The Annals of the Parish
John Galt

Part 1 out of 4

Or The Chronicle of Dalmailing during the ministry of the Rev. Micah
Balwhidder. Written by himself and arranged and edited by John Galt


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

"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 glory!"

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

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.


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.

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 {2}
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

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


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 Caesar the things that are Caesar'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, {3} 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 hereafter.

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

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.


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 woeful.

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

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.

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

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.


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 feathers.

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

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.


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

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.

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

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.


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

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.


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 firmament.

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

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 new.

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.


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

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 Monday.

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 session."

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 do.

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.


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

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


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.

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 peace.

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.


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.


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

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 see.


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.

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,


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