SCOTTISH LIFE AND CHARACTER. * IF we of the present age
are casting off the trappings of the past more rapidly than ever was done before, we are not less remark- able for the care we bestow on preserving or reviving the memory of that which we have left behind us. If we are approximating not less willingly than inevitably to a uniformity abhorred by artists and dreaded by Mr. James Stuart Mill, we yet look back with fond regard on every vanished feature of times less smooth and conventional than our own. Every man is now at heart more or less an antiquarian, but among Scotchmen especially this i
feeling prevails most intensely, and it is among them also that the last fifty years have effected the most marked changes, and extinguished the greatest amount of national and individual peculiarities. Such are the circumstances to which the world is indebted for the Dean of Edinburgh's excellent little volume of " Reminiscences." It had reached a third edition before we were aware of its existence, and it will probably be as new, and as welcome, to most readers south of the Tweed as it is to ourselves. The author disclaims all intention of touching upon changes effected in literature or philosophy, in laws, commerce, manufactures, or in the deeper phases of Scot- tish national character ; the changes and transitions which he treats of lie rather on the surface of social life, and are such as were likely to pass without a record of their progress or of the state in which things had been before them. Dean Ramsay is a Seotehman to the backbone, proud by nature of his Scotch na- tionality, and strengthened in that pride by the fact that "he never in his life knew an English or Irish family with Scottish relations, where the members did not refer with much com- placency to such national connection." Every relic of old Scottish manners, Scottish phraseology, and Scottish humour is as precious to him as the fading inscriptions on the grave-stones of the Covenanters were in the eyes of Old Mortality. It is a sore grief to him that he is constantly hearing of the death of some person who, it is said, was possessed of a rich store of original Scottish anecdotes, which have not been recorded ; and partly to repair this loss so far as his own resources extend, and partly to incite others to save so much of the past as yet survives in the memory of the present generation, he has written the book before us. With all his fondness for the past, the Dean is no querulous
laudator temporis acti." In his first chapter, " On religious feelings and religious observances," he speaks with warm appro- bation of some changes wrought among his countrymen within his own recollection. To be a good drinker is no longer deemed requisite to the maintenance of a manly character, nor is swearing now considered an essential embellishment of genteel discourse. The Dean notices " a gradual softening and relaxation of the stern rigours of the Calvinistic school of theology," and says that the upper classes, the men especially, are better churchgoers than they were in the times of which Monkbarns was a type, or when Sydney Smith lived in Edinburgh. Monkbarns was with diffi- culty hounded out" to hear the sermons of good Mr. Blatter- gowl, and Sydney Smith, seeing how almost exclusively congre- gations were made up of ladies, preached in Edinburgh from the text, " Oh that men would therefore praise the Lord" ; and with that touch of the facetious which marked everything he did, he laid the emphasis on the word " men." But though the upper classes have become more exact in the outward observances of religion, the poorer inhabitants of crowded cities, wynds, and closes, are still with great difficulty to be induced to enter a church. A lady asked a poor woman living in the West Port if she ever went to the church in the neighbourhood—Dr. Chalmers's —" Ou ay- " she replied; " there's a man ca'd Chalmers preaches there, and whiles gang in and hear him, just to encourage him, puir body."
Anecdotes, original or selected, form the bulk of Dean Ram- say's book, and we cannot better complete our report of its contents than by subjoining some of its choice illustrations of manners and, usages which are fast becoming obsolete.
SERVANTS IN THE OLDEN TIME.
