Nature's walks, shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise."
There are two distinct classes of Scotsmen—one shrewd and sagacious, the other extremely foolish. The observation, commonplace as it may seem, is strictly descriptive of the Scottish character. Intensity is peculiar to the mental condition of northern races. Lacking the vivacious sprightliness of the Irish Celt, and equally removed from the listless content of the unlettered Saxon, the Scotsman is impassioned and fervid. With his mind he deals as with the soil of his country; he endeavours to make the most of it. He supplements original deficiencies by observation, and steadily acquires knowledge in the school of experience. Hence weak persons are a distinct class among the Scots. Their dulness of apprehension and poverty of thought have rendered them conspicuous. Such were, no doubt, the Scottish associates of Mr. Sydney Smith, of whom he humorously said that a surgical operation was required to get a joke into their understandings.
Mr. John Welch, son-in-law of John Knox, the reformer, was one of the most fervid and ingenious of the older Presbyterian clergy. On a false charge of sedition he was deprived of his living and banished to France. When he was residing at St. Jean d'Angely, a fortified town in Lower Charente, that town was besieged by Louis XIII., who was then at war with his Protestant subjects. Mr. Welch warmly counselled the burgesses to make resistance, and personally assisted in serving the guns. When the place capitulated, the monarch requested the Duke d'Epernon to arrest him and bring him to court. The Duke proceeded on his mission with a party of soldiers. He found Mr. Welch preaching in his place of worship. Observing the Duke enter, Mr. Welch requested him to be seated and listen to his discourse. The Duke obeyed. He declared to the preacher at the close of the service that he felt edified. Mr. Welch accompanied him to the king's presence. The monarch asked him how he dared to preach since the exposition of Protestant doctrines was forbidden in those places where the court resided. Mr. Welch replied, "Sir, if your Majesty knew what I preached you would come to hear what is spoken, and command your people likewise to hear it. I preach that you must be saved by the merits of Jesus Christ, and not your own; and I further preach that, as you are king of France, there is no man above you in this kingdom. But these men, whom you permit to preach, teach that there is one above you in authority, the Pope of Bome. To this I could not assent." The speech so pleased the monarch that he received Mr. Welch into favour, constituted him "his minister," and assured him of his constant protection. He kept his promise.
When Scotland was overrun by an English army during -the Protectorate, the Estates of Parliament caused the Begalia, consisting of the crown, sceptre, and sword, to be deposited in the stronghold of Dunnottar Castle. This became known, and the castle was besieged by a portion of Cromwell's army. After a prolonged resistance, the garrison resolved to capitulate. Such a course would have implied the surrender of the national trophies. Ogilvie, who commanded the garrison, was a landowner at Kinneff, and Mr. James Granger, minister of that parish, and his wife were deeply concerned that one of their parishioners should be placed in the condition of surrendering the ancient insignia of the national honour. Mrs. Granger, accompanied by her maid, proceeded to the castle. She claimed permission from General Morgan, who commanded the besiegers, to enter the castle to visit her friend Mrs. Ogilvie. The request was courteously granted. After a short interval Mrs. Granger and her maid returned. The maid bore a bag of hards of lint Mrs. Granger carried a small bundle. General Morgan handed the lady to her horse. The castle surrendered soon after, and Mr. Ogilvie was severely menaced unless he would deliver up the regalia. He protested that it was impossible to comply, since these insignia had been removed. He spoke truly. Mrs. Granger and her maid had borne them off in presence of the besieging army. Her little bundle contained the crown, and the bag of hards borne by her maid concealed the sceptre and sword of state. The precious relics were carefully deposited under the pulpit of Kinneff church.
After the Restoration two parties were rewarded for their supposed share in this transaction. Mr. Ogilvie was created a baronet, and John Keith, son of the Countess Marischal, received the earldom of Kintore. The latter was represented by the Countess as having carried the regalia to France, but in reality he had no share whatever in their preservation. The patriotic minister of Kinneff, and his adventurous helpmate, went unrewarded.
