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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 145, 28 August 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE DISRUPTION: A TALE OF TRYING TIMES. CHAPTER XII — continued. Mr. Bacon made himself very active in preparing the repast, but it appeared that in dubbing Neddie his cook, he had conferred on him a considerable amount of credit which was due to himself. Neither master nor man, however, thought it necessary to remove any of the books or papers which lay scattered over the table where the tea things were put down. Every article was therefore placed exactly where a convenient opening appeared, and not, as a mere woman would have placed ‘ them. All, therefore, seemed perfectly comfortable in the eyes of Mr. Bacon, and he invited his guest to draw in and partake, with a cordiality that could not be resisted. The student had no great appetite at any rate, and it was not improved by the uncivilised style in which he had seen the repast prepared. He did his best, however, to honour Mr. Bacon’s hospitality and culinary skill, but fervently prayed within himself that his politeness might not in future be subjected to many such trials. The history of our dramatis personas during this period need not be dwelt on minutely, but may be gathered in a general way from the following letters : ROBIN AFLECK TO JEAN BROWN. “ Embro £d Augist 18042 “ deer jean,—it is just a Munth since i rote to you Before but do ye no the reason Ye have nott Answered my last nor sent Mee the scrape of A pen this six Weaks now jean Do ye think this is fare play i have a grate daii to Tel you & i want to hear a grate dail from you aye Supposin that ye are keepin true to Me and no lookin owre your lug At the new plewman i May begin by tellin you about Myselffi am gettin through my lessons With Mr James like fire Ye may be shure jean Professor Dick will glowre When he getts me in His desses i canna tell you the Hawf of what I am learning But it does not signify for ye would Not understand a Word of it then i am picking up some nowlcdge of Horse shoein at the smiddy in the Next dorr for i lend a hand there Whiles when the smith Has a hurry this is a great advantage To me more Ways than Wan for i get sumthing for my wark and it kwalifies Me better for Beginning the horse doctrine Ye will see yourself jean that a man in the vetererinary tredd must be all the better of Noing something aboot feriary i had a notion Sum Weeks since of tryin a different kind of bisiness from either horse-Docrrine or horse shoein but i have Changed my mind again and mean to stick to My first plan it would be owre long a story to tell you what I was after and hoo i fell threw The skaim but it maiks noe difference at any rate all i will say about it is that if i had Not changed my mind i W'ould have supprised Mr jimes and you both Perhaps for i noe ye Both think there is not Much in mee just Because ye dont noe What I could do But i noe the contrar for I Have had my head measured and xamined & i can tell you that it is Not a kommon heed in no Respect but 1 will say no More on this Subject as for Mr Jimes he is fechtin a Hard battel to Keep himselff on his Own pock ncuk he did not cum to terms With the grate gentleman i spoke Of when I wrote last but your nebbor Stiffriggs i Think is to blame he Cam and raised a noise Against the gentleman bekause he had a droll Shapit hat and Was a minister of the inglish kirk So Mr jimes had some dispute with him and he did nott gett His callant to teatch but He has got another gob With yin they call Mr dirty bacon Or dirty Mr bacon the man is a gude dail mair than hauf daft & Mr jimes has a poor Time of it With him he keeps house By himselff & will not let any woman darken his door But maybe liee is not so Daft in that but He has to taik grate Care for all the women in embro Are in love With him and soe would ye jean if ye just saw him Mr jimes has to slave for him to all hours of the night and sometimes till the Morning is far in but he bears it manfuly rather than be behadden to anybody i am sure if His auntie New what he has to Suffer and how much good a littel help Would do him at this time i am sure she would not let him want but shes door door and he is prood speeritit there is a minister boddie they call Mr. Aspen has been here a wee since speerin a heap of qwestions at me about him and the episcopauhan and Maybe has sum thoughts of growin yin Himself bnt jimes i ken will never doo that for he canna bide the inglish Way of preatching But for my pairt i sea "noe difference cep that the inglishers preach Wi a sark abune their claes and Tho that is a Daft like fashion its no Worth kvvarrelling about now jean i want you to nte shoon and tell me all obout miss miggumerie for mr jimes keeps his thoom on all she writes to him i noe naething about her cep that she is back to her fathers house and manadges sumhoo or other to get ryting to mr jimes the dooble oftener than ye ryte to Me mr jimes is a kweer Being with his luve Letters for he grows as red in the face when i speak Aboot them or say a Word about miss miggummerie as he had been Cacht steelin i often try to get a peep of what shee rites to him and what he rites to her but its clean unpossible i might as shoon try to get a sight of his lights and liver i am sure jean if ye Were a wee better At the spelin I would not Kair hoo saw the letters ye ryte to Mee your Spelling is much in need of mending but never Mind ye must just ryte the oftener and be Shure to let me noe all about miss miggumerie and mr makwurkie and mrs renshaw but abune All jean tell me if doctor Snapperdudgeon is at Home for i have particler Raizons for wishing to noe “ i am jean aye the auld saxpence your ain “Robert Afleck. JEAN BROWN TO ROBIN A ELECT. “Whinnyside oxth Augist 81402 “ deer Robbin if ye kent hoo Mutch i have to Doo yo would note grumbel at mes for ryting so Seldom ye noe the mistress gangs aye Daft about the berry time ofyeer and she has gart me maik more jamb and geely than she can find room for in Her presses & i have had this to doo forbye all my ornar Wars &
