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The History of Sanquhar
Chapter VIII.—Social History


ALL through the long period embraced in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and the first half of the eighteenth centuries, the social condition of the people underwent little or no change. They had maintained a gallant and successful struggle against the power of their Southern neighbours. “How heroic,” it has been justly said, “ was the war of independence ! Its true majesty consists not in a chance triumph like Bannockburn, but in the ardent and sustained devotion to an ideal, in the unfailing courage with which the nation arose again, and lived and fought after disasters that might well have been mortal, as they seemed, in the unbroken unity of purpose that compacted all ranks and all conditions of men into one vigorous, self-sufficing organism.” But though they had thus, by a self-sacrificing gallantry which lias attracted the admiration of all succeeding generations, maintained their country’s liberties, and though the principle of freedom in the abstract was well enough understood by them, still, during the period that succeeded, down to the middle of the eighteenth century, personal freedom was a privilege of which the common people throughout the country knew little or nothing. They had won their country not for themselves, but for the chieftains and lairds. They had successfully resisted the English yoke, only to fall under the yoke of petty tyrants of their own flesh and blood. These barons, armed with feudal power, were ignorant and over-bearing, tyrannical and cruel. The Government was not yet strong enough to keep them under control, and the people who lived within their domains were entirely at their mercy. They lived in strongholds, whose grim walls, grated windows, and iron doors bore testimony to the fact that it was on brute force alone they relied for the maintenance of their position. Within these castles or keeps they led a comparatively idle life, and sallied forth at intervals, followed by their half-naked, half-starved menials, to plunder a less watchful neighbour, or to execute reprisals for a raid perpetrated upon themselves on some previous occasion. Perhaps the last instance of these sanguinary encounters that occurred between neighbouring lairds in this part of the country is that which was fought out at the Moss of Knockonie, which is a portion of the farm of Cosh ogle, and, being in the ancient parish of Kirkbride, was annexed, as is elsewhere explained, to the parish of Sanquhar, the remainder of Coshogle being added to the parish of Durisdeer. The following quaintly worded account of the affray is derived from Pitcairn’s Letters :—

“A small private war between the lairds of Drumlanrig and Cashogle came to a bearing this day (May 12 1621), at the Moss of Knockonie. This moss belonged to David Douglas, brother to Drumlanrig, bnt Cashogle had always been allowed to raise peats from it for his winter fuel. The two lairds having fallen into a coldness, Cashogle would not ask this any longer as a favour, but determined to take it as a right. Twice his servants were interrupted in their operations, so he himself camc one day to the moss, with his son Robert and thirty-six men or thereby, armed with swords, hagbuts, lances, corn-forks, and staves. Hereupon the laird of Mouswald, a brother of the proprietor of the moss (who was absent), sent a friend to remonstrate, and to urge upon Cashogle the propriety of his asking the peats ‘ out of love,’instead of taking them in contcnipt. The Cashogle party returned only conteniptnous answers, ‘ declaring they would cast their peats there, wha wald, wha wald not.’ Some further remonstrances being ineffectual, Drumlanrig himself, accompanied with friends and servants, came upon the scene, shewing that he had the royal authority to command Cashogle to desist. But even this reference failed to induce submission. At length the laird of Mouswald, losing temper, exclaimed—‘ Ye are ower pert to disobey the king majesty’s charge : quickly pack you and begone.’

“‘Immediately, ane of Casliogle’s servants, with ane great kent (staff), strak Captain Johnston behind his back, twa great straiks upon the head, whilk made him fall dead to the ground with great loss of blood. Then Robert Douglas (son of Cashogle) pre-sentit ane bended hagbnt within three ells to the Laird of Drnm-laurig’s breast, wliilk at the pleasure of God misgave. Immediately thereafter, Robert of new morsit the hagbnt, and presented her again to him, whilk shot and missed him at the pleasure of God. Robert Dalyell, natural son to the Laird of Dalyell, was struck through the body with ane lance, who cried that he was slain; and some twa or three men was strucken through their clothes with lances, sae that the haill company thought that they had been killed, and then thought it was time for them to begin to defend themselves; whereupon Robert Douglas and three or four of his folk being hurt, was put to flight, and in flying, the said Robert fell, where the Laird of Drnmlaurig chaucit to be nearest him; wha, notwithstanding the former offer Robert made to him with the liagbut, not only spared to strike him with his awn hands, but likewise discouraged all the rest nuder pain of their lives to steir him. One of the Cashogle party was slain.”

As Pitcairn justly remarks, such an occurrence as this in the South of Scotland, and amongst men of rank and property, shews strikingly that the wild blood of the country was yet by no means quieted. There was a mutual prosecution between the parties; but they contrived to make up the quarrel between themselves out of court, and private satisfaction being, as usual, deemed enough, the law interfered no further.

The barons took no interest either in the improvement of their lands or of the condition of the people. They recognised no duties or responsibilities as pertaining to their position; their sole concern was in the maintenance of their rights and the gratification of their unbridled passions. Under such a state of things, the condition of the common people can be imagined. As we have said, they enjoyed not the smallest degree of personal liberty, and had been, by centuries of oppression, well schooled into unquestioning obedience to the will of their tyrannical rulers, or we might say their owners, for, according to the feudal system that was universal, the people were practically slaves. In the burghs, it is true, they enjoyed in some degree the forms of self-government, but it was more in form than in substance, for the direction of municipal affairs was effectually controlled by some territorial magnate, and thus, for long after it was created a royal burgh, Sanquhar was dominated by the Crichton family. While the lives of the citizens might not be jeopardised by their rulers, as those outside were at the hands of the barons, they were subjected to numerous petty restrictions in such matters as the articles of food, the price of labour, and other social interests, in which the authorities had every countenance in the sumptuary laws of the Scottish Parliament. In some instances, the people were debarred from buying and selling with those who had incurred the displeasure of the authorities—an early example of that terrible weapon of social persecution, the boycot.

An Englishman, passing through Dumfriesshire in 1704, sums up his impression of the condition of the people by the remark that “had Cain been born a Scotchman, his punishment would have been not to wander about but to stay at home and the Rev. Alexander Carlyle, on a visit to the county in 1733, says—“ The face of the country was particularly desolate, not having reaped any benefit from the Union of the Parliaments; nor was it recovered from the effects of that century of wretched government which preceded the Revolution/’ This state of things continued without mitigation down to the year 1748.

The peaceable settlement of the country was retarded by the Rebellions of 1715 and 1745, but these were only the faint flickerings of a waning cause before its final extinction. These rebellions shewed how deeply attached part of the Scottish people were at heart to the Stuarts, who had occupied the throne for several centuries, and had proved either feeble and vacillating, totally wanting in governing capacity, and too weak to cope with a set of haughty and turbulent nobles, or self-willed and cruel, paying little regard to the just and necessary liberties of the people. These insurrectionary movements were, however, supported chiefly in the north country, the lowlands remaining true to the Revolution Settlement. It has to be borne in mind that tho principles of the Reformation had not penetrated the Highlands to any great extent, and, therefore, the Highlanders had a religious as well as a political attachment to a race who, whatever their varying fortunes, and however false and perfidious they might have proved as rulers, had at least been faithful and constant in their adherence to the Roman Catholic religion. Though there were some Papists and Jacobites in Nithsdale and Galloway in 1715, the great body of the people were loyal to the reigning Sovereign. Kirkcudbright or Loch Ryan had been mentioned as a likely landing place for the Chevalier, and measures were devised to meet such an emergency. Major Aikman was despatched from Edinburgh for that purpose. He reviewed the fencible men of the upper ward of Nithsdale on Marjory Muir, in the parish of Closeburn, and afterwards had a meeting at Closebnrn with the leading men of the district. Arrangements were made— “1. That each parish be modelled into companies, and proper officers chosen to that effect. 2. That each parish exercise twice or thrice every week. 3. That upon the first advice of the Pretender landing, each parish should meet by themselves in some convenient place, there to concert what is proper to be done, and it was earnestly desired that they should bring their best arms and ammunition along with •them to that place. 4. That upon the first notice of the Pretender’s arrival at Loch Ryan, Kirkcudbright, or in the Firth of Leith, Sanquhar should be the rendezvous for the western shires; together with other measures. And lastly, That the friends in every particular district fall upon ways or means to make the above said particulars effectual.”— Struthers’ Hist. The first blood shed in this quarter, we learn from Rae, was at Penpont, where one Bell of Minsca, a Jacobite gentleman, who had insulted the guards, and refused to stand when the sentries required him, was shot by one of them through the leg. This was about the end of July, 1715.    “The gentlemen and people in the upper parts of Nithsdale met at Penpont, where they rendezvou’d four hundred men, who performed their Exercises in Battalia, and fired all by Platoons, to the satisfaction of the best judges then present. Besides these, there were upwards of an hundred horsemen.”—Bae’s Hist. In October a body of the rebels was stationed at Moffat, and warning was sent by Lord-Justice-Clerk Cockburn to Dumfries that it was their intention to attack that town by surprise. They broke up their camp at Moffat, and marched straight for Dumfries, their intention being, it would appear, to deliver their attack on Sabbath, which was the Sacrament Sabbath, thinking that on that day the community would be most completely off their guard. But on their arrival within, it is said, a mile and a half of the town, they learnt that the people had been apprised of their coming, and had made every possible preparation. A considerable force had assembled, for notice of the rebels’ movements had been despatched to the whole surrounding country, and the greatest alacrity was shewn in answering to the call. Amongst others was “A braham Creighton of Garland, Provost of Sanquhar, with a company of foot from thence, who being informed that the enemy had invested the town, mounted themselves on country horses, for the greater expedition, and arrived at Dumfries on Friday.” The rebels, finding that Dumfries could not be, as they had hoped, taken by surprise, but was-in a position to make a sturdy resistance, retired and took up quarters at Ecclefechan. There was no one with proper authority to direct their movements, and they marched and countermarched in the most aimless fashion. The English gentlemen declared for an advance into England, saying that they had information from their friends that a favourable reception and aid awaited them ; but the Scottish nobles were opposed to this as, in their opinion, rushing on certain destruction. In this condition of matters, with the leaders quarrelling among themselves, some advising one plan of campaign and others another, the disaffection spread to the men, among whom the same divergence of opinion was manifested; and when a move was made in the direction of Lougtown, the Scots were displeased, and the Earl of Wintoun drew off with a part of his troop. Four hundred of the Highlanders, too, refused to march, and deserted the main body, intending to return to their own country, taking their route through the moors by Lockerbie. They split into two parties at Airikstone (Ericstane), some going through Crawford moor towards Douglas, and the remainder down the Yale of the Clyde towards Lamington. The latter were captured by a body, both horse and foot, assembled by the Laird of Lamington and others, and were imprisoned in the church there. The miners of Hopetoun (the men of Leadhills) and of Wanlockhead intercepted the other party, and made prisoners of sixty of them, the last stragglers being taken near Sanquhar.

We need not pursue the subject of the rebellion further, being only concerned with what relates to the local history.

In the retreat from Derby during the rising of 1745, Prince Charlie, when his army had crossed the Esk, divided it into two parts ; one portion he sent by way of Ecclefechan arid Moffat, and the remainder, which he led in person, continued their retreat by Annan and Dumfries. After leaving the latter town he stayed at Drumlanrig Castle, of which he took possession for the night, the Duke of Queensberry being absent. He occupied the state-bed, while a number of his men lay upon straw in the great gallery. Before departing next day, it is to be regretted that the Highlanders took that opportunity of expressing their love of King James by slashing with their swords a series of portraits representing King William, Queen Mary, and Queen Anne, which hung in the grand stair-case—a present from the last of these sovereigns to James, Duke of Queensberry, in consideration of his services at the Union. (Chambers' Hist, of the Rebellion.) The pictures have been carefully restored, but they still bear the marks of this contemptible act of Prince Charlie’s men. The line of retreat taken was up the Pass of Dalveen into Clydesdale, their design being to march upon Glasgow. There was, till recently, in Sanquhar a small military drum known as “Prince Charlie’s Drum.” Its story was that it was stolen from a party as they rested while passing through the town. This was not on the line of march, but, in all probability, the party were deserters, for, after such a lengthened retreat, the army must have fallen into a broken and dispirited condition ; and while the Highlanders, moved by the instinct of mutual support and protection, might hold together so long as they were in a strange country, others who had no such motive, and felt that the cause in which they had been engaged was now hopeless, would drop off from time to time, and the road up Nithsdale would afford to such a tempting opportunity. The story at any rate was universally believed in the beginning of the century, and has been accepted ever since as authentic. The drum was kept in the garret of the old “doon-the-gate” (South U.P.) Manse. When the house was taken down this relic fell into the hands of a man living near by, whose son sold it a few years ago to a collector of curiosities for the paltry sum of £1. It was exhibited lately at the Military Exhibition held in Edinburgh, being lent for that purpose by his representatives.

