I dedicate this book to my
eldest surviving brother',
LlEUT.-COLONEL R. W. INGLIS,
at whose suggestion I first conceived the idea of writing
such a record, and who has been ever a loyal, loving, and
true-hearted brother to me.
' Let brotherly love continue'
There's kintra fowk, an'
La'land fowk, an' kent fowk;
Fowk aboot, fowk i' the yaird;
But there's nae fowk like
Oor ain Fowk!
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
I little thought when I began
my filial task, that I would ever be privileged to again visit the old glen
and village, and see the old manse on 'the Braes o' Angus.' Still less did I
anticipate such a compliment from the public as the demand for a new edition
almost within a month of the publication of the book; yet, such a good
fortune has befallen me, and I am very grateful. I am indeed conscious that
my critics have been 'more than kind/ It was only to be expected that my
boyish recollections of more than thirty years ago would be in some respects
inaccurate, but I am pleased to find that my mistakes as to facts have been
so few, and in the present edition I think the main portion of these has
been corrected. As to errors of style, I doubt I am too old now to make much
improvement; and as to matters of opinion expressed in the book, I have seen
no reason, so far at any rate, for me to give up my own.
I have received letters from
all parts of the country —from university professors, bankers, ministers,
elders, 'Kintra fouk,' 'Hielant fouk' 'Laland fouk,' and 'Kent fouk'—and all
have alike been complimentary and appreciative. Indeed I have much reason to
be especially grateful and proud that the memory of my dear father and
mother is still so honourably and affectionately treasured by a far wider
circle of 'oor ain fouk,' using the phrase in its larger significance, than
ever I imagined possible.
I have also received many
very curious and humorous contributions to the rural records of the time of
which my book mainly treats. For these I am grateful, and will be glad to
get more of the same sort. I will find a good use for them in my next book,
which I am now more than ever encouraged to produce. One correspondent, for
instance, has reminded me of a good story of 'Painter Tarn' mentioned at
page 159, which I cannot withhold. Tarn, it seems, was one day accosted by a
hulking fellow, very pitted from smallpox, and who fancied himself a great
wit 'The lads' had been tormenting Tarn, and making fun of his pretensions
as a portrait-painter. So up lumbered this fellow, and boisterously asked
'What it would cost to have his portrait painted'? 'Pent you?' stuttered
Tarn quizzically regarding the pock-pitted features, ' P-p-pent you? Lo'd,
min, I wad hae t-t-tae p-p-potty ye first' (putty).
I acknowledge with deep
gratitude the many friendly, indeed flattering, reviews the book has
received from my brethren of the press, and I am very gratefully conscious
of the kind offices and friendly regard of my good counsellor and publisher.
'May ilka guid attend him,' an' lang may the fine old homely virtues, which
I have feebly perhaps, but faithfully I hope, endeavoured to portray in
these pages, be found flourishing among, and characteristic of, 'Oor ain
fouk,' all over this ancient realm, ay, 'an' farrer tee,' as the old Deeside
wifie would say.
Morley's Hotel, London,
10th April 1894.
I WAS in hopes that this book
would have been published about the time of the Disruption Jubilee
Celebrations of last year, but when it was nearly finished I met with a
sudden and serious accident, which for months compelled me to give up all
active mental and physical exertion. My father was one of the heroes of the
Disruption movement, and the main motif of this book is to show what he did
and suffered in those stirring times 'for conscience' sake,' I have used
part of the pamphlet which he himself began to write, but never finished,
and which he wished to leave to his sons and friends as a record and
vindication of the active part he took in that memorable conflict. Other
fragmentary materials have reached me from time to time, from various
sources, and I have endeavoured to weave these into a connected and readable
narrative; and it appeals primarily to all who, by descent or sympathy,
take a personal interest in the history of that splendid struggle for
liberty of conscience and freedom of action in regard to church government,
which is known as 'The Disruption of 1843.'
I am hopeful, however, that
my book may appeal to a wider circle of readers, namely, all who are
interested in the old homely rural life of Scotland. I have tried to give
glimpses and sketches of many of the quaint customs, the curious oddities of
style and dress, the old-fashioned habitudes of thought, and the
strongly-marked individualities of the older generation, which are fast
vanishing before the breath of so-called modern progress. I humbly trust
that my descriptions of the glen, the village, and country town life; the
school games and schoolboy rhymes, the rural industries, the queer
characters, the humorous episodes, the peculiar institutions, the
intellectual and religious outlook of the older generation, etc. etc.,—may
interest the general reader, and form an acceptable contribution to the
deeply-interesting volume of Scottish history reminiscence and portraiture
which has been enriched by such masters of the craft as Gait, Scott, Dean
Ramsay, Barrie, Crockett, George MacDonald, and many others.
