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Reminiscences of Cromar and Canada
Chapter IV - The Later Eighteenth Century


CONDITIONS in the last decade of the Eighteenth Century may be fairly ascertained from Rev. Robert Farquharson's contribution which he wrote in 1793 to "The Old Statistical Account of Scotland." From this account, as given in Mr. Michie's "Coldstone," the following quotation is taken:—"The people follow, in general, the occupation of husbandry. There are two smiths, one carpenter, two shoemakers and four shopkeepers who sell small articles for the good of the country. The chief manufacture, till about 1789, was that of knitting stockings by the women, the wool brought by the manufacturers from Aberdeen. For three years past, spinning on the two-handed wheel is much introduced and found more profitable. The lint is given out to spin just in the same way as the wool, by manufacturers from Aberdeen, Brechin, and as far south as Dundee. The whole of the inhabitants are members of the established Church and speak, all, the dialect of English common to the North of Scotland.

AGRICULTURE.

"Oats and common bere (barley) are the principal productions of the parish; some pease and rye are also raised but the quantity of these grains is but small when compared with oats and bere.

"Potatoes are of late cultivated by every family, whether farmers or labourers, for their own subsistence. A few turnips are sown,—some in drills and some in broadcast, but for want of enclosures, as winter herding is not introduced they must be pulled before they come to much perfection. The old Scotch plough is almost universally used. Some of the most substantial tenants put twelve oxen in the plough, others ten, others eight; the poorer, some two horses and two cows; some of them, one horse, two cows and two small oxen.

"Clover and rye grass have been cultivated on the farms of Kinaldy, Blelachy and Loanhead with great success but nowhere else except in gardens, for want of enclosures.

"Many of the farmers begin to raise flax, and as there are now two lint mills erected in two of the neighbouring parishes, Towie and Coull, it is thought that it will turn out a %,cry• profitable crop. There are a good many sheep raised in the parish, the greater part of them, of the black-faced kind. They sell at from seven to thirteen pounds the score.

"Black cattle are very much degenerated for want of grass. The farmers send them all, except a few milk cows, to pasture in glens every year about Whitsunday for three months, and, since the sheep became numerous, they generally return as poor as when they went away.

"In 1780, there were five or six carts in the parish, now, in 1893, there are about thirty.

"There are at present, four heritors in the parish :----Lord Aberdeen, Lord Strathavon, James Farquharson of Invercauld and George Forbes of Blelack. The latter is the only residing heritor.

"The valued rent of the parish is 2783 pounds, Scots. Real rent of the parish 782 pounds and ten shillings. 44 bolls and two firlets meal, 181 tolls and one firlet bere (barley). The rents of the principal estates are demanded when due, with certification that if the last farthing is not paid, the tenants (very few of there having tacks) must remove at the first teen of Whitsunday. To avoid this evil, many of them sell meal and bere for ready money, which they have not to deliver, and at that instant, buy the same back from the one that they sold it to at five shillings and three shillings and sixpence the boll of additional price, payable nine months after. Such as have the victual to deliver are obliged to thresh out their crop before they have use for the straw, by which means they lose a great deal of it carrying it out of their barns and building it up in their yards, and it becomes dry and insipid for their cattle. By this uncommon kind of traffic, numbers are reduced to very low circumstances. All the consolation they have is, the one half of them is taught by civil and the other by moral law that whom the Lord loves He chastises.

"Lord Strathavon, who got his father, Lord Aboyne's property in this County, made over to him two or three years ago, has altered the terms of payment of rents from Martinmas till the eighth or middle of February, and from Whitsunday till the middle of August; by which his tenants have an opportunity of making the best of their victual and cattle, and now pay their rents with much greater ease and advantage than they did formerly. If this plan were adopted by heritors generally in this country, it would be of the greatest consequence to their tenants in general, who depend chiefly on the produce of their crops for the greater part of their rent. Improvements in agriculture will never take place in this parish until leases are granted and encouragement given for hours and enclosing. 'Till that happens, the poor farmer will be obliged to adopt the old mode of cultivation, whether right or wrong, though the climate and soil in general are such as would produce good crops of any kind of grain used in the North of Scotland."