These rebellions gave much trouble to the government, and seriously retarded the material and social progress of the country. At the same time, they were not an unmixed evil, for they afforded a reason, and a very sufficient reason, for stripping the heads of clans and feudal lords of their powers of criminal and other jurisdiction which vitally affected the lives and liberties of the people. The administration of justice up to this period had been simply the expression of the will, the arbitrary will of too often a petty and vindictive tyrant, or the haphazard decision of one who, though striving to exercise his powers honestly and conscientiously, had had no training whatever for the adequate discharge of such important functions, and had his judgment perverted by personal or friendly interests. The country was slowly but surely emerging from a period during which the privilege and power of government, which naturally inhered in the Crown, had been usurped by these feudal lords who, each within his own territory, held absolute authority, and paid but the scantiest respect to the legitimate government of the kingdom. The country generally had been kept in a disturbed state for centuries by the political ambitions of nobles and barons, sometimes acting singly, sometimes in combination, encouraged by the fact that, as too often happened, the King was either a minor or had not sufficient firmness and force of character to cope with and keep in subjection these turbulent lords. In the border district this state of matters was aggravated by the reiving raids, which were almost constantly recurring between neighbouring lairds. Holding, as we have said, absolute authority over their vassals and retainers, they involved the whole population in mutual plunder and strife. Such a state of things was incompatible with the advance of civilisation, and the time had arrived when strong measures might, as one writer puts it, be taken for “ameliorating generally the institutions of the Scottish people, and thus disarming them of their ignorant hostility and self-destroying rancour, which, on every trivial occasion, they were ready to put forth at the call of their interested, capricious, and selfish superiors who, happening to be born lairds, supposed themselves entitled to their affection, the fruit of all their toil, and the last drop of their blood whensoever they were pleased to require it.”

An Act for vesting in the Crown the estates of such of the lords as had been mixed up in the traitorous rebellion of ’45 was therefore followed immediately by a general Act, applicable to the whole kingdom, for the abolition of these heritable jurisdictions. Notwithstanding, however, the extent to which these powers had been abused, the holders were treated by the State with the utmost consideration, and as such powers were regarded as private rights vested in certain families, and secured to them by the treaty of Union, compensation was given for their surrender. Among those who sent in their claims we find that the Duke of Queensberry, who had purchased the barony of Sanquhar, and with it the sheriffship of Dumfries, from Lord Crichton, claimed as Sheriff £6000, his whole claim amounting to £14,500; but it was cut down to £6621. This salutary Act came into force in the year 1748. It was, as might have been anticipated, violently opposed, but the miserable end of the recent rebellion had taught the lesson that the days were past w'hen the authority of Parliament and of the Executive Government could be successfully defied. The measure was sullenly acquiesced in, but it proved the most beneficial for Scotland of any that had been passed since the Union. By it “all heritable jurisdictions of justiciary, and all regalities and heritable baillieries, and all heritable constabularies, other than the office of high constable of Scotland, and all stewartries, being parts only of shires or counties, and all sheriffships and deputy sheriffships of districts, belonging unto, or possessed or claimed by any subject or subjects, and all jurisdictions, powers, authorities, and privileges thereunto, appurtenant or annexed, or dependant thereupon, are abrogated, taken away, totallis dissolved and extinguished.” These jurisdictions, powers, and authorities were henceforth vested in the Court of Session, Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh, the Judges in the several Circuits, and the Courts of the Sheriffs and Stewards of the shires or counties, and others of the King’s Courts respectively. The heritable sheriffships were resumed and annexed to the Crown. All judges were by this Act required to qualify by taking the oaths to Government (the same provision applied, it will be observed, to Town Councils), with all procurators, writers, agents, or solicitors practising in any of the Scottish Courts. By this important measure the administration of justice, the purity and efficiency of which lies at the very root of a nation’s well-being, ceased to be the subject of private property, and was transferred to a body of officials, appointed by and responsible to the Crown alone, trained to the profession of the law, and free from local or personal influences. For the first time could it be said that the inhabitants of Scotland were free men. It was some time before all classes of the people could accommodate themselves to the new order of things, but they gradually came to realise that old things had passed away, and that now they were free to practise those arts of peace and industry which were in harmonj with a slowly but steadily advancing civilisation.

The Union, which ultimately was destined to operate to the great advantage of the poorer country, had for a time rather the opposite effect. The more active and enterprising of her sons were drawn across the border by the wider field for the display of their talents, where, engaging in business of various kinds, they, by the exercise of the qualities and virtues which distinguish the Scottish people, speedily amassed considerable fortunes. Appreciating the advantages of a more advanced civilisation, and having, during their residence in the richer country, naturally acquired different social habits, they preferred to remain where the state of society was more congenial to their improved tastes. Others, encouraged by their successes, followed, and thus Scotland was, for a period, deprived of the very men who could have most effectually worked out her salvation from a condition of poverty and indolence. With a true patriotism, the great Forbes and others strove hard to develop the industries of their native land, and were wonderfully successful. The linen trade, and also the fisheries, were those upon the extension of which they principally expended their energies. The records of the Convention of Royal Burghs bear ample testimony to the success with which their patriotic efforts were crowned. In 1727, there were stamped 84,000 yards of linen ; while in 1783, the quantity had increased to no less than 9,000,000 yards. In the chapter on the weaving industry, it is noted that it has been found impossible to ascertain with any degree of certainty when it began in Sanquhar, but it is extremely probable that it contributed its quota, however small that might be, to this national manufacture of linen, for, when it is considered that in the early years of this century there were already over 100 weavers in the town, it is almost certain that weaving had been going on for a considerable time prior to that period.

The latter half of the eighteenth century was therefore the time when, the disturbing effects of the rising of 1745 having subsided, the country settled down to the enjoyment of an era of steadily increasing prosperity. Prosperity was so far, however, only a comparative term, and we find that for long after this date the country was subject to ever-recurring periods of want bordering sometimes on famine. The diet of the people in country parts was of a plain though wholesome kind, made up entirely of the native products of the soil. For breakfast there was oatmeal porridge, which was served with milk or as often whey. Dinner was usually made up of mutton broth, followed by the boiled mutton with potatoes; and for supper, potatoes (often beaten and called “champers”) with milk, or porridge and milk again. This was the daily fare of the inhabitants in small towns as well, except that the dinner had not the advantage of the variety enjoyed in country houses, but all three meals consisted of oatmeal, potatoes, and milk. One can see at a glance, therefore, how completely their condition was dependent on the home harvest, at a time when the baleful Corn Laws were in full operation. These laws at first were directed against the exportation of corn, for in those days more corn was, as a rule, grown than sufficed for the wants of the people, but gradually, by the increase of the population, the exporting of corn altogether ceased, and the restrictions were applied to the importation of bread stuffs. The agricultural interest was sufficiently powerful in the country, and the representative rights of the people in the government were sufficiently ignored to permit of the maintenance of laws of the kind, the design of which, of course, was to protect the interests of landowners, but the certain effect of which was to artificially raise the price of the necessaries of life. The price at which importation was allowed was altered from time to time, and ultimately the prohibitory laws operated by a sliding scale, so adjusted that the price of bread-stuffs was effectually maintained at a very high figure. The home price of course varied with the character of the harvest, and whenever a bad harvest, or worse still, a succession of bad harvests, was experienced the inevitable result ensued. Grain rose to famine prices, entailing upon the working classes suffering of no ordinary kind. It is observable that, in this country, the weather frequently comes in cycles—that bad seasons seldom come singly. At such periods the population were, particularly in country districts, brought almost to the verge of starvation, and diseases, attributable to the want of sufficient nourishment, were common among the poorer classes. A public writer, speaking of a period of this kind says—“Meal became so scarce that it was at two shillings a peck, and many could not get it. It was not then with many ‘ Where will we get siller? but where will we get meal for siller?’ I have seen, when wheat was sold in markets, women wringing their hands, crying—‘ How shall we go home and see our children die of hunger? They have got no meat these two days, and we have nothing to give them? ” The harrowing details which he gives of the sufferings of the poor people remind us of the horrors of a prolonged siege, and all that it appears the authorities could think of for the mitigation of the wide-spread distress was to fix maximum prices, and ordain a solemn fast, on account of the “lamentable stroke of dearth and scarcity.” It might have occurred to them that the people had had enough of fasting.

During the period which we have now reached, the end of the 18th century, the poet Burns often passed through Sanquhar prior to his removal to Ellisland, and visited the town after that time in pursuit of his calling. He was on intimate terms of friendship with Mr (afterwards Provost) Edward Whigham, who kept the head inn, where Burns frequently stayed overnight, and had such boon companions as Mr Johnston of Clackleith, and latterly of Blackaddie, who also became provost in 1791, and Mr Bigg, of Crawick Forge. The poet amused himself in copying out his manuscript productions, which copies he distributed among his friends, Provost Whigham coming in for a large share. He was presented with a copy of the Kilmarnock edition of Burns’ Poems, which is now in the possession of Mr J. R. Wilson, of the Royal Bank, here. This volume contains on a fly-leaf a copy of verses which the poet scratched on a window-pane of the inn one morning after having breakfasted with Mr Whigham and his family :—

“Envy, if thy jaundiced eye,
Through this window chance to spy,
To thy sorrow thou shalt find
All that’s generous, all that’s kind,
Friendship, virtue, every grace
Dwelling in this happy place.”

The pane of glass itself is in the possession of the representatives of the late Mr David Barker. Mr Barker had also a Memorandum in Burns’ handwriting in the following terms :—

Memorandum for Provost E— W— to get from John French his sets of the following Scots airs —

1. The auld yowe jumpt o’er the tether.
2. Nine nights awa, welcome hame, my dearie.
3. A’ the nights o’ the year, the chapman drinks nae water.

Mr Whigham will either of himself or through the medium of that Worthy Veteran of original wit and Social Iniquity—Clackleith—procure these, and it will be extremely obliging to R. B.

Now, Mr Whigham was not provost till the year 1793, and therefore this request was made to him by the poet while he was engaged in the recovery of old Scotch airs aud songs for Mr Thomson’s Collection, within a year or two of his death. Photographic copies were made of this memorandum, and the foregoing is copied from one of these.

The following is a copy of another letter of Burns, addressed, it is believed, to Mr John M'Murdo, Chamberlain to the Duke of Queensberry from 1780 to 1797, who frequently entertained the poet at Drumlanrig :—

Sanquhar, 26th Nov., 1758.

Sir,—I write you this and the enelosed, literally m passant, for I am just baiting on my way to Ayrshire. I have philosophy or pride enough to support me with unwounded indiffereuee against the negleet of my more dull superiors, the merely rank and file of Noblesse and Gentry, nay, even to keep my vanity quite sober under the loadings of their compliments; but from those who are equally distinguished by their rank and character —those who bear the true elegant impressions of the Great Creator on the riehest materials—their little notiees and attentions are to me amongst the first of earthly enjoyments. The honour you did my fugitive pieees in requesting copies of them is so highly flattering to my feelings and I’oetie ambition, that I could not resist even this half opportunity of serawling off for you the enelosed as a small but honest testimony how truly and gratefully I have the honour to be, Sir, your deeply obliged humble servant,    Robert    Burns.

Elsewhere, in connection with Municipal, Agricultural, and Industrial matters, the attempt is made to convey some idea of the condition of the town prior to the beginning of the present century, but the materials are very meagre. As is stated in the preface, there is this serious disadvantage that the records of a place, which are frequently of the utmost value as sources of information in compiling its local history, are singularly deficient so far as Sanquhar is concerned. We are thus prevented, in a narration of the facts relating its general history, from going further back than the date above mentioned.

Taking, therefore, the beginning of this century as our starting-point, the attention is first arrested by the cloud that then overhung the town, as it did the whole country. Following the period of great prosperity which marked the last decade of the eighteenth century, the depression which characterised the opening years of this was felt with all the greater keenness. The country having recovered from the political disturbances caused by the expiring efforts of the Stuarts to regain the throne, which culminated in the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, the benefits of the interchange of commerce between Scotland and England, following upon the Union, and the great stimulus given to trade by the efforts of patriotic Scotsmen and the introduction of cotton, had combined to work a perfect revolution in the social condition of the country. Employment was now abundant, and wages had advanced, and the pulse of a commercial activity and enterprise, which the country had never previously experienced, beat full and strong, when the black shadow of war fell on the Continent and destroyed the whole fair prospect. That arch-disturber of the peace of the nations, Napoleon, had begun his career of ambitious and self-seeking policy, which was destined to entail untold sufferings and sacrifices until his final overthrow at Waterloo. Apart from, and in addition to, the enormous losses in the field of both blood and treasure, trade was paralysed, and though the iron hoof of war was never imprinted on British soil, our country in other respects had to bear the brunt of the final struggle. The pride which, in spite of the poverty and misery they had to endure, the people took in the successes of the British arms in the Peninsula, bore testimony to their heroic spirit. It was the common topic at every fireside, and the children, catching the spirit of their sires, went about the fields with sticks slashing the heads off the thistles, taking the weeds for Frenchmen.

It was during this period that, as has been noted, the Town Council had once and again to come to the relief of the unemployed weavers, who were in a state of starvation, and had to take measures to secure a supply of oatmeal, which the poor people could not procure even for money. As illustrating the straits to which they were reduced, we know of the case of the father of a large family in the locality who, procuring a reading of a newspaper—for there were very few in circulation at that time—observed a notice of the expected arrival of a vessel iu the Port of Leith with a cargo of pease. Borrowing a pony, he set out with the object of securing a quantity of the pease, and arrived in time. Having bought at the ship’s side as many as the pony could carry in a sack hung over pannier-wise, he returned home rejoicing. So long as the pease lasted, the principal food of the family was pea-bannocks.

