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Traits and Stories of the Scottish People
Chapter VII. - Inscriptions, Rhymes, and Popular Sayings


"A thousand fantasies Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire
And airy tongues that syllable men's names."

Milton.

"'Tis education forms the common mind,
Just as the twig is bent, the tree's inclined."

Pope.

The manners of a people are better indicated by the character of their floating traditions and .their scattered rhymes than in the pages of their historians. Traditions denote the nature of the channel through which they have flowed. The rhymes of the people, whether inscribed or orally transmitted, may be held as the spontaneous utterances of their convictions. Such simple lines had been forgotten unless they had contained the germ of truth. The quaint old inscription had suffered obliteration unless successive generations had found the sentiment suited to their tastes.

The older inscriptions are for the most part terse and emphatic protests against the utterances of calumny. The imaginative character of the Scottish mind had devised this method of attack against those who had awakened unkindly feeling, and were otherwise incapable of assault. In dealing with the early annals the national historian has experienced much difficulty in separating the wheat of truth from the chaff of fiction. The patriot Wallace excited the invidious feelings of the nobility. His prowess was unassailable. The fervour and sincerity of his patriotism might not be challenged. The impugners therefore sought to arraign the honour of his private life. Marion Broadfoot, his lawful wife, they pronounced to be his mistress.

Robert II. espoused as his first queen the daughter of one of the lesser barons. The validity of his marriage was questioned. James III. adopted a life of literary and domestic seclusion; he was accused of incest. Queen Mary was imprudent, but she was most grossly slandered in the case of Rizzio.

The prevalence of calumny in ancient Scotland may account for the numerous indictments for witchcraft, and the testimony by which they were supported. When a poor widow or other aged and unprotected female had offended her neighbours by angry words and unguarded menaces, they were prepared to ascribe to her every family mishap and personal calamity. They traced her presence in every startled hare, and swore they had seen her gambolling with the devil on the mountain heath, and preparing by incantation instruments of destruction. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, calumny was one of the vices which most frequently called for the discipline of the Church.

At the Eeformation, the unequal division of the Church lands among the nobility invoked much hostile feeling on the part of the disappointed. Calumnies consequently arose against the fortunate. The Earl Marischal got the rich temporalities of the Abbey of Deer, and therewith a proportionate share of envy and detraction. He built a tower at Deer, on which he caused these words to be inscribed:—

"They haif said—
Quhat say thay?
Let them say."

The Regent Mar was even more defiant. He had received the temporalities of Cambuskenneth. He caused stones from the dilapidated structure to be removed to the Castle hill of Stirling, where he commenced to erect a superb mansion. To indicate his contempt for calumny and criticism, he caused metrical challenges to be sculptured above each of his three doorways. These are still legible. They proceed thus:—

"I pray at lukaris on this luging,
With gentil e to give thair juging."

"The moir I stand on opin hitht
My faults moir subject are to sicht."

"Espy, speik furth and spair notht,
Considder veil I cair nocht."

Robert Pitcairn, Secretary of State in the reign of James VI., and Commendator of the Abbey of Dunfermline, had been assailed by calumny. He built a new residence at Dunfermline, and in allusion to the rumours which he knew to be circulated to his disadvantage, he caused these lines to be inscribed in the front wall:—

"Sin' verd is thral and thocht is free,
Keip veill thy tonge, I counsel thee."

Over the entrance of an old house at Forglen, Banffshire, is the following:—

"Do veil and dovpt nocht
Althoch thov he spyit;
He is lytil gvid vorth
That is nocht envyit;
Tak thov no tent
Qvht everie man tels;
Gyve thov vald leive ondemij
Gang qvhair na man dvels."

In allusion to the invidious feelings engendered by success, the lady of Pringle, of Smailholm, caused these lines to be inscribed over the doorway of a mansion which she reared at Galashiels. The date is 1457:—

"Elspeth Dishington builted me In syne lye not;
The thyngs thou canst not gette Desyre not."

The front wall of the old village inn at Darnick, Roxburghshire, exhibits the following:—

"This is a good world to live in,
To lend, to spend, and to give in;
But to get, or to borrow, or keep what's one's own,
'Tis the very worst world that ever was known."

