"He's a real auld bachelor in his way of leevin'. He
maks and mends his ain claes too, clouts his ain shoon, dams his ain
stockings, and keeps a lot o' tools for a' crafts. His kitchen's a
no-that-ill-red-up place; but if ye saw his study, sir, as he ca's't,
it's the queerest, higgledy-piggledy, odds-and-ends sort o' place ye
ever saw in your life. It's eneugh to turn your brain just to look
inlil't. His pianoforte and his tables a' covered wi' a confused heap o'
books, writings, musical instruments, colours, oil-paintings, and loose
fragments o' rough designs, made wi' black and white caulk on a
nankeen-coloured kind o' paper. The wa' is stuck fu' o' brass-headed
nails that he hings his follies and his nonsense on. He has a mucklc
ill-faured image yonder, that he ca's an Indian god, standing on his
mantelpiece, wi' lang teeth made o' fish-banes, and twa round bits o'
white airn, with big black-headed tackets driven through the middle o'
them for een, and a queer crown on its head, made o' split quills, plait
strae, and peacocks' feathers. It's eneugh to gar a body a'
grue just to look at it. He has bears' and teegers' heads girnin'
on the wa', and slouched hats, swords, dirks, and rusty rapiers o' every
kind. He has twa or three things yonder that he ca's Roman helmets
(though the maist o' folk would reckon them
nae ither than barbers' basins), forby some imitations o' auld coats o'
mail, made o' painted pasteboard. Na, faith, the deil hae me," continued
Duncan, laughing at the whimsical character of the place he was
describing, "if I dinna whiles think the body's out o' his wits. But he
canna be that, either, for they're great folks ca'ing upon him, baith
far and near, and he cracks to them whiles in strange tongues, that nane
in the kintra-side kens but himsel and the minister. Na, troth, sir,
they say that our Mess John, wha's no a lame hand himsel, is just a
bairn to him. 'Od he's a droll, ready-handed body. He maks a'thing
himsel. He has some orra time on his hand, ye see; and he's either
crooning ower some auld Scotch songs, or riddling some outlandish tunes;
and, my faith! he can twine them out frae the grist o' a common strae-rape
to the fineness o' a windle-strae. He shakes and dirls sae wonderfully
too, that ye wad think his fiddle's no a thing o' timmer and catgut at
a', but some droll musical creature o' flesh and blood. Eh, my certie!
it gars a body's bowels a' tremble wi' gladness whiles to hear him.
He'll come in here at an antrin time, ca' for his gill o' gin, and no a
living creature wi' him, and sit ower': for twa or three hours, crackin'
to him sel, and laughin' as loudly and heartily at his ain queer
stories, as if he had a dizzen o' merry cronies at his elbow. He ne'er
forgets when he's takin' his drams to wish himsel weel; for at every
sip, he says, 'Here's to ye, Simon— thanks to ye, Mr Gray;' and so on he
goes the whole night, as if he were a kind of a twafauld body. Ae night
when he sat in my back-room and loosed his budget of jokes, and laughed
and roared wi' himsel for twa hours, I laid my lug lo the key-hole o'
the door, and owerheard the following dialogue." At this part of mine
host's narrative the rattling of a wheeled vehicle was heard. and ceased
immediately upon reaching the door of the inn. Mr Cleekum, the village
lawyer, had come in a few minutes before, and was sitting beside us,
laughing at M'Gowan's narrative, of the latter part of which he also had
been an auditory witness. M'Gowan's loquacity ceased when he heard the
vehicle at the door; he looked out at the window, turned round to me,
and said hastily, "Maister Cleekum 'll tell ye a' about it, sir,—he
heard it as weel as me.— Excuse me, there's a gig at the door. We maun
mind our ain shop, ye ken, and a rider's penny's worth a gangrel's groat
So saying, he hurried out, leaving the lawyer to
gratify my curiosity by the sequel of the dominie's solitary dialogue.
"M'Gowan's description, sir, of this eccentric being
is by no means exaggerated." said Mr Cleekum; "and if it can afford you
any amusement, I shall relate the remainder of Mr Gray's dialogue, which
I am the better enabled to do, from having put myself to the
trouble of noting down the particulars, at the recital of which old
Simon and myself have since laughed very heartily. You need not be
surprised at his broad Scotch accent; he has such a decided partiality
for it, that he is commonly averse to using any other tongue, though no
man speaks more politely than himself when he is so disposed, and when
the persons he converses with render it necessary. — After having
finished his first measure of indulgence, Mr Gray proceeded thus:—
"'Come now, Sir Simon, and I'll help ye hame, ye auld
rogue.—I am much obliged to you, Mr Gray, but I'll try to gar my ain
shanks serve my ain turn, and ye may e'en put your ain hand to your ain
hasp, my friend.—If ye like, we'll have anither gill, and then
toddle thegither.—Beware o' dram-drinking, Sir Simon; ye'll get an evil
name in the clachan.—I beg your pardon, Mr Gray; I have been a riddle to
the folks ower lang already, and as 1 ne'er do aucht in a corner, but
what I may do on the causey, everybody kens he'll no mak onything mair
or less o' me by being inquisitive. Na,
na, Mr Gray, ye're a' out there; there is no ane in the parish would
hear an ill word o' Simon.—But ye're an auld man, sir, and set an evil
example to others.—
Ne'er a ane do I set an evil example to but yoursel,
Mr Gray; and for a' your cant about sobriety, ye take your drams as
regularly as I do; and I defy you— I defy you or ony other man to say ye
e'er saw me the waur o' liquor in your life. Besides, Mr Gray, the
progress of human life is like a journey from the equator to the north
pole. We commence our career with the heat of passion and the light of
hope, and travel on, till passion is quenched by indulgence, and hope,
flying round the ball of life which is blackening before us, seems to
come up behind us, mingled with dim and regretted reminiscences of
things hoped for, obtained, enjoyed, and lost for ever but to memory:
Oh! age has weary days,
And nights of sleepless pain.