The charge these old domestics used to take of the interests of the family, and the cool way in which they took upon them to protect those interests, sometimes led to very provoking, and sometimes to very ludicrous exhi- bitions of importance. A. friend told me of a dinner scene illustrative of this sort of interference which had happened at Airth in the last generation. Mrs. Murray of Abercairney had been amongst the guests, and at dinner one of the family noticed that she was looking for the proper spoon to help herself with salt. The old servant, Thomas, was appealed to, that the want might be supplied. He did not notice the appeal. It was repeated in a more peremptory manner, "Thomas, Mrs. Murray has not a salt spoon," to which he replied most emphatically, "Last time Mrs. Murray dined here, we lost a salt spoon." I have heard of an old Yorfarshire lady who, knowing the habits of her old and spoilt servant, when she wished a note to be taken without loss of time, held it open and read it over to him, saying, "There noo, Andrew, ye ken a' that's in't ; noo dinna stop to open it, but just send itaff." Of another servant when sorely tried by an unaccustomed bustle and hurry, a very amusing anecdote has been recorded. His mistress, a woman of high rank, who had been living in much quiet and retirement for some time, was called upon to entertain a large party at dinner. She con-
• Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character, ByE. B. Ramsay, M.A., F.R.S.E., Dean of Edinburgh. Third edition, much enlarged.
stilted with Nichol, her faithful servant, and all the arrangements were made for the great event. As the company were arriving, the lady saw Nichol running about in great agitation, and in his shirt sleeves. She re- monstrated, and said that as the guests were coining in he must put on his coat. "Indeed, my lady," was his excited reply, " indeed, there's sac muckle rinning here qnd rinning there, that I'm just distrackit. I has cast'n my coat and waistcoat, and faith I dinna ken how lang I can thole [bear] my breeks." There was a waggish old man-cook at Duntrune for sixty years, and during three generations of its owners. In 1795, when his master was skulking, John found it necessary. to take another service, and hired him- self to Mr. Wedderburn of rearm; but he wearied to get back to Dun- trune. One day the Laird of Pearsie observed him putting a spit through a peat (it may have been for the purpose of cleaning it), be that as it may, the Laird inquired the reason for so doing, and John replied, "Indeed, sir, I am just going to roast a peat, for fear I forget my trade." At the end of two years he returned to Duntrune, where he continued to exercise his call- ing till near the close of life.
SENSELESSLY CEEVIL. •
A case has been reported of a country girl who thought it possible there might be an excess in such scrupulous regard to appearances. On her marriage-day the youth to whom she was about to be united said to her in a triumphant tone, " Wed, Jenny, haven't I been mice ceevil," alluding to the fact that during their whole courtship he had never even given her a kiss. Her quiet reply was, " Ou, aye, man, senselessly eeevil.' MRs. HELEN CAMELOT OF CRAIGO.
Mrs. Helen Carnegy of Craigo was a thorough specimen of this class of old Scottish ladies. She lived in Montrose, and died in 1818, at the ad- vanced age of ninety-one. She was a Jacobite, and very aristocratic in her feelings, but on social terms with many burghers of Montrose, or Munross, as it was called. She preserved a nice distinction of addresses, suited to different individuals in the town, according as she placed them in the scale of her consideration. She liked a party at quadrille, and sent out her ser- vant every morning to invite the ladies required to make up the game, and her directions were graduated thus—" Nelly, you'll gang to Lady Carnegy's, and mak my compliments, and ask the honour of her ladyship's company, and that of the Miss Camegies, to tea this evening; and if they canna come, ging to the Miss Mudies, and ask the pleasure of their comtpany ; and if they canna come, you may ging to Miss Hunter, and ask thefavour of her com- pany ; and if she canna come, ging to Lucky Spark and id her mite."
She hated paying taxes, and always pretended to misunderstand their nature. One day receiving notice of such payment signed by the provost (Thom), she broke out : " I dinna understand thee taxes ; but I just think when Mrs. Thom wants a new gown, the provost sends me a tax paper !"
