Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character eBook

Edward Bannerman Ramsay
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 542 pages of information about Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character.

The following is a characteristic Jacobite story.  It must have happened shortly after 1745, when all manner of devices were fallen upon to display Jacobitism, without committing the safety of the Jacobite, such as having white knots on gowns; drinking, “The king, ye ken wha I mean;” uttering the toast “The king,” with much apparent loyalty, and passing the glass over the water-jug, indicating the esoteric meaning of majesty beyond the sea,—­etc. etc.; and various toasts, which were most important matters in those times, and were often given as tests of loyalty, or the reverse, according to the company in which they were given.  Miss Carnegy of Craigo, well known and still remembered amongst the old Montrose ladies as an uncompromising Jacobite, had been vowing that she would drink King James and his son in a company of staunch Brunswickers, and being strongly dissuaded from any such foolish and dangerous attempt by some of her friends present, she answered them with a text of Scripture, “The tongue no man can tame—­James Third and Aucht” and drank off her glass[29]!



The next change in manners which has been effected, in the memory of many now living, regards the habits of conviviality, or, to speak more plainly, regards the banishment of drunkenness from polite society.  It is indeed a most important and blessed change.  But it is a change the full extent of which many persons now alive can hardly estimate.  Indeed, it is scarcely possible to realise the scenes which took place seventy or eighty years back, or even less.  In many houses, when a party dined, the ladies going away was the signal for the commencement of a system of compulsory conviviality.  No one was allowed to shirk—­no daylight—­no heeltaps—­was the wretched jargon in which were expressed the propriety and the duty of seeing that the glass, when filled, must be emptied and drained.  We have heard of glasses having the bottoms knocked off, so that no shuffling tricks might be played with them, and that they could only be put down—­empty.

One cannot help looking back with amazement at the infatuation which could for a moment tolerate such a sore evil.  To a man of sober inclinations it must have been an intolerable nuisance to join a dinner party at many houses, where he knew he should have to witness the most disgusting excesses in others, and to fight hard to preserve himself from a compliance with the example of those around him.

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Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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