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Old Church Life in Scotland
Lecture VI.—Church Discipline in Olden Times


Censures—Rebukes—Sometimes in private and sometimes before Congregation— Delinquent sometimes stood in his own seat—Sometimes in the public place of Repentance—Sometimes in his usual clothing and sometimes in sackcloth— Repeated compearances for rebuke, called a course of repentance—Cautioners for compearance and for subsequent conduct—Bands for good behaviour— Disuse of cutty stool—Excommunication—Corporal and pecuniary punishment—Session Bailies—Joggs—Fines—Warnings—Deference paid to Kirk Sessions—Cases of Disrespect and Disobedience—Aid of Magistrate needed— Insolence to the Session—State of Parochial morality at different dates— Street fight in Mauchline between a merchant and a lawyer, with the Bailie looking on—Village Rowdyism—Poosie Nansie and her household—Social progress —Causes to which progress is due—Grounds of hope for the future.

Two lectures have already been devoted to the Kirk Session as the Parochial court of ecclesiastical discipline. The first of these lectures was occupied with an account of the institution and constitution of Kirk Sessions, and of their modes of inquisition. The second lecture was intended to shew the scope and extent of the Kirk's jurisdiction, or in other words the different kinds of offences that Kirk Sessions took cognisance of in olden times. In this lecture we have to consider the several forms of censure and punishment that Kirk Sessions either directly inflicted or caused to be inflicted, and the measure of respect in which the authority of Kirk Sessions was held by the community.

Rebuke was always part of the Session's censure. And rebuke was administered in different ways. Sometimes it was administered in private, that is in presence of the Kirk Session only. But in some cases when it was administered in private it was afterwards publicly announced from the pulpit. At other times when the offence was of a heinous character, or had been aggravated by repetition or other circumstances, the rebuke was delivered in face of the congregation. And old Session Records shew, what is not generally known to have been the fact, that in old times (say from 1600 to 1650 or a little later) public rebukes were administered in three different ways, according to the amount of scandal created by the offence. Sometimes the delinquent stood up in his own seat, made confession of his sin, and was reprimanded. At other times he had to present himself in front of the pulpit for admonition. And when the scandal was great he had to mount an elevated stand, technically designated the public place of repentance, and commonly called the repentance stool. In later times this threefold classification of public rebukes was not observed. Public censures came to be more and more confined to the graver class of offences, and the subjects of such censures had generally, if not always, to stand in the public place.

In one of his letters written on a Sunday morning in July, 1786, Burns states that he was that day going to put on sackcloth and ashes in Mauchline church—not literally, for his offence did not require such an amount of degradation—but metaphorically in the sense of humbling himself in public. But he adds, " I am indulged so far as to appear in my own seat."

[As I was in the act of revising this lecture, I was honoured with a visit from an American, who said he was informed that I possessed the cutty stool on which Burns stood before the congregation of Mauchline, and he was curious to see such an interesting relic of a great man ! ! I asked if he himself was a poet, but he said No!

A collector of local traditions about Burns (Rev. Dr. Pollock, Kingston, Glasgow), wrote in 1859 that some wiseacres in Mauchline took it into their heads that it would be a grand "spec" to have an assortment of snuffboxes made out of the old Repentance Stool, " associated as it had been with a solemn event in the history of the Poet." Adam Armour, a brother of Mrs. Burns, accordingly got possession of the stool, but it was found so worm-eaten that it was good for nothing. In point of fact, however, Burns never had to sit on the Mauchline Repentance stool.]

And Burns correctly describes his permission to stand in his own seat as an indulgence. Had he lived and sinned a century, or even half a century, earlier, it is doubtful if any such concession would have been made to him. It was about 1736 that favours of this kind began to be extended in Mauchline Parish to sinners of Burns's type, and at that time the allowance of the favour, together with a narrative of the circumstances under which it was voted, was specially recorded in the Session minutes. For instance, on the 2nd May, 1736, it was minuted that the minister, Mr. Maitland, informed the Session that a man "had spoke with him and proposed to give six pounds Scots to the poor, and stand in his father's seat twice." The Session, it is then added, did, after reasoning on this tempting proposal, agree that the man " should appear two days in his father's seat," and pay a penalty of ten shillings sterling. This was not precisely what the man offered ; but after a little haggling the Session modified their terms, and allowed the man to expiate his offence to the Church by the payment of 6 Scots, and penance in his father's seat twice, that is forenoon and afternoon, on one Sabbath. In 1698 a small laird in Mauchline Parish had the hardihood to make trial of the Session's squeezability. He represented his desire to be relieved of a scandal he lay under, but "refused to goe to the pillar, pretending that he had made a promise against it." His alleged conscientious scruples were disregarded, however, by the Session, and the "laws of the Church" were explained to him. Two months later the Session recorded that the laird had repeatedly shifted them with frivolous excuses and contumacies which they would no longer tolerate. It was therefore agreed that he should be formally cited "to compear on the common place of repentance against the next Lord's day." The laird did not make his appearance next Sabbath as required, and the officer complained that in serving the Session's citation he had been "mocked and flouted" by the laird. This was voted contempt of court, and the laird was handed over to the tender mercies of the civil magistrate. [In 1698 a schoolmaster applied to the Presbytery of Ayr for leave to stand in his own seat when undergoing a public admonition, but he was ordered to go to the public place of repentance.]

The practice of Kirk Sessions in the matter of censures was never at any period uniform all over the Church. What is expedient has sometimes to be considered as well as what is lawful. And expediency is a matter on which there will always be differences of opinion. While the Kirk Session of Mauchline in 1698 thought it very expedient that stubborn purse-proud people should be brought to their senses, the Kirk Session of Fenwick about the same date thought it more expedient to give way to the stiff humours of mulish parishioners. In 1692 they minuted a resolution regarding a man accused of using profane language, that "he being of a stiffe proud humour should only be rebuked before the Session." But this ill-judged leniency, as might have been foreseen, emboldened other sinners to assume high and proud airs, and not long afterwards the Session had to minute regarding a different offender that " considering the bad humour of the said Robert," his sentence was deferred.

One of a score of complaints given in to the Presbytery of Ayr against the minister of Maybole in 1718 was his "conniving at scandals in allowing some persons secret unusual corners to appear in, though people of the very commonest sort, without minding something to the poor in such a case." This complaint implied that the Parishioners of Maybole would have had no objection to dispensations from the repentance stool provided that the persons so indulged had been made to suffer somewhat more in penalty for the good of the poor. And that was the feeling in Mauchline Kirk Session in 1736. But in 1766 a Mauchline man wished to draw the Kirk Session a little farther out. He offered a handsome present to the poor, if the Session would release him from appearing before the Congregation at all. That offer, however, was rejected by Mr. Auld as being overmuch mercantile in its character, and the man was ordered to satisfy the Church in public as other offenders in the like condemnation did.

I have said that it was customary, during at least the first half of the seventeenth century, to allow some offenders, whose scandals were not of the grossest, to do public penance in their own seats. Instances of this are to be found in the Session records both of Fenwick and Galston. In 1650 a Galston dame was delated to her Session for " raileing on ye Ladie Barr, cursing, swearing, and divilish passione." She had the candour to confess all she was charged with, and she was ordained to give "signs of repentance out of her awin seatt the next Lorde's day," with certification that "the first tyme she sould be fund in the lyk sche sould stand Jieich? Other offenders, I said, had to appear in front of the pulpit for public rebuke. At one period this was the common place for the repentance stool. Mr. Morer states that in the beginning of last century the usual position of " the stool or bench of penance was under the precentor's desk." But it was not so always. It had once a higher elevation. And during the period that the church "pillar" was the conspicuous object in church, there were some favoured offenders that were allowed to stand "laigh," and be rebuked in front of the pulpit. In 1644 there was a slanderer in Galston ordained "to give signs of his grieff at the pulpit foot the next Sabbath day, because he war anc auld man." In 1676, a man who had been convicted of mending his sack on a Sunday, was appointed by the same Session to be publicly rebuked "in the body of the kirk near the pulpit." And in 1693 we read of a young couple in Galston, who had been married under a cloud, and for that scandal were made to stand several days "in a place before the pulpit'': not the public place, but a place just a little less public. [As far back as 1583 the General Assembly appointed Mr. David Russell, bailie of St. Andrews, for calling the Presbytery a "rabble," and using other "outrageous words," to appear "before the pulpit, in the paroche Kirk of St. Androis, before noon, after the sermon, and immediately before the prayer," and there make confession that he had "heavily of Tendit his God and sclandent the haill Kirk of God within this realme." Hook of Univ. Kirk.]

The place, however, where delinquents had commonly to stand when undergoing public rebuke, was what was called the repentance stool. The expression stool is apt to convey to the modern reader an erroneous impression, as if it were a tall, three-legged seat like what lawyers' clerks are perched on at the present day. Neither in structure nor situation were repentance stools always of one pattern. In the latter days of the old church of Mauchline the repentance stool, so far as I can learn, was just a common pew, a little exalted above its neighbours, and situated on the left hand of the pulpit under the drop of the west gallery. At an earlier period repentance stools were much more conspicuous objects. They were generally, if not always, "high places,"' and in old records they are so designated. The sentence pronounced on Paul Methven by the General Assembly in 1566 was that he be "planted in the public spectacle above the people in tyme of sermon," in the Kirk of Edinburgh on two preaching days. How elevated the public place in Galston church was, may be inferred from several minutes that appear in the Session records of that parish. In 1635 "the Session gave libertie to Matthew Ross and John Walker in Galston to set up ane seat and dask to themselves under the repentance stools at the north-west kirk doore." In 1675, agam> there was a delinquent who pled before the same Session "his inabilitie to stand high in the public place, by reason of a distemper in his head, and desired humbly that they would allow him to stand laigh in any place of the church they pleased."  [The term by which the public place of repentance was in very old times commonly designated, was the pillar. In 1591 it was minuted by the Session of the West Kirk, Edinburgh, that "John Howisone and John Gairns had agreit for twa hundreth marks to big ye laft and a pillar for " misdoers. If this pillar was a high and an unfenced stand we can see how some people, like the Galston man in 1675, had not nerve enough to mount it.] The Session, it is recorded, acceded to the man's request and " appointed a chair to be set at the foot of the stair of the public place the next Lord's day." In Fenwick, also, the old repentance stool must have been a high place, for in 1674 there was an order given by the Session of that Parish that one of two delinquents should stand below and the other in the public place. And from what is stated in the records of the Presbytery of Ayr, it is evident that the repentance stool in Monkton Church, both before and after 1650, was a small gallery "above the kirk doors."