Youth needs no stimulus, it is too hot already; but
when a man is shuffling forward into the Arctic circle of old age, he
requires a warm potation to thaw the icicles that crust around his
heart, and freeze up the streams of his affections. There's for you, Mr
Gray; what do you think of that?—Why, I think, Sir Simon, we'll tell
Duncan to fill't again.—That now, that now, is friendly;' and so saying,
he rung for the landlord to fetch him the means of prolonging his
"This is that portion of Mr Gray's dialogue with
himself which M'Gowan and myself, perhaps officiously, listened to ; but
as we are upon the subject of our venerable friend's peculiarities, it
may not be out of place to recite a little poetical work, which he
composed some time ago." Having signified the pleasure I should derive
from being favoured with the recital of a work from the pen of so
eccentric a humorist as the dominie, Mr Cleekum proceeded to draw forth
from his pocket and to read:—
The Minister's Mare,
The minister's mare was as gude a gray mare
As ever was saddled, or bridled, or shod;
Be't foul or be't fair, be't late or be't air,
She nichered aye gladly when takin' the road.
The minister late in the e'ening cam hame.
And stabled his marie, and heapit her heck,
And gae her a forpit o' oats to her wame,
And theekit her cozily wi' an auld sack.
And the minister's wife wi' a bowet cam out,
For a tenty and mensefu' wife was she;
Glowered round her for gangrels that might be about,
And syne in the stable-door thrawed round the key.
And she oxtered the minister up the stair
To his room, where his supper and slippers were hot,
Whaur a wee creepie-stool and an elbow chair
At the blithe ingle-neuk were right cozily set.
As the reverend carle gaed ben the house Iaughin',
And clappin' his wife, an' rubbin' his hands,
She helpit him aff wi' his green tartan raughen,
And frae 'neath his round chin loosed his lily-white bands.
When supper was ower, the minister birsled
His shins on the creepie upon the hearth-stane;
Worn out wi' fatigue, to his roostin-place hirsled,
And laid himsel down wi' a wearied-man's grane.
His canny wee wife saw him cozily happit,
Syne drew back the chairs frae the warm ingle-side;
Put creesh in the ee o' the candle, and clappit
Right kindly and couthily down by his side.
The cracks o' the twasomc were kindly but few:
The minister wi' a "hech-ho," turned him roun',
O'er his cauld shouther-head the warm blanket he drew,
Syne pu'd down his night-cap and snored snug
The morning's bright bonfire, that bleezed in the
Had meltit in heaven ilk wee siller stern,
When the cock crawed reveille to man, bird, and beast,
As he sat on an auld knotty rung in the barn.
The dog in the watch-house yowled eerie and lang,
And struggled right fiercely to break frae his chain;
The auld chapel bell like a burial knell rang,
And groanings were heard as frae bodies in pain.
A loud rap cam rap to the minister's yett,
The minister's wife wondered wha might be there;
While the reverend carle, glammering, graipit to get
His drawers and bauchels, to slip down the stair.
But he warily first frae the stair-winnock keekit,
To ken wha this early disturber might be;
When he saw the dog loose, and the barn-door unsteckit,
And his mare at the yett, cap'ring wild to be free.
Frae a blackavised rider, wha spurred her and bouned
Wi' mony wild curses to tak to the road:
And he stuck like a burr, though campsterie he fand her,
While the minister cried, "There's been thieves here, gude".
"Fie, Tibby rise." roared Mess John, loud as thunder,
"The mischief's come o'er us, we're herriet, undone;
The barn's broke, the dog's loose, the mare's aff, and yonder
She's rinnin'—fie! bring me my hat, coat, and shoon!"
His claes huddled on, wi' his staff in his han',
He out at the yett wi' a belly-flaught flew;
While the stour that his mare raised in clouds o'er the lan,'
Turned into a glaur-drop ilk clear blob o' dew.
The stour, borne alang wi' the wind strong and gusty,
Gar'd the minister look like a miller sae gray;
And the sweat on his face, mixed wi' dust, grew as crusty
As if he were modelled in common brick-clay.
And sometimes he haltit, and sometimes he ran,
And sometime she sat himsel down in despair;
And sometimes he grew angry, and sometimes began
To lighten his sair-burdened heart wi' a prayer.
But madly the rider o'er hill and o'er dale,
Wi' the minister's mare like a fire-flaught he flew;
Whiles seen on a hill-top, whiles lost in a vale,
Till they baith looked like motes on the welkin sae blue.
The minister by the road-side sat him down,
As vexed and as wearied as man weel could be;
Syne pu'd aff his wig, rubbed the sweat frae his crown,
And puffed, steghed, and graned like a man gaun to dee.
When an auld farmer carle, on his yaud trotting by,
Accosted Mess John as he sat in despair;
Made a bow like a corn-sack, and as he drew nigh,
Raised his twa waukit loofs, cryin' "What brought ye there?
"I'm sure it's nae mair than an hour since I saw ye
At Bourtree Brae-head, and that's eight miles awa!"
And he rubbit his een as he cried out, "Foul fa' me!"
For glammery's come o'er me, or else you're grown twa.
"And where is your mare, for she stood at the door,
Wi' her bridle-reins drawn through a ring in the wa'.
At Dawson's door-cheek, where I saw her before
I had drunk deoch-an-dorus wi' Donald M'Craw."
" Ye saw me!" said the minister; "how could that
When I've only proceeded thus far on my road?
And that this is mysel, by a glance ye may see."
"Why, then," cried the farmer, "the thing's vastly odd".
"But twa hours ago, sir, your double was sitting
At Dawson's fire-side,—faith! as I thoucht, half fou,—
And ilk ane at hand thoucht it time to be flitting,
When ye cursed and blasphemed till the candle burned blue,"
"Why, Saunders, it's surely been Sawtan ye've seen,
The foul thief himsel, I could wad a gray groat;
He staw my gray mare;—just turn back, my auld friend,
Till I strip the foul thief of his sanctified coat.
"I've warded wi' Sawtan for many a year;
I've cloured him and loundered him aft times right sair;
But the foul fiend has played me a pliskie, I fear;
Lord save's, man, I ne'er heard the like, I declare
"Fie, Saunders, let's mount, and to Dawson's let's
And chase the loon back to his ain lowin' hame;
The tod's in the fauld, God's ain lambs he may worry;
Come, Saunders, let's hunt him, Auld Clootie's fair game."
And they rode till they came to John Dawson's
Whaur the minister lighted, but wadna step in,
When he heard how the deil in his ain likeness swore,
As he dirled at the door, for the third tappit hen.