When William Wallace, a youth of fifteen, slew young Selby, son of the English constable, at Dundee, he was saved from the consequences of his rashness by the ingenuity of a woman. Flying from his pursuers Wallace took refuge in a peasant's hut at Innergowrie. Relating his story, the gudewife arrayed him in female attire, and placed him at her spinning-wheel. He had just begun to spin, when the pursuers entered, and demanded whether a young murderer had been there. "There's nae ane here," said the gudewife, "but the carlin at the wheel and mysel." The soldiers searched the premises and passed on.
The late Sir Alexander Boswell, Bart., of Auchinleck, son of the celebrated James Boswell, was a person of great ingenuity and public spirit. He formed the scheme of rearing a monument to the poet Burns at his birthplace, on the banks of the Doon. Having procured many promises of support, he convened a meeting on the subject, to be held in the county rooms at Ayr. When the hour of meeting arrived, two persons only were found in the room, these being the convener, and his factor or land-agent. This result had been discouraging to most persons; but Sir Alexander did not lose heart. He took the chair, on the motion of his factor, and in return he nominated the factor clerk to the meeting. He read a series of resolutions, which the factor seconded. These, as unanimously agreed to at a public meeting held at Ayr, and duly subscribed by the chairman and clerk, were printed and circulated. A committee which had been nominated met and acted. In the course of twelve months the sum of £2,000 was at the credit of the committee. A monumental design was procured, and the work of its construction was begun. Sir Alexander Boswell now publicly related the story of the Ayr meeting, and his enthusiasm and ingenuity were duly applauded.
James Boswell has been already referred to. Though in many respects a weak man, he occasionally said good things. His note-hook contains the following:—"A dull fool was nothing, that never showed himself; the great thing is to have your fool well furnished with animal spirits and conceit, and he will display to you a rich fund of risibility."
A stupid fellow was declaiming against that kind of raillery called roasting, and was saying, "I am sure I have a great deal of good nature, I never roast any." "Why, sir," said Boswell, "you are an exceeding good-natured man, to be sure; but I can give you a better reason for your never roasting any. Sir, you never roast any because you have got no fire."
"Asparagus is like gentility; it cannot be brought to table till several generations from the dunghill."
"The minds of some men are like a dark cellar, where their knowledge lies concealed; while the minds of others are all sunshine and mirror, and reflect all that they read or hear in a lively manner."
"I said in a dispute with Sir Alexander Dick, on the different estimation to be put on sons and daughters, that 'Sons are truly part of a family, daughters go into other families. Sons are the furniture of your house; daughters are furniture in the house for sale. No man would wish to have his daughters fixtures; such of them as are well-looked are like certain marked pictures at the exhibition/ "
"I said of a rich man who entertained us luxuriously, that although he was exceedingly ridiculous, we restrained ourselves from talking of him as we might do, lest we should lose his feasts. Said I,' He makes our teeth sentinels on our tongues.'"
During Dr. Johnson's visit to Scotland, one Campbell, a St. Andrews student, published an amusing pamphlet in ridicule of the Doctor's style. The pamphlet, which has long ceased to be in print, represents a supposed conversation between the lexicographer and some persons seeking etymological information. "What is the simplest definition of a window, Dr. Johnson?" said one of the inquirers. "A window, sir," responded the sage, "is an orifice cut out of an edifice for the introduction of illumination." The candle had required snuffing. "Pray, sir," said the lexicographer to one of the party, "will you deprive that luminary of its superfluous eminence?"
