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        NEW YEAR PHILOSOPHY
         
         
        BEARING in min’ 
          oor unfortunate Ne’er-day party o’ last year, an’ oor still mair unfortunate 
          Christmas denner o’ the year before, aboot baith o’ which I wrote ye,
        BAILIE, I this year determined tae hae nae reg’lar party; but twa or 
          three o’ us had a freenly meetin’ the ither nicht ower a gless o’ toddy 
          an’ a currant bun, an’ we had a crack aboot ae thing an’ anither; an’ 
          in the course o’ the nicht Mr. M’Cunn an’ I had a gey sair argument 
          aboot telephones, he sayin’ it wis naething new, having been kent tae 
          the ancients o’ Japan hunners o’ years ago, an’ I sayin’ it wis a maist 
          extraor’nar’ affair—batin’ the telegraph oot an’ oot-an’ if it wisna 
          for the expense I wid hae ane fitted up between the hoose an’ the coal
        ree, when Mr M’Cunn interrupted me an’ says—
        “Man, Mr Kaye, 
          ye wid threep onything!  I suppose 
          ye’ll tell me next the worl’ is no roon like yer ain heid.”
        “Certainly I 
          will,” I says; “ye hivna Scripture for that, at ony rate.”
        “But a’ scientific 
          men are agreed aboot it,” he says.
        “Weel, that’s 
          where I differ frae them, ye see,” I says; “can ye gie me day an’ date 
          for it ever being measured or seen a’ at ance as it were, tae see whether 
          it wis roon or no’?  An’ man, 
          it’s no’ reasonable tae suppose it, for if it wis, them on the side 
          o’t wid be walking like flees on the wa’, while them doon below wid 
          be gaun aboot upside doon.  Look, see, here’s an onanger, roon like your heid; weel, we’re up here; Stra’bungo’s 
          no’ a big place, but it’s aye something, an’ it’ll be aboot here, aboot 
          the size o’ a preen heid.  Weel, 
          we’re tell’t Austreelia’s nicht at the ithen side o’ the worl’;
        noo, 
          that maun be doon here at the bottom.  
          Then, Mr M’Cunn,” says I, shovin’ ower the onanger, “jist let’s 
          see hoo ye could mak’ my auldest brither, wha’s oot there enoo wi’ his 
          wife an family, walk aboot withoot being either upside doon or wi’ his 
          held riveted tae the grun an’ his feet on naething!  
          It’s no’ possible!  Mony 
          a letter I’ve had frae him, an’ he says naething aboot being upside
        doon, an’ dae ye think he widna mention’t if it wis the case?”
        Mr M’Cunn muttered 
          awa’, but I quickly shut him up by sayiug, “There’s the oranger, Mr 
          M’Cunn, let us see hoo in the wide worl’ ye can bring oot yer notions?  Come on, noo!”  And a’ the rest were fairly astonished at my sound common sense.
        Mr M’Cunn then 
          says, “Ye don’t believe the planets are inhabited either, I suppose?”
        “Decidedly not,” 
          I replied, “there’s a wheen folk want tae be literary celebrities, an’ 
          write books, an’ as they canna write aboot things folk can un’erstaun, 
          they soar awa’ intae the regions o’ fancy, an’ write aboot things that 
          neither they nor ony ither body can un’erstaun, an’ they tell ye that 
          up in the planets the’re folk leevin’ an’ goin’ aboot their business 
          like us, wi’, I suppose, tramway caurs rinnin’—it’s a mercy the planets 
          are no’ roon, or some day a runaway caur micht tummle ower the edge 
          an’ fa’ doon on us—an’ ships sailin’, an’ footba’ matches, an’ wars, 
          an’ folk sittin’ roon a fire in a hoose, an’ cabs fleein’, an’ a’ in 
          what?  No’ in a fine, substantial 
          worl’ like this, but in a bit ba’ o’ fire!  It’s nonsense, man, nonsense!  An’ then they say we’re spinnin’ roon like 
          a peerie!  D’ye think, Mr M’Cunn, 
          I haena my judgment?  Man, if 
          we were goin’ roon, the ‘Shaws wid be tae the east o’ us the tae day, 
          an’ tae the wast the tither.  We 
          wid never ken where we were.  But 
          I’ll gie ye twa startling facts — facts, Mr M’Cunn, mind that — an’ 
          the mair ye look intae them the mair ye’ll be convinced o’ their truth, 
          for they’re tangible — ye can grasp them.  
