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.

[186] Sir H. Moncreiff’s Life of Dr. J. Erskine.

[187] Extraordinary.

[188] In Scotland it is usual to term the law-agent or man of business of any person his “doer.”

[189] And yet, even as we write, weepers seem to be passing into reminiscence.

[190] This expression was adopted apparently in ridicule of the French applying the word “Madame” to a cow.


I am very anxious to bear in mind throughout these Reminiscences, and to keep in view the same feeling for my readers—­viz. that such details regarding the changes which many living have themselves noticed as taking place in our customs and habits of society in Scotland, should always suggest the question to the thoughtful and serious mind, Are the changes which have been observed for good?  Is the world a better world than that which we can remember?  On some important points changes have been noticed in the upper classes of Scottish society, which unquestionably are improvements.  For example, the greater attention paid to observance of Sunday, and to attendance upon public worship,—­the partial disappearance of profane swearing and of excess in drinking.  But then the painful questions arise, Are such beneficial changes general through the whole body of our countrymen? may not the vices and follies of one grade of society have found a refuge in those that are of a lower class? may not new faults have taken their place where older faults have been abandoned?  Of this we are quite sure—­no lover of his country can fail to entertain the anxious wish, that the change we noticed in regard to drinking and swearing were universal, and that we had some evidence of its being extended through all classes of society.  We ought certainly to feel grateful when we reflect that, in many instances which we have noticed, the ways and customs of society are much improved in common sense, in decency, in delicacy, and refinement.  There are certain modes of life, certain expressions, eccentricity of conduct, coarseness of speech, books, and plays, which were in vogue amongst us, even fifty or sixty years ago, which would not be tolerated in society at the present time.  We cannot illustrate this in a more satisfactory manner than by reference to the acknowledgment of a very interesting and charming old lady, who died so lately as 1823.  In 1821, Mrs. Keith of Ravelstone, grandaunt of Sir Walter Scott, thus writes in returning to him the work of a female novelist which she had borrowed from him out of curiosity, and to remind her of “auld lang syne:”—­“Is it not a very odd thing that I, an old woman of eighty and upwards, sitting alone, feel myself ashamed to read a book which, sixty years ago, I have heard read aloud for the amusement of large circles, consisting of the first and most creditable society in London?” There can be no doubt that at the time referred to

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