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Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character by Edward Bannerman Ramsay

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beastly stone to h---, I'll break your head." "Well," said the man
quietly, and as if he had received an order which he had to execute, and
without meaning anything irreverent, "aiblins gin it were sent to heevan
_it wad be mair out o' your Lordship's way_."

I think about as cool a Scottish "aside" as I know, was that of the old
dealer who, when exhorting his son to practise honesty in his dealings,
on the ground of its being the "best policy," quietly added, "I _hae
tried baith_"

In this work frequent mention is made of a class of old _ladies_,
generally residing in small towns, who retained till within the memory
of many now living the special characteristics I have referred to. Owing
to local connection, I have brought forward those chiefly who lived in
Montrose and the neighbourhood. But the race is extinct; you might as
well look for hoops and farthingales in society as for such characters
now. You can scarcely imagine an old lady, however quaint, now making
use of some of the expressions recorded in the text, or saying, for the
purpose of breaking up a party of which she was tired, from holding bad
cards, "We'll stop now, bairns; I'm no enterteened;" or urging more
haste in going to church on the plea, "Come awa, or I'll be ower late
for the 'wicked man'"--her mode of expressing the commencement of
the service.

Nothing could better illustrate the quiet pawky style for which our
countrymen have been distinguished, than the old story of the piper and
the wolves. A Scottish piper was passing through a deep forest. In the
evening he sat down to take his supper. He had hardly begun, when a
number of hungry wolves, prowling about for food, collected round him.
In self-defence, the poor man began to throw pieces of his victuals to
them, which they greedily devoured. When he had disposed of all, in a
fit of despair he took his pipes and began to play. The unusual sound
terrified the wolves, which, one and all, took to their heels and
scampered off in every direction: on observing which, Sandy quietly
remarked, "Od, an I'd kenned ye liket the pipes sae weel, I'd a gien ye
a spring _afore_ supper."

This imperturbable mode of looking at the events of life is illustrated
by perhaps the _most_ cautious answer on record, of the Scotsman who,
being asked if he could play the fiddle, warily answered, "He couldna
say, for he had never tried." But take other cases. For example: One
tremendously hot day, during the old stage-coach system, I was going
down to Portobello, when the coachman drew up to take in a gentleman who
had hailed him on the road. He was evidently an Englishman--a fat man,
and in a perfect state of "thaw and dissolution" from the heat and dust.
He wiped himself, and exclaimed, as a remark addressed to the company
generally, "D----d hot it is." No one said anything for a time, till a
man in the corner slily remarked, "I dinna doubt, sir, but it may." The
cautiousness against committing himself unreservedly to any proposition,
however plausible, was quite delicious.

A more determined objection to giving a categorical answer occurred, as
I have been assured, in regard to a more profound question. A party
travelling on a railway got into deep discussion on theological
questions. Like Milton's spirits in Pandemonium, they had

"Reason'd high
Of providence, fore-knowledge, will, and fate--
Fix'd fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute;
And found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost."

A plain Scotsman present seemed much interested in these matters, and
having expressed himself as not satisfied with the explanations which
had been elicited in the course of discussion on a particular point
regarding predestination, one of the party said to him that he had
observed a minister, whom they all knew, in the adjoining compartment,
and that when the train stopped at the next station a few minutes, he
could go and ask _his_ opinion. The good man accordingly availed himself
of the opportunity to get hold of the minister, and lay their difficulty
before him. He returned in time to resume his own place, and when they
had started again, the gentleman who had advised him, finding him not
much disposed to voluntary communication, asked if he had seen the
minister. "O ay," he said, "he had seen him." "And did you propose the
question to him?" "O ay." "And what did he say?" "Oh, he just said he
didna ken; and what was mair he didna _care!_"

I have received the four following admirable anecdotes, illustrative of
dry Scottish pawky humour, from an esteemed minister of the Scottish
Church, the Rev. W. Mearns of Kinneff. I now record them nearly in the
same words as his own kind communication. The anecdotes are as
follow:--An aged minister of the old school, Mr. Patrick Stewart, one
Sunday took to the pulpit a sermon without observing that the first leaf
or two were so worn and eaten away that he couldn't decipher or announce
the text. He was not a man, however, to be embarrassed or taken aback by
a matter of this sort, but at once intimated the state of matters to the
congregation,--"My brethren, I canna tell ye the text, for the mice hae
eaten it; but we'll just begin whaur the mice left aff, and when I come
to it I'll let you ken."

In the year 1843, shortly after the Disruption, a parish minister had
left the manse and removed to about a mile's distance. His pony got
loose one day, and galloped down the road in the direction of the old
glebe. The minister's man in charge ran after the pony in a great fuss,
and when passing a large farm-steading on the way, cried out to the
farmer, who was sauntering about, but did not know what had taken
place--"Oh, sir, did _ye_ see the minister's shault?" "No, no," was the
answer,--"but what's happened?" "Ou, sir, fat do ye think? the
minister's shault's _got lowse_ frae his tether, an' I'm frichtened he's
ta'en the road doun to the auld glebe." "Weel-a-wicht!"--was the shrewd
clever rejoinder of the farmer, who was a keen supporter of the old
parish church, "I wad _na_ wonder at _that_. An' I'se warrant, gin the
minister was gettin' _lowse_ frae _his_ tether, he wad jist tak the
same road."

An old clerical friend upon Speyside, a confirmed bachelor, on going up
to the pulpit one Sunday to preach, found, after giving out the psalm,
that he had forgotten his sermon. I do not know what his objections were
to his leaving the pulpit, and going to the manse for his sermon, but he
preferred sending his old confidential housekeeper for it. He
accordingly stood up in the pulpit, stopped the singing which had
commenced, and thus accosted his faithful domestic:--"Annie; I say,
Annie, _we've_ committed a mistak the day. Ye maun jist gang your waa's
hame, and ye'll get my sermon oot o' my breek-pouch, an' we'll sing to
the praise o' the Lord till ye come back again." Annie, of course, at
once executed her important mission, and brought the sermon out of "the
breek-pouch," and the service, so far as we heard, was completed without
further interruption.

My dear friend, the late Rev. Dr. John Hunter, told me an anecdote very
characteristic of the unimaginative matter-of-fact Scottish view of
matters. One of the ministers of Edinburgh, a man of dry humour, had a
daughter who had for some time passed the period of youth and of
beauty. She had become an Episcopalian, an event which the Doctor
accepted with much good-nature, and he was asking her one day if she did
not intend to be confirmed. "Well," she said, "I don't know. I
understand Mr. Craig always kisses the candidates whom he prepares, and
I could not stand that." "Indeed, Jeanie," said the Doctor slily, "gin
Edward Craig _were_ to gie ye a kiss, I dinna think ye would be muckle
the waur."

Many anecdotes characteristic of the Scottish peasant often turn upon
words and ideas connected with Holy Scripture. This is not to be
considered as in any sense profane or irreverent; but it arises from the
Bible being to the peasantry of an older generation their library--their
only book. We have constant indications of this almost exclusive
familiarity with Scripture ideas. At the late ceremonial in the north,
when the Archbishop of Canterbury laid the foundation of a Bishop's
Church at Inverness, a number of persons, amid the general interest and
kindly feeling displayed by the inhabitants, were viewing the procession
from a hill as it passed along. When the clergy, to the number of sixty,
came on, an old woman, who was watching the whole scene with some
jealousy, exclaimed, at sight of the surplices, "There they go, the
_whited_ sepulchres!" I received another anecdote illustrative of the
same remark from an esteemed minister of the Free Church: I mean of the
hold which Scripture expressions have upon the minds of our Scottish
peasantry. One of his flock was a sick nervous woman, who hardly ever
left the house. But one fine afternoon, when she was left alone, she
fancied she would like to get a little air in the field adjoining the
house. Accordingly she put on a bonnet and wrapped herself in a huge
red shawl. Creeping along the dyke-side, some cattle were attracted
towards her, and first one and then another gathered round, and she took
shelter in the ditch till she was relieved by some one coming up to her
rescue. She afterwards described her feelings to her minister in strong
language, adding, "And eh, sir! when I lay by the dyke, and the beasts
round a' glowerin' at me, I thocht what Dauvid maun hae felt when he
said--'Many bulls have compassed me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset
me round.'"

With the plainness and pungency of the old-fashioned Scottish language
there was sometimes a coarseness of expression, which, although commonly
repeated in the Scottish drawing-room of last century, could not now be
tolerated. An example of a very plain and downright address of a laird
has been recorded in the annals of "Forfarshire Lairdship." He had
married one of the Misses Guthrie, who had a strong feeling towards the
Presbyterian faith in which she had been brought up, although her
husband was one of the zealous old school of Episcopalians. The young
wife had invited her old friend, the parish minister, to tea, and had
given him a splendid "_four hours."_ Ere the table was cleared the laird
came in unexpectedly, and thus expressed his indignation, not very
delicately, at what he considered an unwarrantable exercise of
hospitality at his cost:--"Helen Guthrie, ye'll no think to save yer ain
saul at the expense of my meal-girnel!"

The answer of an old woman under examination by the minister to the
question from the Shorter Catechism--"What are the _decrees_ of God?"
could not have been surpassed by the General Assembly of the Kirk, or
even the Synod of Dort--"Indeed, sir, He kens that best Himsell." We
have an answer analogous to that, though not so pungent, in a catechumen
of the late Dr. Johnston of Leith. She answered his own question,
patting him on the shoulder--"'Deed, just tell it yersell, _bonny_
doctor (he was a very handsome man); naebody can tell it better."

To pass from the answers of "persons come to years of discretion"--I
have elsewhere given examples of peculiar traits of character set forth
in the answers of mere _children_, and no doubt a most amusing
collection might be made of very juvenile "Scottish Reminiscences." One
of these is now a very old story, and has long been current amongst
us:--A little boy who attended a day-school in the neighbourhood, when
he came home in the evening was always asked how he stood in his own
class. The invariable answer made was, "I'm second dux," which means in
Scottish academical language second from the top of the class. As his
habits of application at home did not quite bear out the claim to so
distinguished a position at school, one of the family ventured to ask
what was the number in the class to which he was attached. After some
hesitation he was obliged to admit: "Ou, there's jist me and _anither_
lass." It was a very _practical_ answer of the little girl, when asked
the meaning of "darkness," as it occurred in Scripture reading--"Ou,
just steek your een." On the question, What was the "pestilence that
walketh in darkness"? being put to a class, a little boy answered, after
consideration--"Ou, it's just _bugs_." I did not anticipate when in a
former edition I introduced this answer, which I received from my nephew
Sir Alexander Ramsay, that it would call forth a comment so interesting
as one which I have received from Dr. Barber of Ulverston. He sends me
an extract from Matthew's _Translation of the Bible_, which he received
from Rev. L.R. Ayre, who possesses a copy of date 1553, from which it
appears that Psalm xci. 5 was thus translated by Matthew, who adopted
his translation from Coverdale and Tyndale:--"So that thou shalt not
need to be afrayed for any bugge by nyght, nor for the arrow that flyeth
by day[16]." Dr. Barber ingeniously remarks--"Is it possible the little
boy's mother had one of these old Bibles, or is it merely a

The innocent and unsophisticated answers of children on serious subjects
are often very amusing. Many examples are recorded, and one I have
received seems much to the point, and derives a good deal of its point
from the Scottish turn of the expressions. An elder of the kirk having
found a little boy and his sister playing marbles on Sunday, put his
reproof in this form, not a judicious one for a child:--"Boy, do ye know
where children go to who play marbles on Sabbath-day?" "Ay," said the
boy, "they gang doun' to the field by the water below the brig." "No,"
roared out the elder, "they go to hell, and are burned." The little
fellow, really shocked, called to his sister, "Come awa', Jeanie, here's
a man swearing awfully."

A Scotch story like that of the little boy, of which the humour
consisted in the dry application of the terms in a sense different from
what was intended by the speaker, was sent to me, but has got spoilt by
passing through the press. It must be Scotch, or at least, is composed
of Scottish materials--the Shorter Catechism and the bagpipes. A piper
was plying his trade in the streets, and a strict elder of the kirk,
desirous to remind him that it was a somewhat idle and profitless
occupation, went up to him and proposed solemnly the first question of
the Shorter Catechism, "What is the chief end of man?" The good piper,
thinking only of his own business, and supposing that the question had
reference to some pipe melody, innocently answered, "Na, I dinna ken the
tune, but if ye'll whistle it I'll try and play it for ye."

I have said before, and I would repeat the remark again and again, that
the object of this work is _not_ to string together mere funny stories,
or to collect amusing anecdotes. We have seen such collections, in which
many of the anecdotes are mere Joe Millers translated into Scotch. The
purport of these pages has been throughout to illustrate Scottish life
and character, by bringing forward those modes and forms of expression
by which alone our national peculiarities can be familiarly illustrated
and explained. Besides Scottish replies and expressions which are most
characteristic--and in fact unique for dry humour, for quaint and
exquisite wit--I have often referred to a consideration of dialect and
proverbs. There can be no doubt there is a force and beauty in our
Scottish _phraseology_, as well as a quaint humour, considered merely
_as_ phraseology, peculiar to itself. I have spoken of the phrase "Auld
langsyne," and of other words, which may be compared in their Anglican
and Scottish form. Take the familiar term common to many singing-birds.
The English word linnet does not, to my mind, convey so much of simple
beauty and of pastoral ideas as belong to our Scottish word LINTIE.

