1. Lay bye yer jeers, ye menseless pack, Nor scorn puir Johnny 'hint his back What though he's gi'en the bell a crack, An' spoilt its tone, Ye maybe ha'e made some mistak' As weel as John. 2. He's wae, an' unco wae, aboot it, An' owre an' owre again he's viewed it - Oh, if Will Kid could ha 'e but glu'd it Like a fir deal, Or Anderson, the tailor, sewed it, It would be hale. 3. It was his pride, baith air an' late, To wap it at a dreadfu' rate, 'Till nei'bo'r Carnie, wast the gate, His silence brak' Syne Johnny fear'd Kilsyth was beat Whan Carnie spak'. 4. But folk s'ou'd use ilk lawfu' mean Tae mend a fau't whaure'er 'tis seen - Sae, wi' his specks drawn owre his e'en Tae help his sicht, He fand the tongue, though glib an' keen, Was rather licht. 5. He added length, he added wecht, Syne stripped like ane gaun in tae fecht, An' tae the tow, an' drew an' pecht, Till foul a bit Carnie's great don, for a' his heicht, Maun knuckle yet. 6. Here wad I like tae drap my story, An' leave Bell Johnny in his glory j Yet I maun say't, though unco sorry The truth tae tell Wi' some hard skelp drawn in a hurry He crack't the bell. 7. Weel, since it's gaen, e'en let it gae- Wha kens but it's been ordered sae ! There's ae thing clear, the de'il's a fae Tae kirks themsel's Sae what conceit can Nickie ha'e Tae hear their Bells? 8. Yet, mony a reverend lyart pow, Wha ne'er thocht muckle o' its jow, Is prood tae hear auld "lint an' tow" * Resume his sang; I trust nae elf nor wirricow Will do him wrang. * The Auld Kirk Bell. 9. But Johnny's sic a man o' merit, Blest wi' a great aspirin' spirit ; Wee auncient thing, he downa bear it, Nor bide its knell There's some folk says he's gone deleerit Aboot his Bell. 10. He ran tae Paisley like a hare, In hopes of information there How he the damage might repair By operation :- What could an honest man do mair In Johnny's station?
The Village of Chryston - North Lanarkshire - Scotland
11. But how or what the creature did He for the maist pairt keepit hid, Though mony a clash an' rousin' whid Gat ready vent The Bell his never yet got rid O' its complaint. 12. He took the extra wechts awa' Afore he gaed the tow a draw ; Syne, up an' doon, wi' canny ca' He steer't his haun ; Till, Guid preserve us, ane an' a' ! There's something fa'n. 13. While tuggin' at the tether en', Ae nicht as he was ringin' ten, Something played crash ! I dinna ken Wha we can blame, For feckly a', but Nickie-Ben, Were snug at hame. 14. The din was heard a mile an' mair, An' mony a ane was freichtet sair; Johnny cour't doun, in dark despair, Tae say the creed; For thochts o' gettin' doun the stair Were oot his heid. 15. Then hunners ran at ithers' heels, A set o' souple clever chiels, Fearless o' either ghaists or de'ils, Till he was seen Sittin' in waefu' dishabille, Yet ticht an' clean. 16. The crack was gaun a' through the toun How John had drawn the steeple doun - But weary fa' the faithless loon Wha rais'd the lee ! It's staunin' yonner, hale an' soun', As you can see. 17. 'Twas some back wecht aboot the Bell, Its proper use I canna tell, But Johnny could explain't himsel' If he thocht fit; An' aye the mark o't, whaur it fell, Is staunin' yet. 18. The news aboot the din an' skaith Is spread through toun an' kintra baith ; The rhymin' tribe, I'll gi'e my aith Wi' youky crouns, Ha'e sharpet up their scribblin' graith Tae write lampoons. 19. These deeds o' Johnny cou'dna please. But held the parish in unease, Till ane wha gravely oversees, Did interfere. An' twin'd pair Johnny o' the keys Oh, dear ! oh, dear !
[Kilsyth, like other towns, had its factotum, an important functionary who, in this case, thought himself accountable for the conduct of the church bell, which was nearly new. Some wicked wags, knowing how much he plumed himself on the new bell, broadly asserted, with the intention of hurting his feelings, that Kirkintilloch bell, when rung, made the greater noise. Determining to shut for ever the mouths of the scoffers, he called into action his mechanical knowledge, and increased the weight on the bell to such an extent that he fractured it. The catastrophe took place after the bell was a few months up: this poem was written immediately after. Kirkintilloch steeple, the " Carnie " of verse three, was not adorned with a clock and bell till several years after it was erected.]
Walter Watson
The Chryston Poet