December 22: Peace Among Brethren

Another short piece from THE NEW YORK OBSERVER. The lesson needs no elaboration. The reader will please be patient with the attempted dialect.


A hundred years ago and more, a numerous body of Presbyterians who had seceded from the Established Church of Scotland, was split in two on a quarrel about a clause in the oath required of the freemen of certain Scottish boroughs, which expressed “their hearty allowance of the true religion at present professed within the realm, and authorized by the laws thereof.” The party who held that the oath might be conscientiously taken by seceders were called “Burghers,” and their opponents “Anti-burghers.” Johnny Morton, a keen Burgher, and Andrew Gebbie, a decided Anti-burgher, both lived in the same house, but at opposite ends, and it was the bargain that each should keep his own side of the house well thatched. When the dispute about the principle of their kirks, and especially the offensive clause in the oath, grew hot, the two neighbors ceased to speak to each other.

But one day they happened to be on the roof at the same time, each repairing the thatch in the slope of the roof on his own side, and when they had worked up to the top, there they were—face to face. They could’nt flee, so at last Andrew took off his cap, and scratching his head, said, “Johnnie, you and me, I think, hae been very foolish to dispute, as we hae done, concerning Christ’s will about our kirks, until we hae clean forgot His will aboot ourselves; and so we hae fought sae bitterly for what we ca’ the truth, that it has ended in spite. Whatever’s wrang, it’s perfectly certain that it never can be right to be uncivil, unneighborly, unkind, in fae, tae hate ane anither. Na, na, that’s the deevil’s wark, and no God’s. Noo, it strikes me that maybe it’s wi’ the kirk as wi’ this house; ye’re working on ae side and me on the t’ither, but if we only do our work weel, we will meet at the tap at last. Gie’s your han,’ auld neighbor!” And so they shook han,’ and were the best o’ freens ever after.

The New York Observer, 44.2 (11 January 1866), page 12, column 3, below the fold.


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