I recollect hearing the Rev. Dr. Norman Macleod give a most interesting
account of his visit to Canada. In the course of his eloquent narrative
he mentioned a conversation he had with a Scottish emigrant, who in
general terms spoke favourably and gratefully of his position in his
adopted country. But he could not help making this exception when he
thought of the "banks and braes o' bonny Doon"--"But oh, sir," he said,
"there are nae _linties_ i' the wuds." How touching the words in his own
dialect! The North American woods, although full of birds of beautiful
plumage, it is well known have no singing-birds.

A worthy Scottish Episcopal minister one day met a townsman, a breeder
and dealer in singing-birds. The man told him he had just had a child
born in his family, and asked him if he would baptize it. He thought the
minister could not resist the offer of a bird. "Eh, Maister Shaw," he
said, "if ye'll jist do it, I hae a fine lintie the noo, and if ye'll do
it, I'll gie ye the lintie." He quite thought that this would settle
the matter!

By these remarks I mean to express the feeling that the word _lintie_
conveys to my mind more of tenderness and endearment towards the little
songster than linnet. And this leads me to a remark (which I do not
remember to have met with) that Scottish dialects are peculiarly rich in
such terms of endearment, more so than the pure Anglican. Without at all
pretending to exhaust the subject, I may cite the following as examples
of the class of terms I speak of. Take the names for parents--"Daddie"
and "Minnie;" names for children, "My wee bit lady" or "laddie," "My wee
bit lamb;" of a general nature, "My ain kind dearie." "Dawtie,"
especially used to young people, described by Jamieson a darling or
favourite, one who is _dawted_--_i.e._ fondled or caressed. My "joe"
expresses affection with familiarity, evidently derived from _joy_, an
easy transition--as "My joe, Janet;" "John Anderson, my joe, John." Of
this character is Burns's address to a wife, "My winsome"--_i.e._
charming, engaging--"wee thing;" also to a wife, "My winsome
marrow"--the latter word signifying a dear companion, one of a pair
closely allied to each other; also the address of Rob the Ranter to
Maggie Lauder, "My bonnie bird." Now, we would remark, upon this
abundant nomenclature of kindly expressions in the Scottish dialect,
that it assumes an interesting position as taken in connection with the
Scottish Life and _Character_, and as a set-off against a frequent short
and _grumpy_ manner. It indicates how often there must be a current of
tenderness and affection in the Scottish heart, which is so frequently
represented to be, like its climate, "stern and wild." There could not
be such _terms_ were the feelings they express unknown. I believe it
often happens that in the Scottish character there is a vein of deep and
kindly feeling lying hid under a short, and hard and somewhat stern
manner. Hence has arisen the Scottish saying which is applicable to such
cases--"His girn's waur than his bite:" his disposition is of a softer
nature than his words and manner would often lead you to suppose.

There are two admirable articles in _Blackwood's Magazine,_ in the
numbers for November and December 1870, upon this subject. The writer
abundantly vindicates the point and humour of the Scottish tongue. Who
can resist, for example, the epithet applied by Meg Merrilies to an
unsuccessful probationer for admission to the ministry:--"a sticket
stibbler"? Take the sufficiency of Holy Scripture as a pledge for any
one's salvation:--"There's eneuch between the brods o' the Testament to
save the biggest sinner i' the warld." I heard an old Scottish
Episcopalian thus pithily describe the hasty and irreverent manner of a
young Englishman:--"He ribbled aff the prayers like a man at the heid o'
a regiment." A large family of young children has been termed "a great
sma' family." It was a delicious dry rejoinder to the question--"Are you
Mr. So-and-so?" "It's a' that's o' me" (_i.e._ to be had for him.) I
have heard an old Scottish gentleman direct his servant to mend the fire
by saying, "I think, Dauvid, we wadna be the waur o' some coals."

There is a pure Scottish term, which I have always thought more
expressive than any English word of ideas connected with manners in
society--I mean the word to blether, or blethering, or blethers.
Jamieson defines it to "talk nonsense." But it expresses far more--it
expresses powerfully, to Scottish people, a person at once shallow,
chattering, conceited, tiresome, voluble.

There is a delicious servantgirlism, often expressed in an answer given
at the door to an inquirer: "Is your master at home, or mistress?" as
the case may be. The problem is to save the direct falsehood, and yet
evade the visit; so the answer is--"Ay, he or she is at hame; but
he's no _in_"

The transition from Scottish _expressions_ to Scottish Poetry is easy
and natural. In fact, the most interesting feature now belonging to
Scottish life and social habits is, to a certain extent, becoming with
many a matter of reminiscence of _Poetry in the Scottish dialect_, as
being the most permanent and the most familiar feature of Scottish
characteristics. It is becoming a matter of history, in so far as we
find that it has for some time ceased to be cultivated with much
ardour, or to attract much popularity. In fact, since the time of
Burns, it has been losing its hold on the public mind. It is a
remarkable fact that neither Scott nor Wilson, both admirers of Burns,
both copious writers of poetry themselves, both also so distinguished as
writers of Scottish _prose_, should have written any poetry strictly in
the form of pure Scottish dialect. "Jock o' Hazeldean" I hardly admit to
be an exception. It is not Scottish. If, indeed, Sir Walter wrote the
scrap of the beautiful ballad in the "Antiquary"--

"Now haud your tongue, baith wife and carle,
And listen, great and sma',
And I will sing of Glenallan's Earl,
That fought at the red Harlaw"--

one cannot but regret that he had not written more of the same.
Campbell, a poet and a Scotsman, has not attempted it. In short, we do
not find poetry in the Scottish dialect at all _kept up_ in Scotland. It
is every year becoming more a matter of research and reminiscence.
Nothing new is added to the old stock, and indeed it is surprising to
see the ignorance and want of interest displayed by many young persons
in this department of literature. How few read the works of Allan
Ramsay, once so popular, and still so full of pastoral imagery! There
are occasionally new editions of the _Gentle Shepherd_, but I suspect
for a limited class of readers. I am assured the boys of the High
School, Academy, etc., do not care even for Burns. As poetry in the
Scottish dialect is thus slipping away from the public Scottish mind, I
thought it very suitable to a work of this character to supply a list of
modern _Scottish dialect writers_. This I am able to provide by the
kindness of our distinguished antiquary, Mr. David Laing--the fulness
and correctness of whose acquirements are only equalled by his
readiness and courtesy in communicating his information to others:--


ALLAN RAMSAY. B. 1686. D. 1757. His _Gentle Shepherd_, completed in
1725, and his _Collected Poems_ in 1721-1728.

It cannot be said there was any want of successors, however obscure,
following in the same track. Those chiefly deserving of notice were--

ALEXANDER Ross of Lochlee. B. 1700. D. 1783. _The Fortunate

ROBERT FERGUSSON. B. 1750. D. 1774. _Leith Races, Caller Oysters_, etc.

REV. JOHN SKINNER. B. 1721. D. 1807. _Tullochgorum_.

ROBERT BURNS. B. 1759. D. 1796.

ALEXANDER, FOURTH DUKE OF GORDON. B. 1743. D. 1827. _Cauld Kail in

ALEXANDER WILSON of Paisley, who latterly distinguished himself as an
American ornithologist. B. 1766. D. 1813. _Watty and Meg_.

HECTOR MACNEILL. B. 1746. D. 1818. _Will and Jean_.

ROBERT TANNAHILL. B. 1774. D. 1810. _Songs_.

JAMES HOGG. B. 1772. D. 1835.

ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. B. 1784. D. 1842.

To this list we must add the names of Lady Nairne and Lady Anne Lindsay.
To the former we are indebted for "The Land o' the Leal," "The Laird o'
Cockpen," and "The Auld Hoose;" to the latter for "Auld Robin Gray:"
and our wonder is, how those who could write so charmingly should have
written so little.

I have no intention of discussing the general question of Scottish
poetry--of defending or eulogising, or of apologising for anything
belonging to it. There are songs in broad Scottish dialect of which the
beauty and the power will never be lost. Words of Burns, Allan Ramsay,
and Lady Nairne, must ever speak to hearts that are true to nature. I am
desirous of bringing before my readers at this time the name of a
Scottish poet, which, though in Mr. Laing's list, I fear is become
rather a reminiscence. It is fifty years since his poetical pieces were
published in a collected form. I am desirous of giving a special notice
of a true-hearted Scotsman, and a genuine Scottish poet, under both
characters. I look with a tender regard to the memory of the Rev. JOHN
SKINNER of Langside. He has written little in quantity, but it is all
charming. He was a good Christian minister. He was a man of learning--a
man of liberal and generous feeling. In addition to all this, he has
upon me the claim of having been a Scottish Episcopalian divine, and I
am always rejoiced to see among learned men of our church sympathies
with liberalism, besides what is patristic and theological. John
Skinner's name and family are much mixed up with our church.
'Tullochgorum' was father of Primus John Skinner, and grandfather of
Primus W. Skinner and of the Rev. John Skinner of Forfar. The youngest
brother of Tullochgorum was James Skinner, W.S., who died at ninety-one,
and was grandfather of W. Skinner, W.S., Edinburgh. The Rev. J. Skinner
was born in Birse, a wild part of Aberdeenshire, 1721. His father was
parochial schoolmaster at Gight for nearly fifty years. He worked hard
under the care of his father, who was a good Latin scholar. He gained a
bursary at Aberdeen, where he studied. When he left college he became
schoolmaster at Monymusk, where he wrote some pieces that attracted
attention, and Sir Archibald Grant took him into the house, and allowed
him the full use of a very fine library. He made good use of this
opportunity, and indeed became a fair scholar and theologian. Skinner
had been brought up a Presbyterian, but at Monymusk found reasons for
changing his views. In June 1740 he became tutor to the only son of Mrs.
Sinclair in Shetland. Returning to Aberdeenshire in 1741, he completed
his studies for the ministry, was ordained by Bishop Dunbar, and in 1742
became pastor of Langside. He worked for this little congregation for
nearly sixty-five years, and they were happy and united under his
pastoral charge. One very interesting incident took place during his
ministry, which bears upon our general question of reminiscences and
changes. John Skinner was in his own person an example of that
persecution for political opinion referred to in Professor Macgregor's
account of the large prayer-book in the library at Panmure. After the
'45, Episcopalians were treated with suspicion and severity. The severe
laws passed against Jacobites were put in force, and poor Skinner fined.

However, better and more peaceful times came round, and all that John
Skinner had undergone did not sour his temper or make him severe or
misanthropical. As a pastor he seems to have had tact, as well as good
temper, in the management of his flock, if we may judge from the
following anecdote:--Talking with an obstinate self-confident farmer,
when the conversation happened to turn on the subject of the motion of
the earth, the farmer would not be convinced that the earth moved at
all. "Hoot, minister," the man roared out; "d'ye see the earth never
gaes oot o' the pairt, and it maun be that the sun gaes round: we a' ken
he rises i' the east and sets i' the west." Then, as if to silence all
argument, he added triumphantly, "As if the sun didna gae round the
earth, when it is said in Scripture that the Lord commanded the sun to
stand still!" Mr. Skinner, finding it was no use to argue further,
quietly answered, "Ay, it's vera true; the sun was commanded to stand
still, and there he stands still, for Joshua never tauld him to tak the
road again." I have said John Skinner wrote little Scottish poetry, but
what he wrote was rarely good. His prose works extended over three
volumes when they were collected by his son, the Bishop of Aberdeen, but
we have no concern with them. His poetical pieces, by which his name
will never die in Scotland, are the "Reel of Tullochgorum" and the "Ewie
with the Crooked Horn," charming Scottish songs,--one the perfection of
the lively, the other of the pathetic. It is quite enough to say of
"Tullochgorum" (by which the old man is now always designated), what was
said of it by Robert Burns, as "the first of songs," and as the best
Scotch song Scotland ever saw.

I have brought in the following anecdote, exactly as it appeared in the
_Scotsman_ of October 4, 1859, because it introduces his name.

"The late Rev. John Skinner, author of 'Annals of Scottish Episcopacy,'
was his grandson. He was first appointed to a charge in Montrose, from
whence he was removed to Banff, and ultimately to Forfar. After he had
left Montrose, it reached his ears that an ill-natured insinuation was
circulating there that he had been induced to leave this town by the
temptation of a better income and of fat pork, which, it would appear,
was plentiful in the locality of his new incumbency. Indignant at such
an aspersion, he wrote a letter, directed to his maligners, vindicating
himself sharply from it, which he showed to his grandfather, John
Skinner of Langside, for his approval. The old gentleman objected to it
as too lengthy, and proposed the following pithy substitute:--

"'Had Skinner been of carnal mind,
As strangely ye suppose,
Or had he even been fond of swine,
He'd ne'er have left Montrose.'"