And the folk were confounded,—amazed,—when they saw
The auld carle himsel they had aft seen before;
Some darned into corners, and some ran awa,
And ithers ran out, and glowered in at the door.
But the minister beckoned them a' to come back
To the room aff-and-on where the devil sat fou;
In the wooden partition there gaped a wide crack,
That ilk ane, by turns, wi' amazement looked through.
And there they heard Cloots, in a big elbow-chair,
Snore like thunder far-aff, and now sleeping right sound,
And some thought his feet didna look like a pair,
For the tae o' the ae boot to the heel was turned round.
And they saw, when the ither foot once or twice moved,
That the boot on that foot just turned round the same way;
Which, to the onlookers, sufficiently proved,
They were baith cloven feet,—ay, as clear as the day.
They saw a bit kitlin, that friskit and pattit
A muckle black tossel below the big chair;
And it swung like a pend'lum, as wee baudrons clawtit
The end that hung down like a bunch o' horse-hair.
When Dawson's bull-terrier, streeked on the hearth-stane.
Saw Clootie's tail wagging, he barkit like mad;
Sprung till't like a fury, and tugged might and main,
And the deevil himsel couldna lowsen his baud.
But the deil started up wi' big chair, dog, an' a',
And staggered, and stampit, and ance or twice fell;
Mess John cried, "Lord save us!"—Like lightning, awa
Flew deevil, and big chair, and terrier, to------!
"There's a strange production for you," said Mr
CIeekum, as he folded the paper and replaced it in his pocket.
"A strange production, indeed," said I; "what could
be Mr Gray's object in writing such a poem?"
"Merely to please himself, sir, I suppose," was the
But," continued I, "has it any reference to any
particular character or occurrence; or is it merely an extravagant
fiction of the dominie's own brain?"
"It refers to an old popular tradition, "answered
Mr Cleekum, "concerning a pious
predecessor of our worthy minister, Mr Singleheart; and, though the
currency of its belief is now somewhat crossed and obstructed by an
adverse current of growing intelligence, it still floats in the memories
and imaginations of those venerable annalists, the old women of the
village, with whom the idle story was likely to perish for ever, if the
dominie's metrical version had not contributed to prolong it."
Various remarks were made upon the merits of the
production; but as they were all blended with statements and allusions
relative to local characters and incidents not connected with my present
object, I resume my interrupted narrative.
The children still continued round the door,
shouting, halooing, and acting a thousand extravagances, nor could they
be prevailed upon to depart till they saw the "maister." Simon, who had
so far collected his scattered senses, and renewed his exhausted
strength, as to be able to give them that gratification, had no sooner
opened the door for the purpose of receiving the congratulations of his
scholars, than those who were nearest leaped up and embraced him with
unfeigned affection. They pulled and lugged him, crying, "Maister,
maister!" while the beloved instructor stood hugging his chubby
associates, and embracing them with all the warmth of an affectionate
parent. These kind-hearted little beings, after receiving another token
of the old man's goodness, in the shape of pieces of biscuit and
gingerbread, ran off, huzzaing, to inform their parents of the
marvellous escape of their venerable preceptor.
Simon, being disengaged from the warm embraces of his
pupils, came into the room where the landlord, Cleekum the lawyer, and
myself were silting. I had now full leisure and opportunity to examine
the appearance of this singular and eccentric character. It was
completely at variance with every characteristic of modern gentility.
His dress betokened the hand of the cunning craftsman of the last
century, or his own whimsical taste had dictated to some modern son of
the goose and , thimble the antique shape of his habiliments; but, as we
were before informed by the landlord, they were entirely the fabrication
of his own taste and
ingenuity. His single-breasted, rusty-black coat tapered away
from the shoulders towards his lower extremities in the pyramidal shape,
and when unbuttoned, or unclasped, rather, swung its copious folds round
his jolly form with cumbrous and fantastical elegance. Two
mother-of-pearl buttons, of uncommon circumference, and encircled with
brass rings, were stuck as ornaments upon the haunches, and the breast
was decorated with grotesque circles of the same fantastical
description, with the addition of a handsome row of bright silver
clasps. The vest, with its massy superfluity of cloth, parted in the
middle, and its ample pockets descended halfway down his thigh, leaving
a space between their separation and the head of his breeches for his
bright linen shirt
to shine through, in the shape of an isosceles
triangle. His blue plush breeches had three chequered or diced brass
buttons to preserve their connexion, and terminated at the knee with the
genuine old Cameraman cut. His stockings were light blue, sprinkled with
little oblong dots of white; and his shoes, cut square across the toes
to save his corns, were held upon his feet by two antiquated silver
buckles of uncommon magnitude and curious workmanship. His personal
appearance was that of a substantial old bachelor, on whom nature had
generously bestowed a sound constitution, and it was evident from his
looks that he by no means despised that invaluable inheritance. His face
inclined to the square, but the features were all curvilinear, rather
prominent, and flushed with that rosy hue of health which so often beams
from the countenances of the sons and daughters of rustic labour. His
forehead was highly expressive of intellect, but the nether part of the
face indicated that lubberly sort of feeling which glories in a life of
good humoured ease and fat contentment. His eyes were small, of a bright
blue, but not a pair, for the one squinted outward through. the
interstices of his gray, bristly eyebrows; which, along with a nether
lip somewhat pendulous, a mouth turned up at the corners, and a long
fiat chin, gave the whole face a comical and risible expression.
During the time that Cleekum was reading his notes of
the dominie's solitary dialogue, Mr Singleheart, the village minister,
M'Glashan the piper, and some others belonging to the village, came into
the room, which seemed to be as much public property as the village
smithy. On the dominie's entrance all rose to salute and congratulate
him upon his fortunate escape; and I could see, from the cordial manner
in which each in his turn grasped the old man's hand, that each had his
heart at his finger-ends. It was not that puppyish forefinger-and-thumb
sort of salutation which clips another frosty forefinger-and-thumb as if
dreading contagion, but a hearty, honest grappling of fist with fist,
which drew the blood from its fountain with a thrilling impulse, and
sent its current warm and glowing into the clenched extremities, which
were shaken so violently, and for such a length of time, that an
imaginative and hasty person might suppose, in the rapidity of his
decision, that each individual was disposed to graft himself upon the
dominie, whose right arm, at length, seemed as feeble as that of a poor
gut-scraper, who has jigged at a country wedding for a whole night.
