William Chambers.

Chambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) online

. (page 23 of 59)
Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 23 of 59)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

shillings than they had ever got for the produce of one week
before that lucky day.

"What say you?" cried the wife of auld John Smith ; "are
the markets sae muckle risen ? That's gude news indeed."

" I didna say that the markets were risen," returned the
maid ; " but we never g'ot sae muckle for our butter nor our
cheese, by a penny i' the pund weight, as I got the day. A' the
best folks in the town were striving* for it. I could hae sold
twice as muckle at the same price."

" Ye had need to be weel paid for it," said Sandy Johnston's
mother, " for I fear ye had but sma' quantity to sell."

" We never had sae muckle in ae week before," said Grizzy ;
" for you see," continued she, " the milk used aye to sour before
it had stood half its time ; but noo the milk dishes are a' sae
clean, that it keeps sweet to the last."

" And dinna ye think muckle o' the fash ?" said Mrs Smith.

" I thought muckle o't at first," returned Grizzy ; " but when
I got into the way o't, I fand it nae trouble at a'."

" But how do ye find time to get through sae muckle wark f *
said the widow Johnston.



" I never," answered Grizzy, " got through my wark sae easy
in my life ; for ye see Mrs Mason has just a set time for ilka
turn ; so that folk are never rinnin' in ane anither's gait ; and
everything is set by clean, ye see, so that it's just ready for use."

" She maun hae an unco airt," said Mrs Macclarty, " to gar
ye do sae muckle, and think sae little o't. I'm sure ye ken how
you used to grumble at being put to do far less. But I didna
bribe ye wi' half-croon pieces as she does."

" It's no the half-croon she gae me that gars me speak," cried
Grizzy ; " but I sail always say that she is a most discreet and
civil person, ay, and ane that taks a pleasure in doing gude. I
am sure, mistress, she has done mair gude to you than ye can
e'er repay, gif ye were to live this hunder year."

" I sail ne'er say that she hasna been very kind," returned
Mrs Macclarty ; " but, thank the Lord, a' body has shown kind-
ness as weel as her. It's no lessenin' o' her to say that we hae
other freends forby."

" Freends ! " repeated Grizzy ; " what hae a' your freends
done for you in comparison wi' what she has done, and is e'now
doing for you? Ay, just e'now, while I am speaking. But I
forget that she charged me no to tell."

Grizzy, however, was led to explain that Sandy having de-
serted, was doomed to be shot, and that Mrs Mason, who was
acquainted with his commanding officer, had gone to procure, if
possible, a remission of his sentence.

The suspense in which poor Mrs Macclarty was now involved
with respect to her son's destiny appeared more insupportable
than the most dreadful certainty. The stream of consolation
that was poured upon her by her loquacious friends only seemed
to add to her distress. She made no answer to their observa-
tions, but, with her eyes eagerly bent towards the door, she
fearfully listened to the sound of every passing footstep. At
length the approach of horses was distinctly heard. Her maid
hastily ran to the door for intelligence ; and the old women,
whose curiosity was no less eager, as hastily followed. The poor
mother's heart grew faint. Her head drooped upon her hands,
and a sort of stupor came over her senses. She sat motionless
and silent ; nor did the entrance of the minister and Mrs Mason
seem to be observed. Mrs Mason, who at a glance perceived
that the sickness was the sickness of the mind, kindly took her
hand, and bade her be of good cheer, for that, if she would
recover, all her family would do well.

"Is he to live?" said Mrs Macclarty in a low and hollow
voice, fixing her eyes on Mrs Mason's, as if expecting to read in
them the doom of her son.

" Give thanks to God," returned the minister, who had accom-
panied Mrs Mason ; " your son lives ; God and his judges have
dealt mercifully with him and you."

On hearing these blessed words, the poor agitated mother


grasped Mrs Mason's hands, and burst into a flood of tears.
The spectators were little less affected : a considerable time
elapsed before the silence that ensued was broken. At length, in
faltering- accents, the widow asked whether she might hope to
see her son again? It was explained to her that this was
impossible, and that the farm must be conducted by Robert, her
second son.

