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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


366 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. usage still prevails in many of the burghs. Formerly, in some of the smaller communities, the situation of town-crier was not unfrequently filled by some old matron, whose duty it was to proclaim the loss of any article-the arrival of fresh fish-or such other interesting intelligence as she might be employed to publish ; and the artist, in his Etching of “ Beetty Dick, town-crier, Dalkeith,” has left an exact representation of the manner in which proclamation was wont to be made in that ancient burgh. BEETTYD ICKw as a native of Dalkeith, and was born there in 1693. At what period she was installed into office is not known. She is described as having been a little, round-shouldered woman-wore a kind of mutch (Anglice, cap), called a toy, which closely enveloped the head, fell back over the shoulders, and hung down in front somewhat resembling a minister’s bands. The other part of her dress consisted of a long gown, the skirts of which were tucked up, and drawn through the pocket-,holes. In addition to this, during the winter season, or when the weather was coarse, she put on a short red cloak, which scarcely covered her shoulders. The instrument anciently used in making proclamations was called a ‘‘ clap,’’ and is described by Dr. Jamieson, in his Xcottish Dictionary, as “ a flat instrument made of iron, resembling a box, with a tongue and handle.”’ That used by Beetty consisted simply of a large wooden trencher and a spoon, with which, previous to beginning her oration, she continued to make a noise, until a sufficient auditory had assembled. As she thus went the round of the town, repeating the announcement at stated distances, the younger portion of her hearers, with whom she was a great favourite, seldom failed to greet her at the close of each speech with loud acclamations. The charge for this important piece of public service was extremely moderate, being only olae pemy ! The principal part of the duty, as we have said, consisted in intimating the arrival of fresh fish, and proclaiming articles lost or stolen ; but Beetty was employed regularly every evening in announcing another commodity of equal consideration, and no doubt many a one felt his chops water as she was heard to bawl out- “Tripe, piping hot, ready for supper the nicht, at eight o’clock, at Jeanie M‘Millan’s, head of the North Wynd-gang hame, bairns, an’ tell your folk about it.” Her house, until a few years before her death, was in the West Wynd, but she ultimately removed to the Tolbooth Close, where she died in 1773. Her remains were interred at the east side of the Old Churchyard. She was succeeded in office by Peggy Haswell, in whose time the ‘‘ clap ’I was disused, and a hand-bell introduced instead. She lived long to enjoy the honours and emoluments of the situation. At her death the bell passed into the hands of Jeanie Garvald, more popularly known by the name of Garvald Gundy, from a delicious sweetmeat she manu- One of these relics of former times is preserved in the Museum of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries. Beetty was never married.
Volume 9 Page 486
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Volume 9 Page 487
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