Poems & Short Stories: 4,435
Forum Members: 67,986
Forum Posts: 1,216,101
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
"Will it please your worship to accept of my poor service? I beseech
that I may feed upon your bread, though it be the brownest, and
drink of your drink, though it be of the smallest; for I will do
your Worship as much service for forty shillings as another man
shall for three pounds."
Greene's _Tu Quoque._
I remembered the honest Bailie's parting charge, but did not conceive
there was any incivility in adding a kiss to the half-crown with which I
remunerated Mattie's attendance;--nor did her "Fie for shame, sir!"
express any very deadly resentment of the affront. Repeated knocking at
Mrs. Flyter's gate awakened in due order, first, one or two stray dogs,
who began to bark with all their might; next two or three night-capped
heads, which were thrust out of the neighbouring windows to reprehend me
for disturbing the solemnity of the Sunday night by that untimely noise.
While I trembled lest the thunders of their wrath might dissolve in
showers like that of Xantippe, Mrs. Flyter herself awoke, and began, in a
tone of objurgation not unbecoming the philosophical spouse of Socrates,
to scold one or two loiterers in her kitchen, for not hastening to the
door to prevent a repetition of my noisy summons.
These worthies were, indeed, nearly concerned in the fracas which their
laziness occasioned, being no other than the faithful Mr. Fairservice,
with his friend Mr. Hammorgaw, and another person, whom I afterwards
found to be the town-crier, who were sitting over a cog of ale, as they
called it (at my expense, as my bill afterwards informed me), in order to
devise the terms and style of a proclamation to be made through the
streets the next day, in order that "the unfortunate young gentleman," as
they had the impudence to qualify me, might be restored to his friends
without farther delay. It may be supposed that I did not suppress my
displeasure at this impertinent interference with my affairs; but Andrew
set up such ejaculations of transport at my arrival, as fairly drowned my
expressions of resentment. His raptures, perchance, were partly
political; and the tears of joy which he shed had certainly their source
in that noble fountain of emotion, the tankard. However, the tumultuous
glee which he felt, or pretended to feel, at my return, saved Andrew the
broken head which I had twice destined him;--first, on account of the
colloquy he had held with the precentor on my affairs; and secondly, for
the impertinent history he had thought proper to give of me to Mr.
Jarvie. I however contented myself with slapping the door of my bedroom
in his face as he followed me, praising Heaven for my safe return, and
mixing his joy with admonitions to me to take care how I walked my own
ways in future. I then went to bed, resolving my first business in the
morning should be to discharge this troublesome, pedantic, self-conceited
coxcomb, who seemed so much disposed to constitute himself rather a
preceptor than a domestic.
Accordingly in the morning I resumed my purpose, and calling Andrew into
my, apartment, requested to know his charge for guiding and attending me
as far as Glasgow. Mr. Fairservice looked very blank at this demand,
justly considering it as a presage to approaching dismission.
"Your honour," he said, after some hesitation, "wunna think--wunna
"Speak out, you rascal, or I'll break your head," said I, as Andrew,
between the double risk of losing all by asking too much, or a part, by
stating his demand lower than what I might be willing to pay, stood
gasping in the agony of doubt and calculation.
Out it came with a bolt, however, at my threat; as the kind violence of a
blow on the back sometimes delivers the windpipe from an intrusive
morsel.--"Aughteen pennies sterling per diem--that is, by the day--your
honour wadna think unconscionable."
"It is double what is usual, and treble what you merit, Andrew; but
there's a guinea for you, and get about your business."
"The Lord forgi'e us! Is your honour mad?" exclaimed Andrew.
"No; but I think you mean to make me so--I give you a third above your
demand, and you stand staring and expostulating there as if I were
cheating you. Take your money, and go about your business."
"Gude safe us!" continued Andrew, "in what can I hae offended your
honour? Certainly a' flesh is but as the flowers of the field; but if a
bed of camomile hath value in medicine, of a surety the use of Andrew
Fairservice to your honour is nothing less evident--it's as muckle as
your life's worth to part wi' me."
"Upon my honour," replied I, "it is difficult to say whether you are more
knave or fool. So you intend then to remain with me whether I like it or
"Troth, I was e'en thinking sae," replied Andrew, dogmatically; "for if
your honour disna ken when ye hae a gude servant, I ken when I hae a gude
master, and the deil be in my feet gin I leave ye--and there's the brief
and the lang o't besides I hae received nae regular warning to quit my
"Your place, sir!" said I;--"why, you are no hired servant of mine,--you
are merely a guide, whose knowledge of the country I availed myself of on
"I am no just a common servant, I admit, sir," remonstrated Mr.