This arrangement was no improvement, as it soon appeared, on
a former state of affairs. The young" farmer, unrestrained by his
mother, behaved so rudely to Mrs Mason, that she resolved to
seek a lodging* elsewhere. Disappointed in finding a home in
the house of her kinswoman, she now applied to William
Morison and his wife, who lived in the village, to be taken as a
lodger. They were poor, and therefore the small sum she
could afford to pay might to them be particularly useful. They
were humble, and therefore would not refuse to be instructed in
matters which they had never before had any opportunity to
learn. She mig-ht, then, do good to them and to their children ;
and where she could do most good, there did Mrs Mason think
it would be most for her happiness to go.

No sooner did she g'ive a hint of her intention to Morison and
his wife, than she perceived, from their brightened looks, that
she had judged truly in imagining- that her offer would be
received with joy. These poor people had been sorely visited by
affliction ; but their good principles and good sense had taught
them to make a proper use of the visitation, in checking the
spirit of pride and presumption. Their resignation to the will of
God was cheerful and unfeigned, and therefore led to redoubled
efforts of industry ; but their exertions had not as yet effectually
relieved them from the extreme poverty to which they had been
reduced. After gratefully acknowledging their sense of Mrs
Mason's kindness in giving* their house a preference, and
declaring how much they deemed themselves honoured by
having her beneath their roof, they looked at each other and
paused, as if struck by the sudden recollection of some invincible
obstacle. Mrs Mason perceived their embarrassment, and asked
the cause.

There was a deficiency of furniture ; but Mrs Mason obviated
every difficulty by saying that she meant to furnish her own
apartment ; and after a little further conversation, in which
everything was arranged to mutual satisfaction, she set out on
her return to the farm, animated by the delightful hope of
having it in her power to dispense a degree of happiness to her

After a visit of a few months to her friends at Gowan-brae,
Mrs Mason returned to Glenburnie. When she arrived at
Morison's cottage, she was received with a cordial welcome, to
the comforts of " a blazing ingle and a clean hearth-stane." On
examining" her own apartment, she was delighted to find that



evepything was arransred to her wish, and far beyond her
expectations ; nor could she persuade herself that her room had
not undergone some very material and expensive alteration.
This striking improvement was, however, merely the result of a
little labour and attention; but so great was the effect thus
produced, that though the furniture was not nearly so costly as
the furniture of her room at Mrs Macclarty's, it appeared in all
respects superior.

Mrs Morison was highly gratified by the approbation bestowed
upon her labours ; and, pointing to her two little girls, told Mrs
Mason how much they had done to forward the work, and that
they were proud to find her pleased with it. Mrs Mason thanked
them, and presented each with a ribbon, as an encouragement for
good behaviour, assuring them at the same time that they
would through life find happiness the reward of usefulness.
" Alas ! " said Mrs Morison, " they must be obliged to work : puir
things, they have naething else to depend upon."

" And on what can they depend so well as on their own
exertions?" replied Mrs Mason: "let them learn to excel in
what they do, and look to the blessing of God upon their labours,
and they may then pity the idle and the useless."

" If you could but g*et my poor gudeman to think in that
way," said Peggy, " your coming to us would indeed be a bless-
ing to our family."

" Fear not," said Mrs Mason ; " as his health amends, his
spirits will return, and in the good providence of God he will
find some useful opening for his industry. Who ever saw the
righteous man forsaken, or the righteous man's children either,
so long as they walked in their father's steps 1 But now I must
give some directions to my two little handmaids, whose attend-
ance I shall take week about. I see they are willing, and they
will soon be able to do all that I require."

" I'll answer for their being willing," cried their mother,
looking fondly at the girls ; " but ye winna tak it ill if they
shouldna just fa' at ance into your ways."

" If they are willing," said Mrs Mason, " they will soon learn
to do everything in the best way possible. All I want of them
is to save themselves trouble, by getting into the habit of mind-
ing what they have to do. Any one who is willing may soon
become a useful servant by attending to three simple rules."
*• To three rules ? " cried Peggy, interrupting her ; " that's odd,
indeed. But my gudeman maun hear this. Come, William, and
hear Mrs Mason tell our lassies a' the duties of a servant."

" I fear the kail will be cauid before she gets through them
all," said William, smiling ; " but I am ready to listen to her
though it should."

