Noctes Ambrosianae, Vol. 4

Author(s): Wilson, Professor John


PART 13 will contain
Flight First — Glen-Etive.
Flight Second — The Coves of
Flight Third — Still Life.
Flight Fourth — Down River and
up Loch.



PHOC. ap. Ath.
[This is a distich by wise old Phocyliden,
An ancient who wrote crabbed Greek in no silly days;
An excellent rule of the hearty old cock 'tis —
And a very fit motto to put to our Noctes.]
C. N. ap. Ambr.
North dreaming of Elleray, . . . . . . 2
The Sycamore at Elleray, . . . . . . 3
The Selfishness of Love, . . . . . 4
A Water-spout.—The Fairy's Cleugh, . . . . . 5
The Fairy's Burial, . . . . . . 6
An Unseasonable Interruption, . . . . . 7
North repentant, . . . . . . 8
Tickler joins the Party, . . . . . . 9
The Ghost of the Gander, . . . . . . 10
Members of Parliament, . . . . . . 12
A Summer Storm, by C. Whitehead, . . . . . . 13
North's Memory, . . . . . . 14
"Come forth! Come forth!" . . . . . . 15
The Tent within and without, . . . . . . 16
The Spirit of the Scene, . . . . . . 17
Eubulus. — The Registrar sings, . . . . . . 18
Cuckoo! . . . . . . 19
Mudie's British Birds, . . . . . . 20
"Do you see our Vessel riding?" . . . . . . 21
Tickler sings, . . . . . . 22
Ambrose demented, . . . . . . 23
The Shepherd! the Shepherd! . . . . . . 24
Reconciliation, . . . . . . 25
The Shepherd wakens the Forest, . . . . . . 26
A Good Day's Fishing, . . . . . . 27
A Set-to with Tickler, . . . . . . 28
"Sam Anderson, my Joe Sam," . . . . . . 29
The Shepherd on Pindar, . . . . . . 30
Translation of Anacreon's "Come, thou best of Painters," . 31
Lines on a White Dove, . . . . . . 33
Daisies versus Dockens. — The Shepherd's Dog, . . . 34
Instinct, Reason. — Hogg's Lay Sermons, . . . . . . 35
North on setting fire to the Bed, . . . . . . 36
An Extract from Hogg's Lay Sermons, . . . . . . 37
Stories of the Wayside Well, . . . . . . 38
The Maimed Soldier. — The Childless Mother, . . . . . . 39
The Outcast. — Allan's Polish Exiles, . . . . . . 40
The Poles, . . . . . . 41
The Turk cringing to Russia, . . . . . . 42
Verses by B. Simmons, . . . . . . 43
Ho! Leopards of Albion, and Lilies of France, . . . 44
Pan, by Alcæus, . . . . . . 45
A Gathering around the Tent, . . . . . . 46
North's Coronation, . . . . . . 47
A Perfect Chrysolite, . . . . . . 48
The Fragrance of all that grows, . . . . . . 50
Tom Cringle, . . . . . . 51
Captain Marryat. — John Schetky, . . . . . . 52
Captain Glascock, . . . . . . 53
Cringle, Glascock, Hall, and Marryat: their Health in Four Bumpers, 54
The Antidote, . . . . . . 56
A Sunset, . . . . . . 57
The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens, . . . . . . 58
The Shepherd in London, . . . . . . 59
The Shepherd in the Park, . . . . . . 60
The Ladies in the Park, . . . . . . 61
The Shepherd is satisfied with his Lot, . . . 62
The Shepherd at the Play, . . . . . . 63
An Octogenarian Satyr, . . . . . . 64
The Shepherd's Indignation, . . . . . . 65
Sir Andrew Agnew. — Lord Brougham, . . . . . . 66
Observance of the Sabbath, . . . . . . 67
The Roman Catholic Sabbath, . . . . . . 68
The Scottish Sabbath, . . . . . . 69
How the Sabbath should be legislated for, . . . . 70
The Religious Character of the Scotch, . . . . 71
Contentment and Resignation, . . . . . . 72
The Three Homes, . . . . . . 73
Effects of Religion, . . . . . . 74
Christopher on Colonsay, . . . . . . 75
Vanity! Vanity! . . . . . . 76
The Shepherd being "drawn out," . . . . . . 77
North being "pitted," . . . . . . 78
North's Argumentum ad Canem, . . . . . . 79
A Party after the Shepherd's own Mind, . . . . 80
The Tails' Strike, . . . . . . 81.
A Funeral during the Strike, . . . . . . 82
A Strike in the Forest, . . . . . . 83
Spread of the Strike, . . . . . . 84
The Devil among the Tailors, . . . . . . 85
North beaten by the Flying Tailor, . . . . . . 86
The Longest Day, . . . . . . 87
View from the Leads. — Breakfast, . . . . . . 88
A Creature of the Element, . . . . . . 89
The Kirk-bell, the Drum, the Gong, the Girdle, . . . 91
A Dinner for Three, . . . . . . 92
Hydrophobia, . . . . . . 93
How Gurney came to Altrive, . . . . . . 94
The Shepherd's Dogs, . . . . . . 95
Guddling, . . . . . . 96
How the Grouse were got, . . . . . . 97
The Dogs among the Flappers, . . . . . . 98
Rover and the Hare, . . . . . . 99
A Witch in a Hare-skin, . . . . . . 100
The Shepherd's Contentment, . . . . . . 101
Rats. — Tickler's Bed, . . . . . . 102
Burns's and Cunningham's Songs, . . . . . . 103
The Shepherd's Love of Scotland, . . . . . . 104
Goethe's Faust, . . . . . . 105
Hamlet. — Shakespeare. — Hayward, . . . . 106
Prigs, . . . . . . 107
A Fool tarred and feathered, . . . . . . 108
The Oracular School of Poetry, . . . . . . 109
Shelley. — Leigh Hunt: his London Journal commended, . 110
Pope on "the Ruling Passion," . . . . . . 112
Pope's Doctrine dissected, . . . . . . 113
Passion depends on Circumstance, . . . . . . 114
A Ruling Passion narrows the Mind, . . . . . . 115
A Ruling Passion no Canon of Character, . . . . . . 116
Lord Cobham, . . . . . . 117
Pope's Doctrine is worthless, . . . . . . 118
North's Soporific, . . . . . . 119
Lord Brougham, . . . . . . 120
Lord Althorp, . . . . . . 121
Caligula's Consul, . . . . . . 122
The Term "Honest," . . . . . . 123
Lord Althorp's Good Nature, . . . . . . 124
The Reform Bill. — The Whigs, . . . . . . 125
Political Unions, . . . . . . 126
Severity of the Whig Government, . . . . . . 127
The Equivocator of the Age, . . . . . . 128
Baron Smith and O'Connell, . . . . . . 129
Lord Althorp and Sheil, . . . . . . 130
Lord Althorp's Apology, . . . . . . 131
The Tables turned on Lord Althorp, . . . . . . 132
Lord Althorp's Intrigue, . . . . . . 133
The Shepherd and King William, . . . . . . 134
The Modern Methusalem,.135
Cavaliers. — Tickler looking statuesque, . . . . 137
Pen-and-Ink Sketch of Christopher, . . . . . . 138
A Somerset, . . . . . . 189
North making his Toilet, . . . . . . 140
Shepherd killing a Salmon, . . . . . . 141
Tickler with a Sore Throat, . . . . . . 142
Monstra Natantia. — Shepherd as Laocoon, . . . . 143
A Warlock, . . . . . . 144
A Wren's Nest. — An Ant-hill, . . . . . . 145
A Bee-hive, . . . . . . 146
Nature's Darling Dunces, . . . . . . 147
Talent. — Genius. — Their Difference, . . . . . . 148
The Shepherd's Thoughts, . . . . . . 149
A Good Day's Shooting, . . . . . . 150
Partridges. — Grouse, . . . . . . 151
Black-cocks. — Grey-hens, . . . . . . 152
Shepherd's Mode of Shooting. — A Snipe, . . . . 153
Plunder, . . . . . . 154
They draw Lots for the Tureens, . . . . . . 155
The Shepherd's Description of an Eagle, . . . . 156
Shepherd in an Eagle's Eyrie, . . . . . . 157
His perilous Predicament, . . . . . . 158
The Murder of the Eaglets, . . . . . . 159
The Shepherd's Remorse. — His Rescue, . . . . 160
A Salmon. — Flying a Kite, . . . . . . 161
A Protest against Poaching. — Champagne, . . . . 162
A Plain Forest-dinner, . . . . . . 163
Education in Scotland, . . . . . . 164
The Age of Useful Knowledge, . . . . . . 165
Exceptions to the General Enlightenment, . . . . . . 166
A Libel on Englishwomen repelled, . . . . . . 167
Man should sustain his own Offspring, . . . . . . 168
A Libel on Englishmen repelled, . . . . . . 169
The Law of Love and Religion, . . . . . . 170
Shepherd on Sumptuary Laws, . . . . . . 171
Vice to be cured by Moral Influences, . . . . . . 172
Winter, . . . . . . 173
Burns's "Cottar's Saturday Night," . . . . 174
Burning of the Houses of Parliament, . . . . . . .175
Dinner in honour of Lord Napier, . . . . . . 176
Farewell — thou Bower of Peace, . . . . . . 177
Old Times. — Gurney's Peril, . . . . . . 179
Gurney's Resuscitation, . . . . . . 180
North as he was, and as he is, . . . . . . 181
A whole Golden Age, . . . . . . 182
Peasant's Love of Nature, . . . . . . 183
What is Beauty ? . . . . . . 184
Bell's Life in Londo, . . . . . . 185
Shepherd on Horse-racing, . . . . . . 186
Shepherd done brown, . . . . . . 187
Sporting Magazines, . . . . . . 188
Pugilism, . . . . . . 189
A Cause of British Spirit, . . . . . . 190
Fair Play. — Laws of the Ring,. . . . . . . 191
The Boxing Counties, . . . . . . 192
The London Ring, . . . . . . 193
A Canting M.P. . . . . . . 194
Inconsistent Legislation, . . . . . . 195
O'Connell, . . . . . . 196
Alas! for Ireland, . . . . . . 197
Outcry against Protestant Church, . . . . . . 193
The Grey Dinner, . . . . . . 199
Character of the Company, . . . . . . 200
A Few Exceptions, . . . . . . 201
Lord Grey's Admirers, . . . . . . 202
Meat before Grace, . . . . . . 203
Lord Grey's Speech, . . . . . . 204
Brougham. — Canning. — The Times, . . . . . . 205
Lord Durham, . . . . . . 206
The Durham Demonstration, . . . . . . 207
Its Outward and Visible Effects, . . . . . . 208
Whig-Rad Unanimity, . . . . . . 209
The Melbourne Ministry dissolved, . . . . . . 210
The Shepherd and the King's Messenger, . . . . . . 211
Whig Hatred of Royalty, . . . . . . 212
William IV., . . . . . . 213
The Melbourne Ministry, . . . . . . 214
Brougham's Correspondence with the King, . . . . 215
The Grey Ministry, . . . . . . 216
The Wellington and Peel Ministry, . . . . . 217
The Climate of Scotland,. . . . . . . 219
The Shepherd on Umbrellas, . . . . . . 220
Thunder in Winter, . . . . . . 221
Dante, . . . . . . 223
Shepherd blowing Soap bubbles, . . . . . . 223
Severe Disenchantment, . . . . . . 224
Recipe for a Sandwich, . . . . . . 225
Earthquake and Eclipse, . . . . . . 226
Newton — Bacon — Milton, . . . . . . 227
A Complicated Supper, . . . . . . 228
Radicals in the Grassmarket, . . . . . . 229
Mob Orators — Old Clothesmen, . . . . . . .230
An Apology for Breeches, . . . . . . 231
The People of Scotland, . . . . . . 232
A Domestic Tyrant, . . . . . . 233
Education, . . . . . . 234
The Dawn of Truth is gradual, . . . . . . 235
The Peel Ministry — Lord Stanley, . . . . . . 236
The Duke's Dictatorship, . . . . . . 237
The Morning Chronicle, . . . . . . 238
The Shepherd's Parrot, . . . . . . 239
Sir Robert Peel's Speech, . . . . . . 240
How the Melbourne Ministry perished, . . . . 241
Reaction against the Reform Bill, . . . . . . 242
Tickler Somnolent, . . . . . . 243
Shepherd on North and the Sun, . . . . . 245
Table-turning, . . . . . . 246
Shepherd on the Moon, . . . . . . 247
Shepherd on the Stars, . . . . . . 248
What is Spirit? . . . . . . 241
Our Conception of Spirit is as perfect as our Conception of Matter, 250
Why it seems to be less perfect, . . . . . . 252
Spirit is not cognisable by Sense, . . . . . . .253
The Infinite and Incomprehensible, . . . . . . 254
A Belief in the Spiritual is the Light of Life and of Science, . 255
A Wrestling Match? . . . . . . 257
The Shepherd's Transmigrations, . . . . . . 258
Shepherd as a Lion's Cub, . . . . . . 259
His Early Days, . . . . . . 260
A Lion in love, . . . . . . 261
A Virgin of the Wild, . . . . . . 262
'Twas thus I won my Genevieve, . . . . . . 263
Leonine Varieties, . . . . . . 264
The Terrible Tawney of Timbuctoo, . . . . . . 265
An Anthropophagus, . . . . . . 266
The Lion and the Unicorn, . . . . . . 267
The Death of the Lion, . . . . . . 268
Shepherd "pestered wi' a Popinjay," . . . . . . 269
A Fry.—National Manners, . . . . . . 270
The Shopocracy, . . . . . . 271
Manners of Whigs and Radicals, . . . . . . 272
The Manners of Literary Men, . . . . . . 273
Thomas Campbell, . . . . . . 274
The Term "Good Society," . . . . . . 275
A Man should be True to his Order, . . . . . . 276
Evil Spirit of Coteries, . . . . . . 277
Patriotism the Sympathy of Race, . . . . . . 278
The Scythians. — The Romans, . . . . . . 279
Analysis of Patriotism, . . . . . . 280
Posthumous Fame, . . . . . . 281
The Fanners of Patriotism, . . . . . . 282
The Schools of Patriotism, . . . . . . 283
Want of Patriotism is want of Feeling, . . . . . 284
Woe to the Citizen of the World, . . . . . . 285
Conservatism in the Forest, . . . . . . 286
The Trio vanish, . . . . . . 287
GLOSSARY, . . . . . . . . . 319
INDEX, . . . . . . . . . 339
(MAY 1834.)
PHOC. ap. Ath.
[This is a distich by wise old Phocylides,
An ancient who wrote crabbed Greek in no silly days;
An excellent rule of the hearty old cock 'tis —
And a very fit motto to put to our Noctes.]
C. N. ap. Ambr.
Scene I. — Tent in the Fairy's Cleugh.—NoRTH and the REGISTRAR¹
lying on the brae. (In attendance, AMBROSE and his
Registrar. — "The day is placid in its going,
To a lingering motion bound,
Like a river in its flowing —
Can there be a softer sound?"
What, my dear North! Can't I waken you from your
reverie even by a stanza of your own bard — Wordsworth
¹ "The Registrar" was Mr Samuel Anderson, formerly of the firm of
Brougham and Anderson, wine-merchants, Edinburgh. He afterwards obtained
from Lord Chancellor Brougham (his partner's brother) the appointment
of Registrar of the Court of Chancery. He was an esteemed friend of
Professor Wilson's, and a general favourite in society. He died in 1849.
Hollo! are you asleep, you old somnolent sinner? (Shouting
through the hollow of his hands into North's ear.) Nay, you
must be dead. That posture grows every hour more alarming,
and if this be not death, why then I pronounce it an
admirable imitation. Laid out! Limb and body stiff and
stark as a winter clod—mouth open—eyes ditto, and glazed
like a window-pane in frost. How white his lips! And is
there no breath? (Puts his pocket-mirror to North's mouth.)
Thank heaven it dims — he lives! North, I say again, you
old somnolent sinner, "awake, arise, or be for ever fallen!"
North (motionlessly soliloquising in a dream). Never in this
well-wooded world, not even in the days of the Druids, could
there have been such another Tree! It would be easier to
suppose two Shakespeares.
Registrar. Sleeping or waking — always original. I must
let the bald-headed bard enjoy a little while longer his delusion.
(Pats North on the forehead.) What a pile!
North. Yet have I heard people say it is far from being a
large Tree. A small one it cannot be with a house in its shadow.
An unawakened house that looks as if it were dreaming!
True, 'tis but a cottage — a Westmoreland cottage
Registrar. The buck is at the Lakes.
North. But then it has several roofs shelving away there in
the lustre of loveliest lichens —
Registrar. "And apt alliteration's artful aid." Yet methinks
such affectations are beneath the dignity of his genius.
Kit, you're a conceited callant.
North. Each roof with its own assortment of doves and
pigeons pruning their plumage in the morning pleasance.
Registrar. Again? Poo — poo — on such prettinesses,
North. The sun is not only a great genius, but what is far
better, a good Christian.
Registrar. That's not so much amiss by way of an obs.
North. Now is he rising to illuminate all nature; yet in his
universal mission, so far from despising this our little humble
dwelling, God bless his gracious countenance! he looks as if
for it and for us he were bringing back the beautiful day from
the sea.
Registrar. The habits and customs of our waking life we
carry along with us into dream-land. The unit calls himself
North. O sweetest and shadiest of all Sycamores —
Registrar. Incurable.
North. — we love thee beyond all other Trees — because
thou art here!¹ May we be buried below thee, and our coffin
clasped by thy roots — "and curst be he who stirs our bones!"
Registrar. Again — our bones. Indeed there is little else of
him now. The anatomic vivante would find it difficult to be
much more of a skeleton were he a corpse. Yet he is a true
Scotchman — for his bones are raw. Could it be — as tradition
reports — that he was once inclining to corpulency — "like two
single gentlemen rolled into one!" All the fat has melted
in the fire of his genius, — gone "like snaw aff a dyke" — and
the dyke itself "a rickle o' stanes!"²
North. Yet have we lived, all our lives, in the best sylvan
society — we have the entrée of the soirées of the Pines, the
Elms, the Ashes, and the Oaks, the oldest and highest families
in Britain.
Registrar. The old Tory! Aristocratical in his dwawms!
North. Nor have they disdained to receive us with open
arms, when, after having been "absent long and distant far,"
we have found them again, on our return to park or chase, as
stately as ever among the groups of deer!
Registrar. In Mar Forest — with the Thane.
North. But with this one single Tree — this sole sweet Sycamore
— are we in love. Yet so spiritual is our passion, that
we care not even if it be unreturned!
Registrar. In the Platonics.
North. Self-sufficient for its own happiness is our almost
life-long affection, pure as it is profound — no jealousy ever
disturbs its assured repose. SHE may hold dalliance with
all the airs and lights and shadows of heaven — may open her
bosom to the thunder-glooms — take to her inmost heart, in its
delirious madness, the shivering storm.
Registrar. Who could have thought there was so much
imagination left within those temples —
"His lyart haffets³ wearing thin and bare!"
¹ That is, at Elleray, Professor Wilson's seat on the banks of Windermere.
Here he built a commodious house; but the original "cottage" was overshadowed
by a luxuriant sycamore, of which he is now dreaming.
² A rickle o' stanes — a heap of stones.
³ Lyart haffets — grey-haired temples.
North. Oh! blessed is the calm that breathes over all emotions
inspired by the beauty of lifeless things! Love creates
delight that dies not till she dies; and then, indeed, dead
seems all the earth. But wherever Love journeys — ay, be
it through the Great Desert — before her feet "Beauty pitches
her tents." And oh! how divine their slumber — of Love in
the arms of Beauty — by the Palm-tree Well!
Registrar. What a pity the creature never wrote in verse!
North. Alas! not so with Love — when Love, a male
spirit —
Registrar. That's heterodox, old boy — seraphs are of no
North. — is in love with the fairness of a Thing with
life —
Registrar. A Thing with life!
North. — how often is the imagination alarmed, as by
the tolling of a bell in the air for some unknown funeral;
and while it knows not why, the whole region, even but
now bathed in day, grows night-like! and the heart is
Registrar. Ay, ay — my dear friend, I too have felt that,
for, gay as I am, North, to the public eye, you know, Kit, that
I have had my sorrows.
North. That virgin, Heaven may have decreed, shall be the
wife of your dearest foe. O! the cruel selfishness of Love's
religion! That fear is worse than the thought even of her
death! Rather than see her walking all in white, and with
white roses in her hair, into the church, leaning on that arm,
her fair face crimsoning with blushes at the altar, as if
breathed from the shadow of a rosy cloud, Love would see
her carried, all in white, with white roses in her hair then
too, towards that hole in the churchyard — a hole into which
distraction has crowded and heaped all that is most dismal on
this side of hell — her pale face — though that he dares not
dream of — yellowing within her coffin.
Registrar. Nay, that's too much — hang me if I can stand
that — ne quid nimis, North — and for having made me blubber,
you shall have your face freshened, my lad, with the Woodburn.

[Runs down to the Wood-burn, fills his hat to the brim, and
dashes the contents into the face of the Dormant.
North (starting up in a splutter). Whew! a water-spout! a
water-spout! Sam! Sam! Sam! Where are you, First
Registrar. What's all this?
North. A mystery, Sam. Not a cloud in the sky — yet, look
here —
Registrar. A mystery indeed! Never till this day beheld
I the beau-ideal of a drowned rat.
North (musing). There are more things in heaven and earth
than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Samuel.
Registrar. My philosophy! I make no pretensions to philosophy
— but won't you walk into the Tent, and change yourself,
North. A Scotticism, Sam, a palpable Scotticism. No — I
will never change myself; but to the last be Christopher
North. Ah, Sam! I am up to your tricks; but was it kind —
was it fair, to steal upon my slumbers so, and take advantage
of my sleeping innocence? "I had a dream, yet 'twas not
all a dream." I thought I was at Windermere, beneath the
shadow of the sycamore, and that for me, and for me alone,
"Jocund Morn
Stood tiptoe on you rosy mountain's head."
Registrar. And here we are in the Fairy's Cleugh, among
the mountains of —
North. Peeblesshire, Dumfriesshire, Lanarkshire, for here
all three counties get inextricably entangled; yet in their
pastoral peace they quarrel not for the dominion of this nook,
central in the hill-heart, and haunted by the Silent People.
Registrar. You do not call us silent people! Why, you outtalk
a spinning-jenny, and the mill-clapper stops in despair at
the volubility of your speech.
North. Elves, Sam — Elves. Is it not the Fairy's Cleugh?
Registrar. And here have been "little feet that print the
ground." But I took them for those of hares —
North. These, Sam, are not worm-holes — nor did Mole the
miner upheave these pretty little pyramids of primroses — for
these, Sam, are all Fairy palaces, — and yonder edifice that
towers above the Lady-Fern — therein now sleeps — let us
speak low, and disturb her not — the Fairy Queen, waiting for
the moonlight — and soon as the orb shows her rim rising from
behind Birk-fell — away to the ring will she be gliding with
all the ladies of her Court —
Registrar. And we will join the dance — Kit —
North. Remember — then — that I am engaged to —
Registrar. So am I — three-deep.
North. Do you know, Sam, that I dreamed a dream?
Registrar. You cannot keep a secret, for you blab in your
North. Ay — both talk and walk. But I dreamed that I saw
a Fairy's funeral, and that I was myself a fairy.
Registrar. A warlock.
North. No — a pretty little female fairy, not a span long.
Registrar. Ha! ha! ha!
North. And they asked me to sing her dirge, and then I
sang — for sorrow in sleep, Sam, is sometimes sweeter than any
joy — ineffably sweet — and thus comes back wavering into my
memory the elegiac strain.
Where shall our sister rest?
Where shall we bury her?
To the grave's silent breast
Soon we must hurry her!
Gone is the beauty now
From her cold bosom!
Down droops her livid brow,
Like a wan blossom!
Not to those white lips cling
Smiles or caresses!
Dull is the rainbow wing,
Dim the bright tresses!
Death now hath claimed his spoil —
Fling the pall over her!
Lap we earth's lightest soil,
Wherewith to cover her!
Where down in yonder vale
Lilies are growing,
Mourners the pure and pale,
Sweet tears bestowing!
Morning and evening dews
Will they shed o'er her;
Each night their task renews
How to deplore her!
Here let the fern-grass grow,
With its green drooping!
Let the narcissus blow,
O'er the wave stooping!
Let the brook wander by,
Mournfully singing!
Let the wind murmur nigh,
Sad echoes bringing!
And when the moonbeams shower,
Tender and holy,
Light on the haunted hour
Which is ours solely,
Then will we seek the spot
Where thou art sleeping,
Holding thee unforgot
With our long weeping!
Ambrose (rushing out of the Tent). Mr Tickler, sirs, Mr Tickler!
Yonder's his head and shoulders rising over the knoll —
in continuation of his herald the rod.
North (savagely). Go to the devil, sir.
Ambrose (petrified). Ah! ha! ha! ah! si — sir — pa — pa —
North (unmollified). Go to the devil, I say, sir. Are you deaf?
Ambrose (going, going, gone). I beseech you, Mr Registrar —
North (grimly). "How like a fawning publican he looks!"
Registrar. A most melancholy example of a truth I never
believed before, that poetical and human sensibility are altogether
distinct — nay, perhaps, incompatible! North, forgive
me (North grasps the Crutch); but you should be ashamed of
yourself — nay, strike, but hear me!
North (smiling after a sort). Well — Themistocles.
Registrar. You awaken out of a dream-dirge of Faëry
Land — where you, by force of strong imagination, were a
female fairy, not a span long — mild as a musical violet, if one
might suppose one, "by a mossy stone half-hidden from the
eye," inspired with speech.
North. I feel the delicacy of the compliment.
Registrar. Then you feel something very different, sir, I
assure you, from what I intended, and still intend, you shall
feel; for your treatment of my friend Mr Ambrose was shocking.

North. I declare on my conscience, I never saw Ambrose!
Registrar. What! aggravate your folly by falsehood!
Then are you a lost man — and —
North. I thought it a stirk staggering in upon me at the
close of a stanza that —
Registrar. And why did you say "sir?" Nay—nay —
that won't pass. From a female fairy, not a span long, "and
even the gentlest of all gentle things," you suffer yourself to
transform you into a Fury six feet high! and wantonly insult
a man who would not hurt the feelings of a wasp.
North (humbly). I hope I am not a wasp.
Registrar. I hope not, sir; but permit me, who am not one
of your youngest friends, to say to you confidentially, that
you were just now very unlike a bee.
North (hiding his face with both his hands). All sting — and
no honey. Spare me, Sam.
Registrar. I will. But the world would not have credited
it, had she heard it with her own ears. Are you aware, sir,
that you told Mr Ambrose "to go to the devil?"
North (agitated). And has he gone?
Registrar (beckoning on Ambrose, who advances). Well,
North. Ambrose! Do you forgive me?
Ambrose (falling on one knee). No — no — no — my dear sir —
my honoured master —
North. Alas! Ambrose — I am not even master of myself.
Ambrose. It was all my fault, sir. I ought to have looked
first to see if you were in the poetics. Such intrusion was
most unpardonable — for (smiling and looking down) shall mere
man obtrude on the hour of inspiration — when
"The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Glances from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven,
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, turns them to shape,
And gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name!"
Registrar. Who suffers, Ambrose?
Ambrose. Shakespeare, sir. Mr Tickler! Mr Tickler! Mr
Tickler! (catching up his voice) Mr Tick —
Registrar. Yea — verily — and 'tis no other!
Tickler (stalking up the brae — rod in hand — and creel on his
shoulder — with his head well laid back — and his nose pretty perpendicular
with earth and sky). Well — boys — what's the news?
And how are you off for soap? How long here? Ho! ho! The
North. Since Monday evening — and if my memory serve
me right, this is either Thursday or Friday. Whence, Tim?
Tickler. From the West. But is there any porter?
Ambrose (striving to draw). Ay — ay — sir.
Tickler. You may as well try to uproot that birk. Give it me.
[Puts the bottle between his feet — stoops — and lays on his
Registrar (jogging North). Oh! for George Cruikshank!
Tickler (loud explosion and much smoke). The Jug.
Ambrose. Here, sir.
Tickler (teeming). Brown stout. The porter's in spate. THE
Omnes. Hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra!
hurra! hurra!
Ambrose. Hip — hip — hip —
Registrar. Hush!
Tickler. Hech! That draught made my lugs crack. Oh!
Kit! — there was a grand ploy at Paisley.
North. Since Gordon was not to be the man, I rejoice
in Sandford.¹
Tickler. Dan dang the Radicals all into the dirt. The lad
has spunk, Kit — is eloquent — and will do. He did not leave
Crawford the likeness o' a dowg.
North. I hope he left Douglas the likeness of a gander.²
Tickler. Scarcely. John waddled away, with his disconsolate
doup (Anglicè, dolp) sweeping the dust from the plain--
stones so clean, that he left behind him no print of his splay
web-feet. He could not so much as cry quack. His plight
was so piteous, that the brown-duffled damsels at the mouths
of the closes absolutely shed tears. The clique accompanied
him past the Abercorn Arms — I speak of what I saw — for I
was leaning over some pretty dears who filled the bow--
window — and he did his best to look magnifique, the gander
at the head of his goslings — but it would not do. Once he
¹ Captain Gordon, one of the unsuccessful candidates who in March 1834
stood for the representation of Paisley, had in the preceding Parliament been
M.P. for Dundalk, and was distinguished for his advocacy of Protestant and
constitutional principles. The election was carried by Sir Daniel Kyte Sandford,
Professor of Greek in the University of Glasgow, who resigned his seat
after having held it for a very few months.
² See ante, vol. iii. p. 212.
paused before a pretty large mob of small ragamuffins, as if
he would address them in his native lingo — but his opened
bill gave but a gasp, as if the iron hand of adversity clutched
his neck — and all he uttered was a hiss.
North. Poor payment to his supporters.
Registrar. His bill — at sight.
Ambrose (laughing). Very good, Mr Registrar — very good.
The wittiest of the witty are you, sir — but, pardon me —
nature gave Ambrose a quick sense of the ludicrous —
Registrar. And of the pathetic.
North. Waddled he, think ye, Tickler, all the way from
Cross to Cross?
Tickler. The story ran that he took rest and refuge on the
top of the Cheap-and-Nasty.
North. On the road are there no pools?
Tickler. But one; and in he went. 'Twas thick and slab —
and he came out green mud.
North. After dinner I shall dedicate to him a voluntary and
extemporaneous song.
Tickler. No. Now's the time. I shall save you the
trouble, Kit — for I have an elegy in my pocket. You know
Burns's fine lines, written among the ruins of Lincluden
Abbey. My genius is original, and I scorn to imitate even
rare Rab — but taking a solitary stroll the evening after the
election, through a scene that used to be a favourite haunt of
mine of old, I know not how it happened, but Rab's lines
came into my mind — and sitting down on a tombstone, I saw
a Vision.
Ambrose (pale). A ghost, sir?
Tickler. Ay, Brosey — a ghost. You are a topping elocutionist,
Ambrose, and I would gladly request you to recite.
But my MS. is very cat-paw-ish — and, besides, poets like to
tip off their verses trippingly from their own tongues; so
here goes —
"Alas, poor ghost!"
Through Glasgow's fair town, in the dead of the night,
As homeward I went on my way,
Each star in the heavens shone beauteous and bright,
And the goddess in mantle of silvery light
Held her gentle and lady-like sway.
By the church of ST MUNGO I silently pass'd,
And thought on the days that are gone,
And how long any church might be likely to last
In the new Reformation that's coming so fast —
When the bell of the steeple tolled ONE!
And the sound of that dismal and deafening bell
Was hardly yet out of mine ear,
When there suddenly rose a strange, ominous smell,
And 'twas fearful to think, but too easy to tell,
That the GHOST OF THE GANDER was near!
And lo! the fat Phantom — the Spectre was there!
My nerves they are none of the best —
But I mutter'd my shortest and readiest prayer,
And, holding my nose with particular care,
I gazed on the Goose of the West.
Oh! how changed, since the day when he carried the prize,
Was his carcass, all blister'd and bare!
Yet, changed as he was, you might still recognise
Some features of more than unnatural size,
And THE BADGE he continues to wear.
'Twas a sad and a sorrowful thing to behold
The featherless spirit of woe,
As standing before me he shivered with cold,
Yet thought with affright of his roasting of old,
When by Ambrose he first was laid low
And while all now was hushed in a stillness profound,
'Twas dismal and doleful to hear
The Phantom, with voice of a tremulous sound,
As he poured forth his griefs to the echoes around,
Unconscious that mortal was near.
"Oh! hard is my lot," did the Gander exclaim,
"Cut off in my prowess and pride,
While Glasgow, fair Glasgow, the scene of my fame,
Makes a jest of my fate — and my well-earned name
Is the sport both of CART and of CLYDE!
"I might have my frailties—but oh! was it meet
That my merits should thus be forgot?
And that here I should stand — for alas for my seat! —
An example of honest ambition's defeat
By a foul and unnatural plot!
"My place in our National Council of Geese
I almost had reckoned secure;
And oft did I think how my fame would increase,
And inferior gabbling all suddenly cease —
When the Gander advanced on the floor!
"But, visions of grandeur and glory, farewell!
My spirit, disturbed and distrest,
To the owls and the echoes the story must tell —
How formerly flourished and recently fell
The unfortunate Goose of the West"
It ceased; and surprised, as I surely well might,
I thought, as I went on my way,
That the very next morning to HIBBERT I'd write
How thus I had learnt from a spirit of night
That "every Goose has his day!"
Omnes. Alas! poor ghost!
Ambrose. He! he! he! he!
Registrar. I wonder, sir, you do not pitch your tent — take
up house — all the summer months among the hills or mountains.

North. For an old man, Sam, fondish of literature, nothing
like a suburban summer residence like the Lodge. I confess I
cannot do now without a glance at the new publications —
and you cannot get that in rural retirement. A well-chosen
library, consisting of the same everlasting books, aggravates
the wretchedness of a wet day in the country — and it is
desirable that the key of the room be lost, or something
incurably wrong with the lock. The man who reads only all
the best authors is sure to have a most unmeaning face.
Registrar. I would rather read all the worst.
Tickler. That you might have a countenance beaming with
intelligence. Members of Parliament seem to read no books
at all. I know no jabber so sickening as jabber about "the
House." A puppy of a Representative conceives all human
knowledge confined to a "Committee of the whole House," —
to which he believes all things under the sun have been
"referred," — or made the subject of a "motion." He loses
his seat, sings small, and for the rest of his life
Registrar. Is a sumph. For a year or two he is occasionally
heard intimidating one of the Seven Young Men,¹ with, "when
I was in Parliament;" but people above the salt look incredulous
or contemptuous, and the quondam statesman restricts
himself on "Divisions " to his poor wife.
North. No politics, Sam. Pray, did either of you ever read
The Solitary, a poem, in Three Parts, by Charles Whitehead?
Both. No.
North. It is full of fine thoughts and feelings, and contains
some noble descriptions. Some of the stanzas committed
themselves to my memory — and I think I can recite three,
suggested by the quiet of the scene — for they are pregnant
with tempest.
"As when, of amorous night uncertain birth,
The giant of still noontide, weary grown,
Crawls sultrily along the steaming earth,
And basks him in the meadows sunbeam-strown,
Anon, his brow collapses to a frown,
Unto his feet he springs, and bellows loud,
With uncouth rage pulls the rude tempest down,
Shatters the woods, beneath his fury bowed,
And hunts the frighted winds, and huddles cloud on cloud.
"Nor rests, but by the heat to madness stung,
With headlong speed tramples the golden grain,
And, at a bound, over the mountains flung,
Grasps the reluctant thunder by the mane,
And drags it back, girt with a sudden chain
Of thrice-braced lightning; now, more fiercely dire,
Slipt from its holds, flies down the hissing rain;
The labouring welkin teems with leaping fire
That strikes the straining oak, and smites the glimmering spire.
"And yet at length appeased he sinks, and spent,
Gibbers far off over the misty hills,
And the stained sun, through a cloud's jagged rent,
Goes down, and all the west with glory fills ;
A fresher bloom the odorous earth distils,
A richer green reviving nature spreads,
The water-braided rainbow melting, spills
Her liquid light into the air, and sheds
Her lovely hues upon the flowers' dejected heads."
¹ See ante, vol. i. p. 235, note 2.
Registrar. You have a miraculous memory, sir.
North. I have indeed. I can remember nothing that does not
interest me — and months of my existence in every year now,
Sam, are a blank. That faculty called Recollection, in me is
weak. When I try to exert it, I seem to "hunt half-a-day for
a forgotten dream." But the past comes upon me in sudden
flashes — without active will of my own — and sometimes one
flash illuminates the whole mental horizon, and lo! lying outspread
below what was once a whole present world. No idea
of past time distinguishes it as a dream — I am, as it were,
born again—Heaven and earth re-created — and with the beautiful
vision, believed to be a reality, is blended the burning
spirit of youth.
Registrar. That is Imagination, sir — Genius — not Memory.
North. No, Sam, it is neither Memory, nor Imagination, nor
Genius, but a mysterious re-revelation — made not by but to
my soul — the same as happens to all men in sleep.
Registrar. Is it true, sir, that you have by heart all Spenser's
Faery Queen?
North. As great a lie as ever was uttered. But thousands
and tens of thousands of small poems lie buried alive in my
mind; and when I am in a perfectly peaceful mood, there is a
resurrection of the beautiful, like flocks of flowers issuing out
of the ground, at touch of Spring. I am in a perfectly peaceful
mood now. And since you like to hear me recite poetry,
my dear Registrar, I will murmur you a few stanzas, that
must have committed themselves to my memory, for I feel
assured I did not write them, yet I have no recollection of
them — mind that word — and perhaps they will take their
flight now, like a troop of doves that on a sudden are seen
wheeling in the sunshine, and then melt away from the eye to
be seen nevermore.
Come forth, come forth! it were a sin
To stay at home to-day!
Stay no more loitering within,
Come to the woods away!
The long green grass is filled with flowers,
The clover's deep dim red
Is brightened with the morning showers
That on the winds have fled.
Scatter'd about the deep blue sky,
In white and flying clouds,
Some bright brief rains are all that lie
Within those snowy shrouds.
Now, look! — our weather-glass is spread —
The pimpernel, whose flower
Closes its leaves of spotted red
Against a rainy hour.
That first pale green is on the trees;
That verdure more like bloom;
Yon elm-bough bath a horde of bees,
Lured by the faint perfume.
The cherry orchard flings on high
Its branches, whence are strown
Blossoms like snow, but with an eye
Dark, maiden, as thine own!
As yet our flowers are chiefly those
Which fill the sun-touch'd bough;
Within the sleeping soil repose
Those of the radiant brow.
But we have daisies, which, like love
Or hope, spring everywhere;
And primroses, which droop above
Some self-consuming care.
So sad, so spiritual, so pale,
Born all too near the snow,
They pine for that sweet southern gale,
Which they will never know.
It is too soon for deeper shade;
But let us skirt the wood,
The blackbird there, whose nest is made
Sits singing to her brood.
These pleasant hours will soon be flown;
Love! make no more delay —
I am too glad to be alone,
Come forth with me to-day!
Ambrose. Dinner on the table, sir.
North. As my old friend Crewe — the University Orator at
Oxford — concludes his fine poem of Lewesdon Hill —
"To-morrow for severer thought, but now
To dinner, and keep festival to-day."
Scene II. Time — Four o' Clock.
Scene changes to the interior of the Tent. DINNER — Salmon —
Turbot — Trout — Cod — Haddocks — Whitings— Turkey —
Goose — Veal-pie — Beefsteak ditto — Chicken — Ham — THE
ROUND — Damson, Cherry, Currant, Grozet (this year's)
Tarts, &c. &c. &c.
Scene III. Time — Five o' Clock.
Without change of place. DESSERT — Melons — Grapes — Grozets
— Pine-apples — Golden Pippins — New-Yorkers — Filberts —
Hazels. WINES — Champagne — Claret — Port — Madeira —
Cold Punch in the Dolphin — GLENLIVET IN THE TOWER OF
BABEL — Water in the Well.
North. Ambrose, tuck up the tent-door. Fling it wide
[AMBROSE lets in heaven.
Registrar. "Beautiful exceedingly!"
North. Ne'er before was tent pitched in the Fairy's Cleugh!
I selected the spot, gents, from a memory, where lie many
thousand worlds — great and small — and of the tiny not one
sweeter, sure, than this before our eyes!
Registrar. I wonder how — by what fine process — you chose!
Yet why, might I ask my own heart — why now do I fix on one
face, one form, and see but them — haunted as my imagination
might be with the images of all the loveliest in the land!
Tickler. Sam! you look as fresh as a daisy.
North. That is truly a vista. Those hills — for we must
not call them mountains—how gently they come gliding down
from the sky, on each side of the vale-like glen! —
Registrar. Yale-like glen! Thank you, North — that is the
very word.
North. — separated but by no wide level of broomy
greensward — if that be a level, broken as you see it with frequent
knolls — most of them rounded softly off into pastures,
some wooded, and here and there, one with but a single tree,
the white-stemmed, sweet-scented birk —
Registrar. Always lady-like with her delicate tresses, however
humble her birth.
North. Should we say that the "spirit of the scene" is sylvan
or pastoral?
Registrar. Both.
North. Sam! how is it I see no sheep?
Registrar. Sheep and lambs there must be many — latent
somewhere; and I have often noticed, sir, a whole green region
without a symptom of life, though I knew that it was
not a store-farm, and that there must be some hundred scores
of the woolly people within startling of the same low mutter
of the thunder-cloud.
North. How soon a rill becomes a river!
Registrar. A boy a man!
North. That is the source of the Woodburn, Sam, that well
within five yards of our tent.
Registrar. How the Naiad must be enjoying the wine-cooler!
Imbibing — inhaling the aroma, yet returning more
than she receives, and tinging the taste of that incomparable
claret — vintage 1811 — with her own sweet breath! Whose?
North. Albert Cay's.¹
Registrar. Listen, lads—all around, and above,
"Sounds that are silence to the ear."
I see no insects, yet the air lowly hums — that ground-breath
must be that of the grass growing — of the soft unfolding of
many millions of flowers, — bees utter not a word at their work,
but murmur as they fly, for the music is in their wings — yet
coming and going, the wilderness can scarcely hear them, for
'tis only when careering round and round some strange object
that the creatures make much noise. Seldom have I seen so
far and high up, so soon in the season, such splendid moths.
But of all life, theirs is the most entirely divested of sound.
Fine-ear himself could not have heard that lovely one alight
on the stone — still and steady the living speck as a weather--
stain, yet shut your eyes a few moments — look, and it is gone!
¹ A wine-merchant in Edinburgh.
North. —
"Oh many are the poets that are sown
By nature!"
and thou, dear Sam, art of the number; but "wanting the
accomplishment of verse."
Registrar. I occasionally amuse myself with a metrical version
from the Greek; and I hope to send you a trifle or two
for your next Anthology. We scholars in England liked those
articles very much indeed;—you should resume the series.
Here is a silly thought from Eubulus.
Tickler. Eubulus! Give us the Greek, Sam.
Registrar. —
Τρείς γάρ μόνους χρατήρας έγχεραννύ
Τοίς εύ φρονούσι·τόν μέν ύγιείας ένα,
'Ον πρώτον έχπίνουσι· τόν δε δεύτερον
'Ερωτος ήδονής τε· τόν δέ τζίτον δ' ϋπνου,
"Ον είς πίοντες όι σοφοι χεχλχημένοι
"Οιχαδε βαδιζουο . ό δέ τέταρτος όυχέτι
Ημέτέρός έστ', άλλ' ϋβρεως. ό δέ πέμπτος. βοης.
"Εχτος δέ μαυίας, ώστε χαι βάλειν ποιειν
Πολύς γάρ έις εν μιχρόν άγγεις Χυθεις
'Υποσχελιξει ραστα τους πεπωχότς.
Tickler (in amazement). Πολυφλοισζοιο θαλασης!
Registrar. Genitive case for the vocative! Oh, soul of Sir
John Cheek!¹ —Now, Tim, you smile at my scholarship; but
here is old Eubulus in the English tongue.
(REGISTRAR sings.)
Three goblets of wine
Alone should comprise
The extent of the tipple
Of those that are wise.
The first is for health;
And the second I measure,
To be quaffed for the sake
Of love and of pleasure.
¹ Sir John Cheke, Professor of Greek at Cambridge. Born in 1514, died 1557.
The third is for sleep;
And, while it is ending,
The prudent will homeward
Be thinking of wending.
The fourth, not our own,
Makes insolence glorious;
And the fifth ends in shouting,
And clamour uproarious.
And those who a sixth
Down their weasands are pouring,
Already are bruising,
And fighting, and flooring.
Oh! the tight little vessel,
If often we fill it,
How it trips up the heels
Of those who may swill it!
Tickler. Registrar, thou warblest well! — and Eubulus was
a trump.
North. Cuckoo! cuckoo! cuckoo! — Yonder she goes! — see,
see, Sam! — flitting along the faint blue haze on the hillside,
across the burn. In boyhood, never could I catch a glimpse
of the bird any more than Wordsworth.
"For thou wert still a hope! — a joy! Still longed for, never seen."
But so 'tis with us in our old age. All the mysteries that
held our youth in wonderment, and made life poetry, dissolve
— and we are sensible that they were all illusions: while
other mysteries grow more awful; and what we sometimes
hoped, in the hour of passion, might be illusions, are seen to
be God's own truths, terrible to sinners, and wearing a ghastly
aspect in the gloom of the grave!
Tickler. Cuckoo! cuckoo! cuckoo!
North. She has settled again on some spray — for she is
always mute, gents, as she flies! And I have stood right below
her, within three yards of her anomalous ladyship, as,
down head and up tail, with wings slightly opening from her
sides, and her feathers shivering, she took far and wide possession
of the stillness with her voice, mellow as if she lived
on honey; and indeed I suspect, Sam — though the bridegroom
eluded my ken — that with them two 'twas the honeymoon.
Have you seen Mudie's British Birds, Tickler? 'Tis a delightful
work — and I must have an article on it in a month or
two — for Mr Mudie is one of the naturalists I love best — he
has studied nature in the fields and woods, and by the banks
and braes of streams, all up to the highest waterfall, beyond
which there are neither trouts —
Registrar. Nor minnows.
North. My dear Registrar, these were charming lines you
repeated to me last night. Even Tickler would be moved
by them.
Tickler. I have a thorough contempt for all poetry; and I
beg leave to say now, before going farther, that if we are to
be bothered with any more lines, and absurd —
North. I fear, Mr Tickler, there has been some mistake.
Pray, have you got in your pocket my card of invitation to
the Tent?
Tickler. Um!
North. Not that Sam and I had any objections to your
joining us; but as your presence was quite an unexpected
pleasure, perhaps, on reconsideration, you will permit the
Registrar to grant my request.
[TICKLER scrapes caddis from his cotton jacket, and stuff,
his ears.
(REGISTRAR repeats.)
Do you see our vessel riding
At her anchor in yon bay,
Like a sleeping sea-bird biding
For the morrow's onward way?
See her white wings folded round her,
Rocked upon the lulling deep-Hath
the silent moonlight bound her
With a chain of peace and sleep?
Seems she not, as if enchanted
To that lone and lovely place,
Henceforth ever to be haunted
By that fair ship's shadowy grace?
Yet come here again to-morrow,
Not a vestige will remain;
Though those sweet eyes strain in sorrow,
They will watch the waves in vain.
'Twas for this I bade thee meet me:
For one parting word and tear;
Other lands and lips may greet me,
None will ever seem so dear.
Other lands — I may say other!
Mine again I shall not see!
I have left my aged mother —
She has other sons than me.
Where my father's bones are lying,
There mine own will never lie;
Where the pale wild-flowers are sighing
Sweet beneath a summer sky.
Mine will be less hallowed ending,
Mine will be a wilder grave;
When the shriek and shout are blending,
Or the tempest sweeps the wave.
Or, perhaps, a fate more lonely,
In some sick and foreign ward,
When my weary eyes meet only
Hirèd nurse or sullen guard.
Be it wound, or be it fever,
When my soul's death-doom is cast,
One remembrance will not leave her,
Thine will linger to the last.
Dearest maiden! thou art weeping!
Must I from those eyes remove?
Hath thy heart no soft pulse sleeping,
Which might waken into love?
No! I see thy brow is frozen,
And thy look is cold and strange;
Oh! when once the heart is chosen,
Well I know it cannot change!
And I know thy heart has spoken
That another's it must be;
Scarce I wish that pure faith broken,
Though the falsehood were for me.
No! be still that guileless creature
Who upon my boyhood shone;
Couldst thou change thy angel nature,
Half my trust in Heaven were gone.
With these parting words I sever
All my ties of youth and home,
Kindred, friends, good-by for ever!
See! my boat cuts through the foam!
Wind, tide, time, alike are pressing,
I must leave my native shore;
One first kiss, and one last blessing —
Farewell, love, we meet no more!
Tickler (taking the cotton from his ears). I wish, North, you
would either fine me in a bumper, or force me to sing a song.
North. I will do both. Up with your little finger — no heel--
taps, sirrah — good — now, Tim, your stave.
(TICKLER sings.)
TUNE — "The Brown Jug."
Though I can't make a speech, yet a bumper I crave,
And I'll give you my toast in an old-fashioned stave —
It is not the King, nor our good Tory Queen,
Nor Army, nor Navy, nor Church that I mean —
No toast such as these down your throats will I cram —
I'll give you the health of the Registrar SAM!
The Registrar Sam! it's a big-sounding name,
And yet let us hope that he still is the same —
The same honest Sam that we knew him of yore
When honours, still higher, so meekly he bore,
That all men allowed that the Lion and Lamb
Were too feeble a type of the GRAND WARDEN Sam.
Then amidst former greatness, what frolic and fun!
What a lack of all "weariness under the sun!"
What flashes of glee from that eloquent face,
The planet, the pole-star, the moon of the Place!
They may talk of big Peter¹ — but he's all a sham —
Mere pinchbeck, compared to the sterling of Sam!
1 Patrick Robertson, a distinguished member of the Scottish Bar, afterwards
one of the Judges of the Court of Session. His death (in 1855) may indeed
be said to have "eclipsed the gaiety" of Edinburgh. Unrivalled as a convivial
humourist, he was a man of sterling honour and straightforward course in
all his professional transactions.
Oh! how oft has it gladdened each true Tory heart
To witness his feats in the thirst-slaking art;
I call it not drinking, for that were a word,
In speaking of Sam, altogether absurd —
Let us rather declare that no mortal e'er swam
On the spring-tide of Bacchus so buoyant as Sam.
Yet it was not in wit, nor yet was it in wine,
That alone he held sway — for Sam woo'd the whole Nine —
It's now an old story, yet many a tongue
Still rejoices to tell of the days of Bill Young,¹
When Baxter's² fine speeches (which some thought Balaams)
Were sure to call forth something finer from Sam.
And then, though the Muses his youth might engage,
Still science severe fixed his more mature age;
And Oxford shall glory for many a day
In "Sedgwick³ and Sam" 'mong her learned array,
For long may you wander by Isis or Cam,
Ere you chance to fall in with a fellow like Sam!
Such has Sam ever been, and long, long may he be
Precisely the Sam he has still been to me!
The Thistle we now must entwine with the Rose (Affettuoso).
But our hearts still are with him wherever he goes.
So now, in conclusion, I make my salaam,
By proposing the toast of the evening — SAM!
Registrar (rising). Mr Chairman (bowing, with his hand on
his heart). Mr Vice (bowing). On rising, gentlemen —
Ambrose (rushing into the Tent, stark naked, except his flannel
drawers). Hurra! hurra! hurra! — hurra! hurra! hurra! —
hurra! hurra! hurra! Who'll dance — who'll dance with me
— waltz — jig — Lowland reel — Highland fling — gallopade?
Hurra! hurra! hurra! (Keeps dancing round the Tent table,
yelling, and snapping his fingers.)
North. Be seated gentlemen — I see how it is — he has been
drinking of the elf-well, up among the rocks behind the
¹ Young's Tavern was situated in one of the closes on the north side of the
High Street, Edinburgh.
² Mr Baxter, Writer to the Signet, was an ally of Lockhart's and Wilson's
in their early days. He migrated to Russia many years ago.
³ Professor Sedgwick is a member of Cambridge, and not of Oxford,
Tent, and human lip never touched that cold stream, but man
or woman lost his or her seven senses, and was insane for life.
Registrar. A pleasant prospect.
Tickler. That may be — but, confound me, if Ambrose be
the man to be caught in that kind of trap. Where's the
Tower of Babel?
North. There!
Ambrose (pirouetting). Look yonder, mine honoured master,
through those rocks.
North. Nay, Brose, I can see as far through a millstone, or
a milestone either, as most men, but as for looking through
rocks —
Ambrose. I saw him, with these blessed eyes of mine, I saw
him — on horseback, sir, driving down the hill, yonder, sir, at
full gallop —
North. Whom? — ye saw whom?
Ambrose. Himself, sir — his very own self, sir — as I hope to
be saved.
Registrar. I fear his case is hopeless. Those sudden
accesses are fatal.
Tickler. Why, his drawers will be at his heels if —
Ambrose (somewhat subsiding). I had gone in to the dookin,
gentlemen, as you say in Scotland, and was ploutering about
in the pool, when, just as I had squeezed the water out of my
eyes, after a plunge, I chanced to look up the hillside, and
there I saw him — with these blessed eyes I saw him — his own
very self. [Horses' hoofs heard at full gallop nearing the Tent.
Tickler. The Wild Huntsman!
[Horse and rider charge the Tent — horse all of a sudden
halts — thrown back on his haunches — and rider, flying
over his head, alights on his feet — while his foraging cap
spins over the Lion's fiery mane, now drooping in the
afternoon calm from the mast-head.
hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra! hurra!
Shepherd. Hurraw! hurraw! hurraw!
North (white as a sheet, and seeming about to swoon). Water!
Shepherd. Where's the strange auld tyke? Whare's the
queer auld fallow? Whare's the canty auld chiel? Whare's
the dear auld deevil? Oh! North — North — North — North —
ma freen — ma brither — ma faither — let's tak ane anither intil
ane anither's arms — let's kiss ane anither's cheek — as the
guid cheevalry knichts used to do — when, ha'in fa'en out
aboot some leddy-luve, or some disputed laun', or some king's
changefu' favour, or aiblins aboot naething ava but the stupit
lees o' some evil tongues, they happened to forgather when
riding opposite ways through a wood, and flingin themsels,
wi' ae feelin and ae thocht, aff their twa horses, cam clashin
thegither wi' their mailed breists, and began sobbin in the
silence o' the auncient aiks that were touched to their verra
cores to see sic forgiveness and sic affection atween thae twa
stalwart champions, wha, though baith noo weepin like weans
or women, had aften ridden side by side thegither, wi' shields
on their breists and lang lances shootin far out fearsomely
afore them, intil the press o' battle, while their chargers, red--
wat-shod, gaed gallopin wi' their hoofs that never ance touched
the grun' for men's faces bashed bluidy, and their sodden
corpses squelchin at every spang o' the flying dragons. But
what do I mean by a' this talkin to mysel? — Pity me — Mr
North — but you're white's a ghaist! Let me bear ye in my
airms intil the Tent. [SHEPHERD carries NORTH into the Tent.
North. I was much to blame, James — but —
Shepherd. I was muckle mair to blame mysel nor you, sir —
and —
North. Why, James, it is by no means improbable that you
were —
Shepherd. O ye auld Autocrat! But will ye promise me —
gin I promise ye —
North. Anything, James, in the power of mortal man to
Shepherd. Gie's your haun! Noo repeat the words after
me — (NORTH keeps earnestly repeating the words) — I swear, in
this Tent pitched in the Fairy's Cleugh, in presence o' Timothy
Tickler and Sam An —
North. They are not in the Tent.
Shepherd. I wasna observin. That's delicate. That I wull
never breathe a whusper even to ma ain heart — at the laneliest
hour o' midnicht — except it be when I am sayin my
prayers — dinna sab, sir — o' ony misunderstaunin that ever
happened atween us twa — either about Mawga, or ony ither
toppic — as lang's I leeve — an' am no deserted by my senses
— but am left in fu' possession o' the gift o' reason; an' I noo
dicht aff the tablets o' my memory ilka letter o' ony ugly
record, that the enemy, takin advantage o' the corruption o'
our fallen natur — contreeved to scarify there, wi' the pint o'
an airn pen — red-het frae you wicked place — I noo dicht them
a' aff, just as I dicht aff frae this table thae wine-chaps wi' ma
sleeve — and I forgie ye frae the verra bottom o' ma sowl —
wi' as perfeck forgiveness — as if you were my ain brither,
deein at hame in his father's house — shune after his return
frae a lang voyage outower the sea!
[NORTH and the SHEPHERD again embrace — their faces wax
exceedingly cheerful—and they sit for a little while without
saying a word.
North. My dear James, have you dined?
Shepherd. Dined? Why, man, I've had ma fowre-hours. But
I maun tell ye a' about it. A bit lassie, you see, that had come
to your freen Scottie's to pay a visit to a sister o' hers — a servant
in the family — that was rather dwinin — frae the kintra
down about Annadale-wise, past by the Tent in the grey o'
the morning, yesterday, afore ony ane o' you were out o' the
blankets, except a cretur that, frae the description, maun hae
been Tappytoorie, and she learned frae him that the Tent
belanged to a great lord they ca'd North — Lord North — and
that he had come out on a shootin and a fishin ploy, and,
forby, to talc a plan o' a' the hills, in order to mak a moddle o'
them in cork, wi' quicksiller for the lochs and rinnin waters,
and sheets o' beaten siller for the waterfa's, and o' beaten
gold for the element at sunset — and that twa ither shinin
characters were in his rettenue — wham Tappy ca'd to her —
as she threeped¹ — Sir Teemothy Tickleham, Bart., o' Southside,
and the Lord High Registrar o' Lunnon. Ma heart lap
to ma mouth, and then after some flutterin becam as heavy's
a lump o' cauld lead. The wife gied me sic a smile! And
then wee Jamie was a' the while, in his affectionat way,
leanin again' ma knee. I took a walk by mysel; and a' was
licht. Forthwith I despatched some gillies to wauken the
Forest. I never steekit an ee, and by skreigh o' day² was aff
on the beast. But I couldna ken how ye micht be fennin³ in
the Tent for fish, sae I thocht I micht as weel tak a whup at
the Meggat. How they lap!4 I filled ma creel afore the
dew-melt; and as it's out o' the poo'r o' ony mortal man wi'
a heart to gie ower fishin in the Meggat durin a tak, I kent
¹ Threeped — asserted.
² Skreigh, o' day — break of day.
³ Fennin — faring.
4 Lap — leaped.
by the sun it was nine-hours, and by that time I had filled a'
ma pouches, the braid o' the tail o' some o' them whappin
again' ma elbows. You'll no be surprised, Mr North — for
though you're far frae bein' sic a gude angler as you suppose,
and as you cry yoursel up in Mawga, oh! but you're mad
fond o't — that I had clean forgotten the beast! After a lang
search I fand him a mile doun the water, and ma certes, for
the next twa hours the gress didna grow aneath his heels. I
took a hantle o' short cuts, for I ken the kintra better than
ony fox. But I forgot I wasna on foot — the beast got blawn,
and comin up the Fruid,¹ reested wi' me on Garlet-Dod. The
girth burst — aff fell the saddle, and he fairly laid himsel
doun! I feared he had brak his heart, and couldna think o'
leavin him, for, in his extremity, I kent the raven o' Gameshope
wad hae picked out his een. Sae I just thocht I wad
try the Fruid wi' the flee, and put on a professor.² The
Fruid's fu' o' sma' troots, and I sune had a string. I couldna
hae had about me, at this time, ae way and ither, in ma
several repositories, string and a', less than thretty dizzen o'
troots. I heard the yaud nicherin, and kent he had gotten
second wun', sae having hidden the saddle among the brackens,
munted, and lettin him tak it easy for the first half-hour,
as I skirted Earlshaugh holms I got him on the haun-gallop,
and I needna tell you o' the Arab-like style in which I feenally
brocht him in, for, considering that I carried wecht, you'll
alloo he wad be cheap at a hunder guineas, and for that soum,
sir, the beast's your ain! — Rax me ower the jug. — But didna I
see a naked man?
[Re-enter TICKLER and the REGISTRAR.
Tickler. O King of the Shepherds, mayst thou live for ever!
Shepherd (looking inquisitively to NORTH). Wha's he that?
(Turning to TICKLER) — Sir! you've the advantage of me — for
I really cannot say that I ever had the pleasure o' seein you
atween the een afore; but you're welcome to our Tent — sit
doun, and gin ye be dry, tak a drink.
Registrar. James?
Shepherd. Ma name's no James. But what though it was?
Folk shouldna be sae familiar at first sicht. (To NORTH in an
under-tone) — A man o' your renown, sir, should really be mair
Tickler. I beg pardon, sir — but I mistook you for that halfwitted
body the Ettrick Shepherd.
¹ A tributary of the Tweed.
² A fly, so called after Professor Wilson.
Shepherd. Ane can pardon ony degree o' stoopidity in a fallow
that has sunk sae laigh in his ain esteem, as weel's in
that o' the warld, as to think o' retreevin his character by pretendin
to pass himsel aff, on the mere strength o' the length
o' his legs, for sic an incorrigible ne'er-do-weel as Timothy
Tickler. But let me tell you, you had better keep a gude
tongue in your head, or I'll maybe tak you by the cuff o' the
neck, and turn ye out o' the Tent.
North (to the SHEPHERD in an under-tone). Trot him, James
— trot him — he's sensitive.
Shepherd. You maybe ken him? Is't true that he's gotten
intil debt, and that Southside's adverteezed?
Tickler (colouring). It's a lie.
Shepherd. That pruves it to be true. Nay, it amaist, too,
pruves you to be Tickler. Oh! nae mair nonsense — nae mair
nonsense, sir — Southside, Southside — but I'm happier to see
you, sir, than tongue can tell — but as the heart knoweth its
ain bitterness, sae knoweth it its ain sweetness too; and noo
that I'm sittin again atween you twa — (putting one arm over
CHRISTOPHER'S shoulder, and one over TIMOTHY'S, starting up and
rushing round the circular) — "gude faith, I'm like to greet."
Sam! Sam! Sam!
Registrar. God bless you, James.
Shepherd. And hae ye come a' the way frae Lunnon to the
Fairy's Cleugh? And werena ye intendin to come out to
Altrive to see the auld Shepherd? Oh! but we were a' glad,
man, to hear o' your appointment, though nane o' us ken very
distinckly the nature o't, some sayin they had made you a
Bishop, only without a seat among the Lords, some a Judge
o' the Pleas; and there was a sugh for a while — but frae
you're bein' here the noo, during the sittin o' Parliament, that
canna weel be true — that the King, by the recommendation o'
Lord Broom and Vox, had appointed you his Premier, on the
death o' Yearl Grey; but tell me, was the lassie richt after a'
in denominatin ye, on the authority o' Tappytoorie, Lord High
Registrar o' Lunnon, and is the post a sinecure, and a free
gift o' the Whigs?
Registrar. That, James, is my appointment — but 'tis no
sinecure. The duties are manifold, difficult, and important.
North. I wish somebody would knock me down for a song.
Shepherd. I'll do that — but recollect — nae fawsettoes — I
canna thole fawsettoes — a verra tailor micht be ashamed o'
fawsettoes — for fawsettoes mak ye think o' something less
than the ninety-ninth pairt o' a man — and that's ten times less
than a tailor — and amaist naething ava — sae that the man
vanishes intil a pint. Nae fawsettoes.
(NORTH sings.)
TUNE — "John Anderson my Joe."
Sam Anderson, my Joe Sam, when first I saw that face,
You then were quite a beau, Sam, a lad of life and grace,
But now you're turning grave, Sam, your speech is short and slow,
You've got a cursed official look, Sam Anderson, my Joe!
Sam Anderson, my Joe Sam, when Blackwood first began
To try his canny hand, Sam, at each and all he ran —
And you among the rest, Sam, the world was made to know,
A burning and a shining light, Sam Anderson, my Joe!
Sam Anderson, my Joe Sam, when in the claret trade,
A customer right good, Sam, unto yourself you made,
But sober as a judge, Sam, you now to bed must go —
Ay, sober as a Chancellor, Sam Anderson, my Joe!
Sam Anderson, my Joe Sam, how sportive were the tricks
That on the "general question," Sam, beat Peter¹ all to sticks,
But Peter now will rise, Sam, upon your overthrow —
You're all on affidavit now, Sam Anderson, my Joe!
Sam Anderson, my Joe Sam, in days of youthful glee,
You sported in the shade, Sam, beneath your mulberry-tree —
But strains of rural love, Sam, you must, alas! forego,
Now "kiss the calf-skin"'s all your song, Sam Anderson, my Joe.
Sam Anderson, my Joe Sam, you've been in many a scrape,
But still with wit or luck, Sam, you've managed to escape —
But now your friends, the Whigs, Sam, have taken you in tow —
They've got your head in Chancery, Sam Anderson, my Joe!
Tickler. That must be all Greek to you, James.
Registrar. The less you say, the better, Tim, about Greek.
The Shepherd was not with us when I sung a scrap of old
Eubulus — but —
¹ See ante, p. 22. note. One of "Peter's" most amusing after-dinner
exhibitions was a discourse on the "general question" — that is, a nonsense--
speech on everything and nothing.
Shepherd. I have been studyin the Greek for twa wunters.
Wunter afore last I made but sma' progress, and got but a
short way ayont the roots — for the curlin cam in the way —
but this bygane wunter there was nae ice in the Forest — or
at Duddistane either — and I maistered, during the lang nichts
at hame, an incalculable crood o' dereevative vocables, and a
hantle o' the kittlest compounds.
Registrar. What grammars and lexicons do you use, Shepherd?
Shepherd. Nane but the maist common. I hae completed
a version o' Theocritus, and Bion, and Moschus — no to mention
Anacreon; and gin there's nae curlin neist wunter either
— and o' that there's but sma' chance, for a change has been
gradually takin place within these few years, in the ellipse o'
the earth — I suspect about the ecliptic — I purpose puttin a'
ma strength upon Pindar. His Odds are dark — but some
grand, as ane o' thae remarkable simmer-nichts when a' below
is lown, and yet there is storm in heaven, the moon glimpsing
by fits through cluds, and then a' at ance a blue spat fu' o' stars.
North. The Theban Swan —
Shepherd. He was nae swan, but an eagle.
North. As H. N. Nelson said t'other day in that noble paper
on Pindar, in the Quarterly.¹
Registrar. A noble paper, indeed, North.
Tickler. I have heard it attributed to you, Sam.
Registrar. No — you never did.
Shepherd. I'm ower happy to sing this afternoon, but I'm
able, I think, to receet; and here's ane o' my attempts on an
Eedle o' Bion — the third Eedle — get the teetle frae Tickler.
Tickler. Third Idyll of Bion.
(SHEPHERD recites.)
Great Venus once appeared to me, still slumbering in my bed,
And Cupid in her beauteous hand, a tottering child she led ;
And thus with winning words she spoke, "See, Cupid here I bring.
Oh, take him! shepherd dear to me, and teach him how to sing!"
She disappeared, and I began, a baby in my turn,
To teach him all the shepherds' songs — as though he meant to learn,
How Pan the crooked pipe found out, Minerva made the flute,
How Hermes struck the tortoiseshell, and Phoebus formed the lute.
All this I taught, but little heed gave Cupid to my speech;
¹ See Quarterly Review, vol. li. p. 18.
Then he himself sweet carols sung, and me began to teach
The loves of gods and men, and all his mother did to each.
Then I forgot what I myself to Cupid taught before;
But all the songs he taught to me, I learnt them evermore!
North. Quite in the style of Trevor, who did such fine versions
for my articles on the Greek Anthology. Are you sure,
James, they are not. Trevor's?¹
Shepherd. Trevor's? Is he an Englisher? Then dinna let
him compete — nor that callant Price o' Hereford either — wi'
the Ettrick Shepherd in Theocritus, or Bion, or Moschus, or
ony o' the Pastorals. Yet they're twa fine lads baith — and
gin they were here, they should be welcome to ony given
number o' glasses o' Glenlivet. Here's their healths — Mr
Tremor and Mr Rice.
North. I should like, my dear Shepherd, to hear some of
your Anacreon.
Shepherd. Na. Wullie Hay² beats me blin'. He's as gude,
or better nor yoursel, sir. Gie's some o' Hay.
(NORTH repeats.)
Come, thou best of painters,
Prince of the Rhodian art —
Paint, thou best of painters,
The mistress of my heart,
Though absent, from the picture
Which I shall now impart.
First paint for me her ringlets
Of dark and glossy hue,
And fragrant odours breathing —
If this thine art can do.
Paint me an ivory forehead
That crowns a perfect cheek,
And rises under ringlets
Dark-coloured, soft, and sleek.
The space between the eyebrows
Nor mingle, nor disport,
¹ Professor Wilson wrote several articles on the Greek Anthology in Black-wood's
Magazine. Mr Trevor and Mr Price supplied him with some translations.

