Rough Scan
 

 

 

 



 
        
       
        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.