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The Scot Abroad
Chapter 5 - Influence of Manners - Part 4


I now propose to bestow a few pages on the examination of a less solemn, but, in its own way, curious and emphatic relic of the French connection. In Scotland, as in France, the day of chief mark in the winter festivals is the first day of the year, while in England it is Christmas. Scotland too, following the example of France, adopted the 1st of January as the beginning of the year early in the seventeenth century; while in England the 25th of March was the beginning of the year down to the year 1753. Neither of these, however, is the point to which I wish to draw special attention.

The eve that ushers in the new year is called in Scotland Hogmanay Night The young folks then go about soliciting gifts, with a rhyme in their mouths, of which the most accepted form is—

"Hogmanay,
Trollollay,
Give us of your white bread,
and none of your grey."

An amount of austere learning, which it is painful to contemplate, has been exhausted in a vain search after the parentage of these words. Attempts have naturally been made to trace the first to the Greek word which characterises the virtues of the saints; but no further help could be found in that quarter, for the most daring etymologists could find nothing in it to serve as pedigree for the second word. All the fertile resources of Celtic etymology were next let in by the coincidence between the first word and the name which Lucian says the Celts gave to their Hercules—namely, Ogmios—and this gives the etymologist the rare privilege of getting into that magnificent Irish literary system, the Ogham alphabet and the Ogham inscriptions, of which it is the delightful peculiarity that you can read in them anything you please. Without considerable perversion, however, the Celts could make nothing of the second word, which was readily seized on by the northern antiquaries as having something to do with those beings, of no good repute, known as Trolls. But, indeed, all that has been discovered savouring of the reality in this direction is a memorandum of Torfaeus regarding the old heathen festival of midwinter called Jol—merged by the Christians into Christmas: it is, by the way, in Scotland now called Yule. The day which divides the winter, he tells us, is by one old chronicler called Haukunott, and by another called Hekunott. With a candour, however, which affords alike a good example and a striking contrast to our own archaeologists, he says he is totally ignorant both of the etymology and the reason of the term.

Not having courage enough for etymological warfare, I feel much satisfaction in shifting the responsibility, as official people say, and landing it in France, whence we seem to have imported the term, and the curious customs that cluster round it. In two numbers of the French paper ‘L’Illustration,’ I happen to have seen a representation of children going about on New Year's eve, demanding their eguimené, as it is in some districts, while in others it is eguinené, or eguilané. The word had a sort of rattling accompaniment not unlike our own—thus, "Eguimené, rollet follet, Tiri liri;’ and as an equivalent to some petitory lines, which with us generally terminate with, "Oh, give us our hogmanay!" there were verses, of which the following is a specimen :—

"Le fils du roi s’en va chasser,
Le fils du roi s’en va chasser,
Dans Ia
forêt d’Hongrie;
Ah donnez-nous la guillanée,
Monseignieur, je vous prie."

There is in the writings of Frenchmen of learning, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a free-and-easy dealing with contemporary matters of common life, rarely to be found among the Scots authors of the period, scarcely to be found at all among the English. It would seem as if our insulars were afraid of their scholarship being questioned if they descended to common things. It gives a charm to the books of even the driest old French writers, that they speak with freedom of national and provincial customs, and thus keep up their history. While there are abundant notices of the corresponding festival in France, as I shall presently show, the only notice behind the present century, which I can find, of the Hogmanay, is in that collection of ribaldry called ‘Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence Displayed,’ which will not carry us further back than the middle of the seventeenth century. In this passage the etymology is very summarily disposed of in two different ways :—

