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A Scottish Sabbath Day
by [?]

On this day

Men consecrate their souls,

As did their fathers

* * * * *

And ah! the sacred morns that crowned the week–

The path betwixt the mountains and the sea,

The Sannox water and the wooden bridge,

The little church, the narrow seats–and we

That through the open window saw the ridge

Of Fergus, and the peak

Of utmost Cior Mohr–nor held it wrong,

When vext with platitude and stirless air,

To watch the mist-wreaths clothe the rock-scarps bare

And in the pauses hear the blackbird’s song

Memory Harvest.”


Walter Carmichael often says in these latter days that his life owed much of its bent to his first days of the week at Drumquhat.

The Sabbath morning broke over the farm like a benediction. It was a time of great stillness and exceeding peace. It was, indeed, generally believed in the parish that Mrs. M’Quhirr had trained her cocks to crow in a fittingly subdued way upon that day. To the boy the Sabbath light seemed brighter. The necessary duties were earlier gone about, in order that perfect quiet might surround the farm during all the hours of the day. As Walter is of opinion that his youthful Sabbaths were so important, it may be well to describe one of them accurately. It will then be obvious that his memory has been playing him tricks, and that he has remembered only those parts of it which tell somewhat to his credit–a common eccentricity of memories.

It is a thousand pities if in this brief chronicle Walter should be represented as a good boy. He was seldom so called by the authorities about Drumquhat. There he was usually referred to as “that loon,” “the hyule ” “Wattie, ye mischeevious boy.” For he was a stirring lad, and his restlessness frequently brought him into trouble. He remembers his mother’s Bible lessons on the green turn of the loaning by the road, and he is of opinion now that they did him a great deal of good. It is not for an outside historian to contradict him; but it is certain that his mother had to exercise a good deal of patience to induce him to give due attention, and a species of suasion that could hardly be called moral to make him learn his verses and his psalm.

Indeed, to bribe the boy with the promise of a book was the only way of inspiring in him the love of scriptural learning. There was a book-packman who came from Balmathrapple once a month, and by the promise of a new missionary map of the world (with the Protestants in red, floating like cream on the top, and the pagans sunk in hopeless black at the bottom) Wattie could be induced to learn nearly anything. Walter was, however, of opinion that the map was a most imperfect production. He thought that the portion of the world occupied by the Cameronians ought to have been much more prominently charted. This omission he blamed on Ned Kenna the bookman, who was a U.P.

Walter looked for the time when all the world, from great blank Australia to the upper Icy Pole, should become Cameronian. He anticipated an era when the black savages would have to quit eating one another and learn the Shorter Catechism. He chuckled when he thought of them attacking Effectual Calling.