« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
difying conversation indeed, concernng the vexations of spirit that all lesh is heir to.
During our discoursing, as I was ot a deacon at the dressing of wigs, I vas obligated now and then to conemplate and consider the effect of my ribbling at a distance, and to give Mrs Keckle the dredge-box to shake the our on where it was seen to be wantng. But all this was done in great incerity of heart between her and me; Ithough, to be sure, it was none of the host zealous kind of religion on my art, to be fribbling with my hands nd comb at the wig, and saying at he same time with my tongue, orthoox texts out of the Scriptures. Nor, ʼn like manner, was it just what could e hoped for, that Mrs Keckle, when spoke to her on the everlasting joys f an eternal salvation, where friends neet to part no more, saying, “a bit luff with the box there, on the left urls," (in the way of a parenthesis,) hat she wouldna feel a great deal ; but or all that, we did our part well, and he was long after heard to say, that he had never been more edified in er life, than when she helped me to ress my wig on that occasion.
"But all is vanity and vexation of pirit in this world of sin and misery. When the wig was dressed, and as white and beautiful to the eye of man s a cauliflower, I took it from off its tance on the blockhead, which was a reat short-sightedness of me to do, nd I prinned it to the curtain of the ed, in the room wherein I was intructed by Mrs Keckle to sleep. Litle did either me or that worthy woan dream of the mischief that was hen brewing and hatching, against he great care and occupation where with we had in a manner regenerated he periwig into its primitive style of erfectness.
"You must understand, that Mrs Keckle had a black cat, that was not ast the pranks of kittenhood, though n outwardly show a most douce and vell comported beast; and what vould ye think Baudrons was doing ll the time that the mistress and me vere so eydent about the wig? She vas sitting on a chair, watching every luff that I gave, and meditating with he device of an evil spirit, how to poil all the bravery that I was so in lustriously endeavouring to restore nto its proper pedigree and formalities.
I have long had a notion that black cats are no overly canny, and the conduct of Mrs Keckle's was an evidential kithing to the effect, that there is nothing of uncharitableness in that notion of mine; howsomever, no to enlarge on such points of philosophical controversy, the wig being put in order, I carried it to the bed-room, and, as I was saying, prinned it to the bedcurtains, and then went down stairs again to the parlour to make exercise, and to taste Mrs Keckle's mutton ham, by way of a relish to a tumbler of toddy, having declined any sort of methodical supper.
Considering the melancholious necessity that had occasioned my coming to the Kilmartin Manse, I was beholden to enlarge a little after supper with Mrs Keckle, by which the tumbler of toddy was exhausted before I had made an end of my exhortation, which the mistress seeing, she said that if I would make another cheerer she would partake in a glass with me. It's no my habit to go such lengths at ony time, the more especially on a Saturday night; but she was so pressing that I could not but gratify her, so I made the second tumbler, and weel I wat it was baith nappy and good; for in the brewing I had an ee to pleasing Mrs Keckle, and knowing that the leddies like it strong and sweet, I wasna sparing either of the spirit bottle or the sugar bowl. But I trow both the widow and me had to rue the consequences that befell us in that night, for when I went up again intil the bed-room, I was what ye would call a thought off the nail, by the which my sleep wasna just what it should have been, and dreams and visions of all sorts came hovering about my pillow, and at times I felt, as it were, the bed whirling round.
"In this condition, with a bit dover now and then, I lay till the hour of midnight, at the which season, I had a strange dream-wherein I thought my wig was kindled by twa candles of a deadly yellow light, and then I beheld, as it were, an imp of darkness dancing at my bed-side, whereat I turned myself round, and covered my head with the clothes, just in an eerie mood, between sleeping and waking. I had not, however, lain long in that posture, when I felt, as I thought, a hand claming softly over the bed-clothes like a temptation, and
it was past the compass of my power to think what it could be. By and by I heard a dreadful thud on the floor, and something moving in the darkness, so I raised my head in a courageous manner to see and question who was there. But judge what I suffered, when I beheld, by the dim glimmer of the star-light of the window, that the curtains of the bed were awfully shaken, and every now and then what I thought a woman with a mutch keeking in upon me. The little gude was surely busy that night, for I thought the apparition was the widow, and that I saw Cluty himself at every other keek she gave, looking at me o'er her shoulder with his fiery een. In short, the sight and vision grew to such a head upon me, that I started up, and cried with a loud voice, "O! Mistress Keckle, Mistress Keckle, what's brought you here?" The sound of my terrification gart the whole house dirl, and the widow herself, with her twa servan lasses, with candles in their hands, came in their flannen coaties to see what was the matter, thinking I had gane by myself, or was taken with some sore dead-ill. But when the lights entered
the room, I was cured of my passion of amazement, and huddling intil the bed aneath the clothes, I expounded to the women what had disturbed me, and what an apparition I had seennot hinting, however, that I thought it was Mrs Keckle. While I was thus speaking, one of the maidens geid shrill skirling laugh, crying, "Och hon, the poor wig!" and sure enough no thing could be more humiliating than the sight it was; for the black cat, instigated, as I think, by Diabolus himself to an endeavour to pull it down, had with her claws combed out both the curls and the pouther; so that it was hinging as lank and feckless as a tap of lint, just as if neither the mistress nor me had laid a hand upon it. And thus it was brought to light and testimony, that what I had seen and heard was but the deevil of a black cat louping and jumping to bring down my new wig for a playock to herself, in the which most singular exploits she utterly ruined it; for upon an examine next day the whole faculty of the curls was destroyed, and great detriment done to the substance thereof."