² Mr William Hay also earned considerable distinction as a translator of Greek
Epigrams in Blackwood.
But blend them imperceptibly
And true will be thy art.
From under black eye-fringes
Let sunny flashes play —
Cythera's swimming glances,
Minerva's azure ray.
With milk commingle roses
To paint a nose and cheeks —
A lip like bland Persuasion's —
A lip that kissing seeks.
Within the chin luxurious
Let all the graces fair,
Round neck of alabaster
Be ever flitting there.
And now in robes invest her
Of palest purple dyes,
Betraying fair proportions
To our delighted eyes.
Cease, cease, I see before me
The picture of my choice!
And quickly wilt thou give me
The music of thy voice.
Shepherd. I wonder hoo mony thousan' times that Odd has
been dune intil verse. It's beyond a' dout an extraordinar
veevid pictur in poetry — a perfect ut pictura poesis — and the
penter had mair sense nor to attempt her in iles after ink.
Registrar. I like better his "Carrier Pigeon."
Shepherd. What for do ye like the ane better nor the ither?
It's no like you, my Lord Registrar, to hurt the character o' ae
bonny poem by sinkin't aneath another as bonny, but nae
bonnier nor itsel. In a case o' that kind there's nae sic thing
as the comparative degree — only the positive and the superlative
— which, in fack, are the same — for the twa are baith
equally positively superlative — and if at ae time you dereeve
mair pleasure frae the advice to the penter, and at anither
mair frae the address to the Dove, the reason o' the difference
is in you, and no in Anawcreon — just as your pallet prefers at
this hour a golden rennet apple, and at that a jargonel pear.
Registrar. You are right, James, and I am wrong.
North (taking out his pocket-book). Why, here are some very
pretty lines, James, by a young creature not fifteen — and I am
sure you will say she is herself as innocent as any dove.
Emblem of Innocence! spotless and pure,
Sweet bird of the snowy-white wing,
So gentle and meek, yet so lovely thou art,
Thy loveliness touches and gladdens my heart,
Like the first early blossoms of Spring.
There are birds of a sunnier land, gentle dove,
Whose plumage than thine is more bright,
The humming-bird there, and the gay paroquete,
But even than they thou art lovelier yet,
Sweet bird with the plumage of white.
For purity rests on thy feathers of snow,
Thy dark eye is sad, gentle dove;
And e'en in the varying tones of thy coo,
There's an accent of sadness and tenderness too,
Like the soft farewell whisper of love.
The eagle is queen of the cliff and the wave,
And she flaps her wild wing in the sky;
The song of the lark will enrapture, 'tis true,
When no one would list to my white dove's soft coo,
No one — save her young ones — and I.
Farewell, then, sweet dove! if the winter is cold,
May the spring with her blossoms appear
In sunny-clad beauty, to waken the song
Of the sweet-throated warblers the forests among,
And the nest of my fav'rite to cheer.
Shepherd. She maun be a dear sweet bonny bit lassie — and
I would like to ken her name.
North. A gracious name it is, James. [Whispers it to him.
Shepherd. I canna mak out, Mr North, the cause o' the
effect o' novelty as a source o' pleasure. Some objects aye
please, however common.
¹ Miss Agnes Gracie, now Mrs James Veitch.
Tickler. Don't prose, Jamie.
Shepherd. Ass! There's the Daisy. Naebody cares muckle
about the Daisy — till you ask them — and then they feel
they hae aye liked it, and quote Burns. Noo naebody tires o'
the daisy. A' the warld would be sorry gin a' daisies were
Tickler. Puir auld silly body!
Shepherd. There again are Dockens. What for are they a
byword? They're sift, and smooth, and green, and hae nae
bad smell. Yet a' the warld would be indifferent were a'
dockens dead.
Tickler. I would rather not.
Shepherd. What for? Would a docken, think ye, Mr North,
be "beauteous to see, a weed o' glorious feature," if it were
scarce and a hot-house plant? Would leddies and gentlemen,
gin it were ony ways an unique, pay to get a look at a
docken? But I fin' that I'm no thrawin ae single particle o'
licht on the subjeck; and the perplexing question will aye
recur, "Why is the daisy, though sae common, never felt to
be commonplace? and the docken aye?"
Tickler. The reason, undoubtedly, is —
Shepherd. Haud your arrogant tongue, Southside, and never
again, immediately after I hae said that ony metapheezical
subjeck's perplexing, hae the insolence and the silliness to say,
"The reason, undoubtedly, is." If it's no coorse, it's rude —
and a man had better be coorse nor rude ony day — but O,
sirs, what'n a pity that in the Tent there are nae dowgs!
Tickler. I hate curs.
Shepherd. A man ca'in himsel a Christian, and hatin poetry
and dowgs!
Tickler. Hang the brutes.
Shepherd. There's nae sic perfeck happiness, I suspeck, sir,
as that o' the brutes. No that I wuss I had been born a
brute — yet aften hae I been tempted to envy a dowg. What
gladness in the cretur's een, gin ye but speak a single word
to him, when you and him's sittin thegither by your twa sels
on the hill. Pat him on the head and say, "Hector, ma
man!" and he whines wi' joy — snap your thooms, and he
gangs dancin round you like a whirlwind — gie a whusslin hiss,
and he loops frantic ower your head — cry halloo, and he's aff
like a shot, chasing naething, as if he were mad.
North. Alas! poor Bronte!
Shepherd. Whisht, dinna think o' him, but in general o'
dowgs. Love is the element a dowg leeves in, and a' that's
necessary for his enjoyment o' life is the presence o' his
Registrar. "With thee conversing he forgets all time."
Shepherd. Yet, wi' a' his sense, he has nae idea o' death.
True, he will lie upon his master's grave, and even howk wi'
his paws in an affeckin manner, but for a' that, believe me,
he has nae idea o' death. He snokes wi' his nose into the
hole his paws are howkin, just as if he were after a moudie--
North. God is the soul of the brute creatures.
Shepherd. Ay, sir — instinct wi' them's the same's reason
wi' us, — only we ken what we intend — they do not; we
reflect in a mathematical problem, for example, how best to
big a house; they reflect nane, but what a house they big!
Sir Isaac Newton, o' himsel, without learnin the lesson frae
the bees, wadna hae contrived a hive o' hinney-combs, and
biggen them up, cell by cell, hung the creation, like growing
fruit, on the branch o' a tree!
North. I have read, my dearest James, Lay Sermons by the
Ettrick Shepherd.
Shepherd. And may I just ask, sir, your candid opinion?
North. The first few glances relieved my mind, James,
from some painful fear; for I confess I was weak enough to
lay my account with meeting, to use your own words in the
Preface, "cases of unsound tenets and bad taste," though I
know, my dearest Shepherd, that your whole life has borne
witness to the sincerity and strength of your religion. But
nothing of the sort has once offended my eye, during several
continued perusals of the unpretending, but most valuable
little volume.
Shepherd. I'm gladder ten times ower to hear you say't, sir,
than gin they had been a volumm o' Poems. "A maist
valuable little volumm." Comin frae sic a quarter, that's
high praise; but it's no praise I'm wanting, though a' the
warld kens I'm fond o' praise — ay, to my shame be it spoken —
even the worthless praise o' its ain hollow-hearted warldly
sel; it's no praise I'm wanting, and I ken, on this occasion,
you'll believe me when I say it, sir — ma wush is to do good.
North. And he who takes Lay Sermons by the Ettrick
Shepherd to bed with him, "a wiser and a better man will
rise to-morrow's morn." It is a volume that may be read in
bed without danger of setting fire to the curtains. Several
successive houses of mine have been set on fire by sermons,
and one, fortunately insured, was burnt to the ground.
Shepherd. But did ye recover? For I aye thocht there was
a savin clause in the insurance ack o' every Company, insurin
theirsels again' ony insurer at their office, who could be
proved to hae had his house burned by bein' set on fire in
that way by a sermon.
North. It has always puzzled me, James, to account, not
for almost any sermon's almost always setting man or woman
asleep in bed, but for almost any candle's almost always setting
the bed on fire as soon as he or she has been fairly set
asleep. These you perceive to be two separate problems; the
solution of the first easy — of the second, perhaps not within
the limits of the human understanding.
Shepherd. It's at least no within the leemits o' mine. But
the problem itsel's an established fack.
North. I have tried to solve the problem, James, empirically.
Shepherd. It's lucky you've used that word the noo, sir; for
though I see't in every serious wark, I canna say I attach to
it ony particular meaning.
North. Experimentally, James, have I sometimes taken to
bed with me a volume of that perilous class, and after reading
a few paragraphs — perhaps as far as Firstly — have put it under
my pillows, and pretended to fall asleep. But every now and
then I kept looking out of the tail of my eye at the candle —
a stout mutton mould of four to the pound — resolved, the instant
he so much as singed a particle of nap off my curtains —
always cotton — to spring out of bed — seize the incendiary, and
extinguish him on the spot in the very basin in which the
blazed; but in justice to one and all of the luminaries that
have ever cheered my solitary midnight hours, I now publicly
— that is, privately — declare, that not only did I never discover
in the behaviour of any one of them a single circumstance
that could justify in me the slightest suspicion of such
a nefarious design, but that in most cases he visibly began to
get as drowsy as myself; and with wick the length of my
little finger hanging mournfully by his side, have I more than
once sorrowed to see a faithful mutton light expire by my bedside
— not in the socket, James — oh! no, not in the socket —
for that flicker and that evanishing are in the course of nature,
and the soul of the survivor is soon reconciled to the loss —
but with one side of the tallow continuing unmelted from head
to heel — and the tallow a tall fellow, too, James — the spirit that
animated him an hour ago, now mere snuff!
Shepherd. You've sae impersonated him, sir, intil a leevin
cretur, that I could amaist greet — were it no for the thocht o'
that intolerable stink. I can thole the stink o' a brock better
than o' a cawnle that has dee'd a natural death. But I perceive
I'm thinkin o' death in the socket.
North. Nor will your sermons, my dear James, set the
shepherds asleep on the hill — as they lie perusing them,
wrapped up in their plaids, — for you illustrate — and on the
authority and example of Scripture — your doctrines by many
a homely image, familiar to their eyes and hearts — and that is
the way to awaken the spirit to a keen sense of their truth.
Thus in your "Lay Sermon on Reason and Instinct" — the very
mystery you were alluding to so beautifully a few moments
ago — (taking the volume from the pocket of his sporting jacket) —
you say —
Shepherd (affected). Ma sermons in his pouch!
North. — "But the acuteness of the sheep's ear surpasses
all things in nature that I know of. A ewe will distinguish
her own lamb's bleat among a thousand, all braying at the
same time, and making a noise a thousand times louder than
the singing of psalms at a Cameronian sacrament in the
fields, where thousands are congregated, — and that is no joke
neither. Besides, the distinguishment of voice is perfectly reciprocal
between the ewe and lamb, who, amid the deafening
sound, run to meet one another. There are few things have
ever amused me more than a sheep-shearing, and then the
sport continues the whole day. We put the flock into a fold,
set out all the lambs to the hill, and then set out the ewes to
them as they are shorn. The moment that a lamb hears its
dam's voice it rushes from the crowd to meet her, but instead
of finding the rough, well-clad, comfortable mamma, which it
left an hour, or a few hours ago, it meets a poor naked shriveling
— a most deplorable-looking creature. It wheels about,
and uttering a loud tremulous bleat of perfect despair, flies
from the frightful vision. The mother's voice arrests its
flight — it returns — flies, and returns again, generally for ten or
a dozen times before the reconcilement is fairly made up."
Shepherd. That's ane o' the mair hamely and familiar passages,
sir; and some folk may think it soun's better in a Tent
at a Noctes than it would do from a Tent at preachin, or frae
a poopit. And, perhaps, they're richt. But the versa word
LAY on the teetle tells they're no for the kirk, but for the
study, the spence, the stream-side, or the hill. And waur religion
noo-a-days may be learnt in mony a stane-and-lime
chapel in Lunnon or Embro', than fine us twa Divines here in
the Tent o' the Fairy's Cleugh.
North. You and I, my dearest Shepherd, must write a book
or two together, in alternate chapters, or, if you please, volume
Shepherd. Oh! sir, what a series o' warks in three volumms
couldna you and me in union write, to be enteetled
"STORIES O' THE WAYSIDE WELL!" The water peeryin out
amang the lowse stanes o' an auld stane-wa' — lowse,¹ that is to
say, gin the ivy didna bind them a' fast thegither, bulgin as
if they were aye gaun to fa', and yet fa'in never, but firm as
the primrosy brae — the clear cauld water peeryin out here,
and oozin out there, and fillin, and aye keepin filled, in a'
weathers, however sultry it may be, a free-stane trough, or
haply ane o' blue slate, or granite itsel — sae that, stoopin
doun, wi' your hat at your feet, you see a face comin up, as
if frae a great depth, to meet yours, and as like yours as egg
is to egg; but then, sune as your lips touch the blessed element,
the shadow disappearing in the wrunkle dispersed roun'
the mouth o' you, a sinful, nae dout, but at that moment
surely a grateful man!
Registrar. Painting, poetry, and piety!
Shepherd. Day, midsimmer — sun, meridian — nae cluds — nae
trees — twenty miles travelled sin' dawn — and twenty mair to
travel afore gloamin — feet-sair — in shoon little better than
bauchles — stockins that are in fack huggers — breeks tattered
— nae siller in his pouch but twa or three bawbees — pity ye
na the puir wayfarer — and feels na he that man indeed is but
North. James, you are a truly good man — a Christian.
¹ Lowse — loose.
Shepherd. But he sooks up strength frae that spring —
strength, sir, believe me, that penetrates to the puir cretur's
heart. I dinna mean to say, sir, that poverty directly thanks
God every time it tales a drink o' water, or a mouthfu' o'
bread. That's impossible; though it's a custom that should
aye be countenanced among a' ranks, askin a blessin on every
meal folk eat sittin — if it be but shuttin the een, muvin the
lips, or haudin up a haun. Custom's second nature, you ken,
sir; and that apothegm has mony a pathetic application in
a puir man's life.
North. We shall set about the Series instanter, my dearest
Shepherd. There's a sodger wi' a wooden leg stechin strecht
out afore him, that, gin he dinna tak tent, 'ill be in the way o'
the wheels o' the mail-cotch. I could tell a story fu' o' strange
facks about him — and as sure's I'm leevin there is a female
sittin within twa yards o' him — whom I didna see before —
her dusty brown claes hein' sae like the road — a faded female,
yet rather young than auld — but na babby at her breist, nae
bit callant to toddle at her fit, when she and her husband
again rise to go their ways. That face was ance a bonny
ane — and it's no unbonny yet — were ony justice done to it;
and it wouldna be sae waefu', had the heart not known the
meesery o' buryin an only bairn — and leevin it far ahint her,
never mair to see the gress on its grave.
North. We must.
Shepherd. I see a beautifu' cretur, no sixteen; I hear her
sabbin at the Wayside Well; but she has a babby at her
breist, and the thocht o't brak her mither's heart, and the
sicht o't drave her father mad — or waur than mad — for the
verra nicht she was delivered — (he had been out a' day at his
wark — and, you see, he had been telt naething o' what was
gaun to happen by her noo in her grave — for she had died
suddenly, before she could bring hersel to tell her husband
— a stern man, and an elder o' the kirk) — twa hours after her
time was ower, he stood beside her bed, where the bit lassie,
his dochter, lay wi' her wee sweet bonny new-born life atween
her breists — and wi' white lips, and a black face, and fiery een,
commanded her to rise — some said the Evil Ane had put a
knife into his haun, but if sae, something took it out, and hid
it safe awa — and she did sae a' trummlin, and hardly fit to put
on her claes — but on, somehow or ither, they were put — and
though unable to a' appearance to staun' by hersel, yet, to the
amazement o' folk at the doors and windows, she walked awa,
without daurin ance to look back — wi' baith arms and baith
hauns faulded across her breist — and whisperin something wi'
a sweet voice, no in to hersel, but wi' her mouth breathing
on that immortal jewel — sinfu' as she was — intrusted by the
Almichty to the care o' her who last simmer used to drap a
curtsy on entering the school — for said I na that, sittin there
at the Wayside Well, Helen Irvine will no be saxteen till the
First Day o' May! And whare think ye she's gaun? I
needna tell the reason — but the silly child — as she keeps sitsittin
there — for fear if she were to rise up that she micht fa'
doun, and hurt the breathin blessin o' God, that is drawin life
from her breist, — the silly child is thinkin o' takin shippin at
some far-aff seaport, and sailing awa — I needna tell the
reason — sailin awa to the wars in Spain!
North. James, spare the Registrar's feelings —
Shepherd. My Lord High Registrar, I didna think onything
I could say would .hae sae affeckit you — but your heart's a'
ane with the lowly Shepherd's; and, as Shakspeer says,
"Ae touch o' natur maks the haill warld kin!"
North. Ah! James! I wish you had seen Allan's new
picture before it went to Somerset House — POLISH EXILES
Shepherd. What'n a fine and affeckin — ay, sublime, subjeck
for an ile-pentin, by a great maister like Wullie Allan!
Twunty or thretty wild Tartars on lang-maned, lang-tailed
horses, galloppin like mad in the middle distance — in the faraff
distance, a comin storm o' Siberian thunder and lichtning
— in the fore-grun', disarmed troops o' Polish patriots, o' a'
ages and sexes, that wad fain hae dee'd fechtin for the laun'
ance set free by John Sobewhisky — noo loaded in chains, like
gangs o' slaves in the Southern States o' American Virginia.
North. No, James, no — "When bonny Kilmeny gaed up
the glen," — it was all by herself — and by a few simple
touches you showed her to us in her spiritual beauty, going
and coming from Fairy Land.
Shepherd. Sure aneuch I did sae.
North. Allan, James, has conceived, in the same spirit, his
Polish Exiles. They are but one family, but in their sufferings,
they represent those of all sent to Siberia, and cold and
base would be that heart which melted not before such a
picture. Towards evening, fatigue has weighed them down
— one and all — on the roadside; but there is no fainting, no
hysterics. That man in fetters in Poland was a patriot —
in the steppes of Siberia he is but a father! With humble,
almost humiliated earnestness, he beseeches the Bashkirs to
let his wife and daughter, and other children, and himself,
rest but for an hour! The Bashkirs are three; and he who
refuses does so without cruelty, but, inexorable in his sense
of duty, points towards the distance, a dim dreary way along
the wilderness, not unoccupied by other wretches moving
towards the mines! The other two Bashkirs are sitting without
any emotion on their jaded horses, and if they be jaded,
how low must be the pulses of that lovely girl and that
matron, who, with the rest, have travelled on foot the same
leagues — unaccustomed — for they are noble — to be thus
trailed along the dust!
Shepherd. It maun, in gude truth, be an affeckin sicht.
North. To my mind 'tis Allan's best picture.
Shepherd. Say rather — "to ma heart." For though the
mind, doutless, has something to do wi' a' our emotions, frae
the heart they a' spring; and on feelin, which is the only
infallible way o' judgin, a picture o' emotions, whether in
poetry or pentin, tae the heart is made the feenal appeal.
The feelin i' the heart then sanctions and ratifies the decision
o' the mind; and you hae, as in the case afore us, sae beautifully,
and beyond a' question sae truly, touched aff by Christopher's
pen, after Wullie's pencil, A JUDGMENT.
North. The poor Poles! I honour them for their patriotism
and their valour. All brave men are my friends, Shepherd;
and I was proud to have beneath my roof, and at my board,
that old Polish patriotic poet, whom his countrymen call their
Scott. Sczyrma, too, the brave and bright, thy name I love
— to its sound mine ear is true — but to mine eye elusive are
the letters — may happier days yet dawn on thee, and may the
exile behold again the fair face that once beatified his household!
France betrayed Poland, and if England were to
speak at all, why was it not by the mouths of her cannon?
With Thomas Campbell I would walk to death; and I admire
the bold British eloquence of Cutlar Fergusson. James, he is
Registrar. Noble sentiments, North. I always thought
you were, like myself, a Whig.
North. Never. Nor are you a Whig, Sam; but to me
Liberty is the air I have ever breathed, and when I have it
not, I will die. May all men be free!
Shepherd. "Wha sae base as be a slave!"
North. "Some six months since," Sam, "Achmet Pasha, the
Intendant of the Palace, and the Sultan's especial favourite,
set out from Constantinople for Odessa, in order to proceed to
St Petersburg, there to conciliate the favour of the new
master of Turkey — a title the Russians eagerly arrogate for
their Czar. Achmet was laden with jewels and other costly
presents, but that to which the vanity of the Russians attaches
most value, was an old sword, selected from the ancient
Turkish collection, of which the handle and scabbard, covered
with precious stones, was sent to Nicholas as the weapon of
CONSTANTINE PALEOLOGUS, who died, as you know, in the
breach, when the capital was stormed by Mahomet the Second."¹
So far the talented correspondent of the Times. Mr Simmons
of Templemore, Tipperary (why not name a man of genius?)
the writer — under the signature of Harold — of some noble lines
in Maga, entitled "Napoleon's Dream," saw the letter in the
Times, and "on that hint he spake." I have had his lines in
my book for some months — but such poetry outlives the
politics of the day, and its interest is as strong now as ever —
even here in the Fairy's Cleugh. I may mention, that Alp
Arslan, or the Valiant Lion, was one of the most powerful
monarchs of the Seljukian (Turkish) dynasty. He was buried
at Maru; and, according to Gibbon, had these words inscribed
over his tomb: "O ye, who have seen the glory of Alp Arslan
exalted to the Heavens, repair to Maru, and you will behold it
buried in the dust!" His son, Malek Shah (in the stately
phraseology of the same historians), extended his astonishing
conquests, until Cashgar, a Tartar kingdom on the borders of
China, submitted to his sway — which swept from the mountains
of Georgia to the walls of Constantinople, the holy city
of Jerusalem, and the spicy groves of Arabia Felix. Soliman,
Sam, one of the princes of his family, was the immediate
¹ Quoted from the Turkish Correspondent of the Times, October 1833.
founder of the Ottoman Empire. Sam, you are the best reader
of poetry I know, for a Scotchman. There, — out, and up
with them — ore rotunda.
(REGISTRAR reads.)
O'er the golden-domed shrines of imperial Stamboul,
High rises the morning resplendently cool,
Till that proud double daylight is burning in smiles
On blue Marmora's waters and olive-hid isles.
All Stamboul is astir, — the Imaum's minaret
Is scarce hushed from the Hu of his godliness yet;
When your brows to the dust! Achmet Pasha appears
'Mid the thunder of horse and the lightning of spears!
In a tempest of splendour — with banner and tromp,
By bazaar and atmeydan is winding his pomp,
Till it sparkleth away through you Gateway of Gold,
Like a stream in the sunset triumphantly rolled.
He doubtless goes forth, the Vicegerent of Fate
O'er some THEME of that despot-dominion, whose state
Shot the arch of its empire's plenipotent span
From the summits of Zion to yellow Japan.
May the head of his Highness be lifted! Not so,
Achmet Pasha is boune for the Cities of Snow,
Where the glow of his grandeur will scarce be deemed meet
To warm him a way to their Autocrat's feet.
By the God-wielded brand of Red Beder! he bears
The high Heir-loom of Empire — the Falchion that wears
The dark hues of that morning its terrors were humbled,
When the Last Sceptred Roman's last rampart was crumbled!
He transfers the free blade of unhinged Constantine —
Who died as can die but the deathless — divine —
To a son of rude Ruric, that Wasp of the Wave,
The Slavoniau who lent us his epithet — Slave!
Oh thou, who, though dead, from thy tomb at Maru
Yet speakest, till tyranny pales in its hue —
Alp Arslan! crown'd Whelp of red Valour, awaken —
The strongholds of thy dwindled puissance are shaken!
Once more for the flap of thy flag, Malek Shah,
That shook wide over terrified Asia its awe!
Ruthless Soliman, — west from the Euphrates' marge
Again let thine all-blasting cavalry charge!
For the Wolf of the North, the foul battener in blood,
Guttled hot from the marsh where a monarchy stood,
Is panting to couch in his pestilence, where
The lush grapes of Scutari are purpling the air;
And his hordes will descend like the bloom-killing gale,
And as crushingly cold as its hurricane-hail,
To thaw the dull ice from their veins in the zones
Of the breasts whose white billows are heaving on thrones.
Stern shades of the proud Paleologi, come,
And when midnight is stone¹ through the broad Hippodrome,
There pledge to the shroudless Comneni the cup,
Which the Moon-crowned Sultana, like ye, must drink up!
As for thee — the Mistitled — Frail Shadow of God —
On the Janizar's gore-dabbled turban who trod —
And who, casting thy Bigot-sires' trammels behind,
Buckled round thy freed spirit the harness of MIND.
Where now is that spirit, Lost Mahmoud the Last?
Like the Cross, is the Crescent's supremacy past?
Then up! and let echoing Christendom tell,
That a Moslem could fall as a Constantine fell
Ho! Leopards of Albion, and Lilies of France —
Let your flags in the breeze of the Bosphorus dance —
Or, by Allah the Awful! if late by a sun,
The Carnatic will pasture the steeds of the Don!²
North. You that are a Greek scholar, James, do you remember
an inscription for a wayside Pan, by Alcæus?
Shepherd. I remember the speerit o't, but I forget the words.
¹ This seems unintelligible; but so it is printed both in the original Noctes
and in Mr Simmons' volume, entitled Legends, Lyrics, and other Poems, 1843.
² The Turk has now (1855) roused himself from his apathy and subserviency
to Russia; the "Leopards of Albion and Lilies of France" have danced to
some purpose "in the breeze of the Bosphorus;" Muscovite aggression has
been beaten back; and the day, it is to be believed, is far distant, when "the
Carnatic will pasture the steeds of the Don."
Indeed, I'm no sure if ever I kent the words; but that's naething
—at this moment I feel the inscription in the original
Greek to be very beautiful! For sake o' Mr Tickler, perhaps
you'll receet it in English?
Wayfaring man, by heat and toil oppress'd,
Here lay thee down thy languid limbs to rest,
Upon this flowery meadow's fragrant breast.
Here the pine leaves, where whispering zephyrs stray,
Shall soothe thee listening to Cigala's lay,
And on yon mountain's brow the shepherd swain
Pipes by the gurgling fount his noontide strain,
Secure beneath the platane's¹ leafy spray,
From the autumnal dog-star's sultry ray.
To-morrow thou'lt get on, wayfaring man,
So listen to the good advice of Pan.
Shepherd. Thae auncients, had they been moderns, would
hae felt a' we feel oursels; and sometimes I'm tempted to
confess, that in the matter o' expression o' a simple thocht,
they rather excel us — for, however polished may be ony ane o'
their maist carefu' compositions, it never looks artificial, and the
verra feenish o' the execution seems to be frae the fine finger o'
Nature's ain inspired sel! O how I hate the artificial!
Registrar. Not worse than I.
Shepherd. Ca' a thing artificial that's no ony sic thing, and
ye make me like it less and less till I absolutely dislike it;
but then the sense o' injustice comes to ma relief, and I love
it better than afore — as, for example, a leddy o' fine education,
or a garden flower. For, I'll be shot, if either the ane or the
ither be necessarily artificial, or no just as bonny, regarded in
a richt light, as a lass or a lily o' low degree. Ony ither
touchin trifle frae the Greek, sir?
North. We have had Pan — now for Priapus.
Shepherd. Ye maun heed what you say, sir, o' Priawpus.
North. Archias is always elegant, James.
Registrar. And often more than elegant, North — poetical.
He had a fine eye, too, sir, for the picturesque.
North. —
Near to the shore, upon this neck of land,
A poor Priapus, here I ever stand.
¹ Platane — the plane-tree.
Carved in such guise, and forced such form to take,
As sons of toilsome fishermen could make,
My feetless legs, and cone-shaped, towering head,
Fill every cormorant with fear and dread.
But when for aid the fisher breathes a prayer,
I come more swiftly than the storms of air.
I also eye the ships that stem the flood:
'Tis deeds, not beauty, show the real God.
[Loud hurras heard from the glen, and repeated by all the
North. Heavens! what's that?
Shepherd. Didna I tell ye I had waukened the Forest?
What's twunty, thretty, or fifty miles to the lads and lassies
o' the South o' Scotland? Auld women and weans 'ill walk
that atween the twa gloamins, — and haena they gigs, and
carts, and pownies for the side-saddle, and lang bare-backed
yauds that can carry fowre easy — and at a pinch, by haudin on
by mane and tail, five? Scores hae been paddin the hoof¹ sin'
morn frae the head o' Clydesdale — Annan-banks hae been
roused as by the sound o' a trumpet — and the auld Grey Mare²
has been a' day whuskin her tail wi' pleasure to see Moffatdale
croudin to the Jubilee.
[They all take their station outside on the brae, and hold up
their hands.
North. I am lost in amazement!
Tickler. A thousand souls!
Registrar. I have been accustomed to calculate the numbers
of great multitudes — and I fix them at fifteen hundred, men,
women, and children.
Shepherd. Twa hunder collies, and, asses and mules included,
a hunder horse.
Registrar. Of each a Turm.
Shepherd. Oh! sir, isna 't a bonny sicht? There's a Tredds'
Union for you, sir, that may weel mak your heart sing for joy
— shepherds, and herdsmen, and ploughmen, and woodsmen,
that wad, if need were, fecht for their kintra, wi' Christopher
North at their head, against either foreign or domestic enemies;
but they come noo to do him homage at the unviolated altar
which Nature has erected to Peace.
¹ Paddin the hoof — trudging on foot.
² The waterfall so called near St Mary's Loch.
Registrar. A band of maidens in the van — unbonneted —
silken-snooded all. And hark — they sing! Too distant for
us to catch the words — but music has its own meanings — and
only that it is somewhat more mirthful, we might think it was
a hymn!
Shepherd (to Tickler and the Registrar). Dinna look at
him, he's greetin. If that sound was sweet, isna this silence
Tickler. What are they after now, James?
Shepherd. They hae gotten their general orders — and a' the
leaders ken weel. hoo to carry them intil effeck. The phalanx
is no breakin into pieces noo, like camstrary¹ cluds — ae speerit
inspires and directs a' its muvements, and it is deploying, Mr
Tickler, round yon great hie-kirk-looking rocks, intil a wide
level place that's a perfect circle, and which ye wha hae been
here the best pairt o' a week, I'se warrant, ken naething
about; for Natur, I think, mann hae made it for hersel; and
such is the power o' its beauty, that sittin there after in youth,
hae I clean forgotten that there was ony ither warld.
Registrar. —
"Shaded with branching palm, the sign of Peace."
Shepherd. Ay, mony o' them are carrying the boughs o'
trees — and it's wonderfu' to see how leafy they are so early in
the season. But Spring, prophetic o' North's visit, has festooned
the woods.
Tickler. Not boughs and branches only —
Shepherd. But likewise furms. There's no a few mechanics
amang them, sir, house-carpenters and the like, and seats 'ill
be sune raised a' round and round, and in an hour or less you'll
see sic a congregation as you saw never afore, a' sittin in an
amphitheatre — and aneath a hangin rock a platform — and on
the platform a throne wi' its regal chair — and in the chair wha
but Christopher North — and on his head a crown o' Flowers
— for lang as he has been King o' Scotland — this — this is his
Coronation Day. Hearken to the bawn!²
Registrar. I fear it will soon be growing dark.
Shepherd. Growin dark! O you sumph. This is no the
day that will grow dark — and though this bauld bricht day
loves ower dearly the timid dim gloamin no to welcome her
¹Camstrary or camsteery — unmanageable.
² Bawn — band.
to sic a scene — and though the timid dim gloamin has promised
to let come stealin in by-and-by her sister, the cloud--
haired and star-eyed Nicht, yet the ane will gang na awa as
the ither is making her appearance — for day is in love wi'
baith o' them, and baith are in love wi' day — sae 'twill be
beautifu' to see them a' three thegither by the licht o' the
moon "a perfect chrysolite" — and the sky aboon, and the glen
aneath, and the hills between them a', will be felt to be but
ae Earth!
(JULY 1834.)
Scene — The Leads of the Lodge. Present, NORTH, TICKLER, the
SHEPHERD, BULLER.¹ Time — Evening.
Shepherd. This fancy beats a', and proves o' itsel, sir, that
you're a poet. In fine weather, leevin on the leeds! And
siccan an awnin! No a threed o' cotton about it, or linen
either, but dome, wa's, cornishes, and fringes — a' silk. Oh!
but she's a tastefu' cretur that Mrs Gentle — for I see the
touch o' her haun in the hangins, the festoonins, the droopins
o' the draperies — and it's a sair pity that ye twa, who are seen
to be but ae² speerit, arena likewise ae flesh. Pardon the
allusion, Mr North, but you'll never be perfectly happy till
she bears your name, or aiblins you'll tak hers, my dear auld
sir, and ca' yoursels Mr and Mrs North Gentle; or gin you
like better to gie hers the precedence, Mr and Mrs Gentle
Christopher North. But either o' the twa would be characteristic
and euphonous — for you're humane, sir, by nature,
though by habit rather savage, and a' you want to saften you
back into your original constitution is to be a husband —
Tickler. And a father.
Shepherd. As likely to be that as yoursel, Mr Tickler, and
likelier too; and a' the warld would admire to see a bit canty
callant or yelegant lassie trotting at his knee —
Tickler. —
"With all its mother's tenderness,
And all its father's fire!"
North. James, is it not a beautiful panorama?
Shepherd. A panorama! What? wad you wush to hae a
panorama o' weans?
¹ See vol. ii. p. 115, note 2.
² Ae — one.
North. I mean the prospect, James.
Shepherd. A prospect o' a panorama o' weans!
North. Poo — poo — my dear Shepherd — you wilfully misapprehend
my meaning — look round you over land and sea!
Shepherd. I canna look farrer than the leeds. Oh! but its
a beautiful Conservatory! I never afore saw an Orange-tree.
And it's true what I hae read o' them — blossom and fruit on
the same plant — nae dout an evergreen — and in this caulder
clime o' ours bricht wi' its gowden ba's as if we were in the
Wast Indies? — What ca' ye thir?¹
North. These are mere myrtles.
Shepherd. Mere myrtles! Dinna say that again o' them —
mere; an ungratefu' word, o' a flowery plant a' fu' o' bonny
white starnies — and is that their scent that I smell?
North. The balm is from many breaths, my dear James.
Nothing that grows is without fragrance —
Shepherd. However fent² I fand that out when a toddler —
for I used to fling awa or drop whatever I pu'd that I thocht
had nae smell — till ae day I began till suspect that the faut
micht lie in my ain nose, and no in the buds or leaves, — and
frae a thousand sma' experiments I was glad to learn it was
sae — and that there was a scent — as ye weel said the noo — in
a' that grows. Wasna that kind in Nature! Hoo else could
that real poet Tamson hoe said, "the air is bawm!"
Tickler. I desiderate the smell of dinner.
Shepherd. What'n a sensual sentiment! The smell o' vittals
is delicious whan the denner's gettin dished, and during
the time o' eatin, but for an hour or mair after the cloth has
been drawn, the room to ma nose has aye a close het smell,
like that o' ingans. It's no the custom o' the kintra to leave
wi' the leddies — but nae drawin-room like the leeds. — What'n
North. Help yourself, James.
Shepherd. I'll thank ye, Mr Tickler, to rax me over thae
Tickler. They are suspiciously dark in the colour — but perhaps
you like the bitter?
Shepherd. They're nae mair ceevil³ than yoursel — but
genuine St Michaelers — and as they're but sma', half-a-dizzen
¹ Thir — these.
² Fent — faint.
³ Seville — Garrick's poor pun on being pelted with oranges.
o' them will sharpen the pallet for some o' thae American
aipples that never put ane's teeth on edge — which is mair
than you can say for Scotch anes, that are noo seldom sweeter
than scribes.
Buller. Scribes?
Shepherd. Crabs. Mr North, we maun tak tent what we're
about, for it wouldna answer weel to stoiter over the edge o'
the leeds; nor yet to tummle doun the trapdoor-stairs.
North. The companion-ladder, if you please, James.
Shepherd. Companion-ladder? I suppose because only ae
person can climb up at a time — though there's room aneuch,
that's true, for severals to fa' doun at ance — but the term's
nowtical, I ken — and you're a desperate cretur for thinkin o'
the sea.
North. Would that Tom Cringle¹ were here — the best
sketcher of sea-scenery that ever held a pen!
Buller. And painter, too, sir.
Shepherd. I ken little mair, or aiblins less o' ships than
Tam Cringle kens o' sheep — but in his pages I see them
sailin alang —
North. In calm, breeze, gale, or storm —
Shepherd. Dinna tak the words out o' ma mouth, sir, — in his
pages I see them sailin alang in cawm, breeze, gale, or
storm, as plain as if I was lookin at them frae the shore,
or —
Tickler. Scudding under bare poles like you and I, James,
without our wigs.
Shepherd. Naething's mair intolerable to me than a constant
attempt at wut. Besides, wha ever was seen — either men or
ships — scuddin under bare poles in a cawm?
Tickler. Or sailin — James — in a cawm — as you said just
Shepherd. But I didna say a deid cawm; an' gin I had,
doesna the wund often drap a' at ance, and a' at ance get
up again — and wasna the ship lying waitin for the wund wi'
a' sail set — or maybe motion still in her? And therefore
nane but an ignorawmus in nowticals would objeck to a Shepherd,
wha is nae sailor, speakin o' a ship sailin in a cawm.
Are ye satisfied ?
¹ Michael Scott, the author of Tom Cringle's Log, was born in Glasgow in
1789, and died in 1835.
North. My friend Marryat¹ finds fault with Tom Cringle
for being too melodramatic.
Tickler. His volumes are indeed a mellow dram in two
Shepherd. Faith, for a pun, that's no sae very far amiss;
and in a few years, frae playin on words, I shouldna be surprised
to see you, sir, gettin grup o' an idea.
Buller. My friend Fonblanque² characterised Captain
Cringle truly by three words in the Examiner — the Salvator
Rosa of the Sea.
North. The truth is, that Tom is a poet.
Buller. And of a high order.
North. Marryat missed to remember that while he was
penning his critique. Strike all the poetry out of Tom's
Shepherd. I'll defy you.
North. And Marryat would have been right. Read his
prose by the light of the poetry that illumines it, and Marryat
is wrong.
Shepherd. Wha's he, that Marryat?
North. A captain in the navy, and an honour to it — an admirable
sailor, and an admirable writer — and would that he
too were with us on the leads, my lads, for a pleasanter
fellow, to those who know him, never enlivened the social
Shepherd. I like the words you slipped in there, sir, wi' a
marked vice, like italics in prent — "to those who know him"
— for them that's gotten the character o' bein' pleasant fallows
on a' occasions, and to a' men, are seldom sound at the
core — and oh! but they grow wearisome on ane's hauns when
ane's no in the humour for diversion or daffin, but wish to be
North. Right, James. I have no conceit of them "who are
all things to all men." Why, I have seen John Schetky³ him¹
Captain Marryat, author of many admirable naval novels, was born in 1786,
and died in 1848. At this time he was editor of the Metropolitan Magazine.
² Mr Albany Fonblanque, the author of a History of England under Seven.
Administrations, and at this time the editor of the Examiner.
³ This accomplished artist, whose sea-pieces, in particular, are of the highest
order of excellence, was an early and esteemed friend of Professor Wilson's. He
formerly held an appointment in the Military College at Addiscombe, but has
now retired from the active duties of life.
self in the sulks with sumphs, though he is more tolerant of
ninnies and noodles than almost any other man of genius I
have ever known; but clap him down among a choice crew
of kindred spirits, and how his wild wit even yet, as in its
prime, wantons! Playing at will its virgin fancies, till Care
herself comes from her cell, and sitting by the side of Joy,
loses her name, and forgets her nature, and joins in glee or
catch, beneath the power of that magician, the merriest in the
Shepherd. I howp I'll no gang to my grave without forgathering
wi' John Schetky.
North. Marryat is often gruff.
Shepherd. Then you and him 'ill agree like blithers, for
you're aften no only gruff, but grim.
North. He would have stood in the first class of sea-scribes,
had he written nothing but Peter Simple.
Shepherd. Did he — did Marryyacht write Peter Simple?
Peter Simple in his ain way's as gude's Parson Adams.
Tickler. Parson Adams!
Shepherd. Ay, just Parson Adams. He that imagined
Peter Simple's a Sea-Fieldin. That's a better compound yepithet,
Mr North, nor your sea-scribe.
North. Methinks I see another son of Ocean sitting on that
Shepherd. Wha?
North. Glascock.¹
Shepherd. Let me look intil his face. (Rising up and going
to the couch.) Na — na — na, sir, I'm sorry to say this is no
Man-Glascock — it's neither his fine bauld face, nor his firm
springy figur.
North. "Dicky Phantom!"
Shepherd. And nae mair.
North. Glascock had a difficult game to play, Buller, in the
Douro, but he played it with a skill and a resolution that have
gained him the praise of the whole service.
Buller. No man stands higher.
North. All his books have been excellent, but his last is best
of all.
Shepherd. Shall I ca' him a Sea-Smollett?
¹ Captain Glascock, author of the Naval Sketch-Book, and other sea tales.
Tickler. You may, if you choose to talk stuff.
Shepherd. I was speerin at Mr North — nane but a fule
would speer sic a question at you — for you was never in a
ship but ance; and though she was in a dry dock, you was
sae sea-sick that there was a want o' mops.
North. I call him what he is — a Sea-Glascock. No man
alive can tell a galley-story with him — the language of the
forecastle from his lips smacks indeed of the salt sea-foam —
his crew must have loved such a captain — for he knows Jack's
character far better than Jack does himself; and were there
more such books as his circulating in the service, they would
assist, along with all wise and humane and just regulations
and provisions made by Government to increase and secure
Jack's comforts at sea and Poll's on shore, in extinguishing
all necessity for press-gangs.
Buller. Glascock, sir, can tell, too, a story as well as the
best of them all — Hall, or Marryat, or Chamier — of the Gunroom
and the Captain's cabin.
North. He can — and eke of the Admiral's. Marryat and
Glascock in a bumper, with all the honours.
Shepherd. Na. I wunna drink't.
North. James!!!
Tickler. What the devil's the matter with you now?
Buller. Mr. Hogg!
Shepherd. If I drink't, may I be —
North. No cursing or swearing allowed on board this
Tickler. Call the master-of-arms, and let him get a dozen.
Shepherd. If ony man says that ever I cursed or sweered,
either in ship or shielin, then he's neither mair nor less than
a confoonded leear. Fules! fules! fules! Sumphs! sumphs!
sumphs! Sops! sops! sops! Saps! saps! saps! Would
you cram the healths of twa siccan men, wi' a' the honours,
intil ae bumper? Let's drink them separate — and in
North. Charge.
Tickler. Halt. "I wunna drink't."
Shepherd. I'll no be mocked, Tickler. Besides, that's no
the least like ma vice.
Tickler. "I wunna drink't" — unless we all quaff, before
sitting down, another tumbler to Basil Hall.
North. With all my heart.
Shepherd. And sowl.
Buller. And mind. Stap — "I wunna drink't."
Shepherd. That's real like me — for an Englisher.
Tickler. Craziness is catching.
North. Well said, Son of Isis.
Buller. Tom Cringle.
Omnes. Ay, ay, sir — Ay, ay, sir — Ay, ay, sir.
North. Instead of the rule seniores priores — to prove our
equal regard — let us adopt an arithmetical order — and drink
them in Round Robin.
[Four (that is, sixteen) bumper tumblers (not of the higher
ranks, but the middle orders) are emptied arithmetically,
with all the honours, to the healths of Captains Cringle,
Glascock, Hall, and Marryat. For a season there is
silence on the leads, and you hear the thrush — near his
second or third brood — at his evening song.
Shepherd. Fowre tummlers, taken in instant sequence, o'
strang drink, by each o' fowre men — a' fowre nae farder back
than yestreen sworn-in members o' the left-haun branch o' the
Temperance Society! I howp siccan a decided exception,
while it is pruvin, mayna explode, the general rule. The
general rule wi' us fowre when we forgather, is to drink naething
but milk and water — the general exception to drink naething
but speerits o' wine, — that was a lapsus lingy — speerits
and wine. It's a pleasant sicht to see a good general rule
reconciled wi' a good general exception; and it's my earnest
desire to see a' the haill warld shakin hauns.
North. Peter, place my pillows.
[PETER does so.
Shepherd. There's ane geyan weel shued up.¹
Tickler. St Peter? I'm Pope. Kiss my toe, James.
Shepherd. Drink aye maks him clean daft.
Buller. 'Tis merry in the hall, when beards wag all. Then
all took a smack — a smack, at the old black-jack — to the
sound of the bugle-horn — to the sound of the bugle-horn.
Such airs I hate, like a pig in a gate — give me the good old
strain — and nought is heard on every side but signoras and
signors — like a pig in a gate, to the sound of the bugle-horn.
Shepherd. Drink maks him musical — yet he seems to remember
the words better nor the tune. North! nae snorin
¹ Shued up — sewed up.
alloo'd on the leeds. Tickler! do you hear? nae snorin
alloo'd on the leeds. Buller, pu' baith their noses. Fa'en
ower too! Noo, I ca' that a tolerable nawsal treeo. It's
really weel snored. Tickler! you're no keepin time. Kit,
you're gettin out o' tune. Buller, nae fawsetto. Come here,
Peter, I wush to speak to you. (PETER goes to the SHEPHERD.)
Isna Mr North gettin rather short in the temper? Haena
ye observed, too, a fa'in aff o' some o' his faculties — sic as
memory — and, I fear, judgment? And what's this I hear o'
him? (whispering PETER.) I do indeed devoutly trust it 'ill no
get wun'! (PETER puts his finger to his nose, and looking towards
NORTH, winks the SHEPHERD to be mum.) Ye needna clap your
finger on your nose, and wunk, and screw your mooth in that
gate, for he's in a safe snorin sleep.
Peter (indignantly). Mr Hogg, I trust I shall never be so
far left to myself as to act in any manner unbecoming my
love, gratitude, and veneration for the best and noblest of
men and masters.
Shepherd. You did put your forefinger to your nose — you
did wunk — ye did screw your mooth — ye did gesticulate that
ye suspeckit his sleep wasna as real's his snore — and ye did nod
yes when I asked you wi' a whusper in your lug if it was true
that he had taken to tipplin by himsel in the forenoons?
North (starting up). Ye back-biting hog in armour — but I
will break your bones — Peter, the crutch!
Shepherd. The crutch is safe under lock and key in its ain
case — and the key's in ma pocket — for you're no in a condition
to be trusted wi' the crutch. As for back-biting, what I said
I said afore your face — and if you was pretendin to be asleep,
let what you overheard be a lesson till you never to act so
meanly again, for be assured, accordin to the auld apothegm,
listeners never hear ony gude o' theirsels. Do they, Buller?
Buller. Seldom.
Shepherd. Do they ever, Tickler?
Tickler. Never.
Shepherd. Then I propose that we all get sober again.
Peter — THE ANTIDOTE! It's time we a' took it — for I've seen
the leeds mair stationary — half-an-hour back, I was lookin
eastward, but I'm sair mistaen if ma face be na noo due
North. Yes — Peter.
[PETER administers the Antidote.
Shepherd. Wasna that a blessed discovery, Mr Buller! Ae
glass o' THE ANTIDOTE taken in time no only remedies the
past, but insures the future — we may each o' us toss aff ither
fowre bumper tummlers with the same impunity as we
despatched their predecessors — and already what a difference
in the steadiness o' the leeds!
Buller. Hermes' Molly!
Tickler. The Great Elixir!
North. O sweet oblivious ANTIDOTE indeed — for out of the
grave of memory in bright resurrection rises Hope — and on
the wings of Imagination the rekindled Senses seem to hold
command over earth and heaven!
Shepherd. O coofs — coofs — coofs! wha abuse the wine--
bibbers o' the Noctes.
Buller. Coofs indeed!
Shepherd. Never, Mr Buller, shall they breathe empyrean
Buller. Never.
Shepherd. For them never shall celestial dews distil from
evening's roseate cloud —
Buller. Never.
Shepherd. Nor setting suns their fancy ever fill with visions
born o' golden licht — when earth, sea, cloud, and sky, are a'
interfused wi' ae speerit — and that speerit, sae beautifully
hushed in high repose, tells o' something within us that is
divine, and therefore that will leeve for ever! Look! look!
Buller. Such a sunset!
Shepherd. Let nae man daur to word it. It's daurin aneuch
even to look at it. For oh! ma freens! arena thae the gates
o' glory — wide open for departed speerits — that they may sail
in on wings intil the heart o' eternal life!¹ Let that sicht no
be lost on us.
North. It is melting away.
¹ "Come forth, ye drooping old men, look abroad
And see to what fair countries ye are bound!
And if some Traveller, weary of his road,
Hath slept since noontide on the grassy ground,
Ye Genii! to his covert speed,
And wake him with such gentle heed
As may attune his soul to meet the dower
Bestowed on this transcendent hour!"
Shepherd. Changed — gane! Anther sun has set — surely a
solemn thocht, sirs — yet, come, let's be cheerfu' — Mr North, let
me see a smile on your face, man — for, my dear sir, I canna
thole noo bein' lang melancholy at ae time — for every year
sic times are growin mair frequent — and I howp the bonny
Leddy Moon 'ill no be lang o' risin, nor do I care whether or
no she brings wi' her ane, nane, or ten thousan' stars. Here
comes the caffee.
(Enter AMBROSE, with tea and coffee silver-service.)
Ambrose. Tea or coffee, sir?
Shepherd. Chaclat. Help the rest. Mr North?
North. Sir?
Shepherd. Is that America, on the other side of the Firth?
North. Commonly called the Kingdom of Fife.
Shepherd. Noo that steam's brocht to perfection, aiblins
I may mak a voyage there before I dee. Can you assure me
the natives are no cannibals?
North. They are cannibals, James, and will devour you —
with kindness; for to be hospitable, free, affectionate, and
friendly, is to be Fifeish.
Shepherd. I see through the blue haze toons and villages
alang the shores, the kintra seems cultivated, but no cleared —
for you maun be the wudds o' bonny Aberdour, atween whilk
and the shore o' Scotland sleep the banes o' Sir Patrick Spens
and a' his peers. We can write no sic ballant noo-a-days as,
"The king sat in Dunfermline tower,
Drinking the blood-red wine."
The simplest pawthos, sir, sinks deepest in the heart — and
lies there — far down aneath the fleetin storms o' life — just as
that wreck itsel is lyin noo, bits o' weed, and airn, and banes,
lodged immovably amang other ruefu' matter at the bottom o'
the restless sea.
Buller. Exquisite!
Shepherd. Eh! what said ye, sir? did ye apply that epithet
to my sentiment, or to your sherry?
Buller. To both. United, "they sank like music in my heart."
Shepherd. Here's to you, Mr Buller. Did ever I ask, sir, if
you're ony relation to the Bullers o' Buchan?¹
¹ On the east coast of Scotland, a few miles south of Peterhead, are the
Bullers of Buchan, a nearly round basin about thirty yards wide, formed in a
Buller. Cousins.
Shepherd. I thocht sae, sir, frae the sound o' your vice.
You're a fine bauld dashin family, and fling the cares o' the
warld aff frae your sides like rocks.
Buller. Scotland seems to me, if possible, improved since
my last visit — even
"Stately Edinborough, throned on crags,"
more magnificently wears her diadem.
Shepherd. Embro' as a town, takin't by itsel, 's no muckle
amiss, but I canna help considerin't but a clachan¹ sin' my visit
to Lunnon. Mercy on us, what a roar o' life! Ane would
think the haill habitable yerth had spewed its haill population
intil that whirlpool! or that that whirlpool had sookt it a' in —
mair like a Maelstrom than a Metropolis!
North. There's poetry for you!
Buller. It is.
Shepherd. Whales and mennows a' are yonner, sir, dwinnled
doun or equaleezed intil the same size by the motion o' millions,
and a' sense o' individuality lost. The verra first morning
I walked out o' the hotel I clean forgot I was James
Buller. Yet, a few mornings after, Mr Hogg, allow me to
say, that the object most thought of there was the Ettrick
Shepherd. Na — no on the streets. Folk keepit shoalin past
me — me in ae current o' flesh, and them in anither — without a
single ee ever seemin to see me — a' een lookin straucht forrit —
a' faces in full front, — sae that I couldna help askin mysel,
Will a' this break up — is it a' but the maist wonderfu' o'
Buller. But in the Park.
Shepherd. Ay! that was a different story — I cam to my
seven senses on Sunday in the Park — and I had need o' them
a' — for gif I glowered, they glowered — and wherever I went,
I couldna but see that I was the centre —
Tickler. "The cynosure of neighbouring eyes."
hollow rock which projects into the sea, towards which there is an arch by which
the waves enter. It is open also at the top, round which there is a narrow
path about thirty yards from the water: when the sea is high in a storm, this
scene is exceedingly grand." — Penny Cyclopedia.
¹ Clachan — a small village.
Shepherd. O man! wheesht. The centre — the navel o' the
great wheel that keepit circumvolvin round, while rays, like
spokes, innumerable frae leddies' een shot towards me frae
the circumference, and hadna my heart been pierced, it wad
hae been no o' wudd, but o' stane.
North. O thou Sabbath-breaker!
Shepherd. That thocht saddened me, but I shook it aff, and I
howp I may be forgiven, for it wasna my ain faut, but the faut
o' that Lord that counted me on his ain charger, and would
show me — whether I would or no — in the Dress-Rings.
Tickler. And how were you dressed, James?
Shepherd. Wiser-like than you in your ordinar — just in the
Sabbath claes I gang in to Yarrow kirk.
North. Simple son of genius! Buller, is he not a jewel?
Buller. He is.
Shepherd. Fie lads — think shame o' yoursels — for I ken that
ahint ma back you ca' me a rouch diamond.
North. But the setting, my dear James! How farther were
you set?
Shepherd. I hadna on the blue bannet — for I had nae wush
to be singular, sir — but the plaid was atower ma shouthers
North. And across your manly breast, my Shepherd, which
must have felt then and there, as here and now, entitled to
beat with the pride of conscious genius and worth.
Shepherd. I shanna say that I wasna proud, but I shall
say that I was happy; for the Englishers I hae ever held to
be the noblest race o' leevin men except the Scotch — and forby
that, sirs, a poet is nae mair a poet in his ain kintra than
a prophet a prophet; but yonner my inspiration was acknowledged,
and I thocht mair o' mysel as the owther o' the
Queen's Wake, five blinder miles awa frae the Forest, than I
ever had ony visible reason to do sae, in the city ower which
Mary Stuart ance rang,¹ and in the very shadow o' Holyrood.
Tickler. How you must have eclipsed Count d'Orsay!²
Shepherd. I eclipsed nane. There's nae eclipsin yonner —
for the heaven was a' shinin wi' mony thousan' stars. But the
sugh went that the Ettrick Shepherd was in the Park — the
Shepherd o' the Wake, and The Pilgrims, and Kilmeny —
¹ Rang — reigned.
² This accomplished gentleman, and leader of the fashion in his day, died in
North. And the Noctes —
Shepherd. Ay, o' the Noctes — and what were they ever, or
wad they ever again hae been, withouten your ain auld
North. Dark — dark — irrecoverable dark!
Shepherd. Your haun. Thousands o' trees were there — but
a' I kept o' them, as they gaed gliding greenly by, was that
they were beautifu'; as for the equipages, they seemed a' ae
equipage —
Tickler. Your cortège.
Shepherd. Wheesht — wheesht — O man, wunna ye wheesht!
— Representin — containin — a' the wealth, health, rank, beauty,
grace, genius, virtue o' England —
Tickler. Virtue!
Shepherd. Yes — Virtue. Their een were like the een o'
angels, and if virtue wasna smiling yonner, then 'twould be
vain to look for her on this side o' heaven.
North. I fear, my dearest Shepherd, that you forgot the
Flowers of the Forest.
Shepherd. Clean. And what for no? Wasna I a stranger
in Lunnon? and would I alloo fancy to flee awa wi' me out
the gates o' Paradise? Na — she couldna hae dune that, had
she striven to harl me by the hair o' the head. Oh, sir!
sufficient for the hour was the beauty thereof — sowl and
senses were a' absorbed in what I saw — and I became —
Tickler. The Paragon of the Park.
Shepherd. Wull you no fine him, sir, in saut and water?
North. Silence, Tim!
Shepherd. He disturbs ane like the Death-Tick.
North. Well, James?
Shepherd. Oh, sir! the leddies yonner — it maun be confessed
— stoop their heads main elegantly — main gracefully —
mair royally far — than the leddies in Embro'!
Tickler. Indeed! I should have thought that impossible.
Shepherd. Wi' a mair enchantin wave o' their arms do they
bless ye, as they pass by, wi' a kiss o' licht frae the white
saft patinas o' their hauns, that micht amaist mak the sad lily
herself begin to grow ashamed o' her leaves! — Can it be
possible, sir, think ye, that yon gleams are a' o' the real bare
skin, and no kid gloves? Yet kids they couldna be — for I
observed them drawin them off, as I came near — and snawy
as they were, the slichtest tinge o' pink served to shaw what
pure bluid was in their veins; but 'twas on their faces you
could see the circulation free their hearts, for there danced
the sunshine on roses, and Beauty in its perfection was Joy
and Love.
North. Twenty years ago, my dear Shepherd, and what
would have become of your heart?
Shepherd. Mr North, you dinna need to be tauld that the
heart o' every human — ay, o' every leevin thing 's a mystery
— and a great and afttimes a sair mystery to me has been
mine; but at nae time o' life would I hae felt muckle itherwise
amang a' that fascination than I did then — for the sense
o' my ain condition, o' my ain lot, has aye lain upon me,
and held ma speerit doun, true to the cares and duties o' the
sphere in which it pleased Providence that I should be born.
North. You know, my dear James, that I was not serious.
Shepherd. I kent that, my dear sir — for ye hae the insicht.
No that seldom the sense o' what I said the noo, has been sae
heavy that I was like to fent in the weary wilderness; at ither
times, and aftener far, though it was like a pack on my shouthers
on a hilly road, I hae carried it not only without complainin,
but contented, and wi' a supportin gratitude; while
aftenest o' a' — and you'll, sir, no think that strange — it has.
been to me even like wings on which I walked clang the green
braes in the dewy mornin, wi' steps o' air, and envied not
leevin cretur in a' the wide world. And when something
within me whuspered that I had genie, then the wings o'
themsels unfaulded, and I thocht, without leavin or losin
sicht a'thegither o' the Forest, that I sailed awa into still
lovelier laun's — intil Fairylaun' itsel, sir — for 'twas there I
met Kilmeny — and asked the bonny doo where she had come
frae, and where she was gaun — and if she were to return
evermair, — and she confided a' her secrets to the Shepherd —
and —
North. The Shepherd sung of her "one song that will
not die."
Shepherd. That was kind in you, my revered sir, to help
me out. Gin conversation had nae ither interruptions than o'
that sort, freens micht keep talkin on a' nicht without ever
noticin the sinkin o' the cawnles or the risin o' the stars.
Tickler. Hem!
Shepherd. The Forest for me, after a'! Sae would it hae
been, sir, even had I been ca'd up to Lunnon in my youth or
prime. Out o' utter but no lang forgetfulness it would hae
risen up, stretchin itsel out in a' its length and breadth, wi'
a' its lochs and mountains, and hills and streams — St Mary's
and the Yarrow, the dearest o' them a' — and wafted me alang
wi't, far aff and awa frae Lunnon, like a man in a warld o'
his ain, swoomin northward through the air, wi' motion true
to that ae airt, and no deviatin for sake o' the brichtest
southern star.
Buller. Most beautiful.
Shepherd. If it would hae been sae even then, Mr Buller,
hoo much mair maun it hae been sae but some three simmers
back, when my hair, though a gey dour broon, was yieldin to
the grey? You was never at Mount Benger, sir, nor Altrive,
and the mair's the pity, for happy should we a' be to see sic a
fine, free, freenly fallow — and o' sic bricht pairts — though the
weans michtna just at first follow your English —
Buller. For their sakes, my dear Shepherd — forgive my
familiarity — I should learn their own Doric in a day.
Shepherd. That you wad, my dear Mr Buller; and thinkna
ye, gin if I ever, for a flaff,¹ in the Park, forgot my ain cosy
bield, that the thocht on't cam na back on my heart — ay, the
verra sicht o't afore my een — dearer than ever for sake o' the
wee bodies speerin at their mother when faither was comin
hame — and for sake o' her, who, for my sake, micht at that
moment be lettin drag a kiss on their heads.
Tickler. Now that we have seen the Shepherd in the Park,
pray, James, exhibit yourself at the Play.
Shepherd. The last exhibition you made o' yoursel, Mr
Tickler, at the Play, as you ca't — meanin, I presume, in the
Playhouse — wasna quite sae creditable as your freens wad
hae wished — sittin in ane o' the upper boxes wi' a pented waxdoll
— no to ca' them waur — on ilka haun —
North. Is that a true bill, Tickler?
Tickler. A lie.
Shepherd. I never answer that monosyllable — but canna
help followin't up, on the present occasion, wi' an apothegm;
to wit, that a man's morals may be judged by his mainners.
But I tell you, Mr North, and you, Mr Buller, that I was in
¹ Flaff — instant.
ane of the houses — ance, and but ance; I gaed there out o'
regard to some freens, and I ever after staid awa out o' regard
to mysel — for o' a' the sichts that ever met my een, there
never was the like o' yon; and I wonder hoo men-folk and
womenfolk, sittin side by side, could thole't in a public
theatre. The performance was queer by name, and queer by
nature — the first I wasna able to remember, and the second I
shall never be able to forget. But will ye believe me when I
tell you, that on the verra middle o' the stage, geyan weel back
to be sure, but only sae as to saften them in the distance,
visible to the haill audience were a bevy o' naked lassies, a'
plowterin in a bath, wi' the water no up to their waists!
Omnes. Shocking! shocking! shocking!
Shepherd. Dinna ye believe't? I grant it's a gey lee-like
story, but it's as sure's death. They micht hae some sort o'
cleedin on, but gin they had, it wasna visible to the naked
ee, and I couldna for shame ask the len¹ o' an opera-glass frae
an auld gentleman ahint me, who was kecklin like a gouty
gander across a burn to a gang o' goslins. I perceived mysel
getting red in the face — for though no blate,² I howp I hae
a' life lang had a sense o' decency; and the young leddy at
my side began fannin me wi' her fan. But I pretended to be
readin the bill o' the play — only noo and then takin a peep
wi' the tail o' my ee — but oh, sirs! yon was a great shame;
and though I'm again' a' sorts o' tyranny, or intermeddling wi'
the liberty o' the subjeck, I am clear for mainteening, were it
even by force o' law, the decency o' a' public entertainments.
I couldna help lookin roun' for some member o' the Society
for the Suppression o' Vice.
Tickler. Some folks are so very inflammable.
Shepherd. I turned roun' upon the fourscore-and-twa fule ahint
me, and askt the odious dotard if it wasna maist laithsome to
see him hotchin on his seat, and to hear him mumplin in the
mouth at sic a sicht, in the same box wi' a grown lassie that
maun hae been at least his great-granddaughter? But the
auld toothless satyr was ower deaf to hear me, although wi'
help o' ever so mony lenses, baith clarifiers and multipliers, he
had sic vision o' the hawrem as made a monster o'him, sufficient
— but for the perversion o' public taste and feeling — to hae brocht
on his bald head the derision, disgust, and horror o' a full house.
¹ Len — loan.
² Blate — bashful.
Tickler. Poo — poo — whew!
Shepherd. That's the way o't. To the pure a' things are
pure — and on the faith o' a sayin in Scriptur, ane o' the
haliest ever inspired, do people justify indecency after indecency,
till — where, may I ask you, Mr Tickler, is it proposed
there shall be a stop?
Tickler. I have been at Peebles.
Shepherd. I ken what you mean. You hae seen a dizzen
hizzies on the banks o' the Tweed trampin claes in boynes,
wi' their ain weel-tucked up; and frae ane o' the pleasantest
sichts o' the usefullest o' employments, in the pure air and
sunshine — pursued wi' "weel-timed daffin," and the industrious
merriment of happy hearts — you would reason by a
fause analogy in favour o' the exposure o' weel-nigh a' they
hae got to expose, o' a gang o' meretrishus limmers, — for they're
no respectable actresses yon, like them that it's a delicht to
see in Rosalind or Beatrice or Perditta — sic as Miss Jarman
and Miss Tree — female characters that micht be witnessed
even by ministers — but hired at laigh wages — sae might it
seem — the grand feck o' them aff the verra streets — to pander
to the diseased appeteets o' a luxurious or worn-out generation,
— or would Lord Grey, think ye sirs, ca't — the Speerit o'
the Age?
North and Buller. Bravo — bravo — bravo!
North. Yet in the same city, and at the same season, were
represented to agitated or deeply interested audiences such
Fair Humanities as my friend Sheridan Knowles's heart awakens
before his fancy, and his genius gives ideal being, to be realised
before our delighted eyes by such sweet representatives
as those you have now named, and who carry into their characters
on the stage the same qualities that make them all that
is good and amiable in private life!
Buller. Perhaps, Mr Hogg, you have somewhat overdrawn,
though not overcoloured, the picture. Yet knowing to what
pitch public representations were brought in Rome —
Shepherd. To what pitch?
Buller. Read Juvenal.
Shepherd. But I canna — and sae muckle the better — for nae
man, I suspeck, was ever improved by satire that painted the
vices it denounced; but many have been corrupted by the
physical display, who wanted wisdom or will to draw the
moral. Mind ye, sirs, my indignation was not prurient — and
were ony coof to ca' it coorse, he wad only show that he kept
na the difference atween hypocritical sympathy with grossness
affectin cynical contempt, and genuine disgust giving vent in
plain language to the feelings of a man.
Tickler. James — your hand.
Shepherd. There. Dog on't, you'll bring bluid!
Tickler. These boys flatter you, James — but that I never
Shepherd. You err, sir, rather in the opposite direction — but
atween the twa it 'ill be feenally found about richt. Oranges,
aipples, grapes, and ither fruit, are doutless unco refreshin;
but in their case "increase o' appeteet grows on what it feeds
on" far mair surely than in Mrs Hamlet's — sae may I ask you,
sir, to ring the siller bell for anther dessert?
North, You will find one behind that stand of Japonicas,
[The SHEPHERD wheels round the reserve from behind the
Japonica stand—and at the same time enter PETER with
North. What is your opinion, my dear Shepherd, of these
bills for the better observance of the Sabbath?
Shepherd. What'n bills ?
North. Sir Andrew Agnew's and Lord Wynford's.¹
Shepherd. I'm ashamed, sir, to say that I never heard tell
o' them afore; yet taken by surprise and on the sudden, I
shall not pronounce that sic an object lies out o' the sphere o'
legal legislation. Stap. I recolleck noo, thinkin Sir Andrew's
motion no very weel matured — and that Lord Winefort's
speech was real sensible — but what're a daft protest was yon
o' Lord Vox's? It had a queer sound, yon sentence beginning,
"Whereas any attempt to restrain drunkenness." — I
¹ "Sir Andrew Agnew, a Scottish baronet of much wealth, was in Parliament
at this time, and made it a practice, year after year, to bring forward a
Bill for the better observance of the Sabbath. The penal provisions of this
proposed statute were so severe, that the Legislature always declined sanctioning
them. . . . Lord Wynford had been Chief Justice of the Common
Pleas, which he resigned in 1825, He also had an Anti-Sabbath-breaking Bill,
one provision of which was that no public bakery should be open during
any part of Sunday. Considering that one-third of all the Sunday dinners in
London are cooked at public bakeries, the proposition was admitted to be
untenable, and the Bill did not pass." — American Editor.
canna quote the preceese words — but frae his speech it seemed
something shocking to the Chancellor to shackle intoxication,
and something absurd in the Chancellor to assert, that it was
next to impossible to ken when anther man was fou. Perhaps
he mayna stoiter — but tak tent o' his een, and you'll
see he's no sober. Gin he shut them, that's in itsel suspicious;
but wait till ye hear him tryin to speak — and unless
he's sae far gone that there's nae mistakin, and therefore
nae need o' ony particular index to his contents, ye can tell
to a trifle, gin lie be a freen, the number o' tummlers, or gin
an ordinary man o' a stranger, within half-a-dizzen. A' his
Lordship's specifications o' the different taps a man may visit
who is on the rove, and his argumentations thence deduced as
to the diffeeculty, or rather impossibility, o' ony ae landlord's
catchin him at the pint atween the drunk and sober, which if
he passes, he belongs, as the logicians say, to another category,
are no sae solid as they may be ingenious, and comin
frae ane less acquented wi' the ways o' the world than Hairy
Broom, micht have been thocht to show that the speaker was
sae fond o' theory, as to ken naething about the practice o'
the maitter in haun; to sae naething o' bein' sae uncommon
funny in sae grave a place as the House o' Lords. Didna he
gang the length, sir, o' hintin that they werena "an assembly
o' rational beings?"
North. No, no — James — he merely said in his protest that
some of the provisions of the intended measure were such as
had never before been offered to the consideration "of an
assembly of rational beings."
Shepherd. You'll find, sir, that rational and irrational are a'
ane by implication. But if you canna see that, why then, as
his Lordship said to the Yearl o' Wicklow, "I am not bound
to find you understaundin," nor yet, as he said to the Marquess
o' Londonderry, to gie you "the smallest glimmer" o' insicht
into the recondite meanin o' my remark.
Buller. Why, my dear sir, you seem to have all the most
remarkable passages of the Parliamentary eloquence of the day
at your finger's end.
Shepherd. Stale sourocks.¹
Buller. Sir?
Shepherd. Naething. As for the Sabbath — "keep it holy."
¹ Sourock — sorrel.
But in Lunnon hoo can that be brocht about? Oh! gin it
could, wouldna a' Protestant Christians be glad indeed! But
if religion canna guard frae profanation her ain especial day,
my heart misgies me as to the power o' ony ither law. Yet
may the magistrate, commissioned with salutary authority by
mere human wisdom, enforce obedience to the mandate of
the King of kings. Outward obedience may come to foster
inward; for submission becomes habit — and habit inclination —
and inclination love — and love piety; and thus, though of
mean origin, may grow up a sentiment that shall be high — no
less, sirs, than a sacred sentiment inspiring a man's speerit
with all that is holy — on the holy day. For a day set apart
from secular concerns — and, as far as may be, from the worldly
feelings that cling to them even in thought — has a prodigious
power, sirs, ower a' that is divine in our human, — and lang
before the close o' life, or the beginning o' its decline — ay,
even in youth — boyhood — childhood — yea, we have a' read
and believed o' sic effects wrocht even in the heart o' verra
infancy — becomes like a Law o' Nature. Ay, as if the sun
rose more solemnly — yet not less sweetly — on the Sabbath
Morning — and a profounder stillness pervaded not the earth
only, but the sky.
North. My dear James.
Shepherd. I'm no meaning to deceive either you or me, sir,
with the belief that much o' this is no the wark o' imagination
— for mony a stormy Sabbath has sunk mony a ship on
the sea; but still, for the main o' human life, in a true
Christian kintra, sic as Scotland, the Sabbath is a day o'
rest — first to men's bodies, and then to men's souls; and gin
the Sabbath be lown,¹ which, far oftener than itherwise, a
thousand memories tell me it has been in the Forest — the
peacefu' and gratefu' heart collects a' the lang-gane cawms
intil the thochtfu' feelin o' ae endurin cawm — and it hangs
ower the idea o' the Sabbath, making it, even when the
elements are at strife, still in the soul as the heart o' a kirk,
when the minister is rising to pray, or a sweet serene sound
at intervals rises upon our ear, like the psalm the congregation
sings, when even some amang the three-year-auld infants
are not wholly mute!
North. How unlike the Sundays I have seen, James, in
¹ Lown — calm.
many Roman Catholic countries! Yet dared I not there to
condemn the happiness with which I could not sympathise so
entirely as I would fain have done — for though creed and
custom had deeply engraved all the impressions of which you
have so beautifully spoken, not on the tablets of my memory,
but of my conscience — yet what was I that I should see sin
where the eyes of far better and wiser men saw no sin, but
looked on, well pleased, with faces now bright with mirthful
smiles, that an hour ago at the altar were drenched in
Shepherd. David danced before the Ark. But what if the
Moderator were to do sae on his way up the High Street to
hear the sermon preached before the Commissioner!
North. In England, Mr Buller — I speak of the places I best
know — the Sabbath is so well observed that I know not if it
could be better — yet its spirit is not either to my eye or my
heart the same as in Scotland. Should I say rightly, were I
to say that the Sabbath-spirit in England is serene — in
Scotland austere? Hardly so. For — let no lightness, or
frivolity, or indifference, or torpor, be seen anywhere around
him; and neither in the kirk — nor walking to or from the
kirk — nor in his own house or garden — should I say the
countenance of THE ELDER or of any one of his family was
austere, though he and they be true, in faith and in works, to
their forefathers of the Covenant.
Shepherd. I canna bring mysel to dout — though without a
grain o' dogmatism — that o' a' the ways o' observin the
Seventh Day, that which has prevailed in Scotland — if no
ever sin' the Reformation, sin' the establishment o' the Presbyterian
kirk — is the best; and for this ae reason — that
wi' us the Sabbath is Itself. The common use of the term
Sabbath-breakin conveys a' that is shockin — and I'm no
speakin o' that; but the Sabbath may be broken, surely, sir,
in anither sense, and perhaps without ony sin — for there can
be nae sin without evil intention, and nae evil intention's in
the hearts o' thae Roman Catholic lads and lasses — be they
Italians or Germans — or what not — wha break doun and
fritter awa the Sabbath — dancin aneath poplar or linden tree.
Na — for a' that I ken — that may be the best kind o' Sabbath
for them — seein that to judge what is best requires a knowledge
o' their character and o' their condition the ither days
o' the week. Perhaps they couldna bear a different Sabbath —
though it were as a Sabbath far superior spiritually to that o'
theirs — but fit only for a people leevin under a clearer and
a fuller licht. The mair Christian the people, the mair
Christian the Sabbath; and though I'm no unacquainted wi'
the controversy about the change thought by some Divines to
hae been wrocht in the law regarding the Jewish Sabbath —
yet hae I nae mair douts than o' my ain existence, that the
events recorded in the New Testament have made the Sabbath
holier — if that micht be — even than in the days o' Moses, —
therefore let it be kept holy; and if, as I believe, it be kept
so in Scotland — then the blessing of God will be upon her
— and as she is good, so shall she wax great.
North. Alas! James — alas!
Shepherd. I ken Scotland's no what she ance was — but I
believe that, instead o' continuin to get waur, she'll get better
— for that cant about the decent observance o' this, and the
decent observance o' that, and the rational view o' this subjeck,
and the leeberal view o' that ither subjeck, will no much langer
stand the test o' reason — for reason enlichtened to the hicht
kens that the cause o' a' gude resides, as Cowper says, in that
heavenly word — Religion; and that Faith re-established,
what's ca'd philosophy — that's waur nor superstition — will
die; and then men will feel that, to leeve as they ought to
do, ither instruction and ither support are necessary than they
can get frae a' the books that ever were or will be prented —
and which seeking, they shall find in One.
Buller. All the highest minds in Europe now see and declare
the immortal truth, that all education must be based and
built on the Christian religion.
Shepherd. Ower lang were they blind, and ower lang hae
they been dumb. For a' the humblest hae seen and declared
it a' their lives lang — though their declaration was confined
to a sma' sphere, includin chiefly twa homesteads — that in
which they live and die, and that in which they are buried!
North. The difficulty in London — in England — and in
Scotland too — is to do all that may be done for the Sabbath,
without interfering with the comforts — may I say the amusements,
of the lower orders — the working classes — the poor.
Tickler. The million.
Buller. The great multitude of mankind.
Shepherd. The majority o' the human race.
North. Let legislators look to themselves, and not to their
individual selves alone, but to their order, in legislating for
the Sabbath.
Buller. Let them begin with the rich and end with the poor.
Tickler. And the poor will then submit to the law, and, as
the Shepherd admirably observed, love the law. Not else.
North. I have no holy horror of hot Sabbath-baked mutton--
Shepherd. Nor me — though on Sabbath there's no a het
denner, if you except potawtoes, in a' the Forest.
North. Nor would I too much trammel the Thames.
Shepherd. "The boatie rows — the boatie rows." And after
sermon I can see nae sin in a sail. No that ever onybody
saw me on the Sabbath in a boat on the loch. But St Mary's
is a still sheet o' inland water, wi' but few inhabitants on its
banks — and the Thames is a rinnin river, wi' ebb and flow o'
tide, wi' magnificent briggs, and wharfs, and stairs, by which
a michty city keeps up continual communication wi' the sea,
and perhaps the Sabbath would be over deathlike on that
great water, were the law to hush the voice o' human life,
and a nichtlike silence to settle doun there even on the Lord's
day. But I canna tell. It's no for me to judge what's best, for
I'm no the Bishop o' Lunnon, but only the Ettrick Shepherd.
North. The Sabbath-day has been so long kept holy in
Scotland, that Sabbath-breaking here — as you well said,
James — is justly considered to be a shocking sin. Should it
be thought right to strengthen by law such observance of the
Sabbath as has become a national characteristic, here it may
be comparatively easy to do so; for such law can affect only
a small minority of offenders, with whom there is no sympathy
among the good of any class or any creed — and reform will
be restoration.
Shepherd. Burns sang the Cottar's Saturday Night, and
James Grahame the Sabbath — and poetry is indeed a heaven--
taucht art when it sanctifies religion.
North. The spirit of the age in Scotland is religious, and
the people, in spite of all this noise, love its simple Church.
Great cause have they for their love — for that simple Church
has cared for them — and they owe all that is best in their
character to its ministrations. Philosophy has not made our
people what they are — neither moral nor natural philosophy
— though both are excellent; human science cannot control
the will — but in the will lies all good and all evil — and to
know how to gain dominion over them, search the Scriptures.
Shepherd. Alas for the people who will not! Then, indeed,
may they be cad "the lower orders" — below the beasts that
perish. Men ca' the wee sleek mole blind because he has nae
een they can see, and leeves darklin in the moul; but he has
een fitted for his condition as weel as the eagle's, and travels
alang his earth-galleries aneath the soil as surely as the royal
bird alang his air-paths on the sky. But we that ca' him
blind are far blinder oursels; for we forget we hae speeritual
as weel as corporeal een — that they see by a different Licht,
far ither objects — and that the ae set may be gleg and bricht,
while the ither's blunt and opaque the corporeal far-keekers
indeed, that wi' the aid o' telescopes can look into the heart
o' the fixed stars — the speeritual sae narrow-ranged, that a's
black before them as a wa', though God-given to gaze into the
very gates o' heaven.
North. My beloved Shepherd, after that I shall say nothing.
Buller. Yes! I will see you in your own house in the
Forest — my dear —
Shepherd. I'll drive you out, Mr Buller, the morn¹ in the
gig. Gie's your haun on't. That's settled.
North. Thinking on human life in humble households, my
heart sums up all the holiest sights I have so often seen there
in two words carrying with them profoundest pathos — Contentment
and Resignation.
Shepherd. Mr North, hearken till me, and I'll gie you, in as
few words as I can, an illustration o' your true and wise
remark. I ken a howe amang the hills where staun' three
houses — apairt frae ane anther about a quarter o' a mile — a
rather unusual occurrence for three houses to be sae near in
sic a situation — yet they are there noo, as they hae been for
mair nor a hunder years — and, though auld-like, are cosy,
and carena either for wund or snaw.
North. Why, James, you have already painted a picture.
Shepherd. I didna mean to be descriptive — but I canna help
it. In the house at the fell-fit, where the burn is a spring,
the family consists o' fourteen sowls — pawrents and childer —
¹ The morn — to-morrow.
no that they are a' leevin at hame — for some o' baith lads and
lassies are at service — but last time I was there I coonted
seven growin anes, twa-three o' them bein' weans, and ane a
babby. The couple hae been man and wife twunty year, and
death has never ance knocked at their door; no ane o' them
a' ever had a fivver. Then they hae a' turned out weel —
without vice or folly — what'n a blessin in sic a large family!
— are a' weel-mainnered and weel-faured, — indeed, far mair
nor that — for the twa twuns are the maist beautifu' creturs
ever seen, and like as lilies.
Tickler. I should like to go a-maying to the Howe.
Shepherd. You wad get gran' cruds and ream — and the
lassies nae lack o' lauchin. The twa twuns wad get prime
fun wi' Lang-legs — passin themsels aff on him for ane anither
— and first the ane and then the ither declarin it wasna her
that had gotten the ribbons.
Tickler. The fairies!
Shepherd. In the neist house — laigher doun beside the linn —
I remember there bein' born first ae bairn and then anither —
lad and lassie time about — till there were nae fewer than ten.
You couldna say, when you lookt at them as they were waxin,
that they were ony way unhealthy — though rather slenderer
and mair delicat than you micht hae wushed your ain bairns.
But, waes me! sirs, no ae single ane o' a' the ten ever saw
the sun o' their twentieth simmer — few reached saxteen — the
rest dwined awa earlier — and noo they're a' dead!
North. And the parents?
Shepherd. Wait a wee and I'll tell you about the pawrents.
In the house laighest o' the three — and that you can see
peepin by itsel — as if the ither twa werena near't — leeve a
pair noo wearin awa — wha married when I was a herd — and
they had never ony bairns ava; sae that the freens in the
twa ither houses sometimes used to fear the sicht o' their
families micht waukin envy in the hearts o' them wha sleepit
in a barren bed. Nor would it hae been unnatural if it had;
but na — God, they kent, gied — and God withheld — and God
took awa — and through a' their lang life childless, yet through
a' their lang life hae they been cheerfu' as birds, and industrious
as bees. In troth they hae been just a meeracle o'
contentment — and though they liked best the cawm o' their
ain house, yet they were merry as grigs among ither
folk's weans — wha aften ca'd her mammy as weel's their
ain mither.
North. God bless you, James.
Shepherd. And you, sir. Noo, sir, I dinna fear to say — for
I know it to be a truth and a great truth — that thae three
couple are at this hour a' equally — but oh! how differently
happy! Them that has never kept the blessin o' bairns —
them that has enjoyed it in overflowing measure, and without
ae drap o' what can be ca'd bitter in the cup — and them that
saw a' their bairntime meltin awa till they had to kneel doun
by their ain twa sels in prayer. Ae word — or twa words —
and the twa, though ane and the same, soun' sweet and awfu'
thegither — explain the mystery, — The Bible — Religion.
[There is silence for a time. NORTH rings the silver bell, and
appear PETER and AMBROSE with the cold round, ham and
fowls and tongues, and the unassuming but not unsubstantial
etceteras of such a small snug Mid-summer supper
as you may suppose suitable at a Noctes on the Leads of
the Lodge. NORTH nods, and PETER lets on the gas.
Shepherd. Fareweel to the moon and stars.
North. What will you eat, James?
Shepherd. I'll tak some hen. Mr Buller, gie me the twa
legs and the twa wings and the breist — and then haun the
hen over to Mr Tickler.
[They settle down into serious eating. The SHEPHERD taking
the lead — hard pressed by NORTH.
Tickler. How are you getting on, James?
Shepherd. But slawly. Canna ye sook that back without
your jaw-banes clunkin? Soopin on the leads o' the Lodge
aneath a silk yawnin in a conservatory lichted up with gas! —
Buller, what are ye about?
Buller. Tucking in a trifle of brawn.
Shepherd. Mr North, I've seen naething frae your pen, for
years by, comparable to "Christopher on Colonsay."¹ I
howp we're to hae anither Fytte.
North. I believe Fytte Second opens the Number.
Shepherd. That's richt — and had Gurney no been in the
¹ See Essays Critical and Imaginative, vol. iii. "Colonsay" was a pony
of remarkable strength and sagacity, presented to Professor Wilson by
Mr M'Neil of Colonsay.
Heelans, you micht hae concluded the Nummer wi' this
[A still small voice — I'm here.
Shepherd. Gude safe us!
North. Here's a tribute from an admirer near Cirencester.
Say, who is this with crutch so strong,
With beard so grizzled and so long,
Riding o'er mountain and o'er dell,
Rushing through forest and through fell,
As though he were an imp from hell —
Who is it that thus scours away?
'Tis Christopher on Colonsay.
Look! look upon that Tory steed!
With eye and snort that mark his breed;
Shod too is he with hoofs of brass,
That gleam like lightning as they pass,
To tread down every Whig and ass —
Is it a horse or Demon? Say —
'Tis Christopher on Colonsay.
Tremble, ye traitors, fight or fly;
But if ye fight, then look to die.
No weapon can ye wield that e'er
The weight of that dread crutch can bear,
Which those who feel must ever fear.
When question'd, why ye run, then say —
Here's Christopher on Colonsay.
Though Lords and Commons marshall'd stand,
Though Brougham may jeer, or Grey command,
Should little Johnny stop the way,
Or Durham mingle in the fray,
Or Althorpe mount a bull at bay,
They'll have no time to fight or pray —
Here's Christopher on Colousay.
No power can check him or his steed,
A centaur of celestial seed;
Smack through the frighten'd host he flies,
Prostrate each smitten Whigling lies.
They who escape may bless their eyes
That they could scamper from the way
Of Christopher on Colonsay.
Low sprawling in the dust and mire,
And well besmuch't, he leaves the quire.
Io triumphe! on he goes
O'er kicking Lords and prostrate foes;
Graham and Stanley shake their clothes,
And swear they'll never more essay
Dread Christopher on Colonsay.
On! man and steed! On! ride your round
While Radicals or Whigs are found,
Lay on the crutch with heart and hand,
Go, scatter and confound the band,
Aud prove them but a rope of sand,
That rogues may ever run and say —
Here's Christopher en Colonsay.
Shepherd. Never heard I man receet his ain praises wi' sic
an emphasis!
North. You would not have had me mumble such spirited
lines, like an old woman without a tooth in her gums, James?
Shepherd. I could mention an auld man that hasna mony
teeth in his ain gums, though for a' that, his receetation's no
that o' a mummler, Kit. Vanity! vanity! a' is vanity!
North. Vanity is one of the most amiable of the large Family
of Human Frailties.
Shepherd. I never said ye wasna amiable, sir.
North. Nobody at least can justly accuse me of being
Shepherd. Lucifer's a Moses to you, sir, in pride. You're a
singular instance o' pride and vanity — till your time thocht
incompatible — meetin in equal proportions in the same character.
For an hour I've seen you sae vain, that I couldna
help pityin ye — during the neist sae proud, that I couldna
help hatin ye — and yet sae strange a thing is human nature,
that at the end o' the third hour, the only feelings I had for
the anomaly were admiration and love.
North. It is with you as with the rest of mankind, James —
I bring you all round to unite in admiration and love of me at
Shepherd. Heard ye ever the likes o' that, Mr Buller? Look
at the cretur. Vanity in his left ee and pride in his richt! and
yet, it maun be confessed, diffused over the ither features o'
his face something verra delichtfu', and a halo round the head
o' him, as if, instead o' a sinner, he were a saint.
Tickler. I have seldom seen you, James, brighter than you
have been tonight you have felt yourself at home on the
leads — on ground-flats I have seen you somewhat dullish — like
a luminary in damp.
Shepherd. There's naething in this warld I like waur than
to be drawn out by a sumph.
Buller. I beg pardon, sir ?
Tickler. Or sumphess.
Shepherd. The she's ill,¹ but no sae ill's the he. Dinna you
agree wi' me, Mr Buller?
Buller. In what?
Shepherd. In thinkin the she sumph's no sae ill's the he.
Buller. I hope the he will soon get better — but I am in
outer darkness — pray, what is a sumph?
Shepherd. Anither instance o' that extraordinary ignorance
that no that seldom breaks out unexpectedly in weel-edicated
Englishmen, and seems sae surprising to us on this side o' the
Tweed! But leavin you to construe sumph, I shall simplify
the question, sir, by askin ye just "hoo like ye to be drawn-out
Buller. I very much doubt if I should like it. What is the
nature of that process?
Shepherd. He's in the dark about that limb o' the query too.
The sumph, you see, sir, sits himsel doun richt opposite ye at
denner, and afore you hae had time to cool the first spoonfu'
o' cocky-leeky, or potawto-soup, by blawin upon't, he selecks
ane frae some twa-three dizzen o' topics, that are a' lyin
arranged cut and dry, in separate rows on the floor o' that
lumber-room, his head.
Buller. Good, good — I have you now, Mr Hogg.
Shepherd. And in which he conceives you to take sic an
enthusiastic interest, as to amount on't to the half-mad, whereas
the subjecks are lyin so laigh doun amang the dubs o' obscurest
dirt, that even in your meaner moments you would despise
yoursel for condescending to honour't wi' your contempt.
North. What think you, James, of being pitted?
Shepherd. O bein' what ?
North. Asked to dinner that you may be pitted by your
¹ Ill — that is, insufferable.
host against a cock, fed, clipped out, and heeled to slay you
on the sod.
Shepherd. It's weel kent I never argue nane — therefore I'm
never asked to dinner to be pitted — only to be drawn out.
North. I can spar, and fight a bit too, James — but 'tis
teasing to be tackled to by a Bantam. Onwards he comes sidelong
with his wing down, comb and wattles glowing like fiery
furnace, and picking up straws in his pride of place — then
drawing himself up to his whole extent, he crows to cow your
heart, and without farther ceremony flies at you like a fury to
tear you into pieces. With one cuff you make him spin out
of sight — and if any one hopes to find him, he must look
below the table.
Shepherd. That's makin a short business wi' the bit
North. Or perhaps you have been invited to single combat
with a Dunghill. Sole monarch of all he has been habituated
to survey on the stercoraceous heap, he has come to think
himself invincible — but at the first tussle of
"The sportive fury of the fencer's steel,"
with one insane scraugh he bolts, and hides his head in a
hole in the wall, unashamed of the exposure of his enormous
Shepherd. Poutry should never be pitted wi' ggem.
North. I have known the master of a house entice you to
dinner that he might see a set-to between you and a mastiff.
Shepherd. Surely no wi' the conneevance o' the mistress?
North. The surly brute, with black muzzle and swarthy
eyes, has kept grimly watching you till the cloth be drawn —
arid then curling up his lip to show you his fangs, without
any provocation on your part, began to growl —
Shepherd. Afore the leddies?
North. And then, in spite of your submission, leapt at your
throat, with his paws over your shoulder, with a view to the
Shepherd. What a pictur o' a great big brindled outrageous
Radical, insistin on the separation o' Church and State!
North. It requires some strength, James, I assure you, to
shake off such a monster.
Shepherd. But his bark's waur than his bite.
North. The best way is to seize him with both hands and
throttle him, till his tongue is bitten through and through by
his teeth, his eyes goggled, and he drops. I call that the
argumentum ad canem.
Shepherd. It's conclusive.
North. Or what think you, James, of a pack of young Whig
curs —
Shepherd. Pups.
North. Yelping at you all round the table —
Shepherd. And Christopher North the whupper-in? I pity
the puir pups.
North. I have suffered all that and more, James. Yet perhaps
worse than them all is it, on a three weeks' invitation,
to go, as an especial favour, and to confer an obligation which
will never be forgotten — to meet an ass.
Shepherd. Or a mool.
North. A downright positive ass.
Shepherd. As a' the asses are o' ma acquentance — but I'm
speakin the noo o' our ain native breed, an' aiblins you're
alludin to ane frae foreign pairts — where they grow to a far
greater size — as in Spain.
North. No, James, your continental cuddy coming over to
this country is mostly mute.
Shepherd. Hasna learned the langage.
North. The one I last met — for upwards of four hours —
never for a moment ceased to bray.
Shepherd. And did ye cudgel him sair?
North. I did. But I am bound in candour to confess that
he was little or none the better of it — and for the first time in
my life, I am ashamed to say, I was fairly brayed off the
Shepherd. And the neist day, a' the town wad nae dout be
ringin wi' your defeat.
North. Ichabod! Ichabod! the glory of our conversational
powers was gone for ever, and the victorious donkey kept
braying his way over the Border, communicating tidings of
our discomfiture all over merry England.
Shepherd. Swearin he had swallowed the Thane o' the
Scotch Thrissles at a single chow! — I had a delicat compliment
paid me yestreen, sir. I was asked to soop wi' a family
that said they had inveeted a pairty to meet me just after my
ain mind. And there they were a' sittin on chairs roun' the
room, as I entered, accordin to agreement, wi' my plaid, staff
in haun, and dowg at fit, a great-grandson o' Hectors. What
he thocht I canna say, but I could hae sworn, sir, that they
were sheep. The same large, licht, mild, rather unmeanin
een — the same lang, white smooth faces as the cheviots — and
the same lip-like noses — formin in fact atween the twa but ae
fetur, owerhanging their mouths, without in ony way interferin
wi' the feedin — and then a' at ance the same baa — baa —
baa — maa — maa — maaa; — for rams, and ewes, and wethers, and
gimmers, and hoggs, and lambs, had been a' gathered thegither
frae mony pastures into ae hirsel¹ — a' to do honour to
the Ettrick Shepherd.
Tickler. Not by any means an unoriginal idea.
Shepherd. Were it no a pure maitter o' fack, it micht pass
for wut — for wut is a sayin at ance felt by the auditor to be
baith apt and new — givin rise in his mind to wonder that he
hadna thocht o' sayin't himsel, sorrow that he didna say't, and
generally conviction that to hae said it was ayont his power.
North. James, what is your opinion of the state of public
Shepherd. O, sir! but you was like to be a great national
North. Probably it was, James. Pray, what was it?
Shepherd. The horizon was black indeed — the tempests
were about to break lowse frae their slumbers — and we heard
a mutterin sound as o' the angry sea.
North. I have no sort of doubt of it whatever — but I forget
the particulars.
Shepherd. There were nae particulars — and it was the want
o' them that made it sae awfu' — at least I saw nane deservin
the name o' particulars in the newspapers; a' wore a general
look o' danger — the fear was universal — and therefore I was
justified in sayin, as I did the noo, "O, sir! but you was like
to be a great national calamity!"
North. I devoutly trust, James, the storm's blown over.
Shepherd. Wha can say — wha can say? The stocks fell
doun a' at ance, like quicksiller in a barometer, ever sae
mony degrees — thretty or thereabouts in the twunty-four
¹ Hirsel — flock.
hours — for folk feared a national bankruptcy, and in sic panic
wha wad buy in?
North. The national credit must have received a shock.
But how? Do relieve my anxiety, James.
Shepherd. The greatest pairt o' the poppilation o' the island
— an overwhelmin majority — were on the eve o' emigratin to
America. They had secured their fraucht and passage, and
were only waitin for a change o' wund — as a freen wrote me
frae Portsmouth — to rin through the Needles. What that
meant I knaw not — but that the British navy was hired for
the simmer frae the Admiralty for the purpose aforesaid, I ken
to be a fack — and Sir James Graham fand securities that it
was to mak twa trips. O, sir! but yon was like to be a great
national calamity!
Tickler. The Plague?
Shepherd. Far waur than the Plague — 'cause threatenin to
be mair universal — though, like the Plague, it was in Lunnon
— thank heaven — where it first brak out — THE TAILORS'
North. 'Twas an appalling event — and, like the great earthquake
at Lisbon, was, no doubt, felt all over Europe.
Shepherd. Ay — at the great earthquake o' Lisbon, sir, I've
heard tell that the waters o' Loch Lomond ran sky-high as in
storm — and, at the great Tailor-strike o' Lunnon, I daur to say
that the kilts alang its shores flew up as in whurlwunds, exposing
the hurdies o' a thousan' John Heelandmans.
North. Buller, how picturesque! The Shepherd is the
most poetical of political economists.
Shepherd. For dinna tell me that kilts are ae thing and
breeks anither — they baith alike appertain to the person, and
the same pairt o' the person. A' the causes that affeck the
tredd in breeks, affeck nearly or remotely, immediately or
after a lang lapse o' years, the tredd in kilts — a' the usefu'
arts, and the fine apes too — and a fortiori, them that's at ance
usefu' and fine, and aboon a' tailorin — bein' a' conneckit by
inveesible threeds — ony feck o' which bein' cut or run, or
runkled or ravelled, the rest feel it like a speeder's wab — and
shrink up till the haill commercial system is disordered and
deranged, and the social system too — and the political likewise
— and the moral also — and if sae, hoo can the religious
escape — till the universe itsel seems to be rushin intil ruins,
and it requires nae seer to predick that there is speedily about
to be an end o' a' things — and the heavens and the earth
reduced back by a grand convulsion o' nature to their original
North. Let us hope there may be some little exaggeration

