Peter Mackenzie.

Old reminiscences of Glasgow and the west of Scotland : containing the trial of Thomas Muir ... (Volume 1) online

. (page 46 of 48)
Online LibraryPeter MackenzieOld reminiscences of Glasgow and the west of Scotland : containing the trial of Thomas Muir ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 46 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Jean, the youngest of the two sisters, would soon be
restored to her wonted reason, but a sudden message came
to us one day, by their servant girl (for they had now a
servant attending them they had many such in former
times), conveying their compliments, and entreating that
we should pay them an immediate visit, if convenient.
We obeyed the call, and were shocked to see such a strange
and sudden alteration in Jean's placid countenance. She
gave one convulsive sob, and then gently closed her eyes
in death, ere we were many minutes in the sick-room.
On the 30th July, 1848, we laid her head in the silent
grave, beside her brother, the Lieutenant, in the Ram's
Horn Church-yard of this city.

Poor Ann, the survivor, mourned sadly. She was now
the last of the race of this extraordinary family. But
before we end the story with her death, soon afterwards,
we have to narrate a most remarkable fact, which should,
probably, have been done at an earlier period of this
chapter.

Colonel Hamilton lost all his valuable luggage on the
field of Waterloo. Two days after that bloody battle his
body was discovered, and recognised, amongst the slain.
His pockets had been rifled, for it is a well-known fact
that stragglers from Brussels, and other places, had gone
out to pillage the field, and empty the pockets of every
dead officer they could find. His rings and valuable gold



REKINISCENCES OF GLASGOW. 605

watch were gone. His trusty sword was also gone it
had probably done execution enough but the scabbard
remained, with the SILKEN SASH, upon his body ; and that
Red Silken Sash was carefully transmitted to Mr. Swan,
as agent of the deceased, in Edinburgh, by whom it was
transmitted to the only one who was best entitled to it,
viz., Lieut. John Anderson, the Colonel's lawful and only
surviving brother, who was dying of his own wounds in
the city of Glasgow. That Red Silken Sash, belonging
to, and found upon the body of Lieut.-Colonel Hamilton,
commanding the Scots Greys at Waterloo, is actually in
our possession at the present moment! It is not the first
time, these many long years, that we have saluted it with
reverential esteem; nor may it be out of place for us to tell,
in a few words, the affecting circumstances which brought
it into our possession, and entitles us to hold it, as no
mean part, but rather one of the most honourable parts of
our slender but cherished inheritance.

The sole surviving sister, Ann, was now evidently fast
hastening to her grave, with grief for her departed sister.
She earnestly requested to be permitted to come to our
house, and spend an hour or two, on one particular after-
noon it was the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo ;
and that we would be good enough to have all the young
members of our family assembled, that she might again
have the pleasure of seeing them, probably, she said, for
the last time. She was always welcomed by every one
of our then happy household. On this occasion she was
particularly calm and dignified. She soon rose from her
seat, and carefully unrolling a white linen handkerchief,
which, obviously, contained something of importance in
her eyes for there was more than one handkerchief
around it and her hands shook as if she were afraid to in-



COG REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW.

jure it; the tears, moreover, were streaming down her pale
cheeks, and she asked pardon for the seeming intrusion.
At last she took out and exhibited the rich Red Silken
Military Sash of her lamented brother, the Colonel ; and,
gazing vacantly on it for a moment or two, she breathed
a silent prayer, and then addressed us in nearly the
following words, which have ever since been, vividly
impressed on our memory " Dear Mr. Mackenzie, this,
you see, was my brother's SASH, and I have come to give
it to you and your family, as the last remains we t2ve of
him. I have already given you all the papers we had
preserved. We have been robbed and plundered, and
stripped of everything in this world, but our good name.
You, dear sir, you, a total stranger to us saved my
sister, and you have also saved myself, from the depths
of misery and woe. We had shut ourselves up to die,
when you found us out on that Saturday afternoon long
ago. Through your great kindness, with that of Mr.
Dreghorn and other friends, we have, under God, been
saved. In the silent watches of the nio;ht, we have often

o '

spoken about you I need not say how and often
wondered how you came to take such an interest in us.
This, you see, was my darling brother's Sash he wore it
on the last day of battle [here she sobbed aloud] ; it is the
only reward I can confer on you, please to take it, dear
sir [and she impressed it into our hands with great agita-
tion]; I give it to you with a sore, sore heart, but with a
willing and a grateful one; and, after I am away, I beg
and pray of you to do the same duty for me which you
did for my sister Jean, by laying me beside her; you
are the only one I know or can ask to do this ; and per-
haps your children, and others, will learn the sad story of
my brothers, which you so well know!"



