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Title: The Annals of the Parish
 - Or, the Chronicle of Dalmailing During the Ministry of the Rev. Micah Balwhidder
Author: Galt, John
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Annals of the Parish
 - Or, the Chronicle of Dalmailing During the Ministry of the Rev. Micah Balwhidder" ***

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Transcribed from the 1910 T. N. Foulis edition by David Price, email

                          [Picture: Book cover]

                     [Picture: The Loupin’-on Stane]

                                ANNALS OF
                                THE PARISH

                       MAILING DURING THE MINISTRY
                        OF THE REV. MICAH BALWHID-
                         DER.  WRITTEN BY HIMSELF
                        AND ARRANGED AND EDITED BY
                                JOHN GALT
                         ILLUSTRATED IN COLOUR BY
                          HENRY W. KERR, R.S.A.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                            London & Edinburgh
                                 1 9 1 0

                                * * * * *

                             _September_ 1910

                                * * * * *

               _Printed by Turnbull & Spears_, _Edinburgh_


IN the same year, and on the same day of the same month, that his Sacred
Majesty King George, the third of the name, came to his crown and
kingdom, I was placed and settled as the minister of Dalmailing. {1}
When about a week thereafter this was known in the parish, it was thought
a wonderful thing, and everybody spoke of me and the new king as united
in our trusts and temporalities, marvelling how the same should come to
pass, and thinking the hand of Providence was in it, and that surely we
were preordained to fade and flourish in fellowship together; which has
really been the case: for in the same season that his Most Excellent
Majesty, as he was very properly styled in the proclamations for the
general fasts and thanksgivings, was set by as a precious vessel which
had received a crack or a flaw, and could only be serviceable in the way
of an ornament, I was obliged, by reason of age and the growing
infirmities of my recollection, to consent to the earnest entreaties of
the Session, and to accept of Mr. Amos to be my helper.  I was long
reluctant to do so; but the great respect that my people had for me, and
the love that I bore towards them, over and above the sign that was given
to me in the removal of the royal candle-stick from its place, worked
upon my heart and understanding, and I could not stand out.  So, on the
last Sabbath of the year 1810, I preached my last sermon, and it was a
moving discourse.  There were few dry eyes in the kirk that day; for I
had been with the aged from the beginning—the young considered me as
their natural pastor—and my bidding them all farewell was, as when of old
among the heathen, an idol was taken away by the hands of the enemy.

At the close of the worship, and before the blessing, I addressed them in
a fatherly manner; and, although the kirk was fuller than ever I saw it
before, the fall of a pin might have been heard—at the conclusion there
was a sobbing and much sorrow.  I said,

“My dear friends, I have now finished my work among you for ever.  I have
often spoken to you from this place the words of truth and holiness; and,
had it been in poor frail human nature to practise the advice and
counselling that I have given in this pulpit to you, there would not need
to be any cause for sorrow on this occasion—the close and latter end of
my ministry.  But, nevertheless, I have no reason to complain; and it
will be my duty to testify, in that place where I hope we are all one day
to meet again, that I found you a docile and a tractable flock, far more
than at first I could have expected.  There are among you still a few,
but with grey heads and feeble hands now, that can remember the great
opposition that was made to my placing, and the stout part they
themselves took in the burly, because I was appointed by the patron; but
they have lived to see the error of their way, and to know that preaching
is the smallest portion of the duties of a faithful minister.  I may not,
my dear friends, have applied my talent in the pulpit so effectually as
perhaps I might have done, considering the gifts that it pleased God to
give me in that way, and the education that I had in the Orthodox
University of Glasgow, as it was in the time of my youth; nor can I say
that, in the works of peace-making and charity, I have done all that I
should have done.  But I have done my best, studying no interest but the
good that was to rise according to the faith in Christ Jesus.

“To my young friends I would, as a parting word, say, look to the lives
and conversation of your parents—they were plain, honest, and devout
Christians, fearing God and honouring the King.  They believed the Bible
was the word of God; and, when they practised its precepts, they found,
by the good that came from them, that it was truly so.  They bore in mind
the tribulation and persecution of their forefathers for righteousness’
sake, and were thankful for the quiet and protection of the government in
their day and generation.  Their land was tilled with industry, and they
ate the bread of carefulness with a contented spirit, and, verily, they
had the reward of well-doing even in this world; for they beheld on all
sides the blessing of God upon the nation, and the tree growing, and the
plough going where the banner of the oppressor was planted of old, and
the war-horse trampled in the blood of martyrs.  Reflect on this, my
young friends, and know, that the best part of a Christian’s duty in this
world of much evil, is to thole and suffer with resignation, as lang as
it is possible for human nature to do.  I do not counsel passive
obedience: that is a doctrine that the Church of Scotland can never
abide; but the divine right of resistance, which, in the days of her
trouble, she so bravely asserted against popish and prelatic usurpations,
was never resorted to till the attempt was made to remove the ark of the
tabernacle from her.  I therefore counsel you, my young friends, not to
lend your ears to those that trumpet forth their hypothetical politics;
but to believe that the laws of the land are administered with a good
intent, till in your own homes and dwellings ye feel the presence of the
oppressor—then, and not till then, are ye free to gird your loins for
battle—and woe to him, and woe to the land where that is come to, if the
sword be sheathed till the wrong be redressed.

“As for you, my old companions, many changes have we seen in our day; but
the change that we ourselves are soon to undergo will be the greatest of
all.  We have seen our bairns grow to manhood—we have seen the beauty of
youth pass away—we have felt our backs become unable for the burthen, and
our right hand forget its cunning.—Our eyes have become dim, and our
heads grey—we are now tottering with short and feckless steps towards the
grave; and some, that should have been here this day, are bed-rid, lying,
as it were, at the gates of death, like Lazarus at the threshold of the
rich man’s door, full of ails and sores, and having no enjoyment but in
the hope that is in hereafter.  What can I say to you but farewell!  Our
work is done—we are weary and worn out, and in need of rest—may the rest
of the blessed be our portion!—and in the sleep that all must sleep,
beneath the cold blanket of the kirkyard grass, and on that clay pillow
where we must shortly lay our heads, may we have pleasant dreams, till we
are awakened to partake of the everlasting banquet of the saints in

When I had finished, there was for some time a great solemnity throughout
the kirk; and, before giving the blessing, I sat down to compose myself,
for my heart was big, and my spirit oppressed with sadness.

As I left the pulpit, all the elders stood on the steps to hand me down,
and the tear was in every eye, and they helped me into the session-house;
but I could not speak to them, nor them to me.  Then Mr. Dalziel, who was
always a composed and sedate man, said a few words of prayer, and I was
comforted therewith, and rose to go home to the manse; but in the
churchyard all the congregation was assembled, young and old, and they
made a lane for me to the back-yett that opened into the
manse-garden—Some of them put out their hands and touched me as I passed,
followed by the elders, and some of them wept.  It was as if I was
passing away, and to be no more—verily, it was the reward of my
ministry—a faithful account of which, year by year, I now sit down, in
the evening of my days, to make up, to the end that I may bear witness to
the work of a beneficent Providence, even in the narrow sphere of my
parish, and the concerns of that flock of which it was His most gracious
pleasure to make me the unworthy shepherd.

YEAR 1760

THE Anno Domini one thousand seven hundred and sixty, was remarkable for
three things in the parish of Dalmailing.—First and foremost, there was
my placing; then the coming of Mrs. Malcolm with her five children to
settle among us; and next, my marriage upon my own cousin, Miss Betty
Lanshaw, by which the account of this year naturally divides itself into
three heads or portions.

First, of the placing.—It was a great affair; for I was put in by the
patron, and the people knew nothing whatsoever of me, and their hearts
were stirred into strife on the occasion, and they did all that lay
within the compass of their power to keep me out, insomuch, that there
was obliged to be a guard of soldiers to protect the presbytery; and it
was a thing that made my heart grieve when I heard the drum beating and
the fife playing as we were going to the kirk.  The people were really
mad and vicious, and flung dirt upon us as we passed, and reviled us all,
and held out the finger of scorn at me; but I endured it with a resigned
spirit, compassionating their wilfulness and blindness.  Poor old Mr.
Kilfuddy of the Braehill got such a clash of glar on the side of his
face, that his eye was almost extinguished.

When we got to the kirk door, it was found to be nailed up, so as by no
possibility to be opened.  The sergeant of the soldiers wanted to break
it, but I was afraid that the heritors would grudge and complain of the
expense of a new door, and I supplicated him to let it be as it was: we
were, therefore, obligated to go in by a window, and the crowd followed
us in the most unreverent manner, making the Lord’s house like an inn on
a fair day, with their grievous yellyhooing.  During the time of the
psalm and the sermon, they behaved themselves better, but when the
induction came on, their clamour was dreadful; and Thomas Thorl, the
weaver, a pious zealot in that time, he got up and protested, and said,
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into
the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a
robber.”  And I thought I would have a hard and sore time of it with such
an outstrapolous people.  Mr. Given, that was then the minister of
Lugton, was a jocose man, and would have his joke even at a solemnity.
When the laying of the hands upon me was adoing, he could not get near
enough to put on his, but he stretched out his staff and touched my head,
and said, to the great diversion of the rest, “This will do well enough,
timber to timber;” but it was an unfriendly saying of Mr. Given,
considering the time and the place, and the temper of my people.

                          [Picture: The Souter]

After the ceremony, we then got out at the window, and it was a heavy day
to me; but we went to the manse, and there we had an excellent dinner,
which Mrs. Watts of the new inns of Irville {9} prepared at my request,
and sent her chaise-driver to serve, for he was likewise her waiter, she
having then but one chaise, and that no often called for.

But, although my people received me in this unruly manner, I was resolved
to cultivate civility among them, and therefore, the very next morning I
began a round of visitations; but, oh! it was a steep brae that I had to
climb, and it needed a stout heart.  For I found the doors in some places
barred against me; in others, the bairns, when they saw me coming, ran
crying to their mothers, “Here’s the feckless Mess-John!” and then, when
I went into the houses, their parents wouldna ask me to sit down, but
with a scornful way, said, “Honest man, what’s your pleasure here?”
Nevertheless, I walked about from door to door like a dejected beggar,
till I got the almous deed of a civil reception—and who would have
thought it?—from no less a person than the same Thomas Thorl that was so
bitter against me in the kirk on the foregoing day.

Thomas was standing at the door with his green duffle apron, and his red
Kilmarnock nightcap—I mind him as well as if it was but yesterday—and he
had seen me going from house to house, and in what manner I was rejected,
and his bowels were moved, and he said to me in a kind manner, “Come in,
sir, and ease yoursel’: this will never do, the clergy are God’s gorbies,
and for their Master’s sake it behoves us to respect them.  There was no
ane in the whole parish mair against you than mysel’; but this early
visitation is a symptom of grace that I couldna have expectit from a bird
out the nest of patronage.”  I thanked Thomas, and went in with him, and
we had some solid conversation together, and I told him that it was not
so much the pastor’s duty to feed the flock, as to herd them well; and
that, although there might be some abler with the head than me, there
wasna a he within the bounds of Scotland more willing to watch the fold
by night and by day.  And Thomas said he had not heard a mair sound
observe for some time, and that, if I held to that doctrine in the
poopit, it wouldna be lang till I would work a change.—“I was mindit,”
quoth he, “never to set my foot within the kirk door while you were
there; but to testify, and no to condemn without a trial, I’ll be there
next Lord’s day, and egg my neighbours to be likewise, so ye’ll no have
to preach just to the bare walls and the laird’s family.”

I have now to speak of the coming of Mrs. Malcolm.—She was the widow of a
Clyde shipmaster, that was lost at sea with his vessel.  She was a genty
body, calm and methodical.  From morning to night she sat at her wheel,
spinning the finest lint, which suited well with her pale hands.  She
never changed her widow’s weeds, and she was aye as if she had just been
ta’en out of a bandbox.  The tear was aften in her e’e when the bairns
were at the school; but when they came home, her spirit was lighted up
with gladness, although, poor woman, she had many a time very little to
give them.  They were, however, wonderful well-bred things, and took with
thankfulness whatever she set before them; for they knew that their
father, the breadwinner, was away, and that she had to work sore for
their bit and drap.  I dare say, the only vexation that ever she had from
any of them, on their own account, was when Charlie, the eldest laddie,
had won fourpence at pitch-and-toss at the school, which he brought home
with a proud heart to his mother.  I happened to be daunrin’ by at the
time, and just looked in at the door to say gude-night: it was a sad
sight.  There was she sitting with the silent tear on her cheek, and
Charlie greeting as if he had done a great fault, and the other four
looking on with sorrowful faces.  Never, I am sure, did Charlie Malcolm
gamble after that night.

I often wondered what brought Mrs. Malcolm to our clachan, instead of
going to a populous town, where she might have taken up a huxtry-shop, as
she was but of a silly constitution, the which would have been better for
her than spinning from morning to far in the night, as if she was in
verity drawing the thread of life.  But it was, no doubt, from an honest
pride to hide her poverty; for when her daughter Effie was ill with the
measles—the poor lassie was very ill—nobody thought she could come
through, and when she did get the turn, she was for many a day a heavy
handful;—our session being rich, and nobody on it but cripple Tammy
Daidles, that was at that time known through all the country side for
begging on a horse, I thought it my duty to call upon Mrs. Malcolm in a
sympathising way, and offer her some assistance, but she refused it.

“No, sir,” said she, “I canna take help from the poor’s-box, although
it’s very true that I am in great need; for it might hereafter be cast up
to my bairns, whom it may please God to restore to better circumstances
when I am no to see’t; but I would fain borrow five pounds, and if, sir,
you will write to Mr. Maitland, that is now the Lord Provost of Glasgow,
and tell him that Marion Shaw would be obliged to him for the lend of
that soom, I think he will not fail to send it.”

I wrote the letter that night to Provost Maitland, and, by the retour of
the post, I got an answer, with twenty pounds for Mrs. Malcolm, saying,
“That it was with sorrow he heard so small a trifle could be
serviceable.”  When I took the letter and the money, which was in a
bank-bill, she said, “This is just like himsel’.”  She then told me that
Mr. Maitland had been a gentleman’s son of the east country, but driven
out of his father’s house, when a laddie, by his stepmother; and that he
had served as a servant lad with her father, who was the Laird of
Yillcogie, but ran through his estate, and left her, his only daughter,
in little better than beggary with her auntie, the mother of Captain
Malcolm, her husband that was.  Provost Maitland in his servitude had
ta’en a notion of her; and when he recovered his patrimony, and had
become a great Glasgow merchant, on hearing how she was left by her
father, he offered to marry her, but she had promised herself to her
cousin the captain, whose widow she was.  He then married a rich lady,
and in time grew, as he was, Lord Provost of the city; but his letter
with the twenty pounds to me, showed that he had not forgotten his first
love.  It was a short, but a well-written letter, in a fair hand of
write, containing much of the true gentleman; and Mrs. Malcolm said, “Who
knows but out of the regard he once had for their mother, he may do
something for my five helpless orphans.”

Thirdly, Upon the subject of taking my cousin, Miss Betty Lanshaw, for my
first wife, I have little to say.—It was more out of a compassionate
habitual affection, than the passion of love.  We were brought up by our
grandmother in the same house, and it was a thing spoken of from the
beginning, that Betty and me were to be married.  So, when she heard that
the Laird of Breadland had given me the presentation of Dalmailing, she
began to prepare for the wedding; and as soon as the placing was well
over, and the manse in order, I gaed to Ayr, where she was, and we were
quietly married, and came home in a chaise, bringing with us her little
brother Andrew, that died in the East Indies, and he lived and was
brought up by us.

     Now, this is all, I think, that happened in that year worthy of being
        mentioned, except that at the sacrament, when old Mr. Kilfuddy was
    preaching in the tent, it came on such a thunder-plump, that there was
    not a single soul stayed in the kirkyard to hear him; for the which he
            was greatly mortified, and never after came to our preachings.

YEAR 1761

IT was in this year that the great smuggling trade corrupted all the west
coast, especially the laigh lands about the Troon and the Loans.  The tea
was going like the chaff, the brandy like well-water, and the wastrie of
all things was terrible.  There was nothing minded but the riding of
cadgers by day, and excisemen by night—and battles between the smugglers
and the king’s men, both by sea and land.  There was a continual
drunkenness and debauchery; and our session, that was but on the lip of
this whirlpool of iniquity, had an awful time o’t.  I did all that was in
the power of nature to keep my people from the contagion: I preached
sixteen times from the text, “Render to Cæsar the things that are
Cæsar’s.”  I visited, and I exhorted; I warned, and I prophesied; I told
them that, although the money came in like sclate stones, it would go
like the snow off the dyke.  But for all I could do, the evil got in
among us, and we had no less than three contested bastard bairns upon our
hands at one time, which was a thing never heard of in a parish of the
shire of Ayr since the Reformation.  Two of the bairns, after no small
sifting and searching, we got fathered at last; but the third, that was
by Meg Glaiks, and given to one Rab Rickerton, was utterly refused,
though the fact was not denied; but he was a termagant fellow, and
snappit his fingers at the elders.  The next day he listed in the Scotch
Greys, who were then quartered at Ayr, and we never heard more of him,
but thought he had been slain in battle, till one of the parish, about
three years since, went up to London to lift a legacy from a cousin that
died among the Hindoos.  When he was walking about, seeing the
curiosities, and among others Chelsea Hospital, he happened to speak to
some of the invalids, who found out from his tongue that he was a
Scotchman; and speaking to the invalids, one of them, a very old man,
with a grey head and a leg of timber, inquired what part of Scotland he
was come from; and when he mentioned my parish, the invalid gave a great
shout, and said he was from the same place himself; and who should this
old man be, but the very identical Rab Rickerton, that was art and part
in Meg Glaiks’ disowned bairn.  Then they had a long converse together,
and he had come through many hardships, but had turned out a good
soldier; and so, in his old days, was an indoor pensioner, and very
comfortable; and he said that he had, to be sure, spent his youth in the
devil’s service, and his manhood in the king’s, but his old age was given
to that of his Maker, which I was blithe and thankful to hear; and he
enquired about many a one in the parish, the blooming and the green of
his time, but they were all dead and buried; and he had a contrite and
penitent spirit, and read his Bible every day, delighting most in the
Book of Joshua, the Chronicles, and the Kings.

Before this year, the drinking of tea was little known in the parish,
saving among a few of the heritors’ houses on a Sabbath evening; but now
it became very rife: yet the commoner sort did not like to let it be
known that they were taking to the new luxury, especially the elderly
women, who, for that reason, had their ploys in out-houses and by-places,
just as the witches lang syne had their sinful possets and
galravitchings; and they made their tea for common in the pint-stoup, and
drank it out of caps and luggies, for there were but few among them that
had cups and saucers.  Well do I remember one night in harvest, in this
very year, as I was taking my twilight dauner aneath the hedge along the
back side of Thomas Thorl’s yard, meditating on the goodness of
Providence, and looking at the sheaves of victual on the field, that I
heard his wife, and two three other carlins, with their Bohea in the
inside of the hedge, and no doubt but it had a lacing of the conek, {17}
for they were all cracking like pen-guns.  But I gave them a sign, by a
loud host, that Providence sees all, and it skailed the bike; for I heard
them, like guilty creatures, whispering, and gathering up their
truck-pots and trenchers, and cowering away home.

It was in this year that Patrick Dilworth (he had been schoolmaster of
the parish from the time, as his wife said, of Anna Regina, and before
the Rexes came to the crown), was disabled by a paralytic, and the
heritors, grudging the cost of another schoolmaster as long as he lived,
would not allow the session to get his place supplied, which was a wrong
thing, I must say, of them; for the children of the parishioners were
obliged, therefore, to go to the neighbouring towns for their schooling,
and the custom was to take a piece of bread and cheese in their pockets
for dinner, and to return in the evening always voracious for more, the
long walk helping the natural crave of their young appetites.  In this
way Mrs. Malcolm’s two eldest laddies, Charlie and Robert, were wont to
go to Irville, and it was soon seen that they kept themselves aloof from
the other callans in the clachan, and had a genteeler turn than the
grulshy bairns of the cottars.  Her bit lassies, Kate and Effie, were
better off; for some years before, Nanse Banks had taken up a teaching in
a garret-room of a house, at the corner where John Bayne has biggit the
sclate-house for his grocery-shop.  Nanse learnt them reading and working
stockings, and how to sew the semplar, for twal-pennies a-week.  She was
a patient creature, well cut out for her calling, with blear een, a pale
face, and a long neck, but meek and contented withal, tholing the dule of
this world with a Christian submission of the spirit; and her garret-room
was a cordial of cleanliness, for she made the scholars set the house in
order, time and time about, every morning; and it was a common remark for
many a day, that the lassies, who had been at Nanse Banks’s school, were
always well spoken of, both for their civility, and the trigness of their
houses when they were afterwards married.  In short, I do not know, that
in all the long epoch of my ministry, any individual body did more to
improve the ways of the parishioners, in their domestic concerns, than
did that worthy and innocent creature, Nanse Banks, the schoolmistress;
and she was a great loss when she was removed, as it is to be hoped, to a
better world; but anent this I shall have to speak more at large

It was in this year that my patron, the Laird of Breadland, departed this
life, and I preached his funeral sermon; but he was non-beloved in the
parish; for my people never forgave him for putting me upon them,
although they began to be more on a familiar footing with myself.  This
was partly owing to my first wife, Betty Lanshaw, who was an active
throughgoing woman, and wonderfu’ useful to many of the cottars’ wives at
their lying-in; and when a death happened among them, her helping hand,
and any thing we had at the manse, was never wanting; and I went about
myself to the bedsides of the frail, leaving no stone unturned to win the
affections of my people, which, by the blessing of the Lord, in process
of time, was brought to a bearing.

But a thing happened in this year, which deserves to be recorded, as
manifesting what effect the smuggling was beginning to take in the morals
of the country side.  One Mr. Macskipnish, of Highland parentage, who had
been a valet-de-chambre with a major in the campaigns, and taken a
prisoner with him by the French, he having come home in a cartel, took up
a dancing-school at Irville, the which art he had learnt in the
genteelest fashion, in the mode of Paris, at the French court.  Such a
thing as a dancing-school had never, in the memory of man, been known in
our country side; and there was such a sound about the steps and
cottillions of Mr. Macskipnish, that every lad and lass, that could spare
time and siller, went to him, to the great neglect of their work.  The
very bairns on the loan, instead of their wonted play, gaed linking and
louping in the steps of Mr. Macskipnish, who was, to be sure, a great
curiosity, with long spindle legs, his breast shot out like a duck’s, and
his head powdered and frizzled up like a tappit-hen.  He was, indeed, the
proudest peacock that could be seen, and he had a ring on his finger, and
when he came to drink his tea at the Breadland, he brought no hat on his
head, but a droll cockit thing under his arm, which, he said, was after
the manner of the courtiers at the petty suppers of one Madam Pompadour,
who was at that time the concubine of the French king.

I do not recollect any other remarkable thing that happened in this year.
The harvest was very abundant, and the meal so cheap, that it caused a
great defect in my stipend; so that I was obligated to postpone the
purchase of a mahogany scrutoire for my study, as I had intended.  But I
had not the heart to complain of this: on the contrary, I rejoiced
thereat; for what made me want my scrutoire till another year, had
carried blitheness into the hearth of the cottar, and made the widow’s
heart sing with joy; and I would have been an unnatural creature, had I
not joined in the universal gladness, because plenty did abound.

YEAR 1762

THE third year of my ministry was long held in remembrance for several
very memorable things.  William Byres of the Loanhead had a cow that
calved two calves at one calving; Mrs. Byres, the same year, had twins,
male and female; and there was such a crop on his fields, testifying that
the Lord never sends a mouth into the world without providing meat for
it.  But what was thought a very daunting sign of something, happened on
the Sacrament Sabbath at the conclusion of the action sermon, when I had
made a very suitable discourse.  The day was tempestuous, and the wind
blew with such a pith and birr, that I thought it would have twirled the
trees in the kirkyard out by the roots, and, blowing in this manner, it
tirled the thack from the rigging of the manse stable; and the same blast
that did that, took down the lead that was on the kirk-roof, which hurled
off, as I was saying, at the conclusion of the action sermon, with such a
dreadful sound, as the like was never heard, and all the congregation
thought that it betokened a mutation to me.  However, nothing particular
happened to me; but the smallpox came in among the weans of the parish,
and the smashing that it made of the poor bits o’ bairns was indeed

One Sabbath, when the pestilence was raging, I preached a sermon about
Rachel weeping for her children, which Thomas Thorl, who was surely a
great judge of good preaching, said, “was a monument of divinity whilk
searched the heart of many a parent that day;” a thing I was well pleased
to hear, for Thomas, as I have related at length, was the most zealous
champion against my getting the parish; but, from this time, I set him
down in my mind for the next vacancy among the elders.  Worthy man! it
was not permitted him to arrive at that honour.  In the fall of that year
he took an income in his legs, and couldna go about, and was laid up for
the remainder of his days, a perfect Lazarus, by the fire-side.  But he
was well supported in his affliction.  In due season, when it pleased Him
that alone can give and take, to pluck him from this life, as the fruit
ripened and ready for the gathering, his death, to all that knew him, was
a gentle dispensation, for truly he had been in sore trouble.

It was in this year that Charlie Malcolm, Mrs. Malcolm’s eldest son, was
sent to be a cabin-boy in the Tobacco trader, a three-masted ship, that
sailed between Port-Glasgow and Virginia in America.  She was commanded
by Captain Dickie, an Irville man; for at that time the Clyde was
supplied with the best sailors from our coast, the coal-trade with
Ireland being a better trade for bringing up good mariners than the long
voyages in the open sea; which was the reason, as I often heard said, why
the Clyde shipping got so many of their men from our country side.  The
going to sea of Charlie Malcolm was, on divers accounts, a very
remarkable thing to us all; for he was the first that ever went from our
parish, in the memory of man, to be a sailor, and everybody was concerned
at it, and some thought it was a great venture of his mother to let him,
his father having been lost at sea.  But what could the forlorn widow do?
She had five weans, and little to give them; and, as she herself said, he
was aye in the hand of his Maker, go where he might; and the will of God
would be done, in spite of all earthly wiles and devices to the contrary.

                    [Picture: Preparing for the Kirk]

On the Monday morning, when Charlie was to go away to meet the Irville
carrier on the road, we were all up, and I walked by myself from the
manse into the clachan to bid him farewell, and I met him just coming
from his mother’s door, as blithe as a bee, in his sailor’s dress, with a
stick, and a bundle tied in a Barcelona silk handkerchief hanging o’er
his shoulder, and his two little brothers were with him, and his sisters,
Kate and Effie, looking out from the door all begreeten; but his mother
was in the house, praying to the Lord to protect her orphan, as she
afterwards told me.  All the weans of the clachan were gathered at the
kirkyard yett to see him pass, and they gave him three great shouts as he
was going by; and everybody was at their doors, and said something
encouraging to him; but there was a great laugh when auld Mizy Spaewell
came hirpling with her bauchle in her hand, and flung it after him for
good-luck.  Mizy had a wonderful faith in freats, and was just an oracle
of sagacity at expounding dreams, and bodes of every sort and
description—besides, she was reckoned one of the best howdies in her day;
but by this time she was grown frail and feckless, and she died the same
year on Hallowe’en, which made everybody wonder that it should have so
fallen out for her to die on Hallowe’en.

Shortly after the departure of Charlie Malcolm, the Lady of Breadland,
with her three daughters, removed to Edinburgh, where the young laird,
that had been my pupil, was learning to be an advocate, and the
Breadland-house was set to Major Gilchrist, a nabob from India; but he
was a narrow ailing man, and his maiden-sister, Miss Girzie, was the
scrimpetest creature that could be; so that, in their hands, all the
pretty policy of the Breadlands, that had cost a power of money to the
old laird that was my patron, fell into decay and disorder; and the bonny
yew-trees that were cut into the shape of peacocks, soon grew out of all
shape, and are now doleful monuments of the major’s tack, and that of
Lady Skimmilk, as Miss Girzie Gilchrist, his sister, was nick-named by
every ane that kent her.

But it was not so much on account of the neglect of the Breadland, that
the incoming of Major Gilchrist was to be deplored.  The old men that had
a light labour in keeping the policy in order, were thrown out of bread,
and could do little; and the poor women that whiles got a bit and a drap
from the kitchen of the family, soon felt the change, so that by little
and little we were obligated to give help from the session; insomuch
that, before the end of the year, I was necessitated to preach a
discourse on almsgiving, specially for the benefit of our own poor, a
thing never before known in the parish.

But one good thing came from the Gilchrists to Mrs. Malcolm.  Miss
Girzie, whom they called Lady Skimmilk, had been in a very penurious way
as a seamstress, in the Gorbals of Glasgow, while her brother was making
the fortune in India, and she was a clever needle-woman—none better, as
it was said; and she, having some things to make, took Kate Malcolm to
help her in the coarse work; and Kate, being a nimble and birky thing,
was so useful to the lady, and the complaining man the major, that they
invited her to stay with them at the Breadland for the winter, where,
although she was holden to her seam from morning to night, her food
lightened the hand of her mother, who, for the first time since her
coming into the parish, found the penny for the day’s darg more than was
needed for the meal-basin; and the tea-drinking was beginning to spread
more openly, insomuch that, by the advice of the first Mrs. Balwhidder,
Mrs. Malcolm took in tea to sell, and in this way was enabled to eke
something to the small profits of her wheel.  Thus the tide that had been
so long ebbing to her, began to turn; and here I am bound in truth to
say, that although I never could abide the smuggling, both on its own
account, and the evils that grew therefrom to the country side, I lost
some of my dislike to the tea after Mrs. Malcolm began to traffic in it,
and we then had it for our breakfast in the morning at the manse, as well
as in the afternoon.  But what I thought most of it for was, that it did
no harm to the head of the drinkers, which was not always the case with
the possets that were in fashion before.  There is no meeting now in the
summer evenings, as I remember often happened in my younger days, with
decent ladies coming home with red faces, tosy and cosh, from a
posset-masking; so, both for its temperance and on account of Mrs.
Malcolm’s sale, I refrained from the November in this year to preach
against tea; but I never lifted the weight of my displeasure from off the
smuggling trade, until it was utterly put down by the strong hand of

There was no other thing of note in this year, saving only that I planted
in the garden the big pear-tree, which had the two great branches that we
call the Adam and Eve.  I got the plant, then a sapling, from Mr. Graft,
that was Lord Eaglesham’s head-gardener; and he said it was, as indeed
all the parish now knows well, a most juicy sweet pear, such as was not
known in Scotland till my lord brought down the father plant from the
king’s garden in London, in the forty-five when he went up to testify his
loyalty to the House of Hanover.

YEAR 1763

THE An. Dom. 1763, was, in many a respect, a memorable year, both in
public and in private.  The King granted peace to the French, and Charlie
Malcolm, that went to sea in the Tobacco trader, came home to see his
mother.  The ship, after being at America, had gone down to Jamaica, an
island in the West Indies, with a cargo of live lumber, as Charlie told
me himself, and had come home with more than a hundred and fifty hoggits
of sugar, and sixty-three puncheons full of rum; for she was, by all
accounts, a stately galley, and almost two hundred tons in the burthen,
being the largest vessel then sailing from the creditable town of
Port-Glasgow.  Charlie was not expected; and his coming was a great thing
to us all, so I will mention the whole particulars.

One evening, towards the gloaming, as I was taking my walk of meditation,
I saw a brisk sailor laddie coming towards me.  He had a pretty green
parrot sitting on a bundle, tied in a Barcelona silk handkerchief, which
he carried with a stick over his shoulder, and in this bundle was a
wonderful big nut, such as no one in our parish had ever seen.  It was
called a cocker-nut.  This blithe callant was Charlie Malcolm, who had
come all the way that day his leeful lane, on his own legs from Greenock,
where the Tobacco trader was then ’livering her cargo.  I told him how
his mother, and his brothers, and his sisters were all in good health,
and went to convoy him home; and as we were going along, he told me many
curious things, and he gave me six beautiful yellow limes, that he had
brought in his pouch all the way across the seas, for me to make a bowl
of punch with, and I thought more of them than if they had been golden
guineas, it was so mindful of the laddie.

When we got to the door of his mother’s house, she was sitting at the
fireside, with her three other bairns at their bread and milk, Kate being
then with Lady Skimmilk, at the Breadland, sewing.  It was between the
day and dark, when the shuttle stands still till the lamp is lighted.
But such a shout of joy and thankfulness as rose from that hearth, when
Charlie went in!  The very parrot, ye would have thought, was a
participator, for the beast gied a skraik that made my whole head dirl;
and the neighbours came flying and flocking to see what was the matter,
for it was the first parrot ever seen within the bounds of the parish,
and some thought it was but a foreign hawk, with a yellow head and green

In the midst of all this, Effie Malcolm had run off to the Breadland for
her sister Kate, and the two lassies came flying breathless, with Miss
Girzie Gilchrist, the Lady Skimmilk, pursuing them like desperation, or a
griffin, down the avenue; for Kate, in her hurry, had flung down her
seam, a new printed gown, that she was helping to make, and it had fallen
into a boyne of milk that was ready for the creaming, by which issued a
double misfortune to Miss Girzie, the gown being not only ruined, but
licking up the cream.  For this, poor Kate was not allowed ever to set
her face in the Breadland again.

When Charlie Malcolm had stayed about a week with his mother, he returned
to his berth in the Tobacco trader, and shortly after his brother Robert
was likewise sent to serve his time to the sea, with an owner that was
master of his own bark, in the coal trade at Irville.  Kate, who was
really a surprising lassie for her years, was taken off her mother’s
hands by the old Lady Macadam, that lived in her jointure house, which is
now the Cross Keys Inn.  Her ladyship was a woman of high breeding, her
husband having been a great general, and knighted by the king for his
exploits; but she was lame, and could not move about in her dining-room
without help; so hearing from the first Mrs. Balwhidder how Kate had done
such an unatonable deed to Miss Girzie Gilchrist, she sent for Kate, and,
finding her sharp and apt, she took her to live with her as a companion.
This was a vast advantage, for the lady was versed in all manner of
accomplishments, and could read and speak French with more ease than any
professor at that time in the College of Glasgow; and she had learnt to
sew flowers on satin, either in a nunnery abroad, or in a boarding-school
in England, and took pleasure in teaching Kate all she knew, and how to
behave herself like a lady.

In the summer of this year, old Mr. Patrick Dilworth, that had so long
been doited with the paralytics, died, and it was a great relief to my
people, for the heritors could no longer refuse to get a proper
schoolmaster; so we took on trial Mr. Lorimore, who has ever since the
year after, with so much credit to himself, and usefulness to the parish,
been schoolmaster, session clerk, and precentor—a man of great mildness
and extraordinary particularity.  He was then a very young man, and some
objection was made, on account of his youth, to his being session-clerk,
especially as the smuggling immorality still gave us much trouble in the
making up of irregular marriages; but his discretion was greater than
could have been hoped for from his years; and, after a twelvemonth’s
probation in the capacity of schoolmaster, he was installed in all the
offices that had belonged to his predecessor, old Mr. Patrick Dilworth
that was.