On the death of Lord President Dundas, the house in which he resided was converted into a smithy. These lines were found on a piece of paper attached to the door:—

"This house a lawyer once enjoyed
A smith does now possess;
How naturally the iron age
Succeeds the age of brass"

A trader in Stirling had formed the design of erecting an elegant residence in the principal street. He caused the escutcheon of his family arms to be displayed on the front wall. But his means failed, and he was necessitated to dispose of the walls to discharge the builder's charges. A neighbour some time after reared a lesser dwelling immediately adjoining. As a hit to the unfortunate trader, he caused the following lines to be inscribed on a large stone in the front wall of his house:—

"My name or armes to fix,
Lest I or myne should sell
Those stones and sticks."

Many of the older tombstones in the rural churchyards bear inscriptions sufficiently quaint. These lines were sculptured on a plain memorial stone at Leslie, Fifeshire:—

"Here lyes the dust of Charles Brown,
Some time a wright in London town.
When coming home parents to see,
And of his years being twenty-three,
Of a decay with a bad host
He dyed upon the Yorkshire coast."

Larbert churchyard, Stirlingshire, contained the following:—

"Here lyes interred within this urn
The corpse of honest good John Burn,
Who was the eight John of that name
That lived with love and dyed with fame."

At Largs, the tombstone of a blacksmith bears these lines:—

"Of all mechanics we have renown,
Above the hammer we wear the crown."

The churchyard of Urquhart contains the following:—

"Here lies father and son Goodsire and grand,
Who liv'd and died Upon a poor twelfth of land."

A magistrate of Montrose was commemorated in his parish churchyard by these lines:—

"The pious, noble Bailie Scott,
Montrose's honour high,
Beside this pretty monument
Interred here doth lie."

In the same place of tombs the gravestone of a handloom weaver bears these lines:—

"The weaver's art renowned is so
That poor nor rich without it cannot go."

These lines were sculptured on a tombstone in the cathedral churchyard of St. Andrews:—

"Here lyes James Brown, of old extract;
In fifty-five God did exact
From him the debt that all must pay
Who mortal are and made of clay."

A ploughman's tombstone in the parish churchyard of North Berwick is inscribed thus:—

"Oft have I till'd the fertile soil,
Which was my destined lot;
But here, beneath this towering elm,
I lie to be forgot."

The honours of the village doctor are thus recorded in the churchyard of Saltoun, East Lothian:—

"Header, here lyes good Robert Henderson,
Physician, gardener, surgeon,—all in one;
In all which three such success he did have,
That now, when gone, his virtues do require
A monument more ample than is here."

lines are from the churchyard of Mel

"The earth goeth on the earth,
Glistening like gold;
The earth goeth to the earth
Sooner than it wold.
The earth builds on the earth
Castles and towers;
The earth says to the earth,
All shall be ours."

A burgh magistrate of Annan is thus commemorated :—

These rose:—

"He thought it honour, with all his might,
To pursue the ancient burgh's right;
No man with bribes would, for his blood,
Tempt him to hurt the common good:
Let every one that him succeeds
Think on his faithful words and deeds."

A minister of Kirkpatrick-Juxta is, in the churchyard of that parish, thus commemorated :—

"The Rev. Dr. Stewart's call to Mousewald
"Was turned into a call to another land."

The following couplet is from a churchyard at Lockerbie:—

"Praises on tombs are trifles vainly spent,
A man's good name is his best monument."

A plain couple have their unpretending virtues thus set forth on their gravestone at Torthorwald:—

"They aimed at no titles,
But honest and unstained characters;
None of them were rich,
Neither were they poor."

The following inscription from the churchyard of Kells, Kirkcudbrightshire, is sufficiently quaint. It commemorates a prolific matron:—

"Here lyes the corps of Agnes Harris,
Spouse of Robert Cornon, also
Mary, Agnes, Marion, Margaret in one birth,
Robert, Andrew, James at one birth."

In the churchyard of Wigton, a village merchant is commemorated in prose, and his son in these lines of verse:—

"And his son John, of honest fame,
Of stature small, and a leg lame,
Content he was with portion small,
Kept shop in Wigton, and that's all."