"It is ordinary among some plebeians in the south of Scotland to go about from door to door on New Year’s eve, crying ‘Hogmana!’ a corrupted word from the Greek hagia mene, which signifies the holy month. John Dickson, holding forth against this custom once in a sermon at Kelso, says, ‘Sirs, do you know what Hogmana signifies? It’s the devil be in the house—that’s the meaning of its Hebrew original." Of the French equivalent I shall have presently to say how far it is traced back in practice. Its oldest use in literature, so far as I am aware, is in Rabelais. While the original might be a little hard on the gentle reader it is always audacious and generally useless to attempt to explain in one’s own terms what Rabelais means, and one is best sheltered by taking the ordinary translation. The eleventh chapter of the second book opens thus :—

"Then began Kissbreech in manner as followeth: ‘My lord, it is true that a good woman of my house carried eggs to the market to sell.’ ‘Be covered, Kissbreech,’ said Pantagruel. ‘Thanks to you, my lord,’ said the Lord Kissbreech; ‘but to the purpose. There passed betwixt the two tropics the sum of three pence towards the zenith, and a halfpenny, forasmuch as the Riphoean Mountains had been that year oppressed with a great sterility of counterfeit gudgeons, and shows without substance, by means of the babbling tattle and fond fibs, seditiously raised between the gibble-gabblers and Accursian gibberish. mongers, for the rebellion of the Switzers, who had assembled themselves to the full number of the bum-bees, and myrmidons, to go a-handsel-getting at the first day of the New Year at that very time when they give brewis to the oxen, and deliver the key of the coles to the country girls, for serving in of the oats to the dogs.’"

The words here translated to go a-handsel-getting are aller a l’aguillan-neuf. Here the translator, Sir Thomas Urquhart, has not actually hit the point, though he has come close to it. The aguillan-neuf belonged to the old year, just as the new was coming; the handsel-day belongs to the New Year itself. It is still in full practice in Scotland as a day of largess. Though there is a natural vigilance on the part of the beneficiaries, which saves institutions of this kind from falling to decay, yet the handsel, which was an old custom in England, has fallen into disuse, having been superseded by that great institution the Box-day. In Scotland, both of the old taxative terms are observed; but as the tax-payer will only give once, it has been necessary to make a division, so that youth takes the one and maturity the other. We shall see that the term is of ancient use in the ecclesiastical records of France, and its etymology and import were critically discussed by French authors as far back as the seventeenth century. It will be seen that in these discussions, and in the older extracts from ecclesiastical records, the Scots word hogmanay is approached from all points, although there is in no instance a parallel to it letter by letter.

The most significant French comment I have found my way to, is that of Menage in his great etymological dictionary. All the world knows him to have been a master of learned gossip, and the very man to pour curious light on such a topic. Under the word Haguignétes he quotes information furnished by M. de Grandemesnil, who says he remembers in his youth that, in Rouen, the word was pronounced hoguignétes, and gives his own theory of the reason for the variation; and he gives a specimen of the way in which he remembers the boys in his own quarter singing it as they solicited their New Year’s eve gifts :—

"Si vous veniez à Ia dépense,
A la depénse de chez nous,
Vous mangeriez de bons choux,
On vous serviroit du rost—
                            Hoquinano."

Menage is further informed by his correspondent that, in Bayeux and Les Vez, the pronunciation is Hoguignames, and then gives a specimen of the way in which he had himself heard it sung in the streets, when practising as an advocate before the Parliament of Rouen. He had very little practice, by the way, being apt, as in the present instance, to occupy himself with matters not relevant to the case before him. The specimen he gives is—

"Donnez-moi mes Haguignétes,
D
ans un panier que voici
Je l’achetai samedi
D’un bon homme de dehors,
Mais lI est encore à payer—
                          Haguinelo."

Menage records his correspondent’s theory of the origin of the word, without either impugning or adopting it. The root is hoc in anno—in this year— as inferring a hint that it is still time before the year expires to do a small act of generosity to the suppliant, so that the giver may pass into the new year with the benefit of his gratitude.