          First, “Ye’ll fin’ every man that’s got on in the worl’ has a 
          big hat“ — here they a’ laughed.  “Oh! ye may laugh,” I says, “try it! try it!  
          I’ve tried it an’ proved it!  Get a man wha’s in a wee way, strugglin’
        alang, 
          an’ ye’ll fin’ he has a wee hat, an’ the wee hat aye keeps him
        doon.  If ever ye get a visit frae a prosperous man, 
          slip oot tae the lobby an’ try on his hat, an’ yell fin’ it’ll go richt 
          doon ower your e’en, an’ the farther it’ll slip doon the mair prosperous 
          the man is.  If ye get a board 
          o’ directors o’ a big company an’ tried on a’ the hats, as I’ve done, 
          ye’ll fin’ every hat is ower big for ye; the manager’s hat comes next 
          in size tae the directors’, then the secretary’s, an’ sae on doon an’
        doon, till ye’ll fin’ the poor clerks hae the vera sma’est size.”
        Here it was 
          proposed we should a’ try hats on.  
          Three o’ the hats were jist aboot a muchness, an’ we were a’ 
          in aboot the same position — bien and wool tae dae.  
          Then Mr Pettigrew’s hat wis tried — Mr Pettigrew wis the wealthiest 
          man in the room, an’ had lots o’ property — an’ I found it widna go 
          on me at a’.  This kin o’ bamboozled me a wee.  I tried it an’ squeezed it, an’ Mr M’Cunn laughed 
          at me; but it turned oot it wisna Mr Pettigrew’s hat at a’, but belanged 
          tae Mr Lamont, a puir body that has a hard struggle tae get on — we 
          had made the toddy raither strong, I think.  
          Hooever, we then got Mr Pettigrew’s richt hat, an’, my
        certy, 
          it gaed doon ower my nose an’ chin.
        “Mr M’Cunn,” 
          says I, “ye may laugh noo!  There’s 
          my theory proved, ye see; truth triumphs, as Shakespeare says.”  An’ then I says tae Mr Lamont, “Mr Lamont, 
          that hat’s your bane; can ye no’ get a bigger ane, even tho’ it should 
          be a wee uneasy for ye?
        “Noo, Mr M’Cunn, 
          that’s one fact for ye tae think ower; the ither is - ’A’ widows hae 
          black hair.’  Of course, ye understaun’, 
          I’m no’ talking o’ widows o’ seeventy or eighty, but ony below — say 
          fifty.  Aye, laugh awa’, but 
          shut your eyes a meenit, an’ cast your thochts around ye, an’ I’ll wager 
          ye a saxpence nineteen oot o’ twenty widows that ye ken are black-haired!  If ye dae come across a fair-headed ane, mak’ 
          diligent inquiry, an’ ye’11 fin’ that her man wis drooned, or shot, 
          on run ower by a tramway caur, or something — he didna dee a natural 
          death.  Noo, don’t tak’ my word for it; think ower’t 
          for yersel’.  Mr Pettigrew, did 
          ye ever ken o’ a fair-heided widow?”
        Mn Pettigrew, 
          taking anither sip o’ the toddy, declared he never had.
        “No,” I says, 
          “nor very few have.  It’s aboot 
          as difficult taw see a fair-haired widow as tae see a deid cuddy, or 
          a Quaker wi’ a wudden leg.”
        BAILIE, that 
          put a clincher on Mr M’Cunn an’ his faurawa’ notions o’ planets being 
          inhabited; an’ the hale room declared that “I wis a faur-seeing, sensible 
          man, an’, above a’, a practical man, wi’ nae ootlandish notions belanging 
          tae ither spears.”  An’ jist 
          at this, Betty put her heid in at the door tae say the ladies were in 
          the parlour wearying for oor company, so we screwed doom the gas, an’ 
          went ben tae them.