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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
The MacNab on his high horse


THAT remarkable personage, the Laird of Macnab, was perfectly furious on the subject of family rank.

"There were, questionless, mony Maister Macnabs; but the auld black chiel may ha’e my saul if I ken but ae Macnab."

It was quite enough to put him in a frenzy, to dignify with the title of chieftain anyone, however high in title or fortune, whom he thought had no claim to that superimperial rank. It is not to be supposed that this was ever done for the pleasure of beholding the laird in one of those passions, which resembled one of his mountain storms.

No; he was by no means the man to hazard such a joke upon, and could he have suspected for a moment (a supposition, indeed, almost impossible) that any person whatever attempted to play upon him, miserable would have been the fate of the unhappy wight who made the experiment. The narrator of this anecdote had a narrow escape from the overwhelming indignation of this genuine Gaelic worthy.

It occurred after dinner, the good laird being a little mellow—for as to being drunk, oceans of liquor would have failed to produce that effect—at least to the length of prostration. The party on whose account the chief’s bile was so powerfully excited was indeed blessed with a more lofty and sonorous cognomen than himself. If it did not indisputably stamp the owner as an ancient feudal baron, an ignorant Lowlander might well be excused for thinking so. We shall suppose it to be Macloran of Dronascandlich—a name trying enough, certes, for the utterance of any common pair of jaws.

Thus commenced the unlucky querist:"Macnab, are you acquainted with Macloran, who has lately purchased so many thousand acres in —shire?"

This was more than sufficient to set the laird off in furious tilt on his genealogical steed.

"Ken wha? the puddock-stool of a creature they ca’ Dronascandlich, wha no far bygane daured (deil tak’ him!) to offer siller, sir, for an auld ancient estate, sir; an estate as auld as the Flude, sir—a gude deal aulder, sir—siller, sir, scrapit thegither by the miserable deevil in India, sir; not in an offisher or gentleman-like way, sir—but (Satan burst him!) making cart wheels and trams, sir, and barrows, and the like o’ that wretched handywark.

"Ken him, sir? I ken the creature weel, and wha he comes frae, sir; and so I ken that dumb tyke, sir—a better brute by a half than a score o’ him!"

"Mercy on us ! Macnab, you surprise me; I thought from the sublime sound of his name and title, he had been a chief of at least ten centuries standing."

The instant this remark was made, the visage of the laird grew ghastly with rage; he snorted in the true Gaelic style; his eyes caught fire; he alternately raised and depressed the skin of his awful front, while every muscle of the whole man quivered with indignation. A fearful tornado was naturally expected; but restraining himself with a convulsive effort, thus he cried, or rather bellowed out:

"By the saul o’ the Macnabs, sir, naething but yere deeabolical Lowland ignorance can excuse ye for sic shamefu’ profanation! Hear ye me, sir :—it’s fifty year and mair bygane, ae time I was at Glasgow, wanting some tyking, or Osenbrugs, or what the fiend ca’ ye them, what ye mak’ pillows and bowsters o’?

"Weel, sir, I was recommendit to an auld decent creature o’ a wabster wha picket up a meeserable subsistence in the Gallowgate.

"I gaed up a pair o’ stairs,—two, three, syne four pair o’ stairs,—a perfit Toor o’ Babel in meenature, sir.

"At last I quat the regions of stane and lime, and cam’ to timmer, sir, about twenty or thretty rotten boords, that were a perfit temptation o’ Providence to venture the foot o’ a five year auld bairn on.

"I gaed in at a hole—door it couldna be ca’d, sir, and there I found a meeserable deevil, the perfit picture of famine, sir, wi’ a face as white as a clout, an auld red Kilmarnock on his puir auld grey pow, and treddle, treddling awa’ wi’ his pitifu’ wizend trotters.

"Wha think ye, sir, was this abortion of a creature—this threadbare, penniless, and parritchless scrap o’ an antediluvian wabster?

"This was Macloran’s grandfather, sir (in a voice of thunder). That was the origin o’ Dronascandlich, sir (in a lower tone, accompanied with a truly diabolical girn), and a bonnie origin for a Highland chief, by the L—d."

Well may the reader exclaim in the words of the Ettrick Shepherd:

"Ay! that was Macnab in the height of his pride !"


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