Coalman's courtship to the creel-wife's daughter (1840-1850)

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Coalman's courtship to the creel-wife's daughter  (1840-1850) 

Date is estimated.

Creel-Wife's Daughter.

I. Containing a very curious dialogue between the Carter and his Mother, who instructs him in the true art of courtship.

II. Sawny's Visit to his sweet-heart, and what passed betwixt them. With the curious house where Sawny got drunk—and an account of the terrible misfortunes he met with in consequence.

III. Description of his second Visit to his intended bride—what passed between them; and how Sawny was in danger of losing his sweet-heart. How her mother got all parties pleased again: with an account of the Wedding of this happy Couple—the whole abounding with the most laughable occurrences.



All that are curious of Courtship, give attention to the history of Mary and her son Sawney, a young Coalman, who lived in the country, a few miles from Edinburgh.

Mary, his mither, was a gay hearty wife; had mair wantonness than wealth; was twelve years a married wife, nine years a widow, and was very chaste in her behaviour wi' her ain tale, for want o' chargin', for all the time of her widowhood there was never a man got a kiss of her lips, nor laid a foul hand on her hind quarters.

Sawny, her son, was a stout young raw loon, full fae'd, wi flabby cheeks, duddy breeks and a ragget doublet; gade always wi' his bosom bare sometimes ae garter, a lingle or strae rape was gude enough for Sawny. His very belly was a' sunburnt like a piper's bag, or the head of an auld drum, and yet his beard began to sprout out like herring banes. He took thick brose to his breakfast, and baps and ale through the day, and when the coals selled dear, and the win' was cauld, bought an oven-farl, and twa Dunbar Wadders, or a Glasgow Magistrate, which fish-wifes ca's a wastlin herrin'.

His mither, auld Mary, plagued him ay in the morning; she got up when the hens keckled, riping the ribs, blew her snotterbox, primed her nose, kindled her tobacco-pipe, and at every puff breathed out frettings against her hard fortune and lanely single life. O but a widow be a poor name; but I live in a wilderness in this langlonen, mony a man gaes by my door, but few folks looks in to poor Mary. Hoch hey, will I never win out of this wearied life. Wa Sawny, man, wilt thou not rise the day; the sun's up, and a' the nibours round about; Willie and Charlie is on the hill an hour syne, and half gate hame again. Wilt thou rise an gie the beasts a bite, thou minds na them, I wat man. Grump grump, quo Sawny, they got their supper an hour after I got mine. Shut to dead come on them every ane an they get a bit frae me till they work for't.

Sawny. But mither I've been dreaming that I was married, an' in the bed aboon the bride; I wonder gin it be true? Od, I ne'er got sic fun: what will't be, think ye? how auld am I mither? do you think I could man a hissy yet? fegs I have a mind to try; but the saucy hissies will na hae me, I ken weel enough.

Mither. Say you lad, ay mony a hungry heart wad be blythe o' you, but there was never a sca'd Jockey but there was a scabbed Jenny till him yet: dinna be scar'd lad.

Sawny. A hech, mither, I'se no be lordly an I sud tak a beggar wife aff the hi' gate; but I'll tell ye something that I'm ay thinking on, but ye maun na tell the neihbours, for the chiels wad aye jaw me wi't.

Mither. Wad I tell o' thee lad? I wad tell o' mysel as soon.

Sawny. Do ye mind mither, that day I gade to the Pans I came in by auld Mattie's your countrywoman, the Fife wife, it cam' out o' the town ye cam frae, the wife that says Be-go laddies, I gade there, an she was unco kind, and made me fat brose out of the lee side o' her kailpot: there was baith beef and paunches in't; od they smell'd like ony haggis, and shined a' like a gould fac'd waiscoat: fegs I suppit till I was like to rive o' them and had a rift o' them the morn a day; when I came out I had a kite like a cow wi' calf; she spiered for you, mither, and I said ye was gaily; and she looked to me, and leuch, and gripped my shakle-bane, and said I would be a sturdy fallow yet—I looked to her, and thought I liked her, and thinks on't aye since syne: she leugh, and bade me seek out a coal driver for her, for she didna like to carry a fish creel.