Court de Gebelin, in his ‘Monde Primitif,' quotes a portion of Menage’s information, and gives as his own derivation a gui l'an neuf. This brings us to the border of a vast theory which Cotgrave, in that dictionary so useful to all readers of old French books, thus distinctly announces :—

"Au GUY-L'AN-NEUF.-----The voice of country people begging small presents or New Year’s gifts on Christmas. An ancient tearm of rejoicing derived, from the Druides, who were wont the first of January to goe unto the woods, where, having sacrificed and banqueted together, they gathered mistletow, esteeming it excellent to make beasts fruitful, and most soveraigne against all poyson."

The earliest assertions I happen to have noticed of this theory belong to the middle of the seventeenth century. We have now got back among the Druids, and therefore at an end both of common sense and common honesty, for it is the fatal effect of any literary dealing with this mysterious fraternity to render some men reckless and mendacious who otherwise are found to be cautious and truthful. This phenomenon might be worthy the investigation of psychologists; in the mean time, I am content to attribute it to that awe and reverence accorded by general consent to a set of people of whom so little is known, if they be not almost altogether creatures of imagination. The investigator who lands his difficulties among them is at once relieved by a sort of supernatural influence, which enables him at once to subdue all the impediments which he would in vain have offered battle to by honest investigation and fair induction. So corruptive is this influence that the compilers of the Trevoux Dictionary, in general so cool and sagacious, have at once abandoned themselves to it on coming alphabetically to the heading Aguillanneuf, and have, with a minute precision worthy of a Court newsman, given an account of Druidical processions and other ceremonies, for which there is no more authority in any authentic shape than there is for the occurrences narrated in the tales of the Thousand and One Nights.

To this place of refuge in the sacred groves of the Druids the French archaeologists have found their way through a narrow enough path. It is all along of "guy" or "gui," meaning mistletoe; which we are told by one of the most credulous of authors, Pliny junior, that the Druids cut with a golden sickle. With the French writers who believe in the Druidical connection, it is unfortunately necessary to be sceptical about everything, and especially about their spelling of the New Year’s Day festival itself.

It is refreshing to pass from such company into that of the accurate Charpentier, who, in his supplement to Du Cange, with something like a gentle sneer, refers to the authorities just cited for an account of the Druidical antiquity of the ceremony, and contents himself with quoting the earliest authentic records in which it is mentioned. Thus, he finds that in Boissière, in Poitou, a vigil was held with lamps and lanterns in the year 1480, and the bachelors of the parish collected an aguillanneuf to defray the cost of the affair. He mentions some instances still earlier, and gives the various readings of Aguilloneu, Agufflenneu, Guillenlieu, Haguirenleux, and Haguimenlo.

A word now about some other practices about the New Year, which I cannot help believing to be faded relics of the French connection. On Hogmanay Night it is customary for the young folks to wear masks and offer petty dramatic surprises. The height of this sort of effort is to get into a friend’s house, without recognition, in personation of some very astounding character far away from the position of the youth who assumes it; but this is a feat rarely accomplished [For the fullest account of these saturnalia, reference may be made to the conclusion of Chambers's 'Book of Days.']  Those who thus go a-masking on New Year’s eve, or Hogmanay night, are called guisards or guizers. There is very little on record about their mummeries, but we shall presently see that those of their French teachers were an important and formidable affair. [Of anything I have heard of the theatrical literature of our Scotch guisards, there is little but sheer common city vulgarity, and little worth noting even for its grotesqueness. An ingenious friend remembers in his youth the beginning of a sort of Hogmanay drama, in which there enter three boys, as appropriately armed and costumed as a village can afford, and commence a trialogue, thus :- 1. "I am Bol Bendo - who are you ? "  2. "I am here, the King of France,  Come for a battle to advance." 3. "I am here, the King of Spain, Come for a battle to maintain." In any country with less schooling and history - reading than Scotland, there might be something significant in the place where this mummery was noted being in the same parish with "Little France," so called from a tradition that Queen Mary's French attendants lived there in a small colony, at a time when the great contest between France and Spain was the latest important chapter in history.]

While the children thus went a-mumming, it became the practice of their fathers and other male seniors to take to drinking at the close of the year with a zeal and devotedness reminding one of those ancient rites dedicated to Saturn, from which the practice is said to have arisen, When any man belonging to what are called "the working classes" has a slight touch of dissipation in his temperament, the passing of the New Year is always a serious ordeal. It may chance to send him off into the whirl of eternal dram-drinking, and it seldom fails to start him on a career from which he is not easily recovered. It is usual to call this time of peril "the daft days."

[The temptations of the season, and their influence, are capitally recorded in the following lyric of the late Robert Gilfillan of Leith:-

"I've aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in,
I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in;
It’s what wi’ the brandy, an’ what wi’ the gin,
I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

Our Yule friends they met, and a gay stoup we drank;
The bicker gaed round, and the pint-stoup did clank;
But that was a’ naething, as shortly ye’ll fin’—
I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

Our auld timmer clock, wi’ thorl an’ string,
Had scarce shawn the hour whilk the new year did bring,
Whan friends an’ acquantance cam’ tirl at the pin—
An’ I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

My auld aunty Tibbie cam’ ben for her cap,
Wi’ scone in her hand, an’ cheese in her lap,
An’ drank ‘A gude New Year to kith an’ to kin’—
Sae I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

My strong brither Sandy cam’ in frau the south—
There’s some ken his mettle, but nane ken his drouth !—
I brought out the bottle—losh! how he did grin!—
I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

Wi’ feasting at night, and wi’ drinking at morn,
Wi’ here ‘Tak’ a kaulker,’ an’ there ‘Tak’ a horn,’
I’ve gatten baith doited, an’ donnert, an’ blin’—
For I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

I sent for the doctor, and bade him sit down;
He felt at my hand, an’ he straiket my crown!
He ordered a bottle—but it turned out gin!—
Sae I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

The Sunday bell rang, an’ I thought it as weel
To slip into the kirk, to steer clear o’ the deil;
But the chiel at the plate fand a groat left behin’—
Sae I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

‘Tis Candlemas time, and the wee birds o’ spring
Are chirming an’ chirping as if they wad sing;
While here I sit bousing—’tis really a sin!—
I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!

The last breath o’ winter is soughing awa’,
An’ sune don the valley the primrose will blaw;
A douce sober life I maun really begin,
For I’ve aye been fou sin’ the year cam’ in!"]

Our old allies, if they had not so much steady businesslike drinking, were, however, in some other respects, still dafter in their Fêtes des Foux.

Of these strange affairs it is difficult to give anything like a distinct conception. We cannot easily, in the Britain of the present day, enter into the solemn earnestness with which the wildest ribaldry and buffoonery were systematised as a direct burlesque not only of the highest solemnities of the old Church, but the most sacred mysteries of Christianity. There was in many places a traditional right to perform these fantasies within the churches, and even in their choirs; and the more blasphemous and brutal the exhibition was, the more was a sort of antithetic holiness attached to it. The only necessary limit to the licence of the occasion was, that what was selected for ludicrous travestie must be something either in the Bible itself or in the solemnities of the Church.

If advantage were taken of the excellent opportunity to make the foul fiend or the great traitor excessively ridiculous or offensive, it was, of course, a service to religion. The animals mentioned in Scripture had their share in these ceremonies, and, according to some of the censorious, behaved themselves more discreetly than their human abettors. The whale which gave a lodging to Jonah, and the herd of swine which the evil spirit had entered into, were of course largely available for the objects of these entertainments. Balsam’s ass had in some places a special festival of his own. The whole ceremonies attending it, with the ribald hymns and choruses, the processions and the costumes, are described at length by Ducange, under the head "Festus Asinorum;" and the description is almost as motley a contrast to his solemn comments on feudal usages and medieval dignities, as the scene itself must have been in the great Gothic churches where it was enacted. The "innocents"—that is to say, the children of the district—had their share in these mummeries, and no doubt enjoyed it. Their function was to pay off old scores with Herod, their great enemy; and when the whole of the "innocents" of a large town were let loose among the reliquaries, missals, paintings, and imagery of a cathedral, they were likely to leave some emphatic mark of their presence.

