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Elphinstone Kist   Doric Verse

    by: Mackie, Dr Lewis

Collected by Dr Lewis Mackie

This was written by the grandfather of R/Admiral G.G. Ritchie.

Fan I wis jist a loonie in yon aul-fashioned fisher toonie
Kent far an’ wide for fluke an’ speldin,
That Geordie’s famous squeel wis held in,
The squeel stood ower yont the burn-
A muckle hoose that held a curn
The ben en’ saired tae get oor lear in,
An e’en wi’ that had room for sparin’
Sae fit wis spare wis crammed wi’ creels
An fitless forms an’ broken steels
An’ murlins, sculls, an’ sauchs an’ rungs,
An’ aul tar-bar’ls wantin bungs,
Helms an fitspars, skeeps an’ clips,
An’bits a’ planks fae wreackit ships.

The but wis fu’ o’ herrin nets,
An’ swings an’ bows, an’ straps an kits
An’ ither gear for fishin boats,
Sou-westers sails an’ oilskin coats
An’ tippens made tae busk a line
For mangrel, sma’, an’ ilka kin
I maistly think I see him yet,
The canny wye he used tae sit
In Guernsey frock an’ carpet sheen,
An’nicht cap faul’t abeen his een
Wi’ specs aye hingin ower his nose
He men’t his breeks or darn’t his hose
An’a his scholars rang’t afore him,
Bound tae behave wi’ strict decorum
For they were sure o’ sharp rebuke
Gin ane but dared look aff his beuk.

The glaikit anes got their rewards
Fan at them Geordie flung the tawrds
The anes tae whilk his tag wis birlt
Gaed up an got their fingers dirlt
They aye deserved fit they did get
For min ye, Geordie wisna blate
He eest tae say, an we were sure
He'd een ahin as weel's afore
Bit yet we likit Geordie weel
As seen's we saw him gaun tae squeel
We eest tae rin wi aa oor feet
Ilka ane wi his beuk an peat
An tried a race like onything
Tae see fa'd get the bell tae ring.

We'd neither Boord nor Squeel inspectors
An nae new fangled Science Lect're
Bit fit wis aften muckle better
He learnt us foo tae vreet a letter.
An richly train't oor hans an mins
Tae readin beuks an reddin linrs
Tae makkin sneeds an keepin coonts
An splicin lines an beetin wints

He sometimes made strae rapes as weel
An got the mucklest in the squeel
Tae ca the hanly as he lat oot
An twist it weel tae mak it stoot
An fit for ony ordnar use
Tae wap a lum or thack a hoose

Fan fowk cam in he'd crack am news
On kirk an state, an gie his views
'Boot heretics an' non intrusion
An wish them naething bit confusion
Wha dared tae set up anither kirk
Opposed tae Scotland's sacred ark-
The Faith's Confession cut an dry
By whilk enlichtment me micht try
The creed an works o freen or foe
An judge gin they were richt or no.

We hid a kin o 'xamination
In readin, writin, numeration
Fan Reverend Mister Rust cam doon
An ilkie elder in the toon
Wis there tae pit us through oor facins:
They niver speirt oor ither lessons
Thinkin dootless siclike learnin
Wis hardly woth their concernin
Like mony mair micht better ken
They didna see the simple en
An aim o ilka education
Tae mak a workin thinkin nation
Tae help a man dae better wark
In labour, commerce, State an Kirk
Mister Rust wis maist exactin
In scrapin, booin an cursty-actin
Wi Carritches an Bible learnin
He tried us sair, an gae's oor fairin
Gin ilkia questiojn wisna answered
Fae Man's chief end tae Tenth commandment
Accordin tae the printit text
Wi ilka proof an reason annex't
Or telt the date o Adam's fall
O' Noah's ark, or Abram's call
Or read richt aff withoot a falter
The vera hardest “namie” chapter.

Awa’ fae squeel he lookit kindly
An’ smil’t upon us maist divinely
As lika loon his bonnet liftit:
Folk said he wis geylies giftit;
He’d jist an unco’powerfu’ brain
An made a beuk on sooty rain,
An’ kent a hantle byous knowledge
He’d learn’t at muckle squeel an’ college.

I wat he preached a powerfu’ sermon
The lang-taed wirds war quite alarmin’.
He’d dunt it oot wi’ hearty thuds
Eneuch tae brak the bible brods
While ilka wifie shook her heid
As were her dearest freen war deid,
An’ pecht an’ sich’t wi’ vera winner
An’ thocht hersel an’ unca sinner
For nae bein fit tae unnerstan
The learn’d discoorse sae awfu gran’.

