« ZurückWeiter »
of old age.
inhabitants for ever lost. Her face room, two young fellows were seated was much disfigured, and, no longer on the front of the bed, where the an object of admiration, she was ne- corpge was stretched; according to glected by the one sex, and shunned by the fashion of the times, one of the the other; grief and disappointment young men had a leathern belt about soon furrowed her cheeks ; she be- his waist, buckled over his jacket; came, grey-haired at thirty, and died his companion, an arch wag, resoon after with all the external marks collecting that the deceased had a
crooked finger, slily and gently liftBirth, marriage, and death, are im- ed up the dead man's hand, and portant eras in the life of every man, fastened the crooked finger in his whatever may be his rank or station; companion's belt; then rising with but, among the common people, they an air of easy indifference, he walked are generally attended with more eclat to the door, from which, with counwhen the situations in life are com- terfeited emotion, he called to the pared. At death, many practices were company that a house in the village formerly adopted and opinions held was on fire ; all got up attempting to which are now almost forgotten. rush out; among the rest the man
Until of late years, it was not only on the bed-side also arose, but felt common, but admitted of few excep- himself suddenly pulled back, and as tions, for a great number of persons he supposed by the dead person behind to assemble together at night in the him: so powerful was the impreshouse where the corpse lay, and there sion, that he fell backwards across the hold the lykewake. The party con- bed in a swoon, from which he was sisted generally of young people of with much difficulty recovered. both sexes, where almost every spe A very strange and even wonderful cies of rustic amusement, except sing- story is still often talked of, as having ing and dancing, was entered into occurred sometime in the last century with avidity. Rural sports and games at a lykewake in this country. were adopted, and generally so con Mr William Craighead, author of trived, as to produce forfeits, which a popular system of arithmetic, was gave a good pretext for tousling and parish-schoolmaster of Monifieth, si. kissing the lasses. The company was tuate upon the estuary of the Tay, aregaled with bread and cheese, beer bo six miles east from Dundee. It and a dram ; and the mirthful hila- would appear that Mr Craighead was rity of the party was generally as un- then a young man, fond of a frolic, like the occasion of their meeting as without being very scrupulous about it is almost possible to conceive. A the means, or calculating the consenew squad assembled next evening, quences. There was a lykewake in and the same scenes were repeated the neighbourhood, attended by a nightly until the corpse was interred. number of his acquaintance, according
When a boy about fifteen, I recol- to the custom of the times; Craighead lect of being one among twenty at a procured a confederate, with whom he lykewake, and so excellent were the concerted a plan, to draw the watchsports, and so keenly did they en ers from the house, or at least from gross the attention, that I and one or the room where the corpse lay. Havtwo more attended two successive ing succeeded in this, he dexterously nights, without having had any sleep removed the dead body to an outer through the intermediate clay. i house, while his companion occupied conceive this fact as sufficiently illus- the place of the corpse in the bed trative of what was generally going where it had lain. It was agreed on upon these occasions. The house upon between the confederates, that was often so full, that there were not when the company was reassembled, seats for the company; and I have Craighead was to join them, and at a seen the bed-side where the corpse concerted signal, the impostor was to lay. uncoffined occupied by two or rise shrouded like the dead man, while three, from the want of other accom- the two were to enjoy the terror and modation. An old friend of mine re- alarm of their companions. Mr C. lated to me a whimsical anecdote that came in, and after being sometime occurred at a lykewake where he was seated, the signal was made, but met present.