There were some churches in which the public place of repentance was furnished with different rooms or stances to indicate different grades of infamy. In the old Session Records of Perth there is a minute of date 1605 ordaining that "a more public place of repentance be biggit with all diligence, and in it certain degrees, that therein offenders may be distinguished and better discerned both by their place and habit." But the threefold classification of public rebukes already described superseded the necessity in Ayrshire of "degrees" in the place of repentance. Some offenders were made to " stand hcich," others were allowed to "stand laigh." Some that "stood laigh" had to do so in front of the pulpit, and others were allowed to do so at their usual place of sitting. In all churches, however, the gravity of a man's offence was indicated by the dress in which he appeared for rebuke. As a rule, people came up for admonition in their very best church clothes, but in cases of grievous scandal they were required to appear in sackcloth or linen sheets. An entry in our Session Records shews that in Mauchline there was in 1686 a sum of 2 5s. expended on "harn to be a sackcloth and the making of it." In 1748 another sackcloth was got and the making of it costal 13s. 6d. The discontinuance of sackcloth as a penitential garb is nowhere that I remember referred to in our Session Records, and it is certain that as recently as 1781 an offender appeared in Mauchline Church in that dishonoured and uncomfortable habiliment. In Galston there were at least two robes of shame, and in 1676 two sinners were appointed to appear in Galston Church, "the one with the sackcloth gown and the other with the sheets." But whether there was much difference in the infamy of these respective dresses is not made clear. In 1626 a Galston damsel appeared "in the publict place of repentance with ane uthcr habite than was enjoined to her be the Session," and therefore for this act of disobedience she was " ordainit to apcir the next day in sackcloth or in ane window claith."

And whether arrayed in window claith or sackcloth, or attired in their best silks and broad cloth, it was not once only that offenders had to appear in public. They were appointed to undergo what was termed "a course of repentance." The minimum number of compearances required in the case of particular offences was specified in acts of the General Assembly, but when there was no satisfactory sign of humiliation and penitence the compearance was ordered to be continued longer.* And Kirk Sessions were very chary in accepting professions of repentance. In 1708 Mr. Maitland reported to the Session of Mauchline that a certain person under scandal, and with whom he had been appointed to converse, shewed "some seeming sense of sin with some small knowledge." This was not thought sufficient to warrant absolution, and the delinquent was therefore appointed to submit to another admonition. The same year a young married couple were ordered to submit to rebuke one day in public and " to ly under the rebuke for some time until their walk appear more suitable after their sin." In 1693 an ill doer in this Parish was continued under scandal for several months, although she had previously stood publicly in the church in sackcloth for nine several Sabbaths! In 1749 a roguish shoemaker in the village had the effrontery or the satirical humour, it is hard to say which, to apply to the Session for a certificate of good behaviour. The shoemaker, however, brought coals of fire on his head by this presumptuous petition, for the minister informed the elders that the petitioner had been guilty of "undutiful carriage towards him (Mr. Auld) in time of catechising and visiting." The Session thereupon authorised the minister to grant the shoemaker such a testimonial as an undutiful member of the congregation deserved. That would just have been a certificate of impudence. But no sooner had this dry courtesy been condescended on than something else came unexpectedly to the Kirk Session's ears. Information was lodged that the son of Crispin had not only been disrespectful to his minister but had been guilty of gross insolence to his own mother ; and when this report was investigated it was found that the shoemaker had repeatedly cursed the old lady with horrid imprecations, and had on one occasion aggravated the offence by committing it on a Sabbath day. Instead of a dainty testimonial, therefore, the shoemaker was provided with a seat on the repentance stool for four successive Sabbaths, and got the benefit of an admonition from the pulpit in face of the congregation.

As affording a sample of rigorous discipline, the following minute from the records of the Presbytery of Ayr may be quoted. The date of the minute is 1643, and the sin confessed was a heinous breach of the Seventh Commandment. "Compeared Y Z and confessed .... He was removit and enjoined to return clad in sackcloth and mak his confession, quhilk he did in humilitie upon his knies, the Moderator gravelie laying his sinne to his charge by reason of age and gray haires. He was removit ye second tyme, and returning in the same habite of sackcloth he was enjoined to give signs of his unfeigned repentance in the public in his paroch kirk, clad in sackcloth, and to stand at the kirk door in the same habit of sackcloth from the second bell to the third, and theirafter to present (him in) the public place of repentance, and to enter thereinto ye nixt Lord's day, and to continue from Sabbath to Sabbath after the said order enjoined, by the space of sex months according to the order of the Kirk of Scotland." At the end of the six months he appeared before the Presbytery for absolution, but for vitiating an act of the Kirk Session of Craigie he was ordered to stand two days more " in the habite of sackcloth without ane hatt on his head or band about his craig. As also, that after the same manner he appear at the next meeting of Presbyterie in Ayr and present himself in the public place of repentance, and that upon signs of unfeigned penitence he be received by the brether."

A very notable feature in old processes of discipline was the requirement of certain cautions from delinquents. These cautions were of two kinds, or more strictly speaking they were given for two purposes. When people were convicted of scandals long ago they were not all at once admitted to repentance, as the phrase was. They had usually to lie under scandal for some time and bemoan their sins in seclusion from Christian society. After being convicted of scandal they were required therefore to find a cautioner that they would, when called upon, appear before the Kirk Session and satisfy the Church. The following summary of a case that came before the Kirk Session of Galston in 1643 will give a fair illustration of the usual form of procedure in matters of discipline during the first forty years of the 17th century. A. B. and C. D. being "summoned, as suspect of" a conjoint offence, compeared and acknowledged their guilt. They also " found E. F. cautioner for them both, that they shall satisfie the Kirk in penaltie and repentance." The Galston records shew that from 1626 to 1638—that is during the first period of Episcopacy in the Church of Scotland —this form of procedure in discipline was universal or nearly so in Galston parish, and presumably therefore in other parishes. In 1633 the Galston Session made their rule absolute anent finding a cautioner for satisfaction of the kirk, and ordained that whoever appeared before them and refused to find caution to such effect " should not be heard till he laid down double penaltie." After 1638 the rule fell gradually into disuse, and seems to have become within a few years from that date altogether obsolete in Galston. But in some other parts of the country it was put in force long after 1638. In the records of the West Kirk, Edinburgh, for 1687—which, it may be mentioned in passing) was during the second period of Episcopacy—there are instances of delinquents finding caution to give "full and complete satisfaction to the discipline of the Church," and of cautioners being ordered when the proper time came "to cause the parties compeir within a month after advertisement, with certification" that if such compearance is not made, the cautioners shall forfeit the penalty specified in their bonds. It sometimes happened that parties delated to the Session declined to find caution for their subsequent compearance, and in such cases they were taken before the civil court and put under an injunction by the magistrate to obey the Session's summons. In the burgh records of Dumbarton, for example, there is an instance recorded in 1628 of a woman's finding her brother " caution, that sche sail appeir befoir the ministers, elders, and Sessioun of the kirk onytime they pleiss on aucht dayis warning, for the spaice of ane half yeir to cum."

[Possibly some people went of their own accord to the civil magistrate for that purpose, thinking and thinking rightly that the giving and receiving of caution were civil acts with which Kirk Sessions as spiritual courts had nothing to do.

The cautioner was of course always a friend or relative of the delinquent, but in 1634 there was a married woman in Galston who "found her husband cautioner for satisfaction of the kirk."]

Besides finding caution for compearance before the Session to satisfy the kirk, delinquents had long ago to find still further caution. After they had undergone rebuke, and other censure, they were not infrequently required to find security for good behaviour in future. Many instances of this requirement are to be found in the old records of Galston. Like the other kind of caution, however, already described, this form of security fell out of use about the middle of the 17th century. There is no instance of it so far as I remember in the extant records of Mauchline Session, which go back to the year 1669. But, both many and varied were the cases in which this caution was anciently given. Security was demanded from brawlers that they would "keip gude neibor-heid" with their adversaries. Security was in like manner required from Sabbath breakers, that they would remember the Lord's day to keep it holy. Security had also to be given by conjoint offenders that they would never meet each other in suspect or quiet places. It sometimes happened in Galston, as it has happened elsewhere, that a man's foes were those of his own household, and we read, therefore, of a man in that strictly disciplined parish who, in 1640, was required to find a "cautioner to observe and keip good order with his wyffe, and to leive in love with her as God's word doth allow." There were also in Galston long ago one or two misguided people, who, either from spiritual indifference or from prejudice against their own minister, gave up church going, and so we read that in 1628 there was a woman required by the Session to find caution that she would "keip the kirk ordinarily every Sabbath, and communicate in our kirk every zeir." She had probably been an extreme Presbyterian who could not brook the ritualism of Episcopal services.

Long after the custom of requiring caution for good behaviour had become obsolete, Kirk Sessions, when they thought proper, required delinquents to subscribe "bands" in pledge of their Christian carriage in time coming. These bands, with the subscribers' names underwritten, were engrossed in the Session Records. In 1680, for instance, an insubordinate villager was delated to the Session of Mauchlinc for beating his wife, blaspheming God's name, and railing against the magistrates of the town. For these insolences and outrages he was sessionally rebuked, and absolved from scandal, "upon the condition of his engaging himself by his band and subscription to carry faire in time coming, under the penalty specified in the said band." The penalty so specified, it may be stated, was "rebuke in public before the congregation as often as the Session shall appoint, and over and above a payment to the Session of 20 Scots money for the use of the poor in the Parish." Even when Sessions were in the way of demanding caution for good conduct they sometimes were content to dispense with the caution and accept parties' own bands. In 1629, two persons, presumably husband and wife, appeared before the Session of Galston and "actit and obleist thame, that in cais it beis tryit in any tyme heirefter that aither of thame beis fundin swearing, or blaspheming of God's name, or making uther misorder in the house, aither of thame with uther, than and that cais aither of thame quha contravenis this act to pay 20 Scots." The shoemaker in Mauchline who insulted the minister and cursed his mother in 1749 had to sign a resolution of amendment before he got the benefit of restoration to Church privileges. There was no stereotyped form in which these bands of good behaviour were draughted, but the shoemaker's declaration will give a fair sample of the general strain in which they were written. "I, A. B., shoemaker in Mauchline, do acknowledge my rude and undutiful behaviour to my minister both in time of catechising and of visiting. I do also, with deep sorrow of heart, confess my horrid sin of cursing my mother. It is my earnest desire to be forgiven by God, whose holy name I have so dreadfully profaned, and by all of this congregation, those especially whom I have more immediately offended. And, at the same time, it is my sincere resolution, through divine grace, which I heartily implore, that I'll do so no more. And as an evidence of my sincerity, I am willing that this, my humble confession, be recorded in the Session Book and be adduced against me as an aggravation of my crime if ever I shall relapse." Signed A. B. More recent registration of such bands may be found in our Session Books. Down to the close of Mr. Auld's ministry at least, if not later, these bands were now and again required in Mauchline.

