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Reminiscences of Scottish Life & Character
Chapter 7 - On Scottish Stories of Wit and Humour (Part 1)


THE portion of our subject which we proposed under the head of "Reminiscences of Scottish Stories of Wit or Humour," yet remains to be considered. This is closely connected with the questions of Scottish dialect and expressions; indeed, on some points hardly separable, as the wit, to a great extent, proceeds from the quaint and picturesque modes of expressing it. But here we are met by a difficulty. On high authority it has been declared that no such thing as wit exists amongst us. What has no existence can have no change. We cannot be said to have lost a quality which we never possessed. Many of my readers are no doubt familiar with what Sydney Smith declared on this point, and certainly on the question of wit he must be considered an authority. He used to say (I am almost ashamed to repeat it), "It requires a surgical operation to get a joke well into a Scotch understanding. Their only idea of wit, which prevails occasionally in the north, and which, under the name of WUT, is so infinitely distressing to people of good taste, is laughing immoderately at stated intervals." Strange language to use of a country which has produced Smollet, Burns, Scott, Galt, and Wilson—all remarkable for the humour diffused through their writings! Indeed, we may fairly ask, have they equals in this respect amongst English writers? Charles Lamb had the same notion, or, I should rather say, the same prejudice, about Scottish people not being accessible to wit; and he tells a story of what happened to himself, in corroboration of the opinion. He had been asked to a party, and one object of the invitation had been to meet a son of Burns. When he arrived, Mr Burns had not made his appearance, and in the course of conversation regarding the family of the poet, Lamb, in his lackadaisical kind of manner, said, "I wish it had been the father instead of the son"; upon which four Scotsmen present with one voice exclaimed, "That’s impossible, for he’s dead." [After all, the remark may not have been so absurd then as it appears now. Burns had not been long dead, nor was he then so noted a character as he is now. The Scotsmen might really have supposed a Southerner inacquainted with the fact of the poet’s death.] Now, there will be dull men and matter-of-fact men everywhere, who do not take a joke, or enter into a jocular allusion; but surely, as a general remark, this is far from being a natural quality of our country. Sydney Smith and Charles Lamb say so. But, at the risk of being considered presumptuous, I will say I think them entirely mistaken. I should say that there was, on the contrary, a strong connection between the Scottish temperament and, call it if you like, humour, if it is not wit. And what is the difference? My readers need not be afraid that they are to be led through a labyrinth of metaphysical distinctions between wit and humour. I have read Dr Campbell’s dissertation on the difference, in his Philosophy of Rhetoric; I have read Sydney Smith’s own two lectures; but I confess I am not much the wiser. Professors of rhetoric, no doubt, must have such discussions; but when you wish to be amused by the thing itself, it is somewhat disappointing to be presented with metaphysical analysis. It is like instituting an examination of the glass and cork of a champagne bottle, and a chemical testing of the wine. In the very process the volatile and sparkling draught which was to delight the palate has become like ditch water, vapid and dead. What I mean is, that, call it wit or humour, or what you please, there is a school of Scottish pleasantry, amusing and characteristic beyond all other. Don’t think of analysing its nature, or the qualities of which it is composed; enjoy its quaint and amusing flow of oddity and fun; as we may, for instance, suppose it to have flowed on that eventful night so joyously described by Burns :—

"The souter tauld his queerest stories,
The landlord’s laugh was ready chorus."

Or we may think of the delight it gave the good Mr Balwhidder, when he tells, in his Annals of the Parish, of some such story, that it was a "jocosity that was just a kittle to hear." When I speak of changes in such Scottish humour which have taken place, I refer to a particular sort of humour, and I speak of the sort of feeling that belongs to Scottish pleasantry—which is sly, and cheery, and pawky. It is undoubtedly a humour that depends a good deal upon the vehicle in which the story is conveyed. If, as we have said, our quaint dialect is passing away, and our national eccentric points of character, we must expect to find much of the peculiar humour allied with them to have passed away also. In other departments of wit and repartee, and acute hits at men and things, Scotsmen (whatever Sydney Smith may have said to the contrary) are equal to their neighbours, and, so far as I know, may have gained rather than lost. But this peculiar humour of which I now speak has not, in our day, the scope and development which were permitted to it by the former generation. Where the tendency exists, the exercise of it is kept down by the usages and feelings of society. For examples of it (in its full force at any rate) we must go back to a race who are departed. One remark, however, has occurred to me in regard to the specimens we have of this kind of humour, viz., that they do not always proceed from the personal wit or cleverness of any of the individuals concerned in them. The amusement comes from the circumstances, from the concurrence or combination of the ideas, and in many cases from the mere expressions which describe the facts. The humour of the narrative is unquestionable, and yet no one has tried to be humorous. In short, it is the Scottishness that gives the zest. The same ideas differently expounded might have no point at all. There is, for example, something highly original in the notions of celestial mechanics entertained by an honest Scottish Fife lass regarding the theory of comets. Having occasion to go out after dark, and having observed the brilliant comet then visible (1858), she ran in with breathless haste to the house, calling on her fellow-servants to "Come oot and see a new star that hasna got its tail cuttit aff yet!" Exquisite astronomical speculation! Stars, like puppies, are born with tails, and in due time have them docked. Take an example of a story where there is no display of any one’s wit or humour, and yet it is a good story, and one can’t exactly say why:—An English traveller had gone on a fine Highland road so long, without having seen an indication of fellow-travellers, that he became astonished at the solitude of the country; and no doubt before the Highlands were so much frequented as they are in our time, the roads sometimes bore a very striking aspect of solitariness. Our traveller, at last coming up to an old man breaking stones, asked him if there was any traffic on this road—was it at all frequented? "Ay," he said, coolly, "it’s no’ ill at that; there was a cadger body yestreen, and there’s yoursell the day." No English version of the story could have half such amusement, or have so quaint a character. An answer even still more characteristic is recorded to have been given by a countryman to a traveller. Being doubtful of his way, he inquired if he were on the right road to Dunkeld. With some of his national inquisitiveness about strangers, the countryman asked his inquirer where he came from. Offended at the liberty, as he considered it, he sharply reminded the man that where he came from was nothing to him; but all the answer he got was the quiet rejoinder, "Indeed, it’s just as little to me whar ye’re gaen." A friend has told me of an answer highly characteristic of this dry and unconcerned quality which he heard given to a fellow-traveller. A gentleman sitting opposite to him in the stagecoach at Berwick complained bitterly that the cushion on which he sat was quite wet. On looking up to the roof he saw a hole through which the rain descended copiously, and at once accounted for the mischief. He called for the coachman, and in great wrath reproached him with the evil under which he suffered, and pointed to the hole which was the cause of it. All the satisfaction, however, that he got was the quiet unmoved reply, "Ay, mony a ane has complained o’ that hole." Another anecdote I heard from a gentleman who vouched for the truth, which is just a case where the narrative has its humour not from the wit which is displayed but from that, dry matter-of-fact view of things peculiar to some of our countrymen. The friend of my informant was walking in a street of Perth, when, to his horror, he saw a workman fall from a roof where he was mending slates, right upon the pavement. By extraordinary good fortune he was not killed, and on the gentleman going up to his assistance, and exclaiming, with much excitement, "God bless me, are you much hurt?" all the answer he got was the cool rejoinder, "On the contrary, sir." A similar matter-of-fact answer was made by one of the old race of Montrose humorists. He was coming out of church, and in the press of the kirk skailing, a young man thoughtlessly trod on the old gentleman’s toe, which was tender with corns. He hastened to apologise, saying, "I am very sorry, sir; I beg your pardon." The only acknowledgment of which was the dry answer, "And ye’ve as muckle need, sir." An old man marrying a very young wife, his friends rallied him on the inequality of their ages. "She will be near me," he replied, "to close my een." "Weel," remarked another of the party, "I’ve had twa wives, and they opened my een."

One of the best specimens of cool Scottish matter-of-fact view of things has been supplied by a kind correspondent, who narrates it from his own personal recollection.

The back windows of the house where he was brought up looked upon the Greyfriars Church that was burnt down. On the Sunday morning in which that event took place, as they were all preparing to go to church, the flames began to burst forth; the young people screamed from the back part of the house, "A fire! A fire!" and all was in a state of confusion and alarm. The housemaid was not at home, it being her turn for the Sunday "out." Kitty, the cook, was taking her place, and performing her duties. The old woman was always very particular on the subject of her responsibility on such occasions, and came panting and hobbling upstairs from the lower regions, and exclaimed, "Oh, what is’t, what is’t?" "O Kitty, look here, the Greyfriars Church is on fire!" "Is that a’, Miss? What a fricht ye geed me! I thought ye said the parlour fire was out."

In connection with the subject of Scottish toasts I am supplied by a first-rate Highland authority of one of the most graceful and crushing replies of a lady to what was intended as a sarcastic compliment and smart saying at her expense.

