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HE DESCRIBES HIS CONSTITUENCY; 217
bull-dowg and a mastiff! The great big brown mastiff mouthin the bull-dowg by the verra hainches, as if to crunch his back, and the wee white bull-dowg never seemin to fash his thoomb, but stickin by the regular set teeth o' his under-hung jaw to the throat o' the mastiff, close to the jugular, and no to be drawn aff the grip by twa strong baker-boys pu'in at the tail o' the tane, and twa strong butcher-boys pu'in at the tail o' the tither—for the mastiff's maister begins to fear that the veeper at his throat will kill him outright, and offers to pay a' betts and confess his dowg has lost the battle. But the crood wush to see the fecht out—and harl the dowgs that are noo worryin ither without ony growlin—baith silent, except a sort o' snortin through the nostrils, and a kind o' guller in their gullets—I say, the crood harl them out o' the midden, ontil the stanes again—and " Weel dune, Caesar."—" Better dune, Veeper."—" A mutchkin to a gill on whitey."—" The muckle ane canna fecht."—" See how the wee bick is worryin him now, by a new spat on the thrapple."—" He wud rin awa gin she wad let him loose."—"She's just like her mither that belanged to the caravan o' wild beasts."—" Oh man, Davie, but I wud like to get a breed out o' her, by the watch-dowg at Bell-meadow bleachfield, that killed, ye ken, the Kilmarnock carrier's Help in twunty minutes, at Kingswell"
North. I never heard you speak in such kind before, James
Shepherd. I'm describing the character o' my constituents, you ken, and should be eloquent, for you wull recollec that I sat out wi' imagining mysel Member o' Parliament, that is representative o' the Guse-dubs. But, as Horace says,
"Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines."
I crave a bumper. Faith claret's no that strong, so I'll drink the toast this time in a tummler, "Baith sides o' the Tweed!" Hip—hip—hip—hurraw! After a,' I maun confess that I like the Englishers, if they wadna be sae pernicketty1 about what they eat.
North. Minds like ours, my dear James, must always be above national prejudices, and in all companies it gives me true pleasure to declare, that, as a people, the English are very little indeed inferior to the Scotch.
218 PEASANT-POETS OF SCOTLAND.
Shepherd. I canna gang sae far as that, Mr North. Indeed, I've often observed that when ye praise an individual or a nation, you are apt to transcend a' bounds o' panegyric, juist out o' the natural goodness o' your heart, that gets the better of the greatness of your understanding. To put an end to the argument a'thegither, you see, or rather to prevent ix frae getting a beginning, let me simply ask, Where wull you find in a' England siccan Poets o' the People, the Peasantry, that is, the Children o' the Soil, the Bairns o' Bank and Brae, as Eobert Burns, Allan Kinningham, and Me?
North. Why, James, there is Bloomfield.
Shepherd. O man, Mr North, sometimes after you've ta'en a drap, you do really, indeed, my dear sir—believe me when I say't —speak maist awfu' nonsense! Burns and Bloomfield indeed!
North. Why, James, there's Clare.
Shepherd. I howp, sir, you'll no think me ower impertinent, gin I juist ask how auld you are? You see the drift o' my question, so I'll no press't. But really, sir, you should be cautious —for at your time o' life Kinningham and Clare indeed!
North. Then, James—there is—then, James, there is—Let me remember—why, James, there is—there is—
Shepherd. Aha! my man, ye were in howps o' findin a parallel likewise to me? But familiar as you are with the haill range o' original poetry, and deeply as you feel, and weel's you understand it, you were out o' your reckoning there, my lad — when you thocht to selec some southern swain to shouther the Shepherd out o' the first rank o' genius—or even to staun by his side! Havena ye, my dear sir—-just confess?
Tickler. What think you of Stephen Duck ?1
Shepherd. That he was a duck—that ye are a guse—and that I am a swan. Ha, ha, ha! that's no a bad pun, Mr Tickler, though I made it mysel. It is at least extempore, and no like some o' your ain apothegems, a month auld at the newest.
North. Hogg, did you recollect old Parr ?2
Shepherd. How could I recollec him? I never lived in the reign of Charles the Second; at least if I did, I do not OLD PARR. 219
1 A forgotten poetaster, who died in 1756.
a There were two "old Parrs," Pill-Parr and Wig-Parr. Pill-Parr was bora in 1483, and died, it is said, at the age of one hundred and fifty-two years and nine months. Wig-Parr born in 1751, died in 1825.
immediately recolleo it—but, can it be true, do you think, that he ever was so muckle as twa hundred year auld? I can scarcely credit it. I ken an auld woman in Ettrick wha's a hundred and fifty by the parish register; but at that time o' life fifty years makes a great difference, and the period of Parr's age maun be apocryphal.
Tickler. There has been another Parr, James, since Charles the Second's time—the Man with the Wig.
Shepherd. Pity me! my memory's no what it ance was— the Doctor o' Deveenity Parr, wi' the frock and frizzle, that eat so many muirfowl in our Tent?1 I thocht bim geyan stupid; but he took a likin to me, which was sae far in his favour, and therefore I howp he's weel, and no dead yet?
North. The Doctor is dead, James.
Shepherd. Weel, then, you can bring him forward noo as ane of the great English scholars, to shame a' the Scotch anes at Embro', St Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. Do ye recollec my shooting his wig for a ptarmigan?
North. I shall never forget it, James, nor any other incident in the excursion.
