got ye for 
my wife, I got nae beauty ; yer frien s ken that 
I got nae siller ; and if I dinna get God s grace, I 
shall hae a puir bargain indeed." 

The quaint and original humour of the old Scottish 
minister came out occasionally in the more private 
services of his vocation as well as in church. As the 
whole service, whether for baptisms or marriages, is 
supplied by the clergyman officiating, there is more 
scope for scenes between the parties present than at 
similar ministrations by a prescribed form. Thus, a 
late minister of Caithness, when examining a member 
of his flock, who was a butcher, in reference to the 
baptism of his child, found him so deficient in what 
he considered the needful theological knowledge, that 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 81 

he said to him, " Ah, Sandy, I doubt ye re no lit to 
hand up the bairn." Sandy, conceiving that reference 
was made not to spiritual but to physical incapacity, 
answered indignantly, " Hout, minister, I could haud 
him up an he were a twa-year-auld stirk." * A late 
humorous old minister, near Peebles, who had strong 
feelings on the subject of matrimonial happiness, thus 
prefaced the ceremony by an address to the parties who 
came to him : " My friends, marriage is a blessing 
to a few, a curse to many, and a great uncertainty to 
all. Do ye venture ?" After a pause, he repeated with 
great emphasis, " Do ye venture ?" No objection being 
made to the venture, he then said, " Let s proceed." 

The old Scottish hearers were very particular on the 
subject of their minister s preaching old sermons ; and 
to repeat a discourse which they could recollect was 
always made a subject of animadversion by those who 
heard it. A beadle, who was a good deal of a wit in 
his way, gave a sly hit in his pretended defence of 
his minister on the question. As they were proceed 
ing from church, the minister observed the beadle had 
been laughing as if he had triumphed over some of the 
parishioners with whom he had been in conversation. 
On asking the cause of this, he received for answer. 
" Dod, sir, they were saying ye had preached an auld 
sermon to-day, but I tackled them, for I tauld them 
it was no an auld sermon, for the minister had preach 
ed it no sax months syne." 

I remember the minister of Banchory, Mr. Gregory, 
availed himself of the feelings of his people on this sub 
ject for the purpose of accomplishing a particular ob 
ject. During the building of the new church the 
service had to be performed in a schoolroom, which 
did not nearly hold the congregation. The object was 

* Bullock. 



82 REMINISCENCES OF 

to get part of the parish to attend in the morning, 
and part in the afternoon. Mr. Gregory prevented 
those who had attended in the morning from return 
ing in the afternoon by just giving them, as he said, 
" cauld kail het again." 

It is somewhat remarkable, however, that, notwith 
standing this feeling in the matter of a repetition of 
old sermons, there was amongst a large class of Scot 
tish preachers of a former day such a sameness of 
subject as really sometimes made it difficult to dis 
tinguish the discourse of one Sunday from amongst 
others. These were entirely doctrinal, and however 
they might commence, after the opening or intro 
duction hearers were certain to find the preacher 
falling gradually into the old channel. The fall of 
man in Adam, his restoration in Christ, justification 
by faith, and the terms of the new covenant, formed 
the staple of each sermon, and without which it was 
not in fact reckoned complete as an orthodox exposi 
tion of Christian doctrine. Without omitting the 
essentials of Christian instruction, preachers now take 
a wider view of illustrating and explaining the gospel 
scheme of salvation and regeneration, without constant 
recurrence to the elemental and fundamental principles 
of the faith. From my friend Dr. Cook of Haddington 
(who it is well known has a copious stock of old Scotch 

traditionary anecdotes) I have an admirable illustration 

> / 

of this state of things as regards pulpit instruction. 

"Much of the preaching of the Scotch clergy," Dr. 
Cook observes, " in the last century, was almost exclu 
sively doctrinal the fall : the nature, the extent, and 
the application of the remedy. In the hands of able 
men, no doubt, there might be much variety of exposi 
tion, but with weaker or indolent men preaching 
extempore, or without notes, it too often ended in a 



SCOTTISH LIFE 6 CHARACTER. 33 

weekly repetition of what had been already said. An 
old elder of mine, whose recollection might reach back 
from sixty to seventy years, said to me one day, * Now- 
a-days, people make a work if a minister preach the 
same sermon over again in the course of two or three 
years. When I was a boy, we would have wondered 

if old Mr. W had preached anything else than 

what we heard the Sunday before. My old friend 
used to tell of a clergyman who had held forth on 
the broken covenant till his people longed for a 
change. The elders waited on him to intimate their 
wish. They were examined on their knowledge of 
the subject, found deficient, rebuked, and dismissed, 
but after a little while they returned to the charge, 
and the minister gave in. Next Lord s day he read 
a large portion of the history of Joseph and his 
brethren, as the subject of a lecture. He paraphrased 
it, greatly, no doubt, to the detriment of the original, 
but much to the satisfaction of his people, for it was 
something new. He finished the paraphrase, and 
now, says he, my friends, we shall proceed to draw 
some lessons and inferences ; and, 1st, you will observe 
that the sacks of Joseph s brethren were ripit, and in 
them was found the cup ; so your sacks will be ripit 
at the day of judgment, and the first thing found in 
them will be the broken covenant ; and having gain 
ed this advantage, the sermon went off into the usual 
strain, and embodied the usual heads of elementary 
dogmatic theology." 

In connection with this topic, I have a communi 
cation from a correspondent, who remarks The story 
about the minister and his favourite theme, " the bro 
ken covenant," reminds me of one respecting another 
minister whose staple topics of discourse were " Justi 
fication, Adoption, and Sanetifwation." Into every 



84 REMINISCENCES OF 

sermon he preached, he managed, by hook or by crook, 
to force these three heads, so that his general method 
of handling every text was not so much expositio as 
impositio. He was preaching on these words " Is 
Ephraim my dear son 1 Is he a pleasant child ] " and 
he soon brought the question into the usual formula 
by adding, Ephraim was a pleasant child first, because 
he was a justified child ; second, because he was an 
adopted child ; and third, because he was a sanctified 
child. 

It should be remembered, however, that the Scottish 
peasantry themselves I mean those of the older 
school delighted in expositions of doctrinal subjects, 
and in fact were extremely jealous of any minister 
who departed from their high standard of orthodox 
divinity, by selecting subjects which involved discus 
sions of strictly moral or practical questions. It was 
condemned under the epithet of legal preaching ; in 
other words, it was supposed to preach the law as 
independent of the gospel. A worthy old clergyman 
having, upon the occasion of a communion Monday, 
taken a text of such a character, was thus commented 
on by an ancient dame of the congregation, who was 
previously acquainted with his style of discourse : 
" If there s an ill text in a the Bible, that creetur s 
aye sure to tak it." 

The great change the great improvement, I would 
say which has taken place during the last half-cen 
tury in the feelings and practical relations of religion 
with social life is, that it has become more diffused 
through all ranks and all characters. Before that 
period many good sort of people were afraid of making 
their religious views very prominent, and were always 
separated from those who did. Persons who made a 
profession at all beyond the low standard generally 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 85 

adopted in society were marked out as objects of fear 
or of distrust. The anecdote at page 65 regarding 
the practice of family prayer fully proves this. Now 
religious people and religion itself are not kept aloof 
from the ordinary current of men s thoughts and ac 
tions. There is no such marked line as used to be 
drawn round persons who make a decided profession 
of religion. Christian men and women have stepped 
over the line, and, without compromising their 
Christian principle, are not necessarily either morose, 
uncharitable, or exclusive. The effects of the old 
separation were injurious to men s minds. Religion 
was with many associated with puritanism, with cant, 
and unfitness for the world. The difference is marked 
also in the style of sermons prevalent at the two 
periods. There were sermons of two descriptions viz., 
sermons by "moderate " clergy, of a purely moral or 
practical character ; and sermons purely doctrinal, 
from those who were known as " evangelical " minis 
ters. Hence arose an impression, and not unnaturally, 
on many minds, that an almost exclusive reference 
to doctrinal subjects, and a dread of upholding the 
law, and of enforcing its more minute details, were 
not favourable to the cause of moral rectitude and 
practical holiness of life. This was hinted in a sly 
way by a young member of the kirk to his father, a 
minister of the severe and high Calvinistic school. 
Old Dr. Lockhart of Glasgow was lamenting one day, 
in the presence of his son John, the fate of a man who 
had been found guilty of immoral practices, and the 
more so that he was one of his own elders. " Well, 
father," remarked his son, " you see what you ve driven 
him to." In our best Scottish preaching at the pre 
sent day no such distinction is visible. 

The same feeling came forth with much point and 

N 



86 REMINISCENCES OF 

humour on an occasion referred to in "Carlyle g 
Memoirs." In a company where John Home and 
David Hume were present, much wonder was expressed 
what could have induced a clerk belonging to Sir 
William Forbes bank to abscond, and embezzle 900. 
" I know what it was," said Home to the historian ; 
"for when he was taken there was found in his 
pocket a volume of your philosophical works and 
Boston s Fourfold State " a hit, 1st, at the infidel, 
whose principles would have undermined Christianity ; 
and 2d, a hit at the Church, which he was compelled 
to leave on account of his having written the tragedy 
of Douglas. 

I can myself recollect an obsolete ecclesiastical 
custom, and which was always practised in the church 
of Fettercairn during my boyish days viz., that of 
the minister bowing to the heritors in succession who 
occupied the front gallery seats ; and I am assured 
that this bowing from the pulpit to the principal 
heritor or heritors after the blessing had been pro 
nounced was very common in rural parishes till about 
forty years ago, and perhaps till a still later period. 
And when heritors chanced to be pretty equally 
matched, there was sometimes an unpleasant contest 
as to who was entitled to the precedence in having 
the first bow. A case of this kind once occurred in 
the parish of Lanark, which was carried so far as to 
be laid before the Presbytery ; but they, not con 
sidering themselves " competent judges of the points 
of honour and precedency among gentlemen, and to 
prevent all inconveniency in these matters in the 
future, appointed the minister to forbear bowing to 
the lairds at all from the pulpit for the time to come ;" 
and they also appointed four of their number " to wait 
upon the gentlemen, to deal with them, for bringing 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 87 

them to condescend to submit hereunto, for the success 
of the gospel and the peace of the parish." 

In connection with this subject, we may mention a 
ready and complimentary reply once made by the late 
Reverend Dr. Wightman of Kirkmahoe, on being 
rallied for his neglecting this usual act of courtesy one 
Sabbath in his own church. The heritor who was 
entitled to and always received this token of respect, 
was Mr. Miller, proprietor of Dalswinton. One 
Sabbath the Dalswinton pew contained a bevy of 
ladies, but no gentlemen, and the Doctor perhaps 
because he was a bachelor and felt a delicacy in the 
circumstances omitted the usual salaam in their 
direction. A few days after, meeting Miss Miller, 
who was widely famed for her beauty, and who after 
wards became Countess of Mar, she rallied him, in 
presence of her companions, for not bowing to her 
from the pulpit on the previous Sunday, and requested 
an explanation ; when the good Doctor immediately 
replied " I beg your pardon, Miss Miller, but you 
surely know that angel-worship is not allowed in the 
Church of Scotland ;" and lifting his hat, he made a 
low bow, and passed on. 

Scottish congregations, in some parts of the country, 
contain an element in their composition quite unknown 
in English churches. In pastoral parts of the country, 
it was an established practice for each shepherd to 
bring his faithful collie dog at least it was so some 
years ago. In a district of Sutherland, where the 
population is very scanty, the congregations are made 
up one-half of dogs, each human member having his 
canine companion. These dogs sit out the Gaelic 
services and sermon with commendable patience, till 
towards the end of the last psalm, when there is a 
universal stretching and yawning, and all are prepared 



88 REl^frNISCENCES OF 

to scamper out, barking in a most excited manner 
whenever the blessing is commenced. The congrega 
tion of one of these churches determined that the 
service should close in a more decorous manner, and 
steps were taken to attain this object. Accordingly, 
when a stranger clergyman was officiating, he found 
the people all sitting when he was about to pronounce 
the blessing. He hesitated, and paused, expecting 
them to rise, till an old shepherd, looking up to 
the pulpit, said, " Say awa , sir ; we re a* sittin to 
cheat the dowgs." 

There must have been some curious specimens of 
Scottish humour brought out at the examinations or 
catechisings by ministers of the flock before the ad 
ministrations of the communion. Thus, with reference 
to human nature before the fall, a man was asked, 
"What kind of man was Adam?" " Ou, just like 
ither fouk." The minister insisted on having a more 
special description of the first man, and pressed for 
more explanation. "Weel," said the catechumen, 
"he was just like Joe Simson the horse-couper." 
"How sol" asked the minister. "Weel, naebody 
got ony thing by him, and mony lost." 

A lad had come for examination previous to his 
receiving his first communion. The pastor, knowing 
that his young friend was not very profound in his 
theology, and not wishing to discourage him, or keep 
him from the table unless compelled to do so, began 
by asking what he thought a safe question, and 
what would give him confidence. So he took the Old 
Testament, and asked him, in reference to the Mosaic 
law, how many commandments there were. After a 
little thought, he put his answer in the modest form 
of a supposition, and replied, cautiously, "Aiblins* 

* Perhaps. 



SCOTTISH LIFE <t< CHARACTER. B9 

a hunner." The clergyman was vexed, and told him 
such ignorance was intolerable, that he could not 
proceed in examination, and that the youth must 
wait and learn more ; so he went away. On return 
ing home he met a friend on his way to the manse, 
and on learning that he too was going to the minister 
for examination, shrewdly asked him, " Weel, what 
will ye say 1100 if the minister speers hoo mony com 
mandments there are ? v " Say ! why, I shall say ten 
to be sure."- To which the other rejoined, with great 
triumph, " Ten ! Try ye him wi ten ! I tried him 
wi 1 a hunner, and he wasna satisfeed." Another 
answer from a little girl was shrewd and reflective. 
The question was, " Why did the Israelites make a 
golden calf?" "They hadna as muckle siller as wad 
rnak a coo." 

A kind correspondent has sent me, from personal 
knowledge, an admirable pendant to stories of Scottish 
child acuteness and shrewd observation. A young 
lady friend of his, resident in a part of Ayrshire 
rather remote from any very satisfactory adminis 
tration of the gospel, is in the habit of collecting the 
children of the neighbourhood on Sundays at the 
" big hoose," for religious instruction. On one 
occasion the class had repeated the paraphrase of the 
Lord s Prayer, which contains these lines 



Give us this day our daily bread, 
And raiments/ft provide." 



There being no question as to what " daily bread 
was, the teacher proceeded to ask : " What do you 
understand by raiment fit, or as we might say, fit 
raiment] For a short time the class remained 
puzzled at the question ; but at last one little girl 
sung out " stockings and shune." The child knew 



90 REMINISCENCES OF 

that " fit," was Scotch for feet, so her natural explana 
tion of the phrase was equivalent to "feet raiment," 
or " stockings and shune," as she termed it. 

On the point of changes in religious feelings there 
comes within the scope of these Reminiscences a 
character in Aberdeenshire, which has now gone out- 
I mean the popular and universally well-received 
Roman Catholic priest. Although we cannot say 
that Scotland is a more PROTESTANT nation than it 
was in past days, still religious differences, and strong 
prejudices, seem at the present time to draw a more 
decided line of separation between the priest and his 
Protestant countrymen. As examples of what is 
past, I would refer to the case of a genial Romish 
bishop in Ross -shire. It is well known that private 
stills were prevalent in the Highlands fifty or sixty 
years ago, and no one thought there was any harm 
in them. This good bishop, whose name I forget. 
was (as I heard the late W. Mackenzie of Muirton 
assure a party at Dunrobin Castle) several years pre 
viously a famous hand at brewing a good glass of 
whisky, and that he distributed his mountain-dew 
with a liberal and impartial hand alike to Catholic 
and to Protestant friends. Of this class, I recollect, cer 
tainly forty-five years ago, Priest Gordon, a genuine 
Aberdonian, and a man beloved by all, rich and poor. 
He was a sort of chaplain to Menzies of Pitfodels, 
and visited in all the country families round Aberdeen. 
I remember once his being at Banchory Lodge, and 
thus apologising to my aunt for going out of the 
room : " I beg your pardon, Mrs. Forbes, for leaving 
you, but I maun just gae doun to the garden and say 
my bit wordies " these " bit wordies" being in fact 
the portion of the Breviary which he was bound to 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fe CHARACTER. 91 

recite. So easily and pleasantly were those matters 
then referred to. 

The following, however, is a still richer illustra 
tion, and I am assured it is genuine : " Towards the 
end of the last century, a worthy Roman Catholic 
clergyman, well known as Priest Matheson, and 
universally respected in the district, had charge of a 
mission in Aberdeenshire, and for a long time made 
his journeys on a piebald pony, the priest and his 
pyet shelty sharing an affectionate recognition 
wherever they came. On one occasion, however, he 
made his appearance on a steed of a different descrip 
tion, and passing near a Seceding meeting-house, he 
forgathered with the minister, who, after the usual 
kindly greetings, missing the familiar pony, said, Ou, 
Priest! fat s come o the auld Pyet? He s deid, 
minister. Weel, he was an auld faithfu servant, and 
ye wad nae doot gie him the offices o the church 1 
Na, minister, said his friend, not quite liking this 
allusion to his priestly offices, I didna dee that, for 
ye see he turned Seceder afore he dedd, an 1 I burled 
him like a beast. He then rode quietly away. This 
worthy man, however, could, when occasion required, 
rebuke with seriousness as well as point. Always a 
welcome guest at the houses of both clergy and gentry, 
he is said on one occasion to have met with a laird 
whose hospitality he had thought it proper to decline, 
and on being asked the reason for the interruption of 
his visits, answered, ; Ye ken, an I ken ; but, laird. 
God kens! " 

One question connected with religious feeling, and 
the manifestation of religious feeling, has become a 
more settled point amongst us, since fifty years have 
expired. I mean the question of attendance by 
clergymen on theatrical representations. Dr. Carlyle 



92 REMINISCENCES OF 

had been prosecuted before the General Assembly in 
1757 for being present at the performance of the 
tragedy of Douglas, written by his friend John Home. 
He was acquitted, however, and writes thus on the 
subject in his Memoirs : 

"Although the clergy in Edinburgh and its 
neighbourhood had abstained from the theatre because 
it gave offence, yet the more remote clergymen, when 
occasionally in town, had almost universally attended 
the play-house. It is remarkable that in the year 
1784, when the great actress Mrs. Siddons first 
appeared in Edinburgh, during the sitting of the 
General Assembly, that court was obliged to fix all 
its important business for the alternate days when 
she did not act, as all the younger members, clergy 
as well as laity, took their stations in the theatre 
on those days by three in the afternoon." 

Drs. Eobertson and Blair, although they cultivated 
the acquaintance of Mrs. Siddons in private, were 
amongst those clergymen, referred to by Dr. Carlyle, 
who abstained from attendance in the theatre ; but 
Dr. Carlyle states that they regretted not taking the 
opportunity of witnessing a display of her talent, and 
of giving their sanction to the theatre as a place of 
recreation. Dr. Carlyle evidently considered it a 
narrow-minded intolerance and bigoted fanaticism 
that clergymen should be excluded from that amuse 
ment. At a period far later than 1784, the same 
opinion prevailed in some quarters. I recollect when 
such indulgence on the part of clergymen was treated 
with much leniency, especially for Episcopalian clergy, 
I do not mean to say that there was anything like a 
general feeling in favour of clerical theatrical attend 
ance ; but there can be no question of a feeling far 
less strict than what exists in our own time. As I 



THE SHEPHERD 
From a water-colour drawing fy 

HENRY W. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., R.S.H-. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER 93 

have said, thirty-six years ago some clergymen went 
to the theatre ; and a few years before that, when my 
brothers and I were passing through Edinburgh, in 
going backwards and forwards to school, at Durham, 
with our tutor, a licentiate of the Established Church 
of Scotland, and who afterwards attained considerable 
eminence in the Free Church, we certainly went with 
him to the theatre there, and at Durham very fre 
quently. I feel quite assured, however, that no clergy 
man could expect to retain the respect of his people 
or of the public, of whom it was known that he fre 
quently or habitually attended theatrical representa 
tions. It is so understood. I had opportunities of 
conversing with the late Mr. Murray of the Theatre 
Royal, Edinburgh, and with Mr. Charles Kean, on the 
subject. Both admitted the fact, and certainly if any 
men of the profession could have removed the feeling 
from the public mind, these were the men to have 
done it. 

There is a phase of religious observances which has 
undergone a great change amongst us within fifty 
years I mean the services and circumstances con 
nected with the administration of the Holy Commu 
nion. When these occurred in a parish they were 
called " occasions/ and the great interest excited by 
these sacramental solemnities may be gathered from 
" Peter s Letters," " The Annals of the Parish," and 
Burns "Holy Fair." Such ceremonials are now con 
ducted, I believe, just as the ordinary church services. 
Some years back they were considered a sort of preach 
ing matches. Ministers vied with each other in order 
to bear away the bell in popularity, and hearers em 
braced the opportunity of exhibiting to one another 
their powers of criticism on what they heard and saw. 
In the parish of Urr in Galloway, on one sacra- 



94 EEMINISCENOES OF 

mental occasion, some of the assistants invited were 
eminent ministers in Edinburgh; Dr. Scot of St. 
Michael s, Dumfries, was the only local one who was 
asked, and he was, in his own sphere, very popular as 
a preacher. A brother clergyman, complimenting 
him upon the honour of being so invited, the old 
bald-headed divine modestly replied, " Gude bless you, 
man, what can I do ] They are a han wailed * this 
time ; I need never show face among them." " Ye re 
quite mista en," was the soothing encouragement ; 
" tak your Resurrection (a well-known sermon used for 
such occasions by him), an I ll lay my lug ye ll beat 
every clute o them." The Doctor did as suggested, 
and exerted himself to the utmost, and it appears he 
did not exert himself in vain. A batch of old women, 
on their way home after the conclusion of the services, 
were overheard discussing the merits of the several 
preachers who had that day addressed them from the 
tent. " Leeze me abune them a j ," said one of the 
company, who had waxed warm in the discussion, 
" for yon auld clear-headed (bald) man, that said, 
Kaphael sings an Gabriel strikes his goolden harp, 
an a the angels clap their wings wi joy/ but it 
was gran , it just put me in min o our geese at Dun- 
jarg when they turn their nebs to the south an clap 
their wings when they see the rain s comin after lang 
drooth." 

There is a subject closely allied with the religious 
feelings of a people, and that is the subject of their 
superstitions. To enter upon that question, in a general 
view, especially in reference to the Highlands, would 
not be consistent with our present purpose, but I am 
induced to mention the existence of a singular super 
stition regarding swine which existed some years ago 

* Carefully selected. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 96 

among the lower orders of the east coast of Fife. I 
can observe, in my own experience, a great change to 
have taken place amongst Scotch people generally on 
this subject. The old aversion to the " unclean ani 
mal " still lingers in the Highlands, but seems in the 
Lowland districts to have yielded to a sense of its 
thrift and usefulness.* The account given by my 
correspondent of the Fife swinophobia is as follows : 
Among the many superstitious notions and customs 
prevalent among the lower orders of the fishing towns 
on the east coast of Fife, till very recently, that class 
entertained a great horror of swine, and even at the 
very mention of the word. If that animal crossed 
their path when about to set out on a sea voyage, they 
considered it so unlucky an omen that they would not 
venture off. A clergyman of one of these fishing 
villages having mentioned the superstition to a clerical 
friend, and finding that he was rather incredulous on 
the subject, in order to convince him told him he 
would allow him an opportunity of testing the truth 
of it by allowing him to preach for him the following 
day. It was arranged that his friend was to read the 
chapter relating to the herd of swine into which the 
evil spirits were cast. Accordingly, when the first 
verse was read, in which the unclean beast was men 
tioned, a slight commotion was observable among the 
audience, each one of them putting his or her hand 
on any near piece of iron a nail on the seat or book- 
board, or to the nails on their shoes. At the repeti 
tion of the word again and again, more commotion 
was visible, and the words " cauld airn" (cold iron) 
the antidote to this baneful spell, were heard issuing 

* I recollect an old Scottish gentleman, who shared this horror, 
asking very gravely, " Were not swine forbidden under the law 
and cursed under the gospel ? " 



96 REMINISCENCE* OF 

from various corners of the church. And finally, on 
his coming over the hated word again, when the whole 
herd ran violently down the bank into the sea, the 
alarmed parishioners, irritated beyond bounds, rose 
and all left the church in a body. 

It is some time now, however, since the High 
landers have begun to appreciate the thrift and com 
fort of swine-keeping and swine-killing. A Scottish 
minister had been persuaded by the laird to keep a 
pig, and the gudewife had been duly instructed in the 
mysteries of black puddings, pork chops, and pig s 
head. " Oh !" said the minister, " nae doubt there s 
a hantle o miscellawneous eating aboot a pig." 

Amongst a people so deeply impressed with the 
great truths of religion, and so earnest in their reli 
gious profession, any persons whose principles were 
known to be of an infidel character would naturally 
be looked on with abhorrence and suspicion. There 
is a story traditionary in Edinburgh regarding David 
Hume, which illustrates this feeling in a very amus 
ing manner, and which, I have heard it said, Hume 
himself often narrated. The philosopher had fallen 
from the path into the swamp at the back of the 
Castle, the existence of which I recollect hearing of 
from old persons forty years ago. He fairly stuck 
fast, and called to a woman who was passing, and 
begged her assistance. She passed on apparently 
without attending to the request ; at his earnest en 
treaty, however, she came where he was, and asked 
him, " Are na ye Hume the Atheist ? " " Well, well, 
no matter," said Hume ; " Christian charity commands 
you to do good to every one." " Christian charity 
here, or Christian charity there," replied the woman. 
" I ll do naething for you till ye turn a Christian 
yoursell ye maun repeat the Lord s Prayer and the 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. Vf 

Creed, or faith I ll let ye grafel * there as I fand ye." 
The historian, really afraid for his life, rehearsed the 
required formulas. 

Notwithstanding the high character borne for so 
many years by our countrymen as a people, and as 
specially attentive to all religious observances, still 
there can be no doubt that there has sprung up 
amongst the inhabitants of our crowded cities, wynds, 
and closes, a class of persons quite unknown in the 
old Scottish times. It is a great difficulty to get them 
to attend divine worship at all, and their circumstances 
combine to break off all associations with public services. 
Their going to church becomes a matter of persuasion 
and of missionary labour. 

A lady, who is most active in visiting the houses 
of these outcasts from the means of grace, gives me 
an amusing instance of self-complacency arising from 
performance of the duty. She was visiting in the 
West Port, not far from the church established by my 
illustrious friend the late Dr. Chalmers. Having asked 
a poor woman if she ever attended there for divine 
service "Ou ay," she replied ; "there s a man ca d 
Chalmers preaches there, and I whiles gang in and 
hear him, just to encourage him, puir body ! ! 

From the religious opinions of a people, the transi 
tion is natural to their political partialities. One great 
political change has passed over Scotland, which none 
now living can be said to have actually witnessed; 
but they remember those who were contemporaries of 
the anxious scenes of 45, and many of us have known 
determined and thorough Jacobites. The poetry of 
that political period still remains, but we hear only as 
pleasant songs those words and melodies which stirred 
the hearts and excited the deep enthusiasm of a past 

* Lie in a grovelling attitude. See Janneson. 



tfg REMINISCENCES OF 

generation. Jacobite anecdotes also are fading from 
our knowledge. To many young persons they are 
unknown. Of these stories illustrative of Jacobite 
feelings and enthusiasm, many are of a character not 
fit for me to record. The good old ladies who were 
violent partisans of the Stuarts had little hesitation 
in referring without reserve to the future and eternal 
destiny of William of Orange. One anecdote which I 
had from a near relative of the family may be ad 
duced in illustration of the powerful hold which the 
cause had upon the views and consciences of Jacobites. 

A former Mr. Stirling of Keir had favoured the 
Stuart cause, and had in fact attended a muster of 
forces at the Brig of Turk previous to the 15. This 
symptom of a rising against the Government occasioned 
some uneasiness, and the authorities were very active 
in their endeavours to discover who were the leaders 
of the movement. Keir was suspected. The miller 
of Keir was brought forward as a witness, and swore 
positively that the laird was not present. Now, as it 
was well known that he was there, and that the miller 
knew it, a neighbour asked him privately, when he 
came out of the witness-box, how he could on oath 
assert such a falsehood. The miller replied, quite un 
daunted, and with a feeling of confidence in the right 
eousness of his cause approaching the sublime "I 
would rather trust my soul in God s mercy than Keir s 
head into their hands." 

A correspondent has sent me an account of a curious 
ebullition of Jacobite feeling and enthusiasm, now I 
suppose quite extinct. My correspondent received it 
himself from Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon, and 
he had entered it in a commonplace-book when he 
heard it, in 1826. 

" David Tulloch, tenant in Drumbenan, under the 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. OD 

second and third Dukes of Gordon, had been * out in 
the 45 or the fuj teen, or both and was a great 
favourite of his respective landlords. One day, hav 
ing attended the young Lady Susan Gordon (after 
wards Duchess of Manchester) to the Chapel at 
Himtly, David, perceiving that her ladyship had 
neither hassock nor carpet to protect her garments 
from the earthen floor, respectfully spread his plaid 
for the young lady to kneel upon, and the service pro 
ceeded ; but when the prayer for the King and Royal 
Family was commenced, David, sans cerfanonie, drew, 
or rather twitched, the plaid from under the knees 
of the astonished young lady, exclaiming, not sotto 
voce, * The deil a ane shall pray for them on my plaid ! 

I have a still more pungent demonstration against 
praying for the king, which a friend in Aberdeen as 
sures me he received from the son of the gentleman 
who heard the protest. In the Episcopal Chapel in 
Aberdeen, of which Primus John Skinner was incum 
bent, they commenced praying in the service for 
George III. immediately on the death of Prince 
Charles Edward. On the first Sunday of the prayer 
being used, this gentleman s father, walking home 
with a friend whom he knew to be an old and deter 
mined Jacobite, said to him, " What do you think of 

that, Mr. ?" The reply was, "Indeed, the less 

we say aboot that prayer the better." But he was 
pushed for " further answer as to his own views and 
his own ideas on the matter," so he came out with 
the declaration, " Weel, then, I say this they may 
pray the kenees* aff their breeks afore I join in that 
prayer." 

The following is a characteristic Jacobite story. It 
must have happened shortly after 1745, when all 

* So pronounced in Aberdeen. 



100 REMINISCENCES OF 

manner of devices were fallen upon to display Jaco- 
bitism, without committing the safety of the Jacobite, 
such as having white knots on gowns ; drinking, " The 
king, ye ken wha I mean ;" uttering the toast "The 
king," with much apparent loyalty, and passing the 
glass over the water-jug, indicating the esoteric mean 
ing of majesty beyond the sea, etc. etc. ; and various 
toasts, which were most important matters in those 
times, and were often given as tests of loyalty, or the 
reverse, according to the company in which they were 
given. Miss Carnegy of Craigo, well known and still 
remembered amongst the old Montrose ladies as an 
uncompromising Jacobite, had been vowing that she 
would drink King James and his son in a company 
of staunch Brunswickers, and being strongly dis 
suaded from any such foolish and dangerous attempt 
by some of her friends present, she answered them 
with a text of Scripture, " The tongue no man can 
tame James Third and Aucht" and drank off her 
glass !* 

* Implying that there was a James Third of England, Eighth 
of Scotland, 



SCOTTISH LIFE d- CHARACTER 101 



CHAPTER THE THIRD. 

ON OLD SCOTTISH CONVIVIALITY. 

THE next change in manners which has been effected, 
in the memory of many now living, regards the habits 
of conviviality, or, to speak more plainly, regards the 
banishment of drunkenness from polite society. It is 
indeed a most important and blessed change. But it 
is a change the full extent of which many persons 
now alive can hardly estimate. Indeed, it is scarcely 
possible to realise the scenes which took place seventy 
or eighty years back, or even less. In many houses, 
when a party dined, the ladies going away was the 
signal for the commencement of a system of compulsory 
conviviality. No one was allowed to shirk no day 
light no heeltaps was the wretched jargon in which 
were expressed the propriety and the duty of seeing 
that the glass, when filled, must be emptied and 
drained. We have heard of glasses having the 
bottoms knocked off, so that no shuffling tricks might 
be played with them, and that they could only be put 
down empty. 

One cannot help looking back with amazement at 
the infatuation which could for a moment tolerate 
such a sore evil. To a man of sober inclinations it 
must have been an intolerable nuisance to join a 
dinner party at many houses, where he knew he should 
have to witness the most disgusting excesses in others, 

o 



102 REMINISCENCES OF 

and to fight hard to preserve himself from a compliance 
with the example of those around him. 

The scenes of excess which] occurred in the houses 
where deep drinking was practised must have been 
most revolting to sober persons who were unaccustomed 
to such conviviality; as in the case of a drinking Angus 
laird, entertaining as his guest a London merchant 
of formal manners and temperate habits. The poor 
man was driven from the table when the drinking set 
in hard, and stole away to take refuge in his bedroom. 
The company, however, were determined not to let 
the worthy citizen off so easily, but proceeded in a 
body, with the laird at their head, and invaded his 
privacy by exhibiting bottles and glasses at his bed 
side. Losing all patience, the wretched victim gasped 
out his indignation "Sir, your hospitality borders 
upon brutality." It must have had a fatal influence also 
on many persons to whom drinking was most injuri 
ous, and who were yet not strong-minded enough to 
resist the temptations to excess. Poor James Boswell, 
who certainly required no extraordinary urging to 
take a glass too much, is found in his letters, which 
have recently come to light, laying the blame of his 
excesses to " falling into a habit which still prevails in 
Scotland ; and then he remarks, with censorious 
emphasis, on the " drunken manners of his country 
men." This was about 1770. 

A friend of mine, however, lately departed Mr. 
Boswell of Balmuto showed more spirit than the 
Londoner, when he found himself in a similar situation. 
Challenged by the host to drink, urged and almost 
forced to swallow a quantity of wine against his own 
inclination, he proposed a counter-challenge in the way 
of eating, and made the following ludicrous arid 
original proposal to the company, that two or three 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fr CHARACTER. 108 

legs of mutton should be prepared, and he would then 
contest the point of who could devour most meat ; 
and certainly it seems as reasonable to compel people to 
eat, as to compel them to drink, beyond the natural 
cravings of nature. 

The situation of ladies, too, must frequently have 
been very disagreeable- -when, for instance, gentlemen 
came up stairs in a condition most unfit for female 
society. Indeed they were often compelled to fly 
from scenes which were most unfitting for them to 
witness. They were expected to get out of the way at 
the proper time, or when a hint was given them to do 
so. At Glasgow sixty years ago, when the time had 
come for the bowl to be introduced, some jovial and 
thirsty members of the company proposed as a toast, 
" The trade of Glasgow and the outward bound ! The 
hint was taken, and silks and satins moved off to the 
drawing-room. 

In my part of the country the traditionary stories 
of drinking prowess are quite marvellous. On Deeside 
there flourished a certain Saunders Paul (whom I re 
member an old man), an innkeeper at Banchory. He 
was said to have drunk whisky, glass for glass, to the 
claret of Mr. Maule and the Laird of Skene for a 
whole evening ; and in those days there was a tradi 
tional story of his despatching, at one sitting, in com 
pany with a character celebrated for conviviality 
one of the men employed to float rafts of timber 
down the Dee three dozen of porter. Of this Mr. 
Paul it was recorded, that on being asked if he con 
sidered porter as a wholesome beverage, he replied, 
" Oh yes, if you don t take above a dozen." Saunders 
Paul was, as I have said, the innkeeper at Banchory 
his friend and porter companion was drowned in the 
Dee, and when told that the body had been found 



104 REMINISCENCES OF 

down the stream below Crathes, he coolly remarked, 
" I am surprised at that, for I never kenn d him pass 
the inn before without comin in for a glass." 

Some relatives of mine travelling in the Highlands 
were amused by observing in a small road-side public- 
house a party drinking, whose apparatus for convivi 
ality called forth the dry quaint humour which is so 
thoroughly Scottish. Three drovers had met together, 
and were celebrating their meeting by a liberal con 
sumption of whisky ; the inn could only furnish one 
glass without a bottom, and this the party passed on 
from one to another. A queer-looking pawky chield, 
whenever the glass came to his turn, remarked most 
gravely, "I think we wadna be the waur o some 
water," taking care, however, never to add any of the 
simple element, but quietly drank off his glass. 

There was a sort of infatuation in the supposed 
dignity and manliness attached to powers of deep pota 
tion, and the fatal effects of drinking were spoken of 
in a manner both reckless and unfeeling. Thus, I 
have been assured that a well-known old laird of the 
old school expressed himself with great indignation at 
the charge brought against hard drinking that it had 
actually killed people. " Na, na, I never knew ony- 
body killed wi drinking, but I hae kenn d some that 
dee d in the training." A positive eclat was attached 
to the accomplished and well-trained consumer of 
claret or of whisky toddy, which gave an importance 
and even merit to the practice of drinking, and which 
had a most injurious effect. I am afraid some of the 
Pleydells of the old school would have looked with 
the most ineffable contempt on the degeneracy of the 
present generation in this respect, and that the tem 
perance movement would be little short of insanity in 
their eyes ; and this leads me to a remark. In con- 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. I OS 

sidering this portion of the subject, we should bear in 
mind a distinction. The change we now speak of 
involves more than a mere change of a custom or 
practice in social life. It is a change in men s sen 
timents and feelings on a certain great question of 
morals. Except we enter into this distinction we can 
not appreciate the extent of the change which has 
really taken place in regard to intemperate habits. 

I have an anecdote from a descendant of Principal 
Robertson, of an address made to him, which showed 
the real importance attached to all that concerned the 
system of drinking in his time. The Principal had 
been invited to spend some days in a country-house, 
and the minister of the parish (a jovial character) had 
been asked to meet him. Before dinner he went up 
to Dr. Robertson and addressed him confidentially 
" Doctor, I understand ye are a brother of my gude 
freend Peter Robertson of Edinburgh, therefore I ll gie 
you a piece of advice, Bend * weel to the Madeira at 
dinner, for here ye ll get little o t after." I have 
known persons who held that a man who could not 
drink must have a degree of feebleness and imbecility 
of character. But as this is an important point, I 
will adduce the higher authority of Lord Cockburn, 
and quote from him two examples, very different cer 
tainly in their nature, but both bearing upon the 
question. I refer to what he says of Lord Hermand : 
" With Hermand drinking was a virtue ; he had a 
sincere respect for drinking, indeed a high moral 
approbation, and a serious compassion for the poor 
wretches who could not indulge in it, and with due 
contempt of those who could but did not ;" and, 
secondly, I refer to Lord Cockburn s pages for an 
anecdote which illustrates the perverted feeling I 

* Old Scotch for "drink liard." 



10:5 REMINISCENCES OF 

refer to, now happily no longer existing. It relates 
the opinion expressed by an old drunken writer of 
Selkirk (whose name is not mentioned) regarding his 
anticipation of professional success for Mr. Cranstoun, 
afterwards Lord Corehouse. Sir Walter Scott, William 
Erskine, and Cranstoun, had dined with this Selkirk 
writer, and Scott of hardy, strong, and healthy frame 
had matched the writer himself in the matter of 
whisky punch. Poor Cranstoun, of refined and deli 
cate mental and bodily temperament, was a bad hand 
at such work, and was soon off the field. On the 
party breaking up, the Selkirk writer expressed his 
admiration of Scott, assuring him that he would rise 
high in the profession, and adding : " I ll tell ye what, 
Maister Walter, that lad Cranstoun may get to the 
tap o the bar, if he can ; but tak my word for t, it s 
no be by drinking." 

There was a sort of dogged tone of apology for 
excess in drinking, which marked the hold which the 
practice had gained on ordinary minds. Of this we 
have a remarkable example in the unwilling testi 
mony of a witness who was examined as to the fact 
of drunkenness being charged against a minister. The 
person examined was beadle, or one of the church 
officials. He was asked, "Did you ever see the 
minister the worse of drink ? " "I canna say I ve seen 
him the waur o drink, but nae doubt I ve seen him 
the letter o t," was the evasive answer. The question, 
however, was pushed further; and when he was 
urged to say if this state of being " the better for 
drink " ever extended to a condition of absolute 
helpless intoxication, the reply was : Indeed, afore 
that cam , I was blind fou mysel , and I could see 
naething." 

A legal friend has told me of a celebrated circuit 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 107 

where Lord Hermand was judge, and Clephane depute- 
advocate. The party got drunk at Ayr, and so con 
tinued (although quite able for their work) till the 
business was concluded at Jedburgh. Some years 
after, my informant heard that this circuit had, at 
Jedburgh, acquired the permanent name of the "daft 
circuit. 

Lord Cockburn was fond of describing a circuit scene 
at Stirling, in his early days at the bar, under the pre 
sidency of his friend and connection Lord Hermand. 
After the circuit dinner, and when drinking had gone 
on for some time, young Cockburn observed places 
becoming vacant in the social circle, but no one going 
out at the door. He found that the individuals had 
dropped down under the table. He took the hint, and 
by this ruse retired from the scene. He lay quiet till 
the beams of the morning sun penetrated the apart 
ment. The judge and some of his staunch friends 
coolly walked up stairs, washed their hands and faces, 
came down to breakfast, and went into court quite 
fresh and fit for work. 

The feeling of importance frequently attached to 
powers of drinking was formally attested by a well- 
known western baronet of convivial habits and 
convivial memory. He was desirous of bearing 
testimony to the probity, honour, and other high 
moral qualities of -a friend whom he wished to 
commend. Having fully stated these claims to con 
sideration and respect, he deemed it proper to notice 
also his convivial attainments : he added accordingly, 
with cautious approval on so important a point " And 
he is a fair drinker."* 

* A friend learned in Scottish history suggests an ingenious 
remark, that this might mean more than a mere full drinker. To 
drink " fair," used to imply that the person drank in the same 



108 REMINISCENCES OF 

The following anecdote is an amusing example of 
Scottish servant humour and acuteness in measuring 
the extent of consumption by a convivial party in 
Forfarshire. The party had met at a farmer s house 
not far from Arbroath, to celebrate the reconciliation 
of two neighbouring farmers who had long been at 
enmity, The host was pressing and hospitable ; the 
party sat late, and consumed a vast amount of whisky 
toddy. The wife was penurious, and grudged the 
outlay. When at last, at a morning hour, the party 
dispersed, the lady, who had not slept in her anxiety, 
looked over the stairs and eagerly asked the servant 
girl, " How many bottles of whisky have they used, 
Betty 1 The lass, who had not to pay for the whisky, 
but had been obliged to go to the well to fetch the 
water for the toddy, coolly answered, " I dinna ken, 
mem, but they ve drucken sax gang o j water." 

We cannot imagine a better illustration of the 
general habits that prevailed in Scottish society in re 
gard to drinking about the time we speak of than one 
which occurs in the recently-published " Memoirs of a 
Banking House," that of the late Sir William Forbes, 
Bart, of Pitsligo. The book comprises much that is 
interesting to the family, and to Scotchmen. It con 
tains a pregnant hint as to the manners of polite 
society and business habits in those days. Of John 
Coutts, one of four brothers connected with the house, 
Sir William records how he was " more correct in his 
conduct than the others ; so much so, that Sir William 
never but once saw him in the counting-house disguised 
with liquor, and incapable of transacting business." 

proportion as the company ; to drink more would be unmannerly ; 
to drink less might imply some unfair motive. Either inter 
pretation shows the importance attached to drinking and all that 
concerned it. 



THE GRAVEDIGGER 
From a -uater-colour drawing by 

HENRY IV. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., R.S.1T. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 109 

Iii the Highlands this sort of feeling extended to 
an almost incredible extent, even so much as to ob 
scure the moral and religious sentiments. Of this a 
striking proof was afforded in a circumstance which 
took place in my own church soon after I came into 
it. One of our Gaelic clergy had so far forgotten 
himself as to appear in the church somewhat the 
worse of liquor. This having happened so often as to 
come to the ears of the bishop, he suspended him from 
the performance of divine service. Against this de 
cision the people were a little disposed to rebel, be 
cause, according to their Highland notions, "a gentle 
man was no the waur for being able to tak a gude 
glass o whisky." These were the notions of a people 
in whose eyes the power of swallowing whisky con 
ferred distinction, and with whom inability to take 
the fitting quantity was a mark of a mean and futile 
character. Sad to tell, the funeral rites of Highland 
chieftains were not supposed to have been duly cele 
brated except there was an immoderate and often 
fatal consumption of whisky. It has been related that 
at the last funeral in the Highlands, conducted ac 
cording to the traditions of the olden times, several 
of the guests fell victims to the usage, and actually 
died of the excesses. 

This phase of old and happily almost obsolete Scot 
tish intemperance at funeral solemnities must have 
been peculiarly revolting. Instances of this horrid 
practice being carried to a great extent are tradition 
ary in every part of the country. I am assured of 
the truth of the following anecdote by a son of the 
gentleman who acted as chief mourner on the occa 
sion : About seventy years ago an old maiden lady 
died in Strathspey. Just previous to her death she 
sent for her grand-nephew, and said to him, " Willy, 



110 REMINISCENCES OF 

I m deein*, and as ye ll hae the charge o a I have, 
mind now that as much whisky is to be used at my 
funeral as there was at my baptism." Willy neglected 
to ask the old lady what the quantity of whisky used 
at the baptism was, but when the day of the funeral 
arrived believed her orders would be best fulfilled by 
allowing each guest to drink as much as he pleased. 
The churchyard where the body was to be deposited 
was about ten miles distant from where the death 
occurred. It was a short day in November, and when 
the funeral party came to the churchyard the shades 
of night had considerably closed in. The grave-digger, 
whose patience had been exhausted in waiting, was 

not in the least willing to accept of Captain G s 

(the chief mourner) apology for delay. After looking 
about him he put the anxious question, " But, Captain, 
whaur s Miss Ketty ]" The reply was, " In her coffin, 
to be sure, and get it into the earth as fast as you 
can." There, however, was no coffin ; the procession 
had sojourned at a country inn by the way had 
rested the body on a dyke started without it and 
had to postpone the interment until next day. My 
correspondent very justly adds the remark, " What 
would be thought of indulgence in drinking habits 
now that could lead to such a result 1" 

Many scenes of a similar incongruous character are 
still traditionally connected with such occasions. 
Within the last thirty years, a laird of Dundonald, a 
small estate in Eoss-shire, died at Inverness. There 
was open house for some days, and great eating and 
drinking. Here the corpse commenced its progress 
toward its appointed home on the coast, and people 
followed in multitudes to give it a partial convoy, 
all of whom had to be entertained. It took altogether 
a fortnight to bury poor Dundonald, and great expense 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. Ill 

must have been incurred. This, however, is looked 
back to at Inverness as the last of the real grand old 
Highland funerals. Such notions of what is due to 
the memory of the departed have now become unusual 
if not obsolete. I myself witnessed the first decided 
change in this matter. I officiated at the funeral of 
the late Duke of Sutherland. The procession was a 
mile long. Eefreshments were provided for 7000 
persons ; beef, bread, and beer ; but not one glass of 
whisky was allowed on the property that day ! 

It may, perhaps, be said that the change we speak 
of is not peculiar to Scotland ; that in England the 
same change has been apparent ; and that drunkenness 
has passed away in the higher circles, as a matter of 
course, as refinement and taste made an advancement 
in society. This is true. But there were some 
features of the question which were peculiar to Scot 
land, and which at one time rendered it less probable 
that intemperance would give way in the north. It 
seemed in some quarters to have taken deeper root 
amongst us. The system of pressing, or of compelling, 
guests to drink seemed more inveterate. Nothing 
can more powerfully illustrate the deep-rooted cha 
racter of intemperate habits in families than an anec 
dote which was related to me, as coming from the late 
Mr. Mackenzie, author of the Man of Feeling. He 
had been involved in a regular drinking party. He 
was keeping as free from the usual excesses as he was 
able, and as he marked companions around him falling 
victims to the power of drink, % he himself dropped off 
under the table among the slain, as a measure of pre 
caution ; and lying there, his attention was called to a 
small pair of hands working at his throat ; on asking 
what it was, a voice replied, " Sir, I m the lad that s 
to lowse the neckcloths." Here, then, was a family, 



112 REMINISCENCES OF 

where, on drinking occasions, it was the appointed 
duty of one of the household to attend, and, when the 
guests were becoming helpless, to untie their cravats 
in fear of apoplexy or suffocation.* We ought cer 
tainly to be grateful for the change which has taken 
place from such a system ; for this change has made 
a great revolution in Scottish social life. The charm 
and the romance long attached in the minds of some 
of our countrymen to the whole system and concerns 
of hard drinking was indeed most lamentable and ab 
surd. At tavern suppers, where, nine times out often, 
it was the express object of those who went to get 
drunk, such stuff as " regal purple stream," " rosy 
wine/ " quaffing the goblet," " bright sparkling nec 
tar, 5 " chasing the rosy hours," and so on, tended to 
keep up the delusion, and make it a monstrous fine 
thing for men to sit up drinking half the night, to 
have frightful headaches all next day, to make maudlin 
idiots of themselves as they were going home, and to 
become brutes amongst their family when they ar 
rived. And here I may introduce the mention of a 
practice connected with the convivial habits of which 
we have been speaking, but which has for some time 
passed away, at least from private tables I mean the 
absurd system of calling for toasts and sentiments 
each time the glasses were filled. During dinner not 
a drop could be touched, except in conjunction with 
others, and with each drinking to the health of each. 
But toasts came after dinner. I can just remember 
the practice in partial operation ; and my astonish- 

* In Burt s Letters from the North of Scotland, written about 
1730, similar scenes are related as occurring in Culloden House : 
as the company were disabled by drink, two servants in waiting 
took up the invalids with short poles in their chairs as they sat 
(if not fallen down), and carried them off to their beds. 



SCOTTISH LIVE & CHARACTER. 113 

ment as a mere boy, when accidentally dining at table 
and hearing my mother called upon to " give the com 
pany a gentleman," is one of my earliest reminiscences. 
Lord Cockburn must have remembered them well, 
and I will quote his most amusing account of the 
effects : " After dinner, and before the ladies retired, 
there generally began what was called * Rounds of 
toasts, when each gentleman named an absent lady, 
and each lady an absent gentleman, separately ; or 
one person was required to give an absent lady, and 
another person was required to match a gentleman 
with that lady, and the persons named were toasted, 
generally, with allusions and jokes about the fitness 
of the union. And, worst of all, there were i Senti 
ments/ These were short epigrammatic sentences, 
expressive of moral feelings and virtues, and were 
thought refined and elegant productions. A faint 
conception of their nauseousness may be formed from 
the folio wing examples, every one of which I have heard 
given a thousand times, and which indeed I only re 
collect from their being favourites. The glasses being 
filled, a person was asked for his or for her sentiment, 
when this, or something similar, was committed : 
May the pleasures of the evening bear the reflections 
of the morning ; or, i may the friends of our youth 
be the companions of our old age ; or, l delicate plea 
sures to susceptible minds -, l may the honest heart 
never feel distress ; may the hand of charity wipe 
the tear from the eye of sorrow. The conceited, the 
ready, or the reckless, hackneyed in the art, had a 
knack of making new sentiments applicable to the 
passing incidents with great ease. But it was a 
dreadful oppression on the timid or the awkward. 
They used to shudder, ladies particularly ; for nobody 
was spared when their turn in the round approached. 



114 REMINISCENCES OF 

Many a struggle and blush did it cost ; but this seemed 
only to excite the tyranny of the masters of the craft ; 
and compliance could never be avoided, except by 
more torture than yielding. . . . It is difficult 
for those who have been under a more natural system 
to comprehend how a sensible man, a respectable 
matron, a worthy old maid, and especially a girl, 
could be expected to go into company easily, on such 
conditions." * 

This accompaniment of domestic drinking by a 
toast or sentiment the practice of which is now con 
fined to public entertainments was then invariable 
in private parties, and was supposed to enliven and 
promote! the good fellowship of the social circle. 
Thus Fergusson, in one of his poems, in describing a 
dinner, says 

" The grace is said ; it s nae ower lang, 
The claret reams in "bells. 
Quo Deacon, * Let the toast round gang ; 
Come, here s our noble sels 
Weelmettheday. " 

There was a great variety of these toasts, some of 
them exclusively Scottish. A correspondent has 
favoured me with a few reminiscences of such incen 
tives to inebriety. 

The ordinary form of drinking a health was in the 
address, " Here s t ye." 

Then such as the following were named by succes 
sive members of the company at the call of the 
host : 

The land o 1 cakes (Scotland). 
Mair freens and less need o them. 
Thumping luck and fat weans. 

* Lord Cockburn s Memorials of Ms Time, p. 37, d seq. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 116 



/u 



Jllien we re gaun up the hill o fortune may we ne er 

meet a freen coming doun. 
May ne er waur be amang us. 
May the hinges o freendship never rust, or the wings o 

luve lose a feather. 

Here s to them that lo es us, or lenns us a lift. 
Here s health to the sick, stilts to the lame ; daise to 

the back, and brose to the wame. 
Here s health, wealth, wit, and meal 
The deil rock them in a creel that does na wish us a 9 

weel. 

Horny hands and weather-beaten Jiaffets (cheeks). 
The rending o rocks and the pu in doun o 1 auld 

houses. 

The above two belong to the mason craft ; the first 
implies a wish for plenty of work, and health to do it ; 
the second, to erect new buildings and clear away old 
ones. 

May the winds o 1 adversity ne er blaw open our door. 
May poortith ne er throw us in the dirt, or gowd into 

the high saddle* 
May the mouse ne er leave our meal-pod, wi the tear 

in its e e. 

Blythe may we a be. 
HI may we never see. 
Breeks and brochan (brose). 

May we ne er want a freend, or a dr apple to gie him. 
Gude een to you a , an tak your nappy. 
A willy-waught s a gude night cappy. f 
May we a be canty an cosy, 
An ilk hae a wife in his bosy. 

May we never be cast down by adversity, or unduly ele 
vated by prosperity. 
t A toast at parting or breaking up of the party. 



116 REMINISCENCES OF 

A cosy but, and a canty ben, 

To couthie * women and trusty men. 

The ingle neuJc ivi routM bannocks and bairns* 

Here s to him ivha winna beguile ye. 

Mair sense and mair siller. 

Horn, corn, wool, an yarn. I 

Sometimes certain toasts were accompanied by 
Highland honours. This was a very exciting, and to 
a stranger a somewhat alarming, proceeding. I re 
collect my astonishment the first time I witnessed 
the ceremony the company, from sitting quietly 
drinking their wine, seemed to assume the attitude of 
harmless maniacs, allowed to amuse themselves. The 
moment the toast was given, and proposed to be 
drunk with Highland honours, the gentlemen all 
rose, and with one foot on their chair and another 
on the table, they drank the toast with Gaelic shrieks, 
which were awful to hear, the cheering being under 
the direction of a toast-master appointed to direct the 
proceedings. I am indebted to the kindness of the 
Rev. Duncan Campbell, the esteemed minister of 
Moulin, for the form used on such occasions. Here 
it is in the Gaelic and the Saxon : 

Gaelic. Translation. 

So ! Prepare ! 

Nish ! Nish ! Now ! Now ! 

Sud ris ! Slid ris ! Yon again ! Yon again ! 

Nish ! Nish ! Now ! Now ! 
Thig ris ! Thig ris ! At it again ! At it again ! 

A on uair eile ! Another time, or one cheer more ! 

The reader is to imagine these words uttered with 
yells and vociferations, and accompanied with frantic 
gestures. 

* Loving. t Plenty. Toast for agricultural dinners. 



SCOTTTSff LIFE <l< CHARACTER. Ill 

The system of giving toasts was so regularly estab 
lished, that collections of them were published to add 
brilliancy to the festive board. By the kindness of 
the librarian, I have seen a little volume which is in 
the Signet Library of Edinburgh. It is entitled, 
"The Gentleman s New Bottle Companion," Edin 
burgh, printed in the year MDCCLXXVII. It contains 
various toasts and sentiments which the writer con 
sidered to be suitable to such occasions. Of the taste 
and decency of the companies where some of them 
could be made use of, the less said the better. 

I have heard also of large traditionary collections 
of toasts and sentiments, belonging to old clubs and 
societies, extending back above a century, but I have 
not seen any of them, and I believe my readers will 
think they have had quite enough. 

The favourable reaction which has taken place in 
regard to the whole system of intemperance may very 
fairly, in the first place, be referred to an improved 
moral feeling. But other causes have also assisted ; 
and it is curious to observe how the different changes 
in the modes of society bear upon one another. The 
alteration in the convivial habits which we are notic 
ing in our own country may be partly due to altera 
tion of hours. The old plan of early dining favoured 
a system of suppers, and after supper was a great time 
for convivial songs and sentiments. This of course 
induced drinking to a late hour. Most drinking songs 
imply the night as the season of conviviality thus 
in a popular madrigal : 

" By the gaily circling glass 
We can tell how minutes pass ; 
By the hollow cask we re told 
How the waning night grows old." 

P 



US REMINISCENCES OF 

And Burns thus marks the time : 

" It is the moon, I ken her horn, 
That s blinkiii in the lift sae hie ; 
She shines sae bright, to wyle us hame, 
But by my sooth she ll wait a wee. " 

The young people of the present (Lay have no idea 
of the state of matters in regard to the supper system 
when it was the normal condition of society. The 
late dining hours may make the social circle more 
formal, but they have been far less favourable to drink 
ing propensities. After such dinners as ours are now, 
suppers are clearly out of the question. One is as 
tonished to look back and recall the scenes to which 
were attached associations of hilarity, conviviality, and 
enjoyment. Drinking parties were protracted beyond 
the whole Sunday, having begun by a dinner on 
Saturday ; imbecility and prostrate helplessness were 
a common result of these bright and jovial scenes; 
and by what perversion of language, or by what ob 
liquity of sentiment, the notions of pleasure could be 
attached to scenes of such excess to the nausea, the 
disgust of sated appetite, and the racking headache 
it is not easy to explain. There were men of heads 
so hard, and of stomachs so insensible, that, like my 
friend Saunders Paul, they could stand anything in 
the way of drink. But to men in general, and to the 
more delicate constitutions, such a life must have been 
a cause of great misery. To a certain extent, and up 
to a certain point, wine may be a refreshment and a 
wholesome stimulant ; nay, it is a medicine, and a 
valuable one, and as such, comes recommended on 
fitting occasions by the physician. Beyond this point, 
as sanctioned and approved by nature, the use of wine 
is only degradation. Well did the sacred writer call 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 119 

wine, when thus taken in excess, "a mocker." It 
makes all men equal, because it makes them all idiotic. 
It allures them into a vicious indulgence, and then 
mocks their folly, by depriving them of any sense they 
may ever have possessed. 

It has, I fear, been injurious to the cause of tem 
perance, that emotions of true friendship, and the 
outpouring of human affections, should so frequently 
be connected with the obligation that the parties 
should get drunk together. Drunkenness is thus made 
to hold too close an association in men s minds with 
some of the best and finest feelings of their nature. 

" Friend of my soul, this goblet sip," 

is the constant acknowledged strain of poetical friend 
ship : our own Robert Burns calls upon the dear 
companion of his early happy days, with whom he 
had " paidl t i the burn, frae mornin sun till dine," 
and between whom " braid seas had roar d sin auld 
lang syne," to commemorate their union of heart and 
spirit, and to welcome their meeting after years of 
separation, by each one joining his pint-stoup, and by 
each taking a mutual " richt guid willie-waught," in 
honour of the innocent and happy times of " auld 
lang syne." David marks his recognition of friend 
ship by tokens of a different character " We took 
sweet counsel together, and walked in the house of God 
as friends." Ps. Iv. 14. 

Reference has already been made to Lord Hermand s 
opinion of drinking, and to the high estimation in 
which he held a staunch drinker, according to the 
testimony of Lord Cockburn, There is a remarkable 
corroboration of this opinion in a current anecdote 
which is traditionary regarding the same learned 
judge. A case of some great offence was tried before 



120 REMINISCENCES OF 

him, and the counsel pleaded extenuation for his client 
in that he was drunk when he committed the offence. 
"Drunk!" exclaimed Lord Hermand, in great indig 
nation; "if he could do such a thing when he was 
drunk, what might he not have done when he was 
sober I" evidently implying that the normal condition 
of human nature, and its most hopeful one, was a 
condition of intoxication. 

Of the prevalence of hard drinking in certain houses 
as a system, a remarkable proof is given at page 102. 
The following anecdote still further illustrates the 
subject, and corresponds exactly with the story of the 
" loosing the cravats," which was performed for guests 
in a state of helpless inebriety by one of the house 
hold. There had been a carousing party at Castle 
Grant, many years ago, and as the evening advanced 
towards morning two Highlanders were in attendance 
to carry the guests up stairs, it being understood that 
none could by any other means arrive at their sleep 
ing apartments. One or two of the guests, however, 
whether from their abstinence or their superior strength 
of head, were walking up stairs, and declined the 
proffered assistance. The attendants were quite as 
tonished, and indignantly exclaimed, " Agh, it s sare 
cheengecl times at Castle Grant, when shentlemens can 
gang to bed on their ain feet." 

There was a practice in many Scottish houses which 
favoured most injuriously the national tendency to 
spirit-drinking, and that was a foolish and inconsiderate 
custom of offering a glass on all occasions as a mark 
of kindness or hospitality. I mention the custom 
only for the purpose of offering a remonstrance. It 
should never be done. Even now, I am assured, small 
jobs (carpenters or blacksmiths , or such like) are 
constantly remunerated in the West Highlands of 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 121 

Scotland and doubtless in many other parts of the 
country not by a pecuniary payment, but by a dram ; 
if the said dram be taken from a speerit-dec&nter out 
of the family press or cupboard, the compliment is 
esteemed the greater, and the offering doubly valued. 

A very amusing dialogue between a landlord and his 
tenant on this question of the dram has been sent to 
me. John Colquhoun, an aged Dumbartonshire tenant, 
is asked by his laird on Lochlomond side, to stay a 
minute till he tastes. " Now, John," says the laird. 
"Only half a glass, Camstraddale," meekly pleads 
John. "Which half?" rejoins the laird, "the upper 
or the lower?" John grins, and turns off both the 
upper and Imver too. 

The upper and lower portions of the glass furnish 
another drinking anecdote. A very greedy old lady 
employed another John Colquhoun to cut the grass 
upon the lawn, and enjoined him to cut it very close, 
adding, as a reason for the injunction, that one inch 
at the bottom was worth two at the top. Having 
finished his work much to her satisfaction, the old 
lady got out the whisky-bottle and a tapering wine 
glass, which she filled about half full \ John suggested 
that it would be better to fill it up, slily adding, " Fill 
it up, mem, for it s no like the gress ; an inch at the 
tap s worth twa at the boddom." 

But the most whimsical anecdote connected with 
the subject of drink, is one traditionary in the south 
of Scotland, regarding an old Gallovidian lady dis 
claiming more drink under the following circum- 
otances : The old generation of Galloway lairds were 
a primitive and hospitable race, but their conviviality 
sometimes led to awkward occurrences. In former 
days, when roads were bad and wheeled vehicles 
almost unknown, an old laird was returning from a 



12*2 REMINISCENCES OF 

supper party, with his lady mounted behind him on 
horseback. On crossing the river Urr, at a ford at a 
point where it joins the sea, the old lady dropped off, 
but was not missed till her husband reached his door, 
when, of course, there was an immediate search made. 
The party who were despatched in quest of her arrived 
just in time to find her remonstrating with the ad 
vancing tide, which trickled into her mouth, in these 
words, " No anither drap ; neither het nor cauld." 

A lady, on one occasion, offering a dram to a por 
ter in a rather small glass, said, " Take it off ; it will 
do you no harm," on which the man, looking at the 
diminutive glass, observed, " Harm ! Na, gin it were 
poushon" (poison). 