"At present, the farm houses are worth very little, and the mode of living very mean. Dwelling houses, when valued on the removal of a tenant are appreciated at from 16 shillings to one pound five shillings. Sub-tenant's from five shillings to ten shillings."

Conditions meaner and poorer than those above described would be hard to imagine, and it is to be hoped that those prevailing a century earlier had not been worse.

The chief cause of the trouble was the barbarous condition of agriculture arising largely, no doubt, from lack of means on the part of the agriculturalists of obtaining such information as was at the time obtainable. Had the proprietors of the day been men of vision and intelligence they might have been the means of introducing improvements which would have proved immensely profitable to themselves and an untold blessing to their humble tenantry. By their default, at least in part, the rude conditions bequeathed by the fathers still obtained. Grey oats, which at best gave yearly increase of but three seeds for one, were persistently sown from year to year on ground but merely scratched by the feckless Scottish plough with its multipeded tractive power. Spring seeding was yearly retarded by lack of drainage, while the selection of early maturing grains apparently had not been thought of. Under these circumstances early frosts in harvest were frequent, destroying or injuring the crops, and not infrequently reducing the country to famine.

The Scotch plough deserves even a fuller description than that given by Rev. Mr. Farquharson. From my father, I learned that this rude implement was made entirely of wood, without an iron part in it except a small piece on the sock or share, and that a mechanic could make the whole contraption in two hours at a cost of something like a shilling sterling. In this my memory is fortified, in part at least, by Mr. Gray Graham, in his "Social Life of Scotland in the 18th century'—in which he says, however, that this famous implement had a coulter of iron as well as a share, in which he is no doubt right. To this author I am indebted for a more detailed description of this plough than that received from any local source. According to him, it was drawn by four or six meagre oxen and two horses like little shelties, or sometimes by twelve oxen, hitched two, three or four abreast. To each unit would, no doubt, he assigned its proper share of the draught by the use of a yoke having some affinity with a three horse yoke still probably in use, and known locally, in my day by its Gaelic name of the "amlinmore" or great yoke. For the operation of the plough, says Mr. Graham, four men were required, one to hold the plough, one walking backwards in front of the cattle to stop and back the team and so relieve tension on the horse-hair traces in the event of sudden contact with an "circle-fast" (buried) stone, a third to go along with a triangular spade to mend errors in the previous furrow, and lastly the ''gad-man" to persuade to energy any laggard in the procession. His duty it was also to exercise his skill at loud and tuneful whistling to stimulate to activity the ill-assorted team which, with sweet accord, might succeed in turning over half an acre of land in a day.' This acconlpli4hnlent would seem to justify the use of the old proverb even under the most energetic performance, "Muckle whistlin' for little red Ian'."

The following quotation from Mr. Graham's book above referred to, describes conditions that I never heard of in Cromar, though that does not prove that such had never existed there. He says, "The fields were divided into separate ridges which were cultivated by different tenants. One small field might be divided into an occupancy of from four to eight persons, and a farm with a combined rent of fifty pounds might have eighteen tenants amongst whom the land was divided by lot each year, or put tip for auction. The tenants had their cottages clustered together, forming what was called the "Farm-town." The quarrels and misunderstandings between these men were violent and incessant. As no operation could commence without mutual help with horses and oxen and men and common arrangement as to crops, they required all to be agreed as to the day and hour of beginning labour, the time and mode of ploughing, sowing and reaping. But as each had his own obstinate opinion on each of these matters, the bickering might cause the lapse of weeks before they all consented to work together and, if possible, to spite each other." He says the ridges (each alternate one of which had a different tenant) were from twenty to forty feet in width, and each tenant in ploughing time insisted on having his ridge gathered nearly every year towards the centre so as to prevent the possibility of any of his soil being gathered on to his neighbour's portion. The consequence was that soon the central part of the ridge, alone became worth cultivating, the seeds sown on the sides producing nothing worth the reaping. The infertile part, therefore, amounting to about half the ridge, left uncultivated, soon became a huge "baulk," or open space, filled with briars, nettles, stones and water. From a foot-note which Mr. Graham copies from Fullerton's Survey of Ayrshire, it appears that even up to 1716 in Clydesdale, near Glasgow, these baulks between the ridges were mostly covered with heath, broom and whins growing among stones. Meantime the cattle, herded together promiscuously in big droves, were compelled from baulk and unploughed lands to gather their scanty sustenance. Their difficulty in so doing will be understood when it is remembered that, tip to 1793 at least, no grass seed was sown, and that such pasture as became available from even the unploughed fields set aside for a three years period of rest on the principle that,

