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THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 164, 12 October 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
THE DISRUPTION A TALE OF TRYING TIMES.
CHAPTER XXlX— continued.
During the whole night Mr. Bacon, Robin, and Neddie worked hard, packing up all sorts of portable articles, books, manuscripts, musical and philosophical instruments, clothes, dishes, and even many of the smaller articles of household furniture—such as fireirons, bellows and cooking utensils—for the bachelor thought it thrifty to keep only one set of such things, and ■Carried them with him in all his migrations. At an early hour in the morning, Mr. Bacon, with his attendants and entire travelling equippage, reached the pier of Leith, and embarked for the north. When passing out of the harbor, he stood on the steamboat quarterdeck, and surveying with a mournful look the distant spires of Edinburgh, which were gleaming under a bright autumnal sunrise, he thus addressed his rustic companion—‘Look yonder, Mr. Afleck, how glorious and secure the city appears ! There is not a cloud over it to denote coming danger. And yet I tell you there is danger at hand—imminent danger. The public buildings, you see, may not be razed to the ground, but the institutions they are connected with must come down. And whose fault is it? Not mine certainly ! My conscience clears me of that, I have done all I could —at least all I have been permitted to do—to save the country; but you know how I have been treated. The Church of Scotland, which bristles the city yonder with her steeples like a hedgehog, is in the throes of death, and will soon become a putrid carcase crawling with loathsome disease. Mark my words, Mr. Afleck. She will die of this Nonintrusion mania. She is frantic, and gnawing her own vitals. The vice of democracy in her constitution is killing her, and it would be little matter if the mischief could stop there. But it can’t. The thing is impossible. She will involve the whole body politic in her ruin. Revolution and anarchy must ensue. No social order can exist after the common herd of mankind—the immense masses who have only hands and stomachs —begin to act for themselves, as if they had brains to think with.’ ‘ And what div ye think the common folks’ skulls are filled wi’, if it’s no wi’ brains ? ’ ‘Nothing, sir, nothing. They ere empty —quite empty —or are just filled with a stuff incapable of thought.’ “ To be shure, there’s but few o’ them crackit, so it’s no easy to see a sample o’ their stuffin’ as lang as the life’s in. But if they -were a’thegither toom, as ye seem to think, I dinna see that they could do muckle mischief.’ “It's not to be thought, Mr. Afleck, that you can be a judge in the case. You must allow me to say you are one of the canaille yourself, and must naturally have a bias in your judgment.’ “ Weel, aweel, maybe., I’m glad ye think I ha’e ony judgment ava —biast or biast. But here’s what puzzles me, Mr. Bacon —ye miaca’ the Kirk o’ Scotland up hill and doon brae, and ye ken what ye said to the Queen and Sir Robert Peel anent it. Noo, sir, if it’s this black and that black, ye should -shurely be glad to think it’s gaun a’ to pigs and whussles.’ “So I am, since the remedy I was ready to apply has been rejected. But had my voice been hearkened to, the church might have been saved, and converted from a public nuisance into an engine of incalculabe power for good. By the slight change of giving it an Episcopal constitution, its fiery spirits might have been tamed, and its ambitious men gratified. That troublesome little fellow, Candlish might have been made peaceable enough by adding a bishop’s mitre to his stature; Dr. Chalmers might have been smoothed down with apostolic unction from the hands of a true successor of the Apostles; and the bully Cunningham might have been taught to speak softly and reverently of the dignitaries by making him one himself. Yes, Mr. Afleck, the problem that baffled King Charles and Laud, and the last James and Lauderdale, I could have solved had I been permitted. I could have tamed the wildness of the Presbyterian monster, and made it a docile draught-animal in the car of state. But I have been prevented by the insolence of office, and particularly by the fatuous stupidity of Sir Robert Peel. On his head then be the blame; I wash my hands of it.”