But there is an anecdote of John Skinner which should endear his memory
to every generous and loving heart. On one occasion he was passing a
small dissenting place of worship at the time when the congregation were
engaged in singing: on passing the door--old-fashioned Scottish
Episcopalian as he was--he reverently took off his hat. His companion
said to him, "What! do you feel so much sympathy with this Anti Burgher
congregation?" "No," said Mr. Skinner, "but I respect and love any of my
fellow-Christians who are engaged in singing to the glory of the Lord
Jesus Christ." Well done, old Tullochgorum! thy name shall be loved and
honoured by every true liberal-minded Scotsman.

Yes! Mr. Skinner's experience of the goodness of God and of the power of
grace, had led him to the conviction that the earnest song of praise,
that comes from the heart of the sincere believer in Christ, can go up
to Heaven from the humblest earthly house of prayer, and be received
before the throne of grace as acceptably as the high and solemn service
of the lofty cathedral,

"Where, from the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise."

We must firmly believe that, obsolete as the dialect of Scotland may
become, and its words and expressions a matter of tradition and of
reminiscence with many, still there are Scottish lines, and broad
Scottish lines, which can never cease to hold their place in the
affections and the admiration of innumerable hearts whom they have
charmed. Can the choice and popular Scottish verses, endeared to us by
so many kindly associations of the past, and by so many beauties and
poetical graces of their own, ever lose their attractions for a Scottish
heart? The charm of such strains can never die.

I think one subsidiary cause for permanency in the popularity still
belonging to particular Scottish _songs_ has proceeded from their
association with Scottish _music_. The melodies of Scotland can never
die. In the best of these compositions there is a pathos and a feeling
which must preserve them, however simple in their construction, from
being vulgar or commonplace. Mendelssohn did not disdain taking Scottish
airs as themes for the exercise of his profound science and his
exquisite taste. It must, I think, be admitted that singing of Scottish
songs in the perfection of their style--at once pathetic, graceful, and
characteristic--is not so often met with as to remove all apprehension
that ere long they may become matters only of reminiscence. Many
accomplished musicians often neglect entirely the cultivation of their
native melodies, under the idea of their being inconsistent with the
elegance and science of high-class music. They commit a mistake. When
judiciously and tastefully performed, it is a charming style of music,
and will always give pleasure to the intelligent hearer. I have heard
two young friends, who have attained great skill in scientific and
elaborate compositions, execute the simple song of "Low down in the
Broom," with an effect I shall not easily forget. Who that has heard the
Countess of Essex, when Miss Stephens, sing "Auld Robin Gray," can ever
lose the impression of her heart-touching notes? In the case of "Auld
Robin Gray," the song composed by Lady Anne Lindsay, although very
beautiful in itself, has been, I think, a good deal indebted to the air
for its great and continued popularity. The history of that tender and
appropriate melody is somewhat curious, and not generally known. The
author was _not_ a Scotsman. It was composed by the Rev. Mr. Leves,
rector of Wrington in Somersetshire, either early in this century or
just at the close of the last. Mr. Leves was fond of music, and composed
several songs, but none ever gained any notice except his "Auld Robin
Gray," the popularity of which has been marvellous. I knew the family
when I lived in Somersetshire, and had met them in Bath. Mr. Leves
composed the air for his daughter, Miss Bessy Leves, who was a pretty
girl and a pretty singer.

I cannot but deeply regret to think that I should in these pages have
any ground for classing Scottish poetry and Scottish airs amongst
"Reminiscences." It is a department of literature where, of course,
there must be _selection_, but I am convinced it will repay a careful
cultivation. I would recommend, as a copious and judicious selection of
Scottish _tunes_, "The Scottish Minstrel," by R.A. Smith (Purdie,
Edinburgh). There are the _words_, also, of a vast number of Scottish
songs, but the account of their _authorship_ is very defective. Then,
again, for the fine Scottish ballads of an older period, we have two
admirable collections--one by Mr. R. Chambers, and one by the late
Professor Aytoun. For Scottish dialect songs of the more modern type, a
copious collection will be found (exclusive of Burns and Allan Earn say)
in small volumes published by David Robertson, Glasgow, at intervals
from 1832 to 1853, under the title of _Whistlebinkie_.

But there are more than lines of Scottish poetry which may become matter
of reminiscence, and more than Scottish song melodies which may be
forgotten. There are strains of Scottish PSALMODY of which it would be
more sad to think that _they_ possibly may have lost their charm and
their hold with Scottish people. That such psalmody, of a peculiar
Scottish class and character, _has_ existed, no one can doubt who has
knowledge or recollection of past days. In glens and retired passes,
where those who fled from persecution met together--on the moors and
heaths, where men suffering for their faith took refuge--in the humble
worship of the cottar's fireside--were airs of sacred Scottish melody,
which were well calculated to fan the heavenward flame which was kindled
in lays of the "sweet Psalmist of Israel." These psalm-tunes are in
their way as peculiar as the song-tunes we have referred to. Nothing can
be more touching than the description by Burns of the domestic psalmody
of his father's cottage. Mr. E. Chambers, in his _Life of Burns_,
informs us that the poet, during his father's infirmity and after his
death, had himself sometimes conducted family worship. Happy days, ere
he had encountered the temptations of a world in which he had too often
fallen before the solicitations of guilty passion! and then, beautifully
does he describe the characteristic features of this portion of the
cottars worship. How solemnly he enumerates the psalm-tunes usually made
use of on such occasions, and discriminates the character of each:--

"They chant their artless notes in simple guise;
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim:
Perhaps DUNDEE'S wild warbling measures rise,
Or plaintive MARTYRS, worthy of the name,
Or noble ELGIN beets[17] the heavenward flame."

He was not, alas! always disposed in after life to reverence these
sacred melodies as he had done in his youthful days. In his poem of "The
Holy Fair," he less reverently adduces mention of these sacred airs:--

"Now turn the Psalms o' David ower,
And lilt wi' holy clangour.
O' double verse come gie us four,
An' skirl up the Bangor."

These tunes seem to have been strictly and exclusively national. In
proof of such psalmody being quite national, I have been told that many
of these tunes were composed by artisans, such as builders, joiners,
blacksmiths, etc.

Several of the psalm-tunes more peculiar to Scotland are no doubt of an
early date. In Ravenscroft's _Psalms_, published with the music in four
parts in 1621, he gives the names of seven as purely Scottish--_King's,
Duke's, Abbey, Dunfermline, Dundee, Glasgow, Martyrs._ I was used to
hear such psalmody in my early days in the parish church of Fettercairn,
where we always attended during summer. It had all the simple
characteristics described by Burns, and there was a heartiness and
energy too in the congregation when, as he expresses it, they used to
"skirl up the Bangor," of which the effects still hang in my
recollection. At that time there prevailed the curious custom, when some
of the psalms were sung, of reading out a single line, and when that was
sung another line was read, and so throughout[18]. Thus, on singing the
50th psalm, the first line sounded thus:--"_Our God shall come, and
shall no more;_" when that was sung, there came the next startling
announcement--"_Be silent, but speak out._" A rather unfortunate
_juxtaposition_ was suggested through this custom, which we are assured
really happened in the church of Irvine. The precentor, after having
given out the first line, and having observed some members of the family
from the castle struggling to get through the crowd on a sacramental
occasion, cried out, "Let the noble family of Eglinton pass," and then
added the line which followed the one he had just given out rather
mal-apropos--"_Nor stand in sinners' way_." One peculiarity I remember,
which was, closing the strain sometimes by an interval less than a
semitone; instead of the half-note preceding the close or key-note, they
used to take the _quarter-note,_ the effect of which had a peculiar
gurgling sound, but I never heard it elsewhere. It may be said these
Scottish tunes were unscientific, and their performance rude. It may be
so, but the effect was striking, as I recall it through the vista of
threescore years and ten. Great advances, no doubt, have been made in
Scotland in congregational psalmody; organs have in some instances been
adopted; choirs have been organised with great effort by choirmasters of
musical taste and skill. But I hope the spirit of PIETY, which in past
times once accompanied the old Scottish psalm, whether sung in the
church or at home, has not departed with the music. Its better emotions
are not, I hope, to become a "Reminiscence."

There was no doubt sometimes a degree of noise in the psalmody more than
was consistent with good taste, but this often proceeded from the
earnestness of those who joined. I recollect at Banchory an honest
fellow who sang so loud that he annoyed his fellow-worshippers, and the
minister even rebuked him for "skirling" so loud. James was not quite
patient under these hints, and declared to some of his friends that he
was resolved to sing to the praise of God, as he said, "gin I should
crack the waas o' the houss."

Going from sacred tunes to sacred words, a good many changes have taken
place in the little history of our own psalmody and hymnology. When I
first came to Edinburgh, for psalms we made use of the mild and vapid
new version of Tate and Brady;--for hymns, almost each congregation had
its own selection--and there were hymn-books of Dundee, Perth, Glasgow,
etc. The Established Church used the old rough psalter, with paraphrases
by Logan, etc., and a few hymns added by authority of the General
Assembly. There seems to be a pretty general tendency in the Episcopal
Church to adopt at present the extensive collection called "Hymns
Ancient and Modern," containing 386 pieces. Copies of the words alone
are to be procured for one penny, and the whole, with tunes attached, to
be procured for 1_s_. 6_d_. The Hymns Ancient and Modern are not set
forth with any Ecclesiastical sanction. It is supposed, however, that
there will be a Hymnal published by the Church of England on authority,
and if so, our Church will be likely to adopt it. The Established
Church Hymnal Committee have lately sanctioned a very interesting
collection of 200 pieces. The compilation has been made with liberality
of feeling as well as with good taste. There are several of Neale's
translations from mediaeval hymns, several from John Keble, and the
whole concludes with the Te Deum taken literally from the Prayer-Book.

This mention of Scottish Psalmody and Scottish Hymnology, whether for
private or for public worship, naturally brings us to a very important
division of our subject; I mean the general question of reminiscences of
Scottish religious feelings and observances; and first in regard to
Scottish clergy.

My esteemed friend, Lord Neaves, who, it is well known, combines with
his great legal knowledge and high literary acquirements a keen sense of
the humorous, has sometimes pleasantly complained of my drawing so many
of my specimens of Scottish humour from sayings and doings of Scottish
ministers. They were a shrewd and observant race. They lived amongst
their own people from year to year, and understood the Scottish type of
character. Their retired habits and familiar intercourse with their
parishioners gave rise to many quaint and racy communications. They were
excellent men, well suited to their pastoral work, and did much good
amongst their congregations; for it should be always remembered that a
national church requires a sympathy and resemblance between the pastors
and the flocks. Both will be found to change together. Nothing could be
further from my mind in recording these stories, than the idea of
casting ridicule upon such an order of men. My own feelings as a
Scotsman, with all their ancestral associations, lead me to cherish
their memory with pride and deep interest, I may appeal also to the
fact that many contributions to this volume are voluntary offerings from
distinguished clergymen of the Church of Scotland, as well as of the
Free Church and of other Presbyterian communities. Indeed, no persons
enjoy these stories more than ministers themselves. I recollect many
years ago travelling to Perth in the old stage-coach days, and enjoying
the society of a Scottish clergyman, who was a most amusing companion,
and full of stories, the quaint humour of which accorded with his own
disposition. When we had come through Glen Farg, my companion pointed
out that we were in the parish of Dron. With much humour he introduced
an anecdote of a brother minister not of a brilliant order of mind, who
had terminated in this place a course of appointments in the Church, the
names of which, at least, were of an ominous character for a person of
unimaginative temperament. The worthy man had been brought up at the
school of _Dunse_; had been made assistant at _Dull_, a parish near
Aberfeldy, in the Presbytery of Weem; and had here ended his days and
his clerical career as minister of _Dron_.

There can be no doubt that the older school of national clergy supply
many of our most amusing anecdotes; and our pages would suffer
deplorably were all the anecdotes taken away which turn upon their
peculiarities of dialect and demeanour. I think it will be found,
however, that upon no class of society has there been a greater change
during the last hundred years than on the Scottish clergy as a body.
This, indeed, might, from many circumstances, have been expected. The
improved facilities for locomotion have had effect upon the retirement
and isolation of distant country parishes, the more liberal and extended
course of study at Scottish colleges, the cheaper and wider diffusion
of books on general literature, of magazines, newspapers, and reviews.
Perhaps, too, we may add that candidates for the ministry now more
generally originate from the higher educated classes of society. But
honour to the memory of Scottish ministers of the days that are gone!