"If land be three years oot and three years in,
'Twill keep in good hert till the dell grow blin',"

was only such as was furnished by the voluntary produce of rammocks and other weeds.

The poor tenants were thus in the grip of a trinity of evils, any one of which would be sufficient to make prosperity impossible :—These were, the lack of security and continuity of tenure; the system of run-rig; and ignorant and slovenly methods of agriculture.

I am not aware that the system of run-rig, as described by Mr. Graham, ever existed in Cromar, but certainly the Scotch plough could not have been manned and operated without the co-operation of neighbours. Indeed I am of opinion that occupants of the smaller farms were bound, in terms of their tenancy, to such co-operation. Certain it is that, tip to modern days, one pair of adjoining farms was each known as a "half pleuch" (plough) which would seem to imply a relationship to each other not unlike that referred to by Mr. Graham.

The land in Coldstone is, as reported by Mr. Farquharson, fertile at least in spots, but all the new land brought under cultivation in modern times is, in its natural state, full of stones, and reclamation is a toilsome process. The modus operandi is to dig the land up in trenches, say three feet or more in width to a depth sufficient to provide for cultivation and growth of the crop, while the loose stones as well as those blasted by gunpowder are thrown on top. When the trenching part of the operation is completed, the field is generally covered—sometimes to a considerable depth, with stones. Of course, the areas more easily negotiated had been in past times, first undertaken, and those left to modern times are doubtless a more serious task, but the easiest would probably have been no light undertaking, even had our fore-fathers been possessed of wheeled conveyances and stronger draught horses. When it is remembered that their usual means of removing the stones was on horse-back, or on a rude sledge as the only alternative, we realize the difficulty of their situation and cease to wonder that they should have had recourse to the slovenly-seeming method of "rig and baulk," that is the clearing of a narrow section or ridge by piling all the stones along the limits of the clearance, making thus a ridge of clear land, then a ridge of stone and so on alternately.

With their many-headed monster teams, the addition of the run-rig system of tenancy was not necessary to render intolerable as well as unprofitable the cultivation of the narrow ridges between the stony, weed-producing haulks. Great indeed must have been the relief when, in the last quarter of the century, the introduction of a two-wheeled cart rendered possible the clearing of the stones from the fields and the emancipation of the plough from the restraint of the baulks. Not less icnlxortant was the introduction nearer the end of the century of the iron plough, which released the milk cow and the fattening ox to the exercise of their proper functions and permitted the whistling gad-man and the two other supernumery attendants, no longer required for the plough, to wield the flail, tend the stock, remove the stones and take their part in all the quickened activities of the farm. Then ceased for ever to have application the rude ballad which lingered still on the lips of the nonogenerian Willie Ley, last survivor of those primative times, whom I well remember:

"I hae guuden gear, I hae Ian' eneuch,
Seven vusen gangin' i' the pleuch,
Linkin, Ower the lea.
An' merry sall we be,
An' if ye winna tak me,
Ye can gat me be.''

Although it is said that early in the century an enlightened Proprietor in East Lothian had introduced long leases, and in co-operation with his tenants had succeeded in introducing improved methods of agriculture, progress in that direction throughout the country generally was exceedingly slow. Turnips, introduced into England from Holland for field culture in 1716, had been tried by only two or three enterprising proprietors in Scotland prior to 1739, and these, having been sown broadcast, never came to much.