In the old churchyard of Hamilton the epitaph of a seaman has this commencement:—

"The seas he ploughed for twenty years,
Without the smallest dread or fears;
And all that time was never known
To strike upon a hank or stone."

A miller's tombstone at Campsie is thus inscribed :—

"Eternity is A wheel that turns,
A wheel that turned ever,
A wheel that turns,
And will leave turning never."

The following is from the churchyard of Cults, Fifeshire:—

"Here lies, retired from mortal strife,
A man who lived a happy life;
A happy life, and sober too,
A thing that all men ought to do."

The following inscription adorned the tombstone of a noble lord at Kilmarnock:—

"Here lies vat godly, noble, wise Lord Boyd,
Who Kirk and King and Commons all eccor'd,
Which were, while they this jewel all enjoy'd,
Maintain'd, govern'd, and counsell'd by that Lord.
His antient House so oft peril'd he restor'd,
Twice six, and sixty years he liv'd; and fine,
By death the third of January devoid
In anno thrice five hundred, eighty-nine."

In the churchyard of Alves, Morayshire, a tombstone, bearing date 1590, is thus inscribed:—

"Here lies Anderson of Pittensere,
Maire of the Earldom of Moray,
With his wife Marjory,
Whilk him never displiscit!"

During a pestilence which visited Scotland in 1644, many persons perished. One of the sufferers is commemorated in the churchyard of Brechin in these lines:—

"Here lies John Erskine,
Who died of the affliction;
No one must disturb his bones
Until the Resurrection."

The Howff, or old burial-ground of Dundee, formerly contained many curious inscriptions. A number of these were obliterated when this old place of sepulture remained in a condition of neglect. About forty years ago Mr. Charles Boger, an ingenious antiquary, induced the authorities of the burgh to level the ground and arrange the tombstones. Since that period the Howff has been appropriately enclosed and carefully kept.

In the south-east corner of the Howff a tombstone is inscribed thus:—

"The time will come when all must fall,
Like Robert Paris—dead;
And may all meet the solemn call
As we think Robert did."

The tombstone of a Mr. Yeaman bears this couplet :—

"To honor ye sepultor ve may be bald:
Ye lerne of Abraham ovr father avid."

Bailie William Watson is thus commemorated:—

"Approach and read not with your hats on,
For here lies Bailie William
Watson Inclosed within a grave that's narrow.
The earth scarce ever saw his marrow
For piety and painful thinking,
And moderation in his drinking;
And finding him both wise and witty
The Town, of him did make a Bailie."

The tombstone of Patrick Gourlay, town clerk of Dundee, who died in 1666, bears these lines:—

"This Clerk was calm and kind to persons all,
His Goodness and his candour were not small;
His Life prov'd this unto the very end,
When trembling joints his quill could not extend.
Painful and wise, meek, faithful; and his days
Closed in honour and immortal praise.
Son, in his Father's steps, and loving Spouse
Built up this Tomb for the dear defunct's use."

Captain Alexander Baxter thus inscribed the gravestone of his daughter Katherine,who died in 1632, in her seventeenth year:—

"Stay, Passenger; no more for Marvels seek,
Among these many Monuments of Death;
For, here a Demi-scot, a Demi-greek
Doth lie, to whom the Cretan Isle gave Birth.
And is it not a wonder? Is it not?
Her Birth and Burial to be so remote.
So falls, by Winter-blasts, a Virgin-rose;
For blotless, spotless, blameless did she die:
As many Virtues Nature did disclose
In her, as oft in greatest Age we see.
Ne're Jason glor'd more in the golden Fleece
Than her brave Sire in bringing her from Grcece."

Eobert Davidson of Balgay, an ancestor of the writer, who died in 1663, was commemorated by his widow in these words :—

"Here you behold great Davidson in Dust
In charges all, was faithful to his trust;
A famous Bailie, greatest was his Praise,
He sober, wise and harmless in his ways;
Sharp Wit and Cheerful Countenance, yea he
A noble Pattern of all Honestie.
To whom his dearest wife caus'd cut this Stone,
For his Memorial lasting and her own."

In the Howff of Dundee, William Playfair, another connexion of the writer, is celebrated thus:—

"Beneath this Stone survivors did inter
The Breathless Corps of William Playfair,
He was not fully eighteen years of age
When he, of flow'ring worth, quit the stage;
Some Golden Beams of Heavenly virtues strove
To hold his life unstain'd—
His thoughts on things above."