The large number of French prisoners who fell into the hands of the British were distributed over the country. The party sent to Sanquhar was composed of certain officers with their servants. They were stationed here for several years on their 'parole d’honneur, but were not allowed to pass beyond a circuit of three miles from the town. They were of all nations—French, Italian, Poles, &c.—for soldiers of fortune of almost all the continental nations flocked to Napoleon’s standard. One was named Dufaure, another Wysilaski, another Delizia, and so on. They were handsome young fellows, had all the manners of gentlemen, and, living a life of enforced idleness, they became great favourites with the ladies, with whose hearts they played sad havoc, and, we regret to have to record, in some instances with their virtue. The banks of Crawick would appear to have been a favourite resort of theirs. On a rock in the Holm Walks one Luogo di Delizia has inscribed his name, with the date “ 1812” underneath. Lower down, the date “1814” is cut in similar style ; while to the right are two concentric circular lines containing the French word “Souvenir,” plainly, though rudely, carved between. Their customary bathing place was a pool behind the Holm house, which bears to this day the name of the “Sodger’s Pool.” They were drafted off in batches as each exchange of prisoners' took place, and it is said that some of them fell at Waterloo. They had all been removed before that time, the last leaving early in 1815, with the exception, perhaps, of one, Angus M'Gregor by name, whose father had had to take refuge in France for the part he had taken in the Rebellion of ’45. Angus, it appears, had learnt hand-loom weaving, and practised the trade so long as he was in Sanquhar.

The year 1826 was the “dry year,” elsewhere referred to. It was followed by a snow-storm in the spring of 1827, still spoken of as the “big snaw.” It began on Saturday, the 3rd March, with showers of small flakes, and increased as the day advanced, till, as night set in, the fall became thick and fast, and was accompanied by a fierce gale of wind. The result was that drifting occurred, blocking up the roads, which had to be “cast” for the passage of the mail coach, and the wall of snow on either side was at points so high as to completely hide the coach as it passed along. The inmates of many of the houses—single storey thatched ones— had their communication cut off, and on the Sabbath morning, when they opened their doors, they were confronted with an impenetrable wall of snow. A supply of water was secured by melting masses of the snow in a pot, and by this means their breakfast of porridge was prepared. They had to remain imprisoned until they were dug out by their more fortunate neighbours. Several shepherds, who were out looking after their flocks, were overtaken by the storm, and, getting confused in the blinding drift, perished. One of these was at Ulzieside, and another at Todholes. In the former case, the poor man had made a continuous circuit of a little knoll, as was shewn by his footprints in the snow. Not knowing where he w’as, he had tramped his dreary round, longing for the daylight which, poor soul, his eyes were never again to look upon. With step ever growing feebler, he struggled along till, at length stumbling, he fell, and, incapable of further effort, resigned himself to his fate. Additional pathos was lent to the incident by the fact that this knoll was situated only a very short distance above his own house, so that he may be said to have perished on his own threshold, and within call of those whom he loved.

Stage coaches had commenced to run between England and Scotland, and afterwards between certain towns in Scotland, so early as the middle of the seventeenth century. The journey to London occupied many days, the whole lawful days of a week being consumed in the journey from York to that city. The delay was no doubt largely attributable to the poor character of the roads; and it is noted in 1685 as a great feat that the Duke of Queensberry and other noblemen had travelled from London to Edinburgh in eight days. There was no regular service of stage coaches, however, on the Nithsdale road till 100 years later. In the early years of this century there was a daily service. One coach, owned by Major Logan, of Knockenstob, and others, was called “The Independent,” and put up at the Queensberry Inn, while another was named “The Burns;” and at a later period a third, called “The Times,” was added. A keen rivalry sprang up between them, and racing was of daily occurrence, affording a good deal of amusement to the townsfolk. “The Burns” was withdrawn, but “The Independent” continued to run till the opening of the railway. The arrival of the coach was the principal event of the day. The toot of the guard’s horn, the crack of the driver’s whip, and the gaily painted coach as it dashed up the street, drawn by its team of four steaming horses, roused the sleepy town. The good burghers peeped out of doors, or hurried to the inn to learn the news, while the youngsters crowded around, their highest ambition being to walk one of the horses round the stable yard till he had cooled, and then to ride him bareback to the River Nith for a bath, in which occupation many a one had his first lesson in the equestrian art. The opening of the railway gave the fatal blow to the coach system, and thus disappeared one of the most picturesque features of the social life of our small country towns. The mail was carried on horseback, and latterly by mail gigs. They were privately owned, and, besides the Government subsidy, a good deal was earned by the carriage of small parcels, and sometimes of a stray passenger or two. The direct road to Glasgow on foot by Muirkirk and Strathaven was shorter than that taken by the coach via Kilmarnock, the former being about 48 and the latter about 58 miles. William Cunningham, a watchmaker in Sanquhar, laid a bet that he would cover the distance between the two places in less time than the coach. Cunningham was a powerfully built man, and walked with a long swinging step. They started, the coach and he, together from the Tron steeple in Glasgow, and when the coach swept round the turn of the road at the Council House, the driver, to his astonishment, espied Cunningham standing at the inn’s close awaiting its arrival to claim payment of the bet. He had done the journey in eight hours, keeping up, that is, a rate of six miles an hour, and won with twenty minutes to spare.

During the resurrectionist, scare, about sixty years ago, when parties went about the country exhuming bodies from the churchyards for disposal as subjects for the dissecting-rooms in the colleges, a watch was set for some time, there being a prevalent belief that raids had been made, or were contemplated, in this quarter. That these apprehensions were not unfounded, is proved by the story that John Thomson, a son of Dr Thomson of Sanquhar, at the time a medical student in Edinburgh, one morning identified a subject that lay on the dissecting-table as the body of an old blind fiddler who used to play at the “penny reels” held in the Council House on fair nights.

The passing of the Reform Bill of 1832 was the next great event, than which, perhaps, nothing in the previous history of the town had evoked such a deep and widespread interest. The fortunes of the Bill were watched with eager expectancy, and the prolonged resistance which was made to it by the Tory party caused the very name of Tory to stink in the nostrils of the Radicals of Sanquhar. The ultimate triumph of the measure was hailed with the keenest delight, and a Demonstration was organised. A procession, embracing the mass of the population, was made to Kirkconnel, a distance of four miles. It was accompanied by the usual bands of music and a liberal display of banners. On their return home, the processionists assembled on the square, where congratulatory addresses were delivered amid the greatest enthusiasm. As a sample of the oratory on the occasion, we give the peroration of a speech by a Mr Turner, the parochial schoolmaster of Kirkconnel—“it would take an ocean of ink,” he cried, “acres of paper, and a quill plucked from the wing of an archangel to write a record of the political crimes of the Tories.” An inflammatory harangue of this sort could not be tolerated by his superiors, and it cost the author his situation. The Council house was illuminated, as was also every house in the town, by the simple form of placing candles in every window pane ; even the few Tories judged it wise to conform in order to conciliate the populace and save their window-glass, while one or two, who had made themselves particularly obnoxious, slipped quietly away from the town for the day. The evening was spent in the usual round of merrymakings.

Down to this time and later, the animal spirits of the young fellows, which, having but little opportunity for exercise in the quiet every day life of the town, found vent at times in practical joking and other forms of horse play. There was no policeman to keep them in check, and a considerable degree of freedom, or rather licence, was enjoyed. As a rule, the element of malice was absent, and there was frequently a sufficient spice of humour in their tricks to disarm resentment, and nothing worse than a good laugh was excited. As examples of this sort of thing, the following may be taken:—The Lochan was then a row of low thatch-roofed houses built against the rising ground behind, whence it was an easy matter to walk on to them. Ned G , a shoemaker, who worked in the neighbourhood, would rise from his work, and, picking up sods which were always lying plentifully about, would walk along the roofs and clap a sod on each “lum.” Returning, he would light his pipe, and resume his work. In a few minutes a great “row” suddenly sprang up in the Lochan. The women-folks, driven to the street by the smoke, which filled their houses, made a perfect Babel of tongues, when Ned would walk down, and inquire, with an air of the greatest innocence, “Wi,’ what’s ado,” and on learning the cause would earn the good name of a “rale obleeging chiel” by going up and removing the sods which he himself had placed there.

William Thomson, shoemaker, had, among his apprentices, one or two very stirring blades. Thomson, looking out of his back window one day, said in their hearing that he wished he had had some gooseberry bushes in his garden. Imagine his astonishment next morning, on looking out, to find the garden well supplied with bushes, loaded, too, with fine ripe berries. The ’prentices had interpreted his wishes in a way he had not anticipated. The rascals, aided by certain accomplices, had gone overnight to a large well-stocked garden at Knowehead and transported the bushes bodily.

A fish hawker, who had failed to dispose of his stock-in-trade, unyoked his cart on the space of ground in front of the Town Hall, and left it there. It had leaked out that the fish were stinking, and, to pay him off, a band of young fellows drew the cart through the town, scattered the herrings on the street, and finished up by taking the cart to the kirkyard, where they contrived to suspend it from a branch of one of the trees.

“Running” people was a form of practical joking peculiar, so far as we are aware, to Sanquhar. It was largely indulged in by the young fellows, the victims being persons in a more or less intoxicated condition, or of somewhat advanced years. It afforded amusement doubtless to the perpetrators, but it was no fun to the victim, who, at the end of his forced and rapid journey, was left in an exhausted and breathless condition. The method of procedure was as follows :—Having posted themselves at the door of a public-house, the youths awaited the exit of the individual whom they had marked out for their attentions. So soon as he emerged with unsteady gait, and mayhap humming the refrain of a song, he was seized firmly by each arm, at the wrist and the shoulder, and, if he were a man of powerful build, also from behind by the collar of the coat, and before be could utter a word of protest, he was carried along at a swift pace, which never slackened till he was landed at his own door. Not a word had been spoken by his assailants during the rapid and unceremonious convoy, nor by the victim, who found that he had sufficient to do to keep his feet, and had no breath to spare; and when he recovered himself he found it was useless to give vent to his feelings of indignation, for the rascals had swiftly disappeared.

An amusing instance of this practice of “ running ” took place one evening with an old man, Tammie Graham. He was in the act of shaving, one side of his face being shaved, and the other covered with a fine lather of soap, his friend Baker Todd sitting by the fire, and “cracking” all the while, when a knock was heard on the door. Tammie laid down the razor, and answered the call. No sooner was the door opened than a brief scuffle was heard, followed by the sound of retreating footsteps. After a very short interval Tammie was deposited on his own door step. On his entering the house panting and excited, Todd inquired—“What’s ado, Tammas? Where hae ye been ava?” “Been,” answered he; “Dreadfu’ be’t” (a favourite exclamation of his), “I hae been three times roon the p-p-p-pump well sin’ I g-g-gaed oot.” The mischievous twinkle in Todd’s eye gave the suspicion that he was an accomplice in the trick, which received confirmation from the fact that during Tammie’s absence he had drawn the edge of the razor across the fender. When the old man resumed the shaving process, and found that the razor was useless, he looked significantly at Todd, who, however, having an excellent command of his countenance, looked as innocent as a child.

A minute of the Town Council of the year 1836 relates that “Bailie Edgar put in a claim for damages to his coat, received while engaged as a magistrate of the town in endeavouring to quell a disturbance caused by one Benjamin Robison, by whom his coat was torn to pieces.” This minute introduces to us a notable character of the place. Benjamin, or Ben as he was briefly named, was of the class known as loafers. He followed no regular employment, but was ready for any chance job, for which he was sometimes rewarded with drink. In his sober senses a quiet enough man, Ben, when the drink was in, became a perfect fury. When in that condition he must get up a “row.” He usually began with some antics which collected a crowd of children, whom he greatly amused, but the scene oftentimes developed into something serious whenever any bigger person interfered. When assailed, Ben would watch for his opportunity to seize some article of his assailant’s clothing. He had a grip of iron; when once he got a hold, it was impossible to unloose it, and whatever he caught had to come. On one occasion, a prominent citizen of the town was arrayed in all the glory of one of the ruffled shirts which had just come into fashion ; he unfortunately got into an altercation with Ben, whose eyes were attracted by this grand shirt. Springing forward like a wild cat, Ben seized and wrenched away the whole shirt front, ruffles and all. He, as wo see, had no reverence for authority ; not even the august dignity of a magistrate could cowe him, and the majesty of an officer of the law had no terrors for him. The town officer, Sergeant Thomson, was endeavouring to remove him to jail for some street disturbance. Ben threw himself on his back on the ground (this was his favourite move when he was in danger of being overpowered) and, watching his chance as the officer stooped over him, caught the tails of his coat and literally tore it off his back. These disturbances, of which lie was the central figure, were called “weddings.” Notwithstanding the damage which an individual sometimes suffered at his hands, his “weddings” afforded many an hour’s fun, and he was a general favourite. Poor Ben came to au untimely end. Stumbling one day at the top of a steep stair in a public-house in the town, he was precipitated to the bottom. When picked up he was found to be insensible, aud was carried home, where he lingered for two or three days, but never regained consciousness. Thus passed out of sight one who had been an outstanding figure in the social life of the town for many a day. His death occurred about the year 1841 or 1842.