Besides requiring bands for good behaviour, Sessions sometimes interdicted sinners from "conversing together." In 1705 a minister reported to the Presbytery of Ayr that two of his Parishioners had broken this instruction, whereupon it was minuted that "The Presbytery being informed that they often converse together......cause cite them to the next Presbytery that they may be rebuked for contumacy to their Session's appointment discharging them to converse." One of the parties affirmed that he was not contumacious, but that the other came to his house against his mind, and he kept up no correspondence beyond what "he could in no wise shun." Two hundred years ago (1674 for instance) the Kirk Session of Fenwick occasionally inhibited associates in sin from "one another's company except at kirk and mercat." Similar inhibitions were made in Galston, and in 1647 two persons were made to pay heavy penalties and stand two Sabbaths in the public place "for violation of an act of interdiction," and were "again interdicted of one another's companies save only in kirk and mercat."

Whether public appearances in garbs of sackcloth did or did not humble people with godly sorrow two hundred years ago is a question about which there may be two opinions, but it may be confidently asserted that at the present day such compearances would all the more harden the hearts of one class of offenders and utterly break the spirits of another, while at the same time it would demoralise the public mind by turning sin and scandal into a matter of mirth and mockery. It was not, however, till the year 1809 that public compearances for rebuke were abolished in this parish, during the ministry of Mr. Tod, and it may interest some people to be told that this important change in our parochial discipline was brought about by Mr. Thomas Miller, younger, of Glenlee, who was at that time a member of the Mauchline Kirk Session.

But although it was so long before public rebukes were discontinued in Mauchline there was a somewhat memorable protest made against them nearly seventy years before their abolition. This protest was made by a hoary headed sinner, whose name need not be divulged. He seems to have occupied a good social position, and to have had cultured notions on some things. But every now and again he fell under scandal, and times beyond number he was cited to appear before the Kirk Session. For a long while he disregarded or evaded these citations, and the more he worried and outwitted the Session the more he chuckled and grinned. So unwearied and persistent, however, were the Session in renewing citations that he felt at length constrained to come to terms with his tormentors. First of all he tried the effect of a "partial confession," and when this device failed, he insisted that if any further acknowledgments were made by him he should be "treated to a gentlemanly punishment." And for once, in the course of his foolish life, he spoke wisely, and indicated the true principles on which Church discipline should be established : for if one of the chief ends of discipline is to reclaim people from evil ways, it is not by ridicule or wanton severity, but by love and entreaty, tenderness and earnest remonstrance, and what might be called Christian gentlemanliness, that that end must be sought.

Rebukes were, of course, spiritual sentences, and they were at times accompanied by other spiritual sentences, such as the lesser or the greater excommunication. The greater excommunication was a very serious matter. Down to the revolution it inferred severe civil penalties. By an Act of Parliament passed in 1573 excommunicated persons might be denounced as rebels and have their goods poinded. But they seldom were so denounced and despoiled. Except in the most violent times of civil and ecclesiastical strife, when passions were abnormally excited, it was rarely that the sentence of greater excommunication was passed, either with or without civil penalties. The execution of that sentence, however, was not altogether unheard of even in rural parishes. There is at least one instance of it recorded in the Session Registers of Mauchline. It was on a man who in 1750 had, to use the words of the record, been found guilty of "cursing his mother in very shocking terms, and otherwise using her most barbarously," and had also, in addition to these offences, been guilty of persistent contumacy and contempt of the Church courts. The cursing of parents, as was shewn in a previous lecture, was not only considered a very gross form of sin, but by an Act of Parliament passed in the reign of Charles the Second, it was declared to be a crime worthy of death. Contumacy, again, is an offence which no constituted Church can put up with. If allowed, it would undo all authority and frustrate all discipline. The Presbytery of Ayr, therefore, in the case remitted to them from Mauchline in 1751 did "unanimously agree that the man be summarily excommunicated, and appointed Mr. Auld to intimate the said sentence of the greater excommunication between and next meeting of Presbytery, when he is to report his diligence." In the records of the Presbytery of Ayr there is mention made of another sentence of excommunication that was passed on a Mauchline man. This was in the year 1650, and the offences libelled were incest and disobedience to the minister, or, in other words, incest and contumacy. [Strictly speaking, the Parish of Som is entitled to the credit of this incestuous person, as he hailed from that part of Mauchline Parish which is now, and has for 200 years been, called Sorn or Dalgain.] As part of the procedure then customary in such cases the Presbytery ordered the " said excommunication to be intimated next Sabbath by all the brethren,'' that is by all the ministers within the bounds, from their respective pulpits. In the Session records of Galston there is an interesting account of a process of excommunication instituted in 1638, the year in which the National Covenant was revived and reframed, against a man named Mitchell "for not subscryving the covenant, not keiping the kirk, refusing the communion, and uther faults." Three separate times prayers were offered for the man, and then he was summoned to appear before the Presbytery. In the end "he referred himself to the will of the Session," and so escaped the extreme sentence of the Church. In his case, therefore, we have not an account of the full process of excommunication in those days nor of the process of removing the excommunication. This latter process, as might be expected, was at one time a very severe piece of discipline. The General Assembly in 1569-70 ordained that excommunicated persons not fugitive from the laws, and suiting to be received by the kirk, should " stand bareheaded at the kirk door every preaching day betwixt the assemblies, secluded from prayers before and after sermons, and then enter the kirk and sit in the public place bareheaded all the time of the sermons, and depart before the latter prayer." [Previous to 1571 "all adulterers, murtherers, incestuous persons, and uthers committers of hainous crymes," were required to present themselves to the General Assembly "to resave their first injunction," and to return to the following General Assembly "in linen clothes" and receive a second admonition. It was ordained, however, in 1571, that "as divers of the saids offenders are far distant frae the places of Generall Assemblies, and uthers for poverty and deidlie feids may not nor dare not travell through the countrie to present themselves before the saids Assemblies," all such offenders should in future be called by Superintendents and Commissioners of Provinces "to compeir before them in their Synodall conventions, to be halden by them twyse in the yeir, to receave and take their iujunctions, conforme to the order usit before the Generall Assemblies in all sorts." In 1588 a further relaxation of discipline was allowed by the Assembly, and adulterers, homicides, &c, were permitted to give satisfaction to the Kirk "before the Presbyteries, in such forme as they were accustomit before the Synodalls.' -Book of Universal Kirk.]

The sentence of lesser excommunication meant suspension from the Lord's table, and it was a matter of not infrequent occurrence. It is not, however, to be confounded with refusal to grant a token of admission to the Lord's table. That refusal was extended to all that were under any scandal and had not made satisfaction to the Kirk Session. But the lesser excommunication was a special sentence appended to a rebuke. It was intended to shew that the offence censured was in the eye of the Kirk Session heinous in character, not to be all at once forgotten, and that the offender was not fit to be a worthy communicant till a different spirit came over him. It was a sentence also that had to be publicly intimated, and one from which relaxation was not to be granted till the Session were satisfied of the knowledge, seriousness, and reformation of the persons desiring release.

Besides spiritual sentences, such as admonitions and excommunications, Kirk Sessions were in the way long ago of inflicting civil punishments on delinquents. Indeed it may be said that so interwoven are things civil and things ecclesiastic, things spiritual and things social, that to be declared under scandal or to be suspended from the privileges of the Lord's table is itself a species of social ostracism. And in one of the old minutes of our Kirk Session, a minute of date 1705, there is to be found a very apposite expression illustrative of this fact. Two persons "appearing penitent according to the view of man," were absolved, says the minute, from their scandal "and received into society again." [The expresbion "received into the society of the Kirk as a lively member thereof" occurs in the old deliverances of the General Assembly regarding absolution from scandal. — Universal Kirk, 45.] But besides the social degradation that accompanied spiritual sentences, there were civil punishments expressly imposed on offenders by Kirk Sessions. This circumstance was made a matter of accusation against the Presbyterians by Maxwell, Bishop of Ross, in a book called Issachar's Burden, and the truth of it was vehemently denied by Baillie in his historical vindication of the government of the Church of Scotland. What Baillie says is very notable and well worthy of quotation. "No Church assembly in Scotland," he says, "assumes the least degree of power to inflict the smallest civil punishment upon any person : the General Assembly itselfe hath no power to fine any creature so much as one groat. [In the Second Book of Discipline agreed upon in the General Assembly, 1578, it is stated that the office of the Christian Magistrate in the Kirk is "to assist and manteine the discipline of the Kirk, and punish them civilly that will not obey the-censure of the same, without confounding alwayis the ane jurisdiction with the uther."] It is true the lav/es of the land appoint pecuniary mulcts, imprisonment, joggs, pillories, and banishment for some odious crimes, and the power of putting these laws in execution is placed by the Parliament in the hands of the inferior magistrates .... . . . ordinarily some of these civill persons are ruling Elders and sit with the Eldership : So when the Eldership have cognosced upon the scandall alone of criminal persons and have used their spiritual censures only to bring the party to repentance, some of the ruling Elders, by virtue of their civil office or commission, ["In Boroughs it was the almost invariable custom to have some of the Elders chosen from among the Magistrates. This circumstance connected with the nature of the offences usually tried and the punishments decreed against them by the legislation, led to that apparent confounding of the two jurisdictions which is apt to strike those who happen to look into the ancient records of Kirk Sessions as an anomaly and a contradiction to the principles of the Presbyterian Church."— M'Crie's Life of Melville, Vol. L, p. 335.] will impose a mulct or send to prison or stocks, or banish out of the bounds of some little circuit, according as the Act of Parliament or Council do appoint it. But that the Eldership should impose its ecclcsiastick and spiritual power for any such end none of us doe defend."