With such I do not seek to
class myself, for I have found the demands of my own large business as a
merchant, and my pretty active participation in the public life of
Australia, almost more than enough to tax my energy and industry to the
full. Indeed, I increasingly find that political and commercial pursuits are
becoming more and more incompatible with the exercise of the literary
faculty, so that I am keenly conscious of the literary defects of this
volume. I have had to work at it amid distractions that at times proved
almost overwhelming, and which more than once have forced me to suspend my
In sorting my twenty years'
collection of materials, I have had to set aside a multitude of stories of
Scottish wit and humour, most of which I do not think have ever been
printed. This collection is now almost ready for the press, and if the
reception given to the present book be as encouraging as I am told by
partial friends I may venture to expect, then my original collection of 'Mair
Scotch Stories' may shortly be published.
To my genial friend,
Professor M'Callum, of Sydney University, I must express my thanks for many
a pleasant word of kindly encouragement.
'Craigo,' Strathfield, N.S.W.,
1st July 1893.
Electric Scotland Note:
A small biography
of the author can be viewed here.
Our Glen: its physical Features—My Grandfather as described in The Land of
the Lindsays—My Grandmother—Private Stills—Geordie White and the Gauger—Donal
and the Bees— Sandie Christison and the Bapteezin' o' the Bairn.
The Glen Folk: their Characteristics—The Clachan of Tarfside —Primitive
Farming—A Fine Peasantry—The Eviction Policy denounced—The Expatriation of
the People—Drinking Habits —Excellence of the Whisky—Sandie's Eulogium on
his Dram —Turning the Tables on the Minister—'The Beam in the Eye'.
Royal Visitors to 'The Glen'—Jeems Mitchell and the Queen's 'Powney'—The
Queen and the Herd Laddie—Jeems and the Duke of Edinburgh—Craig-ma-skeldie—The
Loch and its Surroundings—Peat-reek—Char-fishing—The Falls of Unich —Dr.
Guthrie and Auld Jannie—A Shepherd's Biblical Criticism—An Anecdote of Dr.
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.
The Disruption of 1843—My Father's Disposition—His Share in the Fight—His
Memorials of the Disruption—His Translation to Edzell in 1841—Great Increase
of Congregation—Progress of the Controversy—Lord Panmure and Fox Maule—My
Father's Estimate of Panmure's Character—'Persecutions for Conscience'
Sake'—A Sore Bereavement—His Last Sermon in the Parish Kirk—A Noble Record
'for Conscience Sake'—Old Dr. Grant's Story of 'the Flesh Pots'—The first
Free Church Sermon— The Tent in the Wilderness—Increasing Hardships and
Difficulties—Fidelity of the Flock—Humour under Privations— Preaching under
Difficulties—Hostile Attitude of Opponents — Progress of the Struggle—Once
more in a house of his.
Boyish Recollections of the Disruption Sufferings—Our Village— Willie
Carr—The 'Feeing* or 'Term* Market: its Sights and Sounds; its Evil
Features—The Minister and the Drover — A Forced Declaration — Encounter with
'Dubrach' at Ballater Fair — My Father's Athletic Prowess — Dared by Geordie
to 'Haud the Ploo'—The Result—How he cowed the Captain — Instances of his
Strength — His Emotional Nature—An Honest Man!
Our Village School—The Old - time Dominie—Anecdotes—Our Village Dominies—'Peter
Pundwecht'—'Creeshie Pow'— Home Discipline of the old Regime—The Meagre
Mental Equipment of our Dominie—Contrast between the Old System and the
New—Our School Games and Boyish Toys: 'Bools and Peeries'; Hockey—Curling—'Gowf'—The
Teetotum— Jeems Dunn's Letter—Lassies' Games—Quaint Old Rhymes and
Customs—The Annual Blanket-washing—A Contrast— Hogmanay—The Shorter
Carritches—School-book Rhymes— 'Het Rows an' Butter Baiks'—' Nifferin''—Nursery
Rhymes —A Schoolboy Conspiracy and how it ended.
Our Village Characters: their Mental Attitude—Village Poet— Specimens of his
Muse—Rob Qsall the Flesher—Daft Jamie— Willie Burness—Willie Hood—'Sneeshin'
on the Cheap'— Robbie Welsh—Peter McKenzie—Anecdotes.
Village Occupations—The Handloom Weavers—Merchants and Merchantiee—Various
Types—Davit Elshender—A Story of the Egg Market—How Mrs. Paitterson turned
the Tables—A Stingy Couple—Taking the Pledge—Strong Language—Story of Rev.
