Culture and Elegance of Diction – March 1894

Unlike the Irishman (writes ALOS) who candidly owns he was spoiling for a fight, Gretchen disclaims all love of controversy and ambition of fencing in public and forthwith proceeds at great length to indulge herself in the very weaknesses she deprecates.).

Had she stated at the outset that it wasn’t the typical British farm but the Ayrshire and Cumberland farmers of whom she wrote, it would have excited no surprise, nor would she have laid herself open to the charge of a fancy picture. I have had large experience of both classes and have always looked on them as exceptional people with, as Gretchen says, very primitive qualities of their own.

Hailing from Dumfriesshire myself, it is here allowed on all hands that it is to the thrift and industry of the Ayrshire farming class who have come to reside among us that rents in this county have been raised and kept up to a figure that only they who attended to their work and nothing else could be made to pay. And to their honour be it said, they have managed to keep their heads well above water amid all the agricultural depression of the times. But, as for being representative of the farming class — well, well, Gretchen has settled it and sae let it be.

But the wonder is how, in the midst of her surroundings, Gretchen herself has attained to such breadth of culture and elegance of diction as she exhibits. She is evidently well bred in history both ancient and modern and able to take up the Hebrew grammar as a pastime. Writing with correctness and verve, one is tempted to think that, if she would be a little more logical in her discussions, she might not only throw a lustre on the “cut below” but be a burning and a shining light to guide her neighbours and friends out of the cummerian darkness in which she more than hints they dwell.

But possibly the inconsequence of some of her remarks may be due to that domestic critic who has evidently assisted in the function and has kindly ascribed to me the gift of reading “wi a gle-ed e’e.” May they both be blessed with the perspicuity of vision they deny to others so that when they come out as authorities on the ethics of the farming world they may take a really broad and liberal view of their subject.

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