For the following anecdote, related by old Lord Elcho, we are indebted to a work lately published by Mr. Jerdan:—
"I once presided," said his lordship, "over a jolly company, when it was more customary than it now is, —and the more's the pity—to call upon every guest in turn for a song or a tale, under the penalty, in case of refusal or non-compliance, of a strong tumbler of salt and water. I at last came to a contumacious chap, who protested he could neither sing a song nor tell a tale. This would not pass with me, and especially as I had had my eye on this Billy for some time, and did not at all like his jeering leers and scoffing manners. So I said to him peremptorily," Well, sir, if you can do neither the one nor the other, you must oblige me by tossing off the tumbler I will now order to be brought to you." "Stop!" he cried, hastily, "let me try first." Silence ensued, and he proceeded: "There was once a thief who chanced to find a church door open, of which carelessness he took advantage and stepped in, not to worship but to carry off whatever of the portable he could find. He put the cushions under his arms, hid as much as he could, and impudently wrapped the pulpit cloth about him like a plaid; but lo and behold! whilst he was thus employed the sexton happened to pass by, and seeing the church door open, got the key and locked it; so that when our irreligious friend thought he had nothing to do but slip out as he had slipped in, he discovered he was a close prisoner, and all egress stopped. What to do he knew not; but at last it struck him that he might succeed in letting himself down to the ground by the bell-rope. Accordingly, with it in hand he swung gently off, and you may be certified set up a ringing that alarmed the neighbourhood. In short, he was captured with his booty upon him as soon as he reached mother earth ; upon which, looking up to the bell, as I now look up to your lordship, he remonstrated, ' Had it not been for your long tongue and empty head, I might have escaped.'"
Robert Pollok, author of "The Course of Time," was delivering in the Theological Hall of the Secession Church atrial discourse, of which the subject was Sin. The diction was considerably inflated, and as the preacher proceeded, the students gave audible expression to the amusement which they experienced. At last the Professor smiled too. This was not unobserved by Pollok, who was just on the point of a climax respecting the evils which sin had caused. He closed it with these words, emphatically spoken, "And but for sin, the smile of folly had never been upon the brow of wisdom."
Mr. Cochrane, a Jacobite landowner in Stirlingshire, was requested to allow a stone to be quarried on his estate for a monument to Sir Robert Munro, Bart., of Foulis, an officer in the royal army, who fell at Falkirk. "I'll gie ye headstanes for them a'," was Cochrane's reply, meaning all the adherents of the House of Hanover.
Dr. Cullen entertained strong views respecting the loquacity of the fair sex. The Rev. John Aitken, minister of St. Yigeans, had consulted him on account of incipient deafness. Cullen wrote a prescription, on which Mr. Aitken tendered a fee. "I thank you," said the physician, "but I have long made it a rule not to accept a fee from a country clergyman; he cannot afford it, sir." "There may be some who cannot," said Mr. Aitken, "but I can; for my living is good and I have no family." "What, are you a bachelor?" said the doctor. "I am," replied Mr. Aitken. "Then," said the physician, "go home, destroy my prescription, and get married, and I'll hazard my reputation that, a month after, you shall hear on the deafest side of your head."
Lady Wallace, who was reputed for her sallies of wit, was overcome with her own weapons by David Hume. "I am often asked," she said to the philosopher, "what age I am; what answer should I make?" "When you are asked that question again/' replied Hume, "just say that you are not come to the years of discretion."
Dr. Davidson, Professor of Natural Science at Aberdeen, gave occasional lectures in natural history. In order to puzzle him, some of his students contrived to put together portions of various insects, so as to present the appearance of a single original. The medley being placed before the Professor, one of the rogues remarked, "We think it is a sort of bug." The Professor, inspecting it through his glass, promptly replied, "Yes, gentlemen, a humbug."
Andrew Gemmels, the Teviotdale gaberlunzie, prototype of Edie Ochiltree, was a person of no inconsiderable humour. When Sergeant Dodds was haranguing a group of rustics at St. Boswell's Fair on the glory of a soldier's life, Gemmels, who was close behind him, reared aloft his meal-bags on the end of his pike-staff, and exclaimed, "And behold the end o't!" The sergeant retired amidst the laughter of the bystanders.