When Simon entered, I was introduced to him by
Cleekum, whom I had by this time discovered to be an old school-fellow
of my own. He saluted me with a frank and pleasant smile, and squeezed
my hand so cordially, that I immediately felt that spontaneous and
indefinable feeling of attachment towards him which, though the electric
emotion of a moment, is often the forerunner of a
long course of friendly intimacy. Upon my father's name being
mentioned. Simon recognised him as a playmate of his earlier days, and
gave me a kindly invitation to spend a few days with him. which
circumstances obliged me to refuse. Simon then took the opportunity of
introducing me more particularly to the rest of the company, on account
of "the old man," as he said, meaning my father, for whom he seemed to
entertain a deep sentiment of regard. He last of all recommended me with
an air of serious solemnity to the notice of M'Gowan.
"This gentleman," said he,
pointing to the last-mentioned individual, who appeared to be a singular
compound of officiousness, selfishness, and benevolence, and who seemed
to be at all times a standing joke with my venerable friend, "has some
pretensions to honesty. He'll do ye a good turn sometimes when ye're no
thinking o't; and, unlike the most of other men, he likes his friends
the better the longer they sit beside him. Familiarity does not breed
contempt with him, but poverty does ; and yet he's no the hindmost to
help misery to an awmous when he's in a right mood for being
good-hearted, and that happens aye ance or twice in a twalmonth."
"Come, come, now," said M'Gowan. gravely, "we'll hae
nae mair o' that, Mr Gray. Ye're an unco wag.
It was only yestreen ye got me into a foul scrape wi' our friend Cleekum
there. and he flang out o' the house, swearing like a very heathen that
he wad tak the law o' me for defamation o' character."
"For the sake of peace and good fellowship," said Mr
Singleheart, "it will be meet and advisable for us to refrain, as much
as in us lies, from profane joking and oonseasonable raillery; because
joking has small yedification in it, and raillery is a sort of
salt-and-pepper compound, whilk burnetii up the inward man with a
fervent heat, and profiteth not, neither is meet for bodily
"I would be o' your thocht, Mr Sinklart," said Donald
M'Glashlan the piper; "I would be making peace
wi' peast and pody"—
The piper was thus proceeding with his Highland
exhortations to harmony, when Cleekum. who was sitting looking out at
the window, started suddenly from his seat and hurried out of the house.
M 'Gowan's curiosity being roused by Cleckum's abrupt departure, he
followed him to the door, and beheld him and M'Harrigle the
cattle-dealer at some distance, earnestly engaged in conversation. All
that M'Gowan's ear could catch of their discourse was concerning the mad
bull, M'Harrigle's property, and the occasional mention of the dominie's
"There's mischief a-brewing down the lane there,"
said M'Gowan, when he came in. "Cleekum and that foolish passionate body
M'Harrigle are standing yonder, an' I could hear they were sayin'
something o' you, Mr Gray, but what it was I couldna weel mak out. He's
a doited, credulous body, that M'Harrigle; an' I could wager a sax-pence
Cleekum's makin' a deevil o' him some way or anither."
M'Gowan's surmises were suddenly interrupted by
vociferous and clamorous exclamations at the door, and their cause did
not remain long unexplained. The door of the apartment flew open, and,
rattling against the wall with violence, admitted the author of this
fresh disturbance. It was M'Harrigle. He was a short, square-shouldered
man, of fierce aspect, whose naturally harsh features were much
exaggerated by a powerful and alarming expression of rage and
resentment. The face was, indeed, at first sight indescribable, and the
tumultuous feelings and passions that deepened and darkened every line
of it wrought such fearful and sudden changes
upon its muscular
expression that the whole seemed at first a wizard compound of different
Upon entering, his first salutation was a deafening
and broken torrent of cursing, poured forth upon the dominie, as the
fancied author of the flight and death of the mad animal, whose career
had spread such consternation through the village. It was in vain that
the whole company remonstrated against the rudeness, absurdity, and
brutality of his conduct. He stood on the middle of the floor with his
fist doubled, menaced each of us in our turn, as we interposed between
him and the object of his resentment, or smiled at his folly and
extravagance, and once or twice grappled the large oaken cudgel with
which he impelled his horned property, as if he intended to commit the
like beastly violence on those around him. Cleekum had retired to a"
corner to enjoy the sport his wicked waggery had created. The dominie
sat composedly, and squinted at the cattle-dealer with a sly and jocular
leer, which showed his soul delighted even in a very serious joke, from
an inveterate habit of extracting fun from all the petty and frivolous
incidents of common life. At times he seemed lost in a careless, musing
mood, and at other times burst out into immoderate fits of laughter,
which seemed to me perfectly unaccountable. He then, in the true spirit
and feeling of an enthusiastic elocutionist, recited from Shakspeare
some favourite passage, warbled out a fragment of some ancient ditty,
every now and then interspersing it with shrill and fitful passages of a
new sonnata, which he had been practising on the violin, whose shrill
treble fell in between the intervals of M'Harrigle's bass notes, like
loose sand or gravel strewed over a rude foundation of ruble work.
"D------ye," said M'Harrigle, rising in his wrath at every fresh
interruption of the dominie, and maddened at his really provoking
coolness and indifference, "d------ ye, ye think it a' a joke to hunt a
man's cattle to destruction, and then mak a fool o' himsel wi' your
blackguard and unknown tongues! Confound your hide, you glee'd, fiddling
vagabond, an it werna for your coat, I would harle your hide ower your
lugs like a sark! Pay me my siller—pay me my siller for the beast, or
I'll turn the nose on your face like the pin o' a hand-screw. Down wi'
the dust—I'll no leave the room till I hae
satisfaction o' ye ae way or ither, that's for certain."
"Let there be peace," said Mr Singleheart, "for out
of strife cometh a multitude of evils; and he who in vain taketh the
name of his Maker shall not be held guiltless. You are an evil person,
M'Harrigle; and if you refrain not from that profane and heathenish
habit of cursing, we will, by the advice and council of our
Kirk-Session, be obligated to debar you from all kirk preevileges, and
leave you to be devoured and swallowed up by the evil one."
"I beg your pardon," said the credulous and
superstitious cattle-dealer; "I didna mean offence to you or ony man in
the room; but I'll hae my ain. But it's you, sir—it's you, sir,"
continued he, addressing the dominie repeatedly, and extending the tone
of his voice at every repetition, till he had strained it to the most
astounding pitch of vociferation; "it's you, sir, that set ane o' your
mischievous vagabonds to hunt the poor dumb animal, till he ran red wud
wi' rage, and flew ower the craig head. And now lie's at the bottom o'
the linn, and tient be licket's to be seen o'
him, but an ill-faured hash o' hide,
an' banes, and harrigles, sooming an' walloping at the bottom o' the
"Somebody's blawn an ill sough in your lug, friend,"
said the dominie, as he caught M'Harrigle gently by the sleeve, and
invited him to sit down.
"Aff haun's," cried M'Harrigle, rudely repelling the
dominie's invitation, —"aff haun's, I say; no man shall handle me like a
brute beast. I ken what's right as weel's ony man, and I'll allow no man
to straik me wi' the hair. to wyse me his ain gate, and syne row my tail
to gar me rin by my ain byre door. I want no favours of ony man. but
I'll hae my ain, if there's law and justice in the land."
M'Harriglc proceeded at great length to insist upon
his right of restitution, bespattering his slaughter-house observations
with abominable oaths, like dirty shreds of dunghill rags sewed on a
beggar's doublet ; while the dominie sat musing, swinging backward and
forward in his chair, making mental and sometimes audible quotations
from the liquid Latin, and, at other times, reciting Greek
professorially, ore ru-tundo. At length, awakening from his
learned reverie, and looking over his shoulder to M'Harrigle, he said,
in a tone most provokingly cool and indifferent,—
"Were ye cursing, M'Harrigle? Ye shouldna curse, ye
sinfu' body; for an ill life maks an ill hinder-end, and Sawtan's but a
rough nurse to spread the sheets and draw the curtains o' one's
The enraged cattle-dealer, finding all further
threats and remonstrances unavailing, sat down in sullen and silent
indignation, and, with his arms folded across his breast, his eyebrows
knit, and his upper teeth firmly compressed against his nether lip, he
scowled upon the supposed author of his wrongs, with an expression of
face unutterably horrible. He had just sat down when Grierson the
messenger brought in a tall, yellow, raw-boned thing of a boy. about
fourteen years of age. He had been seized in Sir Robert's poultry-yard,
and although he had nothing in his possession to convict him as a
criminal, his manner was so embarrassed, and his appearance altogether
so suspicious, that the servants laid hold on him, and committed him to
the charge of the officer above mentioned, to be carried before a
Justice of the Peace and interrogated. He was accordingly conveyed to
M'Gowan's, where the officer expected to find Christopher Ramsay of
Wrcndykeside, who, he was informed, had just alighted at the inn from
his gig. He had gone, however, and the officer was about to depart with
his charge, when the dominie called him back, and looking pleasantly at
the boy, exclaimed, ''Ah, Geordie, are ye there, ye wild loon?" The boy
started at the voice of his old preceptor, whom he had not before
observed. He indeed had heard and believed that his venerable instructor
had been torn to pieces by the fury of the mad animal, whose destruction
had roused M'Harrigle's wrath to such a pilch of frenzy. He gazed upon
the dominie with open mouth, and with a pair of large round eyes, much
dilated beyond their usual circumference by an overpowering feeling of
astonishment ; grew pale, and trembled so fearfully that his gruff
guardian was compelled by humanity to let him have a seat beside his old
master, who rose for his accommodation. The afflicted youth made an
effort to speak, but in vain. He stretched out his two hands, grasped
that of his master which was extended towards him, looked up in his
face, and sobbed as if his heart would burst. The tears ran in floods
down his cheeks, and he at length cried out in a choked undertone of
"Maister, will ye forgie me? Will ye forgie me? Will
they hang me for't?"
"Blessings on's, man, Geordie," cried the dominie,
"what's wrung wi' ye?"
"Oh!" cried the afflicted boy, "my father, and
mother, and brothers, and as sisters, and a' will get a sair heart for
me yet. Oh!" and he continued to cry distractedly.
"The deil tak the laddie." said M'Harrigle, "it maks
a man's heart as saft as ill-fed veal to look at him. What's come ower
ye, ye blubbering stirk?"
Mr Singlcheart spoke not a word to him, hut continued
clapping him on the shoulder, while M'Glashan, every now and then, cried
out, "Hout, laddie, you'll be makin' a fool o' us a' noo," and so
saying, he drew the back of his brawny list across his eyes
several times, began to finger his bagpipe in silence, as if he would
soothe his sympathy by the imagination of playing some merry spring, but
his fingers, after two or three rapid dumb-show flourishes, stood as
stationary upon the holes as if the piper and his instrument of sound
had been both chiselled out of the same stone. The boy still vented his
grief as clamorously and bitterly as ever, clung to his master with the
agony of a conscience-stricken penitent, and cried,—
"Will ye forgie me? It was me that hunted the bull
that I thocht had killed ye."
"You, ye vagabond!" said M'Harrigle, collaring the
unhappy youth. Cleekum seized the opportunity of running off, rightly
considering that he had carried the joke far beyond the bounds of
discretion, and really apprehensive that the evil spirit he had conjured
up would turn upon himself and rend him in its fury. "You!" continued
the irascible cattle-dealer; "what do ye think that ye deserve, you ill-gi'en
neer-do-wcel? But I'll mak your father pay."
This last consideration loosened his grasp, and he
seized the dominie's hands with both his own, begged a thousand pardons
with a rueful countenance, and in accents very different from his former
imprecatory addresses. During the time that he was making this sincere
and penitent apology for his rudeness and misconduct, he several times
glanced round the apartment for Cleekum, crying out, "Where is that
blackguard scribe? It was him that did it a'." He was safe, however.
"There's nae harm done where there's nae ill meant,"
said the dominie, in reply to M'Harrigle's confession of repentance;
"only ye shouldna flee on a body like an ill-bred tyke, when an
ill-disposed neebour cries 'shoo' to ye. Dinna
ye be ower ready in telling your mind to anybody, but let your thoughts
cool as weel as your parritch."