I would now introduce, as a perfect illustration of 
this portion of our subject, two descriptions of clergy 
men, well known men in their day, which are taken 
from Dr. Carlyle s work, already referred to. Of Dr. 
Alexander Webster, a clergyman, and one of his con 
temporaries, he writes thus : " Webster, leader of the 
high-flying party, had justly obtained much respect 
amongst the clergy, and all ranks indeed, for having 
established the Widows Fund. . . . His ap 
pearance of great strictness in religion, to which he 
was bred under his father, who was a very popular 
minister of the Tolbooth Church, not acting in restraint 
of his convivial humour, he was held to be excellent 
company even by those of dissolute manners ; while, 
being a five-bottle man, he could lay them all under 
the table. This had brought on him the nickname 
of Dr. Bonum Magnum in the time of faction. But 
never being indecently the worse of liquor, and a love 
of claret, to any degree, not being reckoned in those 
days a sin in Scotland, all his excesses were pardoned." 

Dr. Patrick Gumming, also a clergyman and a con- 



SCOTTISH LIFE ,fr CHARACTER. 123 

temporary, he describes in the following terms : 
"Dr. Patrick Gumming was, at this time (1751), at 
the head of the moderate interest, and had his temper 
been equal to his talents, might have kept it long, for 
he had both learning and sagacity, and very agreeable 
conversation, with a constitution able to bear the con 
viviality of the times" 

Now, of all the anecdotes and facts which I have 
collected, or of all which I have ever heard to illus 
trate the state of Scottish society in the past times, 
as regards its habits of intemperance, this assuredly 
surpasses them all. Of two well-known, distinguished, 
and leading clergymen in the middle of the eighteenth 
century, one who had " obtained much respect," and 
" had the appearance of great strictness in religion," 
is described as an enormous drinker of claret ; the 
other, an able leader of a powerful section in the 
church, is described as owing his influence to his power 
of meeting the conviviality of the times. Suppose for 
a moment a future biographer should write in this 
strain of eminent divines, and should apply to distin 
guished members of the Scottish Church in 1863 such 

description as the following : " Dr. was a man 

who took a leading part in all church affairs at this 
time, and was much looked up to by the evangelical 
section of the General Assembly; he could always 
carry off without difficulty his five bottles of claret. 

Dr. had great influence in society, and led the 

opposite party in the General Assembly, as he could 
take his place in all companies, and drink on fair 
terms at the most convivial tables ! ! ; Why, this 
seems to us so monstrous, that we can scarcely believe 
Dr. Carlyle s account of matters in his day to be 
possible. 

There is a story which illustrates, with terrible 



124 REMINISCENCES OF 

force, the power which drinking had obtained in 
Scottish social life. I have been deterred from bring- 

o 

ing it forward, as too shocking for production. But 
as the story is pretty well known, and its truth 
vouched for on high authority, I venture to give it, as 
affording a proof that, in those days, no consideration, 
not even the most awful that affects human nature, 
could be made to outweigh the claims of a deter 
mined conviviality. It may, I think, be mentioned 
also, in the way of warning men generally against the 
hardening and demoralising effects of habitual drunken 
ness. The story is this : At a prolonged drinking 
bout, one of the party remarked, " What gars the laird 
of Garskadden look sae gash?"* " Ou," says his 
neighbour, the laird of Kilmardinny, " deil meane 
him ! Garskadden s been wi his Maker these twa 
hours ; I saw him step awa, but I didna like to dis 
turb gude company !"t 

Before closing this subject of excess in drinking, I 
may refer to another indulgence in which our country 
men are generally supposed to partake more largely 
than their neighbours : I mean snuff-taking. The 
popular southern ideas of a Scotchman and his snuff 
box are inseparable. Smoking does not appear to 
have been practised more in Scotland than in Eng 
land, and if Scotchmen are sometimes intemperate in 
the use of snuff, it is certainly a more innocent excess 
than intemperance in whisky. I recollect, amongst the 
common people in the north, a mode of taking snuf! 
which showed a determination to make the most of it, 
and which indicated somewhat of intemperance in the 
enjoyment ; this was to receive it not through a pinch 

* Ghastly. 

t The scene is described and place mentioned in Dr. Strang e 
account of Glasgow Clubs, p. 104, 2d edit. 



THK SNUFFER 
From a water-colour drawing by 

HENRY Jl\ A AVv A , 
A.K.S.^., R.S.iT. 





1 





SCOTTISH LTFE & CHARACTER. 125 

between the fingers, but through a quill or little bone 
ladle, which forced it up the nose. But, besides 
smoking and snuffing, I have a reminiscence of a third 
use of tobacco, which I apprehend is now quite obso 
lete. Some of my readers will be surprised when I 
name this forgotten luxury. It was called plugging, 
and consisted (horresco refer ens) in poking a piece of 
pig-tail tobacco right into the nostril. I remember 
this distinctly ; and now, at a distance of more than 
sixty years, I recall my utter astonishment as a boy, at 
seeing my grand-uncle, with whom I lived in early 
days, put a thin piece of tobacco fairly up his nose. 
I suppose the plug acted as a continued stimulant on 
the olfactory nerve, and was, in short, like taking a 
perpetual pinch of snuff. 

The inveterate snuff-taker, like the dram-drinker, 
felt severely the being deprived of his accustomed 
stimulant, as in the following instance : A severe 
snow-storm in the Highlands, which lasted for several 
weeks, having stopped all communication betwixt 
neighbouring hamlets, the snuff-boxes were soon re 
duced to their last pinch. Borrowing and begging 
from all the neighbours within reach were first resorted 
to, but when these failed, all were alike reduced to 
the longing which unwillingly-abstinent snuff-takers 
alone know. The minister of the parish was amongst 
the unhappy number ; the craving was so intense that 
study was out of the question, and he became quite 
restless. As a last resort the beadle was despatched, 
through the snow, to a neighbouring glen, in the hope 
of getting a supply ; but he came back as unsuccess 
ful as he went. "What s to be dune, John?" was 
the minister s pathetic inquiry. John shook his head, 
as much as to say that he could not tell ; but im 
mediately thereafter started up, as if a new idea had 



126 REMINISCENCES OF 

occurred to him. He came back in a few minutes, 
crying, "Hae!" The minister, too eager to be scru 
tinising, took a long, deep pinch, and then said, 
" Whaur did you get it ]" " I soupit* the poupit," was 
John s expressive reply. The minister s accumulated 
superfluous Sabbath snuff now came into good use. 

It does not appear that at this time a similar ex 
cess in eating accompanied this prevalent tendency to 
excess in drinking. Scottish tables were at that 
period plain and abundant, but epicurism or gluttony 
do not seem to have been handmaids to drunkenness. 
A humorous anecdote, however, of a full-eating laird, 
may well accompany those which appertain to the 
drinking lairds. A lady in the north having watched 
the proceedings of a guest, who ate long and largely, 
she ordered the servant to take away, as he had at 
last laid down his knife and fork. To her surprise, 
however, he resumed his work, and she apologised to 

him, saying, " I thought, Mr. , you had done." 

" Oh, so I had, mem ; but I just fan a doo in the redd 
o my plate." He had discovered a pigeon lurking 
amongst the bones and refuse of his plate, and could 
not resist finishing it. 

* Swept. 



SCOTTISH LIFE d- CHAMAGTElL 127 



CHAPTER THE FOURTH. 

ON THE OLD SCOTTISH DOMESTIC SERVANT. 

I COME now to a subject on which a great change 
has taken place in this country during my own ex 
perience viz. those peculiarities of intercourse which 
some years back marked the connection between 
masters and servants. In many Scottish houses a 
great familiarity prevailed between members of the 
family and the domestics. For this many reasons 
might have been assigned. Indeed, when we con 
sider the simple modes of life, which discarded the 
ideas of ceremony or etiquette ; the retired and 
uniform style of living, which afforded few oppor 
tunities for any change in the domestic arrange 
ments ; and when we add to these a free, unrestrained, 
unformal, and natural style of intercommunion, which 
seems rather a national characteristic, we need not be 
surprised to find in quiet Scottish families a sort of 
intercourse with old domestics which can hardly be 
looked for at a time when habits are so changed, and 
where much of the quiet eccentricity belonging to us 
as a national characteristic is almost necessarily soft 
ened down or driven out. Many circumstances con 
spired to promote familiarity with old domestics, 
which are now entirely changed. We take the case 
of a domestic coming early into service, and passing 
year after year in the same family. The servant 
grows up into old age and confirmed habits when the 



123 REMINISCENCES OF 

laird is becoming a man, a husband, father of a family. 
The domestic cannot forget the days when his master 
was a child, riding on his back, applying to him for 
help in difficulties about his fishing, his rabbits, his 
pony, his going to school. All the family know how 
attached he is ; nobody likes to speak harshly to him. 
He is a privileged man. The faithful old servant of 
thirty, forty, or fifty years, if with a tendency to be 
jealous, cross, and interfering, becomes a great trouble. 
Still the relative position was the result of good feel 
ings. If the familiarity sometimes became a nuisance, 
it was a wholesome nuisance, and relic of a simpler 
time gone by. But the case of the old servant, 
whether agreeable or troublesome, was often so fixed 
and established in the households of past days, that 
there was scarce a possibility of getting away from it. 
The well-known story of the answer of one of these 
domestic tyrants to the irritated master, who was 
making an effort to free himself from the thraldom, 
shows the idea entertained, by one of the parties at 
least, of the permanency of the tenure. I am assured 
by a friend that the true edition of the story was 
this : An old Mr. Erskine of Dun had one of these 
retainers, under whose language and unreasonable 
assumption he had long groaned. He had almost 
determined to bear it no longer, when, walking out 
with his man, on crossing a field, the master exclaim 
ed, " There s a hare." Andrew looked at the place, 
and coolly replied, " What a big lee, it s a cauff." The 
master, quite angry now, plainly told the old domestic 
that they must part. But the tried servant of forty 
years, not dreaming of the possibility of his dismissal, 
innocently asked, "Ay, sir; whare ye gaun ? I m 
sure ye re aye best at name ;" supposing that, if there 
were to be any disruption, it must be the master who 



SCOTTISH LIFE <6 CHARACTER. 129 

would change the place. An example of a similar 
fixedness of tenure in an old servant was afforded in 
an anecdote related of an old coachman long in the 
service of a noble lady, and who gave all the trouble 
and annoyance which he conceived were the privileges 
of his position in the family. At last the lady fairly 
gave him notice to quit, and told him he must go. 
The only satisfaction she got was the quiet answer, 
" Na, na, my lady ; I druve ye to your marriage, and 
I shall stay to drive ye to your burial. " Indeed, we 
have heard of a still stronger assertion of his official 
position by one who met an order to quit his master s 
service by the cool reply, " Na, na ; I m no gangin . 
If ye dinna ken whan ye ve a gude servant ; I ken 
whan I ve a gude place." 

It is but fair, however, to give an anecdote in which 
the master and the servant s position was reversed, in 
regard to a wish for change : An old servant of a rela 
tion of my own with an ungovernable temper, became 
at last so weary of his master s irascibility, that he 
declared he must leave, and gave as his reason the fits 
of anger which came on, and produced such great 
annoyance that he could not stand it any longer. His 
master, unwilling to lose him, tried to coax him by 
reminding him that the anger was soon off. " Ay," 
replied the other very shrewdly, " but it s nae suner aff 
than it s on again." I remember well an old servant 
of the old school, who had been fifty years domesticated 
in a family. Indeed I well remember the celebration 
of the half- century service completed. There were 
rich scenes with Sandy and his mistress. Let me 
recall you both to memory. Let me think of you, the 
kind, generous, warm-hearted mistress ; a gentlewoman 
by descent and by feeling ; a true friend, a sincere 
Christian. And let me think, too, of you, Sandy, an 



130 REMINISCENCES OF 

honest, faithful, and attached member of the family. 
For you were in that house rather as a humble friend 
than a servant. But out of this fifty years of attached 
service there sprang a sort of domestic relation and 
freedom of intercourse which would surprise people 
in these days. And yet Sandy knew his place. Like 
Corporal Trim, who, although so familiar and admitted 
to so much familiarity with my Uncle Toby, never failed 
in the respectful address never forgot to say " your 
honour." At a dinner party Sandy was very active 
about changing his mistress s plate, and whipped it off 
when he saw that she had got a piece of rich pate 
upon it. His mistress, not liking such rapid move 
ments, and at the same time knowing that remon- 
otrance was in vain, exclaimed, " Hout, Sandy, I m no 
dune," and dabbed her fork into the "pattee" as it 
disappeared, to rescue a morsel. I remember her 
praise of English mutton was a great annoyance to 
the Scottish prejudices of Sandy. One day she was 
telling me of a triumph Sandy had upon that subject. 
The smell of the joint roasting had become very 
offensive through the house. The lady called out to 
Sandy to have the doors closed, and added, " That 
must be some horrid Scotch mutton you have got." 
To Sandy s delight, this was a leg of English mutton 
his mistress had expressly chosen ; and, as she signifi 
cantly told me, " Sandy never let that down upon me." 
On Deeside there existed, in my recollection, 
besides the Saunders Paul I have alluded to, a 
number of extraordinary acute and humorous Scottish 
characters amongst the lower classes. The native 
gentry enjoyed their humour, and hence arose a fami 
liarity of intercourse which called forth many amus 
ing scenes and quaint rejoinders. A celebrated 
character of this description bore the soubriquet of 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 131 

" Boaty," of whom I have already spoken. He had 
acted as Charon of the Dee at Banchory, and passed 
the boat over the river before there was a bridge. 
Boaty had many curious sayings recorded of him. 
When speaking of the gentry around, he charac 
terised them according to their occupations and 
activity of habits thus:- -"As to Mr. Eussell of 
Blackha , he just works him sell like a paid labourer ; 
Mr. Duncan s a the day fish, fish ; but Sir Robert s 
a perfect gentleman he does naething, naething." 
Boaty was a first-rate salmon-fisher himself, and was 
much sought after by amateurs who came to Banchory 
for the sake of the sport afforded by the beautiful 
Dee. He was, perhaps, a little spoiled, and presumed 
upon the indulgence and familiarity shown to him in 
the way of his craft as, for example, he was in at 
tendance with his boat on a sportsman who was both 
skilful and successful, for he caught salmon after 
salmon. Between each fish catching he solaced himself 
with a good pull from a flask, which he returned to 
his pocket, however, without offering to let Boaty have 
any participation in the refreshment. Boaty, partly 
a little professionally jealous, perhaps, at the success, 
and partly indignant at receiving less than his usual 
attention on such occasions, and seeing no prospect 
of amendment, deliberately pulled the boat to shore, 
shouldered the oars, rods, landing-nets, and all the 
fishing apparatus which he had provided, and set off 
homewards. His companion, far from considering his 
day s work to be over, and keen for more sport, was 
amazed, and peremptorily ordered him to come back. 
But all the answer made by the offended Boaty was, 
" Na na ; them at drink by themsells may just fish 
by themsells." 

The charge these old domestics used to take of the 



132 REMINISCENCES OF 

interests of the family, and the cool way in which 
they took upon them to protect those interests, some 
times led to very provoking, and sometimes to very 
ludicrous, exhibitions of importance. A friend told 
me of a dinner scene illustrative of this sort of inter 
ference which had happened at Airth in the last 
generation. Mrs. Murray, of Abercairney, had been 
amongst the guests, and at dinner one of the family 
noticed that she was looking for the proper spoon to 
help herself with salt. The old servant, Thomas, was 
appealed to, that the want might be supplied. He 
did not notice the appeal. It was repeated in a more 
peremptory manner, " Thomas, Mrs. Murray has not 
a salt-spoon !" to which he replied most emphatically, 
" Last time Mrs. Murray dined here we lost a salt- 
spoon." An old servant who took a similar charge 
of everything that went on in the family, having 
observed that his master thought that he had drunk 
wine with every lady at table, but had overlooked 
one, jogged his memory with the question, "What 
ails ye at her wi the green gown ] 

In my own family I know a case of a very long 
service, and where, no doubt, there was much interest 
and attachment ; but it was a case where the temper 
had not softened under the influence of years, but 
had rather assumed that form of disposition which 
we denominate crusty. My grand-uncle, Sir A. Ram 
say, died in 1806, and left a domestic who had been 
in his service since he was ten years of age ; and 
being at the time of his master s death past fifty or 
well on to sixty, he must have been more than forty 
years a servant in the family. From the retired life 
my grand-uncle had been leading, Jamie Layal had 
much of his own way, and, like many a domestic so 
situated, he did not like to be contradicted, and, in 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 133 

fact, could not bear to be found fault with. My 
uncle, who had succeeded to a part of my grand- 
uncle s property, succeeded also to Jamie Layal, and, 
from respect to his late master s memory and Jamie s 
own services, he teok him into his house, intending 
him to act as house servant. However, this did not 
answer, and he was soon kept on, more with the form 
than the reality of any active duty, and took an)* 
light work that was going on about the house. In 
this capacity it was his daily task to feed a flock of 
turkeys which were growing up to maturity. On one 
occasion, my aunt having followed him in his work, 
and having observed such a waste of food that the 
ground was actually covered with grain which they 
could not eat, and which would soon be destroyed 
and lost, naturally remonstrated, and suggested a 
more reasonable and provident supply. But all the 
answer she got from the offended Jamie was a bitter 
rejoinder, " Weel, then, neist time they sail get nane 
ava ! On another occasion a family from a distance 
had called whilst my uncle and aunt were out of the 
house. Jamie came into the parlour to deliver the 
cards, or to announce that they had called. My aunt, 
somewhat vexed at not having been in the way, in 
quired what message Mr. and Mrs. Innes had left, 
as she had expected one. " No ; no message. 7 She 
returned to the charge, and asked again if they had 
not told him anything he was to repeat. Stili, " No ; 
no message/ "But did they say nothing] Are you 
sure they said nothing *? Jamie, sadly put out and 
offended at being thus interrogated, at last burst forth, 
" They neither said ba nor bum," and indignantly left 
the room, banging the door after him. A character 
istic anecdote of one of these old domestics I have 
from a friend who was acquainted with the parties 

Q 



134 REMINISCENCES OF 

concerned. The old man was standing at the side 
board and attending to the demands of a pretty large 
dinner party ; the calls made for various wants from the 
company became so numerous and frequent that the 
attendant got quite bewildered, and lost his patience 
and temper ; at length he gave vent to his indignation 
in a remonstrance addressed to the whole company, 
" Cry a thegither, that s the way to be served." 

I have two characteristic and dry Scottish answers, 
traditional in the Lothian family, supplied to me by 
the late excellent and highly-gifted Marquis. A 
Marquis of Lothian of a former generation observed 
in his walk two workmen very busy with a ladder to 
reach a bell, on which they next kept up a furious 
ringing. He asked what was the object of making 
such a din, to which the answer was, " Oh, juist, my 
lord to ca the workmen together ! " Why, how 
many are there ? asked his lordship. " Ou, juist 
Sandy and me," was the quiet rejoinder. The same 
Lord Lothian, looking about the garden, directed his 
gardener s attention to a particular plum-tree, charg 
ing him to be careful of the produce of that tree, and 
send the whole of it in marked, as it was of a very 
particular kind. " Ou," said the gardener, " I ll dae 
that, my lord ; there s juist twa o them." 

These dry answers of Newbattle servants remind 
us of a similar state of communication in a Yester 
domestic. Lord Tweeddale was very fond of dogs, 
and on leaving Yester for London he instructed his 
head keeper, a quaint bodie, to give him a periodical 
report of the kennel, and particulars of his favourite 
dogs. Among the latter was an especial one, of the 
true Skye breed, called " Pickle," from which soubri 
quet we may form a tolerable estimate of his 
qualities. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 135 

It happened one day, in or about the year 1827, 
that poor Pickle, during the absence of his master, 
was taken unwell ; and the watchful guardian imme 
diately warned the Marquis of the sad fact, and of 
the progress of the disease, which lasted three days 
for which he sent the three following laconic 
despatches : 

Tester, May 1st, 18 . 
MY LORD, 

Pickle s no weel. 

Your Lordship s humble servant, etc. 

Yester, May 2d, 18. 
MY LORD, 

Pickle will no do. 

I am your Lordship s, etc. 

Yester, May 3d, 18 . 
MY LORD, 

Pickle s dead. 

I am your Lordship s, etc. 

I have heard of an old Forfarshire lady who, know 
ing the habits of her old and spoilt servant, when she 
wished a note to be taken without loss of time, held 
it open and read it over to him, saying, " There, noo, 
Andrew, ye ken a that s in t ; noo dinna stop to open 
it, but just send it aff." Of another servant, when 
sorely tried by an unaccustomed bustle and hurry, a 
very amusing anecdote has been recorded. His 
mistress, a woman of high rank, who had been living 
in much quiet and retirement for some time, was 
called upon to entertain a large party at dinner. She 
consulted with Nichol, her faithful servant, and all 
the arrangements were made for the great event. As 
the company were arriving, the lady saw Nichol 
running about in great agitation, and in his shirt 
sleeves. She remonstrated, and said that as the 



136 REMINISCENCES OF 

gussts were coining in he must put on his coat. 
" Indeed, my lady," was his excited reply, " indeed, 
there s sae muckle rinnin here and rinnin there, that 
I m just distrackit. I hae cuist n my coat and waist 
coat, and faith I dinna ken how lang I can thole* my 
breeks." There is often a ready wit in this class of 
character, marked by their replies. I have the follow 
ing communicated from an ear- witness : " Weel, 
Peggy," said a man to an old family servant, " I 
wonder ye re aye single yet ! " Me marry," said 
she, indignantly ; " I wouldna gie my single life for 
a the double anes I ever saw ! " 

An old woman was exhorting a servant once about 
her ways. " You serve the deevil," said she. " Me !" 
said the girl ; " na, na, I dinna serve the deevil ; I 
serve ae single lady." 

A baby was out with the nurse, who walked it up 
and down the garden. " Is t a laddie or a lassie ? 
said the gardener. " A laddie," said the maid. 
" Weel," says he, I m glad o that, for there s ower 
mony women in the world." " Hech, man," said 
Jess, " div ye no ken there s aye maist sawn o the 
best crap 1 

The answers of servants used curiously to illustrate 
habits and manners of the time, as the economical 
modes of her mistress s life were well touched by the 
lass who thus described her ways and domestic habits 
w^ith her household : " She s vicious upo the wark ; 
but eh, she s vary mysterious o the victualling." 

A country habit of making the gathering of the 
congregation in the churchyard previous to and after 
divine service an occasion for gossip and business, 
which I remember well, is thoroughly described in 
the following: A lady, on hiring a servant girl in 

* Bear. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 137 

the country, told her, as a great indulgence, that she 
should have the liberty of attending the church every 
Sunday, but that she would be expected to return 
home always immediately on the conclusion of service. 
The lady, however, rather unexpectedly found a 
positive objection raised against this apparently 
reasonable arrangement. ft Then I canna engage wi 
ye, mem ; for deed I wadna gie the crack i the kirk- 
yard for a the sermon." 

There is another storv which shows that a Greater 

\j 

importance might be attached to the crack i the kirk- 
yard than was done even by the servant lass mentioned 
above. A rather rough subject, residing in Galloway, 
used to attend church regularly, as it appeared, for 
the sake of the crack ; for on being taken to task for 
his absenting himself, he remarked, " There s nae need 
to gang to the kirk noo, for everybody gets a news 
paper." 

The changes that many of us have lived to witness 
in this kind of intercourse between families and old 
servants is a part of a still greater change the change 
in that modification of the feudal system, the attach 
ment of clans. This, also, from transfers of property 
and extinction of old families in the Highlands, as 
well as from more general causes, is passing away ; 
and it includes also changes in the intercourse between 
landed proprietors and cottagers, and abolition of 
harvest-homes, and such meetings. People are now 
more independent of each other, and service has 
become a pecuniary and not a sentimental question. 
The extreme contrast of that old-fashioned Scottish 
intercourse of families with their servants and depend 
ants, of which I have given some amusing examples, 
is found in the modern manufactory system. There 
the service is a mere question of personal interest. 



138 REMINISCENCES OF 

One of our first practical engineers, and one of the 
first engine-makers in England, stated that he 
employed and paid handsomely on an average 1200 
workmen ; but that they held so little feeling for him 
as their master, that not above half-a-dozen of the 
number would notice him when passing him, either 
in the works or out of work hours. Contrast this 
advanced state of dependants indifference with the 
familiarity of domestic intercourse we have been 
describing ! 

It has been suggested by my esteemed friend, Dr. 
W. Lindsay Alexander, that Scottish anecdotes deal 
too exclusively with the shrewd, quaint, and pawky 
humour of our countrymen, and have not sufficiently 
illustrated the deep pathos and strong loving-kindness 
of the "kindly Scot," qualities which, however 
little appreciated across the Border, abound in Scottish 
poetry and Scottish life. For example, to take the 
case before us of these old retainers, although snappy 
and disagreeable to the last degree in their replies, 
and often most provoking in their ways, they were 
yet deeply and sincerely attached to the family where 
they had so long been domesticated ; and the servant 
who would reply to her mistress s order to mend the 
fire by the short answer, " The fire s weel eneuch," 
would at the same time evince much interest in all 
that might assist her in sustaining the credit of her 
domestic economy ; as, for example, whispering in 
her ear at dinner, " Press the jeelies ; they winna 
keep ;" and had the hour of real trial and of difficulty 
come to the family, would have gone to the death for 
them, and shared their greatest privations. Dr. 
Alexander gives a very interesting example of kind 
ness and affectionate attachment in an old Scottish 
domestic of his own family, whose quaint and odd 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 139 

familiarity was charming. I give it in his own words : 
" When I was a child there was an old servant at 
Pinkieburn, where my early days were spent, who 
had been all her life, I may say, in the house for she 
came to it a child, and lived, without ever leaving it, 
till she died in it, seventy-five years of age. Her 
feeling to her old master, who was just two years 
younger than herself, was a curious compound of the 
deference of a servant and the familiarity and affec 
tion of a sister. She had known him as a boy, lad, 
man, and old man, and she seemed to have a sort of 
notion that without her he must be a very helpless 
being indeed. 1 1 aye keepit the hoose for him, 
whether he was hame or awa , was a frequent utter 
ance of hers ; and she never seemed to think the 
intrusion even of his own nieces, who latterly lived 
with him, at all legitimate. When on her deathbed, 
he hobbled to her room with difficulty, having just 
got over a severe attack of gout, to bid her farewell. 
I chanced to be present, but was too young to remem 
ber what passed, except one thing, which probably 
was rather recalled to me afterwards than properly 
recollected by me. It was her last request. Laird, 
said she (for so she always called him, though his 
lairdship was of the smallest), will ye tell them to 
bury me whaur I ll lie across at your feet V I have 
always thought this characteristic of the old Scotch 
servant, and as such I send it to you." 

And here I would introduce another story which 
struck me very forcibly as illustrating the union of 
the qualities referred to by Dr. Alexander. In the 
following narrative, how deep and tender a feeling is 
expressed in a brief dry sentence ! I give Mr. Scott s 
language :* " My brother and I were, during our 

* Rev. K, Scott of Cranwell. 



140 REMINISCENCES OF 

High School vacation, some forty years ago, very much 
indebted to the kindness of a clever young carpenter 
employed in the machinery workshop of New Lanark 
Mills, near to which we were residing during our six 
weeks holidays. It was he Samuel Shaw, our dear 
companion- -who first taught us to saw, and to plane, 
and to turn too ; and who made us the bows and 
arrows in which we so much delighted. The vacation 
over, and our hearts very sore, but bound to Samuel 
Shaw for ever, our mother sought to place some 
pecuniary recompense in his hand at parting, for all 
the great kindness he had shown her boys. Samuel 
looked in her face, and gently moving her hand aside, 
with an affectionate look cast upon us, who were by, 
exclaimed, in a tone which had sorrow in it, " Noo, 
Mrs. Scott, ye hae spoilt a\" After such an appeal, 
it may be supposed no recompense, in silver or in 
gold, remained with Samuel Shaw. 

On the subject of the old Scottish domestic, I have 
to acknowledge a kind communication from Lord 
Kinloch, which I give in his Lordship s words : 
" My father had been in the counting-house of the 
well-known David Dale, the founder of the Lanark 
Mills, and eminent for his benevolence. Mr. Dale, 
who it would appear was a short stout man, had a 
person in his employment named Matthew, who was 
permitted that familiarity with his master which was 
so characteristic of the former generation. One win 
ter day Mr. Dale came into the counting-house, and 
complained that he had fallen on the ice. Matthew, 
who saw that his master was not much hurt, grinned 
a sarcastic smile. I fell all my length, said Mr. 
Dale. l Nae great length, sir, said Matthew. In 
deed, Matthew, ye need not laugh, said Mr. Dale ; 
I have hurt the sma o my back. I wunner whaur 



SCOTTISH LIFE <l- CHARACTER. 141 

tlmt is, said Matthew." Indeed, specimens like 
Matthew, of serving-men of the former time, have 
latterly been fast going out, but I remember one 
or two such. A lady of my acquaintance had one 
named John in her house at Portobello. I remember 
how my modern ideas were offended by John s fami 
liarity when waiting at table. " Some more wine, 
John," said his mistress. " There s some i the bottle, 
mem," said John. A little after, " Mend the fire, 
John." " The fire s weel eneuch, mem," replied the 
impracticable John. Another " John of my ac 
quaintance was in the family of Mrs. Campbell of Ard- 
nave, mother of the Princess Polignac and the Hon. 
Mrs. Archibald Macdonald. A young lady visiting 
in the family asked John at dinner for a potato. 
John made no response. Thf* request was repeated ; 
when John, putting his mouth to her ear, said, very 
audibly, " There s jist twa in the dish, and they maun 
be keepit for the strangers." 

The following was sent me by a kind correspondent 
a learned Professor in India as a sample of squab 
bling between Scottish servants. A mistress observing 
something peculiar in her maid s manner, addressed 
her, " Dear me, Tibbie, what are you so snappish 
about, that you go knocking the things as you dust 
them?" "Ou, mem, it s Jock." "Well, what has 
Jock been doing V " Ou (with an indescribable, but 
easily imaginable toss of the head), he was angry at 
me, an misca d me, an I said I was juist as the Lord 

had made me, an " "Well, Tibbie?" "An 

he said the Lord could hae had little to dae whan he 
made me." The idea of Tibbie being the work of an 
idle moment was one, the deliciousness of which was 
not likely to be relished by the lassie. 

The following characteristic anecdote of a Highland 



142 REMINISCENCES OF 

servant I have received from the same correspondent. 
An English gentleman, travelling in the Highlands, 
was rather late of coming down to dinner. Donald 
was sent up stairs to intimate that all was ready. 
He speedily returned, nodding significantly, as much 
as to say that it was all right. " But, Donald," said 
the master, after some further trial of a hungry man s 
patience, " are ye sure ye made the gentleman under 
stand 1" "Understand?" retorted Donald (who had 
peeped into the room and found the guest engaged 
at his toilet), " I se warrant ye he understands ; he s 
sharping his teeth," not supposing the tooth-brush 
could be for any other use. 

There have been some very amusing instances 
given of the matter-of-fact obedience paid to orders 
by Highland retainers when made to perform the 
ordinary duties of domestic servants ; as when Mr. 
Campbell, a Highland gentleman, visiting in a country 
house, and telling Donald to bring everything out of 
the bedroom, found all its movable articles fender, 
fire-irons, etc. piled up in the lobby ; so literal was 
the poor man s sense of obedience to orders ! And 
of this he gave a still more extraordinary proof dur 
ing his sojourn in Edinburgh, by a very ludicrous ex 
ploit. When the family moved into a house there, 
Mrs. Campbell gave him very particular instructions 
regarding visitors, explaining that they were to be 
shown into the drawing-room, and no doubt used the 
Scotticism, " Carry any ladies that call up stairs." 
On the arrival of the first visitors, Donald was eager 
to show his strict attention to the mistress s orders. 
Two ladies came together, and Donald, seizing one in 
his arms, said to the other, " Bide ye there till I come 
for ye," and, in spite of her struggles and remon- 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 143 

strances, ushered the terrified visitor into Mrs. Camp 
bell s presence in this unwonted fashion. 

Another case of literal obedience to orders pro 
duced a somewhat startling form of message. A 
servant of an old maiden lady, a patient of Dr. Poole, 
formerly of Edinburgh, was under orders to go to the 
doctor every morning to report the state of her health, 
how she had slept, etc., with strict injunctions always 
to add, " with her compliments." At length, one 
morning the girl brought this extraordinary message : 

" Miss S s compliments, and she dee d last 

night at aicht o clock ! " 

I recollect, in Montrose (that fruitful field for old 
Scottish stories !), a most naive reply from an honest 
lass, servant to old Mrs. Captain Fullerton. A party 
of gentlemen had dined with Mrs. Fullerton, and they 
had a turkey for dinner. Mrs. F. proposed that one 
of the legs should be deviled, and the gentlemen have 
it served up as a relish for their wine. Accordingly 
one of the company skilled in the mystery prepared 
it with pepper, cayenne, mustard, ketchup, etc. He 
gave it to Lizzy, and told her to take it down to the 
kitchen, supposing, as a matter of course, she would 
know that it was to be broiled, and brought back in 
due time. But in a little while, when it was rung for, 
Lizzy very innocently replied that she had eaten it up. 
As it was sent back to the kitchen, her only idea was 
that it must be for herself. But on surprise being 
expressed that she had eaten what was so highly 
peppered and seasoned, she very quaintly answered, 
" Ou, I liket it a the better." 

A well-known servant of the old school was John, 
the servant of Pitfour, Mr. Ferguson, M.P., himself a 
most eccentric character, long father of the House of 
Commons, and a great friend of Pitt. John used to 



144 REMINISCENCES OF 

entertain the tenants, on Pitfour s brief visits to his 
estate, with numerous anecdotes of his master and Mr. 
Pitt ; but he always prefaced them with something in 
the style of Cardinal Wolsey s Ego et rex meus with 
" Me, and Pitt, and Pitfour," went somewhere, or 
performed some exploit. The famous Duchess of 
Gordon once wrote a note to John (the name of this 
eccentric valet), and said, " John, put Pitfour into the 
carriage on Tuesday, and bring him up to Gordon 
Castle to dinner." After sufficiently scratching his 
head, and considering what he should do, he showed 
the letter to Pitfour, who smiled, and said drily, 
" Well, John, I suppose we must go." 

An old domestic of this class gave a capital reason 
to his young master for his being allowed to do as he 
liked : " Ye needna find faut wi* me, Maister Jeems ; 
/ liae been langer aboot the place than yersel" 

It may seem ungracious to close this chapter with 
a communication which appears to convey an un 
favourable impression of an old servant. But the 
truth is, real and attached domestic service does not 
offer its pleasures and advantages without some alloy 
of annoyance, and yet how much the solid benefits 
prevail over any occasional drawbacks ! 

The late Eev. Mr. Leslie of St. Andrcw-Lhanbryd, 
a parish in Morayshire, in describing an old servant 
who had been with him thirty years, said, " The first 
ten years she was an excellent servant ; the second 
ten she was a good mistress ; but the third ten she 
was a perfect tyrant." 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 



CHAPTER THE FIFTH. 

SCOTTISH JUDGES. 

THERE is no class of men which stands out more 
prominent in the reminiscences of the last hundred 
years than that of our SCOTTISH JUDGES. They form, 
in many instances, a type or representative of the 
leading peculiarities of Scottish life and manners. 
They are mixed up with all our affairs, social and 
political. There are to be found in the annals of the 
bench rich examples of pure Scottish humour, the 
strongest peculiarity of Scottish phraseology, acute- 
ness of intellect, cutting wit, eccentricity of manners, 
and abundant powers of conviviality. Their succes 
sors no longer furnish the same anecdotes of oddity 
or of intemperance. The Courts of the Scottish 
Parliament House, without lacking the learning or 
the law of those who sat there sixty years ago, lack 
not the refinement and the dignity that have long 
distinguished the Courts of Westminster Hall. 

Stories still exist, traditionary in society, amongst 
its older members, regarding Lords Gardenstone, 
Monboddo, Hermand, Newton, Polkemmet, Braxfield, 
etc. But many younger persons do not know them. 
It may be interesting to some of my readers to devote 
a few pages to the subject, and to offer some judicial 
gleanings.* 

* I have derived some information from a curious book, 
" Kay s Portraits," 2 vols. The work is scarcely known in 
England, and is becoming rare in Scotland. "Nothing can 



146 REMINISCENCES Of 

I have two anecdotes to show that, both in social 
and judicial life, a remarkable change must have taken 
place amongst the " fifteen." I am assured that the 
following scene took place at the table of Lord Pol- 
kemmet, at a dinner party in his house. When the 
covers were removed, the dinner was seen to consist 
of veal broth, a roast fillet of veal, veal cutlets, a 
florentine (an excellent old Scottish dish composed of 
veal), a calf s head, calf s foot jelly. The worthy 
judge could not help observing a surprise on the 
countenance of his guests, and perhaps a simper on 
some \ so he broke out in explanation : " Ou ay, it s 
a cauf ; when we kill a beast we just eat up ae side, 
and down the tither." The expressions he used to 
describe his own judicial preparations for the bench 
were very characteristic : " Ye see I first read a the 
pleadings, and then, after lettin them wamble in my 
wame wi the toddy twa or three days, I gie my 
ain interlocutor." For a moment suppose such anec 
dotes to be told now of any of our high legal function 
aries. Imagine the feelings of surprise that would 
be called forth were the present Justice-Clerk to 
adopt such imagery in describing the process of 
preparing his legal judgment on a difficult case in his 
court ! 

In regard to the wit of the Scottish bar. It is a 
subject which I do not pretend to illustrate. It 
would require a volume for itself. One anecdote, 
however, I cannot resist, and I record it as forming 
a striking example of the class of Scottish humour 
which, with our dialect, has lost its distinctive charac 
teristics. John Clerk (afterwards a judge by the 

be more valuable in the way of engraved portraits than these 
representations of the distinguished men who adorned Edinburgh 
iu the latter part of the eighteenth century." Cfiambcrs. 



SCOTTISH LIFE d CHARACTER. 147 

title of Lord Eldin) was arguing a Scotch appeal 
case before the House of Lords. His client claimed 
the use of a mill-stream by a prescriptive right. Mr. 
Clerk spoke broad Scotch, and argued that "the 
waiter had rin that way for forty years. Indeed nae- 
body kenn d how long, and why should his client 
now be deprived of the watter?" etc. The chancel 
lor, much amused at the pronunciation of the Scottish 
advocate, in a rather bantering tone anked him, " Mr. 
Clerk, do you spell water in Scotland with two t s ? " 
Clerk, a little nettled at this hit at his national tongue, 
answered, " Na, my Lord, we dinna spell wattei 
(making the word as short as he could) wi twa t s, 
but we spell mainners (making the word as long as 
he could) wi twa n s." 

John Clerk s vernacular version of the motto of the 
Celtic Club is highly characteristic of his humour and 
his prejudice. He had a strong dislike to the whole 
Highland race, and the motto assumed by the modern 
Celts, " Olim marte, nunc arte," Clerk translated 
" Formerly robbers, now thieves." Quite equal to 
Swift s celebrated remark on William III. s motto 
Recepit, non rapuit " that the receiver was as bad as 
the thief." Very dry and pithy too was Clerk s legal 
opinion given to a claimant of the Annandale peerage, 
who, when pressing the employment of some obvious 
forgeries, was warned that if he persevered, nae doot 
he might be a peer, but it would be a peer o anither 
tree ! 

The clever author of " Peter s Letters " gives an 
elaborate description of Clerk s character whilst at the 
bar, and speaks of him as " the plainest, the shrewd 
est, and the most sarcastic of men." Nor could he 
entirely repress these peculiarities when raised to the 
bench under the title of Lord Eldin. 



148 REMINISCENCES OF 

His defence of a young friend, v/ho was an advo 
cate, and had incurred the displeasure of the Judges, 
has often been repeated. Mr. Clerk had been called 
upon to offer his apologies for disrespect, or implied 
disrespect, in his manner of addressing the Bench. 
The advocate had given great offence by expressing 
his " astonishment at something which had ema 
nated from their Lordships, implying by it his dis 
approval. He got Lord Eldin, who was connected 
with him, to make an apology for him. But Clerk 
could not resist his humorous vein by very equivo 
cally adding, "My client has expressed his astonish 
ment, my Lords, at what he had met with here ; if 
my young friend had known this court as long as I 
have, he would have been astonished at nothing." 

A. kind Perthshire correspondent has sent me 
a characteristic anecdote, which has strong in 
ternal evidence of being genuine. When Clerk 
was raised to the Bench he presented his credentials 
to the Court, and, according to custom, was received 
by the presiding Judge who, on this occasion, in a 
somewhat sarcastic tone, referred to the delay which 
had taken place in his reaching a position for which 
he had so long been qualified, and to which he must 
have long aspired. He hinted at the long absence of 
the Whig party from political power as the cause of 
this delay, which offended Clerk ; and he paid it off 
by intimating in his pithy and bitter tone, which he 
could so well assume, that it was not of so much 
consequence " Because," as he said, " ye see, my 
Lord, I was not juist sae sune doited as some o your 
Lordships." 

The following account of his conducting a case is 
also highly characteristic. Two individuals, the one 
a mason, the other a carpenter, both residenters in 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 149 

West Portsburgh, formed a copartnery, and com 
menced building houses within the boundaries of 
the burgh corporation. One of the partners was a 
freeman, the other not. The corporation, considering 
its rights invaded by a non-freeman exercising privi 
leges only accorded to one of their body, brought 
an action in the Court of Session against the inter 
loper, and his partner as aiding and abetting. Mr. 
John Clerk, then an advocate, was engaged for the 
defendants. How the cause was decided matters 
little. What was really curious in the affair was 
the naively droll manner in which the advocate for 
the defence opened his pleading before the Lord 
Ordinary. " My Lord," commenced John, in his 
purest Doric, at the same time pushing up his spec 
tacles to his brow and hitching his gown over his 
shoulders, " I wad hae thocht naething o t (the action), 
had hooses been a new invention, and my clients 
been caught ouvertly impingin on the patent richts 
o 1 the inventors ! 

Of Lord Gardenstone (Francis Garden) I have 
many early personal reminiscences, as his property of 
Johnstone was in the Howe of the Mearns, not far 
from my early home. He was a man of energy, and 
promoted improvements in the county with skill and 
practical sagacity. His favourite scheme was to 
establish a flourishing town upon his property, and 
he spared no pains or expense in promoting the 
importance of his village of Laurencekirk. He built 
an excellent inn, to render it a stage for posting. 
He built and endowed an Episcopal chapel for the 
benefit of his English immigrants, in the vestry of 
which he placed a most respectable library ; and he 
encouraged manufacturers of all kinds to settle in 

the place. Amongst others, as we have seen, came 

R 



150 REMINISCENCES OF 

the hatter who found only three hats in the kirk. 
His lordship was much taken up with his hotel 
or inn, and for which he provided a large volume for 
receiving the written contributions of travellers who 
frequented it. It was the landlady s business to pre 
sent this volume to the guests, and ask them to write 
in it during the evenings whatever occurred to their 
memory or their imagination. In the mornings it 
was a favourite amusement of Lord Gardenstone to 
look it over. I recollect Sir Walter Scott being 
much taken with this contrivance, and his asking 
me about it at Abbotsford. His son said to him, 
"You should establish such a book, sir, at Melrose ;" 
upon which Sir W. replied, " No, Walter ; I should 
just have to see a great deal of abuse of myself. * 
On his son deprecating such a result, and on his 
observing my surprised look, he answered, "Well, 
well, I should have to read a great deal of foolish 
praise, which is much the same thing." An amusing 
account is given of the cause of Lord Gardenstone 
withdrawing this volume from the hotel, and of his 
determination to submit it no more to the tender 
mercies of the passing traveller. As Professor Stuart 
of Aberdeen was passing an evening at the inn, the 
volume was handed to him, and he wrote in it the 
following lines, in the style of the prophecies of 
Thomas the Ehyrner : 

" Frae sma beginnings Rome of auld 
Became a great imperial city ; 
Twas peopled first, as we are tauld, 
By bankrupts, vagabonds, banditti. 
Quoth Thamas, Then the day may come, 
When Laurencekirk shall equal Rome." 

These lines so nettled Lord Gardenstone, that the 
volume disappeared, and was never seen afterwards 



SCOTTISH LIFE Off AM AC TEE. 151 

in the inn of Laurencekirk. There is another linger 
ing reminiscence which I retain connected with the inn 
at Laurencekirk. The landlord, Mr. Cream, was a 
man well known throughout all the county, and was 
distinguished, in his later years, as one of the few 
men who continued to wear a, pigtail. On one occasion 
the late Lord Dunmore (grandfather or great-grand 
father of the present peer), who also still wore his 
queue, halted for a night at Laurencekirk. On the 
host leaving the room, where he had come to take 
orders for supper, Lord Dunmore turned to his valet 
and said, " Johnstone, do I look as like a fool in my 
pigtail as Billy Cream doesf -"Much about it, my 
lord," was the valet s imperturbable answer. " Then," 
said his lordship, " cut off mine to-morrow morning 
when I dress." 

Lord Gardenstone seemed to have had two favourite 
tastes : he indulged in the love of pigs and the love 
of snuff. He took a young pig as a pet, and it be 
came quite tame, and followed him about like a dog. 
At first the animal shared his bed, but when, growing 
up to advanced swinehood, it became unfit for such 
companionship, he had it to sleep in his room, in which 
he made a comfortable couch for it of his own clothes. 
His snuff he kept not in a box, but in a leathern 
waist-pocket made for the purpose. He took it in 
enormous quantities, and used to say that if he had 
a dozen noses he would feed them all. Lord Garden- 
stone died 1793. 

Lord Monboddo (James Burnet, Esq. of Monboddo) 
is another of the well-known members of the Scottish 
Bench, who combined, with many eccentricities of 
opinion and habits, great learning and a most amiable 
disposition. From his paternal property being in the 
county of Kincardine, and Lord M. being a visitor at 



152 REMINISCENCES OF 

ray father s house, and indeed a relation or clansman, 
I have many early reminiscences of stories which I 
have heard of the learned judge. His speculations 
regarding the origin of the human race have, in times 
past, excited much interest and amusement. His 
theory was that man emerged from a wild and savage 
condition, much resembling that of apes ; that man 
had then a tail like other animals, but which by pro 
gressive civilisation and the constant habit of sitting, 
had become obsolete. This theory produced many a joke 
from facetious and superficial people, who had never 
read any of the arguments of the able and elaborate 
work, by which the ingenious and learned author main 
tained his theory.* Lord Kames, a brother judge, had 
his joke on it. On some occasion of their meeting, Lord 
Monboddo was for giving Lord Kames the prece 
dency. Lord K. declined, and drew back, saying, " By 
no means, my lord ; you must walk first, that I may 
see your tail." I recollect Lord Monboddo s coming 
to dine at Fasque caused a great excitement of interest 
and curiosity. I was in the nursery, too young to 
take part in the investigations ; but my elder brothers 
were on the alert to watch his arrival, and get a 
glimpse of his tail. Lord M. was really a learned man, 
read Greek and Latin authors not as a mere exercise 
of classical scholarship but because he identified 
himself with their philosophical opinions, and would 
have revived Greek customs and modes of life. He 
used to give suppers after the manner of the ancients, 
and used to astonish his guests by the ancient cookery 
of Spartan broth, and of mulsum. He was an enthu- 
siastical Platonist. On a visit to Oxford, he was 
received with great respect by the scholars of the Uni 
versity, who were much interested in meeting with 

* Origin and Progress of Language. 



SCOTTISH LIFE 4 CHARACTER. 158 

one who had studied Plato as a pupil and follower. 
In accordance with the old custom at learned univer 
sities, Lord Monboddo was determined to address the 
Oxonians in Latin, which he spoke with much readi 
ness. But they could not stand the numerous slips 
in prosody. Lord Monboddo shocked the ears of the 
men of Eton and of Winchester by dreadful false 
quantities verse-making being, in Scotland, then 
quite neglected, and a matter little thought of by the 
learned judge. 

Lord Monboddo was considered an able lawyer, 
and on many occasions exhibited a very clear and 
correct judicial discernment of intricate cases. It was 
one of his peculiarities that he never sat on the bench 
with his brother judges, but always at the clerk s 
table. Different reasons for this practice have been 
given, but the simple fact seems to have been, that he 
was deaf, and heard better at the lower seat. His 
mode of travelling was on horseback. He scorned 
carriages, on the ground of its being unmanly to " sit 
in a box drawn by brutes." When he went to Lon 
don he rode the whole way. At the same period, 
Mr. Barclay of Ury (father of the well-known Captain 
Barclay), when he represented Kineardineshire in 
Parliament, always ivalked to London. He was a very 
powerful man, and could walk fifty miles a day, his 
usual refreshment on the road being a bottle of port 
wine, poured into a bowl, and drunk oif at a draught. 
I have heard that George III. was much interested 
at these performances, and said, " I ought to be proud 
of my Scottish subjects, when my judges ride, and my 
members of Parliament walk, to the metropolis." 

On one occasion of his being in London, Lord Mon 
boddo attended a trial in the Court of King s Bench. 
A cry was heard that the roof of the court-room 



154 REMINISCENCES OF 

was giving way, upon which judges, lawyers, and 
people made a rush to get to the door. Lord Mon- 
boddo viewed the scene from his corner with much 
composure. Being deaf and short-sighted, he knew 
nothing of the cause of the tumult. The alarm proved 
a false one ; and on being asked why he had not be 
stirred himself to escape like the rest, he coolly 
answered that he supposed it was an annual ceremony, 
with which, as an alien to the English laws, he had 
no concern, but which he considered it interesting to 
witness as a remnant of antiquity ! Lord Monboddo 
died 1799. 

Lord Kockville (the Hon. Alexander Gordon, third 
son of the Earl of Aberdeen) was a judge distinguish 
ed in his day by his ability and decorum. " He 
adorned the bench by the dignified manliness of his 
appearance, and polished urbanity of his manners."* 
Like most lawyers of his time, he took his glass freely, 
and a whimsical account which he gave, before he 
was advanced to the bench, of his having fallen upon 
his face, after making too free with the bottle, was 
commonly current at the time. Upon his appearing 
late at a convivial club with a most rueful expression 
of countenance, and on being asked what was the 
matter, he -exclaimed with great solemnity, " Gentle 
men, I have just met with the most extraordinary 
adventure that ever occurred to a human being. As 
I was walking along the Grassmarket, all of a sudden 
the street f rose up and struck me on the face." He had, 
however, a more serious encounter with the street after 
he was a judge. In 1792, his foot slipped as he was 
going to the Parliament House ; he broke his leg, was 
taken home, fevered, and died. 

Lord Braxfield (Robert M Queen of Braxfield) was 

* Douglas Peerage, vol. i. p. 22. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 155 

one of the judges of the old school, well known in his 
day, and might be said to possess all the qualities 
united, by which the class were remarkable. He spoke 
the broadest Scotch. He was a sound and laborious 
lawyer. He was fond of a glass of good claret, and 
had a great fund of good Scotch humour. He rose 
to the dignity of Justice-Clerk, and, in consequence, 
presided at many important political criminal trials 
about the year 1793-4, such as those of Muir, Palmer, 
Skirving, Margarot, Gerrold, etc. He conducted these 
trials with much ability and great firmness, occasion 
ally, no doubt, with more appearance of severity and 
personal prejudice than is usual with the judges who 
in later times are called on to preside on similar oc 
casions. The disturbed temper of the times and the 
daring spirit of the political offenders seemed, he 
thought, to call for a bold and fearless front on the 
part of the judge, and Braxh eld was the man to show 
it, both on the bench and in common life. He met, 
however, sometimes with a spirit as bold as his own 
from the prisoners before him. When Skirving was 
on trial for sedition, he thought Braxfield was threaten 
ing him, and by gesture endeavouring to intimidate 
him ; accordingly, he boldly addressed the Bench : 
" It is altogether unavailing for your Lordship to 
menace me, for I have long learnt not to fear the face 
of man." I have observed that he adhered to the 
broadest Scottish dialect. " Hae ye ony coonsel, man 1 ?" 
he said to Maurice Margarot (who, I believe, was an 
Englishman). " No," was the reply. " Div ye want 
to hae ony appinted ?" "No," replied Margarot; "I 
only want an interpreter to make me understand what 
your Lordship says." A prisoner, accused of stealing 
some linen garments, was one day brought up for tria) 
before the old judge, but was acquitted because the 



156 REMINISCENCES OF 

prosecutor had charged him with stealing shirty 
whereas the articles stolen were found to be shifts 
female apparel. Braxfield indignantly remarked that 
the Crown Counsel should have .called them by the 
Scottish name of sarks, which applied to both sexes. 

Braxfield -had much humour, and enjoyed wit 
in others. He was immensely delighted at a reply 
by Dr. M Cubbin, the minister of Bothwell. Brax 
field, when Justice -Clerk, was dining at Lord 
Douglas s, and observed there was only port upon 
the table. In his usual off-hand brusque manner, 
he demanded of the noble host if "there was nae 
claret i the castle." " Yes," said Lord Douglas ; " but 
my butler tells me it is not good." " Let s pree t," 
said Braxfield in his favourite dialect. A bottle was 
produced, and declared by all present to be quite ex 
cellent. " Noo, minister," said the old judge, address 
ing Dr. M Cubbin, who was celebrated as a wit in his 
day, " as a fama clamosa has gone forth against this 
wine, I propose that you absolve it," playing upon 
the terms made use of in the Scottish Church Courts. 
" Ay, my Lord," said the minister, " you are first-rate 
authority for a case of civil or criminal law, but you 
do not quite understand our Church Court practice. 
We never absolve till after three several appearances." 
The wit and the condition of absolution were alike 
relished by the judge. Lord Braxfield closed a long 
and useful life in 1799. 

Of Lord Hermand we have already had occasion to 
speak, as in fact his name has become in some manner 
identified with that conviviality which marked almost 
as a characteristic the Scottish Bench of his time. He 
gained, however, great distinction as a judge, and was 
a capital lawyer. When at the bar, Lords Newton 
and Hermand were great friends, and many were the 



A GUID GANGIN PLEA 
From a- water-colour drawing by 

HENRY IV. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., R.SJt . 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 157 

convivial meetings they enjoyed together. But Lord 
Hermand outlived all his old last-century contempo 
raries, and formed with Lord Balgray what we may 
consider the connecting links between the past and 
the present race of Scottish lawyers. 

Lord Kames was a keen agricultural experiment 
alist, and in his Gentleman Farmer anticipated many 
modern improvements. He was, however, occasionally 
too sanguine. " John," said he one day to his old over 
seer, " I think we ll see the day when a man may 
carry out as much chemical manure in his waistcoat 
pocket as will serve for a whole field." "Weel," 
rejoined the other, " I am of opinion that if your 
lordship were to carry out the dung in your waist 
coat pocket, ye might bring hame the crap in your 
greatcoat pocket." 

We could scarcely perhaps offer a more marked 
difference between habits once tolerated on the bench 
and those which now distinguish the august seat of 
Senators of Justice, than by quoting, from Kay s 
Portraits, vol. ii. p. 278, a sally of a Lord of Session 
of those days, which he played off, when sitting as 
judge, upon a young friend whom he was determined 
to frighten. " A young counsel was addressing 
him on some not very important point that had 
arisen in the division of a common (or commonty, 
according to law phraseology), when, having made some 
bold averment, the judge exclaimed, That s a lee, 
Jemmie. My lord ! ejaculated the amazed barrister. 
Ay, ay, Jemmie ; I see by your face ye re leeinV 
Indeed, my lord, I am not/ Dinna tell me that ; 
it s no in your memorial (brief) awa wi you ; and, 
overcome with astonishment and vexation, the discom 
fited barrister left the bar. The judge thereupon 
chuckled with infinite delight ; and beckoning to the 



158 REMINISCENCES OF 

clerk who attended on the occasion, he said, Are ye 

no Kabbie H s man V Yes, my lord. Wasna 

Jemmie leein 1 Oh no, my lord. Ye re quite 

sureT Oh yes/ Then just write out what you 
want, and I ll sign it ; my faith, but I made Jemmie 
stare. So the decision was dictated by the clerk, and 
duly signed by the judge, who left the bench highly 
diverted with the fright he had given his young 
friend." Such scenes enacted in court now would 
astonish the present generation, both of lawyers and 
of suitors. 

We should not do justice to our Scottish Eemini- 
scences of judges and lawyers, if we omitted the once 
celebrated Court of Session jeu d esprit called the 
"Diamond Beetle Case." This burlesque report of 
a judgment was written by George Cranstoun, advo 
cate, who afterwards sat in court as judge under the 
title of Lord Corehouse. Cranstoun was one of the 
ablest lawyers of his time ; he was a prime scholar, 
and a man of most refined taste and clear intellect. 
This humorous and clever production was printed in 
a former edition of these Reminiscences, and in a 
very flattering notice of the book which appeared 
in the North British Review, the reviewer himself, as 
is well known, a distinguished member of the 
Scottish judicial bench remarks : " We are glad that 
the whole of the Diamond Beetle by Cranstoun has 
been given ; for nothing can be more graphic, spirited, 
and ludicrous, than the characteristic speeches of 
the learned judges who deliver their opinions in the 
case of defamation." As copies of this very clever 
and jocose production are not now easily obtained, 
and as some of my younger readers may not have 
seen it, I have reprinted it in this edition. Considered 
in the light of a memorial of the bench, as it was known 



SCOTTISH LIFE d< CHARACTER. 159 

to a former generation, it is well worth preserving ; 
for, as the editor of Kay s Portraits well observes, 
although it is a caricature, it is entirely without ran 
cour, or any feeling of a malevolent nature towards 
those whom the author represents as giving judgment 
in the " Diamond Beetle" case. And in no way could 
the involved phraseology of Lord Bannatyne, the pre 
dilection for Latin quotation of Lord Meadowbank, 
the brisk manner of Lord Hermand, the anti-Gallic 
feeling of Lord Craig, the broad dialect of Lords Pol- 
kemmet and Balmuto, and the hesitating manner of 
Lord Methven, be more admirably caricatured. 

FULL COPY OF THE FINDING OF THE COURT IN 
THE ONCE CELEBRATED " DIAMOND BEETLE 
CASE." * 

Speeches taken at advising the Action of Defamation and 
Damages, ALEXANDER CUNNINGHAM, Jeweller in 
Edinburgh, against JAMES RUSSELL, Surgeon there. 

"THE LORD PRESIDENT (Sm ILAY CAMPBELL). 
Your Lordships have the petition of Alexander 
Cunningham against Lord Bannatyne s interlocutor. 
It is a case of defamation and damages for calling the 
petitioner s Diamond Heetle an Egyptian Louse. You 
have the Lord Ordinary s distinct interlocutor, on 
pages 29 and 30 of this petition: Having con 
sidered the Condescendence of the pursuer, Answers 
for the defender, and so on ; Finds, in respect that 
it is not alleged that the diamonds on the back of 

The version I have given of this amusing burlesque was 
revised by the late Mr. Pagan, Cupar-Fife, and corrected from 
his own manuscript copy, which he had procured from authentic 
sources about forty years ago. 



160 REMINISCENCES OF 

the Diamond Beetle are real diamonds, or anything but 
shining spots, such as are found on other Diamond 
Beetles, which likewise occur, though in a smaller 
number, on a great number of other Beetles, somewhat 
different from the Beetle libelled, and similar to which 
there may be Beetles in Egypt, with shining spots 
on their backs, which may be termed Lice there, and 
may be different not only from the common Louse, 
but from the Louse mentioned by Moses as one of the 
plagues of Egypt, which is admitted to be a filthy 
troublesome Louse, even worse than the said Louse, 
which is clearly different from the Louse libelled. 
But that the other Louse is the same with, or similar 
to, the said Beetle, which is also the same with the 
other Beetle ; and although different from the said 
Beetle "libelled, yet, as the said Beetle is similar to 
the other Beetle, and the said Louse to the other 
Louse libelled ; and the other Louse to the other 
Beetle, which is the same with, or similar to, the 
Beetle which somewhat resembles the Beetle libelled ; 
assoilzies the defender, and finds expenses due/ 

" Say away, my Lords. 

" LORD MEADOWBANK.- -This is a very intricate 
and puzzling question, my Lord. I have formed no 
decided opinion ; but at present I am rather inclined 
to think the interlocutor is right, though not upon 
the ratio assigned in it. It appears to me that there 
are two points for consideration. First, whether the 
words libelled amount to a convicium against the 
Beetle ; and Secondly, admitting the convicium, whether 
the pursuer is entitled to found upon it in this action. 
Now, my Lords, if there be a convicium at all, it con 
sists in the comparatio or comparison of the Scarabceus 
or Beetle with the Egyptian Pediculus or Louse. My 
first doubt regards this point, but it is not at all 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 161 

founded on what the defender alleges, that there is 
no such animal as an Egyptian Pediculus or Louse in 
rerum natura ; for though it does not actually exist, it 
may possibly exist (if not in actio 9 yet in potentia if 
not in actuality, yet in potentiality or capacity) ; and 
whether its existence be in esse vel posse, is the same 
thing to this question, provided there be termini habiles 
for ascertaining what it would be if it did exist. But 
my doubt is here : How am I to discover what are 
the essentia of any Louse, whether Egyptian or not ? 
It is very easy to describe its accidents as a naturalist 
would do to say that it belongs to the tribe of Aptera 
(or, that is, a yellow, little, greedy, filthy, despicable 
reptile), but we do not learn from this what the pro- 
prium of the animal is in a logical sense, and still less 
what its differentia are. Now, without these it is 
impossible to judge whether there is a convicium or 
not ; for, in a case of this kind, which seguitur natu- 
ram delicti, we must take them meliori sensu, and 
presume the comparatio to be in melioribus tantum. 
And here I beg that parties, and the bar in general 
[interrupted by Lord Hermand : Your Lordship should 
address yourself to the Chair] I say, I beg it may be 
understood that I do not rest my opinion on the 
ground that veritas convicii excusat. I am clear that 
although this Beetle actually were an Egyptian Louse, 
it would accord no relevant defence, provided the 
calling it so were a convicium; and there my doubt 
lies. 

" With regard to the second point, I am satisfied 
that the Scarabceus or Beetle itself has no persona 
standi in judicio ; and therefore the pursuer cannot 
insist in the name of the Scarabceus, or for his behoof. 
If the action lie at all, it must be at the instance of 
the pursuer himself, as the verus dominus of the Scara- 



162 REMINISCENCES OF 

bceus, for being calumniated through the conmcium 
directed primarily against the animal standing in that 
relation to him. Now, abstracting from the qualifica 
tion of an actual dominium, which is not alleged, I have 
great doubts whether a mere convicium is necessarily 
transmitted from one object to another, through the 
relation of a dominium subsisting between them; and 
if not necessarily transmissible, we must see the 
principle of its actual transmission here ; and that has 
not yet been pointed out. 

" LORD HERMAND.- -We heard a little ago, my 
Lord, that there is a difficulty in this case ; but I 
have not been fortunate enough, for my part, to find 
out where the difficulty lies. Will any man presume 
to tell me that a Beetle is not a Beetle, and that a 
Louse is not a Louse 1 I never saw the petitioner s 
Beetle, and what s more I don t care whether I ever 
see it or not ; but I suppose it s like other Beetles, 
and that s enough for me. 

" But, my Lord, I know the other reptile well. I 
have seen them, I have felt them, my Lord, ever since 
I was a child in my mother s arms ; and my mind 
tells me that nothing but the deepest and blackest 
malice rankling in the human breast could have 
suggested this comparison, or led any man to form a 
thought so injurious and insulting. But, my Lord, 
there s more here than all that a great deal more. 
One could have thought the defender would have 
gratified his spite to the full by comparing the Beetle 
to a common Louse an animal sufficiently vile and 
abominable for the purpose of defamation [Shut that 
door there] but he adds the epithet Egyptian, and I 
know well what he means by that epithet. He means, 
my Lord, a Louse that has been fattened on the head 
of a Gipsy or Tinker, undisturbed by the comb or nail. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 163 

and unmolested in the enjoyment of its native filth. 
He means a Louse grown to its full size, ten times 
larger and ten times more abominable than those with 
which your Lordships and I are familiar. The peti 
tioner asks redress for the injury so atrocious and so 
aggravated ; and, as far as my voice goes, he shall not 
ask it in vain. 