Gemmels was standing before an expensive and fantastic mansion, built by a laird, one of his patrons, whose circumstances were none of the best. The laird came out and said, "Well, Andrew, you're admiring our handiworks?" "Atweel am I, sir?" was the reply; "I have just been thinking that ye hae thrown awa' twa bonny estates and built a gowk's nest."
The celebrated Henry, first Viscount Melville, was on a visit to Edinburgh shortly after the passing of some unpopular public measure to which he had given his support. On the morning after his arrival he sent for a barber to shave him at his hotel. This functionary, a considerable humourist, resolved to indicate his sentiments respecting his lordship's recent procedure as a legislator. Having decorated his lordship with an apron, he proceeded to lather his face. Then, flourishing his razor, he said, "We are obliged to you, my lord, for the part you lately took in the passing of that odious bill." "Oh, you're a politician!" said his lordship; "I sent for a barber." "I'll shave you directly," added the barber, who, after shaving one-half of the beard, next came to the throat, across which he drew rapidly the back of his instrument, saying, "Take that, you traitor." He then hastily withdrew. Lord Melville, who conceived that his throat had been cut from ear to ear, placed the apron about his neck, and with a gurgling noise shouted "Murder!" The waiter immediately appeared, and, at his lordship's entreaty, rushed out to procure a surgeon. Three members of the medical faculty were speedily in attendance; but his lordship could scarcely be persuaded by their joint solicitation to expose his throat, around which he firmly held the barber's apron. At length he consented to an examination; but he could only be convinced by looking into a mirror that his throat had been untouched. His lordship was mortified by the merriment which the occurrence excited, and speedily returned to London.
Mrs. Glen Gordon, who acted as deputy keeper of Linlithgow Palace, remonstrated with General Hawley on the danger likely to result from the large fires kindled by his men in the immediate vicinity of the palace. The General rudely answered that he did not care though the palace was burnt to the ground. "An that be the case I can rin awa' frae fire as fast as you," responded the indignant lady, alluding to the General's recent rout at Falkirk.
Miss Maxwell, afterwards Lady Wallace, was a celebrated beauty. She resided in Edinburgh, and the style of dress which she adopted regulated the fashions of the capital. The family were about to attend the races at Leith, and the carriage was waiting, when a milliner, who had been making a bonnet for Miss Maxwell, rushed into the house, protesting that in her haste to deliver the head-dress in time, she had unfortunately brought it in contact with the buckle of a street-porter, by which it was rent. "Ne'er mind," said the lady, who, placing the torn bonnet on her head, drove off. In the course of next day the milliner was besieged with orders for bonnets of the new and becoming style worn by Miss Maxwell!
A young farmer at Cumnock, Ayrshire, considered that the daughter of a neighbour at Auchinleck would suit him as a wife. Having made up his mind, he made proposals to the fair one without the usual preliminaries. The young lady's reply was, "Deed, Jamie, I'll tak' ye, but ye maun gie me my dues o' courtin' for a' that."
Alexander Wood, the eminent Edinburgh surgeon, was fortunate, at an early period of his career, in winning the affections of a lady whose social position was at the time superior to his own. He waited on the lady's father, who was known in the city as "honest George Chalmers," and made known to him that he proposed to marry his daughter, Veronica. "On what do you mean to support her?" said Mr. Chalmers. Taking out his lancet, Mr. Wood replied, "I have nothing but this, and a determination to use it." "It is enough," said Mr. Chalmers, "Veronica is yours."
Mr. William Roger, of Ryehill, Perthshire, great grandfather of the writer, was frequently employed to arbitrate in agricultural concerns. Though a person of substance and known probity, he had been, in an affair of arbitration, offered a bribe by both parties. The monies supposed to be the price of his conscience were sent him shortly before the period when he was to make his award. He placed the two budgets of guineas one in each pocket of his upper coat, and proceeded to meet the parties. Having taken his seat he said, striking his hands on his sides, "There is a rogue on this side, and a rogue on that, hut an honest man in the middle." He then made his award, and drew forth the rogues from his pockets, which he returned to the owners.