About the beginning of the present century the then Campbell of Combie, on Loch Awe side, in Argyleshire, was a man of extraordinary character, and of great physical strength, and such swiftness of foot that it is said he could "catch the best tup on the hill." He also looked upon himself as a "pretty man," though in this he was singular; also, it was more than whispered that the laird was not remarkable for his principles of honesty. There also lived in the same district a Miss MacNabb of Bar-a’-Chaistril, a lady who, before she had passed the zenith of life, had never been remarkable for her beauty—the contrary even had passed into a proverb, while she was in her teens; but, to counterbalance this defect in external qualities, nature had endowed her with great benevolence, while she was renowned for her probity. One day the laird of Combie, who piqued himself on his bon-mots, was, as frequently happened, a guest of Miss MacNabb’s, and after dinner several toasts had gone round as usual, Combie rose with great solemnity and addressing the lady of the house requested an especial bumper, insisting on all the guests to fill to the brim. He then rose and said, addressing himself to Miss MacNabb, "I propose the old Scottish toast of ‘Honest men and bonnie lassies," and bowing to the hostess, he resumed his seat. the lady returned his bow with her usual amiable smile, and taking up her glass, replied, "Weel, Combie, I am sure we may drink that, for it will neither apply to you nor me. An amusing example of a quiet cool view of a pecuniary transaction happened to my father whilst doing the business of the rent-day. He was receiving sums of money from the tenants in succession. After looking over a bundle of notes which he had just received from one of them, a well-known character, he said in banter, "James, the notes are not correct." To which the farmer, who was much of a humorist, drily answered, "I diana ken what they may be noo; but they were a’ richt afore ye had your fingers in amang ‘em." An English farmer would hardly have spoken thus to his landlord. The Duke of Buccleuch told me an answer very quaintly Scotch, given to his grandmother by a farmer of the old school. A dinner was given to some tenantry of the vast estates of the family, in the time of Duke Henry. His Duchess (the last descendant of the Dukes of Montague) always appeared at table on such occasions, and did the honours with that mixture of dignity and of affable kindness for which she was so remarkable. Abundant hospitality was shown to all the guests. The Duchess, having observed one of the tenants supplied with boiled beef from a noble round, proposed that he should add a supply of cabbage: on his declining, the Duchess good-humouredly remarked, "Why, boiled beef and ‘greens’ seem so naturally to go together, I wonder you don’t take it." To which the honest farmer objected, "Ah, but your Grace maun alloo it’s a vary windy vegetable," in delicate allusion to the flatulent quality of the esculent. Similar to this was the naive answer of a farmer on the occasion of a rent-day. The lady of the house asked him if he would take some "rhubarb-tart," to which he innocently answered, "Thank ye, mem, I dinna need it."

A Highland minister, dining with the patroness of his parish, ventured to say, "I’ll thank your leddyship for a little more of that apple-tart"; "It’s not apple-tart, it’s rhubarb," replied the lady. "Rhubarb!" repeated the other, with a look of surprise and alarm, and immediately called out to the attendant, "Freend, I’ll thank you for a dram."

A characteristic table anecdote I can recall amongst Deeside reminiscences. My aunt, Mrs Forbes, had entertained an honest Scotch farmer at Banchory Lodge; a draught of ale had been offered to him, which he had quickly despatched. My aunt observing that the glass had no head or effervescence, observed, that she feared it had not been a good bottle, "Oh, verra gude, ma’am, it’s just some strong o’ the aaple," an expression which indicates the beer to be somewhat sharp or pungent. It turned out to have been a bottle of vinegar decanted by mistake.

An amusing instance of an old Scottish farmer being unacquainted with table refinements occurred at a tenant’s dinner in the north. The servant had put down beside him a dessert spoon when he had been helped to pudding. This seemed quite superfluous to the honest man, who exclaimed, "Tak’ it awa’, my man; my mou’s as big for puddin’ as it is for kail."

Amongst the lower orders in Scotland humour is found, occasionally, very rich in mere children, and I recollect a remarkable illustration of this early native humour occurring in a family in Forfarshire, where I used in former days to be very intimate. A wretched woman, who used to traverse the country as a beggar or tramp, left a poor, half-starved little girl by the roadside, near the house of my friends. Always ready to assist the unfortunate, they took charge of the child, and as she grew a little older they began to give her some education, and taught her to read. She soon made some progress in reading the Bible, and the native odd humour of which we speak began soon to show itself. On reading the passage, which began, "Then David rose," etc., the child stopped, and looked up knowingly, to say, "I ken wha that was," and on being asked what she could mean, she confidently said, "That’s David Rowse the pleuchman." And again, reading the passage where the words occur, "He took Paul’s girdle," the child said, with much confidence, "I ken what he took that for," and on being asked to explain, replied at once, "To bake ‘s bannocks on"; "girdle" being in the north the name for the iron plate hung over the fire for baking oatcakes or bannocks.

To a distinguished member of the Church of Scotland I am indebted for an excellent story of quaint child humour, which he had from the lips of an old woman who related the story of herself :—When a girl of eight years of age she was taken by her grandmother to church. The parish minister was not only a long preacher, but, as the custom was, delivered two sermons on the Sabbath day without any interval, and thus saved the parishioners the two journeys to church. Elizabeth was sufficiently wearied before the close of the first discourse; but when, after singing and prayer, the good minister opened the Bible, read a second text, and prepared to give a second sermon, the young girl, being both tired and hungry, lost all patience, and cried out to her grandmother, to the no small amusement of those who were so near as to hear her, "Come awa’, granny, and gang hame; this is a lang grace, and nae meat."

A most amusing account of child humour used to be narrated by an old Mr Campbell of Jura, who told the story of his own son. It seems the boy was much spoilt by indulgence. In fact, the parents were scarce able to refuse him anything he demanded. He was in the drawing-room on one occasion when dinner was announced, and on being ordered up to the nursery he insisted on going down to dinner with the company. His mother was for refusal, but the child persevered, and kept saying, ‘if I dinna gang, I’ll tell thon." His father then, for peace sake, let him go. So he went and sat at table by his mother. When he found every one getting soup and himself omitted, he demanded soup, and repeated, "If I dinna get it, I’ll tell thon." Well, soup was given, and various other things yielded to his importunities, to which he always added the usual threat of "telling thon." At last, when it came to wine, his mother stood firm, and positively refused, as "a bad thing for little boys," and so on. He then became more vociferous than ever about "telling thon"; and as still he was refused, he declared, "Now, I will tell thon," and at last roared out, "Ma new breeks were made oot o’ the auld curtains !"

The Rev. Mr Agnew has kindly sent me an anecdote which supplies in example of cleverness in a Scottish boy, and which rivals, as he observes, the smartness of the London boy, termed by Punch the "Street boy." It has also a touch of quiet, sly Scottish humour. A gentleman editor of a Glasgow paper, well known as a bon-vivant and epicure, and by no means a popular character, was returning one day from his office, and met near his own house a boy carrying a splendid salmon. The gentleman looked at it with longing eyes, and addressed the boy: "Where are you taking that salmon, my boy?" Boy: "Do you ken gin ae Mr (giving the gentleman’s name) lives hereabout?" Mr —: "Yes, oh yes; his house is here just by." Boy (looking sly): "Weel, it’s no’ for him." Of this same Scottish boy cleverness, the Rev. Mr M’Lure of Marykirk kindly supplies a capital specimen, in an instance which occurred at what is called the market, at Fettercairn, where there is always a hiring of servants. A boy was asked by a farmer if he wished to be engaged. "Ou ay," said the youth. "Wha was your last maister?" was the next question. "Oh, yonder him," said the boy; and then agreeing to wait where he was standing with some other servants till the inquirer should return from examination of the boy’s late employer. The farmer returned and accosted the boy, "Weel, lathie, I’ve been speerin’ about ye, an’ I’m tae tak’ ye." "Ou ay," was the prompt reply, "an’ I’ve been speerin’ about ye tae, an’ I’m nae gaen."

We could not have had a better specimen of the cool self-sufficiency of these young domestics of the Scottish type than the following :—I heard of a boy making a very cool and determined exit from the house into which he had very lately been introduced. He had been told that he should be dismissed if he broke any of the china that was under his charge. On the morning of a great dinner-party he was entrusted (rather rashly) with a great load of plates, which he was to carry upstairs from the kitchen to the dining-room, and which were piled up, and rested upon his two hands. In going upstairs his foot slipped, and the plates were broken to atoms. He at once went up to the drawing-room, put his head in at the door, and shouted: "The plates are a’ smashed, and I’m awa’."

A facetious and acute friend, who rather leans to the Sydney Smith view of Scottish wit, declares that all our humorous stories are about lairds, and lairds that are drunk. Of such stories there are certainly not a few. The following is one or the best belonging to my part of the country, and to many persons I should perhaps apologise for introducing it at all. The story has been told of various parties and localities, but no doubt the genuine laird was a laird of Balnamoon (pronounced in the country Bonnymoon), and that the locality was a wild tract of land, not far from his place, called Munrimmon Moor. Balnamoon had been dining out in the neighbourhood, where, by mistake they had put down to him after dinner, cherry brandy, instead of port wine, his usual beverage. The rich flavour and strength so pleased him that, having tasted it, he would have nothing else. On rising from table, therefore, the laird would be more affected by his drink than if he had taken his ordinary allowance of port. His servant Harry or Hairy was to drive him home in a gig, or whisky as it was called, the usual open carriage of the time. On crossing the moor, however, whether from greater exposure to the blast or from the laird’s unsteadiness of head, his hat and wig came off and fell upon the ground. Harry got out to pick them up and restore them to his master. The laird was satisfied with the hat, but demurred at the wig. "It’s no’ my wig, Hairy, lad; it’s no’ my wig," and refused to have anything to do with it. Hairy lost his patience, and, anxious to get home, remonstrated with his master, "Ye’d better tak’ it, sir, for there’s nae weale [Choice] o’ wigs on Munrimmon Moor." The humour of the argument is exquisite, putting to the laird in his unreasonable objection the sly insinuation that in such a locality, if he did not take this wig, he was not likely to find another. Then, what a rich expression, "waile o’ wigs." In English what is it? "A choice of perukes"; which is nothing comparable to the "waile, o’ wigs." I ought to mention also an amusing sequel to the story, viz., in what happened after the affair of the wig had been settled, and the laird had consented to return home. When the whisky drove up to the door, Hairy, sitting in front, told the servant who came "to tak’ out the laird." No laird was to be seen; and it appeared that he had fallen out on the moor without Hairy observing it. Of course, they went back, and, picking him up, brought him safe home. A neighbouring laird having called a few days after, and having referred to the accident, Balnamoon quietly added, "Indeed, I mann hae a lume [A vessel] that’ll haud in."

