Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

stairs to their places of business, re-opened the doors, and hung up the key on a nail on the lintel.... By the early afternoon the streets were crowded, for into the main thoroughfare the inhabitants of the city poured. At four o'clock the ladies had their refection, for the “ four hours " all over Scotland, and with all ranks, was a necessary refreshment of the day. In the larger houses the hostess received her visitors in the drawing-room ; but in smaller flats she was obliged, as in the country, to see them in her bedroom. Till 1720 ladies had drunk their ale or claret, but when tea came into vogue that beverage became a necessity, and wine was reserved for the gentlemen.... By eight o'clock all visitors had gone, for the supper hour had come; the maids had arrived with the pattens for the elderly ladies, and lanterns to light their mistresses to their homes in the dark yards and stairs. When citizens began their copious suppers they ate and drank till late, and guests departed not too soberly, while the servant guided their meandering footsteps, and held a candle or lantern to light them to the “mouth" of the close.'

The food of the tenants and their servants was hardly so substantial as that of the lairds. Servants and masters sat at the same table. • Oatmeal pottage,' says Ramsay, 'was once esteemed a great luxury among that set of people. Pease or bean bread was a capital article with them, wheat loaves being now more common in farmers' houses than oatcakes were formerly. In times of scarcity oatmeal used to be mixed with mill dust, or with pease and bean meal. The first mixture was called "grey meal; the other egger meal. The standing dish in every family was kail, and was made without flesh, of greens and grolls—i.l., oats stripped of the husks in the mill. No dinner was reckoned complete without it. After the kail, if there was no flesh, kitchen—i.e., butter, eggs, herrings, or sometimes raw onions were added. Salmon was an article of diet so common in some districts as to be served up to the servants at least three times a week. For supper they had sowens or flummery, 'a cheap and healthy drink. Little ale was provided for them. Their drink in summer was whey and buttermilk; in spring milk, and generally water.

What seems to have been wanting in Scotland during the early part of the century, except during the hungry years,' was not food, but the art of cooking or preparing it, and the desire for dishes other than had been served up from time almost immemorial. Had there been a desire for improvements in the

[graphic]

culinary art, it is almost certain they would have been introduced. But in one or two points in this connection we are scarcely prepared to follow Mr. Graham. Here and there he seems to us to lay too great stress on the statements of one or two writers, and to have generalised somewhat rashly. Fresh beef may have been almost unprocurable during winter, owing to the custom of killing and salting down the meat at Martinmas—a custom followed among all the Teutonic races, which goes back to a very high antiquity, but fresh mutton, we imagine and believe, was procurable all the year round, certainly in what may be termed populous places. The trade of the fleshers or butchers could scarcely be confined to one or two months in the year. The fleshers of Dundee were in use to kill, besides sheep and oxen, cows, lambs, swine, and goats, and to expose their flesh for sale all the year round.* In his Judicial Records of Renfrewshire, Mr. Hector makes the remark that there is no mention of the use of wheaten bread between 1680 and 1730, except among the wealthy : Mr. Ramsay of Ochtertyre agrees with him, and Mr. Graham adopts their statements. Yet in 1698, the bakers of Dundee were in the habit of buying wheat and using flour, and on the 31st November, having in view the practices of certain speculators, unanimously 'statut that non of our masters and members of trade shall not in all time comeing presume to sell any quantetie of wheat or flower to any persone not dwelling within the towne, or to any persone within the towne who are to convey the same to persons in other places without a libertie granted by gennerall consent of the trade. They were in the habit, too, of baking flour, i.e., wheaten flour, ' bisket,' for the use of seamen, both 'bisket butred' and ' unbutred.' On 5th November, 1700, they passed the following enactment, from which it is clear that wheaten flour was in common use, and that different qualities of it were known : “From this time furth no member of the said Baxter Craft presume to sell the twelvepenny loaf, 2s., 3s., 4s., and 6s., loaves of flour bread, either fyne, middling, or mashlome, as also of ry bread, at any lower rate than twelve pennies, 2s., 3s., 4s., and 6s., Scots under the penalties, etc. Bread,

[ocr errors]

• flour bread, as it was called, was also carried to country markets for sale. In short, erery royal burgh and some others had their Baxter crafts, whose business was not confined to making oat cakes and baps, as is often supposed, but were also in the habit of baking and selling both rye and wheaten bread. From time immemorial, too, widows had in most towns tried to eke out a living by baking wheaten bread, though they had usually to obtain the consent of the Bakers' Crafts, who had the monopoly of making and baking bread for sale.

