No inhabitant of
Kirkintilloch is better known than Dan, partly from his costumewhich is
as curious as any ever worn by manand partly from his gentle character;
for he is really an innocent in every sense of the term. His face and
figure have now been familiar for two generations on the streets of the
town. His upper garments are not
different from other
peoples; but he wears a veritable woman's petticoat, of coarse blue
material, reaching down to his heels, which gives him a somewhat
Dan manages to live
respectably, being both able and willing to work when he gets the
chance. His chief occupation is carrying in coals for the lieges; and as
he is generally liked as well as pitied, he may be said to have a
monopoly of the business. He has also an allowance from the parochial
board; and as he is often treated to plates of soup and other viands,
besides occasional gifts of pennies, he may be said to be fairly
Every one has their
troubles in this world, however, and Dan does not escape; possibly his
greatest being the frolicsome boys on the street, who delight to make
pretence of stealing the coals under his charge, for the pleasure and
excitement of being chased by him.
Dan values quantity more
than quality, and prefers six big copper pennies to one little silver
sixpence; and it is said that some mean persons take advantage of this,
and palm off halfpennies instead of pennies on poor Dan. When he is
presented with food he devoutly asks a blessing, which is generally of
considerable length: and on Sundays he goes regularly to church,
decently clad, and scarcely recognisable. It is reported, however, that
one night in church he let his book fall in the pew before him, and in
stretching over to recover it his shoes came off with a clatter, and he
nearly followed his book. Our informant naively added, that even the
Auld-Licht folk were obleeged to lauch.
A lady in the East-side
who had got delivery of a cart of coals, had engaged Dan to put them in,
but after waiting some hours for him without his appearance, she
concluded that he was otherwise engaged, and hired another person to do
the work. Dan turned up, however, just as his rival had begun his task,
and stood, sad and sorrowful, till it was nearly completed, when, on the
lady coming out to explain matters, he thus accosted her, "Oh, woman! my
hearts jist like to break to see hoo thae coals is haunlt.
Dan was carrying a can of
milk one day when a mischievous boy said to him that his can was ruinin'
oot The poor fellow lifted it up, poured out the milk, and looked at
the bottom of the can.
A young woman, in a
frolic, urged him to go with her to a church meeting on a certain
evening, and named the hour. He punctually appeared in his Sunday
costume, Bible in hand, and asked if the big lass was in. On being
told that she was away from home, he turned on his heel, and did not
appear at the same house for many months after.
His photograph was taken,
shovel in hand, and one showed it to Dan; being curious to know if he
would recognise his own likeness. He looked at the picture attentively,
and at last said, Fm no sure o mysel', but it's awfu' like my shool.
With all his simplicity,
Dan has flashes of shrewdness. Some one told him that an asylum was to
be opened at Bellfield for a' the daft folk. Aweel, replied he,
theyll no* be mony left in Kirkintilloch.
He was visiting
Luggiebank House, at the time occupied by Mr. Little, and the night
being dark, Dan was furnished with a lighted lantern to enable him to
get home safely; but the poor fellow, no doubt feeling the
responsibility too much, carried it only to the end of the avenue, blew
out the light, carried the lantern back to the house, and thanked the
Dans father must have
been a lively characterhe hopped on one foot from the one end of
Kirkintilloch to the other for a wager, and successfully accomplished
Dans grandfather, or as
he was always called :
OLD DANNY COOPER
was decidedly an
original. He was a decent, well-behaved labourer, and was beadle or
church officer in Dr. Marshalls church. He performed his duties as
beadle steadily and well, but of politeness or tact he was totally
destituteas indeed might be expected,and his terse answers and sayings
gave much amusement.
A young minister was
officiating for the doctor one Sunday, and Danny, after carrying the
Bible to the pulpit, returned to the vestry to shew the young man in,
when he found him adjusting his gown carefully. Danny waited a minute,
but losing patience suddenly said, Ist a richt noo? Oh, yes, said
the clergyman. Come awa' then, said Danny, and marched off without
looking whether he was followed or not.
The late Dr. King
officiating in the same circumstances, asked Danny after service if he
could have a glass of wine as he felt rather exhausted. Danny replied in
his usual manner, Theres nae wine here, but if you like to gie me a
saxpence, Ill gang up to the Black Bull for a gless o whusky to ye.
The regular precentor had
got leave of absence one Sunday, and his place was supplied by a fellow
townsman for the day, who unfortunately fell asleep towards the close of
the sermon. The doctor finished his discourse and gagle some verses of a
paraphrase to be sung, without observing the slumbering leader. Old
Danny, however, was on the alert, and roused the sleeper just in time
for his duty; but unfortunately for him the first line he had to sing
was: Ye indolent and slothful rise, and the laughter that ensued both
inside and outside of the church was such that the poor fellow fairly
left the town in consequence.
The doctor was
instructing one of his classes one evening, and Danny was in attendance.
He always wore thick heavy shoes, and in moving about on the bare wooden
floor he made a good deal of noise. The doctor at last said, Daniel, I
wish you would make less noise with these heavy boots of yours. Danny
however considered this request unreasonable, and replied in a snappish
tone, Davart! I canna carry them on my back, surely, can I?
The church in these times
was lighted by candles, the ends of which were afterwards used in the
session-house and vestry. A Bible-class of young women had met and the
doctor was instructing them, but the candles being few in number, the
room was rather dim. At last the doctor said to Danny, Daniel, I wish
we had some more light. Dannys answer sorely tried the gravity of the
class: The doups are a* dune, sir.
On another occasion when
the people were assembled in the session-house and sitting around the
walls waiting for the doctor, Danny, who was in attendance, and moving
about, stumbled over an outstretched foot, and nearly fell. He recovered
himself, however, and tersely said to the individual who had caused the
mishap, Can ye no' keep in yer feet, dn ye!
Danny was very fond of
whisky, and could drink an inordinate quantity without much effect on
him. He was being treated one day, and after swallowing three glasses
was asked by his host, How do you like that whisky, Danny? I hinna
fand the taste ot yet, replied he.
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