The truth is that the dourness and conservatism of the Scottish character as well as the Scotchman's exaggerated notion of his own superiority bound the Scottish agriculturists, both laird and tenant, as with an iron chain to things as they were. In 1708 Lord Haddington introduced into the south of Scotland the use of rye grass and clover, but these the farmers despised as English weeds, and when at last, a few of the more enterprising demonstrated the immense advantages of the new importation, the die-hards, convinced against their will, protested in holy horror that it was a shame, "to see beasts' meat growing where man's meat might grow.'' To the growing of turnips, the same objection, as I have heard, Was raised in Cromar when that most important root was first introduced into that locality. Even that seems less extraordinary and unreasonable than the objection of the non-progressives around Melrose who, accustomed to the famine-stunted cattle of their past experience, declared that they would not eat the flesh of such monsters as Dr. John Rutherford had raised on turnips.

From whatever direction improvement may present itself, whether in the moral, the religious, the social or economic field, there is in humanity something, whether lack of imagination, sluggishness of mind or mere mulishness, that resents its approach. Even the fanning mill introduced from Holland by Meikle in 1710 was denounced as a contravention of Scripture, as being an interference with the freedom of the wind which "bloweth as it listeth," and the simple people would have none of it. Instead they continued to throw their grain up in the draught between two barn doors, or on some hillock, to be winnowed by the free air of heaven, rather than employ a contrivance which for aught they knew might be a device of the potentate which they knew as "The Prince of the power of the Air" and for the accomplishment of some vile purpose.

To me, not the least astonishing fact of 18th century agriculture in Deeside is the extraordinary way in which cattle were fed and treated. Not only were the summer pastures inadequate for their proper maintenance, but the winter feed, which consisted solely of straw, was so scanty that the poor brutes were really famished, even to the extent toward spring of requiring human aid to set them on their feet. Thus reduced, it was deemed necessary to have their still further reduced by copious bleeding for the sake of their health, before putting them out on the grass in the spring. So ignorant were their owners, (or should I say blood-thirsty?), for, be it remembered, the blood was not allowed to go to waste.

HIGHWAYS.

In the early part of the eighteenth century, much inconvenience and suffering were caused by the lack of means of communication between farms and through the country generally. Of highways, such as we know them there were none. Indeed there was little use for them, for throughout the country generally there were no wheeled conveyances. Farm produce and other commodities were carried on horse-back in currachs or creels, a horse in that way carrying about two hundred pounds. In the Highlands such conditions are said to have continued up to the last decade of the century. In Caithness and Sutherland might still have been seen a train of shelties or dwarfish horses in single file, each with an empty' creel on its back, the second and each succeeding unit attached by the bridle to the tail of its fellow next ahead, bound for the distant "moss," to return next morning in the same order, with peat-laden creels, after a night's repose in the open air.

Towards the end of the century, in some parts, the rude sledges of former sears had developed into what was known as a tumbril, by the addition of solid wooden wheels eighteen inches in diameter revolving with the wooden axeltree. These were little more capacious than a wheel-barrow, but were well suited to the ill fed horses which drew them and also to the condition of the highways, which occasionally necessitated the lifting of them by the driver. Indeed, so execrable were the so-called roads, that the offer of Lord Cathcart in 1753, to supply his tenants in ayrshire with farm carts gratis, was almost universally declined, Rev. Robert Farquharson, in his contribution to, "The Old Statistical Account, 1793," elsewhere referred to, reports that there were, in Coldstone in 1780, only five or six carts. When or by whom first introduced, I have not learned, but their appearance could not have been long before 1780. Indeed in no part of Scotland could they have been used on the highways prior to the passing of the Turnpike Act 1751. Up to about 1750 it is on record that in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh farmers conveyed to town, trusses of hay on horse-back, returning with an exchange load of coal.

The introduction of the cart was revolutionary, for it must be remembered, that, on the farm at least, for years after their introduction, these were the only wheeled conveyances of any kind, except perhaps the wheel-barrow. Until its appearance manure was carried to the field on horse-back, and the harvest sheaves brought to the stack in the same way. Old Milton, so named from the farm of that name which he occupied, an old neighbour whom I well remember, was wont to remark in his old age that when he was a boy at Migvie, and the Jamie horse a foal, he could turn out fifteen loads of manure before breakfast. A record not less remarkable comes from distant Caithness through a Mr. Pennant who, as quoted by Mr. Graham, declares that, "The tender sex amongst the Caithnesians are the only beasts of burden: they turn their patient backs to the dung-hill and receive into their keices or baskets as much as their lords and masters think fit to fling in with the pitch-fork, and they trudge to the field in droves." To this Mr. Graham adds that "As they bore their burdens beneath which their backs were bending, they spun the flax on their distaff as they walked."