Dr. Guthrie relates the following:—A small crofts-man came to Mr. Linton, of the Grammar School of Brechin, with his son, a stripling, who had taken it into his head to obtain a little learning. The father said, "Oh, Mr. Linton, you see my laddie's fond o' lear I'm thinkin' o' making a scholar o' him." "Oh," said Mr. Linton, " what are you to make of him?" "You see, Mr. Linton," was the father's reply, "if he gets grace we'll mak' a minister o' him." "But if he does not get grace," persisted Mr. Linton, " what will you make of him then?" "Weel, in that case," replied the croftsman, resolving to repay Mr. Linton in his own coin, "I suppose we'll just hae to mak' him a schulemaster."
An honourable baronet was canvassing the stew-artry of Kirkcudbright in the Conservative interest. Calling on a farmer to solicit his vote, he found that the object of his visit was not at home; but he obtained an interview with the farmer's daughter, and endeavoured to enlist her influence on his behalf. "I might try to induce my father to vote for you," said the damsel, "if you would get me the situation of maid of honour to the Queen." "I fear you would scarcely be fit for such an appointment," said the baronet. "That is," rejoined the damsel, "just what my father was thinking respecting your being member for the stewartry."
The Rev. Mr. Aitken, of St. Yigeans, was examining a fisherman regarding his scriptural knowledge. Finding him very deficient, Mr. Aitken expressed his regret that a person of his age should be so ignorant respecting such important truths. "Weel, sir," said the fisherman, "just allow me to speir* a question at you. How many hooks will it tak' to bait a fifteen score haddock line?" "Really, John," said the minister, "I cannot answer you; that is quite out of my way." "Weel, sir, ye should na be sae hard upo' poor folk—you to your trade, an' me to mine."
A story is related in a recent publication of an incident which occurred in a London clubhouse, when several gentlemen thought to discover the peculiar idiosyncrasy of the inhabitants of the three kingdoms by putting the same question to one individual of each. Three street porters were called in, these being natives of England, Ireland, and Scotland. "What would you take," said the president to the Englishman, "to run three times round Russell Square, stripped to the shirt?" "I'll take a pot o' porter, sir," was the reply. The question being put to the Hibernian, he shrugged his shoulders, and with the naivete of Irish humour exclaimed, "Sure I'd take a mighty great cowld." Sandy was next asked. He scratched his head, and archly replied by the cautious interrogatory, "What will ye gie me?"
An elderly gentlewoman had employed the village mason to execute some work of repair. During his operations John repeatedly remarked that "it was a very stourie job, and that he would not be the worse of something to synd it down." The bottle was at length produced, with a small thistle glass, which was filled a little way from the brim and handed to the mason. "Ye'll no' be the waur o' that, John," said the lady, congratulating herself on her liberality. "Atweel, no, mem," responded the mason, holding up the dwarfish glass; "I wadna be the waur o' that though it had been vitriol."
A country laird, riding in an unfrequented part of Kircudbrightshire, came to the edge of a morass, which he considered not quite safe to pass. Observing a peasant lad in the vicinity, he hailed him, and inquired whether the bog was hard at the bottom. "Ou ay, quite hard," responded the youth. The laird passed on, but his horse began to sink with alarming rapidity. "You rascal," shouted the laird to his misinformant, "did you not say that it was hard at the bottom?" "So it is," rejoined the rogue, "but ye're no halfway till't yet."
"An old lady," says Dr. Guthrie, "was walking in Hanover Street, Edinburgh, with a large umbrella in her hand. A little urchin came up who had no cap on his head, but plenty of brains within; no shoes on his feet, but a great deal of understanding for all that. Well, I saw him fix upon that venerable old lady.