Among the strange shapes taken by these exhibitions, one is signally inexplicable as a feature of Catholicism—-the exhibition of the Mere folle. It was, in fact, a travestie of the Virgin and Child, throwing, on her whom the Romanists are charged with venerating too much, a scurrility which even the most vehement Calvinists would scarce approve. In some places, round the title of the Mere folle there seems to have clustered a sort of body of revellers like the Calves’ Head Club. They had banners, images, and paintings of the Mere folle, and various properties solemnly grotesque, which may be found represented in the curious plates of Du Tilliot, who also gives their macaronic poems, and the documents, in mockery of state papers and ecclesiastical edicts, contained in their muniments.

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries there were many ecclesiastical denunciations of these practices. The following is the tenor of one of the most ample and descriptive of these documents—an ordinance by the Synod of Angers against the Aguillanneuf and its concomitants :—" Whereas the mortal enemy of mankind tries always with his usual cunning to suggest to the minds of men, under the appearance of some good, things of which the fine and holy beginnings change afterwards into sad and wicked effects: Among the rest this instance is not to be despised, that by virtue of a certain custom of antiquity observed in some places in our age, principally in the parishes which are under the Deans of Craon and of Cand, the day of the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, which is the first day of the year, and others following, the young people of the said parishes, belonging to both sexes, go to the churches and houses, begging certain alms which they call Aquilanneuf, the proceeds of which they promise to spend on a candle in honour of Our Lady, or of the patron of their parish.

"Herein we are assured that under cover of some little good much scandal is committed. For, besides that of the said proceeds and other things accruing from the said begging, not a tenth part is spent in the honour of the Church, but consumed almost entirely in banquets, drunkenness, and other debauches, one amongst them, whom they call theft Follet, under this name takes the liberty, as do also those who accompany him, to do and say in the church, and other places, things which cannot decently be uttered, written, or listened to, even often addressing themselves with great insolence to the priest at the altar, and imitating, by divers monkey-tricks, the holy ceremonies of the Mass and other observances of the Church; and under colour of the said Aquilanneuf seize and take from the houses which they enter whatever seems good to them, of which people dare not complain and cannot prevent, because they carry sticks and offensive arms. And besides the above, there are a variety of other scandals. This having come to our knowledge by the remonstrances and complaints which have been made to us by certain ecclesiastics and others, we desiring, in the duty of our charge, to remedy such disorders, considering that our Lord severely, and with blows of a whip, drove from the Temple those who in it sold and bought things necessary for the sacrifices (how much less should they commit such wickednesses as those), reproaching them, that of the house of prayer they had made a den of thieves.

"Following His example, urged by His Holy Spirit, and by the authority which it has pleased Him to give us, we very positively forbid all persons, whether male or female, and of whatever quality or condition they may be, under pain of excommunication, to perform henceforth the said begging of the Aquilanneuf in the church, or in the manner above mentioned, or to make any assembly for this purpose of more than two or three persons at most, who, in performing it, shall be accompanied by one of the Procureurs de Fabrique, or by some other person of full age, not choosing that otherwise they shall perform the said begging, and under engagement to spend in wax for the service of the Church all the proceeds which shall accrue from it, not retaining nor spending a single farthing for any other purpose. We command and enjoin all rectors and curates of churches and parishes, and others having care of souls in this diocese, under pain of suspension a divinis for a month, and of greater penalties in future if this fails, that they neither have, nor permit, nor suffer such things to be done in their said parishes, otherwise than we have declared above."