According to Baillie, it is only the civil magistrate that can legally impose any civil punishment. And we have seen how frequently the Kirk Session of this Parish referred matters to the civil magistrate in the case of people's squatting in the Parish without testimonials, or refusing to comply with the orders of the Church. There was an old Act of Parliament which empowered Sheriffs of counties to appoint Session bailies in Parishes that were unblest with any resident magistrate. These Session bailies were elders that had commission to put certain laws affecting public morals, such as the laws against profaneness, into execution. It thus happened, as Baillie says, that in some cases where Kirk Sessions imposed spiritual censures an elder in the Session simultaneously imposed a civil punishment. In 1648 the General Assembly recommended that use should be made of the Act of Parliament, 1645, "for having magistrates and justices in every congregation," and that "each magistrate in every congregation exact and make compt to the Session" of the sums payable according to Act of Parliament for the several offences liable to fine. And how the Act of Parliament and the Act of Assembly were sometimes executed will be seen from the following extract from the Burgh Records of Glasgow in 1649. At a meeting of Town Council that year it was agreed that appointment be made to certain persons "quha ar upon the Session, that they, in absence of the present magistratis, have commission to exerce the civille power requirit against delinquentis and uthers lyable to censure that come before that judicatories In the Session Records of Mauchline there is no reference, so far as I have observed, to any magistrate under the designation of Session bailie, but that there were Session bailies in many parishes in Ayrshire both in the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries is beyond doubt. In 1698 an order was minuted by the Presbytery of Ayr that " each minister in the Presbytery is to use his endeavours to have a magistrate in their Paroch elected by the Session, having deputation from the Sheriff according to law." The Synod of Glasgow and Ayr about the same date or shortly afterwards passed an ordinance to the same effect, and in 1700 this Act was read in the Presbytery of Ayr, and each of the members of Presbytery was severally asked whether there were Session bailies in his Parish or not. The minutes of Presbytery state that most part of the ministers reported that they had such magistrates in their Parishes, and those who had them not were enjoined to do what they could to get magistrates in their Sessions appointed. [In the records of Fenwick Parish there are several notices of the election of "a Civil magistrate for concurring with the Session to the bearing down of scandal." The election was made by the Heritors and Elders, and in one instance at least after the election was made, a petition was presented to the Earl of Eglincon, " Bailzie Principal of Cunningham, for a commission" in lavour of the person chosen to exercise the office. A minute in the Records of Sorn Parish (printed in Paterson's History of Ayrshire) states that in 1700 Hugh Mitchell of Delgain was, "according to the 31st Act of the present Session of Parliament," named and chosen magistrate for the Parish to carry said Act into effect—Sir George Campbell of Cessnock, Sheriff Principal, having given him full powers.] We have seen how difficult it was long ago to prevail on people to accept the office of Elder, and when we consider both the restraints and the labours imposed on Elders we can understand why there should have been such reluctance. But it might have been thought that every person in every Parish would have been ambitious to be made a bailie. Yet it was not so. In 1700 the minister of Riccarton, at a Presbyterial visitation of his Parish, reported that "any who were pitched upon would not condescend to be their Session bailie," and that the Heritors undertook the duty by course. The reluctance shewn in 1700 by respectable persons in Riccarton to accept the office of Session bailie seems also to have been found in some other Parishes, for in December of the same year the Presbytery thought fit to delay enforcing the Act of Synod about the appointment of magistrates in Sessions, "till a new Act of Parliament made thereanent came forth more full, to make the nomination of the magistrates effectualle." This desired compulsory Act of Parliament never did come forth, and the difficulty of finding Session bailies increased year after year. In 1723 the Presbytery of Ayr were again exercised about this want in their Parochial equipment and a committee of Presbytery was " appointed to wait on the Earl of Loudoun, principal Sheriff, to try if he would give a deputation to some fitt person in each Session within the bounds who have not magistrates in the Paroch already," but his Lordship told the committee that he had some difficulties in the matter, and would have to give consideration to these. [In 1717 a deputation from the General Assembly attended at Court to represent the grievances of the Church. This deputation "demanded the restoration of those laws for enforcing the judgments of the ecclesiastical courts by the eivil power which had been so adroitly cast out of the statute book in the adjustment of the Revolution settlement. But the statesmen repelled the proposal with a brief emphasis."—Burton, VIII. The views of churchmen and statesmen were evidently at that date pretty wide apart. Hence Lord Loudon's difficulties.] We shall not be far wrong if we say that this was the date at which the office of Session bailie practically ceased to be recognised in Ayrshire, and we can understand why we never read of a Session bailie in Mauchline. There was no need for one. There was a resident Burgh bailie, and possibly there were among the heritors other local justices. In a minute of Session in 1696 it is stated that the Session "made application to Netherplace, being present, as one of their members, that he as Sheriff Depute and magistrate in the bounds would take notice of the contumacy" of certain persons named as being under discipline.

There can be no doubt that whether Kirk Sessions had constituent bailies or not, they did inflict civil penalties both " pecunial" and corporal. They ordered fines to be paid for particular offences, and they increased fines at their own discretion. In very old times the first thing required of persons charged with scandals was to find a caution that they would "satisfy the Kirk both in penalty and repentance." The Galston Records shew that this was the uniform practice in Galston Parish during the Episcopal times before 1638, and that the practice had not altogether died out till at least 1644, if not later. So much store too was at one time set on the penalty, that delinquents were not allowed to declare their penitence till they had paid their appointed fines. In 1633 some long-tongued people in Galston were found guilty of slander, and had to satisfy the Kirk in both the spiritual and civil forms of satisfaction. The one form of satisfaction, however, had to be given before the other was accepted, and the delinquents were ordered by the Session "before they go to the hie place to lay down ye penaltie, ylk is decernit to be 5, ilk ane of thame." It is very probable that the assumption of civil power by Kirk Sessions was more common in the Episcopal times before the second Reformation of 1638 than in Presbyterial times since, but a claim to the inheritance of Peter's sword as well as Peter's keys was by no means confined to any Episcopal epoch in the history of the Church of Scotland. Long after the overthrow of Episcopacy in 1638 we find Kirk Sessions ordering and ordaining penalties to be paid by transgressors.

The most common form of corporal punishment that Church Courts in this country inflicted was confinement for an hour or two in the jougs. These jougs were iron collars that were put round the necks of delinquents. They were part of the paraphernalia of every church long ago. Sometimes they were fixed in a pillar at the church gate, sometimes in a tree in the church yard, and sometimes in the wall of the church itself, at the side of the principal door. At Fenwick, the jougs may still be seen dangling on the church wall about five feet from the ground, and in the old Session Records of that interesting Parish there are cases to be found of culprits being appointed to "stand in the joges from eight till ten, and thence go to the place of repentance within yc kirk." It was only in extreme cases, however, that Kirk Sessions had recourse to the jougs. In 1661 the patience of the Kirk Session of Rothesay was sorely tried by an inebriate member of their congregation, who would not by any amount of persuasion or rebuke be induced to live soberly. As a last resource the Session warned her, that "if hereafter she should be found drunk, she would be put in the joggs and have her dittay written on her face." That there were jougs in Mauchline as well as in other uncivilised places two hundred years ago is quite certain, but the only reference to them that I have observed in the Session Records is an entry of payment of 1 16s. in 1681 "for a lock to the bregan and mending it." The word bregan, or, as it is spelt in Jamieson's Dictionary braidyeanc, f was the common word in Ayrshire for jougs, and the fact that the Mauchline Session were in 1681 keeping the lock of the bregan in order, is proof that the bregan was at that date either in use or kept for use when occasion should require. In the Session Records of Galston there are more explicit references than in ours to the bregan or bredyane and the purpose for which it was meant. In 1628 the Session of Galston passed an Act, that "gif the man fornicator be responsible (that is, have money) and the woman not, the man shall satisfie for baith, and gif the woman be responsible and the man not, then and in that caice the woman shall pey and satisfie for baith. And gif naither the man nor the woman be responsible, they shall stand twa several Sabbaths in the bradzane and uther twa days with thair lynning claiths in the public place of repentance." In 1640 a case occurred in which a poor frail girl was found by the Session of Galston to be not responsible, and, "not having silver to pey her penalties, the Sessioune ordainit her to stand in the bredyane conforme to ane former act maid thereanent." In 1651 the horrors of the breggan were threatened by the Session of Galston for what might now-a-days be reckoned a smaller offence. One John Persene appeared before the Session and confessed that he had been absent from church for the space of five weeks. For this neglect of ordinances he was "injoyned to apeir in the public place of repentance and there to be publicly rebuked, with certificatione that if he be found to be two Sabbaths together absent fra the church he shall be put in the breggan." In Sorn parish, too, as well as in Galston, profanation of the Sabbath was occasionally punished by a lock up in the breggan; but in Sorn the punishment was inflicted in the orthodox way by a magistrate. The record bears that in 1698 a Sabbath breaker "was delated by authority of two magistrates, James Farquhar of Gilmillscroft and Adam Aird of Katarin, and was by them put in the jougges from the ringing of the first to the ringing of the third bell, and then "(that is, to use a common but incorrect phrase, when the church went in) " appeared for rebuke before the congregation."

Another civil penalty imposed by Kirk Sessions on delinquents was fines, although, strictly speaking, it was only the civil magistrate that could legally inflict and exact the payment of these. But if no magistrate was present in a Kirk Session, it saved trouble to all parties when the Kirk Session just stated what the fines were and took them direct from the delinquent's own hands. In most cases the amount of fine exigible for special offences was fixed by Act of Parliament, and appointed to be handed over for pious uses to the Kirk Session of the parish where the offence was committed. It was not unusual, therefore, for Kirk Sessions to minute, "mulcted in terms of Act of Parliament" 4 or 2, as the case might be.