He appealed to her for charity; she gave him a grunt. He went up again; she gave him a poke. He saw there was no chance of getting at her through her philanthropy, and he thought to get at her through her selfishness; so he pulled up his sleeve to his elbow—his yellow, skinny elbow,—and running up, he cried out, displaying the limb, and exhibiting his rags and woeful face, ' Jist oot o' the infirmary wi' the typhus fever, mem.' The old lady put her hand to the very bottom of her pocket, and taking out a shilling, thrust it into his hand and ran away."
Blind Alick, of Stirling, was blind from his birth, and his intellect, with the exception of one faculty, was an entire blank. But his memory was retentive to an extraordinary degree. A person who had once addressed him he remembered ever after. He had heard the Scriptures read in the different schools of the place which he was in the habit of visiting, and he could repeat almost the entire sacred volume, beginning at any chapter or verse. A gentleman, to puzzle him, read, with a slight verbal alteration, a verse of the Bible. Alick hesitated for a little, then told him where it was to be found, but said that it had not been quoted correctly; he then gave the proper reading. The gentleman next asked him for the ninetieth verse of the seventh chapter of Numbers. Alick replied, "You are fooling me; the chapter has just eighty-nine verses."
Daft Jamie was a natural, well known on the east coast of Forfarshire. A farm servant was one day teasing him in a very provoking manner. "Ye ill-looking scoundrel/' said the maniac, in a fit of wrath, if I werena sure the Almighty made all mankind, I wad say ye were a coonterfeit."
Some anecdotes on the score of simplicity will close the chapter.
A Countess of Strathmore lost the friendship of a neighbour by her ignorance of Scottish modes of speech. Mr. Skene, of Carriston, was dining with the Earl and Countess at Glammis Castle. In the course of conversation the Countess remarked to her guest, "I have heard a great many persons say, Mr. Skene, that you are not to ride the water on. Pray what may they mean?" "Oh, I suppose they mean," said Mr. Skene, " that my legs are so short, that if they were to cross a river on my back, they would get themselves wetted." Mr. Skene perceived that he had been represented to Lady Strathmore as one not to be trusted, and whether her ladyship had arrived at this explanation of the metaphorical language or not, he felt that it was better to decline in future the hospitalities of the castle.
Dr. Glen, who resided in Edinburgh about the close of the last century, was extremely parsimonious, but was withal fond of popular applause. He was regular in attending church, and used to deposit his weekly charity in the collection plate in a column of copper pieces, which he laid down carefully, so that it might attract the attention of passers by. He presented the Orphan Hospital with a bell, so that his fame might be sounded abroad. When in company, if the bell happened to ring, he took occasion to remark its fine tone, and so introduce the subject of his generosity.
"What three things would you desire most to have?" said a gentleman to a Highlander. "For the first," he replied, "a Loch Lomond o' whisky." "And for the second what would you have?" persisted the gentleman. "A Ben Lomond of sneeshin," responded Donald. "And what for the third?"' "At-weel," said Donald, after a little reflection, "I think I wad hae just anither Loch Lomond o' whisky."
The almanack has only of late years been introduced in some of the isolated districts. The Ettrick Shepherd has recorded that even in Selkirkshire, within a short distance of the capital, the natives, chiefly sheep farmers and shepherds, were wont to preserve the memory of occurrences in their personal and family history by enumerating them in connection with "the year of the great storm," "the summer of uncommon drought," and so on. The following was transcribed from the family Bible of a farmer in Watten parish, Caithness:—"Our Bessy was born on the day that John Cathel lost his grey mare in the moss. Jamie was born on the day they began mending the roof o' the kirk. Sandy was born the night my mother broke her leg, and the day before Kitty gaed awa' wi' the sodgers. The twins,Willie and Margaret, were born the day Sandy Bremner biggit his new barn, and the vera day after the battle of Waterloo. Kirsty was born the night o' the great fecht on the Reedsmas, in Barlan, atween Peter Donaldson and a south country drover; forbye * the factor raised the rent that same year. Annie was born the night the kiln gaed on fire, six years syne. David was born the night o' the great speat, and three days afore Jamie Miller had a lift frae the fairies."
