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The gallant Colonel Blackader, an elder of the church of Scotland, was, it is said, once and once only overtaken with drink, and that but slightly, and under extenuating circumstances. But the sense of the sin seemed to sink deep into his soul. "This has been to me," says he in his diary, "one of the most humbling, melancholy days of my life; a mortifying, humbling day." It was owing, we are given to understand, "to the foolish fashion of treating young married men."
In some universities it is believed that the "sealing of the gown" exists and among medical students there are drinking usages connected with dissections and other occasions.
Of the rules of drinking among masons we shall only give one the foundation, or founding pint; it is a bonus of drink, varying from the value of a sovereign to ten guineas, according to the size of the building, and is given to the men by the proprietor, on the occasion of the foundation stone being laid, or it may be some time afterwards. This, and the other usages of masons, is a sad source of vexation to employers and contractors; the men are generally some days idle in consequence, and have frequently the police-office for their night's lodging on such occurrences. The masons at a certain large public building lately applying to an acting member of the committee for the founding pint, were answered thus: "If it were anything to make you and your families more comfortable, to help to educate your children, or even to afford you expedient recreation, it would not be denied; but since you demand the thing which is likely to lead you directly into what is the bane and curse of this country, you may rely upon it that no remonstrances shall induce us to comply with your request.' The applicants acquiesced in silence to the justness of these remarks, and it is hoped that in certain quarters, at no distant period, a fund for the education of the children of masons shall be formed out of this usage money. At building a bridge, a gallon of whisky is given at driving the key-stone of the arch, and another at laying on the cope stones on the ledges.
The joist-money is a similar bonus of strong liquor to the house-carpenters, at laying the first joists. Men are sometimes induced, after partaking of drink on this occasion, to attempt to walk a joist longitudinally, and sustain injury by falling. The roofing pint, or delivery of keys, is a similar
Millers. When grain is ground at the mill, a drink pay
ment is, in some places, demanded, termed "wetting of the multure" (i. e. mill-dues). Millers have their principal share in this usage.
Lime-works.-When the boring is finished, and the first limestone is raised, the workmen are treated with spirits, frequently to intoxication: the same takes place also at the following occasions: when the first kiln is lighted, when a brisk sale makes it necessary to burn "lazy kilns," and at the end of the season.
Contractors.-The taking work which has been contracted to be done according to estimate off the hands of the contractor, or, in some cases, workmen, is attended with a drinking usage and this has place in the case of making of fences, building of walls, making of roads, drainage, and other country operations.
CHAPTER V. ·
Farmers and Farm Servants-Usages at various Agricultural OccupationsLabourers-Miscellaneous Occasions-Launching Wherries-Weaver's Harness-tying-Women applying Leeches or administering Medicine-Operators on Cattle-Clubs-Ancient Connexion of joyful Occasions and Liquor-Usage at Arthur's Seat.
Farmers. When a sheep farmer leases his farm to another, and his sheep are taken by the new tenant at a valuation, there is a drinking usage common, and strong drink is handed round to all present; and it is a frequent boast how many have been made drunk on the occasion. Farmers, also, in the hill parts of the country, sometimes form themselves into groups for the purpose of purchasing wine and liquors in quantities, and having these divided among the parties to the transaction: this is done alternately at each other's house, and a drinking usage and debauch ensues. In one case a respectable informant states, that the consequence of this and other usages is, the habitual inebriation of many farmers in the parish, together with the minister and his eldest daughter.
At the hiring of farm servants, and settling with them on leaving their place, etiquette requires the mutual consumption of a dose of ardent spirits between master and man or maid,
And here, as in courtship drams, a marked degree of national folly in our wise and sagacious countrymen is visible; for above all things, most people would wish to avoid every practice that may mar the sobriety of a servant or a wife; but the rule is in the mean time like the laws of the land, and quite irresistible. At putting on the rims or tyres of cart wheels, at sharpening of plough-shares and of sickles, at cutting the last sheaf in harvest, at milling of grain, and settling with the miller, at loan of peat carts, at filling carts with sawn wood, at weighing of hay and calculating the weight, a dram, one or more according to the rule of the district, is due. At the shoeing of horses, there is a glass; and of some cases it may be said,
"At every naig is ca'd a shoe on,
The smith and Tam got roaring fou on."-Burns.
