ST. JOHN’S CHAIR

Frae: R. De Bruce Trotter, Galloway Gossip (1901), pp. 114-118

JOSEPH TRAIN wus an Ayrshireman. A dersay he couldna help it, for he wus a verra decent man for a’, an his wife wus a verra nice buddy too, an a gran’ maker o’ bore-tree-berry wine. He wrote a lot o’ books – “The History o’ The Isle o’ Man,” “The History o’ the Buchanites,” “The Mountain Muse,” an a lot o’ ither things.

He wus Supervisor o’ Excise at Castle-Douglas, an dee’t there, an he wus a great collector o’ antiquities, an huntit for them a’ ower the country, an bocht awfu lots o’ rubbish fae folk, joost tae get them tae fetch him things yt micht be o’ mair use tae him.

He wus awfully please’t if onybuddy ax’t tae sae his collection, an wud spen’ ony amount o time lettin them see the curiosities, an tellin them the history o’ them.

He got tae believe some o’ the histories hissel in coorse o’ time.

Of coorse, the maist o’ the histories he got ready-made for him whun he bocht the things, but he didna let ony o’ them spoil in the tellin.

We use’t tae visit them whunever we gaed tae Castle-Douglas, an he cam oor wey whiles too, for the doctor wus antiquity mad, as weel as him.

He nearly herry’t the haill country-side tae get things tae sen’t tae sir Walter Scott, an took the verra jougs aff Threave Castle an sent them.

Yince he wus at oor hoose he wus tell’t aboot St. John’s Chair in the Aul’ Clachan o’ Da’ry, an naethng wud ser’ him but he bud hae’t tae sen’t tae Sir Walter. It wus a stane chair yt John the Baptist use’t tae sit in whun he wus leevin in the Glenkens; an it’s lookit on as something verra precious in the clachan, an great care’s taen tae preserve’t.

It sits at the corner o’ the dyke whaur the aul’ road tae The Ardoch brenches aff, joost fornesnt the aul’ hoose whaur the famour risin o’ the Covenanters originatit yt endit sae unfortunately at Rullion Green.

The beginnin o’t wus that god-fearin an saintly Episcopalian, Graham o’ Claverhouse, tryin tae toast yin o’ the M’Lellans o’ Barscobe tae death on a red-het girdle ower the fire, tae gar him tell whaur some o’ the Covenanters wus hidden.

Claverse wus that muckle thocht o’ by wur gran’ new Scotch Gentilities, yt no lang sinsyne they put up a gran’t memorial tae him in St. Gileses Kirk, Edinburgh, praisin him up for torturin an hangin an shootin an murderin defenceless men an women in “the good old times” o’ the Persecution.

Ye see he wus an Episcopalian, an that’s the religion yt’s fashionable amang the Shabby-Gentilties noo; the verra descendants o’ some o’ them he murder’t acuase they wudna turn Episcoplaions at the word o’ command, bein Episcopalians noo tae be in the fashion.

That comes o’ mixin up wi thae English.

They tell me yt the minister o’ St. Giles is as naur Episcopacy as he can wun athoot bein turn’t oot o’ his kirk – an steepen; an some thinks he’s that faur gane yt he micht like an image o’ Claverse set up in his kirk tae sae prayers tae, they wey the Scotch Episcopalians an the Papists dis. They say they fun an aul’ airm bane whun they wur cleanin the kirk, an they thocht it wus the yin o’ St. Gileses yt the Papists had, an wantit a  gran’ shrine made tae pit it in for the godly tae worship, but somebuddy fun oot yt the bane belang’t tae the wrang airm, an sae they didna get it dune.

An they ca’ theirsels Christains in Edinburgh, A’m hearin.

Weel, aul’ Train yokit the gig, an aff his wa’s tae Dalry, an fun oot at the Inn whaur St. John’s chair wus keepit; an he gat a boy tae let him see’t, an he examine’t it verra carefully, an thocht it wud be a prize; sae he yokkit the gig again, an drave awa up the Clachan,  an bye the stane, an oot as far as Mossroddoch, an than turn’t an cam back doon again. As he cam back doon he stoppit the gig, an jumpit oot, an liftit the chair intae’t, an in efter’t, an doon the Clachan as hard as he could drive.

