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Scottish Reminincenses
Chapter XI

Scottish shepherds and their dogs. A snow-storm among the Southern Uplands. Scottish inns of an old type. Reminiscences of some Highland inns. Revival of roadside inns by cyclists. Scottish drink. Drinking customs now obsolete.

The shepherds in the pastoral uplands of the south of Scotland are a strong, active, and intelligent race. I have spent many a happy day among them, living in their little shielings, on the friendliest footing with them, their families, and their dogs. The household at Talla Linnfoot, in Peeblesshire, was a typical sample of one of these families. Wattie Dalgleish, the shepherd there when I first went into the district, was becoming an elderly man, no longer able for the stiff climbs and long walks that were needed to look after the whole of his wide charge. His young and vigorous son was able to relieve him of the more distant ground, which was shared with another man, not of the family, who slept in one of the outhouses. Wattie’s active wife and daughter looked well after the domestic concerns of the household. His laugh had the clear, hearty ring of a frank, honest, and kindly nature. He delighted to recount his experiences of field and fell, and his Doric was pure and racy. One evening I had come up from Tweedsmuir and described to him a man whom I had seen at work there, planing a shutter which he had placed on tressels in the very middle of the road. This worthy wore large round-eyed spectacles, a tattered apron in front of him, and a red-tasselled blue bonnet on his head. The shepherd recognised the man from my description, and at once asked, ‘ And did he speir (enquire) the inside out o’ ye?’ He had certainly put a good many questions. He turned out to be a kind of factotum down the valley of the Tweed—‘barber, cook, upholsterer, what you please *—of whom I afterwards heard much. As among his avocations was that of paper-hanging, he was once employed by a proprietor in Broughton parish to paper a bedroom. In the afternoon, when the master of the house came to see how the work was getting on, he found that the paper had been stuck on the walls just as it came, without the selvages being cut off. ‘Tammas, Tammas,’ exclaimed the laird, ‘ what is the meaning of this? Why have you not cut off these ugly borders?’ Tammas looked at the laird for a moment through his great goggles, and then with a toss of his head remarked, ‘That may be your taste, sir, but on Tweedside we like it best this way,’ and went on with his pasting.

Wattie Dalgleish had a collie which, like himself, was getting somewhat aged, and no longer fit for the severer work of the hill. The dog would accompany him in his short rounds and return early in the afternoon to the cottage. Some hours later I would come back from my rambles, and as I descended the steep slope opposite, and came within old ‘Tweed’s’ sight and hearing, he would signify his recognition of me by a loud barking, which I could always distinguish from other canine performances, for it showed neither surprise nor anger, but had an element of kindly welcome in it. As I drew nearer, the barking underwent a curious change into a sort of short intermittent howl of delight, and as I came up to the enclosure, the dear old creature would burst into a loud guffaw. He was the only dog I ever knew that had what one might fairly call a true honest laugh. And how his tail would wag, as if it would surely be twisted off, while he marched in front of me to announce in his own way that the guest of the family had come back.

There were so many dogs in the household that one could study the idiosyncrasies of canine nature on a basis of some breadth. It struck me then that perhaps there might be more truth than one had been inclined to suppose in Butler’s facetious remark:

As some philosophers Have well observ’d, beasts that converse With man, take after him.

Certainly there did appear to be in that shepherd’s shieling a curious similarity of disposition between the dogs and their respective masters: My old friend ‘Tweed’ was a kind of fourfooted duplicate of the honest Wattie, down even to the hearty laugh. On the other hand, the stranger shepherd had a collie that closely reproduced his own characteristics. The man was sullen and taciturn, did not mingle with the family, but sat apart, and retired soon to his own quarters. The dog usually lay below his master’s chair, refused to fraternise with the other dogs, receiving them with a snarl or growl when they came too near, and marching off with the shepherd when he retired for the night. I tried hard to be on cordial terms with the man, and still harder to ingratiate myself with the dog, but was equally unsuccessful in both directions.

