Saturday, August 27, 2005
From Rob Roy, by Sir Walter Scott:
“This is a very singular contract of assurance,” said Mr. Owen.
“It’s clean again our statute law, that must be owned,” said [Bailie] Jarvie, “clean again law; the levying and the paying black-mail are baith punishable: but if the law canna protect my barn and byre, whatfor suld I no engage wi’ a Hieland gentleman that can?--answer me that.”
“But,” said I, “Mr. Jarvie, is this contract of black-mail, as you call it, completely voluntary on the part of the landlord or farmer who pays the insurance? or what usually happens, in case any one refuses payment of this tribute?”
“Aha, lad!” said the Bailie, laughing, and putting his finger to his nose, “ye think ye hae me there. Troth, I wad advise ony friends o’ mine to gree wi’ Rob; for, watch as they like, and do what they like, they are sair apt to be harried [i.e., plundered] when the lang nights come on. Some o’ the Grahame and Cohoon gentry stood out; but what then?--they lost their haill [whole] stock the first winter; sae maist folks now think it best to come into Rob’s terms. He’s easy wi’ a’ body that will be easy wi’ him; but if ye thraw him, ye had better thraw the deevil.”