Some o’ the natives notice’t him liftin something inta the gig, but thocht little o’t, but Jenny Mounsey saw whut it wus, an roar’t oot – “Eh, the villain! he haes stown the chair!”

Than the yell gat up, an hearin yt their Palladium wus in danger, they swarm’t oot like a hive o’ bees aboot him, an nearly rave the horse an gig tae pieces, an half-brain’t the puir gauger, till he wus gled tae rin an save his life.

Thre wus never sic a bruilzie in the bit sin’ the drawin for the Militia; an swords, an scythe blades, an airn flails, an weapons yt hadna seen the licht sin’ the Pentlands, wus brocht oot tae demolish the vagabond yt wus tryin tae tak awa the lucky-stane o’ the Clachan.

The gig wusna worth a croon whun they were dune wi’t, an the Gauger wud a’ been worth less could they ‘a gotten a haud o’ him, but he hid in a garret at the Inns, an had tae slip awa through the nicht, an gang hame a’ the wey on his fit, an write for the beast an the remains o’ the gig tae be sent doon tae him at Castle-Douglas. It wus a while afore they could get onybuddy tae gang wi’t.

He try’t tae bribe different gangrels tae pit St. John’s Chair in their cuddy-cairts an bring’t tae him; but it’s no at Abbotsford yet. It wus gaurdit nicht an day for months efter.

JOHN THE BAPTIST

A CHOICE O’ HELLS

Partial Glossar

Definitions frae DSL (links are tae the relevant entries).

  • Bore-tree ‘The elder tree.’ [BOURTREE]
  • Whiles ‘Sometimes, at times, occasionally.’ [WHILES]
  • Jougs ‘An instrument of punishment or public ignominy consisting of a hinged iron collar attached by a chain to a wall or post and locked round the neck of the offender.’ [JOUGS]
  • Clachan ‘A hamlet, village, gen. containing a church; “a small cluster of cottages”. [CLACHAN]
  • Bud ‘Behoved. Still gen. used as a past, sometimes also as a present, but not so exclusively as in the case of ought and must. Bude is likewise used as a pa.p. and a pres.inf.. The word denotes logical, moral or physical necessity.’ [BUDE]
  • Fornenst ‘Opposite (to), in front of, over against, facing.’ [FORNENST]
  • Gar ‘To make, cause; to force, compel, esp. to make (a person) do (something).’ [GAR]
  • Sinsyne ‘Ago.’ [SENSYNE]
  • Wun ‘= Eng. get: (1) to make or find one’s way, to proceed, pass on, to succeed in arriving at some destination, freq. with the notion of surmounting obstacles on the way.’ [WIN]
  • Steepen ‘The salary of a Presbyterian minister.’ [STEEPEND]
  • His wa’s ‘with verbs of motion, as comegaeganghasterinslipstapsit, later extended to others, after possess. prons., gen. in the form wa (orig. adv. accus.) or waas (orig. adv. gen., later construed as a pl.), and now only liter. or dial. in Eng. as to go one’s way, etc. The usage is little more than pleonastic, continuing the sense of the verb, sometimes connoting ‘away’.’ [WEY]
  • Stown ‘Stolen.’ [STEAL]
  • Rave (past tense of rive) ‘To tear, rend, rip, lacerate, of cloth, paper, skin or the like.’ [RIVE]
  • Gauger ‘An exciseman.’ [GAUGE]
  • Sic ‘Such’ [SIC]
  • Bruilzie ‘A commotion, a noisy quarrel, an affray.’ [BRULZIE]
  • Airn ‘Iron.’ [AIRN]
  • Gangrel ‘A tramp, vagrant, vagabond. [GANGREL]
  • Cuddy ‘A donkey.’ [CUDDY]