The laird of Balnamoon was a truly eccentric character. He joined with his drinking propensities a great zeal for the Episcopal church, the service of which he read to his own family with much solemnity and earnestness of manner. Two gentlemen, one of them a stranger to the country, having called pretty early one Sunday morning, Balnamoon invited them to dinner, and as they accepted the invitation, they remained and joined in the forenoon devotional exercises conducted by Balnamoon himself. The stranger was much impressed with the laird’s performance of the service, and during a walk which they took before dinner, mentioned to his friend how highly he esteemed the religious deportment of their host. The gentleman said nothing, but smiled to himself at the scene which he anticipated was to follow. After dinner, Balnamoon set himself, according to the custom of old hospitable Scottish hosts, to make his guests as drunk as possible. The result was, that the party spent the evening in a riotous debauch, and were carried to bed by the servants at a late hour. Next day, when they had taken leave and left the house, the gentleman who had introduced his friend asked him what he thought of their entertainer—" Why, really," he replied, with evident astonishment, "sic a speat o’ praying, and sic a speat o’ drinking, I never knew in the whole course o’ my life."

Lady Dalhousie, mother, I mean, of the late distinguished Marquis of Dalhousie, used to tell a characteristic anecdote of her day. But here; on mention of the name Christian, Countess of Dalhousie, may I pause a moment to recall the memory of one who was a very remarkable person. She was for many years, to me and mine, a sincere; and true and valuable friend. By an awful dispensation of God’s providence her death happened instantaneously under my roof in 1839. Lady Dalhousie was eminently distinguished for a fund of the most varied knowledge, for a clear and powerful judgment, for acute observation, a kind heart, a brilliant wit. Her story was thus :—A Scottish judge, somewhat in the predicament of the Laird of Balnamoon, had dined at Coalstoun with her father Charles Brown, an advocate, and son of George Brown, who sat in the Supreme Court as a judge with the title of Lord Coalstoun. The party had been convivial, as we know parties of the highest legal characters often were in those days. When breaking up and going to the drawing-room, one of them, not seeing his way very clearly, stepped out of the dining-room window, which was open to the summer air. The ground at Coalstoun sloping off from the house behind, the worthy judge got a great fall, and rolled down the bank. He contrived, however, as tipsy men generally do, to regain his legs, and was able to reach the drawing-room. The first remark he made was an innocent remonstrance with his friend the host, "Od, Charlie Brown,. what gars ye hae sic lang steps, to your front door?"

On Deeside, where many original stories had their origin, I recollect hearing several of an excellent and worthy, but very simple-minded man, the Laird of Craigmyle. On one occasion, when the beautiful and clever Jane, Duchess of Gordon, was scouring through the country, intent upon some of those electioneering schemes which often occupied her fertile imagination and active energies, she came to call at Craigmyle, and having heard that the laird was making bricks on the property, for the purpose of building a new garden wall, with her usual tact she opened the subject, and kindly asked, "Well, Mr Gordon, and how do your bricks come on?" Good Craigmyle’s thoughts were much occupied with a new leather portion of his dress which had been lately constructed, so, looking down on his nether garments, he said in pure Aberdeen dialect, "Muckle obleeged to yer Grace, the breeks war sum ticht at first, but they are deeing weel eneuch noo."

The last Laird of Macnab, before the clan finally broke up and emigrated to Canada, was a well-known character in the country, and being poor, used to ride about on a most wretched horse, which gave occasion to many jibes at his expense. The laird was in the constant habit of riding up from the country to attend the Musselburgh races. A young wit, by way of playing him off on the racecourse, asked him, in a contemptuous tone, "Is that the same horse you had last year, laird?" "Na," said the laird, brandishing his whip in the interrogator’s face in so emphatic a manner as to preclude further questioning, "na; but it’s the same whup." In those days, as might be expected, people were not nice in expressions of their dislike of persons and measures. If there be not more charity in society than of old, there is certainly more courtesy. I have, from a friend, an anecdote illustrative of this remark, in regard to feelings exercised towards an unpopular laird. In the neighbourhood of Banff, in Forfarshire, the seat of a very ancient branch of the Ramsays, lived a proprietor who bore the appellation of Corb, from the name of his estate. This family has passed away, and its property merged in Banff. The laird was intensely disliked in the neighbourhood. Sir George Ramsay was, on the other hand, universally popular and respected. On one occasion, Sir George, in passing a morass in his own neighbourhood, had missed the road and fallen into a bog to an alarming depth. To his great relief, he saw a passenger coming along the path, which was at no great distance. He called loudly for his help, but the man took no notice. Poor Sir George felt himself sinking, and redoubled his cries for assistance; all at once the passenger rushed forward, carefully extricated him from his perilous position, and politely apologised for his first neglect of his appeal, adding, as his reason, "Indeed, Sir George, I thought it was Corb!" evidently meaning that had it been Corb, he must have taken his chance for him.

In Lanarkshire there lived a sma’ sma’ laird named Hamilton, who was noted for his eccentricity. On one occasion, a neighbour waited on him, and requested his name as an accommodation to a "bit bill" for twenty pounds at three months’ date, which led to the following characteristic and truly Scottish colloquy :—" Na, na, I canna do that." "What for no, laird? ye hae dune the same thing for ithers." "Ay, ay, Tammas, but there’s wheels within wheels ye ken naething about; I canna do’t." "It’s a sma’ affair to refuse me, laird." "Wed, ye see, Tanimas, if I was to pit my name till’t, ye wad get the siller frae the bank, and when the time came round, ye wadna be ready, and I wad hae to pay’t; sae then you and me wad quarrel; sae we may just as weel quarrel the noo, as lang’s the siller’s in ma pouch." On one occasion, Hamilton having business with the late Duke of Hamilton at Hamilton Palace, the Duke politely asked him to lunch. A liveried servant waited upon them, and was most assiduous in his attentions to the Duke and his guest. At last our eccentric friend lost patience, and looking at the servant, addressed him thus, "What the deil for are ye dance, dancing, about the room that gait? can ye no’ draw in your chair and sit down? I’m sure there’s plenty on the table for three."

As a specimen of the old-fashioned laird, now become a Reminiscence, who adhered pertinaciously to old Scottish usages, and to the old Scottish dialect, I cannot, I am sure, adduce a better specimen than Mr Fergusson of Pitfour, to whose servant I have already referred. He was always called Pitfour, from the name of his property in Aberdeenshire. He must have died fifty years ago. He was for many years M.P. for the county of Aberdeen, and I have reason to believe that he made the enlightened parliamentary declaration which has been given to others: He said "he had often heard speeches in the House, which had changed his opinion, but none that had ever changed his vote." I recollect hearing of his dining in London sixty years ago, at the house of a Scottish friend, where there was a swell party, and Pitfour was introduced as a great northern proprietor, and county M.P. A fashionable lady patronised him graciously, and took great charge of him, and asked him about his estates. Pitfour was very dry and sparing in his communications, as for example, "What does your home farm chiefly produce, Mr Fergusson?" Answer, "Girss.’ "I beg your pardon, Mr Fergusson, what does your home farm produce?" All she could extract was, "Girss."

Of another laird, whom I heard often spoken of in old times, an anecdote was told strongly Scottish. Our friend had much difficulty (as many worthy lairds have had) in meeting the claims of those two woeful periods of the year called with us in Scotland the "tarmes." He had been employing for some time as workman a stranger from the south on some house repairs, of the not uncommon name in England of Christmas. His servant early one morning called out at the laird’s door in great excitement that "Christmas had run away, and nobody knew where he had gone." He coolly turned in his bed with the ejaculation, "I only wish he had taken Whitsunday and Martinmas along with him." I do not know a better illustration of quiet, shrewd, and acute Scottish humour than the following little story, which an esteemed correspondent mentions having heard from his father when a boy, relating to a former Duke of Athole, who had no family of his own, and whom he mentions as having remembered very well:— He met one morning, one of his cottars or gardeners, whose wife he knew to be in the hopeful way. Asking him "how Marget was the day," the man replied that she had that morning given him twins. Upon which the Duke said: "Weel, Donald; ye ken the Almighty never sends bairns without the meat." "That may be; your Grace," said Donald; "but whiles I think that Providence maks a mistak in thae matters, and sends the bairns to ae hoose and the meat to anither!" The Duke took the hint, and sent him a cow with calf in the following morning.

I have heard of an amusing scene between a laird, noted for his meanness, and a wandering sort of Edie Ochiltree, a well-known itinerant who lived by his wits and what he could pick up in his rounds amongst the houses through the country. The laird, having seen the beggar sit down near his gate to examine the contents of his pock or wallet, conjectured that he had come from his house, and so drew near to see what he had carried off. As the laird was keenly investigating the mendicant’s spoils, his quick eye detected some bones on which there remained more meat than should have been allowed to leave his kitchen. Accordingly he pounced upon the bones, declaring he had been robbed, and insisted on the beggar returning to the house and giving back the spoil. He was, however, prepared for the attack, and sturdily defended his property, boldly asserting, "Na, na, laird, thae are no Tod-brae banes; they are Inchbyre banes, and nane o’ your honour’s"—meaning that he had received these bones at the house of a neighbour of a more liberal character. The beggar’s professional discrimination between the merits of the bones of the two mansions, and his pertinacious defence of his own property, would have been most amusing to a bystander.

I have, however, a reverse story, in which the beggar is quietly silenced by the proprietor. A noble lord, some generations back, well known for his frugal habits, had just picked up a small copper coin in his own avenue, and had been observed by one of the itinerating mendicant race, who, grudging the transfer of the piece into the peer’s pocket, exclaimed, "O, gie’t to me, my lord"; to which the quiet answer was, "Na, na; fin’ a fardin’ for yersell, puir body."

There are always pointed anecdotes against houses wanting in a liberal and hospitable expenditure in Scotland. Thus, we have heard of a master leaving such a mansion, and taxing his servant with being drunk, which he had too often been after other country visits. On this occasion, however, he was innocent of the charge, for he had not the opportunity to transgress. So, when his master asserted, "Jemmy, you are drunk!" Jemmy very quietly answered, "Indeed, sir, I wish I war." At another mansion, notorious for scanty fare, a gentleman was inquiring of the gardener about a dog which some time ago he had given to the laird. The gardener showed him a lank greyhound, on which the gentleman said, "No, no; the dog I gave your master was a mastiff, not a greyhound"; to which the gardener quietly answered, "Indeed, ony dog micht sune become a greyhound by stopping here."

