excerpt from 'Rhymes and Recollections of a Hand-Loom Weaver, 2nd edition' pp. 32-35 (431 words)

excerpt from 'Rhymes and Recollections of a Hand-Loom Weaver, 2nd edition' pp. 32-35 (431 words)

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Rhymes and Recollections of a Hand-Loom Weaver, 2nd edition

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[Thom, his wife and three children were homeless and destitute following the closure of the mills in Dundee in 1837. He tries to earn money as a travelling bookseller]

[W]ere kept there [Perth] a few days by some old aquaintances, started thence towards Methven, sold little on the way thither, but were kindly treated by the workers at Huntingtower and Cromwell Park. The people there were themselves on limited work—indeed, many of them had none; yet they shared their little substance with those that had less. It is always so; but for the poor, the poorer would perish.

Just before entering Methven, I sold a small book to a person breaking stones for the road. After some conversation, I discovered he was musical, and was strongly tempted to sell him my flute. He had taken a fancy to it, and offered a good price. I resisted; it had long been my companion, and sometimes my solace; and indeed, to speak truth, for some days past, attended to certain “forlorn hope” whisperings, implying the possible necessity of using the instrument in a way more to be lamented than admired. […] The demand for our lodging-money [at Methven] was decided, and so was I. I took my woe-warn partner [wife] aside, whispered her to pick my flute from out our “budgets,” put on her mantle, and follow me. As we went along I disclosed my purpose of playing in the outskirts of the village.


 [W]e found ourselves in a beautiful green lane, fairly out of town, and opposite a genteel-looking house, at the windows of which sat several well-dressed people.


The sun had been down a good while, and the gloamin’ [sunset afterglow] was lovely. In spite of everything, I felt a momentary reprieve. I dipped my dry flute in a little burn [stream], and began to play. It rang sweetly amongst the trees. I moved on and on, still playing, and still facing the town. “The flowers of the forest” brought me before the house lately mentioned. My music raised one window after another, and in less than ten minutes put me in possession of 3s 9d of good British money. […] I had also a turn for strathspeys [a type of dance tune] and there appeared to be a run on them. By this time I was nearing the middle of the town. When I finally made my way, and retired to my lodging, it was with five shillings and some pence, in addition to what was given us.

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excerpt from 'Rhymes and Recollections of a Hand-Loom Weaver, 2nd edition' pp. 32-35 (431 words)


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