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Oor Ain Folk
Chapter IV


The Glen School—The Prevalent Kindly Spirit—Farmhouse Life— Character gauged from a Gastronomic Standpoint—A stingy Mistress—Jock an' the Cheese—Two Parritch Stories—Outspokenness : Instances—An Interrupted Grace—Jeems Wricht pronounces Doom on Buonaparte—The Minister truly a Representative of the People—Value of Education—A Succession of Clerics—My Father and Uncle : their Boyhood and College Days—Parental Self-Denial—A College Challenge—A Fight and a Duel—A Brawl at Ballater—The Character of the old Manse and old Minister—An Instance of his Quaint Humour —His Death.

In the farmhouses in our glen the very kindliest relations existed, as a rule, between master and man and mistress and maid. My uncle David was for many years, almost a long lifetime in fact, tenant of one of the largest sheep farms at that time in the Grampians. The farm went by the name of 'The Baillies' (locally 'da Bylies'), and he also rented the extensive pastures of Gleneffock, Glencatt, Glenmark, and other glens. He was possessed of quite an uncommon fund of energy and great public spirit. After the Disruption he started, at his own expense, a school for the use of his own large family, and I well remember when, as a young divinity student, the Rev. George Grimm, M.A., had charge of the little heather - theekit building. Mr. Grimm is now one of the most scholarly ministers of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales, was lately Moderator to the General Assembly of that great colony, and he is an author of no mean repute. His sphere of labour then, however, was homely enough in all conscience. It was simply a rough whinstane cot, thatched, as I have said, with heather—altogether most unpretentious; but good, solid, educative work was done there. During the winter months great hulking young shepherds often came to acquire the rudiments of a plain education, though rather late in life for most of them.


[Electric Scotland Note:  Got in this communication through out Electric Scotland Community from Gordon...

Reading the opening segment of chapter IV above, I came upon the name.. Rev. George Grimm, curious as I am,: crazy: I checked a little further and here he is...

Grimm, George (1833 - 1897)

GRIMM, GEORGE (1833-1897), Presbyterian minister, was born on 9 June 1833 at Brechin, Forfarshire, Scotland, the eldest son of Robert Grimm and his wife Mary, née Arnott. After a meagre education he was apprenticed to a stonemason. He attended night school, encouraged by the parish minister, Dr James McCosh, later president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). Dr Thomas Guthrie of Edinburgh described Grimm in his autobiography as 'a youth of superior talents and early piety … he commenced latin grammar, and placing the books before him while at his daily work, he studied and finally mastered it'. He saved enough to pay fees at Aberdeen Grammar School in 1855-56 and then, maintaining himself by manual work and private teaching, won a second-class prize in Greek and the senior-class Straton gold medal in Humanities at the University of Edinburgh (M.A., 1861). After three years at the Free Church New College he offered his services to the colonial committee of the Free Church. On 8 June 1865 he married Mary Hetherington at Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire.

Sent to Queensland that year Grimm arrived in Brisbane and was inducted to Dalby. In 1870 he was transferred to Young and Grenfell in New South Wales. When Young and Grenfell became separate parishes he moved to Young where St Paul's Church and manse were built. In 1879 he was moderator of the New South Wales General Assembly and in 1880-97 served at Balmain West (Rozelle). There another St Paul's Church and manse were built and another congregation was established at Drummoyne where a church was built and named in his memory. Grimm was a faithful pastor; his preaching is said to have been 'evangelical, lucid, scholarly and improving, impaired by a somewhat awkward delivery'. But his greatest gifts were academic. In 1873-97 he was tutor in apologetics and systematic theology in the Theological Hall, St Andrew's College, and from 1886 a college councillor. He also studied botany and astronomy. Using original sources and journals he wrote widely on Australian history and contributed many articles to the Sydney Evening News and the Town and Country Journal. His many books and pamphlets included The Australian Explorers (1888), The Unveiling of Africa (1890), A Concise History of Australia (1891), The Sabbath: Patriarchal, Jewish & Christian (1892), Twelve Lectures on the Immortality of the Soul and the Life Everlasting (1892) and The Bulwarks of our Faith (1893).