no attention, -he was rather surprisThe company being short of sitting ed, --it was repeated and still neglecte
ed. Mr Craighead in his turn now interference ; for a combination of became alarmed, for he conceived it compunction and terror might have impossible that his companiou could seized him, (after taking the place ehave fallen asleep in that situation, vacuated by the corpse,) sufficient to his uneasiness became insupportable, suspend all the functions of life; but -he went to the bed—and found his the disappearance of the other dead companion lifeless! Mr Craighead's body does not seem to me capable of feelings (as may well be imagined) being accounted for by any natural now entirely overpowered him, and cause; for it is by no means probable the dreadful fact was disclosed; their that any present would have had the agitation was extreme, and it was far hardiness to remove it to such a disfrom being alleviated when every at tance, and also subsequent firmness tempt to restore animation to the to keep their own secret; we must, thoughtless young man proved abor- therefore, give credence to the agency tive. As soon as their confusion of some superior being, or disbelieve would permit, an inquiry was made the matter at once. after the original corpse, Mr Craig At death, many freits are still obhead and another went to fetch it in, served, some of which are strange but-it was not to be found. The enough. When a person is dying, no alarm and consternation of the com one in the house, of whatever age, is pany was now redoubled; for some allowed to sleep,- for this I have time a few suspected that some hardy heard no reason, farther that it fellow among them had been attempt- was unlucky. It is also believed, that, ing a Rowland for an Oliver ; but when a person dies unseen, they who when every knowledge of it was most first discover them will die in a simisolemnly denied by all present, their lar manner. When one expires, the situation can be more easily imagined clock is immediately stopped, and the than described ; that of Mr Craighead dial-plate covered with a towel ; mirwas little short of distraction ; day- rors are also covered in a siunilar manlight came without relieving their ner. All the cats belonging to the agitation; no trace of the corpse could house are caught, and put in immedibe discovered, and Mr Craighead was ate continement. The reason given for accused as the primum mobile of all this is, that they would endeavour, if that had happened: he was incapable possible, to pass over the corpse, and of sleeping, and wandered several days the first that they crossed after would and nights in search of the body, be deprived of sight. which was at last discovered in the When the body is dressed and laid parish of Tealing, deposited in a field out, a Bible is often put below its about six miles distant from the place head, while a plate with salt, and from whence it was removed.
another with a piece of green turf, is It is related, that this extraordina- placed on the breast. It is also a ry affair had a strong and lasting ef common practice in some quarters of fect upon Mr Craighead's mind and this country, should the corpse be conduct; that he immediately became conveyed to the church-yard in a cart, serious and thoughtful, and ever af- for son. one, immediately after the ter conducted himself with great pru- coffin is put upon the cart, to say, dence and sobriety.
“Now, what is that horse and cart Such are the particulars of a story, worth?" I have been at some pains to which, however incredible it may learn what was meant by this, but appear, I have heard currently report- never could receive any other reply ed by many different people, who had but that it was the custom. Among no opportunity of hearing it from each the iower classes, the female relatives other. Since I began to write this crowd about the door when the corpse paper, I inquired at an acquaintance is carrying out, and frequently give if he ever heard the story, just men
most audible vent
to their grief; tioning Mr Craighead's name, and the sometimes the widow will insist upon particulars were again repeated to me, carrying her deceased husband's head such as they were impressed upon my part of the way to the grave. The memory tiventy or thirty years ago. husband always walks to the churchThere seems to be very little difficul- yard, and lays in his wife's head. ty in accounting for the death of the Very absurd customs of feasting on young man, without any supernatural these occasions formerly prevailed.
On the evening before the funeral, a on these occasions; and I beg leave number of the neighbours, male and to assure the nine trades of Dundee, female, were invited to the “ coffin- that their funerals have often attracting;" and immediately after the fu- ed the attention, but never the apneral, the same females and others probation, of strangers. No person concerned assembled to what is still is asked into the house, nor is any termed the dairgie, probably a cor- thing offered. This is as it ought to ruption of dirge, although the rites be; for, although some can afford the observed are very dissimilar.
expence, the many cannot ; and it is What I have just now described absurd to think of a poor widow, who was once almost universal, and is still has lost the support of herself and faprevalent among many of the common mily, expending in this way what classes, at an expence very unsuitable should feed and clothe her orphans, to their incomes and situations in while every one can easily conceive life.
the different feelings which unite to Among those in the better ranks, prevent her from deviating from the such as respectable farmers and trades- general custom. men, the company are all seated in
I propose to give you some remarks the barn, where they partake of a in my next on the principal holidays good dinner, and sit for an hour or formerly observed in Scotland, and two after, drinking toddy, sometimes the popular superstitions and customs wine. Formerly it was nothing un- connected with them. Meanwhile I common for the company to get very remain, &c.
TAODUNUS. tipsy before rising from the table, but Carse of Gowrie, Feb. 4, 1819. the practice of dinners is wearing out, or, when they do take place, the guests, with a decorum more suited
EDUCATION COMMITTEE, AND to the occasion, rise very soon after.
