Imagens das páginas

mention that an Aberdeenshire dealer, who is still alive, had had large transactions with Brown. For many years the former brought in to Falkirk Michaelmas Tryst three score of fine horned cattle on the Tuesday, being the first cattle market-day. Brown had made an offer to the owner which was not accepted. The cattle were returned to the pasture. Next morning our Aberdeenshire friend “culled” from the sixty shown on the Tuesday twenty of the tops, and put in twenty for them from an inferior lot. He sent the sixty as now assorted to the market on Wednesday ; Brown bought them at his Tuesday's offer, and never dreamt that they were changed. The tops would have been £3 a-head better than the average of the lot.

When a mere boy, I sold Brown twenty bullocks at Brechin market for £10 a-head. After the market was over, we retired to a tent to settle; we had a glass, and Brown a cigar. He paid me in £20 notes. I observed that he gave me £300 instead of £200. I pocketed the money, thanked him, and gave a luckpenny. The transaction would not afford much, as the animals were 'grand 4-year-old oxen in fair condition. After we had talked over the market, times, and future prospects of the trade, for at least half an hour, and Brown had finished two or three cigars, we bade adieu, whereupon I took out my bag and said, “I believe, Brown, this is yours, and not mine," handing him the £100. I shall never forget the passion he got into about his stupidity, and I shall not put his language on paper. These two anecdotes show how the cleverest men will make mistakes, and Brown was one of the sharpest I ever knew.

I would be ashamed to relate the mistakes I have made when a lean-cattle dealer. I shall mention one. At a Keith market in April, I drew from the bank there what I thought was £800. It was handed over to me in parcels of £100 in £20 notes. I gave my cheque for £800, went to Elgin market, and bought ninety-nine

cattle in one day. They were bought in one's, two's, three's, six's, and seven's, eight being the greatest pumber I purchased together, and only one lot of that number. After the cattle were counted, marked, and put to the road - there was no railway then-I returned to an inn to meet my creditors, who made a formidable appearance. I was cautious, and afraid of errors in the numerous payments I had to make. I had a friend to calculate. I paid a few of the largest sums by cheques, the smaller by notes. I felt relieved when I paid for the last bullock. I had no doubt everything was correct. I came hoine on the Friday night, and on Monday I tried to prove my previous week's transactions, and found I was £100 short. I could not conceive what had become of it. I sent a servant express to Keith to see if all was right, explaining the circumstances. He returned with £130. I took it for granted that the £30 was all right as well as the £100, and that bankers were infallible. The same April market next year I again drew money at Keith, and afterwards dined with the banker. I mentioned to him that I was never altogether satisfied as to the £30. In the course of a few weeks thereafter I had a letter from the banker, saying that on the same day that I took £700 for £800 some other person was minus £30, and that I must have got it. I returned the £30, and said I was very glad to get clear of it, for I was never satisfied that the money belonged to me. Many are the inistakes I have made in business in my early days. We were in the habit of carrying a great deal of money, and we got very careless about it. I always put the notes at night below the middle of the bed, not under the pillow, as that is the first place a thief would search. I have repeatedly crossed the Cairn of Month at night, on my return from Falkirk, with thousands of pounds. I put the money always into my stockings, but latterly I paid my money into the bank at Falkirk, and got a draft on Aberdeen for the amount. I recollect one night I got

to hino. In the banker: 6 some

alarmed before approaching the summit of the cairn ; looking up to the top I fancied I saw an extraordinary figure of gigantic stature, with a cross beam above its head. I paused, pulled up my horse, and drew my breath. I was alone, and had a large sum of money in my stockings. At last I ventured on the unearthly statue. It turned out to be a harvest-man going home with a scythe above his head ; but on looking up to the summit, before I approached him, he looked larger in my eyes than twenty men. I did not break silence with him. The same night I met a large body of shearers going south, down the hill, which is about eight miles long. It was quite dark. James Ritchie, who was well known in the Alford district, was at their head. On passing he bawled out to me, “I thought you were a highwayman; but we were prepared for you.” I said, “James, he would not have taken much from you," and again passed on. I never crossed the cairn day or night but I met pedestrians.