Grimm died at Balmain on 2 June 1897, and was buried in the Presbyterian section of Rookwood cemetery. Of his surviving three sons and six daughters, his eldest son, Arthur Hetherington, was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for Ashburnham in 1913-20 and Murrumbidgee in 1920-25, and briefly a minister without portfolio.

Select Bibliography
Testimonials & Certificates in Favour of George Grimm, M.A. (Brechin, 1861); J. Cameron, Centenary History of the Presbyterian Church in New South Wales (Syd, 1905); C. A. White, The Challenge of the Years: A History of the Presbyterian Church of Australia in the State of New South Wales (Syd, 1951); Australian Witness, 9 Dec 1876, 8 May, 10 July 1880; Presbyterian (New South Wales), 11 July 1897; Town and Country Journal, 15 Nov 1879; Sydney Morning Herald, 3 June 1897; General Assembly minutes, 1894, 1898, and Grimm papers (Presbyterian Library, Assembly Hall, Sydney). More on the resources

Author: Alan Dougan

http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A040342b.htm]


Quite a kindly communal spirit reigned in the Glen. Very rarely, in ordinary farmhouses, was any difference made between the kitchen and the parlour, so far as diet was concerned. The children of the household most frequently supped their parritch from the same parritch-pot as the shepherd loons and servant lassies. The fare, though rough and homely, was plentiful, and in the long winter forenichts the spacious kitchen with its flagged floor and wide hearth, in which a glowing peat fire brightly burned, was the scene of much kindly social life and rural domestic industry. The rafters, fast turning black with peat-reek, were hung with hams, sides of bacon, onions, fishing-rods, guns, salmon-spears, and all the nondescript implements of industry or sport. Here on the shelves might be seen a goodly row of cheeses; in one corner potatoes lay heaped up; in another a stack of peats which reached nearly to the ceiling. One end of the apartment was occupied with box-beds for the lassies, which during the day were shut off, like cabins in a .ship, with their sliding wooden doors. The steam from countless homespun garments, wet with snow, mingled with the peat-reek, and filled the kitchen with a misty atmosphere, in which the dim diffused light from homemade tallow candle or pendent on 'crusie' glimmered faintly and fitfully, like a Will-o'-the-wisp in the marshes and bogs outside. The dogs lay extended in every attitude on the uneven floor, and the hum of animated conversation mingled with the ceaseless whirr of the spinning-wheel. Sometimes the drone and skirl of bagpipe and chanter, or occasionally the merry strain raised by some wandering fiddler, set lads and lassies dancing strathspey and reel, till the whole house would shake, as if sharing in the unrestrained merriment of the hearty, kindly, unsophisticated inmates. ,

Each farm had a character of its own, which was generally gauged by the servants from a gastronomic standpoint. Some mistresses had a bad character if they stinted the table supplies; while others, again, though perhaps comparatively contemptible from a high ethical point of view, were credited with all the virtues if they were not too particular in taking every atom of cream from the milk, for instance, or if they were occasionally lavish in their commissariat arrangements.

The following anecdote of one good wife of a niggardly disposition may serve to illustrate this trait. It is a good stock bothy story:—

'Come in tae yer parritch, Jock,' she cried to the herd boy; 'the flees are droonin' i' yer milk!' 'Humph,' said Jock, sotto voce, 'there's nae eneuch o't tae droon a flee!' 'Fat's that ye say, ye impidint baggitch?' retorted the sharp-eared and irascible house-mistress. 'Dae ye mean tae say ye hinna eneuch milk?' 'Oo ay!' again growled Jock, 'I daur say there's plenty for the parritch!'

'Flees' in the Mearns, I may explain, are flies; and fleas are known as 'flechs.'