Shepherd. No a grain. Did you no listen to the owerpoorin
eloquence o' the Maisters? I hae been only usin some o'
their langage, subdued doun to Noctes pitch. The een o' a'
Britain, Stultz said, was upon them —
North. "They read their history in a nation's eyes."
Shepherd. And they were a' fu' o' tears! The nation grat
while it glowered —
Buller. And significantly smote its thigh.
Tickler. Methought I met Sir Henry Hardinge¹ in Bond
Street without his coat — arm in arm with a member who had
dispensed with his breeches; in the rear I saw a flaming
patriot, not unlike Lord Nugent, with nothing but his shirt —
"A painted vest Prince Vortigern had on,
Which from a naked Pict his grandsire won."
Shepherd. Haw! haw! haw!
Tickler. Funerals were no more black-jobs.
Shepherd. Gude again.
Tickler. See that chief mourner in red breeches — yellow
vest, with long flapping lappets — and coat bright with the
purple light of love — a superb dress got up by his great--
great-great-grandsire, in honour of the Restoration — and in
the 1834 worn by a disconsolate son, but determined anti--
Trades-Unionist, strong in filial love and patriotism, following,
like the fragment of a weeping rainbow, a Conservative
father to the grave!
Shepherd. What o' dee'd he? What dee'd he o'?
Tickler. Of Tailor-strike.
Shepherd. In the midst o' a great national calamity, hoo
indifferent, alas! grows the heart to individual distress! At
ony other time the thocht o' sic a funeral would hae been
affectin — but noo I can hear o't without a tear.
North. The misery was confined to the metropolis. The
¹ Afterwards Lord Hardinge.
rural districts at least providentially escaped the infection

Shepherd. Yet the complaint was fearsomely contawgious —
and rinnin like wildfire through the streets o' Lunnon.
Tickler. Where first did it break out?
Shepherd. Beneath a sky-licht. It raged awfully in the
attics afore it got doun to the other flats — and howp grew
seik and dee'd on seein and hearin't roarin out o' the wundows
o' the grund-flat.
North. A fine subject for an Epic.
Buller. Better fitted, perhaps, sir, for the drama. Yet the
nation, I fear, has lost its love for the highest and deepest
tragedy — and to rouse it even by such a theme would require
more than the genius of another Shakespeare.
Tickler. The Flints flash fire, and the day of the Dungs
is gone.¹
Shepherd. The rural districts, as you ca' them, Mr North,
haena aye escaped sic a calamity. I weel remember, in
the year wan,² a like visitation in the Forest. It wasna on
sae big a scale — for the boonds wadna admit o' its bein' sae
— but the meesery was nae less — though contrackit within a
narrower circle.
Tickler. Diffused over a wider sphere.
North. When?
Tickler. And how?
Shepherd. The Tailor at Yarrow Ford, without havin shown
ony symptoms o' the phoby the nicht afore, ae morning at sax
o' clock — strack!
North. How dreadful!
Shepherd. You may weel say that, sir. 'Twas just at the
dawn o' the Season o' Tailors, when a' over the Forest there
begins the makin o' new claes and the repairin o' auld —
North. Making — as Bobby says —
"The auld claes look amaist as weel's the new."
Shepherd. The maist critical time o' the haill year.
North. Weel, James?
¹ "The tailors who held out for the advance were honoured with the name
of Flints, while those who continued to work at the former prices were called
Dungs." — American Editor.
² Wan — one. "The year wan" — an ellipsis for the year 1801.
Shepherd. At sax he strack — and by nine it was kent frae
Selkirk to the Grey-Mare's Tail. A' at ance — no ordinar
claes only — but mairrage-shoots and murnins were at a deid
staun. A' the folk in the Forest saw at ance that it was impossible
decently to get either married or buried. For, wad
ye believe't, the mad body was aff ower the hills, and bat¹
Watty o' Ettrick Pen! Of coorse he strack — and in his turn
aff by a short cut to the Lochs, and bat Bauldy o' Bourhope,
wha loupt frae the buird like a puddock, and flang the guse
in the fire, swearin by the shears, as he flourished them round
his head, and then sent them intil the ass-hole, that a' mankind
micht thenceforth gang nakit for him up to the airmpits
in snaw!
North. We are all listening to you, James, with the most
intense interest.
Shepherd. The Three Tailors formed themsels intil a union
— and boond themsels by an aith — the words o' which hae
never transpired — but nae dout they were fearsome; and they
ratified it — it has been said — wi' three draps each o' their ain
bluid, let out wi' the prick o' a needle — no to shue anther
steek gin the Forest were to fa' doun afore them on its knees!
North. Impious!
Shepherd. But the Forest had nae sic intention — and
bauldly stood up again' the Rebellion. Auld Mr Laidlaw — the
faither o' your freens, Watty, George, and James — took the
lead — and there was a gatherin on Mount Benger — the same
farm that, by a wonnerfu' coincidence, I afterwards came to
hauld — at which resolutions were sworn by the Forest no to
yield, while there was breath in its body, though back and
side micht gang bare. I there made ma maiden speech; for
it wasna ma maiden speech — though it passed for such, as
often happens — the ane ye heard, sir — ma first in the Forum.
North. I confess I had my suspicions at the time, James.
I thought I saw the arts of the sophist in those affected hesitations
— and that I frequently heard, breaking through the
skilful pauses, the powers, omnipotent in self-possession, of
the practised orator.
Shepherd. Never was there sic a terrible treeo as them o'
Yarrow Ford, Ettrick Pen, and Bourhope! Three decenter
tailor lads, a week afore, ye micht hae searched for in vain
¹ Bat — bit.
ower the wide warld. The streck changed them into demons.
They cursed, they swore, they drank, they danced, they
focht — first wi' whatever folk happened to fa' in wi' them on
the stravaig — and then, castin out amang theirsels, wi' ane
anither, till they had a' three black een — and siccan noses!
Tickler. 'Tis difficult for an impartial, because unconcerned,
spectator to divine the drift of the different parties in a fight
of three.
Shepherd. They couldna hae divined it theirsels — for there
was nae drift amang them to divine. There they were a' three
loundenin at hap-hazard, and then gaun heid-ower-heels on the
tap o' ane anither, or colleckit in a knot in the glaur; and I
couldna help sayin to Mr Bryden — father o' your favourite
Watty Bryden, to whom ye gied the tortoise-shell mull —
Saw ye ever, sir, a Tredd's-Union like that?"
Tickler. Why not import ?
Shepherd. As they hae dune since in Lunnon frae Germany?
Just because naebody thocht o't. Importin tailors to insure
free tredd!!!
Tickler. And how fared the Forest?
Shepherd. No weel. Some folk began tailorin for theirsels
— but there was a strong prejudice against it — and to them
that made the attempp the result was baith ridiculous and
painfu', and in ae case, indeed, had nearly proved fatal.
Tickler. James, how was that?
Shepherd. Imagine yoursel, Mr Tickler, in a pair o' breeks,
wi' the back pairt afore — the seat o' honour transferred to the
North. Let us all so imagine, Tickler.
Shepherd. They shaped them sae, without bein' able to help
it, for it's a kittle airt cuttin out.
Tickler. But how fatal?
Shepherd. Dandy o' Dryhope, in breeks o' his ain gettin up,
rashly daured to ford the Yarrow — but they grupped him sae
ticht atween the fork, that he could mak nae head gain¹ the
water comin doun gey strang, and he was swoopit aff his feet,
and taen out mair like a bundle o' claes than a man.
Tickler. How?
Shepherd. We listered him like a fish.
North. "Time and the hour run through the roughest day!"
¹ Gain' — against.
Shepherd. And a' things yerthly hae an end. Sae had the
streck. To mak a lang story short — the Forest stood it out
— the tailors gied in — and the Tredd's-Union fell to pieces.
But no before the Season o' Tailors was lang ower, and paint
o' the simmer too—for they didna return to their wark till the
Langest Day. It was years afore the rebels recovered frae
the want o' wage and the waste o' pose;¹ but atween 1804 and
1808, a' three married, and a' three, as you ken, Mr North —
for I hae been direckin mysel to Mr Tickler and Mr Buller —
hae been ever sin' syne weel-behaved and weel-to-do — and I
never see ony o' them without their tellin me to gie you their
compliments, mair especially the tailor o' Yarrow Ford, — for
Watty o' the Pen — him, Mr Buller, that used to be ca'd the
Flyin Tailor o' Ettrick — sometimes fears that Christopher
North hasna got ower yet the beatin he gied him in the
ninety-odd — the year Louis XVI. was guillotined — at hap--
North. He never beat me, Mr Buller.
Boller. From what I have heard of you in your youth, sir,
indeed I can hardly credit it. Pardon my scepticism, Mr
Shepherd. You may be as great a sceptic as you choose —
but Watty bate Kitty a' till sticks.
North. You have most unkindly persisted, Hogg, during
all these forty years, in refusing to take into account my
corns —
Shepherd. Corns or nae corns, Watty bate you a' till sticks.
North. Then I had been fishing all day up to the middle in
the water, with a creel forty pound weight on my back —
Shepherd. Creel or nae creel, Watty bate you a' to sticks.
North. And I had a hole in my heel you might have put
your hand into —
Shepherd. Sound heels or sair heels, Watty bate you a' to
North. And I sprained one of my ankles at the first rise.
Shepherd. Though you had sprained baith, Watty wad hae
bate you a' till sticks.
North. And those accursed corduroys cut me —
Shepherd. Dinna curse the corduroys — for in breeks or out
o' breeks, Watty bate ye a' till sticks.
¹ Pose — a secret hoard of money; savings.
North. I will beat him yet for a —
Shepherd. You shanna be alloo'd to mak sic a fule o' yoursel.
You were ance the best louper I ever saw — excepp ane
— and that ane was wee Watty o' the Pen — the Flyin Tailor
o' Ettrick — and he bate ye a' till sticks.
North. Well — I have done, sir. All people are mad on
some one point or other — and your insanity —
Shepherd. Mad, or no mad, Watty bate you a' till sticks.
North. Peter, let off the gas. (Rising with marked displeasure.)
Shepherd. O man! but that's puir spite! Biddin Peter let
aff the gas, merely 'cause I tauld Mr Buller what a' the Forest
kens to be true, that him the bairns noo ca' the AULD HIRPLIN
HURCHEON, half-a-century sin', at hap-stap-and-loup, bate
Christopher North a' till sticks!
North (with great vehemence). Let off the gas, you stone!
Shepherd. That's pitifu'! Ca'in a man a stone! a man
that has been sae lang too in his service — and that has gien
him nae provocation — for it wasna Peter but me that was
obleeged to keep threepin that Watty o' the Pen — by folk o'
my time o' life never ca'd onything less than the Flying
Tailor o' Ettrick, though by bairns never ca'd onything mair
but the Auld Hirplin Hurcheon, at hap-stap-and-loup — on
fair level mossy grun' — bate him a' till sticks.
North (in a voice of thunder). You son of a sea-gun, let off
the gas.
Shepherd. Passion's aften figurative, and aye forgetfu'. But
I fear he'll be breakin a bluid-veshel — sae I'll remind him o'
the siller bell. Peter has orders never to shaw his neb but at
soon' o' the siller bell. — Sir, you've forgotten the siller bell.
Play tingle — tingle — tingle — ting.
North (ringing the silver bell). Too bad, James. Peter, let
off the gas. [PETER lets off the gas.
Shepherd. Ha! the bleeze o' Morn! Amazin! 'Twas
shortly after sunset when the gas was let on — and noo that
the gas is let aff, lo! shortly after sunrise!
Buller. With us there has been no night.
Shepherd. Yesterday was the Twunty-first o' June — the
Langest Day. We could hae dune without artificial licht —
for the few hours o' midnicht were but a gloamin — and we
could hae seen to read prent.
Buller. A deep dew.
North. As may be seen by the dry lairs in the wet grass of
those cows up and at pasture.
Shepherd. Naebody else stirrin. Look, there's a hare
washin her face like a cat wi' her paw. Eh man! look at
her three leverets, like as mony wee bit bears.
Buller. I had no idea there were so many singing birds so
near the suburbs of a great city.
Shepherd. Hadna ye? In Scotland we ca' that the skreigh
o' day.
North. What has become of the sea?
Shepherd. The sea! somebody has opened the sluice, and
let aff the water. Na — there it's — fasten your een upon you
great green shadow — for that's Inchkeith — and you'll sune
come to discern the sea waverin round it, as if the air grew
glass, and the glass water, while the water widens out intil
the Firth, and the Firth awa intil the Main. Is yon North
Berwick Law or the Bass — or baith — or naither — or a cape o'
cloudland, or a thocht?
North. —
"Under the opening eyelids of the morn."
Shepherd. See! Specks — like black water-flees. The boats
o' the Newheeven fishermen. Their wives are snorin yet wi'
their heads in mutches — but wull sune be risin to fill their
creels. Mr Buller, was you ever in our Embro' Fish-Market?
Buller. No. Where is it, sir?
Shepherd. In the Parliament Hoose.
Buller. In the Parliament House?
Shepherd. Are you daft? Aneath the North Brig.
Buller. You said just now it was in the Parliament House.
Shepherd. Either you or me has been dreamin. But, Mr
North, I'm desperate hungry — are ye no intendin to gie us ony
North (ringing the silver bell). Lo! and behold!
and TAPPYTOORIE, with trays.)
Shepherd. Rows het frae the oven! Wheat scones! Barley
scones! Wat and dry tost! Cookies! Baps! Muffins! Loaves and
fishes! Rizzars! Finnans! Kipper! Speldrins! Herring!
Marmlet! Jeely! Jam! Ham! Lamb! Tongue! Beef
hung! Chickens! Fry! Pigeon pie! Crust and broon
aside the Roon' — but sit ye doun — no — freens, let's staun' —
had up your haun — bless your face — North, gie's a grace. —
(NORTH says grace). Noo let's fa' too — but hooly — hooly —
hooly — what vision this! What vision this! An Apparition
or a Christian Leddy! I ken, I ken her by her curtshy — did
that face no tell her name and her nature. — O deign, Mem, to
sit doun aside the Shepherd. — Pardon me — tak the head o' the
table, ma honoured Mem — and let the Shepherd sit doun aside
you — and may I mak sae bauld as to introduce Mr Buller to
you, Mem? Mr Buller, clear your een — for on the Leads o'
the Lodge, in face o' heaven and the risin sun, I noo introduce
you till MRS GENTLE.
North (starting and looking wildly round). Ha!
Shepherd. She's gane !
North (recovering some of his composure). Too bad, James.
Shepherd. Saw you nocht? Saw naebody ocht?
Onznes. Nothing.
Shepherd. A cretur o' the element! Like a' the ither loveliest
sichts that veesit the een o' us mortals — but the dream
o' a dream! But, thank heaven, a's no unsubstantial in this
warld o' shadows. Were ony o' us to say sae, this breakfast
would gie him the lee! Noo, Gurney,mind hoo ye extend
your short-haun.
Small still Voice. Ay, ay, sir.
Buller "O Gurney! shall I call thee bird, or but a wandering
North. —
"O blessed Bird! the world we pace
Again appears to be
An unsubstantial fiery-place,
That is fit home for Thee!"
(AUGUST 1834.)
Scene I. — The Shepherd's Study, Altrive — The SHEPHERD seated
at Dinner. Time, — Six o' Clock — AMBROSE in waiting.
(Enter, hurriedly, NORTH and TICKLER.)
Shepherd. What for keep ye folk waitin in this way, sirs,
for denner? and it past sax! Sax is a daft-like hour for
denner in the Forest, but I'm aye wullin to humour fules that
happen to be reseedin in ma ain house at hame. Whare were
you — and what hae ye been about? No¹ shavin at least — for
twa sic bairds I dinna remember ha'in witnessed sin' I was in
Wales — towards the close o' the century — and they belanged
to twa he-goats glowerin ower at me frae the ruins o' Dolbaldron
Castle. Tak your chairs — ye Jews. Moses! sit you on
my richt haun — and, Aaron! sit you on my left.
[NORTH and TICKLER sit down as commanded.
North. 'Tis the first time in my life that I have been one
moment behind the hour.
Shepherd. I believe't. For you can regulat your stamack
like a timepiece. It gangs as true's a chronometer — and on
board a ship you could tell by't to a nicety when she would
reach ony particular port. I daursay it's correck the noo by
the sun — but I aye mak Girrzzy bate² the girdle twa-three
minutes afore the chap o' the knock.³
Tickler. Bate the girdle?
Shepherd. Ay, just sae, sir — bate the girdle. I used to hae
a bell hung on the bourtree at the gable-end — the auld Yarrow
kirk-bell — but it got intil its dotage, its tongue had the palsy,
¹ No — not.
² Bate — beat.
³ Chap o' the knock — striking of the clock.
its cheeks were crackit — and pu' the rape as you would, its
vice was as puir's a pan's. Then the lichtnin, that maun hae
had little to do that day, melted it intil the shape o' an airn
icicle, and it grew perfeckly useless — sae I got a drum that
ance belanged to the militia, and for some seasons it diverted
the echoes that used to tak it aff no amiss, whether braced or
itherwise — but it too waxed auld and impotent, and you micht
as weel, for ony music that was in't, hae bate the kitchen--
dresser wi' the lint-beetle — sae I then got a gong sent ower
frae India frae your freen and mine, Dr Gray — God bless him
— and for a lang, deep, hollow, trummlin, sea-like, and thunderous
sound, it bate a' that ever was heard in this kintra —
but it created sic a disturbance far and wide, that, sair again
my wull, I had to shut it up in the garret.
North. Wherefore, James?
Shepherd. In the first place, it was sae like thunner that
folk far aff couldna tell whether it was thunner or no; and
I've kept them yoke their carts in a hurry to carry in their hay
afore it was dry for stacking, fearing a plump. Ae Sunday
the sound keepit a' the folk frae the kirk, and aften they wadna
ventur on the fuirds, in dread o' a sudden spate frae a waterspoot.
I learnt at last to bate it mair gently; but then it was
sae like the sound o' a bill afore he breaks out intil the bellow,
that a' the kye in the forest grew red-wud-mad; sae then I
had to tak to batin the girdle — an idea that was suggested to
me ae day on the swarmin o' a tap-swarm o' a skep o' bees in
the garden — and I find that on a clear day sic as this, when
the atmosphere's no clogged, that it answers as weel's either
the kirk-bell, the drum, or the gong. You would hear't ayont
the knowe, sirs; and wasna't bonny music?
Arcades Ambo. Beautiful exceedingly.
Shepherd. If her I needna name had been at hame, there
would hae been a denner on the table wordier¹ o' my twa maist
esteemed and dearest freens; but I howp wi' sic as we hae —
without her mair immediate yet prospective care — you will
be able to mak a fend.²
North. Bread and cheese would be a feast with the Shepherd.
Shepherd. 'Deed it wad be nae sic thing. It's easy to speak
o' feastin on cheese and breed, and butter and breed — and in
our younger days they were truly a feast on the hill. But
¹ Wordier — worthier.
² Fend — shift.
noo our pallets, if they dinna require coaxin, deserve a goo;¹
and I've seen a barer buird. Mr Awmrose, lift the lids.
[MR AMBROSE smilingly lifts the lids.
North and Tickler (in delighted wonder). Bless us
Shepherd. That's hotch-potch — and that's cocky-leeky — the
twa best soups in natur. Broon soup's moss-water — and
white soup's like scauded milk wi' worms in't. But see, sirs,
hoo the ladle stauns o' itsel in the potch — and I wush Mr
Tickler could see himsel the noo in a glass, curlin up his
nose, wi' his een glistenin, and his mouth waterin, at sicht
and smell o' the leeky. We kilt a lamb the day we got your
letter, sir, and that's a hind-quarter twal-pund wecht. Ayont
it's a beef-stake poy — for Geordy Scougal slauchtered a beast
last market day at Innerleithen — and his meat's aye prime.
Here are three fules — and that ham's nae sham, sae we sall
ca' him Japhet. I needna tell ye yon's a roasted green-guse
frae Crosslee — and neist it mutton-chaps — but the rest's a'
ggem. That's no cat, Tickler — but hare — as you may ken
by her lugs and fud. That wee bit black beastie — I wuss
she mayna be wizened in the rostin — is a water-hen; the twa
aside her are peaseweeps — to the east you may observe a leash
o' grouse — wastwards ho! some wild dyucks — a few pints to
the south a barren pair o' paitricks — and due north a whaup.
North (helping himself to a couple of flappers). —
"O' a' the airts the wund can blaw
I dearly loe the west,
For there the bonny dyuckie lies,
The dyuck that I loe best."
Shepherd. But you maunna be expeckin a second and third
coarse. I hate to hae denner set afore me by instalments;
and, frae my no havin the gift o' prophecy, I've kent dish
efter dish slip through my fingers in a succession o' coorses,
till I had feenally to assuage my hunger on gratins they ca'
parmesan. Sir George Warrenner² will recolleck hoo I pickit
them aff the plate as if I had been famished, yet frae first to
last there had been nae absolute want o' vittals. I kept aye
waitin for the guse; but nae guse o' an edible kind made its
appearance, and I had to dine ower again at sooper in my ain
hottle.³ That's a sawmon.
¹ Goo — provocative.
² I believe that Sir George Warrender presided at a public dinner given to
Hogg in London.
³ Hottle — hotel.
Ambrose. There is somebody at the door, sir.
Shepherd. Let him in. (AMBROSE opens the door, and enter
Clavers, Giraffe, Rover, Guile, and Fang). It's the dowgs.
Gentlemen, be seated.
[The Canine take their seats,
North. "We are seven."
Shepherd. A mystical nummer —
North. The Pleiades.
Tickler. —
"And lend the Lyre of heaven another string."
Shepherd. I ken, Mr Tickler, ye dinna like dowgs. But ye
needna be feared, for nane o' them's got the hydrophoby —
excepp it may be Fang. The cretur's been verra snappish
sin' the barommator reached ninety, and bat a goslin that
began to bark — but though the goslin bat him again, he
hasna yet been heard to quack ony, sae he's no muckle mad.
You're no mad, Fang ?
Fang. Buy — wuy — wuy.
Shepherd. His speech's rather affeckit. He used to say —
bow — wow — wow.
Tickler (sidling away nearer the Shepherd). I don't much
like his looks.
Shepherd. But, dear me! I've forgotten to help you — and
hae been eatin and talkin awa wi' a fu' mouth and trencher,
while baith o' yours is staunin wide open and empty — and I
fear, bein' out a' day, you maun be fent.
Tickler. Say grace, James.
Shepherd. I said it, Timothy, afore I sat doun; and though
you twa wasna in, it included you, for I kept you wadna be
far aff; sae it's a' richt baith in time and place. Fa' tae.
Tickler. If you have been addressing me, my dear sir,
never was there more needless advice. A more delicious
duckling —
North. Than Fatima I never devoured.
Shepherd. O ye rubiawtors! Twa wild dyucks dune to
the verra doups! I intended to hae tasted them mysel — but
the twa thegither wadna hae wechted wi' my whaup.
Tickler. Your whaup?
Shepherd. You a Scotchman and no ken a whaup! O you
gowk! The English ca' t a curly.
Tickler. Oh! a curlew. I have seen it in Bewick.
Shepherd. And never in the muirs? Then ye needna read
Booick. For to be a naturalist you maun begin wi' natur,
and then study her wi' the help o' her chosen sons.
North. After duckling I like leveret.
Shepherd. Sae I see.
Tickler. And I grouse.
Shepherd. Now, sirs, I beseech you, dinna 'peach. It's
three weeks yet till the Twalt, and if Finlay at Selkirk heard
o' our ha'in ggem to denner — and me, too, no ha'in yet taken
out the leesense — I sould be soommoned afore the Exchequer,
and perhaps sent to jail. I'm no feared o' your 'peachin —
but dinna blab — thank heaven, Gurney's no here —
Small Voice. Sir ?
Shepherd. Save us! there he is — cheepin like a mouse in
the closet. Mum — mum — mum. It's miraclous the cretur
bein' here — for when you druv up yestreen there was only
you twa in the fore pairt o' the gig, and Awmrose sittin ahint.
North. 'Twas a dogcart, my dear sir, and Short-hand was
among the pointers.
Shepherd. I wush they had worried him — he haunts every
house I visit like a ghaist.
Tickler. And a troublesome guest he is —
Shepherd. Haunin doun a' our sillinesses to immortality.
But what think ye, sirs, o' thae pecks o' green pease?
North. By the flavour, I know them to be from Cacra Bank.
Shepherd. Never kent I a man o' sic great original genius,
wi' sic a fine delicate taste. They're really sae. John
Grieve kent ye was comin to Altrive, and sent me ower baith
them and thae young potawtoes. You'll be delichted to see
him the morn in Ettrick kirk — for I haena kent him lookin
sae strang and fresh for a dizzen years — oh! there's naething
for ane ony way invalidish like the air o' ane's native hills!
And then sic a season! He's out in the wee gig wi' Wallace,
or the close carriage wi' Big Sam, every day; and on Tuesday,
when he nodded to me wi' a lauch out o' the window, it
did my heart gude to see his face amaist as bricht as it was
the day we three first brak breid thegither in my lodgins,
in the screw-stair-case, as you used to ca't, aneath the North
Brig.¹ Confoun' thae great big starin New Buildings — in
spite o' our freen John Anderson's shop — for they hae soopit
awa Anne Street frae the face o' the earth —
¹ See vol. i. p. 238.
North. But not into oblivion.
Shepherd. Na, na. Mony a spat exists in the memory — in
the regions o' the heart — visible nae mair to man's unregardin
een; but hoo saft, hoo bricht, hoo lown they lie there, a'
ready to rise up at the biddin o' a thocht, and then to sink
waverinly awa back again intil their ain mysterious stillness,
till frae our melancholy fancy they utterly melt into
Tickler. Come, Mr Hogg, do tell us how you got the
Shepherd. It wasna my blame. Last Saturday, that's this
day week, I gaed out to the fishin, and the dowgs gaed wi'
me, for when they're left at hame they keep up siccan a
yowlin that folk passin by micht think Altrive a kennel for
the Duke's jowlers. I paid nae attention to them, but left
them to amuse theirsels — Claverse and Giraffe, that's the twa
grews — Fang, the terrier — and Guile and Rover, collies — at
least they ca' Rover a collie, though he's gotten a cross o'
some outlandish bluid, and he belangs to the young gentleman
at Thirlstane, but he's a great freen o' our Guile's, and
aften pays him a visit.
Tickler. I thought there had been no friendship among
Shepherd. Then you thocht wrang — for they aften loe ane
anither like brithers, especially when they're no like ane
anither, being indeed in that respect just like us men; for nae
twa human beings are mair unlike ither, physically, morally,
and intellectually, than you and me, Mr Tickler, and yet
dinna we loe ane anither like brithers?
Tickler. We do, we do, my dearest Shepherd. Well?
Shepherd. The trouts wadna tak; whup the water as I
wad I couldna get a loup. Flee, worm, mennow, a' useless —
and the water, though laigh, wasna laigh aneuch for guddlin.
Tickler. Guddlin?
Shepherd. Nae mair o' your affeckit ignorance, Mr Tickler.
You think it fashionable to be ignorant o' everything vulgar
folk like me thinks worth knawin, but Mr North's a genteeler
man nor you ony day o' the week, and he kens brawly what's
guddlin; and what's mair, he was ance himsel the best
guddler in the south o' Scotland, if you exceppit Bandy Jock
Gray o' Peebles. He couldna guddle wi' Bandy Jock ony
mair than loup wi' Watty o' the Pen, the Flyin Tailor o'
North (laying down his knife and fork). I'll leap him tomorrow
for love.
Shepherd. Wheesht — wheesht. The morn's the Sabbath.
North. On Monday then — running hop-step-and-leap, or
a running leap, on level ground — back and forward — with or
without the crutch — let him use sticks if he will —
Shepherd. Wheesht — wheesht. Watty's deid.
North. Dead!
Shepherd. And buried. I was at the funeral on Thursday.
The folk are talkin o' pittin up a bit moniment to him — indeed
hae asked me to indite an inscription. I said it should
be as simple as possible — and merely record the chief act o'
North (resuming his knife and fork). Well — fix your day,
and though Tweed should be in flood, I will guddle Bandy
Shepherd. Bandy Jock 'ill guddle nae mair in this warld.
He dee'd o' the rheumatiz on May-day — and the same inscription,
wi' a little variation — leavin out "hop-step-and-jump,"
and inserting "guddlin" — will answer for him that will
answer for Watty o' the Pen.
Tickler. 'Pon honour, my dear sir, I know not guddlin.
Shepherd. In the wast they ca't ginnlin.
Tickler. Whew! I'll ginnle Kit for a pair of ponies.
North (derisively). Ha, ha, ha!
Shepherd. I've seen Bandy Jock dook doun heid and
shouthers, sae that you saw but the doup o' him facin the
sun, aneath a bank, and remain for the better pairt o' five
minutes wi' his mouth and nostrils in the water — hoo he
contrived to breathe I kenna — when he wad draw them out,
wi' his lang carroty hair a' poorin, wi' a trout a fit lang in
ilka haun, and ane aiblins auchteen inches atween his teeth.
Tickler. You belong, I believe, Mr Hogg, to the Royal Company
of Archers?
Shepherd. What connection has that? I do; and I'll shoot
you ony day. Captain Colley ance backed Bandy Jock again'
a famous tame otter o' Squire Lomax's frae Lancashire —
somewhere about Preston — that the Squire aye carried wi'
him in the carriage — a pool bein' made for its accommodation
in the floor wi' air-holes — and. Jock bate the otter by fifteen
pound — though the otter gruppit a sawmon.
Tickler. But, mine host, the game?
Shepherd. Do you no like it? Is't no gude? It surely
canna be stinkin? And yet this het wather's sair compleened
o' by the cyuck, and flees will get intil the Safe. I gie you
my word for't, howsomever, that I saw her carefully wi' a
knife scrapin out the mauks.
Tickler. I see nothing in the shape of maggots in this one.
Shepherd. Nor shall ye in this ane — (forking it) — for I see
that, though I'm in my ain house, I maun tak care o' mysel
wi' you Embro' chaps, or I'll be famished.
Tickler. But, mine host, the game?
Shepherd. That cretur Fang there — him wi' the slicht touch
o' the hydrophoby — is the gleggest at a grup o' ggem sittin,
in a' the Forest. As for Rover, he has the nose o' a
Spanish pinter, and draws and backs as if he had been regularly
brak in by a dowg-breaker, wi' a dowg-whup on the
muirs. On my way up the Yarrow — me wi' my fishin-rod in
my haun, no put up, and no unlike the Crutch, only without
the cross — Rover begins snokin and twinin himsel in a
serpentine style, that aye denotes a strang scent — wi' his
fanlike tail whaffin — and Fang close at his heels — when Fang
pounces on what I thocht micht pruve but a tuft o' heather,
or perhaps a mowdiewarp — but he kent better — for in troth
it was the Auld Cock — and then whurr — whurr — whurr — a
covey o' what seemed no far short o' half a hunder — for they
broon'd the lift; and in the impetus o' the moment, wi' the
sudden inspiration o' an improveesistreecky, I let fly the rod
amang them as if it had been a rung.¹ It wounded many, but
knocked doun but three — and that's them, or at least was
them — for I noo see but ane — Tickler ha'in taen to his share
the Auld Cock.
North. And the ducklings?
Shepherd. Ca' them flappers. A maist ridiculous Ack o'
Parliament has tried to mak them ggem — though it's weel
kent that tame dyucks and wild dyucks are a' ae breed —
but a thousand Acks o' Parliament 'ill never gar me consider
them ggem, or treat them as ggem, ony main than if you were
¹ Rung — walking-staff.
to turn out a score o' how-towdies on the heather, and ca'
them ggem.
Tickler. Pheasants.
Shepherd. I ken naethin about feesants, excepp that they're
no worth eatin.
North. You are wrong there, James. The Duke sends me
annually half-a-dozen, and they eat like Birds of Paradise.
Shepherd. Even the hen's no half sae gude's a hen. But
for the flappers. A' the five dowgs fand theirsels a' at ance
in amang a brood on a green level marshy spat, where escape
was impossible for puir beasts that couldna yet flee — and therefore
are ca'd flappers. It wad hae been vain for me to try to
ca' the dowgs aff — sae I cried them on — and you never saw
sic murder. The auld drake and dyuck keept circling round
— quack - quack - quacking out o' shot in the sky — and I
pitied the puir pawrents lookin doun on the death o' their promising
progeny. By gude luck I had on the sawmon-creel —
and lookin round about, I crammed in a' the ten — doun wi'
the lid — and awa alang the holms o' Yarrow as if I was
seleckin a stream for beginnin to try the fishin — when, wha
sud I meet but ane o' his Grace's keepers! Afore I kept
whare I was, he put his haun aneath the basket, and tried to
gie't a hoise — but providentially he never keekit intil the
hole — and tellin him I had had grand trootin — but maun be
aff; for that a lassie had been sent to tell me that twa gentlemen
fine Embro' had come out to Altrive — I wished him gude
day, and took the fuird. But my heart was loupin, and I
felt as if I was gaun to fent. A sook o' Glenlivet, however,
set me a' richt — and we shall hae the lave to sooper. I howp
poosie's tasty, sir?
North. I have rarely ate a sweeter and richer leveret.
Shepherd. I'll thank ye, sir, to ca' the cretur by her richt
name — the name she gaed by, to my knowledge, for mony
years — a Hare. She hasna been a leveret sin' the King's
visit to Scotland. I howp you dinna find her teuch?¹
North. Not yet.
Shepherd. You maun lay your account wi' her legs bein'
harder wark than her main body and wings. I'm glad to see
Girrzzy hasna spared the stuffin — and you needna hain the
jeel,² for there's twa dizzen pats o' new, red, black, and white,
¹ Teuch — tough.
² Hain the jeel — be sparing of the jelly.
in that closet, wi' their mouths cosily covered wi' pages o'
some auld lowse Nummers o' Blackwood's Magazine — the feck
o' them belangin to twa articles, entitled, "Streams" and
North (wincing). But to the story of the game.
Shepherd. The witch was sittin in her ain kale-yaird — the
preceese house I dinna choose to mention — when Giraffe, in
louping ower the dyke, louped ower her, and she gied a spang
intil the road, turnin round her fud within a yard o' Clavers —
and then sic a brassle a' three thegither up the brae! And
then back again — in a hairy whirlwind — twa miles in less
than ae minute. She made for the mouth o' the siver,¹ but
Rover, wha had happened to be examining it, in his inquisitive
way, and kent naething o' the coorse, was comin out just
as she was gaup in, an' atween the twa there ensued, unseen
in the siver, a desperate battle. Weel dune witch — weel
dune warlock — and at ae time I feared frae his yelpin and
yowlin that Rover was gettin the warst o't, and micht loss his
life. Auld poosies cuff sair wi' their forepaws — and theirs is
a wicked bite. But the outlandish wolfiness in Rover brak
forth in extremity, and he cam rushin out o' the siver wi' her
in his mouth, shakin her savagely, as if she had been but a
ratten, and I had to choke him aff. Forbye thrapplin her, he
had bit intil the jugular — and she lost sae meikle bluid, that
you hae eaten her the noo roasted, instead o' her made intil
soup. She wad hae been the tenderer o' anther fortnicht
o' this het wather — wi' the glass at 92 in the shade o' the
Safe in the Larder — yet you seem to be gettin on —
North. Pretty well — were it not that a sinew — like a length
of catgut — from the old dame's left hip has got so entangled
among my tusks that —
Shepherd. You are speakin sae through your teeth as no to
be verra intelligible. Let me cut the sinny wi' my knife.
[The Shepherd operates with much surgical dexterity.
North. Thank you, James. I shall eat no more of the
leveret now — but take it minced at supper.
Shepherd. Minshed! ma faith, you've minshed it wi' a vengeance.
She's a skeleton noo, and nae mair — and let's send
her in as a curiosity in a glass-case to James Wilson — to meet
him on his return frae the Grand Scientific Expedition o' thae
¹ Siver — a covered drain.
fearless feelosophers into the remotest regions o' Sutherland, to
ascertain whether par be par, or o' the seed o' sawmon. We'll
swear that we fand it imbedded in a solid rock, and it'ill
pass for the young o' some specie o' antediluvian yelephant.
Tickler. Clap the skin upon it — and tell James that we all
three saw it jump out of the heart of the trap.
Shepherd. A queer idea. Awmrose, bid Girrzzy gie ye the
hare-skin o' that auld hare that's noo eaten intil a skeleton by
Mr North.
[Exit AMBROSE, and enters with the hare-skin.
North. Allow me to put it on. [NORTH seems much at a loss.
Shepherd. Hoot! man. The skin's inside out! There —
the lugs fit nicely — (the SHEPHERD adroitly re-furs Puss) — and
the head—but there's a sair fa'in aff everywhere else — and
noo that it's on — this unreal mockery is mair shockin than
the skeleton. Tak it awa — tak it awa, Mr Awmrose — I canna
thole to look at it.
North. Stop, Ambrose. Give it me a moment.
[NORTH lends it a legerdemain touch after the style of the
late celebrated Othello Devaynes of Liverpool, and the
witch, in point of activity, apparently not one whit the worse
of having been eaten, jumps out of the window.
Omnes. Halloo! halloo! halloo!
[Clavers, Giraffe, Rover, Guile, and Fang, spring from their
seats, and evanish — Fang clearing the sill as clean as a
Tickler. Now, Ambrose, down with the window — for, though
my nose is none of the most fastidious, we have really had in
every way quite enough of dogs.
Scene II. — The Arbour in the Garden — MR AMBROSE, assisted
by GIRRZZY, arranging the Table and Seats.
North. I have read, my dear Shepherd, of the melancholy
life you have long led at Altrive, in a cold, damp, comfortless,
empty house, hidden by gloomy hills from the sun, and with
hardly enough of heaven's light to warm the lichens on the
weather-stained walls.¹
Shepherd. Some that said sae meant weel, as you ken, sir,
but were sair mistaen — ithers meant ill, and merely lee'd;
¹ See vol. iii. p. 178.
but whatever I may owe to my fellow-creturs — and among
them, mair especially to my kintramen — wicked should I be
were I no humbly gratefu' to Heaven for a' its mercies. O'
this warld's gear I hae but little — but I hae a mine o' contentment
within my ain breast, that's mair productive than a' the
mines o' Potosi and Peru. There hae been times when I had
to draw deep on the materials there, but I rejoiced to find
that they were inexhaustible —
North. —
—"Transcending in their worth
The gems of India, nature's rarest birth."
Shepherd. True that I'm gettin raither auld — but I'm no
frichtened at that thocht — only sometimes pensy about them
that I shall ae day hae to leave behint me in a warld where
my voice will be mute. But what's singular to my case in
that? You needna look at me, my dear sir, wi' a wat ee — for
ma ain are dry — and for ae tear I shed on wee Jamie's head
I shower doun ten thousand smiles. The holiest affections o'
natur, sir, as weel baith you and Mr Tickler kens, may grow
into habits. Noo, it's no a rnaitter o' prudence wi' me — nor
yet o' feelosophy — for I hae little o' either — but it's a duty o'
religion wi' me, sirs, to encourage a cheerfu' disposition
throughout a' ordinar hours, and in a' the mair serious and
solemn, which like angel-visits are neither short nor far atween,
hope, faith, and resignation — knowing that in His hands are
the issues of life and death.
North (cheerfully). THE WIFE AND WEANS.
Tickler (with a glowing countenance). God bless them all.
Shepherd (laughing faintly). They'll be tauld o' this toast.
They're a' happy the noo in Embro' — perhaps takin a walk on
the Calton Hill — na, they'll be drinkin tea wi' that excellent
man, Dr Crichton, in Stockbrig. You ken him, sir?
North. I do, my dear James, and he is an excellent man —
and knows well his profession. Perhaps we had better be
drinking tea too.
Shepherd. Sae I think we had. I see Mr Awmrose walkin
amang the flowers, and pu'in a posy. I'll cry till him. Mr
Awmrose, tak awa a' thir things, and bring the tea-tray.
North. Stop — don't disturb Love among the roses.
Tickler. Nor yet has Molly put the kettle on.
Shepherd. Weel — weel — we can wait for an hour or twa —
but I see Mysie milkin the kye — wull ye hae a drink o' milk
frae the pail?
Tickler. New milk sits ill on old porter.
North. I shall take a bowl before going to bed.
Shepherd. No you. Gin it were placed on a chair at the
bedside, you micht skim aff some o' the ream — but nane o' the
milk wad wat your whuskers, (safe us, what'n a baird!) and
there wad be a midnicht feast for the rattens.
Tickler. What! are you infested with rats?
Shepherd. Sair. We hae the common house-rat — and the
water-rat — and the last o' the Norways. Except theirsels
there's nae Norways in the Forest — perhaps in a' Scotland.
Tickler. I request to have Fang for my bedfellow.
Shepherd. What? and him wi' a touch o' the phoby?
Tickler. Well, then, — Clavers or Giraffe.
Shepherd. The grews? You're welcome to them baith — but,
mind you, dinna meddle wi' them when they loop up on the
tester — for grews that are growin grey about the muzzle are
gey surly, I micht say savage, in their slumbers — and I ken
this, that gin you offer to shove Clavers aff you, he'll no
content himsel wi' a growl — sae tak tent, afore you try to
gather up your feet, to row yoursel weel up in the claes — for
he can bite through three ply o' blankets.
Tickler. I shall get the sofa brought down here, and sleep
in the arbour.
Shepherd. The arbour's a circle o' five feet in diameter —
and you sax feet five inches lang even yet — I remember you
nearer seven — and you should hae considered, afore speakin
o' the sofa, that your head is noo just touchin the wicker-wark
o' the croon o' the bower, and your feet on the gravel walk in
front o' the door. The sofa itsel's no aboon five feet and a
half, and the best bed's no lang aneuch — but Girrzzy had the
sense to tak out the fit-brodd — only mind no to ding doun the
wa' by streekin yoursel out in a dream at the dead o' nicht.
North. "The dowie holms o' Yarrow!"
Shepherd. In theirsels they're no dowie — but as cheerfu' as
ony ever sang ower by the laverock — and mony a lintie is
heard liltin merrily in the broom. But Poetry and Passion
changed their character at their ain wild wull — tauld the silver
Yarrow to rin red wi' lovers' bluid — and ilka swellin turf, fit
for the Fairies' play, to look like a grave where a human
flower was buried! Sic power has genie transfigurin a' nature
in its grief!
North. Write you no songs now, James?
Shepherd. Nane! Isna five hunder or mair sangs aneuch? I
shanna say ony o' mine's are as gude as some sax or aucht o'
Burns's — for about that number o' Robbie's are o' inimitable
perfection. It was heaven's wull that in them he should
transcend a' the minnesingers o' this warld. But they're too
perfeckly beautifu' to be envied by mortal man — therefore let
his memory in them be hallowed for evermair.
North. A noble sentiment.
Shepherd. At least a natural ane, and flowin frae a heart
elevated at ance and purified by the sangs o' ane, let us trust,
noo a seraph.
North. Peace to the soul of the Poet.
Shepherd. Peace and glory that fadeth not away! His sins
were a' born o' his body — that is dust — and if they tainted his
immortal soul — and oh! wae's me! mournfully and mysteriously
I fear that sair did they sae — what's the mornin-dew
or the well on the mountain to what has washed out a' thae
stains, and made it purer noo than even the innocent daisy
that on this earth — ay, even when toilin at his wark at ance
like a slave and a king — his kindled heart changed into a
flower o' heaven!
North. I wish Allan Cunningham were with us.
Shepherd. And sae maist fervently do I.
Tickler. And I.
North. Some of Allan's songs, too, James, will not die.
Shepherd. Mony a bonny thing dees — some o' them, as it
would seem, o' theirsels, without onything hurtin them, and
as if even gracious Nature, though loth, consented to allow
them to fade awa into forgetfulness; and that will happen, I
fear, to no a few o' baith his breathins and mine — but that
ithers will surveeve, even though Time should try to ding
them doun wi' his heel into the yird, as sure am I as that the
nicht sky shall never lose a single star till the mornin o' the
Day o' Doom.
North. Ramsay, Fergusson, Bruce, Burns, Hogg, Cunningham

Shepherd. Pollok.
North. Ay, Pollok — a gifted spirit. All born "in huts
where poor men lie." Lift up, O Scotland! all thy hills to
heaven! Let loose thy cataracts from all thy cliffs! Let dash
all thy sea-lochs flowing and ebbing from thy heart — and in
encircling thunder let the multitude of thy isles rejoice!
Shepherd. At this hour, sae sweet and solemn, my filial love
prays for the eternity o' a' images o' peace. Pure be the sunshine
as the snaw on the bonny breist o' Scotland; and may
the ages, as they roll alang, multiply the number o' her
honoured graves! Still may she be the land o' freedom, and
genius, and virtue, and religion! — And see, sir, hoo the evening
sun is bathing a' the serene circle o' thae hills in a mair
verdant licht — for there's a communion between the heart o'
Nature and the hearts o' her worshippers, and if you want her
face to look beautifu', you have but to let rise within you a
gentle feeling or a noble thocht.
Tickler. I hear you, my dear Shepherd, even with my deaf
ear just as I hear music with it still — though along the
streets mail-coaches, which I suppose are rattling, seem going
at the rate of twelve miles an hour, even over the unmacadamised
causeway, as noiselessly as if they were hearses moving
slowly upon snow.
Shepherd. Nae man need be ashamed o' sic a compliment as
that — and oh! sir, but I'm happy to hae you at last sittin
aside me in the arbour.
North. I think, my dear sir, you used the term minnesinger,
Are you a German as well as a Greek scholar?
Shepherd. Much about it. I hae glanced ower Goth¹ in the
original — I mean his Fast — and read a' the English and what
not translations o' him, baith in verse and prose — and o' the
haill tot, I like far best Mr Hayward's prose version. Yon's
a poem!
North. I am no great German scholar myself, James — but
the language is gradually lightening up before my eyes
Shepherd. Like the Mare Ignotum before the een o' a navigator
in a ship sailin intil the dawn.
North. Good again. I would give the world my idea of
Faust, were it not that about Goethe the world is mad.
Shepherd. The mair reason to set her richt — to bring her
back to her senses. She's no in a state o' idiocy? That's
¹ Goethe.
North. Goethe's idolators — mind ye, I exclude Thomas
Carlyle and Hayward, and all minds of that order and stamp
— are of course not Christians, and use a heathenish lingo
worse than the unknown tongue.
Shepherd. There's nae harm in ony unknown tongue — sic
as Tam Stoddart's — but nae punishment's ower severe for
them that swear they're respeckin their mither's, a' the while
they're murderin't — and flout in your een a wab o' words, like
gaudy patchwark shued for the bottom o' an easy arm-chair
by an auld wife.
North. It is declared by all great and true German scholars,
that the poem of Faust in execution is as perfect as in conception
magnificent, and that Goethe has brought to bear on that
wonderful work not only all the creative energy of a rare genius,
and all the soul-searching wisdom of a high philosophy, but
likewise all the skill of a consummate artist, and all possible
knowledge and power over his native speech. His was the
unconfined inspiration from above, that involuntarily moves
harmonious numbers; and his the regulated enthusiasm from
below, that enables the poet to interfuse with the forms of earth
the fire of heaven.
Shepherd. A noble panegyric.
North. Not pronounced by me, but by the voice of Europe.
Shepherd. But ye haena borrowed the words?
North. Not that I know of — and they are too feeble for
Faust. To show such a work an English Poem would require
— whom? Not twenty boys — however clever, or better than
clever — but one man of mature mind, and that mind of the
highest order — a mind that "with sweepy sway" could travel
through the shadowy into the illimitable — and distinguish and
command the phantoms of beauty and of grandeur rising up
from the "unapparent deep."
Shepherd. Micht Byron?
North. No.
Shepherd. Shelley?
North. No — imperfectly, and but in part.
Shepherd. Wordsworth?
North. No — no — no. Wordsworth's world is not Goethe's
world: the Wordsworthian star, like that of Jove itself, "so
beautiful and large," is not like the star Goethe. Both are the
brightest of the bright; but the breath of peace envelopes the
one, with "an ampler ether, a diviner air" — at its height, the
other often looks troubled, and seems to reel in its sphere,
with a lurid but still celestial light.
Shepherd. Puir, puir lassie!
North. Ay, James, had Ophelia been in her place, she would
have been Margaret.
Shepherd. And Hamlet Fowst?
North. Nay; in comparison with that Prince of the Melancholious,
Faust is little better than a fantastic quack-doctor.
Shepherd. Are ye no unsaying a' you've said — for isna he
Getty's hero ?
North. I said "in comparison." That comparisons are often
odious, I know — but then only when made in a spirit of detraction
from what shining by itself is glorious; the idolators of
Goethe set him above Shakespeare — not by declaration of
faith — for they durst not — but virtually and insidiously — for
they either name not the Swan of Avon, or let him sail away
down the river of life, with some impatient flourish about the
beauty of his plumage, and then falling on their foolish faces
before Faust, break out into worship in the gabble of the unknown
tongue. Shakespeare!
"Creation's heir! the world — the world is thine."
Shepherd. There's a talk in Mr Hayward's notes o' the
hidden meanin o' muckle or the maist o' Fowst; but for my
ain pairt I hae nae misgivin about either the general scope and
tendency o' the work, or the signification o' ony o' its details.
It's a' as clear's mud.
North. Mr Hayward is too rational a man — I use the epithet
in its best sense — to believe that a great Poet would purposely
wrap up profound meanings in mysterious allusions, to be
guessed at in vain by the present purblind race, but to be deciphered
and solved by a wiser generation not yet in embryo
in the womb of time. What Goethe in his old age may have
said or done, all who admired the great Poet in his perfect
prime should forgive or forget; and vast though be the Edifice,
the architect planned not "windows that exclude the light,
and passages that lead to nothing." Deep the Gothic niches,
and gloomy the long-withdrawing galleries, and dismally on
their hinges grate some of the doors, and difficult may they
be to open; — but self-fed lamps of "naphtha and asphaltic
yielding light" are pendent from roofs "by their own weight
immovable and steadfast," and though he who wanders there
will meet with ghosts, and witches, and misbegotten hellcats,
and imps, and fiends, and the devil himself, yet, without muttering
Ave Maria or Paternoster, let him not fear but that, with
no other guide or guardian but his own conscience, he will be
able to find his way out into the open light of day, and more
blessedly beautiful because of all those glimmering and shapeless
terrors mingled with radiant tendernesses ruefully wading
through a perplexing mist of tears, he will again behold high
overhead the not unapproachable peace of heaven, which
seems then descending half-way to meet the holy seeking to
soar homewards on a spirit's wings.
Shepherd. Are you hearkenin till the sage, Mr Tickler?
Tickler. I hear a murmur as of a hive of bees.
Shepherd. Sound without sense — but pleasant withal, for sake
o' the indefinite and vague hum o' happiness o' that countless.
nation a' convenin and careerin roun' their queen.
North. Articles have been sent to me on Goethe, chiefly on
the Faust — some not without talent — but all, except one, leaving
on my mind the unpleasant impression of their having been
written by prigs.
Shepherd. What's a prig?
North. You might as well ask what's a sumph. There are
nuisances in this sublunary world, almost as undefinable as
unendurable, and to no class of them ought the eye of the
literary police to be more rigorously directed than to that of
prigs. They greatly infest our periodical literature, and are
getting bolder and bolder every day. For their sakes should
be revived the picturesque exposure of the pillory, and the
grotesque imprisonment of the stocks.
Shepherd. Try the pump.
North. 'Twould be a pity, after Pindar's panegyric, so to
use the element of water — nor could I find it in my heart,
James, looking at his head and handle, so to humiliate the
Shepherd. Oh, sir, but I would like fine to see a fule tarred
and feathered — for though my imagination's no that unveevid,
and can shape to itsel maist absurd and amusin sichts, it has
never been able to satisfy my mind wi' an adequate representation
o' the first start frae the barrel o' an enormous human
blockhead, changed intil a bird — nae wings, nae tail, neither
a cock nor a guse, but an undescribable leevin and loupin
lump o' feathers frae Freezland, in fear, pain, and shamefacedness,
uttering strange screechs and scraughs, as down alang
lang lanes o' hootin spectators, the demented phenomenon, aye
keepin to the gutter, and aften rinnin foul o' the lampposts,
faster far than a cur wi' a kettle to his tail scours squares and
streets o' cities, and then terrifyin the natives o' the kintra,
bent on suicide, as if he were a drove o' swine possessed by a
legion o' deevils, rushes intil the sea.
Tickler. The Atlantic Ocean. I admire the Americans for
the ingenious and humane invention.
Shepherd. Yet they're no sae original in their poetry as
micht hae been expected, and predicted, frae their adoption o'
sic a punishment.
North. Prigs are of opinion that the present age has not
eyes to see into the heart of Goethe's poetry, which will lie
hidden in its mysteries for a thousand years. Nay, 'tis pitiable
to hear such cant even from critics of considerable and not
undeserved reputation, who, at the same time, would pucker up
the lines at the corner of their mouths and eyes —
Shepherd. Crawfeet.
North. — were you to question their clear and full comprehension
of the character and condition of Macbeth, Othello,
Hamlet and Lear. The worthy, weak, well-meaning, commonplace,
not ill-fed, and decently-dressed European and American
publics and republics must wait for a few centuries before
they can hope to gain sight of more than some glimmerings
of the glory enshrined in the genius of a certain German charlatan,
known by the name of Goethe, who used to strut about
in his prime and in his decay all bedizened with gaudy gew--
gaws, given him by the prince of a petty principality, to mark
his admiration of the manager of a provincial theatre, whom
the Dog of Montargis drove from his box into private life —
though a real living flesh-and-blood dog — a Newfoundlander
or St Bernardine, as humane as sagacious — while the jealous
and jewelled bard's own canine fancy was in comparison a
cross-bred-cur and a mangy mongrel, whom Charlie Westropp
of the Westminster pit would have despised, and his famous
Billy the rat-killer worried till he could not have been brought
in time to the scratch, pathless he were the Dog of Hell!
Tickler. Court and theatre of Weimar!
Shepherd. Ma heid.'s a' in confusion — and what is your real
judgment o' Getty, as you ca' him, is a'thegither ayont ma
North. Of all schools of poetry and criticism, James, the
most contemptible is the Oracular.
Shepherd. That's just what I was gaun to say. Naebody
can wi' truth say that I hae a bad temper, though it's sometimes
rather het and short —
Tickler. Like gingerbread not yet cool from the oven.
Shepherd. — but the instant I discover that the owthor
o' ony poem that I may happen to be tryin to peruse, is either
takin pains to conceal his meanin or his want o' meanin — and
the first is the warst, for weakness is naething to wickedness
— than I find ma face growin red, and a chokin in ma throat,
as if I were threatened wi' a stroke o' the apoplex, and, risin
in a passion, I dash the half-witted or deceptious cretur's
abortive concern wi' sic a daud on the floor, that I've kept it
stot up again on till the table, and upset the jug.
Tickler. Hoo! hoo! hoo! My dear James, you're first-rate
this evening.
Shepherd. If I werena, I wad hae a queer look in sic company
— for a' Lunnon couldna produce three sic first-rate
fallows as noo, unknawn to the haill warld, are sittin in the
Shepherd's Bower in the heart o' the Forest! What's that
stirrin? Gurney ahint the honeysuckles! I wush he was
deid. But he's no ane o' your folk that dee. He'll see us a'
out, sirs, and then he'll publish the owtobiography o' a' Us
Three, first piecemeal in Maga, and then ilka ane by itsel, in
three vols. crown octavo, gettin a ransom¹ for the copyrichts.
North. The greatest sinner of the oracular school was
Shelley — because the only true poet. True poets admire his
genius, but, in spite of love and pity for the dead, they disdain
the voluntary darkness in which he perversely dallied
with things of light that should never have been so enshrouded,
and according to the command and law of nature should have
been wooed, won, wedded, and enjoyed in the face of heaven.
Shepherd. I consider mysel a man o' mair than ordinar
genie, and of about an average understaunin; and ha'in paid
sic attention to the principles o' poetry laid in the natur o'
¹ Ransom — an extravagant price.
things, as ane canna weel avoid doin wha engages with life--
warm and life-deep and life-lang luve in the practice o' the
maist heavenly delichtfu' o' a' the divine arts, I canna bring
mysel to accuse mysel o' anything rash nor unreasonable-like
in declarin that to be dounricht drivellin nonsense, which,
though expressed in words, and printed in gude teep, and on
gude paper, in a byuck, either bund or in buirds, by day or
by nicht, by coal, cawnle, lamp, or sunlicht, continues to lie
afore ma een in shoals o' unintelligible syllables o' which a'
you can safely assert is, that they seem as if they belanged,
however remotely, in some way or ither, to the English tongue.
North. Poor Shelley would turn on his face in his coffin
Shepherd. Oh! remember — remember, sir, that his drowned
body was burnt on the sea-shore!
North. I had forgot it.
"Custom lies upon us with a weight
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as death."
Buried in the grave! In the Christian world so disposed is
the dust of the disembodied spirit, and I dreamed not of the
dismal smoke of Shelley's funeral pyre.
Shepherd. But what was you gaun to say?
North. That the worst dishonour done to his memory is the
admiration in which his genius is held by feebles, and fribbles,
and coxcombs, and cockneys.
Tickler. And prigs.
Shepherd. And sumphs.
North. Their imitations of their oracle — who did indeed
often utter glorious responses from a cloudy shrine all at once,
and not transiently, illuminated from within by irrepressible
native light — are better nonsense-verses than I ever knew
written by men of wit for a wager. For unconscious folly in
its own peculiar walk can far surpass the wildest extravagance
of wit — perfect no-meaning can be perpetrated only by a
natural numbskull, and is beyond the reach of art.
Shepherd. Leigh Hunt truly loved Shelley.
North. And Shelley truly loved Leigh Hunt. Their friendship
was honourable to both, for it was as disinterested as sincere;
and I hope Gurney will let a certain person in the City
understand that I treat his offer of a reviewal of Mr Hunt's
London Journal with disdain. If he has anything to say
against Us or against that gentleman, either conjunctly or
severally, let him out with it in some other channel, and I
promise him a touch and a taste of the Crutch. He talks to
me of Maga's desertion of principle; but if he were a Christian
— nay, a man — his heart and head too would tell him that
the Animosities are mortal, but the Humanities live for ever —
and that Leigh Hunt has more talent in his little finger than
the puling prig, who has taken upon himself to lecture Christopher
North in a scrawl crawling with forgotten falsehoods.
Mr Hunt's London Journal, my dear James, is not only beyond
all comparison, but out of all sight, the most entertaining
and instructive of all the cheap periodicals (the nature of its
plan and execution prevents it from all rivalry with the Penny
Magazine edited by my amiable, ingenious, and honourable
friend, Charles Knight); and when laid, as it duly is once
a-week, on my breakfast-table, it lies there — but is not
permitted to lie long like a spot of sunshine dazzling the
Shepherd. I gied vent to what shall ever seem to me to be
a truly Christian sentiment, at the last Noctes. It was something
to this effect — that, for my pairt, I desired naething sae
earnestly as to see the haill warld shaking hauns.—Hollo!
hollo! hollo! — Rover! Rover! Rover! — Fang! Fang!
Fang! — Lend me the Crutch, sir — lend me the Crutch! For
if there be na the twa sticks broken intil the garden, and
scamperin through the second crap o' green pease! O! the
marrowfats! — the marrowfats are a' ruined —
Tickler. —
"Like ocean-weeds heap'd on the surf-beaten shore,"
[The SHEPHERD, armed with NORTH'S crutch, TICKLER with
his gold-headed cane, and MYSIE with a rung, attack
the stirs, and drive them out of the garden of Altrive.
Shepherd. Camstrairy¹ deevils!
North. I could have thought them red deer.
Shepherd. And sae they are. I gied three pound the piece
for them at St Boswell's, and they've dune mair mischief in a
fortnicht about the place, than thrice that soum would repair.
Ane o' them, only yesterday, ate twa pair o' wurset stockins
aff the hedge; and I shouldna hae cared sae muckle about
¹ Camstrairy — riotous.
that, hadna the ither, at the same time, devoored a pair o'
North. Such accidents will happen in the best-regulated
families. But we must not allow this sally of the sticks to
put an end to our literary conversation.
Shepherd (rubbing his face with his small red pocket-handkerchief).
Hech! I'm a' sweatin.
Tickler. Goethe! Faust! Give me Pope and any one of
his epistles.
"Search then the ruling passion; there alone
The wild are constant, and the cunning known;
The fool consistent, and the false sincere,
Priests, princes, women, all consistent here!
This clue once found, unravels all the rest,
The prospect clears, and phantom stands confest.
And you, great Cobham! to the latest breath
Shall feel your ruling passion strong in death.
Such in those moments as in all the past —
'Oh! save my country, heaven !' shall be your last."¹
What truth, force, conciseness, correctness, grace, elegance,
and harmony! But Pope was no poet.
North. The passage is worthy of admiration, and is a fair
specimen of the best style of the Nightingale of Twickenham.
I suspect, Mr Tickler, you have misquoted him — if not, "consistent"
should not have been repeated.² Pray, is it quite
correct to say that "a clue unravels?" If it be — yet "the
prospect clears" seems to me an image that has no connection
with a labyrinth and a clue. I shall not quarrel with
Wharton — but he is somewhat abruptly introduced — and since
"he stands confessed," will you have the goodness — from
Pope — to tell us what really was his character?
Tickler. Poo! verbal hypercriticism is my contempt, sir.
North. Well, then, let us dissect the doctrine. The idea
here intended to be inculcated is, that the only way of understanding
the character of any man is to discover his Ruling
Passion, and that this will then serve as a key to explain all
the peculiarities which have arisen under its influence.
¹ From Pope's Moral Essays, Epistle First.
² Tickler has misquoted him. Pope's line is —
"Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here."
Tickler. Just so.
Shepherd. Preceesely.
North Now, Mr Hogg, that the strong influence of any
strong principle will extend itself through the mind, and discover
itself in many unexpected results, is undoubted; and it
is one important fact which has to be borne in mind, in the
philosophy of human nature.
Shepherd. That's grand-soundin language, the feelosophy o'
human natur.
North. But it is a very small part of that philosophy,
James; and when it is represented to us that the consideration
of such a passion is to enable us to understand human
character —
Shepherd. And a' its outs and inns —
North. — a false and inadequate representation of the
truth is made. Such a passion is not the essence of the character.
It is a single part of it, that has grown to unnatural
strength; and it would be much more true to say that by
such a passion the character is disguised, than elucidated.
Shepherd. That's capital. Mr Tickler, he can talk you
North. In such cases, Mr Hogg, it usually happens that the
passion which is thus strong and overruling, exhibits only a
temporary state, or disorder, if it may be so called, of the
mind. It shows not its permanent character, but one which
has been induced by casual circumstances fostering certain
feelings to excess, and which altered circumstances might
perhaps repress, reducing the whole mind to its natural and
proper equipoise.
Shepherd. Mr Tickler, do you hear that? That's a poser.
North. The true nature of men is to be understood by penetrating
through their passions which appear, while we witness
their operation, to absorb all other faculties, and by discovering
what the powers are which lie concealed under them, and
which, even though they should appear for a time to be dormant,
are yet alive and ready to be awakened by a touch, and
to leap forth.
Shepherd. Profoonder than Pop.
North. What can less resemble our actual experience of the
world than this description of human character by single despotic
Shepherd. Like sae mony rams at the head o' sae mony
flocks o' sheep.
North. Why, there are great numbers of mankind, in whom
it would be absolutely impossible to point out any such
governing and overpowering principle of action.
Shepherd. And deevilish clever chiels and gude Christians,
North. Men in whom the elements of nature are more
balanced, and in whom natural feelings appear to arise to the
occasion that requires them — but nothing is seen of one
superior desire absorbing all other affections and interests.
Shepherd. The maist feck o' mankind —
North. A great part of men adopt for the time the passion
of their profession.
Shepherd. And thus we a' smell o' the shop.
North. Now, Tickler, while to many men no ruling passion
can be assigned, and many appear to be, for a time merely,
strongly actuated by that with which their situation furnishes
them, observe with respect to those in whom strong passion
does arise from their own mind, and for a time does possess
and rule over thorn, how even then different passions
will hold alternate ascendancy. As one in whom the passion
of renown has great force, and has seemed alone to have the
government of his life, may suddenly become absorbed in the
passion of love, and forget entirely those purposes for which
alone he seemed to live; showing in the most marked manner
how little this notion of a permanent ruling passion is
founded in nature. Joanna Baillie has exemplified this in
Count Basil.
Shepherd. I never read nae plays but Shakspeer's — and them
no aften — for there's no a copy o' him in the house.
North. Besides, where such a passion actually exists, and
takes this constant lead of the mind through life, it is to be
ascribed not to the mind alone, but to the situation concurring
with the passion, and raising it to a degree of strength beyond
nature. Passion itself would not be permanent.
Shepherd. I howp no.
North. But the situation to which a man is engaged may
be so; and in that — believe me — is found the seeming permanence
of the passion.
Shepherd. I'll believe onything. (Yawning.)
North. For it calls forth the same, day by day, nourishing
it, and fixing it as habitual in the mind. Yet even in such
cases it will appear at last, when some change of circumstances
breaks up the bondage in which the mind has been
held, that this permanent habit is broken up with it, and other
strong natural principles reassume their native strength.
Shepherd. As it is richt they should do.
North. But there are arguments of a still more important
kind, Mr Hogg, connected with the refutation of this theory.
Shepherd. Theory! It's nae theory — it's but a bit sophistical
North. For the fact is, that such a ruling passion is incompatible
with that state of mind which ought to be desired,
with its sound and healthy condition. The vigour of the
mind is supported and nourished by the alternation of its
passions. When exhausted with one, it recovers its force and
alacrity by giving itself up to the influence of another. Its
thoughts, its understanding, its whole moral nature, are filled
and replenished by the variety of affections with which it is
thus made acquainted. But a single passion taking possession
of it, binds it down, narrows it, confines it in ignorance,
destroys its moral power, by substituting one usurping affection
for that whole variety of feelings which are proper to the
human soul, which are its excellence, and its happiness.
Shepherd. Puir Pop! Puir bit Poppy! Why, sir, sic a
ruling passion's a dounricht disease.
North. Its effect upon the mind, if it is permanent, without
vehemence, is to confine it within narrower and narrower
limits, to withdraw it from the natural freedom and enlargement
of its being, to make it partial, servile, destitute of
knowledge of itself or others. If it is permanent, and at the
same time vehement, it overpowers and deranges the other
faculties, and in its ultimate excess, reaches that state of
entire and utter derangement, which includes even physical
disorder of the structure of the human being, and becomes
either imbecility or madness.
Shepherd. I could select: a dizzen cases in pint.
North (with much animation). Is it not evident, then, Mr
Tickler, that there cannot be a greater absurdity, in endeavouring
to establish philosophical canons fit for the judgment
of human character, than to propose as one of the fixed conditions
and appearances of the mind, a state which, in all its
degrees, is adverse to the proper excellence and strength of
that mind, and in its utmost degree is its highest disorder,
and finally its destruction?
Shepherd (shaking Tickler in vain). This is real sleep—
there's nae pretendin here, sir—your eloquence has owerpoor'd
him, and he has taen refuge frae discomfiture in the
land o' nod. (Aside)—Faith I'm gettin rather droosy mysel.
North (with increasing animation). There have at times been
men of great character who have devoted themselves wholly
to some great object which has occupied their thoughts and
purpose for their whole life; and in some sort this might be
said to be a ruling passion, since their lot was so cast that
that one great desire became justly the preponderant determination
of their will while they lived—such as Clarkson and
Shepherd. Wha?
North. But how unlike is this to the description of human
nature by ruling passions! Even in these great men, high
as their purpose was, it must be supposed that their full
moral nature was in a certain degree warped by tie exclusive
desire with which they pursued these objects. These objects
were in truth so great, that for them it was worth while to
sustain, to a certain degree, such an injury of their moral
nature. And it must be added, that if their minds were in
some degree warped, they were in a much greater degree
exalted by the dignity of their purpose.
Shepherd. Wha were they? I wush you would tell me wha
they were. An anecdote or twa wad relieve the pressure on
the brain o' your fine feelosophy, and lichten the lids o' ma
North (with enthusiasm). But before we compare with these
any of the ordinary pursuits and situations of men, let it be
recollected how peculiar these situations were: that these
men were contending single against the abuses and crimes of
a nation, or of the world. Less than the entire life and
powers of an individual human being would have been unequal
to such a contest. And other instances there are no
doubt more obscure, though not less virtuous, in which single
men have striven, and do yet strive, against the vice and
corruption of a whole generation. In all such cases, this
paramount object demands, and must have, all the powers of
the mind. But only in such instances, which are necessarily
rare, can the mind justly be given up to a single purpose. It
is evident that extraordinary strength of character, and intensity
of desire, and faculties of great vigour, are necessary to
the adoption of purposes of this description. How rare such
a union!
Shepherd. Go on, sir. (Aside) — O dear me! but I wush he
was dune!
North. The ruling passion, then, my dear James, you see,
so far from giving any insight into its deeper composition,
does, in fact, express what lies at the mere surface of character.

Shepherd. That's just what I was sayin.
North (with an air of triumph). What, I would ask, is the knowledge
imparted of the real character of a man in public station,
and of high rank in his country, such as Lord Cobham was,
by telling us that he was a strenuous patriot? The place in
which he stood, and not the urgency of his own peculiar
feelings, required of him to take his part in the public affairs
of his country. And who will pretend to say, that in knowing
the simple fact that Lord Cobham was one of the distinguished
patriots of his day, he can tell whether that patriotism
arose from that ardent zeal for the welfare of human
beings, which is one principle of our nature — or from a proud
imaginative attachment to the majestic land of which he was
the son, which is another, — or from the stern independence
and inflexible integrity of an upright and honourable mind
placed by circumstances in the midst of public life, and thus
in unavoidable opposition to what there might be of corruption
and selfishness at that time in the administration of the
affairs of his country?
Shepherd. Hear! hear! hear !
North (rising and resting on the crutch). These and other
original grounds in the mind itself, may all, with equal probability,
be supposed as the cause of the patriotism of such a
man; as long as his patriotism is the only known fact of his
character. In this instance, then, it is evident, that the
objection I advanced is true, namely, that what is called a
ruling passion, often shows merely an effect produced by the
emergency of the situation in which a man is placed, rather
than anything of the original and characteristic constitution
of his mind. The utmost we can be said to know in such a
case is the spirit of his conduct, but nothing of that which,
in speaking of character, it is our object to understand, namely,
the peculiar form under which human nature was exhibited
in that individual human being, or the source from which his
conduct sprung.
Shepherd (resigning himself without further struggle to sleep). OH!
North (with great self-complacency). Upon this view of the
subject I am induced to say, in conclusion, Mr Hogg, that it
appears to me that the theory or doctrine, by whatever name
we may call it, which holds up the ruling passion, as that
which explains and exhibits in its strongest light the individual
character, does, while it undertakes to set before our
observation what is deepest in the composition of the mind, in
fact mark out only what is most superficial. It shows us not
in what manner the mind is framed, it shows us not the great
elements of power which are joined together in its composition,
neither the peculiar character nor the principles of its
strength; but it directs our attention exclusively, and as if
the whole of character were comprised in this, to some seeming
outward form and aspect, which, under the pressure of
circumstances, external and accidental, the mind has been
constrained to assume.
Tickler (asleep opposite the Shepherd). OH!
North (exultingly on taking his seat). So little of real truth
and instruction may there sometimes be, gentlemen, in an
opinion which, under the name of philosophy, gains attention
by the grace with which it is recommended to notice, and
obtains something of sanction and currency by that which is
its essential falsehood, namely, the substitution it makes of
what is obvious to sight for that which lies most hidden from
observation, and the flattering facility which it therefore seems
to afford to the commonest observers and slightest reasoners,
for understanding those subjects which are more than sufficient
for the efforts of the most searching sagacity and the
profoundest thought.
Shepherd (in his dreams). Soho! Soho! Soho! I see her
een aneath the breast broo¹ o' the knowe.
North (in mixed anger and amazement). Hogg?
¹ Brent broo — steep brow.
Shepherd (starting up). Halloo! halloo! halloo! Weel dune
Clavers! That's it, Giraffe! A wrench — a turn — he's mouthin
her — he's gruppit her — but Clavers wunna carry — fetch her
here, Giraffe — and I'll wear her fud in ma hat. But I'm
sair blawn.
Tickler (in his dreams). Razor-strop not worth a curse —
razor like a saw — water lukewarm — soap sandy from scrubbing
the stair — blast the brush!
North. A madman on my right hand, and an idiot on my left!
Shepherd (recovering his senses, and rubbing his eyes). Sae, by
your ain accoont, sir, you're somethin atween the twa. Our
freen Dr Macnish has speculated wi' great ingenuity on the
cause o' dreams in his Philosophy of Sleep. Wull he tell me
what for I was haunted by that hare, and no Mr Tickler, wha
devoured her stoop and roop? Hae dreams, then, nae connection
wi' the stamack?
North (drawing himself up proudly). Really I did not know,
gentlemen, that my conversation had been so soporific.
Shepherd. Conversation! Ca' ye't conversation to deliver a
treatise on the fause theory o' the ruling passion, a' divided
intil separate heids, and argufied back and forrit again' twa
peacefu' folk like me and Mr Tickler, wha never opened our
mouths till we fell asleep? In place o' bein' angry you should
gie us baith the maist unqualified praise. As for mysel, I
stood it out larger nor ony ither man in the Forest. If you
had but seen the faces I made to keep mysel wauken, you
wad hae thocht me a demoniac. I keepit twitchin my upper
lip, nose, and cheeks, like the Lord Chancellor.
North. What shall the world say, my dear Shepherd, is his
ruling passion?
Tickler (broad awake). —
"That clue once found, unravels all the rest,
The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confect!"
North. A Reform Ministry! The Lord High Chancellor of
England giving himself the lie night after night on the Woolsack

Tickler. In presence of the Peers, whom he loads with
Shepherd. And in hearin o' the haill kintra, wha wonder that
there is nae wisdom even in his wig.
North. I have always admired the man; and the world, I
verily believe, will pardon in him almost any aberration — but
that from the straight line of honour and truth. The name of
Henry Brougham will be eminent in the history of England;
and the great champion of the Education of the People is
worthy to hear that name given by the gratitude of his compatriots
to the first new-discovered star.
Shepherd. That's glorious.
North. Much — much — much — I repeat it — will be forgiven
to one who nobly aspired — and in sincerity — by the power of
intellect to become a moral benefactor of the race.
Shepherd. But slichted na he religion?
North. No, James — no man with such a mind — in many of
its qualities so grand — did ever yet slight religion. Into
Natural Theology¹ his various science must have shown him
strong streaming lights — and let no one dare to say that, with
a heart so accessible, he is not a Christian. I desire that he
may live long — and that the nation may mourn in grateful
sorrow over his grave. Almost all our great have been good
men; and such epithets may — I devoutly hope — be duly inscribed
in his monumental epitaph.
Tickler. Amen.
Shepherd. Amen.
North. But never — never may that be — if he pause not in
his wild career — and recede not from the present paths of his
reckless — shall I say, his unprincipled ambition?
Shepherd. I'm a simple shepherd, sir, and therefore shall be
mute. If I hae said onything unbecomin, I'm sorry for't;
but what maitters a few silly words frae a lowly son o' the
North. A thousand times more matter the thoughts and
feelings of lowly sons of the Forest, than all the flatteries
that have been wafted to his footstool from the dark
dwellers in city lanes, on the breath of disease and corruption.