But the most memorable thing that befell among my people this year, was
the burning of the lint-mill on the Lugton water, which happened, of all
the days of the year, on the very selfsame day that Miss Girzie
Gilchrist, better known as Lady Skimmilk, hired the chaise from Mrs.
Watts of the New Inns of Irville, to go with her brother, the major, to
consult the faculty in Edinburgh concerning his complaints.  For, as the
chaise was coming by the mill, William Huckle, the miller that was, came
flying out of the mill like a demented man, crying fire!—and it was the
driver that brought the melancholy tidings to the clachan—and melancholy
they were; for the mill was utterly destroyed, and in it not a little of
all that year’s crop of lint in our parish.  The first Mrs. Balwhidder
lost upwards of twelve stone, which we had raised on the glebe with no
small pains, watering it in the drouth, as it was intended for sarking to
ourselves, and sheets and napery.  A great loss indeed it was, and the
vexation thereof had a visible effect on Mrs. Balwhidder’s health, which
from the spring had been in a dwining way.  But for it, I think she might
have wrestled through the winter: however, it was ordered otherwise, and
she was removed from mine to Abraham’s bosom on Christmas-day, and buried
on Hogmanay, for it was thought uncanny to have a dead corpse in the
house on the new-year’s day.  She was a worthy woman, studying with all
her capacity to win the hearts of my people towards me—in the which good
work she prospered greatly; so that, when she died, there was not a
single soul in the parish that was not contented with both my walk and
conversation.  Nothing could be more peaceable than the way we lived
together.  Her brother Andrew, a fine lad, I had sent to the college at
Glasgow, at my own cost; and when he came out to the burial, he stayed
with me a month, for the manse after her decease was very dull, and it
was during this visit that he gave me an inkling of his wish to go out to
India as a cadet, but the transactions anent that fall within the scope
of another year—as well as what relates to her headstone, and the epitaph
in metre, which I indicated myself thereon; John Truel the mason carving
the same, as may be seen in the kirkyard, where it wants a little
reparation and setting upright, having settled the wrong way when the
second Mrs. Balwhidder was laid by her side.—But I must not here enter
upon an anticipation.

YEAR 1764

THIS year well deserved the name of the monumental year in our parish;
for the young laird of the Breadland, that had been my pupil, being
learning to be an advocate among the faculty in Edinburgh, with his lady
mother, who had removed thither with the young ladies her daughters, for
the benefit of education, sent out to be put up in the kirk, under the
loft over the family vault, an elegant marble headstone, with an epitaph
engraven thereon, in fair Latin, setting forth many excellent qualities
which the old laird, my patron that was, the inditer thereof said he
possessed.  I say the inditer, because it couldna have been the young
laird himself, although he got the credit o’t on the stone, for he was
nae daub in my aught at the Latin or any other language.  However, he
might improve himself at Edinburgh, where a’ manner of genteel things
were then to be got at an easy rate, and doubtless the young laird got a
probationer at the College to write the epitaph; but I have often
wondered sin’ syne, how he came to make it in Latin, for assuredly his
dead parent, if he could have seen it, could not have read a single word
o’t, notwithstanding it was so vaunty about his virtues, and other civil
and hospitable qualifications.

The coming of the laird’s monumental stone had a great effect on me, then
in a state of deep despondency for the loss of the first Mrs. Balwhidder;
and I thought I could not do a better thing, just by way of diversion in
my heavy sorrow, than to get a well-shapen headstone made for her—which,
as I have hinted at in the record of the last year, was done and set up.
But a headstone without an epitaph, is no better than a body without the
breath of life in’t; and so it behoved me to make a poesy for the
monument, the which I conned and pondered upon for many days.  I thought
as Mrs. Balwhidder, worthy woman as she was, did not understand the Latin
tongue, it would not do to put on what I had to say in that language, as
the laird had done—nor indeed would it have been easy, as I found upon
the experimenting, to tell what I had to tell in Latin, which is
naturally a crabbed language, and very difficult to write properly.  I
therefore, after mentioning her age and the dates of her birth and
departure, composed in sedate poetry the following epitaph, which may yet
be seen on the tombstone.


    A lovely Christian, spouse, and friend,
    Pleasant in life, and at her end.—
    A pale consumption dealt the blow
    That laid her here, with dust below.
    Sore was the cough that shook her frame;
    That cough her patience did proclaim—
    And as she drew her latest breath,
    She said, “The Lord is sweet in death.”
    O pious reader! standing by,
    Learn like this gentle one to die.
    The grass doth grow and fade away,
    And time runs out by night and day;
    The King of Terrors has command
    To strike us with his dart in hand.
    Go where we will by flood or field,
    He will pursue and make us yield.
    But though to him we must resign
    The vesture of our part divine,
    There is a jewel in our trust,
    That will not perish in the dust,
    A pearl of price, a precious gem,
    Ordained for Jesus’ diadem;
    Therefore, be holy while you can,
    And think upon the doom of man.
    Repent in time and sin no more,
    That when the strife of life is o’er,
    On wings of love your soul may rise,
    To dwell with angels in the skies,
    Where psalms are sung eternally,
    And martyrs ne’er again shall die;
    But with the saints still bask in bliss,
    And drink the cup of blessedness.

This was greatly thought of at the time, and Mr. Lorimore, who had a
nerve for poesy himself in his younger years, was of opinion that it was
so much to the purpose, and suitable withal, that he made his scholars
write it out for their examination copies, at the reading whereof before
the heritors, when the examination of the school came round, the tear
came into my eye, and every one present sympathized with me in my great
affliction for the loss of the first Mrs. Balwhidder.

Andrew Langshaw, as I have recorded, having come from the Glasgow College
to the burial of his sister, my wife that was, stayed with me a month to
keep me company; and staying with me, he was a great cordial, for the
weather was wet and sleety, and the nights were stormy, so that I could
go little out, and few of the elders came in, they being at that time old
men in a feckless condition, not at all qualified to warsle with the
blasts of winter.  But when Andrew left me to go back to his classes, I
was eerie and lonesome; and but for the getting of the monument ready,
which was a blessed entertainment to me in those dreary nights, with
consulting anent the shape of it with John Truel, and meditating on the
verse for the epitaph, I might have gone altogether demented.  However,
it pleased Him, who is the surety of the sinner, to help me through the
Slough of Despond, and to set my feet on firm land, establishing my way

But the work of the monument, and the epitaph, could not endure for a
constancy, and after it was done, I was again in great danger of sinking
into the hypochonderies a second time.  However, I was enabled to fight
with my affliction, and by-and-by, as the spring began to open her green
lattice, and to set out her flower-pots to the sunshine, and the time of
the singing of birds was come, I became more composed, and like myself,
so I often walked in the fields, and held communion with nature, and
wondered at the mysteries thereof.

On one of these occasions, as I was sauntering along the edge of
Eaglesham-wood, looking at the industrious bee going from flower to
flower, and the idle butterfly, that layeth up no store, but perisheth
ere it is winter, I felt as it were a spirit from on high descending upon
me, a throb at my heart, and a thrill in my brain, and I was transported
out of myself, and seized with the notion of writing a book—but what it
should be about, I could not settle to my satisfaction.  Sometimes I
thought of an orthodox poem, like _Paradise Lost_, by John Milton,
wherein I proposed to treat more at large of Original Sin, and the great
mystery of Redemption; at others, I fancied that a connect treatise on
the efficacy of Free Grace would be more taking; but although I made
divers beginnings in both subjects, some new thought ever came into my
head, and the whole summer passed away and nothing was done.  I therefore
postponed my design of writing a book till the winter, when I would have
the benefit of the long nights.  Before that, however, I had other things
of more importance to think about.  My servant lasses, having no eye of a
mistress over them, wastered every thing at such a rate, and made such a
galravitching in the house, that, long before the end of the year, the
year’s stipend was all spent, and I did not know what to do.  At lang and
length I mustered courage to send for Mr. Auld, who was then living, and
an elder.  He was a douce and discreet man, fair and well-doing in the
world, and had a better handful of strong common sense than many even of
the heritors.  So I told him how I was situated, and conferred with him;
and he advised me, for my own sake, to look out for another wife as soon
as decency would allow, which he thought might very properly be after the
turn of the year, by which time the first Mrs. Balwhidder would be dead
more than twelve months; and when I mentioned my design to write a book,
he said, (and he was a man of good discretion), that the doing of the
book was a thing that would keep, but masterful servants were a growing
evil; so, upon his counselling, I resolved not to meddle with the book
till I was married again, but employ the interim, between then and the
turn of the year, in looking out for a prudent woman to be my second
wife, strictly intending, as I did perform, not to mint a word about my
choice, if I made one, till the whole twelve months and a day, from the
date of the first Mrs. Balwhidder’s interment, had run out.

                        [Picture: Sabbath Morning]

In this the hand of Providence was very visible, and lucky for me it was
that I had sent for Mr. Auld when I did send, as the very week following,
a sound began to spread in the parish, that one of my lassies had got
herself with bairn, which was an awful thing to think had happened in the
house of her master, and that master a minister of the gospel.  Some
there were, for backbiting appertaineth to all conditions, that jealoused
and wondered if I had not a finger in the pie; which, when Mr. Auld
heard, he bestirred himself in such a manful and godly way in my defence,
as silenced the clash, telling that I was utterly incapable of any such
thing, being a man of a guileless heart, and a spiritual simplicity, that
would be ornamental in a child.  We then had the latheron summoned before
the session, and was not long of making her confess that the father was
Nichol Snipe, Lord Glencairn’s gamekeeper; and both her and Nichol were
obligated to stand in the kirk: but Nichol was a graceless reprobate, for
he came with two coats, one buttoned behind him, and another buttoned
before him, and two wigs of my lord’s, lent him by the valet-de-chamer;
the one over his face, and the other in the right way; and he stood with
his face to the church-wall.  When I saw him from the poopit, I said to
him—“Nichol, you must turn your face towards me!”  At the which, he
turned round to be sure, but there he presented the same show as his
back.  I was confounded, and did not know what to say, but cried out with
a voice of anger—“Nichol, Nichol! if ye had been a’ back, ye wouldna hae
been there this day;” which had such an effect on the whole congregation,
that the poor fellow suffered afterwards more derision, than if I had
rebuked him in the manner prescribed by the session.

This affair, with the previous advice of Mr. Auld, was, however, a
warning to me, that no pastor of his parish should be long without a
helpmate.  Accordingly, as soon as the year was out, I set myself
earnestly about the search for one; but as the particulars fall properly
within the scope and chronicle of the next year, I must reserve them for
it; and I do not recollect that any thing more particular befell in this,
excepting that William Mutchkins, the father of Mr. Mutchkins, the great
spirit-dealer in Glasgow, set up a change-house in the clachan, which was
the first in the parish, and which, if I could have helped, would have
been the last; for it was opening a howf to all manner of wickedness, and
was an immediate get and offspring of the smuggling trade, against which
I had so set my countenance.  But William Mutchkins himself was a
respectable man, and no house could be better ordered than his change.
At a stated hour he made family worship, for he brought up his children
in the fear of God and the Christian religion; and although the house was
full, he would go in to the customers, and ask them if they would want
anything for half an hour, for that he was going to make exercise with
his family; and many a wayfaring traveller has joined in the prayer.
There is no such thing, I fear, nowadays, of publicans entertaining
travellers in this manner.

YEAR 1765

AS there was little in the last year that concerned the parish, but only
myself, so in this the like fortune continued; and saving a rise in the
price of barley, occasioned, as was thought, by the establishment of a
house for brewing whisky in a neighbouring parish, it could not be said
that my people were exposed to the mutations and influences of the stars,
which ruled in the seasons of Ann. Dom. 1765.  In the winter there was a
dearth of fuel, such as has not been since; for when the spring loosened
the bonds of the ice, three new coal-heughs were shanked in the Douray
moor, and ever since there has been a great plenty of that necessary
article.  Truly, it is very wonderful to see how things come round.  When
the talk was about the shanking of their heughs, and a paper to get folk
to take shares in them, was carried through the circumjacent parishes, it
was thought a gowk’s errand; but no sooner was the coal reached, but up
sprung such a traffic, that it was a godsend to the parish, and the
opening of a trade and commerce, that has, to use an old byword, brought
gold in gowpins amang us.  From that time my stipend has been on the
regular increase, and therefore I think that the incoming of the heritors
must have been in like manner augmented.

Soon after this, the time was drawing near for my second marriage.  I had
placed my affections, with due consideration, on Miss Lizy Kibbock, the
well brought-up daughter of Mr. Joseph Kibbock of the Gorbyholm, who was
the first that made a speculation in the farming way in Ayrshire, and
whose cheese were of such an excellent quality, that they have, under the
name of Delap-cheese, spread far and wide over the civilized world.  Miss
Lizy and me were married on the 29th day of April, with some
inconvenience to both sides, on account of the dread that we had of being
married in May; for it is said—

    “Of the marriages in May,
    The bairns die of a decay.”

However, married we were, and we hired the Irville chaise, and with Miss
Jenny her sister, and Becky Cairns her niece, who sat on a portmanty at
our feet, we went on a pleasure jaunt to Glasgow, where we bought a
miracle of useful things for the manse, that neither the first Mrs.
Balwhidder nor me ever thought of; but the second Mrs. Balwhidder that
was, had a geni for management, and it was extraordinary what she could
go through.  Well may I speak of her with commendations; for she was the
bee that made my honey, although at first things did not go so clear with
us.  For she found the manse rookit and herrit, and there was such a
supply of plenishing of all sort wanted, that I thought myself ruined and
undone by her care and industry.  There was such a buying of wool to make
blankets, with a booming of the meikle wheel to spin the same, and such
birring of the little wheel for sheets and napery, that the manse was for
many a day like an organ kist.  Then we had milk cows, and the calves to
bring up, and a kirning of butter, and a making of cheese; in short, I
was almost by myself with the jangle and din, which prevented me from
writing a book as I had proposed, and I for a time thought of the
peaceful and kindly nature of the first Mrs. Balwhidder with a sigh; but
the outcoming was soon manifest.  The second Mrs. Balwhidder sent her
butter on the market-days to Irville, and her cheese from time to time to
Glasgow, to Mrs. Firlot, that kept the huxtry in the Saltmarket; and they
were both so well made, that our dairy was just a coining of money,
insomuch that, after the first year, we had the whole tot of my stipend
to put untouched into the bank.

But I must say, that although we were thus making siller like sclate
stones, I was not satisfied in my own mind that I had got the manse
merely to be a factory of butter and cheese, and to breed up veal calves
for the slaughter; so I spoke to the second Mrs. Balwhidder, and pointed
out to her what I thought the error of our way; but she had been so
ingrained with the profitable management of cows and grumphies in her
father’s house, that she could not desist, at the which I was greatly
grieved.  By-and-by, however, I began to discern that there was something
as good in her example, as the giving of alms to the poor folk; for all
the wives of the parish were stirred up by it into a wonderful thrift,
and nothing was heard of in every house, but of quiltings and wabs to
weave; insomuch that, before many years came round, there was not a
better stocked parish, with blankets and napery, than mine was, within
the bounds of Scotland.

It was about the Michaelmas of this year that Mrs. Malcolm opened her
shop, which she did chiefly on the advice of Mrs. Balwhidder, who said it
was far better to allow a little profit on the different haberdasheries
that might be wanted, than to send to the neighbouring towns an end’s
errand on purpose for them, none of the lasses that were so sent ever
thinking of making less than a day’s play on every such occasion.  In a
word, it is not to be told how the second Mrs. Balwhidder, my wife,
showed the value of flying time, even to the concerns of this world, and
was the mean of giving a life and energy to the housewifery of the
parish, that has made many a one beek his shins in comfort, that would
otherwise have had but a cold coal to blow at.  Indeed, Mr. Kibbock, her
father, was a man beyond the common, and had an insight of things, by
which he was enabled to draw profit and advantage, where others could
only see risk and detriment.  He planted mounts of fir-trees on the bleak
and barren tops of the hills of his farm, the which everybody, and I
among the rest, considered as a thrashing of the water and raising of
bells.  But as his rack ran his trees grew, and the plantations supplied
him with stabs to make _stake and rice_ between his fields, which soon
gave them a trig and orderly appearance, such as had never before been
seen in the west country; and his example has, in this matter, been so
followed, that I have heard travellers say, who have been in foreign
countries, that the shire of Ayr, for its bonny round green plantings on
the tops of the hills, is above comparison either with Italy or
Switzerland, where the hills are, as it were, in a state of nature.

Upon the whole, this was a busy year in the parish, and the seeds of many
great improvements were laid.  The king’s road, the which then ran
through the Vennel, was mended; but it was not till some years after, as
I shall record by-and-by, that the trust-road, as it was called, was
made, the which had the effect of turning the town inside out.

Before I conclude, it is proper to mention that the kirk-bell, which had
to this time, from time immemorial, hung on an ash-tree, was one stormy
night cast down by the breaking of the branch, which was the cause of the
heritors agreeing to build the steeple.  The clock was a mortification to
the parish from the Lady Breadland, when she died some years after.

YEAR 1766

IT was in this Ann. Dom. that the great calamity happened, the which took
place on a Sabbath evening in the month of February.  Mrs. Balwhidder had
just infused or masket the tea, and we were set round the fireside, to
spend the night in an orderly and religious manner, along with Mr. and
Mrs. Petticrew, who were on a friendly visitation to the manse, the
mistress being full cousin to Mrs. Balwhidder.—Sitting, as I was saying,
at our tea, one of the servant lasses came into the room with a sort of a
panic laugh, and said, “What are ye all doing there when the Breadland’s
in a low?”—“The Breadland in a low!” cried I.—“Oh, ay!” cried she;
“bleezing at the windows and the rigging, and out at the lum, like a
killogie.”  Upon the which, we all went to the door, and there, to be
sure, we did see that the Breadland was burning, the flames crackling
high out o’er the trees, and the sparks flying like a comet’s tail in the

Seeing this sight, I said to Mr. Petticrew, that, in the strength of the
Lord, I would go and see what could be done, for it was as plain as the
sun in the heavens that the ancient place of the Breadlands would be
destroyed; whereupon he accorded to go with me, and we walked at a lively
course to the spot, and the people from all quarters were pouring in, and
it was an awsome scene.  But the burning of the house, and the droves of
the multitude, were nothing to what we saw when we got forenent the
place.  There was the rafters crackling, the flames raging, the servants
running, some with bedding, some with looking-glasses, and others with
chamber utensils as little likely to be fuel to the fire, but all
testifications to the confusion and alarm.  Then there was a shout,
“Whar’s Miss Girzie? whar’s the Major?”  The Major, poor man, soon cast
up, lying upon a feather-bed, ill with his complaints, in the garden; but
Lady Skimmilk was nowhere to be found.  At last, a figure was seen in the
upper flat, pursued by the flames, and that was Miss Girzie.  Oh! it was
a terrible sight to look at her in that jeopardy at the window, with her
gold watch in the one hand and the silver teapot in the other, skreighing
like desperation for a ladder and help.  But, before a ladder or help
could be found, the floor sunk down, and the roof fell in, and poor Miss
Girzie, with her idols, perished in the burning.  It was a dreadful
business!  I think, to this hour, how I saw her at the window, how the
fire came in behind her, and claught her like a fiery Belzebub, and bore
her into perdition before our eyes.  The next morning the atomy of the
body was found among the rubbish, with a piece of metal in what had been
each of its hands, no doubt the gold watch and the silver teapot.  Such
was the end of Miss Girzie; and the Breadland, which the young laird, my
pupil that was, by growing a resident at Edinburgh, never rebuilt.  It
was burnt to the very ground; nothing was spared but what the servants in
the first flaught gathered up in a hurry and ran with; but no one could
tell how the Major, who was then, as it was thought by the faculty, past
the power of nature to recover, got out of the house, and was laid on the
feather-bed in the garden.  However, he never got the better of that
night, and before Whitsunday he was dead too, and buried beside his
sister’s bones at the south side of the kirkyard dyke, where his cousin’s
son, that was his heir, erected the handsome monument, with the three
urns and weeping cherubims, bearing witness to the great valour of the
Major among the Hindoos, as well as other commendable virtues, for which,
as the epitaph says, he was universally esteemed and beloved, by all who
knew him, in his public and private capacity.

But although the burning of the Breadland-House was justly called the
great calamity, on account of what happened to Miss Girzie with her gold
watch and silver teapot; yet, as Providence never fails to bring good out
of evil, it turned out a catastrophe that proved advantageous to the
parish; for the laird, instead of thinking to build it up, was advised to
let the policy out as a farm, and the tack was taken by Mr. Coulter, than
whom there had been no such man in the agriculturing line among us
before, not even excepting Mr. Kibbock of the Gorbyholm, my father-in-law
that was.  Of the stabling, Mr. Coulter made a comfortable
dwelling-house; and having rugget out the evergreens and other
unprofitable plants, saving the twa ancient yew-trees which the
near-begaun Major and his sister had left to go to ruin about the
mansion-house, he turned all to production, and it was wonderful what an
increase he made the land bring forth.  He was from far beyond Edinburgh,
and had got his insight among the Lothian farmers, so that he knew what
crop should follow another, and nothing could surpass the regularity of
his rigs and furrows.—Well do I remember the admiration that I had, when,
in a fine sunny morning of the first spring after he took the Breadland,
I saw his braird on what had been the cows’ grass, as even and pretty as
if it had been worked and stripped in the loom with a shuttle.  Truly,
when I look back at the example he set, and when I think on the method
and dexterity of his management, I must say, that his coming to the
parish was a great godsend, and tended to do far more for the benefit of
my people, than if the young laird had rebuilded the Breadland-House in a
fashionable style, as was at one time spoken of.

But the year of the great calamity was memorable for another thing:—in
the December foregoing, the wind blew, as I have recorded in the
chronicle of the last year, and broke down the bough of the tree whereon
the kirk-bell had hung from the time, as was supposed, of the
persecution, before the bringing over of King William.  Mr. Kibbock, my
father-in-law then that was, being a man of a discerning spirit, when he
heard of the unfortunate fall of the bell, advised me to get the heritors
to big a steeple; but which, when I thought of the expense, I was afraid
to do.  He, however, having a great skill in the heart of man, gave me no
rest on the subject; but told me, that if I allowed the time to go by
till the heritors were used to come to the kirk without a bell, I would
get no steeple at all.  I often wondered what made Mr. Kibbock so fond of
a steeple, which is a thing that I never could see a good reason for,
saving that it is an ecclesiastical adjunct, like the gown and bands.
However, he set me on to get a steeple proposed, and after no little
argol-bargling with the heritors, it was agreed to.  This was chiefly
owing to the instrumentality of Lady Moneyplack, who, in that winter, was
much subjected to the rheumatics, she having, one cold and raw Sunday
morning, there being no bell to announce the time, come half an hour too
soon to the kirk, made her bestir herself to get an interest awakened
among the heritors in behalf of a steeple.

But when the steeple was built, a new contention arose.  It was thought
that the bell, which had been used in the ash-tree, would not do in a
stone and lime fabric; so, after great agitation among the heritors, it
was resolved to sell the old bell to a foundery in Glasgow, and buy a new
bell suitable to the steeple, which was a very comely fabric.  The buying
of the new bell led to other considerations, and the old Lady Breadland,
being at the time in a decaying condition, and making her will, she left
a mortification to the parish, as I have intimated, to get a clock; so
that, by the time the steeple was finished, and the bell put up, the Lady
Breadland’s legacy came to be implemented, according to the ordination of
the testatrix.

Of the casualities that happened in this year, I should not forget to put
down, as a thing for remembrance, that an aged woman, one Nanse Birrel, a
distillator of herbs, and well skilled in the healing of sores, who had a
great repute among the quarriers and colliers—she having gone to the
physic well in the sandy hills to draw water, was found, with her feet
uppermost in the well, by some of the bairns of Mr. Lorimore’s school;
and there was a great debate whether Nanse had fallen in by accident head
foremost, or, in a temptation, thrown herself in that position, with her
feet sticking up to the evil one; for Nanse was a curious discontented
blear-eyed woman, and it was only with great ado that I could get the
people keepit from calling her a witchwife.

I should likewise place on record, that the first ass that had ever been
seen in this part of the country, came in the course of this year with a
gang of tinklers, that made horn-spoons and mended bellows.  Where they
came from never was well made out; but being a blackaviced crew, they
were generally thought to be Egyptians.  They tarried about a week among
us, living in tents, with their little ones squattling among the litter;
and one of the older men of them set and tempered to me two razors, that
were as good as nothing, but which he made better than when they were

                       [Picture: The Old Ploughman]

Shortly after, but I am not quite sure whether it was in the end of this
year, or the beginning of the next, although I have a notion that it was
in this, there came over from Ireland a troop of wild Irish, seeking for
work as they said; but they made free quarters, for they herrit the
roosts of the clachan, and cutted the throat of a sow of ours, the
carcass of which they no doubt intended to steal; but something came over
them, and it was found lying at the back side of the manse, to the great
vexation of Mrs. Balwhidder; for she had set her mind on a clecking of
pigs, and only waited for the China boar, that had been brought down from
London by Lord Eaglesham, to mend the breed of pork—a profitable
commodity, that her father, Mr. Kibbock, cultivated for the Glasgow
market.  The destruction of our sow, under such circumstances, was
therefore held to be a great crime and cruelty, and it had the effect to
raise up such a spirit in the clachan, that the Irish were obligated to
decamp; and they set out for Glasgow, where one of them was afterwards
hanged for a fact, but the truth concerning how he did it, I either never
heard, or it has passed from my mind, like many other things I should
have carefully treasured.

YEAR 1767

ALL things in our parish were now beginning to shoot up into a great
prosperity.  The spirit of farming began to get the upper hand of the
spirit of smuggling, and the coal-heughs that had been opened in the
Douray, now brought a pour of money among us.  In the manse, the thrift
and frugality of the second Mrs. Balwhidder throve exceedingly, so that
we could save the whole stipend for the bank.

The king’s highway, as I have related in the foregoing, ran through the
Vennel, which was a narrow and a crooked street, with many big stones
here and there, and every now and then, both in the spring and the fall,
a gathering of middens for the fields; insomuch that the coal-carts from
the Douray moor were often reested in the middle of the causey, and on
more than one occasion some of them laired altogether in the middens, and
others of them broke down.  Great complaint was made by the carters anent
these difficulties, and there was, for many a day, a talk and sound of an
alteration and amendment; but nothing was fulfilled in the matter till
the month of March in this year, when the Lord Eaglesham was coming from
London to see the new lands that he had bought in our parish.  His
lordship was a man of a genteel spirit, and very fond of his horses,
which were the most beautiful creatures of their kind that had been seen
in all the country side.  Coming, as I was noting, to see his new lands,
he was obliged to pass through the clachan one day, when all the middens
were gathered out, reeking and sappy, in the middle of the causey.  Just
as his lordship was driving in with his prancing steeds, like a Jehu, at
one end of the vennel, a long string of loaded coal-carts came in at the
other, and there was hardly room for my lord to pass them.  What was to
be done?  His lordship could not turn back, and the coal-carts were in no
less perplexity.  Every body was out of doors to see and to help; when,
in trying to get his lordship’s carriage over the top of a midden, the
horses gave a sudden loup, and couped the coach, and threw my lord, head
foremost, into the very scent-bottle of the whole commodity, which made
him go perfect mad, and he swore like a trooper that he would get an act
of parliament to put down the nuisance—the which now ripened in the
course of this year into the undertaking of the trust-road.

His lordship, being in a woeful plight, left the carriage and came to the
manse, till his servant went to the castle for a change for him; but he
could not wait nor abide himself: so he got the lend of my best suit of
clothes, and was wonderful jocose both with Mrs. Balwhidder and me, for
he was a portly man, and I but a thin body, and it was really a droll
curiosity to see his lordship clad in my garments.

Out of this accident grew a sort of a neighbourliness between that Lord
Eaglesham and me; so that when Andrew Lanshaw, the brother that was of
the first Mrs. Balwhidder, came to think of going to India, I wrote to my
lord for his behoof, and his lordship got him sent out as a cadet, and
was extraordinary discreet to Andrew when he went up to London to take
his passage, speaking to him of me as if I had been a very saint, which
the Searcher of Hearts knows I am far from thinking myself.

But to return to the making of the trust-road, which, as I have said,
turned the town inside out.  It was agreed among the heritors, that it
should run along the back side of the south houses; and that there should
be steadings fued off on each side, according to a plan that was laid
down; and this being gone into, the town gradually, in the course of
years, grew up into that orderlyness which makes it now a pattern to the
country side—all which was mainly owing to the accident that befell the
Lord Eaglesham, which is a clear proof how improvements come about, as it
were, by the immediate instigation of Providence, which should make the
heart of man humble, and change his eyes of pride and haughtiness into a
lowly demeanour.

But although this making of the trust-road was surely a great thing for
the parish, and of an advantage to my people, we met, in this year, with
a loss not to be compensated—that was the death of Nanse Banks, the
schoolmistress.  She had been long in a weak and frail state; but being a
methodical creature, still kept on the school, laying the foundation for
many a worthy wife and mother.  However, about the decline of the year
her complaints increased, and she sent for me to consult about her giving
up the school; and I went to see her on Saturday afternoon, when the bit
lassies, her scholars, had put the house in order, and gone home till the

She was sitting in the window-nook, reading THE WORD to herself, when I
entered; but she closed the book, and put her spectacles in for a mark
when she saw me; and, as it was expected I would come, her easy-chair,
with a clean cover, had been set out for me by the scholars, by which I
discerned that there was something more than common to happen, and so it
appeared when I had taken my seat.

“Sir,” said she, “I hae sent for you on a thing troubles me sairly.  I
have warsled with poortith in this shed, which it has pleased the Lord to
allow me to possess; but my strength is worn out, and I fear I maun yield
in the strife;” and she wiped her eye with her apron.  I told her,
however, to be of good cheer; and then she said, “That she could no
longer thole the din of the school, and that she was weary, and ready to
lay herself down to die whenever the Lord was pleased to permit.”  “But,”
continued she, “what can I do without the school; and, alas!  I can
neither work nor want; and I am wae to go on the session, for I am come
of a decent family.”  I comforted her, and told her, that I thought she
had done so much good in the parish, that the session was deep in her
debt, and that what they might give her was but a just payment for her
service.  “I would rather, however, sir,” said she, “try first what some
of my auld scholars will do, and it was for that I wanted to speak with
you.  If some of them would but just, from time to time, look in upon me,
that I may not die alane; and the little pick and drap that I require
would not be hard upon them—I am more sure that in this way their
gratitude would be no discredit, than I am of having any claim on the

As I had always a great respect for an honest pride, I assured her that I
would do what she wanted; and accordingly, the very morning after, being
Sabbath, I preached a sermon on the helplessness of them that have no
help of man, meaning aged single women, living in garret-rooms, whose
forlorn state, in the gloaming of life, I made manifest to the hearts and
understandings of the congregation, in such a manner that many shed
tears, and went away sorrowful.

Having thus roused the feelings of my people, I went round the houses on
the Monday morning, and mentioned what I had to say more particularly
about poor old Nanse Banks, the schoolmistress, and truly I was rejoiced
at the condition of the hearts of my people.  There was a universal
sympathy among them; and it was soon ordered that, what with one and
another, her decay should be provided for.  But it was not ordained that
she should be long heavy on their good-will.  On the Monday the school
was given up, and there was nothing but wailing among the bit lassies,
the scholars, for getting the vacance, as the poor things said, because
the mistress was going to lie down to dee.  And, indeed, so it came to
pass; for she took to her bed the same afternoon, and, in the course of
the week, dwindled away, and slipped out of this howling wilderness into
the kingdom of heaven, on the Sabbath following, as quietly as a blessed
saint could do.  And here I should mention, that the Lady Macadam, when I
told her of Nanse Banks’s case, enquired if she was a snuffer, and, being
answered by me that she was, her ladyship sent her a pretty French enamel
box full of macabaw, a fine snuff that she had in a bottle; and, among
the macabaw, was found a guinea, at the bottom of the box, after Nanse
Banks had departed this life, which was a kind thing of Lady Macadam to

About the close of this year there was a great sough of old prophecies,
foretelling mutations and adversities, chiefly on account of the canal
that was spoken of to join the rivers of the Clyde and the Forth, it
being thought an impossible thing to be done; and the Adam and Eve
pear-tree, in our garden, budded out in an awful manner, and had divers
flourishes on it at Yule, which was thought an ominous thing, especially
as the second Mrs. Balwhidder was at the downlying with my eldest son
Gilbert, that is, the merchant in Glasgow; but nothing came o’t, and the
howdie said she had an easy time when the child came into the world,
which was on the very last day of the year, to the great satisfaction of
me, and of my people, who were wonderful lifted up because their minister
had a man-child born unto him.

YEAR 1768

IT’S a surprising thing how time flieth away, carrying off our youth and
strength, and leaving us nothing but wrinkles and the ails of old age.
Gilbert, my son, that is now a corpulent man, and a Glasgow merchant,
when I take up my pen to record the memorables of this Ann. Dom., seems
to me yet but a suckling in swaddling clothes, mewing and peevish in the
arms of his mother, that has been long laid in the cold kirkyard, beside
her predecessor, in Abraham’s bosom.  It is not, however, my design to
speak much anent my own affairs, which would be a very improper and
uncomely thing, but only of what happened in the parish, this book being
for a witness and testimony of my ministry.  Therefore, setting out of
view both me and mine, I will now resuscitate the concerns of Mrs.
Malcolm and her children; for, as I think, never was there such a visible
preordination seen in the lives of any persons, as was seen in that of
this worthy decent woman, and her well-doing off-spring.  Her morning was
raw, and a sore blight fell upon her fortunes; but the sun looked out on
her midday, and her evening closed loun and warm; and the stars of the
firmament, that are the eyes of heaven, beamed as it were with gladness,
when she lay down to sleep the sleep of rest.

Her son Charles was by this time grown up into a stout buirdly lad, and
it was expected that, before the return of the Tobacco trader, he would
have been out of his time, and a man afore the mast, which was a great
step of preferment, as I heard say by persons skilled in seafaring
concerns.  But this was not ordered to happen; for, when the Tobacco
trader was lying in the harbour of Virginia in the North Americas, a
pressgang, that was in need of men for a man-of-war, came on board, and
pressed poor Charles, and sailed away with him on a cruise, nobody, for
many a day, could tell where, till I thought of the Lord Eaglesham’s
kindness.  His lordship having something to say with the king’s
government, I wrote to him, telling him who I was, and how jocose he had
been when buttoned in my clothes, that he might recollect me, thanking
him, at the same time, for his condescension and patronage to Andrew
Lanshaw, in his way to the East Indies.  I then slipped in, at the end of
the letter, a bit nota-bene concerning the case of Charles Malcolm,
begging his lordship, on account of the poor lad’s widow mother, to
enquire at the government if they could tell us any thing about Charles.
In the due course of time, I got a most civil reply from his lordship,
stating all about the name of the man-of-war, and where she was; and at
the conclusion his lordship said, that I was lucky in having the brother
of a Lord of the Admiralty on this occasion for my agent, as otherwise,
from the vagueness of my statement, the information might not have been
procured; which remark of his lordship was long a great riddle to me; for
I could not think what he meant about an agent, till, in the course of
the year, we heard that his own brother was concerned in the admiralty;
so that all his lordship meant was only to crack a joke with me, and that
he was ever ready and free to do, as shall be related in the sequel, for
he was an excellent man.

There being a vacancy for a schoolmistress, it was proposed to Mrs.
Malcolm, that, under her superintendence, her daughter Kate, that had
been learning great artifices in needle-work so long with Lady Macadam,
should take up the school, and the session undertook to make good to Kate
the sum of five pounds sterling per annum, over and above what the
scholars were to pay.  But Mrs. Malcolm said she had not strength herself
to warsle with so many unruly brats, and that Kate, though a fine lassie,
was a tempestuous spirit, and might lame some of the bairns in her
passion; and that selfsame night, Lady Macadam wrote me a very
complaining letter, for trying to wile away her companion; but her
ladyship was a canary-headed woman, and given to flights and tantrums,
having in her youth been a great toast among the quality.  It would,
however, have saved her from a sore heart, had she never thought of
keeping Kate Malcolm.  For this year her only son, who was learning the
art of war at an academy in France, came to pay her, his lady mother, a
visit.  He was a brisk and light-hearted stripling, and Kate Malcolm was
budding into a very rose of beauty; so between them a hankering began,
which, for a season, was productive of great heaviness of heart to the
poor old cripple lady; indeed, she assured me herself, that all her
rheumatics were nothing to the heart-ache which she suffered in the
progress of this business.  But that will be more treated of hereafter;
suffice it to say for the present, that we have thus recorded how the
plan for making Kate Malcolm our schoolmistress came to nought.  It
pleased, however, Him, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, to
send at this time among us a Miss Sabrina Hooky, the daughter of old Mr.
Hooky, who had been schoolmaster in a neighbouring parish.  She had gone,
after his death, to live with an auntie in Glasgow, that kept a shop in
the Gallowgate.  It was thought that the old woman would have left her
heir to all her gatherings, and so she said she would, but alas! our life
is but within our lip.  Before her testament was made, she was carried
suddenly off by an apoplectick, an awful monument of the uncertainty of
time and the nearness of eternity, in her own shop, as she was in the
very act of weighing out an ounce of snuff to a professor of the College,
as Miss Sabrina herself told me.  Being thus destitute, it happened that
Miss Sabrina heard of the vacancy in our parish, as it were, just by the
cry of a passing bird, for she could not tell how; although I judge
myself that William Keckle the elder had a hand in it, as he was at the
time in Glasgow; and she wrote me a wonderful well-penned letter
bespeaking the situation, which letter came to hand on the morn following
Lady Macadam’s stramash to me about Kate Malcolm, and I laid it before
the session the same day; so that, by the time her auntie’s concern was
taken off her hands, she had a home and a howf among us to come in, to
the which she lived upwards of thirty years in credit and respect,
although some thought she had not the art of her predecessor, and was
more uppish in her carriage than befitted the decorum of her vocation.
Hers, however, was but a harmless vanity; and, poor woman, she needed all
manner of graces to set her out; for she was made up of odds and ends,
and had but one good eye, the other being blind, and just like a blue
bead.  At first she plainly set her cap for Mr. Lorimore, but after
oggling and goggling at him every Sunday in the kirk for a whole
half-year and more, Miss Sabrina desisted in despair.

