ALTHOUGH we had put the mare in commission once more, we did not wander up Deeside beyond railroads any farther than Aboyne, Her Majesty was leaving Balmoral that morning ; and – Charles Cook, who now keeps the Huntly Arms at Aboyne had got his brother John, and Davy Troup to take the ribbons again for the day. It was quite like old times, seeing them work their four-in-hands with the Royal luggage-breaks and omnibuses into the station-yard. Alick was also there ; but attending to the refreshment-rooms is his present sphere of action. The Royal turnspit was the most troublesome parcel to deal with. He wheeled round on a pivot, and made his deliveries like lightning if any one tried to touch him ; and there was a council of four tall footmen over him for minutes on the platform before he was snared and hoisted with a jerk into the ” dog-case ” of the very last carriage.
We did not care to work up towards Ballater and Braemar after the West Highlanders, as we were going to touch them at three other places. West Highlanders or crosses with them begin to prophesy of themselves when you get beyond Kingcausie, seven miles up the Deeside. Up to that point, the dairy, which is supplied by Shorthorn crosses, blacks, and, in short, anything with an udder, has the pastures pretty well to itself Sir James Burnett, the owner of the second prize Stirling bull” Prince,” is true to the Keillor polls as Crathes Castle , and Mr. John Ross, of Park near Crathes, has been rewarded for his 101-guinea venture at Kinnellar by first prizes both at Banchory and Aberdeen.
The dairy system comes in again along the coast as far as Portlethen, where we get among the twenty parishes of Kincardineshire. Fifty years ago, the greatest portion of Portlethen was all whin and moor, and fed no sheep whatever ; but the reign of turnips has gradually extended, and hundreds of acres are now let for hogging black-faces off the Grampians. The Messrs. Welsh, father and son, of Inchbreck and Tillitoghills, and Gibb, of Bridge of Dye, are by far the largest sheep breeders and feeders in the county, and have, it is said, flocks of about 1,o00 to 1,300 half-bred, black-faced, and Cheviot ewes, which they cross with Leicester tups. They also feed off two-year-old wedders and black-faced ewes for the butcher to a still larger extent, and winter an immense amount of hoggs, of which three-fourths are half-bred, and a good proportion of the rest Lanark lambs. Mr. Gibb, we believe, does not feed two-year-olds to the same extent as the Messrs Welsh, who are also feeders of cross-bred cattle.
Mr. Walker was the representative of the seventh generation of that name in Portlethen ; near whose fishing village an ancient sea captain once erected a steading, and called it ” England” His farm marches inland with Kingcausie, and his Angus herdthe only one in Kincardineshire, save those of Sir J. S. Forbes at Fettercairn, Sir Thomas Gladstone’s of Fasque, and Mr. Farrel’s of Davograze close to the coast. About forty cows and heifers compose it, and, with the exception of a few females and a bull to be going on with, the young stock are always sold off as calves or yearlings. “Portlethen” keeps his own vineyard, and has looked out for the best crosses to begin with, and then rung the changes on his own tribes. We were just in time to see the last of Fox Maule, by universal consent the best Angus bull that has been seen in Scotland for many a long year. He was by Lord Panmure’s Marquis (212) from Bowie’s Matilda Fox by Cupbearer (59), a dam which never failed. Mr. Martin had been there the day before, and declares that he never killed a heavier beast save one, as he proved at 13i cwt. plus 13 imperial stones of tallow. It was a rare treat to see him come out, with every point so beautifully fitted into each other and bevilled off, and that ” neat Roman head set on Iike a button ; ” but he was nearly five years old, and had been sadly too chary of his duplicates ; and therefore the second-prize two-year-old bull at Stir-ling, the bloodlike Jehu by Duke of Wellington (219) from Young jean (295) by Captain of Ardovie (63), was now captain in his stead.
Mr. Walker seldom exhibits except at the Highland Society, Aberdeen, and Kincardine, and gets his full share of prizes, especially with bulls ; while “Tillyfour’s” strength lies very decidedly in his females. Dinah, Alice Maude, Beauty, &c., are the principal lady-patronesses of the herd, throughout which there are many traces of the old Pityot tribe, in the white below the belly and on the inside and sometimes the outside of the hock. Of white, which is not congenital, Mr. Walker has a very natural detestation. He has had two odd proofs of colour conceptionone in a bullock with four white legs and white on the breast, belly, and forehand, which were the precise marks of a strange cat which came about the place ; and the other in the calf of a heifer which was chased about the field by a medical man’s Newfoundland very shortly after service. The dog was sent for, to compare with the calf, and the white on the near fore foot, hind legs, and tail corresponded with photographic accuracy.