" LORD CRAIG. I am of the opinion last delivered. 
It appears to me to be slanderous and calumnious to 
compare a Diamond Beetle to the filthy and mischie 
vous animal libelled. By an Egyptian Louse I under 
stand one which has been foimed on the head of a 
native Egyptian a race of men who, after degenerat 
ing for many centuries, have sunk at last into the 
abyss of depravity, in consequence of having been sub 
jugated for a time by the French. I do not find that 
Turgot, or Condorcet, or the rest of the economists, 
ever reckoned the combing of the head a species of 
productive labour ; and I conclude, therefore, that 
wherever French principles have been propagated, 
Lice grow to an immoderate size, especially in a warm 
climate like that of Egypt. I shall only add, that we 
ought to be sensible of the blessings we enjoy under 
a free and happy Constitution, where Lice and men 
live under the restraint of equal laws the only 
equality that can exist in a well-regulated state. 

" LORD POLKEMMET. It should be observed, my 
Lord, that what is called a Beetle is a reptile 
very well known in this country. I have seen mony 
ane o them in Drumshorlin Muir ; it is a little black 
beastie, about the size of my thoom-nail. The country 
folks ca them Clocks ; and I believe they ca them 
also Maggy-wi -the-mony-feet ; but they are not the 
least like any Louse that ever I saw ; so that, in my 
opinion, though the defender may have made s 



164 REMINISCENCES OF 

blunder through ignorance, in comparing them, there 
does not seem to have been any animus injuriandi ; 
therefore I am for refusing the petition, my Lords. 

" LORD BALMUTO. Am* for refusing the petition. 
There s more Lice than Beetles in Fife. They ca 
them Clocks there. What they ca a Beetle is a thing 
as lang as my arm ; thick at one end and sma at the 
other. I thought, when I read the petition, that the 
Beetle or Bittle had been the thing that the women 
have when they are washing towels or napery with 
things for dadding them with ; and I see the petitioner 
is a jeweller till his trade ; and I thought he 
had ane o thae Beetles, and set it all round with 
diamonds ; and I thought it a foolish and extravagant 
idea ; and I saw no resemblance it could have to a 
Louse. But I find I was mistaken, my Lord ; and I 
find it only a Beetle-clock the petitioner has; but my 
opinion s the same as it was before. I say, my Lords, 
am for refusing the petition, I say 

" LORD WOODHOUSELEE. There is a case abridged 
in the third volume of the Dictionary of Decisions, 
Chalmers v. Douglas, in which it was found that 
veritas convicii excusat, which may be rendered not 
literally, but in a free and spirited manner, according 
to the most approved principles of translation, the 
truth of calumny affords a relevant defence. If, 
therefore, it be the law of Scotland (which I am 
clearly of opinion it is) that the truth of the calumny 
affords a relevant defence, and if it be likewise true 
that the Diamond Beetle is really an Egyptian Louse, 
I am inclined to conclude (though certainly the case 
is attended with difficulty) that the defender ought 
to be assoilzied. Refuse. 

" LORD JUSTICE-CLERK (RAE). I am very well ac- 

* His Lordship usually pronounced I am Aum* 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 165 

quainted with the defender in this action, and have 
respect for him, and esteem him likewise. I know 
him to be a skilful and expert surgeon, and also a 
good man ; and I would do a great deal to serve him 
or to be of use to him, if I had it in my power to do 
so. But 1 think on this occasion he has spoken 
rashly, and I fear foolishly and improperly. I hope 
he had no bad intention I am sure he had not. 
But the petitioner (for whom I have likewise a great 
respect, because I knew his father, who was a very 
respectable baker in Edinburgh, and supplied niy 
family with bread, and very good bread it was, and 
for which his accounts were regularly discharged), it 
seems, has a Clock or a Beetle, I think it is called a 
Diamond Beetle, which he is very fond of, and has a 
fancy for, and the defender has compared it to a 
Louse, or a Bug, or a Flea, or a worse thing of that 
kind, with a view to render it despicable or ridiculous, 
and the petitioner so likewise, as the proprietor or 
owner thereof. It is said that this is a Louse in fact, 
and that the veritas convicii excusat ; and mention is 
made of a decision in the case of Chalmers v. Douglas. 
I have always had a great veneration for the de 
cisions of your Lordships ; and I am sure will always 
continue to have while I sit here ; but that case was 
determined by a very small majority, and I have 
heard your Lordships mention it on various occasions, 
and you have always desiderated the propriety of it, 
and I think have departed from it in some instances. 
I remember the circumstances of the case well : 
Helen Chalmers lived in Musselburgh, and the de 
fender, Mrs. Douglas, lived in Fisherrow ; and at that 
time there was much intercourse between the genteel 
inhabitants of Fisherrow, and Musselburgh, and 
Inveresk, and likewise Newbigging; and there were 



166 REMINISCENCES OF 

balls, or dances, or assemblies every fortnight, or 
oftener, and also sometimes I believe every week ; and 
there were card-parties, assemblies once a fortnight, 
or oftener ; and the young people danced there also, 
and others played at cards, and there were various 
refreshments, such as tea and coffee, and butter and 
bread, and I believe, but I am not sure, porter and 
negus, and likewise small beer. And it was at one of 
these assemblies that Mrs. Douglas called Mrs. Chal 
mers very improper names. And Mrs. Chalmers 
brought an action of defamation before the Commis 
saries, and it came by advocation into this Court, 
and your Lordships allowed a proof of the veritas 
cvnvicii, and it lasted a very long time, and in 
the end answered no good purpose even to the 
defender herself, while it did much hurt to the 
pursuer s character. I am therefore for REFUSING 
such a proof in this case, and I think the petitioner 
in this case and his Beetle have been slandered, and 
the petition ought to be seen. 

" LORD METHVEN. If I understand this a a a 
interlocutor, it is not said that the a a a a 
Egyptian Lice are Beetles, but that they may be, or 
a a a a resemble Beetles. I am therefore 
for sending the process to the Ordinary to ascertain 
the fact, as I think it depends upon that whether 
there be a a a a convicium or not. I think also 
the petitioner should be ordained to a a a pro 
duce his Beetle, and the defender an Egyptian Louse 
or Pediculus, and if he has riot one, that he should 
take a diligence a a a against havers to recover 
Lice of various kinds ; and these may be remitted to 
Dr. Monro, or Mr. Play fair, or to some other naturalist, 
to report upon the subject. 

"Agreed to." 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHARACTER. 167 

This is clearly a Eeminiscence of a bygone state of 
matters in the Court of Session. I think every reader 
in our day, of the once famous Beetle case, will come 
to the conclusion that, making all due allowance for 
the humorous embellishment of the description, and 
even for some exaggeration of caricature, it describes 
what was once a real state of matters, which, he will 
be sure, is real no more. The day of Judges of the 
Balmuto-Hermand-Polkemmet class has passed away, 
and is become a Scottish Eemmiscence. Having thus 
brought before my readers some Eeminiscences of past 
times from the Courts of Justice, let me advert to one 
which belongs to, or was supposed to belong to, past 
days of our Scottish universities. It is now a matter 
of tradition. But an idea prevailed, whether correctly 
or incorrectly, some eighty or a hundred years ago, 
that at northern colleges degrees were regularly sold, 
and those who could pay the price obtained them, 
without reference to the merits or attainments of those 
on whom they were conferred. We have heard of 
divers jokes being passed on those who were supposed 
to have received such academical honours, as well as 
on those who had given them. It is said Dr Samuel 
Johnson joined in this sarcastic humour. But his 
prejudices both against Scotland and Scottish literature 
were well known. Colman, in his amusing play of 
the " Heir at Law," makes his Dr. Pangloss ludicrously 
describe his receiving an LL.D. degree, on the grounds 
of his own celebrity (as he had never seen the college), 
and his paying the heads one pound fifteen shillings 
and threepence three farthings as a handsome compli 
ment to them on receiving his diploma. Colman 
certainly had studied at a northern university. But 
he might have gone into the idea in fun. However 
this uiay be, an anecdote is current in the east of 



168 REMINISCENCES OF 

Scotland, which is illustrative of this real or supposed 
state of matters, to which we may indeed apply the 
Italian phrase that if " non vero " it is " ben trovato." 
The story is this : An East Lothian minister, ac 
companied by his man, who acted as betheral of his 
parish, went over to a northern university to purchase 
his degree, and on their return home he gave strict 
charge to his man, that as now he was invested with 
academical honour, he was to be sure to say, if any 
one asked for the minister, " yes, the Doctor is at 
home, or the Doctor is in the study, or the Doctor is 
out, as the case might be." The man at once ac 
quiesced in the propriety of this observance on account 
of his master s newly-acquired dignity. But he quietly 
added, " Ay, ay, minister ; an if ony ane speirs for 
me, the servants maun be sure to say, Oh, the Doctor s 
in the stable, or the Doctor s in the kitchen, or the 
Doctor s in the garden or the field." " What do you 
mean, Dauvid 7 exclaimed his astonished master ; 
" what can you have to do with Doctor ? " Weel, 
ye see, sir," said David, looking very knowing, " when 
ye got your degree, I thought that as I had saved a 
little money, I couldna lay it out better, as being- 
bet heral of the church, than tak out a degree to 
mysell." The story bears upon the practice, whether 
a real or a supposed one ; and we may fairly say that 
under such principals as Shairp, Tulloch, Campbell, 
Barclay, who now adorn the Scottish universities, we 
have a guarantee that such reports must continue to 
be Reminiscence and traditional only. 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 169 



CHAPTER THE SIXTH. 

ON HUMOUR PROCEEDING FROM SCOTTISH EXPRES 
SIONS, INCLUDING SCOTTISH PROVERBS. 

WE come next to Reminiscences which are chiefly con 
nected with peculiarities of our Scottish LANGUAGE, 
whether contained in words or in expressions. I am 
quite aware that the difference between the anecdotes 
belonging to this division and to the last division 
termed " Wit and Humour " is very indistinct, and 
must, in fact, in many cases, be quite arbitrary. Much 
of what we enjoy most in Scottish stories is not on 
account of wit properly so called, in the speaker, but 
I should say rather from the odd and unexpected view 
which is taken of some matter, or from the quaint and 
original turn of the expression made use of, or from 
the simple and matter-of-fact reference made to cir 
cumstances which are unusual. I shall not, therefore, 
be careful to preserve any strict line of separation 
between this division and the next. Each is conversant 
with what is amusing and with what is Scotch. What 
we have now chiefly to illustrate by suitable anec 
dotes is peculiarities of Scottish language its various 
humorous turns and odd expressions. 

We have now to consider stories where words and 
expressions, which are peculiarly Scotch, impart the 
humour and the point. Sometimes they are altogether 
incapable of being rendered in other language. As, 
for example, a parishioner in an Ayrshire village, 
meeting his pastor, who had just returned after a con- 



170 REMINISCENCES OP 

siderable absence on account of ill health, congratu 
lated him on his convalescence, and added, anticipatory 
of the pleasure he would have in hearing him again, 
" I m unco yuckie to hear a blaud o your gab. This 
is an untranslatable form of saying how glad he should 
be to hear his minister s voice again speaking to him 
the words of salvation and of peace from the pulpit. 

The two following are good examples of that Scot 
tish style of expression which has its own character. 
They are kindly sent by Sir Archibald Dunbar. The 
first illustrates Scottish acute discernment. A certain 
titled lady, well known around her country town for 
her long-continued and extensive charities, which are 
not withheld from those who least deserve them, had 
a few years since, by the unexpected death of her 
brother and of his only son, become possessor of a 
fine estate. The news soon spread in the neighbour 
hood, and a group of old women were overheard in 
the streets of Elgin discussing the fact. One of them 
said, "Ay, she may prosper, for she has baith the 
prayers of the good and of the bad." 

The second anecdote is a delightful illustration of 
Mrs. Hamilton s Cottagers of Gleriburnie, and of the old- 
fashioned Scottish pride in the midden. About twenty 
years ago, under the apprehension of cholera, commit 
tees of the most influential inhabitants of the county 
of Moray were formed to enforce a more complete 
cleansing of its towns and villages, and to induce the 
cottagers to remove their dunghills or dung-pits from 
too close a proximity to their doors or windows. One 
determined woman, on the outskirts of the town of 
Forres, no doubt with her future potato crop in view, 
met the M.P. who headed one of these committees, 
thus, l Noo, Major, ye may tak our lives, but ye ll no 
tak our middens." 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 171 

The truth is, many of the peculiarities which marked 
Scottish society departed with the disuse of the Scot 
tish dialect in the upper ranks. I recollect a familiar 
example of this, which I may well term a Reminis 
cence. At a party assembled in a county house, the 
Earl of Elgin (grandfather of the present Earl) came 
up to the tea-table, where Mrs. Forbes of Medwyn, 
one of the finest examples of the past Scottish lady, 
was sitting, evidently much engaged with her occupa 
tion. " You are fond of your tea, Mrs. Forbes 1 
The reply was quite a characteristic one, and a pure 
reminiscence of such a place and such interlocutors ; 
" Deed, my Lord, I wadna gie my tea for your yerl- 
dom." 

My aunt, the late Lady Burnett of Leys, was one of 
the class of Scottish ladies I have referred to ; tho 
roughly a good woman and a gentlewoman, but in 
dialect quite Scottish. For example, being shocked 
at the sharp Aberdonian pronunciation adopted by 
her children, instead of the broader Forfarshire model 
in which she had been brought up, she thus adverted 
to their manner of calling the floor of the room where 
they were playing : " What gars ye ca it * fleer ? 
canna ye ca it flure ? But I needna speak ; Sir 
Robert winna let me correc your language." 

In respect of language, no doubt, a very important 
change has taken place in Scotland during the last 
seventy years, and which, I believe, influences, in a 
greater degree than many persons would imagine, 
the turn of thought and general modes and aspects of 
society. In losing the old racy Scottish tongue, it 
seems as if much originality of character was lost. I 
suppose at one time the two countries of England and 
Scotland were considered as almost speaking different 
languages, and I suppose also, that from the period of 



172 REMINISCENCES OF 

the union of the crowns the language has been assimi 
lating. We see the process of assimilation going on, 
and ere long amongst persons of education and birth 
very little difference will be perceptible. With regard 
to that class, a great change has taken place in my 
own time. I recollect old Scottish ladies and gentle 
men who really spoke Scotch. It was not, mark me, 
speaking English with an accent. No \ it was down 
right Scotch. Every tone and every syllable was 
Scotch. For example, I recollect old Miss Erskine of 
Dun, a fine specimen of a real lady, and daughter of 
an ancient Scottish house, so speaking. Many people 
now would not understand her. She was always the 
lady, notwithstanding her dialect, and to none could 
the epithet vulgar be less appropriately applied. I 
speak of more than forty years ago, and yet I recollect 
her accost to me as well as if it were yesterday : " I 
didna ken ye were i the toun." Taking word and 
accents together, an address how totally unlike what 
we now meet with in society. Some of the old Scot 
tish words which we can remember are charming; 
but how strange they would sound to the ears of the 
present generation! Fancy that in walking from 
church, and discussing the sermon, a lady of rank 
should now express her opinion of it by the description 
of its being, " but a hummelcorn discourse." Many 
living persons can remember Angus old ladies who 
would say to their nieces and daughters, " Whatna 
hummeldoddie o a mutch hae ye gotten 1 meaning 
a flat and low-crowned cap. In speaking of the dry- 
ness of the soil on a road in Lanarkshire, a farmer 
said, " It stoors in an oor." * How would this be as 

* Stoor is, Scottice, dust in motion, and has no English syno 
nym ; oor is hour. Sir Walter Scott is said to have advised au 



A LOWLAND COTTAGE 

From a water-colour drawing by 

HENRY W. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., K.SJf . 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 173 

tersely translated into English? The late Duchess 
of Gordon sat at dinner next an English gentleman 
who was carving, and who made it a boast that he 
was thoroughly master of the Scottish language. Her 
Grace turned to him and said, " Kax me a spaul o 
that bubbly jock."* The unfortunate man was com 
pletely nonplussed. A Scottish gentleman was enter 
taining at his house an English cousin who professed 
himself as rather knowing in the language of the north 
side of the Tweed. He asked him what he supposed 
to be the meaning of the expression, " ripin the ribs."t 
To which he readily answered, " Oh, it describes a 
very fat man." I profess myself an out-and-out 
Scotchman. I have strong national partialities call 
them if you will national prejudices. I cherish a great 
love of old Scottish language. Some of our pure 
Scottish ballad poetry is unsurpassed in any language 
for grace and pathos. How expressive, how beautiful 
are its phrases ! You can t translate them. Take an 
example of power in a Scottish expression, to describe 
with tenderness and feeling what is in human life. 
Take one of our most familiar phrases ; as thus : We 
meet an old friend, we talk over bygone days, and 
remember many who were dear to us both, once 
bright, and young, and gay, of whom some remain, 
honoured, prosperous, and happy of whom some are 
under a cloud of misfortune or disgrace some are 
broken in health and spirits some sunk into the 
grave ; we recall old familiar places old companions, 

artist, in painting a battle, not to deal with details, but to get 
up a good stoor : then put in an arm and a sword here and there, 
and leave all the rest to the imagination of the spectator. 

* Reach me a leg of that turkey. 

f Clearing ashes out of the bars of the grate. 



174 REMINISCENCES OP 

pleasures, and pursuits ; as Scotchmen our hearts are 
touched with these remembrances of 

AULD LANG SYNE. 

Match me the phrase in English. You can t translate 
it. The fitness and the beauty lie in the felicity of 
the language. Like many happy expressions, it is not 
transferable into another tongue, just like the "simplex 
munditiis of Horace, which describes the natural 
grace of female elegance, or the avrigifaw yeXafffta, of 
^Eschylus, which describes the bright sparkling of the 
ocean in the sun. 

I think the power of Scottish dialect was happily 
exemplified by the late Dr. Adam, rector of the High 
School of Edinburgh, in his translation of the Horatian 
expression " desipere in loco/ which he turned by the 
Scotch phrase "Weel-timed daflm ;" a translation, 
however, which no one but a Scotchman could appre 
ciate. The following humorous Scottish translation 
of an old Latin aphorism has been assigned to the late 
Dr. Hill of St. Andrews : " Qui bene cepit dimidium 
facti fecit" the witty Principal expressed in Scotch, 
" Weel saipet (well soaped) is half shaven." 

What mere English word could have expressed 
a distinction so well in such a case as the following? 
I heard once a lady in Edinburgh objecting to a 
preacher that she did riot understand him. Another 
lady, his great admirer, insinuated that probably he 
was too "deep for her to follow. But her ready 
answer was, " Na, na, he s no just deep, but he s 
drumly" * 

We have a testimony to the value of our Scottish 
language from a late illustrious Chancellor of the 

* Mentally confused. Muddy when applied to water. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 175 

University of Edinburgh, the force and authority of 
which no one will be disposed to question. Lord 
Brougham, in speaking of improvements upon the 
English language, makes these striking remarks : 

" The pure and classical language of Scotland must 
on no account be regarded as a provincial dialect, any 
more than French was so regarded in the reign of 
Henry V., cr Italian in that of the first Napoleon, or 
Greek under the Eoman Empire. Nor is it to be in 
any manner of way considered as a corruption of the 
Saxon ; on the contrary, it contains much of the old and 
genuine Saxon, with an intermixture from the Northern 
nations, as Danes and Norse, and some, though a small 
portion, from the Celtic. But in whatever way com 
posed, or from whatever sources arising, it is a national 
language, used by the whole people in their early 
years, by many learned and gifted persons throughout 
life, and in which are written the laws of the Scotch, 
their judicial proceedings, their ancient history ; above 
all, their poetry. 

" There can be no doubt that the English language 
would greatly gain by being enriched with a number 
both of words and of phrases, or turns of expression, 
now peculiar to the Scotch. It was by such a process 
that the Greek became the first of tongues, as well 
written as spoken. 

"Would it not afford means of enriching and improv 
ing the English language, if full and accurate glossaries 
of improved Scotch words and phrases those success 
fully used by the best writers, both in prose and 
verse were given, with distinct explanation and 
reference to authorities ? This has been done in 
France and other countries, where some dictionaries 
accompany the English, in some cases with Scotch 



176 REMINISCENCES OF 

synonyms, in others with varieties of expression." 
Installation Address, p. 63. 

The Scotch, as a people, from their more guarded 
and composed method of speaking, are not so liable 
to fall into that figure of speech for which our Irish 
neighbours are celebrated usually called the Bull ; 
some specimens, however, of that confusion of 
thought, very like a bull, have been recorded of 
Scottish interlocutors. 

Of this the two following examples have been sent 
to me by a kind friend. 

It is related of a Scottish judge (who has supplied 
several anecdotes of Scottish stories), that on going 
to consult a dentist, who, as is usual, placed him in 
the professional chair, and told his lordship that he 
must let him put his fingers into his mouth, he 
exclaimed, "Na! na! yell aiblins bite me. 11 

A Scottish laird, singularly enough the grandson of 
the learned judge mentioned above, when going his 
round to canvass for the county, at the time when the 
electors were chiefly confined to resident proprietors, 
was asked at one house where he called if he would 
not take some refreshment, hesitated, and said, "I 
doubt it s treating, and may be ca d bribery" 

But a still more amusing specimen of this figure of 
speech was supplied by an honest Highlander, in the 
days of sedan chairs. For the benefit of my young 
readers I may describe the sedan chair as a comfort 
able little carriage fixed to two poles, and carried by 
two men, one behind and one before. A dowager 
lady of quality had gone out to dinner in one of 
these " leathern conveniences," and whilst she herself 
enjoyed the hospitality of the mansion upstairs, her 
bearers were profusely entertained downstairs, and 



SCOTTISH LIFE <& CHARACTER. 177 

partook of the abundant refreshment offered to them. 
When my lady was to return, and had taken her 
place in the sedan, her bearers raised the chair, but 
she found no progress was made she felt herself 
sway first to one side, then to the other, and soon 
came bump upon the ground, when Donald behind 
was heard shouting to Donald before (for the bearers 
of sedans were always Highlanders), " Let her down, 
Donald, man, for she s drunk" 

I cannot help thinking that a change of national 
language involves to some extent change of national 
character. Numerous examples of great power in 
Scottish Phraseology, to express the picturesque, the 
feeling, the wise, and the humorous, might be taken 
from the works of Robert Burns, Ferguson, or Allan 
Eamsay, and which lose their charms altogether when 
wiseottified. The speaker certainly seems to take a 
strength and character from his words. We must 
now look for specimens of this racy and expressive 
tongue in the more retired parts of the country It 
is no longer to be found in high places. It has dis 
appeared from the social circles of our cities. I can 
not, however, omit calling my reader s attention to a 
charming specimen of Scottish prose and of Scottish 
humour of our own day, contained in a little book, 
entitled "Mystifications" by Clementina Stirling 
Graham. The scenes described in that volume are 
matters of pleasing reminiscence, and to some of us 
who still remain " will recall that blithe and winning 
face, sagacious and sincere, that kindly, cheery voice, 
that rich and quiet laugh, that mingled sense and 
sensibility, which met, and still to our happiness meet, 
in her who, with all her gifts, never gratified her 
consciousness of these powers so as to give pain to 



178 REMINISCENCES Of 

any human being."* These words, written more 
than ten years ago, might have been penned yester 
day; and those who, like myself, have had the 
privilege of seeing the authoress presiding in her 
beautiful mansion of Duntrune, will not soon forget 
how happy, how gracious, and how young, old age 
may be. 

No fears to beat away no strife to heal ; 
The past unsigned for, and the future sure." 

In my early days the intercourse with the peasantry 
of Forfarshire, Kincardineshire, and especially Deeside, 
was most amusing not that the things said were so 
much out of the common, as that the language in 
which they were conveyed was picturesque, and odd, 
and taking. And certainly it does appear to me that 
as the language grows more uniform and conventional, 
less marked and peculiar in its dialect and expressions, 
so does the character of those who speak it become 
so. I have a rich sample of Mid-Lothian Scotch 
from a young friend in the country, who describes the 
conversation of an old woman on the property as 
amusing her by such specimens of genuine Scottish 
raciness and humour. On one occasion, for instance, 
the young lady had told her humble friend that she 
was going to Ireland, and would have to undergo a 
sea voyage. " Weel, noo, ye dinna mean that ! 
Ance I thocht to gang across to tither side o* the 
Queensferry wi some ither folks to a fair, ye ken ; 
but juist whene er I pat my fit in the boat, the boat 
gae wallop, and my heart gae a loup, and I thocht 
I d gang oot o my judgment athegither ; so says I, 
Na, na, ye gang awa by yoursells to tither side, and 

* Pief&ce to 4th edition of Mystifications, by Dr. Jolin Browp. 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 179 

I ll bide here till sic times as ye come a\va back." 
When we hear our Scottish language at home, and 
spoken by our own countrymen, we are not so much 
struck with any remarkable effects ; but it takes a far 
more impressive character when heard amongst those 
who speak a different tongue, and when encountered 
in other lands. I recollect hearing the late Sir Bobert 
Liston expressing this feeling in his own case. When 
our ambassador at Constantinople, some Scotchmen 
had been recommended to him for a purpose ol 
private or of government business ; and Sir Eobert 
was always ready to do a kind thing for a country 
man. He found them out in a barber s shop, 
waiting for being shaved in turn. One came in 
rather late, and seeing he had scarcely room at the 
end of the seat, addressed his countryman, " Neebour, 
wad ye sit a bit wast ?" What strong associations 
must have been called up, by hearing in an eastern 
land such an expression in Scottish tones. 

We may observe here, that marking the course any 
person is to take, or the direction in which any 
object is to be met with, by the points of the compass, 
was a prevailing practice amongst the older Scottish 
race. There could hardly be a more ludicrous appli 
cation of the test, than was furnished by an honest 
Highlander in describing the direction which hit 
medicine would not take. Jean Gumming of Altyre, 
who, in common with her three sisters, was a true 
sceur de charite, was one day taking her rounds as 
usual, visiting the poor sick, among whom there was 
a certain Donald MacQueen, who had been some time 
confined to his bed. Miss Gumming, after asking 
him how he felt, arid finding that he was " no better." 
of course inquired if he had taken the medicine which 
she had sent him ; " Troth no, me lady," he replied. 



180 REMINISCENCES OF 

" But why not, Donald T she answered ; " it was very 
wrong ; how can you expect to get better if you do 
not help yourself with the remedies which heaven 
provides for you ?" " Fright or Frang," said Donald, 
"it wadna gang wast in spite o me." In all the 
north country, it is always said, "I m ganging east 
or west," etc., and it happened that Donald on his 
sick bed was lying east and west, his feet pointing to 
the latter direction, hence his reply to indicate that 
he could not swallow the medicine ! 

We may fancy the amusement of the officers of a 
regiment in the West Indies, at the innocent remark 
of a young lad who had just joined from Scotland. 
On meeting at dinner, his salutation to his Colonel 
was, "Anither het day, Cornal," as if "het days 
were in Barbadoes few and far between, as they were 
in his dear old stormy cloudy Scotland. Or take the 
case of a Scottish saying, which indicated at once the 
dialect and the economical habits of a hardy and 
struggling race. A young Scotchman, who had been 
some time in London, met his friend recently come up 
from the north to pursue his fortune in the great 
metropolis. On discussing matters connected with 
their new life in London, the more experienced visitor 
remarked upon the greater expenses there than in the 
retired Scottish town which they had left. "Ay," 
said the other, sighing over the reflection, " when ye 
get cheenge for a saxpence here, it s soon slippit awa ." 
I recollect a story of my father s which illustrates the 
force of dialect, although confined to the inflections of 
a single monosyllable. On riding home one evening, 
he passed a cottage or small farm-house, where there 
was a considerable assemblage of people, and an 
evident incipient merry-making for some festive 
occasion. On asking one of the lasses standing about 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHARACTER. 181 

what it was, she answered, " Ou, it s just a wedding 
o Jock Thamson and Janet Frazer." To the question, 
" Is the bride rich?" there was a plain quiet "Na." 
" Is she young]" a more emphatic and decided " Naa! 
but to the query, "Is she bonny?" a most elaborate 
and prolonged shout of " Naaa ! 

It has been said that the Scottish dialect is pecu 
liarly powerful in its use of wwels, and the following 
dialogue between a shopman and a customer has been 
given as a specimen. The conversation relates to a 
plaid hanging at the shop door 

Cus. (inquiring the material), Oo 1 (wool f) 

Shop. Ay, oo (yes, of wool). 

Cus. A oo ? (all wool ?) 

Shop. Ay, a oo (yes, all wool). 

Cus. A ae oo 1 (all same wool 1) 

Shop. Ay a ae oo (yes, all same wool). 

An amusing anecdote of a pithy and jocular reply, 
comprised in one syllable, is recorded of an eccentric 
legal Scottish functionary of the last century. An 
advocate, of whose professional qualifications he had 
formed rather a low estimate, was complaining to him 
of being passed over in a recent appointment to the 
bench, and expressed his sense of the injustice with 
which he had been treated. He was very indignant 
at his claims and merit being overlooked in their not 
choosing him for the new judge, adding with much 
acrimony, " And I can tell you they might have got a 
waur. To which, as if merely coming over the 

complainant s language again, the answer was a grave 
" Whaur 1 " t The merit of the impertinence was, that 
it sounded as if it were merely a repetition of his 
friend s last words, waur and whaur. It was as if "echo 
answered whaur T As I have said, the oddity and 
* Worse. t Where. 

T 



182 REMINISCENCES OF 

acuteness of the speaker arose from the manner of ex 
pression, not from the thing said. In fact, the same 
thing said in plain English would be mere common 
place. I recollect being much amused with a dialogue 
between a late excellent relative of mine and his 
man, the chief manager of a farm which he had just 
taken, and, I suspect in a good measure manager of the 
farmer as well. At any rate he committed to this 
acute overseer all the practical details ; and on the 
present occasion had sent him to market to dispose of 
a cow and a pony, a simple enough transaction, and 
with a simple enough result. The cow was brought 
back, the pony was sold. But the man s description 
of it forms the point. " Well, John, have you sold 
the cow ? " Na, but I grippit a chiel for the powny ! " 
" Grippit was here most expressive. Indeed, this 
word has a significance hardly expressed by any 
English one, and used to be very prevalent to indicate 
keen and forcible tenacity of possession ; thus a 
character noted for avarice or sharp looking to self- 
interest was termed " grippy." In mechanical contriv 
ances, anything taking a close adherence was called 
having a gude grip. I recollect in boyish days, when 
on Deeside taking wasp-nests, an old man looking on 
was sharply stung by one, and his description was, 
" Ane o 7 them s grippit me fine." The following had 
an indescribable piquancy, which arose from the Scot 
ticism of the terms and the manners. Many years ago, 
when accompanying a shooting party on the Gram 
pians, not with a gun like the rest, but with a bota 
nical box for collecting specimens of mountain plants, 
the party had got very hot, and very tired, and very 
cross. On the way home, whilst sitting down to rest, 
a gamekeeper sort of attendant, and a character in his 
way, said, " I wish I was in the dining-room of Fasque." 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 183 

Our good cousin the Kev. Mr. Wilson, minister of 
Farnel, who liked well a quiet shot at the grouse, rather 
testily replied. " Ye d soon be Jrickit out o that ; to 
which the other replied, not at all daunted, "Weel, 
weel, then I wadna be far frae the kitchen." A quaint 
and characteristic reply I recollect from another farm- 
servant. My eldest brother had just been con 
structing a piece of machinery which was driven by 
a stream of water running through the home farm 
yard. There was a thrashing machine, a winnowing 
machine, and circular saw for splitting trees into pal 
ing, and other contrivances of a like kind. Observing 
an old man, who had long been about the place, look 
ing very attentively at all that was going on, he 
said, " Wonderful things people can do now, Robby ! 
" Ay," said Robby ; " indeed, Sir Alexander, I m think 
ing gin Solomon were alive noo he d be thocht nae- 
thing o ! " 

The two following derive their force entirely from 
the Scottish turn of the expressions. Translated into 
English, they would lose all point at least, much of 
the point which they now have : 

At the sale of an antiquarian gentleman s effects in 
Roxburghshire, which Sir Walter Scott happened to 
attend, there was one little article, a Roman patina, 
which occasioned a good deal of competition, and was 
eventually knocked down to the distinguished baronet 
at a high price. Sir Walter was excessively amused 
during the time of bidding to observe how much it 
excited the astonishment of an old woman, who had 
evidently come there to buy culinary utensils on a 
more economical principle. "If the parritch-pan," 
she at last burst out " If the parritch-pan gangs at 
that, what will the kail-pat gang for ? " 

An ancestor of Sir Walter Scott joined the Stuart 



184 REMINISCENCES OF 

Prince in 1715, and, with his brother, was engaged 
in that unfortunate adventure which ended in a skir 
mish and captivity at Preston. It was the fashion of 
those times for all persons of the rank of gentlemen 
to wear scarlet waistcoats. A ball had struck one of 
the brothers, and carried part of this dress into his 
body, and in this condition he was taken prisoner with 
a number of his companions, and stripped, as was too 
often the practice in those remorseless wars. Thus 
wounded, and nearly naked, having only a shirt on, 
and an old sack about him, the ancestor of the great 
poet was sitting, along with his brother and a hun 
dred and fifty unfortunate gentlemen, in a granary at 
Preston. The wounded man fell sick, as the story 
goes, and vomited the scarlet cloth which the ball 
had passed into the wound. " man, Wattie," cried 
his brother, " if you have a wardrobe in your wame, 1 
wish you would vomit me a pair o breeks." But, 
after all, it was amongst the old ladies that the great 
abundance of choice pungent Scottish expressions, such 
as you certainly do not meet with in these days, was 
to be sought. In their position of society, education 
either in England, or education conducted by English 
teachers, has so spread in Scottish families, and inter 
course with the south has been so increased, that all 
these colloquial peculiarities are fast disappearing. 
Some of the ladies of this older school felt some in 
dignation at the change which they lived to see was 
fast going on. One of them being asked if an indi 
vidual whom she had lately seen was " Scotch," an 
swered with some bitterness, " I canna say ; ye a 
speak sae genteel now that I dinna ken wha s Scotch." 
It was not uncommon to find, in young persons, 
examples, some years ago, of an attachment to the 
Scottish dialect, like that of the old lady. In the 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 185 

life of P. Tytler, lately published, there is an account 
of his first return to Scotland from a school in Eng 
land. His family were delighted with his appearance, 
manners, and general improvement ; but a sister did 
not share this pleasure unmixed, for being found in 
tears, and the remark being made, " Is he not charm 
ing 1 her reply was, in great distress. " Oh yes, but 
he speaks English ! 

The class of old Scottish ladies, marked by so many 
peculiarities, generally lived in provincial towns, and 
never dreamt of going from home. Many had never 
been in London, or had even crossed the Tweed. 
But as Lord Cockburn s experience goes back further 
than mine, and as he had special opportunities of 
being acquainted with their characteristic peculiarities 
I will quote his animated description at page 57 of his 
Memorials. " There was a singular race of old Scotch 
ladies. They were a delightful set strong-headed, 
warm-hearted, and high-spirited merry even in soli 
tude ; very resolute ; indifferent about the modes and 
habits of the modern world, and adhering to their 
own ways, so as to stand out like primitive rocks 
above ordinary society. Their prominent qualities of 
sense, humour, affection, and spirit, were embodied in 
curious outsides, for they all dressed, and spoke, 
and did exactly as they chose. Their language, like 
their habits, entirely Scotch, but without any other 
vulgarity than what perfect naturalness is sometimes 
mistaken for."* 

This is a masterly description of a race now all but 
passed away. I have known several of them in my 
early days ; and amongst them we must look for the 
racy Scottish peculiarities of diction and of expression 
which, with them, are also nearly gone. Lord 

Lord Cockburzi s Memorials, p. 68. 



18t> REMINISCENCES OF 

Cockburn has given some illustrations of these pecu 
liarities ; and I have heard others, especially connected 
with Jacobite partialities, of which I say nothing, as 
they are in fact rather strong for such a work as this. 
One, however, I heard lately as coming from a Forfar- 
shire old lady of this class, which bears upon the point 
of " resolute " determination referred to in the learned 
judge s description. She had been very positive in 
the disclaiming of some assertion which had been 
attributed to her, and on being asked if she had not 
written it, or something very like it, she replied, " Na, 
na; I never write onything of consequence I may 
deny what I say, but I canna deny what I write." 

Mrs. Baird of Newbyth, the mother of our dis 
tinguished countryman the late General Sir David 
Baird, was always spoken of as a grand specimen of 
the class. When the news arrived f.om India of the 
gallant but unfortunate action of 84 against Hyder 
Ali, in which her son, then Captain Baird, was engaged, 
it was stated that he and other officers had been taken 
prisoners and chained together two and two. The 
friends were careful in breaking such sad intelligence 
to the mother of Captain Baird. When, however, 
she was made fully to understand the position of her 
son and his gallant companions, disdaining all weak 
and useless expressions of her own grief, and knowing 
well the restless and athletic habits of her son, all 
she said was, " Lord pity the chiel that s chained to 
our Davie ! 

It is only due to the memory of " our Davie," how 
ever, to add that the " chiel " to whom he was chained, 
had, in writing home to his friends, borne the highest 
testimony to the kindness and consideration of 
Captain Baird, which he exercised towards him in 
this uncomfortable alliance. General Baird was a first- 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 187 

rate officer, and a fine noble character. He left home 
for active service so soon (before he was fifteen) that 
his education had necessarily been very imperfect. 
This deficiency he had always himself through life 
deeply regretted. A military friend, and great 
admirer of Sir David, used jocularly to tell a story of 
him that having finished the despatch which must 
carry home the news of his great action, the capture 
of Seringapatam, as he was preparing to sign it in 
great form, he deliberately took off his coat. "Why 
do you take off your coat 1 ? said his friend. To 
which the General quietly answered, " Oh, it s to turn 
the muckle D in Dauvid." 

The ladies of this class had certainly no affectation 
in speaking of those who came under their displeasure, 
even when life and death were concerned. I had an 
anecdote illustrative of this characteristic in a well- 
known old lady of the last century, Miss Johnstone 
of Westerhall. She had been extremely indignant 
that, on the death of her brother, his widow had 
proposed to sell off the old furniture of Westerhall. 
She was attached to it from old associations, and 
considered the parting with it little short of sacrilege. 
The event was, however, arrested by death, or, as she 
describes the result, " The furniture was a to be roupit, 
and we couldna persuade her. But before the sale 
cam on, in God s gude providence she just clinldt aff 
hersell." Of this same Miss Johnstone another 
characteristic anecdote has been preserved in the 
family. She came into possession of Hawkhill, near 
Edinburgh, and died there. When dying, a tremendous 
storm of rain and thunder came on, so as to shake 
the house. In her own quaint eccentric spirit, and 
with no thought of profane or light allusions, she 
looked up, and, listening to the storm, quietly 



188 REMINISCENCES OF 

remarked, in reference to her departure, " Ech, sirs ! 
what a nicht for me to be fleein through the air ! " 
Of fine acute sarcasm I recollect hearing an expres 
sion from a modern sample of the class, a charming 
character, but only to a certain degree answering to 
the description of the older generation. Conversation 
turning, and with just indignation, on the infidel 
remarks which had been heard from a certain indi 
vidual, and on his irreverent treatment of Holy 

i 

Scripture, all that this lady condescended to say of 
him was, " Gey impudent of him, I think." 

A recorded reply of old Lady Perth to a French 
gentleman is quaint and characteristic. They had 
been discussing the respective merits of the cookery 
of each country. The Frenchman offended the old 
Scottish peeress by some disparaging remarks on 
Scottish dishes, and by highly preferring those of 
France. All she would answer was, " Weel, weel, 
some fowk like parritch and some like paddocks." * 

Of this older race the ladies who were aged, fifty 
years ago no description could be given in bolder or 
stronger outline than that which I have quoted from 
Lord Cockburn. I would pretend to nothing more 
than giving a few further illustrative details from my 
own experience, which may assist the representation 
by adding some practical realities to the picture. 

Several of them whom I knew in my early days cer 
tainly answered to many of the terms made use of by 
his lordship. Their language and expressions had a 
zest and peculiarity which are gone, and which would 
not, I fear, do for modern life and times. 

I have spoken of Miss Erskine of Dun, which is 
near Montrose. She, however, resided in Edinburgh. 
But those I knew best had lived many years in the 

* Frogs. 



THE MUTCH 
From a water-colour drawing by 

HENRY W. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., R.S.W. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 189 

then retired society of a country town. Some were 
my own relations ; and in boyish days (for they had 
not generally much patience with boys) were looked 
up to with considerable awe as very formidable 
personages. Their characters and modes of expression 
in many respects remarkably corresponded with Lord 
Cockburn s idea of the race. There was a dry 
Scottish humour which we fear their successors do 
not inherit. One of these Montrose ladies, Miss Nelly 
Fullerton, had many anecdotes told of her quaint 
ways and sayings. Walking in the street one day, 
slippery from frost, she fairly fell down. A young 
officer with much politeness came forward and picked 
her up, earnestly asking her at the same time. " I hope 
ma am, you are no worse?" to which she very drily 
answered, looking at him very steadily. " Deed, sir, 
I m just as little the better." A few days after, she 
met her military supporter in a shop. He was a fine 
tall youth, upwards of six feet high, and by way of 
making some grateful recognition for his late polite 
attention, she eyed him from head to foot, and as she 
was of the opinion of the old Scotch lady who de 
clared she " aye liked bonny fowk," she viewed her 
young friend with much satisfaction, but which she 
only evinced by the quaint remark, " Od, ye re a lang 
lad ; God gie ye grace." 

I had from a relative or intimate friend of two 
sisters of this school, well known about Glasgow, an 
odd account of what it seems, from their own statement, 
had passed between them at a country house, where 
they had attended a sale by auction. As the business 
of the day went on, a dozen of silver spoons had to 
be disposed of; and before they were put up for 
competition, they were, according to the usual custom, 
handed round for inspection to the company. When 



190 REMINISCENCES OF 

returned into the hands of the auctioneer, he found 
only eleven. In great wrath, he ordered the door to 
be shut, that no one might escape, and insisted on 
every one present being searched to discover the 
delinquent. One of the sisters, in consternation, 
whispered to the other, " Esther, ye hae nae gotten 
the spune 1 to which she replied, " Na ; but I hae 
gotten Mrs. Siddons in my pocket." She had been 
struck by a miniature of the great actress, and had 
quietly pocketed it. The cautious reply of the sister 
was, " Then just drop her, Esther." One of the sister 
hood, a connection of my own, had much of this dry 
Scottish humour. She had a lodging in the house of 
a respectable grocer ; and on her niece most innocently 
asking, " if she was not very fond of her landlord," 
in reference to the excellence of her apartments and 
the attention he paid to her comfort, she demurred 
to the question on the score of its propriety, by reply 
ing, "Fond of my landlord! that would be an 
unaccountable fondness." 

An amusing account was given of an interview and 
conversation between this lady and the provost of 
Montrose. She had demurred at paying some muni 
cipal tax with which she had been charged, and the 
provost, anxious to prevent her getting into difficulty 
on the subject, kindly called to convince her of the 
fairness of the claim, and the necessity of paying it. 
In his explanation he referred back to his own bachelor 
days when a similar payment had been required from 
him. " I assure you, ma am," he said, " when I was 
in your situation I was called upon in a similar way 
for this tax;" to which she replied, in quiet scorn, 
" In my situation ! an whan were ye in my situation *? 
an auld maid leevin in a flat wi an ae lass." 
But the complaints of such imposts were urged in a 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 191 

very humorous manner by another Montrose old lady, 
Miss Helen Carnegy of Craigo ; she hated paying 
taxes, and always pretended to misunderstand their 
nature. One day, receiving a notice of such payment 
signed by the provost (Thorn), she broke out : " I 
dinna understand thae taxes ; but I just think that 
when Mrs. Thorn wants a new gown, the provost sends 
me a tax paper ! The good lady s naive rejection 
of the idea that she could be in any sense " fond of 
her landlord," already referred to, was somewhat in 
unison with a similar feeling recorded to have been ex 
pressed by the late Mr. Wilson, the celebrated Scottish 
vocalist. He was taking lessons from the late Mr. 
Finlay Dun, one of the most accomplished musicians 
of the day. Mr. Dun had just returned from Italy, 
and, impressed with admiration of the deep pathos, 
sentiment, and passion of the Italian school of music, 
he regretted to find in his pupil so lovely a voice and 
so much talent losing much of its effect for want of 
feeling. Anxious, therefore, to throw into his friend s 
performance something of the Italian expression, he 
proposed to bring it out by this suggestion : " Now, 
Mr. Wilson, just suppose that I am your lady love, 
and sing to me as you could imagine yourself doing 
were you desirous of impressing her with your earnest 
ness and affection." Poor Mr. Wilson hesitated, 
blushed, and, under doubt how far such a personifi 
cation even in his case was allowable, at last remon 
strated, " Ay, Mr. Dun, ye forget I m a married man !" 
A case has been reported of a country girl, how 
ever, who thought it possible there might be an 
excess in such scrupulous regard to appearances. On 
her marriage-day, the youth to whom she was about 
to be united said to her in a triumphant ton, " Weel, 
Jenny, haven t I been unco ceevilf alluding to the 



192 REMINISCENCES OF 

fact that during their whole courtship he had never 
even given her a kiss. Her quiet reply was, " Ou, ay, 
man ; senselessly ceevil." 

One of these Montrose ladies and a sister lived 
together ; and in a very quiet way they were in the 
habit of giving little dinner-parties, to which occasion 
ally they invited their gentlemen friends. However, 
gentlemen were not always to be had ; and on one 
occasion, when such a difficulty had occurred, they 
were talking over the matter with a friend. The 
one lady seemed to consider such an acquisition, almost 
essential to the having a dinner at all. The other, 
who did not see the same necessity, quietly adding, 
<; But, indeed, oor Jean thinks a man perfect salvation. " 

Very much of the same class of remarks was the 
following sly observation of one of the sisterhood. 
At a well-known tea-table in a country town in Forfar- 
shire, the events of the day, grave and gay, had been 
fully discussed by the assembled sisterhood. The 
occasion was improved by an elderly spinster, as 
follows : " Weel, weel, sirs, these are solemn events 
death and marriage but ye ken they re what we 
must a* come till." " Eh, Miss Jeany ! ye have been 
lang spared," was the arch reply of a younger member. 
There was occasionally a pawky semi-sarcastic 
humour in the replies of some of the ladies we speak 
of, that was quite irresistible, of which I have from a 
friend a good illustration in an anecdote well known 
at the time. A late well-known member of the 
Scottish bar, when a youth, was somewhat of a dandy, 
and, I suppose, somewhat short and sharp in his 
temper. He was going to pay a visit in the country, 
and was making a great fuss about his preparing and 
putting up his habiliments. His old aunt was much 
annoyed at all this bustle, and stopped him by the 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 133 

somewhat contemptuous question, " Whar s this you re 
gaun, Robby, that ye mak sic a grand wark about yer 
claes?" The young man lost temper, and pettishly 
replied, " I m going to the devil." " Deed, Eobby, then," 
was the quiet answer, " ye needna be sae nice, he ll 
juist tak ye as ye arc. 

Ladies of this class had a quiet mode of expressing 
themselves on very serious subjects, which indicated 
their quaint power of description, rather than their 
want of feeling. Thus, of two sisters, when one had 
died, it was supposed that she had injured herself by 
an imprudent indulgence in strawberries and cream, 
of which she had partaken in the country. A friend 
was condoling with the surviving sister, and, express 
ing her sorrow, had added, " I had hoped your sister 
was to live many years." To which her relative 
replied " Leeve ! hoo could she leeve 1 she juist 
felled * hersell at Craigo wi straeberries and ream ! 
However, she spoke with the same degree of coolness 
of her own decease. For when her friend was com 
forting her in illness, by the hopes that she would, 
after winter, enjoy again some of their country spring 
butter, she exclaimed, without the slightest idea of 
being guilty of any irreverence, " Spring butter ! by 
that time I shall be buttering in heaven." When 
really dying, and when friends were round her bed 
she overheard one of them saying to another, " Her 
face has lost its colour ; it grows like a sheet of paper." 
The quaint spirit even then broke out in the remark, 
" Then I m sure it maun be broon paper." A very 
strong-minded lady of the class, and, in Lord Cock- 
burn s language, " indifferent about modes and 
habits,"+ had been asking from a lady the character 
of a cook she was about to hire. The lady naturally 
* Killed. t Miss Jenny Methven. 



104 REMINISCENCES OF 

entered a little upon her moral qualifications, and 
described her as a very decent woman ; the response 
to which was, " Oh, d n her decency ; can she make 
good collops ? " -an answer which would somewhat 
surprise a lady of Moray Place now, if engaged in a 
similar discussion of a servant s merits. 

The Rev. Dr. Cook of Haddington supplies an 
excellent anecdote, of which the point is in the dry 
Scottish answer: An old lady of the Doctor s 
acquaintance, about seventy, sent for her medical 
attendant to consult him about a sore throat, which 
had troubled her for some days. Her medical man 
was ushered into her room, decked out with the now 
prevailing fashion, a mustache and flowing beard. 
The old lady, after exchanging the usual civilities, 
described her complaint to the worthy son of 
^Esculapius. "Well," says he, "do you know, Mrs. 
Macfarlane, I used to be much affected with the 
very same kind of sore throat, but ever since I 
allowed my mustache and beard to grow, I have 
never been troubled with it." " Aweel, aweel," said 
the old lady drily, "that may be the case, but ye 
maun prescribe some other method for me to get quit 
o the sair throat ; for ye ken, doctor, I canna adopt 
that cure." 

Then how quaint the answer of old Mrs. Robison, 
widow of the eminent professor of natural philosophy, 
and who entertained an inveterate dislike to every 
thing which she thought savoured of cant. She had 
invited a gentleman to dinner on a particular day, 
and he had accepted, with the reservation, " If I am 
spared." "Weel, weel," said Mrs. Robison; "if ye re 
deed, I ll no expect ye." 

I had two grand-aunts living at Montrose at that 
time two Miss Ramsays of Balmain. They were 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 195 

somewhat of the severe class Nelly especially, who 
was an object rather of awe than of affection. She 
certainly had a very awful appearance to young 
apprehensions, from the strangeness of her headgear. 
Ladies of this class Lord Cockburn has spoken of as 
" having their peculiarities embodied in curious out- 
sides, as they dressed, spoke, and did exactly as 
they chose." As a sample of such " curious outside 
and dress," my good aunt used to go about the house 
with an immense pillow strapped over her head 
warm but formidable. These two maiden grand-aunts 
had invited their niece to pay them a visit an aunt 
of mine, who had made what they considered a very 
imprudent marriage, and where considerable pecuniary 
privations were too likely to accompany the step she 
had taken. The poor niece had to bear many a 
taunt directed against her improvident union, as for 
example : One day she had asked for a piece of tape 
for some work she had in hand as a young wife 
expecting to become a mother. Miss Nelly said, 
with much point, "Ay, Kitty, ye shall get a bit 
knittin (i.e. a bit of tape). We hae a thing; we re 
no married." It was this lady who, by an inadvertent 
use of a term, showed what was passing in her mind 
in a way which must have been quite transparent to 
the bystanders. At a supper which she was giving, 
she was evidently much annoyed at the reckless and 
clumsy manner in which a gentleman was operating 
upon a ham which was at table, cutting out great 
lumps, and distributing them to the company. The lady 
said, in a very querulous tone, " Oh, Mr. Divot, will 
you help Mrs. So and So ?" divot being a provincial 
term for a turf or sod cut out of the green, and the 
resemblance of it to the pieces carved out by the 
gentleman evidently having taken possession of her 



196 REMINISCENCES OF 

imagination. Mrs. Helen Carnegy of Craigo, already 
mentioned, was a thorough specimen of this class. 
She lived in Montrose, and died in 1818, at the 
advanced age of ninety-one. She was a Jacobite, and 
very aristocratic in her feelings, but on social terms with 
many burghers of Montrose, or Munross as it was 
called. She preserved a very nice distinction of 
addresses, suited to the different individuals in the 
town, according as she placed them in the scale of 
her consideration. She liked a party at quadrille, 
and sent out her servant every morning to invite the 
ladies required to make up the game, and her direc 
tions were graduated thus : " Nelly, ye ll gang to 
Lady Carnegy s, and mak my compliments, and ask 
the honour of her ladyship s company, and that of the 
Miss Carnegys, to tea this evening ; and if they canna 
come, ging to the Miss Mudies, and ask the pleasure 
of their company ; and if they canna come, ye may 
ging to Miss Hunter and ask the favour of her com 
pany ; and if she canna come, ging to Lucky Spark 
and bid her come." 

A great confusion existed in the minds of some of 
those old-fashioned ladies on the subject of modern 
inventions and usages. A Montrose old lady pro 
tested against the use of steam-vessels, as counteracting 
the decrees of Providence in going against wind and 
tide, vehemently asserting, " I would hae naething to 
say to thae im-pious vessels." Another lady was 
equally discomposed by the introduction of gas, 
asking, with much earnestness, " What s to become o 
the puir whales?" deeming their interests materially 
affected by this superseding of their oil. A lady of 
this class, who had long lived in country retirement, 
coming up to Edinburgh, was, after an absence of 
many years, going along Princes Street about the 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 197 

time when the water-carts were introduced for pre 
venting the dust, and seeing one of them passing, 
rushed from off the pavement to the driver, saying, 
" Man, ye re skailiri a the water." Such being her 
ignorance of modern improvements. 

There used to be a point and originality in expres 
sions made use of in regard to common matters, 
unlike what one finds now ; for example : A country 
minister had been invited, with his wife, to dine and 
spend the night at the house of one of his lairds. 
Their host was very proud of one of the very large 
beds which had just come into fashion, and in the 
morning asked the lady how she had slept in it. 
" Oh, vary well, sir ; but, indeed, I thought I d lost 
the minister athegither." 

Nothing, however, in my opinion, comes up to the 
originality and point of the Montrose old maiden 
lady s most " exquisite reason " for not subscribing to 
the proposed fund for organising a volunteer corps 
in that town. It was at the time of expected 
invasion at the beginning of the century, and some 
of the town magistrates called upon her and solicited 
her subscription to raise men for the service of the 
king "Indeed," she answered right sturdily, "I ll 
dae nae sic thing ; I ne er could raise a man for mysell, 
and I m no ga in to raise men for King George." 

Some curious stories are told of ladies of this 
class, as connected with the novelties and excitement 
of railway travelling. Missing their luggage, or find 
ing that something has gone wrong about it, often 
causes very terrible distress, and might be amusing, 
were it not to the sufferer so severe a calamity. I 
was much entertained with the earnestness of this 
feeling, and the expression of it from an old Scotch 
lady whose box was not forthcoming at the station 

u 



198 REMINISCENCES OF 

where she was to stop. When urged to be patient, 
her indignant exclamation was "I can bear ony 
pairtings that may be ca ed for in God s providence ; 
but I canna stari pairtiri frae my claes" 

The following anecdote from the west exhibits a 
curious confusion of ideas arising from the old- 
fashioned prejudice against Frenchmen and their 
language, which existed in the last generation. 
During the long French war, two old ladies in 
Stranraer were going to the kirk ; the one said to 
the other, "Was it no a wonderfu thing that the 
Breetish were aye victorious ower the French in 
battle?" " Not a bit," said the other old lady ; "dinna 
ye ken the Breetish aye say their prayers before ga in 
into battle?" The other replied, "But canna the 
French say their prayers as weelT The reply was 
most characteristic, " Hoot ! jabbering bodies, wha 
could understari them?" 

Some of these ladies, as belonging to the old county 
families, had very high notions of their own impor 
tance, and a great idea of their difference from the 
burgher families of the town. I am assured of the 
truth of the following naive specimen of such family 
pride : One of the olden maiden ladies of Montrose 
called one day on some ladies of one of the families 
in the neighbourhood, and on being questioned as to 

the news of the town, said, " News ! oh, Bailie s 

eldest son is to be married." " And pray," was the 

reply, " and pray, Miss , an fa ever heard o a 

merchant i the toon o Montrose ha in an eldest son ? 
The good lady thought that any privilege of primo 
geniture belonged only to the family of laird. 

It is a dangerous experiment to try passing off 
ungrounded claims upon characters of this description 
Many a clever sarcastic reply is on record frou/ 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 199 

Scottish ladies, directed against those who wished to 
impose upon them some false sentiment. I often 
think of the remark of the outspoken ancient lady, 
who, when told by her pastor, of whose disinterested 
ness in his charge she was not quite sure, that he 
"had a call from his Lord and Master to go," replied 
" Deed, sir, the Lord micht hae ca ed and ca ed to 
ye lang eneuch to Ouchtertoul (a very small stipend), 
and ye d ne er hae letten on that ye heard him." 

At the beginning of this century, when the fear of 
invasion was rife, it was proposed to mount a small 
battery at the water-mouth by subscription, and Miss 
Carnegy was waited on by a deputation from the 
town-council. One of them having addressed her on 
the subject, she heard him with some impatience, and 
when he had finished, she said, "Are ye ane o the 
toon-cooncil. He replied, "I have that honour, 
ma am." To which she rejoined, " Ye may hae that 
profit, but honour ye hae nane ; and then to the 
point, she added, " But I ve been tell t that ae day s 
wark o twa or three men wad mount the cannon, 
and that it may be a dune for twenty shillings ; now 
there s twa punds to ye." The councillor pocketed 
the money and withdrew. On one occasion, as she 
sat in an easy chair, having assumed the habits and 
privileges of age, Mr. Mollison, the minister of the 
Established Kirk, called on her to solicit for some 
charity. She did not like being asked for money, 
and, from her Jacobite principles, she certainly did 
not respect the Presbyterian Kirk. When he came 
in she made an inclination of the head, and he said, 
"Don t get up, madam." She replied, "Get up! I 
wadna rise out o my chair for King George himsell, 
let abee a whig minister." 

This was plain speaking enough, but there is 



200 REMINISCENCES OF 

something quite inimitable in the matter-of-factness 
of the following story of an advertisement, which 
may tend to illustrate the Antiquary s remark to Mrs. 
Macleuchar, anent the starting of a coach or fly to 
Queensferry. A carrier, who plied his trade between 
Aberdeen and a village considerably to the north of 
it, was asked by one of the villagers, "Fan are ye 
gaen to the toon ? " (Aberdeen). To which he replied, 

" I ll be in on Monandav, God willin and weather 

/ 

permittin , an on Tiseday, fither or no. 

It is a curious subject the various shades of Scottish 
dialect and Scottish expressions, commonly called 
Scotticisms. We mark in the course of fifty years 
how some disappear altogether ; others become more 
and more rare, and of all of them we may say, I 
think, that the specimens of them are to be looked 
for every year more in the descending classes of 
society. What was common amongst peers, judges, 
lairds, advocates, and people of family and education, 
is now found in humbler ranks of life. There are 
few persons perhaps who have been born in Scotland, 
and who have lived long in Scotland, whom a nice 
southern ear might not detect as from the north. 
But far beyond such nicer shades of distinction, there 
are strong and characteristic marks of a Caledonian 
origin, with which some of us have had practical 
acquaintance. I possess two curious, and now, I 
believe, rather scarce, publications on the prevalent 
Scotticisms of our speaking and writing. One is 
entitled "Scotticisms designed to Correct Impro 
prieties of Speech and Writing," by Dr. Beattie of 
Aberdeen. The other is to the same purpose, and is 
entitled, " Observations on the Scottish Dialect," by 
the late Right Honourable Sir John Sinclair. Ex 
pressions which were common in their days, and used 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 201 

by persons of all ranks, are not known by the rising 
generation. Many amusing equivoques used to be 
current, arising from Scotch people in England ap 
plying terms and expressions in a manner rather sur 
prising to southern ears. Thus, the story was told 
of a public character long associated with the affairs 
of Scotland, Henry Dun das (first Viscount Melville), 
applying to Mr. Pitt for the loan of a horse " the length 
of Highgate ; " a very common expression in Scotland, 
at that time, to signify the distance to which the ride 
was to extend. Mr. Pitt good-humouredly wrote 
back to say that he was afraid he had not a horse in 
his possession quite so long as Mr. Dundas had men 
tioned, but he had sent the longest he had. There 
is a well-known case of mystification, caused to 
English ears by the use of Scottish terms, which took 
place in the House of Peers during the examination 
of the Magistrates of Edinburgh touching the parti 
culars of the Porteous Mob in 1736. The Duke of 
Newcastle having asked the Provost with what kind 
of shot the town-guard commanded by Porteous had 
loaded their muskets, received the unexpected reply, 
" Ou, juist sic as ane shutes dukes and sic like fules 
wi ." The answer was considered as a contempt of the 
House of Lords, and the poor provost would have 
suffered from misconception of his patois, had not the 
Duke of Argyle (who must have been exceedingly 
amused) explained that the worthy magistrate s ex 
pression, when rendered into English, did not apply 
to Peers and Idiots but to ducks and water-fowl. The 
circumstance is referred to by Sir W. Scott in the 
notes to the Heart of Mid-Lothian. A similar 
equivoque upon the double meaning of "Deuk in 
Scottish language supplied material for a poor woman s 
honest compliment to a benevolent Scottish noble- 



202 REMINISCENCES OF 

man. John, Duke of Koxburghe, was one day out 
riding, and at the gate of Floors he was accosted by 
an importunate old beggar woman. He gave her 
half-a-crown, which pleased her so much that she 
exclaimed, " Weel s me on your guse face, for Duke s 
ower little tae ca ye." 

A very curious list may be made of words used in 
Scotland in a sense which would be quite unintelligible 
to Southerns. Such applications are going out, but 
I remember them well amongst the old-fashioned 
people of Angus and the Mearns quite common in 
conversation. I subjoin some specimens : 

Bestial signifies amongst Scottish agriculturists 
cattle generally, the whole aggregate number of beasts 
on the farm. Again, a Scottish farmer, when he 
speaks of his " hogs or of buying " hogs," has no 
reference to swine, but means young sheep, i.e. sheep 
before they have lost their first fleece. 

Discreet does not express the idea of a prudent or 
cautious person so much as of one who is not rude, 
but considerate of the opinions of others. Such 
application of the word is said to have been made by 
Dr. Chalmers to the late Henry, Bishop of Exeter. 
These two eminent individuals had met for the first 
time at the hospitable house of the late Mr. Murray, 
the publisher. On the introduction taking place, 
the Bishop expressed himself so warmly as to the 
pleasure it gave him to meet so distinguished and 
excellent a man as Dr. Chalmers, that the Doctor, 
somewhat surprised at such an unexpected ebullition 
from an English Church dignitary, could only reply, 
" Oh, I am sure your lordship is very f discreet. 7 

Enterteening has in olden Scottish usage the sense 
not of amusing, but interesting. I remember an 

* "Civil," "obliging." Jamieson. 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 203 

honest Dandle Dinmont on a visit to Bath. A lady, 
who had taken a kind charge of him, accompanied 
him to the theatre, and in the most thrilling scene 
of Kemble s acting, what is usually termed the dagger 
scene in Macbeth, she turned to the farmer with a 
whisper, " Is not that fine 1 " to which the confidential 
reply was, " Oh, mem, its verra enterteening ! Enter- 
teening expressing his idea of the effect produced. 

P-ig, in old-fashioned Scotch, was always used for 
a coarse earthenware jar or vessel. In the Life of 
the late Patrick Tytler, the amiable and gifted his 
torian of Scotland, there occurs an amusing exemplifi 
cation of the utter confusion of ideas caused by the 
use of Scottish phraseology. The family, when they 
went to London, had taken with them an old Scottish 
servant who had no notion of any terms beside her 
own. She came in one day greatly disturbed at 
the extremely backward state of knowledge of 
domestic affairs amongst the Londoners. She had 
been to so many shops and could not get "a great 
broon pig to hand the butter in." 

From a relative of the family I have received an 
account of a still worse confusion of ideas, caused by 
the inquiry of a Mrs. Chisholm of Chisholm, who 
died in London in 1825, at an advanced age. She 
had come from the country to be with her daughter, 
and was a genuine Scottish lady of the old school. 
She wished to purchase a table-cloth of a cheque 
pattern, like the squares of a chess or draught board. 
Now a draught-board used to be called (as I remember) 
by old Scotch people a " dam* brod."t Accordingly, 
Mrs. Chisholm entered the shop of a linen-draper, and 
asked to be shown table-linen a dam-brod pattern. 
The shopman, although, taken aback by a request, as 
Dam, the game of draughts. t Brod, the hoard. 