The Howff formerly contained a gravestone with the following inscription :—

"Here, in this urne, good Andrew Cochran lies,
Sober and painful, harmless in his ways.
Here also Eupham Couper his dear spouse,
Of good Report, a Monument did chuse.
Both void of Guile; Pairs in Sobriety;
Both loving virtue, with Integrity.
Lastly, who equal were, in holy Life,
Here sleep together, godly Man and Wife."

The memory of Andrew Schippert, haxter burgess of Dundee, who died in 1641, is thus celebrated:—

'"Nathaniel's Heart, Bezaleel's Hand,
If ever any had;
Then boldly may ye say, had he
Who lieth in this Bed."

A marble monument which marked the last resting-place of Bailie Andrew Forrester, of Dundee, bore these lines :—

"My Soul to Heav'n is gone;
My Body made of Clay,
 Lies rotting here under this Stone,
Till the uprising day."

A skipper's gravestone was inscribed thus :—

"Here," underneath this Stone,
Lies Skipper George Adamson,
Who died Anno Eighty-four,
And was of age Three and threescore."

In 1819, a tombstone bearing the following inscription, with the date 1628, was found in the Howff:—

"Epyte Pie, Here ly I,
My twentie bairnes,
My good man & I."

Captain Henry Lyell, of Blackness, was thus celebrated on a tablet in one of the Dundee churches:—

"To Solomon's temple, king Hiram sent from Tyre
Fine cedar-wood; but upon great desire,
This church, thou Henry Lyell, to repair,
Didst freely give all that was necessar;
Tho' th' Syrian king gave Sol'mon towns twice ten,
Thou greater than these all, and best of men."

David Kinloch, a physician, and the descendant of an ancient family, is in the churchyard of Arbroath thus celebrated. He died in 1617:—

"Gallant Kinloch! his famous ancient Race
Appear by this erected on this place;
This Honour great indeed! His Art and skill
And famous Name both sides o' the pole do fill."

A country farmer is thus commemorated on his tombstone in the churchyard of Jetewtyle :—

"Here lies the dust of Robert Small,
Who when in life was thick, not tall;
But what's of greater consequence,
He was endowed with good sense."

Gilbert Quittet, town clerk of Forfar, who died in 1594, was commemorated in the following couplet:—

"Hier Sleeps unto the Secund Lyfe
A Faithful man to Friend and Wyfe."

John Eandal, a publican, was celebrated thus :—

"Here old John Randal lies, who telling of his Tale,
Liv'd threescore years and ten, such Virtue was in ale.
Ale was his meat, ale was his drink, ale did his heart revive;
And if he could have drunk his ale, he still had been alive."

These quaint lines were inscribed on the tombstone of Alexander Speid in a churchyard in Forfarshire:—

"Time flies with speed:
With speed Speid's fled
To the Dark Regions of the dead.
With Speed Consumption's Sorrows flew,
And stopt Speid's speed, for Speid it slew.
Miss Speid beheld with Frantic woe,
Poor Speid with Speed turned pale as snow;
And beat her breast, and tore her hair,
For Speid, Poor Speid was all her care.
Yet learn of Speid with speed to flee
From Sin, since we like Speid must die."

Two unamiable characters have been thus described in their epitaphs:—

"Here he lies, beside a Witch,
Hated both by Poor and Rich.
Where he is, or how he fares,
No-body knows, no-body cares."

"Here fast asleep lies Saunders Scott,
Lang may he snort and snore;
His bains are now in Gorman's pot,
That us'd to strut the streets before.
He liv'd a lude and tastrel Life,
For gude he nae regarded;
His peijur'd clack rais'd mickle strife,
For whilk belike he'll be rewarded.
Ill temper'd Loon, that us'd to snort
When ilk his Neighbour fell in trouble,
His gybes do now lie in the dirt,
To satisfy his brethren double."

Above the gateway of Footdee churchyard, Aberdeen, is the following inscription:—

"George Davidson, elder, civis Aberdonensis,
Bigged thir churchyard dykes upon his own expenses."