Tickler. Popularis auræ! how fetid the pestilential smell!
North. How unlike his bearing to that of the Red-Cross
Knight! He would have died to save his silver shield from
¹ In 1839 Lord Brougham published two volumes of "Dissertations on Subjects
of Science connected with Natural Theology, being the concluding volumes
of the new edition of Palev's work."
slightest stain — and if self-inflicted, how bitterly had it been
rued! His lips he would have wished to wither in death ere
touched by falsehood's mildew, breathed on them from his
own wavering heart — he would have held his words holy as
his thoughts — for what are words but thoughts embodied in
air — and yet imperishable — for once uttered and heard, they
are your only immortals — deny them, and they come flying
against you on all the winds — επεα πτεροευτα — that will tear
your liver like vultures — or, if you will it so, flying to and fro
in the sunshine, will gather round your head when living, and
when you are dead round your tomb, like doves, messengers
of peace, and love, and glory, whose bright plumes time shall
never touch with decay, nor all the storms of this world ruffle
or bedim.
Shepherd. That's beautifu' — but methinks you're speakin, in
sic eemagery, no o' politicians, but o' poets.
North. Of statesmen. Their instruments may be mean —
but their ends how mighty! In legislating for England now,
they legislate for the whole world hereafter — and shall the
Spirit of the Age suffer in her service, from the lips of her
most eloquent minister, at once reckless, and systematic, and
flagrant, in the face of day, a violation of truth?
Tickler. "Rest — rest, perturbed spirit!"
Shepherd. But he canna rest! Oh, that he would but tak Mr
North's advice! — for like a' the rest o' the warld, great and
sma', nae dout Lord Chancellor Brougham reads the Noctes.
Had we him sittin here, for ae hour, we'd convert him — divert
him — frae the path intil whilk he has by some evil demon
been deflected frae the richt line o' his natural career — and
geein him a shove, send him spinnin awa on his ain axis
like a planet through the sky. But haw! haw! haw!
haw! haw! haw!
Tickler. What the deuce now?
Shepherd. Lord Althropp — Lord Althropp — Lord Althropp!
My sides are sair.
North. Laughable indeed, James.
Shepherd. Then dinna girn sae gruesomely — but join me in
a guffaw,
Omnes. Ha, ha! haw! ha, ha! haw!
Shepherd. It's an hysterical creesis in a nation's calamity,
when the King, and the Commons, and the People (but no
the Peers), would have a' resigned their situations — the King
his throne, the Commons their seats, and the People their
kintra, unless Lord Althropp had been perswaded to condescend
to continue to remain Chancellor o' the Exchequer,¹ and
yet him for a' that universally alloo'd to be an Oxe.
Tickler. There has been no such political appointment since
Caligula made his horse consul.
Shepherd. I'm nae great Roman historian — but I dinna see't
mentioned in thae learned articles, "The Cæsars," that the
consul either imposed or defended a tax on maut. In ae
thing, I hae nae dout, he ackit like Lord Althropp.
Tickler. Eh?
Shepherd. He left open the Corn Question.
Tickler. The consulship was a sinecure.
Shepherd. And the Nag himsel on the Ceevil List.
Tickler. For past services.
Shepherd. O' various kinds to the State.
Tickler. As how?
Shepherd. Mair especially for workin a great improvement
on the Imperial Cavalry.
Tickler. His Lordship, more indirectly, has equally improved
the breed of cattle — of long-horns.
Shepherd. I think I see him — the Consul — stannin in his
¹ Lord Althorp (afterwards Earl Spencer) was Chancellor of the Exchequer
in the Grey Administration, 1830-34. The following description of him is extracted
from one of the Noctes Ambrosianæ (August 1831), not written by Professor
"North. Has Lord Althorp nothing of the fine old Spencer face about him?
Tickler. A good deal. The lines are there. The resemblance to some even
of the ablest of the race is striking. But so much the worse. I know few things
more painful than, in visiting some man of great intellectual rank, to see his
son carving the mutton at the foot of his table, so like him that you would have
detected the connection had you met the youth at Cairo — and yet so visibly a fool
that your eye is relieved by turning to a dish of turnips. Lord Althorp has
handsome features, but oh! how heavily they are carved. His eye is well set,
and the colour is beautiful, but not one spark of fire is there to bring it out of
the category of beads. The lips too are prettily enough defined, but no play
of meaning, good or bad, beyond a mere booby simper, ever ripples across them.
His forehead is villanous low, and eke narrow; the hair coarse, wiry, and growing
down into his eyes; the whiskers gross, bushy, grazier-like; the cheeks
mere patches of pudding; the chops chubby and chaw-baconish; the neck short,
the figure obese; the whole aspect that of a stout, but decidedly stupid farmer
of seven-and-forty.
North. You should have advised George Cruikshank to make a study of him
for Parson Trulliber, in the new edition of Joseph Andrews.
stall, high-fed at rack and manger, and on mashes forbye, wi'
his mane nicely platted, and ribbons on his tail. But in a'
his consular pomp, he's no sic a wonnerfu' animal to the imagination
as Lord Althropp.
Tickler. His Lordship is not without a certain share of
small abilities.
Shepherd. Sae the newspapers say — but under a Liliputian
bushel he could easily hide his licht.
Tickler. His Lordship owes a debt of endless gratitude to
the press. Not that the gentlemen of the press flatter him on
the score of talents — for with one voice they unanimously and
harmoniously proclaim him the weakest Chancellor that ever
got his head into Exchequer.
North. Yet in the Owl they see a Phœnix.
Tickler. And as if they were all knaves themselves, lift up
their hands in admiration at sight of an honest man.
North. Your severity, Tickler, is unjust; yet the editors,
who have joined in that senseless cry, have indeed fairly subjected
themselves to such imputation. There is not a mere
contemptible term in the language, in its vulgar colloquial
misuse, than the term — honest; for it denotes a stupid man
with a fat face — low brow — heavy eyes — lips that seem rather
to have been afterward sewed on to the mouth than an original
feature — chubby cheeks — double chin — large ears — and
voice —
Tickler. A good hint: and then his speaking, it is neither more nor less than
a painful medley of grunt, stutter, gasp, and squeak. Every moment you expect
him to break through outright. He hums and haws for three minutes, and
then hawks up the very worst of all possible words, and then flounders on for
a little, boggling, and hammering, and choking, till he comes to another apparently
full stop; then another grand husky blunder, some superlative betise,
to tug him out of the rut; and then another short rumble of agonising dulness;
and then, having explained nothing but his own hopeless incapacity,
down the unhappy lump at last settles, and pulls his hat over the bridge of his
nose, and puffing and panting as if he had been delivered of a very large piece
of dough—while hear! hear! hear I bursts in symphonous cadence from the
manly bass of Graham, and the dignified tenor of Lord Advocate Jeffrey, and
the angelic treble of the noble Paymaster of his Majesty's Forces (Lord J.
Russell); and Peel smiles — one little benignant dimple; and Holmes is troubled
with his old cough; and Mackintosh casts upwards a large grey melancholy
eye, as if there were something wrong in the ventilator; and O'Connell folds
his brawny arms, and shows his teeth like a sportive mastiff; and the honourable
member for Preston thrusts his clean hands into his pockets, and his cleaner
tongue into his cheek.
Shepherd. What a pictur!"
Shepherd. "Timmer-tuned — tempered by the beetle." But
ye dinna mean to say that's a pictur' o' Lord Althropp?
North. No — I do not. I know better what is due to a nobleman
and a gentleman. But I do mean to say that some such
sort of application of the term "honest" has been unconsciously
made in the case of his Lordship — to his political character —
by many of his admirers. They extol his good nature.
Shepherd. In the Forest a gude-natured man means a quote,
useless body, henpecked at home, and cheated abroad, and
for whom every excuse is made when he's seen no verra weel
cled at kirk or market, on the grund o' his wife's no bein' contented
wi' wearin the breeks, unless she gets haud o' the best
pair, in which she sits in velvet. That's a gude-natured man
in the Forest, but he may be a different character in the House
o' Commons, mair especially when the Leader there, wi' a seat o'
coorse in the Cabinet, and, to croon a', Chancellor o' the Exchequer!

North. In Smithfield his Lordship's character is without a
stain. But to speak plainly, as a Minister of the Crown, he is
the most dishonest that ever received, returned, reaccepted,
and retained the seals of office.
Shepherd. The moist dishonest!
North. Yes! Steeped to the eyes in dishonour — yet all the
while superstitiously believing himself "the noblest work of
Shepherd. Tak time to cool, sir. Though I canna say your
face is ony way distorted — which it aye is when you're in a
passion, — nor that your vice trummles — which it aye does when
about to be left to yoursel — yet your words are viciously cuttin
— and the sharper the edge because, a' the while you're
shearin him doun, you're as cool, calm, and colleckit in your
mainner as a cucumber.
North. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is often called
candid, for stammering out the most blundering admissions to
crafty querists, cunningly ensnaring him to commit himself on
the most important points, which he, good easy man, has not
the sense to think points of any importance at all — mumbling
"Yes," when, in common prudence, to say nothing of pride, it
should have been "No."
Shepherd. And "No," when it should hae been "Yes."
North. He afterwards sees his errors — that is, when he is insultingly
told of them — and then he again falls back on his
character for candour, and frankly — that is, foolishly — confesses
that he had said more than he meant, or the reverse of what he
meant; and the crafty, having so far obtained their object as
to make him ridiculous, and consequently powerless, cry Hear!
hear! hear! and the morning papers are next day filled with
honest eulogiums on honest Lord Althorp, who looks next
evening in his place as well pleased as a fozie turnip after a
Shepherd. You'll please me, sir, by mentionin shortly a few
dizzen instances o' his dishonesty.
North. I could mention five hundred — but
"Lo! in the lake soft burns the star of eve,
And the night-hawk hath warned your guests to leave,
Ere chilling shades descend, our leafy tent."
Shepherd. Ae dizzen.
North. What has the entire system of the Whig Government
been from first to last, but a complicated and ravelled
web of falsehood? Almost every clause in the Reform Bill, as
it now stands, enacted a measure, which every man in power
(Lord Grey excepted — and Lord Durham, when Mr Lambton),
who could wag a tongue or hold a pen, however impotently,
had all their political lives resisted and scorned. The Reform
we have now got they had continued for many years to denounce
as revolution, in speeches, pamphlets, books, without beginning,
middle, or end; and the Bill they at first proposed to
bring in was founded on principles of conservatism, which
almost all moderate men might have in much approved. Wellington
and Peel themselves would not have objected to them,
though they had too much sense to introduce as Ministers, at
such a crisis, any Reform at all. Whether they were wrong
or right is not the question — the question is, were the Whigs
honest men? — and the answer has been given by the voice of
the country, Radicals and all, that they were, politically speaking,
knaves — and conspicuous among them, with his enthusiasm
for the tricolor, was my Lord Althorp.
Shepherd. But will ye no alloo a man to eat in a few o' his
words, sir?
North. No: a very few indeed, eat in, are sufficient to choke
an honest man. But the Whigs re-ate all they had ever
spewed on Reform — nor seemed, James, to stunner at the half-digested
Shepherd. Coorse.
North. Does the Shepherd believe that Lord Althorp in his
heart loved and admired — as he said he did — the Political
Unions — composed, according to Lord Brougham, of the philosophical
classes of Brummagem, and bright with the scientific
splendour that holds all the great manufacturing towns of
England in perpetual illumination?
Shepherd. Na.
North. He is not so simple.
Shepherd. And yet, to my cost, I'm simple aneuch.
North. Once seated in places of power, the Whigs were not
slow to denounce Political Unions — which were good, they
said — and constitutional for purposes of national agitation to
carry the great measure, but bad and unconstitutional, they
had the audacious ingratitude to declare, after Reform had
established a Liberal Government, for then that it was time for
the Philosophical and Political Unionists to resume their aprons
— and that the smith must thenceforth be contented to "stand
at his anvil — thus, with open-mouth, swallowing a tailor's
Shepherd. I canna be angry for lauchin.
North. Place himself was degraded into a newsmonger —
the very tailor who had invited himself, at the head of a kindred
deputation, to a conference with the Premier, to show him
how he should cut his cloth — with what suit he should lead —
what measures adopt for the use and ornament of the body
politic — while a number of Jews remained at the bottom of
the stair, with bags in which to carry off the State's old
Shepherd. You're real wutty, sir, the nicht.
North. But did my Lord Althorp, or any other of the time--
serving, place-seeking Whigs, ever explain to the Political
Unions on what principle they were either encouraged or
denounced? The kind of crisis at which they were a blessing
— the kind of crisis at which they became a curse? To have
done that even slovenly would have required an abler and an
honester man. But his ability and his honesty were on a
par, and far below par — and now stand at zero.
Shepherd. I never saw Mr Tickler listenin sae attentively
before — and yet he's no asleep.
North. That no connection could be imagined to subsist
between Political Unions and Trades' Unions, is even yet,
James, the Whig cry. They have fed, do feed, and will feed
one another; and thousands, and tens of thousands, and hundreds
of thousands of poor men have rued, do rue, and will
rue, the base arts of their betrayers, the Whigs, who, in the
lust of power and place, seduced them to uplift the banners
of sedition, misnamed of patriotism by tyrants who changed
freemen into slaves, by first pretending to knock off from their
limbs fetters that were never forged, and then grinding their
faces in the dust, and shipping some of the misguided wretches,
now not only useless but dangerous, to expatriation and
Shepherd. A Psalm-singing Methody or twa, wha had taken
and administered unlawfu' oaths, and some half-dizzen ne'erdoweels,
wha micht hae been stappin doun about this time
frae the tredd-mill.
North. All the reasonings of the Liberals against Combination
Laws were false, foolish, and futile, as I proved a
few months ago, in a paper which the impartial press declared
conclusive and unanswerable; and the severities which the
Government inflicted, legal as they were, were shocking to
the sense of justice, seeing that they came from the hands of
men who had selfishly laboured to spread wide the delusion
under which those poor ignorant creatures sinned and suffered.

Shepherd. Wasna Lord Melbourne then Home Minister?
North. He was, and more shame to him; but my honest
Lord Althorp had been a far more flaming reformer than he,
and should have shown some bowels of compassion to the
poor, who, I fear, are now the greatest part of the people.
Such cruelties — tender mercies according to the Whig creed —
soon cease to be remembered by the rich and noble, — for
though the revengeful Whigs have long memories for the
slightest injuries done to themselves, the best among them
have memories even shorter than their wits for the sufferings
of others, and, with all their cant and slang about secondary
punishments, prefer them to the capital, because, barbarous
as they often are, the nation does not shudder at their infliction
— "out of sight out of mind," — and hard-hearted philanthropists
can thus transport for life as many wretches as they
choose; nor have they left to themselves even the privilege
of remission, so that hundreds are now annually separated for
ever from all they hold dear, for crimes which used justly
and humanely to be punished and expiated, and perhaps repented,
by a year's imprisonment.
Shepherd. You're expawtiatin ower a wide field. I wuss
you would be mair personal on Lord Althropp.
North. I am never personal. I have said enough to show
you, my dear James, that that Statesman cannot be honest,
who leads the House of Commons as a Member of the Cabinet
of such a Government.
Shepherd. Then they are a' dishonest thegither, and why
single out his Lordship?
North. I never singled him out. I see him singled out to
my hand as the only man among them who deserves the
epithet, honest; and am, therefore, to presume that there is
something peculiar in his character and conduct, distinguishing
him from all the Ministers with whom he acts in concert;
and pray, will you, who have a fertile fancy, favour me, who
am a matter-of-fact man, with a conjecture what that peculiarity
may be, made plausible by "a round unvarnished tale"
of one honest deed he has performed, or one honest word he
has uttered, since he began to draw his salary?
Shepherd. That's no fair — for he may hae dune and said a
thousand, though I never happened to hear o' ane.
North. In not one instance, regarding taxation, has he
acted a plain, open, straightforward, bold, and intelligent
part. Either he has never once happened to know what he
intended to do, or never once chosen unequivocally to declare
it. Irresolution is bad enough — but equivocation is insufferable;
and our Chancellor of the Exchequer is the Equivocator
of the Age. There are the Taxes on Knowledge, as they are
called — videlicet, newspaper stamps. Did he promise to
modify, or reduce, or take them off entirely, or did he not?
That the Equivocator hummed and hawed, and was unintelligible,
I grant; but, as usual, he said enough to commit
himself with the venders of that most useful of all commodities,
knowledge; and it was mortifying, humiliating to
them to find that they had been cajoled and deceived by
Honesty personified. But that was a trifle — for no honest
man could belong to the present Ministry after the prosecution
of the True Sun, and pride himself at the same time on
being not only a friend, but a champion of the press. "Might
not a Government be justified in prosecuting for sedition the
editor of a newspaper whose offence was the same that had
been committed by a Peer and a Commoner in their places in
Parliament?" Some such question was put lately to the
Lord Chancellor by the Attorney-General, and the answer was
"No!" The wily Attorney was outwitted by the bold
Chancellor. In the well-known circumstances of the case he
thought he had his Lordship on the hip; but the stalwart
man of the people (alas! alas !) flung the rejected of Dudley,
and the accepted of Edinburgh (we are a proud people, the
Scotch), across his knee, and the head of "plain John Campbell"¹
I rebounded a yard from the sod.
Shepherd. I'm amazed, and yet I hae nae idea — no the
least in the warld — o' what you're speaking about. Gang on.
North. Baron Smith' is one of the best beloved men in all
Ireland. The Protestants adore him —
Shepherd. That's wrang. They should leave that to the
North. All the virtuous Catholics regard him as their friend,
but O'Connell hates and fears him, and sought to sacrifice the
character of the stainless sage on the altar of his unfeeling
Shepherd. Ambition's no the word.
North. It is not. Honest Lord Althorp good-naturedly
joined the conspiracy against the venerable patriarch, and
candidly instigated a reformed House of Commons to drive
him with disgrace from the Bench. Mainly by his influence —
¹ Afterwards Lord Campbell, and Lord Chief Justice of England. At this
time he was Attorney-General, and M.P. for Edinburgh.
² "Sir William Smith, one of the Barons of the Exchequer in Ireland, was
accused by Daniel O'Connell, in February 1834, of introducing political subjects
into his charges to grand juries at the assizes, of not coming into court to try
prisoners until the afternoon, and of having tried fourteen prisoners at Armagh,
between six o'clock in the evening and six in the morning. O'Connell's
motion for inquiry into Baron Smith's conduct was carried by a majority
of 167 to 74 — the Whig Ministry supporting it. A week after, Peel took up
the case, defended Smith, accused O'Connell of personal and vindictive motives,
proposed that the vote for inquiry be rescinded, and succeeded, by a majority
of 165 to 159." — American Editor.
for he is all in all in that high-minded assembly — a vote was
passed for that useful, honourable, and upright purpose; and
candid, conciliating, conscientious, high-minded, and warmhearted,
true English nobleman, Lord Althorp, looked at the
House with a blandness of physiognomy which she must have
been either more or less than human to resist, and received
from her in return one of her most subduing and subservient
smiles. But in this instance his Lordship had prevailed over
the virtue of the House at what is called a weak moment —
for a few nights after she rejected his addresses, and left him
in the lurch, for one who was not troubling his head about
her — the self-same aged gentleman whom she had meditated
to unwig — verging on three-score and ten — even Baron Smith
— but though he treated her courteously, he declined having
anything to do with her — so she again returned to the embraces
of the grazier.
Shepherd. That was far waur than his equivocation about
stamps. The idler was a trifle.
North. His behaviour, and that of all his colleagues, to Mr
Sheil — a man of genius and virtue — all the world knows, was
such as in private life would have shut against them the doors
of all gentlemen's houses, even in Coventry. Still honest
Lord Althorp not only held up his head and showed his face,
but became, on that pitiable exposure, more candid than ever,
and while he apologised, gloried in his gossip. He was in
reality, though not aware of it, about as dignified a personage,
and in as dignified a predicament, as a dowager in a small
tea-drinking town, convicted, on her own reluctant confession,
of having circulated a fama clamosa against a virgin spinstress,
of being nearly nine months gone with child.
Shepherd. What'n a simile! It was rash in the dowager
to say nine months, for had she said sax, the calumniated
lassie wad hae had to wait three afore she could in ony
way get a safe delivery — either o' the charge or the child.
Wha was she — and what ca' they the sma', tea-drinking
North. You know, Mr Hogg, that the sin charged against
Mr Sheil was that of having thought one way mid spoken
another, on a question deeply affecting Ireland — the Coercion
Bill. In Parliament he had been, as was to be expected, one
of the most eloquent and indignant denouncers of the tyrannical,
and unconstitutional, and insulting, and injurious, and
unnecessary injustice of that measure.
Shepherd. Injurious injustice! is that correck?
North. Quite correct in grammar. Out of the House he
was accused of having declared it to be all right, and that the
state of Ireland demanded it. So shocked and horrified was
the moral sense of honest Lord Althorp by the idea of such
ultra-Irish violation of all honour and all truth, that he lost
his head, and avowed his inability to conceive a punishment
adequate to such an unheard-of crime. In the event of the
conviction of the accused, he hinted, that if the House was
not found too hot for him, he would probably be found too hot
for the House. Mr Sheil seemed standing on the brink of expulsion
— and it was supposed that he meditated going out
with his evil conscience as an unsettled settler to Van Diemen's
Shepherd. Was Mr Sheil married?
North. Yes — not long before, to a very beautiful and accomplished
woman, and that aggravated the hardship of his case —
for to a bachelor a trip even to Botany Bay is a mere amusement.

Shepherd. I forget the result o' the inquiry — for I never recolleck
onything noo I read o', unless it has had the gude
luck to happen centuries ago.
North. Lord Althorp prayed Mr Sheil might have a safe
deliverance —
Shepherd. O the hypocrite! Pretendin that he didna credit
a calumny o' his ain creatin, and invokin heaven to show that
he was a leear, in an eye-upturning prayer!
North. You misunderstand me — he did not create the
calumny, my dear James.
Shepherd. Then wha did?
North. Nobody cares. The candid Chancellor of the Exchequer
persisted in believing it to the last — clung to it after
it stank like a dug-up cat — sulkily retracted his belief — said
something for which Mr Sheil would have shot him but for
the Sergeant-at-Arms — looked big and small — bullied — explained
— explained again — apologised — begged pardon — and
expressed what a relief it was to him to see Mr Sheil honourably
exculpated and acquitted of a charge, of which, had he
been guilty, his Lordship, laying his hand on his heart, and
looking as impressively as nature would allow, was free to
confess that he must have been lost for ever to that society —
to that country of which he was now one of the brightest ornaments
— brighter than ever, because of the passing away of the
black cloud that had threatened to obscure or strangle its lustre.
Shepherd. I'll be hanged if Lord Althropp ever said ony sic
North. James?
Shepherd. Sic words never flowed frae a mouth like yon.
But you've, nae dout, gien the sense, and made him speak as
if he was wordy — which he never will be — o' sittin, and noo
and then venturin on a bit easy remark, at the Noctes.
North. Now, my dear James, mark — for I know you are no
quid-nunc — and read little about what is passing in London —
else had I not spoken a single syllable of politics in the still
air of this beautiful arbour, — Honest Lord Althorp has been convicted
— and has confessed it — of the same crime charged
against Mr Sheil — with circumstances of aggravation, that,
were I to tell you of them, would, to your simple mind, be
Shepherd. My mind, sir, 's at ance simple and credulous.
I can believe onything — a' the guile that tongue o' man could
tell o' a Tory, and a' the ill that the tongue o' deevil could
tell o' Whig — sae there's nae occasion to dwell on the incredible
circumstances o' aggravation — they are a' true as gospel.
North. Mr Sheil, I said, James, is a man of genius — a fine-eyed,
fine-souled son of Erin. Had he been a hypocrite — a
traitor — I would have bitterly lamented it, and blushed for
the form I wore.
Shepherd. You would hae had nae need to do that, even
though Mr Shell had been a black sheep. Considerin your
time o' life, the form ye wear's verra imposin; as for your
countenance, it is comely — and I'm no surprised Mrs Gentle
considers you a captivatin cretur.
North. We must not too coldly scan even the principles of
patriotism. They may be such, carried to excess, or flying
off oblique, as we cannot approve, even though we can comprehend
them within our sympathies; but to fall away from
them in faintness of heart is pitiable — to desert them is shameful
— to fight openly against them execrable — but insidiously
to betray them —
Shepherd. Is damnable — O' that honest Lord Althropp
thocht guilty Mr Sheil — but you dinna say that he himsel has
committed that verra sin?
North. He could not commit that very sin — for he is not
Mr Shell. But he committed it as far as nature would suffer
Lord Althorp. That Coercion Bill which lie thought ought
not to be passed, he consented to make pass through Parliament!

Shepherd. That seems the converse o' the charge against
Mr Sheil — and if I ken the meanin o' the word conscience,
confound me gin it's no a thousand times waur.
North. A million times worse.
Shepherd. I'm sorry for him — in what far-away hole, puir
fallow, can he be noo hidin his head? I howp in baith senses
that he's resigned.
North. He has ousted Earl Grey —
Shepherd. What?
North. And honest Lord Althorp is the most popular man
in England.
Shepherd. Then England may sink intil the bottom o' the
Red Sea. Na — she maunna do that, for she wad drag Scotland
alang wi' her — and then fareweel to the Forest!
North. You can have no notion, James, of the despicable
intrigue by which honest Lord Althorp ousted the Premier.
Shepherd. He maun be desperate angry.
North. He does not appear so, but his son and son-in-law
have resigned.¹
Shepherd. Which was right; for even a Whig, settin selfish
considerations aside, doesna like to hae advantage taen o' his
ain faither. Hoo O'Connell, frae what ye hae hinted, maun
be crawin!
North. Lord Althorp secretly commissioned Mr Secretary
Littleton to sound, consult, conciliate, and truckle to the
Agitator. O'Connell and Littleton had a blow-up, and abused
each other like pickpockets. The cat was let out of the bag,
and began not only to mew, but to hiss and fuff and prepare
her paws for serious scratching — there was a regular row in
the Lower House, and a very irregular one in the Upper.
Earl Grey declared his entire ignorance of the shameful and
slavish submission of honest Lord Althorp to the Big Beggar¹
Lord Howick, now (1856) Earl Grey, and the late Earl of Durham.
man¹ — and, would you believe it, James, a question has arisen,
and has been debated with much acrimony, whether or not,
by such proceedings, the Premier was betrayed?
Shepherd. He should just hae gane to his Majesty, and said,
"Sire! Lord Althropp is a fule, or warse, and has been playin
joukery-pawkery wi' that chiel O'Connell, through ane o' your
Majesty's understrappers, and the twa thegither hae brocht
the Ministry intil a mess. I maist respectfully ask your
Majesty what your Majesty would wush me to do? Here are
the Seals." His Majesty would immediately hae said, "Yearl!
kick Lord Althropp to the back-o'-beyont — carry ye on the
Coercion Bill — for it's necessary to the pacification o' Ireland
— put the Seals in your pocket, alloo me to ring the bell for
your cotch — and write me in the mornin hoo things are lookin
in the Upper House." I ken that's what I wad hae dune
mysel had I been King; and frae a' I hae heard o' his Majesty
sin' he sat on the throne, and when he walked the quarterdeck,
I'm as fairly convinced that he wad hae supported
Yearl Grey, as that, supposing me a proprietor o' land, I wad
hae discharged on the spat ony servant o' mine, whether lad
or lass, that had been detected plottin again' my head grieve,
which wad, in fack, hae been plottin again' his maister, and
therefore deserved to be punished by dismissal — whether wi'
wages and board-wages up to the Term or no, wad hae been a
question to be reserved for future consideration — but assuredly,
without a character. (Starting up) — Mercy on us! whare's
North. Who?
Shepherd. Didna Mr Tickler come out wi' ye frae Embro'?
North. Mr Tickler? I have not seen him for some months.
There is a coolness between us, but it will wear off — and —
Shepherd. Only look at him, sir — only look at him; yonner
he's helpin Mysie to let out the kye! — That's a bat.
North. The gloaming — what a beautiful word — gives a
magical character to the stillness of the Forest — and the few
trees seem as if they were standing there in enchantment —
human beings reconciled to the thrall of vegetable life — and
breathing the dewy air through leaves, whose delicate fibres
thrill to the core of their quiet hearts. One star! I ought to
know where to find the Crescent. Not so bad a practical
¹ O'Connell.
astronomer — for there is the Huntress of the silver bow, just
where I expected her — and in all that region of heaven there
is not a cloud.
Shepherd. Let's in to sooper. This is Saturday nicht — and
you'll read the family a chapter. Lean on ma airm, or raither
let me lean on yours, for you're the younger man o' the twa —
no in years — but in constitution — and you'll be famous in
history as the modern Methusalem.
[They enter the house.
(NOVEMBER 1834.)
Scene I. — Green in front of TIBBIE'S, head of St Mary's Loch.¹
Time, — Four afternoon. SHEPHERD standing alone, in a full
suit of the Susalpine Tartan. Arrive NORTH and TICKLER on
their Norwegians.
Shepherd. True to time as the cuckoo or the swallow.
Hail, Christopher! Hail, Timothy! Lords o' the ascendant,
I bid ye hail!
Tickler. Hoo's a' wi' ye, Jeems?
Shepherd. Brawlies — brawlies, sir; but tak ma advice, Mr
Tickler, and never attempp what ma excellent freen, Downie
o' Appin, ca's the Doric, you Dowg, for sic anither pronounciation
was never heard on this side o' the North Pole.
North. My beloved Broonie! lend a helping hand to your
old accomplice while he endeavours to dismount.
Shepherd. My heart hotches, like a bird's nest wi' young
apes, at the sound o' your vice. Ay — ay — I'll affectionately
lend a helpin haun to my auld accomplice while he endeavours
to dismunt — my auld accomplice in a' kinds o' innicent
wicketness — and Clootie shanna tak the ane o' us without the
ither — I'm determined on that, — yet Clootie's a great coward,
and wull never hae courage to face the Crutch!
Tickler. And how am I to get off?
Shepherd. Your feet's within twa-three inches o' the grund
already — straucht your knees — plant your soles on the sward
— let gae the grup, and the beast 'ill walk out frae aneath
¹ Tibbie Shields and her interesting pastoral hostelry, still (1856) flourish for
the accommodation of travellers in the wild solitudes of St Mary's Loch, Se1kirkshire.

you, as if he was passing through a triumphal airch. Cream-coloured
pownies! Are they a present frae the Royal Stud?
North. They are Norwegians, James, not Hanoverians.
Lineally descended from the only brace of cavalry King Haco
had on board at the battle of Largs.
Shepherd. His ain body-guard o' horse-marines. Does he
North. Sometimes. But please to observe that he is
Shepherd. I thocht 'twas but a nettin ower his nose. Does
he kick?
North. I have known him kick.
Shepherd. I canna say I like that layin back o' his lugs —
nor yet that twust o' his tail — and, mercy on us, but he's
gotten the Evil Ee!
Tickler. Tibbie! a stool.
[TIBBIE places a cutty-stool below TICKLER'S left foot—and
describing half a circle with his right, TIMOTHY treads
the sod — then facing about, leans with his right elbow on
Harold's shoulder — while his left forms the apex of an
isosceles triangle, as hand on hip he stands, like Hippolitus
or Meleager.
Shepherd (admiring Tickler). There's an equestrian statue
worth a thousand o' that o' Lord Hopetoun and his horse in
front o' the Royal Bank — though judges tell me that Cawmel
the sculptor's a modern Midas. Hoo grandly the figures combine
wi' the backgrund! See hoo that rock relieves Tickler's
heid — and hoo that tree carries off Hawco's tail! The
Director-general¹ was wrang in swearin that sculptur needs
nae scenery to set it aff — for will onyhody tell me that that
group would be as magnificent within the four bare wa's o'
an exhibition-room, as where it noo stauns, in the heart o'
licht, encircled by hills, and overhung by heaven? Gin a
magician could, by a touch o' his wand, convert it intil
marble, it would be worth a ransom. But, alas! 'tis but
transitory flesh and bluid!
Tickler. Why don't you speak, James?
Shepherd. Admiration has held me mute. I beseech ye,
sir, dinna stir — for sic anther attitude for elegance, grace,
and majesty, 's no within the possible combinations o' the
¹ See vol. i. p. 28.
particles o' maitter. Tibbie! tak aff your een — it's no safe
for a widow woman to glower lang on sic a spectacle! Then
the garb! what an advantage it has ower Lord Hopetoun's!
His lordship looks as if he had loupt out o' his bed on
sae sudden an alarm, that he had time but to fling the
blankets ower his shouthers, and the groom nae time to
saiddle the horse, which his maister had to ride a' nicht bare
backit — altogether beneath the dignity o' a British general.
But there the costume is a' in perfeck keepin — purple plush
jacket wi' great big white horn buttons — single breisted —
cape hangin easily ower the back o' the neck — haun-cuffs
fliped to gie the wrists room to play — and the flaps o' the
mony-pouched reachin amaist doun to the knee, frae which
again the ee travels alang the tartan trews till it feenally
rests on a brave brass buckle — or is it gowd? — bricht on his
instep as a cairngorm. But up wi' a swurl again flees
imagination, and settles amang the lights and shadows o' the
picturesque scenery o' that mony-shaped straw-hat — the rim
o' its circumference a Sabbath-day's journey round — umbrageous
umbrella, aneath which he stauns safe frae sun and
rain — and might entertain a seleck pairty in the cool of the
air! which he could keep in circulation by a shake o' his head!
Tickler. Now that I have stood for my statue, James, pray
give us a pen-and-ink sketch of Christopher.
Shepherd. There he sits, turned half round on the saiddle,
wi' ae haun restin on the mane, and the ither haudin by the
crupper, — no that he's feared to fa' aff — for I've seldom seen
him tummle at a staun-still — but that I may hae a front, a
back, and a side view o' him a' at ance — for his finest pint is
what I would venture, wi' a happy audacity, to ca' the circular
contour o' his full face and figure in profile — sae that the
spectawtor has a comprehensive visey o' a' the characteristic
attributes o' his outward man.
North. The circular contour of my full face and figure in
profile? I should like to see it.
Shepherd. I fear I shanna be able to feenish the figure at ae
sittin, for it's no easy to get rid o' that face.
North. I am trying to look as mild as cheese.
Shepherd. Dinna fasten your twa grey green een on mine
like a wull-cat.
North. Verily they are more like a sucking dove's.
Shepherd. Surely there's nae need to look sae cruel about
the doun-drawn corners o' your mouth — for that neb's aneuch
o' itsel — every year liker and liker a ggem-hawk's.
North. I am a soft-billed bird.
Shepherd. A multitude o' lang, braid, white, sharp teeth's
fearsome in the mouth o' an auld man, and maks ane suspeck
dealins wi' the enemy, and an unhallowed lease o' a lang life.
North. Would that I had not forgotten to bargain for exemption
from the toothache!
Shepherd. I wuss there mayna be mair meant than meets
the ee in thae marks on the forehead. They tell na o' the
touch o' Time, but o' the Tempter.
North. I rub them off — so — and lo — the brow of a boy!
Shepherd. Answer me ae question — I adjure you — hae ye
selt your sowl to Satan?
North (smiling). James!
Shepherd. Heaven bless you, sir, for that smile — for it has
scattered the dismal darkness o' doubt in which ye were beginning
to wax intil a demon, and I behold Christopher North
in his ain native light — a man — a gentleman — and a Christian.
But where's the crutch?
North. Crutch! The useless old sinecurist has been lying
in velvet all autumn. Henceforth I believe I shall dispense
with his services — for the air of the Forest has proved fatal to
gout, rheumatism, and lumbago — of which truth behold the
pleasant proof — James — here goes!
[NORTH springs up to his feet on the crupper, throws a
somerset over Haco's rump, and bounds from the greensward
as from a spring-board.
Tickler. Not amiss. Let's untackle our cattle — and make
our toilet.
[Nolan and TICKLER strip their steeds, and turn them loose
into the meadow, green as emerald with a flush of after--
grass, in which they sink to the fetlocks, as at full gallop
they describe fairy-rings within fairy-rings, till in the
centre of the field they subside into a trot, and after
diversely careering awhile with flowing main and tail, and
neighings that thrill the hills, settle to serious eating, and
look as if they had been quietly pasturing there since morn.
North. That's right, my good Tibbie. Put my pail of water
and my portmanteau into the arbour.
Tickler. That's right, my pretty Dolly, put my pail of water
and my portmanteau into the shed.
[NORTH retires into the arbour to make his toilet, and TICKLER
into the opposite shed. The SHEPHERD remains midway
between — held there by the counteraction of two equal
powers of animal magnetism.
Shepherd. Are ye gaun into the dookin in thae twa pails?
North. No — as rural lass adjusts her silken snood by
reflection in such pellucid mirror — so am I about to shave.
Shepherd. Remember the fable o' the goat and the well.
North (within the Arbour). How beautiful the fading year!
A month ago, this arbour was all one dusky green — now it
glows — it burns with gold, and orange, and purple, and
crimson! How harmonious the many-coloured glory! How
delightful are all the hues in tune!
Shepherd. Arena ye cauld staunin there in your linen? For
I see you through the thin umbrage, like a ghost in a dirty
North. Sweet are autumn's rustling bowers, but sweeter
far her still — when dying leaf after dying leaf drops unreluctantly
from the spray — all noiseless as snow-flakes — and
like them ere long to melt away into the bosom of mother
earth. It seems but yesterday when they were buds!
Shepherd. Tak tent ye dinna cut yoursel — it's no safe to
moraleese when ane's shavin. Are ye speakin to me, or was
that meant for a soliloquy?
North. In holt or shaw, in wood or grove, on bush or hedgerow,
among broom or bracken, the merry minstrelsy is heard
no more! Soon as they cease to sing they seem to disappear;
the mute mavis retires with her speckled throat and breast so
beautiful into the forest gloom; the bold blackbird hides
himself for a season, till the berries redden the holly-trees;
and where have all the linties gone? Are they, too, home--
changing birds of passage? and have they flown ungratefully
away with the swallows, to sunny southern isles ?
Shepherd. He's main poetical nor correck in his ornithology;
yet it's better to fa' into siclike harmless errors in the study o'
leevin birds — errors o' a lovin heart, and a mournfu' imagination
— than to keep scientifically right amang stuffed specimens
sittin for ever in ae attitude wi' bead-een in a glass-case.
North. Blessings on thy ruby breast, sweet Robin, for
thine own and those poor children's sake! A solitary guest
of summer gloom; but at the first frost o' autumn thou
seek'st again the dwellings of men — "a household bird" all
winter long — till soon-come spring invites thee to build another
nuptial nest among the mossy roots of some old forest--
tree! I see thee sitting there on the top-stone of the gable,
as if the domicile were thine own; and thine own it is—for
thou holdest it by the tenure of that cheerful song. "No
better a musician than a wren!" So said sweet Willie —
flattering the nightingale. But the wren now answering the
Robin — almost echo-like — from the bourtree-bush in the
garden — with his still small voice, touches the heart that
knoweth how to listen — more tenderly, more profoundly, than
Philomela's richly-warbled song!
Tickler (within the Shed). What have you been about with
yourself all day, my dear James?
Shepherd. No muckle. I left Altrive after breakfast — about
nine — and the Douglas Burn lookin gey temptin, I tried it
wi' the black gnat, and sune creeled some fowre or five dizzen
— the maist o' them sma' — few exceedin a pund.
Tickler. Hem.¹
Shepherd. I fear, sir, you've gotten a sair throat. Ane sune
tires o' trooting at ma time o' life, sae I then put on a sawmon
flee, and without ony howp daunered down to a favourite cast
on the Yarrow. Sometimes a body may keep threshin the
water for a week without seein a snout — and sometimes a
body hyucks a fish at the very first thraw; and sae it happened
wi' me — though I can gie mysel nae credit for skill — for I
was just wattin my flee near the edge, when a new-run fish,
strong as a white horse, rushed at it, and then out o' the
water wi' a spang higher than my head,
"My heart to my mouth gied a sten,"
and he had amaist rugged the rod out my nieve; but I sune
recovered my presence o' mind, and after indulgin his royal
highness in a few plunges, I gied him the butt, and for a
quarter o' an hour keept his nose to the grunstane. It's a sair
pity to see a sawmon sulky, and I thocht — and nae doubt sae
did he — that he had taen up his lodgins at the bottom o' a
pool for the nicht — though the sun had just reached his meri¹
Hem — implying a doubt.
dian. The plump o' a stane half a hunderwecht made him
shift his quarters — and a sudden thocht struck him that he
would mak the best o' his way to the Tweed, and then doun
to the sea at Berwick. But I bore sae hard on him wi' an
auchteen-feet rod, that by the time he had swam twa miles —
and a' that time, though I aften saw his shadow, I seldom saw
himsel — he was sae sair blawn that he cam to the surface o'
his ain accord, as if to tak breath — and after that I had it a' my
ain way — for he was powerless as a sheaf o' corn carried doun
in a spate — and I landed him at the fuird, within a few
hunder yards o' Altrive. Curious aneuch, wee Jamie was
sittin by himsel on the bank, switherin about wadin across,
and you may imagine the dear cretur's joy on seein a twunty--
pund fish — the heaviest ever killed wi' the rod in Yarrow —
floatin in amang his feet.
Tickler. You left him at home?
Shepherd. Whare else should I hae left him?
Tickler. Hem.
Shepherd. You really maun pit some flannen round that
throat — for at this time o' the year, when baith man and horse
is saft, inflammation rapidly arrives at its hicht — mortification
without loss o' time ensues — and within the four-and-twunty
hours I've kent a younger chiel than you, sir, streekit out —
Tickler. What?
Shepherd. A corp.
Tickler. Any more sport?
Shepherd. Returnin to the Loch, I thocht I wad try the
otter.¹ Sae I launched him on his steady leaden keel — twa
yards lang — breadth o' beam three inches — and mountin a
hunder and fifty hyucks —
Tickler. A first-rate man-of-war.
Shepherd. I've seen me in the season atween spring and
summer, secure ten dizzen wi' the otter at a single launch.
But in October twa dizzen's no to be despised — the half o'
them bein' about the size o' herrins, and the half o' them
about the size o' haddocks, — and ane — but he's a grey
trout —
Tickler. Salmo Ferox?
¹ This is an implement with a number of fly-hooks attached to it: and it is
worked out into the water from the shore, somewhat after the fashion in which
a paper-kite is piqued against the wind.
Shepherd. As big's a cod.
Tickler. Well, James?
Shepherd. I then thocht I would take a look o' some nicht
lines I had set twa-three days sin', and began pu'in awa at
the langest — wi' some five score o' hyucks, baited for pike
and eel, wi' trout and par-tail, frogs, chicken-heads, hen-guts,
some mice, some moles, and some water-rats — for there's nae
settin boun's to the voracity o' thae sharks and serpents — and
it was like drawin a net. At length pike and eel began
makin their appearance, — first a pike — then an eel — wi' the
maist unerrin regularity o' succession just as if you had
puttin them on sae for a ploy! "Is there never to be an end
o' this?" I cried to mysel; and by the time that, walkin
backwards, I had reached the road, that gangs roun' the bay
wi' a bend — enclosin atween it and the water-edge a bit bonny
grass-meadow and twa-three trees — the same that your accomplished
freen, George Moir,¹ made sae tastefu' a sketch o' —
there, wull ye believe me — were lyin five-and-twunty eels and
five-and-twunty pikes — in all saxty — till I could hae dreamt
that the meadow had been pairt o' the bay that moment
drained by some sort o' subterraneous suction — and that a'
the fishy life the water had contained was noo wallopin and
wrigglin in the sudden sunshine o' unexpected day. I brak a
branch aff an ash, and ran in amang them wi' my rung, lounderin
awa richt and left, and loupin out o' the way o' the pikes,
some of which showed fecht, and offered to attack me on my
ain element, and I was obliged to wrestle wi' an eel that
speeled up me till his faulds were wounded round my legs,
theeghs, and body, in ever sae mony plies, and his snake head
— och! the ugly auld serpent — thrust outower my shouther —
and hissin in my face — till I flang him a fair back-fa', and
then ruggin him frae me — fauld by fauld — strechtened him
out a' his length — and treddin on his tail, sent his wicket
speerit to soom about on the fiery lake wi' his faither, the
great dragon.
North (in the Arbour). Ha! ha! ha! our inimitable pastor
has reached his grand climacteric!
¹ A distinguished member of the Scottish bar, and the writer of many
admirable papers in Blackwood's Magazine; for some time Professor of
Rhetoric and Belles-Lettres in the University of Edinburgh, and now (1856)
Sheriff of Ross-shire.
Tickler (in the Shed). And where, my dear James, are they
all? Did you bring them along with you?
Shepherd. I left the pikes to be fetched forrit by the Moffat
Tickler. And the eels?
Shepherd. The serpent I overthrew had swallowed up all
the rest.
Tickler. We must send a cart for him — dead stomachs do not
digest; and by making a slit in his belly we shall recover the
rest — little the worse for wear — and letting them loose in the
long grass, have an eel-hunt.
North (in the Arbour). Who can give me a bit of sticking--
plaster ?
Shepherd. I prophesied you would cut yoursel. There's nae
stickin-plaister about the toun; but here's an auld bauchle,
and if onybody will lend me a knife, I'se cut aff a bit o' the
sole, and when weel soaked wi' bluid, it 'ill stick like a sooker
— or I can cut aff a bit waddin frae this auld hat — some
tramper's left ahint her baith hat and bauchle — and it may
happen to stainch the bludin — or best of a', let me rug aff a
bit o' this remnant o' an auld sheep-skin that maun hae
belanged to the foot-board o' some gig — and wi' the woo neist
your skin, your chin will be comfortable a' the nicht — though
it should set in a hard frost.
[SHEPHERD advances to the Arbour — but after a single glance
into the interior, comes flying back to his stance on the
wings of fear.
North (in the Arbour). James? James? James?
Shepherd. A warlock! A warlock! A warlock! The king
o' the warlocks! The king o' the warlocks! The king o' the
[From the Arbour issues CHRISTOPHER in the character of
LORD NORTH — in a rich court dress — bag and wig —.
chapeau-bras — and sword.
North (kneeling on one knee). Have I the honour to be in
presence of Prince Charles Edward Stuart Hogg? My sovereign
liege and no Pretender — accept the homage of your
humble servant — too proud of his noble king to be a slave.
Shepherd (graciously giving his hand to kiss). Rise!
[From the Shed issues TIMOTHY in the regimentals of the
Old Edinburgh Volunteers.
Tickler (kneeling on one knee). Hail! King of the Forest!
Shepherd (graciously giving his hand to kiss). Rise! — Let
Us — supported on the arms of Our two most illustrious subjects
— enter Our Palace.
[Enter the Forest King and the two Lords in Waiting into
Scene II. Interior of TIBBIE'S — Grand Hall, or Kitchen
Shepherd. A cosy bield, sirs, this o' Tibbie's — just like a
bit wren's nest.
North. Methinks 'tis liker an ant-hill.
Tickler. Bee-hive.
Shepherd. A wren's nest's round and theekit wi' moss — sae
is Tibbie's; a wren's nest has a wee bit canny hole in the
side o't for the birdies to hap in and out o', aiblins wi' a
hangin leaf' to hide and fend by way o' door — and sae has
Tibbie's; a wren's nest's aye dry on the inside, though
drappin on the out wi' dew or rain — and sae is Tibbie's; a
wren's nest's for ordinar biggit in a retired spat, yet within
hearin o' the hum o' men, as weel's o' water, be it linn or lake —
and sae is Tibbie's; a wren's nest's no easy fund, yet when
you happen to keek on't, you wunner hoo ye never saw the
happy housie afore — and sae is't wi' Tibbie's; therefore, sirs,
for sic reasons, and a thousand mair, I observed, "a cosy
bield this o' Tibbie's — just like a bit wren's nest." Sir?
North. An ant-hill 's like some small natural eminence
growing out of the green ground — and so is Tibbie's; an ant--
hill is prettily thatched with tiny straw and grass-blades, and
leaves and lichens — and so is Tibbie's; an anthill, in worst
weather, is impervious to the elements, trembles not in its
calm interior, nor — howl till ye split, ye tempests — at any
blast doth Tibbie's; an ant-hill, spontaneous birth of the
soil though it seems to be, hath its own order of architecture,
and was elaborated by its own dwellers — and how wonderfully
full of accommodation, when all the rooms at night become
the rooms of sleep — just like Tibbie's; an anthill, though
apparently far from market, never runs out of provisions —
nor, when "winter lingering chills the lap of May," ever
once doth Tibbie's; Solomon, speaking of an anthill, said,
'Look at the ant, thou sluggard — consider her ways and be
wise,' — and so now saith North, sitting in Tibbie's; so for
these, and a thousand other reasons, of which I mention but
one — namely, that here, too, as there, is felt the balmy influence
of the mountain-dew — I said, "methinks 'tis like an
ant-hill." Sir?
Tickler. A bee-hive is a straw-built shed, loving the lownness,
without fearing the wind, and standing in a sheltered
place, where yet the breezes have leave to come and go at will,
wafting away the creatures with whom work all day long is
cheerful as play, outward or homeward bound, to or fro among
the heathery hills where the wild honey grows — and these
are pretty points of resemblance to Tibbie's; a bee-hive is
never mute — for all that restless noise of industry sinks away
with the setting sun into a steady murmur, fit music for the
moonlight — and so is it, when all the household are at rest,
in Tibbie's; a bee-hive wakens at peep of day — its inmates
losing not a glint of the morning, early as the laverocks
waukening by the daisy's side — and so, well knows Aurora,
does Tibbie's; a bee-hive is the perfection of busy order,
where, without knowing it, every worker by instinct obeys
the Queen — and even so seemeth it to be in Tibbie's; so for
these, and a thousand other reasons, of which I mention but
two, that it standeth in a land overflowing with milk and
honey, and wanteth but an eke, I said — Bee-hive. Sir ?
Shepherd. A wren's nest grows cauld in ae single season,
and then's seen stickin cauld and disconsolate in amang the
thorns o' the leafless hedge, or to the side o' the mouth o'
some solitary cave or cell amang the dreepin rocks; and
where the twa pawrent birds and the weel-feathered family —
perhaps half a score or a dizzen — hae flown till, wha kens?
No me, lookin about and seein nae wing, listenin and hearin
nae note in the wilderness — a' mute and motionless in frost and
snaw — as if a' singers and chirpers were dead! But, thank
God! it's nae sae in Tibbie's; for in the dead o' winter, I've
seen't lookin mair gladsomer, if possible, than in the life o'
spring; and though ane o' the auld birds be nae mair — yet
that happened lang syne — here are the maist feck o' the
young anes — (the ithers hae yemigrated to America) — cantier
and cantier ilka year. Whisht — hasna the cretur a linty-like
vice — that's Dolly — as she's cleanin the dishes — no forgettin
that she's within ma hearin — singin ane o' the auld Shepherd's
sangs! Sir?
North. A drove of cattle tread the myriad-lifed ant-hill —
the fairy palace with all its silent people — into the hoof--
printed mire of death; but ruin is not like the blind bestial,
James — and will spare Tibbie's, James — till with its contemporary
trees — now a youthful brotherhood — many human
ages hence it fades away with gradual, unperceived, and unpainful
decay, while the wayfaring stranger, pausing to eye
the scene so still and solitary, shall know not that he is looking
on ruins, but suppose them to be but simple scatterings
of rocks! Sir?
Tickler. Full to overflowing of honey and happiness, a
hideous hound, without the fear of Huber before his eyes,
hangs the hive over a pit of sulphur, and twenty thousand
faithful subjects perish with their Queen! But no unhallowed
hand, James, shall touch the rigging of Tibbie's roof — no
stifling vapour shall ever fill these cells — and when he who
shall be nameless — the Unavoidable — who never names his
day — comes hither on his one visit — his first and his last —
may he be taken by Tibbie for his brother Sleep!
Shepherd. Noo, that's what I ca' poetical eemagery applied
to real life.
North. There cannot be a doubt that we three are three
men of genius.
Shepherd. Equal to ony ither sax.
Tickler. Hem! How rarely is that endowment united with
talent like ours!
North. Stuff. A set of nameless ninnies, at every stumbling
step they take, painfully feeling their intellectual impotence,
modestly abjure all claim to talent, of which no line is visible
on their mild unmeaning mugs, and are satisfied in their
humility that nature to them, her favoured blockheads — her
own darling dunces — and more especial chosen sumphs — in
compensation gave the gift of genius — the fire which old Prometheus
had to steal from heaven.
Shepherd. Bits o' Cockney creturs wi' mealy mouths, lookin
unco weak and wae-begane, on their recovery frae a painful
confinement consequent on the birth o' a pair o'twuns o' rickety
Tickler. A pair of twins. Four?
Shepherd. Na — twa sonnets that 'ill never in this warld be
able to gang their lanes, but hae to be held up by leading-strings
o' red ribbons round their waists, or itherwise hae to
be contented to creep or crawl like clocks.
North. You bring an ordinary blockhead to the test — talent
he has none — sentence is recorded — and thenceforth he never
passes the window of a wigmaker without a sympathetic sigh;
but a genius looks at you with meek defiance in his lack-lustre
eyes — nay, with compassion for the mean estate of a mere man
of talent, who at the best can never hope to rise higher than
the Woolsack — and like an immortal mingling with mortals,
he steps into an omnibus, nor steps out till off the stones, on
his journey towards the poetic visions swarming among the
daisies and dandelions of Hampstead Hill.
Shepherd. My warst enemy canna accuse me o' bein' a mettyphysician;
yet I agree wi' Mr Tickler, that a man may hae
great talents, and nae genie — talents baith for the uptak and
the layin doun — and sae far frae despisin sic men, I regard
them wi' gratitude, for without them this warld couldna wag,
and would sune come to a stand-still. Mental Perception,
clear, quick, and acute as ane's verra ee — Conception prompt,
vivid, and complete, as if the past and present were a' ane,
and the shadow o' reality as gude's the substance—Memory
like a great mirror o' plate-glass never bedimmed either by
damp or frost, sae that a single keek shows you whatever you
want to see ower again, and aiblins maks you ken't better
than ever noo that it's but a vision — Judgment, discriminating
by lines o' licht a' the relations o' things and thochts by which
they are at ance a' conneckit, and a' separated in a way maist
wondrous and beautifu' to behauld — Reason sometimes arrivin
at conclusions by lang roundabout roads windin up alang the
sides o' michty mountains atween it and truth — which, like an
engineer, it turns when unable to surmunt — and sometimes
dartin on them — strecht as a sunbeam or an eagle's swoop —
and that's Intuition; — the Mind sae endowed, I say, sirs, I contemplate,
when at wark, wi' admiration and gratitude, because
it is at ance great and good, glorious and useful; and if to a'
that you add Conscience, the Illuminator, what is wantin to
the speeritual eemage o' a perfect Man? What is wantin, I
ask you again, sirs, but — ca' it by what name you wull —
Imagination — Invention — Genius — the power that keeps perpetually
evolvin the new frae the auld — sae that this life, and
this warld, and these skies, are something different the day
frae what they were yesterday — and will be something different
the morn frae what they were the day — and sae on for ever
and ever ad infineetum, while we are cooped up in clay — till
the walls o' our prison-house shall be crumbled by a touch
o' the same Almichtv hand that by a touch gave being and
adherence to the dust?
Tickler. You astonish me, James.
Shepherd. I sometimes astonish mysel wi' the thochts that
come upon me at a Noctes. They dinna seem to arise within
my mind, like fish loupin out o' the water frae aneath stanes,
and roots, and banks where they had their birthplace amang
the gravel, at the cluds o' insecks blawn by the breezes in
showers o' ephemeral beauty frae the simmer wudds, but rather
come waverin on frae some far-aff region o' visionary isles
and cloudy heidlands, like a lang-winged visitation o' bonny
snaw-white sea-birds dippin doun in the green sunshine, and
then first ane and then anither awa — awa — awa — as if some
speerit were ca'in them back again to their ain nests — and the
latest loiterer unwilling to forsake its pastime, but afraid to
disobey that ca' — wheelin for a wee while round and round
about the same circle o' whitening billows, and then lettin
drap fareweel in a saft touch frae the tip o' its pinions, disappearin
like the rest, and leavin ahint it nane o' the beauty o'
life on the lanesome sea.
Tickler. You astonish me, James.
Shepherd. And mair nor you wad be astonished, gin Gurney
hadna been laid up wi' a swalled face —
Voice from the Spence. Dr Wilkie of Innerleithen yesterday
pulled the tooth, and all's well.
Shepherd. That cretur's vice gars me a' grue.¹ Is't true that
he's a natural sin o' the Inveesible Girl?
North. Hush, Shepherd.
Tickler. The heir-apparent of Echo.
Shepherd. A curious air-apparent — at times only owdible —
and it's fearsome to think on Short-haun out o' sicht extennin
his notes!
(Enter BILLY and PALMER with their game-bags, which they
empty on their division of the floor.)
¹ Grue — shudder.
North. Not a bad day's sport, James?
Shepherd. You dinna mean to tell me that you and Soothside,
this blessed day, slew a' that ggem ?
North. We did — and more.
(Enter CAMPBELL and FITZ-TIBBIE with their game-bags, which
they empty on their division of the floor.)
Shepherd. You dinna mean to tell me that you and Soothside,
this blessed day, slew a' that ggem?
North. We did — and more.
(Enter MON. CADET and KING PEPIN with their game-bags, which
they empty on their division of the floor.)
Shepherd. You dinna mean to tell me that you and Soothside,
this blessed day, slew a' that ggem?
North. We did — and more.
(Enter SIR DAVID GAM and TAPPYTOORIE with their game-bags,
which they empty on their division of the floor.)
Shepherd. You dinna mean to tell me that you and Soothside,
this blessed day, slew a' that ggem?
North. We do — and more.
(Enter AMBROSE and PETER with their game-bags, which
they empty on their division of the floor.)
Shepherd. You dinna mean to tell me that you and Soothside,
this blessed day, slew a' that ggem?!! Soothside?
Tickler. I do — and more.
Shepherd. Then are ye twa o' the greatest leears that ever
let aff a gun.
North. Or drew a long bow. How many brace?
Billy. A dizzen, measter.
North. How many brace?
Campbell. Half-a-score, sir.
North. How many brace?
Mon. Cadet. Seven, and a snipe.
North. How many brace?
Sir David Gana. Eight, and an owl.
North. How many brace?
Ambrose. Nine neat, my lord.
North. Tottle of the whole?
Voice from the Spence. Forty-six brace — an owl and a snipe.
Shepherd. That cretur's vice gars me a' grue. Gold and
silver's deadlier than lead. You've been bribin Dalgleish.
Mair poachers nor ane has been at the fillin o' thae pouches —
but ma certes, here's a vast o' ggem! Let's sort them.
That's richt, lads — fling a' the black-cocks intil the east corner,
and a' the grey-hens intil the wast — a' the red grouse intil
the north corner, and a' the paitricks intil the south — gie
Gurney the snipe for his share, and Awmrose the owl to stuff
for the brace-piece o' his bed-chaumer.
North. Where the deuce are the hares?
Tickler. Where the devil are the rabbits?
(Enter ROUGH ROBIN and SLEEK SAM, with their game--
bags, which they empty on their division of the floor — that
is, on the table.)
Shepherd. Fourteen fuds! Aucht maukins, and sax boroughmongers,
as I howp to be saved !
North. I read, with indignation and disgust, of the slaughter
by one gun of fivescore brace of birds between eight o'clock
and two.
Shepherd. A chiel micht as weel pride himsel on baggin in
a poutry-yaird as mony chickens, wi' here and there an auld
clockin hen and an occasional how-towdie — and to croon a',
the bubbly-jock himsel, pretendin to pass him aff for a capercailzie.
But I ca' this sport.
North. Which corner, James, dost thou most admire?
Shepherd. Let's no be rash. That nyuck o' paitricks kythes¹
unco bonny, wi' its mild mottled licht — the burnished broon
harmoniously mixin wi' the siller grey in a style o' colourin
understood but by that sweet penter o' still life, Natur; and
a body canna weel look, without a sort o' sadness, on the
closed een o' the puir silly creturs, as their heads — crimsoned
some o' them wi' their ain bluid, and ithers wi' feathers, bricht
in the pride o' sex, auld cocks and young cocks — lie twusted
and wrenched by the disorderin haun o' death — outower their
wings that shall whirr nae mair — rich in their radiance as
flowers lyin broken by the wund on a bed o' moss!
Tickler. James, you please me much.
Shepherd. That glow o' grouse is mair gorgeous, yet bonnier
it mayna be — though heaped up higher again' the wa' —
and gloomin as weel as gleamin wi' a shadowier depth, and a
prouder pomp o' colour lavished on the dead. There's something
heathery in the hues there that breathes o' the wilderness;
and ane canna look on their legs — mony o' them lyin
broken — sae thick cled wi' close, white, salt feathers — without
thinkin o' the wunter-snaw! The Gor-Cock! His name
¹ Kythes — shows itself.
bespeaks his natur — and o' a' the wild birds o' Scotland, nane
mair impressive to my imagination and my heart. Oh! how
mony thousan' dawns have evanished into the forgotten warld
o' dreams, at which I hae heard him crawin in the silence o'
natur, as I lay in my plaid by mysel on the hill-side, and
kept by that bold trumpetin that mornin was at hand,
without needin to notice the sweet token o' her approach in
the clearer licht o' the wee spring-well in the greensward at
my feet!
North. James, you please me much.
Shepherd. Yet that angle o' black-cocks has its charms, too,
to ma een, for though there's less vareeity in the colourin, and
a fastidious critic micht ca' the spotty heap monotonous, yet,
sullen as it seems, it glistens wi' a kind o' purple, sic as I hae
seen on a lowerin clud on a mirk day, when the sun was
shinin on the thunder, or on the loch below, that lay, though
it was meridian, in its ain nicht.
Tickler. James, you please me much.
Shepherd. O! thae saft, silken, but sair ruffled backs and
breists o' that cruelly killed crood o' bonny grey-hens and
pullets — cut aff in their sober matronship and gleesome
maidenhood — whilk the mair beautiful, 'twould tak a mair
skeely¹ sportsman than the Shepherd to decide — I could kneel
doun on the floor and kiss ye, and gather ye up in my airms,
and press you to my heart, till the feel o' your feathers filled
my veins wi' luve and pity, and I grat to think that never
mair would the hill-fairies welcome the gleam o' your plumage
risin up in the mornin licht amang the green plats on the
slopin sward that, dippin doun into the valley, retains here
and there amang the decayed birkwood, as loth to lose them,
a few small stray sprinklins o' the heather-bells!
Tickler. James, you please me much.
North. I killed two-thirds of them with Old Trusty — slap —
bang right and left, without missing a shot —
Tickler. Singing out, "that's my bird," on a dozen occasions
when it dropped at least a hundred and fifty yards —
right in an opposite direction — from the old sinner's nose.
Shepherd. What was the greatest nummer ye brocht doun
at a single discharge?
North. One.
Shepherd. That's contemptible. Ye o' the auld Lake-school
¹ Skeely — skilful.
are never contented excepp ye kiver your bird, sae that if ye
dinna tak them at the crossin, ye shoot a haill day without
killin a brace at a blow; but in shootin I belang to the new
Mountain-school, and fire wi' a general aim intil the heart o'
the kivey, and trusting to luck to gar three or four play thud;
and it's no an uncommon case to pick up half-a-dizzen, after
the first flaucht o' fire and feathers has ceased to dazzle ma
een, and I hae had time to rin in amang the dowgs, and pu'
the ggem out o' the mouths o' the rabiawtors. It was nae
farder back nor the day afore yesterday, that I killed and
wounded nine — but to be sure that was wi' baith barrels —
though I thocht at the time — for my een was shut — that I had
only let aff ane — and wondered that the left had been sae
bluidy, — but baith are gran' scatterers, and disperse the hail
like chaff frae the fanners on a wundy day. Even them on
the edge o' the outside are no safe when I fire intil the middle,
and I've knawn me knock heels-ower-head mair nor ane belangin
to anither set, that had taken wing as I was ettlin at
their neighbours.
Tickler. I killed two-thirds of them, James.
Shepherd. That's four-thirds atween you twa — and at whase
door maun be laid the death o' the ither half?
Tickler. Kit with Crambo killed a few partridges in a turnip
field, where they lay like stones — an old black-cock that had
been severely, if not dangerously wounded by a weasel, and
fell out of bounds, I suspect from weakness — an ancient grey
hen that flew at the rate of sonic five miles an hour — a hare
sitting, which he had previously missed — and neither flying,
nor sitting, but on the hover, that owl. How the snipe came
into his possession I have not learned, but I have reason to
believe that he found it in a state of stupor, and I should not
be surprised were you, James, to blow into his bill, to see
Jack resuscitated —
Shepherd (putting the snipe's bill into his mouth, and puffing
into him the breath of life). Is his een beginnin till open?
North. Twinkling like a duck's in thunder.
Shepherd. He's dabbin.
North. Hold him fast, James, or he'll be off.
Shepherd. Let doun the wundow, Tickler, let doun the
wundow. Oh! ye clumsy coof! there he has struggled himsel
out o' my hauns, and's aff to the mairsh to leeve on
(Enter TIBBIE and DOLLY to lay the cloth, &c.)
Tickler. Symptoms of dinner.
Shepherd. Wi' your leave, sirs, I'll gie Mr Awmrose the
hares to pit intil the gig.
[Gives MR AMBROSE the hares, who disappears four-in-hand.
North. Whose gig, James?
Shepherd. Mine. I'm expeckin company to be wi' me a'
neist week — and a tureen o' hare-soup's no worth eatin wi'
fewer than three hares in't; sae sax hares will just mak twa
tureens o' hare-soup, and no owes rich either — and the third
and fourth days we can devoor the ither twa roasted; but for
fear my visitors should get stawed o' hare — and auld Burton, in
his anatomy, ca's hare a melancholy meat — and I should be
averse to onybody committin suicide in my house — Tappy,
my man, let me see whether you or me can gather up on our
audit fingers and twa thooms the maist multitude o' the legs
o' black-cocks, grey-hens, red grouse, and paitricks; and gin
ye beat me, you shall get a bottle o' whisky; and gin I beat
you, I shall not put you to the expense o' a gill. (Aside) —
The pech has twa cases o' fingers, wi' airn-sinnies, and I never
kept the cretur's equal at a clutch.
[The SHEPHERD and TAPPYTOORIE emulously clutch the game,
and carry off some twenty brace of sundries.
Tickler. James, you please me much.
North. You astonish me, James.
Shepherd. Some folk are easily pleased, and some as easily
astonished — but what's keepin the denner?
with black-grouse-soup, red-grouse-soup, partridge-soup,
hare-soup, rabbit-soup, potato-soup, pease-soup,
brown-soup, white-soup, hotchpotch, cocky-leeky, sheep's
head-broth, kail, and rumbledethumps.)
North. Ay — ay.
Tickler. Haigh!
Shepherd. Hech! — Noo that we've a' three said grace, let's
fa' to — and to insure fair play, let ilka ane fill his neighbour's
plate, as in an ass-race ilka ane rides his neighbour's cuddy.
Tickler. And let no man say a good thing, except between
Shepherd. Or a bad thing either. Agreed. Noo for a fair
start — Ance — twice — thrice — aff!
North. Stop.
Shepherd. Dowg on't — what noo?
North. Incessant refilling of plates is —
Shepherd. I confess fretsome.
North. Therefore, James, that we may preserve our equanimity,
let us shove aside our trenchers, shallow and profound,
and take each man his tureen, and then each man, according
to the courses, his dish; and, without speculation on the doctrine
of chances, let us draw cuts for choice.
Tickler. Straws.
[BILLY presents in his paw straws of unequal lengths, and
the Sortes Ambrosianæ yield the following results.
North. First by a finger. I take the red-grouse tureen.
Tickler. Second by a thumb. I, partridge ditto.
Shepherd. Third by a nail. Essence o' grey-hens.
North. We may now speak ad libitum.
Shepherd. Wi' this proviso, sirs, that nane o' us proceeds to
a second tureen till we a' again draw cuts. For Tickler's sic
a rapid rabiawtor that he'll be for fastenin on his second tureen
afore either Mr North or me has cleared out our first; and
though it's far frae impossible, or improbable either, that we
twa micht owertak him in the lang-rin, still accidents micht
happen; and gin he was to get the start o' us, say by half a
tureen, the odds would rise on him again' the field, and, in
spite o' the additional wecht he would then be carrying, and
the known goodness of his antagonists, Tickler, roarer as he
is, would be likely to won the sweepstakes, beatin North by a
head and shouthers, and me by a head.
Tickler. Agreed.
North. Stop.
Shepherd. For nae man leevin or dead.
North. Gentle — men — we are — by — no means — the — gluttons
— that — peo — ple — regard — ing — this — Noc — tes — might
— be — par — doned — for sup — sup — sup — posing — we were —
Shepherd. Sup — sup — sup — sup — pose — pose — posing —
we are glut — glut — t — t — t — tons — what — the — the — dee —
deevil then? Gur — Gurn — Gurney — is girn — girn — girnin
— at us —
Voice. I'm not girning, Mr Hogg.
North (laying down his ladle). —
"It is well to be off with the old love
Before we are on with the new!"
Nay, better to be true to our first — our sole tureen — than
vainly seek to transfer our passions or our affections to a
second, however attractive; therefore let the worthies in
waiting — male and female — waft away the rest into the
spence,¹ and there collaterally enjoy them — till I cough — with
my well-known hem — for the second course.
[The fourteen worthies in waiting carry of each with his
and her own peculiar smile — ten tureens — four but with
spoons and plates.
Shepherd. Oh, sir! but you've a profound knowledge o'
human natur! Eatin at ane's ease, ane's imagination can flee
up into the empyrean — like an eagle soarin up the lift wi' a
lamb in his talons, and then fauldin up his wings, far aboon
shot o' the fowler, on the tapmost o' a range o' cliffs, leisurely
devourin't, while ever and anon, atween the rugs, he glances
his yellow black-circled een far and wide over the mountainous
region, and afore and after every mouthfu', whattin his
beak wi' his claws, yells to the echoes that afar aff return a
faint but a fierce reply.
Tickler. Does he spit out feathers and fur?
Shepherd. He spits out naething — devourin bird and beast
stoop and roop, bones, entrails, and a', and leavin after his
repast but a wheen wee pickles o' bluidy down, soon dried by
the sun, or washed away by the rain, the only evidence there
had been a murder.
North. The eagle is not a glutton.
Shepherd. Wha said he was a glutton?
North. Living constantly in the open air —
Shepherd. And in a high latitude.
North. Yes, James — for hours every day in his life sailing
in circles some thousand feet above the sea.
Shepherd. In circles, noo narrowin, and noo widenin, wi'
sweepy waftage, that seems to carry its ain wund amang its
wings — noo speerally wundin up the air stair-case that has
nae need o' steps, till you could swear he was soarin awa to
the sun — and noo divin doun earthwards, as if the sun had
shot him, and he was to be dashed on the stanes intil a blash
o' bluid; but, in the pride o' his pastime, and the fierceness
¹ Spence — larder.
o' his glee, had been that self-willed headlong descent frae
the bosom o' the blue lift, to within fifty fathom o' the croon
of the greenwood — for suddenly slantin awa across the chasm
through the mist o' the great cataract, he has already voyaged
a league o' black heather, and, eein¹ anither arc o' the meridian,
taks majestic possession of a new domain in the sky.
Tickler. No wonder he is sharp set.
Shepherd. I was ance in an eagle's nest.
Tickler. When a child?
Shepherd. A man — and no sae very a young ane. I was let
doun the face o' the red rocks o' Loch Aven, that affront
Cairngorm, about a quarter o' a mile perpendicular, by a hair
rape, and after swingin like a pendulum for some minutes
back and forrit afore the edge o' the platform, I succeeded in
establishin mysel in the eyrie.
Tickler. What a fright the poor eaglets must have got!
Shepherd. You ken naething about eaglets. Wi' them fear
and anger's a' ane — and the first thing they do, when taken
by surprise amang their native sticks by man or beast, is to
fa' back on their backs, and strike up wi' their talons, and
glare wi' their een, and snap wi' their beaks, and yell like a
couple o' hell-cats. Providentially their feathers werena fu'
grown, or they would hae flown in my face and driven me
ower the cliff.
Tickler. Were you not armed?
Shepherd. What a slaughter-house! — What a cemetery!
Haill hares, and halves o' hares, and lugs o' hares, and fuds o'
hares, and tatters o' skins o' hares, a' confused wi' the flesh
and feathers o' muirfowl and wild dyucks, and ither kinds o'
ggem, fresh and rotten, undevoored and digested animal
maitter mixed in blue-rnooldy or bloody-red masses — emittin
a strange charnel-house, and yet lardner-smell—thickenin the
air o' the eyrie — for though a blast cam sughin by at times,
it never was able to carry awa ony o' the stench, which I was
obliged to breathe, till I grew sick, and feared I was gaun to
swarf and fa' into the loch that I saw, but couldna hear, far
doun below in anither warld.
Tickler. No pocket-pistol?
Shepherd. The Glenlivet was ma salvation. I took a richt
gude wullie-waucht² — the mistiness afore my een cleared awa
— the waterfa' in my lugs dried up — the soomin in my head
¹ Eein — eying.
² Wullie-waucht — la rge draught.
subsided — my stamack gied ower bockin — and takin my seat
on a settee, I began to inspect the premises wi' mair preceesion,
to mak a verbal inventory o' the furnitur, and to study
the appearance or character o' the twa guests that still continued
lyin back on their backs, and regardin me wi' a malignity
that was fearsome, but noo baith mute as death.
North. They had made up their minds to be murdered.
Shepherd. I suspect it was the ither way. A' on a sudden
doun comes a sugh frae the sky — and as if borne each on a
whurlwund — the yell and the glare o' the twa auld birds! A
mortal man daurin to invade their nest! And they dashed at
me as if they wad hae dung me intil the rock — for my back
was at the wa' — and I was haudin on wi' my hauns — and aff
wi' my feet frae the edge o' the ledge — and at every buffet I,
like an inseck, clang closer to the cliff. Dazed wi' that incessant
passin to and fro o' plumes, and pennons, and beaks, and
talons, rushin and rustlin and yellin, I shut my een, and gied
mysel up for lost; when a' at ance a thocht struck me that I
would coup the twa imps ower the brink, and that the parent
birds would dive doun after them to the bottom o' the abyss.
Tickler. What presence of mind!
North. Genius!
Shepherd. I flang mysel on them — and I hear them yet in
the gullerals. They were eatin intil my inside; and startin
up wi' a' their beaks and a' their talons inserted, I flang aff
my coat and waistcoat, and them stickin till't, ower the precipice!

Tickler. Whew!
Shepherd. Ay — ye may weel cry whew! Dreadfu' was the
yellin, for ae glaff and ae glint;¹ far doun it deadened; and
then I heard nocht. After a while I had courage to lay
mysel doun on my belly, and look ower the brink—and I saw
the twa auld eagles wheelin and skimmin, and dashin amang
the white breakers o' the black loch, madly seekin to save the
drownin demons, but their talons were sae entangled in the
tartan, that after floatin awhile wi' flappin wings in vain, they
gied ower strugglin, and the wreck drifted towards the shore
wi' their dead bodies.
Tickler. Pray, may I ask, my dear Shepherd, how you returned
to the top?
Shepherd. There cam the rub, sirs. My freens aboon,
¹ Ae glaff and ae glint — one glimpse and one flash.
seeing my class, wi' the eaglets flaffin, awa doun the abyss,
never doubted that I was in them — and they set up sic a
shriek! Awa roun' they set to turn the richt flank o' the precipice
by the level of the Aven that rins out sae yellow frae
the dark-green loch, because o' the colour o' the blue slates
that lie shivered in heaps o' strata in that lovely solitude —
hardly howpin to be able to yield me ony assistance, in case
they should observe me attemptin to soom ashore — nor yet to
recover the body gin I was drooned. Silly creturs! there was
I for hours on the platform, while they were waitin for my
corp to come ashore. At last, ashore cam what they supposed
to be my Corp, and stickin till't the twa dead eaglets,
and dashin doun upon't, even when it had reached the shingle,
the twa savage screamers wi' een o' lichtnin!
Tickler. We can conjecture their disappointment, James, on
finding there was no corpse.
Shepherd. I shouted — but natur's self seemed deaf; I
waved my bannet — but natur's self seemed blind. There
stood the great deaf, blind, stupid mountains — and a' that I
could hear was ance a laigh echo-like lauchter frae the airn
heart o' Cairngorm.
Tickler. At last they recognised the Mountain Bard?
Shepherd. And awa they set again to the tap to pu' me up;
but the fules in their fricht had let the rape drip, and never
thocht o' lookin for't when they were below. By this time it
was wearin late, and the huge shadows were stalkin in for
the nicht. The twa auld eagles cam back, but sae changed,
I couldna help pityin them, for they had seen the feathers o'
them they looed sae weel wrapt up, a' drookit wi' death, in
men's plaids — and as they keepit sailin slowly and disconsolately
before the eyrie in which there was naebody sittin
but me, they werena like the same birds!
North. No bird has stronger feelings than the eagle.
Shepherd. That's a truth. They lay but twa eggs.
North. You are wrong there, James.
Shepherd. Twa young ones, then, is the average; for gin
they lay mair eggs, ane's aften rotten, and I'm mistaen if ae
eagle's no nearer the usual number than fowre for an eyrie to
send forth to the sky. Then they marry for life — and their
annual families being sma', they concentrate on a single
sinner or twa, or three at the maist, a' the passion o' their
instinck, and savage though they be, they fauld their wide
wings ower the down in their "procreant cradle" on the
cliff, as tenderly as turtle-doves on theirs, within the shadow
o' the tree. For beautiful is the gracious order o' natur,
sirs, and we maunna think that the mystery o' life hasna its
ain virtues in the den o' the wild beast and the nest o' the
bird o' prey.
Tickler. And did not remorse smite you, James, for the
murder of those eaglets?
Shepherd. Aften, and sair. What business had I to be let
doun by a hair-rape intil their birthplace? And, alas! how
was I to be gotten up again — for nae hair-rape cam danglin
atween me and the darkenin weather-gleam. I began to
dout the efficacy of a deathbed repentance, as I tried to tak
account o' my sins a' risin up in sair confusion — some that I
had clean forgotten, they had been committed sae far back in
youth, and never suspected at the time to be sins ava, but
noo seemin black, and no easy to be forgiven — though boundless
be the mercy that sits in the skies. But, thank Heaven,
there was an end — for a while at least — o' remorse and repentance
— and room in my heart only for gratitude — for, as
if let doun by hands o' angels, there again dangled the
hair-rape wi' a noose-seat at the end o't, safer than a wicker-chair.
I stept in as fearless as Lunardi, and wi' my hauns
aboon my head glued to the tether — and my hurdies, and a'
aneath my hurdies, interlaced wi' a netwark o' loops and
knots, I felt mysel ascendin and ascendin the wa's, till I heard
the voices o' them hoistin. Landed at the tap, you may be
sure I fell doun on my knees — and while my heart was
beginnin to beat and loup again, quaked a prayer.
North. Thank ye, James. I have heard you tell the tale
better and not so well, but never before at a Noctes. Another
Shepherd. Na. Tibbie? The fish. (Enter TIBBIE with a
fish.) You see, sirs, I wasna leein about the sawmon. It cam
up in the seat o' the gig. Tibbie was for cuttin't into twa cuts,
but I like to see a sawmon served up in his integrity —
Tickler. And each slice should run from gill to tail.
Shepherd. Alang the shouthers and the back and the line,
in that latitude, for the thick; and along the side and the
belly and the line, in that latitude, for the thin; but nae
short-curd till in the mouth; and as for helpin yersel wi' a
fork and a bit breid — that's like some silly conceit o' a spiled
wean — and I am sure there's naebody here sae bairnly 's to
fear cuttin their mouth wi' a knife. The kyeanne pepper —
the mustard — the vinegar — the catshop — the Hervey sass —
the yest — and the chovies? Thank ye, Dolly, ma dear. Mair
butter, Tickler. North — put the mashed potawtoes on the
pairt o' my plate near the saut — and the round anes a bit
ayont. Tappy — the breid; and meanwhile, afore yokin to
our sawmon, what say ye, sirs, to a bottle o' porter?
[Three shots are heard — and three silver jugs, foam--
crowned, are duly administered and drained.
North. I forget, James, the weight of this fish?
Shepherd. Twunty pund.
North. We shall scarcely get through it — I fear — at one
Tickler. I begin to see the ribs and spine of the side to wind--
ward — but remember our friends in waiting —
Shepherd. What, sirs, could induce ye to tak so mony gillies
to the hill?
North. At this season, you know, James, the birds are wild,
and we should have had no sport without markers. We distributed
our forces judiciously along the heights, and kept
moving in a circle of scouts — that always commanded a wide
prospect. The birds finding themselves outwitted on their
widest flights, lost courage, and resorted to close-sitting — nor
had we occasion half-a-dozen times the whole day to fly the
Shepherd. What's that?
North. Ambrose, I believe, who, you know, is a Yorkshireman,
was the first to introduce the kite into the Forest. He
is constructed of paper, like the common kite, such as you see
flying over cities; but more bird-like, both in form and colour,
and Ambrose has painted him so cunningly, that but for his
length of tail, which is necessary to keep him steady, you
would not scruple to take a shot at him for a glead. King
Pepin and Sir David Gam work him to windward with much
judgment by the invisible string; and he looks so formidable
on the hover, now turning and now stooping, as if instinct with
spirit, that as long as he is aloft, not even the boldest old
black-cock of Thirlestane will dare to lift his head above the
rushes or the heather. By a signal he is brought to anchor —
Haco and Harold trot in — while all the dogs are backing one
another — whirr — whirr — slap — bang — and thud after thud —
right and left — from four blazing barrels — tumble the three
and four pounders, to the delight of Tappytoorie, who fastens
on them like a weasel.
Shepherd. I ca' that poachin. It's waur nor the real leevin
ggem-hawk — for the kivey hae to contend wi' pouther and
lead, forbye that pented deevil in the air — and half-dead wi'
fricht, hoo can it be expeckit that a single ane 'll be able to
mak his escape? We'll be hearin o' you usin the net neist,
clang wi' the broon-paper pented Yorkshire kite o' Awmrose.
Confoun' me, but the verra first time I catch him beatin to
windward, gin I dinna fire at him, and bring him waverin
doun, broken-backed, wi' his lang tail amang the rashes.
Tickler. What say you, Shepherd, to a glass of champagne?
Shepherd. That the best o't 's about equal to middlin sma'
Tickler. National prejudice. Tibbie?
[TIBBIE fills each man's longshank with a shower of diamonds.

