Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Fiddling Minister

Peter Davidson, The Violin: Its Construction Theoretically and Practically Treated, p. 239:

A Fiddling Minister

There is a well-known anecdote of the gardener of Inverkeithing and the Rev. Ralph Erskine, of Dunfermline. The gardener desired to have the ordinance of baptism administered to his child; but having differed with his parish minister, whom he accused of worldliness, he resolved to solicit the services of the pastor of an adjoining parish. Reaching that clergyman's manse, accompanied by his wife carrying the baby, he enquired whether the minister was at home. He was informed by the maid-servant that the minister was a-fishing, but that he would certainly return very soon. "He may come hame when he likes," said the gardener, "but nae fishin' minister shall bapteese my bairn."

The party proceeded to another manse, but the incumbent was, according to the story, "oot shootin'." "Nae shootin' minister" would suit the enraged gardener, who now proposed that his spouse should accompany him to "guid Maister Ralph Erskine at Dunfermline, wha," he added, "I'se warrant, will be better employed than fishin' or shootin'." As the wanderers approached Mr. Erskine's residence, they heard the notes of a Violin, and the distressed gardener at once concluded that the Rev. gentleman was from home. "The minister's nae at hame, I see," said he, addressing Mr. Erskine's servant. "The minister is at hame," said the girl, "an' dinna ye hear? He's takin' a tune to himsel' on the Fiddle; he tak's a tune ilka evenin'." The gardener was almost frantic with disappointment and vexation. "Could I hae believed it," exclaimed he, "that Maister Ralph Erskine wad play on the Fiddle!" he was somewhat relieved by learning that Mr. Erskine did not use the ordinary instrument, but the Violoncelloe -- "the big gaucy Fiddle!" "But," he added, "I maun admit that oor ain minister, though wrang in some things, is better than the lave o' them; for he neither fishes, nor shoots, nor plays the Fiddle."

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