Mither. Forsooth, Sawny, I'll gie my twa lugs for a lav'rock's egg if she binna in love wi' thee, and that will be a bargain.

Sawny. An upon my word mither, she's a sturdy gimmer, well worth the smoaking after; she has a dimple on every cheek, an haunches like a sodjer's lady's hoop, they hobble when she shakes, and her paps play nidlety nod when she gangs; I ken by her keckling she has a coneeit of me.

Mither. But Sawney man, an thou see her mither Matty in the town, auld be-go laddie as you ca' her, gie her a dram, she likes it weel; spout ye a mutchkin of molash in her cheek, ye'll get her mind, and speed the better.

Sawny. But mither, how sud I do when I gang to court her? will I kiss her, an kittle her and fling her o'er as the chiels do the hisses amang thc hay. I've seen them gang owre ither, and owre ither, and when they grip them by the wame, they'd cry like a maukin.

Mither. Hout awa, daft doug it thou is, that's no the gate; thou maun gang in wi' braw good manners, and something manfu', put on a Sunday's face, and sigh as ye were a saint, sit down beside her, as ye were a Mess John, keek aye till her now and then wi' a stowen look, and baud your mouth as mim and grave as a May-puddock, or a whore at a christening ; crack well o' our wealth, and hide our poverty.

Sawny. Ay, but mither there is some ither way in courting nor that, or the lassies would na couple so close to them.

Mither. Ay, but Sawny man there's a time for every thing, and that too; when ye sit where naebody sees you, you may tak her head in your oxter like a creesh pig; dab nebs wi' her now and then; but be sure you keep a close mouth when you kiss her, clap her cheeks and straik her paps, but for your drowning gang na farther down; but fouks that's married can put their hand to ony part they like.

Sawny. Aha but mither I didna ken the first word o' courting, the lassie I'll no ken what I'm com'd about.

Mither. Ay will she lad, wink and keek well to her, she'll hae a guess, seek a quiet word of her at the door, and gin it be dark, gie her a bit wee kiss when ye hae tell'd her your errand, and gin they gie you cheese and bread, or ony meat, be sure you ca't guid, whether it be sae or no; and for my blessing, be mensfu wi your mouth, and dinna eat unca muckle, for I've seen you sup as mony milk brose as would have saired twa men to carry on a barrow.

Sawney. Aha, but mither your'e lying now, for I never did it but ance, but an they set meat afore me an I be hungry, deil claw the clungest an I binna upsides with it for the same. Adeed mither, fouk maun hae meat an they should neer get wives, and there some of them no worth cursing, an a body werna setting an oath whether or no; a hear ye that now, when ye put me till't, and gar me speak, ay by my sooth, I would rather hae a bit good poney and a pund of cheese, or I were bound to bab after ony hizzies buttocks I see yet.

Mither. Wa Sawny man, thou's a fool, an that's a fault; gin every ane were as easy about women as thou is, the warld wad be a wilderness in a wee time, there wad be nae body to inhabit the earth but brute beasts; cats and dogs wad be worrying ither, and every thing wad gae to confusion. Gae to the courting, ye dog that ye are, and either do something or naething at a'.



Up got Sawney in the morning, and swallowed owre sodded meat flag by flag; and aff he goes to the eoals and the eourting, lilting and singing like a laveroek in a May morning—O to be married if this be the way.

The colliers wondered a' to see him sae well buskit wi a pair of wally side auld-fashioned leather breeks of his father's, and an auld ereeshy hat, mair like a fryingpan than ony thing else; a lang cravat like a minister or Baillie Duff at a burial, a clean face and hands, and nae less than a gun-sleeved linen sark on him, which made his cheeks to shine like a sherney weight, and the colliers swore he was as braw as a horse gaun to a cow's dredgy.