The herd was commenced by Mr. R. Walker in 1826 with Brown Mouth and Nackets, which were left him by his father. All the Brown Mouths had a brown muzzle, a yellow udder, yellow skin inside their ears, and sometimes yellow stripes down the back, and were not only good feeders, but great butter cows. The blackest-coated tribes will sometimes have a yellow skin, and it almost invariably denotes ” a fill pail.” This latter quality was very marked in the Nackets tribe, which were darker in their coat and smaller than the Brown Mouths.
Porty by Colonel (145), from the tribe of Rosie, ” a dowry cow,” whose milking sort had been in the family since ’82, crossed well with both these tribes. Colonel was a Nackets bull, with rather a brown back, and so crusty that he had three years of penal servitude in the plough. There was no Aberdeen show in Porty’s day ; but although he was rather small, his nice shape and peculiarly-fine bone brought him up first at Inverurie, and a cross with his own sister helped not a little to improve the quality of the herd. He worked on till he was nine ; and the next purchase, after a bull from Mr. Hector of Fernieflat, was Andrew (8), from Mr. Fullerton of Ardestie. Young Andrew (9), from one of the Brown Mouth tribe, was his best son ; and then Banks of Dee (12), a purchase from the late Sir Thomas Burnett of Crathes, gave the herd a strong prestige in the show-yards with seven firsts and a second. Marquis (212) was bred by Mr. Hugh Watson of Keillor, and was got by his Old Jock, who figures as (1) of the 336 bulls in Mr. Ravenscroft’s very valuable Polled Herd Book. It was with Marquis and Raglan (208) by Young Andrew that ” Portlethen ” stood second and third to M’Combie’s Hanton at Paris ; and he valued the blood of Raglan so highly, in consequence of his dam Young Miss Alexander (who died from inflammation of the brain through the scratch of a thorn) having only left one other calf behind, that he declined the Imperial offer of £230 and priced him at four hundred. When the bull came back he re-warded his owner for such confidence with Wallace (211) and the Duke of Wellington (219), the best bull one year in the yard at Aberdeen, and from an Ardestie cow.
Mr. Walker does not go very much into sheep, but keeps about fifty Leicester ewes, principally of English blood, round his house, and sells tups and draft ewes. He is also a great Dorking fancier, and had his breed originally from Gordon Castle, where great attention was once paid to it. With the exception of getting a few hens from Ury, and a first-prize cock and hen from Birmingham, he has kept almost entirely to the mealy light hackle of the old Gordon sort No pains have been spared, but he has had his crosses in the pursuit. Of an expensive setting from Staffordshire only six came out, and of these the foxes, one of which Mr. Fortescue brought to hand in the open last winter with three couple of his Orkney harriers, chose to appropriate four for their share.
Inside the house hang paintings or photographs of Wallace, Banks of Dee, Fox Matte, and Matilda Fox with Fox Maule at her teat. There, too, is Rory O’More, a first-prize winner at the Highland Society in 1847-48. At one time Mr. Walker had sixteen rather small, short-legged, and active work-horses on the farm, all by the gallant grey, and all of them after his colour. It is only three years since the old horse died, and he kept his beautiful shapes when he was upwards of twenty.
One was all for Shorthorns and the other for pummels ; but in their admiration of Rory and his greys Mr. Walker and the late Mr. Boswell of Kingcausie were one. The portrait of the latter hangs up at Portlethen, “in remembrance,” as the donor wrote below it, ” of many acts of friendship and good neighbourhood received from an old fellow-agriculturist.” Mr. Boswell was the highest example of an improving proprietor. He did not rely on mere length of purse, but he did every thing. at the cheapest and most substantial rate, and hence tenant-farmers regarded him as a really safe pioneer. As the youngest ensign in the Coldstream Guards, he had carried the colours at Talavera, and he was wont to tell how he bore quite a charmed life when two colour-sergeants fell by his side, and the flagstick shook in his hand under the hail shower of bullets. After his retirement from the army, he married, and spent fifty years of his quiet, blameless life between his two estates of Kingcausie and Balmuto. One writes who knew him well : ” In a careless time he was not ashamed of his religion, and not a few have borne testimony how in earlier years he helped to wean them from the follies of the world, and led them to better things.”