204 REMINISCENCES OF 

he considered it, so strongly worded, by a respectable 
old lady, brought down what he assured her was the 
largest and widest made. No ; that would not do. 
She repeated her wish for a dam-brod pattern, and 
left the shop surprised at the stupidity of the London 
shopman not having the pattern she asked for. 

Silly has in genuine old Scottish use reference to 
weakness of body only, and not of mind. Before 
knowing the use of the word, I remember being much 
astonished at a farmer of the Mearns telling me of 
the strongest-minded man in the county that he was 
" uncommon silly," not insinuating any decline of 
mental vigour, but only meaning that his bodily 
strength was giving way. 

Frail, in like manner, expresses infirmity of body, 
and implies no charge of any laxity in moral principle \ 
yet I have seen English persons looking with consider 
able consternation when an old-fashioned Scottish lady, 
speaking of a young and graceful female, lamented her 
being so frail. 

Fail is another instance of different use of words. 
In Scotland it used to be quite common to say of a 
person whose health and strength had declined, that he 
had failed. To say this of a person connected with 
mercantile business has a very serious effect upon 
southern ears, as implying nothing short of bankruptcy 
and ruin. I recollect many years ago at Monmouth, 
my dear mother creating much consternation in the 
mind of the mayor, by saying of a worthy man, 
the principal banker in the town, whom they both 
concurred in praising, that she was " sorry to find he 
was failing." 

Honest has in Scotch a peculiar application, irre 
spective of any integrity of moral character. It is a 
kindly mode of referring to an individual, as we would 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHARACTER. 205 

say to a stranger, " Honest man, would you tell me the 

way to ?" or as Lord Hermand, when about to 

sentence a woman for stealing, began remonstratively, 
" Honest woman, whatever garr d ye steal your neigh 
bour s tub?" 

Superstitious : A correspondent informs me that in 
some parts of Mid-Lothian the people constantly use 
the word " superstitious " for "bigoted ;" thus, speak 
ing of a very keen Free Church person, they will say, 
" He is awfu supperstitious." 

Kail in England simply expresses cabbage, but in 
Scotland represents the chief meal of the day. Hence 
the old-fashioned easy way of asking a friend to dinner 
was to ask him if he would take his kail with the 
family. In the same usage of the word, the Scottish 
proverb expresses distress and trouble in a person s 
affairs, by saying that " he has got his kail through 
the reek." In like manner haddock, in Kincardineshire 
and Aberdeenshire, used to express the same idea, as 
the expression is, " Will ye tak your haddock wi us 
the day 1" that fish being so plentiful and so excellent 
that it was a standing dish. There is this difference, 
however, in the local usage, that to say in Aberdeen, 
Will you take your haddock ? implies an invitation to 
dinner ; whilst in Montrose the same expression means 
an invitation to supper. Differences of pronunciation 
also caused great confusion and misunderstanding. 
Novels used to be pronounced novels; envy envy ; a 
cloak was a clock, to the surprise of an English lady, 
to whom the maid said, on her leaving the house, 
" Mem, winna ye tak the clock wi ye ? 

The names of children s diseases were a remarkable 
item in the catalogue of Scottish words : Thus, in 
1775, Mrs. Betty Muirheid kept a boarding-school for 
young ladies in the Trongate of Glasgow, near the Tron 



20(5 REMINISCENCES 0V 

steeple. A girl on her arrival was asked whether she 
had had smallpox. " Yes, mem, I ve had the sma pox, 
the nirls,* the blabs, t the scaw,t the kinkhost, and 
the fever, the branks || and the worm." IT 

There is indeed a case of Scottish pronunciation 
which adds to the force and copiousness of our language, 
by discriminating four words, which, according to 
English speaking, are undistinguishable in mere pro 
nunciation. The words are wright (a carpenter), to 
write (with a pen), right (the reverse of wrong), rite 
(a ceremony). The four are, however, distinguished 
in old-fashioned Scotch pronunciation thus 1, He s a 
wiricht ; 2, to wireete ; 3, richt ; 4, rite. 

I can remember a peculiar Scottish phrase very com 
monly used, which now seems to have passed away. 
I mean the expression " to let on," indicating the notice 
or observation of something, or of some person. For 

example, " I saw Mr. at the meeting, but I never 

let on that I knew he was present." A form of expres 
sion which has been a great favourite in Scotland in my 
recollection has much gone out of practice I mean 
the frequent use of diminutives, generally adopted 
either as terms of endearment or of contempt. Thus 
it was very common to speak of a person whom you 
meant rather to undervalue, as a mannie, a boddie, a 
lit loddie, or a wee lit mannie. The Bailie in Rob Roy, 
when he intended to represent his party as persons 
of no importance, used the expression, " We are bits 
o Glasgow bodies." 

An admirable Scotch expression I recollect from 
one of the Montrose ladies before referred to. Her 
niece was asking a great many questions on some 
point concerning which her aunt had been giving her 

* Measles. t Nettle-rash. J The itch. 

Whooping-cough. f| Mumps. IT Toothache. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 207 

information, and coming over and over the ground, 
demanding an explanation how this had happened, 
and why something else was so and so. The old 
Aidy lost her patience, and at last burst forth : " I 
winna be back-speired noo, Pally Fullerton." Back- 
speired ! how much more pithy and expressive than 
cross-examined! "He s not a man to ride the water 
on," expresses your want of confidence and of trust 
in the character referred to. Another capital expres 
sion to mark that a person has stated a point rather 
under than over the truth, is, " The less I lee," as in 
Guy Mannering, where the precentor exclaims to 
Mrs. MacCandlish, " Aweel, gudewife, then the less I 
lee." We have found it a very amusing task collect 
ing together a number of these phrases, and forming 
them into a connected epistolary composition. We 
may imagine the sort of puzzle it would be to a 
young person of the present day one of what we 
may call the new school. We will suppose an English 
young lady, or an English educated young lady, lately 
married, receiving such a letter as the following from 
the Scottish aunt of her husband. We may suppose 
it to be written by a very old lady, who, for the last 
fifty years has not moved from home, and has 
changed nothing of her early days. I can safely 
affirm that every word of it I have either seen written 
in a letter, or have heard in ordinary conversation : 

" Montr ose, 1858.* 

"MY DEAR NIECE I am real glad to find my nevy 
has made so good a choice as to have secured you for 
his wife ; and I am sure this step will add much to 
his comfort, and we behove to rejoice at it. He will 
now look forward to his evening at home, and you 
The Scotticisms are printed in italics. 



208 RZMINISCSjrCES OF 

will be happy when you find you never want him 
It will be a great pleasure when you hear him in the 
trance, and wipe his feet upon the bass. But Willy 
is not strong, and you must look well after him. I 
hope you do not let him snuff so much as he did. 
He had a sister, poor thing, who died early. She 
was remarkably cleve$, and well read, and most 
intelligent, but was always uncommonly silly* In 
the autumn of 40 she had a sair host, and was aye 
speaking through a cold, and at dinner never did more 
than to sup a few family broth. I am afraid she did 
not change her feet when she came in from the wet 
one evening. I never let on that I observed anything 
to be wrong; but I remember asking her to come 
and sit upon the fire. But she went out, and did not 
take the door with her. She lingered till next 
spring, when she had a great income,^ and her 
parents were then too poor to take her south, and 
she died. I hope you will like the lassie Eppie we 
have sent you. She is a discreet girl, and comes of a 
decent family. She has a sister married upon a 
Seceding minister at Kirkcaldy. But I hear he 
expects to be transported soon. She was brought up 
in one of the hospitals here. Her father had been a 
souter and a pawky chiel enough, but was doited for 
many years, and her mother was sair dottled. We 
have been greatly interested in the hospital where 
Eppie was educate, and intended getting up a bazaar 
for it, and would have asked you to help us, as we were 
most anxious to raise some additional funds, when 
one of the Bailies died and left it feuing -stances to 
the amount of 5000 pounds, which was really a great 
mortification. I am not a good hand of write, and 
therefore shall stop. I am very tired, and have been 

* Delicate in health. t Ailment 



SCOTTISH LIFE 6 CHARACTER. 209 

gantiri* for this half-hour, and even in correspondence 
gantin may be smitiirt.^ The kitchent is just coming 
in, and I feel a smell of tea, so when I get my four 
hours, that will refresh me and set me up again. I 
am, your affectionate aunt, ISABEL DlNGWALL." 

This letter, then, we suppose written by a very old 
Forfarshire lady to her niece in England, and perhaps 
the young lady who received it might answer it in a 
style as strange to her aunt as her aunt s is to her, 
especially if she belonged to that lively class of our 
young female friends who indulge a little in phrase 
ology which they have imbibed from their brothers, 
or male cousins, who have, perhaps for their amuse 
ment, encouraged them in its use. The answer, then, 
might be something like this ; and without meaning 
to be severe or satirical upon our young lady friends, 
I may truly say that, though I never heard from one 
young lady all these fast terms, I have heard the 
most of them separately from many : 

" MY DEAR AUNTY Many thanks for your kind 
letter and its enclosure. From my not knowing 
Scotch, I am not quite up to the mark, and some of 
the expressions I don t twig at all. Willie is absent 
for a few days, but when he returns home he will 
explain it he is quite awake on all such things. I 
am glad you are pleased that Willie and I are now 
spliced. I am well aware that you will hear me 
spoken of in some quarters as a fast young lady. A 
man here had the impudence to say that when he 
visited my husband s friends he would tell them so. 
I quietly and civilly replied, " You be blowed ! So 
don t believe him. We get on famously at present. 
* Yawning. t Catching. $ Tea-urn. 



210 REMINISCENCES OF 

Willie comes home from the office every afternoon at 
five. We generally take a walk before dinner, and 
read and work if we don t go out ; and I assure you 
we are very jolly. We don t know many people here 
yet. It is rather a swell neighbourhood ; and if we 
can t get in with the nobs, depend upon it we will 
never take up with any society that is decidedly 
snobby. I daresay the girl you are sending will be 
very useful to us ; our present one is an awful slow 
coach. In fact, the sending her to us was a regular do. 
But we hope some day to sport buttons. My father 
and mother paid us a visit last week. The governor 
is well, and, notwithstanding years and infirmities, 
comes out quite a jolly old cove. He is, indeed, if you 
will pardon the partiality of a daughter, a regular 
brick. He says he will help us if we can t get on, 
and I make no doubt will in due time fork out the tin. 
I am busy working a cap for you, dear aunty ; it is 
from a pretty German pattern, and I think when 
finished will be quite a stunner. There is a shop in 
Regent Street where I hire patterns, and can get six 
of them for five lob. I then return them without 
buying them, which I think a capital dodge. I hope 
you will sport it for my sake at your first tea and 
turn out. 

"I have nothing more to say particular, but am 
always 

" Your affectionate niece, 1 

" ELIZA DINGWALL." 



. I am trying to break Willie off his horrid 
habit of taking snuff. I had rather see him take his 
cigar when we are walking. You will be told, I 
daresay, that I sometimes take a weed myself. It is 
not true, dear aunty." 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 211 

Before leaving the question of change in Scottish 
expressions, it may be proper to add a few words on 
the subject of Scottish dialects i.e., on the differences 
which exist in different counties or localities in the 
Scottish tongue itself. These differences used to be 
as marked as different languages ; of course they still 
exist amongst the peasantry as before. The change 
consists in their gradual vanishing from the conversa 
tion of the educated and refined. The dialects with 
which I am most conversant are the two which present 
the greatest contrast, viz. the Angus and the Aberdeen, 
or the slow and broad Scotch the quick and sharp 
Scotch. Whilst the one talks of " Buuts and shoon," 
the other calls the same articles " beets and sheen." 
With the Aberdonian "what is always " fat " 01 
" fatten ;" " music" is meesic ;" " brutes" are " breets ;" 
" What are ye duinT of southern Scotch, in Aberdeen 
would be "Fat are ye deeinT Fergusson, nearly a 
century ago, noted this peculiarity of dialect in his 
poem of The Leith Eaces : 

" The Buchan bodies through the beach, 

Their bunch of Findrams cry ; 
And skirl out bauld in Norland speech, 
Gude speldans fa will buy ? 

" Findon," or " Finnan haddies," are split, smoked, 
and partially dried haddocks. Fergusson, in using 
the word "Findrams," which is not found in our 
glossaries, has been thought to be in error, but his 
accuracy has been verified singularly enough, within 
the last few days, by a worthy octogenarian Newhaven 
fisherman, bearing the characteristic name of Flucker, 
who remarked " that it was a word commonly used 
in his youth ; and, above all," he added, "when Leith 
llaces were held on the sands, he was like to be cleeved 



212 REMINISCENCES OF 

wi the lang-tongued hizzies skirling out, A ell a Fin- 
dram Speldrains, and they jist ca ed it that to get a 
better grip o t wi their tongues." 

In Galloway, in 1684, Symson, afterwards an ousted 
Episcopalian minister (of Kirkinner), notes some 
peculiarities in the speech of the people in that district. 
" Some of the countrey people, especially those of the 
elder sort, do very often omit the letter * h * after t 
as ting for thing ; tree for three ; tatch for thatch ; 
wit for with ; fait for faith ; mout for mouth, etc. ; 
and also, contrary to some north countrey people, they 
oftentimes pronounce f w for v, as serwant for 
servant ; and so they call the months of February, 
March, and April, the ware quarter, from ver* 
Hence their common proverb, speaking of the storms 
in February, winter never comes till ware comes. 1 
These peculiarities of language have almost disappeared 
the immense influx of Irish emigrants during late 
years has exercised a perceptible influence over the 
dialect of Wigtonshire. 

When a southerner mentioned the death of a friend 
to a lady of the granite city, she asked, " Fat dee d 
he o ?" which being utterly incomprehensible to the 
person asked, another Aberdonian lady kindly ex 
plained the question, and put it into language which 
she supposed could not be mistaken, as thus, "Fat did 
he dee o ? " If there was this difference between the 
Aberdeen and the Forfar dialect, how much greater 
must be that difference when contrasted with the 
ore rotundo language of an English southern dignitary. 
Such a one being present at a school examination in 
Aberdeen wished to put some questions on Scripture 
history himself, and asked an intelligent boy, " What 

* Ver, the spring months. e.g. 

This was in ver quhen wynter tid. " Barlour. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 213 

was the ultimate fate of Pharaoh 7 " This the boy 
not understanding, the master put the same question 
Aberdonice, "Jemmy, fat was the limner end o 
Pharaoh] which called forth the ready reply, " He 
was drouned i the Red Sea." A Forfarshire parent, 
dissatisfied with his son s English pronunciation, 
remonstrated with him, " What for div ye say why ? 
why canna ye say what for "? 

The power of Scottish phraseology, or rather of 
Scottish language, could not be better displayed than 
in the following Aberdonian description of London 
theatricals : Mr. Taylor, at one time well known in 
London as having the management of the opera-house, 
had his father up from Aberdeen to visit him and see 
the wonders of the capital. When the old man re 
turned home, his friends, anxious to know the impres 
sions produced on his mind by scenes and characters 
so different from what he had been accustomed to at 
home, inquired what sort of business his son carried 
on] "Ou," said he (in reference to the operatic 
singers and the corps de ballet), "he just keeps a 
curn* o quainiest and a wheen widdyfous,! and gars 
them fissle, and loup, and mak murgeons,|| to please 
the great fowk." 

Another ludicrous interrogatory occurred regarding 
the death of a Mr. Thomas Thomson. It appeared 
there were two cousins of this name, both corpulent 
men. When it was announced that Mr. Thomas 
Thomson was dead, an Aberdeen friend of the family 
asked, " Fatten Thamas Thamson ] He was in 
formed that it was a fat Thomas Thomson, upon 
which the Aberdeen query naturally arose, " Ay, but 
fatten fat Thamas Thamson ] " Another illustration 

* A number. t Young girls. $ Gallows birds. 

Make whistling noises. || Distorted gestures. 



214 REMINISCENCES OF 

of the Aberdeen dialect is thus given : The Pope o 
Rome requires a bull to do his wark, but the Emperor 
o France made a coo dee t a " a cow do it all a 
pun on coup d dtat. A young lady from Aberdeen 
had been on a visit to Montrose, and was disappointed 
at finding there a great lack of beaux, and balls, and 
concerts. This lack was not made up to her by the 
invitations which she had received to dinner parties. 
And she thus expressed her feelings on the subject 
in her native dialect, when asked how she liked 
Montrose : " Indeed there s neither men nor meesic, 
and fat care I for meat?" There is no male society 
and no concerts, and what do I care for dinners? 
The dialect and the local feelings of Aberdeen were 
said to have produced some amusement in London, 
as displayed by the lady of the Provost of Aberdeen 
when accompanying her husband going up officially 
to the capital. Some persons to whom she had been 
introduced recommended her going to the opera as 
one of the sights worthy the attention of a stranger. 
The good lady, full of the greatness of her situation 
as wife of the provost, and knowing the sensation her 
appearance in public occasioned when in her own 
city, and supposing that a little excitement would 
accompany her with the London public, rather declined, 
under the modest plea, " Fat for should I gang to the 
opera, just to creat a confeesion ? An aunt of mine, 
who knew Aberdeen well, used to tell a traditionary 
story of two Aberdonian ladies, who by their insinua 
tions against each other, finely illustrated the force 
of the dialect then in common use. They had both 
of them been very attentive to a sick lady in declin 
ing health, and on her death each had felt a distrust 
of the perfect disinterestedness of the other s attention 
This created more than a coolness between them, and 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 215 

the bad feeling came out on their passing in the street. 
The one insinuated her suspicions of unfair dealing 
with the property of the deceased by ejaculating, as 
the other passed her, " Henny pig* and green tea," to 
which the other retorted, in the same spirit, "Silk 
coat and negligee." t Aberdonian pronunciation pro 
duced on one occasion a curious equivoque between 
the minister and a mother of a family with whom he 
was conversing in a pastoral way. The minister had 
said, "Weel, Margaret, I hope you re thoroughly 
ashamed of your sins" Now, in Aberdeenshire sons 
are pronounced sins ; accordingly, to the minister s 
surprise, Margaret burst forth, " Ashamed o ma sins ! 
na, na, I m proud o ma sins. Indeed, gin it werena 
for thae cutties o dauchters, I should be ower proud 



o ma sins. 



Any of my readers who are not much conversant 
with Aberdeen dialect will find the following a good 
specimen : A lady who resided in Aberdeen, being 
on a visit to some friends in the country, joined an 
excursion on horseback. Not being much of an 
equestrian, she was mounted upon a Highland pony 
as being the canniest baste. He, however, had a trick 
of standing still in crossing a stream. A burn had 
to be crossed the rest of the party passed on, while 
" Paddy " remained, pretending to drink. Miss More, 
in great desperation, called out to one of her friends 
" Bell, oman, turn back an gie me your bit fuppie, 
for the breet s stannin i the peel wi ma." 

A rich specimen of Aberdeen dialect, under peculiar 
circumstances, was supplied by an Aberdonian lady 
who had risen in the world from selling fruit at a stall 
to be the wife of the Lord Provost. Driving along 
in her own carriage, she ordered it to stop, and called 
Honey jar. t A kind of loose gown formerly worn. 



216 REMINISCENCES OF 

to her a poor woman whom she saw following her old 
occupation. After some colloquy, she dismissed her 
very coolly, remarking, " Deed, freet s dear sin I 
sauld freet in streets o Aberdeen." This anecdote 
of reference to a good lady s more humble occupation 
than riding in her carriage may introduce a somewhat 
analogous anecdote, in which a more distinguished 
personage than the wife of the Provost of Aberdeen 
takes a prominent part. The present Archbishop of 
Canterbury tells the story himself, with that admixture 
of humour and of true dignity by which his Grace s 
manner is so happily distinguished. The Archbishop s 
father in early life lived much at Dollar, where, I 
believe, he had some legal and official appointment. 
His sons, the Archbishop and his brother, attended 
the grammar school, rather celebrated in the coun 
try ; they ran about and played like other lads, and 
were known as schoolboys to the peasantry. In 
after days, when the Archbishop had arrived at his 
present place of dignity as Primate of all England, 
he was attending a great confirmation service at 
Croydon the churchwardens, clergy, mayors, etc., 
of the place in attendance upon the Archbishop, and 
a great congregation of spectators. On going up the 
centre of the church, a Dollar man, who had got into 
the crowd in a side aisle, said, loud enough for the 
Archbishop to hear, " There wasna muckle o this at 
Dollar, my Lord." 

I have not had leisure to pursue, as I had intended, 
a further consideration of SCOTTISH DIALECT, and their 
differences from each other in the north, south, east, 
and- west of Scotland. I merely remark now, that 
the dialect of one district is considered quite barbar 
ous, and laughed at by the inhabitants of another 
district where a different form of language is adopted. 



SCOTTISH LIFE d- CHARACTER. 21V 

I have spoken of the essential difference between 
Aberdeen and Southern Scotch. An English gentle 
man had been visiting the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, 
and accompanied him to Aberdeen. His lordship of 
Edinburgh introduced his English friend to the Provost 
of Aberdeen, and they both attended a great dinner 
given by the latter. After grace had been said, the 
Provost kindly and hospitably addressed the company, 
Aberdonice "Now, gentlemen, fah tee, fah tee." The 
Englishman whispered to his friend, and asked what 
was meant by " fah tee, fah tee ; " to which his 
lordship replied " Hout, he canna speak ; he means 
fau too, fau too." Thus one Scotticism was held in 
terror by those who used a different Scotticism : as 
at Inverary, the wife of the chief writer of the place, 
seeking to secure her guest from the taint of inferior 
society, intimated to him, but somewhat confidentially, 
that Mrs. W. (the rival writer s wife) was quite a 
mlgar body, so much so as to ask any one leaving 
the room to " snib the door," instead of bidding them, 
as she triumphantly observed, " sneck the door." 

Now, to every one who follows these anecdotes of 
a past time, it must be obvious how much peculiarities 
of Scottish wit and humour depend upon the language 
in which they are clothed. As I have before re 
marked, much of the point depends upon the broad 
Scotch with which they are accompanied. As a type 
and representative of that phraseology, we would 
specially recommend a study of our Scottish proverbs. 
In fact, in Scottish proverbs will be found an epitome 
of the Scottish phraseology, which is peculiar and 
characteristic. I think it quite clear that there are 
proverbs exclusively Scottish, and as we find embodied 
in them traits of Scottish character, and many 
peculiar forms of Scottish thought and Scottish 



218 REMINISCENCES OF 

language, sayings of this kind, once so familiar, 
should have a place in our Scottish Reminiscences. 
Proverbs are literally, in many instances, becoming 
reminiscences. They now seem to belong to that older 
generation whom we recollect, and who used them in 
conversation freely and constantly. To strengthen 
an argument or illustrate a remark by a proverb was 
then a common practice in conversation. Their use, 
however, is now considered vulgar, and their formal 
application is almost prohibited by the rules of polite 
society. Lord Chesterfield denounced the practice of 
quoting proverbs as a palpable violation of all polite 
refinement in conversation. Notwithstanding all this, 
we acknowledge having much pleasure in recalling 
our national proverbial expressions. They are full of 
character, and we find amongst them important truths, 
expressed forcibly, wisely, and gracefully. The ex 
pression of Bacon has often been quoted " The 
genius, wit, and wisdom of a nation, are discovered 
by their proverbs." 

All nations have their proverbs, and a vast number 
of books have been written on the subject. We find, 
accordingly, that collections have been made of 
proverbs considered as belonging peculiarly to 
Scotland. The collections to which I have had 
access are the following : 

1. The fifth edition, by Balfour, of "Ray s Complete 
Collection of English Proverbs," in which is a 
separate collection of those which are considered 
Scottish Proverbs 1813. Ray professes to have 
taken these from Fergusson s work mentioned below. 

2. A Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs, 
explained and made intelligible to the English reader, 
by James Kelly, M.A., published in London 172 1. 

3. Scottish Proverbs gathered together by David 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 219 

Fergusson, sometime minister at Dunfermline, and 
put ordine alphabetico when he departed this life anno 
1598. Edinburgh, 1641. 

4. A collection of Scots Proverbs, dedicated to the 
Tenantry of Scotland, by Allan Eamsay. This 
collection is found in the edition of his Poetical Works, 
3 vols. post 8vo, Edin. 1818, but is not in the hand 
some edition of 1800. London, 2 vols. 8vo. 

5. Scottish Proverbs, collected and arranged by 
Andrew Henderson, with an introductory Essay by 
W. Motherwell. Edin. 1832. 

6. The Proverbial Philosophy of Scotland, an 
address to the School of Arts, by William Stirling of 
Keir, M.P. Stirling and Edin. 1855. 

The collection of Eay, the great English naturalist, 
is well known. The first two editions, published at 
Cambridge in 1670 and 1678, were by the author; 
subsequent editions were by other editors. 

The work by James Kelly professes to collect 
Scottish proverbs only. It is a volume of nearly 400 
pages, and contains a short explanation or comment 
ary attached to each, and often parallel sayings from 
other languages.* Mr. Kelly bears ample testimony 
to the extraordinary free use made of proverbs in his 
time by his countrymen and by himself. He says 
that " there were current in society upwards of 3000 
proverbs, exclusively Scottish." He adds, " The Scots 
are wonderfully given to this way of speaking, and, 
as the consequence of that, abound with proverbs, 
many of which are very expressive, quick, and home 

Amongst many acts of kindness and essential assistance 
which I have received and am constantly receiving from my 
friend Mr. Hugh James Rollo, I owe my introduction to this 
interesting Scottish volume, now. I believe, rather scarce, 



220 KSMINI8CJSNQES OF 

to the purpose; and, indeed, this humour prevails 
universally over the whole nation, especially among 
the better sort of the commonalty, none of whom 
will discourse with you any considerable time but he 
will affirm every assertion and observation with a 
Scottish proverb. To that nation I owe my birth 
and education; and to that manner of speaking I 
was used from my infancy, to such a degree that I 
became in some measure remarkable for it." This 
was written in 1721, and we may see from Mr. Kelly s 
account what a change has taken place in society as 
regards this mode of intercourse. Our author states 
that he has " omitted in his collection many popular 
proverbs which are very pat and expressive," and 
adds as his reason, that " since it does not become a 
man of manners to use them, it does not become a 
man of my age and profession to write them." 
What was Mr. Kelly s profession or what his age 
does not appear from any statements in this volume ; 
but, judging by many proverbs which he has retained, 
those which consideration of years and of profession 
induced him to omit must have been bad indeed, and 
unbecoming for any age or any profession.* The 
third collection by Mr. Fergusson is mentioned by 
Kelly as the only one which had been made before 
his time, and that he had not met with it till he had 
made considerable progress in his own collection. 
The book is now extremely rare, and fetches a high 
price. By the great kindness of the learned librarian, 
I have been permitted to see the copy belonging to 
the library of the Writers to the Signet. It is the 
first edition, and very rare. A quaint little thin 
volume, such as delights the eyes of true bibliomaniacs, 

* Kelly s book is constantly quoted by Jamieson, and is. 
Indeed, an excellent work for the study of good old Scotch. 



SCOTTISH LIFE cfc CHARACTER. 221 

unpaged, and published at Edinburgh 1641 although 
on the title-page the proverbs are said to have been 
collected at Mr. Fergusson s death, 1598.* There is 
no preface or notice by the author, but an address 
from the printer, "to the merrie, judicious, and dis 
creet reader/ 

The proverbs, amounting to 945, are given without 
any comment or explanation. Many of them are of a 
very antique cast of language ; indeed some would be 
to most persons quite unintelligible without a lexicon. 

The printer, in his address " to the merrie, judicious, 
and discreet reader," refers in the following quaint 
expressions to the author : " Therefore manie in this 
realme that hath hard of David Fergusson, sometime 
minister at Dunfermline, and of his quick answers and 
speeches, both to great persons and others inferiours, 
and hath hard of his proverbs which hee gathered to 
gether in his time, and now we put downe according 
to the order of the alphabet ; and manie, of all ranks 
of persons, being verie desirous to have the said pro 
verbs, I have thought good to put them to the presse 
for thy better satisfaction. ... I know that there 
may be some that will say and marvell that a minister 
should have taken pains to gather such proverbs to 
gether; but they that knew his forme of powerfull 
preaching the word, and his ordinar talking, ever 
almost using proverbiall speeches, will not finde fault 
with this that he hath done. And whereas there are 
some old Scottish words not in use now, bear with 
that, because if ye alter those words, the proverb will 
have no grace ; and so, recommending these proverbs 
to thy good use, I bid thee farewell." 

I now subjoin a few of Fergusson s Proverbs, ver- 

This probably throws back the collection to about the 
middle of the century. 



222 REMINISCENCES OP 

batim, which are of a more obsolete character, and 
have appended explanations, of the correctness of which, 
however, I am not quite confident : 

A year a nurish, 1 seven year a da.* Refers, I pre 
sume, to fulfilling the maternal office. 

Anes payit never cravit. Debts once paid give no 
more trouble. 

All wald 3 have all, all wald forgie* Those who 
exact much should be ready to concede. 

A gangang* fit 9 is aye gettin (gin 9 it were but a 
thorn), or, as it sometimes runs, gin it were but a 
broken tae, i.e. toe. A man of industry will certainly 
get a living ; though the proverb is often applied to 
those who went abroad and got a mischief when they 
might safely have stayed at home (Kelly). 

All crakes? all bears" Spoken against bullies who 
kept a great hectoring, and yet, when put to it, 
tamely pocket an affront (Kelly). 

Bourd 1 not wi bawtie 1 * (lest he bite you). Do not 
jest too familiarly with your superiors (Kelly), or 
with dangerous characters. 

Bread s house skailed never. 13 While people have 
bread they need not give up housekeeping. Spoken 
when one has bread and wishes something better 
(Kelly). 

Crabbit 1 was and cause had. Spoken ironically of 
persons put out of temper without adequate cause. 

Dame, deem 15 warily, ye (watna 19 wha wytes" yerseJl). 

1 Nurse. 7 Always. 13 To skail house, to 

2 Daw, a slut, 8 If. disfurnish. 

3 Would. 9 Boasters. 14 Being angry 01 

4 Forgive. 10 TJsed as cowards (?) cross. 
6 Going or moving. n Jest. 15 Judge. 

8 Foot. 12 A dog s name. 16 Know not. 

17 Blames. 



SCOTTISH LIFE * CHARACTER. 223 

Spoken to remind those who pass hard censures 
on others that they may themselves be censured. 

Efter lang mint 1 never dint? Spoken of long and 
painful labour producing little effect. Kelly s reading 
is "Lang mint little dint" Spoken when men 
threaten much and dare not execute (Kelly). 

Fill fou 3 and hand 4 fou maks a stark* man. In 
Border language a stark man was one who takes and 
keeps boldly. 

He that crabbs 9 without cause should mease 7 without 
mends. 8 Spoken to remind those who are angry 
without cause, that they should not be particular in 
requiring apologies from others. 

He is worth na weill that may not bide na wae. He 
deserves not the sweet that will not taste the sour. 
He does not deserve prosperity who cannot meet 
adversity. 

Kame 9 sindle 11 frame sair. u Applied to those who 
forbear for a while, but when once roused can act 
with severity. 

Kamesters 1 are aye creeshie. n It is usual for men 
to look like their trade. 

Let alane males mony lurden. 14 Want of correction 
makes many a bad boy (Kelly). 

Mony tynes 1 * the half-mark 1 * whinger" (for the halfe 

1 To aim at. * Settle. 12 Wool-combers. 

2 A stroke. 8 Amends. 1S Greasy. 

3 Full. 4 Hold. 9 Comb. 14 Worthless fellow. 
5 Potent or strong. lo Seldom. 15 Loses. 

Is angry. n Painfully. 16 Sixpenny. 

A sort of dagger or hanger which seems to have been used 
both at meals as a knife and in broils 

" And whingers now in friendship bare. 
The social meal to part and share, 
Had found a bloody sheath." Lay of the Last Mmstrcl. 



224 REMINISCENCES OF 

pennie whang)? Another version of penny wise and 
pound foolish. 

Na plie* is best. 

Heavers 3 should not be rewers. 4 Those who are so 
fond of a thing as to snap at it, should not repent 
when they have got it (Kelly). 

SoJc and seill is best. The interpretation of this 
proverb is not obvious, and later writers do not 
appear to have adopted it from Fergusson. It is 
quite clear that sok or sock is the ploughshare. Seil 
is happiness, as in Kelly. "Seil comes not till 
sorrow be o er;" and in Aberdeen they say, "Seil o 
your face," to express a blessing. My reading is 
"the plough and happiness the best lot." The 
happiest life is the healthy country one. See Robert 
Burns spirited song with the chorus : 

" Up wi my ploughman lad, 

And hey my merry ploughman ; 
Of a the trades that I do ken, 
Commend me to the ploughman." 

A somewhat different reading of this very obscure 
and now indeed obsolete proverb has been suggested 
by an esteemed and learned friend : " I should say 
rather it meant that the ploughshare, or country life, 
accompanied with good luck or fortune was best ; i.e., 
that industry coupled with good fortune (good seasons 
and the like) was the combination that was most to 
be desired. Seel, in Anglo-Saxon, as a noun, means 
opportunity, and then good luck, happiness, etc. 

There s mae* madines* nor makines? Girls are more 
plentiful in the world than hares. 

1 Thong. 3 Robbers. * More. 

2 No lawsuit. 4 Rue, to repent. 6 Maidrna. 

7 Hares. 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHAEAGTEU. 225 

Ye briecV of the gouk* ye have not a rhyme* but ane. 
Applied to persons who tire everybody by constantly 
harping on one subject. 

The collection by Allan Kamsay is very good, and 
professes to correct the errors of former collectors. I 
have now before me khz first edition, Edinburgh, 1737, 
with the appropriate motto on the title-page, " That 
maun be true that a men say." This edition contains 
proverbs only, the number being 2464. Some pro 
verbs in this collection I do not find in others, and 
one quality it possesses in a remarkable degree it is 
very Scotch. The language of the proverbial wisdom 
has the true Scottish flavour ; not only is this the 
case with the proverbs themselves, but the dedication 
to the tenantry of Scotland, prefixed to the collection, 
is written in pure Scottish dialect. From this dedica 
tion I make an extract, which falls in with our plan 
of recording Scotch reminiscences, as Allan Eamsay 
there states the great value set upon proverbs in his 
day ? and the great importance which he attaches to 
them as teachers of moral wisdom, and as combining 
amusement with instruction. The prose of Allan 
Ramsay has, too, a spice of his poetry in its composi 
tion. His dedication is, To the tenantry of Scotland, 
farmers of the dales, and storemasters of the hills 

"Worthy friends The following hoard of wise 
sayings and observations of our forefathers, which 
have been gathering through mony bygane ages, I 
have collected with great care, and restored to their 
proper sense. . . . 

"As naething helps our happiness mair than to 

have the mind made up wi right principles, I desire 

you, for the thriving and pleasure of you and yours, 

to use your een and lend your lugs to these guid auld 

1 Take after. 2 Cuckoo. 3 JSote. 



226 REMINISCENCES OF 

saws, that shine wi wail d sense, and will as lang as 
the world wags. Gar your bairns get them by heart ; 
let them have a place among your family-books, and 
may never a window-sole through the country be 
without them. On a spare hour, when the day is 
clear, behind a ruck, or on the green howm, draw the 
treasure frae your pouch, an enjoy the pleasant 
companion. Ye happy herds, while your hirdsell are 
feeding on the flowery braes, you may eithly make 
yoursells master of the haleware. How usefovi will 
it prove to you (wha hae sae few opportunities of 
common clattering) when ye forgather wi your 
friends at kirk or market, banquet or bridal ! By 
your proficiency you ll be able, in the proverbial way, 
to keep up the saul of a conversation that is baith 
blyth an usefou ." 

Mr. Henderson s work is a compilation from those 
already mentioned. It is very copious, and the 
introductory essay contains some excellent remarks 
upon the wisdom and wit of Scottish proverbial 
sayings. 

Mr. Stirling s (now Sir W. Stirling-Maxwell s) 
address, like everything he writes, indicates a minute 
and profound knowledge of his subject, and is full 
of picturesque and just views of human nature. He 
attaches much importance to the teaching conveyed in 
proverbial expressions, and recommends his readers 
even still to collect such proverbial expressions as may 
yet linger in conversation, because, as he observes, " If 
it is not yet registered, it is possible that it might have 
died with the tongue from which you took it, and so 
have been lost for ever." " I believe," he adds, " the 
number of good old saws still floating as waifs 
and strays on the tide of popular talk to be much 
greater than might at first appear." 



SCOTTISH LIFE <L CHARACTER. 227 

One remark is applicable to all these collections 
viz., that out of so large a number there are many of 
them on which we have little grounds for deciding that 
they are exclusively Scottish. In fact, some are mere 
translations of proverbs adopted by many nations ; 
some of universal adoption. Thus we have 



A burnt bairn f re dreads. 

Ae swallow makes nae simmer. 

Faint heart ne er wan fair lady 

III weeds wax weel. 

Mony smds mak a muckle. 

O 1 twa ills chuse the least. 

Set a knave to grip a knave. 

Twa wits are better than ane. 

There s nae fule like an auld fule. 

Ye canna mak a silk purse o } a soitfs lug. 

Ae bird $ the hand is worth twa fleeing. 

Mony cooks ne er made gude kail. 

Of numerous proverbs such as these, some may or 
mav not be original in the Scottish. Sir William 

/ O 

remarks that many of the best and oldest proverbs 
may be common to all people may have occurred to 
all. In our national collections, therefore, some of 
the proverbs recorded may be simply translations 
into Scotch of what have been long considered 
the property of other nations. Still, I hope it is not 
a mere national partiality to say that many of 
the common proverbs gain much by such translation 
from other tongues. All that I would attempt now 
is, to select some of our more popular proverbial 
sayings, which many of us can remember as current 
amongst us, and were much used by the late genera 
tion in society, and to add a few from the collections 
I have named, which bear a very decided Scottish 
stamp either in turn of thought or in turn of language. 



228 REMINISCENCES OF 

I remember being much struck the tirst time I 
heard the application of that pretty Scottish saying 
regarding a fair bride. I was walking in Montrose, a 
day or two before her marriage, with a young lady, a 
connection of mine, who merited this description, 
when she was kindly accosted by an old friend, 
an honest fish-wife of the town, " Weel, Miss Elizabeth, 
hae ye gotten a yer claes ready 1 to which the 
young lady modestly answered, " Oh, Janet, my claes 
are soon got ready ; and Janet replied, in the old 
Scotch proverb, "Ay, weel, a bonnie bride s swne 
buskit" In the old collection, an addition less 
sentimental is made to this proverb, A short horse is 
mne iinspit? 

To encourage strenuous exertions to meet difficult 
circumstances, is well expressed by Setting a stout 
heart to a stey brae. 

The mode of expressing that the worth of a hand 
some woman outweighs even her beauty, has a very- 
Scottish character She s better than she s bonnie. 
The opposite of this was expressed by a Highlander 
of his own wife, when he somewhat ungrammatically 
said of her, " She s bonnier than she s better." 

The frequent evil to harvest operations from 
autumnal rains and fogs in Scotland is well told in 
the saying, A dry summer ne er made a dear peck. 

There can be no question as to country in the fol 
lowing, which seems to express generally that persons 
may have the name and appearance of greatness 
without the reality A Stuarts are na sib 3 to the king. 

There is an excellent Scottish version of the 
common proverb, " He that s born to be hanged will 
never be drowned." The water will never warr* the 
widdie, i.e. never cheat the gallows. This saying re- 

1 Attired. 2 Curried. 3 Related. 4 Outrun. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 229 

ceived a very naive practical application during the 
anxiety and alarm of a storm. One of the passengers, 
a good simple-minded minister, was sharing the alarm 
that was felt around him, until spying one of his 
parishioners, of whose ignominious end he had long 
felt persuaded, he exclaimed to himself, " Oh, we are 
all safe now, " and accordingly accosted the poor man 
with strong assurances of the great pleasure he had in 
seeing him on board. 

Hs ill getting the breeks aff the Highlandman is a pro 
verb that savours very strong of a Lowland Scotch 
origin. Having suffered loss at the hands of their 
neighbours from the hills, this was a mode of express 
ing the painful truth that there was little hope of 
obtaining redress from those who had no means at 
their disposal. 

Proverbs connected with the bagpipes I set down 
as legitimate Scotch, as thus Ye are as lang in tuning 
your pipes as anither wad play a spring* You are as 
long of setting about a thing as another would be in 
doing it. 

There is a set of Scottish proverbs which we may 
group together as containing one quality in common, 
and that in reference to the Evil Spirit, and to his 
agency in the world. This is a reference often, I 
fear, too lightly made ; but I am not conscious of 
anything deliberately profane or irreverent in the fol 
lowing : 

The dell s nae sae ill as hes caad. The most of 
people may be found to have some redeeming good 
point : applied in Guy Mannering by the Deacon to 
Gilbert Glossin, upon his intimating his intention to 
come to his shop soon for the purpose of laying in his 
winter stock of groceries. 

* Tune. 
IT 



230 REMINISCENCES OF 

To the same effect, It s a sin to lee on tlie deil. Even 
of the worst people, truth at least should be spoken. 

He should hae a lang-shafted spune that sups kail wi } the 
deil. He should be well guarded and well protected 
that has to do with cunning and unprincipled men. 

Lang ere the deil dee by the dyke-side. Spoken 
when the improbable death of some powerful and ill- 
disposed person is talked of. 

Let ae deil ding anither. Spoken when too bad 
persons are at variance over some evil work. 

The deiVs bairns hae deiVs luck. Spoken enviously 
when ill people prosper. 

The deil s a busy bishop in his ain diode. Bad men 
are sure to be active in promoting their own bad 
ends. A quaint proverb of this class I have been 
told of as coming from the reminiscences of an old 
lady of quality, to recommend a courteous manner to 
every one : It s aye gude to be ceevil, as the auld wife 
said when she beckit * to the deevil. 

Raise nae mair deils than ye are able to lay. Provoke 
no strifes which ye may be unable to appease. 

The deil s aye gude to his ain. A. malicious proverb, 
spoken as if those whom we disparage were deriving 
their success from bad causes. 

Ye wad do little for God an the deevil was dead. A 
sarcastic mode of telling a person that fear, rather 
than love or principle, is the motive to his good con 
duct. 

In the old collection already referred to is a pro 
verb which, although somewhat personal, is too good 
to omit. It is doubtful how it took its origin, 
whether as a satire against the decanal order in 
general, or against some obnoxious dean in particular. 
These are the terms of it: The deil an the dean 

* Curtsied. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 231 

begin wi ae letter. When the deil has the dean the kirk 
will be the better. 

The deil s gane ower Jock Wdbster is a saying which 
I have been accustomed to in my part of. the country 
from early years. It expresses generally misfortune 
or confusion, but I am not quite sure of the exact 
meaning, or who is represented by " Jock Wabster." 
It was a great favourite with Sir Walter Scott, who 
quotes it twice in Rob Eoy. Allan Ramsay introduces 
it in the Gentle Shepherd to express the misery of 
married life when the first dream of love has passed 
away : 

" The * Deil gaes ower Jock Wabster, hame grows hell, 
When Pate misca s ye waur than tongue can tell." 

There are two very pithy Scottish proverbial expres 
sions for describing the case of young women losing 
their chance of good marriages by setting their aims 
too high. Thus an old lady, speaking of her grand 
daughter having made what she considered a poor 
match, described her as having "lookit at the moon, 
and lichtit * : in the midden." 

It is recorded again of a celebrated beauty, Becky 
Monteith, that being asked how she had not made a 
good marriage, she replied, " Ye see, I wadna hae the 
walkers, and the riders gaed %." 

It s ill to wauken sleeping dogs. It is a bad policy 
to rouse dangerous and mischievous people, who are 
for the present quiet. 

It is nae mair ferly f to see a woman yreit than to see a 
goose go barefit. A harsh and ungallant reference to 
the facility with which the softer sex can avail them 
selves of tears to carry a point. 

A Scots mist will weet an Englishman to the skin. 

i 

* Fallen. 



282 REMINISCENCES OF 

A proverb, evidently of Caledonian origin, arising from 
the frequent complaints made by English visitors of 
the heavy mists which hang about our hills, and which 
are found to annoy the southern traveller as it were 
downright rain. 

Keep yom- ain fish-guts to your ain sea-maws. This 
was a favourite proverb with Sir Walter Scott, when 
he meant to express the policy of first considering the 
interests that are nearest home. The saying savours 
of the fishing population of the east cost. 

A Yule feast may be done at Pasch. Festivities, 
although usually practised at Christmas, need not, on 
suitable occasions, be confined to any season. 

IPs better to sup wi a cutty than want a spune. 
Cutty means anything short, stumpy, and not of full 
growth ; frequently applied to a short-handled horn 
spoon. As Meg Merrilies says to the bewildered 
Dominie, " If ye dinna eat instantly, by the bread and 
salt, I ll put it down your throat wi the cutty spune" 

" Fulcs mak feasts and wise men eat em, my Lord." 
This was said to a Scottish nobleman on his giving 
a great entertainment, and who readily answered, 
" Ay, and Wise men make proverbs and fools repeat em" 

A green Yule * and a white Pays t mak a fat kirk- 
yard. A very coarse proverb, but may express a 
general truth as regards the effects of season on the 
human frame. Another of a similar character is, An 
air J winter maks a sair winter. 

Wha will bell the cat? The proverb is used in 
reference to a proposal for accomplishing a difficult or 
dangerous task, and alludes to the fable of the poor 
mice proposing to put a bell about the cat s neck, that 
they might be apprised of his coming. The historical 
application is well known. When the nobles of 
* Christmas. t Pasch or Easter. t Early. Severe. 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHARACTER. 233 

Scotland proposed to go in a body to Stirling to take 
Cochrane, the favourite of James the Third, and hang 
him, the Lord Gray asked, "It is well said, but wha 
will bell the cat ?" The Earl of Angus accepted the 
challenge, and effected the object. To his dying day 
he was called Archibald Bell-the-Cat. 

Ye hae tint the tongue o the trump. " Trump is 
a Jew s harp. To lose the tongue of it is to lose 
what is essential to its sound. 

Meat and mass hinders nae man. Needful food, 
and suitable religious exercises, should not be spared 
under greatest haste. 

Ye fand it whar the Highlandman /and tJie tangs (i.e. 
at the fireside). A hit at our mountain neighbours, 
who occasionally took from the Lowlands as having 
found something that was never lost. 

His head will ne er rive (i.e. tear) hi-s father s bonnet. 
A picturesque way of expressing that the son will 
never equal the influence and ability of his sire. 

His bark is waur nor his bite. A good-natured 
apology for one who is good-hearted and rough in 
speech. 

Do as the cow of For far did, tak a standing drink. 
This proverb relates to an occurrence which gave rise 
to a lawsuit and a whimsical legal decision. A woman 
in Forfar, who was brewing, set out her tub of beer 
to cool. A cow came by and drank it up. The 
owner of the cow was sued for compensation, but the 
bailies of Forfar, who tried the case, acquitted the 
owner of the cow, on the ground that the farewell 
drink, called in the Highlands the dochan doris* or 
stirrup-cup, taken by the guest standing by the door. 

The proper orthography of this expression is deoch-an-doruis 
(or dorais). Deoch, a drink ; an, of the ; doruis or dvrais, pos 
sessive case of dorus or doras a door. 



234 REMIND CENCES OF 

was never charged ; and as the cow had taken but a 
standing drink outside, it could not, according to the 
Scottish usage, be chargeable. Sir Walter Scott has 
humorously alluded to this circumstance in the notes 
to Waverley, but has not mentioned it as the subject 
of an old Scotch proverb. 

Bannocks are better nor nae kind o bread. Evi 
dently Scottish. Better have oatmeal cakes to eat 
than be in want of wheaten loaves. 

Folly is a bonny dog. Meaning, I suppose, that 
many are imposed upon by the false appearances and 
attractions of vicious pleasures. 

The evening brings a hame is an interesting saying, 
meaning, that the evening of life, or the approach of 
death, softens many of our political and religious 
differences. I do not find this proverb in the older 
collections, but Sir William Maxwell justly calls it 
" a beautiful proverb, which, lending itself to various 
uses, may be taken as an expression of faith in the 
gradual growth and spread of large-hearted Christian 
charity, the noblest result of our happy freedom of 
thought and discussion." The literal idea of the 
" e ening bringing a hame," has a high and illustrious 
antiquity, as in the fragment of Sappho, Efface, vavra 
<pegti$ o/V (or oJvov) ptPtiZ cuya, fogeig rjLqrsgi <7?a7da 



which is thus paraphrased by Lord Byron in Don 
Juan, iii. 107 : 

" Hesperus, thou bringest all good things 
Home to the weary, to the hungry cheer ; 

To the young birds the parent s brooding wings, 
The welcome stall to the o erlaboured steer, etc. 

Thou bring st the child, too, to the mother s breast." 

A similar graceful and moral saying inculcates an 
acknowledgment of gratitude for the past favours 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 235 

which we have enjoyed when we come to the close of 
the day or the close of life 

Ruse * tJie fair day at e en. 

But a very learned and esteemed friend has suggested 
another reading of this proverb, in accordance with 
the celebrated saying of Solon (Arist. Eth. N. I. 10): 
Kara So Xwva %fwv r tXog ogav Do not praise the fair 
ness of the day till evening ; do not call the life happy 
till you have seen the close ; or, in other matters, do 
not boast that all is well till you have conducted your 
undertaking to a prosperous end. 

Let him tak a spring on his ain fiddle. Spoken of 
a foolish and unreasonable person ; as if to say, " We 
will for the present allow him to have his own way." 
Bailie Nicol Jarvie quotes the proverb with great 
bitterness, when he warns his opponent that his time 
for triumph will come ere long, " Aweel, aweel, sir, 
you re welcome to a tune on your ain fiddle ; but see if 
I dinna gar ye dance till t afore it s dune." 

The kirk is meikle, but ye may say mass in ae end o t ; 
or, as I have received it in another form, " If we 
canna preach in the kirk, we can sing mass in the 
quire." This intimates, where something is alleged 
to be too much, that you need take no more than 
what you have need for. I heard the proverb used 
in this sense by Sir Walter Scott at his own table. 
His son had complained of some quaighs which Sir 
Walter had produced for a dram after dinner, that 
they were too large. His answer was, " Well, Walter, 
as my good mother used to say, if the kirk is ower 
big, just sing mass in the quire." Here is another 
reference to kirk and quire He rives} the kirk to 
theikt the (juire. Spoken of unprofitable persons, 
* Praise. t Tears. + Thatch. 



236 REMINISCENCES OF 

who in the English proverb, "rob Peter to pay 
Paul." 

The king s errand, may come the cadger s gate yet. A 
great man may need the service of a very mean one. 

TJie maut is aboon the meal. His liquor has done 
more for him than his meat. The man is drunk. 

Mak a kirk and a mill dt. Turn a thing to any 
purpose you like ; or rather, spoken sarcastically, 
Take it, and make the best of it. 

Like a sow playing on a trump. No image could be 
well more incongruous than a pig performing on a 
Jew s harp. 

Mair by luck than gude guiding. His success is due 
to his fortunate circumstances, rather than to his own 
discretion. 

He s not a man to ride the water wi\ A common 
Scottish saying to express you cannot trust such an 
one in trying times. May have arisen from the dis 
tricts where fords abounded, and the crossing them 
was dangerous. 

He rides on the rig gin o the kirk. The rigging 
being the top of the roof, the proverb used to be 
applied to those who carried their zeal for church 
matters to the extreme point. 

Leal heart never lee d, well expresses that an honest 
loyal disposition will scorn, under all circumstances, 
to tell a falsehood. 

A common Scottish proverb, Let that flee stick to the 
wa\ has an obvious meaning, " Say nothing more on 
that subject." But the derivation is not obvious.* 

It lias "been suggested, and with much reason, that the 
reference is to a fly sticking on a wet or a newly painted wall ; 
this is corroborated by the addition in Rob Roy, "When the 
dirt s dry, it will rub out," which seems to point out the mean 
ing and derivation of the proverb. 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 237 

In like manner, the meaning of He that will to Cupar 
maun to Cupar, is clearly that if a man is obstinate, 
and bent upon his own dangerous course, he must 
take it. But why Cupar? and whether is it the 
Cupar of Angus or the Cupar of Fife 1 

Kindness creeps where it canna gang prettily expresses 
that where love can do little, it will do that little, 
though it cannot do more. 

In my part of the country a ridiculous addition 
used to be made to the common Scottish saying. 
Mony a thing s made for the pennie, i.e. Many contriv 
ances are thought of to get money. The addition is. 
" As the old woman said when she saw a black man," 
taking it for granted that he was an ingenious and 
curious piece of mechanism made for profit. 

Bluid is thicker than water is a proverb which has 
a marked Scottish aspect, as meant to vindicate those 
family predilections to which, as a nation, we are 
supposed to be rather strongly inclined. 

There s aye water where the stirMe* drouns. Where cer 
tain effects are produced, there must be some causes 
at work a proverb used to show that a universal 
popular suspicion as to an obvious effect must be laid 
in truth. 

Better a finger aff than aye waggirt. This proverb 
I remember as a great favourite with many Scotch 
people. Better experience the worst, than have an 
evil always pending. 

Cadgers are aye cracking o crook saddles^ has a very 
Scottish aspect, and signifies that professional men 
are very apt to talk too much of their profession. 

The following is purely Scotch, for in no country 
but Scotland are singed sheep heads to be met with ; 
Re s like a sheep head in a pair o tangs. 

* A young bullock. + Saddle for supporting panuieis. 



238 REMINISCENCES OF 

As sure s deeth. A common Scottish proverbial 
expression to signify either the truth or certainty of 
a fact, or to pledge the speaker to a performance of 
his promise. In the latter sense an amusing illustra 
tion of faith in the superior obligation of this 
asseveration to any other, is recorded in the Eglinton 
Papers* The Earl one day found a boy climbing up 
a tree, and called him to come down. The boy 
declined, because, he said, the Earl would thrash him. 
His Lordship pledged his honour that he would not 
do so. The boy replied, "I dinna ken onything 
about your honour, but if you say as sure s deeth I ll 
come doun." 

Proverbs are sometimes local in their application. 

The men o the Mearns canna do mair than they may. 
Even the men of Kincardineshire can only do their 
utmost a proverb intended to be highly compli 
mentary to the powers of the men of that county. 

Til mak Cathkin s covenant wi* you, Let abee for let 
abee. This is a local saying quoted often in Hamilton. 
The laird of that property had very unlike the 
excellent family who have now possessed it for more 
than a century been addicted to intemperance. 
One of his neighbours, in order to frighten him on his 
way home from his evening potations, disguised him 
self, on a very wet night, and, personating the devil, 
claimed a title to carry him off as his rightful 
property. Contrary to all expectation, however, the 
laird showed fight, and was about to commence the 
onslaught, when a parley was proposed, and the issue 
was, " Cathkin s covenant, Let abee for let abee." 

When the castle of Stirling gets a hat, the Carse of 
Corntown pays for that. This is a local proverbial 
saying ; the meaning is, that when the clouds descend 

* Vol. i. p. UU, 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 239 

so low as to envelope Stirling Castle, a deluge of rain 
may be expected in the adjacent country. 

I will conclude this notice of our proverbial reminis 
cences, by adding a cluster of Scottish proverbs, 
selected from an excellent article on the general 
subject in the North British Review of February 1858. 
The reviewer designates these as "broader in their 
mirth, and more caustic in their tone," than the 
moral proverbial expressions of the Spanish and 
Italian : 

A Hate l cat maks a proud mouse. 

Better a toom 2 house than an ill tenant. 

Jouk 3 and let the jaw 4 gang by. 

Mony ane speirs the gate 5 he kens fu wed. 

The tod 6 ne er sped better than when he gaed his ain 

errand. 

A wilfu man should be unco wise. 
He that has a meikle nose thinks ilka ane speaks o*t. 
He that teaches himsell has a fule for his maister. 
It s an ill cause that the lawyer thinks shame o\ 
Lippen 7 to me, but look to yoursell. 
Mair whistle than woo, as the souter said when shearino 

the soo. 

Ye gae far about seeking the nearest. 
YJll no sell your hen on a rainy day. 
Yell mend when ye grow better. 
Yd re nae chicken for a your cheeping 

I have now adduced quite sufficient specimens to 
convince those who may not have given attention to 
the subject, how much of wisdom, knowledge of life, 
and good feeling, are contained in these aphorisms 
which compose the mass of our Scottish proverbial 

1 Shy. 3 Stoop down 5 The way. 

* Empty. 4 Wave. 6 Fox. 

Trust to. * Chirping. 



240 REMINISCENCES OF 

sayings. No doubt, to many of my younger readers 
proverbs are little known, and to all they are becom 
ing more and more matters of reminiscence. I am 
quite convinced that much of the old quaint and 
characteristic Scottish talk which we are now en 
deavouring to recall depended on a happy use of those 
abstracts of moral sentiment. And this feeling will 
be confirmed when we call to mind how often those 
of the old Scottish school of character, whose conversa 
tion we have ourselves admired, had most largely 
availed themselves of the use of its proverbial 
philosophy. 

I have already spoken of (p. 16) a Scottish 
peculiarity- -viz. that of naming individuals from 
lands which have been possessed long by the family, 
or frequently from the landed estates which they 
acquire. The use of this mode of discriminating 
individuals in the Highland districts is sufficiently 
obvious. Where the inhabitants of a whole country 
side are Campbells, or Erasers, or Gordons, nothing 
could be more convenient than addressing the indi 
viduals of each clan by the name of his estate. 
Indeed, some years ago, any other designation, as 
Mr. Campbell, Mr. Fraser, would have been resented 
as an indignity. Their consequence sprang from their 
possession.* But all this is fast wearing away. 
The estates of old families have often changed hands, 
and Highlanders are most unwilling to give the names 
of old properties to new proprietors. The custom, 
however, lingers amongst us, in the northern districts 
especially. Farms also used to give their names to 
the tenants, t I can recall an amusing instance of 

* Even in Forfarshire, where Carnepies abound, we had Craigo, 
Hiilnamoon, Pitarrow, etc. 
t This custom is still in use in Galloway ; and "Chfilloch.," 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 241 

this practice belonging to my early days. The oldest 
recollections I have are connected with the name, 
the figure, the sayings and doings, of the old cow-herd 
at Fasque in my father s time ; his name was Boggy, 
i.e. his ordinary appellation ; his true name was Sandy 
Anderson. But he was called Boggy from the 
circumstance of having once held a wretched farm on 
Deeside named Boggendreep. He had long left it, 
and been unfortunate in it, but the name never left 
him, he was Boggy to his grave. The territorial 
appellation used to be reckoned complimentary, and 
more respectful than Mr. or any higher title to which 
the individual might be entitled. I recollect, in my 
brother s time, at Fasque, his showing off some of his 
home stock to Mr. Williamson, the Aberdeen butcher. 
They came to a fine stot, and Sir Alexander said, 
with some appearance of boast, " I was offered twenty 
guineas for that ox." " Indeed, Fasque," said William 
son, " ye should hae steekit your neive upo that." 

Sir Walter Scott had marked in his diary a terri 
torial greeting of two proprietors which had amused 
him much. The laird of Kilspindie had met the 
laird of Tannacby-Tulloch, and the following compli 
ments passed between them : u Yer maist obedient 
hummil servant, Tannachy-Tulloch." To which the 
reply was, " Yer nain man, Kilspindie." 

In proportion as we advance towards the Highland 
district this custom of distinguishing clans or races, 
and marking them out according to the district 
they occupied, became more apparent. There was 
the Glengarry country, the Fraser country, the Gordon 
country, etc. etc. These names carried also with 
them certain moral features as characteristic of 



Kschonchaii," "Tonderghie," "Balsalloeli," and "Druminorral, 
etc. etc., appear regularly at kirk and market. 



242 REMINISCENCES OF 

division. Hence the following anecdote : The morn 
ing litany of an old laird of Cultoquhey, when he 
took his morning draught at the cauld well, was in 
these terms : " Frae the ire o the Drummonds, the 
pride o the Graemes, the greed o the Campbells, and 
the wind o 1 the Hurrays, guid Lord deliver us." 

The Duke of Athole, having learned that Cultoquhey 
was in the habit of mentioning his Grace s family in 
such uncomplimentary terms, invited the humorist 
to Dunkeld, for the purpose of giving him a hint to 
desist from the reference. After dinner, the Duke 
asked his guest what were the precise terms in which 
he was in the habit of alluding to his powerful 
neighbours. Cultoquhey repeated his liturgy without 
a moment s hesitation. "I recommend you," said 
his Grace, looking very angry, " in future to omit 
my name from your morning devotions." All he got 
from Cultoquhey was, "Thank ye, my Lord Duke/ 
taking off his glass with the utmost sangfroid. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 



CHAPTER THE SEVENTH. 

ON SCOTTISH STORIES OF WIT AND HUMOUR. 

THE portion of our subject which we proposed under 
the head of " Reminiscences of Scottish Stories of 
Wit or Humour," yet remains to be considered. 
This is closely connected with the question of Scot 
tish dialect and expressions ; indeed, on some points 
hardly separable, as the wit, to a great extent, pro 
ceeds from the quaint and picturesque modes of ex 
pressing it. But here we are met by a difficulty. 
On high authority it has been declared that no such 
thing as wit exists amongst us. What has no exist 
ence can have no change. We cannot be said to have 
lost a quality which we never possessed. Many of 
my readers are no doubt familiar with what Sydney 
Smith declared on this point, and certainly on the 
question of wit he must be considered an authority. 
He used to say (I am almost ashamed to repeat it), 
" It requires a surgical operation to get a joke well 
into a Scotch understanding. Their only idea of wit, 
which prevails occasionally in the north, and which, 
under the name of WUT, is so infinitely distressing to 
people of good taste, is laughing immoderately at 
stated intervals." Strange language to use of a 
country which has produced Smollett, Burns, Scott, 
Gait, and Wilson all remarkable for the humour 
diffused through their writings ! Indeed, we may 
fairly ask, have they equals in this respect amongst 



244 REMINISCENCES OF 

English writers ? Charles Lamb had the same notion, 
or, I should rather say, the same prejudice, about 
Scottish people not being accessible to wit ; and he 
tells a story of what happened to himself, in cor- 
roboration of the opinion. He had been asked to a 
party, and one object of the invitation had been to 
meet a son of Burns. When he arrived, Mr. Burns 
had not made his appearance, and in the course of 
conversation regarding the family of the poet, Lamb, 
in his lack-a-daisical kind of manner, said, " I wish it 
had been the father instead of the son ; upon which 
four Scotsmen present with one voice exclaimed, 
"That s impossible, for he s dead"* Now, there will 
be dull men and matter-of-fact men everywhere, who 
do not take a joke, or enter into a jocular allusion ; 
but surely, as a general remark, this is far from being 
a natural quality of our country. Sydney Smith and 
Charles Lamb say so. But, at the risk of being con 
sidered presumptuous, I will say I think them en 
tirely mistaken. I should say that there was, on the 
contrary, a strong connection between the Scottish 
temperament and, call it if you like, humour, if it is 
not wit. And what is the difference ? My readers 
need not be afraid that they are to be led through a 
labyrinth of metaphysical distinctions between wit 
and humour. I have read Dr. Campbell s dissertation 
on the difference, in his Philosophy of Rhetoric ; I 
have read Sydney Smith s own two lectures ; but I 
confess I am not much the wiser. Professors of rhe 
toric, no doubt, must have such discussions ; but when 

* After all, the remark may not have been so absurd then as 
it appears now. Burns had not been long dead, nor was he 
then so noted a character as he is now. The Scotsmen might 
really have supposed a Southerner unacquainted with the fact 
of the poet s death. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 246 

you wish to be amused by the thing itself, it is some 
what disappointing to be presented with metaphy 
sical analysis. It is like instituting an examination 
of the glass and cork of a champagne bottle, and a 
chemical testing of the wine. In the very process 
the volatile and sparkling draught which was to de 
light the palate has become like ditch water, vapid 
and dead. What I mean is, that, call it wit or 
humour, or what you please, there is a school of Scot 
tish pleasantry, amusing and characteristic beyond all 
other. Don t think of analysing its nature, or the 
qualities of which it is composed ; enjoy its quaint 
and amusing flow of oddity and fun ; as we may, for 
instance, suppose it to have flowed on that eventful 
night so joyously described by Burns : 

" The souter tauld his queerest stories, 
The landlord s laugh was ready chorus." 

Or we may think of the delight it gave the good Mr. 
Balwhidder, when he tells, in his Annals of the Parish, 
of some such story, that it was a "jocosity that was 
just a kittle to hear." When I speak of changes in 
such Scottish humour which have taken place, I refer 
to a particular sort of humour, and I speak of the sort 
of feeling that belongs to Scottish pleasantry, which 
is sly, and cheery, and pawky. It is undoubtedly a 
humour that depends a good deal upon the vehicle in 
which the story is conveyed. If, as we have said, 
our quaint dialect is passing away, and our national 
eccentric points of character, we must expect to find 
much of the peculiar humour allied with them to have 
passed away also. In other departments of wit and 
repartee, and acute hits at men and things, Scotsmen 
(whatever Sydney Smith may have said to the con 
trary) are equal to their neighbours, and, so far as I 



24 REMINISCENCES OF 

know, may have gained rather than lost. But this 
peculiar humour of which I now speak has not, in our 
day, the scope and development which were permitted 
to it by the former generation. Where the tendency 
exists, the exercise of it is kept down by the usages 
and feelings of society. For examples of it (in its full 
foree at any rate) we must go back to a race who are 
departed. One remark, however, has occurred to me 
in regard to the specimens we have of this kind of 
humour viz. that they do not always proceed from 
the personal wit or cleverness of any of the individuals 
concerned in them. The amusement comes from the 
circumstances, from the concurrence or combination 
of the ideas, and in many cases from the mere expres 
sions which describe the facts. The humour of the 
narrative is unquestionable, and yet no one has tried 
to be humorous. In short, it is the Scottishness that 
gives the zest. The same ideas differently expounded 
might have no point at all. There is, for example, 
something highly original in the notions of celestial 
mechanics entertained by an honest Scottish Fife lass 
regarding the theory of comets. Having occasion to 
go out after dark, and having observed the brilliant 
comet then visible (1858), she ran in with breathless 
haste to the house, calling on her fellow-servants to 
" Come oot and see a new star that hasna got its tail 
cuttit aff yet ! Exquisite astronomical speculation ! 
Stars, like puppies, are born with tails, and in due 
time have them docked. Take an example of a story 
where there is no display of any one s wit or humour, 
and yet it is a good story, and one can t exactly say 
why : An English traveller had gone on a fine High 
land road so long, without having seen an indication 
of fellow-travellers, that he became astonished at the 
solitude of the countrv ; and no doubt before the 

V 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 247 

Highlands were so much frequented as they are in 
our time, the roads sometimes bore a very striking 
aspect of solitariness. Our traveller, at last coming 
up to an old man breaking stones, asked him if 
there was any traffic on this road was it at all fre 
quented 1 " Ay," he said, coolly, " it s no ill at that ; 
there was a cadger body yestreen, and there s yoursell 
the day." No English version of the story could have 
half such amusement, or have so quaint a character. 
An answer even still more characteristic is recorded 
to have been given by a countryman to a traveller. 
Being doubtful of his way, he inquired if he were on 
the right road to Dunkeld. With some of his national 
inquisitiveness about strangers, the countryman asked 
his inquirer where he came from. Offended at the 
liberty, as he considered it, he sharply reminded the 
man that where he came from was nothing to him ; 
but all the answer he got was the quiet rejoinder, 
" Indeed, it s just as little to me whar ye re gaen." 
A friend has told me of an answer highly characteristic 
of this dry and unconcerned quality which he heard 
given to a fellow-traveller. A gentleman sitting 
opposite to him in the stage-coach at Berwick com 
plained bitterly that the cushion on which he sat was 
quite wet. On looking up to the roof he saw a hole 
through which the rain descended copiously, and at 
once accounted for the mischief. He called for the 
coachman, and in great wrath reproached him with 
the evil under which he suffered, and pointed to the 
hole which was the cause of it. All the satisfaction, 
however, that he got was the quiet unmoved reply, 
" Ay, mony a ane has complained o that hole." Another 
anecdote I heard from a gentleman who vouched for 
the truth, which is just a case where the narrative 
has its humour not from the wit which is displayed 



248 REMINISCENCES OP 

but from that dry matter-of-fact view of things peculiar 
to some of our countrymen. The friend of my inform 
ant was walking in a street of Perth, when, to his 
horror, he saw a workman fall from a roof where he 
was mending slates, right upon the pavement. By 
extraordinary good fortune he was not killed, and on 
the gentleman going up to his assistance, and exclaim 
ing, with much excitement, " God bless me, are you 
much hurt ?" all the answer he got was the cool re 
joinder, " On the contrary, sir." A similar matter-of 
fact answer was made by one of the old race of 
Montrose humorists. He was coming out of church, 
and in the press of the kirk skailing, a young man 
thoughtlessly trod on the old gentleman s toe, which 
was tender with corns. He hastened to apologise, 
saying, " I am very sorry, sir ; I beg your pardon." 
The only acknowledgment of which was the dry 
answer, "And ye ve as muckle need, sir." An old 
man marrying a very young wife, his friends rallied 
him on the inequality of their ages. " She will be 
near me, 7 he replied, " to close my een." " Weel," 
remarked another of the party, " I ve had twa wives, 
and they opened my een" 

One of the best specimens of cool Scottish matter- 
of-fact view of things has been supplied by a kind 
correspondent, who narrates it from his own personal 
recollection. 

The back windows of the house where he was 
brought up looked upon the Greyfriars Church that 
was burnt down. On the Sunday morning in which 
that event took place, as they were all preparing to 
go to church, the flames began to burst forth ; the 
young people screamed from the back part of the 
house, " A fire ! A fire ! and all was in a state of 
confusion and alarm. The housemaid was not at 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 249 

home, it being her turn for the Sunday " out." Kitty, 
the cook, was taking her place, and performing her 
duties. The old woman was always very particular 
on the subject of her responsibility on such occasions, 
and came panting and hobbling up stairs from the 
lower regions, and exclaimed, " Oh, what is t. what 
is U" "0 Kitty, look here, the Greyfriars Church 
is on fire ! "Is that a , Miss 1 What a fricht ye 
geed me ! I thought ye said the parlour fire was out." 

In connection with the subject of Scottish toasts I 
am supplied by a first-rate Highland authority of one 
of the most graceful and crushing replies of a lady to 
what was intended as a sarcastic compliment and 
smart saying at her expense. 

About the beginning of the present century the 
then Campbell of Combie, on Loch Awe side, in 
Argyleshire, was a man of extraordinary character, 
and of great physical strength, and such swiftness of 
foot that it is said he could " catch the best tup on 
the hill." He also looked upon himself as a "pretty 
man," though in this he was singular ; also, it was 
more than whispered that the laird was not remark 
able for his principles of honesty. There also lived 
in the same district a Miss MacNabb of Bar-a -Chais- 
tril, a lady who, before she had passed the zenith of 
life, had never been remarkable for her beauty the 
contrary even had passed into a proverb, while she 
was in her teens ; but, to counterbalance this defect- 
in external qualities, nature had endowed her with 
great benevolence, while she was renowned for her 
probity. One day the Laird of Combie, who piqued 
himself on his bon-mvts, was, as frequently happened. 
a guest of Miss MacNabb s, and after dinner several 
toasts had gone round as usual, Combie rose with 
great solemnity and addressing the lady of the house 



250 REMINISCENCES OF 

requested an especial bumper, insisting on all the 
guests to fill to the brim. He then rose and said, 
addressing himself to Miss MacNabb, " I propose the 
old Scottish toast of * Honest men and bonnie lassies/ " 
and bowing to the hostess, he resumed his seat. The 
lady returned his bow with her usual amiable smile, 
and taking up her glass, replied, " Weel, Combie, I 
am sure we may drink that, for it will neither apply 
to you nor me. 1 

An amusing example of a quiet cool view of a 
pecuniary transaction happened to my father whilst 
doing the business of the rent-day. He was receiving 
sums of money from the tenants in succession. After 
looking over a bundle of notes which he had just 
received from one of them, a well-known character, 
he said in banter, " James, the notes are not correct." 
To which the farmer, who was much of a humorist, 
drily answered, "I dinna ken what they may be noo; 
but they were a richt afore ye had your fingers in 
amang em." An English farmer would hardly have 
spoken thus to his landlord. The Duke of Buccleuch 
told me an answer very quaintly Scotch, given to 
his grandmother by a farmer of the old school. A 
dinner was given to some tenantry of the vast estates 
of the family, in the time of Duke Henry. His 
Duchess (the last descendant of the Dukes of Mon 
tague) always appeared at table on such occasions, 
and did the honours with that mixture of dignity 
and of affable kindness for which she was so remark 
able. Abundant hospitality was shown to all the 
guests. The Duchess, having observed one of the 
tenants supplied with boiled beef from a noble round, 
proposed that he should add a supply of cabbage : on 
his declining, the Duchess good-hum ouredly remarked, 
" Why, boiled beef and l greens seem so naturally to 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 251 

go together, I wonder you don t take it." To which 
the honest farmer objected, "Ah, but your Grace 
maun alloo it s a vary windy vegetable," in delicate 
allusion to the flatulent quality of the esculent. 
Similar to this was the naive answer of a farmer on 
the occasion of a rent-day. The lady of the house 
asked him if he would take some " rhubarb-tart," to 
which he innocently answered, " Thank ye, mem, I 
dinna need it." 

A Highland minister, dining with the patroness of 
his parish, ventured to say, " I ll thank your leddyship 
for a little more of that apple-tart ; " " It s not apple- 
tart, it s rhubarb," replied the lady. " Rhubarb ! 
repeated the other, with a look of surprise and alarm, 
and immediately called out to the attendant, " Freend, 
I ll thank you for a dram." 

A characteristic table anecdote I can recall amongst 
Deeside reminiscences. My aunt, Mrs. Forbes, had 
entertained an honest Scotch farmer at Banchory 
Lodge ; a draught of ale had been offered to him, which 
he had quickly despatched. My aunt observing that 
the glass had no head or effervescence, observed, that 
she feared it had not been a good bottle, " Oh, vera 
gude, maam, it s just some strong o the aaple," an 
expression which indicates the beer to be somewhat 
sharp or pungent. It turned out to have been a 
bottle of vinegar decanted by mistake. 

An amusing instance of an old Scottish farmer being 
unacquainted with table refinements occurred at a ten 
ant s dinner in the north. The servant had put down 
beside him a dessert spoon when he had been helped 
to pudding. This seemed quite superfluous to the 
honest man, who exclaimed, " Tak it awa, my man ; 
my mou s as big for puddin as it is for kail." 

Amongst the lower orders in Scotland humour is 



252 REMINISCENCES OF 

found, occasionally, very rich in mere children, and 1 
recollect a remarkable illustration of this early native 
humour occurring in a family in Forfarshire, where I 
used in former days to be very intimate. A wretched 
woman, who used to traverse the country as a beggar 
or tramp, left a poor, half-starved little girl by the 
road-side, near the house of my friends. Always ready 
to assist the unfortunate, they took charge of the child, 
and as she grew a little older they began to give her 
some education, and taught her to read. She soon 
made some progress in reading the Bible, and the native 
odd humour of which we speak began soon to show 
itself. On reading the passage, which began, " Then 
David rose," etc., the child stopped, and looked up 
knowingly, to say, " I ken wha that was," and on being 
asked what she could mean, she confidently said, 
" That s David Eowse the pleuchman." And again, 
reading the passage where the words occur, " He took 
Paul s girdle," the child said, with much confidence, 
" I ken what he took that for," and on being asked 
to explain, replied at once, " To bake s bannocks on ;" 
" girdle being in the north the name for the iron 
plate hung over the fire for baking oat cakes or 
bannocks. 

To a distinguished member of the Church of Scot 
land I am indebted for an excellent story of quaint 
child humour, which he had from the lips of an old 
woman who related the story of herself: When a 
girl of eight years of age she was taken by her grand 
mother to church. The parish minister was not only 
a long preacher, but, as the custom was, delivered two 
sermons on the Sabbath day without any interval, and 
thus saved the parishioners the two journeys to church. 
Elizabeth was sufficiently wearied before the close of 
the first discourse ; but when, after singing and prayer. 



THE BONNET LAIRD 

From a water-colour drawing by 

HENRY W. KERR, 
-I.R.S.A., R.S.JJ: 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 

the good minister opened the Bible, read a second 
text, and prepared to give a second sermon, the young 
girl, being both tired and hungry, lost all patience, 
and cried out to her grandmother, to the no small 
amusement of those who were so near as to hear her, 
" Come awa, granny, and gang hame ; this is a lang 
grace, and nae meat." 

A most amusing account of child humour used to 
be narrated by an old Mr. Campbell of Jura, who told 
the story of his own son. It seems the boy was much 
spoilt by indulgence. In fact, the parents were scarce 
able to refuse him anything he demanded. He was 
in the drawing-room on one occasion when dinner 
was announced, and on being ordered up to the 
nursery he insisted on going down to dinner with the 
company. His mother was for refusal, but the child 
persevered, and kept saying, " If I dinna gang, I ll tell 
thon." His father then, for peace sake, let him go. 
So he went and sat at table by his mother. When 
he found every one getting soup and himself omitted, 
he demanded soup, and repeated, " If I dinna get it, 
I ll tell thon." Well, soup was given, and various 
other things yielded to his importunities, to which he 
always added the usual threat of "telling thon." At 
last, when it came to wine, his mother stood firm, and 
positively refused, as " a bad thing for little boys," and 
so on. He then became more vociferous than ever 
about "telling thon ;" and as still he was refused, he 
declared, " Now, I will tell thon," and at last roared out, 
" Ma new breeks were made oot o 1 the auld curtains ! " 

The Rev. Mr. Agnew has kindly sent me an 
anecdote which supplies an example of cleverness in a 
Scottish boy, and which rivals, as he observes, the 
smartness of the London boy, termed by Punch the 
" Street boy." It has also a touch of quiet, sly Scottish 



254 REMINISCENCES OF 

humour. A gentleman, editor of a Glasgow paper, 
well known as a bon-vivant and epicure, and by no 
means a popular character, was returning one day from 
his office, and met near his own house a boy carrying 
a splendid salmon. The gentleman looked at it with 
longing eyes, and addressed the boy " Where are 
you taking that salmon, my boy ? Boy " Do you 

ken gin ae Mr. (giving the gentleman s name) 

lives hereabout 1 Mr. " Yes, oh yes ; his 

house is here just by." Boy (looking sly) " Weel, 
it s no for him." Of this same Scottish boy cleverness, 
the Eev. Mr. M Lure of Marykirk kindly supplies a 
capital specimen, in an instance which occurred at 
what is called the market, at Fettercairn, where there 
is always a hiring of servants. A boy was asked by 
a farmer if he wished to be engaged. " Ou ay," said 
the youth. ; Wha was your last maister 1 was the 
next question. " Oh, yonder him," said the boy; and 
then agreeing to wait where he was standing with 
some other servants till the inquirer should return 
from examination of the boy s late employer. The 
farmer returned and accosted the boy, " Weel, lathie, 
I ve been speerin about ye, an I m tae tak ye." " Ou 
ay," was the prompt reply, "an I ve been speerin 
about ye tae, an I rn nae gaen." 

We could not have had a better specimen of the cool 
self-sufficiency of these young domestics of the Scottish 
type than the following : I heard of a boy making a 
very cool and determined exit from the house into 
which he had very lately been introduced. He had 
been told that he should be dismissed if he broke any 
of the china that was under his charge. On the 
morning of a great dinner-party he was entrusted 
(rather rashly) with a great load of plates, which he 
was to carry up-stairs from the kitchen to the dining- 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 255 

room, and which were piled up, and rested upon his two 
hands. In going up-stairs his foot slipped, and the 
plates were broken to atoms. He at once went up to 
the drawing-room, put his head in at the door, and 
shouted : " The plates are a smashed, and I m 



awa. 



A facetious and acute friend, who rather leans to 
the Sydney Smith view of Scottish wit, declares that 
all our humorous stories are about lairds, and lairds 
that are drunk. Of such stories there are certainly 
not a few. The following is one of the best belong 
ing to my part of the country, and to many persons 
I should perhaps apologise for introducing it at all. 
The story has been told of various parties and 
localities, but no doubt the genuine laird was a laird 
of Balnamoon (pronounced in the country Bonny- 
moon), and that the locality was a wild tract of land, 
not far from his place, called Munrimmon Moor. 
Balnamoon had been dining out in the neighbourhood, 
where, by mistake, they had put down to him after 
dinner cherry brandy, instead of port wine, his usual 
beverage. The rich flavour and strength so pleased 
him that, having tasted it, he would have nothing 
else. On rising from table, therefore, the laird would 
be more affected by his drink than if he had taken 
his ordinary allowance of port. His servant Harry 
or Hairy was to drive him home in a gig, or whisky 
as it was called, the usual open carriage of the time. 
On crossing the moor, however, whether from greater 
exposure to the blast, or from the laird s unsteadiness 
of head, his hat and wig came off and fell upon the 
ground. Harry got out to pick them up and restore 
them to his master. The laird was satisfied with the 
hat, but demurred at the wig. " It s no my wig, 
Hairy, lad ; it s no my wig," and refused to havo 



256 REMINISCENCES OF 

anything to do with it. Hairy lost his patience, and, 
anxious to get home, remonstrated with his master, 
" Ye d better tak it, sir, for there s nae waile* o wigs 
on Munrimmon Moor." The humour of the argument 
is exquisite, putting to the laird in his unreasonable 
objection the sly insinuation that in such a locality, 
if he did not take this wig, he was not likely to find 
another. Then, what a rich expression, " waile o 
wigs." In English what is it 1 ? "A choice of per 
ukes ; which is nothing comparable to the " waile o 
wigs." I ought to mention also an amusing sequel 
to the story, viz. in what happened after the affair of 
the wig had been settled, and the laird had consented 
to return home. When the whisky drove up to the 
door, Hairy, sitting in front, told the servant who 
came "to tak out the laird." No laird was to be 
seen ; and it appeared that he had fallen out on the 
moor without Hairy observing it. Of course, they 
went back, and, picking him up, brought him safe 
home. A neighbouring laird having called a few 
days after, and having referred to the accident, 
Balnamoon quietly added, " Indeed, I maun hae a 
lume t that ll hand in." 

The laird of Balnamoon was a truly eccentric 
character. He joined with his drinking propensities 
a great zeal for the Episcopal church, the service of 
which he read to his own family with much solemnity 
and earnestness of manner. Two gentlemen, one of 
them a stranger to the country, having called pretty 
early one Sunday morning, Balnamoon invited them 
to dinner, and as they accepted the invitation, they 
remained and joined in the forenoon devotional exer 
cises conducted by Balnamoon himself. The stranger 
was much impressed with the laird s performance of 

* Choice. t A 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 257 

the service, and during a walk which they took before 
dinner, mentioned to his friend how highly he es 
teemed the religious deportment of their host. The 
gentleman said nothing, but smiled to himself at the 
scene which he anticipated was to follow. After 
dinner, Balnamoon set himself, according to the cus 
tom of old hospitable Scottish hosts, to make his 
guests as drunk as possible. The result was, that the 
party spent the evening in a riotous debauch, and 
were carried to bed by the servants at a late hour. 
Next day, when they had taken leave and left the 
house, the gentleman who had introduced his friend 
asked him what he thought of their entertainer 
" Why, really," he replied, with evident astonishment, 
" sic a speat o praying, and sic a speat o drinking, I 
never knew in the whole course o my life." 

Lady Dalhousie, mother, I mean, of the late dis 
tinguished Marquis of Dalhousie, used to tell a cha 
racteristic anecdote of her day. But here, on mention 
of the name Christian, Countess of Dalhousie, may I 
pause a moment to recall the memory of one who was 
a very remarkable person. She was for many years, 
to me and mine, a sincere, and true and valuable 
friend. By an awful dispensation of God s providence 
her death happened instantaneously under my roof in 
1839. Lady Dalhousie was eminently distinguished 
for a fund of the most varied knowledge, for a clear 
and powerful judgment, for acute observation, a kind 
heart, a brilliant wit. Her story was thus: A 
Scottish judge, somewhat in the predicament of the 
Laird of Balnamoon, had dined at Coalstoun with her 
father Charles Brown, an advocate, and son of George 
Brown, who sat in the Supreme Court as a judge with 
the title of Lord Coalstoun. The party had been 
convivial, as we know parties of the highest legal 



258 REMINISCENCES OF 

characters often were in those days. When breaking 
up and going to the drawing-room, one of them, not 
seeing his way very clearly, stepped out of the dining- 
room window, which was open to the summer air. 
The ground at Coalstoun sloping off from the house 
behind, the worthy judge got a great fall, and rolled 
down the bank. He contrived, however, as tipsy 
men generally do, to regain his legs, and was able to 
reach the drawing-room. The first remark he made 
was an innocent remonstrance with his friend the 
host, " Od, Charlie Brown, what gars ye hae sic lang 
steps to your front door 1 

On Deeside, where many original stories had their 
origin, I recollect hearing several of an excellent and 
worthy, but very simple-minded man, the Laird of 
Craigmyle. On one occasion, when the beautiful and 
clever Jane, Duchess of Gordon, was scouring through 
the country, intent upon some of those electioneering 
schemes which often occupied her fertile imagination 
and active energies, she came to call at Craigmyle, 
and having heard that the laird was making bricks 
on the property, for the purpose of building a new 
garden wall, with her usual tact she opened the sub 
ject, and kindly asked, " Well, Mr. Gordon, and how 
do your bricks come on] Good Craigmyle s thoughts 
were much occupied with a new leather portion of his 
dress, which had been lately constructed, so, looking 
down on his nether garments, he said in pure Aber 
deen dialect, "Muckle obleeged to yer Grace, the 
breeks war sum ticht at first, but they are deeing 
weel eneuch noo." 

The last Laird of Macnab, before the clan finally 
broke up and emigrated to Canada, was a well-known 
character in the country, and being poor, used to ride 
a,bout on a most wretched horse, which gave occasion 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 259 

to many jibes at his expense. The laird was in the 
constant habit of riding up from the country to attend 
the Musselburgh races. A young wit, by way of 
playing him off on the race-course, asked him, in a 
contemptuous tone, " Is that the same horse you had 
last year, laird 1 " " Na," said the laird, brandishing 
his whip in the interrogator s face in so emphatic a 
manner as to preclude further questioning, " na ; but 
it s the same wimp" In those days, as might be ex 
pected, people were not nice in expressions of their 
dislike of persons and measures. If there be not 
more charity in society than of old, there is certainly 
more courtesy. I have, from a friend, an anecdote 
illustrative of this remark, in regard to feelings 
exercised towards an unpopular laird. In the neigh 
bourhood of Banff, in Forfarshire, the seat of a very 
ancient branch of the Bamsays, lived a proprietor 
who bore the appellation of Corb, from the name of 
his estate. This family has passed away, and its 
property merged in Banff. The laird was intensely 
disliked in the neighbourhood. Sir George Ramsay 
was, on the other hand, universally popular and re 
spected. On one occasion, Sir George, in passing a 
morass in his own neighbourhood, had missed the road 
and fallen into a bog to an alarming depth. To his 
great relief, he saw a passenger coming along the path, 
which was at no great distance. He called loudly for 
his help, but the man took no notice. Poor Sir 
George felt himself sinking, and redoubled his cries 
for assistance ; all at once the passenger rushed for 
ward, carefully extricated him from his perilous posi 
tion, and politely apologised for his first neglect of his 
appeal, adding, as his reason, " Indeed, Sir George, I 
thought it was Corb !" evidently meaning that Tind it 
been Corb, he must have taken his chance for him. 



260 REMINISCENCES OF 

In Lanarkshire there lived a sma sma laird named 
Hamilton, who was noted for his eccentricity. On 
one occasion, a neighbour waited on him, and requested 
his name as an accommodation to a " bit bill for 
twenty pounds at throe months date, which led to 
the following characteristic and truly Scottish colloquy : 
" Na, na, I canna do that." "What for no, laird] 
ye hae dune the same thing for ithers." "Ay, ay, 
Tammas, but there s wheels within wheels ye ken 
naething about ; I canna do t." " It s a sma affair to 
refuse me, laird." " Weel, ye see, Tammas, if I was to 
pit my name till t, ye wad get the siller frae the bank, 
and when the time came round, ye wadna be ready, 
and I wad hae to pay t ; sae then you and me wad 
quarrel ; sae we may just as weel quarrel the noo, as 
lang s the siller s in ma pouch." On one occasion, 
Hamilton having business with the late Duke of 
Hamilton at Hamilton Palace, the Duke politely 
asked him to lunch. A liveried servant waited upon 
them, and was most assiduous in his attentions to the 
Duke and his guest. At last our eccentric friend lost 
patience, and looking at the servant, addressed him 
thus, " What the deil for are ye dance, dancing, about 
the room that gait 1 can ye no draw in your chair 
and sit down 1 I m sure there s plenty on the table for 
three" 

As a specimen of the old-fashioned Laird, now 
become a Reminiscence, who adhered pertinaciously 
to old Scottish usages, and to the old Scottish dialect, 
I cannot, I am sure, adduce a better specimen than 
Mr. Fergusson of Pitfour, to whose servant I have 
already referred. He was always called Pitfour. from 
the name of his property in Aberdeenshire. He must 
have died fifty years ago. He was for many years 
M.P. for the county of Aberdeen, and I have reason to 



SCOTTISH LIFE d- CHARACTER. 261 

believe that he made the enlightened parliamentary de 
claration which has been given to others : He said 
"he had often heard speeches in the House, which 
had changed his opinion, but none that had ever 
changed his vote." I recollect hearing of his dining 
in London sixty years ago, at the house of a Scottish 
friend, where there was a swell party, and Pitfour 
was introduced as a great northern proprietor, and 
county M.P. A fashionable lady patronised him 
graciously, and took great charge of him, and asked 
him about his estates. Pitfour was very dry and 
sparing in his communications, as for example, " What 
does your home farm chiefly produce, Mr. Fergusson 1 * 
Answer, " Girss." " I beg your pardon, Mr. Fergus- 
son, what does your home farm produce 1 All she 
could extract was, " Girss." 

Of another laird, whom I heard often spoken of in 
old times, an anecdote was told strongly Scottish. 
Our friend had much difficulty (as many worthy 
lairds have had) in meeting the claims of those two 
woeful periods of the year called with us in Scotland 
the "tarmes." He had been employing for some 
time as workman a stranger from the south on some 
house repairs, of the not uncommon name in England 
of Christmas. His servant early one morning called 
out at the laird s door in great excitement that 
" Christmas had run away, and nobody knew where 
he had gone." He coolly turned in his bed with the 
ejaculation, " I only wish he had taken Whitsunday 
and Martinmas along with him." I do not know a 
better illustration of quiet, shrewd, and acute Scottish 
humour than the following little story, which au 
esteemed correspondent mentions having heard from 
his father when a boy, relating to a former Duke of 
Athole, who had no family of his own, and whom he 

2 A 



262 REMINISCENCES OF 

mentions as having remembered very well : He met, 
one morning, one of his cottars or gardeners, whose 
wife he knew to be in the hopeful ivay. Asking him 
" how Marget was the day," the man replied that she 
had that morning given him twins. Upon which the 
Duke said, " Weel, Donald ; ye ken the Almighty 
never sends bairns without the meat." " That may 
be, your Grace," said Donald ; " but whiles I think 
that Providence maks a mistak in thae matters, and 
sends the bairns to ae hoose and the meat to 
anither ! The Duke took the hint, and sent him a 
cow with calf the following morning. 

I have heard of an amusing scene between a laird, 
noted for his meanness, and a wandering sort of Edie 
Ochiltree, a well-known itinerant w r ho lived by his 
wits and what he could pick up in his rounds amongst 
the houses through the country. The laird, having 
seen the beggar sit down near his gate to examine 
the contents of his pock or wallet, conjectured that 
he had come from his house, and so drew near to see 
what he had carried off. As the laird was keenly 
investigating the mendicant s spoils, his quick eye 
detected some bones on which there remained more 
meat than should have been allowed to leave his 
kitchen. Accordingly he pounced upon the bones, 
declaring he had been robbed, and insisted on the 
beggar returning to the house and giving back the 
spoil. He was, however, prepared for the attack, 
and sturdily defended his property, boldly asserting, 
" Na, na, laird, thae are no Tod-brae banes ; they are 
Inch-byre banes, and nane o your honour s" mean 
ing that he had received these bones at the house of 
a neighbour of a more liberal character. The beggar s 
professional discrimination between the merits of the 
bones of the two mansions, and his pertinacious de- 



SCOTTISH LIFE 6 CHARACTER. 263 

fence of his own property, would have been most 
amusing to a bystander. 

I have, however, a reverse story, in which the 
beggar is quietly silenced by the proprietor. A noble 
lord, some generations back, well known for his frugal 
habits, had just picked up a small copper coin in his 
own avenue, and had been observed by one of the 
itinerating mendicant race, who, grudging the transfer 
of the piece into the peer s pocket, exclaimed, " 0, 
gie t to me, my lord ; to which the quiet answer 
was, " Na, na ; fin a fardin for yersell, puir body." 

There are always pointed anecdotes against houses 
wanting in a liberal and hospitable expenditure in 
Scotland. Thus, we have heard of a master leaving 
such a mansion, and taxing his servant with being 
drunk, which he had too often been after other 
country visits. On this occasion, however, he was 
innocent of the charge, for he had not the opportunity 
to transgress. So, when his master asserted, " Jemmy, 
you are drunk ! Jemmy very quietly answered, 
"Indeed, sir, I wish I wur." At another mansion, 
notorious for scanty fare, a gentleman was inquiring 
of the gardener about a dog which some time ago he 
had given to the laird. The gardener showed him a 
lank greyhound, on which the gentleman said, " No, 
no ; the dog I gave your master was a mastiff, not a 
greyhound ; " to which the gardener quietly answered, 
" Indeed, ony dog micht sune become a greyhound by 
stopping here." 

From a friend and relative, a minister of the 
Established Church of Scotland, I used to hear many 
characteristic stories. He had a curious vein of this 
sort of humour in himself, besides what he brought 
out from others. One of his peculiarities was a mor 
tal antipathy to the whole French nation, whom he 



264 REMINISCENCES OF 

frequently abused in no measured terms. At the 
same time he had great relish of a glass of claret, 
which he considered the prince of all social beverages. 
So he usually finished off his antigallican tirades, 
with the reservation, " But the bodies brew the braw 
drink." He lived amongst his own people, and knew 
well the habits and peculiarities of a race gone by. 
He had many stories connected with the pastoral 
relation between minister and people, and all such 
stcries are curious, not merely for their amusement, 
but from the illustration they afford us of that 
peculiar Scottish humour which we are now describ 
ing. He had himself, when a very young boy, before 
he came up to the Edinburgh High School, been at 
the parochial school where he resided, and which, 
like many others, at that period, had a considerable 
reputation for the skill and scholarship of the master. 
He used to describe school scenes rather different, I 
euspect, from school scenes in our day. One boy, 
on coming late, explained that the cause had been a 
regular pitched battle between his parents, with the 
details of which he amused his school-fellows ; and 
he described the battle in vivid and Scottish Homeric 
terms: "And eh, as they faucht, and they faucht," 
adding, however, with much complacency, " but my 
minnie dang, she did tho ." 

There was a style of conversation and quaint modes 
of expression between ministers and their people at 
that time, which, I suppose, would seem strange to 
the present generation ; as, for example, I recollect a 
conversation between this relative and one of his 
parishioners of this description.- -It had been a very 
wet and unpromising autumn. The minister met a 
certain Janet of his flock, and accosted her very 
kindly. He remarked, " Bad prospect for the har st 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 265 

(harvest), Janet, this wet." Janet " Indeed, sir, I ve 
seen as muckle as that there ll be nae har st the year." 
Minister " Na, Janet, deil as muckle as that t evei 
you saw." 

As I have said, he was a clergyman of the Estab 
lished Church, and had many stories about ministers 
and people, arising out of his own pastoral experience, 
or the experience of friends and neighbours. He was 
much delighted with the not very refined rebuke 
which one of his own farmers had given to a young 
minister who had for some Sundays occupied his 
pulpit. The young man had dined with the farmer 
in the afternoon when services were over, and his 
appetite was so sharp, that he thought it necessary to 
apologise to his host for eating so substantial a dinner. 
"You see," he said, "I am always very hungry 
after preaching." The old gentleman, not much 
admiring the youth s pulpit ministrations, having 
heard this apology two or three times, at last replied 
sarcastically, " Indeed, sir, I m no surprised at it, con 
sidering the trash that comes aff your stamach in the 
morning." 

What I wish to keep in view is, to distinguish 
anecdotes which are amusing on account merely of 
the expressions used, from those which have real wit 
and humour combined, with the purely Scottish vehicle 
in which they are conveyed. 

Of this class I could not have a better specimen to 
commence with than the defence of the liturgy of his 
church, by John Skinner of Langside, of whom pre 
vious mention has been made. It is witty and clever. 

Being present at a party (I think at Lord Forbes s), 
where were also several ministers of the Establish 
ment, the conversation over their wine turned, among 
other things, on the Prayer Book. Skinner took no 



266 REMINISCENCES OF 

part in it, till one minister remarked to him, " The 
great faut I hae to your prayer-book is that ye use 
the Lord s Prayer sae aften, ye juist mak a dishclout 
o t." Skinner s rejoinder was, "Verra true! Ay, 
man, we mak a dishclout o t, an we wrmg t, an we 
wring t, an we wring t, an the bree * o t washes a the 
lave o our prayers." 

No one, I think, could deny the wit of the two fol 
lowing rejoinders. 

A ruling elder of a country parish in the west of 
Scotland was well known in the district as a shrewd 
and ready-witted man. He received many a visit from 
persons who liked a banter, or to hear a good joke. 
Three young students gave him a call in order to have 
a little amusement at the elder s expense. On ap 
proaching him, one of them saluted him, " Well, 
Father Abraham, how are you to-day 1 " You are 
wrong," said the other, " this is old Father Isaac." 
" Tuts," said the third, " you are both mistaken ; this 
is old Father Jacob." David looked at the young men, 
and in his own way replied, " I am neither old Father 
Abraham, nor old Father Isaac, nor old Father Jacob ; 
but I am Saul the son of Kish, seeking his father s 
asses, and lo ! I ve found three o them." 

For many years the Baptist community of Dun- 
fermline was presided over by brothers David Dewar 
and James Inglis, the latter of whom has just re 
cently gone to his reward. Brother David was a 
plain, honest, straightforward man, who never hesi 
tated to express his convictions, however unpalatable 
they might be to others. Being elected a member of 
the Prison Board, he was called upon to give his vote 
in the choice of a chaplain from the licentiates of the 
Established Kirk. The party who had gained the con- 

* Juice. 



SCOTTISH LIFE 6 CHARACTER. 267 

fidence of the Board had proved rather an indifferent 
preacher in a charge to which he had previously been 
appointed ; and on David being asked to signify his 
assent to the choice of the Board, he said, " Weel, I ve 
no objections to the man, for I understand he has 
preached a kirk toom (empty) already, and if he be as 
successful in the jail, he ll maybe preach it vawcant 
as weel." 

From Mr. Inglis, clerk of the Court of Session, I 
have the following Scottish rejoinder : 

"I recollect my father relating a conversation be 
tween a Perthshire laird and one of his tenants. The 
laird s eldest son was rather a simpleton. Laird says, 
1 1 am going to send the young laird abroad. What 
for] asks the tenant ; answered, To see the world ; 
tenant replies, But, lord-sake, laird, will no the world 
see him ? 

An admirably humorous reply is recorded of a 
Scotch officer, well known and esteemed in his day for 
mirth and humour. Captain Innes of the Guards 
(usually called Jock Innes by his contemporaries) was 
with others getting ready for Flushing or some of 
those expeditions of the beginning of the great war. 
His commanding officer (Lord Huntly, my correspond 
ent thinks) remonstrated about the badness of his 
hat, and recommended a new one " Na, na ! bide a 
wee," said Jock; "where we re gain faith there ll 
soon be mair hats nor heads. 11 

I recollect being much amused with a Scottish refer 
ence of this kind in the heart of London. Many years 
ago a Scotch party had dined at Simpson s famous 
beef-steak house in the Strand. On coming away 
some of the party could not find their hats, and my 
uncle was jocularly asking the waiter, whom he knew 
to be a Deeside man, " Whar are our bonnets, Jeems V 9 



268 REMINISCENCES OF 

To which he replied, " Deed, I mind the day when 
I had neither hat nor bonnet." 

There is an odd and original way of putting a matter 
sometimes in Scotch people, which is irresistibly comic, 
although by the persons nothing comic is intended ; 
as for example, when in 1786 Edinburgh was illumi 
nated on account of the recovery of George III. from 
severe illness. In a house where great preparation 
was going on for the occasion, by getting the candles 
fixed in tin sconces, an old nurse of the family, looking 
on, exclaimed, " Ay, it s a braw time for the cannel- 
makers when the king is sick, honest man ! : 

Scottish farmers of the old school were a shrewd 
and humorous race, sometimes not indisposed to look 
with a little jealousy upon their younger brethren, 
who, on their part, perhaps, showed their contempt for 
the old-fashioned ways. I take the following example 
from the columns of the Peterhead Sentinel, just as it 
appeared June 14, 1861 : 

" AN ANECDOTE FOR DEAN EAMSAY. The follow 
ing characteristic and amusing anecdote was communi- , 
cated to us the other day by a gentleman who hap 
pened to be a party to the conversation detailed below. 
This gentleman was passing along a road not a hun 
dred miles from Peterhead one day this week. Two 
different farms skirt the separate sides of the turnpike, 
one of which is rented by a farmer who cultivates 
his land according to the most advanced system of 
agriculture, and the other of which is farmed by a 
gentleman of the old school. Our informant met the 
latter worthy at the side of the turnpike opposite his 
neighbour s farm, and seeing a fine crop of wheat 
upon what appeared to be [and really was] very thin 
and poor land, asked, * When was that wheat sown? 
I dinna ken/ replied the gentleman of the old 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 269 

school, with a sort of half-indifference, half-contempt, 
But isn t it strange that such a fine crop should be 
reared on such bad land? asked our informant. 0, 
na nae at a deevil thank it ; a gravesteen wad gie 
guid bree * gin ye gied it plenty o butter ! 

But perhaps the best anecdote illustrative of the 
keen shrewdness of the Scottish farmer is related by 
Mr. Boyd t in one of his charming series of papers, 
reprinted from Presets Magazine. " A friend of mine, 
a country parson, on first going to his parish, resolved 
to farm his glebe for himself. A neighbouring farmer 
kindly offered the parson to plough one of his fields. 
The farmer said that he would send his man John 
with a plough and a pair of horses on a certain day 
If ye re goin about, said the farmer to the clergyman, 
John will be unco weel pleased if you speak to him, 
and say it s a fine day, or the like o that ; but dinna, 
said the farmer, with much solemnity, Minna say 
onything to him about ploughin and sawin ; for John/ 
he added, is a stupid body, but he has been ploughin 
and sawin a his life, and he ll see in a minute that 
ye ken naething aboot ploughin and sawin . And 
then, said the sagacious old farmer, with much earnest 
ness, * if he comes to think that ye ken naething aboot 
ploughin and sawin , he ll think that ye ken naething 
aboot onything ! 

The following is rather an original commentary, by 
a layman, upon clerical incomes: A relative of mine 
going to church with a Forfarshire farmer, one of the 
old school, asked him the amount of the minister s 
stipend. He said, " Od, it s a gude ane the maist 
part of 300 a year." " Well," said my relative, "many 
of these Scotch ministers are but poorly off." They ve 
* Broth. t Rev. A. K, H. Boyd. 



270 REMINISCENCES OF 

eneuch, sir, they ve eneuch ; if they d mair, it would 
want a their time to the spendin o t." 

Scotch gamekeepers had often much dry quiet 
humour. I was much amused by the answer of ono 
of those under the following circumstances : An 
Ayrshire gentleman, who was from the first a very 
bad shot, or rather no shot at all, when out on 1st of 
September, having failed, time after time, in bringing 
down a single bird, had at last pointed out to him by 
his attendant bag-carrier a large covey, thick and close 
on the stubbles. " Noo, Mr. Jeems, let drive at them, 
just as they are!" Mr. Jeems did let drive, as ad 
vised, but not a feather remained to testify the shot. 
All flew off, safe and sound " Hech, sir (remarks his 
friend), but ye ve made thae yins shift their quarters" 

The two following anecdotes of rejoinders from 
Scottish guidwives, and for which I am indebted, as 
for many other kind communications, to the Eev. 
Mr. Blair of Dunblane, appear to me as good examples 
of the peculiar Scottish pithy phraseology which we 
refer to, as any that I have met with. 

An old lady from whom the "Great Unknown 
had derived many an ancient tale, was waited upon 
one day by the author of "Waverley." On his 
endeavouring to give the authorship the go-by, the 
old dame protested, "D ye think, sir, I dinna ken 
my ain groats in ither folk s kail?"* 

A conceited packman called at a farm-house in the 
west of Scotland, in order to dispose of some of his 
wares. The goodwife was offended by his southern 
accent, and his high talk about York, London, and 
other big places. " An whaur come ye frae yersell ? 
was the question of the guidwife. " Ou, I am from 

* I believe the lady was Mrs. Murray Keith of Ravelston, 
with whom Sir Walter had in early life much intercourse. 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHARACTER. 271 

the Border." "The Border oh! I thocht that j 
for we aye think the selvidge is the wakest bit o the 
wab ! " 

The following is a good specimen of ready Scotch 
humorous reply, by a master to his discontented 
workman, and in which he turned the tables upon 
him, in his reference to Scripture. In a town of one 

of the central counties a Mr. J carried on, about 

a century ago, a very extensive business in the linen 
manufacture. Although strikes were then unknown 
among the labouring classes, the spirit from which 
these take their rise has no doubt at all times existed. 

Among Mr. J s many workmen, one had given 

him constant annoyance for years, from his discontented 
and argumentative spirit. Insisting one day on get 
ting something or other which his master thought 
most unreasonable, and refused to give in to, he at 
last submitted, with a bad grace, saying, " You re nae 
better than Pharaoh, sir, forcin puir folk to mak 
bricks without straw." "Well, Saunders," quietly 
rejoined his master, " if I m nae better than Pharaoh 
in one respect, I ll be better in another, for III no 
hinder ye going to the wilderness whenever you choose." 

Persons who are curious in Scottish stories of wit 
and humour speak much of the sayings of a certain 
" Laird of Logan," who was a well-known character 
in the West of Scotland. This same Laird of Logan 
was at a meeting of the heritors of Cumnock, where 
a proposal was made to erect a new churchyard wall. 
He met the proposition with the dry remark, " I 
never big dykes till the tenants complain." Calling 
one day for a gill of whisky in a public-house, the 
Laird was asked if he would take any water with the 
spirit. "Na, na," replied he, "I would rather ye 
would tak the water out o t." 



272 REMINISCENCES OF 

The laird sold a horse to an Englishman, saying 
" You buy him as you see him ; but he s an honest 
beast." The purchaser took him home. In a few 
days he stumbled and fell, to the damage of his own 
knees and his rider s head. On this the angry 
purchaser remonstrated with the laird, whose reply 
was, " Well, sir, I told ye he was an honest beast ; 
many a time has he threatened to come down with 
me, and I kenned he would keep his word some day." 

At the time of the threatened invasion, the laird 
had been taunted at a meeting at Ayr with want of 
loyal spirit at Cumnock, as at that place no volunteer 
corps had been raised to meet the coming danger; 
Cumnock, it should be recollected, being on a high 
situation, and ten or twelve miles from the coast. 
"What sort of people are you up at Cumnock f 
said an Ayr gentleman ; " you have not a single volun 
teer ! " " Never you heed," says Logan, very quietly ; 
" if the French land at Ayr, there will soon be plenty 
of volunteers up at Cumnock." 

A pendant to the story of candid admission on the 
part of the minister, that the people might be weary 
after his sermon, has been given on the authority of 
the narrator, a Fife gentleman, ninety years of age 
when he told it. He had been to church at Elie, 
and listening to a young and perhaps bombastic 
preacher, who happened to be officiating for the Rev. 
Dr. Milligan, who was in church. After service, 
meeting the Doctor in the passage, he introduced the 
young clergyman, who, on being asked by the old 
man how he did, elevated his shirt collar, and com 
plained of fatigue, and being very much " tired." 
"Tired, did ye say, my man?" said the old satirist, 
who was slightly deaf- "Lord, man! if you re half 
as tired as I am, I pity ye ! 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHARACTER. 278 

I have been much pleased with an offering from 
Carluke, containing two very pithy anecdotes. Mr. 
Rankin very kindly writes : " Your Reminiscences 
are most refreshing. I am very little of a story- 
collector, but I have recorded some of an old school 
master, who was a story-teller. As a sort of payment 
for the amusement I have derived from your book, 
I shall give one or two." 

He sends the two following : 

" Shortly after Mr. Kay had been inducted school 
master of Carluke (1790), the bederal called at the 
school, verbally announcing, proclamation-ways, that 
Mrs. So-and-So s funeral would be on Fuirsday. At 
what hour? asked the dominie. Ou, ony time 
atween ten and twa. At two o clock of the day 
fixed, Mr. Kay quite a stranger to the customs of 
the district arrived at the place, and was astonished 
to find a crowd of men and lads, standing here and 
there, some smoking, and all arglebargling* as if at 
the end of a fair. He was instantly, but mysteriously, 
approached, and touched on the arm by a red-faced 
bareheaded man, who seemed to be in authority, and 
was beckoned to follow. On entering the barn, which 
was seated all round, he found numbers sitting, each 
with the head bent down, and each with his hat 
between his knees all gravity and silence. Anon 
a voice was heard issuing from the far end, and a 
long prayer was uttered. They had worked at this 
what was called a service during three previous 
hours, one party succeeding another, and many taking 
advantage of every service, which consisted of a prayer 
by way of grace, a glass of white wine a glass of red 
wine, a glass of rum, and a prayer by wa}^ of thanks 
giving. After the long invocation, bread and wine 

* Disputing or bandying words backwards and forwards. 



274 REMINISCENCES OF 

passed round. Silence prevailed. Most partook of 
both rounds of wine, but when the rum came, many 
nodded refusal, and by and by the nodding seemed 
to be universal, and the trays passed on so much the 
more quickly. A sumphish weather-beaten man, with 
a large flat blue bonnet on his knee, who had nodded 
unwittingly, and was about to lose the last chance of 
a glass of rum, raised his head, saying, amid the deep 
silence, Od, I daursay I wull tak anither glass, and 
in a sort of vengeful, yet apologetic tone, added, * The 
auld jaud yince cheated me wi a cauve (calf)." 

At a farmer s funeral in the country, an undertaker 
was in charge of the ceremonial, and directing how it 
was to proceed, when he noticed a little man giving 
orders, and, as he thought, rather encroaching upon 
the duties and privileges of his own office. He asked 
him, " And wha are ye, mi man, that tak sae muckle 
on ye ? " " Oh, dinna ye ken 1 said the man, under 
a strong sense of his own importance, " I m the corp s 
brither 1 * 

Curious scenes took place at funerals where there 
was, in times gone by, an unfortunate tendency to 
join with such solemnities more attention to festal 
entertainment than was becoming. A farmer, at 
the interment of his second wife, exercised a liberal 
hospitality to his friends at the inn near the church. 
On looking over the bill, the master defended the 
charge as moderate. But he reminded him, "Ye 
forget, man, that it s no ilka ane that brings a second 
funeral to your house." 

"Dr. Scott, minister of Carluke (1770), was a fine 
graceful kindly man, always stepping about in his 
bag-wig and cane in hand, with a kind and ready 

* In Scotland the remains of the deceased person is called 
the " corp. * 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 275 

word to every one. He was officiating at a bridal in 
his parish, where there was a goodly company, had 
partaken of the good cheer, and waited till the young 
people were fairly warmed in the dance. A dissent 
ing body had sprung up in the parish, which he tried 
to think was beneath him even to notice, when he 
could help it, yet never seemed to feel at all keenly 
when the dissenters were alluded to. One of the 
chief leaders of this body was at the bridal, and felt 
it to be his bounden duty to call upon the minister 
for his reasons for sanctioning by his presence so 
sinful an enjoyment. Weel, minister, what think ye 
o this dancinT Why, John, said the minister, 
blithely, I think it an excellent exercise for young 
people, and, I dare say, so do you. * Ah, sir, I m no 
sure about it } I see nae authority for t in the Scrip 
tures. Umph, indeed, John ; you cannot forget 
David. Ah, sir, Dauvid ; gif they were a to dance 
as Dauvid did, it would be a different thing a thegither. 
c Hoot-o-fie, hoot-o-fie, John; would you have the 
young folk strip to the sarkT " 

Eeference has been made to the eccentric laird of 
Balnamoon, his wig, and his " speats o drinking and 
praying." A story of this laird is recorded, which I 
do think is well named, by a correspondent who com 
municates it 5 as a " quintessential phasis of dry Scotch 
humour," and the explanation of which would perhaps 
be thrown away upon any one who needed the explana 
tion. The story is this : The laird riding past a 
high steep bank, stopped opposite a hole in it, and 
said, " Hairy, I saw a brock gang in there." " Did 
ye?" said Hairy; " wull ye haud my horse, sir f 
" Certainly," said the laird, and away rushed Hairy 
for a spade. After digging for half-an-hour, he came 
back, quite done, to the laird, who had regarded him 



276 REMINISCENCES OF 

musingly. "I canna find him, sir," said Hairy 
" Deed," said the laird, very coolly, " I wad ha 
wondered if ye had, for it s ten years sin I saw him 
gang in there." 

Amongst many humorous colloquies between Balna- 
moon and his servant, the following must have been 
very racy and very original. The laird, accompanied 
by Hairy, after a dinner party, was riding on his way 
home, through a ford, when he fell off into the water. 
"Whae s that faun?" he inquired. " Deed," quoth 
Hairy, " I witna an it be na your honour." 

There is a peculiarity connected with what we 
have considered Scotch humour. It is more common 
for Scotsmen to associate their own feelings with na 
tional events and national history than for Englishmen. 
Take as illustrations the following, as being perhaps 
as good as any: The Rev. Eobert Scott, a Scotsman 
who forgets not Scotland in his southern vicarage, 
and whom I have named before as having sent me 
some good reminiscences, tells me that, at Inverary, 
some thirty years ago, he could not help overhearing 
the conversation of some Lowland cattle-dealers in the 
public room in which he was. The subject of the 
bravery of our navy being started, one of the inter 
locutors expressed his surprise that Nelson should 
have issued his signal at Trafalgar in the terms, 
" England expects" etc. He was met with the answer 
(which seemed highly satisfactory to the rest), "Ah, 
Nelson only said expects of the English ; he said 
naething of Scotland, for he kent the Scotch would do 
theirs." 

I am assured the following manifestation of national 
feeling against the memory of a Scottish character 
actually took place within a few years :- -Williamson 
<,the Duke of Buccleuch s huntsman) was one afternoon 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 277 

riding home from hunting through Haddington ; and 
as he passed the old Abbey, he saw an ancient 
woman looking through the iron grating in front of 
the burial-place of the Lauderdale family, holding by 
the bars, and grinning and dancing with rage. " Eh, 
gudewife," said Williamson, " what ails ye V " It s 
the Duke o Lauderdale," cried she. " Eh, if I could 
win at him, I wud rax the banes o him." 

To this class belongs the following complacent 
Scottish remark upon Bannockburn. A splenetic 
Englishman said to a Scottish countryman, something 
of a wag, that no man of taste would think of remain 
ing any time in such a country as Scotland. To 
which the canny Scot replied, " Tastes differ ; I se tak 
ye to a place no far frae Stirling, whaur thretty 
thousand o your countrymen ha been for five hunder 
years, and they ve nae thocht o leavin yet." 

In a similar spirit, an honest Scotch farmer, who 
had sent some sheep to compete at a great English 
agricultural cattle -show, and was much disgusted at 
not getting a prize, consoled himself for the disappoint 
ment, by insinuating that the judges could hardly act 
quite impartially by a Scottish competitor, compla 
cently remarking, "It s aye been the same since 
Bannockburn." 

Then, again, take the story told in Lockhart s Life 
of Sir Walter Scott, of the blacksmith whom Sir 
Walter had formerly known as a horse-doctor, and 
whom he found at a small country town south of the 
Border, practising medicine with a reckless use of 
1 laudamy and calomy," * apologising at the same 
time for the mischief he might do, by the assurance 
that it " would be lang before it made up for Flodden" 
How graphically it describes the interest felt by 

* Laudanum and calomel. 
2B 



278 REMINISCENCES OF 

Scotchmen of his rank in the incidents of their national 
history. A similar example has been recorded in 
connection with Bannockburn. Two Englishmen 
visited the field of that great battle, and a country 
blacksmith pointed out the positions of the two armies, 
the stone on which was fixed the Bruce s standard, etc. 
The gentlemen, pleased with the intelligence of their 
guide, on leaving pressed his acceptance of a crown- 
piece. " Na, na," replied the Scotsman, with much 
pride, "it has cost ye eneuch already." Such an 
example of self-denial on the part of a Scottish cicerone 
is, we fear, now rather a "reminiscence." 

A north country drover had, however, a more 
tangible opportunity of gratifying his national ani 
mosity against the Southron, and of which he availed 
himself. Eeturning homewards, after a somewhat 
unsuccessful journey, and not in very good humour 
with the Englishers, when passing through Carlisle he 
saw a notice stuck up, offering a reward of 50 for 
any one who would do a piece of service to the 
community, by officiating as executioner of the law on 
a noted criminal then under sentence of death. See 
ing a chance to make up for his bad market, and 
comforted with the assurance that he was unknown 
there, he undertook the office, executed the condemned, 
and got the fee. When moving off with the money, 
he was twitted at as a "mean beggarly Scot," doing 
for money what no Englishman would. With a grin 
and quiet glee, he only replied, " I ll hang ye a at the 
price." 

Some Scotsmen, no doubt, have a very complacent 
feeling regarding the superiority of their countrymen, 
and make no hesitation in proclaiming their opinion. 
I have always admired the quaint expression of such 
belief in a case which has recently been reported to 



SCOTTISH LIFE <6 CHARACTER. 279 

me. A young Englishman had taken a Scottish 
shooting-ground, and enjoyed his mountain sport so 
much as to imbibe a strung partiality for his northern 
residence and all its accompaniments. At a German 
watering-place he encountered, next year, an original 
character, a Scotsman of the old school, very national, 
and somewhat bigoted in his nationality : he deter 
mined to pass himself off to him as a genuine Scottish 
native j and, accordingly, he talked of Scotland and 
haggis, and sheep s head, and whisky ; he boasted of 
Bannockburn, and admired Queen Mary ; looked upon 
Scott and Burns as superior to all English writers; 
and staggered, although he did not convince, the old 
gentleman. On going away he took leave of his 
Scottish friend, and said, "Well, sir, next time we 
meet, I hope you will receive me as a real countryman." 
" Weel," he said, "I m jest thinkin , my lad, ye re nae 
Scotsman ; but I ll tell ye what ye are- -ye re juist 
an impmived Englishman." 

I am afraid we must allow that Scottish people 
have a leetle national vanity, and may be too ready 
sometimes to press the claim of their country to an 
extravagantly assumed pre-eminence in the annals of 
genius and celebrities. An extreme case of such pre 
tension I heard of lately, which is amusing. A Scots 
man, in reference to the distinction awarded to Sir 
Walter Scott, on occasion of his centenary, had roundly 
asserted, " But all who have been eminent men were 
Scotsmen." An Englishman, offended at such as 
sumption of national pre-eminence, asked indignantly, 
" What do you say to Shakspeare ? To which the 
other quietly replied, " Weel, his tawlent wad justifee 
the inference." This is rich, as an example of an a 
priori argument in favour of a man being a Scots 
man. 



280 REMINISCENCES OF 

We find in the conversation of old people frequent 
mention of a class of beings well known in country 
parishes, now either become commonplace, like the 
rest of the world, or removed altogether, and shut up 
in poorhouses or madhouses I mean the individuals 
frequently called parochial idiots ; but who were rather 
of the order of naturals. They were eccentric, or 
somewhat crazy, useless, idle creatures, who used to 
wander about from house to house, and sometimes 
made very shrewd sarcastic remarks upon what was 
going on in the parish. I heard such a person once 
described as one who was " wanting in twopence of 
change for a shilling." They used to take great 
liberty of speech regarding the conduct and disposition 
of those with whom they came in contact, and many 
odd sayings which emanated from them were tradi 
tionary in country localities. I have a kindly feeling 
towards these imperfectly intelligent, but often per 
fectly cunning beings ; partly, I believe, from recollec 
tions of early associations in boyish days with some 
of those Davy Gellatleys. I have therefore preserved 
several anecdotes with which I have been favoured, 
where their odd sayings and indications of a degree 
of mental activity have been recorded. These persons 
seem to have had a partiality for getting near the 
pulpit in church, and their presence there was accord 
ingly sometimes annoying to the preacher and the 
congregation ; as at Maybole, when Dr. Paul, now of 
St. Cuthbert s, was minister in 1823, John M Lymont, 
an individual of this class, had been in the habit of 
standing so close to the pulpit door as to overlook the 
Bible and pulpit board. When required, however, 
by the clergyman to keep at a greater distance, and 
Qot look in upon the minister, he got intensely angry 
and violent. He threatened the minister, " Sir, 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 281 

baeby (maybe) I ll come farther ;" meaning to intimate 
that perhaps he would, if much provoked, come into 
the pulpit altogether. This, indeed, actually took 
place on another occasion, and the tenure of the mini 
sterial position was justified by an argument of a most 
amusing nature. The circumstance, I am assured, 
happened in a parish in the north. The clergyman, 
on coming into church, found the pulpit occupied by 
the parish natural. The authorities had been unable 
to remove him without more violence than was seemly, 
and therefore waited for the minister to dispossess 
Tarn of the place he had assumed. " Come down, sir, 
immediately!" was the peremptory and indignant 
call \ and on Tarn being unmoved, it was repeated 
with still greater energy. Tarn, however, replied, 
looking down confidentially from his elevation, " Na, 
na, minister ! juist ye come up wi me. This is a 
perverse generation, and faith they need us baith." 
It is curious to mark the sort of glimmering of sense, 
and even of discriminating thought, displayed by per 
sons of this class. As an example, take a conversation 
held by this same John M Lymont, with Dr. Paul, 
whom he met some time after. He seemed to have 
recovered his good humour, as he stopped him and 
said, " Sir, I would like to speer a question at ye on a 
subject that s troubling me." " Well, Johnnie, what 
is the question?" To which he replied, "Sir, is it 
lawful at ony time to tell a lee 1 ? 1 The minister 
desired to know what Johnnie himself thought upon 
the point. " Weel, sir," said he, " I ll no say but in 
every case it s wrang to tell a lee ; but," added he, 
looking archly and giving a knowing wink, " I think 
there are waur lees than ithers" "How, Johnnie?" 
and then he instantly replied, with all the simplicity 
of a fool, " To hep down a din, for instance. I ll no 



282 REMINISCENCES OF 

say but a man does wrang in telling a lee to keep 
down a din, but I m sure he does not do half sae 
muckle wrang as a man who tells a lee to kick up a 
deevilment o a din." This opened a question not 
likely to occur to such a mind. Mr. Asher, minister 
of Inveraven, in Morayshire, narrated to Dr. Paul a 
curious example of want of intelligence combined with 
a power of cunning to redress a fancied wrong, shown 
by a poor natural of the parish, who had been seized 
with a violent inflammatory attack, and was in great 
danger. The medical attendant saw it necessary to 
bleed him, but he resisted, and would not submit to 
it. At last the case became so hopeless that they 
were obliged to use force, and, holding his hands and 
feet, the doctor opened a vein and drew blood, upon 
which the poor creature, struggling violently, bawled 
out, " doctor, doctor ! you ll kill me ! you ll kill me ! 
and depend upon it the first thing I ll do when I get 
to the other world will be to report you to the board of 
Supervision there, and get you dismissed" A most ex 
traordinary sensation was once produced on a congre 
gation by Eab Hamilton, a well-remembered crazy 
creature of the west country, on the occasion of his 
attendance at the parish kirk of " Auld Ayr, wham 
ne er a toun surpasses," the minister of which, in the 
opinion of Rab s own minister, Mr. Peebles, had a 
tendency to Socinian doctrines. Miss Kirkwood, 
Bothwell, relates the story from the recollection of 
her aunt, who was present. Eab had put his head 
between some iron rails, the first intimation of which 
to the congregation was a stentorian voice crying out, 
" Murder ! my heed ll hae to be cuttit aff ! Hoi} 1 
minister ! congregation ! Oh, my heed maun be cuttit 
aff. It s a judgment for leaving my godlie Mr. Peebles 
at the Newton." After he had been extricated and 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 283 

quieted, when asked why he put his head there, he 
said, " It was juist to look on* wi anither woman." 

The following anecdote of this same Eab Hamilton 
from a kind correspondent at Ayr sanctions the 
opinion that he must have occasionally said such 
clever things as made some think him more rogue 
than fool. Dr. Auld often showed him kindness, but 
being once addressed by him when in a hurry and out 
of humour, he said, " Get away, Eab ; I have nothing 
for you to day." " Whaw, whew," cried Eab, in a 
half howl, half whining tone, " I dinna want onything 
the day, Maister Auld ; I wanted to tell you an 
awsome dream I hae had. I dreamt I was deed." 
" Weel, what then ? " said Dr. Auld. Ou, I was 
carried far, far, and up, up, up, till I cam to heeven s 
yett, where I chappit, and chappit, and chappit, till 
at last an angel keekit out, and said Wha are ye ] 
A in puir Eab Hamilton. i Whaur are ye frae ? * Frae 
the wicked toun o Ayr. I dinna ken ony sic 
place, said the angel. Oh, but A m juist frae there. 
Weel, the angel sends for the Apostle Peter, and 
Peter comes wi his ke} r and opens the yett, and says 
to me, Honest man, do you come frae the auld toun 
o AyrT < Deed do I, says I. Weel, says Peter, 
4 1 ken the place, but naebody s cam frae the toun o 
Ayr, no since the year so and so mentioning the 
year when Dr. Auld was inducted into the parish. 
Dr. Auld could not resist giving him his answer, and 
telling him to go about his business. 

The pathetic complaint of one of this class, residing 
at a farm-house, has often been narrated, and forms a 
good illustration of idiot life and feelings. He was 
living in the greatest comfort, and every want pro 
vided. But. like the rest of mankind, he had his own 

* Read fror.? the same book. 



284 REMINISCENCES OF 

trials, and his own cause for anxiety and annoyance. 
In this poor fellow s case it was the great turkey-cock 
at the farm, of which he stood so terribly in awe that 
he was afraid to come within a great distance of his 
enemy. Some of his friends, coming to visit him, re 
minded him how comfortable he was, and how grate 
ful he ought to be for the great care taken of him. 
He admitted the truth of the remark generally, but 
still, like others, he had his unknown grief which 
sorely beset his path in life. There was a secret 
grievance which embittered his lot ; and to his friend 
he thus opened his heart : " Ae, ae, but oh, I m sair 
hadden doun wi the bubbly jock." * 

I have received two anecdotes illustrative both of 
the occasional acutenesss of mind, and of the sensitive 
ness of feeling occasionally indicated by persons thus 
situated. A well-known idiot, Jamie Fraser, belong 
ing to the parish of Lunan, in Forfarshire, quite 
surprised people sometimes by his replies. The 
congregation of his parish church had for some time 
distressed the minister by their habit of sleeping in 
church. He had often endeavoured to impress them 
with a sense of the impropriety of such conduct, and 
one day Jamie was sitting in the front gallery, wide 
awake, when many were slumbering round him. The 
clergyman endeavoured to draw the attention of his 
hearers to his discourse by stating the fact, saying, 
" You see even Jamie Fraser, the idiot, does not fall 
asleep, as so many of you are doing." Jamie, not 
liking, perhaps, to be thus designated, coolly replied, 
" An I hadna been an idiot, I micht ha* been sleepin 
too." Another of these imbeciles, belonging to 
Peebles,- had been sitting at church for some time 
listening attentively to a strong representation from 

* Sorely kept under by the turkey-cock. 



