« AnteriorContinuar »
with me in coming from the kirk; and the day being showery, she proposed to rest in my house as she passed the door, till a shower that she saw coming would blow over. In doing this, and we being by ourselves, I speired in a civil manner for her daughter; and from less to more she told me something that I shall not rehearse, and, with the tear in her eye, she entreated my advice; but I could give her none, for I thought her daughter had been donsie ; so no more was said anent it ; but the poor lassie from that day fell as it were into a dwining, and never went out; insomuch that before six months were come and gone, she was laid up in her bed, and there was a wally-wallying on her account throughout the parish, none doubting that she was in a sore way, if not past hope.
In this state was her sad condition, when they had an occasion for a gradawa at my Lord's; and as he changed horses at the Cross Keys when he passed through our town, I said to several of the neighbours, to advise the mother that this was a fine opportunity she ought not to neglect, but should consult him anent her dochter. Accordingly, on the doctor returning from the castle, she called him in; and when he had consulted the ailing lassie as to her complaint, every body rejoiced to hear that he made light of it, and said that she would be as well as ever in a month or two; for that all she had to complain of was but a weakness common to womankind, and that a change of air was the best thing that could be done for her.
Maybe I had given an advice to the same effect quietly before, and therefore was none displeased to hear, when it came to pass, that shortly after, the mother and Miss were off one morning, for the benefit of the air of Glasgow, in a retour chaise, by break of day, before anybody was up. To be sure some of the neighbours thought it an odd thing that they should have thought of going to that town for a beneficial air; but as the report soon after came out to the town that the sick lassie was growing brawly, the wonder soon blew over, for it was known that the air of a close town is very good in some cases of the asthma.
By and by, it might be six weeks or two months after, aiblins more, when the mother and the daughter came back, the latter as slimb as a popular tree, and blooming like a rose. Such a recovery after such an illness was little short of a miracle, for the day of their return was just ten months from the day and date of her hurt.
It is needless for me to say what were my secret thoughts on this occasion, especially when I heard the skill of the gradawa extolled, and far less how content I was when, in the year following, the old lady went herself on a jaunt into the East Country to see a sick cousin, a widow woman with only a bairn, and brought the bairn away with her on the death of the parent. It was most charitable of her so to do, and nothing could exceed the love and ecstasy with which Miss received it from the arms of her mother. Had it been her ain bairn she could not have dandalized it more !
Soon after this the young lady fell in with a soldier officer, that was sent to recruit in the borough, and married him on a short acquaintance, and went away with him a regimenting to Ireland ; but “my cousin's wee fatherless and motherless orphan," as the old pawkie carlin used to call the bairn, stayed with her, and grew in time to be a ranting birkie ; and in the end, my lord hearing of his spirit, sent for him one day to the castle, and in the end bought for him a commission, in the
and most generous manner, such as well befitted a rich young lord to do ;
afterwards, in the army, his promotion was as rapid as if he had more than merit to help him.
Now, is not this a thing to cause a marvelling; for I, that maybe had it in my power to have given an explanation, was never called on so to do ; for everything came to pass about it in such an ordained-like way, that really I was sometimes at a loss what to think, and said to myself surely I have dreamt a dream ; for, although it could not be said to have been a case of prognostications, it was undoubtedly one of a most kittle sort in many particulars. Remembering, however, the prudent admonition I had received from the auld leddy of Rigs, I shall say no more at present, but keep a calm sough.
It is no doubt the even-down fact that I had no hand in bringing my cousin's wee fatherless and motherlesz orphan" into the world, but maybe I might have had, if all the outs and ins of the story were told. As that, however, is not fitting, I have just said enough to let the courteous reader see, though it be as in a glass darkly, that my profes. sion is no without the need of common sense in its handlings, and that I have not earned a long character for prudence in the line without ettle, nor been without jobs that cannot be spoken of, but, like this, in a far-off manner.
But it behoves me, before I go farther, to request the reader to turn back to where I have made mention of the poor deserted bairn, Willy Facings; how he was born in an unprepared hurry, and how his mother departed this life, while his ne'er-do-weel father went away like a knotless thread. I do not know how it happened, but come to pass it did, that I took a kindness for the forsaken creature, insomuch that, if his luck had been no better with Miss Peggy Needle, it was my intent to have brought him up with my own weans; for he was a winsome thing from the hour of his birth, and made every day a warmer nest for his image in my heart. His cordial temper was a mean devised by Providence as a compensation to him for the need that was in its own courses, that he would never enjoy a parent's love.