The mention of the name of this “character” leads us to remark that in the olden time there were in most little towns a number of individuals, not of the type of Ben certainly, but in whom individuality of character, of a great variety of type, was strongly marked. These peculiar traits were, for the most part, an abnormal development of one or other of our national characteristics, dogged determination and perseverance, or the dry humour which, in spite of the ignorant sneer that it takes a surgical operation to get a joke into a Scotchman’s head, is a distinctive feature of the Scottish character. The author of the above foolish saying could not have mixed in the society of the rural parts of Scotland, without discovering that the faculty of humour, and even the higher form of wit, was common enough.

One of this class, Willie M—, who went on the spree periodically for a week or a fortnight, called at a friend’s house on his way home one day, in a very fuddled condition, and there unexpectedly met an old schoolfellow, a sea captain, who had been round the world, and whom he had not seen for many years. The captain was the first to recognise him, and, jumping up, greeted his old friend in hearty sailor fashion. “How- are you, Willie? It’s a long time since I saw you. How are you?” Willie, somewhat dazed, did not answer for a moment, but, pulling himself together, at length replied— “Captain, homeward bound with a general cargo.”

On another occasion Willie, in the same condition, called on his friend. He had just learnt of the sudden death of a near relation.  His friend spoke to him in a sympathetic tone, when Willie remarked—“There’s a good deal of the Apostle Paul about me this morning. I have sorrow upon sorrow.”

A good story is told of another character, a mason, who was working in the country. He and another of the squad set out one morning to their work. There were two public-houses on the way. They called at the first house for a dram, which dram was but the prelude to a “big drink.” They got no further that day. Next morning they set out again, and passed the first house with a firm determination not to repeat the folly of yesterday. By the time they had reached the next “public,” however, the resolution of our friend failed. He again proposed a dram, for he was very dry. “Na, na,” answered his friend; “I’m no gaun in the day.” Persuasion was useless, and so he said—“Weel, weel, gang slow, and I’ll be wi’ ye in a meenit.” His companion did so, looking over his shoulder now and again to see if he was coming, till a turn of the road hid the house from sight, and he then marched on. Work began, and went on for hours, when about noon a strange and accountable sound of music was heard, faint at first, but ever sounding louder and nearer ; when at length there was presented a scene which sent the whole squad into fits of laughter. Our friend had, after refreshing himself very freely, resumed his journey to his work, and foregathered on the way with an Italian organ grinder. How he made himself understood is not known, but he had hired the musician to play him to his work. On they came, the organ man in front, grinding his music with might and main, while he strutted behind with a proud air, and making what he considered an impressive entry, shouted to the terrified Italian—“Play up, ye furrin’ deevil.”

An example of a different kind was that of Geordie L .

French clay pipes had come into use, and one or two had found their way to Sanquhar. They could not be purchased, however, nearer than Glasgow. So great was Geordie’s ambition to possess one of these grand pipes that he actually set out on foot all the way to Glasgow for the sole purpose of buying a French clay pipe. Having secured this coveted object, he carried it carefully in his hand all the way home. When he had reached the precincts of the town he stopped, filled and lighted it, and then marched down the middle of the street—a proud man. He stayed up a little close off the main street, the opening of which was very narrow, and in turning the corner rather sharp, the head of the pipe caught the house, and in a moment Geordie’s heart, which had swelled with pride over his new possession, sank within him as he saw it fall, shivered to pieces at his feet.

These are only a few samples of hundreds of such stories, which could be told of Sanquhar characters, but space forbids. For intellectual gifts of a somewhat higher order, we should mention two farmers of the neighbourhood—the late Mr Williamson of Barr and Mr M'Call of Ulzieside—Auld Barr and Ulzieside as they were familiarly called. Their witty sayings, particularly those of the former, are often quoted. But were quick in repartee, and no one cared to encounter them. Being next neighbours and fast friends, they sharpened each other’s wits in their daily intercourse. The truth is, one would have had to search far and wide before coming across two such characters in any countryside.

Speaking of farmers, this district contained specimens of the hard, close-fisted class, who contrived to gather together wonderful fortunes, but the truth is, money-making was their life’s study. As an example of how it was done, let us adduce the case of one who had been visiting overnight a neighbour some miles distant. He was hospitably entertained, and driven to Sanquhar, half-way home, by his friend. On alighting he, addressed him, saying—“Weel, Mr K., ye hae been very kind; if ye’ll come in, I’ll treat ye.” The gentleman consented, and when the bell had been rung the old man said—“What’ll ye tak’?”    “Oh,” answered the other; “it’s early, I’ll just take a bottle of lemonade.” “Juist what I was gaun to tak’ mysel’,” he added, “and I daursay ae bottle may dae us baith.” Turning to the waiting maid, he gave his order—“Bring a bottle of lemonade and twae tumblers, my woman.”

This same old farmer borrowed a cart from a neighbour on the opposite side of the river. There was a toll-bar at the bridge, and when he had done with the borrowed cart, he was concerned how he would get it returned without incurring the twopence of toll. At last he hit upon a device. He was a big strong man, and getting between the trams, with the rigwoodie chain over his shoulder, he dragged the cart across the bridge, and into the side of the road near to the farm whence he had borrowed it, and sent up word to its owner where he would find it. This man died worth several thousand pounds.

Resuming our narrative we come down to 1848, when the country suffered a dreadful visitation of cholera. It gradually spread northwards, and at length reached Dumfries, which, being in a particularly insanitary state, stiffered to a fearful extent. Panic seized the people in all quarters, and travellers by road were viewed with the greatest suspicion, and contact with them shunned. Measures of precaution against the introduction of the fell disease were taken. They were of the simplest kind, the laws of sanitary science being then practically unknown. The Town Council gave orders for the cleaning out of middens, and a general white-washing took place. Every passenger who was known, or suspected, to have been in the ill-fated county town was arrested on his arrival, and fumigated. For this purpose a square box, high enough to reach to the neck, was made. Into this he was thrust, and a cloth covering the top of the box was tied tightly round his neck. When that had been done, a mixture of sulphur and quicklime was put into an iron cup, and was then lighted, and laid in the bottom of the box. An amusing scene occurred with an Irish tramp, who was subjected to this process. Failing to understand the object of the authorities he offered a stout resistance, and it was with the greatest difficulty that he was got into the box. When the flaming sulphur was thrust in at his feet, his features were transfixed with horror. Evidently he thought he was to be burnt alive. On being liberated he bolted out, and when he reached the street set up a wild hurroo, and shouted—“By my sowl, and it never fired on me.” The town happily escaped the cholera, but for weeks the inhabitants lived in a state of the greatest apprehension.

Chambers, in his “Domestic Annals,” mentions a phenomenon that occurred in the end of the year 1838, when the Nith and other rivers in the south of Scotland were so depleted of water that all the mills were stopped. This strange occurrence was attributed to various causes; some thought it was due to an earthquake, others to a wind driving back the waters. The matter was inquired into hy a distinguished scientist, who gave the opinion that it was due to the severe frost, which had completely frozen up the upper streams, while the lower reaches had - been emptied into the sea. This was no doubt the true reason, for it was during the winter of 1838-39 that the longest and greatest frost of the century was experienced. The frost lasted for twelve or thirteen weeks, the Nith being crossable anywhere for miles.

We do not require to refer here to the Chartist agitation, having touched on that subject in the notes on the Sanquhar weavers.

In the year 1845 there is the first mention of a coming event which was destined to have a great effect upon the trade and social condition of the whole district—the making of the railway through Nithsdale. The construction of it was let in sections to contractors, and the navvies employed were almost wholly Irish, the bulk being Roman Catholics. Between them and the natives there was no good feeling from the outset. The people of Sanquhar, whose minds were deeply imbued with the spirit of exclusiveness, inbred by the privileges which, as burghers, they had enjoyed for generations, always looked askance at strangers, whom they termed, and even yet are inclined to stigmatise, as “incomers.” This feeling of hostility towards the navvies was intensified by the fact that they were of an alien faith. In the rural parts of the south of Scotland the bulk of the population was Protestant; in many parishes, and Sanquhar was one, not a single Roman Catholic was to be found. The attitude and conduct of the navvies, so far from conciliating, only served to exasperate the people of the town. They were ignorant, savage, and treacherous. Attacks were continually being made, under cloud of night, on individual inhabitants by bands of two or three or more navvies, for they always liked to have the advantage of numbers. These attacks were made without the slightest warning, and upon people with whom they had no cause of quarrel. Springing out from the shadow of a corner, they would belabour and kick their victim unmercifully, and leave him bruised and bleeding on the ground. Sometimes they were watched and interrupted, but, whenever they became anything like equally matched in numbers, they immediately fled. Many of the weavers were stout young fellows, and some of them carried, down the inside of their trouser-leg or elsewhere about them, a good stout stick, which was quickly produced if occasion demanded. It was plain that the town’s-people and the navvies would have it out some day, and that day came when the steeplechases were held on the Muir. These steeplechases were organised by the contractors, who sought thereby to gratify the humour of their workmen and their own humour as well. Work on the railway was completely suspended for the day, aud an immense concourse of spectators congregated on the ground to witness what was an entire novelty in this quarter. Drink was going plentifully, and the navvies assumed a very aggressive attitude. The inevitable collision occurred in the evening between a body of them and a band of weavers at the Council House. The latter felt that the time had come for settling who should be masters, and had made due preparations accordingly. They were all armed with cudgels, and when the moment of action arrived the navvies found themselves confronted by a close phalanx of determined opponents, who laid about them with a will. Beaten at their own game the navvies, finding a convenient magazine of broken road metal, took to stone-throwing. A section of the weavers, by a dexterous flank march, cut off their line of retreat. The navvies took alarm, broke and fled along the road towards Kirkconnel, along which they were chased out of the parish. The only serious injury sustained, however, was by a navvy who had his leg fractured, but many broken heads and bruises kept the Irishmen in mind of the lesson they had been taught. From that time they gave no further trouble.

In the year 1839, Crawick Mill Carpet Company introduced gas for lighting their works and the village, and the Town Council resolved to consult the engineer as to its introduction into the town. The result was that a Company was formed with this object. The Council subscribed for £200, which was subsequently increased by £15 when the main pipe was extended to the railway station, at the opening of the railway. The Gas Company was not a prosperous concern for many years, owing to the works being ill-constructed at first. The street pipes were laid too shallow, and an enormous loss was caused thereby. No dividend having been declared for several years, the Company being in debt to a considerable amount, fresh capital was raised; the works were improved, and closer attention to the Company’s business was given by a new body of directors. The profits have been largely devoted to still further improvements, including a double main on the streets; dividends have been declared on the preference and sometimes on the ordinary stock, and the price of gas was recently reduced from 8s 4d to 6s 8d per thousand feet.

A reading-room was established in the year 1848 in one of the rooms of the Town Hall, and was the scene of many an animated debate on political and social subjects. It was well supplied with newspapers, and was for many years a flourishing institution, but the abolition of the paper duty, and the consequent reduction in the price of newspapers to a penny, together with the great extension of cheap literature, took away its attractions, most of the readers preferring to have their papers in their own homes.

A great improvement on the street was effected in 1852 by the erection of a terrace on the north side at Corseknowe. The ground rises above the level of the street, which, as we have elsewhere said, originally ran over the knowe, but was subsequently cut through it. A retaining wall, surmounted by an iron railing, was put up, and it received the name of Dalkeith Terrace, in honour of the Earl of Dalkeith, whose coming of age in the same year the townspeople had just celebrated in a very hearty manner. The cost of the terrace was about £60.

The reader will have observed frequent reference to “The Pump Well.” The water supply of the town was then derived from a number of wells distributed over the town, but this well, which was situated at the Market Cross, was in an emphatic sense the pump well. It was beautifully built with ashlar, and was covered by a stone erection. The spout by which the water was discharged faced down the street; the handle of the pump was a long bar of iron with a ball at the end. It was not driven vertically, but horizontally, like the pendulum of a clock. Few there were who could swing this ponderous handle except with both their hands, and to do so with but one hand was regarded as a proof of great strength of arm. A stone seat was set along the side of the pump facing the street. The widening of the street in recent times having left the pump near the middle of the roadway, an obstruction to the street traffic, it was shifted back to the side of the pavement in the year 1836, and it was ultimately taken down and removed altogether about the year 1881.

The source of the present water supply, introduced in the year 1868, is Lochburn. A limited liability company was incorporated 21st April, 1868, with a capital, including preference shares, of about £2000. A reservoir was constructed at the gathering ground on Clenries farm, at a distance of three miles, and a distributing tank and filters on an elevation in the neighbourhood of the town. The quality of the water is excellent, being very soft, and therefore suitable for general household as well as dietetic purposes.

The Volunteer movement in 1859 was adopted with great enthusiasm in Sanquhar and the country parts surrounding. A strong company was promptly formed, and commenced drilling in the “big shop” at Crawick Mill—an empty weaving shop formerly belonging to the Carpet Company It was composed of all classes—farmers, artisans, and labourers. They were tall, broad-shouldered men, but in truth this description applied equally to the other companies in the County. Public attention was drawn in the Metropolis to their splendid physique, as they marched down Princes’ Street on their way to the Royal Review in 1860, and we remember hearing an inspecting officer declare that he had never seen the same number of men cover so much ground as the Dumfriesshire Volunteers did when standing in rank. The company still continues strong and efficient.