"'Od, Simon," rejoined the cattle-dealer, "I am sure
ye can hardly forgie me for the ill-faured words I hae said to ye the
night ; I wish I could forget and forgie them mysel. I'm a wild brier o'
a body; I'm aye into some confounded hobbleshow or anither. But I'm
glad, man, I didna lay hands on ye, for if I had I wad ne'er hae for-gi'en
mysel for't as lang as I live. Can I do naething to mak amends to ye for
what I've done?"
"Naething at a'." replied the
dominie, "but to settle as easily as ye can wi' the laddie's
"Peradventure," Mr Singleheart suggested, "the youth
may he released from his captivity, and sent to the habitation of his
"There'll be twa ways o'
that faith!" exclaimed Grierson. "Na, na, though the hangman has lost a
job, I'll be paid for my trouble. I dinna gang about beating bushes for
Unties, for deil-be-lickit but the pleasure o' seeing them fleein' back
again. I'll cage him. Ye're a' ready enough to wind a hank aff a
neebour's reel, or tak a nievefu' out o' his pock neuk, but ne'er a ane
o' ye'll gie a duddy loon ae thread to mend his breeks, or a hungry
beggar a handfu' o' meal to haud his wame nae slickin' to his back
"There," said M'Harrigle, tossing down a small sum of
money as a bribe to stop the mouth of this snarling terrier of the law,
"tak that, and save the parish the expense o' buying you a tether."
Grierson picked up the monev and departed, leaving
behind him as tokens of his displeasure, some muttered and
unintelligible growlings; and the boy was set at liberty, and sent home
to his father.
"Come, come," said M'Harrigle, "this affair 'll no be
weel ended till we hae sowthered our hearts again wi' a half mutchkin o'
M'Gowan's best. Come, Duncan, draw the tow, and tell the gudewife to
fetch the mutchkin stoup, and het water to kirsten't. I'm sure I'm a
fule o' a body, for my lang tongue, my short temper, and my short wit,
hae keepit me in a fry a' the days o' me."
"Ye're vera right, M'Harrigle," said the landlord,
rubbing his hand briskly at the blithe proposal. "I'll ring for Tibbie;
she'll bring us something worth preein' out o' her am bole. She's a bit
eident body, and aye keeps a drap heart's comfort in an orra
M'Gowan pulled a hare's foot at the end of a rope,
which was suspended from an unhewn piece of knotted wood. of a
three-legs-of-man shape, fastened by a strong screw nail into the wall,
and a solemn bell, most unlike the merry tinkle of an alehouse warning,
was heard jowin' and croorin' in a distant apartment from which our
hostess presently made her appearance.
Her aspect and demeanour at first sight bespoke your
affection. There was in her face a look of blithe contentment with her
condition; in her dress a neat attention to cleanliness and simplicity,
and in her whole manner and behaviour a hearty and honest desire, not
only to be happy herself, but to make all around her equally
comfortable. She curtseyed respectfully and smilingly when she entered
the room; but it was not that cut-and-dried sort of politeness which
publicans in general indiscriminately pay to all their customers;—it was
a kind of friendly greeting, mingled with no small portion of gratitude
towards those on whom she was conscious she depended for subsistence. It
was that warm and kindly expression of affection which brought one who
was removed from his family fireside in mind of his mother, and which
made imagination point out her habitation as a quiet resting place,
where the unsettled sojourner might stop and glean from the barren field
of earthly enjoyment some few ripe ears of happiness.
"My gude will to ye a', gentlemen; I'm thinkin' ye
"That we were," said M'Harrigle. "Fctch us a mutchkin
o' your best gudewife, and some het water."
"Ye'se no want that." replied our hostess; "but ye'll
aiblins aforehand be pleased to tak a tasting o' supper; I hae't ready
for ye yonder, as I guessed some o' ye might stand in need o' some sma
refreshment. I'll send it ben to ye in twa or three minutes, and
syne get ye onything else ye want. Ay will ye," said the motherly, sonsy,
little woman, as she shut the door behind her with a gentleness of hand
which showed that her affections had some regard even for things
A beautiful tall girl immediately made her
appearance, and prepared the round oaken table before us for the
reception of the landlady's hospitality, by spreading over it a
table-cloth of mowy whiteness, and in arranging the shining implements,
which, from their brilliant cleanliness, seemed to be kept as much for
ornaments to the kitchen shelf, as for the more vulgar purpose of
preparing food for the process of mastication. She was evidently the
daughter of the hostess. Her countenance indicated all the amiable
qualities of her mother, but her manners were more polished,—at least
they seemed so, perhaps from the circumstance of her language being pure
English, unmixed with any of the Doric dialect of her parent. By the
mutual assistance of the landlady and her daughter, the table soon
groaned beneath a load of savoury substantialities, most pro-vokingly
pleasant to all but myself. Our chairs being drawn forward towards the
attractive influence of the supper, and grace being said by the reverend
Mr Singleheart, they all proceeded lustily and cheerfully to the work of
"Oogh! " says M'Glashan the
piper, as he opened his Celtic jaws, and disclosed two formidable rows
of white stakes, which stood as a sort of turnpike gate to the entrance
of his stomach, and demanded toll of all that passed that way,—"oogh!
this'll pe tooin' her good, for her fu' bag maks a loot trone."
"Verily, it is both savoury and refreshing," said Mr
Singleheart. as he sawed away with a suppleness of elbow by no means
consistent with the staid solemnity of his usual motions.
"My faith!" said M'Harrigle to the dominie, "your
mill gangs glibly."
''Ay," says the dominie, "the still sow licks up the
draff, and a heapit plate maks hungry men scant o' cracks."
"And scant o havins too, I think," said M'Gowan; "for
the stranger gentleman's sittin' there before us wi'
a loom plate."
"Let him alane," said the dominie; "it's time he were
learning that a man that's hamely's aye welcome, and that frank looks
mak kind hearts."
