Rough Scan
 

 

 

 



 
        
       
        AS A CANVASSER
         
         
        I GOT a ca’ 
          frae our twa candidates, Liberal and Conservative, the ither day,
        BAILIE, 
          tae ask if I wid dae them the honour o’ allooing my name tae go on their 
          committees.  I’m that weel
        kent, 
          ye see, as an elder, a large ratepayer, an' Provost o’ Strathbungo, 
          that a’ folk come tae me; and the upshot o’ the veesits wis, that I 
          wis pit doon on baith committees; an' a sair fecht I had tae explain 
          it every noo an' again.  At first I wis a wee put aboot, but I had jist 
          tae say that it wis a mistake o’ the agents.  “They’re faur ower anxious tae get important names, but it’s no 
          worth speaking aboot,” I aye added.
        In the end I 
          wis actually made a canvasser for baith parties, an’ as baith did me 
          the honour, I resolved tae work fairly an’ get as many votes as I could; 
          so the ither nicht I set oot wi’ a white shirt, a clean shave, an my
        silver-heided cane, an’ gloves, tae prevent them thinking I wis a paid 
          canvasser.
        The first place 
          I gaed tae, I wis shown in an’ introduced tae the heid o’ the
        hoose, 
          wha was reading the Citizen, wi’ 
          his feet on the mantelpiece, an’ smokin’ a short black pipe.
        “Are your poor 
          rates paid, my freen?” I says.
        “‘Deed are they,” 
          says time wife; “what gemm are ye up tae noo?  D’ye want us tae pay them ower again?”
        “Then listen,” 
          says I; “takin’ it for granted yer poor rates are paid, an’ nane o’ 
          yer bairns hae the measles or ony infectious disease, ye’re a freeborn 
          Briton, an’ ye hiv a vote — a vote that entitles ye, singie-handed, 
          tae return a member o’ Parliament for this ancient an’ honourable county—a 
          county that gi’es ane o’ his titles tae the Prince o’ Wales; an’, min’ 
          ye, it’s few counties does that!  Are 
          your political leanings tae the Liberal or ConservatiVe side?”
        “Liberal,” he 
          says.
        “Speak oot boldly,” 
          I says; “I wis ance a puir man like yersel’, an’ I’ll never tak’ advantage 
          o’ ye in ony way; but I’m gled ye’re Liberal.  Working men, as a rule, are; I’ve noticed that.  
          It’s a better name—it sounds better; altho’, between you an’ 
          me, the guid auld days are past when folk were liberal—when a vote wis 
          worth something; but we must jist tak’ things as they come.  
          I suppose I may put yer name doon?  
          In voting for the Liberal candidate, ye support the party whase 
          motto is ‘Reform,’ whase watchword is ‘Retrenchment,’ and whase battle-cry 
          is ‘Peace!’  The Liberals will put an end tae a’ wars and rumours o’ wars, mak’ 
          France fold Germany in her bosom, an’ hae milk an’ honey flowing doon 
          the streets o’ Strathbungo like rivers o’ water in a dry place.  Moreover, they are not bound doon tae auld-fash 
          ioned notions o’ keeping everything as it wis, an' refusin’ tae let 
          a man marry his wife’s sister, or his auntie if he likes; nor refusin’ 
          burial tae a Presbyterian in England, because a priest thinks the puir 
          deid piece o’ clay‘ll desecrate the sanctity o’ his consecrated
        kirkvard.  My freen, thank Providence ye’re a Liberal, 
          an’ that Scotch kirkyards are open tae onybody; so Mr—, I forget-"
        “M’Faurlan.”
        “Ah! jist so, 
          Mr M’Faurlan, so doon goes yer name-many thanks tae ye.”
        The next hoose 
          I went intae, after a bit talk, I says, “Weel, taxes an’ a’ paid an’ 
          money in the bank for the rent, family a' grown up an’ marrit except 
          ane wha’s in America—no’ sure whether he’s deid or leevin’—hope he’s 
          leevin’ tho’—an’ a clean bill o’ health generally, except the bedroom 
          needs painting an’ papering, an’ ye wid like the rent reduced, so I 
          suppose I may put doon yer name for the Liberal?”
        "But I’m 
          a Conservative."
        “Tut! tut! what 
          am I saying?  The Conservative 
          tae be sure.  I’ve been sae deaved 
          wi’ thae Liberals, the words are ringing in my heid a’ nicht—Conservative, 
          of course! bound tae support the party wha bids defiance tine the combined 
          worl’—Emperor o’ Roosia, Bismarck, or onybody—when necessary, my dear 
          sir, when necessary—mind that—an’ it’s whiles necessary tae show a bold 
          front; it frichts the ither anes; the Conservatives, my dear sir, are 
          up tae snuff.  They’re no’ tae be ta’en in wi’ the holy Czar 
          o’ Roosia makin’ believe he was directly commissioned by Heaven to free 
          Christians in another country while he banishes his ain subjects tae 
          Siberia in thoosands—liberating the Bulgarians, massacring the Poles 
          an’ Circassians.  In this country we hang a man for takin’ ae 
          life, an’ yet some o’ us pat this Czar on the back an’ praise him up 
          for takin’ lives by the hundred.  Such, 
          my freen, is human inconsistency.  As 
          for the Mahdi, or the Kheedive, or whatever ye may ca’ ‘im — puir
        bodie, 
          I’m vexed for him, but as oor minister says, ‘thae bodies rinnin’ aboot 
          wi’ bits o’ pocket nepkins roon them instead o’ troosers maun be civilised’; 
          so I suppose it’s in the nature o’ things, altho’, if I had my 
          way, I wid let the bodies rin aboot as they liked; particularly 
          in their ain country.  Hooever, 
          I’ve a lot o’ ca’s to mak’, so I mann be off.”
        In the next 
          hoose wins a very ‘cute auld man—he wis vera wary: he says:-
        “Ye’re no a 
          sheriff-officer, are ye?”
        I assured him 
          I wis not.
        “Or a man frae 
          the water company tae see if the jawbox is no rinnin'?"
        “No! no!” I 
          says, “I’m a canvasser, no’ a paid ane, ye ken, but—”
        “Oh! a canvasser,” 
          he says; “an’ what are ye canvassing for?  Is’t gas burners, or moose traps, or what?”
        “No! no!  I want yer vote!”
        “Oh! my vote! 
          is’t for the Schule Brod?”
        “No! far higher 
          than that, it’s for Parliament.”
        “For Parliament, 
          an’ are ye likely tae get in, think ye?”
        “Oh! me!  I’ve no got that length yet, by and bye I micht 
          be tempted tae try it mysel’, but enoo I’m only acting for anither.”
        “Liberal or 
          Conservative?”
        “Weel, he’s 
          a wee Liberal, maybe no jist edicated up tae the pint some wid like, 
          but he’s coming on; in fact, he has the guid pints o’ the Liberals without 
          the bad anes o’ the Conservatives; he’s what ye micht ca.’ a—a-"
        “I’m an Independent 
          mysel’.”
        “Exactly,” I 
          says, “ye jist took the words oot o’ my mouth, only I wisna sure whether 
          tae ca' him a Liberal Conservative or a Conservative Liberal:  Independent, exactly.  He likes tae act for the guid o’ his country 
          withoot tying himsel’ tae the coat tails o’ ony party.  He follows Salisbury or Gladstone whenever 
          be thinks they’re richt, but the worst o’t is very few folk believe 
          in an Independent candidate.  The 
          ane‘ll no’ hae him because he’s no’ a Liberal, an’ the ither‘ll no’ 
          hae him because he’s no' a Conservative, an’ sae on.  
          However, as I’m like yersel’, unbiassed, I’ll lee ye the addresses 
          o’ baith parties, an’ ye can read them ower carefully an’ conscientiously, 
          an’ judge for yersel’, an’ come tae the poll early— ’the early bird 
          gets the early worm,’ ye ken.  'Step 
          forward,’ as the showman says, ‘be in time,’ and record your vote, an’ 
          then ye can begin your breakfast wi’ an’ easy mind an’ a clear conscience.”
        The next hoose 
          wis a vera dirty and; it wis hard tae tell whether the man, his wife, 
          or his bairns were maist in need o a washing.  
          I kept my hat on, as I could see nae place tae lay it doon, while 
          the man explained that he wis a “Home Ruler.”
        “Vera guid thing,” 
          I says, “I believe in’t mysel’, only you an’ I differ a wee; I begin 
          at my ain hoose an’ work upwardsn an ye seem,” I says looking roon, 
          “tae begin at the tap an work doonwards.  
          Of course everybody has their ain way o working, an’ it’s
        pleesent, 
          my freen, tae think ye can, after your hard day’s work, turn frae yer 
          domestic felicity an’ scan the horizon o’ politics for a candidate in 
          accordance with yer ain exalted notions; but I’m a wee afraid we here 
          are no jist eddicated up tae yer proper point yet.  
          The Scotch are allooed tine be a wee dull, slow, ye ken, an’ 
          this Gladstonian kin’ o’ Home Rule hasna got oor length yet, at least 
          the kin’ o’ Home Rule ye mean, so I’m afraid ye’ll either hae tae let 
          me put doon yer name for the Liberal or Conservative, or else get a 
          candidate o’ yer ain.”
        I finished a’ 
          this speech jist as he reached ower his haun for the poker, an’ oot 
          I cam.’
        I tried nae
        mair, BAILIE, but got lame tired, and sat doon tae the papers an’ a 
          gless o’ toddy, an’ I think I’ll bother nae mair wi’ canvassing.  I wis too conscientious took ower much pains 
          tae ask them the proper questions aboot their domestic concerns, an’ 
          a’ that took up time, an’ a’thegither it doesna seem tae suit a man 
          at my time o’ life.