Shepherd. Na, but that is prime — na, but that is maist delishous
— only it's a shame to drink outlandish liquors at half--
a-guinea a bottle, when you can get the best maut whusky for
less nor twa shillins. It's the duty.
North. You need not make yourself uneasy about the price,
James, for I can afford it.
Shepherd. It's weel for you, sir.
North. Prime cost, James — corks included — is sixpence a-bottle;
and now, sir, you have tasted TIBBIE'S GREEN GROZET¹
ST MARY, what are the vine-covered hills and gay regions of
France to the small, yellow, hairy gooseberry-gardens of your
own Forest!
Shepherd. I'll no draw back frae what I said in commendation
o't, but a' hame-made wines, and maist foreign anes, are
apt to gie me a pain in the stamack, and therefore if ye be
wiçe,² sirs, you'll join me in a caulker o' the cretur by way o'
sedative. I ken you deal wi' my freen Richardson o' Selkirk,
and there's no purer speerit than Richardson's best in a' the
south — for it's a composition o' a' the prime whuskys he can
collect, mixed up in due proportions, accordin to the relative
¹ Grozet — gooseberry.
² Wiçe — wise.
qualities o' each, and maist savoury and salutary is the ultimate
North. Tibbie, a bottle of Richardson's ULTIMATE RESULT.
[They attend to the Result.
Shepherd. Noo, I ca' this a meetin o' the True Temperance
Society. We are three auldish men, and hae had a hard day's
wark o' amusement — and it canna be denied that we hae earned
baith our meat and our drink. Fowl and fish we hae wan frae
air and water by our ain skill, and naebody 'll be the puirer
on account o' this day's pastime, or this nicht's — no even gin
we had taen each o' us anither tureen. It's heartsome to hear
the gillies lauchin at their vittals, in their ain dinin-room, and
frae this day, Mr Awmrose may date his lease o' a new life.
That's richt, Tibbie — tak them ben the sawmon, and put you
down the aipple-pie, the can o' cream, and the cheese. — (TIBBIE
takes them ben the salmon, and puts down the apple-pie, the
can of cream, and the cheese). — I'll defy a man to be a glutton
as lang's he's obedient to the dictates o' a healthy natural
appeteet, inspired by air and exercise in the Forest; and though
I'm an enemy to the mixin o' mony different dishes in the
stamack at ae diet, yet sic soups, and sic sawmon, and sic
aipple-pie, and sic cheese, will a' lie amicably thegither, nor
is there ony sense in sayin that sic porter will jummle wi' sic
cream. The champagne has been rectified, and a's safe. I
ca't a plain, simple, manly, substantial, Forest denner, in Tibbie's
ain unpretendin style; and hadna we limited it to our
ain killin, I ken we should hae had the hin' quarter o' a sheep
that's been in pickle sin' the last day o' hairst, and a breist
o' veal frae Bourhope, as white's a hen.
['TIBBIE sets down, with a smile, her own two dishes of mutton
and veal, with a fresh peck of potatoes from the dripping--
pan, and ditto of mashed turnips.
North. Excellent creature!
Shepherd. She's a' that — sir.
North. How virtuous is humble life! Question, if any one
but a Conservative can understand the domestic life of the
Shepherd. Nane else in our day has observed it in Scotland.

North. It is sustained by contentment — a habit of the
heart — and continuous custom seems essential to the formation
of that happiest of all habits which grows out of the quiet
experiences of days — weeks — months — years — all so like one
another in their flow, that the whole of life is felt, with its
occasional breaks and interruptions, to be one, and better for
them that under Providence enjoy it, than any other lot which
at times their hearts may long for, and their imaginations
Shepherd. The same stream flowin alang channels and
greener banks and braes.
North. Changes for the better, let us believe — and I do
believe it — are almost invariably taking place in such conditions,
as society at large progresses in knowledge, and as
there opens before all minds a wider and higher sphere of
feeling and of thought accessible through instruction.
Shepherd. In many respects, sir, the instruction is better.
North. Such belief is consolatory to all who love their
kind, and lament to know that there is so much wretchedness
in this weary world.
Shepherd. Education in the rural districts o' Scotland, I
doubt not, is mair carefu' and comprehensive than it was
forty years ago; would that it were as sure, sir, that the
hearts o' young and auld are as sensible to the habits and
duties o' religion! It may be sae — yet, methinks, there is no
the same earnestness and solemnity in the furrowed faces o'
the auld — the same modesty and meekness in the smooth
faces o' the young sitters in the kirk on Sabbath, which I
remember regarding sae reverently and sae affectionately half
a century ago! I fear there are mair lukewarm and cauldrife
Christians in the Forest wha consider Gospel truths like
ony ither truths, and the Bible like ony ither gude book — not
the Book in comparison wi' which a' ithers were worthless —
for not effectual like it to shed licht on the darkness o' the
grave! Yet I may be mistaen; for a' sweet thochts are sweeter,
and a' halt' thochts are halier, that carry my heart back to
the mornin o' life! And as the dew-draps seem to my een to
hae then been brichter and purer than they are noo — though
that can scarcely be — and the lang simmer-days far langer,
as weel as the gloamins langer too — which wasna possible —
sae human life itsel may be as fu' o' a' that's gude noo as it
was then; and the change — a sad and sair ane as I sometimes
feel — in me, and no in them about me, — and the same
lament for the same reason continue to be made by all that
are waxin auld — to the end o' time.
North. Ay, James, memory so beauties and sanctifies all
we loved in youth with her own mournful light, that it is not
in our power — we have not the heart — to compare them with
the kindred realities encircling our age; but for their own
dear, sweet, sad sakes alone — and for the sake of the grass on
their graves — we hold them religiously aloof from the affections
and the objects of our affections of a later day — in our
intercommunion with them it is that we most devoutly believe
in heaven.
Shepherd. You're growin over grave, sir, and maunna gie
way to the mood, lest it get the better o' you — though
it's natural to you, and, I confess, sits weel on your frosty
pow. The wand's better acquented noo wi' the character o'
Christopher North than it was some scores o' years sin'; and
the truth is, that, like a' them that's been baith wutty and
wise, he is constitutionally a melancholy man, and aften at
the verra time that he seems to be writin wi' a sunbeam,
"draps a sad serious tear upon his playful pen!"
North. The philosophy of truth, James, is pensive; it is
natural religion, and therefore humane — hence all that is
harsh falls away from it, all that is hateful; when purest and
highest it becomes poetry — and —
Shepherd. Wheesht, you mystic — and eat awa at your
North. I am at a loss to know, James, what the friends of the
people really think is the character of the people of England?
Shepherd. Sae am I.
North. They tell us — if I do not mistake them — that this is
the most enlightened age that has ever shone on life. They
seem to apply the praise, in the first place, to mind. It is
the age of useful and entertaining knowledge. But mind
enlightens heart — and the two together elevate soul — and the
three, like an angelic band floating in the air, connect earth
with heaven by an intermediate spirit of beauty and of bliss.
Shepherd. Is that what they say? For if it be, they maun be
fine fallows, and I put doun my name as a member o' the union.
North. They assert that knowledge is not only power, but
Shepherd. It is neither the ane nor the ither necessarily;
and I could pruve that they dinna understaun' their ain
North. Not now, James. Let us admit their doctrine — and
rejoice to know that we are the most enlightened people —
physically, morally, intellectually, spiritually — that ever
flourished on the face and bosom of the dædal earth.
Shepherd. I fear you and me's twa exceptions — at least I
can answer for mysel — for after when walkin in what seems
to me essential licht, through the inner warld o' thocht, a' at
ante it's pitch-dark! I'm like a man blind-faulded, and
obleeged to grope his way out o' a wudd by the trees, no able
to tell, but by a rough guess at the rind, whether he's handlin
an aik, or an ash, or an elm, or a pine, or a beech, or a plane
— and whatever they may be, geein himsel mony a sair knock
on the head, and losin his hat amang the branches that make
you desperate angry by floggin you on the face, and ruggin
out your hair, as your legs get entangled amang the briers.
The enlightened age — the speerit o' the age — shouldna hollow
till it gets out o' the wudd, sir.
North. Good, James. But what am I to think of the panegyrists
of the spirit of the age, when I am told by the same
oracles that there is not a virtuous unmarried woman among
the lower orders in all England?
Shepherd. You have only to think that they are a set o'
inconsistent and contradictory idiwuts, and a base gang o'
calumniators and obscene leears.
North. But I am a moderate man, and wish to have the
inconsistency explained — or removed — the libel made less
loathsome — and some apology offered to the sex.
Shepherd. Wha said it, and whare?
North. Parliament.
Shepherd. The Reform Bill, then, it seems, is no a feenal
measure, sir?
North. There is no mob nowadays, James — no rabble — no
swinish multitude —
Shepherd. I hate that epithet.
North. So do I. No scum — but the wives, daughters, and
sisters of all the working-men of England — are prostitutes.
Shepherd. A damm'd lee.
North. An infernal falsehood.
Shepherd. Yet the verra same brutes that hae said that o'
a' the English lassies in laigh life, wull break out on me and
you for swearin at a Noctes?
North. We have heard the Lord Chancellor of England,
and the Lord Bishop of London, announce this article of the
Christian creed — which unless we all hold, verily we cannot
be saved — that the sin of incontinence is infinitely worse in a
woman than in a man.
Shepherd. I thocht we had gude authority for believing woman
to be the weaker vessel.
North. That authority is discarded; for be it now known to
all men that they — not the maidens by whom they have been
wooed — are the victims of seduction.
Shepherd. That doctrine 'ill no gang doun; the kintra's no
ripe for 't yet; the verra pride o' man 'ill no alloo him to bolt
it; the unregenerate sinner, wicked as he is, daurna, even in
his seared conscience, sae offend again' the law o' nature
written by the finger o' God ineffaceably on his heart.
North. If the sin be so great in woman, why does man suffer
her to commit it?
Shepherd. Ay, ye may ask that at the Chancellor and the
Bishop, and pause till Doomsday for a reply. She canna commit
it by hersel; he is airt and pairt; no merely an accessory
afore and after the act; but —
North. Blind, brutal balderdash, born of the brothel.
Shepherd. In a far waur place — situate in a darker region
than the darkest lane in a' Lunnon.
North. Thus fortified by Law and Religion, a Christian
Legislature sets itself solemnly to work, to guard and save the
victims of seduction from suffering any pecuniary loss from
their misfortune, and enact that we poor, weak, deluded males
shall not henceforth be burdened by the support of the illegitimate
offspring we have been bedivelled to beget, but that
where the chief crime lies, there shall be dree'd the sole punishment,
and that the female fiends must either suckle their sin--
conceived at their own dugs, dry-drawn by penury, or toss
them into a workhouse!¹
Shepherd. Strang — strang — strang.
¹ "One of the principles of the new poor-law, as amended by the Whigs,
was, that if a woman had illegitimate offspring, she should have no claim on
the father towards its maintenance, for that she ought not to have allowed
herself to be seduced!" — American Editor.
North. One Bishop there was — James — an illustrious man
— who brought that doctrine to the test — and then held it up
in his eloquent hand — like withered fruit of nightshade.
"Show me a text — show me a text," was the cruel cry. No
— I show all mankind the New Testament — and opening the
leaves according to the Sortes Virgilianæ, I read almost the
first verse that meets mine eye, and may I never meet them I
love in heaven, if the spirit of that verse, and of every verse,
one merciful context, does not declare it to be the will of our
God and our Saviour, that sinful man — and we are all in such
eyes sunk in sin — shall sustain in life his own offspring — if he
will not seek for himself eternal condemnation by profaning
with his lips those few words of our divine Preceptor — "Give
us this day our daily bread!"
Shepherd. Say nae mair, sir — say nae mair. You ken I dinna
think sae verra muckle o' your writins, either by way o' prose
or verse; but whether in preevat or in public, when you choose
to let yoursel out, O, man! but you are an orator — the orator
o' the human race.
North. They say I cannot reason.
Shepherd. That's a lee. There lies your glory; for you deal
out intuitive truths ane after anither, till the tenor o' your
speech is like a string o' diamonds.
North. They say I have no logic.
Shepherd. You dinna condescend to chop logic wi' the adversary;
but if he be a man, ye gang up to him — face to face
— and knock him doun wi' ae blow on the heid, and anither
on the heart; if he be a shape o' Satan, you launch at him a
thunderbolt, and the sinner is reduced to ashes.
North (blushing like a pink). Then, James, the English are
all drunkards — and, day and night, worship Belial in the Temple
of Gin — and Beelzebub in the House of Heavy-Wet — and Lucifer
in the Abode of Brandy; and who says so, my dear Shepherd?
Shepherd. But the children o' Mammon.
North. Yes, James; who from the sweat of slaves, worked
to death in his sultry mines, extract the ether on which they
sustain their celestial lives, and the gorgeous dyes with which
they engrain their garments, as they sweep along the high
places, and take their seats on thrones within palaces, and
affront high heaven with blasphemy, forgetful in their pride
that they themselves are but worms.
Shepherd. Strang — strang — strang.
North. Great Britain is constantly drunk — therefore, let
there be no distillation from grain — let that spirit of the age
be all bottled up in Apothecaries' shops, and labelled — poison,
or medicine.
Shepherd. Like arsenic for rats or men.
North. If the English be, indeed, all irreclaimable drunkards,
some such remedial and preventive law seems to be demanded
— but by whom shall it be enacted? In the two sober Houses
of Parliament by general cock-crow? By steady representatives,
returned by constituents not able to stand?
Shepherd. Ach! the winebibbers!
North. If all the women in England who live by wages are
prostitutes — and all the men drunkards — I can imagine but
one event desirable for her good — an earthquake that shall
give her to be swallowed up by the sea.
Shepherd. Or fire frae Heaven that destroyed Sodom and
North. But such, thank God, is not yet the condition — distressful
though alas in much it be — of what was once merry
Shepherd. And I'll swear in the parritch face o' Silk Buckingham,
and a' the lave o' the milk-and-water committee, that
it's no the condition o' bonny Scotland.
North. Nor ever will be while she has a Christian church.
Shepherd. Hark hoo the voice o' the Forest — at this hour
sae saft and sweet — breathes o' contentment frae the sound,
healthy, heart o' the happy hills! The Flowers o' the Forest
are no' a' wede away — nor hae they been changed into weeds;
and although I lament to alloo that in touns and cities, where
countless creeds o' Christian creturs are congregated thegither,
and where wark set them by wealth suffers them too short and
seldom to pray, they ower aften seek renovation to their exhowsted
bodies by means o' what's even mair hurtfu' to their
wearied sowls, and thus fa' into the airms o' vice, the leper,
wha hauns them to death, the skeleton; yet seein as clearly as
that cluds are the cause o' rain, and cluds themsels vapours
frae the undrained earth and the undrainable sea, that the
great manufacturin and commercial system o' the kintra is the
cause o' a' their sins, sufferins, and sorrows, and that in spite
o' the ruination, multitudes, oh! micht I say the majority, hold
fast their integrity, and, slaves as they are, show their tyrants
and task-masters virtues which they haena the grace to comprehend,
far less to imitate; — I do not despair that a Law, far
beyond the sphere o' sic legislators as we hae been speakin o' —
a Law originatin in Heaven, and sanctioned in the heart — will
yet rule wi' a savin sway ower sic doleful regions, for doleful
they may weel be ca'd, since there famished folk forget their
hunger in their thirst, and flee to cursed gin for relief rather
than to blessed bread; — the Law o' Love and Religion, that
was frae the beginnin o' the warld, and was given us again
auchteen hundred years ago, in brichter licht than to the first
Adam, to us, the children o' Adam, and though obscured and
troubled by man's passions, that mak a' men at times seem
waur nor mad, shall yet shine through the huge city smoke
that the material day-spring canna penetrate, and establish an
illumination, not on the spires, and steeples, and towers alone
o' churches and cathedrals, although ever may they be held
sacred, but on the low-roofed houses o' the puirest o' the puir,
wherever twa or three are gathered together to worship the
Giver o' a' mercies, or to enjoy His mercies — say the frugal
meal industry has earned and piety blessed, or the hard bed
that seems saft to the sleep which nae evil conscience ever
haunts; — bed and sleep, emblems indeed o' death and the grave,
but only o' their rest, for a lamp burns beside them, let doun
frae the skies, which they hae but to feed wi' gude warks and
trim wi' the finger o' faith, and when they will wauken at last
in Heaven, they will know it was the lamp o' Eternal Life.
North (looking up at the Cuckoo). Eight o'clock! It is
Saturday night — and Tickler and I have good fourteen miles
to drive to the Castle of Indolence.
"O blest retirement! friend to Life's decline!''
Our nags must be all bedded before twelve — for there must
be no intrusion on the still hours of Sabbath. James, we
must go.
Shepherd. I declare I never observed Tibbie takin awa the
roasts! Sae charmed, sir, hae I been wi' your conversation,
that I canna tell whether this be my first, second, or third jug?
North. Your second.
Shepherd. Gude night.
[They finish the second jug, but seem unwilling to rise.
North. God bless you, my dearest James!
Shepherd. You're a kind-hearted cretur, sir.
North. I cannot lend my sanction, James, to sumptuary
Shepherd. What kind o' laws may they be? I never heard
tell o' them afore — but if they be laws anent eatin and drinkin
ony particular sort o' vivres, I gie ma vote for beginnin wi'
North. On what principle, James?
Shepherd. On the principal o' principles — Justice. Our
legislators — that's the maist feck o' them — belang to the
upper ranks — at least, members o' Parliament are seldom seen
hedgin and ditchin, or knappin stanes — excepp it may be
for their ain amusement, in avenues and the like; and still
seldomer working at the haun-loom, or takin tent o' the
power-loom, or overlookin ony great instrumental establishment
o' spindles obedient to the command o' steam.
North. Steam is a tyrant.
Shepherd. He's a' that — and his subjects are slaves. But
what I was gaun to say was this — that our legislators maun
be better acquented wi' the gude and ill o' their ain condition
o' life than wi' them o' that aneath it, for personal experience
is the surest teacher o' truth. Now, sir, hard-workin
folk dinna for ordinar drink wine; and I dinna pity them, for,
to my taste, wine's wersh, and it aye sours on my stamack,
and bein' made o' mere frute it can hae nae nourishment.
Still the gentry like it, and get fou on't — or if no fou, they
drink daily sufficient to sap thousans o' constitutions — forbye
injuring their fortunes by the annual expense o' importation.
Let a' foreign wines then be excluded by ack o' Parliament,
makin it felony, punishable by transportation for life, to hae
aboon half-a-dizzen o' ony ae kind in a preevat cellar — wi' a
provision legaleezin the sale thereof in Apothecaries' shops
alang wi' ither droggs — to be selt in thummlefu's, per permit.
After an experiment o' a few years' trial, the gentry will be
able to judge, not only hoo they like the law, but hoo its operation
agrees wi' their health. They will then be able, wi' a
gude grace, to ca' the attention o' the lower orders to the
temperance o' the higher — and as the example o' our superiors
is powerfu', sobriety will be seen descendin by degrees through
all grawds till it reaches even the tinklers — and then the ack
may be extended to speerits frae sugar and grain, without ony
national convulsion, but a slicht sneeze.
North. I grieve to think that the lower orders should be
so addicted to this most pernicious vice. But like all other
evil habits, it can be prevented or cured but by moral influences
— and, in my opinion, to expect to see that done by
Act of Parliament, betrays a lamentable ignorance of human
Shepherd. Waur than that — cruel injustice in them who
seek to hae recourse to sic measures. They winna suffer ony
interference in their ain vices — or rather they ken that mony
o' them in which they shamelessly indulge, are o' a kind that
nae law can weel tak haud o'; and while they enjoy their
ain luxuries without stint, their ain vices and their sins, they
froon on the far mair excusable frailties o' the puir, exaggerate
them out o' a' measure, and to prevent excesses, which all
gude men must deplore, would, without compunction, cut awa
comforts frae that condition, which, rather than curtail, a gude
man would put baith hauns into the fire.
North. Luxury hardens the heart.
Shepherd. Maks it fat or fozie — fu' o' creesh or wund.
North. How did the Drunken committee vote on the Malt
Shepherd. I really canna say. But I fear thae beer-houses
are bad places; and I'm sure that folk are no like to mak
themsels fou on hame-brewed yill — for the speerit o' domestic
comfort's a sober speerit, though a gladsome — and the maister
o' the maut, at his ain fireside, has every reason to preserve
moderation at the cheerfu', hamely meal, enlivened by the
liquor flowin frae the produce o' his ain farm. But the incidence
o' taxation's a kittle problem — and, I confess, no for
a shepherd to solve. Only this is sure, that taxation is a
burden that a' ought to bear alike, accordin to the strength o'
their shouthers; sae that your political economists maun
begin wi' ascertainin the strength o' folk's shouthers, or they
will alloo thousans and tens o' thousans to walk wi' their
backs straucht and no an unce on the nape o' their necks,
while they oppress as mony mair beneath a hunderwecht,
that lang ere the close o' this life's darg bows their foreheads
to the dust.
North. James, a little while ago you delivered one of the
longest sentences of perfect grammatical construction I remember
since the days of Jeremy Taylor.¹
Shepherd. Was't grammatical? That's curious, for I never
learned grammar.
North. One seldom hears a speaker get out of a long sentence
till after the most fearful floundering —
Shepherd. Perhaps 'cause he has learned what grammar is,
without ha'in acquired the power o' observin't! whereas the
like o' me, wha kens naething about it, instinctively steers
clear o' a' difficulties, and comes out at the end, bauldly shakin
his head, like a stag frae a wudd, hungry for the mountains.
North. James, the days are fast shortening — alas! alas!
Shepherd. Let them shorten. The nichts 'ill be sae muckle
the langer — and "mortal man, who liveth here by toil," hae
mair time for waukin as weel as for sleepin rest. Wunter,
wild as he sometimes is, is a gracious Season — and in the
Forest I hae kent him amaist as gentle as the Spring. Indeed,
he seems to me to be gettin safter and safter in his temper
ilka year. Frost is his favourite son — and I devoutly howp
there 'll never be ony serious quarrel atween them twa; for
Wunter never looks sae cheery as when you see him gaun
linkin haun in haun wi' fine black Frost. Snaw is Frost's
sister, and she's a bonny white-skinned lassie, wi' character
without speck or stain. She cam to see us last Christmas,
but staid only about a week, and we thocht her lookin rather
thin; but the morning afore she left us, I happened to see her
on the hill at sunrise — and oh! what a breist!
North. Like that of the sea-mew or the swan.
Shepherd. Richt. For o' a' the birds that sail the air, thae
twa are surely the maist purely beautifu'. Then they come
and they gae just like the snaw. You see the mew fauldin
her wings on the meadow as if she were gaun to be for lang
our inland guest — you see the swan floatin on the loch as if
she had cast anchor for the Wunter there — you see the snaw
settled on the hill as if she never would forsake the sun who
looks on her with saftened licht — but neist mornin you daunner
out to the brae — and mew, swan, and snaw are a' gane — melted
into air — or flown awa to the sea.
North. These images touch my heart. Yet how happens it
that my own imagination does not supply them, and that your
¹ See ante, vol. ii. p. 129.
my dear Shepherd, have to bring them before the old man's
Shepherd. Because I hae genie.
North. And I, alas! have none.
Shepherd. Dinna look sae like as if you was gaun to fa'
a-greetin — for I only answered simply a simple question, and
was far frae meanin to deny that you had the gift.
North. But I canna write a sang, Jamie — I canna write a
Shepherd. Nor sing ane verra weel either, sir; for, be the
tune what it may, ye chant them a' to "Stroudwater," and I
never hear you without thinkin that you would hae made — a
monotonous ane to be sure, but a pathetic precentor. O but
hoo touchingly would ye hae gien out the line!
North. Allan Cunningham, and William Motherwell, and
you, my dear James, have caught the true spirit of the old
traditionary strain — and, seek the wide world, where will there
be found such a lyrical lark as he whom, not in vain, you three
have aspired to emulate — sweet Robbie Burns?
Shepherd. That's richt, sir. I was wrang in ever hintin ae
word in disparagement o' Burns's Cottar's Saturday Night. But
the truth is, you see, that the subjeck's sae heaped up wi'
happiness, and sae charged wi' a' sorts o' sanctity — sae national
and sae Scottish — that beautifu' as the poem is — and really,
after a', naething can be main beautifu' — there's nae satisfyin
either peasant or shepherd by ony delineation o't, though drawn
in lines o' licht, and shinin equally wi' genius and wi' piety.
That's it. Noo, this is Saturday nicht at Tibbie's — and,
though we've been gey funny, there has been naething desecratin
in our fun, and we'll be a' attendin divine service the
morn — me in Yarrow, and you, Mr North, and Mr Tickler, and
the lave o' you, in Ettrick kirk.
North. And, James, we can nowhere else hear Christianity
preached in a more fervent and truthful spirit.
Shepherd. Naewhere. — Do you see, sir, that splendid and
magnificent assemblage o' towers and temples far ben in the
heart o' that fire o' peat and wudd? See! see! how they sink
and settle doun in the flames! I prophesy the destruction o'
baith Houses o' Parliament. Oh spare, thou devourin element!
Oh spare, I beseech thee, that ancient Ha'; spare, oh, spare,
that ancient Abbey, where the banes o' the michty dead repose
— nor lick up wi' ony ane o' thy thousan' forked tongues the
holy dust on their tombs!
North. Thou seer!
Shepherd. Noo, mind my words. I dinna say that they're
burnin at this very minute — for that spectacle may either be
shadowin forth the past or the future — but I say that they are
either burnin, or hae been burned, or will be burned within a
week's time, and
"That the blackness of ashes shall mark where they stood."
The Lords' House and the Commons' House — but that the
fire shall spare the auld Ha', and the auld Abbey — for look!
look! how they stand unscathed, while all about them smoulders!¹
And see na you, sir, that globe o' safter licht hangin
ower them, as if it were the image o' the moon, happy to see
them safe frae her watch-tower in the sky?
North. Where? where?
Shepherd. A's gane. Tickler has seen naethin o' this prefigurin
revelation. That comes o' fa'in asleep.
North. I shall awake him — (vainly shaking Timothy).
Shepherd. Whattt?
North. Let him sleep.
Shepherd. Oh! sir! but yon was a delichtfu' meeting at New--
Inn, Tushielaw. His Lordship 'ill no be sorry to hear o't in
Cheena — or as Bourhope weel ca'd it out o' the poet, "far
Cathay;" for the account, when it reaches him, will shaw that
"though absent lang and distant far," he and his fair gude
leddy, and their beautifu' family, are no forgotten in the Forest,
but that a' hearts will keep beatin warmly towards them till
their happy return.² Saw ye ever, sir, a mair enthusiastic
¹ Both Houses of Parliament were burnt down in October 1834.
² At this time there had been a meeting of Lord Napier's tenantry at New--
Inn, Tushielaw, to celebrate his Lordship's birthday. "In 1833 Lord Napier
was appointed superintendent of the trade and interests of the British nation
in China. He reached Macao in July 1834; but the Governor of Canton appeared
desirous of preventing him from going up to Canton, until the imperial
pleasure on that head had been received from Pekin. Lord Napier persevered,
went to the British factory at Canton in July 1834, and refused to comply with
the Governor's edicts, that he should return to Macao. On this, commercial
relations between the British and Chinese merchants were prohibited by the
Governor. Two British frigates, the Imogene and Andromache, which Napier
sent up the Bogue river, were fired upon by the Chinese forts. In return, the
frigates battered down the forts on 7th September. On that day week Napier
pairty? It was a tribut — and nae humble ane either — to vertue;
and the anniversary o' Lord Napier's birthday will be commemorated
in the Forest, wi' unceasin kindness, ilka year till
some bonny ship, sailin through the sunshine, or flingin aff
the storms frae her sails, brings them a' back again to Ettrick,
and in a few weeks we forget that they ever were awa. Here's
their health wi' a' the honours.
North. The Master of Napier, and his brother in Germany

Shepherd. A' — a' — a' — God bless them! — the pawrent birds
— and the weel-feathered young anes — o' baith sexes — wha
hae flown in howp and beauty frae their sylvan hill-nest.
[Shepherd's Toast is drunk with all the honours.
Tickler (starting up). Hurra, hurra, hurra! — hip, hip, hip
— hurra, hurra, hurra, hurra! hurra! hurra!
Shepherd. Gie's your haun, sir, Mr Tickler — sense and feelin
are wi' you in your verra sleep.
(Enter CAMPBELL to tell the Gigs are at the door.)
North (sub dio). "How beautiful is night!"
Shepherd. That's Southey. In fowre words, the spirit o'
the skies.
North. Not one star.
Shepherd. Put on your specks, and you'll see hunders. But
they are saft and dim — though there is nae mist — only a kind
o' holy haze — and their lustre is abated by the dews. I
thocht it had been frost; but there's nae frost — or they would
be shinin clearly in thousans —
North. Like angel eyes.
Shepherd. A common comparison — yet no the waur for that
— for a' humanity feels, that on a bricht starry night, heaven
keeps watch and ward over earth, and that the blue lift is instinct
wi' love.
North. Where's the moon?
Shepherd. Lookin at her a' the time wi' a gratefu' face, that
smiles in her Licht! as if you were gaun to sing a sang in her
praise, or to say a prayer.
became seriously indisposed, returned -to Macao, and died there on the 11th
October 1834. The events in which he thus took part were assigned as justification
of the war subsequently waged by Great Britain upon China." —
American Editor. In the summer of 1834, Professor Wilson and his family
occupied Lord Napier's seat, Thirlestane Castle, not far from which, St Mary's
Loch, the scene of the present dialogue, is situated.
North. No halo.
Shepherd. The white Lily o' the sky.
North. No rain tomorrow, Shepherd.
Shepherd. No a drap. 'Twull be a real Sabbath day. Ye
see the starnies noo — dinna ye, sir? Some seemin no farrer
awa nor the moon — and some far ahint and ayont her, but still
in the same region wi' the planet — ithers retiring and retired
in infinitude — and sma' as they seem, a' suns! Awfu' but
sweet to think on the great works o' God! — But the horses 'ill
be catchin cauld — and a' that they ken is, that it's a clear
nicht. Lads, tak care o' the dowgs, that they dinna break the
couples, and worry sheep. You'll be at the Castle afore Mr
North — for it's no aboon five mile by the cut across the hills
— and no a furlong short o' fourteen by the wheel road. — (They
ascend their Gigs.) — For Heaven's sake! sir, tak tent o' the
Norways! Haco's rearin, and Harold's funkin — sic deevils!
Tickler. Whew! Whew! Whew! D. I. O. North! Do
— Da — Do — Tibi Gratias! Farewell — thou Bower of Peace!
(DECEMBER 1834.)
Scene, — Old Blue Parlour, Ambrose's, Gabriel's Road.¹
Shepherd. What'n a nicht! Only hear to that lum — as if
a park o' artillery were firin a salute in the sky. But a salute
or salvo seldom consists o' mair than a hunder guns, and
these aerial engines hae been cannonadin for hours on end, as
if the North and the East Wund were fechtin a pitched battle
wi' the South and the West for the Empire o' Darkness. In
such a hurricane, I could pity the Moon — but then to be sure
she has her ain Cave o' Peace, star-roofed, in a region sacred
frae a' storms.
North. Poetry!
Shepherd. There goes an auld woman² frae the chumley-tap,
rattlin doun the sclates, to play crash amang the cats in the
Tickler. Painting!
Shepherd. Blash awa, Sleet! thou wishy-washy-faced
dochter o' Rain and Snaw! Blatter awa, Rain! thou cloud--
begotten son o' Uranus! Drift awa, Snaw! thou flaky
family o' Dew and Frost, embracing on their air-bed in the
lift wi' mirk curtains, and stock ice-congealed yet thaw--
drippin — and aften sinkin doun till it settle on some mountain-tap
where the pine-trees daurna grow!
North. Fancy! Imagination!
Shepherd. O the power o' Glass! Yet what is't to the
power o' the human Ee! Licht, I'm tauld, is driven frae the
¹ Ambrose had about this time returned to his old premises in Gabriel's
² A revolving iron chimney-top.
sun to the earth some hunder million o' miles or thereabouts
in minutes fewer in number than my fingers — and yet hoo
saftly it solicits the een o' us mortal creturs, for whom it was
there prepared! And what pleasure it gies the pupil devoutly
learnin to read the sky!
Tickler. Philosophy!
Shepherd. It's just the nicht, sirs, for het toddy and caller
(Enter MR AMBROSE with the Natives.)
North. Ambrose! In the Blue Parlour met once more!
"Three blither hearts
You may not find in Christandie."
[AMBROSE deposits the Barrel, and rushes out quite overpowered
by his emotions.
Shepherd. Puir fallow! — he's the verra child o' Sense and
Sensibility! — What? You're greetin too! The tears rap-rap--
rappin doun your nose like hailstanes, and jumpin on the rug!
North (wiping his eyes). Old Times so hurried upon my
heart —
Shepherd. That you could but gasp — and glower like a
Goshawk or a Hoolet.
North. Here was writ the Chaldee MSS.! Here — in that
closet sat Gurney — a novice from Norwich — taking down
NOCTES AMBROSIANÆ, No. I.! And now they have almost
reached the natural term of man's life — Threescore and Ten!
Voice. Seventy but One.¹
Shepherd. That cretur's vice aye gars me a' grue. Fule
that I was to save him frae droonin in the Yarrow! But a
braw time's comin, and the auld saw will be confirmed —
Short-Haun' 'ill be Lang-Neck afore he gie's up the ghost.
Tickler. I never heard of the rescue.
Shepherd. He enjoined silence; but you see, sirs, naething
wad satisfy the cretur, when ye were a' in the Forest, but that
he too maun try the Fishin. Sae takin a baggy-mennon-net,²
he sallies out ae mornin afore the smoke had left the lum,
and awa doun to Yarrow brig for what he ca'd bait for the
swivel. Our rivers, ye ken, are rather deceptive to strangers,
and Girrny thocht you saft smooth flowin o' liquid licht a
fuird! He never considered that a brig's never built over a
¹ This number includes those Noctes which were not written by Professor
² A net for catching minnows.
fuird; sae in he gangs intil what seemed to his ee some sax--
inch deep o' water, just coverin the green glimmerin gravel —
and at the second step — plump outower head and ears, like a
pearl-diver or water-hen.
Tickler. Who saw him dive?
Shepherd. I saw him dive. I had happened to rise early,
and was leanin ower the ledge, spittin wafers into the water.
My first fear was that he was committin suicide, and I stood
switherin for a while whether or no to prevent him effectin
his purpose, for he has lang been the plague o' my life, and
his death wad be a great riddance. By-and-by, he maks his
appearance on the surface, shoutin and gullerin like a hoolet
on a dyuck's back, and then doun again, wi' his doup in the
air, and up again five or sax times, as if he had been gamesome
and was takin a recreation to whet his appeteet for the
barley-scones and fresh butter at breakfast. I couldna but
wonder at his activity, for it seemed equal to that o' ony otter.
This couldna hae lasted aboon some ten minutes or less, when
he began to wax weakish, and to stay rather langer at a time
aneath than seemed consistent wi' prudence; sae I walked
hooly¹ doun to the bank, and cried on him to come out, unless
he was set on felo-de-se. I do not believe that he heard me, for
he was now lyin yellow at the bottom, as still as a sawmon.
North. You leistered him?
Shepherd. I did.
Tickler. And resuscitated him according to the rules prescribed
by the Humane Society?
Shepherd. I hate a' newfangled schemes o' resuscitation, or
onything else; and acted as my forefathers o' the Forest hae
done for a thousand years. I just took him by the heels, and
held him up wi' his heid dounmost, to alloo the water an opportunity
o' rinnin out o' his mouth; and I can assure you,
sirs, that the opportunity wasna negleckit, for it gushed as if
frae the stane mouth o' the image o' a fountain, and ran back
into the Yarrow like a wee waterfa'. You can imagine what
a relief it was to the cretur's stamack, and he began to spur.
But I knew better than to reverse his position, and held him
perpendicular to the last drap. I then let him doun a' his
length on his back; and the sun comin out frae behint a
cloud, rekindled the spark o' life, till it shone on his rather
¹ Hooly — leisurely.
insignificant feturs, relaxing into a smile. He then began to
bock dry — was convulsed — drew up his legs — streekit them
out again — flang about his arms — clenched his hauns —
whammled his-sel ower on his groof — bat the gerse¹ — opened
his een — muttered — and lo! there was my gentleman sittin
on his doup, and starin at me as if I had been the deil. We
got him carried up into the Gordon Arms — pitten into the
blankets — wi' bottles o' het water at his soles — and rubbed
him ower wi' saut, till he was as red as a labster. What'n a
breakfast didna he devoor!
Voice. A true bill.
North. Ah! Gurney! these were happy days in the Forest.
How different now our doom!
Shepherd. You're no like the same man, sir. Oh! but you
were a buirdly auld carle in yon Peebles plush sportin-jacket,
Galashiels tartan trousers, Moffat hairy waistcoat, Hawick
rig-and-fur stockins, and Thirlestane trampers a' studded wi'
sparables, that carried destruction amang the clocks. On the
firm sward you carried alang wi' you an earthquake — and as
ye strode alang the marshes, how the quagmires groaned!
North. I stilted the streams in spate, James, as a heron
stilts the shallows in midsummer drought.
Shepherd. And noo ye hirple alang the floor like the shadow
o' a hare by moonlicht, and sit on your chair like a ghaist
leanin on its crutch. Och-hone-aree!
North. James!
Shepherd. Forgie me, sir, but tenderness will tell the truth:
Embro' doesna agree wi' you, sir. Pitch your perennial tent,
sir, in the Forest, and you will outlive the crow.
North (showing a toe). Are these spindleshanks?
Shepherd. Frae the bottom o' my sowl I wuss they were —
but, alas! they are but wunnlestraes! The speeder wadna
trust himsel to what's sae slender — the butterflee wad fear to
sit doun on sic a fragile prap. You're a wee, wizened,
wrinkled, crunkled, bilious bit body, that the wund could carry
awa wi' a waff.² And a' the wark o' ae single month! Come
and keep your Christmas at least wi' your freens in the
Forest —
Tickler. Curse the country in winter.
Shepherd. Wheesht — wheesht — wheesht! That's a fear¹
Bit the grass.
² Waff — puff.
some sentiment. Eat in your words, sir — eat in your words;
for though I ken you're no serious, and only want to provoke
the Shepherd, I canna thole the thocht o' impiety toward the
hoary year.
Tickler. I am an idiot. Your hand, my dear James.
Shepherd. There's them baith.
North. This was the Shortest Day — you remember this
Year's Longest Day, James?
Shepherd. And wull till I dee!
North. It resembled some one or other of those Longest
Days that, half a century ago, used to enshroud us in the
imagery of some more celestial sphere than our waning life
now inhabits — when, between sunrise and sunset, lingeringly
floated by what was felt in its bliss and beauty to be a whole
Golden Age!
Shepherd. I shouldna hae been sorry to hae said that mysel,
sir, for it's rather — verra — beautifu'; and the expression, while
it is rich, is simpler than your usual style, which, I canna help
thinkin, has a tendency to the ower ornate.
North. You think no such thing, James. But let the foolish
world persist in the utterance of any bit of nonsense, and
even men of genius, in spite of their hearts, will begin to repeat
the cry.
Shepherd. I daursay you're richt. Tak time, and stretch't
out till it becomes an invisible line, and then is felt to break,
yet shall ye not be able to lengthen out a day now into the
endurance o' an hour,
"In life's morning march when the spirit was young."
North. I recoil from the very imagination of those interminable
day-dargs¹ of delight, when earth's realities were all
splendid as dreams; and yet dreams there were that extinguished
even those lustrous realities, in which we took our
seats upon thrones among the Sons of the Morning, and felt
privileged in our pride to walk through the Courts of Heaven.
Shepherd. But our verra dreams, sir, are dulled noo; — on
their breakin, we dinna feel noo as we used to do then, as if
fallen to earth frae sky! The warld o' sleep is noo but different
frae the wauken world in being somewhat sadder, and
somewhat mair confused; and ane cares but little noo, sir,
¹ Day-darg — day's work.
about either lying doun or rising up, for some great change
has been wrocht within the mysterious chambers o' the brain
and cells o' the heart, and life's like a faded flower, scentless
and shrivelled, yet are we loth to part with it, and even howp
against a' howp that baith colour and brichtness may revive.
But inexorable is the law o' the Dust.
North. Cheer up — cheer up, James!
Shepherd. But you'll no let me — for your face is as wintry--
like as if it had never known a simmer smile. Lauch, sir —
lauch — and I'll do my best to be happy.
North (smiling). Time and place are as nothing to a wise
man. My mind my kingdom is — and there I am monarch of
all I survey.
Shepherd. Weel quoted. But isna the Forest exceedin
fair? And mayna the joy o' imagination, broodin open-eyed
on its sift silent hills — ilka range in itsel like a ready-made
dream — blend even wi' that o' conscience — till the sense o'
beauty is felt to be almost ane wi' the sense o' duty, sae
peacefu' is all around in nature, and all within the Shepherd's
heart! I felt sae last Sabbath, as we were comin frae the
kirk; for though the second Sabbath o' November — a season
when I've kept the weather wild — sae still was the air, and in
the mild sun sae warm, that but I missed the murmur o' the
bee, I could hae thocht it simmer, or the glimpsin spring.
North. I have heard it said, my dear James, that shepherds,
and herdsmen, and woodsmen, and peasants in general, have
little or no feeling of the beauty of Nature. Is that true?
Shepherd. It canna weel be true, sir, seein that it's a lee.
They hae eon and ears in their heids, and a' the rest o' the
seven senses — and is't denied that they hae hearts and sowls?
Only grant that they're no a' born blin' and deaf — and that
there's a correspondency atween the outward and the inward
warlds — and then believe if you can, that the sang o' a bird,
and the scent o' a flower, or the smell o't, if it hae nae scent,
isna felt to be delichtfu' by the simplest, ay, rudest heart,
especially after a shower, and at the comin' out o' the
North. Help yourself, my dear James.
Shepherd. They dinna flee into raptures at rocks, like toun
folks, for that's a' folly or affectation; nor weary ye wi' nonsense
about sunrise and sunset, and clouds and thunder, and
mist stealin up the hills, and siclike clishmaclavers¹ — but they
notice a' the changes on nature's face, and are spiritually
touched — believe me, sir — by the sweeter and the mair solemn
— the milder or the mair magnificent — for they never forget
that nature is the wark o' an Almighty hand — and there is
nae poetry like that o' religion.
North. Go on, James.
Shepherd. Is there nae description o' the beauty o' nature
in the Bible? All the Christian world mair dearly loves the
lily o' the field, for sake of a few divine words. None but
poor men now read the New Testament. By none — I mean
too few — they who do chiefly live in rural places — and how
can they be insensible to the spirit breathing around them
from the bosom of the happy earth?
North. Go on, my dear James.
Shepherd. Wha wrote a' our auld sangs? Wha wrote a' the
best o' our ain day? In them is there nae love o' nature?
Wha sing them? Wha get them by heart that canna sing?
Lads and lassies o' laigh degree — but what signifies talkin —
only think on that ae line,
"The Flowers o' the Forest are a' wede awa!"
North. You need say no more, James.
Shepherd. Simple folk, sir, never think o' expatiatin on the
beauties o' natur. A few touches suffice for them; and the
mair homely and familiar and common, the dearer to their
hearts. The images they think of are never far-fetched, but
seem to be lying about their very feet. But it is affection or
passion that gives them unwonted beauty in their eyes, and
that beauty is often immortalised by Genius that knows
not it is Genius — believing itself to be but Love — in one
happy word.
North. James, what is Beauty?
Shepherd. The feeling o' Pure Perfection — as in a drap o'
dew, a diamond, or a tear. There the feeling is simple; but
it is complex as you gaze on a sweet-brier arrayed by Morn in
millions o' dew-draps — or on a woman's head, dark as nicht,
adorned wi' diamonds as wi' stars — or on a woman's cheek,
where the smile canna conceal the tear that has just fallen, in
love or pity, frae her misty een, but the moment afore bricht--
blue as the heavenliest spot o' a' the vernal skies.
¹ Clishmaclavers — senseless jargon.
Tickler. Here come the oysters.
(Enter MR AMBROSE, solus, with more Natives.)
Shepherd. What newspaper's that?
North. Bell's Life in London — worth all the other Weeklies
in a bunch — Examiner, Spectator, Atlas, and the rest.
Shepherd. Dinna say sae, sir.
North. Well — I won't. Indeed, it is not true; for the
papers I have mentioned — though I hate their politics as I
hate the gates of hell — are in much admirable — and the three
ablest of the kind ever published in Britain. But. Bell's Life
in London is the best sporting paper that ever flourished, and
will circulate all over the Island long after many a philosophical
penny-wiseacre, that pretends to despise it, has gone
the way of all flesh.
Shepherd. Mair nor ane o' our farmers taks it in — and it
used to be weel thoomed by your friend the Flying Tailor.
Indeed, he had it filed for some years, and it brocht a great
price at the sale o' his leebrary. Puir fallow! wi' what pride
he used to turn up the leaf in ane o' the files, containin the
account o' his beatin Christopher North at hap-step-and-loup!
North. That's a lie, James. Bell's Life in London had then
no existence.
Shepherd. Sae you confess he beat you?
North. It never was in his breeches; but I merely said,
"that's a lie — Bell's Life in London had then no existence."
We leapt, it is true
Shepherd. And he beat ye a' to sticks. But what for said
ye "that's a lie"? I'm never sae rude. I only say, when
you happen to deviate frae the truth, "that's a lee." Noo,
there's an essential difference atween thae twa words. "That's
a lie" — pronounced in what tone you will — is aye felt to be
rather insultin; "that's a lee" — especially if pronounced wi'
a sort o' a lauch — is but a britherly intimation that you should
tak tent o' what you're sayin; for that, if you do not, everybody
mayna choose to answer ye sae ceevilly, but may even
impeach your veracity in direct terms.
North. It is a Chronicle — and a fair, and faithful, and most
animated one — of the manly amusements of the gentlemen
and the people of England — the Turf — the Chase — all the
sports and games of the Field.
Shepherd. It's a curious fact, sir, o' my idiosyncrasy —
North. Your what, James?
Shepherd. Na — catch me, after gettin safely through a word
o' sax syllables, tryin the adventure again the same nicht.
But it's a curious fact o' my peculiar conformation o' character,
that I tak the intensest interest in reading about actions and
events that I wouldna gang a mile o' gate to see. There's
horse-racin, on a regular coorse at Musselburgh, for purse,
plate, or steaks. Naething to me mair wearisome in this
wearisome world.
North. The Caledonian Hunt!
Shepherd. There sit the leddies in the grand-staun, sae high
up, that for onything you can tell they may a' hae bairds.
North. Ho! ho! you never look at the race.
Shepherd. The blaw o' the bonnets is bonny aneuch, and
sae is a tulip-bed; but if a man in a booth below bids ye admire
the beauty in the pink pelisse, they hae a' pink pelisses,
or purple anes, which is just the same thing; and your een,
after a' their glowerin, are just as likely as no to fa' on the
blowzy face o' some auld dowager.
Tickler. A just punishment.
Shepherd. I've seen some gey bonny faces in the hired landaus
clang the rapes — and the lassies in thorn are aye ready
to gie a body a nod or a wink; but sic vehicles, it seems, are
no reckoned genteel, though fu' o' parasols.
Tickler. They cannot possibly be vulgar, James, if full of
Shepherd. I thocht he had been sleepin. I gie a penny for
a bill, and try to mak out the colour o' the horses and their
riders. But a's initials. Why no prent meres, geldings, staigs,
fillies, colts, and the rest o' the rinnin horses, at full length, to
prevent confusion? I've compared them severally wi' the paper,
ane after anther, as they cantered by the staun afore the start,
and never yet could identify a single naig wi' his description.
The uniform o' the jockeys is even mair puzzlin — sae that the
minute after layin a croon, nae idea hae I on what beast I
hae betted, when aff they set, a' haudin in, as if the race was
to be won by the hindmost, and I tell my neighbour to let me
ken whan they are beginnin to mak play.
North. That you may hedge ?
Shepherd. I hae aye had mair sense. For what's the use
o' hedgin on a green jacket when he comes in a black ane?
or on a black mere when she comes in a broon horse? or cryin
"Crimson for a croon," meanin him that's a hunder and
fifty yards afore a' the lave, when, after the heat, a wee wickit
vretch, wi' a lang waistcoat and tap-boots, taps you on the
shouther, and hands out his haun, swearing that Purple has
won in a canter, and that him that was really Crimson had
broke doun, and was limpin by the distance-post?
North. On what principle do you make up your Book?
Shepherd. What'n book?
North. Your bet-book.
Shepherd. Catch me wi' a pocket-book o' ony kind on a racegrund.
But the race was to hae been in heats. Ae horse wons
ae heat — and anither horse wons anither — but never by ony
accident him or her I was supposed to be bettin on, though I
was not; and now, after a lang delay, and frequent ringin o'
bells, comes what a' men are justifeed in believing to be the
heat decisive o' the steaks. The horses do indeed seem most
uncommon sleek and dry, and their colours not only to have
brightened up most uncommon, but to have undergone a great
change — for, lo and behold! an iron-grey and a chestnut, which
I had never observed in the twa first heats — and, mair extraordinary
still, and as appears to me no fair, five horses in the
whole in place o' fowre — that set aff like a whurlwund! I cry,
"Purple a pound!" certain that I am takin the naig that wan
the last heat in a canter. The twa miles are ran in little mair
than three minutes — and the same wee wickit vretch wi' the
lang waistcoat and tap-boots taps me again on the shouther,
and hauding out his open haun, swears that nae jockey wore
purple; and I discover, to my consternation, that this was a
different race — atween different horses — wi' different riders —
and for different steaks — for that the ither race was as gude as
dune; — fand there by-and-by comes Purple to canter the
coorse by himsel, as the condition was heats.
North. Done brown, James, on both sides, like a bit of dry
Shepherd. O' the twunty thousand folk present, I dinna believe
aboon five hunder ken, o' their ain knowledge, wha wons
or wha loses a single steak.
North. Your losses have soured you, James, with the turf.
Shepherd. I alloo my losses hae been considerable — for I
canna hae lost at Musselburgh, during the last five years, less
than five pounds sterling.
North. Per annum?
Shepherd. Heaven forbid! A'thegither. Frae which you may
deduct fifteen shillins won frae a lang clever chiel o' your
acquentance in spectacles — wha's sand-blin' — and mistook a
bricht bay for a moose colour, and because he happened to hae
a rat tail.
North. Well — it cannot be said, after all, that you have
dearly purchased your experience and disgust.
Shepherd. I hae cheaply purchased my delicht in the turf.
I tak in the New Sporting Magazine.
North. That is right. So do I. The editor is a gentleman
— of that his very name is an assurance — and he is also a
Shepherd. And the auld Sporting Magazine too.
North. That is right. So do I. I have taken it for nearly
forty years! Hambletonian and Diamond! That was a race.
Sir Joshua and Filho da Puta! That was another. The first
is now an old story — nor the second a new one: there were
racers in those days.
Shepherd. And are now.
North. Plenipo? Bah! Bah! Bah!
Shepherd. But, sir, wasna ye gaun to defend Bell's Life in
London frae the charge o' blackguardism brocht lately against
it by some writers, or writer, in the United Service Journal and
the New Monthly Magazine?
North. Not I. I greatly admire both those periodicals —
and have no wish (at present) to break a lance with any knight
who chooses in those lists to challenge another adversary —
and not me, who am known to be a man of peace.
Shepherd. Knicht! Lance!
North. Well — well — James — fight him yourself with a rung.
But don't hit him on the head.
Shepherd. What for no?
North. You may guess.
Shepherd. Ay, ay — I understand. Can you comprehend,
sir, the horror many worthy folk feel for fechtin wi' the
North. I candidly declare that I cannot. The whole question,
James, lies in a nut-shell.
¹ Mr Apperley, who wrote under the signature of "Nimrod." — See ante, vol.
iii. p. 360, note 1.
Shepherd. But a cocoa-nut shell, sir.
North. Well. The English have for ages chosen to decide
their personal quarrels by an appeal to the fist.
Shepherd. It's the custom o' the kintra — a national characteristic
— a trate o' mainners — and I howp that a pastime sae
truly popular will never be discountenanced by them who love
the people, and see in all their manly amusements an expression
of the inborn energies o' the sons o' Liberty.
North. The fist is a national weapon, and always at hand.
Shepherd. That's a truism.
North. Nor, though formidable, is it often fatal.
Shepherd. A swurd's a deadly weapon — and still deadlier a
dirk — but he would indeed be a coof that would say that the
human haun —
North. You have but to look at your knuckles to know that
a knock-down blow must be a casualty of frequent occurrence
during a fair stand-up fight between two powerful and courageous
men — and most of the men of England are powerful — according
to their length and inches — and all the men of England
are courageous as mastiffs, bulldogs, game-cocks, or lions.
Shepherd. Modern naturals assert the lion's a cooard.
North. Modern naturals are idiots.
Shepherd. I'm glad to hear ye say sae, sir, for I would be
ashamed o' my country had she chosen to emblazon her banner
wi' an animal that was a cooard.
Tickler. —
"And in the vault of heaven serenely fair,
The Lion's fiery mane floats through the ambient air."
North. —
"Victorious Judah's Lion-Banner rose."
Tickler. —
"Lord of the Lion-heart and eagle eye."
Shepherd. Ye needna accumulate authorities, — for a true Tory,
though he gies up the doctrine o' the divine richt o' human
kings, haulds firm to the auncient faith, that by the fiat o' Him
who created the dust o' the desert, courage, the regal virtue,
has its residence in the lordly heart o' the King o' Beasts.
North. Gray, in his famous ode, speaks of the "lion port"
of Queen Elizabeth — for the poet thought of her addressing
her heroes on the heart-rousing alarm of the Armada, and the
image was characteristic of the glorious bearing of the virgin
Queen — for she was indeed a Lioness — worthy to rule over
that race of whom another poet has said,
"Pride in their port, defiance in their eye,
I see the lords of humankind pass by."
Shepherd. Yon's no the roar o' a cooard, sirs, when he puts
his dreadfu' mooth to the grun', and for miles roun' spreads
sic a thundrous earthquake, that troops o' deers and antelopes
are sent boundin up frae the groanin sands, and fear drives the
whole desert aflight, frae the majestic auld male elephant,
risin up in his seraglio like a tower amang turrets, and trumpeting
in terror that the lion is on his walk, up to the insignificant
ape, incapacitated by a shiverin-fit frae chatterin, and
clinging in desperation, not only wi' his paws but his tail, to
the very tapmost twig o' a tree.
North. People calling themselves Christians should be shy
of applying the name "brutal" to the actions of men — and
these men Englishmen. The English are not a brutal race —
yet they are a race of boxers. Sir Charles Bell has written a
treatise — the best of all the Bridgewater Treatises — except
Whewell's — on the Hand — and we happen to know that Sir
Charles Bell, so far from thinking that the Hand is degraded
by being doubled up into a bunch of fives, and quick as light
applied to the os frontis of Sampson Agonistes, delights in
the beau ideal of a fist such as Jem Belcher's, and regards
pugilism as one of the chief causes and effects of BRITISH
Shepherd. I like a fine manly fallow o' a philosopher that
caresna about ae chiel geein another chiel a clour on the heid,
but rather encourages them to set to, kennin that the lettin o'
liquid in that way's far healthier than in ony ither, and that
a bash on the nose, dispassionately considered, though it does
for the time occasion a determination o' bluid to the heid,
maun ultimately be a great relief, especially to a man o' a sanguine
temperament; and unless a man be o' a sanguine temperament,
tak ma word for't, he'll be nae great fechter.
North. It seems, then, to be admitted on all hands, that the
English are the most courageous people in the world, and that
they have chosen, of their own accord, to settle such disputes
as cannot otherwise be settled, by the fist. He, therefore,
who calls that custom a cowardly custom, should be kicked
out of this island as a calumniator of the character of the inhabitants.

Shepherd. The sea would spew him back.
North. I laid emphasis, James, on the words BRITISH SPIRIT,
and I lay emphasis on the words FAIR PLAY.
Voice. I have underlined them both — capitals — sir.
Shepherd. That cretur's vice gars me a' grue.
North. Gurney is an Englishman — a pretty sparrer with
the gloves — and for his weight —
Shepherd. For his wecht! He can be nae wecht — nae
heavier than his bouk in air.
North. FAIR PLAY is a synonyme for HONOUR and HUMANITY.
Often in hot, seldom in bad blood, the challenge is given and
accepted — the booths stand tenantless, and the wake forms a
ring on the village green, a circle perfect as sun or moon, with
a pleasant halo symptomatic of a squall, soon to be succeeded
by a calm. The men strip and meet at the scratch — toe to toe
— face to face — eye to eye, — and as they shake hands, anger
subsides into resolution — and hatred — if such a passion could
for a moment possess an English yokel's breast — expires in
the generous glow that warms his heart and illumines his
countenance as he inwardly says — "Now, it will be seen which
is the better man." They set to — and after a merry battle of
half-an-hour, a hit on the jugular, or a cross-buttock, gives the
victory to our friend with the red whiskers. In five minutes,
the man who lost the fight feels himself not a whit the worse
— the conqueror treats him and his second to a gallon of cider
— and during the evening you see them both figuring in the
same dance, with faces that would shame the rainbow.
Shepherd. Freens for life — nay brithers — for they inveet
ane anither to ane anither's houses, and mutually marry ane
anither's sisters.
North. Fair play, which I have rightly called Honour and
Humanity, could not thus prevail among any people — not
even the English — without the aid of laws. Therefore laws
were enacted — in the spirit and letter of justice — and these
are the LAWS OF THE RING. They are few and simple — in
theory and in practice equally sanctioned by nature — and
form a code purer and higher far than was ever fabricated by
Vattel, Puffendorf, or Grotius.
Shepherd. International law — that is, the law o' nations —
seems to me nae better than a systematised and legalised
scheme o' rape, robbery, piracy, incendiarism, and murder.
North. Quite correct. Such combats, thus guarded by laws
passed by the people, keep alive the sentiments in which the
laws originated; and thus in England we see the working of
a Spirit of Laws that was beyond the experience, and above
the comprehension, of President Montesquieu.
Shepherd. Tickler's sleepin.
North. Thus no man need fight at all unless he chooses —
and no man need fight a moment longer than he chooses;
and hence are the English — in the boxing counties — the least
quarrelsome of the nations of Europe.
Shepherd. The boxin coonties?
North. Yes, James, the boxing counties. Unfortunately,
in some of the northern counties, THE LAWS OF THE RING are
unknown — and the up-and-down system — savage as in Kentucky
— prevails to an extent that may well make a Briton blush
black while he weeps. What maimings and murderings then
befall! More loss of life and limb in one year than over all
the rest of England in twenty, in fair stand-up fight; though
who will say that the men of the North are not naturally as
brave as their brethren who live under better laws — and with
whom, as I said, fair play is honour and humanity?
Shepherd. That's deceesive.
North. Juries in vain threaten capital conviction judges
in vain declare that capital conviction shall certainly be followed
by execution — but evil customs are the most inveterate:
they laugh at penal law, and defy its terrors; and at
every assize the calendar is crammed with the names, and
the prison with the bodies of such criminals — must I say
the word, when speaking of Englishmen? — I must — with
Shepherd. Nefawrious.
North. Thus far I have been speaking the sentiments of
the wisest men I have ever had the happiness to know — I
need not say the humanest too; but there are fools — and I
suspect that knaves eke are they — who, while they have not
the audacity to libel the whole people, nor choose to have
their own filthy lick-spittle blown back in their faces from the
"Bold peasantry, their country's pride,"
assembled at rural feast, and fair, and festival, all over merry
England — squirt their venom, like toads from holes, at the
LONDON RING, and seem to suppose that the Legislature will
listen to the croak of incarcerated reptiles.
Shepherd. Taids is the only leevin cretur I canna thole.
North. Extinguish the London Ring and you extinguish all
the Rings in England. In it the laws are settled as in a Court
of Judicatory of the last resort. In it the best men contend —
London against all England, and all England with London
against the World. The provinces look up to the capital in
all things — Westminster-Hall, St Stephens, Covent Garden,
Moulsey-Hurst. What a people of pettifoggers we should be,
were there no woolsack softly soliciting the sitting down
thereon of an Eldon, a Lyndhurst, or a Vaux! What odd
oratory would be ours, if there were no grander field for its
display than the Green of Glasgow, by Glasgow's gander
cackled and hissed over from the Calton to the Goose-Dubs?
In provincial towns the genius of Kemble and Cook and Kean
would have fretted and strutted its little hour in vain; and
but for the London Ring, pitched on fair Moulsey-Hurst, by
Thames's silver side, no such glorious title would have been
known as "Champion of England" — and Jem Belcher have
gone down to the grave without his fame.
Shepherd. You give me much pleasure, Mr North.
North. I am speaking, my dear James, of mere amusements

Shepherd. Mere amusements — such is the word — o' the
people are no to be shackled on licht grunds — much less put
doun by the airm o' the law.
North. Good. In this hard-working world the people
are entitled to their amusements — the sweeteners of life
and solders of society; and they will have them, James,
in spite of cant, hypocrisy, and falsehood — never rifer than
now; in spite of the mean malignants — never before so numerous
or so noisy — who, in utter ignorance of the nobility of
their nature, would shear away the privileges of the people,
and by a base outcry against gin-drinking, and Sabbath-breaking,
and dancing, and wrestling, and cudgelling, and boxing
— which are huddled together, with many more, as equal and
kindred enormities, and made crimes at all but by liars'
license and liars' logic — would fain persuade us that Albion
is a sink and sewer, filled with the foul vices of slaves — the
scum of the earth, — whereas all the wide world knows that,
"Though some few spots be on her flowing robe
Of stateliest beauty,"
she is worthy still to wear the title she won of yore, and is
crowned still with her towery diadem — Queen of the Sea.
Shepherd. There's a flicht!
North. A person in Parliament — if the reporters are to be
trusted, and they seldom misrepresent any man — some months
ago rose up in a sudden fit of humanity, justice, and religion,
and vehemently asked if the House would take no steps in
consequence of a MURDER that had lately been perpetrated
under circumstances of peculiar atrocity at Andover. I forget
whether he uttered these words before or after the trial. If
before the trial, then he cruelly and impiously prejudged the
case of a fellow-citizen and a fellow-Christian, whose life he
believed was at stake, — far wickeder behaviour than if I were
now — with Gurney at work in the closet — to denounce any
M.P. as a dishonest man, supposing that his conduct had ever
been subjected to such a charge, and before he could refute that
charge, tell all Europe that he was a swindler. If after the
trial, then he not only lied against an innocent man, but libelled
jury, judge, and law; for Owen Swift, so far from having been
convicted of murder under circumstances of peculiar atrocity,
was found guilty of manslaughter under circumstances of
peculiar alleviation; and his conduct all through the unfortunate
fight with his antagonist Anthony Noon — the Pocket
Hercules — and especially towards its close, when Swift refrained
from striking him — and seconds, bottleholders, umpire,
referee, and all the ring did what they could to prevent that
poor fellow from rushing in — was declared, by as enlightened
a judge as ever dignified the seat of justice, Judge Patteson,
to have been "fair, manly, and humane!"
Shepherd. He'll be a Saunt — a crocodile.
North. Saint, crocodile, or shark, he is one of your speakers
at meetings in Freemasons' Hall in the cause of humanity;
and while he would have wept to flog a negro convicted of
setting fire to a plantation, seemed in haste to hang a white
for an offence which, notwithstanding the lamentable result,
was pronounced by the common sense of the people of England
one of the lightest in the calendar at that assize.
Shepherd. I can excuse occasional inconsistency in politics,
— for nae mortal man is aboon the influence o' pairty speerit,
and selfishness will at times sway the maist upright; but in
penal legislation I can conceive naething mair wicked — because
naething mair cruel — than to deal out undue severity o'
punishment to particular offences, while we let ithers as bad,
or far waur, gang free; legislatin noo in a tender, and noo
in a truculent speerit — and thus showing that your guides and
monitors are no at a' times that reason and that conscience to
which you avow before the public ye are aye, under religion,
humbly obedient; but just as aften prejudices, and bigotries,
and wilfulnesses, and blindnesses o' birth and breedin, at
biddin o' which, instead o' temperin justice wi' mercy, you
harden mercy into a mood misnamed o' justice, and thereby
are seen ae day fentin at the sicht — na, the thocht — o' the
sheddin o' the bluid o' the maist atrocious criminal wha may
hae outlawed and excommunicated himsel frae human nature
by some horrid ack, and are heard neist day imprecatin the
last human punishment on some unfortunate fellow who, after
being severely beaten in a fair fight, has happened, not only
contrary to his own wish, but against his own will, to cause
the death o' his too obstinate antagonist. Sic justice is no
blind, but she squints, and wi sic obliquity o' vision she maunna
be trusted wi' the swurd in her haun.
North. I have walked over all the beautiful fields of England

Shepherd. The boxing counties.
North. — and mixed familiarly with all grades of life —
but never with disreputable society, high, middle, or low —
and never did I receive a wanton insult from any man.
Shepherd. Nor ever, I'm sure, sir, gied ane.
North. Never. I have seen many a turn-up, and some
pitched battles among the yokels; and though one or two were
rather too sanguinary for my taste, no serious mischief was
done; and I pronounce the English — with the exception of
the barbarous practice already lamented and censured — a most
peaceable people — a nation of humane heroes. Let not legislators,
then, by their busy intermeddling with the national customs,
endanger the stability of the national character. It
would be sad and ludicrous indeed if John Bull were to be
emasculated by Miss-Mollyism. Let the Miss Mollies wear
stays and be thankful — nobody expects them to strip.
"Let Dares beat Entellus black and blue,"
while the feebles and the fribbles paint their cheeks after
their own fashion, and knit purses. Away with the wishy--
washy school of sentiment in which a knock-down argument
is thought of with the same horror as a knock-down blow!
It might be cruel perhaps to impale such insects, and pin
them down on paper, but not to brush them away; yet, if
they will persist in biting, the midges must be murdered at
Shepherd. I can forgie a' creturs o' that kind, but no the
blusterin fallows that ca' a' folk blackguards wha happen to
like to look at twa men fechtin, and extend their abuse to a'
athletics whatsomever, as if the poo'rs o' the body werena
intended to be brocht intil play for our amusement and pastime
as weel's the poo'rs o' the mind.
North. All athletic sports are nearly allied — they all flourish
together. With the commonalty in England, boxing is the
guardian of them all; and I do not hesitate to affirm, that even
cricket matches — that glorious game — would not be, among
what are rightly called the lower ranks, the bloodless contests
they now are, were it not for the operation of the ever-present
principle of Fair Play, which in all matters of amusement
reigns in England, and derives its permanent power from, and
makes its ultimate appeal to, the practice of the Ring.
Shepherd. I've heard there are desperate battles at the Harlin
Matches in Ireland.
North. I love and admire the Irish. But what think ye,
James, of O'Connell holding up his hands in horror at the
death of one English pugilist before the superior prowess of
his honourable and humane antagonist in single combat, arid
vowing before heaven that he would bring in a bill to amend
the law of England and the character of the men of England —
by making such manslaughter in all cases murder! He who
in Ireland would indict capitally magistrate or policeman —
for having been compelled to act in defence of their own lives,
or the lives of others murderously attacked by an organised
army of infuriated madmen, indiscriminately knocking out the
brains of men, women, and children, with stones and staves —
treading their flesh into the mire, — driving their adversaries —
adversaries from some senseless feud of which the parties know
neither the origin nor the cause — into lake or river — and not
only seeing them drowning and drowned without pity — but
frightening away the boats that went to rescue the battered
wretches from death!
Shepherd. Alas! for Ireland.
North. From the depth of my heart a voice responds —
alas! for Ireland.
Shepherd. Can naething, think ye, sir, be dune for her — the
Gem o' the Sea ?
North. It would seem to require the touch of some angel's
hand — not to burnish up the gem, for it is green as any
emerald — not to wipe away the stains of blood that often ruefully
redden the verdure when at its brightest — but to heal
the heart-wounds and the soul-sores, from which the poison
flows — and which seem incurable by human skill, festering,
and inflaming, and mortifying, till on all hands are misery,
madness, and death.
Shepherd. Strang — strang — strang.
North. Words weak as water. Two murders a-day!
Shepherd. Wha are the murderers?
North. Almost all Catholics.
Shepherd. The murdered?
North. Almost all Catholics.
Shepherd. It canna be their religion.
North. God forbid I should say it was their religion.
Shepherd. What can be the cause?
North. The wickedness of the heart, infuriated by superstition.
The horrid delusion has been long gathering over
their conscience, till it has become black as night, — and now
the eye of the soul — as Conscience has been called — sees not
the sanctity of the house of life — and hands break through
its walls — without pity and without remorse.
Shepherd. But their priests play and preach against all such
violation o' the first great law o' Natur — they are humane men
— and withhold absolution from sinners who come to the confessional
dipped and died up to the elbows in blood.
North. Of that I know nothing. But this I know, that if
the priests have done their duty, there must be something
more dreadful in man's heart than was ever revealed to my
own even in the delirious dreams of God-forsaken sleep.
Shepherd. Oh, sir!
North. I take the hint, and cease.
Shepherd. I didna mean, sir, to stap you — but to induce you
to strike a less fearsome key — for that ane jarred my heartstrings
and my brain — and I was growin sick.
North. Down with the Church is the cry.
Shepherd. And I'm no surprised that it is — for the Church
doesna deserve to staun when sic atrocities are rife beneath
its shelter or its shadow, and prosper among the services of
its most faithful and devoted Ministers. I never liked the
Popish Church; — but then, to be sure, I am a Protestant —
and, what is worse, a Presbyterian bigot.
North. Down with the Protestant Church in Ireland! — that
is the cry.
Shepherd. Fools.
North. Madmen — and worse than Madmen. Knowledge is
Power — Knowledge is Pleasure — Knowledge is Wealth—
Knowledge is Virtue — Knowledge is Happiness.
Shepherd. Oh! that it were! and Earth in Time might be
an image of Heaven in Eternity!
North. Hymns and odes — had I the genius — would I sing
in praise of Knowledge — for from heaven descended the voice
that said, "KNOW THYSELF."
Shepherd. Try.
North. No — dumb am. I at those divine words — as in presence
of a spirit — as in hearing of a spirit's voice. The
minds of men were kindled — and lo! the REFORMATION dawned,
and in that dawn was disclosed the true aspect of the skies.
And scorn we now that light — now that it has climbed high
up in heaven, and far and wide spread the blessing of meridian
Shepherd. Sir?
North. Tithes, tithes, tithes — abuses, abuses, abuses —
are now the watchword and reply. And by whom are they
yelled? Not by poor, naked, hungry, ignorant, misinstructed,
superstitious savages alone; nor by the fierce and reckless
agitators that drive them into convulsions — for then we could
understand the folly we deplored, and the wickedness we
abhorred — but by men holding the Protestant faith — of which
the cardinal belief is — that all good which man can enjoy on
earth must be generated by the light of the Christian religion
— and that that light is in the Bible as in a Sun.
Shepherd. It's an awfu' thing to think o' wide districts,
sprinkled wi' touns and villages, and clachans, and thousans o'
single houses, a' crooded wi' human beins, and no ane o' them,
for fear o' divine displeasure, suffered to read the Word o' God!
North. Dismal. And in that land a war waged against
Protestantism by Christian statesmen! The Protestant Church
is the cause of all this darkness, all this distraction, all this
guilt! Therefore, let its altars be desecrated — its ministers
despoiled — its services destroyed — its pride brought low with
all its towers — and that meek, humble, and holy faith substituted
and restored, which diffused peace and goodwill to
men, wide as day, from the Seven Hills on which it sat so
long enthroned in simplicity, and as with an angel's voice did
"indicate the ways of God to man!"
Shepherd. I wush you was Prime Minister.
North. What! in place of Lord Melbourne?
Shepherd. Wha's he? I never heard o' him afore.
North. Nay, James. Stanley and Graham —
Shepherd. I've read some o' their speeches —
North. — ought to have seen long before they did, that
their colleagues were a gang of church-robbers. I have
always admired both the men — but I cannot comprehend how
they, eagle-eyed, were stone-blind to what was visible to the
very moles.
Shepherd. They had unwittingly been hoodwinked — but as
for moles bein' blind, you would hear a different story were
you to ask the worms.
North. Therefore they resigned — and all the church-robbers
in the kingdom shouted aloud for joy.
Shepherd. What think ye, sir, made Lord Grey resign?
Was it a voluntary descent or a forced fa' ?
North. A little of both.
Shepherd. I didna see your name, sir, in the list o' stewards: was you at the Grey Denner?¹
North. Sir? Eh? What?
¹ On the 15th September 1834 a grand dinner was given to Earl Grey at Edinburgh,
in a pavilion erected within the area of the High School. "The dinner,"
says the Annual Register, "being a cold one, and therefore already laid
on the tables, offered an irresistible temptation to the persons admitted; for
as soon as they were seated, and long before the appearance of the chairman,
there arose an almost universal clatter of knives and forks, and a general demolition
of the eatables was vigorously commenced. This proceeding elicited
some disapprobation. Hisses arose from different parts of the room; and a
gentleman having ascended one of the tables, entreated the company to desist
from mastication until the chairman had taken his place. But his appeal was
Shepherd. But tell me — though you wasna there — was it a
Failure or a Succeed?
North. Much folly and falsehood, I am sorry to say, all
parties are guilty of, in describing Political Meetings got up
by their adversaries; and so far from thinking that we Conservatives
are less liable to the charge than the Destructives,
be they Whigs or Radicals, I shall not be surprised to see
myself taken to task, by the low-flying Tories, for declaring
that, in my opinion, the Edinburgh Dinner to Lord Grey
was, on the whole, honourable to him and creditable to our
Tickler. On the whole! Reformers.
North. With ten points of scornful admiration, if you please
— for I do not believe that a greater mass of ignorance, prejudice,
bigotry, stupidity, and vulgarity were ever collected
together under one roof.
Shepherd. Dinna ye?
Tickler (roused). Dishonesty and malignity.
North. Two-thirds of the two thousand five hundred males
there assembled were of the lowest intellectual grade, and in
the meanness of their moral nature, into which not one
ennobling sentiment had ever been inspired by education or
experience, incapable of comprehending any one of the great
principles on which is founded the stability of a Constitution
in Church or State.
Shepherd. Ye're speakin o' the Radicals.
North. No. Of the blind leading the blind — their name is
Legion, for they are many — and not a few Radicals are among
them — but far the greater number are Whigs.
Tickler. In Edinburgh there are ten Whigs for one Radical
in good society —
Shepherd. What ca' ye gude society?
fruitless, at least to the majority of his auditors: on went the work of demolition;
and in fact by the time the chair was taken, and the dinner regularly
commenced, the eating was really over. The appearance of the room, when
the whole company had taken their places, was very imposing. On the platform,
besides the great guest of the festival, were Lord Brougham, Lord Rosebery,
the Earl of Errol, Lord Lynedoch, Lord Belhaven, Lord Durham, Sir J.
C. Hobhouse, Professor Arago, the Solicitor-General, Sir J. Abercromby, the
Marquess of Breadalbane, Lord Stair, &c. &c. Lord Rosebery took the chair
in the absence of the Duke of Hamilton, who had excused himself from attending.
The Lord Advocate (Jeffrey) was croupier, supported by Lord Dinorben
and the Attorney-General."
North. I presume the society of honest men.
Tickler. Right. But, as regards our argument, James, I
mean by good society, the society of honest men of the middle
ranks — for below that I fear most men at present suppose that
they are Radicals — and I presume there were not many of that
class at the dinner to Lord Grey.
Shepherd. They had mair sense than to get up a guinea for
a cauld denner and a bottle o' corked port.
North. Eight hundred men — I calculate on data not to be
denied by any one acquainted with Scotland — were present at
that dinner, worthy to welcome to Scotland, and to Edinburgh,
any Statesman.
Tickler. I agree with you, North. You and I do not lay
any great stress on what is called the nobility and gentry
present on that occasion — for they, though respectable, were
sparse; but without excluding such sprinklings — and acknowledging
with pleasure the high character of the Noble Chairman
— we declare that the strength of the assemblage lay in
those citizens who had either raised themselves from a humble
condition to what is rightly called a high — or added lustre to
the condition in which they happened to have been born — by
their own moral and intellectual worth — or by the endowment
of genius.
Shepherd. Genius?
North. Yes, genius. Henry Cockburn, now a Judge — which
I am glad of — did not, to be sure, write the Queen's Wake —
nor is Sir Thomas Dick Lauder¹ the Editor of Blackwood's
Magazine — nor did Andrew Shone write Adam Blair — nor
Andrew Rutherfurd the Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life —
nor Robert Jamieson the Trials of Margaret Lyndsay — but have
they not done far more difficult things — if not as good, or
better? And think ye that the same powers that have raised
them (the Painter and Poet of the great Morayshire Floods,
out of politics, is one of ourselves, James, and though we need
not veil our bonnets to him, we wear them in his presence
but as equals) to the highest eminence in law, might not, if
directed into that pleasanter channel, have won them as high a
place in literature?
¹ Sir T. Dick Lauder, the author of An Account of the great Morayshire
Floods. The other gentlemen here mentioned were eminent Whig members
of the Scotch Bar.
Shepherd. No in poetry, sir, no in po —
Tickler. Poo upon poetry! Fire away, Kit.
North. The educated classes in Scotland — and I allow a
wide latitude to the term educated — were much divided on the
question of reform. All true Conservatives abhorred the bill
— many — nay, all moderate Whigs — feared it in much — and
the wildest disliked some of its most improvident provisions:
it was welcomed in its reckless radicalism but by the Destructives.