A similar inscription is placed on the tombstone of a sailor at Deckford, near Cullen.

Marjery Scott died at Dunkeld in 1728, at the age of an hundred. An epitaph was composed for her by the poet, Alexander Pennecuik. It proceeds thus:—

"Stop, passenger, until my life you read,
The living may get knowledge from the dead.
Five times five years I led a virgin life;
Five times five years I was a virtuous wife;
Ten times five years I lived a widow chaste;
Now tired of this mortal life I rest.
Betwixt my cradle and my grave have been
Eight mighty kings of Scotland and a queen.
Full twice five years the Commonwealth I saw;
Ten times the subjects rise against the law;
And, which is worse than any civil war,
A king arraigned before the subjects' bar;
Swarms of sectarians, hot with hellish rage,
Cut off his royal head upon the stage.
Twice did I see old prelacy pulled down,
And twice the cloak did sing beneath the gown.
I saw the Stuart race thrust out; nay, more,
I saw our country sold for English ore;
Our numerous nobles, who have famous been,
Sunk to the lowly number of sixteen.
Such desolation in my days have been,
I have an end of all perfection seen."

Some other instances of longevity may be quoted. Robert Bain died at Lochee in April, 1867, at the age of 108. At the same age, Charles Craig, a weaver, died at Dundee in 1817. There was living at Glasgow in 1731 one Eobert Lyon, aged 109. He had obtained a new set of teeth, and had recovered his sight in a wonderful manner. The newspaper obituary of the period records the death, on the 19th November, 1731, of William Eadie, sexton of the Canongate, Edinburgh, who had reached his 120th year. He had been a freeman of the city for ninety years, had buried three generations of parishioners, and had married his second wife, a young woman, after he had attained his hundredth year. Peter Garden died at Auchterless, Aberdeenshire, about the year 1780. In his 120th year he married his second wife, and danced gleefully on the occasion. He remembered having seen the Marquis of Montrose, whom he described as "a little black man, who wore a ruff, as the ladies do now-a-days."

The sign-boards and finger-posts of the past generation often exhibited much absurdity of diction. At the entrance of a lane in the Canongate, Edinburgh, a sign-board was inscribed, " Deafness cured down this close every morning between six and eight." At the foot of Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh, a board was exhibited, stating that down the close "ass's milk from the cow " would be had three times a day. On the wall of Newbattle Park a board contained this serious intimation,—"Any person entering these enclosures without permission will be shot and prosecuted." At a spot where several roads branched off from the turnpike, a finger-post contained some directions for tourists, with this addition, "If you cannot read, ask at the blacksmith's shop."

Of the numerous provincial rhymes, the more curious are subjoined. The following eight are connected with the state of the weather:—

"February fills the dyke Either with black or white."

"April showers Mak May flowers."

"March dust and May sun Mak corn white and maidens dun."

"Tin May he oot, Change na a cloot."

"Mist in May and heat in June Mak the harvest richt soon."

"As the day lengthens The cold strengthens."

"A rainbow in 'the morning,—sailors, take warning; A rainbow at night is the sailor's delight."

"The evening red and the morning gray Are the certain signs o' a beautiful day."

There are rhymes descriptive of certain localities. These are specimens:—

"Glasgow for bells,
Lithgow for wells,
Falkirk for beans an' peas."

"Carrick for a man,
Kyle for a coo,
Cunningham for corn an' bere,
And Galloway for woo."

"Ordweil 's a bonny place,
Stands upon the water;
Drakemyre's a scaw'd place,
Rotten tripe and butter."

"Hutton for auld wives,
Broadmeadows for swine;
Paxton for drunken wives
And saumon sae fine."

"Gowkscroft and Barnside,
Windy-wallets fu' o' pride;
Monynut and Laikyshiel,
Plenty milk, plenty meal;
Straphunton mill and Bankend,
Green cheese as rough as bend;
Shannabank and Blackerstane,
Pike the flesh to the bane;
Quixwood and Butterdean,
Fu' o' parritch to the een."

A well-known rhyme is connected with Tintock Hill, in Lanarkshire:—

"On Tintock Tap there is a mist,
And in that mist there is a kist,
And in the kist there is a caup,
And in the caup there is a drap;
Tak up the caup, drink off the drap,
And set the caup on Tintock Tap."