The ale used was what would now be termed.home-brewed.' It was of various degrees of strength and quality, from the weakest to the strongest, and was taken in copious draughts. Especially at funerals was this the case. On seeing the company at the burial of the Laird of Abbotshaugh at Falkirk, some English dragoons, who chanced to be present said one to another, 'Jolly dogs! a Scots burial is merrier than our weddings.' Of the kinds of ale mentioned we have best,' • middling,' black ale,' • cap ale,' and · twopenny. Its different qualities were also denoted by the terms. ostler's ale,' household ale,' and strong ale.' Some idea of the quantity drunk may be gathered from the fact that at the time of the Union there were no fewer than five thousand maltsters in the country. * It was the custom in gentlemen's houses in the North to bring little barrels of strong ale into the room and to ask the company whether they chose old or new. 'Scourging a nine gallon tree,' Mr. Ramsay tell us, was at one time a common feat among lads of mettle. It consisted,' he says, in drawing the spigot of a barrel of ale, and never quitting it night or day till it was drunk out. In some houses spigots were dispensed with. The barrel head was prised off, and all comers helped themselves as freely as they chose. • The favourite regale of the Scot until the present century,'Mr. Ramsay informs us, was French wine.' Casks of claret were at times treated in the same way as barrels of ale, and the claret served out by pailfuls. During the minority of Queen Mary, the pint of Bordeaux cost tenpence and Rochelle wine eightpence, if brought in by the east seas, but if brought in by the west seas, the pint of each cost twopence less. In 1639, French wine was sold in Edinburgh at fourpence the chopin. Brandy was more in vogue than whisky, though by the end of the century it was regarded by some as producing corruption of morals and debility of constitution. Tea drinking became common about 1720. In 1705, green tea was sold in Edinburgh by George Scott, goldsmith, at 16s., and Bohea at 30s. the pound. Medical men regarded it with disfavour; others regarded it as an expensive unpleasant drug. Though the precise time of its introduction among us,' Mr. Ramsay writes, cannot be ascertained, yet all our old people agree that it made rapid progress after the year, and before the Rebellion of 1745 it was the common breakfast in most gentlemen's families. By old-fashioned people, however, he tells us, it was very ill-relished. They either rejected it altogether or required a little brandy to qualify it. In 1744, the Fullarton tenants passed the following resolution against its use :-“We, being all farmers by profession, think it needless to restrain ourselves formally from indulging in that foreign and consumptive luxury called tea ; for when we consider the slender constitutions of many of the higher rank amongst whom it is used, we conclude that it would be an improper diet to qualify us for the more robust and manly parts of our business; and, therefore, we shall give our testimony against, and leave the enjoyment of it altogether to those who can afford to be weak, indolent, and useless.'* During the first half of the century, another beverage seems to have been gaining ground, though probably not then like tea introduced for the first time. This was gin, which went under the names of • English brandy,' • British spirits,' ginn,' and 'Geneva. In 1742, the Town Council of Stirling, at the instance of the maltsters and distillers of the burgh, denounced its use as ' pernicious and destructive,' and ordered a duty of 12s. Scots to be levied upon every Scots pint of it brought into or found in the burgh. Twelve years before that, however, the Convention of Royal Burghs had had under their consideration the many pernicious effects of the clandestine importation and open and excessive consumption of brandy within

* Hewat's Little Scots' World, 126.

[ocr errors]

Scotland.' They complained also of the large sums of money which were yearly exported for the purchase of this unnecessary commodity' to the injury of the home distillers and of the revenue, and resolved to use all diligence and all lawful means to stop the importation of brandy and foreign spirits, of which gin was one.*

The dress of the gentry of the period was usually plain and homely, and of coarse material. It resembled in some particulars,' says Ramsay, “their domestic economy. 'At home, or even at kirk or market, a gentleman,' writes Mr. Graham, went about in homespun clothing and home made woollen shirts, which had been spun by his wife, family, or servants, and woven by the village “ wabster.”) The testimony of Taylor, the Water Poet, and others is to the same effect. On occasions, however, such as marriages, christenings, and funerals, the laird, who went about at home in the morning with greasy night-cap, coat out at elbows, or dirty night or dressing gown, would appear in all the glory of silk stockings, gold or silver laced coat and waistcoat, jack-boots, wig, and laced three cornered hat. The coats had enormously wide sleeves, and the skirts of them were stiffened with buckram, in order to make them stick out. Hats were a sign of respectability or of official dignity. In 1712 the Town Council of Lanark, “considering how decent and becoming it would be at their conventions ... that each Councillor wear a hatt for the credit of this place and of themselves, as representatives of this burgh,' ordained that in future every Councillor when attending Council should wear a 'hatt,' under a penalty of one pund ten shillings toties quoties. By the Town Council of Paisley an act similar to this had been passed almost a century before.† Later on in the century (1743), as we learn from the Town Council Records of Aberdeen, it had been 'for some time past the practice of the principall citys of this nation that the provost of the city should wear black velvet cloathing. The Council therefore ordained that the provost of this city should be cloathed in all times coming with black velvet, mounted with a gold button or not, as the provost for the time

[merged small][merged small][graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »