"If I were a man, instead of being a woman, as
unfortunately I happen to be," said Miss Peggy Brodie to me, "I would
call a meeting in public, on the part of the ladies, to petition the
king for another war; for really, since the peace there is no such thing
as any decent woman getting a husband, nor is there so much as the least
stir or stramash now-a-days, even to put one in mind of such a thing.
And the king, God bless him! is a man of sense, and understands what's
what perfectly," continued Miss Peggy; "and I have not the least doubt
that if he were only put in possession of the real state of the sex
since the peace, he would give us a war at once, for it is cruel to keep
so many women in this hopeless state."
"Indeed, mem," said I, looking as wise as I was able,
"you may depend upon it, you are under a mistake."
"Don't tell me, sir," replied Miss Brodie; "you men
think you know everything. As if I did not understand politics
sufficient to know that the king grants all reasonable petitions. I tell
you, Mr "What's-your-name, that the wholesex in Glasgow, from
Crossmy-loof to the Rotten Row, and from Anderston to Camlachie, are in
a state of the utmost distress since ever the peace;—and marriages may
be made in heaven, or somewhere else that I do not know of, but there is
none made hereaway, to my certain knowledge, since ever the
sharpshooters laid down their arms, the strapping fallows!"
"I'm sure, mem," said I, "for a peaceable man, I have
been sadly deaved about these sharpshooters."
"It'sno for you to speak against the
sharpshooters, Mr Thingumy!" said Miss Brodie, getting into a pet; "you
that never bit a cartridge in your life, I know by your look! and kens
nae mair about platoon exercise, and poother wallets, and ramrods, than
my mother does! But fair fa' the time when we had a thriving war, an'
drums rattlin' at every corner, an' fifer lads whistlin' up and down the
streets on a market-day; an'spruce sergeants
parading the Salt-market, pipe-clayed most beautiful! Then there was our
ain sharpshooters, braw fallows, looking so noble in their green
dresses, and lang feathers bobbing in their heads. Besides, there was
the cavalry, and the Merchants' corps, and the Trades'and the Grocers' corps. Why. every young man of the least pluck
was a soldier in these heartsome days, and had such speerit and such
pith, and thought no more of taking a wife then, than he would of
killing a Frenchman before his breakfast, if he could hae seen one."
"But, Miss Brodie," said I,
"they were all so busy taking wives that they seem to have quite forgot
to take you, in these happy times."
"Ye needna be so very particular in your remarks, Mr
Thingumy; for it was entirely my own fault, an' I might hae gotten a
husband any morning, just for going to the Green of Glasgow, where the
lads were taking their morning's drill; for it was there a' my
acquaintances got men, to my certain knowledge; and now it's naething
but "Mistress" this, an' "Mistress" that, wi' a' the clippy lassocks
that were just bairns the other day; and there they go, oxtering wi'
their men, to be sure, an' laughin' at me. Weel, it's vera provoking
sir, isn't it?"
"'Deed, mem," said I, "it's rather a lamentable case.
But why did you not catch a green sharpshooter yourself, in those
"Hoot, Mr Balgownie, it was quite my ain faut, as I
said. I was perfectly ignorant of the most common principles of the art,
and knew no more of the way and manner o' catching a husband, no more
than if I had never been born in Glasgow. In fac', I was a perfect
simpleton, an' thought it the easiest matter in the warld; an' ye see,
sir, I had a wee trifle o' siller, besides my looks (which, ye ken. Mr
Thingumbob, were far from being disparageable); and so I was a perfect
simple, and just thocht I was like the lass in the sang— Set her up on
Tintock tap, The wind'llblaw a man till her.
But ne'er a man was blawn to me; an' there's a' my
giggling acquaintances married, ane after the ither. There's Bell Mushat,
an' Jeanie Doo, an' Mary Drab, an' Beanie Sma' an' Sally Daicle —naething
but "marriet," "marriet;" and here's puir me and the cat, leading a
single life until this blessed day. Hoch-hey! isn't it very angersome,
"It is really a case o' great distress, when one
thinks o' your worth. Miss Brodie," said I, pathetically; "and it I did
not happen to be engaged myself, it's impossible to say, but—"
"Ay, there it is!" exclaimed Miss Peggy. "there it
is! Every decent, sensible man like you, that sees what I am, are just
married—married themselves, and tied up. An' so I may just sit here, and
blaw my fingers ower the fire wi' the cat. Hoch-hey!"