The next episode, we will assume, refers to the same Jock, who had evidently changed his quarters at the term day. The new mistress was the direct antithesis of the former cheese-paring individual. At all events, the rations in Jock's new quarters were not ' set out by measure,' as they had been under the former regime. To his pleased astonishment, on being summoned to his first meal in his new abode, he beheld a huge platter of bannocks, with a great gaucie cheese and an enormous bowl of fine rich milk set down on the table for his delectation. Judging his present circumstances from his former experiences, we may pardon Jock for thinking that this was his daily allowance; and, being pretty sharp set, he at once made a silent but vigorous attack on the provender.

He made a valorous attempt to dispose of the huge allowance in front of him. Time sped on, and still his jaws continued to work, until at length the farmer, wondering what was keeping the new man so long, came in to see if anything had gone amiss. He good-humouredly addressed Jock, saying: 'Bless me, laddie, are ye gaen tae eat a' day?' to which Jock responded with heartfelt earnestness: 'Dod, maister, dae ye think a chield can feenish a cheese like this i' sic a hurry?'

Another whimsical anecdote, relating to the same old homely custom, is told of a farmer and his man who used to eat out of the same dish of brose. The young wife, however, used slily to put an allowance of cream to the side of the dish from which the goodman was wont to sup; and as he sat on one side of the table and his man sat on the other, the old fellow had no difficulty in securing to himself the coveted luxury. One day, by some mischance, the cream side had been set down opposite Jock the ' plooman,' and the old farmer was a little perplexed how to remedy the mistake without too plainly betraying his selfish design to the presumably unsuspecting man. Jock, however, was not so stupid as he perhaps looked. The farmer, catching the great bowl by the rim, and giving it a swinging twist, which brought the cream side right under his chin, said, in a studiously off-hand sort of way: 'Ay, Jock, that bowl cost me a groat.' Jock, seeing through the trick at a glance, put his brawny fists on the dish, and, reversing the process, brought back the cream to his side of the table, saying: 'Weel awat sir, it wisna dear at the price'; and then plunging in his horn spoon, he made short work of both the cream and the farmer's selfish designs—at all events for that occasion.

Talking of ' parritch' brings up another old-servant story. A faithful housekeeper of the old school had occasion to call her master one day while visitors were in the house with him. She, in her usual peremptory fashion, poked her head in at the door, and asked him to 'come butt the hoose, as his parritch was ready'. When the visitors had left, the old bachelor kindly told

Janet not to be so blunt when strange people were about, but if ever she had occasion again to make the same announcement, she need not blurt out the bare naked truth, but just employ a little polite fiction, and 'instead of saying "parritch," she might just say that a "gentleman" wanted to see him.' So she did, most literally, very shortly afterwards, when a similar occasion had arrived; but as the laird still kept talking to his visitors, and took no notice of Janet's announcement, the old woman came back again in a great state of flustration, saying: 'Come awa' ben, sir, this meenit, or the "gentleman " 'll be stane cauld.'

One great characteristic of the Glen people was their direct outspokenness. This must not be confounded with rudeness. It simply arose from the frank independence of character which led every man to respect his own position and opinions, as he was really under no obligation to any one, except the universally recognised compulsion 'to render honour where honour was due'. In sober truth, the generality of those fine, sturdy, independent old farmers (with no doubt many faults of temper, and a little peculiarity of manner) still very nearly lived up to the grand old scriptural standard, to 'honour all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the king'. They had a directness of speech which would be refreshing in these days, when there is so much sycophantic mealymouthedness. For instance, Lady Gladstone one day asked old Mr. Jolly of Micklestrath, who had been asked to join the laird at dinner after paying his rent, 'Mr. Jolly, can I have a glass of wine with you?' 'Na, I thank ye, ma leddy, I winna tak' it, for I dinna like it.' Then there was the old Scottish minister who, owing to his failing powers, had often to avail himself of the services of young probationers. One day a rather conceited young man, who imagined himself gifted with extraordinary oratorical powers, had preached for the old man, and on descending from the pulpit was met by the minister with extended hands. Anticipating high praise, he affectedly said: ' No compliments, I pray.' 'Na, na!' said the old man; 'nooadays, man, I'm gled o' onybody.'