It must be admitted, also, that Kirk Sessions were fond of mulcting and fining, and for a reason that does them no discredit. The fines went for the good of the parish, and especially for behoof of the poor/f and at a time when there was no assessment levied for the poor, and church door collection were inadequate to meet the wants of the needy, Kirk Sessions were disposed to take advantage of all lawful means in their power for relief of the indigent. In 1755, in the days of Mr. Auld, who was a good friend to the poor, and always on the look-out for their welfare and interest, the Session of Mauchline minuted that "considering how much vice and immorality of various kinds abound among us, notwithstanding the many good laws we have for checking and discouraging the same, and being sensible that the not putting of the said laws into execution is in a great measure owing to the negligence and remissness of Kirk Sessions in discharging their duty, whereby among other evils it comes to pass that the poor are robbed of their right, and defrauded of that necessary subsistence which they are entitled to by law, in remedy whereof, the Session resolve to be more strict in adhering to these laws for the future, and particularly do hereby enact and ordain, that the full fines appointed by Act of Parliament, Charles II., Par. 1, Sess. 1st, Chap. 38, against offenders specified therein, shall be exacted by the Kirk Treasurer from each of the said specified delinquents before they be absolved." Even in 1809, when Mr. Millar, younger, of Glenlee, proposed the abolition of public rebukes in Mauchline, except in cases of very gross scandal, he appended to his motion, and doubtless from charitable motives, that larger fines should be exacted in the way of discipline. [Among the sins laid by the Cameronians in 1742 to the charge of the Church of Scotland was "a virtual sale of indulgences by receiving money payments as a substitute for ecclesiastical penance." This was not alleged to be a common practice, but was the practice of the kirk treasurer in Edinburght. (Uurton's History, viii. 411.) In 1751 a tailor from Riccarton appeared before the Kirk Session of Galston craving absolution for a sin committed before his marriage, and "begging to be absolved from the disgrace of a public appearance, as his wife was dead." The Session allowed absolution after one appearance in public, "for the peculiar circumstances of the case, upon his giving a present to the poor," and to that offer the tailor thankfully agreed.] Every one knows that Kirk Sessions now-a-days are very glad to be relieved from dealing with cases of scandal, and very happy to let such cases be disposed of, when it can be done legally, by neighbouring Parishes. But once it was different, and for the very intelligible reason that there was then a question of pounds, shillings, and pence involved in the matter. In 1785 a man applied to the Kirk Session of Mauchline for leave to go to Sorn to make satisfaction for a sin he had committed in that Parish. The Session, however, declared themselves "unanimously of opinion, that the issue of the scandal belonged to Machline," and they refused to grant the favour craved, unless the petitioner paid "his penalty to the poor of this Parish."

As might be imagined, cases sometimes occurred in which the customary and legal fines were greater than delinquents could afford to pay. In such cases Kirk Sessions exercised a wise and generous discretion in modifying the mulct. In 1686, for instance, a man that had been fined in the Kirk Session of Mauchline in 20 was let off for \z. Even Mr. Auld sometimes relaxed his rigorous rule. In 1776, Racer Jess offered half a crown in payment of her penalty, and "the Session considering her poverty and that she had got no assistance in maintaining her bastard child, which the alleged father continues to disown, accepted the same." And for other reasons than the poverty of a delinquent fines were remitted. Good conduct on particular occasions was taken into consideration, so that Kirk Sessions in being a terror to evil doers should also be a praise to them that do well. In 1671, a man named Johnston had his penalties discharged altogether by the Kirk Session of Mauchline, because of "some services done to the Parish at the re-entry of the minister." A promise of service was also in some instances accepted in lieu of money, as in Galston in 1640, when a man gave signs of repentance "and promised staines for bigging of the bridge for his penaltie."

All these instances of leniency may be regarded as very amiable and commendable, but Kirk Sessions at times made compromises that are scarcely defensible on the score of justice. In 1732, a person under fama in Mauchline offered to pay half a guinea to the poor and stand one day in the place of repentance, if by that means her scandal would be removed, and the Kirk Session considering that no guilt had been proven against the woman accepted the offer. Plainly there should have been guilt either proved or confessed before a fine was accepted or a rebuke administered, and I cannot but think, therefore, that the Session was in this instance guilty of taking undue advantage of amiability. In 1735, an important personage from Cumnock, who had occasion to give satisfaction to the Kirk Session of Mauchline, pled that " he was frequently abroad, and craved therefore to be absolved on his appearing one day, forenoon and afternoon, before the congregation, and paying a fine of 16 Scots, otherwise he would pay the ordinary and appear three days.'' It is, perhaps, owing to the way in which this offer is worded that it has an ugly look of mingled threats and bribery. The Session probably put the offer in another way before their minds, for it is stated that, after reasoning, a vote was taken and the motion to accept was carried. In 1637, the Kirk Session of Galston were petitioned by a delinquent to "licentiat him to stand in the permitted place in his ordinary habit, and enjoin him to pey the greater penaltie." In considering this request the Session minuted a very ingenuous confession that they were sorely in need of "present moneyie," and they passed a resolution therefore to accept the offer, and enjoin the payment of 40s. extra, besides the cost of "ane sheit, quhilk wes gevin to a puir deid bodie."

There was sometimes a disposition shewn by delinquents to regard the payment of a fine as all the satisfaction they had to give for an offence. They thought the fine a complete condonation of the misdeed, and that it inferred removal of scandal. They did not realise the fact that they were members of two separate corporations—the State and the Church—and that they had to answer to the State for crimes, and to the Church for scandals, or in other words that they were subject to both fines and censures. In 1752, a farmer named Goudie was cited to appear before the Session of Mauchline, on a charge of having "clandestinely, and without giving the least warning of his evil design," knocked down a man in the village by a stroke on the head, and of having afterwards denied the fact with imprecations or curses. Mr. Goudie compeared and confessed himself guilty of the act of assault, but professed to have no recollection of having uttered any maledictions. "At the same time he entered his protest against the Session, for meddling in that affair after the Civil Magistrate had fined him for it, and appealed to the Presbytery, craving an extract of the process, which was allowed him." The result of his appeal can easily be conjectured. He got a new wrinkle in Church law which he was not likely to forget. He was rebuked in the Presbytery, and his rebuke was ordered to be intimated to the Congregation of Mauchline the following Sabbath.

There is an old proverb that prevention is better than cure, and Kirk Sessions long ago were alive to that fact. They may at times have been more inquisitorial than was prudent (or would now be prudent), and at other times more rigorous in their censure than was expedient; but it was always their professed and doubtless their sincere desire, to repress and restrain sin, and promote the practice of holiness. They were diligent in warning therefore as well as in rebuking. In 1696, for instance, the Kirk Session of Mauchline, "considering what scandalous practices some people were guilty of, as in particular, frequent absence from church, laying out cloathes to dry on the Lord's day, and suffering their children to play together in flocks on the said day, thought it fit that the people guilty of such practices should be admonished out of the pulpit, and cautioned against them for the time to come." In 1709 again there is a minute in the records that "the minister is to be minded next Sabbath to intimate to all ins in town not to give drink to excess to any upon any day, and especially to souldiers." Of course it may be presumed that in the days of Mr. Auld's wakeful ministry the prevention scheme would be zealously worked. And so it was. In 1782 it is recorded that the Kirk Session, "taking into consideration the cruel and inhuman custom of cock-fighting at fasten e'en, [Fasten e'en, the night before Lent,—the last night on which good cheer was allowed by the Catholics till the forty days' fast was over,—was in the time of Burns observed by Presbyterians as a night of extra jollity.] do forbid the same, and order their officer to take notice to give up the names of such as transgress ; and particularly, they order the schoolmaster to take care that none under his charge do provide or bring cocks for that purpose, and that there be no vacancy in the school that day."

In 1788 the prevalence of bastardy in the Parish had become the subject of remark and comment. Burns had risen into fame, and his poems were widely read ; and public attention was directed to local scandals, whether real or fictitious. There were not a few people ready to cry out against the hollowness of religious professions. There were enormous gatherings at communions, devotional exercises both in public and in private were frequent and long, and unmistakable zeal on the part of Kirk Sessions was shown to cleanse the cup and platter of the Church. But still there were a great many bad coppers in the country, and there was much vice both openly and secretly practised.

The Kirk Session were not undisturbed about this. On the contrary, they thought it was a most humiliating and sorrowful fact, and as was shewn in a previous lecture they drew up in regard to it a solemn admonition and a stringent resolution, which they ordered to be publicly read from the pulpit. Two years before this, they had also ordered a similar admonition and resolution, in regard to Sabbath breaking, to be intimated. And this should shew that in dealing with particular persons for breaches of the Sabbath, the Session of Mauchline were not so much moved by "pique and malice" as has by some people been supposed and represented. Their procedure may in some instances have been rigid and unwise, but it was at least directed without partiality or respect of persons. Their declaration on Sabbath observance is worthy of quotation, both because it gives a picture of the times in which Burns lived— possibly an ex parte and a coloured picture, but still a picture that as students of these times we cannot leave out of account —and because it shows the zeal and vigour with which the Kirk Session endeavoured to put down every form of what they considered unchristian conduct in the parish. The declaration is dated 23rd April, 1786, and its tenor is as follows:—"The Kirk Session of Machline are informed that the Lord's day is grossly profaned in this place by both men and women, particularly the younger sort, meeting together in parties and cabals after sermon, and are seen walking and traversing the fields and highways in an indecent manner on the evening of that holy day. The Session therefore think it their duty to warn the people in this congregation, young and old, against the sin of Sabbath-breaking, and earnestly exhort parents and heads of families to command their children, servants, and all within their gates, to keep holy the day of the Lord as he has commanded, and particularly to refrain from the profanation of this holy day by idly vaguing together and by profane worldly conversation. And the members of the Session and other heads of families are desired to take notice of, and inform against, such profaners of the Sabbath, that they be spoken to privately, or censured, as the Session or Presbytery shall judge proper." It cannot be doubted that the framers of this declaration acted on the high principle propounded by the prophet, "Oh son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore if thou wilt not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, and he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity, but thy soul will be delivered."

We have now considered the main questions regarding parochial discipline by Kirk Sessions : the mode of inquisition adopted, the extent of jurisdiction claimed, and the censures inflicted by these local courts. As a sequel to these discussions we have now to enquire what amount of deference was paid to the authority of Kirk Sessions by the general public long ago.