The more remarkable rivers have been associated with rhymes. These are three specimens :—

"A crook o' the Forth
Is worth an earldom o' the north."

"Annan, Tweed, an' Clyde,
Rise a' out o' ae hill-side."

"Prosin, Esk, and Carity,
Meet a' at the birken buss o' Inverarity."

Certain bridges are thus celebrated:—

"Lochtie, Lothrie, Leven, and Orr,
Rin a' through Cameron brig bore."

"The new brig o' Doon, and the auld brig o' Callander,
Four-and-twenty bows in the auld brig o' Callander."

"Brig o' Balgownie, black's your wa',
Wi' a wife's ae son an' a mear's ae foal
Doun ye shall fa'."

With respect to the prophecy embodied in the last of these rhymes, Lord Byron records that, as the only son of his mother, he was deeply impressed by it in boyhood. An Earl of Aberdeen, also the only son of his mother, always dismounted from his horse and walked across Balgownie Bridge, causing the animal to be brought up by his servant.

Prophetic rhymes have maintained a powerful influence on the popular mind. One of those connected with Craig Clatchart, in Fife, predicted that a massive basaltic column, which rose up in front of that rock, would fall upon a nobleman riding on a white horse. About twenty years ago it was found necessary to remove the column during the construction of a line of railway. Before the commencement of operations the late Earl of Leven rode on a white horse in front of the column, with the view of dissipating the popular credulity. It has been stated that an episcopal clergyman at St. Andrews, of the last century, conceived he was the subject of a metrical "saw" to the effect that the ancient wall of the abbey would fall upon the wisest man of the place. He could on no account be persuaded to approach within range of the erection.

The most celebrated prophetic rhyme connected with family concerns is the following relating to an old family in Boxburghshire:—

"Tide, tide, whate'er "betide,
There'll aye be Haigs in Bemersyde."

Certain localities have been celebrated in connection with their staple trades, their physical condition, or the habits of their inhabitants. The following are examples:—

"The sutors o' Selkirk, The Kilmarnock wabsters,
The lang toun o' Kirkcaldy,
Bonny Dundee, Lousie Lauder,
Druckcn Dunblane, Brosie Forfar."

The common saying applied to those who affected gentility, "They're queer folk no to be Falkland folk," bore reference to the superior manners of the people of Falkland, owing to their residing in the immediate vicinity of a royal palace, which was a frequent residence of the sovereign and his court. A person supposed to be overreaching his neighbour was addressed, "Go to Freuchie." The saying seems to have originated from the practice of offending courtiers being dismissed from the neighbourhood of the palace at Falkland to a hamlet several miles off which bears the name.

The inhabitants of different districts are characterized by such expressions as "The men o' the Merse," "The folk o' Fife," and "The bairns o' Falkirk." "Jethart or Jeddart justice" was a proverbial phrase, having reference to the border thieves being frequently banged by the municipal authorities of Jedburgh without receiving the benefit of a trial.

Some Scottish families have been described with reference to the qualities of their more conspicuous members. The following list has been arranged alphabetically:—

The Sturdy Armstrongs,
The trusty Boyds,
The greedy Campbells,
The dirty Dalrymples,
The lying Dicks,
The famous Dicksons,
The lucky Duffs,
The bauld Frasers,
The gallant Grahams,
The haughty Hamiltons,
The handsome Hays,
The muckle-backit Hendersons,
The jingling Jardines,
The gentle Johnstones,
The angry Kerrs,
The light Lindsays,
The black Macraes,
The wild Macraws,
The brave Macdonalds,
The fiery Macintoshes,
The proud Macneils,
The false Monteiths,
The manly Morrisons,
The gentle Neilsons,
The bauld Rutherfords,
The saucy Scotts,
The proud Setons,
The puddling Somervilles,
The worthy Watsons.

