The Provost

Author: John Galt

Chapter XXV—The Subscription

The calamity of the storm opened and disposed the hearts of the whole town to charity; and it was a pleasure to behold the manner in which the tide of sympathy flowed towards the sufferers. Nobody went to the church in the forenoon; but when I had returned home from the shore, several of the council met at my house to confer anent the desolation, and it was concerted among us, at my suggestion, that there should be a meeting of the inhabitants called by the magistrates, for the next day, in order to take the public compassion with the tear in the eye—which was accordingly done by Mr Pittle himself from the pulpit, with a few judicious words on the heavy dispensation. And the number of folk that came forward to subscribe was just wonderful. We got well on to a hundred pounds in the first two hours, besides many a bundle of old clothes. But one of the most remarkable things in the business was done by Mr Macandoe. He was, in his original, a lad of the place, who had gone into Glasgow, where he was in a topping line; and happening to be on a visit to his friends at the time, he came to the meeting and put down his name for twenty guineas, which he gave me in bank-notes—a sum of such liberality as had never been given to the town from one individual man, since the mortification of fifty pounds that we got by the will of Major Bravery that died in Cheltenham, in England, after making his fortune in India. The sum total of the subscription, when we got my lord’s five-and-twenty guineas, was better than two hundred pounds sterling—for even several of the country gentlemen were very generous contributors, and it is well known that they are not inordinately charitable, especially to town folks—but the distribution of it was no easy task, for it required a discrimination of character as well as of necessities. It was at first proposed to give it over to the session. I knew, however, that, in their hands, it would do no good; for Mr Pittle, the minister, was a vain sort of a body, and easy to be fleeched, and the bold and the bardy with him would be sure to come in for a better share than the meek and the modest, who might be in greater want. So I set myself to consider what was the best way of proceeding; and truly upon reflection, there are few events in my history that I look back upon with more satisfaction than the part I performed in this matter; for, before going into any division of the money, I proposed that we should allot it to three classes—those who were destitute; those who had some help, but large families; and those to whom a temporality would be sufficient—and that we should make a visitation to the houses of all the sufferers, in order to class them under their proper heads aright. By this method, and together with what I had done personally in the tempest, I got great praise and laud from all reflecting people; and it is not now to be told what a consolation was brought to many a sorrowful widow and orphan’s heart, by the patience and temperance with which the fund of liberality was distributed; yet because a small sum was reserved to help some of the more helpless at another time, and the same was put out to interest in the town’s books, there were not wanting evil-minded persons who went about whispering calumnious innuendos to my disadvantage; but I know, by this time, the nature of the world, and how impossible it is to reason with such a seven-headed and ten-horned beast as the multitude. So I said nothing; only I got the town-clerk’s young man, who acted as clerk to the committee of the subscription, to make out a fair account of the distribution of the money, and to what intent the residue had been placed in the town-treasurer’s hand; and this I sent unto a friend in Glasgow to get printed for me, the which he did; and when I got the copies, I directed one to every individual subscriber, and sent the towndrummer an end’s errand with them, which was altogether a proceeding of a method and exactness so by common, that it not only quenched the envy of spite utterly out, but contributed more and more to give me weight and authority with the community, until I had the whole sway and mastery of the town.


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Chicago: John Galt, "Chapter XXV— The Subscription," The Provost, trans. Evans, Sebastian in The Provost Original Sources, accessed March 20, 2019,

MLA: Galt, John. "Chapter XXV— The Subscription." The Provost, translted by Evans, Sebastian, in The Provost, Original Sources. 20 Mar. 2019.

Harvard: Galt, J, 'Chapter XXV— The Subscription' in The Provost, trans. . cited in , The Provost. Original Sources, retrieved 20 March 2019, from