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. Below the letter will be a verse submitted by a reader about his four month absence.
Maister Editor,—Durin’ the four months that I’ve been haudin’ my tongue I’ve noticed sundry individuals makin’ a bauchle o’ my name an’ fair fame—twa o’ them even gaun the length o’ wreatin’ sangs aboot my silence, an’ insiniwatin’ that I behooved to be on the spree or engaged in some ither equally unwarrantable operation—an’ ane o’ them, in plain prose, blamin’ me for a want o’ consideration for the comfort an’ requirements o’ his “inner bein’.” Noo, as to the twa sangsters, I sall only say that I enterteen a geniwine contempt baith for them an’ for their sangs; an’ as for the proser, I can only advise him if his “inner bein’” is oot o’ order, to tak’ a dose o’ soothin’ medicine, an’ lie in his bed for a curn days, till sic time as he gets relief. Never havin’ studied physic, of coorse I dinna pretend to prescribe for the “inner bein’” in an authoritative manner, an’ therefore he may either tak’ my advice or lat it alane, as he may feed inclined, but if he choose the latter alternative, an’ ony evil consequences follow, he will hae himsel’ to blame, As regards my ancestry, I beg to refer the reader to the volume I published a year or twa syne, [‘Tammas Bodkin, or the Humours of a Scottish Tailor’] wherein my lineage was traced to a very ancient, if not to a very honourable origin, but I am obliged to own that I canna coont St Columba amang my forbears. The only Saint that ever flourished on my family tree was a certain St Snip, wha lived—I sanna say hoo mony centuries back, for if I were to condescend on dates, folk wad be apt to say I was leein’.
I dinna doot but some o’ thae chields wha hae been sclawryin’ my name an’ reputation were very curious to ken hoo my wreatin’s had ceased in a manner sae sudden an’ unaccoontable to appear in your columns, an’ if they had speered the reason why—wi’ a due regaird to the rules o’ good breedin’, eckcettery—I micht hae been prevailed upon to mak’ them as wise as I am mysel’, but seein’ that they hae chairged me wi’ drunkenness, wi’ a disregaird to their “inner bein’,” an’ wi’ a descent frae St Columba, foul fa’ me if I mak’ them a bit wiser on that head. That I was at Peterhead seein’ the launch o’ the “Lifeboat No. 1” I winna seek to deny, but that I got mysel’ fou on that occasion as has been insiniwated or that I misconduckit mysel’ in ony shape, manner, or respect whatsomever, is what I will daur ony man or woman wha has the slichtest regard to truth an’ verity to affirm. Yes I was at Peterhead seein the lifeboat launched, an’ a grand sicht it was; an’ I may state, mair an’ further, that I intend to gang to Arbraoth an’ see the ither ane launched likewise, provided I live lang eneugh; but if the sons o’ St Tammas gang on dilly-dallyin’ as they’ve been doin’ a’ the simmer, an’ dinna get on wi’ the biggin’ o’ the boat-house some faster, I muckle dreed the launchin’ will hae to be put aff till a future generation, an’ then I’ll no see’t. But I maun yoke to the real business on hand, or else a rebellion in your “inner bein’” will be the dreadfu’ consequence, an’ therefore, withoot farther preface or explanation, I sall proceed to gather up the threed o’ the narrative at the spot where it parted sae suddently when I was payin’ it out in the month of June last. Continue reading “‘Bodkin Redivivus’ (14 October, 1865)”