Shepherd. Truth uttered by Wisdom.
Tickler. Therefore not even the eight hundred could have
been unanimous in their approbation of the statesmanship of
Lord Grey.
North. No, indeed. Not even had they been all the most
violent of Whigs; but of the six hundred Whigs worthy the
name — for I skim away the scum — a half at least had all their
lives — as you well know, Tickler — deprecated such reform — a
quarter of them at least had long abjured its principles — while
the remaining fourth — with the exception of such men as Mr
Greenshiels, and a few other grave enthusiasts — men of talent
and virtue — were either worthy old foggies, who took a pride
in seeing doctrines triumphant in their age, which they had
vainly battled for in a pedantic war of words in their youth;
or worthy young foggies, whom — as I do not wish to be personal
— I shall not name at a Noctes — following in their train,
and fondly imagining themselves all the while to be leaders;
or unworthy young foggies — yet still of reputable character —
Tickler. Yawp for the loaves and fishes.
Shepherd. And what say ye o' the respectable Radicals?
North. Of the eight hundred, they may have composed about
two; and though I do not well know what they would be at,
I do know that, if they speak the truth, they now think very
little of Lord Grey.
Tickler. I think, North, you may, in round numbers, say a
thousand. For half-a-dozen from this place — and half-a-score
from that — and so on in proportion to the size of the clachan
— having no political principles at all — but entertaining a
certain vague admiration of what are called liberal opinions —
and admirers in a small, but not insincere way, of something
they choose to call consistency — and having been assured by
the wise men of the village, well read in Annual Registers,
that Lord Grey carried into effect the same plan of reform in
1831 that he had advocated in 1792 — at great inconvenience,
considerable expense, and some danger, came on outside places
by heavy coaches to the great Grey dinner, and astonished
their families on their return with descriptions of the Immense
Wooden Erection, and the great lustre from the Theatre-Royal,
dependent freer the centre of the roof, and lighted with
gas by pipes laid on purpose in cuts from the main conduit —
a Fairy Palace!
North. My friend Hamilton is a man of skill, taste, and
genius; and I am told the Pavilion was beautiful.
Shepherd. Was the denner really in great part devoored
afore Yearl Grey took his seat by the side o' your worthy
freen, the Lord Provost?
Tickler. Not in great part devoured, James. The enemies
of the Church began collecting their tithes. Perhaps a dozen
tongues, as many how-towdies, half-a-score hams, two or
three pigeon and some fifty mutton-pies were gobbled up
without grace — and I believe a few buttocks of beef met with
the same premature fate; but there was nothing like a
general attack — and I wish that to be known in England, for
the credit of my countrymen.
Shepherd. Abstinence under sic circumstances did them
immortal honour — for imitation and sympathy are twa o' the
strongest active principles in human natur; and the wonder
is, that in ten minutes they didna seep the board. Cry
"Fire" in a crooded kirk, and the congregation treads and
chokes itsel to death in makin for the doors. Cry "Fa' to"
in a crooded Pavilion, and at the first clatter o' knife and
fork on a trencher, what could hae been expeckit but that
twa thousand five hunder Reformers would hae been ruggin
awa at fish, flesh, and fule afore they discovered that it was
a false alarm?
Tickler. The justification is complete.
Shepherd. Besides, them that did fasten on the vittals — by
your accoont few in nummer — perhaps no aboon a hunder or
twa — havin been in the open air a' day, assistin at the Procession,
maun hae been desperate hungry — and few temptations
are waur to resist than a sappy ham. Whigs, too, are
great gluttons —
Tickler. We Tories again are epicures.
Shepherd. As may be seen at a Noctes, where we eat little,
but very fine.
North. I cannot charge my memory with a case of ante--
benediction gluttony at a great public Conservative dinner.
Can you, James?
Shepherd. I never hear the grace at a great public denner —
though I sometimes see an auld body at a distance haudin up
his haun — but I certainly canna charge my memory wi' ony
instance o' ony pairt o' ony Christian company consumin
tongues, how-towdies, hams, pigeon and mutton pies, and
buttocks o' beef, afore the arrival of the guest in whase honour,
and in whase presence, it was intended the dinner should
be devoored — to say naething o' his participation. Sic behaviour
is in fact mair like beasts than men — and I dinna
believe onything like it ever took place even in a dowgkennel.
Jowlers are vorawcious brutes; but they sit on their
hurdies wi' waterin chaps, till the whupper-in or the huntsman
gies the signal — or cries, Soss! Soss! Soss! and then
with one accord the canine crunch their cracklin.
North. Lord Grey spoke well; his demeanour was dignified;
and he was listened to and looked at — as he deserved
by his friends — with respect and admiration.
Shepherd. By you?
North. My dear Shepherd, I was not there — but I had an
account of the evening from a Whig friend, on whose face I
never can look without believing that he is a Tory. To my
mind, Lord Grey disgraced himself by his vile misrepresentation
of the sentiments that had been lately expressed by
many distinguished Irish Protestants, lay and clerical, respecting
the state of the Church and its affairs — and they are
closely interwoven with the vital interests of the whole community
— sentiments honourable to their character as men,
and perfectly consistent with all Christian charities — but the
expression of which had been grossly falsified by base reporters,
who had been exposed by the calumniated to universal
scorn. In this Lord Grey showed obstinate ignorance,
at once contemptible and hateful; and on reading it, I covered
my face with my hands to hide the burning blushes of shame
that tingled there for sake of Lord Brougham, who chimed in
with the peevish and malignant reproach — while he had the
brazen assurance to declare, that he had heard then for the
first time of the shocking outrage, by fierce Protestant bigotry,
on the meek Popish spirit of love — for that he, forsooth, had
not read the sevenpenny newspapers for some time back — an
absurd and indeed incredible inconsistency in the grim genitor
of the Twa-Bawbee Magazine.
Shepherd. Me and Hairy Brumm 's great freens, and batin
yoursel, sir, he's the grandest companion I ken, either in a
mixed company o' ordinar dimensions, or at a twa-haun crack.
He seems to hae made a kind o' triumphal progress or procession
through Scotland in a post-chaise, and nae lout
occasionally fowre horses; and I was glad to see, for my ain
sake, that the Lord Chancellor received the freedom o' the
same brughs that, twunty years sin' syne, had conferred that
honour on me for the Queen's Wake.
Tickler. Scotland has reason to be proud of your friend,
James; for with her he passed his brilliant youth, and within
the walls of our own old College, and of our own old Parliament
House, was first seen fitfully shining that mental fire
which ere long burst into so bold and bright a blaze, and
illumined his high career in the English Courts of Law, and
the greatest Legislative Assembly in the world.
Shepherd. He was a real orator.
Tickler. He led the Commons — and had no equal but
North. He never led the Commons, and he was no match
for Canning.
Shepherd. What ails the Times at Hairy Brumm?
North. Hang me if I know.
Shepherd. They 'll no be able to rin him doun, sir.
North. The Times hits hard — fights at points — is good
with both hands — up to all the manoeuvres of the London
Ring — always in tip-top condition — and in a close seldom
fails in getting the fall either by back-lock or cross-buttock.
He can lick all the London dailies — though some of
them are strong wiry chaps, and very ugly customers — all
but the Standard; — and the fine science and great strength
of the Standard have given him the championship of the
Shepherd. They say the Times fechts booty?
North. They who said so lied — he is above a bribe — and
by his own power purchases his own gold. But there are
other passions besides the "auri sacra fames" — other devils
besides Mammon.
Shepherd. I weel ken that. There's Belial — and there's
Beelzebub — and there's Lucifer — and there's —
North. These three are sufficient — you need not mention
any more — and they are all gentlemen of the press.
Shepherd. And a' against Hairy Brumm?
North. Certainly not — unless they have lost all regard
for consistency of character. Lucifer and he are friends for
Shepherd. I smell brimstone.
Tickler. Merely candle-snuff. One cannot choose but smile
to hear the Times telling how he patronised Brougham, and
made him Lord Chancellor of England. Yet the boast is not
without truth. The Press was a powerful auxiliar to his own
great power — and in his favour the Times for years led the
Press. It cut down his foes — it cleared his way — it cheered
him on — it "bound his brows with victorious wreaths;" and
now that "the winter of its discontent" bath come — the
question is, will it have the force of frost or blight to wither
Shepherd. Na.
North. But it is base in Brougham to abuse the Press,
merely because it now abuses him; for, during all the many
long years it bore him up on its strong wings — yet he of himself
could fly and soar — the Press, he well knew, was systematically
maligning better men, his rivals in the race; and
never one word did he utter in its dispraise, till he had laid
his own hand on the goal — and then, on an unwonted and unwelcome
clamour assailing his ears — loud, indeed, but less
truculent than had, to his great satisfaction, tormented superior
spirits — superior inasmuch as Wisdom is a nobler gift
than Wit, and TALENT but the servant of Virtue — then he
turned round, with "visage all inflamed" —
Shepherd. "Sawtan dilated stood" —
North. — and told the people of England, that he regarded
the Press with contempt and scorn!
Shepherd. Hairy shouldna hae said that — for o' a' the
steam-engines that ever clattered, the maist like a leevin giant
is the Printin Machine.
North. With all his sins, Lord Brougham is worth a coal--
waggon-train-ful of Durhams. It is too ludicrous for laughing
to see Lambton pitting himself against such a man. True,
he confesses his inferiority in powers of speech; but in the
very confession his poor pride is apparent — for by that candour
he thinks he proves his claim to superior worth. Now
the truth is, that the Coalmaster approaches nearer to the
Chancellor in eloquence than in any other natural or acquired
gift; for it is wonderful how well he speaks, and he possesses
no despicable power of jaw. He is a third-rate radical rhetorician,
and has a command of loose lumbering language, very
unpleasant to listen to, which he can atrabilariously keep delivering
for a trying extent of time. But in powers of thought
he is a mere man of the multitude; in his harangues nobody
looks for ideas; and his very admirers direct you, for proofs
of his abilities, to his forehead and his face. Both are indeed
beautiful — but "fronti nulla fides" is an old saw and a wise
one — and he would soon become indeed a jaundiced observer,
who appealed to the colour of his cheeks. Brougham is no
beauty; but his mug is a book, in which men may read strange
matters — and take him as he stands, face and figure, and you
feel that there is a man of great energy, and commanding intellect.
His brain swarms with ideas — of which some have
been almost magnificent — and his heart has been often visited
by high and generous emotions, which but for a restless temper
might have found there an abiding-place; and but that
conscience has too often been overcome by ambition, might
have made him morally as well as intellectually great, and
one of the most illustrious worthies of England.
Shepherd. Wasna't Lord Durham that flew intil sic a fury
again' the newspapers for sayin something about the flag o'
his pleesur yatt,¹ — and was for finin and imprisonin folk
for some folly o' theirs about some folly o' his, somehoo or
ither conneckit wi' the threecolore, and the Cherburgh rods,
and the Tyne Louisa, and the Newcastle colliers, and some
nonsense about depopulation o' a village, and breakin doun
some rails in the Isle o' Wight, and compromeesin some act,
by payin the law expenses, and makin affidavits about falsehoods,
and —
North. It was — and I am only astonished, James, at your
retaining so distinct a recollection of so many pitiable expo¹
"Lord Durham's yacht had hoisted the tricolor over the British flag, and he
prosecuted the Newcastle Journal (a Tory paper) for chronicling the fact." —
American Editor.
sures made of himself by the Champion and Guardian of the
Liberty of the Press.
Shepherd. Whether, sir, did you admire maist the Grey
Festival here in Embro', or the Durham Demonstration yonner
in Glasgow?¹
North. Ask Tickler.
Tickler. For your opinion? Hem. Pray, Kit, what was
demonstrated by the Durham Demonstration?
North. That the stomachs of the Glasgow Radicals revolt
from wine.
Shepherd. Was that a'?
North. Not all — but the most important point, established
by the plainest proofs.
Shepherd. I could hae telt that beforehaun; for wine's
waur nor wersh in the mooth to workmen, either in toon or
kintra; — and forbye bein' waur nor wersh in the mooth, it's
sickenin to the stamack, and it's irritatin to the temper, and
gars folk throw up ither things in folk's faces than mere indigested
political maitters. I've seen that happen even amang
Tories in the Forest, and we never thocht o' ca'in 't by ony
ither than the ordinar idiomatic name; but noo we shall adopt
that grand-soundin descriptive phraseology — Durham Demonstration.

Tickler. Your justification of the Glasgow Radicals is as
complete, James, as your justification of the Edinburgh
Shepherd. It's founded, sir, on the same constitutional principles
— and in baith cases the chief blame lies at the door o'
the fresh air. Fifteen hunder men o' the hunder and fifty
thousand — I like roun' nummers — to whose care and custody
Lord Durham said he was wullin to intrust his property and
his life (I wunner hoo mony years' purchase they would in
that case be worth), comin frae the caller air o' the open
¹ The Earl of Durham was feted by the Glasgow Radicals on the 29th October
1834. "The chair," says the Spectator, "was taken a little before six
o'clock by Mr James Oswald, Member for Glasgow. The croupiers were
Messrs Colin Dunlop, John Douglas (" the Glasgow Gander"), and A. G.
Speirs. There were no titled guests besides him in whose honour the feast was
held. Lord Kinnaird's brother attended. Messrs Wallace, Gillon, and Buckingham
represented the House of Commons; Professor Mylne the University;
and there was no want of most respectable gentlemen, merchants, and other
persons of consideration in Glasgow and the neighbourhood."
Green intil the foul air o' the closebox o' the Pavilion, and
sookin port, couldna be expeckit to get wi' impunity to the
dregs at the bottom o' the bottle. But the Men o' the Wast
are a strang generation, and no sune coupit — sac they keept
their seats in spite o' the soomin round o' the wa's — and a' attempts
o' the seats theirsels to steal a march out frae beneath
them — and opened their mouths for — a public Durham Demonstration
on a great scale. They made, in flick, a virtue
o' necessity; and as it is wrang to hide your talent under a
napkin, they exhibited the fruits o' theirs on the table.
Tickler. By way of dessert.
Shepherd. They were determined, sirs, that everything
should be aboon board — and disdainin to keep doun their
risin emotions, to mak a clean breist. In this way, it may be
said, by a metonymy —
Tickler. A metonymy!
Shepherd. — that they discharged their consciences, and
were entitled, with as good a grace as Lord Brougham, to
hauld them up and exclaim, "These hands are clean."
North. It must have been a proud sight for the wives and
daughters of the Demonstrators, and that anonymous class of
ladies whom the Gander alluded to, as dearer even than wives
and daughters —
Shepherd. Wha are they?
North. He best knows. I should have felt for Lord Durham
at the shockingly insulting stop put to his return of
thanks on an occasion on which I verily believe no man was
over so interrupted before — not even at a supper after the Beggars'
Opera in Poossie Nancy's — had he not had the ineffable
baseness to exclaim, "That comes from a Tory — there's an
enemy in the camp." It required no readiness to improvise
such a foolish falsehood — and he must have been ashamed of
himself for venting it, when, sick of the scene, he retired from
the Pavilion, in vain attempting to pick his steps among the
disjecta membra of the Durham Demonstration, that had for
hours been oozing through the joints of the deal-tables, till
they adorned the floor.
Shepherd. —
"O laith! laith! was the Durham Lord,
To wat his high-heeled shoon."
North. Lord Grey exultingly asked the wise men of the
East, if any symptoms of reaction were visible in that magnificent
show; Lord Brougham told them that he had been all
over the North, and could assure them that there were none
visible to the naked eye, on hill or dale; and to crown all,
Lord Durham — with the most extraordinary symptoms of reaction
before him ever disclosed to the human senses — declared
there was none in the West; and yet these three very
Lords were all the while at loggerheads and daggers-drawing,
about men and measures; and two of them — the learned Lord
and the unlearned Lord — objects of mutual hatred, — that feeling
in the one being mitigated by contempt, and in the other
exasperated by envy.
Tickler. Brougham insidiously ousts Grey, and Grey indignantly
cuts Brougham.
North. Brougham sneeringly glances at Durham, and Durham
savagely growls at Brougham.
Tickler. Brougham accuses Durham of clipping and paring
the Bill of Reform.
North. And Durham — had his father-in-law not told him
that only bad boys broke oaths and told lies — would have
accused Brougham of proposing to castrate it.
Tickler. And after all this vulgar bickering, at once anile
and childish, we are told the nation is unanimous.
North. And a Whig-Rad government the object of its holy
reverence and undying love!
Shepherd. What would the warld say if we three cast out in
that gate?
North. Easier far for a new set of men to carry on the
government than the Noctes Ambrosianæ.
Shepherd. That's just what the world would say gin it
heard on the same day that the Whig government and the
Tory magazine had been baith dissolved.
Mr Ambrose (entering in full tail, and looking into his hat in
hand). I have this moment, sir, received — by express — a single
copy of the Sun newspaper; — and I have — the honour and
happiness — of being the first to announce — to Mr North — that
the Melbourne Ministry is dissolved — and that — his Majesty
— has — been —
that — his Majesty — has — been — graciously pleased — to intrust
— his Grace the Duke of Wellington — with the formation
of a Conservative Government.
[Exeunt AMBROSE and Tail, with a bow and a wag.
Shepherd. That's a curious coincidence.
Tickler. What is?
Shepherd. I was just opening my mouth to predick the dounfa'
o' the Whiggamores, when in cam the express!
Tickler. A prophet should never sit with his mouth open
for more than five minutes at a time, on the eve of an intended
prediction; for "when great events are on the gale," one of
them may fly, as it did now, into the aperture, to the discredit
of the craft.
Shepherd. Didna I see the conflagration o' baith Houses o'
Parliament foretokened in the ribs at Tibbie's?
Tickler. You certainly did, James.
Shepherd. A King's messenger cam for me frae Lunnon to
tak me up for examination before the Preevy Cooncil;¹ but I
kent better than to gang; for the black ggem were packin,
and by firin out o' the study-wundow, I could murder a dizzen
at ae discharge.
Tickler. O thou Murderer and Incendiary!
Shepherd. Sae I enticed the Cockney to tak a look at the
Grey-Mare's Tail, on our way to Moffat for the mail-cotch; and
while he was glowerin at the water preevilege — as the Americans
ca't — I slippit intil yon cosy cave, kent but to the
Covenanters o' auld, and noo but to the shepherds — and left
him sair perplexed to think that he had been apprehendin a
Tickler. I trust, James, you had no hand in the fire?
Shepherd. I shanna say. It seems rather tyrannical in a
Whig Preevy Cooncil to send doun an offisher a' the way to
the Forest to apprehend the Shepherd, for ha'in the Second
Sicht. But they hae met wi' their punishment. They're out.
Tickler. Such events are seldom attributed at the time to
the true causes — and ages may elapse before another D'Israeli,
in the course of his indefatigable researches, discover that it
was the Ettrick Shepherd who overthrew this brazen-faced
Dagon with leathern body and feet of clay.
¹ Rumours were afloat that the conflagration by which the Houses of Parliament
were consumed, was known in parts of England before intelligence of that
event could have reached these places. This gave rise to the suspicion that
the fire had been the work of incendiaries; but this suspicion was dissipated
by the investigation of the Privy Council, who, after a careful examination of
witnesses, reported that the fire was accidental, and was wholly attributable
to the flues having become over-heated through the burning of a large number
of old wooden tables.
breathed in many million bosoms some twenty or thirty years
ago — but more than lives in the heart of any other people
towards their chief magistrate — for that now — though a
somewhat cold — is the correct and accredited word. In
other, and perhaps in nobler times, there was much in common
between loyalty to a king, patriotism to a country, and
the zeal of the martyrs of religion.
Shepherd. I ca' that a true Holy Alliance.
North. But we must make the best of our own times;
and every man do his utmost to uphold the powers and
principles that constitute the strength of our national character.

Shepherd. Enumerate, sir.
North. Not now. Our ideas and feelings of loyalty, however,
we must not adopt from them who were last week his
Majesty's Ministers; nor from the double-faced, double-tongued
crew, that will be seizing on their dismissal as an occasion
for venting their rage against him whom, for four years, they
have been hypocritically worshipping for their own base purposes,
and incensing with perfumery that must have long
stunk in the royal nostrils.
Tickler. The modern Alfred! Alfred the Second!
North. Faugh! let us speak as we feel of our king, in a
spirit of truth. True loyalty scorns the hyperbole, and is
sparing of figures of speech. To the patriot statesman, whom
true loyalty inspires, history is no old almanac; for an old
almanac is the deadest of all dead things — and more useless
than dust. To him history is a record ever new — all
its pages are instinct with life — and its examples show the
road to honour on earth, and happiness in heaven. Let us
not fear to compare our King with his Peers. The place assigned
him by posterity will be a high one; and among his
many noble qualities will be reckoned scorn of sycophancy,
and intolerance of falsehood. As long as his servants served
him according to their oath — in its spirit as well as its letter —
he was willing to make sacrifice of some thoughts and feelings
that to him were sacred; of some opinions so deeply rooted
he could not change, though he could give them up; but
as soon as he saw and knew that he must not only sacrifice
feelings, and relinquish opinions, but violate his conscience, he
exerted his prerogative — a prerogative bestowed by God —
Shepherd. Unless Girrney let the cat out o' the bag.
Small thin Voice. Hip — hip — hip — hurra! hurra! hurra!
Shepherd. Only look, Mr Tickler, at North! lyin back on
his chair — wi' shut een — that thochtfu' face o' his calm as
a cloud — wi' his hauns faulded on his breist — pressed palm
to palm — the fingers pintin towards ye like the tips o' arrows
— and the thooms like javelins! Wheesht! he's gaun till
North. There will be much brutal abuse of the King. The
Whigs hated George the Good, and they had not hearts
capable of disinheriting the Son of the curses with which
they clothed the Sire. That hatred was first transferred to
George the Graceful; and then it hovered like a hornet
round the head of William the Brave. Lured by the scent of
prey, it flew off for a while; but now it will return, hot as
hell, and settle, if it be not scared away, on the royal brow.
Nay, the filthy fly will attempt the temples of the Queen, and
its venomous sting will threaten veins translucent with purest
and hallowed blood.
Shepherd. Damn them — I beg my pardon — that was wrang—
will they blackguard Queen Adelaide?
North. What they did they will do again.
Shepherd. The dowgs will return to their vomit.
North. The lowest of the Radicals will join in that charge
— nor will the highest gainsay the ribaldry of the rabble —
but like philosophers, as they all pretend to be, let human
nature take its course. But the PEOPLE OF BRITAIN will not
suffer the slander, and high up above the reach of foulest
vapours, before their eyes will our Queen be seen shining like
a star.
Shepherd. God bless the people o' Britain! Wi' a' their
fauts — and they are great and mony — shaw me sic anther
people on the face o' the yearth.
North. As for his Most Gracious Majesty, he has been in
fire before now — and our King, who never turned his head
aside for hissing balls and bullets, will hold it erect on the
Throne of the Three Kingdoms, as he did on the quarterdeck
of a man-of-war, — nor heed, if he hear, the vain hurtling of
windy words.
Tickler. There is little loyalty in the land now, North.
North. Little compared with that elevating virtue as it
and called on that MAN, who had been the Saviour of his
country, again to rescue her from danger; by the weight of
his wisdom, and the grandeur of his name, to bear down her
internal enemies, as, by his valour and his genius, he had
crushed or scattered all foreign foes — so that the land, by a
succession of bloodless, and therefore still more glorious,
victories, might again enjoy that liberty which consists in
order and peace.
Shepherd. You dinna fear, sir, I howp, that there will be
ony very serious disturbances in the kintra, on account o' the
change o' Ministry?
North. I think there will be a great deal of very ludicrous
disturbances in the country, on account of the change of
Ministry, and that the People will find it so difficult to
assume a serious countenance, on the kicking out of the
Whigs — if a kicking out it has been — that they will almost
immediately give over trying it, and join in a good-humoured,
yet perhaps a rather malicious peal of hearty laughter.
Shepherd. That's a great relief to my mind. But are ye
sure, sir, o' the Political Unions?
North. Quite sure. It is not improbable they may be
revived in a small sort of way; but half-a-million of men will
not march up to London from Birmingham, as about half-a--
dozen men talked of their intending to do in the delirium of
the Bill fever.
Shepherd. It maun be a populous place that Brummagem,
as the Bagmen ca't.
North. Very. For my own part, I rather liked the Whig
Shepherd. Whattt?
North. For it is an amiable weakness of mine to feel kindness
towards any man or body of men whom I see the object
of very general contempt or anger. No Ministry in my time
was ever so unpopular — to use the gentlest term — as the one
t'other day turned to the right-about; and as for my Lord
Melbourne — though you, James, say you never heard of him —
I know him to be one of the most amiable and accomplished
men; and that is saying much — in the Peerage. So that I
am sorry that any Ministry, of which he was the head, should
have been so universally despised when living, and so universally
ridiculed when dead.
Shepherd. That seems to me a new view o' the subjeck.
North. However, it is the true one. I am disposed to
think they were not kicked out — but that they backed out, in a
state of such weakness, that had there been any rubbish in the
way, they would have fallen over it, and injured their organs
of philoprogenitiveness and Number One. All the world has
known for some time, that they intended to resign on the
meeting of Parliament — for they had got quarrelsome in their
helplessness — as teething childhood, or toothless age.
Tickler. I wish your friend Brougham, James, would publish
his epistolary correspondence with the King during his Lordship's
late visit to Scotland.
Shepherd. But wouldna that be exposing family — that is,
Cabinet secrets? And Hairy would never do that, after the
dressin he is thocht to hae gien Durham on that pint. Besides,
it would be awfu' to publish the King's letters to him
without his Majesty's consent!
Tickler. I think I can promise him his Majesty's permission
to publish all the letters the Lord Chancellor ever received in
Scotland from his most Gracious Master.
North. Umph. The vol. would sell — title, Letters from the
Shepherd. Na — that would be stealin the title o' a delichtfu'
wark o' my auld freen Mrs Grant's.¹
North. I think I can promise him Mrs Grant's permission
to publish under the title of what you justly call, James, her
very delightful work, all the letters the Lord Chancellor ever
wrote to his Most Gracious Majesty from Inverness, Elgin,
Dundee, Edinburgh, or Hawick.
Shepherd. A' impediments in the way o' publication being
thus removed, I shall write this verra nicht — sae that my
letter may leave the post-office by to-morrow's post — to Lord
Brumm to send down the MSS. — and they maun be a' holographs
in the parties' ain haun-writing — to Messrs A. and
R. Blackwood — and I shall stay a month in Embro', that I
may correck the press mysel — in which case I howp there
may be a black frost, that at leisure hours we may hae some
North. The Grey Ministry, in its best days, was never,
somehow or other, inordinately admired by the universal
British nation.
¹ Mrs Grant's Letters from the Mountains — i. e. the Highlands of Scotland.
Mrs Grant died in 1838, aged 77.
Tickler. That was odd. For the nation, I have heard it
said, was for Reform to a man.
North. All but some dozen millions or thereabouts. But
people are never so prone to discontent as when they have
had everything their own way — especially when, as it happened
in this case, not one in a thousand knows either what he had
been wanting, or what he has got, or what else he would wish
to have, if at his bidding or beck the sky were willing that
moment to rain it down among his feet.
Tickler. They surely were the most foolish financiers that
ever tried taxation.
North. Of not one of them could it be sung,
"That even the story ran that he could gauge."
They were soon seen to be equally ignorant and incapable
on almost all other subjects; nor — except with Brougham —
was there a gleam of genius — nor a trait of talent beyond mediocrity
— to make occasional amends for their deplorable deficiences
as men of no-business habits, and of non-acquaintance
equally with principles and with details.
Tickler. Hollo! we are forgetting Stanley and Graham.
North. So we are, I declare; but I hope they will forgive
us — since they too often, or rather too long, forgot themselves;
and I should be happy to see them — whether Ins or Outs
— at a Noctes. Their secession left the Reform Ministry in a
state of destitution more pitiable than that of any pauper-family
under the operation of the new Poor-Law.
Tickler. Strange how it contrived to stand for the last six
months; yet all of us must have many a time seen a tree,
Kit, lopped, barked, grubbed — remaining pretty perpendicular
during a season of calm weather — by means of some ligature
so slight as to be invisible — till a brisk breeze smites the
skeleton, and down he goes — whether with or against his own
inclination you can hardly say — so resignedly among the
brushwood cloth he lay his shorn and shaven head.
Shepherd. Haw — Haw — Haw! But it's no lauchin maitter.
I'm glad, after a', sir, that at this creesis you're no Prime
Minister. The Duke 'll hae aneuch to do to get a' richt — and
to keep a' richt — and I only wuss Sir Robert were hame again
frae Tureen.
North. So do I. A Conservative Ministry can now be
formed, stronger in talent, knowledge, eloquence, integrity,
power, and patriotism, than any Ministry the country has had
within the memory of man.
Shepherd. Then whare's the difficulty wi' the Duke?
North. I will tell you, James, some night soon. The difficulties
are strong and formidable — and there must be a dissolution.

Tickler. The Ex-Chancellor has assured us that the Press
has lost all its power — so the elections will not be disturbed
by that engine. The Whigs disdain to use bribery and corruption
— and the Rads, for sufficient reasons, seldom commit
such sins. No Reformer would condescend to receive a consideration
from a Tory. A fair field, therefore, lies open to all
parties; and, though not of a sanguine but melancholious
temperament, I will bet a barrel of oysters with any man that
the new House of Commons will back the Duke.
North. He will carry, by large majorities, all his measures
of Conservative Reform in Church and State. He did so
before the Bill was the law of the land — and he will do so
now that it is the law of the land; but, to speak plainly, gentlemen,
I am getting confounded sleepy — and I feel as if I were
speaking in a night-cap.
Shepherd. And I as if there were saun¹ in ma een — sae gie's
your airm, sir, and I sail be the chaumermaid that lichts you
till your bed. It's wiçe² in you to lodge in the Road sic a
nicht. — Do ye hear him — "tirlin the kirks?" Be a good boy,
and never forget to say your prayers. [Exeunt the Tres.
¹ Saun — sand.
² Wiçe — wise.
(JANUARY 1835.)
Scene, — Old Blue Parlour, Ambrose's, Gabriel's Bead.
Time — Eight.
North. Yes, James! I do indeed love my country with a
passionate devotion — of all my heart, all my soul, and all my
mind — far beyond the imagination of your citizen of the world,
or your —
Shepherd. Imagination! Your citizen o' the warld hasna
aboon an inch thick o' soil on his sowl; and the substratum
is a cauld till, that keeps the vegetation shiverin on the surface
in a perpetual ague.
Tickler. Good.
Shepherd. Yet vegetation's ower strang a name for the
meagre mixtur o' weeds and moss mopin aloof frae the happy
gerss an' floures — aye wat wi' a sickly sweat — unvisited by
bee or butterflee — and only at times travelled in haste by the
lang-legged speeder, or the ask that has lost his way —
Tickler. The ask?
North. Or lizard.
Shepherd. They say they're harmless; but I never liked
them, sin' we used to bash them wi' stanes, whan we were
Tickler. A most poetical and Christian prejudice.
Shepherd. Is't? I'm thinkin you're about an equal judge
o' poetry and o' Christianity, sir. But what for spoil a feegurative
expression? Never be critical in conversation, but
accepp what's said — be't the sma'est triffle — frae a man o'
genius — and be thankfu'. Noo, you've interruppit the flaw o'
my ideas, and lost an illustration that you micht hae committed
to memory, and passed it aff as an original ane o' your ain
at the card-club.
North. The climate of Scotland is the best in the whole
circle of the sky.
Shepherd. And the maist beautifu'. Wha daured to say
that the gerss o' Scotland's no green? Is the cheese o' the
moon green? Is a grosert green? Is a guse green? Is a
fairy's mantle green? Are the een o' an angry cat green?
Is a mermaid's hair green? Are the edges o' the Orange
Islands green, that lie in a sea o' purple and vermilion around
the settin sun?
Tickler. There he goes, North.
Shepherd. But no sae green as the gerss o' the Forest,
when June maks his bed on the embodied dews o' May, and
haps himsel up in a coverlet "o' wee modest crimson-tippit
floures" —
North. Daisies.
Shepherd. Just sae — daisies, and their kith and kin — that
by their bauld beauty repel the frosts, and gar them melt awa
in tears o' very shame, pity, and repentance, for ha'in thocht
o' witherin the earliest gifts o' Flora, profusely scattered ower
bank and brae — the sweet-scented, bricht-hued embroidery o'
nature —
"The simmer to nature, my Willie to me!"
Oh sirs! what a line! I could ban Burns for ha'in said it
— instead o' me! But ban I will not — I will bless him — for
by it he has made a' Scotland, and a' the dauchters o' Scotland,
lovelier and mair delichtfu' to every Scottish heart.
North. There he goes, Tickler.
Shepherd. Green indeed! Put on a pair o' green specks, and
you'll ken whether or no the gerss o' Scotland be green. The
optician imbues them wi' as intense a glower o' green as
science can impart to the assisted human ee; but though
they change the snaw into verdure without dissolvin't, they
add nae deeper hue to the sward, sir; — ma faith, that's ayont
the force o' ony artificial focus — for a green licht is native in
every blade on which balances the dewdrap — green licht sae
saft, sae tender, sae delicate, that you wonder hoo at the same
time it should be sae vivid — sae dazzlin I had amaist said —
and I will say't — sae dazzlin; for when the sun, seein some
sicht o' mair especial sweetness far doun below on the happy
earth, canna help breakin out into a shinier smile, aimed frae
His throne on high at the heart o' the verra spat where that
sweetness lies — oh! but that spat grows insupportably beautifu'!
a paradise within a paradise — like — like — like —
Tickler. Like what, James? Don't stutter.
Shepherd. Like a bonny Sabbath among the bonny weekdays
— when they are lovely as the earthly ongoings o' time
can ever be; but it's a heavenly floatin by, wi' something
mair sacred in the blue skies, and something mair holy in the
whiter clouds.
North. God bless you, my dear James.
Tickler. Ditto.
Shepherd. Your hauns, chiels. The English are severe on
our cleemat; and our cleemat, when it catches a Cockney in't,
is still severer on them — lauchin a' the while at the cretur's
astonishment, when a blash o' sleet suddenly blin's his face,
or a hail-dance peppers him — a wee bit malicious whurlwund
havin first reversed his umbrella, and then, whuppin't out o'
his haun, carried it to the back o' beyont — to be picked up
as a curiosity frae Lunnon by some shepherd in anither glen
— in anither glen where a' is lown as faery-land, and the willow
leaves, wi' untwinkling shadows, are imaged in the burnie
that has subsided into sleep, and is scarcely seen, no heard
ava, to wimple in its dream.
North. I do not remember, James, ever to have seen you
under an umbrella.
Tickler. Nor I, James, with even so much as one under
your arm — or used as a walking-stick.
Shepherd. A daft-like walkin-stick indeed is an umbrella!
gie me a gude black-thorn, wi' a spike in't. As for carryin
an umbrella aneath ma oxter — I hae a' my life preferred the
airm o' a bit lassie cleekin mine — and whenever the day comes
that I'm seen unfurlin an umbrella, as I'm walkin or sittin by
mysel, may that day be my last, for it'll be a proof that the
pith's a' out o' me, and that I'm a puir fushionless body, ready
for the kirkyard, and my corp no worth the trouble o' howkin
up. Nae weather-fender for the Shepherd but the plaid! I
look out intil the lift, and as Tamson shooblimely says —
"See the deep fermenting tempest brewed
In the grim evening sky."
But what care I for the grim brewer? What's his browst?
Rain or snaw — or thunner and lichtnin — or a' fowre thegither,
or what's ca'd elemental war? Thunner and lichtnin's
gey awsome in wunter, I confess; and it's an eerie thing,
sirs, to see a whurlwund heapin up a snaw-drift, by the glare
o' heaven's angry ee, that for a moment alloos you a look intil
the nicht! And nae man kens what thunner is, wha hasna
heard it deadened intil sullen, wrathfu' groans, — for they're no
peals — they're no peals yon — again' the sides o' hills, snaw--
shrooded — that groan in their turns — but in fear, no in
anger — as if some strange judgment had found out the damned
in their hour of respite, and were ordering them to rise up
again to dree the trouble of the guilty dead. It's nae exaggeration,
sir. Lord safe us! what'n a howl!
Tickler. James, send round the jug.
Shepherd. I'll dae nae sic thing, Timothy. The jug's mine
ain; but I'll gie you a glass frae my jug if yours is dune, or
gotten cauld —
Tickler. That's unconscionable. Pray, when did you discover
that the jug was your own? Till now it has been common
property during the evening.
North. It has, indeed, my dear James.
Shepherd. Then why didna you mention that suner? for I've
been treatin't as individual property this last half-hour —
North. And I, seeing with what a resolute grasp you held
the handle, have been taking an occasional taste of the Glenlivet,
in a succession of small drains such as King Oberon
might turn up his little finger to, as he raised to his lips the
rose-chalice, trembling to the brink with dewdrops brightening
in the lustre of Titania's eyes, as she longed for the genial
hour of love, soon about to be ushered in by the moonshine
already beginning to smooth their nuptial bed on that bank of
Shepherd. Eh? Say you the Glenlivet smells like violets?
(Puts the Tower of Babel to his nose). It does that — a perfect
North. No land on earth like Scotland for the landscape--
painter. Skies! I have lived for years in Italy — and —
Shepherd. And speak the language like a native, I'll answer
for that — for I never understood Dante, till I heard you read
up the greatest part o' Hell ae nicht in your ain study. Yon's
fearsome. The terzza rima's an infernal measure — and you
let the lines rin intil ane anther wi' the skill o' a Lucifer.
When every noo and then you laid doun the volumm on your
knees — mercy on us! a great big volumm wi' clasps just like
the Bible — and receeted a screed that you had gotten by heart
— I could hae thocht that you was Dante himsel — the great
Florentine — for your vice keept tollin like a bell — as if some
dark spirit within your breist were pu'in the rope — some
demon o' which you was possessed; till a' at ance it grew saft
and sweet in the soun' as the far-aff tinkling o' the siller bells
on the bridle-reins o' the snaw-white palfrey o' the Queen o'
the Fairies — as I hae heard them i' the Forest, — but that was
lang, lang syne — for my ears in comparison wi' what they
were when I was a mere child, are as if they were stuffed wi'
cotton — then they could hear the gerss growin by moonlicht
— or a drip o' dew slippin awa into naething frae the primrose-leaf.

North. Most episodical of Shepherds! Much nonsense has
been written about Italian skies. True that they are more
translucent than ours — and that one sometimes feels as if he
not only saw higher up into heaven, but as if he were delightfully
received into it, along with the earth, so perfectly pure
the ether that it spiritualises all the imagery, as well as the
being of him who gazes on it, and all are united together in
the beautiful repose of joy, as if the dewy prime of nature were
all one with the morning of life!
Shepherd. Haena I felt a' that, and mair, in the Forest?
North. You may, James—but then, James, you are a poet
—and I am not
Shepherd. That's true.
North. To feel so I had to go to Italy. That clime worked
so even upon me, who am no poet. What then would be its
effect on the Ettrick Shepherd ?
Shepherd. I should grow Licht in the head—as I did the first
time I blew saip-bubbles frae a pipe.
Tickler. How was that, James ? I never heard that tale.
Shepherd. I hae nae tale to tell; but it sae happened that I
had never heard tell o' blawin saip-bubbles frae a pipe till I
was aucht year auld—the maist poetical pok perhaps in the
life o' a great untaucht original genius.
Tickler. Millions of poets are cut off ere they reach that epoch!
Shepherd. And mony million mair by teethin —
Tickler. And the gripes.
Shepherd. That's tautology — teethin includes the gripes
— though you may hae forgotten't; but great wits hae short
memories — that's proverbial — sae let me proceed.
Tickler. Wet your whistle.
Shepherd. My whustle's never dry. I had seen a lassie
doin't; and though she couldna do't weel, yet even sic bubbles
as she blew — she was a verra bonny bit lassie — appeared to
my imagination mair beautifu' than ony ither sicht my een
had ever beheld — no exceppin the blab o' hinny that I used to
haud up atween me and the licht, afore I sooked it, after I had
flung awa, in twa halves, the bumbee that had gathered it
partly frae the clover and partly frae the heather-floures.
Tickler. How amiable is infant cruelty!
Shepherd. And how detestable the cruelty o' auld age!
That verra day I took up the saip¹ — I remember the shape
and size o' the cut at this moment — and bat a bit aff — makin
it appear by the nibblin o' my teeth, as if the thief had been a
Tickler. How amiable is infant hypocrisy!
Shepherd. Whare was ye last nicht, you auld Archimawgo?
I then laid hauns on a new pipe my faither had brocht frae
Selkirk in a present for my mother — for the rutty was worn
doun to an inch, and had ower strong a smell even for the
mild wives; but as for my mother, she was then in the prime
o' life, and reckoned verra like the Duchess; and havin provided
mysel wi' a tea-cup and a drap water, I stole out intil
what ance had been the garden o' Ettrick Ha', and sat doun
aneath ane o' the elm-trees, as big then as they are noo — and
in solitude, wi' a beatin heart, prepared my suds. I quaked
a' the same as if I had been gaun to do something wickit —
North. Shakespearean.
Tickler. Nothing equal to it in Massinger.
Shepherd. Wi' a trummlin heart — indeed a' in a trummle —
I put the mooth o' the pipe as gently's I could on the precious
saip-and-water, and it sooked in the wee bells till they a'
made but ae muckle bell, on which depended a' my happiness
for that day at least, for in my agitation I let the tea-cup
fa' — though thank God it didna break — and a' my hopes were
¹ Saip — soap,
in the bole o' that pipe, and it was limited to that ae single
charge! I drew in my breath — and I held in my breath — wi'
the same sort o' shiver that a wean gies afore gaun into the
dookin — and then I let out ae sigh after anither sigh — hainin
my breath — when oh! ineffable and inconceivable happiness!
the bells grew intil bubbles! and the bubbles intil balloons!
and the balloons intil meteors! and the meteors intil moons!
a' irradiated wi' lustre, a thousand times mair mony-coloured
than the rainbow — each in itsel a wee glorious globe o' a
warld — and the beautifu' series followin ane anither up the
air, as if they were sailin awa to heaven. I forgot utterly
that they were saip-suds, and thocht them what they seemed
to be — creturs o' the element! — till first ane and then anither
— ah waes me! gaed out — and left me staunin forlorn wi' my
pipe in my haun aneath the auld elm-tree, as if the warld I
breathed in was altered back intil what it was before — and I,
Jamie Hogg, again at ance a schoolboy and a herd, likely to
get his licks baith frae Mr Beattie the dominie, and auld Mr
Laidlaw — instead o' muntin up to heaven as the bubbles
munted up to heaven, to find our name in the sky! I looked
sideways to the houses — and there was my mother fleein
towards me — shakin her nieve, and ca'in me "Sorrow" —
and demandin hoo I daured to meddle wi' that pipe? The
stalk at that moment broke into ten pieces in my hand! and
the head o' the pipe, pale as death, trundled at my feet. I
felt my crime to be murder — and without a struggle submitted
to my mother, who gave me my paiks,¹ which I took as silent
as a fox. Severe disenchantment! Yet though my ears tingled,
when I touched them, till bedtime, I was an unreformed sinner
in sleep — and blew dream-saip-bubbles frae a visionary pipe
up the ether of imagination, uninterrupted, unterrified, and
unpunished by any mortal mother — dream-saip-bubbles far
transcendin in purest loveliness even them for which I had
wept; and isna't a strange thocht, sirs, to think that the
sowl in sleep's capable o' conceivin what's even mair beautifu'
and mair evanescent than the first perfect heavenly joy that a
puir wee bit poetic laddie like me ever experienced in the
waukin warld?
North. What better have we been pursuing all our lives!
Shepherd. Said ye pursuin? I didna pursue them — I
¹ Paiks — a beating.
stood rooted to the grund. I gazed on them as glories that I
knew a breath would destroy. I feared to breathe for fear the
air would break their pictured sides — for ilka ane as it arose
glistened wi' changefu' pictures — painted a' roun' and roun'
wi' wee clouds, and as I thocht wee trees — the globes seemin
rather to contain the scenery within them like sae mony floatin
lookin-glasses — and some o' them shinin wi' a tiny sun o' its
ain, — the image it might be — the reflected image — o' the great
sun that illumines not only this warld but the planetary
North. Well, James! what better have we been gazing at
all our lives?
Tickler. That ROUND OF BEEF, Kit.
Shepherd. Timothy's speakin sense, and we twa hae been
speakin nonsense; and yet that Round o' Beef, though there's
nae fear, I howp, o' his floatin awa up the air and meltin in a
drap o' saip-and-water, is but a bubble in his way too, and
corned though he be, look for him to-morrow, and you will find
him not.
Tickler. Yet is he a prize buttock.
North. Transitory as a prize poem.
Shepherd. In Eternity as short will be the date of that still
larger round — the Earth.
North. Not any more mustard, Timothy. (TICKLER hands
a substantial sandwich across the table to NORTH.) Thank ye,
Tim. Depth, three half inches — the middle layer in a pepper-and-salt
coat, rather the thinnest of the three — no fat but round
the edges — and confound crust. There's a recipe for a beef
sandwich; and if you ask to take a lesson how to eat one, pray
observe the mode of opening a mouth like a gentleman — wide,
without gaping — and, having fixed that in your memory,
attend to the difference between a civilised swallow and a barbarous
bolt. — There! that was a civilised swallow; and, by
the law of contrast, you have already, in fair imagination, a
barbarous bolt. But we are rambling; and I remember we
were discussing the skies of Italy in comparison with those of
Scotland. Saw ever Italy such storms as Scotland sees?
Shepherd. In some spat or ither, amaist every day o' her life.
Tickler. Yes, she does; and such storms, too, as Scotland
never sees. For all our volcanoes are dead; and except now
and then a slight shiver about Comrie, she never had an earthquake.

North. Shelley says grandly —
"As when some greater painter dips
His pencil in the gloom of earthquake and eclipse."
I forget whether the word is earthquake or thunder.
Shepherd. An' it's nae great maitter.
North. Is there any great picture of an earthquake? or of
an eclipse?
Shepherd. Ye mean in iles or canvass?
North. I do. I know of none — but, were there fifty, I stake
my credit on the assertion, that all of them together would not
do the business to imagination so perfectly as one line and a
half in Milton —
"Disastrous twilight sheds, with fear of change
Perplexing monarchs."
Shepherd. I've written as gude a line and a half as thae —
but I've forgotten a' my poetry, except some sangs. But keep
to the pint.
North. Great painters will rarely seize, I think, on the
throes of mother Earth, or on the agonies of father Uranus.
In earthquake, she seems to be too ruefully rent — in eclipse,
he seems to be too disastrously darkened — for us, their children,
to desire to see one or other so painted; but poetry can sublime
them both by some mighty moral, gathering up the supernatural
trouble into a few words, and then by applying it
illustratively to human life, magnifying both images — making
them both more portentous and prodigious by their natural
reaction on the imagination.
Shepherd. I suspeck, sir, that's verra gude. After a', there's
naething like poetry.
North. And no poets like the poets of Britain. But the
truth is, James, that there is no country like Britain; and that
her children far excel all the rest of mankind equally in imagination
and in intellect.
Shepherd. Are you sure o' that, sir, and can you pruve't?
North. I am sure of it, and I can prove it in one sentence,
to the dissatisfaction of all the rest of mankind. What mortal
man, in universality of genius, ever equalled Shakespeare?
Shepherd. That's a poser. I defy the rest o' mankind,
leevin or deid, to parry that thump. You've knocked them
a' doun, sir, wi' ae hit on the universal jugular.
North. What mortal man ever equalled Newton?
"God said, Let Newton be — and all was light!"
Shepherd. Nane. That's a sickener on the stamack.
North. What mortal man ever equalled Bacon?
Shepherd. What, auld Roger?
North. No, James — Francis.
Shepherd. Ou ay — Francie! — In whattt? Howsomever
that's a settler on the kidneys.
North. What mortal man in majestic wisdom of moral imagination
— that is, "in the vision and the faculty divine," ever
equalled Milton?
Shepherd. The shooblimest o' a' poems, though a silly shepherd
says sae, assuredly is Paradise Lost. The blind bard was
a seraph.
North. I have done; and merely ask, where we are to look
for the equals of Spenser and Wordsworth?
Shepherd. Dinna weaken your argument, sir; nor shall I,
or I micht ask where we are to find a Scott and a Byron — or
a Burns — or —
Tickler. An Ettrick Shepherd.
Shepherd. Dinna indulge in personalities, Mr Tickler. I'm
satisfied to be the Scottish Theocritus.
(Enter in two columns, the Ambrosial brethren, with their
tails, and the usual supplies.)
North. How are you, gentlemen ?
Omnes (in all kinds of voices). Pretty bobbish.
Shepherd. What kind o' an answer's that to make Mr North,
ye neerdoweels? And it maun be preconcerted — for wha ever
heard tell o' twa columms o' waiters, each wi' its ain maister
at its heid, without pre-concert, and in perfect unison, cryin
out in tenor, treble, and base, "Pretty bobbish?" For shame
o' yoursels I answer me wysslike¹ — Hoo's a wi' ye, lads?
Omnes (in all kinds of voices). All alive and kicking.
[They deposit the dishes, and deploy out of the room in gallopade,
TAPPYTOORIE, to the great delight of the family,
hitting his hurdies with his heels, and disappearing in a
Shepherd. I've lang gien up wonderin at onything; but
there couldna weel be fewer than twa score. Mony faces glowered
on me, as the columns deployed, some wi' goggle and some
¹ Wysslike — in a becoming manner.
wi' pig een — some wi' snouts and some wi' snubs — and think
you yon black-a-viced man wi' the white teeth could be a
North. The truth is, my dear James, that thousands of
strangers in Edinburgh — many of them from foreign countries
— are perennially dying to see the Ettrick Shepherd in all his
glory at a Noctes; and I lately discovered, by the merest accident,
that Ambrose, out of the purest humanity — for you
know he is above all selfish motives — has been in the practice
— since we resumed our sittings — to admit as many of the
more distinguished as the parlour can prudently hold, on account
of the flooring, into his Tail, and into the Tail, too, of
Mon. Cadet. The black-a-viced gentleman is, as you conjectured,
a blackamoor. The Duke of Lemonade — fresh from St
Shepherd. And the Tawney?
North. That was the Marquess of Marmalade, the duke's
eldest son, by a French countess, who survived the Great
Massacre, and was the beauty of Port-au-Prince.
Shepherd. I howp Mr Awmrose 'ill be kind to the Duke and
Marquess in the bar, and no let them want for onything reasonable
in the way o' drink. Noo, sirs, dinna distrack my attention
frae the boord, for it requires as meikle thocht to play
a supper o' this complicated character as a game at chess.
You twa are at liberty to speak to ane anither, but no to me;
and mind that ye converse in a laigh,¹ or at least moderate
key, that ye dinna wax warm and smite the table or your
threes, and, aboon a' things else, that ye flee na up in ane anither's
faces in a rage, and gie ane anither the lee. Be temperate,
for I canna help fearin the kintra's in a predicament.
Thir² are prime.
North. You may perhaps remember, Mr Hogg, that at last
Noctes, in reply to a question of yours — If I thought there
would be any serious disturbance in the country on account of
the dissolution of the Ministry? I said, that I thought there
would be a great deal of ludicrous disturbance, and that the
people would experience so many difficulties in preserving a
grave countenance, that they would very soon desist from the
attempt, and find relief in general laughter.
Shepherd. I'm no hearkenin, and your words in my lugs
¹ Laigh — low.
² Thir — these.
seem to follow ane anither wi' that kind o' connection that
micht be expeckit amang written slips o' paper read, as they
cam to haun, out o' a hat.
North. Has it not been even so, Tickler? I see "in the Sun a
mighty angel stand," waving a broadsword all over Scotland.
Tickler. On such occasions the London papers, in the adverse
faction, always tell the people of England to look at Us.
We are always in a flame of patriotism — the conflagration
spreads over the country like a thousand fires in the season of
heather-burning, when every hill has its beacon.
North. And in the smoke the stars are stifled like bees
in brimstone, and fall hissing into the lochs.
Tickler. I contemplated the meeting in the Grassmarket¹
from one of the eyes of the White Hart, and felt ashamed of
Auld Reekie. In that vast area I have seen fifty thousand
people, all gazing intently on one man, who was making them
a speech. "Ladies and gentlemen," said the orator, with
hands impressively folded across his breast, "on rising to address
you on this occasion, I feel it to be a duty incumbent
on me to deviate from the usual practice of my predecessors
in the chair, and to declare, with a voice that will be heard all
over Scotland, that so far from charging the fair sex with having
been the cause of my downfall — which is now near at
hand — for I am about to relinquish the situation which I have
for a good many years held in this city — I have ever found
them the best of friends — and that had I taken their advice
earlier in my career, although my life might not have been
one of such adventure — and, without presumption, I may even
say, achievement — nor my death witnessed by so numerous
and highly respectable an assemblage of my fellow-citizens —
(and here he bowed all round) — I might on the whole have
been a happier man. With my last words, therefore, I beg
the ladies to accept the assurance of my sincerest gratitude,
highest respect, and warmest affection." And so saying, he
dropped the handkerchief, and in air danced the usual solo.
Shepherd. Wasna the rubber a sodger?
Tickler. When I thought of that orator and that audience,
¹ "At Edinburgh, on the 21st November 1834, there was a great meeting
(of Reformers) in the Grassmarket. The numbers have been estimated at
from 10,000 to 15,000. The Lord Provost took the chair. Sir T. D. Lauder,
Mr Wemyss, Mr R. W. Jameson, Mr J. Baird, Sir James Gibson-Craig, and
Bailie M'Claren, moved and seconded the resolutions." — Spectator, 1834, p.1132.
and the sublime sympathy that stilled the vast assemblage
while he spoke — and then looked at the pitiful crew standing
on the shabby scaffold, all of them like criminals guilty of no
particular crime, but somehow or other invested with the mean
air of servants out of livery and out of place — I could not but
very painfully feel the disheartening and humiliating contrast;
nor was my shame for the degeneracy of my countrymen not
exacerbated by the miserable and wretched speeches emitted
in voices that alternately played cheep! and peep! or sputtered
out in syllables that seemed composed of slaver, and
left most of their fluency on the waistcoats of the delirious
idiot drivelling about Claverhouse and Bothwell-bridge.
North. Why, he is their crack orator.
Tickler. The mob near the scaffold was very far indeed from
resembling the swell-mob. It looked like the last relics of a
meal-mob, that had scattered on the streets what it should
have put in its stomach — or rather like a general meeting of
your friends the old clothesmen.
North. My friends the old clothesmen — I beg you to be civil.
Tickler. You know you always knock them down simply for
popping the question.¹ But they were far from being enthusiastic.

North. You seldom find united in one and the same individual
the extremes of enthusiasm and hunger.
Tickler. I did not say they all looked hungry — though I do
not doubt many of them were so — but they almost all looked
as if they had been drunk the night before, and kept spitting
till they stood in a puddle of phlegm. 'Twas rather a raw day,
and the afternoon of a raw day towards the end of November, in
the Grassmarket, is not favourable to noses. The cheekery
got sallower and sallower as the light declined, and the mob
began to snifter, and wipe its nose on its sleeve — dangerous
symptoms of anger and disgust. It then began to swear and
to cut jokes, and only wanted spirit for a row. "Spunks —
spunks — spunks — who will buy my spunks?" — cried an errant
voice with a beseeching earnestness, that wershified the insipidity
of the patriot at that moment advising his Majesty to
¹ It is reported that the Professor once read a salutary lesson to these pests
of the Edinburgh streets, by flooring on the spot one of their number who
had been particularly pertinacious in his inquiries after the Professor's cast-off
look to his crown, and Jock's appeal to the sympathy of the
shiverers excited an abortive guffaw.
Shepherd. Wha leuch?
Tickler. The meanest of mankind are yet susceptible of
shame, and from the outskirts of the mob I saw slinkings
away into closes, and heard sulky proposals, such as "Come
awa, Jamie — for I never heard sic haverers; come awa, and
let's join for a dram."
Shepherd. Wi' a' my heart. Your health, sir.
Tickler. There had not at the thickest been more than a
couple of thousand near the scaffold, and as the mob thinned,
and you could see through "its looped and windowed raggedness,"
you could not help admiring how the lowest rabble in
Scotland contrive to have such fair skins.
North. Cutaneous diseases are now chiefly confined to
Tickler. True, I seldom go there now for fear of catching
the itch.
North. 'Tis a retribution on them for all their wit on the
Scotch fiddle.
Tickler. Had these poor fellows attended to their own
business instead of the affairs of the state, they might all,
with the regular wages going, have clad themselves decently
on week-days, and had a Sunday suit; whereas, you never
saw out of Ireland such apologies for breeches; and one
radical at a distance I mistook for a Highlandman, whose
imagined kilt of the Macgregor tartan, on somewhat nearer
inspection appeared in its true colours — those of a dirty
Shepherd. I hae been tryin a' I could no to hear you—but
I hae been obliged, whether I would or no, to follow the
threid o' your discourse, like a speeder waverin apparently
again' his wull in the wund —
North. On a line of his own spinning, James; but, Shepherd,
you are like the fly, unwittingly caught in the spider's
Shepherd. I dinna like to hear you abusin puir folk.
North. Come, come, James — much as I esteem you, I shall
not suffer you to utter such stuff.
Shepherd. Weel, weel, then — I eat in my words.
North. I love the people of Scotland, James, and they
know it. A nobler race never toiled for bread. Abuse the
poor, indeed! — No —
"An honest man's the noblest work of God" —
And Scotland is full of them — of men in low degree, on
whose hearts nature has set her own badge of highest merit,
that to my eyes shines brighter than any silver star. The
commonalty of Scotland has produced many of her greatest
geniuses and most heroic patriots — and will continue to
produce them; but independently of such produce rich and
rare, I love the people for the sake of the virtues of their own
condition, on which the country, equally in time of peace and
of war, for her happiness and her safety mainly relies. And
now that the political privileges of the people have been
extended — though to such extension I was adverse, and gave
reasons for my opposition which never yet have been refuted
— so far from finding fault with their exercise of those privileges,
I would despise them now whom I have heretofore
admired, were they not to value them highly, and to consider
every case in which they think themselves called to use their
rights, as a case of conscience.
Shepherd. Soun' doctrine that — and high sentiment too —
just like yoursel!
North. Nay, I shall always make great allowance for them
in times of excitement; and the moment you hear me call them
mob or rabble, get me cognosced, and confined, and let the
Lodge be let.
Shepherd. I should in that case hae nae objections to sit
in't rent-free, provided the trustees would only pay the taxes,
and the wages o' the gardener for keepin up the place, and
the gravel-walks tidy — for o' a' things on the yerth I do
maist detest and abhor chicken-weed and siclike trailin trash
chokin up the boxwood and ither odoriferous plants, sae that
you micht maw the avenue wi' a scythe, and put up into cocks
a kind o' coorse product, atween hay and strae and rashes,
that stirks in wunter wad eat rather than starve.
North. But no friends, James, of the people are they who
collect such ragamuffin congregations of the dregs of the
lowest canaille as that which disgraced the Grassmarket, and
libel the lower orders by addressing the insignificant assortment
of small gangs, as if they represented the worth and
intelligence, and industry, and patriotism of the Working
Classes. Why, Tickler tells me that the few scores belonging
to that excellent order stood aloof in knots with their
aprons on, for a short while regarding the proceedings with
indifference or contempt, and then walking away, with a
laugh or a frown, to their afternoon's work. It is a stupid
mistake, and shows utter ignorance of their characters, to
believe that the respectable mechanics of Edinburgh like to
see magistrates and gentlemen descending to a level on which
they themselves would scorn to stand. They think and say —
I have heard more than one of them say so — that they wonder
how their superiors in station can submit to such degradation
as they themselves, humble men as they are, would spurn; and
are surprised how they are permitted to do so by their wives.
Shepherd. The wives o' the workin classes, I ken, aye set
their faces against their husbands attendin sic riff-raffery
affairs; for in nae ither class o' society hae honest men's
wives mair becoming pride, and in amaist every woman's
breist there is a natural repugnance to a' pursuits — except it
be an occasional ploy — that tak her man frae his wark or his
fireside — and especially to sic as embitter and exasperate his
temper, which politics, as they're ca'd, are certain sure to do,
and to mak him a domestic tyrant at last.
North. What cruel wickedness is involved in these two
words — Domestic Tyrant!
Shepherd. The chiel, frae abusin the misgovernment o' the
kintra, and the misdirection o' public affairs, and a' things
whatsomever in the wide warld — the haill system in short, sir,
o' our foreign and domestic policy — acquires a habit o' faut--
findin that he applies to the mismanagement o' the hame
department within his ain door-cheeks — and the neibours hear
him flytin on the gudewife like a tinkler, till at last he taks
to the harlin o' her alang the flure by the hair o' the heid —
and some nicht the poleish¹ enter at the cry o' murder, and
carry the Radical Reformer to the shells.²
North. Strang — strang — strang — James.
Shepherd. Mind ye, sirs, I'm no sayin this is the common
character o' Radical Reformers amang mechanics. It is an
extreme case — the cry of murder. For a woman will thole a
hantle o' ill-usage afore she breaks out either in fury or fear
at her husband, rememberin the days o' their youth. But
¹ Poleish — police.
² Shells — cells.
the peace o' the fireside may be sair disturbit without things
comin till that extremity; and I mainteen it 's no in the natur
o' things that ony hard-workin, contented, decent, douce,
domestic chiel wi' a wife, and of coorse weans, can lang busy
himsel wi' correckin the abuses o' church and state, without
suner than he suspecks becomin rather idlish, gey sour, no just
sae ceevil in his mainner as he used to be, upsettin, and proud
o' being the cock o' the company whare ilka bit bantam maun
hae its craw — instead o' happy in bein' the cock o' his ain
roost, chucklin by the soft side o' his ain chucklin hen, as
bonny as if she were yet a yearock, though she has been
aften clackin, and has bred up chickens that are some o' them
doin for themsels, and the rest cheerfully runnin about and
pickin crumbs frae the floor.
North. Tickler, how pleasingly he illustrates his political
and economical views!
Shepherd. Safe us! what's become o' a' the oysters! — You
hae aye been a great freen, sir, o' the educatin o' the People.
North. Always. I shall give my support to no Ministry that
does not strive with all its might and main to effect that
object. The late Ministry deserved praise for what they did;
and we shall show ourselves a strange nation indeed if we
grudge any grant of the public monies, however magnificent,
to be employed in spreading and establishing knowledge in the
Shepherd. Wasna't twunty thousand pounds?
North. And too little. What if it were a hundred thousand?
The mind of the people would repay it — in hard cash — a thousandfold.
Even as a Utilitarian, I say — at any cost — let our
twenty-four millions have education.
Shepherd. That's a man.
North. But let us know what we are about — and what we
are to expect — and what are the possibilities of education. I
am willing to believe that a constant progress is making towards
truth, and that this must be for happiness; but any one
who looks at the world and its history may satisfy himself that
for some reason or another this truth was not intended to come
all at once. Either in the human understanding, or the positive
state of the human will, there is some ground wherefore
this should not be. It is not possible, then, nor meant to push
mankind forwards at once into the possession of the inheritance.
There are degrees, and stages; and seeing this, a wise
man is patient and temperate.
Shepherd. Like yoursel.
North. Many men fall into this error, James, by a miscalculating
impatience to bring on at once the reign of truth — that
they foolishly imagine that small portions of truth communicated,
which it is in their power to communicate, are the reign
of truth brought on earth!
Shepherd. Coofs!
North. The truth which is in their power, is that which regards
definite relations — as mathematics, and the science of
matter. Their hasty and enthusiastic imagination seizes on
parcels of this truth, and upon plans for communicating them;
and to judge from their manner of speaking, it foresees consequences
of a magnitude and excellence, conceivable only if all
truth were to have possession of the human heart.
Shepherd. You're gettin rather beyond my depth — yet by
drappin my fit I feel grund; only, tak tent you dinna droon
me in some plum.¹
North. In judging the past, James, we are not to condemn
errors, simply because they were errors. They were, many
of them, the necessary guidance of man!
Shepherd. Alas! for puir man, if he had had nae sic Christianity
even as the Roman Catholic religion afforded him in
the dark ages.
North. Alas! for him indeed, my dear Shepherd. Neither
are we to judge the total effect of the error by the effect of the
excess of that error.
Shepherd. Eh?
North. Not, for instance, to judge the total effect of monastic
orders by the worst pictures of sloth and vice which monasteries
have afforded — not the total effect of Aristotle's Dialectics,
if erroneous, or erroneously used, by the most frivolous
and vain of the school-subtleties — not the effect of the Roman
Catholic religion at a Spanish or English auto-da-fé.²
Shepherd. I canna but agree wi' you. — But look at Tickler
(yawning), isna he sleepin?
North. Our business, my dear pastor, is not to hunt error
¹ Plum — a perpendicular fall.
² This is a repetition, no doubt inadvertent, of a remark made by Tickler in
vol. iii., p. 209.
out of the world, but to invite and induce truth. It is a work
not of enmity, but of love; and, with all my admiration of Lord
Brougham, I cannot think his temper and method as a moral
teacher so good as those of Socrates.
Shepherd. You'll forgie me, sir — but I never can help suspectin
that a man's getting a wee dullish or sae — even if
that man should happen to be yoursel — when I experience a
growin diffeeculty in keepin up my lids. What think you
noo, sir, o' the prospects o' the Government?
North. The same I thought of them at last Noctes. Sir
Robert Peel had not then arrived from Rome;¹ but I knew he
would be Premier — Wellington Foreign Secretary — and Lyndhurst
Chancellor — and I said that the strongest Ministry would
be formed the country had seen since the time of Pitt. I added
there would be a dissolution, and that the Government would
have many formidable difficulties to encounter and overcome
in the new Parliament.
Shepherd. Sagawcious.
North. I heard a gentleman, who, I presume, has studied
politics, and declares that he belongs to the juste milieu, prophesy
— that was his word — that in two months the King would,
much against his will, send for Lord Stanley, and request him
to form a Ministry; and I wish Gurney to record the prophesy,
that this philosopher of the golden mean may enjoy through
life the halo that will glorify his brows ever after its fulfilment.

Shepherd. Wha was't? And what said ye till the man o'
North. I never mention the names of private persons at a
Noctes; and I said nothing to him, for I make it a rule never
to disturb any friend's self-complacency, so long as his remarks
are innocent.
Shepherd. And that, sir, was indeed as innocent a remark
as ever was lisped by a babby about a change o' kittens.
North. The greater and indeed the lesser prophets were inspired
direct from heaven — and I do not believe that my
worthy friend, who is such an enemy to extremes, thought of
¹ On the dissolution of the Melbourne Ministry, in November 1834, Sir
Robert Peel was summoned from Rome, where he was then residing, for the
purpose of forming a new Administration. He continued at the head of the
Government until May 1835, when a Whig Ministry, with Lord Melbourne as
Premier, again came into office.
claiming Elijah's mantle, or that he imagined he had had communion
with the spirit
"That touch'd Isaiah's hallowed lips with fire."
To another class of prophetic personages, called seers, he could
not well suppose he belonged, as they are always Highlanders.
But he was born of Lowland parents in the Luckenbooths — so
he cannot have the second-sight — nor to his eyes "coming
events cast their shadows before." Milton, again, speaks of
the sages whose
"Old experience doth attain
To something like prophetic strain;"
but my friend is not forty, and his experience has been circumscribed
within a somewhat narrow circle. He could not, therefore,
have been in Milton's eye.
Shepherd. He maun o' necessity, then, belang till that class
o' prophets that are ca'd simple conjecturers — because they're
nae conjurers. He'll hae just knowledge aneuch to ken frae
the newspapers that Lord Stanley didna quite like the noo
to join Ministers, and that he has been praised for hangin
back by the Whiggamores, though, between you and me, sir,
he's nae favourite noo wi' them, and like to be less sae afore
seed-time. And as nae man o' mediocrity wad ever dream o'
Durham's being Premier, the simple conjecturer couldna weel
help prophesying — sae he was determined to prophesy — that
Stanley would be the man.
North. I believe you have hit it, James. But was not two
months too short a term?
Shepherd. Ratherly — But the simple conjecturer, though nae
conjurer, had seen in the papers that the new Ministry would
be refused the supplies by the new House — and takin that for
gospel, he fixed his time, and I only wonder he alloo'd Sir Robert
to be Premier aboon sax weeks. But what think ye, sir?
North. I think that nothing could be more amusing than the
serious view taken by part of the press of the temporary dictatorship
of the Duke of Wellington. The "wearifu' woman"
of the Morning Chronicle for three weeks, without one moment's
intermission, kept up a mumbling and maundering vituperation
of the Duke, whom for lengthiness she classically called
Dictator, for having put all the seals of office, in a bunch, into
his pocket, and being resolved to keep them there as long as
he chose, to the indignation, disgust, and horror of the entire
British nation, who, she said, at such an unconstitutional spectacle,
rose up as one man. As one man, however, it appeared,
that the entire British nation almost immediately sat down
again — much to the "wearifu' woman's" exasperation, who
insisted still more vociferously that the entire British nation
should once more get on its legs.¹
Shepherd. She micht hae mummled till she was black i' the
North. The best-natured old woman in the world would
lose her temper, James, if nobody were to listen to her, or
even so much as to pretend not to see her, but if everybody
were to walk by, as if in the still of the evening silence accompanied
their steps. The "wearifu' woman" was irritated even
to madness by such usage. Like an aged clergyman of our
acquaintance — now, alas! no more — who, in a brain fever,
preached in his bed — supported by pillows, and supposing
himself in a succession of pulpits — the same sermon twenty-seven
times in twenty-seven hours — each time fondly believing
it to be a different discourse; — so snoozed away — column
after column of the same eternal lamentation — for she seemed
at last more in sorrow than in anger, though much in both —
the "wearifu' woman" of the Chronicle of the rosy-fingered
Morn. Incredible as it may be held — from extracts of her
distraction cruelly published in the Sun — in her own broadsheet
they were only printed — there is but too good reason to
fear that she thinks she is but entering on her career; and if
such steps are not taken as humanity suggests, she may keep
at it well on into the ensuing year!
¹ "It is a fact that, during the three weeks which elapsed between the dismissal
of the Melbourne Ministry and the arrival of Sir Robert Peel from Italy
to form another, the entire duties of the Executive Government were performed
by the Duke of Wellington, without any apparent deficiency in, or detriment
to, the public service. The Whig newspapers were indignant — as became them,
being partisans — at this 'Dictatorship;' but the people did not trouble themselves
about it, being rather pleased than otherwise at the efficiency of 'The
Duke,' who had recovered the popularity he lost in 1830-33. It is proper to
mention, as the matter has been misrepresented and exaggerated, that in June
1831, when the Duke 'made a fortress of Apsley House' (as has been gravely
writ in history), all he actually did was to put up jalousies, or outer window-blinds,
such as are common to most houses in the principal cities of Europe and
America, but had not then been much introduced into England. They are
generally made of wood, whereas those at Apsley House were manufactured of
iron, which had the advantage of durability, and were probably musket-proof
when closed." — American Editor.
Shepherd. The wonder's no in the words; for memory —
though it never surveeves the ither faculties — and here it
appears they are a' dead — can continue to repeat it by rote to
the very last — as I ascertained in the case o' an auld parrot,
that after a brain-fivver becam a sort o' idiwut. As for teachin
him a new word — if it had been but a single syllable — you
micht as weel hae tried to teach a stuffed specimen the unknown
tongue. You may judge o' his imbecility frae ae fact,
that he had forgotten the way to eat. Yet, like your freen
the minister, sir, and the "wearifu' woman," he keepit a command
o' his vocabulary to the last; and I daurna tell you the
words that fell out frae atween bis big tongue and his dry
pallet the versa minute afore he expired — but they were fearsome!
— and the only excuse for the cretur was, that he had
picked them up at sea. But what think ye o' the prospects
o' the new Government?
North. Sir Robert's address to his constituents is all that
the nation could desire — and the policy announced in it may
be supported, without either sacrifice or compromise of a single
principle, by all Conservatives.
Shepherd. That's aneuch for me. You've said it, and whatever
you say is richt.
North. Oh, shame to the selfishness — the pelf rather than
the power-craving selfishness — that instigates needy or greedy
knaves to be such fools as to say, that no statesman that
opposed the bill of Parliamentary Reform should ever be suffered
to take part in the government of the affairs of the
Shepherd. Hoots, toots! you're fechtin the wund. That
never was said, sir?
North. Yes, James — and it will be acted on by thousands.
Many of the Whig Candidates have already, in addresses to
their Constituents, called on them to choose representatives
according to that creed. For any baseness, however bare-faced
and brazen-faced, we must have been long prepared, in the
degenerate Whigs of Scotland. But not till I see that opinion
acted on by the Whigs of England, many of whom seem yet
to possess many of the political virtues of their forefathers,
who were illustrious patriots in their day, shall I believe that
Whig is now indeed a word for all that is most despicable and
hateful in the heart of man. If this be indeed now a Whig
Principle — there is another word — of the same number of
letters — "letters four do form its name" — the name not of
a principle, but of a place — to which I devoutly trust all
Whigs will in good time be sent, there to form his Majesty's
Shepherd. What place is that? It canna be Coventry — for
that's a dissyllable. Ou ay! Ou ay! On ay! I hae ye noo,
sir. Wi' a' my heart.
North. Sir Robert Peel, in a few calm words sets this principle
in its true light. "The King, in a crisis of great difficulty,
required my services. The question I had to decide
was this: Shall I obey the call, or shall I shrink from the
responsibility, alleging as the reason that I consider myself,
in consequence of the Reform Bill, as labouring under a sort
of moral disqualification which must preclude me and all who
think with me, both now and for ever, from entering into the
official service of the Crown? Would it, I ask, be becoming
in any public man to act upon such a principle? Was it fit
that I should assume that either the object or the effect of the
Reform Bill has been to preclude all hope of a successful
appeal to the good sense and calm judgment of the people;
and so to fetter the prerogative of the Crown, that the King has
no free choice among his subjects, but must select his Ministers
from one section, and one section only, of public men?"
Shepherd. Hoo sensible — hoo dignified — hoo true!
North. Faction will cling with desperate tenacity to the
objection to any Conservative government, thus disposed of in
a few simple words. But we must cut off its paws. They
who now urge it know of a surety that the measures of the new
Ministry will be of the most enlightened and liberal kind.
Ay — the epithet liberal — so long misused and abused — will
recover its rightful meaning, and that meaning be illustrated
by a policy that on foundations of law and order shall establish
Shepherd. There has been nae peace in men's minds lately,
sir; and Earl Grey himsel spak wi' mair than seriousness o'
the pressure frae without. What is't?
North. It was the pressure of some hundreds of thousands,
perhaps millions, savagely seeking to squeeze the life out of
the government, that they might usurp the rule of the state.
These were the very millions to whom the government had
given power. I speak not now of the Reform Bill — though
the evils it has perpetuated stand before my eyes in all their
magnitude — but of the encouragement directly afforded by
the whole spirit — and a truckling spirit it was — of their
'haviour to them who soon became their inveterate and their
victorious enemies. The Radicals destroyed the Melbourne
Ministry. I say so on the authority of Lord Melbourne.
Shepherd. Eh me! Is that possible? On the authority,
sir, o' Lord Melbourne!
North. Yes. What care I — what cares any man of common
sense — for such explanations as the late Ministry may choose
to give the country — and I do not believe one of them, unless
it be Littleton, would speak what he did not think the
truth — of the circumstances attending their dismissal?
Shepherd. No a button.
North. The causes are patent to the whole world. The
"pressure from without" had produced a great difficulty of
breathing, and sadly affected their speech. Nay, there was a
manifest pressure on the brain; the patient looked at once
apoplectic and paralytic — black-blue in the face, while the
power of one side of the body at least was gone! How could
it be expected that such a ministry were to carry on the
government of a great country?
Shepherd. They stoitered¹ again' the kirk.
North. Has not Lord Melbourne told the country, in his
answer to the Derby address, that the chief embarrassments
of the Ministers were occasioned by the wild outcry that had
been yelled against the Church? And how ought Ministers
to have dealt with such dangerous enemies? Put them down
by union among themselves, and by an open determination to
guard our sacred establishments from the touch even of the
little finger of any leader or follower of that impious crew.
Instead of that, they parleyed with the enemy, and seemed
sorry that they could not make all the concessions he demanded;
while among themselves was one certainly — perhaps
more than one — who, though he was "not prepared to
say that there should be no alliance between church and
state" — nay, though he was prepared to say, after much apparent
hesitation, or at least delay, that the alliance should be
preserved — had frequently said that he was ready to rob the
¹ Stoitered — staggered.
church, — for that the alienation of her property to secular purposes
is robbery I shall not think it at all presumptuous in me
to affirm, in spite of the dictum to the contrary of my Lord
John Russell.
Shepherd. And think ye, sir, there has been a wide and deep
reaction? For unless it has been sae, it'll do nae gude.
North. Reaction of what on what? Millions of people anticipated
from the Reform Bill peace — order — industry — contentment
— and above all, increased attachment to all our institutions
— and a clearer conviction and deeper feeling of the
sanctity of property, guarded as it then would be by equal
laws, and by measures sanctioned by the true representatives
of the people.
Shepherd. And hae they begun to change their opinions?
North. Ay, many is the number of those who have done so;
but I shall not insist on that, for the Reform Bill is the law of
the land. But some millions of those many millions now see
that, whether to be laid at the door of the Bill or not, society
is now threatened by evils which, three years ago, they would
have smiled in your face had you hinted at; and I did more
than hint at them — I described them in colours only less dark
than the truth; and my trust is, that a great majority of the
people of England, seeing many things in a very different
light now, will support the Conservative Government of which
Sir Robert Peel is head.
Shepherd. I ca' that moderation.
North. And when heard you, or any man, anything but
moderation from my lips? I cannot doubt that the good sense
and good feeling of the country will prevail, and that it will
be found to be out of the power of faction to act, to any wide
extent, on a principle of such unutterable baseness as that the
Government must be opposed, however excellent its measures,
and with a fury proportioned to their excellence. That many
elections will be carried in a spirit of pure hatred of Conservatism
I believe; but in the House the Destructives will be
made to quail; and England, expecting that every man will
do his duty there, who loves her institutions, will speak with
another voice, should any great number of the representatives
of the people there dare to vote against measures they have
always approved, merely because they are the measures of
Shepherd. There assuredly will be a reaction again' ony
pairty that lang ack sae — were it but on accoont o' the impudence
o' sic behaviour. I howp Tickler's no gaun till rat;
but this obstinate somnolency is suspicious, and haena ye
been observin that there has been little or nae snore? When
a man sleeps in company without snorin, there's reason to
think his mind may be takin tent o' things drapt in conversation,
and that he may use what he hears anither day,
(Burns paper below TICKLER'S nose.) Gif he be awake, he
maun be simulatin, and o' strang resolution. But he is true
as steel to the back-bone. (Smacks TICKLER with both hands
on the back, and then shakes him with all his might by the
shoulders.) Fire! Fire! Fire!
Tickler (starting up, and staring wildly around). Water! Water! Water!
Shepherd. Whusky! Whusky! Whusky!
(Enter AMBROSE.)
North. Is Peter in the house, Mr Ambrose? Give me your
Ambrose. Ay — ay — sir.
[Exeunt omnes.
(FEBRUARY 1835.)
Scene, — Penetralia of the Lodge. Time, — Ae wee short hour
ayont the Twal.
Shepherd. It wasna safe in you, sir, to gie a' your domestics
the play for a haill month in hairst, and to leeve incog a' alane
by your single sel, in this Sanctum, like the last remaining
wasp in its nest, at the close o' the hummin season; — for what
if you had been taken ill wi' some sort o' paralysis in your
limbs, and been unable to ring the alarm-bell for succour?
Dinna ye see that you micht hae expired for want o' nourishment,
without the neibourhood ha'in had ony suspicion that
a great licht was extinguished, and that you micht hae been
fund sittin in your chair, no a corp in claes, but a skeleton?
You should really, sir, hae mair consideration, and no expose
your freens to the risk o' sic a shock. Wull you promise?
North. You forget, James, that the milk-lassie called every
morning, and eke the baker's boy — except, indeed, during the
week I subsisted on ship-biscuit and fruitage.
Shepherd. You auld anchorite!
North. Such occasional abstraction, my dear James, I feel
to be essential to my moral and intellectual wellbeing. I
cannot do now without some utter solitude.
Shepherd. But folk 'ill begin to think you crazy — and I'm no
sure if they wad be far wrang.
North. At my time of life, James, it matters not much whether
I be crazy or not. Indeed one so seldom sees a man of my
age who is not a little so, that I should not wish to be singular
— though, I confess that I have a strong repugnance to the
idea of dotage. Come now, be frank with your old friend, and
tell me, if the oil in the lamp be low, or if the lamp itself but
want trimming?
Shepherd. Neither. But the lamp's o' a curious construction
— a self-feedin, self-trimmin lamp — and, sure aneuch, at
times in the gloom it gies but a glimmer — sae that a stranger
micht imagine that the licht was on its last legs — but would
sure start to see the room on a sudden bricht as day, as if the
window-shutters had been opened by an invisible hand, and
let in a' the heavens.
North. I never desire to be brilliant.
Shepherd. Nor does the Day.
North. Nor the Night.
Shepherd. There lies the charm o' their beauty, sir, just as
yours. There's nae ostentation either in the sun or in the
moon, or in the stars, or in Christopher North.
North. Ah! you quiz!
Shepherd. There's the sun. Hoo aften does he keep out o'
sicht through the greatest pairt even o' a lang simmer day!
True, ye aye ken, withouten ony science, whereabouts he is in
the sky; for that face o' his canna be sae entirely hidden that
our een dinna hear it silently speak.
North. A mixed image, James — a —
Shepherd. Saft, sweet, laigh murmur, as it were, o' licht.
I'm alludin, the noo, to the sun far ben in heaven on a serene
day — when, if you could suppose a human ee openin for the
first time on natur, the human bein' would think the air was
the sun o' which he had read in the Bible, and perhaps imagine
that St Mary's Loch was what was ca'd licht! Or possibly he
micht include in his idea the greenness o' the hills, out or in
the water; but whatever he thocht or felt, we canna dout that
he would be happy as a seraph, and utter a thanksgiving to the
North. My dear Shepherd, I forget and forgive your banter
in the beauty of such images — so purely Scottish.
Shepherd. Whare's the sun in a thunner-storm? You micht
absolutely believe he was afraid o' bein' struck by the lichtnin.