Only 250 out of 1,800 acres of Kingcausie were arable when he came into residence ; but ” the barren, barren muir ” had to yield, and hardly a hundred remained not under plough or plantation, when his hand was stayed, and he went to his rest. A lofty Greek cross, which is a well-known beacon to the mariner between Aberdeen and Stonehaven, has been built to his memory by his widow, on the very boundary line where the corn and turnips steal coyly up to the edge of the waste. Of a truth, Boswell’s staff stands where he fell. His nephew, Mr. Archer Fortescue, now farms Kingcausie ; but the heather acres have not been encroached on, and this last remnant has its especial use as a change of pasture for the hoggs, and a run of a few hours on it during the day while they are folded on turnips has a capital anti-foot-rot effect.
The Highland Society gave him a medal for his success in reclaiming waste land, and never did man set about his work more thoroughly. Some of the deep bog and moss he drained at six to nine feet, then filled it with stones to within three feet of the surface, and top-dressed the moss with the clay. The lighter draining was done on the Deanstone principle, thirty inches deep and eighteen feet apart, with stones at the bottom, topped with such only as would go through a three-inch ring ; and when some of the drains were opened a quarter of a century after, they were running as clear as ever. The trenching he let off at £10 to £14 per acre, and used the stones for dyking. In carrying it out, he never adopted any paring or burning, but always inverted the top sod and put it in at the bottom, and then ploughed up the field with four horses, fourteen inches deep. The first crop was oats manured with Aberdeen dung, which he bought for two shillings a load at the police auctions, and carted the seven miles during the summer.
Hay he thought quite as exhaustive as an oat crop, and wheat did not suit the land. Wall-building was one of his greatest delights, and he introduced Fifeshire workmen for the purpose. The walls were from four to four-and-a-half feet, with granite:; copings from his own quarry below The Monument, and joined by cement, They once overlapped about two inches, but this gave the cattle too much leverage for displacing them, and latterly half that projection was all he allowed. This work was, in accordance with his usual rule, paid for by the day, and done by an over-seer with picked men under him. There was no premium on idleness, as after half-past five in the morning, wet or fine, they were pretty sure to hear the smart canter of the grey cob in the distance.
He had no eye to planting for game ; but ” That’s death ! ” was his keeper’s infallible ejaculation, when he heard the crack of his rifle among the roe-deer. Plantations were an endless source of delight to him. He marked every tree for thinning in his farm rounds, and, when the humour took him, he worked lustily in his shirt sleeves with saw and axe. Larches had only a troubled time of it, as, although they were sound on the Dee side, they were all piped on the east ; and the gravel-pan did not suit them like the black peaty loam upon the yellow clay. Silver firs were his delight, but the bug injured them as well as the oak ; while the variegated holly, with its rich, red Christmas berry, “always stood my friend.”
Breeding of live stock was a very favourite pursuit with him, and he wrote the prize essay on it in the Highland Society’s Journal for 1829, under the motto of
” Te guava, magna Pales, et to memorande canemus, Pastor ab Amphryso.”
It was upon the comparative influence of the male and female, and enforced the doctrine that to the male we must look for improvement. He ranks Stirling of Keir, Robertson of Ladykirk, and Rennie of Phantassie as his leading Scottish authorities on the point. His judgment on his countrymen was sufficiently caustic, and certainly the comparison between them and the great mass of English breeders does not hold good now. ” A great breeder in England,” he says, ” is a great judge, and one who delights in improved breeds. In Scotland, commonly speaking, it means a man who has a great number of half-starved calves and miserable lambs.”
When he first settled in the North, the beasts were “knock-knee’d behind” and narrow. Soon after that, Sir Andrew Ramsay brought a few Lancashire cattle to Scotland, white on the back, with wide spreading horns; and then the doddies came in, “but still the calves cry back. With regard to the horse patriarchs, he ” cried back himself ” to the days when every grey was a Delpini or a Sir Harry Dinsdale, and every black a Sorcerer or a Thunderbolt. According to him, length of leg was a fault among the earlier sires of the district : Bethlem Gaber to wit, who belonged to Lord Aboyne, and “had the longest I ever saw”; and Buchan’s Blaize, near Crieff, who was an immense winner in spite of them. The Suffolk Punch which Captain Barclay brought down he passes over without much notice. Putting Bakewell rams to Highland ewes which had been bred in and in, or “owre sib,” till many of them seemed but a handful for a crown, was one of the earliest crosses he noted. Its effects were seen in lambs of the first cross making ten shillings and sixpence, and the wiping out of every trace of the degenerate dam ” except a shrivelled horn, which was rubbed off in winter.”