It might have been the same young gentleman who got a rebuff from an old beadle in this way. He had rather conceitedly said to the old man, ' I don't think I need put on the gown, John. It is only an incumbrance, though some folks seem to think it makes the preacher more impressive.' To which the beadle, having a less exalted opinion of the young man's powers, said: 'Ay, sir, that's jist it, sir; it makes ye mair impressive, and—ye need it a', sir; ay, ye need it a', sir.'

Speaking of the custom of eating from the same pot or dish, I am reminded of another anecdote. One of the old 'wrichts' in the Glen had several apprentices, and when business was brisk there would be even a few journeymen 'hands.' It was the old man's custom always to ask a blessing at the beginning of each meal, and this he did with closed eyes, and at considerable length. The hungry hands from the shop chafed not a little under this infliction, as they were pleased to consider it; and not unfrequently, with much irreverence, they began operations while the good man was hardly half-way through the grace. He often found half the pot cleared before he was able to get begun on the viands; and his wife Janet would not hand him his long chorn spune' till he had said grace. One day there was a fine dish of 'stoved taties' for dinner. The old man was hungry—his teeth fairly watered. He knew the lads would take an unfair advantage, and have 'the stovies' half finished before he had a chance to start. So he scandalised his pious guidwife by hurriedly gabbling: 'Lord bless this food—Jenny, rax me that spune—an' a' praise an' glory shall be Thine. Amen. Sup fair, billies.'

Nor was the kindly feeling confined to farmers and their men; it was just the same between laird and tenant. An amusing instance of the homely simplicity of character of some of these worthy farmers was given me by my dear friend Grigor Taylor. He told it me thus:

During the height of the Napoleonic scare Sir Archibald Grant, Laird of Monymusk, had called his tenantry together to devise means to repel the threatened invasion. Wishing to test the spirit of his followers, he asked: 'How far will you be prepared to go, you Monymusk men, to assist me to repel the invader?' There was silence for some minutes. Then a gaunt form uprose. It was Jeems Wricht, one of the oldest residents on the estate. With great deliberation, but with exceeding emphasis, he said: 'To the vera waas o' Pairis, Sir Archibald!' Sir Archibald had only meant how far they would go with funds, men, and munitions; and after this was explained and settled, a sort of general council of war was held, and pros and cons fully discussed. The general opinion seemed to be that as 'Boney' was sure to discomfit the 'Buchan bodies' on the coast, he would be certain to win his way to such an important position as Monymusk. Here he would be met by the doughty fencibles, now in council assembled, and of course it was looked on as a certainty that that would terminate his career, as he would be sure to be captured. Then came the all-important question, 'What should be done with him after they had captured him?'

Now there was an outlying common, a sort of no - man's - land, on the estate, called Bog Raxie — a sour, uninviting, solitary spot, where tinkers and poachers, and 'orra folk generally, found it convenient to camp when hunted off from more civilised places.

So again the gaunt form of Jeems Wricht arose; and he, as common spokesman, delivered himself of the doom of the mighty Napoleon ; and thus he spoke:

'Pit him till Bog Raxie to pu' hedder for the remainder o' his life, the dagoned smatchet!'

The idea of 'the Scourge of Europe' being sent to pull heather as a fitting punishment for his long career of conquest is tolerably ludicrous.

In our glen, however, at the time of which I am speaking, there were numberless duplications of Jeems Wricht. Quiet, earnest, unimaginative men for the most part, not very refined in speech or manner, but with a certain persistent belief in themselves, a sincere pride in their own local doings, which, though narrow and provincial from the modern point of view, led to many fine exhibitions of kindly co-operation and mutual helpfulness. Especially were they proud of 'their ain minister' if he was at all a capable and whole-souled man.

