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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Rev. Dr. Norman MacLeod's story of the "Starling"


THE story of the Starling was suggested to Dr. Macleod by the following note which he received from the former editor of the Reformers’ Gazette in Glasgow :—

"Suffer me to give you the following story which I heard in Perth upwards of forty years ago. A very rigid clergyman of that city had a very decent shoemaker for an elder, who had an extreme liking for birds of all kinds, not a few of which he kept in cages, and they cheered him in his daily work. He taught one of them in particular (a starling) to whistle some of our finest old Scottish tunes. It happened on a fine Sunday morning the starling was in fine feather, and as the minister was passing by he heard the starling singing with great glee in the cage outside his door, Ower the water to Charlie! The worthy minister was so shocked at this on the Sabbath morning that on Monday he insisted the shoemaker would either wring the bird’s neck, or demit the office of elder. This was a cruel alternative, but the decent shoemaker clung to his favourite bird and prospered. If he had murdered the innocent, would the Sabbath have been sanctified to him ?—Yours faithfully, PETER MACKENZIE."

From this brief narrative the tale was written; and as a literary production, it is remarkable as being without any love-plot. In his journal the author recorded:

"I am writing the Starling for Good Words, to illustrate the one-sidedness and consequent untruth of hard, logical principle when in conflict with genuine moral feeling, true faith versus apparent truth of reasoning."


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