By way of testing whether it was more profitable to tie up or feed in open hammels, he selected, in ’34, eight two-year-olds and eight threes, on which to try the different systems at Kingcausie and Balmuto. Oat straw and yellow turnips were their fare, and the profit at the end of six months was very decidedly in favour of the younger beasts in the open hammels. He began shorthorns at the estate which came to him in gradual descent “from my trusty cousin of Balmuto” ; but, after all, cattle were with him an acquired taste, and his heart was with the greys. When he went to see his friends, Bates and the Maynards, and arrived back with a Shorthorn or two, the men at the Aberdeen pier would have wondered what had come over ” Kingcausie ” if there had not been a mare to unship as well. Two long Kirklevington days with “Tommy Bates,” who poured out his whole soul to him in the pastures and over the Duke of Northumberland in the calf- . house, were among his happiest in England. His first stock were dun and black horned Aberdeens ; then he kept a few polls, and crossed them with a Shorthorn bull ; and finally, he deserted to Shorthorns altogether, and always kept roans, if possible.
At the Highland Society, he only showed fat stock ; and he won in the younger class with a red bullock at Aberdeen in 1834. Lord Kintore’s celebrated black headed the old class ; and to insure him arriving fresh, he sent his own to Aberdeen a day sooner, and ordered his men to take on the van with the four grey mares to Keith Hall for ” the county champion.” ” It isn’t more than once in a life-time,” said he, ” that a lord or a farmer has a really crack beast, and every proper respect should be paid it by the neighbours.”
Chinese and Berkshire pigs were the “bacon makers ” he rejoiced in, on account of their aptitude to fatten ; but he was not very particular about breed, and, if the shape was just to his mind, he would buy a pig out of any litter. His sheep fancy was to have fifty black ewes, which he picked up where he could, but he never kept a black ram.. At first, he got two-pence or threepence more per pound for his wool, which was bought to mix for stockings. He also crossed Anglo-Merino rams with Leicesters, and drafted all those which did not hit to the Leicester form. The wool had a much more silky lustre, but it was his deliberate conviction that no strictly eclectic appetite would have cared for a slice of his mutton.
Grey Stanmore was his cart sire, and begot the renowned Rory from a Clydesdale mare of Mr. Walker’s ; and he kept a grey Arab to cross his pony mares. He had also a blood horse, Gouty ; and this chestnut’s daughter, Bessy, may be traced through Myrrha, Ellen Middleton, and Wild Dayrell, down to Wild Agnes. Matching horses in his break was a great pleasure to him ; and he pursued the same plan with his Shetland ponies, and sold the pairs at a capital price. His last speculation was an Orkney garron, whose price he nearly doubled when he had kept it a year. It was, however, this love of horses which hastened his end, as a young one ran him against a house and injured his knee-pan; and from that time the fine, hale form which had seen more than seventy summers began gradually to decline. His Shorthorns and Leicester-Merino sheep were sold some time before his death at Bourtree Bush ; and people still remember how he rode into the ring, and how, after reminding them of the meaning of a ” Bourtree gun,” he added that neither it nor a ” white bonnet ” would be at work that day. After this sale he merely continued the working part of some of his latest improved farms to the extent of about 600 acres of arable, Mr. Fortescue renting the turnips . and grass at the average rate of the county, and finishing off on them stock of all kinds which he had bred or bought in the Orkneys.*
“The Bush,” where the Defiance changed, was rife with old coaching recollections to Mr. Boswell. He never horsed either the Defiance or the mail, but he would often drive the former for a stage or two. On one occasion, while he and Captain Barclay, who was a great Shorthorn; ally of his, were discussing some moot point on the box, the pace insensibly fell off. In about half a minute, Davy Troup’s voice was heard from. behind” Mr. Boswell, Mr. Boswell ! ye’ll soon be at sax miles an hoor, and that winna dee avar” and so ” Kingcausie ” touched up the horses, and the Captain retorted for about the hundredth time by telling Davy to ” touch up your lingo.”
Mr. Dyce Nichol, of Ballogie, has taken up the Boswell system, and drained and clayed the moss on his estates adjoining the mail road which runs past The Bush towards the South. On the hill to the right is the white castle of Muchalls, looking down on old pasture, which has hardly an equal, save in some of the Home Parks near the Bridge of Dun. There is also rich grass and turnip land at Cowie and Megray ; but we only cared just then to know the whereabouts of Ury, which is on the higher road, and touches the east end of the Forest 0f Cowie, about a mile or so to the right as you enter Stonehaven.