SCOTTISH LIFE <L- CHARACTER. 285 

the pulpit of the guilt of deceit and falsehood in 
Christian characters. He was observed to turn red, 
and grow very uneasy, until at last, as if wincing 
under the supposed attack upon himself personally, 
he roared out, " Indeed, minister, there s mair leears 
in Peebles than me." As examples of this class of 
persons possessing much of the dry humour of their 
more sane countrymen, and of their facility to utter 
sly and ready-witted sayings, I have received the two 
following from Mr. W. Chambers : Daft Jock Gray, 
the supposed original of David Gellatley, was one day 
assailed by the minister of a south-country parish on 
the subject of his idleness. "John," said the minister, 
rather pompously, " you are a very idle fellow ; you 
might surely herd a few cows." "Me hird ! " replied 
Jock ; " I dinna ken corn frae gerss." 

There was a carrier named Davie Loch who was 
reputed to be rather light of wits, but at the same 
time not without a sense of his worldly interests. 
His mother, finding her end approaching, addressed 
her son in the presence of a number of the neigh 
bours. The house will be Davie s and the furniture 
too. Eh, hear her. quoth Davie; sensible to 

the last, sensible to the last. The lyin siller 

Eh yes ; how clear she is about everything ! 
The lyin siller is to be divided between my twa 
dauchters. Steek the bed doors, steek the bed 
doors, * interposed Davie ; she s ravin now ; and the 
old dying woman was shut up accordingly." 

In the Memorials of the Montgomeries, Earls 01 
Eglinton, vol. i. p. 134, occurs an anecdote illustrative 
of the peculiar acuteness and quaint humour which 
occasionally mark the sayings of persons considered 

Close the doors. The old woman was lying in a (i box-Led. 
See Life of Robert Chambers, p YJL 



286 REMINISCENCES OF 

as imbeciles. There was a certain " Daft Will Speir," 
who was a privileged haunter of Eglinton Castle and 
grounds. He was discovered by the Earl one day 
taking a near cut, and crossing a fence in the demesne. 
The Earl called out, " Come back, sir, that s not the 
road." " Do you ken," said Will, " whaur Tin gaunl 
" No," replied his lordship. " Weel, hoo the deil do 
ye ken whether this be the road or no 1 

This same "Daft Will Speir was passing the 
minister s glebe, where haymaking was in progress. 
The minister asked Will if he thought the weather 
would keep up, as it looked rather like rain. " Weel," 
said Will, " I canna be very sure, but I ll be passin 
this way the nicht, an I ll ca in and tell ye." " Well, 
Will," said his master one day to him, seeing that he 
had just finished his dinner, "have you had a good 
dinner to day?" (Will had been grumbling some 
time before.) " Ou, vera gude," answered Will ; " but 
gin onybody asks if I got a dram after t, what will I 
say 1 " This poor creature had a high sense of duty. 
It appears he had been given the charge of the coal- 
stores at the Earl of Eglinton s. Having on one 
occasion been reprimanded for allowing the supplies 
to run out before further supplies were ordered, he 
was ever afterwards most careful to fulfil his duty. 

*/ 

In course of time poor Will became " sick unto death," 
and the minister came to see him. Thinking him in 
really a good frame of mind, the minister asked him, 
in presence of the laird and others, if there were not 
one great thought which was ever to him the highest 
consolation in his hour of trouble. " Ou ay," gasped 
the sufferer, "Lord be thankit, a the bunkers are 
fu !" 

The following anecdote is told regarding the late 
Lord Dundrennan :--A half silly basket- woman passing 



SCOTTISH LIFE CHARACTER. 287 

down his avenue at Compstone one day, he met her, 
and said, " My good woman, there s no road this way." 
"Na, sir," she said, "I think ye re wrang there; I 
think it s a most beautiful road." 

These poor creatures have invariably a great delight 
in attending funerals. In many country places hardly 
a funeral ever took place without the attendance of 
the parochial idiot. It seemed almost a necessary 
association ; and such attendance seemed to constitute 
the great delight of those creatures. I have myself 
witnessed again and again the sort of funeral scene 
portrayed by Sir Walter Scott, who no doubt took his 
description from what was common in his day : " The 
funeral pomp set forth saulies with their batons and 
gumphions of tarnished white crape. Six starved 
horses, themselves the very emblems of mortality, well 
cloaked and plumed, lugging along the hearse with its 
dismal emblazonry, crept in slow pace towards the 
place of interment, preceded by Jamie Duff, an idiot, 
who, with weepers and cravat made of white paper, 
attended on every funeral, and followed by six mourn 
ing coaches filled with the company." Guy Mannering. 

The following anecdote, supplied by Mr. Blair, is 
an amusing illustration both of the funeral propensity, 
and of the working of a defective brain, in a half 
witted carle, who used to range the province of Gallo 
way armed with a huge pike-staff, and who one day 
met a funeral procession a few miles from Wigtown. 
A long train of carriages, and farmers riding on horse 
back, suggested the propriety of his bestriding his 
staff, and following after the funeral. The procession 
marched at a brisk pace, and on reaching the kirk- 
yard style, as each rider dismounted, " Daft Jock " de 
scended from his wooden steed, besmeared with mire 
and perspiration, exclaiming, " Hech, sirs, had it uo 



288 REMINISCENCES OF 

been for the fashion o the thing, I micht as weel hae 
been on my ain feet." 

The withdrawal of these characters from public 
view, and the loss of importance which they once en 
joyed in Scottish society, seem to me inexplicable. 
Have they ceased to exist, or are they removed from 
our sight to different scenes ? The fool was, in early 
times, a very important personage in most Scottish 
households of any distinction. Indeed this had been 
so common as to be a public nuisance. 

It seemed that persons assumed the character, for 
we find a Scottish Act of Parliament, dated 19th 
January 1449, with this title : "Act for the way- 
putting of Fenyent Fules," etc. (Thomson s Acts of 
Parliament of Scotland, vol. i.) ; and it enacts very 
stringent measures against such persons. They seem 
to have formed a link between the helpless idiot and 
the boisterous madman, sharing the eccentricity of the 
latter and the stupidity of the former, generally add 
ing, however, a good deal of the sharp-wittedness of 
the knave. Up to the middle of the eighteenth century 
this appears to have been still an appendage to some 
families. I have before me a little publication with 
the title, "The Life and Death of Jamie Fleeman, the 
Laird of Udny s Fool. Tenth edition. Aberdeen, 
1810." With portrait. Also twenty-sixth edition, 
of 1829. I should suppose this account of a family 
fool was a fair representation of a good specimen of 
the class. He was evidently of defective intellect, but 
at times showed the odd humour and quick conclusion 
which so often mark the disordered brain. I can 
only now give two examples taken from his history : 
Having found a horse-shoe on the road, he met Mr. 
Craigie, the minister of St. Fergus, and showed it ta 
him, asking, in pretended ignorance, what it wa& 



SCOTTISH LIFE <L CHARACTER. 281 

" Why, Jamie," said Mr. Craigie, good humouredly, 
" anybody that was not a fool would know that it is 
a horse-shoe." " Ah !" said Jamie, with affected sim 
plicity, " what it is to be wise- to ken it s no a meer s 
shoe i " 

On another occasion, when all the country-side were 
hastening to the Perth races, Jamie had cut across 
the fields and reached a bridge near the town, and 
sat down upon the parapet. He commenced munching 
away at a large portion of a leg of mutton which he 
had somehow become possessed of, and of which he was 
amazingly proud. The laird came riding past, and 
seeing Jamie sitting on the bridge, accosted him : 
"Ay, Fleeman, are ye here already]" " Ou ay," 
quoth Fleeman, with an air of assumed dignity and 
archness not easy to describe, while his eye glanced 
significantly towards the mutton, " Ou ay, ye ken a 
body when he has anything" 

V </ / 

Of witty retorts by half-witted creatures of this 
class, I do not know of one more pointed than what 
is recorded of such a character who used to hang about 
the residence of a late Lord Fife. It would appear 
that some parts of his lordship s estates were barren, 
and in a very unproductive condition. Under the 
improved system of agriculture and of draining, great 
preparations had been made for securing a good crop 
in a certain field, where Lord Fife, his factor, and 
others interested in the subject, were collected together. 
There was much discussion, and some difference of 
opinion, as to the crop with which the field had best 
be sown. The idiot retainer, who had been listening un 
noticed to all that was said, at last cried out, " Saw t wi 
factors, ma lord ; they are sure to thrive everywhere." 

There was an idiot who lived long in Lander, and 
seems to have had a great resemblance to the jester 



290 REMINISCENCES OF 

of old times. He was a staunch supporter of the 
Established Church. One day some one gave him a 
bad shilling. On Sunday he went to the Seceders 
meeting-house, and when the ladle was taken round 
he put in his bad shilling and took out elevenpence 
halfpenny. Afterwards he went in high glee to the 
late Lord Lauderdale, calling out, " I ve cheated the 
Seceders the day, my lord ; I ve cheated the Seceders." 

Jemmy had long harboured a dislike to the steward 
on the property, which he made manifest in the 
following manner: Lord Lauderdale and Sir Anthony 
Maitland used to take him out shooting ; and one day 
Lord Maitland (he was then), on having to cross the 
Leader, said, " Now, Jemmy, you shall carry me 
through the water," which Jemmy duly did. The 
steward, who was shooting with them, expected the 
same service, and accordingly said, "Now, Jemmy, 
you must carry me over/ 5 " Yera weel," said Jemmy. 
He took the steward on his back, and when he had 
carefully carried him half-way across the river he paid 
off his grudge by dropping him quietly into the water. 

A daft individual used to frequent the same district, 
about whom a variety of opinions were entertained, 
some people thinking him not so foolish as he 
sometimes seemed. On one occasion a person, wishing 
to test whether he knew the value of money, held 
out a sixpence and a penny, and offered him his choice. 
" I ll tak the wee ane," he said, giving as his modest 
reason, " I se no be greedy." At another time, a 
miller laughing at him for his witlessness, he said, 
" Some things I ken, and some I dinna ken." On 
being asked what he knew, he said, " I ken a miller 
has aye a gey fat sou." " An what d ye no ken ] 
said the miller. " Ou," he returned, " I dinna kec 
wha s expense she s fed at." 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 291 

A very amusing collision of one of those penurious 
lairds, already referred to, a certain Mr. Gordon of 
Rothie, with a half-daft beggar wanderer of the name 
of Jock Muilton, has been recorded. The laird was 
very shabby, as usual, and, meeting Jock, began to 
banter him on the subject of his dress :--" Ye re very 
grand, Jock. Thae s fine claes ye hae gotten ; whaur 
did ye get that coat ?" Jock told him who had given 
him his coat, and then, looking slily at the laird, he 
inquired, as with great simplicity, " And whaur did 
ye get yours, laird?" 

For another admirable story of a rencontre between 
a penurious laird and the parish natural I am indebted 
to the Scotsman, June 16, 1871. Once on a time 
there was a Highland laird renowned for his caution 
in money matters, and his precise keeping of books. 
His charities were there ; but that department of his 
bookkeeping was not believed to be heavy. On ex 
amination, a sum of half-a-crown was unexpectedly 
discovered in it ; but this was accounted for in a 
manner creditable to his intentions, if not to his suc 
cess in executing them. It had been given in mistake 
instead of a coin of a different denomination, to " the 
natural of the parish for holding his shelty while he 
transacted business at the bank. A gleam in the 
boy s eye drew his attention to a gleam of white as 
the metal dropped into his pocket. In vain the laird 
assured him it was not a good bawbee if he would 
give it up he would get another it was " guid 
eneuch" for the like of him. And when the laird in 
his extremity swore a great oath that unless it was 
given up he would never give another halfpenny, the 
answer was " Ech, laird, it wad be lang or ye gied 
me saxty 

Another example of shrewd and ready humour ID 



292 REMINISCENCES OF 

one of that class is the following : In this case the 
idiot was musical, and earned a few stray pence by 
playing Scottish airs on a flute. He resided at Stir 
ling, and used to hang about the door of the inn to 
watch the arrival and departure of travellers. A lady, 
who used to give him something occasionally, was 
just starting, and said to Jamie that she had only a 
fourpenny piece, and that he must be content with 
that, for she could not stay to get more. Jamie was 
not satisfied, and as the lady drove out, he expressed 
his feelings by playing with all his might, " wearie 
o the loom pouch" * 

The spirit in Jamie Fraser before mentioned, and 
which had kept him awake, shows itself in idiots occa 
sionally by making them restless and troublesome. 
One of this character had annoyed the clergyman 
where he attended church by fidgeting, and by un 
couth sounds which he uttered during divine service. 
Accordingly, one day before church began, he was 
cautioned against moving, or " making a whisht," under 
the penalty of being turned out. The poor creature 
sat quite still and silent, till, in a very important 
part of the sermon, he felt an inclination to cough. 
So he shouted out, " Minister, may a puir body like 
me noo gie a hoast ] " f 

I have two anecdotes of two peers, who might be 
said to come under the description of half-witted. In 
their case the same sort of dry Scotch humour came 
out under the cloak of mental disease. The first is 
of a Scottish nobleman of the last century who had 
been a soldier the greater part of his life, but was 
obliged to come home on account of aberration of 
mind, superinduced by hereditary propensity. De 
sirous of putting him under due restraint, and at the 
Empty pocket. t A cough. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 293 

same time of engaging his mind in his favourite pur 
suit, his friends secured a Sergeant Briggs to be his 
companion, and, in fact, keeper. To render the 
sergeant acceptable as a companion they introduced 
him to the old earl as Colonel Briggs. Being asked 
how he liked "the colonel," the earl showed how 
acute he still was by his answer, " Oh, very well ; he 
is a sensible man, and a good soldier, but he smells 
damnably of the halbert" 

The second anecdote relates also to a Scottish 
nobleman labouring under aberration of mind, and is, 
I believe, a traditionary one. In Scotland, some 
hundred years ago, madhouses did not exist, or were 
on a very limited scale ; and there was often great 
difficulty in procuring suitable accommodation for 
patients who required special treatment and seclusion 
from the world. The gentleman in question had 
been consigned to the Canongate prison, and his posi 
tion there was far from comfortable. An old friend 
called to see him, and asked how it had happened 
that he was placed in so unpleasant a situation. His 
reply was, " Sir, it was more the kind interest and 
patronage of my friends than my own merits that 
have placed me here." "But have you not remon 
strated or complained ?" asked his visitor. "I told 
them :> said his lordship. " that they were a pack of 
infernal villains." "Did you 1 ?" said his friend; "that 
was bold language ; and what did they say to that 1 
" Oh," said the peer, " I took care not to tell them till 
they were fairly out of the place, and weel up the 
Canongate." 

In Peebles there was a crazy being of this kind 
called " Daft Yedie." On one occasion he saw a 
gentleman, a stranger in the town, who had a club 
foot. Yedie contemplated this phenomenon with 

2 c 



D94 REMINISCENCES OP 

some interest, and, addressing the gentleman, said 
compassionately, "It s a great pity its spoils the 
boot." There is a story of one of those half-witted 
creatures of a different character from the humorous 
ones already recorded \ I think it is exceeding!} 
affecting. The story is traditionary in a country dis 
trict, and I am not aware of its being ever printed. 

A poor boy, of this class, who had evidently mani 
fested a tendency towards religious and devotional 
feelings, asked permission from the clergyman to 
attend the Lord s Table and partake of the holy com 
munion with the other members of the congregation 
(whether Episcopalian or Presbyterian I do not know). 
The clergyman demurred for some time, under the 
impression of his mind being incapable of a right and 
due understanding of the sacred ordinance. But 
observing the extreme earnestness of the poor boy, he 
at last gave consent, and he was allowed to come. 
He was much affected, and all the way home was 
heard to exclaim, " Oh ! I hae seen the pretty man." 
This referred to his seeing the Lord Jesus whom he 
had approached in the sacrament. He kept repeating 
the words, and went with them on his lips to rest for 
the night. Not appearing at the usual hour for 
breakfast, when they went to his bedside they found 
him dead ! The excitement had been too much 
mind and body had given way and the half-idiot of 
earth awoke to the glories and the bliss of his Ke- 
deemer s presence. 

Analogous with the language of the defective intellect 
is the language of the imperfectly formed intellect, 
and I have often thought there was something very 
touching and very fresh in the expression of feelings 
and notions by children. I have given examples be 
fore, but the following is, to my taste, a charming 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 295 

specimen : A little boy had lived for some time with 
a very penurious uncle, who took good care that the 
child s health should not be injured by over-feeding. 
The uncle was one day walking out, the child at his 
side, when a friend accosted him, accompanied by a 
greyhound. While the elders were talking, the little 
fellow, never having seen a dog so slim and slight of 
form, clasped the creature round the neck with the 
impassioned cry, " Oh, doggie, doggie, and div ye live 
wi your uncle tae, that ye are so thin ? 

In connection with funerals, I am indebted to the 
kindness of Lord Kinloch for a characteristic anecdote 
of cautious Scottish character in the west country. It 
was the old fashion, still practised in some districts, 
to carry the coffin to the grave on long poles, or 
" spokes," as they were commonly termed. There 
were usually two bearers abreast on each side. On a 
certain occasion one of the two said to his companion, 
" I m awfu tired wi carryin ." " Do you carry ? was 
the interrogatory in reply. " Yes ; what do you do 1 " 
"Oh," said the other, "I aye lean." His friend s 
fatigue was at once accounted for. 

I am strongly tempted to give an account of a 
parish functionary in the words of a kind corre 
spondent from Kilmarnock, although communicated 
in the following very flattering terms: "In common 
with every Scottish man worthy of the name, I have 
been delighted with your book, and have the ambi 
tion to add a pebble to the cairn, and accordingly 
send you a bellman story; it has, at least, the merit 
of being unprinted and unedited." 

The incumbent of Craigie parish, in this district of 
Ayrshire, had asked a Mr. Wood, tutor in the Cairn- 
hill family, to officiate for him on a particular Sun 
day. Mr. Wood, however, between the time of beiug 



296 REMINISCENCES OF 



asked and the appointed day, got intimation of the 
dangerous illness of his father ; in the hurry of 
setting out to see him, he forgot to arrange for the 
pulpit being filled. The bellman of Craigie parish, 
by name Matthew Dinning, and at this time about 
eighty years of age, was a very little " crined " * old 
man, and always wore a broad Scottish blue bonnet, 
with a red " bob on the top. The parish is a small 
rural one, so that Matthew knew every inhabitant in 
it, and had seen most of them grow up. On this 
particular day, after the congregation had waited for 
some time, Matthew was seen to walk very slowly up 
the middle of the church, with the large Bible arid 
psalm-book under his arm, to mount the pulpit stair ; 
and after taking his bonnet off, and smoothing down 
his forehead with his "loof," thus addressed the 
audience : 

" My freens, there was ane Wuds tae hae preached 
here the day, but he has nayther corned himsell, nor 
had the ceevility tae sen us the scart o a pen. 
Ye ll bide here for ten meenonts, and gin naebody 
comes forrit in that time, ye can gang awa hame. 
Some say his feyther s dead ; as for that I kenna." 

The following is another illustration of the cha 
racter of the old Scottish betheral. One of those 
worthies, who was parochial grave-digger, had been 
missing for two days or so, and the minister had in 
vain sent to discover him at most likely places. He 
bethought, at last, to make inquiry at a " public " at 
some distance from the village, and on entering the 
door he met his man in the trance, quite fou, stagger 
ing out, supporting himself with a hand on each wa . 
To the minister s sharp rebuke and rising wrath for 
his indecent and shameful behaviour, John, a wag in 

* Shrivelled. 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHAEACTER. 297 

his way, and emboldened by liquor, made answer, 
" Deed, sir, sin I ca d at the manse, I hae buried an 
auld wife, and I ve just drucken her, hough an 
horn." Such was his candid admission of the manner 
in which he had disposed of the church fees paid for 
the interment. 

An encounter of wits between a laird and an 
elder : A certain laird in Fife, well known for his 
parsimonious habits, and who, although his substance 
largely increased, did not increase his liberality in 
his weekly contribution to the church collection, 
which never exceeded the sum of one penny, one 
day by mistake dropped into the plate at the door 
half-a-crown ; but discovering his error before he 
was seated in his pew, he hurried back, and was 
about to replace the coin by his customary penny, 
when the elder in attendance cried out, u Stop, laird ; 
ye may put in what ye like, but ye maun tak nae- 
thing oot ! The laird, finding his explanations went 
for nothing, at last said, " Aweel, I suppose I ll get 
credit for it in heaven." " Na, na, laird," said the 
elder, sarcastically ; " ye ll only get credit for the 
penny." 

The following is not a bad specimen of sly piper 
wit : 

The Eev. Mr. Johnstone of Monquhitter, a very 
grandiloquent pulpit orator in his day, accosting a 
travelling piper, well known in the district, with the 
question, "Well, John, how does the wind pay]" 
received from John, with a low bow, the answer, 
" Your Reverence has the advantage of me." 

Apropos to stories connected with ministers and 
pipers, there cannot be a better specimen than the 
famous one preserved by Sir Walter Scott, in his 
notes to Waverley, which I am tempted to reproduce, 



REMINISCENCES OF 

as possibly some of my readers may have forgotten 
it. The gudewife of the inn at Greenlaw had re 
ceived four clerical guests into her house, a father 
and three sons. The father took an early oppor 
tunity of calling the attention of the landlady to the 
subject of his visit, and, introducing himself, com 
menced in rather a pompous manner "Now, con 
fess, Luckie Buchan, you never remember having such 
a party in your house before. Here am I, a placed 
minister, with my three sons, who are themselves all 
placed ministers." The landlady, accustomed to a 
good deal of deference and attention from the county 
families, not quite liking the high tone assumed by 
the minister on the occasion, and being well aware 
that all the four were reckoned very poor and unin 
teresting preachers, answered rather drily, " Deed, 
minister, I canna just say that I ever had sic a party 
before in the hoose, except it were in the 45, when 
I had a piper and his three sons a? pipers. But 
(she added quietly, as if aside), " deil a spring could 
they play amang them." 

I have received from Kev. William Blair, A.M. 
U.P. minister at Dunblane, many kind communica 
tions. I have made a selection, which I now group 
together, and they have this character in common, 
that they are all anecdotes of ministers : 

Rev. Walter Dunlop of Dumfries was well known for 
pithy and facetious replies ; he was kindly known under 
the appellation of our " Watty Dunlop." On one occasion 
two irreverent young fellows determined, as they said, to 
* taigle " * the minister. Corning up to him in the High 
Street of Dumfries, they accosted him with much solemnity 
" Maister Dunlop, dae ye hear the news ? " What 
news?" "Oh, the deil s deed." "Is he?" said Mr 

* Confound. 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 299 

Dimlop, " then I maun pray for twa faitherless bairns." 
On another occasion Mr. Dunlop met, with characteristic 
humour, an attempt to play off a trick against him. It 
was known that he was to dine with a minister whose house 
was close to the church, so that his return back must be 
through the churchyard. Accordingly some idle and mis 
chievous youths waited for him in the dark night, and one 
of them came up to him, dressed as a ghost, in hopes of 
putting him in a fright. Watty s cool accost speedily upset 
the plan : " Weel, Maister Ghaist, is this a general rising, 
or are ye juist takin -a daunder frae yer grave by yersell ?" 
I have received from a correspondent another specimen of 
Watty s acute rejoinders. So*me years ago the celebrated 
Edward Irving had been lecturing at Dumfries, and a man 
who passed as a wag in that locality had been to hear him. 
He met Watty Dunlop the following day, who said, " Weel, 
Willie, man, an what do ye think of Mr. Irving ? " " Oh," 
said Willie, contemptuously, " the man s crack t." Dunlop 
patted him on the shoulder, with a quiet remark, " Willie, 
ye ll aften see a light peeping through a crack ! " 

He was accompanying a funeral one day, when he met 
a man driving a flock of geese. The wayward disposition 
of the bipeds at the moment was too much for the driver s 
temper, and he indignantly cried out, " Deevil choke 
them ! " Mr. Dunlop walked a little farther on, and passed 
a farm-stead, where a servant was driving out a number of 
swine, and banning them with " Deevil tak them ! " Upon 
which, Mr. Dunlop stepped up to him, and said, u Ay, ay, 
my man ; your gentleman 11 be wi ye i the noo : he s 
juist back the road there a bit, choking some geese till a 



man. 



Shortly after the Disruption, Dr. Cook of St. Andrews 
was introduced to Mr. Dunlop, upon which occasion Mr. 
Dunlop said, " Weel, sir, ye ve been lang Cook, Cooking 
them, but ye ve dished them at last." 

Mr. Clark of Dalreoch, whose head was vastly dispro- 
portioned to his body, met Mr. Dunlop one day. " Weel, 
Air. Clark, that s a threat head o yours." " Indeed it is, 



300 REMINISCENCES OF 

Mr. Dunlop ; I could contain yours inside of my own." 
" Juist sae," quietly replied Mr. Dunlop ; " I was e en 
thinkin it was geyan toom" * 

Mr. Dunlop happened one day to be present in a church 
court of a neighbouring presbytery. A Rev. Doctor was 
asked to pray, and declined. On the meeting adjourning, 
Mr. Dunlop stepped up to the Doctor, and asked how he 
did. The Doctor, never having been introduced, did not 
reply. Mr. Dunlop withdrew, and said to his friend, 
" Eh ! but isna he a queer man, that Doctor, he ll neither 
speak to God nor man." 

The Rev. John Brown of Whitburn was riding out one 
day on an old pony, when he was accosted by a rude youth : 
" I say, Mr. Broon, what gars your horse s tail wag that 
way ? >J " Oo, juist what gars your tongue wag ; it s fashed 
wi a wakeness" 

About sixty years ago there were two ministers in 
Sanquhar of the name of Thomson, one of whom was father 
of the late Dr. Andrew Thomson of Edinburgh, the other 
was father of Dr. Thomson of Balfron. The domestic in 
the family of the latter was rather obtrusive with her secret 
devotions, sometimes kneeling on the stairs at night, and 
talking loud enough to be heard. On a communion season 
she was praying devoutly and exclusively for her minister : 
tl Remember Mr. Tampon, no him at the Green, but oor ain 
Mr. Tamson." 

Rev. Mr. Leslie of Moray shire combined the duties of 
justice of peace with those of parochial clergyman. One 
day he was taken into confidence by a culprit who had 
been caught in the act of smuggling, and was threatened 
with a heavy fine. The culprit was a staunch Seceder, 
and owned a small farm. Mr. Leslie, with an old-fashioned 
zeal for the Established Church, said to him, (t The king 
will come in the cadger s road some day. Ye wadna come 
to the parish kirk, though it were to save your life, wad 
ye ? Come rioo, an I se mak ye a richt ! ; Next Sabbath 
the seceding smuggler appeared in the parish kirk, and a: 

* Empty 



THE BEADLE 
From a i.xitey-colonr drawing by 

//AYV AT IV. KERR, 
A.g.S.A., A .S./r. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER, 301 

the paupers were receiving parochial allowance, Mr. Leslie 
slipped a shilling into the smuggler s hand. When the 
J. P. Court was held, Mr. Leslie was present, when a fine 
was proposed to be exacted from the smuggler. " Fine ! " 
said Mr. Leslie ; " he s mair need o something to get duds 
to his back. He s ane o my poor roll ; I gie d him a 
shilling just last Sabbath." 

A worthy old Seceder used to ride from Gargunnock to 
Bucklyvie every Sabbath to attend the Burgher kirk. One 
day as he rode past the parish kirk of Kippen, the elder 
at the plate accosted him, " I m sure, John, it s no like the 
thing to see you ridin in sic a doon-pour o rain sae far by 
to thae Seceders. Ye ken the mercifu man is mercifu to 
his beast. Could ye no step in by ? >: " Weel," said John, 
" I wadiia care sae muckle about stablin my beast inside, 
but it s anither thing mysel gain in." 

The Rev. Dr. George Lawson of Selkirk acted for many 
years as theological tutor to the Secession Church. One 
day, on entering the Divinity Hall, he overheard a student 
remark that the professor s wig was uncombed. That same 
student, on that very day, had occasion to preach a sermon 
before the Doctor, for which he received a bit of severe 
criticism, the sting of which was in its tail : " You said 
my wig wasna kaimed this mornin , my lad, but I think 
I ve redd your head to you." 

The Rev. John Heugh of Stirling was one day admonish 
ing one of his people of the sin of intemperance : "Man, 
John, you should never drink except when you re dry." 
Weel, sir," quoth John, " that s what I m aye doin , for I 
am never slocken d." 

The Rev. Mr. M of Bathgate came up to a street- 

paviour one day, and addressed him, " Eh, John, what s 
this you re at ? " Oh ! I m mending the ways o Bath- 
gate ! ): " Ah, John, I ve long been trying to mend the ways 
o Bathgate, an they re no weel yet." " Weel, Mr. M., if 
you had tried my plan, and come doon to your knees, ye 
wad maybe hae come mair speed ! ?: 

There once lived in Cupar a merchant whose store COB 



302 MEMINISCENCES OF 

tained supplies of every character and description, so that 
he was commonly known by the sobriquet of Robbie 
A. Thing. One day a minister, who was well known for 
a servile use of MS. in the pulpit, called at the store, asking 
for a rope and pin to tether a young calf in the glebe. 
Robbie at once informed him that he could not furnish 
such articles to him. But the minister, being somewhat 
importunate, said, " Oh ! I thought you were named Robbie 
A Thing from the fact of your keeping all kinds of goods." 
" Weel a weel," said Robbie, " I keep a thing in my shop 
but calf s tether-pins and paper sermons for ministers to 
read." 

It was a somewhat whimsical advice, supported by whim 
sical argument, which used to be given by an old Scottish 
minister to young preachers, when they visited from home, 
to " sup well at the kail, for if they were good they were 
worth the supping, and if not they might be sure there 
was not much worth coming after them." 

A good many families in and around Dunblane rejoice 
in the patronymic of Dochart. This name, which sounds 
somewhat Irish, is derived from Loch Dochart, in Perth 
shire. The McGregors having been proscribed, were sub 
jected to severe penalties, and a group of the clan having 
been hunted by their superiors, swam the stream which 
issues from Loch Dochart, and in gratitude to the river 
they afterwards assumed the family name of Dochart. A 
young lad of this name, on being sent to Glasgow College, 
presented a letter from his minister to Rev. Dr. Heugh of 
Glasgow. He gave his name as Dochart, and the name in 
the letter was M Gregor. " Oh," said the Doctor, " I fear 
there is some mistake about your identity, the names don t 
agree." " Weel, sir, that s the way they spell the name in 
our country. 1 

The relative whom I have mentioned as supplying 
so many Scottish anecdotes had many stories of a 
parochial functionary whose eccentricities have, in a 
<rreat measure, given way before the assimilating 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 303 

spirit of the times. I mean the old SCOTTISH BEADLE, 
or betheral, as he used to be called. Some classes of 
men are found to have that nameless but distinguish- 

\^f 

ing characteristic of figure and aspect which marks 
out particular occupations and professions of man 
kind. This was so much the case in the betheral 
class, that an old lady, observing a well-known judge 
and advocate walking together in the street, remarked 
to a friend as they passed by, " Dear me, Lucy, wha 
are thae twa leddle-looking bodies !" They were 
often great originals, and, I suspect, must have been 
in past times somewhat given to convivial habits, 
from a remark I recollect of the late Baron Clerk 
Eattray, viz. that in his younger days he had hardly 
ever known a perfectly sober betheral. However 
this may have been, they were, as a class, remark 
able for quaint humour, and for being shrewd ob 
servers of what was going on. I have heard of an 
occasion where the betheral made his wit furnish an 
apology for his want of sobriety. He had been sent 
round the parish by the minister to deliver notices at 
all the houses, of the catechising which was to pre 
cede the preparation for receiving the communion. 
On his return it was quite evident that he had par 
taken too largely of refreshment since he had been 
on his expedition. The minister reproached him for 
this improper conduct. The betheral pleaded the 
pressing hospitality of the parishioners The clergy 
man did not admit the plea, and added, u Now. John, 
I go through the parish, and you don t see me return 
fou, as you have done." " Ay, minister," rejoined 
the betheral, with much complacency, " but then 
aiblins ye re no sae popular i the parish as me." 

My relative used to tell of one of these officials re 
ceiving, with much ceremony, a brother betheral, from 



304 REMINISCENCES OP 

a neighbouring parish, who had come with the minis 
ter thereof for the purpose of preaching on some special 
occasion. After service, the betheral of the stranger 
clergyman felt proud of the performance of the ap 
pointed duty, and said in a triumphant tone to his 
friend, " I think oor minister did weel ; ay, he gars the 
stour flee oot o the cushion." To which the other 
rejoined, with a calm feeling of superiority, " Stour 
oot o the cushion ! hout, our minister, sin he cam wi ; 
us, has dung the guts oot o twa Bibles." Another 
description I have heard of an energetic preacher more 
forcible than delicate " Eh, oor minister had a great 
power o watter, for he grat, and spat, and swat like 
mischeef." An obliging anonymous correspondent 
has sent me a story of a functionary of this class 
whose pride was centred not so much in the perform 
ance of the minister as of the precentor. He states 
that he remembers an old beadle of the church which 
was called " Haddo s Hole," and sometimes the " Little 
Kirk," in Edinburgh, whose son occasionally officia 
ted as precentor. He was not very well qualified 
for the duty, but the father had a high opinion of his 
son s vocal powers. In those days there was always 
service in the church on the Tuesday evenings ; and 
when the father was asked on such occasions, " Who s 
to preach to-night ? >; his self-complacent reply used to 
be, " I divna ken wha s till preach, but my son s for 
till precent." The following is a more correct version 
of a betheral story than one which occupied this page 
in the last edition. The beadle had been asked to 
recommend a person for the same office, and his 
answer was, " If ye had wanted twa or three bits o 
elder bodies, I cud hae gotten them for ye as easily as 
penny baps oot of Mr. Rowan s shop," pointing to a 
baker s shop opposite to where the colloquy took place ; 



SCOTTISH LIFE <t- CHARACTER. 805 

or even if ye had wanted a minister, I might hae 
helpit ye to get ane ; but as for a gude beadle, that s 
about the maist difficult thing I ken o just now." 

Perhaps the following may seem to illustrate the 
self-importance of the betheral tribe. The Eev. Dr. 
Hugh Blair was one Sunday absent from his pulpit, 
and next morning meeting his beadle in the street he 
inquired how matters went in the High Church on 
Sabbath. " Deed, I dare say no very weel," was the 
answer ; " I wasna there ony mair than yoursell." 

Mr. Turnbull of Dundee kindly sends me an excel 
lent anecdote of the " Betheral type, which illus 
trates the esprit de corps of the betherelian mind, 
The late Dr. Robertson of Glasgow had, while in 
the parish of Mains, a quaint old church attend 
ant of the name of Walter Nicoll, commonly called 
"Watty Nuckle," whom he invited to come and 
visit him after he had been removed to Glasgow. 

o 

Watty accordingly ventured on the (to him) terrible 
journey, and was received by the Doctor with great 
kindness. The Doctor, amongst other sights, took 
him to see the Cathedral church, and showed him all 
through it, and after they were coming away the 
Doctor asked Watty what he thought of it, and if it 
was not better than the Mains church. Watty shook 
his head, and said, " Aweel, sir, you see she s bigger ; 
but she has nae laft, and she s sair fashed wi thae 
pillars." 

On the same subject of beadle peculiarities, I have re 
ceived from Mrs. Mearns of Kineff Manse an exquisitely 
characteristic illustration of beadle professional habits 
being made to bear upon the tender passion : A 
certain beadle had fancied the manse housemaid, but 
at a loss for an opportunity to declare himself, one 
day a Sunday when his duties were ended, he 



306 REMINISCENCES OF 

looked sheepish, and said, " Mary, wad ye tak a turn, 
Mary?" He led her to the churchyard, and pointing 
with his finger, got out, " My fowk lie there, Mary : 
wad ye like to lie there ?" The grave hint was taken, 
and she became his wife, but does not yet lie there. 

Here is another good example of betheral refinement 
or philosophy. He was carefully dressing up a grave, 
and adjusting the turf upon it. The clergyman, pass 
ing through the churchyard, observed, " That s beauti 
ful sod, Jeems." "Indeed is t, minister, and I grudge 
it upon the grave o sic a scamp." 

This class of functionaries were very free in their 
remarks upon the preaching of strangers, who used 
occasionally to occupy the pulpit of their church 
the city betherals speaking sometimes in a most 
condescending manner of clergy from the provincial 
parishes. As, for example, a betheral of one of the 
large churches in Glasgow, criticising the sermon of a 
minister from the country who had been preaching 
in the city church, characterised it as " glide coorse 
country wark." A betheral of one of the churches 
of St. Giles, Edinburgh, used to call on the family of 
Mr. Eobert Stevenson, engineer, who was one of the 
elders. On one occasion they asked him what had 
been the text on such a night, when none of the 
family had been present. The man of office, confused 
at the question, and unwilling to show anything like 
ignorance, poured forth, " Weel, ye see, the text last 
day was just entirely, sirs yes the text, sirs what 
was it again? ou ay, just entirely, ye see it was, 
What profiteth a man if he lose the world, and gain 
his own souH" Most of such stories are usually of 
an old standing. A more recent one has been told 
me of a betheral of a royal burgh much decayed 
from former importance, and governed by a feeble 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 307 

municipality of old men, who continued in office, and 
in fact constituted rather the shadow than the 
substance of a corporation. A clergyman from a 
distance having come to officiate in the parish church, 
the betheral, knowing the terms on which it was 
usual for the minister officiating to pray for the 
efficiency of the local magistracy, quietly cautioned 
the clergyman before service that, in regard to the 
town-council there, it would be quite out of place for 
him to pray that they should be a " terror to evil 
doers," because, as he said, "the puir auld bodies 
could be nae terror to onybody." A minister of 
Easter Anstruther, during the last century, used to 
say of the magistrates of Wester Anstruther, that 
"instead of being a terror to evil-doers, evil-doers 
were a terror to them." 

The "minister s man 1 was a functionary well 
known in many parishes, and who often evinced 
much Scottish humour and original character. These 
men were (like the betheral) great critics of sermons, 
and often severe upon strangers, sometimes with a 
sly hit at their own minister. One of these, David, 
a well-known character, complimenting a young 
minister who had preached, told him, " Your intro 
duction, sir, is aye grand ; its worth a the rest o the 
sermon could ye no mak it a introduction?" 

David s criticisms of his master s sermons were 
sometimes sharp enough and shrewd. On one 
occasion, driving the minister home from a neighbour 
ing church where he had been preaching, and who, 
as he thought, had acquitted himself pretty well, 
inquired of David what he thought of it. The 
subject of discourse had been the escape of the 
Israelites from Egypt. So David opened his criticism 
"Thocht o t, sir? deed I thocht nocht o t ava. It 



308 REMINISCENCES OF 

was a vara imperfect discourse in ma opinion ; ye did 
weel eneuch till ye took them through, but where 
did ye leave them 1 ? just daunerin o the sea-shore 
without a* place to gang till. Had it no been for 
Pharaoh they had been better on the other side, 
where they were comfortably encampit, than daunerin 
where ye left them. It s painful to hear a sermon 
stoppit afore it s richt ended, just as it is to hear 
ane streekit out lang after it s dune. That s ma 
opinion o the sermon ye gied us to-day." "Very 
freely given, David, very freely given; drive on a 
little faster, for I think ye re daunerin noo yersell." 

To another who had gone through a long course 
of parish official life a gentleman one day remarked 
" John, ye hae been sae lang about the minister s 
hand that I dare say ye could preach a sermon yersell 
now." To which John modestly replied, " na, sir, 
I couldna preach a sermon, but maybe I could draw 
an inference. * "Well, John," said the gentleman, 
humouring the quiet vanity of the beadle, " what 
inference could ye draw frae this text, *A wild ass 
snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure V ( Jer. ii. 24). 
" Weel, sir, I wad draw this inference, he would snuff 
a lang time afore he would fatten upon t." I had an 
anecdote from a friend, of a reply from a betheral to 
the minister in church, which was quaint and amusing 
from the shrewd self-importance it indicated in his 
own acuteness. The clergyman had been annoyed 
during the course of his sermon by the restlessness 
and occasional whining of a dog, which at last began 
to bark outright. He looked out for the beadle, and 
directed him very peremptorily, "John, carry that 
dog out." John, looked up to the pulpit, and with 
a very knowing expression, said, "Na, na, sir; Fse 
just mak him gae out on his ain four legs." I have 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 309 

another story of canine misbehaviour in church. A 
dog was present during the service, and in the sermon 
the worthy minister was in the habit of speaking 
very loud, and, in fact, when he got warmed with his 
subject, of shouting almost at the top of his voice. 
The dog, who, in the early part, had been very quiet, 
became quite excited, as is not uncommon ,with some 
dogs when hearing a noise, and from whinging and 
whining, as the speaker s voice rose loud and strong, 
at last began to bark and howl. The minister, 
naturally much annoyed at the interruption, called 
upon the betheral to put out the dog, who at once 
expressed his readiness to obey the order, but could 
not resist the temptation to look up to the pulpit, 
and to say very significantly, "Ay, ay, sir; but 
indeed it was yersell began it." There is a dog story 
connected with Reminiscences of Glasgow (see 
Chambers s Journal, March 1855), which is full of 
meaning. The bowls of rum-punch which so remark 
ably characterised the Glasgow dinners of last 
century and the early part of the present, it is to be 
feared made some of the congregation given to 
somnolency on the Sundays following. The members 
of the town-council often adopted Saturday for such 
meetings; accordingly, the Rev. Mr. Thorn, an 
excellent clergyman,* took occasion to mark this 
propensity with some acerbity. A dog had been 
very troublesome, and disturbed the congregation for 
some time, when the minister at last gave orders to 
the beadle, "Take out that dog; he d wauken a 
Glasgow magistrate." 

It was of this minister, Mr. Thorn of Govan, that Sir 
Walter Scott remarked "that he had demolished all his own 
chances of a Glasgow benefice, by preaching before the town 
council from a text in Hosea, Ephraim s drink is sour. 

2D 



810 REMINISCENCES OF 

The parochial gravediggers had sometimes a very 
familiar professional style of dealing with the solemn 
subjects connected with their office. Thus I have 
heard of a gravedigger pointing out a large human 
bone to a lady who was looking at his work, of digging 
a grave, and asking her D ye ken wha s bane that 
is, mem ? that s Jenny Eraser s hench-bane ; add 
ing with a serious aspect " a weel-baned family thae 
Erasers." 

It would be impossible in these Reminiscences to 
omit the well-known and often repeated anecdote con 
nected with an eminent divine of our own country, 
whose works take a high place in our theological 
literature. The story to which I allude was rendered 
popular throughout the kingdom some years ago, by 
the inimitable mode in which it was told, or rather 
acted, by the late Charles Matthews. But Matthews 
was wrong in the person of whom he related the 
humorous address. I have assurance of the parties 
from a friend, whose father, a distinguished clergyman 
in the Scottish Church at the time, had accurate 
knowledge of the whole circumstances. The late cele 
brated Dr. Macknight, a learned and profound scholar 
and commentator, was nevertheless, as a preacher, 
to a great degree heavy, unrelieved by fancy or imagi 
nation ; an able writer, but a dull speaker. His col 
league, Dr. Henry, well known as the author of a 
History of England, was, on the other hand, a man of 
great humour, and could not resist a joke when the 
temptation came upon him. On one occasion when 
coming to church, Dr. Macknight had been caught in 
a shower of rain, and entered the vestry soaked with 
wet. Every means were used to relieve him from his 
discomfort ; but as the time drew on for divine service 
he became much distressed, and ejaculated over and 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 511 

over, " Oh, I wush that I was dry ; do you think I m 
dry 1 do you think I m dry eneuch noo ? His jocose 
colleague could resist no longer, but, patting him on 
the shoulder, comforted him with the sly assurance, 
" Bide a wee, Doctor, and ye se be dry eneuch when ye 
get into the pu pit." 

Another quaint remark of the facetious doctor to 
his more formal colleague has been preserved by 
friends of the family. Dr. Henry, who with all his 
pleasantry and abilities, had himself as little popu 
larity in the pulpit as his coadjutor, had been remark 
ing to Dr. Macknight what a blessing it was that they 
were two colleagues in one charge, and continued 
dwelling on the subject so long, that Dr. Mackuight, 
not quite pleased at the frequent reiteration of the 
remark, said that it certainly was a great pleasure to 
himself, but he did not see what great benefit it 
might be to the world. " Ah," said Dr. Henry, " an 
it hadna been for that, there wad hae been twa toom * 
kirks this day." Lord Cockburn tells a characteristic 
anecdote of Dr. Henry s behaviour the last day of his 
life. I am indebted to a gentleman, himself also a 
distinguished member of the Scottish Church, for an 
authentic anecdote of this learned divine, and which 
occurred whilst Dr. Macknight was the minister of 
Maybole. One of his parishioners, a well-known 
humorous blacksmith of the parish, who, no doubt, 
thought that the Doctor s learned books were rather 
a waste of time and labour for a country pastor, was 
asked if his minister was at home. The Doctor was 
then busy bringing out his laborious and valuable 
work, his Harmony of the Four Gospels. " Na, he s 
gane to Edinburgh on a verra useless job." On being 
asked what this useless work might be which engaged 

* Empty. 



312 REMINISCENCES OF 

his pastor s time and attention, he answered, "He s 
gane to mak four men agree wha ne er cast oot." 
The good-humoured and candid answer of a learned 
and rather long-winded preacher of the old school 
always appeared to me quite charming. The good 
man was far from being a popular preacher, and yet 
he could not reduce his discourses below the hour and 
a half. On being asked, as a gentle hint of their 
possibly needless length, if he did not feel tired after 
preaching so long, he replied, " JSTa, na, I m no tired ; 
adding, however, with much naivete" , " But, Lord, how 
tired the fowk whiles are." 

The late good kind-hearted Dr. David Dickson was 
fond of telling a story of a Scottish termagant of the 
days before kirk-session discipline had passed away. 
A couple were brought before the court, and Janet, 
the wife, was charged with violent and undutiful 
conduct, and with wounding her husband by throwing 
a three-legged stool at his head. The minister re 
buked her conduct, and pointed out its grievous 
character, by explaining that just as Christ was head 
of his Church, so the husband was head of the wife : 
and therefore in assaulting him, she had in fact injured 
her own body. " Weel," she replied, " it s come to a 
fine pass gin a wife canna kame her ain head ; Ay, 
but, Janet," rejoined the minister, "a three-legged 
stool is a thief-like bane-kame to scart yer ain head 



wi ! 



The following is a dry Scottish case, of a minister s 
wife quietly " kaming her husband s head." Mr. Mair, 
a Scotch minister, was rather short-tempered, and 
had a wife named Rebecca, whom for brevity s sake 
he addressed as "Becky." He kept a diary, and 
among other entries, this one was very frequent 
" Becky and I had a rippet, for which 1 desire to be 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 813 

humble." A gentleman who had been on a visit to 
the minister went to Edinburgh, and told the story 
to a minister and his wife there; when the lady replied 
" Weel, he must have been an excellent man, Mr. Mair. 
My husband and I sometimes too have rippets/ but 
catch him if he s ever humble. 1 

Our object in bringing up and recording anecdotes 
of this kind is to elucidate the sort of humour we 
refer to, and to show it as a humour of past times. 
A modern clergyman could hardly adopt the tone 
and manner of the older class of ministers men not 
less useful and beloved, on account of their odd Scot 
tish humour, which indeed suited their time. Could 
a clergyman, for instance, now come off from the 
trying position in which we have heard of a northern 
minister being placed, and by the same way through 
which he extricated himself with much good nature and 
quiet sarcasm ? A young man, sitting opposite to him 
in the front of the gallery, had been up late on the 
previous night, and had stuffed the* cards with which 
he had been occupied into his coat pocket. Forget 
ting the circumstance, he pulled out his handkerchief, 
and the cards all flew about. The minister simply 
looked at him, and remarked, " Eh, man, your psalm - 
buik has been ill bund." 

An admirable story of a quiet pulpit rebuke is 
traditionary in Fife, and is told of Mr Shirra, a 
Seceding minister of Kirkcaldy, a man still well remem 
bered by some of the older generation for many 
excellent and some eccentric qualities. A young 
officer of a volunteer corps on duty in the place, very 
proud of his fresh uniform, had come to Mr. Shirra s 
church, and walked about as if looking for a seat, 
but in fact to show off his dress, which he saw was 
attracting attention from some of the less grave 



314 REMINISCENCES OP 

members of the congregation. He came to his place, 
however, rather quickly, on Mr. Shirra quietly re 
monstrating, " O man, will ye sit doun, and we ll see 
your new breeks when the kirk s dune." This same 
Mr. Shirra was well known from his quaint, and, as 
it were, parenthetical comments which he introduced 
in his reading of Scripture ; as, for example, on read 
ing from the 1 1 6th Psalm, " I said in my haste all 
men are liars," he quietly observed, " Indeed, Dauvid, 
my man, an ye had been i this parish ye might hae 
said it at your leisure." 

There was something even still more pungent in 
the incidental remark of a good man, in the course of 
his sermon, who had in a country place taken to 
preaching out of doors in the summer afternoons. 
He used to collect the people as they were taking air 
by the side of a stream outside the village. On one 
occasion he had unfortunately taken his place on a 
bank, and fixed himself on an ants nest. The active 
habits of those little creatures soon made the position 
of the intruder upon their domain very uncomfortable : 
and, afraid that his audience might observe something 
of this discomfort in his manner, he apologised by 
the remark "Brethren, though I hope I have the 
word of God in my mouth, I think the deil himself 
has gotten into my breeks." 

There was often no doubt a sharp conflict of wits 
when some of these humorist ministers came into 
collision with members of their flocks who were also 
humorists. Of this nature is the following anecdote, 
which I am assured is genuine : A minister in the 
north was taking to task one of his hearers who was 
a frequent defaulter, and was reproaching him as a 
habitual absentee from public worship. The accused 
vindicated himself on the plea of a dislike to long 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 315 

sermons. " Deed, man," said the reverend monitor ; 
a little nettled at the insinuation thrown out against 
himself, "if ye dinna mend, ye may land yersell 
where yell no be troubled wi mony sermons either 
lang or short." " Weel, aiblins sae," retorted John, 
" but that mayna be for want o ministers." 

An answer to another clergyman, Mr. Shireff, 
parochial minister of St. Ninian s, is indicative of 
Scottish and really clever wit. One of the members 
of his church was John Henderson or Anderson a 
very decent douce shoemaker and who left the 
church and joined the Independents, who had a 
meeting in Stirling. Some time afterwards, when 
Mr. Shireif met John on the road, he said, " And so, 
John, I understand you have become an Independent V 
" Deed, sir, 7 replied John, " that s true." " Oh, John," 
said the minister, " I m sure you ken that a rowin 
(rolling) stane gathers nae fog (moss). " Ay," said 
John, " that s true too ; but can ye tell me what guid 
the fog does to the stane T Mr. Shireff himself 
afterwards became a Baptist. The wit, however, was 
all in favour of the minister in the following : 

Dr. Gilchrist, formerly of the East Parish of 
Greenock, and who died minister of the Canongate, 
Edinburgh, received an intimation of one of his hearers 
who had been exceedingly irregular in his attendance 
that he had taken seats in an Episcopal chapel. One 
day soon after, he met his former parishioner, who 
told him candidly that he had " changed his religion." 
"Indeed," said the Doctor quietly; "how s that] I 
ne er heard ye had ony." It was this same Dr. 
Gilchrist who gave the well-known quiet but forcible 
rebuke to a young minister whom he considered rather 
conceited and fond of putting forward his own doings, 
and who was to officiate in the Doctor s church. 



876 REMINISCENCES OF 

He explained to him the mode in which he usually 
conducted the service, and stated that he always 
finished the prayer before the sermon with the Lord s 
Prayer. The young minister demurred at this, and 
asked if he "might not introduce any other short 
prayer?" "Ou ay," was the Doctor s quiet reply, 
" gif ye can gie us onything letter" 

There is a story current of a sharp hit at the pre 
tensions of a minister who required a little set down. 
The scene was on a Monday by a burn near Inverness. 
A stranger is fishing by a burn-side one Monday 
morning, when the parish minister accosts him from 
the other side of the stream thus : "Good sport 1" 
" Not very." " I am also an angler," but, pompously, 
" I am & fisher of men." " Are you always successful ?" 
" Not very." " So I guessed, as I keeked into your 
creel* yesterday." 

At Banchory, on Deeside, some of the criticisms 
and remarks on sermons were very quaint and charac 
teristic. My cousin had asked the Leys grieve what 
he thought of a young man s preaching, who had 
been more successful in appropriating the words than 
the ideas of Dr. Chalmers. He drily answered, " Ou, 
Sir Thomas, just a floorish o the surface." But the 
same hearer bore this unequivocal testimony to 
another preacher whom he really admired. He was 
asked if he did not think the sermon long : " Na, I 
should nae hae thocht it lang an I d been sitting on 
thorns/ 

I think the following is about as good a sample of 
what we call Scotch "pawky" as any I know : A 
countryman had lost his wife and a favourite cow on 
the same day His friends consoled him for the loss 
of the wife ; and being highly respectable, several 

* Basket for fish. 



HIS DAY AT THE PLATE 

From a water-colour drawing by 

HENRY W. KERR, 
A.R.S.A., R.S.W. 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 317 

hints and offers were made towards getting another 
for him. " Ou ay," he at length replied ; " you re a 
keen aneuch to get me anither wife, but no yin o ye 
offers to gie me anither coo." 

The following anecdotes, collected from different 
contributors, are fair samples of the quaint and original 
character of Scottish ways and expressions, now 
becoming more and more matters of reminiscence : 
A poor man came to his minister for the purpose 
of intimating his intention of being married. As he 
expressed, however, some doubts on the subject, and 
seemed to hesitate, the minister asked him if there 
were any doubts about his being accepted. No, that 
was not the difficulty ; but he expressed a fear that 
it might not be altogether suitable, and he asked 
whether, if he were once married, he could not (in 
case of unsuitability and unhappiness) get wmiarried. 
The clergyman assured him that it was impossible ; 
if he married, it must be for better and worse ; that 
he could not go back upon the step. So thus instructed 
he went away. After a time he returned, and said 
he had made up his mind to try the experiment, and 
he came and was married. Ere Jong he came back 
very disconsolate, and declared it would not do at 
all ; that he was quite miserable, and begged to be 
unmarried. The minister assured him that was out 
of the question, and urged him to put away the notion 
of anything so absurd. The man insisted that the 
marriage could not hold good, for the wife was " waur 
than the deevil." The minister demurred, saying 
that it was quite impossible. " Deed, sir," said the 
poor man, " the Bible tells ye that if ye resist the 
deil he flees frae ye, but if ye resist her she flees at ye." 

A faithful minister of the gospel, being one day 
engaged in visiting some members of his flock, came 



818 REMINISCENCES OF 

to the door of a house where his gentle tapping could 
not be heard for the noise of contention within. 
After waiting a little he opened the door, and walked 
in, saying, with an authoritative voice, " I should like 
to know who is the head of this house." " Weel, sir/ 
said the husband and father, " if ye sit doun a wee, 
we ll maybe be able to tell ye, for we re just trying to 
settle that point/ 

I have received from my kind correspondent, Rev. 
Mr. Hogg of Kirkmahoe, the folio wing, most amusing 
account of a passage-at-arms between a minister and 
"minister s man," both of them of the old school. 
The minister of a parish in Dumfriesshire had a man 
who had long and faithfully served at the manse. 
During the minister s absence, a ploughing match 
came off in the district, and the man, feeling the old 
spirit return with the force of former days, wished to 
enter the lists, and go in for a prize, which he did, and 
gained the fifth prize. The minister, on his return 
home, and glancing at the local newspaper, saw the 
report of the match, and the name of his own man in 
the prize-list. Being of a crusty temper, he rang the 
bell in fury, and summoned John, when the following 
colloquy took place : " John, how is this 1 who gave 
you leave to go to the ploughing-match 1" "You 
were not at hame, sir." "Well, you should have 
written to me." " 1 didn t think it was worth while, 
sir, as we had our ain ploughing forrit"* "That 
may be ; but why were- you not higher in the prize- 
list ? I m ashamed of you, and you ought to be 
ashamed of yourself for being so far behind." John s 
patience had given way, and, in his haste he burst 
forth, " Indeed, I m thinking, sir, that if ye were at a 

* Well advanced 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 519 

preaching match, and five -and- thirty in the field, ye 
wadna come in for anything, let a-be for a fiftV 

Stories of humorous encounters between ministers 
and their hearers are numerous, and though often 
seasoned with dry and caustic humour, they never 
indicate appearance of bitterness or ill-feeling between 
the parties. As an example, a clergyman thought his 
people were making rather an unconscionable objec 
tion to his using a MS. in delivering his sermon. They 
urged, " What gars ye tak up your bit papers to the 
pu pit 1 He replied that it was best, for really he 
could not remember his sermon, and must have his 
papers. "Weel, weel, minister, then dinna expect 
that we can remember them." 

Some of these encounters arise out of the old ques 
tion of sleeping in church. For example "I see, 
James, that you tak a bit nap in the kirk," said a 
minister to one of his people; "can ye no tak a mull 
with you 1 and when you become heavy an extra pinch 
would keep you up." "Maybe it wad," said James, 
" but pit you the sneeshin intil your sennon, minister, 
and maybe that ll serve the same purpose." As a 
specimen of the matter-of-fact view of religious ques 
tions frequently recorded of older ministers, let 
me adduce a well- authenticated account of a minister 
in a far up-hill parish in Deeside. Eeturning thanks 
one Sabbath for the excellent harvest, he began as 
usual, " Lord, we thank thee," etc., and went on to 
mention its abundance, and its safe ingathering ; but, 
feeling anxious to be quite candid and scrupulously 
truthful, added, " all except a few sma bitties at Birse 
no worth o mentioning." 

A Scotch preacher, a man of large stature, being sent 
to officiate one Sunday at a country parish, was accom 
modated at night, in the manse, in a very diminutive 



S20 REMINISCENCES OF 

closet the usual best bed-room, appropriated to 
strangers, being otherwise occupied. " Is this the 
bed-room?" he said, starting back in amazement. 
" Deed ay, sir, this is the prophets chalmer." " It 
maun be for the minor prophets, then," was the quiet 
reply. 

Elders of the kirk, no doubt, frequently partook of 
the original and humorous character of ministers and 
others, their contemporaries ; and amusing scenes 
must have passed, and good Scotch sayings been said, 
where they were concerned. Dr. Chalmers used to 
repeat one of these sayings of an elder with great 
delight. The Doctor associated with the anecdote the 
name of Lady Grlenorchy and the church which she 
endowed ; but I am assured that the person was Lady 
Elizabeth Cunninghame, sister of Archibald, eleventh 
Earl of Egliriton, and wife of Sir John Cunninghame, 
Bart., of Caprington, near Kilmarnock. It seems her 
ladyship had, for some reason, taken offence at the 
proceedings of the Caprington parochial authorities, 
and a result of which was that she ceased putting her 
usual liberal offering into the plate at the door. This 
had gone on for some time, till one of the elders, of 
less forbearing character than the others, took his turn 
at the plate. Lady Elizabeth as usual passed by 
without a contribution, but made a formal courtsey to 
the elder at the plate, and sailed up the aisle. The 
good man was determined not to let her pass so easily, 
so he quickly followed her, and urged the remon 
strance : " Gie us mair o your siller and less o your 
mainners, my lady Betty." My kind correspondent, 
Rev. Mr. Agnew, supplies me with an amusing pendant 
to this anecdote : At a great church meeting, Dr. 
Chalmers had told this story with much effect when 
Lord Galloway was in the chair. After the meeting, 



SCOTTISH LIFE <& CHARACTER. 3 21 

Dr. Chalmers, and many who had been present, dined 
at his lordship s hospitable table. After dinner, when 
the morning meeting was discussed, Lord Galloway 
addressed Dr. Chalmers on the subject of this story 
and, as if not quite pleased at its being introduced, 
said, "Do you know, Doctor, the lady of whom you 
told the story of the elder is a near relation of mine ?" 
Dr. Chalmers, with real or seeming simplicity, answered, 
" No, my Lord, I did not ; but next time I tell the 
story I can mention the fact." As a pendant to the 
elder s disclaimer of " mainners " on the part of a lady 
of rank, I may add an authentic anecdote of a very 
blunt and unpolished Kincardineshire laird, expressing 
the same disclaimer of mainners on the part of a servant, 
but in a far rougher form of speech. He had been 
talking with a man who came to offer for his service 
as a butler. But the laird soon found he was far too 
grand a gentleman for his service, and became chafed 
with his requiring so many things as conditions of 
coming ; till, on his dismissal, when the man was 
bowing and scraping to show how genteel he could 
be, he lost all patience, and roared out, " Get out, ye 
fule ; gie us nane o your mainners here." 

Of an eccentric and eloquent professor and divine 
of a northern Scottish university, there are numerous 
and extraordinary traditionary anecdotes. I have 
received an account of some of these anecdotes from 
the kind communication of an eminent Scottish clergy 
man, who was himself in early days his frequent 
hearer. The stories told of the strange observations 
and allusions which he introduced into his pulpit 
discourses almost surpass belief. For many reasons, 
they are not suitable to the nature of this publication, 
still less could they be tolerated in any pulpit 
administration now, although familiar with his con- 



322 REMINISCENCES OF 

temporaries. The remarkable circumstance, however, 
connected with these eccentricities was, that he 
introduced them with the utmost gravity, and often 
times, after he had delivered them, pursued his subject 
with great earnestness and eloquence, as if he had said 
nothing uncommon. One saying of the professor, 
however, out of the pulpit, is too good to be omitted, 
and may be recorded without violation of propriety. 
He happened to meet at the house of a lawyer, whom 
he considered rather a man of sharp practice, and for 
whom he had no great favour, two of his own parish 
ioners. The lawj^er jocularly and ungraciously put 
the question ; " Doctor, these are members of your 
flock ; may I ask, do you look upon them as white 
sheep or as black sheep ] " I don t know," answered 
the professor drily, " whether they are black or white 
sheep, but I know that if they are long here they are 
pretty sure to be fleeced." 

It was a pungent answer given by a Free Kirk 
member who had deserted his colours and returned to 
the old faith. A short time after the Disruption, the 
Free Church minister chanced to meet him who had 
then left him and returned to the Established Church. 
The minister bluntly accosted him " Ay, man, John, 
an -ye ve left us ; what micht be your reason for that ? 
Did ye think it wasna a guid road we was gaun 1 
" Ou, I daursay it was a guid eneuch road and a braw 
road ; but, minister, the tolls were unco high." 

The* following story I received from a member of 
the Penicuik family : Dr. Ritchie, who died minister 
of St. Andrews, Edinburgh, was, when a young man, 
tutor to Sir G. Clerk and his brothers. Whilst with 
them, the clergyman of the parish became unable, from 
infirmity and illness, to do his duty, and Mr. Ritchie 
was appointed interim assistant. He was an active 



SCOTTISH LIFE 6 CHARACTER. 323 

young man, and during his residence in the country 
had become fond of fishing, and was a good shot. 
When the grouse-shooting came round, his pupils 
happened to be laid up with a fever, so Mr. Ritchie 
had all the shooting to himself. One day he walked 
over the moor so far that he became quite weary and 
footsore. On returning home he went into a cottage, 
where the good woman received him kindly, gave 
him water for his feet, and refreshment. In the 
course of conversation, he told her he was acting as 
assistant minister of the parish, and he explained how 
far he had travelled in pursuit of game, how weary he 
was, and how completely knocked up he was. " Weel, 
sir, I dinna doubt ye maun be sair travelled and tired 
wi your walk." And then she added, with sly 
reference to his profession, " Deed, sir, I m thinkin 
ye micht hae travelled frae Genesis to Revelation and 
no been sae forfauchten." * 

Scotch people in general are, like this old woman, 
very jealous, as might be expected, of ministers join 
ing the sportsman to their pastoral character. A 
proposal for the appointment of a minister to a 
particular parish, who was known in the country as a 
capital shot, called forth a rather neat Scottish pun, 
from an old woman of the parish, who significantly 
observed, " Deed, KUpaatrick would hae been a mair 
appropriate place for him." Paatrick is Scotch for 
partridge. 