The Scottish clergy, from having mixed so little with life, were often,
no doubt, men of simple habits and of very childlike notions. The
opinions and feelings which they expressed were often of a cast, which,
amongst persons of more experience, would appear to be not always quite
consistent with the clerical character. In them it arose from their
having nothing _conventional_ about them. Thus I have heard of an old
bachelor clergyman whose landlady declared he used to express an opinion
of his dinner by the grace which he made to follow. When he had had a
good dinner which pleased him, and a good glass of beer with it, he
poured forth the grace, "For the riches of thy bounty and its blessings
we offer our thanks." When he had had poor fare and poor beer, his grace
was, "The least of these thy mercies."

Many examples of the dry, quaint humour of the class occur in these
pages, but there could not be a finer specimen than the instance
recorded in the "Annals of the Parish" of the account given by the
minister of his own ordination. The ministers were all assembled for the
occasion; prayers had been offered, discourses delivered, and the time
for the actual ordination had come. The form is for the candidate to
kneel down and receive his sacred office by the imposition of hands,
_i.e._ the laying on of hands by the whole Presbytery. As the attendance
of ministers was large, a number of hands were stretched forth, more
than could quite conveniently come up to the candidate. An old minister,
of the quiet jocose turn of mind we speak of, finding himself thus kept
at a little distance, stretched out his walking staff and put it on the
young man's head, with the quiet remark, "That will do! Timmer to
timmer"--timber to timber.

Their style of preaching, too was, no doubt often plain and homely. They
had not the graces of elocution or elegance of diction. But many were
faithful in their office, and preached Christ as the poor man's friend
and the Saviour of the lowly and the suffering. I have known Scottish
ministers of the old school get into a careless indifferent state of
ministration; I have also known the hoary head of many a Scottish
minister go down to the grave a crown of glory, in his day and
generation more honoured than many which had been adorned by a mitre.


[14] Lying Gilbert.

[15] This anecdote has been illustrated, as taken from these pages, by a
very clever sketch of the Highlander and his admirer, in a curious
publication at Liverpool called _The Tobacco Plant_, and devoted to the
interests of smoking and snuffing.

[16] The truth is, in old English usage "bug" signifies a spectre or
anything that is frightful. Thus in Henry VI., 3d Part, act v. sc.
ii.--"For Warwick was a _bug_ that feared us all."

[17] Adds fuel to fire.

[18] As far as I am aware the only place in which it is practised at
present (July 1872), is in the Free Church, Brodick, Arran.



Passing from these remarks on the Scottish Clergy of a past day, I would
treat the more extensive subject of RELIGIOUS FEELINGS and RELIGIOUS
OBSERVANCES generally with the caution and deference due to such a
question, and I would distinctly premise that there is in my mind no
intention of entering, in this volume, upon those great questions which
are connected with certain church movements amongst us, or with national
peculiarities of faith and discipline. It is impossible, however, to
overlook entirely the fact of a gradual relaxation, which has gone on
for some years, of the sterner features of the Calvinistic school of
theology--at any rate, of keeping its theoretic peculiarities more in
the background. What we have to notice in these pages are changes in the
feelings with regard to religion and religious observances, which have
appeared upon the _exterior_ of society--the changes which belong to
outward habits rather than to internal feelings. Of such changes many
have taken place within my own experience. Scotland has ever borne the
character of a moral and religious country; and the mass of the people
are a more church-going race than the masses of English population. I am
not at all prepared to say that in the middle and lower ranks of life
our countrymen have undergone much change in regard to religious
observances. But there can be no question that amongst the upper
classes there are manifestations connected with religion now, which some
years ago were not thought of. The attendence of _men_ on public worship
is of itself an example of the change we speak of. I am afraid that when
Walter Scott described Monkbarns as being with difficulty "hounded out"
to hear the sermons of good Mr. Blattergowl, he wrote from a knowledge
of the habits of church-going then generally prevalent among Scottish
lairds. The late Bishop Sandford told me that when he first came to
Edinburgh--I suppose fifty years ago--few gentlemen attended
church--very few indeed were seen at the communion--so much so that it
was a matter of conversation when a male communicant, not an aged man,
was observed at the table for the first time. Sydney Smith, when
preaching in Edinburgh some forty years ago, seeing how almost
exclusively congregations were made up of ladies, took for his text the
verse from the Psalms, "Oh that men would therefore praise the Lord!"
and with that touch of the facetious which marked everything he did,
laid the emphasis on the word "men." Looking round the congregation and
saying, "Oh that _men_ would therefore praise the Lord!" implying that
he used the word, not to describe the human species generally, but the
male individuals as distinguished from the female portion. In regard to
attendance by young men, both at church and communion, a marked change
has taken place in my own experience. In fact, there is an attention
excited towards church subjects, which, thirty years ago, would have
been hardly credited. Nor is it only in connection with churches and
church services that these changes have been brought forth, but an
interest has been raised on the subject from Bible societies, missionary
associations at home and abroad, schools and reformatory institutions,
most of which, as regard active operation, have grown up during
fifty years.

Nor should I omit to mention, what I trust may be considered as a change
belonging to religious feeling--viz., that conversation is now
conducted without that accompaniment of those absurd and unmeaning oaths
which were once considered an essential embellishment of polite
discourse. I distinctly recollect an elderly gentleman, when describing
the opinion of a refined and polished female upon a particular point,
putting into her mouth an unmistakable round oath as the natural
language in which people's sentiments and opinions would be ordinarily
conveyed. This is a change wrought in men's feelings, which all must
hail with great pleasure. Putting out of sight for a moment the sin of
such a practice, and the bad influence it must have had upon all
emotions of reverence for the name and attributes of the Divine Being,
and the natural effect of profane swearing, to "harden a' within," we
might marvel at the utter folly and incongruity of making swearing
accompany every expression of anger or surprise, or of using oaths as
mere expletives in common discourse. A quaint anecdote, descriptive of
such senseless ebullition, I have from a friend who mentioned the names
of parties concerned:--A late Duke of Athole had invited a well-known
character, a writer of Perth, to come up and meet him at Dunkeld for the
transaction of some business. The Duke mentioned the day and hour when
he should receive the man of law, who accordingly came punctually at the
appointed time and place. But the Duke had forgotten the appointment,
and gone to the hill, from which he could not return for some hours. A
Highlander present described the Perth writer's indignation, and his
mode of showing it by a most elaborate course of swearing. "But whom did
he swear at?" was the inquiry made of the narrator, who replied, "Oh, he
didna sweer at ony thing particular, but juist stude in ta middle of ta
road and swoor at lairge." I have from a friend also an anecdote which
shows how entirely at one period the practice of swearing had become
familiar even to female ears when mixed up with the intercourse of
social life. A sister had been speaking of her brother as much addicted
to this habit--"Oor John sweers awfu', and we try to correct him; but,"
she added in a candid and apologetic tone, "nae doubt it _is_ a great
set aff to conversation." There was something of rather an _admiring_
character in the description of an outbreak of swearing by a Deeside
body. He had been before the meeting of Justices for some offence
against the excise laws, and had been promised some assistance and
countenance by my cousin, the laird of Finzean, who was unfortunately
addicted to the practice in question. The poor fellow had not got off so
well as he had expected, and on giving an account of what took place to
a friend, he was asked, "But did not Finzean speak for you?" "Na," he
replied, "he didna say muckle; but oh, he damned bonny!"

This is the place to notice a change which has taken place in regard to
some questions of taste in the building and embellishing of Scottish
places of worship. Some years back there was a great jealousy of
ornament in connection with churches and church services, and, in fact,
all such embellishments were considered as marks of a departure from the
simplicity of old Scottish worship,--they were distinctive of Episcopacy
as opposed to the severer modes of Presbyterianism. The late Sir William
Forbes used to give an account of a conversation, indicative of this
feeling, which he had overheard between an Edinburgh inhabitant and his
friend from the country. They were passing St. John's, which had just
been finished, and the countryman asked, "Whatna kirk was that?" "Oh,"
said the townsman, "that is an English chapel," meaning Episcopalian.
"Ay," said his friend, "there'll be a walth o' _images_ there." But, if
unable to sympathise with architectural church ornament and
embellishment, how much less could they sympathise with the performance
of divine service, which included such musical accompaniments as
intoning, chanting, and anthems! On the first introduction of
Tractarianism into Scotland, the full choir service had been established
in an Episcopal church, where a noble family had adopted those views,
and carried them out regardless of expense. The lady who had been
instrumental in getting up these musical services was very anxious that
a favourite female servant of the family--a Presbyterian of the old
school--should have an opportunity of hearing them; accordingly, she
very kindly took her down to church in the carriage, and on returning
asked her what she thought of the music, etc. "Ou, it's verra bonny,
verra bonny; but oh, my lady, it's an awfu' way of spending the
Sabbath." The good woman could only look upon the whole thing as a
musical performance. The organ was a great mark of distinction between
Episcopalian and Presbyterian places of worship. I have heard of an old
lady describing an Episcopalian clergyman, without any idea of
disrespect, in these terms:--"Oh, he is a whistle-kirk minister." From
an Australian correspondent I have an account of the difference between
an Episcopal minister and a Presbyterian minister, as remarked by an
old Scottish lady of his acquaintance. Being asked in what the
difference was supposed to consist, after some consideration she
replied, "Weel, ye see, the Presbyterian minister wears his sark under
his coat, the Episcopal minister wears his sark aboon his coat." Of late
years, however, a spirit of greater tolerance of such things has been
growing up amongst us,--a greater tolerance, I suspect, even of organs
and liturgies. In fact, we may say a new era has begun in Scotland as to
church architecture and church ornaments. The use of stained glass in
churches--forming memorial windows for the departed[19], a free use of
crosses as architectural ornaments, and restoration of ancient edifices,
indicate a revolution of feeling regarding this question. Beautiful and
expensive churches are rising everywhere, in connection with various
denominations. It is not long since the building or repairing a new
church, or the repairing and adapting an old church, implied in Scotland
simply a production of the greatest possible degree of ugliness and bad
taste at the least possible expense, and certainly never included any
notion of ornament in the details. Now, large sums are expended on
places of worship, without reference to creed. First-rate architects are
employed. Fine Gothic structures are produced. The rebuilding of the
Greyfriars' Church, the restoration of South Leith Church and of Glasgow
Cathedral, the very bold experiment of adopting a style little known
amongst us, the pure Lombard, in a church for Dr. W.L. Alexander, on
George IV. Bridge, Edinburgh; the really splendid Free Churches, St.
Mary's, in Albany Street, and the Barclay Church, Bruntsfield, and many
similar cases, mark the spirit of the times regarding the application of
what is beautiful in art to the service of religion. One might hope that
changes such as these in the feelings, tastes, and associations, would
have a beneficial effect in bringing the worshippers themselves into a
more genial spirit of forbearance with each other. A friend of mine used
to tell a story of an honest builder's views of church differences,
which was very amusing, and quaintly professional. An English gentleman,
who had arrived in a Scottish country town, was walking about to examine
the various objects which presented themselves, and observed two rather
handsome places of worship in course of erection nearly opposite to each
other. He addressed a person, who happened to be the contractor for the
chapels, and asked, "What was the difference between these two places of
worship which were springing up so close to each other?"--meaning, of
course, the difference of the theological tenets of the two
congregations. The contractor, who thought only of architectural
differences, innocently replied, "There may be a difference of sax feet
in length, but there's no aboon a few inches in the breadth." Would that
all our religious differences could be brought within so narrow
a compass!

The variety of churches in a certain county of Scotland once called
forth a sly remark upon our national tendencies to religious division
and theological disputation. An English gentleman sitting on the box,
and observing the great number of places of worship in the aforesaid
borough, remarked to the coachman that there must be a great deal of
religious feeling in a town which produced so many houses of God.

"Na," said the man quietly, "it's no religion, it's _curstness," i.e._
crabbedness, insinuating that acerbity of temper, as well as zeal, was
occasionally the cause of congregations being multiplied.

It might be a curious question to consider how far motives founded on
mere taste or sentiment may have operated in creating an interest
towards religion, and in making it a more prominent and popular question
than it was in the early portion of the present century. There are in
this country two causes which have combined in producing these
effects:--1st. The great disruption which took place in the Church of
Scotland no doubt called forth an attention to the subject which stirred
up the public, and made religion at any rate a topic of deep interest
for discussion and partizanship. Men's minds were not _allowed_ to
remain in the torpid condition of a past generation. 2d. The aesthetic
movement in religion, which some years since was made in England, has,
of course, had its influence in Scotland; and many who showed little
concern about religion, whilst it was merely a question of doctrines, of
precepts, and of worship, threw themselves keenly into the contest when
it became associated with ceremonial, and music, and high art. New
ecclesiastical associations have been presented to Scottish tastes and
feelings. With some minds, attachment to the church is attachment to her
Gregorian tones, jewelled chalices, lighted candles, embroidered
altar-cloths, silver crosses, processions, copes, albs, and chasubles.
But, from whatever cause it proceeds, a great change has taken place in
the general interest excited towards ecclesiastical questions. Religion
now has numerous associations with the ordinary current of human life.
In times past it was kept more as a thing apart. There was a false
delicacy which made people shrink from encountering appellations that
were usually bestowed upon those who made a more prominent religious
profession than the world at large.

