Culture

The Laird O’ Yarpha: Episode 4

When our hero encounters a travelling preacher…….


On another occasion Mansie “foregathered” with an itinerant preacher. Him he considered fair game, and resolved, for the honour of the parish, to put down. He had pitched his camp in one of Mansie’s fields, and congregated a number of the lower orders, to the neglect of their masters’ work.

The laird assailed him on the impropriety of vagabondizing the country: told him to keep the fervour of his zeal within bigget wa’s; hinted something about the sheriff court, and action for trespass.

The pseudo-methodist – for he had only assumed the appellation – retorted with many seemingly pious ejaculations, and poured forth a torrent of quotations relative to the proprietary  of the earth.

“The earth is mine, sir!” exclaimed the indignant laird, his hereditary pride taking the alarm – ” The earth is mine , sire, an’ has been i’ the family time immemorial; but gin’ ye want to argue wi’ scripture, I hae nae objections to that either.”

So to it they went, like two gladiators, each resolved to conquer or perish. Thrust and parry, and parry and thrust, and text met text, in dire collision. The preacher thought he had caught a tartar, and the laird swore he had caught a simpleton.

At length the preacher, in solemn tone, and in high metaphor, said, “Magnus! Magnus! you must pull down the old house, and build upon a new foundation.”

“Sae thrive I, Sir,” replies the prudent uddaler, “that’s just gin ye hae sillar enough; an,mairatour, naebody in their seven senses wad pu’ doon sic a bonnie house as Yarpha.”

“Ah! Magnus, I spaek metaphorically.”

“The grit end o’ speakin’, sir, is to mak’ oursels be understood; an’ when ye speak ‘ puin’ doon houses, and seekin’ new stances, why, I maun just e’en answer you in your ain leed.”

The conversation broke off abruptly. The preacher deemed the fortress of his antagonist’s heart impregnable; and Mansie thought the itinerant’s shot did not tell. Indeed he said to some of his cronies a day or two afterwards,“that there was nae mair strength  in Maister Twang’s arguments than i’ Jenny Twats’ sma’ drink, that had gaen nine times thro’ the draff.”

Whether the Highland Society, by the united force of example, precept, and premium, may have some effect in improving the farm of “Yarpha”, we know not, but feel inclined to think that the laird will adhere most rigidly to the customs of his forefathers, so far as relates to ploughing, sowing, manuring, reaping, threshing, and grinding; and that, in the language of the illustrious author of Waverley, he will –

‘Keep his customs; what is law itself / But old established custom? What religion/ – I mean with one half of the men that use it – / Save the good use and wont that carries them / To worship how and where their fathers worship. / All things revolve in custom.’


Mind on David Vedder published this in 1832 in Orcadian Sketches

Categories: Culture

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