From a friend and relative, a minister of the Established Church of Scotland, I used to hear many characteristic stories. He had a curious vein of this sort of humour in himself, besides what he brought out from others. One of his peculiarities was a mortal antipathy to the whole French nation, whom he frequently abused in no measured terms. At the same time he had great relish of a glass of claret, which he considered the prince of all social beverages. So he usually finished off his anti-gallican tirades with the reservation, "But the bodies brew the braw drink." He lived amongst his own people, and knew well the habits and peculiarities of a race gone by. He had many stories connected with the pastoral relation between minister and people, and all such stories are curious, not merely for their amusement, but from the illustration they afford us of that peculiar Scottish humour which we are now describing. He had himself, when a very young boy, before he came up to the Edinburgh High School, been at the parochial school where he resided, and which, like many others, at that period, had a considerable reputation for the skill and scholarship of the master. He used to describe school scenes rather different, I suspect, from school scenes in our day. One boy, on coming late, explained that the cause had been a regular pitched battle between his parents, with the details of which he amused his school-fellows; and he described the battle in vivid and Scottish Homeric terms: "And eh, as they faucht, and they faucht," adding, however, with much complacency, "but my minnie dang, she did tho’."

There was a style of conversation and quaint modes of expression between ministers and their people at that time, which, I suppose, would seem strange to the present generation; as for example, I recollect a conversation between this relative and one of his parishioners of this description—It had been a very wet and unpromising autumn. The minister met a certain Janet of his flock, and accosted her very kindly. He remarked, "Bad prospect for the har’st (harvest), Janet, this wet." Janet: "Indeed, sir, I’ve seen as muckle as that there’ll be nae har’st the year." Minister: "Na, Janet, deil as muckle as that ‘t ever you saw."

As I have said, he was a clergyman of the Established Church, and had many stories about ministers and people, arising out of his own pastoral experience, or the experience of friends and neighbours. He was much delighted with the not very refined rebuke which one of his own farmers had given to a young minister who had for some Sundays occupied his pulpit. The young man had dined with the farmer in the afternoon when services were over, and his appetite was so sharp, that he thought it necessary to apologise to his host for eating so substantial a dinner. "You see," he said, "I am always very hungry after preaching." The old gentleman, not much admiring the youth’s pulpit ministrations, having heard this apology two or three times, at last replied sarcastically, "Indeed, sir, I’m no’ surprised at it, considering the trash that comes aff your stamach in the morning."

What I wish to keep in view is, to distinguish anecdotes which are amusing on account merely of the expressions used, from those which have real wit and humour combined, with the purely Scottish vehicle in which they are conveyed.

Of this class I could not have a better specimen to commence with than the defence of the liturgy of his church, by John Skinner of Langside, of whom previous mention has been made. It is witty and clever.

Being present at a party (I think at Lord Forbes’s), where were also several ministers of the Establishment, the conversation over their wine turned, among other things, on the Prayer Book. Skinner took no part in it, till one minister remarked to him, "The great fau’t I hae’ to your prayer book is that ye use the Lord’s Prayer sae aften—ye juist mak’ a dishclout o’t." Skinner’s rejoinder was, "Verra true! Ay, man, we mak’ a dishclout o’t, an’ we wring’t, an’ we wring’t, an’ we wring’t, an’ the bree [Juice] o’t washes a’ the lave o’ our prayers."

No one, I think, could deny the wit of the two following rejoinders.

A ruling elder of a country parish in the west of Scotland was well known in the district as a shrewd and ready-witted man. He received many a visit from persons who liked a banter, or to hear a good joke. Three young students gave him a call in order to have a little amusement at the elder’s expense. On approaching him, one of them saluted him, "Well, Father Abraham, how are you to-day?" "You are wrong," said the other, "this is old Father Isaac." "Tuts," said the third, "you are both mistaken; this is old Father Jacob." David looked at the young men, and in his own way replied, "I am neither old Father Abraham, nor old Father Isaac, nor old Father Jacob; but I am Saul the son of Kish, seeking his father’s asses, and lo! I’ve found three o’ them."

For many years the Baptist community of Dunfermline was presided over by brothers David Dewar and James Inglis, the latter of whom has just recently gone to his reward. Brother David was a plain, honest, straightforward man, who never hesitated to express his convictions, however unpalatable they might be to others. Being elected a member of the Prison Board, he was called upon to give his vote in the choice of a chaplain from the licentiates of the Established Kirk. The party who had gained the confidence of the Board had proved rather an indifferent preacher in a charge to which he had previously been appointed; and on David being asked to signify his assent to the choice of the Board, he said," Weel, I’ve no objections to the man, for I understand he has preached a kirk toom (empty) already, and if he be as successful in the jail, he’ll maybe preach it vawcant as weel."

From Mr Inglis, clerk of the Court of Session, I have the following Scottish rejoinder:— "I recollect my father relating a conversation between a Perthshire laird and one of his tenants. The laird’s eldest son was rather a simpleton. Laird says, ‘I am going to send the young laird abroad.’ ‘What for?’ asks the tenant; answered, ‘To see the world’; tenant replies, But, lord-sake, laird, will no’ the world see him?’"

An admirably humorous reply is recorded of a Scotch officer, well known and esteemed in his day for mirth and humour. Captain Innes of the Guards (usually called Jock Innes by his contemporaries) was with others getting ready for Flushing or some of those expeditions of the beginning of the great war. His commanding officer (Lord Huntly, my correspondent thinks) remonstrated about the badness of his hat, and recommended a new one. "Na, na! bide a wee," said Jock; "where we’re gain’ faith there’ll soon be mair hats nor beads."

I recollect being much amused with a Scottish reference of this kind in the heart of London. Many years ago a Scotch party had dined at Simpson’s famous beef-steak house in the Strand. On coming away some of the party could not find their hats, and my uncle was jocularly asking the waiter, whom he knew to be a Deeside man," Whar are our bonnets, Jeems?" To which he replied, "Deed, I mind the day when I had neither hat nor bonnet."

There is an odd and original way of putting a matter sometimes in Scotch people, which is irresistibly comic, although by the persons nothing comic is intended; as for example, when in 1786 Edinburgh was illuminated on account of the recovery of George III. from severe illness. In a house where great preparation was going on for the occasion, by getting the candles fixed in tin sconces, an old nurse of the family, looking on, exclaimed, "Ay, it’s a braw time for the cannel-makers when the king is sick, honest man!"

Scottish farmers of the old school were a shrewd and humorous race, sometimes not indisposed to look with a little jealousy upon their younger brethren, who, on their part, perhaps, showed their contempt for the old-fashioned ways. I take the following example from the columns of the Peterhead Sentinel, just as it appeared—June 14, 1861:—

"AN ANECDOTE FOR DEAN RAMSAY.—The following characteristic and amusing anecdote was communicated to us the other day by a gentleman who happened to be a party to the conversation detailed below. This gentleman was passing along a road not a hundred miles from Peterhead one day this week. Two different farms skirt the separate sides of the turnpike, one of which is rented by a farmer who cultivates his land according to the most advanced system of agriculture, and the other of which is farmed by a gentleman of the old school. Our informant met the latter worthy at the side of the turnpike opposite his neighbour’s farm, and seeing a fine crop of wheat upon what appeared to be (and really was) very thin and poor land, asked, ‘When was that wheat sown?’ ‘O I dinna ken,’ replied the gentleman of the old school, with a sort of half-indifference, half-contempt. ‘But isn’t it strange that such a fine crop should be reared on such bad land?’ asked our informant. ‘O, na-—nae at a’—deevil thank it; a gravesteen wad gie guid bree [Broth] gin ye gied it plenty o’ butter!’"

But perhaps the best anecdote illustrative of the keen shrewdness of the Scottish farmer is related by Mr Boyd in one of his charming series of papers, reprinted from Fraser’s Magazine. "A friend of mine, a country parson, on first going to his parish, resolved to farm his glebe for himself. A neighbouring farmer kindly offered the parson to plough one of his fields. The farmer said that he would send his man John with a plough and a pair of horses on a certain day ‘If ye’re goin’ about,’ said the farmer to the clergyman, ‘John will be unco weel p!eased if you speak to him, and say it’s a fine day, or the like o’ that; but dinna,’ said the farmer, with much so!emnity, ‘dinna say onything to him about ploughin’ and sawin’; for John,’ he added, ‘is a stupid body, but he has been ploughin’ and sawin’ a’ his life, and he’ll see in a minute that ye ken naething aboot p!oughin’ and sawin’. And then,’ said the sagacious old farmer, with much earnestness, ‘if he comes to think that ye ken naething aboot p!oughin’ and sawin’, he’ll think that ye ken naething about onything!"

The following is rather an original commentary, by a layman, upon clerical incomes:—A relative of mine going to church with a Forfarshire farmer, one of the old school, asked him the amount of the minister’s stipend. He said, "Od, it’s a gude ane—the maist part of £300 a year." "Well," said my relative," many of these Scotch ministers are but poorly off." "They’ve eneuch, sir, they’ve eneuch; if they’d mair, it wou!d want a’ their time to the spendin’ o’t."

Scotch gamekeepers had often much dry quiet humour. I was much amused by the answer of one of those under the following circumstances:—An Ayrshire gentleman, who was from the first a very bad shot, or rather no shot at all, when out on 1st of September, having failed, time after time, in bringing down a single bird, had at last pointed out to him by his attendant bag-carrier a large covey, thick and c!ose on the stubbles. "Noo, Mr Jeems, let drive at them, just as they are!" Mr Jeems did let drive, as advised, but not a feather remained to testify the shot. All flew off, safe and sound. "Hech, sir" remarks his friend, "but ye’ve made thae yins shift their quarters."

The two following anecdotes of rejoinders from Scottish guidwives, and for which I am indebted, as for many other kind communications, to the Rev. Mr Blair of Dunblane, appear to me as good examples of the peculiar Scottish pithy phraseology which we refer to, as any that I have met with.