But Sawny eame off wi his eoals, whistling and whipping up the poor beasts, even as outrageous as ony ram at riding time; well might ony body see there was a storm in Sawny's nose, light where it like; for no sooner had he selled his coals, than he left his horse to come hame wi a nibour callan, and gad keekin up the Cowgate, and through the closses, seeking auld Be-go, his guid-mither to be; then in through the fish-market, where he bought twa lang herrin, and twa baps, a pair of suter's auld shoon, greased black and made new again, to make his feet feasible like, as he kend the lass would look at them (for his mither tell'd him the women looked ay to the mens legs or they married them, and the weel-legged loons gade ay best aff.)

So Sawny came swaggering through a the shell wives, but she was no there, going down the town below the guard he met auld Be-go just in the teeth, an she cries, Hey laddie my dow, how’s our mither honest Mary? Thank you, quo' Sawny, she's meat hale, aye working some—how's a at hame, is Kate and the laddic weel?

Matty. Fu' weel, my dow: ye're a braw sonsy dog grown, a wallie fa'me gin I kend ye.

Come, come, quo' Sawny, and I'll gie ye a nossack to heat your wame, it is a cauld day, and ye’re my mither's countrywoman.

Na, fair fa' you, Sawny, I'll nae refus't; a dram's better the day than a clap on the arse wi' a cauld shule, sae follow me, my dow.

So awa' shc took me, quo' Sawny, down a dark stair, to ane o' the houses bencath the yird where it was mirk as in a coal heugh, and they had a great fire. Sweet be wi me quo' Sawny, for it minds me of the ill part; an a muckle pot has a little cauldron, seething kail and roasting flesh, the wife forked them out as fast us she could into coags and caps, for there came in a wheen sutor like fallows, with black thumbs and creeshy aprons, that cutted them all up in a wee time, but they never fashed with us, nor we with them; we first got a gill, and then got a het pint. A vow quoth I, Matty, is Kate gaun to get a man yet?

Matty. A man laddie, wha wad hae her? a muckle, lazy, useless jade; she can do naething but work at husband wark, eard and spin, wash ladies rooms, and a gentleman's bonny things: she canna tak a creel on her back, and apply to merchandizing as I do, to win a man's bread.

Sawny. I think some of the fishers and her might mak it up.

Matty. A fisher, laddie! haith the fishers wad rather hae a piekle good bait to their hooks, and twa three bladders to their lines, than put up wi' the like of her, a stinking prideful jade, altho' I bore her, ay scourin and washin at hersel, priekin and prinnin keeps, her face ay like a Flander's baby, and naeless than ribbons and rings, and her shoon made of red clouts; a devil stiek pride, when our auld guidams ran barefoot, and our gutchers gade wi bare hips. Gie her a man! ill thief stap a gouk in her arse first, that may cry cuekow when e'er she speaks o't; she can do naething but seour ladies pishpots, and keep clean the tirlie-wherlies that hang about the fire: haith she's o'er gentle brought up to be a poor mans penny-worth.

Heigh how, quo' Sawny, and 'tis e'en a great pity, for she's weel-far'd lusty hissie; he had a great kindness for her.

Matty. A well-a-wat she's no lingletailed, she may be a eaff bed to a good fallow, but an thou had but seen me at her age, I was a sturdy gimmer; there was nae a Hynd in a Dubbyside could lay a corpen to a creel wi me, the fint a fallow in a Fife but I wad a laid on the bread of his back, and a' his gear uppermost, I was na a chicken to ehatter wi indeed laddie, for I had a flank like an ox, and a pair of eheeks like a ehapmans arse.

Sawny. Nae doubt but ye had a pair of beefy buttoeks, for your very cheeks hings like leather bags to this day; but I'll tell you what I'm gaun to tell you—do ye think that your Kate wad tak me, an I would eome to eourt her?

Matty. Tak you, laddie, tak you, faith she'll tak you, for she would tane a poor button thing of a half blind tailor, wartna me, a poor, blind, bowly, seabbit like creature; I've seen the day I wad hae carried him in my pouch. Wode I'se warrant her jump at you, like a fish at a flee, wad I say tak you, and she winna tak you, I'se tak you mysel, but she an I eust out the day about her cockups and black caps, gar'd me say muckle of her; but she's my sonsy dawty for a that; weel-a wat she's a weel-natured lassie, and gin she turn an illnatured wife I eanne tell.