In Cromar, no record of such treatment of the women folk has survived, though their lot was hard and toilsome in the extreme. Their only mention in connection with the introduction of the cart is a tradition that still lingers in the district. On a farm just across a burn from our own called "The Moston o' the Braes," a cart, a thing then deemed most wonderful and dangerous, had been procured, and the owner, had determined to put it to service in bringing his peats from the hill. The hill road, if road it might be called, was very rough, and it must be admitted that to an unskilful driver the operation was not without its risks,—especially to the horse and cart. On this account so great was the consternation in the household that the women folks spent the time of waiting the return of the men in weeping and wailing as if the latter had been already lost to life and hope.

The lack of means of communication was not confined to the North of Scotland. Up to the year 1754 the six horse coach, which was the sole means of transit from Edinburgh to London, made its passages only once a month, and took from twelve to sixteen days to make the journey of 405 miles. in 1754, it would seem from an advertisement that appeared on the first of July of that year that an important improvement had been about that time introduced. The advertisement reads as follows :—"The Edinburgh stage coach, for the better accommodation of passengers will be altered to a genteel two-end glass machine, hung on steel springs exceeding light and easy to go in ten days in summer and twelve in winter on every alternate Tuesday."

With such roads, it is easy to understand how unsatisfactory must have been the Postal Service. After the Union in 1707 the service was reformed, that for the whole of Scotland costing only one thousand pounds annually. The Post-master General with his office in Edinburgh, and at a salary of two hundred pounds a year, with an accountant and two clerks managed the entire postal business of the country. For some years one letter carrier was able to distribute unaided all the mail matter of the capital with a population of thirty thousand, notwithstanding the great height of the tenements, and the absence of house numbers. In those clays the London snail-bag is said to have contained sometimes, once as late as 1746, only one letter. By the post established in 1735 letters were carried to London in six days and by 1790 the time was reduced to four. Originally letters were carried without the use of postage stamps, on prepayment of postage rates at so much per stage of fifty miles, no letter being allowed to contain more than one sheet of paper. In 1765 an act of Parliament was passed reducing to some extent, the exhorbitant rates theretofore existing. It was not, however, until 1840 when through the influence of the famous Rowland Hill there was passed an Act introducing penny postage, by which, at a uniform charge at the rate of one penny an ounce, irrespective of distance, letters were carried throughout the United Kingdom, that the service became really available, or of much benefit, to any but the more wealthy members of society.

HOUSES AND HOUSING.

Probably the best index of the conditions and degree of civilization and refinement of any people is to be found in the dwellings in which the common people and poorer classes are hot-ed. Of course it is true that while the eirde houses in which our ancestors of the stone age lived are with us still, the dwellings of the common people of the eighteenth century have ceased to exist. It is true that remains of the castles and strongholds of that day, and even of a much earlier period, are with us still, but these give little indication of the nature and wretchedness of the contemporary dwellings of the peasantry and humbler classes of the community.

In 170:, one Morer, an English chaplain describes the dwellings of the vulgar in Scotland as, "low and feeble, their walls made of a fear stones jumbled together without mortar to cement them, so ordered that it does not cost much more to erect a cottage than to pull it down." In these houses there were no chimneys, such as we know them, the smoke unwillingly, and only partially, finding its way out through a hole in the roof directly over the hearth, which occupied the middle of the floor. According to some accounts the human inmates had but one apartment, scarcely separated by pretence of wall or partition from the stable in which the cows were tied, and on the clay floor of such shelters they spent their nights sleeping in their day clothes on beds of heather.