When a young horse is sent to the smith's shop to be shod for the first time, or when any horse has his tail docked, a bottle of whisky is given in either case to the smith and his men. One informant has known a shoe so fabricated of purpose, as to make it difficult to put it on without drawing blood, and thus incurring the half-guinea drink fine. At shearing and smearing of sheep in the moorland districts, a whisky usage obtains. The messenger who carries invitations to a funeral, is, in some parts of the country, entitled by etiquette to the refusal of a glass at every house where he calls-this is a privilege, however, which is so seldom put in practice, that he generally returns home very drunk. The baron officer on many estates, on warning the tenants to come to pay their rents at term day, is entitled to a glass at every house, but he may refuse without offence, on the ground that he has had a service in the houses at which he first called. The dram often accompanies the payment of rents, as well as the speakings and communings with the laird respecting rotation of crops, fences, roads, and other matters. For a great number of small services the only remuneration is whisky or rum: in the case of the parties being unequal in rank, one of them only partakes; in that of equality, both generally share, and sometimes reciprocity obtains, which, here, is a very dangerous circumstance. Thus a dram is bestowed on the servant who brings a present of game, or gives tidings of a birth; on hackney coachmen after a cast, on porters on bringing a burden of something particular, on occasional gardeners after a little work, on a neighbour's servant who has assisted at something, on an individual who has found and returned a stray
dog or calf, on a servant in the country who has brought an invitation to dinner; and among equals, where a good penman is employed to write letters to friends or sweethearts, where an experienced mechanic teaches an apprentice to draw the parts of machinery, or a mason the working plans of a house, or a shipwright the mouldings of a vessel; or where one man consults another on a secret matter of business, his advice on the value of a cow, or on the character of a woman he thinks of proposing for in the way of marriage; or of the candidate he contemplates voting for either parliament or at the friendly club;-in all such, and in a hundred other cases, whisky must intervene, and is sometimes, if the parties get very "gracious," only the prelude to more dangerous drinking.
When a man's wherry is so large that the assistance of neighbours is required to launch it, a bottle of whisky is necessary. Something like the following dialogue is not unusual: "What are you waiting for now?" says a lowland gentleman to a highland boatman; "I am sure all the folk are come, and she might have been in the water half an hour ago." "Oo, ay, sir, nae doubt, but the acknowledgment's no come yet,"-meaning the whisky which the messenger was dilatory in fetching.
When a weaver employed in raised or flowered work, changes his pattern, he requires the assistance of six or eight fellow-workmen to tie the harness. Time is sometimes precious with this profession, and when that is the case, the process, which takes up several hours, is performed at night. A large allowance of whisky is ready, and before commencing work, a glass is handed round to each; this dose is repeated at every fifty cords that are tied; and at the conclusion, wives, drawboys, and others, are admitted to what frequently turns out to be an absolute revel. Most of those engaged can work but little next day, and some of the more dissipated make a three days' ramble of it. So much for saving time! Many individuals in this trade lament the commanding necessity of the usage, and for years have attempted its mitigation without success. Combination, however, against it in toto, has in various places lately proved quite effectual. It may be observed of this, and all other drinking usages, that the principal point of peril which they involve, is the commencing what ends in a debauch; and that in an apparently innocent, in an authorized and legitimate manner. Before quitting this point, we must advert to the insane wickedness of training drawboys
to drink strong liquor; but this is of a piece with the allowance of two glasses per day, of duty-free rum, to apprentices on ship-board, and with the general permission that seems to be given to children to drink, if we are to judge of the frequency of the practice of little boys drinking over the counter, spending any gift of money they receive in this pernicious way, and even stealing for it. Benevolent persons may shudder at such a consummation as this, and attempt to disbelieve it, but let them really investigate the distressing state of matters in the great towns in this respect, and they will be brought to the most painful conviction; and in the country, I have been assured, on authority I cannot doubt, that such practices are beginning to obtain also.
A woman who has acquired skill in applying leeches and in administering and cutting blisters, if she be in the slightest degree tainted with intemperance, has her habits rendered nearly irretrievable in this country, from the circumstance of her being tempted at every turn by the remunerating dram. Her safety would be to go into voluntary banishment, to some place where she could prescribe and manipulate without a whisky-fee. The wife of a respectable policeman having acquired drunken habits, was induced to join a Temperance Society, and to the joy of her husband and friends, kept steady for six months; and to all appearance would have escaped from the snare, but the courteous glass on the occasion of her putting leeches to a neighbour, was the means of her unhappy relapse. A gentleman lately observed to me :-"I am now become very sensible of the evils of the drinking usages you describe. A man in whom I am much interested, who is given to drunkenness, joined, at my suggestion, the Teetotal Society; he kept steady for a considerable time, to the joy of his family, but failed on the late occasion of the christening of his child."
In country places, some men, not professed butchers, having attained skill in the slaughtering and cutting up of cattle, are employed by their neighbours and others in that way. the killing and dividing of sheep, swine and cows, a bonus of whisky is necessary, besides payment in money for the job. The operator on cattle is also subjected to the most grievous trial in the course of veterinary practice; in such cases it is necessary to have several men to hold the animal on which the operation is to be performed. The artist commonly appoints a given day for a small district, and arrives at each place at a certain hour; when the work is ended, a drinking usage is performed. But the individual in question has to go