A clergyman was prosecuting his pastoral visitations. He came to the door of a house where his knock for admission could not be heard amidst the noise of contention within. After a little he stepped in, saying authoritatively, "I should like to know who is the head of this house?" "Weel, sir," said the husband and father, "that is just the point we've been trying to settle."
There was a mixture of shrewdness and simplicity in the following. Shortly after the establishment of the Ministers' Widows' Fund, the minister of Oran-shaws asked in marriage the daughter of a small farmer in the neighbourhood. The damsel asked her father whether she should accept the clergyman's offer. "Oh," said the sire, "tak him, Jenny; he's as gude deid as leevin'." The farmer meant that his daughter would, owing to the new fund, be equally well off a widow as a wife.
That simplicity which develops in a blind and morbid obstinacy is illustrated by the following anecdote:—A man and his wife were walking together near a farmyard at Troqueer, when they were attracted by the appearance of a well-dressed stack of hay. The man remarked that it was neatly pulled, while the wife insisted that it was "clippit." The controversial spirit was fexcited on both sides. The husband was wedded to his opinion, and the woman would not yield. "Clippit, I say ; I'll say it's clippit yet; any one but a fule wad ken that it's clippit," are specimens of the rhetoric with which she regaled the ears of her offended lord. They were passing the farm mill-pond. The gentleman gave his obstinate helpmate a push, and she fell into the water. Believing that she was about to perish, she held up two fingers, imitating the action of scissors, to intimate that even in death she would not surrender her opinion. She was dragged out of the pond, and having shaken herself, she exclaimed, "I'll say clippit yet."
In Shakspeare Square, Edinburgh, some forty years ago, lived Lucky Johnston, mother of Harry Johnston, the famous theatrical humourist. One night during his engagement at the theatre, Lucky had invited a number of her cronies to supper, in honour of his visit. Harry told his drollest stories, which excited great merriment at the supper-table. A dame seated at the upper end of the table rose up, after a great explosion of laughter, and holding a handkerchief to her face, said, addressing the humourist, "Maister Harry, ye maun excuse me for no laughin', for I hae got a sair mouth."
Dr. Guthrie relates the following:—A woman went to her minister for advice. She said, "My husband and me don't agree. We quarrel very often. He comes in sometimes tired and ill-tempered, and I fire up. Then we go to it with tooth and nail." "Well," said the minister, "I can cure that." "Oh, can you, sir? I am so delighted, for I do love my husband, when a's come and gone," said she. "It's a certain cure," said the minister, "and will work a charm." "Oh, I am so happy to hear it," says she. "Well," continued the minister, "when your husband comes home from his work, fractious and quarrelsome, and says a sharp thing to you, what do you do?" "Oh, I answer back, of course." "Very well," says the minister, "the singular charm is this: whenever your husband comes in and commences to speak sharply, the first thing you do is to run out to the pump, fill your mouth with water, and keep it in for ten minutes." The woman came back to the minister three or four weeks after, and said, "The Lord bless you, sir, for that's the most wonderful charm I ever heard o'! Deed is't."
Parish schoolmasters are, on their appointment, examined as to their literary qualifications. One of the fraternity being called by his examiner to translate Horace's ode beginning,—
"Exegi monumentum acre perennius,"
commenced, "Exegi monumentum—I have eaten a mountain." "Ah," said one of the examiners, "ye needna proceed any further; for after eatin sic a dinner, this parish wad be a puir mouthfu't' ye. You maun try some wider sphere."
A Government official was examining a military school. Desiring to ascertain the progress of the pupils in Scripture knowledge, he proceeded, " How long did Noah warn the inhabitants of the old world to repent?" The pupils hesitated. "One hundred years," said the official. "Now, children, can you tell me the names of the twin sons of Isaac?"