I never heard in Cromar of any approach to a common occupancy by man and cattle, of any building or apartment, and if such conditions at any time existed there it must have been long before the commencement of the nineteenth century. I did, however hear from my elders that before their day the fire-place was in the middle of the floor, and that smoke, of which there was never any scarcity, had to find its way outside, which it very reluctantly did, through a hole in the roof, without a guiding chimney.

The march of progress must have been exceedingly swift. For years before I saw the light of day, the rude shelter which my grandfather called his home, his attached barn in which his stalwart sons had their night's repose, and the connected horse stable and cow byres, all strung out in one long line of poverty and insalubrity, had for ever disappeared, and a new "steading.'' as the stabling of the dumb animal was called, in the form of a square, with a dwelling-house by itself, the whole slated and comfortable, had taken their place. To await my advent, few specimens of the old dwelling.— an these, not likely the worst, --remained. These consisted of four walls in oblong form, about six feet in height, of stone rudely built and set in clay a mortar, with gable of turf. The roof was also of turf, supported by wooden rafters and sheafing of cross poles and thatched with broom or heather. The one door in the centre of the front wall led to a narrow passage or hall, one end of which communicated with the kitchen, and the other with the ''ben'' or parlour end. In both "but" and "ben" there would be found, one and sometimes two "box-beds." Each of these was practically a separate apartment, sometimes two on end, but always separated from each other, as well as from the room of which they were really a part, by a proper partition. Entry to each was from the main room by a separate door swinging outwards. Each bed filled the whole of its assigned space, without window or other means of light or ventilation other than that from the outer room. Presumably, the door of this box would be kept open through the night, but of necessity it would be usually shut during the day, and the ventilation at best was sadly deficient. Undoubtedly these box-beds were responsible for much of the lung troubles that have in Scotland as elsewhere survived their passing. In larger families more accommodation would of course become necessary, and for the boys as they grew up an overflow provision was made in the barn or over the horse-stable.

The floors of these old buildings were all of clay. In the specimens remaining for my observation there was usually a chimney at each end, with some provision thus for heating both the but and the ben. The kitchen chimney was usually a large square or oblong funnel of wood, wide at the bottom and tapering at the top. Indeed, so wide was it at the bottom that under it there was accommodation not only for the "swy," or crane, with its suspended pots and kettles, and the fire underneath, but also for a chair and its occupant on each side of the fire which burned on the hearth without a grate. The fuel was peat or turf which gave a good and sufficient, though as compared with coal or wood a feebler heat, while the smoke, whether from defective chimney or lack of heat-persuasion from the hearth, was sometimes very reluctant to ascend, and therefore had often to be allowed escape through the open door. The smoke nuisance seems to have been as universal as serious, for in all the old houses the wood-work was iapanned by its influence.

Worse conditions, of which smoke is symbolic, were sometimes encountered. A minister, it is said, on one occasion, when about to knock at the door of a parishioner, was surprised by the sudden exit of the man of the house, who solemnly warned him as he suddenly passed him by not to enter, as at the present time there was, "an ill reek i' the noose." The minister, probably well enough acquainted with the smoke nuisance himself, dared an entry only to make a retreat no less precipitate than that of the owner, remarking as he safely reached the outside, "I think there is an ill reek in there." An ill reek indeed it was, for the good minister had on his entry been met by a flying pair of tongs discharged at his head by the irate lady of the house who had mistaken him for her husband.

Around those peat-fires the neighbours forgathered from time to time for what was called the "fore-nicht." There news of kirk and market was discussed; stories of love and adventure recalled; songs of love and patriotism sung, and the inevitable eerie tales of ghosts and haunting, and of witches and warlocks suggested as the neglected fire bunted low. To diversify the amusement, the barn was sometimes cleaned for a jolly dance or four-some reel to the tune of Monymusk or the reel o' 'Tuiloch as discoursed by bag pipe or fiddle. hor night light, they had recourse to splinters from the skeleton-like remains of decayed roots of the Scotch fir, laboriously dug from the woods or recovered from the depths of peat banks centuries old, but still fresh and resinous as of yore. These splinters when lighted burned like candles, but in spite of constant attention, were rather an unsteady and smoky illuminant, though their combustion odour was rather pleasant than otherwise. In return for the shelter of a roof and leave to stretch himself on the bare floor for a night's repose, one of tht many beggars who then infested the country could generally be depended on in earlier times to act as candlestick, and by the introduction of fresh splinters, to maintain a constant, though fitful illumination. A generation later, a metal arrangement with suitable device for holding the fir sliver took the place of the beggar as candlestick, and in remembrance of the services of the latter, was known as "the poor man." Once only, and that in early- boyhood, was I privileged to see the fir sliver in operation. It was set upon an old spade built into the wall under the overhanging chimney. Over the surrounding darkness it cast its flickering light, summoning almost into visibility from darksome corners the ghosts and fairies which had been wont in ancient times to be its companions.