The Talla valley is narrow and deep, the hills rising steeply from 1000 to 1400 feet above the flat alluvial haugh at the bottom, which is about 900 feet above the sea. It must be sadly changed now, when it has become the site of one of the great Edinburgh water-reservoirs. But in the days of which I am speaking it was a lonely sequestered glen, silent save for the bleat of the sheep or the bark of the dogs. In wet weather the wind drove up or down the defile, separating the rain into long vertical shafts, which chased each other like pale spectres. In the narrower tributary gorge of the Gameshope, these ghost-like forms are even more marked, hence they are known in the district as the ‘ White Men of Gameshope.’ Above Talla Linnfoot, the ground rises steeply up into the heights around Loch Skene and the weird hollows of the White Coomb. With my early school-fellow and colleague in the Geological Survey, the late Professor John Young, of Glasgow University, I have wandered into every recess and over every summit of that fascinating ground. On one occasion we extended our ramble to the Yarrow valley, with the intention of spending the night under the hospitable roof of Tibbie Shiels, who was then in still vigorous old age. Next morning we found the ground buried under some six inches of snow, which still continued to fall. As a return over the trackless hills was then impossible, we were shut up for several days, during which we shared in various domestic employments, among the rest in learning to churn butter. Tibbie encouraged us in our labours by various recollections of Wilson, Hogg, and other personages of the Nodes A mbrosianae.

When the storm ceased and the sun shone out again, the whole landscape was white up to the crests of the hills, save St. Mary’s Loch and the Loch of the Lowes, between which the little hostelry stands. These waters were still unfrozen, and wore a look of inky blackness by contrast with the surrounding ground. One unlooked-for effect of the wintry covering was to reveal the surface features of the hills with a clearness never before realised. These uplands in their ordinary guise are so rich in colour, and the distribution of the varying tints has so little relation to the forms of the ground, that most of the minor details of the topography are lost to the eye. But now that colour was wholly eliminated, every little dimple and ridge stood out marked by its delicate violet shadows in the pure white snow.

One of the notabilities of this district was the widow of another shepherd who occupied the little cottage of Birkhill at the head of Moffat-dale. She had not only lost her husband, but her son had been smothered in a snow-drift not many yards from her door. Yet she remained cheerful and contented, with a kindly welcome and a warm fireside for wayfarers who sought her hospitality. Many a time have I slept in the little box-bed in her ‘ben' and partaken of her ‘scones’ and other good cheer. One of my colleagues in the Survey, who made her house his station for weeks at a time, discovered that grouse take some time to get accustomed to the dangers of a wire-fence. Such a line of division between two sheep-farms had been run up the hillside near Birkhill, and the grouse when flying low would strike against the wires and be killed on the spot. Coming down in the evening he used sometimes to bring with him several brace of dead birds, decapitated or otherwise mangled, but none the less a welcome addition to his commissariat.

After my marriage I had occasion to revisit Birkhill, and brought my wife with me. Jenny gave her a kindly greeting, and in parting offered her this piece of friendly advice: ‘Noo, my leddy, ye’ll mind never to anger him, and ye’ll see that he ay has a pair o’ dry stockins to put on when he comes hame at nicht.’ Poor old soul! She had had some experience of stormy scenes under her own roof, and life in these uplands had taught her that wet boots are the common lot of humanity and the beginning of many ailments.

No one who has sojourned for weeks and months among these pastoral hills can fail to have come more or less under their spell. They show none of the grandeur and ruggedness of the Highlands. The hills, on the whole, have smooth, rounded outlines, save here and there, where some crag of grey rock protrudes from the pervading mantle of green bent and purple heath. Yet the topography is sufficiently varied not to become monotonous, while the slopes in every season of the year glow with colour, spread over them like a delicate sheet of enamel. There is beauty enough in the landscape of itself to please, and even here and there to fascinate. Its attractions, however, are infinitely increased by the human associations which cling to every part of the surface, with a halo of legend, romance, and poetry.

Meek loveliness is round it spread,
A softness still and holy;
The grace of forest charms decayed
And pastoral melancholy.

The houses of Tibbie Shiels and Jenny of Birkhill showed the simplest and most rudimentary form of inns. They varied little from the ordinary shepherds’ cottages, the most notable difference being that they sold excisable liquors. They were at least clean, with homely comfort, and simple but wholesome fare.

The want of cleanliness in the Scottish hostelries, even those of the chief towns, in the previous century, is continually referred to by English travellers in the country. Sydney Smith, while praising Scotland and its natives, among whom he made his home near the close of the eighteenth century, confessed that they ‘certainly do not understand cleanliness.’

The inns or change-houses in country districts remained still in a state of grievous untidiness and squalor. To many a village and little town Scott’s lines might have been applied:

Baron o’ Bucklyvie,
The muckle deevil drive ye,
And a’ to pieces rive ye
For biggin’ sic a town,
Where there’s neither man’s meat, nor horse meat,
Nor a chair to sit down.