Sawny. A well then I'll venture on her as she is, for my mither's pleased; an ye're pleased, an I'm pleased; wode I am sure to get her, an the taylor has nae bridled her; or tane a trying trot o' her.

Matty. But Sawny, man, I'll tell you what we'll do, I'll hame and broach her the night on't, an come ye the morn, we'll mak it fu' fast in a wee time, so thou's get mair tocher than a Cramon, gammon to gammon; she has baith blankets and sheets, a covering, and twa cods o' eaff, a caff bed and bowster, and hear'st thou' my laddie, I hae a bit auld hogger, and something in't, thou's get it when I die; but by my sooth it will be the last thing that I'll part wi', I kenna what I may need yet—it is an auld wife that kens her ain weird.

On this they paid their spout and parted; but when Sawny came out, he stoited and staggered like a sturdy stot: molash was chief eommander, for Sawny thought every body had twa heads and four een, and more noses than they needed, while in the dark house he sometimes thought it was the morning of a new day: a hech, said he, when was I a night frae my mither before; she'll think I am put in the guard, tane wi' the deil or the doctors, or else married, and working at the wanton trade of weans making.

Matty. Hute, daft laddie, the soup drink's in your head, and gars ye think sae, this day and yesterday is ae day: ye'll be hame in braw time yet.

Sawny. A well, a well then, good day to you, good mither; ye maun gar Kate tak me, or thicf tak you a thegither: I'll hame and tell the length it's come, and if it comes nae farther, it maun e'en stick there.

Off hc goes, tacking about like a ship against the wind, as if he would knock holes in the walls and windowss wi' his elbows; he looked as fierce as a lion, with a red face like a trumpeter, and his nose was like a bubbly jock's neb, as blue as a blawart: but or he wan half way hame his head turned heavier than his heels and mony a filthy fa' he got, through thick and thin he plashed, till hame he gets at last, grunting and gaping by the wall, when auld Mary thought it was their nibours sow, he was sae bedaubed wi dirt; by the time shc got him to bed, he was in a boiling-barrel fever, and poor Mary grat wi grief.

Sawny. Hech, hey! but courting be a curst wark, and costly too: an marrying be as mortifying and murdering, the deil be married for me.

Mither. Wa Sawny, man, what's come o'er thee now? thou hast gotten skaith, some auld wife has witcht thee, or the deil has dung thee o'er in some dirty midden; where hast thou been, or what hast thou seen; thae een reel like a wild eat's, and the sweat is hailing o'er thy nose; thou's witcht, thou's witch't, O man, what will I do.

Boek, boek, gaed Sawney; but it could na win up for bubbles and herrin banes. Oh, quo' he, keep me in my bed for my days will soon be done; a eurse on your courting wark, for it has killed me, and wives are but wicked things, I ken by the same.

Mither. O dole, dole, my bairn has gotten poison, for the smell of it is like to poison me.

Sawny. Gin herring and het ale be poison, there'll no be mony left alive. Boek, boek, Oh, quo, Sawney the bed's filed!

Mither. O my bairn, thou was ay a cleanly bairn till now; thou's surely lost thy senses when thou files where thou lies, like the brute beasts: thou never did the like of this before since thou left rocking of the cradle.


Poor Sawny had a terrible night o't, wi a sair head and a sick heart, his eyes stood in his head, his wame, eaddled like ony cow’s milks, and puddings crocket like a wheen puddocks in a pool; his mither rocket and wrung her hands, crying, a wae bc to the wife that brewed it, for I hae lost a weel foster'd bairn wi' their stinking stuff, a meikle deil ding the doup out of their caldron, my curse come on them and their whisky-pots, it's brunt him alive; ay, ay, my bairn he's gonc.

But about the break of day, his wind brak like the bursting of a bladder, O happy deliverance, cried Mary his mither; tho' dirt bodes luck, and foul farts file the blankets, I wish ne'er waur be among us. The next thing that did Sawny good, was three mutchkins of milk made into thin brose, and a pickle fine pepper in them, yet he had a soughing in his lugs like a saw-mill, and every thing gade round about wi' him a' that day; his mither gat him out of bed, and put him in the muckle ehair wi a' pair of blankets about his shoulders, a cod at his back, and a het brick to his soles, to gar him trow he was nac well, and therc he sat like a lying-in wife, cracking like a Holladdie, and ate twa dead herrin' and a crust, telling a the outs and ins about the bridal, and when it was to be, for he had gotten every body's consent but the bride's about it.