"But surely, Miss Brodie," said I, "you did not use
due diligence in time and season, or you would not now be left at this
"I let the sharpshooter times slip out o' my fingers,
like a stupid simpleton, as I say; but no woman could have been more
diligent than I hae been o' late years, an' a' to no purpose. Haven't I
walked the Trongate? Haven't I walked the Green? Haven't I gone to a'
the tea-drinkings within five miles, where I could get a corner for
mysel? Haven't I gone to the kirk three times every Sunday, forby fast
days, thanksgiving days, and evening preachings? Haven't I attended a'
the Bible meetings, and missionary meetings, forby auxiliary societies,
and branch associations? Wasn't I a member of a' the ladies' committees,
and penny-a-week societies, frae Cranston Hill to the East Toll? Didn't
I gang about collecting pennies, in cauld March weather, climbin'
stairs, and knocking at doors like a beggar, until the folk were like to
put me out, an' the vera weans on the stairs used lo pin clouts to our
tails, an' ca' us penny-a-week auld maids? Eh! that was a sair business,
sir, an' little thanks we got; an' I got the chilblains in the feet wi'
the cauld, that keepit me frae sleep for three weeks."
"It's really lamentable; but I should have thought
that the saintly plan was a good one."
"So it would have been, sir, if I had had more money;
but, ye see, fifty pounds a year is thought nothing o' nowadays; an'
these kinds o' people are terrible greedy o' siller. Na, na, sir, gie me
the sharpshooters yet."
"Well now, Miss Brodie," said I, "as we're on the
subject, let me hear how it was you lost your precious opportunities in
the volunteering time."
"Oh, sir, that was the time—volunteering! There never
was such days as the volunteering days. Drums here, and bands o' music
there; sodgering up, and sodgering down; an' then the young men looked
so tall in their regimentals, and it was such a pleasure just to get ane
o' them by the arm, and to parade wi' them before the Tontine, an' then
a' your acquaintances to meet you walking wi' a braw sharpshooter, and
talking about you after in every house; and such shaking hands in theTrongate, and such treating us wi' cakes in Baxter's,—for the
volunteering lads were sae free o' their siller in thae days, puir
chields! Oh, thae were times!"
"There are no such times now, I fear, Miss Peggy."
"Oh, no, sir. An' then the lads thought nothing to
take you to the play at night, in thae days; and what a beautiful thing
it was to sit in the front o' the boxes o' the big theatre in Queen
Street, wi' a red-coated, or a green-coated volunteer—it was so showy,
and such an attraction, and a talk. To be sure, sir, it's no a'thegither right to go openly to common playhouses; but a man must
be got some place, an' ye ken the sharpshooters couldna gang to the kirk
in their green dress, puir fallows."
"But you never told me, Miss Brodie, what art or
mystery there is in man-catching, and yet you speak as if some of your
female friends had practised something past the common to that intent."
"It's not for me to speak to you about women's
affairs, Mr Balgownie; but I can tell you one thing. Do you mind lang
Miss M'Whinnie, dochter of auld Willie M'Whinnie, that was elder in Mr
"I think I recollect her face," said I.
"Weel sir, this was the way she used to do. Ye see,
she was a great walker (for she was a lang-leggit lass, although her
father is a wee gutty body), and if ye took a walk in the Green or the
Trongate, ye're sure to meet lang-leggit Nelly M'Whinnie. lamping wi' a
parasol like a fishing-rod, simmer and winter, lookin' ower her shoulder
now and then to see when she should fa' aft* her feet."
"Fall, Miss Brodie?—What do you mean by falling?"
