Robert Louis Stevenson > A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods > XII. The Scotman’s Return from Abroad
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Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850–1894).  A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods.  1913.
  
XII. The Scotman’s Return from Abroad

In a letter from Mr. Thomson to Mr. Johnstone

IN mony a foreign pairt I’ve been, 
An’ mony an unco ferlie seen, 
Since, Mr. Johnstone, you and I 
Last walkit upon Cocklerye. 
Wi’ gleg, observant een, I pass’t         5
By sea an’ land, through East an’ Wast, 
And still in ilka age an’ station 
Saw naething but abomination. 
In thir uncovenantit lands 
The gangrel Scot uplifts his hands  10
  
At lack of a’ sectarian füsh’n, 
An’ cauld religious destitütion. 
He rins, puir man, frae place to place, 
Tries a’ their graceless means o’ grace, 
Preacher on preacher, kirk on kirk—  15
This yin a stot an’ thon a stirk— 
A bletherin’ clan, no warth a preen, 
As bad as Smith of Aiberdeen! 
  
At last, across the weary faem, 
Frae far, outlandish pairts I came.  20
On ilka side o’ me I fand 
Fresh tokens o’ my native land. 
Wi’ whatna joy I hailed them a’— 
The hilltaps standin’ raw by raw, 
The public house, the Hielan’ birks,  25
And a’ the bonny U. P. kirks! 
But maistly thee, the bluid o’ Scots, 
Frae Maidenkirk to John o’ Grots, 
The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, 
Talisker, Isla, or Glenlivet!  30
  
For after years wi’ a pockmantie 
Frae Zanzibar to Alicante, 
In mony a fash and sair affliction 
I gie’t as my sincere conviction— 
Of a’ their foreign tricks an’ pliskies,  35
I maist abominate their whiskies. 
Nae doot, themsels, they ken it weel, 
An’ wi’ a hash o’ leemon peel, 
And ice an’ siccan filth, they ettle 
The stawsome kind o’ goo to settle;  40
Sic wersh apothecary’s broos wi’ 
As Scotsmen scorn to fyle their moo’s wi’. 
  
An’, man, I was a blithe hame-comer 
Whan first I syndit out my rummer. 
Ye should hae seen me then, wi’ care  45
The less important pairts prepare; 
Syne, weel contentit wi’ it a’, 
Pour in the speerits wi’ a jaw! 
I didnae drink, I didnae speak,— 
I only snowkit up the reek.  50
I was sae pleased therin to paidle, 
I sat an’ plowtered wi’ my ladle. 
  
An’ blithe was I, the morrow’s morn, 
To daunder through the stookit corn, 
And after a’ my strange mishanters,  55
Sit doun amang my ain dissenters. 
An’, man, it was a joy to me 
The pu’pit an’ the pews to see, 
The pennies dirlin’ in the plate, 
The elders lookin’ on in state;  60
An’ ’mang the first, as it befell, 
Wha should I see, sir, but yoursel’! 
  
I was, and I will no deny it, 
At the first gliff a hantle tryit 
To see yoursel’ in sic a station—  65
It seemed a doubtfu’ dispensation. 
The feelin’ was a mere digression; 
For shüne I understood the session, 
An’ mindin’ Aiken an’ M’neil, 
I wondered they had düne sae weel.  70
I saw I had mysel’ to blame; 
For had I but remained at hame, 
Aiblins—though no ava’ deservin’ ’t— 
They micht hae named your humble servant. 
  
The kirk was filled, the door was steeked;  75
Up to the pu’pit ance I keeked; 
I was mair pleased than I can tell— 
It was the minister himsel’! 
Proud, proud was I to see his face, 
After sae lang awa’ frae grace.  80
Pleased as I was, I’m no denyin’ 
Some maitters were not edifyin’; 
For first I fand—an’ here was news!— 
Mere hymn-books cockin’ in the pews— 
A humanised abomination,  85
Unfit for ony congregation. 
Syne, while I still was on the tenter, 
I scunnered at the new prezentor; 
I thocht him gesterin’ an’ cauld— 
A sair declension frae the auld.  90
Syne, as though a’ the faith was wreckit 
The prayer was not what I’d exspeckit. 
Himsel’, as it appeared to me, 
Was no the man he üsed to be. 
But just as I was growin’ vext  95
He waled a maist judeecious text, 
An’, launchin’ into his prelections, 
Swoopt, wi’ a skirl, on a’ defections. 
  
O what a gale was on my speerit 
To hear the p’ints o’ doctrine clearit 100
And a’ the horrors o’ damnation 
Set furth wi’ faithfü’ ministration! 
Nae shauchlin’ testimony here— 
We were a’ damned, an’ that was clear. 
I owned, wi’ gratitude an’ wonder, 105
He was a pleisure to sit under. 

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