Mither. But Sawny, man, that's the main thing; ye maun hae that too.

Sawny. Na, na, mither, I'm the main thing myself, aye she's but a member; the men maun aye be foremost—gang what way it will, I'se aye be uppermost.

Mither. But Sawny man, what way is thou gaun to do? will ye make a penny wedding; or twa or three gude neebours, a peck of meal baken, wi a cheese and a barrel of ale; will that do?

Sawny. Na na mither, I'll take a cheaper gate nor ony of them; I'll gar-a-crown and half a mutchkin, or a rake of coals do it a', then a body has nae mair to do but piss and tumble into bed.

Mither. Na na, my man Sawny, I hae mony a time heard thy honest father say, that never a ane would do well that capstrided the kirk or cuckold the minister.

Sawny. A tell nae me, mither, of the minister, they're aye for their ain end as well as ither fouk, and if a poor beggar body had a bit wean to christen, the deil a beit they-ll seike him o't.

Mither. Hute awa man, there's na body has weans but what has siller to pay the christening of them; or if they be that poor, they sudna get nae weans, and they wadna be fashed syne.

Sawny. Ha ha mither. the poor fouk, like the lice, ay when they meet they marry, and make mae of them: and I think the ministers might christen their bits of weans for naething, the water's no sae scant; they are weel paid for their preaching, they may very weel baith marry and christen a' the poor fouks into the bargain, by the way of a maggs.

Mither. Ay, ay, my man Sawny, marriage is a sweet thing for young fouk, and the bed undefiled.

Sawny. What the vengeance, mither, do ye think a body's to file the bed every night because they did it ance.

Mither. Na, na that's no what I mean; it is the happiness that fouk hae that's married, beside the lonesome life that I hae, lying tumbling and gaunting in a bed my lane: O sirs, but a man in bed be a useful body, an it were but to claw anes back, as for a body's foreside they can claw it themselves.

Sawny. Ah mither, mither, ye hae fun a string again; I think ye might a wanted all your days, when ye hae wanted sae lang: ye hae plenty of baith milk and meal, snuff and tobacco; but ye smell at the crack of a whip, I kend my mither wad ride yet, for I've seen her fit waggan this lang time.

Mither, A dear Sawny man, an thou were ance fairly aff the fodder, I'll be cast into a hole of a house by mysel, where I'll just lye and break my heart, and weary myself to death; but an I could get a bit honest weaver, a cobbler, or some auld tailor by the tail, I would tackle to him yet, let the country clash as they please about it.

Sawny. A well, a well mither, tak your ain flight, there's nae fool like an auld fool; for the morn I'll be aff or on wi' the hissie I hae in hand.

So on the morrow Sawny got all his claes cleaned, his hair camed and greased with butter, and his face as clean as if the cat had licked it, and away he goes singing.

I will buy a pound of woo',
I will wash't and mak a plaidy,
I'm gaun ower the muir to woo',
Carlin, is your daughter ready.

Now poor Sawny, although he sang, he was as pale as a ghost from the grave; his face was whitely white, like a weel bleached dishclout, and he looked as if he had been eaten and spued again; but at length he came to the bride's door, and in he goes with a brattle, crying, how's all here the day? and what's coined of thy mither lassie? O Saunders, quo the bride she's awa to the town: what came of ye yesterday, she waited on you the whole day, ye gart her lose a day's trade lad, and she is awa this morning cursing like a heathen, and swearing Be-go that ye hae gien her the begunk.

Sawny. A dole woman, I took a sudden blast in the hame gaun and was never sae near dead in my life.

And wha think you was in company wi Kate the bride, but the wee button of a tailor, who sat and sewed on a table, cocking like a t—d on a trencher; but when he kent wha was come, he leaped down on the floor, coost a dash of pride like a little bit prince, bobbet about, and so out he goes, with the tear in his eye, and his tail between his feet, like a half worried dog.