KEMTNISCEISTCES OP GLASGOW. G07

After this most affecting scene, the like of which, we
venture to think, has never been surpassed in all its strange
varieties in this generation in the city of Glasgow, she
went away and got the following Deed prepared, which
stands recorded in the Sheriff"- Court books of Glas-
gow

I, ANN ANDEBSON, presently residing in Gorbals, sister of the late
Lieutenant- Colonel James Inglis Hamilton, do hereby assign, dispone,
convey, and make over, from and after my death, to Mr. Peter
Mackenzie, Editor of the Glasgow Gazette, and to Mr. David Dreg-
horn, one of the Magistrates of Glasgow, and to their heirs or assignees,
all my means and estate of whatever kind; and, in particular, the
lairs of burying-ground now belonging to me, in right of my family,
in the Ram's Horn (or St. David's) Parish of Glasgow, and that in
consideration of Mr. Mackenzie's great kindness to me, and the
sums of money they have advanced for me and my late sister,
during the last ten years; and I hereby constitute and appoint
the said Peter Mackenzie and David Dreghorn, to be my sole
executors, with all the powers competent to them therein. In
witness whereof I have subscribed this disposition and deed of
settlement, written by Robt. Brown, teacher, No. 28 Eglinton
Street, without fee or reward, at Glasgow, this 28th day of June,
1849, before these witnesses, Patrick Millar, clerk in Glasgow, and
the said Robert Brown.

(Signed) ANN ANDERSON.

PATRICK MILLAR, Witness.

ROBERT BROWN, "Witness.

Within a very few weeks thereafter, she calmly died,
and in obedience to her solemn request though not in
the most distant degree related to her family at all, but
only acting throughout from a becoming sense of public
and private duty we quietly laid her head in the silent
grave, beside the hallowed remains of her father and
mother, her brothers and sisters, in the Eam's Horn
Church-yard of Glasgow. The mourners were, indeed,



608 REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW.

few, but select. After the sable hearse, containing the
body, there was only one mourning coach, containing Mr.
Dreghorn, Mr. William Gilmour, one of the Magistrates
of the city, Mr. Brown, the missionary of the parish, and
the humble writer of these reminiscences, who feels that
he has already detained his readers too long with this
chapter; nor is he without fear that some sour, waspish, or
ill-natured people may blame him for introducing so much
into it about himself. His real fear, however, only is,
that he has really not been able to write it in the polished
language which some of its incidents deserved; but he
boldly challenges any human being to controvert the
truth of the facts he has stated ; and he is somewhat
hopeful that many of the virtuous fathers and mothers of
Glasgow the happy young ladies, and the promising
youths of the city will read the story here given of
Colonel Hamilton and his sisters, with some interest, and
no dread.

The following lines, in Miss Anderson's album, we
in conclusion, take leave to transcribe

Shadow lieth over all,
Sorrow holdeth festival,
Dimmed are our eyes by tears that fall

On dreary paths below:
Wearily through earth we roam,
Trouble -toss'd, like tempest foam;
Longing for the rest of home,

Where we so lingering go.

Hopes, of youth and vigour born,
Lit and cheered our way at morn ;
Ere noontide vanish'd, all forlorn
We pilgrimage below :



REMINISCENCES OP GLASGOW. 609

Streaming far on Faith's keen eye,
Beacon-lights burn brilliantly,
Kindled on heaven's turrets high,
To guide us where to go.

Friendships counted fast and true,
When our trusting hearts were new,
Transient pass, as sun-dyed dew,

Betray our trust below;
Friendship blooms, aye fair and green,
Dwells a brother yet unseen,
On whose love's strong arm may lean

A whole world where we go.

Haste our dearest-loved away;
Youth's bright comrade manhood's stay-
The hope of age, but little way
Attend us here below.
There's no loss in each remove \
'Tis but one more hand of love
Stretched to welcome us above

When in our turn we go !

Seekings trouble all the soul,
Tendings to an unknown pole,
Strainings unto an unreached goal,

Resultless here below;
Here we know not what we feel ;
God our closed sight will unseal
God his secret will reveal,

Where we with yearning go.

Sorrow's teat's, temptation's fights,
Cheated trust that chills and blights,
Turmoiling days and wakeful nights,

Embitter life below:
Calm, unbroken, perfect peace,
Tireless toil, unresting ease,
Joy that ne'er can know decrease,
Reign ever where we go.