Nevertheless, already before railways had spread their network across the kingdom, when the country roads were more frequented than now by stage-coaches, post-carriages, and pedestrians, many modest and comfortable little inns had come into existence, and were to be met with by the roadside. These have now unhappily in great measure disappeared, or have sunk into' mere public-houses, kept open only for the sake of selling drink. My impression is that proportionately much more whisky is now consumed by the artizan and labouring classes than in those days when various kinds of light or heavy ale were in demand. The ‘tippeny’ of 'Burns’ time, his ‘reaming swats that drank divinely,’ the ale that ‘ richly brown, reams ower the brink in glorious faem,’ were still familiar forms of ‘Scotch drink.’ But nowadays the labourer no longer ‘sighs for cheerful ale’; when he enters the public-house, it is usually whisky that he calls for.

In my boyhood a custom still prevailed, which I think must now be obsolete—that of placing a ‘spelding,’ or dried salt haddock, beside the glass of ale ordered by a caller at a public-house or roadside inn. Bitter beer had not yet come into vogue in Scotland. Instead of it, all the liquors supplied were of native brewing, from the light ‘tippeny,’ which was a refreshing and innocent drink, up to the strongest Edinburgh ale—a liquor which required to be quaffed with great moderation. When a few drops of it ran down the glass they glued it so firmly to the table that some force was needed to pull it off. The salt fish was, of course, served that it might provoke thirst enough to require more liquid.

Another recollection of these old days brings back the excise-officers who used to be on the watch at the English frontier to examine the luggage of passengers from the north. One of the surviving relics of Scottish independence was to be found in the inland revenue duties, which, as they differed on the two sides of the border until they were equalised in 1855, led to a good deal of smuggling. Whisky was then contraband, and liable to extra duty when taken into England. At that time, this liquor was hardly known south of the Tweed, save to the Scots who imported it from their native country. But now it has made its way everywhere, and has almost completely supplanted the gin that had previously filled its place. It is prescribed by the medical faculty as, on the whole, a safer drink than much of the wine that comes from abroad. The quantity of it made every year is enormously larger than it was fifty years ago. Not only is it to be found everywhere in this country, but on the continent, and indeed wherever English-speaking people travel. If one were asked to name the two most conspicuous gifts which Scotland has made in recent times to the United Kingdom, one could hardly go wrong in answering Whisky and Golf.

There used to be, and probably still are, many quiet, unpretending, but remarkably comfortable little inns in Galloway. The innkeepers were also farmers, and probably in many cases their farms formed the chief and most profitable part of their avocations. Fresh farm produce was supplied to their guests with the amplest liberality—excellent beef and mutton, fowls, eggs, butter, milk, and such cream as one seldom met with in other parts of the country.

A notable reform of the last half century in the Highlands has been seen in the improvement of the inns. I can remember the primitive condition of some of them which have been enlarged into what are now pompously called hotels. Many years ago I had occasion to spend a night or two in one of these antique and uncomfortable houses in Skye. One Sunday morning I was in bed and awake, when the bedroom door was quietly opened, and by degrees a half-dressed female figure stealthily entered. She looked at the bed to see if I were still asleep, and as I kept my eyes half closed, she thought herself unobserved. Stepping gently across to the dressing-table, she opened my razor-case, and having possessed herself of one of the razors, as quietly retreated. I lay conjecturing what use the landlady (for it was she) would make of the implement. Visions of murder floated through my mind, but after a time the door once more opened, and my hostess, as quietly as before, stalked across the room and replaced the razor in the case. She seemed too calm for a murderess, and there had been no noise in the house, but the razor had evidently served some definite purpose. I got up, dressed, and came down to breakfast. My host met me at the foot of the staircase with a smile on his face, which on the previous evening had been ‘ rough and razorable,’ but had now lost its stubbly beard of a week’s growth. I then saw one use at least to which my razor had probably been put Whether the old lady had any further private manipulations of her own in which the implement played a part, I never found out.