The estate of Ury, &c., on part of which the new town of Stonehaven is built, contains about 4,000 acres, of which the Captain had 700 in his own hand ; but all has passed away from ” Barclay Allardyce,” as he was wont to sign himself, by purchase to the Baird family. His father was a man of vigorous will and industry ; and as a proof of it, he thoroughly improved 200 acres, reclaimed 200 more from heather, and planted 1,200 in the space of twenty years. In his speech at the public dinner which was given to the Captain A.D. 1838, in the Glen Ury Distillery at Stonehaven, he spoke much of the old man, and termed him a ” heaven-born improver.” The phrase did not apply to his grandfather, who was quite displeased with his son for carrying a bundle of trees on his back the fifteen miles from Aberdeen, and planting them in The Den of Ury. Protecting the plants, he said, would annoy people’s cattle and sheep, and he wouldn’t have them annoyed. This was just a year before his death, and allowance was to be made for the peevishness of age. When the Captain’s father succeeded, he went to Norfolk, where he had first graduated in agriculture, to look out for some good ploughmen. The bosom of the earth at Ury knew peace no more ; and turnips and artificial grasses appeared in due season.
There were at least 2,000 acres, of baulks, bogs, and rigs on the property, intersected with cairns of stones and muirland, and ” the lairds were more inclined to break each other’s heads than the, treasures of the earth.” A smile ran through the company when the Captain gave this out in his deep, solemn tones. They remembered how many men he had backed and trained in his time, and thought him a fine, philosophic compound of the two characters. It was a great festival, and nearly two hundred sat down on that July afternoon ; but the report of it, which the Captain kept framed and glazed, tells only too sadly that many a ” Flower of the Forest ” has been ” wed awa” since then. Another part of the Captain’s speech related to the half-offer which had been made him three years before, to be the governor of a colony of 300,000 square miles in New Holland. The company declared for Barclay, but the Government of the day were against him ; and all he knew was, that ” some invisible hand checkmated the whole concern.” There was a good deal of humorous speculation as to the Captain forming a cabinet. Deacon Williamson and Wetherell would have been very high in office ; port-folios must have been offered to the leading members of his Tommiad-Cribb, Spring, and Holtby-Davy Troup would have been Master of the Horse ; and of course his friend Kinnear, Attorney-General.
His breeding at Ury began in 1822, with the infallible ” Shorthorn not shorthorned,” as he always explained, and good-sized Leicesters. Then he bought in West Highland and country cows, and crossed them with Shorthorn bulls. For a long time he would sell no heifers, but he soon began regular bull sales. At first £8, and then £16, were thought great prices; when he got to £30 it was monstrous, and as for ’60, it was akin to a miracle. He was a very high feeder and Mr. Wetherell was wont to tell him that others would have kept twice the amount of stock he did on the same grass, and that his cows were very often far too fat at calving but on this point he was incorrigible. He bought bulls from Earl Spencer, and Mason of Chilton, but none of them were equal to The- Pacha and Mahomed of his own breeding ; and there is hardly a Shorthorn breeder north of the Firth of Forth who does not acknowledge himself under some obligation to one of the two.
At his sale, which took place on Sept.7, exactly two months after the Stonehaven dinner, Hugh Watson of Keillor bought the first lot, or the “No. 20, Lady ‘Sarah, 150 gs.,” of Mason’s sale. She was thirteen years old, and her price sunk to 40 gs., but her grand-daughter Lily went for 13o gs. to Mr. Allan Pollok, and seven of her tribe averaged 78 gs. This sale was a good one, and of course he took to ” Shorthorns not shorthorned” again, and kept them till a year or so before his death, when he gave them up, and merely fed some cross-bred beasts. He lacked taste in cattle, and was only an ordinary judge of a beast or sheep; but he had heaps of good sense, and docility to boot, and generally took his cue like a man from masters in the science. In Scotland, Hugh Watson and Deacon Williamson were very trusty counsellors in stock matters, and Wetherell and Jonas Webb stood high with him over the Border. He was not a ram breeder, and when he rather tired of Leicesters he took to Cotswolds, and began to breed in-and-in too much. Cheviots he did not care for, and he had a small flock of Southdowns which he crossed with the Leicester, and occasionally with the black-faced, and sold the lambs in summer.