Cleekum had secreted himself in the kitchen, and,
though indebted to Mrs M'Gowan's fidelity for his preservation from
M'Harrigle's indignation, he was by no means satisfied with the amount
of the night's amusement. It was at all times a source of delight to him
to observe men acting extravagantly and foolishly under misconception
and false impressions of one another; and he at no time hesitated to
invent and circulate fabrications, generally innocent, indeed, as to
intention, but sometimes productive of serious consequences. He was
commonly the most taciturn individual in company, and notwithstanding
his frolicsome and mischievous disposition, enjoyed the reputation among
his neighbours of being a skilful lawyer, and what is still more
creditable, a man of unimpeached integrity. This last quality, in some
measure, atoned for his love of mischief, and enabled him to perform
with impunity wild pranks, which might have seriously injured almost any
When he saw Dame M'Gowan preparing supper, his
whimsical imagination suggested to him the very ridiculous and
extravagant trick of making M'Glashan believe that his favourite
bagpipes formed a part of the entertainment. This he accomplished by
giving a little urchin a penny to steal unperceived into the room and
fetch them away, and an old pair that lay on a shelf in the kitchen
furnished him with the ready materials for carrying his whimsical
conceit into execution. Ribbons of the same breadth and colour with
those which garnished M'Glashan's pipes were purchased, and tied upon
the drone, which was then attached to the "chieftain o' the pudding
race," which had never before perhaps been dignified with such notable
marks of distinction. Mrs M'Cowan whispered to her husband a hint of the
rarity preparing for them in the kitchen, and he gave a sly intimation
of the same to the dominie.
Part of the dishes being removed, the whole company
sat in silent expectation of this new specimen of culinary skill, for
the whispered hint had by this time been communicated to all except
M'Glashan himself. The dominie squinted at M'Gowan, with that sly and
jocular expression of face for which he was so remarkable. The landlord
himself could with difficulty restrain his risibility within the compass
of a well-bred smile. It was evident, from the various workings of his
features, that it required no small exertion to master down his inward
emotion, and keep it from leaping forth and divulging the secret of the
After a delay of a few minutes our good hostess
entered with a pair of bagpipes on a large plate. She placed them on the
table and hurried out of the room, evidently for the purpose of enjoying
a prudential and private laugh. There stood the piper's instrument on
the middle of the table, "warm, reeking, rich," steaming forth its
appetising fragrance, regaling every nose, delighting every eye, and
provoking instantaneous peals of laughter from all but the supposed
proprietor of this fantastical but seemingly substantial piece of good
"Cod mak a mercy on us a'! An' I will teclare, a
poiled pagpipe! Who'll be toing that, noo? Oogh! oogh!" said the enraged
musician, snuffing himself into an ungovernable fit of rage, raising his
brawny and ponderous form into a threatening
attitude and doubling his knotty, iron fists, with the design of
hammering the offender, whose wicked temerity had dared to brave the
indignation of this half-reclaimed mountaineer. "An you'll offer to jag
him, and let out his win' too. oogh! you'll petter be a' looking ower a
house-rigging o' twa storey. You'll poil your tam haggis in my pag, and
setter my trone too, and the vera ribbons I had at the com-petcetion.
Shust mine!" cried the enraged Highlander, looking more intently at the
Scotch haggis with its whimsical appendages. "An you'll no tell me the
man wha would be toing that, I will mak the room my ain in five minutes.
I taur you all to touch him. I'll mak a
tead man o' her—oogh! oogh!"
I was the only individual in the company who seemed
to feel any apprehensions about the consequence of this absurd piece of
waggery. All the rest enjoyed it rarely, not even excepting the Rev. Mr
Singleheart, who, though possessing none of the elements of jocularity
himself, was yet at limes singularly well pleased to second a piece of
innocent fun with his individual portion of jocose laughter.
"Sit down, ye muckle Highland stirk," said M'Harriglc,
"and no mak a sough there about a boiled bagpipe. I'se warrant it's a
bit of glide eatin'; and we'll see what can be made o't when we hae pu'd
awa thae whigma-leeries that are stickin' round about it. Faith!
I wadna gie a mouthu' o' your bagpipe,
M'Glashan, for a' the music that ever came out o' its drone."
"It's quite a musical feast," quoth the
dominie; "only I fear we'll be troubled wi' wind in our stomachs after
making a meal o't. Sit down, M'Glashan," he continued, "for, as you were
sayin' before, a fu' bag makes a loud drone."
"Sit town! sit town! and see six Sassenach teevils
tefour the bagpipes that hae pelanged to a M'Glashan for twa hunder
year! Oogh I won the competcetion too!"
The gaunt descendant of the Gael stood grinding his
teeth, opening and clenching his big bony fists, as if he fancied
himself about to grapple with some sturdy antagonist. His large blue
eyes (laming from beneath the fringe of his knitted eyebrow, the big
muscles encircling the corner of either eye, and curving round the mouth
in deep hard folds, and the outward shelving upper-lip, puckered with a
thousand wrinkles, were rendered more picturesque and fearful from being
hedged round by an uncommon mass of bristly gray hair, two large
portions of which hung on his broad, flat cheeks, like two large bunches
of burned fursc, while the whole rugged exterior was rendered still more
imposing by the association of his favourite guttural interjection, "oogh!"
His aspect lowered so grim and threatening, his "ooghs" became so loud
and numerous, that all began to think it time to soothe the spirit of
this Highland storm, lest its rising wrath should descend with deadly
vengeance on those around him.
The landlord stepped out and returned with
M'Glashan's instrument. The mountaineer looked astonished, snatched it
from him with eagerness, eyed it round and round, hugged and kissed the
darling object of his affection, and poured into its capacious bag a
stream of wind which immediately issued in a wild and stormy pibroch,
Delighted with his own performance, "he botched and blew will) might and
main," mingling, every now and then, with his unearthly music, the
half-recitative bass of a broad rumbling laugh, while M'Harrigle's
rugged terrier, with his two fore paws upon the piper's knees, spun out
long and eerie howls of canine sympathy. It was in vain that we praised
the savoury Scotch haggis, and recommended it to the palate of M'Glashan.
His heart, as well as his wind, was in his bagpipe, and he never once
deigned to return an answer to our reiterated invitations ; but having
exhausted his scanty musical budget, the contents of which amounted to
no more than a few Highland reels and strathspeys, he droned away in
voluntaries so utterly horrible and dissonant, that Simon Gray, after
swallowing a few morsels with as rueful contortions of visage as if
every mouthful had been dipped in sand, ran out of the room holding his
ears, and giving vent to a harsh German ach! which was powerfully
expressive of his crucified sense of hearing. The piper piped on, and
seemed to enjoy a sort of triumph over the wounded feelings of the
departed dominie. None of the rest of the company followed his example,
but each individual sat still with as much coolness and composure as if
his ears had been hermetically sealed against the
grunting, groaning, and yelling of this infernal musical-engine.