One of the defects of the old Skye inns was the absence of any weights to the window-sashes, and commonly also the want of any means of keeping the windows open. The glass was seldom cleaned, though the outside surface was washed more or less clean by the battering of the rain. The doors, too, could not always be fastened, and the visitor who wished to secure privacy might have to barricade the entrance by getting some chairs and his portmanteau piled up against the door. Even these precautions, however, were sometimes of no effect. I was once in an inn at Portree where one of the guests, on awaking in the morning, found another head reposing on the pillow near him. His first impulse was to kick out the intruder, who was sound asleep, but on second thoughts he jumped out of bed and rapidly dressed. Before leaving the room he recognised that the head in question was that of the waiter, who had evidently pushed the door open during the night and got into bed. After taking a walk for an hour the tourist returned to the inn, which he found in great commotion. On enquiring of the landlord, he was told that their waiter, a most respectable and trustworthy man, had disappeared ; he had left his clothes in his own room, and must have gone out and drowned himself in the loch, for they had been searching for him everywhere, and he could not be found either in the house or anywhere else; if it were not the Sabbath they would have the loch dragged for his body, but they would do that next morning. The visitor, after expressing due sympathy with the distress of the household, asked whether they had looked into his bedroom. ‘Your bedroom!’ exclaimed the host somewhat angrily, as if he thought fun were being made of him, on such a solemn occasion, ‘Your bedroom! No, of course we haven’t. What should make us look there?’ ‘Well,’ said his guest, ‘you might at least try.’ And there sure enough was the somnolent waiter, still asleep, and happily unconscious of all the stir he had caused. It then turned out that, unknown to the family at the inn, who had recently engaged him, he was liable to occasional fits of sleep-walking. All’s well that ends well; but the only consolation the injured visitor ever received from the landlord was the remark, ‘What a blessing it was your room; it might else have ruined my business.’

There is a small inn on one of the northwestern sea-lochs, where in the year i860 I spent a night with my old chief, Sir Roderick Murchison. It was in a shocking state of neglect and dirt, with little more in the way of provisions than oatcakes, potatoes, and whisky. It boasted of only one bedroom, which had two beds that did not appear to have been slept in for many a day. Twenty years later I came back to the same inn, hoping that the general improvement would have reached that place too, but I found that as nothing in the way of repair had been done to it in the interval, it was more dilapidated and untidy than ever. I had as a travelling companion a well-known man of science, who, never having been up in that part of Scotland, was glad of the opportunity of seeing it. We occupied the same double-bedded room as I had formerly known. Awaking betimes in the morning, I lay for a while contemplating the ceiling and the undulations and cracks in its plaster. There was a large downward bulge,, like a full-bellied sail, right above my friend’s head. As I was looking at it, this piece of the plaster suddenly gave way and fell in a mass upon him, with a shower of dust all over the bed. Of course he started up in great alarm, but fortunately he had received no serious injury. It was his first experience of a Highland inn of the old type.

A distinct revival of the roadside inn can be traced to the wide spread of' bicycle-riding. Wheelmen appear to be ‘drouthy cronies,’ who are not sorry to halt for a few minutes at an inviting change-house; but many of them take up their quarters for a night at such places, and this demand for sleeping-room has led to the resuscitation of little inns that had almost gone to decay. It is to be hoped that this revival will continue to spread, and that not only will the old inns come to life again, but that new and better houses of entertainment will be erected in parts of the country where the attractions are many, while the accommodation is but scant.

From inns one naturally turns to drink, which forms the theme of so large a proportion of Scottish stories. It must be admitted that this prominence is a sad indication of the extent to which for generations past alcoholic liquors of all kinds have been consumed in the country. I used to imagine that the ‘trade,’ that is, the calling of publican, was in the hands of Scotsmen, who were themselves entirely to blame not only for the drinking, but for the selling of whisky. On a visit to Antrim, however, I learned that others besides natives of Scotland have a share in the traffic. In driving out from Ballymena on an Irish car, my talkative ‘jarvie’ noticed me looking at a new villa that was in course of erection not far from the town.

‘That’ll be a foin place, sorr,’ said he.

‘That’s Mr. O’Donnel’s, sorr.’

‘Who is Mr. O’Donnel?’ I asked.

‘Oh, he was born in Ballymena, and left it when he was a boy. He went abroad and made his fortune, and now he’s come back and he’s bought the tinnant roight of the land and he’s puttin’ up that house and them greenhouses, and plantin’ them trees and layin’ out the garden. Oh, it’ll be a foin place, that it will, sorr.’

‘You say he went abroad; where did he go to?’

‘To Scotland, sorr.’

‘To Scotland! And how did he come to make his fortune there?’

‘Keepin’ public-houses, sorr.’