In most of the Scottish manses of the time the minister was really and truly the trusted representative of the people. He was thoroughly in touch with all their wants and aspirations. Marriages were mostly performed at the manse; the minister presided over the christenings, and did the last solemn services for the dead, and was intimately bound up with every phase of the daily life of the people. In fact no more democratic environment could well have been found than that about the ordinary Scottish manse. In all the long fights against feudal privilege and class tyranny, to their honour be it said, the Scottish ministers, as a rule, took a noble stand on the side of popular rights, and thus became endeared to the peasantry among whom they laboured. My grandfather was undoubtedly a typical specimen of what one writer has called 'the farmer cleric' and perhaps in no other country in the world can we find any type of professional character completely to correspond with this. With all the education of a thorough scholar, and with the instincts of a gentleman, he was yet absolutely in touch with the daily life of the people, and used to share their labours, and identify himself with all the little tragedies and comedies of their humble history.

Knowing from their own experience the value of a good education, the old Scottish ministers were alert to seize the advantages which the patriotism and foresight of the Scottish people had put in the way of all who wished to procure a sound education for their children. Whole volumes might be written of the wondrous self-denial and the pathetic sacrifices made by parents in straitened circumstances to secure the blessings of a good education for those who were to succeed them.

My father, the Rev. Robert Inglis, M.A., who succeeded my grandfather on his death as minister of Lochlee, was the second son, and was born at Glamis, where, I understand, his grandfather, that is, my greatgrandfather, officiated in the double capacity of minister and schoolmaster. If family tradition be correct, his father was also a cleric, so that I can claim to be essentially 'the son of a Levite.'

My uncle David, the eldest son, was a high-spirited young fellow in those early days, and he and my father attended classes at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where many another son of the manse was sent up to take his degree. The two lads, as may be imagined, being freed from the restraints of home, and cast among hundreds of students of their own age, were guilty of many pranks such as are usually associated with students of all times; but they must have made good use of their opportunities, as my father took his degree with distinction, and Uncle David, though not taking any degree in medicine, yet acquired such a practical knowledge of the profession as made him down to his life's end a valued, much beloved, and indeed successful doctor in the Glen, amid the beautiful surroundings of which he lived and died, as the tenant of one of the largest sheep-farms on the Panmure Estates. He was in fact the only practitioner in the district, although he never made any charge for his services.

The two lads had to trudge 'amang the heather' many a weary mile across to Deeside, through the Forest of Birse, thence via Ballater, Aboyne, and Banchory, to get to 'the Granite City'; and though they 'cultivated the humanities on a little oatmeal/ their scanty fare was eked out by an occasional present of homely delicacies from the old Lochlee Manse. But no doubt the thought of the self-denial being practised at home for their sakes would act as an incentive to them. As a matter of fact, the whole history of the Scottish race shows what sterling good men these old universities have turned out; and who can doubt that this is in large measure due to the deep sentiments of love and gratitude evoked, and to the noble aspirations fostered, by the parental self-denial practised under many a lowly roof?

My father was a man of grand physique; standing fully six feet in his stockings, with strength and courage proportionate to his bulk. He was an adept at all the manly sports and exercises of the time, and though wonderfully good-tempered, he could assert himself if his good nature was too much imposed upon. One of his class-mates, the Rev. James Coutts of Newcastle, New South Wales, with whom in after-life I had many a pleasant evening's chat, told me that on one occasion a great bully had been taking advantage of my uncle David's lesser bulk and more slender physique to put some indignity upon him. My father at once took up the quarrel, and wished to inflict signal punishment upon the bully,—as he was well able to do,—but, said Mr. Coutts, 'Your uncle David would have none of this, but determined to fight the man himself; and so a regular challenge was sent, a day appointed, seconds nominated, — of whom, I was one,—and in the meantime your uncle went into regular training. He got your father and myself* (and Mr. Coutts must have been a fine brawny man in those days) 'to stand up to him in our room and pummel him all over as hard as we could pelt, he noting where the blows told most, and he soon found that just under the breast in the region of the heart was the sorest place we could hit him; so when the eventful day arrived, he aimed his blows solidly and doggedly at that particular spot, never caring where his burly antagonist hit him, with the result that, in two or three rounds, the vaunting Goliath was thoroughly knocked out of time by this modern pocket edition of David.'