The Odontist, at the end of Mr Birkwhistle's story, applied himself to seduce from her taciturnity a matronly woman, that uttered herself in a sort of Englified Scotch, or, as the Doctor said in a by way, winking with a drollery that was itself an entertainment to me-" Her words are just a mixture of pease and
"Madam," quo' the Odontist," as ye seem to have had some experience of man, ye'll just gie us a bit tig and gae by, in the shape of some wee couthy tale; and to help to oil the hinge of your tongue-hae, take a glass o' wine.'
"Ye're very obligatory," said the mistress; "and I thank you for this great proof of your politesse and expedience. But deed, Doctor, I have met with nothing of a jocosity to entertain the like of you, saving a sore fright that I got some years ago, the which, in all particulars, was one of the most comical misfortunes that ever happened to any single woman, far less to a desolate widow
TRAVELLING BY NIGHT.
TALE, NO. XIV.
"YE should ken, Doctor, and gentlemen, and ladies, that I am, by reason of birth, parentage, and education, an Edinburgh woman. But, in course of time, it so fell out, that when I was married, I found myself left a widow in the city of Bristol; upon the which yevent I took up a house in Clifton,nae doubt, Doctor, ye have heard often enough tell o' Clifton,-and living there, as I was saying, I took a wearying fit to see my kith and kin in Scotland, and so set out in the coach, with
the design and intent of travelling by night and by day to Edinburgh, straight through, without stopping. I'll never forget, to the day I die, what befell me in that journey, by a nocturnal reciprocity with a poor young man.
"We took him in on the road, where he was waiting for the carriage, with an umbrella under his oxter, and a bundle in his hand. The sight of him was a sore thing, for his eyes were big and blue, his cheeks skin and bone, and
e had a host that was just dreadful. t was death rapping with his knuckle t the chamber door of the poor creaare's precious soul. But we travelled n, and I said to the young man that is friends were making a victim of im. He, however, had no fear, sayig he was going home to try the beefit of his native air.
“When we came, I think it was to he town of Lancaster, I steppit out to et a chop of dinner, leaving the lad the coach, and when I had received refreshment, and taken my seat again, saw he was busy with his bundle, in e custody of which he had a bottle nd a veal pye. Heavens preserve us! 10' I, what poison is that ye have een murdering yourself with ?-But e only laughed to see the terror I was For a' that, to think of a man ith such a coughing host, eating such peppery conservatory as a pye, and sting of the deadly indecorum of a randy bottle, was a constipation of Hiction that I cannot sufficiently ex
"However, nothing happened for me time, but the coach hurled, he osted, and the night it was growing ark; at last he gave, as ye would say, skraik, and fell as dead as a doorail, with the pye and the bottle on le seat before me.
"At first, as ye may think, I was conunded, but presently I heard a lad hat was ree with drink singing on the op of the coach; so being my leeful ne with the dead body, I put my ead out at the window, and bade the bachman to stop. It was by this time uite dark.
"I'll be very much obligated to ou," quo' I to the driver, "if ye'll let he gentlemen that's singing so blythey come in beside me; for the poor lad hat was here has taken an ill turn." "The coachman very civilly consentd to this, and the drunken nightinale was allowed to come in ; but beore he got the door opened, I took are to set the corpse upright, and to lace it all in order with the bundle in s hand on its knee.