THE QUARTERLY REVIEW. In the two neighbouring towns of Arbroath and Dundee, the customs at The present age seems to be disfunerals are very different from each tinguished by two prominent features other. In Arbroath, whatever the apparently of a very different characrank of the deceased, every one who ter. The future historian may reappears at the funeral is dressed in inark, that the general diffusion of black, if he has a coat of that colour, knowledge had enlarged our views --if not, in his holiday clothes; all and our hopes, and, by stripping bare are invited into the house of the de- errors and abuses, sanctified in the ceased, and presented with a diran; minds of the vulgar by antiquity and if the person is of any rank above la- early associations, had left us free to bouring people, a choice of wines and enter upon a career of wisdom and spirituous liquors, with a variety of prosperity. About this period, he sakes, &c. are on the table, for the may observe, men began to inquire, entertainment of the guests. Two and to reason concerning their politi«: gentlemen attend to serve them, and cal rights and duties, and all those every one walks into the room, tastes circumstances in international and inof what he likes, and immediately re- ternal policy, which are supposed to tires to make room for others; the have an influence on their condition, number invited will often amount to with more freedom and earnestness two hundred, and upwards.
than at any former period. He will In Dundee, unless among the high- record the dreadful conflicts which er ranks, the company assemble at ensued between the supporters of esthe door in their working clothes, tablished systems, and the advocates weavers in dirty linen jackets, and for innovation, and mark the blindshoemakers with their greasy aprons. ness and extravagance of both ; as This is not decorous; it shews a want well as the alterations in the state of of respect to the memory of their de- society into which these conflicts at ceased friend, and indicates an indif- last subsided. ference of mind, and deficiency of But the distinction of the present. feeling on so solemn an occasion ; at age which has been alluded to is disleast such is the construction which I played not only in action, but in spehaveoften heard put upon this custom,' culation ; not only in revolutions, and so anomalous to the general practice those still peaceful struggles between
rulers and their subjects, which may far as such doctrines have become pobe the precursors of new revolutions, pular, in the same degree it might be but in those quiet and less obvious expected that the natural ties which indications of the progress of society, connect men with one another would which may be gathered from the nae become weaker, till at last all others ture of the investigations in which a were absorbed in self-interest in its number of literary men have engaged naked and most offensive form. Yet during the last fifty years. Those no conclusion could be further from powers of reasoning which were for- the truth than this; for the same merly wasted on matters of small in- page of history that records the rise terest to mankind, and led to no use and progress of the investigations we ful conclusions, have been devoted to have referred to, will be embellished a careful analysis of subjects of the with a display of some of the highest very highest importance. Views of virtues that ennoble our nature. In society have been exhibited, begin: this country, in particular, there proning with its simplest elements, and bably never was a tiine when so many gradually ascending to its most com- enlightened efforts were made as at plicated condition; and, in this pro- present for ameliorating both the mocess, the sources of enjoyment and of ral and physical condition of the dessuffering have been detected, and ge- titute, and of the lower orders in general rules deduced for the direction neral. Not to mention the abolition of nations as well as individuals. La- of the slave trade, and the vigilant bour, commodities, the interchange humanity of the African Association, of commodities or commerce, money it is enough to advert to measures of the instrument of commerce, taxation, a domestic nature, such as Friendly institutions for relieving the destitute, Societies and Saving Banks, vaccinapopulation,-all these, and other dif- tion and fever hospitals, asylums for ficult subjects of the saine description, lunatics, and for the blind, the deaf which no writer in former ages did and dumb, and the diseased in genemore than touch upon, have been ral,- and, above all, to the exertions examined separately, and in combi- that have been made in every quarter nation, and are now formed into an to strike at the root of most of the harmonious, if not invulnerable sys- evils of society, by educating the lowtem, which rests on a few general er classes in the principles of religion principles. Whatever errors may yet and morality, and in the elements of remain, it is certain, that by this useful knowledge. The philanthropy means many have been discovered and of the age has taken even a wider exploded ; and that such works as range than this, and thrown a ray of those of Smith and Malthus have had peace and hope into those dismal no small influence both upon our fo- mansions in which, while the law is reign and domestic policy.