" Your patience v/on't be long tried," said Mrs Mason ; " for I
have already told your girls, that in order to make good servants,
they have only to attend to three simple rules."


'' Well, what are they ? " said the husband and wife, speaking*
hoth at once.

" They are," returned Mrs Mason, " to do everything in


" Well said ! " cried William ; " and as I live, these same rules
would mak a weel-ordered house. My lassies shall get them
by heart, and repeat them ilka morning- after they say their

William kept his word; and Mrs Mason, finding that she
would be supported by the parents, did not despair of being
truly useful to the children, by conveying to them the fruits of
her experience. Mrs Morison was a neat orderly person, and
liked to see her house and children what she called weel redd up ;
but her notions of what was necessary to comfort fell far short
of Mrs Mason's ; neither had she been accustomed to that
thorough-going cleanliness which is rather the fruit of habitual
attention than of periodical labour, and which, like the pure
religion that permits not the accumulation of unrepented sins
upon the conscience, makes holiday of every day in the week.
Mrs Morison was a stranger to the pride which scorns instruc-
tion. She did not refuse to adopt methods that were better
than her own, merely because they were new ; nor, though she
loved her children as fondly and as dearly as any mother in the
world, did she ever defend their faults. But as her children
were early inspired with a desire to please, they did not often
stand in need of correction, and stood more in awe of their
father's fro^\'n than those who have been nurtured in self-will
stand in awe of the most severe beating.

Mrs Mason had not been many weeks a resident in the family,
till the peculiar neatness of William's cottage attracted the notice
of the neighbours. The proud sneered at what they called the
pride of the Morisons ; the idle wondered how folk could find
time for sic useless wark ; and the lazy, Avhile they acknow-
ledged that they would like to live in the same comfort, drew
in their chairs to the fire, and said they coiildna he fashed.

By the interest of Mrs Mason, William Morison was appointed
schoolmaster in the villag-e, a situation for which he was well
fitted, and Mrs Mason took upon herself the duty of school-
mistress to the girls. The benefit of the improved instruction
now given to the children was soon perceptible, and praised by
everybody but poor Mrs Macclarty. When she observed the
thriving appearance of the Morisons, and how fast they were
rising into notice and respect, her heart was torn between envy
and regret. Far was she, however, from imputing to herself
any blame ; she, on the contrary, believed all the blame to rest
with Mrs Mason, who was so unnatural as to leave her own
relations, " and to tak up wi' strang'ers, who were neither kith
nor kin to her ; " nor did she omit any opportunity of railing



at the pride of the schoolmaster's wife and daughters, who, she
said, " were now sae saucy, as to pretend that they couldna sit
down in comfort in a hoose that wasna clean soopit." She for
a time found many among* the neighbours who readily acquiesced
in her opinions, and joined in her expression of contempt ; but
by degrees the strength of her party visibly declined. Those
who had their children at school were so sensible of the rapid
improvement that had been made in their tempers and manners,
as well as in their learning, that they could not help feeling
some gratitude to their instructors; and Mrs Mason, having
instructed the girls in needlework, without any additional chaise,
added considerably to their sense of obligation. Even the old
women, who, during the first summer, had most bitterly ex-
claimed against the pride of innovation, were by mid-winter
inclined to alter their tone. How far the flannel waistcoats and
petticoats distributed among them contributed to this change
of sentiment, cannot be positively ascertained ; but certain it is,
that as the people were coming from church the first fine day
of the following spring, all stopped a few moments before the
school-house, to inhale the fragrance of the sweetbrier, and to
admire the beauty of the crocuses, primroses, and violets which
embroidered the borders of the grass-plot. Mrs Macclarty, who,
in great disdain, asked auld John Smith's wife " what a' the
folks were glowering at," received for answer that they were
" looking at the bonniest sight in the town," pointing at the same
time to the spot.

" Eh ! " returned Mrs Macclarty, " I wonder what the warld
will come to at last, since naething can serve the pride o' William
Morison but to hae a flower garden whar gude Mr Brown's
midden-stead stood sappy for mony a day ! He's a better man
than will ever stand on William M orison's shanks."

" The flowers are a hantel bonnier than the midden though,
and smell a hantel sweeter too, I trow," returned Mrs Smith.