But the most remarkable thing about her coming into the parish, was the
change that took place in Christian names among us.  Old Mr. Hooky, her
father, had, from the time he read his Virgil, maintained a sort of
intromission with the nine muses, by which he was led to baptize her
Sabrina, after a name mentioned by John Milton in one of his works.  Miss
Sabrina began by calling our Jennies Jessies, and our Nannies Nancies;
alas! I have lived to see even these likewise grow old-fashioned.  She
had also a taste in the mantua-making line, which she had learnt in
Glasgow; and I could date from the very Sabbath of her first appearance
in the kirk, a change growing in the garb of the younger lassies, who
from that day began to lay aside the silken plaidie over the head, the
which had been the pride and bravery of their grandmothers; and instead
of the snood, that was so snod and simple, they hided their heads in
round-eared bees-cap mutches, made of gauze and catgut, and other curious
contrivances of French millendery; all which brought a deal of custom to
Miss Sabrina, over and above the incomings and Candlemas offerings of
school; insomuch that she saved money, and in the course of three years
had ten pounds to put in the bank.

At the time, these alterations and revolutions in the parish were thought
a great advantage; but now when I look back upon them, as a traveller on
the hill over the road he has passed, I have my doubts.  For with wealth
come wants, like a troop of clamorous beggars at the heels of a generous
man; and it’s hard to tell wherein the benefit of improvement in a
country parish consists, especially to those who live by the sweat of
their brow.  But it is not for me to make reflections; my task and duty
is to note the changes of time and habitudes.

YEAR 1769

I HAVE my doubts whether it was in the beginning of this year, or in the
end of the last, that a very extraordinary thing came to light in the
parish; but, howsoever that may be, there is nothing more certain than
the fact, which it is my duty to record.  I have mentioned already how it
was that the toll, or trust-road, was set a-going, on account of the Lord
Eaglesham’s tumbling on the midden in the Vennel.  Well, it happened to
one of the labouring men, in breaking the stones to make metal for the
new road, that he broke a stone that was both large and remarkable, and
in the heart of it, which was boss, there was found a living creature,
that jumped out the moment it saw the light of heaven, to the great
terrification of the man, who could think it was nothing but an evil
spirit that had been imprisoned therein for a time.  The man came to me
like a demented creature, and the whole clachan gathered out, young and
old, and I went at their head to see what the miracle could be, for the
man said it was a fiery dragon, spewing smoke and flames.  But when we
came to the spot, it was just a yird toad, and the laddie weans nevelled
it to death with stones, before I could persuade them to give over.
Since then, I have read of such things coming to light in the _Scots
Magazine_, a very valuable book.

                       [Picture: The Elder’s Wife]

Soon after the affair of “the wee deil in the stane,” as it was called, a
sough reached us that the Americas were seized with the rebellious spirit
of the ten tribes, and were snapping their fingers in the face of the
king’s government.  The news came on a Saturday night, for we had no
newspapers in those days, and was brought by Robin Modiwort, that fetched
the letters from the Irville post.  Thomas Fullarton (he has been dead
many a day) kept the grocery shop at Irville, and he had been in at
Glasgow, as was his yearly custom, to settle his accounts, and to buy a
hogshead of tobacco, with sugar and other spiceries; and being in
Glasgow, Thomas was told by the merchant of a great rise in tobacco, that
had happened by reason of the contumacity of the plantations, and it was
thought that blood would be spilt before things were ended, for that the
King and Parliament were in a great passion with them.  But as Charles
Malcolm, in the king’s ship, was the only one belonging to the parish
that was likely to be art and part in the business, we were in a manner
little troubled at the time with this first gasp of the monster of war,
who, for our sins, was ordained to swallow up and devour so many of our
fellow-subjects, before he was bound again in the chains of mercy and

I had, in the meantime, written a letter to the Lord Eaglesham, to get
Charles Malcolm out of the clutches of the pressgang in the man-of-war;
and about a month after, his lordship sent me an answer, wherein was
enclosed a letter from the captain of the ship, saying, that Charles
Malcolm was so good a man that he was reluctant to part with him, and
that Charles himself was well contented to remain aboard.  Anent which,
his lordship said to me, that he had written back to the captain to make
a midshipman of Charles, and that he would take him under his own
protection, which was great joy on two accounts to us all, especially to
his mother; first, to hear that Charles was a good man, although in years
still but a youth; and, secondly, that my lord had, of his own free-will,
taken him under the wing of his patronage.

But the sweet of this world is never to be enjoyed without some of the
sour.  The coal bark between Irville and Belfast, in which Robert
Malcolm, the second son of his mother, was serving his time to be a
sailor, got a charter, as it was called, to go with to Norway for deals,
which grieved Mrs. Malcolm to the very heart; for there was then no short
cut by the canal, as now is, between the rivers of the Forth and Clyde,
but every ship was obligated to go far away round by the Orkneys, which,
although a voyage in the summer not overly dangerous, there being long
days and short nights then, yet in the winter it was far otherwise, many
vessels being frozen up in the Baltic till the spring; and there was a
story told at the time, of an Irville bark coming home in the dead of the
year, that lost her way altogether, and was supposed to have sailed north
into utter darkness, for she was never more heard of: and many an awful
thing was said of what the auld mariners about the shore thought
concerning the crew of that misfortunate vessel.  However, Mrs. Malcolm
was a woman of great faith, and having placed her reliance on Him who is
the orphan’s stay and widow’s trust, she resigned her bairn into his
hands, with a religious submission to his pleasure, though the mother’s
tear of weak human nature was on her cheek and in her e’e.  And her faith
was well rewarded, for the vessel brought him safe home, and he had seen
such a world of things, that it was just to read a story-book to hear him
tell of Elsineur and Gottenburg, and other fine and great places that we
had never heard of till that time; and he brought me a bottle of Riga
balsam, which for healing cuts was just miraculous, besides a clear
bottle of Rososolus for his mother, a spirit which for cordiality could
not be told; for though since that time we have had many a sort of
Dantzic cordial, I have never tasted any to compare with Robin Malcolm’s
Rososolus.  The Lady Macadam, who had a knowledge of such things,
declared it was the best of the best sort; for Mrs. Malcolm sent her
ladyship some of it in a doctor’s bottle, as well as to Mrs. Balwhidder,
who was then at the downlying with our daughter Janet—a woman now in the
married state, that makes a most excellent wife, having been brought up
with great pains, and well educated, as I shall have to record by-and-by.

About the Christmas of this year, Lady Macadam’s son having been
perfected in the art of war at a school in France, had, with the help of
his mother’s friends, and his father’s fame, got a stand of colours in
the Royal Scots regiment; he came to show himself in his regimentals to
his lady mother, like a dutiful son, as he certainly was.  It happened
that he was in the kirk in his scarlets and gold, on the same Sunday that
Robert Malcolm came home from the long voyage to Norway for deals; and I
thought when I saw the soldier and the sailor from the pulpit, that it
was an omen of war, among our harmless country folks, like swords and
cannon amidst ploughs and sickles, coming upon us; and I became laden in
spirit, and had a most weighty prayer upon the occasion, which was long
after remembered, many thinking, when the American war broke out, that I
had been gifted with a glimmering of prophecy on that day.

It was during this visit to his lady mother, that young Laird Macadam
settled the correspondence with Kate Malcolm, which, in the process of
time, caused us all so much trouble; for it was a clandestine concern:
but the time is not yet ripe for me to speak of it more at large.  I
should, however, mention, before concluding this annal, that Mrs. Malcolm
herself was this winter brought to death’s door by a terrible host that
came on her in the kirk, by taking a kittling in her throat.  It was a
terrification to hear her sometimes; but she got the better of it in the
spring, and was more herself thereafter than she had been for years
before; and her daughter Effie or Euphemia, as she was called by Miss
Sabrina, the schoolmistress, was growing up to be a gleg and clever
quean; she was, indeed, such a spirit in her way, that the folks called
her Spunkie; while her son William, that was the youngest of the five,
was making a wonderful proficiency with Mr. Lorimore.  He was indeed a
douce, well-doing laddie, of a composed nature; insomuch that the master
said he was surely chosen for the ministry.  In short, the more I think
on what befell this family, and of the great meekness and Christian worth
of the parent, I verily believe there never could have been in any parish
such a manifestation of the truth, that they who put their trust in the
Lord, are sure of having a friend that will never forsake them.

YEAR 1770

THIS blessed Ann. Dom. was one of the Sabbaths of my ministry.  When I
look back upon it, all is quiet and good order: the darkest cloud of the
smuggling had passed over, at least from my people, and the rumours of
rebellion in America were but like the distant sound of the bars of Ayr.
We sat, as it were, in a lown and pleasant place, beholding our
prosperity, like the apple-tree adorned with her garlands of flourishes,
in the first fair mornings of the spring, when the birds were returning
thanks to their Maker for the coming again of the seed-time, and the busy
bee goeth forth from her cell, to gather honey from the flowers of the
field, and the broom of the hill, and the blue-bells and gowans, which
Nature, with a gracious and a gentle hand, scatters in the valley, as she
walketh forth in her beauty, to testify to the goodness of the Father of
all mercies.

Both at the spring and the harvest sacraments, the weather was as that
which is in Paradise; there was a glad composure in all hearts, and the
minds of men were softened towards each other.  The number of
communicants was greater than had been known for many years, and the
tables were filled by the pious from many a neighbouring parish: those of
my hearers who had opposed my placing, declared openly, for a testimony
of satisfaction and holy thankfulness, that the tent, so surrounded as it
was on both occasions, was a sight they never had expected to see.  I
was, to be sure, assisted by some of the best divines then in the land,
but I had not been a sluggard myself in the vineyard.

Often, when I think on this year, so fruitful in pleasant intimacies, has
the thought come into my mind, that as the Lord blesses the earth from
time to time with a harvest of more than the usual increase, so, in like
manner, he is sometimes for a season pleased to pour into the breasts of
mankind a larger portion of good-will and charity, disposing them to love
one another, to be kindly to all creatures, and filled with the delight
of thankfulness to himself, which is the greatest of blessings.

It was in this year that the Earl of Eaglesham ordered the fair to be
established in the village; and it was a day of wonderful festivity to
all the bairns, and lads and lassies, for miles round.  I think, indeed,
that there has never been such a fair as the first since; for although we
have more mountebanks and merry-andrews now, and richer cargoes of
groceries and packman’s stands, yet there has been a falling off in the
light-hearted daffing, while the hobleshows in the change-houses have
been awfully augmented.  It was on this occasion that Punch’s opera was
first seen in our country side, and surely never was there such a funny
curiosity; for although Mr. Punch himself was but a timber idol, he was
as droll as a true living thing, and napped with his head so comical; but
oh! he was a sorrowful contumacious captain, and it was just a sport to
see how he rampaged, and triumphed, and sang.  For months after, the
laddie weans did nothing but squeak and sing like Punch.  In short, a
blithe spirit was among us throughout this year, and the briefness of the
chronicle bears witness to the innocency of the time.

YEAR 1771

IT was in this year that my troubles with Lady Macadam’s affair began.
She was a woman, as I have by hint here and there intimated, of a
prelatic disposition, seeking all things her own way, and not overly
scrupulous about the means, which I take to be the true humour of
prelacy.  She was come of a high episcopal race in the east country,
where sound doctrine had been long but little heard, and she considered
the comely humility of a presbyter as the wickedness of hypocrisy; so
that, saving in the way of neighbourly visitation, there was no sincere
communion between us.  Nevertheless, with all her vagaries, she had the
element of a kindly spirit, that would sometimes kythe in actions of
charity, that showed symptoms of a true Christian grace, had it been
properly cultivated; but her morals had been greatly neglected in her
youth, and she would waste her precious time in the long winter nights,
playing at the cards with her visitors; in the which thriftless and
sinful pastime, she was at great pains to instruct Kate Malcolm, which I
was grieved to understand.  What, however, I most misliked in her
ladyship, was a lightness and juvenility of behaviour altogether
unbecoming her years; for she was far past three-score, having been long
married without children.  Her son, the soldier officer, came so late,
that it was thought she would have been taken up as an evidence in the
Douglas cause.  She was, to be sure, crippled with the rheumatics, and no
doubt the time hung heavy on her hands; but the best friends of
recreation and sport must allow, that an old woman, sitting whole hours
jingling with that paralytic chattel a spinnet, was not a natural object!
What, then, could be said for her singing Italian songs, and getting all
the newest from Vauxhall in London, a boxful at a time, with new
novel-books, and trinkum-trankum flowers and feathers, and sweetmeats,
sent to her by a lady of the blood royal of Paris?  As for the music, she
was at great pains to instruct Kate, which, with the other things she
taught, were sufficient, as my lady said herself, to qualify poor Kate
for a duchess or a governess, in either of which capacities, her ladyship
assured Mrs. Malcolm, she would do honour to her instructor, meaning her
own self; but I must come to the point anent the affair.

One evening, early in the month of January, as I was sitting by myself in
my closet studying the _Scots Magazine_, which I well remember the new
number had come but that very night, Mrs. Balwhidder being at the time
busy with the lasses in the kitchen, and superintending, as her custom
was, for she was a clever woman, a great wool-spinning we then had, both
little wheel and meikle wheel, for stockings and blankets—sitting, as I
was saying, in the study, with the fire well gathered up, for a night’s
reflection, a prodigious knocking came to the door, by which the book was
almost startled out of my hand, and all the wheels in the house were
silenced at once.  This was her ladyship’s flunkey, to beg me to go to
her, whom he described as in a state of desperation.  Christianity
required that I should obey the summons; so, with what haste I could,
thinking that perhaps, as she had been low-spirited for some time about
the young laird’s going to the Indies, she might have got a cast of
grace, and been wakened in despair to the state of darkness in which she
had so long lived, I made as few steps of the road between the manse and
her house as it was in my ability to do.

On reaching the door, I found a great light in the house—candles burning
up stairs and down stairs, and a sough of something extraordinar going
on.  I went into the dining-room, where her ladyship was wont to sit; but
she was not there—only Kate Malcolm all alone, busily picking bits of
paper from the carpet.  When she looked up, I saw that her eyes were red
with weeping, and I was alarmed, and said, “Katy, my dear, I hope there
is no danger?”  Upon which the poor lassie rose, and, flinging herself in
a chair, covered her face with her hands, and wept bitterly.

“What is the old fool doing with the wench?” cried a sharp angry voice
from the drawing-room—“why does not he come to me?”  It was the voice of
Lady Macadam herself, and she meant me.  So I went to her; but, oh! she
was in a far different state from what I had hoped.  The pride of this
world had got the upper hand of her, and was playing dreadful antics with
understanding.  There was she, painted like a Jezebel, with gum-flowers
on her head, as was her custom every afternoon, sitting on a settee, for
she was lame, and in her hand she held a letter.  “Sir,” said she, as I
came into the room, “I want you to go instantly to that young fellow,
your clerk, (meaning Mr. Lorimore, the schoolmaster, who was likewise
session-clerk and precentor,) and tell him I will give him a couple of
hundred pounds to marry Miss Malcolm without delay, and undertake to
procure him a living from some of my friends.”

“Softly, my lady, you must first tell me the meaning of all this haste of
kindness,” said I, in my calm methodical manner.  At the which she began
to cry and sob, like a petted bairn, and to bewail her ruin, and the
dishonour of her family.  I was surprised, and beginning to be
confounded; at length out it came.  The flunkey had that night brought
two London letters from the Irville post, and Kate Malcolm being out of
the way when he came home, he took them both in to her ladyship on the
silver server, as was his custom; and her ladyship, not jealousing that
Kate could have a correspondence with London, thought both the letters
were for herself, for they were franked; so, as it happened, she opened
the one that was for Kate, and this, too, from the young laird, her own
son.  She could not believe her eyes when she saw the first words in his
hand of write; and she read, and she better read, till she read all the
letter, by which she came to know that Kate and her darling were trysted,
and that this was not the first love-letter which had passed between
them.  She, therefore, tore it in pieces, and sent for me, and screamed
for Kate; in short, went, as it were, off at the head, and was neither to
bind nor to hold on account of this intrigue, as she, in her wrath,
stigmatised the innocent gallanting of poor Kate and the young laird.

I listened in patience to all she had to say anent the discovery, and
offered her the very best advice; but she derided my judgment; and
because I would not speak outright to Mr. Lorimore, and get him to marry
Kate off hand, she bade me good-night with an air, and sent for him
herself.  He, however, was on the brink of marriage with his present
worthy helpmate, and declined her ladyship’s proposals, which angered her
still more.  But although there was surely a great lack of discretion in
all this, and her ladyship was entirely overcome with her passion, she
would not part with Kate, nor allow her to quit the house with me, but
made her sup with her as usual that night, calling her sometimes a
perfidious baggage, and at other times, forgetting her delirium, speaking
to her as kindly as ever.  At night, Kate as usual helped her ladyship
into her bed, (this she told me with tears in her eyes next morning;) and
when Lady Macadam, as was her wont, bent to kiss her for good-night, she
suddenly recollected “the intrigue,” and gave Kate such a slap on the
side of the head, as quite dislocated for a time the intellects of the
poor young lassie.  Next morning, Kate was solemnly advised never to
write again to the laird, while the lady wrote him a letter, which, she
said, would be as good as a birch to the breech of the boy.  Nothing,
therefore, for some time, indeed, throughout the year, came of the
matter; but her ladyship, when Mrs. Balwhidder soon after called on her,
said that I was a nose-of-wax, and that she never would speak to me
again, which surely was not a polite thing to say to Mrs. Balwhidder, my
second wife.

This stramash was the first time I had interposed in the family concerns
of my people; for it was against my nature to make or meddle with private
actions saving only such as in course of nature came before the session;
but I was not satisfied with the principles of Lady Macadam, and I began
to be weary about Kate Malcolm’s situation with her ladyship, whose ways
of thinking I saw were not to be depended on, especially in those things
wherein her pride and vanity were concerned.  But the time ran on—the
butterflies and the blossoms were succeeded by the leaves and the fruit,
and nothing of a particular nature farther molested the general
tranquillity of this year; about the end of which, there came on a sudden
frost, after a tack of wet weather.  The roads were just a sheet of ice,
like a frozen river; insomuch that the coal-carts could not work; and one
of our cows, (Mrs. Balwhidder said, after the accident, it was our best;
but it was not so much thought of before,) fell in coming from the glebe
to the byre, and broke its two hinder legs, which obligated us to kill
it, in order to put the beast out of pain.  As this happened after we had
salted our mart, it occasioned us to have a double crop of puddings, and
such a show of hams in the kitchen, as was a marvel to our visitors to

YEAR 1772

ON New-Year’s night, this year, a thing happened, which, in its own
nature, was a trifle; but it turned out as a mustard-seed that grows into
a great tree.  One of the elders, who has long been dead and gone, came
to the manse about a fact that was found out in the clachan, and after we
had discoursed on it some time, he rose to take his departure.  I went
with him to the door with the candle in my hand—it was a clear frosty
night, with a sharp wind; and the moment I opened the door, the blast
blew out the candle, so that I heedlessly, with the candlestick in my
hand, walked with him to the yett without my hat, by which I took a sore
cold in my head, that brought on a dreadful toothache; insomuch, that I
was obligated to go into Irville to get the tooth drawn, and this caused
my face to swell to such a fright, that, on the Sabbath-day, I could not
preach to my people.  There was, however, at that time, a young man, one
Mr. Heckletext, tutor in Sir Hugh Montgomerie’s family, and who had
shortly before been licensed.  Finding that I would not be able to preach
myself, I sent to him, and begged he would officiate for me, which he
very pleasantly consented to do, being, like all the young clergy,
thirsting to show his light to the world.  ’Twixt the fore and
afternoon’s worship, he took his check of dinner at the manse, and I
could not but say that he seemed both discreet and sincere.  Judge,
however, what was brewing, when the same night Mr. Lorimore came and told
me, that Mr. Heckletext was the suspected person anent the fact that had
been instrumental, in the hand of a chastising Providence, to afflict me
with the toothache, in order, as it afterwards came to pass, to bring the
hidden hypocrisy of the ungodly preacher to light.  It seems that the
donsie lassie who was in fault, had gone to the kirk in the afternoon,
and seeing who was in the pulpit, where she expected to see me, was
seized with the hysterics, and taken with her crying on the spot, the
which being untimely, proved the death of both mother and bairn, before
the thing was properly laid to the father’s charge.

                         [Picture: The Precentor]

This caused a great uproar in the parish.  I was sorely blamed to let
such a man as Mr. Heckletext go up into my pulpit, although I was as
ignorant of his offences as the innocent child that perished; and, in an
unguarded hour, to pacify some of the elders, who were just distracted
about the disgrace, I consented to have him called before the session.
He obeyed the call, and in a manner that I will never forget; for he was
a sorrow of sin and audacity, and demanded to know why, and for what
reason, he was summoned.  I told him the whole affair in my calm and
moderate way; but it was oil cast upon a burning coal.  He flamed up in a
terrible passion; threepit at the elders that they had no proof whatever
of his having had any trafficking in the business, which was the case;
for it was only a notion, the poor deceased lassie never having made a
disclosure: called them libellous conspirators against his character,
which was his only fortune, and concluded by threatening to punish them,
though he exempted me from the injury which their slanderous insinuations
had done to his prospects in life.  We were all terrified, and allowed
him to go away without uttering a word; and sure enough he did bring a
plea in the courts of Edinburgh against Mr. Lorimore and the elders for
damages, laid at a great sum.

What might have been the consequence, no one can tell; but soon after he
married Sir Hugh’s house-keeper, and went with her into Edinburgh, where
he took up a school; and, before the trial came on, that is to say,
within three months of the day that I myself married them, Mrs.
Heckletext was delivered of a thriving lad bairn, which would have been a
witness for the elders, had the worst come to the worst.  This was,
indeed, we all thought, a joyous deliverance to the parish, and it was a
lesson to me never to allow any preacher to mount my pulpit, unless I
knew something of his moral character.

In other respects, this year passed very peaceably in the parish: there
was a visible increase of worldly circumstances, and the hedges which had
been planted along the toll-road, began to put forth their branches, and
to give new notions of orderlyness and beauty to the farmers.  Mrs.
Malcolm heard from time to time from her son Charles, on board the
man-of-war the _Avenger_, where he was midshipman; and he had found a
friend in the captain, that was just a father to him.  Her second son,
Robert, being out of his time at Irville, went to the Clyde to look for a
berth, and was hired to go to Jamaica, in a ship called the _Trooper_.
He was a lad of greater sobriety of nature than Charles; douce, honest,
and faithful; and when he came home, though he brought no limes to me to
make punch, like his brother, he brought a Muscovy duck to Lady Macadam,
who had, as I have related, in a manner educated his sister Kate.  That
duck was the first of the kind we had ever seen, and many thought it was
of the goose species, only with short bowly legs.  It was, however, a
tractable and homely beast; and after some confabulation, as my lady
herself told Mrs. Balwhidder, it was received into fellowship by her
other ducks and poultry.  It is not, however, so much on account of the
rarity of the creature, that I have introduced it here, as for the
purpose of relating a wonderful operation that was performed on it by
Miss Sabrina, the schoolmistress.

There happened to be a sack of beans in our stable, and Lady Macadam’s
hens and fowls, which were not overly fed at home through the inattention
of her servants, being great stravaigers for their meat, in passing the
door went in to pick, and the Muscovy, seeing a hole in the bean-sack,
dabbled out a crapful before she was disturbed.  The beans swelled on the
poor bird’s stomach, and her crap bellied out like the kyte of a Glasgow
magistrate, until it was just a sight to be seen with its head back on
its shoulders.  The bairns of the clachan followed it up and down,
crying, the lady’s muckle jock’s aye growing bigger, till every heart was
wae for the creature.  Some thought it was afflicted with a tympathy, and
others, that it was the natural way for such-like ducks to cleck their
young.  In short, we were all concerned; and my lady, having a great
opinion of Miss Sabrina’s skill, had a consultation with her on the case,
at which Miss Sabrina advised, that what she called the Cæsarean
operation should be tried, which she herself performed accordingly, by
opening the creature’s crap, and taking out as many beans as filled a
mutchkin stoup, after which she sewed it up, and the Muscovy went its way
to the water-side, and began to swim, and was as jocund as ever;
insomuch, that in three days after it was quite cured of all the
consequences of its surfeit.

I had at one time a notion to send an account of this to the _Scots
Magazine_, but something always came in the way to prevent me; so that it
has been reserved for a place in this chronicle, being, after Mr.
Heckletext’s affair, the most memorable thing in our history of this

YEAR 1773

IN this Ann. Dom. there was something like a plea getting to a head,
between the session and some of the heritors, about a new school-house;
the thatch having been torn from the rigging of the old one by a blast of
wind, on the first Monday of February, by which a great snow storm got
admission, and the school was rendered utterly uninhabitable.  The
smaller sort of lairds were very willing to come into the plan with an
extra contribution, because they respected the master, and their bairns
were at the school; but the gentlemen, who had tutors in their own
houses, were not so manageable; and some of them even went so far as to
say, that the kirk, being only wanted on Sunday, would do very well for a
school all the rest of the week, which was a very profane way of
speaking; and I was resolved to set myself against any such thing, and to
labour, according to the power and efficacy of my station, to get a new
school built.

Many a meeting the session had on the subject; and the heritors debated,
and discussed, and revised their proceedings, and still no money for the
needful work was forthcoming.  Whereupon it happened one morning, as I
was rummaging in my scrutoire, that I laid my hand on the Lord
Eaglesham’s letter anent Charles Malcolm; and it was put into my head at
that moment, that if I was to write to his lordship, who was the greatest
heritor, and owned now the major part of the parish, that by his help and
influence I might be an instrument to the building of a comfortable new
school.  Accordingly, I sat down and wrote my lord all about the
accident, and the state of the school-house, and the divisions and
seditions among the heritors, and sent the letter to him at London by the
post the same day, without saying a word to any living soul on the

This in me was an advised thought; for, by the return of post, his
lordship with his own hand, in a most kind manner, authorized me to say
that he would build a new school at his own cost, and bade me go over and
consult about it with his steward at the castle, to whom he had written
by the same post the necessary instructions.  Nothing could exceed the
gladness which the news gave to the whole parish, and none said more in
behalf of his lordship’s bounty and liberality than the heritors;
especially those gentry who grudged the undertaking, when it was thought
that it would have to come out of their own pock-nook.

In the course of the summer, just as the roof was closing in of the
school-house, my lord came to the castle with a great company, and was
not there a day till he sent for me to come over, on the next Sunday, to
dine with him; but I sent him word that I could not do so, for it would
be a transgression of the Sabbath, which made him send his own gentleman,
to make his apology for having taken so great a liberty with me, and to
beg me to come on the Monday, which I accordingly did, and nothing could
be better than the discretion with which I was used.  There was a vast
company of English ladies and gentlemen, and his lordship, in a most
jocose manner, told them all how he had fallen on the midden, and how I
had clad him in my clothes, and there was a wonder of laughing and
diversion; but the most particular thing in the company, was a large,
round-faced man, with a wig, that was a dignitary in some great
Episcopalian church in London, who was extraordinary condescending
towards me, drinking wine with me at the table, and saying weighty
sentences, in a fine style of language, about the becoming grace of
simplicity and innocence of heart, in the clergy of all denominations of
Christians, which I was pleased to hear; for really he had a proud red
countenance, and I could not have thought he was so mortified to humility
within, had I not heard with what sincerity he delivered himself, and
seen how much reverence and attention was paid to him by all present,
particularly by my lord’s chaplain, who was a pious and pleasant young
divine, though educated at Oxford for the Episcopalian persuasion.

One day, soon after, as I was sitting in my closet conning a sermon for
the next Sunday, I was surprised by a visit from the dean, as the
dignitary was called.  He had come, he said, to wait on me as rector of
the parish—for so, it seems, they call a pastor in England—and to say,
that, if it was agreeable, he would take a family dinner with us before
he left the castle.  I could make no objection to this kindness; but said
I hoped my lord would come with him, and that we would do our best to
entertain them with all suitable hospitality.  About an hour or so after
he had returned to the castle, one of the flunkeys brought a letter from
his lordship, to say, that not only he would come with the dean, but that
they would bring his other guests with them; and that, as they could only
drink London wine, the butler would send me a hamper in the morning,
assured, as he was pleased to say, that Mrs. Balwhidder would otherwise
provide good cheer.

This notification, however, was a great trouble to my wife, who was only
used to manufacture the produce of our glebe and yard to a profitable
purpose, and not used to the treatment of deans and lords, and other
persons of quality.  However, she was determined to stretch a point on
this occasion; and we had, as all present declared, a charming dinner;
for fortunately one of the sows had a litter of pigs a few days before,
and in addition to a goose, that is but a boss bird, we had a roasted pig
with an apple in its mouth, which was just a curiosity to see; and my
lord called it a tithe pig; but I told him it was one of Mrs.
Balwhidder’s own clecking, which saying of mine made no little sport when
expounded to the dean.

But, och how! this was the last happy summer that we had for many a year
in the parish; and an omen of the dule that ensued, was in a sacrilegious
theft that a daft woman, Jenny Gaffaw, and her idiot daughter, did in the
kirk, by tearing off and stealing the green serge lining of my lord’s
pew, to make, as they said, a hap for their shoulders in the cold
weather—saving, however, the sin, we paid no attention at the time to the
mischief and tribulation that so unheard-of a trespass boded to us all.
It took place about Yule, when the weather was cold and frosty, and poor
Jenny was not very able to go about seeking her meat as usual.  The deed,
however, was mainly done by her daughter, who, when brought before me,
said, “her poor mother’s back had mair need of claes than the
kirk-boards;” which was so true a thing, that I could not punish her, but
wrote anent it to my lord, who not only overlooked the offence, but sent
orders to the servants at the castle to be kind to the poor woman, and
the natural, her daughter.

YEAR 1774

WHEN I look back on this year, and compare what happened therein with the
things that had gone before, I am grieved to the heart, and pressed down
with an afflicted spirit.  We had, as may be read, trials and
tribulations in the days that were past; and in the rank and boisterous
times of the smuggling there was much sin and blemish among us, but
nothing so dark and awful as what fell out in the course of this unhappy
year.  The evil omen of daft Jenny Gaffaw and her daughter’s sacrilege,
had soon a bloody verification.

About the beginning of the month of March in this year, the war in
America was kindling so fast that the government was obligated to send
soldiers over the sea, in the hope to quell the rebellious temper of the
plantations; and a party of a regiment that was quartered at Ayr was
ordered to march to Greenock, to be there shipped off.  The men were wild
and wicked profligates, without the fear of the Lord before their eyes;
and some of them had drawn up with light women in Ayr, who followed them
on their march.  This the soldiers did not like, not wishing to be
troubled with such gear in America; so the women, when they got the
length of Kilmarnock, were ordered to retreat and go home, which they all
did but one Jean Glaikit, who persisted in her intent to follow her joe,
Patrick O’Neil, a Catholic Irish corporal.  The man did, as he said, all
in his capacity to persuade her to return, but she was a contumacious
limmer, and would not listen to reason; so that, in passing along our
toll-road, from less to more, the miserable wretches fell out, and
fought, and the soldier put an end to her with a hasty knock on the head
with his firelock, and marched on after his comrades.

The body of the woman was, about half an hour after, found by the
scholars of Mr. Lorimore’s school, who had got the play to see the
marching, and to hear the drums of the soldiers.  Dreadful was the shout
and the cry throughout the parish at this foul work.  Some of the farmer
lads followed the soldiers on horseback, and others ran to Sir Hugh, who
was a justice of the peace, for his advice.—Such a day as that was!

However, the murderer was taken, and, with his arms tied behind him with
a cord, he was brought back to the parish, where he confessed before Sir
Hugh the deed, and how it happened.  He was then put in a cart, and,
being well guarded by six of the lads, was taken to Ayr jail.

It was not long after this that the murderer was brought to trial, and,
being found guilty on his own confession, he was sentenced to be
executed, and his body to be hung in chains near the spot where the deed
was done.  I thought that all in the parish would have run to desperation
with horror when the news of this came, and I wrote immediately to the
Lord Eaglesham to get this done away by the merciful power of the
government, which he did, to our great solace and relief.

In the autumn, the young Laird Macadam, being ordered with his regiment
for the Americas, got leave from the king to come and see his lady
mother, before his departure.  But it was not to see her only, as will
presently appear.

Knowing how much her ladyship was averse to the notion he had of Kate
Malcolm, he did not write of his coming, lest she would send Kate out of
the way, but came in upon them at a late hour, as they were wasting their
precious time, as was the nightly wont of my lady, with a pack of cards;
and so far was she from being pleased to see him, that no sooner did she
behold his face, but, like a tap of tow, she kindled upon both him and
Kate, and ordered them out of her sight and house.  The young folk had
discretion: Kate went home to her mother, and the laird came to the
manse, and begged us to take him in.  He then told me what had happened;
and that, having bought a captain’s commission, he was resolved to marry
Kate, and hoped I would perform the ceremony, if her mother would
consent.  “As for mine,” said he, “she will never agree; but, when the
thing is done, her pardon will not be difficult to get; for, with all her
whims and caprice, she is generous and affectionate.”  In short, he so
wiled and beguiled me, that I consented to marry them, if Mrs. Malcolm
was agreeable.  “I will not disobey my mother,” said he, “by asking her
consent, which I know she will refuse; and, therefore, the sooner it is
done the better.”  So we then stepped over to Mrs. Malcolm’s house, where
we found that saintly woman, with Kate and Effie, and Willie, sitting
peacefully at their fireside, preparing to read their Bibles for the
night.  When we went in, and when I saw Kate, that was so ladylike there,
with the decent humility of her parent’s dwelling, I could not but think
she was destined for a better station; and when I looked at the captain,
a handsome youth, I thought surely their marriage is made in heaven; and
so I said to Mrs. Malcolm, who after a time consented, and likewise
agreed that her daughter should go with the captain to America; for her
faith and trust in the goodness of Providence was great and boundless,
striving, as it were, to be even with its tender mercies.  Accordingly,
the captain’s man was sent to bid the chaise wait that had taken him to
the lady’s, and the marriage was sanctified by me before we left Mrs.
Malcolm’s.  No doubt, they ought to have been proclaimed three several
Sabbaths; but I satisfied the session, at our first meeting, on account
of the necessity of the case.  The young couple went in the chaise
travelling to Glasgow, authorising me to break the matter to Lady
Macadam, which was a sore task; but I was spared from the performance.
For her ladyship had come to herself, and thinking on her own rashness in
sending away Kate and the captain in the way she had done, she was like
one by herself.  All the servants were scattered out and abroad in quest
of the lovers; and some of them, seeing the chaise drive from Mrs.
Malcolm’s door with them in it, and me coming out, jealoused what had
been done, and told their mistress outright of the marriage, which was to
her like a clap of thunder; insomuch that she flung herself back in her
settee, and was beating and drumming with her heels on the floor, like a
madwoman in Bedlam, when I entered the room.  For some time she took no
notice of me, but continued her din; but, by-and-by, she began to turn
her eyes in fiery glances upon me, till I was terrified lest she would
fly at me with her claws in her fury.  At last she stopped all at once,
and in a calm voice, said, “But it cannot now be helped, where are the
vagabonds?”—“They are gone,” replied I.—“Gone?” cried she, “gone
where?”—“To America, I suppose,” was my answer; upon which she again
threw herself back in the settee, and began again to drum and beat with
her feet as before.  But not to dwell on small particularities, let it
suffice to say, that she sent her coachman on one of her coach horses,
which, being old and stiff, did not overtake the fugitives till they were
in their bed at Kilmarnock, where they stopped that night; but when they
came back to the lady’s in the morning, she was as cagey and meikle taken
up with them, as if they had gotten her full consent and privilege to
marry from the first.  Thus was the first of Mrs. Malcolm’s children well
and creditably settled.  I have only now to conclude with observing, that
my son Gilbert was seized with the smallpox about the beginning of
December, and was blinded by them for seventeen days; for the inoculation
was not in practice yet among us, saving only in the genteel families
that went into Edinburgh for the education of their children, where it
was performed by the faculty there.