The question is often asked why so much whisky should be consumed in Scotland. One explanation assigns as the reason the moist, chilly climate of the country, and this cause may perhaps be allowed to have some considerable share in producing the national habit. No small proportion of the spirit, especially in the Highlands, is drunk by men who are certainly not at all drunkards, and who can toss off their glass without being any the worse of it, if, indeed, they are not, as they themselves maintain, a good deal the better. But it must be confessed that, especially among the working classes in the Lowlands, tipsiness is a state of pleasure to be looked forward to with avidity, to be gained as rapidly and maintained as long as possible. To many wretched beings it offers a transient escape from the miseries of life, and brings the only moments of comparative happiness which they ever enjoy. They live a double life—one part in the gloom and hardship of the workaday world, and the other in the dreamland into which whisky introduces them. The blacksmith expressed this view of life who, when remonstrated with by his clergyman for drunkenness, asked if his reverend monitor had himself ever been overcome with drink, and, on receiving a negative reply, remarked: ‘Ah, sir, if ye was ance richt drunk, ye wadna want ever to be sober again.’

The desire of getting quickly intoxicated is perhaps best illustrated among the miners in the great coal-fields. Thus an Ayrshire collier was heard discoursing to his comrades about a novel way he had found out of getting more rapidly drunk: ‘Jist ye putt in thretty draps o’ lowdamer (laudanum) into your glass and ye’re fine an’ fou’ in ten minutes.’ In the same county a publican advertised the potent quality of the liquor he sold by placing in his window a paper with this announcement: ‘Drunk for three bawbees, and mortal for threepence.’ The quality of the whisky is often bad, since much of what is sold is raw-grain spirit, sometimes adulterated with water and then strengthened with some cheap liquid that will give it pungency. There was some truth in the reply of the Highlander to the minister who was warning him against excess, and assuring him that whisky was a very bad thing: ‘’Deed an’ it is, sir, specially baad whusky.’ The mere addition of water would do no harm, rather the reverse; but it would be detected at once by the experienced toper. ‘ This is no’ a godly place at all, at all,’ said a discontented labourer in the Perthshire Highlands. ‘They dinna preach the gospel here—and they wahtter the whusky.’ Strangers are often astonished at the extent of the draughts of undiluted whisky which Highlanders can swallow, without any apparent ill effects. Burt tells us that in his time, that is in the third decade of the eighteenth century, Highland gentlemen could take ‘even three or four quarts at a sitting, and that in general the people that can pay the purchase, drink it without moderation.’ In the year i860, in a walk from Kinlochewe through the mountains to Ullapool, I took with me as a guide an old shepherd who had lived there all his life. The distance, as I wished to go, amounted to thirty miles, mostly of rough, trackless ground, and among the refreshments for the journey a bottle of whisky was included. Not being used to the liquor, I hardly tasted it all day, but when we reached the ferry opposite Ullapool, Simon pitched the empty bottle into the loch. He had practically drunk the whole of its contents, and was as cool and collected as when we started in the morning.

All over the Highlands ‘a glass’ serves as ready-money payment for any small service rendered, such as when a driver has brought a guest to a farm or country-house from some distance, when a workman has completed his repairs and has some miles to walk back to his home, or when a messenger has come from a neighbour and waits to take back your answer. A piper who has marched round behind the chairs of a dinner party at a great Highland laird’s, blowing his pipes till it seems as if the windows should be broken, ends his performance by halting at the side of the lady of the house, to whom is brought and from whom he receives a full glass of the native beverage.

It is a characteristic feature of the Scot that, although usually ready for a glass of whisky, he feigns an unwillingness that it should be poured out for him, or at least deprecates that the glass should be filled up to the top. As an illustration of this national habit, the story may be quoted of two Highlanders who were discussing the merits of a gentleman well known to them both. 'Weel, Sandy, ye may say what ye like, but I think he canna be a nice man, whatefer.’ ‘But what ails ye at him, Donald?’ ‘Weel, then, I’ll just tell ye. I wass in his hoose last week, and he wad be pourin’ me out a glass o’ whusky; and of course I cried out “Stop, stop! ” and wad ye believe it?—he stoppit! ’

To prevent any such unwelcome arrest of the liquor, and at the same time to ‘save the face ’ of the would-be participant, he has been known to arrange beforehand with the host or hostess that, while he is to protest as usual against the glass being poured- out for him, his scruples are to be peremptorily overcome— ‘ye maun gar me tak’ it! ’