When he walked his thousand miles in a thousand hours’ match in 1809, his man Cross went at him with a stick to keep him awake, and of course got dread-fully growled at. At that time, he was aide-de-camp to Alexander, Duke of Gordon and after two days’ rest, he went on the Walcheren expedition. He loved to be talked of, and nothing delighted him so much as when he met a regiment on march during his thousand hours, and the officer made them halt, and form in double line, so as to let him pass through them with all the honours. As was natural enough, he was very jealous of his hard-won fame, and never believed in any one, except himself, accomplishing the thousand miles, or in one-half of the ” fair heel and toe ” feats which he read of. When he was long past sixty, he thought nothing of sending a man on with his dress things and walking the ‘twenty-six miles from Ury to a friend’s, and back the next morning. His quiet thoughts on the road were generally believed to hover between Shorthorns and getting men into condition. Everything he had to do with, : down to his glass tumblers, was always on a gigantic scale; His cattle must be up to their knees in grass, and his wheat waggonswith four or six horses, and the drag onseemed like an earthquake to the Aberdonians, when they rumbled down Marischal-street to . the harbour. Well might the surveyor tremble by reason of them for the safety of the Old Bridge. His bull Champion was cut up for “refreshments” at one sale and when he thought there might be some mistake about the arrival of the regular beef supplies from the Deacon next day, he had twelve geese killed and spitted on an ashet before the fire. He would have his rounds of beef of a certain circumference, and it was because he despaired of finding a bullock- of the regulation size that he made Champion stand proxy,
The same spirit was seen in his management of the Defiance, He would have first-class pace, and he got it. The Union was ” the old original,” which first went from Edinburgh through Cupar Fife, Dundee, and Forfar to Aberdeen in one day ; whereas, prior to its establishment in ’26, the passengers spent the night at Perth. Mr. Croall of Edinburgh, and Mr. M`Nab of Cupar Fife, were the principal proprietors of it ; and when the Defiance began, on July 1st, 1829, the two often met at Forfar and raced furiously the remainder of the road. The Union was not got up in the same style as the Defiance, as every proprietor had his own harness, and there were no guards in livery. Barclay of Ury, James Scott of Edinburgh, Hugh Watson of Keillor, Donald Seaton of Bridge of Earn, and Captain Skelton of Kinross, were the first proprietors of the Defiance, which took the high road by Forfar, Cupar Angus, and Perth to Queen’s Ferry. Davy Troup, a protege of Captain Barclay’s, was one of the earliest coachmen ; and Henry Lindsay was such an active guard, that he would drop off behind, run round the coach, and on again when it was going its best pace. Twelve miles an hour, including stop-pages, was the regulation speed ; and it kept time so exactly, that half the watches in Stonehaven (the scene of the ten-minute breakfast) were kept by it. The horses were generally three-parts bred, and worth from £30 to £40 ; and Mr. Watson, who horsed the thirteen miles from Cupar Angus to Perth in connection with the late Lord Panmure, had a couple of sixteen-hand Yorkshire mules as leaders in one of his stages. More confirmed “merry-legs were not to be found in the whole 126 miles. Captain Barclay horsed three stages from Stonehaven to Northwater Bridge ; and each guard undertook one. Only a minute was allowed for a shift ; and the pace was so steady, that when the heir to a peerage, who was going to fight the Elgin burghs, fell asleep at Perth, and missed the coach, he never could sight it again in the eighty-four miles to Aberdeen, although he was turned out very little more than ten minutes behind it with four good posters. Seven o’clock was the time of starting from Aberdeen, but the Queen’s Ferry cut the time to waste, and Edinburgh was not reached before eight.
The first coaches had blue bodies, and red wheels picked out with straw, and cost £150 each in London. They were beautifully hung, and so low that they could not be overset ; but the draught was too great, and red ones from Wallace of Perth gradually superseded them. In 1838, the coaches were stopped a whole week by snow, at the time when a couple of wedding-parties as well as Ducrow and his troupe were blocked up at a public-house near Bervie ; and spotted horses and trick ponies were distributed with fairies, acrobats, and the like, among all the adjacent farms. Nine or ten mails were due in Aberdeen at that date, and the Cooks all but perished one night in riding on with the bags. Mr. Watson gave up the ,Defiance in ’36, but, with the exception of a very short interval, Captain Barclay’s connection with it was unbroken till the end. Then Mr. Seaton died, and his widow (who.. kept on the Salutation, at Perth) and Mr. Elgin took the ground between Perth and Cupar Angus. The latter had a stage of the Glassgow Defiance along with Mr. Ramsay, who came into the old concern ;; and as Mr. Croall had given up the Union and joined hands as well, matters at the end of the first week of 1842 were remarkably flourishing. The two Defiances now used the same livery and account-books ; and Mr. Croall furnished coaches with patent drags at so much per mile. In fact, there was only this solitary distinction left, that the Edinburgh coach retained its brass-mounted, brown leather harness, and the Glasgow its silver-plated, black leather. The Defiance never ran on a Sunday, and its take for the six weeks ending August 26th, 1843, was £2,216 3s. 8d. Of this, £1,422 10s. 7d. was divided among the horse con-tractors, who paid their own strappers, and the remainder went in tolls and mileage, &c. The tolls alone for that period from Quecn’s Ferry to the Bridge of Dee were £135.