610 REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW.

So with steadfast purpose braced
May the storms of life be faced,
The path by love and wisdom traced,

Be followed here below,
That we when we cease to roam
Gathered in God's radiant dome,
May blesr the woes that chased us home
Whence no more out we go I



REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW. 611



CHAPTER XL



MR MESSENGER M'CRONE THE INNOCENT CALDER
.FARMER, AND HIS "HECKLING- WIFE," IN GLAS-
GOW.

REFERENCE has already been made by us, in previous
pages, to the celebrated Mr. James M'Crone, Messenger-
at-Arms, in Glasgow, who was patronised by the Dukes
of Athol, and rose to great eminence in the Isle of Man.
His first practice, however, in Glasgow, was rather of a
rough description, and we have a real tit-bit of a story to
tell about him and a simple farmer, who came into Glas-
gow one day, from the neighbouring parish of Calder, to
do some business in the city.

In order to prevent misconception, however, we may
remark that, fifty or sixty years ago, a good deal of LINT,
or Flax, was grown by the smaller farmers in the neigh-
bourhood of Glasgow; and they brought it into the city,
where it was split up or heckled, as it was called for
the wife's spinning-wheel ; and the manufacturer doing
this was designated " the Heckler" Every farmer's wife,
indeed, of any thrift or consequence and not a few of
the chief ladies in Glasgow had spinning wheels, from



612 REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW.

which was made their best linen sheets, or napery of various
kinds hence the racy old song of "There was an auld wife
had a wee pickle tow." But that old, domestic, pretty little
wooden spinning-wheel is rarely to be seen in any dwell-
ing now. The iron jaws of the picking and scutching
machines, the whirring spinning-jennies, and the rattling
power-looms of the huge flax and cotton mills, have now
superseded these tiny wheels, just as the Kail ways have
superseded the old stage coaches.

Now for our story. There was, at the period referred
to, a douce, decent, canny body of a farmer, in the afore-
said parish of Calder, who occasionally made deposits in
the old Ship Bank of Glasgow, where he had a tolerably
good account for one of his condition, and he was well-
known to the Bank people for his compound of natural
sagacity and simplicity. His wife, however " the old
grey mare," as the saying was, " appeared to be the better
horse."

He was coming in one market-day to the city to lodge
his money snugly in the Bank, but before starting on his
Rosinante in the morning, his thrifty wife laid upon him
the injunction, that when he got to the Bank, and did his
business carefully there, "he would be sure and speir
(inquire) at auld Robin (viz., Robert Carrick, the chief
partner in the Bank), or at Michael (viz., Mr. Michael
Rowand, its manager), or at Lang John (viz., Mr. John
Marshall, its accountant), wha (who) in a' Glaska' they
could safely recommend tae her as the best 'heckler' for
her Lint in the city. She had been 'unco fashed' and dis-
appointed by some of her former 'hecklers' the Bredies
and M'llwham's in Bell Street but she would have a
real active, good one now; and the Bank folks would be
able to give to him (her husband) the best and most



REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW. 613

reliable information and advice upon that (to her) most
important business."

Some of the few young bucks of clerks in the Bank
there were precious few of them at that period were
mightily tickled and amused with John the farmer's
simple request to be supplied with the best "heckler" for
his wife. He replied to some of their waomsh interroo-a-

A OO o

tions, "that Jean, the wife, was really getting very particu-
lar, indeed, about her 'heckling' business; she wanted,"
he repeated, "to employ the very best man in Glasgow
for that purpose, and she would not grudge to pay him
something extra, if he pleased her well, and did the job to
perfection. Their dochter, Jenny," he added with all
the rising emotion of rustic pride and good feeling "was
soon to be married to one of the nephews of the laird of
Kobroyston, in the neighbourhood; and they wanted 'to
set her off' with their best made linen sheets, as clean as
the snaw on Tintock tap." All the Bank people, from the
gravest to the gayest, grouped together, and were mightily
pleased with the farmer's discourse about the 'heckling '
for his wife, so new to them in the midst of their banking
avocations. One of them, the youngest and the merriest,
and perhaps the best of the lot, viz., Mr. George Loudon,
whom we knew in after life, took speech in hand, and,
winking to the others, gravely enough but with perfect
even-down honesty recommended to our friend, the
farmer, "that if he would just step up the length of the
High Street, to Mr. Alexander Leith's stable-yard in that
place, and ask for Sandy himself (well-known as ' Sandy
Leith, the famous horse-couper in Glasgow') that he,
Sandy, who was the best informed man in that line in
Glasgow, would be able to give him the requisite infor-
mation about some of the best 'hecklers' in his immediate

Q2



614 REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW.

neighbourhood ! " The honest farmer, pleased with this
direction, hastened towards Sandy, found him out, and
soon told him his errand,