North. That's an original thought, if ever there was one.
Ha! ha! ha! James.
Shepherd. Wha the deevil ever heard a man afore lauchin
at the shooblime?
North. Why, that's another! I must begin to look serious.
Shepherd. Knawin, like a great chemist as he is, that water's
a non-conductor, and naturally abhorred by the electric fluid —
when the tempest's at its hicht, and threatens to tak the sky
by storm —
North. That is the third.
Shepherd. — and to escalade the verra citadel into which
he has retired —
North. Fourth.
Shepherd. — the sun commands the clouds to become rain
and droop the lichtnin! —
North. Fifth.
Shepherd. — And then sallyin frae the dungeon-vaults o'
that celestial stronghold, he shows his unharmed heid a' glitterin
wi' golden hair, mair beautifu' than an angel's, while
earth lauchs back to heaven, and from all her groves hymneth
the Lord of Light and Love in choirs of gratulation that gladden
the blue lift and the green hills wi' holy echoes!
North. The half-dozen.
Shepherd. O' whattt!
North. Of original ideas.
Shepherd. Na — you're turnin the tables on me noo, sir.
North. Well — well — let it be so.
[By his thumb on the rim NORTH makes revolve the Circular,
so that he and the SHEPHERD exchange jugs.
Shepherd. I ca' that selfish. A drap cauld wersh dregs at
the bottom o' yours, and mine fu' to the brim o' het, strang,
stingin toddy! But ae gude turn deserves anther. (Imitates
NORTH in his management of the orrery, and restores the planetary
system into its former position in space.) — Is that you, my bonny
jug! Let me kiss your hinny mou! That's a kind cretur!
North. Then the moon, James?
Shepherd. Why, sir, she aften comes out o' her bower when
the sun is shinin, frae pure modesty and bashfulness, that
nave may see her takin a walk, happy to be eclipsed into obscurity
by that omnipotent licht.
North. Seven.
Shepherd. In that resemblin yoursel, sir, wha are fond o'
my society in a' its splendour, that, like the Leddy Moon
in presence o' the Lordly Sun, you may escape notice in
your ain quate and cosy nyuck, contented wi' your ain somewhat
pallid face, while the general gaze is concentrate on
mine glowin wi' mair roseate colours.
North. Eight.
Shepherd. And haena ye seen her on a clear blue nicht,
when she couldna help rejoicin in her beauty, and there could
be nae use in denyin that she knew hoo exceedin fair she
was, Mother o' Pearl o' the Firmament —
North. Nine.
Shepherd. Haena ye seen her then acceleratin her pace to
meet the laggin clouds, and divin intil the heart o' the
first mass she met, carin naething for the disappointment o'
the shepherds sprinkled ower the hills, sae that she enjoy
for a while her beloved retirement, like a princess shunnin
a people's gaze, and layin hersel doun on a bed wi' white curtains
and white sheets, but no half sae white as her ain lovely
limbs, for they are o' lilies — and what whiteness is like that
o' lilies, whether they grow in the garden, or in the loch?
North. Ten.
Shepherd. And yet she's no aye sae blate; for haena you
and me aften seen her shinin in the sky, mair like the sun than
the moon, brichtenin and brichtenin while we continued to
gaze, as if she were resolved in her queenly heart to domineer
— I had amaist said to tyrannise — in the divine power o' her
beauty over all upward eyes, — outfacing her worshippers till
they winked, if no under her lustre yet under her loveliness —
and turned awa perhaps quite overcome — to relieve their
hearts by a look o' the Evening Star?
North. Eleven.
Shepherd. What's a' the ships that ever sailed the sea to her
— what's a' the isles that slumber on the sea — what's a' the
birds, though God kens they are beautifu', that, on the bosom
o' that sea or o' thae isles, alicht and fauld up their pennons
spotless as the snaw! She heeds them not — for to her the sea
is but a mirror in which her heart is gladdened by the beauty
o' her countenance; and that she may enjoy her gaze on hersel,
she chains in saft shinin fetters the charmed world o' waves.
North. The dozen, by Diana!
Shepherd. As for the stars — never could my heart decide
whether they were fairest risin, settin, or studded, stationary
sparkles, in the sky, like diamonds on the sclate-roof o' a
human dwellin.
North. Second Series. Number One.
Shepherd. I'm glad to see you dinna start at the comparison.
For what's bonnier than the yellow glintin diamonds on the
blue sclate-roof o' a human dwellin — laigh though the riggin
be? And what forbids that they should be likened to the
starry splendour on the cope o' highest heaven?
North. Nothing.
Shepherd. The same hand formed those in the earthen mine,
that hung these on the celestial vault — and then methinks,
sir, that the laigher roof, as the heart keeps narrowin and
nallowin its feelings in domestic peace, is something even mair
sacred — seein that God gied us sic shelter that aneath it we
micht sing His praise — than the far-aff roof star-spangled —
the roof, as it were, o' the boundless universe. For 'tis the
roof o' ane's ain wee dearest warld, where everything is suitable
in its significance — I had amaist said insignificance —
but ae great thocht made me change the word — for are we not
immortal — though born to die!
North. I have lost count, my dearest Forester, of the original
and delightful ideas you have been pouring forth this last half--
hour, and hope this shovel of oysters will be to your taste.
Nothing, after all, like the open-stitch shovel for roasting natives.
[Scrapes off half a hundred natives on the Shepherd's plate —
and half a hundred on his own.
Shepherd. Prime. As I look on a risin star I feel the same
as if listenin to a soarin laverock — I wad think, as the star sets
ahint the hill, I saw the bird drappin earthward to its nest.
North. Love you best, James, to gaze on them clear or in
mist — in scores or in thousands?
Shepherd. I seldom noo, sir, gaze on them ava. It is sufficient
to ken that they are there — their presence aboon is impressive
on my heart, though my een be on the grund as I am
trudging hame outower the hills, or atween my yad's¹ lugs as
I'm trottin alang the bridle-roads wi' a tight rein for fear he
comes doun and breaks his knees — nae unusual occurrence.
If they're diminish, which they may be without bein' misty,
that's nae positive sign that it will rain the morrow — but when
warmish it will surely be wat; and as I never yet kent rain
thrown awa in the Forest, I'm aye glad to see them wannish;
for sae far frae bein' then sickly, 'tis a symptom o' health,
¹ Yad — jade, roadster.
and indeed diseases there are nane amang the heavenly lichts,
nor did a single ane o' them a' ever send down to earth but a
blessin on man and beast. I canna thole noo to look lang on
a refulgent star — it maks me sae melancholy; but frequently
sic a ane obleeges me to see it — singlin itsel out frae the rest
as if it wished a' the warld below to admire it; and then I
pause, and wi' a sigh give it a silent benediction. When they
hae taen possession o' the skies in thousands — and that tens
o' thousands are aften visible at ance to my naked een, I shall
continue to believe in spite o' a' the astronomers that ever
peepit through telescopes — 'tis then that I hae nae fear to tak
a lang steady look at the nocturnal heavens. A's sae cheerfu'
as weel's sae serene — sae merry, I had amaist said, as weel's
sae majestic — a' sae gay, sir, as weel's sae glorious — that a
tempered joy diffuses itsel through a' my bein', and the man
admires like a child the illuminated sky-palace o' nature.
North. The Material Universe! and is there nothing beyond?
Where is the abode of Spirit? And what is Spirit?
Shepherd. O sir! surely ye are no a materialist!
North. No, indeed, James. It has been argued by materialists
that we know nothing at all about what we call Spirit
— but believe me, my dear friend, that we know as much of it
as we do of Matter.
Shepherd. Do you say sae, sir?
North. In the first place, James, it is probable that we have
generally included in the notion that may have been in our
mind at any time we have been meditating on our inner being,
the idea of some action proceeding; that we have not conceived
of Spirit as something in a state of utter rest, but rather
in motion, or with thought awake in it, or with inclination of
love or aversion, or under the affection of pleasure or pain, or
as exercising agency on some other being?
Shepherd. Be sae gude as to speak affirmatively, sir, if you
please, and no interrogatively — for it's my desire no to teach,
but to learn.
North. Well, James, that act — the idea of which I conceive
has commonly been in our minds when we have spoken
of Spirit — was not conceived of by us as impressed on this
being at the instant by some other being; if it was motion,
we did not think that the being was merely driven along by a
force extraneous to itself, in which it had no participation, but
that it moved itself; if the act conceived of was agency exercised
upon some other being — the Spirit exercising it was not
thought of as a mere passive instrument transmitting that
agency from some other being, not as a mere powerless, will-less
medium of agency, but as itself operating; if it was an
act of thought, we did not suppose it merely carried on in it
by extraneous energy without its participation, but as proceeding
by faculty of its own; if it was a movement of love,
aversion, will in any kind, we still thought of it, however
called forth, as proceeding from itself; if imagined in the mere
passive state of impressed pleasure or pain, we considered that
passion as terminating on sense of its own — in a word, as
centring on itself; nay, do not rub your forehead, as if you
were perplexed, for I appeal to your consciousness, is it not
even so?
Shepherd. Dinna ask me — but go on, sir.
North. Now, James, these are all ideas, I affirm, of very
strong, positive, and most important realities. What, then, may
that be which always appears to our minds the deficiency in
our conception of Spirit — which makes the conception to our
reflection appear unsatisfactory — nay, which at times makes
us doubt if indeed we have it at all?
Shepherd. Clear up that to my contentment, sir, and you'll
mak me happy a' the rest o' the nicht.
North. We say, then, that we can conceive a notion of the
being of Matter, but not a notion of the being of Spirit.
Shepherd. The materialists say sae.
North. What conception then, I ask, have we of the being
of Matter? Probably there comes before our mind the image
of something extended and opaque.
Shepherd. Just sae.
North. If we make the conception a little more intense, then
the conception of that property by which body is displaced
or displaces is superadded?
Shepherd. Just sae.
North. If we were to think further, quality after quality is
superadded, till the idea is of some definite known substance?
Shepherd. This table.
North. Just so, James. Or by effort of the mind we may
proceed in the other direction, endeavouring to abstract the
idea to the utmost; we can dismiss the idea of opacity, and
conceive matter as transparent; we can reduce the idea of
extension to the most indivisible atom. In all such cases it
is obvious that our conception of matter is the mere recovery
to the mind of some remains of actual impression made on
the sense.
Shepherd. It would seem sae — just sae, sir.
North. The conclusion, I apprehend, must be, that the
conception we think we have of the being of Matter, is a
conception either of past impressions of sense, or of an apprehended
power to affect the sense with impressions; but the
moment we attempt to conceive of that Something having
power to affect the sense — to conceive of it in any way absolutely
distinct from the remembered impression of sense, we
find that we are entirely unable to shape such a conception —
and we acknowledge, that of the being of Matter itself, we
really have no more conception than of the being of Spirit!
Shepherd. That seems sound logic.
North. Therefore, my dear Shepherd, we cannot call it an
imperfection in our conception of Spirit, that we do not conceive
its mode of being, since you see we do not conceive it
even of Matter.
Shepherd. Conclusive.
North. What we miss, then, in the conception of Spirit, is,
I believe, nothing else than that shadowy image of Matter,
derived from sense, which unavoidably attends upon the conception
of Matter.
Shepherd. Even o' a ghost.
North. A good illustration. If this be true, then, all that
is really deficient in our conception of Spirit is that which it
could not by any possibility include, namely, the image of an
impression on sense!
Shepherd. Let the materialists answer that. That's a bane
for them to mummle till their jaws are sair.
North. But, my dear James, I claim your ear for a few
minutes more.
Shepherd. You'll no be angry if I keep eatin awa at the
North. Not at all. If the two conceptions of Matter and
Spirit be examined in more particular comparison, it will perhaps
be found, that what to our first apprehension of them
makes the difference of the power of conceiving them so
indissoluble, are the two circumstances — first, of the excessive
complexity of impressions — the body of impressions, if it may
be called so — that we derive from the forms of material being
with which we are most familiar — and, secondly, that the
great qualities of its weight and impenetrability make such
powerful and overcoming impressions upon those bodies from
which the mind receives the materials of all its conceptions.
These are circumstances in the conception of material being
which must needs affect strongly the opinion of the mind
which has not been practised to analyse its conceptions, but
which it puts away, one by one, as it becomes familiar with
the process of resolving its complex impressions into their
Shepherd. My genius is rather synthetical than analytic, I
suspeck; but I'm no carin.
North. Now, Spirit, James, presents no such complex aggregate
of impressions embodied together, and therefore does not
rise as a full conception to the mind, but has to be slowly
produced. Thus, it appears to me that there is nothing defective
in the conception of Spirit which it could possibly include.
All that is defective, in our knowledge of it, is, that
its properties are not manifested to sense; but that is the
very ground of its character, and its essential distinction
from Matter, of which the sole character that we can give,
is, that it is being, of which the properties are manifested to
Shepherd. If that's no truth, then welcome falsehood.
North. Spirit is conscious of itself, and that consciousness
is the sole ground of our belief in its being.
Shepherd. And what else would fules seek?
North. Firmer than all rocks. Oh! what is the whole life
of the human creature but continual self-consciousness, varied
in ten thousand times ten thousand ways! This Spirit,
united by life to material being, sees no Spirit but itself; but
it sees living bodies like its own — warm in life — springing
with motion — gestures, look, voice, speech answering to its
own; and it believes them to bear Spirits like itself — beings
of will, love, wrath, tears.
Shepherd. Dinna rin aff into description; but hand up your
head, and stick to the subjeck, like a Scots thrissle, tall as
a tree.
North. We believe, then, in a kind of being distinct from
Matter, because we cannot help it. We have no other resource,
and we choose to call it Spirit. That there is power,
energy, will, pleasure, pain, thought, we know; and that is
all that is necessary to the conception of Spirit, except one
negation — that it is not cognisable to sense. All we have now
to ask ourselves is, "Is this being, that feels, wills, thinks,
cognisable by sense? If so, by what sense?" If there is
no account to be given, that this thinking, willing, feeling
being was ever taken cognisance of by sense, it seems at least
a hard assertion to say it is so cognisable — an assertion at
least as hazardous as to say it is not.
Shepherd. Ten thousand million times mair sae.
North. If you consider, then, my dearest Shepherd, what is
our reasoning when we form to ourselves a belief of Spirit, it
is simply this — "Here is Matter which I know by my senses.
There is nothing here which appears to me like what I know
in myself. My senses, which take cognisance of Matter, show
me nothing of the substance which thinks, or wills, or feels. I
believe, then, that there is being, which they cannot show me,
in which these powers reside. I believe that I am a spirit."
Shepherd. —
"Plato, thou reasonest well."
North. From the moment the child is conscious of power
within himself, of thought, sense, love, desire, pain, pleasure,
will, he is beginning to gather together in one the impressions,
feelings, and recollections which he will one day unite
in conception under the name of Spirit.
Shepherd. Mysterious life o' weans!
North. Ah! that deep and infinite world, which is gradually
opened up within ourselves, overshadowed as it is with the
beautiful imagery of this material world, which it has received
into itself and cherishes! Ah! this is the domain of Spirit.
When our thoughts begin to kindle, when our heart dilates,
the remembrances of the works of Spirit pour in upon us: let
me rather say, my Shepherd, the Sun of Spirit rises in its
strength, and consumes the mist, and we walk in the joy of
his light, and exult in the genial warmth of his life-glorifying
Shepherd. Simpler, simpler, simpler, sir.
North. Oral need not be so correct as written discourse.
But I take the hint, and add, if it be asked why it is hard to
us to form the conception, why we nourish it with difficulty,
why our minds are so slow to reply when they are challenged
to speak in this cause, it is because they are dull in their own
Shepherd. That's a better style.
North. The Spirit, which feeds the body with life, itself
languishes. It has not learnt to awaken and cherish its own
fires. It is only when strong conception seizes upon its
powers, and swells them into strength, that it truly knows,
and vividly feels itself, and rejoices, like the morn, in its own
Shepherd. Eyeing the clouds as ornaments, and disposin
them as fits its fancy in masses, or braids, or specks — a' alike
North. Illustrating the line in Wordsworth —
"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."
Shepherd. Weel, weel — aye quotin Wordsworth.
North. Oh the blind breasts of men! Because in the weakness
of our nature we cannot rend ourselves enough from
sense, we often seek to clothe the being of Spirit in the vain
shadows of material form! But we must aspire to a constant
conviction that at the verge and brink of this material nature
in which we stand, there is an abyss of being, unfathomable
to all our thoughts! Unknown existences incomprehensible
of an infinite world! Of what mighty powers may dwell
there — what wonders may be there disclosed — what mutation
and revolution of being or what depths of immutable repose,
we know nothing. Shut up in our finite sense, we are severed
for a while, on our spot of the universe, from those boundless
immortalities. How near they may be to us we know not, or
in what manner they may be connected with us — around us
or within us! This vast expanse of worlds, stretching into
our heavens many thousand times beyond the reach of our
powerfulest sight — all this may be — as a speck of darkness!
Shepherd. I wuss Dr Chalmers heard ye, sir.
North. I wish he did. And may we, with our powers fed
on Matter and drenched in Sense, think to solve the question
of what being may be beyond? Take upon us impiously to
judge whether there be a world unsearchable to us, or whether
this Matter on which we stand be all? And by the measure
of our Sense circumscribe all the possibilities of creation, while
we pretend to believe in the Almighty? If where we cannot
know, we must yet needs choose our belief, oh! let us choose
with better hope that belief which more humbles ourselves;
and in bowed down and fearful awe, not in presumptuous
intelligence, look forth from the stillness of our souls into the
silence of unknown Being!
Shepherd. I may weel be mute, sir. Sit nearer me, sir, and
gie me your haun — and lay 't on my shouther, if you're no
quite dune.
North. I would fain speak to the youth of my native land,
James —
Shepherd. And dinna they a' read the Noctes?
North. — and ask them — when the kindling imagination
blends itself with Intellectual Thought — when the awakened,
ardent, aspiring intelligence begins in the joy of young desire
to lift itself in high conception to the stately minds that have
lived upon the earth — when it begins to feel the pride of hope
and power, to glow with conscious energy, to create thoughts
of its own of the destinies of that race to which it rejoices to
belong — do not then, I ask them, all the words which the
mighty of old have dropped from their kindling lips concerning
the Emanation of the Eternal Mind, which dwells in a
form of dust, fall like sparks, setting the hope of immortality
in a blaze —
"The sudden blaze
Far round illumines heaven?"
If, while engaged in the many speculations in which our
studious youth have been involved, they suffer themselves to
be dragged for a time from that primal belief, do they not find a
weight of darkness and perplexity come over them, which
they will strive in vain to shake off? — But as soon as they
reawaken to the light of their first conviction, that heavy
dream will be gone. "I can give no account" — such a one
might say — "nor record of this conviction. I drew it from no
dictate of reason. But it has grown upon me through all the
years of my existence. I cannot collect together the arguments
on which I believe, but they are for ever rising round
me anew, and in new power, every moment I draw my breath.
At every step I take of inquiry into my own being, they burst
upon me in different unexpected forms. If I have leaned to
the side of the material philosophy, everything that I understood
before was darkened — my clearest way was perplexed.
I believed at first, because the desire of my soul cleaved to
the thought of its lofty original. I believe now, because the
doctrine is a light to me in the difficulties of science — a clue
in labyrinths otherwise inextricable."
[Knocking at the front door and ringing of the front-door
bell, as if a section of guardians of the night were warning
the family of fire, or a dozen devils, on their way back
to Pandemonium, were wreaking their spite on Christopher's
supposed slumbers.
Shepherd. Whattt ca' ye thattt?
North (musing). I should not wonder were that Tickler.
Shepherd. Then he maun be in full tail as weel's figg, or
else a Breearious. (Uproar rather increases.) They're surely
usin sledgehammers! or are they but ca'in awa wi' their
cuddie-heels?¹ We ocht to be gratefu', howsomever, that
they've settled the bell. The wire-rope's brak.
North (gravely). I shall sue Southside for damages.
Shepherd. Think ye, sir, they'll burst the door?
North (smiling contemptuously). Not unless they have
brought with them Mons Meg.² But there is no occasion for
the plural number — 'tis that singular sinner Southside.
Shepherd. Your servants maun be the Seven Sleepers.
North. They have orders never to be disturbed after midnight.
(Enter PETER, in his shirt.)
Peter, let him in — show him ben — and (whispers PETER, who
makes his exit and his entrance, ushering in TICKLER in a
Dreadnought, covered with cranreuch.³ NORTH and the SHEPHERD
are seen lying on their faces on the hearth-rug).
Peter. Oh! dear! oh! dear! oh! dear! what is this! what
is this! what is this! Hae I leeved to see my maister and
Mr Hogg lyin baith dead.
Tickler (in great agitation). Heavens! what has happened!
This is indeed dreadful.
Peter. Oh! sir! oh! sir! it's that cursed charcoal that he
¹ The iron arming on the heels of boots.
² A piece of ordnance famous in Scottish history, and now placed on the
ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.
³ Cranreuch — hoar-frost.
would use for a' I could do — the effluvia has smothered him
at last. There's the pan — there's the pan! But let 's raise
them up, and bear them into the back-green.
(PETER raises the body of NORTH in his arms — TICKLER that
of the SHEPHERD.)
Stiff! stiff! stiff! cauld! cauld! cauld! deid! deid! deid!
Tickler (wildly). When saw you them last?
Peter. Oh, sir, no for several hours! my beloved master sent
me to bed at twelve — and now 'tis two half-past.
Tickler (dreadfully agitated). This is death.
Shepherd (seizing him suddenly round the waist). Then try
Death a wrastle.
North (recuperated by the faithful PETER). Fair play, Hogg!
You've hold of the waistband of his breeches. 'Tis a dog-fall.
[The SHEPHERD and TICKLER contend fiercely on the rug.
Tickler (uppermost). You deserve to be throttled, you swine--
herd, for having well-nigh broke my heart.
Shepherd. Pu' him aff, North — pu' him aff — or he'll thrapple
me! Whr — whr — rrrr — whrrrr —
[SOUTHSIDE is choked off the SHEPHERD, and takes his seat
on the sofa with tolerable composure. Exit PETER.
Tickler. Bad taste — bad taste. Of all subjects for a practical
joke the worst is death.
Shepherd. A gran' judge o' taste! Ca' you't gude taste to
break folk's bell-ropes, and kick at folk's front doors, when a'
the city's in sleep?
Tickler. I confess the propriety of my behaviour was problematical.

Shepherd. Problematical! You wad hae been cheap o't, if
Mr North out o' the wundow had shot you deid on the spat.
North (leaning kindly over TICKLER, as SOUTHSIDE is sitting
on the sofa, and insinuating his dexter hand into the left coat-pocket
of TIMOTHY'S Dreadnought). Ha! ha! Look here, Mr
Hogg! (Exhibits a bell-handle and brass knocker.) Street
Shepherd. Hamesucken!¹
North. An accomplished Cracksman!
Tickler. I plead guilty.
Shepherd. Plead guilty! What brazen assurance! Caught
¹ A Scottish law term, expressing assault and battery committed on a person
in his own house.
wi' the corpus delicti in the pouch o' your wrap-rascal. Bad
taste — bad taste. But sin' you repent, you're forgien.
Whare hae you been, and whence at this untimeous hour hae
you come. Tak a sup o' that. (Handing him the jug.)
Tickler. From Duddingston Loch. I detest skating in a
crowd — so have been figuring away by moonlight to the Crags.
Shepherd. Are you sure you're quite sober?
Tickler. Quite at present. That's a jewel of a jug, James.
But what were you talking about?
Shepherd. Never fash your thoom — but sit doun at the
side-table yonner.
Tickler. Ha! The ROUND! (Sits retired.)
Shepherd. I was sayin, Mr Tickler, that I canna get rid o'
a belief in the mettaseekozies or transmigration o' sowls. It
aften comes upon me as I'm sittin by mysel on a knowe in
the Forest; and a' the scenery, steadfast as it seems to be
before my senses as the place o' my birth, and accordin to
the popular faith where I hae passed a' my days, is then
strangely felt to lose its intimate or veetal connection wi'
my speerituality, and to be but ae dream-spat amang mony
dream-spats which maun be a' taken thegither in a bewilderin
series, to mak up the yet uncompleted mystery o' my bein'
or life.
North. Pythagoras!
Shepherd. Mind that I'm no wullin to tak my bible-oath for
the truth o' what I'm noo gaun to tell you — for what's real and
what's visionary — and whether there be indeed three warlds
— ane o' the ee, ane o' the memory, and ane o' the imagination
— it's no for me dogmatically to decide; but this I wull say,
that if there are three, at sic times they're sae circumvolved
and confused wi' ane anther, as to hae the appearance and
inspire the feelin o' their bein' but ae warld — or I should
rather say, but ae life. The same sort o' consciousness, sirs,
o' my ha'in experimentally belanged alike to them a' comes
ower me like a threefauld shadow, and in that shadow my
cowl sits wi' its heart beatin, frichtened to think o' a' it has
come through, sin' the first far-awa glimmer o' nascent
thocht connectin my particular individuality wi' the universal
creation. Am I makin mysel understood?
Tickler. Pellucid as an icicle that seems warm in the sunshine.

Shepherd. Yet you dinna see my drift — and I'm at a loss
for words.
Tickler. You might as well say you are at a loss for
oysters, with five hundred on that board.
Shepherd. I think on a cave — far ben, mirk always as a
midnicht wood — except that twa lichts are burnin there
brichter than ony stars — fierce leevin lichts — yet in their
fierceness fu' o' love, and therefore fu' o' beauty — the een o'
my mother, as she gently growls ower me wi' apur that inspires
me wi' a passion for milk and bluid.
Tickler. Your mother! The man's mad.
Shepherd. A lioness, and I her cub.
North. Hush, hush, Tickler.
Shepherd. I sook her dugs, and sookin I grow sae cruel that
I could bite. Between pain and pleasure she gies me a cuff
wi' her paw, and I gang heid-ower-heels like a bit playfu'
kitten. And what else am I but a bit playfu' kitten? For
we're o' the Cat kind — we Lions — and bein' o' the royal race
o' Africa, but ae whalp at a birth. She taks me mewin up in
her mouth, and lets me drap amang leaves in the outer air —
lyin doun aside me and enticin me to play wi' the tuft o' her
tail, that I suppose, in my simplicity, to be itsel a separate
hairy cretur alive as weel as me, and gettin fun, as wi' loups
and springs we pursue ane anther, and then for a minute pretend
to be sleepin. And wha's he yon? Wha but my Faither?
I ken him instinctively by the mane on his shouthers, and his
bare tawny hurdies; but my mither wull no let him come ony
nearer, for he yawns as if he were hungry, and she kens he
would think naething o' devoorin his ain offspring. Oh! the
first time I heard him crunch! It was an antelope — in his
fangs like a mouse; but that is an after similitude — for then
I had never seen a mouse — nor do I think I ever did a' the
time I was in the great desert.
North (removing to some distance). Tickler, he looks alarmingly
Shepherd. I had then nae ee for the picturesque; but out
o' thae materials then sae familiar to my senses, I hae
mony a time since constructed the landscape in which my
youth sported — and oh! that I could but dash it aff on
North. Salvator Rosa, the greater Poussin, and he of Duddingston,¹
would then have to "hide their diminished
Shepherd. A cave-mouth, half-high as that o' Staffa; but
no fantastic in its structure like thae hexagonals — a' ae sullen
rock! Yet was the savage den maist sweet — for frae the
arch hung doun midway a mony-coloured drapery, leaf-and--
flower-woven by nature, who delights to beautify the wilderness,
renewed as soon as faded, or else perennial, in spite o'
a' thae suns and a' thae storms! Frae our roof strecht up
rose the trees, wi' crowns that touched the skies. There hung
the umbrage like clouds — and to us below how pleasant was
the shade! From the cave-mouth a green lawn descended to
a pool, where the pelican used to come to drink — and mony
a time hae I watched crouchin ahint the water-lilies, that I
micht spring upon her when she had filled her bag; but if I was
cunnin she was wary, and aye find her way back unscathed
by me to her nest. A' roun' was sand; for you see, sirs, it was
an oasis — and I suspeck they were palm-trees. I can liken a
leaf, as it cam waverin doun, to naething I hae seen sin' syne
but a parachute. I used to play with them till they withered,
and then to row mysel in them, like a wean hidin itsel for
fun in the claes, to mak its mother true² it wasna there — till
a' at ance I loupt out on my mither the Lioness, and in a
mock-fecht we twa gaed gurlin doun the brae — me generally
uppermost — for ye can hae nae idea hoo tender are the maist
terrible o' animals to their young — and what delicht the auld
she ane has in pretendin to be vanquished in evendoun
worryin by a bit cub that would be nae mair than a match for
Rover there, or even Fang. Na — ye needna lift your heids
and cock your lugs, my gude dowgies, for I'm speakin o' you
and no to you, and likenin your force to mine when I was a
Lion's whalp.
Rover and Fang (leaping up and barking at the Shepherd).
Wow — bow, wow — bow, wow, wow.
North. They certainly think, Tickler, that he must be
either Wallace or Nero.
Shepherd. Sae passed my days — and a happier young hobbledehoy
of a Lion never footed it on velvet pads alang the
Libyan sands. Only sometimes for days — na, weeks — I was
¹ The Rev. Mr Thomson. See ante, vol. i. p. 315.
² True — trow, believe.
maist desperate hungry — for the antelopes and siclike creturs
began to get unco scarce — pairtly frae being killed out, and
pairtly frae being feared awa — and I've kent us obleeged to
dine, and be thankful, on jackal.
Tickler. Hung up in hams from the roof of the cave.
Shepherd. But that wasna the warst o't — for spring cam
— as I felt rather than saw; and day or nicht — sleepin or
waukin — I could get nae rest: I was verra feverish and
verra fierce, and keepit prowlin and growlin about —
Tickler. Like a lion in love —
Shepherd. I couldna distinctly tell why — and sae did my
mither, wha lookit as if in gude earnest she wad tear me in
Tickler. Whattt?
Shepherd. She would glare on me wi' her green een, as if she
wanted to set fire to my hide, as you may hae seen a laddie
in a wundow wi' a glass settin fire to a man's hat on the
street, by the power o' the focus; and then she would wallow
on the sand, as if to rub aff ticks that tormented her; and
then wi' a shak, garrin the piles shower frae her, would gallop
doun to the pool as if about to droon hersel — and though no
in general fond o' the water, plowter in't like the verra pelican.
Tickler. —
"Just like unto a trundling mop,
Or a wild goose at play."
Shepherd. The great desert grew a' ae roar! and thirty
feet every spang cam loupin, wi' his enormous mane, the
Lion my father, wi' his tail, tuft and a', no perpendicular like
a bull's, but extended horizontally ahint him, as stiff's iron,
and a' bristlin — and fastened in his fangs in the back o' the
Lioness my mother's neck, wha forthwith began caterwaulin
waur than a hunder roof-fu's o' cats, till I had amaist swarfed
through fear, and forgotten that I was ane o' their ain whalps.
Tickler. —
"To show how much thou wast degenerate."
Shepherd. Sae I thocht it high time to leave them to devoor
ane anither, and I slink aff, wi' my tail atween my legs, intil
the wilderness, resolved to return to my native oasis never
mair. I lookit back frae the tap o' the sand-hill, and saw
what micht hae been, or not been, the croons o' the palm--
trees — and then glided on till I cam to anither "palm-grove,
islanded amid the waste" — as Soothey finely says — where
instinct urged me to seek a lair; and I found ane — no sae
superb, indeed, as my native den — no sae magnificent — but
in itsel bonnier and brichter and mair blissfu' far: safter, far
and wide a' around it, was the sand to the soles and paums o'
my paws — for an event befell me there that in a day elevated
me into Lionhood, and crooned me wi' the imperial diadem of
the Desert.
Tickler. As how?
North. James!
Shepherd. In the centre o' the grove was a well, not dug
by hands — though caravans had passed that way — but formed
naturally in the thin-grassed sand by a spring that in summer
drought cared not for the sun — and round about that well
were some beautifu' bushes, that bore flowers amaist as big's
roses, but liker lilies —
Tickler. Most flowery of the feline!
Shepherd. But, O heavens! ten thousand million times mair
beautifu' than the gorgeous bushes 'neath which she lay asleep!
A cretur o' my ain kind! couchant! wi' her sweet nose atween
her forepaws! The elegant line o' her yellow back, frae
shouther to rump, broken here and there by a blossom-laden
spray that depended lovingly to touch her slender side! Her
tail gracefully gathered up amang the delicate down on which
she reposed! Little of it visible but the tender tuft! Eyes
and lips shut! There slept the Virgin of the Wild! still as
the well, and as pure, in which her eemage was enshrined!
I trummled like a kid — I heard a knockin, but it didna wauken
her — and creepin stealthily on my gruff;¹ I laid mysel, without
growlin, side by side, a' my length alang hers — and as our fur
touched, the touch garred me at first a' grue, and then glow
as if prickly thorns had pleasurably pierced my verra heart.
Saftly, saftly pat I ae paw on the back o' her head, and anither
aneath her chin — and then laid my cheek to hers, and gied the
ear neist me a wee bit bite! — when up she sprang higher in
the air, Mr Tickler, than the feather on your cap when you
was in the Volunteers; and on recoverin her feet after the fa',
without stayin to look around her, spang by spang tapped the
¹ Gruff — belly.
shrubs, and afore I had presence o' mind to pursue her, round
a sand-hill was out o' sicht!
North. Ay, James joy often drops out between the cup
and the lip — or, like riches, takes wings to itself and flies away.
And was she lost to thee for ever?
Shepherd. I lashed mysel wi' my tail — I trode and tore
up the shrubs wi' my hind paws — I turned up my jaws to
heaven, and yowled in wrathfu' despair — and then pat my
mouth to the dust, and roared till the well began to bubble:
then I lapped water, and grew thirstier the linger I lapped —
and then searched wi' a' my seven senses the bed whare her
beautifu' bulk had lain — warmer and safter and sweeter than
the ither herbage — and in rage tried to bite a bit out o' my
ain shouther, when the pain sent me bounding aff in pursuit
o' my lovely lioness; and lo! there she was stealin alang by
the brink o' anther nest o' bushes, far aff on the plain, pausin
to look back — sae I thocht — ere she disappeared in her hiding-place.
Round and round the brake I careered, in narrowing
circles, that my Delicht should not escape my desire, and at
last burst crashin in upon her wi' ae spang, and seized her by
the nape o' the neck, as my father had seized my mother, and
pinned her doun to the dust. But I was mercifu' as I was
strang; and being assured by her, that if I would but be less
rampawgeous, that she would at least gie me a hearin, I
released her neck frae my fangs, but keepit a firm paw on her,
till I had her promise that she would agree to ony proposal in
reason, provided my designs were honourable — and honourable
they were as ever were breathed by bosom leonine in the solitary
North. —
"I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
And told her love with virgin pride:
And thus I won my Genevieve,
My bright and beauteous bride."
Shepherd. We were perfectly happy, sir. Afore the hinny--
moon had filled her horns, mony an antelope, and not a few
monkeys, had we twa thegither devoored! Oh, sirs! but she
was fleet! and sly as swift! She would lie couchin in a bush
till she was surrounded wi' grazin edibles suspeckin nae harm,
and ever and anon ceasin to crap the twigs, and playin wi' ane
anither, like lambs in the Forest, where it is now my lot as a
human cretur to leeve! Then up in the air and amang them
wi' a roar, smitin them deid in dizzens wi' ae touch o' her
paw, though it was sifter than velvet — and singlin out the
leader by his horns, that purrin she micht leisurely sook his
bluid; nor at sic times would it hae been safe even for me,
her lion and her lord, to hae interfered wi' her repast: for in
the desert, hunger and thirst are as fierce as love. As for me,
in this respect, I was mair generous; and mony is the time and
aft that I hae gien her the tidbits o' fat frae the flank o' a
deer o' my ain killin when she had missed her aim by owerspringin't
— for I never kent her spang fa' short — without her
so much as thankin me, — for she was ower prood ever to seem
gratefu' for ony favour — and carried hersel, like a Beauty as
she was, and a spoiled Bride. I was sometimes sair tempted
to throttle her; but then, to be sure, a playfu' pat frae her
paw could smooth my bristles at ony time, or mak me lift up
my mane for her delicht, that she micht lie doun bashfully
aneath its shadow, or as if shelterin there frae some object
o' her fear, crouch pantin amang that envelopment o' hairy
Tickler. Whew!
North. In that excellent work The Naturalists' Library, edited
by my learned friend Sir William Jardine, it is observed, if I
recollect rightly, that Temminck, in his Monograph, places the
African lion in two varieties — that of Barbary and that of
Senegal — without referring to those of the southern parts of
the continent. In the southern parts there are two kinds
analogous, it would seem, to the northern varieties — the yellow
and the brown, or, according to the Dutch colonists, the blue
and the black. Of the Barbary lion, the hair is of a deep
yellowish brown, the mane and hair upon the breast and insides
of the fore-legs being ample, thick, and shaggy; of the Senegal
lion, the colour of the body is of a much paler tint, the mane
is much less, does not extend so far upon the shoulders, and is
almost entirely wanting upon the breast and insides of the
legs. Mr Burchel encountered a third variety of the African
lion, whose mane is nearly quite black, and him the Hottentots
declare to be the most fierce and daring of all. Now, my dear
James, pardon me for asking whether you were the Senegal
or Barbary Lion, or one of the southern varieties analogous to
them, or the third variety, with the mane nearly black, that
encountered Mr Burchel?
Tickler. He must have been a fourth variety, and probably
the sole specimen thereof; for all naturalists agree that the
young males have neither mane nor tail-tuft, and exhibit no
incipient symptoms of such appendages till about their third
Shepherd. Throughout the hale series o' my transmigration
o' sowl I hae aye been equally in growth and genius extraordinar
precocious, Timothy; and besides, I dinna clearly see
hoo either Buffoon, or Civviar, or Tinnock, or Sir William
Jarrdinn, or James Wulson, or even Wommle himsel, familiar
as they maybe wi' Lions in plates or cages, should ken better
about their manes and the tuft o' their tails, than me wha was
ance a Lion in propria persona, and hae thochts o' writing my
ain Leonine Owtobiography wi' Cuts. But as for my colour, I
was neither a blue, nor a black, nor a white, nor a red Lion —
though you, Tickler, may hae seen siclike on the signs o' inns
Tickler. What! did you live in the capital?
Shepherd. Na — in my kintra seat a' the year roun'. But
there was mair than a sugh o' me in the metropolis — mony a
story was tauld o' me by Moor and Mandingo — and by whisper
o' my name they stilled their cryin weans, and frichtened them
to sleep. What kept I, when a lion, o' geography? Nao map
o' Africa had I ever seen but what I scrawled wi' my ain claws
on the desert dust. As for the Niger, I cared na whether it
flawed to meet the risin or the settin sun — but when the sun
entered Leo, I used instinctively to soom in its waters; and I
remember, as if it had been yesterday, loupin in amang a bevy
o' black girlies bathin in a shallow, and breakfastin on ane o'
them, wha ate as tender as a pullet, and was as plump as a
paitrick. It was lang afore the time o' Mungo Park; but had
I met Mungo I wouldna hae hurt a hair o' his head — for my
prophetic sowl would hae been conscious o' the Forest, and
however hungry, never would I hae harmed him wha had
leeved on the Tweed.
North. Beautiful. Pray, James, is it true that your lion
prefers human flesh to any other — nay, after once tasting it,
that he uniformly becomes an anthropophagus?
Shepherd. He may or he may not uniformly become an
anthropophagus, for I kenna what an anthropophagus is; but
as to preferring human flesh to ony ither, that depends on the
particular kind o' human flesh. I presume, when I was a
lion, that I had the ordinar appetencies o' a lion — that is,
that I was rather aboon than below average or par — and at
a' events that there was naething about me unleonine. Noo,
I could never bring my stamack, without difficulty, to eat
an auld woman: as for an auld man, that was out o' the
question, even in starvation. On the whole I preferred, in
the long run, antelope even to girl. Girl doutless was a delicacy
ance a fortnicht or thereabouts — but girl every day
would hae been —
Tickler. Toujours perdrix.
Shepherd. Just sae. Anither Lion, a freen o' mine, though,
thocht otherwise, and used to lie in ambuscade for girl, on
which he fed a' through the year. But mark the consequence
— why he lost his senses, and died ragin mad!
Tickler. You don't say so?
Shepherd. Instinctively I kept better, and diversified my
denners with zebras and quaggas, and such small deer, sae
that I was always in high condition, my skin was aye sleek,
my mane meteorous; and as for my tail, wherever I went, the
tuft bore aff the belle.
North. Leo — are you, or are you not a cowardly animal?
Shepherd. After I had reached the age o' puberty my courage
never happened to be put to ony verra severe trial, for I
was aye faithfu' to my mate — and she to me — and jealousy
never disturbed our den.
Tickler. Any cubs?
Shepherd. But I couldna hae wanted courage, since I never
felt fear. I aye took the sun o' the teegger; and though
the rhinoceros is an ugly customer, he used to gie me the
wa'; at sicht o' me the elephant became his air trumpeter,
and sounded a retreat in amang the trees. Ance, and ance
only, I had a desperate fecht wi' a unicorn.
North. So he is not fabulous?
Shepherd. No him, indeed — he's ane o' the realest o' a' beasts.
Tickler. What may be the length of his horn, James?
Shepherd. O' a dagger.
North. Shape?
Shepherd. No speerally wreathed like a ram's horn — but
strecht, smooth, and polished, o' the yellow ivory — sharper
than a swurd.
Tickler. Hoofs?
Shepherd. His hoofs are no cloven, and he's no unlike a
horse. But in place o' nicherin like a horse, he roars like a
bull; and then he leeves on flesh.
Tickler. I thought he bad been omnivorous.
Shepherd. Nae cretur's omnivorous but man.
North. Rare?
Shepherd. He maun be very rare, for I never saw anither
but him I focht. The battle was in a wudd. We're natural
enemies, and set to wark the moment we met without ony
quarrel. Wi' the first pat o' my paw I scored him frae
shouther to flank, till the bluid spouted in jettees. As he ran
at me wi' his horn I joukit ahint a tree, and he transfixed it
in the pith — sheathin't to the verra hilt. There was nae use
in flingin up his heels, for wi' the side-spang I was on his
back, and fastenin my hind claws in his flank, and my fore--
claws in his shouthers, I began at my leisure devoorin him in
the neck. She sune joined me, and ate a hole into his inside
till she got at the kidneys; but judgin by him, nae animal's
mair tenawcious o' life than the unicorn — for when we left
him the remains were groanin. Neist mornin we went to
breakfast on him, but thae gluttonous creturs, the vulturs,
had been afore us, and he was but banes.
North. Are you not embellishing, James?
Shepherd. Sic a fack needs nae embellishment. But I confess,
sirs, I was, on the first hearin o't, incredulous o' Major
Laing's ha'in find the skeleton stickin to the tree!
North. Why incredulous?
Shepherd. For wha can tell at what era I was a lion? But
it pruves that the banes o' a unicorn are durable as airn.
North. And Ebony an immortal wood.
Tickler. Did you finish your career in a trap?
Shepherd. Na. I died in open day in the centre o' the
great square o' Timbuctoo.
Tickler. Ha, ha! baited?
Shepherd. Na. I was lyin ae day by mysel — for she had
disappeared to whalp amang the shrubs — waitin for some
wanderin waif comin to the well — for thirst is stronger than
fear in them that dwall in the desert, and they will seek for
water even in the lion's lair — when I saw the head o' an unknown
animal high up amang the trees, browzin on the
sprays — and then its lang neck — and then its shouthers — and
then its forelegs; and then its body droopin doun into a tail
like a buffalo's — an animal unlike ony ither I had ever seen
afore — for though spotted like a leopard, it was in shape liker
a unicorn — but then its een were black and saft, like the een
o' an antelope, and as it lickit the leaves, I kent that tongue
had never lapped bluid. I stretched myself up wi' my usual
roar, and in less time than it taks to tell't was on the back o'
the Giraffe.
Ambo. Oh! oh! oh! oh! oh! oh!
Shepherd. I happened no to be verra hungry; and my
fangs — without munchin — pierced but an inch or twa deep.
Brayin across the sand-hills at a lang trot flew the camelopard
— nor for hours slackened she her pace, till she plunged
into the Black river
Tickler. The Niger.
Shepherd. — swam across, and bore me through many
groves into a wide plain, all unlike the wilderness round the
Oasis we had left at morn.
North. What to that was Mazeppa's ride on the desert-born!
Shepherd. The het bluid grew sweeter and sweeter as I drank
— and I saw naething but her neck, till a' at ance staggerin she
fell doun — and what a sicht! Rocks, as I thocht them — but they
were houses — encirclin me a' round; thousan's o' blackamoors,
wi' shirts and spears and swurds and fires, and drums, hemmin
the Lion — and arrows — like the flyin dragons I had seen in
the desert, but no, like them, harmless — stingin me through
the sides intil the entrails, that when I bat them brak! You
asked me if I was a cooard? Was't like a cooard to drive,
in that condition, the haill city like sheep? But a' at ance,
without my ain wull, my spangin was changed into sprawlin
wi' my fore-feet. I still made them spin; but my hind-legs
were useless — my back was broken — and what I was
lappin, sirs, was a pool o' my ain bluid. I had spewed it
as my heart burst; first fire grew my een, and then mist
— and the last thing I remember was a shout and a roar.
And thus, in the centre o' the great square o' Timbuctoo the
Lion died!
North. And the hide of him, who is now the Ettrick Shepherd,
has for generations been an heirloom in the palace of
the Emperor of all the Saharas!
Shepherd. Nae less strange than true. Noo, North, let's
hear o' ane o' your transmigrations.
North. "Some Passages in the Life o' a Merman?"
Shepherd. If you please.
North. Another night, James; for really, after such painting
and such poetry —
Shepherd. Weel, weel, sir. I never insist. Oh! hoo I hate
to hear a hash¹ insist! Insistin that you shall tell a story —
insistin that you shall sing — insistin that you shall tak anither
jug — insistin that you shall sit still — insistin, in short, that
you shall do the verra thing, whatever it happen to be, that
ye hae declared a dizzen times that you will be danged if you
do do — dang him! droon him! deevil droon him! canna he
haud his foul tongue, and scart his saut head without ony
interruption, and be thankfu' — and no —
North. James! James! James!
Shepherd (laughing). Beg your pardon, sir; but only
yestreen at a pairty I was "sae pestered wi' a popinjay,"
that I'm ashamed to say I forgot mysel sae far as to dash a
jug o' het water in his face; and though he made an apology,
I fin' I haena forgien him yet. Was I red in the face?
North. Ratherly.
Shepherd. What's this? What's this? See, the floor's in
an inundation! Is that your doin, Mr Tickler?
Tickler. What the deuce do you mean, Hogg? My doing?
Shepherd. Yes — it is your doin. A stream o' water comin
frae you a' ower the Turkey carpet, and reachin — see tull't —
the rim o' the rug. What sort o' mainners is this, to force
your way at midnicht into an honest man's house, and spoil a'
his furnitur? There you sit at the Round, in your dreadnoucht,
like a Norway bear, and never tak thocht hoo the snaw,
and the cranreuch, and the icicles hae been meltin this last
hour, till the floor's a' soomin!
Tickler. You can cross at the ford.
North. James — let it seep. Shall we have some beef à-la--
mode, James?
Shepherd. Eh?
¹ Hash — blockhead.
North. Thus.
[North flings into the bright smokeless element slice after slice
of the Round, previously well salted and peppered — they
fizz — fry — and writhe like martyrs in the fire.
Shepherd. There's a bauld, a daurin simplicity in that, sir,
that reminds ane o' the first elements o' cookery, as yet no an
airt, far less a science, anterior to the time o' Tubal-Cain.
North. They have a flavour, when done so, James, superior
far to that imported by the skill of a Kitchener or an Ude.
They are more thoroughly searched by the fire — and in fact
imbibe the flavour of fire.
Shepherd. I wuss they mayna be smeekit!
North. Try.
[Nolan extricates the fry from the fire with the tongs, and
deposits them in layers on a platter. TICKLER forsakes
the side-table — joins the circular — and as he is helping
himself to beef a-la-mode, the SHEPHERD entangles his fork
with SOUTHSIDE's, and pins down the savoury slice.
Shepherd. I despair o' meetin wi' gude mainners in this rude
and boisterous warld.
North. By the way, my dear James, I should like to hear
you on National Manners.
Shepherd. The mainners o' a' nations are equally bad.
North. That may be true; but surely they are different — and
I desire to hear the Shepherd on their distinctive qualities,
and on the causes that have modified —
Shepherd. And transmogrified the original Adam?
North. You have it, James.
Shepherd. And you ken sae little o' human natur, or mak sae
little allooance for its infirmities, as seriously to expect me to
enter intil sic a feelosophical and historical innquery wi' this
fry afore me? — wi' my mouth comin into unremittin contact
wi' the moist delicious o' a' dishes — beef a-la-mode, according
to Christopher — or, as I micht ca't, North's feu-de joy?
North. We shudder at the enormities of American manners,
and bless our stars that we were born in Scotland; yet are we
little better than savages —
Shepherd. Little better than savages, said ye, sir?
North. Come, don't fly into a passion, James.
Shepherd. We're no half sae gude. Savages, as far as
mainners are concerned, are your only gentlemen.
North. Right.
Shepherd. Wha ever heard tell o' a Red Indian takin the word
out o' your mouth, or contradickin ye in a loud vice, or tellin
ye to your face that you was an ignorawmus — a bundle o' exploded
prejudices — ane o' the auld schule, whase day was gane
by — ahint the age by half a cent'ry — in plain terms, a fule?
North. No white man.
Shepherd. Nae Red Indian, whether Cherokee, Iroquois, or
Mowhawk, ever disgraced himsel by insultin you in that gate
— as I has been mony hunder times insulted by some upsettin
whalp o' a bit sma' Embro' shopkeeper, a' his life occupied a'
day in tyin broon paper parcels wi' twine.
North. I cannot sit still, James, and hear you abuse the
shopocracy — the most enlightened constituency —
Tickler. Waur hawk, Ponto! No politics, Kit.
Shepherd. Ten-pounder, indeed! The whalp's no even a
clerk — and sweeps the shop he serves — yet has the impudence
to cock his snub nose in the face o' the Ettrick Shepherd.
North. Whose genius has swept the Forest.
Shepherd. But let's soar higher up society, and tak the
Embro' shopkeepers as a class — and there's nane ither mair
respectable. What say ye till their mainners?
North. The manners of many — of almost all I know, at least
with whom I dine — are as agreeable as their minds are enlightened.

Shepherd. Are ye satirical, sir?
North. I should be ashamed of myself if I were, James.
Shepherd. But then, sir, your freens are the elite.
North. Why, I believe that is true — though they are not all
Shepherd. Oh, sir! if you kent some that I ken — you would
North. Is the smell so very strong ?
Shepherd. I wasna thinkin o' the smell — though, noo that
you mention't, it is sometimes strong indeed — but o' their a'
roarin throughither as if they were gaun to fa' to the fechtin
— wi' their een starin in their head — and their faces red, blue,
and purple — excepp the lad in the jaundice — and this they ca'
arguin! Na, a' the while they're a' arguin on the same side.
For you see, sir, they're Whigs and Radicals, and are a' unanimously
insistin on sinkin a' minor differences, and bringin
a' their energies to bear on the common enemy — that is us,
sir, you, and me, and Sir Robert Peel, and the Duke o' Wellington

Tickler. Waur hawk, dogs!
Shepherd. I could forgie them their tenets — for they're only
seekin to overturn Church and State — and every noo and then
a bit stickit-minister-lookin cretur, but wha's a clerk in some
excise or customhouse, cries out, wi' a vice like a corn-craik
— "It's a speculative question, Mr Hogg." Speculative or
practical, I could forgie them their tenets, and, without ony
symptom o' impatience, hear them drive the Bishops out o'
the House o' Lords — then destroy the House o' Lords itsel,
that is, the Peerage as a legislative body — na, banish the
King and the Royal Family to Van Diemen's Land, and set up
a Republic, wi' a President — wha micht be dear aneuch at that
soum — wi' three hundred pounds sterling per annum, and a
free house, including coal and cawnle. I repeat, I could forgie
their tenets — for I'm a Leeberal, and can range wi' pleasure
through a' latitudes o' opinion on the sphere o' thocht; but
oh! sir! arena sic mainners maist offensive? And would I be
a Christian if I werena indignant wi' a company that a' nicht
lang never ance lost the opportunity o' my openin my mouth,
without thrustin their rotten Radicalism doun my throat?
North. Why visit?
Shepherd. Whattt? would you hae me to refuse an invitation
to denner frae an auld freen — to meet a wheen auld freens —
merely 'cause their mainners arena sae polished as ane could
wish, and thae clever chiels no sae considerate, as micht be
expeckit frae their education, o' ane's feelins as conneckit wi'
his political principles?
North. Pray what has been their education?
Shepherd. They can a' read, and write, and keep byucks.
I'm no denyin their preevilege to lay doun the law on government
and religion, nor their ability to do sae — I was only
compleenin o' their mainners — which is the subjeck o' our present
discourse — and agreein wi' you that the tone in mony a
tradesman's parlour in the Modern Athens — as far as mainners
are concerned — is probably rather below that o' the cabin o'
an American steamboat on the Mississippi.
North. Do not say, James, that you agree with me in that
opinion — for I have not said a single word about the matter.
Shepherd. What say ye, then, sir, to the mainners o' leeterary
North. If you mean, James, literary men by profession —
regular authors — then we must speak first of those who conduct
the periodical press, and latterly of those who devote
themselves to what are called Works.
Shepherd. You'll hae some diffeeculty, sir, in makin out that
distinction wi' a difference; for whare's the author of what is
ca'd a wark that hasna dabbled mair or less in the dailies,
the weeklies, the monthlies, and the quarterlies?
North. Let me consider (putting his finger to the organ of
Shepherd. If there be ony such, they'll pruve a set o' auld
foggies, that hae passed their lives in writin what naebody
reads; and wi' a' due estimation o' the worth o' posthumous
fame, I think that maun be a disconsolate occupation, and
likely to bring doun their grey heads wi' sorrow to the grave.
North. I could mention a few who have established a reputation
by works that are in every good library. But —
Shepherd. There's Soothey, the first man of letters in
Europe, now that Sir Walter is gone — poet, historian, and
North. He is — but I give up the distinction, and speak now
simply of writers who have achieved a high place in literature.
The manners of all such men, as far as my experience
goes, are delightful, and, at the same time, their superiority
as conspicuous in the intellectual intercourse of social life as
in the productions of their genius.
Shepherd. Are you serious, sir?
North. Perfectly so, James. Dugald Stewart, indeed, has
written that he seldom or never found that a great philosopher
excelled in conversation, — and that as for poets, or men of
genius in the realms of imagination, he had almost always been
painfully impressed by their comparative inferiority when not
under the inspiration of the Muse, who visited them, it would
appear, only during the hours of composition. At all other
times they were dullish, or idiotic, or at best commonplace.
Shepherd. I daursay the Professor wasna far wrang in the
case o' great philosophers; but what great poets, may I ask,
did he number amang his acquentance?
North. I cannot say. I believe — for one — Thomas Campbell.
Shepherd. And is he no bricht?
North. Why, his conversation is not pitched on the same key
as his Ode to the "Mariners of England," or "Lochiel's
Shepherd. Heaven forbid!
North. But he is one of the wittiest of the witty — when in
spirits, lavish of happy thoughts — elegant in his illustrations,
and in his manner, I should say, graceful; his easy and unambitious
talk characteristic at once of the scholar and the
man of the world.
Shepherd. Thamas Cawmel, a man of the warld!
North. Yes, James. For in what society would not the
Author of the Pleasures of Hope be welcome — in what sphere
or circle the Poet of Wyoming not be a shining star?
Shepherd. True, sir.
North. A man of genius is always a man of genius, and unless
he has been too much of a recluse, pleasant and instructive
in all companies worthy of him; but he rarely desires to
play first fiddle —
Shepherd. There should never be a first fiddle in a private
North. Right.
Shepherd. Nae Paganini. Yet it's nae unusual thing to
hear some Cockney o' a cretur — an Embro' Cockney — (what
for, sir, dinna ye cut up the Embro' Cockneys?) — no only
playin first fiddle — but solo fiddle — and whether in ambition
or imbecility, restricting himsel to ae string. But the true
musicianer — that is, the man o' real genie, or tawlent, or
learnin, or wisdom — for a' sic are nature's musicianers — interexchange
instruments in harmonious amity — and without
byucks afore them — but by a natural ear for music, wi' which
heaven has endowed their souls — keep for ever a' in perfect
tune, whatever be the piece they may be performin; and if
ane is left in a solo by himsel, it's because the rest hae ceased
to play, in order that they may hear some spontaneous strain
in which his peculiar genie is known to excel, and at its
close, a' the company, till then still and silent, expresses
its gratitude by a gentle murmur, the sweetest sort o'
North. Tickler — is not that happy? Asleep.
Shepherd. Dozin in a dreadnoucht! But for his face you
micht suppose him a Bear — and but for his figure you micht
tak him for a Whaup; for it's mair like a neb nor a nose.
North. Without literature or manners, I hardly see how a
man can be a gentleman.
Shepherd. Nor me. But mony a man has a sufficient share
o' literatur that doesna like to let it out, especially in presence
o' you or me, sir; but it colours his conversation, for a' that,
and there's a charmin modesty, sir, in some men o' fine edication,
that gies a mild yet manly character to a' they inobtrusively
say in the course o' an evenin, leavin on the minds o'
them that kens what's what, a far stronger impression o' their
leeterary abilities and information, than the lang harangues o'
your declamatory chiels, wha, frae an ower-anxiety to appear
somebody aboon common, only succeed in showing you that
they are sumphs.
North. There is something, James, to my mind, not a little
laughable in the exclusive idea many minds have formed and
expressed of good society.
Shepherd. Something no a little laithsome. Them that uses
the term are contemptible coofs.
North. Not always coofs, James — though I grant contemptible.
Of late years, one hears even of men of genius —
who in their works write for the whole world — yet who would
be uneasy to be seen familiarly mixing in the circles of the
middle ranks.
Shepherd. Wha were their pawrents?
North. People in trade — and in a small way — in the soft or
hard line — sugar or shagreen — retail-dealers in treacle or tin
— collaterally connected, perhaps by blood, with a Dean of
Guild or a Provost, whose memory still survives in their
native borough, after the lapse of a quarter of a century, and
whose title is still legible on a decent freestone slab in its
kirkyard. They affect "good society," forsooth — and strut
before splendid mirrors in "fashion's most magnificent
saloons," forgetful of the far happier days, in which their only
"mirror for magistrates" was a pail of water, in whose stream
— before washing its face and hands — the household set its
cap or shaved.
"Who but must laugh, if such a man there be?
Who would not weep, if Atticus were he ?"
Shepherd. Wha's Atticus?
North. All society — every society — is good — that is composed
of men and women of good character, good manners,
and good education — and there are many millions of such
men and women.
Shepherd. And, thank Heaven! the number's increasin in
Britain every year.
North. Among them there are, it is true, degrees rather
than distinction of rank — and every person of common sense
knows his proper place on one or other of the levels of the
social system, to which, by birth or profession, he more peculiarly
belongs; and there lies "the haunt and main region"
of his life. There — are his habitualities — his familiarities —
his domesticities.
Shepherd. I dinna dislike thae words, though rather out o'
the common usage.
North. As long as he cherishes them, and prefers them to
all else, he is true to his order.
Shepherd. Gude, sir — verra gude.
North. Should he desert them, he is a traitor.
Shepherd. A sowlless sumph.
North. At least a heartless slave; and on his neck ere long
he will experience the tyrant's heel. Men of genius, James,
lose all the glory it can confer on personal character, by separating
themselves from their natural connections, when these
happen to be comparatively humble, to associate with the
great in power, the high in rank, or the opulent in riches;
and for such distinction as "good society" can confer, or such
enjoyment as "good society" can impart, sacrifice that feeling
of independence which accompanies propriety; a comprehensive
term, including many observances, which, though when
taken singly, are but small, yet collectively are of mighty import
for happiness and virtue.
Shepherd. I wouldna be asleep the noo, like Tickler, for ten
North. James, a man may degrade himself equally by leaving
his own sphere, either for a higher or a humbler than that
to which he properly and mainly belongs; and if to him a
kind Providence has assigned the golden mean, by all that is
most sacred to the human heart, let him adhere to his lot with
unspeakable gratitude, best shown by fidelity without a flaw
to the persons and the things (and for sake of persons, how
holy things become!) that compose it, and constitute it a
happy little world, circumscribed by lines of light that make
it at once a prison and a paradise.
Shepherd. No for twenty pounds.
North. I shall not say another word, my dear James, on the
effect on the whole character of the man inevitably produced
— and that, too, in no long time — by an exclusive or undue
association with coteries — and they deserve no better name —
that absurdly assume to themselves the irrational title of
"good society," though I have, in the little I have said,
merely hinted it; and I need not be more prolix on the —
Shepherd. Prolix! You're at ance fluent and conceese.
North. — on the evil as inevitably produced to the moral
and intellectual frame, by stepping out of our own sphere into
what, without offence, may be called an inferior one — a lower
one — in respect to the habits and mental cultivation, at least,
of those who properly belong to it, and in it are respectable
and worthy the respect of all men. Intimacies with our inferiors
in station — and we have all our stations — are not unfrequently
even of an endearing kind, when they have originated
in some of those pleasant circumstances that in early life bring
naturally together those whom in after-life there would have
occurred nothing to unite, but whom, indeed, all the ordinary
usages of the world keep but too much asunder. O sweet
companionship in boyhood between the children of the poor
and rich, the high and the humble!
Shepherd. At schule!
North. A thousand thoughts, James, are crowding in upon
my mind — a thousand feelings stealing in upon my heart —
when I —
Shepherd. They're no croodin in and stealin in, sir, but
they're risin up, linked thegither, frae the inner recesses o'
brain and breist.
North. — when I think, James, of the character of our
countrymen, and the great changes, for good or for evil —
Shepherd. Haply, sir, for baith — that are likely to tak place
in't, frae the great changes wrocht, and no yet ower, on the
Constitution by the Bill o' Reform, which, to tell you the
truth, I never hae read. Pray, Mr North, where can a body
get a copy?
Tickler. Waur sheep! Hector.
Shepherd. Huts-tuts. Mayna we tak a pick at politics?
Tickler. No, sir. Obey the law.
North. I trust we shall for ever love our country, hap what
may — and that shaken as they are, we Conservatives —
Shepherd. A michty band.
North. — shall be able to support our institutions —
Shepherd. Secular and religious — o' Church and State. I've
seen a spire, though built o' granite, trummle in the tempest,
like a fishin-rod; yet there was nae mair danger — whatever
micht be the fear — o' its being blawn ower than Tintock.
There's the Eddystane Lichthouse, that I never saw, but I
hae read Smeaton's account o't — him that was the arkitect —
and it's construckit after the bole o' a tree. They say it is
felt by the folk high up in the licht-room, to shake as if it
swayed, when ae great sea after anther rides ower the tap o't,
and the foam cries hurraw as it thinks it droons the Star.
But there it stauns in spite o' a' the wildest wunters, and will
staun for centuries, shinin in its steady smiles on gratefu'
ships. Sae wull it be wi' the religious institutions o' our sea-beat
isle. Oh! sir! if they were tappled doun in ruins, the
land would be waur than the sea — and darker and stormier —
and then the verra state itsel, sir, would suffer shipwrack —
though that may be an Eerish bull — and no a single life-boat
— though that may be anither — would put aff to save us a' frae
sinkin into perdition.
North. I cannot yet think that our countrymen are irreligious
— but I trust that they are still united, more closely and
firmly than they know, by many sacred sympathies that will
yet survive all this hubbub, and stabilitate the structure of
social life, by preserving in extremity that of our political and
pious institutions, that for ages have breathed back on the
natural character the spirit out of which they arose.
Shepherd. What is Love o' Kintra but an amalgamated multitude
o' sympathies in brethren's hearts!
North. Yes, James, you speak well. The love of our
country is not so much an attachment to any assignable
object, as it is our participation in that whole Spirit which has
breathed in the breasts of that whole race of which we are
Shepherd. Yes, Christopher, you speak well. It is the
Sympathy of Race.
Tickler. Philosophers!
North. All patriotism roots itself round those objects by
which we are most essentially bound to our race — of our own
and of past generations. How sacred the ties by which we
are bound to our Mother Country! Think of a party of poor
Indians, forced to quit their homes, bearing with them the
dear bones which, reburied in their new place of settlement,
would make it, by that mighty magic, holy to them, even as
their Natale Solum! Think of the People, who, when upbraided
with continually flying before Alexander, said, "Let
him pursue us to the Tombs of our Fathers, and he will then
know whether we always fly!"
Shepherd. The Sceethans, said ye? Faith, there they wad
hae shaven Sandy hoo till fecht.
Tickler. Alexander the Great called Sandy by the Ettrick
Shepherd at a Noctes Ambrosianæ !
Shepherd. I care nae mair for Alexander the Great than I
do for Tappytoorie.
North. Hence the Arab with his roving tent has yet a
Shepherd. And in his seal-skin breeks the Eskymaw.
North. Hence with the Romans that feeling kept pace
with their destinies — from their mud huts to their marble
palaces —
Tickler. —
Dum domus Æneæ capitoli immobile saxum
Accolet, imperiumque Pater Romanus habebit.
North. Ah! Timothy! why didst thou not recite the two
preceding lines, so beautiful —
Tickler. —
Fortunati ambo! si quid mea carmina possunt
Nulla dies unquam memori vos eximet ævo!
North. Thank you, my friend. Ay — the desire and forethought
of the sympathy of others, in its own consciousness
of itself, may be more easily conceived of those whose genius
exercises itself in pacific arts, than of those whose glory
begins in desolation. We can well imagine that the sculptor
or the painter, while he looks himself with delight on the
beautiful forms that are rising into life beneath his hand, feels
rejoicingly that other spirits, framed by Nature with souls
like his own, will look with the same emotion on the same
forms, and thank him to whose genius they owe their enjoyment.
And most of all with the great poets! What a divine
emotion must have been the consciousness which Virgil felt of
the pleasure which his verse would inspire, when, having
celebrated in one of the most beautiful passages of all his
poetry, the perilous and fatal adventure of those two friends,
and closed their eyes in death, his heart broke forth into that
affecting and sublime ejaculation! He prophesied falsely of
the duration of the Roman greatness; but he committed no
error in prophesying his own fame; and the delight which he
felt himself in the tender and heroic picture he had drawn, is
felt as he believed it would be by numberless spirits, and will
be felt till the end of time. He knew too that he should win
from all ages, with love for his fallen heroes, some fond
and grateful affection for him who had sung so well the story
of their fortunes — he saw the everlasting light of glory shining
through his own transient tears.
Shepherd. Gude. But arena ye wanderin frae the subjeck?

North. No. I am diverging circularly but to return.
When the warriors of Forest Germany, James, had met in
some central spot in their annual assembly, they returned
each to his own home, more bound to his country, because
one and all had participated in an act of the people.
Shepherd. Our Saxon progenitors!
North. If all the circumstances, James, are considered
which mix in this passion —
Shepherd. What'n passion, sir?
North. Patriotism! such as the attachment to old institutions,
to manners, to national peculiarities of speech and
dress, it will be found that they have all their power by means
of sympathy.
Shepherd. As I said.
North. As you said, and with even more than your usual
eloquence. It is not simply that old recollections are gathered
upon them —
Shepherd. Though that's much —
North. — but that by them each man feels himself with
vivid reality to belong to his people. On any other ground
on which patriotism may be founded, it may seem to have
something unsubstantial and illusory; but once shown to be
founded thus, it is apparent that it can only decay when one
of the most important principles of our nature is in decay.
Shepherd. Sympathy, or the power o' feelin alang wi' a'
our brethren o' mankind, but mair especially them that hae
flourished and faded awa amang the flowers o' our ain soil, in
a' the best emotions o' natur continuous in their characteristic
current frae the cradle to the grave!
North. Good. How else, my dear Shepherd, can we comprehend
that extraordinary passion of patriotism felt in old
times! You know — nobody better — what infinite causes concurred
in such states to give immense power to that sympathy
by which each man felt himself united to all his countrymen.
We thus understand the importance attached by the Greeks
to their national games, which otherwise would appear extravagant,
or even absurd — the prize to the first-fallen of the
war — of their civic funeral, and their oration pronounced in
the hearing of all the people of Athens.
Shepherd. A' the nation lamentin and exultin for sake o' ae
North. We understand the value of pillars, on which their
names were inscribed and read — of statues, in which their
features were still looked upon by thousands of living eyes —
Shepherd. Glowerin on the eemages o' the glorious dead, till
they too kindled wi' the howp o' ae day being glowered at by
heroes yet unborn! Posthumous fame! posthumous fame!
Oh, sirs! but it's a mystery that nae patriot would seek to
analeese, but rather alloo't to remain in its shooblime simplicity,
conneckit wi' a feelin shooblimer still, the immortality o'
the sowl.
North. Think on the feelings a nation of heroes entertain
for their greatest Hero.
Shepherd. Far, far ayont their individual part in the cause
or the success, but no ayont the dilatation o' spirit and power
ilka ane o' them feels frae his ain union wi' the power and the
will o' a' the conquerin myriads whom he heads! He, their
leader, sir, is the centre round which a' their passions revolve,
like planets round the sun.
Tickler. Hollo, James!
Shepherd. Whattt! Do you think, you coof, that their
attachment is a' for himsel alane? Na. In him, sir, a' their
am micht and their ain majesty is bund up in ae veesible
eemage. He is your only true, and, at the same time, ideal
representative o' his kintramen; and at mention o' him, their
hearts burn within them, and the licht o' patriotism illumines
the land far and wide — and, in danger, is concentrated intil
fire, that tins alang the earth, devoorin a' that would resist
it like a stubble, till the rear-guard o' the invaders is extinguished
wi' a fizz in the sea. O heavens! at sic a time hoo
the pressure o' common mortality is thrown aff! hoo its bands
hae fallen awa! The fears, the pains, the sorrows, the anguish,
that tab haud on weak natur, hae at ance ceased, when all are
sustained and strengthened by ae consentin passion, fearsomer
to faes than thunner growlin frae the sky it blackens — gladsomer
to freens than the lauch o' morn –
Tickler. —
— "Seems another morn,
Risen on mid-day."
Shepherd. Gude! Milton.
North. Yes, James, that is our country — not where we
have breathed alone; not that land which we have loved,
because it has shown to our opening eyes the brightness of
heaven, and the gladness of earth; but the land for which we
have hoped and feared, — that is to say, for which our bosom
has beat with the consenting hopes and fears of many million
hearts; that land, of which we have loved the mighty living
and the mighty dead; that land, the Roman and the Greek
would have said, where the boy had sung in the pomp that
led the sacrifice to the altars of the ancient deities of the
Shepherd. And therefore, when a man he would guard
them frae profanation, and had he a thousan' lives, would
pour them a' out for sake o' what some micht ca' superstition,
but which you and me, and Southside, sittin there wi' his
great grey een, would fearna, in the face o' heaven, to ca'
Tickler. Hurra!
Shepherd. I but clench my nieves.
North. James, the Campus Martius and the Palæstra —
Shepherd. Sir?
North. — where the youth exercised Heroic Games, were
the Schools of their Virtue; for there they were taking part
in the passions, the power, the life, the glory that flowed
through all the spirit of the nation.
Shepherd. O' them, sir, the ggems at St Ronan's are, but
on a sma' scale, an imperfect eemage.
North. Old warriors and gowned statesmen, that frowned in
marble or in brass, in public places, and in the porches of
noble houses, trophied monuments, and towers riven with
the scars of ancient battles — the Temple raised where Jove
had stayed the Flight — or the Victory whose expanded wings
still seemed to hover over the conquering bands — what were
all these to the eyes and the fancy of the young citizen, but
characters speaking to him of the great secret of his Hopes
and Desires — in which he read the union of his own heart to
the heart of the Heroic Nation of which he was One?
Shepherd. My bluid's tinglin and my skin creeps. Dinna
North. And what, James, I ask you, what if less noble
passions must hereafter take their place in his mind? — what
if he must learn to share in the feuds and hates of his house
or of his order? Those far deeper and greater feelings had
been sunk into his spirit in the years when it is most susceptible,
unsullied, and pure, and afterwards in great contests, in
peril of life and death, in those moments of agitation or profound
emotion in which the higher soul again rises up, all
those high and solemn affections of boyhood and youth would
return upon him, and consecrate his warlike deeds with the
noblest name of virtue that was known to those ancient
Shepherd. What was't? Eh?
North. Patriotism.
Shepherd. Ou ay. Say on, sir.
North. Therefore how was the Oaken Crown prized which
was given to him who had saved the life of a citizen!
Shepherd. And amang a people too, sir, whare every man
was willin at a word to die.
North. Perhaps, James, he loved not the man whom he
had preserved; but he had remembered in the battle that it
was a son of his country that had fallen, and over whom he
had spread his shield. He knew that the breath he guarded
was part of his country's being.
Shepherd. Mr Tickler, saw ye ever sic een?
North. Look at the simple incitements to valour in the
songs of that poet who is said to have roused the Lacedemonians,
disheartened in unsuccessful war, and to have animated
them to victory. "He who fights well among the foremost,
if he fall shall be sung among his people; or if he live, shall
be in reverence in their council; and old men shall give place
to him; his tomb shall be in honour, and the children of his
Shepherd. Simple incitement, indeed, sir, but as you said
richtly, shooblime.
North. Why, James, the love of its own military glory in a
warlike people is, indeed, of itself an imperfect patriotism.
Shepherd. Sir? Wull ye say that again, for I dinna just
tak it up.
North. Believe me, my dear Shepherd, that in every country
there is cause for patriotism, or the want of such a cause
argues defects in the character and condition of the country of
the grossest kind. It shows that the people are vicious, or
servile, or effeminate —
Shepherd. Which only a confoonded leear will ever say o'
North. The want of this feeling is always a great vice in
the individual character; for it will hardly ever be found
to arise from the only justifiable or half-justifiable cause,
namely, when a very high mind, in impatient disdain of the
baseness of all around it, seems to shake off its communion
with them. I call that but half-justifiable.
Shepherd. And I, sir, with your leave, ca't a'thegither
unjustifiable, as you can better explain than the simple
North. You are right, James. For the noblest minds do
not thus break themselves loose from their country; but they
mourn over it, and commiserate its sad estate, and would
die to recover it. They acknowledge the great tie of nature
— of that house they are — and its shame is their own.
Shepherd. O, sir! but you're a generous noble-hearted cretur!
North. In all cases, then, the want of patriotism is sheer
want of feeling; such a man labours under an incapacity of
sympathising with his kind in their noblest interests. Try
him, and you shall find that on many lower and unworthier
occasions he feels with others — that his heart is not simply
too noble for this passion — but that it is capable of being
animated and warmed with many much inferior desires.
Shepherd. A greedy dowg and a lewd ane, — in the ae case,
snarlin for a bane — and in the ither, growlin for the flesh. I
scunner at sic a sinner.
North. Woe to the citizen of the world!
Shepherd. Shame — shame — shame!
North. The man who feels himself not bound to his country
can have no gratitude.
Shepherd. Hoo selfish and cauld-hearted maun hae been his
very childhood!
North. I confess that, except in cases of extreme distress,
I have never been able to sympathise with — emigrants.
Shepherd. I dinna weel ken, sir, what to say to that — but
mayna a man love, and yet leave his country?
North. My dear James, I see many mournful meanings in
the dimness of your eyes — so shall not pursue that subject —
but you will at least allow me to say, that there is something
shocking in the mind of the man who can bear, without reluctance
or regret, to be severed from the whole world of his
early years — who can transfer himself from the place which
is his own to any region of the globe, where he can advance
his fortune — who, in this sense of the word, can say, in carrying
himself, "omnia mea mecum porto."
Shepherd. That's no in my book o' Latin or Greek quotations.

