The roads of Liddesdale, in Dandie Dinmont's days, could not be said to exist, and the district was only accessible through a succession of tremendous morasses. About thirty years ago the author himself was the first person who ever drove a little open carriage into these wilds, the excellent roads by which they are now traversed being then in some progress. The people stared with no small wonder at a sight which many of them had never witnessed in their lives before.
The Tappit Hen contained three quarts of claret-- Weel she loed a Hawick gill, And leugh to see a tappit hen.
I have seen one of these formidable stoups at Provost Haswell's, at Jedburgh, in the days of yore It was a pewter measure, the claret being in ancient days served from the tap, and had the figure of a hen upon the lid. In later times the name was given to a glass bottle of the same dimensions. These are rare apparitions among the degenerate topers of modern days.
The account given by Mr. Pleydell of his sitting down in the midst of a revel to draw an appeal case was taken from a story told me by an aged gentleman of the elder President Dundas of Amiston (father of the younger President and of Lord Melville). It had been thought very desirable, while that distinguished lawyer was king's counsel, that his assistance should be obtained in drawing an appeal case, which, as occasion for such writings then rarely occurred, was held to be matter of great nicety. The solicitor employed for the appellant, attended by my informant acting as his clerk, went to the Lord Advocate's chambers in the Fishmarket Close, as I think. It was Saturday at noon, the Court was just dismissed, the Lord Advocate had changed his dress and booted himself, and his servant and horses were at the foot of the close to carry him to Arniston. It was scarcely possible to get him to listen to a word respecting business. The wily agent, however, on pretence of asking one or two questions, which would not detain him half an hour, drew his Lordship, who was no less an eminent ban vivant than a lawyer of unequalled talent, to take a whet at a celebrated tavern, when the learned counsel became gradually involved in a spirited discussion of the law points of the case. At length it occurred to him that he might as well ride to Arniston in the cool of the evening. The horses were directed to be put in the stable, but not to be unsaddled. Dinner was ordered, the law was laid aside for a time, and the bottle circulated very freely. At nine o'clock at night, after he had been honouring Bacchus for so many hours, the Lord Advocate ordered his horses to be unsaddled; paper, pen, and ink were brought; he began to dictate the appeal case, and continued at his task till four o'clock the next morning. By next day's post the solicitor sent the case to London, a chef-d'oeuvre of its kind; and in which, my informant assured me, it was not necessary on revisal to correct five words. I am not, therefore, conscious of having overstepped accuracy in describing the manner in which Scottish lawyers of the old time occasionally united the worship of Bacchus with that of Themis. My informant was Alexander Keith, Esq., grandfather to my friend, the present Sir Alexander Keith of Ravelstone, and apprentice at the time to the writer who conducted the cause.
We must again have recourse to the contribution to Blackwood's Magazine, April 1817:--
'To the admirers of good eating, gipsy cookery seems to have little to recommend it. I can assure you, however, that the cook of a nobleman of high distinction, a person who never reads even a novel without an eye to the enlargement of the culinary science, has added to the "Almanach des Gourmands" a certain Potage a la Meg Merrilies de Derndeugh, consisting of game and poultry of all kinds, stewed with vegetables into a soup, which rivals in savour and richness the gallant messes of Camacho's wedding; and which the Baron of Bradwardine would certainly have reckoned among the epulae lautiores.'
The artist alluded to in this passage is Mons. Florence, cook to Henry and Charles, late Dukes of Buccleuch, and of high distinction in his profession.
The Burnet whose taste for the evening meal of the ancients is quoted by Mr. Pleydellwas the celebrated metaphysician and excellent man, Lord Monboddo, whose coenae will not be soon forgotten by those who have shared his classic hospitality. As a Scottish judge he took the designation of his family estate. His philosophy, as is well known, was of a fanciful and somewhat fantastic character; but his learning was deep, and he was possessed of a singular power of eloquence, which reminded the hearer of the os rotundum of the Grove or Academe. Enthusiastically partial to classical habits, his entertainments were always given in the evening, when there was a circulation of excellent Bourdeaux, in flasks garlanded with roses, which were also strewed on the table after the manner of Horace. The best society, whether in respect of rank or literary distinction, was always to be found in St. John's Street, Canongate. The conversation of the excellent old man, his high, gentleman-like, chivalrous spirit, the learning and wit with which he defended his fanciful paradoxes, the kind and liberal spirit of his hospitality, must render these noctes coenaeque dear to all who, like the author (though then young), had the honour of sitting at his board.
It is probably true, as observed by Counsellor Pleydell, that a lawyer's anxiety about his case, supposing him to have been some time in practice, will seldom disturb his rest or digestion. Clients will, however, sometimes fondly entertain a different opinion. I was told by an excellent judge, now no more, of a country gentleman who, addressing his leading counsel, my informer, then an advocate in great practice, on the morning of the day on which the case was to be pleaded, said, with singular bonhomie, 'Weel, my Lord (the counsel was Lord Advocate), the awful day is come at last. I have nae been able to sleep a wink for thinking of it; nor, I daresay, your Lordship either.'
Whistling, among the tenantry of a large estate, is when an individual gives such information to the proprietor or his managers as to occasion the rent of his neighbour's farms being raised, which, for obvious reasons, is held a very unpopular practice.
This hard word is placed in the mouth of one of the aged tenants. In the old feudal tenures the herezeld constituted the best horse or other animal on the vassals' lands, become the right of the superior. The only remnant of this custom is what is called the sasine, or a fee of certain estimated value, paid to the sheriff of the county, who gives possession to the vassals of the crown.
This mode of securing prisoners was universally practised in Scotland after condemnation. When a man received sentence of death he was put upon THE GAD, as it was called, that is, secured to the bar of iron in the manner mentioned in the text. The practice subsisted in Edinburgh till the old jail was taken down some years since, and perhaps may be still in use.
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