The Dumfries District of Burghs was represented in Parliament, from 1847 to 1868, by Mr William Ewart, a Liverpool merchant, who was much respected, both by his constituency and in the House. Amid the ups aud downs of political feeling in the other burghs of the group, Sanquhar always remained steadfast to Mr Ewart and Liberalism, and on one occasion, when he was opposed by the late Mr Hannay, the most brilliant of all those who broke a lance with him during his Parliamentary career, the return from Sanquhar shewed that not a single vote had been cast for his opponent. Mr Ewart, in 1863, presented a handsome barometer to the inhabitants of Sanquhar, which is inserted in the wall of what was then the residence of Provost Williamson. His portrait, gifted to the town after his death by his sister, Miss Ewart, hangs in the Council Chamber.

In 1852 the Town Council resolved “to promote the celebration in a becoming manner of the attainment of his majority by the Earl of Dalkeith, as a mark of respect and attachment to the noble house of Buccleuch and Queensberry.” They resolved to illuminate the Town Hall, to ring the Town’s bell, and voted a sum of ten guineas for fireworks The townspeople entered heartily into the demonstration, which was of a most successful character.

A still greater event, and one which evoked a wonderful display of loyal feeling, was the visit of the Prince of Wales to the town in 1871. His Royal Highness and the Princess of Wales were, in the month of October, on a visit to the Duke of Buccleuch at Drumlanrig Castle, and shooting parties were arranged on His Grace’s moors in the upper part of his estate. Having occasion to pass through Sanquhar, the Duke was just a trifle anxious as to the reception which the Prince might receive. The Sanquhar people were regarded by all Tories as dangerous Radicals, not given to ceremony in the expression of their political opinions. They availed themselves, however, of this visit of the heir-apparent to the throne to shew to all men that their Radicalism was quite consonant with loyalty. Indications that this was so had indeed been given by them on previous occasions, as in 1841, on the birth of the Prince of Wales, in 1863 on his marriage, and again, in the early part of this same year 1871, on the marriage of the Princess Louise to the Marquis of Lorne, when they were not behind in testifying their attachment to the reigning house and the institutions of the country, but all these previous demonstrations were eclipsed on this occasion of the royal visit. The Town Council presented a loyal and dutiful address, to which the Prince graciously replied. Three floral arches were erected across the main street, and the plain architectural features of the houses were concealed by a profusion of flags, evergreens, and other decorations. On the party passing through in the morning, they were greeted along the whole length of the street by the population, who turned out en masse. The carriage containing the Prince and his ducal host proceeded at a walking pace, and His Royal Highness displayed an affable manner which fairly captivated the Sanquhar people. On the return journey in the evening still greater crowds, gathered from far and near, awaited his arrival, and gave him a right royal welcome. There was a display of fire-works, the Council House was illuminated, as were also the houses down to the meanest cottage, where the modest candle in the window testified at once to the poverty and its loyalty of inmates. The notice of the royal visit that was received had been short, and preparations were hurriedly made, but as the Prince passed again on the following day the demonstration was repeated with even greater enthusiasm. All were agreed that the like of it had never before been seen in Sanquhar, and his Royal Highness, in his reply to the address of the Town Council, expressed his grateful sense of “ the hearty reception he had met with from all classes of the community when he had passed through Sanquhar.” The people, in addition to the loyal feeling by which they were inspired, were no doubt actuated also by a regard to the fact that the Prince was the guest of the Duke of Buccleuch, and sought in honouring the guest to likewise honour the host. A further proof of their kindly feeling to the house of Buccleuch was given in 1882, on the coming of age of Lord Eskdaill, the eldest grandson of the Duke, when a demonstration of a very hearty kind was made ; while an address of sympathy and condolence was sent by the Town Council to the Duke and Duchess on the occasion of his sudden and pathetic death in 1886. Lord Eskdaill was a young nobleman of great promise, and had won golden opinions from all on the vast family estates with whom he had come into contact. The accident which caused his death occurred far from human dwelling or human aid, save such as his Highland ghillie could render him. The pathetic story of his last hours, as he lay on the heather, bleeding slowly to death, and the gentleness of soul which he displayed as, with almost his last breath, he whispered his thanks to the servant for the water which he brought him, sent a thrill through the whole country, and evoked a universal feeling of sympathy with his parents in the loss, under such trying circumstances, of one who was the light of their home, and with whom were bound up so many fond anticipations.

Last, but not least, of these periodic celebrations was that of the Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen in 1887. The occasion was observed throughout the whole country on a stupendous scale, but we believe that in no town of its size, certainly not in this part of the kingdom, were more elaborate preparations made. The great mass of the population, joined by large crowds from Kirkconnel and Wanlockhead, marched in procession, to Kemp’s Castle, where a platform had been erected, whence, after the proceedings had been opened by prayer, appropriate addresses were delivered to the vast throng. The Volunteers fired a feu-de-joie, and ringing cheers were given for Her Majesty. Sports were provided for the young people, and refreshments for all. A free concert was given in the evening in the Public Hall, and a half crown was presented to every poor person in the two parishes. A bonfire on Matthew’s Folly at a later hour, where an immense crowd assembled, gave a fitting termination to the day’s proceedings, into which every one had thrown himself heart and soul, and which passed off successfully in every way.

This chapter may he brought to a close with a rapid survey of the changes effected in country districts by the railway. The conditions of life and the daily habits and customs of the people in country districts throughout Scotland underwent no great change during the generation that preceded the introduction of railways, about the middle of the present century. Each small district was completely inbound. What lay within the limits of the horizon was all the world to them, so far as their daily life was concerned, and a certain air of mystery or romance surrounded all outside this narrow circle. The natives were, as a whole, content to walk in the footsteps of their fathers, following the same occupations, generation after generation, the result being that, according to a well understood law of nature, particular families acquired an hereditary skill in particular branches of work. At the same time, there were bold and adventurous spirits, whose ambition scorned the quiet, uneventful 'life of their native vales, and longed to explore the great world beyond. Oft-times they, like the patriarch, “went out, not knowing whither they went and, though without definite aim or purpose, or the inspiration of the promise of a great future, they were guided, as truly as he was, by the hand of Providence. At all events, the prosperity which marked their after-career was in many instances truly wonderful, but was only the direct and natural fruit of the indomitable qualities of the hardy race from which they were sprung. They proved themselves the pioneers of civilisation in many a remote corner of the globe, laying the foundations of thriving colonies, which have since become a source of pride to the British Empire, and have extended the influence of the Anglo-Saxon race upon the destinies of the whole human family; and how often has it happened that in the course of time his native town has found itself unexpectedly and richly endowed by the munificence of a son, the memory of whose way-going had almost faded from the recollection of his boyish associates? But, not to speak of emigration beyond seas, a journey in that age from one end of the island to the other was an enterprise fraught with considerable risk, and only to be undertaken on important occasions, and after mature deliberation. A journey to London was not unattended with danger to life or limb. Road accidents were not uncommon, and over and above these had to be reckoned the chances of falling a prey to the highwayman, the tales of whose daring escapades, so often heard at his own fireside, kept the traveller’s mind in a state of uneasiness and apprehension. So serious, indeed, were the risks, that the prudent family man, who was about to undertake such a journey, regarded it as his first duty to make his will. When the day of his departure arrived, his family circle was thrown into a state of agitation and concern, and his fellow-townsmen crowded around to see him off and wish him God-speed. On his safe return, he was congratulated on his good fortune, and thenceforward, in the minds of his friends and neighbours, he was regarded as a person of no small importance. Long journeys by coach were confined to men of substance; the movements of the common people had to be made on foot, the toilsomeness of the way being sometimes relieved by a friendly “lift’ on the top of a carrier’s cart. The occasions on which any great number of the people travelled together were few. The occurrence of a curling match with a neighbouring parish was so great and so unusual an event that the preparations for an earl}' start threw the curlers, and, indeed, the whole population, into a wonderful state of excitement, which was once tersely described by a wag, who said that in Crawick Mill “ they were rinnin’ wi’ teapots and razors the hale nicht.” Attending a neighbouring sacrament, or a fair, if there was a market town within easy reach, led to an exodus for the day of a large portion of the population, but with these rare exceptions their lives consisted of a plain, monotonous round of common duties.

And yet, it must not be supposed theirs was an unhappy lot. It may truly be said, speaking of this district in particular, that the condition of the population, though a humble, was a reasonably happy and contented one. In both town and country, employment was, on the whole, steady and plentiful. In the town, weaving was the principal industry, and, in the country around, the population was rooted to the soil, families of farmers and cottars remaining in the same place for generations. Though the wages of agricultural labourers were small, they were supplemented in various ways. The notion that the interestsof capital and labour were antagonistic was never once entertained ; they lived together, masters and servants, with no great difference in their condition outwardly, and on terms of cordial friendship. The children of the ploughmen were constantly running about the farm-house and falling heir to the fragments of a meal, the odds and ends that fell to them from the kitchen table coming in no way amiss to sturdy boys with good healthy appetites. It was a common arrangement that, in addition to the wage in money, which was small, the cottar received a plentiful supply, free, of skim milk from the dairy, and was allowed to plant a small patch of potatoes. The cast-off clothes from the farm household, or sometimes even a cut off the web when it came from the mill, fell to the ploughman and his family. His wife helped with the milking, and every one who could make a strap, bind a sheaf, or assist in any way, turned out to the “hairst-rig.” The system of payment “in kind” obtained also in the engagement of shepherds, many of whom had what was called a “pack”—a certain number of sheep which pastured with the general flock, the produce of which belonged to the shepherd as part of his remuneration. In these arrangements one can detect the germ of the idea of “three acres and a cow,” and of the principle of common-sharing of profits between employers and employed, which are being advocated in these days by certain reformers. The population in the purely rural part was in those days very considerable, much greater than it has since become. There was quite a number of small farms, each with its own farm-house, and servant’s cothouse as well, while by the road-side were groups here and there of cottages—two, four, or half-a-dozen together— where were bred the stalwart families, whose ranks formed the unfailing supply of agricultural labour. The ruins of some still remain, but of the bulk of them every trace has been obliterated. This process of depopulation was the direct result of the policy, which began about fifty years ago, of constituting one large farm out of two or three small contiguous farms, and which has been ultimately carried to such an extent that, aggravated by other influences elsewhere noted, the supply of the agricultural labour, which, notwithstanding the extensive use of machinery, is still necessary, can hardly be maintained, even though the wages have been meanwhile doubled and even trebled.

The burghers of the old town had the placid stream of their daily life rippled with their periodical celebrations of— Riding the marches, Town Council and trades elections, and the King’s birthday; while their burghal privileges gave, to them a direct interest in politics, both imperial and local. Though down to the Reform period their municipal rulers were, being self-elected, beyond popular control, the constituents whom they professed to represent claimed, and exercised freely, the right to criticise their conduct. Then the great fairs—at Candlemas, July, and November, besides other minor fixtures of the same kind—created no little stir. The first is likewise called “The Herds’ Fair,” that being the day on which shepherds are engaged for the year; but the changes of service were then much less frequent or numerous than they have in later times become, since the old-established relation of common interest between master and servant has been unfortunately displaced by a feeling, if not of hostility and mutual suspicion, at least lacking the element of friendship. In former times it was quite common for shepherds to retain during a long life the “places” in which they had mayhap succeeded their fathers, or where they had first been engaged as “lad-herds.” Their names were just as naturally associated in the public mind with the “herding,” which was their care, as was that of the owner of the flock. They came to know the ground and the stock, and rare was the occasion when a flockmaster parted with a shepherd to hand over the charge of his “hirsel ” to a stranger.

On the Herd-Fair day the street was filled with a crowd of stalwart men aud lads, all clad in home-made stuff, the black-and-white plaid universally worn by them being either folded carefully and thrown over the shoulder, or wound round the body so as to cover it completely down to the knees, just as it suited the taste of the wearer, or as the state of the weather demanded. Each carried the most stylish stick of the large stock which he possessed, the making and polishing of which beguiled the long winter evenings, and had his inseparable companion, the faithful collie, at his heels. It is to be regretted that the place of the black-and-white plaid is of late years being largely taken by a sort of cheap water-proof coat. Each class may be expected to know best what suits the necessities of their daily employment, but certainly there could be no more picturesque and appropriate “hap” for a shepherd than the time-honoured plaid.

The contrast has been noted between the demeanour of the mixed crowds which throng round the doors of the public-houses on an ordinary fair night with that of the shepherds on their fair night. The opportunities of dissipation enjoyed by the former are more frequent, and the effect of free indulgence in the “ barley-bree ” is too often to make them quarrelsome and foul-tongued, but, in the case of the shepherds, the manifestations are of a more harmless and inoffensive character. These hill-men, under the same conditions, would seem to experience a great exhilaration of spirits, and the unwonted feeling finds au outlet in shouting and singing. The collies, to keep them company, take to barking, the result being many a “collie-shangie,” in which much mutually-defiant wrath obtains utterance, and a good deal of worrying takes place, but little damage is done.

The July Fair—the great lamb and wool market of the year in the South of Scotland—brought together, and does still, a large concourse of people, all interested to learn the prevailing prices.

At the fair in November, the principal articles traded in were vegetables—onions and carrots for winter use—and hence this was familiarly called “The Onion Fair.” The finest specimens of this succulent vegetable were strung round a band of straw about twelve or fifteen inches long, and were sold at so much per string, while the smaller and poorer sorts were sold by weight.