“If I was you, Mr. Bacon, I wad put everything richt at A uchterbardie, and let Sir Robert Peel and the Kirk o’ Scotland fecht doug fecht bane.” This broad hint sobered the philosopher, and made him dull and taciturn for the rest of the voyage. He sat in
moody silence, chewing the bitter cud of his reflections, while Robin and Neddie gave the contents of their stomachs to the fishes of St. Andrew’s Bay, They landed in the course of the day at one of the northern seaports, and pursued their journey inland to Auchterbardie. The country they traversed was so bleak and barren, that Robin Afleck began to doubt if the land of promise he had pictured to himself and Jean Brown would' be found flowing with milk and honey after all. But by-and-by they reached a more inviting district. The dreary tracks of moorland gave place to wooded knolls and cultivated hollows, in which the land seemed tolerably rich. On many fields crops were still
standing, and displayed an appearance ’ that gratified Robin’s practised eye exceedingly. But the villages were few, ' The farm houses widely scattered, and . the labourers’ cottages of the meanest - description. Here and there was seen a church of toy-like smallness, and - generally in bad repair. The ruins of ancient castles were pretty numerous, and a chance old turretted mansion, ’still in a habitable state, now and then came into view. One of these was •seen far to the westward, as the sun was near setting. Pointing towards it, Mr, Bacon said—“ Yonder is Auchterbardie,” and Neddie was sent forward to announce the Laird's approach to " his land-steward or grieve, Mr. Roderick
M'Corkle. The man in fact had constituted himself a kind of general agent or factotum to Mr, Bacon in all matters connected with Auchterbardie. He had been born on the estate a few years
before Mr. Bacon himself, and had contrived to gentleman, in spite of all his ‘high aspirings and visionary greatness, in a kind of perpetual minority. He was a fiery, presuming little cockatrice of a person, and maintained a disasterous ascendency over his master by sheer imprudence. He was, in fact, the master, and Mr. Bacon only a sort of unavoidable incumbrance, in whose name all the business of the property had to be managed, but whose will was seldom if ever consulted. Mr, Bacon even stood in considerable awe of him, and never willingly ventured to incur his displeasure. The poor factor-ridden gentleman, .therefore, expressed spine regret that he had not, on this 'occasion given Mr. M‘Corkle earlier notice of his coming, that he might have had matters prepared to receive him. Robin Afleck, however, would by no means admit that the omission was to be regretted.- On the contrary, he-main-tained that it was highly proper, and that it might be greatly advantageous for Mr. Bacon to visit his property without giving previous warning, that he might be able to judge how it was managed in his absence. This point continued under discussion till they reached the Auchterbardie property, and here Robin had all his eyes about him to observe, as well as the fading light would permit him, the state of fences and the general style of cultivation. Everything appeared in the most wretched condition, and Robin was loud and unsparing in his condemnations of the slovenly management that was on all sides evident. When they reached the gates they found the porter’s lodge without either roof or tenant. The main gate hung wide open, and one of the pillars was prostrate and in pieces. The park wall was in.ruins, and in many places could only be traced in a heap of nettle-covered rubbish; the lawn itself had become a jungle of brambles; and the avenue, which was neither wide nor long, but had once been shaded with stately elms and trimly gravelled was now green with a wilderness of weeds, and encumbered with blown-down trees, rotting where they fell. The state in which the house was found may be gathered from the following letter from-. Robin ; Afleck to Jean Brown"; — “Auchterbardie 7th September 81402 “ Deer jeen,—you will be supprized to noe that i am Hear but if ye kent All thatt i Have suffered Since you left embro ye wood be supprized Att knowthing and Thankfool that i am in The land of the leaving after We partit I gaed daunderin Hame singing til mysel ‘ Off aw the ants the win can blaw’ (for ye sea jeen yere Aye uppermost in my Mind when i hae knowthing Else til Fash me) Weel just before i got intil my ludgings Saunders drouthythrapple stoppit me and . .