A great change has taken place in this respect with persons of _all_
shades of religious opinions. With an increased attention to the
_externals_ of religion, we believe that in many points the heart has
been more exercised also. Take, as an example, the practice of family
prayer. Many excellent and pious households of the former generation
would not venture upon the observance, I am afraid, because they were in
dread of the sneer. There was a foolish application of the terms
"Methodist" "saints," "over-righteous," where the practice was observed.
It was to take up a rather decided position in the neighbourhood; and I
can testify, that less than fifty years ago a family would have been
marked and talked of for a usage of which now throughout the country the
_exception_ is rather the unusual circumstance. A little anecdote from
recollections in my own family will furnish a good illustration of a
state of feeling on this point now happily unknown. In a northern town
of the east coast, where the earliest recollections of my life go back,
there was usually a detachment of a regiment, who were kindly received
and welcomed to the society, which in the winter months was very full
and very gay. There was the usual measure of dining, dancing, supping,
card-playing, and gossiping, which prevailed in country towns at the
time. The officers were of course an object of much interest to the
natives, and their habits were much discussed. A friend was staying in
the family who partook a good deal of the Athenian temperament--viz.
delight in hearing and telling some new thing. On one occasion she burst
forth in great excitement with the intelligence that "Sir Nathaniel
Duckinfield, the officer in command of the detachment, had family
prayers _every_ morning!" A very near and dear relative of mine, knowing
the tendency of the lady to gossip, pulled her up with the exclamation:
"How can you repeat such things, Miss Ogilvy? nothing in the world but
the ill-natured stories of Montrose!" The remark was made quite
innocently, and unconsciously of the bitter satire it conveyed upon the
feeling of the place. The "ill-nature" of these stories was true enough,
because ill-nature was the motive of those who raised them; not because
it is an ill-natured thing of itself to say of a family that they have
household worship, but the ill-nature consisted in their intending to
throw out a sneer and a sarcasm upon a subject where all such
reflections are unbecoming and indecorous. It is one of the best proofs
of change of habits and associations on this matter, that the anecdote,
exquisite as it is for our purpose, will hardly be understood by many of
our young friends, or, at least, happily has lost much of its force
and pungency.

These remarks apply perhaps more especially to the state of religious
feeling amongst the upper classes of society. Though I am not aware of
so much change in the religious habits of the Scottish peasantry, still
the elders have yielded much from the sternness of David Deans; and upon
the whole view of the question there have been many and great changes in
the Scottish people during the last sixty years. It could hardly be
otherwise, when we consider the increased facilities of communication
between the two countries--a facility which extends to the introduction
of English books upon religious subjects. The most popular and engaging
works connected with the Church of England have now a free circulation
in Scotland; and it is impossible that such productions as the
"Christian Year," for example, and many others--whether for good or bad
is not now the question--should not produce their effects upon minds
trained in the strictest school of Calvinistic theology. I should be
disposed to _extend_ the boundaries of this division, and to include
under "Religious Feelings and Religious Observances" many anecdotes
which belong perhaps rather indirectly than directly to the subject.
There is a very interesting reminiscence, and one of a sacred character
also, which I think will come very suitably under this head. When I
joined the Scottish Episcopal Church, nearly fifty years ago, it was
quite customary for members of our communion to ask for the blessing of
their Bishop, and to ask it especially on any remarkable event in their
life, as marriage, loss of friends, leaving home, returning home, etc.;
and it was the custom amongst the old Scottish Episcopalians to give the
blessing in a peculiar form, which had become venerable from its
traditionary application by our bishops. I have myself received it from
my bishop, the late good Bishop Walker, and have heard him pronounce it
on others. But whether the custom of asking the bishop's blessing be
past or not, the form I speak of has become a reminiscence, and I feel
assured is not known even by some of our own bishops. I shall give it to
my readers as I received it from the family of the late Bishop Walker of

"God Almighty bless thee with his Holy Spirit;
Guard thee in thy going out and coming in;
Keep thee ever in his faith and fear;
Free from Sin, and safe from Danger."

I have been much pleased with a remark of my friend, the Rev. W.
Gillespie of the U.P. Church, Edinburgh, upon this subject. He writes to
me as follows:--"I read with particular interest the paragraph on the
subject of the Bishop's Blessing, for certainly there seems to be in
these days a general disbelief in the efficacy of blessings, and a
neglect or disregard of the practice. If the spirit of God is in good
men, as He certainly is, then who can doubt the value and the efficacy
of the blessing which they bestow? I remember being blessed by a very
venerable minister, John Dempster of Denny, while kneeling in his study,
shortly before I left this country to go to China, and his prayer over
me then was surely the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man. Its
effect upon me then and ever since will never be forgotten."

I quite agree with Mr. Gillespie on the point, and think it not a good
sign either of our religious belief or religious feeling that such
blessings should become really a matter of reminiscence; for if we are
taught to pray for one another, and if we are taught that the "prayer of
the righteous availeth much," surely we ought to _bless_ one another,
and surely the blessing of those who are venerable in the church from
their position, their age, and their piety, may be expected to avail as
an aid and incentive to piety in those who in God's name are so blest.
It has struck me that on a subject closely allied with religious
feelings a great change has taken place in Scotland during a period of
less than fifty years--I mean the attention paid to cemeteries as
depositories of the mortal remains of those who have departed. In my
early days I never recollect seeing any efforts made for the
embellishment and adornment of our churchyards; if tolerably secured by
fences, enough had been done. The English and Welsh practices of
planting flowers, keeping the turf smooth and dressed over the graves
of friends, were quite unknown. Indeed, I suspect such attention fifty
years ago would have been thought by the sterner Presbyterians as
somewhat savouring of superstition. The account given by Sir W. Scott,
in "Guy Mannering," of an Edinburgh burial-place, was universally
applicable to Scottish sepulchres[20]. A very different state of matters
has grown up within the last few years. Cemeteries and churchyards are
now as carefully ornamented in Scotland as in England. Shrubs, flowers,
smooth turf, and neatly-kept gravel walks, are a pleasing accompaniment
to head-stones, crosses, and varied forms of monumental memorials, in
freestone, marble, and granite. Nay, more than these, not unfrequently
do we see an imitation of French sentiment, in wreaths of "everlasting"
placed over graves as emblems of immortality; and in more than one of
our Edinburgh cemeteries I have seen these enclosed in glass cases to
preserve them from the effects of wind and rain.

In consequence of neglect, the unprotected state of churchyards was
evident from the number of stories in circulation connected with the
circumstance of timid and excited passengers going amongst the tombs of
the village. The following, amongst others, has been communicated. The
_locale_ of the story is unknown, but it is told of a weaver who, after
enjoying his potations, pursued his way home through the churchyard,
his vision and walking somewhat impaired. As he proceeded he diverged
from the path, and unexpectedly stumbled into a partially made grave.
Stunned for a while, he lay in wonder at his descent, and after some
time he got out, but he had not proceeded much farther when a similar
calamity befell him. At this second fall, he was heard, in a tone of
wonder and surprise, to utter the following exclamation, referring to
what he considered the untenanted graves: "Ay! ir ye a' up an' awa?"

The kindly feelings and interest of the pastoral relation always formed
a very pleasing intercourse between minister and people. I have received
from an anonymous correspondent an anecdote illustrative of this happy
connection, for which he vouches as authentic:--

John Brown, Burgher minister at Whitburn (son of the commentator, and
father of the late Rev. Dr. John Brown of Edinburgh, and grandfather of
the present accomplished M.D. of the same name, author of "Rab and his
Friends," etc.), in the early part of the century was travelling on a
small sheltie[21] to attend the summer sacrament at Haddington. Between
Musselburgh and Tranent he overtook one of his own people. "What are ye
daein' here, Janet, and whaur ye gaun in this warm weather?" "'Deed,
sir," quo' Janet, "I'm gaun to Haddington _for the occasion_[22] an'
expeck to hear ye preach this efternoon." "Very weel, Janet, but whaur
ye gaun tae sleep?" "I dinna ken, sir, but Providence is aye kind, an'll
provide a bed." On Mr. Brown jogged, but kindly thought of his humble
follower; accordingly, after service in the afternoon, before
pronouncing the blessing, he said from the pulpit, "Whaur's the auld
wifie that followed me frae Whitburn?" "Here I'm, sir," uttered a shrill
voice from a back seat. "Aweel," said Mr. Brown, "I have fand ye a bed;
ye're to sleep wi' Johnnie Fife's lass."

There was at all times amongst the older Scottish peasantry a bold
assertion of their religious opinions, and strong expression of their
feelings. The spirit of the Covenanters lingered amongst the aged people
whom I remember, but which time has considerably softened down. We have
some recent authentic instances of this readiness in Scotsmen to bear
testimony to their principles:--

A friend has informed me that the late Lord Rutherfurd often told with
much interest of a rebuke which he received from a shepherd, near
Bonaly, amongst the Pentlands. He had entered into conversation with
him, and was complaining bitterly of the weather, which prevented him
enjoying his visit to the country, and said hastily and unguardedly,
"What a d--d mist!" and then expressed his wonder how or for what
purpose there should have been such a thing created as east wind. The
shepherd, a tall, grim figure, turned sharp round upon him. "What ails
ye at the mist, sir? it weets the sod, it slockens the yowes,
and"--adding with much solemnity--"it's God's wull;" and turned away
with lofty indignation. Lord Rutherfurd used to repeat this with much
candour as a fine specimen of a rebuke from a sincere and simple mind.

There was something very striking in the homely, quaint, and severe
expressions on religious subjects which marked the old-fashioned piety
of persons shadowed forth in Sir Walter Scott's Davie Deans. We may add
to the rebuke of the shepherd of Bonaly, of Lord Rutherfurd's remark
about the east wind, his answer to Lord Cockburn, the proprietor of
Bonaly. He was sitting on the hill-side with the shepherd, and observing
the sheep reposing in the coldest situation, he observed to him, "John,
if I were a sheep, I would lie on the other side of the hill." The
shepherd answered, "Ay, my lord, but if ye had been a sheep ye would hae
had mair sense."

Of such men as this shepherd were formed the elders--a class of men who
were marked by strong features of character, and who, in former times,
bore a distinguished part in all church matters.

The old Scottish elder was in fact quite as different a character from
the modern elder, as the old Scottish minister was from the modern
pastor. These good men were not disposed to hide their lights, and
perhaps sometimes encroached a little upon the office of the minister. A
clergyman had been remarking to one of his elders that he was
unfortunately invited to two funerals on one day, and that they were
fixed for the same hour. "Weel, sir," answered the elder, "if ye'll tak
the tane I'll tak the tither."

Some of the elders were great humorists and originals in their way. An
elder of the kirk at Muthill used to manifest his humour and originality
by his mode of collecting the alms. As he went round with the ladle, he
reminded such members of the congregation as seemed backward in their
duty, by giving them a poke with the "brod," and making, in an audible
whisper, such remarks as these--"Wife at the braid mailin, mind the
puir;" "Lass wi' the braw plaid, mind the puir," etc., a mode of
collecting which marks rather a bygone state of things. But on no
question was the old Scottish disciplinarian, whether elder or not, more
sure to raise his testimony than on anything connected with a
desecration of the Sabbath. In this spirit was the rebuke given to an
eminent geologist, when visiting in the Highlands:--The professor was
walking on the hills one Sunday morning, and partly from the effect of
habit, and partly from not adverting to the very strict notions of
Sabbath desecration entertained in Ross-shire, had his pocket hammer in
hand, and was thoughtlessly breaking the specimens of minerals he picked
up by the way. Under these circumstances, he was met by an old man
steadily pursuing his way to his church. For some time the patriarch
observed the movements of the geologist, and at length, going up to him,
quietly said, "Sir, ye're breaking something there forbye the stanes!"

The same feeling, under a more fastidious form, was exhibited to a
traveller by a Scottish peasant:--An English artist travelling
professionally through Scotland, had occasion to remain over Sunday in a
small town in the north. To while away the time, he walked out a short
way in the environs, where the picturesque ruin of a castle met his eye.
He asked a countryman who was passing to be so good as tell him the name
of the castle. The reply was somewhat startling--"It's no the day to be
speerin' sic things!"

A manifestation of even still greater strictness on the subject of
Sabbath desecration, I have received from a relative of the family in
which it occurred. About fifty years ago the Hon. Mrs. Stewart lived in
Heriot Row, who had a cook, Jeannie by name, a paragon of excellence.
One Sunday morning when her daughter (afterwards Lady Elton) went into
the kitchen, she was surprised to find a new jack (recently ordered, and
which was constructed on the principle of going constantly without
winding up) wholly paralysed and useless. Miss Stewart naturally
inquired what accident had happened to the new jack, as it had stopped.
The mystery was soon solved by Jeannie indignantly exclaiming that "she
was nae gaeing to hae the fule thing clocking and rinning about in _her_
kitchen a' the blessed Sabbath day."