In defiance of repeated clerical denouncements, these practices retained so strong a hold, that a certain Mathurin de Neuré, who wrote a very angry Latin letter about them to Gassendi, already referred to, described the following as a scene to be witnessed in the middle of the seventeenth century :—

"Neither the priests nor the guardians go to the choir that day. The lay brothers, the porters, the scullions, the gardeners, the cooks and kitcheners, occupy their places in the church, and say that they perform the office suitable for such a festival, when they play at being fools and madmen, which indeed they really are. They dress themselves up in sacerdotal ornaments, if they can find them, but all torn, and turned outside in. They hold in their hands books upside down and absurdly, in which they pretend to read with spectacles, from which they extract the glasses, substituting in their places orange-peel, which makes them look more hideous and frightful than one could believe without seeing them, particularly after they have blown the censers which they hold in their hands, which they do in derision, and made the ashes fly in their faces and cover each other’s heads with them. In this guise they sing neither the usual psalms, nor hymns, nor the Mass; but they mutter certain confused words, and utter cries as foolish, as disagreeable, and as discordant as those of a herd of grunting pigs, so that brute beasts might perform the office of that day as well as they do. It would be better, indeed, to bring brute beasts into the churches to praise their Creator after their manner; it would certainly be a more holy custom than to permit such sort of persons to be there, who mock God by trying to sing His praises, and are more senseless and foolish than the most foolish and senseless animals."

A certain ‘Lettre Circulaire de la Faculté de Paris,’ of the fifteenth century, in which the Fêtes des Foux are discussed, gives the following mildly-philosophic rationale of them: "Our predecessors, who were great people, permitted this feast; let us live like them, and do as they did. We do not do all these things seriously, but only for play, and to divert ourselves, according to the old custom; in order that folly, which is natural to us, and which seems born with us, should escape and run away thereby at least once each year. Wine-barrels would burst if the bung or sluice were not sometimes opened to give them air. And we are old vessels, ill-bound barrels, which the wine of wisdom would burst if we were to let it boil constantly by incessantly addicting ourselves to devotion. We must give it some air and relaxation, for fear that it should be lost and spilt to no profit. It is for that that we give some days to games and buffooneries, that we may afterwards return with more joy and fervour to the study and exercises of religion."

It is evident, however, that practices at once so offensively antagonistic to the prevailing sentiments of their times, and so obstinately retentive of life, must have had deeper roots than any such mild philosophy could nourish. Some seek for them in the Roman saturnalia, others in the heathenism of the northern nations. Both suppositions are mere guess-work, and the field appears to be open to the first thoroughly industrious inquirer. When it is undertaken, there will naturally be associated with it those relics of sculptural ribaldry, a sort of antithesis to all religious solemnity and reverence, to be found in the decorations of old ecclesiastical buildings. There is reason to believe that the relics of these stone caricatures, numerous as they are, are but a small percentage of the examples in the same spirit uttered by medieval art. Several of the ecclesiastical writs, denouncing the ribald ceremonies above referred to, are moved with equal indignation by indecent decorations in sculpture, painting, and tapestry. It is quite natural, in the course of things, that the offensive paintings and tapestry should disappear, while a portion of the sculpture remained.

I have enlarged on the French source of our New-Year’s-Day rites because the matter seems to be curious, and the connection is peculiarly distinct. There are perhaps other features on the face of our national manners that might be traced to the same home, though with less certainty. Some have attributed the propensity in Scotland to indulge in territorial titles to the French connection. There was a long contest with the lairds to make them sign with the Christian and surname, instead of the name of the estate; and it was only accomplished by an Act rendering the territorial signature naught. The name of the estate still lingers in some districts, as a more courteous way of addressing its owner in familiar talk than by his own name; and in the same places formal communications are made to him by both names, with the "of" between them, like the "de" of France and the "von" of Germany. This is a matter in which the rights of women are stronger than those of men; for whereas, among brothers, the eldest, as proprietor, is the only one who can fitly take the name of the estate, it is common for elderly unmarried daughters of lairds to take the title of the estate which may belong to their brothers, or even to their nephews or grandnephews.