"Friend," said I to the ree man, ye'll be so good as to keep this poor d in a steady posture, for he has had low turn, and maybe it'll be some time efore he recover.
"I'll do that," said he ; and accordgly he sat beside the dead man and
held him up, as away the coach went with us all three.
"I wish, ma'am," said the supporter, after having sat sometime silent," that the man be not already dead, for I do not think he breathes."
"Don't trouble him," quo' I, "he's but in a low way."
We had not gone far till he lifted the dead man's arm and let it fall, and it fell like a lump of clay.
By heaven, he's dead!" said my living companion in alarm; " he does not breath, and his hand is as powerless as a knuckle of veal."
"Cannot you let the man alone," said I; "how would you like to be so fashed if ye had fainted yourself? I tell you it's no decent to be meddling with either his feet or hands."
Upon my saying which words, the drunken fool, holding up the body with his left hand, lifted one of its legs and let it drop.
Madam," said he, in a mournful voice, "he does not breath, he has no power in his hands, and his leg's a dead log. I'll bet ten to one, he's dead.” Surely," quo' I, "no poor woman was ever so tormented as I am—what business have you either to bet or bargain on the subject? Cannot ye in a peaceable manner just do as I bid you, and keep the poor man in a christian posture?"
"But for all that, we had not driven far till the inquisitive fellow put his hand into the bosom of the corpse.
"By jingo, madam," said he, "if this ben't a dead man, the last oyster I swallowed is living yet he does not breathe, his hand's powerless, his leg can't move, and his heart don't beat. The game's all up with him, depend upon't, or my name's not Jack Lowther."
"Well, I declare, Mr Lowther,” quo' I, "I never met the like of
who ever heard of a man dying in a stage-coach? I am surprised ye could think of mentioning such a thing to a leddy. It's enough to frighten me out of my judgment-for the love of peace, Mr Lowther, hold your tongue about death, and haud up the man till we get to Kendal."
I may hold him up-t -that I don't refuse; but ina'am," said Mr Lowther, "the poor fellow is already food for worms. Feel his bosom, put in your hand-do pray. By Jingo, he is as cold
as a frog, and as dead as a leg of mutton. I have given him such a pinch, that if he had a spark of life it must have made him jump."
"Mr Lowther," said I, with great sincerity, "ye're a most extraordinary perplexity, to nip the man in that way. It's enough to cause his death-I am surprised ye have so little regard to humanity."
"So with some converse of the same sort, we at last reached the inn door at Kendal, and when the waiter came with a candle to see who would light for supper, I said to him, "Let me quietly out, for there's a dead man in the coach beside me." The waiter uttered a cry of terrification, and let the candle fall in the dub, but in an instant twenty
other lights came flaming, and a crowd gathered around us, while Mr Lowther jumped out of the carriage, like a creature by himself, and was like to faint with the thought of having travelled in the company of a corpse. And to be surely, it was not a very pleasant companion we had; however, it gave me a warn ing never to travel by night again; for I was needcessitated to bide till the coroner had made a questification of my testimony, and I got no sleep, nei ther that night, nor for three after, with the thought of sitting in a coach with a dead body, holding a veal pye and a brandy bottle in its hand-which every one must allow was a concurrence of a very alarming kind to a single woman.
When the Englified Edinburgh lady had made an end of her story, the Doctor gave me a nodge on the elbow, and said with a winking, to let me ken he was but in jocularity, "Now, Tammy, ye'll see how I'll squabash them;" and with that, he addressed himself aloud to the company of passengers assembled round us-saying how he was diverted by the stories he had heard, but that he had one of his own to tell, more extraordinary than them all, with other preliminary observes of the same sort, to waylay the attention.
THE ODONTIST'S MONKEY,
TALE, No. XV.
"I had a monkey once-it was just like a French wean-a' mouth and een. It came from Senegal, or Gibraltar, or the Ape-hill of Africa-whilk o' the three, gude kens. But it was nae ane of the common clanjamphrey that ye see at fairs-it was a douce monkey, wi' nane o' that devilry and chatter of the showman's tribe; it was as composed as a provost, and did all its orders and ends in a methodical manner. Lordsake, but it had amaist as muckle gumpshion as my friend Tammy here, and I took a pleasure in the education of the creature-I have long had a conceit that the auld way of education is no conducted in a proper manner, and therefore I tried a new device o' my ain with Puggy. Noo, attend to what am telling-for if ye dinna follow the thread o' my discourse, ye'll lose the end o't alltogether.