There sometimes appears to have been in our countrymen an undue
preponderance of zeal for Sabbath observance as compared with the
importance attached to _other_ religious duties, and especially as
compared with the virtue of sobriety. The following dialogue between Mr.
Macnee of Glasgow, the celebrated artist, and an old Highland
acquaintance whom he had met with unexpectedly, will illustrate the
contrast between the severity of judgment passed upon treating the
Sabbath with levity and the lighter censure attached to indulgence in
whisky. Mr. Macnee begins, "Donald, what brought you here?" "Ou, weel,
sir, it was a baad place yon; they were baad folk--but they're a
God-fearin' set o' folk here!" "Well, Donald," said Mr. M., "I'm glad to
hear it." "Ou ay, sir, 'deed are they; an' I'll gie ye an instance o't.
Last Sabbath, just as the kirk was skailin,' there was a drover chield
frae Dumfries comin' along the road whustlin,' an' lookin' _as happy_ as
if it was ta middle o' ta week; weel, sir, oor laads is a God-fearin'
set o' laads, an' they were just comin' oot o' the kirk--'od they yokit
upon him, an' a'most killed him!" Mr. M., to whom their zeal seemed
scarcely sufficiently well directed to merit his approbation, then asked
Donald whether it had been drunkenness that induced the depravity of his
former neighbours? "Weel, weel, sir," said Donald, with some hesitation,
"_may_-be; I'll no say but it micht." "Depend upon it," said Mr. M.,
"it's a bad thing whisky." "Weel, weel, sir," replied Donald, "I'll no
say but it _may_;" adding in a very decided tone--"speeciallie
_baad_ whusky!"

I do not know any anecdote which illustrates in a more striking and
natural manner the strong feeling which exists in the Scottish mind on
this subject. At a certain time, the hares in the neighbourhood of a
Scottish burgh had, from the inclemency of the season or from some other
cause, become emboldened more than usual to approach the dwelling-places
of men; so much so that on one Sunday morning a hare was seen skipping
along the street as the people were going to church. An old man, spying
puss in this unusual position, significantly remarked, "Ay, yon beast
kens weel it is the Sabbath-day;" taking it for granted that no one in
the place would be found audacious enough to hurt the animal on
a Sunday.

Lady Macneil supplies an excellent pendant to Miss Stewart's story about
the jack going on the Sunday. Her henwife had got some Dorking fowls,
and on Lady M. asking if they were laying many eggs, she replied, with
great earnestness, "Indeed my leddy, they lay every day, no' excepting
the blessed Sabbath."

There were, however, old persons at that time who were not quite so
orthodox on the point of Sabbath observance; and of these a lady
residing in Dumfries was known often to employ her wet Sundays in
arranging her wardrobe. "Preserve us!" she said on one occasion,
"anither gude Sunday! I dinna ken whan I'll get thae drawers redd up."

In connection with the awful subject of death and all its concomitants,
it has been often remarked that the older generation of Scottish people
used to view the circumstances belonging to the decease of their nearest
and dearest friends with a coolness which does not at first sight seem
consistent with their deep and sincere religious impressions. Amongst
the peasantry this was sometimes manifested in an extraordinary and
startling manner. I do not believe that those persons had less affection
for their friends than a corresponding class in England, but they had
less awe of the concomitants of death, and approached them with more
familiarity. For example, I remember long ago at Fasque, my
sister-in-law visiting a worthy and attached old couple, of whom the
husband, Charles Duncan, who had been gardener at Fasque for above
thirty years was evidently dying. He was sitting on a common deal chair,
and on my sister proposing to send down for his use an old arm-chair
which she recollected was laid up in a garret, his wife exclaimed
against such a needless trouble: "Hout, my leddy, what would he be duin'
wi' an arm-chair? he's just deein' fast awa." I have two anecdotes,
illustrative of the same state of feeling, from a lady of ancient
Scottish family accustomed to visit her poor dependants on the property,
and to notice their ways. She was calling at a decent cottage, and found
the occupant busy carefully ironing out some linens. The lady remarked,
"Those are fine linens you have got there, Janet." "Troth, mem," was the
reply, "they're just the gudeman's _deed_ claes, and there are nane
better i' the parish." On another occasion, when visiting an excellent
woman, to condole with her on the death of her nephew, with whom she had
lived, and whose loss must have been severely felt by her, she remarked,
"What a nice white cap you have got, Margaret." "Indeed, mem, ay, sae it
is; for ye see the gude lad's winding sheet was ower lang, and I cut aff
as muckle as made twa bonny mutches" (caps).

There certainly was a quaint and familiar manner in which sacred and
solemn subjects were referred to by the older Scottish race, who did
not mean to be irreverent, but who no doubt appeared so to a more
refined but not really a more religious generation.

It seems to me that this plainness of speech arose in part from the
_sincerity_ of their belief in all the circumstances of another
condition of being. They spoke of things hereafter as positive
certainties, and viewed things invisible through the same medium as they
viewed things present. The following is illustrative of such a state of
mind, and I am assured of its perfect authenticity and literal
correctness:--"Joe M'Pherson and his wife lived in Inverness. They had
two sons, who helped their father in his trade of a smith. They were
industrious and careful, but not successful. The old man had bought a
house, leaving a large part of the price unpaid. It was the ambition of
his life to pay off that debt, but it was too much for him, and he died
in the struggle. His sons kept on the business with the old industry,
and with better fortune. At last their old mother fell sick, and told
her sons she was dying, as in truth she was. The elder son said to her,
'Mother, you'll soon be with my father; no doubt you'll have much to
tell him; but dinna forget this, mother, mind ye, tell him _the house is
freed_. He'll be glad to hear that.'"

A similar feeling is manifest in the following conversation, which, I am
assured, is authentic:--At Hawick the people used to wear wooden clogs,
which make a _clanking_ noise on the pavement. A dying old woman had
some friends by her bedside, who said to her, "Weel, Jenny, ye are gaun
to heeven, an' gin you should see oor folk, you can tell them that we're
a' weel." To which Jenny replied, "Weel, gin I should see them I'se tell
them, but you manna expect that I am to gang clank clanking through
heevan looking for your folk."

But of all stories of this class, I think the following deathbed
conversation between a Scottish husband and wife is about the richest
specimen of a dry Scottish matter-of-fact view of a very serious
question:--An old shoemaker in Glasgow was sitting by the bedside of his
wife, who was dying. She took him by the hand. "Weel, John, we're gawin
to part. I hae been a gude wife to you, John." "Oh, just middling, just
middling, Jenny," said John, not disposed to commit himself. "John,"
says she, "ye maun promise to bury me in the auld kirk-yard at Stra'von,
beside my mither. I couldna rest in peace among unco folk, in the dirt
and smoke o' Glasgow." "Weel, weel, Jenny, my woman," said John
soothingly, "we'll just pit you in the Gorbals _first_, and gin ye dinna
lie quiet, we'll try you sine in Stra'von."

The same unimaginative and matter-of-fact view of things connected with
the other world extended to a very youthful age, as in the case of a
little boy who, when told of heaven, put the question, "An' will faather
be there?" His instructress answered, "of course, she hoped he would be
there;" to which he sturdily at once replied, "Then I'll no gang."

We might apply these remarks in some measure to the Scottish pulpit
ministrations of an older school, in which a minuteness of detail and a
quaintness of expression were quite common, but which could not now be
tolerated. I have two specimens of such antiquated language, supplied by
correspondents, and I am assured they are both genuine.

The first is from a St. Andrews professor, who is stated to be a great
authority in such narratives.

In one of our northern counties, a rural district had its harvest
operations affected by continuous rains. The crops being much laid, wind
was desired in order to restore them to a condition fit for the sickle.
A minister, in his Sabbath services, expressed their want in prayer as
follows:--"O Lord, we pray thee to send us wind; no a rantin' tantin'
tearin' wind, but a noohin' (noughin?) soughin' winnin' wind." More
expressive words than these could not be found in any language.

The other story relates to a portion of the Presbyterian service on
sacramental occasions, called "fencing the tables," _i.e._ prohibiting
the approach of those who were unworthy to receive.

This fencing of the tables was performed in the following effective
manner by an old divine, whose flock transgressed the third commandment,
not in a gross and loose manner, but in its minor details:--"I debar all
those who use such minced oaths as faith! troth! losh! gosh! and

These men often showed a quiet vein of humour in their prayers, as in
the case of the old minister of the Canongate, who always prayed,
previous to the meeting of the General Assembly, that the Assembly might
be so guided as "_no to do ony harm."_

A circumstance connected with Scottish church discipline has undergone a
great change in my time--I mean the public censure from the pulpit, in
the time of divine service, of offenders previously convicted before the
minister and his kirk-session. This was performed by the guilty person
standing up before the congregation on a raised platform, called the
_cutty stool_, and receiving a rebuke. I never saw it done, but have
heard in my part of the country of the discipline being enforced
occasionally. Indeed, I recollect an instance where the rebuke was thus
administered and received under circumstances of a touching character,
and which made it partake of the moral sublime. The daughter of the
minister had herself committed an offence against moral purity, such as
usually called forth this church censure. The minister peremptorily
refused to make her an exception to his ordinary practice. His child
stood up in the congregation, and received, from her agonised father, a
rebuke similar to that administered to other members of his congregation
for a like offence. The spirit of the age became unfavourable to the
practice. The rebuke on the cutty stool, like the penance in a white
sheet in England, went out of use, and the circumstance is now a matter
of "reminiscence." I have received some communications on the subject,
which bear upon this point; and I subjoin the following remarks from a
kind correspondent, a clergyman, to whom I am largely indebted, as
indicating the great change which has taken place in this matter.

"Church discipline," he writes, "was much more vigorously enforced in
olden time than it is now. A certain couple having been guilty of
illicit intercourse, and also within the forbidden degrees of
consanguinity, appeared before the Presbytery of Lanark, and made
confession in sackcloth. They were ordered to return to their own
session, and to stand at the kirk-door, barefoot and barelegged, from
the second bell to the last, and thereafter in the public place of
repentance; and, at direction of the session, thereafter to go through
the whole kirks of the presbytery, and to satisfy them in like manner.
If such penance were now enforced for like offences, I believe the
registration books of many parishes in Scotland would become more
creditable in certain particulars than they unfortunately are at the
present time."

But there was a less formidable ecclesiastical censure occasionally
given by the minister from the pulpit against lesser misdemeanours,
which took place under his own eye, such as levity of conduct or
_sleeping_ in church. A most amusing specimen of such censure was once
inflicted by the minister upon his own wife for an offence not in our
day visited with so heavy a penalty. The clergyman had observed one of
his flock asleep during his sermon. He paused, and called him to order.
"Jeems Robson, ye are sleepin'; I insist on your wauking when God's word
is preached to ye." "Weel, sir, you may look at your ain seat, and ye'll
see a sleeper forbye me," answered Jeems, pointing to the clergyman's
lady in the minister's pew. "Then, Jeems," said the minister, "when ye
see my wife asleep again, haud up your hand." By and by the arm was
stretched out, and sure enough the fair lady was caught in the act. Her
husband solemnly called upon her to stand up and receive the censure due
to her offence. He thus addressed her:--"Mrs. B., a'body kens that when
I got ye for my wife, I got nae beauty; yer frien's ken that I got nae
siller; and if I dinna get God's grace, I shall hae a puir
bargain indeed."

The quaint and original humour of the old Scottish minister came out
occasionally in the more private services of his vocation as well as in
church. As the whole service, whether for baptisms or marriages, is
supplied by the clergyman officiating, there is more scope for scenes
between the parties present than at similar ministrations by a
prescribed form. Thus, a late minister of Caithness, when examining a
member of his flock, who was a butcher, in reference to the baptism of
his child, found him so deficient in what he considered the needful
theological knowledge, that he said to him, "Ah, Sandy, I doubt ye're
no fit to haud up the bairn." Sandy, conceiving that reference was made
not to spiritual but to physical incapacity, answered indignantly,
"Hout, minister, I could haud him up an he were a twa-year-auld
stirk[23]." A late humorous old minister, near Peebles, who had strong
feelings on the subject of matrimonial happiness, thus prefaced the
ceremony by an address to the parties who came to him:--"My friends,
marriage is a blessing to a few, a curse to many, and a great
uncertainty to all. Do ye venture?" After a pause, he repeated with
great emphasis, "Do ye venture?" No objection being made to the venture,
he then said, "Let's proceed."

The old Scottish hearers were very particular on the subject of their
minister's preaching old sermons; and to repeat a discourse which they
could recollect was always made a subject of animadversion by those who
heard it. A beadle, who was a good deal of a wit in his way, gave a sly
hit in his pretended defence of his minister on the question. As they
were proceeding from church, the minister observed the beadle had been
laughing as if he had triumphed over some of the parishioners with whom
he had been in conversation. On asking the cause of this, he received
for answer, "Dod, sir, they were saying ye had preached an auld sermon
to-day, but I tackled them, for I tauld them it was no an auld sermon,
for the minister had preached it no sax months syne."