It was natural that the Scots gentry, after the Union, proud and sensitive as they were, should keep up the foreign connection. So far as they differed from their English neighbours in home language and manners, they were provincial. A Continental tinge, on the other hand, removed the homespun characteristics, and perhaps gave them a touch of superiority. The five French Protestant universities—Montauban, Sedan, Montpelier, Nismes, and Saumur—were frequented by them till the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Protestants then flocked to Leyden, which sent many of them back as scholars and accomplished gentlemen. The foreign tone has been often observed by strangers in Scotland, and was thus especially noted by Defoe: "There was a consort of musick when I was at Stirling, where the ladies from the neighbourhood made a very good appearance. The young gentlemen in everything imitate the French, and have a hauteur which makes good the French saying — ‘fier comme un Ecossais.’ Their education being in France, and the title of Laird—like Marquis in France—being their general appellation, gives them these French airs."

Any one well acquainted with the Scotland of that period will see in this, not that the Scots, as a people, had imbibed French manners, but that Defoe had met with many who had been themselves educated abroad, or had picked up their tone from assimilation to relations who had so acquired foreign manners. Here, as in all things, the influence of the French connection was superficial and incidental; and in nothing is this more distinctly perceptible than in the scraps of French preserved in the language of Scotland. As I have already remarked, it is of a purer Teutonic tone than the English, which took a tinge of French from the Norman influence. There are many good stories of Scotsmen wandering in Holland, or the Scandinavian countries, finding themselves direly perplexed for a medium of communication with the people, until, in their despair, they tried the broadest of broad "Buchan," and found that successful.

There are no such anecdotes of Scotsmen getting through in France by the aid of their peculiar dialect. The French terms, encased as it were in the common tongue of Scotland, are thoroughly exotic, and have been brought into it to express the special articles to which the foreigners applied them—like cheroots, mullagatawny, chatny, and suchlike terms, at the present day brought over with Oriental articles of luxury. There is something transcendentally Scotch about a haggis; and Burns, in his stalwart lines, has proclaimed its nationality in a defiant spirit, as if he had a misgiving that it might be questioned :—

"Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad tink her spew
          WI’ perfect sconner,
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
          On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trssh,
As feckless as a withered rash,
His spindle-shank a guid whip-lash,
          His nieve a nit;
Through bloody flood or field to dash,
          O how unfit!

But mark the rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread;
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
          He’ll ma it whissle;
An’ legs, an’ arms, an’ heads will sued,
          Like taps o’ thrissle.

Ye powers wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
          That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
          Gie her a Haggis!"

Yet there can be no question that this potent pudding, which I have heard likened to a boiled bagpipe, is the lineal descendant of the French hachis, which Cotgrave interprets as "a sliced gallimaufry, or minced meat."

Our hodge-podge is a gift from the same quarter. A term resembling it is in use in English law: but there is no resisting Cotgrave’s "hochepot; a hotchpot, a gallimaufry, a confused mingle - mangle of divers things jumbled or put together."

[Oddly enough, this dish also is not without its sacred poet, vehemently protesting its Scotchness:-

"O leeze me on the canny Scotch,
Wha first contrived, without a botch,
To mak the gusty, good Hotch-Potch,
          That fills the warns sae brawly:
There ‘s carrots intill ‘t, and neaps intill ‘t,
There ‘s cybies intill ‘t, and leeks intill ‘t,
There ‘s pease, and beans, and beets intill ‘t,
          That scorn through ither sac brawly.

The French mounseer, and English loon,
When they corns daunderin’ through our town,
Wi’ smirks an’ smacks they gulp it down,
          An’ lick their lips fu’ brawly:
For there ‘a carrots intill ‘t, and neaps intill ‘t,
And cybies intill ‘t, and leeks intill ‘t,
There ‘s mutton, and lamb, and beef intill ‘t,
          That maks it sup sae brawly.