An old lady from whom the "Great Unknown" had derived many an ancient tale, was waited upon one day by the author of "Waverley." On his endeavouring to give the authorship the go-by, the old dame protested, "D’ye think, sir, I dinna ken my ain groats in ither folk's kail? " [I believe the lady was Mrs Murray Keith of Ravelston, with whom Sir Walter had in early life much intercourse.]

A conceited packman called at a farmhouse in the west of Scotland, in order to dispose of some of his wares. The goodwife was offended by his southern accent, and his high talk about York, London, and other big places. "An’ whaur come ye frae yersell?" was the question of the guidwife. "Ou, I am from the Border." "The Border—oh! I thocht that; for we aye think the selvidge is the wakest bit o’ the wab!"

The following is a good specimen of ready Scotch humorous reply, by a master to his discontented workman, and in which he turned the tables upon him, in his reference to Scripture. In a town of one of the central counties a Mr J—— carried on, about a century ago, a very extensive business in the linen manufacture. Although strikes were then unknown among the labouring classes, the spirit from which these take their rise has no doubt at all times existed. Among Mr J——’s many workmen, one had given him constant annoyance for years, from his discontented and argumentative spirit. Insisting one day on getting something or other which his master thought most unreasonable, and refused to give in to, he at last submitted, with a bad grace, saying, "You’re nae better than Pharaoh, sir, forcin’ puir folk to mak’ bricks without straw." "Well, Saunders," quietly rejoined his master, "if I’m nae better than Pharaoh in one respect, I’ll be better in another, for I’ll no’ hinder ye going to the wilderness whenever you choose."

Persons who are curious in Scottish stories of wit and humour speak much of the sayings of a certain "Laird of Logan," who was a well-known character in the West of Scotland. This same Laird of Logan was at a meeting of the heritors of Cumnock, where a proposal was made to erect a new churchyard wall. He met the proposition with the dry remark, "I never dig dykes till the tenants complain." Calling one day for a gill of whisky in a public-house, the laird was asked if he would take any water with the spirit. "Na, na," replied he, "I would rather ye would tak’ the water out o’t."

The laird sold a horse to an Englishman, saying, "You buy him as you see him; but he’s an honest beast." The purchaser took him home. In a few days he stumbled and fell, to the damage of his own knees and his rider’s head. On this the angry purchaser remonstrated with the laird, whose reply was, "Well, sir, I told ye he was an honest beast; many a time has he threatened to come down with me, and I kenned he would keep his word some day." At the time of the threatened invasion, the laird had been taunted at a meeting at Ayr with want of loyal spirit at Cumnock, as at that place no volunteer corps had been raised to meet the coming danger; Cumnock, it should be recollected, being on a high situation, and ten or twelve miles from the coast. "What sort of people are you up at Cumnock?" said an Ayr gentleman; "you have not a single volunteer!" "Never you heed," says Logan, very quietly; "if the French land at Ayr, there will soon be plenty of volunteers up at Cumnock."

A pendant to the story of candid admission on the part of the minister, that the people might be weary after his sermon, has been given on the authority of the narrator, a Fife gentleman, ninety years of age when he told it. He had been to church at Elie, and listening to a young and perhaps bombastic preacher, who happened to be officiating for the Rev. Dr Milligan, who was in church. After service, meeting the Doctor in the passage, he introduced the young clergyman who, on being asked by the old man how he did, elevated his shirt collar, and complained of fatigue, and being very much "tired." "Tired, did ye say, my man?" said the old satirist, who was slightly deaf; "Lord, man I if you’re half as tired as lam, I pity ye!"

I have been much pleased with an offering from Carluke, containing two very pithy anecdotes. Mr Rankin very kindly writes:—"Your Reminiscences’ are most refreshing. I am very little of a story collector, but I have recorded some of an old schoolmaster, who was a story-teller. As a sort of payment for the amusement I have derived from your book; I shall give one or two."

He sends the two following:-

"Shortly after Mr Kay had been inducted schoolmaster of Carluke (1790), the bederal called at the school, verbally announcing, proclamation-ways, that Mrs So-and-So’s funeral would be on Fuirsday. ‘At what hour?‘ asked the dominie.’ Ou, ony time atween ten and twa.’ At two o’clock of the day fixed, Mr Kay—quite a stranger to the customs of the district— arrived at the place, and was astonished to find a crowd of men and lads, standing here and there, some smoking, and all arglebargling, [Disputing or bandying words backwards and forwards.] as if at the end of a fair. He was instantly, but mysteriously, approached, and touched on the arm by a red-faced bareheaded man, who seemed to be in authority, and was beckoned to follow. On entering the barn, which was seated all round, he found numbers sitting, each with the head bent down, and each with his hat between his knees— all gravity and silence. Anon a voice was heard issuing from the far end, and a long prayer was uttered. They had worked at this—what was called ‘a service‘— during three previous hours, one party succeeding another, and many taking advantage of every service, which consisted of a prayer by way of grace, a glass of white wine, a glass of red wine, a glass of rum, and a prayer by way of thanksgiving. After the long invocation, bread and wine passed round. Silence prevailed. Most partook of both rounds of wine, but when the rum came, many nodded refusal, and by and by the nodding seemed to be universal, and the trays passed on so much the more quickly. A sumphish weather-beaten man, with a large flat blue bonnet on his knee, who had nodded unwittingly, and was about to lose the last chance of a glass of rum, raised his head, saying, amid the deep silence, ‘Od, I daursay I wull tak’ anither glass,’ and in a sort of vengeful, yet apologetic tone, added, ‘The auld jaud yince cheated me wi’ a cauve’ (calf)."

At a farmer’s funeral in the country, an undertaker was in charge of the ceremonial, and directing how it was to proceed, when he noticed a little man giving orders, and, as he thought, rather encroaching upon the duties and privileges of his own office. He asked him, "And wha are ye, mi man, that tak’ sae muckle on ye?" "Oh, dinna ye ken?" said the man, under a strong sense of his own importance, "I’m the corp’s brither." [In Scotland the remains of the deceased person is called the "corp".]

Curious scenes took place at funerals where there was, in times gone by, an unfortunate tendency to join with such solemnities more attention to festal entertainment than was becoming. A farmer, at the interment of his second wife, exercised a liberal hospitality to his friends at the inn near the church. On looking over the bill, the master defended the charge as moderate. But he reminded him, "Ye forget, man, that it’s no’ ilka ane that brings a second funeral to your house."

"Dr Scott, minister of Carluke (1770), was a fine graceful kindly man, always stepping about in his bag-wig and cane in hand, with a kind and ready word to every one. He was officiating at a bridal in his parish, where there was a goodly company, had partaken of the good cheer, and waited till the young people were fairly warmed in the dance. A dissenting body had sprung up in the parish, which he tried to think was beneath him even to notice, when he could help it, yet never seemed to feel at all keenly when the dissenters were alluded to. One of the chief leaders of this body was at the bridal, and felt it to be his bounden duty to call upon the minister for his reasons for sanctioning by his presence so sinful an enjoyment. ‘Weel, minister, what think ye o’ this dancin’?’ ‘Why, John,’ said the minister, blithely, ‘I think it an excellent exercise for young people, and, I dare say, so do you.’ ‘Ah, sir, I’m no sure about it; I see nae authority for’t in the Scriptures.’ ‘Umph, indeed, John; you cannot forget David.’ ‘Ah, sir, Dauvid; gif they were a’ to dance as Dauvid did, it would be a different thing a’thegither.’ ‘Hoot-o-fie, hoot-o-fie, John; would you have the young folk’ strip to the sark?’"

Reference has been made to the eccentric Laird of Balnamoon, his wig, and his "speats o’ drinking and praying." A story of this laird is recorded, which I do think is well named, by a correspondent who communicates it, as a "quintessential phasis of dry Scotch humour," and the explanation of which would perhaps be thrown away upon any one who needed the explanation. The story is this:—The laird riding past a high steep bank, stopped opposite a hole in it, and said, "Hairy, I saw a brock gang in there." "Did ye?" said Hairy; "wull ye haud my horse, sir?" "Certainly," said the laird, and away rushed Hairy for a spade. After digging for half-an-hour, he came back, quite done, to the laird, who had regarded him musingly. "I canna find him, sir," said Hairy. "‘Deed," said the laird, very coolly, "I wad ha wondered if ye had, for it’s ten years sin’ I saw him gang in there."

Amongst many humorous colloquies between Balnamoon and his servant, the following must have been very racy and very original. The laird, accompanied by Hairy, after a dinner-party, was riding on his way home, through a ford, when he fell off into the water. "Whae’s that fau’n?" he inquired. "‘Deed," quoth Hairy, "I witna an it be na your honour."

There is a peculiarity connected with what we have considered Scotch humour. It is more common for Scotsmen to associate their own feelings with national events and national history than for Englishmen. Take as illustrations the following, as being perhaps as good as any:—The Rev. Robert Scott, a Scotsman who forgets not Scotland in his southern vicarage, and whom I have named before as having sent me some good reminiscences, tells me that, at Inveraray, some thirty years ago, he could not help overhearing the conversation of some Lowland cattle-dealers in the public room in which he was. The subject of the bravery of our navy being started, one of the interlocutors expressed his surprise that Nelson should have issued his signal at Trafalgar in the terms, "England expects," etc. He was met with the answer (which seemed highly satisfactory to the rest), "Ah, Nelson only said ‘expects’ of the English; he said naething of Scotland, for he kent the Scotch would do theirs."

I am assured the following manifestation of national feeling against the memory of a Scottish character actually took place within a few years:—Williamson (the Duke of Buccleuch’s huntsman) was one afternoon riding home from hunting through Haddington; and as he passed the old Abbey, he saw an ancient woman looking through the iron grating in front of the burial-place of the Lauderdale family, holding by the. bars, and grinning and dancing with rage. "Eh, gudewife," said Williamson, "what ails ye?" "It’s the Duke of Lauderdale," cried she. "Eh, if I could win at him, I wud rax the banes o’ him."

To this class belongs the following complacent Scottish remark upon Bannockburn. A splenetic Englishman said to a Scottish countryman, something of a wag, that no man of taste would think of remaining any time in such a country as Scotland. To which the canny Scot replied," Tastes differ; I’se tak ye to a place no’ far frae Stirling, whaur thretty thousand o’ your countrymen ha’ been for five hunder years, and they’ve nae thocht o’ leavin’ yet."

