The age we live in
[Extract taken from The Humour of Druid's Island by Archibald McIlroy (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co. Ltd.; Belfast: W Mullan & Son, 1902)]
"It's a terr'ble, whirlin', birlin', hurry-scurry age that we're leevin' in," said the widow, on one occasion, to her friend.
"There's nae sic thing as rest or peace onywhor; but iverybody's racin' an' chasin' an' tearin' alang as if the de'il was at their heels."
"It's ower a'," replied Mrs. Donaldson. "For my part, a feel thankfu' tht my journey's nearly ended; for a maun confess that a'm just no' able tae keep up wi' the folk nooadays or conform tae their new-fangl'd w'ys."
"Sang, it's lamentable," said the widow, "when ye think o' it calmly. Surely the latter days are near at han', for the worl's spinnin' roon like a peerie.
"Express trains rushin' along at the rate o' sixty mile an hoor; steamers racin' through the ocean sae fast that they af'en rin yin anither doon, a'though ye would think the sea was braid an' wide eneugh for them a'. Telegrams an' telephones an' fleein'-machines an' motor-ca-ars an' war-ships driven by electric licht mdash; a tell ye, the worl' has gone mad a'together."
"An' then these bicycles," said Mrs. Donaldson; "why, they're a danger tae life an' limb; an' naebody's safe ootside their own do'r.
"Even the minister goes scurryin' alang mdash; helter-skelter, up hill an' doon brae, his coat-tails fleein' in the air; an' nixt comes the wife after him on hers. Dod, a think if they met the Master Himsel' on the road, they'd be ower the top o' Him afore they could stap."
"Weel," said the widow, "a mak it a rule tae be charitable, an' a'll say naethin' again the bicycle for men; but this a wull say, that for weemen it's maist unbecomin'; an' a niver see a female astride her machine that a dinna blush for my sex."
"Ay, but even the weemen's naething like what they used tae be," said Mrs. Donaldson. "There's no' yin in ten o' them that can settle doon tae ony hoose-wark at hame; but they go cyclin', an' golfin', an' playin' tennis, or some ither deevil's invention, an' lea' their mothers tae bake the breid.
"A hear'd Mrs. Hamilton talkin' no' lang since o' her dochters that are just hame frae a boordin'-school; an' she was boastin' o' the gracefu' w'y they could sweep intae a room.
" 'But,' says I, 'could they sweep oot a room?' says I. 'That's what a would like tae know.' An the mother wasna half pleased."
"An' the w'y they dress," said the widow, with a scornful tone, "why it's ower a'. It used tae be that weemen arrayed themsel's wi' becomin' modesty; an' as they advanced in life they grew mair sober baith in dress an' demeanour; but nooadays mdash; why, ye need tae put on yer specks tae ken young lasses frae their mothers.
"Weemen o' sixty an' ower 't are flouncin' aboot wearin' sailor hats an' short ticht-fittin' jackets ower blouses; an' ye'll actually see gran'mothers whirlin' alang on their bicycles mdash; augh, it's eneugh tae mak' their ancestors turn in their graves."
"Iverythin's hurried and iverybody's in a hurry," said Mrs. Donaldson; "there's nae time for onythin'.
"Folk canna ask ye for a comfortable cup o' tea as they used tae dae; but it's an afternoon cup in yer han', that ye spill a' ower yer claes, at five o'clock, so as that they can get rid o' ye at six, an' prepare for somethin' else.
"There's nae kin'ly, frien'ly feelin' amang folk like what there use't tae be; but ye'r principal duty tae yer niber seems tae be tae keep yer ee' on him."
"Even releegion's drivin' by steam-power," said the widow. "The sermon's cut short, or the folk'll no stay tae listen till't. Then there's nae time for readin' or meditation in the Sabbath afternoon or evenin', for it's a' conteenual runnin' tae Sabbath-schools an' Gospel-halls an' tent meetin's: ivery whor an' onywhor that there's onything excitin' or new. They're tearin' awa' the guid auld pulpits, as well as the do'rs off the pews, putin' in coloured wundas an' makin' the sanctuary like a play-hoose."
"An' then, there are sae mony sects an' diveesions amang them," said Mrs. Donaldson, "that a sumtimes think it'll tak' the Almichty busy tae ken wha are His ain an' wha are no'. There's Dippers an' Shakers an' Salvationists, Brethren mdash; open an' close mdash; Faith-Healers, Pilgrims, an' The Lord's own mdash; Sang, the Recordin' Angel will require tae be smert wi' the pen."
"He'll need tae be able tae write short-han'," said the widow.
"A declare tae my clogs," said Mrs. Donaldson, "but a think folk'll soon no' hae time tae dee."
"It has even come tae that already," said the widow. "It's out o' the fashion noo for folk tae dee in their beds; but they drap down as they're racin' tae catch a train or boat, for they maun leeve in gran' villas ootside the toon or at the saut water, instead o' abidin' ower their shaps as they used tae dae, an' enjoyin' some misure o' contentment an' peace."
"Nooadays folk's hale life's spent in hurry: they leeve in a hurry, an' dee in a hurry; they're buried in a hurry; an' their nearest an' dearest are in a hurry tae lay aside their mournin' an' forget them; an' my prayer for them is that they may fin' some rest in their graves, for they hae had nane in life."
"An' may God hae mercy on's a'," said Mrs. Donaldson. "He in whose eyes one day is as a thousand years, an' a thousand years as one day."