This striking indication of a change of sentiment in the most
sturdy stickler for the gude auld gaits, foreboded the improve-
ments that were speedily to take place in the village of Glen-
burnie. These had their origin in the spirit of emulation
excited among the elder schoolboys for the external appearance
of their respective homes. The girls exerted themselves with
no less activity to efiect a reformation within doors ; and so
successful were they in their respective operations, that by the
time the Earl of Longlands came to take possession of Hill
Castle, when he, accompanied by his two sisters, came to visit
Mrs Mason at Glenburnie, the village presented such a picture
of neatness and comfort, as excelled all that in the course of
their travels they had seen. The carts which used formerly to
be stuck up on end before every door, were now placed in
wattled sheds attached to the gable-end of the dwelling, and
which were rendered ornamental from their coverings of honey-


suckle or ivy. The bright and clear glass of the windows was
seen to advantage peeping through the foliage of the rose trees
and other flowering shrubs that were trimly nailed against the
walls. The gardens on the other side were kept with equal care.
There the pot-herb flourished. There the goodly rows of bee-
hives evinced the efiects of the additional nourishment afforded
their inhabitants, and showed that the flowers were of other
use besides regaling the sight or smell.

Mrs Mason, at the request of her visitors, conducted them
into several of the cottages, where, merely from the attention
paid to neatness, all had the air of cheerfulness and contentment.
She was no less pleased than were the cottagers at the expres-
sions of approbation which were liberally bestowed by her
admiring friends, who particidarly noticed the dress of the
young women, which, equally removed from the slovenliness
in which so many indulge on working days, as from the absurd
and preposterous attempt at fashion which is on Sundays so
generally assumed, was remarkable for neatness and simplicity.

Mrs Mason continued for some years to give her assistance
to Morison in conducting the school, which was now increased
by scholars from all parts of the country ; and was amply repaid
for her kindness by the imdeviating gratitude of the worthy
couple and their children, from whom she experienced a constant
increase of friendship and affection.

The happy effects of their joint effbrts in improving the hearts
and dispositions of the youth of both sexes, and in confirming
them in habits of industry and virtue, were so fully displayed,
as to aff'ord the greatest satisfaction to their instructors. To
have been educated at the school of Glenburnie was considered
as an ample recommendation to a servant, and implied a secu-
rity for truth, diligence, and honesty. And fortunate was the
lad pronounced whose bride could boast of the tokens of Mrs
Mason's favour and approbation ; for never did these fail to be
followed by a conduct that insured happiness and prosperity.

The events that took place among the Macclarty family may
now be briefly noticed. The first of these was Rob Macclarty's
taking to wife the daughter of a smuggler, a man of notoriously
bad character, who, it was said, tricked him into a marriage.
Mrs Macclarty's opposition was violent, but abortive, and ended
in an irreconcilable quarrel between her and her son. On being
turned out of his house, she went to reside in a country town in
the neighbourhood with her daughters, who were employed by
a manufacturer in flowering muslin. Their gains were con-
siderable ; but as all they earned was laid out in finery, it only
added to their vanity and pride. Meg's bad conduct finally
obliged her to leave the place, and Jean, as I learn from an
account sent to me, married a cousin, who kept an inn of the
true Macclarty order on the road.