                             [Picture: Kate]

YEAR 1775

THE regular course of nature is calm and orderly, and tempests and
troubles are but lapses from the accustomed sobriety with which
Providence works out the destined end of all things.  From Yule till
Pace-Monday there had been a gradual subsidence of our personal and
parochial tribulations, and the spring, though late, set in bright and
beautiful, and was accompanied with the spirit of contentment; so that,
excepting the great concern that we all began to take in the American
rebellion, especially on account of Charles Malcolm that was in the
man-of-war, and of Captain Macadam that had married Kate, we had
throughout the better half of the year but little molestation of any
sort.  I should, however, note the upshot of the marriage.

By some cause that I do not recollect, if I ever had it properly told,
the regiment wherein the captain had bought his commission was not sent
to the plantations, but only over to Ireland, by which the captain and
his lady were allowed to prolong their stay in the parish with his
mother; and he, coming of age while he was among us, in making a
settlement on his wife, bought the house at the Braehead, which was then
just built by Thomas Shivers the mason, and he gave that house, with a
judicious income, to Mrs. Malcolm, telling her that it was not becoming,
he having it in his power to do the contrary, that she should any longer
be dependent on her own industry.  For this the young man got a name like
a sweet odour in all the country side; but that whimsical and prelatic
lady his mother, just went out of all bounds, and played such pranks for
an old woman, as cannot be told.  To her daughter-in-law, however, she
was wonderful kind; and, in fitting her out for going with the captain to
Dublin, it was extraordinary to hear what a paraphernalia she provided
her with.  But who could have thought that in this kindness a sore trial
was brewing for me!

It happened that Miss Betty Wudrife, the daughter of an heritor, had been
on a visit to some of her friends in Edinburgh; and being in at
Edinburgh, she came out with a fine mantle, decked and adorned with many
a ribbon-knot, such as had never been seen in the parish.  The Lady
Macadam, hearing of this grand mantle, sent to beg Miss Betty to lend it
to her, to make a copy for young Mrs. Macadam.  But Miss Betty was so
vogie with her gay mantle, that she sent back word, it would be making it
o’er common; which so nettled the old courtly lady, that she vowed
revenge, and said the mantle would not be long seen on Miss Betty.
Nobody knew the meaning of her words; but she sent privately for Miss
Sabrina, the schoolmistress, who was aye proud of being invited to my
lady’s, where she went on the Sabbath night to drink tea, and read
Thomson’s _Seasons_ and Hervey’s _Meditations_ for her ladyship’s
recreation.  Between the two, a secret plot was laid against Miss Betty
and her Edinburgh mantle; and Miss Sabrina, in a very treacherous manner,
for the which I afterwards chided her severely, went to Miss Betty, and
got a sight of the mantle, and how it was made, and all about it, until
she was in a capacity to make another like it; by which my lady and her,
from old silk and satin negligées which her ladyship had worn at the
French court, made up two mantles of the selfsame fashion as Miss
Betty’s, and, if possible, more sumptuously garnished, but in a flagrant
fool way.  On the Sunday morning after, her ladyship sent for Jenny
Gaffaw, and her daft daughter Meg, and showed them the mantles, and said
she would give then half-a-crown if they would go with them to the kirk,
and take their place in the bench beside the elders, and, after worship,
walk home before Miss Betty Wudrife.  The two poor natural things were
just transported with the sight of such bravery, and needed no other
bribe; so, over their bits of ragged duds, they put on the pageantry, and
walked away to the kirk like peacocks, and took their place on the bench,
to the great diversion of the whole congregation.

I had no suspicion of this, and had prepared an affecting discourse about
the horrors of war, in which I touched, with a tender hand, on the
troubles that threatened families and kindred in America; but all the
time I was preaching, doing my best, and expatiating till the tears came
into my eyes, I could not divine what was the cause of the inattention of
my people.  But the two vain haverels were on the bench under me, and I
could not see them; where they sat, spreading their feathers and picking
their wings, stroking down and setting right their finery; with such an
air as no living soul could see and withstand; while every eye in the
kirk was now on them, and now at Miss Betty Wudrife, who was in a worse
situation than if she had been on the stool of repentance.

Greatly grieved with the little heed that was paid to my discourse, I
left the pulpit with a heavy heart; but when I came out into the
kirkyard, and saw the two antics linking like ladies, and aye keeping in
the way before Miss Betty, and looking back and around in their pride and
admiration, with high heads and a wonderful pomp, I was really overcome,
and could not keep my gravity, but laughed loud out among the graves, and
in the face of all my people; who, seeing how I was vanquished in that
unguarded moment by my enemy, made a universal and most unreverent breach
of all decorum, at which Miss Betty, who had been the cause of all, ran
into the first open door, and almost fainted away with mortification.

This affair was regarded by the elders as a sinful trespass on the
orderlyness that was needful in the Lord’s house; and they called on me
at the manse that night, and said it would be a guilty connivance if I
did not rebuke and admonish Lady Macadam of the evil of her way; for they
had questioned daft Jenny, and had got at the bottom of the whole plot
and mischief.  But I, who knew her ladyship’s light way, would fain have
had the elders to overlook it, rather than expose myself to her tantrums;
but they considered the thing as a great scandal, so I was obligated to
conform to their wishes.  I might, however, have as well stayed at home,
for her ladyship was in one of her jocose humours when I went to speak to
her on the subject; and it was so far from my power to make a proper
impression on her of the enormity that had been committed, that she made
me laugh, in spite of my reason, at the fantastical drollery of her
malicious prank on Miss Betty Wudrife.

It, however, did not end here; for the session, knowing that it was
profitless to speak to the daft mother and daughter, who had been the
instruments, gave orders to Willy Howking, the betheral, not to let them
again so far into the kirk; and Willy, having scarcely more sense than
them both, thought proper to keep them out next Sunday altogether.  The
twa said nothing at the time, but the adversary was busy with them; for,
on the Wednesday following, there being a meeting of the synod at Ayr, to
my utter amazement the mother and daughter made their appearance there in
all their finery, and raised a complaint against me and the session, for
debarring them from church privileges.  No stage play could have produced
such an effect.  I was perfectly dumfoundered; and every member of the
synod might have been tied with a straw, they were so overcome with this
new device of that endless woman, when bent on provocation—the Lady
Macadam; in whom the saying was verified, that old folk are twice bairns;
for in such plays, pranks, and projects, she was as playrife as a very
lassie at her sampler; and this is but a swatch to what lengths she would
go.  The complaint was dismissed, by which the session and me were
assoilzied; but I’ll never forget till the day of my death what I
suffered on that occasion, to be so put to the wall by two born idiots.

YEAR 1776

IT belongs to the chroniclers of the realm to describe the damage and
detriment which fell on the power and prosperity of the kingdom, by
reason of the rebellion, that was fired into open war, against the name
and authority of the king in the plantations of America; for my task is
to describe what happened within the narrow bound of the pasturage of the
Lord’s flock, of which, in his bounty and mercy, he made me the humble,
willing, but alas! the weak and ineffectual shepherd.

About the month of February, a recruiting party came to our neighbour
town of Irville, to beat up for men to be soldiers against the rebels;
and thus the battle was brought, as it were, to our gates; for the very
first man that took on with them was one Thomas Wilson, a cottar in our
clachan, who, up to that time, had been a decent and creditable
character.  He was at first a farmer lad, but had forgathered with a
doited tawpy, whom he married, and had offspring three or four.  For some
time it was noticed that he had a down and thoughtful look, that his
cleeding was growing bare, and that his wife kept an untrig house, which,
it was feared by many, was the cause of Thomas going o’er often to the
change-house; he was, in short, during the greater part of the winter,
evidently a man foregone in the pleasures of this world, which made all
that knew him compassionate his situation.

No doubt, it was his household ills that burdened him past bearing, and
made him go into Irville, when he heard of the recruiting, and take on to
be a soldier.  Such a wally-wallying as the news of this caused at every
door; for the red-coats—from the persecuting days, when the black-cuffs
rampaged through the country—soldiers that fought for hire were held in
dread and as a horror among us, and terrible were the stories that were
told of their cruelty and sinfulness; indeed, there had not been wanting
in our time a sample of what they were, as witness the murder of Jean
Glaikit by Patrick O’Neil, the Irish corporal, anent which I have treated
at large in the memorables of the year 1774.

A meeting of the session was forthwith held; for here was Thomas Wilson’s
wife and all his weans, an awful cess, thrown upon the parish; and it was
settled outright among us, that Mr. Docken, who was then an elder, but is
since dead, a worthy man, with a soft tongue and a pleasing manner,
should go to Irville, and get Thomas, if possible, released from the
recruiters.  But it was all in vain; the sergeant would not listen to
him, for Thomas was a strapping lad; nor would the poor infatuated man
himself agree to go back, but cursed like a cadger, and swore that, if he
stayed any longer among his plagues, he would commit some rash act; so we
were saddled with his family, which was the first taste and preeing of
what war is when it comes into our hearths, and among the breadwinners.

The evil, however, did not stop here.  Thomas, when he was dressed out in
the king’s clothes, came over to see his bairns, and take a farewell of
his friends, and he looked so gallant, that the very next market-day
another lad of the parish listed with him; but he was a ramplor, roving
sort of a creature, and, upon the whole, it was thought he did well for
the parish when he went to serve the king.

The listing was a catching distemper.  Before the summer was over, the
other three of the farming lads went off with the drum, and there was a
wailing in the parish, which made me preach a touching discourse.  I
likened the parish to a widow woman with a small family, sitting in her
cottage by the fireside, herself spinning with an eident wheel, ettling
her best to get them a bit and a brat, and the poor weans all canty about
the hearthstane—the little ones at their playocks, and the elder at their
tasks—the callans working with hooks and lines to catch them a meal of
fish in the morning—and the lassies working stockings to sell at the next
Marymas fair.—And then I likened war to a calamity coming among them—the
callans drowned at their fishing—the lassies led to a misdoing—and the
feckless wee bairns laid on the bed of sickness, and their poor forlorn
mother sitting by herself at the embers of a cauldrife fire; her tow
done, and no a bodle to buy more; drooping a silent and salt tear for her
babies, and thinking of days that war gone, and, like Rachel weeping for
her children, she would not be comforted.  With this I concluded, for my
own heart filled full with the thought, and there was a deep sob in the
Church; verily it was Rachel weeping for her children.

In the latter end of the year, the man-of-war, with Charles Malcolm in
her, came to the tail of the Bank at Greenock, to press men as it was
thought, and Charles got leave from his captain to come and see his
mother; and he brought with him Mr. Howard, another midshipman, the son
of a great parliament man in London, which, as we have tasted the sorrow,
gave us some insight into the pomp of war, Charles was now grown up into
a fine young man, rattling, light-hearted, and just a cordial of
gladness, and his companion was every bit like him.  They were dressed in
their fine gold-laced garbs and nobody knew Charles when he came to the
clachan, but all wondered, for they were on horseback, and rode to the
house where his mother lived when he went away, but which was then
occupied by Miss Sabrina and her school.  Miss Sabrina had never seen
Charles, but she had heard of him; and when he enquired for his mother,
she guessed who he was, and showed him the way to the new house that the
captain had bought for her.

Miss Sabrina, who was a little overly perjink at times, behaved herself
on this occasion with a true spirit, and gave her lassies the play
immediately; so that the news of Charles’s return was spread by them like
wildfire, and there was a wonderful joy in the whole town.  When Charles
had seen his mother, and his sister Effie, with that douce and
well-mannered lad William, his brother—for of their meeting I cannot
speak, not being present—he then came with his friend to see me at the
manse, and was most jocose with me, and, in a way of great pleasance, got
Mrs. Balwhidder to ask his friend to sleep at the manse.  In short, we
had just a ploy the whole two days they stayed with us, and I got leave
from Lord Eaglesham’s steward to let them shoot on my lord’s land; and I
believe every laddie wean in the parish attended them to the field.  As
for old Lady Macadam, Charles being, as she said, a near relation, and
she having likewise some knowledge of his comrade’s family, she was just
in her element with them, though they were but youths; for she a woman
naturally of a fantastical, and, as I have narrated, given to comical
devices, and pranks to a degree.  She made for them a ball, to which she
invited all the bonniest lassies, far and near, in the parish, and was
out of the body with mirth, and had a fiddler from Irville; and it was
thought by those that were there, that had she not been crippled with the
rheumatics, she would have danced herself.  But I was concerned to hear
both Charles and his friend, like hungry hawks, rejoicing at the prospect
of the war, hoping thereby, as soon as their midship term was out, to be
made lieutenants; saving this, there was no allay in the happiness they
brought with them to the parish, and it was a delight to see how auld and
young of all degrees made of Charles; for we were proud of him, and none
more than myself, though he began to take liberties with me, calling me
old governor; it was, however, in a warm-hearted manner, only I did not
like it when any of the elders heard.  As for his mother, she deported
herself like a saint on the occasion.  There was a temperance in the
pleasure of her heart, and in her thankfulness, that is past the compass
of words to describe.  Even Lady Macadam, who never could think a serious
thought all her days, said, in her wild way that the gods had bestowed
more care in the making of Mrs. Malcolm’s temper, than on the bodies and
souls of all the saints in the calendar.  On the Sunday the strangers
attended divine worship, and I preached a sermon purposely for them, and
enlarged at great length and fulness on how David overcame Goliath; and
they both told me that they had never heard such a good discourse; but I
do not think they were great judges of preachings.  How, indeed, could
Mr. Howard know anything of sound doctrine, being educated, as he told
me, at Eton school, a prelatic establishment!  Nevertheless, he was a
fine lad; and though a little given to frolic and diversion, he had a
principle of integrity, that afterwards kythed into much virtue; for,
during this visit, he took a notion of Effie Malcolm, and the lassie of
him, then a sprightly and blooming creature, fair to look upon, and
blithe to see; and he kept up a correspondence with her till the war was
over, when being a captain of a frigate, he came down among us, and they
were married by me, as shall be related in its proper place.

YEAR 1777

THIS may well be called the year of the heavy heart, for we had sad
tidings of the lads that went away as soldiers to America.  First, there
was a boding in the minds of all their friends that they were never to
see them more; and their sadness, like a mist spreading from the waters
and covering the fields, darkened the spirit of the neighbours.
Secondly, a sound was bruited about that the king’s forces would have a
hot and a sore struggle before the rebels were put down, if they were
ever put down.  Then came the cruel truth of all that the poor lads’
friends had feared.  But it is fit and proper that I should relate at
length, under their several heads, the sorrows and afflictions as they
came to pass.

One evening, as I was taking my walk alone, meditating my discourse for
the next Sabbath—it was shortly after Candlemas—it was a fine clear
frosty evening, just as the sun was setting.  Taking my walk alone, and
thinking of the dreadfulness of Almighty power, and how that, if it was
not tempered and restrained by infinite goodness, and wisdom, and mercy,
the miserable sinner, man, and all things that live, would be in a woeful
state, I drew near the beild where old Widow Mirkland lived by herself,
who was grand-mother to Jock Hempy, the ramplor lad, that was the second
who took on for a soldier.  I did mind of this at the time; but, passing
the house, I heard the croon, as it were, of a laden soul busy with the
Lord, and, not to disturb the holy workings of grace, I paused and
listened.  It was old Mizy Mirkland herself, sitting at the gable of the
house, looking at the sun setting in all his glory behind the Arran
hills; but she was not praying—only moaning to herself—an oozing out, as
it might be called, of the spirit from her heart, then grievously
oppressed with sorrow, and heavy bodements of grey hairs and
poverty.—“Yonder it slips awa’,” she was saying, “and my poor bairn,
that’s o’er the seas in America, is maybe looking on its bright face,
thinking of his hame, and aiblins of me, that did my best to breed him up
in the fear of the Lord; but I couldna warsle wi’ what was ordained.  Ay,
Jock! as ye look at the sun gaun down, as many a time, when ye were a wee
innocent laddie at my knee here, I hae bade ye look at him as a type of
your Maker, ye will hae a sore heart; for ye hae left me in my need, when
ye should hae been near at hand to help me, for the hard labour and
industry with which I brought you up.  But it’s the Lord’s will.  Blessed
be the name of the Lord, that makes us to thole the tribulations of this
world, and will reward us, through the mediation of Jesus, hereafter.”
She wept bitterly as she said this, for her heart was tried, but the
blessing of a religious contentment was shed upon her; and I stepped up
to her, and asked about her concerns, for, saving as a parishioner, and a
decent old woman, I knew little of her.  Brief was her story; but it was
one of misfortune.—“But I will not complain,” she said, “of the measure
that has been meted unto me.  I was left myself an orphan; when I grew
up, and was married to my gude-man, I had known but scant and want.  Our
days of felicity were few; and he was ta’en awa’ from me shortly after my
Mary was born.  A wailing baby, and a widow’s heart, was a’ he left me.
I nursed her with my salt tears, and bred her in straits; but the favour
of God was with us, and she grew up to womanhood as lovely as the rose,
and as blameless as the lily.  In her time she was married to a farming
lad.  There never was a brawer pair in the kirk, than on that day when
they gaed there first as man and wife.  My heart was proud, and it
pleased the Lord to chastise my pride—to nip my happiness, even in the
bud.  The very next day he got his arm crushed.  It never got well again;
and he fell into a decay, and died in the winter, leaving my Mary far on
in the road to be a mother.

                    [Picture: A morning consultation]

“When her time drew near, we both happened to be working in the yard.
She was delving to plant potatoes, and I told her it would do her hurt;
but she was eager to provide something, as she said, for what might
happen.  Oh! it was an ill-omened word.  The same night her trouble came
on, and before the morning she was a cauld corpse, and another wee wee
fatherless baby was greeting at my bosom—it was him that’s noo awa’ in
America.  He grew up to be a fine bairn, with a warm heart, but a light
head, and, wanting the rein of a father’s power upon him, was no sa douce
as I could have wished; but he was no man’s foe save his own.  I thought,
and hoped, as he grew to years of discretion, he would have sobered, and
been a consolation to my old age; but he’s gone, and he’ll never come
back—disappointment is my portion in this world, and I have no hope;
while I can do, I will seek no help, but threescore and fifteen can do
little, and a small ail is a great evil to an aged woman, who has but the
distaff for her breadwinner.”

I did all that I could to bid her be of good cheer, but the comfort of a
hopeful spirit was dead within her; and she told me, that by many tokens
she was assured her bairn was already slain.—“Thrice,” said she, “I have
seen his wraith—the first time he was in the pride of his young manhood,
the next he was pale and wan, with a bloody and gashy wound in his side,
and the third time there was a smoke, and, when it cleared away, I saw
him in a grave, with neither winding-sheet nor coffin.”

The tale of this pious and resigned spirit dwelt in mine ear, and, when I
went home, Mrs. Balwhidder thought that I had met with an o’ercome, and
was very uneasy; so she got the tea soon ready to make me better; but
scarcely had we tasted the first cup when a loud lamentation was heard in
the kitchen.  This was from that tawpy the wife of Thomas Wilson, with
her three weans.  They had been seeking their meat among the farmer
houses, and, in coming home, forgathered on the road with the Glasgow
carrier, who told them that news had come, in the _London Gazette_, of a
battle, in which the regiment that Thomas had listed in was engaged, and
had suffered loss both in rank and file; none doubting that their head
was in the number of the slain, the whole family grat aloud, and came to
the manse, bewailing him as no more; and it afterwards turned out to be
the case, making it plain to me that there is a farseeing discernment in
the spirit, that reaches beyond the scope of our incarnate senses.

But the weight of the war did not end with these afflictions; for,
instead of the sorrow that the listing caused, and the anxiety after, and
the grief of the bloody tidings, operating as wholesome admonition to our
young men, the natural perversity of the human heart was more and more
manifested.  A wonderful interest was raised among us all to hear of what
was going on in the world; insomuch, that I myself was no longer
contented with the relation of the news of the month in the _Scots
Magazine_, but joined with my father-in-law, Mr. Kibbock, to get a
newspaper twice a-week from Edinburgh.  As for Lady Macadam, who being
naturally an impatient woman, she had one sent to her three times a-week
from London, so that we had something fresh five times every week; and
the old papers were lent out to the families who had friends in the wars.
This was done on my suggestion, hoping it would make all content with
their peaceable lot; but dominion for a time had been given to the power
of contrariness, and it had quite an opposite effect.  It begot a
curiosity, egging on to enterprise; and, greatly to my sorrow, three of
the brawest lads in the parish, or in any parish, all in one day took on
with a party of the Scots Greys that were then lying in Ayr; and nothing
would satisfy the callans at Mr. Lorimore’s school, but, instead of their
innocent plays with girs, and shinties, and sicklike, they must go
ranking like soldiers, and fight sham-fights in bodies.  In short, things
grew to a perfect hostility, for a swarm of weans came out from the
schools of Irville on a Saturday afternoon, and, forgathering with ours,
they had a battle with stones on the toll-road, such as was dreadful to
hear of; for many a one got a mark that day he will take to the grave
with him.

It was not, however, by accidents of the field only, that we were
afflicted; those of the flood, too, were sent likewise against us.  In
the month of October, when the corn was yet in the holms, and on the cold
land by the river side, the water of Irville swelled to a great spait,
from bank to brae, sweeping all before it, and roaring, in its might,
like an agent of divine displeasure, sent forth to punish the inhabitants
of the earth.  The loss of the victual was a thing reparable, and those
that suffered did not greatly complain; for, in other respects, their
harvest had been plenteous: but the river, in its fury, not content with
overflowing the lands, burst through the sandy hills with a raging force,
and a riving asunder of the solid ground, as when the fountains of the
great deep were broken up.  All in the parish was a-foot, and on the
hills, some weeping and wringing their hands, not knowing what would
happen, when they beheld the landmarks of the waters deserted, and the
river breaking away through the country, like the war-horse set loose in
his pasture, and glorying in his might.  By this change in the way and
channel of the river, all the mills in our parish were left more than
half a mile from dam or lade; and the farmers through the whole winter,
till the new mills were built, had to travel through a heavy road with
their victual, which was a great grievance, and added not a little to the
afflictions of this unhappy year, which to me were not without a
particularity, by the death of a full cousin of Mrs. Balwhidder, my first
wife; she was grievously burnt by looting over a candle.  Her mutch,
which was of the high structure then in vogue, took fire, and being
fastened with corking-pins to a great toupee, it could not be got off
until she had sustained a deadly injury, of which, after lingering long,
she was kindly eased by her removal from trouble.  This sore accident was
to me a matter of deep concern and cogitation; but as it happened in
Tarbolton, and no in our parish, I have only alluded to it to show, that
when my people were chastised by the hand of Providence, their pastor was
not spared, but had a drop from the same vial.

YEAR 1778

THIS year was as the shadow of the bygane: there was less actual
suffering, but what we came through cast a gloom among us, and we did not
get up our spirits till the spring was far advanced; the corn was in the
ear, and the sun far towards midsummer height, before there was any
regular show of gladness in the parish.

It was clear to me that the wars were not to be soon over; for I noticed,
in the course of this year, that there was a greater christening of lad
bairns than had ever been in any year during my incumbency; and grave and
wise persons, observant of the signs of the times, said, that it had been
long held as a sure prognostication of war, when the births of male
children outnumbered that of females.

Our chief misfortune in this year was a revival of that wicked mother of
many mischiefs, the smuggling trade, which concerned me greatly; but it
was not allowed to it to make any thing like a permanent stay among us,
though in some of the neighbouring parishes, its ravages, both in morals
and property, were very distressing, and many a mailing was sold to pay
for the triumphs of the cutters and gaugers; for the government was by
this time grown more eager, and the war caused the king’s ships to be out
and about, which increased the trouble of the smugglers, whose wits in
their turn were thereby much sharpened.

After Mrs. Malcolm, by the settlement of Captain Macadam, had given up
her dealing, two maiden women, that were sisters, Betty and Janet Pawkie,
came in among us from Ayr, where they had friends in league with some of
the laigh land folk, that carried on the contraband with the Isle of Man,
which was the very eye of the smuggling.  They took up the tea-selling,
which Mrs. Malcolm had dropped, and did business on a larger scale,
having a general huxtry, with parliament-cakes, and candles, and
pincushions, as well as other groceries, in their window.  Whether they
had any contraband dealings, or were only back-bitten, I cannot take it
upon me to say; but it was jealoused in the parish that the meal in the
sacks, that came to their door at night, and was sent to the Glasgow
market in the morning, was not made of corn.  They were, however, decent
women, both sedate and orderly; the eldest, Betty Pawkie, was of a manly
stature, and had a long beard, which made her have a coarse look; but she
was, nevertheless, a worthy, well-doing creature, and at her death she
left ten pounds to the poor of the parish, as may be seen in the
mortification board that the session put up in the kirk as a
testification and an example.

Shortly after the revival of the smuggling, an exciseman was put among
us, and the first was Robin Bicker, a very civil lad that had been a
flunkey with Sir Hugh Montgomerie, when he was a residenter in Edinburgh,
before the old Sir Hugh’s death.  He was a queer fellow, and had a coothy
way of getting in about folk, the which was very serviceable to him in
his vocation; nor was he overly gleg: but when a job was ill done, and he
was obliged to notice it, he would often break out on the smugglers for
being so stupid, so that for an exciseman he was wonderful well liked,
and did not object to a waught of brandy at a time; when the auld wives
ca’d it well-water.  It happened, however, that some unneighbourly person
sent him notice of a clecking of tea chests, or brandy kegs, at which
both Jenny and Betty Pawkie were the howdies.  Robin could not but
therefore enter their house; however, before going in, he just cried at
the door to somebody on the road, so as to let the twa industrious
lassies hear he was at hand.  They were not slack in closing the
trance-door, and putting stoups and stools behind it, so as to cause
trouble, and give time before any body could get in.  They then emptied
their chaff-bed, and filled the tikeing with tea, and Betty went in on
the top, covering herself with the blanket, and graining like a woman in
labour.  It was thought that Robin Bicker himself would not have been
overly particular in searching the house, considering there was a woman
seemingly in the death-thraws; but a sorner, an incomer from the east
country, and that hung about the change-house as a divor hostler, that
would rather gang a day’s journey in the dark than turn a spade in
day-light, came to him as he stood at the door, and went in with him to
see the sport.  Robin, for some reason, could not bid him go away, and
both Betty and Janet were sure he was in the plot against them; indeed,
it was always thought he was an informer, and no doubt he was something
not canny, for he had a down look.

It was some time before the doorway was cleared of the stoups and stools,
and Jenny was in great concern, and flustered, as she said, for her poor
sister, who was taken with a heart-colic.  “I’m sorry for her,” said
Robin, “but I’ll be as quiet as possible;” and so he searched all the
house, but found nothing; at the which his companion, the divor east
country hostler, swore an oath that could not be misunderstood; so,
without more ado, but as all thought against the grain, Robin went up to
sympathize with Betty in the bed, whose groans were loud and vehement.
“Let me feel your pulse,” said Robin, and he looted down as she put forth
her arm from aneath the clothes, and laying his hand on the bed, cried,
“Hey! what’s this? this is a costly filling.”  Upon which Betty jumpet up
quite recovered, and Jenny fell to the wailing and railing, while the
hostler from the east country took the bed of tea on his back, to carry
it to the change-house, till a cart was gotten to take it into the
custom-house at Irville.

Betty Pawkie being thus suddenly cured, and grudging the loss of
property, took a knife in her hand, and as the divor was crossing the
burn at the stepping-stones that lead to the back of the change-house,
she ran after him and ripped up the tikeing, and sent all the tea
floating away on the burn, which was thought a brave action of Betty, and
the story not a little helped to lighten our melancholy meditations.

Robin Bicker was soon after this affair removed to another district, and
we got in his place one Mungo Argyle, who was as proud as a provost,
being come of Highland parentage.  Black was the hour he came among my
people; for he was needy and greedy, and rode on the top of his
commission.  Of all the manifold ills in the train of smuggling, surely
the excisemen are the worst, and the setting of this rabiator over us was
a severe judgment for our sins.  But he suffered for’t, and peace be with
him in the grave, where the wicked cease from troubling!

Willie Malcolm, the youngest son of his mother, had by this time learned
all that Mr. Lorimore, the schoolmaster, could teach; and as it was
evidenced to every body, by his mild manners and saintliness of
demeanour, that he was a chosen vessel, his mother longed to fulfil his
own wish, which was doubtless the natural working of the act of grace
that had been shed upon him; but she had not the wherewithal to send him
to the college of Glasgow, where he was desirous to study, and her just
pride would not allow her to cess his brother-in-law, the Captain
Macadam, whom, I should now mention, was raised in the end of this year,
as we read in the newspapers, to be a major.  I thought her in this
somewhat unreasonable, for she would not be persuaded to let me write to
the captain; but when I reflected on the good that Willie Malcolm might
in time do as a preacher, I said nothing more to her, but indited a
letter to the Lord Eaglesham, setting forth the lad’s parts, telling who
he was and all about his mother’s scruples; and, by the retour of the
post from London his lordship sent me an order on his steward, to pay me
twenty pounds towards equipping my protegée, as he called Willie, with a
promise to pay for his education, which was such a great thing for his
lordship to do off-hand on my recommendation, that it won much affection
throughout the country side; and folks began to wonder, rehearsing the
great things, as was said, that I had gotten my lord at different times,
and on divers occasions, to do, which had a vast of influence among my
brethren of the presbytery, and they grew into a state of greater
cordiality with me, looking on me as a man having authority; but I was
none thereat lifted up, for not being gifted with the power of a
kirk-filling eloquence, I was but little sought for at sacraments, and
fasts, and solemn days, which was doubtless well ordained; for I had no
motive to seek fame in foreign pulpits, but was left to walk in the paths
of simplicity within my own parish.  To eschew evil myself, and to teach
others to do the same, I thought the main duties of the pastoral office,
and with a sincere heart endeavoured what in me lay to perform them with
meekness, sobriety, and a spirit wakeful to the inroads of sin and Satan.
But oh, the sordiness of human nature!—The kindness of the Lord
Eaglesham’s own disposition was ascribed to my influence, and many a dry
answer I was obliged to give to applicants that would have me trouble his
lordship, as if I had a claim upon him.  In the ensuing year, the notion
of my cordiality with him came to a great head, and brought about an
event, that could not have been forethought by me as a thing within the
compass of possibility to bring to pass.

YEAR 1779

I WAS named in this year for the General Assembly, and Mrs. Balwhidder,
by her continual thrift, having made our purse able to stand a shake
against the wind, we resolved to go into Edinburgh in a creditable
manner.  Accordingly, in conjunct with Mrs. Dalrymple, the lady of a
major of that name, we hired the Irville chaise, and we put up in
Glasgow, at the Black Boy, where we stayed all night.  Next morning, by
seven o’clock, we got into a fly-coach for the capital of Scotland, which
we reached after a heavy journey about the same hour in the evening, and
put up at the public where it stopped till the next day; for really both
me and Mrs. Balwhidder were worn out with the undertaking, and found a
cup of tea a vast refreshment.

Betimes, in the morning, having taken our breakfast, we got a caddy to
guide us and our wallise to Widow M‘Vicar’s, at the head of the
Covenanters’ Close.  She was a relation to my first wife, Betty Lanshaw,
my own full cousin that was, and we had advised her, by course of post,
of our coming, and intendment to lodge with her as uncos and strangers.
But Mrs. M‘Vicar kept a cloth shop, and sold plaidings and flannels,
besides Yorkshire superfines, and was used to the sudden incoming of
strangers, especially visitants, both from the West and the North
Highlands, and was withal a gawsy furthy woman, taking great pleasure in
hospitality, and every sort of kindliness and discretion.  She would not
allow of such a thing as our being lodgers in her house, but was so cagey
to see us, and to have it in her power to be civil to a minister, as she
was pleased to say, of such repute, that nothing less would content her
but that we must live upon her, and partake of all the best that could be
gotten for us within the walls of “the gude town.”

When we found ourselves so comfortable, Mrs. Balwhidder and me waited on
my patron’s family that was, the young ladies, and the laird, who had
been my pupil, but was now an advocate high in the law.  They likewise
were kind also.  In short, every body in Edinburgh were in a manner
wearisome kind, and we could scarcely find time to see the Castle and the
palace of Holyrood-house, and that more sanctified place, where the
Maccabeus of the Kirk of Scotland, John Knox, was wont to live.

Upon my introduction to his grace the Commissioner, I was delighted and
surprised to find the Lord Eaglesham at the levee, and his lordship was
so glad on seeing me, that he made me more kenspeckle than I could have
wished to have been in his grace’s presence; for, owing to the same, I
was required to preach before his grace, upon a jocose recommendation of
his lordship; the which gave me great concern, and daunted me so that in
the interim I was almost bereft of all peace and studious composure of
mind.  Fain would I have eschewed the honour that was thus thrust upon
me; but both my wife and Mrs. M‘Vicar were just lifted out of themselves
with the thought.

When the day came, I thought all things in this world were loosened from
their hold, and that the sure and steadfast earth itself was grown coggly
beneath my feet, as I mounted the pulpit.  With what sincerity I prayed
for help that day! and never stood man more in need of it; for through
all my prayer the congregation was so watchful and still, doubtless to
note if my doctrine was orthodox, that the beating of my heart might have
been heard to the uttermost corners of the kirk.

I had chosen as my text, from Second Samuel, xixth chapter and 35th
verse, these words—“Can I hear any more the voice of singing men and
singing women?  Wherefore, then, should thy servant be yet a burden to
the king?”  And hardly had I with a trembling voice read the words, when
I perceived an awful stir in the congregation; for all applied the words
to the state of the church, and the appointment of his grace the
Commissioner.  Having paused after giving out the text, the same fearful
and critical silence again ensued, and every eye was so fixed upon me,
that I was for a time deprived of courage to look about; but heaven was
pleased to compassionate my infirmity, and as I proceeded, I began to
warm as in my own pulpit.  I described the gorgeous Babylonian harlot
riding forth in her chariots of gold and silver, with trampling steeds
and a hurricane of followers, drunk with the cup of abominations, all
shouting with revelry, and glorying in her triumph, treading down in
their career those precious pearls, the saints and martyrs, into the mire
beneath their swinish feet.  “Before her you may behold Wantonness
playing the tinkling cymbal, Insolence beating the drum, and Pride
blowing the trumpet.  Every vice is there with his emblems; and the
seller of pardons, with his crucifix and triple crown, is distributing
his largess of perdition.  The voices of men shout to set wide the gates,
to give entrance to the queen of nations, and the gates are set wide, and
they all enter.  The avenging gates close on them—they are all shut up in

There was a sough in the kirk as I said these words; for the vision I
described seemed to be passing before me as I spoke, and I felt as if I
had witnessed the everlasting destruction of Antichrist, and the
worshippers of the Beast.  But soon recovering myself, I said in a soft
and gentle manner, “Look at yon lovely creature in virgin-raiment, with
the Bible in her hand.  See how mildly she walks along, giving alms to
the poor as she passes on towards the door of that lowly dwelling—Let us
follow her in—She takes her seat in the chair at the bedside of the poor
old dying sinner; and as he tosses in the height of penitence and
despair, she reads to him the promise of the Saviour—‘This night thou
shalt be with me in Paradise;’ and he embraces her with transports, and,
falling back on his pillow, calmly closes his eyes in peace.  She is the
true religion; and when I see what she can do even in the last moments of
the guilty, well may we exclaim, when we think of the symbols and
pageantry of the departed superstition, Can I hear any more the voice of
singing men and singing women?  No; let us cling to the simplicity of the
Truth that is now established in our native land.”