And Irish Pat, when he comes here,
To lay his lugs in our good cheer,
He shools his cutty wi’ unco steer,
          And clears his cogue fu’ brawly:
For there ‘s carrots intill ‘t, and neaps intill ‘t,
There ‘s pease, and beans, and beets intill ‘t,
And a’ good gusty mats intill ‘t,
          That grease his gab fu’ brawly.

A dainty Dame she cam’ our way,
An’ sma’ soup meagre she wad hae:
‘Wi’ your fat broth I cannot away,—
          It maks me scunner fu’ brawly:
For there ‘s carrots intill ‘t, and neaps intill ‘t,
There ‘s cybies intill ‘t, and leeks intill ‘t,
And filthy, greasy meats intill ‘t,
          That turn my stamach sae brawly.

She gat her soup: It was unco trash,
And little better than poor dish-wash;
‘Twad gie a man the water-brash
          To sup sic dirt sae brawly:
Nae carrots intill ‘t, nor neaps intill 't,
Nae cybies intill ‘t, nor leeks intill ‘t,
Nor nae good gusty meats intill ‘t,
          To line the ribs fu’ brawly.

Then here ‘s to ilka kindly Scot;
Wi’ mony good broths he boils his pot,
But rare hotch-potch beats a’ the lot,
          It smells and smacks sae brawly:
For there ‘a carrots intill ‘t, and neaps intill ‘t,
There ‘a pease, and beans, and beets intill ‘t,
And hearty, wholesome meats intill ‘t,
          That stech the kite sae brawly."

These lines are taken from a privately printed collection of poems written by my late accomplished and venerable friend, Archibald Bell, the Sheriff of Ayrshire; and I think some of those who merely knew him as a man of business will be a little surprised, if not scandalised, to know that he was capable of such an effusion.]

A special delicacy from the poultry-yard is known by the very Scotch-like name of howtowdy; and this is a special gift from the land of cocks, being no other than the hutaudeau, which Cotgrave says is "a cockerell, or big cock chick." In Burns’s inventory of the contents of Grose’s museum, we have

"Parritch-pats an’ auld saut-backets
Afore the Flood."

The saut-backet, or salt-cellar, is from the French bacquet, just as our old term for a dinner-plate, an ashet, is from assiette, and basnatis, or small bowls, from bassinet. Among Grose’s accomplishments as an antiquary,

"The knife that nicket Abel’s craig
He’ll prove you fully,
It was a faulding jocteleg,
Or lang-kail gully."

The origin of this word joeteleg was long a puzzle, until Lord Hailes solved it by attesting the existence of a large knife with the maker’s name on it, "Jacques de Liege."

The ancient allies have left among us a more formidable memorial in the "bastle-house," or "bastle-tower," generally the name given to the small fortresses built for their protection by the inhabitants of small towns or hamlets near the border.

A considerable number of such coincidences may be found, but I shall content myself with one as a last word. I hope the novels of John Galt, and their descriptions of Scotch life—true, warm, and genial, like the pictures of David Teniers—are not yet forgotten. One of the best of them, ‘The Ayshire Legatees,’ gives us the adventures of a country clergyman and his wife, who have gone to London to secure a large inheritance unexpectedly opening to them by the death of a rich relation. Among the many types of civilised comfort which Mrs Pringle left behind her when she sojourned in that "ausome place," she informed her favourite gossip, who was fortunate enough to be within reach of the luxuries of the nearest "burgh toon," that "there wasna a jigot o’ mutton to be had within the four wa’s o’ Lunnon." It might, perhaps, have consoled her for the ridicule bestowed by her city friends on her barbarous method of applying for that universal commodity, a leg of mutton, had she remembered that her own special term for it was a bequest by the politest nation in the world, and was the way in which the French courtiers of Queen Mary would give their orders in the victualling-shops of Edinburgh.

END OF THE FIRST VOLUME


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