Fairservice; "but your honour kens I quitted a gude place at an hour's
notice, to comply wi' your honour's solicitations. A man might make
honestly, and wi' a clear conscience, twenty sterling pounds per annum,
weel counted siller, o' the garden at Osbaldistone Hall, and I wasna
likely to gi'e up a' that for a guinea, I trow--I reckoned on staying wi'
your honour to the term's end at the least o't; and I account my wage,
board-wage, fee and bountith,--ay, to that length o't at the least."
"Come, come, sir," replied I, "these impudent pretensions won't serve
your turn; and if I hear any more of them, I shall convince you that
Squire Thorncliff is not the only one of my name that can use his
While I spoke thus, the whole matter struck me as so ridiculous, that,
though really angry, I had some difficulty to forbear laughing at the
gravity with which Andrew supported a plea so utterly extravagant. The
rascal, aware of the impression he had made on my muscles, was encouraged
to perseverance. He judged it safer, however, to take his pretensions a
peg lower, in case of overstraining at the same time both his plea and my
"Admitting that my honour could part with a faithful servant, that had
served me and mine by day and night for twenty years, in a strange place,
and at a moment's warning, he was weel assured," he said, "it wasna in my
heart, nor in no true gentleman's, to pit a puir lad like himself, that
had come forty or fifty, or say a hundred miles out o' his road purely to
bear my honour company, and that had nae handing but his penny-fee, to
sic a hardship as this comes to."
I think it was you, Will, who once told me, that, to be an obstinate man,
I am in certain things the most gullable and malleable of mortals. The
fact is, that it is only contradiction which makes me peremptory, and
when I do not feel myself called on to give battle to any proposition, I
am always willing to grant it, rather than give myself much trouble. I
knew this fellow to be a greedy, tiresome, meddling coxcomb; still,
however, I must have some one about me in the quality of guide and
domestic, and I was so much used to Andrew's humour, that on some
occasions it was rather amusing. In the state of indecision to which
these reflections led me, I asked Fairservice if he knew the roads,
towns, etc., in the north of Scotland, to which my father's concerns with
the proprietors of Highland forests were likely to lead me. I believe if
I had asked him the road to the terrestrial paradise, he would have at
that moment undertaken to guide me to it; so that I had reason afterwards
to think myself fortunate in finding that his actual knowledge did not
fall very much short of that which he asserted himself to possess. I
fixed the amount of his wages, and reserved to myself the privilege of
dismissing him when I chose, on paying him a week in advance. I gave him
finally a severe lecture on his conduct of the preceding day, and then
dismissed him rejoicing at heart, though somewhat crestfallen in
countenance, to rehearse to his friend the precentor, who was taking his
morning draught in the kitchen, the mode in which he had "cuitled up the
daft young English squire."
Agreeable to appointment, I went next to Bailie Nicol Jarvie's, where a
comfortable morning's repast was arranged in the parlour, which served as
an apartment of all hours, and almost all work, to that honest gentleman.
The bustling and benevolent magistrate had been as good as his word. I
found my friend Owen at liberty, and, conscious of the refreshments and
purification of brush and basin, was of course a very different person
from Owen a prisoner, squalid, heart-broken, and hopeless. Yet the sense
of pecuniary difficulties arising behind, before, and around him, had
depressed his spirit, and the almost paternal embrace which the good man
gave me, was embittered by a sigh of the deepest anxiety. And when he
sate down, the heaviness in his eye and manner, so different from the
quiet composed satisfaction which they usually exhibited, indicated that
he was employing his arithmetic in mentally numbering up the days, the
hours, the minutes, which yet remained as an interval between the
dishonour of bills and the downfall of the great commercial establishment
of Osbaldistone and Tresham. It was left to me, therefore, to do honour
to our landlord's hospitable cheer--to his tea, right from China, which
he got in a present from some eminent ship's-husband at Wapping--to his
coffee, from a snug plantation of his own, as he informed us with a wink,
called Saltmarket Grove, in the island of Jamaica--to his English toast
and ale, his Scotch dried salmon, his Lochfine herrings, and even to the
double-damask table-cloth, "wrought by no hand, as you may guess," save
that of his deceased father the worthy Deacon Jarvie.
