Chapter 26

An iron race the mountain-cliffs maintain,         
Foes to the gentler genius of the plain.         
Who, while their rocky ramparts round they see,
The rough abode of want and liberty,
As lawless force from confidence will grow,
Insult the plenty of the vales below.


“What made ye sae late?” said Mr. Jarvie, as I entered the dining-parlour of that honest gentleman; “it is chappit ane the best feck o’ five minutes by-gane. Mattie has been twice at the door wi’ the dinner, and weel for you it was a tup’s head, for that canna suffer by delay. A sheep’s head ower muckle boiled is rank poison, as my worthy father used to say—he likit the lug o’ ane weel, honest man.”

I made a suitable apology for my breach of punctuality, and was soon seated at table, where Mr. Jarvie presided with great glee and hospitality, compelling, however, Owen and myself to do rather more justice to the Scottish dainties with which his board was charged, than was quite agreeable to our southern palates. I escaped pretty well, from having those habits of society which enable one to elude this species of well-meant persecution. But it was ridiculous enough to see Owen, whose ideas of politeness were more rigorous and formal, and who was willing, in all acts of lawful compliance, to evince his respect for the friend of the firm, eating, with rueful complaisance, mouthful after mouthful of singed wool, and pronouncing it excellent, in a tone in which disgust almost overpowered civility.

When the cloth was removed, Mr. Jarvie compounded with his own hands a very small bowl of brandy- punch, the first which I had ever the fortune to see.

“The limes,” he assured us, “were from his own little farm yonder-awa” (indicating the West Indies with a knowing shrug of his shoulders), “and he had learned the art of composing the liquor from auld Captain Coffinkey, who acquired it,” he added in a whisper, “as maist folk thought, amang the Buccaniers. But it’s excellent liquor,” said he, helping us round; “and good ware has aften come frae a wicked market. And as for Captain Coffinkey, he was a decent man when I kent him, only he used to swear awfully—But he’s dead, and gaen to his account, and I trust he’s accepted—I trust he’s accepted.”

We found the liquor exceedingly palatable, and it led to a long conversation between Owen and our host on the opening which the Union had afforded to trade between Glasgow and the British colonies in America and the West Indies, and on the facilities which Glasgow possessed of making up sortable cargoes for that market. Mr. Jarvie answered some objection which Owen made on the difficulty of sorting a cargo for America, without buying from England, with vehemence and volubility.

“Na, na, sir, we stand on our ain bottom—we pickle in our ain pock-neuk—We hae our Stirling serges, Musselburgh stuffs, Aberdeen hose, Edinburgh shalloons, and the like, for our woollen or worsted goods—and we hae linens of a’ kinds better and cheaper than you hae in Lunnon itsell—and we can buy your north o’ England wares, as Manchester wares, Sheffield wares, and Newcastle earthenware, as cheap as you can at Liverpool—And we are making a fair spell at cottons and muslins—Na, na! let every herring hing by its ain head, and every sheep by its ain shank, and ye’ll find, sir, us Glasgow folk no sae far ahint but what we may follow.—This is but poor entertainment for you, Mr. Osbaldistone” (observing that I had been for some time silent), “but ye ken cadgers maun aye be speaking about cart-saddles.”

I apologised, alleging the painful circumstances of my own situation, and the singular adventure of the morning, as the causes of my abstraction and absence of mind. In this manner I gained what I sought—an opportunity of telling my story distinctly and without interruption. I only omitted mentioning the wound I had received, which I did not think worthy of notice. Mr. Jarvie listened with great attention and apparent interest, twinkling his little grey eyes, taking snuff, and only interrupting me by brief interjections. When I came to the account of the rencounter, at which Owen folded his hands and cast up his eyes to Heaven, the very image of woeful surprise, Mr. Jarvie broke in upon the narration with “Wrang now—clean wrang—to draw a sword on your kinsman is inhibited by the laws o’ God and man; and to draw a sword on the streets of a royal burgh, is punishable by fine and imprisonment—and the College-yards are nae better privileged—they should be a place of peace and quietness, I trow. The College didna get gude £600 a

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