I remember the minister of Banchory, Mr. Gregory, availed himself of the
feelings of his people on this subject for the purpose of accomplishing
a particular object. During the building of the new church the service
had to be performed in a schoolroom, which did not nearly hold the
congregation. The object was to get part of the parish to attend in the
morning, and part in the afternoon. Mr. Gregory prevented those who had
attended in the morning from returning in the afternoon by just giving
them, as he said, "cauld kail het again."

It is somewhat remarkable, however, that, notwithstanding this feeling
in the matter of a repetition of old sermons, there was amongst a large
class of Scottish preachers of a former day such a sameness of subject
as really sometimes made it difficult to distinguish the discourse of
one Sunday from amongst others. These were entirely doctrinal, and
however they might commence, after the opening or introduction hearers
were certain to find the preacher falling gradually into the old
channel. The fall of man in Adam, his restoration in Christ,
justification by faith, and the terms of the new covenant, formed the
staple of each sermon, and without which it was not in fact reckoned
complete as an orthodox exposition of Christian doctrine. Without
omitting the essentials of Christian instruction, preachers now take a
wider view of illustrating and explaining the gospel scheme of salvation
and regeneration, without constant recurrence to the elemental and
fundamental principles of the faith. From my friend Dr. Cook of
Haddington (who it is well known has a copious stock of old Scotch
traditionary anecdotes) I have an admirable illustration of this state
of things as regards pulpit instruction.

"Much of the preaching of the Scotch clergy," Dr. Cook observes, "in the
last century, was almost exclusively doctrinal--the fall: the nature,
the extent, and the application of the remedy. In the hands of able men,
no doubt, there might be much variety of exposition, but with weaker or
indolent men preaching extempore, or without notes, it too often ended
in a weekly repetition of what had been already said. An old elder of
mine, whose recollection might reach back from sixty to seventy years,
said to me one day, 'Now-a-days, people make a work if a minister preach
the same sermon over again in the course of two or three years. When I
was a boy, we would have wondered if old Mr. W---- had preached anything
else than what we heard the Sunday before.' My old friend used to tell
of a clergyman who had held forth on the broken covenant till his people
longed for a change. The elders waited on him to intimate their wish.
They were examined on their knowledge of the subject, found deficient,
rebuked, and dismissed, but after a little while they returned to the
charge, and the minister gave in. Next Lord's day he read a large
portion of the history of Joseph and his brethren, as the subject of a
lecture. He paraphrased it, greatly, no doubt, to the detriment of the
original, but much to the satisfaction of his people, for it was
something new. He finished the paraphrase, 'and now,' says he, 'my
friends, we shall proceed to draw some lessons and inferences; and,
_1st_, you will observe that the sacks of Joseph's brethren were
_ripit_, and in them was found the cup; so your sacks will be ripit at
the day of judgment, and the first thing found in them will be the
broken covenant;' and having gained this advantage, the sermon went off
into the usual strain, and embodied the usual heads of elementary
dogmatic theology."

In connection with this topic, I have a communication from a
correspondent, who remarks--The story about the minister and his
favourite theme, "the broken covenant," reminds me of one respecting
another minister whose staple topics of discourse were "Justification,
Adoption, and Sanctification." Into every sermon he preached, he
managed, by hook or by crook, to force these three heads, so that his
general method of handling every text was not so much _expositio_ as
_impositio_. He was preaching on these words--"Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he a pleasant child?" and he soon brought the question into the usual
formula by adding, Ephraim was a pleasant child--first, because he was a
justified child; second, because he was an adopted child; and third,
because he was a sanctified child.

It should be remembered, however, that the Scottish peasantry
themselves--I mean those of the older school--delighted in expositions
of _doctrinal_ subjects, and in fact were extremely jealous of any
minister who departed from their high standard of orthodox divinity, by
selecting subjects which involved discussions of strictly moral or
_practical_ questions. It was condemned under the epithet of _legal_
preaching; in other words, it was supposed to preach the law as
independent of the gospel. A worthy old clergyman having, upon the
occasion of a communion Monday, taken a text of such a character, was
thus commented on by an ancient dame of the congregation, who was
previously acquainted with his style of discourse:--"If there's an ill
text in a' the Bible, that creetur's aye sure to tak it."

The great change--the great improvement, I would say--which has taken
place during the last half-century in the feelings and practical
relations of religion with social life is, that it has become more
diffused through all ranks and all characters. Before that period many
good sort of people were afraid of making their religious views very
prominent, and were always separated from those who did. Persons who
made a profession at all beyond the low standard generally adopted in
society were marked out as objects of fear or of distrust. The anecdote
at page 65 regarding the practice of family prayer fully proves this.
Now religious people and religion itself are not kept aloof from the
ordinary current of men's thoughts and actions. There is no such marked
line as used to be drawn round persons who make a decided profession of
religion. Christian men and women have stepped over the line, and,
without compromising their Christian principle, are not necessarily
either morose, uncharitable, or exclusive. The effects of the old
separation were injurious to men's minds. Religion was with many
associated with puritanism, with cant, and unfitness for the world. The
difference is marked also in the style of sermons prevalent at the two
periods. There were sermons of two descriptions--viz., sermons by
"_moderate_" clergy, of a purely moral or practical character; and
sermons purely doctrinal, from those who were known as "evangelical"
ministers. Hence arose an impression, and not unnaturally, on many
minds, that an almost exclusive reference to doctrinal subjects, and a
dread of upholding the law, and of enforcing its more minute details,
were not favourable to the cause of moral rectitude and practical
holiness of life. This was hinted in a sly way by a young member of the
kirk to his father, a minister of the severe and high Calvinistic
school. Old Dr. Lockhart of Glasgow was lamenting one day, in the
presence of his son John, the fate of a man who had been found guilty of
immoral practices, and the more so that he was one of his own elders.
"Well, father," remarked his son, "you see what you've driven him to."
In our best Scottish preaching at the present day no such distinction
is visible.

The same feeling came forth with much point and humour on an occasion
referred to in "Carlyle's Memoirs." In a company where John Home and
David Hume were present, much wonder was expressed what _could_ have
induced a clerk belonging to Sir William Forbes' bank to abscond, and
embezzle L900. "I know what it was," said Home to the historian; "for
when he was taken there was found in his pocket a volume of your
philosophical works and Boston's 'Fourfold State'"--a hit, 1st, at the
infidel, whose principles would have undermined Christianity; and 2d, a
hit at the Church, which he was compelled to leave on account of his
having written the tragedy of Douglas.

I can myself recollect an obsolete ecclesiastical custom, and which was
always practised in the church of Fettercairn during my boyish
days--viz., that of the minister bowing to the heritors in succession
who occupied the front gallery seats; and I am assured that this bowing
from the pulpit to the principal heritor or heritors after the blessing
had been pronounced was very common in rural parishes till about forty
years ago, and perhaps till a still later period. And when heritors
chanced to be pretty equally matched, there was sometimes an unpleasant
contest as to who was entitled to the precedence in having the _first_
bow. A case of this kind once occurred in the parish of Lanark, which
was carried so far as to be laid before the Presbytery; but they, not
considering themselves "competent judges of the points of honour and
precedency among gentlemen, and to prevent all inconveniency in these
matters in the future, appointed the minister to forbear bowing to the
lairds at all from the pulpit for the time to come;" and they also
appointed four of their number "to wait upon the gentlemen, to deal with
them, for bringing them to condescend to submit hereunto, for the
success of the gospel and the peace of the parish."

In connection with this subject, we may mention a ready and
complimentary reply once made by the late Reverend Dr. Wightman of
Kirkmahoe, on being rallied for his neglecting this usual act of
courtesy one Sabbath in his own church. The heritor who was entitled to
and always received this token of respect, was Mr. Miller, proprietor of
Dalswinton. One Sabbath the Dalswinton pew contained a bevy of ladies,
but no gentlemen, and the Doctor--perhaps because he was a bachelor and
felt a delicacy in the circumstances--omitted the usual salaam in their
direction. A few days after, meeting Miss Miller, who was widely famed
for her beauty, and who afterwards became Countess of Mar, she rallied
him, in presence of her companions, for not bowing to her from the
pulpit on the previous Sunday, and requested an explanation; when the
good Doctor immediately replied--"I beg your pardon, Miss Miller, but
you surely know that angel-worship is not allowed in the Church of
Scotland;" and lifting his hat, he made a low bow, and passed on.

Scottish congregations, in some parts of the country, contain an element
in their composition quite unknown in English churches. In pastoral
parts of the country, it was an established practice for each shepherd
to bring his faithful _collie_ dog--at least it was so some years ago.
In a district of Sutherland, where the population is very scanty, the
congregations are made up one-half of dogs, each human member having his
canine companion. These dogs sit out the Gaelic services and sermon with
commendable patience, till towards the end of the last psalm, when there
is a universal stretching and yawning, and all are prepared to scamper
out, barking in a most excited manner whenever the blessing is
commenced. The congregation of one of these churches determined that the
service should close in a more decorous manner, and steps were taken to
attain this object. Accordingly, when a stranger clergyman was
officiating, he found the people all sitting when he was about to
pronounce the blessing. He hesitated, and paused, expecting them to
rise, till an old shepherd, looking up to the pulpit, said, "Say awa',
sir; we're a' sittin' to cheat the dowgs."

There must have been some curious specimens of Scottish humour brought
out at the examinations or catechisings by ministers of the flock before
the administrations of the communion. Thus, with reference to human
nature before the fall, a man was asked, "What kind of man was Adam?"
"Ou, just like ither fouk." The minister insisted on having a more
special description of the first man, and pressed for more explanation.
"Weel," said the catechumen, "he was just like Joe Simson the
horse-couper." "How so?" asked the minister. "Weel, naebody got onything
by him, and mony lost."

A lad had come for examination previous to his receiving his first
communion. The pastor, knowing that his young friend was not very
profound in his theology, and not wishing to discourage him, or keep him
from the table unless compelled to do so, began by asking what he
thought a safe question, and what would give him confidence. So he took
the Old Testament, and asked him, in reference to the Mosaic law, how
many commandments there were. After a little thought, he put his answer
in the modest form of a supposition, and replied, cautiously,
"Aiblins[24] a hunner." The clergyman was vexed, and told him such
ignorance was intolerable, that he could not proceed in examination, and
that the youth must wait and learn more; so he went away. On returning
home he met a friend on his way to the manse, and on learning that he
too was going to the minister for examination, shrewdly asked him,
"Weel, what will ye say noo if the minister speers hoo mony commandments
there are?" "Say! why, I shall say ten to be sure." To which the other
rejoined, with great triumph, "Ten! Try ye him wi' ten! I tried him wi'
a hunner, and he wasna satisfeed." Another answer from a little girl was
shrewd and reflective. The question was, "Why did the Israelites make a
golden calf?" "They hadna as muckle siller as wad mak a coo."

A kind correspondent has sent me, from personal knowledge, an admirable
pendant to stones of Scottish child acuteness and shrewd observation. A
young lady friend of his, resident in a part of Ayrshire rather remote
from any very satisfactory administration of the gospel, is in the habit
of collecting the children of the neighbourhood on Sundays at the "big
hoose," for religious instruction. On one occasion the class had
repeated the paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer, which contains
these lines--

"Give us this day our daily bread,
And raiment _fit_ provide."

There being no question as to what "daily bread" was, the teacher
proceeded to ask: "What do you understand by 'raiment fit,' or as we
might say, 'fit raiment?'" For a short time the class remained puzzled
at the question; but at last one little girl sung out "stockings and
shune." The child knew that "fit," was Scotch for feet, so her natural
explanation of the phrase was equivalent to "feet raiment," or
"stockings and shune," as she termed it.

On the point of changes in religious feelings there comes within the
scope of these Reminiscences a character in Aberdeenshire, which has now
gone out--I mean the popular and universally well-received Roman
Catholic priest. Although we cannot say that Scotland is a more
PROTESTANT nation than it was in past days, still religious differences,
and strong prejudices, seem at the present time to draw a more decided
line of separation between the priest and his Protestant countrymen. As
examples of what is past, I would refer to the case of a genial Romish
bishop in Ross-shire. It is well known that private stills were
prevalent in the Highlands fifty or sixty years ago, and no one thought
there was any harm in them. This good bishop, whose name I forget, was
(as I heard the late W. Mackenzie of Muirton assure a party at Dunrobin
Castle) several years previously a famous hand at brewing a good glass
of whisky, and that he distributed his mountain-dew with a liberal and
impartial hand alike to Catholic and to Protestant friends. Of this
class, I recollect, certainly forty-five years ago, Priest Gordon, a
genuine Aberdonian, and a man beloved by all, rich and poor. He was a
sort of chaplain to Menzies of Pitfodels, and visited in all the country
families round Aberdeen. I remember once his being at Banchory Lodge,
and thus apologising to my aunt for going out of the room:--"I beg your
pardon, Mrs. Forbes, for leaving you, but I maun just gae doun to the
garden and say my bit wordies"--these "bit wordies" being in fact the
portion of the Breviary which he was bound to recite. So easily and
pleasantly were those matters then referred to.