At all these fairs the sides of the main street, from the pump-well westward, were lined with booths ; on the north side these were filled with the small-wares which were required in country houses; the candy-barrow and fruit stalls were the centre of attraction for all youngsters who had had their fairin’,” and were anxious to make it go as far as possible; while above the din could be heard the cheery and inviting call of the proprietor of the shooting-stand—“Fire away, boys! Nuts for your money, and sport for nothing.” Crowded round him under the awning were the boys, large .and small, of sporting proclivities. On the table was heaped up a huge pile of nuts, and at the back was erected a board painted with circles and other devices in strong colours, upon which was nailed a group of brass rings of various sizes; it was the ambition of the young sharpshooter to plant within one of these rings the little dart discharged from one or other of the various matchlocks lying over the heap of nuts. The range was only about a couple of feet, and strong percussion caps were the only propelling force used. The smaller the ring into which the dart was shot the larger was the number of nuts allowed, but however bad the shot might prove, a few were given in consolation. The local cooper exhibited a varied collection of his manufactures, from the churn down to the smallest articles used in the dairy and the country kitchen. The south side of the street was reserved for stands for the sale of boots, shoes, and slippers. The whole scene was one of the greatest animation, and afforded pleasurable excitement and genuine fun to both young and old. In the olden time the day was brought to a fitting close by the dancing of “ penny reels ” in the Council House.

The internal trade of the country was very limited in extent, each district being practically self-sustaining. The habits and tastes of the people were plain and simple, both in the matter of food and dress. With regard to the former, it consisted almost wholly of the products of their native soil, oatmeal and potatoes being the principal articles of diet; while in regard to dress, it likewise, both as to material and manufacture, was a native production. Durability was the primary, appearance only a secondary, consideration. The scarcity of money no doubt compelled this in most cases, but even where the means of a family would have enabled them to indulge in dress of a more showy and expensive kind, the product of foreign looms, they preferred for the most part to yield to the promptings of thrift. The ambition of the housewife of this period lay in another direction than that of personal adornment—viz., in the plenishing of her house. Her blanket-chest was her treasure-chest. The greatest day of all the year to her was that on which its contents received their annual airing, and she spread out the long row of blankets on the hedge-rows in the sight of all her neighbours with a decided feeling of pride. The number of pairs which a daughter received as part of her marriage outfit was a subject of anxious inquiry among her female friends, and was a tolerable guide to estimating the “bienness” of her family. The stock with which she started her married life, it was her constant care to augment from time to time, and when a division of the goods and gear took place after the mother’s death, there was nothing the daughters more earnestly coveted, and over which they were more apt to quarrel, than the possession of the blankets. The store in a long-established household sometimes numbered no less than thirty, forty, or fifty pairs. The worship of the goddess of fashion had not yet been set up in country parts. Household comfort, rather than personal display, was the great aim of the matrons of that age.

What little traffic there was between one part of the country and another was easily enough overtaken by the carriers’ carts, which conveyed heterogeneous loads of merchandise, composed largely of small parcels, which were kept from falling off by a square wooden “heck,” tied on the top of the heavier goods. It was within the heck and among the parcels that the weary traveller, who was fortunate enough to get a lift from the good-natured carrier, was seated.

Not only in respect of the necessaries of life was it true that each locality provided for its own needs, but the same principle applied in trades and manufactures. The records of the burgh make reference, for example, to the following as having been practised here : — Plough-wright, turner, wool-comber, tanner, stocking-framer, dyster or dyer, bookbinder, barber, and wig-maker. The trade of plough-wright, now practically obsolete, reminds one of the age when agricultural implements were of rude and simple construction, and were principally made of wood. A turning-lathe is still to be seen in country joiners’ shops here and there, for, to the general joiner or carpentry business, is often added that of cabinetmaking—the making of the furniture which forms the plenishing of a young married couple’s home. This consisted of the kitchen requisites, including a corner cupboard, made of triangular form, and set up overhead in a corner, containing the best china, for the display of which the door was usually left open; and further, a cupboard and dresser, as it is called, which stood on the floor; across the upper part rails of wood were stretched, behind which were arrayed the housewife’s best dinner service, all set up on edge, with her best spoons placed between, and additional attractiveness lent to the set-out by a row of bowls ornamented in dazzling colours, and various smaller articles similarly emblazoned. The branch of cabinet-making is, however, a mere adjunct to the joiner’s main business, and no one now professes the regular trade of turner. In the early part of the century there was a tan-pit at the foot of the Calton Close (now named Baronscourt), and a bark-mill stood on the south side of the close. The reference to the trades of wool-comber and dyer (or dyster, as it was universally styled), points to the woollen manufactures, which are treated of in the chapter on “ Industries,” as is also the old-established manufacture of stockings, gloves, and mittens. The town likewise boasted a bookbinder. One Thomas Brown, who followed this calling, would appear to have been a man of some literary pretensions, for he published in the year 1807 a “Gazeteer of the United Kingdom,” in two vols., a copy of which is in the possession of Mr Robert Halliday, weaver, Castle Street, who purchased it at a roup many years ago. The work is wonderfully complete, and does the utmost credit to the industry of one who, so situated, must have laboured under great difficulties in the compilation of such a mass of detailed information.

The reader will be surprised to learn that there were in the town two tobacco factories. James Otto, the father of Provost Otto, was a tobacco manufacturer. He had his factory in the house, 2 Church Road, the front of which was pierced by nine windows, five, in the upper and four in the ground flat. Of these, four have been built up, and the whole converted into a dwelling-house. The other factory was the second house south of the police station, on the same side of the street. It is but natural to expect to find a brewery in a town, where, together with the immediate neighbourhood, there were no less than about thirty public-houses, in days before the temperance movement had arisen, and when drinking customs were almost universal. Such an establishment was kept in the building at the corner of High Street' and Leven Road by the firm of Brown, Nichol, and Yass, while another, kept by Jonathan Dawson, was situated in the range of buildings in Simpson Hoad, commonly called “The Tabernacle.” The daily wants of the population were further provided for by bands of travelling tinkers, who moved up and down the length and breadth of the land, making on the spot and selling tin utensils of all kinds ; basket-makers, who found in the woods and marshy flats the willow wands and sticks they required in their trade, and with these wove baskets according to the size and style prescribed by the housewife, while horn spoons were worked out of the horns of slain cattle, laid past for that purpose, and placed in the hands of persons skilled in this manufacture, who moved about from farm-house to farm-house, remaining at each till the stock of horn had been exhausted. Coming rouud periodically like the pedlar, to whom reference is elsewhere made, these itinerant tradesmen established relations of friendship with their customers. They generally belonged to the wandering tribe of gipsies, but they were quite civil and orderly in their behaviour. Their food and lodging they received free, and beyond that their charges were not heavy.

In days when newspapers were scarce and dear, the news of public events travelled slowly. A copy of the London Times of the time of the Battle of Waterloo cost sixpence, and consisted of four pages of a small sheet, which, when spread out, was little bigger than an ordinary sized pocket handkerchief. Reports of murders and minor crimes, such as now help to swell the sale of our leading weeklies, were never heard of very far from the locality in which these occurred, but when a tragedy of unusual horror was committed, the intelligence was carried over the whole country by a class of newsmen, whose method of publication was after this manner :—The various scenes were depicted on little pieces of canvas about two feet square in pictures of the rudest type. The first was, usually, a portrait of the criminal, whose countenance proved him a villain -of the deepest dye ; the next represented the actual perpetration of the crime ; in some instances the victim, a woman, was seen seized by the murderer by the hair of tho head, while from the wound inflicted by a long, glittering knife, ran a stream of blood, indicated by a big splash of red paint. Then followed the trial scene, which represented the judge perched up on a high bench, his head covered by an enormous wig, but his countenance giving no evidence of intellectual vigour or judicial serenity; in truth, the whole—judges, counsel, and criminal—often bore a striking resemblance to each other, the artist’s power of delineation being evidently limited to but one type of feature. Last of all came the execution. Upon a stariug white ground a huge scaffold, black and appalling, was painted, and at the end of the noose attached to the cross-beam hung the murderer, his body writhing and his countenance distorted in his last agony. These gruesome pictures were mounted in the style of maps, and were attached by cords to the top of a poll, about seven feet high. A bundle of little pamphlets containing “The Last Speech and Dying Confession of,” and a little stick completed the showman’s equipment. Taking up his position in the most public part of the street, he commenced to recite the particular incidents of the tragedy. He affected a style of speech which was a harsh monotone, and it was quickly recognised by the inhabitants, young and old. He was surrounded by an eager crowd, whose imaginations it was plain to see were excited by the harrowing details to which they listened. As he proceeded, the exhibitor, with the stick, drew the attention of his audience to the picture which illustrated the point which he had reached in his narration, and the pictures, arranged in order, were turned over the top of the staff till the complete tale had been unfolded. Copies of the pamphlet were then offered for sale, and were eagerly bought up, and carried off to be read at leisure. The practice was a most demoralising one, and happily it has been swept away by the newspaper press. The very last occasion on which it was seen was on the execution of Mary Timney at Dumfries in the year 1862.

In those days, when holiday-making was comparatively unknown, and the opportunities of relaxation and amusement were nothing to what they have since become, the visits from time to time of travelling showmen were a source of great delight to the simple-minded country people. There were among themselves men of splendid build and enormous muscular power—children of nature, whose finely proportioned, well-knit frames had been developed by regular simple habits of life and daily exercise in manual labour. They enjoyed in a super-eminent degree that choicest of earthly blessings—mens sana in corpore sano—and this gift had not been corrupted by illness or dissipation. When, therefore, the professional athlete, after the performance of some great feat of mere strength, strutted round the ring, as was his wont, and threw down his challenge to all the world, which in this instance meant only the wondering crowd that surrounded the arena, it was no uncommon sight to see a stalwart son of the soil elbowing his way to the front. Encouraged by the cheers of his friends, who regarded him as their champion, he, by the mere forthputting of the enormous power that lay slumbering in his gigantic frame, completely vanquished the well-trained performer. Such an one was Hewetson of Glenmanna, of whom many a story is told of deeds done which seem almost incredible. His achievements were the talk of the whole country side far and near, and, coming to the- ear of the Duke of Buccleuch, led his grace to send for Glenmanna, who was one of his own tenants, in order that he might satisfy himself of their truth. The result was that the Duke carried him off to London to exhibit his powers, and it is related that the feats performed by him in the metropolis in presence of the Duke’s guests filled them with amazement. Notices of these are to be found in theDumfries Magazine and other publications of the period, and his monster putting-stone is enumerated in the appendix, in the list of articles of antiquarian interest still to be seen in the parish. This stone weighs 150 lbs.

It was, therefore, not so much by performances of this kind, but rather by those in which agility and dexterity were displayed, that the minds of the common people were most readily impressed. Acrobatic feats and sleight of hand most puzzled their wits and excited their interest, while the height of the showman’s profession was, in their eyes, occupied by the owner of a large circus or a wild-beast menagerie. The visits of these latter were of rarer occurrence, but, when they did occur, they created a profound sensation. The placarding of the streets with the large and highly-coloured posters raised a flutter of expectation in the breasts of old and young alike. The day of arrival was a red-letter day. Little work was done, vast crowds gathered from the whole region around, and the entire population who could move lined the streets to witness the imposing procession of gilded chariots and gaily-caparisoned steeds. The ground on which the “shows” congregated was the school playground, and on such great occasions the old schoolmaster, in letting the ground, made it a condition that his school children should be admitted to a special afternoon performance on terms which were within the reach of the poorest. The children assembled in the school, and marched across to the show with their master at their head.

Among all the showmen, however, who visited Sanquhar, there was one who was their special favourite, and that was “Old Ord,” as he was familiarly, nay affectionately, called by the Sanquhar people. Mr Ord belonged to the town of Biggar, and was altogether an exceptional man of his class. He was a thoroughly respectable man, and most respectably connected, his father, it is said, having been the parish minister of Ettrick, and the conduct of his business was most regular and orderly. Drinking and swearing were alike prohibited ; the reader will therefore understand that Ord was a showman of a type very rare in those, and still rarer in these times. He was a tall, spare man; and in his later years, when we knew him, he bore a singular resemblance in both face and figure to Professor Blackie of Edinburgh. Whenever he remained over Sabbath, he went to church ; his contribution to the door collection, then devoted to the relief of the poor, was a sovereign, a big coin to be seen in a church plate in those times; and in his prosperous days, when he travelled in his private carriage, accompanied by his physician (for this was his practice), lie spent much of his time reading the Bible.

But Ord, like most men of his class, experienced the rough buffetings of fortune. When he came first to Sanquhar, about seventy years ago, he was in a very small way, his entire stud consisting of—a donkey. He lingered about the place for some time, sufficiently long to enable the people to ascertain the true worth of the man. A feeling of sympathy for him sprang up, and a public subscription was opened to give him a fair start in life. The sum raised sufficed for the purchase of a good horse, which he trained to the ring. This proved the turning-point in his career, and the kindness of heart shewn to him by the Sanquhar people in the days of his adversity he never forgot. A strong feeling of mutual attachment and regard was engendered, and the many visits he paid to the town were not like the flying visits to other places of a similar size ; he was loth to leave the place and the people where and by whom he had been enabled first to place his foot on the ladder of fame and fortune. The townspeople had a sort of feeling that lie belonged to them, and they followed his career with keen interest and sympathy. Mr Ord’s son was for some time educated at Sanquhar school.

