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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Hawkie's trial discourse


THE real name of the singularly gifted waif, long familiarly known to almost every denizen of Glasgow by the above nickname, was William Cameron. He was born at Plean, in the parish of St. Ninians, and shire of Stirling, some time between 1770 and 1780, but the precise year is uncertain. He states that he first saw Glasgow in the year 1796 or 1797 and he worked for some weeks as a journeyman with M’Luckey, a tailor at the Cross.

Taking a stroll in Glasgow Green on a Sabbath morning in company with another journeyman tailor, they stood and listened to a field preacher holding forth to a large audience.

Hawkie thought him but a lame brother, and said to his companion:

"I could beat him myself."

Next day it was talked about at the work, and one of the men said:

"So you think you could beat the preacher?"

To which Hawkie replied:

"Yes, I could."

On the Saturday night it was arranged that his trial discourse should be preached the next day; and as Hawkie had no black clothes, the other journeyman went to the " "cork" (master) and asked him for the loan of his black suit, pretending that it was for the purpose of attending a funeral. The next day about forty journeymen tailors attended in their trade house of call, in the Pipe Close, High Street, and there Hawkie was dressed in the borrowed black suit—to hold forth in his new profession. They arranged to go to Westmuir, on the road leading to Airdrie; and, accordingly, about twelve o’clock they set out, some forty or fifty strong, picking up recruits on the way, and when they got to Westmuir, Hawkie had quite a large congregation. A man named Donald Bell, journeyman to Mr. Lockhart, tailor above the King’s Arms in the Trongate, was chosen as precentor.

Hawkie’s parents were Burghers, and possessed the works of the Rev. Ralph Erskine of Dunfermline, whose sermons he had often read to his mother, who took great delight in them. Hawkie, who had a good memory, preached one of Ralph Erskine’s sermons from the text St. John xiii. 7; and his voice and elocution being then at their best, he made a good impression on the congregation, and, as he honestly stated afterwards:

"No thanks to me, for Erskine has handled the subject well."

At the close of the discourse an elder was chosen to go round with the "hat" for the collection, into which the "dust" (money) fell thick and fast. At the conclusion, Hawkie thanked them for their kindness, and told them, to quote his own words:

"I was sent by the Haldane Society on an itinerating mission to the west of Scotland, with little more to depend on than the generosity of the Christian public."

At the close of which pathetic appeal a lash of more blunt" (money) was pitched into the hat. He and his boon companions then went on to Camlachie, where they counted the collection, and found that it amounted to thirteen shillings and some odd coppers. How it was spent is plainly and bluntly told by Hawkie in these words:

"That night we spent every ring."


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