It is customary to represent Kirk Sessions as having in olden times lorded over congregations and parishes with despotic authority. And there is doubtless some truth in the statement. The Kirk Session, as I said before, was in a very wide sense of the term the local authority in the parish. And, as a rule, people were not only subject to the Kirk Session, but they stood in awe of the Kirk Session. It is the case, nevertheless, that the mandates and citations of Kirk Sessions were not in every instance obeyed obsequiously. In 1734 a self-possessed young woman appeared before the Session of Mauchline in response to a summons, and on being asked what she considered an impolite question, drew herself up and "said that time would tell." Instead of taking this malapertness good humouredly the Session pronounced it contempt of court, and minuted that they would apply to "the public magistrate," if the damsel would not shortly give them satisfaction. Three months passed away and there was no sign of either time telling or of the lady showing any disposition to satisfy Sessional curiosity. A second summons was therefore served upon mademoiselle to compear again before the Lords of the Congregation, but this summons she disregarded altogether. One of the Elders was thereupon deputed "to speak to the Bailie anent her," and at a subsequent meeting of Session the Elder reported that the Bailie's advice was to try her once more with a citation, and if she then failed to compear, he would interfere magisterially and put "his interloquitor in execution against her"! About forty years before that occurrence there was another case of a Parishioner declining to appear before the Session of Mauchline in answer to citation, and in that case the man was simply "remitted (or as it should been said 'committed') to the civil magistrate, because the Session had sufficient evidence of his intention to delude and evade them." The man, however, who was a reckless slippery fellow that reverenced nobody, and had not the least regard for his own word, seems to have eluded and evaded the magistrate also ; for the Session some months afterwards declared him contumacious, and instructed Ballochmyle, junior, to report his contumacy to the Sheriff. Kirk Sessions had also at times to call in the aid of the civil magistrate to enforce their orders and sentences. In the year 1691 a number of matrimonial consignations became forfeit in Mauchline. They had never been deposited. There had only been a bond or a caution given for their payment, if payment should become necessary. The Session, therefore, had not the means of executing their sentence of forfeiture by simply retaining the deposits in their possession. They had to ask cautioners and accepters of bills to fulfil their engagements, and they found on the part of these cautioners and bill accepters more reluctance to do this than might have been expected of honourable men. The Session accordingly passed two resolutions. One of these had for its object the prevention of similar defalcations in future, and the tenor of that resolution was, that neither bond nor caution for consignations would henceforth be received, but that all persons who had consignations to make would have to deposit the sums required. The other resolution was to take steps for the recovery of such consignations as had been already forfeited, and the tenor of this resolution was, that all "forefaulters of consignation be summoned before the barronie court, or their cautioners to be legallie persued, for the recovery of the samine to the Session." In 1697 another case occurred in which the Session of this Parish had to invoke the magistrate's assistance in carrying out a sentence of theirs. A young woman was that year complained of by the Session, for not keeping her appointment and promise to appear for rebuke in the public place of repentance, and for "feigning sickness" as an excuse for her non-appearance. For so doing the Session judged her contumacious, and instructed the minister to speak to the magistrate about her. But in this case, and in many similar cases which occurred from time to time, the Kirk Session might have drawn an obvious inference and taken a salutary lesson to heart regarding the rigour of church discipline. To people of the least sensibility a public compearance was a sore humiliation. It was so sore that they feigned sickness to avoid it, and perhaps it was not a feigned but a real sickness that possessed them. They were made to sorrow with a sorrow that worked death, [How the shame of public humiliation afflicted some people may be seen from the account of Paul Methven's contrilionin 1566 for dishonouring his cloth by a sin that involved deposition from the ministry and excommunication. ''He prostrate himself before the haill brethren in the General Assembly with weeping andhowling." Book of Univ. Kirk. In his survey of Ayrshire Aiton avers that public penance on the repentance stool led to a good deal of child murder.] and in the interests of religion as well as in pity to individual persons, it was highly expedient that such a form of censure as involved shame and ridicule more than womanly feelings could bear, should have been abolished. Another kind of sentence that Kirk Sessions had sometimes to seek magisterial assistance to carry out, was parochial exile. Kirk Sessions, as we have seen, were very careful to exclude from the parish all persons that they thought would not prove respectable parishioners. People from Lesmahagow or Ecclefechan, or in fact from any place whatever, near or remote, were not allowed to squat in the parish at their own sweet wills without producing testimonials of character. The Session had accordingly to give intruders notice to quit. But where were the poor creatures to go? They were bidden move to the other side of the river, and when they did so they were told on the other side to go back by the way they came. They were thus in a strait betwixt two. They sat still, therefore, and by no amount of sessional persuasion or sessional authority would they be induced to rise and walk. The civil magistrate in these cases was appealed to, and the magistrate issued an interlocutor which in substance declared (what was very hard), that people's right of habitation was subject to ecclesiastical permission.

Delinquents had sometimes the hardihood to show positive insolence to the high authority of the Kirk Session. [In 1645 there was a woman brought before the Session of Fen wick for "upbraiding of the Session from off the public place of repentance, when she should have made confession of her fault." The following year another offender in the same place was called to book for "unbeseeming speeches on the place of repentance," and in 1649 several people were rebuked for "extenuating their fault on the place of repentance." In Galston, in 1640, one John Wylie, who had confessed that "he gave his wyff a shott with his hand upon ye Sabbath day," came up for penance, but "the said John, upon the high place, argued with the minister, speaking something of the gentlemen and noblemen of the paroch, and of new toyes, quhilk could not be cleirlie understood." The said John was therefore ordained to come back next Sabbath to the same place, and "there to confess and purge himself, that he spak nothing of the noblemen and gentlemen of the paroch in raising of new toyes, and that if he spak onie thing of them he did it out of a rash humour, not knowing what he said, and so craved God and them forgiveness." A similar case of insolence occurred in Galston in 1693.]

In 1732 the officer reported to the Session of Mauchline that on his citing a parishioner to appear before her betters she saucily said to him that "she would not go the length of her foot.'' And grosser cases of insolence than that sometimes occurred. The sectarian soldiers of Cromwell, we are told, used, when in Scotland, to shew their contempt for Presbyterian discipline by pulling down repentance stools or mounting them for sport when they went to church. And similar feats have been heard of in times much less distant. Many a repentance stool has been maimed and mutilated, dislocated and destroyed, cast down and trampled on, both in mirth and wrath, by people that bore it a grudge for no greater offence than offering them a seat when they were bidden stand before the congregation. In our own Parish Records there is a case of this sort reported. In 1675 deposition was made to the Session by John Campbell that one Sunday about four in the morning he was sent for to the house of Matthew Campbell, a vintner, and on going there he found three men sitting bareheaded. On making inquiry he learned that their bonnets had been poinded for payment of their potations. John, in a fit of generosity which he afterwards had cause to regret, advanced them a mark-piece to clear their account and recover their caps. The three liberated lads in their gratitude to John for his generosity escorted him home with midnight honours: and when his door was opened John politely thanked his friends, and wished them good morning and a pleasant walk to their respective' lodgings. The revellers, however, in their maudlin affection were loath to part, and requested admittance into John's house. Such a dear amiable man too was John that he would fain have let them in, but his better half resented such an untimeous invasion of super exhilarated strangers, and told them it was late and her husband must go to his bed. "For this cause," says the minute of Kirk Session, "one of the three men cast down his benefactor at his own door," and then the whole party, staggering like landsmen aboard a schooner in a hurricane, made their way arm-in-arm for Netherplace. The story reached the ears of the Kirk rulers, and the roy-sterers being found guilty both of drunkenness and Sabbath breaking, were ordered to be publicly rebuked. The day for rebuke arrived and the three men, come to their sober senses, made their appearance at the place appointed. But sobriety does not bring with it every other form of good behaviour, nor does it by any means always put a man in a proper and civil frame of mind. Instead of shewing signs of penitence and humiliation, these sobered liquorers, say the Records, "did strive all the time to break the stools whereon they stood, and which accordingly they did." A most unchristian miscarriage surely! And that was just what the Session called this act of sacrilegious vandalism. But the Session took care that the three scorners should not be allowed to think they had scored a parochial triumph by their impudence, or that by playing pranks at the place of repentance people might laugh the pains out of penance. For attempting to cast ridicule on public reproof, the three delinquents were subjected to the greater penalty of lesser excommunication, and were left to learn at leisure, by the inconvenience of seclusion from Christian society, the folly as well as sin of poking fun at ecclesiastical authority. [Curate Calder tells a story which is meant to be marvellous, and may perhaps be only a fabrication, about a presumptuous fellow who went to the repentance stool and "behaved liker a light fool than a penitent sinner, for he powdered his wig and put on his new clothes, and almost stared the minister out of countenance." A much more astonishing thing than that, however, happened at Cumnock in 1643. A day of solemn humiliation had been appointed by either the Presbytery or the General Assembly, and one of the Elders in Cumnock chose to "misregard" it. For that offence he was ordered to submit to public rebuke, but instead of either submitting humbly to admonition or taking a resolute stand on some intelligible ground of principle against the sentence of the Session, he went to the " publict place of repentance with his head covered and with his sword about him!" His conduct was brought under the notice of the Presbytery at a Presbyterial visitation of the Parish, and for his folly and hardihood he was "suspended from the office of Eldership until the entry of a new minister or a new visitation." Not a very hard sentence for contemptuous conduct by one that was set for an example to the flock,]

Exhibitions of temper too were occasionally witnessed in the Kirk Session. In 1682 a credulous excitable man in this Parish had been taunted in jest by one of the Elders in a way that should have subjected the Elder to censure. Taking in earnest what was said in jest, the man flared up in an instant, reviled the Elder for all that was unmentionable, and swore by his Maker that he would not rest till he made the Elder's blood as cold as clay. For this outburst of foolish passion the man was summoned before the Session, and if he could only have restrained himself so far as to compear peaceably and tell his story correctly he would doubtless have received a fair hearing and a just sentence. But he was beside himself with rage, and he came to the Session like a man possessed with demons. Instead of waiting outside among the tombs, as the custom was, till he was called into the church, he went up to the door and thundered there as if he had come with fire and sword to take over the premises. And when at length he got admittance into the church, he bellowed like a madman, called the Elder who had insulted him a pestilent fellow, and swore in high terms that he would stand to every word he had previously said. The sequel is not worth mentioning, for the fact that I am at present concerned in shewing is merely that Kirk Sessions were not regarded with such reverence that they were always secure against acts of insolence. Even Mr. Auld, austere and authoritative, and every inch a minister as he was, did not escape an occasional insult in his Parish consistory. In 1784 the bellman was summoned before the Session for exacting some small charges he was not entitled to make. The bellman, however, thought he was justified in doing what he had done, and that he was very ill-used in being called in question for his conduct. Smarting under the pain of injured innocence, he incautiously let drop an oath in the audience of the Session. For that act of irreverence he was there and then rebuked. But the rebuke inflamed his resentment all the more, and a few weeks later at a meeting of Session he was again complained of for defaming the minister, and calling him a villain, with an adjective before it, the precise meaning of which is best known to theologians.