Elliot was a Carlisle man, and so were the Millers. Elliot latterly became a Smithfield salesman, but died many years ago. But Robert M‘Turk stood, in my estimation, at the top of the tree. I have known him buy seventy score of Highlanders at the October Falkirk Tryst without dismounting from his pony. I have seen seventy-five score of Galloways belonging to him in one drove passing through Carlisle to Norfolk. I have known him buy from a thousand to two thousand of our large county cattle at Falkirk, sweeping the fair of the best lots before other buyers could make up their minds to begin. He rented large grazings in Dumfriesshire, where he wintered and grazed the Highlanders, and which, I believe, his relatives still retain. He was a warm friend, and very kind to me when I was almost a boy, and on a busy day he trusted me to cull the beasts he had bought from myself. I shall never see his like again at Falkirk or any other place. I have a vivid recollection of the stout-built man upon his pony, buying his cattle by the thousand; his calm and composed demeanour was a striking contrast to the noise made by some jobbers at our fairs in even the buying of an old cow. Although plain in manner, he was a thorough gentleman, devoid of slang and equivocation. He was the Captain Barclay of Dumfriesshire, and furnished an exception to my friend's remark, for he died in independent circumstances. He paid for all his cattle ready money.

The Carmichaels were another extensive firm of English dealers; they bought largely at Falkirk, Aikey Fair, and in the north. Robert Carmichael, of Ratcliffe Farm, near Stirling, was for many years appointed a judge of Highlanders at the Highland Society's shows. But we had also the Hawick Club, a set of giants,Halliburton, Scott, and Harper—a very wealthy firm; and James Scott died the other year worth seventy or eighty thousand pounds. As a company they seldom bought runts—a term by which our Aberdeen cattle were known to the English jobbers ; they bought large lots of Highlanders, especially Highland heifers, in October and November; but they were open at all times, when they saw a good prospect of profit, to buy any number, or any sort. I once came through Mr Harper's hands at a bad Hallow Fair with seven score of Aberdeen runts in a way I should not like often to do.

The business of the “ Club” was principally confined to the months of October and November, but individually they had large stakes in the country. James Scott was one of the largest sheep-farmers in Scotland, and one of the greatest buyers of sheep at Inverness. I could tell many anecdotes of the firm of Halliburton & Co., but I fear tiring my readers. I will, however, venture on one or two. As I have already mentioned, they were very powerful men. On one occasion Halliburton had arrived at Braemar, very tired, to attend the fair. He had fallen asleep on the sofa, and a thief was busy rifling his pockets, when he awoke, took hold of the thief, held him with one hand as if he had been in a vice, and handed him over to justice. It was told of James Scott, who was a very quiet reserved man, that once when he was in the Highlands he was insulted by a party of Highland gentlemen; from better it came to worse, and ended in Scott nearly killing every man of them. Halliburton was much respected, but he was a great declaimer as to prices of cattle falling when he was a purchaser. At an Amulree market he was very early on the market-ground. A soft-looking country man, well dressed, came up with thirteen very fine polled cattle, which Halliburton bought at a price that satisfied even him as to their cheapness. He took James Ritchie, an Aberdeen dealer, to see them. On hearing the price, Ritchie was astonished. “Oh," said Halliburton, “I have often told you, James, what country men would do, but you would not believe me.” The seller was very anxious to get the money, as he said he had horses to buy; but Halliburton told him horses were dangerous, and he must wait his time. He began to be suspicious that all was not right, and in a short time the seller was apprehended for stealing the cattle from Wemyss Castle. He was tried at Perth, and transported for fourteen years, and Halliburton and Ritchie had to give evidence. The judge said to Halliburton, at the trial at Perth, “ You surely must have known the cattle were too cheap.” Halliburton answered, "My lord, the next market would have proved if they were too cheap or too dear.”

The payments at Falkirk were all made through the bankers; there were always from four to six banktents on the muir. When I took payment for my cattle, I went generally with the buyer to the bank-tent. The banker calculated the amount, and received the money, which he put to my credit, and after I concluded my business I got the amount in large Commercial Bank notes. Latterly I got an order for the amount on Aberdeen. This avoided all risk of forged

« AnteriorContinuar »