punishing perhaps a slight offence, But it might possibly be suspected, the offender is exposed to a course of While the public mind was so deeply training which fits him for the perpeengaged with these abstruse inquiries, tration of the most atrocious crimes. which not only did not admit, but In this respect Mrs Fry and her beseemed to exclude on principle all the nevolent associates have improved upkindlier feelings of our nature, that on the unwearied self-devotion of we had become a selfish generation, Howard. Their object is not solely intent on nothing but the pursuit of nor chiefly to relieve the bodily sufriches or power. Such, it has been ferings of these outcasts from society, said, is the object of all these specu- but, by means of instruction and emlations in political economy. Those ployment, to convert a jail into what who would abolish poor-rates and it certainly never has been hitherto in public charities of every kind, with- this country,--a school for acquiring hold public aid from religious and ci- regular habits and useful knowledge. vil instruction, and, without encou In all the experiments that have tagement or protection, leave every been lately made for alleviating human to make the best of his way man misery, or relieving it, one strikthrough life by his own independent ing point of difference is observable and unaided exertions, may well be in the means employed now and in suspected of being little accessible to former times. The readiest, if not the claims of helpless misery. In so the only method of relieving the poor
formerly was by pecuniary donations, works contain the clearest evidence of and the only contrivance resorted to the efficacy of this moral remerly,-few for diminishing crimes was to threaten comparatively who had been instructand sumetimes to inflict punishments ed and acquired regular habits in pristill more and more severe. Both son having been afterwards committhese plans, it is now admitted, have, ted for new offences. been eminently unsuccessful. They It may seem difficult to reconcile are nothing better than the tempora- ' these labours of pure benevolence ry expedients of wealth and power to which distinguish the present period escape importunity and secure their with the influence we have already own property,-a sort of compromise ascribed to works, the tendency of between their duty and their interest, which is to produce indifference raor rather an apology for neglecting ther than sympathy, and to repress those higher and more arduous duties rather than cherish feelings of comwhich, if performed with diligence passion towards the miserable. The and judgment, would have the effect facts, we think, are nevertheless as we of diminishing poverty and guilt at have stated them; and, perhaps, it their very source. It is to this last may occur, on a little reflection, that object that the efforts of the humane so far from being inconsistent, the and charitable of the present time are one class of facts is in some degree the directed. Whenever the evil to be natural consequence of the other ; not, remedied can be traced to a moral indeed, that works on political econocause, that remedy is now sought for my have given a new stimulus to phiby implanting in the infant mind the lanthropy, but a new and better diseeds of knowledge and virtue, and rection perhaps to its energies. They promoting their growth by early ha- may have taught us in the case of the bits of order, industry, and decorum. poor, for instance, that something It is to this mode of training at pa- more is necessary for their relief, and rochial schools, that the comparative- also to prevent the spreading of the ly rare occurrence of crimes commit- evil, than poor-rates and workhouses. ted by Scotsmen, either in their own The labours of the Committee of country or elsewhere, has been com- the House of Commons on the edumonly and justly ascribed ; and the cation of the poor, afford a pleasing same happy effects have been already evidence of the attention that now be experienced in England, since the gins to be paid to this important subnew plan of education has been in- ject in the highest quarters; but, at troduced there. We have seen a do- the same time, they have brought to cument, though it is not at hand to light a number of facts, which serve refer to, from which it appears, that to qualify the praise of enlightened after several years had elapsed, the humanity, when applied generally to names of none of Joseph Lancaster's the present age. The funds which scholars were to be found among the the piety and charity of our forefanumerous convictions of the metropo- thers destined to education and other lis. * Even in the case of those who benevolent purposes, have been, it aphave contracted vicious habits, and pears, in several instances, grossly subjected themselves to punishment, misapplied ; and are now either enBuxton and Gurney's valuable little joyed by individuals as sinecures, or
have been transferred, without an equi
valent return, on long leases. Mr * Perhaps our correspondent refers to a Brougham's Letter to Sir Samuel Roresolution of a meeting of the friends of the milly, which was noticed in the MaLancasterian system, held at the Freemasons' gazine for last September, has given Tavern, London, on the 11th May 1811.- to the public a few instances of this His Grace the Duke of Bedford in the kind, brought to light by the erichair. It is in these words : “ Resolved, dence taken before the Committee last 10th, That the moral effects of the Royal British System of Education are apparent, year ; but there can be no doubt that from the important fact, that of full 7000 many flagrant cases yet remain conchildren who have been instructed at the
cealed. Royal Free School, Borough-Road, no in
That Mr Brougham, by this prostance has been known of any one of these ceeding, should expose himself to the having been charged with any criminal of- animadversions of the delinquents fence in any court of justice."-Editor. themselves, or their friends, was a