Now, Sandy was a bit of a wag in his own way. We

formerly introduced him to our readers as an important

witness in the famous Bank Eobbery Case. The tip of his

nose had been bitten off by one of his own horses, which

gave his voice a most peculiar twang ; but he was, withal, a

great favourite with many in Glasgow; and, certainly, he

was the most skilled and extensive horse-couper by far

of any at that time in the city. He saw at once how the

land lay with the honest farmer, so he determined to

have a, joke with him, or out of him, seeing that he had

obviously come indorsed with one from the Bank, in

favour of the best " heckler " in the city. " Feggs," said

Sandy scratching his head to the blunt Calder

farmer, "feggs, my friend, 1 know a famous 'hecJder,

not very far from the stable here he's just up the

street a little bit, see yonder close on the left hand

side;" and the farmer got his eyes upon it at or.ce.

"His name, 3 ' said Sandy, "is Maister James M' Crone.

He does a good stroke of business in the law besides ; but

I can certify, from my own experience of him as many

others that have come across him can do that he is the

best ' heckler/ by far, of any in the city. Just go up and

tell him that you have been recommended to him in that

capacity, and that you wish to engage him to ' heckle ' for

you and the wife as well as he can. Faith he'll ' heckle '

you," said Sandy, smiling now in his own sleeve ; he'll

* heckle ' you, if he gets you, to your heart's content ; he'll

put you, in the first instance, through his fanners with his

hornings, and then he finishes the ' heckling ' process with

his nippers and his captions. No lint or tow from Calder,



REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW. 615

or any other place, car^ slip from his grasp, when once he
gets it ; he'll ding the very stour out of your bonnet,
when he sets his grinders in operation ; and he generally
contrives to finsh his job with fine clean paper never
charging less than sax-and-eightpence for one turn of his
grinding machinery."

The simple farmer was mightily pleased with this
unique and rare description. He said " that Mr. M'Crone
just answered the very description of the kind of ' heckler'
he wanted to get for his wife." "Very well," said
Sandy, " be unco canny, and take care with him at first,
for he's an awful swearer, and the least thing offends him
if it crosses his path in the way of business. He's the
very deevil incarnate, when he takes his fits of cursing
and swearing, but in other ways he's a real decent gentle-
man, though I dinna envy him and his multifarious-
business at all. But see and introduce yourself civilly,
without letting him know that I sent you. Just tell him
quite frankly that you have been recommended to him as
the very best ' heckler' in all Glasgow, and that you have
come to employ him to do your wife's job, and that she
may give him something extra if he does it to her satis-
faction ! But don't call him Mr. M'Crone call him the
' Heckler,' and stick to him by that name, and no other-
till you see whether he undertakes to perform the job."

Away the farmer goes, in his perfect simplicity, to Mr.
M'Crone's Chambers, never imagining that the latter was
a keen messenger-at-arms, or a redoubtable limb of the
law, who had as little to do with lint, in the ' heckling y
line, as he had to do with skinning rabbits in the Tron
steeple !

The fanner, on entering, and respectfully taking off his
bonnet, inquired if " Mr. M'Crone, the ' heckler,' 1 was then



616 REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW.

at hand ? '' Mr. M'Crone himself was then sittino- on his

O

three-legged stool, busy at his desk, conning over some of
his hornings and captions in reality. " I want," said the
farmer, " to see the ' heckler? and employ him on the
wife's business." " The what f" said Mr. M'Crone, now
looking like an aroused lion in his den. " The " Heckler ! "
again bawled the farmer. "The 'heckler,' sir," replied
Mr. M'Crone, biting his lips. " yes ! I've been recom-
mended to you as the best ' heckler ' in a 11 . Glasgow."
' What is that you say, sir ?" said the enraged messenger.
" Haud your temper/' said the docile farmer, " for, you
see, I've just come to employ you to do the ' heckling' this
year for my soncy wife ; she used to employ some feck-
less bodies hereabouts, but I see, from your activity, that
you are the very man to do her job ; will you step out
and take a gill with me, or drink a bottle of porter, on the
head of the business, and we'll settle the terms for the

' heckling/ " " Go to !'' said the enraged messenger.