Notable persons in country districts have been celebrated with reference to their real or supposed qualities. A farmer's wife in the parish of Foulden, Berwickshire, has been celebrated in these lines:—

"The trusty gudewife o' Whitecornlees,
She never faikit —she never faikit;
She milked the ewes, the bannas she bakit;
She darn'd, she span, she sewed, she shapit;
She kirn'd the kirn, she made the cheese;
She mucked the byre, she riddled the corn;
She carded the woo, she redd up the barn;
She fother'd the pigs and the hens i' the morn,
And ne'er took a minute o' rest or ease;
She made the parritch in hay-time and hairst,
And boilt the kail for the shearers' dinner;
Ye ne'er could wrang her at ony birst,
She was foremost ay, and ay was a winner,
The trusty gudewife o' Whitecornlees."

One Mrs. Christian Bell, who lived somewhere in the Merse, received quite an opposite character from the "gudewife o' Whitecornlees." Thus proceeds the rhyme:—

"Clarty Kirstan's cheese and butter
Wad gie a Hielandman the scunner;
Clarty Kirstan's brose and kail
Wad mak a sow to turn her tail;
Clarty Kirstan's milk and whey
Wad mak you scunner ilka day,
Lapper'd || milk and singit If so wens,
Mauky ff kail wi' mony stowens;
Rampan bread and parritch muddy,
Stinkin' braxy, teugh as wuddy,
Wad staw the deil, or Simon Sivis,
Clarty Kirstan, midden mavis,
Rub your gruntle wi' a docken,
An we'll away and hae our yoken."

The lasses of various parishes in the Merse are thus described:—

"The lasses o' Lauder are mim and meek,
The lasses o' the Fanns smell o' peat reek,
The lasses o' Gordon canna sew a steek,
The lasses o' Earlstoun are bonny and braw,
The lasses o' Greenlaw are black as a craw,
The lasses o' Polwarth are the best o' them a'."

Certain farm homesteads in the parishes of Buncle and Chirnside are also celebrated for their fair maidens:—

"Little Billy, Billy Mill, Billy Mains, and Billy-hill,
Ashfield, and Auchinoraw, Butterhead, and Pefferlaw,
There's bonnie lasses in them a'."

There is an old rhyme, which obtains in many districts, descriptive of the marvellous activities of Sir William Wallace:—

"Wallace wight, upon a nicht,
Coost in a stack o' here,
An' in the morn at fair daylight
It was meltit U for his meare."

Some of the older toasts were sufficiently quaint. "Horn, corn, wool, and yarn," was abundantly comprehensive. "May ne'er waur be amang us;" " Health, wealth, and wit;" " May the moose ne'er leave our meal pock wi' the tear in its e'e," were *Surfeit or disgust.

Some quaint sentiments which delighted rustic assemblies. Some metrical toasts may be quoted:—

"The deil rock them in a creel
Wha dinna wish us a' weel.

"May we a' he canty and cosy,
May each hae a wife in his hosie;
A cosie but an' a cantie ben
To couthie* women and trusty men."

A Scottish author relates that three maiden ladies met annually on the tenth of June to celebrate the birthday of the old Pretender. On the glasses being charged the lady president opened with—

"Here's the king, oor nain king."

The second lady gave—

"Here's to him that has the right,
And yet received the wrang,
Has five shillings in his pouch,
And yet he wants a crown."

Then followed the third, the most thoroughly Jacobite of the triad:—

"Here's to him that's out,
And no to him that pits him out;
And deil turn a' their insides out
That disna drink this toast aboot."

Mr. Reid, of the well-known publishing firm of Bell and Brash, Glasgow, had a remarkable gift of impromptu rhyming. During the agitation consequent on the proceedings of the Addington Administration in regard to the corn laws, he addressed to * Affectionate. t Own.

the Prime Minister an expressive epistle in these lines:—

"I entreat you, Mr. Addington,
Look to the prices at Haddington."

Among Mr. Reid's papers a parcel was found with this docquet,—

"Anent the hobble With Joshua Noble."

Messrs. Dewar and Scott were two rhyming shopkeepers in Edinburgh. They frequently afforded to each other proofs of their mutual predilections. Mr. Scott called on his neighbour, Mr. Dewar, to ask change for a bank note. He said,—

"Mister Scott, Can you change a note?"

Mr. Scott, proceeding to his money-drawer, replied :—

"I'm not quite sure, but I'll see;
Indeed, Mr. Dewar, It's out of my power,
For my wife's away with the key."