On entering this place of entertainment, everything appears



dirty and comfortless. A passage sprinkled with sand leads
you into apartments where you observe the tables to be covered
with marks of liquor; and the chairs you will probably find
it advisable to dust before sitting down : this will be done by
the sturdy servant g'irl who, bare-legged, and with untied
nightcap and scanty bedgown, will, soon after your arrival,
hurry into the room with a shovelful of coals as a kindling
for your fire. The attendance is as bad as it possibly can be.
The waiters are of both sexes, and all are equally ingenious in
delay. It is a rule of the house that your bell shall never
be answered twice by the same person. If you dine at Mr
Macclartj'-'s, I shall not anticipate the pleasure of your meal,
farther than to assure you, that you may depend on having
here the largest and fattest mutton, and that though it should
not be absolutely roasted to a cinder, the vegetables will not
be more than half-boiled. In order to obtain a complete notion
of this curiously-managed inn, you must not only dine, but
sleep and breakfast there. The beds, from their dampness, are
tidmirably calculated to give rheumatisms ; and as for breakfast,
you must not expect it to be on the table in less than an hour
from the time of your ordering it, even althoug'h every one of
the waiters should promise it in five minutes. At length one
bustles in with the tea equipage, and roast swimming in butter.
After a lapse of time, another appears with the tea-kettle, which
he leaves on the hearth till he goes in search of the tea ; and
so on. Everything is served in detachments, and in a manner
calculated to try the temper of travellers. Damp beds, bad
•cookery, wretched attendance, and slovenliness in everything,
are rapidly causing- a general desertion of the establishment,
and impending ruin threatens this last branch of the old and
respectable stock of the Macclartys. A rival house has been
set up by a late scholar of Mrs Mason, and as it is conducted
with care for the comfort of travellers, and with the most scru-
pulous regard for cleanliness, it is attracting all the trade to
itself — furnishing another example of the advantages of acti-
vity and prudence over that slothfulness which leaves every-
thing to be done to-morrow, and excuses itself by that per-
verse and self-indulgent phrase of Mrs Macclarty — I canna be



•^ NE morning" in the month of Aug-ust 1789, a man
% and a child were walking* through the extensive and
Li beautiful park of Rambouillet — a royal residence,
^ thirty -six miles south-west of Paris. The man,
^thoug-h of'^a somewhat bulky frame, was yet in the prime
of life, and had a mild and distinguished countenance. His
simple style of dress did not indicate the precise rank
-V^^ which he held in society, yet his aquiline nose, his majesty
of air, as well as the broad blue ribbon visible between his white
waistcoat and lace frill, marked him as one of the royal family.
As for the child, he was remarkable for almost angelic beauty
and his clustering curls of fair hair which hung over his open
neck and shoulders. About four years and five months old,
but, like all precocious children, taller than usual at that age,
he bore in his features an air of bright intelligence, shaded,
however, as some would think, with a stamp of melancholy
unsuitable to his years. Gay and lively in the extreme, his
animal spirits were at one moment in wild exuberance ; in the
next his mood chang-ed to deep depression. His bright blue
eyes had the irresistible charm of having their brilliance softened
by a pensiveness of expression, calculated to interest all who
looked on his fair countenance.

The man was Louis XVI., King of France, the child was his
sen, Louis-Charles, the dauphin.

No. 47. I


" Louis," said the king, " to-morrow is tlie queen's birthday^
and you must think of something- new for her bouquet, and com-
pose some little compliment."

" Papa," replied the young prince quickly, " I have a beautiful
everlasting- in my garden, and it will just do for my bouquet
and my compliment too. When presenting it to mamma, I can
say, ' Mamma, I wish that you may be like this flower.'"

" Very good, indeed, my child," said the king, pressing his
little hand which he held in his. " How much I wish that your
conduct was always as satisfactory as your little sallies are pleas-
ing and full of heart ! I grieve to have heard that while study-
ing your lesson with your tutor yesterday, you began to hiss.
Was this as it ought to be, Louis 1 "

" What would you have me do, papa ?" replied Louis with a'n,
arch smile ; " I said my lesson so badly, that I hissed myself."

" What was the abbe explaining to you?" said the king.

" It was the use of the compass, and I own to you, papa, that I
am just now greatly puzzled about it. I scarcely heard a word
he said. All the time he was speaking, I was thinking how the
sun would be burning up my garden and my beautiful flowers,
and I was longing to get out to water them ; so Monsieur the
abbe will be very angry with me to-morrow, for I do not re-
member a single syllable. If you have time, papa, could you not
tell me all about it while we are walking?"

" With pleasure, Louis," answered the king, " particularly as
I happen to have a small compass in my pocket. Before, how-
ever, attempting to explain this curious instrument, I must tell
you something of the magnet, from which its power and use-
fulness are derived. The only natural magnet with which we
are acquainted is the loadstone — a mineral of a dark iron gray
colour approaching- to black, found in great abundance in the
iron mines of Sweden, in some parts of the East, in America, and
sometimes, though rarely, among the iron ores of England. Now,
the loadstone has a property of attracting iron, which it draws
into contact with its own mass and holds firmly attached by its

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 23 of 59)