" Is that the way," said the farmer, " you treat your 'heck-
ling ' customers coming to you with a decent job?" As Mr.
M'Crone grew wroth, the farmer became serious. " I've
been made sensible, ' Mr. Heckler,' before coming here to
see you, that ye are an awful curser and swearer when
you take it into your head, but I insist that you'll under-
take to 'heckle' for my wife ; we will pay you decently
down on the nail, if you do it to her liking." "Get out,
you old lascivious rascal," said the enraged Mr. M'Crone.
" What do you call me ?" said the now astonished farmer.
He only got another tremendous round of cursing and
swearing. " Hoots, toots," said the decent farmer, " will
you really not do the wife's job ? The other ' hecklers ' she
employed bungled the tow, and spoilt her lint a'th'gither
last year; and that's the reason why I have been recom-



REMINISCENCES OP GLASGOW. 617

mended to you as the best ' heckler ' in the city, and I
tell this to your face, you enraged man, on reliable
authority. Peaceably undertake to do the job, and
the wife will come in herself from Calder, and see
you next Wednesday, at any hour you like to fix your-
self."

The fire and fury of the messenger-at-arms knew no
bounds, and could no longer be restrained. It only increased
with aggravated effect, when the farmer bawled out, "
fie ! ' Mr. Heckler/ Oh fie, flyting and cursing at that rate
you're an awful ' heckler,' surely. I never heard the like
of this in all my born days. Whisht, whisht, 'Mr. Heckler,' "
continued the farmer, " you'll frighten the wife a'th'gither
if she comes in to you with her lint ; but 111 warrant
ye'll 'heckle' it weel, if ye but ding half the pith into it
ye have manifested to me. For gudesake, shake hands
peaceably, and I'll probably recommend you to some of
my neighbours in the f heckling ' line."

" Get out of my office, this moment," said the enraged
messenger, now snatching one of the rollers from his desk
in his hand. "Get out, you old lecherous scoundrel,
coming to me in that way, and attempting to deceive and
bring me into scrapes with your wife, whom I never saw,
nor never desire to see between the eyes. Get out, I say."
The farmer's knees began to rattle on his shanks. "I'se
no get out, ' Mr. Heckler,' till you tell me whether you
will do the wife's decent job or no." On that the infuri-
ated messenger aimed a blow at the farmer's head, and
actually drew blood and kicked him down stairs. The
alarmed, assaulted, and astonished farmer instantly
returned to Mr. Leith's stables, to report to him what
manner of man he had introduced him to as the very best
' heckler ' in Glasgow. The simple-minded farmer, not



618 REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW.

calculating on his own expressions, and not supposing
for a moment that they could give the slightest offence
to any human being, proceeded to tell Mr. Leith, and to
exhibit to him the way he had been treated. Sandy, who
was rubbing down one of his own horses in the stable,
heard the unsophisticated narrative of the farmer with a
mixture of gravity and hilarity in double proportion.
" Gude guide us," said Sandy, " is that the way the infernal
* heckler ' has used you, a decent country farmer, from the
parish of Calder?" The farmer wiped his bleeding face,
and exhibited the sleeves of his torn coat. " It's blood
and battery," said Sandy ; "even down blood and battery."
" It's mair than that," said the farmer, " it's defamation
of character, for he called me a lecherous vagabond, in the
presence of three young men sitting in his office." " Come
away down with me," said Sandy, " to Messrs. Bogle &
Gilfillan's office, in St. Andrew's Lane, and I'll soon get
him, niy own clever agent, Mr. Michael Gilfillan (well
known in all the Courts of Glasgow), to souce Mr. James
M'Crone, according to law and justice." The farmer,
smarting under the rude treatment he had experienced,
was not slow to follow that advice, so together they
went to that great legal establishment.

It was just the very case which Michael Gilfillan, with
his legal weapons, liked to pursue. He happened to have
a particular grudge at Mr. M'Crone, and Mr. M'Crone
had no great liking for him, so an action of assythment,
defamation, blood, and battery was expeditiously raised
against Mr. M'Crone alias the "Heckler" before the

o

Commissary of the Commissariat of Glasgow a great
Court in its day for cases of slander, assault, and battery,
but little else. The Commissary-in- Chief was Mr. Erskine,
advocate, afterwards Lord Kinneder, his Depute iu



REMINISCENCES OF GLASGOW. 619

Glasgow was Mr. Thomas Falconer, writer; and the Clerk
of Court was Mr. Benjamin Barton, who often caroused
with Robert Burns, the poet, in Glasgow.

Now Mr. M'Crone with, all his great talents as a
messenger-at-arms, ancl all his well-known dexterity in
apprehending thieves and robbers in the city [he built a
pretty little cottage, called Galloivs-knowe (ominous name),
near Mr. Dixon's iron works] soon began to open his
eyes, and to comprehend the real honest simplicity of the



Online LibraryPeter MackenzieOld reminiscences of Glasgow and the west of Scotland : containing the trial of Thomas Muir ... (Volume 1) → online text (page 46 of 48)