Should any untoward incident deprive a man of a glass plainly intended for him, his annoyance may find loud vent. Among curling circles there is a current anecdote of a well-known adept at the ‘ roaring play,’ who used to be distinguished by a remarkable fur cap which covered not only his head, but his ears. Appearing one day without this conspicuous headgear, he was at once questioned by his friends as to the cause of its disappearance. ‘ Ay,’ said he sadly, ‘ ye’ll never see that cap again; it’s been the cause o’ a dreadfu’ accident.’ ‘Accident!’ exclaimed they; ‘where? how? have you been hurt?’ ‘Weel, I’ll no’ just say I’ve been hurtit. But, ye see, the laird o’ Dumbreck, they tell me, was ahint me, and he was offerin’ me a glass of whisky and I never heard him!’

Many stories have been told of the efforts of mistresses of households to avoid the bestowal of strong drink on those employed by them. One of these ladies had supplied a workman with a liberal dinner, but without any whisky or alcoholic liquor. Coming back she found that he had proved a much less efficient trencherman than she supposed he would be, and she rallied him on his bad appetite. His reply was: ‘Weel, mem, I canna eat mair, but it wad dae your heart guid to see me drink.’

A whole volume might be filled with the published anecdotes recording in more or less ludicrous form the effects of whisky. I will only give one or two, which I have never seen in print. A man who was wending his way homeward very unsteadily from a lengthened carouse was heard to address the whisky inside of him, ‘I could ha’ carryit ye easier in a jar.’ The quantity of liquor he had consumed may be imagined from the size of the vessel he required to contain it.

Sir Charles Lyell used to tell with great glee a story from his own county of Forfar, belonging to the days of deep potations, when it was the belief that ‘drinking largely sobers us again.’ A party had met at a country-house, and continued their debauch so long that the laird. Powrie by name, had fallen below the table, while most of the other guests had gone to sleep. Two or three of them, however, who had managed to evade the deepest potations, resolved to play off a trick on the laird. One accordingly climbed up to the roof of the old mansion and, at the risk of his neck, reached the chimney of the diningroom, down which he roared in his loudest voice, ‘Powrie, Powrie, it’s the Day o’ Judgment ’; whereupon the laird was heard, by those outside the door, to raise himself on his elbow and hiccup out, ‘Eh, Lord forgie me, and me fou’.’

A drunken fellow was found lying at the side of the road by a policeman, who asked him for his name. The answer was, “My name is Norval, on the Grampian Hills,”- but Hicks is on the door.’

With the heavy drinking of those days various connected customs have nearly or wholly disappeared. One still meets with old-fashioned gentlemen, especially at public dinners, who take wine with you.’ But the rounds of toasts and sentiments, that must have been such an insufferable burden to our grandfathers and grandmothers, have happily vanished. One of the oddest survivals of these toasts was one I heard proposed by the old landlady of a little inn not far from the scene of the Battle of Drumclog. Belonging to the type of landlord

Who takes his chirping pint and cracks his jokes, she welcomed her chance guests into her roomy and clean kitchen, with its bright coal-fire flanked on either side by an empty arm-chair. Having to spend a night in her house, I was invited to one of these chairs, while she took that on the opposite side of the hearth, and her family attended to the household work. Honoured thus far, I knew my duty would be to call for something ‘ for the good of the house/ and soon found that my worthy hostess was not unwilling to partake of my ‘brew.’ Accordingly I made her a glass of toddy of the strength and sweetness she preferred, which she accepted, with the following preface: ‘Here’s to a’ your fouk an’ a’ oor fouk, an’ a’ the fouk that’s been kind to your fouk an’ oor fouk; an’ if a’ fouk had aye been as kind to fouk as your fouk’s been to oor fouk, there wad aye hae been guid fouk i’ the warld, sin’ fouk’s been fouk.’

The change of dinner customs, however, has led to whimsical incidents of another kind from those of the old days of hard drinking. A story is told in Forfarshire of an inexperienced lad who was improvised to do duty at a dinner party, and was instructed by the lady of the house as to what he was to do with the different wines, particularly as to the claret, of which one kind was to be served with the dinner, and the other, of better quality, with the dessert. When the dessert came, she was dismayed to hear him begin at the far end of the table and ask each guest in a loud voice: ‘Port, sherry, or inferior claaret.’

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