Ae morning I was sitting writing a bit sang for Blackwood's His Magazine couldna go on without me— when I observed Puggy watching me wi' the e'e of a philosopher or a professor-ye ken the ane's as wise as the other-I took a vizy at the beast, and I said till't, "Puggy, come here," and it
was on the table like a flea. "Dost thou think, Puggy,” quo' I, “ thou could'st learn to write?"-I was just confoundit to see the thing at the words take a pen and dip it into the ink bottle, and then look up in my face and gie a nod, as much as to say
"I'll try, set me a copy."
"So I set the sensible beast a copy in strokes, and it then began after me It's strokes were better than mine-I was dumfoundered, and next tried it in the A. B. C.-no Chinese copiator could do half so well.-“ I'll make a something as good as a printing-press or the lithography, o' thee, Puggy," said I, patting it on the head.-The creature look'd up weel pleased wi' the compliment; and then I wrote in large text CAT, and pointing to pussy, was lying on the rug afore the fire, said-CAT. Puggy gave a nod, and immediately wrote cat, and pointing to baudrons, gave another nod, and said
"Are ye no the devil?" said I, starting back, and looking to see that it hadna a cloven foot. I then drew in my chair, and gave it another lesson. and for copy, set it' HAND,' repeat
ng the word, and shewing my ownIl which Puggy did in the same maner, with a humanity no to be descried. In this way on the first morning taught it to read and write, and speak he name of every thing in the room, nd about me.
"The second lesson was more curious han the first. I tried to gie't abstract deas. There's no a professor o' the metaphysical nonsense, o' a' the coleges, can teach his 'whippersnapper tudents like me.
word FETCH. Puggy was fash'd a wee at first, but by and by it suited the action to the word, as Will Shakespeare says, and I soon saw it understood me like another Solomon. Then I wrote ME, but without speaking it, mind that, and touched myself. Puggy likewise wrote ME, and, coming forward, touched me, and looking up in my face, shewed that it understood that I was me.-Book it had learnt the day before, as I was telling you, so that when I laid the volume back again on the chair, and said, "Puggy, fetch me the book," it jumpit away and brought it as cleverly as a fairy.
"I laid a book on a chair, and going o my place at the table, I went back nd brought the book to it, and laid it in the table, and then I wrote the Here the Doctor made a full stop, for every body was listening in credulous dmiration, and then he rose from the table, and, flourishing his switch, wirled round like a totum, and made all the echoes of the coast ring with his aughter at having so quizzed the natives.
Thus passed the first afternoon of my retour by the Mountaineer, and the ext day being blasty and bleak, nobody was in a humour either to tell or to ear stories; but on the morning of the third, as we came in sight of the Bass, he sun came so brightly out of his bed ayont the sea, to run his race rejoicing, hat we felt the strength of man renewed within us, and the Doctor, being as lithe as a bumbee in a summer morning, immediately after breakfast began, ke that busy creature humming from flower to flower, to gather tales and leasant stories from all around him.
When we had arranged our stools after breakfast on the deck, and chosen ne Odontist preses of the sitting, he looked around with his hawk's eye, and xing on a young man of a deinure and clerical look, said to him, "Friend, et's see what ye hae gotten in your pack; open, and shew's your wares.' Vith that the austere lad answered that he would relate a story suitable to he place and the objects around us.
"I am sorry, sir," said he, with a rave voice," that there are some mong us who consider the reverend entleman's story as a derogatory pic are of the Scottish clergy. I think hose who do so, have allowed their nderstandings to be seduced into a everence for forms and ceremonies, toally inconsistent with that familiar nd domestic piety which is characeristic of the Presbyter, and enters to all he does and says. The newangled formalities that are corrupting he simplicity of the Presbyterian worhip-the papistical ringing of "the acring bell”* before the minister eners the pulpit, and the heartless trills f those hireling and prelatic choirs
that have been substituted in some places for "the praises of the congregation," are abominations which our ancestors would have laughed down, or swept away with the besom of destruction, as they did the trumpery the monks and prelates. I say this the more seriously, because of late a spirit seems to have gone abroad, at war with that reverence which Scottish hearts were once taught to cherish for the martyrs of their national religion. But, sir, when those perishable temples which vanity purposes to raise to the learned and the valiant, are crumbled into dust, yon monument, which the Divine Architect himself has raised, will stand sublime amidst the so
"The sacring bell" is the small bell which is rung to announce the elevation of he Host, and before the curtain is drawn, in the mummery of the Mass.