Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

KNOCKBRAR SKETCHBS.

BY JACOB RUDDIMENT, A.M., PROBATIONER OF DIVIXITY,

AND SCHOOLMASTER OF THE PARISH.
Ecce pro laicis

Multum allegavi,
Necnon pro presbyteris
Multum comprobavi.

ARCHDEACON WALTER DE MAPES.

CHAP. I.
The Introduction, containing a Short Account of the Life of the Author.

GENTLE READER,- In presenting can the capacious coat be made to butyou with the following sketches and ton over the stuffed belly of the turtlerecollections of the primitive manners fed alderman. and simple incidents of a remote and But previous to commencing my secluded parish, littleartor method may task, according to the advice of the be expected. During something more best critics,-not those of the present than fifty years' residence, man and boy, day, for I know little about them, but in my natule solum, I have not been as that glorious band, at the head of those who walk through the world with which stand Aristotle and Longinus, their eyes shut ; whatever events pass- --it behoves me to give some account ed beforeme, whatever changes of man- of myself, my age and country, and ners I have seen, or whatever pecu- under the influence of what scenes and liarities of character presented them- circumstances I have been able to proselves to my observation, have all been duce a work, which, in all probability, more or less treasured up in the stores is destined to carry my name down to of my memory, from which I can draw posterity. The first thing we desiderconclusions, institute comparisons or ate in the perusal of a great writer, contrasts on any given occasion, and Homer, Xenophon, or Thucydides, for from whence I can derive at all times instance, is to obtain some inkling of an accumulated mass of ideas on which his descent and personal history. To to ruminate and reflect. In delivering the universal regret of the learned, my detached sketehes and observations such information respecting the anto the world, I shall not be solicitous cient worthies is, in almost every case, in giving them arranged in the exact scanty and imperfect; I hope I may order of time in which the events oc- be permitted, without appearing arrocurred; but shall set them down al- gant, to differ from their example in most at random, as they arose in my this single respect; and in case no kind memory, or as the scattered scraps and friend, after my decease, should be in memorandums were picked out from possession of sufficient information rethe chaotic confusion of a port-folio, specting me, I shall, in as concise, and swelled to an enormous bulk, with in as unpretending a manner as possiquotations and excerpts from the clas- ble, give a short sketch of my life, sics, and from the delicious but pon- being conscious, that with regard to derous volumes of the schoolmen, with classical propriety, I am borne out in

I innumerable manuscript sermons, fill- this by the example of Horace, who, ed, I would fain trust, with treasures in

many of his odes and epistles, lets of sound orthodoxy and practical wis- out many hints of his personal matdom; the solicitous labour of many ters, as also Virgilius Maro, his conan hour, snatched from the daily toil temporary bard,

in that affair regardof my school; among which are min- ing the farm at Mantua, which may gled, no doubt, many papers of a pro- be read in his first Bucolic. I am faner cast, such as those on session aware, that supercilious grandeur may business, militia lists, scholars' entries, smile at the simplicity of the manners notandums of our Friendly Society, and sentiments which I am about to and sundry minute items of house- depict, and that ignorance and a morhold expenditure--the whole forming bid taste may sneer at what they will a mass over which the boards of the term my pedantry and rusticity; but book can no more be made to tie, than characters and sentiments,if taken from

a

the life, which I declare mine to be, from the opposite banks, and thus exwill always be prized by the truly clude the light of the sun, and the wise, as forming so many pictures of gaze of man, from the fishes which the diversified scenery of existence. sport below. In a rich valley of alluAnd as to the charge of pedantry, I ap- vial soil, and on the banks of the Darpeal to you, O ye sons of the Ferula! ber, a tributary stream which mingles whether it be possible for a mind in- its waters with those of the Blackwatimately imbued, and constantly con- ter, stands the kirk of Knockbrae, and versant with, the language and phrases at a short distance below, the 'modest of ancient lore, to produce anything mansion of the parish minister. whatsoever which will not be tinged The back part of the manse looks with the divine ambrosia, the heaven- down on the first mentioned stream, sent manna of the classics ?