Shepherd. That's mair than I'll answer for. I howp there's mony an incident in the "Excursion" that I hae forgotten, for I cannot say that I recollec ony incident at all in the haill poem, but the Pedlar refusing to tak a tumbler o' gin and water with the Solitary. That did mak a deep impression on my memory, for I thocht it a most rude and heartless thing to decline drinking with a gentleman in his ain house; but I hope it was not true, and that the whole is a malignant invention of Mr Wordsworth.
North. James, you are a satirical dog—a wolf in sheep's clothing. But to return to old Parr;—-just as you do, my dear Shepherd, I have a kindness for all that ever set foot within our Tent—even Tims.2
Tickler. Come, North, no nonsense. You can never name Tims and Parr in the same sentence.
Shepherd. And what for no? I recollec perfectly weel thinkin Dr Parr the maist learned o' the twa, mair especially in Greek and Latin; but Tims appeared to me in the licht o' a man a* greater natural abeelities. It was wi' the greatest diffeeculty that I got the Priest to comprehend the tithe o' what I said, whereas the Pawnbroker was a bit clever aneuch 220 PARR S APHORISMS.
1 See Blackwood!i Magazine for Aug. 1819. 2 See ante, p. 32, note 2.
ape o' a body, and after hearin me crack twa- three times, although I shallna ventur to say that he guessed my meanin, yet you would hae been surprised to hear how he g-ot hand o' the words, and the verra sound of my idiomatic accent—so that had you steekit your een, you micht hae thocht, when the cretur was speakin, that he was Jamie Hogg; but, to be sure, on opening them again, you would hae gotten an unco fricht to see that it wasna me but only Tims, afore he took up his French title of Wictoire. And I'm tell't that he can do the same thing, within the short length of his tether, wi' the bit pen o' him, in regaird to ither folks' printed style, and has putten forth some byuckies that, a' things considered, are not by any means so very muckle amiss.
North. Have you seen Parr's Aphorisms, Tickler?
Tickler. Parr's Aphorisms, North? No—I have not seen Parr's Aphorisms, North: nor have you—nor will you, nor I, nor any other mortal man, ever see Parr's Aphorisms, North; for this simple reason, that Parr was no more able to utter an aphorism, North, than an old tom-cat to coin a gold guinea, Mr North.
Shepherd. Is an aphorism onything at a' like an apopthegem?
Tickler. As two peas.
Shepherd. Then I agree with you, Mr Tickler, that Dr Parr never concaved—never was delivered of—and never brought up an aphorism in his born days; and that the productions bearing it's name will be found to hae nane o' it's nature; for the seeds o' an aphorism—at least if it be, Mr North, as Mr Tickler manteens, sib1 to an apopthegem—never were in him; and he was by nature incapacitated frae bringing forth onything mair valuable than an ipse dixit, or a dogma.
Tickler. The Aphorisms of Parr! Next we shall have Pastorals by Day and Martin, and Epithalamia by Jack Ketch. The author of the Pursuits of Literature never said a truer thing than when he called Parr the Birmingham Doctor—not an imitator, observe, but a mere counterfeit; having the same relation to the true thing, Samuel Johnson, whom he aped, as the thunder of Drury Lane, which no doubt sounds magnificently to the ears of Colburn's theatrical critics in the pit, to that of Jove in the heavens, vefaXriyepcTa Zevs, with which he awes the hearts of nations.
PARIS ON DIET. 221
North. As an original thinker, I own he was Nemonobody; but as a scholar
Tickler. Hum—hummior—hummissimus,—he was a mere Parolles in a Pedagogue's wig. His preface to Bellendenus, as all the world knows, was never looked into but for its oddities; first, that it talked about Fox, and Burke, and Lord North, in Latin—when others talked of them in English; secondly, that this Latin, as he called it, was a monster of deformity, being in fact a cento made up from every Boman on God's earth, beginning with Fabius Pictor, and the "Stercus Ennii," down to the "rank Africanisms" (to use Milton's phrase) of Arnobius. An English History could not be more extravagant, composed out of the hoary archaisms of Bobert of Glocester, compounded with the "three-piled" Gibbonisms of Sharon Turner. "He had been at a great feast of languages, and had stolen the scraps."
North. I cannot help admiring his Spital sermon, as
Tickler. Beyond all comparison the most empty bladderdash that ever attempted to soar without gas into the ethereal regions.
North. His Dissertation on the word Sublime at the end of Dugald Stewart's Philosophical Essays?
Tickler. Ay, a sublime treatise on Mud, with some superior remarks on the preposition Sub. The whole amount from a world of pother, parade, and pseudo-learning, is, that Sublime means, not that which is under the mud, but that which is above it; sub coming not from imo but from vrrcp. Small structure as all this would have been, had it stood on a true foundation, Professor Dunbar has, I perceive, in an able paper in the last Transactions of the Boyal Society of Edinburgh, smashed it with an iron hand, and the paltry pile has disappeared.
Shepherd. I would like, Mr Tickler—if it were not usin ower much liberty—to ask leave to ring the bell for some toasted cheese? It's a gude while now sin' dinner, and I'm getting roun' again into hunger.
Tickler. Surely, James, surely—you shall have a ton of toasted cheese.
North. My friend Paris, a clever and charming fellow, has lately published a work on Diet,1 in which I am equally
1 A Treatise on Diet and Regimen. By John Atbton Pabis, M.D. London. 1826.