Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


234 sic an auncienl city, tool I’m tauld the Apostle Paul ance visited this very district we’re sitting in the noo.” “ Nonsense !” exclaimed his crony-‘‘ Ye’re gyte, now,” said the landlady ; “ I’m sure I’ve read the Testament mony a time, an’ I ne’er saw sic a thing in’”’’-‘‘ What’ll ye bet, then 0” quoth the wily precentor. “ It’s no for the like 0’ me to be betting,’’ said she ; “ but, in a case like this, I’ll haud ye the gill on the table there’s no a word about the Patterraw.” The Testament was produced-Tam turned over the leaves with affected difficulty-till at last he hit upon the passage, Acts xxi. 5. “And we came with a straight course into Coos, and the day following int,o Rhodes, and from thence into P-a-t-a-r-a.” Against such conclusive evidence the simple hostess could urge no appeal ; and was so highly pleased with the discovery, that, like Eve, she wished the “gudeman” to be made as wise as herself, even at the expense of another gill. John, who had been engaged in the cellar, very opportunely made his appearance, and, being told of the astonishing fact, was as incredulous as his rib had been. John was better acquainted with the process of reducing bead twenty-two to thirty than he was with the contents of the New Testament ; nevertheless, he could with great security “ wager ony man half-amutchkin that the Patterraw, nor ony ither raw in a’ Edinburgh, was nae sae muckle as mentioned between the twa buirds 0’ the Bible.” The half-mutchkin stoup, instead of the small tantalising measure which had hitherto occupied the table, was accordingly filled by the gudewife, who was secretly gratified that John’s wisdom, so immaculate in his own estimation, was about to be found somewhat faulty. We need scarcely add that the “P-a-t-a-r-a” of the text at once decided who should “pay the piper ;” and Tam, thus plentifully supplied, was spared the alternative he had dreaded of parting with a dry mouth. Like most others whose talents become so much an object of social gratification, Tam, who at first drank for the sake of good company, latterly drank for the sake of good liquor. He knew and felt this, and by no means attempted either to deceive himself or others on the subject. Mr. Nisbet of Dirleton (himself an excellent musician, and contemporary of the musical Earl of Kelly’) happened to meet the jovial precentor pretty early one forenoon, in the High Street, rather more than half-seas-over. Dirleton challenged Tam for being “ SO groggy before meridian.” ‘‘ Why,” said he, “ don’t you let your debauch stand till night 1’’ Tam acknowledged the justice of his censure,-“ Vera true, sir-vera true ; but as I maun aye be this way ance a day, I maun just tak‘ it when I can get it.” Tam continued to be that way very frequently for a great length of timehis constitution apparently experiencing little or no bad effects from the practice. He lived to a good old age, and died within a few days of the close of last century. His death is thus recorded in the Edinburgh Magazine for 1800 ;- “Died, December 7, Thomas Neil, wright, and precentor in the Old Church A few copies of his lordship’s minuets were published, from the original manuscripts, by Some of them are par- B I 0 GRAPH I C AL S KE T C €I E S. C. I(. Sharpe, Esq. Small folio-Edinburgh, 1836 : Thos. Stevenson. ticularly god.
Volume 8 Page 329
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