P Hay Hunter


EFTER this there wis nae mair peace an quietness in the pairish. Tod-Lowrie haed set the heather a-low, an it bleezed awa wi unco little appearance o burnin itsel oot. The tae side said his speech wis juist a leesh o lees, an the tither side said it wis as true's the Gospel; an atween them the ill-will that wis steered up, an the bitin an scartin, an flytin like kail-wifes an sweirin like cairters, teuk aa the plaesur oot o life. Auld freends cam nigh to handicuffs ower the question o the kirk, an wadna darken ane anither's doors; an men quarrelled wi their wifes, an sat glunshin an gloomin at the chimley-cheeks, or gaed awa to the public; an brither cuist oot wi brither, an faither wi son; an ye coudna be lang in ony company withoot somethin bein said that gait them aa tak the bizz thegither, an syne there wis an end to guid fellowship an richt feelin.

For mysel, I said as little as I coud help to onybody, aither in the hoose or oot o't. Jess haed nae douts on the subjeck; bein a wumman, o coorse she kent naethin aboot the politics, an it never entered into her heid that aa I haed to dae wisna as simple as A B buff. She said that hangin wis ower guid for Tod-Lowrie, or ony ither man that wad lay a finger on the kirk; an if he cam up to Cauldshiel, she wad send him hame wi a flee in his lug that wad gar him mind the day for a while. "A Queen's Coonsellor he caas himsel, the dirty thief!" says she; "guid peety the Queen gin she lippens to ony sic coonsellors; she'll be but ill guidit, puir body!"

It wis a dowg's life I led amang them aa, late an air--ane efter anither speerin at me what side I wis gaun to tak, an this ane sayin, "Ye'll shuirly no desert the kirk?" an that ane sayin, "Ye'll shuirly never vote for a Tory?" Wullie Herkis, an Dave Daagleish, an Robbie Dodds, an Adam Instant, an a wheen mair o them, were aye at me seekin my advice, for they said their wits were fair jummilt--whan they heard Tod-Lowrie, they thocht it wad dae the kirk a heap o guid to be disestaiblished; an syne again, whan they heard the minister, they thocht it wad be perfect ruination. That ill-gien deevil An'ra Wabster never missed a chance o haein a jag at me, miscaain me for a turncoat, an a rinawa, an scodgy to the laird, an aa the rest o't. An Archie Howden wad argy wi me by the hoor, waggin his white pow, an makkin oot Tod-Lowrie to be raither waur nor Auld Nick himsel. Mony's the time I'm shuir I wushed them aa at the back o beyont.

But the ane that tried me sairest wis Geordie Runciman the carrier. It wisna that Geordie said that muckle: if he haed, I coud ha gien him as guid again. It wis his nesty, smudgin, snirtin wey, an the slee leuks he cuist at me oot the tail o his een, that whiles gart me wush I haed ne'er been made an elder, an syne I micht ha taen a sweir to mysel, an coonted it nae hairm. Brawly I kent what the Frees were up til. They didna want to gie tongue ower lood, for fear o spilin the gemme; but they were like to jump oot o their skins at the prospeck o gettin the kirk pou'd doun, an oor ain members to dae their dirty wark. I thocht it middlin queer, if disestaiblishment wis to be for the guid o the kirk, as Tod-Lowrie said, that the Frees shoud be sae desperate keen to bring it on; an the sicht o Geordie Runciman, gaun aboot as hie as Gilderoy, an leukin as if the hale pairish belanged til him, wis maist eneuch to drive a body into votin Tory.

"Weel, elder," says he to me, ae day I met in wi him, "hae ye heard aboot the grand discoorse we haed frae oor minister last Sabbath?"

"No, deacon," says I, "I haena heard o't; I thocht he wis in the auld hech-how, aye pechin throu Chronicles."

"Na, na," says he, "he's duin wi Chronicles lang syne; his text wis oot o Jeremiah, an a maist impressive sermon he gied us."

"Ay?" says I; "an what wis his text?"

"I'll gie ye't as near as I can," says he; "it wis aboot Moab--'We hae heard o the pride o Moab: Moab haes been at ease frae his youth, he haes settled on his lees, an haesna been tuimed oot frae vessel to vessel: the horn o Moab is cuttit aff an his airm is broken: O ye that dwall in Moab, leave the cities, an dwall in the rock, an be like the doo that bigs her nest in the hole o the rock. '"

"Losh keep us!" says I; "if the sermon wis as lang-tailed as the text, I no wonder it impressed ye! An whae micht Moab be, Geordie?"

"Moab wis your kirk," says he.

"An whae wis the doo?" says I; "your ane, I'm thinkin?"

"Ay," says he; "he said it wis juist a leevin pictur o the Kirk o the Disruption--the doo that biggit her nest in the hole o the rock."

"A bonny-like doo!" says I; "gin he haed said a hoodie-craw, sittin on a dyke by a faan yowe, an shairpenin its beak to pike her banes, he wad ha been nearer the bit, to my mind. An ye can tell yer minister frae me no to be in ower big a hurry. Muckle mey faa atween the cap an the lip. The Auld Kirk's no juist what ye micht caa deid; she's got a kick or twa left in her. We're no braxy yet, Geordie, my man!"--That wis what I said til him; but aa the same, I wis gey dram-hertit, seein the wey things were gaun.