In a similar spirit, an honest Scotch farmer, who had sent some sheep to compete at a great English agricultural cattle-show, and was much disgusted at not getting a prize, consoled himself for the disappointment, by insinuating that the judges could hardly act quite impartially by a Scottish competitor, complacently remarking, "It’s aye been the same since Bannockburn."

Then, again, take the story told in Lockhart’s Life of Sir Walter Scott, of the blacksmith whom Sir Walter had formerly known as a horse-doctor, and whom he found at a small country town south of the Border, practising medicine with a reckless use of "laudamy and calomy," apologising at the same time for the mischief he might do, by the assurance that it "would be lang before it made up for Flodden." How graphically it describes the interest felt by Scotch-men of his rank in the incidents of their national history. A similar example has been recorded in connection with Bannockburn. Two Englishmen visited the field of that great battle, and a country blacksmith pointed out the positions of the two armies, the stone on which was fixed the Bruce’s standard, etc. The gentlemen, pleased with the intelligence of their guide, on leaving pressed his acceptance of a crown-piece. "Na, na," replied the Scotsman, with much pride, "it has cost ye eneuch already." Such an example of self-denial on the part of a Scottish cicerone is, we fear, now rather a "reminiscence."

A north country drover had, however, a more tangible opportunity of gratifying his national animosity against the Southron, and of which he availed himself. Returning homewards, after a somewhat unsuccessful journey, and not in very good humour with the Englishers, when passing through Carlisle he saw a notice stuck up, offering a reward of £50 for any one who would do a piece of service to the community, by officiating as executioner of the law on a noted criminal then under sentence of death. Seeing a chance to make up for his bad market, and comforted with the assurance that he was unknown there, he undertook the office, executed the condemned, and got the fee. When moving off with the money, he was twitted at as a "mean beggarly Scot," doing for money what no Englishman would. With a grin and quiet glee, he only replied, "I’ll hang ye a’ at the price."

Some Scotsmen, no doubt, have a very complacent feeling regarding the superiority of their countrymen, and make no hesitation in proclaiming their opinion, I have always admired the quaint expression of such belief in a case which has recently been reported to me. A young Englishman had taken a Scottish shooting-ground, and enjoyed his mountain sport so much as to imbibe a strong partiality for his northern residence and all its accompaniments. At a German watering-place he encountered, next year, an original character, a Scotsman of the old school, very national, and somewhat bigoted in his nationality: he determined to pass himself off to him as a genuine Scottish native; and, accordingly, he talked of Scotland and haggis, and sheep’s head, and whisky; he boasted of Bannockburn, and admired Queen Mary; looked upon Scott and Burns as superior to all English writeys; and staggered, although he did not convince; the old gentleman. On going away he took leave of his Scottish friend, and said, "Well, sir, next time we meet, I hope you will receive me as a real countryman." "Weel," he said, "I’m jest thinkin’, my lad, ye’re nae Scotsman; but I’ll tell ye what ye are—ye’re juist an impruived Englishman."

I am afraid we must allow that Scottish people have a leetle national vanity, and may be too ready sometimes to press the claim of their country to an extravagantly assumed pre-eminence in the annals of genius and celebrities. An extreme case of such pretension I heard of lately, which is amusing. A Scotsman, in reference to the distinction awarded to Sir Walter Scott, on occasion of his centenary, had roundly asserted, "But all who have been eminent men were Scotsmen." An Englishman, offended at such assumption of national pre-eminence, asked indignantly, "What do you say to Shakspeare?" To which the other quietly replied, "Weel, his tawlent wad justifee the inference." This is rich, as an example of an à priori argument in favour of a man being a Scotsman.

We find in the conversation of old, people frequent mention of a class of beings well-known in country parishes, now either become commonplace, like the rest of the world, or removed altogether, and shut up in poorhouses or madhouses—I mean the individuals frequently called parochial idiots; but who were rather of the order of naturals. They were eccentric, or somewhat crazy, useless, idle creatures, who used to wander about from house to house, and sometimes made very shrewd sarcastic remarks upon what was going on in the parish. I heard such a person once described as one who was "wanting in twopence of change for a shilling." They used to take great liberty of speech regarding the conduct and disposition of those with whom they came in contact, and many odd sayings which emanated from them were traditionary in country localities. I have a kindly feeling towards these imperfectly intelligent, but often perfectly cunning beings; partly, I believe, from recollections of early associations in boyish days with some of those Davy Gellatleys. I have therefore preserved several anecdotes with which I have been favoured, where their odd sayings and indications of a degree of mental activity have been recorded. These persons seem to have had a partiality for getting near the pulpit in church, and their presence there was accordingly sometimes annoying to the preacher and the congregation; as at Maybole, when Dr Paul, now of St Cuthbert’s, was minister in 1823, John M’Lymont, an individual of this class, had been in the habit of standing so close to the pulpit door as to overlook the Bible and pulpit board. When required, however, by the clergyman to keep at a greater distance, and not look in upon the minister, he got intensely angry and violent. He threatened the minister: "Sir, baeby (maybe) I’ll come farther"; meaning to intimate that perhaps he would, if much provoked, come into the pulpit altogether. This, indeed, actually took place on another occasion, and the tenure of the ministerial position was justified by an argument of a most amusing nature. The circumstance, I am assured, happened in a parish in the north. The clergyman, on coming into church, found the pulpit occupied by the parish natural. The authorities had been unable to remove him without more violence than was seemly, and therefore waited for the minister to dispossess Tam of the place he had assumed. "Come down, sir, immediately!" was the peremptory and indignant call; and on Tam being unmoved, it was repeated with still greater energy. Tam, however, replied, looking down confidentially from his elevation, "Na, na, minister! juist ye come up wi’ me. This is a perverse generation, and faith they need us baith." It is curious to mark the sort of glimmering of sense, and even of discriminating thought, displayed by persons of this class. As an example, take a conversation held by this same John M’Lymont, with Dr Paul, whom he met some time after. He seemed to have recovered his good humour; as he stopped him and said, "Sir, I would like to speer a question at ye on a subject that’s troubling me." "Well, Johnnie, what is the question?" To which he replied, " Sir, is it lawful at ony time to tell a lee?" The minister desired to know what Johnnie himself thought upon the point. "Weel, sir," said he, "I’ll no’ say but in every case it’s wrang to tell a lee; but," added he, looking archly and giving a knowing wink, "I think there are waur lees than ithers." "How, Johnnie?" and then he instantly replied, with all the simplicity of a fool, "To keep down a din, for instance. I’ll no’ say but a man does wrang in telling a lee to keep down a din, but I’m sure he does not do half sae muckle wrang as a man who tells a lee to kick up a deevilment o’ a din." This opened a question not likely to occur to such a mind. Mr Asher, minister of Inveraven, in Morayshire, narrated to Dr Paul a curious example of want of intelligence combined with a power of cunning to redress a fancied wrong, shown by a poor natural of the parish, who had been seized with a violent inflammatory attack, and was in great danger. The medical attendant saw it necessary to bleed him, but he resisted, and would not submit to it. At last the case became so hopeless that they were obliged to use force, and, holding his hands and feet, the doctor opened a vein and drew blood, upon which the poor creature, struggling violently, bawled out, "O doctor, doctor! you’ll kill me! you’ll kill me! and depend upon it the first thing I’ll do when I get to the other world will be to report you to the board of Supervision there, and get you dismissed." A most extraordinary sensation was once produced on a congregation by Rab Hamilton, a well-remembered crazy creature of the west country, on the occasion of his attendance at the parish kirk of "Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a toun surpasses," the minister of which, in the opinion of Rab’s own minister, Mr Peebles, had a tendency to Socinian doctrines. Miss Kirkwood, Bothwell, relates the story from the recollection of her aunt, who was present. Rab had put his head between some iron rails, the first intimation of which to the congregation was a stentorian voice crying out, "Murder! my heed’ll hae to be cuttit aff! Holy minister! congregation! Oh, my heed maun be cuttit aff. It’s a judgment for leaving my godlie Mr Peebles at the Newton." After he had been extricated and quieted, when asked why he put his head there, he said, "It was juist to look on Read from the same book] wi’ anither woman."

The following anecdote of this same Rab Hamilton from a kind correspondent at Ayr sanctions the opinion that he must have occasionally said such clever things as made some think him more rogue than fool. Dr Auld often showed him kindness, but being once addressed by him when in a hurry and out of humour, he said, "Get away, Rab; I have nothing for you to-day." "Whaw, whew," cried Rab, in a half-howl, half-whining tone, "I dinna want onything the day, Maister Auld; I wanted to tell you an awsome dream I hae had. I dreamt I was deed." "Weel, what then?" said Dr Auld. "Ou, I was carried far, far, and up, up, up, till I cam’ to heeven’s yett, where I chappit, and chappit, and chappit, till at last an angel keekit out, and said ‘Wha are ye?’ ‘A’m puir Rab Hamilton.’ ‘Whaur are ye frae?’ ‘Frae the wicked toun o’ Ayr.’ ‘I dinna ken ony sic place,’ said the angel. ‘Oh, but A’m juist frae there.’ Weel, the angel sends for the Apostle Peter, and Peter comes wi’ his key and opens the yett, and says to me, ‘Honest man, do you come frae the auld toun o’ Ayr?’ ‘‘Deed do I,’ says I. ‘Weel,’ says Peter, ‘I ken the place, but naebody’s cam’ frae the toun o’Ayr, no’ since the year" so-and-so-—mentioning the year when Dr Auld was inducted into the parish. Dr Auld could not resist giving him his answer, and telling him to go about his business.