It is to be observed, however, that instances of contempt and insubordination to the Kirk Session's authority occurred only now and again, and that as a rule the Kirk Session enjoyed both the respect and the confidence of the people. One of the best proofs of this is the fact that fines were promptly paid by delinquents, although the legality of these fines might often have been contested. But delinquents, generally, and almost universally, felt that Kirk Sessions in administering discipline acted justly and with a view to public good, and offenders acquiesced accordingly in the sentences of Kirk Sessions when guilt was not disputed.

Seeing then that Kirk Sessions were in olden times so zealous both in the prevention and the repression of sin, and that they were armed with such large powers both for inquisition and punishment, it may now be asked what was the general state of morality over Scotland a hundred or two hundred years ago, compared with what it is at the present time.

We often hear it said at the present day that the people of Scotland are drinking themselves to death. And there doubtless is a great deal of drunkenness in the country. But it is now looked down upon. On the other hand drunkenness a hundred years ago was regarded as a jovial and gentlemanly thing, and it was not principle but poverty that restrained the masses from going to the same excesses as the gentry. In his traditions of Edinburgh Dr. Chambers says that "in the early part of last century rigour was in the ascendant in Scotland, but the free and easy comprised a considerable minority who kept alive the flame of conviviality with no small degree of success. In the latter half of the century—a dissolute era all over civilised Europe—the minority became the majority, and the characteristic sobriety of the nation's manners was only traceable in certain portions of society. In Edinburgh seventy years ago (which would be about 1780) intemperance was the rule to such a degree that exception could hardly be said to exist."

The newspaper record of divorces at the present day reveals an amount of domestic immorality and misery that would have been thought incredible had it not been brought to light. But old church registers have stories to tell quite as startling. In 1644, when the so-called Second Reformation was in its full glory, no fewer than thirteen couples appeared in sackcloth before the Presbytery of Ayr for literal breaches of the seventh commandment, and in 1643 there were at least eleven couples that for the like cause appeared before the same court in the like habit. What is still more astonishing, it was reported to the Presbytery of Ayr in 1690 that "a public brothel house was kept at Dalmellington." It may be presumed, however, that this social nuisance and source of moral corruption was but of brief continuance, for it is added in the records that the Presbytery appointed the minister of the parish "to write to the President for suppressing it." [By the old laws of Scotland adultery was punishable with death, and in a note to Creech's letters it is said that as recently as 1694 a man was hanged in Edinburgh for adultery, and his paramour was beheaded. In 1763, says Creech, the sin was very rare, and the sinner was boycotted ; in 1783 the sin was not uncommon in the Metropolis, and the sinner was received in society.]

The accounts of female termagancy in old records read very much like good jokes now, and we are amused to hear of women brought before magistrates for stoning men to the effusion of their blood and chasing them into their own houses. In point of fact, however, such incidents imply a fearful state of Amazonianism at the time they occurred, and few lovers of antiquity would care for a return of such ancient manners in Scotland.

But, to limit our enquiry, and come nearer home, let us consider what our own Session Records have to say about the state of morality in Mauchline parish at different dates. We may pass over all general statements made by the Kirk Session from time to time, because these only indicate opinions and are apt to be either over or under coloured, according to the spiritual temperament of those that penned them. But "facts are chiels that winna ding." Let us look then at some authentic facts bearing on the state of Parochial morality at different periods, and let us begin with the oldest period of which we have any extant Parochial record—the times of the covenants and the persecutions.

We are in the way of looking back to the Covenant times as to times that were specially distinguished for purity and piety, and were sanctified to an unusual degree by spiritual refreshing The Drumfork case, however, which has already been alluded to, shews that corruption and profanity, drunkenness and devilry, were not in the days of Charles II. confined to royal courts and London society, but were to be found as well in the country districts of Ayrshire, in the houses of farmers and bonnet lairds. And that the Drumfork squabble was not an exceptional manifestation of the life of that period, is made plain by another case which came before the Session of Mauch-line the same year, viz., in 1673. This was a case in which two men named Mershall, presumably brothers, were delated for fighting with and cursing each other. There would have been nothing strange in that, if the men had been a pair of village waifs, flushed by drink. But the men were men of some account. The one was a merchant and the other was a " nottar," who held the public office of Council Clerk ; and yet they had so little regard for decency, so little sense of dignity, and so little consideration of public opinion, not to say of brotherly relationship and Christian duty, that after falling out on some matter, they proceeded like a pair of modern roughs to settle their differences with fisticuffs and profanation. And not only so, but the fight was witnessed by a small and select group of spectators without a word of remonstrance. James Peathin and John Jamie both deponed to the Session that they saw the two brother burgesses, neither of them publicans albeit both of them sinners, sparring in a field, and not by way of friendly scientific contest, but in bona fide bloody conflict, beating and buffeting each other till failing strength or failing eyesight put an end to the melee. But, said Mr. Peathin, with the view of shewing that in this blackguardly business there was nothing unbecoming gentlemen or Christians or even Covenanters, "I don't remember hearing any particular oaths." "I heard the merchant," said Mr. Jamie, "swear by his Maker once—but that was all." The bailie of the burgh, John Richmond, was another spectator of the combat, and he deponed that he heard swearing on both sides, and yet, magistrate though he was, the resident justice in the place, he did not think proper to interfere with the disputants ; he looked on till he saw the end, smoked his pipe (very likely), and tapped out the dottle on his thumb nail without saying a word,—simply took mental note of what passed, and prepared himself to give evidence when called upon. Two elders were, "in virtue of their former oath," examined regarding the public character of the combatants, and these elders deponed that there was no use in trying to whitewash the delinquents, as if their recent outbreak were something exceptional, and not in keeping with the usual tenor of their lives, for despite their social position they were, both by habit and repute, ordinary swearers. This shews what Mauchline was, and what magistracy in Mauchline was, two hundred years ago.

And what was Mauchline one hundred years ago? It had an unhappy notoriety, we have seen, for one form of scandal. But what was the general state of moral conduct, moral feeling, and moral thought at that date? Were the people sober, peaceful, and industrious, or the reverse? It is of course only the misdeeds of the people that arc shewn in Session Records. The virtues of the people, save in respect of liberality at collections and attendance at communions, are not brought out there. But what appears in the Session Records shews beyond possibility of dispute that although the population of the parish was much less than it is now, and more agricultural, the people were nevertheless rougher, coarser grained, more insubordinate and more uncivilised than they are at the present day. Mr. Auld, in his account of the parish, written about 1790, laments the loss of its Burghal Charter, and hence of its village magistrate ; because he says there is a great deal of disorderly and riotous conduct that needs to be repressed. And the Session Records confirm Mr. Auld's statement. For although it is true that one swallow does not make summer, nor the presence of one lawless fellow in a parish prove that the whole parish is turbulent, we may yet draw general inferences from particular cases of misconduct. And the instances of turbulent behaviour that I shall now give, will probably satisfy any one who is willing to be convinced by evidence, that Mauchlinc a hundred years ago was not a Paradise of cither innocence or Christian virtue.

Tradesmen, who in Ayrshire are commonly called merchants, might, as I have said before, be expected from their social position to be favourable specimens of village manners. If merchants are found pestilent fellows, what must we not suppose people inferior in the social scale to be. Well, in 1771, one of the merchants of Mauchline, whose name need not be given, was libelled by the Kirk Session for two very grave offences. He was accused of "uttering and propagating erroneous opinions contrary to the word of God." He was accused also of " transgressing the second table of the moral law by beating, bruising, and defaming his neighbour." His chief heresies were a denial of the doctrine of original sin and a refusal to acknowledge some parts of the Scripture as the word of God. [There is a very remarkable likeness in the terms of this libel against the Mauchline merchant in 1771 to what is said about "Goudie's Bible" in the history of Kilmarnock: "Goudie, terror o' the Whigs, published Essays on various important subjects, moral and divine, being an attempt to distinguish true from false Religion. This book was nicknamed Goudie's Bible, and set forth peculiar views respecting original sin and particular portions of Scripture." Goudie's book, however, was not published till 1780, whereas the Mauchline merchant was libelled for heresy in 1771.] But although this merchant alleged himself to be untainted by original sin and professed to be wise above what was written, the terms of the libel served upon him, and which were proved against him, will shew that his practical code of morals was neither holy nor harmless, neither super-refined nor super-excellent in wisdom. After reciting the heresies he had vented, the libel proceeds to say :—"You did also in one or other of the months of May, June, or July, 1769, beat and bruise Henry Richmond in Mauchline to the danger of his life, according to proof led against you in the Sheriff Court of Ayr. You did again in one or other of the months of May, June, or July, 1770, attack James Lamie, merchant in Mauchline, at or near Hunter's yeards, and by the assistance of your son William did throw down the said James Lamie, and might have murdered him, had he not been relieved by some people who came thither. After that, you and your foresaid son did at Henry Richmond's midden throw the said James Lamie into the middenstead or hole, and abuse him in the dirt and might have put an end to his life had he not been again relieved. Lastly, when James Lamie told you that your horse was tethered on his possession of Hunter's yeards, as the marches had been pointed out by several witnesses, you said that some of the witnesses were damned already, and that if James Lamie lived he would see them all damned in a year or two, for they were like Ahab's witnesses hired and perjured." Of course we cannot suppose that all the merchants in the village were of a piece with this cross-grained and addle-headed unbeliever, but the fact that any well-to-do man, with a reputation to depend upon, could be found acting as this libelled madcap did, shews that there was very little surrounding culture and very little force of educated public opinion to which people in Mauchline felt themselves amenable.