M'Glashan's tempestuous hostility at length ceased,
and the dominie returned as the large punch-bowl was shedding its
fragrant effluvia through the apartment, giving to every eye a livelier
lustre, to every heart a warmer glow, and to every tongue a more joyous
and voluble expression. No more than two or three glasses had circulated
when Mr Singleheart and the dominie left the generous beverage to the
enjoyment of the more profane and less responsible members of this
assemblage of convivial spirits.
"He is an ill-hearted tyke who can't both give and
take a joke," said Cleekum, as he burst abruptly into the apartment.
"You would not certainly quarrel with an old friend, M'Har-rigle?"
"No, I'll be hanged if I do," was the reply of the
cattle-dealer; "but Lord, man, if I had cloured Simon, I might hae run
the kintra. Faith! if ye gang delvin' about this gate for fun, ye'll set
your fit on a wasp's byke some day. If I had but gotten my hands ower ye
twa hours syne, there would hae been a job for the doctor. Let there be
nae mair about it;—there's a glass to ye."
"The night drave on wi' sangs and clatter."
One merry story suggested another, till the potent
spirit of the bowl covered some all over with slumber "as with a cloak,"
laid others prostrate beneath the table, and to the maudlin eyes of the
unconquered survivors presented every object as if of the dual number.
The bustle and hurry of preparation in the kitchen had died away, orders
for an additional supply of liquor were more tardily executed, and the
kitchen-maid came in half undressed, holding a short gown together at
the breast, rubbing her eyes, and staggering under the influence of a
stolen nap at the fireside, from which she had been hastily and
reluctantly roused. Cleekum, M'Harrigle, M'Glashan, and myself were the
only individuals who had any pretentions to sobriety. The landlord had
prudently retired to rest an hour before. Silence reigned in the whole
bouse, except in one apartment, and silence would have put down her
velvet footstep there also, but for the occasional roars of M'Harrigle,
who bellowed as if he had been holding conversational communion with his
own nowt; and the engine-without-oil sort of noise that M'Glashan made
as he twanged, sputtered, and grunted his native tongue to M'Harrigle,
who was turning round to the piper every now and then, crying "D------n
your Gaelic, you've spewed enough o't the night; put a bung in your
throat, you beast!"
A few flies that buzzed and murmured round the room
were the only joyous and sleepless creatures that seemed disposed to
prolong the revelry. The cold toddy having lost its delicious relish,
produced loathing, and its former exhilarating effluvia was now
sickening to the nose. The candle-wick stood in the middle of the
flickering flame like a long nail with a large round head, and sending
the light in fitful flashes against the walls. The cock had sounded his
clarion, the morning seamed the openings of the window-shutters with
lines of light, and the ploughman, roused to labour, went whistling past
the door. I opened the window-shutter. A glare of light rushed in and
condensed the flame of our little luminary into a single bud of pale
light, whose sickliness seemed to evince a kindred sympathy with the
disorderly remains of the night's revelry, and with the stupified senses
and exhausted bodies of the revellers themselves.
I looked out of the window. All was silent, save the
far-off whistle of the ploughman who had passed, and the continual roar
of the cataract; and all was motionless, except the blue feathery smoke
which puffed from a single-chimney, and floated down the glen in
a long wavering stream. How chill and piercing the morning air feels to
the nervous and debilitated reveller, and how reproachfully does the
light of another day steal in upon the unseemly disorder of his privacy!
Almost every man feels himself to be somewhat of a blackguard who is
Going home drunk in a summer morning! What a beast!
Feebleness of knees, that would gladly lie down by the
wayside,—headache, that makes the brain a mere puddle
of dirty recollections, and dismal anticipations,—dimness of
eyes, that makes every visible object caricaturish and
monstrous,—filthiness of apparel enough to shame a very scavenger,—and a
heart sick almost to the commission of felo de se. Zig-zag,
thump, thump, down again, howling, swearing, praying. It is a libel on
the brute creation to call it beastliness. Brutes do no such thing. And
the morning, how fresh, clear, green, and glittering! Hang that
fellow,—going to work, I imagine. What on earth roused him at such an
unseasonable hour? To be a spy upon me, I suppose. Who are you, sir?—A
poor man, please your honour, sir.—A poor man! go and be hanged
then.—These birds yelping from that thicket are more unmusical than
hurdy-gurdy, marrowbone and cleaver. I wish each of them had a
pipe-stopple in its windpipe. I never heard such abominable discord. The
whole world is astir. Who told them I was going home at this time in the
morning? Who is that singing the "Flower o' Dunblane" at the other side
of the hedge? A milkmaid— and the milkmaid singeth blithe." Ah. John
Milton, thy notions of rural felicity were formed in a closet. You may
have a peep of her through this "slap." Rural innocence!—a mere
humbug,—a dirty, tawdry, pudding-legged, blowsy-faced, sun-burnt drab.
What a thing for a shepherdess in a pastoral! Confound these road
trustees; they have been drawing the road through a bore, and have made
it ten times its common length, and a hundred times narrower than its
common breadth. Horribly rough; no man can walk steadily on it. Have the
blockheads not heard of M'Adam? In the words of the Lawrencckirk album
"The people here ought to be hanged.
Unless they mend their ways."
Hast thou, gentle reader, ever gone home drunk in a
summer morning, when thy shame, that is day-light, was rising in the
east? Sulky—a question not to be answered. So much for thy credit, for
there be in this sinful and wicked world men who boast of such things. I
am glad thou art not one of them. Neither do I boast of such doings;
for, gentle reader, I went to bed. My bedroom was one of M'Gowan's
garret-rooms. Cleekum and M'Harrigle, who lived at some distance,
thought proper to retire to rest before visiting their own firesides;
and M'Glashan, being a sort of vagrant musician, who had no legal
domicile in any particular place, had always a bed assigned him in
M'Gowan's when he visited the village.