At the conclusion of this clause of my discourse, the congregation, which
had been all so still and so solemn, never coughing, as was often the
case among my people, gave a great rustle, changing their positions, by
which I was almost overcome; however, I took heart and ventured on, and
pointed out that, with our Bible and an orthodox priesthood, we stood in
no need of the king’s authority, however bound we were, in temporal
things, to respect it; and I showed this at some length, crying out in
the words of my text, “Wherefore, then, should thy servant be yet a
burden to the king?” in the saying of which I happened to turn my eyes
towards his grace the Commissioner, as he sat on the throne, and I
thought his countenance was troubled, which made me add, that he might
not think I meant him any offence, “That the King of the Church was one
before whom the great, and the wise, and the good—all doomed and
sentenced convicts—implore his mercy.”  “It is true,” said I, “that in
the days of his tribulation he was wounded for our iniquities, and died
to save us; but, at his death, his greatness was proclaimed by the quick
and the dead.  There was sorrow, and there was wonder, and there was
rage, and there was remorse; but there was no shame there—none blushed on
that day at that sight but yon glorious luminary.”  The congregation
rose, and looked round, as the sun that I pointed at shone in at the
window.  I was disconcerted by their movement, and my spirit was spent,
so that I could say no more.

When I came down from the pulpit, there was a great pressing in of
acquaintance and ministers, who lauded me exceedingly; but I thought it
could be only in derision, therefore I slipped home to Mrs. M‘Vicar’s as
fast as I could.

Mrs. M‘Vicar, who was a clever, hearing-all sort of a neighbour, said my
sermon was greatly thought of, and that I had surprised everybody; but I
was fearful there was something of jocularity at the bottom of this, for
she was a flaunty woman, and liked well to give a good-humoured gibe or
jeer.  However, his grace the Commissioner was very thankful for the
discourse, and complimented me on what he called my apostolical
earnestness; but he was a courteous man, and I could not trust to him,
especially as my lord Eaglesham had told me in secrecy before—it’s true,
it was in his gallanting way—that, in speaking of the king’s servant as I
had done, I had rather gone beyond the bounds of modern moderation.
Altogether, I found neither pleasure nor profit in what was thought so
great an honour, but longed for the privacy of my own narrow pasture, and
little flock.

It was in this visit to Edinburgh that Mrs. Balwhidder bought her silver
teapot, and other ornamental articles; but this was not done, as she
assured me, in a vain spirit of bravery, which I could not have abided,
but because it was well known that tea draws better in a silver pot, and
drinks pleasanter in a china cup, than out of any other kind of cup or

By the time I got home to the manse, I had been three whole weeks and
five days absent, which was more than all my absences together, from the
time of my placing; and my people were glowing with satisfaction when
they saw us driving in a Glasgow chaise through the clachan to the manse.

The rest of the year was merely a quiet succession of small incidents,
none of which are worthy of notation, though they were all severally, no
doubt, of aught somewhere, as they took us both time and place in the
coming to pass, and nothing comes to pass without helping onwards to some
great end; each particular little thing that happens in the world being a
seed sown by the hand of Providence to yield an increase, which increase
is destined, in its turn, to minister to some higher purpose, until at
last the issue affects the whole earth.  There is nothing in all the
world that doth not advance the cause of goodness; no, not even the sins
of the wicked, though, through the dim casement of her mortal tabernacle,
the soul of man cannot discern the method thereof.

YEAR 1780

THIS was, among ourselves, another year of few events.  A sound, it is
true, came among us of a design, on the part of the government in London,
to bring back the old harlotry of papistry; but we spent our time in the
lea of the hedge, and the lown of the hill.  Some there were that a panic
seized upon when they heard of Lord George Gordon, that zealous
Protestant, being committed to the Tower; but for my part, I had no
terror upon me, for I saw all things around me going forward improving;
and I said to myself, it is not so when Providence permits scathe and
sorrow to fall upon a nation.  Civil troubles, and the casting down of
thrones, is always forewarned by want and poverty striking the people.
What I have, therefore, chiefly to record as the memorables of this year,
are things of small import—the main of which are, that some of the
neighbouring lairds, taking example by Mr. Kibbock, my father-in-law that
was, began in this fall to plant the tops of their hills with mounts of
fir-trees; and Mungo Argyle, the exciseman, just herried the poor
smugglers to death, and made a power of prize-money, which, however, had
not the wonted effect of riches, for it brought him no honour; and he
lived in the parish like a leper, or any other kind of excommunicated

But I should not forget a most droll thing that took place with Jenny
Gaffaw, and her daughter.  They had been missed from the parish for some
days, and folk began to be uneasy about what could have become of the two
silly creatures; till one night, at the dead hour, a strange light was
seen beaming and burning at the window of the bit hole where they lived.
It was first observed by Lady Macadam, who never went to bed at any
Christian hour, but sat up reading her new French novels and play-books
with Miss Sabrina, the schoolmistress.  She gave the alarm, thinking that
such a great and continuous light from a lone house, where never candle
had been seen before, could be nothing less than the flame of a burning.
And sending Miss Sabrina and the servants to see what was the matter,
they beheld daft Jenny, and her as daft daughter, with a score of candle
doups, (Heaven only knows where they got them!) placed in the window, and
the twa fools dancing, and linking, and admiring before the door.
“What’s all this about, Jenny,” said Miss Sabrina.—“Awa’ wi’ you, awa’
wi’ you—ye wicked pope, ye whore of Babylon—is na it for the glory of
God, and the Protestant religion? d’ye think I will be a pope as long as
light can put out darkness?”—And with that the mother and daughter began
again to leap and dance as madly as before.

It seems that poor Jenny, having heard of the luminations that were
lighted up through the country on the ending of the Popish Bill, had,
with Meg, travelled by themselves into Glasgow, where they had gathered
or begged a stock of candles, and coming back under the cloud of night,
had surprised and alarmed the whole clachan, by lighting up their window
in the manner that I have described.  Poor Miss Sabrina, at Jenny’s
uncivil salutation, went back to my lady with her heart full, and would
fain have had the idiots brought to task before the session, for what
they had said to her.  But I would not hear tell of such a thing, for
which Miss Sabrina owed me a grudge that was not soon given up.  At the
same time, I was grieved to see the testimonies of joyfulness for a holy
victory, brought into such disrepute by the ill-timed demonstrations of
the two irreclaimable naturals, that had not a true conception of the
cause for which they were triumphing.

YEAR 1781

IF the two last years passed o’er the heads of me and my people without
any manifest dolour, which is a great thing to say for so long a period
in this world, we had our own trials and tribulations in the one of which
I have now to make mention.  Mungo Argyle, the exciseman, waxing rich,
grew proud and petulant, and would have ruled the country side with a rod
of iron.  Nothing less would serve him than a fine horse to ride on, and
a world of other conveniences and luxuries, as if he had been on an
equality with gentlemen.  And he bought a grand gun, which was called a
fowling-piece; and he had two pointer dogs, the like of which had not
been seen in the parish since the planting of the Eaglesham-wood on the
moorland, which was four years before I got the call.  Every body said
the man was fey; and truly, when I remarked him so gallant and gay on the
Sabbath at the kirk, and noted his glowing face and gleg een, I thought
at times there was something no canny about him.  It was indeed clear to
be seen, that the man was hurried out of himself; but nobody could have
thought that the death he was to dree would have been what it was.

About the end of summer my Lord Eaglesham came to the castle, bringing
with him an English madam, that was his Miss.  Some days after he came
down from London, as he was riding past the manse, his lordship stopped
to enquire for my health, and I went to the door to speak to him.  I
thought that he did not meet me with that blithe countenance he was wont,
and in going away, he said with a blush, “I fear I dare not ask you to
come to the castle.”  I had heard of his concubine, and I said, “In
saying so, my lord, you show a spark of grace; for it would not become me
to see what I have heard; and I am surprised, my lord, you will not
rather take a lady of your own.”  He looked kindly, but confused, saying,
he did not know where to get one; so seeing his shame, and not wishing to
put him out of conceit entirely with himself, I replied, “Na, na, my
lord, there’s nobody will believe that, for there never was a silly Jock,
but there was as silly a Jenny,” at which he laughed heartily, and rode
away.  But I know not what was in’t; I was troubled in mind about him,
and thought, as he was riding away, that I would never see him again; and
sure enough it so happened; for the next day, being airing in his coach
with Miss Spangle, the lady he had brought, he happened to see Mungo
Argyle with his dogs and his gun, and my lord being as particular about
his game as the other was about boxes of tea and kegs of brandy, he
jumped out of the carriage, and ran to take the gun.  Words passed, and
the exciseman shot my lord.  Never shall I forget that day; such riding,
such running, the whole country side afoot; but the same night my lord
breathed his last; and the mad and wild reprobate that did the deed was
taken up and sent off to Edinburgh.  This was a woeful riddance of that
oppressor, for my lord was a good landlord and a kind-hearted man; and
albeit, though a little thoughtless, was aye ready to make his power,
when the way was pointed out, minister to good works.  The whole parish
mourned for him, and there was not a sorer heart in all its bounds than
my own.  Never was such a sight seen as his burial: the whole country
side was there, and all as solemn as if they had been assembled in the
valley of Jehoshaphat in the latter day.  The hedges where the funeral
was to pass were clad with weans, like bunches of hips and haws, and the
kirkyard was as if all its own dead were risen.  Never, do I think, was
such a multitude gathered together.  Some thought there could not be less
than three thousand grown men, besides women and children.

Scarcely was this great public calamity past, for it could be reckoned no
less, when one Saturday afternoon, as Miss Sabrina, the schoolmistress,
was dining with Lady Macadam, her ladyship was stricken with the
paralytics, and her face so thrown in the course of a few minutes, that
Miss Sabrina came flying to the manse for the help and advice of Mrs.
Balwhidder.  A doctor was gotten with all speed by express; but her
ladyship was smitten beyond the reach of medicine.  She lived, however,
some time after; but oh! she was such an object, that it was a grief to
see her.  She could only mutter when she tried to speak, and was as
helpless as a baby.  Though she never liked me, nor could I say there was
many things in her demeanour that pleased me; yet she was a free-handed
woman to the needful, and when she died she was more missed than it was
thought she could have been.

Shortly after her funeral, which was managed by a gentleman sent from her
friends in Edinburgh, that I wrote to about her condition, the Major, her
son, with his lady, Kate Malcolm, and two pretty bairns, came and stayed
in her house for a time, and they were a great happiness to us all, both
in the way of drinking tea, and sometimes taking a bit of dinner, their
only mother now, the worthy and pious Mrs. Malcolm, being regularly of
the company.

Before the end of the year, I should mention, that the fortune of Mrs.
Malcolm’s family got another shove upwards, by the promotion of her
second son, Robert Malcolm, who, being grown an expert and careful
mariner, was made captain of a grand ship, whereof Provost Maitland of
Glasgow, that was kind to his mother in her distresses, was the owner.
But that douce lad Willie, her youngest son, who was at the university of
Glasgow under the Lord Eaglesham’s patronage, was like to have suffered a
blight.  However, Major Macadam, when I spoke to him anent the young
man’s loss of his patron, said, with a pleasant generosity, he should not
be stickit; and, accordingly, he made up, as far as money could, for the
loss of his lordship; but there was none that made up for the great power
and influence, which, I have no doubt, the Earl would have exerted in his
behalf, when he was ripened for the church.  So that, although in time
William came out a sound and heart-searching preacher, he was long
obliged, like many another unfriended saint, to cultivate sand, and wash
Ethiopians in the shape of an east country gentleman’s camstrairy weans;
than which, as he wrote me himself, there cannot be on earth a greater
trial of temper.  However, in the end he was rewarded, and is not only
now a placed minister, but a doctor of divinity.

The death of Lady Macadam was followed by another parochial misfortune;
for, considering the time when it happened, we could count it as nothing
less.  Auld Thomas Howkings, the betheral, fell sick, and died in the
course of a week’s illness, about the end of November; and the measles
coming at that time upon the parish, there was such a smashery of the
poor weans as had not been known for an age; insomuch that James Banes,
the lad who was Thomas Howkings’ helper, rose in open rebellion against
the session during his superior’s illness; and we were constrained to
augment his pay, and to promise him the place if Thomas did not recover,
which it was then thought he could not do.  On the day this happened,
there were three dead children in the clachan, and a panic and
consternation spread about the burial of them when James Bane’s
insurrection was known, which made both me and the session glad to hush
up the affair, that the heart of the public might have no more than the
sufferings of individuals to hurt it.—Thus ended a year, on many
accounts, heavy to be remembered.

YEAR 1782

ALTHOUGH I have not been particular in noticing it, from time to time,
there had been an occasional going off, at fairs and on market-days, of
the lads of the parish as soldiers, and when Captain Malcolm got the
command of his ship, no less than four young men sailed with him from the
clachan; so that we were deeper and deeper interested in the proceedings
of the doleful war that was raging in the plantations.  By one post we
heard of no less than three brave fellows belonging to us being slain in
one battle, for which there was a loud and general lamentation.

Shortly after this, I got a letter from Charles Malcolm, a very pretty
letter it indeed was: he had heard of my Lord Eaglesham’s murder, and
grieved for the loss, both because his lordship was a good man, and
because he had been such a friend to him and his family.  “But,” said
Charles, “the best way I can show my gratitude for his patronage, is to
prove myself a good officer to my king and country.”  Which I thought a
brave sentiment, and was pleased thereat; for somehow Charles, from the
time he brought me the limes to make a bowl of punch, in his pocket from
Jamaica, had built a nest of affection in my heart.  But, oh! the wicked
wastry of life in war.  In less than a month after, the news came of a
victory over the French fleet, and by the same post I got a letter from
Mr. Howard, that was the midshipman who came to see us with Charles,
telling me that poor Charles had been mortally wounded in the action, and
had afterwards died of his wounds.  “He was a hero in the engagement,”
said Mr. Howard, “and he died as a good and a brave man should.”—These
tidings gave me one of the sorest hearts I ever suffered, and it was long
before I could gather fortitude to disclose the tidings to poor Charles’s
mother.  But the callants of the school had heard of the victory, and
were going shouting about, and had set the steeple bell a-ringing, by
which Mrs. Malcolm heard the news; and knowing that Charles’s ship was
with the fleet, she came over to the manse in great anxiety to hear the
particulars, somebody telling her that there had been a foreign letter to
me by the postman.

When I saw her I could not speak, but looked at her in pity, and, the
tear fleeing up into my eyes, she guessed what had happened.  After
giving a deep and sore sigh, she enquired, “How did he behave?  I hope
well, for he was aye a gallant laddie!”—and then she wept very bitterly.
However, growing calmer, I read to her the letter; and, when I had done,
she begged me to give it to her to keep, saying, “It’s all that I have
now left of my pretty boy; but it’s mair precious to me than the wealth
of the Indies;” and she begged me to return thanks to the Lord for all
the comforts and manifold mercies with which her lot had been blessed,
since the hour she put her trust in him alone; and that was when she was
left a penniless widow, with her five fatherless bairns.

It was just an edification of the spirit to see the Christian resignation
of this worthy woman.  Mrs. Balwhidder was confounded, and said, there
was more sorrow in seeing the deep grief of her fortitude than tongue
could tell.

                         [Picture: The Old Herd]

Having taken a glass of wine with her, I walked out to conduct her to her
own house; but in the way we met with a severe trial.  All the weans were
out parading with napkins and kail-blades on sticks, rejoicing and
triumphing in the glad tidings of victory.  But when they saw me and Mrs.
Malcolm coming slowly along, they guessed what had happened, and threw
away their banners of joy; and standing all up in a row, with silence and
sadness, along the kirkyard wall as we passed, showed an instinct of
compassion that penetrated to my very soul.  The poor mother burst into
fresh affliction, and some of the bairns into an audible weeping; and,
taking one another by the hand, they followed us to her door, like
mourners at a funeral.  Never was such a sight seen in any town before.
The neighbours came to look at it as we walked along, and the men turned
aside to hide their faces; while the mothers pressed their babies
fondlier to their bosoms, and watered their innocent faces with their

I prepared a suitable sermon, taking as the words of my text, “Howl, ye
ships of Tarshish, for your strength is laid waste.”  But when I saw
around me so many of my people clad in complimentary mourning for the
gallant Charles Malcolm, and that even poor daft Jenny Gaffaw, and her
daughter, had on an old black riband; and when I thought of him, the
spirited laddie, coming home from Jamaica with his parrot on his
shoulder, and his limes for me, my heart filled full, and I was obliged
to sit down in the pulpit, and drop a tear.

After a pause, and the Lord having vouchsafed to compose me, I rose up,
and gave out that anthem of triumph, the 124th psalm, the singing of
which brought the congregation round to themselves; but still I felt that
I could not preach as I had meant to do; therefore I only said a few
words of prayer, and singing another psalm, dismissed the congregation.

YEAR 1783

THIS was another Sabbath year of my ministry.  It has left me nothing to
record but a silent increase of prosperity in the parish.  I myself had
now in the bank more than a thousand pounds, and every thing was thriving
around.  My two bairns, Gilbert, that is now the merchant in Glasgow, was
grown into a sturdy ramplor laddie, and Janet, that is married upon Dr.
Kittleword, the minister of Swappington, was as fine a lassie for her
years as the eyes of a parent could desire to see.

Shortly after the news of the peace, an event at which all gave
themselves up to joy, a thing happened among us that at the time caused
much talk; but although very dreadful, was yet not so serious, some how
or other, as such an awsome doing should have been.  Poor Jenny Gaffaw
happened to take a heavy cold, and soon thereafter died.  Meg went about
from house to house, begging dead-clothes, and got the body straighted in
a wonderful decent manner, with a plate of earth and salt placed upon
it—an admonitory type of mortality and eternal life that has
ill-advisedly gone out of fashion.  When I heard of this, I could not but
go to see how a creature that was not thought possessed of a grain of
understanding, could have done so much herself.  On entering the door, I
beheld Meg sitting with two or three of the neighbouring kimmers, and the
corpse laid out on a bed.  “Come awa’, sir,” said Meg; “this is an
altered house.  They’re gane that keepit it bein; but, sir, we maun a’
come to this—we maun pay the debt o’ nature—death is a grim creditor, and
a doctor but brittle bail when the hour of reckoning’s at han’!  What a
pity it is, mother, that you’re now dead, for here’s the minister come to
see you.  Oh, sir! but she would have had a proud heart to see you in her
dwelling, for she had a genteel turn, and would not let me, her only
daughter, mess or mell wi’ the lathron lasses of the clachan.  Ay, ay,
she brought me up with care, and edicated me for a lady: nae coarse wark
darkened my lily-white hands.  But I maun work now; I maun dree the
penalty of man.”

Having stopped some time, listening to the curious maunnering of Meg, I
rose to come away; but she laid her hand on my arm, saying, “No, sir, ye
maun taste before ye gang!  My mother had aye plenty in her life, nor
shall her latter day be needy.”

Accordingly, Meg, with all the due formality common on such occasions,
produced a bottle of water, and a dram-glass, which she filled and
tasted, then presented to me, at the same time offering me a bit of bread
on a slate.  It was a consternation to everybody how the daft creature
had learnt all the ceremonies, which she performed in a manner past the
power of pen to describe, making the solemnity of death, by her strange
mockery, a kind of merriment, that was more painful than sorrow; but some
spirits are gifted with a faculty of observation, that, by the strength
of a little fancy, enables them to make a wonderful and truthlike
semblance of things and events, which they never saw, and poor Meg seemed
to have this gift.

The same night, the session having provided a coffin, the body was put
in, and removed to Mr. Mutchkin’s brewhouse, where the lads and lassies
kept the late-wake.

Saving this, the year flowed in a calm, and we floated on in the stream
of time towards the great ocean of eternity, like ducks and geese in the
river’s tide, that are carried down without being sensible of the speed
of the current.  Alas! we have not wings like them, to fly back to the
place we set out from.

YEAR 1784

I HAVE ever thought that this was a bright year, truly an Ann. Dom., for
in it many of the lads came home that had listed to be soldiers; and Mr.
Howard, that was the midshipman, being now a captain of a man-of-war,
came down from England and married Effie Malcolm, and took her up with
him to London, where she wrote to her mother, that she found his family
people of great note, and more kind to her than she could write.  By this
time, also, Major Macadam was made a colonel, and lived with his lady in
Edinburgh, where they were much respected by the genteeler classes, Mrs.
Macadam being considered a great unco among them for all manner of
ladylike ornaments, she having been taught every sort of perfection in
that way by the old lady, who was educated at the court of France, and
was, from her birth, a person of quality.  In this year, also, Captain
Malcolm, her brother, married a daughter of a Glasgow merchant, so that
Mrs. Malcolm, in her declining years, had the prospect of a bright
setting; but nothing could change the sober Christianity of her settled
mind; and although she was strongly invited, both by the Macadams and the
Howards, to see their felicity, she ever declined the same, saying—“No!
I have been long out of the world, or rather, I have never been in it; my
ways are not as theirs; and although I ken their hearts would be glad to
be kind to me, I might fash their servants, or their friends might think
me unlike other folk, by which, instead of causing pleasure,
mortification might ensue; so I will remain in my own house, trusting
that, when they can spare the time, they will come and see me.”

There was a spirit of true wisdom in this resolution, for it required a
forbearance that in weaker minds would have relaxed; but though a person
of a most slender and delicate frame of body, she was a Judith in
fortitude; and in all the fortune that seemed now smiling upon her, she
never was lifted up, but bore always that pale and meek look, which gave
a saintliness to her endeavours in the days of her suffering and poverty.

But when we enjoy most, we have least to tell.  I look back on this year
as on a sunny spot in the valley, amidst the shadows of the clouds of
time; and I have nothing to record, save the remembrance of welcomings
and weddings, and a meeting of bairns and parents, that the wars and the
waters had long raged between.  Contentment within the bosom, lent a
livelier grace to the countenance of Nature; and everybody said, that in
this year the hedges were greener than common, the gowans brighter on the
brae, and the heads of the statelier trees adorned with a richer coronal
of leaves and blossoms.  All things were animated with the gladness of
thankfulness, and testified to the goodness of their Maker.

YEAR 1785

WELL may we say, in the pious words of my old friend and neighbour, the
Reverend Mr. Keekie of Loupinton, that the world is such a
wheel-carriage, that it might very properly be called the WHIRL’D.  This
reflection was brought home to me in a very striking manner, while I was
preparing a discourse for my people, to be preached on the anniversary
day of my placing, in which I took a view of what had passed in the
parish during the five-and-twenty years that I had been, by the grace of
God, the pastor thereof.  The bairns, that were bairns when I came among
my people, were ripened unto parents, and a new generation was swelling
in the bud around me.  But it is what happened that I have to give an
account of.

This year the Lady Macadam’s jointure-house that was, having been long
without a tenant, a Mr. Cayenne and his family, American loyalists, came
and took it, and settled among us for a time.  His wife was a clever
woman, and they had two daughters, Miss Virginia and Miss Carolina; but
he was himself an ettercap, a perfect spunkie of passion, as ever was
known in town or country.  His wife had a terrible time o’t with him, and
yet the unhappy man had a great share of common sense, and, saving the
exploits of his unmanageable temper, was an honest and creditable
gentleman.  Of his humour we soon had a sample, as I shall relate at
length all about it.

Shortly after he came to the parish, Mrs. Balwhidder and me waited upon
the family to pay our respects, and Mr. Cayenne, in a free and hearty
manner, insisted on us staying to dinner.  His wife, I could see, was not
satisfied with this, not being, as I discerned afterwards, prepared to
give an entertainment to strangers; however, we fell into the misfortune
of staying, and nothing could exceed the happiness of Mr. Cayenne.  I
thought him one of the blithest bodies I had ever seen, and had no notion
that he was such a tap of tow as in the sequel he proved himself.

As there was something extra to prepare, the dinner was a little longer
of being on the table than usual, at which he began to fash, and every
now and then took a turn up and down the room, with his hands behind his
back, giving a short melancholious whistle.  At length the dinner was
served, but it was more scanty than he had expected, and this upset his
good-humour altogether.  Scarcely had I asked the blessing when he began
to storm at his blackamoor servant, who was, however, used to his way,
and did his work without minding him; but by some neglect there was no
mustard down, which Mr. Cayenne called for in the voice of a tempest, and
one of the servant lassies came in with the pot, trembling.  It happened
that, as it had not been used for a day or two before, the lid was
clagged, and, as it were, glued in, so that Mr. Cayenne could not get it
out, which put him quite wud, and he attempted to fling it at Sambo, the
black lad’s head, but it stottit against the wall, and the lid flying
open, the whole mustard flew in his own face, which made him a sight not
to be spoken of.  However it calmed him; but really, as I had never seen
such a man before, I could not but consider the accident as a
providential reproof, and trembled to think what greater evil might fall
out in the hands of a man so left to himself in the intemperance of

But the worst thing about Mr. Cayenne was his meddling with matters in
which he had no concern; for he had a most irksome nature, and could not
be at rest, so that he was truly a thorn in our side.  Among other of his
strange doings, was the part he took in the proceedings of the session,
with which he had as little to do, in a manner, as the man in the moon;
but having no business on his hands, he attended every sederunt, and from
less to more, having no self-government, he began to give his opinion in
our deliberations; and often bred us trouble, by causing strife to arise.

It happened, as the time of the summer occasion was drawing near, that it
behoved us to make arrangements about the assistance; and upon the
suggestion of the elders, to which I paid always the greatest deference,
I invited Mr. Keekie of Loupinton, who was a sound preacher, and a great
expounder of the kittle parts of the Old Testament, being a man well
versed in the Hebrew and etymologies, for which he was much reverenced by
the old people that delighted to search the Scriptures.  I had also
written to Mr. Sprose of Annock, a preacher of another sort, being a
vehement and powerful thresher of the word, making the chaff and vain
babbling of corrupt commentators to fly from his hand.  He was not,
however, so well liked, as he wanted that connect method which is needful
to the enforcing of doctrine.  But he had never been among us, and it was
thought it would be a godly treat to the parish to let the people hear
him.  Besides Mr. Sprose, Mr. Waikle of Gowanry, a quiet hewer out of the
image of holiness in the heart, was likewise invited, all in addition to
our old stoops from the adjacent parishes.

None of these three preachers were in any estimation with Mr. Cayenne,
who had only heard each of them once; and he, happening to be present in
the session-house at the time, enquired how we had settled.  I thought
this not a very orderly question, but I gave him a civil answer, saying,
that, Mr. Keekie of Loupinton would preach on the morning of the
fast-day, Mr. Sprose of Annock in the afternoon, and Mr. Waikle of
Gowanry on the Saturday.  Never shall I or the elders, while the breath
of life is in our bodies, forget the reply.  Mr. Cayenne struck the table
like a clap of thunder, and cried, “Mr. Keekie of Loupinton, and Mr.
Sprose of Annock, and Mr. Waikle of Gowanry, and all suck trash, may go
to — and be —!” and out of the house he bounced, like a hand-ball
stotting on a stone.

The elders and me were confounded, and for some time we could not speak,
but looked at each other, doubtful if our ears heard aright.  At long and
length I came to myself; and, in the strength of God, took my place at
the table, and said, this was an outrageous impiety not to be borne,
which all the elders agreed to; and we thereupon came to a resolve, which
I dictated myself, wherein we debarred Mr. Cayenne from ever after
entering, unless summoned, the session-house, the which resolve we
directed the session-clerk to send to him direct, and thus we vindicated
the insulted privileges of the church.

Mr. Cayenne had cooled before he got home, and our paper coming to him in
his appeased blood, he immediately came to the manse, and made a contrite
apology for his hasty temper, which I reported in due time and form, to
the session, and there the matter ended.  But here was an example plain
to be seen of the truth of the old proverb, that as one door shuts
another opens; for scarcely were we in quietness by the decease of that
old light-headed woman, the Lady Macadam, till a full equivalent for her
was given in this hot and fiery Mr. Cayenne.

YEAR 1786

FROM the day of my settlement, I had resolved, in order to win the
affections of my people, and to promote unison among the heritors, to be
of as little expense to the parish as possible; but by this time the
manse had fallen into a sore state of decay—the doors were wormed on the
hinges—the casements of the windows chattered all the winter, like the
teeth of a person perishing with cold, so that we had no comfort in the
house; by which, at the urgent instigations of Mrs. Balwhidder, I was
obligated to represent our situation to the session.  I would rather,
having so much saved money in the bank, paid the needful repairs myself,
than have done this, but she said it would be a rank injustice to our own
family; and her father, Mr. Kibbock, who was very long-headed, with more
than a common man’s portion of understanding, pointed out to me, that, as
my life was but in my lip, it would be a wrong thing towards whomsoever
was ordained to be my successor, to use the heritors to the custom of the
minister paying for the reparations of the manse, as it might happen he
might not be so well able to afford it as me.  So in a manner, by their
persuasion, and the constraint of the justice of the case, I made a
report of the infirmities both of doors and windows, as well as of the
rotten state of the floors, which were constantly in want of cobbling.
Over and above all, I told them of the sarking of the roof, which was as
frush as a puddock-stool; insomuch, that in every blast some of the pins
lost their grip, and the slates came hurling off.

The heritors were accordingly convened, and, after some deliberation,
they proposed that the house should be seen to, and whitewashed and
painted; and I thought this might do, for I saw they were terrified at
the expense of a thorough repair; but when I went home and repeated to
Mrs. Balwhidder what had been said at the meeting, and my thankfulness at
getting the heritors’ consent to do so much, she was excessively angry,
and told me, that all the painting and whitewashing in the world would
avail nothing, for that the house was as a sepulchre full of rottenness;
and she sent for Mr. Kibbock, her father, to confer with him on the way
of getting the matter put to rights.

Mr. Kibbock came, and hearing of what had passed, pondered for some time,
and then said, “All was very right! the minister (meaning me) has just to
get tradesmen to look at the house, and write out their opinion of what
it needs.  There will be plaster to mend; so, before painting, he will
get a plasterer.  There will be a slater wanted; he has just to get a
slater’s estimate, and a wright’s, and so forth, and when all is done, he
will lay them before the session and the heritors, who, no doubt, will
direct the reparations to go forward.”

                          [Picture: The Roadman]

This was very pawkie, counselling, of Mr. Kibbock, and I did not see
through it at the time, but did as he recommended, and took all the
different estimates, when they came in, to the session.  The elders
commended my prudence exceedingly for so doing, before going to work; and
one of them asked me what the amount of the whole would be, but I had not
cast it up.  Some of the heritors thought that a hundred pounds would be
sufficient for the outlay; but judge of our consternation, when, in
counting up all the sums of the different estimates together, we found
them well on towards a thousand pounds.  “Better big a new house at once,
than do this!” cried all the elders, by which I then perceived the
draughtiness of Mr. Kibbock’s advice.  Accordingly, another meeting of
the heritors was summoned, and after a great deal of controversy, it was
agreed that a new manse should be erected; and, shortly after, we
contracted with Thomas Trowel, the mason to build one for six hundred
pounds, with all the requisite appurtenances, by which a clear gain was
saved to the parish, by the foresight of Mr. Kibbock, to the amount of
nearly four hundred pounds.  But the heritors did not mean to have
allowed the sort of repair that his plan comprehended.  He was, however,
a far forecasting man; the like of him for natural parts not being in our
country side; and nobody could get the whip-hand of him, either in a
bargain or an improvement, when he once was sensible of the advantage.
He was, indeed, a blessing to the shire, both by his example as a farmer,
and by his sound and discreet advice in the contentions of his
neighbours, being a man, as was a saying among the commonality, “wiser
than the law and the fifteen Lords of Edinburgh.”

The building of the new manse occasioned a heavy cess on the heritors,
which made them overly ready to pick holes in the coats of me and the
elders; so that, out of my forbearance and delicacy in time past, grew a
lordliness on their part, that was an ill return for the years that I had
endured no little inconveniency for their sake.  It was not in my heart
or principles to harm the hair of a dog; but when I discerned the
austerity with which they were disposed to treat their minister, I
bethought me that, for the preservation of what was due to the
establishment and the upholding of the decent administration of religion,
I ought to set my face against the sordid intolerance by which they were
actuated.  This notion I weighed well before divulging it to any person;
but when I had assured myself as to the rectitude thereof, I rode over
one day to Mr. Kibbock’s, and broke my mind to him about claiming out of
the teinds an augmentation of my stipend, not because I needed it, but in
case, after me, some bare and hungry gorbie of the Lord should be sent
upon the parish, in no such condition to plea with the heritors as I was.
Mr. Kibbock highly approved of my intent; and by his help, after much
tribulation, I got an augmentation both in glebe and income; and to mark
my reason for what I did, I took upon me to keep and clothe the wives and
orphans of the parish, who lost their breadwinners in the American war.
But for all that, the heritors spoke of me as an avaricious Jew, and made
the hard-won fruits of Mrs. Balwhidder’s great thrift and good management
a matter of reproach against me.  Few of them would come to the church,
but stayed away, to the detriment of their own souls hereafter, in order,
as they thought, to punish me; so that, in the course of this year, there
was a visible decay of the sense of religion among the better orders of
the parish, and, as will be seen in the sequel, their evil example
infected the minds of many of the rising generation.

It was in this year that Mr. Cayenne bought the mailing of the Wheatrigs,
but did not begin to build his house till the following spring; for being
ill to please with a plan, he fell out with the builders, and on one
occasion got into such a passion with Mr. Trowel, the mason, that he
struck him a blow on the face, for which he was obligated to make
atonement.  It was thought the matter would have been carried before the
Lords; but, by the mediation of Mr. Kibbock, with my helping hand, a
reconciliation was brought about, Mr. Cayenne indemnifying the mason with
a sum of money to say no more anent it; after which, he employed him to
build his house, a thing that no man could have thought possible, who
reflected on the enmity between them.

YEAR 1787

THERE had been, as I have frequently observed, a visible improvement
going on in the parish.  From the time of the making of the toll-road,
every new house that was built in the clachan was built along that road.
Among other changes hereby caused, the Lady Macadam’s jointure-house that
was, which stood in a pleasant parterre, inclosed within a stone wall and
an iron gate, having a pillar with a pineapple head on each side, came to
be in the middle of the town.  While Mr. Cayenne inhabited the same, it
was maintained in good order; but on his flitting to his own new house on
the Wheatrigs, the parterre was soon overrun with weeds, and it began to
wear the look of a waste place.  Robert Toddy, who then kept the
change-house, and who had, from the lady’s death, rented the coach-house
for stabling, in this juncture thought of it for an inn; so he set his
own house to Thomas Treddles the weaver, whose son, William, is now the
great Glasgow manufacturer, that has cotton-mills and steam-engines, and
took, “the Place,” as it was called, and had a fine sign, THE CROSS-KEYS,
painted and put up in golden characters, by which it became one of the
most noted inns anywhere to be seen; and the civility of Mrs. Toddy was
commended by all strangers.  But although this transmutation from a
change-house to an inn was a vast amendment, in a manner, to the parish,
there was little amendment of manners thereby; for the farmer lads began
to hold dancings and other riotous proceedings there, and to bring, as it
were, the evil practices of towns into the heart of the country.  All
sort of licence was allowed as to drink and hours; and the edifying
example of Mr. Mutchkins and his pious family, was no longer held up to
the imitation of the wayfaring man.

Saving the mutation of “the Place” into an inn, nothing very remarkable
happened in this year.  We got into our new manse about the middle of
March; but it was rather damp, being new plastered, and it caused me to
have a severe attack of the rheumatics in the fall of the year.