A few years later, namely, in 1777, the Session were informed that a journeyman blacksmith in the village had been guilty of a series of outrages and acts of devilry which are thus recited : First, about the time of the June fair in 1776 he threatened to murder his wife, and was only prevented from doing so by the kirk officer's coming to her rescue: secondly, at Martinmas thereafter, he threatened to murder the kirk officer for interfering between him and his wife in their domestic quarrels : thirdly, about Ware last, he fought his cock with the minister's cock on a Sabbath day and during the time of divine service : and fourthly, at the Yule fair last, he took a hammer from the smithy, in order, as he said, to knock down all that came in his way, and he also ran through the streets with an open knife, swearing that he would rip up every man, woman, and child he met. This blacksmith may be considered as a sample of the village rowdy, and although rowdyism is personal and eccentric, not uniform and typical, his conduct will at least go a long way in proving that rowdyism in 1777 was more lawless and savage than it is now-a-days in small rural towns.

There is only one other illustration that I shall give of the worst forms of village life in Mauchline about a hundred years ago, and it may have interest as bearing upon one, at least, if not on two, of the poems of Burns. Among the masterpieces of the poet, the cantata entitled the Jolly Beggars is universally admitted to have a conspicuous place. The subject of the poem is in one sense repulsive. The characters depicted are the lowest of the low and the vilest of the vile, but they are delineated with inimitable power. Such as they were, the beggars and their chums are set before us ; and such a scene of rollicking mirth, boisterous revelry, and audacious profanity, lit up here and there with outbursts of the rarest eloquence and highest patriotism, as well as broadest humour and liveliest wit, has seldom been turned into shape by poet's pen. One of the most outstanding figures in the poem is a tozie drab of consummate impudence and shameless morals. That person, whoever she was, we must suppose was not a fictitious but a real character, whose lewd conduct the poet witnessed, and whose wanton words the poet heard. It may be impossible to identify her with any person of whom we have any record, but the person referred to in the minute of Session I am about to quote, might, so far as character went, have been the drab that sat for the portrait of the unblushing virago, who was not ashamed to tell that she had no remembrance of an innocent maidenhood. And in speaking for the moment somewhat harshly of this abandoned woman, or rather poor wretched creature, we may well ask what it is but Divine grace, in the shape of a more favoured outward lot and more civilising surroundings, that has made any of ourselves to differ from her. She was, as she tells us, a child of misfortune, and she might have said, as a poet of no mean order, who was also one of society's illegitimates, and who fell into evil habits of life, sadly said of himself—

"No mother's care
Sheltered my infant innocence with prayer,
No father's guiding hand my youth maintained,
Called forth my virtues, and from vice restrained."

But to return to the cantata and the drab. The date of the minute will shew that the person mentioned therein might have been, and probably was, in Poosie Nansie's house the night in which Burns and his friend were admitted to see and join in the beggars' carousals. The poem was written in 1785, that is in the autumn of 1785, "when lyart leaves bestrewed the yird," and " infant frosts began to bite." The date of the minute is the 6th March, 1786, and the woman mentioned in the minute is said to have been for more than sir months previous entertained by George Gibson and by another person called Black, who seems to have kept a house similar to Gibson's. But if there be any doubt about this woman's having been the tozie drab of the cantata, there can be no doubt of her having been the "jurr" referred to in Adam Armour's prayer. The scandalous conduct of this "jurr," as we know, led to a public demonstration of feeling in the village, in which demonstration Adam Armour took a prominent part, and for so doing was brought into trouble. Burns was ever ready to give a jocular turn to any mishap that befell his friends, and he accordingly wrote, under the title of "Adam Armour's Prayer," a satirical poem, in which he invoked the pains of everlasting torment on Adam's persecutors—"black Geordie," who was George Gibson, and his spouse, "auld drunken Nanse," who was Agnes Ronald. [In the admirable edition of Burns's poems published by Mr. Paterson, the Adam Armour of the prayer is said to have been in no way related to Jean Armour's family. The representatives of Jean's family tell me that they never heard of any Adam Armour in Mauchline in the days of Burns, except Jean's brother. In the Baptismal and Burial Registers of Mauchline Parish there is no trace of the birth of any Adam Armour in the parish between 1730 and 1786, except Jean's brother, who was born in February, 1771 ; and there is no trace of the death of any Adam Armour in the parish between 1786 and 1820. Adam Armour, Jean's brother, was just such a fellow as would be sure to be in a village row. He was fond of fun and mischief to the end of his days, and many queer stories are told of him. He was rather under middle size, but his being only fifteen years old in 1786 explains how he is called in the poem "little," and "scarce as lang's a guid kail whittle." In the edition of Burns's poems published in 1842 by Virtue, London, the editor, Allan Cunningham, states that he got the verses from Adam Armour, Jean's brother, and that Adam told him the circumstances in which the prayer originated.] The minute is interesting, therefore, as bearing on points of literary history, besides giving a picture of Mauchline town and Mauchline life a hundred years ago. Its date is 6th March, 1786, and its tenor is as follows:—"The members of the Kirk Session having seen a petition signed by the inhabitants of Machlin, to be presented to the Honble. Justices for preserving the peace of this place, do unanimously concur in the same, and beg leave to add the following particulars—That there is a vagrant woman called Agnes Wilson, of bad fame in the parish and places whence she came, who for more than six months past has been haunted and entertained by Elizabeth Black and George Gibson—That the bad reputation of this woman, as being lewd and immoral in her practices, has been the occasion of a late disturbance in this place, which the Session greatly disapprove of and resolve to inquire into— That it is the opinion of the Session that if this woman be allowed to continue here it will tend much to corrupt the morals of the youth and to disturb the peace of the whole inhabitants—That in these circumstances the Session think it their duty, in regard there is no magistrate in the place, to apply to the Honble. Justices to get the said woman removed —Lastly, that George Gibson and Elizabeth Black, who haunt and entertain in their houses such vagrant persons of suspicious and bad characters, may be laid under proper restrictions and obliged to secure and maintain the peace and safety of the neighbourhood under such legal penalties as to the honourable court shall appear relevant."

Looking then to the facts which these extracts reveal, we cannot doubt that two hundred years ago, and even one hundred years ago, there were in Mauchline parish elements of disorder and turbulence that are happily unknown at the present day. Whether there were more vice and secret sin is another matter, which no man that can't see through a millstone need attempt to discover. But it is clear that long ago the people of this parish were ruder, rougher, and coarser than they are now, and it is to be hoped that a hundred years hence the parish minister will be able to tell a parish audience that the progress noted from 1684 to 1784 and from 1784 to 1884 has been continued in an increasing ratio to 1984. The poet laureate has said in words which have long since become hackneyed by frequent use,

"That through the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widened by the process of the suns."

I would add, that the hearts and the habits of men, and the conditions and forms of human life are, like ripening fruit, all meliorating, too, with the same solar procession.

But to what has progress in civilization and good order been due in time past, and what is it that inspires us with hope for the continuance of that progress in time coming? All social progress is effected by social forces, and these forces are of two kinds—educative and repressive. The Church and Kirk Sessions in olden times made use of both forces to the best ot their judgment and the best of their means. The Church furnished pastors and doctors, ministers and readers, to instruct the people in the knowledge of religious truth. Aided by the Kirk Sessions of particular parishes the Church also set up schools for the instruction of youthhead, long before the State acknowledged responsibility for the education of the young. And the Church and Kirk Sessions were no less zealous in attempting to keep down disorders, and restrain vice and immoralities. It was for these ends that a rigid discipline was instituted and executed. The lawless and the ungodly were rebuked and censured, ostracised from society and suspended from the enjoyment of valued privileges, fined and jogged, made to go mourning in sackcloth, and subscribe bands of good behaviour.

It is to the use of similar forces that we still look for all social improvement. The educative forces are much stronger to-day than they were either one hundred or two hundred years ago Not only is school attendance made compulsory on all children, but there is a public opinion of such strength created by the diffusion of periodical literature that few men now-a-days dare to outrage society by the freaks and pranks, high jinks and low orgies, that were once commonly practised with impunity and without shame. And it is to the growth and culture of this public opinion that we must mainly look for the extirpation of some vices that still infest the land, such as profane swearing and the nasty calumnies of low correspondents in low newspapers. And not only are the educative forces stronger to-day than they once were, but the repressive forces are stronger also. The modes of repression are changed, and changed for the better. It is true that Church discipline is relaxed. But civil government is much firmer, and a system of rural police has been established, which for vigilance, inquisition, and probation of crime, far surpasses the Kirk Session in its palmiest days. When Mr. Auld wrote his account of the parish, nearly a hundred years ago, he expressed his sorrow that the old charter of the burgh had been destroyed, and consequently that the people of the town had lost their ancient right of choosing magistrates. "This," he says, "is much to be regretted, as that privilege, if properly exercised, might contribute much to the public good by checking riots and disorders which are at present too frequent." But in truth what was wanted in Mauchline a hundred years ago was not so much a resident magistrate as a resident policeman. In 1673 Mauchline had the full benefit of a burghal charter, and she enjoyed the services of a magistrate freely chosen by her own burgesses. But the magistrate was a man of like passions as the people. He stood and looked at the town clerk pounding a merchant, and never tried to save the weaker brother. A policeman would have done better. He would have said to the pugilists, "Arcades ambo, you are both my prisoners, and no matter which, if either, of you is in the right, you must settle your disputes according to the laws of a civilised country." And so, when we compare past times with present times, we must keep in mind that there is one potent cause of order in modern society that was unknown in rural districts till the second quarter of the present century. No one will say or suppose that it is in the power of a policeman to make men good and virtuous, but every one must know and see that a policeman can do, and actually does, a great deal by his presence and his note-book, his authority and his hand-cuffs, to make a community orderly and quiet. All honour, then, to the policeman for his work's sake. Repressive legislation, too, has within the last few years done much, and in years to come may do still more, to promote peace and sobriety. Publicans are now compelled to close their premises before men have had time to be well drunken, and that is no small gain to the cause of order; and legislators will doubtless be guided by sound considerations in determining how much farther, repression should be carried for the public weal. We must neither be bugbeared nor bamboozled with words and their associations. Repression is a word that sounds harsh, and freedom is a word that takes the heart and the imagination by storm. But it must be remembered that unrepressed rowdyism means rampant terrorism, and unrestricted freedom is unmitigated tyranny—power to the strong to do as they please with the weak. Side by side, therefore, we should hope to see educative and repressive forces at work, public opinion growing daily more enlightened and more potent, and restraints imposed wherever they are clearly and loudly called for—and then we may feel confident for the future—confident that society will, generation after generation, become more pure and peaceful, more virtuous and more happy.


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