Hugo Arnot, the historian of Edinburgh, was the most emaciated specimen of mankind. He published an "Essay on Nothing," which led the Hon. Andrew Erskine (brother of Lord Kellie) to compose, at his expense, the following epigram:—

"To find out where the bent of one's genius lies
Oft puzzles the witty and sometimes the wise.
Tour discernment in this all true critics must find,
Since the subject's so pat to your body and mind."

There is a schoolboy game in Berwickshire in which these lines are repeated:—

"I, Willie Wastle,
Stand firm in my castle,
And a' the dougs in your toun
Can no ding Willie Wastle doun."

According to tradition, this rhyme was sent by Cockburn, the governor of Home Castle, in answer to a summons of surrender sent by tenwick, who commanded a party of Cromwell's soldiers.

Mr. John Boss, minister of Blairgowrie, was remarkable for his quaint utterances in the pulpit. A portion of his parishioners, from a highland and outlying portion of his parish, came to church armed, much to the annoyance of Mr. Boss, who frequently heard of affairs of bloodshed on their homeward journeys. In order to induce them to abandon their weapons, as well as to lower their self-esteem, he used these expressions in the course of a sermon :—

"Ye men o' Mause,
Ye come down wi' dirks an' wi' spears,
But when the mouse in yer tubs drakes her diblet,
Poor beastie, her een fa' in tears."

When tea was first introduced into Scotland, the proper application of the leaf was misunderstood. There are many anecdotes related of farmers' wives boiling the leaves and presenting them to their guests to be eaten with bread and butter. A farmer is thus represented as having had his gift of a pound of tea to his wife most ungratefully received:—

"I coft my wife a pund o' tea,
And boiled it weel as weel could be,
Then chopt it up wi' butter fine,
And made it sweet as saps o' wine;
But still she gloom'd as black's a craw,
And wasna pleas'd wi't after a'."

Bees were formerly reared extensively in Scotland, the produce of the hives constituting an important article of cottage merchandise. Mr. James Playfair, minister of Bendochy, formed the benevolent design of preparing a work on the management of the apiary, which he conceived would prove of essential service to the cottage population. In order that he might dedicate his entire energies to the preparation of the work, he devolved his parochial duties on a substitute, and, regardless of cost, sought everywhere for such information as might elucidate his subject. His volume was at length prepared, and it was about to be issued under the auspices of an eminent publishing house in the metropolis. But an accidental conflagration in the printing office destroyed every portion of the manuscript; and as the reverend author had destroyed his notes, the loss was irreparable. A facetious neighbour, to whom Mr. Playfair had read a portion of his work, said he could so far help him to recall the contents of the consumed manuscript. He remembered the motto:—

"The todler tyke has a very gude hyke,
And sae has the gairy bee;
But leeze me on the little red-doup,
The best o' a' the three."

Some juvenile rhymes may be quoted. When children mount on each other's backs in the playground they are wont to say,—

"Cripple Dick upon a stick,
Sandy on a sow,
Ride awa' to Gallowa'
To buy a pund o' woo."

Herds and shepherds sing these rhymes:—

"Fish guts and stinkin' herrin'
Are bread and milk for an Eyemouth bairn."

"Tweed said to Till,
What gars ye rin sae still
Till said to Tweed,
Though ye rin wi' speed,
An' I rin slaw,
Where ye droun ae man
I droun twa."

"Sunny, sunny shower,
Come an' fa' half an hour;
Gar a' the hens cour,
Gar a' the hares clap,
Gar ilka wife o' Lammermoor,
Put on her kail-pat."

"Rainbow, rainbow, haud away hame,
A' your bairns are dead but ane,
And it is sick at yon grey stane,
And will be dead ere ye win hame;

"Gang owre the Drumaw, and yont the lea,
And down by the side o' yonder sea,
Your, bairn lies greetin' like to die,
And the big tear-drap is in his e'e."

A strong tendency on the part of provincial poets to indulge a vein of sarcasm, at the cost of public persons or obnoxious neighbours, has led to the production of some powerful verses, which, however, cannot be reproduced on account of the private feelings which they have outraged. This unfortunate bent of the Scottish mind should be repressed; it has enkindled the worst resentments, provoked duels, excited litigation, and laid the foundation of bitter and lasting animosities.


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