I cannot do better in regard to the three following 

o <^> 

anecdotes of the late Professor Gillespie of St. 
Andrews, than give them to my readers in the words 
with which Dr. Lindsay Alexander kindly communi 
cated them to me. 

"In the Cornhill Magazine for March 1860, in 

* Wearied. 



S24 REMINISCENCES OF 

an article on Student Life in Scotland, there is 
an anecdote of the late Professor Gillespie of St. 
Andrews, which is told in such a way as to miss the 
point and humour of the story. The correct version, 
as I have heard it from the professor himself, is this : 
Having employed the village carpenter to put a frame 
round a dial at the manse of Cults, where he was a 
minister, he received from the man a bill to the follow 
ing effect : To fencing the deil, 5s. 6d. When I 
paid him, said the professor, 1 1 could not help saying, 
John, this is rather more than I counted on ; but I 
haven t a word to say. I get somewhere about two 
hundred a year for fencing the deil, and I m afraid I 
don t do it half so effectually as you ve done. 

" Whilst I am writing, another of the many stories 
of the learned and facetious professor rises in my mind. 
There was a worthy old woman at Cults whose place in 
church was what is commonly called the Lateran ; a 
kind of small gallery at the top of the pulpit steps. 
She was a most regular attender, but as regularly fell 
asleep during sermon, of which fault the preacher had 
sometimes audible intimation. It was observed, how 
ever, that though Janet always slept during her own 
pastor s discourse, she could be attentive enough when 
she pleased, and especially was she alert when some 
young preacher occupied the pulpit. A little piqued, 
perhaps, at this, Mr. Gillespie said to her one day, 
* Janet, I think you hardly behave very respectfully 
to your own minister in one respect.* * Me, sir! ex 
claimed Janet, I wad like to see ony man, no tae say 
woman, by yoursell, say that o me ! what can you 
mean, sir? Weel, Janet, ye ken when I preach 
you re almost always fast asleep before I ve well given 
out my text ; but when any of these young men from 
St. Andrews preach for me, I see you never sleep a 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 325 

wink. Now, that s what I call no using me as you 
should do/ * Hoot, sir, was the reply, * is that a* ? 
I ll sune tell you the reason o that. When you 
preach, we a ken the word o God s safe in your 
hands ; but when thae young birkies tak it in haun, 
my certie, but it taks us a to look after them. 

" I am tempted to subjoin another. In the 
Humanity Class, one day, a youth who was rather 
fond of showing off his powers of language, translated 
Hor. Od. iii., 3, 61, 62, somewhat thus: The 
fortunes of Troy renascent under sorrowful omen shall 
be repeated with sad catastrophe. Catastrophe ! 

cried the professor. * Catastrophe, Mr. , that s 

Greek. Give us it in plain English, if you please. 
Thus suddenly pulled down from his high horse, the 
student effected his retreat with a rather lame and 
impotent version. * Now, said the professor, his 
little sharp eyes twinkling with fun, that brings to 
my recollection what once happened to a friend of 
mine, a minister in the county. Being a scholarly 
man he was sometimes betrayed into the use of words 
in the pulpit which the people were not likely to 
understand ; but being very conscientious, he never 
detected himself in this, without pausing to give the 
meaning of the word he had used, and sometimes his 
extempore explanations of very fine words were a 

little like what we have just had from Mr. , 

rather too flat and commonplace. On one occasion he 
allowed this very word catastrophe to drop from 
him, on which he immediately added, that, you know, 
my friends, means the end of a thing. Next day, as 
he was riding through his parish, some mischievous 

I have abundant evidence to prove that a similar answer 
to that which Dr. Alexander records to have been made to Mr. 

Gillespie has been given on similar occasions by others. 

2 E 



326 REMINISCENCES OF 

youth succeeded in fastening a bunch of furze to his 
horse s tail a trick which, had the animal been 
skittish, might have exposed the worthy pastor s 
horsemanship to too severe a trial, but which happily 
had no effect whatever on the sober-minded and 
respectable quadruped which he bestrode. On, there 
fore, he quietly jogged, utterly unconscious of the 
addition that had been made to his horse s caudal 
region, until, as he was passing some cottages, he was 
arrested by the shrill voice of an old woman exclaim 
ing, * Heh, sir ! Heh, sir ! there s a whun-buss at 
your horse s catawstrophe ! 

I have several times adverted to the subject of 
epigrams. A clever impromptu of this class has been 
recorded as given by a judge s lady in reply to one 
made by the witty Henry Erskine at a dinner party 
at Lord Armadale s. When a bottle of claret was 
called for, port was brought in by mistake. A second 
time claret was sent for, and a second time the same 
mistake occurred. Henry Erskine addressed the host 
in an impromptu, which was meant as a parody on the 
well-known Scottish song, " My Jo, Janet " 

* Kind sir, it s for your courtesie 

When I come here to dine, sir, 
For the love ye bear to me, 
Gie me the claret wine, sir." 

To which Mrs. Honeyman retorted 

Drink the port, the claret s dear, 

Erskine, Erskine ; 
Ye ll get fou on t, never fear, 
My jo, Erskine." 

Some of my younger readers may not be familiar 
with the epigram of John Home, author of the tragedy 
of " Douglas." The lines were great favourites with 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 327 

Sir Walter Scott, who delighted in repeating them. 
Home was very partial to claret, and could not bear 
port. He was exceedingly indignant when the Govern 
ment laid a tax upon claret, having previously long 
connived at its introduction into Scotland under very 
mitigated duties. He embodied his anger in the 
following epigram : 

" Firm and erect the Caledonian stood, 
Old was his mutton, and his claret good ; 

* Let him drink port, an English statesman cried 
He drank the poison, and his spirit died. " 

There is a curious story traditionary in some families 
connected with the nobleman who is the subject of it, 
which, I am assured, is true, and further, that it has 
never yet appeared in print. The story is, therefore, 
a " Scottish reminiscence," and, as such, deserves a 
place here. The Earl of Lauderdale was so ill as to 
cause great alarm to his friends, and perplexity to his 
physicians. One distressing symptom was a total 
absence of sleep, and the medical men declared their 
opinion, that without sleep being induced he could not 
recover. His son, a queer eccentric-looking boy, who 
was considered not entirely right in his mind but 
somewhat " daft" and who accordingly had had little 
attention paid to his education, was sitting under the 
table, and cried out, "Sen* for that preachin man 
frae Livingstone, for faith er aye sleeps in the kirk." 
One of the doctors thought this hint worth attending 
to. The experiment of " getting a minister till him 
succeeded, and, sleep coming on, he recovered. The 
Earl, out of gratitude for this benefit, took more notice 
of his son, paid attention to his education, and that 
boy became the Duke of Lauderdale, afterwards so 
famous or infamous in his country s history. 



328 REMINISCENCES OF 

The following very amusing anecdote, although it 
belongs more properly to the division on peculiarities 
of Scottish phraseology, I give in the words of a cor 
respondent who received it from the parties with whom 
it originated. About twenty years ago, he was paying 
a visit to a cousin, married to a Liverpool merchant 
of some standing. The husband had lately had a 
visit from his aged father, who formerly followed the 
occupation of farming in Stirlingshire, and who had 
probably never been out of Scotland before in his life. 
The son, finding his father rather de trop in his office, 
one day persuaded him to cross the ferry over the 
Mersey, and inspect the harvesting, then in full opera 
tion, on the Cheshire side. On landing, he approached 
a young woman reaping with the sickle in a field of 
oats, when the following dialogue ensued : 

Farmer. Lassie, are yer aits muckle bookit* th* 
year] 

Reaper. What say n yo ? 

Farmer. I was speiring gif yer aits are muckle 
bookit th year ! 

Reaper (in amazement). I dunnot know what yo 
say n. 

Farmer (in equal astonishment). Gude safe us, 
do ye no understaan gude plain English ? are yer 
aits muckle bookit 1 

Keaper decamps to her nearest companion, saying 
that was a madman, while he shouted in great wrath, 
" They were naething else than a set o ignorant pock- 
puddings." 

An English tourist visited Arran, and being a keen 
disciple of Izaak Walton, was arranging to have a day s 
good sport. Being told that the cleg, or horse-fly, 
would suit his purpose admirably for lure, he addressed 

* Oats heavy in bulk. 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 329 

himself to Christy, the Highland servant-girl : " I 
say, my girl, can you get me some horse-flies 1" 
Christy looked stupid, and he repeated his question. 
Finding that she did not yet comprehend him, he ex 
claimed, "Why, girl, did you never see a horse-fly?" 
" Naa, sir," said the girl, " but A wance saw a coo jump 
ower a preshipice." 

The following anecdote is highly illustrative of the 
thoroughly attached old family serving-man. A cor 
respondent sends it as told to him by an old school 
fellow of Sir Walter Scott s at Fraser and Adam s 
class, High School : 

One of the lairds of Abercairnie proposed to go out, 
on the occasion of one of the risings for the Stuarts, in 
the 15 or 45 but this was not with the will of his 
old serving-man, who, when Abercairnie was pulling 
on his boots, preparing to go, overturned a kettle of 
boiling water upon his legs, so as to disable him from 
joining his friends saying, "Tak that let them 
fecht wha like ; stay ye at hame and be laird o Aber 



cairnie. 



A story illustrative of a union of polite courtesy 
with rough and violent ebullition of temper common 
in the old Scottish character, is well known in the 
Lothian family. William Henry, fourth Marquis of 
Lothian, had for his guest at dinner an old countess 
to whom he wished to show particular respect and 
attention.* After a very complimentary reception, he 
put on his white gloves to hand her down stairs, 
led her up to the upper end of the table, bowed, and 
retired to his own place. This I am assured was the 

This Marquis of Lothian was aide-de-camp to the Duke of 
Cumberland at the battle of Culloden, who sullied his character 
as a soldier and a nobleman by the cruelties which he exercised 
on the vanquished. 



330 REMINISCENCES OF 

usual custom with the chief lady guest by persons who 
themselves remember it. After all were seated, the 
Marquis addressed the lady, " Madam, may I have the 
honour and happiness of helping your ladyship to 
some fish 1 ?" But he got no answer, for the poor 
woman was deaf as a post, and did not hear him. 
After a pause, but still in the most courteous accents, 
u Madam, have I your ladyship s permission to send 
you some fish?" Then a little quicker, "Is your 
Ladyship inclined to take fish?" Very quick, and 
rather peremptory, " Madam, do ye choice fish ?" At 
last the thunder burst, to everybody s consternation, 
with a loud thump on the table and stamp on the 
floor: " Con found ye, will ye have any fish ?" I 
am afraid the exclamation might have been even of a 
more pungent character. 

A correspondent has kindly enabled me to add a 
reminiscence and anecdote of a type of Scottish 
character now nearly extinct. I mean the old Scottish 
military officer of the wars of Holland and the Low 
Countries. I give them in his own words : " My 
father, the late Rev. Dr. Bethune, minister of Dornoch, 
was on friendly terms with a fine old soldier, the late 
Colonel Alexander Sutherland of Calmaly and Brae- 
grudy, in Sutherlandshire, who was lieutenant -colonel 
of the Local Militia, and who used occasionally, in 
his word of command, to break out with a Gaelic 
phrase to the men, much to the amusement of by 
standers. He called his charger, a high-boned not over 
fed animal, Cadaver a play upon accents, for he was 
a good .-classical scholar, and fond of quoting the Latin 
poets. But he had no relish nor respect for the 
Modern languages, particularly for that of our French 
neighbours, whom he looked upon as hereditary 
enemies ! My father and the colonel were both poli- 



SCOTTISH LIFE <t- CHARACTER. 331 

ticians, as well as scholars. Reading a newspaper 
article in his presence one day, my father stopped 
short, handing the paper to him, and said, Colonel, 
here is a French quotation, which you can translate 
better than I can. No, sir! said the colonel, 



never learnt the language of the scoundrels ! ! ! The 
colonel was known as Col. Sandy Sutherland, and 
the men always called him Colonel Sandy. He was a 
splendid specimen of the hale veteran, with a sten 
torian voice, and the last queue I remember to have 



seen. 



A correspondent kindly sends me from Aberdeen- 
shire a humorous story, very much of the same sort as 
that of Colonel Erskine s servant, who considerately 
suggested to his master that " maybe an aith might 
relieve him." My correspondent heard the story 
from the late Bishop Skinner. 

It was among the experiences of his father, Bishop 
John Skinner. While making some pastoral visits in 
the neighbourhood of the town (Aberdeen), the Bishop 
took occasion to step into the cottage of two humble 
parishioners, a man and his wife, who cultivated a 
little croft. No one was within; but as the door 
was only on the latch, the Bishop knew that the 
worthy couple could not be far distant. He therefore 
stepped in the direction of the outhouses, and found 
them both in the barn winnowing corn, in the primitive 
way, with " riddles," betwixt two open doors. On the 
Bishop making his appearance, the honest man ceased 
his winnowing operations, and in the gladness of his 
heart stepped briskly forward to welcome his pastor ; 
but in his haste he trod upon the rim of the riddle, 
which rebounded with great force against one of his 
shins. The accident made him suddenly pull up; 
* Sir H. Moncreiff s Life of Dr. J. Erskine. 



832 REMINISCENCES OF 

and, instead of completing the reception, he stood 
vigorously rubbing the injured limb ; and, not daring 
in such a venerable presence to give vent to the 
customary strong ejaculations, kept twisting his face 
into all sorts of grimaces. As was natural, the Bishop 
went forward, uttering the usual formulas of condolence 
and sympathy, the patient, meanwhile, continuing his 
rubbings and his silent but expressive contortions. 
At last Janet came to the rescue ; and, clapping the 
Bishop coaxingly on the back, said, " Noo, Bishop, 
jist gang ye yir waas into the hoose, an we ll follow 
fan he s had time to curse a fyllie, an I se warran he ll 
seen be weel eneuch ! 

The following might have been added as examples 
of the dry humorous manner in which our countrymen 
and countrywomen sometimes treat matters with which 
they have to deal, even when serious ones : 

An itinerant vendor of wood in Aberdeen having 
been asked how his wife was, replied, " Oh, she s fine ; 
I hae taen her tae Banchory ;" and on it being inno 
cently remarked that the change of air would do her 
good, he looked up, and, with a half smile, said, " Hoot, 
she s i the kirkyard." 

The well-known aversion of the Scotch to hearing 
read sermons has often led to amusing occurrences. 
One pastor, in a country district, who was much 
respected by his people, but who, nevertheless, were 
never quite reconciled to his paper in the pulpit, 
found himself on one occasion in an awkward predi 
cament, from this same paper question. One Sabbath 
afternoon, having exhausted both firstly and secondly, 
he came to the termination of his discourse; but, 
unfortunately, the manuscript was wanting. In vain 
efforts to seek the missing paper, he repeated " thirdly 
and lastly " ad nauseam to his hearers. At last one, 



THE LAIRD S DAUGHTER 

From a water-colour drifting by 
HENRY W. KERR, 



R.SM-\ 



SCOTTISH LIFE <t- CHARACTER. 333 

cooler than the others, rose, and nodding to the 
minister, observed, " Deed, sir, If I m no mista en, 
I saw l thirdly and lastly fa ower the poopit stairs ;" 
evidently enjoying the disappearance of so important 
a part of the obnoxious document. 

This prejudice was indeed some years since in 
Scotland quite inveterate. The following anecdote 
has been kindly sent to me from Memoirs of Charles 
Young, lately published by his son : 

" I have a distinct recollection, one Sunday when 
I was living at Cults, and when a stranger was officiat 
ing for Dr. Gillespie, observing that he had not 
proceeded five minutes with his discourse, before 
there was a general commotion and stampedo. The 
exodus at last became so serious, that, conceiving 
something to be wrong, probably a fire in the manse, 
I caught the infection, and eagerly inquired of the 
first person I encountered in the churchyard what 
was the matter, and was told, with an expression of 
sovereign scorn and disgust Losh keep ye, young 
man! Hae ye eyes, and see not? Hae ye ears, 
and hear not ? The man reads ! " 

On one occasion, however, even this prejudice 
gave way before the power of the most eloquent 
preacher that Scotland ever heard, or perhaps that 
the world ever heard. A shrewd old Fife hearer of 
sermons had been objecting, in the usual exaggerated 
language, against reading sermons in the pulpit. A 
gentleman urged the case of Dr. Chalmers, in defence 
of the practice. He used his paper in preaching 
rigidly, and yet with what an effect he read ! All 
the objector could reply to this was, "Ah, but it s 
fell** reading yon." 

The two following are from a correspondent who 

Extraordinary. 



334 REMINISCENCES OF 

heard them told by the late Dr. Barclay the anatomist, 
well known for his own dry Scottish humour. 

A country laird, at his death, left his property in 
equal shares to his two sons, who continued to live 
very amicably together for many years. At length 
one said to the other, " Tarn, we re gettin auld now, 
you ll tak a wife, and when I dee you ll get my share 
o the grund." " Na, John, you re the youngest and 
maist active, you ll tak a wife, and when I dee you ll 
get my share." " Od," says John, " Tarn, that s jist 
the way wi you when there s ony/osA or trouble. The 
deevil a thing you ll do at a ." 

A country clergyman, who was not on the most 
friendly terms with one of his heritors who resided in 
Stirling, and who had annoyed the minister by 
delay in paying him his teinds (or tithe), found it 
necessary to make the laird understand that his 
proportion of stipend must be paid so soon as it 
became due. The payment came next term punctual 
to the time. When the messenger was introduced to 
the minister, he asked who he was, remarking that 
he thought he had seen him before. " I am the 
hangman of Stirling, sir." " Oh, just so, take a seat 
till I write you a receipt. * It was evident that the 
laird- had chosen this medium of communication with 
the minister as an affront, and to show his spite. 
The minister, however, turned the tables upon him, 
sending back an acknowledgment for the payment 

in these terms : " Eeceived from Mr. , by the 

hands of the hangman of Stirling, his doer,* the sum 
of," etc. etc. 

The following story of pulpit criticism by a beadle 

* In Scotland it is usual to term the law-agent or man of 
business of any person his "doer." 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHAR ACT EM. 385 

ased to be told, I am assured, by the late Rev. Dr. 
Andrew Thomson : 

A clergyman in the country had a stranger preach 
ing for him one day, and meeting his beadle, he said 
to him, " Well, Saunders, how did you like the 
sermon to-day]" "I watna, sir; it was rather ower 
plain and simple for me. I like thae sermons best 
that jumbles the joodgment and confoonds the sense. 
Od, sir, I never saw ane that could come up to your- 
sell at that." 

The epithet " canny " has frequently been applied to 
our countrymen, not in a severe or invidious spirit, but 
as indicating a due regard to personal interest and 
safety. In the larger edition of Jamieson (see edition 
of 1840) I find there are no fewer than eighteen 
meanings given of this word. The following extract 
from a provincial paper, which has been sent me, will 
furnish a good illustration. It is headed, the 
" PROPERTY QUALIFICATION," and goes on " Give a 
chartist a large estate, and a copious supply of ready 
money, and you make a Conservative of him. He 
can then see the other side of the moon, which he 
could never see before. Once, a determined Radical 
in Scotland, named Davy Armstrong, left his native 
village ; and many years afterwards, an old fellow 
grumbler met him, and commenced the old song. 
Davy shook his head. His friend was astonished, 
and soon perceived that Davy was no longer a grumbler, 
but a rank Tory. Wondering at the change, he was 
desirous of knowing the reason. Davy quietly and 
laconically replied I ve a coo (cow) noo. " 

But even still more "canny was the eye to the 
main chance in an Aberdonian fellow-countryman, 
communicated in the following pleasant terms from 
a Nairn correspondent : " I have just been reading 



336 REMINISCENCES OF 

your delightful Reminiscences/ which has brought 
to my recollection a story I used to hear my father 
tell. It was thus: A countryman in a remote 
part of Aberdeenshire having got a newly-coined 
sovereign in the days when such a thing was seldom 
seen in his part of the country, went about showing 
it to his friends and neighbours for the charge of one 
penny each sight. Evil days, however, unfortunately 
overtook him, and he was obliged to part with his 
loved coin. Soon after, a neighbour called on him, 
and asked a sight of his sovereign, at the same time 
tendering a penny. Ah, man/ says he, it s gane ; 
but I ll lat ye see the cloutie it was rowt in for a 
bawbee. 1 

There was something very simple-minded in the 
manner in which a parishioner announced his canny 
care for his supposed interests when he became an 
elder of the kirk. The story is told of a man who 
had got himself installed in the eldership, and, in 
consequence, had for some time carried round the 
ladle for the collections. He had accepted the office 
of elder because some wag had made him believe that 
the remuneration was sixpence each Sunday, with 
a boll of meal at New Year s Day. When the time 
arrived he claimed his meal, but was told he had 
been hoaxed. " It may be sae wi the meal," he said 
coolly, " but I took care o the saxpence my sell." 

There was a good deal both of the pawky and the 
canny in the following anecdote, which I have from 
an honoured lady of the south of Scotland : " There 
was an old man who always rode a donkey to his 
work, and tethered him while he worked on the roads, 
or whatever else it might be. It was suggested to 
him by my grandfather that he was suspected of 
putting it in to feed in the fields at other people s 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 33f 

expense. * Eh, laird, I could never be tempted to do 
that, for my cuddy winna eat onything but nettles 
and thristles. One day my grandfather was riding 
along the road, when he saw Andrew Leslie at work, 
and his donkey up to the knees in one of his clover 
fields, feeding luxuriously. * Hollo, Andrew, said 
he ; 1 1 thought you told me your cuddy would eat 
nothing but nettles and thistles. Ay, said he, but 
he misbehaved the day ; he nearly ticket me ower 
his head, sae I pat him in there just to punish him." 

There is a good deal of the same sort of simple 
character brought out in the two following. They 
were sent to me from Golspie, and are original, as 
they occurred in my correspondent s own experience. 
The one is a capital illustration of thrift, the other 
of kind feeling for the friendless, in the Highland 
character. I give the anecdotes in my correspondent s 
own words : A little boy, some twelve years of age, 
came to me one day with the following message : " My 
mother wants a vomit from you, sir, and she bade me 
say if it will not be strong enough, she will send it 
back." " Oh, Mr. Begg," said a woman to me, for 
whom I was weighing two grains of calomel for a 
child, " dinna be so mean wi it ; it is for a poor 
faitherless bairn." 

The following, from a provincial paper, contains a 
very amusing recognition of a return which one of 
the itinerant race considered himself conscientiously 
bound to make to his clerical patron for an alms : 
" A beggar, while on his rounds one day this week, 
called on a clergyman (within two and a half miles of 
the Cross of Kilmarnock), who, obeying the biblical 
injunction of clothing the naked, offered the beggar 
an old top-coat. It was immediately rolled up, and 
the beggar, in going away with it under his arm, 



S38 REMINISCENCES OF 



thoughtfully (!) remarked, I ll hae tae gie ye a day s 
heariri for this na. 

The natural and self-complacent manner in which 
the following anecdote brings out in the Highlander 
an innate sense of the superiority of Celtic blood is 
highly characteristic: A few years ago, when an 
English family were visiting in the Highlands, their 
attention was directed to a child crying; on their 
observing to the mother it was cross, she exckimed 
"Na, ria, it s nae cross, for we re baith true Hieland." 

The late Mr. Grahame of Grarsock, in Strathearn, 
whose grandson now " is laird himsel," used to tell, 
with great unction, some thirty years ago, a story of a 
neighbour of his own of a still earlier generation, 
Drummond of Keltie, who, as it seems, had employed 
an itinerant tailor instead of a metropolitan artist. 
On one occasion a new pair of inexpressibles had 
been made for the laird j they were so tight that, 
after waxing hot and red in the attempt to try them 
on, he let out rather savagely at the tailor, who calmly 
assured him, " It s the fash n ; it s jist the fash n." 
" Eh, ye haveril, is it the fashion for them no to go on ? 

An English gentleman writes to me "We have 
all heard much of Scotch caution, and I met once 
with an instance of it which I think is worth record 
ing, and which I tell as strictly original. About 
1827, I fell into conversation, on board of a Stirling 
steamer, with a well-dressed middle-aged man, who 
told me he was a soldier of the 42d, going on leave. 
He began to relate the campaigns he had gone through, 
and mentioned having been at the siege of St. Sebas 
tian. Ah! under Sir Thomas Graham 1 Yes, 
sir; he commanded there. Well, I said, merely 
by way of carrying on the crack, ( and what do you 
think of him? 1 Instead of answering, ho scanned 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 839 

me several times from head to foot, and from foot to 
head, and then said, in a tone of the most diplomatic 
caution, Yell perhaps be of the name of Grah m 
yersel, sir 1 There could hardly be a better example, 
either of the circumspection of a real canny Scot, or 
of the lingering influence of the old patriarchal feel 
ing, by which A name, a word, makes clansmen 
vassals to their lord. 

Now when we linger over these old stories, we 
seem to live at another period, and in such reminis 
cences we converse with a generation different from 
our own. Changes are still going on around us. 
They have been going on for some time past. The 
changes are less striking as society advances, and we 
find fewer alterations for us to notice. Probably 
each generation will have less change to record than 
the generation that preceded ; still every one who is 
tolerably advanced in life must feel that, comparing 
its beginning and its close, he has witnessed two 
epochs, and that in advanced life he looks on a 
different world from one which he can remember. 
To elucidate this fact has been my present object, 
and in attempting this task I cannot but feel how 
trifling and unsatisfactory my remarks must seem 
to many who have a more enlarged and minute 
acquaintance with Scottish life and manners than I 
have. But I shall be encouraged to hope for a 
favourable, or at least an indulgent, sentence upon 
these Reminiscences, if to any of my readers I shall 
have opened a fresh insight into the subject of social 
changes amongst us. Many causes have their effect 
upon the habits and customs of mankind, and of late 
years such causes have been greatly multiplied in 
number and activity. In many persons, and in some 
who have not altogether lost their national partialities, 



340 REMINISCENCES OF 

there is a general tendency to merge Scottish usages 
and Scottish expressions into the English forms, as 
being more correct and genteel. The facilities for 
moving, not merely from place to place in our own 
country, but from one country to another ; the spread 
of knowledge and information by means of periodical 
publications and newspapers ; and the incredibly low 
prices at which literary works are produced, must 
have great effects. Then there is the improved taste 
in art, which, together with literature, has been taken 
up by young men who, fifty, sixty, seventy years ago, 
or more, would have known no such sources of interest, 
or indeed who would have looked upon them as un 
manly and effeminate. When first these pursuits were 
taken up by our Scottish young men, they excited 
in the north much amazement, and, I fear, contempt, 
as was evinced by a laird of the old school, who, the 
first time he saw a young man at the pianoforte, 
asked, with evident disgust, "Can the creature sew 
ony 1 evidently putting the accomplishment of play 
ing the pianoforte and the accomplishment of the 
needle in the same category. 

The greater facility of producing books, prints, and 
other articles which tend to the comfort and embel 
lishment of domestic life, must have considerable 
influence upon the habits and tastes of a people. I 
have often thought how much effect might be traced 
to the single circumstance of the cheap production of 
pianofortes. An increased facility of procuring the 
means of acquaintance with good works of art and 
literature acts both as cause and effect. A growing 
and improved taste tends to stimulate the production 
of the best works of art. These, in return, foster 
and advance the power of forming a due estimate of 
art. In the higher department of music, for example, 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 341 

the cheap rate not only of hearing compositions of 
the first class, but of possessing the works of the 
most eminent composers, must have had influence 
upon thousands. The principal oratorios of Handel 
may be purchased for as many shillings each as they 
cost pounds years ago. Indeed, at that time the 
very names of those immortal works were known 
only to a few who were skilled to appreciate their 
high beauties. Now associations are formed for 
practising and studying the choral works of the great 
masters. 

We might indeed adduce many more causes which 
seem to produce changes of habits, tastes, and associa 
tions, amongst our people. For example, families do 
not vegetate for years in one retired spot as they used 
to do ; young men are encouraged to attain accomplish 
ments, and to have other sources of interest than the 
field or the bottle. Every one knows, or may know, 
everything that is going on through the whole world. 
There is a tendency in mankind to lose all that is pe 
culiar, and in nations to part with all that distinguishes 
them from each other. We hear of wonderful changes 
in habits and customs where change seemed impossible. 
In India and Turkey even, peculiarities and prejudices 
are fading away under the influence of time. Amongst 
ourselves, no doubt, one circumstance tended greatly 
to call forth, and, as we may say, to develop, the pecu 
liar Scotch humour of which we speak and that was 
the familiarity of intercourse which took place between 
persons in different positions of life. This extended 
even to an occasional interchange of words between 
the minister and the members of his flock during time 
of service. I have two anecdotes in illustration of this 
fact, which I have reason to believe are quite authentic. 
In the church of Banchory on Deeside, to which J 

2P 



REMINISCENCES OP 

have referred, a former minister always preached 
without book, and being of an absent disposition, 
he sometimes forgot the head of discourse on which 
he was engaged, and got involved in confusion. On 
one occasion, being desirous of recalling to his memory 
the division of his subject, he called out to one of his 
elders, a farmer on the estate of Ley, " Bush (the name 
of his farm), Bush, ye re sleeping." " Na, sir, I m no 
sleeping I m listening." " Weel, then, what had I 
begun to say?" * 0h, ye were saying so and so." 
This was enough, and supplied the minister with the 
thread of his discourse ; and he went on. The other 
anecdote related to the parish of Cumbernauld, the 
minister of which was at the time referred to noted 
for a very disjointed and rambling style of preaching, 
without method or connection. His principal heritor 
was the Lord Elphinstone of the time, and unfortu 
nately the minister and the peer were not on good 
terms, and always ready to annoy each other by sharp 
sayings or otherwise. The minister on one occasion 
had somewhat in this spirit called upon the beadle 
to " wauken my Lord Elphinstone," upon which Lord 
Elphinstone said, " I m no sleeping, minister." " In 
deed you were, my lord." He again disclaimed the 
sleeping. So as a test the preacher asked him, " What 
I had been saying last then?" "Oh, juist wauken 
Lord Elphinstone." " Ay, but what did I say before 
that]" " Indeed," retorted Lord Elphinstone, "Til 
gie ye a guinea if ye ll tell that yersell, minister." We 
can hardly imagine the possibility of such scenes now 
taking place amongst us in church. It seems as if all 
men were gradually approximating to a common type 
or form in their manners and views of life \ oddities 
are sunk, prominences are rounded off, sharp features 
are polished, and all things are becoming smooth and 



SCOTTISH LI*E A CHARACTER. 348 

conventional. The remark, like the effect, is general, 
and extends to other countries as well as to our own. 
But as we have more recently parted with our pecu 
liarities of dialect, oddity, and eccentricity, it becomes 
the more amusing to mark our participation in this 
change, because a period of fifty years shows here a 
greater contrast than the same period would show in 
many other localities. 

I have already referred to a custom which prevailed 
in all the rural parish churches, and which I remember 
in my early days at Fettercairn ; the custom I mean, 
now quite obsolete, of the minister, after pronouncing 
the blessing, turning to the heritors, who always occu 
pied the front seats of the gallery, and making low 
bows to each family. Another custom I recollect : 
When the text had been given out, it was usual for 
the elder branches of the congregation to hand about 
their Bibles amongst the younger members, marking 
the place, and calling their attention to the passage. 
During service another handing about was frequent 
among the seniors, and that was a circulation of the 
sneeshin-mull or snuff-box. Indeed, I have heard of 
the same practice in an Episcopal church, and particu 
larly in one case of an ordination, where the bishop 
took his pinch of snuff, and handed the mull to go 
round amongst the clergy assembled for the solemn 
occasion within the altar-rails. 

Amongst Scottish reminiscences which do not ex 
tend beyond our own recollections we may mention 
the disappearance of Trinity Church in Edinburgh, 
which has taken place within the last quarter of a 
century. It was founded by Mary of Gueldres, 
queen of James II. of Scotland, in 1446, and liberally 
endowed for a provost, prebendaries, choristers, etc. It 
was never completed, but the portions builtr- viz., 



344 REMINISCENCES OF 

choir, transept, and central tower were amongst the 
finest specimens of later Gothic work in Scotland. 
The pious founder had placed it at the east end of 
what was then the North Loch. She chose her own 
church for the resting-place of her remains as a sanc 
tuary of safety and repose. A railway parliamentary 
bill, however, overrides founder s intentions and Epis 
copal consecrations. Where once stood the beautiful 
church of the Holy Trinity, where once the "pealing 
organ" and the "full-voiced choir were daily heard 
"in service high and anthems clear" where for 400 
years slept the ashes of a Scottish Queen now re 
sound the noise and turmoil of a railway station. 

But we have another example of the uncertainty of 
all earthly concerns, and one which supplies a Scottish 
reminiscence belonging to the last seventy years. 
Wilhelmina, Viscountess Glenorchy, during her life 
time, built and endowed a church for two ministers, 
who were provided with very handsome incomes. 
She died 17th July 1786, and was buried on the 24th 
July, aged 44. Her interment took place, by her own 
direction, in the church she had founded, immediately 
in front of the pulpit ; and she fixed upon that spot 
as a place of security and safety, where her mortal 
remains might rest in peace till the morning of the 
resurrection. But alas for the uncertainty of all 
earthly plans and projects for the future ! the iron 
road came on its reckless course and swept the church 
away. The site was required for the North British 
Eailway, which passed directly over the spot where 
Lady Glenorchy had been buried. Her remains were 
accordingly disinterred 24th December 1844 ; and 
the trustees of the church, not having yet erected a 
new one, deposited the body of their foundress in the 
vaults beneath St. John s Episcopal Church, and after 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 345 

resting there for fifteen years, they were, in 1859, 
removed to the building which is now Lady Glen- 
orchy s Church. 

In our reminiscences of many changes which have 
taken place during fifty years in Scottish manners, it 
might form an interesting section to record some pecu 
liarities which remain. I mean such peculiarities as 
yet linger amongst us, and still mark a difference in 
some of our social habits from those of England. Some 
Scottish usages die hard, and are found still to supply 
amusement for southern visitors. To give a few ex 
amples, persons still persist among us in calling the 
head of a family, or the host, the landlord, although 
he never charged his guests a halfpenny for the hospi 
tality he exercises. In games, golf and curling still 
continue to mark the national character cricket was 
long an exotic amongst us. In many of our educa 
tional institutions, however, it seems now fairly to 
have taken root. We continue to call our reception 
rooms "public rooms," although never used for any but 
domestic purposes. Military rank is attached to ladies, 
as we speak of Mrs. Lieutenant Eraser, Mrs. Captain 
Scott, Mrs. Major Smith, Mrs. Colonel Campbell. On 
the occasion of a death, we persist in sending circular 
notices to all the relatives, whether they know of it 
or not a custom which, together with men wearing 
weepers at funeral solemnities, is unknown in Eng 
land.* Announcing a married lady s death under her 
maiden name must seem strange to English ears as, 
for example, we read of the demise of Mrs. Jane 
Dickson, spouse of Thomas Morison. Scottish cookery 
retains its ground, and hotch-potch, minced collops, 
sheep s head singed, and occasionally haggis, are still 

And yet, even as we write, weepers seem to be passing into 
reminiscence. 



346 REMINISCENCES OF 

marked peculiarities of the Scottish table. These 
social differences linger amongst us. But stronger 
points are worn away ; eccentricities and oddities 
such as existed once will not do now. One does not 
see why eccentricity should be more developed in one 
age than in another, but we cannot avoid the conclu 
sion that the day for real oddities is no more. Pro 
fessors of colleges are those in whom one least expects 
oddity grave and learned characters ; and yet such 
have been in former times. We can scarcely now 
imagine such professors as we read of in a past gene 
ration. Take the case of no less distinguished a 
person than Adam Smith, author of the Wealth of 
Nations, who went about the streets talking and 
laughing to himself in such a manner as to make the 
market women think he was deranged ; and he told 
of one himself who ejaculated, as he passed, " Hech, 
sirs, and he is weel pat on, too ! expressing surprise 
that a decided lunatic, who from his dress appeared 
to be a gentleman, should be permitted to walk abroad 
unattended. Professors still have their crotchets 
like other people ; but we can scarcely conceive a 
professor of our day coming out like Adam Smith, 
and making fishwives to pass such observations on 
his demeanour. 

Peculiarities in a people s phraseology may prove 
more than we are aware of, and may tend to illustrate 
circumstances of national history. Thus many words 
which would be included bv Englishmen under the 

J O 

general term of Scotticisms, bear directly upon the 
question of a past intercourse with France, and prove 
how close at one time must have been the influence 
exercised upon general habits in Scotland by that 
intercourse. Scoto-Gallic words were quite differently 
situated from French words and phrases adopted in 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 347 

England. With us they proceeded from a real 
admixture of the two peoples. With us they form 
the ordinary common language of the country, and 
that was from a distant period moulded by French. 
In England, the educated and upper classes of late 
years adopted French words and phrases. With us, 
some of our French derivatives are growing obsolete 
as vulgar, and nearly all are passing from fashionable 
society. In England, we find the French-adopted 
words rather receiving accessions than going out of 
use. 

Examples of words such as we have referred to, as 
showing a French influence and admixture, are familiar 
to many of my readers. I recollect some of them in 
constant use amongst old-fashioned Scottish people, 
and those terms, let it be remembered, are unknown 
in England. 

A leg of mutton was always, with old-fashioned 
Scotch people, a gigot (Fr. gigot). 

The crystal jug or decanter in which water is 
placed upon the table, was a caraff (Fr. carafe). 

Gooseberries were groserts, or grossarts (Fr. gro- 
seille). 

Partridges were pertricks, a word much more 
formed upon the French perdrix than the English 
partridge. 

The plate on which a joint or side-dish was placed 
upon the table was an ashet (Fr. assiette). 

In the old streets of Edinburgh, where the houses 
are very high, and where the inhabitants all live in 
flats, before the introduction of soil-pipes there was 
no method of disposing of the foul water of the 
household, except by throwing it out of the window 
into the street. This operation, dangerous to those 
outside, was limited to certain hours, and the well 



348 REMINISCENCES OF 

known cry, which preceded the missile and warned 
the passenger, was gardeloo ! or, as Smollett writes 
it, gardy loo (Fr. garge de 1 eau). 

Anything troublesome or irksome used to be called, 
Scottice, fashious (Fr. facheux, facheuse) ; to fash 
one s-self (Fr. se facher). 

The small cherry, both black and red, common in 
gardens, is in Scotland, never in England, termed 
gean (Fr. guigne), from Guigne, in Picardy. 

The term dambrod, which has already supplied 
materials for a good story, arises from adopting French 
terms into Scottish language, as dams were the pieces 
with which the game of draughts was played (Fr. 
dammes). Brod is board. 

A bedgown, or loose female upper garment, is still 
in many parts of Scotland termed a jupe (Fr. jupe). 

In Kincardineshire the ashes of a blacksmith s 
furnace had the peculiar name of smiddy-coom (Fr. 
e*cume, i.e. dross). 

Oil, in common Scotch, used always to be ule, 
as the uley pot, or uley cruse (Fr. huile). 

Many of my readers are no doubt familiar with 
the notice taken of these words by Lord Cockburn, 
and with the account which he gives of these Scottish 
words derived from the French, probably during the 
time of Queen Mary s minority, when French troops 
were quartered in Scotland. I subjoin a more full 
list, for which I am indebted to a correspondent, 
because the words still lingering amongst us are in 
themselves the best KEMINISCENCES of former days. 

Scotch. English. French, 

Serviter Napkin From Serviette. 

Gigot (of mutton) ... ,, Gigot. 

Reeforts Radishes ,, Raiforts. 

Grosserts Gooseberries ,, Groseilles. 

Gardy veen Case for holding wine Garde- 



THE READER 

From a -vater-colour drawing bv 
HENRY IV. KERR, 

.LR.S.A., R.S.U . 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 



349 



Scotch. 
Jupe 
Bonnaille 

Gysard 

Dambrod 

Pantufles 

Haggis 

Gou 

Hogue 

Grange 

Mouter 

Dour 

Douce 

Dorty 

Braw 

Kimmer 

Jalouse 

Vizzy 

Ruckle 

Gardy-loo 

Dementit 
On my verity 
By my certy 
Aumrie 



English. 

Part of a woman s dress 
A parting glass with a 
friend going on a journey 
Person in a fancy dress 
Draught-board 
Slippers 
Hashed meat 
Taste, smell 
Tainted 
Granary 

Miller s perquisite 
Obstinate 
Mild 
Sulky 
Fine 
Gossip 
Suspect 

To aim at, to examine 
Heap (of stones) 
(Notice well known in 

Edinburgh) 

Out of patience, deranged 
Assertion of truth 
Assertion of truth 
Cupboard 



Walise Portmanteau 

Sucker Sugar , , 

Edinburgh Street Cry : Neeps like sucker. 

neeps? (turnips). 

Petticoat-tails Cakes of triangular shapes ,, 

Ashet Meat-dish ,. 

Fashions Troublesome ,, 

Prush, Madame * Call to a cow to come for- , 

ward 



French. 
Jupe. 
Bon aller. 

Guise. 

Dammes. 

Pantoufles. 

Hachis. 

Gout 

Haut gout. 

Grange. 

Mouture. 

Dur. 

Doux. 

Duret^. 

Brave. 

Commere. 

Jalouser. 

Viser. 

Recueil. 

Gardez-l eau. 

Dementir. 
Verite. 
Certes. 
Almoire, in old 

French. 
Valise. 
Sucre. 
Whae ll buy 

Petits gatelles 
(gateaux). 

Assiette. 

Facheux. 

Approchez, 
Madame. 



* This expression was adopted apparently in ridicule of the 
French applying the word " Madame " to a cow. 



350 REMINISCENCES OF 

I dwell the more minutely on this question of 
Scottish words, from the conviction of their being so 
characteristic of Scottish humour, and being so dis 
tinctive a feature of the older Scottish race. Take 
away our Scottish phraseology, and we lose what is 
our specific distinction from England. In these 
expressions, too, there is often a tenderness and 
beauty as remarkable as the wit and humour. I 
have already spoken of the phrase " Auld-lang-syne," 
and of other expressions of sentiment, which may be 
compared in their Anglican and Scotch form. 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 



CONCLUSION. 

I AM very anxious to bear in mind throughout these 
Reminiscences, and to keep in view the same feeling for 
my readers viz. that such details regarding the 
changes which many living have themselves noticed 
as taking place in our customs and habits of society 
in Scotland, should always suggest the question to the 
thoughtful and serious mind, Are the changes which 
have been observed for good ? Is the world a better 
world than that which we can remember 1 On some 
important points changes have been noticed in the 
upper classes of Scottish society, which unquestionably 
are improvements. For example, the greater atten 
tion paid to observance of Sunday, and to attendance 
upon public worship. the partial disappearance of 
profane swearing and of excess in drinking. But 
then the painful questions arise, Are such beneficial 
changes general through the whole body of our 
countrymen 1 may not the vices and follies of one 
grade of society have found a refuge in those that are 
of a lower class 1 may not new faults have taken their 
place where older faults have been abandoned ] Of 
this we are quite sure no lover of his country can 
fail to entertain the anxious wish, that the change we 
noticed in regard to drinking and swearing were uni 
versal, and that we had some evidence of its being 
extended through all classes of society. We ought 
certainly to tee! grateful when we reflect that, in 



352 REMINISCENCES OF 

many instances which we have noticed, the ways and 
customs of society are much improved in common 
sense, in decency, in delicacy, and refinement. There 
are certain modes of life, certain expressions, eccen 
tricity of conduct, coarseness of speech, books, and 
plays, which were in vogue amongst us, even fifty or 
sixty years ago, which would not be tolerated in 
society at the present time. We cannot illustrate this 
in a more satisfactory manner than by reference to 
the acknowledgment of a very interesting and charm 
ing old lady, who died so lately as 1823. In 1821, 
Mrs. Keith of Ravelstone, grandaunt of Sir Walter 
Scott, thus writes in returning to him the work of a 
female novelist which she had borrowed from him out 
of curiosity, and to remind her of " auld lang syne : 
" Is it not a very odd thing that I, an old woman 
of eighty and upwards, sitting alone, feel myself 
ashamed to read a book which, sixty years ago, I 
have heard read aloud for the amusement of large 
circles, consisting of the first and most creditable 
society in London?" There can be no doubt that at 
the time referred to by Mrs. Keith, Tristram Shandy,* 
Tom Jones, Humphrey Clinker, etc., were on the 
drawing-room tables of ladies whose grandchildren or 
great-grandchildren never saw them, or would not 
acknowledge it if they had seen them. But authors 

* Sterne, in one of his letters, describes his reading Tristram 
Shandy to his wife and daughter his daughter copying from 
his dictation, and Mrs. Sterne sitting by and listening whilst 
she worked. In the life of Sterne, it is recorded that he used 
to carry about in his pocket a volume of this same work, and 
read it aloud when he went into company. Admirable reading 
for the church dignitary, the prebendary of York ! How well 
adapted to the hours of social intercourse with friends ! How 
fitted for domestic seclusion with his family J 



SCOTTISH LIFE A CHARACTER. 353 

not inferior to Sterne, Fielding, or Smollett, are now 
popular, who, with Charles Dickens, can describe 
scenes of human life with as much force and humour, 
and yet in whose pages nothing will be found which 
need offend the taste of the most refined, or shock 
the feelings of the most pure. This is a change where 
there is also great improvement. It indicates not 
merely a better moral perception in authors themselves, 
but it is itself a homage to the improved spirit of the 
age. We will hope that, with an improved exterior, 
there is improvement in society within. If the feelings 
shrink from what is coarse in expression, we may hope 
that vice has, in some sort, lost attraction. At any 
rate, from what we discern around us we hope favour 
ably for the general improvement of mankind, and of 
our own beloved country in particular. If Scotland, 
in parting with her rich and racy dialect, her odd and 
eccentric characters, is to lose something in quaint 
humour and good stories, we will hope she may grow 
and strengthen in better things good as those are 
which she loses. However this may be, I feel quite as 
sured that the examples which I have now given, of 
Scottish expressions, Scottish modes and habits of life, 
and Scottish anecdotes, which belong in a great measure 
to the past, and yet which are remembered as having a 
place in the present century, must carry conviction that 
great changes have taken place in the Scottish social 
circle. There were some things belonging to our 
country which we must all have desired should be 
changed. There were others which we could only see 
changed with regret and sorrow. The hardy and simple 
habits of Scotsmen of many past generations ; their in 
dustry, economy, and integrity, which made them take 
so high a place in the estimation and the confidence 
of the people amongst whom they dwelt in all countries 



S54 REMINISCENCES OF 

of the world ; the intelligence and superior education 
of her mechanics and her peasantry, combined with a 
strict moral and religious demeanour, fully justified 
the praise of Burns when he described the humble 
though sublime piety of the "Cottar s Saturday Night," 
and we can well appreciate the testimony which he 
bore to the hallowed power and sacred influences of 
the devotional exercises of his boyhood s home, when 
he penned the immortal words : 

" From scenes like these old Scotia s grandeur springs, 
That makes her loved at home, revered abroad." 

On comparing Scotland past with Scotland present, 
we cannot evade the question, Are " scenes like these" 
devotional domestic scenes like these become less 
frequent than they were *? Do they still hold their 
place by the cottar s fireside, or are they becoming only 
a reminiscence of what was once a national distinction 1 
Whatever be our religious opinions, or whatever be our 
views on questions of ecclesiastical polity and church 
order, no Scotsman who desires the happiness and 
honour of his country could avoid a deep regret at 
the very idea of Burns " Cottar s Saturday Night" 
having become a thing of the past ; and yet we must 
not shrink from inquiry into the true state of the case. 
I have asked the opinions of friends both of the Estab 
lished and the Free Church, who have met my in 
quiries in a fair and candid spirit, and, from the 
answers I have received, have come to something like 
the following conclusion : I believe such scenes as 
Burns " Cottar s Saturday Night " are still to be met 
with in all their freshness and all their fervour in the 
dwellings of a good religious peasantry ; but in some 
places the cottar population itself has undergone a 
great change. Two causes have combined to produce 



SCOTTISH LIFE i- CHARACTER. 355 

this effect : An extensive system of emigration ha* 
thinned the older families of the soil, whilst the prac 
tice of bringing in mere labourers has in many districts 
made the old family domestic firesides less numerous. 
Then, alas! alas! we fear cottar MORALITY has not 
been such as to keep up the practice. Reports made 
to both the General Assemblies of 1871 on this 
question were far from being satisfactory. Dr. Begg, 
too, in his striking and able pamphlet on the " Ecclesi 
astical and Social Evils of Scotland," refers to "symp 
toms of a nation s degeneracy which seem multiplying 
in Scotland ;" also to a " growing amount of heathen 
ism and drunkenness." 

With such representations before us regarding a 
decline of domestic morality, we cannot expect to see 
much increase of domestic piety. Burns, after he had 
become lowered in moral feelings by those licentious 
habits and scenes into which he unfortunately fell after 
he had left his father s house, was not hypocrite 
enough to profess the same love and interest for the 
scenes of his innocent and early days. The country 
clergy of Scotland have their many difficulties against 
which they are to contend ; and many obstacles which 
they have to meet. But let not the domestic piety 
of the lowest cottages of the land be lost sight of. 
The results of such worship are so blessed upon the 
inmates, that the practice should everywhere be urged 
upon their flocks by the clergy, and encouraged by all 
means in their power ; and in that view it would, I 
think, be desirable to circulate short forms of prayer 
for family use. Many such have lately been publish 
ed ; and, whatever difference of opinion may be enter 
tained as to the comparative merits of extempore or 
liturgical prayer for the public worship of the church, 
there can be no question that in many instances a 



556 REMINISCENCES OF 

form must be very useful, and often essential at the 
commencement, at least, of cottage worship. I have 
known cases where it has been declined on the plea 
of inability to conduct the service. 

There are numerous indications that, on the whole, 
a regard for religion and religious ordinances is not 
losing ground in Scotland. The great number of 
churches and of handsome churches that are spring 
ing up, indicate, by their attendance, how much hold 
the subject has upon the people. The ample funds 
raised for charitable and for missionary objects give 
good testimony in the cause ; and, in regard to the 
immediate question before us, one favourable result 
may be reported on this subject the practice and 
feelings of domestic piety and family worship have, 
at any rate, extended in Scotland in an upward direc 
tion of its social life. Beyond all doubt, we may say 
family worship is more frequent, as a general practice, 
in houses of the rich, and also in the houses of farmers 
and of superior operatives, than it was some years ago. 
The Montrose anecdote about family prayers, told at 
page 64, could hardly have place now, and indeed 
many persons could not understand the point. 

I hope I am not blinded to the defects of my own 
countrymen, nor am I determined to resist evidence 
of any deterioration which may be proved. But I 
feel confident that Scotland still stands pre-eminent 
amongst the nations for moral and religious qualities. 
The nucleus of her character will bear comparison 
with any. \Ve will cherish hope for the mental tone 
of our countrymen being still in the ascendant, and 
still imbued with those qualities that make a moral 
and religious people. We have reason to know that 
in many departments of business, Scottish intelligence, 
Scottish character, and Scottish services, are still de 
cidedly at a premium in the market* 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 357 

But now, before concluding, I am desirous of record 
ing some Reminiscences upon a phase of Scottish 
RELIGIOUS history which involves very important 
consequences, and which I would not attempt to 
discuss without serious consideration. Indeed I have 
sometimes shrunk from the discussion at all, as lead 
ing to questions of so delicate a nature, and as in 
volving matters on which there are so many differences 
of opinion. I refer to the state of our divisions and 
alienations of spirit on account of religion. 

The great Disruption, which nearly equally divided 
the National Church, and which took place in 1843, 
is now become a matter of reminiscence. Of those 
nearly connected with that movement, some were 
relatives of my own, and many were friends. Unlike 
similar religious revolutions, that which caused the 
Free Church of Scotland did not turn upon any 
difference of opinion on matters either of doctrine or 
of ecclesiastical polity. It arose entirely from differ 
ences regarding the relation subsisting between the 
Church and the State, by which the Church was 
established and endowed. The great evil of all such 
divisions, and the real cause for regret, lie in the 
injury they inflict on the cause of Christian unity and 
Christian love, and the separation they too often 
make between those who ought to be united in spirit, 
and who have hitherto been not unfrequently actually 
joined for years as companions and friends. The tone 
which is adopted by publications, which are the 
organs of various party opinions amongst us, show 
how keenly disputants, once excited, will deal with 
each other. The differences consequent upon the 
Disruption in the Scottish Church called forth great 
bitterness of spirit and much mutual recrimination at 
the time. But it seems to me that there are indica- 

2G 



358 REMINISCENCES OF 

tions of a better spirit, and that there is more tolerance 
and more forbearance on religions differences amongst 
Scottish people generally. I cannot help thinking, 
however, that at no period of our ecclesiastical annals 
was such language made use of, and even against 
those of the highest place and authority in the 
Church, as we have lately met with in the organs of 
the extreme Anglican Church party. It is much to 
be regretted that earnest and zealous men should 
have adopted such a style of discussing religious 
differences. I cannot help thinking it is injurious to 
Christian feelings of love and Christian kindness. It- 
is really sometimes quite appalling. From the same 
quarter I must expect myself severe handling for 
some of these pages, should they fall into their way. 
We cannot but lament, however, when we find such 
language used towards each other by those who are 
believers in a common Bible, and who are followers 
and disciples of the same lowly Saviour, and indeed 
frequently members of the same Church. Bigotry 
and intolerance are not confined to one side or another. 
They break out often where least expected. Differ 
ences, no doubt, will always exist on many contested 
subjects, but I would earnestly pray that all SUCH 
differences, amongst ourselves at least, as those which 
injure the forbearance and gentleness of the Christian 
character, should become "Scottish Reminiscences/ 
whether they are called forth by the opposition sub 
sisting between Presbyterianism and Episcopacy, or 
whether they arise amongst Presbyterians or amongst 
Episcopalians themselves. 

To my apprehension Scotland has recently seen a 
most painful indication of the absence of that charity 
which, according to St. Paul, should " never fail 
amongst a Christian people. The act of two English 



SCOTTISH LIFE <t- CHARACTER. 359 

Prelates officiating in one of the Established churches 
has called forth a storm of indignation as loud and 
vehement as if in a heathen land they had fallen down 
before the image of a heathen deity, and worshipped 
in a heathen temple. Then the explanation which 
has been given by apologists for these services is not 
the least remarkable feature of the transaction. These 
ministrations have been called "Mission Services," 
and, in so far as I enter into the meaning of the 
phrase, I would solemnly and seriously protest against 
its being made use of in such a case. "Mission 
service 1 can only be applied to the case of a mis 
sionary raising his voice " in partibus infidelium" or, 
to say the least of it, in a land where no Christian 
church was already planted. When I think of the 
piety, the Christian worth, and high character of so 
many friends in the Established and other Presbyterian 
churches in Scotland, I would again repeat my solemn 
protestation against such religious intolerance, and 
again declare my conviction, that Englishmen and 
Scotsmen, so far from looking out for points of 
difference and grounds for separation on account of 
the principles on which their Churches are established, 
should endeavour to make the bonds of religious 
union as close as possible. I can scarcely express the 
gratification I felt on learning from the Scotsman, 
November 20, that such were the sentiments called 
forth by this event in the mind of one of the ablest and 
most distinguished Prelates of our day. In reference 
to the Glengarry services, the Bishop of St. Andrews 
(Wordsworth) has declared his opinion, that the 
subsequent explanations of those services seemed 
to mar the good work by introducing -questions of 
etiquette, where nothing should have been thought 
of but the simple performance of Christian duty 



360 REUINISGENCES OF 

by Christian ministers for the benefit of Christian 
people." * 

Such is the judgment expressed by the honoured 
and learned Bishop of St. Andrews, whose noble and 
patriotic exertions to draw the Episcopalians and the 
Presbyterians of Scotland closer together in bonds of 
religious feelings and religious worship have been 
spoken of in such terms, and such words have been 
applied to his labours in that cause, and to the ad 
ministration generally of his own diocese, by one of 
the very high English Church papers, as have been to 
me a cause of deep sorrow and poignant regret. 

As a Scotsman by descent from Presbyterians of 
high moral and religious character, and as an Episco 
palian by conscientious preference, I would fain see 
more of harmony and of confidence between all 
Scotsmen, not only as fellow-countrymen, but as 
fellow-Christians. When I first joined the Episcopal 
Church the Edinburgh Episcopal clergy were on most 
friendly terms with the leading clergy of the Estab 
lished Church. Every consideration was shown to 
them by such men as Bishop Sandford, Dr. Morehead, 
Rev. Archibald Alison, Rev. Mr. Shannon, and others. 
There was always service in the Episcopal chapels on 
the National Church communion fast-days. No oppo 
sition or dislike to Episcopalian clergymen occupying 
Presbyterian pulpits was ever avowed as a great prin 
ciple. Charles Simeon of Cambridge, and others of 
the Churches of England and Ireland, frequently so 
officiated, and it was considered as natural and suit 
able. The learning and high qualities of the Church 
of England s hierarchy, were, with few exceptions, 
held in profound respect. Indeed, during the last 
hundred years, and since the days when Episcopacy 
* Scottish Guardian, vol. ii. No. ix. p. 305. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 361 

was attacked under the term of " black prelacy," I can 
truly say, the Episcopal order has received far more 
severe handling in Episcopal England than it has 
received in Presbyterian Scotland. I must think, 
that in the case of two churches where the grounds of 
resemblance are on points of spiritual importance affect 
ing great truths and doctrines of salvation, and where 
the points of difference affect questions more of govern 
ment and external order than of salvation, there 
ought to be on both parts the desire at least to draw 
as closely as they can the bonds of Christian charity 
and mutual confidence. 

I believe it to be very painful to Scotsmen gener 
ally, whether of the Established or the Episcopal 
Church, that the Presbyterian Church of Scotland 
should be spoken of in such terms as have lately been 
made use of. Scotsmen feel towards it as to the 
Church of the country established. by law, just as the 
Anglican Church is established in England. They 
feel towards it as the Church whose ministrations are 
attended by our gracious Sovereign when she resides 
in the northern portion of her dominions, and in 
which public thanksgiving was offered to God in the 
royal presence for her Majesty s recovery. But more 
important still, they feel towards it as a church of 
which the members are behind no other communion 
in the tone and standard of their moral principle and 
integrity of conduct. They feel towards it as a 
church which has nobly retained her adherence to the 
principles of the Keformation, and which has been 
spared the humiliation of exhibiting any of her clergy 
nominally members of a reformed church, and, at the 
same time, virtually and at heart adherents to the 
opinions and practices of the Church of Borne. 
English people, in speaking of the Established Church 



362 REMINISCENCES OF 

of Scotland, seem to forget how much Episcopalians 
are mixed up with their Presbyterian fellow-country 
men in promoting common charitable and religious 
objects. For example, take my own experience : the 
administration of a very valuable charitable institution 
called the Paterson and Pape Fund, is vested jointly 
in the incumbent of St. John s, Edinburgh (Episco 
palian), and the two clergymen of St. Cuthbert s 
(Established) Church. Even in matters affecting the 
interests of our own Church we may find ourselves 
closely connected. Take the administration of the 
late Miss Walker s will, and the carrying out her 
munificent bequest to our Church, of which I am a 
trustee. Of the nine trustees, two are Episcopalians 
residing in Scotland, one an Episcopalian residing in 
England,*and six are Presbyterians residing in Scot 
land. The primary object of Miss Walker s settlement 
is to build and endow, for divine service, a cathedral 
church in Edinburgh ; the edifice to cost not less than 
40,000. The income arising from the remainder of 
her property to be expended for the benefit of the 
Scottish Episcopal Church generally. A meeting of 
trustees was held, November 25, 1871, and one of 
the first steps unanimously agreed upon was to appoint 
the Bishop-Coadjutor of Edinburgh, who is a trustee, 
to be chairman of the meeting. There is no doubt or 
question of mutual good feeling in the work, and that 
our Church feels full and entire confidence in the fair, 
honourable, candid, and courteous conduct of the trus 
tees to whom in this case will be committed weighty 
matters connected with her interests. 

At one of the congresses of the English Church it 
has been said, and well said, by Mr. B. Hope, that he 
and his friends of the High Church party would join 
as closely as they could with the members of the 



SCOTTISH LIFE 6 CHARACTER. 363 

Romish Church who have taken common cause with 
Dr. Dollinger, "looking more to points where they 
agree, and not to points where they differ." Why 
should not the same rule be adopted towards brethren 
who differ from ourselves so little on points that are 
vital and eternal 1 The principle which I would apply 
to the circumstances, I think, may be thus stated : I 
would join with fellow-Christians in any good works 
or offices, either of charity or religion, where I could 
do so without compromise of my own principles. On 
such ground I do not see why we should not realise 
the idea already suggested, viz. that of having an 
interchange between our pulpits and the pulpits of the 
Established and other Presbyterian or Independent 
Churches. Such ministerial interchange need not 
affect the question of orders, nor need it, in fact, touch 
many other questions on which differences are con 
cerned. 

Of course this should be arranged under due regu 
lation, and with full precaution taken that the ques 
tions discussed shall be confined to points where there 
is agreement, and that points of difference should be 
left quite in abeyance. Why should we, under proper 
arrangements, fail to realise so graceful an exercise of 
Christian charity? Why should we lose the many 
benefits favourable to the advancement of Christian 
unity amongst us ? An opportunity for practically 
putting this idea into a tangible form has occurred 
from the circumstance of the new chapel in the Uni 
versity of Glasgow being opened for service, to be 
conducted by clergymen of various churches. I gladly 
avail myself of the opportunity of testifying my grate 
ful acknowledgments for the courteous and generous 
conduct of Dr. Caird, in his efforts to put forward 
members of our Church to conduct the services of the 



364 REMINISCENCES OF 

College chapel, and also of expressing my admiration 
of the power and beauty of his remarks on Christian 
unity and on brotherly love.* 

This is with me no new idea ; no crude experiment 
proposed for the occasion. I have before me a paper 
which I wrote some years since, and which I had put 
into the shape of " An Address to the Bishops," to 
sanction such exchange of pulpits, hoping to get some 
of my clerical brethren to join in the object of the 
address. I feel assured much good would, under God, 
be the result of such spiritual union. If congrega 
tions would only unite in exchange of such friendly 
offices of religious instruction with each other, how 
often would persons, now strangers, become better 
acquainted ! I wish the experiment could be tried, 
were it only to show how prejudices would be re 
moved ; how misunderstandings would be cleared 
away; how many better and kinder feelings would 
grow out of the closer union on religious questions ! 
Nay, I would go farther, and express my full convic 
tion, that my own Church would gain rather ttan lose 
in her interests under such a system. Men would be 
more disposed to listen with attention, and examine 
with candour the arguments we make use of in favour 
of our Church views. We should gain more of the 
sympathy of our countrymen who differ from us, by a 
calm expostulation than by bitter invective. Beauti 
fully and wisely was it written by a sacred pen nearly 
three thousand years ago, "A soft answer turneth 
away wrath." 

I have such confidence in the excellence of my own 

* "What is Religion ?" a sermon by Rev. John Caird, D.D., 
Professor of Divinity in the University of Glasgow, and one of 
Her Majesty s Chaplains for Scotland. See especially concluding 
remarks. 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 365 

Church, that I believe to bring persons into closer 
and kinder connection with our system would be the 
more likely way to gain their approval and their 
favourable judgment. In nothing do we lose more of 
the confidence and estimation of our fellow-country 
men than in the feeling of our being intolerant and 
exclusive in our religious opinions. It is curious 
people should not see that the arguments addressed 
in a friendly spirit must tell more powerfully than the 
arguments of one who shows his hostile feeling. 