Sawny. Now, Katie, do ye ken what I'm comed about?

Kate. O yes, my mither tell'd me: but I'm no ready yet, I hae twa gowns to spin and things to make.

Sawny. Hute, things to make, ye hae as mony things as ye'll need, woman; canna ye spin gowns in your ain house wi me, as weel as here, wi an auld girning mither?

Kate. But dear Saunders, ye maun gie a body time to think on't—'twad be ill-far'd to rush the gither just at the first.

Sawny. And do ye think I hae naething ado but come here every ither day hoiting after you, it will no do! I maun be either aff or on wi' you, either tak me or tell me, for I ken of ither twa, and some of you I'll hae, for as I'm a sinner, my mither is gaun to be married too, an she can get ony bit man of ony shape or trade.

Kate. Indeed, then, Saunders, since you're in such haste, ye maun e'en tak them that's readiest, for I'm no ready yet.

Sawny. Dear woman, when your mither and my mither's pleased, and I am willing to venture on ye, what a sorrow ails you?

Kate. Na, na, I'll think on't twa or three days; its o'er lang a term to see without a thought.

Sawny. Wode I think ye're a camstrerie piece of stuff; its true enough what your mither said of ye, that ye're no for a poor man.

Kate. And what mair said she of mc?

Sawny. Wodc, she said ye could do naething but wash mugs, and scour gentleman's bonny things, but hissies that is bred amang gentle houses, minds me of my mither's cat; but ye're far costlier to keep, for the cat wastes neither sape nor water, but spits in her loof, and washes her ain face, and wheens of you can do nae ither thing; and up he gets.

Kate. O Saunders, but ye be short, can ye no stay till my mither come hame?

Sawny. I've staid lang enough for ony thing I'm to be the better; and I'm nae sae short as your totum of a tailor, that I could stap in my shoe, sae could I c'en.

Hame he goes in a passion, and to his bed he ran, crying, O death! death! I thought the jade wad a jumped at me: no comfort nor happiness mair for me. O mither, gae bake my burial bread, for I'll die this night, or soon the morn. But early next morning in comes auld Be-go his guid mither, wha had left her daughter in tears for slighting of Sawny, and hauls him and his mither awa' to get a dinner of dead fish; where a' was agreed upon, and the wedding to be upon Wednesday, no bridal fouks but the twa mithers, and themselves twa.

So according to appointment, they met at Edinburgh, where Sawny got the cheap priest, who gave them twa three words, and twa three lines, took their penny and a guid drink, wished them joy, and gade his wa's. Now, said auld Be-go, if that be your minister, he's but a drunken b—h, mony a ane drinks up a', but he leaves naething; he's got the penny for diel a hate, ye might cracket lufes on't, tane ane anither's word, a kiss and a hoddle at a hillock side, and been as weel, if no better: I hae seen some honest man say mair o'er their brose nor what he said a' the gither; but an ye be pleased, I'm pleased; about in the bed ends a', and makes sure wark—so here's to you, and joy to the bargain-its ended now, well I wat.


Lewis XI, although an unprincipled Prinee, (of whom it was remarkable, that he did not seruple to perjure himself, exeept when he swore by the leaden Image of the Virgin) was yet very attentive to every eireumstanee that eould inerease the wealth and happiness of his subjects. He behaved with the greatest affability to sueh merehants whose superior knowledge eould suggest any means of extending the benefits of eommeree; and that he might engage them to be more eommunieative, he frequently invited them to his table. A merehant, named Mr. John intoxieated by the familiarity of the King, who very often admitted him in particular to dine with him, took it in his head one day, to request his Majesty to grant him letters of nobility. The King did not refuse his request; but when the new nobleman appeared at eourt, he affeeted not to know him. Mr. John, surprised at this unexpeeted reeeption, eould not forbear eomplaining of it: "Go about your business, Mr. John, I mean my Lord," said the King: "When I used to invite you to my table, I eonsidered you as the first of your profession; but now I would insult my nobles, if I would treat you with the same distinetion."

the end.

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.