The following letter is part of a long series by Tammas Bodkin, the character used by editor William D. Latto to speak frankly (and amusingly) on current affairs. Latto became editor of the ‘People’s Journal’ in December 1860 and used the platform to launch Tammas, bringing himself a fair amount of fame in Victorian Scotland.
Maister Editor,—Behold me at ane o’clock i’ the mornin’ postin’ oot the Perth Road in search o’ my wife. A certain wreater tells us that he wha gets a wife—I forget if he says a gude ane—gets a gude thing; an’ takin’ my ain experience as my guide I maun needs say that the remark is perfectly true; but I wad add this additional observation, that he wha gets a wife, let her be as gude as ever a woman was—an’ I’ve nae faut to find wi’ Tibbie—gets a very great deal o’ trouble, trauchle, an’ vexation alang wi’ her. He maun tramp oot mony a dub-e’e that he wad never hae required to set a fit in had it no been woin’ to the fack that he has anither to provide an’ care for besides himsel’. Noo, dinna let it be supposed—no, not for a single moment—that I’m grumblin’ because I behooved to mak’ that untimeous journey oot the Perth Road. Far frae that. On the contrary, I gaed wi’ the utmost cheerfulness an’ alacrity, for stark love an’ kindness, no to mention a strong sense o’ duty, drove me till’t, an’ whaur love an’ duty are the impulse it is truly wonderfu’ hoo fast an’ far an individooal will trot withoot feelin’ weary either in mind or body. I mention the trouble an’ trauchle belangin’ to the married estate because they are facks, an’ I canna discover the use o’ hidin’ facks simply for the purpose o’ skinnin’ up a bonnie sentimental story. It wad be tellin’ mony ane if they wad refleck on thae facks afore approachin’ the altar o’ Hymen, for if they did sae they wad hae their minds prepared to thole them withoot girnin’ and grundin’ their teeth at them, an’ consequently there wad be muckle less wark—the less the better—for these Divorce Coort billies wha fatten on the fruits o’ matrimonial misery.
As I paced alang the Perth road the only individooals I cam’ across were the policeman on the beat an’ twa billies dressed in the similitude o’ mechanics—wha had, as I had reason to jalouse, been seein’ their sweethearts. In sundry windocks there were lichts visible, an’ I inferred that the inmates—or some o’ them at least—micht peradventure be in the same plicht as Mrs Clippins. I stoppit noo an’ again, an’ derned for the approach o’ wheels, but a’ was still—naething but the wind soughin’ an’ sighin’ doon the closes an’ roond the lum-heads, together wi’ the eerie caterwaulin’ o’ a pair o’ belligerent cats, wha were doin’ their best to mak’ nicht hideous wi’ their diabolical vells. When I was aboot fornenst St Peter’s Kirk I thocht I heard something like the soond o’ a veehikle—it micht be Tibbie’s chariot or it micht not. I houpit it was, an’ held on my way wi’ renewed vigour. Gradually the soond becam’ nearer an’ nearer, an’ at last I perceived twa figures loomin’ through the darkness, an’ they were seated in a gig! “Here is Tibbie noo,” says I to myself, an’ I stood up i’ the middle i’ the road, and cried, “Halt!” The veehikle halted instanter.
“What in a’ the earth has keepit ye sae lang?” quoth I. “Ye micht hae come frae Stirlin’ let abe Perth sin’ ye set oot. I doot ye’ve been puttin’ aff your time by the way—drinkin’ for ought that I ken.”
“I doubt, sir, you’ve made a mistake,” quoth the fallow wha was drivin’ the veehikle.
“Maybe I have,” quoth I. “Is that you, Tibbie?”
“No, sir—my name isn’t Tibbie,” quoth the female, nor did I consider it necessary to question the correctitude o’ her disclaimer, for her speech bewrayed her. Continue reading “‘Bodkin Taken for a Robber’ (16 December, 1865)”