Ye maunna think the kirk pairty sat still an did naethin, aa the time this wis gaun on. Tod-Lowrie's speech haed gien the alairm wi a vengeance, an what wi peteetions, an leagues, an lecturs, an defence meetins, an letters to the papers, an prentit screeds poored in upon ye eneuch to paper a room wi--they raised plenty o stour, onyway, whether they did muckle guid or no.

We haed a session meetin on the heid o't--ye shoud ha seen the wey auld Liddell o Wedderlairs keepit his ee nailed on me, like a cat watchin a moose--an the minister spak til us raal sensible, as he aye did. He said he haed keepit quiet on the subjeck, up till noo, for he haed nae belief in rinnin ram-stam into agitation, an bleezin awa aa yer pouther afore the day o battle cam. But there wis nae denyin things were gettin saerious; the minds o the folk were bein unsettled, an filled wi ae-sided an misleadin statements, no to caa them waur; an we buid to mak a staun, an bring hame the truith aboot the Kirk to them that haed her fate in their hauns, an that wad hae to dree the dirdum gin ony scaith cam til her. Syne Liddell said--aye glowrin at me--that ony man that didna support the kirk in her hoor o need desairved to get his paiks in this warld, an a het corner in the neist, atween Judas Iscariot an the Fause Menteith: but forby this, there wisna a wird oot o jint spoken in the session.

We agreed to hae a meetin o the congregation on an early day. It wis weel attendit, an twa-three minister bodies gied addresses, aboot the teinds, an the humbug o releegious equality, an the history o the kirk, an aa she haed duin for Scotland. The folk appeared to listen weel eneuch, but bein in the kirk they didna like to mak muckle noise, an I canna say the meetin wis sae herty as Tod-Lowrie's ane in the public ha. Syne oor ain man said that he haed a paper wi him, an aabody that wushed weel to the kirk micht sign it afore the meetin skailled; an the maist feck o them gaed up an pat doun their names, an Jess an me amang them.

Aboot this time the minister gied a coorse o sermons that set aa the tongues in the pairish waggin. I mind some o his texts yet. There wis ane frae the text, "For whilk o thae things div ye stane me?"--a grand ane it wis, aa aboot the debt that Scots folk awed to their kirk, for staunin up for their richts an liberties, an makkin them what they were; an the ill peyment it wad be to gang an disestaiblish her. An there wis anither frae the text, "Naebody can enter intil a strang man's hoose, an spile his guids, excep' he first bin' the strang man, an syne he wull spile his hoose"--an he telt us the kirk wis aa nicht, an abuin the reach o hairm, gin her ain sons thocht for themsels, an didna juist gie themsels ower, bund haun an fit, to ony poleetical leader or pairty. An there wis anither frae the text, "I haena spoken in secret, in a dark place o the yirth:" that wis aboot the testimony the kirk haed aye upliftit, in an open an abuinbuird wey; no like her enemies, that worked ablo-grund like moudies, an confuized the minds o the folk, an left them sittin like craws in a mist. An there wis anither frae the text, "An Haman said unto the king, Let it be written that they mey be destroyed, an I wull pey ten thoosand talents o siller intil the hauns o them that hae the chairge o the business"--that wis aboot disendowment, an the sair wrang it wad dae to the kirk; an there wis nae dout the portrait he gied us o Haman haed an unco likeness to Tod-Lowrie. But the ane I likit best o aa wis frae the text, "Remember the children o Edom in the day o Jerusalem, hoo they said, Rase it, rase it, even to the fundation thereof." What wad I no ha gien to hae haed Geordie Runciman in oor kirk that day, to hear that sermon! The Frees got their wheeps, I can tell ye; he wisna mealy-mou'd wi them. Tamson wi his Moab cam a hunder mile ahint, for he haed naethin like the same command o language, an aa his notion o preachin wis juist to dad the beuk an skirl his text ower an ower again. Ye mey say what ye like aboot Broun, but he wis a fell preacher; gey ill to rouze, but aince ye haed fairly crossed him, there wisna his marrow for layin it on. It wis a waly hammer he swung, an my certy, whan he brocht it doun, he gart the stiddy dirl an the sparks flee.

An'ra Wabsten wis in an awfu funk at thae sermons. He said they were poleetical; an it wis naethin short o scandalous an ootrageous for ony minister, mair especially ane that wis peyed by the state, to bring politics into the poupit. He said hoo coud the Tories hae the face to set up a howl aboot the Irish priests tellin the folk what wey to vote, whan the vera same thing wis bein duin at oor ain doors? He said he wad lift his lines, an the first time he cam across the minister he wad gie him a bit o his mind into the bargain; no that he ever did aither the tane or the tither. For my pairt, I haed nae faut to fin' wi the sermons. I coudna see, an I canna see yet, what wey the Free an the U. P. ministers shoud get leave to nin awa wi the mear, an oor anes be caad thieves for nae mair nor leukin ower the dyke. If it wisna politics to hae a fling at the kirk, what wey shoud it be politics to pit in a wird for her?