The following, however, is a still richer illustration, and I am assured
it is genuine:--"Towards the end of the last century, a worthy Roman
Catholic clergyman, well known as 'Priest Matheson,' and universally
respected in the district, had charge of a mission in Aberdeenshire, and
for a long time made his journeys on a piebald pony, the priest and his
'pyet shelty' sharing an affectionate recognition wherever they came. On
one occasion, however, he made his appearance on a steed of a different
description, and passing near a Seceding meeting-house, he forgathered
with the minister, who, after the usual kindly greetings, missing the
familiar pony, said, 'Ou, Priest! fat's come o' the auld Pyet? 'He's
deid, minister.' 'Weel, he was an auld faithfu' servant, and ye wad nae
doot gie him the offices o' the church?' 'Na, minister,' said his
friend, not quite liking this allusion to his priestly offices, 'I didna
dee that, for ye see he _turned Seceder afore he dee'd, an' I buried him
like a beast_.' He then rode quietly away. This worthy man, however,
could, when occasion required, rebuke with seriousness as well as point.
Always a welcome guest at the houses of both clergy and gentry, he is
said on one occasion to have met with a laird whose hospitality he had
thought it proper to decline, and on being asked the reason for the
interruption of his visits, answered, 'Ye ken, an' I ken; but, laird,
God kens!'"

One question connected with religious feeling, and the manifestation of
religious feeling, has become a more settled point amongst us, since
fifty years have expired. I mean the question of attendance by clergymen
on theatrical representations. Dr. Carlyle had been prosecuted before
the General Assembly in 1757 for being present at the performance of the
tragedy of Douglas, written by his friend John Home. He was acquitted,
however, and writes thus on the subject in his Memoirs:--

"Although the clergy in Edinburgh and its neighbourhood had abstained
from the theatre because it gave offence, yet the more remote clergymen,
when occasionally in town, had almost universally attended the
play-house. It is remarkable that in the year 1784, when the great
actress Mrs. Siddons first appeared in Edinburgh, during the sitting of
the General Assembly, that court was obliged to fix all its important
business for the alternate days when she did not act, as all the younger
members, clergy as well as laity, took their stations in the theatre on
those days by three in the afternoon."

Drs. Robertson and Blair, although they cultivated the acquaintance of
Mrs. Siddons in private, were amongst those clergymen, referred to by
Dr. Carlyle, who abstained from attendance in the theatre; but Dr.
Carlyle states that they regretted not taking the opportunity of
witnessing a display of her talent, and of giving their sanction to the
theatre as a place of recreation. Dr. Carlyle evidently considered it a
narrow-minded intolerance and bigoted fanaticism that clergymen should
be excluded from that amusement. At a period far later than 1784, the
same opinion prevailed in some quarters. I recollect when such
indulgence on the part of clergymen was treated with much leniency,
especially for Episcopalian clergy. I do not mean to say that there was
anything like a general feeling in favour of clerical theatrical
attendance; but there can be no question of a feeling far less strict
than what exists in our own time. As I have said, thirty-six years ago
some clergymen went to the theatre; and a few years before that, when my
brothers and I were passing through Edinburgh, in going backwards and
forwards to school, at Durham, with our tutor, a licentiate of the
Established Church of Scotland, and who afterwards attained considerable
eminence in the Free Church, we certainly went with him to the theatre
there, and at Durham very frequently. I feel quite assured, however,
that no clergyman could expect to retain the respect of his people or of
the public, of whom it was known that he frequently or habitually
attended theatrical representations. It is so understood. I had
opportunities of conversing with the late Mr. Murray of the Theatre
Royal, Edinburgh, and with Mr. Charles Kean, on the subject. Both
admitted the fact, and certainly if any men of the profession _could_
have removed the feeling from the public mind, these were the men to
have done it.

There is a phase of religious observances which has undergone a great
change amongst us within fifty years--I mean the services and
circumstances connected with the administration of the Holy Communion.
When these occurred in a parish they were called "occasions," and the
great interest excited by these sacramental solemnities may be gathered
from "Peter's Letters," "The Annals of the Parish," and Burns' "Holy
Fair." Such ceremonials are now conducted, I believe, just as the
ordinary church services. Some years back they were considered a sort of
preaching matches. Ministers vied with each other in order to bear away
the bell in popularity, and hearers embraced the opportunity of
exhibiting to one another their powers of criticism on what they heard
and saw. In the parish of Urr in Galloway, on one sacramental occasion,
some of the assistants invited were eminent ministers in Edinburgh; Dr.
Scot of St. Michael's, Dumfries, was the only local one who was asked,
and he was, in his own sphere, very popular as a preacher. A brother
clergyman, complimenting him upon the honour of being so invited, the
old bald-headed divine modestly replied, "Gude bless you, man, what can
I do? They are a' han' wailed[25] this time; I need never show face
among them." "Ye're quite mista'en," was the soothing encouragement;
"tak' your _Resurrection_ (a well-known sermon used for such occasions
by him), an I'll lay my lug ye'll beat every clute o' them." The Doctor
did as suggested, and exerted himself to the utmost, and it appears he
did not exert himself in vain. A batch of old women, on their way home
after the conclusion of the services, were overheard discussing the
merits of the several preachers who had that day addressed them from the
tent. "Leeze me abune them a'," said one of the company, who had waxed
warm in the discussion, "for yon auld clear-headed (bald) man, that
said, 'Raphael sings an' Gabriel strikes his goolden harp, an' a' the
angels clap their wings wi' joy.' O but it was gran', it just put me in
min' o' our geese at Dunjarg when they turn their nebs to the south an'
clap their wings when they see the rain's comin' after lang drooth."

There is a subject closely allied with the religious feelings of a
people, and that is the subject of their _superstitions_. To enter upon
that question, in a general view, especially in reference to the
Highlands, would not be consistent with our present purpose, but I am
induced to mention the existence of a singular superstition regarding
swine which existed some years ago among the lower orders of the east
coast of Fife. I can observe, in my own experience, a great change to
have taken place amongst Scotch people generally on this subject. The
old aversion to the "unclean animal" still lingers in the Highlands, but
seems in the Lowland districts to have yielded to a sense of its thrift
and usefulness[26]. The account given by my correspondent of the Fife
swinophobia is as follows:--

Among the many superstitious notions and customs prevalent among the
lower orders of the fishing towns on the east coast of Fife, till very
recently, that class entertained a great horror of swine, and even at
the very mention of the word. If that animal crossed their path when
about to set out on a sea voyage, they considered it so unlucky an omen
that they would not venture off. A clergyman of one of these fishing
villages having mentioned the superstition to a clerical friend, and
finding that he was rather incredulous on the subject, in order to
convince him told him he would allow him an opportunity of testing the
truth of it by allowing him to preach for him the following day. It was
arranged that his friend was to read the chapter relating to the herd of
swine into which the evil spirits were cast. Accordingly, when the first
verse was read, in which the unclean beast was mentioned, a slight
commotion was observable among the audience, each one of them putting
his or her hand on any near piece of iron--a nail on the seat or
book-board, or to the nails on their shoes. At the repetition of the
word again and again, more commotion was visible, and the words "cauld
airn" (cold iron) the antidote to this baneful spell, were heard issuing
from various corners of the church. And finally, on his coming over the
hated word again, when the whole herd ran violently down the bank into
the sea, the alarmed parishioners, irritated beyond bounds, rose and all
left the church in a body.

It is some time now, however, since the Highlanders have begun to
appreciate the thrift and comfort of swine-keeping and swine-killing. A
Scottish minister had been persuaded by the laird to keep a pig, and the
gudewife had been duly instructed in the mysteries of black puddings,
pork chops, and pig's head. "Oh!" said the minister, "nae doubt there's
a hantle o' miscellawneous eating aboot a pig."

Amongst a people so deeply impressed with the great truths of religion,
and so earnest in their religious profession, any persons whose
principles were known to be of an _infidel_ character would naturally be
looked on with abhorrence and suspicion. There is a story traditionary
in Edinburgh regarding David Hume, which illustrates this feeling in a
very amusing manner, and which, I have heard it said, Hume himself often
narrated. The philosopher had fallen from the path into the swamp at the
back of the Castle, the existence of which I recollect hearing of from
old persons forty years ago. He fairly stuck fast, and called to a woman
who was passing, and begged her assistance. She passed on apparently
without attending to the request; at his earnest entreaty, however, she
came where he was, and asked him, "Are na ye Hume the Atheist?" "Well,
well, no matter," said Hume; "Christian charity commands you to do good
to every one." "Christian charity here, or Christian charity there,"
replied the woman, "I'll do naething for you till ye turn a Christian
yoursell'--ye maun repeat the Lord's Prayer and the Creed, or faith
I'll let ye grafel[27] there as I fand ye." The historian, really afraid
for his life, rehearsed the required formulas.

Notwithstanding the high character borne for so many years by our
countrymen as a people, and as specially attentive to all religious
observances, still there can be no doubt that there has sprung up
amongst the inhabitants of our crowded cities, wynds, and closes, a
class of persons quite unknown in the old Scottish times. It is a great,
difficulty to get them to attend divine worship at all, and their
circumstances combine to break off all associations with public
services. Their going to church becomes a matter of persuasion and of
missionary labour.

A lady, who is most active in visiting the houses of these outcasts from
the means of grace, gives me an amusing instance of self-complacency
arising from performance of the duty. She was visiting in the West Port,
not far from the church established by my illustrious friend the late
Dr. Chalmers. Having asked a poor woman if she ever attended there for
divine service--"Ou ay," she replied; "there's a man ca'd Chalmers
preaches there, and I whiles gang in and hear him, just to encourage
him, puir body!"

From the religious opinions of a people, the transition is natural to
their political partialities. One great political change has passed over
Scotland, which none now living can be said to have actually
_witnessed_; but they remember those who were contemporaries of the
anxious scenes of '45, and many of us have known determined and thorough
Jacobites. The poetry of that political period still remains, but we
hear only as pleasant songs those words and melodies which stirred the
hearts and excited the deep enthusiasm of a past generation. Jacobite
anecdotes also are fading from our knowledge. To many young persons they
are unknown. Of these stories illustrative of Jacobite feelings and
enthusiasm, many are of a character not fit for me to record. The good
old ladies who were violent partisans of the Stuarts had little
hesitation in referring without reserve to the future and eternal
destiny of William of Orange. One anecdote which I had from a near
relative of the family may be adduced in illustration of the powerful
hold which the cause had upon the views and consciences of Jacobites.

A former Mr. Stirling of Keir had favoured the Stuart cause, and had in
fact attended a muster of forces at the Brig of Turk previous to the
'15. This symptom of a rising against the Government occasioned some
uneasiness, and the authorities were very active in their endeavours to
discover who were the leaders of the movement. Keir was suspected. The
miller of Keir was brought forward as a witness, and swore positively
that the laird was _not_ present. Now, as it was well known that he was
there, and that the miller knew it, a neighbour asked him privately,
when he came out of the witness-box, how he could on oath assert such a
falsehood. The miller replied, quite undaunted, and with a feeling of
confidence in the righteousness of his cause approaching the sublime--"I
would rather trust my soul in God's mercy than Keir's head into
their hands."

A correspondent has sent me an account of a curious ebullition of
Jacobite feeling and enthusiasm, now I suppose quite extinct. My
correspondent received it himself from Alexander, fourth Duke of Gordon,
and he had entered it in a commonplace-book when he heard it, in 1826.

"David Tulloch, tenant in Drumbenan, under the second and third Dukes
of Gordon, had been '_out_' in the '45--or the _fufteen, or both_--and
was a great favourite of his respective landlords. One day, having
attended the young Lady Susan Gordon (afterwards Duchess of Manchester)
to the 'Chapel' at Huntly, David, perceiving that her ladyship had
neither hassock nor carpet to protect her garments from the earthen
floor, respectfully spread his plaid for the young lady to kneel upon,
and the service proceeded; but when the prayer for the King and Royal
Family was commenced, David, _sans ceremonie_, drew, or rather
'twitched,' the plaid from under the knees of the astonished young lady,
exclaiming, _not_ sotto voce, 'The deil a ane shall pray for _them_ on
_my_ plaid!'"

I have a still more pungent demonstration against praying for the king,
which a friend in Aberdeen assures me he received from the son of the
gentleman who _heard_ the protest. In the Episcopal Chapel in Aberdeen,
of which Primus _John_ Skinner was incumbent, they commenced praying in
the service for George III. immediately on the death of Prince Charles
Edward. On the first Sunday of the prayer being used, this gentleman's
father, walking home with a friend whom he knew to be an old and
determined Jacobite, said to him, "What do you think of that, Mr.----?"

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