There lived in Arbroath a very remarkable old woman named Meg Mat- thew, a generous, noble, and disinterested character, and her conduct to the friendless and the orphans should be recorded. She had been a servant to Mr. Cruickshank, the minister of Kinnel. The minister and his wife both died during her service, and left three children totally unprovided. Upon which Meg engaged an attic room in the Market-gate of Arbroath, and car- ried the two boys and the little girl with her, where she span to maintain them, and she begged from those whom she thought could afford it, their schooling and clothing. She did not ask like a mendicant, but said she must have such and such things for her bairns; and when the boys were to be fitted out, she would call at various places, and tell the lady of the house that she must have linen, and that the young ladies must set to work and make so many shirts for Jamie or Willy.
Situations were procured for the boys ; one went to the West Indies, the other to Montreal, where he, married and had a family, whom he left in good circumstances.
In the course of years the other returned with a competency, and died in Arbroath.
Meg herself accompanied the boys to London to witness their departure, and she saw the king (George III.), whom she described as being "lust like any ither husbandman wi' a stand o' blue dam" Betsy Cruickshank obtained a ladies-maid's place in Hopetoun House, where she remained till her marriage with Mr. Haldane, a stocking manu-
facturer in Haddington. He left her a widow in comfort, she was much respected, and died in a good old age. Meg was the theme of many con- versations between the young ladies of Hopetoun and their attendant. Her name and fame were even well known among the servants.
One day a housemaid ran into the room calling out, "Miss Cruikshank, if your Meg be in the body, she is now coming up the road." It was Meg herself, arrived on foot from Arbroath; and rapturously she was welcomed by the whole family. She would remain only a short time, declining all favours for herself; and when they offered to show her through the house, she replied, "Na, na, I'm no gaen to big the marrow of it."
She returned home to her spinning-wheel in her solitary little room, and from her homely wrinkled face and rather unsocial manner, she was looked upon by coarse-minded people in the light of a witch, or one that was in compact with the Devil. Her dress was a short gown over a woollen petticoat, a striped wincey apron, and a close white match with a black hood over it. She span a coarse yarn from the waist with both hands. I re- member her in her last illness, her death, and seeing her laid in her coffin ; and now, looking through the long vista of the present century, and far down into the past, I venerate the singularly beautiful character of that dear old woman and noble Scottish heart.
HOW TO MAKE MONDAY LUCKY., There lived in Gayfield Sguare two charming old maiden ladies—Mrs. Mary Smith and Miss Peggy Fyffe. They had a pet superstition, for which they paid, between them, threepence a week to a street-porter, that he
might be the first to tell them it was Monday, deeming it unlucky to hear the day first mentioned by a woman. They laid each three-halfpence on the hall-table on Sunday night, and early next morning the man called to wish them a happy Monday, and pick up his reward. Once when Miss Fyffe was confined to bed, her attendant inquired what she would like for dinner, for it was Monday, and there would be no fish to be got. " Wae worth you," Miss Fyffe exclaimed, "do ye no ken that I pay a man to tell me it Mon- day?" When Miss Fyffe died, Mrs. Smith refused to pay any more than her weekly dole of three-halfpence. Miss Douglas, of Bngton, being present, the maid whispered, "Never mind, I'll just pay it out of the house- money !" When Miss Douglas returned home, she related this strange su- perstition to a party of friends, who enjoyed it as a joke ; but her sister, Mrs. Hunter, looked rather serious, saying, " Well, I am not the least super- stitious, but I do not like to be told by a woman it is Monday !"
.Mr. Miller of Ballumbie had occasion to find fault with one of his la-
bourers who had been improvident and known better days. He was digging a drain, and he told him if he did not make better work he should turn him off. The man was very angry, and throwing down his spade, called out in a tone of resentment. " Ye are ower pridefu', Davie Miller ; since I mind ye i' the warld when ye had neither cow nor ewe." " Very well," replied Miller, mildly, "I remember you when you had both." LORD poucEmairr's nirmisoorrons.
The expressions he used to describe his own judicial preparations for the bench were very characteristic. "Ye see I first read a the pleadin's, and then, after lettin' them wamble in my wame wi' the toddy twa or three days, I gin my sin interlocutor."