I should not, in my notations, forget to mark a new luxury that got in
among the commonality at this time.  By the opening of new roads, and the
traffic thereon with carts and carriers, and by our young men that were
sailors going to the Clyde, and sailing to Jamaica and the West Indies,
heaps of sugar and coffee-beans were brought home, while many, among the
kail-stocks and cabbages in their yards, had planted groset and berry
bushes; which two things happening together, the fashion to make jam and
jelly, which hitherto had been only known in the kitchens and
confectionaries of the gentry, came to be introduced into the clachan.
All this, however, was not without a plausible pretext; for it was found
that jelly was an excellent medicine for a sore throat, and jam a remedy
as good as London candy for a cough, or a cold, or a shortness of breath.
I could not, however, say that this gave me so much concern as the
smuggling trade, only it occasioned a great fasherie to Mrs. Balwhidder;
for, in the berry time, there was no end to the borrowing of her
brass-pan to make jelly and jam, till Mrs. Toddy of the Cross-Keys bought
one, which, in its turn, came into request, and saved ours.

It was in the Martinmas quarter of this year that I got the first payment
of my augmentation.  Having no desire to rip up old sores, I shall say no
more anent it, the worst being anticipated in my chronicle of the last
year; but there was a thing happened in the payment that occasioned a
vexation at the time, of a very disagreeable nature.  Daft Meg Gaffaw,
who, from the tragical death of her mother, was a privileged subject,
used to come to the manse on the Saturdays for a meal of meat; and so it
fell out that as, by some neglect of mine, no steps had been taken to
regulate the disposal of the victual that constituted the means of the
augmentation, some of the heritors, in an ungracious temper, sent what
they called the tithe-ball (the Lord knows it was not the fiftieth!) to
the manse, where I had no place to put it.  This fell out on a Saturday
night, when I was busy with my sermon, thinking not of silver or gold,
but of much better; so that I was greatly molested and disturbed thereby.
Daft Meg, who sat by the kitchen chimley-lug, hearing a’, said nothing
for a time; but when she saw how Mrs. Balwhidder and me were put to, she
cried out with a loud voice, like a soul under the inspiration of
prophecy—“When the widow’s cruse had filled all the vessels in the house,
the Lord stopped the increase.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, if your
barns be filled, and your girnell-kists can hold no more, seek till ye
shall find the tume basins of the poor, and therein pour the corn, and
the oil, and the wine of your abundance; so shall ye be blessed of the
Lord.”  The which words I took for an admonition, and directing the sacks
to be brought into the dining-room and other chambers of the manse, I
sent off the heritors’ servants, that had done me this prejudice, with an
unexpected thankfulness.  But this, as I afterwards was informed, both
them and their masters attributed to the greedy grasp of avarice, with
which they considered me as misled; and having said so, nothing could
exceed their mortification on Monday, when they heard (for they were of
those who had deserted the kirk) that I had given by the precentor notice
to every widow in the parish that was in need, to come to the manse and
she would receive her portion of the partitioning of the augmentation.
Thus, without any offence on my part, saving the strictness of justice,
was a division made between me and the heritors; but the people were with
me; and my own conscience was with me; and though the fronts of the lofts
and the pews of the heritors were but thinly filled, I trusted that a
good time was coming, when the gentry would see the error of their way.
So I bent the head of resignation to the Lord, and, assisted by the
wisdom of Mr. Kibbock, adhered to the course I had adopted; but at the
close of the year my heart was sorrowful for the schism; and my prayer on
Hogmanay was one of great bitterness of soul, that such an evil had come
to pass.

YEAR 1788

IT had been often remarked by ingenious men, that the Brawl burn, which
ran through the parish, though a small, was yet a rapid stream, and had a
wonderful capability for damming, and to turn mills.  From the time that
the Irville water deserted its channel this brook grew into repute, and
several mills and dams had been erected on its course.  In this year a
proposal came from Glasgow to build a cotton-mill on its banks, beneath
the Witch-linn, which being on a corner of the Wheatrig, the property of
Mr. Cayenne, he not only consented thereto, but took a part in the profit
or loss therein; and, being a man of great activity, though we thought
him, for many a day, a serpent-plague sent upon the parish, he proved
thereby one of our greatest benefactors.  The cotton-mill was built, and
a spacious fabric it was—nothing like it had been seen before in our day
and generation—and, for the people that were brought to work in it, a new
town was built in the vicinity, which Mr. Cayenne, the same being founded
on his land, called Cayenneville, the name of the plantation in Virginia
that had been taken from him by the rebellious Americans.  From that day
Fortune was lavish of her favours upon him; his property swelled, and
grew in the most extraordinary manner, and the whole country side was
stirring with a new life.  For, when the mill was set a-going, he got
weavers of muslin established in Cayenneville; and shortly after, but
that did not take place till the year following, he brought women all the
way from the neighbourhood of Manchester, in England, to teach the lassie
bairns in our old clachan tambouring.

Some of the ancient families, in their turreted houses, were not pleased
with this innovation, especially when they saw the handsome dwellings
that were built for the weavers of the mills, and the unstinted hand that
supplied the wealth required for the carrying on of the business.  It
sank their pride into insignificance, and many of them would almost
rather have wanted the rise that took place in the value of their lands,
than have seen this incoming of what they called o’er-sea speculation.
But, saving the building of the cotton-mill, and the beginning of
Cayenneville, nothing more memorable happened in this year, still it was
nevertheless a year of a great activity.  The minds of men were excited
to new enterprises; a new genius, as it were, had descended upon the
earth, and there was an erect and outlooking spirit abroad that was not
to be satisfied with the taciturn regularity of ancient affairs.  Even
Miss Sabrina Hooky, the schoolmistress, though now waned from her
meridian, was touched with the enlivening rod, and set herself to learn
and to teach tambouring, in such a manner as to supersede by precept and
example that old time-honoured functionary, as she herself called it, the
spinning-wheel, proving, as she did one night to Mr. Kibbock and me,
that, if more money could be made by a woman tambouring than by spinning,
it was better for her to tambour than to spin.

But, in the midst of all this commercing and manufacturing, I began to
discover signs of decay in the wonted simplicity of our country ways.
Among the cotton-spinners and muslin weavers of Cayenneville were several
unsatisfied and ambitious spirits, who clubbed together, and got a London
newspaper to the Cross-Keys, where they were nightly in the habit of
meeting and debating about the affairs of the French, which were then
gathering towards a head.  They were represented to me as lads by common
in capacity, but with unsettled notions of religion.  They were, however,
quiet and orderly; and some of them since, at Glasgow, Paisley, and
Manchester, even, I am told, in London, have grown into a topping way.

It seems they did not like my manner of preaching, and on that account
absented themselves from public worship; which, when I heard, I sent for
some of them, to convince them of their error with regard to the truth of
divers points of doctrine; but they confounded me with their objections,
and used my arguments, which were the old and orthodox proven opinions of
the Divinity Hall, as if they had been the light sayings of a vain man.
So that I was troubled, fearing that some change would ensue to my
people, who had hitherto lived amidst the boughs and branches of the
gospel unmolested by the fowler’s snare, and I set myself to watch
narrowly, and with a vigilant eye, what would come to pass.

There was a visible increase among us of worldly prosperity in the course
of this year; insomuch that some of the farmers, who were in the custom
of taking their vendibles to the neighbouring towns on the Tuesdays, the
Wednesdays, and Fridays, were led to open a market on the Saturdays in
our own clachan, the which proved a great convenience.  But I cannot take
it upon me to say, whether this can be said to have well begun in the
present Ann. Dom., although I know that in the summer of the ensuing year
it was grown into a settled custom; which I well recollect by the
Macadams coming with their bairns to see Mrs. Malcolm, their mother,
suddenly on a Saturday afternoon; on which occasion me and Mrs.
Balwhidder were invited to dine with them, and Mrs. Malcolm bought in the
market for the dinner that day, both mutton and fowls, such as twenty
years before could not have been got for love or money on such a pinch.
Besides, she had two bottles of red and white wine from the Cross-Keys,
luxuries which, saving in the Breadland House in its best days, could not
have been had in the whole parish, but must have been brought from a
borough town; for Eaglesham Castle is not within the bounds of
Dalmailing, and my observe does not apply to the stock and stores of that
honourable mansion, but only to the dwellings of our own heritors, who
were in general straitened in their circumstances, partly with upsetting,
and partly by the eating rust of family pride, which hurt the edge of
many a clever fellow among them, that would have done well in the way of
trade, but sunk into divors for the sake of their genteelity.

YEAR 1789

THIS I have always reflected upon as one of our blessed years.  It was
not remarkable for any extraordinary occurrence; but there was a
hopefulness in the minds of men, and a planning of new undertakings, of
which, whatever may be the upshot, the devising is ever rich in the
cheerful anticipations of good.

Another new line of road was planned, for a shorter cut to the
cotton-mill, from the main road to Glasgow, and a public-house was opened
in Cayenneville: the latter, however, was not an event that gave me much
satisfaction; but it was a convenience to the inhabitants, and the
carriers that brought the cotton-bags and took away the yarn twice
a-week, needed a place of refreshment.  And there was a stage-coach set
up thrice every week from Ayr, that passed through the town, by which it
was possible to travel to Glasgow between breakfast and dinner time, a
thing that could not, when I came to the parish, have been thought within
the compass of man.

This stage-coach I thought one of the greatest conveniences that had been
established among us; and it enabled Mrs. Balwhidder to send a basket of
her fresh butter into the Glasgow market, by which, in the spring and the
fall of the year, she got a great price; for the Glasgow merchants are
fond of excellent eatables, and the payment was aye ready money—Tam
Whirlit the driver paying for the one basket when he took up the other.

In this year William Malcolm, the youngest son of the widow, having been
some time a tutor in a family in the east country, came to see his
mother, as indeed he had done every year from the time he went to the
college; but this occasion was made remarkable by his preaching in my
pulpit.  His old acquaintance were curious to hear him; and I myself had
a sort of a wish likewise, being desirous to know how far he was
orthodox; so I thought fit, on the suggestion of one of the elders, to
ask him to preach one day for me, which, after some fleeching, he
consented to do.  I think, however, there was a true modesty in his
diffidence, although his reason was a weak one, being lest he might not
satisfy his mother, who had as yet never heard him.  Accordingly, on the
Sabbath after, he did preach, and the kirk was well packed, and I was not
one of the least attentive of the congregation.  His sermon assuredly was
well put together and there was nothing to object to in his doctrine; but
the elderly people thought his language rather too Englified, which I
thought likewise; for I never could abide that the plain auld Kirk of
Scotland, with her sober presbyterian simplicity, should borrow, either
in word or in deed, from the language of the prelatic hierarchy of
England.  Nevertheless, the younger part of the congregation were loud in
his praise, saying, there had not been heard before such a style of
language in our side of the country.  As for Mrs. Malcolm, his mother,
when I spoke to her anent the same, she said but little, expressing only
her hope that his example would be worthy of his precepts; so that, upon
the whole, it was a satisfaction to us all, that he was likely to prove a
stoop and upholding pillar to the Kirk of Scotland.  And his mother had
the satisfaction, before she died, to see him a placed minister, and his
name among the authors of his country; for he published at Edinburgh a
volume of Moral Essays, of which he sent me a pretty bound copy, and they
were greatly creditable to his pen, though lacking somewhat of that birr
and smeddum that is the juice and flavour of books of that sort.

YEAR 1790

THE features of this Ann. Dom. partook of the character of its
predecessor.  Several new houses were added to the clachan; Cayenneville
was spreading out with weavers’ shops, and growing up fast into a town.
In some respects it got the start of ours; for one day, when I was going
to dine with Mr. Cayenne at Wheatrig House, not a little to my amazement,
did I behold a bookseller’s shop opened there, with sticks of red and
black wax, pouncet-boxes, pens, pocket-books, and new publications, in
the window, such as the like of was only to be seen in cities and borough
towns.  And it was lighted at night by a patent lamp, which shed a
wonderful beam, burning oil, and having no smoke.  The man sold likewise
perfumery, powder-puffs, trinkets, and Dublin dolls, besides penknives,
Castile soap, and walking-sticks, together with a prodigy of other
luxuries too tedious to mention.

Upon conversing with the man, for I was enchanted to go into this
phenomenon, for as no less could I regard it, he told me that he had a
correspondence with London, and could get me down any book published
there within the same month in which it came out; and he showed me divers
of the newest come out, of which I did not read even in the _Scots
Magazine_ till more than three months after, although I had till then
always considered that work as most interesting for its early
intelligence.  But what I was most surprised to hear, was, that he took
in a daily London newspaper for the spinners and weavers, who paid him a
penny a-week a-piece for the same; they being all greatly taken up with
what, at the time, was going on in France.

This bookseller in the end, however, proved a whawp in our nest, for he
was in league with some of the English reformers; and when the story took
wind three years after, concerning the plots and treasons of the
corresponding societies and democrats, he was fain to make a moonlight
flitting, leaving his wife for a time to manage his affairs.  I could
not, however, think any ill of the man notwithstanding; for he had very
correct notions of right and justice, in a political sense, and when he
came into the parish he was as orderly and well-behaved as any other
body; and conduct is a test that I have always found as good for a man’s
principles as professions.  Nor, at the time of which I am speaking, was
there any of that dread or fear of reforming the government that has
since been occasioned by the wild and wasteful hand which the French
employed in their revolution.

But, among other improvements, I should mention that a Doctor Marigold
came and settled in Cayenneville, a small, round, happy-tempered man,
whose funny stories were far better liked than his drugs.  There was a
doubt among some of the weavers if he was a skilful Esculapian; and this
doubt led to their holding out an inducement to another medical man, Dr.
Tanzey, to settle there likewise, by which it grew into a saying, that at
Cayenneville there was a doctor for health as well as sickness; for Dr.
Marigold was one of the best hands in the country at a pleasant
punch-bowl, while Dr. Tanzey had all the requisite knowledge for the
faculty for the bedside.

It was in this year that the hour-plate and hand on the kirk steeple were
renewed, as indeed, may yet be seen by the date, though it be again
greatly in want of fresh gilding; for it was by my advice that the
figures of the Ann. Dom. were placed one in each corner.  In this year,
likewise, the bridge over the Brawl burn was built—a great convenience,
in the winter time, to the parishioners that lived on the north side; for
when there happened to be a spait on the Sunday, it kept them from the
kirk; but I did not find that the bridge mended the matter, till after
the conclusion of the war against the democrats, and the beginning of
that which we are now waging with Boney, their child and champion.  It
is, indeed, wonderful to think of the occultation of grace that was
taking place about this time, throughout the whole bound of Christendom;
for I could mark a visible darkness of infidelity spreading in the corner
of the vineyard committed to my keeping, and a falling away of the vines
from their wonted props and confidence in the truths of Revelation.  But
I said nothing.  I knew that the faith could not be lost, and that it
would be found purer and purer the more it was tried; and this I have
lived to see, many now being zealous members of the church, that were
abundantly lukewarm at the period of which I am now speaking.

YEAR 1791

IN the spring of this year, I took my son Gilbert into Glasgow, to place
him in a counting-house.  As he had no inclination for any of the learned
professions, and not having been there from the time when I was sent to
the General Assembly, I cannot express my astonishment at the great
improvements, surpassing far all that was done in our part of the
country, which I thought was not to be paralleled.  When I came
afterwards to reflect on my simplicity in this, it was clear to me that
we should not judge of the rest of the world by what we see going on
around ourselves, but walk abroad into other parts, and thereby enlarge
our sphere of observation, as well as ripen our judgment of things.

But although there was no doubt a great and visible increase of the city,
loftier buildings on all sides, and streets that spread their arms far
into the embraces of the country, I thought the looks of the population
were impaired, and that there was a greater proportion of long white
faces in the Trongate, than when I attended the Divinity class.  These, I
was told, were the weavers and others concerned in the cotton trade,
which I could well believe, for they were very like in their looks to the
men of Cayenneville; but from living in a crowded town, and not breathing
a wholesome country air between their tasks, they had a stronger cast of
unhealthy melancholy.  I was therefore very glad that Providence had
placed in my hand the pastoral staff of a country parish; for it cut me
to the heart to see so many young men, in the rising prime of life,
already in the arms of a pale consumption.  “If, therefore,” said I to
Mrs. Balwhidder, when I returned home to the manse, “we live, as it were,
within the narrow circle of ignorance, we are spared from the pain of
knowing many an evil; and, surely, in much knowledge there is sadness of

But the main effect of this was to make me do all in my power to keep my
people contented with their lowly estate; for in that same spirit of
improvement, which was so busy every where, I could discern something
like a shadow, that showed it was not altogether of that pure advantage
which avarice led all so eagerly to believe.  Accordingly, I began a
series of sermons on the evil and vanity of riches, and, for the most
part of the year, pointed out in what manner they led the possessor to
indulge in sinful luxuries, and how indulgence begat desire, and desire
betrayed integrity and corrupted the heart; making it evident that the
rich man was liable to forget his unmerited obligations to God, and to
oppress the laborious and the needful when he required their services.

Little did I imagine, in thus striving to keep aloof the ravenous wolf
Ambition from my guileless flock, that I was giving cause for many to
think me an enemy to the king and government, and a perverter of
Christianity, to suit levelling doctrines.  But so it was.  Many of the
heritors considered me a blackneb, though I knew it not, but went on in
the course of my duty, thinking only how best to preserve peace on earth
and goodwill towards men.  I saw, however, an altered manner in the
deportment of several, with whom I had long lived in friendly terms.  It
was not marked enough to make me inquire the cause, but sufficiently
plain to affect my ease of mind.  Accordingly, about the end of this
year, I fell into a dull way: my spirit was subdued, and at times I was
aweary of the day, and longed for the night, when I might close my eyes
in peaceful slumbers.  I missed my son Gilbert, who had been a companion
to me in the long nights, while his mother was busy with the lasses, and
their ceaseless wheels and cardings, in the kitchen.  Often could I have
found it in my heart to have banned that never-ceasing industry, and to
tell Mrs. Balwhidder, that the married state was made for something else
than to make napery and beetle blankets; but it was her happiness to keep
all at work, and she had no pleasure in any other way of life, so I sat
many a night by the fireside with resignation; sometimes in the study,
and sometimes in the parlour, and, as I was doing nothing, Mrs.
Balwhidder said it was needless to light the candle.  Our daughter Janet
was in this time at a boarding-school in Ayr, so that I was really a most
solitary married man.

YEAR 1792

WHEN the spring in this year began to brighten on the brae, the cloud of
dulness that had darkened and oppressed me all the winter somewhat melted
away, and I could now and then joke again at the never-ending toil and
trouble of that busiest of all bees, the second Mrs. Balwhidder.  But
still I was far from being right: a small matter affected me, and I was
overly given to walking by myself, and musing on things that I could tell
nothing about—my thoughts were just the rack of a dream without form, and
driving witlessly as the smoke that mounteth up, and is lost in the airy
heights of the sky.

Heeding little of what was going on in the clachan, and taking no
interest in the concerns of any body, I would have been contented to die,
but I had no ail about me.  An accident, however, fell out, that, by
calling on me for an effort, had the blessed influence of clearing my
vapours almost entirely away.

One morning as I was walking on the sunny side of the road, where the
footpath was in the next year made to the cotton-mill, I fell in with Mr.
Cayenne, who was seemingly much fashed—a small matter could do that at
any time; and he came up to me with a red face and an angry eye.  It was
not my intent to speak to him; for I was grown loth to enter into
conversation with any body, so I bowed and passed on.  “What,” cried Mr.
Cayenne, “and will you not speak to me?”  I turned round, and said
meekly, “Mr. Cayenne, I have no objections to speak to you; but having
nothing particular to say, it did not seem necessary just now.”

He looked at me like a gled, and in a minute exclaimed, “Mad, by Jupiter!
as mad as a March hare!”  He then entered into conversation with me, and
said, that he had noticed me an altered man, and was just so far on his
way to the manse, to enquire what had befallen me.  So, from less to
more, we entered into the marrow of my case; and I told him how I had
observed the estranged countenances of some of the heritors; at which he
swore an oath, that they were a parcel of the damn’dest boobies in the
country, and told me how they had taken it into their heads that I was a
leveller.  “But I know you better,” said Mr. Cayenne, “and have stood up
for you as an honest conscientious man, though I don’t much like your
humdrum preaching.  However, let that pass; I insist upon your dining
with me to-day, when some of these arrant fools are to be with us, and
the devil’s in’t if I don’t make you friends with them.”  I did not think
Mr. Cayenne, however, very well qualified for peacemaker, but,
nevertheless, I consented to go; and having thus got an inkling of the
cause of that cold back-turning which had distressed me so much, I made
such an effort to remove the error that was entertained against me, that
some of the heritors, before we separated, shook me by the hands with the
cordiality of renewed friendship; and, as if to make amends for past
neglect, there was no end to their invitations to dinner which had the
effect of putting me again on my mettle, and removing the thick and muddy
melancholious humour out of my blood.

But what confirmed my cure was the coming home of my daughter Janet from
the Ayr boarding-school, where she had learnt to play on the spinnet, and
was become a conversible lassie, with a competent knowledge, for a woman
of geography and history; so that when her mother was busy with the
weariful booming wheel, she entertained me sometimes with a tune, and
sometimes with her tongue, which made the winter nights fly cantily by.

Whether it was owing to the malady of my imagination throughout the
greatest part of this year, or that really nothing particular did happen
to interest me, I cannot say; but it is very remarkable that I have
nothing remarkable to record—further, than I was at the expense myself of
getting the manse rough-case, and the window cheeks painted, with roans
put up, rather than apply to the heritors; for they were always sorely
fashed when called upon for outlay.

YEAR 1793

ON the first night of this year I dreamt a very remarkable dream, which,
when I now recall to mind at this distance of time, I cannot but think
that there was a case of prophecy in it.  I thought that I stood on the
tower of an old popish kirk, looking out at the window upon the kirkyard,
where I beheld ancient tombs, with effigies and coats-of-arms on the wall
thereof, and a great gate at the one side, and a door that led into a
dark and dismal vault at the other.  I thought all the dead that were
lying in the common graves, rose out of their coffins; at the same time,
from the old and grand monuments, with the effigies and coats-of-arms,
came the great men, and the kings of the earth with crowns on their
heads, and globes and sceptres in their hands.

I stood wondering what was to ensue, when presently I heard the noise of
drums and trumpets, and anon I beheld an army with banners entering in at
the gate; upon which the kings and the great men came also forth in their
power and array, and a dreadful battle was foughten; but the multitude
that had risen from the common graves, stood afar off, and were but

The kings and their host were utterly discomfited.  They were driven
within the doors of their monuments, their coats-of-arms were broken off,
and their effigies cast down, and the victors triumphed over them with
the flourishes of trumpets and the waving of banners.  But while I
looked, the vision was changed, and I then beheld a wide and a dreary
waste, and afar off the steeples of a great city, and a tower in the
midst, like the tower of Babel, and on it I could discern, written in
characters of fire, “Public Opinion.”  While I was pondering at the same,
I heard a great shout, and presently the conquerors made their
appearance, coming over the desolate moor.  They were going in great
pride and might towards the city; but an awful burning rose, afar as it
were in the darkness, and the flames stood like a tower of fire that
reached unto the heavens.  And I saw a dreadful hand and an arm stretched
from out of the cloud, and in its hold was a besom made of the hail and
the storm, and it swept the fugitives like dust; and in their place I saw
the churchyard, as it were, cleared and spread around, the graves closed,
and the ancient tombs, with their coats-of-arms and their effigies of
stone, all as they were in the beginning.  I then awoke, and behold it
was a dream.

This vision perplexed me for many days, and when the news came that the
King of France was beheaded by the hands of his people, I received, as it
were, a token in confirmation of the vision that had been disclosed to me
in my sleep, and I preached a discourse on the same, and against the
French Revolution, that was thought one of the greatest and soundest
sermons that I had ever delivered in my pulpit.

On the Monday following, Mr. Cayenne, who had been some time before
appointed a justice of the peace, came over from Wheatrig House to the
Cross-Keys, where he sent for me and divers other respectable inhabitants
of the clachan, and told us that he was to have a sad business, for a
warrant was out to bring before him two democratical weaver lads, on a
suspicion of high treason.  Scarcely were the words uttered when they
were brought in, and he began to ask them how they dared to think of
dividing, with their liberty and equality of principles, his and every
other man’s property in the country.  The men answered him in a calm
manner, and told him they sought no man’s property, but only their own
natural rights; upon which he called them traitors and reformers.  They
denied they were traitors, but confessed they were reformers, and said
they knew not how that should be imputed to them as a fault, for that the
greatest men of all times had been reformers,—“Was not,” they said, “our
Lord Jesus Christ a reformer?”—“And what the devil did he make of it?”
cried Mr. Cayenne, bursting with passion; “Was he not crucified?”

I thought, when I heard these words, that the pillars of the earth sank
beneath me, and that the roof of the house was carried away in a
whirlwind.  The drums of my ears crackit, blue starns danced before my
sight, and I was fain to leave the house and hie me home to the manse,
where I sat down in my study, like a stupified creature, awaiting what
would betide.  Nothing, however, was found against the weaver lads; but I
never from that day could look on Mr. Cayenne as a Christian, though
surely he was a true government-man.

Soon after this affair, there was a pleasant re-edification of a
gospel-spirit among the heritors, especially when they heard how I had
handled the regicides in France; and on the following Sunday, I had the
comfortable satisfaction to see many a gentleman in their pews, that had
not been for years within a kirk-door.  The democrats, who took a world
of trouble to misrepresent the actions of the gentry, insinuated that all
this was not from any new sense of grace, but in fear of their being
reported as suspected persons to the king’s government.  But I could not
think so, and considered their renewal of communion with the church as a
swearing of allegiance to the King of kings, against that host of French
atheists, who had torn the mortcloth from the coffin, and made it a
banner, with which they were gone forth to war against the Lamb.  The
whole year was, however, spent in great uneasiness, and the proclamation
of the war was followed by an appalling stop in trade.  We heard of
nothing but failures on all hands; and among others that grieved me, was
that of Mr. Maitland of Glasgow, who had befriended Mrs. Malcolm in the
days of her affliction, and gave her son Robert his fine ship.  It was a
sore thing to hear of so many breakings, especially of old respected
merchants like him, who had been a Lord Provost, and was far declined
into the afternoon of life.  He did not, however, long survive the
mutation of his fortune; but bending his aged head in sorrow, sank down
beneath the stroke, to rise no more.

                    [Picture: The Minister’s Daughter]

YEAR 1794

THIS year had opened into all the leafiness of midsummer before anything
memorable happened in the parish, further than that the sad division of
my people into government-men and jacobins was perfected.  This calamity,
for I never could consider such heartburning among neighbours as any
thing less than a very heavy calamity, was assuredly occasioned by faults
on both sides; but it must be confessed that the gentry did nothing to
win the commonality from the errors of their way.  A little more
condescension on their part would not have made things worse, and might
have made them better; but pride interposed, and caused them to think
that any show of affability from them would be construed by the democrats
into a terror of their power; while the democrats were no less to blame;
for hearing how their compeers were thriving in France, and demolishing
every obstacle to their ascendency, they were crouse and really insolent,
evidencing none of that temperance in prosperity that proves the
possessors worthy of their good fortune.

As for me, my duty in these circumstances was plain and simple.  The
Christian religion was attempted to be brought into disrepute; the rising
generation were taught to gibe at its holiest ordinances; and the kirk
was more frequented as a place to while away the time on a rainy Sunday,
than for any insight of the admonitions and revelations in the sacred
book.  Knowing this, I perceived that it would be of no effect to handle
much the mysteries of the faith; but as there was at the time a bruit and
a sound about universal benevolence, philanthropy, utility, and all the
other disguises with which an infidel philosophy appropriated to itself
the charity, brotherly love, and welldoing inculcated by our holy
religion, I set myself to task upon these heads, and thought it no
robbery to use a little of the stratagem employed against Christ’s
kingdom, to promote the interests thereof in the hearts and
understandings of those whose ears would have been sealed against me, had
I attempted to expound higher things.  Accordingly, on one day it was my
practice to show what the nature of Christian charity was, comparing it
to the light and warmth of the sun, that shines impartially on the just
and the unjust—showing that man, without the sense of it as a duty, was
as the beasts that perish, and that every feeling of his nature was
intimately selfish, but then when actuated by this divine impulse, he
rose out of himself, and became as a god, zealous to abate the sufferings
of all things that live; and, on the next day, I demonstrated that the
new benevolence which had come so much into vogue, was but another
version of this Christian virtue.  In like manner, I dealt with brotherly
love, bringing it home to the business and bosoms of my hearers, that the
Christianity of it was neither enlarged nor bettered by being baptized
with the Greek name of philanthropy.  With welldoing, however, I went
more roundly to work, I told my people that I thought they had more sense
than to secede from Christianity to become Utilitarians; for that it
would be a confession of ignorance of the faith they deserved, seeing
that it was the main duty inculcated by our religion to do all in morals
and manners to which the newfangled doctrine of utility pretended.

These discourses, which I continued for sometime, had no great effect on
the men; but being prepared in a familiar household manner, they took the
fancies of the young women, which was to me an assurance that the seed I
had planted would in time shoot forth; for I reasoned with myself, that
if the gudeman of the immediate generation should continue free-thinkers,
their wives will take care that those of the next shall not lack that
spunk of grace; so I was cheered under that obscurity which fell upon
Christianity at this time, with a vista beyond, in which I saw, as it
were, the children unborn, walking on the bright green, and in the
unclouded splendour of the faith.

But what with the decay of trade, and the temptation of the king’s
bounty, and, over all, the witlessness that was in the spirit of man at
this time, the number that enlisted in the course for the year from the
parish was prodigious.  In one week no less than three weavers and two
cotton-spinners went over to Ayr, and took the bounty of the Royal
Artillery.  But I could not help remarking to myself, that the people
were grown so used to changes and extraordinary adventures, that the
single enlistment of Thomas Wilson, at the beginning of the American war,
occasioned a far greater grief and work among us, than all the swarms
that went off week after week in the months of November and December of
this year.

YEAR 1795

THE present Ann. Dom. was ushered in with an event that I had never
dreaded to see in my day, in our once sober and religious country parish.
The number of lads that had gone over to Ayr to be soldiers from among
the spinners and weavers of Cayenneville had been so great, that the
government got note of it, and sent a recruiting party to be quartered in
the town; for the term clachan was beginning by this time to wear out of
fashion: indeed, the place itself was outgrowing the fitness of that
title.  Never shall I forget the dunt that the first tap of the drum gied
to my heart, as I was sitting on Hansel Monday by myself at the parlour
fireside, Mrs. Balwhidder being throng with the lassies looking out a
washing, and my daughter at Ayr, spending a few days with her old
comrades of the boarding school.  I thought it was the enemy; and then
anon the sound of the fife came shrill to the ear, for the night was lown
and peaceful.  My wife and all the lassies came flying in upon me, crying
all in the name of heaven, what could it be? by which I was obligated to
put on my big-coat, and, with my hat and staff, go out to enquire.  The
whole town was aloof, the aged at the doors in clusters, and the bairns
following the tattoo, as it was called, and at every doubling beat of the
drum, shouting as if they had been in the face of their foemen.

Mr. Archibald Dozendale, one of my elders, was saying to several persons
around him, just as I came up, “Hech, sirs! but the battle draws near our
gates,” upon which there was a heavy sigh from all that heard him; and
then they told me of the sergeant’s business; and we had a serious
communing together anent the same.  But while we were thus standing
discoursing on the causey, Mrs. Balwhidder and the servant lassies could
thole no longer, but in a troop came in quest of me, to hear what was
doing.  In short, it was a night both of sorrow and anxiety.  Mr.
Dozendale walked back to the manse with us, and we had a sober tumbler of
toddy together; marvelling exceedingly where these fearful portents and
changes would stop, both of us being of opinion that the end of the world
was drawing nearer and nearer.

Whether it was, however, that the lads belonging to the place did not
like to show themselves with the enlistment cockades among their
acquaintance, or that there was any other reason, I cannot take it upon
me to say; but certain it is, the recruiting party came no speed, and, in
consequence, were removed about the end of March.

Another thing happened in this year, too remarkable for me to neglect to
put on record, as it strangely and strikingly marked the rapid
revolutions that were going on.  In the month of August at the time of
the fair, a gang of playactors came, and hired Thomas Thacklan’s barn for
their enactments.  They were the first of that clanjamfrey who had ever
been in the parish; and there was a wonderful excitement caused by the
rumours concerning them.  Their first performance was _Douglas Tragedy_
and the _Gentle Shepherd_: and the general opinion was, that the lad who
played Norval in the play, and Patie in the farce, was an English lord’s
son, who had run away from his parents rather than marry an old cracket
lady with a great portion.  But, whatever truth there might be in this
notion, certain it is, the whole pack was in a state of perfect beggary;
and yet, for all that, they not only in their parts, as I was told,
laughed most heartily, but made others do the same; for I was constrained
to let my daughter go to see them, with some of her acquaintance; and she
gave me such an account of what they did, that I thought I would have
liked to have gotten a keek at them myself.  At the same time, I must own
this was a sinful curiosity, and I stifled it to the best of my ability.
Among other plays that they did, was one called _Macbeth and the
Witches_, which the Miss Cayennes had seen performed in London, when they
were there in the winter time with their father, for three months, seeing
the world, after coming from the boarding-school.  But it was no more
like the true play of Shakespeare the poet, according to their account,
than a duddy betheral, set up to fright the sparrows from the peas, is
like a living gentleman.  The hungry players, instead of behaving like
guests at the royal banquet, were voracious on the needful feast of
bread, and the strong ale, that served for wine in decanters.  But the
greatest sport of all was about a kail-pot, that acted the part of a
caldron, and which should have sunk with thunder and lightning into the
earth; however, it did quite as well, for it made its exit, as Miss
Virginia said, by walking quietly off, being pulled by a string fastened
to one of its feet.  No scene of the play was so much applauded as this
one; and the actor who did the part of King Macbeth made a most polite
bow of thankfulness to the audience, for the approbation with which they
had received the performance of the pot.

We had likewise, shortly after the “Omnes exeunt” of the players, an
exhibition of a different sort in the same barn.  This was by two English
quakers, and a quaker lady, tanners of Kendal, who had been at Ayr on
some leather business, where they preached, but made no proselytes.  The
travellers were all three in a whisky, drawn by one of the best-ordered
horses, as the hostler at the Cross-Keys told me, ever seen.  They came
to the Inn to their dinner, and meaning to stay all night, sent round, to
let it be known that they would hold a meeting in Friend Thacklan’s barn;
but Thomas denied they were either kith or kin to him: this, however, was
their way of speaking.

In the evening, owing to the notice, a great congregation was assembled
in the barn, and I myself, along with Mr. Archibald Dozendale, went there
likewise, to keep the people in awe; for we feared the strangers might be
jeered and insulted.  The three were seated aloft on a high stage,
prepared on purpose, with two mares and scaffold-deals, borrowed from Mr.
Trowel the mason.  They sat long, and silent; but at last the spirit
moved the woman, and she rose, and delivered a very sensible exposition
of Christianity.  I was really surprised to hear such sound doctrine; and
Mr. Dozendale said, justly, that it was more to the purpose than some
that my younger brethren from Edinburgh endeavoured to teach.  So, that
those who went to laugh at the sincere simplicity of the pious quakers,
were rebuked by a very edifying discourse on the moral duties of a
Christian’s life.

Upon the whole, however, this, to the best of my recollection, was
another unsatisfactory year.  In this we were, doubtless, brought more
into the world; but we had a greater variety of temptation set before us,
and there was still jealousy and estrangement in the dispositions of the
gentry, and the lower orders, particularly the manufacturers.  I cannot
say, indeed, that there was any increase of corruption among the rural
portion of my people; for their vocation calling them to work apart, in
the purity of the free air of heaven, they were kept uncontaminated by
that seditious infection which fevered the minds of the sedentary
weavers, and working like flatulence in the stomachs of the
cotton-spinners, sent up into their heads a vain and diseased fume of
infidel philosophy.

YEAR 1796

THE prosperity of fortune is like the blossoms of spring, or the golden
hue of the evening cloud.  It delighteth the spirit, and passeth away.