When Miss Peggy had skailed the byke of her cats, and taken Billy, as he came to be called, home to her house, there was a wonderment both in the borough-town and our clachan how it was possible for her, an inexperienced old maid, to manage the bairn ; for by this time he was weaned, and was as rampler a creature as could well be, and she was a most prejinct and mim lady. But, notwithstanding her natural mimness and prejinkity, she was just out of the body with love and tenderness towards him, and kept him all day at her foot, playing in the inside of a stool whamled up-side down.
It was the sagacious opinion of every one, and particularly both of the doctor and Mr. Stipend, the minister, that the bairn would soon tire out the patience of Miss Peggy ; but we are all short-sighted mortals, for instead of tiring her, she every day grew fonder and fonder of him, and hired a lassie to look after him, as soon as he could tottle. Nay, she bought a green parrot for him from a sailor, when he was able to run about ; and no mother could be so taken up with her own get as kind-hearted Miss Peggy was with him, her darling Dagon ; for although the parrot was a most outstrapolous beast, and skrighed at times with louder desperation than a pea-hen in a passion, she yet so loved it on his account, that one day when it bit her lip to the bleeding, she only put it in its cage, and said, as she wiped her mouth, that it was “ a sorrow,”
· By and by Miss Peggy put Billy to the school ; but, by that time, the condumacious laddie had got the upper hand of her, and would not learn his lesson, unless she would give him an apple or sweeties; and yet, for all that, she was out of the body about him, in so much that the minister was obligated to remonstrate with her on such indulgence; telling her she would be the ruin of the boy, fine creature as he was, if she did not bridle him, and intended to leave him a legacy.
In short, Miss Peggy and her pet were just a world's wonder, when, at last, Captain Facings, seven years after Billy's birth, being sent by the king to Glasgow, came out, one Sunday, to our town, and sent for me to learn what had become of his bairn. Though I recollected him at the first sight, yet, for a matter of policy, I thought it convenient to pretend doubtful of my memory, till, I trow, I had made him sensible of his sin in deserting his poor baby. At long and length I made him to know the blessing that had been conferred by the fancy of Miss Peggy, on the deserted child, and took him myself to her house. But, judge of my consternation, and his likewise, when, on introducing him to her as the father of Billy, whom I well recollected, she grew very huffy at me, and utterly denied that Billy was any such boy as I had described, and fondled over him, and was really in a comical distress, till, from less to more, she grew, at last, as obstinate as a graven image, and was not sparing in the words she made use of to get us out of her habitation.'
But, not to summer and winter on this very unforeseen come-to-pass, the Captain and I went to the minister, and there made a confession of the whole tot of the story. Upon which he advised the Captain to leave Billy with Miss Peggy, who was a single lady, not ill-off in the world ; and he would, from time to time, see that justice was done to the bairn. They then made a paction concerning Billy's education; and, after a sore struggle, Miss Peggy, by the minister's exhortation, was brought to consent that her pet should be sent to a boarding-school, on condition that she was to be allowed to pay for him,
This was not difficult to be agreed to; and, some weeks after, Bill was accordingly sent to the academy at Green Knowes, where he turned out a perfect delight ; and Miss Peggy sent him every week, by the carrier, a cake, or some other dainty. At last, the year ran round, and the vacance being at hand, Bill sent word by the carrier, that he was coming home to spend the time with Mamma, as he called Miss Peggy. Great was her joy at the tidings; she set her house in order, and had, at least, twenty weans, the best sort in the neighbourhood, for a ploy to meet him. But, och hone! when Billy came, he was grown such a big creature, that he no longer seemed the same laddie; and, at the sight of him, Miss Peggy began to weep and wail, crying, that it was an imposition they were attempting to put upon her, by sending another callan. However, she became, in the course of the night, pretty well convinced that he was indeed her pet; and, from that time, though he was but eight years old, she turned over a new leaf in her treatment.
Nothing less would serve her, seeing him grown so tall, than that he should be transmogrified into a gentleman; and, accordingly, although he was not yet even a stripling, for that's a man-child in his teens,- she sent for a taylor next day, and had him put into long clothes, with top boots; and she bought him a watch, and just made him into a curiosity, that nowhere else could be seen.
When he was dressed in his new clothes and fine boots, he went out to show himself to all Miss Peggy's neighbours; and, it happened, that, in going along, he fell in with a number of other childer, who were sliding down a heap of mixed lime, and the thoughtless brat joined them ; by which he rubbed two holes in the bottom of his breeks, spoiled his new boots, and, when the holes felt cold behind, he made his hat into a seat, and went careering up the heap and down the slope with it, as if he had been a charioteer.