Another though less ancient kind of lamp was the old cruise which consisted of two metal shell-like vessels not unlike gravy boats, with narrow semi-circular spouts at the ends. These were rigged one above the other, both attached at the ends opposite the spouts to a metal upright, with a hook at its upper end by which it was suspended from a nail in the wall. The upper of these vessels was the business section. It was filled with oil and contained the wick, while the under one had the more passive, if not less important office of arresting and retaining any drop that might accidentally, fall from the upper one. The wick. which might be lint or the pith of a water rush, having been first dipped in the oil, was extended so as to project beyond the end of the spout, and the lamp way ready for use. I never heard that in Cromar it was recognised a necessary to observe the phases of the moon for pulling the rushes in order to have good results, but the auld wife o' Auchtermuchty knew well that niches pulled under a waning moon would prove as unsatisfactory for illumination purposes as would a porker for gravy production, if killed under like unpropitious conditions.

In such a house as above described, notwithstanding some modern improvements, lived in my day, honest old John, popularly known as Johnny William. His abode with attached barn, cow-stable and hen-house appropriate to his little croft which stood on the sunny side of the Tamachar hillock, already referred to, consisted of the "but" and "hen" apartments already described. In this humble abode lived John and his wife, and in it they reared two honest, hard-working and industrious boys, who were companions of my own. The side walls were about six and a half feet in height, but the rear wall, infringing somewhat on the bas: of the adjoining hillock, stood above ground perhaps not more than three feet. Below the eaves, the end walls were stone, as were also the side walls throughout, but the gables were composed of "divits" or sods. The interior was neat and clean though the wood-work stained as it was with the peat-reek of many seasons, which no amount of industry would remove, was black as tar. The dwelling-house stood at the westerly end of the line, and in height surmounted the barn and stables two or three feet. The whole line was roofed in the orthodox fashion of a by-gone age, and everything seemed secure against the assaults of wind or weather. No provision had been made, however, against an assault that had never been anticipated. A score of my father's lambs, which had been for sonic time practicing dyke-jumping for the purpose of getting a nibble at turnips in an adjoining field, one day in wild frolic leaped the dyke and breathing the air of liberty bounded tip the Tamachar hillock whence, for a moment they viewed Johnny's heather crowned abode; then sweeping downward like a river in flood, dashed against the rear walI of that establishment, which sonic of them, clearing at a bound, or thrown like wreckage from the crest of a living tide, landed on the roof. Inside in the ingle nook, under the overhanging chimney which came down to within about five feet of the floor, sat poor Johnny, whence, looking up, he could see through the narrowing aperture clear to the sky. Hastily looking upwards he was horrified to see looking down upon him in apparent scorn a face and horns. It was not the face, however suggestive of "Auld Hornie" it may have been, that alarmed the astonished beholder, for well lie knew that attached to head and horns were also the cloven hoofs, several times quadrupled, which were even then making havoc of his thatched roof. No wonder that John was angry, not is it to his discredit that he came in high dudgeon upon nay father as the cause, however innocent, of his misfortune. The angry countenance of the narrator and his excitement, and his recital of a scene so unwonted and so humorous failed of its intended effect, for my fattier could not restrain a local of laughter which added fresh fuel to poor John's just anger. After a few moment's conversation over the business end of the transaction, however, John was ready to join in and enjoy the laugh, and the friendship of many years resumed its course, to flow on uninterruptedly till the separation of 1866.


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