With these feelings on the subject, it may be easily 
understood with what pleasure I read, in the Edin 
burgh Courant of November 10th, a report of what 
our Primus (Bishop Eden) said, at the entertainment 
which was given on the occasion of the consecration 
of St. Mary s Church, Glasgow. In speaking on the 
question of Union, the Primus said 

" I think I may speak for my Episcopal brethren, when 
I say that if the heads, especially of the Established 
Church of Scotland for that is the body that has most 
power and influence if a proposal were made by the 
leading men in that Church, in concurrence with those 
who hold views similar to themselves a conference of the 
representative men of the different Churches to consider 
in a Christian spirit what our differences are, and what are 
the points on which we are agreed, we would be most 
happy to take part in it. Such a conference might, in the 
providence of God, lead to our being drawn nearer to each 
other. I believe that then the prayer which the Bishop 
of St. Andrews offered up would be the earlier accom 
plished, namely, that the Episcopal Churches might be 
come Reformed, and the Reformed Churches become Epis 
copal. If any proposal of this kind could be made, I 
believe we would be most ready to accept any invitation 
to consider whether the various Churches might not be 
drawn nearer to each other." (Great applause. 



366: REMINISCENCES OF 

The Coadjutor Bishop of Edinburgh in his address, 
after briefly referring to some proposals that had been 
made for union among the churches in South Africa, 
went on to say 

" I do say, as one of the Bishops of the Scottish Epis 
copal Church now, and in reference to what fell from the 
Primus, that I most heartily concur in what he said, and I 
cannot but feel that, without the slightest breach of the 
great fundamental principles of the Church of Christ, there 
are many points on which we may be at one with Chris 
tians who are not part of our organic body. 

" I believe the proposal made by the Primus would 
have the effect of drawing them nearer to us, and be a step 
forward to that consummation which we all desire, and 
which our blessed Lord prayed with his last breath That 
we may all be one. (Great applause.) 

That two honoured Fathers of our Church, our 
Primus and my own Bishop, should have made use of 
such terms, and that their views should have been 
received by such an audience with so much applause, 
T could have offered a grateful acknowledgment upon 
my knees. 

But after all, perhaps, it may be said this is an 
Utopian idea, which, in the present state of religious 
feelings and ecclesiastical differences, never can be 
realised. It were a sufficient answer to the charge of 
utopianism brought against such a proposal, to plead 
that it was no more than what was sanctioned by the 
teaching of God s word. In this case it does not 
seem to go beyond the requirements of holy Scripture 
as set forth in St. Paul s description of charity, and in 
other passages which clearly enjoin Christians to act 
towards each other in love, and to cultivate, so far as 
they can, a spirit of mutual forbearance and of joint 
action in the sacred cause of preaching the truth as it 
is in Jesus. I cannot believe that, were St. Paul on 



SCOTTISH LIFE <fc CHAR ACT EP. 367 

earth, he would sanction the present state of jealous 
separation amongst Christians. Take such separation 
in connection with the beautiful sentiment, which we 
read in Phil. i. 1 8 : " What then ? notwithstanding 
every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is 
preached ; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will 
rejoice." 

The determination to exclude preaching that is not 
strictly according to our own forms seems to me quite 
inconsistent with the general teaching of Scripture, 
more particularly with this apostolic declaration. But 
I would bring this question to a practical issue, and 
we shall find enough in our own experience to con 
firm the view I have taken, and to sanction the 
arrangement I propose. To bring forward co-opera 
tion in the great and vitally important work of 
preaching God s word, which has been already effected 
between persons holding on some points opinions 
different from each other, take first the case of re 
vision of the English translation of the Old and New 
Testament Scriptures, as it has been resolved upon 
by the authorities of the great Anglican Communion. 
They have had no difficulty in finding Nonconformist 
scholars and divines whose fitness to be associated 
with Anglican Churchmen in the great work of ar 
ranging and correcting an authorised version has 
been admitted by all. Thus we have Nonconformists 
and English and Scottish Episcopalians united in 
adjusting the terms of the sacred text ; the text 
from which all preaching in the English tongue shall 
in future derive its authority, and by which all its 
teaching shall in future be guided and directed. 
There is already, however, a closer and a more 
practical blending of minds on great religious ques 
tions much differing from each other on lesser points. 



363 REMINISCENCES OF 

In the field of religious and devotional literature, 
many of our church differences are lost sight of. 
Episcopalian congregations are constantly in the habit 
of joining with much cordiality and earnestness in 
singing hymns composed by authors nonconformists 
with our Church in fact, of adopting them into 
their church service. These compositions form a 
portion of their worship, and are employed to illus 
trate and enforce their own most earnest doctrinal 
views and opinions themselves. How entirely are 
such compositions as the sacramental hymn, "My 
God, and is thy table spread," by Doddridge; the 
hymn, " When I behold the wondrous cross," by 
Isaac Watts, associated with our Church services! 
Nor are such feelings of adoption confined to poetical 
compositions. How many prose productions by non- 
Episcopalian authors might be introduced for the 
delight and benefit of Christian congregations ! How 
eagerly many such compositions are read by members 
of our Church ! With what delight would many dis 
courses of this class have been listened to had they 
been delivered to Episcopalian congregations ! Where 
such hymns and such discourses are admissible, the 
authws of them might take a part in conducting 
psalmody and in occupying the pulpit for preaching 
to a congregation. If the spirits of such writers as 
Doddridge, Watts, and Hall, have been felt to per 
meate and to influence the hearts of others who have 
heard or read their words of holiness and peace, we 
may well suppose that God would sanction their 
making like impressions, in his own house, upon the 
hearts of those whom they meet there face to face. 
Might they not communicate personally what they 
communicate through the press 1 For example, why 
should not Eobert Hall have preached his sermons 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 369 

on Infidelity and on the Death of the Princess of 
Wales, perhaps the two most magnificent discourses 
in the language, in an English Cathedral? Why 
should not the beautiful astronomical discourses of 
Thomas Chalmers have been delivered in St. Paul s 
or in St. John s, Edinburgh? For many years, in 
want of better materials, the sermons of Dr. Blair 
were more used in the Church of England, and more 
read in private, than any similar compositions. It 
has been for years a growing persuasion in my own 
mind that principles of Christian love and mutual 
harmony are too often sacrificed to the desire of pre 
serving the exact and formal marks of church order, 
as the Bishop of St. Andrews so happily expressed it 
to preserve etiquette. Surely the great law of Christian 
love would suggest and enforce a union at least of 
spirit amongst Christian believers, who cannot join 
in the unity of the same organisation. Inability to 
join in the same form of church polity and church 
order need not shut the door to religious sympathies 
and religious communion, where there are so many 
points of agreement and of mutual interest. The ex 
perience of the past will tend to produce the convic 
tion that there has too often been in our religious 
disputes a strong tendency in all Christian denomina 
tions to make the great principle of love, which is a 
principle to rule in Heaven and for eternity, actually 
subservient and subordinate to a system of ecclesi 
astical order, which, important as it is for its own 
purposes and objects, never can be more than a guide 
to the ministration of the Church on earth, and an 
organisation which must be in its nature confined to 
time. 

Wherever or whenever this feeling may be called 
forth, it is a grievous error it is a very serious sub- 



370 REMINISCENCES OF 

ject for our reflection, how far such want of sympathy 
and of union with those who do not belong imme 
diately to our own church, must generate a feeling 
hostile to a due reception of an important article of 
our faith, termed in the Apostles Creed the COM 
MUNION OF SAINTS. According to the description 
given by the judicious and learned Bishop Pearson, 
this communion or spiritual union belongs to all who 
are in New Testament language denominated SAINTS ; 
by which he means all who, having been baptized in 
the faith, have this name by being called and baptized. 
Then he states all Christian believers to have com 
munion and fellowship with these, whether living or 
dead. We should feel towards such persons (evidently, 
as the good Bishop implies, without reference to any 
particular church order) all sympathy and kindness as 
members of the same great spiritual family on earth, 
expectants of meeting in heaven in the presence of 
God and of the Lamb, and of joining in the worship 
of saints and angels round the throne. I have no 
hesitation in declaring my full conviction that such 
expectations of future communion should supply a 
very powerful and sacred motive for our cultivating 
all spiritual union in our power with all fellow- 
Christians, all for whom Christ died. It becomes a 
very serious subject for examination of our own 
hearts, how, by refusing any spiritual intercourse 
with Christians who are not strictly members of our 
own Church, we may contravene this noble doctrine 
of the Communion of Saints ; for does not the bitter 
ness with which sometimes we find all union with 
certain fellow-Christians in the Church on earth chill 
or check the feeling of a desire for union with the 
same in the Church above ? Nay, is there not matter 
Tor men s earnest thought, how far the violent aid- 



SCOTTISH LIFE <k CHARACTER. 371 

mosity displayed against the smallest approach to 
anything like spiritual communion with all Christians 
of a different Church from their own may chill the 
DESIRE itself for " meeting in the Church above ? 
Can hatred to meeting on earth be in any sense a 
right preliminary or preparation for desire to meet in 
Heaven 1 Nay, more, should we not carefully guard 
lest the bitter displays we see of religious hostility 
may even tend to bring men s minds towards a disin 
clination to meet in Heaven, of which the most terrible 
condition was thus expressed by Southey : " Earth 
could not hold us both, nor can one heaven." 

One mark of any particular Church being a portion 
of Christ s Church on earth seems to be overlooked 
by some of our English friends, and that is a mark 
pointed out by our Lord himself, when he said, " By 
their FRUITS ye shall know them." By this announce 
ment I would understand that besides and beyond a 
profession of the great articles of the Christian faith, 
I would, as a further criterion of a Christian church, 
inquire if there were many of its members who have 
been distinguished for their Christian piety, Christian 
learning, and Christian benevolence. Is all external 
communion to be interdicted with a church which has 
produced such men as we might name amongst the 
children of our Established and other Churches in 
Scotland *? Look back upon half-a-century, and ask 
if a similar act with that of the Archbishop of York 
and Bishop of Winchester would then have created a 
like feeling. I can remember well the interest and 
admiration called forth by the eloquence, the philan 
thropy, and the moral fervour of Dr. Chalmers, 
amongst the High Church school of the day too 
the good Archbiship Howley, Bishop Blomfield, Rev 
* See Southey s Roderick, book 



372 REMINISCENCES OF 

Mr. Norris of Hackney, Mr. Joshua Watson, etc. I 
remember, too, the perfect ovation he received in the 
attendance of Archbishops, Bishops, Clergy, Peers, 
Princes, etc., of the great London world, at his lectures 
on Establishments. We can hardly imagine any one 
saying then, " This is all very well, but the Church 
that produced this man is no part of the true Church 
of Christ, and no English prelate or clergyman could 
possibly take service in it." 

No one, I believe, who is acquainted with my own 
views and opinions on religious subjects would say 
that I look with indifference on those points wherein 
we differ from the great body of our fellow-country 
men. I am confident that I should not gain in the 
estimation of Presbyterians themselves by showing a 
cold indifference, or a lukewarm attachment, to the 
principles and practice of my own Church. They 
would see that my own convictions in favour of Epis 
copal government in the Church, and of liturgical 
services in her worship, were quite compatible with 
the fullest exercise of candour and forbearance to 
wards the opinions of others I mean on questions 
not essential to salvation. 

I believe that there are persons amongst us coming 
round to this opinion, and who are ready to believe 
that it is quite possible for Christians to exercise very 
friendly mutual relations in spiritual matters which 
constitute the essential articles of a common faith, 
whilst they are in practice separated on points of 
ecclesiastical order and of church government. I am 
old, and shall not see it ; but I venture to hope that, 
under the Divine blessing, the day will come when 
to Scotsmen it will be a matter of reminiscence 
that Episcopalians, or that Presbyterians of any de 
nomination, should set the interests of their own 



SCOTTISH LIFE & CHARACTER. 373 

communion above the exercise of that charity that 
for a brother s faith " hopeth all things and believeth 
all things." Zeal in promoting our own Church 
views, and a determination to advance her interests 
and efficiency, need be no impediment to cultivating 
the most friendly feelings towards those who agree 
with us in matters which are essential to salvation 
and who, in their differences from us, are, I am bound 
to believe, as conscientious as myself. Such days will 
come. 

But now, to close my remarks on national peculi 
arities, with what I may term a practical and personal 
application. We have in our later pages adopted a 
more solemn and serious view of past reminiscences as 
they bear upon questions connected with a profession 
of religion. It is quite suitable then to recall the 
fact which applies individually to all our readers. We 
shall ourselves each of us one day become subject to 
a " reminiscence " of others. Indeed, the whole ques 
tion at issue throughout the work takes for granted 
what we must all have observed to be a very favourite 
object with survivors viz. that the characters of 
various persons, as they pass away, will be always 
spoken of, and freely discussed, by those who survive 
them. We recall the eccentric, and we are amused 
with a remembrance of their eccentricities. We ad 
mire the wise and dignified of the past. There are 
some who are recollected only to be detested for their 
vices some to be pitied for their weaknesses and 
follies some to be scorned for mean and selfish 
conduct. But there are others whose memory is 
embalmed in tears of grateful recollection. There are 
those whose generosity and whose kindness, whose 
winning sympathy and noble disinterested virtues are 
never thought upon or ever spoken of without calling 

9 TT 

4 



374 REMINISCENCES. 

forth a blessing. Might it not, therefore, be goo*! 
for us often to ask ourselves how we are likely to be 
spoken of when the grave has closed upon the inter 
course between us and the friends whom we leave 
behind 1 The thought might, at any rate, be useful 
as an additional motive for kind and generous con 
duct to each other. And then the inquiry would 
come home to each one in some such form as this 
;c Within the circle of my family and friends within 
the hearts of those who have known me, and were 
connected with me in various social relations what 
will be the estimate formed of me when I am gone ? 
What will be the spontaneous impression produced 
by looking back on bygone intercourses in life 1 Will 
past thought of me furnish the memory of those who 
survive me with recollections that will be fond and 
pleasing 1 In one word, let each one ask himself (I 
speak to countrymen and countrywomen), " Will my 
name be associated with gentle and happy REMINI 
SCENCES OF SCOTTISH LIFE AND CHARACTER 1 " 



INDEX. 



AAPLE, bottle of beer strong o , 251. i 
Abercairney, Laird of, prevented 

from going out in 15, 329. 
Aberdeen dialect, perfect specimens 

of, 212, 215. 

Aberdeen elders, opinion of, 26. 
Aberdeen provost, wife of, at the 

opera, 214. 

Aberdeen, two ladies of, mutual re 
crimination, 214. 

A bonnie bride s sune buskit, 228. 
Accommodation, grand, for snuff, 26. 
Acts o Parliament lose their breath 

before they get toAberdeenshire, 26 
Adam, Dr. , Latin translation of Scot 
tish expressions, 174. 
Advice to a minister in talking to a 

ploughman, 269. 
A gravesteen wad gie guid bree gin 

ye gied it plenty o butter, 269. 
A hantle o raiscellawneous eating 

about a pig, 96. 
Airth, housekeeper at, on king of 

France, ?,. 

Alexander, Dr. W. Lindsay, 138. 
And what the devil is it to you 

whether I have a liver or not? 16. 
Anecdotes of quaint Scottish charac 
ter, 317. 
Angel- worship is not allowed in the 

Church of Scotland, 87. 
Angler and the horse-fly, LI29. 
Anither gude Sunday": I dinna ken j 

whan I ll get thae drawers redd up, 

74. 

Anither het day, Cornal, 180. 
An inch at the tap is worth twa at 

the boddam, 121. 
An I hadna been an idiot I nucht 

hae been sleepin too, 284. 
Annals of the parish, extracts from, 

55, 245. 
Answer to strauger asking the way. 

247. 



Answers, dry, specimens of, 247. 

A peer o anither tree, 147. 

Appetite, farmer s reason for minis 
ter s good appetite, 265. 

Asher, minister of Inveraven,anecdot 
of, 282. 

Athole, Duke of, and Cultoquhey, 24. 

Athole, Duke of, answer of his cottar, 
262. 

Auction, anecdote of spoon missing, 
190. 

Auld lang syne, beauty of the expres 
sion, 174. 

Auld, Rev. Dr., of Ayr, and Rab 
Hamilton, 283. 

Authors, older ones indecent, 352. 

Ay, ir ye a up an awa ? 69. 

Ay, she may prosper, for she has 
baith the prayers of the good and 
of the bad, 170. 



BABY, a laddie or a lassie, 1S6. 
Baird, Mrs., of Xewbyth, remark of, 

as to her son in India, 186. 
Balnamoon, laird of, carriage to Ttaud 

in, 256. 
Balnamoon, laird of, great drinker, 

255. 

Balnamoon, laird of, joke with his ser 
vant, 275. 
Balnamuon, laird of, refuses his wig, 

255. 
Balnamuon, praying and drinking at, 

256. 
Banes, distinction of, by a beggar 

262. 

Banes, Frasers weel-baned, 310. 
Bannockburn, guide to, refusing an 

Englishman s five shillings, 278. 
Bannockburn, Scottish remark upon, 

277. 
Baptism, minister and member of bis 

Hock. 81. 



INDEX. 



Barclay of Ury, M.P., walk to London, 

153. * 

Bath gate, mending the ways of. 801. 
Beadle, equivocal compliment to min 
ister s sermons, 335. 
Beadle or Betheral, character of, 303. 
Beast, a stumbling, at least honest, 

272. 
Becky and I had a rippit, for which 

I desire to be humble, 312. 
Begg, Dr., on Scottish morality of the 

present day, 355. 
Beggar, expressing his thanks to a 

clerical patron, 337. 
Bellman of Craigie, notice from, 296. 
Bestial, curious use of word, 202. 
Betheral, a conceited one, 304. 
Betheral criticising a clergyman, 306. 
Betheral, criticism on a text, 306. 
Betheral, evidence of, regarding drink 
ing, 106. 
Betheral, making love professionally, 

305. 
Betheral, on a dog that was noisy, 

308. 

Betheral, on the town bailies, 307. 
Betheral, Scottish, answer to minister 

on being drunk, 296. 
Betheral stories, 302. 
Betheral taking a dog out of church, 

308. 

Betheral s answer to minister, 303. 
Betherals, conversation of two, re 
garding their ministers, 304. 
Blair, Eev. Dr. Hugh, and his beadle, 

305. 
Blessing by Scottish Bishops, form of, 

become a reminiscence, 66. 
Blethering, 39. 

Boatie, character on Deeside, 130, 131. 
Boatie of Deeside, and Providence, 21. 
Books, older ones indecent, 352. 
Border, selvidge, weakest bit of the 

wab, 270. 

Bowing to heritors, 86. 
Boy, anecdote of, 252. 
Braxfield, Lord, a man of wit, 156. 
Braxfield, Lord, character of, as a 

judge, 154. 
Braxfield, Lord, conducting the trial 

of Muir, Palmer, and Skirving, etc., 

155. 
Braxfield, Lord, delighted with reply 

of Scotch minister, 156. 
Bvaxfield, Lord, spoke the broadest 

Scotch, 155. 
brings, the sergeant, dry description 

of, by Scottish nobleman, 292. 
Brougham, Lord, on Scottish dialect, 

17$, 



Brown, Rev. John, and the auld wifie, 

69. 

Brown, Rev. John of Whitbum, an 
swer to rude youth, 300. 
Bruce, Mr., of Kinnaird, and Louis 

XVI. of France, 3. 
Buccleuch, Duchess of, asking farmer 

to take cabbage, 250. 
Bull, specimen of Scottish confusion 

of ideas, 176. 
Bulls of Bashan applied by a lady 

to herself, 33. 

Burnett, Dr. Gilbert, Bishop of Salis 
bury, 9. 
Burnett, Sir Thomas, of Leys, and his 

tenant Drummy, 3. 
Burnett, Lady, of Leys, 171. 
Burns, a son of, and Charles Lamb, 

244. 

Burns conducted family worship, 48. 
Burying-place, choice of, 77. 
Bush, conversation with minister in 

church, 342. 

Butler and Kincardineshire laird, 321. 
But rny rninnie dang, she did though, 

264. 
But oh, I m sair haddeu doun wi 

the bubbly jock/ 284. 
But the bodies brew the braw drink, 

264. 

CAMPBELL of Combie and Miss 

M Nabb, anecdote of, 249. 
Campbell, Rev. Duncan, on Highland 

honours, 116. 
Camstraddale, the Dumbartonshire 

laird, 121. 

Canny, illustration of one of its mean 
ings, 335. 
Canterbury, Archbishop of, and the 

Dollar man, 216. 
Carlyle, Dr., account of minister *! 

drinking in last century, 122. 
Carlyle, Dr., prosecuted by Genera] 

Assembly for attending theatre, 92. 
Carnegie, Miss Helen, of Craigo, 

anecdotes of, 191, 196. 
Carnegie, Miss, of Craigo, and James 

III. and VIII. , 100. 
Carrier, a country, description of his 

journeys, 200. 
Catastrophe, whimsical application of 

the word, 325. 
Cauld kail het again, 82. 
4 Ceevil, in courtship, may be carried 

too far, 191. 
Cemeteries, treatment of, much 

changed, 67, 68. 
Chalmers, Dr., poor womau a reason 

for hearing. 97 



INDEX. 



377 



Chambers, Robert, Domestic Annals of 

Scotland, 10. 
Change of national language involves 

change of national character, 177. 
Chancres, are they for the good of the 

whole community ? 351. 
Changes, example of, in an old Laird 

seeing a man at the pianoforte, 340. 
Changes fast going on around us, 137, 

184, 339. 
Changes in Scottish manners and 

dialect, 1S4. 

Changes, interesting to mark, 11. 
Changes taking place, here noticed, 

14. 

Changes taking place in religious feel 
ing, 58. 
Changes, various causes for, 14, 

339-341. 
Chaplain of a jail, humorous reasons 

for his appointment, 266. 
Children, curious answers of, 34. 
Children, very poor, examples of 

acuteness, 252. 
Children s diseases, 206. 
Church discipline in the Presbytery 

of Lanark, 79. 
Churches, a coachman s reason for 

their increase, 62. 
Churches, architect s idea of difference 

between two, 62. 
Churches, handsome structure of, 

more common, 61. 

Church discipline, old fashioned, 79. 
Church-going of late neglected in 

towns, 97. 
Church-going, Scotchmen not famous 

for, fifty years ago, 57. 
Churchyard, drunken weaver in, 68. 
Circuit, a drunken one, 107. 
Circuit, one described by Lord Cock- 

bnrn, 107. 
Clergy, Gaelic, not judged severely on 

account of drinking, 109. 
Clergyman footsore in grouse - shoot 
ing, 322. 
Clergyman publicly rebuking his wife, 

80. 
Clerk, John, address to presiding 

judge, 148. 

Clerk, John, answer to Lord Chan 
cellor, 147. 
Clerk, John, apology for friend in 

Court of Session, 148. 
Cockburn, Lord, and the Bonaly shep 
herd, 71. 
Cockburn, Lord, on Scottish changes, 

185. 
Oockburn s Memorials, extracts from, 

185 



Collie dogs, sagacity of, 88. 

Come awa, Jeanie ; here s a man 

swearin awfully, 35. 
Come awa, granny, and gang hame ; 

this is a lang grace and nae meat/ 

253. 
Come oot and see a new star that 

hasna got its tail cuttit aff yet, 246. 
Confession of faith, 96. 
Confirmation, anecdotes concerning. 

20, 32. 
Constable, Thomas, anecdote of spare 

lady, 23. 
Conviviality, old Scottish, and forced, 

101. 
Conviviality. Scotch, complaint of, by 

a London merchant, 102. 
Corb, and Sir George Ramsay, 259. 
Corehouse, Lord, prediction of not 

rising at the bar, by a Selkirk writer, 

106. 

Corp s brither at a funeral, 274. 
Cottar s Saturday night, fine picture, 

354. 
Country minister and his wife, large 

bed, 197. 
Craigie, Rev. Mr., and Jamie Flee- 

man, 288. 
Craigmyle, Laird of, and Duchess of 

Gordon, 258. 
Cranstoun, George, Lord Corehouse, 

158. 
Cream, Billy, landlord of inn at Lau- 

rencekirk, and Lord Dunmore, 151. 
Cross, curious meaning attached to, 

338. 
Cry a thegither, that s the way to be 

served, 134. 
Gumming, Dr. Patrick, convivial 

clergyman, 122. 
Gumming, Miss, of Altyre, and Donald 

MacQueen, 179. 
Cumnock, volunteers of, 272. 
Cultoquhey, old Laird of, morning 

litany, 242. 
Cutty-stool, former use of, 78. 

DAFT person, his choice of money, 

290. 
Dale, David, anecdotes of his servant, 

140. 

Dalhousie, Lady, 257. 
Dam-brod pattern table-cloth, 204. 
Dancing, seceder s opinion of, 275. 
Darkness, what is it? 34. 
Da vie, chiel that s chained to, 186. 
Davy Gellatleys, many in the 

country, 280. 
Death, circumstances of, coolly treated, 

75. 



378 



INDEX. 



Death of a sister described by old 
lady, 193. 

Decrees of God, answer of old woman, 
33. 

Degrees sold at northern universities, 
167. 

Delicacy of recent authors compared 
with older, 353. 

Dewar, David, Baptist minister at 
Dunfermline, 266. 

Dialects, distinctions on Scottish, 
211. 

Dialect, Scottish, real examples of, 
172, 173. 

Dialects, provosts, Aberdeen and Edin 
burgh, 217. 

Diamond Beetle case, 158. 

Difference between an Episcopalian 
and a Presbyterian minister, 61. 

Diminutives, terms of endearment, 
206. 

Discreet, curious use of word, 202. 

Diseases of children, odd names for, 
206. 

Div ye no ken there s aye raaist sawn 
o tiie best crap? 136. 

Dochart, same as Macgregor, 302. 

Dog story, 263. 

Doggie, doggie, address of idiot to a 
greyhound, 295. 

Dogs in church, anecdotes of, 87, 88, 
308, 309. 

Donald, Highland servant, 142, 

Donkey, apology of his master for 
putting him into a field, 336. 

Downie, minister of Banchory, and 
son s marriage, 22. 

Drams in Highlands, anecdotes of, 
121. 

Dream of idiot in town of Ayr, and 
apostle Peter, 282. 

Drinking, apology for, 301. 

Drinking at Balnamoon, 257. 

Drinking at Castle Grant, 120. 

Drinking, challenge against, by Mr. 
Boswell of Balmuto, 102. 

Drinking parties of Saturday some 
times took in Sunday, 118. 

Drinking party, Mad employed to 
lowse the neckcloths, 111. 

Drinking party, quantity consumed 
by, 108. 

Drinking reckoned an accomplish 
ment, 104. 

Drinking, supposed manliness attach 
ed to, lor. 

Drovers drinking in Highlands, 104. 
Drumly, happy explanation of, 174. 
Drummondof Keltie, answer to itine 
rant tailor, 235. 



Dunbar, Sir Archibald, account of a 

servant, 170. 

Dundas, Henry, and Mr. Pitt, 20] . 
Dundrennan, Lord, anecdote of a silly 

basket-woman, 287. 
Dunlop, Rev. Walter, address to Dr. 

Cook of St. Andrews, 299. 
Dunlop, Rev. Walter, and Mr. 

Clarke s big head, 299. 
Dunlop, Rev. Walter, man of racy 

humour, 298. 
Dunlop, Rev. Walter, meeting flock 

of geese, 299. 
Dunlop, Rev. Walter, on a taciturn 

brother, 300. 

Dunlop, Rev. Walter, and mis 
chievous youths in kirkyard, 299. 
Dunlop, Rev. Walter, answer to two 

young men, 298. 
Dunlop, Rev. Walter, opinion of 

Edward Irving, 299. 
Dunmore, Lord, and Billy Cream, 151. 
D ye think I dinna ken my ain groats 

in ither folk s kail ? 270. 

EAST LOTHIAN minister and his be- 

theral taking degrees at a northern 

college, 168. 

Economy, specimen of Scottish, 180. 
Edinburgh and Aberdeen provosts, 

217. 
E ening brings a hame, expressed 

by Lord Byron, 234. 
Eglinton, Earl of, and little boy, 238. 
Eh, man, your Psalm buik has been 

ill bund, 313. 
Eh, Miss Jeany ! ye have been lang 

spared/ 192. 
Eldin, Lord (John Clerk), anecdotes 

of, 146, 147. 

Election, answer of minister to ques 
tion, 30. 
Elphiustone, Lord, and minister of 

Cumberuauld, 342. 
Endearment, Scottish terms of, 37, 

38. 

Englishman, an impruived, 279. 
Enterteening, curious use of word, 

202. 
Episcopalian chapels, anecdote of Sir 

W. Forbes, 59. 
Erskine, Colonel, servant proposes an 

aith for his relief, 331. 
Erskine, Hon. Henry, dinner party at 

Lord Armadale s, 326. 
Erskine, Mr., of Dun, and l.is old 

servant, 128. 

Erskirie of Dun, Miss, 188. 
Estate giving the name to proprietor, 

16, 240. 



INDEX. 



379 



Examinations of communicants, 88, 

89. 
Expressions, old Scottish, and modern 

slang contrasted, 207, 208, 209. 
Expressions, specimens of Scottish, 

507. 

FACTORS, proposal to sow field with, 

289. 

Fah tee, fah tee, 217. 
Fail, curious use of word, 204. 
Family worship now more common, 

64. 

Family worship, remark upon, 64. 
Farmer and servant boy, 254. 
Farmer, answer of, when asked to take 

rhubarb tart, 251. 
Farmer, cool answer regarding notes, 

250. 

Fanner on Deeside and bottle of vine 
gar, 251. 

Fanner refusing a dessert spoon, 251. 
Farmer, Scottish, conversation with 

English girl, 328. 
Farms, giving names to the tenants, 

241. 

Fash as to taking a wife, 334. 
Fast-day, national, strictness in ob 
serving, 12. 
Fat for should I gang to the opera, 

just to creat a cont eesion? 214 
Fencing tables, by an old minister, 78. 
Fencing the deil, 324. 
Fergusson of Pitfour and London 

lady, 260. 
Fettercairn, custom of bowing to 

heritors, 86. 

Fife elder and penurious laird, 297. 
Fife, Lord, proposal to, by an idiot, 

289. 
Fin a fardin for yersell. pnir body, 

263. 

Finzean, Laird of, swearing, 59. 
Fisher of men, 316. 
Fit raiment, explanation of, by child, 

89. 

Fleeman, Jamie, anecdote of, 288. 
Fleeman, Jamie, the Laird of Udny s 

fool, life of, published, 288. 
Floorish o the surface, to describe 

a preacher, 316. 
Forbes, Mrs., of Medwyn, fond of tea, 

171. 
Forbes s banking-house, anecdotes of, 

108. 

Formerly robbers, now thieves, 147. 
Frail, curious use of word, 204. 
Fraser, Jamie, address to minister in 

kirk, 202. 
Frassr, Jamie, idiot of Lunan, 284. 



Free Church, road of, tolls unco 

high, 322. 
Freet s dear sin* I sauld freet in 

streets o Aberdeen, 216. 
French people, a clause in their 

favour, by a Scottish minister, 263 
Fruit, abstinence from, by minister, 

19. 
Fullerton, Miss Nelly, anecdote of, 

189. 
Funeral, anecdote of, in Strathspey, 

109. 

Funeral, carrying at, or leaning, 295. 
Funeral, extraordinary account of a 

Scottish, at Carluke, 273. 
Funeral of a laird of Dundonald, 110. 
Funeral, reason for a farmer taking 

another glass at, 274. 
Funeral, reason for a person being 

officious at, 274. 

Funeral, taking orders for, on death 
bed, 20. 
Funeral, the coffin forgotten at, 110. 

GALLOWAY LADY declining drink. 
121. 

Gardenstone, Lord, and his book at 
the inn, 149. 

Gardenstone, Lord, and his pet pig, 
151. 

Gardenstone, Lord, exertions of, for 
Laurencekirk, 14. 

Gardenstone, Lord, keeping snuff in 
his waistcoat pocket, 151. 

Gardenstone, Lord, personal reminis 
cences of, 149-151. 

Garskadden, Laird of, steppit awa* 
at table, 124. 

General Assembly, minister s prayer 
for, 78. 

George III., sickness of, advantageous 
to candlemakers, 268. 

Ghost appearing to Watty Dunlop, 
299. 

Gilchrist, Dr. , answer to youug minis 
ter on Lord s Prayer, 315. 

Gilchrist, Dr., answer to one of his 
hearers, who had changed his re 
ligion, 315. 

Gillespie, Professor, and village car 
penter, 324. 

Gillespie, Rev. Mr., ind old woman 
sleeping when he preached, 325. 

Glasgow Cathedral, betheral s opinion 
of, 305. 

Glasgow lady and carpenter, 23. 

Glasgow, toast after dinner, hint to 
the ladies, 103. 

Glenorchy, Lady, and the elder at the 
plate at Caprington, 320. 



380 



INDEX, 



Glenorchy, Lady, removal of her re 
mains on account of railroad, 344. 

Gordon, Duchess of, 173. 

Gordon, Duchess of, and the laird of 
Craigmyle, 258. 

Gordon, Lady Susan, and David Tul- 
loch, 99. 

Graham, Miss Clementina Stirling, 
Mystifications by, 177. 

Grave, making love at, 305. 

Gregory, Dr., story of Highland chief, 
15. 

Grieve in Aberdeenshire, opinion of 
own wife, 25. 

Grieve, on Deeside, opinion ot young 
man s preaching, 316. 

Gude coorse country wark, 306. 

Gudewife on Deeside, 25. 

Guthrie, Helen, and her husband, 33. 

Guy Mannering, extract from, 287. 

HADDOCK, curious use of word, 205. 

Halbert, smells damnably of the, 
292. 

Hamilton, Laird, at the palace asking 
the servant to sit down, 260. 

Hamilton, Laird, noted for eccentri 
city, 260. 

Hamilton, Laird, reasons for not sign 
ing a bill, 260. 

Hamilton Bab, an idiot at Ayr, 282. 

Hamilton, Rab, idiot, anecdotes of. 
282, 283. 

Hangman, Scotch drover acting as, 
278. 

Harvest, returning thanks for good, 
319. 

Hatter at Laurencekirk, 14. 

Heaven, little boy s refusal of, 77. 

Heaven, old woman s idea of, 76. 

He bud tae big s dyke wi the feal at 
fit o t, 26. 

He is awfu supperstitious, 205. 

He turned Seceder afore he dee d, 
and I buried him like a beast, 91. 

Hech, sirs, and he s weel pat on, 
too, 346. 

Henny pig and greeTi tea, 215. 

Heritor sending the hangman of Stir 
ling to pay the minister, 334. 

Heritors, bowing to, 86. 

Hermand, Lord, great drinker, but 
first-rate lawyer, 156. 

Hormand, Lord, jokes with young 
advocate, 157. 

Hermand, Lord, opinion of drinking, 
105. 

Highland chairman, 177. 

Highland chief, story of, 16. 



Highland gentleman, first time in Loi> 
don, 16. 

Highland honours, 116. 

Highland inquisitiveness, 247. 

Highlands kept up the custom of clans 
or races, 241. 

Hill, Dr., Latin translation of Scottish 
expressions, 174. 

His girn s waur than his bite, 38. 

Holy communion, several anecdotes 
concerning, 93. 

Home, John, author of Douglas, lines 
on port wine, 327. 

Home, John, remark of, to David 
Hume, 86. 

Honest men and bonnie lassies, 250. 

Honest woman, what garr d ye steal 
your neighbour s tub? 205. 

Honesty declared the best policy, 
why? 28. 

Honeyman s, Mrs., answer to Henry 
Erskine s impromptu lines, 326. 

Hoot ! jabbering bodies, wha could 
understan them? 198. 

Horse the length of Highgate, 201. 

Hospitals, changes in, 12. 

Hot day, cool remark on, 29. 

Hout, that is a kind o a feel, 4. 

Hume, David, refused assistance ex 
cept on conditions, 96. 

Hume, Mrs. . Too poor, 19. 

Humour of Scotch language, 169. 

Humour, Scottish, described in An 
nals of the Parish, 245. 

Humour, Scottish, description of, 169. 

Hymns ancient and modem, 51. 

I DIDNA ken ye were i the touii, 172. 

Idiot boy and penurious uncle, 295. 

Idiot boy, pathetic story of one re 
ceiving communion, 294. 

Idiot in Lauder, cheating the seceders, 
289. 

Idiot in Peebles church, 284. 

Idiot, musical one at Stirling, appro 
priate tune, 2.">2. 

Idiot of Lauder, and Lord Lauder- 
dale s steward, 290. 

Idiot, pathetic complaint of, regarding 
bubbly jock, 284. 

Idiot, why not asleep in church, 284. 

Idiots, Act of Parliament concerning, 
288. 

Idiots, fondness for attend ing funerals, 
287. 

Idiots, parish, often very shrewd, 280. 

I druve ye to your marriage, and I 
shall stay to drive ye to your burial, 
189. 



INDEX. 



381 



If there s an ill text in a the Bible, j 

that erector s aye sure to tak it, 84. 
1 If you dinna ken whan ye ve a glide 

servant, I ken whan I ve a glide 

place, 129. 
I hae cnist n my coat and waistcoat, 

and faith I dinna ken how lang J 

can thole my breeks/ 136. 
I just fan a doo in the redd o my 

plate/ 126. 

1 11 hang ye a at the price, 278. 
I maun hae a lume that ll haud in, 

256. 
I m unco yuckie to hear a blaud o 

your gab, 170. 
Inch-byre banes, 262. 
Indeed, sir, I wish I wur, 263. 
India, St. Andrew s day kept in, by 

Scotchmen, 18. 
I never big dykes till the tenants 

complain," 271. 
Innes, Jock, remark upon hats and 

heads, 267. 
Innkeeper s bill, reason for being 

moderate, 274. 
Interchange of words bet ween minister 

and flock in church, 342. 
Intercourse between classes changed, 

137. 

I soopit the pu pit, 126. 
It s a peety but ye had been in Para 
dise, and there micht na hae been j 

ony faa , 19. 
It s no the day to be speerin sic 

things, 72. 
I ve a coo noo/ 335. 
I was just stan ing till the kirk had 

skailed/ 17. 
I was not juist sae sune doited as 

some o your Lordships, 148. 
I wouldna gie my single life for a 

the double anes I ever saw/ 136. 

JACOBITE feeling, 97, 9S. 

Jacobite lady, i reason for not rising 
from her chair, 199. 

Jacobite toasts, 100. 

Jacobite s prayer for the King, 30. 

Jamie Laval, old servant, anecdotes 1 
of, 132. 

Jeems Robson, ye are sleepin , 80. 

Jemmy, you are drank, 263 

Jock, daft, attending funeral at Wig 
town, 287. 

Jock Grey, supposed original of David 
Gellatley, 285. 

Jock Wabster, deil gaea ower/ a pro 
verb, 231. 

John Brown, burgher minister, and an 
auld wine/ 69. 



John, eccentric servant, aneedotes of, 

141. 

John stone, Miss, of Westerhall, speci 
men of fine old Scotch lady, 187, 

188. 
Johnstone, Rev. Dr., of Leith, and old 

woman, on the decrees of God, 33. 
Johnstone, Rev. Mr., of Monquhitter, 

and travelling piper, 297. 
Judges, Scottish, former peculiarities 

as a type, 145. 
Judges, Scottish, in Kay s Portraits, 

145. 

KAIL, curious use of word, 205. 

Kames, Lord, a keen agriculturist, 
157. 

Kames, Lord, his joke with Lord 
Monboddo, 152. 

Kaming her husband s head/ 312. 

Kay s Portraits, 157. 

Keith, Mrs., of Ravelston, her remark 
to Sir W. Scott on old books, 352. 

Kilspindie, Laird of, and Tannachy 
Tulloch, 241. 

Kindly feelings between minister and 
people, 69. 

Kirkyard crack, 137. 

Kirkyard crack superseded by news 
papers, 137. 

LADIES of Montrose, anecdotes of, 28. 

Ladies, old, of Montrose, 28. 

Lady, old maiden, of Montrose, reason 
for not subscribing to volunteer 
fund, 197. 

Lady, old, of Montrose, objections to 
steam vessels, and gas, and water- 
carts, 196. 

Lady, old Scotch, remark on loss of 
her box, 197. 

Lady, Scottish, Lord Cockburn s ac 
count of, 193. 

Lady s, old, answer to her doctor, 194. 

Laird, parsimonious, and fool, 291. 

Laird, parsimonious, and plate at 
church-door, 297. 

Laird, reason against taking his son 
into the world, 267. 

Laird reproaches his brother for not 
taking a wife, 334. 

Laird, saving, picking up a farthing, 
263. 

Laird, -Scottish, delighted that Christ 
mas had run away, 261. 

Lamb, Charles, saw no wit in Scotch 
people, 244. 

Land, differences of, in produce, 268. 

Lass wi the braw plaid, mind the 
puir/ 71. 



Landamy and calomy, 277. 
Lauderdale, Duke of, and Williamson 

the huntsman, 276. 
Lauderdale, Earl of, recipe of his daft 

son to make him sleep, 327. 
Laurencekirk, change in, 14. 
Laurencekirk described in style of 

Thomas the Rhymer, 150. 
Lriwson, Rev. Dr. George, of Selkirk, 

and the student, 301. 
Lcein Gibbie, 9. 
Leslie, Rev. Mr., and the smuggler, 

300. 
Let her down Donald, man, for she s 

drunk, 177. 
4 Let the little ane gang to pray, but 

first the big ane maun tak an oar, 

21. 

Linties and Scottish settler in 

Canada, 37. 

Linty offered as fee for baptism, 37. 
Liston, bir Robert, and Scotchmen 

at Constantinople, 179. 
Loch, Davie, the carrier, at his 

mother s deathbed, 285. 
Lockhart, Dr., of Glasgow, and his son 

John, 85. 
Logan, Laird of, speech at meeting of 

heritors, 271. 
Lord be thankit, a the bunkers are 

fu ! 286. 
Lord pity the chiel that s chained to 

our Davie, 186. 
Lord s prayer, John Skinner s reason 

for its repetition, 265. 
Lothian, Lord, in India, St. Andrew s 

day, 18. 
Lothian, Marquis of, and old countess 

at table, 329. 
Lothian, Marquis of, and workmen, 

134. 

M CUBBIN, Scotch minister, witty 
answer to Lord Braxfield, 156. 

ai Knight, Dr., dry eneuch in the 
pulpit, 310. 

M Knight, Dr.. folk tired of his ser 
mon, 312. 

M Knight and Henry, twa toom kirks, 
311. 

M Knight, Dr., remark on his harmony 
of the four gospels, 311. 

Macleod, Rev. Dr. Norman, and High 
land boatman, 21. 

Macleod, Rev. Dr. Norman, and re 
vivals, 20. 

Macleod, Rev. Dr. Norman, anecdote 
of an Australian told by, 18. 

M Lyznont, John, the idiot, anecdotes 
of, 280, 2S1 



Macnab, Laird of, his hors and 

-.>5S. 
MaoNabb, Miss, and Campbell of Cora- 

bie, 249. 

MTherson, Joe, and his wife, 76. 
Magistrates of Wester Anstruther. 

and evil-doors, 307. 
Mair o your siller and less o youi 

mainners, my Lady Betty, 320. 
Ma new breeks were made oot o tht 

auld curtains, 253. 
Man, ye re skailing a the water, 197. 
Marriage is a blessing to a few, a 

curse to many, and a great uncer 
tainty to all, 81. 

Marriage, old minister s address on, 81. 
Mary of Gueldres, burying-place now 

a railway, 343. 

Mastiff, where turned into a grey 
hound, 263. 
Maul, Mr., and the Laird of Skene, 

103. 
May a puir body like me noo gie 

hoast? 292. 

Me, and Pitt, and Pitfour, 144. 
Mearns, Rev. W. of Kinneff, 30. 
Mem, winna ye tak the clock wf 

ye? 205. 

Mending the ways o Bathgate, 301. 
Mice consumed minister s sermon, 80. 
Middens, example of attachment to 

170. 

Military rank attached to ladies, 845. 
Miligan, Dr. , answer to a tired clergy 

man, 272. 
Milton quoted, 29. 
Minister and rhubarb tart, 251. 
Minister, anecdote of little boy at 

school, 212. 
Minister asking who was head of tht 

house, 317. 

Minister called to a new living, 198. 
Minister, conversation with Janet his 

parishioner, 264. 
Minister in the north on long sermoni, 

312. 
Minister on a dog barking in rhtirch, 

308. 
Minister preaching on the water-sidd 

attacked by ants, 314. 
Minister publicly censuring hit 

daughter, 79. 

Minister reading his sermon, 301. 
Minister returning thanks for good 

harvest, 319. 
Minister, Scottish, advice to young 

preachers, 302. 
Minister, Scottish, remark to a young 

man, who pulled cards out of his 

pocket in church. SIS. 



INDEX. 



88S 



Minister, stupid, education and plac 
ing, 53. 
Minister, with great power of watter, 

304. 
Minister, young, apology for good 

appetite after preaching, 205. 
Minister s man, account of, 307. 
Minister s man, criticisms of his 

master s sermon, 307. 
Ministers, Scottish, a typ e of Scottish 

character, 52. 
Minister sending for his sermon in 

pulpit, 31. 
Minstrelsy of Scottish Border, Sir 

Walter Scott just in time to save, 11 
Miss Miller (Countess of Mar) and 

Scottish Minister, 87. 
Miss S scompliments, and shedee d 

last nicht at aiclit o clock, 143. 
Monboddo, Lord, anecdote in Court of 

King s Bench, 153. 
Monboddo, Lord, theory of primitive 

men having tails, 152. 
Monboddo, Lord, though a judge, did 

not sit on the bench, 152. 
Monboddo, Lord, visit at Oxford, 152. 
Money, love of, discussion on, 24. 
Montrose bailie s eldest son, 198. 
Montrose, description of, by an Aber 
deen lady, 214. 

Montrose lady s idea of man, 192. 
Montrose old ladies, 28. 
Montrose, provost of, conversation 

with an old maid, 190. 
Mony a ane has complained o that 

hole, 247. 
"rfuilton, Jock, idiot, and a penurious 

Laird, 291. 
tfunrimmon Moor, no choice of wigs 

on, 256. 

Murray, Mrs., and the salt spoon, 132 
My mou s as big for puddin as it is 

for kail, 251. 
Mystifications, by Miss Clementina 

Stirling Graham, 177. 

NA, different modifications of the 

word, 181. 
Na, na, lie s no just deep, but he s 

drumly, 174. 

Na, na, ye ll aiblins bite me, 176. 
Neebour, wad ye sit a bit wast ? 179. 
Nelson, Lord, explanation of his order, 

276, 
Nichol. an old servant of Forfarshire, 

135. 
No anither drap, neither het nor 

caald, 122. 
Nobleman, half-witted, in Canongate 

jail, 2P3. 



j Nobleman, mad Scottish, cautioui 

answer of, 293. 
1 Noo, Major, ye may tak our lives, 

but ye ll no tak our middens, 170. 
Nuckle, Watty, betheral, opinion, 305. 

OD, Charlie Brown, what gars ye ha 
sic lang steps to your front door? 
258. 

Od, freend, ye hae had a lang spell 
on t sin I left, 17. 

Od, ye re a lang lad ; God gie y* 
grace, 189. 

Old lady speaking of her own death, 
193. 

Old sermons, preaching of, 81. 

Old woman, remarks of, on the use 
fulness of money, 24. 

On the contrary, sir, 248. 

Ony dog micht soon become a grey 
hound by stopping here, 263 

Oor Jean thinks a man perfect salva 
tion, 192. 

Oor John swears awfu , 59. 

Organ, mark of distinction, 61. 

Organs becoming more common, 50. 

Ou, there s jist me and anither lass, 
34. 

PAPERS in pulpit, 319. 

Paradise and Wesleyan minister, 19. 

Parishioner, coolness of, when made 
an elder of the kirk, 336. 

Paul, Dr., his anecdotes of idiots, 281. 

Paul, Saunders, of Banchory, famous 
for drinking, 103. 

Perth, Lady, remark to a Frenchman 
on French cookery, 188. 

Penurious laird and Fife elder, 297. 

Pestilence that walketh in darkness 
What is it? 34. 

Phraseology, Scottish, an example of 
pure, 213. 

Phraseology, Scottish, force of, 36. 

Piccadilly, 16. 

Pig, great bvoon, 203. 

Pig, Scotch minister s account of eat- 
mg one, 96. 

Pinkiebtirn, faithful servant at, 139. 

Piper and the elder, 36. 

Piper and the wolves, 28. 

Plugging, an odious practice, 125. 

Poetry, Scottish, becoming less popu 
lar, 40. 

Poetry in Scottish dialect, list of, 41. 

Polkemmet, Lord, account of his judi 
cial preparations, 146. 

Polkemmet, Lord, his account of kill 
ing a calf, 146. 

Pompons minister and the angler, 816 



384 



INDEX. 



Pony of Free Kiik minister running 
off to glebe, 31. 

Poole, Dr., his patient s death an 
nounced. 143. 

* Powny, grippit a chiel for/ 182. 

Prayers before battle, 198. 

Preacher, a bombastic, reproved satiri 
cally, 265. 

Preacher, Scottish, and his small bed 
room at manse where he visited, 
319. 

Preacher, testimony to a good, 316. 

Preaching old sermons, 81. 

Precentor reading single line of psalm, 
50. 

Predestination, answer of minister 
about, 30. 

Priest Gordon, genuine Aberdonian 
specimen of, 90. 

Priest Matheson, 91 . 

Professor, a reverend, his answer to 
a lawyer, 322. 

Pronunciation, Scottish, varieties of, 
make four different meanings, 206. 

Property qualification, 335. 

Prophets chalmer (the minor), 320. 

Proprietors,two, meeting of, described 
by Sir Walter Scott, 241. 

Proverbial expressions, examples of 
some very pithy, 227-239. 

Proverbial Philosophy of Scotland, by 
William Stirling of Keir, M.P., 219. 

Proverb, Scottish, application of, by 
a minister in a storm, 229. 

Proverb, Scottish, expressed by Lord 
Byron, 234. 

Proverbs becoming reminiscences, 218, 
240. 

Proverbs, immense collection of, by 
Fergusson, 218, 220. 

Proverbs, Scotch, Borne specially ap 
plicable to the Deil, 229-231. 

Proverbs, Scotland famous for, 219. 

Proverbs, Scottish, Allan Ramsay s 
dedication of, 225, 226. 

Proverbs, Scottish, Andrew Hender 
son, 219, 226. 

Proverbs, Scottish, collections of, 218, 
219. 

Proverbs, Scottish, collection of, by 
Allan Ramsay, 225. 

Proverbs, Scottish, Kelly s collection, 
218, 219. 

Proverbs, Scottish, much used in 
former times, 219. 

Proverbs, Scottish, pretty application 
of, 228. 

Proverbs, Scottish, specimens of, in 
language almost obsolete, 222, 223. 
Providence, 21. 



Providence, mistake of, in resold te 

bairns, 262. 
Provost of Edinburgh in the House of 

Lords in 17S6, 201. 
Psalmody, Scottish, 48. 
Psalmody, Scottish, improvement of, 

50. 
Pure language of Scotland not to be 

regarded as a provincial dialect, 

175. 



* RAIMENT fit, 89. 

Ramsay, Allan, dedication of his pro 
verbs in prose, 225. 

Ramsay, Sir George, of Banff, and the 
Laird of Corb, 259. 

Ramsay, two Misses, of Balmain, 
anecdotes of, 194, 195. 

Rax me a spaul o that bubbly jock, 
173. 

Reason given by an old man for 
marrying a young woman, 248. 

Recess Studies, 12. 

Redd, pigeon found among, ]26. 

Religion, two great changes in ideas 
of, 63. 

Religious feelings and religious ob 
servances, 56, 94. 

Remember Mr. Tamson ; no him at 
the Green, but oor ain Mr. Tamson, 



300. 



* Reminiscences capable of a practical 

application, 273. 
Reminiscences have called forth 

communications from others, 9, H". 
Reminiscences includes stories of 

wit or humour, 243. 

Reminiscences/ object and purposf 

of, 36. 
Reminiscences, recall pleasant asso 

ciatious, 8. 

Ripin the ribs/ 173. 
Road, Highland, humorously de 

scribed, 246. 
Robbie A Thing, 301. 
Robby, a young dandy, and his old 

aunt, 193. 
Robertson, Principal, advice to, bj 

Scotch minister, 105. 
Robison, Mrs., answer to gentleman 

coming to dinner, 194. 
Rockville, Lord, character of, as a 

judge, 154. 
Rockville, Lord, description of street, 

when tipsy, 154. 
Ruling elder s answer to jokes of three 

young men, 266. 
Rutherfurd, Lord, and the Bona .j 

shepherd. 70. 



INDEX. 



385 



redding 



up 



SABBATH-DAY, and 
drawers, 74. 

Sabbath-day, eggs ought not to be laid 
on, 74. 

Sabbath-day known by a hare, 74. 

Sabbath day, where children go who 
play marbles on, 35. 

Sabbath desecration, geologist in the 
Highlands, 72. 

Sabbath desecration, stopping the 
jack for, 72. 

Sandy, fine specimen of old servant, 
129. 

Say awa , sir ; we re a* sittin* to cheat 
the dowgs, 88. 

Scotchman, notion of things in Lon 
don, 16. 

Scotchman of the old school, judg 
ment of, upon an Englishman, 279. 

Scotchman on losing his wife and cow, 
316. 

Scotch minister and his diary regard 
ing quarrels with wife, 312. 

Scott, Dr., minister of Garluke, 274. 

Scott, Dr. , on his parishioners dancing, 
274. 

Scott, Rev. Robert, his idea of Nel 
son s order, 276. 

Scott, Rev. R., of Cranwell, anecdote 
of young carpenter, 139. 

Scott, Sir Walter, and the blacksmith 
on the battle of Flodden, 277. 

Scott, Sir Walter, did not write poetry 
in Scottish dialect, 40. 

Scott, Sir Walter, his story of sale of 
antiques, 183. 

Scott, Sir Walter, his story of two 
relatives who joined the Pretender, 
183. 

Scott, Sir Walter, just in time to save 
Minstrelsy of the Border, 11. 

Scotland, past and present, 354. 

Scotticisms, expressive, pointed, and 
pithy, 181, 182. 

Scotticisms, remarks on, by Sir John 
Sinclair and Dr. Beattie, 20. 

Scottish architect on English leases. 
23. 

Scottish boy cleverness, 253, 254. 

Scottish conviviality, old, 101. 

Scottish cookery, 345. 

Scottish dialect, difference between 
Aberdeen and Southern Scotch, 21 7. 

Scottish dialect, reference of, to Eng 
lish, 185. 

Scottish dialect, specimens of, 178, 
179. 

Scottish economy, specimen of, in 
London, 180. 

Scottish elders and ministers, anec 
dotes of, 71. 



Scottish expressions, examples of 

peculiar applications, 202-205. 
Scottish expressions, illustrated by a 

letter to a young married lady from 

an old aunt, 207-209. 
Scottish gentleman in London, 16. 
Scottish humour and Scottish wit 

169. 
Scottish humour, specimen of, In s 

Fife lass, 246. 
Scottish minstrelsy, 11. 
Scottish music, charm of, 42. 
Scottish peasantry, character of, 70. 
Scottisli peasantry, religious feelings 

of, 70. 
Scottish peasantry, religious feelings 

of, changed, 65. 
Scottish phraseology, articles on, in 

Blackwood, 38. 
Scottish psalm-tunes, some written by 

operatives, 49. 
Scottish shepherd and Lord Cockburn, 

71. 
Scottish shepherd and Lord Ruther- 

furd, 70. 

Scottish songs, collections of, 46, 47. 
Scottish stories of wit and humour 

243. 

Scottish verses, charm of, 41. 
Scottish words of French derivation, 

348, 349. 
Scottishness of the national humour 

246. 
Seceder, an old, would not enter parish 

churcV. 301. 
Secession Church, professor in, to a 

young student, 301. 
Sedan chairs, 176. 
Sermon consumed by mice, 30. 
Sermons, change of character of, 84. 
Servant and dog Pickle at Tester, 

134-5. 
Servant, answer of, to his irascible 

master, 128. 
Servant, answer of, when told to go, 

129. 

Servant and Lord Lothian, 134. 
Servant, Mrs. Murray, and the spoon, 

132. 
Servant of Mrs. Ferguson of Pitfour, 

143. 
Servant of Mrs. Fullerton of Montruse, 

143. 
Servant, old, reason for doing as ha 

iiked, 144. 

Servant praying for her minister, 300. 
Servant taxed with being drunk, his 

answer, 263. 

Servants, domestic Scottish, 127. 
She juist i elled hersel at Craigo wi 

straeberries and ream, 193 



886 



INDEX. 



She** bonnier than she s better/ 
228. 

She will be near me to close rav een/ 
248. 

Shireff, Rev. Mr., and member of his 
church who had left him, 315. 

Shirra, Rev. Mr., on David saying 
* All men are liars/ 314. 

Shot, a bad one, complimented on 
success, 270. 

Siddons, Mrs., respected by Edin 
burgh clergy, 92. 

Silly, curious use of the worl, 204. 

Singing birds, absence of, in America, 
37. 

Sins, Aberdeen mother proud of, 215. 

4 Sir, bceby I ll come farther/ 281. 

Sit in a box drawn by brutes/ 153. 

Skinner, Bishop, and Aberdeen old 
couple, 331. 

Skinner, John, Jacobitism of, 43. 

Skinner, John, of Langside, his 
defence of prayer-book, 265. 

Skinner, Rev. John, author of several 
Scottish songs, 42. 

Skinner, Rev. John, lines on his 
grandson leaving Montrose, 45. 

Skinner, Rev. John, passing an Anti- 
burgher chapel, 45. 

Sleeping in church, 80. 

Sleeping in church, and snuffing, 319. 

Slockin d, never, apology for drinking, 
301. 

Smith, Adam, marked as most eccen 
tric, 346. 

Smith, Sydney, opinion of Scottish 
wit, 243. 

Smuggler, case of one in church, 300. 

4 Sneck the door/ 217. 

Snulf-box handed round in churches, 
343. 

Snuff, grand accommodation for, 126. 

Snuff, pu pit soopit for, 126. 

Snuff put into the sermon, 319. 

Snuff-taking, 124. 

Soldier, an old, of the 42d, cautious 
about the name of Graham, 338. 

* Some fowk like parritch, and some 

like paddocks/ 188. 

* Some strong o the aaple/ 251. 
Hongs, drinking, 117. 

Sovereign, when new, a curiosity, 336. 
tSpeat o praying and speal o 1 drinking, 

257. 
Speir, daft Will, and Earl of Eglintou, 

285, 286. 
Speir, daft Will, answer to master 

about his dinner, 286. 
Spinster, elderly, arch reply to, by a 

younger member, 192. 



Stipend, minister s, reasons against 
its being large, 269. 

Stirling of Keir, evidence in favour 
of, by the miller of Keir, 98. 

Stirling of Keir, lecture on proverbs, 
227. 

Stra von, wife s desire to be buried i, 
77. 

Strikes, answer upon, by a master, 
271. 

Stewart, Rev. Patrick, sermon con 
sumed by mice, 30. 

Stone removed out of the way, 27. 

Stool, a three-legged, thrown at hus 
band by wife, 312. 

Stout lady, remark of, 22. 

Stranraer, old ladies on the British 
victories over the French, 198. 

Sunday sometimes included in Satur 
day s drinking party, 118. 

Suppers once prevalent in Scotland, 
118. 

Sutherland, Colonel Sandy, his dis 
like to the French, 330. 

Swearing by Laird of Fiuzean, 59. 

Swearing by Perth writer, 58. 

Swearing common in Scotland for 
merly, 58, 59. 

Swine, dislike of, in Scotland, 94. 

Swinophobia, reasons for, 95. 

Smith, Sydney, remarks of, on men 
not at church, 57. 

TAILOR, apology for his clothes not 

fitting, 338. 
Take out that dog : he d wauken a 

Glasgow magistrate/ 309. 
Taylor, Mr., of Loudon, description 

of his theatre by his father from 

Aberdeen, 213. 
Term-tirne offensive to Scottish lairds. 

261. 

Texts, remarks upon, 84, 
That s a lee, Jemmie/ 157. 
Theatre, clergy used to attend, in 1784, 

92. 

Theatre, clerical non-attendance, 93. 
The breet s stamrin i the peel wi 

ma/ 215. 
The deil a ane shall pray for them on 

my plaid/ 99. 

The fool and the miller, 290. 
The man reads/ 333. 
Them at drink by themsells maj 

just lish by themsells/ 131. 
There ll be a walth o images there, 

60. 
There s Kiunaird greetin as if there 

was nae a saunt on earth but hiiu- 

sell and the King o France/ 3 



INDEX. 



83? 



There s nae wail o wigs on Muuriin- 

mon Moor, 256. 
There s neither men nor meesic, and 

fat care I for meat? 214. 
They may pray the kenees aff their 

breeks afore I join in that prayer, 

99. 

They neither said ba nor bum, 133. 
Thirdly and lastly fell over the 

pulpit stairs, 332. 

Thomson, Thomas, described in Aber 
deen dialect, 213. 
Thomson, two of the name prayed for, 

300. 

Thrift, examples of, in medicine, 337. 
Tibbie, eccentric servant, anecdote 

of, 141. 

Tiger and skate, stories of, 24. 
Toasts after dinner, 112, 117. 
Toasts, collection of, in the book 

The Gentleman s New Bottle Com 
panion, 117. 
Toasts or sentiments, specimens of, 

114-116. 
Tourist, English, asking Scottish girl 

for horse-tiies, 329. 
Town Council, profit but not honour, 

199. 
Tractarianism, idea of, by an old 

Presbyterian, 60. 
Travel from Genesis to Revelation, 

and not footsore, 322. 
Traveller s story, treatment of, 24. 
Troth, mem, they re just the gude- 

nian s deed claes, 75. 
Tulloch, David, Jacobite anecdote of, 

at prayers, 98. 

Turkey leg, devilled, and servant, 113. 
Tweeddale, Lord, and dog Pickle, 134. 

UNBELIEVER described by Scotch 
lady, 188. 

VIEW of tilings, Scottish matter of 

fact, 248. 
Vomit, if not strong enough, to be 

returned, 337. > 

WASHING dishes on the Sabbath day, 

13. 
Waverley. old lady discovering the 

author of. 270. 



Waverley quoted, 297, 

Webster, Rev. Dr. , a five-bottle man, 

122. 
Weel then, neist time they sail get 

nane ava, 133. 
* We ll stop now, bairns ; I m no enter- 

teened, 28. 
We never absolve till after thru 

several appearances, 11 156. 
West, going, ridiculous application of 

179. 
Wha are thae twa beadle-looking 

bodies? 303. 
4 What a nicht for me to be fleein 

through the air, 188. 
What ails ye at her wi the green 

gown ? 132. 
What gars the laird of Garskadden 

look sae gash ? 124. 
What is the chief end of man ? 36. 
When ye get cheenge for a saxpence 

here, it s soon slippit awa, 180. 
Whisky, limited blame of, 73. 
Whited sepulchres, applied to clergy 

in surplices, Inverness, 32. 
Wife, cool opinion of, by husband, 25. 
Wife, rebuke of, by minister, 80. 
Wife taken by her husband to Ean- 

chory, 332. 
Wig of professor in Secession Church 

301. 
Williamson the huntsman and Duke 

of LauderdaK 1 , 277. 
Will ye tak your haddock wi us the 

day ? 205. 
Wilson, Scottish vocalist, modesty of, 

191. 

Wind, Scotch minister s prayer for, 78. 
Wolveg and the piper, 28. 
Wool, modifications of, 181. 

YE a* speak sae genteel now that I 

dinna ken wha Scotch, 184. 
Yeddie, daft, remark on a club-foot, 

294. 
Ye should hae steekit your neive upo 

that, 241. 
Ye ve been lang Cook, Cooking them, 

but ye ve dished them at last, 299. 
Young man and cards in church, 313. 
\ Your hospitality borders upon 

brutality, 102. 



DATE DUE 



JUN. 9 



1983 



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DA 
818 

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Ramsay, Edward Bannerman. 1793-1872. 

Dean Ramsay s Reminiscences of Scottish life 
& character. C ^Y Edward Bannerman Ramsay 3 With 
sixteen illustrations in colour from original 
water-colour drawings by H.W. Kerr. Chicago, 
A.C. McClurg & Co.; Edinburgh, T.N. Foulis, 
587p 16 col. plates. 20cm. index. 



1 .Scotland-Social life and customs. 2 .Anecdotes-Scot 
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