ye ken thats No little the jamb Maikin is hardly bye yet and the sheering is begun so i have still plenty to doo i Have to taik my shair of that two & to maik meat for All the sheerars noo Robbin what think yee of that ye canna xpec me to rite ofen unless ye think i have mair than 2 hands and ox fingers i am x'yting to you ye Ongrateful gommeral when i should be reddin Up my hair and maikin myself Snod mr Calmsough gctt Matters Maid up between miss miggumrie & Her faither and she has Been at home this Munth past but mair At liberty than shee was Before for auld soorocks has lost Her poor in the house Since the night i gott Her oot to the spaewifes hoo Shee is manadging T o please the auld Man i canna say" but i hear He is verry frail and growin Wilder about the kirk the frailer He grows as for mr makwurkie he has not been seen or Hard tel of hearabout since he Was soe nicely cheelit with Me for Miss Miggumerie doctor Snaperdugonisathame ae day And away the Next they say he is raizin a plea Against the laird for Sumthing they cal the teens i dinna ken Exactly what it is is but i Understand the short and the lang of it is he Wants more siller at Ony rate he is constantly fleein About with lawyers and pitten Sir John Maist dementit so i think robbin He has his Hands owre foo to fash ony mair about you and The tup stirnperton of stiffrigs Maid an erran Here after hee Cam back from Embro & Hee has been offen hear Since syne he bleezes Away about Mr. jimes like whins on fire There is not a young man in the kuntry like him Stiffriggs Says and that he is just as sure of hangin as ever jimes Ren wick was if the auld persecuting times cum Back he says he has been Tempit by sautan in embro in the shaip of a papist preest or a a bishop or sum wild dyvor of that kind to leeve his ain kirk & grow a roman or sumthing Waur is this true Robbin & was Hee the yin ye kalled an Auld gentleman With a droll Hat fun is fun robbin & i like it as weel As ony body but that is noe fun Stiffriggs has Been trying hard to Get the mistress to draw her purse for Mr jimes again but as ye Say yourselff shes door door she will never own shee Was wrang in her Disputes with mr jimes i daursay shee wood cum in a Bit and help Him threw yet with his learnin ifshe had not begun to think Shee may need all the geer she has for herselff but i see she has taiken this Notion in her heed and it will not be eezy to get her to give it Up it is my Beleef that wee mak Wurkie has putten Her fairly in the kee of Having a man for since ever she got the disappintment with him she Has been settin her kep to Katch sum other boddie & i wood Note be grately surprised to See stiffrigs and her draw up for as i said Before he cums Hear offen & though as far As i can see hedisna cum Mutch spead in speakin for mr jimes i am sure hee Could win far enuch been himselff if he Can in the coortin way but He is either dull in the uptak Or he Disna want her for Hee never says a Word about Himselff for all the hints Shee gives him his Constant sang is jimes Duncanson jimes Duncanson & i can see shee is Verry tired off it Last night stiffrigs was hear and Bleezin aw T ay as usual About mr Jimes but she cut him short at ance by sayin it may be a true enuch mr stirnperton but ye shood Mind am lust the lads auntie and no His grannie stiffrigs didna seem to ken what to maik of This hint but i Understood it brawly but the greatest News i have to tel you Robbin is that ye may xpec to see the mistress & maybe.me in embro before long for She has seen in the Chronicle that the Kween is to be their shoon and she is Mad to see her she speaks of Maikin a jawer of guse Berrie jam to her for she says its no possible She can ever have preed ought of the k'nd in silch an out of the Worl place As ingland the deer meel Cart is to be all new pentit and sortit in every Way to tak her in & i Understand she has ritten Already to Mr jimeses auld Landlady mistress Maclunch & girn or Maclunchagain to keep a bed for her her plan is to tak john Rumplebane the new plewman with her to drive the kart & leeve me at hame But i have a far better plan and ithink she may maybe cum intilt i can Drive the kart as weel as john or you either robbin and be taking me and leeving john at hame she will save the price of a bed for i cood sleep with Her as i have ofen dune Before then i could be for Mair use to her in the town than john could Be and may be sum of the stiffrigg lasses may look Alter the kye at whinnyside for the twa or three days i would be away this is my plan but i Have not proposed it yet for i must taik a gude opportunity or it wood Never be hearkint to its no to see the Kween that am so keen To get to embro for if she dinna cum with the Crown on and a her jewels i wood not give a preen to see Her & i heer she is to came like ony other lady but i want to See you robbin and especially Mr. Dirty bacon for after What ye have said about him am just Out o the boddie to Sea the monster ye Say he will let no woman darken his Dorr but if i get to embro ill see Every korner of his hous and himselff to the Bargane or my name is no Jean Brown deer robbin i am yet for al your fauts your ain “ Jean Brown.”
