THE ORGAN QUESTION A ‘THO’ I’m an elder, BAILIE, I don’t think I ever tell’t ye aboot oor Kirk. Weel, you maun ken that we’re o’ the rale auld-fashioned covenanting sort. There’s nane o’ yer hurdy-gurdys an’ stained-gless aboot us. And by the same token oor minister has naething in common wi’ the young anes that wear lang coats an’ indulge in new-fangled notions; the kind that when they see they canna gain popularity by their preaching, start a’ sort o’ doctrines. One, for instance, is for daeing awa’ wi’ Auld Sandy a’thegither, anither says there’s no sich a place as “So-and-So,” while a third alloos that, after we dee, we revisit the earth in the bodies o’ dromedaries an’ hyenas an’ sich like, keeping guard ower the folk we left behin’. Indeed, the maist o’ them turn everything upside doon jist oot o’ contrariness, till at last ye dinna ken what tae believe. No, oor minister is sound. He believes jist the same as I dae. I never need tee sit watching him for ony heresy; I can fold my arms, lie back in my corner, shut my eyes an’ gang tae sleep, quite certain that in his hauns everything is as safe as if I wis in the poopit preaching mysel’. Nor hae we a paid quire that sit on elevated sates an’ hurl operatic music doon at the puir sinners below—puir bodies that are never vera sure whether they’re at the Italian Opera or in the Kirk. Oor quire is a voluntary ane, an’ they sing extr’ornar. Ye’ll see the precentor waving his hauns in the air at sich a rate that ye wid think he was leading the hale Choral Union. I notice, however, that the quire jist let him wave awa’, never fashin’ their thoom. As Sue said tae me, “they ken the music as weel as him.” One o’ my dochters is in the quire, an’ I never look doon at her sitting there but I think on that sang ye hear so often ahoot some blacksmith that had a “smiddy“ under a spreading chestnut-tree, an’ he, like me, used to sit wi’ brawny arms an’ look at his dochter singing on the Sawbath days. I’ve already said that we’ve nae organ, but lately some o' the younger folk, declairin’ that we must keep pace with the times, got up an agitation in favour o’ ane. My auld frien’, Mr M’Cunn, an’ me, an’ twa-three mair focht sair against it, but it was o’ nae use. I gied them a lecture one nicht on the errors of Popery, wi' special reference tae organs, an’ I said that if they must hae a musical instrument I wid propose that they get bagpipes. The pipes, I said, were the national instrument o’ Scotland. They wid be chaper than an organ, an’ I wis bound tae say that, if we had a fine big Heelan’ man in kilts, sitting in the precentor’s box, and blawin’ awa at the bagpipes, we wid sune hae the best-filled kirk on the South Side. At the end o’ my harangue I banged my haun doon on the table before me; I shook my nieve in the organ proposer’s face; I said I wid leave the kirk; but, BAILIE, a’ my eloquence, as Jeems Martin wid say, wis like a spittle on a tailor's goose. They jist laughed at me. I wis narrow-minded, they cried, oot-o’-date, &c. One o’ them, mair argumentative than the rest, put forrit the plea that they had had a harmonium in the Sunday skule for the last twa or three years, an’ that it hadna dune ony harm. At lang and last a show o’ hauns wis taen, an’, as I suspectit wid be the case, the only followers I had wis a wheen auld, bauld-heided men and the precentor. When I sat doon the precentor said to me, “Thank ye, Mr Kaye, ye did weel; ye’ve a noble hert. But oor trade’s doomed! I see that.” Weel, tae mak’ a long story short, it wis carrit that we were tae hae an organ, an’ we began tae gether siller. I said I had been honourably bate, an’, as I wis in the minority, it wis only reasonable tae suppose I wis in the wrang. I harboured nae illwill, hooever, and wid subscribe mysel’ — thirty shillings wid be my subscription, an’ I thocht that wid go a guid way; but, if they were sair pressed, anither five shillings widna’ break me. Ane, at this, got up an’ said that an organ wid cost near a hunner poun’. “A what?” says I; “a hunner poun’! Lod, that’s an awfu money tae pay for a thing we can dae withoot. But I’ll tell you what,” I went on, “I had a crack ae day wi ane o’ thae Italian men that gang aboot wi’ an organ an' a monkey, an’ we micht hiv him some week nicht withoot the monkey, an’ hae a trial o’ his instrument.” This wis agreed tae, an’ we arranged accordingly. The organ played “Auld Hundred” an’ “Martyrdom,” and then a wheen secular tunes; but the Italian showed me a pin an’ the word “repeat,” and said when he pushed the pin tae this word, it wid play awa’ at that tune as long as he likit. The meetin’ wis ca’d for the Oddfellows’ Hall, jist beside the kirk. The nicht cam’ roon, an’ wi’ it cam’ the biggest congregation we