Though reasonably prosperous, he never owned a big stud ; he had no desire apparently to possess a huge establishment similar to those which move about iu the season from town to town, whose employees are compelled to lead a strange, rough life. They may be said to live on the road. Arriving at a town, generally during the forenoon, the procession takes place two or three hours thereafter, a matinee performance fills up the greater portion of the afternoon, leaving them but little time to rest and prepare for the principal performance in the evening, which terminates at a late hour. No sooner has the place been cleared of the audience than a gang of camp-followers proceed to strike tent; all is bustle and confusion; and, shouting, swearing, and jostling each other in their mad haste, they make a perfect bedlam, and the flare of the naphtha torches gives the scene a wild weird look. In an incredibly short space of time the whole is taken down, and packed on baggage waggons. A brief—very brief—interval for rest is allowed, when the word of command is passed round ; the scene of hurry, confusion, and shouting is enacted over again. Before morning breaks the whole has vanished like a dream, leaving the play-green silent and desolate, the grass trodden and crushed with innumerable feet, and the surface cut and disfigured with the wheels of the ponderous waggons, while all around are strewn heaps of straw and steaming manure to pollute the freshness of the morning air. Meanwhile the poor showmen and showwomen are pushing along on their dark night march, and those who only a few hours before had been flying round the ring, glorious in their spangled dresses, and flushed with the plaudits of a vast crowd of admiring spectators, may now be seen, pale and exhausted, vainly trying to snatch an hour’s sleep, while their wearied limbs can ill bear the jolting of the waggons on their forced march over the rough country roads. Such is the life of the showman, and a rough life it is. The only good sound sleep he gets is at the end of the week, for the stage of the journey between Saturday and Monday is taken on the Sabbath day—at least, this has latterly grown to be the practice. The travelling of these establishments on Sabbath, particularly during church hours, along quiet country roads and through quiet country villages and parishes is one that, for the day, exercises a demoralising effect on the juvenile population over a wide extent of country, and causes, when it does occur, just complaint by the respectable portion of the community. It cannot be justified on the ground of necessity ; this is proved by the fact that only in recent years has the practice commenced. The showman of a past generation had some regard for the sacredness of the day, and for the religious susceptibilities of his neighbours.

Old Ord, of whom, however, we would more particularly speak, was, as will be gathered from what has already been said of him, a man of a very different stamp to the modern showman. In many respects, his ways were not the ways of his profession generally, not merely in his character and social habits, but likewise in his method of doing business. He took things more quietly and leisurely. His was an open-air performance, and continued to be so even when he became a very old man. He was the sole equestrian, but, in the estimation of all his admirers, he was a host in himself. The preparations made were of a very simple character. A broad circular path was formed by “flaying” the sods off the surface of the ground, and these being piled up all round the path formed a bank, which served to keep the youngsters off the course. Around the arena thus formed the grown people stood, while the juveniles squatted on the ground in front. Notwithstanding the lack of many of the accessories of his profession, and the absence of any professional training, Mr Ord, having learnt all that he knew by hard work and perseverance, the entertainment he gave was undeniably one of genuine merit. It embraced a variety of the usual tricks of daring horsemanship, but the piece de resistance—the item which took the fancy of old and young alike was of a burlesque kind, and was naturally kept to the end. It consisted of a representation of characters, half-a-dozen in number, all done on horseback. The old man retired to a neighbouring house to dress, and, after an interval, reappeared in the ring, somewhat bulky in figure, for he bore about his body, one over the other, and all fixed by a mysterious arrangement of strings, the whole series of vestments required for the representation. Into the centre of the ring had meanwhile been brought the various stage properties necessary. Mounted on his best trained horse off he went, twirling a shillelagh, dancing an Irish jig, and giving a wonderfully realistic sketch of Irish character. Flinging away stick and bonnet, he pulled a string and forthwith the entire suit fell away, revealing him next as a sailor, whereupon clapping on his head a straw hat, which had been tossed up to him by his attendant, he placed his arms a-kimbo, and danced a hornpipe to the tune of “Jack a Tar.” This done, another string was drawn, and he appeared as a “soldier bold.” To this succeeded “the drucken fishwife.’’ With a clean white “mutch,” the old man looked the part of the auld wife to perfection, his face, it is said, closely resembling that of Bettie Sloan, an old Sanquhar woman. He staggered about on the horse’s back in the most reckless manner, but ever kept his feet. Still another string was pulled, and off flew the skirt, when, last of all, he appeared in all the glory of the tartan-kilt—a warlike Highland chieftain. There were handed up to him a bonnet and plume, a shield and a gleaming broadsword. Rousing his lagging steed, with a hoarse roar, he flew round the ring, his face aglow with the passion of war, cut and thrust, parried and fenced, as if engaged in a desperate single-handed combat. On the duel went with increasing determination and fury to the inspiring strains of “Rob Roy Macgregor O,” played by his fiddler. Higher and higher.rose the enthusiasm of the rustic crowd, till, both man and horse exhausted, he sprang to the ground, amid a perfect whirlwind of applause. The transformation could go no further, for he had now got to the bare skin, and thus ended a display which can never be forgotten by those who had the good fortune to witness it.

Another favourite representation of his was what he dignified with the title of “The St. Petersburg Courier,” and consisted of his riding six bare-backed horses abreast. With his feet planted on the outside pair (and this he was only enabled to do by the length of his legs, which were disproportionately long for even a tall man like him), he made the circuit of the course a few times, then liberated a pair of the horses, which immediately dashed to the front ; by and bye another pair were freed, and so in pairs they pursued each other till, gently reining in the pair which he continued to ride, he allowed the first and then the second pair to overtake him, each pair as they drew up resuming their places in the team. This was repeated time after time, and the exhibition was justly regarded as a good example both of training and horsemanship.

Variety was given to the entertainment by his son-in-law, Delaney, also a tall man, who was equally great in his department of acrobat. He turned somersaults with perfect ease, and bent his body into shapes and forms wonderful to behold. Oue feat which he performed will itself give an idea of his capabilities. He mounted step by step a ladder 12 or 15 feet in height, set up on the bare ground, and totally unsupported. Slowly and steadily he ascended, till he had reached the top. The ladder was so constructed that the one side, with the steps, could be detached by a jerk from the other. Seizing then with his right hand the head of the one side, he with his left sharply jerked away the other with the steps attached, which then fell to the ground. Poising himself on the top of the bare pole which he grasped, he swung his body gradually upwards, and finished by standing on his head on its very top.

The entertainment being open and free, the reader may ask—How was the establishment kept up 1 It was by a lottery, the tickets for which were sold round the ring in the intervals of the performance, and by the proceeds of a dramatic representation, which took place in the Council House, the favourite piece acted being “Gilderoy.”

Ord, having reached what for him was a state of high prosperity—when his stud embraced half a scoro of valuable horses, bethought himself that he would take a journey over the Border, and seek “fresh fields and pastures new.” He travelled over a considerable part of England, and eventually found his way into Wales. Here a sad disaster befel him, for, by their having drunk water impregnated with some poisonous substance, he lost his whole stud except two. He retraced his steps to Scotland, sore stricken in spirit. For some years longer he wandered up and down the country, but in a sadly-reduced state, and finally disappeared from the road about thirty years ago. His ashes rest in the churchyard of his native town, Biggar. R.I.P.

The lame fiddler appeared in his old haunts at fitful intervals long after his old master had passed away, and many a copper was tossed to him for the sake of “Old Ord.”

There were but few amusements to relieve the dulness and gloom of the long winter nights. During the day, whenever frost occurred, the game of curling was followed with great spirit, and in the evenings the games were played over again by the curlers either at their own firesides or in the public-houses over a “dram.” The opportunities of curling were more regular and extended in the early years of the century than they have been in recent times. At least, it is a prevailing impression among the older people that the seasons were then more severe, and that, from whatever cause, the winters now are more open and mild, as a rule, and this idea seems to be borne out by the records of the Curling Society, which shew a comparatively unbroken round of games winter after winter. Though that was the case, there were, however, many weeks of every season when there was no frost, and other forms of amusement had to be sought after. Among these, draught playing was practised to a considerable extent, and there were many excellent players in the town. Here, and in the neighbouring parish of Kirkconnel, especially in the latter, there was a group of players who could hold their own with the best exponents of the game. Wylie, “The Herd Laddie,” and the world’s champion at one period, came to Kirkconnel when quite a lad. He had already attracted attention as a promising player, and, finding a congenial society in the little village, he stayed about the place for weeks, having nightly encounters with the more notable players. In Jamie Steel he found his match, and the young lad, whose fame was destined to spread wherever the game was known, confessed that, during his sojourn in Kirkconnel, his play was much improved.

Amateur theatricals were likewise a source of amusement. A company composed of young men of the town performed winter after winter. It cannot be said they displayed any great degree of histrionic talent, but their efforts proved quite satisfactory to their audiences. At the same time, there were individual cases where an intelligent and sympathetic rendering of the part was really accomplished. In the “Gentle Shepherd,” for example, which was naturally a special favourite with such an audience, illustrating, as it did, incidents which were those of their own daily lives, the uncouth manners and broad humour of “Bauldie” were admirably interpreted by Charlie M'lver. In successive representations in later times of this comedy the part was assumed by others, but it was generally allowed that none could compare to “Charlie.” The whole of the characters, male and female, were sustained by men, none of the girls ever venturing upon the stage ; any one who did would have been held lacking in modesty. Female parts were assigned, therefore, to those who were of moderate stature, and of that feminine cast of countenance which would readily lend itself to a successful make-up, for this, even more than the acting, was held of the highest importance; and thus “The Button,” as he was called, a lively little man, played the part of Mause. So completely was he disguised, and so perfectly did he look the old crone, that on the last occasion on which he ever played, one of the audience who sat near the stage, and who knew him well, inquired of a neighbour—“Whae’s Mause?” and received for answer—“Whae’s Mause? D’ye no ken ‘The Button?’ He’s as like what his auld aunt Mary was as she had sputten him.” But “The Button” revealed himself before all was done. Those who have seen the play know that it is brought to a close by the singing of “Cora Rigs and Barley Rigs.” The whole of the company had assembled on the stage in a circle, and the chorus began. “The Button,” tired of the restraint to which he had been subjected the whole evening, and entering thoroughly into the spirit of the occasion, suddenly broke forth on his own account. He had a fine tenor voice, and suiting the action to the words, he sang this fine old song iu a style that fairly captivated the audience.

The ideas of stage representation possessed by amateur companies were certainly crude and original, and would have sent an habitue of city theatres into fits of laughter, but in this case ignorance was bliss, and these theatrical entertainments served the admirable purpose of brightening by innocent amusement the minds of simple country folks, whose lives at the best were dull and monotonous enough. Incidents, the humour and ludicrousness of which were, however, apparent to even such a simple audience, did sometimes occur, as, for instance, in the representation of Sir Walter Scott’s “ Rob Roy.” The person who sustained the role of Andrew Fairservice had diligently learnt his part, learnt it in truth too well. The little manual contained, at a certain point, the stage direction {Enter Andrew Fairservice—drunk). He failed to understand that he was simply to act as herein directed—that is, swagger on to the stage as if in a drunken condition—but at the proper moment he rushed on the stage, with neither staggering gait nor befuddled countenance, but straight and steady, aud having assumed what he thought a striking attitude, announced himself by shouting—“Enter Andrew Fairservice, drunk.” This ridiculous contretemps fairly brought down the house.

These representations were given in the Council House, in the principal room, which, however, only measured about 400 square feet on the floor. The stage was necessarily very limited, and in order to accommodate as many as possible, the audience sat in one steep gallery, reaching from the verge of the stage to the back, those on the top bench having to bend low under the very ceiling. Night after night the place was packed to suffocation, but in spite of the crush and the heat, the company made, performers and spectators together, a right merry party.

“Douglas,” “The "Rose of Ettrick Yale,” “Rob Roy,” “Pizarro,” and other dramatic pieces, were put on the stage from time to time, but the “Gentle Shepherd” it was that most correctly hit the popular taste.

The foregoing is a sketch, and only a sketch, of the social condition and economics of the life of the inhabitants of this and many other districts of Scotland during the period immediately prior to the introduction of the railway system into the country.