CHAPTER XIII. Auld Scotia’s lamj tongue shouts wi' loud trumpet din, Gae open your palace yetts, let your Queen in. BALLAN’TVNK. The office of secretary to Horace Wykin Bacon, Esq., was anything but a sinecure. It entailed on Mr. Duncanson not only a considerable amount of labor, but subjected him to many annoyances which he would not have submitted to had his circumstances been less necessitous. He was compelled much against his own inclination to keep late and irregular hours, and to listen to Mr. Bacon’s frothy declamations and Quixotic dissertations till his patience was often on the point of giving way. Worst of all, he was under the necessity of being a frequent partaker, not of meals (for no regular meals were prepared in Mr. Bacon’s house), but of strange heterogeneous messes, cooked extemporaneously, like the refreshment described in the last chapter. Many of these would have turned Mr Duncanson’s stomach or given him the jaundice, had he not been generally pretty well prepared for them by long fasting. His digestive powers were also considerably aided by the amusement he enjoyed from the laughable expedients of bachelor house-keeping continually pre-
sented to his observation; for it is a remarkable fact that ideas stimulative of merriment are also highly stomachic in their effect. It was something, too, to have such opportunities of studying a phase of human life of which before he had not the most distant conception ; but the overruling motive he had to continue in Mr. Bacon’s service was necessity. To this irresistible power the student submitted with as much philosophy as he could muster, and patiently toiled through many weary weeks at tasks equally absurd and laborious.
The news of the Queen’s visit to Scotland was beginning to produce excitement in many a place besides Whinnyside. One day about that time when Mr. Duncanson went as usual to No. 10 Crescent, he found the illustrious Mr. Bacon still in bed, but sitting up smoking, and just in the act of cutting the pages of a double Times with his razor. A prominent paragraph, headed “ Preparations for the Queen’s Visit to Scotland,” caught his eye, and he had no sooner perused it than he jumped out of bed and began to pace the room, undressed as he was, and in a state of high excitement. When he gave vent to his ideas, it was in disjointed expressions and more in the form of a soliloquy than remarks intended for another’s ear. “She’s coming, then,” he said, after puffing out a cloud and following it upwards with his eye, instead of looking towards his secretary, of whose presence, he in fact seemed scarcely conscious. “ She is coming then ! There can be no doubt of it now. The journalists so often set roumors afloat, just to contradict them next day, that I gave the report no credence at first, but the fact is now beyond dispute. Important—most important! Let me see—how must I act on the occasion ? ”
“Is the Queen really coming to Scotland at this time ? ” inquired Mr. Duncanson, rousing the great man from the transient reverie into which he had fallen.
“ Coming to Scotland ? Yes,” replied Mr. Bacon, and putting the paper into his hand continued—“there, you see a ciicumstantial account of the preparations for her voyage ; she is coming unquestionably. I must commence immediately to make my preparations too for the occasion, otherwise I may miss such an opportunity as may never again occur.” “ Then you intend to see her Majesty?” “Yes, and speak with her too. The fact is, though you may imagine that I am altogether engrossed with literature, science, and philosophical speculations, you must know that I have paid great attention also to politics, and have only been waiting for a fitting opportunity of laying my views before the Sovereign. I cannot feel justified in allowing her to be surrounded by quacks, knaves, and numbskulls, without making an effort to give her a proper view of public affairs, and I shall do my duty before she be long on Scottish ground.” “ But I rather think, sir, it will be considered out of etiquette to attempt to draw her attention to any kind of business, however important, while she may probably be travelling only for recreation.”
“ True, true, Mr. Duncanson; a very just remark ; besides the Queen is but a woman, and I daresay might not comprehend my views. A stupid principle in our constitution, that of female succession The Salique law is the law of nature and common sense. No woman ought to be put in authority. The thing is absurd. But no matter; since it is the law, it must be submitted to. Still, this visit may be turned to account. 1 see my way now. Her Ministers ay, that’s it. Peel comes with her, so does Aberdeen, and perhaps Sir James Graham. But no matter. The Premier and Foreign Minister will do. I will cram them with as much as they can well carry away. They cannot plead etiquette. No, no; that plea won’t serve them. Besides, they must be thankful to receive some light, for they are sadly astray, and just getting the longer the deeper in the mud.” “ They may be far enough astray, and yet not willing to take advice, particularly when out of their ordinary official routine.”
“ Quite a mistake, sir ; quite a mistake. They cannot come to the country of Fletcher of Saltoun, Duncan Forbes, David Hume, and Adam Smith, without both expecting and desiring to have some new light. Peel knows well enough that he is but the conduit pipe for carrying forward the ideas of other men. He has no originalty of mind nothing, indeed, but practical dexterity, and he can only act successfully when he happens to be well prompted. Lord Aberdeen is even of less calibre. He must be told not only what to do, but how to do it. Well, I must see them both ; I must lay aside all my other avocations for this purpose, or I shall be guilty of a dereliction of duty to the country. Then I must proceed in such a way as to command attention. It will, no doubt,, be either in Holyrood or Dalkeith that I shall have an audience of Ministers, and I must have you along with me as my secretary, and Neddy also, as my page. And then you must be in court dresses. As for myself, it will be most dignified for me to go just like myself. A philosopher, you know, is a privileged person all the world over.”
Mr. Duncanson began to feel uneasy at the prospect of being obliged to exhibit himself in such a ludicrous situation, and hinted that his semi-clerical character would be an obstacle in the way. “ True, true, sir—l did not think of that. You could scarcely appear in proper costume as my diplomatic attache seeing your views are towards the Geneva bands and gown. Besides, you might feel awkwardly situated were you in attendance when I open up to Sir Robert my scheme of settling the affairs of the Church of Scotland.”
“ Then you have some scheme on this subject to propose? ” “Undoubtedly. You see what a mess ecclesiastic matters are getting into in this country. It is high time for me to step forward and show what ought to be done.” “Which of the sides in this controversy, may I ask, do you favour ? ” “Neither of them, sir; neither of them. I will recommend Peel to put down both, and set up a mild Episcopacy. There can be no rest till that be done.”
“ But how do you think it could be carried into effect.”
“ Nothing easier, sir, if the right mode be taken. I would restore the Scottish Prelacy in all its ancient splendour. I would give Bishoprics about, as far as they would go, to leaders of the Church on both sides ; that’s the way to quiet them ; and Dr. Chalmers I would make Archbishop of St. Andrews, Lord Primate of Scotland.” “ And do you suppose that Dr. Chalmers would accept such an office ? ”
“Take it! yes to be sure. Bless your soul, sir, I would take it myself! Nothing has kept me out of holy orders but the existence of the Presbyterian Establishment, which an ugly excrescence in itself, and stands in the way of a better system. There must be no temporising with it, but a root-and-branch reform, A mild Episcopacy is my cure, and I have shown you how it may be brought about with the greatest facility. So long as Presbyterianism is allowed to exist, it will foster contention in the land, for it encourages presumption both in clergy and laity, and provides no adequate authority to maintain order. It makes every man who has a head on his shoulders suppose that he has brains in it to think for himself. Now this is an intolerable nuisance and must be put down ; but I would not" wish to hurt your feelings, or compromise your consistency by requiring you to attend on me while I lay my ecclesiastical project before the Premier. Still, if you can’t go, I must have some one in your place .to hand me my papers and documents of reference as I require them, for I shrll have my portfolio with me, after the manner of French diplomatists. Do you know any one who could be got to act on the occasion as your substitute, Mr. Duncanson ? All I require is a man who can give me the papers I may ask for, and hold his tongue where it would be out of place for him to speak. To be sure he must be respectable-lcoking, and act precisely as I direct him. Do you know any young man Avho would suit ? ” Mr. Duncanson hesitated for some time, and at length ventured to name Robin Afleck, He had some confidence that Robin would relish the service for the sake of the fun it would afford him, and that he would acquit himself perfectly well in the part of Sancho to such a Quixote. “ Well, well, sir; try to have Mr. Afleck with you- when you come here to-morrow. If I think he will fit my purpose, I shall provide a suitable dress for the occasion—perhaps a peagreen coat, Spanish cloak and saffroncolored small clothes. He must have a sword, too, and a cocked-hat exactly like the the Provost’s. Neddie must be in a similar costume, and, attended in this style, but just in my own plain attire, I shall at once obtain an audience of Ministers, and make an impression on them at first sight. You must be sure, then, to bring Mr. Afleck with you to-morrow. ■
(To be continued—commenced on July 26 )
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 145, 28 August 1880
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