Another of Mr. Coutts' favourite anecdotes was the record of a duel fought by my father with some lordling or other who had insulted him; but the proceedings terminated somewhat in the manner of Captain Marryat's famous duel recorded in Peter Simple, as the bullets were carefully not put into the pistols by the seconds. It may show something of the affection in which my father was held by his class-mates, when I state that the old gentleman always added, when telling me the story, that he himself lay in wait in a ditch close by, with a loaded gun, determined to shoot my father's antagonist if any injury had been inflicted upon my father.

On one of their annual journeys to join the classes they happened to reach Ballater during the annual fair,—or 'feeing market,' as it is called; and there is an old 'body' in the village of Edzell, now or at least lately still alive, a Mrs. Copeland, who yet tells the tale of the 'ploy' in which the young fellows found themselves entangled. It seems that my uncle David, always being up to tricks and practical jokes, had got into some trouble with several irascible Highlanders, who did not appreciate his high spirits. Being a little fellow, they at length turned on him very angrily, and were about to inflict condign punishment upon him, when my father ran at once to the rescue. But I may let Mrs. Copeland tell the rest:

'My mon, Jeems Copeland (and a fine stalwart mon was he), stood by wi' yer faither, shoother to shoother. Yer uncle had been knockit doon wi a dure in his heid. My mon Jeems and yer faither bestrode him, and challenged the best men in a' the market to stand up to them, but not one would face them'; and then, in accents of intense feeling, the old dame would say, 'I assure ye, he wis a grand mon yer faither, there wisna his marrows i' the Glen.'

I have already alluded to my grandfather's hospitality: indeed his open-handedness to strangers often put his own home circle on short commons, and one can easily imagine how anxious the old couple would often be as they thought of the future of their own large family of girls and boys. The Manse girls, as they were called, were noted far and wide for their good looks and pleasant manners, and were eventually all well married, with one exception—my dear Auntie Jeannie, who remained single. But it was not to be expected that, with the poor stipend of a rural clergyman in those days, my grandfather could give much of a 'tocher' to any of them. However, he managed to give them all a good education, including the accomplishments then in vogue; and the Manse of Lochlee is to this day spoken of by many a guest of these far-off days as having been one of the most delightful resorts for a country visit that could possibly be conceived. Indeed I have met people in all parts of the world who to this day speak with deep feeling of the kindness they experienced there when they were young and happened to visit the Glen.

Much of my father's love of fun and his quaint humour must have been transmitted from the old Lochlee minister; and the sturdy independence of his character and his genuine unobtrusive piety were no doubt part of the same inheritance.

When on his death-bed, my grandfather was much concerned about the future prospects of his numerous family. He had always fully lived up to the limits of his small income, and at times, when he was weighed down with bodily infirmity, his spirits became depressed. My old granny, with beautiful optimism, sought to cheer him up, but he would often revert to the gloomy outlook for his children in the unknown future.

In one of these fits of depression, my grandmother ventured to remind him of a verse of the Psalmist, that he had never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread'; and then she repeated the verse which closes with 'Bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure/ to which the old man responded, with a gleam of his wonted humour, 'Ou ay, guidwife, I was never muckle feared aboot the watter!' This was in allusion to the situation of the Manse, which was almost hemmed in on every side by burns and rivulets, with the loch stretching away in silver radiance almost from the very door,— and, seeing that several times a year the glebe-lands were inundated with mountain floods, this reply was happy enough.

In 1837 the old minister died, full of years and honours; and to this day his memory is kept in grateful remembrance by the dwellers in the Glen, where he had lived a noble, useful, honourable life, and had been for over thirty years a faithful minister of the Gospel.


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