Let us now glance at the effects, immediate and ultimate, of the introduction of railways on the life and manners of the inhabitants of every region into which they have penetrated, for this was an event which amounted to a revolution, the results of which were deep and far-reaching. The first effect was a quickening of trade, caused by the circulation of the money paid in wages in connection with their construction. The bands of navvies employed—English, Scotch, and Irish —were a reckless and improvident class, and the whole of their earnings were spent in the gratification of their appetites. The public-house came in for a large share, but every branch of trade benefited to a certain extent; and the tradesmen and dealers who were careful to make hay while the sun shone, found themselves speedily in a position of ease and comfort. This immediate quickening of trade was a result of railway making which had been foreseen by the bulk of the country people, and was a consideration which largely accounted for the extraordinary enthusiasm with which they hailed the advent of this new and expeditious mode of travelling, but they had failed to grasp what its enduring results in the course of time would prove. No sooner, however, was the work completed, and the floating population, to which its construction gave rise, had gone, than the people had leisure to realise that, so far from the railway having a permanent influence towards the improvement and development of trade, the tendency was to be altogether in the opposite direction, so far as small country towns were concerned. In addition to the trade of the resident population, Sanquhar had benefited to n considerable extent from the passenger traffic by coach and otherwise, and by the extensive cartage of coals from the pits in the vicinity all over a wide district of country. The whole of the passenger traffic was immediately, and the large proportion of the goods traffic gradually, but surely, swept from the countiy roads, the result being that, when the influence of this new power had had time to have its full effect, the trade of such small towns was found to be irretrievably ruined, and the peace and quiet of many a country district, after the din and stir which awoke it up for a brief period had ceased, reigned more profound than ever. Speaking of trade, it may be here incidentally remarked that the streets of country towns have likewise been rendered more silent still by a change in the method of trading of late years, for which the keener competition in all branches of enterprise is principally, and the railway system in a minor degree, responsible. Part of the produce of the farms, butter, eggs, &c., was carried to the town to market, and this was a part of her work, which, though the burden was sometimes very considerable, was cheerfully undertaken by the dairymaid. It was a pleasant outing, and further, as it afforded possible opportunities of flirtation with one or other of the young gallants who might offer to carry her basket, or give her a good long Scotch convoy on her way home, she, with a true woman’s instinct, made careful preparations for going to the town. Her hair was put up with special care, and her dress consisted of a loose jacket, called a “juip,” made of printed cotton, the favourite pattern being a very small pink tick or stripe, tied at the neck by a bright ribbon, formed at the throat into a neat bow or rosette, and her best and newest striped drugget petticoat, worn comparatively short. A sun-bonnet, clean and well starched, shaded her comely face, which had the hue of ruddy health and happy content, while, as often as not, she tripped along barefoot, which she was none ashamed to do, particularly if she was conscious of the possession of a shapely foot and a well-turned ankle. No one received a more hearty welcome by the shopkeeper than the dairymaid, for not only did the sweet fragrant rolls of butter and the fresh laid eggs, swathed in the folds of a towel spotlessly clean, which she bore in the basket over her arm, find a ready sale among his customers, but as their payment was generally, on the system of barter, taken out in kind, consisting of household necessaries, the transaction was one of double advantage to him.

This practice has almost entirely disappeared, having given place to a system of travelling-shops. From each small town a string of carts belonging to the various traders daily scour the country in all directions, vieing with each other for the trade, not only of the farm-houses, but likewise of every cottage within reach. They bear loads of every conceivable thing, in the way of provisions, required by the housewife. A considerable change had already taken place in the diet of town families ; baker’s bread and biscuits having been substituted for porridge and oatmeal cakes, and the consumption of such things as jams and jellies, tinned meats and other dainties had become very great; but up to the time, about a dozen years ago, when these travelling shops began to go their rounds, this change of diet had not been adopted among the families of shepherds and agricultural labourers. With these fancy articles brought to their doors, however, and pressed upon them by the traders, they have been gradually led to abandon to a great extent their former simple and wholesome diet. For this great and grievous change the housewives must be held responsible, and a heavy responsibility it is, for to it is in large measure due the deterioration in physique which is observable in the classes referred to. Mothers have, unfortunately, had more regard to their own ease and convenience than to economy in household management and to the health and physical well-being of their children.

In the matter of dress, likewise, the changes were comparatively unimportant. The inhabitants of country districts had no acquaintance with the vagaries of fashion, which nowhere, it is true, either in town or country, were then so frequent or extraordinary as they have since become, owing to the vastly increased wealth now distributed over large classes of the population. Their dress more nearly conformed to the necessities of their calling, or of the climate, and, therefore, the prevailing style continued very much in the form in which it had been handed down by a previous generation. In rural parts, indeed, there was then less distinction 'of classes ; the people were all, with very few exceptions, more on a general level of material condition. There were among them no social leaders, from whom new ideas in dress might be borrowed; the only glimpse they could have of the prevailing fashion was from a lady-passenger by the coach.

But the effects of the railway, in leading to an assimilation in manners both as to food and dress of the people in the town and country, are self-evident, through the more frequent and regular intercourse which was secured between the inhabitants of one part and another, so that those in rural districts have been led to abandon their simple tastes, and to ape the more artificial, or if you will, refined tastes of the dwellers in towns.

Another effect of the railway was to accelerate and increase the depopulation of the country districts, to which reference has been made. It is true that in Scotland, more than in any other country, people of humble condition prized highly, and made in many instances considerable sacrifices to secure to their children, the benefits of education, brought within their reach by the excellent system of parish schools. A large proportion of the masters of those schools were university bred men (the profession of schoolmaster was that upon which many “stickit ministers” had to fall back), and so it came about that the bright and promising scholar was able to gather a knowledge of the classics, sufficient to enable him to step up into the university, and the ranks of the students were to such a large extent swelled by raw country lads who had to “cultivate philosophy on a little oatmeal,” for their parents’ circumstances compelled them to practise in their scholastic days the humble style of living in which they had been brought up. They were sprung from a shrewd, hardheaded race, and the habits of industry, of self-restraint, and self-reliance, to which they had been accustomed, enabled them to hold their own in the contest for scholastic honours, and afterwards in the arena of public life, against those who had been nursed in the lap of luxury, and enjoyed the advantage of influential social connections.

The numbers, however, who were thus drawn away to other spheres of labour than their own native vales, or who voluntarily migrated to the towns, or even went beyond seas in quest of their fortunes, never represented at any time more than the natural surplus of population, the regular excess of births over deaths; in truth, in many country parishes, in spite of the drain from these causes, there was rather a tendency to increase of the population; but the introduction of railways marked the point from which a movement of the inhabitants of country parishes to the large centres of industry and commerce has gone on in ever-increasing volume. The extent of this shifting of population is revealed in the last census returns, those of 1891, in figures which have startled the country, and caused grave concern in the minds of thoughtful men. It is to be attributed to the double influence of, on the one hand., the attractions of town life, consisting of a higher rate of wages, and amusements and other social considerations, which powerfully affect the imagination of people whose daily life and habits are simple and homely; and on the other, of the expulsive force exercised by the short-sighted policy of the land-owning class, according to which many of our small country towns are, as it were, bound with an iron ring of restriction. “Hitherto thou shalt go, and no further,” is the fiat of the landlord—a fiat as irresistible in the present state of the law as the divine decrees, and has effectually quelled the enterprise of what might have been thriving communities in many districts of the country. So long as communication was difficult and expensive, the rural population remained in a condition of passive submission to a state of matters which there seemed no hope of bettering, and from which there appeared no way of escape. The history of one generation was repeated in the next, and so long as they knew no better, so long did the people remain contented with their lot. But the railway changed all that. The opportunity was now offered to those living in out-of-the-way places to make an excursion into the great world, which had been hitherto beyond their ken. The cheap trips which were organised by the railway companies brought enormous numbers of country folks to the large towns. No sooner did these crowds step on the streets than they stood still, bewildered and amazed. The houses appeared to the eyes of those who had been accustomed all their lives to little low-roofed thatch cottages as if they towered up to heaven. They gazed, open-mouthed, while their minds were awed with the vast crowds of human beings as they passed along with keen, eager faces and quick hurried steps, and with the roaring tide of traffic. By aud bye, when they had become somewhat accustomed to these marvellous sights and sounds, their attention was attracted by the shop-windows, and there they speedily found fresh cause for wonder, for there they saw such a display of wealth and splendour as they had never dreamt of.

Many of them dared not venture out of sight of the railway station, fearful lest they should lose themselves in what appeared to them a labyrinth of streets and lanes, from which, once they were entangled, there would be no hope of escape ; but though their sight-seeing was thus of a very limited extent, they came away profoundly impressed with the greatness and glory, the wealth and magnificence of the city. The whole presented to their wondering eyes and their simple minds a dazzling vision, which, on their return, they vainly tried to describe to the folks at home, who in turn longed to view the wondrous sight. One can easily imagine how powerfully it affected the younger people, teaching them to sCorn their slow dull life and simple ways, aud firing them with the desire to see more of the world, of which they had had but a passing glimpse, and to share in the excitement and pleasure of a life which seemed to their unsophisticated minds one of supreme happiness. Their spirit was stirred in them; no longer could they settle contentedly down to their quiet humdrum existence; they must hie away to where fame and fortune were to be reaped, and where pleasure waited on them at every step.

In another way the railway operated towards the depopulation of rural districts. Prior to this time there had existed in country parts a large number of small factories and manufacturing works and many home industries, principal among which was hand-loom weaving, affording employment to thousands of families, but the railway tended to draw together these industries into large centres. Immense factories sprang up, in which the power-loom was introduced; the coal and iron industries, now increasing by gigantic strides, offered a rate of wages which, notwithstanding the many drawbacks of the work, proved an irresistible attraction to those whose earnings were barely sufficient to keep life in, and the consequent development of the general trade of the towns in all its branches caused the tide of migration to rise higher and higher. With regard to those who still inhabit the rural parishes, notable changes, as has been said, have occurred within the last forty years in their habits, in the matter of food and dress, and these changes are directly traceable, in a large degree, to the influence of the improved communication brought about by the system of railways. Brought into contact, as they never were before, with the denizens of the large towns, the country people have been led to discard their former simple habits, and to adopt the more artificial habits of townsfolk. From every centre of commerce there issues a perfect army of commercial men, who spread themselves over the whole land, pressing the sale of articles of daily use—preserved fruits, spices, tinned meats, and a countless variety of articles of foreign produce, now brought into our ports from every quarter of the globe. These again are carried to the very doors of the people in the remotest corners of the country by strings of vans and carts, and thus the habits of the people have been entirely changed, some will say, corrupted.

What is true with respect to food is equally true in regard to dress. The stray visit of the pedlar was the only opportunity afforded of seeing or purchasing anything of a fancy kind in the way of dress. In truth, his pack was made up rather of the finer sorts of house plenishing, linen and the like, and even the stock of the draper and clothier in small towns was almost wholly composed of woollen materials designed for wear, and not for display. The tailors or dressmakers in Sanquhar could be almost counted on the fingers of the hand, the system of working in the homes of their customers, subsequently referred to as practised by tailors, was likewise followed by dressmakers, who were expected to finish a lady’s dress in a day, so plain were the fashions of the time; and, perhaps, to cut out a child’s frock, to be sewed by the mother at her leisure, her wage for this being Is per day and her food. Now, dressmakers can be counted by the dozen. They pay periodical visits to the large towns “to see the fashions,” and make the purchases necessary to enable them to keep their customers abreast of the times. Magazines giving directions for the manipulation of these fashions are read not only by all engaged iu the business of dressmaking, but likewise in many private families, shewing to what an extent women’s thoughts are now given to their personal adornment, in contrast to the habits of their grandmothers.

In the department of millinery likewise, the change is noteworthy. Down to fifty years ago, the milliner, with her ribbons, lace, and gum-flowers, had not yet appeared, nor had the flimsy, fantastic creations with which she now crowns the head of her fair devotees. Our mothers contented themselves with good, plain straw, their only ambition in this connection being to be possessed of a “ leghorn.” These leghorn straws, though expensive at the ontset, served as the foundation of their head-gear for years, and frequently passed to the daughter at the death of the mother. At intervals they were confided to the care of the straw-bonnet maker, the prototype of the modern milliner, by whom they were taken to pieces, cleaned, and remodelled in the favourite form of the day. The advantage of the leghorn was that, besides being much superior in appearance, it was the only kind of straw that would stand the cleaning, by which process it was turned out as good as new. A few yards of ribbon, arranged according to the taste of the wearer, and by which it was tied uuder the chin, was all the expense incurred in the making-up.

While, therefore, the influence of the railway on small country towns and rural districts has spelt ruin to trade, and has, for the plain, homely, frugal habits of the people, substituted a more artificial style of living, it, at the same time, has brought in its train incalculable advantages of an educative and social character. In this respect, it has proved a potent factor in the work of civilisation and refinement. Both in the facilities which it afforded in the dissemination of the daily press, which, on the abolition of the paper duty, was so largely extended, and likewise in the numberless other agencies for the public information and instruction, the railway played an important part, and, but for it, the growth and development of these agencies would have been less rapid and complete. There has been an undoubted improvement in the manners of the people, due doubtless to the opening up of the country aud the closer inter-communion of one district with another and of class with class, and the deathblow has been given to many an objectionable feature of the social life of the rural population. There is one change, however, which we cannot but regret, and has, by many who have studied the matter closely, been largely attributed to this inter-communion brought about by the railway, viz., the disappearance to a great extent of the “characters,” who were to be found in country towns—persons of strong individuality, of ready wit, or eccentricity of manner. Whether the railway and the altered conditions of life in which it resulted are responsible, as has been supposed, for the gradual disappearance and threatened extinction of this race of characters whose sayings and doings gave a zest to the life of their neighbours and friends, and are an interesting subject of study, will probably remain a matter of opinion, but that they are diminishing in number is unquestionable, and the fact that this is so renders tamer and less interesting the daily ways of our country people, and is a cause of regret to all who interest themselves in the study of Scottish life and character. Typical examples of them are to be found in the pages of Sir Walter Scott, where the peculiarities of their mental constitution and manners are admirably pourtrayed, and .where the social life of the Scottish people of the olden time is drawn with inimitable power and felicity.


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