had had for years. There wis a collection “tae defray expenses.” I drappit my humble penny intae time plate, an’ listenin’ tae hear if there wis as mony clinks o’ ha’pennies as I had weans behin’ me — ane for each — I walked intae a front sate in the gallery, jis for a’ the worl’ like my ain pew. I saw the weans seated properly, an’ mixed weel up between Betty an’ me, so as tae keep them frae jaggin’ ane anither wi’ preens, or fechtin’ for the books. This done, I turned hauf roon, an’ reclined back in the corner. A’ my arrangements had been made. I had had a guid dinner an' a bottle o’ porter, an’ I wis at peace wi' the hale o’ mankind. Even if I had seen my laddie, that rins oot wi’ the hunnerwechts, I think I could hae gi’en him a clap on the heid and a wheen lozenges; an’ he, o’ a’ the worl’, is the ane that puts me oftenest in an unchristian temper. Indeed, there wisna a body in the hale toon I had a grudge at—a child could have played wi’ me. The Italian wis there wi’ his ear-rings, an’ his face washed in honour o’ the occasion. I suppose it wis the first time he had ever been connectit wi’ a kirk in his life. He wis stationed awa’ up in a corner o’ the back, gallery, an’ he wis tell’t when he saw the folk risin’ he wis tae begin. A verse was gi’en oot, the folk got up, the organ pealed oot “Auld Hundred,” an’ everybody wis delighted. We a’ sat doon, an’ the minister said a few words, an’ hoped that the oppoition wid be silenced; for, if a common street organ cauld mak’ sich melody, what micht we expect tae hear when we got a big ane costing, maybe, a hunner poun’. Then anither verse wis gi’en oot, the folk got up again, the precentor waved his hauns, the quire started, an’ the organ began - “The Floors o’ Edinburgh!” "Guid gracious," says Mr M'Cunn, reaching ower tae me; "that's no a psalm tune, Mr Kaye!" "It must be," says I, "for there's twa saum tunes come thegither in that organ." A’ the same, hooever, I saw that something wis wrang, for the minister began tae wave his haun’. The organ-man thocht this wis a signal tae play faster, for he began tae ca' the haunle roon at an awfu rate, an’, before we could say word, he ran intae ”Nancy Lee.” But this wisna a’. What wis oor dumbfoonderment tae see, creeping oot free below the man’s coat, a guid-sized monkey, wi’ a red swallow-tail coat an’ a blue bonnet! On comin’ oot, it sat doon on the tap o’ the organ, an’ began tae crack nits. The minister put his haun’ on his broo, an’ said — ”Oh, Mr Kaye! Mr Kaye! ye’ll hae my hert broken.” “Weel, sir,” I says, “I did it a’ for the best, an’ ye may be thankfu’ it’s no in the kirk; an’, seeing it’s no’, I wid propose ye jist let him play awa’—it’ll come roon tae the richt tune by and bye.” “Mr Kaye,” he replied, “I’m afraid ye did this tae try an bring ridicule on the organ movement.” "Oh, no, sir; as sure’s death I didna’,” says I. A’ this time, the organ wis grindin’ awa’, an’ when it commenced the “Sailor’s Hornpipe,” the monkey got twa wee brass plates oot, an’ clappit them thegither, an’ the women held up the weans tae see it, an’ began tae sing dum, dum, de dum, dum de diddle, diddle dum!!! “Silence wi’ yer ‘dumming’ !“ I cries oot, as I stood up in my sate; an’ then I cried tae the organ-man— ”Put in the sneck an’ change the tune, ye unhallowed maccaronieater, or I’ll ding you an’ your monkey throo’ the window. Wis it for this I engaged ye, eh?” He gied the monkey’s string a shake, an’ cried oot, “Bon! Bon! Jacko!” an’ it took tae clim’in’ up the window, an’ the weans a’ hurrahed! an’ the laddies began tae whistle, jump ower the sates, and throw their bonnets at the monkey, while the minister buried his face in his nepkin. I got Mr M’Cunn, the beadle, and twa-three mair, an’ we gaed up, an’ catchin’ the organ-man by the shoother marched him oot tae the close mooth, where he, in broken English, tell’t us his ain organ had gaen wrang, an’ he had tae get the len’ o’ anither man’s. It seemed, tee, that he had thocht the meetin’ wis a soiree, so he brocht the monkey tae divert us. BAILIE, I paid him his fee, an’ wishing I could wi’ safety hae gien his monkey’s tail a nip, I an’ the ithers gaed awa' back tae the hall, where the minister wis telling them that, after what had happened, he wid propose that the name of Mr Kaye be taken aff the organ committee. “Then,” I says, interrupting him, “ye’ll tak’ my thirty shillings aff the subscription sheet.” “Weel, Mr Kaye,” he replied, “we’ll keep on your name, as I am convinced it was thro' your zeal ye erred, an’ we’ll say nae mair aboot it.” The folk hurrahed at this; so after a’ the meetin’ broke up in harmony. We’re aye gathering awa’ at the siller yet; in fac’, there’s some talk o’ us haeing a bazaar tae get the money quicker.