Having conciliated our good-humoured host by those little attentions
which are great to most men, I endeavoured in my turn to gain from him
some information which might be useful for my guidance, as well as for
the satisfaction of my curiosity. We had not hitherto made the least
allusion to the transactions of the preceding night, a circumstance which
made my question sound somewhat abrupt, when, without any previous
introduction of the subject, I took advantage of a pause when the history
of the table-cloth ended, and that of the napkins was about to commence,
to inquire, "Pray, by the by, Mr. Jarvie, who may this Mr. Robert
Campbell be, whom we met with last night?"
The interrogatory seemed to strike the honest magistrate, to use the
vulgar phrase, "all of a heap," and instead of answering, he returned the
question--"Whae's Mr. Robert Campbell?--ahem! ahay! Whae's Mr. Robert
Campbell, quo' he?"
"Yes," said I, "I mean who and what is he?"
"Why, he's--ahay!--he's--ahem!--Where did ye meet with Mr. Robert
Campbell, as ye ca' him?"
"I met him by chance," I replied, "some months ago in the north of
"Ou then, Mr. Osbaldistone," said the Bailie, doggedly, "ye'll ken as
muckle about him as I do."
"I should suppose not, Mr. Jarvie," I replied;--"you are his relation, it
seems, and his friend."
"There is some cousin-red between us, doubtless," said the Bailie
reluctantly; "but we hae seen little o' ilk other since Rob gae tip the
cattle-line o' dealing, poor fallow! he was hardly guided by them might
hae used him better--and they haena made their plack a bawbee o't
neither. There's mony ane this day wad rather they had never chased puir
Robin frae the Cross o' Glasgow--there's mony ane wad rather see him
again at the tale o' three hundred kyloes, than at the head o' thirty
"All this explains nothing to me, Mr. Jarvie, of Mr. Campbell's rank,
habits of life, and means of subsistence," I replied.
"Rank?" said Mr. Jarvie; "he's a Hieland gentleman, nae doubt--better
rank need nane to be;--and for habit, I judge he wears the Hieland habit
amang the hills, though he has breeks on when he comes to Glasgow;--and
as for his subsistence, what needs we care about his subsistence, sae
lang as he asks naething frae us, ye ken? But I hae nae time for
clavering about him e'en now, because we maun look into your father's
concerns wi' all speed."
So saying, he put on his spectacles, and sate down to examine Mr. Owen's
states, which the other thought it most prudent to communicate to him
without reserve. I knew enough of business to be aware that nothing could
be more acute and sagacious than the views which Mr. Jarvie entertained
of the matters submitted to his examination; and, to do him justice, it
was marked by much fairness, and even liberality. He scratched his ear
indeed repeatedly on observing the balance which stood at the debit of
Osbaldistone and Tresham in account with himself personally.
"It may be a dead loss," he observed; "and, conscience! whate'er ane o'
your Lombard Street goldsmiths may say to it, it's a snell ane in the
Saut-Market* o' Glasgow. It will be a heavy deficit--a staff out o' my
bicker, I trow.
* [The Saltmarket. This ancient street, situate in the heart of Glasgow,
has of late been almost entirely renovated.]
But what then?--I trust the house wunna coup the crane for a' that's come
and gane yet; and if it does, I'll never bear sae base a mind as thae
corbies in the Gallowgate--an I am to lose by ye, I'se ne'er deny I hae
won by ye mony a fair pund sterling--Sae, an it come to the warst, I'se
een lay the head o' the sow to the tail o' the grice."*
* _Anglice,_ the head of the sow to the tail of the pig.
I did not altogether understand the proverbial arrangement with which Mr.
Jarvie consoled himself, but I could easily see that he took a kind and
friendly interest in the arrangement of my father's affairs, suggested
several expedients, approved several plans proposed by Owen, and by his
countenance and counsel greatly abated the gloom upon the brow of that
afflicted delegate of my father's establishment.
As I was an idle spectator on this occasion, and, perhaps, as I showed
some inclination more than once to return to the prohibited, and
apparently the puzzling subject of Mr. Campbell, Mr. Jarvie dismissed me
with little formality, with an advice to "gang up the gate to the
college, where I wad find some chields could speak Greek and Latin
weel--at least they got plenty o' siller for doing deil haet else, if they
didna do that; and where I might read a spell o' the worthy Mr. Zachary
Boyd's translation o' the Scriptures--better poetry need nane to be, as
he had been tell'd by them that ken'd or suld hae ken'd about sic
things." But he seasoned this dismission with a kind and hospitable
invitation "to come back and take part o' his family-chack at ane
preceesely--there wad be a leg o' mutton, and, it might be, a tup's head,
for they were in season;" but above all, I was to return at "ane o'clock
preceesely--it was the hour he and the deacon his father aye dined
at--they pat it off for naething nor for naebody."
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.