Mr. Ramsay was then only four-and-thirty, and in the very zenith of his coaching enthusiasm. Sheriff and Fulton were his saddlers ; and if he ordered or did a thing to-day, it was the fashion all over Edinburgh to-morrow. He had started the Quicksilver against CroaIl to Newcastle, and the Tallyho from Edinburgh to Stirling ; he had bought up Steele’s business on the Hawick road for something like £4,000 ; he had built the May-day yard at Stirling, and stationed quite a colony of horses there for the Glasgow Defiance and the Rapid, which also ran from Stirling to Perth, but round by Crieff. At one time he had four pairs of beautiful greys at Forfar, and he would occasionally work the Defiance the whole journey when he was in the humour. The three Cooks, John, Charles, and Alick, came over to the Defiance with Mr. Croall, and Charles, and Davy Troup worked the coach from Cupar Angus to Aberdeen, while James Lambert and (on his death) John Lowden, another Union man, and little George Price, with his natty, blue bird’s-eye and pin, took the rest of the journey. Lambert had a great knack with his whip, and if he passed any pigeons or’ chickens on the road, he would turn round and ask a passenger which he would prefer for lunch, and as quick as thought whip it up on to the coach with his thong. The liveries were red coats with yellow vests, white hats, and silver-plated “Defiance-Aberdeen and Edinburgh” buttons ; and all the guards had patent time-pieces.
Neither John nor Alick Cook was such a musician as Tom Goodwin, who was on the Glasgow Defiance. Crowds used to gather round the coach in Perth to hear him give ” The girl I left behind me,” and ” The days when we went gipsying; and he threw such intense feeling into ” Rory O’More,” or, as his audience observed, “played it with all the gestures,” that, long after he became a landlord at Stirling, he went by no other name. Alick Cook was a smart little light-weight, and went about the coach like a needle. He was also a great cock-fighter, and at every thing in the ring. The Shadow ran several races in his name and he was generally looked upon as a sort of Racing Calendar guard ; well up in the likely starters for the St. Leger, and more especially in the moves of the green and yellow jacket of Barnton.
The birthday of the Defiance was kept with great state at one of the towns on the road, and the proprietors and their friends feasted out of the receipts, On one occasion the coach was dressed up with ever-greens, and the horses in flowers and streamers. “Alick Cook, music for anniversary, 4i,” was always an item on the debit side of the accounts for that month. The Captain invariably drove the coach on the dinner-day in a scarlet coat, and at night he was ready with his ” Trotaway ” song respecting the mare, who was on her legs like the shot of a pistol, and beat the bullet cleverly when she was there. The singer nearly lost his life after one of those festive evenings. He had not become habituated to gas in his bedroom, and on retiring to rest at Forfar he merely blew out the jet. Awaking nearly suffocated, he at once relieved himself in his crude, emphatic fashion, not by groping for the door, but by delivering “one, two ” straight from the shoulder, through the window-panes. He was not an elegant, but a very powerful man on the box, and even during his proprietorship he always fee’d both guard and coachman whenever he went with them. Davy kept the interests of the coach most rigidly in view, and spared no man if they were jeopardized. When the Captain slackened his pace in the midst of his conversation, he used no circumlocution, but exhorted him from behind to Gie as main of your fup and less of your claiver and when the Captain just grazed a cart, he was at hand in his Aberdonian Doric to caution and correct : ” Fat’s the use, Captain, of takking an inch on the ae side, fan there’s ells on tither 7″ A little Perth colloquy was overheard between them when the Captain had just finished his dinner at the Salutation. Davy was taking occasion to observe publicly that the Captain had “gat a braw red face; ” and he was receiving an elaborate explanation to the effect that it was entirely owing to the good dinner, and the glass of punch after it.