North. Exiles carry with them from their mother country
all its dearest names.
Shepherd. And a wee bit name — canna it carry in it a wecht
o' love!
North. Ay, James, the fugitives from Troy had formed a
little Ilium, and they had, too, their little Xanthus.
Tickler. "Et avertem Xanthi cognomine rivum."
Shepherd. You're twa classical scholars, and wull aye be
quotin Greek. But for my part, — after a' those eloquent diatribes
o' yours on the pawtriotism o' the auncients, I wudna
desire to stray for illustrations ae step out o' the Forest.
Tickler. Aren't ye all Whigs?
Shepherd. Some o' a' sorts. But it's an epitome o' the pastoral
wand at large — and the great majority o' shepherds are
Conservatives. They're a thinkin people, sir, as ye ken; and
though far frae bein' unspeculative, or unwillin to adopt new
contrivances as sune's they hae got an insicht intil the principle
on which they work, yet a new-fangle in their een 's but
a new-fangle; and as in the case o' its bein' applied to a draw--
well, they wait no only to see how it pumps up, but hae patience
to put its durability to the proof o' a pretty lang experience,
sae in the political affairs o' the State — they're no to be taen
in by the nostrums o' every reformer that has a plan o' a new,
cheap constitution to shaw, but they fasten their een on't as
dourly as on a dambrodd;¹ and then begin cross-questionin the
chiel — quack or else no — on the vawrious bearings o' the mainsprings,
wheels, and drags; and as sune's they perceive a
hitch, they cry ha! ha! ma lad! I'm thinkin she'll no rin up
hill — and if ye let her lowse at the tap o' ane, she'll rattle to
the deevil.
North. And such too, my dear sir, don't you think, is the
way of thinking among the great body of the agriculturists?
Shepherd. I could illustrate it, sir, by the smearin o' sheep.
Tickler. And eke the shearing.
Shepherd. Say clippin. The Whigs and Radicals assert
toon folks are superior in mind to kintra folks. They'll be
sayin neist that they're superior to them likewise in body — and
speak o' the rabble o' the Forest as ither people speak o' the
rabble o' the Grassmarket. But the rural riff-raff are in sprinklins,
in sma' families, and only seen lousin ane anither on
spats formin an angle on the road-sides. Findlay o' Selkirk
has weel-nigh cleaned the coonty o' a' sic — but in great toons,
and especially manufacturin anes, there are haill divisions
hotchin wi' urban riffraff, and it's them ye hear at hustins
routin in a way that the stots and stirks o' the Forest would
be ashamed o' theirsels for doin in a bare field on a wunter
day, when something had hindered the hind frae carryin them
some fodder to warm their wames in the snaw. The salvation
o' the kintra, sir, depends on the —
Tickler. This will never do, North — this is too bad. See,
'tis six!
North (rising, and giving his guests each his candle). We
shall hear you another time, my dear Shepherd — but now
Shepherd. The salvation o' the kintra, sir, depends on
the —
¹ Dambrodd — draft-board.
North (touching first one spring and then another, while fly
open two panels in the oak wainscoting). You know your
rooms, gents. The alarm-bell will ring at twelve — and at one
lunch will be on the table in the Topaz. I wish you both the
nightmare. (Touches a spring, and vanishes.)
Shepherd. Mr Tickler! I say the salvation o' the country —
baith gane! — I'm no sleepy — but I'll rather sleep than soliloqueese.
(Vanishes, while GURNEY comes out like a mouse, and
begins to nibble cheese).
To enter into the spirit of the following pungent jeu d'esprit,
and to appreciate its effect, the reader must take into account
the state of society in Edinburgh at the time when it appeared.
Forty years ago the Northern Metropolis was much more
locked up within itself than it now is. Its local interests,
literary and political, had not been merged, as they now in a
great measure are, in the general interests of the country. It
had a marked individuality — a life, a character, and an activity
of its own, which pointed it out as a much fairer and more
definite mark for the shafts of the satirist, or, as the case
might be, for the compliments of the encomiast, than is now
presented, when its more prominent features have been worn
The spirit which pervaded this somewhat confined community
was a spirit of intense Whiggishness. This character
had been imparted to the society of Edinburgh, and
the social and literary ascendancy of the Whigs had been
secured, mainly through the agency of the Edinburgh Review.
During the first twelve or fifteen years of its circulation,
this celebrated journal exercised an influence on public
opinion of which the present generation can form no adequate
conception. Its novelty gave it a hold on the attention
of the public, which its vigour enabled it to retain. It was
edited by Jeffrey with consummate ability, and numbered
among its contributors several names, then in the dawn
of their celebrity, which have since risen to high distinction
either in the political annals or in the literary history of the
nation. Its political sentiments, though often unpatriotic
and anti-national, were eagerly imbibed; its critical decrees,
though sometimes highly questionable, were still more enthusiastically
embraced. It nerved, — it held together, it even
called into existence, a powerful party who re-echoed and
disseminated its principles. "The blue and the yellow" was
the standard around which the resolute rallied, and by the
unfurling of which the vacillating were confirmed. But for
the Edinburgh Review, the Whigs of Edinburgh would never
have attained to the civic supremacy which was theirs during
the early part of the present century. To hang even on the
outskirts of a body which possessed so commanding an organ
was itself a privilege; hence the Whig ranks, through all
their gradations, were continually filled with recruits whose
breasts were animated with a glory, not their own indeed, but
reflected on them from their chiefs.
Such a palmy posture of affairs was too good to last. A
reaction was inevitable; Toryism began to mutter and protest.
The authority of the great Review was called in question.
Its popularity, indeed, had by this time begun somewhat to
decline; doubts had sprung up as to its infallibility. It had
ceased to be regarded universally as the manual of political
wisdom and of literary taste. Its prestige, however, remained;
and those who had been educated in its principles still continued
their allegiance, and while they perused and reperused
the brilliant editorial articles on the Lyrical Ballads and The
Excursion, they thanked God, in their innocence, that they
were not such incomparable donkeys as William Wordsworth.
The Chaldee MS. was the first trumpet-note which dissolved
the trance of Edinburgh, and broke the spell of Whig domination.
Six months before this note was sounded, Mr Blackwood
had started a journal for the advocacy of Tory principles,
entitled The Edinburgh Monthly Magazine. It is worthy of
remark, that in the sixth number of this periodical, a notice
appeared, announcing that "this work is now discontinued,
the present being the last number of it." The probability is
that this announcement was merely intended as an intimation
that the journal in question was about to change its name, and
that the campaign was on the eve of being reopened under
more vigorous management, for the work was not discontinued.
It took the field in due course, having assumed meanwhile, for
its seventh number, and for the first time, the title of Black-wood's
Edinburgh Magazine. In that number the Chaldee MS.
appeared; and from that time the preponderance of Whig
doctrines has been counterpoised, and the influence of Tory
principles very sensibly, and, it is believed, not disadvantageously,
impressed on the politics and literature of Scotland,
as well as on the social life of its metropolis.
The Chaldee MS. fell on Edinburgh like a thunderbolt.
It took the city by surprise. Whiggism was at this time in
full blow, and in matronlike maturity was enjoying a dignified
repose. The magnates of this party having lost, through
time, somewhat of the effervescence of their juvenile spirits,
had come to think that, because they were now comparatively
virtuous, there were to be no more cakes and ale. They
forgot the personalities which had enriched, particularly at
an early period, the pages of their own journal. The satellites
of the party were scandalised. They protested lustily against
the outrageous personalities and profanities of the Chaldee.
In truth, it was rather a wicked business. Friends and foes
were alike confounded: the Tories were perplexed; the Whigs
were furious.
The personalities of the Chaldee MS. are indefensible, —
almost as much so as those in which the opposite party had
sometimes indulged, as specimens of which the lampoons
and pasquinades of Mr Thomas Moore may be referred to.
To drag into publicity not only persons who, from their distinction,
were in a manner public property, but persons,
moreover, who had never been heard of beyond the privacy
of the domestic circle — to describe them in absurd figurative
types, and to invest them with the most ludicrous allegorical
appendages, was an offence against propriety, and a violation
of social usages, which our sober judgment must condemn.
It may be difficult to draw the line where legitimate personality
terminates. It is doubtful, too, whether the Edinburgh
Review has always kept within that line. But it is
certain that the Chaldee MS. overstepped it. This must be
admitted without any reserve.
Yet, after all, this escapade was not a matter even then —
it is certainly not a matter now — to look very grave over. To
suppose that any human being could have been injured by its
satire, or could have lost in consequence of it one particle of
the respect to which he was entitled, is ridiculous. It is a pure
extravaganza — a happy, and, on the whole, a very harmless
quiz. It does not contain one grain of real malevolence, or
one word of serious bitterness. It is the overflowing of an
exuberant hilarity. To us, at this time of day, it seems as if
the best thing that all parties could have done would have
been to have joined in a hearty laugh over its absurdities.
But that way of disposing of it did not suit the temper of
those times. It was dealt with as a very serious affair.
This effusion is now republished as a remarkable literary
curiosity. It illustrates, with wonderful spirit, the character,
social and political, of the era, and of the place in which it
was written. It is a mirror in which we behold literary Edinburgh
of 1817 translated into mythology. Time, it is conceived,
has taken the sting out of its personalities, without
having blunted the edge of its cleverness, or damaged the
felicity of its humour. It is a pithy and symbolical chronicle
of the keen and valiant strife between Toryism and Whiggism
in the northern metropolis. Under the guise of an allegory,
it describes the origin and early history of Blackwood's Magazine,
and the discomfiture of a rival journal carried on under
the auspices of Constable. To say the least of it, the Chaldee
Manuscript is quite as good in its way as Swift's Battle of the
Books; and therefore, on these several accounts, it seems
entitled to a permanent place in our literature, and worthy
of a more extensive circulation than it has hitherto obtained.
In the marginal commentary which has been supplied, the
allegorical veil which covers up the text has not been altogether
removed, but it has been sufficiently withdrawn to enable the
reader to obtain a competent insight into all the essential particulars
of the record.
The history of the authorship and early fate of this
production have been already related in the Preface to these
volumes. It may be proper, however, to repeat, that the conception
of the Chaldee MS., and the first thirty-seven verses
of Chapter I., are to be ascribed to the Ettrick Shepherd: the
rest of the composition falls to be divided between Professor
Wilson and Mr Lockhart, in proportions which cannot now be
Blackwood's Magazine, October 1817.
[THE present age seems destined to witness the recovery
of many admirable pieces of writing, which had been supposed
to be lost for ever. The Eruditi of Milan are not the
only persons who have to boast of being the instruments of
these resuscitations. We have been favoured with the following
translation of a Chaldee MS. which is preserved in the
great Library of Paris (Salle 2d, No. 53, B.A.M.M.), by a
gentleman whose attainments in Oriental Learning are well
known to the public. It is said that the celebrated Silvester
de Sacy is at present occupied with a publication of the original.
It will be prefaced by an Inquiry into the Age when
it was written, and the name of the writer.]
1 And I saw in my dream, and behold
one like the messenger of a King came
toward me from the east, and he took me
up and carried me into the midst of the
great city that looketh toward the north
and toward the east, and ruleth over
every people, and kindred, and tongue,
that handle the pen of the writer.
2 And he said unto me, Take heed
what thou seest, for great things shall
come of it; the moving of a straw shall
be as the whirlwind, and the shaking of
a reed as the great tempest.
1. The city of Edinburgh.

3 And I looked, and behold a man
clothed in plain apparel stood in the
door of his house: and I saw his name,
and the number of his name; and his
name was as it had been the colour of
ebony, and his number was the number
of a maiden, when the days of the years
of her virginity have expired.
4 And I turned mine eyes, and behold
two beasts came from the land of
the borders of the South; and when I
saw them I wondered with great admiration.

5 The one beast was like unto a
lamb, and the other like unto a bear;
and they had wings on their heads;
their faces also were like the faces of
men, the joints of their legs like the
polished cedars of Lebanon, and their
feet like the feet of horses preparing to
go forth to battle: and they arose and
they came onward over the face of the
earth, and they touched not the ground
as they went.
6 And they came unto the man who
was clothed in plain apparel, and stood
in the door of his house.
7 And they said unto him, Give us
of thy wealth, that we may eat and
live, and thou shalt enjoy the fruits of
our labours for a time, times, or half a
8 And he answered and said unto
them, What will you unto me where--
unto I may employ you?
9 And the one said, I will teach the
people of thy land to till and to sow;
to reap the harvest and gather the
sheaves into the barn; to feed their
flocks, and enrich themselves with the
3. Mr William Blackwood,
of No. 17 Princes
4. The editors of the
first six numbers of Blackwood's
5. The address of one,
the Lamb, was mild and
soft; that of the other, the
Bear, was quite the reverse.
They were both
very lame, and went upon
9. The Bear, who was
a great agriculturist, and
editor of the Farmers'
10 And the other said, I will teach
the children of thy people to know and
discern betwixt right and wrong, the
good and the evil, and in all things
that relate to learning, and knowledge,
and understanding.
11 And they proffered unto him a
Book; and they said unto him, Take
thou this, and give us a piece of money,
that we may eat and drink that our souls
may live.
12 And we will put words into the
Book that shall astonish the children of
thy people; and it shall be a light unto
thy feet, and a lamp unto thy path; it
shall also bring bread to thy household,
and a portion to thy maidens.
13 And the man hearkened to their
voice, and he took the Book and gave
them a piece of money, and they went
away rejoicing in heart. And I heard
a great noise, as if it had been the
noise of many chariots, and of horsemen
horsing upon their horses.
14 But after many days they put no
words into the Book; and the man was
astonied and waxed wroth, and he
said unto them, What is this that you
have done unto me, and how shall I
answer those to whom I am engaged?
And they said, What is this unto us?
see thou to that.
15 And the man wist not what for to
do; and he called together the friends
of his youth, and all those whose heart
was as his heart, and he entreated
them, and they put words into the Book,
and it went forth abroad, and all the
world wondered after the Book, and
after the two beasts that had put such
amazing words into the Book.
10. The Lamb.
11. They propose to
edit a magazine for Mr
13. Who closes with
their offer, and their
crutches clatter with joy
as they retire.
14. They belie their
promise, and turn out to
be a couple of incapables.
15. Mr Blackwood, therefore,
gets assistance from
more competent friends.
16 ¶ Now, in those days there lived
also a man who was crafty in counsel,
and cunning in all manner of working :
17 And I beheld the man, and he was
comely and well-favoured, and he had
a notable horn in his forehead wherewith
he ruled the nations.
18 And I saw the horn, that it had
eyes, and a mouth speaking great
things, and it magnified itself even to
the Prince of the Host, and it cast
down the truth to the ground, and it
grew and prospered.
19 And when this man saw the Book,
and beheld the things that were in the
Book, he was troubled in spirit, and
much cast down.
20 And he said unto himself, Why
stand I idle here, and why do I not bestir
myself? Lo! this Book shall become
a devouring sword in the hand of
mine adversary, and with it will he
root up or loosen the horn that is in my
forehead, and the hope of my gains shall
perish from the face of the earth.
21 And he hated the Book, and the
two beasts that had put words into the
Book, for he judged according to the
reports of men; nevertheless, the man
was crafty in counsel, and more cunning
than his fellows.
22 And he said unto the two beasts,
Come ye and put your trust under the
shadow of my wings, and we will destroy
the man whose name is as ebony,
and his Book.
23 And I will tear it in pieces, and
cast it out like dung upon the face of
the earth.
24 And we will tread him down as
the dust of the streets, and trample him
16. Mr Constable, publisher
of the Edinburgh
Review, and the old Scots
17. The Edinburgh Review.

19. Constable's consternation
on the appearance
of Blackwood's Magazine.
22 Constable invites
the two beasts to come
over to his camp.
under our feet; and we will break him
to pieces, and grind him to powder, and
cast him into the brook Kedron.
25 And I will make of you a great
name; and I will place you next to the
horn that is in my forehead, and it shall
be a shelter to you in the day of great
adversity; and it shall defend you from
the horn of the unicorn, and from the
might of the Bulls of Bashan.
26 And you shall be watchers and
a guard unto it from the emmet and the
spider, and the toad after his kind.
27 And from the mole that walketh
in darkness, and from the blow-fly after
his kind, and the canker-worm after his
kind, and the maggot after his kind.
28 And by these means you shall
wax very great, for the things that are
low shall be exalted.
29 And the two beasts gave ear unto
him; and they came over unto him,
and bowed down before him with their
faces to the earth.
30 ¶ But when the tidings of these
things came to the man who was clothed
in plain apparel, he was sore dismayed,
and his countenance fell.
31 And it repented him that he had
taken the Book, or sent it forth abroad:
and he said, I have been sore deceived
and betrayed; but I will of myself yield
up the Book, and burn it with fire, and
give its ashes to the winds of heaven.
32 But certain that were there present
said unto him, Why art thou dismayed?
and why is thy countenance
fallen? Go to now; gird up thy loins
like a man, and call unto thee thy
friends, and the men of thine household,
and thou shalt behold and see
25. And to become the
editors of his magazine.
29. They hearken to his
30. Blackwood is, at
first, disheartened.
32. His friends cheer
him up.
that they that are for thee are more
and mightier than those that be against
33 And when the man whose name
was as ebony, and whose number was
the number of a maiden, when the days
of the years of her virginity have expired,
heard this saying, he turned
34 And he took from under his girdle
a gem of curious workmanship of silver,
made by the hand of a cunning artificer,
and overlaid within with pure
gold; and he took from thence something
in colour like unto the dust of the
earth, or the ashes that remain of a furnace,
and he snuffed it up like the east
wind, and returned the gem again into
its place.
35 Whereupon he opened his mouth,
and he said unto them, As thou hast
spoken, so shall it be done.
36 Woe unto all them that take part
with the man who is crafty in counsel,
and with the two beasts!
37 For I will arise and increase my
strength, and come upon them like the
locust of the desert, to abolish and overwhelm,
and to destroy, and to pass
38 So he called together the wise
men of the city, both from the Old City
and from the city which is on this side
of the valley, even the New City, which
looketh towards the north; and the
wise men came.
39 And, lo! there stood before him
an aged man, whose hair was white as
snow, and in whose hand there was a
mirror, wherein passed to and fro the
images of the ancient days.
34. He takes a pinch of
35. And rallies.
38. He calls together
his friends.
39. Henry Mackenzie,
author of The Minor, The
Man of Feeling, &c.
40 And he said, Behold, I am stricken
in years, mine eyes are dim. What will
ye that I do unto you? Seek ye them
that are young.
41 And all the young men that were
there lifted up their voice and said,
We have sat at thy feet all the days of
the years which we have lived upon
the earth; and that which we know is
thine, and our learning is thine; and
as thou sayest, even so will we do.
42 And he said unto them, Do ye
what is meet in this thing, and let not
our friend be discomfited, neither let
the man which is crafty rejoice, nor the
two beasts.
43 And when he had said this, he
arose and went away; and all the young
men arose up, and humbled themselves
before him when he went away.
44 Then spake the man clothed in
plain apparel to the great magician who
dwelleth in the old fastness, hard by
the river Jordan, which is by the Border.
And the magician opened his
mouth, and said, Lo! my heart wisheth
thy good, and let the thing prosper
which is in thy hands to do it.
45 But thou seest that my hands are
full of working, and my labour is great.
For, lo! I have to feed all the people
of my land, and none knoweth whence
his food cometh; but each man openeth
his mouth, and my hand filleth it with
pleasant things.
46 Moreover, thine adversary also is
of my familiars.
47 The land is before thee: draw
thou up thy hosts for the battle in the
place of Princes, over against thine adversary,
which bath his station near the
44. Sir Walter Scott.
46. Constable was Sir
Walter's publisher.
47."The mount of proclamation"
was the Cross
(since removed) in the
High Street, where Constable's
shop then was.
mount of the Proclamation; quit ye as
men, and let favour be shown unto him
which is most valiant.
48 Yet be thou silent: peradventure
will I help thee some little.
49 So he made request also unto a
wise man which had come out of Joppa,
where the ships are, one that had sojourned
in far countries, whose wisdom
is great above all the children of the
east, one which teacheth the sons of
the honourable men, and speaketh
wonderful things in the schools of the
learned men.
50 One which speaketh of trees and
of beasts, and of fowl and of creeping
things, and of fishes, from the great
Leviathan that is in the deep sea even
unto the small muscle which dwelleth
in the shell of the rock;
51 Moreover, of all manner of precious
stones, and of the ancient mountains,
and of the moving of the great waters.
52 One which had been led before the
Chief Priests, and lauded of them for
smiting a worshipper of Fire in the land,
which being interpreted, signifieth
53 And he said, Behold, here is a
round stone, set thou that in a ring, and
put the ring upon thy finger, and behold
while the ring is upon thy finger,
thou shalt have no fear of the man which
is crafty, neither of the two beasts.
54 Then the man spake to a wise man
which had a light in his hand and a
crown of pearls upon his head, and he
said, Behold I will brew a sharp poison
for the man which is crafty and his two
beasts. Wait ye till I come. So he
arose also and went his way.
49. Robert .Jameson,
Esq., a native of Joppa, a
village on the Firth of
Forth near Edinburgh, and
Professor of Natural History
in the University of
51. He was a distinguished
52. And an advocate of
the Wernerian in opposition
to the Huttonian hypothesis.

54. Sir David Brewster.
55 Also to a wise young man, which
is learned in the law, even as his father
was learned, and who lifteth up his
voice in the courts of the treasury of
our Lord the King, with his fellow, who
is one of the sons of the Prophets.
56 He spake also to a learned man
who sendeth all the King's messengers
to the four corners of the great city, each
man clothed in scarlet, and bearing a
bundle of letters, touching the affairs of
men, in his right hand.
57 He spake also unto a sweet singer,
who is cunning to play upon all stringed
instruments, who weareth a charm upon
his bosom, even a stone, whereon is engraved
ancient writing. And he framed
songs, and waxed very wroth against
the horn which is in the forehead of the
man which is crafty.
58 Also to one who had been a physician
in his youth, and who had dwelt
with the keeper of the gates of the wise
59 But he was now a dealer in wine
and oil, and in the fishes which are taken
in the nets of the people of the west.
60 Also in strong drink.
61 Then sent he for one cunning in
sharp instruments and edged tools, even
in razors; but he had taken unto himself
a wife, and could not come.
62 But, behold, while they were yet
speaking, they heard a voice of one
screeching at the gate, and the voice
was a sharp voice, even like the voice
of the unclean bird which buildeth its
nest in the corner of the temple, and
defileth the holy places.
63 But they opened not the door,
neither answered they a word to the
55. Patrick Fraser Tytler,
Esq., advocate, author
of the History of Scotland,
&c., son of Lord
Woodhouselee, one of the
judges of the Supreme
56. Mr Henderson, surveyor,
General Post-Office.
57. (?) Mr Peter Hill,
for a short notice of whom
see Peter's Letters to his
Kinsfolk, vol. ii. p. 180.
61. A person who had
sent an article to Blackwood
on the sharpening of
62. Charles Kirkpatrick
Sharpe, Esq. — See Noctes
Ambrosianæ, vol. i. p. 109.
voice of its screaming. So the unclean
thing flew away, neither could they
rind any trace of its going.
64 And there was a silence in the
assembly. And, behold, when they
began to speak, they were too many,
neither could the man know what was
the meaning of their counsel, for they
spake together, and the voice of their
speaking was mingled.
65 So the man was sore perplexed,
and he wist not what for to do.
1 Now, behold, as soon as they were
gone, he sat down in his inner chamber,
which looketh toward the street of
Oman, and the road of Gabriel, as thou
goest up into the land of Ambrose, and
the man leaned with his face upon his
2 And while he was yet musing, there
stood before him a man clothed in dark
garments, having a veil upon his head ;
and there was a rod in his hand.
3 And he said, Arise, let not thine
heart be discouraged, neither let it be
4 Behold, if thou wilt listen unto me,
I will deliver thee out of all thy distresses,
neither shall any be able to
touch a hair of thy head.
5 And when the man heard the voice
of his speaking, behold there was in his
voice courage, and in his counsel boldness.
And he said unto him, Do thou
as it seemeth unto thee; as thou sayest
even so will I do.
65. Blackwood is perplexed
by the multiplicity
of counsellors.
2. The veiled editor
5. Blackwood is emboldened
by his voice.
6 And the man who had come in
answered and said, Behold I will call
mighty creatures which will comfort
thee, and destroy the power of thy adversary,
and will devour the two beasts.
7 So he gave unto the man in plain
apparel a tablet, containing the names
of those upon whom he should call.
And when he called they came; and
whomsoever he asked he came.
8 And the man with the veil stood
by, but there was a cloud about him,
neither could they which came see him,
nor tell who it was that compelled their
9 And they came in the likeness of
living things, but I knew not who they
were which came.
10 And the first which came was
after the likeness of the beautiful leopard,
from the valley of the palm trees,
whose going forth was comely as the
greyhound, and his eyes like the lightning
of fiery flame.
11 And the second was the lynx that
lurketh behind the white cottage on the
12 There came also, from a far country,
the scorpion, which delighteth to
sting the faces of men, that he might
sting sorely the countenance of the man
which is crafty, and of the two beasts.
13 Also the great wild boar from the
forest of Lebanon, and he roused up his
spirit, and I saw him whetting his
dreadful tusks for the battle.
14 And the griffin came with a roll
of the names of those whose blood had
been shed between his teeth: and I
saw him standing over the body of one
that had been buried long in the grave,
6. The veiled editor
summons his instruments.
10. Professor Wilson,
author of the Isle of Palms.
11. Arthur Mower, Esq.,
author of a little tale called
The White Cottage.
12. John Gibson Lockhart,
13. James Hogg, Esq.
14. The Rev. Dr M'Crie,
author of the Life of Knox,
defending it from all men; and behold
there were none which durst come near
15 Also the black eagle of the desert,
whose cry is as the sound of an unknown
tongue, which flieth over the ruins of the
ancient cities, and hath his dwelling
among the tombs of the wise men.
16 Also the stork which buildeth
upon the housetop, and devoureth all
manner of unclean things, and all
beetles, and all manner of flies, and
much worms.
17 And the hyæna that escheweth
the light, and cometh forth at the evening
tide to raise up and gnaw the bones
of the dead, and is as a riddle unto the
vain man.
18 And the beagle and the slowhound
after their kind, and all the beasts of
the field, more than could be numbered,
they were so many.
19 ¶ And when they were all gathered
together, the man which was clothed
in plain apparel looked round about,
and his heart was right merry when he
saw the mighty creatures which had
come in unto him, and heard the tumult
of their voices, and the noise of the
flapping of their wings.
20 And he lifted up his voice, and
shouted with a great shout, and said,
Behold, I am increased greatly, and I
will do terrible things to the man who
is crafty, and to his two beasts.
21 And he sent away a swift messenger
for a physician, which healeth all
manner of bruises, and wounds, and
putrifying sores, lest that he should go
for to heal up the wounds of the man
which is crafty, or of his two beasts.
16. Sir William Hamilton,
Bart., the distinguished
Professor of Logic and
Metaphysics in the University
of Edinburgh.
16. James Wilson, Esq.,
the eminent naturalist,
Professor Wilson's brother.
17. John Riddell, Esq.,
advocate, a profound legal
22 (Now this physician was a mild
man, neither was there any gall within
him, yet he went not).
1 And while these things were yet
doing, I heard a great rushing, and the
sound as of a mighty wind: and I looked
over the valley into the Old City, and
there was a tumult over against the
mount of Proclamation.
2 For when tidings of these things
came to the man which was crafty, his
heart died within him, and he waxed
sore afraid.
3 And he said unto himself, What is
this? Behold, mine adversary is very
mighty, neither can I go forth to fight
him: for whom have I save myself
only, and my two beasts ?
4 And while he was yet speaking, the
two beasts stood before him.
5 And the beast which was like unto
a bear said, Behold, it is yet harvest,
and how can I leave my corn which is
in the fields? If I go forth to make
war upon the man whose name is as
ebony, the Philistines will come into my
farm, and carry away all the full sheaves
which are ready.
6 And the beast which was like unto
a lamb answered and said, Lo! my legs
are weary, and the Egyptians which
were wont for to carry me are clean
gone; and wherewithal shall I go forth
to make war upon the man whose name
is as ebony ?
22. Dr John Gordon, an
eminent physician, cut off
prematurely when he was
just entering on the highest
honours and rewards
of his profession. He wrote
against Gall the phrenologist.

1. A tumult in Constable's
6. TheLamb was the collaborateur
of the articles
on the Gypsies, which appear
in the early numbers
of Blackwood. The principal
part, however, was
supplied by Sir Walter
7 Nevertheless will I put a sweet
song against him into thy Book.
8 But the man which was crafty answered
and said, Unprofitable generation!
ye have given unto me a horn
which is empty, and a horse which hath
no feet. If ye go not forth to fight with
mine adversary, deliver me up the meat
which I have given unto you, and the
penny which ye have of me, that I may
hire others who will fight with the man
whose name is as ebony.
9 And the beasts spake not at all,
neither answered they him one word.
10 But as they sat before him, the
beast which was like unto a bear took
courage; and he opened his mouth and
11 O man, thou hast fed me heretofore,
and whatever entereth within my
lips is thine. Why now should we fall
out about this thing?
12 Call unto thee thy counsellors,
the spirits, and the wise men, and the
magicians, if haply they may advise
thee touching the man whose name is
as ebony, and the creatures which are
within his gates. Whatsoever they say,
that shall be done.
13 Yet the man was not pleased,
neither was his countenance lightened:
nevertheless, he did even as the beast
14 So he called unto him a familiar
spirit, unto whom he had sold himself.

15 But the spirit was a wicked spirit
and a cruel: so he answered and said,
Lo, have not I put great might into the
horn which is in thy forehead? What
more said I ever that I would do unto
8. Constable is dissatisfied
with the two beasts.
12. The Bear's counsel.
14. Francis (afterwards
Lord) Jeffrey, editor of
the Edinburgh Review.
thee? Thy soul is in my hands: do as
thou listest in this thing.
16 But the man entreated him sorely,
yet he listened not: for he had great
fear of the vision of the man who was
clothed in dark garments, and who had
a veil upon his head;
17 (For he was of the seed of those
which have command over the devils).
18 And while the beasts were yet
looking, lo, he was not;
19 For even in the twinkling of an
eye he was present in the courts of the
palace, to tempt the souls of the chief
priests, and the scribes, and all those
which administer the law for the king,
and to deliver some malefactors which
he loved out of their hand.
20 ¶ Then the man called with a loud
voice on some other spirits, in whom he
put his trust.
21 And the first was a cunning spirit,
which hath his dwelling in the secret
places of the earth, and hath command
over the snow and the hail, and is as a
pestilence unto the poor man: for when
he is hungry he lifteth up the lid of his
meal-garnel, to take out meal, and lo!
it is full of strong ice.
22 And the second was a little blind
spirit, which hath a number upon his
forehead; and he walketh to and fro
continually, and is the chief of the
heathen which are the worshippers of
fire. He also is of the seed of the prophets,
and ministered in the temple
while he was yet young; but he went
out, and became one of the scoffers.
23 But when these spirits heard the
words of the man, and perceived his
trouble, they gave no ear unto his out16.
He refuses to have
anything to do with Constable's
17. Printers' devils.
19. Jeffrey at this time
was engaged in the defence
of the Kilmarnock Radicals,
and had fairly beaten
the public prosecutor in
the Court of Justiciary.
21. John Leslie, Professor
of Mathematics in the
University of Edinburgh.
The allusion is to his
freezing process, in which
oatmeal was used.
22. John Playfair, Professor
of Natural Philosophy
in the University of
Edinburgh. He had been
originally intended for the
23. These contributors
to the Edinburgh Review
refuse to give any support
to Constable's magazine.
cry, neither listened they to the voice
of his supplication.
24 And they laughed at the man
with a loud laughter, and said unto
him, Lo, shall we leave our digging
into the bowels of the earth, or our
ice, or our fire, with which we deceive
the nations, and come down to be as it
were servants unto thee and these two
beasts, which are lame beasts, and unprofitable?
Go to, man; seek thou
them which are of thy fellows.
25 And they vanished from his sight:
and he heard the voice of their laughter,
both he and his two beasts.
26 ¶ But when the spirits were gone
he said unto himself, I will arise and
go unto a magician which is of my
friends: of a surety he will devise some
remedy, and free me out of all my
27 So he arose and came unto that
great magician which hath his dwelling
in the old fastness hard by the river
Jordan, which is by the Border.
28 And the magician opened his
mouth, and said, Lo! my heart wisheth
thy good, and let the thing prosper
which is in thy hands to do it:
29 But thou seest that my hands
are full of working, and my labour is
great. For, lo, I have to feed all the
people of my land, and none knoweth
whence his food cometh; but each man
openeth his mouth, and my hand filleth
it with pleasant things.
30 Moreover, thine adversary also in
of my familiars.
31 The land is before thee: draw
thou up thine hosts for the battle or
the mount of Proclamation, and defy
26. Constable has recourse
to Sir Walter Scott,
28. Who gives him the
same answer which he had
given to Blackwood.
boldly thine enemy, which hath his
camp in the place of Princes; quit ye
as men, and let favour be shown unto
him which is most valiant.
32 Yet be thou silent: peradventure
will I help thee some little.
33 But the man which is crafty saw
that the magician loved him not. For
he knew him of old, and they had had
many dealings; and he perceived that
he would not assist him in the day of
his adversity.
34 So he turned about, and went out
of his fastness. And he shook the dust
from his feet, and said, Behold, I have
given this magician much money, yet
see now, he hath utterly deserted me.
Verily, my fine gold hath perished.
35 But when he had come back unto
his house, he found the two beasts
which were yet there; and behold the
beasts were gabbling together, and
making much noise. And when he
looked in, behold yet another beast;
and they were all gabbling together.
36 * * * * *
37 * * * * *
38 * * * * *
39 * * * * *
40 But if we go forth to the battle,
let him not go with us.
41 For behold the griffin hath heretofore
wounded him, and the scorpion
hath stung him sorely in the hips and
the thighs, and also in the face.
42 Moreover the eagle of heaven
also is his dread, and he is terrified for
the flapping of his huge wings, and for
his cry, which is like the voice of an
unknown tongue; also his talons, which
are sharper than any two-edged sword.
34. Constable is in despair.

40. He is full of misgivings
as to the efficiency of
his instruments.
43 And if it cometh to pass that he
see them in the battle, he will not
stand, but surely turn back and flee.
44 Therefore let us not take him
with us, lest he be for an ensample
unto the simple ones.
45 And while he was yet speaking,
Behold, he heard a knocking upon the
stair as if yet another beast had been
46 And lo it was even so.
47 And another beast came in, whose
disease was the murrain, who had eyes
yet saw not, and whose laughter was
like the laughter of them whose life
is hidden, and which know not what
they do.
48 And I heard a voice cry, Alas! alas!
even as if it were Heu! heu!
49 Now the man was sick at heart
when he perceived that he was there
with the four beasts, and he said,
Wretched man that I am, who shall
deliver me from the weight of beasts
which presseth sore upon me?
50 Then the four beasts waxed very
wroth, and they all began for to cry out
against the man which is crafty.
51 And he said, O race of beasts,
be ye still, and keep silence until I
consider what shall be done in this
52 And while he spake, it seemed as
if he trembled and were afraid of the
four beasts and of the staves wherewith
they skipped.
47. Another editor of Constable's
48. Whose Christian
name was Hugh.
1 But while he was yet trembling,
lo, there came in one which was his
familiar friend from his youth upwards,
who keepeth the Books of the scribes,
and is hired to expound things which
he knoweth not, and collecteth together
the remnants of the wise men.
2 And he opened his mouth and
said, Lo! I have come even this hour
from the camp of thine enemy, and I
have spoken with the man whose name
is as ebony.
3 And while I was speaking with
him kindly, lo, some of the creatures
which are within his gates took notice
of me, and they warned him. So he
put no faith nor trust in me.
4 But take thou good heed to thyself,
for they that are against thee are
mighty, and I have seen their numbers.
5 Now when the man heard this, he
waxed yet more fearful.
6 Then came there unto his chamber
another of his friends, one whose nose
is like the beak of a bird of prey, whose
mouth is foul, and his teeth reach from
the right ear even unto the left, and he
said, For why art thou so cast down?
be of good cheer, behold I have an old
breast-plate which I will put on and go
forth with thee unto the battle.
7 And further, he began to speak of
the north, and the great men of the
north, even the giants, and the painted
folk; but they stopped him, for of his
speaking there is no end.
8 Then came there into his chamber
1. Macvey Napier, Esq.,
Writer to the Signet,
Keeper of the Writers' Library;
afterwards editor
of the Edinburgh Review,
and Professor of Conveyancing
in the University
of Edinburgh.
6. A writer of some
northern ballads and antiquities,
now forgotten.
8. Mr Patrick Neill,
a lean man, which hath his dwelling
by the great pool to the north of the
New City;
9 Which had been of the familiars of
the man in plain apparel while they
were yet youths, before he had been
tempted of the man which is crafty.
10 Whose name had gone abroad
among the nations on many books,
even as his father's name had gone
11 One which delighteth in trees,
and fruits, and flowers ; the palm-tree
and the olive, the pomegranate and the
vine, the fig and the date, the tulip and
the lily.
12 Which had sojourned in far lands,
gathering herbs for the chief physician.

13 And he had a rotten melon on his
head, after the fashion of an helmet.
14 And the man which is crafty began
to take courage when his friends
were gathered unto him, and he took
his trumpet with boldness, and began
to blow for them over which he had
15 But of them which listened to
him, their limbs were weak, and their
swords blunt, and the strings of their
bows were moist.
16 Nevertheless, he made an assembly
of them over against the mount of
Proclamation: and these are the names
of his host, and the number of his
banners, whom he marshalled by the
mount of Proclamation the day that he
went forth to make war upon the man
whose name is as ebony.
17 Now behold the four beasts were
in the first band, yet they trembled,
who dwelt by Canonmills
Loch, long since drained.
10. He was a printer;
11. Also a great arboriand
horticulturist, and
a most worthy excellent
and desired not to be in the front of
the host.
18 And in the second band was one
which teacheth in the schools of the
young men, and he was clad in a gray
garment whereof one half his wife had
19 Also, Samuel, a vain young man,
and a simple, which sitteth in the
King's Courts, and is a tool without
edge in the hands of the oppressor.
20 Also, John, the brother of James,
which is a man of low stature, and
giveth out merry things, and is a lover
of fables from his youth up.
21 Also, James, the young man
which cometh out of the west country,
which feareth God, and hateth all
manner of usury; who babbleth of
many things, and nibbleth the shoelatchets
of the mighty; one which
darkeneth counsel with the multiplying
of vain words:
22 To whose sayings no man taketh
23 And in the third band was a
grave man, even George, the chief of
the synagogue, a principal man, yea,
the leader of the doctors, whose beard
reacheth down unto his girdle;
24 And one David, which dwelleth
at the corner as thou goest up to the
place of the old prison-house, which
talketh touching all manner of pictures
and graven images; and he came with
a feather on his head.
25 And Andrew the chief physician,
and Andrew his son, who is a smooth
man, and one which handleth all wind
instruments, and boweth himself down
continually before the horn which is in
18. Mr James Gray, one
of the masters of the High
School — See Noctes Ambrosianæ,
vol. i. p. 238,
note 1.
19. An advocate, at this
time one of the Crown
Counsel; a cousin of Professor
20. John Ballantyne,
Sir Walter Scott's familiar
— See Noctes Ambrosianæ,
vol. iii. p. 95, note.
21. The author of a
pamphlet in defence of
usury, and likewise another
against Malthus.
23. The Rev. Dr George
Baird, Principal of University
of Edinburgh.
24. Mr David Bridges —
See Noctes Ambrosianæ,
vol. i. p. 28.
25. Two professors of
medicine in the University
of Edinburgh.
the forehead of the man which is crafty,
and worshippeth it.
26 With James the baker of sweet
breads, which weareth a green mantle,
which inhabiteth the dwelling of the
nobles, and delighteth in the tongue of
the strange man.
27 And Peter who raileth at his
28 And in the fourth band I saw the
face of Samuel, which is a mason, who
is clothed in gorgeous apparel, and his
face was as the face of the moon shining
in the north-west.
29 The number of his bands was
four; and in the first band there were
the four beasts,
30 And in the second band there
were nine men of war, and in the third
six, and in the fourth ten.
31 The number of the bands was
four: and the number of them which
were in the bands was twenty and
nine: and the man which was crafty
commanded them.
32 And the screaming bird sat upon
his shoulder.
33 And there followed him many
women which know not their right
hand from their left, also some cattle.
34 And John the brother of Francis,
and the man which offered Consolation
to the man which is crafty.
35 Also seven young men, whereof
no man could tell by what name they
were called.
36 But when I saw them all gathered
together, I said unto myself, Of a
truth the man which is crafty hath
many in his host, yet think I that
scarcely will these be found sufficient
26. Jas. Baxter, Esq. —
See Noctes Ambrosianæ.
27. A painter, and pupil
of a celebrated master,
whose works he was in the
habit of decrying.
28. Samuel Anderson,
Esq., a zealous free-mason
— See Noctes ambrosianæ,
vol. iv. p. 1.
34. John, the brother of
Francis Jeffrey. The author
of Consolation was a
Mr Gillespie.
35. The staff of Constable's
magazine according
to Blackwood.
against them which are in the gates of
the man who is clothed in plain apparel.

37 And I thought of the vision of
the man which was clothed in dark
garments, and of the leopard, and the
lynx, and the scorpion, and the eagle,
and the great boar of Lebanon, and the
38 The stork, and the hyæna, and
the beagle, and all the mighty creatures
which are within the gates of the man
in plain apparel.
39 Verily, the man which is crafty
shall be defeated, and there shall not
escape one to tell of his overthrow.
40 And while I was yet speaking,
the hosts drew near, and the city was
moved; and my spirit failed within me,
and I was sore afraid, and I turned to
escape away.
41 And he that was like unto the
messenger of a king, said unto me,
Cry. And I said, What shall I cry?
for the day of vengeance is come upon
all those that ruled the nations with a
rod of iron.
42 And I fled into an inner chamber
to hide myself, and I heard a great
tumult, but I wist not what it was.
40. The Tories under
Blackwood and the Whigs
under Constable go together
by the ears.
A'l — all
Abee — alone
Abeigh — aloof
Aboon — above
Ackit — acted
Acks — acts
Acquent — acquainted
Ae — one
Afterhend — afterwards
Ahint — behind
Aiblins — perhaps
Aik — oak
Airn — iron
Airt — direction, point of the compass
Aits — oats
Alane — alone
Amna — am not
Ance — once
Aneath — beneath
Anent — concerning, about
Aneuch — enough
Ankil — ankle
Argling — wrangling
Ashet — an oblong dish
Asks — lizards
Ass-hole — ash-pit, or dust-hole
A'thegither — altogether
Athort — athwart
Atower — away from
Atween — between
Auchteen — eighteen
Aughts — owns
Auld — old
Auld-woman — a revolving iron chimney-top

Aumry — cupboard in a corner
Ava — at all
Awee — a little while
Awin — owing
Awmous — alms
Ax — ask
Ayont — beyond
Back-o'-beyont (back-of-beyond) —
a Scotch slang phrase, signifying
any place indefinitely remote
Backend — close of the year
Baggy-mennon — a minnow, thick in
the belly
Baikie — a bucket for ashes
Baird — beard
Bairn — child
Bairnie —
Bairnly — childish
Baith — both
Bakiefu's — bucketfuls
Ballant — ballad
Bane — bone
Banieness — largeness and strength
of bone
Bap — a small flat loaf with pointed
Bardy — positive
Barkened — hardened
Bashed — somewhat flattened with
heavy strokes or blows
Bat — bit
Bate — beat
Bauchle — an old shoe crushed
down into a sort of slipper
Bauk — one of a set of planks or
spars across the joists in rude old
Scotch cottages
Bauld — bold
Bawdrons — a cat
Bawm — balm
Bawn — band
Bawns — banns
Beek — to grow warm and ruddy before
the fire; (beek in the hearth
Beetin — fanning and feeding a fire
with fuel
Beggonets — bayonets
Begood — began
Begude —
Belyve — soon
Ben — into the room
Beuk — book
Bick — bitch
Bield — shelter
Big — to build
Bike — swarm
Bikes — nests of bees
Biled — boiled
Bill — bull
Binna — be not
Birk (tree) — birch
Birks — birches
Birky — beggar-my-neighbour, a
game at cards
Birr — force
Birses — bristles; metaphorically
used in Scotland for angry pride
Birzed — bruised
Blab — a big drop
Black-a-viced — of dark complexion
Blash, (a) — a drench
Blashin — driven by the wind and
Blate — bashful
Blaw — blow
Blawmange — blanc-mange
Bleimanch —
Blethers — rapid nonsensical talk
Blin' — blind
Blouterin — gabbling noisily and
Blouts — large deep blots or stains
scarcely dried
Blude — blood
Bocht — bought
Bock — vomit
Bodle — a small Scottish coin, not
now used
Bogle — a goblin
Bole — the cup or bowl of a pipe
Bonny — handsome, beautiful
Bonny fide — bona fide
Bonspeil — a match at curling
Boo — bow
Bools — marbles
Boord — board
Boud — were bound
Bouet — a hand-lanthorn
Bouk — bulk
Bourtree — elder-tree
Bowster — bolster
Boyne — a washing-tub
Brace-piece — mantel-piece
Brackens — fern
Brakens —
Braes — slopes somewhat steep
Braid — broad
Brak — broke
Branglin — a sort of superlative of
Brassle — panting haste up a bill
Brastlin — hasting up a hill toilsomely,
and with heavy panting
Braw — fine
Breckans — see Brackens
Breeks — trousers
Breid — bread
Breist — breast
Brent — rising broad, smooth, and
Brewst — a brewing; used in the text
as the making of a jug or bowl of
Bricht — bright
Brig — bridge
Brigg —
Brock — badger
Brodd — board
Broo — brow
Broo'd — brewed
Broon — brown
Broose — a race at a country wedding

Browst — see Brewst
Brughs — burghs
Bubbly-jock — turkey-cock
Buckies — a kind of sea-shell
Bught — sheepfold
Buird — a board; used in the text as
the low table on which a tailor
Buirdly — tall, large, and stout
Buirds — boards
Bum — buzz
Bumbee — the humble-bee
Bummer — blue-bottle fly
Bun' — bound
Bund —
Bunker — window-seat
Burd — board
Burnie — rivulet
Busked — dressed showily
But — into an outer or inferior apartment

By-gaun (in the by-gaun) — in going
Byre — cowhouse
Byuckie — small book
Ca' — call
Caddie — street porter
Cadie —
Caff — chaff
Callant — young lad
Caller — fresh
Came — comb
Camstrary — unmanageable
Canny (no canny). — Canny means
gentle, but "no canny" is a phrase
in Scotland for one with a spice of
the power of a wizard or devil in
Cantrip — magical spell
Canty — lively
Carvey — the smallest kind of sweetmeats,
generally put on bread-and-butter
for children
Caucht — caught
Caudie — see Cadie
Cauff — chaff
Cauked — tipped with rough points,
as horse-shoes are prepared for
slippery roads in frost
Cauldit — troubled with a cold
Cauldrife — easily affected by cold; in
the text it is used as selfishly cold
Cauler — fresh
Caulker — a glass of pure spirits, a
Causey — causeway
Caves — tosses
Cavie — a hencoop
Cavin — tossing
Cawm — calm
Cawnle — candle
Chack — a squeeze with the teeth
Chaclat — chocolate
Chafts — jaws
Chap — knock
Chapped — struck, as a clock strikes
Chapping — knocking
Chap o' the knock — striking of the
Chaumer — chamber
Cheep — to complain in a small peevish
Cheyre — chair
Chiel — a fellow, a person
Chirt — to press hard with occasional
jerks, as in the act of turning a key
in a stiff lock
Chitterin — shivering, with the teeth
chattering at the same time
Chop — shop
Chovies — anchovies
Chowin — chewing
Chowks — jaws
Chow't — chew it
Chrissen'd — christened, baptised
Chuckies — hens
Chucky-stane — a small smooth round
stone, a pebble
Chumley — chimney
Clachan — a small village
Clackins — broods of young birds
Claes — clothes
Clapped (clapped een) — set eyes
Clarts — mud
Clash — a noisy collision
Claught — to clutch
Clautin — groping
Cleckin — brood
Cleedin — clothing
Cleek — a hold of anything, caught
with a hooked instrument
Cleemat — climate
Cleugh — a very narrow glen
Clink — cash
Clishmaclaver — idle talk
Clock — beetle
Clockin — bent on hatching
Cloits — falls heavily
Clootie — the devil
Cloots — feet
Closses — narrow lanes in towns
Clour — a lump raised by a blow
Clout — a bit of linen or other cloth
Clud — cloud
Cockettin — coquetting
Cockit — cocked
Cock-laird — yeoman
Cocko-nit — cocoa-nut
Codlin — a small cod
Coft — bought
Coggly — shaky from not standing
Collie — shepherd's dog
Collyshangie — squabble
Conçate — conceit
Conceit — ingenious device
Coo — cow
Cooart — coward
Coof — a stupid silly fellow
Cookies — soft round cakes of fancy
bread for tea
Coom — to blacken with soot
Coorse — coarse
Coots — ankles
Copiawtor — plagiarist
Corbies — carrion-crows
Corn-stooks — shocks of corn
Cosh — neat
Cosy — snug
Cotch — coach
Cottie — srnall cottage
Coup — upset
Coupin-stane — cope-stone
Couthie — frank and kind
Covin — cutting
Cozy — snug
Crabbit — crabbed
Crack — a quiet conversation between
Craig — neck
Cranreuch — hoar-frost
Crap-sick — sick at the stomach
Crappit — cropped, made to bear crops
Craw — a crow of triumph
Creddle — cradle
Creel — a fish-basket
Creenklin — chuckling, with a small
tinkling tone of triumph in it
Creepie — a small low stool
Creesh — grease
Cretur — creature
Crinkly — hoarsely crepitating
Croodin doos — cooing doves
Croon — crown
Crouse — brisk and confident
Crowdy — a gruel of oatmeal and cold
Cruckit — crooked
Cruds — curds, thickened milk
Crunkle — a wrinkled roughness
Crummle — crumble
Cuddie — donkey, an ass
Cuddie-heels — iron boot or shoe heels
Cuff (cuff o' the neck) — nape of the
Cummers — female gossips. In the
text the word simply means elderly
Cuntra — country
Curtshy — curtsy
Custock — staik of colewort or cabbage

Cute — ankle
Cutty — a short pipe
Cutty — a frolicsome little lass
Cutty-mun — a slang phrase for a poor
fellow's dance in air when he is
Cyuck — cook
Dab — peck, like a bird
Dadds — thumps
Dae — do
Daffin — frolicking
Daft — crazy
Daidlin — trifling
Daigh — dough
Dambrod — draught-board
Dang — beat
Daud — lump
Daudin — thumping
Daunderin — sauntering
Dauner — saunter
Daur — dare
Dawin — the breaking of the dawn
Day-lily — asphodel
Day's-darg — day's labour
Dazed — bewildered from intoxication
or derangement
Dead-thraws — agonies of death
Deavin — deafening
Dee — die
Deealec — dialect
Deid — dead
Delvin — digging
Dew-blobs — big drops of dew
Dew-flaughts — vapours of dew
Dight — wipe
Din — dun
Dinna — do not
Dirl — a tremulous shock
Disna — does not
Div — do
Dixies — a hearty scolding by way of
Dizzen — dozen
Docken — dock
Doit — a small copper coin
Doited — stupid
Dolp — bottom or breech
Donsy — a stupid lubberly fellow
Doo — pigeon
Dook — bathe
Door-cheek — side of the door
Douce — grave and quiet
Douk — bathe
Doundraucht — down-drag
Doup — bottom or breech
Dour — slow and stiff
Douss — a blow, a stroke
Dowy — doleful
Dracht — draught
Drappie — little drop
Draucht — draught
Dree — to suffer
Dreein — suffering
Dreigh — tedious
Drog — drug
Drogg —
Droich — dwarf
Drookin — drenching
Drookit — drenched
Droosy — drowsy
Drucken — drunken
Drumly — turbid, muddy
Drummock — meal mixed with cold
Dub — puddle
Dung — knocked
Dunge — see Dunsh
Dumbie — a dumb person
Dunsh — a knock, a jog or quick
shove with the elbow
Dunshin — bumping
Durstna — durst not
Dwam — swoon
Dwawm —
Dwam o' drink — a drunken stupor
Dwinin — pining
Dyuck — duck
Earock —a chicken
Eerie—inspiring or inspired with
nameless fear in a solitary place
Eerisome—fear-inspiring in a lonely
Eerocks—see Earock
Eident — diligent
Eiry—full of wonder and fear
Ettle—intend and aim at
Evendown—undisguised and clear
Failosoph ers—philosop hers
Far-keekers—far lookers
Farrer — farther
Fash — trouble
Fashous — troublesome
Fates — feats
Fause-face — mask
Faut — fault
Fawsettoes — falsettoes
Faynomenon — phenomenon
Fearsome — terrible
Fechtin — fighting
Feck — number or quantity. "The
grand feck," means the greater
proportion, or most
Feckless — feeble
Feenal — final
Feesants — pheasants
Fend — shift
Fennin — faring
Fent — faint
Ferly (to) — to look amazed and half
Fernytickled — freckled
Feturs — features
Fictious — fictitious
Fidginfain — restless from excess of
eagerness and delight
Fin's — feels
Finzeans — smoked haddocks
Firm — form, bench
Fisslin — rustling almost inaudibly
Fit — foot
Fit-ba — football
Fivver — fever
Fizz — make an effervescing sound
Fizzionamy — physiognomy
Flaff — instant
Flaffs — strong windy puffs
Flaffered — blown about with strong
puffs of wind
Flaffin — fluttering in the air
Flaucht — a momentary outburst of
flame and smoke
Fleech — beseech with fair words
Flees — flies
Flesher — butcher
Flett — flat (in music)
Flichter — flutter
Flinders — shivers
Fliped — turned back or up, or inside
Flipes — comes peeling off in shreds
Floory — flowery
Fluff — a quick short flutter
Flyte — rail
Fiyped — see Fliped
Focht — fought
Foggies — garrison soldiers; old fellows
past their best, or worn out
Fool — fowl
Forbye — besides
Forfeuchen — fatigued
Forgather wi' — fall in with
Forrit — forward
Foulzie—see Fuilzie
Foumart — polecat
Fowre — four
Fowre-hours — tea, taken by Scotch
rustics about four o'clock in the
Fozie — soft as a frost-bitten turnip
Fran — from
Fraucht — freight
Freen — friend
Frush — brittle
Frutes — fruits
Fu' — tipsy
Fud — breech; seldom used except in
reference to a hare or rabbit
Fugy — flee off in a cowardly manner
Fuilzie — filth; filth of streets and
Fuirds — fords
Fules — fools, fowls
Fulzie — see Fuilzie
Fulzie-man — a night-man
Fummlin — fumbling
Funk — a kick
Furm — form
Fushionless — without sap
Fut — foot
Gab — mouth
Gaberlunzies — mendicants
Gad — the gadfly
Gaily — rather
Gain' — against
Gallemaufry — idle hubbub
Gang — go
Gar — make
Garse — grass
Gash — solemnly and almost supernaturally
Gate — manner
Gaunt — yawn
Gaucy — portly
Gawmut — gamut
Gawpus — fool
Gear — goods, riches
Geeing — giving
Gegg — to impose upon one's credulity
with some piece of humbug
Geggery — humbug to impose upon
the credulous
Gerse — grass
Gey —
Geyan — rather
Geyly —
Ggeg — a piece of humbug to impose
upon the credulous
Ggem — game
Ghaistly — ghostly
Gie — give
Gied — given
Gif — if
Gillies — serving-lads in the train of
a Highland chieftain
Gimmer — a two-year-old ewe
Gin — if
Ginnlin — catching trouts with the
Girn — grin
Girnel — a large meal-chest
Girrzies — coarse servant-girls
Gizzy — a sort of compound of giddy
and dizzy
Glaff — momentary wide flutter and
Glaur — mud
Gled — the glead or kite
Glee'd — squinting
Gleg — quick and sharp
Gleg-eed — sharp-eyed
Glint — a quick gleam
Gloamin — twilight of evening
Glower — stare with wide wondering
Glummier — gloomier
Glutter — a gurgling pressure of words
and saliva when the mouth cannot
utter fast enough
Gollaring — uttering with loud confused
Goo — provocative to food
Gouk — fool
Gowan — daisy
Gowden — golden
Gowk — fool
Gowmeril — fool
Gowpen, — what the two hands put
together can hold
Grain — to groan
Grains — branches
Graned — groaned
Grape — a dung-fork
Grat — wept
Gratins — gratings
Grawds — grades
Gree — prize
Greening — longing for a thing, as a
pregnant woman is said to long
Greet — weep
Grew — greyhound
Grewin — coursing the hare, &c.
Grieves — farm stewards or overseers
Groof — belly
Grosert — gooseberry
Grozet —
Grousy — inclined to shiver with cold
Gruin — disposed to shiver
Gruesome — causing shuddering with
Grufe — belly
Gruff —
Grumph — to grunt like a sow
Grumphie — pig
Grun' — ground
Grunstane — grindstone
Grup — gripe, hold
Guddlin — catching trouts with the
Gude — good
Guffaw — a broad laugh
Guller — a gurgling sound in the
throat when it is compressed or
half-choked with water
Gullerals — angry gurgling noises
from the mouth
Gull-grupper — one catching gulls
Gully — large pocket-knife
Gurlin — rolling roughly, huddled together

Gushets — fancy pieces worked with
wide open stitches in the ankles
of stockings
Gutsy — gluttonous
Guttlin — guzzling, eating gluttonously

Ha' — hall
Hadden — holding
Haddies — haddocks
Haffets — the temples
Haffits —
Hafflins — half
Hags — breaks in mosey ground, remnants
of breastworks of peat left
among the dug pits
Hagglin — cutting coarsely
Hail, (a) — abundance
Haill — whole
Hailsome — wholesome
Hain — husband
Hainches — haunches
Hairst — harvest
Hairt — heart
Hale — whole
Haliest — holiest
Hantle — number, handful
Hap — hop
Hap-step-and-loup — hop-step-and--
Haps — wraps
Harl — drag
Hargarbargling — wrangling, bandying
words backward and forward.
Harn-pan — brain-pan, skull
Harns — brains
Hash — a noisy blockhead
Haud — hold
Hauld —
Haun — hand
Haur — a thick cold fog
Havers — jargon
Haverer — proser
Haveril — a chattering half-witted
Hawn — hand
Hawnle — handle
Hawrem — harem
Hawse — throat
Heads and thraws — heads and feet
lying together at both ends of a
Heech — high
Hee-fleers — high-flyers
Heelan — Highland
Heich — high
Heid — head
Heidlands — headlands
Heigh — high
Herried — robbed or rifled, generally
in reference to birds' nests
Herrier — a robber of birds' nests
Het — hot
Hicht — height
Hing't — hang it
Hinny — honey
Hirple — to walk very lamely
Hirsel — flock
Hizzle — hussy, a young woman, married
or unmarried, generally applied
to one of a free open carriage
Hoast — to cough
Hogg — a year-old sheep
Hoggit — hogshead
Hoise — raise
Hoodie-craws — hooded crows
Hoolet — owlet
Hooly — leisurely
Horrals — small wheels on which
tables or chairs move
Horrel'd — wheeled, having wheels
Hotch — to heave up and down
Hotchin — heaving up and down
Hottle — hotel
Houghs — the hollows of the legs behind,
between the calves and the
Houghmagandy — fornication
Houkit — dug
Houlats, owls
Houp — hope
Howdie — midwife
Howe — hollow
Howes — holes
Howl — haunt
Howk — to dig
Howp — hope
How-towdies — barn-door fowls
Huggers — stockings without feet
Hunder — hundred
Hurcheon — urchin, hedgehog
Hurdies — hips
Hurl (a) — a ride in any vehicle, but
with usual reference to a cart
Huts, tuts !—an exclamation of contemptuous
doubt or unbelief
Hyuckit — hooked
Idiwit — idiot
Iles — oils
Iley — oily
Ilk — each, every
Ilka —
Ill-faured — ill-favoured
Ingan — onion
Ingine — genius, ingenuity
Ingle — fireside, hearth
Interteenin — entertaining
Intil — into
Isna — is not
Jalouse — suspect
Jawp — splash
Jee (a) — a turn
Jeely — Jelly
Jeest — jest
Jeist —
Jigot — gigot
Jimp-waisted — slender-waisted
Jinkin — turning suddenly when pursued

Jirt — -to send out with quick short
Jockteleg — a folding-knife
Kame — comb
Keckle — cackle
Kecklin — cackling
Keek — peep
Keekit — peeped
Keelivine pen — chalk pencil
Kembe — comb
Ken — know
Kennin't — knowing it
Kenna — do not know
Kenspeckle — noticeable
Kent — known
Ker-hauned — left-handed
Kerse — carse, alluvial lands lying
along a river
Kibbock — a cheese
Kimmers — gossips
Kipper — fish dried in the sun,usually
applied to salmon
Jougs — an iron collar fastened to the
wall of a church, and put round
a culprit's neck, in the old ecclesiastical
discipline of Scotland
Jookery-pawkery — Juggling trickery

Joukery-pawkery —
Jookin — coming suddenly forth in a
sly and somewhat stooping manner

Jouked — dodged
Joukit — dodged, to avoid a thrust or
Jugging — jogging
Kirns — feasts of harvest home, with
a dance
Kitchen — relish
Kittle — difficult
Kittly — easily tickled, sensitive
Kittled — literally littered, as of kittens

Kitty-wren — wren
Kiver — cover
Kivey — covey
Knappin — breaking with quick short
Knowe — knoll
Kye — cows
Kyeanne — cayenne
Kyloe — an ox, generally used in reference
to the Highland breed
Kythes — shows itself
Kyuck — cook
Lab — strike
Laigh — low
Lair — learning
Laith — loth
Laithsome, loathsome
Lameter — cripple
Lane — lone, alone
Lanes (twa) — two selves
Lang — long
Lang-nebbed — long-nosed; generally
applied to words long and learned
(verba sesquipedalia) with contempt
for him that uses them
Lap — leaped
Lauchin — laughing
Launin — landing
Lave — remainder
Laverock — lark
Law (as applied to a height) — an isolated
hill, generally more or less
conical in form
Leddies — ladies
Leear — liar
Leecures — liqueurs
Leeds — leads
Lee-lang — live-long
Leemits — limits
Leeves — lives
Len — loan
Leuch — laughed
Licht — light
Licks — chastisement
Lift — firmament
Lilt — to sing merrily
Limmers — worth less characters, usually
applied to women
Links — downs
Linns — small cascades, together with
the rocks over which they fall
Lintie — linnet
Lintwhite — linnet
Lister — a pronged spear for striking
Lith — joint
Loan — a green open place near a
farm or village, where the cows
are often milked
Lo'esome — lovable
Loo — to love
Loof — palm of the hand
Loot — stoop
Losh — a Scotch exclamation of wonder

Lounderin — striking heavily in a fight
Loup — leap
Lout — lower the head, stoop
Low — flame
Lowin — flaming
Lown — calm
Lowse — loose
Lozen — window pane
Luck — look
Luk —
Lug — ear
Lum — chimney
Lyart — grey, hoary
Mailin — a small property
Make — match, or mate
Mankey — a kind of coarse cloth for
female wear
Manteens — maintains
Mantel — chimney-piece
Marrow — match, equal
Mart — an ox killed at Martinmas and
salted for winter provision
Mauks — maggots
Maukin — hare
Maun — must
Mawt — malt
Measter — master
Meer — mare
Meerage — mirage
Meikle — much
Meltith — a meal of meat
Mennon — minnow
Mense — to grace, to enable to make
a good show
Mere — mare
Messan — a mongrel cur
Mettaseekozies — metempsychosis
Michtna — might not
Midden — dunghill
Mint (to) — to hint or aim at
Mirk — dark
Mizzles — measles
Monyplies — part of the intestines
with many convolutions
Mool — mule
Moold — mould
Mootin — moulting
Mooldy — mouldy
Mortcloth — the black cloth thrown
over the coffin at a funeral
Mou — mouth
Moul — mould, earth, soil
Mouls — small crumbling clods
Moutin — moulting
Moudiwarp, Moudiewart — mole
Muck the byre — clean out the cow--
Muckle — much
Mudged — made the slightest movement

Munted — mounted
Mummle — mumble
Murnins — mourning-dress
Mutch — a woman's cap
Mutchkin — a Scotch liquid measure
nearly equivalent to the imperial
Nae — no
Naig — nag
Nain — own
Nate — neat
Nawsal — nasal
Neb — nose
Neep — turnip
Neerdoweel — one who never does
well, incorrigibly foolish or wicked
Neist — next
Neuk — nook
New harled — new plastered
Nicher — neigh
Niddlety-noddlety — nodding the
head pleasantly
Nieve — fist
Nocht — nought, nothing
Noo — now
Noos and thans — now and then
Noony — luncheon
Notts — notes
Nowte — neat cattle
Nowtical — nautical
Numm — benumbed
Nummers — numbers
Nuzzlin — Nuzzling, pressing with
the nose, as a child against its
mother's breast
Nyaffing — small yelping
Nyuck — nook
Obs — observation
Ocht — ought
Ocht — aught, anything
Odd — ode
Oe — grandson
Ony ae — any one
Ool — owl
Out-by — without, in the open air
Outower — out over
Ower — over
Ower-by — over the way
Owertap — overtop
Owther — author
Oxter — arm-pit
Pabble — to boil, to make the sound
and motion of boiling
Paddocks — frogs
Paiddlin — wading saunteringly and
for amusement in the water
Paiks — a drubbing
Paircin — piercing
Pairodowgs — paradox
Paitrick — partridge
Parritch — oatmeal porridge
Parshel — parcel
Partens — crabs
Pastigeos — pasticcios
Pat — put
Patrick — partridge
Patron — pattern
Pawkie — shrewd
Paum — palm
Pease-weep — lapwing
Pech — pant
Pechs — pigmies
Peel — pill
Peepin — peeping
Peerie — peg-top
Peerie-weerie — insignificant
Peeryette — pirouette
Peeryin — purling
Pellock — a porpoise
Pensie — pensive
Penter — painter
Pernicketty — precise in trifles, finical
Pickle — small quantity
Pingle — difficulty, trouble
Pint — point
Pirn — reel for a fishing-line
Pirrat — pirate
Pit — to put
Pitten — put
Pleuch — plough
Plookin — plucking
Ploom — plumb, £100,000
Ploomdamass — prune
Plouter — to work or play idly and
leisurely in water or any other
soft matter
Plowp — the sound of anything small
but heavy dropping into water or
other soft matter
Ploy — a social meeting for amusement

Pluff — a small puff as of ignited
Plum — a perpendicular fall
Pockey-ort — marked with the smallpox

Poleish — police
Pomes — poems
Pooked — plucked
Poor — power
Poorfu' — powerful
Poortith — poverty
Poossie — pussy; applied to a hare
Pootry — poultry
Pose — hoard of money
Potty — putty
Poupit — pulpit
Pouther — powder
Poutry — poultry
Pow — poll or head
Powheads — tadpoles
Powldowdies — oysters
Powper — pauper
Poy — pie
Pree — try, taste
Pree'd — tried, tasted
Preein — tasting
Preen — pin
Preevat — private
Prent — print
Prick-ma-denty — finical, ridiculously
Priggin — entreating, haggling with a
view to cheapen
Prin — pin
Propine — gift; properly gift in promise
or reserve
Pruve — prove
Pu' — pull
Puckit — meagre and mean-looking; better spelt "pookit.''
Puir — poor
Pushion — poison
Puddock-stools — fungi
Pyet — magpie

Quaich — a drinking-cup with two
handles, generally of wood
Quat — did quit
Quate — quiet
Quey (a) — a young cow
Quullies — small quills
Raggoo — ragout
Rampawgeous — outrageously violent
Rampauging — raging and storming
Ram-stam — headlong, onward without
Randie — scolding woman
Rang — reigned
Rape — rope
Rashes — rushes
Rasps — raspberries
Rattan — rat
Rax — reach
Ream — cream
Reçate — receipt, recipe
Red-kuted — red-ankled
Red-wud mad — raging mad
Reek — smoke
Reest — to be restive
Reesty — restive
Reseedin — residing
Rickle — a loose heap
Rickley — loosely built up and easily
knocked down
Riff-raffery — of the rabble and disreputable

Rig — ridge of land
Riggin — roof and ridge
Ripe — poke
Ripin — poking
Rippet — disturbance
Riving — tearing
Rizzers — haddocks dried
in the sun.
Rizzer'd haddies —
Roan — spout
Rockins — evening neighbourly meetings
for a general spinning with
the distaff
Rooket, rooked — "cleaned out " at
Roop — rump
Roosed — extolled
Roots — routs
Rose-kamed — rose-combed
Rotten — rat
Rouch — rough
Roun' — round
Roup — rump
Rouse — extol
Routin — roaring
Rows — rolls
Rowled — rolled
Rowted — roared
Rubber — robber
Rubbit — robbed
Rubiawtors — devouring monsters
Rucks — ricks
Ruff — applause by beating with the
Rug — tear
Rung — a cudgel
Runkled — crumpled
Rype — see Ripe
Sabbin — sobbing
Saft — soft
Saip — soap
Sair — serve
Sair — sore
Sants — saints
Sark — shirt
Sass — sauce
Sassenach — a Lowlander or Englishman

Saugh wand — willow wand
Saun — sand
Saunt — saint
Saut — salt
Sawmont — salmon
Scald — scold
Scale — spill
Scart — scratch
Sceeance — science
Schule — school
Sclate — slate
Sclutter — a bubbling outburst or
rush of liquid
Scones — soft cakes of bread, generally
Scoonrel — scoundrel
Scoor — scour
Scraugh — a screech or shriek
Screed — tear, a revel
Scribes — crab or wild apples
Scroof — nape
Scrow — crew
Scunner — to shudder with loathing

Scutter — a thin scattered discharge
Seck — sect
Seelent — silent
Seenonims — synonyms
Seepit — soaked
Seggs — sedges
Seik — sick
Sel — self
Selt — sold
Sereawtim — seriatim
Sey — assay, prove
Shachlin — shuffling
Shank's naigie — on foot
Shankers — ale-glasses with long
Shaw — show
Shauchly — ill made about the limbs
and feet, and walking with a sort
of shuffle
Shave — slice
Shawps — husks
Shells — cells
Shielin — a shepherd's slender, temporary
Shilfa — chaffinch
Shinna — shall not
Shissors — scissors
Shoggly — shaky
Shooblimest — sublimest
Shool — shovel, spade
Shoon — shoes
Shoor — shower
Shouther — shoulder
Shranky — slender, lean, and withered

Shucken — shaken
Shue — sew
Shusey — Susan
Sib — akin
Siccan — such kind of
Sich — a sigh
Siclike — such as, similar
Sile — soil
Siller — silver, money
Sinnies — sinews
Sin'syne — ago
Siver — a covered drain
Skaith — harm
Skarted — scratched
Skeel — skill
Skeely — skilful
Skein-dhu — a Highland dagger
Skelp — a slap, a sharp blow (properly
with the palm of the hand)
Skently — scantily, barely
Skep — hive
Skeugh — a slight shelter; more correctly
spelt Scug
Skirl — a shrill cry
Skirrin — flying
Skites — skates
Skraich — a screech, a scream
Skreich —
Skreigh (skreigh-o'-day) — break of
Skreeds — long pieces
Skrow — number, swarm
Skuddy — naked
Skunner — shudder with disgust
Slaters — small insects of the beetle
Sleuth-hound — blood-hound
Slokener — allayer of thirst
Sluddery — slippery
Sma — small
Smeddum — spirit
Smeeks — stifles with smoke
Smiddy — smithy
Smoored — smothered
Snaffin — the shortest, smallest petulant
bark of the smallest dog
Sneevlin — speaking with a strong
nasal twang through the mucus of
the nose
Snokin — smelling like a dog
Snood — head-band worn by maidens
Snooking, sucking down by the
Snooled — cowed
Snoot — snout
Snooved — went smoothly and constantly

Snoving — going smoothly and constantly

Soddy — soda water
Sonsy — well-conditioned
Soo — sow
Soocker — sucker
Sooens — a sort of flummery made of
the dust of oatmeal
Sook — suck
Soom — swim
Soop — sup
Sooper — supper
Sooterkin — abortion
Sough — rumour
Soum — swim, sum
Soup — sup
Sourocks — sorrol
Soweus — see Sooens
Spale-box — a small box made of chips
of wood, mainly for holding pills
or salves
Spang — leap
Sparables — small iron nails in soles
and heels of shoes, &c.
Spat — spot
Spate — stream in flood
Spawl — shoulder
Speaned — weaned
Speat — stream in flood
Speel — climb
Speer — ask
Speerally — spirally
Speldrins — haddocks salted and
Spinnle-shankit — thin-limbed
Spleet — split
Spootin — spouting
Spring-brod — spring-board
Spunk — a wooden match tipped with
Spanked out — came to light
Spunkie — spirited
Squozen — squeezed
Stab — stake
Stacherin — staggering
Staigs — stags
Stake — steak
Stamack — stomach
Stane — stone
Stap — stop
Starnies — stars
Staun — stand
Stawed — satiated
Steaks — stakes
Steek — shut
Steepin — stipend
Stell — a still, a shelter for sheep or
Sternies — stars
Stey — steep
Sticket minister — one who gives up
the clerical profession in Scotland
from not being able to get ordination
and a living
Stirks — young cattle in the first year
of their age
Stock — fore part of a bed
Stoiter — stagger
Stooks — shocks of corn
Stool — the bottom of any crop:
generally thick and close crops
are said to "stool out" when they
thicken at bottom
Stooned — pained
Stoop and roop — completely
Stoopit — stupid
Stot — to rebound
Stotted — rebounded
Stoun, a thrilling beat, a quick painful
Stouning — aching
Stour — flying dust, or dust in motion
Stown — stolen
Stown ways — stealthily
Stracht — straight
Strack — struck
Strae — straw
Stramash — uproar, tumult
Strang — strong
Strauchened — straightened
Stravaig — idle aimless wandering
Strecht — straight
Streck — strike
Streekin — stretching
Streekit — stretched
Stroup — spout
Strussle — fight
Stullion — stallion
Sturt — trouble
Sud — should
Sugh (keep a calm sugh) — be quiet.
Sugh itself means the solemn murmur
of wind in the trees or through
a narrow passage
Suit — suite
Sumph — a blockhead
Sune — soon
Swallin — swelling
Swap — exchange
Swarf — a swoon
Swattle — fill gluttonously or drunkenly

Sweein — swinging
Sweered — unwilling
Sweeties — small sweetmeats
Swither — hesitate
Swoopit — swept
Swurl — whirl
Swatches — switches
Sybo — a young onion with its green
Symar — cymar, scarf
Syne (sin'syne) — ago
Tae — one of two
Taes — toes
Taeds — toads
Taids —
Taigle — linger
Tain (the) — the one
Tangle — a kind of seaweed
Tantrums — a fit of sulky whim,
whimsical sullens
Tap — top
Tapsalteerie — heels-over-head
Tapsetowry — in excited and raised
Taukin — talking
Tauted — matted
Tautied —
Tawpy — thoughtless and coarse
Tawry — tarry
Tawse — the implements of flagellation
in Scottish schools
Tawty — matted
Teegar — tiger
Teep — type
Tent — care
Teuch — tough
Teugh —
Thairm — fiddle-string
Thees — thighs
Theekin — thatching
Theekit — thatched
Theirsel — theirselves
Thir — these
Thocht — thought
Thole — endure
Thoom — thumb
Thrang — busy
Thrapple — windpipe
Thrapplin — choking by compressing
the throat
Thrawart and uncannie — perverse
and dangerous
Thrawin — throwing
Threed — thread
Threecolore — tricolor
Threeped — asserted
Threeple — triple
Threteen — thirteen
Thretty — thirty
Thrissle — thistle
Throughither — mixed all together
Thrusty — thirsty
Thud — a thump, and the noise it
Thummlefu's — thimblefuls
Ticht — tight
Tiler — tailor
Till — to
Till't — to it
Timmer — timber
Timmer-tuned — altogether unmusical
in the voice
Tining — losing
Tinsy — tinsel
Tint — lost
Tirlin — unroofing
T'ither — the other
Tocher — dowry
Toddle — to totter like a child in
Toddler — a tottering child
Toman — a knoll, a thicket
Tooels — towels
Toom — empty
Toon — town
Toosy — shaggy, rough, dishevelled

Toosey —
Toozy —
Toozlin — handling the lasses in
rough sport
Tootin — blowing a horn
Tosh up — display to best advantage

Toshly, neatly
Tot — the whole number
Touts — sounds
Touzle — deal roughly with
Towdie — a barn-door fowl
Towmont — twelvemonth
Towsy — shaggy, dishevelled, rough
Tramper — wandering beggar
Trance — passage
Transmogrify — to metamorphose
Trate — treat
Tredd — trade
Trig — neat
Trochs — troughs
Trotters — legs and feet
True — trow, believe
Trummel — tremble
Trummle —
Trumlin — trembling
Twa-haun — two-handed
Twa-three — two or three
Twal — twelve
Twalt — twelfth
Tyke — dog, cur
Tyuk — took
Unce — ounce
Unco — uncommon
Unwiselike — unlike the truth, ridiculous

Upcast — taunt, reproach
Uptak — apprehension, comprehension

Urchin — the shell so called

Vacance — vacation
Vice — voice
Vicey — small thin voice
Vivers — victuals
Vizy — a deliberate look at a particular
Wa' — wall
Wab — web
Wabsters — weavers
Wad — would
Waefu' — sorrowful
Waif — wave
Waght — weight
Wale — best
Walin — choosing
Wallise — valise
Wame — stomach
Waniefu — bellyful
Wamle — a sudden tumbling roll,
generally on the belly
Wan — one
Warna — were not
Warsle — wrestle
Was na't — was it not
Water-pyat — the water-ouzel
Wather — weather
Wattin — wetting
Waught (a) — a large draught
Waukrife — watchful, sleepless
Waur — worse
Weans — children
Weather-gleam — a gleam of light in
the track of the sun on the edge
of the horizon, in cloudy weather
Wecht — weight
Wede — weeded
Wee — little
Wees — (by littles and woes), by insensible
Weel-faured — well-favoured
Weel-kend — well-known
Weezen'd — dried, hidebound, withered,
shrunk, and yellow
Werena — were not
Wersh — insipid
Wershness — insipidity
Whafflin — raising a wind with violent
Whalps — whelps
Whammle — upset
Whang — a large slice or cut
Whap — a heavy slap
Whase — whose
What — whet
Whattin — whetting
Whaups — curlews
Wheen — a number
Wheesht —
Wheish — hush
Whisht —
Whilk — which
Whilly-wha — a shuffler
Whins — furze
Whumle — to turn up or round
Whup — whip
Whupt — whipt
Whurlint — whirling
Whuskin — whisking
Whusky — whisky
Whusper — whisper
Whussle — whistle
Whustle —
Whut — whit
Whyleock — little while
Wi' hit — with it
Wiçe — wise
Wimplin — curling and purling
Win — get
Windle-strae — a tall, dun, sapless
grass that grows on Scottish hills
Windle-strae-legged — with small,
puny legs
Wise — entice
Wiselike — judicious
Wizen — throat
Wizened — see Weezened
Wons — dwells
Wonner — wonder
Wonnin — dwelling
Woo — wool
Wordier — worthier
Wrastle — wrestle
Wud — angry
Wudcock — woodcock
Wudcut — woodcut
Wudds — woods
Wudna — would not
Wudness — distraction
Wull-cat — wild cat
Wullie-waucht — large draught
Wull't — will it
Wummle — wimble
Wun' — wind
Wund —
Wundin — winding
Wunk — wink
Wunna — will not
Wunnel-strae — see Windle-strae
Wunnock — window
Wurset — worsted
Wuss — wish
Wut — wit
Wutty — witty
Wuzzard — wizard
Wysslike — judiciously
Wyte — blame, fault
Yammer — murmur or whimper
Yatt — yacht
Yaud — a sorry old horse
Yawp — sharp set
Yearock — chicken
Yellow yoldrin — yellow hammer
Yepoch — epoch
Yerk-yerking — carp-carping
Yerth — earth
Yestreen — yester even
Yett — gate
Yill — ale
Yirth — earth
Yoke till him — set upon him
Yonner — yonder
Yott — yacht
Youf-youfin — yelp-yelping
Youlin — howling
Yowlin —



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APA Style:

Noctes Ambrosianae, Vol. 4. 2022. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved January 2022, from

MLA Style:

"Noctes Ambrosianae, Vol. 4." The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2022. Web. January 2022.

Chicago Style

The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing, s.v., "Noctes Ambrosianae, Vol. 4," accessed January 2022,

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The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. 2022. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Noctes Ambrosianae, Vol. 4

Document Information

Document ID 163
Title Noctes Ambrosianae, Vol. 4
Year group 1850-1900
Genre Imaginative prose
Year of publication 1864
Wordcount 125203

Author information: Wilson, Professor John

Author ID 258
Title Professor
Forenames John
Surname Wilson
AKA Christopher North
Gender Male
Year of birth 1785
Place of birth Paisley, Scotland
Occupation Author, lawyer
Father's occupation Gauze manufacturer
Education University
Locations where resident Edinburgh