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NEIL Munro's skill as a newspaper editor and Columnist is amply demonstrated
in these passages from the Glasgow Evening News of Thursday, November
24, 1898. They show the breadth of his reading and the standard of his perception
and wit. He can laugh at himself as well and sends himself up in the style of
The Lost Pibroch and other Sheiling Stories.
These items appeared under "Views and Reviews".
In the absence of any manuscript this week from our regular contributor, we
are compelled at the last minute to fill up the column with the following brief
articles secured for us, by telegram, through the well-known Literary Agent,
Mr. A P W-t. We simply sent him the names of the authors from whom we desired
to hear, leaving them to select their subjects. The following are the dire results:-
[There follow a series of pastiches in the style of KIPLING, MEREDITH, NEWBOLT,
CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM & BARRIE and - ]
"The Canal Boatman" by J. ..h C.
A curious craft, surely, combining
in her lines and utilities little of the speed of the felucca, galley, galleot,
pram or dhow yet in her vast, heavy illusion of beam recalling some of the chasses-marees,
or corvets I have seen lurking off the little lost cays and lagoons between
the Ladrones and the Salomon Islands. It had begun to blow immediately after
leaving Lock 16. We hove to at Camelon, pumped, spliced the main-brace, pumped
and spliced the main-brace again. It was terrible, and yet, somehow, I was proud
of the ship and felt something. - you know the feeling - one of exaltation,
of zest, of triumph. We set out again, and near Kirkintilloch the hurricane
struck us, a cruel, unrelenting sou'wester, setting the waves mountain high,
blinding our poor brutes of horses as they laboured incessantly on the towing
path. That night has a quality of dark I have seen in no other time or place.
Faint phosphorent gleams in the far distance but accentuated it, and through
the night there came the most wonderful and elusive odours. Something indescribable,
a devil's impulse, a supernatural allurement in the night seemed to call on
us to quit the ship so fearfully weltering in the storm and risk all in the
long boat. We felt we could make land somehow for we were young, and all the
poignances, the essence, the infatuation, of youth were ours. I think of it
often under the most ludicrous circumstances - of the Mary Jane churning in
a velvet-black night, the galley fire showing up Mac Taggart's legs as he stood
at the wheel, the horses breathing hard, bent over the cable tow, the impenetrable
and vast and terrible darkness. Not a sound came from the land. We were the
serfs of the sea, to be knocked about and get up, again, and fall again, and
again stand up square to that old bully of the night.
For some inscrutable reason the skipper
was anxious to get ahead and make an early landfall at Kirkintilloch. He was
a man with a red nose and it was his first voyage on that route. "We'll do it,
we'll do it; it's only ten minutes past ten," he cried, as we tied up at the
pawls at Kirkintilloch. There was a strange exultation in his utterance. He
hurried up to a house of refreshment and l shall never forget his look of surprise
and pain to find it shut.
"Blind mel" said he, "have they ten
o'clock closing here too?" And he put his face in his hands and wept like a
Ah! old times, old times, will they
ever come back again with the zest, the hope, the joy, the illusion?
"The Celtic Pilgrim" by N..l M.n.o
There was a soft smirr of rain as
he went through Strathbungo with the heather sticking out of his brogues and
a large claymore dangling at his side. It was he was the stout fellow; Black
John they called him in the bye-name of the clan he came off, and from Kintyre
to Cape Wrath there was not a prettier man with the Pibroch. He had the Instrument
under his oxter, and now and then as he went down the Strath he would stop and
play "Bundle and Go" and "Cock of the North, " and the fine tune "Xythrobhuidhk
naskbz quibhodh," which the Macgregors, for reasons, do not like at all. The
smirr was a shower when he got to the foot of the Strath, and by now it was
the mouth of night and "Odhar ciamar aha oo," said he, minding of the days that
were among the heather and the gall. And the eagles barked on Mount Florida.
It was a wet, wet night. By and by he met a man of another clan, with a long
blue "hgwapho" coat, and he said to him, "Sir, is it that you have the language?"
The rain by this time was sweeshing in his brogues. Mists rose and soughed in
the trees in the front plots.
"0 lochain," said he, and they swapped
"And whither art thou going?"
asked the stranger, a black-avised fellow.
"Where, but to the Celtic Bazaar,"
answered Black John, pouring the rain out of the top of his Glengarry bonnet.
"0 lochain, I know what you are
going to do there," said the stranger, and the rain was drooking him and the
eagles were at the barking still on Cross Hill.
"You will be coming to keep a stall
and not to buy at all."
"How do you know that?" asked Black
John, sick-sorry they had swapped slogans.
"Because I see your sporran is very
empty" said the stranger.
The gloom fell on Black John. "The
Red Curse on you!" said he, and he went on his way And the rain - -