which flows here with great rapidity, I have often had reason to congra- and acquiring force by its gradual detulate myself on being more fortunate scent, it at length dashes with impethan Homer ; for whereas seven cities tuosity against the sharp-pointed rocks contended for the honour of his birth- which would vainly seem to oppose it. place, and posterity has not yet been able From the church you may hear the to decide between them, I can place it hollow sound of these conflicting wabeyond all doubt that I first drew ters, which, to a poetical imagination, breath in the beautiful and romantic might seem as the unearthly laugh of parish of Knockbrae. I regret exceed the spirit that misleads the steps of ingly, that owing to the dilatoriness of the wanderer during the moonless our blacksmith, John Anvil, in not re- night. To the man of God, it no pairing an old quadrant of mine, which doubt suggests a more rational train of has lain in his smithy-window for two thought; to him it is the music of nayears, among a heap of old keys and ture, that attunes his soul to heavenly superannuated horse-shoes, I shall not musings and devout contemplation; be able to give the exact latitude and it harmonizes with the more gentle longitude of the parish with that degree workings of his mind, and tends to of geographical precision which I could raise his thoughts above the 'toil and wish. Suffice it, for the present, to trouble' of the restless scenes of husay, that it is situate in a remote and manity. At a very short distance from hilly part of Scotland-on all sides it the church and manse stood the still is bounded and hemmed in by bold, humbler mansion of my venerable and heath-covered, rocky, and precipitous respected parents – Peace be to their mountains. The parish, as regards po- spirits! With the humble accommopulation, is by no means large, and dation of a but and a ben, and the dila. affording no great incitements to the pidated adjuncts of a barn, and accomluxurious pomp of the great, or the modations for two cows, and a couple schemes of the ambitious: the greater of steeds, which laboured a small croft, portion of the inhabitants are of the did the worthy couple rear up me, their humbler orders of society. Towards only son, to the years of discretion the extremities of its circumference, and manhood. Whether it was, that the ground is wild, bleak, barren, and the minister and dominie, being the incapable of cultivation, with here and two greatest men in the parish, and there a few scattered and lonely habita- of course, in the eyes of my parents, tions, where the frugal natives earn a the two greatest men on earth, and scanty and precarious subsistence by of consequence their situations the the pasturage of a few sheep, &c. ; but most enviable as a future profession sweeping through the middle of the for their darling son; or whether my parish winds a beautiful and romantic early precocity of genius-for, at the river, rolling on through deep chasms age of four years, I had completely and precipitous, though smooth-worn, mastered the shorter Catechism, and rocky fragments, the incessant and had begun to scrawl an alphabet on persevering effect of many ages. Its the walls with a piece of cinder-gave steep and overhanging banks are thick- them indications of my future celebrily wooded with a beautiful verdure; ty in erudite learning, cannot now, by the birch, the mountain-ash, and the reason of their lamented decease, be quivering aspen shooting out, as by accurately ascertained; but so it was, miracle, from the craggy rocks in sin that in the intervals of tending the gular tortuosity, unite their boughs sheep, and driving the horses in the

a

a

a

plough, I was consigned to the charge thought in their hearts that the pedaof my worthy predecessor Mr Thump- gogue was the most astonishing man bottom, of whom I will frequently alive. He had been at college, too,

, have occasion to speak, with the hope. and told of learned professors robed in that I might one day at least fill his black gowns, who spoke Hebrew, . place, and perhaps aspire to the sum- Greek, and Chaldee ;--of Janitors, mum bonum, the very pinnacle of great- clothed in purple, who bore before ness in my father's eyes, viz. the pulpit them maces of silver, like the princes of Mr Langtext. Under the classical of the earth;—then the many feats care and salutary discipline of Thump- and labours of the collegians, the toils bottom, then, my mind gradually ex- and rewards of learning, and the hopanded, my appetite for learning in- nours and renown which it brings. It creased, and my mental digestion be- is not to be wondered at, that hearing came more steady, firm, and persever- all these fine things, and being assured ing. Little did I think, while I ad- that without a college education my mired the deep and awful erudition, further progress would be barred, and and coured and trembled under the my prospects limited, it should be refrown or uplifted birch of that renown- solved between the worthy couple, that, ed pedagogue, that I would one day if at all practicable, I should go to the triumph in the conscious power of su- university. Accordingly, at the apperiority, myself, and in that very pointed time, having been equipped in school which hath re-echoed my wail. one of the minister's old black coats, ings, witnessed my tears, and support- furbished up for the occasion, and ed my tottering knees, shaking under furnished by the same worthy man the correcting scourge of idleness and with the loan of an old Greek Homer ignorance, that I should in my turn and Lexicon, to which was kindly wield the rod of power, and raise in added by the dominie a Greek gram, vengeance the redressing arm ! mar, which, from the dog-leaves, and

various names on the title-page, seem“ Sed tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur

ed to have come through a variety of in illis."

proprietors; moreover, having obtainSo wonderful was my proficiency at ed the luxury of a pair of shoes and school, that in the course of a few years two spare shirts, tied up in a bunI had exhausted the whole stock of dle, I set out one morning (after havmy, worthy preceptor's information, ing spent the evening before with the and had literally drained him dry. parson and dominie, receiving their Many may be disposed to suggest that instructions and admonitions) for that perhaps this was no difficult task, and, renowned seat of learning and science, after all, that my acquisitions might the Marischall College, Aberdeen, have been but very moderate. It is 66 The world was all before me," and not for me to speak on so delicate a the road, to me unknown, was for a matter. Suffice it to say, Mr Thump- time dreary and fatiguing; but meetbottom, as will afterwards be more ing in the course of my journey with fully shown, was an enthusiastic ad- many other students bending the same mirer of “ The Mighty Mair;" his way, and all like 'myself trudging it Latin introduction, he said, was a per- on foot, perhaps for hundreds of miles fect and splendid monument of human --for coaching was not introduced in ingenuity. In it he took care I should those days, I entered into friendly be thoroughly versed ; and with the talk with them, and many being more help of translations, I got a tolerable experienced than myself, they soothed smattering of the classical historians my languor, encouraged my hopes, and poets. How shall I forget those and diverted my mind by the variety attic nights under our humble roof, of their anecdote. Tired to death with when the dominie, over a dish of sowins the long and rugged roads, and my and milk, would descant so eloquently toes bursting their cearments, anil on the glories of the age of Mecenas, peeping through my worn-out shoes, the importance of classic lore, and the we arrived at the venerable seat of wonderful talents of “ the Mighty learning, my long-wished-for goal, Mair !" while all the time my parents and the object of my enthusiastic relistened with intense and mute won- verence. I stood a candidate for one der, swallowed the long-sounding of the annual bursaries, and never names with a voracious greediness, and general more exulted in the success of

[ocr errors]

a perilous engagement than did I when be my guides, philosophers, and I found that, after a keen and dispu- friends; although a shade of jealousy ted contest, my abilities were rewarded now and then tinged the brow of the by the yearly sum of six pounds fif- learned Mr Thumpbottom, as I venteen shillings sterling.

tured to arraign his opinions, and boldly This magnificent sum, with a pit- advance information of my own acquitance furnished from home, equalled sition. My sacred character now obliged all my wants, and far exceeded

my me to lay aside all rustic occupations. most sanguine expectations ; indeed Í I was now frequently to be seen strolhad never known before what life was, ling about the by-paths of the parish, and I exulted in the idea of my conse- “muttering my wayward fancies," and quence as a gentleman studying polite equipped in a suit of sables, which literature. Four of us fellow-students imparted a still gloomier cast to my occupied an elevated garret; and we naturally lank and cadaverous person. were valets, butlers, and bakers, to And I hereby do declare, that I found each other in turn. Yet, with all this not half so much difficulty in masterlowliness of fortune, our minds were ing the ancient languages, or fathomactive and energetic, and filled with a ing the depths of school theology, or noble enthusiasm lighted up by the in filling a whole quire of paper with glowing torch of antiquity. And while sound divinity, as I had in patching

. assembled in an evening, we launched up, inking, and keeping in anything out into discursive talk, or wielded the of tolerable repair, the only suit of cleintellectual weapons of controversy ; rical garments which I was possessed our fancies warmed by the elevated re- of; notwithstanding that my mother, citals of the historian, or the heroic who set no bounds to her pride in such song of the poet ; an acute observer a son, manufactured for me a pair of might have marked the embryo scin- parson-grey stockings and hodden-grey tillations of those minds which were under-garments, which I wore on afterwards, by their own efforts, to week-days. I was now frequently burst through the obscurity which en- requested to preach for Mr Langveloped them, and shine out in all text, and also for many of the neightheir brightness to the world. Many bouring clergymen; by which means of my former associates have I seen I not only had an opportunity of rise to distinction in society, while I, spreading the fame of my eloquence, with similar feelings and aspirations, but also of getting a good dinner, and have been doomed, as these pages will being admitted to the converse of the unfold, to drag out my life in obscuri- great and learned, which to me, that ty; but a truce to such speculations. had always an eager curiosity to see all « Some are born with a silver spoon in ranks and degrees of humanity, was their mouths, and others with a wood- peculiarly gratifying. I had also the en ladle ;” a saying which, if not clas- good fortune, as I then thought, to resical, deserves from its justness and ceive the promises of more than one force to be so.

patron in my behalf; indeed my hopes I thus spent the winters of four years of promotion were at that time very in ingulphing huge draughts of the sanguine; but I had not then, with all Pierian springs, and the sparkling and my erudition, learned the real nature intoxicating waters of Helicon; in of a promise. summer I wrought it off by labouring It was about this same time, too, at the threshing-floor, or following the when honours were likely to be showerplough through the brown fallow. ed upon me, and when that blest haFour Seasons more concluded my ven of all clerical hopes and fears, that course of theological study; and at the snug elysium, a manse, was thought end of that period I came out from the to be within my reach, that I fancied hands of the presbytery a confirmed that Miss Jessy Pruan, the only and licensed preacher of the gospel. I daughter of Bailie Pruan, of the neighnow became an object of respect and bouring borough, looked on me with reverence to all the inhabitants of the

an eye of complacency. She was a parish; second, of course, to the mini- comely, rosy-faced lassie, and had ster, bút pressing hard on the heels of something in her eye as she glanced the dominie, and, in the estimation of towards me, which made my heart many, rather first than second to him. twinge; she had a wonderful share of Both these worthies still continued to erudition, considering she was a wo

a

[ocr errors]

man, and used to praise my parts in a day, my mother entered, and with a manner which was very soothing to look of importance, and shake of the me; moreover, her father, the bailie, head, said, “ I have just been seeing was possessed of wealth, and it was that puir man, the dominie, and I am thought whoever would be the happy saer mista'en if he is in a good way." man, would not get her empty-hand- My father looked up, and exclaimed ed. The first time I attracted her no- Ah, poor man!” The thread of my tice was once I preached in the Muckle sermon also snapped, and arousing myKirk of Boroughtown-my text was self at the intelligence, I also exclaimculled from the Song of Solomon. I ed, “ Alas, poor man!” We then, am ashamed to say how often she oc- with many reflections on the uncercupied my thoughts afterwards, and tainty of life, began to speculate much abstracted

my mind from my studies." on the sick man's complaint, and the I gave up my researches into the la probable duration of his life. Towards bours of the Fathers, and the meta- night, my mother having gone out a physical subtilties of the profounder second time, again returned, and indivines, and hunted through Horace, formed us the dominie was much worse. Ovid, Tibullus, and Anacreon, for Next day I paid him a visit, and found love ditties, which I translated, with him very ill indeed, and he scarcely her name inserted instead of the Ly; recognized me. Early in the morning dias and Delias of the originals, and I was roused by my father and mowhich she handed about among her ther, who told me the dominie was acquaintances, not a little proud and gone, and that I should lose no time delighted with the compliments. But, in communicating the intelligence to alas! “ woman is but warld's gear!" the minister. I hastened up to the My preferment, like the rainbow, fled manse accordingly, and found the mic the faster from me, and seemed even nister in a great measure prepared for more distant, the more eagerly I pur

I the intelligence. He, as became him, sued. Miss Pruan began to get impa- made many pithy remarks on the certient-sullen-distant - and at last tainty of death, the folly of laying up contemptuous in her treatment of me; our treasures here, and the insignifiand I was awaked one day from my cance of all worldly concerns; proreverie of bliss and happiness, by hear- nounced a glowing eulogium on the ing that she had made an elopement talents, virtue, and friendly and conwith some rakish and profligate en- vivial disposition of the deceased ; exsign of a regiment. Her father, grie- pressed a sort of unavailing regret that ved and irritated, died soon after, and we could never get a successor who disinherited her; and, in the course of would equal, or at all events surpass years, I had a sort of melancholy sa- him ; and finally concluded with what tisfaction in beholding the just retri. I, and I daresay the reader also by this bution of Providence, for the same time expected, viz., proposing the silady came home a poor widow, with tuation to myself. In short, through two or three children, and now resides the influence of the minister, I was, in

Ι in her native borough ; the which all due time, inducted into the charge place, when I visit occasionally to of the school of Knockbrae, was put in make a purchase of books and quills possession of a free house containing

my school, if I chance to see her three apartments, and the yearly inon the streets, I walk hastily past on come, exclusive of some few scholars' the other side, not willing to give pain fees, of L.10, 13s. 4d. to her feelings, or awaken unpleasant I was now set down in something recollections of my own. But, to re

like a comfortable competency, and, turn from this vain digression.

as is the case with most men, espeThumpbottom, the dominie, had been cially with those who have a shade of but in a sickly state during the win- indolence in their temperament, as I ter, and, to relieve him a little of his must confess myself to have, when I harassing duty, I had been occasion found my wants thus partly provided ally in the practice of teaching the for, I was less strenuous and perseye. school. One evening in the spring, as ring in my applications to my patrons my father and I were sitting by the for a kirk; and they, on the other fireside, he busy mending some of his hand, seizing hold of the opportunity horse-gear, and I conning over a ser- of my relaxation, gradually slunk from mon which I was to preach next Sun- under the load of

their promise, in the VOL. XVIII.

N

for

Mr

a

а

« VorigeDoorgaan »