Merchant Willie tried oor coontin
In lang diveesion, compoond moontin’,
Practice, interest, vulgar fractions,
Rule o’ three,an’ root extractions.
I wat he lookit unca gleg
In’s best surtout an’ Sundays leg
0’ polished timmer trimm’t wi’ brass
Hobblin aboot fae class tae class
A’ lookin ower the laddies workin,
Ilka sklate or paper markin
Fair, or middlin, gweed or ill--
A very clever man wis Will!
For ilka week boucht an saul
As mony things wad fill a yawl;
Tea an’ sugar,soap, an treacle,
Forks an’ speens an’ fishin tackle
Floor an’ currants, claith an’ beuks,
Worsit mutches, threed an’ heuks,
Pretty Nansy, strippit stringin’,
Yalla cotton, chequert gingham,
Blue baize coats, an lilac prints,
Tar an tows an leather pints
An’ mustard, butter, eggs an’ honey,
Nae doot he made a bonny penny
An’ aye’s he weighed the meal or barley
He hummad or fussel’t “ Royal Charlie”-
Thee only sang he ever kent,
Bit it gied a’ his feelin’s vent;
He humm’d it slow fan douce he’d feel
An’ fusselt fast fan blithe an weel.
Cooper Jamie spiert oor spellins
An’ tried tae cure oor little failins
In readin’ an pronouncin’ wirds;
For though a man o’ staves an’ girds
(An’nae a man in a’ the warl could mend a tub or mak a bar’l
An’ dae them better). He wis weel learn’t
An ilka penny that he earn’t
Wis justly got an weel taen care o’,
A hantle o’ poverty an’ sorrow
Micht spare us a’ gin we bit heedit
The simple maxims he aye pleadit
Ne’er tae connach, blaud or waste,
An’ ne’er the maddenin drink tae taste,
An’ mak oor means by constant care,
Supply oar wants an’ something mair.
He eest tae gie us spales an chips
For makin winmulls, bats an ships.
Or let us watch him in his shoppie,
An’ aye wis pleased tae see us happy.

Oor writin’ syne wis seen by John,
The elder fae the Mid-a-toon;
Lang strokes, aan muckle vreet an sma’
He lookit ower them ane an a’.
He vrote a bonny han himsel’
Though he wis aul an’ growin frail,
Bit ilka loom in a’ the squeel
Kent brawly John aye wish’t them weel.
He wis an upricht honest man
As ever God spent breath upon,
Believed in a’ the country through
For ilka wird he spoke wis true.

Preachin Davie cam tae see us
An mony a gweed advice he’d gie us
Tae fear the Lord an’ seek the Saviour,
Tae shew respect in oor behaviour
Towards oor neebours, sisters, brithers.
Obey oor fathers, love oor mithers
He wis an earnest Godly man,
Lived by the labour of his han’
A fisherman like those of old
By whom the gospel first wis told.

An syne we got oor leavin’s oot
Tae play oorsels an’ rin aboot
At smuggle-gig, the bat,or chevy,
Ower the Dell or up the Rivei,
Or doon tae Johnnie Cushnie's Pot,
Tae sail a cock-a-bendie boat
We made o’ ony penny beuk;
An’ some wad gang tae tak a dook
An’ learn tae sweem on corks an blaithers
Or ilka ane huddin up the ithers.
Or gin the yawls war left afloat
An’ twa short oaries could be got
We’d row a bulgar roon the Black Rig
Or fish for podlins aff the Dilcecraig:
I’m sure we didna wint for fun
Afore the squeel again begun.

Bit Geordie noo is in his grave,
He’s gane awa’ like a’ the lave.
Fan fowk’s nae weel he’s sairly missed
Bit as he’s gane Gweed gie him rest,
For Tough wis aye a skeely man,
At mony things he tried his han’
Thackit’s hoose fan’t not repairs
An kent aye fit wis gweed for sairs,
Had a kinkin a’ draps an’ mixters,
Healin saws an stickin plaisters
An siller buckles- strange concerns
For cunin puir forespoken bairns

The loons that war at Geordie’s squeel
Are growin up an’ thrivin weel.
Some gaed awa tae learn a trade,
An some are clerks an’ merchan’s bred:
Some gaed awa tae dae the same
Bit thocht themsels ower far frae hame,
Sae they gaed back amo’ their brithers
Tae bide at hame aside their mithers.

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