"Hoot, sir, ye ken naething. Wasn't it by fa'in' that
Nelly M.'Whinnie got a man? I'll tell you how. She used to walk by
hersel, an' whenever she came near a handsome sharpshooter, or gentleman
chield that she wished to pick acqaintance wi', she just pretended to
gie a bit stumble, or to fall on one knee or so; and then, ye ken, the
gentleman couldna do less than rin to lift her up, and ask if she was
hurt, and so forth; an' then she wad answer so
sweet, and thank him so kindly, that the man must sae something civil;
and then she would say, 'Oh, sir, you are so obliging and so polite;'
an' just in this way she made the pleasantest acquaintances, an' got a
man by it, or a' was done."
"Ha, ha, ha! That is perfectly ridiculous, and hardly
credible," said I.
"Na, ye needna laugh in the least," continued Miss
Brodie, "for I'm telling you the truth; and didna the same lass break
her arm wi' her fa'ing?"
"Break her arm, Miss Brodie! Are you serious?"
"It's perfectly true. Mr Balgownie. Ye see, sir, she
was walking on speculation, in her usual manner, in the Green o' Glasgow
it was, as I believe, and somewhere near the Humanity House, by the side
of the Clyde, when she observed three strappin' fellows come blattering
up behind her. This was an opportunity not to be let pass, an' the day
being frosty, an' the road slightly slippery, afforded an excellent
pretence for a stumble at least Weel, sir, just when the gentlemen had
got within three yards o' her, Nellie gied a bit awkward sprauchle, and
shot out a leg; but whether Nellie had mista'en her distance, or whether
the men were up to her fa'in' system, an' wadna bite, never clearly
appeared; but they werena forward in time to catch the lassie in their
arms as she expected; an' after a sprauchle an' a stumble, down she came
in good earnest, an' broke her arm."
"Ha, ha, ha! I would rather hear that story than any
one of Mr Dumdrone's best discourses," said I. "But are you sure it's
"Did I no see Miss M'Whinnie, the time she was laid
up, wi' the broken arm in a sling ? But you see, sir, the gentlemen did
gather round her when they saw she was fairly whomel't, an' gathered her
up, nae doubt; an' as soon as she got better o' the broken arm, she took
to fa'in' again. But I believe she never gaed farther than a stoyter or
a stumble after that, till ance she got a man."
"And so. Miss Brodie, she did fall into a marriage?"
"Ou, 'deed did she, sir. A fallow caught her at last,
as she fell; and there was nae mair walking the Trongate wi' the lang
parasol, like a bellman's staff. But in the time o' the sharpshooters
and the cavalry, and the Merchants' corps, and a' the corps, I mind as
weel as yesterday, how a great illness Look place among the young women,
and neither pills nor boluses were found to be of the least service, an'
the doctors were perfectly puzzled and perplexed, and knew not what to
recommend in this general distress. But the young women, ane and a',
prescribed for themselves, from an inward understanding o' their
complaints, and nothing, they said, would cure the prevailing sickness
but a walk in the morning in the Green o' Glasgow.
Now, sir, it happened so providential, the whole time
that this influenza lasted, that the Sharpshooter corps, and the Cavalry
corps, and the Trades* corps, and the Merchants' corps, and the Grocers'
corps, and a' the corps were exercising in the Green o' Glasgow, where
a' the young ladies were walking for their health. It was so beautiful
and good for the ladies, when they were sick, to see thae sharpshooters,
how they marched, wheeled, an' whooped, an' whooped, an' ran this way,
and that way, an' whiles they fired on their knees, an' then they would
clap down on their backs, and fire at us, puir chields. And then, ye
see, just when we had gotten an appetite for our breakfasts by our walk,
the corps would be dismissed, and then the volunteer lads couldna but
spread themselves among the ladies that were outside, just to spier
after their complaints; an' then naething but link arm wi' the
sharpshooters an' the other corps, dizzens in a row, an' be escorted
hame to breakfast. Many a lass that was quite poorly and badly was
relieved by these morning walks, and are now married women. Ah, thae
were pleasant days, Mr Bal-gownie!"
"But, dear me, Miss Brodie," I said, "how did it
happen that you were allowed to remain single all this time? Had you no
wooers at all? "
"What do you mean, sir, by asking me such a question?
Nae wooers! I tell you I had dizzens o' lads running after me night and
day, in thae pleasant times."
"Well, but I don't mean in the common way. I mean,
had you any real sweetheart—any absolute offer?"
"Offer, sir I Indeed I had more than one. Wasna there
Peter Shanks, the hosier, that perfectly plagued me, the dirty body? But
ye see, sir, I couldna bear the creature, though he had twa houses in
Camlachie; for, to tell you my weakness, sir, my heart was set upon—"
"Upon whom, Miss Brodie? Ah, tell me!"
"Upon a sharpshooter."
"Bless my heart! But if you would just let me hear
"Ah, sir, it's a pitiful story," said Miss Peggy,
"I delight in pitiful stories," said I, taking
out my handkerchief.
"Weelj sir,—' love and grief are sair to bide,' as
the sang says, and my heart wasna made o' the adamant rock; so ye see,
sir, there was a lad they ca'd Pate Peters, an* he was in the
sharpshooters; and he sat just quite near me in Mr Dumdrone's kirk, for
ye see, sir, it was there we fell in. Oh, sir, Pate was a beautiful
youth: teeth like the ivory, an' eyes as black as the slae, and cheeks
as red as the rose."
"Ah, Miss Brodie, Miss Brodie!"
"An' when he was dressed in his sharpshooter's
dress,—ah, sir, but ray heart was aye too, too susceptible. I will not
trouble you, sir, wi' the history o' our love, which would have come to
the most happy termination, but for a forward cutty of a companion o'
mine, of the name of Jess Barbour. But there can be nae doubt but Pate
Peters was a true lover o' me; for he used to come hame wi' me frae Mr
Dumdrone's preaching whenever Jess wasna there, and I'm sure his heart
burned wi' a reciprocal flame. But ae night, sir,— I'll ne'er forget
that night!—I was coming hame frae a tea-drinking at Mr Warps', the
manufacturer on the other side o' Clyde, when just as I got to the end
o' the wooden brig next the Green, wha does I meet but Pate Peters!
"Weel, sir, it was a moonlight night,—just such as
lovers walk about in, an' Pate and me linked arm-in-arm, walked and
walked, round the Green o' Glasgow. We stopped by the side o' Clyde, an'
lookit up at the moon.
"'Miss Peggy,' says he, 'do ye see that moon?'
"'Yes,' says I.
"'That changeable moon,' says he, 'is the emblem o'
falseness in love.'
"'Yes, Mr Peters,' said I, an' my heart was ready to
"'But I will never be false in love!' says he.
"'I hope you will be true until death,' says I.
"'To be sure I will, Miss Brodie,' says he; these
were his very words."
"Ah, Miss Peggy," I said, as I saw she was unable to
get on, "that is quite affecting."
"But he talked so sensibly, sir," continued Miss
Brodie; "he spoke even of marriage as plain as a man could speak. 'Miss
Peggy,' said he, 'do you remember what Mr Dumdrone, the minister, said
last Sabbath? He said marriage was made in heaven; and he said that
Solomon, the wisest of men, expressly said, in the Proverbs, he that
getteth a good wife getteth a good thing'—Was not that plain speaking,
"Nothing could be plainer, Miss Peggy; but I'm
interested in your story."
"Weel, sir, he came home to the door wi' me, and—it's
not for me to tell the endearments that passed between us!—So, sir, I
went to sleep wi' a light heart, an' was for several days considering
and contriving about our marriage, when—what do you think?—in three
weeks, word was brought to me that the false and cruel man was married
to Jess Barbour 1"
"Bless me, Miss Brodie, what a woful story! It's just
like a romance?" "So it is, Mr Balgownie," said Miss Peggy, all
blubbered with weeping. "It's perfect romantic. Ye see, sir, what trials
I had in love! But you're not going away in that manner, sir?"
"Oh, yes, Miss Brodie," said I, taking my hat; " I'm
not able to stand it any longer."
"You're a feeling man," said she, shaking me by the
hand; "you're a man o' sweet feeling, Mr Balgownie."
"You're an ill-used woman, Miss Brodie!—Adieu, Miss
Brodie!"— The Dominie's Legacy.
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