In the month of February my second wife was gathered to the Lord.  She
had been very ill for some time with an income in her side, which no
medicine could remove.  I had the best doctors in the country side to
her; but their skill was of no avail, their opinions being that her ail
was caused by an internal abscess, for which physic has provided no cure.
Her death was to me a great sorrow; for she was a most excellent wife,
industrious to a degree, and managed every thing with so brisk a hand,
that nothing went wrong that she put it to.  With her I had grown richer
than any other minister in the presbytery; but, above all, she was the
mother of my bairns, which gave her a double claim upon me.

I laid her by the side of my first love, Betty Lanshaw, my own cousin
that was, and I inscribed her name upon the same headstone; but time had
drained my poetical vein, and I have not yet been able to indite an
epitaph on her merits and virtues, for she had an eminent share of both.
Her greatest fault—the best have their faults—was an over-earnestness to
gather gear; in the doing of which I thought she sometimes sacrificed the
comforts of a pleasant fireside; for she was never in her element but
when she was keeping the servants eident at their work.  But, if by this
she subtracted something from the quietude that was most consonant to my
nature, she has left cause, both in bank and bond, for me and her bairns
to bless her great household activity.

She was not long deposited in her place of rest till I had occasion to
find her loss.  All my things were kept by her in a most perjink and
excellent order; but they soon fell into an amazing confusion; for, as
she often said to me, I had a turn for heedlessness; insomuch, that
although my daughter Janet was grown up, and able to keep the house, I
saw that it would be necessary, as soon as decency would allow, for me to
take another wife.  I was moved to this chiefly by foreseeing that my
daughter would in time be married, and taken away from me, but more on
account of the servant lasses, who grew out of all bounds, verifying the
proverb, “Well kens the mouse when the cat’s out of the house.”  Besides
this, I was now far down in the vale of years, and could not expect to be
long without feeling some of the penalties of old age, although I was
still a hail and sound man.  It therefore behoved me to look in time for
a helpmate, to tend me in my approaching infirmities.

Upon this important concern I reflected, as I may say, in the watches of
the night; and, considering the circumstances of my situation, I saw it
would not do for me to look out for an overly young woman, nor yet would
it do for one of my ways to take an elderly maiden, ladies of that sort
being liable to possess strong-set particularities.  I therefore resolved
that my choice should lie among widows of a discreet age; and I had a
glimmer in my mind of speaking to Mrs. Malcolm; but when I reflected on
the saintly steadiness of her character, I was satisfied it would be of
no use to think of her.  Accordingly, I bent my brows, and looked towards
Irville, which is an abundant trone for widows and other single women;
and I fixed my purpose on Mrs. Nugent, the relic of a professor in the
university of Glasgow, both because she was a well-bred woman, without
any children to plea about the interest of my own two, and likewise
because she was held in great estimation by all who knew her, as a lady
of a Christian principle.

It was some time in the summer, however, before I made up my mind to
speak to her on the subject; but one afternoon, in the month of August, I
resolved to do so, and with that intent walked leisurely over to Irville;
and after calling on the Rev. Dr. Dinwiddie, the minister, I stepped in,
as if by chance, to Mrs. Nugent’s.  I could see that she was a little
surprised at my visit; however, she treated me with every possible
civility, and her servant lass bringing in the tea-things in a most
orderly manner, as punctually as the clock was striking, she invited me
to sit still, and drink my tea with her; which I did, being none
displeased to get such encouragement.  However, I said nothing that time,
but returned to the manse, very well content with what I had observed,
which made me fain to repeat my visit.  So, in the course of the week,
taking Janet my daughter with me, we walked over in the forenoon, and
called at Mrs. Nugent’s first, before going to any other house; and Janet
saying, as we came out to go to the minister’s, that she thought Mrs.
Nugent an agreeable woman, I determined to knock the nail on the head
without further delay.

Accordingly, I invited the minister and his wife to dine with us on the
Thursday following; and before leaving the town, I made Janet, while the
minister and me were handling a subject, as a sort of thing in common
civility, go to Mrs. Nugent, and invite her also.  Dr. Dinwiddie was a
gleg man, of a jocose nature; and he, guessing something of what I was
ettling at, was very mirthful with me; but I kept my own counsel till a
meet season.

On the Thursday, the company as invited came, and nothing extraordinary
was seen; but in cutting up and helping a hen, Dr. Dinwiddie put one wing
on Mrs. Nugent’s plate, and the other wing on my plate, and said, there
have been greater miracles than these two wings flying together, which
was a sharp joke, that caused no little merriment at the expense of Mrs.
Nugent and me.  I, however, to show that I was none daunted, laid a leg
also on her plate, and took another on my own, saying, in the words of
the reverend doctor, there have been greater miracles than that these two
legs should lie in the same nest, which was thought a very clever come
off; and, at the same time, I gave Mrs. Nugent a kindly nip on her sonsy
arm, which was breaking the ice in as pleasant a way as could be.  In
short, before anything passed between ourselves on the subject, we were
set down for a trysted pair; and this being the case, we were married as
soon as a twelvemonth and a day had passed from the death of the second
Mrs. Balwhidder; and neither of us have had occasion to rue the bargain.
It is, however, but a piece of justice due to my second wife to say, that
this was not a little owing to her good management; for she had left such
a well-plenished house, that her successor said, we had nothing to do but
to contribute to one another’s happiness.

In this year nothing more memorable happened in the parish, saving that
the cotton-mill dam burst about the time of the Lammas flood, and the
waters went forth like a deluge of destruction, carrying off much
victual, and causing a vast of damage to the mills that are lower down
the stream.  It was just a prodigy to see how calmly Mr. Cayenne acted on
that occasion; for, being at other times as crabbed as a wud terrier,
folk were afraid to tell him, till he came out himself in the morning and
saw the devastation; at the sight of which he gave only a shrill whistle,
and began to laugh at the idea of the men fearing to take him the news,
as if he had not fortune and philosophy enough, as he called it, to
withstand much greater misfortunes.

                          [Picture: The Weaver]

YEAR 1797

WHEN I have seen in my walks the irrational creatures of God, the birds
and the beasts, governed by a kindly instinct in attendance on their
young, often has it come into my head that love and charity, far more
than reason or justice, formed the tie that holds the world, with all its
jarring wants and woes, in social dependence and obligation together;
and, in this year, a strong verification of the soundness of this notion
was exemplified in the conduct of the poor haverel lassie Meg Gaffaw,
whose naturality on the occasion of her mother’s death I have related at
length in this chronicle.

In the course of the summer, Mr. Henry Melcomb, who was a nephew to Mr.
Cayenne, came down from England to see his uncle.  He had just completed
his education at the college of Christ Church, in Oxford, and was the
most perfect young gentleman that had ever been seen in this part of the

In his appearance he was a very paragon, with a fine manly countenance,
frank-hearted, blithe, and, in many points of character, very like my old
friend the Lord Eaglesham, who was shot.  Indeed, in some respects, he
was even above his lordship; for he had a great turn at ready wit, and
could joke and banter in a most agreeable manner.  He came very often to
the manse to see me, and took great pleasure in my company, and really
used a freedom that was so droll, I could scarcely keep my composity and
decorum with him.  Among others that shared in his attention, was daft
Meg Gaffaw, whom he had forgathered with one day in coming to see me; and
after conversing with her for some time, he handed her, as she told me
herself, over the kirk-stile like a lady of high degree, and came with
her to the manse door linking by the arm.

From the ill-timed daffin of that hour, poor Meg fell deep in love with
Mr. Melcomb; and it was just a playacting to see the arts and antics she
put in practice to win his attention.  In her garb, she had never any
sense of a proper propriety, but went about the country asking for
shapings of silks and satins, with which she patched her duds, calling
them by the divers names of robes and negligées.  All hitherto, however,
had been moderation, compared to the daffadile of vanity which she was
now seen, when she had searched, as she said, to the bottom of her
coffer.  I cannot take it upon me to describe her; but she kythed in such
a variety of cuffs and ruffles, feathers, old gumflowers, painted paper
knots, ribbons, and furs, and laces, and went about gecking and simpering
with an old fan in her hand, that it was not in the power of nature to
look at her with sobriety.

Her first appearance in this masquerading was at the kirk on the Sunday
following her adventure with Mr. Melcomb, and it was with a sore
difficulty that I could keep my eyes off her, even in prayer; and when
the kirk skailed, she walked before him, spreading all her grandeur to
catch his eye, in such a manner as had not been seen or heard of since
the prank that Lady Macadam played Miss Betty Wudrife.

Any other but Mr. Melcomb would have been provoked by the fool’s folly;
but he humoured her wit, and, to the amazement of the whole people,
presented her his hand, and allemanded her along in a manner that should
not have been seen in any street out of a king’s court, and far less on
the Lord’s day.  But, alas! this sport did not last long.  Mr. Melcomb
had come from England to be ‘married’ to his cousin, Miss Virginia
Cayenne, and poor daft Meg never heard of it till the banns for their
purpose of marriage was read out by Mr. Lorimore on the Sabbath after.
The words were scarcely out of his mouth, when the simple and innocent
natural gave a loud shriek, that terrified the whole congregation, and
ran out of the kirk demented.  There was no more finery for poor Meg; but
she went and sat opposite to the windows of Mr. Cayenne’s house, where
Mr. Melcomb was, with clasped hands and beseeching eyes, like a
monumental statue in alabaster, and no entreaty could drive her away.
Mr. Melcomb sent her money, and the bride many a fine thing; but Meg
flung them from her, and clasped her hands again, and still sat.  Mr.
Cayenne would have let loose the house-dog on her, but was not permitted.

In the evening it began to rain, and they thought that and the coming
darkness would drive her away; but when the servants looked out before
barring the doors, there she was in the same posture.  I was to perform
the marriage ceremony at seven o’clock in the morning, for the young pair
were to go that night to Edinburgh; and when I went, there was Meg
sitting looking at the windows with her hands clasped.  When she saw me
she gave a shrill cry, and took me by the hand, and wised me to go back,
crying out in a heart-breaking voice, “O, Sir!  No yet—no yet!  He’ll
maybe draw back, and think of a far truer bride.”  I was wae for her and
very angry with the servants for laughing at the fond folly of the
ill-less thing.

When the marriage was over, and the carriage at the door, the bridegroom
handed in the bride.  Poor Meg saw this, and jumping up from where she
sat, was at his side like a spirit, as he was stepping in, and, taking
him by the hand, she looked in his face so piteously, that every heart
was sorrowful, for she could say nothing.  When he pulled away his hand,
and the door was shut, she stood as if she had been charmed to the spot,
and saw the chaise drive away.  All that were about the door then spoke
to her, but she heard us not.  At last she gave a deep sigh, and the
water coming into her eye, she said, “The worm—the worm is my bonny
bridegroom, and Jenny with the many-feet my bridal maid.  The mill-dam
water’s the wine o’ the wedding, and the clay and the clod shall be my
bedding.  A lang night is meet for a bridal, but none shall be langer
than mine.”  In saying which words, she fled from among us, with heels
like the wind.  The servants pursued; but long before they could stop
her, she was past redemption in the deepest plumb of the cotton-mill dam.

Few deaths had for many a day happened in the parish, to cause so much
sorrow as that of this poor silly creature.  She was a sort of household
familiar among us, and there was much like the inner side of wisdom in
the pattern of her sayings, many of which are still preserved as

YEAR 1798

THIS was one of the heaviest years in the whole course of my ministry.
The spring was slow of coming, and cold and wet when it did come; the
dibs were full, the roads foul, and the ground that should have been dry
at the seed-time, was as claggy as clay, and clung to the harrow.  The
labour of man and beast was thereby augmented; and all nature being in a
state of sluggish indisposition, it was evident to every eye of
experience that there would be a great disappointment to the hopes of the

Foreseeing this, I gathered the opinion of all the most sagacious of my
parishioners, and consulted with them for a provision against the evil
day, and we spoke to Mr. Cayenne on the subject, for he had a talent by
common in matters of mercantile management.  It was amazing, considering
his hot temper, with what patience he heard the grounds of our
apprehension, and how he questioned and sifted the experience of the old
farmers, till he was thoroughly convinced that all similar seed-times
were ever followed by a short crop.  He then said, that he would prove
himself a better friend to the parish than he was thought.  Accordingly,
as he afterwards told me himself, he wrote off that very night to his
correspondents in America, to buy for his account all the wheat and flour
they could get, and ship it to arrive early in the fall; and he bought up
likewise in countries round the Baltic great store of victual, and
brought in two cargoes to Irville on purpose for the parish, against the
time of need, making for the occasion a garnel of one of the warehouses
of the cotton-mill.

The event came to pass as had been foretold: the harvest fell short, and
Mr. Cayenne’s cargoes from America and the Baltic came home in due
season, by which he made a terrible power of money, clearing thousands on
thousands by post after post—making more profit, as he said himself, in
the course of one month, he believed, than ever was made by any
individual within the kingdom of Scotland in the course of a year.—He
said, however that he might have made more if he had bought up the corn
at home; but being convinced by us that there would be a scarcity, he
thought it his duty as an honest man to draw from the stores and
granaries of foreign countries, by which he was sure he would serve his
country, and be abundantly rewarded.  In short, we all reckoned him
another Joseph when he opened his garnels at the cotton-mill, and, after
distributing a liberal portion to the poor and needy, selling the
remainder at an easy rate to the generality of the people.  Some of the
neighbouring parishes, however, were angry that he would not serve them
likewise, and called him a wicked and extortionate forestaller; but he
made it plain to the meanest capacity, that if he did not circumscribe
his dispensation to our own bounds it would be as nothing.  So that,
although he brought a wonderful prosperity in by the cotton-mill, and a
plenteous supply of corn in a time of famine, doing more in these things
for the people than all the other heritors had done from the beginning of
time, he was much reviled; even his bounty was little esteemed by my
people, because he took a moderate profit on what he sold to them.
Perhaps, however, these prejudices might be partly owing to their dislike
of his hasty temper, at least I am willing to think so; for it would
grieve me if they were really ungrateful for a benefit that made the
pressure of the time lie but lightly on them.

The alarm of the Irish rebellion in this year was likewise another source
of affliction to us; for many of the gentry coming over in great straits,
especially ladies and their children, and some of them in the hurry of
their flight having but little ready money, were very ill off.  Some four
or five families came to the Cross-Keys in this situation, and the
conduct of Mr. Cayenne to them was most exemplary.  He remembered his own
haste with his family from Virginia, when the Americans rebelled; and
immediately on hearing of these Irish refugees, he waited on them with
his wife and daughter, supplied them with money, invited them to his
house, made ploys to keep up their spirits, while the other gentry stood
back till they knew something of the strangers.

Among these destitute ladies was a Mrs. Desmond and her two daughters, a
woman of most august presence, being indeed more like one ordained to
reign over a kingdom, than for household purposes.  The Miss Desmonds
were only entering their teens, but they also had no ordinary stamp upon
them.  What made this party the more particular, was on account of Mr.
Desmond, who was supposed to be a united man with the rebels, and it was
known his son was deep in their plots; yet although this was all told to
Mr. Cayenne, by some of the other Irish ladies who were of the loyal
connexion, it made no difference with him, but, on the contrary, he acted
as if he thought the Desmonds the most of all the refugees entitled to
his hospitable civilities.  This was a wonderment to our strait-laced
narrow lairds, as there was not a man of such strict government
principles in the whole country side as Mr. Cayenne: but he said he
carried his political principles only to the camp and the council.  “To
the hospital and the prison,” said he, “I take those of a man”—which was
almost a Christian doctrine, and from that declaration Mr. Cayenne and me
began again to draw a little more cordially together; although he had
still a very imperfect sense of religion, which I attributed to his being
born in America, where even as yet, I am told, they have but a scanty
sprinkling of grace.

But before concluding this year, I should tell the upshot of the
visitation of the Irish, although it did not take place until some time
after the peace with France.

In the putting down of the rebels Mr. Desmond and his son made their
escape to Paris, where they stayed till the treaty was signed, by which,
for several years after the return to Ireland of the grand lady and her
daughters, as Mrs. Desmond was called by our commonalty, we heard nothing
of them.  The other refugees repaid Mr. Cayenne his money with
thankfulness, and, on their restoration to their homes, could not
sufficiently express their sense of his kindness.  But the silence and
seeming ingratitude of the Desmonds vexed him; and he could not abide to
hear the Irish rebellion mentioned without flying into a passion against
the rebels, which every body knew was owing to the ill return he had
received from that family.  However, one afternoon, just about half an
hour before his wonted dinner hour, a grand equipage, with four horses
and outriders, stopped at his door, and who was in it but Mrs. Desmond
and an elderly man, and a young gentleman with an aspect like a lord.  It
was her husband and son.  They had come from Ireland in all their state
on purpose to repay with interest the money Mr. Cayenne had counted so
long lost, and to express in person the perpetual obligation which he had
conferred upon the Desmond family, in all time coming.  The lady then
told him, that she had been so straitened in helping the poor ladies,
that it was not in her power to make repayment till Desmond, as she
called her husband, came home; and not choosing to assign the true
reason, lest it might cause trouble, she rather submitted to be suspected
of ingratitude than to an improper thing.

Mr. Cayenne was transported with this unexpected return, and a friendship
grew up between the families, which was afterwards cemented into
relationship by the marriage of the young Desmond with Miss Caroline
Cayenne.  Some in the parish objected to this match, Mrs. Desmond being a
papist: but as Miss Caroline had received an episcopalian education, I
thought it of no consequence, and married them after their family
chaplain from Ireland, as a young couple both by beauty and fortune well
matched, and deserving of all conjugal felicity.

YEAR 1799

THERE are but two things to make me remember this year; the first was the
marriage of my daughter Janet with the reverend Dr. Kittlewood of
Swappington, a match in every way commendable; and on the advice of the
third Mrs. Balwhidder, I settled a thousand pounds down, and promised
five hundred more at my death if I died before my spouse, and a thousand
at her death if she survived me; which was the greatest portion ever
minister’s daughter had in our country side.  In this year likewise I
advanced fifteen hundred pounds for my son in a concern in Glasgow,—all
was the gathering of that indefatigable engine of industry the second
Mrs. Balwhidder, whose talents her successor said were a wonder, when she
considered the circumstances in which I had been left at her death, and
made out of a narrow stipend.

The other memorable was the death of Mrs. Malcolm.  If ever there was a
saint on this earth, she was surely one.  She had been for some time
bedfast, having all her days from the date of her widowhood been a tender
woman; but no change made any alteration on the Christian contentment of
her mind.  She bore adversity with an honest pride; she toiled in the day
of penury and affliction with thankfulness for her earnings, although
ever so little.  She bent her head to the Lord in resignation when her
first-born fell in battle; nor was she puffed up with vanity when her
daughters were married, as it was said, so far above their degree, though
they showed it was but into their proper sphere by their demeanour after.
She lived to see her second son, the captain, rise into affluence,
married, and with a thriving young family; and she had the very great
satisfaction, on the last day she was able to go to church, to see her
youngest son the clergyman standing in my pulpit, a doctor of divinity,
and the placed minister of a richer parish than mine.  Well indeed might
she have said on that day, “Lord, let thy servant depart in peace, for
mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”

For some time it had been manifest to all who saw her, that her latter
end was drawing nigh; and therefore, as I had kept up a correspondence
with her daughters, Mrs. Macadam and Mrs. Howard, I wrote them a
particular account of her case, which brought them to the clachan.  They
both came in their own carriages; for Colonel Macadam was now a general,
and had succeeded to a great property by an English uncle, his mother’s
brother; and Captain Howard, by the death of his father, was also a man,
as it was said, with a lord’s living.  Robert Malcolm, her son the
captain, was in the West Indies at the time; but his wife came on the
first summons, as did William the minister.

They all arrived about four o’clock in the afternoon, and at seven a
message came for me and Mrs. Balwhidder to go over to them, which we did,
and found the strangers seated by the heavenly patient’s bedside.  On my
entering, she turned her eyes towards me, and said, “Bear witness, sir,
that I die thankful for an extraordinary portion of temporal mercies.
The heart of my youth was withered like the leaf that is scared with the
lightning; but in my children I have received a great indemnification for
the sorrows of that trial.”  She then requested me to pray, saying, “No;
let it be a thanksgiving.  My term is out, and I have nothing more to
hope or fear from the good or evil of this world.  But I have had much to
make me grateful; therefore, sir, return thanks for the time I have been
spared, for the goodness granted so long unto me, and the gentle hand
with which the way from this world is smoothed for my passing.”

There was something so sweet and consolatory in the way she said this,
that although it moved all present to tears, they were tears without the
wonted bitterness of grief.  Accordingly, I knelt down and did as she had
required, and there was a great stillness while I prayed.  At the
conclusion we looked to the bed, but the spirit had, in the mean time,
departed, and there was nothing remaining but the clay tenement.

It was expected by the parish, considering the vast affluence of the
daughters, that there would have been a grand funeral, and Mrs. Howard
thought it was necessary; but her sister, who had from her youth upward a
superior discernment of propriety, said, “No, as my mother has lived, so
shall be her end.”  Accordingly, everybody of any respect in the clachan
was invited to the funeral; but none of the gentry, saving only such as
had been numbered among the acquaintance of the deceased.  But Mr.
Cayenne came unbidden, saying to me, that although he did not know Mrs.
Malcolm personally, he had often heard she was an amiable woman, and
therefore he thought it a proper compliment to her family, who were out
of the parish, to show in what respect she was held among us; for he was
a man that would take his own way, and do what he thought was right,
heedless alike of blame or approbation.

If, however, the funeral was plain, though respectable, the ladies
distributed a liberal sum among the poor families; but before they went
away, a silent token of their mother’s virtue came to light, which was at
once a source of sorrow and pleasure.  Mrs. Malcolm was first well
provided by the Macadams, afterwards the Howards settled on her an equal
annuity, by which she spent her latter days in great comfort.  Many a
year before, she had repaid Provost Maitland the money he sent her in the
day of her utmost distress; and at this period he was long dead, having
died of a broken heart at the time of his failure.  From that time his
widow and her daughters had been in very straitened circumstances; but
unknown to all but herself, and HIM from whom nothing is hid, Mrs.
Malcolm from time to time had sent them, in a blank letter, an occasional
note to the young ladies to buy a gown.  After her death, a bank-bill for
a sum of money, her own savings, was found in her scrutoire, with a note
of her own writing pinned to the same, stating, that the amount being
more than she had needed for herself, belonged of right to those who had
so generously provided for her; but as they were not in want of such a
trifle, it would be a token of respect to her memory, if they would give
the bill to Mrs. Maitland and her daughters, which was done with the most
glad alacrity; and, in the doing of it, the private kindness was brought
to light.

                        [Picture: The Millwright]

Thus ended the history of Mrs. Malcolm, as connected with our Parish
Annals.  Her house was sold, and is the same now inhabited by the
millwright, Mr. Periffery; and a neat house it still is, for the
possessor is an Englishman, and the English have an uncommon taste for
snod houses and trim gardens; but at the time it was built, there was not
a better in the town, though it’s now but of the second class.  Yearly we
hear both from Mrs. Macadam and her sister, with a five-pound note from
each to the poor of the parish, as a token of their remembrance; but they
are far off, and, were any thing ailing me, I suppose the gift will not
be continued.  As for Captain Malcolm, he has proved, in many ways, a
friend to such of our young men as have gone to sea.  He has now left it
off himself, and settled at London, where he latterly sailed from, and, I
understand, is in a great way as a shipowner.  These things I have
thought it fitting to record, and will now resume my historical

YEAR 1800

THE same quietude and regularity that marked the progress of the last
year, continued throughout the whole of this.  We sowed and reaped in
tranquillity, though the sough of distant war came heavily from a
distance.  The cotton-mill did well for the company, and there was a
sobriety in the minds of the spinners and weavers, which showed that the
crisis of their political distemperature was over;—there was something
more of the old prudence in men’s reflections; and it was plain to see
that the elements of reconciliation were coming together throughout the
world.  The conflagration of the French Revolution was indeed not
extinguished, but it was evidently burning out; and their old reverence
for the Grand Monarque was beginning to revive among them, though they
only called him a consul.  Upon the king’s fast I preached on this
subject; and when the peace was concluded, I got great credit for my
foresight, but there was no merit in’t.  I had only lived longer than the
most of those around me, and had been all my days a close observer of the
signs of the times; so that what was lightly called prophecy and
prediction, were but a probability that experience had taught me to

In the affairs of the parish, the most remarkable generality (for we had
no particular catastrophe) was a great death of old people in the spring.
Among others, Miss Sabrina, the school mistress, paid the debt of nature,
but we could now better spare her than we did her predecessor; for at
Cayenneville there was a broken manufacturer’s wife, an excellent
teacher, and a genteel and modernised woman, who took the better order of
children; and Miss Sabrina having been long frail (for she was never
stout), a decent and discreet carlin, Mrs. M‘Caffie, the widow of a
custom-house officer, that was a native of the parish, set up another for
plainer work.  Her opposition Miss Sabrina did not mind, but she was
sorely displeased at the interloping of Mrs. Pirn at Cayenneville, and
some said it helped to kill her—of that, however, I am not so certain;
for Dr. Tanzey had told me in the winter, that he thought the sharp winds
in March would blow out her candle, as it was burnt to the snuff;
accordingly, she took her departure from this life, on the twenty-fifth
day of that month, after there had, for some days prior, been a most cold
and piercing east wind.

Miss Sabrina, who was always an oddity and aping grandeur, it was found,
had made a will, leaving her gatherings to her favourites, with all
regular formality.  To one she bequeathed a gown, to another this, and a
third that, and to me a pair of black silk stockings.  I was amazed when
I heard this; but judge what I felt, when a pair of old marrowless
stockings, darned in the heel, and not whole enough in the legs to make a
pair of mittens to Mrs. Balwhidder, were delivered to me by her executor,
Mr. Caption, the lawyer.  Saving, however, this kind of flummery, Miss
Sabrina was a harmless creature, and could quote poetry in discourse more
glibly than texts of Scripture—her father having spared no pains on her
mind: as for her body, it could not be mended; but that was not her

After her death, the session held a consultation, and we agreed to give
the same salary that Miss Sabrina enjoyed to Mrs. M‘Caffie, which angered
Mr. Cayenne, who thought it should have been given to the head mistress;
and it made him give Mrs. Pirn, out of his own pocket, double the sum.
But we considered that the parish funds were for the poor of the parish,
and therefore it was our duty to provide for the instruction of the poor
children.  Saving, therefore, those few notations, I have nothing further
to say concerning the topics and progress of this Ann. Dom.

YEAR 1801

IT is often to me very curious food for meditation, that as the parish
increased in population, there should have been less cause for matter to
record.  Things that in former days would have occasioned great discourse
and cogitation, are forgotten with the day in which they happen; and
there is no longer that searching into personalities which was so much in
vogue during the first epoch of my ministry, which I reckon the period
before the American war; nor has there been any such germinal changes
among us, as those which took place in the second epoch, counting
backward from the building of the cotton-mill that gave rise to the town
of Cayenneville.  But still we were not, even at this era, of which this
Ann. Dom. is the beginning, without occasional personality, or an event
that deserved to be called a germinal.

Some years before, I had noted among the callans at Mr. Lorimore’s school
a long soople laddie, who, like all bairns that grow fast and tall, had
but little smeddum.  He could not be called a dolt, for he was observant
and thoughtful, and giving to asking sagacious questions; but there was a
sleepiness about him, especially in the kirk, and he gave, as the master
said, but little application to his lessons, so that folk thought he
would turn out a sort of gaunt-at-the-door, more mindful of meat than
work.  He was, however, a good-natured lad; and, when I was taking my
solitary walks of meditation, I sometimes fell in with him sitting alone
on the brae by the water-side, and sometimes lying on the grass, with his
hands under his head, on the sunny green knolls where Mr. Cylinder, the
English engineer belonging to the cotton-work, has built the bonny house
that he calls Diryhill Cottage.  This was when Colin Mavis was a laddie
at the school, and when I spoke to him, I was surprised at the discretion
of his answers; so that gradually I began to think and say, that there
was more about Colin than the neighbours knew.  Nothing, however, for
many a day, came out to his advantage; so that his mother, who was by
this time a widow woman, did not well know what to do with him, and folk
pitied her heavy handful of such a droud.

By-and-by, however, it happened that one of the young clerks at the
cotton-mill shattered his right-hand thumb by a gun bursting; and, being
no longer able to write, was sent into the army to be an ensign, which
caused a vacancy in the office; and, through the help of Mr. Cayenne, I
got Colin Mavis into the place, where, to the surprise of everybody, he
proved a wonderful eident and active lad, and, from less to more, has
come at the head of all the clerks, and deep in the confidentials of his
employers.  But although this was a great satisfaction to me, and to the
widow woman his mother, it somehow was not so much so to the rest of the
parish, who seemed, as it were, angry that poor Colin had not proved
himself such a dolt as they had expected and foretold.

Among other ways that Colin had of spending his leisure, was that of
playing music on an instrument, in which it was said he made a wonderful
proficiency; but being long and thin, and of a delicate habit of body, he
was obligated to refrain from this recreation; so he betook himself to
books, and from reading he began to try writing; but, as this was done in
a corner, nobody jealoused what he was about, till one evening in this
year he came to the manse, and asked a word in private with me.  I
thought that perhaps he had fallen in with a lass, and was come to
consult me anent matrimony; but when we were by ourselves, in my study,
he took out of his pocket a number of the _Scots Magazine_, and said,
“Sir, you have been long pleased to notice me more than any other body,
and when I got this, I could not refrain from bringing it, to let you
see’t.  Ye maun ken, sir, that I have been long in secret given to trying
my hand at rhyme; and, wishing to ascertain what others thought of my
power in that way, I sent by the post twa three verses to the _Scots
Magazine_, and they have not only inserted them, but placed them in the
body of the book, in such a way that I kenna what to think.”  So I looked
at the Magazine, and read his verses, which were certainly very well-made
verses for one who had no regular education.  But I said to him, as the
Greenock magistrates said to John Wilson, the author of “Clyde,” when
they stipulated with him to give up the art, that poem-making was a
profane and unprofitable trade, and he would do well to turn his talent
to something of more solidity, which he promised to do; but he has since
put out a book, whereby he has angered all those that had foretold he
would be a do-nae-gude.  Thus has our parish walked sidy for sidy with
all the national improvements, having an author of its own, and getting a
literary character in the ancient and famous republic of letters.

YEAR 1802

“EXPERIENCE teaches fools,” was the first moral apothegm that I wrote in
small text, when learning to write at the school, and I have ever since
thought it was a very sensible reflection.  For assuredly, as year after
year has flown away on the swift wings of time, I have found my
experience mellowing, and my discernment improving; by which I have, in
the afternoon of life, been enabled to foresee what kings and nations
would do, by the symptoms manifested within the bounds of the society
around me.  Therefore, at the beginning of the spring in this Ann. Dom.,
I had misgivings at the heart, a fluttering in my thoughts, and
altogether a strange uneasiness as to the stability of the peace and
harmony that was supposed to be founded upon a steadfast foundation
between us and the French people.  What my fears principally took their
rise from, was a sort of compliancy, on the part of those in power and
authority, to cultivate the old relations and parts between them and the
commonalty.  It did not appear to me that this proceeded from any known
or decided event, for I read the papers at this period daily; but from
some general dread and fear, that was begotten, like a vapour out of the
fermentation of all sorts of opinions; most people of any sagacity
thinking that the state of things in France being so much of an antic,
poetical, and playactor-like guise, that it would never obtain that
respect, far less that reverence from the world, which is necessary to
the maintenance of all beneficial government.  The consequence of this
was a great distrust between man and man, and an aching restlessness
among those who had their bread to bake in the world; persons possessing
the power to provide for their kindred, forcing them, as it were, down
the throats of those who were dependent on them in business, a bitter

But the pith of these remarks chiefly applies to the manufacturing
concerns of the new town of Cayenneville; for in the clachan we lived in
the lea of the dike, and were more taken up with our own natural rural
affairs, and the markets for victual, than the craft of merchandise.  The
only man interested in business, who walked in a steady manner at his old
pace, though he sometimes was seen, being of a spunkie temper, grinding
the teeth of vexation, was Mr. Cayenne himself.

One day, however, he came to me at the manse.  “Doctor,” says he, for so
he always called me, “I want your advice.  I never choose to trouble
others with my private affairs; but there are times when the word of an
honest man may do good.  I need not tell you, that when I declared myself
a Royalist in America, it was at a considerable sacrifice.  I have,
however, nothing to complain of against government on that score; but I
think it damn’d hard that those personal connexions, whose interests I
preserved to the detriment of my own, should in my old age make such an
ungrateful return.  By the steps I took prior to quitting America, I
saved the property of a great mercantile concern in London.  In return
for that, they took a share with me, and for me, in the cotton-mill; and
being here on the spot, as manager, I have both made and saved them
money.  I have, no doubt, bettered my own fortune in the mean time.
Would you believe it, doctor, they have written a letter to me, saying
that they wish to provide for a relation, and requiring me to give up to
him a portion of my share in the concern—a pretty sort of providing this,
at another man’s expense!  But I’ll be damn’d if I do any such thing!  If
they want to provide for their friend, let them do so from themselves,
and not at my cost—What is your opinion?”

This appeared to me a very weighty concern, and, not being versed in
mercantile dealing, I did not well know what to say; but I reflected for
some time, and then I replied, “As far, Mr. Cayenne, as my observation
has gone in this world, I think that the giffs and the gaffs nearly
balance one another; and when they do not, there is a moral defect on the
failing side.  If a man long gives his labour to his employer, and is
paid for that labour, it might be said that both are equal; but I say no.
For it’s in human nature to be prompt to change; and the employer, having
always more in his power than his servant or agent, it seems to me a
clear case, that in the course of a number of years, the master of the
old servant is the obligated of the two; and therefore I say, in the
first place, in your case there is no tie or claim, by which you may, in
a moral sense, be called upon to submit to the dictates of your London
correspondents; but there is a reason, in the nature of the thing and
case, by which you may ask a favour from them—So, the advice I would give
you would be this: write an answer to their letter, and tell them that
you have no objection to the taking in of a new partner, but you think it
would be proper to revise all the copartnery, especially as you have,
considering the manner in which you have advanced the business, been of
opinion, that your share should be considerably enlarged.”

I thought Mr. Cayenne would have louped out of his skin with mirth at
this notion; and, being a prompt man, he sat down at my scrutoire, and
answered the letter which gave him so much uneasiness.  No notice was
taken of it for some time; but in the course of a month he was informed,
that it was not considered expedient at that time to make any change in
the company.  I thought the old man was gone by himself when he got this
letter.  He came over instantly in his chariot, from the cotton-mill
office to the manse, and swore an oath, by some dreadful name, that I was
a Solomon.  However, I only mention this to show how experience had
instructed me, and as a sample of that sinister provisioning of friends
that was going on in the world at this time—all owing, as I do verily
believe, to the uncertain state of governments and national affairs.

Besides these generalities, I observed another thing working to
effect—mankind read more, and the spirit of reflection and reasoning was
more awake than at any time within my remembrance.  Not only was there a
handsome bookseller’s shop in Cayenneville, with a London newspaper
daily, but magazines, and reviews, and other new publications.

Till this year, when a chaise was wanted we had to send to Irville; but
Mr. Toddy of the Cross-Keys being in at Glasgow, he bought an excellent
one at the second-hand, a portion of the effects of a broken merchant, by
which, from that period, we had one of our own, and it proved a great
convenience; for I, who never but twice in my life before hired that kind
of commodity, had it thrice during the summer, for a bit jaunt with Mrs.
Balwhidder to divers places and curiosities in the county that I had not
seen before, by which our ideas were greatly enlarged; indeed, I have
always had a partiality for travelling, as one of the best means of
opening the faculty of the mind, and giving clear and correct notions of
men and things.

YEAR 1803

DURING the tempestuous times that ensued, from the death of the King of
France by the hands of the executioner in 1793, there had been a
political schism among my people that often made me very uneasy.  The
folk belonging to the cotton-mill, and the muslin-weavers in
Cayenneville, were afflicted with the itch of jacobinism, but those of
the village were stanch and true to king and country; and some of the
heritors were desirous to make volunteers of the young men of them, in
case of anything like the French anarchy and confusion rising on the side
of the manufacturers.  I, however, set myself, at that time, against
this, for I foresaw that the French business was but a fever which would
soon pass off; but no man could tell the consequence of putting arms in
the hands of neighbour against neighbour, though it was but in the way of

But when Bonaparte gathered his host fornent the English coast, and the
government at London were in terror of their lives for an invasion, all
in the country saw that there was danger, and I was not backward in
sounding the trumpet to battle.  For a time, however, there was a
diffidence among us somewhere.  The gentry had a distrust of the
manufacturers, and the farming lads were wud with impatience, that those
who should be their leaders would not come forth.  I, knowing this,
prepared a sermon suitable to the occasion, giving out from the pulpit
myself, the Sabbath before preaching it, that it was my intent, on the
next Lord’s day, to deliver a religious and political exhortation on the
present posture of public affairs.  This drew a vast congregation of all

I trow that the stoor had no peace in the stuffing of the pulpit in that
day; and the effect was very great and speedy: for next morning the
weavers and cotton-mill folk held a meeting, and they, being skilled in
the ways of committees and associating together, had certain resolutions
prepared, by which a select few was appointed to take an enrolment of all
willing in the parish to serve as volunteers in defence of their king and
country, and to concert with certain gentlemen named therein, about the
formation of a corps, of which, it was an understood thing, the said
gentlemen were to be the officers.  The whole of this business was
managed with the height of discretion; and the weavers, and spinners, and
farming lads, vied with one another who should be first on the list.  But
that which the most surprised me, was the wonderful sagacity of the
committee in naming the gentlemen that should be the officers.  I could
not have made a better choice myself; for they were the best built, the
best bred, and the best natured, in the parish.  In short, when I saw the
bravery that was in my people, and the spirit of wisdom by which it was
directed, I said in my heart, the Lord of Hosts is with us, and the
adversary shall not prevail.

                        [Picture: The Silhouette]

The number of valiant men which at that time placed themselves around the
banners of their country was so great, that the government would not
accept of all who offered; so, like as in other parishes, we were
obligated to make a selection, which was likewise done in a most
judicious manner, all men above a certain age being reserved for the
defence of the parish, in the day when the young might be called to
England to fight the enemy.

When the corps was formed, and the officers named, they made me their
chaplain, and Dr. Marigold their doctor.  He was a little man with a big
belly, and was as crouse as a bantam cock; but it was not thought he
could do so well in field exercises, on which account he was made the
doctor, although he had no repute in that capacity in comparison with Dr.
Tanzey, who was not, however, liked, being a stiff-mannered man, with a
sharp temper.

All things having come to a proper head, the young ladies of the parish
resolved to present the corps with a stand of colours, which they
embroidered themselves, and a day was fixed for the presentation of the
same.  Never was such a day seen in Dalmailing.  The sun shone brightly
on that scene of bravery and grandeur, and far and near the country folk
came flocking in; and we had the regimental band of music hired from the
soldiers that were in Ayr barracks.  The very first sound o’t made the
hair on my old grey head to prickle up, and my blood to rise and glow as
if youth was coming again into my veins.

Sir Hugh Montgomerie was the commandant; and he came in all the glory of
war, on his best horse, and marched at the head of the men to the
green-head.  The doctor and me were the rearguard: not being able, on
account of my age and his fatness, to walk so fast as the quick-step of
the corps.  On the field, we took our place in front, near Sir Hugh and
the ladies with the colours; and after some salutations, according to the
fashion of the army, Sir Hugh made a speech to the men, and then Miss
Maria Montgomerie came forward, with her sister Miss Eliza, and the other
ladies, and the banners were unfurled, all glittering with gold, and the
king’s arms in needlework.  Miss Maria then made a speech, which she had
got by heart; but she was so agitated that it was said she forgot the
best part of it: however, it was very well considering.  When this was
done, I then stepped forward, and laying my hat on the ground, every man
and boy taking off theirs, I said a prayer, which I had conned most
carefully, and which I thought the most suitable I could devise, in
unison with Christian principles, which are averse to the shedding of
blood; and I particularly dwelt upon some of the specialities of our

When I had concluded, the volunteers gave three great shouts, and the
multitude answered them to the same tune, and all the instruments of
music sounded, making such a bruit as could not be surpassed for
grandeur—a long, and very circumstantial account of all which, may be
read in the newspapers of that time.

The volunteers, at the word of command, then showed us the way they were
to fight with the French, in the doing of which a sad disaster happened;
for when they were charging bayonets, they came towards us like a flood,
and all the spectators ran; and I ran, and the doctor ran; but being
laden with his belly, he could not run fast enough, so he lay down, and
being just before me at the time, I tumbled over him, and such a shout of
laughter shook the field as was never heard.

When the fatigues of the day were at an end, we marched to the
cotton-mill, where, in one of the ware-houses, a vast table was spread,
and a dinner, prepared at Mr. Cayenne’s own expense, sent in from the
Cross-Keys, and the whole corps, with many of the gentry of the
neighbourhood, dined with great jollity, the band of music playing
beautiful airs all the time.  At night there was a universal dance,
gentle and semple mingled together.  All which made it plain to me, that
the Lord, by this unison of spirit, had decreed our national
preservation; but I kept this in my own breast, lest it might have the
effect to relax the vigilance of the kingdom.  And I should note that
Colin Mavis, the poetical lad, of whom I have spoken in another part,
made a song for this occasion that was very mightily thought of, having
in it a nerve of valiant genius, that kindled the very souls of those
that heard it.

YEAR 1804

IN conformity with the altered fashions of the age, in this year the
session came to an understanding with me, that we should not inflict the
common church censures for such as made themselves liable thereto; but we
did not formally promulge our resolution as to this, wishing as long as
possible to keep the deterring rod over the heads of the young and
thoughtless.  Our motive, on the one hand, was the disregard of the
manufacturers in Cayenneville, who were, without the breach of truth, an
irreligious people; and, on the other, a desire to preserve the ancient
and wholesome admonitory and censorian jurisdiction of the minister and
elders.  We therefore laid it down as a rule to ourselves, that, in the
case of transgressions on the part of the inhabitants of the new district
of Cayenneville, we should subject them rigorously to a fine; but that
for the farming-lads, we would put it in their option to pay the fine, or
stand in the kirk.

We conformed also in another matter to the times, by consenting to
baptize occasionally in private houses.  Hitherto it had been a strict
rule with me only to baptize from the pulpit.  Other parishes, however,
had long been in the practice of this relaxation of ancient discipline.

But all this on my part, was not done without compunction of spirit; for
I was of opinion, that the principle of Presbyterian integrity should
have been maintained to the uttermost.  Seeing, however, the elders set
on an alteration, I distrusted my own judgment, and yielded myself to the
considerations that weighed with them; for they were true men, and of a
godly honesty, and took the part of the poor in all contentions with the
heritors, often to the hazard and damage of their own temporal welfare.

I have now to note a curious thing, not on account of its importance, but
to show to what lengths a correspondence had been opened in the parish
with the farthest parts of the earth.  Mr. Cayenne got a turtle-fish sent
to him from a Glasgow merchant, and it was living when it came to the
Wheatrig House, and was one of the most remarkable beasts that had ever
been seen in our country side.  It weighed as much as a well-fed calf,
and had three kinds of meat in its body, fish, flesh, and fowl, and it
had four water-wings, for they could not be properly called fins; but
what was little short of a miracle about the creature, happened after the
head was cutted off, when, if a finger was offered to it, it would open
its mouth and snap at it, and all this after the carcass was divided for

Mr. Cayenne made a feast on the occasion to many of the neighbouring
gentry, to the which I was invited; and we drank lime-punch as we ate the
turtle, which, as I understand, is the fashion in practice among the
Glasgow West Indy merchants, who are famed as great hands with turtles
and lime-punch.  But it is a sort of food that I should not like to fare
long upon.  I was not right the next day; and I have heard it said, that
when eaten too often, it has a tendency to harden the heart and make it
crave for greater luxuries.

But the story of the turtle is nothing to that of the Mass, which, with
all its mummeries and abominations, was brought into Cayenneville by an
Irish priest of the name of Father O’Grady, who was confessor to some of
the poor deluded Irish labourers about the new houses and the
cotton-mill.  How he had the impudence to set up that memento of Satan,
the crucifix, within my parish and jurisdiction, was what I never could
get to the bottom of; but the soul was shaken within me, when, on the
Monday after, one of the elders came to the manse, and told me that the
old dragon of Popery, with its seven heads and ten horns, had been
triumphing in Cayenneville on the foregoing Lord’s day!  I lost no time
in convening the session to see what was to be done; much, however, to my
surprise, the elders recommended no step to be taken, but only a zealous
endeavour to greater Christian excellence on our part, by which we should
put the beast and his worshippers to shame and flight.  I am free to
confess, that, at the time, I did not think this the wisest counsel which
they might have given; for, in the heat of my alarm, I was for attacking
the enemy in his camp.  But they prudently observed, that the days of
religious persecution were past, and it was a comfort to see mankind
cherishing any sense of religion at all, after the vehement infidelity
that had been sent abroad by the French Republicans; and to this opinion,
now that I have had years to sift its wisdom, I own myself a convert and

Fortunately, however, for my peace of mind, there proved to be but five
Roman Catholics in Cayenneville; and Father O’Grady not being able to
make a living there, packed up his Virgin Marys, saints, and painted
Agneses in a portmanteau, and went off in the Ayr fly one morning for
Glasgow, where I hear he has since met with all the encouragement that
might be expected from the ignorant and idolatrous inhabitants of that
great city.

Scarcely were we well rid of Father O’Grady, when another interloper
entered the parish.  He was more dangerous, in the opinion of the
session, than even the Pope of Rome himself; for he came to teach the
flagrant heresy of Universal Redemption, a most consolatory doctrine to
the sinner that is loth to repent, and who loves to troll his iniquity
like a sweet morsel under his tongue.  Mr. Martin Siftwell, who was the
last ta’en on elder, and who had received a liberal and judicious
education, and was, moreover, naturally possessed of a quick penetration,
observed, in speaking of this new doctrine, that the grossest papist
sinner might have some qualms of fear after he had bought the Pope’s
pardon, and might thereby be led to a reformation of life; but that the
doctrine of universal redemption was a bribe to commit sin, the wickedest
mortal, according to it, being only liable to a few thousand years, more
or less, of suffering, which, compared with eternity, was but a momentary
pang, like having a tooth drawn for the toothache.  Mr. Siftwell is a
shrewd and clear-seeing man in points of theology, and I would trust a
great deal to what he says, as I have not, at my advanced age, such a
mind for the kittle crudities of polemical investigation that I had in my
younger years, especially when I was a student in the Divinity Hall of

It will be seen from all I have herein recorded, that, in the course of
this year, there was a general resuscitation of religious sentiments; for
what happened in my parish was but a type and index to the rest of the
world.  We had, however, one memorable that must stand by itself; for
although neither death nor bloodshed happened, yet was it cause of the
fear of both.

A rumour reached us from the Clyde, that a French man-of-war had appeared
in a Highland loch, and that all the Greenock volunteers had embarked in
merchant vessels to bring her in for a prize.  Our volunteers were just
jumping and yowling, like chained dogs, to be at her too; but the
colonel, Sir Hugh, would do nothing without orders from his superiors.
Mr. Cayenne, though an aged man above seventy, was as bold as a lion, and
came forth in the old garb of an American huntsman, like, as I was told,
a Robin Hood in the play is; and it was just a sport to see him, feckless
man, trying to march so crousely with his lean, shaking hands.  But the
whole affair proved a false alarm, and our men, when they heard it, were
as well pleased that they had been constrained to sleep in their warm
beds at home, instead of lying on coils of cables, like the gallant
Greenock sharp-shooters.

YEAR 1805

FOR some time I had meditated a reformation in the parish, and this year
I carried the same into effect.  I had often noticed with concern, that,
out of a mistaken notion of paying respect to the dead, my people were
wont to go to great lengths at their burials, and dealt round short-bread
and sugar-biscuit, with wine and other confections, as if there had been
no ha’d in their hands; which straitened many a poor family, making the
dispensation of the Lord a heavier temporal calamity than it should
naturally have been.  Accordingly, on consulting with Mrs. Balwhidder,
who has a most judicious judgment, it was thought that my interference
would go a great way to lighten the evil.  I therefore advised with those
whose friends were taken from them, not to make that amplitude of
preparation which used to be the fashion, nor to continue handing about
as long as the folk would take, but only at the very most to go no more
than three times round with the service.  Objections were made to this,
as if it would be thought mean; but I put on a stern visage, and told
them, that if they did more I would rise up, and rebuke and forbid the
extravagance.  So three services became the uttermost modicum at all
burials.  This was doing much, but it was not all that I wished to do.

I considered that the best reformations are those which proceed step by
step, and stop at that point where the consent to what has been
established becomes general; and so I governed myself, and therefore
interfered no farther; but I was determined to set an example.
Accordingly, at the very next dregy, after I partook of one service, I
made a bow to the servitors and they passed on, but all before me had
partaken of the second service; some, however, of those after me did as I
did, so I foresaw that in a quiet canny way I would bring in the fashion
of being satisfied with one service.  I therefore, from that time, always
took my place as near as possible to the door, where the chief mourner
sat, and made a point of nodding away the second service, which has now
grown into a custom, to the great advantage of surviving relations.

But in this reforming business I was not altogether pleased with our
poet; for he took a pawkie view of my endeavours, and indited a ballad on
the subject, in the which he makes a clattering carlin describe what took
place, so as to turn a very solemn matter into a kind of derision.  When
he brought his verse and read it to me, I told him that I thought it was
overly natural; for I could not find another term to designate the cause
of the dissatisfaction that I had with it; but Mrs. Balwhidder said that
it might help my plan if it were made public; so upon her advice we got
some of Mr. Lorimore’s best writers to make copies of it for
distribution, which was not without fruit and influence.  But a sore
thing happened at the very next burial.  As soon as the nodding away of
the second service began, I could see that the gravity of the whole
meeting was discomposed; and some of the irreverent young chiels almost
broke out into even-down laughter, which vexed me exceedingly.  Mrs.
Balwhidder, howsoever, comforted me by saying, that custom in time would
make it familiar, and by-and-by the thing would pass as a matter of
course, until one service would be all that folk would offer; and truly
the thing is coming to that, for only two services are now handed round,
and the second is regularly nodded by.

YEAR 1806

MR. CAYENNE of Wheatrig having for several years been in a declining way,
partly brought on by the consuming fire of his furious passion, and
partly by the decay of old age, sent for me on the evening of the first
Sabbath of March in this year.  I was surprised at the message, and went
to the Wheatrig House directly, where, by the lights in the windows as I
gaed up through the policy to the door, I saw something extraordinary was
going on.  Sambo, the blackamoor servant, opened the door, and, without
speaking, shook his head; for it was an affectionate creature, and as
fond of his master as if he had been his own father.  By this sign I
guessed that the old gentleman was thought to be drawing near his latter
end; so I walked softly after Sambo up the stair, and was shown into the
chamber where Mr. Cayenne, since he had been confined to the house,
usually sat.  His wife had been dead some years before.

Mr. Cayenne was sitting in his easy chair, with a white cotton nightcap
on his head, and a pillow at his shoulders to keep him straight.  But his
head had fallen down on his breast, and he breathed like a panting baby.
His legs were swelled, and his feet rested on a footstool.  His face,
which was wont to be the colour of a peony rose, was of a yellow hue,
with a patch of red on each cheek like a wafer; and his nose was shirpit
and sharp, and of an unnatural purple.  Death was evidently fighting with
nature for the possession of the body.  “Heaven have mercy on his soul!”
said I to myself, as I sat down beside him.

When I had been seated some time, the power was given him to raise his
head as it were a-jee; and he looked at me with the tail of his eye,
which I saw was glittering and glassy.  “Doctor,” for he always called me
doctor, though I am not of that degree, “I am glad to see you,” were his
words, uttered with some difficulty.

“How do you find yourself, sir?” I replied, in a sympathising manner.

“Damned bad,” said he, as if I had been the cause of his suffering.  I
was daunted to the very heart to hear him in such an unregenerate state;
but after a short pause I addressed myself to him again, saying, that “I
hoped he would soon be more at ease; and he should bear in mind that the
Lord chasteneth whom he loveth.”

“The devil take such love!” was his awful answer, which was to me as a
blow on the forehead with a mell.  However, I was resolved to do my duty
to the miserable sinner, let him say what he would.  Accordingly, I
stooped towards him with my hands on my knees, and said in a
compassionate voice, “It’s very true, sir, that you are in great agony;
but the goodness of God is without bound.”

“Curse me if I think so, doctor!” replied the dying uncircumcised
Philistine.  But he added at whiles, his breathlessness being grievous,
and often broken by a sore hiccup, “I am, however, no saint, as you know,
doctor; so I wish you to put in a word for me, doctor; for you know that
in these times, doctor, it is the duty of every good subject to die a

This was a poor account of the state of his soul; but it was plain I
could make no better o’t, by entering into any religious discourse or
controversy with him, he being then in the last gasp; so I knelt down and
prayed for him with great sincerity, imploring the Lord, as an awakening
sense of grace to the dying man, that it would please him to lift up,
though it were but for the season of a minute, the chastening hand which
was laid so heavily upon his aged servant; at which Mr. Cayenne, as if,
indeed, the hand had been then lifted, cried out, “None of that stuff,
doctor; you know that I cannot call myself his servant.”

                       [Picture: The Ruling Elder]

Was ever a minister in his prayer so broken in upon by a perishing
sinner!  However, I had the weight of a duty upon me, and made no reply,
but continued, “Thou hearest, O Lord, how he confesses his unworthiness!
Let not thy compassion, therefore, be withheld, but verify to him the
words that I have spoken in faith, of the boundlessness of thy goodness,
and the infinite multitude of thy tender mercies.”  I then calmly, but
sadly, sat down, and presently, as if my prayer had been heard, relief
was granted; for Mr. Cayenne raised his head, and giving me a queer look,
said, “That last clause of your petition, doctor, was well put, and I
think, too, it has been granted, for I am easier”—adding, “I have no
doubt, doctor, given much offence in the world, and oftenest when I meant
to do good; but I have wilfully injured no man; and as God is my judge,
and his goodness, you say, is so great, he may, perhaps, take my soul
into his holy keeping.”  In saying which words, Mr. Cayenne dropped his
head upon his breast, his breathing ceased, and he was wafted away out of
this world with as little trouble as a blameless baby.

This event soon led to a change among us.  In the settling of Mr.
Cayenne’s affairs in the Cotton-mill Company, it was found that he had
left such a power of money, that it was needful to the concern, in order
that they might settle with the doers under his testament, to take in
other partners.  By this Mr. Speckle came to be a resident in the parish,
he having taken up a portion of Mr. Cayenne’s share.  He likewise took a
tack of the house and policy of Wheatrig.  But although Mr. Speckle was a
far more conversible man than his predecessor, and had a wonderful
plausibility in business, the affairs of the company did not thrive in
his hands.  Some said this was owing to his having owre many irons in the
fire; others, to the circumstances of the times: in my judgment, however,
both helped; but the issue belongs to the events of another year.  In the
meanwhile, I should here note, that in the course of this current Ann.
Dom. it pleased Heaven to visit me with a severe trial; the nature of
which I will here record at length—the upshot I will make known

From the planting of inhabitants in the cotton-mill town of Cayenneville,
or as the country folk, not used to used to such lang-nebbit words, now
call it, Canaille, there had come in upon the parish various sectarians
among the weavers, some of whom were not satisfied with the gospel as I
preached it, and endeavoured to practise it in my walk and conversation;
and they began to speak of building a kirk for themselves, and of getting
a minster that would give them the gospel more to their own ignorant
fancies.  I was exceedingly wroth and disturbed when the thing was first
mentioned to me; and I very earnestly, from the pulpit, next Lord’s day,
lectured on the growth of newfangled doctrines; which, however, instead
of having the wonted effect of my discourses, set up the theological
weavers in a bleeze, and the very Monday following they named a
committee, to raise money by subscription to build a meeting-house.  This
was the first overt act of insubordination, collectively manifested, in
the parish; and it was conducted with all that crafty dexterity with
which the infidel and jacobin spirit of the French Revolution had
corrupted the honest simplicity of our good old hameward fashions.  In
the course of a very short time, the Canaille folk had raised a large
sum, and seduced not a few of my people into their schism, by which they
were enabled to set about building their kirk; the foundations thereof
were not, however, laid till the following year, but their proceedings
gave me a het heart, for they were like an open rebellion to my
authority, and a contemptuous disregard of that religious allegiance
which is due from the flock to the pastor.

On Christmas-day the wind broke off the main arm of our Adam and Eve
pear-tree; and I grieved for it more as a type and sign of the threatened
partition, than on account of the damage, though the fruit was the
juiciest in all the country side.

YEAR 1807

THIS was a year to me of satisfaction in many points; for a greater
number of my younger flock married in it, than had done for any one of
ten years prior.  They were chiefly the offspring of the marriages that
took place at the close of the American war; and I was pleased to see the
duplification of well-doing, as I think marrying is, having always
considered the command to increase and multiply, a holy ordinance, which
the circumstances of this world but too often interfere to prevent.

It was also made manifest to me, that in this year there was a very
general renewal in the hearts of men, of a sense of the utility, even in
earthly affairs, of a religious life: in some, I trust it was more than
prudence, and really a birth of grace.  Whether this was owing to the
upshot of the French Revolution, all men being pretty well satisfied in
their minds, that uproar and rebellion make but an ill way of righting
wrongs, or that the swarm of unruly youth the offspring, as I have said,
of the marriages after the American war, had grown sobered from their
follies, and saw things in a better light, I cannot take upon me to say.
But it was very edifying to me, their minister, to see several lads who
had been both wild and free in their principles, marrying with sobriety,
and taking their wives to the kirk with the comely decorum of heads of

But I was now growing old, and could go seldomer out among my people than
in former days; so that I was less a partaker of their ploys and
banquets, either at birth, bridal, or burial.  I heard, however, all that
went on at them, and I made it a rule, after giving the blessing at the
end of the ceremony, to admonish the bride and bridegroom to ca’ canny,
and join trembling with their mirth.  It behoved me on one occasion,
however, to break through a rule that age and frailty had imposed upon
me, and to go to the wedding of Tibby Banes, the daughter of the
betheral, because she had once been a servant in the manse, besides the
obligation upon me, from her father’s part both in the kirk and kirkyard.
Mrs. Balwhidder went with me, for she liked to countenance the
pleasantries of my people; and, over and above all, it was a pay-wedding,
in order to set up the bridegroom in a shop.

There was, to be sure, a great multitude, gentle and semple, of all
denominations, with two fiddles and a bass, and the volunteers’ fife and
drum; and the jollity that went on was a perfect feast of itself, though
the wedding-supper was a prodigy of abundance.  The auld carles kecklet
with fainness as they saw the young dancers; and the carlins sat on
forms, as mim as May puddocks, with their shawls pinned apart, to show
their muslin napkins.  But, after supper, when they had got a glass of
the punch, their heels showed their mettle, and grannies danced with
their oyes, holding out their hands as if they had been spinning with two
rocks.  I told Colin Mavis, the poet, than an _Infare_ was a fine subject
for his muse; and soon after he indited an excellent ballad under that
title, which he projects to publish, with other ditties, by subscription;
and I have no doubt a liberal and discerning public will give him all
manner of encouragement, for that is the food of talent of every kind;
and without cheering, no one can say what an author’s faculty naturally

YEAR 1808

THROUGH all the wars that have raged from the time of the King’s
accession to the throne, there has been a gradually coming nearer and
nearer to our gates, which is a very alarming thing to think of.  In the
first, at the time he came to the crown, we suffered nothing.  Not one
belonging to the parish was engaged in the battles thereof; and the news
of victories, before they reached us, which was generally by word of
mouth, were old tales.  In the American war, as I have related at length,
we had an immediate participation; but those that suffered were only a
few individuals, and the evil was done at a distance, and reached us not
until the worst of its effects were spent.  And during the first term of
the present just and necessary contest for all that is dear to us as a
people, although, by the offswarming of some of our restless youth, we
had our part and portion in common with the rest of the Christian world;
yet still there was at home a great augmentation of prosperity, and every
thing had thriven in a surprising manner; somewhat, however, to the
detriment of our country simplicity.  By the building of the cotton-mill,
and the rising up of the new town of Cayenneville, we had intromitted so
much with concerns of trade, that we were become a part of the great web
of commercial reciprocities, and felt in our corner and extremity, every
touch or stir that was made on any part of the texture.  The consequence
of this I have now to relate.

Various rumours had been floating about the business of the cotton
manufacturers not being so lucrative as it had been; and Bonaparte, as it
is well known, was a perfect limb of Satan against our prosperity, having
recourse to the most wicked means and purposes to bring ruin upon us as a
nation.  His cantrips, in this year, began to have a dreadful effect.

For some time it had been observed in the parish, that Mr. Specle of the
cotton-mill, went very often to Glasgow, and was sometimes off at a few
minutes’ warning to London; and the neighbours began to guess and wonder
at what could be the cause of all this running here, and riding there, as
if the little-gude was at his heels.  Sober folk augured ill o’t; and it
was remarked, likewise, that there was a haste and confusion in his mind,
which betokened a foretaste of some change of fortune.  At last, in the
fulness of time, the babe was born.

On a Saturday night, Mr. Speckle came out late from Glasgow; on the
Sabbath he was with all his family at the kirk, looking as a man that had
changed his way of life; and on the Monday, when the spinners went to the
mill, they were told that the company had stopped payment.  Never did a
thunder-clap daunt the heart like this news; for the bread in a moment
was snatched from more than a thousand mouths.  It was a scene not to be
described, to see the cotton-spinners and the weavers, with their wives
and children, standing in bands along the road, all looking and speaking
as if they had lost a dear friend or parent.  For my part, I could not
bear the sight, but hid myself in my closet, and prayed to the Lord to
mitigate a calamity which seemed to me past the capacity of man to
remedy; for what could our parish fund do in the way of helping a whole
town, thus suddenly thrown out of bread?

In the evening, however, I was strengthened, and convened the elders at
the manse to consult with them on what was best to be done; for it was
well known that the sufferers had made no provision for a sore foot.  But
all our gathered judgments could determine nothing; and therefore we
resolved to wait the issue, not doubting but that He who sends the night,
would bring the day in His good and gracious time, which so fell out.
Some of them who had the largest experience of such vicissitudes,
immediately began to pack up their ends and their awls, and to hie them
into Glasgow and Paisley in quest of employ; but those who trusted to the
hopes that Mr. Speckle himself still cherished, lingered long, and were
obligated to submit to sore distress.  After a time, however, it was
found that the company was ruined; and the mill being sold for the
benefit of the creditors, it was bought by another Glasgow company, who,
by getting a good bargain, and managing well, have it still, and have
made it again a blessing to the country.  At the time of the stoppage,
however, we saw that commercial prosperity, flush as it might be, was but
a perishable commodity, and from thence, both by public discourse and
private exhortation, I have recommended to the workmen to lay up
something for a reverse; and showed that, by doing with their bawbees and
pennies what the great do with their pounds, they might in time get a
pose to help them in the day of need.  This advice they have followed,
and made up a Savings Bank, which is a pillow of comfort to many an
industrious head of a family.

But I should not close this account of the disaster that befell Mr.
Speckle, and the cotton-mill company, without relating a very melancholy
case that was the consequence.  Among the overseers there was a Mr.
Dwining, an Englishman from Manchester, where he had seen better days,
having had himself there of his own property, once as large a mill,
according to report, as the Cayenneville mill.  He was certainly a man
above the common, and his wife was a lady in every point; but they held
themselves by themselves, and shunned all manner of civility, giving up
their whole attention to their two little boys, who were really like
creatures of a better race than the callans of our clachan.

On the failure of the company, Mr. Dwining was observed by those who were
present to be particularly distressed: his salary being his all; but he
said little, and went thoughtfully home.  Some days after he was seen
walking by himself with a pale face, a heavy eye, and slow step—all
tokens of a sorrowful heart.  Soon after, he was missed altogether;
nobody saw him.  The door of his house was however open, and his two
pretty boys were as lively as usual, on the green before the door.  I
happened to pass when they were there, and I asked them how their father
and mother were.  They said they were still in bed, and would not waken,
and the innocent lambs took me by the hand, to make me waken their
parents.  I know not what was in it, but I trembled from head to foot,
and I was led in by the babies, as if I had not the power to resist.
Never shall I forget what I saw in that bed.

                                * * * * *

I found a letter on the table; and I came away, locking the door behind
me, and took the lovely prattling orphans home.  I could but shake my
head and weep, as I gave them to the care of Mrs. Balwhidder, and she was
terrified but said nothing.  I then read the letter.  It was to send the
bairns to a gentleman, their uncle, in London.  Oh! it is a terrible
tale; but the winding-sheet and the earth is over it.  I sent for two of
my elders.  I related what I had seen.  Two coffins were got, and the
bodies laid in them; and the next day, with one of the fatherless bairns
in each hand, I followed them to the grave, which was dug in that part of
the kirkyard where unchristened babies are laid.  We durst not take it
upon us to do more; but few knew the reason, and some thought it was
because the deceased were strangers, and had no regular lair.

I dressed the two bonny orphans in the best mourning at my own cost, and
kept them in the manse till we could get an answer from their uncle, to
whom I sent their father’s letter.  It stung him to the quick, and he
came down all the way from London, and took the children away himself.
Oh! he was a vexed man when the beautiful bairns, on being told he was
their uncle, ran into his arms, and complained that their papa and mamma
had slept so long, that they would never waken.

YEAR 1809

AS I come towards the events of these latter days, I am surprised to find
myself not at all so distinct in my recollection of them as in those of
the first of my ministry; being apt to confound the things of one
occasion with those of another, which Mrs. Balwhidder says is an
admonishment to me to leave off my writing.  But, please God, I will
endeavour to fulfil this as I have through life tried, to the best of my
capacity, to do every other duty; and, with the help of Mrs. Balwhidder,
who has a very clear understanding, I think I may get through my task in
a creditable manner, which is all I aspire after; not writing for a vain
world, but only to testify to posterity anent the great changes that have
happened in my day and generation—a period which all the best-informed
writers say, has not had its match in the history of the world since the
beginning of time.

By the failure of the cotton-mill company, whose affairs were not settled
till the spring of this year, there was great suffering during the
winter; but my people, those that still adhered to the establishment,
bore their share of the dispensation with meekness and patience, nor was
there wanting edifying monuments of resignation even among the

On the day that the Canaille Meeting-house was opened, which was in the
summer, I was smitten to the heart to see the empty seats that were in my
kirk; for all the thoughtless, and some that I had a better opinion of,
went to hear the opening discourse.  Satan that day had power given to
him to buffet me as he did Job of old; and when I looked around and saw
the empty seats, my corruption rose, and I forgot myself in the
remembering prayer; for when I prayed for all denominations of
Christians, and worshippers, and infidels, I could not speak of the
schismatics with patience, but entreated the Lord to do with the
hobleshow at Cayenneville, as he saw meet in his displeasure, the which,
when I came afterwards to think upon, I grieved at with a sore

In the course of the week following, the elders, in a body, came to me in
the manse, and after much commendation of my godly ministry, they said,
that seeing I was now growing old, they thought they could not testify
their respect for me in a better manner than by agreeing to get me a
helper.  But I would not at that time listen to such a proposal, for I
felt no falling off in my powers of preaching; on the contrary, I found
myself growing better at it, as I was enabled to hold forth, in an easy
manner, often a whole half hour longer, than I could do a dozen years
before.  Therefore nothing was done in this year anent my resignation;
but during the winter, Mrs. Balwhidder was often grieved, in the bad
weather, that I should preach, and, in short, so worked upon my
affections, that I began to think it was fitting for me to comply with
the advice of my friends.  Accordingly, in the course of the winter, the
elders began to cast about for a helper; and during the bleak weather in
the ensuing spring, several young men spared me from the necessity of
preaching.  But this relates to the concerns of the next and last year of
my ministry.  So I will now proceed to give an account of it, very
thankful that I have been permitted, in unmolested tranquillity, to bring
my history to such a point.

YEAR 1810

MY tasks are all near a close; and in writing this final record of my
ministry, the very sound of my pen admonishes me that my life is a burden
on the back of flying Time, that he will soon be obliged to lay down in
his great storehouse—the grave.  Old age has, indeed, long warned me to
prepare for rest; and the darkened windows of my sight show that the
night is coming on, while deafness, like a door fast barred, has shut out
all the pleasant sounds of this world, and inclosed me, as it were, in a
prison, even from the voices of my friends.

I have lived longer than the common lot of man, and I have seen, in my
time, many mutations and turnings, and ups and downs, notwithstanding the
great spread that has been in our national prosperity.  I have beheld
them that were flourishing like the green bay-trees, made desolate, and
their branches scattered.  But, in my own estate, I have had a large and
liberal experience of goodness.

At the beginning of my ministry I was reviled and rejected; but my honest
endeavours to prove a faithful shepherd were blessed from on high, and
rewarded with the affection of my flock.  Perhaps, in the vanity of
doting old age, I thought in this there was a merit due to myself, which
made the Lord to send the chastisement of the Canaille schism among my
people; for I was then wroth without judgment, and by my heat hastened
into an open division the flaw that a more considerate manner might have
healed.  But I confess my fault, and submit my cheek to the smiter; and
now I see that the finger of Wisdom was in that probation, and it was far
better that the weavers meddled with the things of God, which they could
not change, than with those of the King, which they could only harm.  In
that matter, however, I was like our gracious monarch in the American
war; for though I thereby lost the pastoral allegiance of a portion of my
people, in like manner as he did of his American subjects, yet, after the
separation, I was enabled so to deport myself, that they showed me many
voluntary testimonies of affectionate respect, and which it would be a
vain glory in me to rehearse here.  One thing I must record, because it
is as much to their honour as it is to mine.

When it was known that I was to preach my last sermon, every one of those
who had been my hearers, and who had seceded to the Canaille meeting,
made it a point that day to be in the parish kirk, and to stand in the
crowd, that made a lane of reverence for me to pass from the kirk-door to
the back-yett of the manse.  And shortly after, a deputation of all their
brethren, with their minister at their head, came to me one morning, and
presented to me a server of silver, in token, as they were pleased to
say, of their esteem for my blameless life, and the charity that I had
practised towards the poor of all sects in the neighbourhood; which is
set forth in a well-penned inscription, written by a weaver lad that
works for his daily bread.  Such a thing would have been a prodigy at the
beginning of my ministry; but the progress of book-learning and education
has been wonderful since, and with it has come a spirit of greater
liberality than the world knew before, bringing men of adverse principles
and doctrines into a more humane communion with each other; showing that
it’s by the mollifying influence of knowledge the time will come to pass,
when the tiger of papistry shall lie down with the lamb of reformation,
and the vultures of prelacy be as harmless as the presbyterian doves;
when the independent, the anabaptist, and every other order and
denomination of Christians, not forgetting even those poor wee wrens of
the Lord, the burghers and anti-burghers, who will pick from the hand of
patronage, and dread no snare.

On the next Sunday, after my farewell discourse, I took the arm of Mrs.
Balwhidder, and with my cane in my hand, walked to our own pew, where I
sat some time; but, owing to my deafness, not being able to hear, I have
not since gone back to the church.  But my people are fond of having
their weans still christened by me, and the young folk, such as are of a
serious turn, come to be married at my hands, believing, as they say,
that there is something good in the blessing of an aged gospel minister.
But even this remnant of my gown I must lay aside; for Mrs. Balwhidder is
now and then obliged to stop me in my prayers, as I sometimes
wander—pronouncing the baptismal blessing upon a bride and bridegroom,
talking as if they were already parents.  I am thankful, however, that I
have been spared with a sound mind to write this book to the end; but it
is my last task, and, indeed, really I have no more to say, saving only
to wish a blessing on all people from on high, where I soon hope to be,
and to meet there all the old and long-departed sheep of my flock,
especially the first and second Mrs. Balwhidders.


{1}  Dreghorn, Ayrshire, two miles from Irvine.

{9}  Irvine, Ayrshire.

{17}  Cognac.

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 - Or, the Chronicle of Dalmailing During the Ministry of the Rev. Micah Balwhidder" ***

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