Everybody who saw the result concluded that certainly now Miss Peggy's favour was gone from him for ever. But she, instead of being angry, just exclaimed and demonstrated with gladness over him; say.. ing, that, till this disaster, she had still suspected that he might turn out an imposture. Was there ever such infatuation? But, as I shall have to speak more anent him hereafter, I need not here say how he was sent back to the academy, on the minister's advice, just dress'd like another laddie.
(To be continued.)
FINANCIAL REFORM, No. II.
By an account laid before the House of Commons on the 18th of July, it appears that the excess of expenditure over income in the year ending the preceding 5th of July amounted to £1,263,187.
We shall endeavour to explain how this excess of expenditure, or, in other words, deficiency of revenue, has arisen ; and also, to give a clear statement of our actual financial condition. This we conceive to be essentially necessary, in order to arrive at a correct opinion with respect to the measures which the new Parliament will have to take.
Although the system of making up the public accounts is still extremely imperfect, it is much more easy to form something like an accurate no. tion of the real amount of the public income and expenditure, than it was a few years since. For so long as payments for instalments of the Dead Weight loan continued to swell the amount of income received, and so long as the old sinking fund of a fixed sum of five millions a-year continued to be applied to redeem debt, it was nearly impossible to learn, from the annual Parliamentary accounts, the true amount of the income and expenditure.
It was in the year 1828 that the Bank paid the last instalment of the dead weight loan ; and, therefore, in the succeeding years, the accounts have been free from the confusion which this loan occasioned. In calling this dead weight transaction a loan, we are aware we give it a character wholly different from that which the authors of this notable hocuspocus sought to impress upon it; but we feel we shall have the sanction of the authority of every fair thinking person, who has examined the nature of the bargain, for calling it a mere loan; because the sole result has been, that the public has received from the Bank a sum of £13,000,000, for an annuity of £500,000, payable for forty-five years. The history of this transaction shews what schemes Ministers have at all times been ready to have recourse to, when in money difficulties, sooner than make reductions in public expenses; and the upshot of the whole of this scheme of anticipating the falling in of military and naval pensions, being nothing else than raising a loan of £13,000,000 in the midst of profound peace ; it also shows how quietly the public are will. ing to allow themselves to be duped by gross misrepresentations of the nature and effects of financial measures.
In consequence of the recommendation of the Committee of Finance of 1828, in their third report, the sinking-fund plan of 1819 was changed. Till then, the law required that five millions a-year should be paid out of the consolidated fund to the commissioners for redeeming the national debt, whether or not the public income exceeded the expenditure by that sum. The way by which this application of a fixed sum of five millions was managed, was by making good any deficiency of income occasioned by it, by borrowing the amount of the deficiency on Exchequer bills. But, as in point of fact, the surplus income constantly fell short of five millions by two or three millions a-year, the practical result of this piece of financial policy was the borrowing of money to pay debt. This appeared to the Committee of Finance to be such a monstrous absurdity and abuse, that a majority of them came to the decision of advising the discontinuance of the plan. It also was found upon investigating the operation of creating new debt to redeem the old one, that it was attended with great loss; because the interest paid on the new debt was greater than that saved upon the purchases made by the Commissioners of the National Debt. The measure recommended by the Committee of Finance was to apply for the future to the reducing of debt no more than what really was an excess of income over expenditure.* It is worth while to notice here the pertinacity with which the worst parts of our financial system are adhered to, and vigorously supported ; a circumstance completely established by the fact, that the greatest resistance was made in the Committee by persons of the highest authority in matters of finance, to the decision which the Committee came to. The question for getting rid of the sys. tem of a fixed sinking-fund was carried only by one vote ; and in the minority, no less distinguished financiers appeared than Mr. Huskisson, Mr. Tierney, Mr. Baring, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Goulburn.
The dead-weight payments, and the old sinking-fund, having ceased in the way now mentioned, the annual Parliamentary account for the year 1829 is the first that gives anything like a fair and clear statement of the annual income and expenditure, although it is still extremely imperfect; and we shall therefore begin what we have to say, in order to ex, plain our present financial condition, with this account.
According to this account, the revenue of 1829 was £50,706,000, the expenditure £49,075,000, and the surplus of income over expenditure £1,711,548. With this surplus, Mr. Goulburn commenced his financial operations for 1830. To this surplus he was able to add, in calculating the Ways and Means of 1830, a saving in the interest on 4 per cent, stock, and on exchequer bills, and a reduction to be made in the annual estimates for the army, navy, &c., as follows: Surplus income over expenditure in 1829,
£1,711,000 Reduction of interest on 4 per cent. stock,
750,000 Reduction of interest on exchequer bills,
180,000 Reductions in the estimates for the army, navy, &c.,
An act was passed early in the session of 1829, for carrying this recommendation into effect.