The pathetic complaint of one of this class, residing at a farmhouse, has often been narrated, and forms a good illustration of idiot life and feelings. He was living in the greatest comfort, and every want provided. But, like the rest of mankind, he had his own trials, and his own cause for anxiety and annoyance. In this poor fellow’s case it was the great turkey-cock at the farm, of which he stood so terribly in awe that he was afraid to come within a great distance of his enemy. Some of his friends, coming to visit him, reminded him how comfortable he was, and how grateful he ought to be for the great care taken of him. He admitted the truth of the remark generally, but still, like others, he had his unknown grief which sorely beset his path in life. There was a secret grievance which embittered his lot; and to his friend he thus opened his heart: "Ae, ae, but oh, I’m sair hadden doun wi’ the bubbly jock." [Sorely kept under by the turkey-cock.]

I have received two anecdotes illustrative both of the occasional acuteness of mind, and of the sensitiveness of feeling occasionally indicated by persons thus situated. A well-known idiot, Jamie Fraser, belonging to the parish of Lunan, in Forfarshire, quite surprised people sometimes by his replies. The congregation of his parish church had for some time distressed the minister by their habit of sleeping in church. He had often endeavoured to impress them with a sense of the impropriety of such conduct, and one day Jamie was sitting in the front gallery, wide awake, when many were slumbering round him. The clergyman endeavoured to draw the attention of his hearers to his discourse by stating the fact, saying, "You see, even Jamie Fraser, the idiot, does not fall asleep, as so many of you are doing." Jamie, not liking, perhaps, to be thus designated, coolly replied, "An I hadna been an idiot, I micht ha’ been sleepin’ too." Another of these imbeciles, belonging to Peebles, had been sitting at church for some time listening attentively to a strong representation from the pulpit of the guilt of deceit and falsehood in Christian characters. He was observed to turn red, and grow very uneasy, until at last, as if wincing under the supposed attack upon himself personally, he roared out, "Indeed, minister, there’s mair leears in Peebles than me." As examples of this class of persons possessing much of the dry humour of their more sane countrymen, and of their facility to utter sly and ready-witted sayings, I have received the two following from Mr W. Chambers:—Daft Jock Gray, the supposed original of David Gellatley, was one day assailed by the minister of a south-country parish on the subject of his idleness. "John," said the minister, rather pompously, "you are a very idle fellow; you might surely herd a few cows." "Me hird!" replied Jock; "I dinna ken corn frae gerss."

"There was a carrier named Davie Loch who was reputed to be rather light of wits, but at the same time not without a sense of his worldly interests. His mother, finding her end approaching, addressed her son in the presence of a number of the neighbours. ‘The house will be Davie’s and the furniture too.’ ‘Eh, hear her,’ quote Davie; ‘sensible to the last, sensible to the last.’ ‘The lyin’ siller--- ‘Eh yes; how clear she is about everything!’ ‘The lyin’ siller is to be divided between my twa dauchters.’ ‘Steek the bed doors, steek the bed doors," interposed Davie; ‘she’s ravin’ now’; and the old dying woman was shut up accordingly."

In the Memorials of the Montgomeries, Earls of Eglinton, vol. i., p. 134, occurs an anecdote illustrative of the peculiar acuteness and quaint humour which occasionally mark the sayings of persons considered as imbeciles. There was a certain "Daft Will Speir," who was a privileged haunter of Eglinton Castle and grounds. He was discovered by the Earl one day taking a near cut, and crossing a fence in the demesne. The Earl called out, "Come back, sir, that’s not the road." "Do you ken," said Will, "whaur I’m gain’?" " No," replied his lordship. "Weel, hoo the deil do ye ken whether this be the road or no’?"

This same "Daft Will Speir" was passing the minister’s glebe, where haymaking was in progress. The minister asked Will if he thought the weather would keep up, as it looked rather like rain. "Weel," said Will, "I canna be very sure, but I’ll be passin’ this way the nicht, an’ I’ll ca’ in and tell ye." "Well, Will," said his master one day to him, seeing that he had just finished his dinner, "have you had a good dinner to-day?" (Will had been grumbling some time before.) "Ou, verra gude," answered Will; "but gin onybody asks if I got a dram after’t, what will I say?" This poor creature had a high sense of duty. It appears he had been given the charge of the coal-stores at the Earl of Eglinton’s. Having on one occasion been reprimanded for allowing the supplies to run out before further supplies were ordered, he was ever afterwards most careful to fulfil his duty. In course of time poor Will became "sick into death." and the minister came to see him. Thinking him in really a good frame of mind, the minister asked him, in presence of the laird and others, if there were not one great thought which was ever to him the highest consolation in his hour of trouble. "Ou ay," gasped the sufferer, "Lord be thankit, a’ the bunkers are fu’!"

The following anecdote is told regarding the late Lord Dundrennan:—A half-silly basket-woman passing down his avenue at Compstone one day, he met her, and said, "My good woman, there’s no road this way." "Na, sir," she said," I think ye’re wrang there; I think it’s a most beautifu’ road."

These poor creatures have invariably a great delight in attending funerals. In many country places hardly a funeral ever took place without the attendance of the parochial idiot. It seemed almost a necessary association; and such attendance seemed to constitute the great delight of those creatures. I have myself witnessed again and again the sort of funeral scene portrayed by Sir Walter Scott, who no doubt took his description from what was common in his day: "The funeral pomp set forth—saulies with their batons and gumphions of tarnished white crape. Six starved horses, themselves the very emblems of mortality, well cloaked and plumed, lugging along the hearse with its dismal emblazonry, crept in slow pace towards the place of interment, preceded by Jamie Duff, an idiot, who, with weepers and cravat made of white paper, attended on every funeral, and followed by six mourning coaches filled with the company."—Guy Mannering.

The following anecdote, supplied by Mr Blair, is an amusing illustration both of the funeral propensity, and of the working of a defective brain, in a half-witted carle, who used to range the province of Gallo‘way armed with a huge pike-staff, and who one day met a funeral procession a few miles from Wigtown. A long train of carriages, and farmers riding on horseback, suggested the propriety of his bestriding his staff, and following after the funeral. The procession marched at a brisk pace, and on reaching the kirk-yard stile, as each rider dismounted, "Daft Jock" descended from his wooden steed, besmeared with mire and perspiration, exclaiming, "Hech, sirs, had it no’ been for the fashion o’ the thing, I micht as weel hae been on my ain feet."

The withdrawal of these characters from public view, and the loss of importance which they once enjoyed in Scottish society, seem to me inexplicable. Have they ceased. to exist, or are they removed from our sight to different scenes? The fool was, in early times, a very important personage in most Scottish households of any distinction. Indeed this had been so common as to be a public nuisance.

It seemed that persons assumed the character, for we find a Scottish Act of Parliament, dated 19th January 1449, with this title:—"Act for the way-putting of Fenyent Fules," etc. (Thomson’s Acts of Parliament of Scotland, vol. i.); and it enacts very stringent measures against such persons. They seem to have formed. a link between the helpless idiot and the boisterous madman, sharing the eccentricity of the latter and the stupidity of the former, generally adding, however, a good deal of the sharp-wittedness of the knave. Up to the middle of the eighteenth century this appears to have been still an appendage to some families. I have before me a little publication with the title, "The Life and Death of Jamie Fleeman, the Laird of Udny’s Fool. Tenth edition. Aberdeen, 1810." With portrait. Also twenty-sixth edition, of 1829. I should suppose this account of a family fool was a fair representation of a good specimen of the class. He was evidently of defective intellect, but at times showed the odd humour and quick conclusion which so often mark the disordered brain. I can only now give two examples taken from his history:— Having found a horse-shoe on the road, he met Mr Craigie, the minister of St Fergus, and showed it to him, asking, in pretended ignorance, what it was. "Why, Jamie," said Mr Craigie, good humouredly, "anybody that was not a fool would know that it is a horse-shoe." "Ah!" said Jamie, with affected simplicity, "what it is to be wise—to ken it’s no’ a meer’s shoe!"

On another occasion, when all the countryside were hastening to the Perth races, Jamie had cut across the fields and reached a bridge near the town, and sat down upon the parapet. He commenced munching away at a large portion of a leg of mutton which he had somehow become possessed of, and of which he was amazingly proud. The laird came riding past, and seeing Jamie sitting on the bridge, accosted him:— "Ay, Fleeman, are ye here already?" "Ou ay," quoth Fleeman, with an air of assumed dignity and archness not easy to describe, while his eye glanced significantly towards the mutton, "Ou ay, ye ken a body when he has onything."

Of witty retorts by half-witted creatures of this class, I do not know of one more pointed than what is recorded of such a character who used to hang about the residence of a late Lord Fife. It would appear that some parts of his lordship’s estates were barren, and in a very unproductive condition. Under the improved system of agriculture and of draining, great preparations had been made for securing a good crop in a certain field, where Lord Fife, his factor, and others interested in the subject, were collected together. There was much discussion, and some difference of opinion, as to the crop with which the field had best be sown. The idiot retainer, who had been listening unnoticed to all that was said, at last cried out, "Saw’t wi’ factors, ma lord; they are sure to thrive everywhere."

There was an idiot who lived long in Lauder, and seems to have had a great resemblance to the jester of old times. He was a staunch supporter of the Established Church. One day some one gave him a bad shilling. On Sunday he went to the Seceders’ meeting-house, and when the ladle was taken round he put in his bad shilling and took out elevenpence halfpenny. Afterwards he went in high glee to the late Lord Lauderdale, calling out, "I’ve cheated the Seceders the day, my lord; I’ve cheated the Seceders."

Jemmy had long harboured a dislike to the steward on the property, which he made manifest in the following manner:—Lord Lauderdale and Sir Anthony Maitland used to take him out shooting; and one day Lord Maitland (he was then), on having to cross the Leader, said, "Now, Jemmy, you shall carry me through the water," which Jemmy duly did. The steward, who was shooting with them, expected the same service, and accordingly said, "Now, Jemmy, you must carry me over." "Verra weel," said Jemmy. He took the steward on his back, and when he had carefully carried him half-way across the river he paid off his grudge by dropping him quietly into the water.