. . . . but the steem bott Was a dour theef and snoovt awa and snoovt awa tho the water was jaupin Up till the Lum tap soe At last and length we cam Ashore at a touh red with tiled houses and gott to Our feet on dry laun again But sitch laun As ye never clappit your gleg.Twa een On i can compart to knowthing but jist what it is a Muir battering thick wi quarries and noe a bush Ont bigger than, a broom cowe but the gruri aye grew Better the farer We gaed till wee Cara to Auchterbardie and here its jist as gude grun as Ever a modiwart bort a hole in but jeen of all the places yee Ever saw am Sure ye wad give this The gree for a sluggarts den Mr bacons ain person is noe Hawf soe ill guided as this fine Bit of property and his House in embro dirty as it is is Like dalkeith pallace compart with the,house he has . here when we had managed to sprauchle through the Weeds and rotten timmer in the Avenue and got up till the door of the house (a house big enough for a kirk but not a hale Window in it all) wee were met on the mooly stairs by Mr makorkale He is a Wee man with a red Face and the een of a Wulcat the Gallant Neddie had gotten him drinking In the only room in, the house that can be leavt in Alang with a Minister body something of Doctor Snapperdudgeons kind and When he heard that mr Bacon Was coming he stormt and swore jist the same as if he Was the Maister poor mr Bacon the man then When he Met us He 'maist provokit Me at tbe first Word to dust His coat till him he curlt his Brows at mee and asked mr Bacon what he had brocht Me for and rar Bacon the cuif hardly durst own me for a Freen it was lang before we got onything either to eat or drink and then wee got jist the tail of the Factors feast its my opinion jeen mr. Bacon Has been Driven daft or at least been keept from Being like ither folk by This etlercap of a Boddy for I see he has not a word to say In his ain House but 111 .hole out makorkle before I be moriy. days aulder or yee may say am noe Better than a cuif mysel i wad tak him by the nose at yince if i could get 'mr Bacon to back me but he Cannot bee perswaded to Risk a rippet With him soe i Must .wait till Mr Duncason comes and i think i May drive my pint Then Jimes is to be here as shoon As he can steer and i think hell, be Shure to help me in this gob for though he aye gloomt When there was Onything funny to be dune with mr Bacon he canna but Wish to get him rightit When he sees him Impost on noo jeen ye think i am Scant of rumlegumption wi nac mair sense than a hen could baud in its steekit nieve but yell surely Alloo im right in this Business dont think Mind ye that its , only, for mysel that im working To ;be shure if i Could get makorkle awa from auchterbardie his place wad fit me fine for he has a snug twa story hous for Himsel no abune a gun shot from the big hous and An income gude Eneuch to keep it Het and fou All the year round but i Could mak it a gude Change for mr Bacon as weel as for Mysel he needs Knowthing but the like of me for his factor and you jeen for His factors wife between Us i think we could mak auchterbardie a different place And mr Bacon a different kind of Man and Noo jeen fare ye weel yeel hear from me again When onything comes Out of my prospects the nip i got from you at Habbies how ye ken yersel What for is aye blue yet and i wish it was just to get again Im Maybe noe just sae douce as i should be but ye ken jeen ye must just put up with Me since im your Ain faithfool ‘Robin Afjleck.’
The happy thoughts he had thus so imperfectly expressed put Robin so much in key for singing that he did not cease till he had extemporised the following ditty, which he hummed over to himself, and encored the performance more than once with great applause: — JEAN BROUN—A SONG ' Tune — M Within a mile o’ Embro* Toun ” My Jeanie is sonsie, light-hearted, and young, Wi’ a bonnie face brimfu’ o’ glee ; There is music to me, in her glib merry tongue, And aye love and truth in her e’e, O, she is a winsome quean ! My laughing, rlaffing, charming Jean, She makes foul weather fair? Wi* her it’s summer a' the year ; I canna, maunrq winna, sha’na Koose her main
As for me, wanting Jean, I’m a blatc, simple duel But wi’ her I’m three times a man ; 1 could loup o’er the moon my head turns like awheel, For she’s atled to me heart and han’. Mayna I be proud and croose 1 How can I be dull or douce? It needs but little lair Through a’ her fun to see wi’ me She canna, winna, downa Ony man compare !
It was rare luck for Jean, and guld fortune to me, Our hiring at All Hallow Fair ; I cttlccl at only a pnir ploughman’s fee. But the prize o' my life met me there. Happy was that hiring day 1 Jean herscl’ will ne’er say nay ; Though whiles wi’ saucy air, But just to tease me, she pretends She canna, winna, manna, muckle For me care.
What care I for toil, or a bare, scoury coat 1 I’m rich in the heart o’ my Jean : Wi’ nae laird in the lan’ would I nifler my.lot—i’m the richest man ever was seen 1 I.onus dead set on works gear Keep your bargains cheap or dear—Your wealth I weel can spare ; In riches cash can never buy Ye canna, manna, shan’a ever Match my share, (To be continued —commenced on Yuly 2 6. )
THE CHIMNEY CORNER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 164, 12 October 1880
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