Mr. Don—John Buchan's Prayer—A Banquet to the Laird—A Dear Denner—Effects of
Mixing Drinks—Drinking Habits of the Time
My Mother's Folk—Montrose Skippers and the Baltic Trade— Presents from
Abroad—A Partial Eclipse—The Homespun Era —Basket Mary—A Rigorous Caste
System—'Tea-pairties'—Wullie D-----'s Hoose-warming—A Sma' Gless—A Heartless
Drucken Husband—Painter Tarn—Anecdotes.
Local Jealousies between County Towns—Curious Nicknames-Aspersions on
Brechin—Origin of the Term 'Reed Lichties' —A Sapient Toon Cooncil—Blin'
Hughie o' Dundee—The 'Spooters' o' Farfar—Celebrities—Singer Jeemer—Peter
Reid and the famous ' Farfar Rock'—The Drawl of the Mearns— Primitive Social
Manners—'No the Whisky but the Here's t'ye!'—The Handloom Industry—Weavers'
Rhymes—Bailie F------ and the Auctioneer—A Vanishing Bottle—Drinking Orgies
and Wild Wagers — Amusing Instance of Local Jealousy.
Kirks—Ministers and Sermons—The Minister's Place in the Social and
Intellectual Life of the People—Sermon Evolution—Tendency to become
commonplace—A rather Exaggerated Parody —Impromptu on a 'Dreich'
Preacher—Frank Self-criticism— The Brechin Beadle—The Collections and Plate
at the Door— Candles—Peppermints—Anecdotes of Dr. Foote—An Outside View of
the Subject—'Great Preevileges' o' the Auld Saints —Literalism of the old
Bible Critics—Rendering Scripture History realistically — Humorous Instances
— Aubraham's Bosom—Pawky Estimate of King David's Character—'The Scarlet
The Old Gloomy Theology—Dawn of a Brighter Faith—The Two Schools illustrated
by Anecdote—Growing Tolerance of Scottish Clergy—Instances of the Old
Intolerance—Weariness of Church Services—Anecdote of Dr. Kidd—'Making the
best of both Worlds'—'Willie White an* how he cheated the Craws'—Sleeping
Acquaintance—Length of Prayers—'Ma ain Bairn'—'Lat the Jews alane'—Old John
Aitken the Beadle —'Resist a' Improvements'—Some Beadle Stories—Anecdotes
—An Eccentric Minister—Plain Criticism—Estimate of my Father's
Preaching—Examples of 'Exotic' Scottish Humour.
The Sturdy, Self-reliant Spirit of the Older Generation contrasted with
Modern Querulousness—An Unpromising Farm—Geordie Ferrier, the Minister's
Man—Co-operative Farming Fifty Years ago—A Farmer-Minister—Geordie's
Peculiarities—The Drucken Barber and the Minister—Wattie Dunlop and the
Barber—My Father's Fairness—A Grannie's Benediction— My Father's Strong
Common-sense—A Disconcerted Fop— Characteristics of my Father and Mother—A
Standing Joke— My Mother's Deep Piety and Keen Wit—Her Belief in Direct
Answer to Prayer—An Authentic Instance—Her Earnestness and Humour—Her Sense
of Duty—Contempt of Meanness— Quaint Criticism on Preaching—Her Farewell
Charge to me.
A Hard-worked Minister—Vigorous of Mind and Body—Details of his Life and
Character—Notes by my Brother George—The Manse Garden—Methodical Habits—Love
of Children—Care for the Servants—Domestic Daily Routine—Fondness for a
Joke—Some of his Stories—A Thievish Urchin—The Imperturbable
Trespasser—Pat's Witty Answer—Habits in the Pulpit—His Favourites in
History—Gentleness and Sweetness of Disposition—Private Devotion—Anecdotes
of Dr. Cruden —Summary of the Old Minister's Character.
'Oor ain Laddies'—What to do with the Boys—David the Boat-builder—An
Eventful Career—Alexander the Merchant—An Early Start—Long Hours and Hard
Work—A Swarm from the Parent Hive—The Merchant's Distinguished Career: his
Character—Robert the Financier—Connection with the Volunteer Movement —My
own Career—The Supposed 'Black Sheep'—Tom the Planter: a Cannie, Couthie
Bachelor— John the Stadent: his Brilliant Promise and Early Lamented
Death—Willie the Banker: his Early Death—George the Minister—Henry 'the
Shargar o' the Klekin'—A Typical Family—Colonising Tendencies of the
Race—The Old Folks' Letters—Unique Circular Notes—Strange Use for a Tract.
Declining Years—Increasing Infirmities—An Assistant and Successor
appointed—The Last Sermon—Closing Scenes—His Strong Faith—Considerate to the
Last—A Noble Dying Testimony—The End: 'Peace'.
The Humour of the Scot