The Captain was unable to attend to the inner man so narrowly, when he had trained Sandy M’Kay, and was taking him up to the fight. People soon learnt who that ugly, slouching, round-shouldered man was, on the box-seat, dressed in a cutaway and top-boots, and why the Captain never kept his eye off him during dinner, lest he should exceed his three chops and a.: glass of ale. The poor fellow had a gloomy foreboding that he was being driven to his doom ; and when it proved too true, the. Captain had to get into a Dundee smack, and then hide for a time in Forfarshire till the Government tired and dropped the. prosecution. Five years before his death, the horn he loved so much ceased to be heard in Stonehaven; and in the last week of October, 1849, when the route was reduced from Aberdeen to, Montrose, the Defiance ran its last journey, and bowed its proud head to steam.
The Captain was, as one of his most intimate friends summed him up, “a great eater, of fine, simple faith, and always in condition. When he first met Hugh Watson it was at a coursing meeting, and seeing that he was a man after his own heart, he asked him, as if it was a highly intellectual treat,” Would you like to see me strip to-night, and feel my muscle ?” He denied no ” Pug” in distress, and when he gave his celebrated supper to the ” Fancy” at Tom Spring’s, there was such a gathering of the clans that the police looked in, and two or three guests were “wanted” in the course of the evening. To this day they speak of him as a departed pillar of the. profession. He trained Cribb for his Molyneux engagement on Scultie between Ury and Drumtochty, West from Stonehaven ; and the sight of ” lofty Moss Paul ” impressed him so deeply that he straightway confided to the coachman, “I should so like to train a man there.” For him scenery had no other significance than as an adjunct to condition. Jackson was often down at Ury, and they visited the late Lord Panmure at Brechin Castle together. This fidus Achates, Gully, Cribb, The Game Chicken, and Barclay himself in a cock and pinch hat and a yellow handkerchief, as he appeared when walking the match, were the principal adornments of his dining-room ; while little, fighting portraits of. minor lights, with shaven heads and broken noses, hung in the porch and hall. Snowball, the greyhound of the Wharram Wolds, and his dog Billy were also held in honour ; and formed part of his gallery of heroes, human, pastoral, and canine.
His dress was curious, but still it never concealed the high-bred gentleman of primitive tastes. He had generally a blue or yellow handkerchief round his neck, and a long yellow Cashmere waistcoat. In summer he wore a green coat with velvet collar and big yellow buttons, coarse white worsted stockings, as often as not a patch on his knee, and very wide shoes. The dog-days would bring out a white linen jacket and moleskins, and he had always a little quid of tobacco in his mouth, to which he gave one or two rolls before his long, measured speech began.
He once kept a pack of foxhounds at Allardyce near Bervie, the estate from which he signed himself ” Barclay Allardyce,” and hunted Kincardineshire and the Turriff countries, sometimes riding forty miles from Ury to a meet. Latterly he went to Leamington for six weeks during the hunting season, and made quite a sensation at one of the balls in his green coat and black knee-breeches. If, as he complained, some of his old friends had forgotten him in his yellow buckskins and venerable mahogany tops, which generally rested pretty nearly on his instep at the cover-side, they knew him fast enough at night. Of the Aberdeen races he was once a great supporter, and ran horses ; but all his comrades died off, and, latterly, beyond betting a trifle and having Fancy Girl at I’Anson’s, he was almost out of it. He was generally at Epsom, and he used to tell with some glee that the most nervous men he ever saw in a road-lock on the Derby day were two of the old Defiance coachmen.
At home his own habits were very quiet and simple. He was always ready with his subscription for any good object, and every Monday twenty or thirty people would be waiting for him about the front door after breakfast for their sixpences, of which he carried a supply in his waistcoat pocket. On New Year’s Day he had always his friends to dinner, and he sat obscured to the chin behind the round of beef which two men brought in on a trencher. Mr. Kinnear was the perpetual Vice, and every body made a speech. The Captain’s was quite an oration, or rather a resume of the year, and concluded with a special eulogium on those who “have died since our last anniversary.” Not unfrequently he killed one or two before their time, perhaps more from a little dry humour than by mistake ; and then he begged their pardon, and said, ” It didn’t matter much.” For some time before his death he had suffered slightly from paralysis, but a kick from a pony produced a crisis, and two days after, when they went to awake him on the May morning of ’54, he was found dead in bed. He lies in the cemetery of Ury about a mile from his old homethe trainer of pugilists with the gentle apologist for the Quakersand his claim to the earldom of Airth and Menteith seemed to die out with him.