Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 325
  Enlarge Enlarge     Pictures Pictures
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 231 was the volubility of his tongue, that his audience would almost fancy they heard the very chiming of the merry bells. “ In short,’’ observes his limner, ‘‘ he may justly be considered the Momus of modern times, and the catch clubs of Edinburgh will only have to regret that he is not immortal.” Upon the late Janies Livingstone of Glasgow, who died there in 1836, may be said to have descended the inspiring mantle of Thomas Neil ; and our readers of the west, from their recollections of the one, will be the better able to form a proper estimate of the other. There was a difereme, however, in the characters of the two. Perhaps Livingstone surpassed his predecessor, not in a more genuine, but in a more varied version of the national comic song ; while the other possessed, in a higher degree, the power and harmony of voice necessary to constitute a superior glee and catch singer.’ Livingstone, in private company, was the most simple unaffected creature imaginable-temperate and recluse. Not so with his witty Bacchanalian precursor, who, in the words of the song, was -“ a canty chiel, And dearly lo’ed the whisky.” Tarn’s facetious talents furnished him with a ready passport to all classes of society. He was frequently a solicited guest at the table of the great, and always a welcome visitor to many a well-known “ howff” in the city. With the Magistracy he sat cheek-for-jowl at all civic feasts ; and occasionally enlivened the club meetings of the Caledonian Hunt with his presence, his wit, and his songs. In company, a very frequent salutation was-“ Come now, Tam, gie’s your thrifty sang,”-a request with which he immediately complied, by chanting, in his own inimitable manner, the following stanzas, well known to our “ auld forbears,” but now almost obsolete :- “ Sweet sir, for your courtesie, when ye come by the Bass, then, For the love ye bear to me, buy me a keeking-glass, then.” “ Reek into the draw-well, Janet, Janet ; And there ye’ll see your bonnie sel’, my jo, Janet” “ Reeking in the draw-well clear, what, if I should fa’ in, then, Byne a’ my kin will say and swear I drowned mysel’ for sin, then.” “ Haud the better by the brae, Janet, Janet ; Haud the better by the brae, my jo, Janet.” “ Good sir, for your courtesie, coming through Aberdeen, then, For the love you bear to me, buy me a pair of shoon, then.” “ Clout the auld, the new are dear, Janet, Janet ; A’e pair may sair ye half a year, my jo, Janet.” Nr. Thomson, lately precentor in Lady Yester’s Church, when a youth, haa frequently sung at These musical meetings were then genemlly held in the Masonic Hall, He was intimate with Neil, and recollects that at that time he possessed a very concerts with Thomas Neil. Niddry Street. superior bass voice.
Volume 8 Page 326
  Enlarge Enlarge