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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 233 the cohn ! Inspired with that feeling of awe, if not of terror, which that emblem of mortality, under such circumstances, was calculated to produce, the landlady exclaimed, with unfeigned perturbation, '' Awa', ye gallows-looking blackguard ; gin that be the case 0' yir bass fiddle, neither you nor it shall stay in my house." Her request, as may be well imagined, was very readily complied with. Tam was questioned one day by a lady, at whose house he was employed in making some repairs, as to the reason why people of his profession were so extravagant in their charges for coffins. Tam looked very mysterious, and agreed to inform her of the secret for the matter of a good glass of " Athol brose "; which moderate stipulation being immediately implemented, he told her, " It's juist because they are ne'er brought back to be mended." As we have already hinted, the precentor's wit consisted more in the method than the matter ; and hence the reason, although he never failed to " set the table in a roar," that there are few of his sayings which do not lose materially by being written down. There are still one or two anecdotes not altogether unworthy of notice. Tam was one night engaged in a tavern with a party of select friends, among whom was the late Mr. Home Drummond, a gentleman then young, and who, it is said, could relish a night's diversion well, provided he did not " buy his joys o'er dear." During the evening Tam delighted the company with his very best songs, and, in return, was plied at every interval with an excess of liquor. Mr. Drummond, in particular, perhaps with the view of making him tipsy, pressed the songster without mercy, frequently adding, that if he did not drink off his glass he should have Keltie's mends-(i.e., fill the glass and make him drink it over again). When the debauch was finished, and the parties came to the street, one of those present, who was by no means sober, feeling an increase of thirst from the excess of his libations, put his head to the mouth of the well in the High Street, and commenced drinking most vigorously. " Out wi't," cried the songster, chuckling over his imagined victory,-" out wi't ; or, by my sang, ye shall hae Keltie's mends." Tam and a drouthy crony accidentally met in the Potterrow (Scottice, Patterraw) one forenoon, after a night of heavy drinking. They both stood much in need of a drop to brace their nerves, but not a stiver was betwixt them. In vain they looked round for some kindly invitation-in vain some dernier howff was suggested. "he precentor's licht was now on the wane; yet he " couldna think of parting dry-mouth'd." " Come," said Tarn, a fancy having struck him ; "let's see what chance will provide." They accordingly dived into the house of an old acquaintance whom they had not Been for some time. A grll was called, and the landlady desired to sit down and " tak' the poison aff the glass ;'I which she readily did, to oblige " sae add a friend as the precentor." The whisky went round, and a conversation ensued upon the common topics of the day,-the American war, the dearth of provisions, etc. ; and Tarn took care not to overlook the modern alterations going on in the city. '' What wi' levelling streets, and bigging brigs, they'll no leave ae stane 0' the auld toon aboon anither," said the landlady.--" It's a confounded shame," rejoined Tarn,-" and 2 H
Volume 8 Page 328
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