A daft individual used to frequent the same district, about whom a variety of opinions were entertained, some people thinking him not so foolish as he sometimes seemed. On one occasion a person, wishing to test whether he knew the value of money, held out a sixpence and a penny, and offered him his choice. "I’ll tak’ the wee ane," he said, giving as his modest reason, "I’se no’ be greedy." At another time, a miller laughing at him for his witlessness, he said, "Some things I ken, and some I dinna ken." On being asked what he knew, he said, "I ken a miller has aye a gey fat sou." "An’ what d’ye no’ ken?" said the miller. "Ou," he returned, "I dinna ken wha’s expense she’s fed at."

A very amusing collision of one of those penurious lairds, already referred to, a certain Mr Gordon of Rothie, with a half-daft beggar wanderer of the name of Jock Muilton, has been recorded. The laird was very shabby, as usual, and, meeting Jock, began to banter him on the subject of his dress :—" Ye’re very grand, Jock. Thae’s fine claes ye hae gotten; whaur did ye get that coat?" Jock told him who had given him his coat, and then, looking slily at the laird, he inquired, as with great simplicity, "And whaur did ye get yours, laird?"

For another admirable story of a rencontre between a penurious laird and the parish natural I am indebted to the Scotsman, June 16, 1871. Once on a time there was a Highland laird renowned for his caution in money matters, and his precise keeping of books. His charities were there; but that department of his bookkeeping was not believed to be heavy. On examination, a sum of half-a-crown was unexpectedly discovered in it; but this was accounted for in a manner creditable to his intentions, if not to his success in executing them. It had been given in mistake instead of a coin of a different denomination, to "the natural" of the parish for holding his shelty while he transacted business at the bank. A gleam in the boy’s eye drew his attention to a gleam of white as the metal dropped into his pocket. In vain the laird assured him it was not a good bawbee—if he would give it up he would get another—it was "guid eneuch" for the like of him. And when the laird in his extremity swore a great oath that unless it was given up he would never give another halfpenny, the answer was—" Ech, laird, it wad be lang or ye gied me saxty."

Another example of shrewd and ready humour in one of that class is the following:—In this case the idiot was musical, and earned a few stray pence by playing Scottish airs on a flute. He resided at Stirling, and used to hang about the doors of the inn to watch the arrival and departure of travellers. A lady, who used to give him something occasionally, was just starting, and said to Jarnie that she had only a fourpenny piece, and that he must be content with that, for she could not stay to get more. Jamie was not satisfied, and as the lady drove out, he expressed his feelings by playing with all his might, "O wearie o’ the toom pouch." [Empty pocket]

The, spirit in Jamie Fraser before mentioned, and which had kept him awake, shows itself in idiots occasionally by making them restless and troublesome. One of this character had annoyed the clergyman where he attended church by fidgeting, and by uncouth sounds which he uttered during divine service. Accordingly, one day before church began, he was cautioned against moving, or "making a whisht," under the penalty of being turned out. The poor creature sat quite still and silent, till, in a very important part of the sermon, he felt an inclination to cough. So he shouted out, "Minister, may a puir body like me noo gie a hoast?" [A cough]

I have two anecdotes of two peers, who might be said to come under the description of half-witted. In their case the same sort of dry Scotch humour came out under the cloak of mental disease. The first is of a Scottish nobleman of the last century who had been a soldier the greater part of his life, but was obliged to come home on account of aberration of mind, superinduced by hereditary propensity. Desirous of putting him under due restraint, and at the same time of engaging his mind in his favourite pursuit, his friends secured a Sergeant Briggs to be his companion, and, in fact keeper. To render the sergeant acceptable as a companion they introduced him to the old earl as Colonel Briggs. Being asked how he liked "the colonel," the earl showed how acute he still was by his answer, "Oh, very well; he is a sensible man, and a good soldier, but he smells damnably of the halbert."

The second anecdote relates also to a Scottish nobleman labouring under aberration of mind, and is, I believe, a traditionary one. In Scotland, some hundred years ago, madhouses did not exist, or were on a very limited scale; and there was often great difficulty in procuring suitable accommodation for patients who required special treatment and seclusion from the world. The gentleman in question had been consigned to the Canongate prison, and his position there was far from comfortable. An old friend called to see him, and asked how it had happened that he was placed in so unpleasant a situation. His reply was, "Sir, it was more the kind interest and patronage of my friends than my own merits that have placed me here." "But have you not remonstrated or complained?" asked his visitor. "I told them" said his lordship, "that they were a pack of infernal villains." "Did you?" said his friend; "that was bold language; and what did they say to that?’? "Oh," said the peer, "I took care not to tell them till they were fairly out of the place, and weel up the Canontate."

In Peebles there was a crazy being of this kind called "Daft Yedie." On one occasion he saw a gentleman, a stranger in the town, who had a club foot. Yedie contemplated this phenomenon with some interest, and, addressing the gentleman, said compassionately, "It’s a great pity—it spoils the boot." There is a story of one of those half-witted creatures of a different character from the humorous ones already recorded; I think it is exceedingly affecting. The story is traditionary in a country district, and I am not aware of its being ever printed.

A poor boy, of this class, who had evidently manifested a tendency towards religious and devotional feelings, asked permission from the clergyman to attend the Lord’s Table and partake of the holy communion with the other members of the congregation (whether Episcopalian or Presbyterian I do not know). The clergyman demurred for some time, under the impression of his mind being incapable of a right and due understanding of the sacred ordinance. But observing the extreme earnestness of the poor boy, he at last gave consent, and he was allowed to come. He was much affected, and all the way home was heard to exclaim, "Oh! I hae seen the pretty man." This referred to his seeing the Lord Jesus whom he had approached in the sacrament. He kept repeating the words, and went with them on his lips to rest for the night. Not appearing at the usual hour for breakfast, when they went to his bedside they found him dead! The excitement had been too much—mind and body had given away—and the half-idiot of earth awoke to the glories and the bliss of his Redeemer’s presence.

Analogous with the language of the defective intellect is the language of the imperfectly formed intellect, and I have often thought there was something very touching and very fresh in the expression of feelings and notions by children. I have given examples before, but the following is, to my taste, a charming specimen:—A little boy had lived for some time with a very penurious uncle, who took good care that the child’s health should not be injured by over-feeding. The uncle was one day walking out, the child at his side, when a friend accosted him, accompanied by a greyhound. While the elders were talking, the little fellow, never having seen a dog so slim and slight of form, clasped the creature round the neck with the impassioned cry, "Oh, doggie, doggie, and div ye live wi’ your uncle tae, that ye are so thin?"

In connection with funerals, I am indebted to the kindness of Lord Kinloch for a characteristic anecdote of cautious Scottish character in the west country. It was the old fashion, still practised in some districts, to carry the coffin to the grave on long poles, or "spokes," as they were commonly termed. There were usually two bearers abreast on each side. On a certain occasion one of the two said to his companion, "I’m awfu’ tired wi’ carryin’." "Do you carry?" was the interrogatory in reply. "Yes; what do you do?" "Oh," said the other,’" I aye lean." His friend’s fatigue was at once accounted for.

I am strongly tempted to give an account of a parish functionary in the words of a kind correspondent from Kilmarnock, although communicated in the following very flattering terms:—"In common with every Scottish man worthy of the name, I have been delighted with your book, and have the ambition to add a pebble to the cairn, and accordingly send you a bellman story; it has, at least, the merit of being unprinted and unedited."

The incumbent of Craigie parish, in this district of Ayrshire, had asked a Mr Wood, tutor in the Cairnhill family, to officiate for him on a particular Sunday. Mr Wood, however, between the time of being asked and the appointed day, got intimation of the dangerous illness of his father; in the hurry of setting out to see him, he forgot to arrange for the pulpit being filled. The bellman of Craigie parish, by name Matthew Dinning, and at this time about eighty years of age, was a very little "crined" [Shrivelled] old man, and always wore a broad Scottish blue bonnet, with a red" bob" on the top. The parish is a small rural one, so that Matthew knew every inhabitant in it, and had seen most of them grow up. On this particular day, after the congregation had waited for some time, Matthew was seen to walk very slowly up the middle of the church, with the large Bible and psalm-book under his arm, to mount the pulpit stair; and after taking his bonnet off, and smoothing down his forehead with his "loof," thus addressed the audience:-

"My freens, there was ane Wuds tae hae preached here the day, but he has nayther comed himsell, nor had the ceevility tae sen us the scart o’ a pen. Ye’ll bide here for ten meenonts, and gin naebody comes forrit in that time, ye can gang awa’ hame. Some say his feyther’s dead; as for that I kenna."

The following is another illustration of the character of the old Scottish betheral. One of those worthies, who was parochial grave-digger, had been missing for two days or so, and the minister had in vain sent to discover him at most likely places. He bethought, at last, to make inquiry at a "public" at some distance from the village, and on entering the door he met his man in the trance, quite fou’, staggering out, supporting himself with a hand on each wa’. To the minister’s sharp rebuke and rising wrath for his indecent and shameful behaviour, John, a wag in his way, and emboldened by liquor, made answer, "‘Deed, sir, sin’ I ca’d at the manse, I hae buried an auld wife, and I’ve just drucken her, hough an’ horn." Such was his candid admission of the manner in which he had disposed of’ the church fees paid for the interment.

An encounter of wits between a laird and an elder:—A certain laird in Fife, well-known for his parsimonious habits, and who, although his substance largely increased, did not increase his liberality in his weekly contribution to the church collection, which never exceeded the sum of one penny, one day by mistake dropped into the plate at the door half-a-crown; but discovering his error before he was seated in his pew, he hurried back, and was about to replace the coin by his customary penny, when the elder in attendance cried out, "Stop, laird; ye may put in what ye like, but ye maun tak naething oot!" The laird, finding his explanations went for nothing, at last said, "Aweel, I suppose I’ll get credit for it in heaven." "Na, na, laird," said the elder, sarcastically; "ye’ll only get credit for the penny."

The following is not a bad specimen of sly piper wit:— The Rev. Mr Johnstone of Monquhitter, a very grandiloquent pulpit orator in his day, accosting a travelling piper, well known in the district, with the question, "Well, John, how does the wind pay?" received from John, with a low bow, the answer, "Your Reverence has the advantage of me."


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