"Jacob and-" said a little girl. "Yes, my child;
Jacob and--? Don't you remember -? why, Ishmael, my dear." The examiner remarked to the teachers that the children were most imperfectly instructed in Bible knowledge, and that he must withhold the usual holiday!
A desire to surprise by some new discovery is a failing of weak persons. A Scottish author, who has written a "Family History of England," has introduced an air as having been played by the band at Fotheringay Castle while Mary was proceeding to her execution, and which the writer remarks "a fortunate accident threw in my way."The air is no other than " Joan's Placket" arranged as a march! It is scarcely requisite to say that no air was performed at the execution of the unhappy queen. A similar discovery was made by one Findlay, a printer at Arbroath, who, in reprinting Dr. Buchan's work on "The Cure and Prevention of Diseases," substituted the word "Preservation" for "Prevention," which he alleged was the word evidently intended by the physician!
A clerical friend relates the following. When a student at St. Andrews, he and his companions frequented the workshop of a loquacious cobbler, who was a considerable humourist, and, according to his own account, no inconsiderable hero. The cobbler cured his own bacon, of which he had an ample supply arranged in the chimney of his one-roomed dwelling. Some of the students proposed to have a gaudeamus, or supper-party, before returning to the country, and it was resolved to seize one of the cobbler's hams for the occasion. Three delegates engaged in the affair of capturing the ham, and for this purpose, one of the number, chosen by lot, descended the cobbler's chimney. He got safely to the floor, and having fastened a ham to his shoulders he proceeded to ascend. Losing his hold, he fell heavily. The noise awakened the sleeping shoemaker, who got out of bed and struck a light. Retreat was impossible; so the chimney descender blackened his face and looked as formidable as he could. "What are ye?—where d'ye come frae?—what d'ye want here?" were questions which the cobbler put in rapid succession to the sooty-faced intruder. "I come from Pandemonium. Satan, my master, has sent me to you with the present of a ham," was the reply. "I defy the devil an' a' his works," said the cobbler. "I' the name o' a' gude begone." "Well," said sooty-face, "shall I blow the roof off your house, or will you light me to the door?" The cobbler walked backwards towards the door, which he opened, allowing the intruder to depart without further questioning. Next morning he missed one of his hams, but received a sum of money in its stead which more than compensated him for the loss; but the cobbler ceased to obtain credit as one of the heroic.
The following is a verbatim copy of a letter lately addressed by a poor woman to a Sheriff Substitute in one of the central counties. It illustrates the mistaken reading of Scripture frequently to be found among the humbler ranks:—
"Honored Sir,—When I saw you in the Watergit last Thursday, it was renning, and you were rinning, and I didna like to stepp you to spake about my boy. Sir, you promised to do for him, and you have not done for him, and i am not abel myself to keep him; for his father does nothing for him, but gist goes about a vagaybond on the face of the airth. When i married him he was a respectible laeberer, and then turned spinner; but now, like Solomon's lillie, he neither toils nor spins, and i bees not able for to keep the boy. Sir, he is 5 yers of ag, and i will bring him to your honor next week. Sir, I remans till death
"Your humbil Servant."
These anecdotes may be summed up by a brief narrative of a recent movement. For some years Scotland had lacked her fair share of public grants and other national privileges. Discontent was general. A public meeting was held at Edinburgh. Resolutions were passed, and the "National Association for the Vindication of Scottish Rights" was constituted. Under proper management something might have been accomplished, for the country had been suffering from Imperial neglect, or the indifference of her Parliamentary representatives. Unfortunately, the wise were content to initiate, and the weak were permitted to administer. An attorney discovered that there was a defect in the national shield—the Scottish Lion was in its wrong place! The alleged grievance was put forward prominently—too prominently for the cause of the "Rights." Ridicule assailed the movement from all quarters. Original promoters withdrew. Adherents fell off. The attorney was left to bemoan in solitude the decay of Heraldic science, and the degeneracy of Scottish patriotism.